Posts tagged ‘Fox’

The Last Man On Earth

I originally had no interest in this show, but I decided to give it a try because I heard through the grapevine that it was good, that it was funny and that it was rather well written.

It might be well written, but it’s written well enough to make me actively dislike both of the main characters.  And if I don’t like the only two characters in a show, I won’t be watching the show.

I did consider it watchable until Kristen Schaal appeared.  From that point, none of the interactions between the characters were even enjoyable, let alone humorous.  If I ended up in Will Forte’s shoes, I would eventually be forced to treat her the way Walter treated Genevieve in Ray Bradbury’s “The Silent Towns.”

When I get a total of zero laughs out of the first two episodes of a new (supposed) comedy, there’s no point in me wasting any further time watching it.  So much for that.

 

X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Pfffft.  Not bad, but not great either.  I had a similar feeling towards this as I did when I saw Inception: it was nowhere nearly as groundbreaking nor as mindfuckery as the hype led me to expect.  In one respect I feel cheated, thinking that I should’ve waited to watch this until the supposed extended cut is released next year.  Not quite as bad as The Last Stand, but certainly never came close to being as good as First Class.  Yawn.  When I see the sentinels on screen, I don’t think ooooh what a nasty and compelling threat, I think ooooh mediocre CGI.  And Peter Dinklage was utterly wasted in his role.  Oh well.

At some point I really need to sit down and watch Superman Returns to see if it’s actually as bad as people tell me it is.  I miss the Bryan Singer that gave me The Usual Suspects.  Man, what happened to you?

 

American Horror Story: Freak Show

WOW!

Disclaimer: I have not seen any prior episodes of American Horror Story.  I know the basic premise, that each series is a new story, but I’ve never seen Murder House, Asylum or Coven.

Still … WOW!

Beautifully shot – I absolutely adore the cinematography and the split screens.  I really miss ol’ ’70s style split screens.  And Jessica Lange is fantastic.  “Oh no, my darling, you are confused.  You liked it here with us.  No … no … you LOVED it.”

Overall, the first episode is far more creepy than scary.  Get under your skin creepy.  Basically Twin Peaks style creepy.  I would probably consider it scary if I had issues with clowns.

This is almost as if David Lynch and Mark Frost decided to remake Tod Browning’s Freaks as a 13 episode miniseries.  I kinda get the feeling this is pretty close to the kind of series that Carnivale aspired to be.

“It’s a godawful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mommy is yelling no
And her daddy has told her to go”

Holy shit, this just turned fantastic!

 

New Girl

I adore Zooey Deschanel enough that I thought I could watch her in anything.  She was the only reason I was able to make it through the insipid Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy film.  But no.  Three entire episodes of New Girl didn’t make me laugh at all.  Yet somehow this waste of time is the first new series to get a full season order.  How?  And why?

Actually, to be honest: two and a half episodes … I had to give up on the show halfway through the third episode.  I went out of my way to give it one last chance, but it was so bad it gave me a headache.

And really, what’s the point of having your star (who happens to be an accomplished singer) sing the theme tune when you’re only playing it for ten seconds?  That’s a perfect example of what a waste this show is.

Terra Nova

Okay, I’m a big sucker for time travel stories … I’m a sucker for dinosaurs … and I’m a sucker for science fiction in general … but this series (based on what I saw of the first two episodes) is complete and utter unmitigated crap.  Had I known Brannon Braga was involved, I never would’ve even bothered with it.  Some thoughts on a show I’ve started calling Terrible Nova:

1) In a future society that equates overpopulation with extinction, why would they bother taking people who violated the overpopulation laws and throw them in prison?  That still leaves the society with an extra unwanted person using up the planet’s almost-gone resources.  It makes more sense that violating such laws in a Soylent Green-ish society would result in mandatory capital punishment for the offenders.

2) Breaking out of a maximum security prison and breaking into another maximum security facility is going to require a LOT more than one small fancy cutter-beam thingy.

3) They identified the “time fracture” as leading to 85 million years in the past.  And once they’re in the past, they talk about the probe that they originally sent through the time fracture … the probe that they never found again back in the future!  So … if they never found it again … and if the time fracture is a one way trip (there were references to “once you go through, you’re not coming back”) … then how did this future society actually know that the time fracture leads back into the past?  How do they know how far it leads back into the past?  The fact that they know anything implies that there is some sort of two way communication between the future and the past, so it’s either not a one way trip or it’s not an “alternate timestream.”   [I wrote that before Stephen Lang’s character confirms in the second episode that yes indeed they can communicate back with the future.]

4) “Alternate timestream” my ass. That’s Brannon Braga’s piss poor stoopid attempt at sci-fi exposition.  Dumbass.

5) Now, if the time fracture really does connect to 85 million years in the past — and this has been the real selling point of the series as far as Fox’s marketing hype is concerned — then FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET YOUR DINOSAURS RIGHT!  85 million years ago was the tail end of the Cretaceous period.  Allosaurs and brachiosaurs lived about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.  Triceratops lived at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago.  When my fourteen year old son is disgusted that they got something that fundamentally important wrong, you know there’s a serious problem with the show.  Unless you want to use the “alternate timestream” crutch as an excuse for “getting your science wrong.”  In that case, it becomes exactly that: a crutch and an excuse.

6) As part of the camp’s defense, are those supposed to be sonic weapons up on the walls?  They appear to fire a coherent blast of something … but they recoil?  A sonic cannon would NOT recoil.  I have enough trouble imagining it creating a visible coherent blast of something, but I cannot envision it recoiling.  Yes, it’s nice and dramatic to watch, but when you start thinking about it, it’s just … stoopid.

7) Okay, they are the new frontier, right?  Blazing new trails for humanity, right?  85 million years in the past, right?  No roads there (until they take the time and effort to build them), right?  Then why is it that ALL of their vehicles are four-wheelers with tires?  I’d expect them to focus on tracked vehicles, since tracked vehicles can handle rough unhewn terrain far better than wheeled vehicles.  Nope.  Stoopid.

8) Why couldn’t they just play the premiere more straightforward?  Why bother introducing the other camp this soon?  Why bother introducing the whole “leader’s son went off the deep end and knows the REAL truth” this soon?  Focus the first episode wholly on the changes the family needs to make in adjusting from the repressive future society to the repressive Terra Nova camp.  Then take your time with more subtle introductions of the other aspects of the story across subsequent episodes to build up the intrigue.  Characters first, concept second.  Develop characters we care about first, then let the characters sell us the concepts.

9) Most importantly, there’s not a single character that I find likeable or sympathetic on the show.  They could all be torn to bits or eaten alive and I honestly would not give a damn.  Actually … that would be a nice bit of Must See TV … a very special Terra Nova …..

Now I will take a moment to point out two things I think they did right.  The first time I saw how the camp was laid out, I immediately wanted it to be ravaged by a flock of pterosaurs — it appears to be nicely defended against ground critters, but it’s completely vulnerable from the air.  Lo & behold, that’s exactly what happens in the second episode … only the pterosaurs are too small and nowhere near deadly enough.  And it was nice to see them address the increased oxygen content of the past atmosphere, having the medical teams stand by to take care of that when the people first come through the stargate … er … “time fracture.”

So here we have Avatar meets Land Of The Lost.  Honestly, I think the original Land Of The Lost series was a lot more intelligent and better written than Terra Nova.

Unstoppable (2010)

This film gave me a migraine.  I’m very glad I saw it on the small screen, not the big one.

I usually like Tony Scott’s films.  He doesn’t make great films, but they’re usually flashy enough to be fun to watch, and I can usually appreciate his intriguing choice of camera angles if I can’t appreciate the missing character development or the abysmal dialogue.  Knowing what I was in for, I took a healthy dose of aspirin before we popped in the DVD.  It helped a little, but not enough.

With Unstoppable, my interest in Scott’s fluidly spiraling camera movements only lasted an hour.  After that, I kept thinking to myself, “Oh get on with it.”

I never saw any trailers for the film.  Never really paid attention to any synopses.  All I knew about the film ahead of time was that it was directed by Tony Scott and starred Denzel Washington.  And Chris Pine, my daughter kept reminding us.  And it’s about some sort of runaway train.  So … safe assumption then that every attempt to stop said train will fail until Washington & Pine figure out a way to catch up to it.  Yep.  Which in turn makes potentially exciting set pieces boring because we know how they’re going to turn out, which ends up with me thinking to myself, “Oh get on with it” that much more.

I honestly could not care less about Pine’s character’s domestic problems.  It was all totally irrelevant, seemingly stuffed into the script as some sort of half-assed attempt at character development.  Maybe it would make a difference if his wife and son were actually developed as characters … but no.  Oh get on with it.

And every time I was almost getting caught up in the story, we jumped to fake Fox news coverage of the impending disaster, which ripped me right out of it again.  Given the exaggerated descriptions of what would happen if the train went kablooey, would reporters and news helicopters actually be that close to the action?  I understand that good reporters will do whatever they can to nail the story, but stoopidly standing or hovering well within skin-melting fireball range (along with scores of police officers and fire fighters)?  They’re frequently close enough to be hit by the passing train long before they’re roasted in the hellacious fireball of doom.  This totally undermined my suspension of disbelief.  They talk about various evacuations … yet the townspeople are all still out there, gawking at Satan’s locomotive of death as it races towards them.  Yep … again, oh get on with it.

I can’t help thinking there must be some kind of fantastically tense R-rated director’s cut out there somewhere, and maybe the studio demanded that Scott cut it down to deliver a PG-13 rating and insert the Fox news bits as blatant marketing of their own network.  It feels like there’s a good 30 minutes or more missing from the film.  This could have been a Hitchcock-level masterpiece of suspense … but no.

I hear Runaway Train is supposed to be good.  I should track that down as a comparison.

Virtuality

Equal parts Dark Star, Silent Running, The Matrix, and Big Brother. Shaken, not stirred. Ron Moore’s magnificent follow-up to his re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. How is it possible for something this intelligent, innovative, and engaging to *NOT* get picked up as a series?!? One of the best pieces of science fiction TV I’ve seen in my entire life is going to remain a failed pilot for Fox. I think the last time I saw an unsold pilot with this much potential was The Questor Tapes. If you can snag the DVD for this, it is definitely worth watching. If not, well, that’s your loss.