Friday, November 20, 2015

Geeky TV Woes

I can't believe it's already Friday and that it's the Friday before Thanksgiving. I think mentally I'm still back in July. I still have my summer clothes in the downstairs closet and need to do a closet switch because it's supposed to get cold this weekend and my warm clothes are all still upstairs. We're also getting close to the winter finales of a lot of TV shows, and I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that the fall season has started.

Unfortunately, most of my geeky TV pleasures seem to be failing me this year. I complained at the end of the last season that it was like all the TV writers had some kind of suicide pact going to try to destroy their own shows, and it still feels that way to me. Spoilers ahead, but I'll try to keep things as vague as possible, since if you watch, you'll know what I mean and if you don't, you won't care.

Strangely enough, although I'm not that excited about Doctor Who this season, I also don't have a lot of complaints about it. The semi-serialized nature, with two-parters, gets like the old-school series (though I've never watched it in serialized form, as it seems like in the US it was always put together in a "movie" for each story). I don't have anything I actually dislike about it. I'm just afraid that Peter Capaldi will not be one of "my" Doctors. I've had more fun with the Classic era reruns from PBS and BBCAmerica than with the new episodes. But at least they don't seem to be actively attempting to destroy all that's good about the series. Unlike other shows.

I'm a bit behind on Sleepy Hollow because I'm generally out on Thursday nights and then I forget to catch up with it later, and while this season has been better than last season, the previous season just about killed it, and it's all starting to feel like a stretch with the way Ichabod seems to have had a connection to every single element of the American Revolution. I'm hoping that the two episodes I need to watch will make the arc make some kind of sense or give it some kind of purpose. Maybe they'd be better off with a Monster of the Week instead of trying to do a grand arc about the latest impending apocalypse. I'm just not sure I can forgive them going to the trope of literally demonizing the existing significant other of the male lead last season.

Speaking of which, there's Grimm. I can understand the desire to shake things up in a long-running series, but there's shaking things up and then there's removing the stuff that made it fun. For me, a big part of the enjoyment of the series came from how very ordinary the hero seemed. He's the boy next door, the nice guy with his nice girlfriend living in a cozy house -- and yet the monsters take one look at him and flee in terror. This very ordinary-seeming guy who is in no way large or menacing, who would best be described as "cute," is the monster the monsters tell horror stories about. Now they've removed all the "ordinary" from him, though I guess he's still cute and not particularly physically imposing. They demonized (again, literally) the existing girlfriend and then killed her off, and now he's moved out of the cozy house -- and in with his enemy, in one of the biggest "seriously?" moves in TV history. This woman did a shape-shifting spell to get him to think she was his girlfriend and sleep with her in order to take his powers away, which nearly got him killed, and then the spell they had to do to get his powers back was what turned his girlfriend into a monster, which was what got her killed, and then it turns out that the enemy got pregnant (their way of dealing with the actress's real-life pregnancy) and had his baby, so now he feels responsible for looking after her and the kid. So, yeah, he's having to live with his rapist who's largely responsible for the death of his girlfriend, and they seem to be setting it up for a relationship to develop, and no, just no. That happens, and I have to quit. I know the girlfriend wasn't wildly popular (that character never is) and there were some complaints about lack of "chemistry" between them (ironic, given that the actors are involved in real life), but it wasn't like they needed to get the existing significant other out of the way to make room for the relationship fans were clamoring for. This is where you want to say to the writers, "Have you actually looked at what you're writing here?" I just hope someone has noticed the ratings nosedive and maybe figured it out.

And speaking of not noticing what they're writing … I'm withholding a lot of judgment on Once Upon a Time until I see how they finish the current arc, but I'm very, very worried based on their track record and extremely screwy morality. I'm already iffy with their idea to turn the heroine into a kind of villain, not because of her actually doing anything villainous but because she sacrificed herself to take on the disembodied darkness that was going to consume everything. Strange how that sacrifice is being treated somewhat like yet another bit of "proof" that heroes aren't all that great, after all, even though she hasn't actually done anything bad under influence of the darkness that wasn't for some kind of greater good or at least out of love. Some of the supposedly reformed villains have done far worse while still being considered heroes. And then there's the fact that each thing she did that supposedly brought her closer to darkness has been to save a life. Only on this should would saving lives count as a step closer to darkness. We won't even get into how they've shown us twice in this arc that apparently the real path to villainy is being angry at a person who slaughtered your entire village. But now they've pulled off a plot development that makes very little sense in terms of a magical system or worldbuilding, even by this show's "Calvinball" standards of rules for magic. It actually has all the potential pieces to be a wonderful character arc, but the writers of this show are idiot savants who have a great talent for coming up with brilliant situations without recognizing or actually doing anything with what they've created, so I'm worried. If they screw this up, I may have to be done.

The Muppets seems to be getting better and is apparently going to be retooled during the winter hiatus. The main thing they need to remember there is that the point of Fozzie Bear is that he isn't funny. The humor comes in the way other people react to the fact that he's entirely unfunny, so giving him his own story lines doesn't work. But they did find a way to get Kermit to unironically sing "The Rainbow Connection" and still put a funny new twist on it, so there's hope.

Haven has been okay, but has lost some of its spark. Some of that comes from some offscreen issues, like having to change shooting locations mid-stream, which means the town is no longer such a character in the show. They're giving answers and wrapping things up, but it's going to be hard to evaluate this season until we see how it wraps up. Some of the episodes have been blah, while others have been deliciously tense and weird.

And I think that's all the geeky stuff I'm following right now.

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