Television

Discussion in 'Discussions' started by Haldurson, May 20, 2013.

  1. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    When you write something, you HAVE to know more than your readers. You HAVE to have a backstory, even if it's a backstory that you never intend to tell your readers. You have to know exactly what everyone's goals are, and why everyone does what they do. Also you have to know who's lying, who's telling the truth, who's just clueless, and why. You have to know if Mulder's sister is alive or dead, or a clone or an alien hybrid, or just on vacation in the Bermuda Triangle. You can't be so arbitrary as to change your mind week after week. There shouldn't be 5 different stories with 5 different people absolutely convinced that their story is correct. You absolutely never have to tell your audience what is true, but if you tell a completely different contradictory story every few episodes, then you start to anger people.

    Don't get me wrong, it's ok to have twists, to mislead your viewer/reader. But YOU had better know what's really going on or it's going to be a jumbled mess. And the X-Files far too often felt like an inconsistent jumbled mess.

    Secrets and mysteries can be good. But you have to keep the story going and make the audience feel like the story is progressing, that they are figuring things out along with the characters even if you have the occasional misstep or mistake. But there was nothing to figure out in the X-Files mythology because everything felt so arbitrary. Nothing you figured out was ever 'True' with a capital 'T'. Each episode had its own truth that had absolutely nothing to do with the overarching story, since it would be completely ignored in the very next episode. There were aboslutely some riveting episodes. But that mythology and overarching plot was just a mess.
     
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  2. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    BTW, I thought that "Fringe" handled similar subjects with a lot more skill. It was clearly inspired by The X-Files -- you could tell by the pacing and the cinematography and even the writing that the X-Files were a big influence. But they didn't make all of the same mistakes. I have a friend who would call this blasphemy (because she's a HUGE X-Files fanatic), but I think it's SO much better and the makers of the show really learned a lot of lessons from the X-Files' mistakes.

    In any case, Once you finish with X-Files, if you haven't seen "Fringe", you should definitely watch it. It's got its own mythology and similar out-there concepts and conspiracies and so on. But it FEELS like there's a plan, like there's so much less arbitrary about the conspiracies and story arcs. And it ALSO manages to pull the wool over your eyes the way that the X-Files did, except that it does it in such a way that it feels like there was an actual plan, that the writers knew what they were doing. Plus the various conspiracies/conspirators actually have motives that you can understand (if not actually relate to).
     
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  3. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    I think The X-Files (at least in Season 1) works fine. A little bit of research revealed that there are a few specific arcs amongst the episodes, but I like how it's a mix of could-be supernatural, science fiction, real science and normal mysteries. Some of the episodes were poorer, sure, but there's *24 episodes* in Season 1 alone. It's going to have a few misses, even in later series where it's more self-sure and defined.

    But real life isn't nice and tidy as it is, so when you go all X-Files and start adding in hearsay, conspiracies, government cover-ups and so on, it's definitely going to be a confused mess. And I like it.
     
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  4. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I don't recall what I was looking for, but I found this in Youtube. These are from one of the all-time best television sitcoms ever:
     
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  5. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Well, I finished watching the third season of "Arrested Development", and was deciding whether or not I wanted to pay to see the fourth season. So I did something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and that is to re-watch the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries, that served as the pilot for the series.

    If you were living under a rock at the time, then you probably don't know that the miniseries (And the series that followed) was one of the best damned science fiction series ever to be shown on television. I had actually forgotten just how good the pilot was, and I was happy to be reminded of it. I'm betting that most people here have seen it, but if not, you should. The pilot was 3 hours long, and it hooked me the first time, and it's hooked me yet again.

    I admit that I was not a fan of the original series, although I did watch some of it. The reason why was that it was on at dinner time, and my younger brother was a fan, so if it was on, that's what we watched while eating dinner. I thought it was silly, and I just didn't get the appeal. I get that it was riding the tail of "Star Wars", but the writing was just... bad.

    Anyway, the newer series had great writing, a decent budget, and some really good actors. The characters were incredibly interesting to watch, they were complicated, sometimes deeply flawed. The series as a whole wasn't perfect, but for being based on such mediocre source material, it was far, far better than it should have been.
     
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  6. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    And I'd be remiss if I didn't post this:
     
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  7. Xyvik

    Xyvik Member

    Lately I've gone back to some of the shows that I used to watch more often and re-discovering why I like them so much. High on the top of that list is Hogan's Heroes. A classic.
     
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  8. Xyvik

    Xyvik Member

    Caught the premiere of Agents of SHIELD (there's no way I'm putting periods after every letter every time...)

    While not The Best Thing Ever, it was extremely enjoyable and I'll make sure and catch it weekly when I can. And this is coming from a not-really-a-Whedon-fan.
     
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  9. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I totally agree with your assessment. I like Whedon and while I wish this were a better show, it's really not bad at all.

    I also watched "Blacklist" and thought exactly the same thing. The show itself is not that great, really. But James Spader is actually pretty good, which is the main reason I'll be watching. Again, I wish the show were better...

    So far, overall, I'm not impressed with the new television season. There's nothing there that I've seen that can replace shows like "Breaking Bad", or even the greatly overrated "Under the Dome". But at least "The Walking Dead" will be back soon.

    And with regards to "Breaking Bad" -- if you haven't been watching, you really ought to start. You have only 4 days to catch up before the final episode. (All I know is that Walther has a really big gun and some rycin and he's put his Heisenberg hat on -- someone is going to die).
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
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  10. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I just have to say that I was very pleased with how "Breaking Bad" was wrapped up. It had a very fitting end. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it yet.

    I will say one thing that I thought was exceptional:
    I really liked the flashback to the very early episode where Hank invites Walther to go on a ride-along to see a meth arrest. It was a really good reminder that the series was about a journey and Walther's transformation, and to show a bit of where it all started. There was just so much I liked, but that was what really struck home with me.

    As far as the show winning an Emmy for best drama, well, it was about damned time.
     
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  11. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

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  12. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

  13. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    J├ęsus Ramirez on a unicycle. Bloody bots. *Slams her head on her deks*
     
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  14. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I just saw an awesome television movie that I really have to recommend: "The Challenger Disaster", starring William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood, and Brian Dennehy, among others. To remind you, or if you were not alive then, on January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in mid-air, just over a minute into its flight. A presidential commission was formed to investigate what went wrong. This movie is about one of my heroes, Doctor Richard Feynman, and his role on the commission.

    I knew much of how the story ended and Feynman's opinion of NASA's role in it. But I didn't know a lot of the details until I watched the movie. Plus William Hurt is simply such a great actor and really did a good job playing Feynman.

    BTW, if you want to see a different take on Feynman, I suggest the movie "Infinity", starring Matthew Broderick playing him at a much younger age (before and during his time on the Manhattan Project).. It's not a great film, but it's worth seeing if you have any interest in Feynman, as are his autobiographies, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character), and "What Do You Care What Other People Think": Further Adventures of a Curious Character. He was a Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, a Professor at Caltech, a popularizer of science, a kind of Rennaissance man who painted, played the bongos, participated in Campus theatrical productions, and taught informal after-hours classes on lockpicking. He also was an incurable practical joker. To me, he was one of the most interesting people alive, until he died of cancer in 1988.

    Anyway, I strongly recommend that you watch this -- I don't know when it will be shown again, but I caught it on the Discovery Channel recently, and I see that it may also be available for viewing at Amazon.com (though, unfortunately, not on Amazon Prime).
     
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  15. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I've recently gotten hooked on a French television series (with English subtitles) currently playing repeats on The Sundance Channel. It's called "The Returned" (aka "Les Revenants"). I've seen about half of the 8 episodes in season 1 and Season 2 is due to be filmed in 2014 for November release.

    The story takes place in a small french city overlooking a dammed lake. In a flashback to 4 years in the past, at the opening of the series, a school bus carrying teenaged students on a class trip goes over the edge of the dam, and we find out that everyone on the bus was killed. In the present, we see a young red-headed girl, one who was on the bus, walking away from the dam. People who've lived in the town are mysteriously coming back from the dead, with no memory of how they died or even that they died.

    It's a very slow-building, creepy suspense story, with lots of twists and mysteries and several parallel stories dealing with individuals who've returned. There's the teenage girl who's now 4 years younger than her twin sister who wasn't on the bus. There's a really creepy little boy, a woman's fiance who died right before their scheduled wedding. And a serial killer who stopped killing 7 years previously, starts killing again. And all of this may or may not be linked to problems with the dam.

    Anyway, I strongly recommend it. It's kind of an old-fashioned suspense story, not the kind that gets made in the U.S. much anymore.
     
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  16. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    Atlantis - Low budget fantasy TV from the BBC and the people behind Merlin. Predictable with pretty average (in general) acting, but I still rather enjoy it despite its myriad of flaws.

    Yonderland - Lower (probably) budget fantasy TV on a UK channel from the people behind the Horrible Histories children's TV show (based on the very popular books of the same title). With puppets. I. Love. It.

    Game of Thrones - Got the S1+2 boxset for my birthday, so that's going to keep me quiet for a while. Only three episodes in so far, but I've seen all of them basically as they broadcast. Feels like I'm watching it with new eyes, though, esp. as I've now read the books.

    Cadfael - Okay, okay, I've not actually started watching this, but I did just get the boxset (again for my birthday), and I'm rather looking forward to getting stuck into it.
     
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  17. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I've seen Atlantis -- I totally agree with your assessment. It's really not very good, but I still find myself wanting to watch it.

    I also enjoy "Game of Thrones", but even more surprising, my 77 year-old mom is a HUGE fan of the series. My main gripe with it is that the story seems to be progressing a bit too slowly (something which the South Park people did a really nice job of satirizing recently).
     
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  18. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    This isn't the first episode but it should give you an idea...
     
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  19. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    There is something incredibly compelling about it. My favourite character is the Oracle. I just *adore* her.

    The pacing is actually faster than the books, which partially comes from the show cutting the dramatis personae down considerably, and it condenses a lot of plot lines - plus it has to wear parts of the show on its sleeve. Season 1 is good, but to be honest I can't wait to see Sansa improve (S3), Brienne and Melisandre (S2 for both), as well as Meera Reed (S3, IIRC). Oh, Ygritte too. She's awesome. Plus Yara is cool, albeit mostly unused. And then there's Stannis and Davos, who I loved in S2 (and I declare for Stannis in the books), but in S3 I didn't like the changes to Stannis but I stood by Davos.
     
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  20. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I have a new obsession, and it may not be a surprise to some of you, but it was a surprise to me. I've been watching "Dexter" on Netflix, and all the way up to season 3 now.

    The reason I say it's a surprise is that I used to keep my mom company while she watched TV, and her taste in shows was sometimes (at least to me) incomprehensible. She liked really dark stuff, like "Criminal Minds" and all sorts of true-crime shows. I found them to be quite dark and depressing. Fantasy horror, I can deal with -- I have no problem with zombies, but shows that tell the story of semi-realistic violent criminals, to me that's real horror. So when she watched shows like that, I'd excuse myself.

    In the mean time, everyone I kept encountering people who would tell me that "I had to watch Dexter". After so many years, I finally gave it a shot. And I am surprised to say that the show has really hooked me.

    If you are not aware, "Dexter" is a cable series about a sociopathic serial killer who works for the police, and he lives by a code (he only kills murderers who've slipped through the cracks in the justice system and haven't paid for their crime). The title role is played by Michael C. Hall, who I previously used to watch in "6 Feet Under" (another really great cable series about a family that runs a funeral home). If you haven't seen "6 Feet Under", I strongly recommend it. It's funny, and it has some really strong writing and acting in it, and it's a lot more interesting than it sounds (I wouldn't have believed it could be good either had I not watched it from the beginning).

    Anyway, if you've watched "Dexter", please don't give me any spoilers. As I said, I'm in the middle of season 3, and am probably spending far too much time watching it.
     
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