Archive

Archive for the ‘TV shows’ Category

True Blood Season 4 – underwhelming so far

I don’t know whether it’s just me (well actually I do know it’s not just me, there’s at least one other person who thinks the same), but the first three episodes of True Blood Season 4 have been a disappointment. The show seems to have lost its way. They probably should have just based it more closely on the Southern Vampire Mysteries books. Instead they took bits and pieces from several of the books, threw them together and added a fair amount of plot twists of their own design, creating a mix that simply doesn’t make much sense. And it has to be noted here that the books do make sense and are much better written than the show.

Well, the thing is, though that in the first three seasons they kind of managed to get away with this approach, but towards the end of Season 3 they began losing steam and the characters started doing stupid things like killing TV presenters before live cameras or trying to bury each other in concrete and failing. And now as the fourth season started we first met Sookie’s grandfather who was killed instantly, then the witches were shown like a bunch of idiots that don’t really know what they’re doing and so on and so fourth so far the whole thing just isn’t making much sense.

Well, maybe they’ll pick up speed in future episodes but so far it’s not looking good at all.

Categories: TV shows

The alluer of parallel lives

As I watch Mad Men I get more and more fascinated by Donald Draper, especially the way how he’s been leading perhaps not just a double but triple or possibly even quadruple life. Early on and season 1 we’re told through a series of flashbacks about how back when he was growing up on a farm as a boy by the name of Dick Whitman, he hated his life and dreamed of getting out of it. Finally a chance to do just that presented itself in Korea, when Dick was assigned to a lone lieutenant who had been tasked with building some sort of a military facility but only been given Dick to help him.  The lieutenant’s name was   Donald Draper and he got killed during a mortar attack, his body being disfigured beyond recognition by a direct hit. Somehow Dick’s and Draper dog tags got confused, and when Dick, who got knocked out and injured in the same attack, comes to in a hospital he realises everybody thinks that he is lieutenant Draper and that the dead guy is him, Dick. Instead of setting his record straight, Dick decides to run with it and goes back to the states as Donald Draper.

Towards the end of the second season while on business in California, Don runs into a group of ‘professional recreationists’ (for lack of a better word), a bunch of people who dress very well, seem to have lots of money, speak with various kinds of European-ish/aristocratic accents, except for this one girl, who was obviously brought up speaking English in the US and who falls for Donald. Donald is cool, he doesn’t talk much and he looks like Bond, James Bond. As the girl is leaving the hotel in a luxurious convertible she invites Don to joint her, at first he refuses but then as he stands there on the porch, watching her making herself comfortable in the car and putting on a headscarf, something clicks in his head, he walks down the stairs and gets into the car. To the girl’s question whether he’ll be getting his bags, he simply says, ‘no’.

And from this point on Don enters a kind of a parallel reality where he doesn’t have to work, all he has to do is have sex with his new companion, have meals with the other ‘recreationists’ and travel with them.

Seeing some kids, Don leaves the recreationists and goes to pay a visit to the widow of the real Don Draper. In another series of flashbacks we learn how she tracked him down in New York and how Don tried denying everything at first but then confessed his scam to her and how eventually they became close friends, we also learn that Don bought her a house and supported her and the whole time they were ‘formally’ married.

So Don ends up with at least three very different lives he can choose between:

Life 1 is New York, Sterling and Cooper and his family

Life 2 is the recreationists and their nomad lifestyle, going from one luxurious hotel/mansion to another, having meals and sex and generally enjoying themselves in a beautifully decadent kind of way.

Life 2, is lieutenant Draper’s  window with her nice house, the smell of the ocean from the porch and magnificent sunsets that can be seen from the porch.

And it’s really amazing, that at least at one point in his life Don is given this choice where he can literally simply decide which life he likes better and just go for it. No trails, no strings attached no nothing. Sure back in NY there’s money and a family he left behind but that family is at this stage as good as finished, he’s been staying in a hotel the past few weeks, having been told about Don’s affair with Johnny Barret’s wife, Don’s wife doesn’t want to see him in the house any more.  So it’s not like he would be ruining much by walking out on his NYC life. And he comes across as the kind of guy for whom making money comes naturally. He’ll be flush whatever he does and wherever he does it.

One can’t help but wondering what it would be like if we could really choose things in this way, just walk out on one life and into another. Well, truth be told these things happen sometimes, especially if you go into witness protection, but still in real life it’s not nearly as easy as it seems to be on Mad Men.

And even in Mad Men, Don eventually goes back to NY, to face the music and get 500 thousand dollars he got from the merger of Sterling and Cooper with a British ad agency, that went down while he was in his soul searching quest.

Categories: TV shows

News from Nepal

This week saw the finales of two TV dramas I’ve been following, the British Ashes to Ashes and ABC’s Lost. First was Ashes to Ashes, I think the last episode actually came out on Sunday or even late last week but I only watched on-line early this week. To cut a long story short, for those of you who’ve never seen either the original British Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes; the alternate reality the protagonist DI Drake found herself in after being shot in the head turned out to be a cop purgatory, where dead cops who can’t let go of their life on earth linger on until the truth is revealed to them and they choose to move on.

It’s no wonder then that when I was watching the final ten minutes of Lost later in the week I was overcome by a sense of dejavu,  and it wasn’t just because of Ashes to Ashes. There are also two stories  I’ve read whose plots develop along the same lines. I don’t know which one of the stories was written first, one is by Stephen King and it’s about a woman who’s trying to reconcile with her husband and they’ve decided to go down to Florida, so now they’re driving in a rented car in talking only there keep popping up various weird things along the way, people, things, buildings, eventually we learned the woman and her husband were in a plane crash, they never landed. And then there’s a short story by Victor Pelevin called News from Nepal. Again we have an ordinary woman going through her ordinary day, this time it’s an office worker at a Russian/soviet factory, we start with her getting off the trolley bus   and going into work. During lunch break she unwraps a candy as she stands in line to buy her meal,  the wrapping paper has a little trivia story on it, it’s about an obscure Nepalese sect, a group of monks living in the mountains in Nepal in this particular monastery, whose main objective in life is to see the truth. Those of them who manage to see the truth start yelling like mad and never stop until they die. In the end there is a meeting at the factory at which the radio tells everybody they’re all dead and in purgatory now and that according to an old tradition the first few days in purgatory are spent in a familiar environment. Then the poor woman’s day starts all over again.

I kind of felt cheated though, both by these short stories and to a greater extent by the two TV dramas.  While the stories were rather straightforward, the TV shows, especially Lost, were far more complicated. With Lost I was probably looking forward to some sort of convergence of the two alternative time lines, which I was led to believe at the beginning of the season, were caused by the nuclear explosion at the end of season 5. But no such luck, you’re dead Jack and that’s it. It reminded me in a way of the last book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Mostly Harmless in which Douglas Adams, who by the time the book came out had grown rather tired of the franchise, simply killed off all the main characters to wrap up the series. However, with Lost I felt even more let down, for a whole season I’ve been watching this alternate time-line and then turned out it was basically all a lie, ‘You know you don’t have a son, Jack’ Bummer, and his son was such a nice kid, a pianist and all.  It also reminded me of my old childhood fantasies, when I thought about what it would be like to be dead and that perhaps I was already dead just remembering my life over and over again while my body decayed in the grave.

And it’s also a bit sad that these days stories no longer end with the main characters living happily ever after, but rather with the main characters ‘moving on’. Nobody specifies where they’re moving on to. Which, incidentally, reminds me another ‘post-mortem’ story by Victor Pelevin, in which a group of people who’ve all died and travelled through the proverbial tunnel towards the light at the end of it are now sitting in a circle around a mysterious being whom they all can only see from the back. This being jokes with them and tells them about this new machine that can give a person ultimate pleasure and not just any kind of pleasure but the exact sort of euphoria they’ve been craving all their lives. The only drawback is that as they one by one approach this machine, get plugged in and vanish in a bright flash it becomes apparent to the last of them that the machine essentially annihilates them, so this last remaining person asks the mysterious being what’s going to happen afterwards, ‘Afterwards?’ asks the ‘god’,’And what would you need an afterwards for? If you get the ultimate euphoria now, whatever comes afterwards can only be worse?’ In the end this last guy is forced to connect up to the machine and go out in a flash of bright light. That’s moving on for you. In the final scene in Lost, the Losties too all walk into a bright light.

Categories: TV shows

Defying Science

I started watching the Defying Gravity TV drama a few days ago. I didn’t know it had already been cancelled at the time, still the point is that originally the premise seemed rather intriguing and on the whole I can’t say it’s the worst show I’ve ever seen, but I do have one issue with it.

By the look of it, Defying Gravity had a pretty handsome budget, they built all those decorations for the interior of their spaceship, then there were all those undoubtedly computer aided animations but it appears that the producers did not bring a single science consultant on  board. For one there’s the real time communications systems that the control centre uses to communicate with the spacecraft and by real time I mean there are no delays, the people in the control centre on earth talk to the people on board the spacecraft millions of kilometres away as if they were in the next room. My question is didn’t the authors of the show go to school, don’t they know that light takes 8 minutes to get from the Sun to Earth and that the speed of light is finite so if the Antares (the spaceship) is closing in on Venus, then the closest it can be to earth is 38 million kilometres, light travels at 300,000 kilometres per second in vacuum, radio waves travel at the speed of light so if I say something into a radio on the Antares it will be two minutes before the signal is received on Earth. In Defying Gravity there is no such problem, one only has to wonder what technology their comm system is based on, because they provide no explanation for it.

Yesterday I got to the episode where the astronauts discover Beta on their ship, and there they are standing in front of this weird thing, looking at it and then one of them says, ‘It’s organic but the materials it’s made up of is unknown to human science’ Now, if something’s made up of materials unknown to human science it simply can’t be organic by definition because organic chemistry studies carbon compounds and carbon is known to our science.

And it goes on like that. I’m not expert on nano-technology, I bet there’s plenty of goofs in that department as well.

There used to be a genre called Science Fiction, the authors of Defying Science seem to have created a new genre; Science Defying Fiction.

Categories: TV shows, Uncategorized