shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. Question: Are any television shows worthy of obsession?

Answer: Probably not. Doesn't keep me from obsessing about them, though. Or anyone else for that matter, apparently.

I don't know. This Sat, I had a conversation about how I was going to try to be less judgmental about things and people. But it's really hard to do, since "judgment" is prevalent in our society. I'm not talking about being constructively critical or critical, but judging. I'm finding it tough to do.

When I was obsessed with Buffy, I remember being embarrassed about it. I was very judgmental of myself. Why this show, I'd ask myself and not something like the Sopranos? Or Six Feet Under? Or the Wire? (Okay, I was briefly obsessed with The Wire...so never mind). I didn't go to conventions. Just obsessed online, and wrote lots of meta on it. Nor did I bother with autographs. It was the story and characters that obsessed me, and the writing. Something about it grabbed me by the jugular and would not let go. Perhaps, it's because it more than anything else at the time -- spoke to what I was feeling, and could not express after 9/11 happened and everything I knew and thought I knew turned inside out and upside down.

I remember being obsessed with Battle Star Galatica, the first version, when I was a child. Loving it in that weird way that you fall in love with a piece of art. But I didn't write about it. I just couldn't wait for the next episode. I had a crush on Apollo, I was 12 years old.

And Farscape, much later of course, something in it spoke to me -- but it was short lived. I did buy the DVDs. But I didn't rewatch them and rewatch them.

I remember when I was 13, I was obsessed with the Hobbit, the animated film, the book, and even was in the play at a Children's Theater nearby during the summer.
It spoke to me.

As an adult, I've been obsessed with fare that most would judge me harshly for, hell they already have. And I think there's something to be said for not giving a shit what other people think. People either get it or they don't. Regardless of what you are obsessed with, whether it be The Godfather movies, Star Wars, Star Trek, a series of classical novels, Shakespeare, funky shows about gangsters, video games, petunias, cats, daytime soaps, vampires, television shows, or comic books, I'm not sure it matters. If it makes you happy, cheers you up, pushes the black clouds away...does it matter?


2. Question: What qualifies as kid fare and adult?

Answer: I've been wondering about this for a while now. I will go through the children's shelves in book stores, and while much of the books on the shelves are obviously kid's fare, such as Goodnight, Moon. Other's I wonder about from time to time. Peter Rabbit has some disturbing bits in it. As does The Hobbit and Harry Potter, and Twilight.


Some books I honestly think are adult and kid, Huckleberry Finn and Animal Farm come to mind. As too does The Jungle Book, Fairy Tales, and The Hobbit.

And then there are television series...apparently people think if teens or kids are the main characters - it's a children's show? Except Vampire Dairies, Buffy, The 100, Game of Thrones, Glee, all struck me as adult fare. Sure some shows are obviously kid fare such as Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, Bear in the Big Blue House, Sarah Jane Adventures...but others, like Doctor Who, Star Trek, Buffy, the Hunger Games, and The 100 do not feel like kid shows to me, they feel very adult.

I know I watched The Muppet Show, which people thought was a kid's show. It really wasn't. It has a lot of subtle political and sexual satire in it.

And don't get me started on cartoons. People are weird about them. Some label anything animated as a "cartoon", just as they label anything that is a book with storyboarding or illustrated panels telling a story -- a comic book. It's not. Cartoons also aren't just for kids. Fritz the Cat -- notably was an R rated adult cartoon, as was Betty Boop. Many of the Looney Tunes cartoons are very adult, as are some of the Hannah Barbara. Bulwinkle was an adult political satire. The Family Guy is for adults.

What's always annoyed me about it -- is this: if it is kid's fare, and you are an adult, there seems to be something automatically wrong with you enjoying it. Several literary writers have blogged and written essays in mags about how it is wrong somehow to enjoy children's books as an adult. That somehow you should be reading much harder or loftier fare, as if such a thing exists. How dare you read and be obsessed with Harry Potter! When you should be reading...I don't know Gone Girl? The latest National Book Award Winner?

Why is that?


3. Television Reviews well sort of...

* Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Don't have a great deal to say about this episode. It was okay. I thought it was better than last week's episode, less obvious plot holes. But I also felt like I've been there done that...which was the problem with this particular arc, well amongst other things.

I did like some things about it, which are spoilery, so beneath the cut:



* The Doctor and Missy's discussions were rather fascinating. How she suggests that he kill Bill, no worse, make Bill a brain dead husk to defeat the monks - for the greater good. Which is a concept of morality that science fiction has been fiddling with forever.
It's very Machivellian - the ends justify the means. It is also a nice twist on Bill's choice, she chose the Doctor and doomed humanity. So here, Bill must sacrifice herself for humanity or the Doctor sacrifice Bill for humanity. "The needs of the many outweigh the few" -- Spock states at the end of The Wrath of Khan, but Kirk apparently disagrees and hunts a means of saving Spock.

I liked the discussion at the end best. It actually made the episode for me. And changed my mind about Missy/Master -- where she states that she remembers the names and faces of everyone she's killed and there are so many...how he didn't tell her about this. Tears streaming down her face. He says how this is actually a good thing.

The writer's of Doctor Who are obviously not pro-death penalty and believe in redemption -- I agree with them for the most part. Death solves nothing, unless someone is a threat and there is no other way to stop it. But I'm not sure about redemption. I've met and seen people who...well...can a sociopath truly change?

* Bill's ability to free the world by focusing on her own reconstructed memory of her mother...a memory constructed largely from photographs provided by The Doctor.
Focusing on a pure, loving memory of someone who cared for her without wanting anything in return breaks the monks spell. Demonstrating that they didn't understand love completely. Or rather they don't understand "unconditional love".

* Nardole and Bill's banter.

That's it really. Didn't like anything else.



* Riverdale

Two episodes left. I'm enjoying the series. It's beautifully shot and has an amazing color scheme. The production, set design, cinematographer, editors, makeup and costumes are doing a great job. The only weak points are well, the direction and writing...which is rather limp. But I'm enjoying it.

It has a graphic novel feel to it. Jughead is my favorite character. The actor is doing a great job...emoting. And I love Skeet Ullrich as Jug's dad "FP". Molly Ringwald, who plays Archie's mom, looks weird. Has she done botox or plastic surgery? Her face is oddly stiff and lop-sided. It's admittedly odd to see her as a Mom, but then it is also odd to see Luke Perry (who played Buffy's high school boyfriend Pike in the Buffy movie) as a Dad, and Ringwald's hubby.

I like the tone of the series and find it captivating enough to stick with.

*Still Star-Crossed

Well, I'm not sure it's very good, but it is definitely intriguing. (Reminds me a bit of Reign actually in quality - so more a CW series than an ABC series...). But it is intriguing enough to hold my interest at any rate. It focuses on the twenty-somethings in the cast. But I like Grant Bowler's turn as Montague. Head, I'm on the fence about at the moment. The casting is the most diverse and colorblind that I've ever seen. They have interracial couples all over the place and aren't blinking an eye. Romeo is black, with a white father, white cousin, and in love with white Juliet, who has black cousins. It's startling because a mere ten years ago, such a thing was...well rarely done.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. But it surprised me a little. Time was, the networks would have prohibited it. And this is on a major network - ABC.

The first episode pretty much retells the Rome and Juliet storyline, except from Benvolo (Romeo's confidante) and Rosalind's (Juliet's confident) perspectives.

And it changes a few things from the Shakespearean version which I found intriguing.



Here's how the show differs:

Instead of Juliet's nurse helping her, her cousin, Rosalind who is both a servant and a Capulet does. Rosalind and her sister Olivia, after their parents died, were taken in by their Aunt and Uncle (Juliet's parents) and forced to be servants. Their Aunt was apparently jealous of their mother for marrying their father. Their Aunt went for the richer, titled brother (Anthony Stewart Head) instead of the brother she loved and is blaming them for her mistake.

Romeo's father, Papa Montague, has manipulated his son into falling in love with Juliet Capulet. He paid the Priest to ensure their union. With the view that once she got pregnant with his son's child, he'd have a Capulet under his family name. But alas, the Priest gave them poison and they died. He's not happy with the Priest. That's a nice twist. And it works. Montague came from the labor class and worked his way up to the elite. But he's still frowned upon.

Romeo and Juliet both take the poison. She doesn't kill herself with his dagger upon waking, he has enough poison left in the vial so she can die too.

Paris happens upon Romeo entering Juliet's tomb and they fight. Romeo stabs Paris in the stomach. Paris survives and is taken in by Juliet's mother, Lady Capulet, who is frantically trying to nurse him back to health. Olivia, Rosalind's sister finds them and asks to be his nurse.

Meanwhile, Rosalind is in love with the Prince of Verona. (The father died leaving the nation in his son and daughter's hands. The daughter is the more pragmatic of the two.) But after Romeo and Juliet die, the Prince decides to marry her off to Romeo's cousin Benevolo. Neither are happy about it. They argue constantly. This to stop the incessant rioting and fighting that has been happening since R&J's deaths.

Everything else is pretty much the same.

Paris isn't the son of the Prince of Verona, like he was in the play, but a neighboring territory. The rulers of Verona are worried about other territories in Italy invading them, like Venice, the Medicis, etc. So they need to quell their infighting, or they'll be defenseless.

What is intriguing is that the story is obviously not going to be about racism, because that does not appear to be an issue here, but about classism, gender inequality, and power politics.



The only drawback? It feels like a CW teen show. Not that this is a huge problem. But ...I wish it focused more on the older characters.

* Nashville

Hmmm, I'm really enjoying the new writers of this series. The show's quality has improved. Also certain storylines have opened up. It's not predictable and has surprised me time and again. Completely different show than the past several years. Instead of a soapy melodrama about the music industry, it's become a relatable drama about the country music industry.

There are some...sentimental moments, but nothing too manipulative and overall it worked.


What surprised me was that Juliet's Gospel album failed, but they didn't focus on her whinging and throwing a fit, but on her understandable struggle to process it. It also demonstrated the narcissism of that industry. Juliet has spent her life trying to please others. She cares what people think. She reads the reviews.

But the people who helped her on it, think it was good and don't understand why this matters.

Flip to Maddie, who Juliet is now managing. And Juliette pushes Maddie to change how she is singing a specific song, that it needs more of a hook. Maddie has her boyfriend listen to it and he prefers Juliet's version. Maddie is upset. But Clay is good with her -- he conveys that she should do what she feels best with her music, not what anyone else thinks is best. Write and sing for yourself, because at the end of the day you aren't going to please everyone. There's always going to be people out there who hate it. Or don't get it. But if you don't...

Meanwhile her father tells her...that music is not a solo thing. Even her mother didn't own her own sound or voice. She had collaborators, producers, managers, and other musicians involved in various ways. Also the fans have input and interact with it and have a say.

I liked how the writer's explored it. Without falling into soap cliche. They explored a real issue in the industry in a relatable way. From four different perspectives. Maddie listens to both versions and finally, on her own, chooses Juliet's.

The other story that could have been cliche but isn't was Daphne, who has realistically fallen into a depression after her mother's death. And can't quite cope. Her depression is realistically portrayed.

Then there is Scarlett, Gunner, and the Baby -- which predictably turned out to be the British music producer's kid. I could see that coming. But they did play down the soap elements and cliches. Gunner stepped up, but struggled. Her real problem is going to be the baby's father.

Overall a good episode. The series continues to deliver, and is much better than it was before. A rare example of a television series benefitting from new writers and a bit of a reboot.

Are any television shows worthy of obsession?

Date: 2017-06-05 07:44 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Answer: Probably not. Doesn't keep me from obsessing about them, though. Or anyone else for that matter, apparently.

As long as it is a harmless obsession (i.e. not stalking the actors) then surely all is good. Is anything ever worthy of obsession, in the sense that its own merits make it somehow elevated above other things to legitimise the obsession? Surely obsessions always come from the obsessor not the object of that obsession, and so they can only be judged as worthy by the person doing the obsession.

I think obsession is a character trait inside all of us. I think in origin it is the trait that allows humans to focus on a particular task and keep returning to that task when we would otherwise get bored. Obsession is thus a useful survival trait. But if taken too far it can become a hindrance, blinding us to alternative possibilities and narrowing our thinking, which is why we also view it as a dangerous thing, that verges on a sin.

I think humans have lots of these janus-faced characteristics because the nature of our ecological niche creates a complex need for constant tension between stability and change, so most humans have tendencies towards both and are aware of that tension.

I'm not sure it matters. If it makes you happy, cheers you up, pushes the black clouds away...does it matter?
No. I am positive the answer to this question is no. Or rather it does matter - it matters in a positive way because it brings pleasure :D

Indeed I go so far as to believe that if somebody else is obsessed with something it is always worth checking that thing out at least once. Sometimes you get a miss (I will never, ever understand why people watch sports) but sometimes you find an unexpected gem (I found Supernatural because a friend pretty much threw the show at me until it stuck and I only started watching to please her, but now it is one of my major obsessions).
Edited (because I can't spell) Date: 2017-06-05 07:45 am (UTC)

What qualifies as kid fare and adult?

Date: 2017-06-05 07:58 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Interesting thoughts. And I was surprised by some of the things you list as being even possible contenders for kids fare (Animal Farm, Game of Thrones) which goes to show how subjective these things are.

I think there's something to be said for not giving a shit what other people think.
I have lived by this my whole life :D As I get older I find it is sometimes worth giving a shit because other people's viewpoints can be useful, but never exclusively so.

I watched The Muppet Show, which people thought was a kid's show. It really wasn't. It has a lot of subtle political and sexual satire in it.
I have never had the chance to watch the Muppets and I really regret it. The more I hear about it the more I realise it is Important.

What's always annoyed me about it -- is this: if it is kid's fare, and you are an adult, there seems to be something automatically wrong with you enjoying it.
Yes :(
This saddens me and I refuse to be bound by it. There are several brilliant writers who were published too late for my childhood and I am not going to deny myself the pleasure. I also revisit many of my childhood authors, both to reread the ones I knew as a child and to explore their other work. I just finished The Blue Hawk by Peter Dickinson in fact, and I got so much more from it as an adult than my earlier readings. Everything from my appreciation of the language to my understanding of the religious and political background had matured. (Also one really annoying detail - I now know enough about birds to know it isn't a hawk that he is describing! But it doesn't matter because the falcon that he describes is sooooo much better than a true hawk.)

Any good piece of literature can work in this way, regardless of the alleged target audience. That is almost the definition of high art that you get something new from it every time simply because you yourself have changed. I like the quote about Hamlet (I don't know who said it) 'You don't watch it for a few years, and when you go back you find he rewrote it'.

somehow you should be reading much harder or loftier fare, as if such a thing exists. How dare you read and be obsessed with Harry Potter! When you should be reading...I don't know Gone Girl? The latest National Book Award Winner?

Why is that?

It is because many people suffer from an intellectual inferiority complex. They do not trust that their own judgement is valid so they wish to read what others, preferably professional others such as critics or professors of literature, have judged to be good and valid. If something is for kids or from a 'lesser' genre like sci-fi, fantasy, romance or thrillers, then it is by definition 'inferior' and they are afraid to be associated with it.
Edited (because I forgot the last question, which is the most important) Date: 2017-06-05 08:03 am (UTC)

Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Date: 2017-06-05 08:29 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I agree with pretty much everything you have said. Some good Missy/Doctor and some good action, otherwise nothing to speak of.

I liked the discussion at the end best. It actually made the episode for me. And changed my mind about Missy/Master -- where she states that she remembers the names and faces of everyone she's killed and there are so many...how he didn't tell her about this. Tears streaming down her face. He says how this is actually a good thing.
Yes! That was a brilliant moment. And it makes me think of all the other conversations they must have had over the last seventy years to get to this point. He is doing so much more than just keeping her in a box :)

The writer's of Doctor Who are obviously not pro-death penalty and believe in redemption -- I agree with them for the most part. Death solves nothing, unless someone is a threat and there is no other way to stop it. But I'm not sure about redemption. I've met and seen people who...well...can a sociopath truly change?

Yes, because people do grow and change with time and experience. So there is always the hope of redemption even if the frequency is incredibly low. We all struggle all the time to change ourselves for the better, and little by little we do change. Just not always as fast or as far or in the direction we had hoped for.

I think Missy can be redeemed, but she won't end up like the Doctor, and her earlier speech about if she is to become like him it will take a very long time is putting him on warning of that. In fact considering how very narrow minded the Doctor can often be, I think I will prefer the redeemed Missy to him. Spin-off show, maybe?

Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-05 08:41 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
This show sounds... complicated. But also with potential. I do hope I get a chance to see it somehow.

The casting is the most diverse and colorblind that I've ever seen. They have interracial couples all over the place and aren't blinking an eye.

This maybe comes in through the Shakespearean theatre connection. Shakespeare (in this country at least, and I know a lot of our shows travel to the States) is normally cast in a colour-blind fashion, sometimes to the point of genetic impossibility. It works because most Shakespeare productions step outside realistic norms and into a universe of their own rules.

Romeo is black, with a white father, white cousin
This wouldn't worry me unless Romeo's mother was also white. In a TV show I want a higher standard of reality and in-world logic than I am willing to accept on stage. But maybe that's just me.

Romeo's father, Papa Montague, has manipulated his son into falling in love with Juliet Capulet. He paid the Priest to ensure their union. With the view that once she got pregnant with his son's child, he'd have a Capulet under his family name. But alas, the Priest gave them poison and they died. He's not happy with the Priest. That's a nice twist.
That is a really nice twist! I wonder if as the show goes along they will twist it further and reveal that the Capulets also had an agenda.

What is intriguing is that the story is obviously not going to be about racism, because that does not appear to be an issue here, but about classism, gender inequality, and power politics.
Oh that sounds so crunchy and I really, really want to watch it! But I share your surprise that an American show is ignoring race and discussing class. When Americans decide to discuss class in their literature it is always really enjoyable and explores the subject in a beautifully subtle way (I am thinking of Supernatural and Suits), but they do it so rarely.

I wish it focused more on the older characters.
Well if it survives, and if the older actors are better than the younger ones (which they probably are just thanks to experience) then if things follow the normal course of events they will just quietly take over the show. They will keep the pretty young things to maintain their original audience and use the intriguing older ones to build the audience.

Date: 2017-06-05 03:39 pm (UTC)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cactuswatcher
I presume that by kids you mean 'teens.' There hasn't been any evening programming aimed at children on general audience channels since the government decided it would be a terrific idea for local broadcast stations to come up with their own programming from 6:30 to 7:00 (7:30 to 8:00 Eastern time) instead of being forced to carry network programming. Before that, the slot was mandated by the government to have children friendly programming, and often the slot immediately after would have something older kids could keep watching without their parents being worried. The local programming mandate threw all that out the window.

So what's the difference between shows aimed at teens and those aimed at adults? Less and less these days, but... Shows aimed at teens (many of which also encourage adult viewers) have a very unique set up. First of all in shows for teens there are very few adults around. (Very different from adult shows or even 'family' shows!) Mostly the adults are absent or largely ineffectual. You might have someone like Giles tossing out a pearl of wisdom now and then, but the pretend-teens largely are on their own making up their own rules. It's a teen dream world, with the only problems being ones, that teens consider adult. The practical problems real teens have are virtually non-existent. Rarely does someone else's schedule interfere with a teen doing anything, and when it does happen, it's a huge deal. Nobody has any transportation problems. There are always plenty of cars to get teens wherever, and they are always magically full of gas. There are authorities like the police out there in the show, but rarely does anyone in authority show up or say 'you can't do that.' Teen shows live in their own little world where everything mostly runs by adult-like rules, which can be broken mostly without consequence if necessary. Indeed everyone lives by adult rules except for weekend nights which by common consent should get 'crazy' and can get dangerous, if rival teens are met. You can tell Buffy matured away from a teen show, because several of the gang had to go out and get jobs.

The adult show counter-part to the never-never land of teens is having the central characters be very rich so they never have to earn money, just run around and solve crimes, do the marry-get-divorced cycle, travel the world without a care, etc. In adult shows all this is admired. In teen shows, the same kind of wealth is despised.

I would guess you can come up with more 'teen' show cliches if you think about it.

Date: 2017-06-05 04:16 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: MERL-MerlinSideCut-kathyh (MERL-MerlinSideCut-kathyh)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Ah, someone who's seen Still Star Crossed. I have yet to see the premiere though I've set it up to record. Sounds like it could be interesting. I'll try to see it this week as I'm almost caught up on all the season finales I missed.

Date: 2017-06-06 01:42 pm (UTC)
thedabaracds: (k9)
From: [personal profile] thedabaracds
RE Dr Who: near the end of this last episode, I was practically shouting at the screen: Bill, just wake up the alien guy and say four words: I RECIND MY CONSENT!! Hey, it might have worked...

And why would anyone take advice from Missy without a wagonload of salt... Sociopaths can fake sympathy to get what they want, but once they get what they want, watch out. Actions speak a lot louder then words.



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