Tuesday, 24 February 2009

An letter of complaint to the producers of Deadwood

Dear Mr Milch and HBO

I am respectfully writing to you as per the request of my poor aged mother, now well past her 60th birthday, who discovered Deadwood only in the last year and has now viewed all three seasons of the Emmy and Golden Globe award winning show.

She rang me this morning in much consternation over the show and asked me to facilitate the forwarding of the following sentiments to you. I feel it best to quote her directly as she was quite flustered and I feel an accurate transcription of her request would better communicate her feelings to you regarding the television programme, as well as reflect the impact this show has had upon her life.

“What the fuck were you fucking thinking introducing me to that fucking show? You couldn’t fucking mention the cocksucking producers had cancelled the fucking thing before the storylines were fucking resolved? I just sat through three, count them three, motherfucking seasons of it for fucking nothing. Nothing! I want you to get on to those motherfucking bastards and tell them that if they don’t produce another fucking season or at least a fucking movie to finish it off, I’ll cut their motherfucking throats and feed them to Mr Wu’s pigs; the fucking cocksuckers.”

I understand the likelihood of the promised films being produced is now unlikely. However, I ask you to please consider the emotions of my poor mother who is now reduced to watching repeats of Star Trek and Upstairs Downstairs; shows she previously enjoyed but now finds has inadequately-bland dialogue and a lack of sex scenes involving corsets.

Thanks and regards
The Recapper

Addendum: I should add that one of the 'Spot On' selections for this post is from my mother, who rang me up this evening after reading it and said, "are the producers going to read this?". When I broke it to her that no, it was highly unlikely, she said "umph" and hung up on me; however I think she'd just finished cooking dinner or something.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Dollhouse: Trust the Joss

Remember in season 5 of Buffy when the quality suddenly slumped and we all sat determinedly through 3 seasons of truly awful television wondering why we were still watching? It’s because, in my house and probably in yours, whenever you complained someone said, “trust the Joss, the Joss has a plan”.

And thus we come to my preliminary opinion of the Dollhouse, Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku’s latest television foray, and it goes like this, “trust the Joss, the Joss has a plan”.

Firstly, an outline of the premise: the Dollhouse is some sort of top-secret organisation that, for a fee, will programme one of their “Dolls” for whatever task you have in mind from perfect date to a hostage negotiator. Echo, the main character, is one of the Dolls, whose mind is wiped and then has new memories downloaded so she believes she’s anyone she’s programmed to be.

Whedon’s shows tend to be characterised by a few things: a larger proportion of female characters and a wider variety of represented femineities than other programmes; a rich and complex mythological world developed slowly over a long period of time; elaborate and expensive sets that require significant upfront investment from a network; and a slow build-up to the show that can take as much as 12 episodes (no, in choosing this number it’s no coincidence that this is where Firefly hit its stride). It’s the last two that killed Firefly, particularly because Fox has a tendency to prefer the big bang of instant success over the slow burn and no one watching a quality Whedon show is going to get all their answers in the first few episodes.

Watching Dollhouse, I get the distinct feeling Whedon is frantically trying to avoid these problems and as such we’ve been presented with an untypically uneven first two episodes to the show. There’s only one word for the first half hour of the series and that is CLUNK. The dialogue is terrible, the acting ordinary and the exposition excessive even for a series premiere. The show improved significantly in the second half and Dushku managed to rise sufficiently to the demands of the part, momentarily quietening my concerns about her acting. But episode 2 was suddenly a completely different show with a different pacing, mood and the sudden introduction of what I assume is the “Alpha arc”.

The problem with the show so far is that there are too many unanswered questions: and not of the good Whedonesque kind. Most of these questions arise from the fundamental premise of the show, which at the moment appears convoluted and contrived. Considering the high price tag, why would anyone hire a Doll when they can get a normal person who can do anything they can for a much lower price tag? If a Doll’s memory is completely wiped between assignments, how can they function at all? If a Doll on assignment is completely unaware he or she is a Doll, why do they enthusiastically return to base for their “treatment” at the end of their mission?

Unless these fundamental issues are resolved, the show is never going to achieve the greatness of its predecessors but hey, for now, “trust the Joss, the Joss has a plan”.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The best of the worst

I've mentioned so many bad sci fi/fantasy shows in passing lately that I was inspired to do a poll on the worst shows ever. I had some difficulty with the list. Should I for example include shows, like Primeval, that are still airing? Should I include shows like Lexx that are deliberately, almost gloriously, awful? After having the misfortune to watch some Smallville recently, I was tempted to add that.

Vote in the poll or let me know if you think I've missed anything significant. Results will be released in April.

Dollhouse: it had better not be Barbies

Josh Whedon has a new show? And it's just started in the States? And as soon as I'm allowed to use my unbelievably-maxed-out internet connection again I'll be doing a review? I. Am. Excited.

A few questions spring to my mind about the whole thing though. Why oh why is the God of TV writing going back to Fox? What could they have possibly offered him that would encourage him to go through all that again? And yes, apparently it is all happening again. The bad timeslots, the reshot pilot, the insistence on playing episodes out of order. And while I hate to spend so much time commenting on US TV network politics in an Australian blog, these issues do affect us because it determines whether we even get the show or if it gets renewed.

Secondly, I have serious concerns about Eliza Dushku's acting ability. The woman was fantastic as Faith but terrible in Tru Calling (Man, was that the worse show ever? If you think so, vote in the poll) and her movie appearances haven't been stellar either.

Well, on Sunday we will see. Until then, keep complaining.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

True Blood Recaps: Fangs, bangs and bongs

Only a few weeks after I rather presciently advocated watching True Blood, it has just started on Australian screens. For those of you about to navigate the textual EXTRAVAGANZA that is the new vampire show (and you know who you are), I could not begin to do the show justice like Television Without Pity's Jacob. His fascinating recaps on the show are on their website. Personally, I think he's far too kind to the character of Jason "I am my penis" Stackhouse but other than that, his recaps are pretty much the A+ he gives every episode of the first season.