Category Archives: TV

Idiot Clowns

Nope. Never liked’m.

Watching the Thanksgiving episode of the rebooted Murphy Brown on CBS, where Murphy decides to cook dinner with easily anticipated and well-worn results, it struck me exactly why I don’t find the show very funny. And why I really don’t find any of the CBS comedies since the 1990s very funny: Idiot Clowns.

In general, it’s why I don’t find a lot of comedy very funny. Idiot Clown comedy requires an idiot clown — someone so stupid they are unaware of basic reality, a blindness forced on them to enable a (typically) lame joke. I find it cheap and easy and without much value.

More to the point, I just don’t like idiots or clowns in my entertainment.

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Actors Ain’t All That

As someone whose high school and college education focused on writing and storytelling (through stage, film, and video), I’ve long been askance at how much culture reveres actors while not paying as much attention to the writers who provide their words or the directors who control much of what they do.

I do not at all mean to suggest actors aren’t also artists who bring important skills to the table. In college, I had to find people willing to act (for free!) in my productions — I couldn’t tell my stories without them — so I’m well acquainted with their importance and skills.

My point is only that the stories we love owe as much, if not more, to the writers and directors who create them in the first place.

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Preacher: Adaptation Fail!

Loving art is not the same as loving your children: with art, you’re allowed to have favorites. Within any beloved medium or genre, there are always favorites. Of interest here is a long-time favorite of mine, the late-1990s graphic novel Preacher, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon. It’s a violent, gory, wonderfully original story involving: a southern preacher, an Irish vampire, the Saint of Killers, the off-spring of an angel and a demon, and God himself (not to mention Tulip, the Grail organization, and a, pardon the expression, “host” others).

When a favorite literary work (such as Preacher) is adapted for film or TV one has a sense of both anticipation and trepidation. On the one hand, seeing the work come to life can be wonderful. But on the other, it can be awful if (you feel) the adaptation doesn’t honor the source.

To me, the AMC adaptation of Preacher is the latter: awfully awful.

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Reboots

The other night, I watched the first episode of the CBS reboot of Murphy Brown, and my first thought is that I hope it gets better. A lot better. The only part I liked was the cameo by Hillary Clinton playing “Hillary Clindon,” a potential secretary for Candice Bergen’s Murphy Brown. (If I remember the original show correctly, Brown had a long and troubled history with secretaries, which puts a bit of icing on the scene.)

Seeing the main characters again, for me, was awkward and close to cringe-worthy. They seem very much a product of their era (1988-1998) and didn’t translate well across the two decades that have brought so much social and technical change.

Part of the problem might be that I find CBS half-hour sitcoms tediously dull, cliché-filled, totally unfunny, marshmallow realities.

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The Break Break Up

In an almost weird bit of prescience, I broke up with Michelle Wolf’s The Break just days before Netflix did. The several articles I read announcing it reported that Netflix hadn’t offered a reason for the cancellation, and speculated on connections with an apparent history of failed talk shows. Netflix just bad at talk shows, was the implication.

Let me offer another reason, perhaps the real reason. The show was awful. It was painfully not funny, nor was it terribly creative. It tried hard to be, but the result was usually more like a bad SNL script. And, regrettably, Ms Wolf may not be a good choice for talk show host.

After hanging in there since the beginning, I just couldn’t any more. I had to bail.

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Barr and Bee

Roseanne Barr is still generating the occasional headline with her antics in reaction to the cancellation of her ABC show, so I thought that, rather than just delete this post (which has been sitting in my Drafts folder), I’d set it free to roam the web. “Better out than in,” I believe the saying goes (and, yes, I’m well aware of what that then compares this post to; I stand by that comparison).

One thing I found interesting about it all was the contrast between Barr’s transgression and one made by Samantha Bee on her TBS show. There were some similarities in that both involved personal insults made by popular entertainment figures from their chosen platforms. There are also differences in content, as well as in how Barr and Bee handled themselves after.

Currently we’re in a very reactive, very polarized environment, and the Barr and Bee fracas put it all on mini-display.

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I Don’t Like Dinosaurs

I should probably start by hastening to add: I don’t dislike dinosaurs, either! It’s an ambiguity of English that when one says, “I don’t like X,” it can mean one has negative feelings about the ‘X’ in question, or it can mean just that one has no positive feelings for it — that one is neutral (or perhaps not interested enough to have an opinion).

It’s an easy jump from “don’t like” to “dislike,” so the phrase, “I don’t like X,” is usually taken that way. But I have wiring in my brain that makes me see it more literally — as failing to have a liking for ‘X’ — so I often have to clarify what I mean.

And what I mean is that I have zero interest in dinosaurs.

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Westworld: Final Reflections

Make no mistake here: I am still definitely a fan of HBO’s Westworld. I think it’s pretty darn good television science fiction, but I do recognize that it’s not great TV SF. It is a bit niche, both as SF and as a puzzle box, and this season seems to suffer some poor (or at least odd) thinking along with some apparent style-over-substance decisions.

But I’m still a fan; I’ll be back to watch season three. In 2020. If I’m even still alive. (I’m old enough for that not to be a given, although it never really is.) I’ve seen a lot more negative coverage this season (generally well-deserved, I think), and I’m hoping it is taken to heart and results in a better third season.

In this last Westworld post (for now) I offer some general reflections and observations of the series so far.

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Westworld: Yeah, But!

The more I reflect on the second season of HBO’s Westworld, the more I have some very serious questions about key aspects of the story. In the first season, I had serious questions about The Maze, which was central to the story. This season’s serious questions, equally story central, seem even more serious.

Primarily, there is the matter of the Peter Abernathy encryption key, which spans both seasons. Secondarily, there are the related matters of The Door and The Flood. And, finally, there is the matter of Ford’s Final Game for William.

I really can’t seem to find the logic behind any of them! They all give me a bad case of the Yeah, Buts!

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Westworld: More Questions!

The second season of the HBO show, Westworld, has answered many of the questions raised in season one. Of course, it’s also raised a whole crop of new questions! And, sadly, that crop seems to contain more WTF questions than last season.

The big WTF in the first season was The Maze, and there were some smaller ones, mostly to do with Ford’s astonishing foresight into what people would do. (Smacks a bit of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory.) But this season has a number of choices that strike me as working backwards from a cool image or as style over substance.

More important are the actual questions raised, and hopefully there are far more of those. Let’s find out (serious spoilers, obviously)…

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