Category Archives: TV

NCIS: Widening Gyre

Just last March I asked, Am I Over NCIS? The question seems even more pressing given the NCIS season 16 finale. (Spoiler warning on the season, not to mention any and all previous seasons.) I’ve never been this mixed in my feelings regarding the characters, and the off-screen personal stuff is especially disturbing given other ugly entertainment-related realities that have been uncovered recently.

There is additional pressure from time in the saddle as well as from how viewing habits have changed (both mine and the world’s). Weekly episodes of commercial-filled broadcast TV seem increasingly quaint somehow. And sixteen seasons — most of them 24 episodes — is a lot of NCIS (378 episodes; over 260 hours).

All-in-all, for me the sun may well be setting on NCIS.

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Am I Over NCIS?

If I reverse the first two words of the title (and call the question mark to attention), it removes all uncertainty, but for now I’m on the fence and asking. I’ve already reached certainty with both spin-offs (the oldest many years ago, the younger sibling just last year). Now, either I might be over their parent, NCIS, or just maybe the show itself is over.

I sometimes get the sense I’m more attached to the idea of over than many. I’ve mentioned more than once that I try to look forward, and around, rather than in the rear-view mirror. I’ve also mentioned how a primary ask of mine for stories is: “Take me someplace new.”

Nostalgia never had much pull for me, nor did more-of-the-same once a story has been finished.

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Storytelling Icons

I don’t know if this is age, experience, or truth (likely a combination), but it feels as if storytelling in the new millennium has become superficial and shallow. Many of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen appear to be mere strings of icons so well-worn we don’t even think about them.

It’s as if the vocabulary of storytelling has expanded into LEGO® pieces connected to build colorful plastic stories lacking in nuance and detail. Special pieces (like little people or wheels) make the model a bit more real-seeming, but those same complete parts get used and reused.

And some of them have started to really annoy me…

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TV 5.0: A Story Cornucopia

Because I knew I’d be dog-sitting Bentley for two weeks, I spent the weeks prior getting a lot of work done with the specific intention of burning out a bit and needing some loaf time. I figured I could spend Bentley time, when not actually interacting with her, reading and catching up on TV (both queues are long). The Yang to the Yin is that, after a goodly break, the work would seem fresh again.

The point is that I’ve been watching a lot of TV. During the day (when not “dogging it”), I’ve read (more about that another post); and in the evenings, I’ve watched TV 5.0.

Which is to say cable-cut internet-streaming wifi TV using downloaded apps from the manufacturer’s online store. We’ve come a very long way (baby).

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Cut the Cable!

Snip!

I just took the plunge and cancelled my Comcast cable!

I’ve been on the cable since 2002, so they were sorry to see me go. I’m sure they are. Cable companies have been losing a lot of customers as technology shifts to a streaming environment. For me, an additional consideration is that, while Comcast has definitely improved how they roll, I have many bad feelings from the earlier years when they seemed always on the Ten Worst Company lists.

The combination of those feelings, plus the economics and logistics of it all, made it exactly the right choice for me now.

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Super Stupid SF

I think I’ve reached the breaking point with The Orville. Watching episode five of the new season, I found myself yelling at the TV for the fifth time, because the writing seems so stupid and the characters seem so lame. I’m angry that a show with so much potential is so infuriating and dumb. I had to turn the episode off and start this post.

When the second season started, I re-watched the entire first season as an appetizer, and my conclusion was that there were many more good episodes than bad. There’s really only one I found a stinker (and couldn’t watch all of), but overall it was positive. I was looking forward to the second season.

Sadly, I’ve really hated all five episodes so far. I’m really torn about watching the show anymore.

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The 13th Doctor

The Doctor is in!

I’ve written before (twice) about how much I love Doctor Who (even more than Star Trek, and that’s saying something). I’ll tell you right now: nothing’s changed; it’s still my favorite TV science fiction show, hands down. I am enjoying the big changes this season: a new The Doctor and a new show runner, Chris Chibnall.

The big change to The Doctor, of course, is the first ever female incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker. For some this is a bit like a female James Bond, but the idea that Time Lords (slash Ladies) are gender-fluid is canonical. (Statistically speaking, it’s past time The Doctor was female. As the season promos put it: It’s about time!)

In many ways, I find the fan reactions to these changes as interesting as the show itself!

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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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