Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on May 20, 2018

Fahrenheit 451 is HBO’s adaptation of the Ray Bradbury story with Michael B. Jordan, Sofia Boutella, and Michael Shannon. Though I know the gist, I’ve never read the book or seen any adaptation before, so while they’ve definitely updated some things for the digital age, I’m not sure whether some things are new, or if they’re from the original. Certainly all the social media stuff must be new, but there’s also a fair amount about the control of information being used to feed people false narratives, which is either added to be relevant in 2018, or in the original and one of the reasons they chose to make an adaptation now.

It’s interesting in the beginning but kinda falls apart towards the end. Which may be the fault of the source material, I dunno. It was ok.

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Posted in tv by Bill on May 13, 2018

Patrick Melrose is a new Showtime miniseries with Benedict Cumberbatch as an addict dealing with the death of his father (Hugo Weaving) who he hates. It’s apparently quite well-reviewed, but the first episode is like Wes Anderson’s Trainspotting (Cumberbatch is having withdrawals and wants to get to his hotel room to take drugs, so we get a perfectly symmetrical shot of an old timey uniformed bellhop escorting him down the hotel hallway). Hopefully it’s not just “upper class British guy talking to himself as he has a drug-related meltdown” the whole time, but after about 30 minutes of that I’d had enough.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 7, 2018

Killing Eve is a new BBC America show that starts on Sunday but is already available on demand. It stars Sandra Oh, who I’m not normally huge on, but it’s adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge from a series of novels, and after Fleabag I’m willing to give a shot to most anything she writes. It’s an international espionage thing, with an MI5 agent (Oh) chasing an assassin (Jodie Comer who I don’t know), and while the story is treated seriously, the characters have a sense of humor (and humorlessness is a good way to make me lose interest in an otherwise decent show). It’s a good pilot. Nothing groundbreaking, but I liked it and I want to see more.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 4, 2018

The Crossing is a new ABC show with a scifi premise, kinda recalling The 4400 in reverse, starring Steve Zahn, Sandrine Holt, Dutch from The Shield, and some other people. It’s not great or anything, but had the luxury or premiering in a week when all the talk shows are off and no new streaming series dropped the weekend before, so I’m more open to giving a thing some time to develop into something.

The advertising is kind of annoying though. “From the network that brought you Lost,” or whatever, when it’s also the network that brought you Perfect Strangers, so why does that matter?

Posted in tv by Bill on April 2, 2018

Barry is Bill Hader’s HBO series about an awkward, depressed hitman who meets a cute girl who’s trying to be an actor and suddenly decides he wants to be an actor. I can’t really tell if he wants to act, or if he’s just reacting to people being friendly and welcoming to him, and he’s more interested in doing what he needs to do to be around them than he is in actual acting. Weirdly, this show makes me think I could fairly easily end up in a cult. If some cult had an attainably-cute girl shower me with attention and gently steer me to whatever stupid bullshit they were peddling, I think I’d react just like Bill Hader reacts to this girl and acting. Because I, too, am awkward and depressed.

But I digress. The show is more interesting than good through two episodes. I was hoping it’d be funnier, because Bill Hader is really funny in some stuff, but I guess jokes aren’t en vogue. It’s not bad, though I’m sticking with it because the story is reasonably interesting, and maybe it’ll have funny parts later or something.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 29, 2018

Roseanne took about 20 years off and is back now at ABC, and even though it’s a dated-seeming multi-camera sitcom, it’s still pretty solid. It’s not great or anything, but it’s still got likable characters (John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are kinda great in anything) and makes relatively bold choices over what issues to cover (trans/gender type stuff, politics, healthcare, and general working class issues all pop up in just the first two episodes) compared to other multi-camera shows. The laugh track isn’t great, but it would honestly feel weird without it, both because that’s how it always was, and because most single camera comedies are aimed at relatively educated/wealthy audiences, and this is not that.

The politics are handled surprisingly well. Roseanne Barr is a Trump supporter, so they made Roseanne Conner a Trump supporter, but Jackie is vehemently anti-Trump. They don’t attempt to really take a side, and Jackie gets in as many good barbs as Roseanne does, so it doesn’t come off as a pro-Trump show at all. And it ends up feeling honest, because I’m sure many families are divided like that, and Roseanne is really just the kind of poor white voter that would have voted Democrat for years but gone for Trump.

Basically the whole cast, other than Johnny Galecki and the late Glenn Quinn, returns. And actually, Galecki and Quinn’s characters were kinda retconned into one (Gaclecki’s David was Darlene’s boyfriend and Quinn’s Mark was with Becky, until the finale when the retcon said that Mark was actually with Darlene, and I dunno if that meant David never existed? I forget) and they run with that, even though they abandon the idea of Dan being dead. So Darlene has a Mark Jr., which is a little strange. And Sarah Chalke appears not as Becky but as someone else, though they do make a decent fourth wall joke about it.

The one thing it isn’t is for new viewers. It assumes you know the old show, and relies a fair amount on existing dynamics and nostalgia. But I liked the first several seasons of the old show, and the return works well.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 7, 2018

Electric Dreams is an Amazon anthology series based on Philip K. Dick stories. Very much attempting to be Amazon’s Black Mirror.

It has been airing on Channel Four in the UK since late last year, but Amazon just started showing it recently. Interestingly, they chose a different episode order. Channel Four opened with a Robb Stark episode, but Robb Stark is apparently Scottish in real life, and his accent in his episode is completely unintelligible. I almost never had to do this, but I had to turn on subtitles for English to English translation. So I completely get Amazon not opening with this in America. Instead, they chose to go with bigger celebrities (Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard) and to aim for that San Junipero market with some lesbians (Paquin and Rachelle Lefevre) in the episode they opened with. But I don’t get why the order is so radically different, Amazon went with 5, 8, 6, 4, 1, 9, 10, 2, 3, 7.

Solid casts throughout, with Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Juno Temple, Janelle Monae, Davos from GoT, the title actress of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Maura Tierney, Greg Kinnear, the main lady from The Killing, Mel Rodriguez from The Last Man on Earth, Vera Farmiga, and Benedict Wong.

It suffers a bit from being adaptations of sometimes 50+ year old stories. They do update them some, but the themes and ideas from the original stories were likely so influential that by 2018, they seem cliched (is there a name for this? in my mind it’s the “Rebel Without a Cause effect” since by the time I saw that movie in ~1998 it just seemed like a special episode of 90210). It invites comparison to Black Mirror, and Black Mirror has fresher themes and newer ideas and is generally more relevant to the 21st century. But it’s not bad, just not as good as something more fresh.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 3, 2018

Good Girls stars Chrstina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as suburban moms with money problems who become criminals. I enjoy the crime comedies in general, but this is one of those “every man is a piece of shit so let’s use girl power to stick it to them!” things. I imagine this would be pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but it’s not for me.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 19, 2018

Final Space is an upcoming TBS animated scifi/comedy series that didn’t have anything funny in the ads but I still thought might be good. They put the first two episodes online (here) and there was still nothing funny in them. The plot is pretty serialized and actually shows a lot of potential, but the jokes… the main character reminds me a bit of Will Forte’s character in The Last Man on Earth, but only the parts where he’s annoying and not funny. So if you’d like to watch a scifi series with no laughs about a guy who alternates between massive insecurity and bravado (that can’t be backed up), then this could be pretty great. But I can’t say I’m interested in that.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 5, 2018

alteredcarbonI’d been really excited about Netflix’s Altered Carbon, based on really nothing more than that the trailers looked kinda Blade Runner-ish and it was based on some book people said was good. While i isn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, it’s still high production value scifi, really cool visual design, some hot naked women (and dudes, the nudity was actually a little excessive at times), a reasonably good detective story over the course of the season, and it has some interesting ideas.

Like, I can tell it has an interesting scifi concept by the fact that I keep thinking about all the crazy implications of the technology they have (they mostly focused on the religious questions and violence and death losing their taboos, but I think they’d have crazy problems identifying anyone (is this your best friend, or is it a stranger in your friend’s sleeve? Is this a stranger, or your best friend in a new sleeve?), people getting whatever new sleeve is available would result in changing genders and changing racist so I think you’d lose a lot of sexism/racism and more people would be pansexual, and sleeve farming has to be huge business).

I do worry about season 2 (which I assume will be a thing, but I don’t really know for sure), binging shows often leaves me forgetting lots about the show by the time the next season rolls around, and there was a lot going on here. Lots of characters, lots of plot twists, lots of terminology to remember… hopefully I’ll remember to hunt down a recap or something, more than the little two minute thing Netflix has done for a lot of their shows, to refresh before season 2’s released.