Monday, April 09, 2012

Currently...

Yes, it's this again!

Current clothes: Mostly-blue, not-too-loud Hawaiian shirt, unbuttoned over a plain gray shirt. Blue jeans. White socks. Black sneakers.

Current mood: Not bad at all. I had a good weekend, my sleeping patterns are where they need to be, I worked a short day today, and I've managed to knock a few big items off my to-do list. All-in-all, it adds up to feeling pretty good.

Current music: Fashion Nugget by Cake.

Current annoyance: My plantar fasciitis is bugging me again, probably because I've gotten very haphazard about doing my stretches. Thank goodness (or podiatry) for the shoe inserts, though. Even when it's acting up, I'm mostly able to walk as much as I want with little or no pain. Which is particularly good, because I'm going out to visit my sister in a couple of months, and we're going hiking!

Current thing: I don't know. Lately, I've been in one of those moods where I really just want to spend all of my time lying on the sofa reading, but my ability to do that has been kind of limited.

Current desktop picture: Still the same Hawaiian mountain view as last month. I should change it soon.

Current book: 100 Fiendish Little Frightmares, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg and Martin H. Greenberg. It's a collection of very short horror stories, mostly about five or six pages. I've only read a few yet, but so far it's not bad. I've also just started I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech by Ralph Keyes, which I'm keeping in the kitten's room and dipping in and out of.

Current song in head: There've been all kinds of things swirling around in here, but I think often as not it's They Might Be Giants' "Dead."

Current DVD in player: On the treadmill, I'm still watching season one of the original Twilight Zone. In the living room, I've just finished disc one of Torchwood: Miracle Day, meaning I'm now three episodes in. Given the universally negative responses I've seen to Miracle Day, I was in no hurry to watch it, but I somehow felt like I ought to, eventually, if only for completeness' sake. So, now that it's out from Netflix, I'm finally watching it. And, yeah, so far it's not good. I suppose it's not actively bad, really, at least not in any interesting ways. It's just... not good. Which is a pity, considering that it has an intruiging premise. Not exactly an original one, admittedly, but their approach to it is interesting, with a lot of details that have the potential to make it a really effective horror story. It's a shame it's all mixed in with some wince-inducing pseudoscience, but, oh, well. This is Torchwood. My expectations for plausibility are low. No, the real problem is that so far the plot is just not at all engaging, and the directions it seems to be going in are not promising. It's also already giving the impression of too little story being dragged out over too many episodes. And I'm already tired of "Ha, ha, Americans and British people are different and use different words for things! What a hoot!", something that too often seems to be standing in place of both comic relief and character development. Ah, well. At least Jack is still pretty. Very, very pretty.

Current refreshment: Lemon ginger tea.

Current worry: As mentioned above, I'm going out to visit my sister in a couple of months, and I need to figure out what I'm doing with the cats. Since Happiness needs to take pills now, I can't just have somebody come by and dump food out for them this time, plus if the kitten's still around then, I very likely still won't be able to leave her alone with the other cats. Fortunately, I have several options, but all of them worry me slightly.

Current thought: I need to go pay some more attention to the kitten. And get some exercise. And maybe do the dishes. And maybe I ought to go watch another Torchwood episode. And, still, all I really want to do is lie on the sofa and read. Ah, well.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, Miracle Day... It started out interestingly, if not brilliantly, but it turned really, really bad very quickly. Which is a shame, because there is one genuinely terrific episode in the mix, and the show had been on such a great upward trajectory, from its not so good first season through the actually quite amazing Children of Earth. But so much went wrong, despite all the talent -- it's like a master class in how not to craft a television show -- and I don't envy you still having to get through it.

    I'll be curious to hear your thoughts when you do, but bear this in mind: except for one brief, hour-long moment, it never gets better. It often just gets worse.

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    1. Oh, well, I've finished it now. I actually got through it pretty quickly. Maybe that was due to a certain train-wreck fascination, although more likely it's because I just wanted to get it over with. And, man, it really is frustrating, because there are a fair number of ideas in there that are clever and promising, and a few character moments, mostly involving Gwen, that are really quite good (and thus feel like they belong in some other show entirely). But they do so many things wrong so consistently... And not even in entertaining MST3K-wothy ways, either, most of the time. It's just a lot of stuff that could potentially have worked if handled properly, but which somehow never hits the target. Until you get to the ending, that is, where suddenly it's all, "WTF, seriously?" and it all falls apart in a spectacularly ludicrous fashion. Sigh.

      I wouldn't say there's a single hour where it gets better, though. There are moments here and there where it does. More of them in some eps than in others. But mostly it's a slow downward spiral with a sharp plummet at the end.

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  2. I thought the flashback episode where Jack falls in love was actually quite good, surprisingly almost great. I'd have happily seen something like that in the second season, for instance -- maybe to replace that terrible evil carnival episode, let's say. Too bad that it amounted to nothing and was surrounded by so much dreck. Miracle Day didn't have the decency to be short.

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    1. I would probably agree with you about that one if it weren't for the fact that the romance, and particularly so much of the romantic dialog, often felt ridiculously melodramatic and cliche to me. And, once again, it's a shame, because the basic idea was fine, and there were aspects of it that I liked. (Admittedly, this may be largely a personal issue. There are very few TV or movie romances I actually find convincing, so I suppose it would have been far too much to hope this would have been an exception.)

      Even so, I think I did find that the most entertaining episode. And if I remember correctly, that one also had the scenes with Gwen and Jack in the car, yes? There was some genuinely great dialog between the two of them; if the whole thing had lived up to those scenes, it would have been awesome.

      Of course, in retrospect, the whole episode takes on an extra annoying tinge, because saying that it "amounted to nothing" is putting it mildly. I'm actually finding myself getting almost angry as I consider how clunky and pointless so much of what plot thread was.

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    2. Like I said, a master class in how not to write a TV show.

      From the ideas and structure recycled from Children of Earth -- shady government organizations trying to kill and/or erase Torchwood; those video contact lenses reused way too many times. To the annoyingly tedious yet continual "America sure is different from England. They don't even know the difference between England and Wales." To the under-used if not outright wasted guest cast. (It wouldn't be stretching to call a lot of them cameos.) To the guest cast that's used far too much to no good effect. (Alexa Havins and Mekhi Phifer deserve special mention for ass-clown agents Esther and Rex, but nobody really comes across very well in the end. That whole middle section with Marc Vann as the director of the death camp still makes me cringe. Especially since I know the usually reliable Jane Espenson wrote it.) To the red herrings, repetitions, forced Big Moments that almost always fell flat, and all the padding and stalling and incompetence.

      Yeah, it makes me angry thinking about it, too.

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    3. Yeah, that's a really good way of putting it. Hell, I'd think it could, in fact, be really useful exercise for would-be TV scriptwriters to pick it apart.

      By the way, you forgot the heavy-handed and over-simplistic politics, the clunky (and frequently entirely unnecessary) exposition, the awkwardly tacked-on attempts to somehow interest us in fundamentally uninteresting characters, the plot points that make no sense if you think about them for two seconds, and no doubt a whole host of other things. Sigh.

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  3. It was painful following Jane Espenson on Twitter when she was live-tweeting the episodes. It was all I could do not tweet back, "Jane, we love you, but you and Russell wrote a real stinker with this one."

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    1. Yeah, she's done some great stuff, but this... was not it. Although I'm choosing to believe that it wasn't entirely her fault, but that she just was given bad material to work with and perhaps was constrained in annoying ways. If she was all positive about it on on the live-tweeting, I don't think I want to know about it. It was bad enough watching those stupid introductions/promos before each episode with RTD and Barrowman telling us what we were about to see (because it doesn't speak for itself, apparently), and trying to convince us of how staggeringly great it was going to be. God, that was cringe-worthy.

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    2. I must have lucked out by watching it during its first run. I didn't see those introductions.

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    3. I'm surprised. I assumed they aired before the show's broadcast run. They had a bit of an air of "Please watch our show that's coming up next!" about them. If they were added just for the DVD release... Well, man, that's a whole new level of "What were they thinking?!" Because they really did just add insult to injury. I kept wanting to yell, "You don't get to tell us what the episode is doing, Russell! And if you have to, it's a good indication you did something wrong! You also don't get to be the one to judge how exciting it is. Just shut up and show us the damn story!" It pretty much meant that I went into every single episode already pre-irritated.

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  4. Just caught up on this discussion. Because it didn't start till a week after the original post I nearly missed it.

    I can only agree with everything that's been said about the show. I rather fell in love with Esther, though, so naturally they killed her off. (They did the same thing with Tosh in series 2.) When the show was aired in the UK we were spared the introductions, so that is something to be grateful for.

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    1. I'm a little impressed you found enough personality in Esther to fall in love with. She seemed vaguely pleasant to me, but... flat. And the stuff with her sister felt too tacked-on, too emotionally manipulative to work for me as characterization. Come to that, her death felt tacked-on and manipulative, too. And you should be so, so glad to be spared those introductions. They were painful.

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  5. "And the stuff with her sister felt too tacked-on, too emotionally manipulative to work for me as characterization. Come to that, her death felt tacked-on and manipulative, too."

    I'd have to agree with that. I think I tend to identify with characters who feel out of their depth, but go on and get the job done anyway and find more strength and ability within themselves than they expected. The "feeling out of their depth" part is true of me too, but probably not the second part. Of course it didn't hurt that she was very pretty. :)

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    1. Yeah, that part of her characterization was done better, at least. But I'm afraid that's not saying a whole lot. :)

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