Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What Betty's Watching, Part Whatever

Today has been a badly needed rest day. I slept in, spent some time reading on the couch, took a walk, ordered a pizza, and watched some television. Bliss!

But it leaves me without much to talk about today. Except television. So, some comments on things I've been watching lately:

Class: I did watch the first episode! It feels, well, maybe a little too obviously aimed at teenagers for my own middle-aged tastes. To be honest, I can probably count the number of TV shows set in high schools that I've ever really enjoyed on two fingers. But it was pleasant enough, and while the first episode feels like a lot of setting things up, what it's setting up is potentially interesting, so I'm tentatively looking forward to the rest of it, and to seeing how it all shakes out. I'm not sure, though, whether it's a good sign or a bad sign that my interest levels in the first ep skyrocketed the minute the Doctor showed up.

Better Call Saul: The spinoff that seems like it should never have worked continues to work wonderfully well, but maybe that really shouldn't be much of a surprise given the sheer amount of raw talent both in front of and behind the cameras. Although possibly even more entertaining to me than the show itself is a comment Vince Gilligan made on Chris Hardwick's show after the season premiere. When asked about filming in the hot New Mexico sun, he said that New Mexico is like that original Star Trek episode with the space hippies: it's really beautiful, but then you realize everything is trying to kill you. I must say, of all the Star Trek episodes to find myself living in, I had not expected "The Way to Eden!"

Samurai Jack: I had forgotten how amazing this show was until it suddenly and belatedly came back. The revived version definitely has a bit of a different feel to it, but it's kept the same stylistic brilliance.

Once Upon a Time: Still the show I am most embarrassed to love unequivocally (if not unreservedly). I've heard rumors of possible major cast shake-ups, though, and perhaps a revamping of the show to accommodate those, and the way things are currently going in the storyline seems like it might be entirely consistent with something like that. I... am dubious about whether such a thing would even remotely work, but I guess we'll see. Maybe.

The Expanse: I never read the books this was based on, and I'm thinking now that was an oversight, as I'm really liking the series. It started off slow, but it's definitely holding my interest now. Although I do think it's one of those shows that may be better binge-watched, as the plot is pretty intricate, and I do keep finding myself forgetting important details from week to week. And it's interesting... I can think of very few space TV shows that are strictly solar system-based like this, and it may well be the very first genuinely hard SF TV show ever. But this is a subgenre that seems to be having a surprising pop cultural moment. A friend of mine suggested, when I brought this subject up, that that may have a lot to do with the fact it's much more feasible to do special effects involving zero-g and such than it was in the past, and I imagine that does account for a lot of it. But probably not all of it. It certainly doesn't account for the startling mainstream success of The Martian before it was ever adapted to film, for instance.

I may be watching other things, too, but if I am, they're either on hiatus right now, or have slipped my mind entirely. That's probably more than enough, though. Too much actually interesting stuff on TV is cutting way into my ability to work my way through the Netflix queue.


  1. I love Better Call Saul, even more than Breaking Bad, and I loved Breaking Bad.

    I'm also really enjoying the Expanse, though it's a bit weird as I have read all the books and am a very big fan. It's hitting all the same story beats -- there's not a lot they've invented whole-cloth for the show -- but it's doing at a slightly different rhythm. But it's really well made and well cast, and the story is compelling even if I know exactly where it's going. (I get to be like those smug people who watch Game of Thrones and say, "Well, actually, if you'd read the books...")

    I'm barely cognizant of what Class is, except that it's a Doctor Who-adjacent show?

    1. I can't say that I like Better Call Saul better than Breaking Bad, but I do like it an awful lot, and in some ways it almost impresses me more than the original. Because Saul was basically the comic relief character in BB, and how does it make any sense at all to give the comic relief guy his own show based around his tragic backstory? And yet.

      I've seen other people who've read the books saying much the same things about The Expanse. One day, I will watch a TV series based on books I have actually read, and experience this feeling for myself.

      Class is a Doctor Who spinoff show, set in Coal Hill School, a place that's made appearances in various eras of Who. It's very much a YA sort of thing. The Doctor appears in the first episode, but I don't think he comes back again after that. It came out in the UK last year, but has only now made it over here. To what seems to me like surprisingly little buzz.