nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “television

Gotham

If you missed the premiere of FOX’s Gotham, they’re airing an encore tonight (Friday). Or you could just read what I think of it and save yourself the hassle.

Love and Hate are not opposites. Love and Indifference are.
Love and Hate, by their very nature, both exist on and elicit some degree of passion. Indifference is merely a shrug and a “meh.”

I’m just north of indifference after Gotham’s first outing, though there are a few things keeping me tethered to the idea of testing the waters again next week.

The first of which is not morbid curiosity—though there’s a healthy enough dose of that—but rather an inexplicable attachment to a couple of characters. The kid who plays Bruce Wayne displays a compelling range of emotion, and I rather enjoyed the little glimpses of his life at Wayne Manor after his parents’ death. The OC guy, now pre-Commissioner Gordon, manages to be quite likable without much evident charisma. In less than a hour, though, we see him adapting to his situation, going from a straight-laced noob to a calculating, latent dissenter. Gordon doesn’t grab your attention by having a big, boisterous personality or even by being the relatable ‘every man’ in a world of crazies; instead, his likability is almost completely fueled by his actions, which subtly demonstrate that we’re watching a multidimensional character who could have a legitimately interesting arc ahead.

As for the villains…I really like the casting for Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin). He’s sniveling and skeevy and kinda perfect, but his presence felt ham-handed. To that point, I found just one placement particularly intriguing: Edward Nygma (who we know will eventually be the Riddler) as a forensic specialist for the Gotham City Police Department. His position and delivery felt like that of a playful yet socially awkward intellectual and less like fan-service.

My biggest complaint* about Gotham thus far is that the creators obviously wanted to get the most bang for their buck with the first episode. Consequently, they made their universe far too small far too quickly with far too much explication. With so many current and future villains shoehorned into 40-some minutes, it all felt overly contrived. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in every episode. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in cahoots with all of the other bad guys. And most importantly, we the audience do not need to be told so explicitly who everyone is. Let the casual fans create theories about interconnectness while the die-hards discover how established storylines are modified and portrayed. A gradual, captivating narrative with a satisfying reveal can work for both avid and uninformed Batfans.

It’s not without promise; in fact, it’s possible that Gotham could hit its stride and ultimately be fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of “meh” to muddle through so soon out of the gate.

tweet*Other complaints…
• Jada Pinkett Smith. Seriously, her character is just awful.
• Uncomfortable camera angles that get up in people’s faces as they’re running. Not flattering.
• Is Catwoman supposed to be a teenager? She’s got one of those faces that kind of looks young but kind of looks like she could be in her 40s. It’s unsettling.
• Can we cut the camp just a little bit?! While I appreciate that it’s got enough levity to keep it out of the Nolan-verse, I fear that its zany tendencies could push it into the realm of the ’90s films.

 

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The Trouble With TV

One of my superpowers is unwittingly offending people. Generous use of sarcasm tends to contribute, though I’ve also been known to cause a kerfuffle without employing snark.

The past few months have taught me that one of the best ways to elicit this power is by discussing my views on facebook…not my political or religious views, mind you, but my views on cable/satellite tv.

Yes, you read that right. TV.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve managed to instigate a few heated debates over the virtues of dropping cable. As it turns out, people are hardcore about their television habits.

We ditched cable back in 2009 for a number of reasons, none of which included us trying to be elitist. Instead, most of it came down to cost-to-use ratio and desire to limit content/distraction. I’ll touch on the latter in a moment, but first let’s talk money.

The most significant result of ditching cable has been financial. We regularly watched only a handful of channels, so the full complement of cable/satellite service just isn’t important enough for us to justify the expense. For less than what we were paying on cable tv alone, we now pay for internet and Netflix. If we wanted to catch more current shows, we could subscribe to Hulu and still be in the black. There’s a one-time expense for the antenna ($30-50) but “over-the-air” programming is free.

We live in a somewhat rural area about 40 miles outside of Kansas City, MO; even that far away our antenna picks up 15 or so channels. In addition to the big networks, ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX, there are 3 PBS stations, some that broadcast infomercials and trash, and a few others that focus on classic shows. If you’ve been around here long, you know how much I love Bob Newhart; he and numerous other favorites are welcomed into my home each week thanks to Me-TV on free tv.

As for the content and distraction…well as you just saw, we still have plenty of distraction. The tv is powered on pretty much every evening. The difference is it’s just not as big a draw for us now as it used to be. If there’s nothing particularly intriguing to watch, we’re more inclined to turn it off and go do something rather than simply flip over to HGTV and settle for hours of House Hunters.

There aren’t as many programming options readily available but we are content with those to which we have access. For the programs we really want to watch, we catch up online and stream via Netflix, I borrow content from coworkers and we overtake my parents’ living room every Sunday night for The Walking Dead. Now that’s quality family time right there!

So yes, we still find ways to watch tv though we may not always be current on the popular shows. It’s just not that huge of a priority for us.

And that’s the controversial part—because it doesn’t rank high on our personal list of priorities, it is perceived as a commentary/critique on what kind of priority it is (good, misplaced or other) for others. While that’s never been the intent, it does make me think… If we bristle at something as trivial as someone challenging our media habits, it’s likely because we are feeling pressured to examine our priorities. Priorities are the point of contention, not how someone sates his television cravings.

How do I respond when someone suggests that I’m perhaps too reliant on my cell phone? Am I offended when people negatively comment on my plethora of Star Wars toys and memorabilia?
Is that pang of anger and inclination to defensive retort an indication that I/we haven’t heretofore considered the state of my/our priorities?

Very few things in our lives are are truly essential. We need only sustenance, some bit of clothing and shelter enough to protect ourselves from the most extreme weather. Apart from those necessities, we have options aplenty that we prioritize either consciously or subconsciously.

The options on which we choose to spend our money are a pretty good indication of our priorities. This has been the case since biblical times; Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV).

It’s healthy for us to examine our priorities every so often, just as it is to periodically evaluate how we allocate financial resources. Scrutinizing our values and behaviors then deciding how to proceed are imperative for personal growth. But it’s certainly personal. What works for my family needn’t necessarily work for yours.

So if I tell you that I’m anti-cable/satellite, don’t take it personally, okay? Save the indignation for when I say something really stupid, because I undoubtedly will (whether I mean to or not).

 


Dance! Don’t Swim

Sleep is awesome. It rejuvenates the body and exposes the mind to a vast world altogether hidden
in the waking realm. Some of the most creative outpourings spring forth from the land of sleep.
Paul McCartney famously penned “Yesterday” from a dream. Mary Shelley and Stephen King both credit dreams for some of their greatest works. And Stephenie Meyer claims a dreamy origin for the wildly popular story of a certain sparkly vampire who fell in love with an utterly human girl—love it or hate it, there’s no denying the success.

A couple of years ago, I had my own fiercely imaginative dream. I considered it wholly absurd at the time, nothing more than silliness. Then last year, I began seeing advertisements for reality TV shows Splash and Stars in Danger: The High Dive. Absurdity is a barrier no more. Imagine if you will…

DANCE!
Don’t Swim

As audiences have come to expect from programs like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars,
a panel of judges sits facing the stage. What sets this apart from the others is the stage floor—or rather, what lies beneath it. Unlike the typical black particleboard flooring, this is clear plexiglass that reveals a daunting body of water below.

Storyboard by Darth Amethystos

In this episode, the stage curtain rises to reveal a massive set designed to resemble the treed ewok village of Endor. A team of dancers and acrobats dressed in ewok costumes performs an interpretive dance to the music of Star Wars (specifically, a medley of the melodic theme “Luke and Leia” and “Parade of the Ewoks”).
A sort of Cirque du Soleil meets Star Wars, one might say.

As the performers embark on their number,
the floor splits in the middle and opens.
Judges can choose to dunk the entire company or individual performers (who are connected to fly cables) should they fail to impress…mid-performance.

See, there’s a chance that somebody can plummet into the water at any given moment, from any height. It’s entertaining and exciting. And a little masochistic.

Each dance team (minus any individuals who swam) that manages to stay dry moves on to the semifinals until one group emerges as the ultimate victor.

You heard it here first, kids. Dance! Don’t Swim. It’s Must-Sea TV. har har