We don't normally watch much TV, but lately it's increased. Mostly it's a wasteland designed to turn human brains into tapioca for aliens who think those are a delicacy. I remain convinced the harvest will happen any time now. But there are interesting shows to watch.
The latest of them for us is The OA. This isn't for everyone, that's for sure, but I love watching shows and reading books where I don't know where it's going or how it's going to come out. There's a balance between plodding stupidity and outright lunacy, where there's an interesting story to be told, complete with unexpected but not entirely implausible plot twists. The Coen brothers are masters at this.
I don't mind a show taking a bit of time for us to get to know the characters, but not too much. That way during the nearly inevitable chase scene, we care about the outcome. No matter how the chase is constructed or the stunts involved (and no cars don't blow up or roll over like that and I'm sick of seeing it) it's only interesting if the characters are not cardboard.
I don't care about the visual effects if the story isn't there. (Looking at you, Avatar!) Anything set in high school, or featuring high school kids as the main characters, which is almost all of the superheros at best, gets a very high dubious rating from me. I'm just not interested in teenage drama.
Some violence and grit is ok. After all, a world of nothing but rainbows and unicorn poop is boring, and yet Game of Thrones was too much. Even though I'm a big fan of some of the actors, and loved the trailers, I lost interest part way through the first season. Linda liked it, but there were times I had to play music into my ears in another part of the house to drown out the screams.
Some sex or nudity is fine, where it makes sense with the story. But putting it in, or hiding some of it to play games with the rating system is dumb. I ask my female readers, after a night of wild and crazy sex, do you get up in the morning and wrap the sheet around you to go to the bathroom?
And language! The ratings people are out to lunch. They are fine with children seeing shows with events that are actual real crimes, plus firearm violence, depicted in enough detail to plan them yourself, and yet a show with several instances of words every child hears before they're a teenager and probably before grade school starts gets slapped with a restricted rating.
I admit it's a tough balance. Everybody in the industry says they want fresh, interesting, and different, and they only mean that as long as it's the same as everything else so they're pretty sure it will make money. That's the important part. Don't get me started on remakes, reboots, retcons, whatever. Do something new. (Looking at you Star Trek and Star Wars!)
We've seen a number of shows that didn't get past the second season. They are now perceived as good shows, and they were good shows back in the day, and yet they were cancelled. The other pitfall is a show becoming so successful it doesn't get cancelled, or end, and it gradually turns into a parody of itself at best. Or maybe there's a particular episode where it jumps the shark. The early years of The Big Bang Theory have the characters being funny and interesting, and yet in the later years I often thought they were being cruel and it was getting dumb.
The OA hit that balance for me. Sure, there's a few plot holes and reliance on movie tropes, and maybe it would have gotten old. But I really liked the gradually revealed story. It was inventive, and strangely weird in places, but didn't slide into lunacy, though some scenes came close. There was supposed to be 5 seasons of it, and I mourn that as of this writing, there won't be any more of it.
We essentially binged both seasons of it over a couple of weeks, watching a couple episodes at a time. It was hard not to carry on watching that next episode. It's the sort of show where you need to keep track of lots of details. Several times we paused the show to discuss it. I can see where some people would want to watch it twice. The first time to see how it comes out, and the second time to catch all the details that you didn't know would be important later.
It's fun looking at IMDB to see what other shows people have been involved in. I'll try a show if an actor I think is interesting is involved, though there are limits. I'm a big fan of Johnny Lee Miller (Sherlock Holmes from Elementary), and I liked the first few seasons of Dexter, but I was not going to chew through to get to where Miller shows up on Dexter. One of the actors from The OA shows up for an episode of Elementary, so we watched that episode last night for fun, just to spot him. The writer of The OA has been involved with several other projects, and I'l probably go check them out.
Back in grade school we were reading a book about the Depression, which hadn't been all that long ago, all things considered. That decade directly shaped the lives of my parents and grandparents. I asked why if money was so short people went to the movies. She explained people went to the movies to be in a warm place, around other people, and to escape a difficult real world for a while.
We have a difficult world now, and that was before COVID. People go to the movies, though mostly it's at home now, and what do they see? A world that's WORSE than the real world in many ways. It's so bad it warps their thinking, and they start basing their opinions on that world. That's one of the reasons many people think violent crime is up, when it's not.
They see all these carefully crafted scenes of people being horrible to each other, and they start thinking that's normal, and they begin to look at other people all squinty-eyed, waiting for shit to happen. Except they're looking back, all squinty-eyed. That's a sad way to be living.
It isn't totally the movie industry's fault. Or rock and roll, or video games, or rap music, or Twitter, or anything else that you think is evidence the world has gone to pot. Or hell in a handcart. Insert your favourite idiom. Like I say, the world is more complicated than a tweet.
One of my theories is that people have forgotten they need each other, and the social manners that lubricated that need. Not so long ago, most people were in a network of relationships. You lived with or near your extended family. You worked the farm with them, or might be in business together. There was a close relationship between your day to day work and the food on your table. You probably married someone you'd known or known of since childhood. Marriages were often alliances to build relationships between families, and to maintain or expand property rights. (Let us not get into the discussion of the bride being part of the property.)
Until recently, almost everybody worked. They had to. Retirement as we know it now is a recent thing. It was only the extremely wealthy that lived that wealthy lifestyle, travelling with the seasons, servants/staff, all the toys of the day. Life appeared to be a long vacation for them. Mostly likely they inherited the money, but a few came into it through fortunate business arrangements, or being extremely good at something in high demand. The movie stars of the 'golden age' are an example. Everybody aspired to that lifestyle.
Except, other people didn't see all the people behind the scenes that make that life possible. Back in the day it was servants, mostly overworked and underpaid. Later, it was staff, but really it's the same thing, people insulating the wealthy from the world, letting them live the vacation lifestyle, doing what they want.
Except, most people can't deal with a life of vacation. They get bored, leading to extremes in the entertainment they demand. That's not new; it's been going on since the Roman bread and circuses. They don't let anyone get close to them because they're afraid their lack of substance will be discovered. But it's other people that are the interesting part.
See enough movies and it gets easier to see how the next one will turn out. People are always a surprise, and that's the fun part. If you let it be.
Yes, it's still cold here, but it's warming up. Only -23 outside just now.
The ongoing message about being notified so you don't miss any blogs. I'll be repeating this bit of text for a while. Scrolling through Facebook is making me unhappy, so I want to do less of it, and see how that feels. It's all too easy to start scrolling after putting a up a notice I've blogged. I will drop in on a photo group I like, but anything after that is uncertain.
So if you want to be sure you don't miss a blog, send an email to keith at nucleus dot com and ask to be put on my blog notification list. You'll get an email with a link whenever I blog. Plus there may be some extra goodies for those on the list. If you find the blog through another means, that's fine too, I'm happy to have you read however that works.
And you know what? I'm not missing Facebook much. If you message me I get an email, so I'll go look. I've dropped in on my favourite photo group page, but very little else. News consumption is way down. Happiness is beginning to trend up again.
Of the Day