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September 22, 2010

So You Want To Make A Prime Time Mythology-Heavy TV Series

Chris Byrd watched the event and found it lacking. He offers up suggestions to TV execs thinking of trying to make the next Lost or BSG. Mightygodking.com -- So You Want To Make A Prime Time Mythology-Heavy TV Series
The Event debuted last night, and did respectable numbers, but like just most sci-fi/mystery/whatever TV shows since… well, Lost, it was a terrible bit of television. Every season it seems there’s one or two “we’re the next Lost” shows in some network’s can; every season most of them fail. FlashForward is the most recent, but also consider Persons Unknown, Kings, Journeyman – nobody will ever learn all the mysteries involved in these shows because nobody cares. At best, you get something like Heroes, Dollhouse or Sarah Connor Chronicles that starts out strong, then limps to a relatively early cancellation.1 The genre successes of the past few years other than Lost have been less continuity-heavy fare.2 This isn’t to say that shows like Supernatural or Chuck don’t have continuity, because they obviously do – but they can also do “monster/spy of the week” episodes to lighten the burden of the ever-present overall metaplot. They don’t require quite the level of commitment to enjoy; there’s a good chance, with any given episode, that you can jump in and watch and be entertained regardless of not knowing all the rules about how Sam and Dean can capture demons, or what the Intersect is exactly. They’re not as entry-level as, say, Law and Order or most other cop procedurals – but they’re certainly more accessible than a show like Lost, where in order to understand what’s going on you basically have to watch from the beginning. Does this mean you can’t make a successful mythology-heavy show? Of course not: Lost proves that you can – as does Battlestar Galactica, for that matter. But Lost and BSG offer up a set of guidelines for the prospective TV producer that often go ignored.

September 10, 2010

A Breathtaking and Passionate List of the Ten Best Films Ever Made

I love it when film reviewers have massive balls and make sweeping statements about what so-and-so's best film was, etc. These ten films are amazing. Straight up. supervillain.
#10. Brazil I don’t know if you asked me about Terry Gilliam I’d say “he’s one of my favorite directors”. I don’t know that I think of him as the kind of voice I did at one point in my life. Because there was a time when Gilliam was better than Kubrick to me. While talking about 12 Monkeys I did say that lumping Gilliam in with Burton and Juenet is too easy, it’s not like they haven’t followed in his footsteps every step of the way. John Cleese’s big criticism of Gilliam from the beginning was that he was too concerned with the visual, and that he let everything else suffer, is apt. In his worst films, that is exactly the problem. Of course, when I watch Brazil, I can see why I would feel that way. Brazil is one of those movies, like The Shining, where you find yourself comparing real life to it constantly. Brazil is partially about fantasy and reality fighting in this man’s mind, but it is also the perfect encapsulation of how modern life is nothing but an endless and pointless bureaucratic nightmare. You spend 3 days straight filling out forms just to find out you were talking to the wrong department? You say “this feels like Brazil”. Gilliam and Stoppard’s script is about the space between hellish reality and ridiculous fantasy, about lying to yourself in order to get through the day, about throwing yourself into a romance that exists almost entirely in your head, about being so lonely and sad that your fantasy life starts to take over your day, about suddenly changing your life for no rational reason. The climax of Brazil is both overheated Jungian nightmare and wish fulfillment, and Gilliam’s mission statement for all his work before and after – that no matter what happens or how horrible life gets, they can never get you as long as you have dreams. Which is a trite, cheesy summation unless you think about how very important narrative is in our lives, and escapism sometimes isn’t a term used to insult, sometimes it’s a desperate need. Also Robert DeNiro’s finest performance full stop.

August 25, 2010

Analyzing The Dark Knight

This is a riveting and insightful look at Christopher Nolan's "Batman: The Dark Knight." Todd Alcott breaks down the plot beats, the nonstandard and bold structure, and the character motivations. It's compulsively readable and one of the boldest works of Batmanology I've seen (outside of Chris Sims' oeuvre). The Alcott Analysis: The Dark Knight--The Beat