Holiday Binge-Watching

The holidays means sitting blankly in front of a television screen. My recent Netflix binge-watches include:

Broadchurch. BBC murder-mystery series starring David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame) and also the guy who played Rory in Dr. Who. This is a gripping series of 8 episodes. Great, great acting.

Gracepoint. Of course, I then had to get a week-long trial of Hulu Plus* to watch the American version of the Broadchurch murder-mystery, which also stars David Tennant, using a different accent. (I actually thought this is what I was watching when I started Broadchurch, because I remember seeing ads for Gracepoint, but it quickly became apparent that everyone in Broadchurch had an accent.) Gracepoint is a decent series of 10 episodes with some slight but interesting changes from the original, but it’s nowhere near as good as the British version. If you have to pick one, definitely watch Broadchurch. (It was interesting to see that the American script had clearly been edited so that scenes and lines were much shorter.)

The Borgias. This series is basically a more scandalous version of Game of Thrones set in 1492, following the adventures of Pope Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope, and his colorful family. It’s melodramatic at times but pretty good.. then again I’m always a sucker for period pieces.

* Hulu Plus is a terrible, terrible service.

The 100 First Impression

I’ve just watched the first episode of The 100 on Netflix. Well, actually, I started writing this at about the 35:00 mark.

Is it wrong for me to want every single one of these whiny teenagers to die horribly? I mean, it’s not just that I don’t like any of them. It’s more of a deep-seeded loathing, a visceral hatred of everything about them and everything they stand for. I don’t just want them to die. I want them to die suffering, only lingering long enough for them to finally realize in their last moments–too late–just how awful they are as human beings and potential role models. They must, in the end, die knowing that it was the only just fate for them. Because if these whiny teenagers are the last hope for humanity, then I think we can all agree that it’s okay for humanity to die out. We should, in fact, celebrate the end of this breed of whiny teenager.

If you don’t know what The 100 is, it’s a show based on one of those ubiquitous Young Adult dystopian novels that were so rampant around the time of The Hunger Games, where every story had to be set in a bleak future apocalypse and every character had to fit neatly into a familiar high school cliche and also be in some sort of a love triangle. (Ruining the market for any other dystopian novels for years to come.) This particular story has our high school cliches (100 of them, get it?) landing on a post-nuclear-holocaust Earth after having grown up on a space station. You see, a nuclear holocaust wiped out everyone on Earth except a bunch of astronauts from different countries, who somehow glued all of their space stations together into one big space station and colony. Now the evil space station adults (who are dead set on making all teenagers’ lives miserable, as is required in Young Adult stories, except for the “cool mom” of course) need to reduce the population. So they decide to jettison 100 whiny teenagers (who for some reason all happen to be prisoners, because teenagers are are hoodlums and adults never do anything wrong) and send them to the planet to see if it’s still covered with radiation. Because it’s not like you can measure that from orbit or even see anything happening on the surface by, you know, looking out the window.

The plot holes in this show are big enough to drive a truck through, but still I would support the concept if not for this tiny problem of the entire cast of human guinea pigs being so incredibly repulsive to watch. They seem to think they are going to the prom instead of being forced to survive with no food and no shelter and possibly mutant monsters trying to kill them at every turn. But it’s okay because they can build a bonfire and party and those nasty adults can’t tell them what to do!

Still, I might see if I can pick up the book if it’s cheap. I like post-apocalyptic stories. Perhaps network executives injected all the whiny teenagers into the show to appeal to The CW’s audience.

RE: The Leftovers, Season Finale

I should have known.

There were no explanations. No resolutions. No whys or wherefores. No way to tell if my theory was correct or not. The story just reached a convenient stopping place (sort of) and the season ended, all questions left up in the air. The only thing that we found out was what the Guilty Remnant had been up to.

It occurred to me that by leaving out an explanation for why the people disappeared, we the audience are left in the same position as the characters in the show. After all, they don’t know why the people disappeared either. Although I would swear that at some point (or points) during the season I was convinced that there was an explanation that someone knew. Maybe not someone in town, but somebody somewhere.

One other thing occurred to me after reading a couple of commentaries about the finale: I get the impression that the creators of the show (or rather, I suppose, the author of the book) was trying to put modern man into a situation where he’s confronted with something that is undeniably similar to a miracle of Biblical proportions. The audience was never shown The Departure on camera, so it’s impossible for us to guess what happened, but I suspect a supernatural rather than scientific explanation. The opening credits certainly implies a Biblical apocalypse.

I ruled out a scientific explanation, by the way, because of the evidence given to us, or lack thereof. We’ve not been told of any “pops” or disturbances in airflow which would occur if a person physically vanished and left a vacuum behind. There was no residue of any kind. The peoples’ clothes went with them, suggesting to me that there was some kind of intelligence behind the disappearances. (The body-snatchers knew how to grab a person and his clothes, but not the chair he was sitting on or any part of the floor he was standing on.) These things are pretty strong indicators of a supernatural explanation to me. If that weren’t enough, the scientists in the Congressional Hearing in the first episode concluded that they had no idea what happened–that all but rules out a natural phenomenon. Someone would have come up with a theory to explain the evidence if there had been any.

All of which is probably way too much over-thinking of the show. But since they didn’t provide any answers, I have to do for them.

The biggest thing that The Leftovers achieved was reminding me how much I miss the Ninth Doctor.

The Killing, Season Two

The Killing really should be regulated as a controlled substance. It’s impossible to stop watching it.

I finished the second season, and you may or may not be happy to know that they do finally reveal the murderer, and it looks like you can walk away from the show after two seasons. Spoilers way down at the end of the post. (Not really, though. I don’t tell you whodunnit, but I do sort of rule out one person.)

They really punch you in the face with feels in the second season finale. Get your hankies ready. Continue reading The Killing, Season Two