General TV Discussion

ayase

State Alchemist
I've just polished off Season 4 of Boardwalk Empire, which I've been watching at a rate which has probably not been great for my productiveness elsewhere.

This show really was not what I expected. It's much bigger in scope and the way all the different plot lines weave together and around each other is really quite something. The writers must have employed pin boards the FBI agents (though it was just the BI back then, I think) in the show would be jealous of. I certainly didn't expect from the synopsis that a show ostensibly about prohibition era gangsters in Atlantic City would also criss-cross the United States featuring so many historical underworld figures including Stephen Graham's wonderful Al Capone whose introduction is one of many great little "ah-ha!" moments so I'm loathe to spoil it.

As far as the real-life gangsters go, while their stories are still engaging (helped by some truly excellent actors) and awash with period charm, I also know how most of them are going to end up so have often found myself more invested in the stories of some of the show's invented characters - Prohibition agent turned accidental member of the Chicago Outfit Nelson Van Alden particularly, whose comedy of errors could have been a show all of itself. With all the disparate plot threads though, I found I couldn't help but pick favourites and wish the action would go back to certain characters and stop dwelling on some I found a bit too slow or uninteresting. The plots involving Gillian Darmody in particular (an invented character whose main role was being the mother of another invented character and who ceased to be of any real importance at the end of season two) had started to drag something terrible by season four. Also a thoroughly horrible person, all I was really interested in was seeing her get her comeuppance, which took far too long to arrive.

Overall though, it does a very good job of balancing the known historical events and creating suspense via the fictional elements and characters whose fates aren't so certain. At times it's been quite shocking, and has done an amazing job of creating a cast of characters I find myself really rooting for, hoping for their downfalls or being concerned for their futures. That's the kind of world these characters (and real people) inhabited, one where any kind of brutality could befall them at any moment, deserved or not, and it is quite edge of the seat stuff.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Amanda Lorian, Episode 1

8900 seeds and counting, this is why you can't lock the rest of the world out on day one any more, Disney.

Firstly, yes! The creative team behind The Mandalorian actually remembered aliens other than Chewbacca exist and play a part in the world of Star Wars outside of just being set dressing. That was nice to see, as was Werner Herzog, but he always is. It's early days yet - First episodes are almost always scene-setting, but from what I've seen I'm very hopeful for this series. It's exploring a time period not much is yet known about away from the central conflicts of the trilogies, and while it's obviously trying to feel familiar (my own personal favourite reference: one of Salacious Crumb's relatives being roasted on a spit) it also feels satisfyingly different. This is a positive observation I'd also make of the previous animated Star Wars series' (Dave Filoni of The Clone Wars and Rebels directs this first episode) so that bodes well, I think. We were promised a space Western, we got a space Western. It looks like Star Wars. It feels like Star Wars. Roll on Friday.

I am fascinated by the several professional reviewers who have complained about the main character constantly wearing a helmet because they're unable to emotionally connect with a character who doesn't have a visible, emoting human face (I don't ever recall that being a criticism levelled at any of the droids in Star Wars or say, Darth Vader). Personally I've been able to emotionally connect with inanimate objects since I was a small child (sometimes moreso than with people) and also have an imagination, so this was not a barrier to my enjoyment.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
The Mandalorian - Episodes 2-4

Enjoying this a whole lot. It’s very thematically tied to Lucas’ original inspirations for Star Wars, Westerns, old TV serials and the Samurai genre. Just as Lucas took inspiration from Kurosawa, so Favreau and co. Have quite obviously taken inspiration from Lone Wolf & Cub, which should certainly make it of interest to a few people here. In doing so, it also incorporates a major theme of Lucas’ films (which he’s discussed in interviews) of relationships between fathers (or father figures) and sons. In their own ways, Obi-Wan, Yoda and Vader (spoilers) were all father figures of different kinds to Luke, just as Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Palpatine were all father figures of different kinds to Anakin. The Mandalorian feels like a natural progression of this theme, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.

This also got me thinking about the newer movies, and it’s interesting to note that with the exception of Solo (which I do still think is the most reminiscent of the OT) the older, male mentor figure to a younger male character isn’t really something that’s explored beyond being presented as something which has already failed or had negative consequences off-screen (Han, Luke and Snoke to Kylo). I wonder if people didn’t perhaps even subconsciously become so used to that dynamic being an important part of Star Wars that when it’s missing, they feel it even without realising quite what it is that’s not the same. It’s also interesting to note that from what we know of Lucas’ treatments for the ST, his version would have showed Kylo’s fall to the dark side, restoring that father-son link between him and Han and Luke.
 
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thedoctor2016

Harem King
But Epiosde 7 and 8 have the father aspect as Rey feels Han and Luke are her adoptive father figure in those films. Her treating Han as her father and Kyle refusing him is the whole basis of their rivalry.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
But Epiosde 7 and 8 have the father aspect as Rey feels Han and Luke are her adoptive father figure in those films. Her treating Han as her father and Kyle refusing him is the whole basis of their rivalry.
I almost mentioned this, but I think a father-daughter relationship (also a mother-son dynamic, which could arguably be said of Poe and Leia's interactions in TLJ) is different to a father-son relationship. It is interesting that those parallels are there and not a slight on those films at all, it's another way of exploring those familial types of relationships between the characters but I think it's also notable that the dynamic of an older male mentor of a younger male character is almost entirely absent among the main cast. It's not a bad thing that it's not present, but it is different.
 
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SpideyWrex

Completely Average High School Student

Season 2

A teenager who fights monsters.

So for the past month or so, I've been catching up with three '90s TV series, namely The Simpsons, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Why now? Why so? Don't know. Just in the mood for catching up.

And just now, I've finished the final episode of season two, "Becoming, Part 2", and it was the kind of quality television that I enjoy watching. But this was not always the case. Once upon a time in season 1, Buffy was a much cheesier teenage drama with "monster-of-the-week" episodes thrown in. The demon-possessed robot was probably the best example of how schlocky Buffy was like back then. But eventually, Buffy came into its own in season 2, when showrunner Joss Whedon (Dark Angel, Alias, The Avengers) became more confident in deciding what the show should be like - a dark and edgy teen drama with many allegories for growing up. You could usually find this type of progression in quality in many television shows (including Simpsons and X-Files), where "Season 1" has the writers figuring out the show, and "Season 2" has the writers settled down on a consistent tone.


The story of Buffy is a simple and familiar one resembling a shoujo anime (cough*Blood+*cough): A teenager named Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds out she's the Chosen One, a vampire slayer destined to fight demons and vampires alike. Along with her own brand of Scooby-Doo gang, Buffy struggles to survive the turmoils of teenage issues and high school while fighting vampires by night. The one prevalent element of the show that earned its fandom in particular is the saucy romance, particularly the one between Buffy and Angel (David Boreanaz). Watching this pairing and their interaction, I could quickly tell how it attracted its teenage female demographic. Angel is like that mysterious nice guy with a tragic past that you wanna date when you were 15, but he's a vampire and Buffy's a slayer, so these star-crossed lovers could never be together. Very Shakespearean.

Speaking of forbidden lovers that could never be, this season also introduced a new recurring character Buffy fans would come to fall in love with, the bad boy vampire Spike (James Marsters) with his British accent. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), "Spuffy" (Spike x Buffy) wouldn't come into play for many seasons to come.


On a personal level, the whole "bad boy"/forbidden romance/teenage drama thing is a little past my age and I do find it to be a little dated. But for what it is, I've enjoyed Buffy for its non-romantic elements, particularly when Buffy has to deal with being the Chosen One and have all her friends and family be at risk of being killed by her vampire enemies every week. The show holds no punches when it comes to the subject of death, and you could feel the weight of it all as the characters are still burdened long after a character's passing. Season 2 quickly loses most of the spunky cheerleader appearances Buffy once had in season 1 and adorns an edgier atmosphere where the main protagonist has to endure the responsibility on her shoulders, carrying the guilt of any tragedy with her. That kind of edgy teenage angst where one never feels comfortable enough about her own existence is pretty much the element that attracted me to the show, the kind of moody self-reflective doubt about one's identity. Done poorly, it can be too melodramatic, but Buffy managed to incorporate some lighthearted and witty humor between it all (it's Joss Whedon after all) to keep the tragedy from feeling unrealistic.

My bigger concern while watching wasn't that it would become too dark or depressing, however, but that the romantic "will they/won't they" element would overshadow the more interesting character development where Buffy learns to suck it up and deal with the darkness and tragedies of real life. Thankfully, while still eye-rolling, the "Bangel" romance doesn't quite occur often enough to distract or annoy... even if I often couldn't really remember how Buffy fell in love with this dark guardian angel in the first place.


For what it's worth, I do really like what Buffy's character gets out of this romance: she's the Chosen One who has no one else in the world that could relate to her burdens and responsibilities except Angel, and yet they could never be. I particularly love the theme music between them, aptly named "Close Your Eyes" (you'll know why it's aptly named watching the last two episodes of the season; it's a tragic reason). By now, I'm sure even non-Whedon fans know how he has a knack for torturing his characters, putting them through happiness... then deprive them of it in the most tragic ways. Cruel, but effective storytelling, and I can't help but love it.

Regarding Spike as a character... I really couldn't care less about him, probably because I've already seen my share of bad boy character archetypes that he just failed to impress me at all, making me fail to see what all the hoopla about him is all about. He's passable enough as a villain/anti-hero, but again, dark leather clothing and slicked back hair, too '90s and dated for me.

But its inevitable faults aside, I've always seen Buffy as one of the last icons of strong female characters that I could genuinely like, way before I even watched the show, in fact. Without a need to assert her authority in front of men, she stands proud and strong just by being herself, undaunted by all the evils and darkness one faces in life. Between Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor and Princess Leia, she manages to stand among them as one of the most memorable TV icons even 'till this day.

I'm looking forward to season 3. Having seen what is probably a fan-made trailer on YouTube, it looks like the most exciting parts of the series that solidified its fandom is coming up next.

8/10

Footnote: Did I mention that Buffy has one of the most iconic and badass theme songs of all time?
 
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RadFemHedonist

Brigade Leader
I just finished watching The Crazy Ones and I really enjoyed it a lot though I'm guessing it's not for everyone. Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and the rest of the cast were all great and I got some good laughs out of it while rooting for the will they won't they romance between two certain characters, but also totally understanding why they were reluctant to go for it based on my own personal experiences of such things. Sad that it was cancelled due to Williams' death but it's a nice thing to remember him by. He was a Neon Genesis Evangelion fan too! IIRC Chester Bennington was as well... Charlie from Busted and Fightstar is as well and rn I'm just really glad he's alive tbh.
 

Invisible Crane

Great Teacher
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crashmatt

Death Scythe
Finished watching Snowpiercer. Very intresting show once ro get over the absurd premise. Its getting a season two which is good as season one kind of ended on a cliff hanger.
 
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