Friday, November 15, 2013

Big History

We recorded Big History on H2 -- History Chanel 2, or, more accurately "History" Channel 2 -- because it looked like the kind of program we enjoy. Truthfully it looked like a total ripoff of the great series written and presented by science historian James Burke The Day The Universe Changed, but Mr Burke is sadly not making any more, so we'll get our geek fix where we can.

It could turn into a decent show if they'd follow a few suggestions:

Aim for accuracy.

I heard that Bill Gates put money into this production through his foundation, and that science education is a big interest, so I'm a bit confused that he didn't insist on accuracy. Or at least not perpetuating lazy history errors by repeating such tripe as the legend of Paul Revere's ride. Here's a place to set that right by giving credit to the people who really risked their lives, and to get the message they spread right too. Just because that's not the focus of the episode does not mean it's okay to perpetuate mythology (and poetry) over fact. Sloppy work is not cool and doesn't help anyone. Okay? 

Stop repeating what you've already told us.

You're covering big ideas here. You say so in your title. You touch on a lot of complex issues that, by necessity, you're going to gloss over. And I'm sort of fine with that but not when you go back and restate the same bit of information four times. We saw it, we got it, move along! 

Spend your graphics budget wisely.

The hunter/gather rising from the salt was pointless the first time. the fourth time we were rolling our eyes and saying things like, "The producer must be very proud of his son's work."  Obviously, this is a budget issue. So next time skip the mammoth rising from the salt and, I don't know, show us where the Romans built their first paved road from and to instead of just showing us the pavers. Don't just say human's first big towns were built by water and salt. Show us a couple on maps! Or how about a quick glance inside a salt mine. Or salt flats. Show a natural salt lick with a herd of caribou lapping at it. I don't know, but anything is better than a graphic that illuminated nothing being shown over and over again.

Watch The Day the Universe Changed.

And maybe hire Mr Burke. He knows how to fascinate an audience and how to link ideas together without repeating himself or looping back to odd points in your presentation.

But other than that, a half-hearted thumb's up for you. At least you tried.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm Back

And I am now caught up on Elementary.

Still over season behind on Supernatural, although now watching it seems like a chore rather than a pleasure. The writers are recycling their bad ideas, and while that's okay for fanserve once, make it a habit and you look uninterested.

Looking forward to Doctor Who.

And of course, Sherlock.

I've been writing but it's been a difficult month. Amazing how a death in the family can knock you sideways for a while. Don't get me wrong, but watching relatives react the way they do is like a master course in character studies. And maybe distancing myself like that to watch them is how I handled part of it. But then there's the sheer overwhelming gaping hole of persondom in the center of your little universe, like a black hole sucked up Saturn, and now the orbits of the remaining planets are all wobbly. Everything has changed but the same stuff has to get done so we're sorting out the new distribution of responsibility.

As our little group got up to do our part of the eulogy, I was thinking-- another chance to step back and watch myself observing others-- that I guess this is official adulthood at this point. Once the generation before you is stripped away, you're it.

That's a little too much reality for me, so I'm filling in the gaps with binge TV viewing.

Observations on Elementary: A little flat this season, not sure why. Also not sure why they chose to give Mycroft and Sherlock a strained relationship since that's not canon. Yes, BBC's Sherlock has a strained relationship at the heart of the brothers, and it works gloriously because of the actors and the scripts, but in Elementary, it feels wrong and only paper deep. Part of my reluctance to embrace it is Sherlock's obsession over Joan's sex life. He's put himself in the role of her duenna but she's a grown up woman, so he should NOT be commenting on, much less trying to manage, her sexuality. Stepping in there between her and his brother is downright creepy and obsessive. Add to that how he refuses to accept her boundaries (putting a turtle on her bed still means you went into her room while she was sleeping and violated her space, dude!), poking her bedding with a stick to both scold her for the possibility of having a sexual partner and for giving into his brother's machinations (so Mycroft would have no interest in her otherwise? huh?), and also meddling with her desire to start dating again (do we see the pattern of control building here? Why is this not setting off alarms? Because we like Sherlock? Still not cool. Joan Watson, call him out on that shit!)

I hope the season gets better. The cases must, or they won't last long.

Oh! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Now I'm officially bored by agent whats-his-face. Grant? Gary? Who cares? Even he doesn't believe his backstory. And the Wonder Twin scientists? Too. Damn. Perky. I'm tired of reading that you have to give JW time to develop his characters. The time is NOW before you get canceled. Also, stop hinting at an interesting premise as you did in the first episode then wiff on it. You're science fiction - so if you ask the question you have to explore it in detail. Maybe over a whole season. Okay? 

And while I'm at it, what's with the very yucky 'Murica! Fuck Yeah!' attitude toward the ignorant savages, POC,  military of a sovereign country taking possession of something found on THEIR soil? We can't trust them because their skin is browner than ours? Only white Americans can be trusted with great power? And their women are exotic lovers who will stab you in the back in a fiery passionate rage.   See, I'm white and I'm noticing this, so it's REALLY BAD.  REALLY, REALLY BAD. Oh, that's not the message you meant to send, writers? Well guess what?  And you tried rather pathetically to make it up with The Girl in the Flower Dress. (Let us take a moment here to enjoy that an adult female in charge of a scientific group is a GIRL, not a woman. Dear lord, writers, are you really that clueless about your gender issues?) Anyway (Yes) An-y-way... So the local S.H.I.E.L.D people in Hong Kong (see, we hire brown people!) Are on the case but thank goodness the 'Muricans arrive to show them how a real investigation is run. Because the locals are only here to babysit other brown people who have power but Can't Be Trusted to Use It Wisely.   Yeah, I'm tired of it. Hiring Ming-Na Wen to play dragon lady does not get you a 'get out of being called on our bullshit' free card. Okay? We expect more from you, writers. (Strangely enough, not from JW, who while still thumping his chest loudly and proudly about his feminism  is a spectacular fail at race *cough FIREFLY cough*)