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Posts Tagged ‘fanboy entitlement’

Welcome To The “Lost” Island National Preserve

March 31st, 2010 No comments

The hounds of hell have been loosed this morning: Lost fans are furious that last night’s episode was sullied when ABC  superimposed a graphic counting down to the return of the alien invasion series V .

My favorite so far is this excerpt of a piece by the TV writer for the Boston Globe:

How wrong is that? Very wrong. For one thing, Lost fans are Lost fans — that is, we are focused intensely on our complicated show, which we’ve been waiting a week to see, and which is in its final stretch, and we don’t tend to want interruption or distraction. If I had been watching, say, CSI, I might have been annoyed, but not quite offended. But don’t mess with the Lost.

Now there’s some fan entitlement for you. Lost and its followers are so special that the realities of the 21st century television industry shouldn’t apply to them. Not like the hoi polloi that watch CSI.

To be clear, I love Lost, and I dislike the proliferation of promotional graphics cluttering up the screen. However…

TV viewers lost the war against promotional bugs years ago. In the age of DVRs and functionally infinite entertainment choices, the best time to catch your attention isn’t during the commercial breaks that you skip over, it’s during the show that you’re watching. You’re never again going to have the unspoiled viewing experience of olden days, certainly not from free, over-the-air TV.

The implication that Lost is a rare and beautiful flower deserving of special care is absurd. It’s a TV show from a network that not only wants you to watch this show, but the next show as well. (And, as Lost will be off the air forever in a little more than two months’ time, it’s more important than ever for ABC to get you on the hook for the next serialized sci-fi drama.)

As bugs go, it was relatively small. With the exception of the countdown itself, it wasn’t moving. That’s a vast improvement over the ones that take up a quarter of the screen, pinwheeling and whizbanging like the Fourth of July. Or my own personal pet peeve: the ones in which characters walk into the picture and stare at you. If only they were all as easy to ignore as was that simple letter “V.”

That said, there was one scene during which the V bug briefly became a legitimate issue. Sun–a Korean-born character who last night temporarily lost the ability to speak English due to a severe bout of plotcontrivitis–was forced to communicate with Jack through handwritten notes. Her “dialogue” was briefly obscured by the logo. That’s unfortunate. But even then, it was entirely possible to infer what she’d written through Jack’s spoken reply. That’s what I had to do, as I was watching Lost on Dish Network, which “center cuts” all 16:9 programming to fit a 4:3 screen.

I may not like promotional bugs, but they’re far less disruptive than losing 25% of the picture.

Categories: TV Tags: , ,

Resolved

June 9th, 2009 No comments

Andrew Weiss offers up the only fan boycott that makes sense: the Fan Boycott Boycott!

Categories: Sci-Fi Tags: ,

The Worst Idea I’ve Heard All Week

May 26th, 2009 No comments

The rights holders of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are trying to launch a feature film reboot, minus creator Joss Whedon and any of the supporting characters from the Buffy and Angel TV series.

This is going to sound hypocritical, given that I’ve just been talking up the V remake, but I think this is a terrible idea. In my view, there are two huge differences between Buffy and other recently-relaunched properties such as V and Star Trek

First, it’s too soon. V ceased production in 1985. There’s an entire generation that’s likely never even seen it. It’s more complicated with Star Trek: the franchise ground to a halt a mere four years ago with the cancellation of Enterprise, but it’s been 18 years since the final film featuring the entire original cast. 

Buffy went off the air a mere six years ago, and its spin-off Angel followed in 2004. Buffyverse alums (among them Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alyson Hannigan and Eliza Dushku) permeate current pop culture. Unlike the original Trek actors, they’re still young. Launching a remake when many fans are still holding out hope for an unlikely but not yet unreasonable renuion of the TV cast is perilous.

Second, the filmmakers have not reckoned with the rabid fervor of the Whedonites. They’re on a first name basis with Joss. And, despite Dollhouse, they haven’t yet suffered the disillusionment that Star Trek and Star Wars fanboys eventually felt with both Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. Mark my words, reviving Whedon’s baby without his involvement will bring down a swift and merciless wrath. Hell, it’s been a couple of hours since I read the story, so it’s probably already well underway.

You Might Think I’d Be Upset About This, But I’m Not

May 19th, 2009 No comments

This morning, ABC announced its 2009 – 2010 schedule, and one of its midseason shows is a new adaptation of the ’80s series V: the one about the alien lizards who come here to steal our water and to put us on their menu. Among the geek-friendly cast is Elizabeth Mitchell (who just got killed off on Lost), Laura Vandervoort (Smallville‘s Supergirl) and–playing the leader of the Visitors–Morena Baccarin (who played a space hooker on Firefly).

Now, I’m something of a V fan, in that I had one of the first websites devoted to the series back in the Wild West phase of the Internet. Truth to tell, it was really because I was itching to do a website about something, and I figured that since I had access to a bunch of V ephemera, I might as well make it about that. 

V captured my imagination during my college days, coming at a time when, quite frankly, there was little sci-fi on the tube and virtually nothing of quality. Back then, you took what you got. Still, the original miniseries came out of nowhere, delivering good shocks, a decent allegory about the possibilities of fascism in America, and a whole lot of soap opera shenanigans. (The latter wasn’t all that unwelcome; I can appreciate a bit of soap in my drama.)

While the follow-up miniseries (V: The Final Battle) lacked the show’s creator Kenneth Johnson, it contained enough of his original concepts to be watchable fun. The ensuing weekly series was pretty damned stupid, but again, it was 1985 and you took what you got.

Johnson has tried (and so far failed) to launch his own sequel/remake. The closest he’s come so far was a novelization of his script for V: The Second Generation

Instead, the new V has been handed over to an entirely different production staff. Predictably, the old-school fans have already decried it as a mockery, with the inevitable nickname VINO (“V In Name Only”).

As for me, I say “Bring it on.” Sure, it’s entirely possible that it will hew more closely to the terrible weekly series that ended the franchise back in the ’80s than to the original miniseries. But I think there’s ample evidence to suggest that it’s not the worst thing in the world for someone to take a fresh look at an old, somewhat cheesy sci-fi show (see Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who). Hell, would even the most ardent Star Trek fan suggest that particular franchise’s best days were the ones in which Gene Roddenberry had the most influence? (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, plus the first two seasons of The Next Generation.)

I’m looking forward to V, if only because it’s entirely likely I’ll get to see Morena Baccarin eat a guinea pig. That’s just how I roll.

Updated: A couple of clips from the pilot have been posted online. No guinea pigs (yet), but looks promising.

Categories: Sci-Fi Tags: ,

Let The Bitching Begin

March 6th, 2008 No comments

Costume photos from the upcoming film adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel Watchmen have just surfaced. Some folks are already pissed off because Nite Owl doesn’t look enough like a pudgy Adam West in tights.

Look, I get it: the Nite Owl of the original story is a somewhat pathetic fortysomething who recognizes the absurdity of dressing up in a Halloween costume to fight crime. But if you put a live actor in this outfit:

You get this:

Which is fine if you’re going for comedy. If you put Arthur from The Tick in a trailer for a general audience unfamiliar with Watchmen, they’re going to assume it’s a spoof. Which it’s not. At all.

Besides, the “tubby guy in tights” deconstruction has been done–repeatedly–since Watchmen was published in 1986. It’s not just The Tick, which at least played largely to the fanboy base, but one that pretty much everyone has actually seen: The Incredibles. Hell, even DC Comics’ Blue Beetle–the character that provided the basis for Nite Owl–went through his own portly phase.

There are other ways to express Nite Owl’s character without making him look like a schlub in a leotard.

Me, I like the costumes. But what do I know? I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of V for Vendetta, and even got a kick out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So my perspective about Alan Moore adaptations is suspect. (Alan Moore would certainly agree.)

The photos give me hope that the filmmakers are at least trying to do justice to the source material, as does the news that they intend to produce “Tales of the Black Freighter,” the story-within-a-story that parallels the main plot, as a DVD extra. It’s the sort of thing you could never do within the movie proper, but it’s perfect for DVD. Maybe they’ll produce some of the other sidebar material from the original novel as well.

Doctor Who!

March 10th, 2005 No comments

This week saw the unofficial release of the first episode of the new Doctor Who television series. By “unofficial,” I mean that someone leaked a copy onto the ‘net two full weeks before it was set to premiere in the U.K. While I can’t officially condone that action, I can certainly understand the impatience to see it now.

Reading some of the British press reviews, I was struck by the phrase, “first new episode in 16 years.” I went straight to my guide book, and sure enough, the last original episode, “Survival,” aired in 1989. It made me feel very old.

From most accounts, this continuation is something old and something new. (The TARDIS is, of course, both borrowed and blue.) It goes back to its roots as a show designed to scare the kids into hiding behind the sofa. There are nods to the past, including the resurrection of the Autons, animated department store dummies introduced during the ’70s. However, it does away with the wobbly, cardboard sets and introduces a lightning-fast pace. Most noticeably, it does away with the old format of four half-hour episodes per story, in favor of 45-minute, stand-alone installments.

It sounds good to me. While I’m certainly enough of a traditionalist to think fondly of the serialized, cliffhanging classic Doctor Who, I acknowledge that the third episode of a four-parter was usually just a bunch of pointless running around.

The show was created in the early ’60s, when audiences were accustomed to a slow build. But times change, and nostalgia for its own sake can be self-defeating. Furthermore, half-hour dramas are hard to sell in syndication, and serialized half-hours nearly impossible. Television is still a business.

I suspect that some old-time fans will hate the new show. That’s not especially surprising. It’s been my experience that a sci-fi series’ diehard followers are also its harshest critics when it inevitably fails to hold true to the idealized version they hold in their heads.

I think they’ll dislike it precisely because it sticks to its kids’ show origins. For the past 15 years, many of the spin-off novels and audio plays have built on a darker theme introduced during the original TV series’ last few years. They’ve tried to reposition Doctor Who as science-fiction for adults.

My feeling is that fans realize that they’ve grown up since they fell in love with the Doctor, and they demand that the show grow with them. After all, it’s bad enough to be branded a sci-fi geek, even worse to be seen as an adult obsessed with a kids’ show. And so, in the long hiatus between televised adventures, Doctor Who became a franchise weighed down by adult themes.

The funny thing is that despite this desire for maturity, Who fandom has traditionally rejected the introduction of a sexual interest on the part of the title character. Instead, they’ve created a vast backstory to make it painfully clear that Time Lords do not, not, not ever have sex, despite plenty of contrary evidence. The Doctor’s original companion was his granddaughter Susan, yet many fans choose to ignore this repeatedly stated familial relationship, because it assumes that at some point the Doctor got it on.

Ironically, this attitude can be directly attributed to Doctor Who‘s kids’ show origins. The Doctor had a tendency to take pretty, young women as his travelling companions, and therefore the producers had to insist to concerned parents that there was “no hanky-panky in the TARDIS.” Somehow, this got mistranslated into the notion that the entire Time Lord race was asexual. (I assumed that they simply didn’t go in for humans and/or that the Doctor preferred to keep things on a professional level.)

For my part, I look forward to the opportunity for new adventures with the good ol’ Doctor, sex or no sex. After all, even a Time Lord shouldn’t have much time for hanky-panky when he’s busy saving the universe. As he famously said, “Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea is getting cold.” Save us, Doctor!