There Are No New Ideas

Basically, this is what the new Star Wars movie poster looks like. And when you make the fatal mistake of judging a film based on the movie poster, you come away with one of two possibilities--good film or meh film. It looks to me like this is going to be a rehash of all of the ideas found in the original trilogy. There are new faces and all that, but, essentially, the whole thing will boil down to a new Darth Vader and a new planet-killing "death star" weapon that everyone has to stop. At some point, it'll looks like it will be about daddy issues and a countdown to destruction.

Talk about risk averse. Nope, we're not getting anything more than a Star Wars version of the second Star Trek film--the Wrath of Cumberbatch.

Yay! They ressurected a billion dollar franchise and then just recycled old ideas in order to hoover money out of the pockets of gullible people. If someone thought that they were going to be daring and go off on wild tangents and come up with a new way to tell this story, they would be wrong. This is exactly what they did with the first and second Star Trek films--they retold a story everyone already knew.

I hope I'm wrong, of course, because ruining things is no fun. 

First Season Ratings for Fear the Walking Dead

I didn't think it was going to be this huge:

Fear the Walking Dead just had the best first season of any show in cable history.

With live-plus-three day ratings in for all six episodes, each of which also did gangbusters among live viewers, the AMC spinoff averaged 11.2 million viewers. 7.3 million of those were adults 18-49. That means that the cable network heads into the last months of 2015 with the No. 1 (Walking Dead), No. 2 (Fear the Walking Dead) and No. 3 (Better Call Saul) shows on basic cable.

AMC, which had renewed the series before its debut, is also going to give it a weekly post-show treatment upon its 2016 return. Chris Hardwick's The Talking Dead, a popular companion to the parent series, will air after every episode of Fear's second season.

I did recaps for every episode, which is something I haven't done before. I went through a lot of other recaps, looking for signs that I had gotten something wrong or had made a factual error and, no matter where I went, the reaction was always the same: boring!

Comment after comment rained down--this is a boring show, nothing is happening, blah blah blah. And that tells you one of two things--people are starved for action and they're starved for attention. 

FTWD isn't an action show. It doesn't feature mindless car chases and fight scenes (although it probably will end up having them soon). It's a drama disguised as a horror genre television show. And it's one steeped in the Humanities and elevated by the life or death aspect of the choices put in front of the characters. I guess I'm not surprised by the fact that the show has been marketed as a horror and action show rather than a drama. There's nothing procedural about it other than scratching out some way to survive. To me it's a story of humanity that operates within a framework of asking "how would you survive?"

Well, we already know that you won't survive without people and people are the reason why you probably won't survive for very long. That's the thing that keeps people coming back. They want to see who makes it and who doesn't and that wouldn't happen with flat, phony characters in a horror or action show. It wouldn't happen if there wasn't a struggle with conscience and morality over the simplest of choices.

If you look at this first season as a slow-moving drama, it works on a number of levels. You get the blended family dynamic. You get a slice of Central American history. You get inter-generational conflict. And you get a pretty good idea of where we're at as a society when it comes to treating people addicted to drugs.

Yeah, boring stuff.

These ratings reflect the need for people to connect to an alternate history of the United States. We're talking about events that happened in 2010. We're looking at the context of a global pandemic that mysteriously affects every human brain on the planet. If you succumb to a serious fever, somewhat akin to meningitis or influenza (which look very similar when identified in victims), you die and reanimate and consume human or living flesh. If you survive this, you will reanimate when you die or when you are bitten or scratched by a person who has succumbed to the reanimation process. This basic set of rules affects all of civilization in that it then causes everything to break down. Now, how do you survive?

That's not horror--that's drama. That's life. It's very powerful and the interest in this show reflects that.

Sunday night, I'll start issuing recaps for Season Six of The Walking Dead.

Moonbeam City Season One Episode 3

Now, this is more like it.

The third episode of Moonbeam City's first season dropped like a bomb last week and I am just now getting around to reviewing it. The rapid jokes, crudity, and overall incompetence of Dazzle Novak is there but so is the development of more characters and better situations.

I liked this episode more than last week's and that's primarily because the sheer nuttiness of the premise worked.

Last week, it was about babies and raves--a Nineties theme that has no business in a show that satirizes the Eighties. This episode, called "The Strike Visualizer Strikes Again" goes after a more obscure theme. 

Remember those cheesy cartoons that play on screens in bowling alleys that depict in cartoon format the success or failure of a bowler? That's the whole episode, set against the backdrop of Moonbeam City's neon trash and decay. There's a maniac on the loose and the police are powerless to stop him--a premise that this show is going to use again and again because it works.

What also works, at least for me, is referencing the superficiality of the Eighties and making something like bowling so important in the life of Dazzle Novak. The day-glo bowling alleys are superbly imagined and the trick is to make something so seriously important, no matter how ridiculous it is, so that the characters can get all bent out of shape over nothing. That's what works in this episode--they rode the bowling alley theme all the way to a massive, gory, violent payoff. 

Kate Mara's Chrysalis has more to do in this episode and Elizabeth Banks needs her own storylines. The whole show should be about Pizazz. Rob Lowe is killing it as Dazzle and Will Forte is keeping his character, Rad, in a permanent state of desperate envy. The writing is clicking and so is the show--it's working on a lot of different levels that should keep it around for a while. I'm hoping the show continues to hit a stride because it's still, visually, at least, one of the most inventive shows out there.