“Screw You!” Watch: Surviving Death @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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I’ve watched only one and one-half of the six, 50-minute (or so) episodes of this show. That’s enough. This is an important show to watch, but not for the reasons the show advances. It’s important to see how low humans can get. It’s important to see how assholes will take advantage of peoples’ trauma to make a buck, leaning on the trivial point that “we don’t know everything” to justify making up bullshit at which traumatized people will throw their money. Seriously, to hell with anyone who gives these charlatans a voice.

That’s not to say that this couldn’t be a good show. It could be. There are patterns to near-death experiences that are impossible to ignore, but they should be studied from a psychological perspective to know why we perceive what we do.

Screw you! As always, YMMV.

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Apocalyptic Watch: #Spycraft @eoneill @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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I just finished Spycraft on Netflix. At first, my thoughts were, “Great. Even more ways in which I have no privacy. Maybe I should take more seriously all these spam emails that claim to have me compromised.” It eventually got worse. Much worse. Now I’m thinking, “Oh, so Armageddon is a real thing. I didn’t know that.” Well, then . . .

“So murder and mayhem. Standard procedure.” (1:58)

This was quite horrifying and educational even though I’m apathetic and technically literate (if not a bit behind the curve after all these years of lawyering). The one thing I didn’t like is that they addressed Robert Hanssen without interviewing Eric O’Neill (or even mentioning him). Eric’s a friend and was the center of the operation that caught Hansen. But that means nothing to most of you.

This was far better than the Social Dilemma. I actually learned something with this one. As always, YMMV.

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Improved Watch: Disenchantment, Season 3 @disenchantment @netflix #Disenchantment #netflix

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I watched the third season of Disenchantment this weekend via Netflix. The first two seasons were a big meh for me, but I kept going back to the well because I’m such a huge fan of Futurama. Just hearing, for example, the voice of Mom’s oldest son now recast as “Eyeball” makes me laugh a little bit. But this third season was a definite improvement. There were several gags that made me laugh out loud during the first two-thirds of the season.

That said, it wasn’t all good. The writing inexplicably returned to its stale, unfunny self by the last few episodes, relying instead on its cliffhangers to keep us watching. Why? Also, the fate that befell King Zog was supposed to be funny and sympathetic. It was neither. It dragged on way too long and became annoying quickly.

So, was it worth the watch? For the most part, yes, but it’s still having troubles. It’s taking far too long to hit its stride. If it keeps getting better, I’ll keep watching, but if season 4 is a step backwards, it’ll be the last season I watch. If it gets cancelled, I won’t miss it. There’s too much good content out there waiting for me.

As always, YMMV.

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I Refuse to Drop Either of These @StarTrek @StarWars #StarTrek #StarWars

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today it’s … well, let’s just say I refuse to let this go, both the meme and the underlying issue.

Star Trek >> Star Wars.

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Letdown Watch: Star Trek Discovery, Season 3 @StarTrek @CBSAllAccess #GoodWatch #StarTrek #DISCO

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I love Star Trek: Discovery, but season 3 of DISCO ended with quite a let down. There were two basic premises of the season that really hooked me: A jump to the far future, and the mystery of the “Burn.” The crew probably won’t ever be going back in time, so we’ll always have that. The mystery of the “Burn,” however, was quite disappointing. That’s a lost opportunity to tell a cool story. I did like that they had a good reason to show Doug Jones without all the makeup. 🙂

The one constant complaint I have about all seasons is that the crewmembers are often people that have no business serving on what is (despite the claims to the contrary) a military vessel. This season exacerbated that by, among other things, having characters asking permission to be leaders. Seriously. More than once. That’s not how leadership works, but it’s how non-leader types want to believe it works, and that’s a lot of the fanbase. That’s harder to believe than warp drive and energy beings.

Still, I don’t regret watching the show. It’s Star Trek. I’m always going to watch, but I’m very concerned with the direction of the writing. A shake up behind the curtain is probably needed. DISCO has a lot of haters, and I don’t want this new wave of Star Trek television to fail.

YMMV.

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Emotional Watch: The Midnight Sky. I Liked It, but You Probably Won’t. @midnightskymov @netflix #GoodWatch #MidnightSky

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When I provide my opinion of movies and TV shows, I try to explain why I liked them. That is, I share a personality trait or life experience that likely made me like or dislike it. If you and I share that trait or experience that the movie or show triggered, then you can reasonably rely on my review. Otherwise, my opinion shouldn’t mean anything to you.

For example, imagine you’re a professional food critic. You tell me that there’s this new product from Kraft called, let’s say, Cocktoasten. You tell me that the combination of herbs and spices are phenomenal and like nothing you’ve ever tasted. I should absolutely try it. The problem is that it’s simply a new form of mac and cheese, and I hate cheese. (I know, I know. That’s weird. Try to stay focused on my point.) It doesn’t matter how good the cheese is; it’s cheese, so I hate it. That’s true of any food. It’s all subjective and pretending that your critique is solely objective is dishonest to your audience and probably yourself.

Clearly, the same thing is true of movies and TV shows, though it’s anymore complex analysis. Certain themes draw some of us in that may leave others uninspired. These often override any objective measures of filmmaking (though these measures are still important). After all, I liked Green Lantern. Because movie and TV critics tend to arrogantly think that their opinions are objective truths, I never listen to them.

The Midnight Sky

This movie is getting hammered by the critics, and obliterated by the audience, and I understand why. It’s not good storytelling, bouncing between two stories that meet at the end in the most predictable of ways. Some people make some dumb decisions along the way. Nevertheless, I really liked it. Why? Because it hit a particularly strong chord with me. As predictable as the ending is, sharing this nature of this chord would be a massive spoiler. That demonstrates yet another reason why reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. The things that may turn you off or on may not be sharable.

I can’t expect anyone else to like this movie, but if there’s a lesson in this post, it’s that ultimately you must form your own opinions, which can vary wildly from the masses. Hence, the notion of guilty pleasures. Unfortunately, with all the content out there and limited time to watch, that can be frustrating.

Obviously, YMMV.

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Nostalgic Watch: Cobra Kai, Season 3 @CobraKaiSeries @Netflix #GoodWatch #CobraKai #NoMercy

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As you probably know, YouTube left the “original streaming content” business and sold Cobra Kai to Netflix. Season 3 dropped yesterday, and of course I watched all 5 hours of it immediately, even though it’s not all good.

First off, the good. These writers know how to appeal to the nostalgia, in part because the Karate Kid intellectual property was their favorite. Almost every moment with Daniel, Johnny, and the other characters from the movies hits old guys like me (52 years and counting) right in the gut. They also know how to write in general. The scripts flow brilliantly from one scene to the other. I hate flashbacks, but even that works here.

Now for the bad. As I said, I’m an old guy. The entire storyline surrounding the kids is uninteresting to me. I know why they’re doing it — that’s what the entire intellectual property is about — but I’ve never understood my fellow nerds’ obsession with child protagonists. Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Ender’s Game … none of those interest me. Our primary function as adults is to protect children, not to worship them or even place them as equals. It’s a dynamic I always found weird (and counterproductive), so as an old guy, I just don’t care about the conflict between the kids, and the unrealistic portrayal of what they can do.

In fact, there are many problems with how the show deals with the law, and, sadly, martial arts itself, but as I’ve written about in other contexts, that’s almost always the case. Sometimes you have to beat the audience over the head with overstatement and extreme imagery in order for them to get your point. Ergo, we have Hollywood’s unofficial mantra: Never let the law, science, or common sense get in the way of a good story. Who am I to judge? I love the MCU. 🙂

Again, I don’t fault the writers. This is what the Karate Kid is all about, and they’re not just writing for me. I’ve just outgrown the original genre. But despite that, this show is still fantastic because, unlike many writers, these writers know how to write for multiple audiences. Based on what I’ve seen recently, that’s apparently not an easy feat.

There’s just too much in this show I love for me to be distracted by the things I don’t. I’m looking forward to season 4. As always, YMMV.

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Episode Lengths

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A while back, I talked about how much I liked Bloodline but had no intention of watching any season beyond the first. The show suffered from what many shows do: The slow burn. Broadcast shows have a formula. I don’t know the details, but I think 30-miunute shows are about 20 minutes of content, and 60-minute shows are about 40 minutes of content. The rest of the time is for commercials placed at specific points in the story. There are good reasons for that, but it creates an artistic problem. While episodes may be part of a larger story, each episode must be self-contained in the sense that a particular segment of the story must be told over the course of that episode. The result is that the writers sometimes must fill shorter story segments with meaningless filler.

With content that was created for streaming, the reasons for those traditional episode lengths and commercial placements aren’t strictly required. They make sense if you want to someday sell the material to a broadcast network, but if they aren’t required, then they should be ignored for the sake of the art. How valuable is syndication of you can’t get people to watch even the first season? I grow tired of it even though I’m an old guy and am used to it.

Look at the result where the artists don’t care about these restrictions. The Mandalorian does a lot of things right, so it’d probably be a success anyway, but creativity takes precedence. Any given episode needs a particular subplot told and action sequence shown. It does so, and then the credits roll. If that means the episode is appropriately 20 minutes long, that’s how long it goes. If that means the episode is appropriately 40 minutes long, that’s how long it goes. No one gets bored because there isn’t any useless filler added. Everything you see matters.

I hope that originally streamed content takes this same approach. If so, I expect the quality of the writing would inevitably improve. Of course, some writers are better than others, so this is just one factor in keeping my attention, but there’s a logic to this one.

I’m not an industry insider. I merely know what I like.

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Jar Jar Abrams Should Leave Us Alone #StarWars #Mandalorian #ThisIsTheWay

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today it’s a meme shared on Facebook, and it isn’t silly. It’s a serious commentary as far as I’m concerned.

Image may contain: 3 people, text that says 'We can't satisfy the original trilogy fans while appealing to a new, younger audience. HOLD MY BLUE MILK.'

I’m not alone in my view.

Then there’s this:

Abrams Discussing Star Trek With Jon Stewart : startrek
How could you hand the reins of Star Trek to a guy who hates Star Trek?

I could go on forever.

Jar Jar Abrams should stay away from anything nerdy. He clearly doesn’t get it.

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