Premature Shark Jumping @nbcbrooklyn99 #TV #Brooklyn99

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I recently took to to social media to whine about how disappointed I am with Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final season.

This led to a quick back and forth. Two friends agreed but characterized the failure as jumping the shark. I don’t think they’re wrong, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are very few new ideas under the sun. Moreover, as I reminded you on Monday, there are only seven stories one can tell. While there can be other factors, putting this together, jumping the shark occurs when the stories a show can tell run their course among their particular set of characters and settings. In other words, the combination of characters, settings, and stories grow stale even if, as with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office, and Parks & Recreation, the show has talented writers. It often manifests itself with desperate attempts to try something new that stray too far from the show’s premise. When Happy Days did this, it gave the phenomenon its name.

Now that comedy is being killed by a small minority of the perpetually and intentionally outraged, writers are afraid to take any risks, giving rise to a new way in which jumping the shark manifests. They don’t just take stupid chances to keep the show interesting. They also choose to exclude a wide variety of available stories for fear of losing their positions in the industry due to the controversy they cause. That means that shark-jumping occurs far earlier in the life of a series (c.f., Community), and it manifests as recycling the same tired themes with only meaningless differences from episode to episode.

In my humble opinion, with only a few exceptions, Brooklyn Nine-Nine started to lose its originality somewhere around season three, which isn’t even halfway through its life. (I keep watching because I can’t help but finish things I start.) Sure, we remained attached to some clever, well-delivered one-liners (Bingpot!), and the Halloween competition as a recurring theme, but overall the episodes, and even the characters’ personalities, grew tiresome and/or annoying long before the final season started. (I’ve wanted to punch Charles Boyle in the neck for months now.) The writers on that show both recycled themes and also, by the last season, strayed too far from the premise. I fear the stagnation of shows will only accelerate as we continue to fear those that are offended by everything. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current crop of writers are among those demanding these changes. In that case, they’re wasting their own talent.

Much like another phenomenon that involves premature action, the cause is often psychological.

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Disappointing Watch: Bill & Ted Face the Music @BillandTed3 @paramountplus #BillAndTed #ParamountPlus

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Two movies recently hit Paramount+. Yesterday, I wrote about A Quiet Place 2. Today, I’m really sad to report that Bill & Ted failed me.

I don’t think this is a case of growing out of the material. I’ve grown out of professional wrestling. I know what it feels like to just not care anymore because of who I am now. On the other hand, I haven’t grown out of Star Trek or Star Wars. Weirdly, I’ve absolutely grown out of the old Godzilla movies but love the new ones because I loved the old ones. I’m not sure that makes sense, but there it is.

This movie was atrocious. The pacing was terrible. The new characters were stupid. We all thought Station was stupid, but we didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We sucked it up and enjoyed Bogus Journey anyway. But here, I couldn’t do that. There were too may actors/characters added that were a second rate versions of the actors/characters they were replacing. What’s worse, the android was replacing Death even though Death was still in the movie. Death was a watered down version of his character in Bogus Journey, but my nostalgia kicked in and I was okay with that. But nostalgia couldn’t save this movie. Probably worst of all is that the heroes aren’t even Bill and Ted. Why did they name the movie Bill & Ted [anything] if Bill and Ted aren’t really the heroes.

It’s rare for me to be this disappointed in a movie that I want to love so much.

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Not-Quite-My-Thing Watch: A Quiet Place 2 @quietplacemovie @johnkrasinski @paramountplus #AQuietPlace #ParamountPlus

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Two movies recently hit Paramount+, and I’ve been dying to see them both. First up is A Quiet Place 2. I’m not a fan of horror movies, so when a few of the typical horror tropes reared their ugly heads, it took quite a bit away from my enjoyment of the movie. As with all horror movies, people make stupid decisions just to advance the plot (lazy writing), and are then saved because logic always gives ground to the needs of the script. If that doesn’t bother you as much as it did me, then you may like this movie a lot more than I did.

That’s important, because I still liked (not loved) it despite these flaws. As much as I wanted to punch the main characters in the face, I found myself really caring for them. I wanted them to win. The opening act was also very tense, and while it didn’t answer all the questions we have, it gave us some more with which to work.

I should warn you that the movie doesn’t really have an ending. I guess that’s to make sure there’s A Quiet Place 3.

Kylo Ren More GIF - KyloRen More TheLastJedi - Discover & Share GIFs | Star  wars sequel trilogy, Kylo ren, Star wars kylo ren

Next up: Bill & Ted Face the Music

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Good Watch: Ragnarok, Season 2 @jonasgravli @SunthDanu @netflix #MythologyMonday #Ragnarok #Jotunn #Thor #Loki #GoodWatch #tv

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Last week, I watched season 2 of Ragnarok. I previously discussed season 1, which I think I liked more than I should have. I’m a sucker for mythology, so I sometimes give modern dramatizations a little more credit than they deserve (though this is not absolute). This certainly applies here. The acting was rather sour at times, and I’m not sure whether that’s because the English is dubbed. However, I haven’t seen a better representation of mythology on film than this show, and that’s despite the fact that it intentionally (and appropriately) takes the “gods” and “giants” in a different direction.

The premise is that the war between gods and giants never ends. Both groups are continuously reincarnated but in different ways. You learn in season 2 that the giants know who they are their entire lives, even as they take on new ones through reincarnation. However, because the gods represent the interests of humans, they possess or are reincarnated as (probably the former, but unclear) humans, taking time to remember/learn who they are. This creates a foot race. The giants are busy destroying the world (in the most modern of ways in this show), searching for evidence that the gods are returning. Once they learn that the gods are back, they race to complete their plans, or even kill the gods, before the gods gain their full strength. The complication for the giants are that they’re bound by the rules of the game, which doesn’t allow them to act directly at times.

See? Giants aren’t all that bad.

Despite getting to the action this season, there’s still character development in play. For example, there’s an obscure character in Norse mythology, Járnsaxa (don’t click the link if you don’t want to be able to infer spoilers), whose role took me by surprise. Her character was in front of my face for two seasons, and I didn’t recognize her until the last episode of season 2. Based on the myths, her presence is important to how the series should wrap up. Some new characters were “born” in this season as well, including two extremely important ones, Loki and … something else.

The actor playing Loki is no Tom Hiddleston — who is? — but he does a good job, and the writing for his character is as good as any I’ve seen for any god from any mythology ever on television or in the movie theater. He’s exactly what Loki is supposed to be, which is hard to fit into modern storytelling. He’s not evil. He’s not even always selfish. He’s . . . Loki. Moreover, Thor’s reluctance to remove Loki as a threat makes a ton of sense, just as it does in Norse mythology, but not in exactly the same way, because this show takes place today.

Season 1 was very slow — all set up — but season 2 really got us into the mythology. Unfortunately, it’s only six, 50-minute (or so) episodes. I wanted a lot more.

I can’t guarantee you’ll like it if you’re not a mythology nut like me, so as always, YMMV.

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I Refuse to Drop Either of These, Part 2 @StarTrek @StarWars #StarTrek #StarWars

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Yeah, I’ve done this before. Here I go again with something stupid. Just try to remember that I love both.

So you’re admitting that the Enterprise would win. Thank you.

And before you think you have a clever retort. . . .

Star Wars vs Star Trek | Star trek funny, Star trek ships, Star trek
Good plan. I just think that Star Wars fans must be heavier smokers.
Star wars star trek Memes
It’s true, you know?

You may have us on this one.
20 Star Trek Memes That Will Give You A Chuckle
This is just going to make things worse.
Too good to be's for days! | Star trek funny, Star trek series, Star  trek characters
Can we all agree that this is sacrilege?

Okay, maybe I’ve finally gotten this out of my system.

Star Trek >> Star Wars. (Guess not.)

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Tuvix @StarTrek @paramountplus @StarTrekOnPPlus @netflix @hulu #StarTrek #Tuvix #Voyager

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I’ve never been a fan of Star Trek: Voyager. It’s Star Trek, so it can’t be all bad, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the weakest entry in the franchise. Star Trek used to be a morality play first, and bells and whistles second. Some of the later series have lost sight of that at times, and so have some fans, which is they’re loss as far as I’m concerned. However, I recently rediscovered season 2, episode 24, Tuvix, and it may very well be the most Star Trek of Star Trek episodes ever.

Spoilers ahead.

I’m assuming that the reader knows something about the series, though you need not know the series to understand the moral dilemma in play. Tuvok and Neelix are merged into a single person due to a transporter mishap. The resulting person, who calls himself, Tuvix, is initially more than willing to have himself separated, but the technology wasn’t there at the time. Two weeks (or so) later, Harry and the Doctor figure out how to do it, but by that point Tuvix has changed his mind (minds?). When Tuvix is told that there’s a “solution” to his “problem,” he essentially responds that he doesn’t want to be executed, and at one point refers to it as murder. He’s developed friendships and has smoothly resumed his professional responsibilities as tactical officer while occasionally cooking for the crew. In fact, there’s a synergy. It’s clear that he’s a better tactical officer and chef then he was before (though one might expect that he can’t do the work of two men).

Seriously, these are the spoilers.

Nevertheless, when Janeway makes the decision to separate him back into Tuvok and Neelix, the major players in the show: Paris, Chakotay, Kes, and Harry are all in agreement. There’s a logic to that sentiment; you can’t replace a relationship years in the making with a new guy who showed up two weeks ago. However, that doesn’t remove the underlying moral dilemma.

My personal view is that the separation was appropriate. Tuvix defended his right to live in part by arguing that Tuvok and Neelix were still alive in a sense by existing within him. That one fell on deaf ears for me, as you could turn that argument around on him. Once separated, Tuvix would exist in the same sense within the reformed Tuvok and Neelix. I think what puts me over the edge is that I feel like we’re choosing two lives over one, as Tuvok and Neelix still exist in my view. They’re essentially in prison.

But you can’t ignore the fact that Tuvix is, in all ways that we understand, a unique person with his own thoughts, feelings, and relationships, no less a person perhaps than a so-called “test tube baby,” but certainly as much as an android like Data, a life form created by technology rather than biology. Even within two weeks, he’s grown as a personality. Whether or not you think he should have been separated, this decision shouldn’t be easy. I was disappointed with how happy everyone (except Janeway and the Doctor) seemed to be when the separation was complete. To my knowledge, this episode was never brought up again later in the series. That’s a shame. I wish that a later episode of Voyager had required Janeway to reexamine her decision, perhaps giving her an analogous scenario where she went in the opposite direction. The fact that it didn’t is yet more reason to view the writing in Voyager as the weakest link in the franchise.

Tuvix is currently available to stream on Paramount+, Netflix, and Hulu (at least in the United States). Give it a watch.

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Star Trek Starship Orientation @davekellett @StarTrek #StarTrek

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I recently came across this comic panel on Facebook, which I found on Twitter.

I have no idea if anyone has ever discussed this before, but my uncle and I had this conversation during the Next Generation run (I’m guessing around 1991). His idea was that the shape of these ships was influenced by their need to maximize combat efficiency. As a result, the best chances a starship had of winning an encounter is to be oriented face first towards the opponents. The problem is that the opponents had the same design characteristic, and it was difficult to get either ship into a bad position when facing off before combat started. That seemed reasonable to me.

However, it was really about things not looking stupid, or more generally making sure the viewers understood what they saw. For example, there was an episode of Next Generation called Power Play in which the Enterprise approached the “southern polar region” of a moon. In space, the “south pole” is really meaningless, but okay, fine. They approached the south pole. Why did they orient themselves like this?

Look, I couldn’t find a screenshot, and all I have is MS Paint. (Dave, please let me know if you have a problem with me using this modification of your work.)

The ship was shown underneath the planet, still right side up, but up and down make no sense in space. Why isn’t the ship upside down? In the alternative, why isn’t the ship right side up but above the planet (thus reversing the y axis of the shot)? The answer, of course, is to communicate to the viewer that the ship is at the south pole without disorientating them. It’s just a TV show after all.

So yeah, it’s probably about things not looking stupid.

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In case the tweet is ever deleted, here’s a copy of it. However, to avoid infringing his copyright, I don’t reproduce the image at issue here.

The IP of Star Trek Exists in the MCU @StarTrek #StarTrek #MCU #comic

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Not that this is a surprise at all, but clearly Star Trek exists in the MCU as a TV show and, most likely, movie intellectual property. So, for this fake Star Wars week, I link to a Reddit post with a couple of cels from a comic (which I don’t read) giving an example of this. I link because I don’t want to infringe copyright.

So what about some substantive content? Ok, I’ll come up with something.

Did Star Trek have an in-comic crossover with Marvel? Or was that DC or some indie comic company? If so, shouldn’t these references throw the Marvel universe into complete chaos? If so, would any of the characters even notice? It’s already pretty chaotic in there.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m really posting it because it’s new to me, and I found it funny. And relatable. I’m Dr. Doom in that cel.

These are my favorite two intellectual properties, so why not?

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Happy Star Trek Day! @kesseljunkie @StarTrek @starwars #StarTrek #StarWars #StarWarsDay #MayTheFourth

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I mean, why not? Aren’t we choosing dates that have nothing to do with the underlying intellectual property? So, why not randomly choose the May 4th for Star Trek based on some political use of a Star Wars phrase?

It’s ridiculousness like this that makes my tongue and cheek rivalry with Kessel Junkie seem real. Come back and talk to me on the 25th.

Gorn >> Bossk

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Good Watch: The Last Blockbuster @blockbuster @netflix #Blockbuster #GoodWatch #movie

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I finally caught the Last Blockbuster on Netflix. It was an interesting telling of how Blockbuster failed. Absolutely nothing was a surprise. Blockbuster died because technology changed; everyone knows that. I was disappointed that they tried to spin its demise, refusing to admit that Netflix, et al. killed it. The argument is that Blockbuster died because they didn’t have the capital to invest in streaming technology. Well, yeah. Duh. We know that. When we say “Netflix killed Blockbuster,” what we’re all really saying is “streaming technology killed the video rental business.” Nothing in the documentary proved otherwise.

Great. Now I’ve developed another nervous tic.

Nevertheless, it was, as I said, and interesting telling. I love learning about history regardless of how recent it was.

No Nostalgia Here

What surprised me the most about the show was my own emotional reaction. I really don’t care. That is, despite renting videos being a huge part of my teenage life, it was kind of a pain in the neck. I’m not immune to nostalgia. Most of the people who have ever read this blog have done so only because nostalgia brought me back to D&D 24 years after the Satanic Panic took it away from me. I have the same love of childhood garbage food that all of you have. However, renting videos wasn’t without cost.

First, my parents had to get with the program and actually buy a VCR. That took a while. Second, it was about a 1.5 mile (each way) walk to get to the video rental store. There are also occasional war stories related to renting videos. For example, I’m a middle child, and when I say I’m a middle child, I mean I’m the middle child, as in the poster child of middle children. Look it up in your dictionary. If my picture isn’t there, buy a new dictionary. Ergo, I never got to pick what movies I wanted unless I took matters into my own hands, and even then, I had to wait my turn for the VCR, which sometimes never came. That leads me to a specific war story. My cousin and I once rented Bachelor Party. We were in high school and didn’t have credit cards, so to rent it (without our parents’ assistance), we had to put down (IIRC) a $75 deposit (that’s $187 in 2021 money . . . for a high school student). We were dipshits.

Overall, I suspect I have more fond memories of renting movies than poor ones, but I just don’t miss it. I can imagine how inconvenient it would be if I still had to do that. As I type this, Netflix proceeded directly to Stowaway. I like being able to just grab movies at the touch of a button … errrr, click of a mouse. Of course, you all probably agree with that, but nostalgia isn’t really about actually wanting to go back, but rather about remembering what was going on in your life at that point. Well, I’m a big movie theater guy, so going to the movie theater is still a far more enjoyable experience than renting and watching a video at home. I suspect that’s why this documentary didn’t pull at any heartstrings. Perhaps I’ll have a nostalgic reaction when and if movie theaters die. (Fuck you, COVID-19.)

Still a good documentary. As always, YMMV.

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