Re: Random Thoughts

I found this neat essay about Tom Cruise in M:I6 that made me think about Quinn:

Cinema Sangha wrote:

Acting isn’t about pretending. Acting is about truth, and it’s about discovering the truth in yourself and presenting it through a fictionalized lens.

Tom Cruise inhabits a world very different from our own. His truth is not our truth. And I don’t mean this in some hacky class war way. I mean it in a spiritual way, he exists on a different wavelength than the rest of us. Tom Cruise could have been President – his tragic flaw is that he fell in with a bunch of hucksters and scumbags and ended up being the only person to benefit from their scam system.

When he walks into the room he brings with him this energy that is palpable and exhilarating, and it isn’t a messy ball of energy, randomly bouncing about. The energy that Cruise carries with him is focused and disciplined. Tom Cruise doesn’t not know how to do things. Tom Cruise just hasn’t learned something yet, and there’s a huge mental difference between those two concepts.

No actor has ever run with such truth and honesty.

Tom Cruise is ambition in human form. He’s the anthropomorphic embodiment of achievement. He’s work ethic made flesh. It’s not that things come easy to Tom Cruise, it’s that working for things comes easy to Tom Cruise.

In the moments when he runs, Tom Cruise is clearly in a state of singular focus, with all of his attention – all of that intense energy that swirls about him like electrical storms around a mountain top – beamed in at one spot ahead of him. This is the truest moment for Cruise, when he is all about achieving the next step, and then the next, and then the next. This is his soul on screen, a man aimed forward, launched like a missile, existing only for each pump of the leg, for each arm gracefully knifing through the air. … om-cruise/

There is nothing that Quinn Mallory doesn't know how to do -- just things he hasn't learned how to do. Yet. There is a huge mental difference between those two concepts. I think this is as true for Quinn as it is for Ethan Hunt, and I do see the mid-50s Tom Cruise character as a representation of who Quinn would be today. And this essay had me wondering, what's the difference between the two characters?

Looking at the actors, Tom Cruise's confidence is cocksure yet scrambling; he's perpetually emphasizing the strain it takes for his Ethan Hunt to pull off the impossible feat that he must in order to disable a nuclear missile or fry a bomb injected into his skull. It's not that Ethan is destined to win; it's that he's prepared to endure insane physical distress and suffering like a human crash dummy until he staggers towards victory and from MI:4 - 6, Cruise has played Ethan with a certain weary resignation to the next beating he'll have to go through.

In contrast, Jerry O'Connell's confidence is unsteady and nervous. Jerry's hypercaffeinated twitches and gesticulating indicate that Quinn isn't entirely sure he can muddle through, is less-than-sure he can survive the next round of lunacy and he takes on Sid and tries to save Daelin and wins over the Oakland Raiders with a low-key astonishment that his crazy gambit actually paid off. When Jerry runs, it's with a panicked desperation aiming at whatever direction is away from danger.

Ethan Hunt is never running away. Even if someone's chasing him, he's running to something -- a trap, a friend, a plan. His fleeing is methodical and strategic. Ethan Hunt is a secret agent. Quinn Mallory is a college dropout who can occasionally ascend to being Ethan, but even if Quinn is Ethan, Quinn is a fundamentally dysfunctional Ethan Hunt, much as Jerry O'Connell's career trajectory was a shabby Tom Cruise impersonation.

Tom Cruise's truth is in running, in his willingness to commit and plow through each step towards his goal. What is Jerry O'Connell's truth? I have no idea, maybe that's why he never became a leading man film star. What is Quinn Mallory's truth?

To me, there are two definitive Quinn-scenes: "Gillian of the Spirits" where he sits quietly with Gillian and looks at this flawed, troubled, broken, lost little girl and tells her with earnest sincerity and full honesty that that she has a gift and a purpose. On one level, he's heartening a desperately needed ally; on another, he is simply calling it as he sees it; there is no false sentiment or comfort in his words. He means it.

Then there's "In Dino Veritas" where after being absent for most of the episode, Quinn reappears and starts looking around the cave the sliders have been trapped in. The sliders regarded the cave with helplessness and fear. Quinn looks around and sees points of egress and opportunity to escape, each look granting him new information to put together a solution and a plan with Jerry performing Quinn's calculation and problem solving in silent perfection.

Quinn's truth is in looking at people and their surroundings and seeing their meaning, value, purpose and importance -- and I suspect that this is not Jerry's truth as much as it's John Rhys-Davies' truth which he imparted to Jerry as his unofficial acting coach.

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Has anyone ever seen the Netflix show Sense8?

I finished season 2 and the finale movie last week.  It's a really interesting show in that I'm not sure if it's great or if it tries too hard.  There's definitely some cool action sequence (it is the Wachowskis after all), but the mechanics of how the sensates work don't make a lot of sense and isn't consistent.  And I'm not sure they accomplished the kind of world-building that I think they wanted to do.  But visually, at times, the show looked great.  Even when the show would devolve into huge orgies, making me uncomfortable whenever I tried to watch on my iPad at the gym smile

Anyone else watch this?  Curious to know others' thoughts.

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I haven't seen SENSE8 yet, but I'll get to it. I'm a big fan of writer J. Michael Straczynski's comic books (SPIDER-MAN, THOR, MIDNIGHT NATION, RISING STARS, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, SUPERMAN EARTH ONE) and I liked BABYLON 5. I miss his comic book work; his output had slowed to a crawl for many years and then he admitted that he'd been going blind, making it hard to write, but an experimental surgery restored his sight and then he felt the need to move on from comics and film and move into prose. I'm not clear if he's staying in movies or TV.


I like to watch XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and Nickelodeon's NINJA TURTLES on my iPad in the gym. The intense physicality of those shows gets me energized. I also liked watching TOMB RAIDER (2018).

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How essential is it to watch the classics when it comes to television?

My niece was intrigued by THE X-FILES and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, both of which were important and vital fantasy shows. But is there anything either show has to offer in terms of storytelling (ongoing mythology, progressive character development) that isn't done with a more skillful touch in SUPERNATURAL and SHADOWHUNTERS? It's not because TXF and BVS were poor; later shows learned from where previous shows stumbled while growing from their strengths. I adore THE FLASH TV series on the CW but have only ever been able to struggle through two episodes of the 90s show.

Shows like THE PRISONER, BABYLON 5 and the 60s STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO are a fascinating form of televised theatre and stand the test of time as a compelling artifact, but it is really hard to get through MACGYVER or MATLOCK in a post-CSI era.

NINJA TURTLES has had so many incarnations -- but I really can't recommend that a potential new fan read the unreadable Mirage comics or delve into the childish and repetitive and clumsy 80s - 90s animated series and the 2003 series is rather dour and slow and the movies are extremely mixed. Really, the best incarnation to watch is the 2012 Nickelodeon CG series which is visually up to date and picks the strongest elements of all previous versions.

What are the classics we can't miss and the classics we should feel free to skip? It's hard to recommend that anyone watch SLIDERS when FRINGE is available and on blu-ray; it's tough to send anyone to DAWSON'S CREEK when we've got RIVERDALE -- newer isn't always better, but older isn't always relevant.

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I'm watching Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.  I loved the book, and I think the show is just okay.  Spoilers for Season 3 if you're watching it too.

But the book dealt with parallel universes.  Not just in the fact that it took place in one but characters in the book were capable of traveling from their world to one where the Nazis lost the war.  The show expands on this quite a bit with more "travelers".  But season 3 moves to the idea that the Nazis want to conquer other worlds.

My problem with this is my problem with the Kromaggs.  Even if the Nazis could build a machine to travel between worlds, and even if they had the complete element of do you even go about conquering an entire planet?  The Nazis won World War II with the help of the Japanese.  In the show, they're potentially going to be in a fight with the Japanese.

I don't know how they have the manpower to think they can take over an entire world *and* fight a war at home.  I think it's an idea that sounds scary on paper, but it's something that would be almost impossible to pull off...even once.  Let alone "the Nazis conquer the multiverse"

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Update to my last post -

They actually referenced the absurdity of the plan in the episode, blaming it on fascist megalomania.  They also made it fairly clear the plan wouldn't really work even if they wanted it to.

So props to them on that.

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After 20+ years, I finally watched Babylon 5. Started it earlier in the summer and just finished it yesterday. I wanted to know where I stood with the whole DS9/B5 debate, even though I'm not a JMS fan at all.

My thoughts:

The whole idea that DS9 ripped anything off is BS. The shows have some vague similarities, but nothing that looks as though anyone from DS9 had access to a B5 show bible and copied stuff. Some of the similarities wouldn't have even been in the early plans for B5 because they came about after major cast shakeups and changes in direction.

I think this scandal was probably great publicity for JMS and his show, so he ran with it. Ultimately, there isn't anything there.

The show itself was okay. Not great, not horrible. The writing could have benefitted from some more polishing most of the time. It wasn't horrible, but it didn't change my world at all. Season 1 was boring. Seasons 2 and 3 were the best. Season 4 was kind of a mess, and kept resolving the series prematurely (I understand why, but I'm just judging what's on screen now). Season 5 was a waste of my time, and the actual series finale (filmed a year before) felt like it could have remained a "lost episode" without much harm. The second to last episode actually felt more like the end (as did a few episodes in season 4, for that matter)

Overall, B5 is okay. I still like DS9 better, but that's to be expected, since I've been a DS9 fan for decades. But I just liked the vibe of DS9 more. I liked the cast and the interactions more. I liked the arcs more. But I acknowledge that DS9 had a huge Star Trek foundation to work with, and more money, etc. It had advantages going in.

I don't think it really has to be as either/or as fans have made this debate over the years. They're different shows. Nobody stole anything. There's no need for animosity of any kind. JMS is still not my favorite person or my favorite writer. I think he's highly overrated, but there's really not much to get worked up about here.

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I agreed with Informant on this, so I'm either having a mid-life crisis or I'm sick. (I am a bit feverish.) The only real point of disagreement -- BABYLON 5 was excellent in the era in which it was made where shows that attempted ongoing arcs, political allegory, social satire and character development tended to end up like, well, SLIDERS. Since then, the highly advanced stage theatre of the show has aged poorly and it's a product of its time.

It's strange -- Informant has actually seen more of B5 than I have, which is to say I watched maybe four episodes of the final season and then skipped ahead to the finale and have never felt the need to watch what I missed.

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Wait... I didn't have to watch season 5 in order to get my B5 street creds? Why didn't I know this before?!

I think that the show was a part of sci-fi television's evolution for sure. It, along with DS9 and The X-Files, showed that the longer arcs could succeed, and science fiction tv didn't need to be a shallow way to pass a lazy Saturday afternoon.

That said, I don't think that I would have considered the show great, even back in that time. While a lot of the show's ideas were interesting, the execution of those ideas was often sloppy. This isn't something that can be blamed on budgets or limitations of technology. It was about the decisions being made. Some of the show's huge weaknesses can he chalked up to uncertainty regarding its renewal. But many smaller cracks in the overall structure were just bad construction.

No show is perfect. Ultimately, it comes down to personal tastes and whether or not the good outweighs the bad. I don't feel like I wasted my time watching the show, but I don't think that I would feel a need to recommend the show to others, the way I would with shows that really inspire me or get me excited.

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I really liked the 4400.  Not sure it would've made sense to do a sequel series, but I'm interested in a reboot.

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The CW needs to stop rebooting shows.

I'm not sure that The 4400 needs a reboot. Networks do similar shows all the time, and they really never work out.