Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

Well, if you didn't like it, I'm not going to watch it NOW!

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

Did anyone watch the 2019 version of the Twilight Zone?  I finally did, and I thought it was terrible.  Since it's an anthology, I pushed through.  But every episode was either boring or very predictable.  I didn't think there was anything interesting told or said - the themes were either dumb or way too heavy handed.  I thought it was an absolute mess.

Jordan Peele also had an anthology series on youtube.  They are asking too much of these creators... or rather the creators are spreading themselves to thin.  It's hard to maintain quality when you have to bang out episodes.

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Yeah, I don't know how much Peele was actually involved in the Twilight Zone.  He's listed as a writer on Nightmare at 30,000 feet, he's the narrator, and he's a supporting actor in the final episode (Blurryman).  But the episodes were so lifeless that I can't imagine he was involved even with story development.

There's an episode about a kid running for president.  It has John Cho and Jacob Tremblay - good actors.  The premise itself is silly, but there's tons of satire that could be done with something like that.  But they don't inject any life into it.  They don't work hard enough to sell this idea either in a crazy alternate world, and they don't make any effort to make it make sense in our world (the writers don't seem to know or care that he's not old enough to be president).  The "twist" (if you can even call it that) isn't surprising or scary.  The lesson is "don't let an 11 year old be president" - it's just dumb.

The finale wastes Zazie Beetz by just having her run around with something chasing her for 20 minutes and some lame imagery from the original series.

The Twilight Zone has a ton of episodes that could either be remade, reimagined, or even just reshot.  The Adam Scott remake of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet does a decent-enough job of updating the material for today.  The Forrest Whittaker version did a good job of updating The Monsters on Maple Street for a post-9/11 world.  There's a lot of things we could say about the world, and they only touched on some big issues (race, gender, class) in the most surface way possible.

If you can't make your own content, just borrow what Serling did.  Even if you mess that up, it'll still be better than what you gave us.

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I haven't seen THE TWILIGHT ZONE's latest incarnation. I do have a lot of respect for Jordan Peele after this video, though:

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Jordan Peele is great.  Whether it's his horror or his comedy, I feel like there's a sort of liveliness and creativity in his work.  It's why I was so shocked at how dull and lifeless it was.  Even the episode he co-wrote (with Dark Phoenix writer Simon Kinberg) doesn't really do or say much.  The episode he's featured in outside of being the narrator doesn't do much more.

Now maybe Peele just performed as an actor in Blurryman with no writing input (like John Cho did, like Kumail Nanjiani did, like Zazie Beetz did, etc), maybe he just did enough writing on Nightmare at 30,000 Feet to get credit and the hit-and-miss Kinberg wrote most of the story, and maybe he had nothing to do with the writing of the other 8 episodes he narrated on.  It certainly feels like it.  But if he did much more than that, Twilight Zone is his first major screw-up in Hollywood after quite a few hits.

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"Voyagers", a tv show from the early 1980s, and a bit of a predecessor to Sliders, is available on the NBC streaming app/website.  I've used that app in the past a lot (they have "Amazing Stories") but didn't see this on the platform until now.

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I've never seen VOYAGERS, but Tom and Cory covered the entire season of the show in REWATCH PODCAST, so I can bluff my way through any conversation about it. (My God, Jeffrey is constantly crying! Hey, why is there so little backstory on the Voyagers and their organization? Phineas is so loaded with charm. The last seven episodes are a bit weak, aren't they?)

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ireactions wrote:

I've never seen VOYAGERS, but Tom and Cory covered the entire season of the show in REWATCH PODCAST, so I can bluff my way through any conversation about it. (My God, Jeffrey is constantly crying! Hey, why is there so little backstory on the Voyagers and their organization? Phineas is so loaded with charm. The last seven episodes are a bit weak, aren't they?)

I forgot that Cory & Tom covered this series.  If I have a chance to get into it, I'll listen to their podcast along the way.

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Anyone see the miniseries "Devs"?  It was written and directed by Alex Garland, and I thought it was well done.  And since it plays around with the multiverse, I thought it was pretty cool.  Anyone else check it out?

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I am currently deep in watching WAREHOUSE 13, but if DEVS isn’t as dark and scary as the real world, I’d watch it. Is it?

Right now, I am also watching PARKS AND RECREATION, a fantasy show where American government is run by engaged, capable or at least not malevolent people. And CASTLE and WAREHOUSE 13, where people who work in American establishment institutions are capable of doing their jobs. You know. Fantasy.

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Parks and Rec is great.  It *really* struggled to find its legs, but once it did, it was so great.

Devs acts like it's dark and presents itself as dark, but I don't think it ends up being dark.  I think there are hopeful moments, and I think it ends on a fairly hopeful note.

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I never watched Parks and Rec before.  I decided to go ahead and do it since it's on NetFlix.  Midway through the first season  and I keep thinking "Is this it? Is this what people were raving about?"  I'm told it gets better, and the first season on a lot of shows isn't really indicative of their run (BTVS, ST:TNG, etc).  We'll see how it goes.

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The entire first season of PARKS AND RECREATION was filmed as a pilot. Due to a delayed approval and impending air dates, Season 1 was filmed in entirety before it aired, before the people working on the show had a chance to show it to anybody else. Also, Season 1 was written without a clear sense of who the characters are; the creators hired some top shelf comedians and then threw them in front of the camera and asked them to improvise various scenarios.

Usually, shows film a pilot and then there's some retooling before the rest of the series is filmed. That didn't happen with PARKS AND RECREATION, so there was no adjusting the scripts to suit the actors until between Seasons 1 and 2.

The creators realized that Leslie Knope in Season 1 came off as ineffectual and deluding herself into thinking her job was meaningful or that she was good at it. They adjusted the characterization so that Leslie was aware of how hopeless her goals could be but remained determined to punch away at them with enthusiasm and optimism and even when she lost, her efforts were touching.

They altered Ron's character so that instead of being a corporate Republican who thought big business should take over everything, he was instead a Libertarian who believed that everyone should be capable of hunting and growing their own food and building their own log cabins as the actor was a capable handyman survivalist. This made the character more sympathetic than his Season 1 incarnation.

They altered Andy's character to be less of a user and more of an inept buffoon unaware of his behaviour because they liked the actor and wanted him to stay on the show as a regular and couldn't have him be malicious if he were to stick around. They left Tom the same opportunist fool, but had all the surrounding characters tell him off. They left Ann about the same except her discomfort with Leslie was removed to make them truly sisters. And once the writers knew who the characters were, the show worked beautifully and Season 2 is really when it starts.

They couldn't figure out what to do with Mark, so the character was phased out by the end of Season 2.

The show was quite heavily retooled and Season 1 is an awkward OFFICE-clone whereas Season 2 has a very clear sense of identity as a loving satire on government dysfunction akin to SLIDERS' first season of social commentary.

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One of my favourite anecdotes about Jerry O'Connell is talking about how during SLIDERS, he became convinced that his good looks would allow him to coast to movie stardom and that SLIDERS fans were really Jerry O'Connell fans. Then, after the misfires that were his films MISSION TO MARS and TOMCATS, he signed on for a buddy comedy called DOWN UNDER and was nearly fired off the film for absurd weight gain due to endless binge drinking and late night pizzas. The supposed heartthrob had become a bloated mess and while he got back in shape to keep his job on DOWN UNDER, the film was ultimately reshot to refocus on a CG kangaroo and Jerry's last bid at stardom had him playing second banana to a digital marsupial.

However, there's an interesting actor with an inversion of Jerry's tale -- Chris Pratt. Pratt played a buff, toned football player type on EVERWOOD. His next significant role was on PARKS AND RECREATION where he was playing the dim-witted, absent-minded layabout Andy Dwyer. For whatever reason, Pratt at this point in his life was slightly overweight and he decided to intentionally stop working out and balloon in order to match his role. The rotund Pratt played the silly, absurd Andy for five seasons, his body expanding with each season and the awkward, clumsy physicality being absolutely hilarious and perfect for the role. This was a character who deliberately kept himself immobilized by leg casts for as long as possible because he enjoyed being waited on by his girlfriend, after all.

In Season 6, however, Andy was suddenly trim, lean and looked athletic although his clothes were slightly oversized as if to conceal his figure. Andy being significantly in shape did coincide with this hapless oaf finding gainful employment and finding more outlets for his energy than lounging and eating junk food, but he looked like a Marvel superhero actor. Characters asked him why he suddenly looked so different and Andy said he had lost fifty pounds due to no longer drinking beer.

In reality, actor Chris Pratt had gotten into shape to play Star Lord in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Pratt refused to leave PARKS AND RECREATION, however, declaring that despite many movie offers and being a secondary, supporting character on the TV show, he adored working with the other actors on the show and would not leave PARKS AND RECREATION; he didn't want to let down the fans by jumping ship or forcing his talentless brother into a lead role or performing episodes hungover. All he asked for was a few brief absences here and there to film GUARDIANS movies. And ultimately, Pratt didn’t view his vanity as his craft. Pratt embraced whichever character he was playing and let the character determine the physicality.

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ireactions, did you see the Community table read they did yesterday.  Really funny stuff.

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I didn't see it; I recently rewatched the entire series with audio commentary and could use a break from it.

No. That's a lie. I am avoiding the show and its creator right now due to an extremely embarrassing and painful interaction for which I accept full responsibility. Something really strange happened last year. I found a bunch of comments posted on various TV review sites that appeared to be the showrunner commenting on the season during which he was absent from the show, commenting on how his temporary replacements were respectful but overly imitative instead of being themselves.

I assembled these posts into a Google Doc and posted them in a bunch of discussion forums thinking them legitimate. The posting dates were before the creator's return season had aired. They indicated story ideas that were ultimately present in those future episodes.

The posts also included a number of references to a female employee to whom the creator later issued a public apology for his harassing behaviour -- and they had been posted before this public apology had been released. For these reasons, I thought them genuine -- except the creator then responded to say that they were fake. That he hadn't written them. And that he was extremely upset because the references to this employee whom he'd harassed would call further attention to her and force her to revisit his behaviour when she likely wanted to move on.

However, because of my penchant for pastiche and the fact that SLIDERS REBORN was initially declared as attempting to duplicate his style for SLIDERS, I was briefly accused of fabricating these posts -- until someone else kindly noted that the posts were dated in the comments system as written three years before the creator had confessed to his sexual harassment, something an imitative fan would not have known about or been able to copy. And the dates couldn't have been faked.

Whoever wrote these posts was likely an acquaintance or employee who had been aware of the creator's actions.

The showrunner was gracious enough to accept my apology.

I felt really bad about this and deleted everything and then went through my own writing which had jokingly been a bit of a pastiche of his style and followed the SLIDERS fanfic tradition of writing fake interviews and fake reviews from the parallel Earth where the fanfic was actually filmed. I removed all references to this creator, swapping in Geoff Johns (ARROWVERSE producer, writer of many fan service oriented superhero comics like GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH, THE FLASH REBIRTH, DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH) instead.

I'm really ashamed of my behaviour because I know Temporal Flux and Transmodiar would have made sure to verify authorship before posting those collated comments and would have been careful with comments that might be upsetting, much in the same way TF was cautious with specific details of John Rhys-Davies and David Peckinpah's personal lives during the period when candor could have been damaging in 1997. And the way Transmodiar accommodated actors' requests to revise off-the-cuff interview remarks that could have harmed careers in 2000.

They taught me better. I failed to live up to their examples.

To this day, it makes me really uncomfortable and I am trying to leave the creator alone. I should have asked him if he wrote those posts before posting them as his. I really didn't want to talk about this, but if I can't confess to Slider_Quinn21, who can I talk to, really?

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ireactions wrote:

I'm really ashamed of my behaviour because I know Temporal Flux and Transmodiar would have made sure to verify authorship before posting those collated comments and would have been careful with comments that might be upsetting, much in the same way TF was cautious with specific details of John Rhys-Davies and David Peckinpah's personal lives during the period when candor could have been damaging in 1997. And the way Transmodiar accommodated actors' requests to revise off-the-cuff interview remarks that could have harmed careers in 2000.

I'm the guy who wrote a political column for years trumpeting every kind of conspiracy imaginable. I also was and am a fan of 60IF (look it up). While I'm a journalist at heart, I absolutely would not have given two shits about the veracity of a bunch of Internet comments and their authorship. In fact, you bringing it up makes me want to read your analysis again. And, frankly, I want to see the exchange between you and Harmon about this. Where is it?


Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

318 (edited by ireactions 2020-05-19 20:58:34)

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

Well, I deleted every trace of the Google Doc, so that's unrecoverable, but some of the posts that I thought his are here: … iscussions They were posted in the comments to individual episode reviews and it's only for the first eight episodes. There were an additional six reviews posted under the same handle on Collider (I think) in comments that seem to have disappeared after the site was reorganized, but each time I found them, I copied them and saved them to the Google Doc that no longer exists. I thought he wrote them, he says he didn't, and I should have asked before sharing them as his.

I also ultimately deleted my comments on the subject from Reddit, but I can still look up his displeased responses to my deleted comments, so please enjoy me being rightly told off by a wronged party from whom I really had it coming:

Authorship denied! Passionately and fully denied, in what I hope is slightly easier to read prose than what I’m seeing here. I had to stop at the phrase “dilapidated boyfriend,” which, while technically an accurate description of my likeness, is a totally inaccurate likeness of my descriptions. My style is so much more graceful. I’m a long, deep, nourishing river of words. Okay sometimes a babbling stream of nonsense and in rare events a crushing flood of alcoholic bile but always flowing, never this clunky ass off-brand Frasier thing everyone’s always doing when they do me.

Just say “broken down boyfriend,” got damn!

He later said:

Part of the damage that your post has caused, by presenting this crap as potentially real, is you’ve created a place for people to gather and play a fun game of what if [ I ] said these things, and, forgetting for a moment that the question is offensive to me personally for a variety of reasons I won’t bother explaining, let’s think about the female coworker that the impersonator(s) are apparently saying gross things about, which are then being pasted and joked about and discussed so that more gross things can be said, all tagged with her searchable name. I can accept that you people basically don’t see me as human because I was socialized by the same class system and I also have the same perverse relationship with “fame,” like, famous people with feelings should have their fame revoked so I can have it, or they should stop having feelings because they already get to fly and walk through walls. I get it. But this coworker is not a person that asked to be famous, not in this context. This is a person that most of you people are fond of pretending to see as human. You also continue to drag her name across the sticky floor of the Fan Fic Convention [in my name], which I imagine is close to her worst nightmare.

This isn’t about expunging the internet of garbage. The internet is garbage. This is about altering our relationship with garbage. What I think would really help is for you to edit the misleading post again, but this time add a full apology to the subreddit. To the people in the thread that were telling you it was fiction. They were being considerate and logical, you responded defensively and illogically.

An apology that works has three parts: acknowledgment of the offense, expression of remorse, commitment to change.

If you can’t muster it - and don’t feel guilty if you can’t, I have very little faith in people and I’m not betting my self esteem that this is the day you become a butterfly - I would like you to admit, at the very least to yourself, that you do not have any respect for me, that I am not a living human to you, that I am more symbolic than I am alive and that you therefore don’t care if I live or die, let alone if I’m happy.

Obviously you don’t have to do anything. I’m telling you what you may want to do.

I apologized. After a period of time, however, I wiped out all my posts on the subject because I didn't want to carry it with me anymore. So I can't look that up, but I do have his response:

Thank you for adding the apology! I totally forgive you and I have no ill will toward you. You didn’t have to do it but you did, and that gives it all the right context and more than makes up for the apology’s subtle reference to the question mark and its over the top tone clearly prompting readers to see you as an underdog. You know what? You are an underdog. You earned it. It’s exactly what I would have done when I was your age (you better be 14 or at least Canadian 20). I support a society where apologies are allowed to be a little bit weaponized because I want them to be abundant and if we require them to be purely healthy I think the FDA has to make them illegal.

I’m also not offended by people that pretend to be me online because when you want to be someone that much, you probably don’t want to hurt them. I’m assuming you want to kill them instantly in a way that doesn’t damage the skin so you can wear it longer before moving on to Noah Hawley. I’m not flattering myself, I’m just backdating, this person would have been active before season two of Fargo.

It was refreshing to see so many people convinced that this is what it would look like if I blogged about season 4 of Community. For one thing, the fact that you think this is how I write when I care about something confirms that I pretty much never had to stay at work past 3pm.

More importantly, you guys believing that I would do this suggests that you think I’m a completely different kind of asshole than I am. I watched season 4 once after getting hired on S5. I drank a fifth of vodka because I felt like a Civil War soldier preparing for surgery. I remember muppets and at least one Brolin. Then, as a you may have forgotten, I went to my podcast, compared the experience to watching my family being [let’s say macro aggressed] on a beach and the response made me quit reddit for the sake of any fans that still wanted to watch. So, holy shit, yes, by all means, imagine me as a guy that kept notes on the muppet episode, it’s certainly a psychological promotion. Had I actually typed anything while watching, it would have been jumbled letters and a rant about how Obama should have stepped in when I got fired. I would have probably said something like, “writing TV was my last recourse to affection from a planet of indecipherable monsters. They stopped licking my self inflicted wounds after they grew infected and they now resent me even more than if I’d just stayed in Milwaukee and kept washing their dishes wrong.” I would have expressed Japanese Animated levels of disturbing and disturbed human feelings that never should have been attached to a TV show.

Fortunately, for everyone, I did not do any blogging or commenting back then. And I got better. Not so good that I can stay on reddit without imploding but good enough that I don’t always need to labor over endings bye I love you

I'm sorry -- because I let you all down. I acted at my most thoughtless instead of emulating the best of Temporal Flux and Transmodiar and Slider_Quinn21 and Grizzlor and SlideOverride and RussianCabbieLotteryFan and pilight.

And so, I had to keep my distance and for myself as well. This whole exchange terrified me. I never wanted to talk about it. But I didn't think Slider_Quinn21 would believe me if I said I needed to take a break from a show I've praised and copied so relentlessly, so I decided to explain myself if only to confess my failings to my friends and pledge to do better.

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I think that's fair.  No worries.

But when you feel better with it, the table read was really well done.  It was nice to see the cast interact with each other and crack up.  Pedro Pascal was very fun.

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ireactions wrote:

Well, I deleted every trace of the Google Doc, so that's unrecoverable, but some of the posts that I thought his are here: … iscussions They were posted in the comments to individual episode reviews and it's only for the first eight episodes. There were an additional six reviews posted under the same handle on Collider (I think) in comments that seem to have disappeared after the site was reorganized, but each time I found them, I copied them and saved them to the Google Doc that no longer exists. I thought he wrote them, he says he didn't, and I should have asked before sharing them as his.

I'm sorry -- because I let you all down. I acted at my most thoughtless instead of emulating the best of Temporal Flux and Transmodiar and Slider_Quinn21 and Grizzlor and SlideOverride and RussianCabbieLotteryFan and pilight.

And so, I had to keep my distance and for myself as well. This whole exchange terrified me. I never wanted to talk about it. But I didn't think Slider_Quinn21 would believe me if I said I needed to take a break from a show I've praised and copied so relentlessly, so I decided to explain myself if only to confess my failings to my friends and pledge to do better.

Dan Harmon is a goddamn lunatic who won't be satisfied until every person in his life and every character he creates is an empty husk devoid of joy. Don't bother yourself over whether or not you hurt his feelings with your investigations; regardless of whether or not he wrote those reviews he still stalked and harassed Megan Ganz for years, and he's not a good example of what it means to be human.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

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I really appreciate you saying this. And it makes me feel better. However. We can't waive our personal standards of conducting ourselves with consideration and respect for people even if some of those people are creepy, unpleasant, rude, deceitful, homophobic, transphobic, racist. We still have to acknowledge that Informant is an excellent writer of fiction.

And with regards to this other party -- I have to be grateful to him because, well, he helped me save my memories of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo. His writing was a model I was able to apply to my fictional friends. You asked me in the pre-embryonic stage of my project, "What are you trying to accomplish?" And I wanted a jokey, bantery college reunion with my old friends and followed this person's writing model by applying it to SLIDERS and it worked.

He has my thanks and he should have also had the immediate option of saying he didn't actually write whatever comments were posted under a theatre school nickname he used use which included references to female employees he would admit to sexually harassing three years after the comments were originally posted.

(I'm not implying that he actually wrote these comments and decided to lie about it afterwards; surely someone as willfully confessional as he would have admitted to it. Likely, it was a Season 4 writer engaged in a thought experiment to criticize their own work.)

I mean, Diesel Mickey Dolenz granted your wish to have your past set aside from the Hall of Fame archives. We can't have one standard for volatile and antagonistic people and another standard for Transmodiar and Temporal Flux and Sarah_Slider and Grizzlor and pilight and JWSlider3 and SlideOverride and Slider_Quinn21 and Brand_S and Recall317 and Darren Mooney and other people I like.

I confess that I am deeply unconcerned with the feelings of a power mad stalker, but I don't excuse my own behaviour as it is a reflection on myself and those who choose to associate with me. I am responsible for myself and will use that shame to ensure never instigating such conflicts again. And also, I've moved on -- I've found a new TV show that will sit next to SLIDERS in my heart now.

(It's PARKS AND RECREATION, a show about nice people trying to do nice things under impossible circumstances.)

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I finished the fourth and final season of 13 REASONS WHY.

It's finally over.

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you are a executive for syfy.  what do you do? … e-network/

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RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

you are a executive for syfy.  what do you do? … e-network/

Reboot Sliders as a reality show.  Using a candid-camera format, let everyday people wander into elaborately redressed city blocks populated with actors presenting a current day result from alternate history.  How would the everyday person react?

Wait - I thought this was an audition to be a SyFy exec, and we had to think like they do.

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And so it begins: … 202962093/

In other news, the imaginary show used for testing has gotten a series order because it is the only pilot filmed this year.

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TemporalFlux wrote:

Just watched the premiere episode of a new NBC show, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”:

I really enjoyed it.  It’s not anything ground breaking - just a quirky female lead in kind of a mash-up between Eli Stone and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  It’s also set in San Francisco and even had a passing joke about parallel realities.  But I think what really hooked me in was her family.  For the past four years, I lived that with my father; and it just really caught me off guard seeing that all of a sudden in this crazy little show.  They’ve got a fan in me.

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

I like it too!  Which was surprising since there were some reviews a couple of weeks ago (I believe they gave some press the first few episodes) and it was really panned.  But the pilot certainly was enjoyable imo.

Renewed for Season 2! … eason-two/

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This past weekend, four old friends from the 90s who faded into non-existence in 2000 were restored and reborn with a new beginning and a new destiny before them. Yes, that's right: Netflix released a 10 episode reboot of THE BABYSITTERS CLUB. My sister and I loved these children's novels when we were kids in the 80s and 90s, thrilling to the adventures of four 12 year olds taking on the challenge of babysitting facing down disgruntled toddlers, hostile pets, abrasive neighbours, exploitative labour practices, diabetes, ghostwriters taking over the writing as the original author took over outlines and editing, spin-off upon spin-off upon spin-off.

I have fond memories of Kristy's bossiness and sense of vision, Dawn's environmental activism and vegetarianism, reading the books at recess, being mocked for reading girls' books at recess, having Dawn's debut book ripped in half by my scamp of a classmate Vishnu and me playfully putting thumbtacks in Vishnu's boots, me good-naturedly burning Vishnu's winter coat, me mischievously smashing Vishnu's bicycle with my grandfather's axe and me carefully removing all the screws from his glasses while he was swimming.

I may have had some childhood rage issues. Anyway! THE BABYSITTERS CLUB was basically a factory, pumping out 3 - 5 books a month from 1986 to 2000 in a recursive timeline where the kids had summer vacation after summer vacation but never seemed to get out of Grade 8. Everyone learned but nobody ever seemed to get all that much more mature. I loved the reassuring repetition and low stakes of THE BABYSITTERS CLUB, but I confess, around book #90 or so, it occurred to me that none of the girls had ever gotten their periods which made no sense to me as I grew up in an all-female environment.

The books were also written by middle and upper class Caucasians who were inclusive but had no cultural or social context to write minorities or truly address serious social justice issues. The values of the books -- friendship, teamwork, sharing, earning your way through life, caring for others -- they were well-considered and appropriate, but they were never challenged or tested. It was comfort food for kids and at this point hopelessly dated as they were written in an analog era without smartphones or social media. All the ghostwriters did a nice job of capturing the simple charm and pleasures of the first 13 novels written by Ann M. Martin, but there came a point when the sheer volume of the series was vastly overstretching the content through repetitive formula and a cyclical timeline. The original 13 novels are really all there is; the rest is just reruns and (barely) variations.

The Netflix reboot captures all the strengths of THE BABYSITTERS CLUB while addressing and repairing all of the weaknesses. The kids live in 2020 and have to face down social media; there's a new inclusivity for some of the originally Caucasian characters. I loved Dawn Schafer as a blonde vegetarian surfer from California, but there are plenty of blonde Caucasians on TV and we don't need another; it's wonderful to see Dawn reimagined as Latina and the geeky Mary Anne as biracial. Transgenderism and gay parents are introduced casually and socioeconomic class differences are shown with frustrated outrage. At 10 episodes, the show doesn't overstay its welcome. Everything that was strong and meaningful about THE BABYSITTERS CLUB is present, everything that is dated or shortsighted has been broadened with diversity.

What's also terrific: THE BABYSITTERS CLUB does not fundamentally alter the concept. I was expecting that a BSC reboot would have the kids as secret spies and assassins uncovering the terrible conspiracy behind the town with Kristy going on the run for murder, Mary Anne joining a biker gang, Claudia joining the FBI, Stacey having an affair with a teacher, the Babysitters Club guarding their charges with tasers and sniper rifles and all the parents being serial killers and sociopaths. Instead, the Netflix reboot leaves the characterizations and the family friendly appeal of the series intact, and tries to make its merits as strong in 2020 as they were in 1986, but also makes sure that girls get their periods in this reboot.

I hope someone will revive SLIDERS someday and let SLIDERS have its period as well.

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Twilight Zone Season 2 has some good stuff.  Been very impressed.

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RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Twilight Zone Season 2 has some good stuff.  Been very impressed.

Did you like season one?

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Grizzlor? What's Nicole Eggert like? I have always wondered.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

WYNONNA EARP, a show that airs on Syfy in America, was renewed for a fourth season. But the studio, IDW, had financial issues and couldn't fund a fourth season. After over a year, Syfy offered additional funding to IDW to see a fourth season happen. By this time, however, all the cast contracts had expired. The lead actress and her supporting cast were under no obligation to sign new contracts and return to the show if they didn't want to return.

At this point, lead actress Melanie Scrofano declared that she would not return to the show unless the studio promoted her to executive producer and hired her brother to a regular role on the series. No, I'm kidding; all the actors signed back onto the series and Season 4 finally began airing two years after the Season 3 finale. The actors cared about the show and the fans so much that they were happy to return.


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A bit random here, but a kind of interesting twist of history.  Amazon is buying up Malls that have become ghost towns. They are refitting them into distribution centers: … 1596992863

So the place you once went to find everything retail will become the place that can send you everything retail.  Malls will have surprisingly evolved.

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One of my favourite TV shows is the sleeper hit BLINDSPOT. Like every TV show I recommend, BLINDSPOT is about a troubled woman fighting crime for a secret federal branch (also the plot of THE BLACKLIST, FRINGE, AGENTS OF SHIELD, WYNONNA EARP). BLINDSPOT is a procedural about a mysterious, amnesiac woman (Jaimie Alexander who played Sif in THOR) who awakens in Times Square naked and covered in tattoos -- each of which provides a vital clue to a government crime and cover-up. Joining an FBI task force, the amnesiac woman takes on the name Jane and with her new friends, seeks to uncover the truth behind her memory loss, the individual crime connected to each tattoo, the creator of these tattoos and her true identity.

The main appeal of BLINDSPOT, at least for me, was Jaimie Alexander's performance. Her Jane Doe is astonished to discover that she has the combat skills of a Marine and Alexander and her stunt team presented Jane as a physically unstoppable force with an innocently gentle spirit contrasted in battle with the instinctive ferocity of a wild animal. Jane's fight scenes were a thrill with a regular sequence of improvised acrobatics for Jane to trounce roomfuls of villains using her surroundings and tolerance for pain.

The show is extremely well-done with a carefully considered mythology that is revealed over two seasons and comes to a climax and conclusion in Season 2. Seasons 3 - 4 deal with the aftermath and a new threat and reinvented the show while keeping the same formula and also lightened the show's paranoid, conspiracy minded tone to a slightly more comedic approach with the friendship of Jane's FBI team. The show featured astonishing action sequences and lavish location filming throughout New York City and overseas.

Never a huge hit, BLINDSPOT survived thanks to Greg Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. lowering the license fee to NBC, strong overseas sales, extremely positive press and ratings and a budget that went down every year to make its ad revenue enough for NBC to keep ordering it.

With Season 5, NBC and the studio agreed to a short 11 episode season to bring the show to a solid 100 episodes with a conclusion -- but this renewal came at a price. Season 5's premiere opens with one of the cast members suddenly killed off in a brief appearance with series creator Martin Gero confessing that the budget cuts for this final year had caused them to lose a cast member (although the actor returned for flashbacks in two subsequent episodes).

The budget also meant that the majority of the season had Jane and her friends confined to a bunker and when they ventured away from it, they were exploring empty warehouses or back alley streets with few extras. While the season had the team in hiding as fugitives and called for the confined locations, the budget also showed in that most of the season came and went with Jane showing off her fighting skills in only a brief fight scene. Showrunner Gero acknowledged that Jane's fights were a large part of the show, but with less money than ever, he had been forced to move away from that.

There were entire episodes confined to the bunker and one another interior set, very much like Season 5 of SLIDERS in the Chandler. The confined surroundings also meant the characters were interacting more than ever and their voices and relationships came through well as they worked through some of the darkest circumstances of the series. The voice of the show was present, but it was frustrating to see my favourite thing about BLINDSPOT -- Jane's physicality through Jaimie Alexander -- absent except for short bursts of athleticism. In fact, Season 5 folded Jane into the ensemble and presented BLINDSPOT as a team show instead of Jaimie Alexander's show -- something I think few viewers would protest as all the characters were splendid. Still, it bothered me.

But then episode 11, the finale, aired and it was astonishing. In this Jane-centric story, nearly every prominent guest-star from the previous 99 episodes returned for featured roles or cameos. There was extensive location filming on the streets of New York City and the climax was set on location in Times Square. Crowd scenes, pyrotechnics, and an incredible final action sequence for Jane where in a single shot, she defeats six heavily armed henchmen. It was apparently shot over three months and all the cut corners of the previous 10 episodes had led to the massive expense of the series finale.

BLINDSPOT's fifth season wasn't ideal, but its sacrifices early on ensured that its finale reflected all the strengths of its first four seasons. There's something about a strong landing that can alleviate the discomfort of a shaky takeoff.

335 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2020-10-10 07:45:04)

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

There's a new show on FOX called NEXT.  Mini-series I think.

It involves AI gone amuck.  First episode came out Oct 3.   Speculative sci-fi.  From Manny Coto.  It's worth checking out if the concept appeals to you.

Nothing ground-breaking but i enjoyed it.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

It seemed to me like an updated version of Enemy of the State based on the promos.  With Slattery as the Hackman character.

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What did SliderQuinn21 think of the final season of HOUSE OF CARDS?

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ireactions wrote:

What did SliderQuinn21 think of the final season of HOUSE OF CARDS?

I never finished season 2.  Frank bothered me too much, and when I found myself rooting for the evil businessman in season 2, I cut bait and never looked back.  I very rarely quit shows, and House of Cards is probably the biggest and most prominent example of that.  I always said I'd go back and watch when the show ends so I can see Frank get his comeuppance but then Kevin Spacey went and ruined that too.  So I think I read what happened and never gave it another thought.

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Ah, I see. I've never seen any of it. But I wondered what you would have made of trying to wrap up a show with the abrupt absence of the lead actor. A bit of a Quinn-in-Season-5 situation.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

This is it, right here: … 1499532288

It belongs in a museum!

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

ireactions wrote:

Ah, I see. I've never seen any of it. But I wondered what you would have made of trying to wrap up a show with the abrupt absence of the lead actor. A bit of a Quinn-in-Season-5 situation.

Yeah, its a good question.  Unfortunately, you asked about one of the few shows I walked away from permanently.

It's funny.  I can stick with just about anything, but there has to be a reason to stick around.  I'm going to spoil what I've seen of House of Cards so stop reading if you care, but the show is centered around Frank and his wife.  They're modeled after the Clintons (red flag one) as charismatic southern Democrats who lust for more power.  She's using him to get power.  He's using her to get power.  It's the Clintons.

The first season has Frank being investigated by a female reporter.  I forget exactly what he's being investigated for at first, but she's on his tail.  And even though I hated Frank, I could root for him to be taken down.  As Frank gains power, she's hot on his tail.  There's some cat and mouse.  It was fine.  Then, early in season two, he murders her.  I'm sure it was supposed to be shocking in a Game of Thrones way, but she was my reason for watching.  Her investigation was picked up by some guy but he wasn't as fun as her and it didn't work the same.  Instead of him, the foil in season two is some billionaire who is using Frank to make money or something.  And since I hate Frank, and I have to "root" for someone, I started hoping that the billionaire could take Frank down.  But it's only season 2 and House of Cards is popular and of course the billionaire got his by the end of season two and Frank has killed anyone interesting and the new reporter still isn't interesting and now Frank's going to be president or something and it was just too much. 

I can watch a show with an evil protagonist.  I watched Breaking Bad and Sopranos and stuff like the Wire and recently Oz.  But while I never liked Walter White on Breaking Bad (even at the beginning, I could tell he was a narcissist who wasn't doing things for his family), I had Jessie Pinkman as an everyman who got in over his head.  While Walter reveled in the evil, you could always tell that Jessie never really liked the evil stuff (and maybe wasn't smart enough to fully comprehend the evilness of selling drugs in the first place).  If Jessie had died in season one as was the original plan, I might not have enjoyed it as much.

I do this with sports too.  I have my teams that I love.  But the sport itself isn't interesting to me.  I will watch hours of my team, but if my team isn't playing, I can't watch.  I haven't watched the Super Bowl in years because my team wasn't playing in it.  If I don't have someone to root for, I can't watch.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

I personally won't watch shows with evil protagonists or even incompetent ones.

SMALLVILLE was a show I gave up on in Season 2 because Clark Kent was so fundamentally unheroic in his ineptitude, allowing what seemed like three-quarters of his student body to be killed at a rate of four or five murders a week with no effort to warn anyone about the meteor rock mutants and their psychosis. I only came back with Season 8 because Clark (and the writers) got their act together on that. TORCHWOOD (at least in its first season) was another show where the characters were completely incompetent in handling alien threats, attacking each other while civilians died.

It can be a delicate balance: you can't have a perfect protagonist who never screws up, but SMALLVILLE and TORCHWOOD went to the extreme the world would actually have been better off if the lead characters did nothing because their involvement only continued to cover up a crisis that they couldn't seem to manage.

I was slightly on the fence with SUPERNATURAL where Sam and Dean unleashed demonic forces on Earth at the end of Season 2 by accident, but Season 3 showed them urgently trying to set this right and accepting full responsibility.

Everyone loves the movie SPIDER-MAN 2 (Sam Raimi), but I really dislike it and my primary objection to it is that Peter Parker is incompetent. Despite his webslinging prowess, he can't deliver pizzas on time. Despite being a photographer, he can't remember to take the lens cap off his camera. Despite his powers repeatedly giving out on him, he keeps trying to websling with no effort to figure out what the problem is first. It's hard to cheer on a hero who makes obvious blunders and then repeats them and doesn't do anything to alleviate them.

But I have patience for other kinds of mistakes -- like Peter in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN foolishly using a camera with his name on it in the field as Spider-Man. It's his first movie and he's a kid. Or pretty much every character's asinine choices in every episode of GIRL MEETS WORLD because they are children. And all the characters on THE ORVILLE where characters mess up because nobody can be all perfect all the time and will make mistakes because they are tired, unhappy, distracted, etc., but not because they are bad at their jobs.

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I just watched WORK IT, a truly visionary film on Netflix. It features teen idol Sabrina Carpenter playing a high school student trying to start a dance troupe despite having no dancing ability whatsoever. It is a moderately charming teen dramedy that follows the formula of any sports film with an underdog learning a new skill for a competition. It's adequate and serviceable if you like this sort of thing. It's fine. But the really important thing about this film is that Sabrina Carpenter's character is a scientific minded, calculating, systematic thinker and problem solver whose name is Quinn.

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Joss Whedon’s feminist reputation was on its deathbed after his ex-wife revealed his affairs. Now his reputation is done as Charisma Carpenter has revealed him to be abusive, cruel and prone to using his power as showrunner to punish women for getting pregnant and attacking their health by making them work at 1 AM. … accusation

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I am really shocked, hurt and angry that Joss Whedon fired Charisma Carpenter off ANGEL for getting pregnant. Lots of lead actresses get pregnant, take a leave of absence and then return to their shows. ANGEL should have been no different.

In addition, ANGEL worked because David Boreanaz's brooding intensity paired well with Charisma Carpenter's irreverent wackiness. Angel as a character is so grim and detached, but that characterization is only effective when contrasted with a high energy figure of lunacy like Cordelia who punctures Angel's self-importance and self-loathing.

I never believed that Whedon fired Carpenter off ANGEL for multiple reasons: first, Whedon wasn't actively engaged with running Angel and was mostly on BUFFY and then FIREFLY and second -- I thought it would be deranged, self-destructive and self-sabotaging to remove Cordelia from the series. That's like firing John Rhys-Davies off SLIDERS, an absurd burst of suicidal vindictiveness, and I thought that whatever Whedon might be, he wasn't David Peckinpah and Alan Barnette.

I was wrong. Whedon fired Carpenter and permanently unbalanced ANGEL as a series and Angel as a character, forcing David Boreanaz to be both the solemnly dour hero and the charming wisecracker, the latter role for which he was horrifically unsuited and which had been Carpenter's. The series hemorrhaged viewers without fans of Boreanaz and Carpenter's double-act and the show was cancelled a year later. Charisma Carpenter was the heart of ANGEL and Whedon stabbed and killed his own show.

Ridiculous. I never thought I'd speak of Whedon in the same breath as David Peckinpah and Alan Barnette, but here we are.

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Has anyone caught Resident Alien on SyFy?  Finally they have an original show that really works.

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I'll watch it if and only if you -- specifically you -- let me know whether or not it gets cancelled on a cliffhanger. You understand!


Syfy has sort of cancelled WYNONNA EARP. They originally renewed it for Seasons 4 - 5, but Season 4 was stalled due to studio financing issues. Syfy eventually offered additional funding for Season 4, but by that time, all the contracts had expired, much like SLIDERS in Season 5. The entire cast and creative team re-signed for the delayed Season 4 and nobody forced their brother into the show or demanded to be promoted from actor to executive producer or anything -- but this meant that Syfy was no longer obligated to air Season 5 (or fund it). Due to COVID and pandemic delays, Syfy has decided not to renew their funding for Season 5. Season 4 is conceivably the end of the show unless some other broadcaster offers to make up the funding shortfall. It could be the end. It probably is the end. There's a faint chance that due to the massive popularity of WYNONNA EARP that it isn't the end, but it's hardly certain.

Naturally, WYNONNA EARP's showrunners decided to force the show to end on a cliffhanger with the lead character's fate unknown knowing full well that no resolution will come just to make trouble for their broadcaster and to see if the broadcaster might pay more attention to them if they do something so ridiculous.

No, of course not. They've just filmed an ending that can serve as a series finale but can allow for a Season 5 if funding works out.

348 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-05-18 10:32:20)

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Pretty cool to see the  love … cifi-shows

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I've been half-watching MACGYVER (the reboot) while doing data entry. Like SLIDERS, it features a young genius (with interesting hair) improvising gadgets and solutions, using everyday objects to escape bad situations. And also like SLIDERS, it had a self-destructive, self-sabotaging showrunner who was super-talented but couldn't get out of his own way.

MACGYVER has its own David Peckinpah; his name is Peter Lenkov. He was MACGYVER's showrunner until the cast of MACGYVER got him fired and blacklisted from the industry.

Interestingly, MACGYVER started without Lenkov, but after the original pilot was rejected by CBS, Lenkov was hired to get it to air. He had a reputation for getting TV made on time and underbudget and meeting network dictates. Lenkov reworked the show significantly under CBS mandates.

While I don't have a clear picture of what Lenkov was asked to change, it looks like the unaired pilot's 'regular' cast were mostly Caucasian. Lenkov changed this. He hired a black & native American woman to play Riley the computer expert. He hired a black man to be Bozer the comic relief, but later upgraded Bozer to be the team's engineer. An Asian woman was MacGyver's boss for the first run of episodes; MacGyver's next boss was a woman with dwarfism and she was a force to be reckoned with.

And in terms of the scripts... they start out awkward and get better as Lenkov gets further into the show. The original pilot gave MacGyver a backstory where he'd been held captive by terrorists for five years and his quirks and aversion to guns and obsession with do-it-yourself engineering with everyday objects as the product of his trauma. CBS rejected all this, so Lenkov was forced to present MacGyver with no real backstory for most of Season 1.

MacGyver is a United States spy who for some reason doesn't carry firearms but has a partner who shoots all the people MacGyver can't defeat in hand to hand combat -- not due to any in-story rationale, simply because MacGyver in the original series didn't use guns. MacGyver is a spy who wanders into espionage situations with no equipment, constantly improvising smoke bombs and flash grenades and what-not -- not because it makes sense for MacGyver not to carry these things in advance, but simply because MacGyver in the original series didn't carry any equipment beyond a paper clip and a Swiss Army knife.

In the 1980s, this made sense a degree of sense with MacGyver improvising technology that would be heavy and difficult to transport. In 2015, with technology being increasingly miniaturized and consolidated into multipurpose tools, MacGyver's DIY hacks seem like a convoluted liability.

And without any backstory, there is simply no explanation for why MacGyver works like this or why any spy agency would tolerate such an unprepared agent -- or why MacGyver, despite his aversion to guns, works with Jack who who solves any and all problems with guns.

Eventually, the series under Lenkov staggers into some sense: MacGyver's specialty is defusing bombs and weapons of mass destruction. MacGyver was a bomb disposal genius in Iraq who would take crazy risks and Jack was assigned to keep him alive, a partnership that took them into the world of black-ops espionage, a partnership that is regarded with alarm and terror by their superiors -- and it's a backstory that's presented with warmth and self-awareness.

Lenkov is clearly aware of the problems here and trying to alleviate them. If one continues to watch MACGYVER, one eventually accepts that MacGyver's ludicrous employment and methods are simply what they are and can only be questioned so much.

As a writer, Peter Lenkov seems incredibly capable of making a good show out of a bad situation. His hiring is progressive and thoughtful, and he writes well for the TV format, crafting adventures that are succinct, pleasant, economical and enjoyable. He finds a way to justify the absurdities that he's tasked to produce. He isn't a visionary, but he has a good sense of humour and pacing and can create viewer satisfaction. He isn't Tracy Torme or Marc Scott Zicree, but he's certainly Tony Blake and Paul Jackson: he is a professional writer who produces professional writing.

However, Seasons 1 - 3 under Lenkov seem to have a serious problem in worker retention.

Season 1 sets up Nikki Carpenter, MacGyver's rival and ex-girlfriend (Tracy Spiridakos), having her appear in three episodes -- only for Spiridakos to never return to the series again.

Season 1 has Sandrine Holt as MacGyver's stern, long-suffering boss, presented as a stalwart and loyal employer and ally -- until episode 12 when she's abruptly exposed as a traitor to the spy agency and imprisoned. The character never voices an explanation for her betrayals; no previous episodes had any hints of her disloyalty; the characters speculate as to why, but the actress vanishes from the show without further elaboration, and a later episode has the character menacing our cast from off camera. Sandrine Holt's sudden removal from the series is bizarre.

Season 2 introduces a new spy character, Samantha Cage (Isabel Lucas), an extremely professional spy who is alarmed by MacGyver's haphazardness. Cage and MacGyver have an incredible chemistry that is crisply professional but with such mutual respect that romantic sparks start to fly even if unspoken. Twelve episodes in, Cage is shot in the stomach. She is said to be recovering off camera in the next episode; then the show plays a pre-recorded video of Cage saying she's undergoing physical therapy overseas and the character never appears again.

Season 2 introduces a new girlfriend for Bozer -- the character of Leanna (Reign Edwards) who appears sporadically throughout Season 3 and vanishes with a line of exposition about having a job elsewhere. Season 3 inexplicably writes out Jack, the second lead of the show and MacGyver's bodyguard with actor George Eads reportedly storming off the set and refusing to film anything more until he was released from his six year contract.

MACGYVER seemed to have serious trouble holding onto cast members, often dispatching characters suddenly and seemingly arbitrarily with no explanation from the actors or production and no resolution to their storylines.

The problem turned out to be Peter Lenkov whom MACGYVER star Lucas Till reported to CBS -- repeatedly -- for shockingly abusive behaviour. Lenkov would demean and verbally assail female crew members, screaming at them for hours in person and over the phone. Lenkov created a hostile onset environment, constantly mocking Lucas Till for being ugly. I defy anyone to Google the name Lucas Till and find him to be anything other than a picture of masculine beauty.

Lenkov harassed writers and actors who were suffering from health problems, demanding that they travel when they were sick and in need of spinal surgery or chemotherapy. A MACGYVER staffer remarked to Vanity Fair, "I've never been on a show with such extreme turnover. We can't get people to stay. It's a toxic environment and it starts from the head down." I had to triple check to be sure this wasn't a quote about SLIDERS and David Peckinpah.

"Extreme turnover." This would appear to be why Sandrine Holt suddenly quit in the middle of Season 1, why Tracy Spiridakos started a recurring role but failed to recur after three episodes, why Isabel Lucas quit in the middle of Season 2, why Reign Edwards faded out in Season 3, why series regular George Eads walked off the set in Season 3, and why ongoing arcs and recurring character plots would end so suddenly and abruptly and inconclusively.

After Season 4, MACGYVER star Lucas Till's repeated complaints to CBS' HR department finally triggered an investigation. CBS fired Peter Lenkov from all his shows and a new showrunner was chosen, but MACGYVER would unfortunately not make it past Season 5 and was cancelled in 2021.

It's really frustrating: MACGYVER reflects well-intentioned and good-hearted values, but they were espoused by a man who was clearly as toxic as David Peckinpah. Annoyingly, Lenkov wasn't like Peckinpah in terms of quality: Lenkov put his A-game into scripting his show, but he was just like Peckinpah in constantly alienating the actors he needed to film his scripts.

Maybe someday, a MACGYVER re-reboot will present a version of MacGyver with some rationale for his job and methods that makes sense in the present day and be handled by a writer and producer who isn't deranged.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

In 1996, the TV show MISSION IMPOSSIBLE saw a feature film 'adaptation' released to theatres. MI had, since 1967, featured actor Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, a genius-spy, a man of impeccable morality and brilliance. The movie recast him with Jon Voight and revealed Phelps to be a murderous, greedy traitor who kills his own team aside from Ethan Hunt who blows Phelps up at the end.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996) is a cynical, paranoid, mistrusting film that declares that heroes don't exist and no one can ever be trusted. This isn't a problem for the 1996 film, but with the five sequels (with two more to come), it has become a problem.

The next five MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movies operate on the belief that the audience should always trust Ethan Hunt, a man of limitless ability and impeccable morality whose sense of right and wrong is always absolute even when he's declared a rogue operative, an enemy of the state, a traitor to his country and a fugitive of humanity.

MI tells us that Ethan's a hero, that he's on our side and that his access, skillset, risk-taking and endangerment of friends and family is always for our benefit and safety -- except the MI movie series that started with the declaration that all heroes are ultimately corrupt in the end.

MI2 - 6 make sure that characters in the MI films have reasonable and solid rationales for doubting Ethan Hunt's loyalties and tactics, but ultimately decalre that the audience should put their faith his heroism and know that he's on our side. The original TV series did the same thing with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) from 1967 to 1973 and 1988 to 1990.

Phelps was, like Ethan, a man of unknown origins and motives but whose mission was always to protect, defend and safeguard the world. Phelps became a legendary TV spy to multiple generations across three decades.

The original MI TV show was not a fountain of characterization. It was all about the mission and the conceit and the deceptions. We never got to know Leonard Nimoy or Lesley Ann Warren on these shows. But Phelps was fundamentally defined as the man the audience didn't always know but could always believe in. You could always trust and count on this mysterious genius who always came through.

Phelps was uniquely trained and highly motivated, a specialist without equal and immune to any countermeasures. There was no secret he couldn't extract, no security he couldn't breach, no person he couldn't become. Jim Phelps was the living manifestation of destiny -- and he was here to help us.

When the 1996 movie revealed Phelps to be a turncoat who'd engineered the deaths of his own team in exchange for money, it was a direction in which MI's usual lack of characterization couldn't be tolerated. Anyone born from the 50s to the 80s saw Phelps as a hero and would want reasons for his betrayal. The reasons made no sense.

Money? If Jim Phelps felt underpaid, surely he would find some other line of work for his immeasurable talents before turning to assassination and treason. Feeling unappreciated by incoming government administrations? Are we honestly to believe that Jim Phelps -- a brilliant and confident man -- couldn't find something meaningful to do?

Would we believe that Ethan Hunt could be a traitor? And if not, why should we believe that Jim Phelps is one?

How would Ethan Hunt's fans feel if MI7 revealed Ethan as a murderous traitor to his team and country?

Since 1996, MI has moved on from the first film. The IMF's recruitment and human resource policies have continued to be lacking as MI2 - 3 feature IMF agents who have turned traitor. MI5 refers to the first film's break-in at CIA HQ, MI6 makes mention of Max and notes that Ethan has only ever spent MI2 working for his own organization, but narratively, stylistically and morally, the MI series has left the first movie behind.

The series has moved so far from the 1996 film that the series is hypocritical. The sixth film flat-out declares that the audience should never lose faith in Hunt's fundamental decency and that he will exercise his secret agent training and resources for the common good -- except MI1, in making Jim Phelps a traitor, was declaring that there are no heroes and no one can ever be trusted, not even someone who'd been saving the day since the 60s.

Brian DePalma as the director of MI1 operated on paranoid suspicion (very apt for a spy drama) whereas the later directors have been nothing like that. John Woo and Stuart Baird, for MI2, chose ballet-esque battle choreography to convey stirring romanticism.

JJ Abrams, for MI3, presented a rousing caper of thrills. Brad Bird's MI4 offered a daring sense of adventure and trickery. And the Christopher McQuarrie films are fundamentally works of earnest idealism because McQuarrie is a very optimistic person (no one else would so relish filming blockbusters with unfinished scripts).

And yet, the central thesis of the MI film series -- trust Ethan Hunt -- is completely undermined by the original sin of the first movie.

I wonder if the franchise can ever fix it. Before Graves died, I wondered if Paramount might have him play Ethan's boss in one movie. Perhaps he might walk in and introduce himself as "Mission Commander Phelps." "Phelps?!" Ethan could sputter. "Phelps Sr.," Graves could say curtly -- and then change the subject to the mission, but that might raise too many questions.

Graves could even have been given a line like, "Jim Phelps Jr. was my treacherous sonofabitch stepson," but that could really break the flow of information for a scene. It might have happened as Graves reached out to JJ Abrams for MI4, but Graves died before anything could be made of a potential return.

Since Graves is gone, maybe someone could make a passing reference to "Admiral Phelps" and Ethan could react and then mutter, "Phelps Senior" to indicate that Jon Voight's Phelps in MI1 was a separate character. It's a small thing, but it could be too much even for the most fan-service oriented filmmaker.

Maybe it could be an Easter Egg where in the background, files of MI agents are flashing past and we see Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) followed by Jim Phelps Jr. (Voight).

Another idea: what if Ethan is Jim Phelps? Maybe in a future MI film, Ethan is hunted by Jim Phelps Jr., the vengeful son of Jon Voight's character. Ethan spends the movie trying to track down Jr. only to discover that Jr. isn't Jr. at all, but a former acolyte of Jim's who is furious that the real Jim Jr. never avenged his father's death and the Phelps' legacy.

And it's revealed: the real Jim Jr. is Ethan Hunt, born James Phelps Jr., put into hiding as a baby, taking a new name with an adopted family, but coincidentally entering espionage just as his father did, and with his father eventually taking him under his wing.

The ending could have Ethan declaring that he wants to redeem the name of Jim Phelps by taking it for himself. MI would be retroactively redeemed by declaring that Jon Voight was never playing Peter Graves' character in a sequel; instead, Tom Cruise has been playing Peter Graves' character in a reboot and all the MI movies have been the origin story of this new Phelps.

I don't think it'll ever happen. The driving force of these movies is Tom Cruise and while Tom Cruise has his faults, he doesn't look back and he does not fall asleep at night wondering how to make up for MI1. I don't think he was blind to its flaws; he just didn't dwell. He moved on.

Somewhat pastiched from this review: … mpossible/

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

I'm about ten volumes into Invincible.  It's all that's available to me on Comixology Unlimited with out buying more (so it's not really unlimited, Amazon).  After that, I'm going to start on the series.

I think it's a really cool universe.  I've heard it referenced a lot, and I'm glad I took the plunge.

I'm also reading the 2015 Darth Vader comics and trying to read Civil War II.  Among other things.  I'm really enjoying diving into comics.

Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

I haven't seen any of JUPITER'S LEGACY, the Netflix superhero show, but it was cancelled on a cliffhanger after one season at which point Netflix had the creator of the series, Mark Millar, express 'excitement' for how the JUPITER'S LEGACY universe was going to have a spinoff with a new series in the same universe, SUPERCROOKS, focused on supervillains instead of superheroes.

"We have cancelled our TV show on a cliffhanger, so no sensible person should invest any further emotion or interest in it. We are also doing a spinoff and can offer no reason as to why we would treat it any better than the parent show."


Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media

ireactions wrote:

I haven't seen any of JUPITER'S LEGACY, the Netflix superhero show, but it was cancelled on a cliffhanger after one season at which point Netflix had the creator of the series, Mark Millar, express 'excitement' for how the JUPITER'S LEGACY universe was going to have a spinoff with a new series in the same universe, SUPERCROOKS, focused on supervillains instead of superheroes.

"We have cancelled our TV show on a cliffhanger, so no sensible person should invest any further emotion or interest in it. We are also doing a spinoff and can offer no reason as to why we would treat it any better than the parent show."


Where did he write that?

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Sorry. Let me try that again. Over on Deadline, an article reports that there will be no Season 2 of JUPITER'S LEGACY and the cast have been released from their contracts. … 234768204/

This is despite Season 1 ending on a cliffhanger. There will be a spinoff series, SUPERCROOKS, set in the same fictional universe. Mark Millar said:

I’m really proud of what the team achieved with JUPITER'S LEGACY and the amazing work everyone did on that origin season. I’ve been asked a lot about what we’re planning next with this world, and the answer is to see what the supervillains are getting up to. I’ve always loved crime stories, from Scorsese to Tarantino, and supervillains are always the most fun part of any superhero story. To do something exclusively focused on the villains they fight just feels incredibly fresh as we explore what it’s like to be a bad guy in a world crawling with good guys who want to put you in jail.

JUPITER'S LEGACY is a vast and rich space with lots of characters to mine, and so I’m happy to share that our next step here is a live-action version of the SUPERCROOKS comic I created with Leinil Francis Yu a few years back. Given where we’re going next, we’ve made the tough call of letting our incredible cast out of their show commitment as we continue to thoughtfully develop all realms of the JUPITER'S LEGACY saga. We’re confident we’ll return to it later and just want to say thanks to you guys for your continued support and to the cast and crew who made this look so great.

And what I am hearing is: "We have cancelled our TV show on a cliffhanger, so no sensible person should invest any further emotion or interest in it. We are also doing a spinoff and can offer no reason as to why we would treat it any better than the parent show."

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One of SLIDERS' contemporaries is a TV series called DUE SOUTH (1994 - 1999). Like SLIDERS, DUE SOUTH featured an eccentric genius in action-adventure stories that plunged him into strangely alien urban environments. DUE SOUTH was also repeatedly cancelled by its network: cancelled after Season 1, cancelled after Season 2, retooled for syndication much as SLIDERS was retooled for cable, and also like SLIDERS, DUE SOUTH saw its lead actor make an effort to take over writing, producing and directing; DUE SOUTH also lost key cast members and the original creator. But unlike SLIDERS, DUE SOUTH was financially and creatively successful and had a strong run and a series finale.

Why did DUE SOUTH succeed and thrive where SLIDERS withered and died? It's because, unlike SLIDERS, DUE SOUTH had the full financial and creative support of the studio and a leading man who was obsessively committed to his show.

DUE SOUTH is about Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a wilderness police officer who goes to Chicago on the trail of his father's murderer and for reasons too complicated to explain here, he remains in Chicago, partnered with Chicago police detective Ray Vecchio and working for the Canadian consulate.

Every week, Fraser applies his knowledge of survivalism, biology, chemistry, physics and engineering to solve crimes with Vecchio being cynical, skeptical, loyal and supportive. Fraser is a genius, having absorbed a hundred lifetimes of knowledge during a childhood spent in his grandparents' library and an adulthood of isolation in the wild with little to do but read and fight crime and read. Fraser is unfailingly polite, thoughtful, oddly chaste, diplomatic, formal -- a cliched stereotype of Canadians except there are tragic and traumatic reasons for his duty-driven, sexless persona. Ray Vecchio is brusque, impulsive, rude and crude -- but he loves Fraser as a brother and sees Fraser as the living definition of human decency and also comes to know the fallible human behind the superhuman front.

CBS hated it. Showrunner and creator Paul Haggis noted that CBS constantly demanded that DUE SOUTH remove the humour of contrasting Canadians and Americans; that the comedy be removed entirely; that Fraser's traumatic history be stricken from the series -- but DUE SOUTH was filmed in Toronto, far from Los Angeles, and CBS couldn't control it. CBS was further appalled when Fraser's dead father rejoined the cast as a regular character in the form of a ghost and when the first season ended on a three parter that delved into Fraser's grief and dark side. In frustration, CBS cancelled DUE SOUTH after Season 1.

DUE SOUTH's studio rejected CBS' cancellation; Alliance Entertainment ordered a second season even though they had no American broadcaster. They began writing and filming; the show had been successful with overseas broadcasters and Alliance successfully sold the second season to UK and European channels and CBS itself ended up buying Season 2 as a mid-season replacement and financing the season. However, the show's continued survival came at a cost. Due a slight delay, DUE SOUTH lost its original creator, Paul Haggis, who had moved to another show. But DUE SOUTH continued and maintained its tone; Haggis had trained up his subordinate writers and his writing staff stepped up to maintain all the quirks and eccentricities of the show. Series star Paul Gross wrote two episodes of Season 2 and wrote two fan favourite episodes.

CBS pulled out of DUE SOUTH again at the end of Season 2. Over two years, Alliance sought financing and finally succeeded in bringing DUE SOUTH back but on a slightly lowered budget for two seasons of 13 episodes each and with series lead Paul Gross taking over as executive producer and showrunner as well as actor. Season 3 started out differently: due to the two year hiatus, all the sets had been lost, meaning the show had to justify burning down or altering the familiar locations of Seasons 1 - 2 to explain why everyone's homes and offices were different.

Season 3 also lost Paul Gross' supporting partner; David Marciano (Ray Vecchio) had moved back to Los Angeles and had no wish to return to Toronto. Season 3 cleverly brought in a new actor, Callum Keith Rennie, who for Reasons must pretend to be Ray Vecchio while the original Ray Vecchio is undercover and Marciano made a brief appearance to create a transition. Rennie and Gross had a sparklingly delightful chemistry that was reminiscent of the original but with its own style.

Season 3 also had a slightly different visual language. Seasons 1 - 2 had been a very quick, purposefully filmed series. Every shot conveyed immediate plot and character information. Under Paul Gross, however, the series shifted more on emphasizing actors with prolonged shots where the performers controlled the pacing of the scenes and the writing had far more digressions and tangents into the contrasts between American and Canadian culture.

DUE SOUTH wasn't precisely the same show as before, but the lead actor was the same, the lighting and music were intact, the location filming in Toronto was the same. Some fans found Season 3's more easygoing, comedic take jarring and obnoxious; some saw it as an evolution of the original. By the middle of Season 3, however, DUE SOUTH had tightened up its editing and the pacing now resembled Seasons 1 - 2 even though the writing had an different angle.

Season 4 was the same and series lead Paul Gross and the studio came to a mutual agreement that Season 4 would be the last: the financing had been hard enough to acquire; Paul Gross could only maintain showrunning and being the lead actor for so much longer before he burnt out, and Season 4 offered a grand two part finale in which David Marciano returned to say good-bye.

I wish Jerry O'Connell had loved SLIDERS as much as Paul Gross had loved DUE SOUTH. I wish Universal had cared about SLIDERS the way Alliance clearly cared about DUE SOUTH.

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Two people have told me that Quinn Mallory is not MacGyver, but I think the MACGYVER reboot in 2016 offers a very convincing presentation of a rebooted Quinn Mallory.

I sometimes think I will spend the rest of my life looking for Quinn Mallory in other TV shows, finding his dysfunctional insecurity in Chuck (CHUCK), finding his improvisational physicality in Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). However, the character of MacGyver as played by Lucas Till in the 2016 reboot is by Season 4 of MACGYVER, in terms of performance and appearance (if not costuming) pretty much what I think Quinn would be if played by a new actor in a SLIDERS reboot.

Lucas Till's MacGyver is a scientific spy. As a science hero, he has Quinn's scientific and engineering brilliance, is actually more adept at physicality than Quinn/Jerry O'Connell and conveys the sense that MacGyver's knowledge and ideas propel his body almost as an outside force as MacGyver often seems possessed by his own knowledge and ideas. Chuck is too dysfunctional and inept to truly be Quinn; Ethan Hunt is not a scientist. And even MacGyver in Seasons 1 - 3 doesn't quite feel like Quinn because MacGyver in Seasons 1 - 3 is way too confident and has little to no dark side. MacGyver in Seasons 1 - 3 of MACGYVER has all of Quinn's strengths but lacks his soul.

Season 4, however, has MacGyver discovering that his dead mother founded a bioterrorist cult seeking to cull the global population by one half and create a nuclear winter to reverse the greenhouse effect while maintaining a select group of survivors in an underground colony.

Season 4 thoroughly questions the entire foundation of MACGYVER, pointing out that MacGyver's spy agency, the Phoenix Foundation, is a crisis response team that ultimately supports the extractivism and resource mismanagement that creates all the disasters in the first place with MacGyver putting out fires but never preventing the gas spills. Season 4 has MacGyver haunted by the realization that he doesn't disagree with the bioterrorists believing that the planet is doomed and that his adventures in Seasons 1 - 3 have not been the greatest use of his time.

Season 4 has MacGyver tormented and self-doubting and unsteady with his cocksure confidence now shaky and unravelling as MacGyver begins to distance himself from his team -- and Lucas Till does an amazing job of keeping MacGyver hypercapable but deeply troubled -- and finally, I see the full Quinn Mallory in the character: the brilliance, the cleverness, the bleak realization that something is seriously wrong with the world around him, the self-isolation.

Near the end of Season 4, MacGyver abandons the Phoenix Foundation and joins the bioterrorists, seemingly becoming a villain and his performance is more like Quinn Mallory than any point prior, especially when it turns out that MacGyver believes in the bioterrorists' cause fully but prevents them from setting off a nuclear bomb, shuts down their plans for global destruction, but then returns to Phoenix to redirect its resources towards battling climate change, overpopulation, famine, fully aware that he will probably fail but inclined give the human race a fighting chance to mend its ways.

It's striking that Season 4 accepts the argument that humans have destroyed the planet's ability to sustain human life and broadcasts it on CBS shortly before Season 4 had to shut down production due to a global pandemic. MACGYVER seems truly prescient and it's exasperating that all this narrative brilliance came from disgraced and now unhirably-blacklisted TV producer Peter Lenkov whose bullying, cruelty, abuse and contempt for others is not present in his writing and whose life does not reflect the scripts he shepherded to the screen in Season 4.

Anyway. Lucas Till is probably not who NBCUniversal would hire to play Quinn because Lucas Till is now 31 years old and a SLIDERS reboot would likely hire a 20 year old to get a long run out of him, but Lucas Till would have made a wonderful Quinn Mallory and anyone who said Quinn Mallory isn't MacGyver is... well, I wouldn't say wrong, it's subjective, but Season 4 of the MACGYVER reboot indicates they may be less than correct.

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It's possible this is more widespread, but MACGYVER is the first TV show I've seen to directly acknowledge COVID-19 when most shows I watch like BATWOMAN simply ignore it.

MACYVER had to abruptly stop filming Season 4 due to COVID-19, ending Season 4 with episode 13 what looks to be seven episodes that were incomplete. Episode 13, planned as a mid-season finale, was reworked into a full season finale . There was no cliffhanger; MacGyver stops the bioterrorists and declares that the Phoenix Foundation will devote itself to the problems of the world for which the bioterrorists wanted to cure by killing 50 per cent of the global population.

Season 5 opens with the characters talking about how they have been shut down for an unspecified period of time due to the "global pandemic" and vaguely indicates that the pandemic is totally over by Season 5 through some unspecified resolution. Nobody discuses vaccination or whatever.

The unfinished seven episodes were completed but with some minor rewrites to indicate that MacGyver and his friends haven't been on missions for a period of time. The onscreen text says that it's been "10 months and a pandemic" since the Season 4 finale but cleverly doesn't specify if the pandemic is within those 10 months. There's some dubbed in dialogue from a character whose back is turned to the camera saying they were "shut down" during the pandemic.

However, the characters are still continuing the discussions and arguments they were having in Season 4, Episode 13, because Season 5, Episode 1 was originally written and filmed to be shown a few weeks after the previous episode and the Season 5 production has merely filled in the unfinished material that wasn't completed before the Season 4 shutdown. Outside of one dubbed-in line and the onscreen text, there is no real sense of the characters having been apart in the performances or dialogue.

Even the 10 month time gap (with room for more) speaks to an odd and difficult situation. The showrunners had no idea when COVID-19 would be over or how it would be resolved. It may seem crazy now, but last year, Temporal Flux and I were pondering if there would ever be a vaccine. And as someone who's had two doses of Moderna in April and June, I was expecting last March that I wouldn't get my first dose until August and my second in November.

It's oddly reminiscent of AGENTS OF SHIELD where the showrunners clearly had no idea what was going to be the cliffhanger of INFINITY WAR and also had no idea how it would be resolved in ENDGAME, took a guess at the timeline and guessed wrong. In addition, MACGYVER had to open Season 5 with episodes filmed before the pandemic and alter them minimally and claim they were set after the pandemic.

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MACGYVER's fifth season has an episode set during April 2020 when MacGyver and his friends are isolating in MacGyver's house. MacGyver starts to lose his mind, obsessing over building a ventilator out of a soda bottle and singing songs with "Fauci" added to the lyrics for no good reason whatsoever and everyone is wearing those slightly useless cloth masks that isolate droplets to the wearer but wouldn't filter any aerosols in the air and it's a shocking picture of MacGyver reacting to the lockdown the way Quinn Mallory would: he starts to come unglued, living entirely in his own head, rapidly losing the ability to interact with others and the climax of the episode has MacGyver and friends foiling a plot to rob a shopping mall.

It's magnificent. And it's one of the first episodes to be made after Peter Lenkov was fired MACGYVER with new showrunner Monica Macer taking over. What's interesting: everything that made MACGYVER special while Lenkov was running the show remains here: the interest in topical affairs, the inclusivity, seizing on positive trends in the world at large (in this episode, it's the common sense of wearing masks and social distancing) -- and yet, Lenkov had nothing to do with this episode.

It suggests that MACGYVER's positivity and self-awareness during Lenkov's four seasons on the show didn't come from Lenkov as much as it escaped past him. Lenkov was of the mindset that kind, thoughtful, generous, inclusive people and women and people of colour were weak, people he could bully with impunity, so he'd hire them.

The result was that he hired extremely talented writers who wrote the stories they would have written with him or without him; Lenkov harassed and assailed them but in ways that upset them but didn't actually damage the scripts (although it constantly drove away the actors). The MACGYVER team produced good work in spite of him and were just as capable of doing that same good work without him.

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In TV and comic books and other forms of serial fiction, serieses like MACGYVER, X-MEN and BATMAN will declare a massive change to the status quo. The X-MEN and BATMAN will become a global operation finding new ways to battle injustice and build a better world; they will step away from their usual formula of stories... but invariably, there's a return to the original, basic formula. Sometimes that return is abrupt, sometimes gradual, and sometimes it's in the middle. MACGYVER is in the middle.

Season 4 of MAGYVER has MacGyver tormented by the climate crisis and the planet becoming uninhabitable; he goes so far as to join a bioterrorist group planning to kill half of the global population in a nuclear holocaust. He stops them, but steals all their research and goes to Washington to show legislators how the world is in serious danger and how if governments and corporations don't act, the next bioterrorist group might not be stopped so fortunately. In addition, MacGyver's private spy agency, Phoenix, sees its financial head, Russ, injured in action. Russ tells MacGyver he's in charge now, and MacGyver declares that all the threats that the bioterrorists were focused on averting will become Phoenix's top priority, implying that Season 5 will see MacGyver focused on missions that are relevant to famine, global warming, shrinking landmasses and ecological catastrophe. MacGyver won't be doing the same old thing any more.

Season 5 opens with MacGyver on another generic espionage mission about infiltrating a hotel for terrorists and his next adventure is about stealing a bioweapon hidden in a painting and yes, MacGyver is indeed doing the same old thing all over again. To be fair: Season 4 ended abruptly and suddenly in mid-production. The creators had to find some way to make their mid-season finale feel conclusive, so they had MacGyver declare his commitment to battling the global carbon situation even if they were possibly promising a story direction that they wouldn't be able to deliver.

With Season 5, they felt they had to set the season premiere *after* the pandemic at some unspecified point in the future with the supporting characters saying that this is their first mission since COVID-19 led to them shutting down their spy agency for awhile. With the world in misery and with Season 4 having been extremely dark and topical, MACGYVER's creators for Season 5 wanted to offer familiar, gentle escapism and of course they went back to basics right away. There's also the fact that the creators had no way of knowing what the most relevant ecological and social justice concerns would be post-COVID-19, so they elected to not guess at that, already in a bad situation of guessing that COVID-19 would be over somehow in three to four months in their scripts.

Also, Season 5 opens with episodes that were meant to air in the previous season before the conclusion of the bioterror story arc.

And I myself don't know how interesting or broadcastable it would be if MACGYVER's fifth season consisted of MacGyver sitting in Greta Thunberg's living room making signs for her protests and marches for 46 minutes every week.

And yet, it's disappointing. BATMAN and X-MEN gradually returned to their status quo over 1 - 2 years; MACGYVER went back to basics without even one episode to transition. In the end, MacGyver's commitment to all the ills of the world ultimately consisted of making a big speech and then seemingly forgetting all about the climate emergency even though he spent most of Season 4 in tormented bleakness over it.

Episode 6 of Season 5 opens with MacGyver and his team stopping some villains in an opening dated "March 2020" with MacGyver crowing how happy he is that the bioterrorists are defeated and how he and his team are back to fighting simple bad guys. "2020 is going to be great!" he exclaims and the show smash-cuts to April 2020 where MacGyver and his friends have quarantined themselves to MacGyver's house and are not going on any missions. MacGyver is shown working on a ventilator out of a soda bottle and kitchen tongs and he is clearly losing his mind. Again, to be fair, global carbon emissions were lowered during the pandemic due to the lockdowns; maybe MacGyver felt he could take a break.

The charitable implication is that MacGyver was trying to balance social justice work with espionage missions shortly after Season 4; that he then spent about 12 to 18 months making cheap but functional medical equipment for the world -- and that post-pandemic, he's trying to get his bearings and work out what the top priorities should be. The more realistic reading, however, is that MACGYVER is an action-adventure show and that expecting MacGyver, a fictional character, to battle world hunger, was expecting far too much from a series of lightweight escapism and fantasy.

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Episode 7 reveals that MacGyver has been trying to cure cancer since the Season 4 finale. That's something.