Re: Random Thoughts about TV, Film and Media
RIP to the great Dean Stockwell, who played the lovable Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap. QL was for many people, me included the spiritual predecessor to Sliders.
RIP to the great Dean Stockwell, who played the lovable Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap. QL was for many people, me included the spiritual predecessor to Sliders.
I am deeply invested in whether or not Slider_Quinn21 likes the new DEXTER.
(Never seen a single episode of it myself.)
I am deeply invested in whether or not Slider_Quinn21 likes the new DEXTER.
(Never seen a single episode of it myself.)
Unfortunately, I don't have Showtime so I haven't seen an episode of it. I didn't read good things about it, but I'll hopefully find a way to watch it at some point.
I still think Dexter, while having an obvious and painful dip in quality, is still unfairly beaten up in pop culture. Same with Game of Thrones. Were the final seasons as good as the first? No, obviously not. But they were still watchable, as evidence by the fact that people continued to watch them. I also struggle with how people enjoy the ending of The Shield, where it's protagonist is punished by a forced exile from the people and places that he ended up loving but don't enjoy the same ending for Dexter. It's the same ending.
Michael C. Hall is a great actor and the character of Dexter is fun. The character grew and developed. The plotlines were dumb, but they were dumb because they peaked in Season 4 and never recovered. They also peaked because they were one of the big casualties of online fan communities crowd-sourcing plot twists.
I still think Dexter is one of the more entertaining shows of the last 20 years, and it's a shame that it's become such a joke in pop culture. Seasons 1-4 (with season 3 being the weak link) are some of the best TV that you can find.
Sorry you can't see it for awhile.
Now, responding to something Grizzlor and I were talking about over in "The Return of Sliders":
Grizzlor? What's Nicole Eggert like? I've always wondered.
So, I guess I'll see you all in Long Island in Summer 2022. Maybe my favourite actress and her splendid boyfriend will come with me.
Eggert is your favorite actress?!? She was fairly pleasant although has also been known to party too much at cons and not answer the bell the next day, something I have witnessed ha ha. As for the convention, I'm going to see what details I can get before giving my two cents on that. Tracy mentioned a trip he and his wife were supposed to take to Jordan in December was going to be delayed until next June or July, so I guess that is not when such a convention would occur.
I wouldn't say Nicole Eggert is my favourite anything. That was just me being random and silly. I have always wondered what Nicole Eggert is really like and I have been regularly asking Grizzlor what Nicole Eggert is really like because I once saw a photo of Nicole Eggert with Grizzlor:
In the 90s, I was a pre-teen boy and like many pre-teen boys, I had a sister and we bonded over a shared love of meatloaf, club soda and a pre-teen book series called THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB. My favourite of the baby-sitters was Dawn Schaefer, a 13 year old girl from California who was vegetarian, dedicated to the environment, a staunch social crusader, a devotee of living life without makeup, and a lover of the sun and the beach who found herself out of place when her mother moved her to Connecticut.
Also like many pre-teen boys, I had a television and at one point when channel surfing, I saw possibly 10 minutes of an episode of BAYWATCH where Nicole Eggert was playing a teen girl trying to pass a lifeguarding test to get a job. I never finished watching it, but I thought Eggert looked exactly like how I pictured Dawn Schaefer in my head (even though Dawn was eternally 13 in the books and Eggert was 20).
After that, I studiously avoided BAYWATCH because all the boys at school seemed obsessed with it and I hated all the boys at school and hated anything they liked. That said, I liked the look of Nicole Eggert for Dawn Schaefer.
I have never seen a full Nicole Eggert performance in anything, but she's Dawn Schaefer to me despite having never played the role and potentially not being anything like Dawn at all. Also, in the Netflix adaptation of THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, Dawn is Latinx which, to me, makes a lot of sense. The Club was always way too Caucasian and there are plenty of blonde, white girls in film and TV; Dawn's characteristics aren't tied to her skin or hair colour.
Fun fact: Xochitl Gomez played Dawn in the first season of the Netflix show, but then Marvel hired her to play Ms. Marvel in a new Disney+ series. In the second season, Kyndra Sanchez took over the role. In a podcast interview, BABY-SITTERS CLUB showrunner Rachel Shukert was point-blank asked why Dawn looked different and nobody was discussing it onscreen.
Shukert replied in a serious tone that after Season 1, Dawn went to visit her father in California and got in a horrific car accident that mangled her face and required extensive reconstructive surgery and her fellow baby-sitters were politely not mentioning it and that all this physical therapy and plastic surgery all very plausibly happened in the three weeks that passed between Seasons 1 and 2.
Wrapping up my DEAD ZONE rewatch and... THE DEAD ZONE is a strange show. Debuting in 2002, it neatly and cleverly addressed a lot of difficulties that other serialized-but-standalone shows had experienced, finding a happy balance between myth-arc episodes and individual episodes. But then it retreated from its own solutions and replicated the very same mistakes it had previously solved.
Avoiding the Trap: In reviewing the myth-arc episodes of THE DEAD ZONE -- I find that they are good. Like THE X-FILES, THE DEAD ZONE was an eccentric, paranormal procedural except the one paranormal element was Johnny Smith, a psychic detective with the ability to see the past and future of any person or object he touched. And like THE X-FILES, many of Johnny Smith's adventures foreshadowed a terrible, apocalyptic future that Johnny had to investigate and hopefully prevent.
Unlike THE X-FILES, each myth-arc story of THE DEAD ZONE brought some progress, perspective and characterization to the show and each mythology episode had its own unique tone and genre. The average myth-arc episode of THE X-FILES was a series of espionage thriller set pieces with Mulder gaining vital information or evidence on the conspiracy only to lose it by the end.
Stepping Into the Trap: In contrast, THE DEAD ZONE offered new information and development with each myth-arc installment -- although it soon fell into the same traps as THE X-FILES through a series of unforced errors. Both THE DEAD ZONE and THE X-FILES spent a great deal of effort on telling chapters in a story with no conclusion, making those early chapters pointless.
Opening Act: The first myth arc episode of THE DEAD ZONE is Season 1's 13th episode, also the Season 1 finale: "Destiny." Johnny discovers that his psychic powers fully came to life on the day congressional candidate Greg Stillson started his election campaign.
Johnny meets Stillson and upon touching him, Johnny starts having visions of Stillson somehow bringing about a horrific cataclysm with America in flames. "Destiny" is about the scope of Johnny's powers and how he realizes his life's purpose may be to stop a national, potentially global disaster.
Delayed Follow Up: The Season 2 premiere doesn't address this, showing that the vision of Armageddon was so traumatic for Johnny that it burnt out his powers for a prolonged period of time. The Season 2 premiere shows Johnny trying to find a kidnapped boy, eventually reactivating his missing powers. The premiere makes it clear: the Stillson arc is ongoing, but not the focus of the show.
Two Out of Nineteen: Subsequent Season 2 episodes have Johnny researching Stillson as a B-plot. But Stillson only becomes an A-plot only in episodes 6 and 19 of Season 2.
Season 2, Episode 6 is "Scars," a psychic political intrigue story where Johnny starts using his powers to interfere in the congressional election, trying to prevent Stillson from winning his seat.
Johnny uses his powers to help Stillson's opponent and tries to bury the man's past scandal during Vietnam, only for the opposing candidate to be moved by Johnny presence and confess of his own accord, leaving Stillson a clear path for the congressional seat.
Stillson is shown to take Johnny completely seriously as an impediment to his career and also being dangerous, violent, self-serving, reckless, erratic and savage -- but able to conceal his psychopathy. It becomes clear in this political thriller that Stillson's rising political star is not something Johnny can shoot down in one episode.
Fighting the Future: After this, the show switches to standalone episodes, but the Stillson arc continues to build as an ongoing subplot with Johnny regularly learning about Stillson's political rise. And throughout episodes 14 - 18, Johnny starts having visions of a strange man, someone he doesn't know, someone who isn't there, but it's quickly dismissed in favour of the psychic detective case of the week.
Delaying the Future: Like THE X-FILES, the DEAD ZONE myth-arc teases a future story of apocalyptic disaster, of Armageddon. And, like THE X-FILES, THE DEAD ZONE teases a story that it can never really tell. THE DEAD ZONE never had the budget to set itself in a post-Armageddon landscape,
THE DEAD ZONE's episodes are dedicated to the adventures of a psychic detective existing in a relatively normal world. THE DEAD ZONE isn't interested in changing its psychic procedural format to a post-apocalyptic timeframe, just as THE X-FILES was never going to devote the bulk of its episodes to a planet Earth ruled by aliens.
Limited Focus: It's perhaps best that only two episodes of Season 2's 19 are focused on Armageddon. THE X-FILES had so many mythology episodes about the impending alien invasion, a story beyond the budget and scope of a procedural drama, and by the fifth season, it was obvious that the invasion would always be delayed to some future date that would never arrive.
THE DEAD ZONE avoided spending too much time on foreshadowing for a story it could obviously never deliver.
Chapter Three: In the Season 2 finale (episode 19), "Visions," Johnny discovers that the strange man he's been seeing in his visions, Christopher Wey, is a fellow psychic living in the post-Armageddon future, able to communicate with Johnny in the present through their shared psychic powers.
Wey confesses: he doesn't know how Armageddon started; he was unconscious and woke up in an America ravaged by some unknown disaster, but he is a way for Johnny to find the truth. The stage is set for Johnny to devote his full attention to Armageddon.
Stepping Into the Future: The Wey character is a clever invention from showrunner Michael Piller and Season 2 producer Karl Schaefer. Wey's presence allows THE DEAD ZONE to show Armageddon in the present day without changing the setting to a post-apocalyptic situation. "Visions" is an hour of ominous foreshadowing to a terrible future that was only glimpsed, but "Visions" ends by showing how THE DEAD ZONE can depict that future onscreen in the present day situation -- while still leaving the present day intact.
THE X-FILES could never show the world after Colonization. But THE DEAD ZONE would be able to show the world after Armageddon in Season 3.
Out of Focus: Season 3 opens with a three part story: "Finding Rachel Part 1," "Finding Rachel Part 2" and "Collision," all three featuring a new character, Rebecca Caldwell.
In Part 1, Christopher Wey directs Johnny to investigate a mission person's case. Filmmaker Rachel Caldwell (sister of Rebecca) disappeared when filming material for Stillson's political campaign. Wey believes Rachel to be a flashpoint in Stillson's future and the impending cataclysm. Johnny investigates only to find Rachel's dead body and the police arrest him for murder.
Also, Johnny discovers that each vision of Christopher Wey has affected his memory: he cannot account for his whereabouts during Rachel's killing, he has no memory of where he was or what he was doing in the hours after each vision of this ally from the future.
"Finding Rachel Part 1" is structured like any psychic detective case of the week from Seasons 1 - 2 except Wey's guidance adds a more desperate edge to the story and the entire situation suddenly collapses on top of Johnny at the end.
Out of Sight: Part 2 switches to Johnny trying to clear his name with Johnny's path to innocence further challenged when his psychic powers make it impossible for him to pass a lie detector test (his visions set off the readings) and his knowledge of crimes past and present now make him seem like the predator.
The focus is almost entirely on Johnny's legal issues. In addition, Johnny is thought guilty of Rachel's murder by almost everyone except Rachel's sister, Rebecca, who is inspired by Johnny's decency and develops romantic feelings for him.
"Finding Rachel Part 2" is a strong DEAD ZONE story. It is a strong Johnny Smith story. But it is not an Armageddon story. Wey is shown briefly as being unable to contact Johnny any further due to a situation in the future, and while Johnny's name is cleared, the Wey arc is dropped and also strangely, the episode never resolves who actually murdered Rachel Caldwell, although the implication is that it was Greg Stillson (who wins his congressional seat).
Out of Mind: And with third part of the story, "Collision," the story moves to Johnny's budding romance with Rebecca, the sister of the murdered Rachel Caldwell. And the case of the week centers around a vehicular accident. It has nothing to do with Armageddon.
It's a good episode, but also truly jarring. Season 3 doesn't focus on the myth-arc; seems to actively steer away from it, won't even permit it to be a subplot like in Season 2..
Quality? Both parts of "Finding Rachel" are taut, capable stories. The first is a missing person's case with a disturbing connection to Armageddon (that isn't fully explored). The second is Johnny's powers proving to be a liability when he's being investigated for murder. "Collision" is a stunning exploration of vehicular trauma. But all three episodes had Armageddon as a starting point and all three seem designed to dodge it in favour of standalones.
Out of the Way: It's understandable that focusing every episode on Armageddon is not sensible; a summer cable TV show like THE DEAD ZONE needs to allow for casual viewers. But the Wey character allowed THE DEAD ZONE to show and explore the post-Armageddon future while still having standalones.
Yet, Wey vanishes from the story in Season 3's second episode and THE DEAD ZONE never ventures further into the world after Armageddon. And with the fourth episode of Season 3, THE DEAD ZONE drops ongoing serialization of its myth-arc.
Armageddon is not referred to again until Season 3's 11th episode in a passing remark. The promising avenue of Christopher Wey is dismissed as a dead end. In fact, the next eight episodes after "Collision" seem to think that Johnny's top priority is cases of the week instead of an impending and cataclysmic disaster.
Absent Arc: On the original airing, Season 3 was truly mystifying. Showrunner Michael Piller, having so diligently woven the myth-arc into the standalones as a subplot in Season 2, seemed to completely abandon that approach for Season 3's 12 aired episodes.
Years later, it would be revealed that Piller had become extremely ill towards the end of Season 2 with Karl Schaefer, taking over Piller's administrative duties for the last six episodes. Schaefer remained as showrunner for Season 3, but it is clear that Schaefer was for whatever reason not empowered to assume Piller's role in rewriting all the standalone scripts to feature the ongoing arc.
Resurgence: The 12th Season 3 episode and the season finale, "Tipping Point," however, brings the seemingly abandoned plot elements of the Season 3 opener back into play. Johnny has a vision of his Season 3 love interest, Rebecca, murdering Greg Stillson, believing he killed her sister. This potential future ends the threat of Armageddon.
Speaking to the Future: As Johnny searches for alternatives, he discovers his psychic powers are causing brain damage that require surgery that will likely remove his powers but save his life. Johnny has to decide whether or not he can lose his powers, but then he has another vision of Christopher Wey. Wey wants Johnny to speak to someone.
This someone is revealed to be Johnny in the future, Johnny after Armageddon, decades from today.
The future Johnny tells the present Johnny that he must allow Rebecca to murder Stillson and die in the process. Johnny seeing his future self proves so traumatic to his brain that he collapses.
Purposeful: Unlike the three part Season 3 premiere, "Tipping Point" is clear and focused: it has Johnny contemplating the deliberate removal of his powers to save his life. It has Johnny presented with a chilling option for ending Armageddon by sacrificing Rebecca's life and the randomness of "Finding Rachel" now seems filled with intent and "Tipping Point" is a story of terrible choices and sacrifices and the uncertainty of any choice when every person in Johnny's life seems threatened either immediately or in the near future and even Johnny himself is running out of time.
Suggestions: It is never stated onscreen, but the implications after "Tipping Point" seem clear enough: the future Johnny used Christopher Wey in "Visions" and "Finding Rachel" to steer the present Johnny towards the Rachel Caldwell murder.
The future Johnny knew that Rebecca would come to believe that Greg Stillson murdered Rachel. The future Johnny sought to create an assassin who would murder Stillson before Stillson triggered Armageddon.
Implications: In addition, Johnny's memory loss and bouts of unconsciousness are due to future Johnny deliberately rendering him incapable of interfering in future Johnny's plot. The future Johnny failed to avert Armageddon. Now he is trying to change the past by reaching backwards in time with his psychic powers.
Not Dead Yet: The appearance of the future Johnny, alive after Armageddon, also makes it clear that Johnny's psychic powers are not dangerous to his brain; the future Johnny is clearly not dead, meaning Johnny's present day health issues are due to future Johnny inducing them through their psychic connection.
Johnny's deleted memories in "Finding Rachel Part 1" led to him being wrongly accused of murder and forming a bond with Rebecca; Johnny being knocked out by his visions in "Tipping Point" allowed Rebecca to decide to murder Stillson without Johnny to get in the way.
Split Paths: It's here that the myth-arc of THE DEAD ZONE takes another peculiar turn. Season 3 only aired 12 episodes. But 13 were shot. The original Season 3 finale, "Tipping Point Part 2," had Johnny accusing Future Johnny in dialogue of all of the above -- except for causing Johnny's health problems, although the mere existence of Johnny in the distant future indicates his supposedly lethal neurological condition isn't so lethal after all.
Original Ending: "Tipping Point Part 2" ended with Johnny's interference in Rebecca's assassination attempt proving tragic: she would fail to kill Stillson and be shot to death by police. Johnny himself would suffer a gunshot wound to the head; he'd survive, but the bullet remained lodged in his brain, possibly affecting his visions.
Race Against Time: The plan was for Season 4 to have Johnny dying, not from his future self hurting him, but from the damage caused by the unremovable bullet in his brain, meaning Johnny would now be desperate to prevent Armageddon before his time ran out.
Changes Before Broadcast: USA Network refused to broadcast "Tipping Point Part 2", deeming it too dark and depressing and also an impediment to their preference for future episodes to be standalone. The episode was rewritten and reshot into the Season 4 premiere, "Broken Circle."
The New Ending: In "Broken Circle," Johnny wakes up in the hospital. He refuses to get the brain surgery that would save his life. He experiences no further health issues. He pursues Rebecca to stop her from assassinating Stillson for Rachel's death.
It's revealed that Stillson's father is actually Rachel Caldwell's killer, fearing that her documentary work had captured proof of voter fraud. Johnny reveals the truth to Rebecca and she ceases trying to kill Stillson; her life is spared, but Stillson survives as well, meaning Armageddon remains on track.
"Broken Circle" was also rewritten to bring a new character into the myth-arc, a mysterious Malcolm Janus who becomes one of Stillson's top advisors.
Contradictory: "Broken Circle" is a myth-arc episode that is extremely capable as a standalone hour and as a chapter in the myth-arc. It's a chase episode: Johnny is falsely accused of trying to kill Stillson when he's trying to save his life and it's Johnny doing THE FUGITIVE as he flees federal agents, jumps off bridges, gets into foot chases -- all of which show Johnny in perfect health. He has several visions; none harm him. The implication is that only far future visions cause his health problems.
Unharmed: However, Johnny has a final confrontation with Future Johnny. Johnny accuses his future self of manipulating him to turn Rebecca into an assassin and his future self confirms it. But Johnny suffers no ill-effects from the vision when previous far future visions knocked him unconscious and put him in the hospital.
Undiscussed: Johnny never accuses his future self of causing his health problems. Johnny never refers to how he was dying one episode ago. The future Johnny makes no effort to incapacitate his past self despite having done so in "Finding Rachel Part 1" and "Tipping Point." The plot point is simply not addressed as though the creators hoped the viewers will forget about it.
Unstated: The viewer could infer that Johnny's awareness of his future self now makes it impossible for his future self to control him, erase his memories or knock him unconscious -- but this is never stated anywhere onscreen.
Treatment vs. Script: Curiously, the "Broken Circle" story treatment clearly states that Johnny's health is steadily diminishing with each scene, that he's struggling physically, that each vision is draining, that the final vision of Future Johnny knocks him out, that Johnny realizes at the end that each far future vision has been the problem and that he has to cut off contact with the future to heal his body.
Johnny's Health: And yet, the treatment calls for so much physicality from Johnny: running and jumping and diving -- it would have been difficult for the actor to perform both feats of strength and speed and portray Johnny's ailing health. The outline is severely at odds with itself and the final script elects to ignore Johnny's health problems entirely.
The Showrunner's Health: "Broken Circle," despite being exciting and enjoyable, shouldn't actually qualify as a good episode of television; the leading man was hospitalized and at death's door one episode ago only to become an action star now without explanation.
It is bizarre that the usually brilliant showrunner Michael Piller oversaw the conversion of "Tipping Point Part 2" into "Broken Circle." These obvious oversights show how severe Piller's health problems must have become at this point.
What Myth-Arc? THE DEAD ZONE after this Season 4 premiere went dark on the myth-arc. For six weeks, THE DEAD ZONE decided that Johnny's top priority would be crimes of the week, a bizarre choice when anyone Johnny might save would still be doomed to die in some horrific holocaust.
Vanguard: THE DEAD ZONE would not address Armageddon again until the seventh episode of Season 4, "Vanguard," in which Johnny discovers that one of his former science students, Alex, will create a missile guidance system that is some key piece of the nuclear war that is Armageddon, a nuclear war that will be brought about by Greg Stillson when Stillson is President of the United States.
Johnny tries to sabotage Alex's work, is exposed; then tries to tell Alex the truth -- and Alex is killed when trying to destroy the technology. At the end, Johnny mourns his student while the mysterious Janus is able to retrieve the guidance system.
Standout: "Vanguard" is a powerful hour, a tale of sacrifice and responsibility, and about the inevitability of technological advancement. It is one of the finest episodes of the series. It is a much darker hour than other Season 4 episodes and bizarrely out of place with all five lightweight episodes before and after it.
Saved: The next Season 4 myth-arc episode is the 11th and final episode of Season 4, "Saved," in which Stillson's fiancee goes missing and Stillson asks Johnny to help find her. Johnny at first refuses to help Stillson only to discover: if Stillson and his fiancee aren't reunited, Armageddon will not happen. Stillson's fiancee is a key step to Stillson becoming President of the United States.
Cliffhanger: Johnny attempts to appear to help without actually doing so, but his efforts fail and Stillson's reunion with his future wife puts Armageddon back on track. Johnny is further disturbed when he goes home to discover that Malcolm Janus, Stillson's advisor, left a Bible in Johnny's bedroom, a Bible that Janus touched to allow him to plant a vision for Johnny, a vision where Janus invites Johnny to join Stillson and use his psychic powers to help Stillson acquire political power.
Inversion: It's a dark, disturbing and truly effective myth-arc episode and season finale. Johnny is put in the unusual situation of being a psychic detective trying to keep the case of the week unsolved. And Janus is terrifying, raising the stakes of the Armageddon episodes unlike any before. Janus is masterminding Stillson's rise to the White House. Janus somehow understands Johnny's psychic powers. Janus somehow knows how to create visions. Worse, Janus seems to know how to maneuver Johnny to prevent him from interfering.
"Saved" is one of THE DEAD ZONE's finest hours with a truly unnerving lead-in to Season 5.
Interruption: "Saved" receives no follow up in the next episode. The next episode ignores "Saved"; instead, it is a lightweight Christmas episode aired between Seasons 4 and 5 that doesn't address the Season 4 finale at all.
It is a confusing choice and reflects a certain disinterest in the viewing experience. Strangely, this trend has become somewhat common with other shows that often broadcast Christmas episodes that are set outside any ongoing arcs.
Resumed: Season 5 opens with "Forbidden Fruit" and the return of the myth-arc. The premiere has Johnny attempting to expose Janus as a security leak in the US government only to discover Janus has outplayed him and steered him into exposing a rival to Stillson's power.
Urgent Questions: Once again, Johnny is outmatched by Janus and it's unclear how Janus can anticipate Johnny's every move. The episode is a strong opener raising questions as to who this Janus person is, how Janus can be so implacable and invincible. The stage is set for Johnny to focus on the mystery of Janus as he did on the secrets of Stillson. The next episode must address Janus. The next episode ignores "Forbidden Fruit" and is about Johnny dealing with a traffic jam as though stalled cars are more important than the coming nuclear holocaust.
Ignored Questions: After the Season 5 premiere, the next nine episodes have Johnny dealing with murders and cults and heists; the end of the world doesn't seem to rank high on his list of priorities.
THE DEAD ZONE not only downplays the myth-arc, it flat out ignores its previous myth-arc episodes, first with the Christmas episode and now with no proper follow-up to the Season 5 premiere. Even when a myth-arc episode demands immediate follow-up, the next episode is a standalone with no continuity on Armageddon.
Vortex: There is one exception to this in Season 5's middle-season myth-arc episode: "Vortex." Oddly, "Vortex" is not actually about the myth-arc at all and offers no progression for the arc beyond Stillson's rising political star mentioned as continuing to rise, a fairly repetitive point of non-development.
And yet, "Vortex" is a strong episode and opens with Johnny upset and worried about the impending Armageddon (despite having not even mentioned it for the last six episodes). Later, Johnny is investigating a doomsday cult after he has visions of them using landmines and killing a child.
Doomsday: Johnny 'joins' the cult and they learn about his visions of Armageddon; Johnny must save the cultists before the leader detonates the entire compound. The story has a framing sequence where Congressman Stillson questions Johnny about his role in the cult; the episode ends with Johnny able to save all the cultists from their leader and hopeful that having prevented one doomsday, he can prevent another.
Incorporated: "Vortex" is excellent. In some ways, "Vortex" reflects how future shows like SUPERNATURAL would incorporate standalone episodes with arc episodes; the standalones would be thematically relevant to the season-long arc even if the standalone wasn't relevant in terms of its plot.
However, "Vortex" is an outlier and all other Season 5 standalones seemed to take place in some alternate THE DEAD ZONE continuity where there was no impending nuclear disaster. The next two episodes after "Vortex" were standalone cases of the week with no references to Armageddon.
Helpless: Season 5's 11th and final episode is "The Hunting Party" in which Johnny tries to stop the assassination of the US Vice President and fails, leading to Stillson becoming the new VP. It is a powerful, frightening, conspiratorial episode. It is effective in its plot and disturbing in its bleak presentation of Johnny seeming powerless against Stillson and the mysterious Malcolm Janus who manages to manipulate Johnny into only being a witness to a murder he cannot stop.
The episode ends with Janus appearing in Johnny's house again, warning Johnny that if he doesn't join Stillson, he will die. Never has Johnny seemed so helpless, his powers so utterly useless. Janus is manipulative, masterful, powerful.
Stalled: And yet, "The Hunting Party" makes it clear that despite this episode being strong, the myth-arc has become irrelevant.
Janus already visited Johnny in "Saved" and proposed a partnership; the next episode immediately switched into a lightweight Christmas episode and ignored the previous installment. "Forbidden Fruit" ended with Johnny defeated by Janus; the next episode had Johnny cheerfully attending a fireworks festival without any mention of it.
There is no reason to think "The Hunting Party" will be treated any differently by a show devoted to standalones.
Posturing: Janus ends "The Hunting Party" -- and Season 5 -- by telling Johnny that the assassination of the US Vice President was "A preview. The opening act of the greatest drama ever conceived by a man. An epic tale born of victory and penned in blood." He remarks, "Think it over, John. It's almost showtime."
But Janus' threatening, portentous words only indicate how the Armageddon never get past being "a preview" and an "opening act," constantly declaring it to be "almost showtime" without the show ever actually arriving. THE DEAD ZONE clearly never wants to tell that story. THE DEAD ZONE's myth-arc episodes are the most exceptional hours of THE DEAD ZONE, but the bulk of the show avoids acknowledging their existence.
Stillson being one step from the US presidency is irrelevant. Stillson could become God Almighty in one episode and the next one would still ignore it and focus on a standalone case of the week.
A Delayed Solution: Season 6 of THE DEAD ZONE opens by ending the Armageddon arc in a single episode. The seemingly masterful and all-powerful Malcolm Janus is abruptly killed off; Johnny's visions of Armageddon cease upon Janus' death.
There is no explanation as to how Janus could be so in control in Seasons 4 - 5 and so easily dispatched in Season 6's premiere. It is rushed; a five season arc is dismissed in one episode. It is dismissive; all of the clues and hints and details about what would bring about Stillson's nuclear war are irrelevant to this ending. It is clumsy; Johnny plays no role in Janus' defeat at all.
It was necessary for Season 6; Seasons 4 - 5 had made it impossible to take Armageddon seriously any longer. With Armageddon gone, Season 6 could tell standalone episodes unburdened by the threat of nuclear disaster. No longer would Johnny's victories be made pointless by the myth-arc. The Season 6 solution seems to come rather late; it might have been best to do something like this as early as the Season 4 premiere.
A New Start: Season 6 starts a new arc, one about Johnny Smith's father and family legacy. The family theme is suited to Johnny's character and proves effective for the standalone format, allowing characterization to run from episode to episode even if the cases of the week are isolated to each individual episode.
Two Steps Back: In the Season 6 finale, Johnny discovers that his father, long thought dead, is actually alive. In addition, his father has psychic abilities just like Johnny. Mr. Smith Senior, however, is suffering from dementia; it's revealed that the departed Malcolm Janus somehow located Mr. Smith and used him as his personal psychic. This is why in Seasons 4 - 5, Janus seemed to understand how to control and avoid Johnny's visions; this is why Johnny was defeated every time.
It's explained: between Seasons 5 and 6, there came a point when Stillson tired of Janus' control and maneuvered Janus into his death in the Season 6 premiere. The explanation is satisfying and Johnny's reunion with his addled, confused but deeply loving father is beautiful.
However, the events that lead Johnny to find his father also alter the future once again, and the once-averted Armageddon is put back on track.
Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after this episode and no resolution was ever filmed.
Empty Threat: The results of this unplanned finale are a mixed bag. It is heartrending and powerful to see Johnny reunited with his father. The performances are stunning and beautiful. The episode closes beautifully with a father reunited with his son. As a single episode, this finale is extremely strong.
As a series finale, it is disappointing that Armageddon is raised once more only for the show to be cancelled. Once again, Armageddon had no ending. While the Season 6 premiere was not a satisfying conclusion, it had at least been a conclusion and the series seemed better when freed of it.
Armageddon's return here was repetitive: Armageddon had ceased to be a plausible danger long ago.
Disguised Blessing: In terms of the cancellation, Armageddon having been defanged long ago was in some ways a blessing. Despite there being no ending, Armageddon had been ignored and curtailed so repeatedly that surely in the hypothetical Season 7, Johnny would find another easy, simple solution. The arc had ended due to its impracticality on cable TV; it would have been just as impractical in the Season 7 that never came to pass.
What Went Wrong? Why didn't the myth-arc work on THE DEAD ZONE? How could it have worked?
Problematic Percentage: THE DEAD ZONE developed a serious messaging problem with its myth-arc. Most of the Season 2 episodes had featured Armageddon as a B-plot, sending the audience the message that the myth-arc mattered and was on the characters' minds. This changed starting with Season 3. In the 35 episodes that made up THE DEAD ZONE's third to fifth seasons, only nine actually mentioned Armageddon.
This means that for 26 per cent of the show, the Season 3 - 5 audience was told that Armageddon was dire, threatening, pressing and urgent, but the other 74 per cent of the episodes declared that Armageddon was so trivial that it wasn't worth mentioning.
A Confusing Message: The standalones undermined Armageddon's importance, declaring it inconsequential by never mentioning it. The myth-arc episodes in turn undermined the standalones by saying that everyone Johnny saved from car wrecks and floods and murder was still doomed to die in Armageddon.
THE DEAD ZONE was cancelling itself out long before its cancellation.
A Permanent Delay: Anyone who'd ever watched THE X-FILES knew full well that Armageddon was an untellable story that would never take place. While THE DEAD ZONE created tremendous drama and compelling stories from teasing this untellable story in Season 2, by Season 4, the tease had become predictable and avoidant.
A Story for the End: THE DEAD ZONE was also part of an era of television where showrunners acted as though if the central myth-arc of a TV show were resolved, the show would have no further reason to exist. QUANTUM LEAP never got Sam Beckett home. Mulder and Scully on THE X-FILES never exposed the alien conspiracy. Johnny Smith never stopped Armageddon. These were stories that showrunners would only tell if they knew the show was ending, rarely did showrunners know that the end was coming in advance of filming their season finales.
THE DEAD ZONE made itself dependent on knowing precisely when they'd be filming a series finale, a luxury few showrunners of the era could ever expect and one THE DEAD ZONE didn't receive.
Why Didn't the Myth-Arc Stay a B-plot? Season 2 found a winning approach: standalone episodes, the myth-arc as a running subplot, one myth-arc episode out of every 10 or so installments. Why didn't Season 3 stick with it?
The running arcs were in Season 2 because showrunner Michael Piller had been rewriting all the scripts to add running character and mythology arcs. He became too ill with cancer to do this regularly in Season 3.
But why didn't his successor take over?
Hiding: For reasons unclear, the studio did not truly appoint a successor empowered to handle rewrites and arcs during Piller's illness; they only did so for Season 6 after Piller had passed away.
Despite production diaries referring to Karl Schaefer and Tommy Thompson as "showrunner" for Season 3 (Schaefer) and Seasons 4 - 5 (Thompson), standalone scripts didn't seem to be rewritten during to incorporate ongoing arcs under their terms.
In Seasons 4 - 5, many of the standalones seemed to be first drafts from freelancers with all character development experienced by guest-stars and no characterization for the regulars.
Unempowered: There was the odd sense that no post-Piller showrunner for Seasons 3 - 5 had the authority to execute any development on the Armageddon arc or the character arcs. Certainly, the production company was reluctant to admit that Piller was ill; his cancer was not revealed until after his death and the studio's publicity materials all presented Piller as actively running THE DEAD ZONE.
After Piller died, production blogs revealed that he had less present starting in Season 3 and largely absent for Seasons 4 - 5. Only with Season 6 was the new showrunner, Scott Shepherd, permitted to develop the arc (and end it).
More For Less: There was also the manner in which Seasons 4 - 5 were filmed. In a cost-saving measure, USA Network mandated that Seasons 4 - 5 would be filmed in 4 - 5 months with a reduced budget and 23 episodes to air as two separate seasons of 12 and 11. They also mandated that all 23 episodes be completed before Season 4 had even finished airing, even though Season 5 would be broadcast a year later. This allowed USA Network to avoid paying for increased cast salaries in a fifth season.
THE DEAD ZONE's fourth and fifth season had to produce more episodes with fewer resources and less time than any previous season. To cope, production had to film episodes severely out of order based on cast availability, with cast absences scattered throughout the episode order.
Recurring guest-stars filmed episodes in a few weeks but saw their episodes broadcast years apart. This may have been why production developed an aversion to ongoing, episodic continuity. One would think that Piller would have taken the role of overseeing continuity, but he was too ill to do so.
Solutions: What should have been done? The frustrating thing is that THE DEAD ZONE had found solutions to all these issues, it simply didn't stick to them.
The myth-arc should have been maintained as a subplot through Season 3 with the Christopher Wey character used to position the standalones as relevant to the myth-arc. The myth-arc should have also been maintained through Seasons 4 - 5 in the Season 2 fashion.
Alternatively, if USA Network was disinclined to let THE DEAD ZONE focus on Armageddon, it should have been resolved in a fashion like the Season 6 premiere: a single episode or even a two-parter could end the arc and the show could start a new one that the network would actually support.
The Season 4 finale and the Season 5 premiere had crafted a storyline that could have easily served the same purpose as the Season 6 premiere.
Sadly, despite the Season 6 opener ending the Armageddon threat, THE DEAD ZONE once again backtracked from the answer to its problems and brought Armageddon back for the Season 6 finale. THE DEAD ZONE would not commit to its own solutions and kept recreating the very problems it had so deftly avoided.
Legacy: While THE DEAD ZONE is filled with brilliant, revolutionary episodes, its myth-arc defined every season even when it was absent.
It is very odd that THE DEAD ZONE surpassed THE X-FILES in its approach to serialization, but then backtracked on its innovations. THE DEAD ZONE went from doing better than THE X-FILES to being just as circular, directionless, self-destructive and pointless with its mythology.
I watched Dead Zone for most of its original run, although I probably missed a lot of episodes. I enjoyed it, and while the main cast were very good and experienced, it suffered from a few things. Similar to Quantum Leap, the good guys have to battle the bad guys each episode, although it often became a bit ridiculous over time. Tru Calling, which debuted during Dead Zone's run, was in many ways, a rip off of it. Ironically another Vancouver show. Again, DZ had great actors, but eventually, the Canadian filming locations just didn't work, especially as Stillson became more of a "national" figure. British Columbia doesn't pass well enough for most of America. It was often difficult to accept the Illuminati as the show never brought it "to scale." I mean, how fearful could they be if everything happened in some backwater locale? Never in a major city?
Not to in *any* way defend THE DEAD ZONE for the indefensible way in which it handled its myth-arc, but the Illuminati was revealed in the show to be a fraud and a sham.
Season 4's premiere, "Broken Circle," introduces the mysterious Malcolm Janus, a quiet, menacing figure of seemingly limitless influence and power brought in as a "consultant" who is able to get Reverend Gene Purdy released from jail for obstruction of justice, cover up Greg Stillson's murder of his father and become Stillson's main handler -- and Janus wears a ring with the stereotypical Freemason eye in the triangle. Janus returns in the mid-Season 4 episode ("Vanguard"), the finale for Season 4 ("Saved"), and the Season 5 premiere ("Forbidden Fruit"). In all three episodes, Janus continues to steer Stillson's rise to political power and is shown to not only understand Johnny's visions, but is able to create visions for Johnny or prevent Johnny from having visions by removing any objects that might allow Johnny to get a psychic vision. However, Season 4 also shows Janus intimidating Reverend Purdy into increasing his funding for Stillson's political campaign. Janus is terrifying -- but it's odd that this supposedly powerful figure of seemingly boundless resources needs a TV evangelist's money so severely.
Also curiously: the Freemason ring, often associated with the Illuminati, is not really emphasized after "Broken Circle."
The Season 5 finale, "The Hunting Party" reveals that Janus' organization is called the Coalition for a Better America and it's actually just a small group of former US Army and special forces soldiers turned mercenaries. Janus' organization -- and Janus -- create the illusion of being a large syndicate of infinite numbers of conspirators, but it's really just six or seven people pretending to be a larger group, using Reverend Purdy's financing resources and Stillson's rising political profile for their own gain. Purdy was in jail; Stillson murdered his father; the Coalition seized both moments to control them.
The Season 6 finale (and series finale), "Denouement," reveals that during Season 2 of the show, Janus kidnapped Herb Smith, the father of Johnny Smith. Like Johnny, Herb Smith is a psychic and Janus has been using Herb's psychic visions to steer the Coalition; this is how Janus understood how to control or avoid Johnny's psychic powers, this is how Janus seemed so all-knowing -- until Stillson learned the truth and arranged for Janus to die.
That's one of the few areas where I will mildly say the show did okay with its mythology.
TRU CALLING was good. The studio and producers of THE DEAD ZONE were very impressed by TRU CALLING, especially the scripts from writer Scott Shepherd. After TRU CALLING got cancelled, the DEAD ZONE team hired Shepherd to become the lead writer and showrunner of THE DEAD ZONE's sixth and final season. Shepherd did a very good job.
The Walking Dead - the shows I watch for....some reason?
I don't know if I've loved the Walking Dead even going back to season 2. And yet I've watched every season.
When they announced a spinoff, I rolled my eyes. But then the promos came out, and it promised to show the beginning of the outbreak (when Walking Dead skipped it entirely). That's the part of the zombie apocalypse that I'm most interested in. How does society fall like that? Walking Dead got repetitive because it's just our band of survivors going from fragile rural encampment to fragile rural encampment. This is going to take place in LA!
So I watched. And a couple episodes in, they had a time jump and we'd skipped through the parts that I thought would be more interesting. Before too long, they were going from fragile rural encampment to fragile rural encampment. And while the show got much better when they killed off most of the season one cast and brought in new characters (including Walking Dead alum Morgan Jones), it's....fine? I'm still watching.
Then they announced *another* spinoff about kids that were raised during the apocalypse. I didn't really care about that, but they announced that it would be 1) revolving around the mysterious Civic Republic that would certainly tie in with the main shows and 2) it would be a limited series - 2 seasons, 20 total episodes. So fine. I watched. And it was...fine? I watched all 20.
But there's a glimmer of hope. At the end of the final episode of World Beyond, they had an epilogue. I won't spoil it here, but it teased some cool stuff that we haven't seen before and maybe some answers about what happened in the first place.
Sorry your zombie show is in that strange state of being neither living or dead in holding your interest, becoming something you tolerate without any consistent enjoyment.
I like to think that I only watch the shows that inspire me and that I think are really, really, really good. However, I keep watching THE FLASH to keep track of the ARROWVERSE. And I watched all of 13 REASONS WHY even though it ran out of story by the third season. And I kept watching THE DEAD ZONE even though I could tell it was going nowhere. And I watched the revival seasons of THE X-FILES. I guess, even though I wasn't happy with these shows, I felt I'd be even less happy not knowing what was happening in them.
I did quit SMALLVILLE in Season 2, however, because I knew that nothing mattered; Clark was going to trounce a villain every week and forget any lessons learned by next week. I quit LOST which I fear will offend you. It wasn't on purpose; I got to Season 4 (I think) and then got busy and then it had been too long to resume where I'd left off, but I didn't have the time or inclination to start over again.
One show that quit me before I quit watching was ELEMENTARY. The showrunner anticipated that the sixth season finale would be the series finale and scripted it as a conclusion. But then the show unexpectedly got a seventh season. I decided not to watch it; Season 6 felt like the end.
There is also a slight subcategory: shows I stopped watching because I didn't want them to end. I loved BIG BANG THEORY and was sad to see it ending, and by never watching the final season, it never ended for me. I also never watched the series finale of PERSON OF INTEREST or WYNONNA EARP for exactly the same reasons -- although I will probably take some time to rewatch both from pilot to finale at some point.
One of the most unfortunate tragedies of the pandemic -- THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA ended on an unintended soft-cliffhanger. Season 4 ended with Sabrina dead. It was a conclusive ending that closed on her reunited with her true love in the afterlife. But it wasn't meant to be the ending; it was originally a cliffhanger where Sabrina's family were going to venture to the underworld to resurrect her. However, due to the pandemic, Netflix told the creators that they did not feel it was affordable to film a fifth season. They asked that the season finale be re-edited into a series finale by removing the scene where Sabrina's friends and loved ones were going to go find her.
In the new season of RIVERDALE, Sabrina shows up. She is played by the same actress, Kiernan Shipka. She is older than she was when she died onscreen. "There is no death for witches," Sabrina says. "Only transformation. I mean -- I died and came back." Sabrina doesn't get into the details.
... Oh, Quinn. Wade. Rembrandt. Arturo.
Please come back soon.
Sorry your zombie show is in that strange state of being neither living or dead in holding your interest, becoming something you tolerate without any consistent enjoyment.
That's the thing. Did I ever like it? Why did I just finish the second *spinoff* of a show that maybe I never liked? I watched the first season of the Walking Dead when I was traveling for work and had nothing better to do. And I guess I never stopped.
To be fair, I almost never "watch" it. I just have it on for it's running time once a week. I often have to read a recap of what I just watched and often will think "huh, I don't know that character. I wonder if they're a guest character or if they've been on the show 3 seasons."
I quit LOST which I fear will offend you. It wasn't on purpose; I got to Season 4 (I think) and then got busy and then it had been too long to resume where I'd left off, but I didn't have the time or inclination to start over again.
Ha. I think LOST is the best show of all time, and I've watched it several times. But I get it. Lindelof has admitted that they had to spin their wheels in season 3 because the show was too popular to "wrap up." I think there's still intrigue in season 3, and I didn't mind the infamous "how Jack got his tattoos" story. I didn't even mind the inclusion of Nikki and Paolo as "background castaways" that got promoted to the A-Team.
But by season 4, they'd made an agreement with ABC for less episodes (so less filler) and a definitive end date. And after that, the show was a lot stronger. I still like the finale a lot, although I understand why people wouldn't like it. Endings are hard.
THE MATRIX: Spoiler warning but no actual spoilers.
I really enjoyed THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS features the resurrection of Neo and Trinity. I will say, however -- while the explanation for Neo's return is fine since he never actually died onscreen, the explanation for Trinity being alive is nonsensical and effectively non-existent. It is Trinity in the movie. It is not a clone, a digital approximation, a backup file, a simulation based on Neo's memories or an impersonator. It is the same character we met in 1999 played by the same actress who portrayed her in 1999.
I can't spoil how she comes back to life because the movie doesn't actually explain how Trinity survived the events of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS in which she was impaled in an aircraft crash, her internal organs punctured and pulped on impact. THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS provides an explanation for Neo's restoration and puzzlingly declares that Trinity received the same as Neo.
And yet... it doesn't matter in the slightest. Having Trinity back is far more important than offering a cast-iron reason for how she came back. Trinity is one of the greatest fictional characters of science fiction history and one of the greatest representations of female empowerment. Carrie Anne Moss has a gift for playing women who are intensely powerful but emotionally available; Trinity can beat you into the ground and she has a boyfriend and it's not you, but she would be your friend and ally. And RESURRECTIONS does a great job of bringing all that back and showing that our world is better with Trinity resurrected.
I'll do real spoilers so I'll add the tag
I think I liked it? I really don't know. I thought it was well done, and I think "the machines make the Matrix pop culture so that people would never believe it's real" is clever-ish. I think I struggled with a lot of the plot. It's almost too much like the Force Awakens - where it's both a reboot and a sequel. It retreads so much of the Matrix without doing just a ton of new stuff. A lot of the things I found most interesting were mostly ignored.
Like what is "Morpheus" - I don't understand. Does he have any actual Morpheus in him, or is he just a combination of the game version of Morpheus with the game version of Smith? Is he a program? Why does he call himself Morpheus if he's really his own thing?
I don't understand enough about the truce that happened after Revolutions. Was the truce just about Zion and the machines, and the Matrix was left alone? If so, why did the Matrix look so much different afterwards? If the Matrix wasn't affected, why did the Analyst need to change it? Is there still a war going on, or is the truce still alive? Are the humans not supposed to be trying to pull people out? Is Io supposed to exist? Are the machines that are helping the humans traitors to the machines or just part of the truce?
The more I think about it, it's a lot like the Force Awakens. A bunch of things happened in the time between movies, but I guess none of it was all that interesting and we're just back to the status quo?
Spoilers. (Actual spoilers for MATRIX RESURRECTIONS this time.)
The RESURRECTIONS Morpheus is a fictionalized version of the original character. While Neo's memories were suppressed, the Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) allowed those memories to manifest as dreams, nightmares and fantasies that Neo would eventually present to the world in the form of a video game. The RESURRECTIONS Morpheus is the code from that video game having received self-awareness and now attempting to serve purpose of the original Morpheus. The RESURRECTIONS Morpheus is Neo's portrayal of Morpheus, but not an exact copy. Liam Neeson's performance in SCHINDLER'S LIST was a dramatic approxmation of Oskar Schindler, but the two men looked nothing alike.
There is a similar situation with Agent Smith. Originally, Hugo Weaving was supposed to play Agent Smith again in RESURRECTIONS, but the scheduling didn't work out and Lana Wachowski was forced to recast the role with Jonathan Groff. Groff is completely capable of imitating Hugo Weaving and imitates Weaving's voice for a few lines, but then stops doing it. The reason: this version of Agent Smith was reprogrammed to be Neo's employer, Neo's somewhat antagonistic partner, so the Analyst made this version of Smith more casually informal, more personable -- but Groff has flashes of Hugo Weaving's relentless, machinelike hatred and loathing, but it's now blended with a superficially pleasant but innately disdainful contempt for human beings. Groff does a nice job of showing that the original Smith is still in there but with the Analyst's amused humour in the mix.
The truce in REVOLUTIONS was that any redpills who wanted to be freed would be freed; any bluepills who wanted to stay would be kept as power sources. The machines would no longer stop Zion's soldiers from liberating humans from Matrix pods, but any humans who chose to stay in the Matrix would remain. This mass exodus led to the machines losing a large portion of their human batteries. The machines began a civil war with each other, fighting each other for the human batteries that remained. The machine civil war reached Zion, except this time, there were machines that sided with the humans and helped them.
The war ended when the machines dispensed with the Architect's version of the Matrix where humans were leaving. The machines transitioned into the Analyst's version of the Matrix where the Analyst made humans want to stay and reject being awakened. The Analyst created a computer dreamworld where humans became emotionally invested in the quests and goals he would create for them. In Neo's case, his quest was to find Trinity, an unconscious desire that manifested through his Matrix video game. In Trinity's case, she was maneuvered into being invested in her illusory husband and children. With intense emotionality applied to all humans in this version of the Matrix, the Analyst maximized the power output of the human brain (the science here is absurd, of course, because in real life, humans don't really generate that much electricity).
After the war, the machines and humans built the city of IO together. It's unclear if Zion was destroyed or if IO is actually Zion, but renamed after the rebuilding to reflect the machine-human coalition. After all, Starling City became Star City on ARROW.
The reason I am very happy with RESURRECTIONS: it is a response to how the iconography of THE MATRIX has been co-opted by the fascist, alt-right, transphobic, misogynistic, white supremacist segment of our society. On this very Bboard (or some incarnation of it), our old friend Kyle encouraged everyone to view a documentary called THE RED PILL which declared that feminism was trying to put white men and white men's rights into a coma. The red pill has become a symbol for adopting a hatred of women and people of colour and vaccinations -- and calling that hatred a form of self-actualization or empowerment (and maybe it is, but only if you're a privileged white man) and declaring that the world is simply divided into normal and abnormal, red or blue.
This clearly enraged the Wachowskis. The egotistical billionaire Elon Musk who built his wealth on gross exploitation of labourers tweeted, "Take the red pill," referring to -- I dunno what, but Ivanka Trump responded, "Already taken." Lilly Wachowski (who sat RESURRECTIONS out) responded, "Fuck both of you."
RESURRECTIONS is a direct effort to repair the damage done by other hands who've taken THE MATRIX's imagery for their own use. With Lana Wachowski's sequel, 'Thomas Anderson' is working on a game called BINARY that's overbudget and a time sink of nothing. Bugs (the wonderful Jessica Henwick) declares that the red pill/blue pill binary is absurd and that the choice between either is an illusion; the red pill was only ever a symbolic representation someone choosing their own identity. The idea that Neo is innately gifted to be the One in the Matrix is debunked; Neo's ability to manipulate the Matrix code is shown to be a peculiarity in how his brain interprets Matrix code that can only truly be exploited with Trinity's presence and Trinity has the same neural aptitude and can have the same powers so long as Neo and Trinity have the capacity to share them. The division between Neo and Trinity is removed.
In addition, the division between machines and humans is removed; machines can manifest in the real world and some like humans and want to create with them. The RESURRECTIONS Morpheus at one point asks Neo if he wants to stay imprisoned or escape and save Trinity, and remarks, "That's not really a choice." RESURRECTIONS is caustic and irritated with those who have co-opted the imagery of the original movie as the Analyst comments that people believe some truly crazy garbage. RESURRECTIONS has Trinity awaken from the Matrix without even taking a red pill; she makes the choice in who she really is. The red pill never truly mattered as much as the choices and identities around it. The red pill was never about becoming one or the other; it was about engaging with reality and pursuing your own answers in your own way as opposed to signing up for one belief system over another.
In terms of storylines -- yes, I'd agree that RESURRECTIONS has left us closer to the ending of the 1999 MATRIX with Neo and Trinity soaring into the skies with a plan to open everyone's eyes to a world without the control of the machines, but with some progression in showing the IO city where humans and machines are now partners and friends. However, it's not really intended as the start to a new story. Lana Wachowski has said that she views this as a single, standalone entry. The film is presented as an epilogue that provides a happy ending for Trinity and Neo who are restored and re-engaged, and I think this was perhaps preferable to REVOLUTIONS having Trinity dead and Neo probably dead / fate unknown.
Yeah, I liked all that, and I don't have a ton to add. I'm happy for Lana Wachowski, and I think she's done some really good stuff (including Sense8, which I didn't love all of but thought was overall really good). I respected all the character stuff, and I did like a lot about the evolution of the world and the Matrix. The way they did exits and the operator showing up as an avatar and the swarm mode stuff was all really good. I liked that Wachowski took a lot of the iconography and flipped it on its head. Neo doesn't use any guns, and his main power is that forcefield thing. I liked Neo and Trinity's stuff, although it also kinda borrowed from the dyad nonsense of Rise of Skywalker.
Note - I don't think Lana Wachowski stole that or that it was original to Rise of Skywalker
I guess I struggle with these movies (Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Independence Day: Resurgence, this, etc) because there's so much interesting stuff that they have to ignore or brush passed. I'd love to see more adventures with Luke and Leia and Han after Return of the Jedi. I'd love a movie where they show the capture of all the Isla Sorna dinosaurs and the creation/building of Jurassic World. I read a midquel Independence Day novel.
I know that these people have a story to tell, and it can't get bogged down in midquel stuff. But it's usually the midquel stuff that I wanted in the first place when a movie is told 20 years after the first. So it's not really a problem with any of those movies (except for ID4 Resurgence, where the midquel book is better than the movie), but just a preference issue with me. Unless they want to make a 4 hour movie. Which I'd probably watch.
the science here is absurd, of course, because in real life, humans don't really generate that much electricity
The science of The Matrix was always absurd. If the machines were truly after the best organic battery they'd use something that's easier to control and generates more heat and electricity than a human, like a goat. The only reason to use humans is retribution, to punish humans for the war their ancestors waged against the machines, which assumes an emotional framework the machines really shouldn't have.
From the beginning, it simply just should've been that the machines were keeping humans in the Matrix as a means of pacification. The whole "using them as batteries" hasn't ever come up, I don't think. It might actually be interesting to have a movie where they targeted specific humans to shut down the power to some sort of secure area. Like some sort of heist film.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I desperately need to know what Slider_Quinn21 thinks of DEXTER: NEW BLOOD.
I have never seen a single episode of DEXTER. I have never even seen the cover to the books. All I know about DEXTER is that
(a) my sister seemed to like it
(b) my writing mentor seemed to love it and
(c) the original showrunner walked off the show halfway into Season 1 and told me how much he hated the show this one time I served him two shots of vodka at the bar that would undoubtedly have fired me if not for me finding another job elsewhere.
I urgently require Slider_Quinn21 to tell me what he thought of it. I will seriously PayPal Slider_Quinn21 the money to buy a month of Showtime (streaming) so that he can watch it and tell us all what he thinks of it here.
I'm not kidding here. I need to know. Will you take it, Slider_Quinn21? Will you rise to the challenge?
Hahahaha, that's awesome.
Let me see what I can do.
Hunnh. It looks like you can get a month of free Showtime just for signing up. You can watch the ten episodes of DEXTER: NEW BLOOD in a month, right? Well, regardless, email me your PayPal address and I will PayPal you twenty whole American dollars to watch DEXTER: NEW BLOOD and tell us all about it here. My soul simply can't rest without knowing what you thought of the belated conclusion I have never seen to a show that I have never seen.
Haha, your money is no good here. I'll get it done
I don't know if I've written about this here or not, but I have an idea for how I'd do James Bond. They're going to redo it, and I can think of only three options:
1) Set in the 60s and tell fun, Roger Moore-like stories. Gadgets and humor and fun. None of Craig's seriousness. Just a Raiders of the Lost Ark popcorn movie with James Bond every couple years.
2) Old Bond. Like 60s or 70s. Get some younger MI6 agents but Bond is more of a mentor. We've seen "older" Bond, but we've never seen "I can't be in the field, but I can try to help". We've never seen it but obviously it has a short shelf life.
3) My idea. Which they can have for free if they ever see this.
A multimedia experience. Since Amazon owns Bond now, you do a show on Amazon Prime with events in the movies. You sign everyone for 8 10-episode seasons and 4 movies. Two seasons. Then a movie. And you tell the story from beginning to end in multiple formats. The show could feature flashbacks to Bond's youth, leading him from the death of his parents to him joining MI6 (like Arrow, taking him from the shipwreck to off the island). Build up tension, build up character, and build up plot. Then every two years, you ratchet it up to a movie.
The flashbacks can allow for the actor playing Bond to film the movies without having to take a ton of time away from the show.
We haven't seen anything like this, and Amazon is (fairly) uniquely suited to do it. Like Game of Thrones, get mostly unknowns and lock them in for an epic that will take 10+ years to complete.
Disclaimer: I despise James Bond and think he has about as much to offer the twenty-first century as the feather pen. His appeal was that he presented a men's magazine fantasy that is based on consumerism, status symbols, imperlalism, the commodification of women, and white privilege.
That said, Slider_Quinn21 is really onto something because the recent run of Daniel Craig movies would have worked a lot better as a TV series rather than a set of feature films. CASINO ROYALE found a take on James Bond that was true to Bond's cinematic roots. CASINO ROYALE presents Bond as a violent thug, an assassin, a ruthless man in the amoral field of espionage whose 'heroism' is that he's employed by the Western world and by (nominally) democratic governments. But then he has to infiltrate a financial conspiracy for child soldiers and Bond needs a false identity. He has to conceal his bruiser's bearing and savage nature in the guise of a wealthy gentleman, a pleasure-seeking playboy, a high society image of masculinity. He has to adopt a secret identity.
This is a take on Bond that (a) presents the (toxic) male fantasy (garbage) and (b) has sufficient self-awareness. And if CASINO ROYALE had been the first season of a TV show, this theme of Bond having a dual persona, a dual identity, and neither being particularly healthy or admirable would have sustained an entire series.
This run of Bond movies also attempted running plotlines: for the first time in Bond's history, his movie had a direct sequel. Bond encounters the mysterious Quantum organization and then focuses on taking them down in QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Unfortunately, due to a writer's strike, the QUANTUM OF SOLACE script was unfinished, unrefined and simply a collection of empty setpieces. The sense of Bond's dual identity was not mantained for this film. The Quantum organization was not presented with any clarity and it was confusing as to whether they'd been defeated or not by the end of the film. The Quantum organization would have worked a lot better in a TV show.
Then we have SKYFALL which is a great movie that doesn't acknowledge the Quantum organization at all (so we're to take it that they were defeated in QUANTUM OF SOLACE). This movie focuses on whether or not Bond's brand of espionage is still relevant -- a bizarre question because espionage in real life is not a James Bond movie. Regardless, SKYFALL is a great standalone adventure and yet, seems to be building to a sequel: it ends with a recreation of Bond entering the MI-6 headquarters as seen in the first Bond film, stepping past a padded door, greeting Moneypenny, and entering a mission briefing from his superior, M. While not sequelizing the elements from the previous two films, SKYFALL ends like it's a end of a pilot episode of a TV show.
Then comes SPECTRE which really would have worked better as a 10 - 13 episode season of a TV show. Bond discovers that the events of the previous three movies were plotted by a single organization that encompasses Quantum, an organization called Spectre. Bond discovers that this organization is headed by his foster brother, Blofeld. Bond defeats Spectre and Blofeld in the very same movie in which Spectre and Blofeld were introduced, making the supposed scale of their villainy quite small. Had the Spectre organization been built up over a season and then defeated, it would have seemed more meaningful. SPECTRE also presents the love interest Madeleine as a significant and meaningful romance when they barely have any connection onscreen; it's a relationship that would have worked better across multiple episodes rather than one film.
And then we have NO TIME TO DIE which is a TV show's series finale and would have worked a lot better had there actually been 30 - 50 episodes before it as opposed to four. NO TIME TO DIE insists that Bond and Felix Leiter have a close bond of friendship when they barely spoke to each other in CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE and Felix wasn't even in SKYFALL or SPECTRE. NO TIME TO DIE depends on Madeleine being the (second?) most significant woman in James Bond's life based on some fairly forgettable romantic scenes in SPECTRE. NO TIME TO DIE thinks that Blofeld is the most frightening demon in Bond's past when Bond was barely aware of Blofeld until the middle of the previous film.
All this -- the dual identity approach, Quantum, Spectre, Felix and Madeleine -- would have worked better as a TV show.
Haha, your money is no good here. I'll get it done
Four months later, Slider_Quinn21 has yet to review the DEXTER mini-series and tell me what he thinks of it. I think I know what the problem is. I set the price too low. $20 USD was simply not enough. Slider_Quinn21, I now offer you $25 American dollars to watch the DEXTER mini-series and tell us what you thought of it!
I think I saw that it's on Amazon Prime? I'll have to check that out. I'll get it done, especially as many of the shows I'm currently watching are about to be over/on hiatus.
I've finished the first episode of Dexter: New Blood. I thought it was interesting. I would've liked a little more understanding of how he's kept himself "clean" for the last few years, but I thought it was a good reintroduction to the premise. I'm interested to see more. Looks like the first episode was the only one available on Amazon Prime but I'll pay the $12 to get the rest of the season.
I'm not sure I have an up to date email address for you, but if you will supply it, I will PayPal you the $12. I need to know what you thought of this series that I have never, ever, ever watched. I just need to know. My soul won't rest without receiving your perspective of a series you brought up in passing once when discussing Netflix's THE PUNISHER.
I already bought it. I just need to watch it
Top Gun Maverick was awesome.
I loved how they leaned into nostalgia. And beyond that, the film.
Free streaming service Tubi has both the miniseries done for Childhood's End and Andromeda Strain.
SyFy did childhoods end not sure who did the other but both look solid.