I loved the new Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Trying to fill in gaps between two established trilogies is a tall order and they do it really well. But it raises some interesting questions about when Star Wars is willing to take risks and how much they listen to fans.
Spoiler alert: I’m going to spill it all, so you’ve been warned.
Continue reading Star Wars Has Guts (Sometimes): Obi-Wan Kenobi Series
Thanksgiving weekend the Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life came out on Netflix. We watched the entire thing (7 hours?) in one day.
It’s a fascinating bit of pop culture and TV fun that a beloved show that ended nearly a decade ago can come back for another hurrah.
As part of all the hoopla surrounding the show’s release, I came across some comments from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino that has me scratching my head. She’s responding to the constant fervor about the dating life of Rory Gilmore and whether she ends up with Jess or Dean. She laments that people aren’t more focused on Rory’s professional career:
Sometimes I wish that the Dean and Jess thing weren’t so prominent because in the grand scheme of Rory’s life, who her boyfriend was when she was 16 years old is such a small event. … I don’t see people debating “What newspaper is Rory’s working for?” “Did she win a Pulitzer yet?” It’s all about Dean and Jess.
Um… people are obsessed with the romantic angle because that’s how you wrote the show. Continue reading Gilmore Girls: Why Is It All the Boys? Because You Wrote It That Way
The quirky sitcom How I Met Your Mother ended its nine-year run this week, finally revealing who the mother was. My wife and I started watching the show after the second season, usually on weekend DVD-binges. It’s become our go-to comedy and re-watched countless times.
So the end is always bittersweet. Most finales are a letdown (except for Buffy) and this one is worst than most. The only thing that softens the blow is that it was going downhill for the last few seasons.
When we get this attached to a TV show, we usually need to process the end. That’s why there are so many articles to digest. We fans need a little therapy.
I was going to write my own take, but it’s all been said better than I can say it, so let’s just point to a few more insightful gems and offer a few last comments to say goodbye to a pretty great (until the end) TV show.
SPOILERS follow (duh). Continue reading A Little Therapy After the How I Met Your Mother Finale
I’ve realized lately the entertainment industry is undergoing a pretty radical shift.
OK, so this isn’t ground-breaking territory. But I’m seeing the implications in my daily life much more than I have before.
So there are a few ways to get entertainment content, which vary slightly depending on medium:
- Experience – You go somewhere and you experience your entertainment. This happens primarily with music and movies. You go somewhere and either watch a movie or see a concert. You’re paying for a one-time experience. I suppose this method has pre-dated all technology.
- Broadcast – The entertainment is free, but you have to watch ads. This is the commercial-supported model of TV and radio. Again, you’re only getting a one-time experience.
- Ownership – As media has become cheaper and smaller, ownership has become a relatively recent option. You can purchase your entertainment in your preferred medium and enjoy it as long as you like.
- Subscription – This is the newest model championed by Netflix and Hulu Plus for movies/TV and Spotify for music, among others. You pay a monthly fee and get access to a nearly endless archive of on-demand music, TV and movies.
Continue reading Ownership vs. Subscription Economy
I was writing a big long entry about LOST but it just seems kind of dumb. So instead I’ll offer a few quick, mostly spoiler-free thoughts.
- Like most new TV, I ignored LOST when it first came out. But my first real exposure to it came when I was a youth group leader at my church and one of the kids would rush out the door as soon as youth group was over so he could get home in time to watch the show. It seems kind of funny now, but this was pre-Hulu and all our online watching. The show was that captivating.
- I later got hooked when a few former coworkers were chatting up LOST and I realized I had to stop waiting for the DVD and catch up on the show. Serialized television can be kind of frustrating, but when they really work like LOST, it’s addictive.
- Near the end the writers made a point of explicitly telling us they weren’t going to answer all our questions. At one point they even worked it into the show’s dialogue. They’re the writers, it’s their show, they can do whatever they want. But you know what? Screw you. Egging people along for six years with mysteries you had no intention of answering is cruel.
- At the same time, claiming your enjoyment of the show is now a waste because they didn’t answer your questions or didn’t tie it up the way you like is ridiculous. Yes, answers and the ending will color how we view the entire series, but that doesn’t negate your initial enjoyment of watching the show. The ‘oh my gosh what is down the hatch’ feeling I had in the beginning is in no way diminished by how the show ended. If you claim LOST wasted your life, then you never enjoyed it in the first place.
- In the end I think LOST was really about the characters and not the plot or the mystery, which I think explains your take on the ending. If you were all about the characters, you probably loved it. If you were all about the mystery and what the heck is the island, you were probably disappointed. I enjoyed the ending for what it was, but I think long ago I subconsciously realized LOST wasn’t going to resolve the mysteries.
- I love how the show made fun of itself. For all the seriousness of the characters and the mystery, the show still had a sense of humor about it. The best were perhaps when Hurley and Miles debated time travel or when Kate openly mocked the name “Christian Shepherd.”
- [FINALE SPOILER WARNING] One thing I’d really like to see: A wacky comic book spinoff of Hurley and Ben’s time as protectors of the island. Somebody get on that. (Rumor is we might get to see a glimpse of Hurley and Ben as protectors of the island on the DVD extras, but that’s not the same. I want to see comic book Hurley giving comic book Ben a noogie and everyone laughing it up.)
Yeah, that was still long. Well, you should have seen the first draft.
So Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is canceled. At least Fox will let the season end, airing the remaining episodes and giving the show a proper, if early, finale. Another sci-fi show wasn’t so lucky. ABC canceled Defying Gravity just as it was getting good, though the remaining episodes in the season were allowed to air in Canada. U.S. fans will have to either find the pirated versions online or wait for a DVD release to see how season one played out. Thankfully Defying Gravity creator James Parriott shared online how the show would have progressed beyond that first season.
Those are just two quick examples of current network cancellations, though the airwaves are littered with shows cut down before they could tell their stories.
In this DVR, DVD, on-demand age I wonder if networks are only hurting themselves. Many viewers are getting to a point where they won’t commit to these long story-arc shows until they know it’s going to last. Why get wrapped up in a story line if it could potentially be canceled? Some people are opting to wait for a show to run its course before checking it out on DVD. It would help if networks could pick a show and stick with it. But maybe fans need to start demanding it. Maybe we should refuse to watch a show unless it has a two-season commitment. It’s not how Hollywood works, but maybe show creators should refuse to do a show unless they can get a multi-season commitment.
It’s unheard of, but it sure beats unrealized story arcs and half-revealed plots.
Joss Whedon, the creative mind behind such compelling TV as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog has a new show debuting tonight. It’s called Dollhouse and is about these secret agent types who sign up to have their memory wiped and reinstalled with whatever scenario a client pays for. Or something like that. It all sounds kind of sinister and creepy.
Which sounds just like Joss Whedon (who told NPR, “I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place.”).
I’m eager to see the new show, but I’m keeping my expectations low. Primarily because it shares more than a few similarities with another Whedon show that got canceled after half a season. Firefly also aired on Friday nights, also on Fox, and also had the pilot episode mucked with. But I’m also keeping expectations low because this is TV and good TV often takes a little time to find its footing. The first season of Buffy (yet another half season) is pretty rocky. The Firefly pilot had wonderful moments, but also feels like its entire two-hour run time. Pilot episodes are rarely perfect.
But I’m more than willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Update: My 140-character or less Twitter review: “Dollhouse was good. Intense & a little creepy (Joss trademarks), but not much funny. Not much of a pilot ep either, felt like a normal ep.”
To make your Christmas bright I humbly offer the Star Wars Holiday Special. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an exercise in complete and utter awfulness. Released in 1978 months before Empires Strikes Back hit theaters and never seen again, the two-hour film centers on Chewbacca’s family and their celebration of holiday called Life Day.
Among other gems the film includes:
- The first ten minutes include about nine minutes of nothing but Wookie dialogue.
- Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, enjoying a “fantasy” experience that kind of resembles a porno.
- A performance by Jefferson Starship, complete with a microphone that resembles a lightsaber.
- Carrie Fisher singing.
I could go on. For all the negatives, the holiday special does include the first appearance of Boba Fett (unless you count that dumb added scene with Jabba the Hutt in the special edition version of A New Hope), in cartoon form no less!
You can’t really understand how awful it is until you’ve seen it. For anyone who complains about Episodes I-III, the Star Wars Holiday Special is proof that you should have expected something awful from George Lucas. At least even Lucas regrets the special.
And now, the Star Wars Holiday Special:
Part 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11
(These videos tend to disappear from YouTube, so you might just have to search for them.)
For more holiday special fun, check out the Rifftrax from the Mystery Science Theater guys. For more Star Wars hilarity, check out my Goofy Star Wars lens on Squidoo for a Star Wars guest spot on The Muppet Show.
Entertainment Weekly released lists of the top 100 movies, TV shows, albums and books of the last 25 years. It’s kind of interesting to check out the lists and see how many of the top picks I’ve seen/listened to/read:
- Movies: 42/100
- TV Shows: 28/100
- Music: 10/100
- Books: 9/100
Keeping reading for disclaimers and inane insights.
Continue reading The Top 100 Movies/TV Shows/Music/Books I Don’t Enjoy
This week Abby showed Lexi some old school Sesame Street clips on YouTube. Lexi loved them—especially the YipYipYipYipYip monsters. So I decided we’d try watching some Sesame Street when it was on PBS. I’m usually not big on watching TV with Lexi, but an hour of very educational TV has been better than I thought it’d be.
Though Sesame Street has changed a lot from when I was a kid (duh). Yesterday’s show was brought to you by the letter M and the number 20. And McDonalds, Beaches Resort, EverydayKidz.com (AstraZeneca), New Balance and Earth’s Best. Each sponsor (except for M and 20) had a 15 or 20 second commercial plug at the beginning and end of the show. I remember underwriters getting a logo and a mention, and that was it.
And while it has changed (and Elmo’s World is enough to drive anyone crazy), Sesame Street does still have classic moments:
Elmo: “What’s it like being a yo-yo?” Yo-yo: “Well, it has its ups and downs.” Yuck, yuck, yuck. Then as the yo-yo left: “I’ve got to go walk the dog.”
Then there was the sketch about Jack be nimble who couldn’t jump over the candlestick because he didn’t eat breakfast. So he calls out: “Mom be nimble, mom be quick, please give me breakfast on the quick!” I love breakfast time.
The Count watching his favorite TV show: 24. Each show is only 24 seconds long and consists of counting to 24. And yes, it did feature a puppet Jack Bauer.
It also kind of weirds me out that Muppet characters sound like Sesame Street characters. Kermit sounds just like Ernie, Miss Piggy sounds like Grover and Fozzie sounds like Bert. And yes, Jim Henson (and now Steve Whitmire) voices both Kermit and Ernie, and Frank Oz voices Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie and Bert. It’s strange that the kids never catch on—though you never see those characters together.