I’m the subject of an entry in Wikipedia!
Neil Gaiman is under the illusion that people wouldn’t want to see an all-rabbit caper movie set in a chocolate factory.
The number two film at the box office this weekend is 300, a CGI-heavy adaptation of the Frank Miller comic book work.
The number one film at the box office this weekend is TMNT, a CGI-heavy adaptation of a parody of Frank Miller’s comic book work.
What are the odds that the robots spend a lot of time walking through hallways while talking?
Episode 2, and Raines has already gotten sloppy.
I’m halfway through it, and not only have I gotten through the first few minutes of heavy and hamhanded exposition, I’ve also seen a bunch of characters that don’t feel true.
The msot blatant one is the police sketch artist, who:
- Starts of by talking with someone about how he doesn’t do comic books, he does graphic novels. I write comics. I publish comics. I’m the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel. I’ve talked with at least hundreds of creators of such materials over the year. Have yet to hear a one of them make that distinction about what they’re willing to do.
- Pulls up as an example of “comics” Richie Rich, and as graphic novels, Dark Knight and Sandman. Well, yes, Richie Rich is (well, was) a comic book. So was Sandman – later collected into volumes, and yes carrying a story across multiple issues, but most comics do. And Dark Knight (really, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) can be called a graphic novel (serialized, but it has been seen more collected in a single volume), but if you’re going to be snotty about what you do, you probably won’t use as your example a Batman story.
- When drawing the perp, he ends up drawing Erik Estrada, and gets picked on for having only that one image of Latinos. He’s a police artist in Los Angeles. According to the 2005 census, Los Angeles is 46.8% of Latino or Hispanic origin.
I was hoping this series would build well from its pilot. But perhaps the pilot will be the pinnacle it will never achieve again. I hope to find otherwise. Graham Yost, I expect a lot of you.
There was an interesting bellwether in the campaign season: this Sunday’s “Prickly City”. Remember, this is a strip usually labeled as one of the batch of strips supported as a conservative alternative to Doonesbury (although more creative than the other entries in this category), and it seems obvious that the cartoonist is making a personal statement here. Just one man’s opinion (and a cartoonist, to boot), but it does make a statement.
Lately, I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Senator Obama’s book. No, not The Audacity of Hope, his earlier volume Dreams from My Father, about his family and background. The man had impressed me before with his speeches, but I find this book makes me more impressed… not merely because it’s an interesting thing to listen to, but because it exists at all. This book is from 1995, before he was involved in politics. Most books from politicians come across as blatant attempts to court voters, and are likely written mostly by folks besides their “authors”. That Obama wrote a book at all, and a serious and considered book at that, speaks well to me.
I’m not saying that there aren’t reasonable questions about his level of experience and his ability to make effective use of the Oval Office, even questions of his policies once he gets passed some well-intentioned generalities… but so far, I’ve seen a number of reasons to believe I’d like this guy, and no reason to assume I wouldn’t.
When mentioning Laverne & Shirley in one of my posts the other day, I wondered about Penny Marshall, who had had a pretty substantial career as a movie director for a while, but whom I hadn’t seen a directing credit for recently (IMDB says nothing since 2001’s Riding in Cars with Boys.) Turns out she and her L&S co-stars are playing themselves in a new series for TV Land. (Ignore the reports claims that they haven’t worked together since Laverne & Shirley; they worked together on an L&S reunion show fairly recently, which had a new scene where the two of them competed on an action-packed game show. (Either that, or I’m totally imagining it; this special doesn’t show up on a quick internet search. Am I going nuts?)
Still, it’s interesting that Penny will play herself in a fiction context again, as we’ve seen before in Searching For Comedy In The Muslim World and Get Shorty.
I finally got around to seeing the premiere of The Riches, or at least as much as the ReplayTV recorded before noting the end of the hour, a limitation that the show itself did not recognize.
When I hear it’s about a family of con artists, who find themselves living in the house of rich-but-dead folks and passing themselves off as the owners, I expect it’s going to be fun stuff full of tricky cons and near-exposure. Instead, it’s a desperate and dark piece about a family which comes from a violent and thieving culture, showing the vast damage that this does to themselves and to the world around them. Not much fun there. And as a drama, at least the hour I saw didn’t delve into the real questions of identity.
I don’t have anything deep to say here. It was unpleasant to watch, and occasional it seems to be wanting to head toward interesting and then veering away into the ugly instead (it’s an FX show; they seem to specialize in ugly). I don’t think I’ll be luxuriating in The Riches any more.
The use of period music can be vary handy, for setting flashbacks in the right time in a viewer’s mind, for really evoking the era.
But (and this is a big but, a badonk-a-donk but) it has to be from the right era. Sometimes you can tell when a script has taken a few years to reach the screen, such as the film 13 Going On 30, where all of the music is a few years older than it oughta be.
But then there’s the inexplicable use of music on October Road, the new ABC drama which is right up against the new show Raines. We open with a flashback to 1996. In part of this flashback, folks in roughly the 18-20 year age range are playing air guitar. To what? A song from the eponymous album by the band Boston. That’s right, they’re jamming to music from 1976. Yeah, those teens, always into the music from the day they were born. (When we see the same guys air guitaring in the present day, it’s to “The Boys are Back in Town”, the Thin Lizzy tune from, yes, 1976.)
Now it’s not impossible that these guys are into music from that period, but it if you’re trying to make the story clear, go with the proper period music unless you have a reason to do otherwise.
And they seal it in with a character born in 1978 making a reference to REO Speedwagon, a band that peaked she was 2.
And then we have a kid born around 1996 making a Laverne & Shirley reference. Now when the writer grew up, he probably watched a lot of a decade-or-two-old sitcoms. I did. But the kids today, they have a bunch of channels built just for them. They’re not watching Laverne & Shirley (which isn’t even airing these days on any channel I get).
All this made it hard to suspend disbelief in this drama.
The show is about a writer going from New York to a small town. (It’s temporarily taking the time slot of Men In Trees, which is a show about a writer going to a small town. And it’s up against Raines, which is a series about a guy who wanted to be a writer. Please, my fellow writers, if we cannot make our heroes anything but writers, then we aren’t good at what we do!) In this case, he’s returning to the home town that he trashed in his best-selling novel, seeing the friends he based his characters on, including the woman he abandoned a decade back (and meeting her ten year old kid).
He finds a world populated by people whose lives have gone on without really changing them. All in all, a reasonable dramatic set-up, and ‘hey, there are worse people to look at than The ’70’s Show‘s Laura Prepon. But the execution leaves much to be desired. Much of the dialog is forced and precious, and points are hammered in with a sledgehammer.
Nothing incurable, though.
I hadn’t read the articles about Raines. All I’d heard was that it was about a detective who talks to murder victims, and despite the unique presence of Jeff Goldblum, I was not looking forward to another Medium.
So the show opens up with a voiceover, with Goldblum’s Raines explaining how he had wanted to be a writer of crime fiction, and as he discuss the decisions that a writer must make, we see a murder scene that (in special effects wizardry) is constantly shifting to reflect what he’s talking about. And it’s all nicely done, and getting my attention, and stylistically it’s tickling something in the back of my brain…
And then the name of the series creator pops up. Graham Yost. The man behind the excellent Boomtown, a series that reveled in storytelling. Oh, okay.
And then the name of the director pops up. It’s Frank Darabont, you know, director of The Shawshank Redemption among some other fine (and some merely well-intentioned) work. So you know I’m interested.
As the show goes on, it becomes clear that my worst concerns won’t be realized. Raines doesn’t talk to ghosts. No justification of the psychic detective cons in this show. He is having imaginary conversations with who he perceived the victim to be… his victim doesn’t know anything he doesn’t. It’s a way of showing the mental process of detection, while showing our detective to be on the outer edge of sanity at best.
This isn’t to say that everything is smooth. I think there’ll be some shakedown time to this show as they figure out just how much time he should spend talking to the murder victim and all of what they can do with it; there was some very good usage this time out, but overall there was probably too much. They might want to spend more time with the other charactersinvolved in the murder… particularly if they assemble the good cast which we saw this time. Just as one-time players, they used Valerie Mahaffey (who we’ve been grooving on here going back to The Powers That Be) and that guy who played the sensitive teacher on My So-Called Life… and, for us Boomtown fans, they not only had Mikelti Williamson, but he was playing his Boomtown character (something that was easily missed since they only referred to him as “Detective Smith” here, rather than his nickname “Fearless” which he used on that show.) Yes, a Graham Yost universe is born!