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Pet Peeve: Character Clichés

07.07.2016

Today I decided to check out a new show, Dark Matter.

It has fairly good ratings/reviews. Got through half an episode and turned it off, bored. But that's not the reason for this post. The reason is a mini-rant.

Seeing how I aspire to be a writer, this might not be the smartest post to post as I might well be guilty of all the things I accuse this show of. I would hope I'm not, but it's always the hardest to see faults in your own work. So, if that's the case...

Hello Pot! I'm Kettle. How's your day going, bro? ^^

 
 

Truthfully though, some of character clichés are simply difficult to avoid and sometimes they just truly, truly WORK.  I also happens that they're completely unnecessary, but they're pulled out just so delightfully well that they become a guilty viewing/reading pleasure and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Looking at you, steaming hot pirates, adorable nerds, evil-but-good vampires, sexy vixens...

In this case though... nope. Not for me.

Perhaps the plot is good, maybe the characters get developed well, I don't know. I can't judge that and I won't say a bad word about the story itself, because I didn't get to it. Could be totally great. But those who say that the opening pages/minutes can sometimes be the most important part of the story are right. The beginning can be the give-it-a-try/give-it-a-rest for the audience. I give Dark Matter a rest.

So, the premise: six people wake up on a spaceship with no memory of who they are or why they're there. Okay, here goes:

#1 One dude wakes up. He finds the ship's bridge. Wants to look around. Suddenly a woman bursts in and starts kicking his ass randomly. She succeeds in kicking his ass. He stays down. She fixes the ship. Dude gets up asking "what was that for?" she says "you were in the way."

Like, what? Seriously? I am SO SICK AND TIRED of shoehorning strong badass women everywhere. But usually the creators at least have a decency to make it logical. Not "Oh, we need a scene of a hot woman kicking a dude's ass. I know! They are both confused and have no memory so instead of asking what's up, let's have her fight him so she can throw in a badass one-liner and then we'll consider moving on with logic!"

Frankly, the next person that comes into the room asks them who they are.

Funnily enough, the chick is later portrayed as the reasonable and cool-headed one unlike some other dude who could indeed logically burst into the room and attack the first fella. But he's not a hot chick so.

#2 Characters... men, there's plenty of ways you can build characters, mix and match stuff, surprise the viewer, or just make them feel real and not cut out of cardboard. Maybe these get better later, but I honestly don't have the patience nor the time to invest in this show with what it showed me at start.

a) there's the aforementioned hot-badass chick

b) there's the soft mellow fellow who is also the first one to have woken up and obviously smells of being the protagonist (I don't mind, I prefer weaker protagonists, it makes their struggles more interesting to me)

c) there's the tough-brainless guy who just wants to shoot guns, picks up the biggest one and hopes he'll get to shoot some enemies ASAP

d) there's a token black guy who so far has literally 0 personality

e) there's an Asian fellow who found a room with katanas and other melee weapons (in the age of spaceships and laser guns) and started swinging them around making a fighting show for like a minute of screen time. Probably so that the mellow guy can answer his question of "can you use these" saying "i take that as a yes" after the Asian fellow ends his sword dance with swords by the mellow guy's throat. Because that's what you do when you both don't have your memories and know nothing about one another.

f) and there's of course the cutesy chick with colored hair who's already being shown as a 101% genius brilliant doctor who was super happy about completing some quirky puzzle box for no reason

I just... no.

#3 Oh, and then there's an android woman who is in theory an andoid and most of the time replies to things like a machine should, but then suddenly has a snarky reply out of the blue. Not to mention inconsistencies.

There's an enemy ship approaching and the android goes "Yes, but I don't think they mean to offer assistance", then the crew lady says "why not?" and android answers "because they just fired missiles". Like, I'd imagine a robot would say "the enemy ship fired missiles our way" not engage in a back-and-forth banter.

Mind you I'm saying it because she's previously shown to only answer straighforwardly to questions and use full and organized sentences even if the question is repeated and she's repeating her answer.

Or maybe I'm just too old and fussy.

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What if a Musical and a TV show had a
love child?

12.04.2016

My answer? It would be awesome! And this post will not be about Glee ;)

Hello again!

I thought about making my first post-return post about the affair going on around Baldur's Gate, because it's no secret I love and worship the game, but I don't feel like ranting today. Or thinking much. So instead, I'm going to sing (hehe) praises.

Some time ago I've discovered two TV shows that to me were a breath of fresh air for a variety of reasons. And yes, those shows include musical numbers! One more than the other, but I think they're both pretty damn cool and I'd love to recommend them to any random passerby who might stumble upon this blog.

First of them is Galavant. I guess when it comes to the plot it belongs to the same genre Shrek does - it's a parody of fantasy tropes and stories. It's a bit more ribald (and I'm back to thinking about BG... ;P) than Shrek was, for sure, but compared to some other shows on TV today it's still on the safe side.

My first impression of the show was "Oh man, this cliche? AND singing? Meh... maybe another time." Then, another time came and I gave it more than 1 minute, and by minute 3 I was loving it. It only got better. The tropes are deconstructed, like in a proper parody, the characters are likeable and funny. And, importantly, the show doesn't take itself seriously. It was so clear to me that everyone involved in its creation was simply having fun. It made me laugh out loud several times, it had witty twists, it connected the medieval fantasy setting with contemporary issues/opinions in a hilarious ways and the songs were simply funny. Seeing Lassitter from Psych in the role of the king made it all the better for me and the similarities between the two characters added a comedic depth. That's a personal impression, obviously :)

I'm glad Galavant got second season, and I'm glad they finished it in a very satisfying way. But fingers crossed for another surprise renewal!

The second show is one I thought would be too stupid to watch based on the premise, but after Jane the Virgin I know to never make my judgment after a silly-lookin premise alone or I might miss out on a great deal of joy. This one is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and is actually a surprisingly warm comedy, sometimes on a goofy side, but all in all an entertaining watch. I would definitely say that songs are the forte of this show.

 

You know how there are jokes in sitcoms that are sometimes uncomfortable or too-close-to-truth not to make someone uncomfortable or wrinkle their nose? This show takes such jokes and situations and turns them into musical numbers! I love it. They're quirky, they're surprising, they can be rude or way too honest (in a good way if you ask me :D), and it's just SO refreshing, so different than other things on TV. I fear it might be too different to survive past the first season, but I'll be hopeful.

I also have to say some of the songs are actually pretty damn fine when it comes to the tune and performance, which is not something I'd expect of a TV show that's not focused on music (like Glee or Smash). "Settle for Me" is still somewhere at the back of my head. Cruelly catchy.

Compared to the Galavant it has fewer songs - there are just two per episode.

If you're not bothered by brash jokes and are looking for a new comedy that doesn't just rehash old tired jokes and situations using new characters, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go :)

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Designated love interests, childhood
friends, forced tragedy

12.05.2015

What is this, you ask? Well, let me tell you! It's a rant. Everyone needs a good rant every now and then. This particular rant is sponsored by the ending of the TV show Revenge, but that's obviously not the only thing guilty of those things that irk me here :)

This post is full of spoilers. Obviously.



First things first though - the first season of Revenge was a huge fun, and as far as I can remember, so were the two following ones, but for me, the show got worse with time. The logic took a vacation, the loopholes were just too many, and the army of Deus Ex Machinas called in would be enough to defeat a legion of honey badgers. Probably. I'm not taking bets there.



But there was always Nolan and Victoria. Even when David joined the cast (I'm sorry, but his acting to me was comparable to Henry's in Once Upon a Time... They could've just casted Pinokio for the role if they wanted some good wood), those two carried the show for me.

~*~

All in all the show had its better and worst sides, but the one that irked me the most was Jack.

Why? Because I was really happy to see that the show DID NOT go with the "childhood love = true love" thing, but decided to go a more realistic (and frankly, far more interesting) route. I was sure they escaped that horrible cliche, and then in the last season it turned out that I was tricked... and every Deus Ex Machina left in the world was brought onto the stage to make the tru loff happen.

I skipped their romance scenes. I skipped them like I skipped the flash-forwards from HIMYM's last episode, because I didn't want to cry - not from sadness this time, but from frustration and excessive eye-rolling.

There's a significant difference between a couple that knows each other from childhood, and turns from friends into lovers, and can't imagine their lives without one another, and a couple of friends who get separated at what, 7 years old or something for the following two decades, and yet MUST END TOGETHER CAUSE TRUE LOVE!! Why? Because they played with the same dog! And they had a child-wedding with rubber bands. I had a child wedding in my kindergarten times with my best friend. I can't remember his name.

My favorite partner for Emily? Maybe Aiden. It made sense, they had chemistry. It worked. But yea, let's kill him instead for the dramas. Well, all right, it's a motive for revenge and the show's called Revenge. I get it. As long the reason is plot, not removing obstacles standing before the TRU LOFF can happen.

Daniel? They could go back to being together after everything that happened if the writers played it smart. I love love love seeing complicated relationships with past that makes them difficult and with real obstacles to overcome. I love when it requires thinking out of the box and reaching into the characters' depths to understand why they work. This had potential, SO much potential. More than Aiden, because here, there was some really tricky background, and the evolution of Emily and Daniel's characters that would lead to them being together would be fascinating to watch. By the end of Daniel's life on the show, there were scenes that made it look plausible. It could happen. And it'd be great.

But you know what? Better kill him off. Cause there's Jack waiting! And they had a dog when they were kids, and the dog is dead now ;( So, ya kno.

What about Ben? Well, Ben was nothing really interesting. At first he annoyed me, but he grew up on me somewhat. Still far better than Jack, but he was kind of meh compared to the other options (plot-wise).

But you know what? Let's make Emily behave irrationally so the relationship is gone and she can FINALLY be with Jack! Yea yea yea! They had been gathering sea-shells together, after all, NO?!

And in the end Emily and Jack got married. I don't know, to me, there was absolutely no chemistry between them, NOTHING that would make me root for them. I'd have liked it better if Emily just died with Victoria, it would've been more poetic for sure. Though wouldn't make it much better since by then the True Love was already in action.

I've read on Facebook that there was even a new dog by the end. Probably with the same name. Cause, ya kno. Feels.

I think that if from season one the show showed Emily and Jack trying to get together, and hadn't thrown much more interesting relationships into the mix, I would be less mad. Because I wouldn't be simply disappointed. It was the fact that they led me to believe that they would show me that they are not going to go by those romantic comedy rules that made the turn so bitter.

~*~

So then, what about the forced tragedy? Well, imagine this:

There's tragic life, long fight back to regain what was lost, then miraculous reunion, followed by a bunch more drama and fighting for life and revenge and love and everything and then few episodes before the show finale, it seems that something worked out. All right!

Wait, what? No, that's just silly.

Random cancer plot! Yea. Let's kill the father for whom the revenge happened in Revenge. Why? Well, because... because... that'd be just soooooooooooooooooooooooooo... DEEP.

So deep that Adele could roll in it (borrowing this joke, I just love it)! And so ironic that Alanis could write another song about it! So dramatic that Heimskr could shout about it in Whiterun!

You know what? No. No it wasn't. It wasn't touching. It wasn't deep. And with his acting, it wasn't even dramatic. I rolled my eyes.

Yes, sometimes there is a sudden tragedy in fiction that strikes and makes me cry (and I cry really easily, I cry on YouTube videos sometimes). Yes, sometimes it's something I even expected (feared) would happen. Sometimes it's the character that really shouldn't have died, and I know, I know the scumbag writers chose the most lovable one to off just so I cry. But sometimes it works. So. Very. Well. Too well. Why? Because it makes sense.

Because it's tragic, and ironic, and deep.

Not random. Not forced.

And when that happens, I will cry, I will howl, I will baaaaaw to the heavens, and I will hate the writers for it forever and ever (hello, Angel, hello Moulin Rouge). And I will cry my eyes out, not roll them.

And that's what I call good writing.

Sorry, Revenge.

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A woman cop I can like!

30.03.2015

I've been sitting on this post for a little while, but there was always something else popping up, the busy streak ending with another pharyngitis (well, it's my personal kind of pharyngitis I've discovered years ago that consists of the p itself, into a fever, into a sneeze, into a cough, until the cycle's finished and I can live).

A few weeks ago I've been watching a new show called the Mysteries of Laura. It's another procedural, and I'm not a huge fan of those (or more like - bored of them by now), but it seemed lighter, so I gave it a try. It's nice. But what made me really warm up towards it was the main character - you guessed it: Laura.



She's a female cop. But man, for a change she's not a total badass. She's not broody. She's not autistic, she's not anti-social. She doesn't have a dark, secret past. She's not a vixen. She's not a man-eater. She doesn't fight crime in high heels and wear perfect make-up every scene (looking at you Kate Beckett). She's not aloof, she's not alcoholic, she's not somber at all. She's a badass, but in a getting-the-job-done way, not look-how-badass-I-am way. And I love it. So refreshing :)

When she went to Karaoke, do you know what happened? She actually wanted to sing! And she sucked at it! And had a blast. She's divorced, because her ex cheated on her, but she's not bitter or angsty. She doesn't sleep around to point out how free and over him she is. She has two kids and a healthy relationship with them. She's lively, she knows her strong sides, she can rock a sexy dress going undercover and feel good about it.

And when she had that, you know, Mentalist-like thing - spotting something, analyzing, coming to awesomely accurate conclusions, it wasn't because she's so speshial. It was because of the kindergarten homework that's "all about shape recognition". And it was funny.

It's a true pleasure to see a female character like that, and I'll gladly see more episodes of the show :)

Also, the pilot didn't have a sex scene in the first 10 minutes! Hurray, haha. I'm growing tired of that. Being Mary Jane (I tried watching it recently) started from it and I just rolled my eyes. It's so overdone.

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Cry, you comedy-loving buffoons, cry

25.01.2015

Came here to laugh, did you? To unwind, to watch a pleasant comedy for 20 minutes, get some giggle on?

Well, you know what? Fuck you, that's what.

So yeah, I've watched the newest episode of Mom. Spoilers follow by the way.

It's not my favorite show, it has never been, but when it comes to sitcoms I watch during meals I don't have high requirements. This one fell for me into the category "meh, can do". Granted, it was always a little on the bitter side - its main characters are two alcoholic women in recovery, a daughter Christy and her mother who, with her actions and negligence kind of pushed Christy into alcoholism. Those issues are raised, and the downward spiral is shown, but it has always been done with distance, and generally on the comedy-side anyway.

Now in the latest episode suddenly Christy's father dies. And that's with a buildup of how he's reconnecting with his family, how it's important to Christy, how the mother loves him etc, etc, etc. You get it. And then he dies. And it's a sitcom. And then follow two of three scenes with laugh track while I sit bemused at what's so damn funny, and then ensue another 10 minutes or so of depressing talks, issues, and regrets.

No laugh track at least, but it hardly makes it better.

I ask - what gives?

I'm sure everyone and their mother (huehue) knows already how How I Met Your Mother ended and what an outrage it had been. Was it an intelligent way to finish the story? Yes. Did it make sense in retrospect? A lot. Do I think they made the right call? Fuck no. I have loved that show, I did (well, maybe not the last season), but then I felt like I got punched in the gut and kicked in the face as I bent over. I mean, I SNIFFED it. I sniffed it coming during the final episode when it was getting fishily touching. I've seen too many TV shows not to see it coming, so I paused the video and did a fast-forward clicking like I did watching some especially scary episodes of Buffy when something could jump out on me. I fast-forwarded though the hospital scenes, I fast-forwarded through the entire fast-forward sequence of the episode and yet I was still pissed. Because they robbed me of a lovely experience. Because they took my laughing time, and laughed in my face making me cry.

Wanting to make me cry. I didn't cry because I fast-forwarded through it.

I didn't cry on Mom either, because I'm not invested in that show, and because I was too dumbfounded to bring my feels up. I came for laughs. I didn't get my tear box. Sorry.

Now maybe it's just me, maybe I don't have a proper sense of humor to deal with changes in the mood/intent like that. I mean, shows like Nurse Jackie (very good show IMO), Weeds (fun to watch), Shameless (shameless) or Girls are all marked as comedy. Hell, the one about a hospital for old people (can't remember the name right now, I've turned it off after 10 or 20 minutes) where they're shown hopeless and dying and discarded and ignored is marked as a comedy and the only thing it made me want to do was plan to kill myself before I get too old.

I never laughed at Nurse Jackie, I don't laugh at Girls, Shameless or Weeds. I enjoyed all of these shows, I still watch Shameless and Girls, but I don't approach them as comedies anymore, not at all. They leave me feeling sour, bitter, hopeless, empty when I think about such life. Sometimes happy that my life is so different from anything shown there. I enjoy them, I watch them with a tear box at hand for them sorrows, a cable to bite for annoyances, and a glass of my cherry liquor for lurking void.

But the big difference is, these shows from the first episode show what they are. If someone perceives them as comedies - great. If someone sees them as dramas - super. If they make someone cry - whatever floats your boat. If someone thinks they're shit - well, okay, we can't all like the same things. But they don't trick, they don't cheat. You get your perception, you decide whether it's something for you or not, and you are in for the ride or jump off. They change and morph, as all such shows do, but they don't make you laugh for 7 seasons then suddenly go: AHHAHAHAHAHAHA NOW SHE DIES XDDDDDD HOW WITTY EH?? OLOLOLO.

That's like Dexter ending with everyone suddenly jumping out at him and screaming: SURPRISE! WE KNEW ALL ALONG! YOU'RE IN A HIDDEN CAMERA, DEX OLOLOLO. COME LET'S HAVE A BEER AT THE BAY YOU MESSED UP MOFO. GOOD WORK KILLING ALL THOSE BASTARDS.

How would that work?

Well, maybe better than the actual ending kekekeke. Yea, I'm salty about that too. Who isn't? :P

I'm not saying that a long-running comedy can't have more serious touches. I remember an episode of Scrubs that genuinely made me cry, but still did not make me angry. A patient in the hospital, after a funny episode, died, of a pathetic cause. We got to like him, we felt terrible, but they made the episode in such an intelligent way that it didn't jump out. And Scrubs always seemed a touch more serious to me than HIMYM did. But it was a bit of an episode and an episodic character. A moment for reflection, then the show went on. It didn't ruin the show's dynamic, it didn't suddenly feel like a punch. It was graceful, tasteful, and not really out of place.

So can't say that about Mom. So can't say that about HIMYM.

Is this a new trend somehow? That sitcoms will make us laugh only until they decide it's time we feel like we've been hit with a dead puppy on the face?

Cause if that's so, I might just go and switch to watching tragedies, at least I'd come prepared to feel miserable. Or I'll go with My Little Pony. Nobody dies there, right? RIGHT???

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Sad day for romance in Baldur's
Gate

08.01.2015

For me, that is. Though some time ago I wrote on my Facebook that I wouldn't install it and play and just enjoy a bit of it in my imagination, that game is my special weakness, so I ended up installing it anyway, and then playing, just a little bit every now and then. I only made it through the Cloakwood mines recently, so that says a lot about the pace (for those who know the saga ;) ). Side note - praise be all of those geniuses working on the BiG World Project and BiG World setup. Wouldn't have the power to deal with multi-mod install without you, and I can't go back to vanilla anymore :)

But what gave me a sad is when I rescued Xan and started playing through his romance included in the wonderful BG1 NPC project. I picked that, because it carries on all the way to the end of ToB. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely not bashing the mod, or the author, or anything - it's done very nicely, it fits the character, I can't say a bad word about it.

Aside of the fact that it made me feel old. Or maybe too cynical, or whatever else, I don't know. But it lost me when it got, well, romantic.

I think that if I got my hands on it few years ago (I could, but it had no happy ending back then so I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole :D), I'd be absolutely delighted. But now, though I enjoyed the beginning of it, I got disheartened the further I went into it.

From the moment he was so gentle he wouldn't talk to my character when she told the team to go away and give them a moment of peace, through the time when he wouldn't sleep with her without a promise to bond forever, to the description of a moment that would make my younger self squeal and now made me flinch back - elves rising up in a lovely embrace surrounded by nature. I just... couldn't.

When I was younger I had loved elves oh so much. I remember fondly all the stories I had in my mind over the years, and the way I cared about my elven characters in games. I enjoyed that lovely, romantic to the extreme nature, it was what I'd be looking for. And now I can't stand it. Even with the 'drama/angst' surrounding Xan as a character (which is why I even tried that mod, I wouldn't want to play through anything without obstacles, boring), it's just... too sweet.

Which leaves me with question - am I old or am I cold? :D

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