What a wonderful site!
What a wonderful site!
There are many great shows being produced now and others that people love, I believe more because they begin well enough and then become one of those shows you must love to be cool. A case in point for me is Orange is the New Black. The first season developed fantastic nuanced multi dimension characters and placed them in a cohesive interesting set of storylines. Then came the second season when the show meandered and characters were dumbed down to one dimension. But the cat was already out of the bag so to speak. It was already one of the shows you “had to love”. Someone on the radio mentioned once that many original ideas or stories are written for a specific timeframe and then when they become a thing, the scramble is on to keep it going. As hard as it is sometimes, I would like a show to say what it needs to and then bow out.
Another example is Stranger Things, fantastic “first” season. Well-drawn out characters, well portrayed, and a fun throw-back storyline that is familiar but so well done it doesn’t matter. That is the key, a story, simply told well. To me, the season told what it needed to and there is nothing more to say. I will tune in to the second season initially to see where it goes, but other than the one scene where Will goes Alien on us, the story has been told. The End.
Some shows have all the “elements”, but without a compelling and structured story, what is the point? I was so excited for Vinyl. What could go wrong? Great cast, interesting period in music and Scorsese! Well, lack of a compelling story was my issue with this show. Sure, it has the text book Scorsese items, but those only work when integrated into a something that draws you in. Vinyl was more about “hey look at all this inside music stuff we can pack in.” Even with that, it would have been ok if the story was there.
One of the best recent examples of a simple story told well is Rectify, no frills, no mega-stars, no familiar soundtrack songs, no flashy camera gimmicks, no gratuitous violence needed (what draws many to Game of Thrones, but that’s for another post), just a simple story that completely draws you in, with complex multidimensional characters throughout. If you haven’t watched it, I would highly recommend it as the perfect example of a good story told well.
It was on my 23rd birthday that I found out about the Mind Reading Organization. I remember it very clearly. I was at work, and Brian Williams was on the news. He looked right at me and told me and only me about it. Then the people eating at the restaurant where I worked began speaking to my thoughts. I had difficulty focusing my mind after that. Soon I became aware that the Mind Reading Organization had an office right next to the restaurant that I worked at. Their compass and square logo was right there on the front of the building. I quit the restaurant that day…..
After having read the fantastic book Hotel Florida by Amanda Vaill, which gave a nuanced and deep portrait of both Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn during the Spanish Civil War, I was interested to watch the film Hemingway and Gellhorn with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. Please, please do not waste your time if you are interested in anything but a buffoonish, one dimensional, at times laughable film. I loved the subject matter and was excited to see it, so came in to it with a positive outlook wanting to like the film. What was delivered however, was a barely watchable thing, with Clive Owen seemingly playing Groucho Marx doing an over the top impersonation of Hemingway. All of the other characters were just as one dimensional with the exception of Kidman as Gellhorn and maybe that was the plan: to make her character shine. The big problem with this is that when you make all other characters so cartoonishly bad, you cannot help but greatly diminish the stature of the character you are trying to play up. So, if you are interested in the subject matter not played as bad slapstick, then I would recommend reading the book mentioned in the opening sentence.
Here is a excerpt from the upcoming Reminiscences of My Dead-end Street that is available below Amazon on Kindle.
“I’m hung up on her, and she’s hung up on him, and he’s hung up on anyone who will let him in, he knows the feelings inside you, he’s got the power of trance, he can subversively extract your love, under any circumstance, he can make you feel just like a queen, or like a woman that walks the street, he’s just one of the many that you’ll meet, on my dead end street.”
From the first episode, I really wanted to like this show. It has many style elements that are popular, from a “southernish” “swampish” True Blood vibe kind of thing. The story is there, a group of women trying to get out from under, collectively and individually, from their problems and rise to a better existence. Their characters are written and played with more dimension than the card board cutout male characters in the show. At times, it is hard to know whether or not this is a dramedy or a SNL spoof, and Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris) is cringe worthy over the top bad, which could be ok, if there was any dimension to his character. In each episode the creators seem to be asking themselves what would Scorsese do? Yes! Let’s have up-beat music to a violent scene etc. Very derivative. The key will be whether or not the show can find its way to more depth in it’s characters and its own vibe. For now, there is enough potential to give it more time.
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