Wednesday, September 10, 2008

episodes: true blood, terminator, fringe

True Blood:
I honestly don't have anything nice to say about this show (so perhaps I shouldn't say them at all?). Now, I love vampire tales. I think most of them tend to by vampire-porn, but when they're done right (ahem, Buffy), they can be really profound. But Alan Ball's adaptation of the True Blood series is offensively bad. I was offended as a fan of television. This was not television. (And it wasn't HBO either.) The script was particularly bad, especially because I loved the scripts for American Beauty and the pilot for Six Feet Under, Ball's other projects. At one point, Anna Paquin (sporting a remarkably bad Southern accent), says something along the lines, "You want to hate an entire race of people for something they can't change?" Wow, way to be subtle. Whatever happened to the art of metaphors? That's like having someone speak about zombies, "They're just mindless drones, like American consumers." Umm, duh. The production design was horrible. The characters were not relatable and were unsurprisingly uninteresting. The actual plot of the episode -- if you consider a basic introduction to characters a plot, which I don't -- was uninspired and boring. And it really bothered me that Paquin's character, Sookie, already made a romantic connection with Vampire-Guy-20-Years-Her-Senior in the first episode. Part of the allure of vampire stories is the age-old story of forbidden love (or forbidden fruit). So posing them as soulmates (do vampires have souls?) in the first episode negates any true conflict they could have during the rest of the season. They meet twice, and Sookie is not only unafraid of him, but she's ready to make love to him. True Blood seemed like an excuse for gratuitous nudity and bad acting. I wouldn't touch this show with a ten foot pole.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
I was less than impressed with the premiere. In all honesty, I don't think it's a particularly great show. I would only recommend this show to certain people, namely sci-fi dorks who geek out over time travel (I include myself in this group). I decided to officially give them show a chance during the future episode from the first season, which introduced us to Kyle Reese (John Connor's uncle), played by Brian Austin Greene, who is part of the resistance in the future. I was also intrigued by the producer's comment that they're less interested in the humanity of the terminator, Cameron (named after Terminator creator James Cameron), and more interested in the notion of what it means to be a machine. This thinking changes my interpretation of Cameron learning to dance. It's not about her evolving into a human or mimicking human activities; rather, it's about her thirst for knowledge and discovering new ways to utilize her body. As for the premiere, I thought the opening montage was pretty silly, and the song being used was, I'm sure, chosen by a fourteen year old girl. It did get better from there, but not much happened as far as plot was concerned. Cameron turned against John and, for a brief period of time, wanted to terminate him. John had to battle between his sense of what is right -- to kill his best friend and savior or not to kill her? -- and he ultimately chose, despite his mother's wishes, to not kill her. That's interesting character development, but it's not really plot. It didn't push the series forward, and it didn't set anything up for future episodes. But I love time travel and I hear that the show will revisit the future. So... although the show is not for everyone and there are certainly critiques I have, it was still a decent enough episode and I'll stick around.

Oh, J.J. I expected more. The Felicity, Alias, and Lost pilots were memorable and damn near perfect, finding just the right balance between plot development and character development. Fringe, however, was 90% plot and 10% characters. I have the same problems that most people seem to be having, namely that the first episode isn't about fringe science. Yes, fringe science is used as a means of solving the problem, but really, the plane passengers' faces melted off due to a typical run-of-the-mill bio-weapon and not because of something supernatural. I didn't care for the character Walter Bishop or how the actor John Noble played him. The main character, Olivia Dunham (played by Anna Torv), has the potential to be strong, but she's nowhere near Felicity or Sydney Bristrow. (She's much better than Kate, though. Anyone is better than Kate.) Joshua Jackson is playing the adult-version of Pacey Witter, which works because he plays intelligent smart-asses quite convincingly, much better than when he branched out in Cruel Intentions, Urban Legend, or The Skulls. I didn't care for any of the character dynamics, and I was annoyed that John Scott was predictably killed. Agent Dunham is supposedly a woman who's never said "I love you," so of course when it happens, the boyfriend either has to die (The Pretender comes to mind) or he's actually evil. In this case, it's both. And I felt like a lot of the character relations were written in the script as opposed to acted out by the actors. Why didn't the characters react to each other? I'll continue to watch a few more episodes, but in all honesty, I see myself losing interest (despite my love for all things supernatural) after a short while.


Goddessdster said...

Oh thank you!

I had recorded True Blood, but haven't watched it yet because, as I had mentioned before, I was afraid of what I'd see. Now I know to stay away. Sometimes bad source material cannot be transformed into good TV.

I had trouble getting into Sarah Connor last season, so this is one the Husband watches without me. And yes, in the bit I glimpsed Monday night, I kept waiting for Brian Austin Greene to dance.

Fringe. What to do about it? I know I'm going out on a limb here with you by saying I think J.J. Abrams comes up with kick-ass ideas and amazing intros to those ideas, and then loses steam about half-way through and mucks everything up. So maybe because the pilot was weaker than expected the show can only improve, instead of the other way around? It's a thought. And I love Pacey. He will always be Pacey. Though I don't recall him seeming so tall. Was he always tall? Or is Anna Torv just a wee thing?

keyser soze said...

You know, since you recorded True Blood, you should go ahead and watch it. Maybe you'll think differently than I did... even though I doubt it...

BAG (were these initials intentional?) is the best part of Terminator, which really says something about the show since I've never cared for him. Then again, maybe I just never cared for the original 90210. But BAG is amazing.

And yes, Pacey has always been tall. Remember Katie Holmes is a bit of a giant, so I always remember him being tall. But now that he's lost weight, he seems extra tall. And I hope you're right about the reverse-Abrams affect. I have heard him say that Fringe is going to be more episodic as to not alienate new viewers, so... I will hope that it gets better, but I won't hold my breath.