The Unusuals

there’s this odd phenomenon that springs from only watching tv streaming via netflix or hulu or veetle or or or… where you, with great glee and zero fanfare, “discover” shows that have already spent whatever brief heyday they may have enjoyed in live network time and now sit relegated, for marketing or ratings or budgetary reasons, to the sarcofagi of video archiving.

just as I arrived late to the fandom party for dollhouse (how in the name of all that’s awesome have I NOT made a dollhouse post?? must amend this oversight pronto…) and terminator: the sarah connor chronicles, so have I just added the unusuals— like an extinct star still beaming to the eye via the perpetual present of netflix– to my running list of video favorites.

if you, like me, are a fan of quirks and oddity, check out this ensemble, offbeat cop show– what little got shot before the marketeers canceled its delicioulsy off-kilter run.

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Grey’s Anatomy rocks my little heart

The truth is I wish life were as legible and constructed as an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

The emotional order of its scripting and plotting, sailing near (surely, to some, plumb over) the edge of cheeze in pursuit of a fine fiction fraught with artificially induced emotional truths a viewer might temporarily embrace, the release of soap operatic scale. Escapist, indeed. I’m a little behind the 8 ball on weighing in on this one, but– the Grey’s Anatomy Music Event was, in my opinion, splendid.

chasing cars

how to save a life

running on sunshine

universe and u

the story

 

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Californication

My better half and I have a difference of opinion regarding our media consumption, one case being Californication– which I’ve gobbled up gluttonously via Netflix and love for its scripted twists and turns and which I suspect he finds smug and smarmy.

In all fairness, it is definitively smarmy– slinky, sexy smarminess being its veritable modus operandi. smug to be sure, set in self-satisfied L.A.

In point of fact it gets me with its brand of smuttiness– witty, wordy, misadventurous– makes me think: if there is an ego and a superego, surely there must be a superid– which would be Hank Moody.

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I can’t say I ever watched this Fox show while it aired a couple years ago (downsides to being an all-web, no commercial cable or satellite t.v. kind of gal)– in point of fact I think I thought it would be silly. I loved the first Terminator movie, largely because of the Sarah Connor/Kyle Reese romance. The next movie was box office-exciting, and thoroughly less heart-gripping than the first, the Terminator brand writ slick all-action.

Ensconced in recent bouts of streaming Netflix, I decided to give this broody subsequent project* of James Cameron’s a whirl– and have been sucked into its ethos of mythic drama, its questioning the ethics implicit in nexuses (nexi?) of technology and humanity, and some sweet scripted moments– a few examples of which here follow.

*image borrowed from Den of Geek, wherein the astute summary: “Sarah Connor was a non-populist, meditative, complex piece of television on a smash-bang, show-me-the-ratings kind of network”; and this: “The Terminator franchise suggests explosions, robot fights and balls-out, backs against the wall carnage. The series offered these things grudgingly, and quite often as the culmination of five episodes worth of navel gazing. God, Terminator loved a bit of navel gazing.” Ha! Well, NavelGazer loves it back.

**
Bits– on the quippy side:
Sarah Connor, behind the wheel of the jeep after school: “Field trip.
John Connor, climbing into the front seat: “I call shotgun.”
“Sister” cyborg Cameron, climbing into the back: “I call nine millimeter.”
**
Sarah, at the wheel of the car, driving towards or away from some fresh emergency: “If you knew what was going on with the girl, why didn’t you say something?”
Cameron: “To you?”
Sarah: “To me, to him, to somebody.”
Cameron (whose understanding of her position as John’s protector typically results in dead bodies): “I’ve always made my position on security very clear. [pause, glance] No one likes a nag.”

**

It’s fraught with grey-area humanity struggles and uncertainties for both the humans in the cast (Sarah, Riley– John Connor, the narrative Christ figure is of course most unerringly human of all) and the nonhumans (Cameron, John Henry, Weaver). The “bad” humans and the “good” cyborgs, and vice versa.

Sarah: I’m not John’s problem.
Cameron: John is John’s problem. Humans are the problem. There’s only one way for him to be safe– that’s to be alone.
Sarah: What kind of life is that?
Cameron: John’s life– someday.

**

A.I. John Henry: Mr. Ellison?
Ellison, painting one of John Henry’s action figurines: Yes.
John Henry: Does this make us friends?
Ellison:

**

 

This show has moments that are achingly bittersweet-beautiful– like the montage at the end of “Adam Raised a Cain” where the voiceover of A.I. John Henry and child Savannah sing in duet her dead father’s comical yet minor key song, overlain atop video of the sacrifice of Sarah Connor and Derek’s ashes being buried under a marker bearing only the stamp of the current year on the same graveyard hillside as his brother Kyle’s “1985”.

**

Sarah Connor’s voiceover at the close of the episode “Some Must Watch, While Some Must Sleep,” while she drives through the night away from her torturer, whom she’s evidently killed:

A spirit sits on a man’s chest. She is strong, beautiful. She is here to steal his children. She is here to steal his future. He is paralyzed. The terror in him will burst his heart if he cannot control it. She is a nightmare, a demon woman, the oldest and most enduring story told. The witching hour is controlled by witches.

Sarah Connor brings the van to a stop, a coyote (encountered in the nighttime earlier in the eposode and also used imagistically as a character’s tatoo) standing looking back in the headlights. Voiceover:

She is a bad dream. She is a bad bitch.

**

I especially admire the teetery morality the script imbues its different characters with as they err in one direction or another. The plotline is a chessfield battleground with an unnamed number of invisible pieces with hidden and marvelous capabilities and dimensions, revealed one by one.

Random minor notes:

I completely didn’t recognize Summer Glau/Cameron as evil genius Bennett Halverson from Dollhouse.

I love how James Ellison’s car bears no actual brand insignia, only a circle.

 

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In which I own my love for the Mighty Boosh

Chris, a tireless and intrepid YouTube explorer and fan of Adult Swim, gets me hooked on all sorts of wacked-out video he digs up online, which I’d likely not tumble to left to my own wits– such as the whole Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace / IT Crowd / Mighty Boosh constellation of actors and writers.

The Mighty Boosh in particular is pretty far right-brained entertainment, which took me a few episodes to catch the love for. but I’d have to call myself something of a Vince-groupie now– and Howard is just so doggone human, the lovely lummox, I’ve rather developed a soft spot for him as well.

And when I ran across this feature on the Vox sign-in page, I had to wonder whether Naboo’s resemblance to Hanuman was strictly coincidental. I’m somehow doubtful.


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Doctor Who

My darling, whose mind works in weird and delicious ways, grew up on episodes of Doctor Who, which surely contributed to those thinking patterns I adore–and which I’d never seen until he introduced me to it just this week.

Last night we watched the episode “Blink“, which scared the bejebus out of me, delightfully. So great. What a treat to discover something new to enjoy.

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my dirty little secret

chris knows it–

(wait for it)

I love grey’s anatomy. as they say, seriously. it’s a soap opera with good writing– what’s not to love?

what’s not to love about a mark with a broken penis? or dramatic scenes that turn on a wafer-thin instant, a line– ethically, emotionally, even to some extent spiritually. I gladly buy into the drama of it– I think I mainly live in that current. which is why I so looove grey’s anatomy.

I am facing the sappy, goopy in myself lately– it’s what you tend to reach when you retreat inside. depression is a sloppy business when you get down to it. struggle involves awkward positions, chagrin at the numbers but persistence, however you weigh it.

there’s not a lot of discernible language when you go underground, under the radar and other scientific instruments. and then you seem to surface– it is a little better, for one reason and other. a walk by the lake, a telephone or chat conversation with a friend across the miles– or right at home. you surface. chris knows it.

you tread water with watching t.v.

Icy

days can be a bit of a slog.

and then you’ll stumble over a project, become infatuated, want nothing but to talk about it, become a little tiresome. happiness hath no momentum.

but after awhile you have to say something. odds are it’s not going to be brilliant, so just move forward. the head is a heavy thing.

you make projects as a distraction partly– you think, I could make an essay form in this medium– even if I do it stumblingly. you write just whatever from the place you’re in. it’s a relief. sometimes that’s enough.

so you breathe and just keep putting the feet forward the best you can.

you think about how longer narrative forms are more challenging because they need to create interesting, muscular patterns– or at least maintain consistency to be readable or livable, for that matter. there is discomfort, weather and vexedness of a thousand varieties– so it goes. it would be nice if your narrative could have some gypsy shake, heft and bells.

by the end I always have to change the title– and then rearrange things, so it ends up not being the end– sometimes it’s good to give your audience opportunities to forgive you– small ones work well, large ones less well, you learn.

I don’t know what the appeal is of the second person vague– it’s both confrontational and obviously sneaky. vaguery has always been my sticky wicket, the slope I must slip on because I hate the editor.  grapple with the editor. do war with it. grit in the throat.

Ice

it is most excellent to have your mind thought sexy, odd and elemental, especially by thinkin folks you think are cool. you realize– I realize moments of feeling fully present. first person intensely. I imagine english as a foreign language– grammar and vocabulary most provocative, shaping what you say and letting it change on your lips. that inevitable second person! is the plot thickening sufficiently? or does it need some agent to make it coagulate. is it bad form to speak of coagulation? I do faux pas.

sometimes you, that is I, overcook the chicken. but it still feels necessary to make things bite-size, even if too dry to rightly swallow.

I know why the you– the you is the I that wants to be edited somehow. tailored to make more sense.

you have a thing for tightropes. tights, ropes. you have a thing, a relationship with words, relationship here being a dirty word. you choke on it, stutter, make sounds almost like sense. a little offkey, singing.

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comedy is a family value

tina fey is a fairly new hero of mine– just started watching episodes of 30 rock on the web this summer– awesome, sweet, and hilarious. and bravo for snl, which gives comedians the stage to voice some searing and very funny commentary on current events. this skit with tina fey and amy poehler takes the cake– and it irks me no end that youtube keeps being compelled to yank it. fortunately, the populace is not content to let it go and continues to repost it. so if the video below fails to play for you and you haven’t seen it yet, just do a search in youtube for “palin clinton”, and one or two copies should show up. bravo for populist insurgency!

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