Saturday, March 08, 2014

In the Jedi Dish

I'm one of the few people I know who doesn't like to binge watch television shows. For one thing, I don't like giving up so much of my day to one thing, and another, one of the great things to me about television series is that the reality they create lasts longer than a movie's. Instead of something you watch one evening, television shows are like a comrade you have over the course of half a year or so. It's not surprising, though, the same people compelled to watch ten hours of one show tend to balk at the idea of sitting through a three hour movie--episodes are designed to make you want to come back a week later. When the next episode is available a few seconds later, it's like lighting a match with a flame thrower.

Now, though, Netflix is releasing new shows to cater to binges. The fourth season of Arrested Development actually tried to capitalise on it by making the whole season a single plot which, for the reasons I outlined above, was probably a bad idea. Yesterday, Netflix released the entire sixth and final season of Clone Wars.

And, yes, I've only watched the first episode, so don't expect from me a review for the whole season like you'll probably find on other blogs and sites. Which is another thing about delivering a whole season or series at once--people talk about it for a week or two, maybe, then it's yesterday's news.

Anyway, it was really nice to see the show again. Those who haven't seen it are probably pretty perplexed by all the love this Star Wars prequel related series gets. This has been part of the reason the show has felt so delicate--having it come back after Lucasfilm's gone over to Disney, who obviously wants to expunge the prequels from history. It felt miraculous seeing the title pop up at the beginning.

The improved shading on the cgi models is here again from season five. I loved this pair of tentacle headed Jedi sisters. I guess they learned from the Twi'leks that dames with tentacles on their heads are always a crowd pleasure. Also, I love this returning Separatist General cybernetic spider alien.

There's a lot of layers of implied story looking at this guy--for one thing, he's like a spider but not agile and skinny like spider people usually are in fantasy. He's like Paulie from Goodfellas, big and slow moving and commanding. And the fact his whole left side is made up of robotic parts implies some horrendous injury. Of course, it continues the concept of organic life forms turning into machines--like General Grievous and Darth Vader.

And the writing is good--it continues that wonderful, relentless adventure serial feel of the series. I compared it in my mind to two other shows I've been watching lately, Breaking Bad and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.--I'm really not sure why I'm still watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.--Tuesday's episode was so badly written, so full of the unearned, overplayed pathos and the meaningless escapes from death that give comic book style stories a bad name. But I'm going back next week because I'm eager to see Lorelei.

Anyway, I thought about an interview I read with Breaking Bad's creator Vince Gilligan where he said the show was designed from the ground up to be about change. This is the opposite of an old a paradigm that's being widely rejected in this renaissance of television--gone is the idea that at the end of every episode everything should go back to the way it was at the beginning of the episode. Unfortunately, the third season Breaking Bad violates its own mission statement a bit by artificially forcing Walter and Jesse back into a partnership. But it demonstrates exactly why the old model is inferior--the characters stop acting like themselves, they cease to be the characters people are interested in. It doesn't make sense for Jesse to ruthlessly pursue his own cooking or for Walter to offer him a partnership to shut him up, etc.

Clone Wars, despite occurring between two movies of established story, has nonetheless managed to remain vital the whole time. There are badly written episodes, but for the most part it's a sterling example of what really works about the new model--plot is completely subservient to character instead of the other way around.

Twitter Sonnet #603

Blank clamshell satellites blink at money.
An ordinary arm is a strange leg.
The record doberman's nose was runny.
Spirals pinioned the seventeenth moon egg.
Existing faces occur on the air.
Disconnect days rip halfway through the night.
Bookish inebriation thinks text bare.
Skyscraper men congratulate your might.
The conquistador's banana is blank.
Turtle spirals take stairs to the old sand.
Over here even the bendy straw sank.
Don't drop grit in your spirit beverage land.
Alphabets propped against doors scratch the paint.
Unheeded long ships make the big duck faint.

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