Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blogs and Ends

First up.  Cataline Recommends: Lost in Space (2018) 

Yeah, I'm surprised I'm recommending it too.

I'm trying to figure out if I should hate this or not.  I'm only three episodes in and so far I don't...yet and I was pretty sure I would.

The casting was race bent...of course.  Black Judy Robinson hasn't been explained yet and I think they should.  Wouldn't be too hard. She was the eldest.  Just have John Robinson say something like, "I have had Judy since she was six months old.  She is my daughter."  That would do it.  Ah well, maybe later.  Additionally, Doctor Smith has undergone sex reassignment.  Given audience expectations regarding an unnaturally close relationship between an adolescent boy and a  mincing and prissy, middle-aged man, this casting decision was a regrettable but dire necessity. 

Other characters have been changed around quite a bit too.  Will was daring and impetuous in the original.  In this one, he's rather cowardly.  The daring and impetuous thing has been given to Judy.  I was starting to roll my eyes about Judy Sue because it appeared that she was the one who was going to be doing everything right. But then her daring and impetuous thing nearly gets her killed and she goes into PTSD over the event.  Okay so not quite Judy Sue and lets face it, the original Judy was the most useless character in the show, they had to do something with her.  Also she's an eighteen year old MD now but that can slide because (a) all of the Robinsons were geniuses in the original LIS and (b) somebody needs to to be the medic.  May as well be Judy.

Maureen is the brains of the outfit and clearly wears the pants in the family.  John Robinson is now a bit of rock and pretty hen-pecked.  He's dumb as hell and was some kind of Marine Corps operator of indeterminate rank.   Apparently he and Maureen had separated and were getting a divorce.  That was told in a flashback.  What was also told in a flashback was that some asteroid was going to hit the Earth and also the atmosphere was now to poisonous to breath without masks, yada-yada everyone who can, is trying to get off the Earth and go to the new colony at Alpha Centuari.  MacGuffin sequence initiated.

Interesting variation.  The Jupiter 2 wasn't just by itself.  The J2 was attached to a mother ship with a whole bunch of other Jupiters and colonist families when something happened...dun-dun-dun.  Anyway Jupiter 2 crashes on planet that consists entirely of Vasquez Rocks. Meh, I'm used to that.

During an initial exploration Will finds an all powerful, alien battle android with amnesia that immediately bonds to him.

So Robot is basically this guy now.

It actually works.  

Finally we meet Don West and Doctor Smith when they are escaping from the damaged mother ship.  In this iteration Don West is a cynical mechanic and bad guy with a heart of gold.   Doctor Smith is a ruthless Dark Triad female.  And actually she isn't really Doctor Smith.  Her real name is "June Harris" which was a nice shout out to the original Doctor Smith actor.  The real Dr. Z. Smith was played in a cameo by Bill Mumy.

There were a lot of cliff hangers and nail biters in the first three episodes.  A few minor jokes here and there but so far no Carrot People.  Basically this is the version of Lost in Space as Irwin Allen originally envisioned it and not the ridiculous camp it turned into.

I am recommending with reservations.

I don't hate it yet but I'm sure I will eventually.


About Scooter Libby.  The Lefty press can't really remember why they hate him and they don't want you to remember either but they do know they still hate him...for...some reason anyway.  Bottomline: Trump pardoned him so Scooter has to be the Anti-Christ.

The truth is that everyone expected W. to pardon him on his way out of the White House.  Hell, even the Democrats expected it.  They would publicly bitch but they would understand about rewarding loyalty.  And Baby Bush proved himself w-a-a-a-a-a-y too much of a cuck to do anything like that.

Good for President Trump.


Cataline Does Not Recommend: Troy Fall of  a City.

The casting is an eye roller.  As I said before, you can make a historical argument for Black Romans particularly if you are talking about the late Imperial period.  There undoubtedly were a few by then (see: the Edict of Caracalla).  They didn't offer any explanation for Black Greeks other than it's a British production and at this point you have to Race Bend...or else.  I think the producers felt they genuinely had no choice in the matter.  And the sad truth is, they're right. If you are producing anything in Britain today and you don't hit the diversity checkboxes you are in trouble.  Real trouble.  As in legal trouble.  At this point that is a possibility there.

The other odd casting choice was Helen.  I admit she's always a casting problem because she was "the most beautiful woman in the world."

This is apparently Helen
Her costumes were designed to keep you from looking at her face

I'm not big into fairness as you all know but to be fair she's not bad looking.  But she is 10 years older than the guy playing Paris.  The writers did write a Hermione in, when most productions forget to put Helen's daughter in these things.  But this Hermione is about thirteen.  We are talking about a thirty year old and very maternal Helen.  Enough so that the audience is left with the impression that the Trojan War was started over a grubby Oedipus Complex.

So on to the production itself.  It was cheap and I do mean Xena cheap.  Also it was boring as hell.  I ended up skipping to the final episode.  Those are the two biggest reasons I recommend against it.

Now that said, it did have a few of things I liked.  When you see Paris being raised as a shepherd, there is a scene where his adoptive father tells him the story of Actaeon, who spied on the goddess Artemis when she was bathing.  In her rage she turned Actaeon into a deer, who was then chased through the woods by wolves and torn apart by them.  Paris then turns to him asks, "the question is, did he think it was worth it?"  I liked that bit. It told you everything you needed to know about Paris' character.

As always one of the biggest problems with any version of the Iliad, is trying to make Paris and Helen sympathetic figures.  The writers tried.  Prince Paris was raised as an illiterate shepherd so he didn't quite get the big picture of snatching the king of Sparta's queen.  But with Helen they had to fall back on feminism.  At one point she declares, that here in Troy men and women are as equals, which she had never been before.  Yeah, bullshit.  In most of the early accounts after Paris dies she is given to his brother Deiphobus, who she then betrays at the Fall of Troy,  so I don't think she was super cool about that relationship.  There are plenty of versions of the ancient story where Helen is cruel and treacherous but nobody has ever gone with a screen version of that...

Okay, yes fine Kolchak did go with evil Helen

Other things that I liked.  When they had Odysseus plowing the rocks, they had him beat the fuck out of Diomedes when he put Odysseus' infant son in front of the oxen.  That isn't in the ancient accounts but if there is any truth to the story at all, you know it happened. 

Right before the first battle, the various goddesses walked invisibly among the soldiers that were about to fight. Choosing their champions.

Hera: Menelaus of Sparta, I bless you.

Aphrodite: Paris of Troy, I bless you.

Athena: Odysseus of Ithaca, I bless you. 

It was effective and respectful of the original source material.  Which in a nutshell, can be said of the whole production.  But it doesn't change the fact that it's oddly casted, cheap and boring.  I can't recommend it.

Okay, I'm done here.


Chris Lutz said...

So you have pretty much the same feelings I have about Lost in Space.

I will quibble about the dad. He's not stupid but he's not a scientist. Maureen thinks she's built this wonderful team of a family without him. In reality she has done nothing of the sort. Will is scared of his own shadow. The girls may be doing a little better but Judy can't talk with her. Really all she has done is arrange the family to suit her needs.

John meanwhile is a take charge kind of guy. His decisions have been solid for the first few episodes I've watched.

Judy's character is stiff. But they've actually made her a character and not a Mary Sue so that is helpful. Her being black though just pulls me out of the scene every time. They need to explain it.

Penny is pretty good.

Will isn't bad.

Don's character is enjoyable.

The weak link is June. She simply doesn't exude menace. She's closer to the petty, cowardly, low-character crimes of Dr. Smith and that doesn't work in this version.

Mr. Bee said...

I follow a number of conservative media critics out of general interest in the mechanics of politics in media. The trend now is claiming show or movie "X" is conservative because they can pick some elements out of it like "it supports the family" or "the female characters are not entirely Mary Sues". This when major plot elements are effectively left wing talking points. If you really want to see what a real conservative movie is, go see "Chappaquiddick", or "The Death of Stalin".

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

Kolchak! My man!

I loved that show. My dad and I used to watch the reruns over and over on Saturday afternoon after the weekend cleaning chores were done. A little local station which later became the first Fox affiliate used to have the BEST Saturday afternoon programming:

1Pm: Kolchak (Richard Matheson wrote the first script; that guy was everywhere!)
2PM: The Saturday Afternoon Movie: Movies like 'Frogs!', 'Food of the Gods', 'Night of the Lepus', 'Kingdom of the Ants', 'Piranha', 'The Swarm', 'The Devil's Rain, and just about any Hammer Horror flick.

Those were great times. Dad would let me drink a soda or two while we watched for the afternoon. Great times.

Anyway, the Ball and Chain wants to give Lost In Space a try so, its good that you think it doesn't entirely suck yet. I picked up on the Iron Giant angle from the trailers and thought it was a good idea.

Chris Lutz said...

@Mr. Bee - A lot of times that happens. In the case of Lost in Space, so far it isn't hitting much in the way of Leftist themes. The only two things I would call Leftist is the casting of Judy and Maureen's aversion to guns. Otherwise, so far, the show isn't woke at all.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

We’ve now watched the first two episodes of Lost in Space. In line with Cataline’s thoughts, I’m somewhat pleased by what I’ve seen:

-Captain Mom is a colossal bitch. She’s the typical Sitcom Mom who always knows best taken to her logical extreme.

-Dad is competent and loyal. He was getting screwed by mom for doing his duty on Earth. He was repeatedly second guessed for correctly handling the sequence of emergencies that happened during/after crash.

-Will Robinson is afraid but shows signs of overcoming his fears in what could be a great character arc.

-Diversity Daughter is not only annoying; she’s actually a liability thus far. And because of her own behavior and judgment, though it’s repeatedly implied she is the Robinson Kid Mostly Likely to Save Everyone.

-Nicest Surprise: Middle Kid/Red Haired Daughter (Penny?)-This is a character with potential. She’s much closer to what a “Strong Female” character should be, rather than just a pushy, masculinzed Female like Diversity Daughter. She’s like a Pioneer Mom in waiting. Willing to do what she needs to do, but she would rather not have to. Still, she’s capable and much nervier than she’s given credit for. I expect Dad Robinson was quite proud of that child’s conduct.

Now, let’s hope it doesn’t throw all of the set-up and become just another Diversity Symphony.

Chris Lutz said...

Had to kill some time and got to watch it all. Overall it isn't bad.

Will has a pretty good line to Maureen in the last episode.

John clears up just a little bit Judy's parentage. Not much, it's more like stating the obvious.

Still struggling with the Jane character.

Judy doesn't improve a whole lot as a character. Her decision making skills are great. She does loosen up some.

The Jupiter spaceships have to be the toughest ships ever build in human history.

Chris Lutz said...

Correction, her decision making skills are *not* great.

Also, I'm wondering if they cleaned up the language. They cut Maureen dropping an F-bomb a couple of times.

Cataline Sergius said...

@Chris Lutz

They have Lost in Space listed in their Kid's Menu of shows. So, yeah. Good bet.

Robert Pinkerton said...

Asto the earlier original, I remember a Mad magazine piece titled "Loused=uip in Space."

Mr.MantraMan said...

Thumbs up to LiS so far, but hands on the ejection handle for when it goes into "narrative."

cbashcraft said...

I enjoyed Lost in Space alot but two things stuck out in my mind.

1. Bad problems were made worse by female can do emotionalism. There were times when I was wondering why on a hostile planet every single individual was not being trained in hunting, strategy, and weaponry.

2. Your trapped! As much as I enjoyed the series, the propensity of the characters not to make sacrifices or make the gut wrenching decisions as honorably as possible given the situation, to maximize group survival, always left me baffled. The children were given way to much freedom without punishment that made every situation worse. Maybe this was a stealth decision to create drama and tension but subtly say to the audience and parents "In real life try to avoid these actions or way of thinking that contributes to those actions." Spare the rod spoil the child.

I guess I just can not understand the thinking that renders people sheep in a comparable situation combined with the magical thinking that everything would workout despite the high odds of that happening. The characters had such long odds that turning away any help, the robot was the most valuable resource, would; in real life, most likely have proven to be fatal.

Corey ashcraft

Ja D said...

Good reviews thanks.