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New TV reviews: Journeyman, The Bionic Woman, Moonlight - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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October 5th, 2007

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01:32 am - New TV reviews: Journeyman, The Bionic Woman, Moonlight
So, with amberite in China, teaotter and I have more time on our hands than usual (poly relationships are exceptionally time-intensive, if also very much worth it) and we have been watching a few of the new TV shows. The results of three are good, dreadful and offensive, and astoundingly trashy but fun.

The Good
initially looks like just another Quantum Leap rip-off, but the protagonist is thankfully not particularly hapless, and (unlike most shows of this ilk) I have a sense that there is actually something going on behind the curtain, rather than some lame reason for his time-traveling like God needed a time-jumping do-gooder. My best guess is that he's been (very) informally recruited to help either avert a catastrophe in the future or simply to try to make a lousy future better by people in the future who have time travel tech with odd and particular limits. I could be wrong, and it might turn out have a supernatural explanation, but I get the feeling there is an explanation under there somewhere.

In addition, the characters are good, and like Burn Notice (and unlike the vast majority of modern adventure-TV) the characters are actually adults and not hapless teens or (far too commonly) mid twenty-somethings with the emotional and social maturity of hapless teens. teaotter and I were just talking about how characters who are actual adults are rare in adventure TV, with the exception of the horridly regressive anti-terrorism spy shows, where the protagonists are largely brutal thugs who we are supposed to cheer for. I also like that the time travel is being used (as it should be) for social commentary of a fairly smart sort – this was particularly obvious in the most recent episode with the various airplane flights. I like it and recommend it.

The Dreadful and Offensive
The Bionic Woman
is a show I utterly loathe for a multitude of reasons. First we have the all too common trope of characters, especially female characters cannot want or enjoy being powerful, they have to be forced into it. Then, we have the organization that is making and using tech that is utterly amazing and wondrous being explicitly evil (although of course, less evil than the nebulous villains). Then we have the fact that unlike the protagonist in the original 1970s version (which was a considerably more progressive show), this character is an utter and total loser. We are told she has a very high IQ, but in addition to seeing no evidence of this, she is also utterly passive, reactive, and seemingly without any motivation, drive, or indeed much of anything else.

This impression was made worse by the fact that before the show came out, I saw the original version of the first episode. In it, the vilely annoying younger sister was instead deaf (which could have been very interesting indeed, as well as generally positive) and our hero was college dropout bartender because while she was in Berkley, her mother died suddenly and she had to drop out of college to support the younger deaf sister she suddenly had to take care of. I didn't like that version, but it wasn't utterly loathsome. Here, we have a typically bratty younger sister abandoned by useless father and a young woman with no hint of ambition, drive, or competence as the main character. Becca's comment was that the entire surgery and recruitment scenes were an elaborate rape metaphor, and I'm inclined to agree. Avoid this show at all costs, and if someone tells you that it's an empowering statement for women (phrases I have had the misfortune to see in reviews of it) ignore their comments and hand than a good basic introduction to feminism. Buffy & Xena were empowering, this is mind-rotting eye-candy for the 18-25 male audience.

Astoundingly Trashy but Fun
is a cheezy vampire show about a cynical but compassionate vampire private eye and a plucky young female web-journalist who has previously been touched by the supernatural – together they fight crime (no really). Some of the minor characters are shockingly good for a show this trashy and while it's ludicrously genre'd (in the sense that the police can provide all manner of valuable information, but clearly can't solve a blindingly obvious open and shut case to save their lives) if you like truly trashy vampire novels, then you will likely enjoy this show. I'm not certain I expect it to last very long, but given that wretched idiocy like Eureka is in its second season, it's difficult to say what will be popular.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
What I heard at dinner last night was "she loses three limbs in an accident, and wakes up to find replacements, and is *horrified*" which sounds silly. Less silly if she was never awake during the "three limbs missing" stage so that her consciousness went directly from "limbs" to "artificial limbs"; I don't know.
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
As an unrelated side-note, congrats at getting the developer job my friend. You definitely deserved it!
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
I agree with you strongly.

Journeyman really delivered. My wife, who is a writer, felt that the show never misstepped. The dialog and characters' reactions were spot-on. The motivations made sense. People are doing smart things. It's not one of those, 'people do one dumb thing after another' formulaic plots. I'm looking forward to the next episode (tonight? I dunno, but my TiVo does).

Bionic Woman, on the other hand, disappointed me at every turn. I just don't care about the characters. Except Katee Sackhoff's, cuz Starbuck -- er, Sarah Corvis -- is a great character. And Sackhoff is a fantastic actor. Fifteen minutes into the second episode, my wife and I were pretty sure we weren't going to watch the series any more. The clincher for us was the torture scene. We'd had enough of this crap from 24. I don't know if the Bionic Woman's supervisor's torture threats materialized into anything, because we stopped watching. Maybe Jamie Sommers overheard it and broke in and stopped it. Whatever.
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
Is Moonlight worth watching with running commentary (a la Batman)?
[User Picture]
Date:October 5th, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
Moonlight is pretty much made for running commentary. And instant replays, especially for the minor characters' *utterly fantastic* lines.

[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
I was pretty impressed with Journeyman, too, but I hate to say it I don't see it lasting very long. We can hope that maybe NBC will move it over to Sci Fi if it fails on the network. At least it has a chance given that it's after Heroes, but then again that didn't help the Black Donnellys (aka the Irish Sopranos as I used to call it -- not sure what I thought of that one given that I watched it to kill a 12 hour shift on a Sunday so my tolerance for programming was much higher at the time).

Have you seen Dexter?
[User Picture]
Date:October 6th, 2007 07:07 am (UTC)
I'm actually betting on Journeyman making it, but not Moonlight, but I also thought Firefly would succeed, so what do I know. I've heard of Dexter, but don't get Showtime. Is it good?
[User Picture]
Date:October 7th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
I don't know why I don't think that Journeyman will make it other than it's just not the kind of show that makes it, kind of like Firefly.

I really enjoy Dexter. I will admit that some of the women on the show are stereotypical victims, but then many of the men are victims, too. Dexter is as much a victim as he is a killer. I think in many ways it explores the different manifestations of being a victim. Some are the stereotypical and others are the not so stereotypical and even pathological. It can be pretty gory at times so if a lot of blood bothers you you may want to avoid it.

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