TV Thread

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: TV Thread

Post: # 10124Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:56 pm

Marvel is making a She-Hulk TV series. I wrote and directed a She-Hulk feature film in 2007-9 which was pretty popular. Wish I was writing for this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OBoR74FRMQ

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: TV Thread

Post: # 10270Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:11 am

Netflix's GLOW season 3: It's good to see such a likeable show return for a third go-round. Love is in the air as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling begin their residency in Las Vegas, and unfortunately so is the Space Shuttle Challenger. Ruth Wilder and Debbie Eagan are taping a live promo as the tragedy happens.

Geena Davis joins the cast as a Las Vegas producer. (At age 63 she still does a semi-nude scene in a Cher-like Bob Mackie outfit.) Toby Huss plays "Tex," a middle-aged millionaire and love interest for Debbie. (He's starting to look like William Hartnell.)

Kevin Cahoon plays drag performer Bobby Barnes, one of several storylines about gay identity this year, which turn out to be very affecting, if also left unresolved (and perhaps unresolvable). Elizabeth Perkins also reoccurs briefly as Bash Howard's disapproving mother Birdie - something of a stock character whose point of view we eventually understand.

GLOW is an unusual series. It's not quite an hourlong series and not a half-hour series either. The episodes vary in length somewhere inbetween. It's largely an ensemble comedy but done in the style of a prestige drama. Its characters have dark sides and tragic sides that the series delves into, but never too deeply. It's a fun series that cares a lot about its characters and usually doesn't torture them too badly.

Season 3 lets us see more of the supporting characters, and gives them all storylines to some extent. I don't have much to say about Reggie, Stacey and Dawn this year but the cast all get memorable things to do, and some storyline focus, which is all you can ask from a show like this. It feels like this year, they wanted to prove that their entire cast could act.

The 80s misogyny of the male characters, like Sam, Bash and Tex, is usually pushed to the background, coming up as a plot point only at times of crisis.

In theory the GLOW wrestling show is the same every night in Vegas, and sort of a "greatest hits" situation, so we don't see much of it performed. We do see wrestling when something changes onstage. There's an episode where they all switch roles, for reasons. And there's a Christmas special of the sort that would have made more sense if GLOW was still a TV show rather than a Las Vegas show. I found the season 2 episode where they show the GLOW TV show too absurd, so having less of that is a small mercy.

My main issue with GLOW season 3 is that it feels like half a season, and leaves its storylines unresolved. Relocating the show to Las Vegas should have made this year feel very self-contained with a well-defined beginning and end. But this feels more like a setup for season 4, which has been confirmed and will be the show's last. Presumably that will provide a defined ending, and I'll be sad to see these characters go.

The leading characters of Debbie and Ruth (and perhaps Sam) get a lot to do this time round, but aren't always the main focus. There are a lot of characters to juggle here, and the show still has a lot to say.

In the first two episodes, Sam struggles with his feelings for Ruth. Debbie struggles with being away from her 10-month-old child. Bash and Rhonda try to make their marriage happen. Yolanda and Arthie try to make their relationship happen. Everyone's onstage characters are still super embarrassing.

Cherry and Keith's marriage hits a snag over the question of starting a family.

Debbie wants to be more respected as a producer. Ruth still wants to be an actress, as does Sheila the She-Wolf, who is going through an identity crisis.

So is everyone else, as Jenny finds it harder to play her racist character "Fortune Cookie," putting her at odds with Jackie and leading to a revealing moment.

Justine returns, and she's written a screenplay for her father to read. Carmen also has bigger dreams as a wrestler.

Meanwhile Tammé is finding it harder to get into the ring as Welfare Queen.

This all leads up to a cliffhanger ending setting up season 4, a final season that should give a finality to all these storylines. We'll see how that goes.

GLOW has been a real accomplishment as a series, a female-driven show that balances comedy and drama, balances a lot of different shifting tones, and balances its leads with a large cast of supporting characters. Season 3 felt unresolved and left me wanting more. We'll see how that goes.

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Re: TV Thread

Post: # 10275Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:48 am

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Episode One) - Sometimes a revival of an old property gets things exactly right. It's a miracle that this show exists at all.

Jim Henson's 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal is a masterpiece of puppetry, perhaps the most impressive puppet-based film ever made. It's also a flawed film that wasn't well-received in its time, and I doubt there was much demand for a revival now. It was originally filmed with very little English dialogue. After test screenings Henson and the producers got cold feet and added voices to the Skeksis villains, as well as more voiceover for lead Gelfling Jen. This explained the film better but also dumbed it down. It overexplained its own simplistic plot, leaving viewers wanting more than the visually-lush film was providing.

Tonally the film is probably a bit too scary for children, and adults weren't necessarily clamoring for a fantasy film starring Jim Henson's Muppets. It's a visually stunning masterpiece, but it's a film that even many Muppet fans respect rather than truly love as entertainment.

Somehow, the exact tone and style of the original 1982 film have arrived intact in this Netflix TV series revival. It's still done with puppets. There's an all-star voice cast of in-demand Hollywood actors, but behind the scenes you'll see the names of veteran Muppeteers who've worked on Muppet films going back decades. There are some digital effects, but only to expand the world.

And this is a much-expanded view of Thra, the world of The Dark Crystal. The series is a prequel, and expands our point of view, and the scope of the piece, beyond what was possible in 1982. The ambitions of this series are more on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Except with Muppets.

The series reproduces the look and feel of the original film, and recreates everything that was good about it, but its ambitions are larger on a story level. The story of the 1982 film was a simple one. The series has more characters and more to say. There's never been a film quite like The Dark Crystal, before or since. But this series recaptures that style with precision, and improves on it by telling a bigger story, involving a lot more characters.

The vulture-like Skeksis are back, as are the elflike Gelflings, who were a nearly extinct species in the 1982 film. Here, there are several thriving Gelfling clans all across the world of Thra. As puppets the Gelflings aren't as expressive as they could be, and they all look similar enough to one another that it may take a little effort to tell them apart. Some puppeteers are better at closing the Gelflings' mouths than others.

The Skeksis, who are not originally from Thra, rule over the Gelflings, Podlings and other creatures, with apparent benevolence. But the Skeksis are greedy, using the power of the Crystal of Truth to extend their lives unnaturally and make themselves immortal. They don't care about anyone but themselves. In the original film they represent the Seven Deadly Sins, and the same characters reoccur here. They are the ultimate ruling class, and their continued success depends on the failure and poverty of everyone else on the planet. Their greed is destroying the Crystal, and destroying the world.

Jim Henson usually had a message behind everything he did. He found his early fame teaching children how to read on Sesame Street, and his later work usually educated children in a more subtle way. By watching The Muppets you could, perhaps, learn something about friendship, family, and self-expression. Muppet Babies and Little Muppet Monsters were about creativity, and intended to inspire children to be creative. The Jim Henson Hour was about creating television, as a profession. Fraggle Rock was intended to promote world peace, by showing very different races of creature whose survival nonetheless relied on one another, in ways that aren't obvious until you see the larger picture.

Jim would have approved of "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance," which is effectively a parable about capitalism and climate change. The greed of a vulturous ruling class has hollowed out the world for the benefit of just a few. The world is now crumbling with a disastrous change which will kill the struggling poor first. The people see their rulers as benevolent rather than greedy, but must learn to take charge for themselves and overthrow the ruling class, otherwise their species, and their planet, is doomed within the space of ten episodes. But knowing what we do about the original 1982 movie, it sounds like this "Resistance" is doomed.

The Skeksis, in this revival, benefit a lot from their English dialogue. The original Skeksis were not intended to speak English, and their dialogue was an afterthought. It shows. Here we get a masterclass in puppet acting that Jim would have approved of. You get used to the Gelflings as well, once the story kicks in. The puppet work is well up to the standards you would have expected of the Jim Henson company when Jim was still around, and I can think of no higher compliment.

The revival series is beautiful and delivers everything that fans of the original film could want. It feels like any producers who might have wanted to change The Dark Crystal into something it isn't were asleep at the wheel. This feels very much like a production made by the Jim Henson Company, for fans of Jim Henson and the Muppets, and for lovers of fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings as well. The series is also pretty dark and complicated. It might be too dark for kids and not be what most adults are looking for either. In that regard, it's just like the original 1982 film.

I've only seen one episode so far, but I can't recommend it highly enough. It's that rare revival of an old property that gets everything exactly right.

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Re: TV Thread

Post: # 10277Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sun Oct 13, 2019 12:07 am

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie - Breaking Bad aired its last episode in 2013. It's a real accomplishment that this film picks up immediately after, as if no time has passed, and retains the same tone as the TV series. Much of the original cast reappears, in flashbacks or otherwise, as Jesse deals with the trauma he's been through and tries to escape to a new life. It's a dark, tense thriller which gives a resolution to the character of Jesse Pinkman that wasn't possible within the original series, since Breaking Bad was more focused on Bryan Cranston's Walter White, and ended when he did. That doesn't mean this movie is anything all that unusual, special, outstanding or great. Compared to Breaking Bad, it feels like more of the same, and will be of most interest to people watching the original series and wanting another episode of it. It's the new "real finale" and that's fine.

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