iZombie – Season 1

I’ve been watching this show through the season with some bemused interest, but didn’t quite feel the need to talk about it, especially given that there wasn’t much to say about it in general that I hadn’t already said about some other shows.  Leaving the conundrum: Do I repeat myself in the hope that new readers will stop by and appreciate not having to dig through my archives?  Will they find repetition while they dig through archives annoying?  And will either of my readers get fed up with the repetition and go away?  Ah such are the burdens of anonymity.

So yeah, I watched through this season and enjoyed its mix of a little bit Psych, a little bit CSI, and a little bit Supernatural.  It was a fairly creative take on the old police procedural without them breaking suspension TOO much (which is more the fault of my day job than the show writers) while having a premise that wasn’t stretched too much after the first dozen cases or had run thin (like Numbers or Lie to Me could).

Spoiler Free: If you enjoy those type of police procedural shows and like to have a bit of the fantastic mixed in to keep things interesting, I’d say definitely rent this and check it out.  Consistently above average for a 1st season and entertaining.  Keep an eye out for it on redbox or Netflix.

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Spoiler Review: When I first watched Once Upon a Time, it was kind of as a joke to see “oh how silly will this get.”  I’m a big lover of MST3k so snarking on crappy art is entertainment for me.  That show ended up slapping me in the face and smothering me to death with its quality (while… embracing and even enjoying its silliness – I still swear that OUaT is the show LOST should have been).

I went into iZombie with some similar expectations.  But this time it very slyly, very quietly seduced me with its quality until the next thing I knew, I woke up and we had married, moved to the suburbs, and produced 2.3 children together.

A lot of this comes from the show underplaying things (and yes I am saying this about a show where a zombie opens a butcher shop catering business).  I say “underplaying” because a lot of things moving the plot forward come from logical character decisions.  It makes perfect sense for a drug dealer to spread zombism as a way of getting rich on a product he can monopolize (while Liz never considers that she could solve some problems by operating a competing business from her supply – perfectly in character).  A zombie apocalypse as portrayed in most media couldn’t really happen (as pointed out by cracked.com in one of its old, quality articles – or you can just notice how rabies hasn’t exactly taken over the world) but in this show we have a believable set up. (First person to bring up WWZ is getting the fire-hose.)  Here, zombism is a manageable condition that could spread quietly for a long time until a supply chain problem causes it to break out of bounds.  It’s a lot of these little, touches that draw in my world-building fascination and hold my interest through the season (which is why I always say: take care of the small things in your story, and the big picture will come together).

Another thing I greatly appreciate is that the show’s use of metaphors isn’t too overt (part of why I just could never get into TrueBlood).  Is zombism here a metaphor for AIDS?  It could be.  It doesn’t have to be.  Through this show we the audience can discuss tough questions like where does a person’s right to privacy end and the safety of the wider community begin?  The people that Blaine has infected, are they enslaved innocents or cowards who cannot do what they must?  Heck if you want to get into metaphors, the character “major” is one that on paper, should be annoying.  He’s practically a gary stu in his goodness, to the point that even other saints would go, “Dude, lighten up a little.”  Is his “perfection” a representative of God/Christ while Blaine represents devil figures?  Is their low level war over Seattle (and Liv in particular) a fitting echo of Bible’s central drama?

Sure, maybe it all could be, but the point is that it doesn’t have to be.  Sometimes a brain-eating zombie is just a brain-eating zombie.  But I like that the show has the room for those sorts of examinations, and it makes me look forward to the next season. I like even more that the show actually puts in work to make the characters in it actually likable.  Too often many shows/movies seem to operate under the logic of “well these people are pretty and the focus of the camera, the audience simply must like them!”  So good job on that too, show runners.

I don’t know how long they can sustain the zombie plot for a few more seasons.  It’s my understanding that the comic book this show is based on took story arcs based on a more “Monster of the Week” examination of the extranormal world.  While it sounds interesting, I think keeping the first season low key was a wise choice.  They can get 1 maybe 2 more seasons from the zombism itself before the show would need to branch out.  I’m looking forward to see where it goes from here…

Until next season.

Nate watches Amazing Spider-Man 2

I took a long time getting to this since I heard so much bad about it.  Still, I love Spider-man action sequences and finally thought: “Well, may as well see it for myself.”

So that was a great Superman movie.

(no seriously, listen to some of the soundtrack and see if it doesn’t sound just like what you’d expect in a supes movie – heck at one point Spidey even carries a car like Superman)

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So a new geek law: No movie will be good in which Harry Osborne becomes the green goblin.

Seriously the comparisons between this and Spidey 3 are apt in that both are not as bad as a lot of people remember, but they’re not great movies either.  Barely mediocre really and all for the same reason.  A reason that describes every Spider-man film since #3 actually: “Not a bad first draft.”  Good ideas are there, but it is not executed well.  The most obvious is that  Peter goes and finds his dad’s secret lab, AFTER he has turned down Harry Osborne.  As it is, why does Peter turn his friend down?  No real reason without the viewer constructing a large set of suppositions (aka: a plot hole).  Have him discover the secret lab FIRST, THEN Peter has a logical character reason to do that.

Which is funny because in all the reviews I’ve seen of this film, nobody seems to have pointed out that a few cuts would have made it fit much better. (although I’ve seen 2 repeated points brought up that, it turns out, are addressed in the movie – looking at you cinema sins & redlettermedia – none of you guys mentioned the “voices in electro’s head bit”?)

Like Aunt May’s subplot?  Why not trim it and have her be the one to push Peter to be with Gwen? (after all, she’s a nice girl and May wouldn’t want Peter to spend his life alone)  Her invoking the memory of Uncle Ben and their time together would have been a nice counterpart to the memory of Ghost Dad Captain Stacey.  Max’s story is that he just wants a friend.  Osborne is feeling friendless.  Why not bring them together sooner?  Instead of having Max transformed just because of a random mishap, why not while he’s doing a favor for Harry?  Why does Harry have to go through Peter to get to Spidey AGAIN?  In Spidey 2 it made some sense from the way things were framed.  In ASM2?  Why not just put in an offer in the Bugle?  When Gwen is hanging by a thread in the clock tower, why doesn’t she try swinging over to one of the ledges on the side? (Mary Jane could do that much in Spidey1 and this was just after Gwen had gone on a whole speech about “taking care of herself.”)  What the heck was Electro arrested for the first time?  Almost all his actions in time square could legally be defined as self-defense! (Seriously, the lawsuit Electro could bring against the city… he could cause more damage with that than his electricity shenanigans.)  And what is Harry arrested for?

There was still a few things I liked about it.  Most of the action sequences, especially the ones where he’s saving people and his relationships with ordinary folks.

All in all my general principle stands: ASM movies are great at capturing individual Spidey moments within them, while the original Rami movies are the best at capturing the entirety of Spidey.  By this point I’m ready for Spider-man to return to Marvel Studios if for no other reason than their movies have at least proven to have READ the script and had EDITORS look over it.

But Mark Webb can go work on Superman.

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(Actually if a fan out there wants to take the above ideas and recut the film into a more logical structure, all I ask is a link so I can appreciate your work.)