Discuss and Rate the Last Thing You Watched (non-movies)

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How you make through all that without mentioning...
*cough*Mass Effect*cough*

The season was just Star Trek: Mass Effect

Mass Effect was just Star Control 2.

There's enough distinctions between Mass Effect and Star Control 2 for it to not be a blatant rip-off.

It's as least as strong as your assertion that Picard blatantly rips off Mass Effect.


It's as least as strong as your assertion that Picard blatantly rips off Mass Effect.

You can say Star Control 2 is just Starflight as well. There's enough differences in Mass Effect to make it different enough like the whole synthetics/organics stuff.

I'm just watching the new Harley Quinn cartoon. I want to see her succeed in taking on the new Injustice League.

The Last Tycoon (season 1)

Loosely based off F. Scott Fitzgerald's last, incomplete, posthumously published novel. To the layman this will probably look like Mad Men if it was set in the 1930s and Don Draper was a hotshot producer. Like Draper, Monroe Stahr is a self-made man with an embarrassing (ie. impoverished) past who's adopted a fake name and built himself a status as a hotshot golden boy whose boss tolerates his unorthodox methods because the man gets results. And despite all of his apparent success he's emotionally crippled by an unhappiness and emptiness that he tries filling up all the wrong ways.

I've read the novel, which is largely plotless and barely amounts to one half of a first draft. As a result the show gets to make up as much as it wants. The Depression and the rise of fascism, which are completely absent from the book, are big plot points throughout the course of the mini-series and are used effectively. And unlike the book, the show heavility features historical celebrities in its plot like Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg (the real-world basis for Monroe) and a cartoonish Fritz Lang.

I also enjoyed going through the motions of the studio system: the castings, the rehearsals, the previews, the reshoots, all that jazz. I love all that. I would've liked it the show be more about that, Hail Caesar style, and less about the melodrama and love trifectas. But around the halfway point the show goes full soap opera and by the end it has devolved into this prolapsed standoff of secrets and blackmail that had me begging for the chain reaction that would end them all.

Critically, I don't like Matt Bomer as Monroe. He's handsome, fine. He's also too cute and too puppy-eyed for the part. He's bland and tends to blend in with the background. He just doesn't have *that* presence, like how Don Draper can walk into a room and just own it through sheer looks and body language. He never seemed in charge, never really exuded that kind of power. Kelsey Grammer as his boss and Lily Collins as her daughter acted rings around him.

There's a scene in the novel where Monroe narrates off the top of his head a made up scene about a woman in some sort of trouble, which is meant to teach a screenwriter how to write suspense (to the point the writer asks what happens next, and Monroe just shrugs). The scene is word-for-word adapted in the Elia Kazan movie with Robert de Niro, and it shows up in the Amazon show as well, but mangled to a fault. Here Monroe's monologue is directed to a priest (never mind why), and the monologue is interspliced with scenes dramatizing and illustrating the narration. This completely misses the original point, which is: it doesn't matter what you're saying, because if you say it the right way your audience will meet you halfway.

(Basically it'd be like remaking Pulp Fiction so it shows the contents of the briefcase)

And if that doesn't perfectly illustrate the show's own incompetence in storytelling, I don't know what does.

Black Sails: Season 4 (3/5)

Season's fine, though the ending is balls. Turns out it's not a prequel to Treasure Island, at best, it's the "true story" sort of thing.

Yeah, don't have much else. I will say that the series ended (as a season) much stronger than how it started, but it's remained "okay" at best. That I have so little to talk about is kind of indicative of this.

Camp Camp: Season 4 (3/5)

Well, this is a new low for the series.

Actually, that's not fair. The season isn't bad by any means, and only has one bad episode. But right now, it's a case of 1>3>2>4, with only the first season being genuinely good. I mean, I still like this series, and I've got Muack as my avatar for a reason, but...

Okay, let me elaborate. You can look at my reviews of the previous seasons in this thread, but basically, up to this point, every CC season has had a theme of sorts to it. Season 1 was the different outlooks of Max and David building up before coming to a head at the season's climax - a climax that could have easily concluded the series. Season 2 expanded on the side characters, and explored Max's parental issues. Season 3 had the issue of what would happen to the camp. Season 4, however? It's hard to say what the overall theme or arc is. I mean, the first episode of this season more or less reverses the conclusion of season 3, making a point that Max hasn't changed, despite coming to appreciate Camp Campbell by the end of season 3. You might think it's "nah, he's still insisting that he hasn't changed," but no, that's kind of the angle it goes for, that he's still a little shit. I mean, it fits in with the show's cynical nature (cynicism that's a close cousin of the kind presented in South Park), but still, it's a bit too heavy on "status quo is king."

So what does that leave us?

Well, what we have are various sub-plots. Campbell has a redemption arc...sort of. Quartermaster has the whole supernatural thing that culminates with squirrels invading the camp for the death of their king in season 1, but after losing the camp, they just build a new one, and it's never brought up again. At the very final episode, Max remembers that obstensibly a character arc was written with him improving as a person and tries to cheer up Gwen, but there's nothing connecting this moment with the start of the season. So what you're left with is various sub-plots that don't really go anywhere. There's a microcosm in a very episode which has the kids change personalities effectively, with Max railing against it before accepting that people change, including him, but then it pulls a "yeah, no" move and everything goes back to normal.

And technically that's not bad. As I've said, the series is character rather than plot driven. It's not uncommon for shows like this for a character to undergo meaningful development in a given episode, but the events of that episode not really impacting anything else in the future. Homer Simpson can lose weight, but will always be overweight. Meg Griffin will sometimes stand up for herself, but will remain fated to be the family's punching bag. Bob's Burgers (the restaurant) may do good business, but it'll never become the next Burger King. Camp Camp is in the vein of these shows, so is it fair to criticize it for not shaking things up? In my mind...maybe. Maybe, because the past three seasons may not have broken the status quo, but did give me a sense that some characters were changing, even if that change was limited to Max and David for the most part. Season 4 however, either reverts any kind of character change, or brushes it to the side. So while the humour is still there, the heart isn't as much.

So, still fun, but also the weakest season I've seen.

Homecoming (season 1)

Imagine a 5 hour psychological thriller filmed under the Black Mirror banner and then chopped up in 10 equal portions. And I'm sorry to bring Black Mirror up. Black Mirror hasn't trademarked "humanity fucks itself through misguided government programs and technology", but something about the show's look and style reminds me of Black Mirror's too.

The story is about a program called Homecoming, designed to socially acclimate PTSD-riddled soldiers back from tour. It's not immediately obvious how the program works, other than isolating soldiers in a private facility and doing therapy with Julia Roberts for a few weeks. To be fair the vagueness of where these people are and the process they're going through plays into the plot, which kept me hooked if not guessing.

I really like the direction. The show speaks a lot through editing, sound design and camera work, which is pretty rare for a TV series, especially in such short-form (some episodes clock in 25 minutes). I like the overhead shots, the wide lenses, the use of negative space, the ominous symmetries, the eerie piano plinking and how the camera keeps recording candidly while credits roll over ambient sound. There's also a time element: scenes take place in 2018 or "4 years later" (shot in grimy 4:3), and the show gets a lot of mileage by playing the suspense in that time skip.

The one thing I would criticize is the ending. Not that the show doesn't end on a satisfying note but it's built up to be so dark and menacing, and the payoff is so mundane, it feels like a cop out.

Caught up on Clone Wars season 7. The Ashoka smuggler arc isn't as good as the Bad Batch Arc but not as terrible as some people making it out to be. It looks like the season is going to kick into gear now that the mandalorians have shown up.

Speaking of which, I finally start watching the Mandalorian and so far I'm digging it. I guess I didn't realize(or just forgot) that this is basically a Spaghetti Western by way of Star Wars, but as someone who grew up on the Clint Eastwood "Man with no name" Westerns It's nice to see. I'm up to the point Mando(who has no name or face so far) took the babbby yoda and had to shoot it way out, leading to him being a fugitive/hunted man because, what, do you think he's gonna let the baby get dissected?

All of this keeps making me wonder: So, why can Disney pull off some good to excellant Star Wars shows(I haven't seen Resistance so I don't know if that in the "good" range) but for some reason has a really tough time making the Movies just work. The last one I actually liked was Rogue One because it's a fucking commando movie with just the right amount of fanservice(with my favorite Villian, Tarkin, making a return appearance as a fucking SOB). After that, The Last Jedi was......a cool premise with a mostly awful execution, which is ironically still better then the Rise of the Skywalker which I still haven't brung myself to watch because....I guess because I know I'm probably gonna be mad at how stupid it is.

Maybe we just need to leave the Jedi alone or something? I don't know. Stop trying to put giant cannons on everything? Figure out why Disney Suits can't plan out a 3 movie plot arc with any degree of competence?

Chambord: The Castle, The King & The Architect

This was a documentary on Curiosity stream about an epic castle in France built during the renaissance and designed by Leonardo De Vinchy himself.

Its basicly the definition of high fantasy castle, so check it out.

Tiger King: WTF / 10

This series is a train wreck of horrible people doing horrible things to each other all while being surrounded by some of the most dangerous animals on earth. I'd say you almost have to see it to believe it, but I did see it and I still don't believe it.

Flamboyantly gay, white trash, polygamist redneck Joe Exotic runs a "zoo" with hundreds of big, wild cats that he romps around with like they're golden retrievers. Animal rights activist Carole "that bitch" Baskins users her substantial resources to try to shut him down. Arguments, threats, lawsuits and paranoia ensue, Exotic finds himself in some shady deals with some shitty characters to save his park and get rid of Baskins... uh... there's meth (of course)... um... oh, he apparently ran for president and ultimately settled for campaigning for governor of Oklahoma during which he handed out condoms with his picture on them; that's a thing he did. And somehow, this human garbage actually managed to garner actual respect from those that worked in his zoo; many times they run to his defense, like the woman employee who had her arm torn off by a tiger and was back to work within a week to protect the image of the zoo and Exotic's claim that his big cats weren't dangerous.

This show is a mess; you can't look away. I'm almost ready to say it's a mocumentary because it's that literally incredible. Watch at your own risk, but be ready for a shower when you're done because that utter filth that is these people will come through the screen.

Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Season 1)

The premise is very reminiscent of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, based on the autobiography of TV presenter Chuck Barris, where he claims his high-profile, globetrotting TV gig was a front for his other job as a CIA hitman. Jean-Claude Van Johnson instead reimagines Van Damme as a comedy secret agent who uses low-budget film shoots in faraway locations as a front for black ops (excusing the decreasing quality of his movies, to the point of starring in action re-imaginings of literary classics).

The series is simultaneously a vanity project and also an act of self-deprecation. It constantly name-drops Van Damme "classics" from his heyday (which I feel doth inflate their importance or popularity in retrospect, though that works for comic effect) but also features Van Damme as a washed-out, insecure version of his former self who nobody cares for or even remembers. The show alternates between parodying tropes of b-movie action flicks ("Quick, attack him one at a time!") and showcasing what I assume is genuine pathos for Van Damme, who emotes about his fear of filling the emptiness inside him and not being loved anymore.

The thing was produced for some baffling reason by Ridley Scott (guess he's a fan), the creator is Expendables writer David Callaham (obviously) and it was directed by Peter Atencio, the guy who directed every Key & Peele skit and the Keanu movie. He has a very earnest style and shoots everything at face value. So instead of embracing the silliness Naked Gun style the result is more along the lines of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer (or Key & Peele skit), where the thing knows it's ridiculous from the start so it runs the opposite way in comic denial.

Honestly I kinda liked it. I was surprised how a lot of early throwaway jokes tend to stick around as part of the plot or come back with an unexpected twist. Throughout the show JCVD is shooting an action re-imagining of Huckleberry Finn and every episode comes up with a new gag about it. A throwaway joke about an imaginary Timecop/Looper rivalry ends up being crucial to the plot. And the story ends up contriving itself to the point where it takes precisely a leg split to save the day.

The show was cancelled after one season and that's just as well, it probably milked the premise for all it's worth. I guess I would've liked to see other Hollywood wash-outs team with JCVD or against him. The supporting parts are a big whatever.

Tiger King

Documentary series on private zoos and the people who run them. Now, if you hear the term "private zoos" and assume the people who run them are the worst of the worst, you probably have a pretty good idea what to expect. Tiger King centers on a variety of Harmony Korine movie rejects, mainly an Oklahoma based zookeeper with the pynchonian name Joseph "Joe Exotic" Schreibvogel/Maldonado-Passage, his feud with a lady named Carole Baskin who runs an animal shelter and various people in their orbit. I could go into detail but it's a show about sleazy, self obsessed weirdoes who would probably get a kick out of people on the internet analyzing their personalities. Joe Exotic is in a relationship with two men, another zookeeper is running a new agey sex cult, yet another one is a skeevy Las Vegas playboy. You know. Fun. All of this would be mighty amusing, were it fictional, but it isn't, so it isn't. I'm not one to moralize but there is a point to be made that we can look at something like Tiger King as entertainment is indicative of how fucking alienated we are as a society. It's rather depressing to think that these people I wouldn't trust to water my plants have custody over endangered animals but here we are. Parts of it reminded me of Michael Bay's masterpiece Pain and Gain, itself based on a profoundly odd true story, but Tiger King's matter of fact presentation and documentary nature mean it lacks Pain and Gains deeper moral. It was clear Bay had little but contempt for his fictionalized version of three criminal bodybuilders, Tiger King often seems to treat Joseph Schreibvogel and the people around him with winking affection. There is an essay to be written about what Tiger King says about American culture, capitalism, animal husbandry, the justice system and god knows what else but I can't be arsed. I mainly just feel sorry about these cats, man.

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