Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Round Up: 24, Lost, Kings, Seaguy

24. The first seven episodes of season seven and the movie Redemption, all filmed before the writer's strike, were kind of awful -- like the worst season of 24 ever. But the break obviously cleared everyone's heads because after those seven episodes the rest, (written a year later?) have been equal to the heights of season 7. It's all a simple formula, each season essentially a remake of the first, but the back third of season seven and season 5 are to my mind the best. John Voight is one of the best villains, with even more comic book-y impish charm than Dennis Hopper in season one -- at one point, when he realizes his agent Quinn will face off against Jack he says "Quinn's Good. But Jack's good too." You have to think most actors would have read the line as if they were worried about the outcome but Voight plays it like a guy who just likes to see a good fight and anticipates that this one will be interesting whatever the outcome. The most recent episode has the US military facing off against Voight's private army of 1500 mercenaries armed with WMDs and Jack, on the sidelines, dying from a chemical weapon. Surely Jack will get better (24 season 8, the last, has already been announced) but right now this show is at the top of it's game. The most recent episode also typified what 24 does best -- stall for one hour at a time, here with a fake out where an employee seems like he is leading the army to the place where the weapon is, but is merely stalling for time, just as the show's producers need him to.

LOST. My friend Jill already sent me an email about the most recent episode and I agreed with her 100% -- the conversation between Hurley and Miles was a lot of fun, and the bit and the end where Ben, taken by the Others, will not remember anything solves a problem that does not need solving. I liked better the idea that he DID remember them, just never said anything. Maybe the next episode -- an amazing looking Ben flashback that should have lots of mythology -- will clear that up but like the ending of the last episode this was a bit of a cop out. As for the Kate story -- the actress has said that she does not really like or understand the mythology stuff and so the writers seem to keep her far away from the pulpy stuff Locke and Ben are better about -- here they avoid TWICE her having to relate the weird goings on on the island to Cassidy and Claire's mom with a well timed commercial break. Still the episode hit some very good emotional beats and provided a good explanation why she would be motivated to return -- not just with the "find Clare" thing but also why she realizes she needs to. Jack's refusal to help was also good -- it allowed the writers of the show to take his character somewhere and also not repeat themselves with Jack saving Ben again. What's left for this season: A Ben flashback, what happened to Daniel, the big purge, Sun finding everyone? Only six episodes to go this season.

Kings -- the recent episode of Kings was pretty good as well, though again, this show is totally doomed. It was a pretty typical soap opera but it did include an interesting defense of the monarchy as something for people to believe in, a kind of show they NEED, and had a great sequence where Silas hits a deer and makes a hard sacrifice to say in God's favor.

Seaguy -- I like Seaguy OK. I liked the last series as well but of Morrison's stuff this was never my favorite. It is a great series, but something about it leaves me a little cold. Jog makes a great argument that the previous Seaguy was motivated by Morrison's despair over his New X-Men run -- his inability to make lasting changes for example, and the idea that there are forces keeping superheroes (Morrison's metaphor for the Blakean Imagination) in check, to keep them from being as imaginatively revolutionary as they should be. With Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew in Final Crisis 7 however and the success of All Star Superman it feels like Morrison kinda won -- comics have made major strides to embrace the crazy kooky past they spent the post Watchmen years being kind of ashamed of. This was the argument he was floating in Animal Man, and Flex Mentallo, and JLA and New X-Men and the Invisibles, Seven Soldiers and so on -- including Batman where he put him in that insane outfit. I mean obviously there are a lot of crummy comics out there but I am not sure a new iteration of his old argument is really going to do anything about it. And Morrison seemed like he was not going to need to anymore the way he sort of has his own Micro-Universe of Morrisonia like Solaris and the Golden Superman in his All Star Superman run. I am curious to see what his return to Seaguy is motivated by. I kind of feel like it is time for a Phase 2 Morrison now and I am not sure what on earth that should look like -- except I feel like he has gone awfully far in his main direction, and it needs to be something ELSE, or at least a kind of half twist on the kinds of stories he has been telling. Or maybe I have my Phase 2 Morrison in works like WE3 and All Star Superman, works that are much more subtle about their agenda, works that put story first, message second (or maybe works that make sure the story is fully functioning on its own before the message gets there) -- and I want more of that, instead of more commentary on the genre, and how the imagination need to be released from the shackles of a dictatorship that only wants to twist it to dull ends. It's the same argument Moore makes in Promethea and the most recent League, and it is pretty much the same argument Blake spent all his time on. That said -- a lot of writers have sort of one theme they keep approaching in different ways over and over -- maybe, as a person who has almost everything he has done, I have just sort of had my fill. Beckett is a genius, but I got to a point reading Beckett where I needed to move on too. (I read way too much Beckett my sophomore year of college).


Jason said...

Geoff, FYI, you watched "Duck Soup" wrong.

Voice Of The Eagle said...

On Lost -I'm afraid I agree with Ms. Lilly. The mythos has become ridiculously convoluted. There is NO possible way the writers can bring it together in any satisfying way.

As for Duck Soup - everyone is entitled their own opinion and yours is wrong.

Geoff Klock said...

Jason VoE re: Duck Soup-- so everyone tells me. I have gotten actual HATE MAIL over this. I never should have admitted I watched that movie and did not laugh. :)

Jason said...

Geoff. For what it's worth, I posted my light-hearted sentence and then, later, came across the hate mail. And felt bad because now it seemed like I was adding insult to injury. I never intended to be part of a pile-on!

Anyway, comedy is subjective ... but I have found "Duck Soup" is best enjoyed as roughly the third movie in a Marx Brothers marathon. I don't expect you to do that, but it really does make the move much funnier if you've already gotten used to the Bros. rhythms and such. They get funnier the more you watch them, somehow.

Kyle said...

like The Big Lebowski

In regards to there being no possible satisfying ending, I would've thought that based on the Galactica finale, then Life on Mars managed to make nearly complete sense at the end. Something can be both bullshit and satisfactory.

Anonymous said...

You're not alone, Geoff. Duck Soup left me absolutely cold.

Doug M.

Geoff Klock said...

Oh thank god Doug. HATE mail. Actual mail from people telling me that they would, in all seriousness, never read my blog again.

Mikey said...

Geoff - is this kind of reaction a belated "welcome to the internet" moment? In the sense that this happens all the time. Overreaction, monomania, newsarama etc.

I'm sure it can be quite disconcerting when it happens.....

speedreeder said...

Geoff, I'm not watching any of the TV shows in Europe, But I did pick up Seaguy. What I've read from what Grant Morrison has said about the 2nd and 3rd acr of Seaguy, the whole story is not as "wacky" as it first seems. It is funny, but I think it's a semi-serious future-dystopian superhero drama.
Given our current state of affairs, I think our future is looking more like Seaguy than Blade Runner.
Grant Morrison called it "his Watchmen!" (Which is why I can't help but love Grant Morrison's work! His magnum opus is a story about a normal guy in a wet suit and a talking tuna!)
The story seems to be a story about a character growing up, growing old and dying. Even at it's silliest it's pretty death-obsessed, the book is filled with all kinds of memento mori: Playing chess against Death, the Mummy on the moon, the dead fish in the fishtank, etc..
But it's a fun romp and it's got a certain Innocence or tenderness, that All Star Superman also had.

I'm not sure if it's about the oppression of the imagination or anything like that. It is Morrison at his weirdest and craziest, but like a lot of his stuff, he seems to turn the story into something very different by the time he's done.
I'm diggin it.

James said...

Man, the shoe is really on the other foot for Ben now. Unless he's still playing us. LOST!

Jack making sandwiches was great, but I hope he's a hero again by the end. LOST!

The people Ben sent back in time precipitated his villainy. LOST!

Christian said...

Re: Speedreeder

I think you're right about the innocence, but I also think it's a horribly depressing story (haven't picked up the first issue of the second series yet.)

The entire first "arc" is about the relationship between youth and death, and the stagnation of the super hero genre. The only changes you can make are minimal, but every single change becomes a defiant act (picking black instead of white at the end.)

I really don't think it's that funny, I just find it horribly depressing.

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy said...

LOST - Nice little piece of business: In episode 3X20, The Man Behind the Curtain, Ben states "I was BORN on this island" after you've just seen his mother give birth to him off island. The viewer chalks it up to Ben being a liar. With this latest episode in context, you can now see how Ben would believe that he WAS in fact "born" on the island. The Ben we know didn't exist before his experience in the temple. Can't wait for next weeks episode - looks to be a thematic sequel to the episode I referenced above as it's another Ben flashback

Streebo said...

Geoff didn't like Duck Soup!?!

I'm never reading this blog again and I'm burning my copy of How to Read Superhero Comics and Why!

But seriously - was this mentioned in a twitter post or something? I seem to have missed all the brouhaha about Duck Soup.

speedreeder said...

Re: Christian
Yeah Seaguy is little depressing but I think it's funny too. I think if you give it a good surface reading, and try not to read too much into it, it's a pretty funny (and fun!) story. I know there are some serious themes being addressed in Seaguy, but it's also a good romp.

I'll point out some of my favorite funny moments: Death has a bad combover. The greatest superhero was a cyborg ostrich, the smoking Easter Island statues, Seaguy reading a map underwater. The polar icecap covered in fine European chocolate (did you notice the Polar Bears were brown?)
The "Crisis" parody cover of number 3 (a friggin' mummy holding Seaguy in the moon!) Any scene with Chubby da Choona.

But it IS a dystopian-future story, and we are seeing the cracks in the facade, and we find reality to be a lot darker than we expected.