Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Free Form Comments

Say whatever you want to in the comments to this post -- random, off topic thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions, recommendations, criticisms (which can be anonymous), surveys, introductions if you have never commented before, personal news, self-promotion, requests to be added to the blog roll and so on. If I forget, remind me. Remember these comments can be directed at all the readers, not just me.

ALSO. You can use this space to re-ask me questions you asked me before that I failed to answer because I was too busy.

AND you can use this space to comment on posts that are old enough that no one is reading the comments threads anymore.

You do not have to have a blogger account or gmail account to post a comment -- you can write a comment, write your name at the bottom of your comment like an e mail, and then post using the "anonymous" option.

WRITING FOR THIS BLOG. If I see a big free form comment that deserves more attention, I will pull it and make it its own post, with a label on the post and on the sidebar that will always link to all the posts you write for this blog. I am always looking for reviews of games, tv, movies, music, books and iPhone apps.


James said...

Here is how they should do THOR:
They should do THOR by mashing-up Neil Gaiman's Eternals and The Ultimates take. Dr. Donald Blake (played by the same guy who plays Thor, please) dreams of Asgard, Gods and Monsters. The action alternates between Don's modern-day drama (Jane Foster will never love you if you don't get your head out of the clouds!) and the high fantasy epic played out in his dreams/hallucinations, just like an episode of LOST.

The climax of the movie has something big and Norse come to threaten contemporary NY, meaning Don has to step up and be the Super-God he dreamed he was all along, ready to go into the Avengers movie. TRICKY ADDENDUM: It'd be nice to have some ambiguity as to whether he's just a nut with some stolen SHIELD-tech or not, but I have no idea how you do that credibly.

Anyway, now this is on the record in time for the trillion-to-one shot that they end up doing something even remotely similar, and I can brag about being super-smart/prescient.

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

High time for a good UK Office vs US Office debate:

I think this actually serves as a fairly good critique of one of the US version's basic failings compared to the original.

plok said...

May I humbly submit a different sort of Thor mash-up?

Or, failing that, a Thor movie made by Woody Allen, maybe from somewhere around Love And Death?

ScottMcDarmont said...

I definitely hope the movie does something with the Ultimates concept of Thor... that was one of my favorite things about Ultimates.


Thor + Woody Allen = Genius, Woody Could play Donald Blake...

Hmmmm, intersting... small new york jew morphing into nordic god...

ScottMcDarmont said...


You're on! ... just as soon as I have a chance to read the article...


Speaking of Thursday night comedies, what is your take on Parks & Rec and Community this season?

I give Parks & Rec an A minus (Leslie is still way too much like Michael Scott, but the rest of the cast/characters are great... and it gets bonus points because I enjoy looking at Rashida Jones... the short haircut this year? very hot). Community is a solid B bumped up from a B- because I think Annie Adderal is really cute... (I give bonus points to shows for having women on them I find attractive... is this sexist or just biased?)

My main concern with the decline in quality of The Office and 30 Rock over the last to years is really one of convenience: it was so nice having my favorite shows all on the same night.

plok said...

Scott, I can't take credit for Woody's Thor -- that's down to Sean Witzke. It is genius though, ain't it?

Jason said...

So, how do people feel about the fact that not a single issue of All Star Batman and Robin came out in 2009?

ScottMcDarmont said...


Betrayed, crestfallen... that there is no justice in the world, that there is no God ... and, if there is, he prefers Geoff Johns...


I think it's a bit ridiculous, as I enjoy the series, I find it a bit frustrating but it's more a question of "What the hell?" I wonder why it's taking so long. The issue was ready and solicited for release... why was it pushed back? What's holding things up? I'm curious and would just like to know when and if the next issue will be coming out. My only guess can be Miller's various 'hollywood' committments as Lee has a pretty good track record for deadlines.


I think you left out part of the address, was it the article about the Office ending suddenly when they had enough footage?

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

It was...not sure how that happened.

James said...

I didn't even mention that I was talking about the movie. I was talking about the movie.

Plok: You may not. Hahaha - I jest! That was a great read actually, sloppiness and all.

You can see I was much more concerned in a pyrotechnix delivery mechanism than actual "themes" and whathaveyou.

James said...

Everyone read the Dark Avengers Annual yet? Holy moly who came up with that costume! (Lovely Bachaloness otherwise.)

James said...

Does anyone have the full Michael Chabon Spider-Man 2 script? I only found out about it the other day and I can't find it anywhere.

Geoff Klock said...

Matt -- That is really funny

Scott -- Parks and Rec is the only show in that lineup I really like. Everything else I got bored with. Tom Haverford and Ron Swanson are awesome.

Plok -- that essay is fantastic

Jason -- I am mad. I need Frank Miller comics. Especially since Morrison has been doing such a bad job with the character for a long time.

ScottMcDarmont said...


As I'm new to the UK version (I've only caught a few episodes on adult swim) I'm going to watch tonight's episode and I'll comment back more at length this weekend. In short, I still prefer the US version over the UK version; as Geoff pointed out 'it has more heart' (a point I'll elaborate more on in my response) However, when comparing US and UK sit coms, it ultimately comes down to a question of quantity vs quality. Most US shows take the former over the latter but, occasionally, a show is able to do a pretty good job of both... something that I think the US Office succeeded in quite admirably (at least for the first 3 seasons).


I agree... Tom and Ron are the best things about the show... that and Rashida Jones of course (notice I didn't say the character of Anne who, thus far, has been pretty bland as a character)

Also, I reccomend giving Parks & Rec another shot... I find that each episode is a bit of a slow burn to the final couple of minutes where the plots all come together quite brilliantly (did you see the Halloween episode with it's take on the closing Dark Knight Montage? Brilliant!)

ScottMcDarmont said...

When I was an undergrad, people (usually theatre majors) would insist on the superiority of UK sit-coms to US sit-coms, they would inevitably then show me something like Absolutely Fabulous… this turned me off to UK sitcoms for a good ten years…

But seriously, I think the essential point made by the Onion article is one of quality vs quantity. As is my understanding, UK shows do fewer episodes per ‘series’ than US shows do in a series, I believe the norm is about six episodes as, I believe, Spaced was unusual in that it had seven episodes per series. Additionally, it is my understanding, that UK shows don’t come back every year and that a year or two may pass between ‘series’ (as opposed to the few months between the ‘seasons’ of US shows). The advantage to this, of course, is that it gives the creators more time to craft each episode and, with fewer episodes, there is less need for ‘filler’ material. This is very similar to the difference from what Geoff calls ‘prestige’ comics and mainstream superhero titles (DC’s All Star Line for example). The creators do not have as strict of a schedule to adhere to and, as a result, have a greater control over the quality of the stories that they choose to tell; they are not as pressured to create a ‘product’ so to speak and can be more concerned with the integrity of each individual story.

However, what the US office may lack in focus it makes up for in character development; this is at the heart of what I think Geoff meant when he said that he feels that the US version has ‘more heart’: we care more about the characters, not only that, we care about MORE of the characters. From what I have seen of the UK version, the only characters I really CARE about are TIM and DAWN. There are times that I PITY David Brent and Gareth (the UK Michael and Dwight for those not in the know) but that’s hardly the same thing as caring. This is essential for the longevity of US shows, we have to have a reason to come back each week and, given the greater quantity of episodes, we learn more about ALL of the characters on the show and are given the opportunity to care more about them as well. I now care about not only Jim and Pam, but Michael, Dwight and Angela… I even care about Andy and Kevin. Also, overtime, we learn that the characters care more about one another, this makes them more likeable; this is evidenced very early on in the US series when the entire office rallies around Kevin when he may have cancer. A crucial difference between that Michael Scott character and his David Brent is that Michael, as self-centered and obnoxious as he may be, does truly CARE about his employees whereas, from my observations, the David is more concerned that his employees (and, perhaps more importantly, the documentary cameras) THINK that he cares for them. Everything he does is meant to make himself look better, granted, there is a bit of this in Michael Scott but, ultimately, he wants his employees to like him because he also likes them. A perfect example was on last night’s episode; Michael had promised a group of third graders that he would pay for their tuition if they graduated high school and, ten years later, had to confront them with the fact that he was unable to do so. His UK counterpart would be far more concerned with how this would make him look bad whereas, Michael Scott was truly remorseful for his actions and, if he were able, he would have paid for their tuitions (perhaps slightly begrudgingly after finding out how much such a thing cost).

ScottMcDarmont said...

Continued from previous comment:

Granted, if one likes the darker tone of the UK version, one is most likely not as concerned with the ‘likeability’ of the characters; a UK show is able to get away with this; you can get away with having characters like that for 6 episodes at a time… but could you keep audiences coming back for 22 episodes a season if they didn’t have an emotional investment in the characters? The only real example I think of in American Sit-com is Seinfeld and, even there, the characters are far more likeable than those I’ve seen in the UK Office. Seinfeld has often commented that one of the keys to the show’s success was the fact that, despite the fact that, based on their actions, these are all pretty despicable people, the cast made the characters so likeable that no one seemed to mind. I think this is the problem that I have with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, like Seinfeld, these characters are all pretty selfish despicable people but I don’t like any of them… so I just can’t get into it.

I will definitely concede this point to the article, The Office (like many US sit-coms) has, perhaps, lasted longer than it needed to. It peaked with the third season and, in my opinion, the 4th season opener where we discover that Jim and Pam are in fact dating happily though they have told the cameras and their officemates otherwise, accompanied by Pam’s voice over saying “When I love someone, I’ll Know” (or something like that) would have been the perfect point for the series to end. However, I still find it compelling enough to watch. I enjoyed how the fourth and fifth seasons of the show used the Jim and Pam relationship to play with our expectations of sit-com relationships. I have enjoyed seeing other characters, like Andy, grow and the relationships that have developed between other characters (Andy and Dwight’s friendship, Pam’s unlikely relationship with Michael during the Michael Scott Paper Company Arc). Did we NEED to see that? No, but the show remains pleasant enough and, after all, how many sit-coms are really able to stay as fresh as they once were past the third or fourth season? Arrested Development may, in fact, be the best US sit-com of the last ten years and, I think, part of the reason for that is that it only lasted three seasons. Was it cancelled prematurely? Yes. Did it leave us wanting more? Yes, but isn’t that a much better way to go out than the slow death many sit-coms suffer? There are some shows that have managed to, at least maintain their dignity if not their freshness over the course of a long run (Seinfeld for example) but, the vast majority, end up ‘Jumping the Shark’ (Scrubs is an excellent example of this). I do think there have been significant developments in US television with shows like the Sopranos and, oddly enough, Adult Swim, where it’s less about ‘product’ and more about ‘art’. I’m curious how Lost may fit in to this (I don’t watch the show) but, as is my understanding, the creators have a single story that they are telling but, since they need the show to extend over 22 episodes per season, does it ever feel like that are, well, ‘stalling’?

James said...

"The Office" - the original show - has a beginning, middle and an end. You really have to see it all before you declare the show lacking in "heart".

ScottMcDarmont said...


you're probably right but I've only seen a handful of episodes of the UK version. I think a good summation is that it is the 'leaner, meaner' version of the show and the US is the 'kinder gentler' version.

I do think you make a good point though, basing a US sit-com on UK one these days is a lot closer to basing an ongoing series on something that was meant to be a single film.