XIPHOS vs.THE TV
Here’s a round up of things I’ve watched on DVD or off my sling box over the last few months. It’s a weird grouping this time out.
THE BIG BANG THEORY (Seasons 1 & 4): I figure this show is about AICN people minus them being smart or having good jobs. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it’s a Hollywood fantasy about 4 uber science nerd/dork/geeks and a “hot” chick. The nerds are into funny books, anime, Nerd Trek, LOTR and every bit of nerdery under the sun and are completely dysfunctional outside of their comfort zone. The hot chick is a tight little package and has a kick ass dumper and an entirely plain face and I commend them casting her for it. The female is a functional normal human being, bangs hot dudes but has slummed with one of the geeks, she has friends, a social life and isn’t a female geek so of course she becomes a nerd hag. See? Total Hollywood wish fulfillment syndrome in play. You know the writers are like the characters in real life so they play out their wishes for themselves on the show.
Apparently the TBBT is quite popular and the only reason I can figure for that is the Apex nerd borderline retard genius character Sheldon. I get that it’s a comedy so everything is written very broadly but come on, nobody would put up with this asshole. He’s a tyrannical selfish my way only clown-shoes with a massive ego because he’s even more of a genius than the rest of the geniuses on the show. This fuck would get his ass stomped on every day for the way he acts and treats people. I know this will be an unpopular opinion but an obnoxious fucker like that would deserve it. People tend to forget that on some occasions geeks get their asses kicked for being mouthy jerk-offs then turn around and whine about getting bullied.
Is the show any good? Well, if you have limited entertainment choices it’s minimally acceptable. I probably wouldn’t watch it at all if I had more choices but throwing it on as background noise while doing something else or when I can’t sleep it’s OK since I don’t have to be invested in the show in any way.
NCIS (Seasons 1, 3, 6): This is not a good TV show however it’s watchable and that is due entirely to how well the cast works together. They are very entertaining which is about the best thing I can say about NCIS because it has massive structural deficiencies.
NCIS is about civilian cops that do the detective work on crimes against Navy and Marine Corps personnel, both civilian and military. The team is lead by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, former Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant and sniper (important plot point) played by Mark Harmon. I’ve always liked Harmon going back to the classic 80’s movie Summer School. Harmon has a huge likability factor even though he has limited range as an actor. Harmon is excellent at playing an even more stoic version of Gary Cooper, he’s the engine that drives the show. Michael Weatherly plays Tony DiNozzo who for CBS is a cutting edge lead character. He’s obnoxious, invasive of other character’s privacy, sort of a bully, kind of lazy, sort of a perv, a bit of a sexist and a total frat boy. Even with all that on his plate, DiNozzo is actually a pretty good cop and Weatherly knocks it out of the park as Tony DiNozzo who is the polar opposite of the Gibbs character. If Harmon is the engine that drives the show, then Weatherly would be the high test gasoline that runs the engine.
There are three female leads, one, Kate, left the show. She was alright but I’m not going to spend any time on her so I’ll focus on the other two. Cote de Pablo plays former Mossad assassin Ziva David, a liaison officer with NCIS. This chick isn’t a very good actress nor hot enough to overcome her limited skills. The broad that played Kate was hotter, a better actress and had a way nicer rack. Also could we please stop with this fantasy of skinny 115 pound chicks that can kick big tough strong trained men’s asses please? That is just a complete load of BS PC wish fulfillment. I’m not saying it can’t happen on occasion under the right circumstances just that it wouldn’t happen on a consistent basis like on the show. Also she uses the weirdest accent this side of John Malkovitch in Rounders.
The other lead female is Abby Sciuto, who I call exposition goth, played by Pauley Perrette. Christ on a crutch, she is annoying as all hell and is a completely stupid character and not even believable for a show so loosely based in reality as NCIS. Abby is preternaturally good at her job, she’s a freaking 42 year old goth in dress but relentlessly upbeat, an annoying caffeine addict and is as emotionally mature as a slightly retarded 12 year old girl who is a fan of Justin Beiber. I can’t stand this character and normally just fast forward through exposition goth’s scenes when they come up. Think of it like this, she is old enough to be a grandmother and still dresses like a Hot Topic cashier? She’s tatted up and works as a forensics specialist for Navy cops. Cops and the Navy are probably two of the most conservative types of bureaucracies there are and they wouldn’t hire, much less continually employ, somebody like her that is so unprofessional in appearance and personality even if she did get results. Her appearance is even more reCOCKulous because she has to testify in court. All a defense attorney has to do is snap a series of pics with the old lady in full goth drag, not her court outfit, and show it to a jury and BANG evidence just got discredited. Of course the neck tat doesn’t help either. A neck tat is a hair under a face tat for being just about the most stupid thing you could ever do to your body. A neck tat is absolutely guaranteed to make a normal person not take you seriously in any way.
Next on the parade of uselessness there is Medical Examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard played by Illya Kuryakin and his assistant whose name I don’t remember played by an actor that I don’t want to know.
Lastly there is the “Probie” Timothy McGee played by Sean Murray. His casting is pure nepotism since his stepfather is Donald Bellisario, the show’s creator. I’ll hand it to the kid, he’s actually pretty good as “McGeek” the resident computer nerd agent. He is also exposition boy, like a male version of talky goth but in his case it’s at least entertaining because he’s kind of afraid of Gibbs and DiNozzo busts his ass constantly. McSneaky, and Abby, unfortunately, are the characters that usually find just the right piece of info at just the right time by using some sort of impossible test or being able to hack into any computer anywhere in about 5 seconds.
To sum it up, if you don’t have any other choice, the show is mildly acceptable entertainment due entirely to most of the cast being fun to watch. That and they handle firearms well like they actually know how to use them and the entry tactics and take downs aren’t Hollywood stupid so it has that going for it.
SONS OF ANARCHY (Season 4): This one will surprise because I have relentlessly banged out this show hard for the previous three seasons for reeking like a toilet in a Mex whorehouse on Sunday morning but so far this season it’s become a solid well written and interesting show. There are double and triple crosses going on everywhere and some character’s desperate need to survive are leading to some very interesting choices being made and some big lines getting crossed.
ALPHAS (Season 1): This is the real reason I wrote this post because Alphas overachieved and is way better than it has any right to be and I like to support shows like that. First issue it overcame were the creators of Alphas not having strong resumes in fact they have mostly been involved in complete shit. The show is on SyFy which doesn’t have a good track record for producing quality shows. Sure they had BSG but that show hit the wall hard after Exodus pt 2 in season 3 when they jumped the Galactica into low atmo to launch vipers in order to jailbreak the fleet off New Caprica. Further, Alphas is a TV superhero show and the stench of Heroes is still wafting about strongly. Yet with everything going against it, somehow Alphas managed to become one of the best new shows on TV this season.
The first good idea they had was to fire the original show runner and replace him with Ira Steven Behr. From the pilot to the second episode the show’s quality went up by about 100% and I think the pilot was pretty decent. Each episode from there was better than the one before. There was however one clunker episode in the bunch but I think that one was due to trying to put too much into one episode and it ended up being way too much ‘splainin going on. Come on writers it’s more show than tell in TV and movies!
The second good idea they had was to give the characters plausible powers that have limitations and drawbacks to them, thus grounding the inherently goofy idea of super powers in some sense of reality. Besides being a good idea I believe the other issue they had to contend with was having a budget of about $1.50 per episode for SPX. This made them have to be creative in how they showed powers so they limited the scope of them. There isn’t any super powered Apex muties in Alphas like on Heroes. Each super power has a limit. (I’ll go into specifics in a moment.)
Lastly, they plotted out the story well and had a good mix of bad guy of the week and an overall conspiracy arc to the story. In the last episode they introduce a Magneto-like character, the any means necessary type of bad guy, who going forward will be the big bad. Also I think they made a conscious choice to gleefully, willfully and joyfully rip off X-Men in any way they could and not apologize or feel remorse for doing so and I applaud them for that choice. While I am watching Alphas I liked to try and figure out who each mutant on the show is , ummm…”homaged” from in X world or the larger Marvel universe.
The other pillar of strength for Alphas is the actors. With the exception of David Strathairn and maybe Malik Yoba, the main cast is made up of unknowns and they are for the most part really good. Also they were smart to cast a lot of guest stars from other genre shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, BSG, Firefly, The Sarah Conner Chronicles and Lost.
The main Cast, their powers and limitations:
Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn) is the creator of the current version of the Alpha program and as he originally viewed it, the program was going to be an outreach to the super powered “community” and it was a way to help them integrate their powers into their daily lives and live not in the shadows but in public. Federal Law enforcement and “The Military” saw it as a way to identify and stop the super powered before they became a problem. Rosen’s simple somewhat free flowing hippy-ish program quickly became a tightly controlled law enforcement/military operation. Rosen, being an old hippie himself, has problems with working for “the man” and being part of the “system” but he also realized that some Alphas do horrible things with their powers so he is an ambivalent participant in his own evolved program and realizes it’s vital for public safety. Rosen always tries reasoning and therapy to locking bad Alphas up. That’s how he got the team, most of them he found and helped. The complexity of this and other characters is why Alphas is such a strong show. Rosen is of course Professor X with hair legs that work and no telepathy.
Bill Harkin (Malik Yoba) Resident “strong guy”, Harkin is an FBI agent seconded to the team after he broke a colleague’s clavicle (it’s a running joke). Bill’s power is a form of super fight or flight response that gives him super strength, speed and durability. The drawback though is that his power lasts for a only few minutes since it stresses out his body so much. The character is part Power Man and part like 10 different mutants from X-Men. Bill also has increased adrenalin flowing through his system even when he isn’t Hulking out and it makes him an aggressive annoying ass most of the time.
Gary Bell (Ryan Cartwright) At first this character annoyed the hell out of me but the strength of acting by Cartwright got me to change my mind. Gary is a high functioning autistic that can “see” and manipulate wireless transmissions and process the info faster than a computer. Cartwright got the autistic mannerisms down pat impressively so.I’m not sure which X-Men character he is since I stopped reading the funny books long before computers and cell phones became commonplace. I’m sure he is based on somebody or a bunch of somebody’s. His limitation is being autistic and if you jam signals he can’t do anything. One thing I did notice about Gary and a lot of the Alphas is that their powers aren’t much offensive in nature. Most have helpful but passive powers. I’m sure the reason for that choice was due to a limited budget.
Rachel Pirzhad (Azita Ghanizada) is The Human CSI character. Her five senses are at a level that she can hear one conversation several blocks away on a busy street. She can see down to a microscopic level, taste food and tell you all the ingredients. She can touch something and tell you all the elements that make it up. Unfortunately when using one sense her other senses sort of shut down. Also her senses are higher than normal without turning them on super power so it’s hard sometimes for her to interact with people. If somebody is talking about her she can hear what is being said even if the room is crowded and the speakers are somewhat far away. Aromas are a big issue, they can throw her off her game if she is tracking somebody by smell or even getting busy with a dude, cologne is a big challenge . Her somewhat traditional Afghan family think she might be ill, maybe nuts, and will never find a husband or have children. Rachel is an amalgam of several X-Men with heightened senses including Wolverine. Rachel has a secondary mutation, she’s damn cute.
Nina Theroux (Laura Mennell) She is the hot chick with the ability to “push” people to her will.(Like hot broads can’t do that anyway without powers.) I think they made a mistake here and that mistake was in not casting a plain looking or even a not conventionally attractive actress for the roll but I doubt Sci fi would let them think that far out of the box. It would have made the character more interesting if they didn’t cast a nice set of cans, good hair and cheek bones for the part. As far as i can figure she is the only character that’s not based on a mutant in the X world. I think they based her on the Bene Gesserit from Dune, she uses THE VOICE. Her drawback is that her powers don’t work on everybody, Gary and Bill are immune, for different reasons, as are some other characters. Apparently, if you wear sunglasses it doesn’t work either but then you can ogle her juggs so that’s cool. Over the years Rosen has found a way to not fall under the sway of THE VOICE. They never go into how he learned to do it, it was a throw away line.
Cameron Hicks (Warren Christy) I think of him as Parkour boy because that’s how they show his mutation which is the ability to process movement and angles at near instantaneous speed if he thinks it he can do it. This ability gives him a natural athletic advantage like being able to dodge bullets or fire a rifle round from 1000 yards at just the right angle for it to travel down an air ventt and strike a target dead center in the cabeza. Hicks was trained as a sniper in the Marines so firearm use for him is as easy as thinking but he can use anything as a weapon. His downfall is that he doesn’t have full control his power and sometimes it just deserts him especially if he was drinking (he’s a former rummy) or under a lot of stress. Mostly Hicks seems like he’s cribbed from maybe Long Shot, Domino, a whole lot of Dare Devil (I know non-mutie, I meant how he fights) and Nightcrawler minus the teleportation, three finger hands and toes, fur and a tail. Puck from Alpha Flight and Bulls Eye are also in the mix.
Hicks other problem is his name. Come on writers, you didn’t have to pander to the nerds this hard did you? Question: were the names Kirk McSpock or Dr. Han Solo Jones already being used on another show? Ass clowns.