Sunday, January 10, 2016

I Saw This!! What I Have Been Watching (Pt. 4)

For each post I put into this long running "What I Have Been Watching" I remember another show I completed in the past year or so, since I "regularly" updated what I was watching on TV. Some are things I have been watching forever, like Supernatural and some are astounding shows I am surprised I never covered, such as Humans.

But, for now, let's cover a couple of One Episode(s).

Colony, not the, is the new alien invasion show over on USA Network, starring Josh Holloway. This guy is good and deserves something stable, but he keeps getting put into sub-standard genre attempts. This one could be a good one, but I doubt it, as it had quite the lackluster first episode. Lackluster is actually pretty standard these days, as I am not sure what standard TV premieres now hold themselves to. Not everyone can have the wow factor of Mr. Robot had in their first.

The trend right now is to leak, or more accurately, show early. So, while I am still the downloader, this was not a under-the-table thing but fully supported by the producers. They are still figuring out the whole digital age thing.

Josh is an ex-military guy trying to survive in the oppressive post-invasion regime. Things are not horrible Falling Skies alien invasion bad, but more an Orwellian, occupation state. Some foodstuffs seem scarce and there are curfews and stories of the disappeared, but generally people live their day to days. When the aliens came, sections of the world (well, at least LA as its the only part of the world of which we know) were subdivided behind massive walls. And people are rarely allowed to pass from one to the other. Anyone who was in a section when the aliens came, has to stay -- Josh and his wife have lost their youngest son and Josh is obsessed with finding him. He doesn't get involved with the resistance (of course, there is a resistance) but he is using them to make headway into the other zone, to hunt for his son. And things go wrong.

Josh is caught and given an ultimatum --- help the puppet human leaders find the resistance and get his son back. Or take the fall for an attack and be disappeared along with all his remaining family. Seems like an easy decision to me, for you can accomplish more alive than you can thrown away in a hole. But his wife is upset, pissed he has agreed to be a collaborator. She has her own more personal reasons.

The drama was pretty standard fare, and the world being built reminded me very much of the original V series, but that may just be the whole LA vibe. We don't know who the aliens are, what they want or how things are going go, so there is lots left to explore. But I will leave it up to a couple of more episodes before I decide.

The Magicians (and the the is correct this time) is the adaptation of the popular series of books by Lev Grossman, another of the books that all my fantasy reading friends have commented about on Facebook but I never got around to reading, nor even finding much about. I believe it was compared to as the 'adult Harry Potter' but that is probably disingenuous.

So, there is another world of magic just out of our sight. Its not so much as hidden but highly managed so average muggles don't see it. Quentin Coldwater is nerd boy who doesn't fit in, has the perfectly lovely best friend whom he isn't sleeping with (but probably wants to), and an unhealthy obsession with some magic filled books from his childhood -- think Narnia.

Paths cross and suddenly he is made aware he has magic potential. And he has to write an entrance exam into Brakebills College, the Hogwarts of upstate New York? I assume it's on the same location as the Xavier School for the Gifted in this reality. He gets in, his friend doesn't, she gets depressed while he stresses out from studying.

The first episode was very very unbalanced. It was done as if they wanted to get quickly past the whole introduction of magic school idea and quickly into the Potter-esque plot of Quentin being the kid destined to fight the returning evil. We are given clues of how hard learning magic is, but never actually experience the difficulty, just Quentin twisting up his nose and whining while others around him seem to play with magic as a past time, very easily. And there was something very CW channel about all the kids, all being very stylish and very sexy, even the nerd girl was stunning and put her outfits together perfectly. Quentin himself was not so much as nerdy, as he was Brooklyn alterna-kid, ever so stylishly awkward.

I will watch the series if but for enough episodes to see where it is going. And two thumbs up on the number of pairs of thigh high socks. I hope they are a sign of their return to fashion.

So, from urban fantasy to straight up classic fantasy. The Sword of Shannara was the followup book for all Lord of the Rings fans to read.  It was Tolkien-light, borrowing most of the fellowship tropes but creating its own world that became very very popular in its own right. I believe I never got much past book... 3 ? I don't remember but I am sure I have one of those boxed sets of paperbacks on my shelf, from back in the day when those were a thing for Xmas gifts.

The Shannara Chronicles is that adaptation of the series come to TV, very loosely and not starting with the first book but with the latter two. We are following Wil Ohmsford and Elven princess Amberle as they try and stop the magical Elven tree from dying, releasing demons back into the world. They are being assisted by ancient druid Alanon, the patron saint of family drug recovery.

One thing I remember in reading the books was my annoyance at the merging of post-apocalypse science fiction with fantasy. I have always been perturbed by the blending of the genres, except when done from a pulp perspective, such as John Carter. But this show is going to just throw in with the current popularity of teen po-ap fiction and litter the visual countryside with fallen Seattle Needles and ruined buildings leaning against each other. And trolls that wear gas masks and armor made from.... street signs? How very Gamma World.

If The Magicians can be mocked for their pretty characters, then people are going to giggle at the Elves of this world. But for me, its always been the perfect way to depict the unearthly beauty of Elves -- make them 20sumthin super models. How else can you depict perfect beauty unless they are cast ever lovely, ever made up and always in the perfect clothes and of the perfect (??) weight? So, the Elves play out well for me, if they are a bit teen angsty.

Its a by the numbers low man against the evil magic of the world story, and not whatsoever the fellowship of the first book, so no LotR comparisons of yet. The lovely eared Elves are there, no Dwarves of yet and the only real monster was the demon lord Dagda Mor, and a few of his minions. Alanon was great, another perfect rendition of a character I would play in D&D. I will definitely be returning for more, but as for quality?  No, not really there. This is purely genre fodder for me.

Amusing note. I watched it on CTV which so very obviously blurred out the implied nudity from a couple of scenes. Marmy missed it, so she downloaded from the MTV source, and yes, the ever so faint hint of nudity was there --- making it ever so obviously blurred on Canadian TV. Ain't that the opposite.