Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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

Pt. A can be found here.

I Saw This (double exclamation point) is our feature wherein Graig or David attempt to write about a bunch of stuff they watched some time ago and meant to write about but just never got around to doing so. But we can't not write cuz that would be bad, very bad.  Y'know, world ending bad.  Rewritten time bad. Monsters from another dimension bad.

This is how I stated I watch TV, to a coworker yesterday, who was somewhat surprised I had not yet watched all of Mr. Robot S2. There are good shows I cannot miss, there are bad shows I cannot miss, there are shows I don't watch and probably never will and there are shows I know I will just eventually get around to watching.

There are also dropped shows. Shows that just didn't keep me paying attention long enough, not because I thought they were bad but just because... well, yawn or meh or I fell asleep on the sofa. Here are three from overseas that unfortunately are / will be in that body of work.

The Aliens, 2016, Channel 4 -- download

The Aliens comes from Channel 4 in the UK. In this darkly comedic show, but not sitcom, aliens crashed landed in the 70s. Alien Nation or District 9 comes to mind, but that the aliens look human. They integrated into society pretty easily but the 80s and 90s saw tons of unrest, and eventually the UK government segregated the aliens behind a wall. Whoah, that is all kinds of current news culture dark. Did some sort of alternate reality Trump live in the UK ?

The shows starts with a young security guard on the wall getting mixed up in  the drug trade. Or the hair trade. Apparently alien hair is a great narcotic to humans. And then the guard learns he is probably half-alien.

This is a show about a seedy underbelly.  All of Lewis's family and friends are class chav/riff raff. And the alien girl he falls for is a cam chick. I never actually watched enough to see where the show was going, as it didn't capture my attention but for its shock value. Obviously, the racism metaphor is Mjolnir heavy in its hammering. But I wonder how long it can spin that metaphor out without any other central plot.

Cleverman, 2016, ABC (Australia) -- download

Also using the same metaphor and the same idea, but from an entirely different fantasy point of view is Cleverman from Australia. As far as I understand, in watching three episodes, the "Hairies" are other beings that came from the Aboriginal Dreamtime and migrated to our world not so long ago. They are pseudo-human, more bestial and obviously more body hair. Hairies didn't do a very good job of integrating, and are currently living in a ghetto around an abandoned train station. The human authorities fear them and are moving to fully segregate them, possibly into classic detention facilities. Many have already began to disappear.

Koen runs a bar with two friends; his brother keeps the Hairypeople camp running through free clinics and political movement. They don't like each other much but their "Uncle" tries to draw them together. He is the family Cleverman, a mix of shaman, wiseman and family leader. But this is a world where beings from mythology have appeared, so the Cleverman is more than just your local psychic, faith healer. And Koen is destined to become the next one.

But really, the focus of the bit I watched was more on the dire situation the Hairies are in. Humans don't trust them; of course. And even more than they never trusted the Aboriginals. On one level, the show is an extreme representation of the tension between the whites of Australia and the Aboriginals themselves, but its also a fantastical representation of how we always fear what we don't understand. And magic is a scary thing in a mundane world.

Something was going to happen, but I never watched enough to know. Koen is on his way, connected to the Hairies by a force he doesn't understand, by a monster that is hunting... something. The Hairies are close to having enough of the fear and abuse. And rich white folk want to take as much advantage of the situation as they can.

Hunters, 2016, SyFy -- download

This show, also about aliens from ... somewhere, may call itself an American show but its produced and shot in Australia and does a pretty bad job of pretending its in Baltimore... or is it Philadelphia? Washington DC ? The same way you can tell a show is shot in Vancouver, when they say its Seattle or Denver, boy can you see this ain't the US. But all that sort of lends itself to the weirdness of the show.

Aliens are invading, this time quietly and unknown to the populace. They are reptilian, sort of V like, covered in human skin. There is a conspiracy tieing them together and on the other side is a human task force trying to root them out and... well, kill them. This is all tired mystery, double talk and shadowy low-rent X-Files. The primary focus is on an FBI agent drawn into the task force because his wife is taken by the alien leader (in human form) played by Julian McMahon (yes, Dr Doom from the first Fantastic Four movies) who actually does a great job of a creepy, charismatic alien terrorist.

The problem is that the show doesn't seem to know how to do episode to episode. There is a core world its building, but it doesn't have a real story to tell. That wouldn't hold down many other shows, as alien intervention of the week could hold it together. But this one just fails to make anything interesting happen. They just jump from here to there, never actually capturing our attention.

I think I stopped watching it before SyFy cancelled it.