Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cleaning the Slate: TV (Legion)

Making a decision. As I watch too much TV, I have too much to comment on, some great, some good, and mostly only meh. As I always have a massive backlog of movies and TV, and even some video games, I am going to pare that down. Only four five remaindered TV shows will get posts, and after that, only things that leave a great impression will end up here. Well, maybe if I actually clean house on the Movies, I will do the occasional What I Am Watching post.

First up, Legion.

2017, Noah Hawley (Fargo), FX -- download

Wow, just wow. Very few shows leave me leaning forward on the sofa, eager to see what is coming next. Very few shows have me grinning ear to ear not just in the story being told, but in how they are telling the story. This one, a very Fuller-ish feeling story based loosely on X-Men character Legion (Professor X's nut job son) is not superhero at all, unless liberal use of powers is super; I don't think so. Instead, its a trippy, outrageous, comical and dramatic story in the lines of Lynch or aforesaid Bryan Fuller or maybe, at a stretch Lindelof, at his most Lost.

Dan Stevens (Matthew on Downton Abbey) plays David, a nice guy locked in an asylum. His best friend, confident and foil is Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). The new girl Syd is the centre of his affection. Turns out David is not insane at all, oh a little crazy, but not institutional. He just has psycho-kinetic powers and a ghostly spirit that's been haunting him most of his life, some extension of the power within him.

David discovers this when he broken out of the asylum, after a particularly explosive event centered around Syd. The people who break him out are freedom fighters working against a shadowy government agency that wants David's powers. Think of them as hippy Professor X.

That last statement says it all about the show, because this ain't your daddy's X-Men. It may be connected to that world, very tentatively, and the freedom fighters may be mutants, but this is not any comic book you've seen. Maybe if the 90s comic book era, when Vertigo from DC was king, ran Marvel then you could have found this as a trippy adaptation.

But migawds, is it good. Its weird, wild and totally non-mainstream. As Kent said, the music and set design say it all. Its chaotic and all over the place, both in style and tone (one episode being a straight up horror movie) but keeps its continuity all wrapped in a straight jacket. It needs to, as the plot could easily escape the confines of its characters.

And sometimes, it kind of does, as we escape into 60s surrealism pop film with Jemaine Clement as Oliver Bird, the husband of the leader of the cadre that rescued David. Oliver is a power psychic who escape the bad guys into his own mind, frozen (literally) in an ice cube of his own making. That single episode made me wonder if we are seeing the entire series through David's psychically damaged eyes.

Its a short season, only 8 episodes. But it introduces and reveals so so fucking much in those few episodes. You may look back on those words, and find I have not said much. That is true, I am trying desperately to put the mood and tone I felt into words. My mantle of mediocrity means I cannot wrangle those images, those emotions, into tangible paragraphs. I am David and he is David, and I could not help but feel namely kinship with him as we were both someone a little detached from reality. But I can continue to recommend.