What are you watching? (television thread)

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, but its reason to exist is just to show what happened to Jesse, the idea it has to give us some new awakening on the series to be a story worth telling is a pretty tall order, if not insurmountable, and fraught since we liked what we thought of it broadly in the end and apparently so did they. That would just be shaking it up for the sake of it, like a creepy custom-made snow globe you keep next to your tarantula.
If their only intent was to show what happened to Jesse, then they waited too long. I feel like waiting 6 years carries a weight, so that when they step back up to the plate they should have something pretty significant to offer.

I'm rejecting this comparison based on the fact that Gato wasn't the co-lead or even a prominent character of Chrono Trigger whose fate was not elaborated on. And because the Schala comparison was right there too! That point could go either way depending on what one thinks of Chrono Cross as a sequel compared to El Camino. =)
Okay, this may have started as JUST JOEK, but I've been thinking about the parallels between Schala and Jesse pretty much all evening. Also, Queen Zeal is certainly Todd, forcing Schala to work on the mammon machine against her will. Janus is Brock (loling). Jesse's escape in the series finale and traveling to Alaska is Schala awakening from the Time Devourer and uh, visiting modern day Japan. Care to guess who Lavos is? Imagine it with a pork pie hat. Shit ... or is Walt actually Janus, who grows up and tries to rescue her?

This is already better than El Camino.

Also since you asked, I have exclusively negative thoughts about Chrono Cross. Even divorcing it as a Chrono sequel, I find it just fucking awful. It's one of the most excessive stories in video games. This only got worse for me once I read that the creator (Masato Kato) said he felt it was an honest effort at a Chrono sequel (Vin Diesel: Ohugottabekiddinme.wav). I would love to talk about it one day with you. But maybe not in the TV thread :ganishka:

I guess my defensiveness is with how we consume a lot of media in general now, like it's almost judging art by its perception rather than just what it is; Joker is encouraging incels, El Camino doesn't need to exist, etc. Some of these prevailing takes are forming instantly, before the movie is even out in the case of the former, so we're not even talking about it anymore but talking about how we talk about it or perceive its place in the zeitgeist.
I had a very lucid response to this planned, but I've had a pretty rough week and I'm two drinks in at this point, so I'll just lay out my honest thoughts: This is naive. I feel you that we should be able to watch movies/TV compartmentalized from their impact (or perceived impact) on culture, and appreciate the thing itself. But I feel like that time has passed. Somewhere along the way, big budget entertainment became an all-consuming beast, demanding the full attention of culture, and thus is on the hook for all sorts of things, including in the case of the Joker, cultural responsibility. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. That attention comes with a price accorded to its impact.

But all that aside, I genuinely did not pre-judge El Camino. I went in with low expectations, but hopeful given the actor/writer attachments, and it still left me with a somewhat amateurish aftertaste. And a few small moments that struck the spark of Breaking Bad aside, felt it wasn't quite what it could have been. But what is?

to me the consistent experience is that it seems of a kind with BB on a granular level, like that apartment search scene
Agreed, this is also the scene I've indirectly been referring to that felt most in parity with Breaking Bad.

but it doesn't need to match the series' profound highs and lows, and likely never could in two hours, just to dare exist to tell the story of how Jesse got out.
Mmm, I dunno. Sure it's just two hours, but they're working with an audience intimately familiar with what, 30+ hours of story and character development? There's an opportunity there.

Netflix releasing it with a jumped up, eventized marketing campaign ultimately doesn't it make it something else to me. I'm guessing for you it's just not a story and character you cared for seeing anyway, and it didn't add anything on top that you did.
The regular Netflix fanfare didn't get in my way. I always tune that shit out. But yeah, it's more about the production itself and the character it's centered on that was the weak point for me.
 
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Griffith

My posts are better.
If their only intent was to show what happened to Jesse, then they waited too long. I feel like waiting 6 years carries a weight, so that when they step back up to the plate they should have something pretty significant to offer.
I guess we just disagree on this point. I don't need them to reinvent the wheel here, as a matter of fact I just want them to not fuck up the wheel. That sounds like low standards, but it's just an appreciation for the effort to keep this thing as authentic to the show as possible instead of creating some mutant that doesn't fit yet can't be ignored. I guess what I'm saying is, like Breaking Bad's ending, not fucking this up is a rare and pretty significant offering in itself.

Okay, this may have started as JUST JOEK, but I've been thinking about the parallels between Schala and Jesse pretty much all evening. Also, Queen Zeal is certainly Todd, forcing Schala to work on the mammon machine against her will. Janus is Brock (loling). Jesse's escape in the series finale and traveling to Alaska is Schala awakening from the Time Devourer and uh, visiting modern day Japan. Care to guess who Lavos is? Imagine it with a pork pie hat. Shit ... or is Walt actually Janus, who grows up and tries to rescue her?

This is already better than El Camino.
Well, that's not a fair fight because that's just glorious.:ubik:

Also since you asked, I have exclusively negative thoughts about Chrono Cross. Even divorcing it as a Chrono sequel, I find it just fucking awful. It's one of the most excessive stories in video games. This only got worse for me once I read that the creator (Masato Kato) said he felt it was an honest effort at a Chrono sequel (Vin Diesel: Ohugottabekiddinme.wav). I would love to talk about it one day with you. But maybe not in the TV thread :ganishka:
My favorite game of 1999! ...but I kind of hate it as well (maybe I shoulda put Guts' Rage #1 =). CC is in the MGS2/Dark Souls II/Last Jedi epic yet unsatisfying sequel zone. Anyway, if you want El Camino to be a more original, ambitious sequel like Chrono Cross, by all means!

I had a very lucid response to this planned, but I've had a pretty rough week and I'm two drinks in at this point, so I'll just lay out my honest thoughts: This is naive. I feel you that we should be able to watch movies/TV compartmentalized from their impact (or perceived impact) on culture, and appreciate the thing itself. But I feel like that time has passed. Somewhere along the way, big budget entertainment became an all-consuming beast, demanding the full attention of culture, and thus is on the hook for all sorts of things, including in the case of the Joker, cultural responsibility.
Genuinely sorry you're having a bad week, hope everything is ok, but... I'm a few drinks in myself now and ready to cast you down with the sodomites! You catching my drift, or am I being naive? Speaking of which, I think "somewhere along the way" happened with the dawn of television, or with radio decades earlier, if not forever (NO U R TEH 1 BIENG NIEVE!!). Not just modern entertainment, but art has always been a commodity, so it's a difference of degree and awareness, not kind. Sure, because of modern technology the degree to which everything is now inherently commodified to max efficiency, including mechanically dissected, vivisected, tweeted, blogged and posted to death, with a false sense of urgency and importance, and shoved down your individually ad targeted throat, is exhausting and dispiriting. Also, time for a tangent, as a child of the 90's, I hate the idea and criticism of art or media as having some cultural responsibility to make morally guided storytelling choices. It's the worst! We had that shit back then too, it was called an after-school special, or a "very special episode," or reduced to it's lowest terms, propaganda, and I don't like it even if I happen to agree with it. I hate that I have to experience everything through this prism (guess I could log off instead of taking part, huh? naaaah =), and there's something uglier underneath this politicization of art and entertainment. It allows us to look the other way while we play with our toys and pretend it's being an adult. It allows us to largely duck our real political, civic or cultural responsibilities by exercising them, coincidentally, almost exclusively through watching fucking TV all day and bitching about it, but in a deeply moral and progressive way, while the world burns around and on our screens, "OMG, I'm so offended by the choices of this TV show I'm going to tweet on it mercilessly [while the reality TV/twitter president destroys the post-war world and locks children in cages in our backyard, but back to what's wrong with Roseanne...]." I'm not sure this probably nonsensical rant had anything to do with this conversation or the frustrated perspective you're bringing to this, but I needed to say it and it probably gives you a better idea of my frustrated perspective than when we argue about whether or not modern Marvel, Star Wars and now Breaking fucking Bad are ok or not. To put a bow on it though; in contrast with those properties and most "franchise IPs" these days, I don't think BB/Gilligan & co have sold out in the sense they're just doing this as a blatant cash grab. If anything, they made something that adheres too much to the legacy and authenticity of the show at the expense of making something more appealing to general audiences.

But all that aside, I genuinely did not pre-judge El Camino. I went in with low expectations, but hopeful given the actor/writer attachments, and it still left me with a somewhat amateurish aftertaste. And a few small moments that struck the spark of Breaking Bad aside, felt it wasn't quite what it could have been. But what is?
That's the second time you've personally rated it as amateurish... are you working on a secret SK.net film project with David Fincher you're not telling us about or something? =)

I think you're saying it's still more like a TV show than a movie in it's execution, even if Gilligan has come a long way as a director; some great, cinematic shots in this, but ultimately it's mostly going to be viewed on the small screen, and it's written that way as well. I think this is only a movie because it would be even weirder to six years later release two or three extra episodes of Breaking Bad (more on this in a bit).

Agreed, this is also the scene I've indirectly been referring to that felt most in parity with Breaking Bad.
On the flipside, and in accordance with my observation above, when this was announced, and based on the title and implications of Jesse's situation, I didn't expect to spend so much time hanging out with him alone in Todd's empty apartment getting exposition from TV news. More like this actually:



Mmm, I dunno. Sure it's just two hours, but they're working with an audience intimately familiar with what, 30+ hours of story and character development? There's an opportunity there.
I think they proved otherwise, or they're not up for it, and there's no other creative options (Disney/Lucasfilm's A Breaking Bad Story? =). As I joked, unless you do Breaking Bad 2 by shamelessly undoing the whole point of the series and bringing Walt back from the dead it's never going to be as compelling as one of the greatest characters/performances in screen history. But that loop was closed.

The regular Netflix fanfare didn't get in my way. I always tune that shit out. But yeah, it's more about the production itself and the character it's centered on that was the weak point for me.
Well, after all this yakety yak about what it is or could have been from a couple of forumers, the man himself can tell us exactly what it's supposed to be (I swear I read this only after my assessment and initial back and forth with you):

https://www.slashfilm.com/el-camino-deleted-scenes-vince-gilligan/ said:
When the 10th anniversary of the show came along last year, I started to think, “Maybe we get a little money from Sony and we do a mini-episode. We’ll call it ’63,’ like the 63rd episode. And it’s maybe 15 or 20 minutes long.” That quickly morphed into an hour-long episode. And then that morphed into a two-hour movie. It’s not really cost-effective to put a crew together to do one hour’s worth of story. It grew into this movie quickly.
Many of his Breaking Bad writers (many of whom are working on Better Call Saul) didn’t like the idea of referring to the potential mini-episode as “63” because that implied that there was something unfulfilled about Breaking Bad the series. Gilligan didn’t want to make that implication to audiences, so he ended up evolving the project from there
https://www.slashfilm.com/el-camino-deleted-scenes-vince-gilligan/ said:
“This Movie…Does Not Need to Exist”
And finally, Gilligan admits that when it comes right down to it, this is not a story that was begging to be told:

…This is probably not something I should be saying to you, but to say it again, this movie, strictly speaking, does not need to exist. I stand by the fact that Breaking Bad stands on its own. And I’m proud as hell of that. This started off as a bit of a trifle. Having said that, it morphed into this somewhat big-budget, event-type movie that I couldn’t be more proud of. Netflix was wonderful, Sony was wonderful in allowing us to make this thing. But ultimately, are you required to watch this as a fan of Breaking Bad to have a complete experience? No, you’re really not. But I’m hoping people will take it for what it is: something that’s meant to be a gift to the fans, and a gift to Aaron Paul, who I truly believe deserves many more movies where he’s the star. It was something done for the love of it, something that I hope people will enjoy and get some sort of deeper satisfaction from.
So, there you have it, this DOESN'T need to exist, but it was a labor of love, so I'm fine that it does; and, that's saying something these days.
 
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Well.....

I enjoyed El Camino for what it was. Jesse is still unknown in terms of his life. He got away from Todd and friends, but only away from society at the end. I doubt he stays there, but who knows?

You guys at the very least need to pass on 3 from hell. What a waste of time. Not a single redeeming moment.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Well.....

I enjoyed El Camino for what it was. Jesse is still unknown in terms of his life. He got away from Todd and friends, but only away from society at the end. I doubt he stays there, but who knows?
One of the things I appreciated was how it brought back and utilised odds and ends like Alaska, originally played for laughs if I recall (pick a warm place, Jesse =), and Ed the vacuum man/cleaner (RIP Robert Forster). That did actually add something to those elements, especially Ed, while of course draping the movie's plot points in the show's established lore. As for what becomes of Jesse now... well shit, now they have to do Zamboni, A Breaking Bad Movie: All is well for Jesse and his new adopted family in Alaska, until yet another New Mexico dirtbag moves into town, who may have been Todd's locksmith, culminating in a western-style showdown in America's last frontier!

Kidding aside, when you consider a story of Jesse having moved on and having something or someone for himself to protect, it does make me wish we'd gotten more. Of course, be careful what you wish for.
 
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I'm definitely stoked for Uzumaki. I hope it's better than the previous story collection anime, which was just 'okay'.

Current TV I'm watching this season:

South Park
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Creepshow
The Good Place
Titans
Mr Robot
Watchmen

Bunch of seasonal anime (this seasons been pretty good so far).

Also been rewatching Twin Peaks in the background.
 
I just watched the last episode of The Deuce. I really liked this show. Since I liked it so much, perhaps I should once and for all start watching The Wire...
 

Griffith

My posts are better.


Star Wars: The Mandalorian - The opening scene and parts of the first episode are very reminiscent of the opening of Berserk, particularly the '97 anime. Other than that, it's basically Star Wars karaoke remix and very sci-fi western, but it could potentially sing on its own, we'll see. It looks and feels pretty authentic and is refreshingly granular and low stakes; as in, in terms of what it matters in the grand scheme of things, not everything in it purports to be vital to the SAGA (so it can be a little looser, just have fun with Ugnaughts and Jawas and shit =). In that regard, it's already more palatable than the new films. Anyway, so far it's good enough to keep watching, and can still potentially be better than that, hopefully get somewhere on its own storytelling steam and not just work as fun bite-sized Star Wars bits.
 
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Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Wow, this show was not on my radar at all because I really don’t care about Star Wars anymore, but what you’ve written about it seems quite promising. Once my wife talks us into getting Disney+ I’ll probably check it out :casca:
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
The Mandalorian is the best original content I've seen on a streaming service in a long time. I can't actually think of something that rivals it (I was going to say Stranger Things season 1, but that actually wasn't too great...). It's earnestly attempting greatness, and for that I applaud it. Each episode has introduced at least one interesting facet of the relatively uncharted morally grey territory within Star Wars. People should watch it.

Naturally, I have reservations. As things unfold, that coveted grey area it's reaching for is soon revealed to be just the packaging. I've found the show to be tonally confused, and at best feels like a heavyweight pulling their punches.

It opens with a scene that signals ADULTS ONLY—KIDS CLEAR ON OUT. Those edgy wings are quickly clipped. Disney seems to want it both ways: A show that captures adults' attentions and one that's palatable alongside their family friendly Disney+ headliners. So it will, for example, sometimes stop to pause on incongruous shots of waving child extras. And listen, I'm totally cool with "Baby Yoda." It's fucking cute, sure. But there is A LOT of it, to the point of pandering the audience. Despite the apparent grittiness, the world is mostly charming. Bad things don't happen to good people (they can't, remember? This is the New Republic, the good guys won!). And they don't seem willing to make any sort of commentary on this sudden, seismic change in the political landscape, despite ample opportunities (the most we get is an audible groan from Mando, which is a weak tease). They're playing it super safe here within a limited scope, which for a show about a bounty hunter ostensibly on the fringe of society, is kind of a boring way to go.

Speaking of boring, this is possibly one of the least interesting main characters I can recall. Holy shit, they sure went all out on practical effects, but green-screened his personality?! I almost want to call it a bold decision to feature a lead who cannot actually emote because of a mask AND exudes almost no interesting spark. This whole obfuscation thing would actually work if they made his motives a bit more unclear, a bit more nuanced. Case in point: The fucking Skull Knight. But no, this guy does pretty much exactly what you'd expect he'd do (should do) in each episode. There's no reason to wonder about who he is, or how he came to be. He's The Mandalorian. I already know more about him and care far less than I do about The Man With No Name, so in that regard, it's a huge miss.

So, he's a bounty hunter wearing Mandalorian armor, but really he's got a heart of gold. Some of this earnestness clashing with the tone it's clearly striving for by way of the subject matter gets in the way of me actually enjoying the moments where this show does actually bring something special, like for example, re-enact Seven Samurai. Each episode is a setpiece, and the pacing is often spot on, even if the climaxes have resulted in some cringe-worthy moments. Still, it doesn't overextend itself, it stays within the range of its purpose, and that's a huge feat, considering the multiple vectors for failure when operating in something as porous in quality as the extended Star Wars universe.

This probably makes me uncool. And some of this is clearly my problem that I'm bringing to the table, creating an unsolvable riddle. If I were a bit younger and had different needs from a show, I'd probably be right there with most of the fans. It's of good stock, it looks great, it's grounded and has a relatively fresh direction for Star Wars (that's already far more than I can say of the recent films). All of that is good! Bravo! I just see the direction they're heading and want them to go further; far more than they're willing to shell out. At the end of the day, it's really not The Mandalorian's fault—it's Disney's.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
You didn't even address the REAL star of the show. :puck: :carcus:

Count me among the less demanding, or concerned, I just didn't expect transcendent television here in the first place so I'm not holding it to that standard, but same difference. In a weird way, it's a throwback of a show in that it seems to be trying to find its footing week-to-week with random episodic adventures rather than some meticulously plotted, limited episode prestige show (it's proceeding like it's got 24 episodes to fill, and maybe the mentality is it's basically infinite). It's got bigger stuff happening in the background, sort of, but it's like whatever, we'll circle back there in the finale after taking the scenic route and seeing the biggest ball of space yarn and some random guest stars. Like I said, old school. But I actually think this is the best approach because trying to force the issue is how you end up with these tortured Star Wars fan movies that want to be SO! SIGNIFICANT!

It has tapered off since the opening. I liked the little three episode arc to start, hated the fourth episode, which I thought was more Xena/Hercules ("whew, let's go somewhere cheap for a while!") than Kurosawa, and the fifth one was somewhere in-between, but with so much fanservice I couldn't help but enjoy spotting it all.

I actually kind of like what it DOESN'T do well, or at all, as a show. You don't know the main character's name, see his face, or know anything of significance about him, and the show doesn't seem particularly in any hurry to explore those things but for a few not so revealing flashbacks (spoiler: he was once a child, experienced some star wars). The same goes for most of the supporting cast! They don't bother to explain or explore anything, which is interesting in itself because that's not how the rules of character-driven TV works, but that makes sense because Favreau probably doesn't know or care about any of that (and neither do I, really). He's just taking the old Star Wars figures out of the toy box, reappropriating them ("Boba, you're Mando now, and you're gonna sound like you did in the original trilogy"), and mixing them up in interesting ways ("Time to fight on this playset... or have a chance encounter on this one"). As is, the show has infinite possibilities, so if one doesn't work out, that's fine because we'll go on a different adventure next week (like the old serials that inspired Star Wars in the first place; just wait until they talk Lucas into writing/directing one, no pressure =)! When I'm going to get bummed is when the show does circle back to seriously plot it up and utterly falls short.
 
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Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Count me among the less demanding, or concerned, I just didn't expect transcendent television here in the first place so I'm not holding it to that standard, but same difference.
Again with the expectations, it’s Marvel all over again! Within the scope of a Disney streaming show, I’m not sure I could have given it a more glowing review. That being said, an hour of my time is expensive to me. A show’s gotta be fucking stellar to have me invest time in it. So if I find my mind wandering toward better possibilities — and that happens every episode, unfortunately — that's a problem for me, and I’ll call it out. I want things to #BeBest. That's my curse, and you're cursed to endure it via my posts on mainstream media :badbone:

When I'm going to get bummed is when the show does circle back to seriously plot it up and utterly falls short.
I wouldn’t really care for that. The episodic sequencing has been a strength, so far. Something new every time. Even though within its A to B plotting, it’s somewhat simple, that’s okay as long as how they get there is interesting (kinda 50-50 in this case).
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Again with the expectations, it’s Marvel all over again! Within the scope of a Disney streaming show, I’m not sure I could have given it a more glowing review.
I don't think you say anything false about it either, but [TANGENT] I actually wish Disney would interfere MORE in this stuff for their corporate interests or whatever, because it might align better with my own. For instance, how about exploit us for a Luke Skywalker movie or TV show instead of flushing the character down the toilet because you were too scared/didn't know how to use him, that is until you gave him to a guy who REALLY wasn't scared and unceremoniously offed him for no good reason. If anything Disney should be taking better care of their property instead of letting rando creatives run amok with it (on that note, they're probably letting Faverau do what he wants, it's just nobody knows how to/can truly recreate the feeling of Star Wars save for copy/pasting it, and least of all Disney execs). Anyway, they could always make up some new BS like this or Rogue One and dress it in old Star Warsy clothes, but Mark Hamill, like Carrie Fisher before him, is a limited resource with a shelf life, they ain't cloning him, so they should be using it while they can... but they already trashed it. :shrug:

But an hour of my time is expensive to me. And if I find my mind wandering toward better possibilities — and that happens every episode, unfortunately — I’ll call it out.
I'm just looking for something to kill 40 minutes. =) I don't think it gets much better than Episode 2 of this show though, but that speaks to my taste these days. Nothing deep there, just pure toys in the sandbox.

I want things to #BeBest. That's my curse, and you're cursed to endure it via my posts on mainstream media :badbone:
The past year my other shows have been Clifford, Sesame Street, Wild Kratts, Pinkalicious, Odd Squad, Martha Speaks, Super Why, Daniel Tiger, Arthur, etc. Trust me, this is AWESOME! Also, the problem with Disney Wars is it usually IS claiming to be the best, or important, or the EVERLASTING STORY SAGA LEGEND or some shit, which is why I find Mando's intended everyday averageness refreshing. The supposed best thing is what's going to disappoint me because I'd probably rather be working on my spaceship.

As for mainstream/corporate media properties versus purportedly more organic artistic experiences, creators of all stripes and levels do plenty of crap, so I take a more "good is wherever you find it" approach, because it's probably by accident anyway. But tell me where the gold is and I'll go digging.

I think the best thing I've seen all year is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is either an appropriately auteurist pick or so obvious and mainstream it might as well be Avengers Endgame. I heard The Irishman is longer than the whole Mandalorian series combined so far! :magni: BTW, this may have already come up, but I totally get and agree with Marty on his idea of cinema versus the commercial assembly line model from Marvel/Disney that, at best, co-opts the best creatives and essentially binds and limits them to lesser endeavors. And Coppola did him one better, "Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema, he didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just said it is." :ganishka:

I wouldn’t really care for that. The episodic sequencing has been a strength, so far. Something new every time. Even though within its A to B plotting, it’s somewhat simple, that’s okay as long as how they get there is interesting (kinda 50-50 in this case).
Yeah, it's gesturing at STUFF, like his childhood (oh, now we see why he hates droids, DEEP), but I don't know that it amounts to anything but window dressing, or that I want it too. I mean, I'd love the show to be genuinely great and for Mando to become the best character in Star Wars lore, but it's more of a live action cartoon, and no surprise, last episode was by Dave Filoni. One nice thing I can say about the fourth episode was it afforded me my first Star Wars moment with my daughter, who was mesmerized by that red-eyed AT-ST she probably too young to see, but she was genuinely into it like I haven't seen outside of PBS programming and thrilled when they won, or at least was happy they were happy. =)
 
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