Sunday, July 5, 2009

2 Things From Fox

So, I want to apologize because I’ve been meaning to write this post for over a week. And I’d been meaning to write the first half of this post for over a month, but, well, better late than never right? Right? Well, whatever, it was supposed to be a rhetorical question.

Anyways, there are two new (well new a little while ago, but I think they still count as new) Fox properties that need to be brought up, discussed, and recommended. So that Fox can then cancel them. Or in one case, simply not bother to renew it.

The first one I want to talk about is Glee. Fox has been promoting the show really heavily and one of the songs from it was the top selling single on iTunes for awhile, so it’s actually looking like this is going to last. I have no idea why. Err, let me rephrase that. I love it.

You see, if all you knew about Glee can from those two facts above, you would probably be rather skeptical of this show. I mean, the ads make it clear that it’s supposed to bear more than a passing resemblance to High School Musical. Now, since I think we can all agree that any genius or genius-like properties that might have been in High School Musical were a total fluke, so seeing ads that try to convince us that a show is even remotely like High School Musical should set off tons of warning bells.

But, well, I ignored all those warning bells going off in my head and I watched it. And, let me tell you, this show is the anti-High School Musical. Or you could call it the High School Musical for people old enough to have actually attended high school...and have a sick sense of humor.

This show is sick and evil and subversive. I hope it’s a huge hit. So, here’s my favorite way to compare Glee to its Disney counterpart (I’m getting tired of typing High School Musical). I don’t really remember why Zac Effron’s character signs up to be in the show but I kind of assume it either involved the cute girl whose nude pictures showed up online or him getting detention in theater class. Probably a mixture of both (I feel like there was some choice on his part, though). In Glee, the teacher plants pot in the equivalent character’s locker and threatens to get him thrown off the football team if he doesn’t join the club. That is awesome. It might be more awesome that the teacher got the pot as a free sample from a former-teacher-turned-drug-dealer played by none other than Wallace Shawn (Inconceivable!).

Here’s another example. Jane Lynch is in it. If you know who she is, then that should sell you on just how evil and awesome the show is. She plays the cheerleaders‘ coach. And she is as evil as ever (if you don’t know who she is, then you’ll probably recognize her from The 40-Year Old Virgin or, um, the ads for Role Models). Also, another teacher is played by Jayma Mays, who played Hiro’s crush that could speak a bunch of languages...and was super cute.

Yeah, back to the show, that’s the kind of stuff that happens in this show. The best way I can describe it is that the show hates its characters. It thinks they’re pathetic. All of them. And it celebrates just how pathetic they are as they all join Glee to prove “that they can be good at something”. Yes, that’s why they joined Glee.

In a way, it’s pretty depressing because they know just how pathetic they are (that would be the key difference between this and the Disney property that it’s making fun of). And, I mean, our entertainment comes from watching them face that, day in and day out.

I’m pretty sure watching this show (and understanding this) makes me a bad person. Sometimes, I like being a bad person.

At the same time, though, it almost feels like people could also watch this show and totally not get it. I think that’s what makes it brilliant. I mean, you could watch the rival team doing a show-tunes rendition of “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, with clapping and dancing, and just think that it’s a fun cover of the song.

You could probably even watch the football player defending his decision to stick with Glee to the other football players by pointing out to them that everyone who lives in this godforsaken town is a loser and that, at best, one or two of them are going to manage to get into a college far enough away to escape the place and just think it’s the typical inspirational speech that this genre is supposed to have.

But man, I don’t know, what if people figure out that this isn’t High School Musical? What if they actually listen to the lyrics or even the words the characters are saying? Yeah, I think we’ll be fine, too.

Okay, next is Virtuality, which aired as a two hour made-for-TV movie, or something. I mean, it’s pretty clearly a pilot, but I’m pretty sure Fox has no intention of taking it to series, because that would be way too awesome for them.

On an unrelated note (okay fine it’s related), I’ve see two different takes on HAL this past 10 days or so. In Moon, starring Sam Rockwell and not related to this post at all, we’ve got Kevin Spacey’s take on HAL. It was certainly interesting. Particularly because he wasn’t evil. Yeah, it blew my mind too. Anyways, in Virtuality, HAL is named Jane and it’s not really clear if she’s evil or just incompetent.

Sorry, the show, movie...err, thing. It’s the next project from everyone’s favorite sci-i genre hero who is not JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, or Bryan Fuller (does he count as sci-fi, or just fantasy?). If you guessed Ron Moore, then good job.

So, if you watched Battlestar Galactica, you know a couple things about Mr. Moore. You know he likes shaky-cam shots of outer space. You know he does relatively hard sci-fi that’s typically more about people than action. You know he probably takes himself too seriously. You know his stuff might be worth watching. And, well, there you go. You know as much me.

Well, this shows’ driving concept is, probably, better than BSG’s. It’s a team being sent across the galaxy to begin preparations for humanity to leave Earth, which is experiencing cataclysmic climates, or something. What’s important is that they’re saving the world, okay. Anyways, it’s a reality show back home. I think that’s both awesome and incredibly real.

I mean, if a team was going out to save the world, I’m pretty sure I would want to tune in occasionally (okay, yeah, I probably wouldn’t but whatever).

So, not unlike dozens of other sci-fi properties the crew gets to feel the pressure of the world on their shoulders (most recently, I would throw out Danny Boyle’s Sunshine as a genre example). Plus, they get to feel the pressure of being on TV all the time (whoo!).

But, there’s one last piece to the puzzle. They can do virtual reality scenarios (like the holo deck in Star Trek) as a way to escape the space shuttle. Except, there’s something not quite right in the virtual reality.

There’s something that doesn’t seem to like them, something that is hurting them (either mentally or physically). And Jane isn’t helping.

And, well, that might be all we ever get. But, man, it was cool. It was cool because this something’s intention are anything but clear. It’s making them all feel things worse than death, but that’s inspiring them to keep working together and actually go forward. Obviously, there’s better ways to get people moving, but it did get them moving. But is that what it wanted?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever find out either. I wish I knew.

That is all.


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