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[movies] Being entertained, or not - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-12-26 08:11
Subject: [movies] Being entertained, or not
Security: Public
Tags:applefail, books, movies, reviews, videos, work
Lately, my fatigue has completely wiped out even my comfort reading. I've managed about six paragraphs of The White Dragon in the past three or four days, total. So when not in conversational company, I've been reduced to watching movies and tv shows via my Apple TV.

On recommendation from [info]bravado111 I tried renting Elfimdb ] via iTunes, as it wasn't available on Netflix Streaming. This is only the second or third time I've rented to watch from iTunes, and it was a bust. Six minutes into the movie, the sound cut out. Nothing I could do could bring it back. I do not see how this could possibly be user error, though I have considered the possibility given my current mental state. There's no apparent path for either tech support or a refund of my $3.99 rental fee, though I will try calling Apple's customer service line today. (There didn't seem to be much point in calling on Christmas Day.) The iTunes rental customer experience was obviously designed with the assumption that nothing could possibly go wrong. Which is idiotic on the face of it. As big a fan as I generally am of most things Apple, I'm very disappointed, and not looking forward to the hassle that almost certainly won't be worth the value of my perhaps eventual refund. I call fail on Apple and iTunes for this one.

Yesterday on a whim, [info]the_child and I watched Mary and Maximdb ] via Netflix Streaming. I hesitate to call this film underrated, since I'd literally never heard of it and therefore there was no rating to be under, but it was a wonderful movie. It's a claymation feature from Australia, told in something like an epistolary style, of the friendship between a sad, strange little girl Down Under and a rather sad, strange man in New York City. To be clear, this is a sad, strange movie. There is abuse and mental illness. There is a great deal of loss. But there is also completely appropriate redemption at the end. It's one of those movies you just have to go with and stay with. Netflix billed this an 'indie comedy', which I think is highly misleading, but it certainly has dark, quirky humor. A soul-touching film, and well worth your close attention.

Okay, Star Trek (the original series) [ imdb ] isn't a movie, but I've been watching it on Netflix Streaming as well. I didn't grow up in the United States, and thus missed the endless reruns of Star Trek on tv in the 1970s. There are episodes I simply never saw that I'm finally getting to see now. It's charming and hilarious and fun, and watching them in close sequence is letting me glimpse the gelling of the ensemble cast, the shift in characters as they found their footing, and the direction, such as it is, of the show. But I have to ask, knowing I'm almost five decades late to the party, did these people never hear of continuity? At least in the first season, each script seems to invent its own terminology and technology for Enterprise, her crew and her operations. It's like the writers never talked to each other, and the show runners never read any two scripts in a row. This randomness has actually become annoying to me-the-critical-watcher, probably because as a writer I agonize over precisely these issues in my books. I'm fairly ignorant of television history, was in-show continuity just no big deal back in the 1960s? It seems to me to be such a basic cornerstone of building a believable SFnal universe, the glaring lack of it in Star Trek is very odd.

Today, more Star Trek, continuity or not, maybe mixed in with some season two Black Adderimdb ] for variety. I've Day Jobbery tomorrow, but I'm off the rest of the week, so surely there will be more William Shatner and Rowan Atkinson in my near future.

Post A Comment | 19 Comments | | Link

User: mlerules
Date: 2011-12-26 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yay BlackAdder! Hmm, reminds me that I've not watched the x-mas special in years...thx. :-)
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Tim W. Burke
User: timwb
Date: 2011-12-26 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: We don't know each other, but...
...I wanted to tell you to hang in there.

The day you are having is pretty much my average day due to my own medical issues. The pouncing successes are replaced by quiet, mindless moments. You do what you need to get through, and it's all worth respect.

Netflix does suck, and frankly ST:TOS defines "cobbled together." Look for Fat Shatner episodes: those were shot late in the season.
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User: threeoutside
Date: 2011-12-26 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm so glad you liked Mary and Max, I stumbled across that one on Netflix a few months ago and wondered why we'd never heard of it (too good for Yankee audiences, maybe? Too cerebral? Not simple enough?) It is very moving, and funny, and sad. I will be watching it again someday.

As for the original Star Trek, even with the rather obvious problems you mention, at the time it was still magnitudes better than any science fiction commercial TV had offered yet. Twilight Zone had the occasional gem, but it wasn't *billed* as science fiction. So that should tell you something about how networks and advertisers saw SF back in the day.
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Larry Sanderson
User: lsanderson
Date: 2011-12-26 16:40 (UTC)
Subject: Star Trek
If I remember, the gosh wow was so strong it overrode most other critical considerations.
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User: adelheid_p
Date: 2011-12-26 16:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The original Star Trek series was one of the earliest to use science fiction authors to write episodes and since this was a new concept at the time, I'd guess that having a show bible to pass out to the writers didn't occur to them.
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2011-12-26 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We always thought of it as "Wagon Train in the Stars," in other words, you had to put all your toys back where you found them at the end of each episode.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-12-26 17:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't think continuity was necessarily a strong suit of TV at the time. I was a fan of some of the first ensemble shows (at least on the channels available to me at the time...The Name of the Game was the main one that comes to mind, but then there was the McCloud, McMillan and Me and Columbo setup that came shortly after. I can vaguely remember various continuity fails in sitcoms of the era.
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Twilight: Lwaxana Troi
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-12-26 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lwaxana Troi
Television in general in this era was "bottle" episodes - each episode was self-contained and like deborahjross said, you put your toys back where you found them at the end of each ep. A lot of books were too if you think about Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew - or even Perry Mason - the characters didn't change from one to the next - you could pick up any book in those series and not miss a step - TV was pretty much like that too.

SF at the time? threeoutside hit it spot on - The state of SF on TV in the 60's was pretty awful.
The other offerings were things like Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, The Green Hornet, Batman, The Invaders, Land of the Giants, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Wild Wild West and Dr Who which only existed in Great Britain for the most part. Of those? TWZone (59-64) and Outer Limits (63-65) were "serious" and VERY bottle style, by design (different casts, different universes, etc) - only tied together by theme or narrartor. Wild Wild West was the first "dramady" (hour long, drama/comedy format) and was by far the best of the bunch - continuity was actually pretty good, but that was VERY unusual for the time. My Favorite Martian was a sitcom, so didn't draw the same audiences at all. Most of them were awful - TV didn't think much of SF; Trek's fight to stay alive was Legend.

Continuity in general? You can find the same problems on major shows from I Love Lucy to Bonanza to Wagon Train - no one at the studios were worried about it and the audience either didn't care, didn't notice or had no easy feedback mechanism with to communicate their concern ;>. It was an early hard core Trek fan that finally became the Continuity Guy - and that, iirc, was only as the movies launched and Paramount realized it was an actual issue that might affect the bottom line if fans killed it in the press...
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Kevin Roche
User: kproche
Date: 2011-12-26 18:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's been a long time since I read the assorted "making of" Star Trek books, but they did develop a bible for the show as time went on.

One entry quoted in the book (and this is from deep in my having-read-it-once memory, so I hope it's correct) related to the translucent flashing red block that stuck up from the center of the navigators console, reminding writers that it flashed red when the sensors/deflectors detected collision conditions, and *not* to indicate Red Alert.
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Twilight: Tried
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-12-26 19:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I remember too that the show's bible was developed over time - and nothing like the ones we have for today's shows ;>
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Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation
User: johno
Date: 2011-12-28 08:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Also that in the 2nd or 3rd season, a director told George or Walter to push a particular button to fire the phasers.

George/Walter pointed out the usual button. The director said it didn't matter.

"Not to you, but I'm one who will get the letters telling me I pushed the wrong button."
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Rick Moen
User: rinolj
Date: 2011-12-26 18:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm pretty sure that the notion of a 'show bible' arrived only after Star Trek's production run -- certainly in the realm of SFnal television. Roddenberry and Paramount probably had no supporting structure set up to enable writers to catch up on what they were supposed to know, and all the writers were just writing as quickly as they could.
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Bruce E. Durocher II
User: bedii
Date: 2011-12-26 21:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There was a "show bible" although it may not have had that name: it was quoted from in "The Making of Star Trek" and I got curious enough in college to hunt around long enough to get a photocopy of it. I have it in the storage area so I can't pull it out right now, but at about 20 pages tops it doesn't compare to what's currently done--although it does have a nice variant of the Galaxy "this isn't SF" cowboy text ad to show what would be unacceptable for a writer on the show.
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User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-12-26 21:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
May I suggest writing a (paper) letter instead of calling? That way, you spend time on your own schedule, and then you can let it go. It's slower, and there's no guarantee of success, but my mother always told me that if you write a letter to someone really high up in the company, you'll often get results.

Just a thought.

Sorry you had that experience.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2011-12-27 01:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The episodes did not air in the order they were filmed, and the airdate order is what the DVDs and such are based on. (Though you can find the original order by look at the number it's given on the menu grid.) Starfleet was originally referred to as the United Earth Space Probe Agency (in Where No Man - IIRC), and in a later episode referred to as UESPA (pronounced Yous-spa). Took me forever to figure that out. The evolution of the series works better if you watch it in production order, but it's a PITA to keep switching out the DVDs. If you want the order, however, I'll be happy to send it to you.
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Jay Lake: graffiti-robot_brick
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-12-27 13:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd be curious to see the production order. And I'm watching it on Netflix Streaming, so switching around is only a matter of minor recordkeeping, so to speak.
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scarlettina: To Boldly Go
User: scarlettina
Date: 2011-12-27 01:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:To Boldly Go
As has been stated by others, the series did in fact have a bible, and a more extensive one than most other shows had at the time. We've been so trained into looking for series continuity--which is a relatively recent innovation in television--that Trek's lack of it is strange now. bedii's right that the original bible is quoted in the various histories of the show that have been published, and it's occasionally referred to in the Star Trek Companion. But continuity like you saw in Babylon 5 or the new Galactica? Nah. Only soap operas had anything like the continuity we're used to (and even that was unreliable). Real show continuity didn't turn up in regular television until the '80s, and if you watch Next Generation, which premiered in 1987, even then it was spotty at best.

PS--When I get back to Seattle? We are so getting on the phone to talk about this. I really want to hear your thoughts and observations about the show. ::anticipatory glee::

Edited at 2011-12-27 01:38 am (UTC)
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2011-12-27 12:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm soooooo old that I watched TOS when it was first shown on NBC, then later in reruns. We endlessly discussed the True Meanings of each episode. Continuity? Hahahahahaha.
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User: dionysus1999
Date: 2011-12-28 13:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You want see some wacky stories, check out the "filmation" Star Trek animated series. Animation is used loosely here.

Larry Niven imports some of his "own" critters from his Known Space universe in one episode.
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