Wednesday, February 18, 2009
There are different possible explanations for this. One is the Whedonite masses rushing to rescue their messiah. But that doesn't really make much sense; why not just watch the show on TV in the first place?
The explanation that makes sense to me is that Whedon appeals to a kind of audience that TV networks haven't figured into their equations yet: people that are tech-savvy enough to watch a show on their own time rather than whenever the network decides to schedule it. Especially if they schedule it on Friday night, when people have better things to be doing.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I've been dying to take Jeff to see Coraline, but I was a bit worried he'd have bad dreams. Now that we've seen it, I'm worried I might.
Visually it's stunning. I saw it in 3D and was worried it'd be gimmicky. But we're well past the old scary-hand-sticking out the screen phase. The animation is every bit as good as Wall-E, maybe better.
The only thing I worry about is that the movie might be too scary for its intended audience. Like Murasaki's Spirited Away, Gaiman's original story plucks at some really primal childhood fears: abandonment, betrayal, dark passages and of course getting eaten by really nasty monsters. And the Other Mother is easily the scariest monster anyone's come up with in the last few decades.
The one thing that keeps the movie from being too scary for any young child is the plucky courage of the heroine. When Coraline cranks up her mouth and puts down one eyebrow you believe she is a match for The Beldame. Still, if you know any children that are faint of heart you might want to view it on your own first. Unless you're faint of heart yourself.
As I feared, Jeff had trouble getting to sleep. If his grandma hadn't happened to be in town & sleeping in his room he probably would have had to sleep with us.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I am not an expert on these sort of things, but I can't help but wonder if these numbers are really accurate. Like a lot of people I know, I downloaded the shows - legally, I might add. I paid two bucks each for them on Amazon.
So, okay, I guess a lot of people also get the show illegally on BitTorrent, and that doesn't do Fox any good. But shouldn't the cost-benefit evaluation of a show reflect people like me who don't have cable but buy the shows the day or the weekend after? This would seem especially to be the case with a Friday-night show; it's not like Everybody Loves the King of How I Met Your Mother or whatever where people with nothing better to do on a Tuesday night veg with a microwave dinner in front of the tube.
Mostly I'm just saying this because I don't want the only two TV shows I watch canceled. But I think it's a valid point, too. Sooner or later the old methods of evaluating the success of a TV show is going to have to change.
Echo's personality has been surgically removed so she can have new ones implanted. This is meant to be a showcase for Eliza Dushku's talent, which it isn't quite yet, though she's a satisfactory actress. This is partly because the 'blank slate' of Echo is still too mich of a cypher. Moreso it's because she was given physical crutches to show the character she plays, in the form of glasses &an inhaler.
Cromartie, of course, started out without a personality, unless you count being a soulless killing machine. Now he's developing one, into which Agent Ellison is attempting, perhaps without hope, to imbue some sort of morality, or as he called it the "First Ten" directives. In both shows the body is the vehicle for th 'I'. Echo's body is used to deal with the conflicts of an ensemble of characters, while Chromatie and Cameron's chassis are simply platforms for the chip that contains whatever a Terminator has in place of a soul.
It's hard for us to see it any other way. Early references to mind/body dualism was recently found in Mesopotamia dating from 1000 BC or so, but doubtless it's a lot older than that. This is in spite of the fact that a mind without its body has never been observed, while a brain-bearing body without a mind can live, but not to any particular effect.
Those of you paying attention have noticed that I've lazily been making no distinction between concepts like 'mind,' 'soul,' 'personality' and the universal human concept of the 'I'. That's not because I am not sure those can be as easily separated as most people think, though I'm pretty sure they can't, like the different words blindfolded men use to describe an elephant. More important is that television lacks any method to distinguish how a person acts from who he or she is, and few enough even to distinguish that from how he or she looks. When Echo comes out of the 'treatment' chair and we need a key that she's still the hostage negotiator, the first thing she says is "where are my glasses?" Meanwhile, Chromartie's body could have been reconstructed into anything (why don't they make Terminators look like innocent little kids, helpless old ladies or poodles?) But of course it was given the same stolen B-movie actor's face that belongs to the real-life TV actor Garret Dillahunt. This is partially because there's no reason to replace an actor who's a pretty good killer robot, but more importantly because we wouldn't recognize him otherwise as Chromartie.
Though none of these themes are new to sci-fi, the popularity of these shows will give us qa hint whether the future of the genre will be, as I suspect, a deeper exploration into the interior questions of the nature of the 'I.' A confluence of new understandings of the nature of the brain, continued advances in AI tech an increasing awareness of the limits of of where we can explore physically (Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids) is going to increase our interest in where we can go in the human head.
Hopefully we will not be so enthralled as Topher Brink, played by Fran Kranz, the real show-stealer of the first episode. Brink is the joyfully amoral super-geek, so enthralled by what his tech can do he's pulled completely beyond any sense of right &wrong. It was people like him, I'm sure, who created the hydrogen bomb. Dollhouse confronts us with the thought of what such a person might make of the potentially deadliest weapom of all: the human mind.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Recently, however, CD has begun emitting a typically prolific flood of posts, accompanied by a new pic (and all well worth reading, I should add). I swear the guy lives like 5 seconds for every 1 the rest of us experience.
The quantity is no surprise to anyone who's ever met Cory. But what's freaking me out is the possibility, however small, that _I was doing something on the 'Net before CD was._
I must be missing something here. Probably he had some other Twitter ID I didn't know about before this one.
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