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24 February 2011 @ 08:59 pm
V (series to date); Y: The Last Man (entire series)  
I'll post some more positive media reactions soon, promise. I even thought about doing one per day for the duration of this week-long vacation (Destination: Living Room!), but part of the point is not holding myself to any deadlines, and I want to do the positive stuff justice. So, coming soon: Chuck! Mumford & Sons! Garcia! Mike Holmes! But for now, a couple of "meh" reactions ... from the "late-alphabet single-character title" division, heh.
V: I may not be watching this show much longer. I like Baccarin (damn can she sell creepy!), but the negatives are piling up.

They fail biology forever, which is a real problem if we've now heard the actual reason for the invasion. We don't have nearly enough shiny to detract from the grievously bad science. (Oh, and they have to design and use the Torment of a Thousand Needles for DNA samples? What in the world would that accomplish that the hair/skin/blood samples they already collected in their healing centers, beyond Showing Us That They're Just That Evil?)

I briefly thought Erica had finally gotten that brain transplant she so desperately needed, but she's sinking back fast; and it really, really disturbs me that I would, with no training in either field beyond having watched a television show or movie ever, make not just a better FBI agent than this alleged certified one but a better terrorist to boot. (The use of trust in a terror network doesn't work that way (please, advertise your most valuable and vulnerable asset on systems you know the Vs can monitor a little more), and they're still using the same base they think Ryan surely has told Anna about ... the hell? And it's refreshing that she's finally decided to sack up, so to speak, and stop being so blind to what her objectives actually require, but she's still falling into the same stupid "let's all be friends!" and "oh noes my baaaayby!!" crap that have been her motivation and downfall all along. And thanks so much for making me advocate more effective terrorism techniques, show. Ew.) And her new "hardcore" is motivated by one of the more blatant, cliche-ridden fridgings I've ever seen (though the inversion of the guy dying to motivate the woman is at least freshish).

I'd be a lot happier if Anna would finally get tired of Riley and snack on him, because the emo hormonal blah may be character-accurate but it's still annoying. Either the acting or direction is problematic, too, because an 18-year-old American boy-man should probably have been a hell of a lot more body-conscious about being nearly nude in front of his girlfriend's mother and semi-surrogate maternal figure.

I hate to criticize an actress's looks, but I think the fault is more with the make-up; regardless, Lisa looks entirely too old to be effective "bait" for teenage boys. And speaking of "bait", the way Anna has pimped Lisa out in the past has been gross, but this last episode really crossed the line for me on that front. The show's messaging on all fronts has always been deeply problematic, really, and I just don't know how much of it is deliberate (for the narrative) and how much is writer/showrunner blindness (or deliberate soapboxing). I'm growing increasingly convinced that most of it is the latter.

The search for the "soul" ... ugh. Bored now. What reason (beyond script necessities, which don't qualify at all) would the Vs have to make sure Ryan survived the explosion that killed Eli Cohn, only to turn around a short time later and point out that his utility was used up at that same point, so they might as well kill him — but not here and now, where they have him at their mercy, but at some indeterminate later point, and "quietly" (why?)? violetcheetah can't understand why the dialogue frustrates me so much, because she doesn't think it's exceptional relative to other shows we've watched, but I don't agree at all; they constantly spell out and recap every. little. development in the most explicit, for-dummies text. I really do think most shows I watch aren't that bad; I'm not constantly groaning "We know that! [Other character] does, too!" (Occasionally, sure, but not constantly. Really!) It's this show that keeps mashing that button for me.

I ... actually can't think of any reason to keep watching (now that it's made Brad Wright eat his words, heh). It's not campy enough to be fun; there's only so much gawking I can do at the way Baccarin moves (though ... damn); I can't watch Marcus anymore because he's almost completely dead somewhere; kinda hot Dad is now tragically dead Dad; I suspect they're trying to build a triangle by defrocking Jack and lingering on the positively endothermic "chemistry" between Erica and Terrorist Dude, and I have no time for that kind of nonsense; and they've established that skinning these Vs kills them, so I can't look forward to Diana suddenly turning on Lisa, hollowing out her skin, and then walking around in it to escape. So what is there for me to look forward to, here?
Y: The Last Man: I first heard of this by seeing it in "Chuck", of all things. The series has been published in something like 60 issues, which were collected into ten books, which are now being republished in five deluxe volumes; I'll use the ten-book format for this discussion.

I got through book eight with my interest high. The format inherently makes most of the content into stories that are About A Man, so I'm not judging it for that, and they do work around that in entertaining ways at times. Numerous plot developments are tired or cliched, but more often, those are then inverted, to show that Yorick is a self-involved doofus, and that really worked for me. (All those moments when he tried to have a Moment of Awesome, only to have a more experienced or qualified woman nearby cut him down or dismiss him, pointing out his childishness or superfluity — very nicely done.) And then even those rash moments are contextualized and addressed ("Safeword"). The character gradually grows and changes; some of the unsignalled flashbacks disoriented me, but for the most part the character growth and art progression made them clear.

And the lessons that developed ... depressing as hell, but likely accurate. The in-text mocking of the perception that an all-female world would immediately enjoy worldwide peace was very effective and was fully supported by the storyline.

And then, starting somewhere around book nine ... well. Look, I know I have a weakness for happy endings but, even more so, tidy endings. I want the narratives I consume to make sense. I want to know that the investment of my attention will be rewarded by some intended destination or payoff. (That's why shows that have no actual explanation for their driving plot element particularly annoy me; I don't know if it's true, but I've heard that's the case for "The Event", and if I were watching it that would make me stop cold.) Their absence does not inherently make for a bad narrative, but I still want them.

And "Y" gives neither.

Coherence: The series is built around a journey to perpetuate the species, and that does happen, but I had the sense that the "gendercide" would be explained, and it wasn't. Instead we get a bit of quasi-magical realism that didn't fit the style of narrative I thought I was reading. Throughout, the series pays careful attention to the realities of an apocalypse as well as to the (apparent) accuracy of science; to then handwave the causative event as "enh, it was all morphic resonance, which we've already dismissed as mystical nonsense, and some of it will magically fix itself" ... it doesn't fit, and it smacks of a cheat, of incomplete planning. If it's meant as a narrative subversion, then to me it fails.

Happy: The one particularly significant late death ... I can't say it's a fridging, because it doesn't bear even that much narrative significance; it's just Pulling a Joss Whedon. Sure, humanity survives and even thrives, but Our Hero explicitly winds up devastated, with his personal series-long goal diverted at the last second and then murdered, (reportedly) suicidal in his old age and locked away in a dark room that reeks of feces. And this grim ending is ... alleviated? Maybe? By the escape that was telegraphed the second we saw him, given that the very first time we saw him, he was in a straightjacket, and his escapology was a frequent plot point? O...kay? Yeah, the whole thing just leaves me with a sour feeling.

(Oh, and killing off not just all human men but all mammals, showing a dead puppy and starving female cats, and calling out the overly broad effect in text, only to turn around and show hope for humanity by means of the spontaneous generation of male rats — way to cheese off this pet rescuer, guys.)

And the others ... Beth Jr. gets parents who are blatantly together only for her sake. Hero does get a happy ending ... apparently magically cured of the pseudo-schizophrenia that lasted only long enough to serve as one or two dramatic plot twists, so bwuh? Not one of the Ayuko clones can ever hope to be as brilliant as the original, allegedly, because only a driving asshole of a father can inspire that extra edge ... really? Alter's entire motivation was that she remained so sexist that she needed to die at the hands of something "more" than a "mere girl"?

In total, meh. Very interesting, but falls apart at the end for me.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth | Comment | comment count unavailable comments
 
 
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sings and wanders: butlervioletcheetah on February 25th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
It isn't that I don't understand why the dialogue annoys you; I just have watched enough crappy mainstream shows that I'm mostly immune to it. Remember, I have watched a good amount of CSI and its inbred cousins on syndication, as well as continuing to watch the L&O franchise long after it jumped the shark. So my response to unnecessary exposition is less "OMG, I can't believe they think we're that stupid!" and more "Ah, here's the part where they pander to the average viewer."
michelel72: SGA-John-ISaidSomichelel72 on February 26th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Nah, I know you get why it annoys me, but you always wonder why I'm surprised. I know you see it all the time, but I try to shelter myself from that crap .... :)
E.T. Davidoffvettecat on February 25th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Y review. We have the first few collections and I'd been trying to decide whether it was worth continuing. Sounds like, not so much.
michelel72: Cat-Gonzo-Roundmichelel72 on February 26th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
It really is a shame; it really felt as if the first eight books were going somewhere, only to have a different ending tacked on. Those first eight books were quite engaging, though, I thought.
Painfully perky: Happy Rodney by Monanotlisaicarusancalion on March 7th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Hi, this is off-topic, but I just got a slew of AO3 kudos on a story from waaaay back, called Power Napping--one of those from you. Where did you hear about the story?
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-NotMorningmichelel72 on March 7th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
It came up over at an sgagenrefinders search, IIRC ....
Painfully perkyicarusancalion on March 8th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
Aaaah... that makes sense. It's kind of an oddball story so not one that gets mentioned very often.