Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Big Bang Theory: the 4th season - more problems.

I guess what can be said about The Big Bang Theory is that it has gone steadily downhill for the last season and a half. The third season was a big (and a rather unexpected) disappointment. The fourth season, unfortunately, has been even worse.

There are of course numerous reasons for the decline in quality, but I'll concentrate on the five big ones. These are:

1) Amy Farrah Fowler's character.
2) Sheldon degenerates even more.
3) The characters aren't underdogs anymore.
4) Lack of antagonists.
5) Writers don't know how to write Penny and female characters.

1) Amy Farrah Fowler's character: I don't know what the writers were thinking when they decided to create another Sheldon in Amy Farrah Fowler's character. She doesn't work at all.

I have nothing against Mayim Bialik as an actress. I liked her in Macgyver and as Blossom when I was a kid. It's just that on TBBT her character creates a black hole that sucks everyone else inside with her.

But why is AFF's character is so bad? Well, The Big Bang Theory is (or was) supposed to be about men vs women and geeks vs normal people. Every character should be an outcome of these four character attributes.

Mayim Bialik's character unfortunately doesn't follow these guidelines. In fact, her character isn't defined at all. We don't know if she's a geek or a normal person. And to be honest, do we even know if she's a man or a woman? She's just sitting there doing absolutely nothing.

2) Sheldon degenerates even more: I wouldn't have believed after the third season that Sheldon's character could get any worse. But that's what happened. Sheldon doesn't have any personality anymore. He only shouts out caricaturish lines that don't have anything to do with his twisted idealism.

If the writers did happen to get an idea where Sheldon has idealistic thoughts (like becoming a robot) the whole thing turns into a very ugly and lazy slapstick. Sheldon is supposed to become more human as people with asperger's tend to do. He's not supposed to regress.

3) The characters aren't underdogs anymore: Everyone roots for the underdogs so there's no good reason not to have them on the show. However, the writers went to silly lengths to make sure that none of the characters were in a 'down' situation.

Howard having a girlfriend is ok, since Bernadette is a funny character. But Leonard's conquests this season have been awful and have come out of nowhere. The most unfortunate instance of 'no underdogs'-theme has been Raj having a deaf girlfriend - off-screen. That's simply wrong.

4) Lack of antagonists: let's count the best antagonists so far on the show: Leslie Winkle, Dr. Gablehouser, Stuart, Wil Wheaton, and Leonard's mom. How many are left? Well, none basically. Wil Wheaton had a quick but unnecessary cameo in the Indy episode. Others have been missing in action.

When you take strong antagonists out of the equation, you're not left with much. It shouldn't be that hard to come up with story ideas where someone stands up to the guys. I myself managed to write a spec where Dr. Gablehouser shows Sheldon who's the boss, so it obviously can be done.

5) Finally: Writers don't know how to write female characters: This wasn't really a problem during the first two seasons. The characters were new so in certain ways Penny's character wrote itself. Now that we know the characters, we should get more insight into her.

Too bad that this doesn't happen. Instead she gets dumber and meaner as the seasons go further. She doesn't seem to have any ambitions whatsoever. Someone pointed out it might have something to do with those pesky middle aged divorced men on the staff...

Speaking of women. Nicole Lorre (presumably Chuck's daughter) has come up with the funniest storylines up to date: Barbarian Sublimation and Vegas Renormalization. I wonder what's she's doing on the show nowadays.

In conclusion: 11 episodes behind: 1 that was funny. No wonder I have become more and more afraid of watching the next episode. It might be funny, however the chances unfortunately are that it isn't.

Friday, December 3, 2010

V (2009) and V (1983).

Hmm, what should I say here? Okay, I was a big fan of the original series. It's one of my favorites and also likely the best scifi miniseries of all time.

So when I got the long-awaited news that there would be a remake, I had some relatively high expectations for the show. Surely these new guys in charge would know how to pull off a moderately good show, close to the the original from the 80s.

But that's not exactly what happened. We didn't get a good show. Unfortunately, we didn't even get an okay show. So what went wrong then?

I guess the biggest problem with the new show is that it doesn't have any themes or characters that are interesting.

The original was about transformation and people rising up to the challenge. It was about the visitors coming after us and slowly getting rid of our precious rights. It was about human condition and the way we act in a crisis.

The new one isn't unfortunately about any of these things. At all.

The original had interesting and memorable characters: the gung-ho journalist who wanted to get to the bottom of it, a holocaust survivor and his family, a mother willing to sell his only son to the visitors, a kid willing to betray his precious family and a heroine doctor who would become the unexpected resistance leader.

The new version doesn't have any characters like that. The FBI agent is more or less only doing her job, the priest doesn't have any clue, the kid only wants to have sex, the journalist doesn't know who the bad guys are and the rest of them are basically nobodies.

There simply aren't any transformative characters on the show. The characters in the new version serve mainly to create shortcuts to the visitors - which makes the show as lazy and unimaginable as you could ever imagine.

Furthermore, it doesn't feel like there's any kind of threat going on at all. Nobody seems to be in trouble. And if nobody's in trouble, you don't have a story.

It didn't help the new show that they spilled all the beans in the 42 minute pilot. It's mind boggling how many of those crucial plot points they spent - that the visitors aren't here for benevolent reasons and that they are lizards. (the original by the way spent half its length to get to the shocking revelation about the visitors)

The producers of the new version told it was done because most of us had already seen the original, so we knew who the visitors were and what they were up to. The logical question to that is that since we knew who they were and what they were up to, why did they even make the new series in the first place?

I personally don't think there's anything wrong about making a new series. It's just that these new guys had no idea what they were doing. All the good parts from the original are missing. None of the allegories to Nazi Germany are there. There are no themes, no values, no substance, no nothing.

I don't care what happens to the characters in the new version. I'm almost rooting for the V's to kick the crap out of the resistance. Well, almost.

Nevertheless, the original was and still is an amazing achievement in storytelling. For example, take at look at this clip. (it's really that good)