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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A Good Show, A Bad Show and an I Don't Really Know Yet Show

So, while I saw bits and pieces of these shows as a child the Quest is not satisfied with such lackluster performance and I am engaged in a full, chronological rewatch on DVD to fill in the (many) blanks. Said rewatch has now seen me reach the end of Season 3 and as such the halfway point of the series as a whole; an opportune time, one might think, for a little well thought out, constructive criticism of the kind I am justly famed for. Hah!

CHILDHOOD. A time in all of our lives when we are awestruck by pretty colours and loud noises and need nothing else to entertain us; a time when our critical faculties are about as finely tuned as Channel 5 circa 1998; a time when it doesn't matter how utterly dire a show is so long as it's trippy enough to hypnotise you while your parents argue in the back yard about whose turn it is to lie to the landlord (although that may just have been me). Except that, despite what most adults think (which is odd, because weren't they children themselves once?), that's not really the case is it? I for one have some very clear memories of watching TV and thinking that it was just embarrassing, (especially in the post Tyler Butterworth days*), but by the same token I have been very pleasantly surprised to find that most of the shows which I remember as being good have in fact aged very gracefully when I've returned to them as an adult. X-Men is no exception.

Terrible animation - watch those wild gesticulations as characters get angry; I swear Wolverine is crouching to go No.2 when he's in growly accusation mode - and voice acting from the 'shout everything at the top of your lungs regardless of context' school of acting, mean that the show is VERY MUCH an acquired taste but stick with it and you are rewarded with some really rather good superhero action adventure stories that aren't afraid to tackle the big issues - Magnetos childhood as a Jew during the Holocaust and Morphs post traumatic stress are just two examples - while still remembering to be entertaining.

Now, as I confessed here, I'm no real expert on mainstream superhero comics, but even a relative philistine such as myself is going to recognise the likes of 'Days of Future Past' and 'The Phoenix Saga/Dark Phoenix'. This, coupled with onscreen acknowledgments for comic book writers on many episodes, leads me to believe that this show is likely far more faithful to the comics that spawned it than the fans would have had any cause to expect, or even hope. Which, while good for said fans, was a bit of a gamble for the producers, given that the comics in question are very long running with complex months, years, even decades long storylines behind them. To try to transfer that to the screen in a way that didn't bore the kids must have been a challenge. Luckily, a challenge they were more than up to the task of meeting.

I've gotten the impression from somewhere, I'm not sure where, that the show becomes a lot less serialised from this point on, devolving into the more standard episodic structure that you would expect from a Saturday morning cartoon of that era. I'm not sure how happy I am about that, to be honest, but we'll see how it goes; these writers have earned enough good will from me that I'm not going to write them off without a fair crack of the whip. It'll be a while before I find out though.

YES, I AM TAKING A BREAK, (the halfway point seemed as good as any) to make an attempt to get a little bit caught up on a show some of you may have heard of called Supernatural.

Currently in it's 87th season I am slightly behind in that I have only ever seen the first and if I'm honest I can't remember a thing about it. So I've started from scratch and am currently chugging my way through the first season.

It's a little early to say, but first impressions are that I'm going to enjoy it, so long as it breaks out of the anthology rut and develops a decent story arc and support cast. I'm assured that it does and indeed I've already seen some signs of it as I delve into the back half of the season so signs are positive.

I'll talk more about this show next time, when I should have finished off at least the first season.

I KNOW IT'S SLIGHTLY LESS THAN TOPICAL NOW, as the show has been off the air for a few weeks, but this blog has been inactive so now's my first chance to say it; Camelot was a proper turkey wasn't it? I talked about my first impressions of it here and to be honest I'm disappointed in those who told me it improved because it blatantly did not. It carried on in the same bland, uninspired and frankly, boring way right up to the final cringeworthy twist. (I joked about Arthur/Morgan incest when the pilot aired, mocking the shows desperate shock tactics. I didn't think they'd ever actually do it.)

While I never actively celebrate a shows cancellation - every show has it's fans and who am I to deprive them - I'm certainly not going to shed any tears over this one either. Hopefully, the talented members of the cast can look on this as a lucky escape and move on to better things quite quickly. And if I could only think of any talented members of the cast I'd name them.

That's your whack from me for this here edition of The Impossible Quest. I'll be back, hopefully next week, with an in depth look at Supernatural. Until then, Go Away (c. Charlie Brooker)