Hold on loosely

9 12 2013

I’d have a lot more respect for this petition if the signers weren’t themselves sucking so hard on the juicy fruits of information on the internet that their cheeks are caved in.

Oh, and the fact they waited until this all became public knowledge—that is, when their customers found out—makes me think this is less a righteous stand for an open and free society than profit-saving CYA.

Still, message/messenger and all that: they ain’t wrong.

~~~

And I think Brendan Kiley (riffing off David Schmader) pretty much nails it: It is funny—the people who hold the power in any given situation tend to be the ones who behave the most fearfully.

See: Wall Street & its critics; Christians in the US & non-Christians (swap out Islam/Judaism/Hinduism as befits the particular society); MRAs and feminists; ad infinitum.

My only amendment to his statement would be that the people who believe only they should hold the power in any given situation. . . : in a decent political situation, it would be understood that one’s hold on power is of necessity temporary, and thus must be held lightly and confidently, not fearfully.

~~~

Ever since Bones killed off Pelant and Booth & Brennan got married, every fucking episode includes some sort of paean to their love/relationship/perfection for each other.

Tskghk.

Bones has become McMillan & Wife.





The birds all sing as if they knew

10 11 2013

Yeah, they did it. Surprise, surprise: did anyone really think a mere church burning would stop them?

I’m talking about Brennan and Booth on Bones, of course. They got married. Of course. After numerous obstacles (because psycho-killer Pelant wasn’t enough of one) they married in a white tent, with Cindy Lauper singing “At Last.” Of course.

It wasn’t terrible, as these things go, but utterly entirely predictably predictable. I mean, why introduce the former-priest pal-o’-Booth at the beginning of the season unless he’d be the one to perform the ceremony?

Oh, about that: If these two were so tight, why didn’t we meet Mister Former Priest Bartender before this? And where were Jared and Russ? Did these brothers not even merit a mention?

Bitch bitch bitch, I know. I’m not hate-watching Bones—really! I’m not!—but it is true that I’m grumpy after almost every episode. Why am I even bothering?

One, even though it’s nowhere near as good as it was in the first 4 or 5 seasons, it’s still not bad. The plots have gotten pro forma, but the writing is still pretty good.

Two, I like the characters. Hodgins is my favorite, and I like his relationship with Angela (even if he is a bit too moony), and I like Cam quite a bit. Booth & Brennan may both be a bit stale, and Caroline has been softened too much, but she still gets some good zingers.

Sweets is all right, still slightly annoying, and Daisy is still very annoying—which kinda endears her to me. The rest of the interns are, whatever, interns, and it seems as if they dropped Mr. Southern Gothic from the line-up, which is fine with me. (I liked the actor just fine, but Edgar-Allan-Poe they overheated the character’s backstory.)

Three come Friday night I am not at all ambitious, so sitting down to watch Bones, even in its exhausted state, works for me. I’m mildly entertained, which most Fridays is enough.

That last may be the most important reason I’m still watching the show. There are other shows I will theoretically check out (Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Top of the Lake, The Bridge, Misfits), but I’m just really. . . lazy when it comes to getting to know a new cast & set of storylines.

Anyway, I keep thinking This season will be the last, so the coda-reason is that I want to be there not just at the end, but through the end.

If it ever ends. *Sigh*





Better run run, run run run away

20 10 2013

Pelant is dead. Finally.

The ending was, I dunno, anti-climactic? thin? underdeveloped and over-determined? Yeah, all of those—but at least it’s an end.

I was going to skip this episode of Bones, then decided just to skip ahead to see if Pelant got his or got away yet again. Only after I saw that he’d been shot dead did I go back and watch the entire mediocre episode.

Should I rant yet again on what a bullshit bad guy Pelant was? That turning him into the man who was both nowhere and everywhere, a super-evil super-genius was mechanistic and boring? Oh, and turning him into yet another Brennan-obsessive (in an attempt to add psychological depth to his non-character?) just made me miss the far more human, and humanly terrible, Howard Epps?

Maybe not, tho’ I will offer a mini-bitch of “enough with the geniuses”—they’ve been on my bad side all week.

The plot, such as it was, did introduce the possibility of a New Bad Guy, or, as Pelant suggested, Bad Broad. What a breakthrough: from mastermind male serial killer to master (or mistress?) -mind female serial killer!

Whatever. However it plays out, it’d be nice if the producers don’t cock it up the way they did with Pelant.





And lay all your lazybones down

18 05 2013

I’m not gonna talk about the final episode of Bones.

Why not? Because I didn’t watch it.

Oh, sure, I skimmed through it, and watched the last few minutes, but I hate this latest psycho and I hate this storyline and I triple-hate the goddamned wrench-everything-out-of-joint cliffhanger.

Pelant, that’s the psycho killer’s name. Had to look it up. He’s horrible.

Yeah, I know: psycho killer. But I mean, he’s horrible as the resident psycho because he’s like goddamned Freddie from the Friday the 13th pics or, even more, like Stefano DiMera from Days of Our Lives, springing back into the picture, just because.

(I was actually a devoted As the World Turns fan for a number of years back in the day, but I watched enough Days to know the score. And, of course, DiMera kept returning, so it wasn’t hard to remember him as an über bad guy.)

And that, precisely, is the problem with Pelant: he’s an über bad guy. He’s a computer genius who’s able to kill a bunch of people and get away with it. He frames Brennan for murder, and while Team Jefferson ends up proving her innocence, Pelant is somehow able to pass himself off as an Egyptian (!) citizen and get released from custody and into the arms of Egyptian officials, easy-peasy.

Then he returns (of course), drugs Hodgins and Angela and threatens their baby, then finds a job at a security firm, from where he steals all of Hodgin’s money (by almost blowing up an Afghan school for girls—don’t ask), kills more people, escapes from this high-security joint, and then kills a vet in order to . . . oh, christ, am I really recounting this?

Then he comes back to menace Team Jefferson and inflict psychological torture by splitting up Brennan and Booth.

Why not just have the guy go BwwaaHAHAHAHAH! I have you in my evil clutches now!

Seriously.

Bones has had serial bad guys before: Howard Epps over seasons 1 & 2, the Widow’s Son in 3 & 4, (and the Gravedigger! I forgot about the Gravedigger, across seasons 2-5) and then the boring sniper guy in season 6, and now this guy, nerdy superkiller Pelant.

You’d think that it would be hard to top a ritualistic cannibalistic serial killer in the no-fucking-way department, but at least in that theme, they allowed for the requisite amount of humor, and, in the end, they didn’t bother dignifying the guy with a name. He was just some creepy dude who Booth shot and killed, the end.

Brennan once referred to Epps as a “creepy serial killer” (actually, in explaining why she broke his wrist, she said something along the lines of “he touched me with his creepy serial killer hands”), and that about sums it up. He’s introduced as a guy about to be put to death who  insists upon his innocence; by the end up the episode it’s clear that he’s played the team and that he’s even worse than first thought.

One of the things I really liked about this storyline was that, in the episode in which Epps escapes from jail and comes after the Jeffersonian team (of course!), his constant invocations of his genius are undercut. At one point Zack reminds Booth that Epps isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.

Yes, exactly: Epps might be very smart, but he ain’t no superman.

That’s what I’ve been missing in this whole stupid Pelant storyline: cutting him down to size. If he’s just going to pop back up after every blow, then why bother even making him a human being? He’s a cartoon psychopath, an avatar of evil, and utterly uninteresting for his demon meep meep ways: there’s no hook, no dimensions, just the flat sketch of a none-too-clever plot device.

Bones will be back next season—have to pull ‘em back from that cliff!—and I’ll probably watch it. But where I once used to enjoy the show, now I’m just enduring it.





Grab my rack of bones

4 05 2013

Yeah, yeah, another bitchfest about Bones.

I got nicked up over at TNC’s joint last week for writing that I’d hoped this was the last season, but, dangnabbit, that’s my ‘pinion and I’m stickin’ to it!

Consider last week’s episode (spoiler alerts blah blah): Brennan stuck a man in the neck with a syringe he thought was full of a mutated RNA-virus/botulism mix in order to, ah, motivate him to reveal the whereabouts of an antidote which could save Arastoo, who had pricked himself. . . really, does it matter?

Small thing first: It’s gotten to the point in Bones that if they bring a body into the lab full of terrifying microbes you know someone’s gonna get it. It didn’t used to be this way—utterly predictable—but there you go.

BIG THING: Brennan fucking stuck a man in the neck with a syringe of what he thought was full of killer germs! And nobody said anything!

Oh, wait, there were a few gasps in the room, and afterward Mr. CDC Man told Booth how lucky he was to have Brennan and Booth agreed and as they were walking out Brennan said You know I didn’t really inject him with a killer bug and Booth said I know and Brennan said But I would have and Booth said I know and he smiled and they decided to go out to and drink champagne!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee………………………….WHAT?!

She fucking assaulted a man and inflicted psychological torture on him and. . . that’s cool? Not arrested? Not fired? Not even the slightest bit chagrined because, hey, they saved Arastoo and got the bad guy so it was all good?

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. NO.

They used to give a shit about crossing lines on Bones. Yeah, I know, t.v. show, fiction, procedural, what did I expect, but Booth, at least, used to hold the line against shit like this because he knew that the lines mattered. (Brennan was always a more mixed case: on the one hand she cared about torture and genocide and on the other she did wanted to do what wanted to do and that was that.) But even if our plucky lil’ Jeffersonian gang was happy for the result—yay! Arastoo lives!—you’d think there’d be at least some blowback.

Nope.

Maybe there will be in later episodes, although I doubt it; in the meantime: champagne!





And it’s gone, gone, gone

23 02 2013

Stick a fork in it already.

Bones done gone jumped the shark.

Two cliched metaphors: too much? No, not really; quite apt, actually.

Dr. Temperance Brennan has held to her atheism throughout the entire run of Bones, even as the show’s creators have given space for Booth’s religious beliefs and various other supernatural phenomenon (i.e., the episodes with Cindy Lauper’s character Avalon).

I don’t particularly mind those flights into fancy, if only because they represent the beliefs of the flight-y characters. These representations can be done well (the first Avalon appearance) or not so well (the second Avalon appearance), and they can, as with Booth’s dead comrade’s appearance at the end of a Gravedigger episode, come off as both playful and poignant.

But the key has been that the show allows for both belief and unbelief. Even if Brennan is characterized as arrogantly rational, they’ve allowed her to score real points against supernaturalism, and to have some fun doing so. (See, for example, the episode “The He in the She” in which she comments on the fashion choices of the Pope.) The viewers are offered a menu without being prodded into picking a particular item.

That, along with everything else, has been slowly disintegrating in the past two seasons (again, season 6 isn’t worth mentioning), but last night [actually, last week's episode, the latest one free on Hulu] it all fell apart.

First, there was the cliched Brennan-gets-shot-almost-dies bit. Yes, the show has put its characters in mortal danger before, but usually in service to some larger storyline. Last night, the reason why Brennan got shot was a sideline: the whole point was for Brennan to die so that—wait for it—she could experience an afterlife. With her dead mother.

Awww, shit, really?

At first, Brennan dismisses the experience as a neurochemical response to trauma, but by the end the game is given away: Brennan’s mother tells her something  no one else would know, a telling confirmed upon Brennan’s waking.

Superficially, this is akin to the dead soldier’s appearance at the end of that Gravedigger episode, but as the soldier was a manifestation of Booth’s consciousness—and that Brennan didn’t know who he was—it worked. Belief and unbelief bumped into one another, and both went on their way.

This time, however, we were pointed on the way, and whether or not Brennan tries to make sense of this latest experience—which, if handled intelligently (and which, given the writing of late, I doubt will be), could be intriguing as a character study, that tension between the natural and the supernatural went slack.

I’m one of those people who aren’t bothered by spoilers, and who like to re-watch old shows. I don’t know why I enjoy watching things I’ve seen before—there’s a kind of comfort in it, I guess—but having seen something three times in no way interferes with my desire, after some lapse of time, to see it a fourth.

Thus, I watch and re-watch old episodes of Bones. In fact, last night, after having watched the latest free episode on Hulu, I went back and watched a couple of old shows on Netflix. There were from the third season.

I don’t know that I’ve re-watched any episodes from season 7, and when season 8 hit Netflix, I might pass those by, as well. It’s not that the show is terrible, it’s just that it’s not what it was. It’s gone flat.

And last night? It pancaked after flipping over that shark.





The thrill is gone

6 01 2013

Bones should have ended awhile ago.

No, this isn’t a complaint about the eighth season—it’s like the seventh season, fine, not like the wretched sixth—but more an observation about exhaustion.

The show is tired, and that tiredness shows. The writers are practically shouting that Angela is going to leave the Jeffersonian, and the whole Cam-Aristoo thing? Hmpf.

The main problem, of course, is that Booth and Brennan have settled into domesticity with one another, and as much work-chemistry as the two had in the first five seasons, they have no home-chemistry. In fact, their lack of a home fire burning is dampening their work-mojo.

(No, I don’t hate that they’re a couple, although I would have preferred that they not be. I also think it would have been better, from a dramatic perspective, if they wanted to go with the whole Brennan-Booth-baby thing, to have had them either tried and failed to make a go as a couple, or have tried simply to figure out how to raise their kid together without the two of them getting together. But, y’know, they didn’t ask me.)

I still like all of the characters, and the plots, hey, the plots are fine, but the frisson has fizzled. There was an unpredictability in the early seasons, an unpredictability predicated in large part of the audience’s ignorance of the characters. As we got to know them, we settled into a kind of comfort with them, which is in and of itself not necessarily a problem.

But it did become one for the writers. Whereas before there was a sense of what if with the characters—a what-ifness heightened by or illuminated by the plots—now there is only a kind of here-we-go-again sensibility, i.e., the comfort with the characters’ quirks has deliquesced into laziness.

It was, I think, in reaction to the comfort that wrecked season 6:  the plots frantically tried to zap some zip back into the characters, so much so that I, as a viewer, thought, Shit, they’d never do that.

Consider the interns on an improvement kick: Clark tried to be more open, and Fischer attempted to find peace and happiness. Now, I’m not against change—trying to do a bit of that, m’self—but these attempts came out of nowhere and, more importantly, went nowhere.

And Brennan, well, Brennan they twisted around most of all, having her go back to patterns she’d dropped in the first or second season, upping her coldness factor and downplaying the curiosity that always took the edge off her clinical approach, and, worst of all, treating her emotions less as a dimension of herself with which she was not wholly comfortable than as something which occurred outside of her, afflicting her.

Example? There was an episode late in season six which involved a runaway deaf girl murder suspect. (Yeah, I know, but that’s part of the territory of police procedurals.) Brennan is just nasty to this girl, nasty in a way that she rarely was with any other suspect, and certainly more than she had ever been to any troubled kid. It took Sweets to remind Brennan of her own fraught childhood—something which never would have been necessary in the preceding (or succeeding) seasons.

Anyway, it seems in the current and last season that the producers figured out how they erred in season six, and returned us to the comfort the show had attained in season five. Clark is back to uptight, Fischer is back to dour, and while I still miss Vincent Nigel-Murray, the crew is complete.

Alas, completeness is the death of drama.

I still watch Bones, and will watch through to the end of the season. I just hope that this is the last.





Dese bones gonna rise again (redux)

25 11 2011

I was opposed to Brennan and Booth having a romantic relationship.

Yes, they had chemistry and affection, but, dangnabbit, I’d like to see a good working relationship between two people who have chemistry and affection simply remain a good working relationship.

Colleagues: cool; friends, fantastic. But lovers? Isn’t that a bit. . . lame?

Why does a spark always have to flare out into romance? Sure, Diane and Sam were always going to get together on Cheers, but that was the set-up from the outset. And, okay, some might argue that Booth and Brennan’s bedding was built into the base of Bones—but not me!

No: I liked that they became friends, confidantes, but I always thought they were linked through the work. I wanted the relationship to remain cemented in the work. I didn’t want the series to degrade into a I love B. soap opera, about a mismatched pair of misfits maundering into true love.

Please.

(As an aside, this was why I found ER less and less compelling over the years. Yes, it was a nighttime soap, but the drama coursed through the patients, the medicine; once the work was sidelined, it was just a nighttime soap, nothing more.)

The sixth season gave me plenty of reason to despair of this show: the writing was flat, the eccentricities of the interns were flattened, storylines were forced, and the work was an afterthought. Still, even mediocre Bones was better than most t.v., so while I wasn’t sure if I would continue to follow the show, I thought I should at least check out a few episodes of the new season.

Cue the music and sunrise: It’s good again! Third or fourth season good! The scriptwriters have resharpened their metaphoric pens, the dialogue pops, the humor is back, and I even rejoiced in Daisy’s mega-annoyingness. (She was toned down last season, which made her boring and annoying; amped back up, she’s amusing and annoying.) Most importantly, they started the new season with Brennan and Booth already mid-adjustment to her pregnancy and their romance: instead of having to sit through all the cloying new relationship nonsense, we get them (back) in their comfortable repartee, with the romance serving as an irritant rather than a soporific.

I still would have liked them to have remained spark-y friends, but at least the spark is back.





Dese bones gonna rise again

31 05 2011

This was not the best season of Bones.

Which is to say: this was the worst season of Bones. Not a single episode was as good as previous episodes, and while there were no truly terrible episodes, the best it got was only “all right”.

Alyssa Rosenberg argued on Matt Yglesias’s blog (now her own, at ThinkProgress) that the problem was with the overarching theme (the sniper), namely, that is was weak and centered on a boring character. I think she has a point: Although the first season didn’t have an overarching theme, two were set up for the following seasons, one regarding Brennan’s family and another with the serial killer Howard Epps.

Now, I kinda think the whole sexual-sadist-serial killer is played out (yeah, I’m looking at you, CSI, with the truly boring Nate Haskell), but they undercut the superman-superevil bad guy schtick deliberately: Howard Epps thought he was a genius but, as Zack pointed out, he really wasn’t as smart as he claimed to be.

Season two was backboned by Brennan’s backstory, with her plastic-surgeried criminal father dipping into and out of a number of episodes. (“Judas on a Pole”, which introduces him, also includes a great cover of Kate Bush’s “Running up that hill”.) It also introduced the Gravedigger, a nasty piece of work who appeared again in single episodes in seasons 3, 4, 5, and 6.

The Gormogon thing (season 3) was weird, and the Zack angle on that was weird, but it was also satisfying: so over-the-tops nuts (ritualistic cannibalism of secret society members) that there was a certain brio to the writing. Everybody seemed to be having a good time—well, you know what I mean.

Season 4 didn’t have any major arcs, save, perhaps, the Angela-Hodgins fallout, as well as an somewhat underdeveloped bit about Booth’s brain. (It didn’t really cohere, but that it didn’t really cohere didn’t really matter.) Oh, and the introduction to a rotating cast of interns/assistants. Anyway, it had a fine, fine, season ender.

Too much about the Booth/Brennan relationship interfered with season 5, but there were still some very good stand-alone episodes, as there were in each of the preceding seasons. I’m one of those who did NOT want Booth and Brennan to get together—yes, adults who have chemistry may nonetheless desist from dating—but I was even more annoyed at how forced those episodes were. Stephen Fry, who brought back his utterly charming character Gordon Wyatt, then ruined the moment by pushing (against character) for a romantic relationship. Brennan’s father talked about it, Angela talked about it, Booth and Brennan separately brooded about it—blech, it was all too much.

Yeah, we get it: they have chemistry, but enough already! Anyway, the Angela-Hodgins arc was more interesting.

Still, there was an energy and wit running through these seasons, a humor and affection comingled with the murder and mayhem, such that even amidst the utter unreality of the television crime procedural, you got the sense that these were real people doing real work.

The people mattered, the work mattered: a fine balance.

This year, however, that was thrown off. Again, I think Rosenberg may be onto something about the boring sniper arc, but I think the greater problem was that the balance got thrown off. The crimes were almost beside the point, or existed only to drive the personal plot-lines; thus the play of earlier seasons was missing, as the writers sought to reduce the looseness and otherwise force into a pre-exising cutout every damned storyline. This not only took away much of the wit of the dialogue, it also signaled a certain impatience with the characters.

So, for example, Sweets entertains doubts about his expertise and has those doubts resolved all in a single episode; both the doubts and the resolution were, erm, doubtful. (And Miss Julian opened up to Sweets, which, frankly, was not believable.) Brennan’s father was brought in for a couple of completely superfluous scenes, and there were bits about Cam and about Angela’s pregnancy (guess, no, really, just guess how the season ended), but it was all rather listless.

And having a number of the interns each undergo a character change? Please. Give me back my uptight Clark. (f only they could give back my favorite intern, whose death scene was devastating.)

It was never truly awful and, really, only a few episodes were bad, but it was such a letdown. I’ll watch again next year (even though I was not particularly happy with the last episode set-up for the new season), but I hope this season was a lapse rather than a harbinger.

I did, however, watch a truly awful show this year, even after swearing off it. Yes, I moaned my way through yet another season of CSI-New York. Ye gads. They brought in Sela Ward to replace Melina Kanakaredes, and I thought, Oh, well, I like Sela Ward.

I might still like Sela Ward, but her character, Jo? Do. Not. Like.

This show just got sappier and more moralistic as it went along. God, I can’t even be bothered to go through everything that was wrong with this show because everything was wrong.

The only good thing: it may finally have gotten so bad that even I will look away.





Oh yes they call him the streak

17 06 2010

I tend to pile up my passions.

This tendency has moderated—somewhat—with age, but when I was younger, if I liked a band, I bought all of their albums; an author, all of her books; an actor, all of his shows. I was never particularly this way with food (which probably spared me an eating disorder), but I often could never figure out what was too far until I was too far gone.

There are problems with this approach, of course, which is why I try to keep tabs on myself. But that doesn’t always work.

See: Netflix.

It’s not the DVDs which are sucking me in, but the reason I thought that a  Netflix subscription made a kind of fiscal sense: the streaming.

That fucking streaming. I had been more-or-less content to watch Buffy as it became available on Hulu, but when all episodes were unleashed on Netflix. . . just call it the Lost Weekend. Or two. Or three.

I liked Angel well enough, too, and hey, there it is! Firefly! And then someone suggested MI-5 and another weekend gone. (I did end up burning out on MI-5, but I’ll probably dip—ha!—plunge back in later.)

Now it’s Bones. I had watched the first season back when I had a t.v., and I happened to have caught a couple of episodes from season 5 on Hulu. But, yes, seasons 1-4 are on Netflix.

Which means my ass has been in front of my external monitor watching Brennan and Booth bicker over bodies.

And I got shit to do!

Christ.








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