Posted by: Brian Hibbs on May 25, 2010
Let’s start with TV!
Hm, I think I’m going to go on and on and on, so let’s hide it behind a jump to keep the “front page” cleanish…
LOST: “The End”:
So, yeah, I was pretty unhappy with the end of LOST.
It’s not that every metaphysical question didn’t get answered — I no more needed to know what the island “was” that I needed to know what was in Marcus’ briefcase in PULP FICTION. A McGuffin can certainly be a McGuffin. I’m cool with, say, not telling us how the OtherMother got on the island or shit like that, because that’s sort of beyond the point.
But there were a few mysteries that needed to be revealed in a lot clearer than they were — mysteries central to previous seasons like “what was up with Fertility on the Island?” or “Why was Walt ‘special’ and what did that mean anyhow?” and “Yeah, while I get that Dharma was ‘exploring the island’ or whatever, why did they build the things they did in the manner in which they did?” — I’m thinking of shit like the 108 minute timer flipping over to hieroglyphics at the end. WHY did that kind of shit happen? because those aren’t Mysteries of God, they are Mysteries of Men.
I’m also OK with some relatively ambiguous things that can spawn further questions — like given that Jack was sprawled out like (the unnamed bother) after encountering The Light, are we meant to infer that he becomes the new “smokey”?, that kind of thing. I like things that can make us ask questions about what it meant.
But I don’t like having my time wasted; and I don’t like sloppiness.
I commented several times this season to Matt in our weekly deconstructions at the store that I thought LOST was having a lot of problems this year with Needing a Second Draft. Individual scenes of dialogue, or conceptual underpinnings that were *almost* “there”, but were off for one reason or another. One example might be Sun and Jin’s final scene — where neither of them even mention their child! A Second Draft would have helped immeasurably in fixing those kinds of glaring gaffes.
Ultimately this season was pretty half-baked — close to half the run time of the season was devoted to the flashes to what we now know was (presumably far “future”) Limbo, and it seemed like the first third of the year was devoted to such not-importants as The Temple and a bunch of characters who didn’t actually have anything to do with the conclusion (including Widmore’s people — did Jacob have any point in getting them to the island, except to be slaughtered?)!
Ugh, and all of the slow-motion flashbacks in the finale — by the second or third one I was horribly, horrifically sick of them, and they kept coming and coming between it seemed like every character, ugh!
When I watch a “mystery based” show, I want the “mystery” to be “fair” — no, I’m probably not wired to solve it myself, but when there’s an explanation, I want it to make sense, for me to go “Hah, yeah, right, that’s perfect!”
But now I no longer think that TV can actually do that kind of novelistic twisty storytelling. I’ve been burned twice now in the conclusion — and that’s not counting the various shows along the way that started off, but never actually made it to the “conclusion” due to cancellation — between this and BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA, and I’ll be damned if I’ll sit for it a third time.
Some people have said “Well, it’s really about the characters!”, which makes this ending even more kind of weak and maudlin — like how is there any sacrifice or loss from Sun & Jin if they all go off happily ever after with everyone else?
Emotionally, the ending “worked”, but not in the context of the shape of the season — frankly, I think 2.5 hours of Nothing-But-Limbo *could* very well have worked as the Finale, and probably would have blown people’s minds incredibly, but the long-slow build-up to Limbo all season long wasn’t “playing fair” with the concepts of the show.
Here’s the thing: The show wasn’t suddenly canceled. They knew TWO YEARS (or was it three?) in advance that the ending was coming, and exactly when, so to take that kind of a weird non-sequitur swerve in the last season is not only cheap, but it’s a frickin’ cop-out.
I wanted explanation — take “the rules” that Jacob and Smokey were operating under. How did that work? By this I mean: how was it that Jacob could, seemingly, freely leave the island, but Smokey couldn’t? How could Jacob seemingly deflect the destinies of scores of people with a simple touch? When Jack becomes “just like me”, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of a importation of knowledge or power — Jack is meandering around the island without any real clue, just guesses, about what is going on.
Why isn’t there any conversation about what a horrific douche bag Jacob was? I mean, as I read it, he’s brought at least one plane full of people (and, it is implied many many more) to the island, mostly to die in horrible and unhelpful ways. He’s clearly lied to his most faithful lieutenants — Richard and that Ilana chick, not to mention Locke. If Smokey had been forced to “stay in Christian’s Body” how would have the ended parsed any differently? And, really, wouldn’t it have been kind of thematically better with Jack’s Daddy issues that would have happened? Jacob was pretty much wrong about everything — in fact, Smokey HAD to manipulate the Losties to “turn off” the “Vending Machine” so that he COULD be defeated. That’s pretty much the opposite of what Jacob was saying all along, isn’t it?
I didn’t actually think that they’d “get it right” in the end, but at least they could have tried a LITTLE harder — and it really wouldn’t have taken much. 15-20 minutes of exposition, maybe? Though, apparently there’s going to be an “extra” 15-20 minutes on the DVD, which, sort of, pisses me off more than almost anything else — that’s a real “double dip” “FUCK YOU” to people who have already invested their time into this series.
But, like I said, I didn’t really think they’d resolve it all in the end — it was clear from the first couple of years that they were making shit up as they went along, and it is human nature to try to impose order on an irrational world. At least it wasn’t QUITE as bad as BATTLESTAR where EVERY EPISODE said “they had a plan”, and that “plan” turned out to be “A Wizard Did It”. At least LOST never *promised* us some sort of rational resolution; we just inferred it.
I resent that 120-ish hours of my life were “wasted” with this show. While I “enjoyed” the ride, that enjoyment as predicated on it meaning something, anything, and in the end, it didn’t.
LOST was, as the Bard would put it, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
And that makes it CRAP, sorry.
Because A Wizard Did It.
What about comics, then?
Some quick and nasty thoughts on recent stuff (because I seem to have shot most of my wad above)
From last week:
AGE OF HEROES #1 and ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1: Mostly these seem to me to be Blatant Cash Grabs trading off to whatever Good Will you might possibly have to SIEGE or the AVENGERS relaunches (do you have any?) — AGE OF HEROES is sort of 2/3rds CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE, focusing on DOCTOR VOODOO and CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13, if you were desperate for some sort of Coda to those two series, with a one-page filler Spidey story and what I thought was a really misguided misfire of a JJJ tale — JJJ isn’t a power-mad opportunist, is he? I always thought he’d do ANYthing to sell papers, but not because he wanted to exploit tragedy. ENTER THE HEROIC AGE is a semi “issue #0” intro to the new Status Quos of ATLAS, THUNDERBOLTS, AVENGERS ACADEMY and so on.
Neither one was bad, per se, but at $4 a throw, I need more than “not bad” — and these were pretty EH
ATLAS #1: I really kind of don’t get Marvel. In the last 16 months this will make the FOURTH try with a new #1 to get people to buy into ATLAS. What’s funny is that issue of WHAT IF? with the “50s Avengers”, and being one of the very few “What If?” stories that actually happened, is one of my favorites, but trying to fit these characters into the modern age has been a very awkward fit. But, it seems clear to me that the audience really isn’t that interested in these characters, and I wouldn’t say that it seems logical that they have any real spin-off potential (ie, movies, rides, whatever). So why keep trying? And MORE IMPORTANTLY, why keep trying four times in 16 months? Why keep launching books that are almost certainly going to get canceled before issue #12? All they’re doing is to make people more skittish about trying new books… This was OK, at best.
AVENGERS #1: It suffers from the usual Bendis-isms, and I don’t think JRJR is the best suited artist for “big brightly colored action”, but I’m a little tickled with the “old school” nature of this book — it’s refreshing after the last 5-7 years to actually read an Avengers comic where they’re heroes being heroic above board. Solidly OK, I guess.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1: I dunno. I was a massive Levitz Legion fan, but it’s almost like too much has passed for me to re-engage with these characters as they were back then. I’m more than willing to give it a couple of issues, however (though I’m utterly underwhelmed by the idea of TWO LSH books running side-by-side — it would have been smarter to have put ADVENTURE on hiatus for a while to confirm this redo is “working”, but what do us retailers know?). I also think DC was dunderheadly stupid to have not to attached a LSH ring to this comic.
Really my biggest problem with this book is the art — it’s pretty “DC House Style”, and I think LSH either needs to look super-clean and super-sleek (Give me Chris Sprouse, and I probably would have loved this), or super-hyper detailed (Can you imagine Ryp drawing LSH? That would be keen…), and, instead, it is just kind of… there. I don’t know, I’m going to go with a very low GOOD, but that my be my nostalgia talking more than anything else…
ZATANNA #1: Hey, nice, pretty, and reasonably fun. Z is maybe a touch too insanely powerful and in control, but I can totally see following this book to see where it might lead. My biggest complaint? Petty, but it feels like “movie” San Francisco, rather than the real one. That’s just cuz I live here. Anyway, i thought it was pretty GOOD.
From two weeks ago:
HULK #22: just under 2 years worth of issues to get to the reveal, sigh. But riddle me this: where does the mustache go when he’s hulked-out? EH.
TITANS VILLAINS FOR HIRE SPECIAL #1: Jesus, fuck, what a horrible comic book. I expect my TITANS sales to drop to subs-only within 3 months now. Who wants to read about these characters? And who wants the kind of bullshit hacked out death that appears here? Completely CRAP.
I’m hoping I’m back up to speed tomorrow, and I’ll start in on THIS week’s books…
As always, what did YOU think?