Friday, December 9, 2022

You Watch Too Much TV, You Play Too Many Games

Friday, huh? I feel a Grab Bag coming on...

Cancelled Netflix Shows

So, I saw this on NME. Depressing, right? Of those fifteen cancelled shows, I watched and enjoyed four: Raising Dion, The Imperfects, Space Force and Fate: The Winx Saga. Of the four, one was tight, well-crafted and highly professional, one a little loose around the edges but fundamentally sound and two were sloppy and chaotic but still fun. 

I thought Raising Dion wrote itself into a corner it was never going to find a way out of, although you could argue that, like Cloak and Dagger, it was another superhero show that spent two whole seasons on an origin story and then folded before the first real adventure. 

Fate: The Winx Saga was yet another supposedly dark, edgy teen-oriented reimagining of a much-loved children's show. The first season was so clunky and shambolic I was amazed it got a second. The second season was, if anything, even less believable than the first but it did seem to be developing some internal momentum that might carry it forward.

Key to both shows were likeable characters. That's the main reason I enjoyed them and stayed with them. Unfortunately, likeable doesn't sell. It may also be the reason Space Force didn't make it. That was a very well-crafted, well-written, well-acted, grown-up show, genuinely funny throughout. I suspect it was also just too amiable to generate much of a commitment from the audience. You always felt it was nice while it was playing but you wouldn't really miss it if it wasn't there. And now it's not and I don't.

Of the four shows, the only one I'm mildly annoyed to see cancelled is The Imperfects. I thought it had real promise and it certainly didn't suffer from the "too many likeable characters" problem. The opposite, if anything. Mostly, I wanted to see more of Rhys Nicholson, an astonishing screen presence of whom I had been hitherto unaware. I did a bit of googling on them after the show ended and found out they're an Australian stand-up. I really hope they take on more acting work.

Of the other eleven shows Netflix cancelled, I was thinking about watching only one, The Midnight Club. Guess I won't bother now. It's funny but when I'm considering watching something that's not brand new these days, I routinely check how many seasons it ran and if it's only one I don't even bother. Which is nuts.


I think I'm safe with this one. As I write, it's still #1 on Netflix UK. It's a major hit and even now I get some spurious "news" item about the show in my feeds pretty much daily. People just don't want to stop talking about it. I haven't heard if the second season has been commissioned yet but I assume it's a lock-in

I really liked the show, which was smart, funny, sharp and good to look at. I'm not exactly sure why it's been so well-received, other than the obvious name recognition of the title character with eighty-four years of history behind it. It didn't seem to be obviously superior to a number of other teen-inflected fantasy/horror series I've watched, particularly The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Riverdale, both of which began in a similarly grounded fashion, before spiralling into glorious insanity.

Once again, the absolute highlight of the show was the excellence of the performances. Jenny Ortega was pretty nearly perfect in the lead and Emma Myers equally brilliant as her friend and roomate Enid. I particularly enjoyed Gwendoline Christie as Principle Weems, so it was a big disappointment when... okay, no, I won't go there. I guess there may still be someone reading who hasn't watched it yet.

Probably the biggest surprise for me wasn't anything to do with the twisty plot. For the record, I worked out who the real villains were well before the end. I assume we were meant to be one step ahead of Wednesday all along. When it comes to High School P.I.s she's no Veronica Mars, that's for sure. 

No, the thing I wasn't expecting was how convicing a Morticia Catherine Zeta-Jones would make. It's a shame she was only in a couple of episodes. I hope she gets more screen time in Season Two. Luis Guzman was great as Gomez, too. He looks very much the Gomez from Charles Addams original New Yorker cartoons, although I have John Astin's suave, sophisicated take on the character from the sixties' TV series so firmly embedded in my brain, the transition took a bit of getting used to.

Wednesday the show is a gloriously female-led affair but I think it would have helped if the male romantic leads hadn't been quite so wishy-washy. It's hard to see why any of the girls would give them the time of day. As has been pointed out pretty much everywhere, there's close to zero chemistry between the would-be romantic couples, while you could power the Christmas lights of a small town off the electricity generated every time Wednesday and Enid get together. I'm totally shipping Wenclair for the next season. If Wednesday's going to break character for anything, it ought to be that.

And finally, I lied when I said Catherine Zeta-Jones performance was the biggest surprise. That had to be the scene where Wednesday first meets Eugene at the beehives. It was one of those "Wait... is that? It frickin' can't be!" moments. Moosa Mostafa, who plays Eugene, was also Nasir Roman in The Last Bus, a show I described as being like "something the Children's Film Foundation or the National Film Board of Canada might have made in the 1970s".

To see him pop up in a major U.S. show like Wednesday, in a significant supporting role no less, was positively bizarre. He was great, too, albeit playing almost exactly the same character as he played in The Last Bus. Apart from a tiny role in a Christmas movie as a background character who doesn't even merit a name in the credits, those two shows seem to be his entire career so far. I wonder if he can play anything else?

Other TV Stuff

On Amazon Prime I finished the first three seasons of Veronica Mars, every episode of which was genius. The fourth season wasn't included for some reason, so I did a little investigating of my own to find out why. That turned into a whole thing, which I'm not going to get into here except to say what kind of dimwitted network exec cancels a show like Veronica Mars, ffs?

I ended up subbing the Lionsgate channel, which used to be Starz, because that's where Season Four is playing. I already used up my free month of Starz back when I was watching Doom Patrol but luckily there was a three months at 99p a month deal going on so I took that. The second and third seasons of Doom Patrol are on there, too, so it's a steal.

And of course so far I haven't watched a single show on Lionsgate. The fourth VM season apparently feeds off the movie, which I have on DVD, so I need to watch that first but so far I haven't made the time. I'd better get on with it. The clock's ticking.

On Netflix I watched Exception, a pretty good anime Science Fiction show that ended in a way I didn't like. I'd recommend it all the same. I'm also re-watching Parks and Recreation, whose characters are nowhere near as likeable as I remembered. Might explain why it ran for seven seasons. Still funny, though.

I had to take a break from The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself, not because it isn't excellent, which it is, but because I was finding it just too intense to watch, right before I was supposed to be going to sleep. Of course, it's fatal to pause anything mid-run. Now I've fitted something else into that slot and there's no room to ease it back in. I guess I'll have to watch the rest of the season in the daylight. That's going to be weird. TV is for nighttime.

The show that replaced Bastard Son in my schedule was Wednesday and the show that's replaced Wednesday is One Of Us Is Lying. I was a little surprised there was a second season because it's based on a book, the plot of which Season One followed closely, and that book has a very definite conclusion. The showrunners have done a fine job of coming up with a way of keeping the whole conceit going, albeit somewhat at the expense of realism.

The least useful criticism of any work of fiction, however, is "Well, that would never happen." Fuck realism. All that counts is internal consistency. Nail that and we're good. I think they've managed it although it's been a close call at times. Still a couple of episodes to go and I have to say I almost want to go to bed early some nights just so I can find out what happens next.

I probably watched some other stuff but if I did it hasn't stuck. 

New Games For Next Year

Yesterday I only had one multiplayer online title to look forward to. Now I have three. 

The one I had is Nightingale. I declined to apply for the alpha/beta because of the NDA so I'm reliant on press releases but my decision not to participate has had an odd effect on my interest and involvement with the title. I'm still just as keen to play it when it arrives but since I decided not to get involved I find myself shying away from any news I see about the game. I was going to link one of the latest videos, which I haven't watched, but now it comes to it I don't even want to do that much, so I won't.

Instead, I'll link one for a game I wasn't planning on playing at all: Blue Protocol. I knew there was a hype wave building for it but it hadn't swept me along... and then I saw this morning that Amazon Games have picked it up for worldwide publishing next year.

That means I won't have to set up a load of new accounts or email addresses. Well, I hope I won't. I should just be able to use my existing Amazon credentials. It's astonishing what a psychological difference that makes. I wasn't keen and now I am.

Game looks good, too. The weirdly filmic flatness of it is intriguing. I'd like to see what it looks like from the inside. It's free, anyway, so why wouldn't I try it?

And finally, a game I had never heard of until a few hours ago but for which I have now submitted a beta application: Wayfinder. It's being developed by Airship Syndicate and the people behind Warframe, Digital Extremes and it's "a character-based, online action role playing game", which totally sounds like a thing.

I wouldn't have been particularly interested but then I looked at the promotional screenshots. Once again, that's a place I want to see from the inside. It has housing, too, and it's going to be on Steam, so there are a lot of plusses. Whether they outweigh the negatives (Seems like grouping is strongly recommended and I never really got on with Warframe) I guess I'll find out in testing - if I get in. 

If I do, I'll be sure to post about it here, always assuming I'm allowed. If I'm not then I suppose I won't bother. Testing, that is. Or I might. I'm fickle that way. Depends on the fine print in the NDA, if there is one, which you can bet I will read thoroughly. Well, skim, at least. Let's not go overboard.

That's enough for one Friday, I guess. Time I went and played some games.


  1. I have considered starting a Reddit board called "When to stop." The idea is that since 9/10 of all new shows that are any good will seemingly be cancelled after one or two seasons, when do you need to stop watching during the last season to get as much plot resolution as possible while not experiencing soem huge cliffhanger that will never be resolved.

    For example, I enjoyed Winx (it's not high art, but it' fun and the characters are likable), and found out it had been cancelled when I had two episodes left. I stopped watching when I had about eight minutes left in the final episode. All the major plots from the first two seasons have been resolved, and I can just pretend that whatever huge cliffhanger they set up after that never happened.

    I find with many of these cancelled shows, they actually do have a good overall stopping point somewhere in the last episode. You just need to know where to pretend it ended and turn the show off.

    1. You should definitely start that board. It's a great idea. I'm surprised no-one's done it before.

      I don't know how sustainable the current "Commission it then cancel it" model is going to be over the long term. I suspect we'll move into a more cautious commissioning era eventually and the riskier or more niche stuff just won't get made. Whether that would be an improvement is another matter.

  2. The Imperfects not getting a season two is probably the one from that list I most care about too. I was enjoying Space Force, but honestly, I didn't expect it would get the second season even.

    Wednesday was a heck of a lot better than I was expecting, too!

    The other one I've been watching lately is Mythic Quest -- Pete recommended it a while back, and I devoured the first two seasons in pretty short order. I forgot though that season 3 came out last month at some point, so watching that now and still so good if looking for a bit of a lighter comedy that riffs on the gaming sector. :)

    Blue Shift I'd not even heard of before, but it looks a lot (in art style, at least) like Tales of Arise. You have at least piqued my interest enough to take more of a look. :)

    1. I'd like to watch Mythic Quest but it's on Apple TV and I'm not paying yet another sub.

      The thing about shows like The Imperfects is they're good enough that I'm enthused when I hear a new season is coming but not so good that I get upset when they get cancelled. I guess it's that mid-range interest that sinks a lot of shows.

  3. About Wednesday, I really have an issue with Jenny Ortega's physique: those lips! How in seven hells would Wednesday Adams have large, puffy, blowjob lips? It completely breaks the character to me. Adult Wednesday is the right vibe, frigid, pale, dead like. Jenny Ortega's lips are anti-Wednesday Adams.

    1. I really never noticed anything unusual about Jenny Ortega's lips. The thing that stood out most about her for me is that she looks about twelve years old in nearly every shot, except from a couple of angles, when she suddenly looks like she's in her twenties. It wasn't until the episode where she has her 16th birthday that I even knew how old she was meant to be. Given that her mother may be a vampire and her father is... who knows what... the inconsistency seemed understandable.

      I do agree that Adult Wednesday Addams is a purer version of the familiar character - I love Adult Wednesday - but then she *is* an adult. Jenny Ortega is Teen Wednesday Addams. Maybe she'll look and act differently when she's ten years older.


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