Monday, May 22, 2023

That Monday Friday Grab Bag Post

I had an intoductory paragraph but it sucked so let's just go.

It's Over

I was pretty darned annoyed to come across this in my feeds last week. I mean, I was glad for the information and all... I'm not shooting the messenger.... It's just I was irritated to find a bunch of shows I've been watching aren't going to get made any more.

The full list of cancellations across all platforms totals fifty-eight, of which just six are coming to a natural conclusion. All the rest are flat-out cancelled. Four of those were favorites of mine and all of them had ongoing storylines that now - I assume - won't resolve:

  • Dead End: Paranormal Park (Two Seasons)
  • Doom Patrol (Four Seasons)
  • Titans (Four Seasons)
  • Lockwood & Co. (One Season)

The biggest disappoint there for me, personally, is Dead End: Paranormal Park, which I felt had years left in it. Animations tend to last longer than live action (Cite your source. Ed.) so two seasons is a really harsh cut-off. Gonna miss Courtney. Not gonna lie.

It's still better than Lockwood & Co.'s dismal single season. That was a shock. It seemed like it was quite a big deal at the time. We sold a lot of the books. People were all over it in the shop for a couple of weeks. The original print series was only five books, though, all of which they seem to have used for the one TV series. Since the last of the books came out over five years ago, maybe there just isn't any more to adapt, not that that ever stopped anyone when there was money to be made.

Titans and Doom Patrol I'm not all that surprised about or bothered by, partly because four seasons isn't a bad run but mostly because there's still a season of each of them that I haven't managed to see yet. That in itself raises another well-covered issue, namely will any of these shows continue to exist in any form once the streaming platforms are done with them? 

Probably, at least in the case of the superhero shows, which have a built-in fanbase willing to buy hard copies. Seasons one to three of both Titans and Doom Patrol are available on DVD/Blu-Ray and Season Four of Doom Patrol is already confirmed for disc release later in the year. No word on Titans so far. I'd buy a box set of the full run of both of them if there are any. Or rather I'd put it on my wishlist and hope someone buys it for me.

On the positive side, Disenchantment doesn't appear on that list. According to a tweet from showrunner Josh Weinstein that I found via Reddit, the fifth season is complete and in post-production.  The doubt seems to be over whether Netflix wants to buy it or not but if they don't I'm sure someone else will. I guess it's in streaming limbo until then but better that than in the dumpster. 

Upload is in a similar situation, with the third season complete but not in the schedule yet. Dogs in Space is confirmed for a third season, due in September. Yay! Lower Decks, the only Star Trek show I can honestly say I've ever really, unironically enjoyed, is also confirmed for later this year. There's also going to be a live action/animated crossover with the other new Trek show, Strange New Worlds, which makes me a little curious to try that one as well, before it happens.

All in all, though, I'm underwhelmed by the current state of streaming TV. I'm struggling to find any new shows I'm interested enough even to try on the two platforms I'm paying for and even on the other platforms it's mostly the back-catalog of stuff I haven't already seen that makes them look appealing. I wouldn't expect a whole lot from them in the future, either.

It's not necessarily the fault of the producers, of course. As always, the capacity of the consumer to consume outruns that of the producer to produce. Which brings me to

Tools You Can Trust

Wilhelm has an excellent post up, the ostensible purpose of which is to continue his probing of the capacity of the three front-runners in the Generative AI stakes to come up with meaningful answers to simple questions, but in which he also engages in a lengthy peroration about the implications, suppositions and possibilities of the technology in general and comes to a number of conclusions with which I wholeheartedly agree. 

Blimey, that was a complicated sentence. Get an AI to write one of those, why don't you? Well, alright then, I will!

That's told me. Maybe I should just run every post through Bard before I publish it.

The gist of Wilhelm's argument, if I may rephrase it in my own words, is that all human creativity is mostly rearranging the dots and commas, so to complain that, when an AI does it, it's wrong in some existential sense is, at best, disingenuous. If everything had to be wholly original we'd have pretty much no popular culture whatsoever and precious little high art, either. 

This, by the way, is one of the largely unappreciated reasons why Jane Austen is so important. All the frocks and teacups and buff men wading through lakes with their shirts off (Not in the original text, by the way...) have tended to obscure the fact that she perfected a significant number of the mechanics by which the novel as we know it has sustained itself and prospered for a couple of hundred years.

Even literary geniuses like Austen or Shakespeare, didn't often come up with brand-new ideas all of their own. They borrowed from and iterated on the works of others. That's what AIs are doing now and they're about as good at it as you might expect a three or four year old to be. Just wait until they hit adolescence.

Some people find these kinds of step-changes threatening, others thrilling. Some just see them as another tool in the box.  Kamille, speaking to NME after her recent Ivor Novello Award win, when asked about the current spate of AI-generated covers, said “I find it so interesting hearing a voice on a song that you never would have heard them on. I think it’s opened people’s eyes to the scope of things that they could try as artists."

She went on to say "I definitely understand where it could be a really helpful tool. Like you’re stuck on a melody or a lyric. If you want to use it, use it". That's a good perspective, to which I'd only add "and don't let it use you."

Endless Development?

In the comments to last Friday's post, Yeebo mentioned a game I'd forgotten about - The Endless Forest. I played that one, very briefly, in as far as you could "play" it, and also wrote about it, once, all the way back in 2013. At the time I suggested that, while it would never be the kind of game I logged into every day, I hoped it might be one I'd find myself playing "on a whim, once in a while... for many years to come."

Needless to say, I never logged in again. Or maybe I did and I've forgotten. If so, I didn't feel the need to write anything more about the experience. 

Having been reminded of the game's existence, I was curious to know if it was still running. As is my habit nowadays, first I asked Bard, who told me that yes it most definitely was and I could play it on Steam. I asked Bard the same question today and this time it told me I could download the game from the Tale of Tales website. 

One of these claims is true. The other is not entirely false. 

You can download and play the game here. I just did. It takes a matter of seconds and there's no registration process. It looks just like I remember it. 

From the Tales of Tales home page, however, you can click a link that will take you to "The third beta version of the remake of The Endless Forest". There you will learn that "With any luck this will be the final closed beta version of the remake of The Endless Forest."

That version is only available to people who backed the Indiegogo campaign that began in 2016, details of which you can read about on the Steam page here. That page has a link to the campaign itself but if you click it you get this:

I imagine that's because the actual campaign ended years ago but I didn't take the risk of finding out for sure. Either way, it looks as though the project went ahead and now, six years later, is very nearly complete. Presumably, when the final closed beta concludes, there'll be either an open beta or a launch of some kind. Maybe then it really will be playable through Steam.

Oh, Mandy (you kissed me and stopped me from shaking.)

And finally, because I always have a new tune to hand, let's finish with something from Mandy, Indiana. They have a new album out and Pitchfork loves it. I like what I've heard of it so far, too, but the latest video is a bit... disturbing. Don't say you weren't warned.

Drag (Crashed) - Mandy, Indiana

At least no-one's throwing food over anyone else. Or themselves. That's something, I guess.


  1. That's a big list of canceled series. I'm about ready to just throw in the towel and just go back and rewatch the same shows I watched decades ago.

    Tho I do have a recommendation for you, if you haven't seen it (and I have a tickle in the back of my brain that says you have, and have talked about it, but my mind is a sieve these days) and that is The Midnight Club, which is on Netflix over here. I thought it was pretty good stuff and the ending is nebulous enough that they could do a 2nd season but if they don't, at least I don't feel like I was left hanging.

    Of the titles you called out, I'll miss Lockwood and Co the most. Doom Patrol kind of lost us, and we never started the other two.

    1. I think The Midnight Club came up here when it got cancelled. I wasn't going to bother since it only had the one season but I'm re-assessing that sort of decision now. I'll add it to the list, which isn't all that long at the moment.

      I also think it's about time to start re-watching stuff, only not from the deep past but from when I started watching TV again. It's been a few years now and I'm starting to feel almost nostalgic about stuff I watched not all that long ago. Also I have a ton of stuff on DVD I really ought to watch. I just need to figure out a comfortable way to watch it in bed, which is where I do almost all my TV wartching these days.


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