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Crisis on Earth-X

By and large, adorable.

Yes, the ethics of everybody not going back to Earth-X to help are rather awful (fixing the timeline (they broke) might get the Legends off the hook, but there's nothing Kara, Barry, or Oliver are doing that has a higher priority than that), but that's the elephant in the room of all episodic media with superpowered characters.

Not that it would be that hard. Doing the crossover right before the series hiatus, you can have the characters spend those few months off-screen fighting on Earth-X. Lots of things can happen there to refer back to later if you need plot grist, important good gets done, and it reinforces the *scale* of what they can and do.

(That said, I acknowledge that Earth-X people might want neither Kara nor Oliver on their Earth; regardless of the good they can do, it'd, well, it'd be a mess. But Barry could certainly spend time there every now and then; plenty of uses for an speedster in a war, even one that won't kill.)

(Although Oliver could, in theory, try to pull a Prisoner of Zenda, and if not change things structurally, at least cause as much havoc as possible. The perhaps bleak and certainly psychologically harrowing long fanfic doesn't write itself, yet it whispers from behind your ear about how much good you could do with all that power... Not that I think Felicity would let him; that'd be a great way to break them up. But maybe she wouldn't let him do nothing, either.)

(In short: once you have well-meaning superheroes with access to a Nazi Earth, pretty much the only non-viable plot option is to have them not go there.)

But I digressed into a complaint; I enjoyed the event quite a bit, less because of the pace and plotting — as choppy and by the numbers as all such events are — than because of the small character moments. The Supergirl-Green Arrow-Flash ("Dorky Cinnamon Roll Who Could Level Your City," "Grumpy Cynic With The Soul of a Puppy", and "Dorky Cinnamon Roll Who's Actually 100% A Dorky Cinnamon Roll") TV Trinity works very well, mostly because they balance their most problematic traits (e.g., it's almost impossible for Oliver to over-brood around Barry).
I've been catching a bit of The Mentalist as background TV, and I have to say I had forgotten quite how punchable Patrick Jane is. Clever guy, I like his (pre-Moffat)Doctor Who-ish avoidance of violence, and the amateur-helping-the-police setup isn't more or less implausible than all similar others, but, oh, god, he's a pretentious asshole, even when it makes things more difficult for the people he works with. Part of me wants to headcanon it as a self-destructive reaction to his guilt about his dead family ("suicide by enraged colleague suspect random bystander"), but of course his being a pretentious asshole contributed to their deaths (without going too far into victim blaming, mind you).

He's not as bad as John Luther in that sense; he's sort of broken, and I do feel for the guy. And while Patrick is a walking stressor, Luther oscillates between "breaks the law in violent ways to help innocents" to "breaks the law in violent ways to help himself." But Patrick's grating and insulting in counterproductive ways, and although he gets away with it because he's helpful and, well, the protagonist, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who are impolite just because they can.

Most of them well-off white male geniuses, unsurprisingly. (Luther is a not well-off black male genius who regularly abuses whatever modicum of power he has legitimately earned through his being good at his job, which makes things more complex, Elba's great acting aside)

Insert here the obvious comment about the World's Greatest Well-off White Male Genius Who's Unnecessarily Irritating To People He Works With, Bruce Wayne, whose overall plan vis a vis the JLA seems to be they think of themselves as good people, so the more they personally want to kill me because they find me obnoxious, the less likely they are to attack me even when technically they would have the right to, or maybe just the newbies don't kill me because they think I'm tough enough to mouth off to the Clark, Diana, and J'onn with impunity, and Clark, Diana, and J'onn don't kill me because they are genuinely good and extremely patient people whose personal lines I've spent a lot of time profiling to make sure I never cross.

Violence by the numbers[*]

[*] How come that's not already the title of a book about contemporary warfare, the negative social impact of large-scale financial fraud, or something like that? So many options, really.

In a stunningly predictable display of absurd time management prioritization, last night I watched 8+ hours of Bad Guys. The whole one-season series was consistent in its formulaic but competent approach to characterization and plot.

I mean, this picture shows a professional killer with regrets, a gruff gangster with a sense of loyalty, and a psychopath genius learning to feel emotions, and you need absolutely zero hints from me to identify each one:



Some of the clearer beats:

  • The young psychopath genius (the Slick Uber-Professional Assassin With A Case of Regrets's nickname for him being Psycho) is the distilled essence of every young psychopath genius, from the haircut under his perpetual hoodie to the unexplained combat skills</i> (I'd link to the relevant TV Tropes pages, but then this whole post would be blue and underlined).

  • The Lost-style backstory episode that shows how most things were related to most things back in the day, and explains everything except what'll be de- and re-explained at the last minute.

  • Everything got almost exponentially more betrayalful over time, in (what I think is?) a very Korean cop movie/series style.

  • I swear they copied a key scene of the last episode from the A-Team movie. Probably convergent evolution from a common (probably even Korean for all I know) root, but still.

  • The you-were-like-a-brother-to-me other Slick Uber-Professional Assassin. How everybody knows everybody else in the business, down to killing styles, including the go-playing, because of course somebody had to be a go player, former murder matchmaker.

  • Guns are very rare and controlled, even for cops. It's a country of baseball bat and knife-wielding gangs, which I guess would make the viewing experience surreal for an American.

  • Not as much as the fact that knives are blurred, I bet.

  • I'm not sure the writers know or care about what a psychopath is. Also, young psychopath genius spent most of the last half of the season bleeding from some stabbing or another, something I ended up finding hilarious (and even made sense plot-wise).

  • The heart-twisting scenes were as predictable as everything else, but well done.



It'd be pointless to comment on the relevant gender issues, by the way. It's not just that the series is (emotionally) the mutual bonding story of four extremely violent men who have done each other and the rest of their society an awful lot of harm, but that every one of the few female characters is a selfish unrealistic careerist, a doe-eyed angel of a daughter, a grieving widow, a seemingly-perfect girlfriend, an almost literal harpy, or a dead wife. There isn't even a redeemable seductress stock character to widen up a bit the likely range of fanfic.

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Current TV series: Bad Guys (2014)

A Korean cop show with a familiar meta-plot. In this particular instance: a disgraced alcoholic violent former cop suffering from personal trauma nicknamed Mad Dog is reinstated to catch a dangerous serial killer (the explicit premise of the beginning of the first episode explicitly being We Korean police are too nice to catch dangerous bad guys). For hopefully not purely Doylean reasons, he gets to set up a team composed of, besides the by-the-books young and idealistic policewoman who technically outranks him, three convicts that are released under his care and promised years off their sentences for each bad guy they (individually, this is an internal competition) catch:

  • A hitman with a flawless record who gave himself up for unknown reasons after his last kill (you know, the sleek, always-wears-a-suit type).

  • A mob leader (of the rough, slightly comedic relief-y, violent but also well-connected with the underground type).

  • A young genius psychopath serial killer (of the absurdly high IQ, multiple PhDs, killed a bunch of people type).



Needless to say, the plot's probably going to thicken. There's only one season of eleven episodes, and, as you can see, it's pretty much by the numbers, but the first episode was entertaining enough, so it might end up being a once-a-week shut-my-brain-off thing.

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The dialogue is pure Warren Ellis all through, but the plot isn't. Probably won't watch the rest of it.

On other news: I can see Dark Matter becoming my new trashy space show of procrastination, something I'd rather avoid. Ditto Warehouse 13 as my new (-again) trashy weirdness show of procrastination.

(I've probably said this before, but can you imagine a Netflix version of The Monday Black Murders by Fuller on the Hannibal style? It'd make True Crime look like Bad Boys.)

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Although thinking about it, the best candidate for a John Hickman TV series would probably be Pax Romana. It can be adapted to be a bit like Game of Thrones (including the politics, battles, sex, etc), but with a dash of sci-fi, historically recognizable settings, and a religious pseudo-philosophical background issue. Plus it *is* essentially a huge conspiracy theory, and would let you plug in pretty much any shadowy group as you might as the thing progresses.

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I might need to extend my "don't read Facebook, don't read Twitter" emotional self-care program to "don't leave TV news as background while I work, even on mute."

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1) Really?

2) You probably want to ask somebody to tell you what parts of yesterday's episode to avoid.

3) Always remember that Moffat wants you to believe there's a god and it's name is the Doctor, but Gatiss wants to tell you that there is no god, and the world is a dust bowl of ashes haunted by the cold ghosts of our good intentions. The words might or might not have been his, but he was talking not only to his brother, but to and through the fourth wall, when he said and warned and mocked that all hearts break, and caring is not an advantage.

Just saying.

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It's... different. There's a minimal amount of plot, really simplified characters, everybody's so chirpy, and about 85% of the time there's a fight going on (the episode sequence is also of order, which aside from a couple of details doesn't really matter, which tells you how absolutely episodic it is). It's basically about ten minutes of SKWP (Superhero Kapow Without Plot).

It did have a few moments I laughed at (Tumblr gifsets of the ones I remember here, here, and here, spoilers to be expected), but I think I'm not going to keep watching.

YMMV, of course! If you're looking for pure angst-free Saturday morning kapow fun (and who amongst us doesn't, at one point or another?) this is probably it.
This morning I remembered, randomly and for no apparent reason, that in Sanctuary vampire Tesla nicknamed the male POV character "The Concubine" of his older-as-an-actress-and-waaaaaay-older-as-a-character female protagonist boss.

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