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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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But I just watched the CW crossover and I'm quite happy with it. The Supergirl/Flash dynamic is just so fascinatingly... *nice*. And I like Green Arrow more often than not.

It was definitely a by-the-books crossover, and it even included some non-crossover classic tropes, but, without being brilliant or tightly plotted, it was fun.

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It very much grows on you. It begins goofy, and then it gets weird, then it's about relationships, and then science-fictional. Then you have tragedy, more science-fiction, and finally as kick-ass an animated fight as I've ever seen; it had that early Jason Bourne-y quality when it's not martial artists fighting, but hypercompetent (and in this case, cybernetically enhanced) experts trying to kill each other.

It doesn't stop being funny (although, caveat, there's a whole thread of stereotypical gay jokes that are probably unnecessary), but it does get more... existential over time.

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