Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Am Okay With / Not Okay With: Derivative TV Edition.

Living in New York City—or, really, any pseudo-metropolis in our image-ridden age—one is often made aware of a new product or event or film by means of on-street advertising. In fact, especially in New York City, certain firms seem to delight in finding new & exciting ways to inform us about their product, which results in all unholy means of adhering the image to every conceivable public surface, such that the simple act of walking down the street turns into a battle against eyeball assault—until one is So. Very. Aware. of this particular item that one could probably draw the poster in question jot for jot, blindfolded, with the pencil held between one's teeth. Of course, the Annoyance Factor of this phenomenon is only increased when these images advertise something that makes one cringe or laugh cynically aloud or murmur clenched-teethedly to oneself, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Two such advertising campaigns for upcoming television shows have caught been shoved into my eye as of late, & aside even from their prevalence, they have irked me especially because, in my humble estimation, within 5 seconds of glimpsing each show's campaign, any human with a functioning frontal lobe could recite its (oft-parodied, referential) One-Line Pitch. Such an extreme level of Immediate Derivative Recall sends me into a postmodern tailspin of truly epic & despairing proportions—so, today, I bring you our contenders for least terrible new show on the block:

It's Like The Sopranos Meets The Tudors With a Splash of The Godfather & That Guy From Lolita.

Picture Law & Order With the Structure of 24 & the Concept of Twin Peaks.

Now, I know what you're thinking—"But you love Jeremy Irons! & crime shows!"—but just go with me on this for a minute: it seems insane to me that, in an age when Working in Pictures is not only a viable, but a popular career, ultimately accessible as a cell phone camera—when film schools are churning out graduating class after graduating class, & everyone within 50 miles of Hollywood has a script in their sock drawer—we are still making movies from books, movies based on true stories, sequel after sequel of Marvel comics blockbusters. Of course, almost all of those are marketing decisions—if people bought the book, they'll see the film, & at least Iron Man has a fast-food merchandising tie-in—but still: it's frustrating to me that so much "new" onscreen fare these days is basically the result of past successful formulae plucked at random from a bingo roller. These two shows in particular strike me as especially abominable reconstituted Frankensteins, cobbled from old Nielsen data & stitched together with the apathetic hope that today's TV audience really is that passive—then garnished with that especial audacity required to put the word "original," plainly, on both of these posters. It's enough to drive a girl to frenzy.

However, in this little system I've set up, one must triumph—so, following extensive research, a few laughs, & some bitter tears, our survey says...

I Am Okay With: That Salacious Period Drama Showtime Has Been So Desperately Lacking.

It's funny, because perhaps the most hilariously period-revisionist explosion of Awful—the show that, upon learning of its existence, had me convinced it was a parody or performance art piece—really anything other than a serious, dramatic television program about a sexified King Henry the Eighth—yes, that show, The Tudors—is Showtime's own pride & joy. Now, it seems, they're following the good old "Well, it worked once..." formula & lumping on The Borgias—the apparent laziness of which is frustrating in & of itself, but also, it gets on my "period drama" nerve.

I really don't like period dramas. Or—well—revise: I don't like the prevalence of period dramas. I just think there's something fundamentally stuffy & silly about them, as if their creators believe they've cracked the code to high culture simply by virtue of being set in a time when corsets were still mandatory. I also think this particular kind of "racy" period drama is somewhat done to death—the attempt to prove that people have always been just as callous & base as they are today, that scandal isn't a modern invention—all of which ultimately could be reduced to a man in pantaloons shouting into a megaphone, "People in the past had SEX! Oh man! So much sex they had!" Yes, Television, we're aware: we were born, after all.

Anyhow, I suppose that's more of a personal peeve—&, ultimately, after doing a little digging (one nose-held Google search, having been retina-clobbered by that ad a few too many times for comfort), I discovered that the show was created by Neil Jordan, who is fabulous & behind many a film I hold dear. So, on the grace of director & star (&, golly, WHAT A STARthat voice still slays me), I will let The Borgias skate through with a stamp of approval—& may even tune in, after glimpsing this hilarious set of GIFs.

I Am Not Okay With: Pacific Northwest Dead Girl Hunts That Exclude Kyle McLachlan Lynchian Bizarreitude.

Really, now: this trailer promises nothing even remotely as interesting as backward-talking dream sequences or salacious Canadian casinos—& you can damn well bet there's no body-snatching wildman to complete the whodunnit. Meanwhile, they're exploiting every conceivable crime show trope in the most banal way possible—&, honestly, even after Rizzoli & Isles, can we truthfully say that we're still interested in this kind of programming? Can't we just accept that the Law & Order Goliath has been felled, mourn a little, put on a brave face & find something new to make TV about? Please? (I'm looking at you, Law & Order: LA.)

Were this not enough, a quick scan of The Killing's Wikipedia page shows that it's the American remake of a Danish series that became popular in the UK. Yes, this is yet another Americanized re-rendering of a British phenomenon, which, in this case, happens to be a Danish take on American crime show convention—a clusterfuck of derivative sadness that is, clearly, not okay. Ugh.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

I feel it's only appropriate, after talking about derivatives & remakes, et. al., that today's musical offering be a cover. With that in mind, here are a few I've been (re)discovering lately—that, if memory serves, didn't make it onto the 55 Cover-splosion of months past (though such repetition would, in this context, be perversely wonderful...):

Zombie—Jay Brannan (Cranberries cover).

Personal Jesus—Johnny Cash (Depeche Mode cover).

Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down—Paolo Nutini (Cher cover).

Maps—Rogue Wave (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover).

&, the Champion:

Helden (Heroes, in German)—Rammstein feat. Apocalyptica (David Bowie cover).

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