meganbmoore: (girl k: training)
12 Monkeys: How to write a season finale with a brilliant and unexpected twist that adds layers to character and reinforces your ongoing themes and leaves your fandom going “Whhhaaaaaa.....?

spoilers )

Into the Badlands: How to write a season finale with a twist guaranteed to piss off the majority of your fanbase, displays bad and lazy writing, and tosses themes that you get praised for and season long character arcs into the garbage for shock value, leaving your fandom going “WTF HATEHATEHATEHATEHATE.”

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (badlands: butterflies)
 Even post-apocalyptic Wuxia manages to jump on the anti-Trump political commentary train.

spoilers )
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
Star Wars Rebels spoilers )

For other Spring TV shows:  Feud, about the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, is very good.  I'm still suspicious of Ryan Murphy every step of the way, but given that leads and the subject matter, he probably couldn't get away with much in the way of his usual antics.  I hope both Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange  get best actress noms.

Into the Badlands had, IMO, and excellent return.  It was mostly setup for the season, but unlike most shows that skip a large amount of time between seasons and have everyone positioned drastically differently than the first season, I can't actually complain about where they seem to be going with anyone.  I have concerned for a couple characters in regards to their fates, yes, but not with what the shows is currently doing with them.  We caught up with everyone from season 1 but Waldo and Lydia.  Based on previews for the season, I'm not worried about Waldo, but I am a bit worried about Lydia.  My only complaint is that I don't care for Tilda and The Widow's new hairstyles, and that's pretty shallow  (Though Tilda's does suit the changes to her character and her current role, even if I'm not fond of it.)

The Tangled TV series is very cute and enjoyable, based on the TV movie and first episode, but I don't have a lot more to say about it than that so far, aside from that there's an excellent rejection of 100 years of toxic masculinity in the movie.  The Catch is still a very Shondaland show in both good and bad ways, but I like it.  Powerless is a delight but appears to already be on hiatus after 5 episodes.  Making History is a cute comedy about a time traveler who accidentally messes up the American Revolution, but it isn't holding my attention, so I might save it for a slow TV period.  Season 3 of Grace and Frankie has dropped, but I've only watched 2 episodes so far.  Season 2 of Underground is proving that you can improve on perfection.

I appear to have dropped both How to Get Away With Murder and Supergirl, something that I never would have thought possible in their previous seasons.  HHTGAWM sounds like the Terrible Decision they made in the mid-season finale was, indeed,a truly terrible decision that they didn't recover from, and Supergirl just...has largely ignored or sidelined most of what made season 1 good.  There are still good parts and I probably will catch up eventually, but it wont be soon.
meganbmoore: (badlands: butterflies)
 PSA that Netflix has the first season of Into the Badlands (aka, Post Apocalyptic Wuxia of my heart and soul.) Only 6 episodes, so plenty of time to watch it before season 2 starts later this month.
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
I have not died, I've just been on a bit of a culling spree in my apartment. I've also been binging on kdramas, though that really means that I've been alternating between multiple kdramas.

They are:

Oh My Venus: Airing drama that's a romcom about an overweight woman and a hollywood fitness trainer. On paper it's everything wrong with romantic fiction, but in practice, it's actually very very delightful, largely because od Shin Min Ah and So Ji Sub. I freely admit that I wouldn't have bothered with it if I didn't like both leads. There's definitely some fatphobia going on, but not nearly as much as I feared, and they do at least try to avoid the worst of it first by having him decide to help her lose weight not because he thinks fat=yucky, but because she's doing harmful things to her body to try to lose weight. They also attach her weight to an initially-undiagnosed medical condition, which I sideeye because the real world medical profession tends to dismiss a lot of issues as being the result of weight instead of exploring other possibilities, but at least they tried. There's also a secondary romance between a boxer who is So Ji Sub's foster son and an idol who is his fan that is simultaneously hilarious and semi-cute, and offputting because she pretty much stalks him. I'm hoping they move past the stalking soon and they have real conversations, because I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to want them to get together. I haven't seen the most recent episode yet because I'm watching on Hulu and they don't have it yet, but am current otherwise.

My only big "OMG NO NO NO" moment was actually entirely unrelated to the romances and all about someone soing CPR by pressing on the top of the sternum. YOU DON'T PRESS THERE. THE POINT OF CPR IS THAT YOU'RE FORCING THE LUNGS TO WORK BY MAKING THEM PUMP AIR. THE INTERNAL ORGANS ARE ENTIRELY UNAFFECTED IF YOU'RE JUST PUSHING AGAINST UNRELENTING BONE AND CAN'T GET TO THE ORGANS. *medical pet peeve to end all pet peeves*

Yong Pal: About a medical student who secretly provides medical aid for criminals to earn money, and an heiress who is being kept in a coma by her evil brother. (Who actually seems very fond of her in the one flashback we had of them pre-coma? WHAT HAPPENED BESIDES HER RUNNING AWAY TO GET MARRIED TO SOMEONE UNAPPROVED?) I wasn't interested in it but tumblr made it look interesting when it was airing, and I like Kim Tae Hee, who plays the heroine. The actor who played Myong Nong in Soo Baek Hyang plays the evil brother, and I still haven't quite accepted that. It's a Sleeping Beauty story, something they keeps hitting us over the head with. Episode 4 literally begins with "here is our version of Our Hero having fought his way through the wall of brambles (or in this case, absurd levels of corporate hospital security) to get to the sleeping princess, and we'll tell him she's Sleeping Beauty in case anyone in the audience has missed it.' Hopefully, now that he's found her, she'll wake up soon and set out to get her revenge, which is what I signed up for. I had just started episode 4 when I realized I should post about the shows I've been watching.

Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire: Drama based on Baek Pa-sun, a Korean potter during Gwang Hae's reign. (And will have what i'm pretty sure is a 100% historically anachronistic romance with him.) I'm still in the childhood parts, so it's pretty much the teenagers who play kids in all the sageuks running around being adorable dorks and the adults who are in all the sageuks doing Important Political Scheming Things while the importance of pottery and ceramics is drilled into us. So, normal MBC sageuk biodrama stuff. Very delightful so far, though I'm only 3 episodes in.

Queen In Hyun's Man/The Queen and I fantasy series about a scholar/swordsman who served Queen In Hyun accidentally travelling through time and meeting a woman who is playing Queen In Hyun in a drama. This was seemingly universally loved when it was airing and I've neber encountered anyone who didn't like it, but I bounced off the first episode several times ober the last few years. I finally finished the first episode (3 episodes, actually), and I do like it, which I always assumed would be the case if I finished the first episode though I can't say I'm in love with it.

Maids: My favorite so far of the completed dramas I'm watching. An arrogant young noblewoman becomes a servant in her romantic rival's household after her father is accused of treason. Romantic interests are her previous fiance and the head servant of her new household. Said head servant is played by Oh Ji Ho (who is likable cardboard in modern dramas, but does the "stoic and serious sageuk action hero" thing very well) so we know who will be the final love interest even when the current plot makes it seem very implausible. As the title implies ,most of the focus is on female servants, with the politics providing the B plot. I hadn't realized this drama had been completed after the fire/death of a crew member made production stop after the first episode aired last year until I saw it on hulu. It's kind of unrelentingly angsty and depressing so far, but then, I'm only watched 4 episodes.

I also watched the first episodes of the Chinese series Perfect Couple, but it was a little too OTT for me, and the first episode of the Japanese series Atelier. I actually really liked Atelier, but it was a bit confusing hearing Japanese when my brain kept expecting to hear Korean because of all the other shows I'm watching, so I'm saving it for when I've finished a few things.

For US TV:

The Librarians has almost finished its second season. I don't like this season's ongoing plotline as much as I did the first season's, but the entertainment level is just as high, and it's been doing some nice character stuff.

Into the Badlands ended and no second season has been confirmed yet. I really really hope there is one. For better or worse (depending of whether or not you cared about them) I probably won't spew a thousand words about the last 2 episodes, but I have a lot of feelings about how incredibly satisfying Quinn's villainous comeupance was, and about The Widow's dual role as protagonist and antagonist, so I may post about those on tumblr. If there is a season 2, I hope they don't keep locking M.K. up in cages and boxes so much. Just let the poor kid go find his mom already!

I'm watching Jessica Jones and it's going slowly because of the content and because of some of my issues with it (mostly race!fail stuff, but also the fact that I'm apparently not meant to hate the entitled annoying Jessica-hating cop guy) but I do like it. I do really appreciate how the writers were clearly aware of fandom's tendency to woobify villains and went out of their way to give nothing to grab onto for woobification or logical sympathetic interpretations of the character, or any reason to find him interesting in and of himself. I mean, it didn't work, but I really appreciate the effort. Trish (which I always type as "Patsy" first) is my favorite, despite her awful taste in men, and I thought she and Hope were the same character in gifs I saw. Pretty sure the resemblance is deliberate for maximum levels of investment for Jessica.

This reminds me that I really need to post of several dramas I bingewatched over the last few months.
meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
This episode could probably be summarized as "They're all so screwed. (And some of them deserve it.)"

So much was packed into this episode that I wonder how much was cut, especially towards the end, where about 5 plotlines converge/kick off, and they forget about important things like just what happened to Lydia, Veil and Jade. I also feel like a lot of the fight scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, which is strange, given how much promotion for the show relies on the fight scenes, which usually deliver in spades.

cut for those who don't care about the show )
meganbmoore: (eklavya)
Every episode of Into the Badlands more heavily incorporates wuxia tropes. sadly, these are the tropes that lead to the lone survivor wandering the hills of ancient China sad and tragic and lonely because everyone he knows died, as opposed to the ones that lead to people having adventures and running off to the hills/an island to grow old peacefully and away from all the people who keep wanting them to fight.

The first episode introduced most of the major players and set the world up, while the second focused on The widow, and explored the conflict she creates. M.K. says The widow is no better than Quinn, but he's wrong in that because, unlike Quinn, she's expressed genuine concern for her people on more than one occasion, and carried out measures to attempt to secure their safety, even at her own expense. Mind you, overall, I'm not sure she's MUCH better than Quinn, but she's definitely the better option of the two so far, despite being the source of many of the current troubles.

The worldbuilding still isn't all that great, but I've spent years with far shakier worldbuilding in various anime and manga, including with Saiyuki. It does better with selling the post-apocalyptic atmosphere and desperation.

The third episode is when the plot really kicks off and we have the various factions preparing for war. Because all the setup is out of the way, we start getting hints about how the Barons and their society work outside of their various territories. A third Baron, Jacoby, is mentioned but not seen. We do know that he's apparently a fairly reasonable Baron, and that his Regent (Captain of his troops, pretty much, for those reading posts but not watching) is a woman, meaning Quinn is the only Baron so far with an exclusively male force. I will say that, as much as I dislike Quinn, the writing and Marton Csokas's acting both do a good job of making him threatening and fairly interesting without giving the audience any room to woobify or stan him (I mean, someone probably does...somewhere...but the show tried hard to prevent it). He's creepy and icky and you really want someone to kill him and save the protagonists, and they do it without making him a rapist/overt abuser of women like so many shows do. (The matter of Jade's consent in their relationship is questionable at best, but that's another matter, and I don't actually have a problem yet with how the show is handling that, though I'm constantly bracing myself.)

More important than the above, with all the setup taken care of, the episode devotes a lot of time to giving Veil, Jade and Lydia more development. I'm pretty sure each had more screentime this episode than all three combined did in the first two episodes. Because a lot of the non-war drama in the episode revolved around saving an injured Ryder, there wasn't much in the way of Bechdel Passing, but we learned a lot more about all three, and how they relate to each other.

The main fight scene in the episode is the opening scene, with Quinn and The Widow's people facing off against against each other, including a duel between the two Baron's. As I mentioned last week with Emily Beecham and The Widow's fight scene, there's a big difference between well choreographed fight scenes with people who learn to fight for a show/movie, and fight scenes with actual martial artists, and it stands out when your show combines the two. That said, Emily Beecham and Marton Csokas still sold the fight, and made it clear that the "You can't kill me, I'm a Baron" wasn't cockiness and or bravado because killing a Baron would start a war, it's that the Barons become and remain Barons because they're better and more brutal fighters than anyone else. (See also: Sunny, the superbadass Clipper, almost literally quaking in his boots at times around the Barons.) This is probably extra true for The Widow, who became a Baron by killing her previous Baron, and holds her own against Quinn (and a bar full of assassins) despite being much younger and less experienced. Sunny doesn't get a lot of action then and his main fight scene later in the episode is shorter and less intense than in previous episodes, but I figure Daniel Wu needed (and earned) a bit of a break. There's also a third, rather one-sided fight scene in which M.K. learns the lesson that all future wuxia heroes must learn, which is that you just don't try to fight the old guy who looks all frail and broken down and like he can't hurt anyone any more.

Side note about M.K. to end the post: I know some people find him annoying and agree he can be, but I find the "cocky young man who thinks he's ready to take on the world (but really knows nothing)" trope MUCH more palatable when portrayed by an actual teenager close to the characters age (M.K. is 14-15, and I think Aramis Knight is 16) instead of by someone in their early twenties like we get so often. It makes normal teen stuff come across as more cocky and petulant and naive than they should when the actor is clearly much older. Having M.K. played by an actor close to his own age also helps with the "total kid" scenes, like most of his scenes with Sunny and/or Veil this episode, and his reactions to all things Veil-related.
meganbmoore: (when princesses grow fangs)
 Into the Badlands really does have an excellent grasp of wuxia shipping tropes.  Sunny and Veil can feel free to not end up like their wuxia equivalents frequently do.

Two episodes in, and we have a grim dark dystopia with an unrelentingly oppressive and objectifying society, and not a single rape, sexual assault, or woman killed for shock value (2 women have died off screen and at least one in battle, but their deaths weren't gendered, and the male body count is astronomically higher.  Also no naked women yet.  I will keep harping on this until the show lets me down due to the endless cacophony of voices insisting that these things are absolutely necessary to truly portray an awful and violent society*.  The only thing that's truly bothered me about the treatment of women so far (aside from there not being enough of some of them) is a very brief scene where Ryder chokes a woman for information.  I don't think it was necessary, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as those scenes usually are.

The second episode focused on The Widow and her "daughter" Tilda (it isn't clear if Tilda is her biological or adopted daughter, or if all the assassins she trains call her Mother.  I think it's actually both).  The Widow appears to be a kinder baron then Quinn, but also ruthless, and is trying to start a war with Quinn to expend her territories.  One of the two extended fight scenes in this episode was The Widow taking down a dozen assassins with two knives and very sharp high heels.  Emily Beecham isn't the incredibly skilled martial artist that Daniel Wu is, but it was a great fight scene anyway.

*Not saying there's never ever a justifiable reason to include rape, just that 95% of the time (if I'm generous) it's because it's a form of victimization of women that's used as a lazy narrative shortcut.
meganbmoore: (lotus lantern)
Into the Badlands is a post-apocalyptic dystopian martial arts series that is a very loose adaptation of Journey to the West. Which probably tells you whether or not it's or you already.

IN THE FUTURE war and whatnot happens and there was chaos blah blah blah normal ONTO THE PLOT. (It actually does open with an Every Post apocalyptic Dystopia Ever voiceover that made my eyes roll even if it did set the tone. Just go with it.) After lots of war and fighting and death several barons took over, and and took the people in their various territories under their protection. Eventually, "protection" became servitude and eventually slavery, as the residents fell further and further into debt with their protectors. The Barons' enforcers are called Clippers, and as guns are outlawed, hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, and swords are back in style. (Not out of style: motorcycles, leather trenchcoats, sunshades, and southern accents.)

The main character, Sunny (played by Daniel Wu) is the head Clipper for one of the Barons, named Quinn. Quinn's estate is blatantly based on a southern plantation, though the social system seems to be based more on feudal domains than anything else, despite the aesthetic. The plantation aesthetic is, in the pilot at least, very much not on the nostalgic side, as a lot of the focus is on how Quinn sees himself as the benevolent baron but isn't benevolent at all, and that no one would be there if they thought they had a choice. After killing a gang of thieves, Sunny finds a boy named M.K. locked in a trunk. M.K. claims to be from the lands outside the Badlands, and that he and his mother came to the Badlands to find out information about a mysterious condition of M.K.'s (Note: Mother is missing, but not fridged at this point.) Sunny takes M.K back to Quinn's estate, where he's thrown in an arena with other young men to see who's cut out to be a Clipper. Meanwhile, Quinn's wife, Lydia, has apparently passed what Quinn considers to be her desirability date, and he's having her arrange his marriage to Jade, a young woman who was a worker on his lands. Lydia is concerned that Quinn intends to overlook their son as his heir and produce a new heir with Jade (Lydia, you are pretty impressive and would probably be so even if you weren't played by Orla Brady, but your son is a wimpy bully and a douche. IJS.) There's also Sunny's lover, Veil, a doctor on the estate, who seems to be encouraging Sunny to pack their bags and run, and is possibly the only truly decent person in the show, with the possible exception of M.K. Meanwhile, The Widow, called such because she murderered her husband, another Baron, and declared herself Baron in his place, is plotting things, and her plots involve M.K, though M.K. doesn't know what her interest in him is. Quinn objects to her calling herself a Baron, but Quinn is a misogynistic douche and slaveowner, so who cares about his opinion? (I can be more generous with Lydia because because her power and autonomy depend on his not tossing her to the side.)

While it's extremely unlikely that anyone is actually going to India for sacred texts, but it is very important that Sunny is played by a Chinese man (Daniel Wu) and that M.K's actor (Aramis Knight) is of both Indian and Pakistani descent. Daniel Wu is also a martial artist which means we get real actualfax fight scenes. The difference between fight scenes with a real martial artist and well choreographed fight scenes with amateurs is astounding, so it's nice to see the real thing on television. (I keep wanting to make a comparison to Basil Rathbone, a trained and talented fencer, always losing duels to actors who were clearly inferior fenders to him in all those swashbucklers. I mean, I like and own a lot of those swashbucklers. IJS.) The pilot as two extended fight scenes in which Sunny takes down groups of armed opponents with a lot of skill and little flash. The fight scenes are gorier than most television shows, but certainly not the goriest. I actually found the blood from the fight scenes less disturbing than the artfully displayed corpses in a lot of procedurals. I was more bothered by the bones breaking, which were accompanied by very loud snaps and twisted body parts.

The worldbuilding is a bit shaky at this point, relying more on striking visuals (And the shows is seriously stunning. AMC possibly literally poured money into it.) and atmosphere to establish the world than anything else. It does, however, do a very good job setting up a dark and depressing world, and conveying a sense of helplessness, despite the bright colors and open spaces. It also manages to create a dark and depressing world without having a single woman beaten, raped*, murdered onscreen, naked, or otherwise attacked. (So sad that that has to be pointed out.) Sunny does kill at least one woman in his first fight, I believe, but it's done as matter of factly as his dispatching of the men he's fighting, and the camera angles and focus doesn't change to linger over her death body like so many shows do.There’s also a scene at the beginning where Sunny finds a young girl who has been murdered, but again, there’s none of the prurient interest or lingering camera (on her, at least) that we usually get with dead women.  Violence involving women =/= violence against women, and I hope that's something the show actually does get, and this isn't a one off. I know from stills that there's at least one fight scene with The Widow coming up, and that she has a teenaged female assassin in her employ.

A perfect show? No. But it has a strong start, and a lot of potential.

*While Jade's consent in her marriage to Quinn would be considered questionable at best, we don't see enough of her to really have an idea of what's going on there beyond Quinn deciding he wants a pretty young woman as his new wife. I am watching for that plotline to go horribly wrong, but hoping it doesn't. I mean, they got Sarah Bolger for Jade, and I choose to believe that's because they have plans for her.
meganbmoore: (covert affairs: gimme tv)
A few upcoming series I plan to check out:

Into the Badlands, which is very, very loosely based on Journey to the West:

The Shannara Chronicles. I forget which part of the series this is going to be based on (I assume Sword of Shannara, though). I was very, very into Shannara as a teenager and then got over it in a big way in my 20s, but I plan to at least check this out.

I'm happy fantasy TV is getting more popular, though I could do without the show making it something networks are willing to take a chance on.

And leaving the fantasy TV behind, the new Tommy and Tuppence series, Partners in Crime. I'm not sold on Tommy's casting at all based on the trailer, and don't care for moving the setting to the 50s, but I have hope.


meganbmoore: (Default)

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