Thursday, May 07, 2015

[TV] Again, Toob Notes

Like last month, only different.
  • The last scene of The Sopranos is turning into a modern day Mona Lisa smile. The sort of thing everyone has a comment on, everyone sees what they want in it. We (by `we' I mean weird people on the internet, like me) still ruminate over what it all means -- is Tony dead or alive, what did it all mean? The only one who actually knows is David Chase and he just recently gave his most revealing interview about it. I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed. He has said in the past that Tony living or dying was not the point. I think that was pretty easy for most thoughtful people to see from the get-go. But there had to be more meaning, didn't there? The odd cuts; the innocuous, yet loaded dialogue; the staging; Meadow being late, the man in the Members Only jacket, the Cub Scouts -- it all had to mean something. It just had to.
    Now we have the most detailed description from David Chase yet, and it didn't help much. Could we have read-in all the symbolism we saw?

    The unusual camera cuts that made it seem like Tony was watching himself, or evaluating his life, were just an homage to the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Meadow trying to squeeze into the parking doesn't seem to have any special meaning, whereas I took it as a symbol of her finally fitting in with her parents lifestyle after all her youthful rebellion. "Don't Stop Believin'" wasn't a commentary on the ongoing need for self-delusion in humanity, it was just an kindly exhortation to never give up on living.

    Sorry but I can't accept this. I'm sticking with my own interpretation of what was meant. I think I'd know better.
  • A well done series finale can truly elevate the series by tying up the core philosophy of the show, although usually they just become an orgy of closure -- see Boardwalk Empire for a case in success, see Dexter for a failure. Although there was a fair amount of closure throughout the last season of Justified, but in the end -- it was less closure and more summation. Oh, we have a good idea "where they are now," but by no means are their conflicts closed.

    Boyd is in jail and has resumed playing preacher. It seems like a dead end, but this is Boyd. He is no doubt working hard on an escape plan. Ava seems to have escaped Harlan alive. She's got Boyd's child and seems to be living an idyllic life in hiding. Raylan believes she's out of the criminal life, but if push came to shove, you have the sense she'd wouldn't hesitate to step back in the game, probably in the name of providing for her son. But Raylan buys her story, or seems to, and actually goes to some lengths to make sure Boyd believes she is dead so if he does escape he won't come after her. Does Boyd believe Raylan's lie? Raylan goes to far as to bring the sacred "We dug coal together" oath in support of it. Who knows? Elmore Leonard characters never stop being Elmore Leonard characters. (Do I smell a movie sequel? The door is open.)

    The essential story of Justified -- which doesn't get enough notice -- is Raylan's daddy issues. Arlo's shadow looms large over everything Raylan did in his life, even in death. Justified's human story is of Raylan trying to get control of that. In that sense, the real climax of Justified came earlier in the season when Raylan found Arlo's "secret cabin" which, as a child, had all sort of scary myth surrounding it. It was empty. All that awe and mystery, and yet there was nothing to it. Its summation is when Raylan doesn't but a bullet in Boyd like a cowboy would; he just arrests him like a responsible cop would. And so Raylan made progress in sorting himself out. He's not at rest. He's not a man in complete possession of his psyche. But, he's better than he was. He's trying to do well by his daughter, and generally being less of a dick.

    And so Justified doesn't really close. It just rounds out this phase of events nicely. Nobody is too much different than when they started, just enough to call it a character arc. Which is about perfect.

    I will miss that dialogue, though. I wish real life sounded like that.
  • I will not however, miss the dialogue in Daredevil, which is not to say I didn't enjoy the show. When I was a nerdy, awkward, 13-year-old lover of Marvel comics, Daredevil was my guy. I read the bulk of all the Marvel comics, but my key faves were the teams: Avengers (became the best action movie ever) , the Defenders (coming to TV, I understand), and the Fantastic Four (They mess of those movies, didn't they? How can you mess up the Silver Surfer?). I never really got attached to the X-Men for some reason. Daredevil, was the one solo guy I did connect with. I'm not sure what it was that attracted me to Daredevil. I could say it was his closeness to everyday humanity -- he just had some training and amplified senses, no world crushing superpowers, no immortality -- but who can explain why a fearful and sensitive child makes the connections he does.

    Anyway, Netflix's new Daredevil series got a lot right. They got the tone right -- gritty and more graphic than your standard Marvel fare. They got the villain right -- Vincent D'Orofino should get an Emmy nomination for his wonderfully shaded Kingpin portrayal. They got the style right -- the settings and fight scenes were striking to say the least. But, oh, the dialogue was painful! Riddled with exposition and cliche, it was overly long and every time two characters got in a room and started talking the pace of the show fell through the floor. The actors did their level best with it, but they really have to sort that out for season two or this will fall off the watch list very quickly. That would be a shame because there is a ton of potential in this show.