May 16th, 2012

All Good Things…

I finished watching Star Trek: The Next Generation today. I know I’ve been talking a lot about it lately, and it’s because I’ve been making my way through it.  I did it kind of weirdly, though. See, back when I started it last year, I started midway through Season 2 because I was pretty sure I had seen all of them up to that point.  So I went on from Season 2 through Season 7, and it just got better and better. Well… okay, the 7th season isn’t the best, but I do love the last episode.

I got sad when I realized I was about to watch the last episode of Season 7, “All Good Things…,” because I was going to miss these characters.  I had already decided I was going to go back and watch the first episode again (“Encounter at Farpoint“), just to see the full circle. I remembered taping that first episode when it originally aired – my parents allowed it as I had become a pretty big Star Trek fan by then. It was all so … strange, seeing these people do stuff like Kirk, Spock, and McCoy had, but in this weird-looking new ship. Going back to that first episode after watching the whole series was almost as strange.  The characters grew so much in their seven seasons. Captain Picard was kind of a jerk starting off, Worf growled a lot, and Data wasn’t really anything.  Riker showed flashes of Future-Riker, but not much.

While I watched that first episode, I took a look at descriptions for the rest of the season, and I figured out that there were a lot of them I hadn’t seen. I wanna be the the very best, like no one ever was and catch all the episodes, so I kept going. Let me tell you: it was kind of rough. I knew where the characters ended up, but it was hard seeing them like this!  I mean, Geordi wasn’t even the Chief Engineer!  (I had completely forgotten that he wasn’t always.) Things started to get better in the second season, and after that, it really got fantastic.  I still prefer Original Recipe Trek, but Next Gen got great.

Anyway, tonight I got back around to where I had started, so I’m officially done. I didn’t realize it until I finished the episode and looked at the description for the next one, though, so I wasn’t prepared for it. It hit me again, that sadness. I spent a lot of time with these people, you know? And now they won’t be around any more. I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say about a television show, but it really did hit me like the loss of a friend.

And now, because I’m really into lists these days, here are my thoughts on the main characters (based on the whole series):

Captain Jean-Luc Picard – I think I’m on the Picard side of the the “Kirk or Picard?” debate. Kirk was great and everything, but he was always being either a jerk or really close to a jerk. Picard turned into this wonderful multifaceted character, wise but human. Patrick Stewart did a fantastic job portraying Picard, and in lesser hands I don’t think it would have gone so well.

Commander William T. Riker – He’s the closest thing we have to a Kirk on the Enterprise D. In command (when he’s supposed to be), but happy to be working with Picard as his superior. He’s funny but firm, quick to action, and a good balance for Picard.

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge – Poor Geordi. He was always the most easily frustrated character, most likely because he was used to being able to figure things out. Engineering never helped his love life, though.

Lieutenant Worf – Second-funniest guy on the ship. You have to feel bad for him, though, too, because nobody ever took his advice. Seeing a Klingon on the Enterprise was a big shock to us Original Trek fans. They were always the ultimate bad guys.

Counselor Deanna Troi – Marina Sirtis is reportedly one of the nicest people ever, but I did not care for this character at all. “Captain, that guy on the screen? The one with the frown and who is yelling? I sense he is angry.” Bah.

Lt. Commander Data – My favorite character. He’s the most Spock-like character, if we’re going to compare to TOS, and Spock was my favorite on that one. He gets the best journey, even if some of the “Data gets possessed/rewritten/rebooted” episodes were not that great.

Doctor Beverly Crusher – The ship’s mom, and the first redhead I ever had a crush on.

Wesley Crusher – Back in the day, I disliked the Wesley character just as much as everyone else. It’s funny, though, watching it now I really liked him. Part of that is because I’ve read Wil Wheaton’s stories on what it was like for him back then, but part of it is just that I liked him this time around. I was honestly bummed when he left the ship.

Lieutenant Tasha Yar – Man, I loved Yar. I thought she was awesome, and I thought it was great how much butt she kicked/wanted to kick. Stupid Tar Monster. She got brought back in a few future episode, to great effect, and I was happy about that.

Guinan – Meh. Not a necessary character, really, but I didn’t dislike her. Probably my favorite of Whoopi Goldberg’s work?

Doctor Pulaski – Not a fan. I know some of you out there really liked her, but I liked Dr. Crusher too much to ever be okay with her getting replaced. The 2nd season is hard for me to watch for this reason, and I was super glad she was gone by Season 3.

After I finished the last episode and realized there weren’t any more, I removed it from my queue and added Deep Space 9. I’ve only seen maybe three episodes of this, so while I sorta know what goes on with it, I really don’t know much. I started watching the first episode a little, just to see, and it was a strange mix a familiarity and newness. Captain Picard showed up, and there was Miles O’Brien, but that’s about the end of the familiar.

I got excited, though, looking forward to meeting these new people and seeing how things went for them. And, hey, Worf shows up later, so that’ll be cool.

January 13th, 2011

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is on the Abbey Road album, and was 100% written by McCartney, he called it “the corny one.”  The term “pataphysical” came from a Parisian club called the Pataphysical Society, which was actually a drinking club.

I don’t know that I’ve ever “discovered” a TV show on my own – you know, just stumbled onto it and found out it was great.  Most shows I love I started watching them because of a friend’s suggestion.  I didn’t start watching Seinfeld until its third or fourth season (thanks, Dave!), and I never saw an episode of Firefly until it was off the air and on DVD.  I sorta picked up Scrubs and Arrested Development on my own, I guess, but for the most part I find shows because I hear enough people say enough good things about them.

I tend towards sitcoms and sci-fi and not much toward dramas, whether courtroom or otherwise.  I did make it through three or four seasons of Smallville, which was more drama than sci-fi, so maybe that counts.

I tried the original CSI for a while, but didn’t stick with it.  I kind of liked the technical aspects (even though I knew they were ridiculously sped up for the sake of the show), but it was pretty gross and the characters didn’t really stick with me.  I took my failure to stick with it as a sign that procedurals weren’t really for me.

When Megan and I started dating, she told me she really liked Bones and wanted me to watch it with her.  I didn’t know anything about it at all, but agreed to watch an episode with her, of course.  It turned out to be a procedural and it also turned out to have some really gross after-death medical stuff in it… but I was surprised to find out I liked it.  A lot.  The characters really resonated with me, and I wanted to see what would happen to them.  Megan and I started on Season 1, Episode 1 and kept on from there.  We started with Netflix, but pretty soon I just bought her the seasons as we got ready for the next one.  We finished Season 5 in time to start watching Season 6, airing currently.  (Note: Bones is the tie-in to the title of this entry, as the crew could easily discern Maxwell’s use of a silver hammer in killing his victims.)

I hate waiting a week (or two, or five) for the next episode.  In some ways it’s so much better to have a finished product – there’s a lot to enjoy, you can watch at your own pace, and you can see the storyline from start to finish.  It’s like a really long movie.  Of course, if the show is really good, it can be sad that it’s over, knowing there won’t be any more episodes (the aforementioned Firefly, Arrested Development, Wonderfalls…), but it can also be sort of a good thing.

One of the few shows I was allowed to watch growing up was ALF. For years afterwards I had fond memories of the cat-eating alien.  A couple of years ago I bought the entire run of ALF on DVD. The first two seasons were as great as I remembered. The third season was… just okay. The fourth season? Awful. Just awful.  There’s an instance of a show that should have stopped after two seasons, apparently.  So, yeah, more Arrested Development is a thing most fans want, me included.  But there’s a part of me that is sort of glad it ended when it did.  As it is, there’s this almost perfect package of the show.  If it had gone on longer, it might have gotten lousy, like so many shows do (you are required by law at this point to mention The Simpsons, and how it isn’t as good as it used to be, and about how the fourth season was the pinnacle).  Jerry Seinfeld famously decided to end the show while it was still wildly popular and very good.  There’s debate on whether or not that was a good thing, but I tend to agree with him.

It’s probably safest for me to only find good shows once they’re off the air.  That way I can enjoy them for what they are and don’t have to worry about them messing it up in the future.  The downside is that once I start liking a show, I want to devour it.  Megan and I would watch an episode or two of Bones a week, whereas on my own I probably would have watched a season in two weeks or less.

So what are some of your favorite shows?

January 30th, 2007

Waiting

My current song obsession is one I discovered watching Scrubs. I can’t recommend the show 100%, but it does some things very well. One thing it does well is balance comedy and tear-jerking drama almost perfectly, all within the same 22-minute episode. There are many episodes that have caused me to tear up, and they are invariably my favorite episodes.

Another thing Scrubs does well is use music to not only advance the plot but also capture a particular mood.

While I was sick last week I started Season One and ended up getting through all of it and Season Two. One of the characters in Season Two, Episode 13, “My Philosophy,” needed a transplant and prospects were grim. At one point J.D. (the main character) is talking to her about death and she says she hopes it’s like a big Broadway musical. As sometimes happens, things go bad and she doesn’t make it. At that point that show goes into “musical mode” and she and the cast sing this song:

Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
I’ll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

My real life to begin

But don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

On a clear day
I can see
See a very long way

While I think the music is beautiful, the staging of it on the show made it more poignant. You might not feel as attached to the characters, but seeing it might still help you see why it makes me tear up:

There’s something about that concept of “waiting for my real life to begin” that hits me. It’s the idea that all of the mistakes I’ve made up to this point were just practice and that the real deal is starting any minute now, so I’ll be able to start in on this plan I’ve got in mind.

I like the way the song makes me think. I’ve listened to it literally 20 times today. I’m sure I’ll burn out on it soon, but for now I’ll keep hitting replay.

I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin