Sunday, July 19, 2015

Binge watching

I know it's a bit late, but Dr. Sighted and I just finished watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix and I cannot imagine how Ron Swanson isn't everyone's favorite everything.  It's a strange sort of wistfulness when you complete a series, a termination of a universe (or, Indiana town on an Indiana night) for which there is nothing further.  Like when you get to the the end of your fruit by the foot.  That's what we watched when we are together.  Well, I got a pass to watch them without her initially, but once I started enjoying them, she wanted in on the action too.  It's really better, so that when I say, "This is *litrally* the best animal cracker I have ever eaten."

She, though, is closing in on home plate on a show all her own -- Pretty Little Liars.  I catch a few episodes here and there (maybe 30%?) and this show is bonkers.  Every show has a little bit of the "if any single episode happened to somebody it would be the most intense year of your life" every week, but this is in Grey's Anatomy territory.

Describing the plot is basically impossible.  So, I guess I'll put a spoiler warning here, but honestly, I have no idea if these will count or not because the whole experience is like a soap opera taking place on a zany murder mystery inside of an after school special.  There's the pretty one who is kind of dumb, the pretty one who is really smart, the pretty one who is making risky decisions with her future and the pretty lesbian.  It's not called Ugly Little Liars, after all.  Oh, and the lesbian one is multiracial.

Four high school girls are being harassed by what amounts to basically a Bond villain.  The bad guy knows everything about them, can be anywhere, has unlimited money and is super clever.  The biggest thing difference is that while we know that Blofeld wants to hijack nuclear weapons to ransom the world for lots of dollars, the bad guy in this show has no discernible motive -- since there are like four different bad guys, I think -- or sense of proportion.

The main characters begin likable and sympathetic, but as the story progresses, that stops being true.  This conceit can't last forever.  They are in high school, after all, and I'm pretty sure they were stressing over college at one point, and eventually they won't be pretty little liars anymore.  Then the show will make even less sense.  But Dr. Sighted will see it through to the end, and, consequently, so will I.  This universe feels different than Pawnee, though, and not just because it is still going on.  Pawnee was populated by likable people with credible motives.  Rosewood feels like just an excuse to put pretty people on camera together looking vulnerable.  Which, I guess, is the kind of thing that people like to binge watch.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Not long ago I discovered a podcast called James Bonding (which, when you search for it delightfully causes this to come up also [note: I do not endorse that service]) which has reawoken my interest in the movie franchise.  So I am rewatching the ones with which I am not as familiar as I used to be and the ones I just like watching.  I've mentioned my fandom of podcasts before, but these are like listening to fans talk about things they like.  I am convinced that every sports broadcast would be improved by simply having two well informed fans of one of the teams that have some chemistry call the game, because like 97% of the announcers are worse than having your county council replaced by an aggressive race of crab people that outlaws butter.  (Brent Musburger, you're in that 3% you magnificent bastard.)

Anyway, there are all kinds of comedians who talk about finding henchmen and talking about how incompetent they are in movies like this, and I have all those same questions.  But mostly, as an engineer, the questions that keep coming up for me as a I watch an army of technicians sit quietly at their workstations helping Stromburg in The Spy Who Loved Me end humanity are more about procurement.  There's a scene late in the movie where the henchmen are all wearing custom made Stromburg navy uniforms.  Where'd they come from?  Somebody had to make those.

Also, the plot of this movie hinges on a lot of big machines -- an underwater lair, the largest cargo ship in the world, and all sorts of vehicles that are blown up -- that have to come from somewhere.  And while they do establish early in the movie that he's one of the richest men in the world, helicopters are still expensive.  Another one of the in jokes is that the Russians know a lot about what the English are doing, and vice versa, but the bad guy has a secret submarine swallowing and underwater mansion including underwater aquarium, which makes sense, I guess.  I just can't believe that there isn't some chatty pipefitter who might mention at the local watering hole that he's working on a project that is just bananas.

Don't get me wrong, though -- I love these movies.  I own all of them (even Die Another Day) and this sort of supervillainous silliness is part of what makes it great.  I just wish I could be in the room when the writers were trying to explain to Cubby Broccoli just how they could fit two missiles plus 007's and XXX's luggage into a Lotus Esprit.  But, to quote Larry Miller in episode 22, "I don't know why Ursula Andress comes out with a knife.  Who cares!  It works."