Sunday, June 07, 2015

TV: Binging

. . . and purging.

Let's be honest, that is the phrase.

Binging and purging.

And it's not a good thing.

We recognize that when it comes to food.  Why won't we do the same with regard to TV shows?


Sense8 is the latest Netflix series.

It's also the latest project from Lana and Andy Warchowski, film making siblings who found huge success with The Matrix trilogy and who bombed recently with Jupiter Ascending.

Unlike many people, we happen to really enjoy Jupiter Ascending.

We also think it will be seen as a classic film in time.

However, we're not fan girlz who abandon critical thinking.

Meaning, the Warchoskis are the reason the film bombed at the box office.

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis co-star in the film.

Mila looks like Mila.


Was he supposed to be a 70s porn star?

There is the ridiculous eye brows, yes.  Then there's the ridiculous facial hair.

And, here's the big problem for audiences -- as test cards from teenagers noted at numerous previews: Where was Channing's pit hair?

When pit hair keeps coming up at previews, you shouldn't dismiss it.

In addition to the eye brows and the facial hair, the film also gave Channing animal ears.


And wings.

Don't forget the wings.

That's a lot to go along with.

And that's before you remove Channing's pit hair.

When you do that, an uneasy youth audience becomes outright scared.

Like it or not, Lana's a woman who was born in a man's body.

We're not mocking her.

We are noting that she and her brother make films whose target audience includes a lot of teens.

Those teens can get a little nervous at times.

And when you go too far with the look for Channing, then you lose them.

Removing Channing's pit hair made them uncomfortable with the character and with the film.

He's a character in transition.

Is he supposed to be Lana?

That's what teen audience are obsessing over and had Channing had his (minimally) hairy pits, they wouldn't be wondering about what sort of transformation was being done in the film to Channing.

The brother and sister team has always pushed the limits.

They did so very successfully in Bound and in The Matrix.

Fortunately for everyone, Sense8 is another success.

There's not a false note in the entire 12 episodes.

They even pull off a group sing-along of Four Non Blondes' "What's Going On?"

They even pull off a sci-fi conspiracy series that spends far more time on character than it does suspense.

But what they struggle to pull off is a lasting impression.

Maybe a lasting impression of  Max Riemelt's cock.

Male frontal nudity is still so rare that the sight of that member may remain in the brain -- even after you forget that Max and his impressive staff show up at the non-wedding of Kala (Tina Desai).

You may remember that they're brilliant in their roles and that so are Ami Ameen, Doona Bae, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Tuppence Middleton, Alfonso Herrera, Jamie Clayton, Erendira Ibarra, Brian J. Smith and both his biceps and the blood vessel standing out in the center of each bicep.

You might really remember how Jamie Clayton's performance connects and how the scenes with Nomi and her family underscore that your issues with transpeople are your issues.  They have nothing to do with anything but how you react and if that's intolerance, that's on you.  A certain female blogger has a nasty case of transphobia.  That's her problem.  And the series especially succeeds when it shows Nomi's mother and the petty tantrums the woman has because she will not accept that Nomi is Nomi and not Michael.

This might be one of the most powerful secondary stories in the first season of Sense8.

And maybe you'll remember it.

You might even remember that the villains come to life and are so much more than stock characters.

But will you really appreciate the care and attention that went into this artistic creation?

How can you?

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand

-- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album Dog Eat Dog

Sense8 is a show to ponder and explore, to think about.

And it's just really hard to do that when you're streaming 12 episodes in a row.

Netflix continues to release all their shows (save one which is a joint-production with Canadian television) in a huge dump.

It does not make for effective television.

It does leave you drained and overwhelmed.

And promising yourself, riddled with guilt while you wipe away the sweat and splash cold water on your face, that this is the last time you binge and purge.

Netflix pretends like its model is something new.

It's not.

It's basic cable TV.

TV Land and Lifetime, at the same time, were pioneering this model with marathons -- that's what they were called then, not 'binging' -- of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and thirty-something.

Sense8 is daring entertainment.

It's actually a great deal more than that.

But the model Netflix wants to work with undermines the development of a show like this -- the most pioneering sci-fi television since Star Trek debuted in the '60s.

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