Monday, February 05, 2018

TV: Look who's naked and look who isn't

It was Katy Perry who sang, "Word on the street, you got somethin' to show me, me/ Magical, colorful, Mr. Mystery, ee I'm intrigued, for a peek/ heard it's fascinating/ Come on baby let me see/ What you're hiding underneath."

And it was us who kept thinking of Perry's "Peacock" while watching ALTERED CARBON.

Seems like everyone was disrobing and women were showing everything.

But then there's Joel Kinnaman in the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs and he shows off his butt, his rear, his tail bone, his tush, his behind, his ass, his culo, his glutes, his can -- repeatedly, in fact, make it a drinking game -- but his manroot never shows.

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It's not a minor issue -- regardless of the size of Joel's pleasure pump -- because Martha Higareda, as the female lead police detective Ortega, has to do full frontal and women's bodies are repeatedly used as ornament and as props for violence.

As Sophie Gilbert (THE ATLANTIC) observes, "Scene after scene features gory shootouts, and there are recurring interludes of stabbings, butchered bodies, and graphic torture. All too often these scenes involve women, which feels provocative at best and exploitative at worst. In one particularly gratuitous moment, a sex worker’s body is seen butterflied on an autopsy table, while another fight scene features a woman’s various clones littered naked around a room like sexually explicit Barbie dolls."

In addition, there's something deeply homophobic about the world ALTERED CARBON is set in.

2384 and where are the gay characters?

Better yet, why is gender even an issue?

All the couples are male-female despite the fact that most aren't in bodies they were born in.

In this distant future, your body is a sleeve and, if you die, you can be brought back in another sleeve.

So why is everyone paired off in boy-girl couples like they're on Noah's Arc or trapped in a Ron Howard film?

Ortega punches out a criminal in custody early on.  He's knocked out cold.  She expects the ones who brought him in to take to holding but they leave him on the ground and tell her he's her problem.

It's Day of the Dead and she decides it's the perfect time to let her dead grandmother drop by for a visit.

The grandma is excited to be back and excited to be in a man's body ("I'm peeing standing up!" she cries out at one point).

So why are we stuck in a binary construct?

Is this a Philip Dick novel people have spent decades attempting to turn into a film or TV series?


Richard K. Morgan's book that the NETFLIX series is based upon came out in 2002.  Six years later, he began a fantasy trilogy (kicking off with THE STEEL REMAINS) where the main character was gay -- and his family ostracized him for it.

The worlds we create.

Alice Walker tries to create the world she can see, a better one just around the corner, others appear to have no vision at all.

We see that as a detriment to creating science fiction.

But time and again, we're sold so-called science fiction shows -- REVOLUTION comes to mind, as does JERICHO -- where the world these characters inhabit possess greater gender constructs than the United States in the 1950s.

Why would you do that?

Why would you go to the trouble of creating a new world that's not new at all?

That's the question ALTERED CARBON really needs to answer.

It's big on scenic atmosphere --Lawrence G. Paul, David Snyder, Linda DeScenna, Leslie Frankenheimer, Thomas L. Roysden and Peg Cummings should have all received film credit since their work on BLADE RUNNER is tossed all over the screen in what polite company would call a homage.

How state of the art that -- stealing from a 1982 film for the look of your 2018 ten-episode series.

It also packs in a lot of cliches from film noir and neo noir while somehow leaving out the femme fatale.

Were NETFLIX to remake GILDA next year, you sort of get the feeling  they'd title it GLEN  that Kyle Chandler would play Johnny and want to steal away Glen, Ballin Mundson's accountant, because of book keeping skills.  And, because Mo'Nique nailed it, Glen would be played by Oliver Platt.

That actually might be more interesting than ALTERED CARBON which spins a lot of wheels while going nowhere.

Yes, around episode six, the action and story picks up, but six episodes into a ten episode series?  That's not praise.  That's an indication that more work should have gone into the script.

A lot of work went into make up -- if only in covering up all of Joel Kinnaman's real life tattoos.


There's no role here.

He can act, he proved that in THE KILLING.

Here he proves he has enough star power to hold your attention when nothing happens in scene after scene.


They prove that what really bothered them about fan favorite SENSE8 was that it wasn't run-of-the-mill and actually created a world we recognized as today and not sixty or so years ago.

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