Monday, December 23, 2019

TV: THE WATCHER and the debate

NETFLIX is serving up a new show, THE WATCHER.  It's not hideous but it's also not as good as it should be.


Henry Cavill is not miscast.  He is mis-make up-ed.  And mis-wigged.  What's up with the contacts?  Why do you hire someone with Henry's attractive eyes and then cover them up with contacts?  Why do you hire someone with Henry's jawline and then screw up his looks with a tacky, long wig.

Oh, it's reality, is it?

In a fantasy show, mind you, reality?

We're like Sandra Bernhardt in that we prefer our television fantasy shows non-realistic.  Like Sandra, we enjoy the episodes of the sixties series THE WILD WILD WEST, in part, because the female guest stars wear sixties period eye make up -- eye make up not present in the Old West.

Henry's jaw line is never going to work with a long wig.  That's reality.  That's the real reality that the creators of this show should have grasped.  There will be a season two and the first thing the show runner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, needs to do is to address the hair issue.  There's no reason in the world that Henry Cavill needs to wear a wig for this show.  If he's going to wear a wig, however, they need to work hard on the wig they choose and how they style it.  We'd argue that the hair on the wig needs to be pulled back -- in part or in full -- and it needs to be no longer than Kurt Cobain's hair was at the height of Nirvana.  But we'd argue even louder that there's no need for him to wear a wig to begin with.

After that, it would be nice if she'd adjust the bro-mosphere that wafts off the show from time to time.

There's no need for all the female nudity in episode one unless the show's going to show male nudity.  Henry's already done that in THE TUDORS (2007 through 2010) and the STARZ series SPARTACUS (2010 through 2013) also featured male nudity.

So what's the hang up for THE WATCHER?  NETFLIX really needs to address their problem with male nudity.  They do a tiny, blink and you miss it peen scene with a Chris Pine, for example, and try to make it into the moment of the century but they can't stop pimping female nudity.  And if a show dares to treat the male and the female form as both worth displaying (see SENSE8), NETFLIX goes into a panic and cancels the show.

The streaming services are not dealing with censors.  And you can tell that watching NETFLIX or AMAZON PRIME -- as you see women being filmed nude over and over.  But let the neocon fantasy JACK RYAN have the title male character take a shower and suddenly the camera moves so carefully that you don't see ass or junk.

We're not opposed to nudity.  We are opposed to inequality.

It is not fair to put the female form on display and not do the same with the male form.

If you're going to make an actress appear nude on camera, you better do the same for the actors.

There's a lot of inequality going on all around the country.

We saw that Thursday night at the PBS-POLITICO hosted Democratic Party presidential candidates debate.  We saw it especially with Tiny Pete.

We weren't the only ones who saw it.

I am interested in the fact that Mayor Pete is mute when Bernie and Biden attack but goes into TED talk mode against the ladies.

The way that Pete Buttigieg cannot even HIDE his anger at women like Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, & Amy Klobuchar for legitimately criticizing him ON THE DEBATE STAGE is HIGHLY alarming.

I can't get past Mayor Pete saying to Warren, "Now, supposing you went home and felt the holiday spirit — I know this isn’t likely, but stay with me". She made a measured criticism of his fundraising strategy. He replied by basically calling her a harpy.

His anger at Tulsi was demonstrated in an earlier debate.  The anger that he exposes, in debate after debate, towards women puts him in the tradition of gay men who are misogynist -- a sub-group of gay men that's always been with us but whose numbers hopefully dwindle each year.  Put that with Tiny Pete's frequent problems with reproductive rights and women have every reason to be concerned about Tiny Pete.  We find it amazing that, since the 2016 election, many Democrats have insisted "Vote Like A Black Woman" but, currently, many are disrespecting women of color as they register distaste for Tiny Pete.

There was more sexism on stage than just the underqualified candidate.  After all, Joe Biden was on the stage.  And he disrespected women.

Akbar Shahid Ahmed (HUFFINGTON POST) noted the disrespect Joe showered upon journalist and moderator Amna Nawez because Nawez pronounced "Afghanistan" correctly.  There was also his way of interrupting this last debate.  Instead of cutting women off by interrupting them with words, Joe thought it was 'cute' to steal attention when, for example, Elizabeth Warren was speaking in an exchange with Tiny Pete -- that's when Joe decided to take a little walk.  That was disrespectful.

The next time he pulls that stunt in a debate, he needs to be called on it.  He knows what he's doing.  He was trying to weaken the argument Elizabeth was knowing, he was trying to make the audience ignore her.

We can ignore a lot of minor things -- and, to enjoy THE WATCHER, you have to.

Take the camera work.  It's hideous.

We were trying to figure out what the deal was?  Were they pursuing new styles?

The last real revolution in television cinematography took place in the early eighties.  It happened on GENERAL HOSPITAL while Gloria Monty was producer.  She wanted rhythms and would snap throughout a scene indicating cuts and beats.  If the directors could provide it, she gave them free reign.  And those directors, people like Marlena Laird, revolutionized television in a way that quickly spread to primetime but spread without Laird or her colleagues getting the credit that they deserved.

Was THE WATCHER attempting to do something similar?

We think it might be.  Maybe.

It appears to be stealing from the video game ELDER SCROLLS.  It closes in tight and frames shots the way the video game does.  But the video game is working with animation, not real people.  Point, it's not working for real people.  They look squat and unattractive -- male or female.

Worst of all, they're frequently out of focus.

The first time this was most obvious to us was in episode one around the 19 minute mark when four characters were seated at a table.  As the footage cuts from one camera to another, watch how the characters go in and out of focus.  And notice how around 19 minutes and 48 seconds, as the actress on the far left leans in to speak -- in the same shot -- she suddenly comes into focus.  This happens again at the 20:00 mark in the same scene.

In fact, it happens over and over and it's lousy camera work.

The show has a sound and strong narrative.  Cavill leads a strong cast.  There's so much to praise here.  But, let's be clear, there's a great deal that needs to be fixed before season two starts filming.

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