Friday, February 02, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of February 2nd, 2007)

If you were to look at my sidebar, Gentle Reader, you may notice that I have pulled 2 TV shows from my "Current Pop Culture" list: The Dresden Files and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. We all shouldn't be surprised about the Dresden Files, although it's only been two weeks, but Studio 60 was actually a difficult decision to make.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

My Sister Feminists at The Hathor Legacy have intelligently and fairly discussed the latest plotlines in Studio 60, and I feel I need not reinvent the wheel, when they have created such a lovely one for us. Suffice to say that I adore Aaron Sorkin, and am deeply, deeply disappointed in the soap-opera-ish direction Studio 60 has taken. The occasional sentimentality we see on The West Wing or Sports Night is wildly overdone here. I began the showing caring about Josh... I mean, Danny, and by this Monday night's episode, ended completely creeped out by his stalker-boy persona. Even more so, I was disappointed with the "it's okay, I'm sorry, really" resolution to the stalker-boy problem.

In short, this show has disappointed me, and while I hung on, bravely and almost desperately, it's time to Move On.

The Dresden Files

Losing this show, Dear Reader, doesn't hurt as much as Studio 60, but perhaps it's because I only had a two-episode commitment. I adore Jim Butcher's novels. Mr. Reads and I read the entire series this summer, and while I admit that my interest initially came from the fact of hearing my beloved James Marsters narrate the audio books that Mr. Reads was listening to, I became hooked to the paper versions, utterly and completely. Sure, there are some Series Problems, as all series have their problems—-sometimes too convenient plot points, economy of character problems, excess of character problems, etc.—-but I truly care for Harry and the motley crew of characters he has with him. In truth, by the end of the last book, any doubts I may have had about the series were completely gone.

But where the television series fails is exactly where the novel series succeeds: I don't know why I should like my characters. Harry Dresden is a wizard... I guess. At least, someone said that, once. He's a wizard because... his father was a magician??? There's a ghost that... lives in a skull? Harry does magic... maybe? Only once an episode, really, and none of that magic is in any way impressive or even seemingly necessary.

I don't know if you've read The Dresden Files, Gentle Reader, but one of the neatest things about Butcher's character is that technology gets a little freaky whenever Harry gets near. That is to say, magic futzes with technology. Definitely not a new concept, truly, but with Harry Dresden, Butcher takes it to the Nth degree. Harry Dresden cannot have electric lights, or a refrigerator, or central heat, or a car made after, say, 1972. So his icebox—-complete with real ice—-and candles, and multitudes of rugs and tapestries, and his ancient VW Bug that has been repaired so many times it is the Bug with the Technicolor Paint-Coat, are nothing but absolutely charming.

There is none of that charm in the television series.

In fact, one of the things that we-—as Comic Book Fans, that is—-should love about Harry Dresden is that he is, in some sense, a magical Peter Parker. In fact, Harry even says that he subscribes to the Tao of Peter Parker. That's just Sheer Genius, Friends, because in the end, it's true. Harry does what he does, and does it well, and he's a bit awkward and bumbling but that's what's so bloody charming about him. That's where he shines.

The Dresden Files is a television show about magic, without any magic, about a wizard, without letting us know the wizard, and truly, I liked this supernatural investigator show much better when it was called Buffy, or Angel, or X-Files. While the lead actor has the feel for Harry, he doesn't have writers giving him enough to work with. And it's a shame, truly, because there's so much wealth in Butcher's series to work with.

Further Viewings

Mr. Reads and I have culled down our television addictions quite seriously, and we've a few older series we're plugging through at the moment. The British Office, for one, and another fascinating show called Waking the Dead I discovered in England (God Bless You, Netflix, truly). On the Ms. Reads agenda is Regency House Party which is, thus far, incredibly charming, and we are currently on Season 8 of The X-Files. Among all of this, Gentle Reader? I've finished the draft of My Dissertation Chapter, and after a weekend-long rewrite, will turn it into the Director next week. That means, officially, I'm halfway finished with The First Draft. Let us huzzah! and celebrate my minor writing success, before I start the once-again painful process of Beginning The Next Chapter.

9 comments:

Diana said...

I think you're making a mistake taking S60 off your list. This last episode had, by far, the best womens' voices, I've ever seen Sorkin do - from Jordan's insights to Lucy's ripping Tom apart for lying.

Sorkin has learned a great deal since his West Wing days in regards to women.

R said...

I just tried to post a comment but I don't think it worked, so if this sentiment goes through twice, sorry!

What I wanted to say is: Congrats on the dissertation progress! Woooo!

Skeets said...

Re: Studio 60

I wasn't too pleased with Danny becoming all stalker-like, either. But at least he was smart enough to admit he'd screwed up, and pretty quickly too. Only took one episode.

I'm not too fond of the soapy direction the show is taking either. I was hoping it would continue its scathing criticism about the state of entertainment. Have they already run out of things to say?

Fanboy said...

I think you were 3 months overdue on Studio 60, but we've talked about it before. Great cast, but so contrived. Plus, I hear they're pulling it from the schedule for a bit.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Diana,
I think you're making a mistake taking S60 off your list. This last episode had, by far, the best womens' voices, I've ever seen Sorkin do - from Jordan's insights to Lucy's ripping Tom apart for lying.

Compared to the previous week's episode, yes, absolutely. I'd agree with you. But I actually disagree with your comment:
Sorkin has learned a great deal since his West Wing days in regards to women.

I think WW demonstrated more diversity and understanding than S60 ever did. Maybe because the people on S60 feel like caricatures to me.
:( I wasn't happy about dropping it, I assure you, because I wanted so desperately for it to be great. I just couldn't wait any longer.
I'm going to keep my ear to the ground, though, and listen out for any vast improvements.
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Revena,
I just tried to post a comment but I don't think it worked, so if this sentiment goes through twice, sorry!

What I wanted to say is: Congrats on the dissertation progress! Woooo!


Thanks! And no worries; double-dissertation joy is always welcome, and greatly needed ;)
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Skeets,
I wasn't too pleased with Danny becoming all stalker-like, either. But at least he was smart enough to admit he'd screwed up, and pretty quickly too. Only took one episode.

Yes, true, but it felt a little too rushed, you know? I wanted them to develop the reasons--like he takes on charity cases, or has a martyr/save the world complex.

I'm not too fond of the soapy direction the show is taking either. I was hoping it would continue its scathing criticism about the state of entertainment. Have they already run out of things to say?

Exactly! Come on, giving in to reality tv already? I could understand if that woman was proposing the next Regency House Party, but that??
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Mr. Fanboy,
I think you were 3 months overdue on Studio 60, but we've talked about it before. Great cast, but so contrived. Plus, I hear they're pulling it from the schedule for a bit.

I am overdue, I admit :) But I learned my lesson, yes?
Ciao,
Amy

Fanboy said...

Ha, ha. I thought of you as I rushed to turn it off after Heroes last night.