Friday, July 29, 2011

True Bleedin’

Allow me some hyperbole.

Imagine if, after a few seasons, David Simon thought writing a show about the death of the American city and its more alienated underclasses had just gotten too darn hard. Instead, he started focusing on Bodie’s ever increasing baby mama drama and Poot’s burgeoning rap career.

This is essentially what Alan Ball and the writers of True Blood seem to be doing. Instead of using vampirism as an – admittedly heavy-handed – allegory for the LGBT community, they’ve just started indulging in every negative stereotype of THE HOMMER SEKSHUL known to man. Melodrama has always been par for the course in this series, and it’s even part of the fun, but the way everyone’s been acting like shrill, drama-lovin’, artificial conflict-generating divas is akin to having Stringer and Avon wear grillz, trick out their rides and appear on MTV Cribs. I’ll acknowledge that it must be insanely difficult to keep up the breakneck pace and endless cliffhangers of the first two seasons, but there’s been an awful lot of water with the wine (refrained from making a Tru Blood joke there) for the last 1.5 seasons.

I’ll also admit that it’s been slowwwwwly picking up this season, and both 3 and 4 have had awesome moments, characters and plots. It’s that very awesomeness that makes the draggy bits so frustrating. The solution here is relatively simple: keep a certain antagonistic, realistic, threatening, conservative anti-vampire element present in the show at all times. Keep the viewers aware that it’s tough being a vampire; even if you’re the nicest vamp possible, bad people wanna kill you just for who you are. “Threatening” is a key word here, because the writers have been treating the conservative human element as too much of a joke since the Fellowship of the Sun storyline. Which is another flaw that’s been creeping up: the show’s always been tongue-in-cheek, but the ironic distance that’s being created at this point is just getting too high, to the point where it’s hard to care for anyone on screen at all.

True Blood is at its best when dealing with the “real” world’s reactions to the supernatural world, as the veil is slowly lifted to reveal ever more fucked up shit behind it. The diva histrionics as a result of this are the seasonings that make True Blood the delight it usually is. After an awesomely campy start of the season in Fairyland, it’s mostly been treading water and pandering to Sookie/Eric shippers. Bill’s new role as the king of Louisiana and slowly decaying Pam have been the only highlights so far. These are two out of about seven or eight storylines.

Them’s my two cents: keep the politics and non-supernatural dangers fairly prevalent, and the cattiness will become entertaining again.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Scandal in Cybertronia

I will recount to you now a case so singular in its peculiarity and obstinacy that it vexed my friend Holmes to such a degree that the poor wretch considered renouncing his rather lucrative self-employment as a consulting detective.

Mrs. Hudson had just prepared breakfast as our boy brought in a gentleman of seemingly certain ill-repute. His unkempt beard was filled with crumbs of an altogether alien nature, his ascot ill-fitting and rather repulsively showing a great deal of his sizable underbelly. The chap had a nervous manner, born no doubt out of intense social reclusiveness. He bore a strange escutcheon upon his chest: a sort of medieval war-helm with two spiked ears on either side, shaped like an inverted trapezoid.

My friend Holmes bade him sit down, and the gentleman did so at once after nodding skittishly at me.

“Have you examined it?” he came right to the point.

Holmes crossed his hands under his great eagle-like nose, as he was wont to do when facing a particularly insidious problem.

“I have. The results were… disconcerting.”

“I don’t care, Holmes, I don’t care! There is a great legacy at stake here! What did that ruffian DO to it?”

“Calm down, my dear fellow. Have a cup of tea.”

“Get to the point, Holmes. I know of your reputation: if anyone can answer these questions, you can!”

I must admit, I was having difficulty keeping my composure at the rude manner of this early-morning intruder. Holmes spoke again before I could, however.

“And indeed, your questions are sure to be many.”

“COUNTLESS! I mean… why did Sentinel Prime not take the Matrix of Leadership when Optimus offered it? If he was going to sell them out anyway, wouldn’t that be a handy thing to have in your pocket?”

The man was mad. My eyes flickered towards Holmes, who seemed to be keeping a steely façade still.

“Allow me to answer a question with a question. Who shot Sentinel Prime down originally?”

What was this? Some sort of code privy only to my friend and this stranger? The man’s eyes widened.

“The… Decepticons, surely?”

“Why would the Decepticons shoot down the only person able to work the device they supposedly made the alliance for in the first place?”

“H-Holmes, stop it… I hired you to ANSWER questions, not… confound me but deeper!”

The stranger clenched his teeth, and started taking on a reddish hue.

“Why did they take the pillars but leave Sentinel on the lunar surface if he was the key? Surely Megatron must have known.”

The fat man brought his hands up to his temples in a panic. I understood the intent, if not the meaning, of Holmes’ words now. He was using the strangely emblazoned guest’s own madness against him, hoping to drive away the unpleasant company and increasingly foul smell.

“Stop it, Holmes… Stop it!”

Holmes rose out of his seat, a terrible sight to behold now in all his fury.

“Where does the Allspark fit into all this? Wasn’t the war on Cybertron originally about that? Why does a robot need a cloak? Is Washington not a much better demoralizing staging point for an invasion rather than the barren wastes of Illinois? Who gave that custodial crew military issue arms? How do a husband and wife of supposed middle-class means procure holiday transportation fit for supremely wealthy African entertainers? Why do robots have facial hair? WHY WAS MALKOVICH EVEN THERE?”

With such a primal cry of despair as I had never heard, and with surprising agility, the heavy-set man arose and flung himself through the window. Still screaming, he catapulted himself through Baker Street until he finally escaped our sight.

“What the devil was that all about, Holmes?”

“There goes a new breed of man, Watson. One that, if unchecked, will mean the downfall of civilization.”

“There are… more?”

But Holmes was, in his typical restlessness of mind, already focusing on a new problem that presented itself.

“Are you free tonight, Watson? I’ve been informed of the presence of a ballet company in town that I have not yet had the pleasure of witnessing.”

I consented, as I thoroughly enjoyed bears in small hansoms.