Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The last Four: Final Thoughts.

The Mighty Boosh is like an ice cream sandwich. It is talented at being an ice cream sandwich and tastes delicious, but it’s not a more high-brow dessert like tiramisu. It’s not meant to be. You don't even want it to be, because you're having so much fun eating the ice cream sandwich that it is all that you feel. This is a show that’s meant to make you laugh (and possibly feel like you’re tripping a ‘lil bit?).

There are so many memorable bits in the show. Just in the episode I watched for this project entitled "Charlie", there are at least four joke segments I think of often in my everyday life. I could bore you with the description of said shenanigans, but instead I shall pick my favorite. At the beginning of the episode Vince and Howard are talking at work as they distribute seeds. They work in a zoo. The following exchange occurs:

Vince: Come on Howard, put some energy into it! Get involved!
Howard: I'm carrying a bucket of seed. How am I supposed to get involved in that?
Vince: This is the best job in the zoo! Millet distribution.
Howard: There's something wrong with you. You know that, don't you?
Vince: What do you mean?
Howard: You're always happy, aren't you? Everything's "fun" for you. You see a peanut, the day's off to a good start. You witness some soil, it's a jamboree for Vince Noir. I need something more.
Vince: I think it's this poncho. I mean, it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho.

The "plotline", in as much as The Mighty Boosh ever employs a plot, follows with Howard attempting to become a writer, Vince annoying him, then getting his children's books about a wad of gum named Charlie published himself.

The episode ends with the following:

The Mighty Boosh is this exact flavor of cute insanity all the time. It, like the ice cream sandwich, makes no sense, but once you've experienced it you won't ever forget it. Most of the jokes are visual. If you enjoy the clip above, more can be found on YouTube if you hunt around a bit. There's no need to watch the episodes in any kind of order.

What I like most about Star Trek: The Next Generation (besides space, one of my top five onscreen settings of all time) is the philosophy. The show regularly questioned everything, turning the ideals we've long held in our society on their heads, picking issues apart and putting back only the most logical, moral, and righteous elements.

“The Measure of a Man” questions the personhood of Data, the show’s android. Is he the property of StarFleet or does he belong to himself? Data may profess to not have feelings, but he has attachments and he has opinions. He’s kind of like an autism surrogate. Data is my favorite character in any Star Trek franchise, because I feel I can relate to him more than any other character. I’m not fiery like B’Elanna (from Voyager, she’s half Klingon). I’m not authoritative like Spock. I’m not as unfailingly good as Picard. I'm not as kind as Deanna Troi (the empathic Betazoid). But I can see myself in Data; mostly sexless (though “fully functional”), logical, uncomprehending-of-sarcasm, cat-having Data.

Though this episode does not pass the Bechdel Test, like the rest of the series, there are women in authority and no sexism present anywhere, so I shall let it slide. Star Trek, the entire franchise (even, for its time, the original series), represents females in a positive and (sadly still) forward-thinking light.

This episode speaks to slavery and personhood in a very succinct manner. It delivers morality in that sophisticated way that Star Trek is known to do. The episode is of course focused on Data, but there’s an Emmy-worthy smackdown by Captain Jean-Luc Picard during Data’s trial at the end that is an absolute show-stopper. I looooooove watching that man lay the smack down!

This show was a pioneer in forward-thinking diversity. I noted several characters of non-white races in just this episode alone, not to mention the entire franchise’s use of “alien” presence to denote diversity acceptance. Most shows today don’t have such a diverse cast and this show aired in the ‘80s. Oh how we have backslid.

It was difficult for me to pick a favorite episode of this series, not because I had so many, but because I don't remember them individually. I've only been through the series once, over the course of a few years with Michael, usually before bed. I've slept through many of these episodes. I like the show a great deal, but putting it on feels like hanging out with the characters to me. I don't feel the pressure to pay attention to all the details. I just enjoy the process of wishing I were among them. 

That said, this episode truly had my attention, both the first time I saw it and last night when I watched it again. It's a great stand-alone episode. Watch it on Netflix if you've interest. If you like it, the series is for you and congratulations. You are now a trekkie.

I find the premise of Dollhouse to be very intriguing. A person signs a five year contract with a company that will back your brain-substance and personality up on a hard drive before wiping it, leaving that previously occupied brain-space to imprint personalities as paying clients see fit. In return, you will be wealthy for life after your five year contract. As a bonus perk, traumatic memories can be left out of your self-imprint before it's put back into your head. It’s essentially slavery and prostitution, but you won’t remember any of it and you’ll be rich and happy when you wake up. That’s a job I might consider signing up for…which I guess makes me a whore. Whatevs.

I think the parallels between prostitution and acting are at the surface of the metaphor. Each episode of this show takes you deeper into the rabbit-hole of this premise. It is so intriguing. This is definitely the most morally-ambiguous and philosophical of the Whedon shows, and I still haven’t sorted out if Joss is an asshole or a pioneer for making it. I’ve only watched the show through twice, and it only survived two seasons, but there was no question that "Echoes" is my favorite episode.

I particularly enjoy episodes of television that take the characters out of their typical personas. It is the foundation of Dollhouse to do this every episode, though watching Eliza Dushku become varying shades of Eliza Dushku isn't quite as enjoyable as the performances of almost every other actor on the show. I love Eliza as Faith on Buffy, but she doesn't have quite the range that this role demanded of her. "Echoes" uses her a bit less while using Topher and Adele a lot more, as accidentally-drugged playmates. They are so much fun together, like stoned teenagers. It is almost as enjoyable as watching Giles become a teenager again in Buffy's "Band Candy". 

Being a Joss Whedon enterprise, there isn't a problem with female representation. Every group of characters has equal numbers of men and women. At this point (2009) in Whedon's career, there's not a problem with racial diversity here either. The show is enjoyable, pretty, and makes you think. Enough said about that, for now.

The episode of Gilmore Girls I watched is "Those Are Strings, Pinocchio". It's the one where Rory graduates from a very prestigious high school as valedictorian and the entire town of Star's Hollow shares in her joy, like they've shared in all the joys of Rory Gilmore throughout her entire existence, 'cause she's got beer-flavored nipples.
Gilmore Girls is a fast-paced witty-dialogue show about the relationship between a young mother (she had Rory at 16) and her daughter. It reminds me of how close my mom and I are, except we are not from money and the entire town of Joplin doesn't adore me like Star's Hollow adores Rory. Like Rory, I read a lot, though I was no valedictorian.

My mother and I watched this show as it was on and then started it over, watching an episode a week almost every week since then. It's so much our thing that we call Thursdays "Gilmore Girl Night". There are great characters in this show, including the cutest Melissa McCarthy as a klutzy chef.
Every female character on this show is an excellent example of a woman that is intelligent and carved her own path ruthlessly and without assistance from men. Also, there's so much family drama in this show that one doesn't need to fulfill their own family dramatic moments. It's like if reality TV were a scripted feminist whirlwind. There's a lot of walking-while-talking scenes in this show. I love those.

I think you've waited long enough. My Top Ten TV Shows of All Time will appear on this very blog...sometime before midnight, 'cause they HAVE to be done by then.