Last Week: Tears in Rain

Last week I picked up my old hardback of Frank Herbert’s Dune for a reread. Continued reading the frankly miraculous and perfect Vol.4 Amazing Spider Man Omnibus (it’s like I’m ten all over again), watched quite a bit of new stuff on tv and was saddened to read the news of Rutger Hauer’s death at the age of 75. We’re all getting older and 1982 seems such a long time ago, even more so with Rutger’s passing.

rutgerAs anyone familiar with this blog over the years will know, Blade Runner is my favourite movie- it remains the most intense cinematic experience of my life. Its a dark irony that we are now living in 2019, the year in which the film is set, which back in 1982 was still a lifetime away. To paraphrase Rutger, all those years lost in time like tears in rain. I have watched that film so many times, over 200 most likely (I used to keep count but gave up at around 100) and I have always been fascinated by Rutger’s performance as Roy Batty. Mercurial, bewitching, childlike, feral… one of the biggest achievements of the film was transforming a one-note and frankly incidental character from the book into possibly the true star of the film. Watching Blade Runner, there is always the sense that Rutger knew he was playing the part of a lifetime and seized every opportunity to maximise the performance and every magical cinematic moment. So many things came right for the film- the perfect director, the perfect composer, the perfect cinematographer, visual effects artists, editor, production designers and futurist… and Rutger was the perfect actor to play Roy Batty. He seems to know that in every single scene he is in.

Over the years I would be a bit of a Rutger fanboy, fascinated to see him in other roles (although somehow I never saw him in The Hitcher, must rectify that), from Flesh & Blood to Dark Knight and of course those Guinness ads. Nothing really approached the greatness of Roy Batty, and in particular the Tears in Rain speech that became one of the most famous and quoted scenes in film history. Nothing could ever equal it, I guess, and I marvel that Rutger evidently handled this fact well over the years. I imagine it might have haunted some actors to be in the shadow of something like that forever: thank goodness his biography wasn’t titled ‘I Am Not Roy!’

another1Katee Sackhoff  of course has a famous genre character of her own, as Battlestar Galactica‘s reimagined Starbuck. She’s continued a very successful career since and seems at peace with Starbuck being her defining role, but goodness me she’s backed a turkey with Another Life, the new sci-fi show on Netflix. Since my post the other day I’ve watched a few more episodes and Good Lord it’s just gotten worse. Its abominable, frankly, and I’ve not been cheered up by discovering that what I mistakenly thought was an eight-part show is in fact ten episodes. Its really becoming hard work to get through. The last episode was what I like to call the ‘Space:1999 episode’ which means it was so bad it’s like the last forty years of sci-fi television never happened. Shows are rarely that bad, although Nightflyers pulled it off too. Two episodes after the crew was nearly all killed by an alien infection from a rogue moon, they now land on an Earth-like planet and sample the native fruit etc by, er, just going ahead and eating it, breath the local air and don’t even wear gloves. One character gets a scratch off a thorn and nearly loses his leg in mere seconds from a deadly infection, and another two walk into a colourful forest glade from the Annihilation set and get intoxicated  by hallucinogenic drugs given off by the flora. In another episode, an alien hunts and kills the crew on the spaceship one by one until it turns out it’s all a hypersleep dream. In the last episode I watched, an alien bug brought onboard from that Earth-like planet fraks up some wiring which nearly wipes out the ship, everyone only saved by the obnoxious always-bitching communications woman who has continuously failed to get communications up and running, who sacrifices herself and ends the show as a bloody puddle. So I guess they’ll never get communications up. Maybe the show will amaze me with an amazing finale twist, but I doubt it.

The next season of The Expanse, not arriving until December, seems so long away.

While I dedicate far too much time here writing about Another Life, and also Star Trek: Discovery prior to that, I just feel I need to point out really bad scripts and creative choices. Another Life is truly abominable and should never have gotten filmed in the state its in. Sackhoff is actually a producer on the show so probably sees it as a career progression, but that only reinforces her guilt for the whole thing being so bad, it’s not as if she’s just an actor trying to make the best of the scripts she’s given. It is very true that some parts of the creative business in Hollywood and beyond are taking the streaming giants of Netflix and Amazon for a ride. There is no quality control, it seems, when the main objective is just to get access to that streaming pot of gold. I’ve ranted about this before and I’m certain I will do so again. Of course the streaming giants are party to the guilt themselves because they just seem to be throwing money at everything in the hope something sticks, but genre shows really are taking steps backwards of late and it’s a worrying development. I’m certainly no professional and have no story in print anywhere, but I could write a better show than Another Life – there should, surely, be a quality distinction between what passes for professional script writing and what is often dismissively termed ‘fan fiction’ but of late I have to wonder. Maybe us amateurs deserve a shot, doubt we could do any worse.

Except maybe that’s the point. Maybe, as I have noted before, the geeks finally have inherited the Earth (or Hollywood, certainly) and all this mess is simply because too many geeks/amateurs think they can write scripts or be showrunners. It does seem curious that Another Life seems to be ripping off a different tv show/movie every episode, and that Star Trek: Discovery was riddled with nods to Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Inception etc.  so much so that it seldom seemed like Star Trek at all.




5 thoughts on “Last Week: Tears in Rain

    1. You’re most welcome. I dare you to just watch the first episode, you’ll be thanking even more profusely afterwards, realising what you’ve been warned off….

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Random comments:

    I re-read Dune Messiah the other week for the first time since 1980. Once I got used to the pace (the chapters/scenes seemed at first to go on twice as long as necessary), I really enjoyed it. I think l’ll definitely give Dune another read before the film comes out.
    I’ve also been enjoying the Ice & Fire YouTube tutorials about the Dune Universe, so much so that picked up the two books I haven’t read (Heretics and Chapter House) for a couple of quid at the local charity shop.

    I read your proper post on ST:D (unfortunate acronym there) with bemusement recently. I honestly don’t know why you expect it to be ‘like Star Trek’ when nothing since the OS has felt like it. Not even the movies, which were very much their own thing, as was TNG, and then DS9 and then Voyager etc etc. That OS feeling isn’t ever coming back, and I’m not sure why you’d want it to? It’s nice seeing a shiny modernised Enterprise but I don’t know that it’s a ship I want to see even more of now. A bit restrictive.

    I agree with your problems with the writing, but I seriously disagree about the characters. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re no less interesting than the supporting cast of the OS back in their day.
    I mean, what was Chekhov beyond being Russian and a bit younger? Sulu beyond being Asiatic? Scotty beyond being a bit gruff and Scottish? Uhura was black and sexy, and…?

    I know Discovery is all over the place in terms of tone and story and general ‘what is this show, exactly?’ – a whole other conversation – but the characters have been what made me smile. I liked Dettma (spelling?) the navigator, she was like a regular person, especially when you see her snogging someone at a petty. And I would have liked to have gotten to know what Ariel was all about before they killed her off suddenly. And Tilly is lovely! A nice, likeable person who’s completely reliable! They’re all a damn sight more interesting than bearded Emo-Spock, who doesn’t act remotely like any iteration of Spock, and shouldn’t really have been Spock at all.

    I recently picked up a CDi/Video disc of ST:III from 1992 as I’d never watched anything on the format before. It was odd watching something in low-quality PAL, cropped to 4:3, with the old PAL 4% speed up on the audio. Almost nostalgic.

    As regards Sackhoff: well, she was great in BSG, but maybe she doesn’t have the range to do other things? That and the curse of having a career-defining role. And I’d imagine she’s doing this show because there are always bills to pay. Eventually a career becomes work, and you just have to take what you can get.

    Footnote: did you ever see this sketch?

    1. Aha great sketch- just made me nostalgic for BSG, Christ it was so good.Thank God I had to watch it weekly over the years when it was on-air, if I’d had the boxsets and binged it the first time, that would be me losing my life to it. Unlike some, I even adored the ending. Take that GOT fans!

      I guess we’ll just have to disagree about ST:D, I mean, they had to blindfold Tilly in a Jefferies tube to fix the ship because it was a drunken party trick of hers? The black communication officer with zero personality, or anybody else on the ship, horrible characters/writing. TOS is old and is of its day, but you knew who was who. I don’t think the bridge crew even had names in season one. That’s appalling. I think the dynamic of revolving around Burnham as The Chosen One was the biggest mistake, ST was always an ensemble show to me. They only developed the cyborg character so they could kill her off an episode later. God, who were the showrunners/writing team?

      Mind, Another Life is a whole other level of shit that actually makes ST:D seem competent.

      I am so excited for Villenueve’s Dune. I am so curious regards the ‘look’ of it, the sets, the costumes, the whole thing. I suppose this is the best of times, before any stills or teaser or trailer, anything seems possible. If anything I’m even more excited because somehow he didn’t let me down with BR2049.

  2. I saw Another Life pop up on Netflix and… just kinda ignored it. I don’t know why — I guess it should look like my kinda thing — but it seems I dodged a bullet. It’s probably because it’s had no buzz whatsoever. I don’t like the idea of just watching what’s ‘popular’, but with so many series (and films) around nowadays, there’s got to be something to really catch the attention — some sense of anticipation from someone; some welling up of recommendations; whatever — to stop new series just being A.N. Other Show.

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