Be careful the endings you wish for?

fugitiveWe were over my mother-in-law’s yesterday delivering the weeks groceries (she’s shielding during the Covid 19 troubles – yes there’s another dishonourable mention for that bugger we’re all so weary of), when during a commercial break there was a spot announcing the commencement of a complete re-run of the old 1960s tv series The Fugitive, which starred David Janssen.  I asked if that series -immensely popular at the time- ever had a proper ending. Turns out, it did- a two-part finale at the end of its fourth season concluded the series with an actual ending, which was quite unusual at the time. Television shows used to come and suddenly just go, when ratings suffered enough to warrant a show’s cancellation. The crew of the Enterprise never completed their five-year mission in Star Trek,  the family Robinson never returned to Earth (or found Alpha Centauri) in Lost in Space, the two doctors trapped in time in The Time Tunnel never found their way back home either.  Fans of these shows and so many others would be just left hanging; their investment in the shows frustrated by open endings.

Its something which we thankfully are usually spared these days. Babylon 5 had an ending, the BSG reboot did, Fringe did, Lost did… Game of Thrones did. Of course, sometimes fans didn’t get the endings they wished for- Game of Thrones being the most obvious example of a show that didn’t stick the landing (and indeed in that particular case the crash proved particularly ugly). Part of the morbid pleasure of sticking with shows these days is the oddly perverse pleasure of seeing how they finally end, whether its a satisfactory conclusion or not. Partly that was why I stuck with The Walking Dead through some nine seasons, until I realised that thing is NEVER going to end, but yeah, surely one of the main reasons to stick with Westworld is to just see how they manage to wrap all that up.

Mind, the movies are catching up- just look how satisfyingly Disney concluded the Skywalker Saga with The Rise of Skywalker… Maybe those 1960s tv shows were onto something.

More Lost in Space (2018)

lost4Well I’ve finished season one of Netflix’s new version of Lost in Space and overall I’d say it was a considerable success. Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised. As I stated in my earlier post about the first half of the season, this show is never going to be high concept/genre-defining material- its light and easygoing but certainly none the worse for that. As it turned out, I honestly believe the second half of the season was stronger than the first and it all came together very well indeed. It told its story, had some great character arcs and teased a continuation with some wit and style. The production design was excellent throughout, and there were a few times that I thought ‘this is how a live-action Star Wars tv show should look like’. 

Whoa. Live-action Star Wars tv-show. Well, everyone knows it’s coming, but how strange to just write something down like that.  I remember when Star Wars films were something special, big event movies on a different level to what everyone else was doing- I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back one afternoon at the cinema, then going home and seeing an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on the telly. I appreciate its an unfair comparison, but it was the Buck Rogers episode where they flew into an asteroid field and the comparison was obvious, the gap between the two was huge. Nowadays the gap between tv and cinema isn’t as large as you’d think, and watching something like Lost in Space is a reminder of that. The sets and costumes were terrific and the effects pretty damn good. On tv. Sure, its Netflix so really it’s in some vague place between tv and cinema really, similar to where stuff like HBO’s Game of Thrones fits. But tv. The gap between tv shows and big cinema genre stuff isn’t that huge at all now (and I suppose Disney making so much Star Wars material lessens that whole Star Wars ‘event’ thing anyway), but still…

If only Babylon 5 could have had budgets and technology like shows have now. I remarked on this to my wife after the last episode of Lost in Space ended. B5 started all these big mult-season arcs and epic sagas on tv -arguably the one biggest advantage tv has over films, is simply running-time and what it affords- but it was hampered by a very limited indie-level production budget and cgi effects that, cutting-edge that they were at the time, are painfully limited now. If only Babylon 5 were made now, on something like Netflix or HBO or Amazon… wow.

I still cannot believe Warners has not opted to redo all the B5 effects in HD and remaster the show completely for a HD release. I’d but that sucker in a heartbeat.

But anyway, I’m rambling. Lost in Space was great fun. Well worth a  watch if you are after something light and easy, and I’m really looking forward to a second season and seeing where it goes from here. Sure, maybe it could have been better had it been more of a n edgier, intense show but it  deliberately wasn’t intended to be that kind of show. Its a great family show and while not perfect, its much better than it possibly has a right to be considering the premise. Quite a refreshing watch, really.

And the robot is great.

Lost in Space (2018)

lost1I’m mid-way through the latest Netflix show, Lost in Space. I’m rather enjoying it. Sure it’s a daft, leave-your-brain-in-neutral kind of show, but there’s no harm in that considering the greater demands of shows like Altered Carbon, Twin Peaks or Westworld.  Indeed, it’s a bit refreshing to watch a show that is light and fluffy compared to other shows more concerned with angst and violence. Different shows for different folks I guess, and this is clearly a family-oriented show aimed at different demographics.

Must confess, when I recently heard about Netflix doing a reboot of Lost in Space, I thought it a strange one. Although I have a soft spot for the often-maligned movie of 1998 (does anyone else remember that great R1 DVD? Those were the days) the original tv series was a camp monstrosity of the 1960s, that clearly wouldn’t work the same now. Thankfully while the central premise remains the same (Space Family Robinson lost on space) its been reworked and modernised with some thought to the background. Now we have flashbacks to a Earth blighted by environmental collapse forcing colonial expeditions to Alpha Centauri and a family slightly this side of dysfunctional, requiring mom in charge more than Dad.

While some things work better than others (the kids are rather annoying, frankly, but Parker Posey makes a great female twist on Dr Smith) one thing that cannot be denied is the amazing production credentials of the show. As is becoming typical of Netflix, no expense has been spared here, with a great cast, brilliant convincing sets and high-quality effects work giving the whole thing a big-budget look more akin to a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Its probably a bit of a shame the stories don’t really show the same level of high-concept thinking but hey, its a light family show that’s easy to watch and functions well for what it is. I don’t know where the remaining five episodes will go over this first season’s ten-episode run (I’m not expecting too many shocks or surprises, frankly) but on the evidence of what I’ve seen this is something of a surprising success.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Robot yet…

lost2