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Who am I?

You can look at my home page for more information, but the short answer is that I'm a dilettante who likes thinking about a variety of subjects. I like to think of myself as a systems-level thinker, more concerned with the big picture than with the details. Current interests include politics, community formation, and social interface design. Plus books, of course.

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Mon, 07 Mar 2005

As I mentioned in my post on Firefly, I also got the DVD set of Wonderfalls in the same Amazon order. And I've watched that whole series now as well. My original review actually stands up pretty well even after watching the rest of the unaired episodes, in terms of describing the overall feel of the show.

I do think it was a pity that the show got cancelled. There were several excellent episodes that were never aired. Fortunately, the creators had a feeling they were going to be cancelled (they actually started their "Save our Show!" campaign before the pilot even aired according to one of the featurettes), so the thirteen episodes produced tell a relatively coherent story that has a happy ending.

I'm not sure whether the show's premise would have held up long term, though. The talking animals schtick is very cute, but the need for the "muses" to be deliberately unclear (e.g. "Save him from her!") to create wackiness and confusion gets more annoyingly obvious throughout the episodes. Of course, when the plot demands it, the muses can also be very clear (e.g. "Take a picture!" or "Lick the light switch!"). So they essentially end up as writer bailouts, letting the writer extricate themselves from situations at will. Or for writers to create ridiculous situations; the entire Heidi storyline, which dragged on for four episodes, was manufactured by the muses for no apparent reason. However, it let us see a lot of Heidi, played by Jewel Staite, who played the cute mechanic on Firefly, so that wasn't so bad.

One thing I noticed while watching the series is that the show totally depended on the wonderfully expressive Caroline Dhavernas. Her annoyance and exasperation with the muses shines through, even as she grudgingly does their bidding. It was even more apparent when I watched a couple of the episodes with the commentary tracks turned on, and even without the dialogue, you could track what was going on just by watching her face. In fact, all of the actors are excellent. I happened across a site that has shooting scripts, and while the scripts are fun to read on their own, they definitely reach a new level of humor with the reading by the actors, either in their comic timing, or their facial expressions, or even just waiting a beat before delivering their lines. The co-creators lauded their actors on the commentary tracks, and I think the praise is well-deserved.

Anyway, yeah. I recommend the series, if you like screwball type comedy with an overlay of existential angst and confusion. Several of the episodes are really funny - I was watching an episode last night and just laughing out loud at some of the dialogue and absurd situations. Plus, it's relatively cheap - $28 at Amazon for all thirteen episodes plus some featurettes - that's $2.22 per episode! Thumbs up.

P.S. Parents are still in town, brain is still dead. No interesting thoughts. I'm hoping to get recharged next week when I head to New York. I've got a ton of backlogged ideas to work on, but just can't quite get started on them.

posted at: 22:42 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /rants/tv | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal

Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk
Picked this up in my big library trip of a couple weeks ago. Again, recommended by a friend. Plus, I've been curious about Palahniuk since seeing Fight Club. I really like his stylized writing in a lot of ways, and it's easy to see the resemblance to the style of Fight Club. I didn't really connect to any of the characters, though, so I didn't get into it as much as I do some other fiction. For me, fiction is all about identifying with characters, I think. The early years of Buffy, when the Scooby gang were all high school outsiders? Total identification. Gilmore Girls with Lorelai's mother issues? Yup. Miles Vorkosigan's brand of demented genius. Ender's loneliness and supernatural observation skills. Pretty much all of the fiction I like has a central character that I identify with strongly. So when I don't connect to the characters, I tend to feel eh about a book, no matter how beautiful or creative the writing. I'm just not enough of a literature geek yet, I guess.

posted at: 22:36 by Eric Nehrlich | path: /books/fiction/general | permanent link to this entry | Comment on livejournal