Random Thoughts

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Forgot to write a Blog Post last week so let’s not let that happen again. Today’s post doesn’t have a particular theme aside from these are all things that can be seen on TV (or you know streamed on your mobile device or toaster).

1.   Chris Carter is the Scariest Thing That Has Ever Happened to The X-Files

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I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago where I waxed rhapsodic over my beloved shows return from the dead. In that post I mentioned how the initial hour (penned and shot by series creator Chris Carter) was almost a parody of itself; an overheated mishmash of too many undercooked ideas (if that’s even possible in a creative OR culinary sense). The series picked itself up once we got a few hours written by anyone other than Carter.

That post was written and published before the final two hours aired – ‘Babylon‘ on Monday Feb 15th and “My Struggle Part II” on the 22nd. Both episodes were written and directed by Carter. Like his first effort, they were jam-packed with a seasons worth of ideas and exhibited his absolute worst tendencies as a writer; chock-full of breathless exposition, self-important grandstanding and an absolute tin-ear for dialogue and blind eye to pacing.

In the final episode, Carter kept Mulder and Scully largely separated for the entirety of the episode save for one final exchange before he unleashed his final sucker punch – a cliffhanger whipped up out of nowhere for a limited series that at the time he wrote it – had no guarantee of a second season.

Look there are ways to do what he wanted to do. You could tell a cohesive self-contained conspiracy story and then if you want to see another installment, spare us the world-ending cliffhanger and simply add a little stinger after the final scene wraps to set the scene for the next installment. This is how the Marvel movies have been seeding their connected universe for the last decade and it works like gangbusters – compelling entire audiences to ride out a sea of technical credits to get to that final secret scene. Carter could have done the same – giving us a complete and satisfying story and then leaving the door open for the continuing adventures of Mulder & Scully (or his little side project with Miller & Einstein, the two new characters he unwisely introduced as knock off doppelgängers).

If The X-Files continues (which good ratings indicate it will), I hope Carter returns in an Executive Producer capacity only. Like George Lucas before him, it’s time this kid let other people play with his toys. Pour out the box of Legos and let’s see what someone else can do with this compelling universe. Mulder & Scully are iconic because of their chemistry. It’s time somebody else took control of their destiny.

2.   I kinda’ like Love

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Love is the latest Netflix original that is worth diving into. It makes for a good companion to Aziz Ansari’s  ‘Master of None‘ – with both series dealing with early thirtysomethings navigating today’s romantic landscape. In today’s parlance, I’d advise you to “swipe right” on both of these shows – even though they both take a little time to grow into their own.

Love is created by Judd Apatow; who cut his chops on The Larry Sanders Show before helping bring one of my favorite shows of all time to life (Freaks & Geeks). From that show, he “fathered” Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, James Franco and so many other great talents. Of course, he’s had his string of movie successes like The Forty Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, This is Forty and this past Summer’s Trainwreck.

I like Apatow’s shaggy real-world feeling romantic comedies even though he seems to fall into the same trap of setting them with very specific people who never truly feel like real people. They are like amalgams of our best and worst instincts. Not every train wreck has a heart of gold BUT I get Apatow’s design – he presents his characters with warts and all.

With Love, he and co-creator Paul Rust (who stars in the show) are giving us a romantic comedy writ large – with the initial awkward courtship unfolding over 10 episodes. It’s messy and sloppy and runs in a million different tangents. It takes its time and sometimes stops for a nap BUT it’s almost always interesting. I wouldn’t call it laugh out loud funny (not in the same way that Parks & Recreation and Arrested Development coax a stream of laughs) but there is a genuine goodwill earned in watching some slightly damaged characters sometimes say the wrong thing and sometimes strive to be a little better.

Gillian Jacobs also stars n the show. She was great in Community – a pretty girl whose character was infinitely more interesting the more pathetic and weird she became. This role in Love seems to have been groomed specifically for her. The highest compliment I can give an actor is when I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. Like Charlize Theron in Young Adult, Gillian’s Mickie is a character who does some pretty self-destructive things, can be quite unlovable at times, doesn’t seem to want to help herself and yet you can’t take your eyes off of her and hope that maybe, just maybe, she’ll figure herself out.

If there is one constant in Apatow’s works it’s the old USA maxim – “Character First”. He and his fellow writers build character first and then let the comedy and pathos grow around that. That’s what I love about Love.

3.   Let the Midnight Special, Shine the Light on Me

This looks, sounds and feels like Seventies-era Spielberg and John Carpenter flicks had a child. The director Jeff Nichols impressed me with ‘Take Shelter‘ and ‘Mud‘ so needless to say, this is one of my most anticipated movies this Spring.