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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thank God I'm Not Related #TheFamily #ABC #3WeekRoundUp

Thank God I'm Not Related #TheFamily #ABC #3WeekRoundUp

Picture courtesy of ABC

Uggghhhh! Ohhh myyy gahhhh! This show is so tedious. So, I know that I've been back for a few weeks now, but even in that time I haven't gotten back to the regular entertainment stuff, talking about TV, movies and books (#ANewLow coming soon; season 2 of #TheWriter coming this summer), but that's because I've been focused on the gardening stuff because food is really important. Also, the entertainment I've been seeing is just so... (sigh!) I don't know what to say. Frankly, a lot of the shows have really ticked me off as of late. 

To start:

The X-Files reboot/continuation(?) was so disappointing and bad that it felt like Marlon Wayans or the Farrelly Brothers wrote it as a parody series. The comedy: far over-the-top from the original; the acting: (I'm looking at you David Duchovny) completely phoned--no, texted in; and I am flabbergasted at how a six-episode season could still manage to have at least one filler episode. That were-lizard thing? What da hell was dat was? Admittedly, I feel ashamed that I actually liked that episode. To top it all off, the ending was a big middle finger to the fans. Nay, it was a multi-million dollar Rick-rolling perpetrated by FOX.

I'm Hiding My Disdain For Being Here Behind These Sunglasses

I thoroughly enjoyed Galavant, but it has such little hope of coming back for another season or ever being anything other than a cutesy little show in January that it's hard to support.

American Idol has very decent, eclectic talent this year but the producers and network have decided to rush it so much that it's hard to immerse myself in the excitement it once used to bring in its hay day. With the exception of Clarkson's emotional Piece by Piece, I haven't found a memorable season-making moment, hence why this is its last season (I hadn't seen it in at least three seasons). Sad. I thought it would be bigger.

Limitless has become heavily so-so from episode to episode. Same goes for Grey's Anatomy (#GreysAnatomy). And speaking of Shondaland, I am a big fan of her but lately I've been getting really irked by her shows and her comments on her shows. As I said way back at the beginning of the season, Grey's Anatomy was never fully about Meredith. It was a love story about finding one's tribe, rather than finding one's self. The whole ultra-feminist tone it has taken where every week it is about the feminist cause does not fit what the show used to be. I am still DVRing the show, but I haven't watched in weeks.

How to get away with murder (#HTGAWM) has still been quite good. But if any show of Shonda's was built for femininity and woman power, it was Scandal. I knew that from the first season pre-premiere advertisements, then realized it would have a love story. But even knowing that, I feel... It's hard to describe. I feel like this show has lost its way so much, that I can't see it getting back to greatness, doomed instead to limp to its ultimate series finale where a woman is made president (Shonda said she already had an ending in mind when she started the show; I guessed that this would be it, and it would probably be Mellie, especially after that ill-advised #ImWithHer Hillary Clinton commercial. Again, I am not going to say I support any candidate, but I will say that having the spokesperson/main character/actor of a show make a campaign commercial like that can alienate a fanbase that disagrees). 

The epitome of this loss in direction came from the comments from Shonda herself when asked about Olivia's shocking and rather off-putting winter finale abortion. When asked when Fitz would find out and how it would effect their relationship, she responded, and I'm paraphrasing, "Does he have to?" What? Putting aside the fact that Shonda has literally used abortion as part of the "strong/independent/feminist" trope in every one of her shows (Yang got rid of her baby with Owen, Private Practice talked about it ad nauseam), it's just lazy writing to suggest that this issue will never come back up. If it's a non-starter, then why show it to us? Writing 101 teaches us to only put in what is needed unless in the case of satire, irony or sarcasm. It really does nothing more than allow us to hate or at least strongly dislike this powerful, independent black woman, especially if it was meant as a character-building/defining moment. What's she done? Broken up a marriage because she thought she was in love, helped rig a presidency, helped to get countless friends murdered, helped to cover up murders, allowed herself to be pawned in death games she has always come out unscratched in, dumped the guy she thought she was in love with because it inconvenienced her to have the responsibilities of real love and aborted his baby. She started as a white hat. She's now nothing more than the epitome of a (here comes the hate and backlash) black bitch--yeah, I went there. And I don't even like the term and know how offensive it is, but am shocked to see how well it fits. At least when other shows do it, we know we're supposed to loathe a certain character, but are we still supposed to like her and root for her, because that's how it was posed to us at the beginning of the show. As an aside, in a review of the first season of The Writer (#TheWriter) the reviewer said that he didn't feel sorry for the titular character, however, I never made it a point to try to force the reader to feel a certain emotion about the character. That's where this differs. She was billed almost as an angel, a savior of complicated people who would still be suspected terrorists, disgraced lawyers, battered wives or stuck in a hole without her. And now, well, she's "on her own journey," ~Shonda's words.

There's also the NBC shows, mainly You, Me and the Apocalypse which... (sigh). Man, I've sighed way too much writing this. I might have to write another post for that show even though it's far past the #3WeekRoundUp phase.

Fox threw Lucifer at us. I knew the Devil was a lie but I didn't know he was more boring than Grandma Beatrice who does nothing all day but take eucalyptus baths, talk about her stories, smoke menthols and refuses to take off her raggedy gray wig she bought in '92 because she swear up and down it make her look like Aretha Franklin. That raggedy dead cat on yo' head don't make you look like no Aretha Franklin! I digress. The only two really good shows oddly enough both have the words American and Crime in them. American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson and American Crime, with the exception of the latter's finale, have been exceptional. I don't know what the heck that American Crime finale was. Hectic, directionless and nearly subverting the entire season. Still, I expect both of them to be competing in the best dramas Emmy/Golden Globes categories next season, because anything else would be a crime in itself. Yes, that was easy wordplay. What, was I not supposed to take that chance? You should know me by now.

And then there's this show. Wait, did I seriously spend that much time talking about all the other shows before even getting to this one? And I wasted a second sentence pointing that out? Wow! I must really not like this. Yes. That is correct. To start, multiple people on multiple sites have commented that this show is based on or similar to the real-life story of some French man named Adam who pretended to be a lost/kidnapped boy who had been missing for over a decade. Not only was he not the kid, he was considerably older than the kid as he was a young-looking fully grown man. Admittedly, I wrote a book a little similar to this premise which I haven't yet released, but trust me it is not this and that is not clouding my judgment.

The premise: a boy goes missing and, after ten years of being gone, presumed kidnapped and dead, he returns alive. While the family is glad he's back, not everything is sweet roses. Not only has a lot of drama happened concerning his case--his previously jailed kidnapper is released a few days after he arrives back home--he has come back different, and not just the expected different. Through the first three episodes, it is shown that many of the things he supposedly remembers as a child have been studied, learned either from repetitious rote-memory, practicing of past mannerisms and speech cadence (he studies a video of how he used to talk at one of his birthdays), or through keen observation of photos. He really knows nothing about who he used to be or what his family was truly like outside of reports. Sounds good and involved, right? Spuuuth (that's me blowing wind and spittle through my lips like a spoiled child)!

OK, I must first get the elephant out of the way (by the way, did anybody see that adorable clip of that pink albino baby elephant? I'll see if I can find the vid for you) and say that while I want to support black actors and actresses as much as possible, the woman they got to play the role of the lead detective is just not very good. Frankly, I want to see everyone in the entertainment industry do as well as they possibly can because I want good entertainment and I don't like putting people down when it's not that good. But nothing about her character rings true. For one, she's too young. Yes, Adam's case propelled her to the detective position, however, that was ten years ago when she was still in her mid-to-late 20s. She should at least look in her mid-30s. She looks 20 and not an older-looking 20 but a Hollywood 20. You know, the kind that studios cast as teenagers or college-age kids. If you slapped one of those cheap blue policewoman's sexy Halloween costumes on her, you would think she just came from a Frat party. And if that isn't bad enough, there's little authenticity in the way she acts. Every line came off as a line: forced and sometimes cringe-worthy.

Quick! Which One Of Us Was A Teenager 10 Years Ago?

The partial failure of her character lies within the hands of the writers. On the first episode she sits to have a meeting/interview with him and the family as the case has now been reopened and they need to catch this kidnapper. Well, as she asks "Adam" about what he remembers surrounding his captivity, he tells the story of a tiny room that the man used to molest him in--a detail his mother definitely didn't want or need to know in great gratuity. During that, he mentioned that he saw a dragon that would breathe fire at him.

At this point you're probably nodding or waffling your head side to side, saying, "So? Sounds reasonable." It does, doesn't it? An eight or nine-year-old boy seeing a dragon. They'd know what a dragon looked like, some by that time can even draw a pretty decent dragon. Naturally my first thought, as I'm assuming (I know, really bad to do but I have to do it here) would be most people's first thought is that the boy was talking about a ceiling painting, poster or even a tattoo on the man's back. But noooo! Somehow this eight or nine-year-old knows deeply about symbolism and metaphors and, as far as the detective knows, has constructed this dragon metaphor in place of what he really meant to say. He really meant some smoke stacks that came from a refinery or mine or something deep in the forest that glows red in the evening. Whaaaat? Yeah, that was my reaction. I still don't know what offended me more: the fact that she never bothered to look for a place that had a real dragon painted or posted in a room or the fact that the writers totally went with this and allowed her to find the supposed kidnappers hovel in the woods precisely where the metaphor led her. In either case, this has now set up the notion that anything said or done by either the boy or anyone else not only can but should be viewed as a metaphor. If the boy tells them that the guy smelled like manure, instead of it cluing them into him working on a farm is it going to mean that he is actually a bomb maker that uses the nitrogen in fertilizers to work for a local terror organization? You see the leap in logic? Ridiculous.

The Accused Kidnapper, Not The Real One

Then we have the stuff about the rest of the family. The mom is running for governor, the dad is a best-selling author who wrote a book about dealing with the grief of losing his son. He's also a philandering depressive lay-about that was sleeping with the cop. Listen, I knew that the father and the young cop had an affair but the scene in which they have sex in the interrogation room when anybody could walk in or peep through the blinds or maybe even look at the video that so many IR's have these days was too much. Not only that, but there was so little passion in it and they have zero chemistry that it felt forced to the nth degree. The druggie/drunkard brother is the only one suspicious of this boy, and the sister manages her mother's campaign. She also blames herself and her bigger brother for losing Adam as she was supposed to be watching him when he disappeared. She was an irresponsible teen, yadda yadda yadda, now she's a conniving adult. Though, through the structure of the story--a borrowed and oft-used trope from Lost, the show is told in both current and flashback segments (I know, Lost didn't invent it but still)--she is shown to have plotted with her father to frame the creepy neighbor who went down for the boy's kidnapping/murder. Why she's that demented has yet to be revealed but suffice it to say that she's the most interesting character on the show, even though you would expect it to be our big star. 

Red Rover, Red Rover...Wait, Nevermind

That's right the mother, played by Joan Allen of... well, Joan Allen fame (I ain't got time. Check her stats!), up until three episodes in has been mostly useless character-wise. There was some vim and raucousness from her in the third episode where she went off-script during an interview about getting back to the campaign trail after Adam's return, but much of that has sizzled. The show seems to have billed her as the one we are to root for, but even as the doe in the headlights, she fails to garner real sympathy in both the present and the flashbacks. Even as her emotional matrix widens, she feels more political and cold in her home with her family than she does out in the public. Isn't she grieving? Or is she even happy her son has returned? In seeing tons of local (remember, Ohioan here) and national coverage of the Amanda Berry, the other two and Ariel Castro's story, the parents were always near deafening tears to learn that they're daughter was home. I know, the case of Berry is different, but still I can't help to think that the parents' reaction would be much closer to a roller coaster heart drop than the sorta Annie Hall "La-Di-Da" that we've been getting.

After all of that, this is so incredibly hard for me but I'm going to have to give it a D. Yikes!! Like I said, I hate being critical of anyone else's work because I know first hand just how hard the creative process is, but this isn't good... so far. Maybe it'll get better as the show builds and the mysteries deepen, however, I'm not sure that the strangeness of the creeper and suspected kidnapper lurking through the scenes of the show will keep you wanting more each week. Yes, it does bring up the question of who the boy really is and if he's telling the truth, but the presence of the potential kidnapper coupled with the boy's sudden appearance actually makes you wonder more, "Wait, if the boy isn't Adam, but he was kidnapped and molested by this man, then why would he lie about who he was? Isn't that a good enough story on its own? What would he get from lying about who he is, if he truly is a victim?" The only possible answer that makes sense is that he was a child no one ever reported missing, thus was free to endure such torture and only lied because he thought no one would care otherwise. Or he was completely unrelated just like in the real-life case of the French guy, but then how would he know of the metaphorical dragon and the sex cave, unless the two are strangely unrelated.

I shouldn't have to say at this point if you should be watching or not. I think you already know my opinion on that. While ambitious, this show raises more eye-rolling production questions than gives answers to actual mysteries. It feels like a half-hearted effort from some of the industry vets and a futile attempt at brilliance from some of the younger actors trying to hone their craft. For the love of goodness, where is Secrets and Lies? At least that had Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on this show? Have you even seen it? If so, do you like it or no? Will you keep watching? What's been your favorite part of the show so far? And who do you think the boy is? To me, he actually looks similar to the supposed kidnapper. Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "What do you mean Mark Watney's missing? It's seriously gonna take four years to get him back? Oh! Well... has anyone called dibs on his Bose system? I just wanna borrow it for four years. I'll give it back when he returns. So long as he doesn't come back all weird and... Johnny Depp-like. "

P.S. Did I make two space references to end this post that had nothing to do with space? Yeah, I did. I was looking for something that would pair well with the premise of the show: person being lost, person suspected dead actually being not dead, person coming back and being completely different. Frankly, I'm proud of myself, and you should be proud of me. I remembered that horrible Astronaut's Wife Depp movie that no one does. I'm givin' you people a gift.

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