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Offline kimmy

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New TV Season
« on: October 19, 2017, 04:30:10 am »
I enjoy escapism and science fiction and all of that sort of thing.  So, even though it is one of the lowest rated things I have ever seen on Rotten Tomatoes (at a whopping 8% on the Tomato-meter!) I was kind of looking forward to Marvel's The Inhumans.  After all, it does star Anson Mount and Iwan Rheon! And its high-concept, silly, fun premise somehow spoke to me.  The idea of a fantastical sci-fi setting, as opposed to grim or bleak or dystopian sci-fi settings, appealed to me.  I thought "I don't always agree with critics. Maybe this will be just good old campy fun like Flash Gordon or Lost In Space."  Man, did I get it wrong.


Stan Lee voice: Behold...The Inhumans!


Imagine a coming of age ceremony, in a magical city on the moon. A young man and young woman are brought forward before the royal family for the moment that will define the rest of their lives. Each is sealed in a glass case and exposed to a gene-altering mist.  Then both are removed.  The girl, after a moment, miraculously sprouts butterfly wings and takes flight. She is adulated. There are cheers. She will join the elite of her society.  The boy, on the other hand, seems unchanged. People wait, expectantly, but there is nothing. The heartbreak is apparent on his father's face. The boy's chance to escape the lowest caste is gone. He will be sent to work in the mines, just like his father.

This is the setting of The Inhumans.  They are a race of human-like beings who live in the city of Attilan, on the moon! As adolescents they are exposed to a substance that activates their genetic potential. Some develop astounding abilities or startling mutations. These become the elite of their society.  Others don't change at all. They are the lower cast. They work in the mines.  This unjust caste system is enforced by the royal family and the "Genetic Council".

But a hero steps forward to topple this sick heirarchy! Maximus is the younger brother of the king, but he sees the injustice of the system. His own transformation was a dismal failure-- the mist rendered him genetically human, the worst possible outcome! Mocked by even his own family for his genetics, he knows that he too would have been sent to the mines were he not born into royalty.  Maximus, with the help of some courageous members of the Royal Guardsmen, stages a bloodless coup, overthrows the despotic King and the rest of the royals, and frees the serfs from the mines!  All hail Maximus, a futuristic Spartacus!

Wait--  Maximus isn't the hero?

Maximus is the bad-guy in this story?


Whaaaaaaa?



 Okaaaayyy, apparently the heroes of this story are the King "Black Bolt", his wife Medusa, his obnoxious sister-in-law Crystal, and their assistants Gorgon and Karnak.   And Crystal's 3000 pound pug "Lockjaw".  Lockjaw can can teleport instantly across vast distances, and when Crystal discovers that Maximus is staging a coup, she has Lockjaw take them, one at a time, to Hawaii.  Lockjaw isn't very smart so they end up scattered all over the island and have spent most of the first 3 episodes trying to reunite with each other.

So, uh, this is not specifically too good.

Anson Mount stars as "Black Bolt". He can't speak, because his voice is so powerful that even a whisper destroys everything in its path. If he talked, it would be a nuclear holocaust. So he can only communicate in sign language. Anson Mount starred as "Bohanon" in the railway-building western "Hell On Wheels".  He was great as the imposing Bohanon, a man of few words. With a single "yep" or "nope" or scowl or roll of his eyes, Mount could say more than most actors can say in a whole page full of dialogue. Bohanon had at least 8 different kinds of "yep", all distinct. So I can understand why they picked him to portray the mute guy.  But he just seems befuddled. He seems as confused as the audience.

Maximus is played by Iwan Rheon, best known as Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones. I think it's quite damning to the writers that they somehow made Ramsay Bolton the only sympathetic character in the whole show, especially when he's supposed to be the villain here.

The show is pretty bad on almost every level... the execution is terrible. The protagonists are currently stumbling around Hawaii like a bunch of mentally handicapped tourists who got separated from their care-aide.  Is this supposed to be comedy? I honestly have no idea what they were going for here. 

They've made me hate the characters I'm supposed to be cheering for, and cheer for the characters I'm supposed to hate.  It's like they just want us to cheer for the royals because they told us to. It's like watching a WWII movie and being told that you're supposed to cheer for the Germans.  Whaaa?  I'm supposed to be cheering for Black Bolt to get back to his city, send the slaves back to the mines, and restore their **** up caste system?  No way!  I want to see Maximus go Full Bolton on these motherfuckers. Especially Crystal, the racist ****.

The Inhumans is written and produced by Scott "The name's Scott Buck, and my movies suck" Buck.  Fans hate everything Scott Buck has ever been involved with. He's blamed for making Dexter jump the shark after he took that over. He was at the helm of Iron Fist, which has was (before Inhumans) regarded as the worst thing Marvel has produced. Scott Buck apparently keeps getting work as a producer because he delivers product ahead of schedule and under budget. Those are great qualities. Too bad the on-screen product looks like Crystal's 3000 pound pug dropped a load.

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2017, 05:36:03 am »
Yeah, this sounds terrible.

But if you want to make ME watch something from this bullshit genre, make a hero who is actually evil.  It would at least be funny.

How about a hero who's superpower is ability to kill babies with just a glance?  Or some really odious habit, like racist remarks or smoking.

Do that.

Offline Bubbermiley

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 07:47:20 am »

K
Do that.
Didn't Deadpool already do it?

Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 08:39:53 am »
Didn't Deadpool already do it?

I saw Deadpool.  I don't remember much about it.  He was a wiseacre, and a lot of it took place in a bar.  And there was a girl.  And it ended in a junkyard.

I think if they had made him a super-rapist, or someone who knocked turbans off immigrants, or had super-gay-seduction powers or something I would have remembered that...

Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2017, 09:04:13 am »
The villain in Jessica Jones is basically Harvey Weinstein with mind-control powers...

 -k
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Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2017, 12:19:58 pm »
Even though Inhumans is really bad, I have to keep watching. Part of it is an academic exercise.  I'm fascinated at how bad it is, and I need to analyze it from the perspective of what makes it fail. I try to identify what aspects specifically make me hate it, and then I try to analyze my own writing to look for the same elements. Do I make the same mistakes? 

I'm intrigued at how Inhumans made it all the way to network TV.  Surely at some point somebody must have looked at it and realized that it's a terrible product.  It doesn't just fail by August1991/Michael Hardner type criteria, it fails by the standards of its own genre, its own aspirations. Surely somebody at either ABC or Disney or Marvel must have thought "this is really bad. We shouldn't put this on TV."

I watched the entire Twilight series of movies because I was fascinated at how bad it was. I was intrigued that people spent tens of millions of dollars making each of those bad films. I was amazed that people spent hundreds of millions of dollars watching each of those films.  Each step of the way I thought to myself "I can't believe adults made this. This seems like something junior high kids would have made."

And I watched the entire first season of the "Shadowhunters" TV series on Netflix. It's probably the single worst thing I have ever seen produced by allegedly professional creators. So astoundingly stupid that Twilight looks brilliant by comparison. For me it was a multi-car pileup I just couldn't look away from. So incredibly inept.  Watching it was like reading Donald Trump news articles. It was maddening and yet somehow addictive.  I hated every moment but I just couldn't stop. I had started to crave the pain, the anger, the hate.  I forced myself to not watch season 2 of Shadowhunters.  I felt like I just couldn't expose myself to that kind of punishment again without risking my sanity. I went cold-turkey on Shadowhunters.

Inhumans isn't quite as bad as Twilight or especially Shadowhunters, at least from an execution point of view. I think that from the point of view of learning how to create a bad program, I have learned what I needed from Inhumans.  But I still need to find out what the payoff is for the bizarre politics of the program. 

It's a program where the intended protagonists are enthusiastic supporters of a system based around eugenics, aristocracy, the establishment of a permanent underclass,  and the enslavement of those deemed genetically inferior.  The supposed heroes of this show are, almost literally, Moon Nazis.  They boast openly of their genetic superiority and openly express their contempt of those like their own brother who are deemed genetically inferior.   In 2017, we had white supremacists marching in the United States, and here is a program where "the good guys" are fighting to restore such a system after it has been toppled.

It's like the creators of the show said "you know, we've had a lot of one-sided coverage of eugenics and racial supremacist ideology this year, and we just wanted to present an alternative view, to show a more positive side of racial supremacy ideologies."


Right now, as of episode 4,  our "villain" Maximus has consolidated power in Attilan. He has imprisoned the ruling "Genetic Council", the ruling eugenics experts at the core of the caste system. I gather we're supposed to hate Maximus because he has beaten and imprisoned his political enemies, and even killed one. Compared to real-world revolutionaries, Maximus has been a model of restraint, but on this show even one murder is too high a cost for liberating thousands. No it isn't! Slaves are dying in the mines while the "Genetic Council" lives in comfort! Go Maximus!

Meanwhile our Nazi "protagonists" are floundering around Hawaii, pursued by agents of Maximus, and surviving only with the help of inferior humans. Who help them even though our heroes are horrendous people and treat them terribly.  I expect that the eventual payoff is through their misadventures on earth, our obnoxious royals will learn to have empathy with the inferiors. This is kind of like a story where David Duke and Richard Spencer get lost in north Detroit and survive only with the help of black people, and we're supposed to be cheering for Duke and Spencer to get home. No doubt that when Medusa Duke and Black Bolt Spencer get back to Attilan and take back power, they will be kinder to the slaves when they send them back to the mines.

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2017, 12:33:05 pm »
 
1. It doesn't just fail by August1991/Michael Hardner type criteria, it fails by the standards of its own genre, its own aspirations.
2. Surely somebody at either ABC or Disney or Marvel must have thought "this is really bad. We shouldn't put this on TV."
3. I watched the entire Twilight series of movies because I was fascinated at how bad it was. I was intrigued that people spent tens of millions of dollars making each of those bad films.
4. "I can't believe adults made this. This seems like something junior high kids would have made."
 
1. What is THAT ?  I don't remember suggesting any criteria for artistic failure per se.
2. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it will play or not.
3. I only saw a trailer for one of them in the cinema and started laughing very very loudly, which pissed off some young girls sitting near me.
4. Yes, but does it SELL ?

Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2017, 12:22:39 pm »
1. What is THAT ?  I don't remember suggesting any criteria for artistic failure per se.

I'm referring to complaints based in the viewer's prejudices, of course. Things like "I can't take this seriously because there is CGI" or "it's hard to get emotionally involved in this because there could be dragons" or "I could relate to this more if it was set in an office building", that sort of thing.

2. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it will play or not.

This is true.  Even so, it's hard to imagine nobody had any idea that they missed the mark so badly. The Marvel/Disney productions have had, up to now, a good feel for what their audience likes.   They apparently had a good audience for their premiere, and viewership has fallen off drastically ever since. People were willing to check them out, watched, and decided it sucked.

Somebody I know related a story about the top executives at a Japanese auto maker.   They were doing a big meeting to discuss the upcoming projects in development. One of them-- I think it was at Honda and the car was the Element-- caused an uproar among the executives. They thought it was stupid and ugly and a complete disaster. They were furious, they wanted to know how they had wasted the money to get such a terrible product to that stage of development. They wanted to cancel the product immediately, or to "fix" it.  The CEO stood up and said "Gentlemen. No one at this table is the intended market for this product, and no one at this table is qualified to decide whether this product will appeal to that market."  His point being that a group of wealthy, elderly Japanese men weren't the best judge of whether American young adults of modest means would like it or hate it.  I assume they did a bunch of focus-group type stuff with the people they assumed would be interest in the vehicle, and decided yes, this is a good idea.

In TV land, I think they also do "audience testing" of their new programs. Maybe audience testing would have at least let them know whether their product was working with the intended audience, or whether they had completely missed the mark.
 
And that's a key point here... I don't think they actually know who their intended audience is.  Probably the most specific thing they could tell you would be "people... who own televisions."

Partly it seems like they set out to make something campy and light-hearted like Adam West Batman. Then it's like they decided to add some political drama, like Game of Thrones. Then to spice it up even more they decided to throw in this racial and social and class struggle and wealth inequality theme.  Then to make it appeal to kids they throw in an adorable 3000 pound pug.

3. I only saw a trailer for one of them in the cinema and started laughing very very loudly, which pissed off some young girls sitting near me.
4. Yes, but does it SELL ?

In the case of Twilight, it definitely did SELL, in all caps, and with several exclamation points as well. It did SELL !!!!

They were clearly very successful in targeting a market that had been perhaps under-served-- teenage girl wish-fulfillment fantasy stories. Twilight sparked a wave of imitators in both the book world and the movie world.  The "Hunger Games" movies were very successful, the "Divergent" movies and "Mortal Instruments" movie(s?) failed.  I thought the Hunger games movies were quite good, and can stand on their own even if you're not a teenage girl who dreams of living a life where you're important. Hunger Games and Twilight were both successful in appealing to a core demographic that was willing to pay for movies, but the Hunger Games films did it with a lot more artistic skill.



 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2017, 03:05:11 pm »
I'm referring to complaints based in the viewer's prejudices, of course. Things like "I can't take this seriously because there is CGI" or "it's hard to get emotionally involved in this because there could be dragons" or "I could relate to this more if it was set in an office building", that sort of thing.

So, in other words, YOU didn't like it.  That's pretty much what you're saying.

Quote
Even so, it's hard to imagine nobody had any idea that they missed the mark so badly. ... His point being that a group of wealthy, elderly Japanese men weren't the best judge of whether American young adults of modest means would like it or hate it.  I assume they did a bunch of focus-group type stuff with the people they assumed would be interest in the vehicle, and decided yes, this is a good idea.

In TV land, I think they also do "audience testing" of their new programs. Maybe audience testing would have at least let them know whether their product was working with the intended audience, or whether they had completely missed the mark.
 

Well, yes, but you should also know that they can't focus group the initial offering.  The vision, the THING of it has to come from a vision.  Even with that, there are a million things that can go wrong.

Quote
In the case of Twilight, it definitely did SELL, in all caps, and with several exclamation points as well. It did SELL !!!!

Sure.  And it was good for those people who like that... uh.. product.

Quote
They were clearly very successful in targeting a market that had been perhaps under-served-- teenage girl wish-fulfillment fantasy stories. Twilight sparked a wave of imitators in both the book world and the movie world.  The "Hunger Games" movies were very successful, the "Divergent" movies and "Mortal Instruments" movie(s?) failed.  I thought the Hunger games movies were quite good, and can stand on their own even if you're not a teenage girl who dreams of living a life where you're important. Hunger Games and Twilight were both successful in appealing to a core demographic that was willing to pay for movies, but the Hunger Games films did it with a lot more artistic skill.

I doubt teens are under served.  Hunger Games (I saw the first one) was terrible.   Some teen stuff is good.  Some is garbage.

Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2017, 11:01:26 pm »
So, in other words, YOU didn't like it.  That's pretty much what you're saying.

The distinction I'm trying to draw is between complaints based on the film's success or failure to meet its own terms, vs complaints based on the viewer's preferences.  We've discussed this in the past. 

"Pacific Rim" and "Transformers" are both entries in the "giant robots fighting stuff" genre. Pacific Rim succeeds because it delivers what they promise on the poster, Transformers fails because the action sequences are incoherent.

Criticisms like "I can't tell the good guys from the bad guys" and "this just looks like a bunch of metal stuff flying around on the screen" and "I have no idea what's going on" are completely reasonable because they center on whether the creators achieved what they intended to.  Criticism like "this is completely unrealistic" or "giant robots aren't real" or "I don't like CGI" or "this would be more compelling if the characters worked in an office" really just indicate that you watched the wrong show.

Well, yes, but you should also know that they can't focus group the initial offering.  The vision, the THING of it has to come from a vision.  Even with that, there are a million things that can go wrong.

There's two separate questions there.  The first is "is there actually a market for this?" and the second is "does the product we've created appeal to the market we want to reach."

There's a market for just about anything. I recall reading about two young women who have made a lot of money by writing dinosaur **** **** eBooks and selling them on Amazon.  Apparently dinosaur **** **** enthusiasts are an underserved market and were just crying out for content.  But dinosaur **** **** probably wouldn't be a big enough market to drive a network television show, or even a Netflix show. 

As for appealing to the market they want to reach... I'm still unclear what that market actually is. They certainly weren't looking for the same viewers that enjoyed the darker, more adult programs like Jessica Jones or Daredevil.  I think that if they had set out to create a focus-group to see if their target audience enjoyed The Inhumans... find 20 people for a test screening... they wouldn't have any idea who to put in the room.

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2017, 05:40:16 am »
   Criticism like "this is completely unrealistic" or "giant robots aren't real" or "I don't like CGI" or "this would be more compelling if the characters worked in an office" really just indicate that you watched the wrong show.

I still think you're saying that it failed because a fan of the genre wouldn't buy it, essentially.  Am I right ?

Quote
There's two separate questions there.  The first is "is there actually a market for this?" and the second is "does the product we've created appeal to the market we want to reach."
 

There ARE two questions.  I like you, kimmy, so I correct your grammar.  Yes, your questions are apt for a commercial artistic enterprise.  I'll leave it at that.

 
Quote
    I think that if they had set out to create a focus-group to see if their target audience enjoyed The Inhumans... find 20 people for a test screening... they wouldn't have any idea who to put in the room. 

The thing that sometimes happens is... stratifying and dicing and slicing the market neglects the produce offering.  Sometimes things that are just great will find an audience. 

Ever hear of The Smiths ?  They are an improbably 80s pop band that I discovered later in life.  A mishmash of upbeat instrumental guitar, with a solid rhythm section, and a wailing plantiff singer with absurd pseudo-gay lyrics laden with anachronisms and references to Oscar Wilde.  They hit it big with British youth (they were from Manchester I think) and then again 30 years later... in Mexico ?!?

Smiths songs:

William It Was Really Nothing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn0zfiJpx2s

Ask
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoo9Vu1a9bU

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgAzvKHxNI0


Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2017, 09:26:13 pm »
I still think you're saying that it failed because a fan of the genre wouldn't buy it, essentially.  Am I right ?

Essentially, yeah.

Although, **** genre fans are often the harshest critics as well.  But basically, yes.

There ARE two questions.  I like you, kimmy, so I correct your grammar.  Yes, your questions are apt for a commercial artistic enterprise.  I'll leave it at that.

 
The thing that sometimes happens is... stratifying and dicing and slicing the market neglects the produce offering.  Sometimes things that are just great will find an audience. 

Ever hear of The Smiths ?  They are an improbably 80s pop band that I discovered later in life.  A mishmash of upbeat instrumental guitar, with a solid rhythm section, and a wailing plantiff singer with absurd pseudo-gay lyrics laden with anachronisms and references to Oscar Wilde.  They hit it big with British youth (they were from Manchester I think) and then again 30 years later... in Mexico ?!?

Smiths songs:

I do know The Smiths, primarily through that beer commercial that had the Smiths song that has that great guitar riff, back in the 1990s at some point. I think there was an imposing Danish dude with long blond hair discussing the merits of Labatt Ice.  But yes, I recall the Smiths.  "How Soon Is Now" was the song, I believe. I don't know how much beer that commercial sold, but I bet it sold a lot of Smiths records. I bought one of them, just to get that song.

I agree with your general point here: art isn't created by focus groups.

I'm not sure what Stan Lee might have been thinking when he came up with the idea, over 50 years ago.  Perhaps he and Jack Kirby were sitting around with a massive bong full of the best chiba-chiba and said "man, it would be totally far out if there was a city on the moon with people with crazy super-powers, and they came to Earth and said 'Heyyy, mannnn, quit shooting rockets at our house, bro!' and it would be like ... totally far out!"

And, somehow, for whatever reason, the Inhumans caught on enough that it's on TV 50 years later. Maybe people liked that it's whimsical or fantastical or maybe just campy.  Somehow, in some way, that idea appealed to people enough that it didn't get lost among all the other ideas that come and go.

Maybe, at the time, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby really were creating "art" in their own way.  But I don't think the people at ABC/Disney/Marvel were striving for "art" when they created the Inhumans TV show. I think they were kind of hoping for viewers.

Ultimately, whatever made people like the original idea all those years ago... whatever that was, it didn't translate into the TV show.   I think a good TV show could have been made from the premise.  Maybe it would have been campy and lighthearted, like the Adam West Batman program.  Maybe it would have been fantastical, like the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  I am sure that somehow something good could have been done with it.  But whatever they were trying for... they missed the mark.

 -k
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Offline MH

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2017, 05:50:34 am »
  "How Soon Is Now" was the song, I believe. I don't know how much beer that commercial sold, but I bet it sold a lot of Smiths records. I bought one of them, just to get that song.

Really?  I never heard of anyone doing THAT.  The song was actually a huge international hit in the 1980s but ok.

Quote
I agree with your general point here: art isn't created by focus groups.

I'm not sure what Stan Lee might have been thinking when he came up with the idea, over 50 years ago.  Perhaps he and Jack Kirby were sitting around with a massive bong full of the best chiba-chiba and said "man, it would be totally far out if there was a city on the moon with people with crazy super-powers, and they came to Earth and said 'Heyyy, mannnn, quit shooting rockets at our house, bro!' and it would be like ... totally far out!"

And, somehow, for whatever reason, the Inhumans caught on enough that it's on TV 50 years later. Maybe people liked that it's whimsical or fantastical or maybe just campy.  Somehow, in some way, that idea appealed to people enough that it didn't get lost among all the other ideas that come and go.

Maybe, at the time, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby really were creating "art" in their own way.  But I don't think the people at ABC/Disney/Marvel were striving for "art" when they created the Inhumans TV show. I think they were kind of hoping for viewers.

Ultimately, whatever made people like the original idea all those years ago... whatever that was, it didn't translate into the TV show.   I think a good TV show could have been made from the premise.  Maybe it would have been campy and lighthearted, like the Adam West Batman program.  Maybe it would have been fantastical, like the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  I am sure that somehow something good could have been done with it.  But whatever they were trying for... they missed the mark.

 -k

Stan Lee is one of those revered celebrity artists that I don't get.  That is partially because I am not a fan of the genre, but also because to me once Superman was out there it was just a matter of imitating and running a kaleidoscope on the original. 

But, man, you really didn't like it.

Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2017, 09:37:10 pm »
Really?  I never heard of anyone doing THAT.  The song was actually a huge international hit in the 1980s but ok.

Michael.  At the time "How Soon Is Now" was originally released, my only concern in life was figuring out how to obtain juice.  However, I was entering my teens when the Labatt Ice commercials featured the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtEZy6z4P8c

Stan Lee is one of those revered celebrity artists that I don't get.  That is partially because I am not a fan of the genre, but also because to me once Superman was out there it was just a matter of imitating and running a kaleidoscope on the original. 

Well, one might argue that that is like saying that after William Shakespeare, there's really been nothing to add to the romantic tragedy genre.

But, man, you really didn't like it.

Yes, I would say that if there was just one thing to say about The Inhumans, "I really didn't like it" would probably be as good a take as any.

 -k
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 09:42:32 pm by kimmy »
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Offline kimmy

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Re: New TV Season
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2017, 09:49:26 pm »
On a completely different TV note, Netflix has just delivered Season 2 of "Stranger Things", just in time for Halloween.

The first season of "Stranger Things" was probably among Netflix' most successful creations ever. It was both a critics' favorite and a smash hit for Netflix. I am looking forward to season 2.

 -k
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