I am by no means one of the cool kids. I didn’t even start watching 30 Rock or Lost until last year, when The A.V. Club covered the seasons they missed for TV Club Classic. A classmate told me that I should check out Bossypants about two years ago, because she listened to it in audiobook form when she went to Canada. I made the purchase in mid-October this year. I may not do things straight away, but I do remember: for instance I watched the lovely German film Goodbye Lenin this afternoon, nearly a year after a friend recommended it to me. I finished reading Bossypants at about 5:30 this morning, after I spent half an hour trying to get back to sleep and realising it wasn’t going to happen. It’s a good way to pass the time, but not the most effective tool for going back to sleep.
I wasn’t necessarily planning on writing a review for the first season of Jessica Jones, but there has been some interesting discussion around it over the past week or so. First of all Joanna Robinson made a guest appearance on Fighting in the War Room to specifically discuss the show and the problems she had with it (there’s also a great discussion about Cate Blanchett). Then there was a this tweet from Ryan McGee that sparked off a fascinating Twitter conversation, and it all got me thinking about how I felt about the show.
#JessicaJones was an 8-ep season (max) in a 13-ep bag. But what was good was GREAT.
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) November 29, 2015
I also know some people who have decided to not watch it just yet because it seems pretty grim, and that’s also fair. The decision to release the whole season at once can definitely minimise the flaws for people who watch in one sitting, but the grimness of its tone doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the binge watch. We’re still trying to figure out what the television landscape looks like in the next few years, and the all at once release model of Netflix has contributed to the changing landscape for sure. Spoilers for the show coming up, so if you don’t want to know things that happen, stop reading.
The trend of splitting the final book of a successful Young Adult franchise into two films began with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I really hope it ends with Mockingjay. The success of The Hunger Games led to a trend of post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction for Young Adults, and for that I will always be grateful. The adaptation of the trilogy into films was mostly successful, except for the decision to split Mockingjay into two films. Mockingjay wasn’t significantly longer than either The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, but movie studios make money, and given the popularity of The Hunger Games franchise when the first film was released, it made sense to adapt Mockingjay into two films. The problem was is that those films weren’t as strong as the adaptations of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
On nearly any other show, Josh having casual sex with a man who has a cerebral aneurysm would end in disaster. Arnold would come home early from Maths Camp and discover the two of them in bed together and get mad, or we’d have a Turkish Ambassador on Downton Abbey situation. However, Josh and Arnold had an agreement about their open relationship, and Please Like Me isn’t the kind of show to have an almost stranger die in the protagonist’s bed. This is Josh’s life, and in the style of Please Like Me, “Puff Pastry Pizza” is a window into a moment of that life.
After such a fast-paced start to season two, Jane the Virgin slows down in “Chapter Twenty-Four”. It isn’t as strong as the season premiere, but that’s due to some strange choices they made. On the other hand, there were some things that were absolutely wonderful that came out of one of those weaker storylines. The love triangle on Jane the Virgin is more compelling than the majority of love triangles because both of Jane’s options are fully formed characters, and there’s no sense that the show favours one over the other (I’m specifically referring to The Hunger Games here). However, “Chapter Twenty-Four” suffered from the love triangle becoming the main storyline, when there were plenty of other great stories to tell. Jane the Virgin works best when it feels grounded – at least on the Villanueva side of things, but the telenovela seeped into every storyline on this episode. It was still very good, it just didn’t quite work for me.
Today is a day of no reviews, because this is the first night I haven’t been out this week, and it’s all catching up to me. On Monday I went to see Mockingjay (more on that this weekend), and last night I went to see Sarah J Maas at Assembly Hall in Melbourne. I have a friend who is a teacher, and she recommended Throne of Glass to me at the beginning of the year. I eventually got around to reading it in May, and it was the first time I’d stayed up until 3am to finish a book in at least a year. I had no idea she was coming to Australia, and it was too good an opportunity to miss (if I’d known she was going to be on a panel with Isobel Carmody at Supanova, I might have flown to Adelaide). I went to see Sarah J Maas with this particular friend last night, and we had a fun time.
It’s upfronts season on Australian television, and this week we heard from both the ABC and Channel Nine. Of the various upfronts (ABC, SBS, Foxtel, Nine, Seven and Ten), the most exciting are from ABC and SBS. They invest in new talent, a diversity of voices, and they also let their creators take a year off if they want to work on something else. Rake is only filmed when everyone involved is available, and it’s coming back in 2016 along with Upper Middle Bogan, which also took a break this year. Meanwhile, there wasn’t anything in the presentation about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or Utopia, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything with the ABC. Just as we didn’t have Rake or Upper Middle Bogan last year, these shows might just be taking a year off. And that’s okay! I’d prefer to have quality programming than something that feels rushed and suffers for it. I also didn’t see anything about Please Like Me, which has been wonderful this year, but that’s a co-production with Pivot in the United States.