Sunday, May 15, 2016

FTT Off-Topic: Cape Madness

I've Got A Secret Dumbness
Not sports, ignore or don't.

This past weekend, while dealing with the laundry and the other blogs (there are two now, one about marketing, the other about how my old band might be reforming to make music), I fired up Netflix and "Jessica Jones." This is a Marvel piece that's been critically acclaimed as something of a revolutionary superhero show, and it's got a lot going for it. Krysten Ritter's a great actress, especially when she's in her wheelhouse of troubled antihero, as she is here. David Tennant has tons of fans from his "Doctor Who" days, and I can see why. He's got a frequently great role in this as the antagonist. We get Clarke Peters from "The Wire" playing an aging detective, and that's never a bad thing. Carrie Anne-Moss is on board, and I'll never not love her from her time as Trinity in "The Matrix." (We'll all just ignore the sequels now, and you should too.) There's lots here that you haven't seen before, from hard to watch plot turns, inspired plotting, good acting, reasonable action and great atmospherics. It's made with care, and...

Then the season turns sidewise and it becomes just another cape show, where the hero has whatever powers are needed, the antagonist makes obvious mistakes, and you wonder where the writers of the early part of the season went, and who they got to close things up.

I suppose it's my fault, really, for getting sucked into a superhero show. I realize this puts me squarely out of the mainstream and deep into creeping codgerdom, but the genre just bores the bejeezus out of me now. "Jones" avoids most of the conventions of the genre, sure, but at the core of things, this is basically an updated "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", only with more of a real veneer. The fact that it could be, and frequently is, more... just makes it a fascinating but ultimately frustrating mess.

One that, I'm sure, will continue and replicate others, because we've seemingly lost the ability to tell a procedural now without the intellectual quick grass of a super-powered protagonist. Fox is the serial addict on this, between "Lucifer" and "Sleepy Hollow", but you can go upper-crust with your cozy, too; just fire up BBC or PBS and watch "Sherlock." It says something telling, I think, that we have to tell stories now on the margins, about people with writ large issues, rather than anything ordinary. Procedurals from two generations ago were everyman characters. One generation ago, operators of special tech. This generation? Magic... and not just magic, but frequently *victims* of magic, who rarely, if ever, feel good about using their powers. Only antagonists get to delight in their identity, or seem to fully and completely choose it. Oh, and gritty. Gotta be gritty.

Except, and this is telling... that the most successful R movie ever, especially in terms of profit, is "Deadpool"... which is, to say, a man remarkably devoid of angst, self-doubt, mopery, victimhood.

Of course, what we'll actually get is just capes who curse more, or have more violence, or just break fourth wall. Because that's new.

Honestly, can't you people ever step away from the comfort food and try something without the side of whipped cream?

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