Friday, May 25, 2007

Two TV Shows and Three Books

Aww, heck. I forgot this was Weekend Assignment night. Time to shoehorn something tv-related into my already-posted entry. I'll fix it up some time tomorrow.

Weekend Assignment #167: You watched some bad TV as a kid. Tell us your favorites. Now, this doesn't mean you realized at the time it was bad. Just now, in the fullness of time, you recognized that your viewing choices left something to be desired. For the purposes of this assignment, try to stick with shows that were aimed at kids, although if you can't think of any, prime time shows are okay as well.

Extra Credit: How much TV did you watch when you were a kid? A lot? A little?

Y'know, I don't really remember watching anything all that bad. The Bullwinkle Show and George of the Jungle are still great stuff, and even The Jetsons had their moments. Quick Draw McGraw is still surprisingly good, whereas I never liked The Magilla Gorilla Show (except for the theme song). The animated Star Trek series wasn't great visually, but the scripts were mostly decent, and anyway I was in high school by then.

The low key live action series Captain Kangaroo I haven't seen in decades, but my memories say that it was something extraordinary. I was bored by the Mickey Mouse Club reruns, but they weren't actually bad tv, and they weren't a favorite. The George Reeves Superman holds up surprisingly well today, so that doesn't qualify, either.

I guess if I have to choose something (and that's the game, isn't it?), then I'll go with one live action show and one cartoon series. Let's face it: The Munsters is bad. I'm sure I watched it, and had a certain fondness for the characters, but the actual stories are pretty awful, and the premise doesn't make a lot of sense. Exactly how are a vampire, a werewolf and a Frankenstein monster related? The Addams Family wasn't much better for actual plot content, but Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Thing and Lurch were wonderful characters, series composer Vic Mizzy's music was outstanding, and their "house is a museum" - a true Museum of the Weird.

On the animated series end of things (and this was pre-Scooby Doo, a show I never liked much), my big favorite one year was Wacky Races. The darn thing only had one plot: the same group of gimmicky, ill-defined characters race each time, with Dick Dastardly and Muttley cheating in an attempt to win. Their machinations backfire, and some other randomly-selected character wins the race for no particular reason. Yeegh. Can you believe that Michael Maltese, the great writer of What's Opera, Doc? and other classic cartoons under Chuck Jones, is one of the writers credited for this travesty? Well, he is. The only reason I liked this show, other than a certain weakness for Muttley and for Penelope Pitstop, was that my neighbors the Stockwell kids and I were heavily into Hot Wheels cars at the time, and the cereal box character Quisp, who appeared during the show's commercial breaks. These considerations do not good show make. But you know what? I have a Hot Wheels-style Wacky Races car floating around here somewhere, so you know I still have a small soft spot for the show.

On the Extra Credit: are you kidding? I watched a heck of a lot of tv growing up. I don't regret it one bit.

And now for the books:

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Last night I got sufficiently sucked into John Scalzi's The Last Colony that I stayed up way too late and finished it. I don't want to write about the book in any detail tonight, but I have two quick points to make on the subject:

  1. This final volume of the Old Man's War trilogy is probably the best of the three. It's certainly the best in plotting and pace, and matches the others in likable characters and clever dialogue.
  2. Although this is intended to be the last book in the series - Scalzi said that night in Scottsdale that he metaphorically "blew up the universe" at the end of it - a further sequel would be much more doable than the author believes. If Sherlock Holmes can return from Reichenbach Falls, John Perry, his friends or relatives can certainly have interesting further adventures in the brave new world in which they find themselves at the end of the trilogy. I'm not suggesting that the author should be trapped by popularity into writing more of the same for the rest of his career. I'm just saying that he can write at least one more, in the fullness of time, if he chooses to do so.
Doctor Who: The Inside Story by Gary Russell

I've met Gary Russell several times over the years, but that's not why I bought this. Billed as "The Definitive Guide to the Making of the New Series," it was the best of the Doctor Who books at Borders this evening, and only two dollars more including tax than the $25 gift card I came across in my wallet the other day. I was kind of hoping for a recent Doctor Who novel that looked good, by an author whose name I recognized - Gary Russell for example - but they were all hardbacks, and none of them looked very promising. So I picked up this "making of" instead, and yes, I'm enjoying it.

Heirs of Mâvarin by Karen Funk Blocher

Last night's cover letter has gone to a second draft in response to suggestions, and I think (hope!) it's nearly good enough send out. One of the bits I worked on added started out something like this:

Nominally for adults, this bildungsroman, with its teenage protagonists, should have crossover appeal in today’s young adult fantasy market.

Oh, yeah. By all means, let's work in the literary term bildungsroman, and talk about what "should" be. And how about this?
The genre’s hidden royalty trope is just one of several ways in which the novel explores how external influences affect who we become.

Actually, the original sentence was even worse than the above, but I don't remember exactly how it went originally. But it was wordy and pretentious, I can promise you that, and it repeated much of was said in another sentence, two paragraphs away.

The current version still mentions YA appeal, but not with the weasel word "should," nor the borrowed German term for "coming of age novel." But yes, I did keep the word "trope." Is that a bad thing?


1 comment:

Paul said...

I loved Captain Kangaroo as a kid! With Mr. Greenjeans, and whoever that moose guy was. And someone was always getting a load of ping pong balls dumped over their heads. Ah, good times!