Sunday, January 29, 2012

Babylon 5 & Breaking Bad Update!

The film class (which you can follow on Twitter using the hashtag #cccfilmclass) has launched, but the real work on the material doesn't start until tomorrow - it's orientation right now to make sure all the students can navigate around the course and give them time to set up Adobe reader, Flash player, get a Netflix account and so on.  So while I expect to discuss the films and the students' reactions to them, that won't begin for a couple of weeks.

Which gives me time to discuss a couple of other things.

1.  Recently, my husband and I began a re-watch (for him) and a watch (for me) of Straczynski's Babylon 5.  We spend the week apart, due to work/school obligations, so we latched on to the Very Good Idea of picking a series to watch (last year it was Supernatural) so we have something other than work/school obligations to talk about.  So far, we've picked good stuff that caught our interest.  

Now, I'm a science fiction fan, but I'd missed this one.  We're now finished with the first two seasons and I have to say that there's a lot to recommend this series.  The effects are limited by mid-90s CGI technology, but even that can be forgiven, given the show's ambition and charm.  Actions have consequences, characters grow and change and have to live with what they've done.  In addition to all this, Babylon 5 deserves to be remembered for Straczynski's vision - this is the show that brought the "long arc" to television in a setting outside of soap operas.  Broadcast over five full-length seasons, Straczynski had mapped out what he wanted to happen with themes and characters so small bits in Season 1 will come back much, much later.  Like all really good science fiction, it asks the Big Questions, far more so than most so-called "reality television," which mostly consists of people doing snarky things to one another, but not really having consequences of their actions.  Stick with Quality Television and avoid the dreck.

We're living in the midst of a resurgence of Quality Television right now, with television often taking on complex stories and three-dimensional characters with more success than film.  For so very long, TV has been seen as film's slower, less attractive little brother and that is changing.  Don't get me wrong; plenty of TV is dreck (as are many movies, which often fall back on star power, fart jokes, and formulaic plotlines), but try the too-soon gone Firefly or revel in the nigh-Shakespearean language of Deadwood, or just let your jaw drop at the first seven episodes of Breaking Bad.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  

2.  Speaking of Breaking Bad, the project proceeds.  (And the Dude abides, for the Big Lebowski fans out there.)  I've finished working my way through the first season and it truly is incredible how much happens in a "measly" seven episodes and it's downright astonishing how this show hit the ground running.  There is none of the usual "finding its feet" that I expect with any new show (or new art in general - it usually takes time to find your voice).  Aside - I really like the T-shirt my co-author is wearing here and if you say your an author, you have an obligation to meet that deadline!

I think we both have found our "grooves" - remember that we also both have full-time jobs and writing a book is not something you do in your "spare time;" you have to have a schedule and a plan (at least I do).  My co-author is ahead of me in the viewing and adding of notes, but I've reached my January goal of watching and noting the first season and it's a give-and-take.  One week I'll be ahead, one week he'll be ahead.  Just depends on everything else going on at any given time.  Check back in as Wanna Cook? comes into being.  You can check here or at my co-author's blog (click here) or follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #wannacook.

Let me check in on my class - back soon!

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