Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Lone Gunmen - Three Men and a Smoking Diaper





I won’t deny this: as much as I love these guys, TLG, some of the episodes in their series just leave much to be desired with me. I have nothing against lightweight, light-hearted material, but I can’t help but feel while watching the show that there is so much more potential in the characters and their use. Regardless, this episode deals with TLG pursuing evidence on a Southern Senator who might have been involved in the death of an aid to his campaign which resulted in a child. TLG find this child with Frohike and Langly taking care of him while Byers and Jimmy Bond seek out proof against Senator Jefferson (Christopher Rich). A “deep throat” within the campaign offers clues to Jefferson’s affairs, illegitimate child, and the aid’s death. Jimmy even snookers his way into a campaign job, gaining trust with Jefferson’s two main aids (Randy Becker & Enid-Raye Adams) despite some really goofish behavior (the whole glue/envelope fiasco has to be seen to be believed).

Rich’s senator is obviously modeled after Billy Clinton, with the inability to remain faithful to his wife but full of folksy charm and people-pleasing appeal. He winds up copping to his mistakes in front of the world but TLG soon realize that maybe he isn’t as responsible for the heinous crime of murder as first believed. When you see TLG on the X-Files, their use was always quite fascinating and often included UFOs and the government Mulder often encountered difficulty with. The show so far has them dealing with dangers not all that threatening. Sure murder happens from time to time but the presentation doesn’t dwell on that with any real gut-wrenching potency. In this episode Langly and Frohike are having quite a hard time with the crying baby, teething as Yves soon informs them, her holding the toddler eventually bringing quiet after much noise. The baby even takes a nice, long piss on Langly with Frohike quite amused! Efforts to get evidence on the senator take an ironic turn when it is Jimmy asked to infiltrate the campaign for goods to be shed to light in an expose for TLG’s paper. Jimmy is very much a part of the show as TLG, a surprise to me considering I just thought their adventures would be consistently featuring the trio involving themselves in all sorts of government trouble. Instead we have Langly face to face with a cop regarding comments about his hair. Just the same, I love the cast and their personalities, and how situations make fun of them is toned with affection. I mean when you have Frohike posing as a patient suffering sever flatulence so that Langly can gain access to information on a physician's computer, it should come as no surprise that little about the show goes for the jugular...

Scream - The Dance / Revelations



This is the conclusion of the first season, the final two episodes.




Emma finally meets her tormenter and out of the remaining characters the final two episodes will determine who that is. The seesaw drama for Emma will at least conclude for a little while and she will finally discover the perpetrator of the one causing her all her ills.

At least for the first season, Emma will appear to have the killer unveiled and know who she can and cannot trust. The slasher genre loves to reveal its killer as someone unexpected, a total surprise for the prey. He or she has concocted a certain personality or behavior that doesn’t necessarily warrant suspicion. 



I realized in the middle of the final episode of Scream: The TV Series, the first season, Revelations, that I felt confidant the killer was Piper. It was a tell when Piper kept returning to Emma about visits to Brandon James’ mom. It was this supposed revelation that Kieran was the face she recalled of the “son” that visited her…key is that Piper has been visiting her regularly and then coming to Emma with things she said (“incoherent ramblings”). I couldn’t rid myself of that nagging detail of “who hit Piper and carried off Will as she passed out?” And sure enough Noah’s narrative monologue at the very end addressed that, with Audrey held as suspect as the show faded to black. Audrey had an encounter with Scream killer at the party of Brooke’s on the Halloween Dance night (the first of the two part finale of the first season) as the teens attending saw an obnoxious dead kid in the pool restroom dead, fleeing like roaches at the light of a flicked switch. Later Audrey emerges relatively unharmed, freaking out an on-edge Noah, crowbar in hand, who (while all by his lonesome) was obviously anxious. It is a development that didn’t go unnoticed by me. One thing I was surprised by was the lack of victims in Revelations. I realize that there is a second season in mind, but the show made damn sure Brooke survives what should have been a “certain death” situation where she was caught dead to rites. While running from Scream killer, Brooke flees into her dad’s “workshop”, hiding in the most obvious hiding place known to man…the freezer!!! My God, the freezer! And even when absolutely trapped with the blade of Scream killer’s knife easily perforating the freezer and cutting Brooke, she’s left alone. Scream killer just plugs up the freezer and clocks her inside. Understanding that her friends are available to rescue her in time, Scream killer just leaves her be…why??? And Scream killer has plenty of time to pick off the kids. Like Noah? Why spare him? To see Emma suffer as Piper chillingly dictates to her with psychopathic glee, why allow any of them to survive? I know, because there is a second season needing regulars to potentially bump off in the future. I get that. I understand that Noah and Audrey (hinted at as a potential suspicious character by episode’s end, to reiterate) are beloved characters. The show hit that off well by good casting of likable actors, John Kama and Bex Taylor-Klaus. So bumping them off might be a disservice of the series. That’s the Catch-22 really. Positioned as a slasher genre show, when someone isn’t being bumped off, and everyone close to the “final girl” stays alive and healthy, it can end up being detrimental to those in charge of creative. 


There were slasher fans who fucking hated Williamson for Scream and its sequels. There are fans of the genre who don’t like all the self-referential parodying. The pop culture referencing and wise-cracks about the genre that Noah serves in every scene of the series. That is the tried and true formula of those films and this series. I’m not of that number although I did find the PG-13 efforts to the genre after Scream (1996) were bumming me out. I like the heavy, extreme assault the slasher genre can be. It can unsettle and even shock. Craven and Williamson tamed that beast with their movies. Some don’t mind the genre being made fun of. I didn’t exactly but I get the rage against the Hollywood machine that wanted to popularize and sanitize the genre that purposely often intended to leave a bad taste and hit whatever nerve it could. That—besides the extremes it often flaunted such as nudity and graphic violence, misogyny and blunt force approach to its use of psychotic behavior—and the behind the curtain knowledge of how slasher films conduct themselves often mentioned by a “know-it-all” character doesn’t always charm every slasher fan that watches.

Scream, the show, built itself on the past, as the slasher genre so often does. Actions of the past surface in the present and because a mother decided to abandon her child, accidentally lead the father to his unintended doom, and allow the town of Lakewood to consider him a serial killer, what currently happens to Emma is visited upon Maggie.


A credit to the show is how it certifies that everyone has secrets. Even if the secrets are perhaps reasonably questionable, they serve as swerves more than anything else. But that is an intended weapon any screenwriter of a slasher or mystery thriller would use to their advantage. In The Dance, a recording backed up by Rachel (deleted from her computer) on the Cloud and uncovered by Audrey shows Kieran leaving a bar with Nina. Does it implicate Kieran? The very next night Nina was dead and there she was seemingly walking out of the bar for some hanky-panky with Kieran, the new boyfriend of Emma. In The Dance, Emma and Kieran even match costumes as Mia and Vinnie Vega from Pulp Fiction (well the show, as was the movies, is a product of Dimension and the Weinsteins), with Noah offering just the right song for the couple to pay homage to Tarantino’s film. Kieran is rightfully offended for being considered untrustworthy, explaining to Emma that he met a drunken Nina in a bar (before knowing her and not quite willing to offer this information to anyone as he felt it wouldn’t have helped with the investigation of her demise). And he has no idea of what has happened to his father.

Hud is restless about making sure no one else dies, still unsettled by Riley’s death. Even though they have Seth in custody, a knife conveniently found and knowledge of malware on his computer certainly painting him as worthy of being potentially guilty, Hud still wants to be altogether sure. He finds who he’s looking for but it is to his peril. And for extra punch, the killer allows Maggie to pull away adhesive holding in Hud’s intestines! Scream killer’s actions derive from her father’s absence, taken from her thanks to a mom that is responsible. So Emma’s suffering further serves as a twisting knife in Maggie. Yes, Piper commits wholly to the entire process, perfectly serving as an observer and confidante. She earns trust and offers faux empathy. Her tech abilities to cut off cell communication and spread uncomfortable recordings, implicating folks that revolve around Emma were quite extensive and impressive (if implausible). The show, like the genre it represents, can’t escape its contrivances. The use of tech to manipulate her enemies and orchestrate the game is designed to carry us along to the grand finale but I don’t think of us will completely swallow that this elaborate is totally believable. It gives us quite a ride, and Piper, sure to the slasher killers of the past, delivers the expected motivations behind it all. Noah follows after her to close the show out. Heroic maneuvers result in Piper retaliating and the ladies (Maggie and Emma) enduring “battle scars” for such lofty efforts.
 

Really didn’t care much for the whole Brooke/Jake angle that seemed to be developing because both are a bit full of themselves (or at least present personas that say as much). Which I reckon is the point: here are these two teenagers who devote a lot of time to how they are received by their peers in high school. Why wouldn’t they be stuck together eventually? I found it remarkable Jake made it through the entire season alive. Brooke was as good as dead but somehow the writers found it in their heart to allow her to refrain from kicking the bucket. They bicker and find common ground, but I don’t see this as any future couple. Getting on each other’s nerves by flirting with other teens at Brooke’s party eventually has them confronting the issue which they resolve. There, I’ll just leave it at that.







It is all put together, typically with all the puzzle pieces intact, and the killer seeks to finish it off with a gang. In the finale the killer talks too much and is too showy, when all the time before this everything was methodical, clever, and orchestrated with specific results. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, really. To lose control after having so much for every episode prior to this, seeing it all fall apart for the killer at the end kind of causes pause. Just the same, it was to be expected.



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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...