Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Ice Age

Okay. I've had it. The delusional, crazy Russians have forced me to write an entire blog post about skating. But it's an ANGRY blog post about skating, so perhaps those of you who are now going, "Skating? Seriously??! Fuck" will stick around.

Deep breath.

If anyone can be touted as the poster boy for the myth of the American work ethic, it's new Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek. Perhaps you've seen him all over your TeeVee the past few days -- he's the American who isn't Apolo Anton Ohno, Shawn White or Bode Miller. And he defeated perhaps the strongest field of skaters ever assembled at an Olympics: The reigning Olympic gold medalist and three other world champions. Reigning world champion himself, Lysacek wasn't supposed to win Olympic gold. A lot of people didn't even have him on the podium. Lysacek would have to be perfect to beat Daisuke Takahashi, Stephane Lambiel, Patrick Chan and Jeremy Abbott. And there was no way Lysacek -- or anyone, for that matter -- was going to overcome the command and quad of Evgeny Plushenko (the aforementioned Olympic gold medalist). After all, Plushenko had dramatically come out of retirement to win another gold medal, so he could be the first make skater since Dick Button to win back-to-back golds.

Based on his first few events, the gold was going to be a walk in the park for Plushenko, as has every event since Alexei Yagudin retired. The judges love him. They always have, no matter how he skated. I remember Plushenko as a skinny teenager, an impressive jumper who had a ton of potential. Once he achieved world status, however, his development kind of... stopped. He could always jump, but there was only one program of his that ever moved me and he just never returned to that. He started believing in his own hype, mugging to the audience and winking at the judges. You know; shit you do in Stars On Ice. You don't dress up like a Lite Brite, mince your way through bad tango music and call it an Olympic program. But Plushenko did, and as far as he was concerned, his reputation -- combined with basically staying on his feet -- should have been plenty for him to distance the Olympic field. He skated early in the short and had a huge lead until Lysacek and Takahashi skated. And then you could see it in his eyes -- how the FUCK are these two quadless Yakovs anywhere NEAR me? Less than a POINT? What the everloving hell??

All week, it was about Plushenko trying to intimidate the other skaters. And all week, Evan Lysacek went out and practiced and ignored it. When it came down to the final flight of six skaters, it was Lysacek's precision and perfection that intimidated Plushenko. And frankly, I think that's what got Plushenko angry. He LET himself be intimidated. He wasn't the champion who fights anymore. He was the champion who should just be given a gold medal based on the one he'd already won. He didn't skate to win the gold. He skated not to lose it. And NOBODY who does that comes out victorious. Lysacek wasn't conservative, either. He WENT for it. His program WAS difficult.

Plushenko's always been arrogant, which is usually backed up by his amazing jumping ability. But what Plushenko forgot after three years away was that guys like Lysacek (and Japanese wonder Takahashi) have used those three years to work the new Code of Points system. In a system where a skater accrues points and grades of execution (both positive and negative) for elements completed (jumps, spins, footwork), it behooves the skaters and coaches to know how to maximize those points. The days of being able to blind the judges with your marquee wattage and high-flying jumps are over. Now, it's MUCH harder to do that, because actual numbers are involved. And in COP, the skater gets a bonus for jumps done in the second half of the long program. Plushenko didn't skate smart; he front-loaded the jumps, like he did under the old system. Lysacek, on the other hand, had four jumping passes in the bonus part of the program, and was rewarded accordingly. For, you know, UNDERSTANDING THE RULES.

To Plushenko, however, show-quality choreography and a quad-triple combination should have won him the gold, but it didn't. Plushenko had skated under the new system at the Torino Olympics but the system was less than a year old at that point, and everybody was still basically constructing programs under the old system, which means people hadn't learned how to maximize the point system yet. Lysacek's more intricate and much smarter choreographed program, complete with beautifully landed jumps (more than Plushenko) gave him the edge. As it should have. But his victory came at a price. There's a controversy a-brewin', a totally made up, bullshit controversy where Russia forgets the COLD WAR IS OVER and tries to tarnish Lysacek's gold. And the press, those morons, are falling for it. Because the majority of sports columnists and talk-show hosts don't understand skating. And they loves them a scandal, especially an Olympic skating scandal. We've had such fun with those! So they allow this nonsense to continue, and then they confront Lysacek with it.

And he shows impossible class and grace. It's quite staggering, really, that he never gets angry, and doesn't have a bad word to say about Plushenko's lack of manners and sportsmanship. In fact, all he's done, over and over, is praise Plushenko's star quality and talent. All he's said beyond that is that he's disappointed that one of his heroes was trying to tarnish the gold. I mean, that's IT. That's as righteous and angry as Lysacek has gotten. In this age of bad actors (nice "apology," Tiger), Lysacek is a breath of fresh air. It's so old school, isn't it? To show grace under pressure. Not only does Lysacek do that, but it's the WAY he won the gold that's so unbelievably impressive it belongs on a Wheaties box.

He worked his ASS off. He did everything he possibly could to make sure he was completely prepared for the Olympics. And his coach, the inestimable Frank Carroll, couldn't have planned the Olympic trajectory any better. Lysacek never peaked throughout the season. He skated well, and just kept working. He didn't win Nationals, but it didn't matter. He'd worked SO hard that he had eliminated all doubts. When he went out to skate his short program in Vancouver, he was totally ready, and he delivered. The "doubt" thing, by the way, is such a great lesson for everyone. The last thing an Olympian wants is to think, after their event, that they didn't lay all their cards on the table. Lysacek knew that no matter the result, he had skated his best. Fortunately, he was rewarded for it. Unfortunately, he's getting attacked by a guy who knew coming off the ice that he didn't skate his best.

But hey, a hard-working guy who maximizes his talent and just keeps his head down and doesn't talk smack isn't interesting, right? Now, everybody has to be a character. They need excuses for their failures. They need someone else to blame if something goes wrong. They call Lysacek "staid" and "robotic." They say there's no spark, that there's nothing special about him. They expect their transformative Olympic moment, which I find hilarious because Plushenko wasn't exactly transcendent in Torino. And he certainly wasn't transcendent in Vancouver. He GOT credit for the quad, and Lysacek got credit for his program. Although I personally thought Plushenko was overmarked in the long program, I don't have a problem with the podium. Hell, I don't even have a problem with Johnny Weir's magical skate being only sixth best. I wish he'd done more technically. But Johnny Weir isn't a Russian Olympic champion who lands quads while he's walking down the street. Therefore, he's not going to get credit for his reputation. Some people, in fact, thought Weir was penalized for his reputation. I dunno... I just wish he'd done what Lysacek did -- erased every single doubt, every possibility to be discredited. And Lysacek's perfection WAS transcendent. My God, was it.

Plushenko did get credit for his reputation. And he got A LOT of credit. But it wasn't enough against the American who just went out and did the thing that we, as Americans, are supposed to appreciate and teach our kids -- HE WORKED HARD. But the world's different now, and so is our country. Now, we root out scandal and we create it when it doesn't exist. We've got reality show stars whose heinous behavior nets them fame. And we have American Idol and the myriad dancing shows that are all about quick fame and fortune. Fuck working hard. Just go on TeeVee and win a singing contest. Skip all that "working" bullshit.

Lysacek didn't skip all that bullshit. He fucking EMBRACED it and Goddam if it didn't actually pay off. Lysacek is a passionate, intense, lyrical skater who LEARNED how to skate like that. He WORKED at it, and he brought it out, with the help of Frank Carroll's genius. And people like Plushenko and fucking PUTIN (not even kidding) are trying to minimize that. They're getting help from the know-nothing press and idiot skaters like Elvis Stojko, who could ONLY jump (so no big surprise), but don't people understand that they are undermining the sport? Not only is Lysacek a wonderfully deserving gold medalist but he's also proven himself to be a classy human being, which is the very point of the Olympic spirit as well, no? Stojko's countryman, Kurt Browning, commented that the right guy won, and that Lysacek's composure since this faux-controversy broke is as deserving of a gold medal as his skate. Here is a gold medalist who never took the easy way out. He didn't do the quad because, as he said, he worked SO hard at every other element that the quad was never the end-all to his program or to his performance. Lysacek's out there showing everyone that skating is a fully realized sport and not just one fucking jump, and he has to answer all these ridiculous questions? Come ON.

Lysacek made a choice. So did Plushenko. Lysacek's paid off. Plushenko's did not. I don't think Plushenko realizes how much the new scoring system has changed skating since he won in Torino. Which pisses me off, frankly, because that means he doesn't care enough about the sport and really trying his best to make the effort. With the skaters maximizing the point system, it's WAY harder to do a quad AND all the other elements. That's what Plushenko lacked. There are VERY few men in the world who do the quad and NONE of them have the levels and intricacy of Lysacek's program. They all know, by this time, that unless the quad is 100% reliable, it's not cost effective. That's called STRATEGY, Russia. BTW.

Now if we actually take Plushenko seriously, that an Olympic champion HAS to land the quad, then what do we do if two skaters land quads? How do we decide that result? And what if no skaters land quads? Do we not give out the gold? And looking back to previous Olympics, if quads are the most important defining element, then the 2002 Salt Lake City results are scandalous. Because bronze medalist Timothy Goebel landed THREE quads. Gold medalist Yagudin and silver medalist Plushenko only landed two. I didn't hear Plushenko yowling about that, but I guess it only matters when a guy beats you. And Goebel didn't complain, either, but then Goebel was also a classy individual. And Goebel's coach, ironically enough, was Frank Carroll. Goebel, who was known as the Quad King when he skated, came out yesterday and defended both Lysacek AND the quad. He'd like to see more skaters trying it but the judging system penalized skaters heavily for failing to land it. Maybe Plushenko should spend less time setting up the quad and learn to do intricate footwork that's not all on his toepicks, or spins that don't travel halfway across the ice. He can raise the levels on that footwork and use actual EDGES. He could fix his spin positions, which make him look like the thousand-year-old man. He could try landing all the OTHER jumps cleanly, too. In short, he could put in all the work Lysacek did, instead of just waving his Torino gold at the judges and expecting another.

What Plushenko has done here is heinous. He's the worst example of a sore loser, a graceless, classless individual whose garish, prancy program was simply not Olympic gold medal quality. One thing athletes need to be successful is a sense of personal honesty. Skaters like Lysacek know when they haven't skated their best. But skaters like Plushenko, apparently, do not. The press needs to listen to the skating analysts, the people who actually KNOW the ins and outs of the sport. It's irresponsible to do anything else.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Endless Art

I've been juggling projects, watching the new TeeVee, and now the Goddam Olympics are starting. The blog is feeling neglected, but the blog can fuck itself unless it can do a triple axel. I think the recipe is five minutes of sports to every hour of incoherent, erroneous blathering by NBC morons. I also made the mistake of catching the local "news," which airs right after the Olympics coverage. If there's something more hilarious than clueless newscasters stumbling through unfamiliar names, terminologies and countries, I don't know what it is.

But there's been new TeeVee recently. It almost looks like a brand-new season, which means we'll have about four TeeVee seasons throughout the year, which makes things very complicated. TeeVee ALL THE TIME!! So far, the CW premiered Life Unexpected, a show described as Juno meets Gilmore Girls. It's not Juno at all, actually. It's Gilmore Girls, if Lorelai had given Rory up for adoption and then Rory came back into her life sixteen years later, while wearing ragamuffin clothes and a knit cap. And if Rory was a little sassier and more street-wise and had a boyfriend who's about twenty years older than she is. Or something. Not sure how the show's doing for them, although the critics love it. My guess is that it's not quite matching the numbers they need. The CW has ensconced itself in the teen demographic and there are grown-ups on Life Unexpected. And no vampires. Yet, anyway. The tween audience lives in hope. It's too bad that a drama about people can't make it on the TeeVee. Well, maybe later.

Anyway. Also premiering is season three of Damages, which couldn't be any better cast. Lily Tomlin, Martin Short, Campbell Scott and Len Cariou? The Bernie Madoff scandal? Pretty sweet. I've always liked how Damages handles time, and how the show's able to keep up the tension of a thriller for thirteen episodes. It's a great case study for how an effective mythology can enrich your show. There's a great sense of urgency to each scene, regardless of what's happening. I don't feel like this show gets a lot of love which is really too bad.

And then Caprica premiered. I hadn't watched the pilot early (pre-watched, I guess), so I was totally new to the show. I can't say enough about the world the writers and production designers have created. It's got a tingle of Blade Runner and they wisely use the Vancouver architecture and modern clothing. It feels like a lived-in world and I quite like the delineation of races. E.g, the Taurons being lower on the food chain. I thought the pilot was quite effective but that effectiveness is a potential weakness. It's SO clear in the first episode how the Cylons were created and how and why they believe in a single god. The challenge for the show is to keep the audience's interest, to seed in new revelations and surprises, which they've done pretty well so far. I like the way they're using Zoe as the Cylon and keeping that character present. And the cast is fantastic. Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales are particularly wonderful. I can't imagine it's going to become a laugh riot anytime soon, even though that's what the network truly wants. If only they can do that goofy, silly, light Warehouse 13 crossover, then maybe the network will be happy with the show. Because everyone knows that speculative fiction has to be fucking hilarious.

But there ARE lighter shows on the air. Chuck's been embracing the twist at the end of last season. I particularly like the addition of super-spy Shaw to the team. Shaw actually sees Chuck as a spy, where Sarah and Casey don't. Since the show, for me, is character against a backdrop of fun spy stuff, I'm interested to see where this goes. And Chuck seems to be doing well for NBC on Mondays, so maybe it'll continue to have a life.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned Men Of A Certain Age yet, but is anyone else watching this show but me? It's refreshing to see a show featuring men where they're not all pigs, misogynists or wife-beating cops. This show isn't afraid to show indecisive, uncertain men. And I like the characters all the more for it. They're questioning who they are, the decisions they've made, and who they could be. Why should that be the lone domain of female-driven shows? And we get to watch Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher and the somewhat revelatory Ray Romano. He's so good here that you forget about his comedy roots. I really wonder if men are watching this show, or if the guys on the show just aren't strong enough in that obvious male way that media has repeatedly sold audiences. The season finale is next week, which makes me very sad. But Breaking Bad is coming back soon, which makes me very happy.

I'd like to see this kind of a show about women. Desperate Housewives gets it every once in awhile but it still falls into the trap of the beautiful mother or divorcee. I mean, God forbid there should be a show about women without kids. America's collective head would pop off. And even Scott Bakula's character on Men Of A Certain Age is thinking about a life with kids. But most male characters on TeeVee who don't have children aren't beholden by the TeeVee gods to pine for them. Women, however, MUST answer that question. Or they have to be like the women in Sex In The City -- superficial, riddled with cancer (everyone knows that cancer is instant character development), and insecure due to lack of a man.

Just glancing over the pilots the networks recently ordered, there are a lot of men being rude twenty-somethings and legal/cop shows, but the character drama doesn't feature prominently. And no, that's not a surprise. It's just a disappointment. Still, I'm looking forward to reading the new pilots and hopefully finding something exciting.

So far I've read one -- Chaos, by Tom Spezialy for 20th TV/CBS. I want to stop reading pilots now because DAMN, is Chaos well-written! It doesn't feel like a CBS show, sadly, but I really enjoyed it and I'm pulling for it to get on. Looking forward to seeing it when it's shot.

Lastly, Dollhouse has finally wound down. I have to say, Joss Whedon's grand experiment had a fitting finale and a terrific final half. People dismissed this show virtually out of hand, and then proceeded to whine about the dearth of good TeeVee. But people don't give shows a chance, do they? I've certainly been guilty of that so I can't really accuse anyone of it. I just wish we weren't that way. I wish we didn't judge things so immediately. I know why we do (far too many shiny things out there), but we've lost the ability to nurture the creative process. We demand it to be GOOD NOW, Goddam it! This utterly destroys the chance to experiment, or to find your voice. And it's TEEVEE, for God's sake. It's thirteen or twenty-two hours worth of drama. It stands to reason that the team behind a show needs a grace period to find its way.

Not only are shows not given this chance, pilots aren't, either. They're second-guessed to such a degree that we get a lot of pilot pablum. The creators aren't allowed to stand by things the way they used to. And that's a shame.

Ultimately, though, I hope people discover Dollhouse on DVD. And I do have to put in a mention for Olivia Williams, who consistently gave one of the most staggeringly great performances I've seen in a long time. Adele DeWitt was a complicated, prickly character in the best of times and Williams just fucking went for it. What a rich, well-rounded character. It's a shame that she won't be recognized for it.

And Lost is back, but if I start talking about that now, this post will never end.

A few comments, to keep current:
Stephen Gallagher says:
With you on Dick Francis. If only publishing still favoured such short, taut, gulp-it-down thrillers instead of the great unstructured slabs of literary lard that have taken their place.

It's HARD to write books like that! The convention wisdom has always said that "literary" books are much harder to write than easy-to-devour mysteries. That's just not true. It's not true in TeeVee or movies, either. Just because something's fun to watch doesn't mean it's not hard to produce, and it doesn't mean that less work goes into it. Unfortunately, the world of publishing seems to have been inundated with shlocky Knights Templar thrillers (thanks, Dan Brown). I've read ONE good one, that was written before Dan Brown got his hands on the genre. Well, created the genre, I guess. How is it that NONE of these books is a bit fun? They're all tedious exercises on the merits of the Catholic Church. SO boring. If I read ONE more of these that starts out with some monk or priest ruminating about his faith, I'm going to eat my own hair.

And now Dick Francis has died, which has sent me right into mourning.

Maybe apposite to your thoughts about TV staffing, maybe not, but it's now acknowledged that Francis's wife Mary was a major uncredited collaborator in the writing of the novels. No one goes so far as to say that she ghosted them, but even the family sail pretty close to it.

Yup. I remember hearing about this ages ago and then when she died, he retired. If she ghosted them, whatever. They were great, entertaining books with a clean, efficient prose style. And the newer books, with his son Felix, are as well. I don't think they've been as good but there was one that was absolutely terrific. I think it was Silks. Dick Francis will be greatly missed. There's one more book coming out this year, I think.

Jeff says,
One thing I find interesting is thenumber of gay showrunners/writers. You would think an environment is a bit of a boys club, which has resisted female writers, would also be hesitant towards gays(I'm not saying any discrimination is right). Is it at all possible that exec's answer to needing people to write female voices was to have gay males write them?

You know, I have no idea. But that's an interesting thought. I honestly don't think execs think much about female voices, or writing for female characters. They figure if they get their requisite lower-level female writer on staff, she can tell the male writers when they underwrite vaginas.

Till next week, gentle readers!!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Leaders Of the Free World

So everything's different now because the Apple tablet, called the iPad, has been revealed. And it's... a big iPhone. A nice shiny beautiful iPhone, but an iPhone nonetheless. It's a gaming device and a media player (sans Flash, of course) and it has a virtual keyboard that you won't be able to really type on, and it will have a bookstore -- iBooks -- where you can buy enough books to burn out your corneas. I really want an e-reader, but I also want my corneas. While I like the idea that you can read comic books and magazines on the iPad, I do not think that it's going to become a real serious e-reader. And I don't think Apple does either. My guess is that they're going under the assumption that people don't read that much. And I guess for the most part, they don't.

What's funny about it (in a horrifying way) is the recent e-book pricing war between Amazon and Macmillan. Macmillan wants to raise the price of e-book "hardcovers," or whatever they're going to be called when they're just bytes. Amazon doesn't, because e-books are a loss leader for them. So Amazon kicked up its heels and took all Macmillan books off the site. Amazon has since capitulated in a super-childish way. So Macmillan, whom Amazon claims has a "monopoly" on their books, is going to get its way and the price of e-books on Amazon will go up.

I hope the authors get some of that. I doubt very much that they will.

One issue is that it doesn't cost anything to physically produce and ship and stock an e-book. So then you're talking about digital delivery and this is where the creator will always get screwed. See, to the creator, just as much work goes into something that's delivered digitally as something that's produced physically. But forget about that, right? Because this hasn't been about the creative end of things for a very long time. Corporate business-robots run everything and just can't grok what it means to create something.

In TeeVee, Nikki Finke recently wrote this breathless expose on the shocking, hidden fact that a shockingly large majority of pilots picked up were written by men. Hurm. You don't say. I'm so shocked by this news! The bigger issue is how incredibly biased the staffing system is. See, women can only write certain things, but men can write everything. Although older men can't get the "voice" of today's youth, but younger men can write any voice. studios and networks are pretty open about this. They'll put the call out for their token woman, or their token diversity hire (which, oddly, doesn't include women). Some shows will be trolling for an upper-level woman (this looks good in the credits), and others will want a lower-level woman (that's safer). Some shows don't give a shit about gender and just want the best writers. But this is becoming sadly rare.

So this report about pilots may come as a shock to some, but it isn't the real story.

I will note, however, that the CW's new "break-out hit," Life Unexpected, is a staff comprised of almost all women. That is unbelievably rare. I don't know if that was a conscious choice and I know people will argue that it's just as unfair to consciously staff a show of mostly women as it is to staff one of mostly men. However, since the latter is the rule and the former the rare exception, I do believe you can fuck off. I know there are white male writers who've not gotten jobs because the network or studio has decided they need a woman in that position, but try comparing your experience to the experience of all female writers and I think you'll find things quite a bit different. I wish things were shockingly equal and the best writers got the job no matter what. But that just isn't how things work.

What I don't mind and will NEVER mind no matter how many times it bites me in the ass, though, is when showrunners hire people they know. I already know who would be on my show if I had one and it's not just about hiring friends. It's just much riskier to hire a staff of people you don't know, especially given how tough it is to get a new show off the ground. Being able to know what to expect from your staff is less you have to worry about.

Some comments, which are woefully late but January turned busy all of a sudden:

There used to be general rule that your favorite Doctor was the one you saw when you first regularly started watching the show (in my case, Tom Baker). May the TV Goddess help the McGann fans (and wasn't that an intended pilot for an aborted Fox show? **cough**)

That seems to work with people who started watching it when they were kids, doesn't it? I would hope that the McGann fans would have gone on and watched the new series, thereby switching their allegiances. I seem to vaguely remember a stab at an American series... it's dumb, really, because why create an American show when the British show is so great? Why ask for those comparisons? Although they ARE doing it with "Being Human," which I haven't watched yet but which everyone seems to like. Unless they don't. I think a show like "Doctor Who" would work beautifully in the U.S. We just haven't seen it yet.

Although now, apparently, we're going to get an American version of Torchwood, thanks to Fox. The good news is that Russell Davies is writing the pilot. The bad news is that we're going to get an American version of Torchwood. How is that going to go, exactly? I can see how there would be a Torchwood hub in America, but you lose all the richness of that mythology. Because I can't imagine Fox is going to be too excited about all the Doctor Who baggage that comes with Torchwood. We'll see, I guess... I am very excited to read the pilot when it's done.

Dan sez:
I think RTD has his pro's and con's, basically. His internal logic is haywire, he's guilty of overindulging himself, and I've hated how he ret-cons his own work, or brings back characters who got a fitting farewell for no real reason. But he clearly doesn't care, if his commentaries are any indication. He thinks all of those concerns are just fanboy whining, which is only partly true. I mean, I don't care that former incarnations of The Master never complained about hearing drums, but that seems to irritate many geeks. But, I do care that RTD's scripts are often so freewheeling and supremely silly, or illogical. For eg: he told us Donna can never remember the events of series 4 (or she'll die), but then the finale had her remember, with no such ramifications. In fact, remembering even helped the script get out of a tight spot by "defending" her with a weird "brain-flash"(?") Weird. It just gives you the sense he's making it all up as he goes along (which I guess he is), and I'm not a fan of that writing style. I need more stability and less "cheating" to buy into the universe he created. Otherwise, deaths and amnesia mean nothing, if you know the showrunner can and usually will find a way to make none of it matter.

Still, RTD has his good points: he's one of the best writers of Doctor dialogue, he can be quite funny, and there's a certain charm to some of his episodes. But, they mainly disappoint me, with a few exceptions ("Midnight", say.)

You know what I like about Davies? He doesn't hide the unimpeachable fact that he is (was) the showrunner. The decisions were his. And he knows how he works and that it is sometimes infuriating to the audience, but that's how he works and he won't apologize for it. That's how he likes to create. And if everyone doesn't love it, well... then they don't. But the SECOND you try to please individual members of an audience, YOU ARE FUCKED. I don't disagree with the criticisms, but I absolutely love that he stands by who he is as a writer. I will say that the way Tennant's Doctor went out was, for me, pitch-perfect. The highs of what Davies does are just so damned HIGH. And "Midnight" is fucking amazing. Total agreement there.

But at least we can agree Steven Moffat is a genius. If he brings just 1/10th of the talent we've seen so far to a full series of DW, well... prepare for the best genre sci-fi of 2010 in a few months. The prospect of SIX tent-pole episodes of Blink or Fireplace's quality has me giddy with excitement. I daresay we'll be reflecting on RTD's tenure with embarrassment once Moffat shows us what he can do by the summer.

Ah, I don't think it'll go THAT far! Well, with some people it may, I suppose. But what Davies brought to the franchise is allowing it to continue under Moffat's supervision. So there's always that. What I love is how experienced both of these guys are. We don't always get that over here. I'm with you, though. Looking forward to thirteen episodes featuring Moffat's thought process. Bliss.

Speaking of the Doctor's final moments, here's an article from TV Squad about how much it sucked. Some excerpts:

What irked me so much about Tennant's final adventure as The Doctor? Davies did everything during his tenure as executive producer to weaken one of TV's greatest heroes -- to corrupt him and make him less of a heroic figure. Maybe he wanted to humanize The Doctor. Or maybe Davies is cursed by too much cynicism to allow for heroes.

But Davies really trashed The Doctor in these final tales. Why he would do that to a show he loved and wanted to bring back is beyond me. Yes, The Doctor fought back another alien invasion of Earth and bested The Master, but Davies sent The Doctor out crying like a petulant child. In what should've been Tennant's chance to finish up with nobility and heroism, he died whimpering under a layer of pretentious opera music.

There is little that irritates me more than the misguided notion that a hero always has to act heroically. They are unimpeachable. They never struggle. They are never selfish. They don't get scared. They are Teflon. How fucking boring is that? If the Doctor sailed through the last few episodes and jauntily died, I wouldn't care. This Doctor struggled. He got angry and scared. He was pushed to the limit. And then he came back from it. He saved Wilf, and he died. It was pretty fucking obvious that he didn't want to. He even says it. The Doctor regained his humanity after "The Waters of Mars," and he made the right choice.

Sorry, TV Squad, but that's a hero right there. You guys should really pay closer attention.

More non-Who comments. Bill sez:
Sorry, Kay but the perfect template for a "horse show" has in my mind always been the underrated THE RACING GAME based on the Dick Francis thrillers. Sid Halley is an ex-steeplechaser who loses his hand (and marriage) in a fall and becomes a private eye who specializes in crime surrounding the racetrack.

To me, that's not a racing show. It's a crime show set against the backdrop of horse racing. I would love to do a racing show that didn't have a crime element. I think we're fairly saturated on crime shows. I mean, when we have a show about a dude who can tell if people are lying...

Always excellent stuff and Acorn Video has a set out on DVD. If you haven't checked out the show, do so now as well as the original books ODDS AGAINST and WHIP HAND.

Heh. Not only have I seen the show, I've read every word Dick Francis has published. I would hope every racing fan has...! I think only two of his characters have appeared in more than one book. Sid Halley and Kit Fielding (in Break-In and Bolt). Immensely readable author, that Mr. Francis. And unlike most people who write stuff about racing, he gets things right. Seriously, if I see ONE MORE TV SHOW OR BOOK where some moron is stealing horse sperm, I'm gonna scream.

I appreciate all the thought you put into it but I stopped reading when you said "In Voyager." Because... really? Spock is never IN his own timeline. From the moment the movie starts, we're in an alternate reality/universe. We never go back to Spock's reality/universe. So there's no need for that.

What I love about "Jockeys" is how well balanced it is, and frankly, how much it mirrors the entertainment industry. "Jockeys" has that quest ready-made and built-in. All of these riders, and the trainers we meet, are looking for the big horse. The riders are all in different phases of their careers. Some are at the pinnacle, some are trying to come back, some are just starting out, some are fading away. I like how the horses exist on the show because even though you don't see them all the time or really that often, they are the reason for the industry. And the love that the jockeys have for the horses shows through all the time.

Harlan asks:
Kay, how do you view indie filmmaking/web filmmaking? I'm generally more interested in producing my own stuff for creative reasons (which isn't to say that I don't have some high concept ideas that I'd like to write and sell for tons of cash to a studio someday for some other dude to make).

I don't just mean control, I mean that I enjoy the work, the collaborative process. I know in the novel world the self-publishers tend to run into a lot of resistance as far as professional credentials. How do industry pro's view us experimental types who are thinking about trying to claim a stake in the future of web distribution?

Look, if people make movies and put them on the Internet because that's what they want to do, I shouldn't even be allowed to have an opinion about that! My problem is when someone like this fellow whines about professionals while claiming he isn't one, but then doubling back on his own timeline and acting like he is one. If you want to publish your book via iUniverse because you just want to publish your book, fair play to you. But don't act like you're like the authors who have actually worked within the system. That's not fair. It's the attitude, more than the actual doing of the thing, that irks me. I won't speak for anyone else in film but if you make something that's great and entertaining, I'll be the first one in line to watch it. So good luck!

Grrr still steamed that Zenyatta didn't win horse of the year, but with the East Coast bias working against her I should have known better. I just don't know what else she could have done...I mean when you win every race you run...ever...including the Breeder's Cup Classic against an outstanding field of male horses that include the Derby and Belmont winners as well as several excellent European a distance you have never run just boggles the mind. Rachel Alexandra is a great horse, nothing against her, but she had her chance to run in the Classic and her people didn't let her...sigh, rant over. P.S. I heard a rumor Zenyatta is coming out of retirement to race Rachel.

Zenyatta is going to run this year, which the Mosses smartly announced before the HOTY ceremony. While it makes me extremely nervous (there is that unbeaten record, after all), the decision was apparently made because she's doing awesome and the Mosses absolutely love racing. They're not so much in the breeding end of the business. If you've ever seen them at the races, nobody is having more fun. And they're very open and generous to fans as well. They're terrific ambassadors for the sport, and in Zenyatta they have their horse counterpart.

Also, her trainer claims she's even better on the dirt than synthetics and since her most impressive race came in her only dirt start (the Apple Blossom), that's something to take seriously.

Okay, this is another drearily long post. I'm trying to write something about inspiration, which is a lot harder to do when you're just sitting in the house all the time. But I may have cracked it so hopefully the next post will be better focused. Also, there will be TeeVee to talk about.

Jesus. It's already not focused.