At the end of Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again, our hero, broken in the first act of the story and now painfully reconstituted as a stronger, more focused, more realistic hero and human being, walks into the figurative sunset with the love of his life.
I stopped reading the series at that point. I knew if I continued, it would just go on and on and on: there would be more villains, more life-obstacles – more of the same, but different.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been a big fan of ongoing serials. My comic collection is made up largely of one-off’s, mini-series and trade paperbacks. As for the viewing library, even though I was a massive fan of Law & Order, it’s taken quite a conscious effort to get myself to buy up to the sixth season of the show, as opposed to the complete runs I have of The Shield, The West Wing, and The Wire.
I think real life is exciting and ongoing enough, thank you.
Yah, it’s the end of 2012 already so time for a quick blow-out.
Another average year in terms of quantity of reading. Texts, as you can see immediately below, were a bit on the thin side.
Other People’s Wars – Nicky Hager
Road Dogs – Elmore Leonard
Ongoing titles Walking Dead, Powers and Scalped continue to rate with excellent storytelling. Castle Waiting, Dolltopia and RASL were very pleasant surprises.
RIP – Thomas Ott
Castle Waiting Volumes 1 and 2 – Linda Medley
Tamara Drewe – Posy Simmonds
Walking Dead Volume 15 – We Find Ourselves – Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
The Killer Volumes 1 and 3 – Matz and Luc Jacamon
Dolltopia – Abbi Densen
Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense: Being Human – Mike Mignola
Scalped Volume 7 – Rez Blues – Jason Aaron and R M Guera
RASL Volumes 1-3 – Jeff Smith
Powers Volume 14 – Gods – Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
This year’s overall slant towards television writing is represented below with the number of pilots listed.
3:10 to Yuma – Michael Brandt & Derek Haas
Analyze This – Peter Tolan and Harold Ramis and Kenneth Lonergan
Gilmore Girls – Pilot – Amy Sherman-Palladino
Arrested Development – Pilot – Mitchell Hurwitz
My Name is Gary Cooper – Victor Rodger
30 Rock – Pilot and S01E07 – Tina Fey
Groundhog Day – Danny Rubin & Harold Ramis
The West Wing S02E04 – Aaron Sorkin
Justified S01E08 – Benjamin Cavell
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino
I’m a little worried I might’ve spoiled things a bit by reading Django Unchained before its opening here in New Zild but I enjoyed the script heaps more than the script for Inglorious Basterds (the film of which I have yet to see in its entirety [and those bits I have chanced across have been intriguingly tasty]).
When watching movies, I know I’ve found a new personal favourite when I’m grinning from ear to ear as the credits roll. It’s a recognition of the craft – the art – that went into what I’ve just witnessed. It’s the realisation of how slickly I’ve been played as an audience member. And the jaw-stretching grin is all the more sweeter if my expectations were pretty high beforehand.
In the last five years, that credit-roll grin has been hurting my face after just an hour – sometimes only half that – of television drama. From the oh-my-gods-I’m-exhausted elation/relief of The Shield and Bodies, to the what-the-heck-happens-next-gods-dammit addiction of The Wire and Sports Night – and let’s not forget the hot-damn!-that-was-good enjoyment from The Closer, The West Wing and the occasional Burn Notice episode.
So what is it about Mad Men that makes me griiin and
whine cry out Finished already? each week?
Nothing happens. It’s about relationships – between a bunch of distinctly unlikeable
rogues bastards in an era where women were little more than chattels, blacks were invisible, and every damned one of the characters smokes.
It’s those very things that I savour about Mad Men.
Nothing much may happen in an ep but we’re learning more and more about Don and Peggy and company – and what we learn not so much answers questions about them but deepens what we know about their characters. Where most other television dramas would portray the dick-swinging camaraderie with a post-Top Gun homoeroticism or symbolic gunfights and car-chases, the male relationships in Mad Men are so finely detailed that even The Goddess is forced to ask me What was that all about? And as for the show’s portrayal of the time and place: I salute creator Matthew Weiner‘s unflinching lack of gloss or veneer – ‘S how it was, baby.
In portraying a period of history as unflatteringly as one might cover current events, Weiner’s genius is in showing us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Where the choice on the box is usually between procedural (or procedural with a twist) and soap (or soap with a twist), it’s great to have a drama that – just like its characters toil at in advertising – gives more of the same, but different.
Watching Sports Night with The Goddess followed Cameron’s Logarithmic Curve. We started back in February, watching about an ep a week. March was the same. April was a wash-out. But as we entered May and The Goddess got to know the characters – in particular their relationships – as an ep’s end credits rolled, I would hear a Little Voice beside me: Can we watch another one?
Such requests are unheard of in the Mamea household.
In between, amongst others, Desperate Housewives, Lewis and Build A New Life in the Country, an evening with Dan, Casey, et al, became two-ep affairs. Then last week, on a couple of nights, we watched three eps in a row. And only two nights ago, we watched five.
Then I had to explain to The Goddess why there were no more eps to watch.
In the after-match debrief – and also while we worked our way through the DVD set – it’s the little details that stand out. How less is more – where what’s not said can define a relationship far better than declarations of loyalty or bemoanings of betrayal. How a certain behaviour can really be mere displacement. How expectations of standard TV drama situations and relationships were not met because they were handled with wit, intelligence and compassion. It’s safe to say that for all the verbosity, wit and good intentions of the characters, they’re as inhibited, neurotic and selfish as anyone in the real world.
I could go on and on about Sports Night but others have said it better in the nine years since it was first aired. As sad as it was that it got canned after only two seasons, it ended as well as it started, and you can’t say that of many television series.
POSTSCRIPT: The Goddess is quite reluctant to try Mr Sorkin’s West Wing because, for all my arguments that politics is merely behaviour and relationships on a different scale and plane, it’s about politics.