The Idiot Box
There are many aspects of TV and film that I wish to discuss here on Contains Moderate Peril, but they don’t all require and in-depth post or detailed review. Therefore, it seems practical to create a recurring editorial piece in which I can address these more concise and conversational pieces. Hence you are reading “The Idiot Box” which is my new means to quickly summarise and touch upon what I’m currently watching. Because I do the bulk of my film viewing at home now via VOD and no longer that much at the cinema, this recurring post will deal with movies as well as television. I’ll still be producing long form reviews because I enjoy doing so and they also constitutes a substantial percentage of traffic to this site. This virtual column is more of a “friendly chat” about my viewing habits as well as what’s popular, as you would have with your friends down the pub. So, let us begin with a few thoughts about some of the shows I’m currently enjoying.
Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is proving very entertaining and certainly seems to be pulling the show back towards what I’d broadly describe as classic Trek territory. And by classic, I mean the broader themes and idiom of TNG, DS9 and Voyager. There is sufficient information in the public domain to show that there was a lot of creative differences behind the scenes during the production of season one. All things considered it’s surprising that the first 15 episodes came out as well as they did. Now that the show appears to be enjoying a more stable environment, it seems to be returning to the fold with regard to narrative and intent, while maintaining its aesthetic differences. And I like it. I like it a lot. I also managed to catch up with Star Trek: Short Treks and found these to be entertaining and informative. “The Brightest Star” episode was particularly poignant, exploring how Saru made first contact with Starfleet and the ramifications that act had upon his own future.
The Punisher is also enjoying its second season and once again it is proving that the key to successfully exploring vigilantism is to focus on character, motive and consequences. Some episodes are deliberately slow but that’s fine with me. I like knowing the backstory of key characters such as Krista Dumont, Billy Russo's Therapist and John Pilgrim, the shows new antagonist. The show also maintains it’s hard hitting action scenes, with Castle meeting out a particularly vicious beating to a Russian thug, using gym weights. It really made me wince. I am, however, curious to see if there will be a third season and if so whether it can sustain the quality of the narrative. There have been doubts of late as to whether Disney will claw back the rights from Netflix (along with others) and seek to develop them for their own pending VOD service.
Finally, I wanted to reference Amazon prime’s Homecoming with Julia Roberts, as I found this such a fascinating show. I especially liked they way the production used different aspect ratios to denote separate timelines in the plot. It was a very clever device that further embellished the ending of the story. Another facet of the show that was unusual was the varying lengths of each episode. Some ran for an hour, where others only half that time. Yet the plot was demonstrably advanced forward in each instalment. Rather than compose an original score for the entire season, the showrunners decided to used cues from classic films to suit the mood of each episode. For me, a consummate fan of film soundtracks, it was a delight to try and workout each episode where the music came from. Homecoming was a well written, thought provoking production bolstered by solid performances. It was also a self-contained story, so I find it odd that there is talk of a further season, unless it is a tangential sequel.