?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

In Which Things Get Wild

Happy Wednesday, everyone! My latest "History of the Genre" segment is up at StarShipSofa: The Audio Science Fiction Magazine, and it's about the first work of modern steampunk: the fantastic television series The Wild Wild West. The episode is available for download or streaming here. If you listen, I hope you enjoy.

With thanks to agentxpndble, here's a lovely visual to accompany my segment. Ah, the sweet smell of steampunk!

The Wild Wild West: Steampunk!


In other news...

* From Publishers Weekly: "In Defense of Dystopia."

* From Jeff Vandermeer: "The Next Big Punking," which builds on "Make Way for Plaguepunk, Bronzepunk, and Stonepunk" from Wired.

* Speaking of steampunk, here's a list of steampunk audiobooks.

* Last, AMC's new miniseries of The Prisoner is finally over; there goes six hours of my life I will never have again. I was both hopeful and nervous about it. As it turns out, only the anxiety was justified. What a terrible disappointment in execution, in tone, and especially in message. I'll let io9 take it from here. Although my list would be far longer, I appreciate the symbolism: "Six Things the New Prisoner Changed for the Worse." Patrick McGoohan, how I miss you.


"As my Great-Aunt Maude always used to say: 'Artemus, if you can't win the game, the next best thing is to upset the chessboard!'"
- Artemus Gordon, "The Night of the Bogus Bandits," The Wild Wild West

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
st_crispins
Nov. 18th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
I was heartily disappointed by the new Prisoner. In fact, during the first two hours, I dozed off. So, I decided not to watch the rest and not give up NCIS.

My feeling is that they should done James Bond crossed with The Truman Show --- Jason Bourne trapped in the real-life Disney-built Celebration.

Indeed, come to think of it, the Truman Show *was* The Prisoner re-interpreted into a media age. Ed Harris was scary!

I agree with many of the criticisms discussed in that linked article.

[And I was disappointed to find out that No. 2's wife was really comatose ---I thought he was keeping ehr that way :) )
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
So, I decided not to watch the rest and not give up NCIS.

Yet further proof that you're smarter than I am.

And you're right: Ed Harris was scary! I agree 100% about No. 2's wife, as well.
st_crispins
Nov. 18th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Ed Harris was scary because he was convinced that he was doing right ---he was paternal to Truman even while he was oppressing him.

I still love the Truman show, as a metaphor for all kinds of things ---religion, media, culture, society.

It's what The Prisoner is supposed to be.

Oh, and what's his face, ex-Jesus, who played No. 6 was bor---ing.
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
What you said.

And, you know, I saw the ex-Jesus (LOL!) emote in The Count of Monte Cristo. For that matter, I saw him steal the entire film in My Name is Adam with a ten-minute cameo. He can act if he's given an actual script. Heck, even Sir Ian was boring as dry toast, and he could make the the back of a cereal box seem compelling. Same for Ruth "Jane Eyre" Wilson. It's embarrassing how they wasted that cast.
agentxpndble
Nov. 18th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Can't wait to listen to the podcast!

I was waiting for *you* to say something about The Prisoner... I kept trying to excuse my feelings of EPIC FAIL because I didn't give it my full attention and I want to be fair, but the truth is, the thing was so dull and lifeless that I found it impossible to watch it carefully enough to form a *real* opinion. I guess if they couldn't even make it interesting in it's own right, that's an issue right there. And you know how I feel about bouncy-cam.

:::cries::: Patrick! Come back to us!


PS: I just went and read that list and I guess I'm smarter than I give myself credit for - Yeah, what he said. That's the list I would have come up with if I had taken the time. Plus the bouncy-cam overuse.

Edited at 2009-11-18 02:47 pm (UTC)
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!

You're so right: The Prisoner, if nothing else, was never, ever dull.

No, EPIC FAIL pretty much covers it. For the first two nights, I thought it was the visual equivalent of a very rough draft of an essay: slinging down ideas without worrying about the fact you have too many of them for one essay, or that they don't connect to each other in the slightest, or that your prose is dry as toast. It's no excuse for not taking the time to revise, but at least I thought I knew what was happening.

And then, last night, I realized that I'd been too easy on them. Instead of just being incredible poor storytellers, they were also undermining everything the original series stood for. You don't remake The Prisoner in order to say "It takes a Village...." You don't take a text about individualism and the oppression of the minority and then use it to praise the community and the rule of the majority. What were they thinking? *headdesk* I can only hope that the sheer EPIC FAIL of their storytelling hijacks their message.

On the third night, I kept hearing Malcolm Reynolds in Serenity say, "They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave." And I realized Serenity is more the heir apparent to The Prisoner than this pathetic excuse for a miniseries can ever hope to be.

And the bouncy-cam was annoying, too.

I thought that was a good list, as well.

Wow, Sturgis. Bitter much? ;)
agentxpndble
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:40 am (UTC)
Wow, Sturgis. Bitter much? ;)

Well, if anyone has the right to be, it's you.

The Podcast was great, BTW. And a good resource to have when encountering newbies - I'll point them to that to start them off.
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 19th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
This totally makes my day - thanks so much for the kind words. :) I'm so glad you liked the podcast!
madkestrel
Nov. 18th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
After the utter disappointment of last night, that lovely picture is going a long way toward cheering me up! Thank you!

Did I tell you I'm starting work on a steampunk-y western? I'm so excited!
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Yay! There's nothing like a little Artemus Gordon to make the morning. ;)

Did I tell you I'm starting work on a steampunk-y western? I'm so excited!

You think you're excited? I'm going to be stalking your LJ for updates, and then I'll be clawing my way to the "Pre-Order" link. I absolutely can't wait!!!! :D
cookiefleck
Nov. 18th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
Artemus! Ross! My early love! It's kind of funny that the show is now seen by people within the context of "steampunk." I wonder if someday we'll have "ringpunk." ;o)

Never watched The Prisoner but Ian McK sure looked good in that hat.
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Aremus Gordon is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. He's like Captain Nemo: the brainy, artsy, scientific action hero -- except with better costumes and accents. :) You can keep your James West, ladies, and I'll take Artie!

It's kind of funny that the show is now seen by people within the context of "steampunk."

LOL! I know. But once a sub-genre is established, I guess you get to go back to the pioneers and give them special props for paving the way.

The Prisoner is, I must admit, my favorite series of all time. I wish they'd let Sir Ian play a proper Number Two, because he would've knocked it out of the ballpark. It would've been so much fun to see. That said, he did make that hat look good. ;)
ex_lbilover
Nov. 18th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
OMG, I forgot how much I loved The Wild, Wild West. That pic totally reminds me.

Have you read the book Pavane by Keith Roberts? I think it might qualify as steampunk, a term I was never really familiar with until now.
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
Yay for The Wild Wild West!

Oh my goodness, I love Pavane! I first read it on recommendation from an English History professor. ;) You're so right: it's definitely in the same genre.
scribblerworks
Nov. 18th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
The so-called new Prisoner was a gadawful mess. In fact, it was so dull that I forgot to switch channels to it when hour 5 started, and so I "missed" 20 minutes of it... and didn't feel I'd missed anything. In fact, I ended up only giving it half-attention, working on something on my computer and listening to it in the background, glancing over from time to time.

Which, after it all, made me laugh because apparently they FINALLY bothered to explain some things in the last two hours, and I did not care at all. Really bad storytelling, that.

The other thing that really bothered me, on a storytelling level, is that.... well, one thing I learned working on my book about mythic motifs is that if a theme is crucial to a particular story, it will be inherent in almost all scenes. Which means you would be able to figure out "what it's about" by watching just a little of it.

In the original, it was obvious that the theme was the individual against forced conformity: the Prisoner NEVER wore his number, though everyone else did, he was purposefully rude when eveyone was firmly and formally polite, he was distant and unsociable when everyone was overly friendly. To be short, he stood out. In this remake, there was nothing that was that coherent.

I haven't tracked down the actual quote, so I can't verify it, but apparently the writer of this travesty intentionally downplayed the issue of non-conformity, wanting "to say something about community". Which was an idea that staggered me. You want to say something favorable about community? Then why the heck do you choose to build it on the classic story of the individual? What's the point of that?

I came away thinking that they did not know what the heck they wanted to say, on top of not understanding the core of the original at all!

Just because the Cold War is over, that does not mean that the matter of conformity has also gone away. Kids these days endure far more peer pressure, I think, and non-conformity has even more consequences for them. But being trapped in group-think is still as deadly to individual fulfillment as ever.

Instead... when I read the comments of those who are saying they liked this remake, what I am NOT seeing is WHY? What are they seeing in it? Because there is no substance there. I feel rather the same way I did about Twin Peaks: All style and no substance -- and people are seduced by the style.

Uh... in case you didn't guess, I'm disgruntled and unhappy with the remake.
:D
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 18th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
YES! What you said. You've put your finger on it exactly.

In the original, it was obvious that the theme was the individual against forced conformity: the Prisoner NEVER wore his number, though everyone else did, he was purposefully rude when eveyone was firmly and formally polite, he was distant and unsociable when everyone was overly friendly. To be short, he stood out....I haven't tracked down the actual quote, so I can't verify it, but apparently the writer of this travesty intentionally downplayed the issue of non-conformity, wanting "to say something about community". Which was an idea that staggered me. You want to say something favorable about community? Then why the heck do you choose to build it on the classic story of the individual? What's the point of that?

I couldn't agree more. The first two nights, my husband and I kept pointing out that in the miniseries he had a whole "posse" - potential lovers, friends, etc., and they completely undermined the driving questions of who he was, why he resigned, who was on whose side in the Village (who was Warden and who was Prisoner, etc.), while completely de-clawing Number Six and his lone, alienated defiance. As you pointed out, it was all style with no coherent meaning. Giving the creators the benefit of the doubt, I just thought they were incredibly inept at what they were trying to do.

But, in fact, they were trying to do the exact opposite (and yet they were still inept). By the third night, I was heartsick. As you said, who uses the vehicle of a protest against the concept of the Village to say, essentially, "It takes a Village..."? I just... I have no words. You're far more eloquent than I am, because I'm still spluttering with frustration. But I'll happily join you in the "disgruntled and unhappy" camp.

Next time, you write the screenplay, okay? I'll watch that. :)

Edited at 2009-11-18 08:25 pm (UTC)
cyloran
Nov. 19th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
Artie!!! My first love. *gets all doe-eyed*

Well. Okay. One of my first loves. But I had a SERIOUS crush on Ross Martin for years.

Um. Did I say "had"? *looks sheepish*
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 19th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
LOL. Yay! I most definitely share the Artie love. :)

Edited at 2009-11-19 07:22 pm (UTC)
ankh_hpl
Nov. 19th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
Well, I was spared the whole Prisoner miniseries debacle by the mercies of not having cable. Frugality has never looked so good.

However, I did take time to listen to that latest "History of the Genre" audio article this morning, & really appreciated your perspective on a series I fondly remember. Great work, as usual. Now, I just have to figure out where to get some extremely basic information on steampunk!
eldritchhobbit
Nov. 19th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Believe me, you're fortunate you missed it. *shudders*

Thank you so much for listening to my segment! I'm so glad you liked it - and that you like The Wild Wild West, as well! Both make me very happy.

My "Intro to Steampunk" segment for SSS is here, by the way.
ankh_hpl
Nov. 19th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Sofa link! That was what I needed, & I have now fed my Pod some steampunk-y wisdom.
vyrdolak
Nov. 21st, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
Once I heard Jim Caveziel's 'merkin accent in the commercial I couldn't be bothered to watch. Was there a new Rover?

Actually I only got through the first two episodes in the original Prisoner (bought the DVD _before_ McGoohan died) before getting bored with that. The full-length intro sequence was riveting however, I imagined that I could recall every bit of it from nearly forty years ago.
eldritchhobbit
Dec. 21st, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
There was, indeed, a new Rover. But if it had swallowed up and suffocated Number Six in the first five minutes, the miniseries couldn't have been more of a trainwreck. Somehow it devolved into a soap opera about Number Two's wife and son, if you can believe it, among other unnecessary and pointless things.

Actually I only got through the first two episodes in the original Prisoner (bought the DVD _before_ McGoohan died) before getting bored with that.

Oh no!!!! We routinely do marathons, I must confess. Once I see the opening sequence, I have to rewatch 'em all. It's my favorite series of all time.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lizzy Enger