Sunday, February 27, 2005

Since my last post, I've finished Fishing With John, the best fishing show ever, and watched the entire Wonderfalls series and the first disc of Firefly.

Fishing With John grew out of John Lurie's home tapes of fishing trips. The premise is simple: Lurie goes fishing with some celebrity in some semi-exotic location. Although it's somewhat of a documentary style, the show takes obvious and usually fun liberties with the truth, and, best of all, Lurie & his guest rarely actually catch fish. It's worth it to see (1) Jim Jarmusch, decked out in Manhattan nightlight black, trying to land a shark off of Long Island, (2) Tom Waits completely lose his cool persona to seasickness on a rusty tugboat in Jamaica (according to the commentary, Waits didn't speak with Lurie for two years afterwards), (3) Matt Dillon -- well, that one's pretty but not much happens, apparently because Dillon didn't want to lose his persona on camera, (4) Willem Defoe trying to convince Lurie to zip their sleeping bags together while ice-fishing in Maine, and (5) Dennis Hopper being Dennis Hopper in Thailand.

Wonderfalls: I watched three of the episodes when they aired on TV (it was cancelled after the fourth) and found the show kinda flat at the time. This DVD collects all of the episodes filmed, most of which were never aired. At least one review said that even if it had been allowed to finish its season, the show would never have caught on, anyway. That might be true, but it also might not. The show grew intensely upon me during the course of these DVDs, starting right about at the fourth episode and going straight through to the end. Let me start with the look of the show: it's easily the most beautifully shot TV show I've ever seen, with bright, saturated colors, sharp lines, and fantastic angles. The writing: although there's mack truck-sized plot holes in the first few episodes (and a few dangling in later episodes), the writers gave the characters intense life and honest relationships. It's also funny and curious enough to be worth a watch. At the end of these 13 episodes, I have no idea where the writers could take the story further, but, that said, Tim Minear and Ben Edlund (both of Angel, the former of Firefly, and the latter of The Tick) are very good at pulling rabbits out of hats, tv-series-wise, and I'm sure they and the other writers & producers could have managed to astound us if given half a chance. Unfortunately, Fox only gave them 4/13th of one.

Firefly (similarly cancelled before its time) also watches better in order (Fox showed them out of order for some reason) thus far. Sure, it has plot holes, too, but it also has a keen imagination and wit that should have been given a chance to flourish. Whither the network equivalent of HBO?


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