Best TV ever
What I'm reading: Alchemystic
by Anton Strout.
One star reviews, what to do about them? Over at the League of Reluctant Adults, we take our most blistering one-stars and secretly repost them on our list group, where we gleefully jeer the reviewer. Our comments range from ridiculing the reviewer's poor English skills to speculating on their sexual proclivities and moral failings. But what about responding to the reviews on Amazon? I've read two different philosophies. Elle Lothlorien says to reply to the reviewers directly as a form of customer service
. Another successful writer, Collen Collins, takes the opposite approach
. She explains that you don't even click on a one-star review because Amazon tracks every click (who doesn't on the Internet?) and the more clicks a review gets, the higher its profile in the search algorithms. She goes on to explain how to "undo" a click.
At the last MileHiCon, CJ Henderson complained that modern television was a waste of time. Melinda Snodgrass jumped back at him; her rebuttal was that television programing has never been better. I have to agree with her. Today's shows benefit from bigger budgets, improved technology, and a lack of editorial restraints that hobbled earlier programming. Who wouldn't want to see an episode of the The Dick Van Dyke Show
where the writers could've cut loose like Seinfeld
or The Big Bang Theory
Like many of you, I've gotten hooked on the great serial dramas offered by cable. What we fiction writers can learn from these shows is that they are all essentially soap operas. We are drawn into the lives of the heroes and villains and we tune back every week to catch up on the foibles of our favorites.
is over and done with. We hold our breaths for the absolute final season of Breaking Bad
. In the meantime, what show should I sink my chops into? Despite the recommendations, I couldn't latch onto Battlestar Galactica
or Dexter. The Walking Dead
...meh. Mad Men
lost me. I enjoy historical pot-boilers but was disappointed by Magic City
. The premise is great: vice and corruption in Miami during the Rat Pack years. Visually, the show has a beautiful Mid-Century aesthetic and it hits the right historical notes. However, the gangster tropes repeat every mobster movie that I've seen. Boardwalk Empire
is another series that I'm tepid about. Again, the set design and costumes...amazing! The historical backdrop...ching! ching! ching!
But the character focus is too scatter shot, the plot complications too Byzantine (to the point I feel the need to take notes), and the narrative lacks much urgency.
So what's at the top of my Netflix queue? Hell on Wheels
. It's an engrossing and unflinching look at life during post-Civil War America. We know the railroad was built across this country but do we realize that every foot of rail line was originally laid by hand? It's obvious if you think about it, but you have to see these teams of men hacking at the ground with pickaxes and sledge hammers to appreciate the effort. Every character brings a rich backstory: poor-mouth Irish immigrants, freed slaves smoldering at the humiliations they're forced to endure, former rebel soldiers traumatized by defeat, Native Americans about to get buried by ruthless "progress," camp prostitutes who clutch at dignity. What draws me into the show are the textured moral ambiguities in a lawless land. The show rubs our face in the ugliness and brutality of life on the frontier: a black man gets lynched; the Cheyenne braves are anything but noble; the hero of the show, Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), plays the most flawed bad ass ever. My complaints about the series are the lack of regular frontier women other than Lily Bell (Dominique McElligott)--not every woman out west was a whore. And I can't believe that men back them could be so cruel to one another. The men in this Hell don't form friendships but alliances.
Labels: Anson Mount, Breaking Bad, Elle Lothlorien, Hell On Wheels, Melinda Snodgrass