Starcrossed and Some Thoughts on Teen TV and our Craving for Destiny

I recently binge-viewed CW’s single-season science fiction effort Starcrossed.  These are the sorts of confessions grown people without blogs don’t feel obliged to make, but here we are.

What is–or was–Starcrossed?  If you guessed, Romeo and Juliet with aliens, then yes.  If you were thinking more along the lines of yet another vehicle wherein the CW recycles too-good-looking actors from a handful of other teen drama series, then you’ve also won the bonus round.

(If you saw the show and remember it most as “that time girl-next-door Aimee Teegarden, formerly of Friday Night Lights fame, whittled herself down to cheekbones and an impossible figure to look eerily like Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev,” then you and I are kindred souls drawn to the same distractions–though ones I won’t further discuss here.)

The series met its promise of love-torn-teens-from-different-worlds quite admirably if also rather literally, along the way also making good on science fiction’s promise to project our society into a novel situation so that viewers can more easily spot our usual cultural attitudes and contemplate how well they really serve us for adapting to possible futures. The program’s unusual maneuver on this sci-fi element was that it quite explicitly pondered our humanity rather than our relationship to technology.   Continue reading Starcrossed and Some Thoughts on Teen TV and our Craving for Destiny

#TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

In honor of tonight’s ridiculous double header 7-person then 10-person Republican debate, a quick reminder to put Richard Pryor’s Brewster’s Millions on your film bucket list.  The film combines minor league baseball, electoral politics, venture capitalism, and class-divide comedy.

It’s not high cinema.  And (okay, okay), it’s not Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.  But as a charming trip back to the 80s stand-up star-driven comedies, it delivers while also supplying one of my favorite election time admonitions, “Vote None of the Above!” Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: Brewsters Millions

Secret Worth Exposing: The Riveting Spies of AMC’s Turn

Remember that enchanting kid from Billy Elliot? So earnest and physical and compelling…Those traits serve actor Jamie Bell still, now all grown up and starring of AMC’s Revolutionary War spy drama Turn.  In it a Loyalist young man is pressured into a spy errand for the Patriots, an act that sets a number of gears turning within him and within the wheels of General Washington’s war machine.

The story of season one is young Abraham Woodhull’s efforts to resist the tugs of his Loyalist father and of his Patriot friends, of his efforts to be his own man on his own terms–terms that change slowly but force, like a gathering storm. What is especially satisfying is how Abraham rides that storm, wrestles to command it rather than merely be swept up in it, how he comes to make allegiances without ever quite relenting in the self-determinism that is his most singular personality trait.

Turn is particularly strong in its ability to make 18th century life both recognizable–full of real people, not national heroes nor prim puritans–and newly alive with texture. While I sometimes find the variety of settler New Yorkers’ accents befuddling, for instance, it is a welcome reminder of the recent immigrant status of some colonists and of the distance between the English we speak and what they would have spoken. Continue reading Secret Worth Exposing: The Riveting Spies of AMC’s Turn