Saturday, December 24, 2016

End of Season Review - 2016 Winds to a close

Here we have come to the end of another year, or almost.  2016 bit the big one, big time.  So many artists, musicians and celebrities have kicked the bucket.  Alan Thicke just passed away last week, and even as I write this, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) is in critical condition in an ICU after a massive heart attack.  God DAMN it, 2016.  Just how many sacrifices do you require before you're satisfied, you greedy Gus?  So, to wrap an otherwise horrible year, let's look back at the good shows and how they ended up.  Spoilers to follow, so if you want to catch up on these shows while they are on hiatus, then skip to the last paragraph of this post.

Let's start with Exorcist (which was on Friday nights, on some damn regular channel, 2, 4, 7, something).  As we now know, this series picks up with Regan (the girl from the original Exorcist movie back in 1973), now an older married woman with kids of her own.  After Pazuzu (the demon who possessed her back in the Exorcist) returns to posses Regan's daughter, a pair of Exorcists manage to rid the girl of the demon, only to discover the demon has moved into the now-adult Regan (played wonderfully by Geena Davis).  A cult of demon-possessed demon-worshippers (whole barrels full of demons!) are planning to assassinate the Pope, and our heroic pair of plucky Exorcists somehow manage to not only save the Pope, but manage to exorcise the in-excorsizable demon Pazuzu from the body of Regan, who somehow manages to survive, but with a little bit of damage.

The Exorcist seemed to drag on for a few episodes, and I get that they need to expand the drama for a bit longer to get the required number of episodes, but in all, it was a good season.  Geena Davis was a good choice to pull off the lead actress, the Exorcists were pretty decently cast, and the kids just did a bang-up job.  Alan Ruck turned out to be pretty awesome, and I'm surprised I haven't seen him in more major roles since Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Am I looking forward to next season?  You betcha!  Hopefully they bring back Geena Davis, Alan Ruck and the gang, because they really anchor the show, but I'd hate to see that poor family go through any more hell than they already have.

Ash Vs Evil Dead (on Starz) ended badly, I think.  After defeating Baal once, Ash went back in time to the "cabin in the woods" that started everything, to before the time he found the Necronomicon, to save Pablo, his little honduran buddy that he used to work with at S-Mart.  If you've been watching, you know Baal possessed Pablo's dead body, was returned to life when Ash went back in time, and went for round 2 with Ash, only to lose again to El Jefe (Ash).  Ash managed to save Pablo, but lost his Dad (played by Lee Majors) and his buddy (played by Ted Raimi, I think) and his sister (again).  Season 2 ended with the whole town giving "Ashy Slashy" a celebration, and him getting back together with his high-school sweetheart.

Personally, I think season 1 was better, and I think the writing was better then, too.  BUT, as long as Ash keeps killing the demons with such style and bad one-liners, I'm in!  Can't wait for season 3, and I hope Lucy lawless comes back.  She was great in Xena (she's probably sick and tired of hearing that, though I only saw the first 2 seasons of Xena) and I like her as Ruby, the demon who originally wrote the Necronomicon.  I also think it was a mistake to kill off Ash's Dad, because Lee Majors is an awesome actor.  Maybe they'll bring him back in Season 3.

Westworld (HBO) ended with a bang, as Dolores shot the park's co-creator, Dr. Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) in the back of the head, just after he announced his retirement.  Doubtless this is the beginning of some robot uprising, and humanity best watch it's back!  This is the rootin-tootin, shootin old west!  Even the Man in Black (who we now know, owns Westworld), took a bullet in the arm, and looked happy as a clam in butter sauce to finally be facing a real challenge, standing there bleeding.  It seems the robot uprising has begun, but I guess we'll have to wait til season 2 to find out.

I gave up on Westworld, to be honest.  I know they want it to be their next Game of Thrones and they sure are pouring the money into it, but it's just not doing it for me.  They're trying to make it into another "Lost" but I hated Lost, and Westworld wasn't really that complicated.  I think maybe the actors over-acted their parts, not in a bad way, but they were just so convincing as robots in a robot world, that I have absolutely no feeling for any of them.  Maybe that makes me the same sort of asshole who would frequent a place like Westworld and kill off a few dozen robots just because i felt like firing my gun off a few times, but meh.  They're robots.  Why would I care?  They're made to get shot.

Look, I play first-person shooters.  I shoot the crap out of zombies, robots, dwarves, elves, dragons, and god-knows-what-else on a daily basis.  If all of the things I'm tearing apart, shooting to death, and hacking to pieces actually became sentient, I'd be freakin bored as hell, because I'm not a serial killer.  I don't kill sentient life (well, not personally.  It's not like I'm going to become a vegetarian just because I know cows, chicken, fish and pigs have thoughts and memories), so what would I have to do all day long?  Paint?  Write poetry?  Ugh.  Boring.  The mere idea of the things I am killing becoming sentient is just revolting to me.  We all need a place to play, and if Westworld is the future's idea of a theme park, I say killt he damn robots and reboot them so they aren't as sentient for the next go-around.

So, I gave up on Westworld just before I found out there were only two episodes left for this season, and I figured oh, what the hell.  I can watch it twice more.  So, I watched it, and it pretty much happened the way I expected.  I knew Dolores was going to be the one to fire the shot, I knew she'd be the "Gunslinger" from the first time I saw her.  How did I know?  Because she was the least likely one to do it.  Writers are so predictable.  They always try to steer you away from the truth, so there's some "big reveal" at the end that's supposed to surprise you. But they always make it so easy.  The only time I ever got surprised was in "Devil" when the old lady in the elevator died, and actually turned out to be the Devil.  But that was cheating.  You can't kill someone off, and then resurrect them two scenes later as the villain.  They were dead.  They were a body.  She wasn't faking it.  Totally cheating.  Just like Saw.

Anyway, let's just review a few things.  We'll start with Westworld, and work our way out.  All the robots in Westworld really aren't robots at all, they are Androids (and I don't mean cell phones).  They are meant to look human, and that's the definition of an Android, not a robot.  What I think the Andriods of Westworld are forgetting is that they live in a futuristic world, and are trying to fight a revolution with six-shooters and horses and trains.  Doubtless the humans of this futuristic environment, who are capabale of creating sentient androids, are certainly in possession of some really devastating weaponry.  I mean, let's face it, there is no technology as advanced as our technology of warfare.  We can kill each other so much better than we can heal each other, and there are probably actually killer soldier-bots patrolling the real world outside of Westworld, ready to disintegrate the Westworld Androids and their six-shooters faster than you can say "Now just hold on a minute there, pardner!"  So, Dolores' Android revoultion is probably over before it's begun.

Also, let's think about what would happen in a real-world situation, where some AI became sentient.  We always assume it would be the end of the world, because we can't possibly contend against an AI that can beat us at Chess.  Oh, really?  Why not?  Because it's good at chess?  Hey, I'm good at chess.  But I'm a pretty crappy friend, and not the best human being that ever lived, I can tell you that.  So, just because I am good at chess, doesn't mean I am good at anything else.  We might be able to make some sentient AI that can play Chess better than we can, or even make war better than we can.  But can it get around firewalls, figure out how to power itself, make its way past the grumpy-cat memes all over the internet, and actually manage to overpower all of humanity?  Hah!  Only humans are that adaptable, at least, so far.

Also, let's be frank.  Humans are not perfect, and we never will be.  We cannot possibly create something perfect.  AI might think itself perfect, might even be far more powerful then we are, but as we all know, the killing of sentient life, no matter how imperfect that sentient life is, is a mistake.  AI might make this mistake, and try to kill us all off, but that also means that AI is not perfect.  If it makes one mistake, no matter how small it will make others, and those mistakes will be exploitable.  And this isn't even mentioning the idea that AI might fight itself.  I mean, think about it.  If each AI has its own sentience, its own personality, why should they all cooperate?  None of us imperfect humans can really get along that well, so why would imperfect AI?  We humans might all be innocent casualties in the robot wars, but if the AI are fighting each other, that also might mean that we'll be as forgotten in their desire to kill each other off.

Also, let's be honest.  Westworld is boring.  We sit around and watch naked robots, with all the clinical detachment of a doctor at a physical examination, trying to psychologically understand their motivations enough to be surprised when they exhibit some signs of sentience.  Blearg.  Sure, they're real actors, real naked people playing the roles, but who cares?  HBO has managed to do something that I thought was highly unlikely, and that is, make nudity boring.  I will watch the last seasons of game of thrones, but I've already given up on Westworld.  Frankly, I can't identify with any of the robot characters, I don't really care what happens to any of them, and the clinically detached nudity doesn't interest me.  So what's left?  Anthony Hopkins acting talents?  They just killed him off, supposedly, so it's not like he'll be back for season two.  Sure, he might have been a robot, and if he was, doesn't that make the whole series even less interesting?  I think so.  I read some article about how westworld was a masterpiece of film, something about the camera angles and some such crap, but who really cares about all that?  Not me.  I'm not interested in the science of film, I just want to enjoy it, and westworld on HBO, I do not enjoy.

I can't recall any other series that I've been watching lately, and Grimm doesn't begin it's final season until January, so all the ones I have been watching this season are now over, except Agents of SHIELD.  So, there's nothing left to review until I catch something good to watch on TV, or perhaps netflix.  If I come across anything good, I'll let you guys know.

In other news, it's Xmas Eve.  So, as I sit here listening to xmas music, and watching Christmas Vacation for the millionth time (and still loving every damn minute of it...  they just electrified the cat!  "If that thing had nine lives, she just spent em all!"  hah!), I just want to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate, be it Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Festivus, Yule or Kwanzaa), and a Happy New Year!  I am going to spend the next week eating pie and playing computer games.  See you in January!  :-D