Is there any difference between a bad movie/TV show and a dumb movie/TV show? Well… I hope so because I sat here for 10 minutes and that was the only opening sentence I could come up with.
“Bad” does seem a little easier to forgive, if for no other reason than that seems harder for Hollywood to hide and you’re not disappointed because you never expected it to be good to begin with. “Bad” is something like Twilight; it’s what happens when a production has a key part somewhere that is so lost and inept that the whole thing is doomed from day one.
Robert Pattinson is a good actor, and Michael Sheen is a good actor, but Kristen Stewart is a plank of wood, that’s high, Towlie basically but with a flatter face, and Taylor Lautner stands there breathing through his mouth the whole time as if he doesn’t think he’s in this scene.
Cast them in a movie with source material as preposterous and terrible as those books and the end result is the, ahem, Twilight Saga, and seriously criticizing it is like going to a talent show at a mentally handicapped school and booing (fun, in other words).
“Dumb” however is unforgivable, because it’s just laziness. The only goal is for the movie or TV show to look good enough to draw you in, but after that you’re on your own and you just need to get over it. So the director will shoot whatever is easiest, which may or may not make sense, and the writer will try to bluff their way through scenes with dialogue that might sound vaguely technical on the surface but in reality they’re f*cking everything up beyond belief and if that bothers you well then boo-hoo.
Oh hey that reminds me; The Strain premiered on FX last Sunday. Maybe you saw it. It was not good. It was dumb. Dumb to a degree you’d swear the Kardashians must be involved somehow.
But they’re not. In fact the series was created by “visionary filmmaker” Guillermo del Toro, and he’s great. I’m told. It’s getting hard to remember why I’m told that but I know for a fact that I am very definitely told that, over and over again. And he not only directed the premiere but wrote it as well.
The bad news is that the first episode left some lingering questions, as if Del Toro maybe didn’t have time to explain everything in the first hour, and it felt weird to review something that seemed unfinished.
The good news is that the second episode aired last night, and maybe it answered those questions, and maybe it put things in a new perspective. With everything we know now, it’s possible that the premiere might even make sense if we take another look, and I wasn’t doing anything anyway so what the hell let’s go for it!
(SPOILER: none of those questions were answered, not a single frame of this show makes the slightest bit of sense, and The Strain could easily be the dumbest show on television)
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Opening shot. Trying this again. Here we go. 8:00pm on “night zero”.
Ok, so, does this plane have 2 engines on the left wing even though the plane we see from here on out only has one? Maybe. Probably, yes, but whatever, let’s keep moving, because this is a flight from Berlin to New York, and they’re about to have a scary emergency, let’s see how that goes.
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Rose does not get back here now or now come now however, because f*ck that guy I guess. Instead she takes a few minutes to interact with the four characters that we’ll see again later in the show. It’s all wonderfully subtle.
After establishing the rest of the cast, Rose does eventually make it to the back of the plane, where she and the other flight attendant investigate a spooky noise under the floor.
At first nothing happens because the Asian guy stands behind Rose and threatens the spooky noise with a karate attack, but then something does happen and the spooky noise kills everyone on the plane whether they know karate or not.
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Which is not to say that the plane didn’t fly another 30 miles then land then taxi almost all the way up to the gate, all without the pilot saying anything to the tower about the killing spree going on behind him. Because apparently that is exactly what happened (just… just don’t think about it).
And even though the air traffic control guy must have lost contact at least 10 minutes ago, he’s just now noticing and trying to find them.
For the record, the plane he’s looking for is the red one that’s blinking the entire time on the bottom right of his screen, but we’re probably not supposed to notice that. Tapping his monitor doesn’t fix the planes radio or make it move again, and instead of consulting the constellations on the star chart behind him, he goes and tells his supervisor.
While he’s there maybe he’ll ask why they have a screen that makes certain planes on the ground beep and blink red and how that works exactly. I for one would be very interested to hear that answer.
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If these two had just started barking at each other, literally, like dogs, and the subtitles just said, “woof woof, arf arf”, it would still make more sense than that dialogue. There are 4 sentences, and 3 of them are complete gibberish.
“…the 767 widebody…”
All widebody means is that the cabin has 3 rows of seats separated by 2 aisles (as opposed to 2 rows of seats separated by 1 aisle), and every 767 ever made is a widebody. Considering that this is an emergency, and that the other guy also works at the airport and likely knows what planes are, this is really not the best time to bring up the seat configuration or how many bathrooms it has or anything like that. Stop burying the lead, Glasses.
By the way, for the next 10 minutes or so, the dialogue is all total nonsense. No one is saying a thing, it’s just random thoughts then some words that sound kinda airport-y.
“…stopped on the service apron.”
Case in point. The apron is where the plane parks to board and unboard. God only knows what they mean by, “service apron”. Probably the taxiway, but I assure you that is nothing but a guess.
“What’s it doing there? Apron’s dead.”
So they do mean the apron. Or do they mean something else? Look The Strain, you can trust me, just tell me where the plane is. If it is on the apron then that should be good, right? Especially if the apron is dead, at least it won’t be in anyone’s way.
“That’s a blind spot.”
You son of a bitch. How can it be in a “blind spot”? For who? Less than a second ago you made it sound like the plane was off in some area that was closed. I don’t have a dictionary in front of me but I don’t think “dead” means “teeming with activity”.
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Are you… are you talking to Glasses? He’s with you in the jetway, how is he supposed to shut down… *deep sigh* … “Foxtrot”? You should have told him that back in the tower. Especially since it doesn’t look like either one of you brought a radio. Actually, isn’t this area already closed, you said it was dead?
Also, this is JFK, the busiest airport in North America, and you just told the guy who couldn’t even find the blinking red plane on his screen to basically re-route the entire eastern seaboard. He’s gonna need a hand with that.
On second thought, are you the only supervisor on duty, is there someone else I could talk to?
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“That’s a blind spot.”
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Oh is it cold? Hmmm. Interesting. Well I don’t mean to alarm anyone but if the metal plane that spent the previous 8 hours at 30,000 feet, where it’s 45 degrees below zero, is cold, then it sounds to me like you have an ancient vampire on board. That’s the only answer that fits all the clues.
(and yeah, i’m just pretending i don’t see the “dead animal” line. if nothing else at least the dumbest dialogue of the week is out of the way)
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Well, sh*t. Ok fine, I stand corrected about the dumbest line of the week, I’d already forgotten about Glasses. You know what The Strain, if you have a character who is genuinely retarded, you need to make that really really clear so I can throttle down and make fun of him accordingly.
Planes really are bigger in person than they are on a monitor, though, he’s got me there, I can’t deny that. And it works the other way too, he probably thinks Megan Fox is 30-feet-tall because that’s how she looks on movie screens, but no, I saw her in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago and she’s not even half that.
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Oh I know right.
The guy slowly looks the plane up and down, then concludes that all the window shades are shut, but somehow misses the one DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM, the only one that is actually impossible to miss, the one that stands out and is literally glowing.
How does this happen?
How did no one in production or on the set or at FX raise their hand and say, “… umm… ”
Say what you will about something like Prometheus but at least that failed gloriously. It still made no sense but I would need a bunch of charts to explain why. This kind of sh*t however is impossible to miss, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it; everything we’ve seen so far could be fixed in 5 minutes.
Honestly, f*ck, it should go without saying that if the plane you’re gonna show very clearly has lights, DON’T SAY IT DOESN’T HAVE LIGHTS, and sure as hell don’t say it twice in 5 minutes, and extra sure as hell don’t have the first guy say it when he can’t even see the plane. This is all distracting and dumb for no reason, there’s nothing gained from this, except that del Toro was paid to make a one hour show and this kills another minute.
And if you really do need one open window shade for some reason, open one in the back for gods sake, one he might have reasonably missed seeing. But you don’t by the way, you don’t need an open shade, because it seems to be meaningless.
According to people who read the book, in the original story the shades were all closed at first and then the spooky noise opened one and the guy saw it, so it did mean something in the book, but it doesn’t here because we weren’t shown any of that. We have no context, del Toro just filmed something dumb and distracting, perhaps for no reason whatsoever, maybe because he just had nothing else to shoot, and then he went to the break on it.
We see one shade up, and they make a big point of mentioning it again in about 10 minutes…
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…but after that nothing. This was one of the things I thought last night’s episode might follow up on. But no, and now it sort of feels like they bailed on this. Not that I blame them, mind you.
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I don’t know this character’s name but based on del Toro’s writing so far, it’s probably Mr. Airport.
But yeah, scramble all those people to taxiway Foxtrot. You know, where the plane is. And be sure to tell them taxiway Foxtrot, that obviously had to be said again. Maybe they have 90 other things on the runway named Foxtrot so you have to be incredibly specific all the time. Which does defeat the entire point of naming them, oh but it just sounds so cool when you say it on the radio. Fox-trot. It’s like you’re spies behind enemy lines.
Oh and you might want to talk faster because a minute ago you told Glasses to shut down the taxiway, and he never did that, so I guess that means it’s open even though you also said it was closed but if it is open than you probably shouldn’t be standing there and you sure as hell shouldn’t have let all those cop cars park on it.
Yeah. We’re barely 6 minutes in, all that dumb shit happened in literally the first two scenes.
I was surprised too.
So there’s gonna be a second part to this later today, to cover the rest of this and episode 2. Because believe it or not, the show gets even worse from here. And by that I mean it actually starts.
(if you want you can follow me on twitter. or don’t, whatever, it’s your life)