Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #101



TV

Damnation

The new USA series Damnation has a lot going for it. From its setting of a 1930s rural America to the production design to the characters there’s a lot to like about this show. However, after the first episode I was unclear as to what the overall story was. Oh, and Damnation might have the highest body count of any series in memory.

One thing — there’s a big spoiler here in my review. However, it’s not much a surprise in the show as I knew it was coming the minute the episode started. But you were warned…

In Damnation, preacher Seth Davenport (Killian Scott) is helping to lead a strike where farmers are keeping their goods from the local towns until they start getting a fair price for their products. Enter Creeley Turner (Logan Marshall-Green), a “cowboy” brought into the area to break-up the strike who shoots first and asks questions later.

Are Davenport and wife really “reds” like the local business community thinks? Or do they want something else entirely? The big surprise here is, you guessed it, after they’re attacked in their home one night and end up killing the assailants, Davenport’s not really a priest. He’s really a wanted murderer who’s known for causing strife and unrest wherever he goes.

Which left me a bit confused. Are Davenport and wife on the side of the farmers, or do they have other motives? On the one hand it seemed as if they were with the strikers, but then again Davenport’s already killed someone once before, and he stabs to death one man and shoots another in this episode. So I’m not sure?

It doesn’t help that just about every character in the show has a psychopathic dark side and isn’t too afraid to show it. Be it Turner shooting a farmer in the head in front of a dozen witnesses, Davenport letting a guy bleed to death or detective Connie Nunn (Melinda Paige Hamilton) shooting a bunch of strikers to incite violence in order for the county to be able to call in the national guard. There’s really no moral center to the show in Damnation.

I think a series like Deadwood is probably the closest amalgam to Damnation. And in Deadwood there were lots and lots of bad people. But there were good people as well and people who were somewhat good and somewhat bad. In Deadwood I never got the sense that a character like Seth Bullock (Timothy Elephant) had any bad intents for any of the other characters there. Seth was a bit unhinged and was apt to fly off at the handle and you might get hurt in the cross-fire, but Seth’s intentions were always good and he was never out to hurt anyone who wasn’t going to hurt him first. In Damnation it seems like practically everyone’s out to hurt everyone else first at the slightest provocation.

And that body count… there’s probably ten people killed in the first episode of the show. Which is a big number for something like Damnation that takes place in a relatively small city of a small population. My guess is that the idea behind all this killing was to show that the stakes of Damnation were high. Instead if anything it was too extreme and makes the act of killing or characters dying in this show seem ordinary and commonplace.

The Others – Gone too Soon

The Others, which originally ran on NBC in 2000, was doubly unlucky for a TV series. At the time NBC had been running a few successful paranormal shows in the dead-zone that’s Saturday night programming which included The Pretender and Profiler to which The Others joined in 2000. The first unlucky thing that happened with The Others was the XFL. NBC decided to axe their entire Saturday night lineup since Saturday nights was for the XFL. Needless to say this was a bad decision by NBC since the XFL quickly crashed and burned leaving them with a hole in their schedule with all their previous shows, including The Others, cancelled.

The second unlucky thing to happen with The Others was that there was a successful film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman released in 2001. That movie essentially has erased any mention of the TV series from the web because of its popularity. Try searching for The Others online and most of what you’ll find are mentions of this 2001 film.

The TV series The Others was kind’a The X-Files crossed with The Sixth Sense by way of group therapy where the members who meet each week all have special paranormal powers. Lead character Marion (Julianne Nicholson) can see dead people, where others can pick up on other people’s feelings or communicate psychically. And together this group explores the weird goings on around them. Whereas The X-Files always had a black hard edge The Others always had a bit of softness and light to it.

Episodes of The Others would deal with things like the group trying to figure out if a particular airline flight is cursed, a fake psychic who needs help when he begins to really read people’s minds and a season-long story about a mysterious evil that’s stalking the group.

The good thing about The Others was that 13 episodes of the series were produced and all 13 episodes did air on NBC. And the series does turn up from time to time on cable and satellite outlets. The bad thing was that it’s never been released on DVD since the series debuted just before that became popular/profitable for the networks to do. And since The Others is all but forgotten because of the 2001 movie and because it only ever had 13 episodes it’s never turned up on any streaming services as far as I’m aware.

Episodes do exist on YouTube so if you’re bored some Sunday afternoon you could do worse than checking out The Others.

Movies

Movie cliches I wish would go away

  • During fights, everyone knows karate and every fight is long, looks planned out and no one ever gets tired while fighting. This worked in The Matrix where everyone did know kung-fu, but in real life fights aren’t as choreographed as they are in movies.
  • Extras walk out doors or especially elevators just when characters from a movie need to walk into them. It means these main characters never have to pause to open a door or wait for an elevator to get to their floor.
  • As long as a character is in the dark in terms of plot, they can’t be hurt. I call this “ignorance is bliss.” In horror movies no one ever dies until they realize the killer might be in the same room they’re in or they see the killer just before he strikes.
  • Characters who die the minute their usefulness is up. This happens a lot in military movies where some side character will deliver some information, then almost immediately be killed by the enemy to show the seriousness of the situation they’re all in. Except since it’s the side character who dies, it usually shows just the opposite.
  • Along with the above, people who are shot and die immediately. It’s rare in most movies for a character to receive a wound and spend hours if not days suffering before they die which is what sometimes happens in real life. In movies, they die immediately, and with their eyes closed.

  • Characters walking away nonchalantly from massive explosions behind them. This looked cool the first time it was done but now it just looks lame. These characters would be burned by the heat of the explosions, let alone the flames.
  • Characters who are searching for some piece of information in a stack of papers and accidentally, or purposely, knock the papers onto the floor. And when they bend down to clean up the mess miraculously find the exact information they’re looking for.
  • Bad guys who can’t shoot straight or are bad soldiers. Think of the Storm Troopers in Star Wars. They’re professional, trained soldiers for the Empire who’ve helped take over the galaxy for the bad guys, yet when they shoot at the good guys they almost alway miss yet when the good guys shoot at them they cut them down like grass.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1973: Radha Mitchell, Fry of Pitch Black is born
  • 1975: A Boy and His Dog opens
  • 1977: Close Encounters of the Third Kind premiers in theaters
  • 1982: Creepshow opens in theaters
  • 1984: Night of the Comet opens
  • 1987: The Running Man opens
  • 1990: The mini-series IT premiers on TV
  • 1994: Star Trek: Generations opens in theaters