I like stuff.
Now and then.
Okay, okay. I do more Cataline Recommends than Cataline Does NOT Recommend. But for a little while I’ve been so negative it was starting to get me down. Mostly that was due to anticipating the horror of Star Wars IX…and dealing with the constant nuisance of Disney’s marketing trolls in the comments. I may have to moderate for a while, we’ll see.
Also I’ve got killer Man Cold so I don’t want to bother with original content which means it’s time for another The Best of Cataline clip show.
First up. Cataline Recommends: Lost in Space (2018)
Yeah, I’m surprised I’m recommending it too.
The casting had some odd choices. I was fully expecting Don West to be the race bent love interest. Instead it was Judy Robinson which was a little weird because they didn’t tell us how that happened until nearly the last episode. I think they actually forgot to explain why there was a black girl with the same last name as everybody else in an all white family. Doubtless I’ll be called racist for having noticed this but you are unlikely to be married for twenty years and wake up to find you have a new eldest child of a different race than the rest of the family and that you don’t remember having but that everybody else does. Kind of sounds like the plot of the next Jordan Peele movie.
Additionally, Doctor Smith has undergone sex reassignment. Given audience expectations regarding an unnaturally close relationship between an adolescent boy and a mincing and prissy, middle-aged man, this casting decision was a dire necessity.
Other characters have been changed around quite a bit too. Will was daring and impetuous in the original. In this one, he’s rather cowardly. The daring and impetuous thing has been given to Judy. While watching the first episode, I was starting to roll my eyes about Judy Sue because it appeared that she was the one who was going to be doing everything right. And tearing all the stupid people in her life down (ie; her family) in order to build her up.
But then her daring and impetuous thing nearly gets her killed and she goes into PTSD over the event. Her family is gathered around her desperately trying to dig her out of ice that she trapped herself in. The real shock came when the Robinsons used science to save Judy. This was completely subverting the fuck out of my expectations and I didn’t mind in the least. In fact, I was suddenly determined to like this show no matter what.
And lets face it, the original Judy was the most useless character in the show. The OG Judy was a singer and an actress. Which put a real question mark over why the hell they brought her along to a space colony. The writers of this show had to do something with her. So now she’s an eighteen year old MD but that can slide because (a) all of the Robinsons were geniuses in the original LIS and (b) somebody needs to be the medic. May as well be Judy.
Maureen is the brains of the outfit and clearly wears the pants in the family. John Robinson is now a bit of a rock and pretty hen-pecked. He’s dumb as hell and was some kind of Marine Corps operator of indeterminate rank. Apparently he and Maureen had separated and were getting a divorce. That was told in a flashbacks. What was also told in a flashback was that some asteroid was going to hit the Earth and also the atmosphere was now to poisonous to breath without masks, yada-yada everyone who can, is trying to get off the Earth and go to the new colony at Alpha Centuari. MacGuffin sequence initiated.
So yeah, John Robinson isn’t all that important in this show. Which kind of mirrors what happened in the original. Guy Williams was supposed to be the handsome lead actor but Lost in Space turned into a kid’s show and the kids only cared about the Robot, Doctor Smith and Will. It was actually pretty hard on Guy Williams, since he knew getting turned into a second banana was going to be the end of his career.
Moving on. Interesting variation. The Jupiter 2 wasn’t just by itself. The J2 was attached to a mother ship with a whole bunch of other Jupiters and colonist families when something happened…dun-dun-dun. Anyway Jupiter 2 crashes on a planet that consists entirely of Vasquez Rocks. Meh, we’re all used to that.
During an initial exploration Will finds an all powerful, alien battle android with amnesia that immediately bonds to him.
It actually works.
Finally we meet Don West and Doctor Smith when they are escaping from the damaged mother ship. In this iteration Don West is a cynical mechanic and bad guy with a heart of gold. Doctor Smith is a ruthless Dark Triad female. And actually she isn’t really Doctor Smith. Her real name is “June Harris” which was a nice shout out to the original Doctor Smith actor. The real Dr. Z. Smith was played in a cameo by Bill Mumy (AKA original Will).
There were a lot of cliff hangers and nail biters. A few minor jokes here and there but so far no Carrot People. Basically this is the version of Lost in Space as Irwin Allen originally envisioned it and not the ridiculous camp it turned into.
The first season ends with the Robinsons being cutoff from the rest of the colonists and genuinely lost in space.
Cataline Recommends with Confidence.
I don’t hate it yet but I’m sure I will eventually.
Cataline Does Not Recommend: Troy Fall of a City.
The casting choice for Helen was odd. I admit she’s always a casting problem because she was “the most beautiful woman in the world.”
This is apparently Helen of Troy.
I’m not big into fairness as you all know but to be fair she’s not bad looking. But she is 10 years older than the guy playing Paris and it shows. The writers did write a Hermione in, when most productions forget to put Helen’s daughter in these things. But this Hermione is about thirteen. We are talking about a thirty year old and very maternal Helen. Enough so that the audience is left with the impression that the Trojan War was started over a grubby Oedipus Complex.
So on to the production itself. It was cheap and I do mean Xena cheap. Also it was boring as hell. I ended up skipping to the final episode. Those are the two biggest reasons I recommend against it.
Now that said, it did have a few of things I liked. When you see Paris being raised as a shepherd, there is a scene where his adoptive father tells him the story of Actaeon, who spied on the goddess Artemis when she was bathing. In her rage she turned Actaeon into a deer, who was then chased through the woods by wolves and torn apart by them. Paris then turns to him asks, “the question is, did he think it was worth it?” I liked that bit. It told you everything you needed to know about Paris’ character. He would let the world burn for the sake of true love
As always one of the biggest problems with any version of the Iliad, is trying to make Paris and Helen sympathetic figures. The writers tried. Prince Paris was raised as an illiterate shepherd so he didn’t quite get the big picture of snatching the king of Sparta’s queen. But with Helen they had to fall back on feminism. At one point she declares, that here in Troy men and women are as equals, which she had never been before. Yeah, bullshit. In most of the early accounts after Paris dies she is given to his brother Deiphobus, who she then betrays at the Fall of Troy, so I don’t think she was super cool about that relationship. There are plenty of versions of the ancient story where Helen is cruel and treacherous but nobody has ever gone with a screen version of that…
Other things that I liked.
When they had Odysseus plowing rocks to avoid the draft, they had him beat the fuck out of Diomedes after he put Odysseus’ infant son in front of the oxen. That isn’t in the ancient accounts but if there is any truth to the story at all, you know it happened.
Right before the first battle, the various goddesses walked invisibly among the soldiers that were about to fight. Choosing their champions.
Hera: Menelaus of Sparta, I bless you.
Aphrodite: Paris of Troy, I bless you.
Athena: Odysseus of Ithaca, I bless you.
It was effective and kind of respectful of the original source material. Which in a nutshell, can be said of the whole production. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s oddly casted, cheap and boring. I can’t recommend it.
Cataline Recommends…The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Hey, I’m as shocked as anyone.
But they didn’t fuck up the reboot. I have no idea how that happened. It is, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, better than the original. I’m only three episodes in but so far I’m loving it. We’ll see if that changes.
Okay, I’m done here.