left_turns (left_turns) wrote,

Apropos of nothing, god do I love Sleepy Hollow. It's actually the only show I bother to keep up with anymore. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and even The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert have sort of fallen by the wayside for me; I don't have a working TV and I never get around to watching them online later. But I get so excited when I've finally got enough work done that I have time to sit down and watch the last episode of Sleepy Hollow.

When i first came on, I thought it was going to be my cheesy so-terrible-it's-hilariawesome replacement for CSI:Horatio, but it's actually good. Time-traveling Ichabod Crane, police lieutenant Scully Mills, her all-but-ninja sister, and Orlando Jones's amazing cheekbones keuse clues from the Freemasons and George Washington's magic Bible to keep the Headless Horseman (who is really Death of the Four Horsemen) from bringing about the Apocalypse. And it is such ridiculous fun that I had to stop trying to watch on my computer at the Atlanta airport on the way back from Thanksgiving because I was making too much noise at it. I was sitting there with my headphones on unable to keep from squealing and commenting and doing that oh my god you dumb son of a bitch suspense muttering. With headphones on, so to all appearances I was just sitting there talking to the computer.

It's kind of paradoxically good. In one episode it makes a point of recognizing that Native American tribes had a stake in the American Revolution too and that they aren't all one giant brick of monoculture, aaand then it goes and has the Native American (I think they might have mentioned a specific tribe he was, but I don't remember) used car salesman have a handy sweat lodge and know all about an ancient legend from a different tribe for plot convenience. The writing goes out of its way to show that it's done its homework on Revolutionary War-era things like Paul Revere's ride, buuut then it goes and has the Boston Tea Party be a diversion to keep the actual literal orc-y looking demons among the British army from stealing a magic artifact. Also, the Hessian mercenaries? Immortal evil cult, so far as I can tell. With conspicuous Secret Evil Organization tattoos and everything. Who knew?

Sometimes I'm not even sure when it's being intentionally silly. In one scene, the Horseman is coming to the Westchester County forensic lab to get his head back (it's being kept as evidence and examined because it's weird). They build up some really good tension as the Horseman gets closer and the lab tech messes with the skull. Buuuut then the Horseman gets there and proceeds to bust out an Uzi and shoot the place up and I just lost it. It was hilarious. I find the Horseman sort of ridiculous anyway--I'm fascinated by the actor who plays the Horseman and how they achieve the effect, but I look at him and think of Christopher Lloyd as the teacher who loses his head (and carries on overacting Christopher Lloyd-style just fine, thank you, while he totes his head around) in that old episode of "Amazing Stories," and all his story development so over the top--but I'm not even what the writing wanted me to think there.

The thing it has over CSI, though, is that the writing and the actors are actually good. The actors are gorgeous, almost all of them, but that's kind of secondary to the fact that they're obviously having a lot of fun together and have good chemistry. Pretty much all of the coverage I've seen of the show is at least half about how much they all like each other and the show, and it's And they can act. Over the course of two episodes, Ichabod Crane learns that he has a son, then what became of him. The end of the second one actually made me start to cry. And I was just like "Tom Mison you bastard, what is this witchcraft? How is this so sad?" Somehow it's both absurd and really good at character drama.

Now that I think about it, Sleepy Hollow reminds me of "Urinetown," which has been my favorite musical ever for the last few years. Youtube found me someone's seekrit naughtycam recording of a performance by the original Broadway cast while I still had like twenty-five pages of papers to write in three days, and the noise my brain's want-center made was kind of like NNNNYYYYAAHWAAGH. But it reaches this kind of balance between being incredibly stupid and so good anyway that it doesn't matter. A drought so bad has caused the government to sell all the toilet facilities to a private company that sort of took over the country, and a janitor at a the public bathroom in the poor part of town leads a revolution so everyone can use the potty for free. It's kind of stupid. But it's very funny in a really dark way, and even though the point of the songs are to mock other musicals, there are some good songs there. Urinetown has sharper teeth than Sleepy Hollow; it's incredibly cynical and snide under its veneer of cheerfulness and wit. It makes no bones about or apologies for it, either (Narrator: Like I told you, Little Sally, this isn't a happy musical. Little Sally: But the music's so happy! Narrator: Ha ha! Yes it is, Little Sally, yes it is!). Sleepy Hollow seems really, really earnest and is just really, really earnest. But the thing they both have in common is that Sleepy Hollow, and Urinetown when it's done well, recognize that to the audience the story is essentially a page from the Annals of Planet Goofball, but to the characters it's deadly serious. The writing doesn't take it very seriously, but the actors do. They're what really sells the show and the situation.

Now that I think of it, I think that's why I find Jurassic Park Builder on Facebook is so hilariously weird. That's sort of my guilty pleasure. The whole Jurassic Park franchise is. It's so goofy. People revive super-'90s dinosaurs by improbable science, dinosaurs insatiably crave flesh of animals they have no experience of, people keep finding reasons to get in the dinosaurs' way? Plus cute young Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill and B.D. Wong? That's fantastic. Also I love how every iteration of it is based on bigger and weirder and fiercer when it's already so corny. Apparently now the Triceratops and Ankylosaurus can spit fireballs in the Pokemon-type battle arena part of Builder. I bet that makes feeding time exciting.

But on the other hand, you get to make a dinosaur park, and that's awesome. At five, I expected to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I even thought briefly of doing paleontology for grad school before I realized that I'd be going into mountains of debt and wrestling with lots of science and math so that I could spend my time scrabbling around in the dirt in the desert when I do not as such enjoy direct sunlight. But one of my embarrassing secrets? Around the time I had the intelligent kickass female Kzin Mary Sues in the Known Universe, I had a Jurassic Park Sue who was a raptor handler (my fanon Jurassic Park was "realistic" in that the animals weren't so unaccountably psychotic. The rest of it though, the unlikely speed and intelligence, sure, why not?) and was totes lifelong best friends with Ian Malcolm. Not the hot Jeff Goldblum one, either; the movie didn't come out until I was a freshman in high school. The cranky one from the book, which I read a kajillion times in middle school. Point being, Jurassic Park Builder scratches me in places I still shamefully like to be scratched, though I won't admit it to anyone I know on Facebook. My settings for that game are even more TELL THEM NUZZING than the rest of Facebook.

The thing about Builder that's really weird and silly, though? You actually interact with cute young Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill and B.D. Wong and cute-in-a-different-way not-so-young Richard Attenborough. Not even in the "Real Ghostbusters" way where the cartoon was like "LOL why'd they cast those guys in the movies? Look, they look nothing like the actual Ghostbusters!" No, they use actual cartoon Ian Malcolm/Henry Wu/Alan Grant/John Hammond that look so much like the actors I start to wonder sometimes if they get royalties or something for this. They pop up and have little dialogue box conversations with you about your next park mission.

Which is the thing that makes it so weird. The game designers are trying to make this the real Jurassic Park. But the dialogue from the characters has these huge winks to the player. The whole tone is basically "How bad the last park worked out? Ha ha, that's why pencils have erasers!" In addition to all these "do such-and-so for security" missions, which makes sense, there are all of these passing references like hey, this decorative fossil? Bones from the last park! The book implied that Wu was kind of a half-assed geneticist, but some of his dialogue in the game makes him sound straight-up lazy and stupid. The effect comes off as all these inside jokes that the characters would never make in a serious situation. It's actually really jarring. I think that's why when I read the things they have characters saying my reaction is just kind of "Ha, what? Ohhhkay then!" or "Wow, this is really silly." instead of buying into story. Which, actually was sort of my reaction to CSI: Miami. Because well, the writing and acting was at about the same level as the dialogue boxes with the static cartoons.

I hadn't really thought about it until I thought about them all together, but it's a hard thing to do, to walk the line between being enjoyably silly and just being stupid. I think that's what really makes Sleepy Hollow the high point of the week (other than Tom Mison's pretty eyes and nose). For what it is, it's a really damn well written show.

ETA: I'm still bored which reminds me, I still have lots of spaces on the ask me questions meme, and I'm actually to the time of term when I have time to answer them!

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