Over/Underrated 2013: Part Ten

11 Jan

Overrated

Splitting TV Seasons

— Brook (@brooklynhofstad)

In September AMC announced that the final season of Mad Men would be split in two. The first set of seven episodes will air this spring, and the final seven will air in 2015.

AMC president Charlie Collier said the following in defense of the network’s decision: “In an era where high-end content is savored and analyzed, and catch-up time is used well to drive back to live events, this decision makes sense.”

AMC made the announcement shortly after the premier of the final season of Breaking Bad (which was also split in two), which became a bonafide pop culture phenomenon, raking in over 10 million viewers (a network high) for the series finale.

Sorry, lots of parentheticals in that last sentence.

Those of us who don’t make money from the shows or networks were left rolling our eyes in disgust.

I’ve heard some people talk about this as if it’s some new fangled idea devised in the wake of the popularity of binge watching.

It’s not.

I hate to break it to you, but networks have been doing this for at least 10 years, if not longer. For example, the final season of Sex and the City was split in half, and the final season aired in 2004. The Sopranos did the same thing two years later. (HBO, you trailblazer you…)

TV has always been split into seasons, but seasons historically haven’t functioned as a conceptual tool of the audience’s experience of long running programs the way they do today (think: cliffhanger like Dexter finding Rita’s dead body in the tub). They functioned as a way to give the cast and crew a break.

The point here is that, sure, the final season of Mad Men will technically be longer by four episodes, but fans will have to wait an additional year for the curtains to close on our favorite ’60s era drunkards.

It’s not that I want that show to end, per se. It’s just that in the current climate of binge-watching (which, according to the Collier’s statement, is exactly what the networks want) the whole point is that a viewer DOES NOT HAVE TO WAIT for the next episode, or even the next season.

I understand that in order to survive the networks have to make money. So please, call a spade a spade. Stop spinning this BS about wanting to give the public a chance to effectively savor, dissect, and appreciate the “art” before making the next installment available. It’s nothing more than a ploy designed to drive sales.

Or better yet, take a page from Netflix’s playbook and just make entire seasons available all at once. I promise, we, the adoring fans from whom you’re squeezing every last dime, won’t mind a bit.

madm

Underrated

Neil Gaiman

— Andrea (@prettyandink)

Neil Gaiman has written over thirty comic books, graphic novels, picture books, books for young people and books for adults. He penned one of the most well-received episodes of Doctor Who in the franchise’s history. His work has been adapted to film, radio, the stage and television. He has won countless awards, including four Hugos, the Newbery and the Carnegie Medals. With his hands in so many proverbial pots, how is it, then, that the most common response when I mention his name is, “Who?”

While his name may not be a familiar one, his work most certainly is. Works like Coraline, Sandman, The Graveyard Book and American Gods have garnered him a devout cult following that seems willing to follow their eccentric leader anywhere.

Neil Gaiman is to the literary world what Tim Burton is to movies. Gaiman is known for creating art that is equal parts kooky, frightening, intelligent and bewitching. His work is saturated with mythology and fantasy, and then steeped in a sinister darkness that is intoxicating to consume. He manages to take our wildest fantasies, mix it with our most hideous nightmares and turn it into something dangerous in its beauty. To say he is a creative genius doesn’t quite cover it.

2013 was another year of accolades and acclaim for Gaiman. His picture book Chu’s Day has delighted toddlers and parents alike, while his Roald Dahl-esque tale Fortunately, the Milk is quickly becoming a favorite amongst those familiar with his children’s books. A dramatization of his book Neverwhere featuring James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch aired on BBC radio. He also released An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, a compilation of live performances from the tour he did with his singer/songwriter/wife. Then, of course, there was The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

A book with a deeply personal background, The Ocean at the End of the Lane weaves together everything fans love about Gaiman and manifests them in a concise 178 pages. With themes of overcoming evil, adventure, friendship and the loss of childhood innocence, Ocean is the story of a boy growing up, and it’s haunting in its tragic beauty. Written with poetic elegance, Gaiman’s words dance across the pages in the effortless and mesmerizing style his readers have come to expect. Ocean premiered at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, and it was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. It also was the 2013 Goodreads Choice for Fantasy book.

Neil Gaiman is not just an author; he’s an artist. His imagination and ingenuity know no bounds, and to read his books is to experience the otherworldly. If you are not yet familiar with his work, right that wrong immediately. Your soul will thank you for it.

ng

On Pointe

Benedict Cumberbatch

— Andrea

It’s hard to believe there was a significant portion of my life when I only knew Benedict Cumberbatch as “that guy who played the rapist in Atonement.” It’s also hard to believe there was a significant portion of time in my life when I only knew Benedict Cumberbatch as “that guy who was in The Other Boleyn Girl and played the rapist in Atonement.” It’s a shame because not only does he possess possibly the most delightfully British name of all time, but also because he’s one of the most talented actors of the 2000s.

If 2013 was the year that Jennifer Lawrence was Master of the Universe, it’s only because Cumberbatch was such a gentleman that he let her walk away with the title. Cumberbatch starred in five movies this year (Star Trek: Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug). If that wasn’t enough, he also basically broke the internet when a webisode prequel to the next season of his BBC show Sherlock aired.

I think it’s fair to say that Cumberbatch was the face of EVERYTHING in 2013, and it’s easy to see why. He’s highly blessed with both talent and charisma, and he’s got a voice that seems to command devotion. Plus, Buzzfeed called him King of the Internet, for good reason.

It may have taken me awile to learn the name Benedict Cumberbatch, but it’s one I won’t soon forget.

bc

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