Back in My Day, Smokey Was an Overly Fire Conscious Bear in a Hat, Not Some Magical Mist Monster on an Island

Today has been some weather right out of Michigan’s book- gray, cold, and rainy.

It was great.

There was also a tornado. It was tiny and did nothing. Still, fun to watch.

So, I have things to say about television today (there’s a fucking surprise, right?). If you give two shits about spoilers for the finales of LOST or TBBT or the latest episode of Doctor Who, you probably shouldn’t read this (though if you are actually on the internet right now reading this instead of watching whatever show you’d want to not be spoiled, you’re a right idiot).

First, I’m going to address the topic of the LOST finale (because nobody on Facebook or Twitter can shut the fuck up about it). And I’m going to do so without having seen it and without watching more than 30 minutes of the entire series (including the ten minutes I watched just to see Rob McElhenney as Aldo). So suck it.

Now, I have had a number of friends who are big into LOST. Including Sean, who has been trying for the better part of two years to get me to watch it. He has never succeeded, even though I have tried to watch the show at least three times. It’s just… boring as shit, super predictable, and seems to fall back on “ooo, we’re a mysterious show full of questions and mystery” rather than anything that really engages me. But that’s just me, I guess. Plenty of other people seem to like it (then again, plenty of other people like reality television and crappy teen dramas, so I don’t really know if that’s saying much).

Anyway, despite not watching the show, I know a substantial bit about it. Because Sean liked to talk about it. Especially when he was drunk and trying for the 100th time to get me to give LOST another chance. So I know the basic storyline, I know the characters, I know what the goddamn Dharma Initiative is. I might not know all the details, but I don’t have to.

Because the first time this season’s alternate reality plotline was explained to me, I told Sean that everyone was dead and the alternate 2004 timeline was the afterlife. He scoffed and drank more.

Guess who was right? Told you it was predictable. I have no idea how people didn’t see this coming or how it is really any better than a snowglobe or waking up to find it was all a dream or a cut to black. Because it’s still the same kind of lazy writing that the other three employed.

Plus, it’s just a rehashing of an idea I’d already heard before in Kevin Brockmeier’s The City of the Dead, which is about a city that is the afterlife. Which is probably why I could so easily guess the end of the series… Regardless, I did read that book, I did guess the supposedly “mind-blowing” twist in the finale, and I feel confident that I made the right decision in not forcing myself to sit through episode after episode of that show.

***

Next up to bat is the season finale of The Big Bang Theory. Which was a thoroughly irritating episode (especially since it followed The Staircase Implementation, which was so goddamn good). Here’s why I hated it (in so much as I ever hate this show):

First, the Leonard/Penny bullshit. They’ve broken up (after two seasons of will-they/won’t-they drama and 3/4 a season of dating). It’s over. Finally. And then Penny initiates a drunken hook-up? What kind of crap is that?!

Another blogger had this to say on the subject: I was expecting the show to revert the two back to friends with an awkward romantic past, but the booty call makes it clear that there’s enough complicated feelings floating around here that this isn’t just going to be a return to the status quo. And while I know that there are plenty of people out there who are terrified of the idea of Leonard and Penny back together, I think this sort of complex emotional state could actually be the building blocks for a legitimate relationship if they play their cards right. We’d actually see them working through their emotions and issues, perhaps giving us evidence of why they work as a couple by drawing on their tension. When we got tension within their relationship, it felt like contrived sitcom arguments: here, it feels a bit more inspired as they wage war without that expectation, and there was an energy in their antagonism they didn’t achieve in a state of “happiness.”

And here I have to respectfully disagree. First, the idea that the “complicated emotions” surrounding the drunken sex somehow could be a foundation for a better, more stable Leonard/Penny relationship. I maintain that any “complicated emotions” there are what are naturally there after a break-up. Penny knows the split was for the best (thus why she wants to forget the hook-up ever happened and just move on), but she did care about Leonard, so she still feels that. She also feels bad for hurting him. Because Leonard is the second half of the equation- the person in the relationship who had his heart broken. He still loves Penny. After all, he wasn’t the one that really wanted to split up- he just wanted her to love him back. Those emotions after a break-up are always messy, yes, and when you add alcohol to the equation, you can mistakenly lapse back into old feelings because you are unable to see the long-term consequences of them (and all the problems that caused you to break up in the first place). I don’t think those post break-up feelings are ever the fodder for a real and honest connection, though.

Second, I don’t think Leonard and Penny ever actually worked as a couple. I never felt that either of them were attracted to each other for the right reasons. Personally, I think Penny liked the challenge that a smarter guy brought her, but that it was mostly a novelty. Remember how I bitched about the psychic thing just a few days ago? The only time Penny even attempted to understand what Leonard did and what made him tick was when she was feeling rather jealous (i.e. Bernadette being able to talk about Leonard’s work with him). On top of that, I think Penny felt she owed Leonard a real chance, because she cared about him as a friend and felt it was only fair to him to attempt the relationship he so desperately craved (and I don’t really think a feeling of obligation is a great base for a relationship). Plus, Leonard made her feel like a goddess, because he never had a “hot girlfriend” before. And Penny’s the type of person, as Leonard’s mother said, whose “locus of identity lies exterior to [herself].” As for Leonard, he’s in the relationship for the “hot blond girlfriend.” It’s not Penny herself that’s attractive so much as the fact that she’s a status symbol. He constantly comments on the fact that he can’t believe he’s with such a hot woman, because nerds don’t get the hot chicks. The fact that she is Penny, with all the quirks and delights that come with that as part of her personality, is a distant second to her physical attractiveness and the status she gives him among his peers.

I don’t think that that kind of base could ever yield a good relationship. Much as I disagree with the idea of a Sheldon/Penny relationship, at least their friendship is based on actual interaction and a platonic love for one another. They don’t agree with every aspect of each other’s personalities, but they live with the bad and actually bother to get to know each other and attempt to connect as people.

Which brings to me to the part of this episode that I was really worried about- the Sheldon “romance” sub-plot. That was handled about as predictably and moronically as I expected it to be. Now, Raj and Howard dicking around on an online dating service and making a profile for Sheldon… that makes sense. Those two are that ridiculous. And, of course, they find a match.

Now they have to rope Sheldon in. Which they do by appealing to the logical side of his brain, calling it an experiment about the validity of online dating (and by blackmailing him, which always works). So far, it’s pretty typical of the boys interacting with Sheldon.

And when they introduce Amy (codename Blossom)… oh, lo and fucking behold, she’s a female version of Sheldon.

That’s where I got pissed. Because, even though I don’t agree with Sheldon engaging in any sort of romantic liaison (and I honestly doubt this Amy girl will be a romantic partner, though maybe she’ll stick around as a friend), if they are going to give him a lady-figure in his life, could it not be the extremely goddamn predictable “female version of himself” type? If there is anything I have learned about relationships, it’s that, while you have to have a base of compatibility (like some similar interests), relationships between “identical” individuals don’t fucking work. The old “opposites attract” adage has some truth in it- in order to have a functional, solid relationship, there has to be some level of conflict. It’s what helps pique interest, what inspires arguments and conversations, what solidifies attraction into a real bond.

It’s boring to date yourself (and this is coming from a narcissist!). Sheldon is a goddamn genius. He needs someone to stimulate parts of his brain he doesn’t use, namely those of social interaction. That’s another thing that makes Sheldon and Penny’s friendship work- their opposing personalities pose a challenge to each other. Their interactions are mentally stimulating, and that’s necessary in a relationship (romantic or friendship).

Plus, what makes Sheldon so wonderful as a character is how novel and unique he is. He’s a singular entity. Throwing in a female doppelgänger diminishes the power of his character and his personality.

I know, I know- I’m too involved with these fictional characters. Sorry.

***

And finally… a quick word on Doctor Who.

This week’s episode was… eh. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything to write home about, either. I feel Matt Smith is growing on me more and more each week. I’m even going to go so far as to say that he might replace Tennant as my favorite Doctor. Not because I think Tennant is bad (he was amazing), but because Smith brings something to the character that was missing from 9 and 10- the naïveté mixed in with his wisdom. He’s more bumbling, more goofy, but oh so endearing. He does less deus ex machina-ing and more getting down and dirty to solve the mystery he’s stumbled into. I feel that this week had a moment of particular note for Smith. He’s standing outside the van with Ambrose, telling her to return the weapons to her house. As 9 or 10, he would have thundered and stared her down until she buckled under the intensity of his gaze. But as 11… he simply said she was better than that, in a tone that managed to convey good-humor, moderate disappointment, and the hint of the steel that lies behind his words. It was such a complicated, beautiful display of his presence, power, and charisma, and I was floored.

That being said, this story is a bit weak. While it’s nice to see the Silurians again, the whole story feels a bit… bland right now. Maybe part 2 will spice it up.

Also, I’m really going to miss Rory when he leaves the TARDIS crew (as he’s supposed to after next week’s episode). He brings back the platonic male companion, which has been sorely lacking in the new series. It’s so fun to see The Doctor and Rory interact, because they fall into this brotherly, adorable camaraderie (with the occasional pissing contest, because they are both men, after all). Jack was bisexual (or omnisexual or pansexual or whatever), so he was still romantically interested in The Doctor, and Mickey… Mickey was a douchebag who spent his entire time being whiny and jealous of Rose and The Doctor. But Rory… Rory and The Doctor are friends. Two males dragged around by the fiery Scottish girl who keeps them both in line. I will be really upset when Rory departs.

…I can’t believe I just spent an entire post talking about TV shows. How lame is that?

***

So, I just saw a preview for the new Prince of Persia game on the television. And, for a moment, I was struck with horror at the idea that they actually made a video game based on a movie that was based on a motherfucking video game.

Apparently, however, it’s just a filler game in the Prince of Persia series and isn’t related to the movie at all. They’re just capitalizing on the film to sell more games.

*breaths sigh of relief*

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