You are what you watch.

TV, Movies, Web, Books, and other extraneous things, and why some are worth your time and money - mostly

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Alien Vs. Alien (More on the TV New Season)

I mentioned earlier my confusion between CBS's Threshold and ABC's Invasion. But now that I've seen Threshold I realized the shows couldn't be any more different.

Threshold features terrible writing, mediocre acting, and a UFO that looks like a screensaver. In short, I loved it. In the first hour of Threshold, all the key characters and most of the key conflicts for the coming season are briskly introduced before the cast is sent out to a ship to investigate a reported UFO look at some plasticky corpses and babble pseudo-scientifically. They puzzle out a lot given the dearth of information to base their claims on. But there's still a lot of mystery going on, including some unintriguing standard-issue backstory for Carla Gugino's character. Gugino (Sin City) leads a government team assembled to investigate extraterrestrial life and hide it from the public. She makes you appreciate Jennifer Garner on Alias, who can deliver boring Government mumbo jumbo with emotion and conviction, while Gugino doesn't always seem to understand or care what she's saying. Everyone on Threshold works top secret and has little external life, no family or friends to worry about. They work as much in the name of science as they do in the name of mankind. The cast on the whole is on par with Gugino, although the blame must partially lie with the writers who created one-dimensional characters and gave them mostly unspeakably bad dialogue ("We have to stare into the eye of the unknown and try not to blink") There were some brief glimpses of non-cliched character, including one great scene about science and religion, and the mere presence of Peter Dinklage elevates the whole show. Despite the aforementioned flaws, the show is a lot of fun to watch. It's spooky, dramatic, and exciting and reasonably well shot. I plan on giving it a chance. (I've still only seen the first hour of the pilot, after all. Stupid Torrents split it up.)

Threshold's pro-government attitude is diametrically opposed to Invasion. On Invasion an everyman and his extended family discover EBEs (Extra-terrestrial Biological Entities, in the show's lingo). The government is working hard to cover up the incident, just like on Threshold, but on Invasion this is evil and sinister and it's up to the hero to investigate. Invasion is all about the family and it's relations and struggle. There are no scientists in sight to explain what's happening (at least yet) and the government is sleazily pretending nothing's wrong, just like on Threshold.
This is the age old debate about government secrecy. Are the protecting us from ourselves? Or is it wrong to hide something so important from the public eye? Do we trust the government to act without any accountability?
I'm going to keep watching both shows for now, to see how they develop. After all it's hard to judge based on a pilot. One of the great things about TV is the constant potential for change and reinvention, for correction of past errors and new aggregious mistakes (see alias season 4).

PS. Which do I like better? Right now, Invasion.

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