More Odds & Ends From This & That

So this week I’ve got a few more bits and pieces of things we’ve watched that don’t individually rise to the level of a “Not a Review“, but that, taken together, add up to a post.* This includes a television show and a couple of movies, including one which, astonishingly, my wife not only asked about**, but which she stayed up for in its entirety***.

Now, as I’ve previously mentioned, we finished up Mad Men a few months ago, and since then there’s been a bit of let’s call it flailing around as we try to find another show that both of us will watch. And by “both of us” I mean my wife, because it’s widely known that I will watch just about anything. So far, failed candidates include:

  • Hawkeye ― probably not surprising, despite the presence of Emily Dickinson Hailee Steinfeld.
  • Manh(a)ttan ― another period piece like Mad Men; initially promising, but my wife lost interest upon learning just how historically inaccurate it was. For instance, a major plot point in the first few episodes was suspected espionage committed by a Chinese scientist which, whenI looked it up, never happened and couldn’t have happened because in real life there were no Chinese scientists at the Manhattan Project. Following this revelation, not even the presence of Mrs. Maisel Rachel Brosnahan could keep her watching.
  • The Wheel of Time ― Wife: “That’s gross.”****
  • Station Eleven ― Wife: “Why would I want to watch a show about a pandemic that causes the collapse of civilization?”

She did get interested in the poorly-named Paul Rudd clone comedy Living with Yourself, and we finally finished up the second season of Dead to Me, but those were only a few episodes each, and things were looking pretty grim in the long-term show-watching department, until I decided to try Halt and Catch Fire, which was frequently mentioned in connection with Station Eleven due to sharing a lead actress in Mackenzie Davis. And lo! We have a winner!

Wife: “Is this the 80s?”
Me: “Yes. How can you tell? The clothes?”
Wife: “The hair.

As I explained to my wife, Halt and Catch Fire tells the story of the effort to reverse-engineer the IBM PC to make a compatible clone, which was actually done by, among others, Compaq Computer. The show isn’t set up to be a time capsule of an era like Mad Men was, but it’s fairly historically accurate when it comes to the actual events it references. It shares a few other characteristics with Mad Men, namely the persona of its main character, at least at first.

Me: “Joe MacMillan seems to be the Don Draper-equivalent in this show.”
Wife: “Well he seems to be a good salesman like Don Draper and he has a mysterious past, but he’s not as smooth as Don. And he’s more driven.”
Me: “So if Don Draper and Pete Campbell had a baby, it would be Joe?”
Wife: “Pretty much.”

So far Halt and Catch Fire is one of those shows that gets better as it goes along, with an expanding scope for the characters’ behavior in season two. Plus, I mean, I would watch it just to see VIC-20 boxes on shelves and people using Commodore 64s with the Commodore 1541 floppy drive.

Me: “I had that disk drive. Slowest drive ever. If I wanted to play Flight Simulator I would start it loading and then go make a sandwich. And then when I actually played it I would usually crash my plane in like five minutes.”

So that’s television. As for movies, the one that my wife asked about was Promising Young Woman, in which Carey Mulligan plays a (you guessed it!) promising young woman whose hobby is going to bars and pretending to be very drunk, in order to identify men who will engage in predatory behavior with very drunk women. What exactly happens to them after they get her home is not entirely clear. The reason she does this is because of a traumatic event that happened when she was in college, involving predatory behavior and a very drunk woman. Oh, and, did I mention it’s a comedy?

Towards the end of Promising Young Woman the main character decides to delete her account on the social media site she uses (whose name I can’t remember, but whose page looks an awful lot like a social media site that rhymes with “Lacehook”), which deletion is shown on-screen as involving the following steps:

  • Clicking on a button that says “Delete Account”
  • Social media site pops up a prompt that says, “Do you really want to delete your account?”
  • Clicking on the “Yes” button
  • Social media site pops up a message that says “Your account has been deleted” and then returns the user to the login screen.

Me: “The most unbelievable thing in this movie is that there’s a social network where you can tell it to delete your information and it asks you once if you’re sure and then just does it.”

Like I said at the beginning, my wife stayed awake for the entire film, even staying up past her bedtime (we finished it at about 10pm, much to my wife’s astonishment when she looked at the clock) which is pretty much the highest rating we can give a movie around here, although the gunpowder tea might have had something to do with it.

The other movie in question, which is of course one I subjected my wife to, is the divisive Marvel epic Eternals, which has a lot of people who hated it and a seemingly smaller number of people who loved it.

I thought it was a fairly decent middle-of-the-road Marvel movie, and it sure did look good, plus it gets extra points for introducing my second-favorite Marvel character, Dane Whitman, AKA The Black Knight:

No, not that Black Knight, this Black Knight:

The sort of comic book character who probably should be my favorite instead of Dazzler, but isn’t.

Not that Dane Whitman actually suited up or wielded an Ebony Blade during the movie or had any real plot significance whatsoever, but still.

Anyway, my wife mostly tuned out Eternals immediately, although she did notice a couple of things. First, she noticed that, towards the beginning of the film, nobody was speaking English:

Wife: “Did they make up a whole language for this movie?”
Me: “According to the subtitles it’s Sumerian.”
Wife: “But is it really?”
Me: “I don’t know, I don’t speak Sumerian. I’ll listen to see if anyone mentions Gozer. Gozer was very big in Sumeria.

And second, she noticed the name of one of the characters:

Wife: “Did I just hear someone say ‘Cersei‘?”
Me: “Yes, but it’s a different—”
Wife: “Who invited Cersei into this movie?!”
Me: “It’s spelled S-E-R-S-I. She’s one of the Eternals. She’s a good guy.”
Wife (firmly): “Nope, the name Cersei is forever tainted.”

So there you have it: You may be an Eternal, you may be a superhero, but if you’re saddled with a name that rhymes with Cersei you’re going to face a negative reaction every time somebody introduces you. FOREVER.

* Hey, it’s not easy coming up with 52 posts a year over here, plus 365 posts a year over at the animals’ blog.
** I already had it in the queue when she asked about it. Shocker.
*** The fact that she had drunk a mug of gunpowder tea without realizing just how much caffeine it contains may have had something to do with it. Also, WTH is gunpowder tea?!
**** This was when a “Trolloc” (think an ogre) was ripping out the intestines of another, wounded, Trolloc, and eating them like spaghetti, so it actually was kinda gross when you think about it.

2 thoughts on “More Odds & Ends From This & That

  1. James–I know the feeling of flailing around to find another good show to stream. My wife likes to watch cop shows. It’s not my first choice, but it’s something we can agree upon. I’ll mention a few shows I’ve enjoyed watching on my own. Your wife may like them too. “Eli Stone” Elementary” “Justify” “Banshee” “Suits” “Salvation” “Reacher” Strike Back” Most of these shows are highly rated by IMDB. It’s hard to find good shows that rise above all of the mediocre stuff out there.


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