May 21, 2008


A while back the SciFi channel ran several episodes of a show called Wolf Lake. I Tivoed it, read about it and learned that in typical SciFi fashion they were running some but not all of the episodes. I've since, ahem, "run across" a total of eight or nine episodes of the show and am in the process of watching them now. Seems like nine is all there are.

So far, it's not bad. I'd say "I can't believe they'd cancel this show," but honestly, I can. It's trying very hard to be Twin Peaks, with the setting, the quirky weirdness of some of the locals, the uncomfortable hotness of some of the teenybopper characters. (As always, the links are safe.)

And we all know how commercially successful Twin Peaks was, and how bravely the network went to bat for it.

And don't even get me started on Firefly ... just go rent it and watch it if you haven't. This show wasn't even worth a season? On Friday nights? TV gods: you're not going to get a ton of people watching TV on Friday night anyhow, so why not reserve that night--that one night out of seven--TWO OR THREE HOURS OF THAT ONE NIGHT OUT OF SEVEN--for something that's just halfway decent, that has some quality or creativity to it--or at least the appearance of aspiration to quality or creativity? Just for us losers who aren't out doing whatever it is the cool kids do on Friday nights?

Now I'm being disingenuous. I am one of the cool kids, but I'm cool enough to Tivo my Friday night shows. Fridays are D&D nights!

Okay, that was me being really dishonest. I only WISH Fridays were D&D nights. Nobody will play with me.

So, back to SciFi. If, like me, you were one of the cool kids who read a lot of science fiction back in the 70s and 80s, you probably know that the cognoscenti (translation: I know I smell bad) all turned their noses up at the term SciFi ... the accepted abbreviation was SF. If you said "Sci Fi" at a science fiction convention, you'd probably be ridiculed ... and being ridiculed by people at a science fiction convention is probably pretty demeaning. So when the decided to start up a SciFi channel, I was surprised. I was agog. I was agog, Gog, and Magog, to be honest with you. But okay. By and large they've lived up to my expectations.

So back to Wolf Lake. I can't say it's the best thing Lou Diamond Phillips ever did, because that was the criminally underrated film The Big Hit. But he's okay in it, even if his absurdly fit torso only accentuates the relative smallness of his head. Also great is the ubiquitous Bruce McGill, who had a small but memorable role in a Babylon 5 episode and has done a thousand other things. In Wolf Lake he's the paterfamilias, the big dog if you will. He definitely does not suffer from smallness of the head syndrome.

So what, ultimately, is the point of all this? It's this: TV sucks. Why does it suck? It sucks because it DOESN'T HAVE TO SUCK but still does. The good shows, few as they are, only remind us of how much the rest of it sucks, and how it just doesn't have to suck. Thank you, David Lynch, Joss Whedon, and J. Michael Straczynski!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Loved Twin Peaks, liked Firefly (Don really loves it, so much so that he's knitting a sweater in the same pattern as one that Wash wore in one episode), and liked the 2 episodes of Wolf Lake I saw when it first ran. I remember too many high-school kids--I'm freakin' tired of having to deal with high-school age kids in my pop culture, which is why I declined to experience Buffy.

I tried using SF but no one seems to care anymore, so I've bent to the collective will and use scifi usually.

As for your entry title, I read a bio of Zevon last year--such a sad story. Songs from Excitable Boy are still on regular rotation in my iPod.