Avatar: The Last Airbender

aka, we continue to use the heck out of Neflix streaming. Over the past several weeks, Matthew and I devoured Avatar: The Last Airbender.

We had watched bits and pieces of Book (Season) 2 on demand a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, but nothing prepared us for how AMAZING this show was. It… was not a kid’s show. Sure, there were comic moments. But… it won a Peabody. It casts war and combat in a VERY negative light and, in the final battle, Aang’s conflict is whether he can defeat the Fire Lord without killing him.

Go. Watch it. Not with young children because it will scare the bejeezus out of them. The whole thing is on Neflix streaming.

I love Aaron Sorkin but… he’s kind of predictable.

In my idle googling, I come across things. Like “The Five: Aaron Sorkin Show Trademarks”. Actually, I came across that because I was trying to confirm another Sorkin hallmark that I had noticed as I am watching Sports Night as my tedious-work-viewing.

All three of his tv shows have featured characters named Danny: Dan Rydell on Sports Night, Danny Concannon on The West Wing, and Danny Tripp on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Also: Both Lisa Edelstein (Laurie Rollins, aka Sam’s call girl, from The West Wing) and Janel Moloney (Donna Moss, also from The West Wing) appear in Sports Night, Edelstein as sportscaster Bobbie Bernstein and Moloney in one episode as wardrobe assistant Monica Brazleton.

Finally, all three shows feature hetero life partners who write things for a living: Casey and Dan writing Sports Night, Josh and Sam writing Presidential speeches, and Matt and Danny writing Studio 60.

I’m also noticing a lot of misogynistic jokes in Sports Night that I don’t remember ever picking up on in the other two shows.

Veronica Mars

One thing I’m doing now that we have Netflix is finally watching all of those TV shows that everyone said “You have to watch this, you’ll love it!” Including Veronica Mars.

Veronica Mars is so clearly inspired by perennial Sarah-favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer that comparison between the two is inevitable (and very much done). The similarities in the basic outlines are … uncanny. Formerly popular but now outcast snarky/sarcastic teen girl with single parent solves cases of weird stuff that goes on in high school, both small weird stuff but also with a background of big weird stuff for each season. Add in the sarcastic quipping and it’s very clear why Netflix recommended VM to me based on my ratings of everything Joss Whedon ever wrote.

All that’s missing in Veronica Mars is the supernatural. Where Buffy dealt with teenage girl-ness in a supernaturally-influenced metaphorical sense, VM does it head-on. There’s nothing metaphorical in Veronica’s being drugged & raped before the show begins; there’s nothing metaphorical in her best friend’s murder-by-blunt-force-trauma. And yet… I think Buffy dealt with the issues in a more deep way. We never see Veronica struggle with the aftereffects of her assault; it comes up when it’s convenient but otherwise doesn’t seem to be an issue in her daily life.

Much like Buffy, Veronica Mars suffered with the transition to college. The quality of the plots (but not of the dialogue) declined with the second (VM’s senior year of high school) and third seasons. The behavior of the supporting characters got more and more inconsistent as well. Is Logan the 09er bad boy? Is he a tortured soul? Why in the very end of season 3 does Dick Casablancas suddenly become something other than a jerky playboy? Why does Keith take the moral high ground sometimes and not other times? (Though this could have been mitigated by having a better idea as to his motivations.)

On the other hand, I have a perverse love of Enrico Calontoni and you can’t argue with guest stars like Alyson Hannigan, Patty Hearst, and Laura San Giacomo as one of Keith Mars’ many love interests (I admit it… I watched Just Shoot Me and I loved their chemistry in that show, too). The arc of the first season was definitely compelling, even if the subsequent two seasons weren’t as good.

Verdict: Not as good as Buffy. Definitely watch the first season, maybe watch the second season, give season 3 a pass.

In which I finally enter the 21st Century…

I used my birthday money to get myself Netflix, oh yes I did.  And what was the first thing I did?  Watched ALL of Battlestar Galactica.  And it was, in fact, everything that everyone said it was.  I did not love the ending, especially the 150000 years later epilogue.  But it was extremely satisfying.