Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ineffable Effect of Art Direction

As I mentioned on Twitter, I've been re-watching the first season of Dollhouse, primarily because it's a) on Netflix streaming and b) it's a show I liked but never finished watching when it aired. I saw almost all of Season One, but missed the end of Season Two, and I was intrigued enough to want to give the whole thing a go.

Last night I watched Episode 5, which featured a particularly credibility-straining plot involving Echo going undercover in a cult to act as an unwitting mole for the FBI. (For those of you who don't remember or never saw Dollhouse, the short version of the premise is that a secret organization houses mindwiped young attractive people who it "imprints" with specific personalities and skills for paid missions (which more often than not seemed to involve sex--it occurred to me last night that the entire series could easily have been spawned by a bet Whedon made with someone that he could get a network to greenlight a series with a prostitute as its main character), rewiping them anew after each mission and keeping them at the ready as blank, child-like slates).

The cult Echo infiltrates is situated on a dusty compound in the middle of nowhere, with all of the cult members dressed in Amish-like garb. As soon as we saw the compound, I was reminded heavily of Big Love's Juniper Creek compound--same dusty, frontier-like milieu, same plain, prarie-esque clothing.

But on Dollhouse, the set and costumes looked like  . . . sets and costumes.

Where on Big Love Juniper Creek looked like a real community, populated by real religious fundamentalists. Not actors playing dress up.

And of course, I wondered why. And I couldn't really tell. What's interesting to me is not that the money spent on production (which I am assuming to be the differentiator here, Dollhouse being a network show given a short leash and Big Love an HBO show, where production value is king) makes such a difference, but that it makes such a difference in so subtle a way.

If forced, I couldn't point to a prop, or a hat, or a blouse, and describe what made it authentic-seeming, or not. But the overall effect was very clear.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"I am Lazarus, risen from the grave!"

So it looks like I'm going to give this thing another whirl. After a few years of more-or-less regular posting I abandoned the blog almost two years ago. A hell of a long time for a battery re-charge, eh?

So what's compelled me to pick up quill and ink again? A few things. The advent of Twitter and Facebook has linked me in new and interesting ways to an online community that, amazingly enough, simply didn't exist in this form two years ago. And I kind of like the idea of seeing how blogging works in this new context. Backwards, I know--many are abandoning blogging, given the ability to share opinions and links on Facebook and Twitter, and here I am picking it up again. Well, so be it.

Another contributing factor is the nagging TV series blogging itch I've always wanted to scratch. During Round One of the blog I did plenty of TV blogging, including posts about specific episodes, but never the kind of episode-by-episode blogging of an entire season I am so much a fan of in my own online reading. And with the imminent arrival of HBO's Game of Thrones series, the time seemed ripe. I am a big fan of the books, which I had just started reading when I abandoned the blog two years ago, and have been very eagerly following the development of the series over the last year. So it just seemed a natural fit to try my hand at the form with this series. We'll see how I do.

More factors? Sure. Over the past six months I have been blogging for work some, on the topic of innovation on my company's internal blogging system. And that blogging has most definitely awakened the urge.

Finally? I miss sharing thoughts, opinions, and arguments about the many forms of pop culture I imbibe in, and I miss having my tiny little platform on the web to do it on. I miss Tosy and Cosh.

So. Here I am. What's new with you?

Until Whenever