Category Archives: SPOILER FREE

SWIMMING UPSTREAM: A PARADIGM SHIFT IN NETWORK ENTERTAINMENT

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
A look at Star Trek on TV, Discovery, streaming services, paid vs. ‘free’ content, and how we consume 23rd Century entertainment in the 21st Century.
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On CBS All Access, Discovery is breaking new ground in Star Trek storytelling. While Season One told a continuing story arc of epic proportions, many Star Trek fans felt something was missing. The sense of hope and wonder that is integral to Trek was subdued and/or nonexistent, depending on who you ask.
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Discovery’s producers heard what the fans had to say, and have made changes accordingly. The show is no longer quite so dark, has a damn-likable captain, is dealing with Star Trek-like questions about purpose and existence, and is showcasing a developing crew who work together as a team. Like every Trek sequel series before it, Discovery stumbled out of the gate but is now finding its footing as it moves forward within its second season.
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So, with the prospect of getting most of what they want from a Trek, why are some fans still refusing to watch?
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Principle.
OK, and money.
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Ten bars gold pressed latinum. Some complain that televised Star Trek has always been free. With the advent of CBS All Access you have to pay for a subscription (either $5.99 a month with commercials or $9.99 without) in order to see Discovery. On the surface, that complaint seems valid. Why should we pay for something that has always been free? However, let’s put that into perspective.
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Nothing is ever really free. In order to watch what you want in your home, at one time in your life, you may have paid for pay-per-view.
You might pay for HBO.
Right now, you could be paying for STARS, SHOWTIME, or other premium networks.
Maybe you pay for sports channels.
You pay for Netflix.
How about Hulu?
You might even pay for Amazon Prime.
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Watching ‘free’ stuff on Youtube? You’re at the least paying to access the internet. Most importantly, you likely pay for cable (I assure you that 99.9% of you are not using rabbit ears to get a free TV signal. I guarantee that the younger half of you just thought to yourself, “What are rabbit ears?”)
$This. We used to watch shows like this. The pointy things are rabbit ears. They sucked.
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The ins-and-outs of TV have changed. The old television network model doesn’t work anymore. In the past, companies would pay good money to advertise during a show’s broadcast, generating the revenue needed to create original programming. With so many channels to choose from today, not enough viewers tune in to any show to make advertising worth what it used to be. In short, commercials no longer pay the bills. At the end of the day, Star Trek, like everything else in entertainment, is a business. The streaming service model generates the income networks need to survive and to continue to bring us the shows we want to see. This is the new reality of delivering quality long-form entertainment.
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And so dies the cable box. Broadcast network channels are going away. Each network is going to have their own ‘all access.’ DISNEY is doing itthey are pulling their content from other providers (which is why Marvel Netflix shows are going away) and are planning new Marvel shows and at least two Star Wars television series. NBC is next. Better get used to it, Netflix and Amazon Prime proved there is more money to be made this way than on TV. Eventually, the concept of cable will go away, replaced with providers that offer access to a number of streaming servicesfor a price (Personally, I currently have CBS, HBO, STARS, and SHOWTIME as add-ons for my Amazon Prime). New technologies always beget new forms of entertainment. Remember when that damn tube-box ruined radio serials? No? Well, it did.
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“Why do you need special effects? Why can’t you just listen and see them in your mind? Why isn’t everything always the same? Why are things different?”
“Shut up, grandma’s grandma.”
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Remember when suddenly you had to have cable to have a decent TV signal? Or how about when you paid to go see a Star Trek in a movie theater?
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“You want me to pay money to go see this Star Trek Moving Picture? In my day, Star Trek was on the TV and was free!”
“Shut up, Grandpa’s grandpa.”
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Special Note: the verbal abuse aimed at the elderly as depicted on this page is intended for educational purposes only. Stay kind to your seniors and stay off their lawns. No old people were harmed during the writing of this essay. Thank you.
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The real reason Star Trek fans don’t want to pay for Discovery
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What am I paying for? The production quality of Discovery is that of a feature filmyou are getting a lot for your buck. If you pay $9.99 a month for CBS All Access in order to watch Discovery, and you are getting one episode a week, that’s four episodes every 30 days.  That means you are paying a whopping $2.50 per episode to watch new Star Trek. Better still, if you can stomach watching commercials, it’s only $5.99 a month! Break it down and it’s $1.50 an episode.
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This is a great price even if you hate Discovery. If you are actually watching DISCO when you complain about it all over facebook, you can back up your claims with empirical evidence. That’s $1.50-$2.50 for a week’s worth of trolling material! Like the show or not, that’s not bad, no matter how you slice it.
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Or you can wait until Season Two is over, join, and watch the entire show in one month. With two seasons and about thirty episodes at that point, you’d be paying between .19 and .34 cents an episode depending on your subscription plan.
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To reiterate.19 cents an episode.
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And the cost efficiency is getting better than that, even. With at least four planned Star Trek shows coming to All Access, your actual cost per content will soon be negligible.
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I’m sorry, why are you complaining, again? Just as entertainment itself evolves, the form in which it is delivered does as well. As always, the times are changing.
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TV is dead.
Long live TV.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

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Creative Kiss 101—An Empire of Nuances

CONTINUING A NON-SPOILER LOOK AT STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI VIA ANALYSIS OF OTHER FILMS IN THE FRANCHISE.

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Many times, it’s the little things that push something over the top—for better or for worse. Just as the static and clumsy oversight of an incompetent creator can hinder any fictional endeavor, the subtleties perpetrated by a good director can augment one’s sense of wonder. The tools at any creative director’s disposal include more than the players and crew. Palette, scene composition, dialogue, and character idiosyncrasies are all key to telling a bigger story.

Irvin Kirschner was George Lucas’ film teacher. When George bowed out of directing the eventually titled Episode V, he asked the senior director to pick up the reins for him. What he did not expect was that Kirshner would create a superior product, elevating Star Wars out of Toyland and into film and franchise history. As director of the second Star Wars film, Kirschner jam-packed every shot in the Empire Strikes Back with details not readily noticed on a single viewing. Let’s take a single scene and break it down, shall we?

THE SCENE: LEIA KISSES LUKE TO PISS OFF HAN

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ACTION

The modern viewer is drawn, of course, to the incestuous brother/sister kiss which dominates the scene (Mr. Lucas seems to have glossed over this kiss and Luke and Leia’s awkward romance when he got lazy and decided not to follow the original plan.continue with Episodes VII VIII & IX in the eighties. According to Gary Kurtz, Luke’s actual sister was on the other side of the galaxy. After the Emperor’s death in Episode VI, Palatine’s essence would flee there to corrupt her. Luke would pursue the disembodied Emperor, ultimately finding his sister and encountering a whole new universe of threats. But I digress…)

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THE DEVIL, YOU SAY

It’s all about the details. Let’s take a look at the other particulars of this scene. Chewbacca, obviously, finds the entire affair amusing. Han is… well, look at Captain Solo’s face—obviously, he is disappointed and yearning as he watches Leia kiss her brother, wishing it was he she was kissing instead of Luke.

The best part is Threepio’s double take. He rushes up to see the kiss, then immediately turns to see Han’s reaction. As stupid as Threepio is, he knows.

When Leia pulls away from Luke and looks Han in the face, the smuggler quickly changes his visage to one of awkward nonchalance. He tries in vain to look nonplussed by it all and is unable to meet her eyes for long.

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WHY IT WORKS

Altogether a well-played amusing scene that gets better with subsequent viewings. There is always something new to look at in each revisit. Everyone in this one scene has their own arc to worry about. Each is in character and reacting according to who and what they arethe secondary characters aren’t just there to fill up space, even though they are reacting to something that has nothing to do with them. Compare that to the prequel trilogy, when character and dialogue exist merely to move the thinly contrived plot from point A to B to C. Everyone in Empire is alive.

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CONCLUSION

Irvin Kirschner was a civilized director for a more civilized age, and more modern directors would do well to tip their hats to the man. His attention to detail was something you that you simply don’t see in genre fiction anymore—and something that elevated Empire from a mere sequel ‘strapped to a one-hit wonder’ to art in and of itself. It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of a galaxy far, far, away. Fans need to remember that just like a good book or anything else, a good film is good regardless of its genre. For all its potential and revelations, the Last Jedi is missing the nuances needed to make it so. That’s right, I made a Trek reference on a Star Wars post. You go and Live Prosper now, alright?

Just as the other films in history’s longest trilogy, it’s devoid of the art of Empire. Does that make the Last Jedi a bad film? Probably not. I did enjoy it. It’s certainly not prequel bad. It’s just no Empire Strikes Back. But then again, what else is? Not much.

Class dismissed.

Andrew E.C. Gaska

 

TRIGGERED! THE LAST JEDI 99.999% SPOILER FREE TEASER REVIEW

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THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY AND THE SPOILED OF TLJ.

Note: Extremely minor non-plot and non-character spoiler towards the end of this post.

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THE GOOD

Cool critter and vehicle design plus incredibly epic and emotional scenes that are the essence of Star Wars, coupled with character revelations and plot twists that spin the franchise in new directions and force you to rethink what you thought you knew about a galaxy far, far, away.

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THE BAD

Excessive humor of a type inappropriate to the franchise, uninspired alien design, an prequel-esque planet, a ponderous plot, an unexpected and particularly off-putting SFX visual representation of a beloved icon that should work but just doesn’t, a few hammed-up performances and a series of contrived circumstances that rival the prequels in their ham-fisted execution.

Aliens

THE UGLY

Fanboy reactions and the fear that the next film will backpedal and transform TLJ’s spin into a crash and burn in order to get it back on its overwrought cyclical track.

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AND THE SPOILED

Space Walrus milk. Likely spoiled, definitely gratuitous.
Do not want.

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PROGNOSIS

Second viewing required. At the least.

Andrew E.C. Gaska