A minor peeve that's rapidly becoming a pet peeve

What's with all the television characters talking to ghosts and imaginary people lately? Does everyone in times of stress acquire a helpful dead dude (preferably someone from their past with guilty unfinished feelings attached) with whom to hash things out?

When I'm stuck on a page at three in the morning and the deadline looms ever closer, where's my helpful dead dude? Never seen him. Not once.

But I think "stuck on a page at three in the morning" may be the reason we're getting all these dead dudes in the first place. As in, "it's sooo hard to write a scene where my lead has no one to talk to... waah."

Suck it up, guys.

Think how much more exciting the last Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles would have been if Sarah had had to -- I don't know -- break down and confide in the guest-star doctor instead of some dude who was SO NOT Michael Biehn. Of course she wants to talk to her dead lover. And she really doesn't want to talk to the doctor she's holding at gunpoint. So if she HAD to talk to that doctor, which she kind of did anyway -- so why did we even need dead not-Michael Biehn?

I thought one of the things they were questioning on the show was how John Connor will get to be such a great leader of men if his mom's distrust of everyone keeps him so isolated. Wouldn't an episode where Sarah has to break through her lack of trust, and maybe find her trust rewarded, be interesting?

Some writer's dead dude wasn't doing their job at three in the morning on this one.


A genre pet peeve and the application of Moore's Law

I've been watching the 1995-6 series Space: Above and Beyond a lot lately. I still love the show, but I've been reminded of a pet peeve I have with lots of future-set genre shows, this one included: the constant thematic use of 20th century popular music.

I don't mind the suggestion that people will still enjoy music from other eras in the near future. I have very eclectic tastes myself, and I believe people's tastes are only going to get more eclectic as time goes by and Moore's Law makes the storage and easy portability of ridiculous amounts of pop ephemera the norm. But if space marines in 2063 head off to battle listening to 19th century classical, mid-20th century Patsy Cline, and late 20th century punk rock, shouldn't they occasionally also listen to mid-21st century mind-click-phono-folk-pop-weirdness? Or whatever is actually being written and performed in 2063? Surely not everyone on board the Saratoga is a vintage music junkie?

I love the way Lost tweaked the use of pop music in genre shows, even though it's not (mostly) a futuristic show. They won my absolute devotion in an early episode that closed with a dreamy montage of beach life over a pop song, complete with lyrics. Then abruptly, the song cut out. Hurley reached for his disc player, shook it and said "oh well, I guess that's that." And that WAS that. No more unexplainable pop music -- at least not until they found all those records in the hatch...

I've been trying to figure out how much "earth archive" materials my own future explorers will be able to access in Savages. Well, duh, Betsy -- they'll have EVERYTHING. Probably on an iPod the size of a finger nail inserted subcutaneously somewhere in their heads. They'll have the entire, searchable, Library of Congress and then some.

Crap. Moore's Law is a bitch.

But I promise, if I ever have them enjoying a thematic moment of popular music, some of it will date to 2258.


Birthday wishes

Happy birthday, Abe Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

In an odd fit of synchronicity, I have both a book about Lincoln and On The Origin Of Species sitting on my bedside table right now. 'Cause in an even odder fit of synchronicity, Lincoln gets killed off early in one of my pilots, and Darwin is the inspiration for a twenty-third century cult in another. If only Marc Rich and the AVMA were born on the same day, I'd have a clean sweep of pilot-y weirdness.


An attempt to parse network scheduling

So Life On Mars returned to the schedule in its new slot last week with an episode that was... not very Life On Mars-ish. Kind of more Grey's Anatomy-ish what with all the cute cops and workplace sex with oops-inappropriate people. I assumed this was a case of script jetlag -- that this episode had been part of a new direction for the series intended to make it gel better with Grey's and implemented before the move to the post-Lost slot was finalized. It seemed an odd choice to kick off the much-touted new pairing: a cop show with a heady, deep mystery joining the most mysterious show on television and premiering with a burn-off episode utterly lacking in mystery. But such can be the way of script jetlag. I assumed things would return to spooky-wonderful in future episodes.

After last night's showing, I'm confused. Clearly, last night's episode was meant to run BEFORE the episode that ran last week. It picked up the strings of mystery and show mythology left hanging in the fall and ran with them. WHY DIDN'T THEY SHOW THIS EPISODE LAST WEEK?

I think I know. And it worries me.

I sense network nervousness about the failure of the mythology-heavy Invasion that once followed Lost. I sense that -- though the whole point of pairing Lost and LOM is that both are mystery-heavy shows -- the network is trying to step way back on the mystery. That first-week-back show might not have been a burn-off of a now-jettisoned "new direction," it might BE the new direction this show is going to take.

I love Grey's. I really do. But I don't want LOM to turn into cops-lite with cute sex and bad polyester suits. If anyone out there is reading -- keep the mystery, guys! We love the mystery. We watch for the mystery.