Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I dislike "The Big Bang Theory" (The TV Show)

            I don't really like the show, "The Big Bang Theory".  While I will admit that the show does on occasion have some heart or development for the most part it is just a dumb farce that seems to have limitless contempt for the characters and the audience.  To illustrate this point I would like to point to an episode that for whatever reason really sticks out in my memory, "The Cornhusker Vortex" (Season 3, Episode 6; Nov 2, 2009).
            In this episode two of the characters, Howard and Raj play a game of kite battling (none of this is shown, that would be interesting and showcase something exotic and neat that their worldly jobs and education have yielded... can't have that, they are to only be the butt of jokes) somehow Howard fucks up because he gets distracted by a pretty woman and so Raj is mad at him.  Since none of the kite flying is shown I have no idea how he ruins things, but that is the "B" plot.

What do you mean we don't get to be characters rather than one-note jokes?  Not for another 3 seasons?  That's lame.
            The "A" plot though has to deal with Leonard (why doesn't he go by Leo?).  Leonard finds out that his girlfriend Penny is having a football party with her friends (friends that are never previously seen, and are never heard from again) and Leonard wants to participate, she just thinks he'll be bored because he doesn't like football (she is completely right and the mature thing to do is for Leonard to just admit that and they should just agree to have fun on their own with other friends from time to time, but he is emotionally retarded).
            For some fucking reason Leonard decides to learn football from textbooks and recites the rules of the game in exacting detail as he watches, and remains completely baffled by the game.  The clever twist of the episode is that the asperger's syndrome test subject, Sheldon knows all about Football having grown up in Texas, and teaches it to Leonard.  Ultimately Penny sees how Leonard is frustrated and does what she did originally and lets him go to spend his Sunday hanging out with Howard and Raj whose friendship is mended.

So the plot of this show is that a man who understands particle physics...
Can't understand the rules of a sport?
You know, lots of people don't care about lots of sports, its not that they can't understand the rules...
It's that they have no interest.  Like people who dislike jogging or broccoli.
            Why in god's name did they have to teach Leonard football at all?  Forget watching it, reading it, cultural osmosis, and Sheldon teaching him... All of that aside, "Madden NFL 2010" was released 6 weeks before this episode premiered.  It is a football video game.  Just buy a used copy of Madden 09' from Gamestop (there will be 10,000 copies there for $5) and have him play that for a few hours, Leo would have mastered the rules in a day.  The guy plays video games all the time there is no reason he couldn't learn to play a game for children... VIA PLAYING THE VIDEO VERSION OF THAT GAME FOR CHILDREN.

Use a video game to teach someone about a sport?  But how can football if not jock!?
            Even from a story perspective there should be some kind of contrast between the exotic sport of kite battle and football and how Howard and Raj get into a fight during it, and how Leonard forcing his way into the football party should cause a fight with Penny, but there is no real parity, no message beyond, don't watch shows you dislike... a message I had no trouble following as I have watched maybe an episode's worth of clips since then.
            I will admit that once there were more women on the show and they were treated like characters instead of objects the show improved.  And once they had Howard stop acting like a would be sex offender it improved.  And once they stopped with all the hack nerd jokes (there are only so many) the show improved.  But it is still crap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My First Impressions on "Ni No Kuni"

I bought this game during Black Friday last year and popped it in for about an hour this spring and I now realize I will never be going back. So while I wrote several paragraphs for my first impressions, planning to give the game a full run down, that is not going to happen, so here are some of my initial thoughts of disappointment and boredom. Maybe my expectations were too high from it getting recommended so many time. I can sort of see the appeal, but not really.

First Impressions:
Was playing the first hour of "Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch" (Why did they not translate the whole title?) on the PS3 and they really needed to bring in Neil Gaiman to do a punch up on the script. The number of "huh", "wah", "hmm", and various other mouth-noise filler is embarrassing. There is also the stupidly long installation period, load times, and opening credit sequence (just do the installation while playing the opening credits).

I got nowhere near even having little sidekicks and buddies.
They also have a very poor habit of sliding between 4 levels of exposition, there is the gameplay interactions without voices, those with voices, those that are in game cinematics, and then there are fully animated cut scenes, and then there are the fully animated cut scenes which happen in areas that the viewpoint character is not in, or those that flashback to another cut scene that we watched 5 minutes prior.
There was 45 minutes before the first bit of combat which consisted of me hitting a puppy with a stick 3-5 times... I like the art style and the character, Drippy, but this game has a lot of problems getting into gear.
Oliver the main character is shown as having helped build and then drove a car he and his friend made, this in part leads to the death of his mother who saved him when the car crashed into a river causing her heart to give out.  Will this skill ever be used again?  I can't find anything in the promotional art or screen shots that indicates that it will.  Is this to establish character?  If so, what does it establish?  Oliver is practically dragged into the situation by his friend and does little aside from get rescued once the situation turns bad.  I guess it is supposed to make him feel responsible for his mother's death, but he is a 13 year old who drove a small car into a calm river at low speed, why did he even need rescuing?  This whole opener makes him seem sheepish and ineffectual to the point of being a loser.
There is a subtext that the fantasy world is Oliver's attempt to escape from the harshness of the situation, especially considering that Drippy the Lord of Fairies is a toy his mother made for him yet claims to have been transformed into the doll by the villain... But that subtext is under cut when supernatural things are shown to exist before the tragedy that spurs the adventure... that is bad writing.  The ambiguity of whether or not this is a dream or real is important to showing the character coming to grips with things.  This is why I mentioned Neil Gaiman who does a lot of modern fantasy with going-down-the-rabbit-hole elements and has included scenes that make the reader question what is happening to the character ("Neverwhere" had that confrontation be one of the big climaxes of the book).

I must state, that even though the game's pacing kept me from playing it again, It remains one of the most beautiful and imaginative games I have ever seen and it a credit to all of the artistic minds that worked on it in that regard.
If you want a positive review, please watch this silly European woman.  She really liked it and explains why, in a way that allows me to see how others could appreciate it very deeply.