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Europa Report (2013)
Immensely sad. Message: Science comes at a cost.
*** SPOILER AHEAD ***
The message given by the narrator lady at the end (Dr. Samantha Unger) is that the success of the mission should be measured by the monumental scientific discovery, not by the scale of the loss of life. At another point towards the end she poses the question of how much your life actually matters compared with the breadth of knowledge there is yet to be known.
I get what her character is saying: "Science trumps human life." The Greater Good and all that.
The reality is that great sacrifices have indeed been made in the pursuit of scientific discovery and we cannot diminish their importance. And we honour those who have given their lives for progress and the benefit of the rest of us.
I'm a big fan of science. However, I cannot help but ask: Why are we exploring, if not for the benefit of living human beings? The dead get no benefit from the great discoveries.
The above is my attempt to rationalise my feelings at the end of the film. The film was gripping. It was gritty, realistic and well-acted. A haunting and stirring music score, too. It's a worthy film by many measures. Yet at the end I felt really sad, more than a "They all died!" sadness. There was courage shown by the characters, to help each other and the mission, and that celebrates the Human Person. But I wasn't uplifted.
For me, I think, human life trumps science. This film did not give me that. Of course, it never intended to. I'm not complaining. These are my reflexions on my reactions to the film. Maybe others feel similarly.
Contemporary Vampire Lore
I watched Moonlight after finding and enjoying both seasons of the similar, but different, Blood Ties, which also featured a Vampire man and a human woman in modern day North America, dealing with human issues while fighting the wicked. In Blood Ties it was the woman, played by the amazingly undervalued Christina Cox, who was the private investigator.
Moonlight has its own appeal. It is emotionally full and exciting. Sophia Miles is lovely as the human Beth and the leading man, Alex O'Loughlin, does a cracking job of the whole "tortured soul but keeping it real" deal. I was drawn in by their relationship and I enjoyed the narration that punctuated the show, usually spoken by the Vampire's character; I am reminded of Ally McBeal, Grey's Anatomy and Defying Gravity in this regard.
There seemed to be loads of potential for where this show could go. I am surprised that it was cancelled. It was slick and amusing, serious and fun, sophisticated and natural.
In some shows you can tell that the writers have been told that the show will not be renewed and they do a hasty job of tying up loose ends that otherwise would have taken a few seasons to pan out and resolve, in an effort to give the fans some closure.
However, Season 1 of Moonlight ended with new unanswered questions about the relationship between Mick and Beth and the fate of the Vampire community. It was a cliffhanger of sorts. I am guessing that the decision to stake the show came as a surprise. I should have thought Joel Silver's name in the credits would be good enough for two seasons, and I bet I was not the only one to think along those lines, in this case incorrectly.
I have not read anywhere yet that the ratings for Moonlight were poor, but I guess that they must have been, otherwise, Why axe the show? It was hip and exciting and filled with good-looking actors. Meh! There is so much worthless junk on TV and yet it survives, year on year. Then there are the interesting and intelligent shows that make it through two seasons if they are lucky, and then get curtailed just as the story arc promises exciting pay-offs. Is the mainstream audience really that dumb or are the execs in charge just too pussy to stick it out for a long-term investment?
I find that some shows grab my interest in a special way and Moonlight did this for me. There is a build-up in sympathy for the characters and interest in the storyline. The characters of Mick and Beth are both hurting individuals, seeking a better life.
It must be a combination of the show's basic idea, the script and the heart the actors bring to the screen that makes this show so likable. I think Moonlight had real heart, and there is no pun intended!
Whatever the reason for the show's early demise, I will now surely miss it, and I shall miss our protagonists Mick and Beth and finding out more about them and what happens to their relationship.
a great show not allowed to flourish
What is it with TV execs? It seems they have just no patience to let a quality show develop and mature. I get the feeling that this show was about to do that when the news was leaked internally that it would be cancelled.
Dollhouse had the classic elements of a one-story-per-episode delivery while handling a deeper, and darker, story arc in the background. I was happy to let the mysterious stories about the backgrounds of the various players develop in their own good time while enjoying regular episodes, which in any case dealt with serious issues of identity and such like, quite apart from the whole "Dollhouse" deal.
It looks like someone in charge did not feel the same way as me and was not content with this. Was it a ratings issue? I guess it usually is.
In Season 2 the pace of story-telling accelerated, as if the writers knew that the end was near and they felt they had to squash multiple seasons of storyline into one season. The final episode was crazy - crunching in a bunch of ideas - albeit great ideas - into one episode when they deserved close to a season to explore.
I have read somewhere that Whedon had several years of story arc to play out for this show. I don't know how much writing influence Whedon had on the various stages of the show. I sense that he was brought in to wrap things up when he knew that his ambition was to be curtailed and he did his best to deliver the message he had planned.
This show asked good questions about identity, free will, technology and the soul. It included some fun and simple stories, but it always had time for the serious questions about who we are, what makes us authentic and so on - except at the very end, when the timetable was squashed so much into a small place and ideas were tossed out liberally and half dealt with, like freebies at a carnival.
In the end the show was just way too rushed. There was plenty of action, plus heart and emotion, all the way through, even in the last episode, but it was just too much content in too short a time. I will bet that Whedon would agree with me on this.
The metamorphosis of Boyd Langton's character was interesting and some might have called it predictable, yet still it needed more fleshing out, in my view, to make it believable and more than just a plot device. His belief in what he was doing and the insanity of his path needed more exposition, as did his relationship with his business partner and co-founder.
What happened to Dr. Claire Saunders / Whiskey? It would have been nice to have found out who she was in the end but she got dropped between Episode 12 and 13 (the finale) of Season 2, unless I missed something.
What was going on with supposed arch enemy Alpha at the end? Lots of plot developments were skirted around, swept aside or just plain ignored towards the end.
Does it sound like I am complaining? Indeed I am doing so, because I liked this show so much. It was one of those shows which had entertainment value *and* which provoked thought. It did what sci-fi can do so well - namely address real social and political issues.
Eliza Dushku impressed me with her portrayal of a lost soul who gradually brought it all together. I liked her treatment of the multiple personalities that came with the "engagements", and her portrayal of the slow escape from the Doll state into a new personhood.
Sadly, when Echo was finally reunited with Caroline, I felt like a scene was missing and the reunion was not dealt with. There was plenty of build up and then - huh?
I actually liked all of the key players. Olivia Williams who played the meltable ice queen, Adelle DeWitt, was wonderful, of course.
I have a penchant for picking up on shows that I know have already been cancelled and then being annoyed when I get to the end. Knowing that does not stop me from whinging now, and I make no excuse.
The show "Dollhouse" is engaging and worthwhile; it is not your average adventure show on TV. I find myself thinking of "Memento" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles".
a compelling sci-fi drama that was unjustly curtailed
Okay, so I am going to repeat here some of what I have posted already in the discussion forums, so apologies for the repetition.
This show continues to draw favourable and lucid comments, four or five years after its demise. That has to say something good, I think.
In my view it is a real shame that an intelligent show with such a potential story arc was not allowed to flourish, while the nonsense bubble-gum shows seem to go on forever.
J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) got hosed with Crusade too, didn't he? That was a show that took a while to warm up but it had built quite a clutch of characters and subplots by the end of Season 1 that you just knew a second season would have been worthwhile, from a story-telling and artistic point of view.
After the success of Babylon 5, you might think that the TV companies would learn to trust JMS just a little bit to deliver the long-reach payload of characters and story-telling that is needed for a several-season run.
The Intelligent Audiences are out there (I want to believe) and while they may not be the biggest audiences they are probably the least fickle. But no, the snotty-nosed execs who have inexplicably been given the helm clearly are keen only to leap-frog from one quick buck to another, giving up on the long-term dividend.
A TV show is just an TV show, I know, but I really felt for the story that was Jeremiah. I read about it at the IMDb web site and found out that he show had been axed prematurely. Yet, knowing this, I took the time to get hold of it, because the concept was so cool from a sci-fi point of view and the reviews were so interesting. So I watched it all (in late 2008 and 2009) - and then, even, knowing in advance all that I knew about the abrupt ending of the partnership between JMS and MGM, I still felt irritation as I reached the final episode of Season 2, because I knew it could have been so much more and because so many threads were left dangling.
The writers clearly did a champions' job of bringing the story to a sort-of close, but they left a whole lot of questions unresolved, presumably because of the possibility of a third season after the departure of JMS. The long passage of time, now, since the end of Season 2 hammers the last nail in the coffin of hope for such a reprise, and we are left with what one might call an unfinished masterpiece.
Jeremiah was one of the most compelling sci-fi dramas that I have ever seen. (And I did not even know much about Luke Perry beforehand!)
I'd like to add something. I don't want to take away anything of what I wrote above. I do appreciate, however, that my initial review comes across as a bit of a whinge.
What I would like to add is that I think that the series Jeremiah had heart - a whole lot of heart. It built structure, it built plot and it made story arcs and depth that could have been mined easily in a third series. But most of all, it had heart and depth. I really felt for these characters. I mourned (in as much as one does for fictional characters) for those that died and I felt pain with those that were left behind with their various losses.
I appreciate that the formula of the show required something new in each episode, but it would have been nice to have seen the reprise of a few of the earlier story lines and if various characters from earlier episodes had turned up again. I suspect that these production considerations might have been given oxygen had the series survived into a third season.
Despite my criticisms - and I have a few - this is a series I would recommend to any serious sci-fi fan. It has heart, you feel for the characters and you want the best to turn out for the good guys.
This show is not an easy ride. It is quite adult in places, which restricts its audience, but it is a great ride and deserves to be counted among the Classic, Kick-ass Sci-Fi shows. Is there such an accolade? There should be.