Category Archives: Television Reviews
The notion of documentaries continues to evolve. In making true life a cinematic experience without losing the weight of what is being examined by real people talking to real people, the complication of human behavior becomes more and more defined, especially when the full truth is not know. In the first two chapters of the limited docu series “Murder In The Bayou”, the deaths so far of 7 women are revealed in various structures. They are all connected, had connections to the wrong side of town, many had drug problems. Their murders, which have been the basis of a New York Times article, have been poured over but no set arrests have been made. What the docu-series does is not lay blame but through interviews with all the accused and the victims paints the idea of a town with a secret to keep but oddly enough why it is doing so.
The story inevitably leads to a local criminal/strip club owner Frankie who provided drugs to some of the girls in exchange for tricks. His interview footage is interesting because more is obviously happening below the surface but he is not reacting. In many interviews with known criminals, there is either remorse or egotism. Here there is neither. The approach of moving with each of the victims’ families is wrenching but also deeply raw. There is pain, anger but also reflection and selfishness in a certain way.
The reflection on the local law enforcement also provides an interesting perception. In many parishes in Louisiana, the law enforcement on the area is the end all/be all as the documentary states. The essence of what happens in small towns in Cajun country is an interesting sociological experiment. Everyone knows everyone and yet everyone seems to be point fingers either way. Like a Deep South version of Twin Peaks, many of victims confessed to family members (as related to interviewers) that they had an idea what was coming. When the media starts looking closer, the response becomes more stilted because of the microscope but the blend of class consciousness but also such a mystery in a small town makes the beginning chords of this docu-series both intense, deeply sad but also intriguing.
By Tim Wassberg
The intention of “Titans” as with many superhero mash-ups is the structure of family and trust. The themes of betrayal seem to weigh heavily from Season 1. But again the structure of the Titans themselves is based on the aspect of evolution in terms of how the characters see themselves and what they might become. Dick Grayson as the first Robin and the paradox of Nightwing understands this but he has trouble coming to terms with it. Raven, as she will be called, is based in the function that her destiny is pre-set by her father Trigon. Like Hellboy, the structure is the ideal of choice against a greater crushing possibility. The intended perspective of the Season 2 premiere, without giving too much away, is that motivation and misplaced guilt becomes a bigger proponent than the eventual endgame. The Avengers as a reference definitely works on this principle because those heroes, like these, are defined by the choices they make. The interesting diametric here is how to portray this while keeping the themes and mining the subconscious. Raven does this in a particular way with thoughts not unlike how Beast Boy can change his form. It is a matter of instinctually knowing how to connect with people without controlling their mind. Granted in a similar way to “Grimm” many of the characters here tend to make the same mistakes, either because of ego or the nagging embers of naivete. “Trigon” as a first episode in this second season understands the shortcomings of its key parts but also how it can grow. The idea becomes one of choice but also of transcendence and loyalty. “Titans” can grow as a series if its characters continue to understand and intercede that they are more powerful together while still addressing the darkness that makes them different.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of finding a way to be delivered from evil, or at least find the basis of connecting with the true nature of power, can move back and forth in a hero’s journey. The final 3 episodes of “Young Justice: Outsiders” takes this undeniably into account. Without spoiling too much of what the progression has in store, Episode 24: “Into The Breach” enters in an idea of the Meta War but is more a metaphor for Cyborg as a character becoming understanding of his duality. But the villain herself in this episode has the same paradoxical nature to her own design. Granted it is about these characters understanding that what makes them different allows them to exist outside the hero complex that affects those like Batman & Wonder Women.
In Episode 25: “Overwhelmed”, the idea is more of grief and loss than one of failure but also one of hope. The journey of Artemis to provide a texture of closure for those she has lost takes on a purgatory connotation that affects to a point with a sense of therapy. The sense of heartbreak is quite well explored with the metaphors of sunrise and sunset. This journey also seems to balance in a rumination of the progression to adulthood. Artemis may not be complete but it is who she is becoming. In this way in the same episode, the same can be said to be true of Forager who enthusiasm and belief in good also strikes at the problem of his naivete in a darker world.
In the final episode of the season, Episode 26: “Nevermore”, the idea of loyalty and respect versus birthright plays heavily in the storyline. The battles of conscience and of control are very powerful motivators. Forgiveness is also a big texture in the endgame of the season but also of consequence. The idea of power and how it is wielded as well as the choices made are asked of most of every character, between what one can do and the paths chosen. The ending cota speaks to balance but also contentment while new power takes hold, its path of righteousness neither or either altruistic or misguided as is the spin of every wheel.
The final three episodes of the 3rd season of “Young Justice: Outsiders” hit different ideals of superhero culture without feeling the need to have every sentence and action connected. While the details are there to be seen, the journey of the young heroes continues.
By Tim Wassberg