Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Excuses, the Bones season finale, and writers strike bitching.

Sorry I've been so lax in updating. The Write-On competition (which is how you get on to journals at GULC) is kicking my ass. My grades were respectable by any non-law-school standard, but not that great law-school-wise, so I'm going to have to rock this to make it onto a journal.

(I probably won't rock this. Seriously. Even the case we're supposed to be commenting on completely sucks. But I am trying.)

Anyway... I did catch the season finale for Bones last night. And as much as I appreciated the bathtub scene with David Boreanaz (Seriously. Thank you for that scene.) I am confused on a couple of points.

If everything happened the way it looked like it happened with the explosion:

What was the point?

Who stole the skeleton?

Why did Goremegon's assistant think it was rational to sacrifice himself for something so, well, silly? (That might be question one again, but seriously...)

What's the deal with his motivation for working with Gormegon anyway? I mean, an earlier episode revealed that this person had a support system that I envied. Why did he do this?

I assume they are going for brainwashing here, but I just did a paper on brainwashing (indeed, my entire practice case comment for my legal writing class was on the admissibility of evidence of brainwashing and the jurisprudential upshot of accepting brainwashing as a defense, explanation or mitigating factor) and brainwashing doesn't really work the way Bones made it look at all, and this is a show that is normally pretty decent on the science.

The acting in the episode was awesome. But the writing was some of the worst I've ever seen in TV, though I've gotten used to that this season. The writer's strike has not made me appreciate the writers at all as I wasn't terribly sympathetic to large portions of their cause in the first place* and it has produced so much bad writing.


* The Networks' argument "You did get paid once to write the five minute episode we're putting on the web for free to promote the show. We're not getting paid when we show it, so we're not going to pay royalties for every view. That said, these things make the show more popular, which helps keep you in a job and insures that the show will end up syndicated, so everybody wins." made sense to me.

But then every bit of writing I've ever done professionally I did on a "We paid you to write it once, now we own it and will use it as we like" basis, so the "We're not being fairly compensated unless we get paid every time you use our work" argument seems really odd. Or maybe I'm just jealous.


Obijuan said...

I thought it was a case of "Uh-oh, we started a really complicated story arc and then the strike threw a wrench in the works let's wrap it up quickly" kinda thing. I also thought that if they'd tied Zach's "conversion" to his Iraq shell shock from the beginning of the season somehow that might have helped with an explanation, but they didn't go there.

Also the "Booth is/isn't dead" thing was pretty lame and unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen Bones, but I think my mom was watching it for a while. The writers' strike threw me for a loop - I'm too lazy to keep track of what comes on when, and catch pretty much every show at random (except House Hunters and ANTM).

I'm still wondering what on earth happened to Heroes? It went off during the writer's strike and then never came back at all. It's too confusing to keep up with. You'd think the networks would want to keep people in the loop, but ... who knows. I'm not going to buy TV Guide just so I can keep up with their changes.

p.s. I was sympathetic to the writers' strike; they are anticipating major changes in tv for the future, and preparing for that.

PG said...

I agree with h. sofia on the writers' strike -- we are moving toward having all media come through the internet. If they didn't have in their contract to get paid for that, they would get screwed. Moreover, I am betting that the writing you've done for which you were paid had limited resale and licensing value, whereas a successful TV show or movie can make lots of money beyond just the charge to see the initial product. Or to think of it another way, why do we think authors of books generally should get paid in royalties, but authors of scripts shouldn't? Because the latter get acted out and the former don't?

Chalicechick said...

H- I get that changes are coming, but it seems to me that it would be a much better idea to wait until the networks are actually making money on the webisodes before asking to be paid extra for them.

But I'm rarely sympathetic to strikes and the fact that the writing of pretty much every show I like has been so shitty since they came back doesn't help me feel more sympathetic.

Obi-I knew something was up with Dead Booth when his ex-wife and kid weren't at the funeral.
The one thing I like about that whole scenario is that it lets me pretend all summer that the rest of the episode was a dream Booth had while he was in a coma.

Also, as a humanist, I am major offended by the "smart rational people can be talked into damn near anything that is made to sound smart and rational" trope, which always feels like a direct shot across my bow.

(Also, if Gormogon is such a genuius, why does he keep the spare key to his secrety hideout in such an obvious place. WtF?)

I love CSI, and while I was sad to see Sarah Sidle go, the approach the writers took made total sense. She had a traumatic experience at the end of last season, and the resulting issues she had from it built up slowly over a period of months until "Gil, I love you, but I can't take the death around here anymore. I have to go figure out a bunch of stuff. I'm sorry. Goodbye." Sucked for a Sarah Sidle fan, but it made sense.

If that was what they were going for with the trip to Iraq, they needed to have this reveal next Christmas or something.

As it was, it just seemed to make no sense.

Also, I'm aware that my own issues play in here, but when I think of him looking at his family through the glass in that Christmas episode, it makes me want to go "Why, Zack? Why?"

who needs to write a little less TV and a little more law.

Chalicechick said...

(((Or to think of it another way, why do we think authors of books generally should get paid in royalties, but authors of scripts shouldn't? Because the latter get acted out and the former don't?)))

My thinking is because a playwright or author is independent and a TV writer is typically an employee with health insurance and vacation time and an office and such. If they get royalties, too, that's great, but it doesn't seem as intuitive that they would get them for promotional stuff that isn't profitable for the network yet, either.

My writing certainly didn't get nearly as much re-use as the TV Writers' work. But my paper did sometimes sell/trade my work to other papers and I certainly never saw a dime from that. Which is fine, I never expected to.


Anonymous said...

re the writer's strike: I like the idea that the writers were organized and therefore had some ability to negotiate with the studios. There is no right or wrong way for them to be paid: it's something they and the studios needed to come to some agreement on, which they did. So I feel satisfied with that.

re CSI: I can't speak to poor writing on tv shows because the only non reality tv show I watch with any regularity is CSI (and the lesser CSI: NY), and that's good as ever (even tho I'm tired of Warrick being so f*d up all the time). I liked Sara Sidle's character, but was a little bit peeved with her saying goodbye to Gil. I mean, I understand leaving careers, but to just pack up and move away? Maybe it's because I have a little crush on Gil, or maybe because I'm in love myself, but I just can't imagine giving up "true love" (or maybe it wasn't?). And I kept thinking - Sara, it's okay to be conflicted, but why do you think you have to be alone and withdrawn and apart from the person who loves you in order to work on your heart ache?

I didn't like that she made that decision, but it was in keeping with the personality and history of the character. And also, of course, when an actor leaves a tv show, the writers can never just have her take a job across town; there has to be a big, life changing moment that often involves exiting the universe of that show forever.

Chalicechick said...

I'm glad the writers are happy, but it still seemed like a pretty nasty thing to do to all the other folks in Hollywood who worked for the TV shows and got laid off while the writers were waiting on the extra money.

And the shear crappiness of the writing bugs me. If there were a pilots strike that meant nobody got to fly for five months, then in the first few months the pilots were back there were a bunch of plane crashes, I think I would feel similarly cheesed off.

And I agree with you about CSI. I was sad that Sarah did what she did, but it made sense given who she was. The Bones storyline was pretty much totally out of the blue.

(Like, imagine if in the season finale last year, you found out that Greg Sanders had been working for the miniature killer for several months, and his stated motivation for doing so made no sense and that he'd severely injured himself in an explosion that was a distraction so the miniature killer could sneak in and steal a life-size silver skeleton. It was exactly that fucked up.)


Anonymous said...

re horrific ending to CSI's last season: ROFL. Yes, that would seriously, seriously piss me off and make me wonder what had happened to the writers of CSI!

Boy, this reminds me of how much I hate when a good show goes way south.

PG said...

It's not just "webisodes," it's that ALL online content made no money for the writers. iTunes downloads are $2 a pop, and none of that went to writers because the last time they went through a mass negotiation, there were no iTunes. And if the networks weren't making any money on online content, why not say "Sure, have 5% of $0"? People don't fight to keep nothing; they fight to keep what they know is now or will be something.

Another person I know who is unsympathetic to the strike said that the networks should have just gone to the fanfic writers and had them take over the writing because he thought theirs would be just as good in many cases. When I wondered why the networks didn't do that, he spun out a long theory about how the networks can't seem to devalue creative work, because doing so would cut against their own justifications for suing people for using file-sharing programs.

I haven't read a lot of fan-fic, but I confess some skepticism at the thought that it is just as good as what the writers -- particularly those that originated the idea for a show -- would produce. However, I don't watch many TV shows, and of those I do watch regularly (Everybody Hates Chris, Daily Show, Colbert) I haven't seen a big drop-off in quality. My fiance complains about shows, but that includes Dr. Who, which is written in the UK and thus unaffected by the writers' strike. Seems like a general malaise rather than a specific strike-related issue.

Mark Kille said...

"I get that changes are coming, but it seems to me that it would be a much better idea to wait until the networks are actually making money on the webisodes before asking to be paid extra for them."

My understanding is that a major motivation for the writers is that the studios used this argument on them for DVDs. The writers said "that sounds reasonable," and then got completely screwed. So this time around they want to be acting instead of reacting.