Tag Archives: Dramatic Presentation: Short

Hugos 2017, part 1

Best Novelette

Best Short Story

Best Related Work

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Evils Under Dr. Who’s Bed & Wrapping Up the Dramatic Presentation: Short Form Category

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Short Form
Slates: None

The Dr. Who episode “Listen” is a third finalist that I rather like in this category. Well, there’s always a Dr. Who episode that people rather like in this category, if you check the history.

Doctor and Clara time travel between Clara’s messed up date, the end of the universe (where a future descendant of the guy she is dating has stranded) and various locations where there is something frightening hiding under the bed.

It’s a lovely mixture of a TV show for all ages and horror elements that are enough to frighten a fair deal of adults that I know (and to whom I’d like to show this episode to see if it works). Peter Capaldi’s grumpy Scottish Doctor is more to my liking than Matt Smith’s, David Tennant’s and Christopher Eccleston’s takes on the character. Especially Smith and Tennant who have doctored the show for the last ten years were so nice guys that it’s easy to get something interesting and different going on when you focus on the edge that the current Doctor brings to the show.

As a series of one-shots, it’s quite impossible to honestly compare Dr. Who with Orphan Black and Game of Thrones that are a huge, sprawling tales lasting season after season. I liked them all more or less equally, but now that I have to make a decision about the final vote, let’s say Dr. Who takes the second place after Orphan Black.

Score: 8/10

There, that’s a wrap-up of the category:

  1. Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” 8/10
  2. Dr. Who: “Listen” 8/10
  3. Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper” 8/10
  4. Grimm: “Once We Were Gods” 6/10
  5. The Flash: “Pilot” 5/10

Once More With Feeling and Gore — Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Short Form
Slates: Rabid Puppies

I watched the Hugo-nominated Game of Thrones episode last year, so my memories of it are a little sketchy.

Game of Thrones is one of those things that makes you incredibly immersed in the storyworld when you are watching it, but afterwards it’s hard to say was it really that important or relevant.* It’s hard to even remember what is it that exactly happened in the series.

Off the top of my head, I can only remember one single event of the last season: the duel between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane which takes place in this episode. It’s a cataclysmic event in the story and I remember how out-of-breath I was afterwards. For me, it worked maybe even better that the Red Wedding of the third season, perhaps because the duel was coming for a long time and the people doing the show know how to build up suspense.

On the other hand, killing off characters is quickly devalued as as means of generating drama in Game of Thrones, because there’s so damn much of it. I just finished the fifth season and watched a mind-numbing atrocity after a mind-numbing atrocity, but none of what happened there really rose to the same level of significance than this and last year’s Hugo-finalist episodes. There’s nothing there that I believe I’m voting for next year, even though I’m sure something will be nominated.

But this one last time I will let myself be excited enough to like Game of Thrones, because it’s a good and ambitious show that is making history, regardless of its shortcomings, and it’s based on a book series that was and is a game changer in heroic fantasy literature. With most fantasy series, I’ve always had the feeling that a healthy dose of gritty realism would make the world more credible, but maybe Song of Ice and Fire and the Game of Thrones TV show are there to prove that there’s such a thing as an overdose.

Score: 8/10

* I think I’m paraphrasing somebody in this sentence. Not sure who.

Tired Superhero Shtick — The Flash

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Short Form
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

Judging by the pilot episode, there’s pretty much nothing noteworthy about The Flash. The TV adaptation of the DC superhero is uninspiring and manages to cram so many tired clichés in the 45 minutes that it’s a feat in and of itself. There were no characters or plot points that I’m interested in enough to watch the second episode.

For some reason, it’s supposedly a well-received and popular series but I really can’t see the charm. For me, it’s the weakest finalist in this category.

Score: 5/10.

A TV Show I Would Love to Love — Orphan Black

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Short Form
Slates: None

It’s hard to make up my mind about Orphan Black. I think there are two very good reasons for loving the show and — sadly — one that reduces my enthusiasm quite a bit. Here they are:

Why it’s good #1: Technically, it’s a work of art. The concept is great and having the same actor play so many different characters (who are clones) makes terribly clever use of the possibilities of the medium. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tatiana Maslany is tremendously good with all the roles.

Why it’s good #2: Space is given for different levels of moral ambiguity — especially with female characters. Some people central to the story played by Maslany include, for example, a substance abusing and murderous housewife, a brainwashed lunatic assassin and a lowlife hustler teen mother, who are all presented more or less positively. Something like that is so rare in TV entertainment (even though it shouldn’t be) that it’s almost enough to make any series great.

Why it’s not so good: While watching Orphan Black, I’m annoyed by the same thing that made it hard to really like Heroes. Each episode is meant to reveal something new and complicate things further, but after a certain point it all just becomes a complicated mess. Fanatic murderers turn sympathetic characters in the next episode, and sympathetic characters are revealed to be sinister some way or the other, the monitors of the clones seem to be swithing allegiance every week, and so on. Tables keep on turning (and reversing the last turn) and that gets tiring after some time. Orphan Black lacks some consistency and I’m not sure if the scriptwriters (different in every episode) are really taking the show in the same direction.

Furthermore, when you begin to think about certain plot twists, they start to make less and less sense. For example, in this Hugo-nominated episode (“By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”) there’s an elaborate plot to get the captured Sarah Manning a gun (with which she then kills Rachel Duncan) and a drawing by her kid (that explains how she is supposed to use the DIY device). However, all that seems completely unnecessary, because the protagonists had already struck a deal with the female Dyad executive a ladder up who seems to have access to everywhere and who probably would have been able to save them in the first place. Or at the very least that is how I interpreted what was going on. Rather than revealing what different characters have the power to do in the world of the show and sticking to that, the people putting Orphan Black together rely on keeping the audience somewhat in the dark, so it’s hard to say for certain how things really are.

So, making sure the story logic holds water would improve this TV series that is, in my opinion, already very good.

Score: 8/10

Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”

Category: Best Dramatic Presentation, short form
Slates: Sad Puppies & Rabid Puppies

I had never watched an episode of Grimm prior to this year’s Hugos, so it’s a new show for me. I checked out a few of the very first episodes and then skipped to the third season, watching some of the episodes leading up to the 15th one that is up for a Hugo. Grimm seems to be the male version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with fairy tale backstory and some police procedural thrown into the mix. It’s a decent show, with crimes perpetrated by different monster species, all with German names, and a council of unionized monsters to complicate matters here and there.

Grimm-nbc-tv-show

Grimm is an easy and lightweight series when compared with the likes of Game of Thrones, Orphan Black or other shows in which all episodes are twisting the narrative into new directions and offering fresh complications. Not terribly much it at stake for the protagonists (assuming they don’t get killed fighting monsters, but of course they won’t), and even though some narrative threads go through the whole season, all episodes start and end in basically the same situation: the crime is solved and the crew goes home happily. You can safely miss five episodes and stay onboard with no trouble.

In the nominated episode, an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus is discovered with a Wesen (that’s an umbrella for all the monsters) mummy that the other Wesen want to capture and lay to rest in peace. They happen to kill a university guard in the process, and that’s why the good Grimm police guy becomes involved. Everything plays out smoothly and easily, as it always does.

One thing I was wondering was why this episode, specifically, was picked on both Puppy slates — and why the individual fans who take absolutely no orders from slatemakers, as we have repeatedly been told, chose to, individually of course, nominate this single episode. Do they like Egyptian mythology, perhaps? For me, “Once We Were Gods” wasn’t the most memorable of the episodes I watched. According to the IMDB ratings, too, it is actually somewhere in the middle in terms of popularity. Ten of the season 3 episodes have better ratings, the highest-rated ones being episodes 13, 18 and 22.

However, TV show episodes are parts of a season, and evaluating them separately makes little sense to me. I think that Hugos would probably work better if whole seasons were nominated in this category instead. That seems to be the way that the graphic story category works: nobody thinks that nominating single issues of comics is a good idea (even though I believe it’s possible under the current rules).

Score: 6/10.