After a lovely weekend filled with sheep and antiques, we rounded out Sunday by watching "10.5" - and it's been a while since I watched a network miniseries, so I'd forgotten how truly awful and predictable the dialogue and plotlines could be.
And may I say just one thing? Could all you networks and movie producers get over the whole "NUKES! AHHHHH!!!!" plotlines? Yes, radiation isn't a fun thing, but it's simply not as scary as you think. People introduce the "we can only fix this thing by throwing nuclear warheads (notice how they always say warheads) at it" solution into every disaster movie - and it's nice that we've finally found a use for all the obsolete weapons building up in our arsenals (as opposed to Rumsfeld's plan to "update" them), but it's not played as a "hey, something fast and effective we can do to solve the problem" idea, but a terrible condemnation of the very idea that we have such awfoo, turrible things lying around.
People in these movies talk about the explosions as if the entire world will be poisoned. The fallout will kill trillions! All life as we know it will be extingushed, or at least slightly inconvenienced! People on other planets will die because of our casual use of these terrible weapons! Oh, America, when will you ever learn that nukes are not the answer to every problem?
Except that, as far as I've been able to ascertain, nukes have only been used to solve one problem, and that unnerved everyone so much they've never seriously considered using them again.
Oh, as a bargaining tool, sure. But to actually explode them? Hmmm - not so keen on that.
And that's just fine by me; I tend to think they're rather like swatting a fly with a Buick - awkward, unpredictable, and you never quite know if you're going to lose control of the Buick and have it fall on you.
But to watch current (and not so current) movies, you'd think we were giving the things out to local governments like candy - "This week only! Three obsolete MIRVs with every farm subsidy!" - and that we think "nukes!" every time some problem needs to be solved. Meteor hurtling towards Earth? Nuke it! Aliens attacking us with weaponry so advanced we don't have a chance? Nuke 'em! Center of the Earth stopped spinning (yeah, I loved THAT one)? Nuke it! WTO protesters causing traffic jams in downtown Seattle? Nukes! Steven Segal making yet another piss-poor revenge/martial arts movie? Nuke him!
Okay, well maybe that last one makes some sort of sense. I'd apply it to all new movies made by Woody Allen, too.
But hey, if the West Coast is going to collapse because of a huge fault (assuming everyone's not willing to just go with a slightly smaller contiguous forty states), and nukes will solve the problem, I can't see anyone in a multi-million dollar Malibu beach house really objecting that strenuously, can you? "Okay, it's radioactive, but it's going to be underground, so there's no fallout? Oh, there is a little fallout - is it going to fall on me, or somewhere like Mexico? Mexico? Okay... And it's going to be set off in an unpopulated area? Just in the desert, hmmm? And someone is going to die with it, because someone always has to make the ultimate sacrifice? Will it be Dick Cheney? No? Oh well. Okay - fire it up!"
Nevada's new tourism slogan can be "You can see the ground glow! You know, a little brighter than before!"
Oh, what do you care - you're going to be in the casino anyway.
10.5 gets a 2.0(10.5 part 2)
Aah, the hell with it.
"10.5: the second night that only half the number of people that watched the first night tuned into" was even worse the second night, if possible.
Of course it was possible. It's always possible. I was rooting for the father/daughter pair lost in the woods to walk in on the blast site just as the bomb (excuse me, "warhead") was going off, but no, they got picked up and taken to the refugee camp.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one that found the whole thing hilarious; on the radio this morning, they were talking about watching it with some geologist friends who were legless with laughter for most of the movie. It's good to know I'm not alone.
But then, it was a movie all about kinship, and getting along, even if the situation is dire. The people in the camps were managing so well because they were cooperating, geddit?
At least the camp wasn't overrun with the living dead (there were moments when the refugee camp looked exactly like the camp in "Dawn of the Dead"), though I think they got an earthquake. Frankly, I'm not sure; we switched over to "CSI: Miami" at 10pm.
Hey, I know how it ends; I don't have to watch the whole thing. People are safe and happy and reunited at the end, except for the ones that are DEAD, and there's a memorial service, and lessons about family and helping each other are learned.
Cue the happy music. And the endless credits.
But see, this is exactly how people don't act. Lines for registration at the refugee camps? People would be cutting in line, spitting on each other, and someone would be shot before two hours went by. Special phone banks would be set up for people to call their lawyers to prepare to sue the government for allowing cities to be built on unstable ground. People with stores of bottled water would be selling it for $1 an ounce. All the states surrounding the disaster area would be barricading the borders to control the influx of refugees, while at the same time applying to the Federal Government for huge sums of money to deal with the refugees they're not allowing into the state.
...Except for Nebraska; everyone in Nebraska would be pulling together a huge potluck for all the anticipated refugees. "Finally!" They'd be saying to each other, "Some company!" Unfortunately, no-one in California wants to go to Nebraska. The rich people have all flown to Aspen and Miami, and the poor people are all in the refugee camps because squatting in the dirt and paying $20 for a bottle of water is preferable to hotdish.
I kid; don't kill me. While I have never been to Nebraska, I'm sure it's a lovely place where the ground doesn't shake at all.
Other things, other things... oh, yes - when they showed the roads full of people driving to get away from the area (and I'd want to get away from earthquakes that produce chasms that can turn corners, too), the cars were all orderly and polite, and everyone was behaving themselves.
Are you kidding me? They don't drive this way in California when there isn't a disaster! People would be driving on the shoulder, between other cars, using their Humvees to drive over the other cars, and they'd sure as hell be using the Westbound lanes, too. They were obviously too cheap to try to make a real traffic jam; though why they didn't just film LA rush-hour traffic is beyond me.
Back to the "warheads": Bob points out that you can't really call them "peaceheads", even if you're not using them in a war. But I think it's just another peacenik way of rubbing our noses in the fact that there's nothing to do with nuclear weapons except use them in a war - though I bet one would make a nifty toaster. Seriously, I have no problem with simply calling them "bombs", or, if you think the viewing public is so dim they can't remember that everyone's making a fuss over possible radiation, "nukes" (you know, because ordinary bombs aren't nearly as scary as nukes). I'm sure (remember, I didn't watch 'til the end) that there was a poignant reconciliation scene between the head of FEMA and his estranged doctor son (at one point I said "Fuck! Everyone's related in this damn film!") a la "Armageddon" (but less moving, because the guy who played the doctor isn't half as cute as Liv Tyler), and I assume that the FEMA guy died, because that was the only way to expiate the sin of not evacuating San Francisco in the twenty minutes between being told that there was going to be a quake and one actually happening.
People did choose the most inappropriate moments to initiate serious relationship discussions in this movie, I swear.
So: Cheap, cheap, cheap, and bad, bad, bad. How can you spend so much money on something and yet have it look like you spent $1.98 (or two ounces of bottled water in the new streamlined and efficient smaller state of California)? The split screen scenes made me feel like I was watching an old episode of "Charlie's Angels". The scriptwriting was so bad I was surprised the guy who plays Charlie on "West Wing" didn't just throw himself into a chasm halfway through to avoid the embarrassment of being associated with this drivel. And the Governor's aide bellowing like a stuck cow during her death scene? I wanted to kill her myself.
Actually, I have to admit, I got a lot of entertainment out of this miniseries. Well worth the three hours of my life I would have been in danger of never getting back except that I spent them doing crosswords and making dinner.
I still think some zombies would have livened it up, though.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.