Apr. 20th, 2010

glvalentine: (omg no)
So, as promised, I reviewed Riverworld for Tor.com.

It was...plentiful? I don't even know what to say about it. They somehow managed to undercut most of their good points by accident (though every once in a while my jaw would hit the floor when something egregious stereotyped through the frame).

They did try very hard with the casting, which is generally passable and occasionally enjoyable. Sam Clemens and Allegra the courtesan did very well for themselves, and of course, Peter Wingfield never met an outdoor set he couldn't halfheartedly stage-fight his way across. (I also suspect he had a contract rider that stipulated he be making out for at least 40% of his screen time.)

I'd be surprised if it makes it to a long-term series, only because renting a riverboat like that must be expensive, and because they burned all four hours of it on a Sunday night in April, which doesn't speak much to their confidence about holding an audience from week to week.

But here's the thing: I tease SyFy (and rightly), but I do think that with all this "reimagine-classic miniseries" stuff they're getting closer and closer to something good that they can sustain. I mean, sure, Tin Man was a disaster. And Alice had a decent first half and then kind of imploded, but the cast was actually surprisingly good, and I enjoyed it quite a bit whenever I could forget the WORST PLOT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Frankly, if SyFy could have come up with a better premise, I would have tuned in to that show every week, no problems. A nice pulpy hour every week full of actors I like? SOLD.

This one had a multicultural cast (thumbs up) who are mostly sci-fi TV veterans (thumbs up!) in a script with an ensemble feel (thumbs up), in a setting where they can be held hostage by Vikings at any moment (thumb sideways), and a standard Chosen One quest plot (thumbs down) where the hero is looking for his impossible, dull, virginal girlfriend (thumbs down), and where blue aliens manipulate you with cryptic messages and sometimes tie you to a table and taunt you for no reason and then let you escape from your prison and then transport you a hundred miles away from the prison anyway, making your escape moot and leaving you staring at your costar in the middle of the Vancouver woods. (Uh, thumbs down.)

They managed to strike gold for a whole season after the BSG miniseries. (And then three more, which were like brass.) Someday soon, they'll get it right again.

Just...not with this one.

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Genevieve Valentine

September 2010

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