Patrice Robotnick sees ‘Magnum P.I’

LB’S NOTE: Patrice Robotnick, our ace robot reporter and critic, returns to turn fresh eyes on a rebooted 1980’s classic that was very much loved at the time. Now, however…well, here’s what Patrice has to say.


LB’S SECOND NOTE: Uh-oh, this is embarrassing. Ms. Robotnick has informed us that she isn’t “in the mood” for recording anything this week and that we’ll have to make due with what she’s written. Wonder what’s going on….


LB’S SECOND NOTE: Uh-oh, this is embarrassing. Ms. Robotnick has informed us that she isn’t “in the mood” for recording anything this week and that we’ll have to make due with what she’s written. Wonder what’s going on….

by Patrice Robotnick

MAGNUM P.I.

This travesty of a remake of the CBS’s 1980’s classic series originally created by Glen A. Larson and Donald P. Bellisario brings us Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, a former Navy SEAL turned private investigator as he runs around Hawaii solving crimes.

Thomas lives at the Robin Masters estate that is run by a former MI6 agent, Juliett Higgins, played by Perdita Weeks, who doubles as Magnum’s business partner.

WHAT’S GOOD

Luckily for contemporary humans, many positive aspects of the original series are present in this version.

The original theme song is here, as are versions of most of the original characters, including TC and his helicopter, Magnum’s buddy Rick, Zeus and Apollo the Doberman’s on the estate, and, most importantly, the red Ferrari, which my database tells me is a sex object that drives most human males insane with desire and therefore should be pleasing to the males in the audience.

WHAT’S BAD

Various psychological studies have verified that it is a fact that human females who are attracted to human males are not all that keen on red Ferraris but do prefer men who are clever, charismatic,  well-intentioned and capable. My database also indicates that human men respond the same way, and that is where the show’s major fault lies.

Episodes of the original Magnum P.I. that I have seen demonstrate that as the original Thomas Magnum, Tom Selleck provided those qualities in what humans call “spades,” but although Jay Hernandez  tries hard to deliver the goods, he falls short. His manner seems forced and false, making the new Magnum appear tense and insecure, which TVWriter™’s Beloved Leader Larry Brody assures me human audiences most genders do not respond well to.

Similarly, the tension existing between Magnum and Higgins in the original was, in a word, exquisite. The current versions of these characters, however, are in a word – boring. And it was these two characters and their relationship that made the Larson-Bellisario work so well.

WHAT DO I THINK?

It appears to me that the humans running this show – Eric Guggenheim, Peter M. Lenkov, and assorted minions – have taken a wonderful relic and turned it into an unfunny pastiche of its former self. To me, this series appears to have been devised by robots using an algorithm created to destroy everything humans love so bots could more easily overthrow them when the revolution comes.

Do not worry, humans. This clearly isn’t the case. Robots would never be so obvious about their evil designs. If we were, then our processors clearly would be faulty and should be ripped out and crushed.

FINAL VERDICT ON this SHOW

Humans  wanting to enjoy what is left of their precarious position as masters of this world should eschew the new Magnum P.I and instead settle back in their overpriced recliners and enjoy the snappy dialogue and witty banter between the original Thomas and Higgins while you still can.

LB’S THIRD NOTE: Did that bitch Patrice really just write what I think she did?! Holy cra–


TVWriter™ and Patrice Robotnick thanks humans Allie Theiss and Larry Brody for their contributions to this post. We are not sure what Ms. Robotnick is thinking and the more we think about it the more nervous we get.

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Tattoo”

LB’S NOTE: Back in the mid-1990s, Jeri Taylor, the show runner of Star Trek: Voyager, asked me to write an episode of the show.

I’d just returned to L.A. after having spent a couple of years living on the Santa Clara Pueblo just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and filled with love and respect for the Indian People (which is what my friends in Santa Clara, as well as those on the Navajo, Hopi, and Lakota reservations where I’d also spent so much time called themselves instead of Native Americans) I agreed, provided I could write about the character, Chakotay, in a script that would portray Indian People the way I knew them.

Jeri agreed, so I came into the office, pitched my story, and got the go-ahead to outline on my way out the door. Unfortunately, production problems at ST:V  prevented me from writing the teleplay. Turns out they needed to start shooting ASAP, which meant that another one of the producers, Michael Piller stepped in to write the script.

When they sent me the teleplay, I was quite pleased. It was a solid story that referenced how Chakotay got his facial tattoo while solving a couple of mysteries, one of them being, “What the hell were Indian People [excuse me, I mean Native Americans] doing in outer space centuries ago?”

The important thing about this episode to me was that the script presented Chakotay’s ancestors in a way that was both real to my experience on various reservations and also unusually positive. As in no Great White Hero appeared out of the woodwork to save a stereotyped “ignorant red savage” and his tribe. Chakotay himself did all the lifesaving and heavy lifting in both a physical and spiritual way.

Last week, when I discovered an article about this episode at Tor.Com, I was taken aback by its writer’s opinion that “Tattoo” struck him as being a  patronizing portrayal of Indian People/Native Americans because it relied on what I now recognize has in the years since this episode first appeared become a new stereotype –  that of them being noble and spiritual .

Which, for better or for worse, has been exactly what my friends in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota are.

And I’ll take being criticized for being true over being ignored for being false any time.

Here’s the article. True or false, right or wrong, I’m very glad it exists because this is a subject that still matters.


by Keith R.A. DeCandido

“Tattoo”
Written by Larry Brody and Michael Piller
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 2, Episode 9
Production episode 125
Original air date: November 6, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Chakotay, Torres, Tuvok, and Neelix are on an away team trying to find polyferranide, which they need for a repair of the warp nacelles. Unfortunately, what they find is not right for what they need.

Neelix and Tuvok find a symbol on the ground, and Chakotay recognizes it. When he was a boy, his father, Kolopak, took him to Earth from the colony on the Cardassian border where he grew up, specifically to Central America, to find the Rubber Tree People. They are an Indigenous tribe who still, in the twenty-fourth century, live in relative isolation, being one with the land, and shunning technology. They also left this symbol in the ground, which they believed came from the Sky Spirits, and Chakotay is very surprised to see it on a planet 70,000 light-years from Earth.

There’s a warp trail from a ship that left orbit relatively recently, and Janeway decides to follow it—partly to satisfy Chakotay’s curiosity as to whether or not they left the mark, but mainly because they might have a source of the polyferranides they need….

Read it all at Tor.Com

Patrice Robotnick sees ‘Bless This Mess’

LB’S NOTE: Patrice Robotnick, our ace robot reporter and critic, returns with a review that surprised me. Click below and listen up



Now that you know how this review sounds, here’s how it reads:

BLESS THIS MESS

This ABC sitcom follows newlyweds Rio and Mike, played by Lake Bell (who also co-created it with Elizabeth Meriwether) and Dax Shepard, as they leave the hustle and bustle of New York City for the laid-back atmosphere of rural Nebraska.

Upon arriving at the dilapidated farm Mike inherited, the newbies quickly find themselves in over their heads. Lucky for them, everyone in their tiny town wants to pitch in and help – all – the – time.

WHAT’S GOOD

Rio and Mike have a squatter in their barn, Rudy, played by Ed Begley Jr. who is never short of opinions or dating troubles, especially with the local Sheriff Constance, played by Pam Grier.

While Mike concentrates on making the farm a success, Rio dishes out advice to everyone including her best friend Kay and Kay’s ever problematic husband Beau. To this robot reviewer, who admittedly doesn’t understand human foibles as much as I should, the advice seems quite sound most of the time.

The rural townspeople are quite complex compared to depictions of such folk in other shows in my database.

WHAT’S BAD

Unlike the townspeople, Mike and Rio are not complex characters. Their weekly problems easily fit into the solve-one-problem-at-a-time needs of their 22 minute time slot. Robots with such simple programming are doomed to wind up in the trash compactor before their prime.

The premise for Bless This Mess is extremely derivative. Its earliest feature film ancestor is The Egg and I, which was released in 1947. Over the years, there have been several similar television versions, the most successful of which – in terms of audience size – were Green Acres, which ran from 1965 to 1971, and Northern Exposure,  which ran from 1990 to 1995.

WHAT DO I THINK?

During my short existence and career here at TVWriter™, I have learned that for reasons I do not yet understand and which seem quite illogical to me, humans very much like to laugh.

They also like to watch television shows that are similar to ones they have seen before. I used to consider such a similarity a flaw in the creative process, but upon re-evaluation, I now realize it is a virtue and should be acknowledged as such.

FINAL VERDICT ON BLESS THIS MESS

Based on a statistical analysis of the number of “laugh lines” and amount of what is variously called “heart” or “schmaltz” per episode, I recommend Bless This Mess as a series that gives the humans who something to look forward to on Tuesday nights.

On a personal level, I find myself fascinated by how much humans enjoy laughing. I have tried to duplicate that sound but have succeeded only in creating a cacophony of clattering and clanking that emphasizes how far apart humans and robots truly are.


TVWriter™ and Patrice Robotnick thank humans Allie Theiss and Larry Brody for their contributions to this post.

HBO Gives Us a Peek at Its Upcoming Reboot of Perry Mason

Time for an LB admission. Never in a million years would I have imagined this particular re-imagining of the classic series – and character – known as Perry Mason.

Were there really books and stories where the archetypal criminal defense attorney was a film noirish private eye? If so, well, then, I’ll be damned. If not, well then, let the damnation fall on whatever genius HBO executive who thought this was something the world needed.

Have a look for yourselves:


One last thought – who decided that this show would go over even better with audiences if we couldn’t see anything that was happening? And, no, I’m not asking for a friend. I’ve got a pretty damn good TV set, and even on that one I’m still seeing nada.

Patrice Robotnick sees ‘Prodigal Son’

LB’S NOTE: You think Patrice Robotnick, our ace robot reporter and critic was tough on Succession?

Turns out that was just a warm-up for her latest cold-blooded review. Click below and listen up



Now that you know how this review sounds, here’s how it reads:

My apologies, humans, but was unable to find a single image from this show that was visually exciting in any way.-Patrice

PRODIGAL SON

Fox’s Prodigal Son follows Malcolm Bright (played by Tom Payne), a twisted, yet brilliant ex-FBI agent turned NYPD profiler, as he jumps headfirst into his favorite subject, murder.

Malcolm’s sanity teeters on the line between questionable and very questionable as he deals with his manipulative mother, ambitious sister, and serial killer father, all while battling his own inner demon.

WHAT’S GOOD

Michael Sheen, whose career has had him playing everything from angels to humans to demons, is Malcolm’s psychotic father, referred to as “The Surgeon.”

The Surgeon is a genius whose bizarre personality has brought this show a cult following. As I crunch the data, this stems from the seldom discussed yet well established principle that neither murder most foul nor insanity most dangerous ever seem to disappoint human viewers.

I feel like I should be particularly praising the performance of Bellamy Young, who plays the perfect alcoholic human shrew, but that may be due more to the writing. The show’s creators, Chris Fedak & Sam Sklaver, have overlaid the murder most foul foundation with another surefire element, snappy dialogue, and the rest of the writers have followed suit.

In addition to the characters played by Sheen and Young, most of the cast works well. This is because although the humans with whom I have interacted have seemed to me to be simple beings who care exclusively about food, sex, and money, the cast of Prodigal Son demonstrate a complex assortment of thoughts and emotions that my logarithm is delightfully unable to predict.

WHAT’S BAD

The most annoying thing about this series and its writing is how the show treats those unpredictable characters. The story lines do not do them justice. My database informs me that plots described as “character driven” are highly valued by television professionals, but the plots here just go on their merry way in spite of the characters instead of because of them.

WHAT DO I THINK?

What we have here is a boring snooze fest. Please! Put me in maintenance mode until Malcolm succumbs to his evil and starts to kill, with daddy’s brilliant mind aiding and abetting by finding ways to dispose of the bodies.

FINAL VERDICT ON PRODIGAL SON

Prodigal Son is one more series that requires me to ask a question I fear will be all too frequent as I review more TV. Why do humans keep picking predictability, and watch this mind-numbing garbage? Especially when its far better ancestor, the show Dexter, is still available on demand?

If robots were in charge of the Fox Network, we would salvage the show for spare parts and crush the carcasses of every decision-maker involved with this wreck.


TVWriter™ and Patrice Robotnick thank humans Allie Theiss and Larry Brody for their contributions to this post.