I had mostly bailed on HBO's Westworld by the end of season #1 and certainly by the middle of season #2. The endless puzzleboxing was infuriating. I was amazed that the producers had the chutzpah to launch a third season (eight episodes, 3.15.20 to 5.3.20), but that they did. I refused to watch. I was done. Login with Patreon to view this post
Westworld‘s third season is nearly upon us. An eight-episode endurance test that begins on 3.15.20, it will presumably deliver the same infuriating mixture of bullshit brain-teasing, dick-diddling, plotzing and puzzleboxing.
Around the 28-second mark of the Westworld 3 trailer we hear a woman’s voice say “you are woke“…thud.
Update: It’s been claimed that she’s saying “your world.” Here’s the thing — when people say “world” they use their mouths and tongue to pronounce a word that sounds like “wuhrrrlld.” When they say “woke” they use their mouths and tongue to pronounce a word that sounds exactly like “oak” (as in oak tree) except with a “w” in front of it. The word I’m hearing is a cross between “woke’ and “wuhhulld,” or the British way of pronouncing “world.”
First there was African American “woke”, then progressive-twitter virtue-signalling cancel-culture Khmer Rouge wokesterism, then the Burger King “wokeburger“, and now Westworld robot “woke.”
Last summer showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy told Entertainment Weekly that season 3 would have a more comprehensible story line…really? “Season 3 is a little less of a guessing game and more of an experience with the hosts finally getting to meet their makers,” Nolan said. Doubt it!
Posted on 4.27.18: “That feeling of being fiddled and diddled without end, of several storylines unfolding, expanding and loop-dee-looping for no purpose than to keep unfolding, expanding and loop-dee-looping…is such that I’m determined to hate all further permutations of Westworld without watching it. I don’t care how that sounds or what it implies. Come hell or high water, I will not go there.”
Boilerplate: “Taking place immediately after the events of the second season, Westworld escapee Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) develops a relationship with Caleb (Paul) in neo-Los Angeles, and learns how robots are treated in the real world. Meanwhile, Maeve (Thandie Newton) finds herself in another Delos park, this one with a World War II theme and set in Fascist Italy.”
From a 4.20.18 review by CNN’s Brian Lowry: “The first half of [season #2] repeats the show’s more impenetrable drawbacks — playing three-dimensional chess, while spending too much time sadistically blowing away pawns. The result is a show that’s easier to admire than consistently like.
“The push and pull of Westworld is that it grapples with deep intellectual conundrums while reveling in a kind of numbing pageant of death and destruction. Where the latter is organic to the world of HBO’s other huge genre hit, Game of Thrones, it doesn’t always feel integral to the story here, but rather a means of killing (and killing and killing) time.”
Well-heeled types pay to have their way in a fantasy realm, but it turns out the fantasy realm wants to have its way with them.
Jeff Wadlow‘s Fantasy Island (Sony, 2.14.20) is some kind of high-concept midrange spooker. Boiled down, it seems to be a blend of Michael Crichton’s 1973 Westworld and a 1964 Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode called “Thanatos Palace Hotel“, which costarred Steven Hill and Angie Dickinson. Or something like that.
Co-written by Wadlow, Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs, the newbie costars Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Parisa Fitz-Henley and Michael Rooker.
There’s something about the sound of the word “fantasy” when pronounced by a person of Latin heritage (“phahntissy”) that drives me up the wall. I never the use the term “fantasy” except in a derogatory sense.
A recent, anonymously-written Den of Geek report reminds that Season 2 of HBO and Jonathan Nolan‘s Westworld won’t happen until ’18, and perhaps not until the fall. Take your time, guys! I began as a fascinated viewer — hell, I was nearly a fan — but by the time season #1 ended I had moved beyond concerns about narrative enervation. I was just plain sick of it.
“I hate this series with a passion for just layering on the layers, for plotzing, diddly-fucking, detouring, belly-stabbing, meandering and puzzleboxing to its heart’s content,” I wrote on 12.5.16 (“Westworld Hate Will Continue To Spread”).’
“You know Westworld is just going to be keep being Westworld for God knows how many damn seasons until the beleagured audience, like the hosts, stands up and says “Enough, Jonathan Nolan…you and your never-ending longform sprawl, your endless teasings and knife-stabbings and shallow sex scenes, your slowly-germinating metaphysical character arcs and parallel timelines…you’re just spreading your winding narrative double-back bullshit to see how long you can keep it going…two, three, four seasons. If it weren’t for the nudity we probably would have revolted four or five episodes ago.”
The Den of Geek piece got me thinking in one respect. Through most of Westworld S1 I was wondering when the hell are the robots finally going to revolt and start murdering the guests en masse?
“If one views Nolan’s Westworld as a series to be a long, loose, and convoluted retelling of its 1973 source material’s narrative, then season 1 was essentially the first act,” the piece supposed. “The park was in proper use until it wasn’t. Now, the fences are down, the Tyrannosaurus Rex has a Jeep in its mouth, and Dennis Nedry still hasn’t even reached the Dilophosaurus paddock. Hence, season 2 could quickly evolve into a kind of war between the guests and the hosts.
“It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that 10 episodes in season 2 could stretch out a week of the survivors’ dire circumstances just as liberally as how season 1 stretched out William and Logan’s two-week vacation over nine episodes.”
More stretch-out? If I was a guest looking to survive the slaughter I would get the hell out of the park as soon as possible. How big is Westworld, square-acre-wise? Is it as big as, say, eight Disney Worlds or the city of Winslow? Trust me, it wouldn’t take me any more than a day or two to rescue myself. I would hide behind rocks, travelling only at night, killing as I go. It’s going to be fascinating (not) to watch Nolan shovel the endless meandering bullshit as he endeavors to keep the guests from escaping for weeks on end.
This drearily synthetic “meet Walter” piece, a promotion for Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox, 5.19), was conceived by Ridley Scott and 3AM, directed by Luke Scott and produced by RSA Films. What horsehit…a perfume commercial! Why didn’t they use Rihanna or Beyonce as the nurse-surgeons? The Alien: Covenant buzz has just taken a nosedive.
Like many others, I’ve gone totally negative on Westworld over the last three or four episodes. The HBO miniseries finally ended last night, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a major revolt going on. I hate this series with a passion for just layering on the layers, for plotzing, diddly-fucking, detouring, belly-stabbing, meandering and puzzleboxing to its heart’s content.
You know Westworld is just going to be keep being Westworld for God knows how many damn seasons until the beleagured audience, like the hosts, stands up and says “Enough, Jonathan Nolan…you and your never-ending longform sprawl, your endless teasings and knife-stabbings and shallow sex scenes, your slowly-germinating metaphysical character arcs and parallel timelines…you’re just spreading your winding narrative double-back bullshit to see how long you can keep it going…two, three, four seasons. If it weren’t for the nudity we probably would have revolted four or five episodes ago.”
If the show itself isn’t reason enough, people need to say “no” to Westworld in order to reject the mindless opportunistic stoogery of Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara. “I am really, really excited about the opportunity that we potentially have with Westworld,” Tsujihara said last Tuesday at the Credit Suisse Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Phoenix. “If you look at the viewer data on Westworld, its first year viewing on all platforms is greater than Game of Thrones.”
Last night’s Westworld debut was a bowl of satisfaction. Richer, spookier, more complex than the 1973 Michael Crichton film. The Groundhog Day repetition element is brilliant, and then Evan Rachel Wood finally swats the fly…perfect. It was just one episode (and yes, I’ve heard the quality doesn’t sustain) but right away it felt like a 2016 BMW compared to Crichton’s ’73 Chevy Nova. A better thing texturally, thematically, technically, acting-wise.
Crichton told the tale from the vantage point of visiting tourists (James Brolin, Richard Benjamin) — HBO co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have smartly reversed this scheme. Those poor androids are weeping inside, anguished and confused and yet starting to quietly contemplate the murder of their creator (Anthony Hopkins). Hopkins’ death, trust me, is going to be quite gruesome.
I had an idea before watching last night that Ed Harris would be playing Yul Brynner…nope. It’s also interesting that the droids have been programmed to interact with each other on their own time with no visitors in sight.
And what’s with the milk obsession? Vats of thick, milk-like gloop in the laboratory, milk pouring out of androids through bullet holes, milk being chugged from bottles.
A legendary Roy Orbison tune plopped onto a soundtrack always adds an agreeable vibe, some kind of haunted yesteryear feeling, as this trailer makes clear. The buildup to HBO’s Westworld has gone on forever, but the 10.2 debut is nigh. Side issue: I’m a bit confused about the romance between James Marsden‘s Teddy Flood and Evan Rachel Wood‘s Dolores Abernathy. Robots aren’t supposed to fall for each other — they’ve been built strictly and entirely for tourist diversion, and have surely been programmed not to fraternize in any way, shape or form. Okay, I’m not 100% certain that the gunslinging Flood is a robot, but what else could he be? He’s clearly no tourist visitor or Westworld administrator. Imagine if Yul Brynner had begun an affair with one of the hotel prostitutes in Michael Crichton‘s 1973 version. James Brolin and Richard Benjamin would’ve looked at each other and gone “what the fuck is going on here?”
True story: “I was driving along Melrose Ave. near Doheny in late 1983. (Or was it early ’84?) I noticed that a new BMW in front of me had a framed license plate that came from a dealer in Westport, Connecticut, where I had lived only five years earlier and which is next to my home town of Wilton.
“I pulled alongside the Beemer and saw right away that the driver was Anne Baxter, who looked pretty good for being 60 or thereabouts. I rolled down my window and said, “Hey, Westport…I’m from Wilton!” And Baxter waved and smiled and cried out “Hiiiiii!” [Originally posted on 2.8.13.]
I realize that many Millennials and Zoomers have no idea who Baxter was, but eventually a generation will come along that has never heard of them. I can’t recall the name of the Westport dealership where Baxter bought her Beemer. For decades Baxter lived at 25 Knapp Street in Easton.
Who’s kidding whom? At best HE dabbles in broadcast/cable/streaming. In a word, I’m a dilletante. Meaning that I see what I have time for, but (a) don’t push me and (b) I tend to avoid comedies. I’m basically a movie, Bluray and 4K streaming guy in search of comfort zones. (Remember movies?) I live on Amazon, Netflix, HBO Max, Vudu and Criterion Channel. I’m nonetheless an educated human being with feelings, opinions, passions, etc. And so I decided to post this. Where’s the harm?
HE preferences are in boldface; random comments inserted. All hail Cate Blanchett, Tracey Ullman and the Mrs. America team.
Best Drama Series
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)…sure.
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)…nope.
“Killing Eve” (BBC America/AMC)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)…no!
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)…HE-styled humor, close to home.
“Dead to Me” (Netflix)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)
“Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
“Mrs. America” (Hulu)…loved this series.
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Jeremy Irons (“Watchmen”)
Hugh Jackman (“Bad Education”)
Paul Mescal (“Normal People”)
Jeremy Pope (“Hollywood”)
Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)
Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)
Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Octavia Spencer (“Self Made”)
Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”)
Michael Crichton‘s Westworld is no one’s idea of a great or even a first-rate film. It’s a primitive sci-fi formula flick. But at least it’s lean and trim and doesn’t tax your patience, which is more than you can say for HBO’s endlessly infuriating Westworld series.
Better yet, the Crichton doesn’t ask you to hang out with an actor like Tennisballhead. And the HBO series doesn’t offer one single moment like the one in which James Brolin and Richard Benjamin groan in irritation when Yul Brynner‘s robot says “draw.” Not one.
When I’m 103 and on my death bed (because I have the constitution of Kirk Douglas), someone will say “what did you do in your life that was good and redeeming?” And I’ll answer, “I hated Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy‘s Westworld with a passion, and I tried to spread that view frequently.”
Yesterday I posted a list of 130-plus scripts (“What Does This List Tell You?“) that have some kind of heat or momentum in the theatrical realm. Some have attracted positive attention but haven’t been produced yet, others have gone before cameras but have yet to open, some are buzzy but still waiting for a green light. The list contains a small sliver of titles that represent original stories; the rest are sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots.
The comment thread was appropriately despairing. At one point (and you knew this was coming) HE commenter Patrick Murtha reminded that “there’s this episodic art form that I think is superior…you may have heard of it…it’s called television.” While movies bang out sequels, remakes and rehashings, television “is superior for telling multi-part stories.” Except, of course, when these multi-part stories devolve into narcotizing, soul-draining puzzleboxing a la Westworld.
To which I replied: “Agreed — high-grade entertainment or profound absorption within a smart, above-average cable/streaming longform is in many ways superior and preferable to what movies are doing now for the most part. Hell, with the presumed-sequel mentality so fully embedded in the theatrical realm, movies themselves have almost become longform in a sense.
“But for those films that still play by the classic rules (a one-off delivering a strong, efficiently constructed story with a satisfying third-act payoff and a haunting thematic undertow within 100 to 160 minutes and sometimes only 85 or 90), a higher bar applies. It’s much harder to deliver the whole bull’s-eye package in a single sitting, but when that happens there’s really nothing better, and in this sense movies will sometimes leave longform cable/streaming in the dust. Every year between 5% and 10% of theatrical movies accomplish this.”
In the same sense it’s a harder and finer thing to write a truly effective 5,000-word short story than a long, elephantine novel running 1200 pages. Which is the more satisfying East of Eden narrative — the long, sprawling, Biblically-infused tale of the Trask and Hamilton families in John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel, or Elia Kazan‘s pared-down screen version that concentrated on the Trasks (the focus of the novel’s second half) and primarily on Cal or Caleb (James Dean‘s character)?