Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I have mixed feelings about Netflix. Despite their much lauded 60,000 titles they don’t have several movies that I am interested in. They have a policy of delaying service to frequent renters to protect their profit margins. I believe that there are lawsuits pending regarding this practice. We dropped down from three movies at a time to two movies and it took a month to process our request for the change in service.

Two movies at a time does not seem to be ideal as you only have one in route a few days after you return one. However, Netflix does seem to work for renting TV series as it can take you a few days to get through all the episodes on one disk. I have been so busy lately that I both need breaks and don’t have time to take long ones, so episodic TV works better for me than movies as a vegetation exercise.

For the last few weeks I have been watching the first season of Battlestar Galactica and the fifth season of West Wing. Jes and I have the first four seasons of West Wing on DVD so I have seen most of those episodes more than once. This fifth season is the season after Aaron Sorkin was ousted from the show for coming in late and over budget with his episodes. As the creator of the world of West Wing, and the writer behind many of the best episodes, it’s a reasonable assumption that without him at the helm the show would lag in quality. It does, but not to the degree that I expected.

Characters are occasionally doing and saying things that are “out of character”, there is an increased cheesiness factor, and the storytelling is not as tight. Episodes three through five cover a short time period and resolve only one significant plot arc. Jes’ brief analysis is that without Sorkin the show turned more towards traditional soap opera structure. With Sorkin most episodes could be seen as stand alone mini-films. The writing was tight and thrilling. After Sorkin there seems to be more drift among the characters, meanings are more ambiguous and plot developments turn on dollar bills rather than dimes.

As for Battlestar, I’m enjoying it but I wish it were better than it is. I’ve only just finished the third disk, so before a more detailed review I’ll give them a chance to hit a better stride.


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