2017: My Year in Fiction, Part 2

Part 2: Movies and Television

How can anything good come out of Hollywood, a community where reprehensible abuse of power is apparently so prevalent? Strange as it seems, good entertainment does happen, and I’ve had some good times at the theater this year, as well as at home in front of the television set. A fiction enthusiast like myself appreciates any medium through which engrossing stories might be delivered.

Favorite Blockbuster: Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi. I know not everyone loves it. In fact, I have friends that hate it with astonishing vehemence. I know that sensible complaints involving plot holes and miscommunication and extraneous subplots can be made against it. But darn it, I still loved it. I’ll have more to say about it in a later blog post, once I’ve had a chance to see it again. Close runner up: Wonder Woman, the movie many of us (including myself) thought stood no chance of being watchable, but turned out to be amazing.

Favorite Non-Blockbuster: The Emily Dickinson biopic A Quiet Passion, among the best depictions of a woman’s creative power put on film. It was released too early in the year for Cynthia Nixon’s amazing performance to get Oscar’s attention, and that’s a terrible shame.

Favorite Date Movie: The LEGO Batman Movie, which my husband and I saw together on Valentine’s Day at the Movie Tavern in Suwannee, GA. After all, what could be more romantic than sharing laughs — lots of them? The movie also deserves props for giving us the best depiction of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) we’ve seen to date.

Least Favorite Date Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Friends loved it. Critics liked it. My husband and I rode the wave of positive buzz into the theater, and we came out wondering what the heck we’d just seen. For me the worst part came during the credits, where a scene made it clear that the aspect of the movie I disliked most, the villainous matriarchal super-race the Sovereigns, would be back for the third film. I doubt I’ll bother.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Atomic Blonde. The trailers didn’t impress me. This looks cheesy, I thought. Yet it turned out to be a well-made action-packed spy thriller with my favorite movie soundtrack of the year.

Most WTF Comment on the State of Entertainment: A Tweet that turned up in my feed, positing that The Last Jedi and the Thirteenth Doctor were evidence that Hollywood was falling into a “feminist black hole.” Uh, just how many big money-making adventure movies with female protagonists did we see this year? Three, I think? That’s hardly evidence of a feminist takeover. It is evidence, however, of the theory that for some people, one big movie hit with a female lead character out of twenty such movies with male lead characters is one too many.

I Still Need to See: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.

Favorite TV Shows Watched in 2017: Netflix’s Luke Cage and GLOW, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Supergirl, Agents of SHIELDiZombie, and PBS’s Victoria (Season 1) and Poldark (Season 3).

When It’s Good, It’s Really Good: Peter Capaldi’s final season of Doctor Who, featuring my favorite New Who Companion, Bill Potts. (Why is it that these days, the ones I love most only get one season?) We got some lackluster episodes this year, but also some darn fine television.

Television Show With the Best Score: Poldark.

Television Show With the Best Soundtrack: Luke Cage.

I Can’t Believe I Actually Like This: I’ve never been a wrestling fan, and GLOW took me completely by surprise as I found myself connecting with the talented but hapless and often unlikable protagonist played by Alison Brie, as well as the diverse cast of female characters around her. What started as a show about female rivalry evolved into a show about female friendships, and I relished seeing that happen.

These Things Were Absolutely Made With Me in Mind: Poldark and Victoria.

Show We All Need to be Watching Right Now: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a sitcom that mixes humor with heart as it depicts a group of very diverse individuals working well together, feeding off each other’s competence, and appreciating each other. Nearly every week we see that a show need not be mean in order to be funny.

Best TV Boss: Without question, Captain Raymond Holt of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He also speaks my Favorite Line of Dialogue: “Any time someone stands up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.” (To put it in context, he says this to one of his officers, Det. Rosa Diaz, just after she has come out as bisexual.)

Most Improved: Agents of SHIELD. I was lukewarm on the show when it began, but I kept watching in the hope it would get better. The last season shows just how far it’s come since its awkward beginnings. I did have issues with this season’s ending, though…

Female Villains Need More Unique Motivations: Does it always have to be jealousy? The villain of the last half of Agents of SHIELD‘s season tries to destroy humankind because the man she loved preferred someone else. The villain who threatened the earth at the end of this past season’s Supergirl did so because her son chose his sweetheart over her and the privileged domination she offered him. In both cases, a woman goes genocidal because a man rejected her. Darn, but this kind of thing gets old.

Most Disappointing Departure: Floriana Lima, a.k.a. Det. Maggie Sawyer on Supergirl. Losing the character would be regrettable enough in itself, but the writers could at least have had her accept a promotion in another city and shown her and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) trying their hand at a long-distance relationship. Instead, they chose to break them up and add these ladies to the already-too-long list of lesbian TV couples denied a happy ending.

Most Unjustly Overlooked Show: iZombie. The zombies here aren’t mindless monsters but intelligent humanoids trying to figure out how to satisfy their need to consume brains without becoming menaces to society (although some of them would be fine with that). To me, this makes them a lot more interesting. Plus, Rose McIver’s Liv Moore is one of those smart, capable “female Other” protagonists I absolutely adore. Yet nobody seems ever to talk about this show. In discussions of supernatural-tinged action shows with strong female leads, this one rarely if ever comes up. I wonder why.

Now That’s How You Do A Reboot: Disney’s new Duck Tales, which manages the neat trick of improving on the original while still honoring its memory. I’m enjoying all the characters, but the new Webby is my favorite, not just because she’s more badass but because she’s flawed, which gives her more chances to be funny than the sweetness-and-light original ever got. Plus, David Tennant, my favorite of the “New Who” Doctors, voices Scrooge McDuck! I’m on board. But I’m well past ready to see some new episodes. Come on, Disney.


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