In this peak TV period, I thought we could use a thread on TV like we do the "Movies I Have Watched Lately" thread. I'll start with two:

ALTERED CARBON: Stupid name for a good sci-fi concept.

In this far future, humans can download their brains/personality/soul/what-have-you into chips called "stacks" that are located at the top of the spine. Nearly everybody has these stacks, and if your body fails you can load the stack into a new "sleeve," or body. The richer you are, the better body you can get. And the ultra-rich clone their own bodies, so they are effectively immortal. They are called "Meths" -- as in Methuselah -- and are just as awful as you can imagine. In the end, the rich win. Imagine that.

The Meth we get to know best is played by James Purefoy (Rome, John Carter, Solomon Kane) and he thinks he's become a god, or at least the difference between him and a god is so minor as to not be important. His stack is backed up every two hours to his own satellite, and if his body dies the stack is automatically downloaded to a clone. But when he is killed in a locked-room mystery in the two-hour window -- he doesn't remember how it happened, because his current stack didn't experience it -- he pulls the stack of a great warrior (an "envoy") who has been dead (and the stack preserved) for 250 years to solve the murder.

There's a whole mythology behind the envoys (as well as everything else -- the show is based on a series of novels) and we constantly see past lives, where the protagonist is usually Asian. We also see his lover and his sister in these past lives, where of course their appearance isn't static, either, so there's a little hurdle at first figuring out who the players are every time the Envoy has a flashback. 

There are some people who think the whole stack/sleeve business is an affront to God, and mark their stacks to not be resuscitated. They are called Neo-Cs (Neo-Catholic) and the cop who is A) gorgeous and B) immediately attached to the protagonist at the hip by the plot is one (or her family is, anyway). The ethics of this technology is explored through these characters.

The rich live up in the clouds, of course, in graceful spires that top out above the clouds, so they don't have to see how the other 99 percent live. which evidently is in Blade Runner. Seriously, Bay City (San Francisco metropolitan area) looks just like that movie, with the constant rain, the explosion of neon signs and people scraping by with food carts and such .

Sex is very straightforward in this show. There's frontal nudity for both men and women. Once I got over being surprised I came to appreciate it. Sex is pretty meaningless in this world, and it's presented that way. Once you get over the taboos being broken, you take in stride and don't think much about it. Which is consistent with how the characters view it. But if you're into boobs, trust that every pair in the cast will be naked sooner or later.

My wife enjoyed this more than I did. The F/X and writing are top-notch, but I found the acting a little substandard. The guy playing the Envoy also played Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, and his acting varies from bland to blander. His sister, played by a thin Asian actress who's been in a bunch of other stuff I've seen, is even worse. I'm no actor. and even I could tell she was mis-delivering her lines. Purefoy just looked bored with the whole enterprise. The actress who plays one of the Pussycats on Riverdale -- the one that briefly dated Archie -- in in here, too, so you'll probably recognize her.

I enjoyed it well enough despite my misgivings, due to the cool concepts and great future world on display. And, as I said, my wife really liked it.

THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES: We just started watching this, and have only seen the first three episodes. I like it because I love history, and the show does a great job of depicting 1820s London. I guess. Anyway. It's pretty sooty and poverty-stricken, which is probably true.

The story here is about a "Runner" -- what cops are evidently called -- who is hired by a lord to find out who is killing children and sewing their dead bodies together. This threatens a bill he has in Parliament to make doctoring a profession and regulate it -- putting out of business holistic practitioners, body snatchers, barbers and a host of other dodgy types. 

Our hero is played by Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship, Game of Thrones), a guy mourning the deaths of his wife and child, evidently from syphillis, which he gave them. So he's not doing so hot, either, as syphillis isn't curable in 1827, when the show begins. 

I'm not really sure how policing works in this age. They don't call themselves police, and they only arrest people when the victim can afford a prosecution. As noted, our protagonist is paid directly by a lord, and a local police station ("court of magistrates") is at his disposal. I know our police at the time were basically escaped-slave catchers, so I find this situation likely. I just don't know the rules of the game.

Our Runner meets William Blake, who dies, and Mary Shelley, who is an integral part of the plot. (She's about 30 here -- Percy Shelley's been dead for 4 years, Frankenstein has been in print for about 12 years, and she won't die of a brain tumor for another 20 years or so.) I'm not sure what her game is yet, but she is clearly lying to our hero.

There is a lot of super-religiosity on this show. Some of it I think is a bit too modern; our hero and his assistant are shocked and totally against it when a street urchin girl says she's pregnant and she's going to "take care of it." I don't know what the attitudes about abortion were back then, but I doubt anybody would give a toss what happens to a street urchin's pregnancy. If our heroes had expressed concern about HER safety I'd buy it -- most people who tried to prevent pregnancies in back alleys up until the 1920s died of sepsis. Anyway, they find her a place to stay that will keep her until the birth. Lucky street urchin!

There's a lot of super-religiosity on display I have no problem with, as it was no doubt mainstream at the time. Not being part of a church would be very suspicious. 

They also have cast as our hero's assistant a black actor. I know that this is almost a necessity now, especially at the BBC, but I have to physically swallow my disbelief every time he's on screen and nobody seems to notice that he is black. I don't know how many black people there were in London in the 1820s, but I imagine whatever that number was they were all domestic help, or in some other subservient position. Here, our black guy is a Runner, a position of authority, and nobody even blinks. I would think he'd be such a novelty among the common folk that they'd turn and stare when he walked down the street in his middle class clothes, and I'd guess no white guy, criminal or not, would suffer being interrogated by a black guy. I just have to pretend he's white for his scenes to work.

I don't know where this is going, but my wife and I are enjoying it so far. Bean's his usual craggy, muttering self, albeit less physical than in previous roles. (He's not getting any younger.) We'll see it through to the end of the first season, anyway.

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I dunno Jeff. It seems to me that time off wasn't the issue. I really feel what they needed was a good, honest business manager that they would listen to and who could deal with all the stuff that comes with trying to run an organization like Apple. 

I'll be curious as to what you think after they start talking about Allen Klein. 

Well, I think it was a contributing factor. They may have been rock and roll stars, but they were also very hard workers who had been going non-stop for eight years at least (despite the fact that John Lennon was kept showing up late when the other three were already at work). But, yeah, the business end of Apple was certainly a HUGE stressor as well. 

I have a recording of an interview with John Lennon taped the day he was killed, talking about how the songs for Double Fantasy came to him organically. He said something along the lines of being a professional and having the ability to sit down and "make" a song ("for a film, or something," he added). I thought he was referring to the songs that were specifically written for the film A Hard Day's Night, but I'm pretty sure now he was referring to the Let It Be sessions. In the interview, he went on to say that those songs wouldn't be among his best or his favorites (in comparison to those he wrote for Double Fantasy). There are things Paul and George have said over the years, as well, to which Get Back gives context. 

I haven't yet gotten to the scene you mentioned in which Yoko speaks up during a band meeting, but I think her presence so far has been pretty innocuous (although she seemed to have been waiting for an opportunity such as George leaving to step up to the mic). I did enjoy seeing her having a friendly chat with Linda Eastman. Yoko had probably been bored out of her mind until than. Ringo's wife Maureen showed up, to. I haven't yet seen Patti.

Here's NPR's coverage of Get Back.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, we're getting Disney+ for a while as a Christmas present, and this is another thing I look forward to watching.

I just read the original post, from 2018.

They also have cast as our hero's assistant a black actor. I know that this is almost a necessity now, especially at the BBC, but I have to physically swallow my disbelief every time he's on screen and nobody seems to notice that he is black. I don't know how many black people there were in London in the 1820s but I imagine whatever that number was they were all domestic help, or in some other subservient position.

Apparently, more than 15,000, many of whom did have servant/domestic jobs, many of whom were soldiers / discharged soldiers, and some of whom became successful in a range of fields despite the obvious barriers they would have faced because of the period's racial attitudes. Interestingly, "Pablo Fanque," the early nineteenth-century circus performer and owner mentioned in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," was Black and became financially quite successful. So it's not so far-fetched that a few people like this character could have existed. To what degree his race would have merited comment and surprise from other Londoners is an interesting question that I cannot adequately answer.

Random thoughts on GET BACK, Pt. 2:

Some of the conversations I remember from the "Fly on the Wall" CD of Let It Be... Naked. In particular I'm thinking of Paul's "Ringo put his foot down" speech concerning going abroad. Ringo may have been against it, but Paul didn't want to, either. Twice he pointed out Ringo's objection, but it was clear he wanted to stay in England as well (which is ironic, since he later traveled to Africa to record Band on the Run). 

Speaking of "a fly on the wall," I was surprised to hear a private conversation between Paul and John that was secretly recorded via hidden microphone without their knowledge! Other than that, everyone involved tries to ignore the presence of the camera, but they're all aware of it. Keeping that in mind, I find Paul's comments about Yoko interesting. He doesn't object to her being in the studio (he says, knowing he's being filmed), but he goes on to say that, if given a choice between Yoko and the Beatles, John would choose Yoko (which is true). 

Also, all of the Beatles discuss Billy Preston (with the cameras running) while he is out of the studio. Do they pay him or ask him to join the band? John suggests inviting Preston to join, but Paul quips thet they have enough trouble with four Beatles. In part one, George suggests that he himself be replaced with Eric Clapton, and in part two he suggests adding Bob Dylan (although I'm pretty sure he was being facetious). 

Back in the '90s, there was talk of all the unreleased material found in the Apple Vaults. Paul McCartney assured us that it was crap, and that all the good stuff made it to the LPs. Actually, there were some gems in the vaults, but I'm sure what Paul was referring to are the jams found in this documentary (and in the end credits) which, although unreleasable, I find valuable. Even their throwaway ideas are often fascinating.

Tracy is enjoying the documentary but has stated her preference to never watch it again. I love the recent  remastered rereleases which feature demo versions of all the songs on a given album, but tracy prefers the polished, finished versions. I hope it doesn't take as long for this to be released on DVD as it did Peter Jackson's last documentary. 

I personally enjoyed hearing the alternate takes they did (I'd no idea that Get Back started as it did, for instance) so I very much liked those parts of the documentary. 

I was kind of surprised, too, when Paul started talking about the India retreat and Peter Jackson (I guess...?) edited in all that home movie footage. Paul and John were kind of ridiculing it right in front of George, too, who took it much more seriously than they did. 

I'm guessing this wasn't the first time John and Paul ragged on the Maharishi in front of George. I know John in particular was pretty pissed off and disillusioned by the Mahatishi's antics. If you didn't know, the song "Sexy Sadie' from the White Album was about their experiences. 

Apparently (according to the film) "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" (and perhaps) "Me and My Money") was, too.

We finished part three last night and were pretty much blow away by Peter Jackson's presentation of the rooftop footage. There were ten cameras (five on the roof, one across the street, three on the street and a hidden one in the lobby), and Jackson used a split-screen effect to show as many as six at a time. (Oddly, he did not include three or four seconds from Let It Be that I found particularly amusing.) 

I watched Get Back three nights in a row, but one might choose to watch one a week to let each part sink in. It's almost like a trilogy with a beginning, middle and end: 1) Twickenham, 2) Abbey Road/Apple, 3) Rooftop Concert. I think the reason I was unaware of the two week limit they imposed upon themselves is because they didn't stick to it. (Their first album, Please Please Me, was recorded in 12 hours; Sgt. Pepper, required 700 hours in the studio.) I expected George Martin to play a more vocal role (perhaps scenes featuring his input were cut...?), but he stepped up more in the third part.

Get Back provides an entirely different picture of the Beatles' working relationship than Let It Be did. 

The morning after the meeting with George, Paul comments, "in fifty years they'll say they broke up because Yoko sat on an amp". I wonder if that comment actually came from George as one of the reasons why he was fed up with the current working situation.

One of the surprising things to me about the rooftop concert was 


The number of songs they repeated. I know they were recording, but I'd always thought they did one take of each song. 


Jeff of Earth-J said:

Oddly, he did not include three or four seconds from Let It Be that I found particularly amusing.

Let me guess: It's where John says "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."

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