A rare moment in time

I have been watching the news in several places, the papers (online), newscasts and other media. I saw how we see articles with issues that I predicted over a year ago. Now, let’s be honest, that what I predicted and that what now is not one and the same. I might have been lucky, that happens, yet that gave me the impulse to take a look into my mind (with some external support) and I got a revelation (odd how that happens).

There are moments in time that are chiselled to be with us forever, that part happens, a set of circumstances so unique that it passes the stress test of time.

It was 1976, I was in high school and I saw on TV something so unique that it would remain with me for all time; it is likely I will take the images into my grave. Even then there was a need for the direct in our eyes. This series delivered! I still regard it as the best Drama ever to be made. The series was called I Claudius and the fact that it is drenched in history and filled with flexible morals is what seems to catch us. Yet, is that enough? If we see TV series like Dexter, Trueblood and a few more HBO series. They seem to have the trademark on directness, so why did they not surpass a series made 38 years ago?

I believe that this is because that there is a lot more to the achievement. I think it was more than just timing. Derek Jacobi as Claudius, Brian Blessed as Augustus, George Baker as Tiberius, Patrick Steward as Sejanus, John Hurt as Caligula, Bernard Hill as Gratus, Ian Ogilvy as Drusus and who will ever forget Siân Phillips as Livia. It is not just the group of actors, but the fact that these actors would set new boundaries; some are even today regarded as the top of drama. I think that timing brought these people together and that part caused the effect that this was not a series with one or two diamonds in the rough, but we ended up with a series holding over a dozen exquisitely cut diamonds. A TV-series, which through timing has remained close to unmatchable.

I must of course mention that the book was an amazing piece of work, yet that is one factor we have all seen before, the fact that a book had been turned into such a vision by cast and crew was and has for the most remained a unique experience in TV series. It is ‘I Claudius’ that makes me appreciate how rare such moments are and hoping on regular repetitions such achievements are a waste of time.

When we see how productions are made nowadays, we see a shift from what was insightful towards what is to be expected. Now, the second part is not necessarily a bad thing as we avoid blunders, failures and flops, yet the opposite is also true, the chance of that 99.4% rated production becomes equally impossible. So do we set ourselves up for mediocrity? That is at the heart of the question, as we see movies, games and other forms of entertainment set into a matrix of ‘certain’ non-failures, we get just that, a non-failure, yet when we do that, we will endure a level of ‘entertainment’ that is not out there, that does not shift borders and that will not leave us in awe. Yes, we will get to some extent levels of originality. Waves of TV shows, like Gotham and a few others in the new millennia of comic book representation of TV shows, and some will prove to be good, expanding and even will become successes, yet, they will not get to the level that we got when someone had a vision, found the people and ‘I Claudius’ became a reality. Even the HBO version ‘Rome’, which shows life in those days, falls short. Spartacus, which was regarded as excellent and had a strong cast, but none gave the shine like Andy Whitfield, when he was lost to family and audience because of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we got the cold reality of how large a jewel he was in that series. Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as well as a league of others showed an amazing performance, but the absence of Andy Whitfield became just too noticeable.

The link is the rarity, when we see series holding the New Zealand Actor Kevin Smith (as Ares in Hercules and Xena) and Andy Whitfield, we see that these rare treasures of charisma have a lasting effect on a series, losing them will hurt whatever series they are working on, which makes the overwhelming list of ‘I Claudius’ even more rare then we consider possible.

But is this just about casting? No, I think that the vision of the director is too often downplayed, as is the work the writers put into place. Should you doubt the latter, consider the massive success the West Wing was and the strength that the Newsroom and House of Cards are showing. In the name of the director, the scriptwriter and the players that are, we announce this series {insert fictive name here} to be a non-failure. It sounds almost deceptively mundane. You see, many of these series are ‘powered’ by what America considers and regards, so slow sales will get a series cancelled too fast. Star Trek, the original series is one of the strongest pieces of evidence, what was regarded as failure (and therefor cancelled), is still regarded as one of the strongest visions of originality ever to grace the TV screens. In that light we see similar issues regarding Firefly, what could have become a game changer was dropped before its time. Here too the trinity is almost a given. Joss Whedon is shown to be the new Steven Spielberg (a shared place with JJ Abrams) and he had a strong support cast. Nathan Fillion might be the number one player, yet the support Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin and Jewel Staite are undeniable. A series shut down before its time to shine. It is not the only time that this happened. The same reception was given to Doll House, what is at the foundation a mind shifting cyberpunk story was again cut short by that what the American audience did not understand.

Here is where we see the failure: yes it is true that America, catered to Americans, yet at present it seems that these deciders are forgetting that the European population is twice the size of America, the EEC alone is 50% larger than the USA, now consider that The Commonwealth consists of a few more nations all looking at these American series. This is taken into another direction as we see that HBO seems to address those needs almost perfectly and they are gaining strength, whilst British drama is actually a little on the decline. It seems that these deciders need to take new looks at how series are continued or dropped. Doll House is less than 4 years ago.

So where is this going?

It seems to me that the deciders of ‘where to leave the coins’ are looking at prognoses and not at the places where real visionaries come from. This has always been true, yet most true and very much most visible in the entertainment industry. It is shown as we see the game Test Drive a year late, yet, the verdict is a mere mediocre (at http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/driveclub-review/1900-6415900/). Is it a fair verdict? Hard to say, I am not much of a racing fan, but I consider the rating of Forza (an XBox one game) at 88% well deserved, a game that was very playable and looked extremely good. So as we see more PS4 games end up with mediocre ratings, the question now becomes will it affect the console war? Sony seems strong here, but in the end, consoles will not survive without really good games, and at present exclusive games on the XB1 are (I am sorry to report) better than the exclusive PS4 games, and at present Microsoft has a few more exclusive releases upcoming. Yet it does not end there, we see new levels of mediocrity by Ubisoft as they locked Assassins Creed both at 900p, so 20% below the PS4 maximum. I wonder what will happen when the gamers are treated to a failing AI in 6 weeks. Is that a given? No! It is not, yet the quote “because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise, and we realised it was going to be pretty hard. It’s not the number of polygons that affect the framerate. We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second” (source: eurogamer.net), yet when we see (if this happens) another AC game with iterated glitches as we have seen since AC2, then what will the audience cry? This will be at the heart of what will come next. We will know in a few weeks, yet the questions are rising all over the internet by gamers of all size and creed. They expect that a game will show the game at the maximum of possibilities of the console they chose, not what we at present regard to be some excuse of ‘parity’, time will tell how it is received.

I have accused Ubisoft before on the lack of vision, it is not all deserved as Watchdogs, even though not as great as expected did open new doors, not unlike the very first Assassins Creed and it must be said a few more are expected to come, showing that Ubisoft has vision, but these titles are yet to be released.

True vision, it is a rare moment in time when we face it, yet in this age of need, why do we not see more of it?

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Media

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s