Merlin Viewing Notes

April 13, 2009 at 5:58 am (Don't Touch That Dial) ()

Yes, I watched it. No, these aren’t all my notes. Yes, beware of spoilers for pretty much the entire first season. No, I didn’t watch every single episode, mostly because I wanted to skip to the slashier ones and then didn’t feel like going back to see the other two.

I’d put up the extended notes, but I’d want to put them into some semblence of order first, and Merlin seems to have been a hothothot-cooooooold fandom for me. Le sigh.

(Format cribbed from Copperbadge’s various “3 Things About –” posts.)

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Before I Forget Theatre II

August 15, 2008 at 11:14 am (Don't Touch That Dial, Miscellaneous Meta) ()

I watched an episode of A Model Life a few days ago. Now, A Model Life is a reality show about six young models competing to earn a modeling contract with NEXT Modeling Agency. No one gets eliminated, it’s really more about the trials and tribulations of being a professional fashion model. Or something.

ANYWAY the ep I watched was the six girls getting a chance to be in a photoshoot with Gilles Bensimon (apparently a famous fashion photographer and also International Creative Director at Elle Magazine), the results of which are later discussed and critiqued by the people at NEXT. One model had a particularly good shoot and the people looking over her pictures said she could realistically model for Elle. Hooray for her?

She was 16 years old. Considering Elle is a magazine that focuses on women’s fashion and health and what not, this is pretty astounding. The ideal body to be seen gracing the pages of Elle is that of a teenager? That is the body all women should aspire to? Stick-thin puberty? Something is wrong there. I didn’t look like that when I was s16 and quite frankly I can’t think of anyone who did. It’s an unrealistic expectation of women to fit that one specific image. Not all women are white, not all women are or want to be that unhealthily thin, and no woman can turn back the clock. Skinny and bony teenagers should not be held up as the ideal for which 34.7* year old women should aspire.

In a similar vein, the International Creative Direction of Elle is a man. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but judging by the title an International Creative Director would be in charge of the creative vision and direction of Elle magazines across the globe, right? So every woman who reads Elle to see who’s wearing what, to see what’s hot and what’s not, is having their idea of beauty and body influenced by the vision of a man. Elle is supposed to be a women’s fashion and beauty and health and whathaveyou magazine. Why is a man in charge of telling women what they should aspire to look like?

* median age of Elle’s readers, according to Wikipedia. The entry’s section on weight issues in the show is arch and condescending and basically says something to the effect of modeling = bad health and if you don’t like it get out of the business. Ugh.

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Reaction Shots: So You Think You Can Dance 4×14

July 11, 2008 at 8:41 pm (Don't Touch That Dial) (, )

Oh look, me talking a lot. Mary seemed kind of subdued in this, toned down her shrieking and metaphor-making. Which was a good thing.

It’s long, so I’ll cut it. Because I am just that nice.

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Reaction Shots: So You Think You Can Dance 4×12, 13

July 4, 2008 at 4:51 pm (Don't Touch That Dial) (, )

All for the second routines the couples did, because that’s when the itch to talk about it attacked.

Jessica & Will; jazz: Will just would not stop smiling. I really took issue with that–the point of the shirt, I thought, was that he was far away and Jessica’s character was missing him. Hence the wearing of his shirt late at night when, presumably, she would have been the most lonely. So I really didn’t get why he kept smiling. Thematically, I thought the piece should have had a melancholy kind of feel. The smiling didn’t work with that.

Comfort & Thayne; smooth waltz: I loved the opening and the ending–it set up the tone of lost loves so perfectly, from a narrative standpoint. It was the perfect way to convey the theme of the dance. I think it’d have been clear even without the little clips beforehand telling us what the theme is. And that is some really good storytelling, I think. I know the judges went out about the lift, but honestly, that opening–with Thayne reaching out and Comfort reacting to his touch with them facing away–is what I’ll be taking away from it. Which I guess just goes to prove I’m not a dancer at heart.

Kourtni & Matt; mambo: The ending felt really random to me. Like it was just kind of…tacked on to the end to make the end impressive you know? No lead in. By which I mean, no steps before that would logically lead into it, the lift just happened, randomly. I think it’s half the choreography, but also half the dancers. The move right before is Kourni doing this thing where she runs her hand along her hair and it was sort of half-assed looking, like she was struggling to fit it in before the life because that was, you know, what had to happen before they went into the lift. Hmm.

I guess the only other thing I can say is that I don’t really like her dress–I mean, in concept and general design I like it, but I think the bodice/corset part’s a little too busy with the decorations, and the fabric and fringe looks too pink. I think it’s supposed to be red? But in the lights it looks hot pink-ish, and that just clashes with the bodice, it’s distracting. I suppose that goes the same for Matt’s tie, which is the same color, but since it’s such a small part of his costume, it’s not as noticeable.

I liked Matt’s little face at the very beginning, where he was running his hands through his hair, though.

Chelsie & Mark; foxtrot: The song! Man, once I recognized it, it was weird, I kept going, “Is this the song I think it is?” and expecting it to speed up.

Um, dance, right. The lift in the middle where Mark picked Chelsie up with her behind him facing away was kind of labored, I thought. I was iffy on her dress, since it’s got like a built-in feather boa, but in the end I thought it fit the whole feel of the foxtrot rather well–elegant, classy, graceful and stylish. The feather boa adds a hint of old school glamor (no, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.).

Other than that…uh…I can’t really think of anything much to say.

Kherington & Twitch; contemporary: Twitch really brought it, I think. I liked how he was the emotionally vulnerable one instead of Kherington, and it really showed, he really played that part well. And I liked how they kept missing each other, never quite on the bed at the same time–hinting at why they broke up, maybe? Because they just couldn’t really find that rhythm together at the same time? Hinting at him now–grasping for her, chasing her, but she’s elusive, she’s already gone.

The bed was a good setting, I think, because sometimes one person alone on a big bed really evokes that sense of loneliness that’s needed for a break-up piece. And Mia Michaels used it to good effect, to tell her story. The rose petals were kind of out there, though. I’m not sure what purpose they serve, narratively speaking.

Final comment: Why is Twitch in shorts? If he’s got a set of pajamas–and that would seem to be the case, since we have Kherington in the shirt–shoudln’t they be pants? I mean, at first I thought it was him in particularly fancy boxers or something. Also, Twitch is hot.

Katee & Joshua; West Coast swing: Very pink, very boring.

Courtney & Gev; Broadway: Just a lot, a lot of fun to watch.

Admittedly I only watch the results shows for the group dance numbers.

But maybe I should stop.

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Reaction Shots: So You Think You Can Dance 4×06

June 13, 2008 at 6:59 pm (Don't Touch That Dial) (, )

US version this time! I don’t know if you can be spoiler-y, talking about shows likes this, unless you leak results. Which I can’t do. So!

Katee & Joshua, hip-hop

I’ve already read good commentary on this episode’s round of performances, which kind of sucks any desire for me to make my own commentary. But Katee and Joshua were fantastic. I mean he does have the advantage of being in his own genre, but I remember something Jason said in SYTYCD Australia, when he told Jemma that because the cha-cha was in her genre, he expected her to blow it away. This was in Joshua’s genre and he did blow it away. Katee doesn’t have that advantage, and she totally stepped up to match him. Her acting was great, too; when she got up with the papers, when she threw them away, when she bent over like it physically hurt to find out he had to leave–you could really feel it.

I think Joshua matched her in the acting department too, actually. At the very beginning, when they were holding hands, just smiling at each other–oh god it was beautiful, which made the rest just so much sadder. And the end, too, when he was looking at her in his jacket. Together, great unison when they needed it. The end with the jacket was gorgeous and smoothly pulled off and a wonderful end to the narrative and generally, it was just really good.

I feel like such a sap, but everytime I watch it I just want to go “Awwwwww!” and make the mental equivalent of “D:!” Which is, you know. A good thing.

Jessica & Will; tango

Seeing the tango makes me want to watch Rhys and Jemma’s paso doble. Mary said almost exactly the same thing for their dance, and I think it was more true for them. *youtubes* Plus, Jessica’s dress, ugh. I don’t know, it was just so pink and sequiny and busy. I was focusing more on how awful her dress was than the dancing, to be honest.

Courtney & Gev; disco

Same with the disco. I want to go look up Anthony and Laura’s disco routine. Maybe it’s the song; they’re using the same. Courtney and Gev’s routine was kind of…monotonous, a lot of repeats. I thought Gev did pretty good considering he’s a breaker. I want to say that a lot of Nigel’s criticism is the fault of the choreography, but I’m not sure I can.

Overall I’m mostly surprised at all the slow routines. Maybe it’s just my volume or the quality of the file or my speakers, but all the songs sounded really soft and slow. Even Boogie Wonderland, which is pretty amazing. But then I heard Cat Deeley and all the judges just fine. Maybe their sound system was in trouble? Missing a speaker? I don’t know. But everything just didn’t sound or feel fast and loud, and you’d think they’d want to open up the show with a bang, right? It’s weird. I don’t know.

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So You Think You Can Dance Australia view notes

June 4, 2008 at 1:54 pm (Don't Touch That Dial) ()

I’ve only watched episodes 1-4 so far, but I have words to say and a place to say them!

1. Compared to the American show (which I am also following, though only the latest season at the moment), the Australian show seems to have more music woven into it. Especially in the audition sequences, when the montages of auditions were put together I really noticed the music chosen for them. It feels like the American show doesn’t do this, though maybe I need to go back and watch the audition eps again to be sure. But it feels new, and I like it. Having so much music all over the place really makes it feel like dance show. I don’t know how to explain it better.

Re: music choices for the interludes between auditions, whoever picks the songs and edits clips to them as a) a good knowledge of a variety of current (popular?) music and b) a great sense of timing and musicality. It’s really great.

2. The show feels more intimate than the American show. Maybe it’s because of the smaller scope of Australia in terms of population and thus number of entrants, and maybe I’m romanticizing a little, but it really does have a more casual feel. Maybe the judges being on (level with) the stage the dancers are on helps with that; they feel less like Judges From On High and more like, I don’t know, peers. Having a judge make the choreography helps that, I think. Seeing the judges (or at least a judge) get down and dirty and dance too helps make them less intimidating figures. Plus it gives at least one judge a greater basis for judging who makes it through the choreography, since he knows exactly what it entails.

2a. Matt’s vote for choreography is weightier than that of the other two because he knows best what the choreography will demand of the dancers.

3. The Australian show feels less…hmm…meanspirited. Maybe it’s because there’re fewer kooks and joke entrants than the US show? I find myself skipping fewer auditions than I do when watching the American eps, and I find myself taking fewer viewing breaks to play Solitaire for a while or something to avoid watching someone’s Impending Doom.

4. Is “chorey” a purely Australian term for choreography or is this slang in use throughout the global dance world as well?

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Good Singing vs. Good Dancing

May 29, 2008 at 11:23 pm (Don't Touch That Dial, Miscellaneous Meta) (, )

Recently I checked out So You Think You Can Dance at the behest of this dude because yes, I am easily influenced by others to try new things over the internet. I started out with the US season 4 (since it just started) and it really is better than (what I remember of) American Idol. Watching it (and thinking on this) got me thinking about how identifying good singing vs. good dancing is different.

I think identifying a good singer (at least to the average joe in the audience) is tougher than identifying good dancing. Don’t get me wrong, the average viewer probably will not catch the nuances of say, personality and energy and clean lines and extensions and musicality and whatnot that a professional will keep an eye out for and make note of. But your average viewer could probably distinguish a bad dancer from the better half of the talent pool. Dance is in many ways considered a performance first and foremost, so the audience has that expectation of a dance–that upon watching it, they will be entertained. So something that doesn’t entertain is not a good dance. I think the average person could easily make these distinctions.

But with singing…singing is tougher to judge as good. Yes, you have the physical package–the face, the movement, etc. But vocal technique is tougher to grasp and it’s harder for someone who doesn’t know what to look for to find it. People can be considered good singers (good enough to publish records) but have terrible vocal technique. It’s harder for someone who doesn’t know what good vocal technique is to say what is and isn’t technically good singing. Yeah, somebody could pick up on singer X was entertaining/unentertaining, that they had personality and good facial expression–but they wouldn’t know whether singer X was, say, forming the vowels correctly (it makes a huge difference in tonal quality) or using appropriate phrasing (debatable; this might still be pick-upable even if you don’t know what a phrase is).

I’m not speaking entirely academically–I know two years of choir class is not exactly a high recommendation for my expertise in singing, but I will say that after two years of being taught vocal technique by teachers who know what they’re saying, I can listen to a song and like the song and enjoy the lyrics and the melody and what have you, and still know that the singer I am listening to has crap technique. But prior to those two years I could not make that differentiation, not until I heard the difference between good vs. bad technique, and not until I knew what good and bad vocal technique was.

So I guess what I am saying is that good dance technique is easier for the layperson to pick up on, whereas good vocal technique is much more subtler and therefore much less so–making it harder for people to tell whether or not they themselves are good or bad singers, which means the number of people who aren’t good singers but still think they’re good enough to audition is exponentially higher for a singing competition like American Idol than the number of people who aren’t good dancers but think they’re good enough to audition for a dance competition like So You Think You Can Dance.

Oof, it’s late and I’m tired; I don’t know if I’m making any sense here. But the shape of the idea is there in my head, and hopefully I’ve managed to write it down in at least semi-coherent form.

ADDED: Another difference–there’s a much wider range of what can be considered good singing. Re: what I said about now being able to identify good vs. bad technique, singing can still be “good” even if technically bad, because for singing good also entails personality, musicality, stage presence, engagement of the audience, facial expression, etc. If you have all of those (plus killer song writing) you can still be classified as a good singer even if your vocal technique is shit.

The same thing applies to dancing too, of course. But with dancing there’s a much smaller range of what is acceptable as good; you don’t have nearly as much leeway as you do with singing. If you want to have those other unquantifiable things that make a good dancer–stage presence, musicality, entertaining, etc.–then that must include at least some technique. Not necessarily professional training caliber technique, but you have to at least know what the hell you’re doing. Because watching someone who doesn’t flail around on stage is only entertaining if you’re into schadenfreude, and otherwise just plain painful. And you can’t be engaging and have stage presence and show your personality when people are too busy cringing to watch you.

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