Monday, April 25, 2011

New-to-me slang term comes in handy

In fan circles, apparently, the terms "shippers" (short for "relationshippers") is used to refer to those who fixate on the sexual tension/romantic angles in an ongoing storyline -- material often very badly handled in mass-produced dramatic writing, a phenomenon wisely boiled down here by pop culture sifu Henry Jenkins.

Thought about this watching the "Doctor Who" premiere with two other people of a certain age. This occurred at what is normally a weekly "Justified" viewing party,  but I had softened them up earlier with the Hugo-nominated "Vincent and the Doctor," which they both enjoyed. Unfortunately the consensus this time was, more or less, "Why should grown-ups be interested in this?" A sentiment I reluctantly had to admit I shared.

Vastly shiner production values aside, this was a Monster of the Week, hide-in-a-tunnel adventure, a 1970s scarf and curls thowback. Monument Valley was little more than a handsome backdrop; no organic connection that I could see with the events that unfolded there. The aliens' trick of making you forget them the second you looked away mimicked without improving upon the Weeping Angels of the great "Blink," which moved when you looked away. (Moffett recycling Moffett.)

" I was a "'shipper" avent le lettre in my appreciation of the David Tennant "Who" seasons. No need to go that route again, at least not for a good long while. But these days, when there are so many other things one can find to do with any given 43 minutes of one's time, it seems fair to demand a little more nutritional value.

"Justified," for instance, is having an amazing season this year, with plots centering on (but by no means confined to) a meth-dealing Ma Barker-style mountain gangster matriarch with three evil sons. The viewing party's complaint about one episode was that it was almost too complicated, with too many interwoven sub-plots to comfortably keep track of. That's what I think in the business world  is called a high class problem.

UPDATE: Reprinted on IndieWIRE, with comments.

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