other content i won’t be watching going forward, and why

Since I’m on something of a rant about what I won’t watch, let me continue on with what else I won’t be watching going forward, and why. And then switch to what I am watching in its place, and again why.

Apple TV+

I got a year’s free subscription to Apple TV+ when I purchased my iPhone 11 Pro Max in September 2019. It was January 2020 before I even bothered to set up the application, let alone start to watch anything on it. The only show I remember watching was “For All Mankind,” and I stopped watching it because I’m no fan of alternate history, especially when it involves the space race of the 1960s between the US and the Soviet Union. The whole series is based on what if the Russians moon rocket booster, the N1, had actually worked? I’ve studied the N1 and it was a manufacturing disaster. The N1, on paper, was the most powerful heavy lift first stage every built. That first stage used 30 NK-15 engines, which were considered the most powerful rocket engines in that class of their day. The problem is that the N1 first stage was not static fire tested, the entire N1 program being under-funded and rushed to completion. As a consequence, all four N1 test launches self-destructed when launched. An awful lot of what went wrong in our time line would have had to have been done correctly in an alternate history. An awful log stretching back decades. You can’t just blithely wish it so. Rocketry is stupidly hard, such that the only rocket that even comes close to the N1 is today’s Falcon Heavy, with three Falcon 9 cores, each core with nine engines, for a total of 27 when the Heavy is under full thrust.

I got tired of all the glib passing over of the technical issues so that “For All Mankind’s” writers could write a convoluted soap opera. I skipped around a few episodes in the first season, and gave up.

After several months of light watching I stopped watching Apple TV+ completely. I only remembered I had it when I received an email from Apple that my free subscription was expiring in November 2020. That’s when I unsubscribed.

CBS All Access

That service was offered through Apple TV+ with a free 30 day all-you-could-watch trial, so I signed up. I managed to watch “Star Trek: Picard” as well as “Star Trek: Discovery.” Both shows were fan-service shows. If you’re a die-hard Trekkie then those shows are certainly for you. I’m not in that category. I’m the 8th grader who turned off the original Star Trek, season three, first episode, “Spock’s Brain,” because it was so bad. That episode has absolutely no redeeming qualities; by the time I’d gotten to the mid-point of the episode I’d had enough. I never watched another episode of season 3, and when NBC finally killed it I barely noticed.

Both of those new shows reminded me a bit of that crap. I quickly went through all the episodes, skipping parts that were of no interest to me. On “Picard,” the last episode where Data dies was particularly bilious. “Discovery” on the other hand was just off the scale when it came to overall acceptance of any of the stories or plot lines. “Discovery” is just bad fantasy wrapped in Star Trek technobabble and flashing lights. Once I finished with “Discovery” I killed my subscription.

Netflix

I was an old subscriber to Netflix. I opened a subscription with Netflix back when you ordered DVDs to be shipped to your home, back in the early 2000s. It was cheap, a lot cheaper than going to the movies, and it helped entertain the family, including the girls who were in high school at the time. I stuck with Netflix when they switched over to streaming; I first streamed Netflix with an app I installed on the family Nintendo Wii. When I upgraded the family DVD to Blueray, it came with Netflix streaming pre-installed. Same with my first digital TV, a Samsung 55 incher. Netflix was ubiquitous, and full of video content from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was cheap and plentiful.

Then it got not so cheap and not so plentiful. Other streaming services came along (Disney, for example) and starting pulling movies to show on their services. And then Netflix started to “rotate” movies out, so that if you didn’t watch it, and it was rotated out, too bad, so sad. And then Netflix started to make their own movies, none of which appealed to me. I know my taste in movies can get pretty trashy, but not Netflix trashy. So early 2020 I killed that subscription.

So what are we watching these days?

Amazon Prime with Brit Box

It’s Amazon, and it seems to come with everything. I added Brit Box so we could see all the British TV that never was complete on any other streaming service. So all the seasons and all the episodes are complete on Brit Box. I watched Amazon pretty much because of “The Expanse,” but if you read my last post, you pretty much know I’ve walked away from that. I use Amazon Prime for a lot of other services besides movies, so I’m not to concerned with whether I keep it or not; Video is just one of those added perks.

Disney+

I signed up to Disney+ because it’s cheap and because of “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” as well as the complete catalog of Star Wars, MCU, and Pixar. There’s a lot there to keep me occupied. But not necessarily happy.

I’ve already passed judgement on “The Mandalorian” and found it lacking. Once again, a fan service episode. If there’s any redeeming feature to the show, it was season 1, episode 1, in which Werner Herzog stared as “The Client.” It slowly went down hill from there.

“WandaVision” is a bit more enigmatic. They’re trying to be clever, and they’re almost making it happen. These first few episodes remind me a bit of the first few seasons of “Agents of Shield.” The fact that new episodes are only released weekly every Friday is a bit of a letdown, but then, it takes time to film and produce anything, so I can wait for the finished product to be delivered.

Going back through the MCU catalog has allowed me to build a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together. The problem with movies is the long delay between releases, when you memory of the last movies grow a bit hazy. So when I see something that doesn’t quite make sense in one film, I can go back to a prior film and see how that led to an event in the later film(s). I’ve grown to have a better appreciation of what the MCU accomplished up to this point.

In conclusion

That’s about it. My TV watching is declining over time. I have a recent LG 55 inch TV that is programmed to stream just about everything. Funny thing is I spend as much time watching streamed content on my iPhone and iPads as I do on the LG. My wife is going down the same path. If we want to watch something together I’ll pull up my 12 inch iPad Pro and share it with her. It seems sufficient, and it harkens back to the early days of broadcast TV when my primary TV was a 13″ Sony that my wife and I shared right when we married. Talk about coming around in circles…

As for the other kind of visual entertainment, video games, I hardly play anything anymore. I have exactly one game I play on both iPhone and iPad. My oldest daughter and her husband gave me a Nintendo Switch Lite, on which I play “Animal Crossing” and share it with them and my youngest daughter. I’ve tried to get interested in other Switch games, especially when the local Walmart puts them on sale, but I play them a bit then put the cartridges in my Switch case and don’t think much about them after that.

I have no patience anymore with fantasy and make believe worlds. They take too much time, have too many logic and story holes, and demand too much money over time for too little in return.

why I stay away from modern movies

I’m about to launch into a diatribe about the state of the modern movie. Like so many movies, what I’m about to present won’t be new, but more than like a sequel to so many other similar criticisms of the current movie industry. I’m well aware of the amount of resources that go into making a modern movie, such as those from the MCU or the Star Wars franchise. And I know how much money they make at the box office. And yes, before you ask, I can’t reproduce any of it on my own. Hollywood, from the expenses involved to the bending of copyright law to their collective will against the common Joe, has seen to that. I don’t intend to let any of that stop me. I’m going to criticize one of the recent block-buster Star Wars movies, “The Last Jedi.”

I didn’t hit the multiplex to see “The Last Jedi.” I already knew that it was a swan song for Carrie Fisher, who died right after filming had wrapped up on “The Last Jedi.” I know a lot of fans who viewed the movie based on sentimental reasons alone, but I refused to see it when it was released precisely because of her recent death; I felt it a bit morbid. But TLJ just came out on Netflix, so I decided to take a look. And that’s when I couldn’t believe what I saw in just the first three minutes of the film. Let me show you what I saw in about the first three minutes of the film.
First, we have an image of a ship boarding a lot of smaller ships, which are all streaming from the surface of the planet below. Apparently they’re trying to get out of the area before something Terrible Happens. I wonder what that might be?
The movie changes viewpoint to the surface of the planet where we see everyone who hasn’t gotten off, getting off and leaving a lot of good supplies behind. They’re in a very big hurry. While the tension mounts, one of the characters utters an “oh no” and looks up to see a pair of Star Destroyers appear in space (complete with sound effects even). These Star Destroyers must be huge to appear this large from the planet’s surface during daylight, especially when we see in the next establishing scene they’re well clear of the planet’s atmosphere.
And here they are in all their glory, pointed right at the earlier escape ship. But wait, we’re about to be visually treated to an even bigger ship than the Star Destoyers.
That’s right. Here we see a Dreadnaught starship appear. We also get to see that there’s actually three Star Destoyers around the Dreadnaught.
And, of course, what would a Dreadnaught be without its planet destroying weaponry?

So here’s my problem with all of this. We have four capital warships show up above an enemy base with absolutely no defensive capability against this massed array of firepower. And yet, in the minutes that follow, they do manage to get away (sort of) and destroy the Dreadnaught in the process. And that makes no rational sense, even if I’m willing to suspend belief that such can ever exist in the first place. Here’s what I would have done, ignoring anything to do with real science and physics, and just concentrating on the logic of the battle:

  1. If I were in charge of the operation, I’d have had everyone rendezvous at a location well away from the final attack location, get everything coordinated, and then move my squadron of capital ships so that they appeared all at once over the intended target. Having the Dreadnaught show up late might have made for movie drama, but it showed poor planning on someone’s part.
  2. And while we’re at the rendezvous point, a plan would be put together with the intel on the enemy (and they would have had intel, especially if they knew where they were to start with). That plan would include an offensive operation to go into effect as soon as the squadron appeared over the target.
    1. Remember all those TIE fighters swarming out of the Dreadnaught? They would have been swarming out as soon as the Dreadnaught appeared over the target. Their target(s) would have been anything in front in space, which meant all those rebel ships coming up from the surface and the even bigger target, the destination transport ship taking them in.
    2. The Dreadnaught would have been ready to open fire as soon as it appeared as well. No waiting around. If nothing else, it would be suppressive fire with some attempt to range towards the final target, then fire for effect. Those are big guns; use them.

With all that going on, nothing should have been left to chance, or left alive to cause any issues. Everyone on the planet and in space should have been dead or dying within 10 minutes of the squadron’s appearance. You’ve got four heavily armed, massive capital ships against essentially nothing.

But there’s one character in this movie I have a special animosity towards: Poe Dameron. To start with, with any decent warship, there is no way a singly manned attack craft should have gotten through anything like a close-in weapon system, or point defense system. Modern Earth navies have them studded all over every respectable ship in their fleets, and have since the mid-1970s starting with the Phalanx CIWS. I heard the line of dialog about how the little X-wing was to small and nimble against the Dreadnaught’s CIWS, which I find totally ludicrous. This is the same stupid excuse that got the first Death Star killed (which I also found totally ludicrous). A half-decent CIWS, totally automated, especially with homing missiles, should have wiped out the X-wing before the various bridge crews were even aware of the X-wing in the first place.

Ah well, this is Disney after all. I managed to see most of the film by skipping through a lot more stupidisms (thank you Netflix for that capability). If there’s any comfort in feeling cheated for wasting my time, it’s that the next movie out of the Disney Star Wars movie chute, “Solo”, did pretty terrible by Star Wars money making standards, such that any future side movies are on hold. Perhaps “Solo” died on its own, or perhaps TLJ left a bad taste in more mouths than Disney realized. Who knows. But I do know this: I’m never watching another movie from the Disney/Star Wars confluence. Anything Disney buys or creates they eventually destroy because all that matters to them is the money being made, plot and/or story be damned. “Star Wars” is turning into another “Pirates,” with each new sequel more expensive, more heavily invested in visual glitter, and more creatively bankrupt the further you go.

P.S.

The screen shots were made on my MBP with the latest Firefox. I tried to screen shot the same scenes using Netflix on both iOS and Android, but was blocked by doing so by the apps. Whatever…