US TV

Season finales: Numb3rs and Medium

It’s the last of the finale guides for this year (unless I missed a show) and so it’s time to deal with everything that didn’t fit into any neat categories.

Numb3rs

Numb3rs

After a pretty insipid season that lost most of the things that made the first season so good, we have… a pretty insipid finale that veers into even worse territory. Don’t fret since there’s no real cliffhanger, other than the possibility that we won’t bother tuning in next year.

Tension factor: 2/10.

Mediumfinale

Medium‘s had a pretty dull season, too, this year, lacking the sparky dialogue and situations that gave it such a good start. The finale does at least give us a good ending to the season, thanks to an alternative universe episode in which Allison burns her arm on an oven grate and winds up married to David James Elliott from JAG. It has some nice moments and is more of a paean to married life than a finale, but it was still nicely heart-warming. No tension whatsoever to affect the nerves once we get into alternative universe territory, although the opening suggests that something more drastic is going to happen. The episode, however, is more the visual equivalent of a mug of Ovaltine than a thrill ride at Thorpe Park. On the other hand, it did feature Peter Wingfield as a baddie with no dialogue. Since you just don’t get Peter Wingfield in to sit there and say nothing, this suggests he might be back in a recurring role next year, which is probably enough to make most people tense.

Tension: 1/10-7/10

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Reason to hate the Daily Mail #1211616

So I’m staring over the shoulder of someone on the train at their copy of the Daily Evil aka the Daily Mail. I spy an article on Big Brother and this is the standfirst (as well as I can remember anyway. I get the feeling Marcia Wallace does/did voices on The Simpsons

Anorexia, confused sexuality, Tourette’s Syndrome, suicidal depression: five of the contestants have psychological problems. Marcia Wallace asks: Is this the sickest Big Brother ever?

So let’s get this straight. First of all, five contestants, four “conditions” – I guess we have to assume that two contestants have “confused sexuality”, which is apparently a psychological problem. So would that be Richard and Shahbaz because they’re gay? I tell you what, they both seemed really sure they fancied men so I’m not sure how confused they are.
Or have they forgotten that Shahbaz is gay and they’re talking about Sam because she’s a pre-op transsexual? Again, living your life as a woman for three years – presumably not that confused about her sexuality or are we to assume the Mail meant “confused gender”?
Then there’s the idea that Tourette’s Syndrome is a “psychological problem”. Hmm. Not sure you can actually cure Tourette’s with counselling, it being predominantly an inherited disorder.
God I hate the Daily Mail.

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US TV

Season finales: Scrubs and House

In the penultimate of my series of finale guides this week, I’m having a look at two medical dramas: House and Scrubs (no, I won’t be covering Grey’s Anatomy: it’s pants).

House's finale

House

With no real story arcs to clear up, House could have just ended with business as usual. Instead, the season has a cracking and indeed shocking conclusion. There’s enough misdirection in it to make it hard for all but the most jaded to spot what’s going on. There’s also no pat resolution, making it a tense summer for the House fan. Although we can guess that the regular character in jeopardy will survive through to the next season, there’s a possibility that things won’t return to the status quo: indeed, the episode went through most of the possible changes that could occur, so you’ll be able to spend the wait working out which is the most likely.

Tension factor: 8/10

Scrubsfinale

Scrubs

This season’s been a bit rubbish, so it’s no surprise that the finale should be rubbish. Resorting to one pregnancy: that’s a bit tired, but reasonably acceptable. Resorting to two pregnancies: that’s starting to suggest desperation. But three pregnancies? Just how few ideas do you have to have left to try that? No real tension here, given that we’ve had no build up to these bolts from the blue, so don’t fret too much.

Tension factor: 2/10

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The beauty of early psychology in pulp novels

I’ve been working my way through Ian Fleming’s James Bond books of late. Cos I’m inherently lazy and I’d fall asleep if I were actually reading them (early commute), I’m listening to them on my iPod, mind – what’s even less taxing than reading a James Bond? Listening to a James Bond book.

I’m currently listening to The Man with the Golden Gun, which like almost all the books has virtually nothing to do with the movies and vice versa. It’s slightly amusing anyway since the man reading them tries to do the accents and he’s not the world’s best at that; now imagine a book set on Jamaica, where half the characters appear to be Pakistani…

But then I get to this cracking psychological analysis of Scaramanga, the villain.

“I read recently a profile of Scaramanga in Time magazine. It mentioned something that was barely commented on, but I think is important. It said Scaramanga can’t whistle. Although it may be hearsay, I think there is an element of truth to the suggestion that homosexuals cannot whistle.”

There’s a lot of that kind of rubbish in the Bond books, although you can never be quite sure whether Fleming’s taking the piss – the books get a little more knowing as the series goes on. There’s Pussy Galore in Goldfinger who gets ‘cured’ of her lesbianism by Bond – she was raped when younger and that put her off men, but one night with Bond fixed her. And then there’s From Russia With Love, where the villain has to murder people during the full moon because he’s manic depressive.

But you’ve got to love 1950s psychology, haven’t you? They came up with some outstanding stuff, all cloaked with the authority of science. All the movies and books picked up on it and now we have an entire decade of media that is entirely laughable thanks to their attempt to use science to guide their plotting and characterisation.