Falling out of love with a pop culture phenomenon is a disquieting sensation, especially when it comes suddenly or after you've spent time telling other people how good said pop culture phenomenon was. You're reading or watching something, quite happily, and then there's some moment of squick or poor writing that kills the experience. The question then becomes one of forgiving the momentary lapse of storytelling, or giving up completely. In most cases, I'm willing to give the story and its writers the benefit of the doubt. Delivering a reliably entertaining product on a weekly basis is difficult and it comes as no surprise that every now and then there are slip ups. But there have been times, recently, when the writing/acting/subject matter just killed the show for me, and a pop culture break-up was inevitable.
Case in point #1:Manga
: Genkaku Picasso
, Vol. 1, by Usamaru Furuya
The Good: I love the premise of the story, which is that after surviving a freak accident that killed his best friend, ordinary high school student and artist Hikaru suddenly finds himself with the power to draw whatever is in his classmate's hearts, and with the help of his dead best friend (who appears like a little angel on his shoulder), travel into the drawing in order to fix whatever is wrong. The artwork in this is quite good, and the sequences within his drawings are delightfully surreal.
The Bad: Hikaru is an anti-hero, antisocial and disinterested in actually interacting with his classmates. On one hand, this sets up a good transformation for him over the course of the story. But this also makes him a little tough to envision as the hero at all, as he whines and complains about how difficult it is to deal with others. The other major problem is that the worries of high school students, although lovingly rendered in Dali-esque detail, are really not anything profound in the grand scheme of life. A stronger story would have our hero taking his skills to the outside world and tackling more major problems (other than "I am jealous of my sister!" or "I don't understand my father!")
The Straw That Broke This Reader's Back: ( That's supposed to be normal? EW. )
Slightly more lighthearted case in point #2:
TV Show: The Cape
The Good: I love cheesy, Silver-Age style comic book stories, and this show initially promised a goodly amount, in all of its melodramatic, velveeta glory. Vince Farraday is a cop in scenic Palm City, framed for murder and presumed dead after a suspiciously convenient explosion in a train yard. However, a traveling circus of thieves takes him in, and its ringleader teaches him to bide his time for revenge by learning secret martial arts techniques and assuming the secret identity of The Cape, a masked vigilante, friend of the weak and helpless, etc. It's The Count of Monte Cristo
, with a little bit of Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Phantom of the Opera
thrown in for good measure.
The Bad: With a show that's cheesy, you're skating a thin line between camp and just plain stupid. For example, we're supposed to believe that the hero's best friend, who'd worked with him for years, doesn't recognize his voice or the lower half of his face when he appears in costume. Or that Palm City has attracted an abnormally high number of baddies with random disfigurements over the years. Or that there's a street that looks like something from the set of Bladerunner where the villains' henchpeople just happen to end disclosing their masters' schemes in low voices to the gang of heroes. Or that the evil Ark Corporation that's supposedly slowly taking over the entire town appears to be staffed by the head villain, his one lackey, and no one else. And the list goes on and on.
The Straw That Broke This Viewer's Back: I think somewhere in amongst all the above mentioned stupid, the total misuse of Summer Glau's character started to bother me the most. She had so little to do, other than bickering with the hero and apparently running an influential website that was going to take Ark Corporation down. (Although we never saw evidence of its influence.) But in last night's episode, the writers decided that there was nothing for it but to make her the damsel in distress, captured by a hitherto unknown baddie, whose origin story was preposterously dumb. (Apparently, he was so ugly that his mother abandoned him in a mental institution a few days after his birth, where he learned to make neurotoxins and tormented the staff who'd bullied him as a child...?!*) So now she's waiting for our hero to come and save her, and there's only one episode left... and I'm done now.
* Also, if you're going to have a villain who's supposed to be that monstrously disfigured... spend more money on make up. He just looked like he had a black eye, not so much with the disturbingly ugly.
The annoying thing about both of these is that they had potential to be so awesome. Of course, I will vote with my wallet and remote control, and not buy/watch them anymore. It's just disappointing when something with potential turns out to be poorly executed.