Imagined Iconography & Reversal Notions: New Television Shows – Summer 2011

Re-imagining long set ideas and iconic characters can always be a challenge especially when operating in a world that is built on their inclusion. While studios will continue to do so based on brand recognition or acceptable eyeballs, pushing the envelope by creating new possibilities in storytelling is not unheard of, especially with basic cable truly allowing the edge to go farther.

The Looney Tunes Show The key in resurrecting the personalities of 40s created characters in the modern age is to restructure certain societal traits. The one thing that Warner characters like Bugs and Daffy have been able to do is overcome any of these political hiccups because their idiosyncrasies were so universal in the first place and not based on any popular personification. Daffy still is a braggart and Bugs is a little more clever though he gets his comeuppance when he goes too far. While many of the episodes are balanced within notions of high school reunions, vacations and selling valuable property, the most interesting creations revolve within the periphery elements. “Merrie Melodies” has translated into a music video structure which includes some great odes with rap based backgrounds by Foghorn Leghorn and Marvin The Martian. The intention is cool but doesn’t seem forced. The most enjoyable of all is the Road Runner cartoons now done in 3D animation. The use of this structure adds a whole new perception, especially in one later episode which copies the structure of Japanese Samurai anime with dexterous results.

Durarara Acquiring new tendencies of anime always requires a notion of real time relevance and late night viewing structure as necessary by Adult Swim. In associating this specific title, they move away from more legacy based material like “Cowboy Bebop” and “Ghost In The Shell” which function as stalwarts. This new entry involving a set of gangs motivated against each other by crowd sourcing and hunted by a headless woman on a motorbike suggesting to be The Reaper has wanton focus especially since the lead schoolgirl is also supposedly possessed by a demon of sorts which allows her to control others. This entire intent is not based in notions of monsters or effects but instead on a simple practical groundedness which takes a lot more control and pinpoint accuracy in terms of the dialogue and set pieces much like the recent “Eden Of The East”. Finding broader storylines over a longer time might be harder as cinema texture here is not overtly high but the intrique functions quite adequately.

Thundercats This new incarnation of the famed 80s series takes a more slick, mythology-based approach to appeal to an older demographic. Gone is the overacting of Mum-Ra and replaced with a more warrior culture that is destroyed from within. Unlike the castle fortress of the last inkling, here the Thundercats are nomads searching for their destiny. It is more “MacBeth” with inlkings of “Lord Of The Rings” than a simple story of a king. The Sword Of Omens is a mystery to be unlocked with a portal that others are trying to steal. Mum-Ra, like The Emperor in “Star Wars”, is shown with a dexterity of will and more of a reason to despise the Thundercats because of their mutiny against his absolute rule generations before. The music and minimal cinematic use except when needed shows an intensive control of the elements which serves the piece well.

Wilfred Making a show about a man on the verge of suicide who he sees his neighbor’s dog as a man in a dog suit has the possibility of getting old pretty quick but not when it almost points to a Tyler Durden mentality. The fact that the basement they chill and get stoned in changes its architecture most times is a motivator to that fact. Using themes of “pride”, “acceptance” and others shows a good control of emotions and triggers which underlay the ideas of where the show wants to go. The intent starts off light but, like most FX series, begins to show a sardonic short side.Wilfred might be a figment of his new friend’s imagination but it points to a breakdown of reality changing all possibilities with dire consequences and great television if done right.

1 thought on “Imagined Iconography & Reversal Notions: New Television Shows – Summer 2011

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