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Sehlat Vie

HBO's "Westworld" thread; spoilers allowed, with warnings

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8 hours ago, Sim said:

Finished the first season and I want to say... wow!

The answers provided were really satisfying, IMO. Though I think I have to watch the season a second time, to let it all really sink in.

The revelation about Gunslinger/William's identity was something I had suspected for quite a while. And I wonder if we'll get to see more of Anthony Hopkins after all?

Only thing that -- slightly, just slightly -- bothered me, was that I feel that all this deliberate fuss, the deliberate obfuscation and interlaced storytelling during most of the season didn't really serve a purpose, except straining after effect for the sake of it. The story would have been just as good, perhaps even better, if they hadn't obscured all their clues so much, and instead focused on the characters more. Perhaps I'd even be able to *like* one of the characters by the end of the season, if they hadn't avoided telling too much about them, just for the purpose of not spoiling the end revelations?

But that's just nitpicking. Really loved the show! :thumbup:

I think you've nailed my problem with it. As a show, overall, it's impossible to deny the achievement of it - it's a stunningly beautiful production with a story that's very carefully told. I admire the intricacy of it. But I had a big problem with the characters, in that I ended up not really caring about them, bar maybe a couple - most notably Thandie Newton's Maeve. A few months after viewing, I'm left with this impression that WW was worthy of my time, but it was slow and portentous, full of its own importance, and took a really long time to get to its central tenet, which was that the AIs are rebelling. Instead you got this long, interwoven prologue, all very deeply detailed - but not really that difficult to unpick, as many people did. I came way feeling that I was more impressed with it than involved in it, which ultimately, for me, is a failure of storytelling. I want to be immersed, and for that, I believe you need to be involved with the characters. They totally succeeded with Maeve which I think in huge part was due to Thandie Newton's performance. Equally, you can watch Hoppo do absolutely anything and you're immediately drawn in; the other standout being Jeffrey Wright. With these three alone, why does it feel to me less than the sum of its parts? It's certainly not a criticism of the actors because everyone in it was superb - Sidse Babette Knudsen's masterclass of registering primal fear comes to mind - so it has to be in the writing. 

I will absolutely watch the next season of WW when it trundles into view, but I don't think it's as deep and insightful as it thinks it is. That said, the hints of all the other parks in the final episode, the sense of it beginning to explore the immoral, conscience-free society beyond the parks that must have sanctioned these abominable places, is intriguing. I hope they go more down that road than the meandering tale they've presented so far. 

I hate to do this - it's never really fair - but as we've done it on the AI thread, it seems worth mentioning HUMANS, which covers a lot of similar subject matter but approaches it in a completely different way. It must have a fraction of the budget of WW, but to my mind, it explores the ramifications of having android-shaped AIs walking around from just about every direction possible (and disembodied AI too, in its latest season). Where WW needlessly lingers and admires itself, HUMANS poses questions, answers some, asks some more and moves swiftly on and the net emotional result is that you can't get enough. Your head is fairly exploding from the possibilities at the end of the season. Hell, it even has a sense of humour. I came away wanting to like WW rather than having enjoyed it, while I can't wait for season 3 of HUMANS. 

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17 minutes ago, Robin Bland said:

I think you've nailed my problem with it. As a show, overall, it's impossible to deny the achievement of it - it's a stunningly beautiful production with a story that's very carefully told. I admire the intricacy of it. But I had a big problem with the characters, in that I ended up not really caring about them, bar maybe a couple - most notably Thandie Newton's Maeve. A few months after viewing, I'm left with this impression that WW was worthy of my time, but it was slow and portentous, full of its own importance, and took a really long time to get to its central tenet, which was that the AIs are rebelling. Instead you got this long, interwoven prologue, all very deeply detailed - but not really that difficult to unpick, as many people did. I came way feeling that I was more impressed with it than involved in it, which ultimately, for me, is a failure of storytelling. I want to be immersed, and for that, I believe you need to be involved with the characters. They totally succeeded with Maeve which I think in huge part was due to Thandie Newton's performance. Equally, you can watch Hoppo do absolutely anything and you're immediately drawn in; the other standout being Jeffrey Wright. With these three alone, why does it feel to me less than the sum of its parts? It's certainly not a criticism of the actors because everyone in it was superb - Sidse Babette Knudsen's masterclass of registering primal fear comes to mind - so it has to be in the writing. 

I will absolutely watch the next season of WW when it trundles into view, but I don't think it's as deep and insightful as it thinks it is. That said, the hints of all the other parks in the final episode, the sense of it beginning to explore the immoral, conscience-free society beyond the parks that must have sanctioned these abominable places, is intriguing. I hope they go more down that road than the meandering tale they've presented so far. 

I hate to do this - it's never really fair - but as we've done it on the AI thread, it seems worth mentioning HUMANS, which covers a lot of similar subject matter but approaches it in a completely different way. It must have a fraction of the budget of WW, but to my mind, it explores the ramifications of having android-shaped AIs walking around from just about every direction possible (and disembodied AI too, in its latest season). Where WW needlessly lingers and admires itself, HUMANS poses questions, answers some, asks some more and moves swiftly on and the net emotional result is that you can't get enough. Your head is fairly exploding from the possibilities at the end of the season. Hell, it even has a sense of humour. I came away wanting to like WW rather than having enjoyed it, while I can't wait for season 3 of HUMANS. 

Yeah I agree, the actors are really outstanding, not least Thandie Newton. And I hope once the stage is set, the next season will be more straight-to-the point... which leaves me with the impression that maybe, when rewatching the whole of the series years later, it won't hurt much to skip most of the first season? We'll see...

While I wasn't really able to particularly like a character, there are several I at least find very intriguing. Usually, a show requires a character to like for me to enjoy it (well okay, strangely enough, "Nip/Tuck" somewhat immersed me, although I hated all its characters, no idea how they did it), but "Westworld" managed to fascinate me, even without a character to root for. Guess that means it really isn't bad.

As for "Humans": I understand there is a Scandinavian show, and an American remake? Which of both would you recommend?

Edited by Sim

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6 minutes ago, Robin Bland said:

I think you've nailed my problem with it. As a show, overall, it's impossible to deny the achievement of it - it's a stunningly beautiful production with a story that's very carefully told. I admire the intricacy of it. But I had a big problem with the characters, in that I ended up not really caring about them, bar maybe a couple - most notably Thandie Newton's Maeve. A few months after viewing, I'm left with this impression that WW was worthy of my time, but it was slow and portentous, full of its own importance, and took a really long time to get to its central tenet, which was that the AIs are rebelling. Instead you got this long, interwoven prologue, all very deeply detailed - but not really that difficult to unpick, as many people did. I came way feeling that I was more impressed with it than involved in it, which ultimately, for me, is a failure of storytelling. I want to be immersed, and for that, I believe you need to be involved with the characters. They totally succeeded with Maeve which I think in huge part was due to Thandie Newton's performance. Equally, you can watch Hoppo do absolutely anything and you're immediately drawn in; the other standout being Jeffrey Wright. With these three alone, why does it feel to me less than the sum of its parts? It's certainly not a criticism of the actors because everyone in it was superb - Sidse Babette Knudsen's masterclass of registering primal fear comes to mind - so it has to be in the writing. 

I will absolutely watch the next season of WW when it trundles into view, but I don't think it's as deep and insightful as it thinks it is. That said, the hints of all the other parks in the final episode, the sense of it beginning to explore the immoral, conscience-free society beyond the parks that must have sanctioned these abominable places, is intriguing. I hope they go more down that road than the meandering tale they've presented so far. 

I hate to do this - it's never really fair - but as we've done it on the AI thread, it seems worth mentioning HUMANS, which covers a lot of similar subject matter but approaches it in a completely different way. It must have a fraction of the budget of WW, but to my mind, it explores the ramifications of having android-shaped AIs walking around from just about every direction possible (and disembodied AI too, in its latest season). Where WW needlessly lingers and admires itself, HUMANS poses questions, answers some, asks some more and moves swiftly on and the net emotional result is that you can't get enough. Your head is fairly exploding from the possibilities at the end of the season. Hell, it even has a sense of humour. I came away wanting to like WW rather than having enjoyed it, while I can't wait for season 3 of HUMANS. 

^
While I very much enjoy the slower, more deliberate pace of WW, I agree that HUMANS tells much of the same story but without all the bells and flourishes.  It's more efficient storytelling.   I guess part of the giddy thrill for me with WW is seeing a science fiction show getting the opulent HBO treatment as opposed to living in constant fear of cancelation in the darkened alleyways of the CW slums.    And I think the slower, more deliberate pacing kind of lulls me into a weird 'hypnosis' when I watch; it's like I fall under the spell of the park, as much as the guests do.   

HUMANS is scrappier, leaner and meaner.   The economy-scaled answer to Blade Runner.   WW is "How the West was Won" version of the AI story but in Todd-AO CineramaTM and full surround sound.   Overproduced perhaps, but very enjoyable all the same.  And yes, I agree that it IS a bit too in love with itself, but I think that may be part of its appeal for me; the deliberate decadence and opulence is like reading a slow-burning science fiction novel rather than rushing through a 42 minute, flop-sweating pilot that's in danger of cancelation before it's even broadcast (such as the recent "Time After Time" opened to low ratings last Sunday night and is already on the chopping block, from what I've read).  And I agree that Thandie Newton's Maeve is just pure awesomeness; so help me, if she ever leaves the show, I'd be tempted to follow.  I also enjoy Evan Rachel Wood as well; the actress can go from sweet-faced cliched ingenue to blank-slate machine in the blink of an eye.   

Each have their virtues, and both arguably tell the same basic story (the rise of AI), but I'm just glad I live in a world where I can have both.   What a great age of television science fiction that we have TWO series about emergent artificial intelligence at the same time!  :thumbup:

 

Note: I need to catch up on HUMANS S2 as well; I missed the first few and I'm going to watch them on AMC.com.    We've changed DVRs since it was last on, and I forgot to program it on the new one because, well, I'm a doofus...:P

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19 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

^
 I guess part of the giddy thrill for me with WW is seeing a science fiction show getting the opulent HBO treatment as opposed to living in constant fear of cancelation in the darkened alleyways of the CW slums.    And I think the slower, more deliberate pacing kind of lulls me into a weird 'hypnosis' when I watch; it's like I fall under the spell of the park, as much as the guests do.   

HUMANS is scrappier, leaner and meaner.   The economy-scaled answer to Blade Runner.   WW is "How the West was Won" version of the AI story but in Todd-AO CineramaTM and full surround sound.   Overproduced perhaps, but very enjoyable all the same.  And yes, I agree that it IS a bit too in love with itself, but I think that may be part of its appeal for me; the deliberate decadence and opulence is like reading a slow-burning science fiction novel rather than rushing through a 42 minute, flop-sweating pilot that's in danger of cancelation before it's even broadcast (such as the recent "Time After Time" opened to low ratings last Sunday night and is already on the chopping block, from what I've read).  And I agree that Thandie Newton's Maeve is just pure awesomeness; so help me, if she ever leaves the show, I'd be tempted to follow.  I also enjoy Evan Rachel Wood as well; the actress can go from sweet-faced cliched ingenue to blank-slate machine in the blink of an eye.  

That's a good point, WW certainly does have a unique atmosphere -- almost hypnotizing, as you say. The slow pace isn't all bad. Though I guess the show could use a tad more "meat and potatos" after all. But that's probably inevitable anyway, after this season finale. :)

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54 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

^
While I very much enjoy the slower, more deliberate pace of WW, I agree that HUMANS tells much of the same story but without all the bells and flourishes.  It's more efficient storytelling.   I guess part of the giddy thrill for me with WW is seeing a science fiction show getting the opulent HBO treatment as opposed to living in constant fear of cancelation in the darkened alleyways of the CW slums.    And I think the slower, more deliberate pacing kind of lulls me into a weird 'hypnosis' when I watch; it's like I fall under the spell of the park, as much as the guests do.   

HUMANS is scrappier, leaner and meaner.   The economy-scaled answer to Blade Runner.   WW is "How the West was Won" version of the AI story but in Todd-AO CineramaTM and full surround sound.   Overproduced perhaps, but very enjoyable all the same.  And yes, I agree that it IS a bit too in love with itself, but I think that may be part of its appeal for me; the deliberate decadence and opulence is like reading a slow-burning science fiction novel rather than rushing through a 42 minute, flop-sweating pilot that's in danger of cancelation before it's even broadcast (such as the recent "Time After Time" opened to low ratings last Sunday night and is already on the chopping block, from what I've read).  And I agree that Thandie Newton's Maeve is just pure awesomeness; so help me, if she ever leaves the show, I'd be tempted to follow.  I also enjoy Evan Rachel Wood as well; the actress can go from sweet-faced cliched ingenue to blank-slate machine in the blink of an eye.   

Each have their virtues, and both arguably tell the same basic story (the rise of AI), but I'm just glad I live in a world where I can have both.   What a great age of television science fiction that we have TWO series about emergent artificial intelligence at the same time!  :thumbup:

 

Note: I need to catch up on HUMANS S2 as well; I missed the first few and I'm going to watch them on AMC.com.    We've changed DVRs since it was last on, and I forgot to program it on the new one because, well, I'm a doofus...:P

 

WW has many virtues, I agree. I'm not being harshly critical and I enjoyed the languid pace and sense of opulence, too. But I do think it's fair to criticize it for what it lacked, and there's definitely an issue with the viewer getting a sense of purchase on any of the characters, Maeve excepted. You don't have to like them, you don't even have to be intrigued by them - just by what they do. (Okay, Hoppo's Ford, yes.) The first season was a deliberate puzzle box, but it was one that most viewers had solved halfway through the season, which leaves you with the characters only to draw you through to the endgame. This is where it flagged and when my impatience became a bit more of a desire for them to get on with telling the story, and tell us more about the characters and this world they inhabit.  

 

31 minutes ago, Sim said:

That's a good point, WW certainly does have a unique atmosphere -- almost hypnotizing, as you say. The slow pace isn't all bad. Though I guess the show could use a tad more "meat and potatos" after all. But that's probably inevitable anyway, after this season finale. :)

 

Full marks for all the above, as noted. But I also think it's fair to criticize it for what it chose to promote over its other virtues, so yeah, no-one's going to quibble about the scale and beauty of its production values, which were all there on the screen. But I can't help but feel some of this was obfuscation, for the producers having more of interest in the impact the show would have, and their clever methods of storytelling (which everyone guessed) rather than simply getting us, the viewers, involved in the fates of the characters. Well, they did do this with Maeve, which is why the show gets a strong pass from me. Ford's end was elegant writing. But it took so damn long to get there I ended up feeling like a spectator rather than a viewer with vested interest in what happened at the end. I'd invested time, but not enough emotion. It's this lack that I hope they address in future episodes - an inevitability, as you say. Here's hoping!

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21 minutes ago, Robin Bland said:

 

WW has many virtues, I agree. I'm not being harshly critical and I enjoyed the languid pace and sense of opulence, too. But I do think it's fair to criticize it for what it lacked, and there's definitely an issue with the viewer getting a sense of purchase on any of the characters, Maeve excepted. You don't have to like them, you don't even have to be intrigued by them - just by what they do. (Okay, Hoppo's Ford, yes.) The first season was a deliberate puzzle box, but it was one that most viewers had solved halfway through the season, which leaves you with the characters only to draw you through to the endgame. This is where it flagged and when my impatience became a bit more of a desire for them to get on with telling the story, and tell us more about the characters and this world they inhabit.  

 

 

Full marks for all the above, as noted. But I also think it's fair to criticize it for what it chose to promote over its other virtues, so yeah, no-one's going to quibble about the scale and beauty of its production values, which were all there on the screen. But I can't help but feel some of this was obfuscation, for the producers having more of interest in the impact the show would have, and their clever methods of storytelling (which everyone guessed) rather than simply getting us, the viewers, involved in the fates of the characters. Well, they did do this with Maeve, which is why the show gets a strong pass from me. Ford's end was elegant writing. But it took so damn long to get there I ended up feeling like a spectator rather than a viewer with vested interest in what happened at the end. I'd invested time, but not enough emotion. It's this lack that I hope they address in future episodes - an inevitability, as you say. Here's hoping!

Yeah, I very much agree that S2 could get a bit quicker to the point.   They've established the hell out of the opulent appointments of the series.  Now it's time to, as Sim says, give us a bit more 'meat and potatoes'; enough with the appetizers.

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