Netflix, 3 body problem and trash

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written by owen on 2024-Mar-26.

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I just recently got back into netflix.  I have not read the books.  I jumped into the science fiction section right away to see if there is anything new that might pique my interest.  Sad to say it is mostly the same stuff.  3 body problem (3BP) is not good at least this netflix version. And as I mentioned before I have not read the books and I do not intend to.  In a similar case I have not read the books behind The Expanse series even though I like that series adaptation much more than 3BP.  In my view books and movies are separate things.    You can consume them all but who has the time for that.

Time is another issue I find with these modern scifi soap operas.  They are very formulaic.  I watched the first episode of 3BP and by the end they showed a trailer of the rest of the 8 part series for some strange reason as if they thought the viewer would be too bored to continue.  So they were like "wait there's more!" spoiling the entire rest of the series.  I am not that easily amused.  I skipped the entire series and watch episode 7+8.  I have no regrets.

This is a trend I have noticed since I first got back into watching netflix.  Alot of these movies/series are gigantic wastes of time that exist only to send light out of the television in various colours.  Lets not even talk about the random sound modulation.  So to combat this I watch the first episode in a series and the last episode allowing my brain to fill in the blanks.  It saves me a bunch of time this way.  Usually the first episode is the wow episode then they spend the rest doing filler and explanations.  I find it super annoying.  Show do not tell is my motto.  But then the target audience really loves this trash.
In 3BP I spotted the problem right way but it was a 5 body problem.  5 people with super powers that seemed out of place.  In my mind it does not matter what they do because they exist simply as plot points to move the story to another point.  Of course this is common place in modern storytelling - writers do what they have to do to keep the view hooked but dang is it boring.  But 3BP puts a trailer into the end of the first episode which is like yup this is trash.

Writers never have enough time on television because its either a 2 hours rush or an 8 episode snooze.  I have watched Dark which I enjoyed but what is the difference?  It is hard to tell.  Maybe it is a matter of taste or time, patience or music selection - who knows?  But I can only speak from my perspective.  Thats pretty much all we can do.  You either like a thing or you don't but sometimes things start going down a path because that is nothing but trash.

I tend to like foreign movies because they are not hamstrung buy the memes of American cinema.  But even foreign movies fall pray to cinematic memes.  I recently watched "the signal" which turned out to be a classic shaggy dog story from episode 1 so I skipped to the last episode.  The last episode proved my suspicions precisely; everything they showed in episode 1 was foreshadowing for things to come.  So now the problem is that the writers directors will highlight something random as a kind of mystery box that they will reveal at some point in the future while they waste your time until the reveal.  There are clever ways to do this but most are not clever at all.  It comes off as just time wasting.

If I liked editing video I bet I could compress alot of these long drawn out stories into 1.5 hours of fat free content.  Sometimes less is more.  That being said, if you like this stuff you probably want 10 seasons.  I want to move on to something else.  I give 3BP a 6/10.  Bland characters meet up at a bar and the planets revolve around them.
There is probably a way to solve this problem of drawn out stories and shallow worlds with no meaning but I dont have the answers.  You either watch it or you don't.  You seek out new experiences or you stick to the things you know.  I appreciate the writers/directors that go to the extremes for good or bad - at least they tried.  When you go to the middle ground you are bound to miss some opportunities.

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