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Friday, March 2, 2012

Last Week in TV #22

February sweeps ended this week, and I'm not gonna lie: I'm looking forward to most shows taking a month off, just to get caught back up on stuff (Glee is taking about six weeks off, so I'll use that time to catch up on it next week, and I still haven't watched this week's Top Chef finale). Anyways, here's what I've got this week.

The Walking Dead: Triggerfinger


I actually did watch this two week's ago, but as we learned from last week's post, I just plum forgot about it. Which is odd, because it was a very solid episode, and it was good to have an episode that improved on the premiere instead of being a step back. Thankfully, the bar siege began and ended within the episode and didn't drag on too long, and the closing scene, in which Lori finally lays it all on the table for Rick regarding Shane, was fantastic, especially as it's been about about six episodes coming (though if Lori really wanted to rile Rick up, she should have mentioned the attempted rape; I'm not quite sure why she didn't). Speaking of Shane, for once I didn't disagree with one of his dickish moves, as lying to get Lori back to the farm was the smart play, since she had no business being out there in the first place. All in all, the energy level barely dipped from the previous episode, and that's a good sign for the rest of the season.

18 Miles


Another good episode that benefited from a focus on Rick and Shane, the execution of another tense action sequence, and the continued examination of what "doing the right thing" means in this world by throwing one hard choice after another at the characters (instead of, you know, just having them talk about it). It started with a fantastic (though oddly shot) scene between Rick and Shane in which Rick finally called Shane on his BS, which then escalated into a knockdown, drag-out fight between the two, and finally, a desperate escape from a horde of walkers. My only complaint with this portion of the episode, really, is that at the end, I would have liked Rick to make the subtext inherent to his going back for Shane text. Usually, I appreciate shows leaving it to the audience to make these connections, but in this case, I don't think Shane really realized that if Rick behaved the way Shane is always advocating he should behave, Shane would be dead right now. So it's one of those rare cases where the audience catches the subtext, but the character doesn't, and he needs to.

There was also that whole business with Suicide Girl, and while it led to an awesome bitch off between Andrea and Lori (in which I thought both were being stupid but since I like neither character, I enjoyed each of them ripping into the other) but was otherwise perfunctory, mainly because we have no reason to care about this girl (what's her name? Beth?), nor has the show tried to give us any, beyond the fact that Maggie cares about her, which only concerns us because Glenn cares about Maggie, and Glenn is character we like (and that's an awful lot of "Six Degress of Separation" for a character to go through in order to generate audience sympathy).

Other Thoughts
My only other problem with this episode, which isn't this episode's fault, is that judging by the sneak peak to next week's ep, Shane has learned nothing from this experience, making the whole thing retroactively feel like a waste of time, character-wise (even if the action was nice).

I had to stop and double check that I hadn't skipped an episode (I've done it before) but as someone who wants more narrative urgency from this show, I greatly appreciated that we skipped a week ahead, past Randall's recovery, and dove right into the meat of the episode. 

So what do you make of the lone walker Shane observed on the way out of and back to the farm? A figment of his imagination? A sign he's cracking up? A symbol of the fact that's he still in it for himself?

How about that discussion about the two cops who didn't look like they had any bites? Is that an indication that the zombie virus is mutating/going airborne, or something else? 

I don't like Andrea much, but her calling out the fact that being the main character's wife has its fringe benefits was kind of funny in a meta way.

Also, was it just me, or is Lori operating under some hilariously outdated and sexist notions of labor division? I get the idea that everyone needs to pull their own weight, but it seems like she thinks Andrea should be cooking and washing just because she's a girl. Does Lori harass Dale or Glenn or Black Guy or Daryl for not pitching in? Andrea is performing a necessary function, and there's no reason one of the guys couldn't be doing a portion of the housework while Andrea keeps watch.

I get that it's TV and you have to let some of these things go, but jeez, what with all the open wounds he received fighting Shane and all the zombie blood splattered by blasting through skulls at close range with a .357 Magnum, you'd think Rick would be all zombified now.


How I Met Your Mother: Karma


While Barney's ignorance and Ted's general ineffectiveness at everything he tried to do to get Robin out of his head were generally pretty funny and solid hooks to hang a story on, and the episode as a whole did a nice job of handling the fallout from last week's episode, the whole "Robin doesn't like the 'burbs, neither do Marshall and Lily" plot was disappointing. City folk not being able to handle suburban life is pretty cliche at this point, especially for shows that make a big deal out of their city setting like this one does, and this particular iteration did little to avoid that cliche (and I'm not saying that just because I've lived my entire life in the 'burbs).

It makes narrative sense for Marshall and Lily to be back in the city, and Ted handing over his apartment to them was a sweet moment (though seriously, how many homes have those two just been given now? They received a house and an apartment free of charge this season, and presumably still have their place in Dowisetrepla), but it would have been better if their motivation for moving back into the city was born of something more than the usual "we love the city/can't handle the 'burbs" schtick (especially when Marshall himself has expressed a fondness for the suburbs before, back when Ted almost moved in with Stella in Jersey).

Other Thoughts
Cliche aside, Robin's Jane Goodall-esque observations of suburban life were pretty funny.

Dr. Bitz pointed out that Robin, of all people, should be used to the suburbs, having grown up in the wilds of Canada.

Dr. Bitz also pointed out that TV strip clubs are lame. He is correct. 

Seriously, aren't Lily and Marshall sick of moving their stuff around by now?

Any guesses on where Ted might end up now? A generic new apartment set? Living with Barney? I joked that he'd probably just find a place with Robin.

I didn't talk about it much, but the Quinn/Barney plot was pretty good. The two actors have more chemistry together than Robin and Kal Penn ever had, and even though I think the storyline is, in general, a dead-end retread of a story they've already done, I don't mind her sticking around for awhile.

Robin: Also, Diary, I think writing in you is stupid, but you were a gift from Lily, and she’s watching me right now.

Ted: I like smoking meat, but I have a new passion: wood.
Robin: You hear these things that come out of your mouth?

Barney: Well, at my job we don’t rip out people’s hearts for money. My company briefly backed a lab in North Korea that did, but we sold it.


Alcatraz: Johnny McKee


We're back in "childhood trauma triggers criminal MO" territory, but it's been awhile since we had one of those, and this episodes continues the recent string of balancing mythology with case of the week material. In the past, we got a compelling story with a few surprises (maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I figured McKee was going to kill the librarian, and the Ginny reveal was also a surprise, as I figured she'd been scarred by the jocks and that motivated McKee's attacks on bullies). In the present, the return of Jack Sylvane offered up some more hints at the larger mythology, which piqued Madsen's interest in the bigger picture even more. And while McKee's present day rampage was pretty basic procedural stuff, it managed to address most of my concerns with it (like how he was able to get those jobs so fast). While none of the episodes have yet to be game changers in their excellence, the 'Traz has put together a nice little string of episodes with consistent quality and a nice balance between the show's two styles.

Other Thoughts
The treatments used to attempt to revive Lucy were much less spectacular than I was expecting, but the idea that she's staying in a coma because dream world is better than the real world is intriguing.

I liked the bit about Hauser deleting all the instances of the YouTube video; probably not possible, but I appreciate that the show made the effort to remind us that Hauser and company are trying to keep the whole "time traveling Alcatraz inmates" thing a secret. 

Similarly, I appreciated the scene where McKee seemed confused by the idea of watching something on a phone. While I understand watching people ask "so what's this internet thing all about?" doesn't make for the most dynamic of TV, I wouldn't mind more scenes like that.

Also along those lines, I'm still curious what leads these criminals to just pick up their criminal habits, no questions asked. I get that in many cases its a psychosis, but I'd think the shock of waking up in the future would manifest itself in some way other than going about business as usual.

So the 63ers don't dream anymore. A little poetic touch, or something more? And how does it tie in to Lucy, who we've seen in the past, and is currently too enraptured by her dreams to regain consciousness?

17 comments:

  1. Yeah, i don't know why Lori is so bent on archaic gender rolls. I mean, yeah, i don't think Andrea pulls her weight, but suggesting she help with the cookin' and cleanin' is BS. God i can't stand Lori. Or Andrea.
    I just don't understand how Andrea can't see the disconnect between her suicaidal thoughts and Beth's, who is, like what, 16? She's a minor (i think) and the adults are responsible for her.

    And seriously, why didn't Lori mention the attempted rape? Unless she just wanted Rick to be more aware of the shane situation as opposed to having Shane driven out of the group. But, that only makes sense if she didn't do something crazy, like drive off by herself to tell rick the rumor that Shane killed what's his name.

    My first thought about the two dead cops was that if you die you turn into a zomb, regardless if whether you were bitten or scratched. A blogger pal had the same theory but he took it one step further and said that he thinks it's related to what the CDC guy whipsered to rick at the end of last season. Maybe he told rick that you can turn zomb if you die, which would help explain why rick is so anti-killing people and why, after he shot the second guy in the bar, he double-tapped him in the head.
    Blogger friend also thinks Lori's baby will die in the womb and then become a zomb, but i have my doubts about that since that's a bit too "twilight" imop.

    And that's all i have to say about that.

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  2. @Sarah: Maybe he told rick that you can turn zomb if you die, which would help explain why rick is so anti-killing people and why, after he shot the second guy in the bar, he double-tapped him in the head.

    (Not that you'll see this since Blogger no longer allows comment subscription, but...)

    Interesting (especially the second shot to the head bit). I definitely think that whatever Jenner told Rick at the CDC is related to whatever the dead cops not having bite marks was meant to imply, I'm just not sure what.

    Blogger friend also thinks Lori's baby will die in the womb and then become a zomb, but i have my doubts about that since that's a bit too "twilight" imop.

    While that would indeed be a bit Twilight-y for my taste, Lori being killed by her zombie fetus would be a pretty awesome way to get rid of an annoying character.

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  3. Do you ever get the feeling that the writers forgot (intentionally or otherwise) about the attempted rape scene? It's NEVER brought up.

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  4. @Bitz- i sometimes wonder that. i mean- it was so immediately forgotten about that i actually almost forgot about it until we started bringing it up every time Shane's a dick (which is pretty much every ep now)
    @Sarah- nice use of the word Double Tap
    I really wish Shane had left the group and taken Andrea with him. Then i'd only have to be annoyed by Lori- much more manageable.
    I really think the solution to their prisoner problem (now that they know he know's Maggie) is slave labor (assuming you don't just want to kill him). Keep him around, make him do shitty jobs, but feed him and treat him ok. Eventually he won't want to leave because at least what he has is safe and can be relied upon.

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  5. oh i'll see this. i always check back at you blog, so no worries there.

    Yeah, i mean, almost being raped, imop, is a big fucking deal. I have a hard time believing that she doesn't have more a problem with that and with Shane in general

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  6. I'm looking forward to most shows taking a month off, just to get caught back up on stuff

    Sing it, brother!

    The Walking Dead: Triggerfinger, 18 Miles Out

    if Lori really wanted to rile Rick up, she should have mentioned the attempted rape; I'm not quite sure why she didn't

    I'm just speculating, but she might — might — be together enough to realize that doing so could send Rick apeshit crazy. She's doling out just enough info the right way, literally whispering in his ear that Shane thinks she's his, without pushing Rick into such an emotional state that he's no longer any good to the group. Lori's clearly always been behind Rick, but I never really bought into Andrea's* snipes that Lori relishes her role as First Lady until now; she has now revealed herself, whether it's the writers' explicit intentions or not, to be both conniving and stupid.

    [*I can't even remember her name, let alone the farm folks' names. Until I saw her name come up later in your post, I actually typed out "Marita Covarrubias" rather than look her name up.]

    No surprise, I agree with you that both the action in "Triggerfinger" and the fact that they got out of town at the end was an admirable course. We had every right to worry a few weeks ago that things would get bogged down at the bar or nearby with our trio fighting Others.

    I don't think Shane really realized that if Rick behaved the way Shane is always advocating he should behave, Shane would be dead right now. So it's one of those rare cases where the audience catches the subtext, but the character doesn't, and he needs to.

    I agree with you there, too, if only because I got out of the scene what you're saying without, I admit, realizing it on a conscious level.

    Did we not see... wait... Beth actually waking up? I had to stop the episode and make sure I hadn't missed one, since I saw this week's late and my time gauge was off. Honestly, I had a lot on my mind the previous week and could well have missed it, but seeing her up 'n' around surprised me — even if, like you said yourself, the episode does inform us that a week has gone by.

    And she asked, more or less, "I've known Jimmy for three months and now we're married?" (a great, rueful question in this brave new world, BTW). I had to look up Jimmy's name just now, but more to the point I can't even remember him. Frankly, too, I thought that Beth was Maggie's half-sister, yet Maggie kept referring to her their mother in a way that didn't just seem like she was calling her stepmother their mother out of Southern politeness and/or zombie-apocalypse don't-stand-on-ceremony shorthand. We for sure met Herschel, Maggie, Otis, the stepmom, and Beth when we first saw the farm, in order of how much they've registered with me, and who-all is there beyond that I don't even know despite us seeing at least one group dinner.

    So what do you make of the lone walker Shane observed on the way out of and back to the farm?

    Honestly, I took it two far more shallow ways: (1) On the first glimpse, I just interpreted Shane's long stare as a longing to get out his pistol and shoot it, but Boss-Man Rick had just speechified on how they had to conserve ammo. (2) When it was still there on the return trip, I thought that it was maybe a marker of the passage of time and a commentary on how time passes for the living vs. the walkers — it hasn't ambled far, but unlike our heroes it can keep going in mindless pursuance of its one ambition.

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  7. How about that discussion about the two cops who didn't look like they had any bites? Is that an indication that the zombie virus is mutating/going airborne, or something else? 

    That struck me as weird. I also kind-of hated the fact that they explicitly brought up that a scratch, not just a bite, can transmit the walking death and yet here was Rick (and later Shane) deliberately cutting his hand open to smear blood as bait — a fine tactic, maybe, if it didn't create an open wound in the same unprotected body part that in hand-to-hand combat comes in closest proximity to the walkers' viscera.

    Of course the two cops were also there, I thought, as a not-so-subtle emotional touchstone spurring Rick to not leave his former partner behind.

    I don't like Andrea much, but her calling out the fact that being the main character's wife has its fringe benefits was kind of funny in a meta way.

    Yeah. I didn't quite find it distracting, since her good fortune was a narrative point, but I also found it funny that we know her son's okay because she's the first-billed female character and the (pregnant) Lori / Rick / Carl family unit, especially with Sophia gone, is Our Hope for the Future.

    it seems like she thinks Andrea should be cooking and washing just because she's a girl

    Not just you...

    How I Met Your Mother: Karma

    If Robin and/or Ted doesn't move into Lily & Marshall's apartment, this will all be even dumber. And it's already kind-of dumb. The show really didn't need to go to all this trouble to have the viewers and the characters accept the move out to the 'burbs just to do a 180. It feels like not so much a cheat but just a waste.

    even though I think the storyline is, in general, a dead-end retread of a story they've already done, I don't mind her sticking around for awhile

    The chemistry is there, it's true, moreso also I think than it was between Barney and... oh, Girl He Dumped When He Realized He Was In Love with Robin... Nora! Yet we were supposed to think that Barney finally had something real with her, too, and that what he had with her still couldn't surmount his feelings for Robin, so to have him move on from Robin now in another unusually adult relationship seems like bad plotting-for-the-sake-of-forward-movement. In actual life of course emotion can surprise you and timing can be everything. It actually not only cheapens the reveal of whomever Barney's marrying but cheapens the endearing cheapness of the traditional Barney Stinson horndoggery to give him this many romantic epiphanies, Nora and Robin and potentially Quinn, in rapid succession; I kinda wanted Karma/Quinn to just be playing him, period.

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  8. Alcatraz: Johnny McKee

    I echo your comments on Hauser's deletion of the viral videos as well as McKee's surprise over watching something on a phone. Except that the latter should be more culture shock than bemusement. I would like them to address this more, but only if they really get into it; otherwise I would almost rather they just gloss over it completely since until now the lack of the inmates' wonder (or paralysis) in the face of modern technology and cultural mores has been read by me as some kind of inherent adjustment (knowledge download, curiosity dampening, whatever) made during the time travel itself — which feeds into your subsequent points about picking up where they left off (or in the case of Guy Hastings blindly following orders and/or some kind of primal impetus).

    Sarah: A blogger pal had the same theory but he took it one step further and said that he thinks it's related to what the CDC guy whipsered to rick at the end of last season.

    Hmm... I've not really thought about that in a while, but since it apparently wasn't about Lori's pregnancy there is still that shoe to drop.

    Teebore: Not that you'll see this since Blogger no longer allows comment subscription,

    I just did a search on this and your comment came up first. I backed you up, of course. I wrote something about the ugly new comments page and lack of notice from Blogger myself yesterday.

    Teebore: Lori being killed by her zombie fetus would be a pretty awesome way to get rid of an annoying character.

    I'm trying to determine how bad to feel for finding that a neat idea. 8^)

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  9. "So it's one of those rare cases where the audience catches the subtext, but the character doesn't, and he needs to.

    and...

    "Shane has learned nothing from this experience, making the whole thing retroactively feel like a waste of time, character-wise."

    I disagree with this assessment. I think the whole point of the episode was that Shane didn't learn a lesson. We have been trained to want and even to expect redemption, but I believe the point of the episode was to show that Shane is past the point of redeeming himself.

    So I think it wasn't a waste of time precisely because they went through the whole ordeal including Rick's rescue of Shane, only to wind up with Shane still feeling the way he always felt.

    That's what I took away from it, anyway.

    I can't wait to see what you write about last night's episode!!!

    "Dr. Bitz also pointed out that TV strip clubs are lame. He is correct."

    Well, on network TV anyway. Obviously HBO, Showtime, etc. can get away with much more, but even FX and AMC can do a better job of it that CBS.

    The thing that always gets me is that whenever they're at the "strip club" on HIMYM, I'm completely removed from the scene as I admire how clean and well-lit the place is.

    "Blogger no longer allows comment subscription..."

    Oh, okay. I just thought I was doing something wrong. But what the heck? I found that a very useful feature!

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  10. Though now that I think about it, the clean, well-lit strip club could be the version that future Ted describes to his kids, in the same fashion as his descriptions of his and Marshal's occasional indulgence in "sandwiches".

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  11. As I was going over my notes for past LWITVs, I found a question that I forgot to ask about this week's 'Traz, which is this: Why is Hauser reading the first line from the middle of the book? It's a most likely rhetorical prop/continuity-error question, granted, but still valid. Shows and movies usually have characters open to the middle of a book because the relative symmetry of the object scans better to viewers (and the book is probably less awkward to hold), but that's an out-of-universe explanation; for a No-Prize I'd have to submit that the book was a collection of Ovid's work that didn't start with his Metamorphoses, although one suspects that the type would have to be awfully tiny. -- Rascally Roy

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  12. Technically, the tweet Teebore was referring to was:

    "Also, is it just me or are network TV strip clubs the lamest places in the world?"

    And, along with the How I Met Your Mother strip club, I was also thinking of the Landing Strip in Friday Night Lights. (Again, network TV.)

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  13. @Dr. Bitz: Do you ever get the feeling that the writers forgot (intentionally or otherwise) about the attempted rape scene? It's NEVER brought up.

    Sometimes, yeah. It does seem odd. I think Lori's mentioned it, like, once since it happened.

    @Anne: Keep him around, make him do shitty jobs, but feed him and treat him ok. Eventually he won't want to leave because at least what he has is safe and can be relied upon.

    Interesting idea. They could just make Shane his warden. Keep 'em both busy...

    @Sarah: I have a hard time believing that she doesn't have more a problem with that and with Shane in general

    Yeah, I agree. I'd have a hard time looking at him/not hitting him, let alone hanging out, eating, etc. I don't care what he did for you before.

    @Blam: I'm just speculating, but she might — might — be together enough to realize that doing so could send Rick apeshit crazy.

    That could be, though if she really wants Shane gone, that might be the best way to bring it about.

    We had every right to worry a few weeks ago that things would get bogged down at the bar or nearby with our trio fighting Others.

    So far, this second half of the season has displayed a fleetness I never would have thought possible.

    Did we not see... wait... Beth actually waking up?

    We did not, which is one of the reasons I had to stop and double check I hadn't skipped an episode, simply because this show usually doesn't utilize that kind of narrative jump.

    and who-all is there beyond that I don't even know despite us seeing at least one group dinner.Honestly, I took it two far more shallow ways

    I wouldn't call either of those shallow. I definitely can see the first one, as a symbol of Shane's impotence at that moment, caused by Rick.

    a fine tactic, maybe, if it didn't create an open wound in the same unprotected body part that in hand-to-hand combat comes in closest proximity to the walkers' viscera.

    Ah, good point. I was so fixated on the inadvertent wounds caused by their fight getting infected I totally overlooked the wounds they inflicted themselves.

    It feels like not so much a cheat but just a waste.

    Agreed on all the points you raised.

    I kinda wanted Karma/Quinn to just be playing him, period.

    I would not have objected to that, at all.

    the lack of the inmates' wonder (or paralysis) in the face of modern technology and cultural mores has been read by me as some kind of inherent adjustment (knowledge download, curiosity dampening, whatever) made during the time travel itself

    That is an excellent point. Maybe the bemusement, rather than extreme shock, is a result of that? Nevertheless, I agree: the show needs to pick a side and stick with it. Either the cons are prepared for the culture shock somehow, or they're not.

    I'm trying to determine how bad to feel for finding that a neat idea. 8^)

    Me too...

    for a No-Prize I'd have to submit that the book was a collection of Ovid's work that didn't start with his Metamorphoses, although one suspects that the type would have to be awfully tiny.

    Haha! Good enough for me. Your No-Prize is en route.

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  14. @Matt: So I think it wasn't a waste of time precisely because they went through the whole ordeal including Rick's rescue of Shane, only to wind up with Shane still feeling the way he always felt.

    I obviously didn't read it that way at first, but I can buy that. And you're right: we're innately expecting redemption, but should Shane go full-on villain, than the events of this episode are as much forward motion on that front as anything else.

    Though even if Shane does turn to the dark side, I'd still like to see him consciously acknowledge Rick's actions here. Admit that Rick's way kept him alive, but he doesn't care, he still wants to do things his way. Something like that.

    Mainly, I just want Shane to shut up and realize he's not always 100% right. :)

    I'm completely removed from the scene as I admire how clean and well-lit the place is.

    That, even more so than, you know, the lack of naked ladies, is what pulls me out too.

    Though now that I think about it, the clean, well-lit strip club could be the version that future Ted describes to his kids, in the same fashion as his descriptions of his and Marshal's occasional indulgence in "sandwiches".

    That could be, though the show usually makes a point to call out those narrative substitutions when they happen.

    But what the heck? I found that a very useful feature!

    Indeed. But by now you've read my rant about that...


    @Dr. Bitz: I was also thinking of the Landing Strip in Friday Night Lights.

    The Landing Strip is an awesome name for a strip club.

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  15. Teebore: Either the cons are prepared for the culture shock somehow, or they're not.

    Yeah. I mean, it's 2012, which sounds like a ridiculous future year to me and I've now lived a quarter of my life in this millenium. Since 1963 men have walked on the moon, the Berlin Wall has fallen, the USSR has come apart, we've had advances in personal-computing and media technology that even Star Trek didn't anticipate (not that the inmates would know what Star Trek is), and we have a "Negro" President who is, even more to the point given that miscegenation laws were still on the books 50 years ago, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya. These guys should be less bemused that video can be accessed on your phone like Dick Tracy's TV wristwatch and more stunned that live instant video can be transmitted via this Internet thing all around the world in the first place.

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  16. @Blam: These guys should be less bemused that video can be accessed on your phone like Dick Tracy's TV wristwatch and more stunned that live instant video can be transmitted via this Internet thing all around the world in the first place.

    Well said throughout. Perhaps an in-universe explanation for their lack of curiosity/shock at the state of the world would be the best way to go, since to properly address the culture shock would probably result in a wild deviation from the purpose of the show, and thus end up feeling necessarily half-hearted.

    Better instead to sidestep that entirely and just explain why the time travelers aren't more freaked out by the world of tomorrow, today!

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