Author Archive

December 1, 2011

So I couldn’t figure out how to post to the adaptation’s group so I’m posting this here.

For my adaptation series I have been watching Trueblood which is based of the Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris, I’m very interested in how television creators handle images in adaptations. What specifics from the text do they find paramount to include and what do they find expendable? Trueblood is an interesting case because violence and sex are major parts of the story. Trueblood could never be shown on a cable or network station. (Although some might argue that is you shed Trueblood of it’s sex and gore, you would have Vampire Diaries, which is doing alright for itself). Fortunately HBO does not have to adhere by the guidelines of propriety that other channels must. However, for me I think that Trueblood does something with it’s images that Hell On Wheels, in my opinion, could never get quite right. The amount of gore. Vampires drink blood. And on occasion explode into a pile of bloody remnants. However in Trueblood I am not constantly bracing myself for the gore in the way I would for Hell on Wheels. Trueblood uses gore, for the shock value but also to enhance the plot. Hell on Wheels seemed to use it frivolously without cause.

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Hell on Wheels and the Visual

November 22, 2011

From a visual stand point I have mixed emotions about Hell on Wheels. The sets are amazing and it’s apparent that a lot of money has gone into this show.However, for me, the most memorable and impressive (for lack of a better term) visual aspects is the gore. In all of my post so far I have mentioned the gore and I am starting to feel like a broken record but for all three episodes Hell on Wheels has heavily employed a lot of carnage. It would be one thing if this carnage was serving a purpose but as far as I can tell it is just blood for blood’s sake. I personally feel that Hell on Wheels should take a number out Breaking Bad’s book. Breaking Bad is no stranger to the grotesque. (I won’t go into to detail to avoid spoilers but If you know the show I think you’ll know what I’m referring to.)However, Breaking Bad uses gore sparingly and with a point. At the rate Hell on Wheels is going, it seems as the only goal in mind is to desensitize the audience. After the first three show I anticipate the gore to the point where it is boring. If they were using the carnage to illustrate how difficult life in the west could be that would be one matter but as it stands I definitely think they are overdoing it.

Narrative Complexity in Hell on Wheels

November 15, 2011

It seems to me that Hell On Wheels desperately wants to be considered a complex narrative and in due time the show may establish this kind of narrative. However at this point in the series, I can’t bring myself to care. I’m not trying to make a value judgement here. I simply bring this up because I believe that during the phase of establishment, in which a show sets up the over-arching story with character development and world building, one needs to be able to care about what is going on. In short the episodes need to be entertaining. At this point in Hell on Wheels, I don’t particularly like any of the characters. No one seems to be motivated by good or have admiral goals. (which is not to say that a character needs to be moral for them to be likable however I find that none of the characters in Hell On Wheels are at all endearing). I feel as though this shortcoming is in large part due to the creators want for narrative complexity and in their quest or complexity they have ignored the basic point of a television show, to entertain. Furthermore the amount of gore that Hell On Wheels seems to think is necessary is baffling to me. How did Lily giving herself stitches further the plot at all? How did us seeing that blood make the show more accessible to the audience?

Hell on Wheels 2011 thoughts

November 7, 2011

Genre pieces seem to have a bad reputation in our society as being frivolous or without a certain amount of artistic merit. The general consensus being that instead of enlightening people about the human condition genre pieces such as westerns are solely intended to provide an escape from the daily grind (as if providing that comfort to a mass amount of people is without merit).

I currently intern at a publishing house and was speaking to one of the editor’s about genre fiction and how recently many critics have attacked Sci-fi novels that have attempted to transcend the line into literary fiction. Many critics have ruthlessly disparaged these novels siting that sci-fi and fantasy are merely outlets for the neanderthals in our society to get a good dose of gore and blood-lust. I vehemently disagree. In my opinions genre pieces provide so much more than that as a window into a time or places that we will never be able to fully experience in our own lives.

However, the scene of Mr. Bell’s scalping makes me pause and question how important these hedonistic themes are in genre narratives (whether it be gore in a western or sex in a romance). In my opinion(and this may be the bias of a squeamish stomach), the scalping added nothing to the pilot in aesthetic appeal or plot development and to my chagrin I noted a fair amount of overtly violent instances in the pilot. Is that what the avid genre fan looks for in a pilot? Is there some truth to what the sci-fi critics have said? It seems to me that AMC might think so because the pilot seemed to rely heavily on the shock factor of spurting blood.