2017年5月3日 星期三

Legion vs. Westworld

I think Aubrey Plaza was the best thing about Legion.

What did I do last weekend?  I spent most of it in a TV coma, watching the first seasons of both Legion and Westworld.  I'll admit that I'm a bit late to the party on both of these shows, but I was waiting until I could get the full first season.  Waiting between episodes just kills me.

In a way it's not fair to compare these shows.  This is for two reasons.  First, Legion was made with a fraction of Westworld's budget.  Second, Westworld's budget allowed the producers of that show to attract top-notch stars.  Third, Legion's first season consists of only 8 hour-long episodes, whereas Westworld's consists of 9 hour-long episodes, plus an hour and a half long finale.

Westworld is/was a big deal.  It is the most-watched HBO original series ever, it's won dozens of awards, and the critics loved it.  Legion, by contrast, is a much smaller-scale affair, with fewer awards to its credit.  The RT score for Legion is actually higher than that for Westworld, though the discrepancy may have something to do with the smaller number of critics reviewing Legion.

For the record, I loved both shows.  Legion, though hampered by a smaller budget, was wonderfully surreal at times, and I'm looking forward to the second season.  Westworld meanders a bit, but the performances are great (especially Thandie Newton).  The plot twist involving Ed Harris's character in Westworld was one of the most inventive things I've seen in any TV show, ever.

Westworld - get ready for a whole lotta nudity!

This said, my biggest complaint about Legion is that sometimes the show feels like watching a college (or worse yet, high school) drama class.  The first episode of that show is, in my opinion, better than any episode of Westworld, but after the second or third episode one begins to notice the less-than remarkable sets, and the fact that the show is especially talky.  "Show don't tell" is an important guideline for storytellers, and at times Legion tells much more than it shows.

Another weak point of that show is the central character.  David isn't very likable, and a little slow on the uptake.  One begins to wish he would get on the ball, and figure more things out.  Jermaine Clement's character also doesn't have enough to do, and instead of watching him passively respond to events, it would have been better to give him more of his own agenda, and to make him more necessary to the story.

With Westworld, my only issue is that there's a little too much "walking around," and although the "walking around" narratives converge at the end, I found myself wishing that the show's writers would get to the point already.  Shortening these narratives in favor of Thandie Newton or Anthony Hopkin's characters would have made the finale more powerful, and far less repetitive.

Both series are great, and I'd encourage you to watch them if you haven't.  Both are superior to most of the movies that came out last year, and both left me wanting more.  How is David going to get out of that orb?  And will the next season of Westworld be set in feudal Japan?  Are the "corporate" elements in Westworld part of a larger park experience?  Will the Shadow King also pop up in the next season of Legion?  Or will they save him for later on?  I'm sure that in both shows, in different ways, reality will hang in the balance.  And whatever happens, they can only get weirder.

...and not only the ladies, either!

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