Has everyone read TVGuide.ca’s Fearless Predictions? Good. Their snark puts our snark to shame.
Welcome to the second in a series of post-season Venice: The Series commentaries. I am rysler and I like counting. kelinswriter is with us in spirit (kelinswriter: I’m going to spend much of next week drugged, naked, and unconscious, and not in a fun way…) so please keep her in your thoughts. jaina47 is here live from Alabama, despite five eight inches of snow!
Tonight’s topic is Season Two Annoyances We Just Couldn’t Ignore Any Longer OMG.
(this screenshot is apropos of nothing, I just think it’s adorable. We’re all here to have fun, right?)
We aren’t going to critique acting choices or character experiences. First, “Owen’s Dumbest Moments” and “Lara: Sincere or Insincere” have already been analyzed by the recaps.
Second, the three of us are about the hardest people in the world to offend, in general. (In specific, well… read on!) A BJOD next season is only going to make us go, “Well… okay.”
Third, by the time the story makes it to the screen, it’s, well, what you see is what you get. Rarely are the story problems an actor’s fault. Casting might be an issue, but not acting. Venice is already a triumph in both regards. Besides, we are not here to kill the messengers of the story.
Fourth, it’s possible we’re wrong. That a genius metaphor or plot point was missed. That a production choice had a resonance we did not hear. Or that there was something so egregious that you, dear reader, cannot believe we didn’t write about it. Please comment. Please correct.
Fifth, if you are Crystal Chappell, this is not to be taken as advice. Go make your damn show. We’re not owed anything. Don’t listen to the internet, for crying out loud. Do you know what kind of things live on the internet?
The only advice worth sending to Venice: The Series in the time it takes to type this is from kelinswriter:
Keep. Being. Brave.
Let the bitchfest begin!
rysler: The Timeline: How soon after the Fight does the Stroke happen? How long have Lara and Ani been dating? Days? Weeks? How much time passes as the Colonel runs out every nurse in town? What about the gallery opening? I feel unanchored in time and space. I need a spreadsheet. A chart. A murderboard. How long has Guya been struggling with Amber? This affects my reaction. I feel differently after a day’s events than I do after a week’s events.
Beyond mapping out the twelve episodes, there are the matters of Katie’s death and the children’s ages. Leaving room for speculation is one thing, but I’m downright confused. Give me contextual dialogue cues or write dates on a chalkboard.
jaina47: I totally agree here. This was one of my biggest nitpicks of the season. It seemed like in Season 1, Episode 12 that Gina going over to the Colonel’s house at his request took place the evening of the day that Gina and Ani fought. She was clearly still upset about SOMETHING when she was losing at poker.
But then in Episode Three, a mere day or two days later Gina’s on the beach asking Ani how she’s been? Now granted I loved that conversation – and the whole episode – so much that I can do a lot of ignoring about niggling details like shifts in the space time continuum (I’m a Star Trek nerd, so sue me.) but it was jarring. And there were other instances, like the nurse thing.
kelinswriter: 1. I do not believe that Brandon is 30. 2. I do not believe it’s been only 20 years since Katie died (try 30). 3. I do not believe that Van is older than Owen. In conclusion: Lose the SORAS, lose the vague. Specificity of dating puts things in better context and makes for a more believable story.
rysler: Props: I struggled with this one because bitching yet again about the Fisheye wine everywhere seemed in poor taste. But then I remembered the camera that Ani uses on the beach to photograph Lara has the wrong lens. C’mon. Fact check. Don’t just hand someone an item and say, “Make it real.” This isn’t mime class, this is a polished television production.
Anecdote: The Making of Star Trek: “In the very first show of our first season, (“The Man Trap” by George Clayton Johnson) we needed some salt shakers because we had a creature that craved salt, we had a story point which required the creature (disguised in human form) to give himself away when someone passed with a salt shaker on a tray. This posed a problem. What will a salt shaker look like three hundred years from now? Our property master, Irving Feinberg, went out and bought a selection of very exotic-looking salt shakers. It was not until after he brought them in and showed them to me that I realized they were so beautifully shaped and futuristic that the audience would never recognize them as salt shakers. I would either have to use 20th Century salt shakers or I would have to have a character say ‘See, this is a salt shaker.’ So I told Irving to go down to the studio commissary and bring me several of their salt shakers.” – Gene Roddenberry
I don’t include this to say a camera is just a camera, as salt is just salt, but instead, look at how much diligent research, testing, and discussion went into a frickin’ salt shaker. This goes for Lara’s trash, and the paintings on the wall, and the refrigerator magnets. I see it.
kelinswriter: The Soup Kitchen Set. No one is blind to the challenges of shooting this show on the fly in loaned kitchens and living rooms. That being said, that’s the nicest ghetto soup kitchen on the planet – I mean, it makes the church kitchen in Peapack look like the slums of Calcutta. I’m all for suspension of disbelief – but this pushes it too far.
(jaina47: Seconded. But it was very pretty. Very, very pretty.)
rysler: Marketing/Merchandising: Oh my god I would like to send Venice more money. I have bought so many DVD sets and so many subscriptions and I really don’t want a hat. Please find a way for me to send money. I would buy an autographed window card of Gina and Ani making out for $100. Or a calendar of HBS making funny faces. Or an album of the season’s music. I’m only limited by how much there is to consume. I know there’s a cost-benefit-time analysis because Venice is such a tiny operation, but I will always want more. This hunger in me should be exploited for someone’s profit.
(kelinswriter: If you build it, we will buy it. Nuff said.)
(jaina47: Ah, the problems you face. It’s hard out there for a Venice fangirl.)
rysler: Behind the Scenes: This is probably my most controversial quibble, but I prefer a true behind the scenes experience to interviews. And there was a little too much Wes Ramsey-at-the-beach-shoot. I love Wes Ramsey, but he got at least ten times the amount of screen time that Jessica Leccia did.
My favorite moments have been the rehearsal/shooting footage (this week‘s with the rooftop bar and the wall scene were awesome) and the photography sessions (both seasons). But where are the bloopers? Where are the bad days? The Cheetos which were so ubiquitous in photographs didn’t make it to the videos. I’d like more of an insider experience. Interviews are polished and prepared and rehearsed. They’re less spontaneous than the drunken podcast. Again I know that cost, time, and resource allocation are factors, and that the Behind the Scenes stuff is very secondary to the show itself, but I hope shyness about the monotony of film production is not the issue. Fandom’s love for Kimmy should show that we’re ready to embrace production staff. Especially Patrick. Especially embracing. And Susan Flannery, who has had such an impact, must have some perspective. Nadia in Craft Services. She’s so mysterious. What’s she about?
kelinswriter: Music: Episode 11, “Don’t Give Up” as music cue for “wall” scene. This is a perfectly lovely, very evocative song. The problem I have is that the lyrics are giving me Lara’s point of view on the situation. I take issue with that, because the way the scene was shot, we were very firmly in Ani’s point of view from the smack into the wall forward – and we should remain there. Choosing a song that puts me in Lara’s point of view distracts and irritates me. She’s not allowed to ask forgiveness of me yet – she just slammed her girl’s head into a wall. It was a moment of unintended narrative dissonance in an otherwise damn near perfect scene.
Episode 5, shower scene music. I didn’t expect this scene to be all candles and flowers, but I sure as hell didn’t expect to feel like I’d wandered into an episode of “L Word.” (And that is NOT a compliment, ladies. Unless Jennifer Beals shows up as Lara’s editor and they end up having a mad hot passionate affair, I never want to be reminded of “L Word” again – and neither does anyone else in your viewership.) God knows I have no issues with sexuality or sensuality being depicted on screen – more please – but this music made the scene feel empty.
(Side note: I take no issue with virtually any other music selection. In fact, I now own and love the majority of the music selections for both seasons. Thanks for introducing me to a ton of great new artists, Kimmy. I’ll be forwarding you my iTunes bill.)
(rysler: Thank you for covering music so eloquently and sparing me my feeble attempts. I second all of this!)
kelinswriter: Drink slurping. There’s a LOT of drinking going on in this show, and I take no issue with it. What I do take issue with is slurping. When a perfectly marvelous scene is interrupted by a Hoover Wetvac imitation (yes, HBS, I’m looking at you), I get cranky. It’s a pet peeve, I confess – but it’s happening, people, and only shitfaced Lara gets a pass. The rest of you – manners please, or I’ll lock you in a room with my parents, a pot of coffee, and a nothing but soup to eat.
kelinswriter: Michele’s “All About Eve” arc. I really like this story a lot, but I don’t feel like it got enough play throughout the season to really be effective. We jumped from Michele telling Jamie about her designs to Alan threatening Michele with virtually nothing in between – and that’s way too large an episode gap. Another scene – either Michele trying to get Gina on the phone, or Michele deciding NOT to get Gina on the phone – would have reminded us of this thread just enough to give it more impact. Even a couple more lines between Gina and Michele at Ani’s party would have helped – something to keep us a tad more oriented to this particular thread.
jaina47: Disconnectedness: This may just be a matter of personal taste, but there were certain episodes this season, Episode 4 and Episode 10, where to me the scenes within the episode just felt short and disconnected from each other. Now Episode 10 eventually grew on me to the point where I hardly notice when I watch it anymore. Episode 4, not so much. I just tend to watch that phone call on loop. You know – the one where Jessica Leccia looks GORGEOUS.
In my defense, I don’t think it’s really the shortness of the scenes that I disliked. Short scenes don’t have to leaving you feeling…incomplete like that. They can be meaty and full. It was just like there was nothing in those episodes that I could really grab onto. I don’t know. I’ve been struggling since last week to put this ephemeral feeling into words and I’m probably not doing such a great job of it.
kelinswriter: Honorable mention: Katherine. I ADORE Katherine. And next year, I better find out how she fits into the canvas because right now, her appearances – save for when she shows up as Guya’s client – are beyond random.
rysler: If I re-iterate my desire for back stories and spreadsheets do I sound like a nerd? Do I take the magic out? I should say that this is the shortest review/recap so far, so I think that says something.
jaina47: I’m fortunate in that Venice gives me so little to complain about. It makes a fangirl’s life easy.
So, readers, we’ve come to the end of our laundry list. What did we miss? What would you like to see next season?