Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Time with Netflix - Part One: Bad for a Purpose

     The first thing I noticed after accepting a free month with Netflix was that I suddenly found myself much less motivated to read.  After all, I had one month to get as much viewing as I could before the charges kicked in.  So, I started looking for movies I might want to see...and was surprised that I wasn't that excited about the movies or television shows I had not seen.  Still – after some problems with Silverlight – I started to like the idea of being able to stream movies whenever I had the time and the mood struck.  I figured that the price, which was all of $7.99/month at the time, wasn't bad.  I would find some good movies eventually and if I ever didn't feel I was getting my money worth, I would just walk away from the service.
     That didn't take a year.  Mind you, I ended up with two months for free; the introductory month and a credited month as Silverlight needed to be re-installed every other day during my third month of service.  I found that in regards to DVDs, I was either fulfilling a near pathological need to see all of Katharine Isabelle's performances or just selecting titles I didn't make any effort to see up to that point.  While there were some titles I greatly enjoyed – I'll note them later in the post – I very much felt like I was wasting the DVD portion of the account.  Was it worth keeping Netflix just to watching movies and TV shows on the computer?  Well, once the User Interface changed, that answer was 'No'. When the ability to use other members' reviews – and I mean going to an individuals reviews page, not the anonymous reviews that were part of the change of removing members' avatars – it became 'No, and I'd like to make sure I don't get charged a cent more than I have to be'.
     So, what were the worthwhile selections?  What were the really bad choices?  What were the movies I found through other members or selective manipulation of the sortable function?  Well, I am going to attempt to answer that, but it will take more than one post here.  I have decided to start with the works of noted Canadian film and television actress, Katharine Isabelle, I watched through Netflix.

Bad for a Purpose: Katharine Isabelle at work
Mail Order Bride (2008)
     A Hallmark Channel movie – one that I could have just watched on television three weeks later – with limited production values and not much in the way of acting.  Katharine Isabelle has a minor role; she is the intended mail order bride.  Unfortunately for me, her character dies and I'm stuck watching a movie where Daphne Zuniga looks her age (still very attractive, but a mid-40s mail order bride isn't just a disappointment to me), Greg Evigan is giving a Jonathan Frakes impression, and a guy (Cameron Bancroft) who is known from the 1995-6 season of Beverly Hills, 90210. And the story was about as cookie-cutter, old school-feeling western as possible.  Apparently, Mail Order Bride pulled respectable numbers for the Hallmark Channel when it first aired.  The message I got from it was to avoid Hallmark Channel movies.

Supernatural: Season Two ("Hunted" & "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part One") (2007)
     I have friends who watch Supernatural.  They like it.  I cannot explain that, not even a little.  Granted, this should be the type of show I would at least give a chance.  It has guys driving across the country, having adventures and fighting demons.  But those guys are played by actors with limited range and nearly no help from behind the camera.  The stories are not involving, and if I didn't recognize the guest stars, I would have wondered if the show were not an elaborate hoax perpetrated against viewers of the WB/CW.  At any rate, Katharine Isabelle plays Ava Wilson in two episodes.  In the first, she warns one of the two leads – I couldn't get involved enough to know which one is Sam and which is Dean – that he is going to die.  He doesn't.  In the second, she is revealed to be evil and Aldis Hodge breaks her neck.  Thus endeth my association with Supernatural.

Smallville: Season Three ("Slumber") (2003)
     I'm going to get this out of the way: I watched The Adventures of Superboy (1988-1992).  Thus, I feel that I have done my time with not-Superman yet television shows.  I appreciate that there are many fans of this show; I have seen one episode.  It wasn't horrible, but the impression I got was that Annette O'Toole and John Schneider were more deserving of a show than Tom Welling.  Katharine plays Sara Conroy, I teenager who has been in a coma for years but still has great muscle tone.  Clark and Lana have to work to rescue Sara from her evil uncle, and this is complicated because Clark can only talk to Sara in his dreams.  The episode seemed to have some tie-ins to the ongoing storyline, but wasted far too much time on Clark figuring out why his dreams were different.

Rampage (2009)
     When I asked Katharine if Rampage was going to be any good, she sort of shrugged and said she didn't know.  She was only on set for one or two days, and like Ogre (2008; I honestly don't know if there is a worse movie than Ogre) did the project because it gave her the chance to work with Brendan Fletcher.  I will say that it is much better than most of what Uwe Boll has directed, but it is still flawed.  Katharine gets to look pretty as an anonymous worker in a hair salon, call Fletcher's character an asshole (behind his back), and then get shot.  Much of Rampage looks like it is going to be interesting, but Boll still does not do much with his actors and Fletcher can't do much more than look slightly angry and occasionally squint.  On the positive side, Rampage was available to be streamed and it didn't cost me a DVD selection.

Psych: Season Two ("Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion") (2008)
     Okay, I watched the first three seasons of Psych.  It was available to Watch Instantly and I wanted to remind myself of why I started watching the show.  In "Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion", Shawn and Gus go undercover as models.  As these fake models, they get to spend time with Katharine Isabelle's Sigrid.  It is a throw-away role, but she does get a funny line when she calls out Lassiter for wearing the same tie twice in the same week.  Other than that, she gets to pout and wear a lot of eye liner.  The episode also wastes the talents of Melanie Lynskey.  And, to make it a complete failure, the two victims of the episode are responsible for the other one's death.  Just a bit of a mess.
     Of course, if one were interested in seeing Katharine Isabelle in something more substantive, I would recommend Falling Angels (2003) and Ginger Snaps (2000).  When it comes to the latter, I definitely recommend getting the Canadian DVD release as it doesn't cheat you with pan and scan and has a much better picture quality.  She is likable in her appearance on Stargate: SG-1 ("Camelot"), but it isn't a great episode.  She plays Gibb in Freddy vs. Jason (2003), but once her character is killed the movie becomes a parody of itself and loses any sense of fear or terror it had at that point.  She plays a supporting role in On the Corner (2003), but that movie is worth seeing just because it is a much more realistic look at teens on the street than most films of that genre.  Show Me (2004) is solid, but Michelle Nolden is the strongest actor in the cast by far.  But, other than the Stargate: SG-1 episode, I own all of these movies. I can say the same, sadly, for Spooky House (2004) and Another Cinderella Story (2008).  Apparently, Another Cinderella Story did not have a finished script.  I think it shows in the final product, but Katharine managed to make her character subversive to her own goals and Selena Gomez can definitely dance.  Then again, I've never met or talked to Ms. Gomez (and I don't think I would ever make any kind of effort to do either).  I don't have some odd need to keep track of her career and hope that it gets back on track with quality projects.
The ego stroke of this is that, while she did write this on a glossy for me, I am the one who provided the text.  Made me feel like a (extremely unsuccessful) writer.  Probably as close as I will ever come to having her perform anything I write.

No comments:

Post a Comment