I wish...
Christopher Lasch: The Revolt of the Elites

Probable Last Word on Dark (German TV series)

I have a feeling that nobody who read my post about this series last November watched it. But in case you did, or in case you still might, but haven't yet seen season 3: well, it is my sad duty to tell you that it's...frustrating. At best. 

I'm not saying "sad" as a formality. I really am saddened, because there was so much I liked about this series: the atmosphere, the acting, the characters, the music. When I wrote that first post, I had only watched season 1. Season 2 was good, but something happened in the last scene of the last episode of season 2 that I thought was a mistake. It threatened to tip the scale from "overly complicated" to "incomprehensible." I'd like to explain that, but it would involve a very big spoiler, so I'll restrain myself.

Suffice to say that at least for me (and my wife) it did indeed become incomprehensible. Characters appeared and disappeared in various times and places--and frequently with no information provided as to precisely when and where they were--that it became impossible for me to follow. It was hard enough to remember which characters in 2019 were which in 1986 and in some cases 1953. And then in 2052. But when they started time-traveling, so that a certain middle-aged character in 2019 appeared in 1953 as his middle-aged self dealing with children who would be middle-aged when he was a teenager and old when he was middle-aged, things started getting pretty confusing. And then, for the reason alluded to earlier, really confusing. No doubt the writers had carefully fitted all the pieces together in their minds, and maybe some viewers were able to keep it straight in their minds, but I was not one of them. And aside from the fact that I couldn't follow it, I'm not convinced that the extra complications really benefited the essential drama of the events and the relationships. 

When the final episode had ended, and my wife and I had discussed our frustration and complaints, she said "But you're going to watch it again."

"No I'm not...I mean, probably not...maybe just that last episode...."

Anyway, here is the song which, much shortened, is heard with the opening titles, and which I really love. I don't know what that picture is about. It has nothing to do with Dark



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Given the current situation, I just am not very interested in anything with "dark" in the title. I am reading some pretty heavy stuff, but I only want to watch things that are happy and brainless.

The name of this blog is problematic, but you are grandfathered in.


Glad to hear it. The blogger is even more problematic, at least from some points of view.

I definitely wouldn't recommend Dark to you. It's not a violent show but it does have some gruesome moments. Actually I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone I know, not just because of the complaints I've mentioned, but because I don't think it would be to their tastes.

I'm not a fan of time-travel stories in general, and this one seems more ambiguous than most so I'll probably give it a miss, despite the fact that it looks appealing in terms of mood, style, etc. Haven't checked out the music yet, though, and that sounds promising. Too bad the series took that wrong turn you mentioned.

I recently watched one which was pretty good up to the very end, which had an unnecessary and utterly disappointing sting in the tail which I absolutely hated, and which ruined the show for me. Norwegian series called The River. It starts as a murder mystery, and slowly morphs into a political thriller which gets pretty intriguing, but man, the ending is so cynical it just killed the whole thing for me.

I'll keep that in mind if I come across it.

I'm not a fan of time-travel stories in general, either, but the earlier parts of this one were more interesting than most. Eventually it got involved with the conventional sort of dilemma where someone wants to change the past in order to prevent some problem in the present and/or future. I guess maybe that's inevitable. It also involved the "bootstrap paradox," which is sort of the opposite: someone takes something from the present to a past where it did not exist, without which action it would not exist in the present. In this case one character is her own grandmother. But the big problem I mentioned was something else entirely.

Star Trek was ruined by time travel and alternate timelines.

And by being so secular humanist., but that isn't the topic of this post.

I'm apparently one of the few people with a taste for sci-fi who never thought Star Trek was very good. I guess I might have liked some of its stories if I'd read them in print, but the visual aspects of the show never seemed convincing enough for me to take them seriously. They didn't match what my imagination did with print. I didn't see much of it when it first aired, though. Maybe I would have liked it better if I had. By the time I did, movies like 2001 had attained a level of quality that made Trek seem pretty hokey. I have enjoyed some of the movies, though.

You are talking about the original series. it was pretty low budget, especially in the third season. I think the later serieses had better production values. I like the stories in the later serieses less, though, because it became even more doctrinaire in its secular humanism.

Yes, I am. The later ones were definitely better in production values. I saw a few of the Picard ones and enjoyed them. Patrick Stewart was certainly more engaging than Shatner. I did think that it was pretty funny that the female characters were beautiful and well equipped to wear skin-tight body suits.

I liked the original Star Trek when I was a kid, and can still watch it as a nostalgic exercise, but I never really took to any of the later versions. The old s/f series that I actually still like a lot is The Outer Limits. It too was fairly low budget, but I find most of the stories pretty interesting in spite of the production values. That's more applicable to the earlier seasons, though, as in the later ones the producers made them have a monster in every episode, which tended to make things somewhat predictable.

I also remember liking two British series that we got in syndication -- U.F.O. and Space: 1999. Haven't watched either of them in decades though, and I have no idea what I'd think of them now. Oh, and The Invaders, with Roy Thinnes. That's one I'd like to revisit just for fun. I understand that it's become something of a cult favorite.

I remember The Outer Limits being on TV when I was a teenager but that's about it. I must not have watched it very much. I might enjoy it now, as I like the original Twilight Zone a lot. I think maybe a third or more of its episodes are still very much worth watching. "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" has been mentioned a good bit lately as being apropos for the times.

I think I may have seen one episode of Space: 1999 and thought it was interesting, if I'm not confusing it with something else. I see from Wikipedia that it was on the air from 1975-77. I didn't have a tv at all then.

The Outer Limits is a lot like Twilight Zone in some ways, but is more directly s/f-oriented. Not as good as TZ, mind you, but not the second-tier ripoff some people say it is, either. Like with TZ, some of those episodes have stayed with me for years.

Looks like I can watch it on Amazon Prime. I think I'll try an episode.

I remember seeing an Outer Limits episode when I was a kid about a deaf man who couldn't hear the sirens when a tsunami was about to hit Hawaii. I remember it was suspenseful.

As for UFO, I remember the women's shapes were very obvious. Kinda like the women in those Star Trek cat suits. It was a fun show, though, from what I remember from four decades ago.

The good Star Trek Original Series episodes were very good. The bad ones are painful.

That sounds very TZ-ish (the deaf man).

"I think I'll try an episode."

Generally speaking the 1st season is better than the 2nd, although two from the latter, "Demon With the Glass Hand" and "Cry of Silence" are very good. "Cry of Silence" scared the bejeebers out of me when I was a kid. I watched it again a few years back with my teenage nephew, who's into s/f, and I still found it fairly unsettling.

Season 1, Episode 1 seems like a good place to start. :-)

Hard to argue with that!

I looked up ep. 1, season 1 on wikipedia -- "The Galaxy Being". That's one that I remember as being pretty good. I had forgotten that it stars Cliff Robertson, who was already well-known at the time.

Well...your memory may be a bit on the rosy side. :-) It's the basic Scary Alien Comes To Teach Us Peace And Tolerance story. Some very nice b&w atmosphere, though.

Did it include the "and the peaceful alien is killed by the ignorant and violent earthlings" part?

Almost. They made an attempt but gave up pretty quickly.

Isn't the alien brought here accidentally? Or maybe I'm thinking of a different episode...

Also, I'm not sure if the "alien teaching peace and tolerance" thing was as common then as it has become in the ensuing 50+ years.

Yes, the alien is brought here accidentally. I think he was contacted accidentally, too. But before he gets sucked across some enormous number of light years, he delivers a warning that earth is considered a danger to other civilizations. So apparently they had their eyes on us.

As far as I know the original peace-teaching alien was in The Day The Earth Stood Still, from 1951. I don't know how many there were in the interim. I'm thinking there may be a TZ episode cut from the same cloth but I may be wrong. I think Day still holds up reasonably well, or did when I wrote about it here back in 2007. But don't read the post if you don't want to encounter spoilers. The general idea is in the title: "Klaatu the Genocidal Peacenik" (Klaatu being the alien). The movie features the famous robot Gort.


“I don’t know how many...”—or if there were any at all.

Yes, Day... is definitely the ur-text of that "trope,"at least in terms of cinema and TV. I hadn't realized that it was that early -- 1951. I was thinking it was more mid-50's. That's one I probably need to watch again, as it's been many years.

I remember being surprised that it was 1951, too. The cinematography is way better than typical sci-fi of the later part of the decade, too, I think.

If I remember right, there was a TZ episode about an enlightened alien who landed in Mexico to give the message of peace and was killed by the benighted, superstitious (Catholic) Mexican peasants.

Since it has been decades since I've seen the episode, I may be completely off concerning the details.

By the way, does anyone else beside me think that Marty was subtly anti-Catholic? Kind of like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Orthodoxy and Bend it Like Beckham and Hinduism.

I take it Marty is a movie? I haven't seen it, or either of the other two you mention.

I don't remember that TZ episode either, but I have not seen anywhere near all of them.

It's been a while since I've seen Marty but I didn't get that impression. It really didn't strike me as having an agenda either way -- I felt that it just took the Catholicism of the characters in stride.

On the other hand when I saw Greek Wedding, as an Orthodox I did feel that it trivialized the faith somewhat.

I just watched the 2nd episode of Outer Limits. I wouldn't say it's really good but it was interesting as a cold war artifact: a Manchurian Candidate sort of thing, in which the Chinese government creates a perfect lookalike of the American president, kills the latter, and substitutes the look-alike. As the series first aired in 1963, I wondered if this was made before or after Kennedy's assassination. Definitely before: it aired in September. I wonder if it would even have been made after November. There's a slightly eerie reference to a speech in Dallas.

I remember that one; the ending freaked me out as a kid.

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