Friday, September 8, 2023

Twisted Metal, Foundation, and Invasion

The FOURTH Law of Robotics says I GET TO FUCK ONE!

OK. Haven’t had a ton of hobby (or writing about hobby) energy for a few weeks, but I have had the time and energy to binge three different mediocre streaming genre shows, so let’s get into that for a bit.


Ten episodes long, and I spent the first seven episodes marveling at how virtually everything they were trying to do almost worked, but didn’t quite.

There’s no malice in that statement. There’s nothing offensively bad about what’s happening on screen. It’s just that either there’s a ceiling  for how entertaining any Twisted Metal show could be, or a ceiling on how entertaining everyone involved, trying their best, can make a Twisted Metal show be. I’m not mad at it, I’m just disappointed at it. 

Around episode 8 or so, things start to click, and a few individual elements (Jason Mantzoulkis as the crazy preacher) liven things up before that, but for the most part it’s that thing where screenwriters have a set of stock problems and beats they think have to solve and hit regardless of the source material, and you can see them doing it.

There are elements of the games worked in, but much like the recent Mortal Kombat, this season is mostly worldbuilding so that possibly, in the future, they can have the tournament the game is actually about.  So in that sense, it;s a bit pointless. Plus it’s on a streaming budget, so while there are cars shooting at other cars, there’s not a lot of it, and what they fill the rest with is just… fine-ish.


For nine and a half episodes of Foundation, I was asking myself, “Is this a good show, or is it just trying to trick me into thinking it’s a good show by acting important and having accents?”

Then, halfway through the season finale, it abandoned all pretense and got real stupid, real fast. Dipped my toe into the second season and had my suspicions confirmed. They just wanted to make Game Of Space Thrones and the first season was throwing a bunch of vaguely-=Asimov-inspired stuff around so they could get to the point where they could just rip off Game of Thrones’ style. 

There are some interesting ideas stumbled upon almost by accident over the course of the show, but they all get abandoned when they become inconvenient for the less-interesting plot.


Making the “most” of the Apple TV+ trial I got to watch Strange Planet (which I like quite a bit), I also watched Invasion, a story ostensibly about an alien invasion of Earth, but is instead more of an almost-anthology-style exploration of the lives of people affected by the invasion.

How are they affected? Well, they end up spending a lot of time walking slowly through various locations looking at stuff. If you like people walking slowly through a space looking at things, being tense, sad, or tense and sad while appropriately tense, sad, or tense and sad music plays, this show will make you smoke a whole carton of it out behind the barn.

When it gets to the fucking point, it can be pretty engaging stuff, but it’s VERY stingy in that regard. The second season moves a little more briskly, but also introduces a Musk-style billionaire helping to fight the aliens, which is awkward now that we know the real Musk would cut off human communication to help the aliens win. Anyway, it’s the only one of the three where I’m still curious about what’s going to happen next, but I can get what I need from reading recaps, so I probably won’t be back.

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