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How long to stick with Farscape?


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#81 of 87 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 29 2004 - 01:46 PM

Jason Birzer wrote (post #80):

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To be honest, hard SF isn't really a good subject for TV series.

So you say. On "hard/soft sci-fi", see here. As I've said repeatedly: I DON'T CARE! It is a false dichotomy!

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Ideas alone can't really drive a TV series.

Whoever said they could?

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Ideas are good to be explored in short subjects, but when you get to TV series, you need characters and plot.

I never saw the two as mutually exclusive. Still don't. Nevertheless, I don't tune into a "science-fiction" show to find out this week's update on the characters' romantic activities. I'd look at "young-adult soaps" on Fox or the WB, if that were my interest.

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Depends on what you define "low achievement". Farscape certainly isn't in a lot of fans eyes. Enterprise, on the other hand, is utter drek. If I remember correctly, you still watch it . . .

I watch them both. What is your point? If it is that one is "drek" and one is not, don't even bother to reply, since others don't necessarily see them as that disparate in quality.


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And lets face it, SF is usually an expensive proposition.

Uh, "let's face it", tv, period, is an expensive proposition. That's why there was a proliferation of the nighttime game-shows and is now presently one of the "(ir)reality" tv shows all over the broadcast screens. ("PBS does 'Colonial House'!")



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. . . it should be clear to one and all that, if it is, that has little bearing on its perceived success. It still got "canned" by the standards by which such things are regularly measured in the biz.



Considering this is also the station that thought Tremors would make a good TV series, and wanted to get away from making "space shows", I wouldn't exactly say that Sci-Fi is a good judge of TV shows.

Well, station management is at least as "good" in judgment for picking it up in the first place, as it is "bad" for dropping it (prematurely?) later on, I should think. But, in any event, I, by no means, defended the decision, nor did or do I (obviously!) agree with their asinine reasoning or stupid policies. But the fact is, they axed it, and, if the show had been much stronger by whatever criteria they use---"numbers" have to be in there somewhere!---, they probably wouldn't have done it.


PhilipG wrote (post #79):

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Of course, there's also the "fourth wall" conceit - most of Crichton's comments are addressed at the audience at home.

Exactly what I've been talking about, except even when he's talking to his compatriots in such a way, I get the feeling he's really talking more to the audience than to them, and, for me, that's not good.

In dramatic presentation, the characters should be speaking only to each other, as if there were no audience, in my opinion. That is part of the technique of striving for a fully realized fictional world. (It's called "playing it straight".) To me, it's in comedy that the characters are basically always speaking to the audience, whether directly or indirectly. It's one of the features that separates the two major categories of fiction.

"Sci-fi comedy"? Not my bag. The two are incompatible, in my book, and what you end up with is "comedy", pure and simple. If I want sci-fi comedy, I go with Futurama, which does a darn good job of it.

(And, by the way, "serious" does not necessarily mean "somber".)


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They didn't start out writing in pop-culture references from the begining, . . .

Oh, didn't they?!? I watched this program from its inception and that's the one thing I remember unequivocally striking me from the outset!


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. . . . and they certainly are not non-stop.

I don't know about "non-stop", but they are there, seemingly de rigueur, at least two or three each week---I started writing them down---, every episode I've seen (and, although I haven't done a "hard count", I believe I've seen at least half of the series by now). They---these "Crichtonisms", as I call them---are a demographic "hook" for the audience, just as I've said.


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To be honest, most TV SF suffers from the same problems you attribute to Farscape. Even Star Trek has, in all of its incarnations.

Star Trek, in none of its incarnations, including its present one, has ever "suffered" from the "hip-cool"-attitude bullshit. And don't point to episodes like the late '60s TOS-episode with the space-hippies, "The Way to Eden". Surely, the management at the time tried to "appeal to youth"---preteens, actually---in the late sixties with the addition of the Chekov character with his Beatles (or Monkees?) hair-do. But the appeal was limited and didn't permeate the show from week to week. (Of course, I have to concede that the character was partly stereotypic of Russians viewed through American eyes at the time. That's, for example, why he keeps saying that "X, Y, or Z, was 'inwented' in Rrrussia", all over the place. Now, that is eye-winking at the audience.)


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You assume he's doing this for other people's benefit. As others have said, it is a coping mechanism. It is the way he deals with things.

Yes, well, I assume that my interpretation of the show and how it is mounted and "purposed" is the correct analysis, while yours---all of yours---is not, just as you, from your end, do towards my interpretation. It won't do you any good to repeat your interpretation. I understand it quite well. I simply reject it.


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The question is, tho, is that is there any SF TV show that you are happy with?

Lars_J wrote (post #78):

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I've lurked on these boards for years, and I have observed Rex's lengthy postings on both the Firefly thread and now this. . . .There are all too little postings about what kind of Sci-Fi you like, as opposed to the lengthy writings on what you don't like.

I repeat myself:

post #165 of "Blade Runner tops scientist poll":

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The Babylon Five and (pre-Voyager) Star Trek franchises are my favorites of all. Neither of them is, strictly speaking, "hard sci-fi" under any definition that I know of. Babylon Five, in particular, is pretty much pure mystery drama in a science-fictional setting. Yet, though it has some fantastic science-fiction ideas, its strength is in its storytelling, not in its science.

Both Jack Briggs, who has commented here, and I are avid fans of (pre-Voyager) Star Trek, old and new. Just check the Star Trek tv threads. But, despite that avidness, we are first to point out its errors of science and of drama. Many people around here, and in general, do not get the concept that one can love something and, nevertheless, be its harshest critic at the same time. These two are not incompatible or mutually exclusive. [emphasis added] We criticize these things because, as much as we may love the product, we know it could have been rendered significantly better by the application of imaginative courage and the taking of calculated risk for daring innovation supported by scientific principles. . . . They can!

I just think that audiences are being sold short (and unnecessarily, too) and I don't like missed opportunities, which Hollywood seems to specialize in these days. With the kinds of bucks they're throwing around nowadays, there's just no excuse, in my book. "Money" isn't holding them back. So, what is?

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I look forward to you starting some threads about what you DO like someday.

There's a whole thread coming up (one of these days) on just that subject. It's been in various stages of development for about two years now. (When I do a thread, I really "do" a thread.) There's a lot to do and a lot to consider in preparation, so it can't be rushed onto the forum half-baked.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#82 of 87 TheLongshot

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Posted September 30 2004 - 06:00 AM

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So you say. On "hard/soft sci-fi", see here. As I've said repeatedly: I DON'T CARE! It is a false dichotomy!


It is all a matter of semantics, then, since what I define as Hard SF is what you define as Pure SF. Personally, I've never heard hard/soft sci-fi defined that way. Mostly in terms of hardcore and softcore, like porn. Posted Image

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I watch them both. What is your point? If it is that one is "drek" and one is not, don't even bother to reply, since others don't necessarily see them as that disparate in quality.


Point is, you are supporting shows that you don't think of as "quality" shows, yet complain when people support crap, in your eyes.

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Uh, "let's face it", tv, period, is an expensive proposition.


Yes, but Sci-Fi is moreso. I doubt your average sitcom or crime drama tops 1 mil an episode when they start out. Later on, it could, but usually by then, they have the ratings to back it up.

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Star Trek, in none of its incarnations, including its present one, has ever "suffered" from the "hip-cool"-attitude bullshit.


No, what is suffers from is that it is a sterile enviroment. After all of this time, I still don't have much of an idea of what Federation society is like. In some ways, they've contradicted themselves over the years.

Anyways, I can't really call refering the Chiana as Pip, or refering to Scorpius-in-the-brain as Harvey as hip or cool. More like it reminds him of a fictional character that does have some meaning for him. It also doesn't always work that way, since he calls Rygel "Sparky". He's just being who he is. I'm sorry that you don't think so.

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In dramatic presentation, the characters should be speaking only to each other, as if there were no audience, in my opinion. That is part of the technique of striving for a fully realized fictional world. (It's called "playing it straight".) To me, it's in comedy that the characters are basically always speaking to the audience, whether directly or indirectly. It's one of the features that separates the two major categories of fiction.


But, they are speaking to each other. Just because we "get" a reference, doesn't mean that it is out of character for John to say it. John seems to jump in feet first into all of the insanity that he's gotten himself into on more than one occasion.

This show is a drama, comedy, and action show. It entertains on more than one level.

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There's a whole thread coming up (one of these days) on just that subject. It's been in various stages of development for about two years now. (When I do a thread, I really "do" a thread.) There's a lot to do and a lot to consider in preparation, so it can't be rushed onto the forum half-baked.


Looking forward to it. It would be nice to get a baseline to see what you actually like, rather than hear all the time what you don't like.

Jason

#83 of 87 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 30 2004 - 10:13 AM

Jason Birzer wrote (post #82):

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I watch them both. What is your point?

Point is, you are supporting shows that you don't think of as "quality" shows, yet complain when people support crap, in your eyes.

No, I "complain" when I see fans, in my judgment, overpraise and/or misrepresent the objects of their esteem. If you guys here (and elsewhere) had been content to say that Farscape is a "good" or even a "very good" show that you "like", I would have been more than content to bite my lip and stay out of the whole discussion. (I otherwise don't enter Farscape-threads.) But when I see "great", "greatest", "excellent", "must-see", and the like, when I myself have seen something and know it to be no such thing, I feel compelled to dissent in no uncertain terms. ("Balance!") Very few things can stir me to reaction like overpraise, of which there's all too much floating around these days.

And, to the extent that I watch both of these shows, I'm "supporting" each of them. Believe me, the Star Trek: Enterprise fans in those threads would hardly call me a "supporter" of the show. (Just go and read some of their comments.)

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It is all a matter of semantics, then, since what I define as Hard SF is what you define as Pure SF. Personally, I've never heard hard/soft sci-fi defined that way.

Of course, it's a matter of "semantics"! That's why I said it is a false dichotomy . . . as if the story in technologically focused fiction could and would not have an affect on the experiencer (whether its own characters or its viewers/audience), it is an absurd proposition from the get-go. Exposition is, in my view, a necessary part of "science fiction", but does not in and of itself constitute science fiction. If any given exposition has no affect---and no intent to affect---then it's probably not "literature".

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Looking forward to it. It would be nice to get a baseline to see what you actually like, rather than hear all the time what you don't like.

Let me clear one thing up: the thread I mentioned will examine what I and other science-fiction aficionados (not the casual (non)fans who "don't really care about science (or science fiction)") would like to see in terms of "correct science" ("hard"?) and realistic drama ("soft"?) in serial tv outer-space action/adventure shows.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#84 of 87 TheLongshot

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Posted October 01 2004 - 03:37 AM

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No, I "complain" when I see fans, in my judgment, overpraise and/or misrepresent the objects of their esteem. If you guys here (and elsewhere) had been content to say that Farscape is a "good" or even a "very good" show that you "like", I would have been more than content to bite my lip and stay out of the whole discussion. (I otherwise don't enter Farscape-threads.) But when I see "great", "greatest", "excellent", "must-see", and the like, when I myself have seen something and know it to be no such thing, I feel compelled to dissent in no uncertain terms. ("Balance!") Very few things can stir me to reaction like overpraise, of which there's all too much floating around these days.


Well, I don't think it is "overpraised". I think most Farscape fans would agree with me that there are some pretty lame episodes along with the good episodes. We've seen that somewhat in this thread.

Personally, I do think it is a great series, mainly because I love the characters, and the character interaction. It also manages to handle various aspects (Drama, Comedy, Action) quite well. Obviously, it doesn't seem to do it for you. I'm sorry that it doesn't.

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And, to the extent that I watch both of these shows, I'm "supporting" each of them. Believe me, the Star Trek: Enterprise fans in those threads would hardly call me a "supporter" of the show. (Just go and read some of their comments.)


Well, what I mean by "supporting" is watching the show.

Really, I think it would be silly to promote a show that you don't like, which is what I think you are saying. "People are supporting crap", but if they like the show, they obviously don't think it is crap, do they? Course, I don't really get those who actually like Enterprise (as you'd probably have seen my comments before), but I do feel like I have the right to my opinion, as I think you have a right to your opinion. There is also the right to refute that opinion, which I do here.

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Let me clear one thing up: the thread I mentioned will examine what I and other science-fiction aficionados (not the casual (non)fans who "don't really care about science (or science fiction)") would like to see in terms of "correct science" ("hard"?) and realistic drama ("soft"?) in serial tv outer-space action/adventure shows.


Sounds like it will make for an interesting discussion. I'm looking forward to putting in my 0.02.

Jason

#85 of 87 Rex Bachmann

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Posted October 02 2004 - 08:50 AM

Jason Birzer wrote (post #84):

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Well, I don't think it is "overpraised".

Well, naturally, you wouldn't, would you?

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I think most Farscape fans would agree with me that there are some pretty lame episodes along with the good episodes. We've seen that somewhat in this thread.

By no means are Farscape's problems just a matter of a "few lame episodes". All long-running series have those. It comes with the territory of serial television (and, nowadays, movies as well). No, what I see wrong is structural in nature, as I've stated repeatedly. It's built right into the "fabric" of the show.

(post #80):

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It is pretty obvious that Farscape isn't your cup of tea, since you seem to only care about the hard SF aspects of the show, and don't care as much for character.

(post #82):

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This show is a drama, comedy, and action show. It entertains on more than one level.

(post #84):

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Personally, I do think it is a great series, mainly because I love the characters, and the character interaction. It also manages to handle various aspects (Drama, Comedy, Action) quite well. Obviously, it doesn't seem to do it for you. I'm sorry that it doesn't.


Well, in a supposedly "character-driven" program (whatever that is) are to be found:

(a) the focal character, who is both off-putting---yeah, I know: YOU like 'em---and incredible.
(b) a Noah's Ark of other main characters who are unbelievable as aliens (freely "mixing it up"), and nothing special as "people", either, in my book.
(c) Scenarios that so let those characters "shine"! (. . . I still think an episode featuring an interplanetary "fart-off" would make for "classic" Farscape. Imagine it: a gallery of contestants, including Rygel, Crichton, and Zhaan, gathered together from all over the "Uncharted Territories" (and beyond) on some (as usual) Earthlike planet, providing a potpourri of "aromas": helium, methane, oxygen, you-name-it ("No matches please!") and "going at it" for planetary hearth and honor (and/or personal advantage, as usual). (Let's call it the Aromathon.)

Judging from the jolliment of some posts ago, I would say that could have been one of the most popular Farscape episodes ever! I can hear its enthusiastic fans now: ". . . . . . . . . . . . !")

and, oh, yeah, (d) a "science, schmience!"-attitude.

No, that doesn't "do it" for me at all, but, if you Farscape-fans like such "fun" features,---hey! That is, of course, your prerogative. ENJOY!


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(post #80):

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To be honest, most TV SF suffers from the same problems you attribute to Farscape. Even Star Trek has, in all of its incarnations.

(post #81):

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Star Trek, in none of its incarnations, including its present one, has ever "suffered" from the "hip-cool"-attitude bullshit.

(post #82):

No, what is suffers from is that it is a sterile enviroment. After all of this time, I still don't have much of an idea of what Federation society is like. In some ways, they've contradicted themselves over the years.

Well, its "sterility", as you term it, is a separate and distinct issue from the "hip-cool" nonsense, a problem which it has never shared, as previously stated. However, the phenomenon you're speaking about is, unfortunately, also structural, its seeds having been planted pretty much from the beginning of the "franchise" by Mr. Roddenberry himself. The decision to make much of Star Trek "ideological"---that is, about messages (e.g., as in a "perfected world of the future")---became long ago a straightjacket, one out of which ST will probably never escape, no matter how many changes of "regime" (or scenery) take place.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#86 of 87 TheLongshot

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Posted October 02 2004 - 05:03 PM

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Well, I don't think it is "overpraised".

Well, naturally, you wouldn't, would you?


Well, considering that the show was on the Sci-Fi channel, and that there seems to be a lot of people who didn't catch the show until it came out on DVD, I'd say that it wasn't, since there were plenty who didn't know anything about it.

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Well, in a supposedly "character-driven" program (whatever that is)


As I explained before, in this show, the characters and their relationships drive the plot of the show, instead of the other way around. In Star Trek, typically you have a plot complication, and it drives the actions of the characters, because they have predefined roles on the ship. In Farscape, we have the ever-changing dynamics of the relationships of the characters, which drive the plot more often than not. I believe that Buffy was also very character driven as well.

[QUOTE(a) the focal character, who is both off-putting---yeah, I know: YOU like 'em---and incredible.
(b) a Noah's Ark of other main characters who are unbelievable as aliens (freely "mixing it up"), and nothing special as "people", either, in my book.
[/quote]

I think this gets to the heart to why you don't like the show: you don't like the characters. If you don't much like Crichton, it would make it hard to like the rest of the show, since he is in the center of things.

It also sounds like you like stronger plot elements in your stories. That the relationships between characters aren't as important to you.

As for the characters being "unbelievable" as aliens (and as you said, "mixing it up), it seems pretty much established that these races have been interacting with each other for a long time, so I'd expect that they'd be able to "mix it up", so to speak. It seems realistic as far as this universe goes.

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c) Scenarios that so let those characters "shine"!
and, oh, yeah, (d) a "science, schmience!"-attitude.

And how does that differ from any other sci-fi show out there? Every show has episodes where character x shines. Also, science has often taken a backseat when it is inconvienent to the plot. Star Trek, in particular, seems to do a lot of magic handwaving to solve problems.

Course, if you mean by c) the bodily function and grossout jokes, I do think that is one of the weaker aspects of the show. One of the worst offenders to this, "Coup By Clam" is also considered one of the worst episodes of the show by many fans. So, what you think would be considered the "best episode" wouldn't be.

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Well, its "sterility", as you term it, is a separate and distinct issue from the "hip-cool" nonsense, a problem which it has never shared, as previously stated. However, the phenomenon you're speaking about is, unfortunately, also structural, its seeds having been planted pretty much from the beginning of the "franchise" by Mr. Roddenberry himself. The decision to make much of Star Trek "ideological"---that is, about messages (e.g., as in a "perfected world of the future")---became long ago a straightjacket, one out of which ST will probably never escape, no matter how many changes of "regime" (or scenery) take place.


I can't argue with this, which is why I think Trek needs to be put out of its misery. I think the show has run its course.

So has this thread, for the most part. It seems pretty obvious that the aspects that we fans love about the show are things that you despise about it. To be honest, tho, I think that's the basic format of TV, for the most part. I know that there are fans of "CSI" and "Without A Trace" who hate the "character moments", and just want to focus on the cases. At the same time, tho, it is often characters who differenciate one show from another. It is one problem Trek has had for a while. It is hard to seperate the Captains of these shows sometimes, or other stock type characters, like Data/The Doctor/Odo, or Spock/Tuvok/T'pol. Course, it was the character interaction that really made the original Trek.

Jason

#87 of 87 Rex Bachmann

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Posted October 03 2004 - 10:48 AM

Jason Birzer wrote (post #86):

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As I explained before, in this show, the characters and their relationships drive the plot of the show, instead of the other way around.

You "explained" before, but others had (a) different "explanation(s)" from yours. Whom to believe?


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I think this gets to the heart to why you don't like the show: you don't like the characters. If you don't much like Crichton, it would make it hard to like the rest of the show, since he is in the center of things.

The heart of why I don't like the show is exactly what I've been saying from the beginning: I don't believe in the characters in their assigned roles: i.e., as trash-talkin' "hip-cool" engineer-astronaut (Crichton), as aliens alien to humankind (all the rest), but, nevertheless, facilely---effortlessly---able to share the exact same biological and social environments any- and everywhere they go. Effortlessly!

INCREDIBLE!

And, if they're not even to strive to be "truly alien", there's nothing special of interest to any of them as characters, either (aggrieved warrior, defrocked priestess, deposed dictator, bitchy bargirl, etc.) [HO-HUM!]

And, of course, "science schmience".

It cannot---and shall not---be distorted into something as childish and trivial as aversion to a fellow office worker, or the like.


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I think Trek needs to be put out of its misery. I think the show has run its course.

In that it has plenty of company.


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So has this thread, for the most part.

Agreed.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 



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