Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jer3miah: What an introduction

Your birthday is actually April 11th . . .
Oh no! You lied to me, and now everything is changing!

Photo by ClaraDon
Duh duh duh duh! (moving into ominously lower tones)

This post is going to focus on the opening of the web series because beginnings are important to me. So my first impression included a little gagging at the stereotypical Mormon jokes and shallow characterizations. It seemed to me that the director expects a lot from his audience because his audience must be really specific to understand the jokes or even find them funny: faithful member, often male-specific, freshman-in-college-age, and undying patient. Fortunately the first few episodes also include some tactful foreshadowing, making the jumpy transitions less startling. But it is still jarring to enter non-stop fast cuts, constant danger, and surprising revelations at almost every moment. I mean, I get that it is supposed to "suck to viewer in" but really it just feels like a bad soap opera. This is also problematic because those who aren't looking for constant danger or fast-paced cuts find themselves not at all invested with the characters who are either still relatively shallow or dead by 33 % into the series, or those who don't mind the pace find themselves with too many questions, no information, and little hope for information.

Now let me pause here and say it gets better. Unfortunately though, the first few episodes don't set it up well.

Let's back up to characterization again. The main character is problematic because there is literally no reason to like him or think he is special other than the story is about him and we were told he is. That, in short, is frustrating. As a person who will always prefer characterization to plot, I find it frustrating to only ever see what is done to him, instead of who he is. Same with his parents. They were really back and forth with how they treated their 18 year old son and a bit cliche. But no worries, they're dead before we get to no them so as the audience we feel no sorrow. (Yes, that was biting. But my biggest pet peeve is when things should matter and they don't because of lazy characterization.)

Let's end with a few nice things about the opening episodes. I liked the moment when the roommate puts a blanket on Jeremiah and lets him curl up in bed silently. It is a nice moment of unspoken characterization. I like the fact that they took a risk with the filming and let is all be seen through the hand-held recorder. Yes, it made me motion sick, but hey, it was innovative. The Joseph-Smith-esque allusions were a bit trite, but at least they made an allusion when talking about the box and the dangers and the three things he must do.

Overall, it was hard for me to watch. But, I did watch it with my husband, so we had a fun time listing out the pros and cons as objectively as possible. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the generally shallow characters, particularly when it comes to Jeremiah. I also agree about liking the moment when Porter puts the blanket on Jeremiah. When it comes to the audience....I felt like it was okay to expect that they (or we) would understand and possibly like his jokes and such because the series was written for a pretty specific audience in the first place. That being said, I don't know how effective they were.