Monday, December 31, 2012

Last post of the year

Well, that was an epic fail. I didn’t even make it in for so much as a notification post yesterday. I’m so sorry.

As the year draws to a close, the next promises for new Perry topics and continuing re-runs. The second half of season 8 will be out soon, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why Amazon is refusing to come down more than a few dollars on the price. People are complaining loudly, and someone mentioned finding it somewhere else for $10 cheaper than Amazon is insisting on selling it. Why? Amazon is usually the best! And yet they seem to be about the worst for buying the last fifteen episodes of season 8. There’s no way I’m going to pay Amazon’s price for it. $35 is already steep for only half a season, and that’s about as high as I’m willing to go, give or take a couple of dollars. I bought the entire season 6 set of The Virginian for a few cents less than that, for Heaven’s sake!

It’s been interesting, watching season 8 on MeTV. Since those episodes showed up around the same time as the first half was released on DVD, I’ve been holding off on buying the first set (and still don’t know what to do about the second at all). Some episodes are chopped horribly; The Missing Button horrified me with its important cuts, including most of the scene where Perry and Paul find Button safe with her father on the boat. Others don’t seem to be missing anything too serious, such as The Tell-Tale Tap.

We’re moving into season 9 at the end of this week. And I have to confess, I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot to love about season 8, but also a lot that makes me cringe. As previously explored, in some ways the production style is starting to feel very worn-out by season 8. The writers seem to be floundering on some aspects. Most exasperating to me, they just can’t seem to make up their minds on what Andy is like.

Maybe that’s the reason why he sometimes has such a reduced role in 8. I think it’s mainly only in season 8 where you’ll maybe see him for two minutes in a speaking part and then only sitting silently in court for the rest of his screentime. And the few times the writers decide to do something more with him, it often isn’t that flattering.

Take The Lover’s Gamble, where Andy is apparently responsible to some extent for some serious errors in the police investigation. The Mexican police were sloppy in their handling of their own investigation into the highway crash, and the American police didn’t learn this for some time. Either their investigation was sloppy too, with Andy either as supervisor and his men fouling up, or Andy with a more direct involvement and fouling up personally. It’s much nicer to think that maybe it wasn’t his fault at all and that someone on the Mexican police force lied through their teeth about their below-par investigation, and that Andy was actually a hero for uncovering the lies, but the writers don’t say one way or the other. The end result is that Andy just looks very, very bad.

There’s The Careless Kitten, where he just seems to be in a bad mood throughout. Although admittedly, with no one even being arrested yet and hence, needing a lawyer, it must be frustrating to find an amateur detective like Perry always ending up ahead of the official police investigation. In some ways, however, The Careless Kitten almost seems for Andy as The Final Fade-Out is for Hamilton—complete loss of patience. Andy’s method of losing patience is very different, however, with a smoldering glare, his lips pressed into a thin line, and his proclaiming of “That. Does it.”

Actually, I think angry Andy is more frightening than Hamilton’s yelling and blustering in The Final Fade-Out. Hamilton is known for having a bit of a short fuse. Andy is not. It’s always the quiet ones. . . .

The Mischievous Doll is just cringe-worthy, as Andy is made to look like a total fool during the whole cross-examination on the driver’s license. Perry’s solution is so far-out that it would not be usual to come up with it, of course, but the fact that he does and the police don’t seems a lot more groan-inducing here than in most episodes, due to the way it’s presented. Sometimes the police actually do apparently think of Perry’s possibilities, and even try to investigate them, but dismiss them for lack of evidence. Here, it outright seems that they did not think of it at all and it’s heavily implicated that they should have. Not that the series doesn’t often present things that way to some extent, but with the extended shaming of Andy it seems a lot worse here.

It’s really no wonder that poor Wesley Lau was growing frustrated, as he expressed in an interview around that time. What makes it worse is that seasons 6 and 7 were doing quite well with Andy by comparison. Since I’ve been buying those DVDs lately, I’ve been actively and recently comparing those episodes with season 8. 6 and 7 usually depict Andy more fairly. There may be an occasional slip, but it doesn’t seem as bad. Then 8 comes along and turns everything on its head.

To be fair, Andy does have some good moments in season 8. The Deadly Debt is one of my favorite episodes ever, where we see that Andy must be quite a well-respected officer on the force. In addition to being part of the Homicide division, he heads up a special taskforce investigating crimes that end up connecting with the current case. Andy is depicted as mature and serious and knowing his job well.

The problem with season 8 is that, unlike Andy’s other seasons, it goes from one extreme to the other, making him look very bad as well as very good. There’s definitely a higher ratio of unfavorable Andy scenes in season 8 than in 6, 7, or even 5.

I do get the sense that no matter how amiable Andy may be, he must be somewhat insecure in being around Perry and company, since there’s that noticeable lack of him being around in social settings. Steve, by comparison, seems very confident and perfectly at ease both with his job and with being friendly and social with Perry and the others.

I wonder what it would have been like to have had Andy and Steve interact, instead of that abrupt change from one to the other. Seeing Andy impart his knowledge and wisdom to the younger Steve, as Tragg did for Andy, would have been so interesting and intriguing. And the writers probably would not have done this, but it could have opened the way for thoroughly fascinating discussions, such as what each thought of Perry and company.

Since by season 8 the writers honestly don’t seem to know what to do with Andy and have been running his character into the ground a lot more than before, I look forward to season 9 to immediately see Steve again and see how my opinion contrasts with the season 8 episodes I’ve just come from watching.

One thing that’s changed lately is the way I list my favorite seasons. 8 has overall gone down on the scale, while 9 and even 5 have come up. 9 and 8 haven’t switched places, however; 8 is certainly not my least favorite season, as 9 once was. Since for me, character interaction and not storyline is the most important thing, and overall I prefer seeing the characters more mature than impulsive, I would probably rank 1 at the bottom of my list. They’re young and dashing, true, and that’s pleasant to see, but for me I’d far rather they were older and wiser, given the choice. And anyway, they’re still very handsome in the later seasons, as I see it.

7 is my most favorite season at the moment, with 2 and 6 immediately following. They were all at the top before, but with 7 below the others. I’m still trying to sort out where everything else currently ranks.

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