Turn the bloody light on, part 367

I was part-way through the first episode of Invasion (TV+) when I started to wonder if there was actually something wrong with my TV. It’s fairly old by now — I mean, it still has an analogue tuner and although I no longer use it, there’s an aerial plugged into the back — so in my mind it’s only a matter of time till it fails.

(Such a failure would open up a real can of worms, because I’m 90% certain I don’t want what current TVs are offering, which is intrusive listening and tracking of what I watch, along with a software operating system written by lemurs.)

So I went into the settings on my TV, adjusted the picture, and even did that thing you can do with an Apple TV, which is hold your phone up to the screen as a calibration device and adjust the colours. But no: Invasion was just dark, dark, dark, almost all the way through – even the bits that were taking place outdoors, in broad daylight.

Fashion is a terrible thing. In the early days of digital HD production, we got lots of slow-moving moody shots, extreme close-ups with lots of bokeh, and a general feeling that directors and cinematographers had some new toys to play with. A few years after that came the fashion for mumbled dialogue and intrusive background music. Then, for a few years, my youngest daughter complained constantly of the weird colour shifts of TV shows (she’s mostly given up watching telly because it drove her away). These days, every programme is just too dark.

A brief visit to the comments section under a review of Invasion assured me that I wasn’t the only one.

In the end, I just turned the living room light off and watched in the dark, because then there was a sightly better chance of picking up the pinpoints of light on the screen. But I hate watching TV in the dark, and feeling forced into it made me hate these fucking creators just a little for their arrogance and slavish following of fashions. Of course, just as the soundtrack engineers do their work in perfect listening conditions and don’t understand what the rest of us are complaining about, TV editors are probably working in dimly lit studios with eyes stolen from 17-year-olds.

As to the programme itself, it really felt like another miss. Apple dropped three episodes, which is quite telling. Not much happens in the first episode. Then almost nothing happens in the second. And then not much happens in the third. All of this not-much-happening is in the dark, of course. It would be a podcast apart from the occasional use of subtitles. Invasion tells the story – I think – of an alien invasion of Earth. I was hoping it might be something like an updated Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it turns out (so far) to be yet another version of War of the Worlds, except in the dark, and at the pace of continental drift.

You want to be kind, you want to give things a chance, but then the whole thing is full of racial stereotypes and genre clichés and darkness, and you think, well fuck it, and fuck you. What a wasted opportunity. One thing that did make me laugh: American soldiers in Afghanistan: the show clearly filmed before the precipitate troop withdrawal, which now makes the Afghan-set scenes seem like an odd anachronism. Another thing that made me laugh: how useless a Tesla is going to be in the apocalypse. Oh, how I long for a proper piece of trashy sci-fi based on a Niven/Pournelle novel.

I want to update my opinion of Foundation, too: based on the first episode, and its companion podcast, I had high hopes. But it too is bogged down with not much happening, and even that not interesting. Asimov was a shit writer, and the Foundation series was a bunch of shit books. I’m really only watching still because I do enjoy the podcast.

(Also definitely not going to watch Dune, another book I found unreadable.)

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