Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The end of Dexter still bothers me

(Spoilers. For Dexter) After watching Dexter for eight seasons, I was expecting big things for the last few episodes. I wanted to see what they had been building towards the whole time. Would Dexter finally be revealed and be hunted by his friends? Would he lose his grip and descend into nasty madness, and still nobody would notice? Whatever it was, they'd been promising big things for years, and it would be worth the wait. Except, as it turned out, they didn't really have anything.

The problem is, I thought it was a different show. It's not adventurous. At least, it hasn't been for a long time. The writers were taking it season by season, making important things up as they went along. The decision they made, in the end, was to make Dexter nicer. So nice that it turned out he didn't have to kill anybody, even though he always told us he did. And an irrelevant villain appeared in the last few episodes. And everyone hung around cooking lovely dinners until Dexter could get on a plane. There were new characters, new developments, and other things that didn't matter at all, because all I wanted was the insane explosion of a season I'd been promised. It didn't happen, and then poor Debra, who had put up with a lot, died, and it was even sadder that by that point I didn't seem to mind. The last episode was strangely boring, being mainly focused on whether Dexter's girlfriend could catch a bus. If I was ever really promised something, I didn't get it.

And what would Dexter do? Would he get away with it? Would he be killed? No, he... did something irrelevant. It wouldn't have seemed so bad if he had ever mentioned lumberjacks, or said something about logs, or beards, but he didn't. It came out of nowhere. I understand that he wanted to live alone, but this isn't how television is meant to work. You can't introduce something random in the last minute. Eight seasons, I was watching this. Ninety-six episodes. Ninety-five hours, fifty-eight minutes, then lumberjack. He could have given us at a hint. He explained everything else to the ghost of his father inside his head, but not this. After all the murder and lies, the close escapes and near misses, the drama and the tragedy and the psychopaths, it finally comes to an end and then, lumberjack. I still don't understand.*

This was a good show, for at least the first four seasons. And the seventh. And even when it was bad it did a good job of pretending it wasn't. It's a shame, then, that I'll always remember that the end was nonsense.

* After reading this, it might not be the writer's fault.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Finding something good to read

Good books come from different places. A friend might recommend something to you. You might overhear something being mentioned. Sometimes a good book just makes itself known, by being in the right place at the right time, or by strange coincidence, or by just being really famous. Sometimes I don't know what to read next, but a good book always turns up, by the mystical forces of whatever. What doesn't work, is going to look for one. Especially on a computer. I don't think computers have any idea what a book is, even though they help to make them. To a computer, a book is just a collection of words that someone has typed, bits of data that become an object you can buy. Sites like Amazon don't give recommendations based on the real content of a book, they just know that somebody who bought this also bought that, and so you should buy it too. It's logical, but not very useful. Only a person knows what a good book is.

I made an account on Goodreads*. It's a website that recommends books. That's the whole point of it. You tell it all the books you've ever read and it shows you other things. I think, though, it might be a bit useless. My first mistake was saying I really like a Haruki Murakami book. It's response seemed to be, 'here are some more writers from Japan'. Never mind. And it's divided everything into genre, like fantasy, sci-fi, and 'mystery', because if there's one thing your book collection is missing, it's discipline. I've never thought, 'yes, I would like to read some science fiction now, I will go and look for some science fiction'. I just want something I'll enjoy. I don't know what genre things are half the time. Goodreads says that one of my favourites, The Road, is science fiction, despite that not being true at all.

The biggest problem with all this, though, is that it will never recommend something completely different to me. Something I never would have thought of. Only a friend can say 'this is brilliant, you should read it'. And that's the only recommendation I'm going to trust. Stupid internet.

*Like all social media, it does a good job of making you feel inadequate in a really blunt way. The first thing it tells me is 'You have no friends yet'. Oh.