I never was into either Buffy or the West Wing, so I don't have much to add to John's comments regarding either. I do think the Matrix Reloaded didn't live up to the first Matrix, but that was a hard act to follow. It probably didn't help when Larry Wackowski exorcised his personal demons by turning into Lana. Maybe there is something for the theory of sublimation after all. Dark City, however, is one of my all-time favorite movies. The director, Alex Proyas, also helmed I, Robot, and the cult-classic The Crow. I'm not completely sure what I like so much about Dark City. I've always been into noir and art nouveau cityscapes. I might just have seen it at an impressionable time too.
I will say I always appreciated John's interest in pop culture and sci-fi. It made his personality far more interesting. The breadth of his interests always provided something to talk about.
Speaking of the West Wing, House of Cards would have been really fun to discuss with John. I always felt like the opening of House of Cards made Washington D. C. seem like the Imperial Capital it aspires to be.
The art of popular culture is important more for what it reports than for what it preaches, and on that basis we can take encouragement from Buffy's long campaign to keep the Hellmouth shut. If nothing else, the show did not insult the intelligence of its audience.
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The show preens itself on having the richest and best-educated demographics in broadcast television, at least for a fiction series. The writers do put the characters through the motions of debating real issues. The problem is that, as with applications of the philosophy of John Rawls, analyses that purport to be disinterested somehow always result in partisan conclusions. The show represents that kind of liberalism which really does not know there are serious positions other than its own.
The show's bigotry does not explain its shrinking audience, however: history does. Josiah Bartlett has remained all this time in Bill Clinton's world, where foreign affairs are a distraction from domestic issues, except when the US falls short of international norms. For better or worse, the Bush Administration has turned out to be more interesting than the Bartlett Administration. (For one thing, Bush appointed cabinet members with strong personalities, like Secretary Giles; see above.) Wednesday's conclusion of the season seems intended to remedy these deficits: on the eve of a Middle Eastern war, President Bartlett has recused himself under the 25th Amendment. In the absence of a Vice President (who resigned in an episode I missed), the Speaker of the House became Acting President. The part is played by the immensely fat John Goodman, who is no doubt the writers' image of a Republican.
To be fair, the real Speaker, Danny Hastert, is a bit on the chunky side, but then he is a former wrestling coach. In any case, I suspect the producers were not striving for verisimilitude. This is their idea of outreach.
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The Matrix ReloadedThe Matrix
The MatrixThe Thirteenth FloorDark City
The MatrixThe Matrix Reloaded
Copyright © 2003 by John J. Reilly