I was watching Last Resort a week or so back when I had a thought. What would make this show better? So far I’ve really been having trouble wanting to hit play. I usually get into it once I start, but when it’s sitting there in my DVR it just feels like something I need to go ahead and watch so I can delete. It’s a chore.
The real problems are two storytelling elements. First, who in the hell in the navy acts like this? I mean really, they let these people have a nuclear submarine? I get it, you’re scared, but these people have been on a boat for quite a while and know each other pretty well. Submarine crews are some of the best sailors out there and are trained for the worst situations imaginable. You’d think they would, I don’t know, act better. Stronger. It just feels like we’re creating cracks in the character’s shell just to create drama.
And that’s the second thing, everything is just so damn heavy handed. Every officer in this story loses their cool every ten minutes and all the sailors just run around acting like spy vs. spy. Meanwhile you have the government sitting over on the other side twiddling their evil little mustaches. One episode even had an attack by Russians. Anytime I see a modern show actually pull out commies as a villain, I can’t help but think they ran out of ideas.
Anyway, those are the real issues but as I was thinking what would make this all better, it came to me. Cthulu! I’m pretty much the type that needs a supernatural element somewhere in the story. The most realistic I get is Steven King. I want monsters and magic and some dark shit happening all over the place. It probably wouldn’t do much to help the show, I just think some type of supernatural menace would be a great direction to push the show forward. And to be honest, it would be a lot more believable than actually seeing these people who took the whole world hostage come back home without any consequences.
But that leads me into a segue on one of my favorite authors, Howard Philips Lovecraft. He was a pulp writer at the turn of the century. Largely ignored, he didn’t even really garner enough fame to be ridiculed, he died not realizing any of the fame he later would. Today, his mythos is up there with Tolkein’s. Even though most of his ideas came to fruiting in the turn of the century, you will be hard pressed to find more modern ideas. You see sorcery, extraterrestrials, time travelers, dream walking, telepathy, and a dozen other ideas strewn throughout his stories.
So many of the monsters in his stories aren’t even evil, not even amoral, it’s just that they are so expansive, so far above the human race or any form of life you would normally see in a story, that they see the protagonist’s life as inconsequential. They are people strolling through ants, and we’re the ants! Much of the horrible things that happen to the narrator aren’t even from direct contact with the Big Bad, but just seeing or knowing that it was near.
I love all these things, but what really sets them apart are his actual writing. It’s an acquired taste and not easy to dive into, but wholey unique. You almost have to reach a zen state just to be able to put the words together. It’s wordy, rambling, and he uses words that even with the best of vocabularies you will be hard pressed to keep up. Effulgance, eldritch, foetid, gibbous, antediluvian, and cyclopean are just a few of the words you’ll see in his stories. And they are used in rambling, paragraph long sentences that would deflate you if you tried to say them. But you will never, ever be in doubt as to the gravity and severity of a situation. There is a cold, methodical passion behind his words that sucks you in and, well, violates you a little bit.
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
- The Colour Out of Space
- At the Mountains of Madness
- The Thing At the Doorstep (Which has one of the best opening lines in anything, ever)
- Herbert West-Reanimator
What I have tried to take from Lovecraft was how he could have things that were so over the top and bizarre, but play them so seriously in such a way that you felt like the whole of creation was different than what you thought before you picked up the story.
If you haven’t read his stuff, go out and pick up one of his anthologies. Any with the above stories will be more than suitable. At the very least, you will see a unique style of writing.