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How to Watch a Television Show

This guy right here wants to take you to a gritty, fictional galaxy for a moment. The next 800 words is about how to watch a television show like The Mandalorian, should you be so inclined.

The wrong way to watch The Mandalorian is to turn off Disney+ and go on and on about how disintegrating a creature with a rifle is not possible. That a scene “breaks laws of physics,” you might say. In fact, one Twitter user did say that thing and I, unfortunately, took the bait.

Really? A fictional setting about space aliens takes liberties with the laws of physics?!? You don’t say!

Sorry, I didn’t mean to get snarky there.

Actually, I did mean to get snarky there.

I’ll sometimes call that “At home in my stretchy pants, acting smug and superior.” I should know how that works. My full apology for proceeding to sit at home, being all smug and superior, daring to type out instructions on how you should watch a television show. Instead, I humbly submit my perspective on what makes a show like The Mandalorian any fictional show workable.

But That’s Illogical!

Nerds like us have brilliant minds and know much more about tiny intracacies than the majority of the gen pop. Logical, sequential thinking is EXCELLENT and us nerds have this in spades. But, please, remember that television shows don’t really work this way.

We watch television for a story, to be moved by something, to engage with characters, to feeeeeeeeel emotions right here [points to heart]. Let’s jump quickly to an example to get to what I’m talking about.

If we take out the plot gimmick of vaporizing Jawas via a rifle shaped like a tuning fork in the 2nd episode of The Mandalorian then we wouldn’t have had most of the show! I’m only being partially snarky here, because seriously, if you take that away you wouldn’t have some of the major scenes that the gimmick sets up, nor many of the ones that follow it.

Sure, you’re being asked to hit the pause button on Mr. Logic, but you’ve replaced that with a willingness to become swept away in a story.

To want to follow logic there means you are complaining, in effect, that most of the show shouldn’t exist. We don’t get the scene of the ugnaught‘s negotiaitions, we don’t get the comedy from Mando being zapped and falling off the moving fortress, we don’t get the ridiculousness of Mando later squeezing into the Jawas’ cockpit.

Things like the physics of how rifles function are glossed over because the writers want a mechanism to set up future drama, humor, or character moments. Being that The Mandalorian is a science fantasy show – and not a documentary – an illogical plot beat works effectively to carry forward the story and characters.

This works from cartoons to Oscar winning films. If you think logically about Tom and Jerry, everybody knows the cat would’ve caught that mouse, man, but we let that junk go because the conceit of the entire cartoon is watching the mouse hit the cat over the head with a cast iron skillet! Not only is it entertaining, but it connects emotionally as well because deep down we all want to root for the little guy.

So What’s the Problem?

This is why I found it odd that I saw on Twitter that one superiorly smug viewer was frustrated with the show “because anyone with a brain knows that those Jawas wouldn’t just disappear out of thin air.”

Yeah, sure, you totally stuck it to the writers there. But why not suspend your disbelief and have a little fun with it? I’m fine with having a Twitter user think I’m a dummy if it lets me see Star Wars once a week!

One final thing: I don’t want to raise to big a stink here, as doing so may give the impression that the anti-vaporize guy is part of the mainline thinking on this. He clearly isn’t. 99.9% of us can watch a fictional show and not pick a nit we then blast out on Twitter.

In Conclusion

Again, I’m not rooting against logic. Really, I’m not. All I’m saying is set logic aside from time to time and open your mind to a world of wonder and imagination.

Tragedy. Bleakness. Drama. Laughter. Suffering. Joy. Emotion. Tears. Sympathy. Baby Yoda. These are the reasons we watch TV! These are the things of good storytelling and drama. We watch to see the characters entangled in crazy situations, wondering what they’ll do next. We watch to feel like we are enthralled in the world on the screen.

The writers of The Mandalorian aren’t interested in having every element make logical sense. In fact, since it’s a science fantasy show they have even more liberties to take the stories to the heights of ridiculousness! The writers are interested in entertaining us in the most dramatic and thematically interesting way possible.

You know how a tuning fork vaporized little creatures to their death in The Mandalorian? Well, let’s just say a space wizard wearing brown robes did it. And leave it at that.

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