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New Podcast! Standard Orbit #246 – “A Tale Of Three Producers “

I was thrilled to be invited to join the great Zach Moore on Standard Orbit, a Star Trek: The Original Series podcast hosted over at Trek FM. I appeared on the show last year to discuss the third season of the series, and so it makes sense that I should be back to discuss the second season.

Zach got in touch after reading some of my reviews for the second season from several years back. He was particularly fascinated with my breakdown of the season between three producers: Gene L. Coon, John Meredyth Lucas and Gene Roddenberry. Each of those three producers had their own unique style and each brought their distinct sensibility to the series. In fact, watching the season in production order, there a discernible shift between the three talents involved. Coon was much more interested in playing with the tropes and conventions of the young series, while Lucas was engaged with more traditional science-fiction storytelling and Roddenberry had his own strong idea of what the series could be.

Zach was, as ever, a very gracious host. I had great fun discussing it. You can hear the full discussion below or visit the episode page here.

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Netflix and Marvel’s Luke Cage – Season 2 (Review)

The second season of Luke Cage is a fascinating piece of work.

It is far more cohesive than the first season when taken as a whole, and harks back to the sturdy consistency of earlier seasons like the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. It is a show with a very clear idea of what it is trying to do and say, and with a much stronger sense of structure than its stablemates like Iron Fist, The Defenders and The Punisher. It also avoids the surplus of ambitions and lack of structure that undercut the second seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

It is fair to describe Luke Cage as the first Marvel Netflix series to tangibly improve in the transition from its first season to its second season, to learn from some of the mistakes that the production made in their initial thirteen episodes and to render a more satisfying and cohesive whole. Indeed, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the second season of Luke Cage does what a lot of really great sequels should do, in that it deepens the themes of the original while also refining what works and expelling what doesn’t.

This is not to say that the second season of Luke Cage is perfect. The season suffers from the now-familiar “Netflix bloat”, the sense that the writers are effectively padding the series to reach a preordained episode count that is tied to outdated notions of what television is or should be. There is no reason for the second season of Luke Cage to be a loose thirteen episodes, when it could easily work as a tighter eight. There are points in the season where the show enters a conscious holding pattern, like a song that keeps looping its bridge to stall before the crescendo.

However, even allowing for these problems, there is a sense that the production team are trying to find a way to make these thirteen episodes work. There are several points in the season in which the show allows its characters room to breath in sequences that could have been shortened or rendered more efficient, allowing the audience to spend extended amount of time with these individuals between the big dramatic beats to capture a sense of humanity that might be lost in a tighter or more efficient version of the series.

The second season of Luke Cage is a fascinating and engaging piece of work, even if it suffers a bit in terms of padding and pacing. Nevertheless, it represents a significant improvement on most of the recent collaborations between Netflix and Marvel Studios, having a strong sense of identity that was sorely lacking from most of the material produced since the end of its first season.

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