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Old 02-09-2008, 10:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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CBC's new "JPod"

Ok, as a HUGE Douglas Coupland fan, I was originally super excited about the production of the Canadian TV show, <i>JPod</i> from the adaptation of the book of the same name.

Now that it has been on for a while. What are some thoughts on it?

I personally dislike it. with a passion.

The book was a wonderous piece of fiction. The show is a cheesy sit-com.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I haven't yet read jPod and don't generally turn on my television for anything other than hockey games. I did enjoy Microserfs, however, so I'll have to bump the book up on my list. I hadn't decided what to read next yet anyway, so it may as well be that.

After I read the book, I'll probably check out the show. I'll likely have to pirate it off the internets, but what the hell. If it's CBC programming I reckon I've already paid for the bloody thing anyway.
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I own most of Coupland's stuff but really disliked JPod; almost as much as I hate his new one The Gum Thief. Anyways, I'm more into his older stuff. Didn't watch the show because I didn't like the novel.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I love Coupland's work but haven't been able to see the new series as I am out of the country.

Is it really that bad? It has some great writers working on it and the word in the industry is that it's quite good. Apparently the later episodes take it to a new level (I know, I hate hearing that too).

The one thing I do know is that the ratings have been dropping like a rock.
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, they filmed parts of it at SFU (my university of study), which particularly vexed me because i was not allowed to walk on certain parts of the campus due to filming. I figured that if I pay for my tuition, i should be given the right to walk wherever I shall damned like.
Maybe that is keeping me from warming up to it. But all the advertising has been pushing the show so heavily so it was so disappointing to see it to be so horrible. I like Douglas Coupland; I haven't read Gum thief, but i have most of his library and have seen some of his art work in person and I find it fascinating.
I mean the show has lots of little bits of Coupland in it. when they are changing scenes, there is the type of still art like graphics you would expect from him. I enjoyed that aspect of it, because i like his jilted art style. But unfortunately, I find that to be the most creative part of the show.
It not only forces romantic couplings in the show of Ethan and Kaitlin in such an uncomfortable way, but is heavily hinting towards a relationship between John Doe and Bree.

And what is with all the racial stereotypes?? I'm chinese, but hell, my parents didn't wish i was a boy to the point that Bree's parents exagerate it! And the british lady? ppphhhhttt
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, I've read jPod. And I really wanted to enjoy it. I did enjoy it, but it certainly isn't Microserfs.

Anyone who hasn't read the book and would like to do so unspoiled should not read any further.

The characters are defined by their quirks to the point of one-dimensionality. Cowboy is a cough syrup-swilling sex fiend, Kam is a crazy charismatic Chinese gangster, John Doe is obsessively normal, etc. I understand why these things are included, but there is absolutely nothing more to these characters. As a result they feel more like sit-com characters than anything else. It's impossible to build up any empathy for them because they're not human.

I enjoyed Coupland's self-portrayal and I wonder if he's truly as evil and exploitative as he depicts himself to be. All the same, the subplot of him buying Ethan's laptops felt forced. It's as if Coupland read through his first draft, realized that there was no way readers would suspend disbelief to that level and added this whole twist of him buying someone's life instead of writing a piece of fiction to try to lend the book an air of authenticity. That's not really necessary, as part of the book's charm is that it's so damn surreal. Ethan's mother is running a highly regulated and very lucrative grow-op in the basement and has no problem with threatening bikers with a gun to extract debts. No character in the book thinks anything of this. Kaitlyn, who at that point in the novel has just started dating Ethan, has no issue with helping her boyfriend's mother sort and weigh cannabis buds. Kam Fong sells a character into slavery and everyone (including the one sold) seems to love him all the more for it. This is all inherently unbelievable and trying to ground it just doesn't work.

There's also the issues of the games the jpodders play. I understand, they're geeks, they do random things, they're all mildly autistic. But I don't need to flip through ten pages of Pi to understand that they're looking for a digit out of sequence. I don't need to flip through ten pages of random numbers two pages later to get that they're doing the same damn thing all over again. This seems more like a device to pad a 250 page book out to 500 pages more than anything else.

All of these are actually minor quibbles with the story, however, and I could've enjoyed the book despite them. The big problem I had with it is that there is no plot. The story simply includes a series of subplots loosely tied together with no over-arching theme or dramatic tension. The plots aren't resolved so much as they eventually just peter out. I kept expecting everything to come together but it never happened; eventually the book just ended, and that was that.

For all that, I did enjoy the book, but I was largely disappointed with it; I've come to expect more from Coupland's work. I think I would've enjoyed it much more than I did if I'd gotten it from the library, but unfortunately the city workers are on strike here and I ended up buying it. I justified the purchase because I always have enjoyed Coupland's previous efforts, but now I feel cheated having paid $20 for a book I know I'm never going to read again. I get the social commentary aspect, but I feel like as a writer of fiction one should always strive first to tell a story that's enjoyable, and I feel like Coupland lost sight of that with jPod. He managed it all the same, but just barely.

I'm going to check out the tv series next. I actually feel like this premise could work better in that medium, but I guess we'll see how that goes. Impressions after I've watched a few episodes.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I liked the book and thought the whole random numbers and calculating pi thing to be kind of neat... much like Vonnegut's scribbled illustrations of assholes and the like.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
I liked the book and thought the whole random numbers and calculating pi thing to be kind of neat... much like Vonnegut's scribbled illustrations of assholes and the like.
It's a gimmick, and I thought it was kind of jarring. Vonnegut's illustrations were interesting precisely because they were illustrations; a picture conveys information in a way that the written word can't. Having a string of numbers with a randomly inserted letter adds nothing narratively that isn't already said by 'I have randomly inserted a letter into this string of numbers.' My interpretation of it was that it was a way to fill whitespace and it brought me away from the narrative.

Of course, the reason I don't read film reviews is because interpreting fiction is a highly individual process. It's all a matter of taste. These are my impressions.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I guess we can all rest easy now that J-Pod has been canceled.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow, canceled already? I only just saw the first episode uploaded onto the internets!

I know nothing of the book, but I downloaded the first episode when I saw it because...well, I could

I didn't really like what I saw at all. I don't know if it was the directing, or the writing, or what, but it just seemed overly unbelievable and just plain bad. For one thing, while Alan Thicke may not be the greatest actor, he's certainly not as bad as he was in the pilot! And the main set of characters just reeked of stupid geek stereotypes, which bothered me quite a bit. Pilots tend to be worse than the overall show, but it would have taken some massive improvement for me to find the show watchable.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:42 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hence it getting canceled.

The CBC decided to pull the plug and cut its losses. It was probably the right move by the sound of everything. Perhaps they can but their (our) money into something better.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:48 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Well I guess that's sorta cool that the CBC is so efficient at canceling bad shows
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Don't laugh... usually they aren't very good at canceling things.
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:00 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Being someone who has neve been exposed to Jpod before I did a search on youtube. The following is an introduction clip for those others who are also not familiar with the show:



I mean how bad can the show be - It's got Alan Thicke!!
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
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...and I just started reading the book.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:36 AM   #16 (permalink)
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i liked the book, douglas copeland is pretty awesome, but this show is absolutely horrendous, the acting is terrible at best, granted ive only watched maybe one episode but i dont see it getting much better haha
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:55 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Yeah, I agree with Kligger
I liked the book. It's no microserfs or hey nostradamus, but the show was such a disappointment.
It wasn't just merely htat it was bad, but it took the most basic, racist stereotypes and put it on CBC!!
The acting is not only terrible, but Kaitlyn, a character that was quirky for her own right lost all her charisma. The plot didn't work and John Doe is not very normal.
I jsut don't like it
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