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CLOSE READ 7:00 A.M.
How Netflix’s 3 Body Problem Loses Its Own Plot The China episodes are great. The London ones are bizarre. The reason is less obvious than you think.
By Nan Da

https://www.vulture.com/article/netflix-3-body-problem-plot-ending.html?

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.... Rather, the true diagnosis of the show’s problems have more to do with an omnipresent force animating the book: a ruthless form of logical thinking, expressed mainly as the drive to convey and glean the maximum amount of information from the minimum amount of data. This sensibility can be owed in part to the Chinese language and its extraordinary ability to be compressed — an attitude toward communication that was only supercharged by recent Chinese history, the 100-year span from Maoism to the modern surveillance state which intensified the everyday practice of speaking in code and deciphering the codes of others. What emerges from this history is the extreme form of logical reasoning that propels Liu’s trilogy: the ability to arrive at the analytical conclusion quickly and act accordingly, as well as to communicate and infer a great deal from very little, without the option of assuming privacy or good faith. Benioff, Weiss, and Woo’s take on The Three-Body Problem suggests that while they accept Liu’s rules of reasoning and dutifully depict its origins, the showrunners seem unwilling to extend those rules into the present and to craft characters that bear their burdens. ....

 

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That's very interesting. I can't comment on the nature of the Chinese language, but I can see how this shortcoming manifests in the show. The nature of the sophons is not well-explained, the show suggesting they are more powerful than they are. They can only interfere at the sub-atomic level and primarily act as surveillance for the San-Ti as well as ensuring particle physics stagnates for 400 years. When the driverless car kills Nora, the show leads us to believe the sophons/San-Ti were behind it, whereas the book makes it clear the ETO were responsible.

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Yeah it's an interesting article. I suspect a lot of writers like D&D have a series of parameters they measure themselves against as they write shows, rules they need check to make sure they are making a 'good' story. Some sort of moral dilemma for a character to come up against and solve is probably one of the things they think they need to shove into stories to make them resonate with audiences. 

Maybe they are right. I don't know. I do know that the majority of characters on 3 Body Problem were unengageing and forgettable, and all this flapping over moral choices was actually quite boring. 

Maybe the chinese version of the story wouldn't translate as well, doubt I will ever try and watch the original however.

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There are huge - 'cosmic' moral dilemmas in the trilogy. They're mostly heavily science-based though, so would likely put off the average Netflix viewer.

In the first series, I find the 'Oxford 5' made-up characters a tad irritating, but Ye Wenji is done properly. Her whole motivation in pressing that button is based on her experience in the Cultural Revolution; she decided the risk was morally justified because humanity was so irredeemably evil. The show does preserve the main idea, although only reading the novel can bring out the full gravitas.

There's another massive moral dilemma to come - not sure if it will be Series 2 or 3, but it's worth waiting for.

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If the comments are actually read, one sees a great mis-characterizing of them, which amount to ten all together. :cheers:

Edited by Zorral
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1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

Yeah it's an interesting article. I suspect a lot of writers like D&D have a series of parameters they measure themselves against as they write shows, rules they need check to make sure they are making a 'good' story. Some sort of moral dilemma for a character to come up against and solve is probably one of the things they think they need to shove into stories to make them resonate with audiences. 

Maybe they are right. I don't know. I do know that the majority of characters on 3 Body Problem were unengageing and forgettable, and all this flapping over moral choices was actually quite boring. 

Maybe the chinese version of the story wouldn't translate as well, doubt I will ever try and watch the original however.

Development of the characters is the weakest part of the books, and even though I think the show improves on this, it's still not great.  It's a fair criticism.  Where the series does its best work is in the world building and some of the storylines I thought were strong, particularly the main storyline of the second book which was set up at the end of first season of the Netflix show.  

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Well after finishing season one the best I can say about the show is that I'm 'mildly' curious about what happens next but I would not be too sad if they never made a second season. The main bulk of the story is unfortunately bogged down by elements that don't add a lot. The whole plot about the dying guy moping after a girl and will they /won't they put his head in a jar seemed to go on forever and wasn't helping the story.

The season ended with a bit of a 'was that it?!' feeling as well, it just kind of petered out. From what I can tell the story is about to get a lot bigger and more interesting, but there was little hint of that from this season.

Haven't read the book, so can't really comment on how well D&D adapted it, but it does feel like they have their mucky fingerprints all over it.

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38 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Well after finishing season one the best I can say about the show is that I'm 'mildly' curious about what happens next but I would not be too sad if they never made a second season. The main bulk of the story is unfortunately bogged down by elements that don't add a lot. The whole plot about the dying guy moping after a girl and will they /won't they put his head in a jar seemed to go on forever and wasn't helping the story.

The season ended with a bit of a 'was that it?!' feeling as well, it just kind of petered out. From what I can tell the story is about to get a lot bigger and more interesting, but there was little hint of that from this season.

Haven't read the book, so can't really comment on how well D&D adapted it, but it does feel like they have their mucky fingerprints all over it.

I can quite understand how if you haven't read the books, a lot of the content of the TV show might seem pointless. All I can say without spoilers, is the 'brain shot into space', the 'dead guy buying his girl a star' and the clueless dude being given unlimited power by the UN are all massive plot-points going forward. I can't be sure D&D will present them as grippingly as they should, but I'm mildly hopeful.

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15 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

I can quite understand how if you haven't read the books, a lot of the content of the TV show might seem pointless. All I can say without spoilers, is the 'brain shot into space', the 'dead guy buying his girl a star' and the clueless dude being given unlimited power by the UN are all massive plot-points going forward. I can't be sure D&D will present them as grippingly as they should, but I'm mildly hopeful.

Sure, I don't doubt it will be important, it just seemed to drag and seemed to be more concerned with some dull love triangle story.

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59 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Sure, I don't doubt it will be important, it just seemed to drag and seemed to be more concerned with some dull love triangle story.

As a book reader, part of the fun of this journey will be watching the perspective of show watchers shift. With the caveat that this all depends on to what extent of proficiency Woo, Benioff and Weis adapt the experience of reading the books, right now many of the reactions are that the show is decent enough, but is that it? By the end, however, this should become a show profoundly different from anything else out there in terms of scale and ambition. And a rewatch will give details that were previously banal a much greater weight.

A lot depends on the skill of the adaptation though. It will be interesting to see how the journey evolves.

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7 minutes ago, IFR said:

As a book reader, part of the fun of this journey will be watching the perspective of show watchers shift. With the caveat that this all depends on to what extent of proficiency Woo, Benioff and Weis adapt the experience of reading the books, right now many of the reactions are that the show is decent enough, but is that it? By the end, however, this should become a show profoundly different from anything else out there in terms of scale and ambition. And a rewatch will give details that were previously banal a much greater weight.

A lot depends on the skill of the adaptation though. It will be interesting to see how the journey evolves.

If I was to base my expectations of where this show is going purely on what I've seen from the show itself. I think I might be pretty unexcited. I wouldn't be very interested in more of the same.

However from things I've seen from book readers, it is very likely to much different, which is maybe the only thing holding my curiosity. 

I think they should have done something like a trailer for season 2 at the back end of the show, even if they haven't filmed any of it yet, just to raise expectations. As it was, the final scene was quite meh. 

Edited by Heartofice
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3 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

However from things I've seen from book readers, it is very likely to much different, which is maybe the only thing holding my curiosity. 

I'm actually a little bit pessimistic about this. The books cover a long time-period spanning generations and thus requiring new characters, but I've a sinking feeling D&D will abuse the cryogenic technology Wade hinted at late on in the show to keep "recycling" the feckin' Oxford 5 'cos they're the heart of the story D&D want to tell.

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3 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

I'm actually a little bit pessimistic about this. The books cover a long time-period spanning generations and thus requiring new characters, but I've a sinking feeling D&D will abuse the cryogenic technology Wade hinted at late on in the show to keep "recycling" the feckin' Oxford 5 'cos they're the heart of the story D&D want to tell.

Maybe. At this juncture it's impossible to say how well this will all turn out. I personally think that at the level the first season was executed, the ambition of the show runners probably exceeds their ability. My hope is that with the first season as a trial, they've developed more awareness of the technical limitations they are confronted with (even given the large budget they have) and adapt around these limitations in inventive ways. Less focus on CGI and more focus on practical effects that are visually interesting. 2001 was made almost 60 years ago, and a lot of that looks better than what was seen in the first season of this show.

Character and story wise, the first book was heavily compressed and the ending was really just a set up for the structure of the rest of the show grafted awkwardly to the conclusion. The first season was clearly something the show runners wanted to get out of the way so they could get to the material they actually found interesting in the trilogy, and it kind of shows. The show runners have pretty much openly stated this is the case too. I don't know if the quality of the rest of the show can really be predicted by this first season when it's intended as a set-up for the rest of the show, where the following seasons will be the payoff.

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SPOILERS for whole of season 1

 

Things noticed that pass by fast and might not be noticed (I have not read the books):

1. Auggie sees her countdown after looking at screens. The karaoke screen starts to flicker. Then later her phone screen develops a fuzz. Only after both of those moments does the countdown become fully visible. Later, Wade sees the sophon after first seeing her on the screen. So, STAY AWAY FROM SCREENS everyone. The aliens can get you that way.

2. At the funeral, Jack's horns hand gesture. This has ambiguous meaning, depending on cultural context but in the case of the TV show and the role Jin plays in the story it could easily carry most of those meanings at once (unintentionally). Protection against the devil, cuckoldry, heavy metal rebellion, good luck, etc.

3. The precise topic Will is teaching, in the very brief scene that we see of him teaching. Parallel realities. This seems very relevant to his future now that he is a floating brain. So too does the moment where Jin makes boats for him and herself. Seems like she too may one day be floating off into the unknown.

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11 minutes ago, Hippocras said:

SPOILERS for whole of season 1

 

Things noticed that pass by fast and might not be noticed (I have not read the books):

1. Auggie sees her countdown after looking at screens. The karaoke screen starts to flicker. Then later her phone screen develops a fuzz. Only after both of those moments does the countdown become fully visible. Later, Wade sees the sophon after first seeing her on the screen. So, STAY AWAY FROM SCREENS everyone. The aliens can get you that way.

2. At the funeral, Jack's horns hand gesture. This has ambiguous meaning, depending on cultural context but in the case of the TV show and the role Jin plays in the story it could easily carry most of those meanings at once (unintentionally). Protection against the devil, cuckoldry, heavy metal rebellion, good luck, etc.

3. The precise topic Will is teaching, in the very brief scene that we see of him teaching. Parallel realities. This seems very relevant to his future now that he is a floating brain. So too does the moment where Jin makes boats for him and herself. Seems like she too may one day be floating off into the unknown.

Without getting too spoilery and sticking to the show, I think it's briefly explained in-show that sophons work on a sub-atomic level, and thus can enter anyone's eyeballs whether they're staring at screens or not. Although that's maybe a moot point, since theoretical physicists these days are not likely to get far in their careers not looking at screens.

On point #3 again, it's explained that sophons are made by opening up protons to 13 (or 11, I forget) dimensions. So Will's teaching does coincidentally connect to the Son-Ti technology of working with multiple dimensions, which you can call parallel realities or universes.

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23 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

Without getting too spoilery and sticking to the show, I think it's briefly explained in-show that sophons work on a sub-atomic level, and thus can enter anyone's eyeballs whether they're staring at screens or not. Although that's maybe a moot point, since theoretical physicists these days are not likely to get far in their careers not looking at screens.

Even so, the show does seem to be hinting at something with the screens - though it might be just a point about perception and the ability to manipulate it rather than an actual direct need for screens. Still, there is something in there about light (screens are a form of controlled light array), eyes and manipulation.

23 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

On point #3 again, it's explained that sophons are made by opening up protons to 13 (or 11, I forget) dimensions. So Will's teaching does coincidentally connect to the Son-Ti technology of working with multiple dimensions, which you can call parallel realities or universes.

Yes. But beyond that these things also seem to hint at something specific between Will and Jin. And obviously this is not a simply cheesy romance thing because.... well... he is a floating brain and she has her own unusual future.

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1 minute ago, Hippocras said:

Even so, the show does seem to be hinting at something with the screens - though it might be just a point about perception and the ability to manipulate it rather than an actual direct need for screens. Still, there is something in there about light (screens are a form of controlled light array), eyes and manipulation.

Yes. But beyond that these things also seem to hint at something specific between Will and Jin. And obviously this is not a simply cheesy romance thing because.... well... he is a floating brain and she has her own unusual future.

Regarding the last point, it's hard to say, as they are conglomerates of different characters in the book. So we're in the hands of D&D's ability to conjour convincing characters and their relationships. That brings me back to my comment about being mildly pessimistic, but we'll see.

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5 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

Regarding the last point, it's hard to say, as they are conglomerates of different characters in the book. So we're in the hands of D&D's ability to conjour convincing characters and their relationships. That brings me back to my comment about being mildly pessimistic, but we'll see.

I would think it would be very interesting as a book reader to see these characters reformulated and reconfigured - because it means that watching the show is something new and not just someone else's projection of things you already know.

Anyway, my take on the reimagined characters is that it actually makes a lot more sense than setting everything in China would - because if aliens are coming to take over the Earth, that is everyone's problem, not just China's. Characters made international makes the story international, and raises the stakes when it comes to human interactions and the trickiness of collaboration on big problems.

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Yes, the story becomes international in the book, once the aliens have 'outed' themselves globally. The UN and Wade's organisation are international, as are some of the wallfacers. Humanity comes together, Star Trek-like to face the common enemy, with the "treacherous" ETO being similarly international.

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