Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Gravity": review

Director Alfonso Cuarón's spare-but-magnificent "Gravity" is a near-Earth-orbit space adventure starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Cuarón wrote the story himself, along with his son Jonás. The film has received orgasmic reviews by almost all the major critics to be found at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and is assured several Oscar nominations. I went out to see "Gravity" for myself this past Friday; I had to know whether the film was really worth all the hype.

The short answer is yes. "Gravity" is what I had previously conjectured it to be: a minimalist play performed on a maximalist set, and I love minimalist drama.* The story concept is about as simple as it comes: a woman, neophyte (and nausea-prone) payload specialist Dr. Ryan Stone, finds herself stranded in the deadly environment of space, with almost no help from anyone except veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, out on the final EVA of his career.

The movie begins with Lieutenant Kowalski puffing around in near-Earth orbit, playfully testing out his jet pack and joking with the folks down in Houston, while Drs. Stone and Dasari conduct repairs on the Hubble telescope. A report from Mission Control warns that a Russian missile, in exploding an old Russian satellite, has inadvertently caused a chain reaction: flying debris from the missile impact is striking other satellites, causing more debris, and it's all heading toward the team, which must immediately abort its mission. The team fails to strike camp quickly enough, and when the debris cloud comes, with some pieces flying at 20,000 miles per hour, all hell breaks loose. The space shuttle Explorer is irreparably damaged; the crew inside the shuttle is killed, and so is Dr. Dasari, who receives a horrifying, instantly flash-frozen head wound while still outside the shuttle.

The rest of the film focuses on Dr. Stone's attempt to return to Earth alive. Although it's set against the backdrop of the entire universe, "Gravity" is primal in its simplicity, and it portrays a classic Hollywood scenario: the ordinary person who finds herself in extraordinary circumstances, relying on nothing but her guts and her brains to survive. Critics have noted the thematic resemblance of "Gravity" to films like "Apollo 13" and the just-released Robert Redford adventure "All Is Lost" (about a man surviving alone at sea in a damaged vessel). They have also mentioned that "Gravity" contains pensive moments of silent interiority that recall "2001: A Space Odyssey," especially the moment when we see Dr. Stone floating in a fetal position, much like the star-child at the end of "2001."

Without a doubt, "Gravity" is full of such references and symbolism, but I see it primarily as an eloquent sermon on the existentialist point of view. Post-World War II French existentialism, as exemplified by its two most famous exponents, the philosophical Jean-Paul Sartre and the literary Albert Camus, is a worldview that sees the cosmos not merely as meaningless, but as actively absurd. The meaning we find, in this universe, is the meaning we create: we are the sum of our own choices; our significance arises from the exercise of our inherent human freedom. We shape our destinies; the alternative is to be a victim of circumstance, to curl up and die helplessly, pathetically. Existentialism is a tough-minded philosophy, and another of its major themes is alienation—separation from God, nature, others, and one's own self—a condition that "Gravity" portrays with almost brutal efficiency. Dr. Stone, at the beginning of the movie, initially enjoys the silence and aloneness that come of being out in space, despite her nausea. But partway through the film, hopeless and in despair after struggling through a series of disasters, she contemplates suicide. Eventually, though, she makes the choice to survive, to see this trial through, and that choice, the choice to bear her own burdens and soldier on, is resoundingly existentialist. To live is to choose to live.

I saw, earlier, a very negative YouTube review of "Gravity" by an ostensibly feminist reviewer who critiqued Sandra Bullock's character. The reviewer noted with annoyance that Bullock's Dr. Stone is, at the beginning, reduced to little more than screaming and hyperventilating. Stone needs help from the only male in range, Clooney's Matt Kowalski, and all of this struck the reviewer as another offensive example of Hollywood's tendency to showcase weak female characters. After seeing "Gravity" myself, I'd have to disagree. If Dr. Stone is screaming and helpless at the beginning, it's because (1) she's never been in space before, (2) she suddenly finds herself in an unimaginably horrifying situation, and (3) she's only human. An inexperienced guy in that same situation would doubtless also need help from a robust, self-assured Matt Kowalski. Given how Dr. Stone handles herself for the rest of the movie, I'd say she was very strong, indeed.

If "Gravity" doesn't win the Oscar for best visual effects, I'll be shocked. I think it could also easily win an award for best cinematography: Cuarón's inventive camera takes long tracking shots that subtly slide into and out of the astronauts' helmets, switching perspectives but never once allowing us to be confused by the action. Watching "Gravity" was like watching Martin Scorsese (another lover of long tracking shots) work in three dimensions. Clooney gives a workmanlike performance as an astronaut on his final mission, and Bullock does a superb job of carrying most of the film on her slight shoulders. My prediction on Twitter was that "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" would clean up at the 2014 Oscars, leaving few pickings for the rest of the hopefuls.

My only real complaint about the movie isn't the inaccuracies of the physics (geeks have noted that, due to their different orbits, the Hubble telescope and the International Space Station should not have been in the same story): it's about the music. Composed by Steven Price, the music occasionally sounded like warmed-over James Horner (who scored such films as "Star Trek 2," "Aliens," "Titanic," "Apollo 13," and "Avatar") mixed with Brad Fiedel ("Terminator," "Terminator 2," "True Lies"). It was intrusive, overly melodramatic and, I think, totally unnecessary. If anything, it reminded me of the aesthetic strategy used in "Firefly," a TV series that recognized there was no sound in space, and that filled the vast silence with twangy music during the space-travel cut scenes. How different would "Gravity" have been without music?

But that's a relatively minor complaint about a gripping, fascinating movie. "Gravity" is well-acted, beautifully shot, and deals with primal, profound human themes. It's a feast for both the eyes and the mind. I saw it in regular 2-D, but I've heard that it's one of the few films that really justifies the use of 3-D technology. If nothing else, "Gravity" is a big-screen experience: your living room's HDTV is too small of a canvas to display this adventure in the great, unforgiving vastness of space. See the movie while it's still in theaters.

*Hence my admiration of "The Sunset Limited," which I still haven't reviewed. I'd like to watch it again before I say anything about it.



John from Daejeon said...

I still think you need to check out Europa Report to compare to "Gravity." Just remember that "Europa" is a small budget film that isn't a Hollywood blockbuster or starring any Hollywood stars. And, as Tony Hopkins pointed out in a letter to a fellow Hollywood actor, the "business is full of sickening bullshit," so the likes of the average public moviegoer seeing a great film like "Europa" was drowned out by all the overly overt gushing praise lavished upon "Gravity" well before it hit the big screen. Therefore, a great little independent film like "Europa Report," with a solid story, a great international cast, and special effects that surpass "Gravity's," never, ever, even stood an equal chance against "Gravity" with the Hollywood heavyweight Warner Bros.'s pr department and major media outlets associated with Time Warner Inc. in its corner. They were able to ensure that this competing little film, that was shot in just 18 days in a warehouse in Brooklyn by an Ecuadorian film director who had never directed an English language film before, was squashed like a bug before it even got a chance to shine. Just so it wouldn't compete at all with their $100 million dollar, major star-driven, investment.

As for "Gravity," it was a great film that I'd already seen before (for the most part) back in 2003. Only then, it was known as Open Water. I almost missed this great little film back then, luckily Roger Ebert lavishly praised it which peaked my interest in this half "inner space" film. I'm pretty sure he would have done the same with "Europa Report," and he may have been one of the few to question the similarities between the situations in both "Open Water" and "Gravity."

SJHoneywell said...

So now that I've seen the film, I feel I can read through your review of it. You're right--we did pick up on a lot of the same things. Feminist complaints of Dr. Stone's initial weakness is frankly bullshit--her reaction isn't a woman's reaction, but a human one.

More to the point, she kept her shit together far better than I would have in that situation.

Dan O. said...

Good review Kevin. Worth the watch, especially on the big screen. Nothing else like it.

gordsellar said...

Hm. I'm not sure I agree. Not because Stone's reaction isn't human--it really is--but because, as bloody usual, it's the woman in the story who is inexperienced and needs guidance from a man, the woman who screams in terror, the woman who is "vulnerable" and is "saved" -- even metaphorically -- by the "handsome" prince. (He keeps joking about his handsomeness.) Giving Bullock's character the reactions she had for the context and for her own experience level isn't sexist. But one does detect a whiff of it in the decision to make the female astronaut the inexperienced one, and the male astronaut the eventual "spirit guide." And then there's the issue of her maternity being so important. It's not objectionable in itself, but it is a bit over-familiar.

But what's really interesting is the difference in how hard-SF people and scientists talk about it, versus everyone else. This is why John from Daejeon talks about Europa Report--which, incidentally, was the film I saw just before seeing Gravity, and also liked a lot: they have similar themes, they both are trying hard to make a hard SF film where the science is a "character" in the story, and perhaps in certain scenes the main character.

And those people basically love Gravity *despite* its scientific flaws, the biggest one for me being that Clooney's character had no momentum, and would not have drifted off into space once Bullock's character let go. His separation made no sense whatsoever, and I was kind of gobsmacked to see something so wrong in such a wonderfully science-informed film. Problems of sats things being too close together in orbit, or the unlikelihood of the catastrophic chain reaction, I can stomach, but Clooney "falling" when there's no physics reason for it? (And surely Clooney would know enough to know he could throw the now-useless jetpack in the opposite direction to get a little momentum towards the ISS. It was a cheap Hollywood drama trick, of which the film had a few... and yet, I loved the film anyway.)

By the way, I didn't know you were back in Korea. I was just cleaning up my feeds, and had been certain this blog was defunct. It's nice to know you're posting here again! Maybe we'll have a chance to meet up next time I pass through Korea... which should be a while, but still... :)

gordsellar said...

Ooops, forgot to subscribe for follow-up comments. :)

Kevin Kim said...

Yup-- back in Korea since August. Mom died in 2010, and I slowly returned to blogging back here not long after her passing.

If you do find yourself back in Korea, gimme a holler. We can disagree about stuff in person for a change.

Me, I'm a Camille Paglia feminist, which means, in part, that I don't separate biology from sex/gender issues the way so many modern feminists try to do. Maternity is integral to womanhood-- at least for women who are mothers.

But more to the point, I agree with Steve Honeywell's assessment that sex and gender really don't play significant roles in this film: as he contends, the roles could have been changed around with no damage to the story. You might reply, "Then why didn't they change the roles?" But the underlying assumption behind that question is that the only way to avoid sexism is to be deliberate and self-conscious about one's political correctness: to avoid sexism (which is often viewed as a one-way street because of [mis!]perceived phallocratic power dynamics), always defer to the woman. I reject that. A truly non-sexist approach wouldn't be about always making the man the helpless victim in movies: it'd be about not caring who was in which role. If I'm reading Steve right, I think that's the point he's making in his own review, and I agree.

As for the physics: yes, I thought Clooney's release was bogus, too, but maybe that scene could bear re-watching: if he and Bullock were attached to something spinning, then the angular momentum could have been problematic. Even if there were such momentum in play, I further agree with you that Clooney could have done something, like throw his jet pack, to compensate.

gordsellar said...

Hi Kevin,

Right, I remember your mom passing. :( I didn't know you'd returned to blogging here. Have you posted abou your decision to return to Korea? I'm just, er, curious. (My wife said, "Insanity!" when I mentioned it to her.)

Sure, it'd be nice to meet up for once.

I'm not crazy about Paglia specifically, though I agree that it's stupid to separate biology from sex/gender issues in a doctrinaire way. That said, the caveat is always important: Maternity is integral to womanhood... at least for women who are mothers.

Motherhood is a valid part of identity (and unfortunately for some mothers it's even something of an identity crutch; the number of unhappy moms who overcompensate for a lack of personal interests by micromanaging their kids lives is a testament to that). But it's not just a question of validity: it's a question of the frequency of depiction.

I mean, for example: if I make a horror (or SF movie, or whatever) movie, I'm not going to kill the black dude first. I'm not going to do that because it's done so damned often that even if I wanted to claim color-blindness in the writing and direction, the claim would be laughable. I might not make the black guy live to the end--or I might. It gets perceived as a self-conscious, politically correct thing only if I do it badly.

My point is, then, that there's nothing wrong with telling stories about mothers; what's wrong is that motherhood is taken as an off-the-shelf, stock character trait that ends up being a sort of stereotype. It's like having a Mexican character who is a drug dealer or gardener, or a lesbian who's a bull dyke, or a black character who is either a "POC buddy" or some kind of helper (or magical helper) to the main (white) protagonist. It's lazy.

Of course, the thing is that maternity is the obvious, easy bulwark against the sort of Ligottian pessimistic nihilism that Bullock's character confronts and, briefly, takes to heart. In that, it's helpful that she's a bereaved mother, and that seeing past the void requires overcoming her grieving to some degree. In embracing a (vague, fuzzy) "higher power" she embraces the humanistic, optimistic religiosity of hard SF, and rejects the Ligottian void. (And so the story ends up resolving into hard SF, instead of existential horror.)

But I can't help but wonder why they couldn't have, say, an atheist, childless woman... since, if the character were a man, I would wager hard cash he would be (like the Clooney character seems to be) childless and atheist. Especially since childless atheists are a much larger part of the segment of society from which Bullock's character comes.

As for Clooney's release: I don't think the space station was spinning. I've seen the film twice, and the second time I was watching closely to see if anything was indicating *any* sort of explanation for it, but I couldn't see one. (Sadly, the second time I was wearing 3D glasses, and couldn't see the stars in the background, if there were any. 3D glasses usually don't mess up the view for me, watching with a lazy eye, but in this film they did,I think because there was way deeper focus lengths or something was different about the 3D.) I imagine if it was spinning, that would have been depicted, to give them an out, but everything about it suggested they had lost all momentum.

Kevin Kim said...

"I didn't know you'd returned to blogging here. Have you posted [about] your decision to return to Korea? I'm just, er, curious. (My wife said, "Insanity!" when I mentioned it to her.)"

You've got a lot of catch-up reading to do, then!

I did write quite a bit over the past two or three years about my desire to change jobs to something better-paying, given how tight my budget was. (My current job doesn't pay that much, alas, so my budget's as tight as ever. I need to grab some extra work.) I had explored, on the blog, various options that seemed more or less viable to me, and I narrowed them down, one by one, until I was left with the Korea strategy. So—here I am.

Korea's like a second home to me, so I don't find returning here to be insane. Sure, the country has its myriad problems, but it also has its myriad virtues.

"But I can't help but wonder why they couldn't have, say, an atheist, childless woman..."

That would be "Contact," with Jodie Foster. Heh. Maybe the Cuarón family felt they'd be copycatting.

There's also the marketing aspect to consider: how relatable would a childless atheist protag—man or woman—be to the majority of the general public? ("Contact," the movie, deals with a similar issue: childless unbeliever Dr. Ellie Arroway is initially rejected in her bid to enter the alien device because her atheism makes her a poor representative of the earth's population, whereas Dr. David Drumlin mouths some mealy religious platitudes and gets the golden ticket.)

Of course, you're not the only one to complain about Ryan Stone's back story in "Gravity." But for many critics, the complaints weren't so much feminist as literary: Stone's background struck some reviewers as disappointingly boilerplate. (Not that feminist and literary perspectives are somehow mutually exclusive...)

gordsellar said...


Oh, always! But I'll go look at what you've written on the subject. If you're happy in Korea, what the hell, what works, works. I'm sure there's plenty of side jobs to be had there, too.

And it's not as if we're not still teaching Koreans. We are, just... we don't work for Korean institutions now, and are happier for it. The cost of living is lower in Saigon, but Korean students pay better than Vietnamese ones, are less prone to get into endless tuition negotiations or cancel suddenly, and are plentiful. (Though they're just as depressed as most Koreans in Korea, so we have started doing interviews to see whether prospective students have any spark that suggests maybe teaching them might be something other than an exercise in futility.)

That would be "Contact," with Jodie Foster. Heh. Maybe the Cuarón family felt they'd be copycatting.

Ah, Contact. I've alway felt ambivalent about all that. I like the clear skewering of Drumlin mouthing the platitudes. I have always resented the weird religiosity of the aliens, though. The book troubled me even more, with the whole, "Pi is a message from God." Ugh.

There's also the marketing aspect to consider: how relatable would a childless atheist protag—man or woman—be to the majority of the general public?

Well, I think that's nonsense, really; somewhere on the level of, "Would a black protagonist be relatable?" or "Would a woman be a relatable hero?" People would have to be basically imaginatively crippled to be really unable to relate to a childless atheist protagonist.

But I also realize this is America we're talking about, and that Hollywood prefers "easily relatable" protagonists, and all that.

My criticism of Ryan Stone's backstory is both literary and feminist (and skeptic, also), I suppose. I don't see how the objections could be disentangled along those multiple axes anyway. Sensible literature is sufficiently feminist to repudiate the sexist boilerplate. Sensible literary practice renders atheists relatable.

That said, within the realm of hard SF it's not uncommon for characters to be boilerplatey because it helps prevent distraction from the scientific aspects of the narrative... or so the story goes. Greg Egan and Peter Watts do otherwise, and older hard SF, I find it's more just a case of the authors being less interested in depicting characters and more interested in conveying scientific and speculative ideas. So there is, at least, some precedent for a boilerplate backstory for the characters.

It's weird to think of all this as a creator myself. I see people castigate flat characters, but a good, memorable, wonderful flat character is hard to do too. They do have their uses. I'm thinking of Mason from Dead Like Me, a very flat but very memorable and loveable character. Or, Delores Herbig from the same show...

Kevin Kim said...

KEVIN: "There's also the marketing aspect to consider: how relatable would a childless atheist protag—man or woman—be to the majority of the general public?"

GORD: "Well, I think that's nonsense, really; somewhere on the level of, 'Would a black protagonist be relatable?' or 'Would a woman be a relatable hero?' People would have to be basically imaginatively crippled to be really unable to relate to a childless atheist protagonist."

Both "black" and "woman" are wide, generously expansive categories; of course people can relate to them. I gladly concede that. "Childless [white] female atheist," by contrast, is a much, much narrower demographic with correspondingly less mass appeal.

I wouldn't call myself imaginatively crippled, but I admit I had a very hard time relating to Heinlein's protag Friday, a childless, atheistic white woman, in his novel Friday. Friday, as you may recall, is a genetically engineered superwoman-- smarter, faster, and far tougher than any of her human counterparts. I tried reading the novel four or five times, and failed each time. I simply couldn't relate, couldn't connect. If I recall correctly, Friday was also part of a "circle marriage," i.e., a marital unit composed of several men and women who, once betrothed, enjoyed the same spousal rights with all of their spouses: the men could bed any woman in the circle (or any man!); the women could do likewise. The notion of the circle wedding was expropriated by the writers of "Caprica" but, committed monogamist that I am, I still couldn't relate to such an arrangement, despite its having been instantiated on TV. That's another strike against Friday.

So yeah, I think relatability matters, and it isn't nonsense at all. In an ideal world, we would all be able to relate to each other, to empathize, based on our common humanity, but the fact remains that humans today are still, even in modern, "evolved" societies, quite tribal. I'd go so far as to say that the multiculturalist worldview has done much to keep people of different stripes from relating to each other: they're too busy trumpeting the virtues of their own respective cultures/ethnicities. Kind of ironic.

John from Daejeon said...

"Last Days on Mars" is another good little science fiction flick getting screwed over in "Gavity's" wake and its all too mafia-like studio keeping the lid on it.

While some of the film's subject matter was a bit laughable at times, going out the way they did is probably the worst way I could think to go out.

On the small screen, you might be interested in the religious aspects of Showtime's hard to watch new series, "Time of Death." Showtime is even offering the series premiere for free, but you might need a VPN to see it in South Korea. I am still numb after watching the series, but it featured some truly courageous people and showed how the impending loss of a loved one affects everyone quite differently (including the dying). I remember being mostly numb, and a bit out of it, when I've previously lost loved ones. But after watching this series, I think my future interactions with death will no longer be as feared or as upsetting as they were before. There aren't too many television programs I've ever been really grateful for, but this one ranks up there with the best of them.

gordsellar said...


My point about black and female protagonists is that plenty of people would have thought them unrelatable a few decades ago. Now, the idea seems absurd. If we can find people who have been bitter by radioactive spiders and develop superpowers relatable--and, hell, even mutants who feel driven to mass murder or dictatorship, like Magneto, who is deep down a compelling villain precisely because he is relatable (which is why bad guys get all the good lines in superhero stories)--then I think an atheist with no kids isn't such a bloody stretch, except of course for those who are outright bigoted, and for them, there's not much we can do.

I'd argue the popularity of Gravity would not have been impeded if allusions to the supernatural hadn't been made.

As for Friday, I never got around to it--I had a copy for years, but it sat on the shelves. Heinlein doesn't excite me, though I admit I gave him less of a chance after the libertarian-military wet dream Starship Troopers, and after not getting very far into Farnham's Freehold. (I didn't even get to the famously racist part; the insane sexism in the beginning turned me off long before that.) But I get the impression Friday was an unrelatable character because of a bunch of ridiculous things about her--primarily her being a Heinlein Mary Sue type character--rather than her being a childless atheist.

(Though I will say that I seem to find a lot of characters relatable that others struggle with. The protagonist in Charles Stross' tribute to Heinlein--basically a remix of Friday, as a sexbot faced with the obvious existential dilemmas of such a machine surviving humanity's extinction--was pretty relatable to me. So, for that matter, was Inoshiro, the AI protagonist in Greg Egan's novel Diaspora. My point is: a well-written character is relatable. Sure, if you're writing for a weirdly religious audience, you might leave the atheism undiscussed, as you might have to do in places like America and Iran, but it's in how you write the character, not in how much you kowtow to some common denominator.

As for multiculturalism, well... I just think any multiculturalism that is all about praising cultures, and putting them on pedestals, rather than critically thinking about and arguing about them, is a broken multiculturalism. Every culture has things that are fundamentally wrong with them, and it seems to me the slowest way to confront those is to ignore the lessons learned by other cultures working through the same issues. But that's what you get when identity politics trumps science: people get so invested in being born from some place, or being a member of this or that gene pool, that it overshadows the fact that cultures aren't inherited from the gods, but rather were made--flawed, fallible--by people, and continue to by made by them.

gordsellar said...

All that said, and in response to John's last comment, have any of you watched the Canal+ (French-language) TV series Les Revenants? I'm halfway through and I have to say, it's amazing so far. It's shot, paced, scripted, and blocked exactly like how you'd produce a mainstream TV drama (a very good one, I mean) except it happens to be about a small French town in which several revenants (people returned from the dead, a bit Brandon Lee's character in The Crow) show up, for reasons that are of course mysterious at first, but become somewhat clearer as the story progresses. They don't look like undead, just... resurrected, unchanged, years after their death.

I find it refreshingly honest about death as it is experienced and dealt with by the family/friends/community (albeit in most cases, at some remove of time, for obvious reasons: usually there is no story that can be told in the immediate aftermath), and it's both compassionate and creepy though not just for the sake of creepiness or of maudlin sentimentality, most of the time. The use of the supernatural in the show seems (so far) primarily a way of saying things about the subject that can't be explored so well in non-fantastical drama. (In some ways, every other show I've seen in even the same territory ends up looking like YA next to a grown-up, literary-fantastic show like this. So far, anyway.)

I'd be very curious to hear what you all think of that show, if you ever get around to it.

(PS: Man, I forgot Blogger was such a PITA about comments. a 4800-odd character limit AND a captcha! Things haven't changed!)

John from Daejeon said...

Gord, I was very underwhelmed by the film, so I haven't bothered to tune in to the TV series. However, it must be pretty good as it looks like it and several other French TV programs are getting a shot at a U.S. remake though. We'll have to see how they fare in regards to all those British TV shows that were remade for U.S. audiences. Personally, I think all these remakes will get the short end of the stick as The Walking Dead spin-off is as close to a surefire hit as you can get in today's increasingly niche, television landscape.

gordsellar said...


I haven't seen the film (though it's on the shortlist of things to watch after we finish the season) but even just reading about it, the TV is very different, in ways that make me suspect you might like it more. For one, it's not a massive social management problem--not a mass of dead people back to life--but just a few individuals in a single community, who seem each to be drawn by some force strong enough to pull them back from over the brink. Also, it's more plotty by the looks of it: the serial killer on the loose, the family dynamics of dealing with a revenant kid, and so on. The people writing this learned from shows like Battlestar Galactica (and maybe Dan Brown? or, for all I know, Dumas) always to end a chapter on the kind of cliffhanger than makes you want to watch the next episode immediately.

As for US remakes, I rarely pay them any mind: every one I've actually watched has been inferior, with one exception. The exception was Shameless, which is pretty brilliant in both the UK and US version, but I somehow like the US series (thanks to Willia Macy, more than anything, and maybe just the extra episodes' worth of time to explore the sordid family). But in general, I don't understand the US need to remake everything instead of just airing really great things from abroad in the original form.

(Again, I think it's a case of foreshortened horizons--and resulting crippled imaginations--that are both unnecessary and unfortunate.)