Exchange (Excerpt)

Friend: Well, there are the Mad Max movies. I’m in the minority of people who approve even of Thunderdome, a trilogistic leniency I can’t extend even to Indiana Jones (where, oddly, I approve of #2 but not of #3). Isn’t “break a deal, face the wheel” about the most perfectly ridiculous, and thereby accurate, utterance of the law of the mob who have probaby been fed their populism by the elites?

Me: By the by, you are entirely correct in your Indiana Jones assessment. Temple of Doom was a hot mess, but it wasn’t derivative camp of the original, which was derivative itself (albeit wonderfully so). Last Crusade was a jokey depantsing of Raiders; all the same elements, revisited as farce. It broke my heart. And it led directly to Crystal Skull.

Friend: In repetition, every good thing starts to reference itself, to the point that it becomes an ad for itself. Stand-up comedians in particular. I notice it as well with Columbo, my great favorite. You can see already in season three where they are laying it on thick. I forgive it all, but still….

Me: Yes, I can see what you mean about self-referencing, but the winking way they did it made me ashamed of my own childlike childhood love for the original. And, to quote Don Corleone, that I do not forgive. A TV series, a formula TV series like Columbo, cannot help but reference itself. It’s a formula. Last Crusade brought in a genuine new storyline – father v. son – and could have worked with it. Instead, they used it to pour liquid manure all over the Nazi v. God storyline from Raiders.


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Yeah, Thunderdome was good stuff. It also played a part in one of the more memorable concert experiences I can remember. R.E.M. playing the Paramont (could it have been the Reckoning tour?), and after the crowd screams for yet a third encore, out comes Stipe with a boom box, which keeps a funky electronic beat while he sings an otherwise unaccompanied "We Don't Need Another Hero". Good times, good times.

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    "One of the more memorable concerts I can remember" – THAT's good stuff …

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    It's the memorable concerts that you can't remember that really take the cake, though. Still – hate points for having seen REM before the Green tour, which is when I saw 'em. Hearing Stipe warble "All the children say!" must have been heartbreaking.

  4. Jonathan Webb says

    It's too bad that real Nazis aren't still around in non-genocidal form because they make the most sinister and best dressed villains.

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