Not, to be fair, that the short form nominees actually matter, as it's been plainly clear since last summer that the 2009 category might as well have been renamed The Joss Whedon Award for Best Doctor Horrible Sing-Along Blog-ness for all that there's been any doubt about the winner. Which I don't really have a problem with--there were hours of genre television I liked better than Doctor Horrible in 2008, but not many, and none of them are among the nominees. I probably like "Turn Left" best of the remaining nominees, though having seen its two followup episodes I'm less positive towards it than I was when I first watched it (and anyway, I think "Midnight" should have gotten a nod instead). My least favorite nominee is Galactica's "Revelations," not so much because it was a bad episode but because the only memorable thing about it was its scorched earth ending (which anyway has been devalued by the abysmal series finale it led up to).
Which leaves Doctor Who's "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" and Lost's "The Constant." Both are decent enough, but I'm inclined to be harder on Who than on Lost. With three Hugos already on his mantel, I think that Stephen Moffat should be graded on a curve, and this was by far his worst story for Who, overlong and lazily plotted despite his clever lines and fun characters. I also think that "The Constant," the only one of the nominees I hadn't seen in its original airing, didn't really get a fair shake out of me when I tracked it down this morning, since by that point I'd already heard too much about it and its twists. That said, I don't really understand why this episode caused such an uproar in Lost fandom last year. It gets points for focusing on the only character I could still stand when I stopped watching the show and the only relationship I didn't find completely icky, but as a time travel story it relies mainly on handwaving, and as a piece of storytelling it uses the sweetness of its central romance as a crutch. It was very touching when Penny answered Desmond's phone call, but really, was that it?
My votes, then:
- Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
- "Turn Left," Doctor Who
- "The Constant," Lost
- "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead," Doctor Who
- "Revelations," Battlestar Galactica
Which leaves what is probably the most interesting nominee on both dramatic presentation ballots this year, the audio-anthology METAtropolis, in which editor John Scalzi and contributors Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, and Karl Schroeder jointly imagined the city of the future and then wrote stories set in or around it (the anthology is available for free download here, though you'll have to sign up for Audible). It should be said that I don't feel like the best judge of this nominee, since on the one hand it's difficult to compare an audiobook to a film, and on the other hand I'm not a big fan of the audiobook experience, which demands enough of my attention that I can't do anything else while listening, but doesn't monopolize it, leaving me feeling idle and restless. With that caveat, I have to say that I was rather unimpressed by METAtropolis. The stories themselves are exposition-heavy, with very little action or meaningful conversations--Farah Mendlesohn sums them up quite well in her Strange Horizons review when she says that "for too much of the time we are being given a tour of Utopia." This might have been tolerable in a written anthology, but as Farah also notes one can't skim or skip forward when one is being read to, so that what might have been slightly tedious on the page becomes stultifying in the ear. Listening to METAtropolis feels less like being told a story and more like a long lecture from a very enthusiastic Boing Boing contributor who keeps dropping buzzwords like creative commons license or open source technology as they explain how the city of the future will work. Which, obviously, is part of the project's goal, but it's pretty clear that with the exception of Scalzi none of the writers involved gave much thought to the difference between a written and performed work, or tried to tailor their stories to suit a dramatic reading (which is to say, more dialogue and action, only the bare minimum of infodumps and description). Which means that METAtropolis really doesn't work as a spoken word work, and thus gets my lowest rating on this ballot.
Once again, my votes:
- Iron Man
- Hellboy II
- The Dark Knight