Drum Chart: “Too Good Too Bad” From Cowboy Bebop

Posted on December 5, 2021

 Too Good Too Bad

So, I was caught off guard by the recent release of Netflix’s live–action Cowboy Bebop remake. I have heard about a live–action adaptation for over ten years now, but I stopped keeping up with the developments until I started seeing footage from Netflix’s version. And low and behold, it was finally released toward the end of November.

I was skeptical at first because the original is a masterpiece and remakes/adaptations tend to be terrible. And you know what? It’s not very good. It’s not terrible, but it’s not very good, and at the end of the day it just shouldn’t have been made, since it doesn’t do anything that the original doesn’t already do better. There’s no denying that Netflix’s version is well–acted, with high production values and fun action scenes. There are even a few moments where everything works very well.

But the biggest letdown, as always, is the storytelling. The plotline for each episode is coherent enough, but the overarching story is bloated, messy, and absolutely harebrained. Characters are also very uneven; they get along more but often come across as one–dimensional. Ditto for the script, which is often hokey, awkward, and stilted, with the wrong personality. Add to that some jarring shifts in tone and bludgeoning efforts to come across as adult, mature, and edgy as well as trendy and hip. And of course, there’s Radical Edward. Just… everything about Ed. The character’s only onscreen for maybe a minute, but… I just can’t do it.

More than anything else, it seems like the series can’t decide what it wants to be. At times it's very derivative, with certain scenes from the original (and its 2001 film) being re–created word for word in this new version. But when you consider how the remake abuses the original’s story/characters with outrageous developments that nobody asked for, it’s tough to know what to make of it all. I had a friend who mused that Netflix should have gone on the same route that the Wachowskis did when they made a live–action Speed Racer film in 2008 (which is a fancy way of saying Netflix should have gone completely batshit insane).

You might think “well, at least the music is good, right?”. Well, it is, since Yoko Kanno returns to compose the score, with a new accompanying soundtrack album that features rerecordings of old material as well as new music. It might be worth taking a look at, but many of the songs are too short to be worth practicing.

That’s another problem with Netflix’s version: the musical direction/editing is awful. The show has an annoying tendency to only play a song for about 30 seconds, before either queuing up a dramatic sound effect or moving on to another piece of music — whichever option punctuates the half–baked plot development we’re being assaulted with. And then there’re the moments where the theme music plays during the cold open, which totally ruins the effect when the actual titles start (and it often sounds like two songs playing at once).

Alright, enough’s enough. The remake at least gave me an opportunity to share another playalong drum chart. The tune here is “Too Good Too Bad”, first heard in the fourth episode of the original (when Spike and Faye chase down the eco–terrorists in the stargate).

I’m almost positive that this song is in the remake, but it’s not in the new soundtrack album, and I'm not about to peruse all the episodes again to double–check.

The style here is clearly reminiscent of a New Orleans brass band/Second Line kind of sound. There’s a driving march beat that propels the songs forward along with a solid bassline. The tuba rhythm should sound familiar — it’s pretty much Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”. Even the key signature is the same:

There are a lot of fun figures in this one. I decided to simplify some of the notation, just for variety’s sake.

That’s all there is to say I reckon. I know Netflix is almost certainly going to produce a season 2… if I watch it at all I’ll probably just skim through it, finding the scenes I want to watch so the series doesn’t waste my time with any sort of crackpot narrative. That’s basically how I ended the first season.

Edit (December 10th, 2021): After less than a month, Netflix has pulled the plug. I think I feel the worst for the actors, especially the kid that played Radical Ed. The character got barely a minute of screen time for a show that doesn’t even exist anymore. They’re paying the most for the showrunner’s mistakes... at least now we can do the same thing everyone does with The Last Airbender film: try and pretend it never got made. (We might have to try even harder since there’s another live–action Avatar series coming up courtesy of Netflix. When will the storm end?!)

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“Too Good Too Bad” on Songwhip.

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