Category: Television

Doctor Who In the Modern Era

Doctor Who In the Modern Era

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby feather

So, here’s the thing, I’ve been having a hard time with the modern era Doctor Who for a while. I know it’s been running for like a decade and a half now, and sometimes it’s getting hard to call it the modern era, but I think it completely lost me a few years ago.

The Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who was at times goofy, and the writing wasn’t always there, but it was fun. The show started to really hit its stride well towards the end of his season, but the next Doctor was my favourite.

David Tennant, and it’s entirely possible it’s as much due to him as the actor as the rest of show as a whole, pretty much defined the modern Doctor Who for me. It was fun, exciting, and mostly things make sense.

The Matt Smith Doctor was a bit weird to begin with but functioned well for the first couple of series before slowly beginning to get weirder. I mean weird for Doctor Who. Not weird aliens or creatures or situations, because that’s the show, but we started to slide into what I think of as sort of the 1980s and 90s James Bond syndrome. You know, that group of movies across a couple of actors where it didn’t matter what was going on, Bond was an expert in it.

Towards the end of the Matt Smith years, and definitely into the Peter Capaldi times, more and more of the solutions seemed to be just pulled out of the Doctor’s ass with no reasonable explanation for the story to date. Doctor Who lost me and my youngest daughter, who I’d been watching it with, somewhere late in, I think, series 9. We actually paused in the middle of an episode and never went back. Peter Capaldi is a good actor, and I generally enjoyed his performance, but the crap he was given to work with most the time wasn’t worth sitting through.

When Jodie Whittaker was announced, I was actually excited about Doctor Who for the first time in several years. Well, probably more than several. Here was an opportunity to tell some new stories, to make things different, to expand the universe and hopefully the minds of the people watching.

There is a little bit of shame as I type that I haven’t actually seen a single Jodie Whittaker episode yet.

And I think the reason this actually comes down to fear. I’m afraid it’s actually not going to get better, but it will, in fact get worse and just become a pandering fan service experience and I would almost rather preserve the idea in my mind that this New Doctor will revitalize what to me is a dying franchise.

Silly, isn’t it?

As you’re reading this, keep in mind that I grew up mostly on Tom Baker as the Doctor, with a sprinkling of Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. In those days, story was king, and while the stories weren’t always great, they made sense, and they worked. They had to, with the BBC’s special-effects budget probably measured in tens of pounds sterling per episode.

But I whine about that a lot these days.

We live in an age of eye candy, story isn’t king or queen anymore. Most the time it’s not even Princess or Duke or Countess. It seems like a lot of the time the story is only there to stitch together the action set pieces and a beautiful videography.

I know that’s not always the case, and maybe I’m just watching the wrong stuff. But I’m not alone in that. I don’t think the right stuff is actually getting in front of large audience, because it’s much easier to aggressively market something that looks pretty.

I know I fairly regularly complain about wanting film and television to tell new stories rather just rehashing the same thing they’ve sold us a hundred times before, but there are days when I would settle for simply good stories. I’m tired of retellings and reworkings and reboots and re-imaginings, but I miss the days when telling a good story was the most important thing, not a bonus.

Is it just me? Shouldn’t story be the prime mover, the centerpiece, the king or queen of the production? We aren’t really that shallow as a society, are we?

I’m not alone, am I?

I’d love some reassurance that the writing for the newest series of Doctor Who will be good enough to actually tell stories that don’t just rely on jump scares and special effects.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Maybe I Can Binge Watch After All

Maybe I Can Binge Watch After All

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby feather
Image result for the flash

Maybe it is possible for me to binge watch something after all.

I’m specifically referring to The Flash here. Last Sunday afternoon, I caught up to current, and now I have to wait for new episodes with everyone else. In some ways that’s interesting and some ways it’s annoying.

It’s interesting, because up until very recently, if I tried to actually binge watch something, I wound up overdosing on it and then setting it down, in some cases never going back, in some cases going back after weeks or months to see the next episode. In this case, I seem to been able to watch an episode every couple of days, or even two or three episodes per day on the weekend, with the ultimate result being that I was able to watch four solid seasons, and I guess we’re about halfway into the fifth, in a couple of months.

It’s also alarming, because it actually means that I do have the possibility of deep diving into something and not coming up for air until it’s done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I lean towards not liking it. It could turn something into a major distraction when I’m actually trying to get stuff done.

Still, after four and a half seasons in a few months, The Flash. So far, at least, I like all the primary characters, and the growth and direction of them has mostly made sense in terms of the overall storytelling. And I like the overall storytelling, the characters have memory (and so do the writers), there’s an overarching story arc for each season, it’s layered, and there are things in the first handful of episodes that are still affecting what’s going on now. And while I have, more than once, had to remind myself that I’m watching essentially a visual comic book, once I settle back into that realization, it’s a lot of fun.

But now I have to tolerate the teasers and cliffhangers along with everyone else and I can’t just finished watching one episode, be annoyed at one of those teasers or cliffhangers, and watch the first scene or two of the next episode to clear things up a bit.

I think that’s okay. After all, it’s the way the medium is actually designed, right?

Much as I enjoy The Flash, I’m probably still not going to do Arrow. I don’t really do dark and gritty for the most part. Not my thing. I prefer things to end or stand on an uptick, and for there to always be hope. It’s nice to have small appearances here and there by various characters from different shows, and I like that it reminds us we’re watching a show that’s part of a larger universe, but I don’t see a need to explore all the parts of that universe.

Actually, sometimes I don’t like a reminder. Every year in the first half the season there seems be a giant crossover adventure that involves as many heroes as possible, spread across three or four shows that are too focused on showcasing everything all at once so no one really gets enough screen time to flesh things out. And not all of the shows are available on Netflix, so I have to go hunting for various parts story. Giant crossovers like that are one of things I don’t really like about comic books, but I get why a set of linked TV shows is going to do it. Really, it’s the same reason comic books do it: eyeballs.

But still not my thing.

I am, although movie much more slowly, and deliberately so, about halfway through the first season of Supergirl as well. I am curious to find out whether this show is going to be as addictive for me as The Flash in the longer run, because it is very much in the same heroic, hope-filled vein, and that’s working for me so far. I do feel like they’ve skimped a couple places on the special effects. A lot of her powers, only showcased when fighting villains, look really, really good, but the bits of things where she’s just flying look much more primitive to me, and not very impressive. It’s stylized, but I don’t like the style.

And then there’s Legends, and Black Lightning. I’m not sure how much potential Legends has for me, though I like several of the characters involved, and I’m concerned Black Lightning is in the same dark and gritty tone as Arrow, but I will probably check both out at some point.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion

Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby feather
Image result for raumpatrouille

Or, in the original German, Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion.

Usually abbreviated as Space Patrol Orion or Raumpatrouille Orion.

A classic 1960s science fiction television show, a cult classic, in fact.

What’s that, you’ve never heard of it?

Well, that’s probably because (as you’ve likely guessed) it’s 1960s German science fiction television, filmed in black and white, never dubbed, and, possibly only recently becoming available with subtitles. The only place I’ve found so far is on YouTube, at least in a way that I can enjoy it.

How did I even find out about it, you ask? Well, on Facebook (yes I still have Facebook) a friend of mine posted a small clip from it that he gotten from some group or website or shared to him by some else with a couple of odd dancing scenes. Filmed in 1960s, in black and white, the caption was something like, “this was how people in 1960s thought we would dance in the future.” It was weird, stylized, formalized, and very structured. It was also very 1960s. So I decided I wanted to figure out the show it came from, to see if that was just as 1960s. In this day of everything interlinked everything else, it actually didn’t take an awful lot of Google to track down in German and only a few seconds longer to locate a version with subtitles.

And I quite enjoyed the first episode.

Special effects aside, and those were probably pretty impressive in the 1960s, especially the robots, the show is clearly a product 1960s. It’s hard not to set it beside the giants of the science-fiction TV genre from the same time and see it compare favourably, most specifically with Star Trek. There are certain similarities in outlook and ideas, but it’s also very, very different. A similar level of specialized technology and technobabble, some keen fashion sense on the uniforms. Sometimes, the pacing is what we might consider slow when put next to modern TV, but it works. Still comparing to Star Trek, in some ways the writing is less mature, and in some ways more complex. There is an overall story arc to the seven episode series (yes, only seven episodes, unfortunately) which, in North American TV was unheard of in time. Two episodes with the same story linking together were difficult in those days. But not, apparently, in Germany.

And there was a lot more attention to background. Less use of background painting, and more physical sets, and in social places there were plenty of extras actually being social. See the aforementioned dancing, which never seems to be a real focus, but whenever characters are gathered in the bar on the base, which happens regularly during off duty time, there is futuristic music playing, and futuristic dancing going on.

There’s an attempt to give the show international flavor, although not quite as international Star Trek, and mostly through the use of names. It is 1960s Germany, after all, and their choices of actors were fairly limited in that regard, so you get a German actor as an Italian character, a Swedish character, a Russian character, and so on. Not so different, really, but with fewer ethnic backgrounds available.

It’s actually pretty cool to watch, and it’s sent me on the beginning of a search for other classic, non-English, 1960s, 70s, and 80s science-fiction to watch. I can pick up a word or two here and there of a number of languages, especially numbers, but don’t speak anything competently other than English, so I’m glad for subtitles (and actually prefer them to dubbing as that usually disrupts the tone of the speech for me). But there’s a lot more out there than North American entertainment. It’s a big world. As I get older, I want to explore more of it.

The link to the first episode (subtitled) of Orion on YouTube is at the end of this post. If I come across anything else really cool in my search, I’ll probably pass that along, too.

Orion, a serendipitous find through an unlikely moment, has made me wonder what else I’m missing, and it’s made me wish I had a lot more disposable income so I could go to some different science-fiction conventions around the world, and see what things are like beyond my own borders.

Maybe someday.

Be well, everyone.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Binge Watching The Flash

Binge Watching The Flash

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherImage result for the flashSkimming through Netflix a few nights ago, I paused on one of those “because you watched this thing, you’ll like these other completely unrelated things” categories. Sometimes it actually does recommend things I’d like to watch, particularly in the area of stand up comedy. In this case, however, it had nothing to do with stand up. Netflix wanted me to watch The Flash.

Now you know me, you know I’m sometimes all about superheroes, but you also know that I’m much more of a Marvel guy than DC. Never really read The Flash, although I have a little bit of basic familiarity with the comic mythology involved, and we did watch the 1990s series, but on the DC side of things, I was more about Green Lantern, Justice League once in a while, Aquaman sometimes – hey, I like fish – but the Flashes was never really my thing. Still, I have heard good things, and thought maybe I’d give it a try. It’s attached to the so-called Arrowverse, since Arrow was the first series, but we never got into that when it first started.

Not wanting to spend hours flipping through Netflix to finally watch nothing, I clicked on it and watched the first episode. And it was surprisingly not horrible. Cheesy, silly, and very comic book in almost a classic sense, but not bad. A few days later, I find I’m binge watching it.

Now before anyone gets too excited over the phrasing, binge watching doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. I can’t sit down and devour a season of something in a day. The closest I’ve ever come to that was while looking after my sick wife, and sitting (mostly) through half a season of the Big Bang theory in one afternoon. That was very, very difficult for me. I think most normal people consider binging something to be sitting down watching five or six episodes in a row then maybe doing that again the next day as a sort of weekend relaxation exercise. For me, it’s more like sitting down and watching five or six episodes of something in a week. I watched the first half of episode four this morning over breakfast. Having discovered the show three days ago. That’s binge watching for me. Much faster than that, and really, even at that speed, I risk overdosing on something and putting it away for a long, long time. That happened to me this year with the original Battlestar Galactica, which I do want to get back to, because I did loved it as a kid, and last year when I finally sat down here so ago to start watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. In the first case, I watched six episodes in a week, and into the break that’s still going on. In the latter case, I did half a season over about two weeks, and took a break that’s still going on. I’m trying to do a watch through of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which I had a hard time getting into when it originally aired, because I think I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for its method of story telling; at this point, I’m a few episodes into season two and have been watching it for about three months. A much safer pace.

Long-term, if I do much more than two episodes a week of something on a regular basis, I eventually end up putting it down, sometimes for years.

So, after episode four, I’m going to try to slow down The Flash, after all, there’s theoretically lots of it to enjoy. It’s in season five right now on network television, so, if it stays enjoyable, at the average 22 or 23 episodes per season these days (they’re at episode 100 right now – I checked), I should be able to stretch that out over a couple of years, at least, before getting to what will be the present. And while I’m doing that, I should be able to enjoy several other shows, too, maybe in their complete runs.

There’s plenty of enjoyment available there, and I actually want to enjoy it rather than kill it for myself.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Earlier in 2017 in Serialized Genre TV

Earlier in 2017 in Serialized Genre TV

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherThere has been plenty of other new genre work for the small screen this year, aside from the currently premiering fall stuff, and some of it may even be good.

 

Legion, Season 1

I remember reading about this not long before it first aired and then… nothing. Just rediscovered again recently and I have the first episode queued. I’m interested to see how this plays out, maybe. David Haller has been a pretty flexible character in the comics and they’ve done interesting, ridiculous, and just plain stupid things with him. With current FX available, this could be well done, or it could be a large steaming pile.

 

The Expanse, Season 2

Devoured. While there were parts of this that didn’t quite work as well for me as the first season did, that’s probably because I’ve been reading the books. Some of the divergences from the story aren’t making me happy even though they work pretty well on the screen. They’re blending one story into the next very well and the overall arc is picking up steam. Can’t wait for season 3, but I guess I have to.

 

Iron Fist

I loved Power Man and Iron Fist as a kid (yes, I’m that old), so the translation of both of these into serialized television should be right up my alley. And yet I’ve shied away from them. Still not quite sure why that is, but I do want to see it. I’ll get there.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

So is it so bad that I’m Canadian and not particularly a Margaret Atwood fan? I recognize that she’s a giant in Canadian literature, but her long profession that she doesn’t write SF when she clearly writes so much of it just irritates me. And I find her writing, well, too literary if that’s a thing. I don’t at all mind a higher brow in my SF, but the brow is a little high for me here, not to mention dark. Maybe it’s me, but I like a little more hope in my fiction. That said, this series is based on the one book of hers I’ve actually read in full and came close to enjoying, in spite of the darkness. Not enough to want to watch an entire series based on it, but I understand the attraction.

 

Twin Peaks

Wasn’t really my thing the first time around, all those years ago, so I find myself unable to get excited about the reboot/decades-later-sequel. Too many possible shows and too little time.

 

Powerless

 

A DC series I would probably enjoy. Sadly, the network didn’t let it make it through the full first season before cancelling it. I’ve flagged this one for watching anyway, because I rather like the concept of civilian self protection against superhero battles and collateral damage.

 

Emerald City

 

Let’s do yet another retelling of The Wizard of Oz, but lets drag it out, use every scrap of the original book the writing team likes, throw away all of the stuff they don’t and twist it to fit into our modern sensibilities.

How many times have I lamented about Hollywood’s ability to tell new stories? Add one to that number.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

In direct contrast to my complaint about Emerald City, while this is technically a remake, it’s not something that should ever have been a single movie in the first place. How do you take a series of ten (short) books and turn it into a movie that lasts less than two hours? Answer: very, badly. But as a TV series, with each short book actually getting told across two episodes, you have a chance at doing the story justice, and this does. Looking forward to season 2.

 

Time After Time

 

H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time to our time. Sigh. I’m good, thanks.

 

American Gods

I want this to be good, having enjoyed the novel when it first came out. I’ve only read it the once, but then, it’s been a long time since I’ve done much in the way of rereads. This will either be really good or really bad. Reviews seem to mostly come down on the first one, but, as always, I’ll make my own judgement. This is in the queue.

 

Anyone want to tell me something worked or didn’t?

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Later in 2017 in Serialized Genre Storytelling

Later in 2017 in Serialized Genre Storytelling

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherNot much left in the “still to come” category for genre TV in 2017. Maybe I need to do one more post for all of the stuff that’s already released so the year looks a little better for TV geekery.

 

Runaways

Okay, not much of a trailer, but it’s all I can find. I’d like to have high hopes for this. The comic was fun. What little there is of this third-hand trailer tells me that they’re at least starting with the original storyline. That gives me a little hope. Premiers in November.

 

Future Man

Seth Rogan does SF about a time travelling janitor? Well, maybe. The concept tells me to watch the first episode, but to do so with zero expectations. Also coming in November.

 

Big Hero 6: The Series

Please don’t. It’s not even the same style of animation.

 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

New Genre TV for Fall 2017

New Genre TV for Fall 2017

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI don’t have cable anymore, haven’t for probably five or six years now, so I rely on internet news, network streaming, and Netflix for my increasingly rare TV fixes. And, much like re-reading, I don’t do a lot of re-watching. I want more stories, new ones, and not just repackages of things I’ve already enjoyed.

This year, there are a few more genre shows coming out right now than seems usual for the fall season. This should make an old geek happy, and yet… the whole idea of fall premiers is going away. Hollywood is sucking more and more, but there are alternative channels to find your entertainment on now, and some decent things are definitely coming out of those channels. And they’re coming out whenever their production companies decide is the right time for them to come out. That, I like.

But for fall, in no particular order:

 

The Defenders

Can’t yet. Haven’t finished Luke Cage or Iron Fist. Or Daredevil, for that matter. Wondering if I need to.

 

The Crossing

Refugees from a future war fleeing to the past. Thinly veiled commentary on America’s truly impressive record on dealing with refugees in the last few years. Think I’ll pass.

 

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World

Another guardian angel show, this one with a bit of old testament “find me righteous people and I’ll spare the world” crap added in. Apparently, it was almost called “The Gospel of Kevin”. Give it a rest already.

 

Black Lightning

I’m skipping this one, I think, for two reasons. First, it mostly looks like the CW is trying to do a cooler, blacker Daredevil. The violence level doesn’t seem any lighter, though they may have dialed back the blood a bit; this is what pushed me away from Daredevil. Second, while lack of familiarity with the hero doesn’t bother me (I won’t know how they’re butchering canon that way), I am more of a Marvel guy than a DC guy. Bringing us to

 

The Gifted

Hmm. Mutants on TV, and it’s the first non-cartoon attempt in a long time. I want to like this just on general principle, but the trailer doesn’t look promising.

 

Ghosted

It seems to be an X-files spoof, and the trailer makes it look both stupid and slapstick at the same time. I wonder if it’s too much to ask that my entertainment not treat me like I’m reading the National Enquirer. Passing on this one.

 

The Orville

I’ve watched the first episode of this one and while it was a little rough, it did have a huge number of nods to Star Trek, both TOS and TNG. I think it’s got some potential so long as it doesn’t get so stuck in humorous homage mode that it doesn’t get around to telling its own story.

 

The Tick

This is one of those alternate channels I was referring to, even more ultimate than a Netflix original. I’ve been looking forward to this since I heard about it. I discovered the Tick as a comic book back in the late 1980s, enjoyed the later cartoon, and the original TV series back in 2001. Two episodes into this one, and I’m loving it. The humour mix is right and true to the original story and current generation special effects make it work really well.

 

The Inhumans

The trailer actually makes the Inhumans look exciting. While I’ve never managed to enjoy the comics very much, the show might be worth checking out. At least long enough to see Lockjaw in action.

 

Star Trek: Discovery

And, of course, the retconned-yet-again-Klingon in the room.

It’s no secret I’m a Star Trek fan, and have been pretty much my entire life. I’m trying not to get too excited about Discovery, but I really, really want to be. The reboot movies have been a disappointment, being just action movies with Star Trek trappings, but current Hollywood doesn’t make it easy to tell a good story, much less a good, new story. Star Trek belongs on TV. I’m hoping this works, and will probably blog it pretty heavily when it happens next weekend.

 

And why am I being made to wait until next year for Season 3 of The Expanse?

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BSG: The Lost Warrior

BSG: The Lost Warrior

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherIntro

Again, a bit of a gap between last episode and this one. Part of that is life and part of it is a vague recollection of the western episode and not really wanting to watch it. But, for completeness’ sake, I did. It’s part of the show, after all. So, let’s dive into the

Overly Long Synopsis

Which might be a little shorter than the last few. This is, to be honest, a light-weight episode and there’s not a lot to chew on.

We open, once we get through an opening credits sequence that’s starting to feel really long to me, with Apollo under attack, outnumbered a mere four to one. On the Galactica’s bridge, Adama insists that he’s actually leading the Cylons away, or trying, and this is born out by his reaction a few centons later.

But he’s still in trouble after blowing one up and getting away from the rest, because he’s out of fuel and doesn’t have a lot of landing options. Still, there’s one good one, at least, and he coasts in, crash-landing a la Skywalker on a planet named Equellus. He’s found by a boy and his widowed mother along with a horse that growls.

They cover the viper with branches to hide it and go back to the homestead to have dinner. There’s a visit from Red-Eye, a brain-injured Cylon who thinks he’s the enforcer for a local tough guy.

Teaching Boxey to drink and gamble.

Back on the Galactica, Boxey has a sleepover with the pilots to avoid anyone telling him his father is missing. They eventually wind up drinking fruit juice and playing Pyramid (Poker) for jelly beans. Cassiopeia is not impressed and takes Boxey off to get ready for bed. Boomer and Starbuck try to figure out what they’re going to do about their friend’s disappearance.

The air rifles people carry on Equellus can apparently kill a wolf lupus at 10 metrons if you hit it right. We should probably remember that.

Apollo learns more from Vela and her brother Bootes about the local situation. There’s a sort of local warlord who collects tribute from everyone and has an enforcer named Red-Eye who happens to be a Cylon covered in dents from shootouts with people using those air rifles. Puppis (the kid) is the son of a colonial warrior named Martin, whose ship crash landed out in the desert years ago. And mom is super anti-gun.

Now, Apollo has a mystery to solve so goes into town, alone, and unarmed. There’s only one place to go, apparently, a pretty horrible-looking “old west” saloon with a few electronics hanging around to give it that 1970s SF feel.

Apollo orders a beer or a mug of wine or something, has an almost run in with Lacerta’s lead human goon and then goes to have a drink with the Cylon where no one will bother him. Apparently, this is all to impress Boss Hogg Lacerta, who at least is amused, controlling his robot with finger snaps. And apparently, Lacerta controls everything, at least this town.

Returning to the farm, Apollo finds Puppis is out hunting the lupus and he gets there just as Puppis gets it. With his second shot. Apollo gets to give some fatherly advice, which pays off when they get back to mom.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, uh, Galactica, Tigh talks Adama into sending out a patrol and slowing the fleet down to give them a little more time. Amazingly, Boomer and Starbuck are sitting in their fighters ready to launch.

In the bar, Bootes is busy getting drunk and being an idiot. There’s an almost duel and he gets shot in front of a crowd. Red-Eye looks to be going on a rampage, but Apollo saves them all at the price of being marked a coward by destroying a couple of guns and talking them down.

In the alley, one of Lacerta’s serving girls lets him in on some secrets and we find out Apollo brought his gun with him this time. Fingers twitching, they stare each other down for a few tense seconds. Red Eye is fast, but Apollo is faster, and better. Red-Eye goes down with a nice explosion and Lacerta sneaks away with his toady.

Celebration time.

Later, on the farm, Apollo gives a quick lecture on killing and seems to feel genuinely bad about offing Red-Eye. As a result, Vela admits she knows where her husband’s dead ship is, maybe has fuel.

Starbuck and Boomer, somewhere in space, finally have to admit that they’ve failed and turn around, but then Apollo comes sailing in. I guess the crashed ship was pretty close and the fuel wasn’t too heavy. To celebrate, Boomer gets into the cowboy spirit, Yee Ha! In the closing micro-scene, Vela and Puppis both seem to think Apollo promised he’d come back someday.

Fleeing from the Cylon Tyranny…

 

Story

This episode Seems like it was based on Shane, which has a very similar overall plot: mysterious warrior befriends a widow and her son and has to stand up to the bad guy. It doesn’t work as well, possibly because it’s too compressed, possibly because the merger with SF tropes makes it come across a little on the silly side. However I might want to look at it, the overall episode is the weakest one yet.

I have to wonder how many little western towns there are on this world and why everyone crash lands near this one. Vela’s husband, a Cylon raider, and now Apollo. It’s the improbably string that holds the story together, but it’s not a very good one.

Starbuck’s line, “Boxey’s already lost one parent. He’s not going to lose two,” rings a little false. Apollo is Boxey’s step dad. The kid has already lost two parents, and he’s bearing up surprisingly well considering it was just last episode he lost his mom. Apollo would be three. He’s also the hero, so we know that’s not going to happen.

I will say that the shoot out works rather well, likely due to the acting ability of Richard Hatch and the implacability of the Cylon waiting to draw. Music from a spaghetti western with just a touch of SF works well to heighten the tension, but it would have worked nearly as well with the sound of wind in our ears.

 

Acting

I already noted Mr. Hatch as doing well, at least in the shootout. The young fellow playing Puppis is inconsistent, coming across wooden and flat in his first couple of scenes, and running the gamut from okay delivering lines to pretty good when he needs to convey some significant emotion. This seems more likely attributable to direction.

No one else really stands out to me, but then most of the characters appearing here weren’t given a lot to do. Cardboard cutouts to round out the scenery for Apollo.

 

Continuity

Questions I want to ask:

If Equellus has humans on it, how did the Cylons miss that in their extermination campaign?

Wait, aren’t we on the far side of known space? How can Puppis’ dad have been a colonial warrior?

They still have daggits here? Good thing Apollo didn’t hear that comment or he’d have to get one for Boxey (a promise he made to get him to eat his “primaries” way back in the pilot).

 

Language

Nothing really new in the colonial side of things, but almost every extra name used in this episode is the name of a constellation: Lupus, Bootes, Puppis, Vela, Lacerta, Equellus.

 

Ships and Technology

We’re the victim of recycled footage again, not that we shouldn’t have expect that, but while Apollo is supposed to be flying a solo patrol, there are flashes of the wing and tailfin of another Viper on the left edge of the screen where it wasn’t quite edited out.

The air rifles the western folks use are called numos. Pneumatic maybe?

While not strictly a ship or technology, aside from growling like a cougar, the horse Apollo rides has stripes painted on it.

 

Wrap Up

It had a couple of moments, but the things that make the episode memorable are mostly the things you wish you could forget about it. To much cheese, not enough actual story. 5 dented Cylons out of 10.

Red Eye and Apollo have a drink.

Next up, Starbuck in prison. “The Long Patrol”.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

BSG: Lost Planet of the Gods, Part 2

BSG: Lost Planet of the Gods, Part 2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSorry to whoever might have happened by in the time between the last BSG post and this one. I didn’t mean to cliffhanger things even remotely this much, although I’m not sure you can say that about a show that’s almost 39 years old. Either way, let’s dive into the

Overly long Synopsis

The episode recap is really long this time, covering the last episode in detail before getting to the new stuff. Including the credits, it actually takes 4 minutes to get to the true opening scene of the episode where we find that there’s intense magnetic interference from the void and lots of panic in the fleet, so we gather them in close.

Apollo and Starbuck go visit Boomer in his cryotube. Whatever the medical team found on that asteroid, they’ve got the virus on the run. Everyone is happy Boomer isn’t going to die, especially Boomer.

Tigh and Adama in the office, talking about where they’re going and Adama trots out the Colonial Bible “The Book of the Word” and points out his medallion as a symbol of faith, handed down through millennia to the members of the council. Cobol is a real place, dude.

Somewhere below, the female pilots are celebrating their victory and talking viper combat. Apollo and Starbuck are busy being jerks and making supposedly “female” small talk and Serina breaks in to make sure they feel included, something they probably wouldn’t have done. But the whole thing gets interrupted because Starbuck and Apollo are going on patrol to find out what the blip is at the edge of sensor range in quadrant Delta 9. No, wait. Starbuck isn’t going because Serina is Apollo’s wingman. It’s posted. (Wait, seriously?) But Starbuck hijacks Apollo’s Viper, Apollo hijacks Serina’s, and Serina finds one lying around, so they all end up going.

Apollo actually acknowledges that Serina is a good pilot even as he’s trying to send her home, but it works out that the three of them can stretch their range pretty far to take readings. Starbuck is the farthest out and suddenly surrounded by Cylons, giving us the first “Frack!” of the series. He’s escorted back to the base star to meet Baltar who claims a mission of peace. Starbuck, lighting a match on a centurion’s chest plate, talks to Baltar like they know each other. A few threats and a little posturing and Starbuck is taken away and will be treated well. Lucifer is not impressed and doesn’t trust Baltar’s logic.

Back on the ranch, everyone is upset that Starbuck is dead. With open displays of affection on the bridge, Apollo and Serina decide not just to go ahead with the wedding but to move it up because they need hope. Everyone does. That marriage ceremony is actually pretty Christian (it’s the late 70s, so don’t be surprised), just with lots of candles and a few alternate terms while lots of people look on in the background. Note the presence of capes as part of formal wear, blessing from “the Lord of Cobol”, and being sealed instead of married. Just as they kiss, a star appears, bright and shining and leading them out of the void.

In a lovely demonstration of “who cares about actual science”, the star has a planet in an orbit 1-3 parsecs out. Surprise, it’s Cobol. In a scene obviously filmed later, we see doubles of Adama, Apollo, and Serina walking towards the great pyramids and later through some other Egyptian places, with some voice over. When we see the actual actors, they’re just as obviously on a sound stage. They’ll make camp, with guards, all of whom seem to be the new female recruits to save on acting budgets.

The star surprises Baltar until he remembers his own mythology, but the plan is still good with a tiny bit of modification, and he’s going in alone while Lucifer looks after Starbuck.

<sigh> The biggest city on Cobol was called Eden.

<sigh> Adama’s medallion opens up a secret tomb complete with mystical chanting, creepy music, dark passages, skeletons of tomb robbers, and a trap that Adama’s amulet opens again. More darkness until they reach the tomb and they’re looking around as Baltar strolls in, smiling until Adama almost strangles him.

Baltar plays innocent, claiming he was captured and then spared to lead them into a trap. He tries to convince them that they can launch a counter attack and take over the Cylon Empire. He’ll even release Starbuck as a gesture of good faith. The lunatic smile he wears is half way between believable and psychotic. Adama, unfortunately, comes across as just as crazy, looking for evidence of the 13th tribe.

The newlyweds share a tender moment on the surface; Apollo is the practical skeptic, more worried about their people than mythology, and definitely worried about his dad. Starbuck comes strolling out of the desert, bringing intel and actually buying into Baltar’s crap. In the tomb, Baltar tries to con Adama again and the star conveniently comes back and sends light into the chamber, reflecting from Adama’s medallion to set up a triangle of light and open a super-secret inner chamber.  Baltar dives in, the other three follow quickly just as the Cylons finally get tired of waiting. Dust and rock falls from the ceiling, trapping the intrepid tomb raiders and letting Baltar show his true colours, using fear to try manipulating his enemies.

While Starbuck leads the female pilots into battle as the camp is destroyed (pew pew), Adama keeps reading the wall, and the still-sick male warriors report for duty, giving the opportunity for Boomer to deliver what might be the greatest line in the series so far: “A viper is flown from the seated position, sir.”

In between recycled battle footage and effects (pew pew), Adama finds a record of the Exodus, the final departure of the 12 tribes, the last days of Cobol, and mention of the thirteenth tribe. Another direct hit on the pyramid traps Baltar under a stone block. The others make a half-hearted attempt to rescue him but are “forced” to leave him behind. Baltar is angry and Adama almost seems sad. Almost.

While the shiny cylon butts in orbit have been thoroughly kicked, there are Cylons on the planet, too, and some Centurions sneak up behind them, one shooting Serina in the back. Cut to sick bay, where we discover it’s a fatal wound and now Apollo will have to take care of Boxey and we’re supposed to be surprised that it’s Serina taken from Apollo and not the other way around. She’s already calling Apollo Boxey’s father, and we’ve never really learned anything more about the previous life and relationship she had.

Lots of tears to go with the sad music, and it’s time to kiss her goodbye. Adama takes Boxey out of the room so Apollo can be with her for her last breaths and a slightly drawn out death. He apparently has a conversion on her death bed and tells her that he’s bought into the idea of the afterlife, though Richard Hatch is a good enough actor that you can read it as being meant to make her feel better as she drifts away. He exits into a corridor filled with sad people, gathers up Boxey, and they share a moment reminding us that her love for them is eternal.

“Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny…”

 

Story

I dropped enough hints in the synopsis, but let’s state it outright: the writing remains weaker in this second half of the two-parter. Plus, the editing seems a bit sloppy, like it was meant to be a longer story and they were working too hard to get everything in, shaved down to bare minimums because they didn’t want to do a second three-part story. Doing some reading, I guess the original plan was for three major feature-length films to be shown on TV a few months apart. That makes this episode make a little more sense in this regard, but doesn’t help the story.

I’m also not thrilled with all of the overt religion here. After the first episode of tiny mentions and actual SF, this is almost browbeating us with the idea that the Colonials are thinly veiled Christians (Mormons, actually). I’m not going to go into all of the issues here, just that there are a lot of them. I don’t remember being sensitive to that as a kid, and the adults I watched it with (my parents) never said anything either.

Other major weaknesses:

The secret tomb bothers me. It’s neat how they picked exactly the right place on the planet to land, and weird how there’s no sign of any high technology until the magic flashlights they find underground, and then that’s all. Not sure how the thirteen tribes left Cobol in their stone pyramids.

I want to attribute this to editing instead of writing, but Starbuck got to the planet how, exactly? And is that where the Cylons on the surface came from? Why did those Cylons wait so long to attack? Why is only one of them a good enough shot to actually hit someone?

Worth noting that I loved Adama’s beer stein on the bridge. Wonder what was actually in it.

 

Acting

Everyone involved in Serina’s death scene shed real tears, which was good even while Apollo’s sudden mystical conversion was ridiculous. Jane Seymour and Lorne Greene carried the day here, though, and she left the series too soon. Richard Hatch and Noah Hathaway managed a conversation with some pretty serious waterworks in progress, but it was fairly standard suddenly single dad fare for the time.

 

Continuity

In a time not known for caring about continuity, even in its soap operas, BSG hits something here and there. At least, it does here. Boxey is still wearing the pin Apollo gave him a couple of episodes back. I’m going to try to remember to watch and see if it stays part of his outfit in the future.

 

Language

Not a lot of new words this time, but we learn about velcron while Apollo and Starbuck are being passive-aggressively sexist in the pilots’ lounge, and I’d really like to know exactly how much of what a “50 megon load” is.

 

Ships and Technology

Yeah, I got nothing this time. Nothing new presented in this episode.

 

Wrap Up

“Lost Planet of the Gods”, either part, is a bit of a disappointment after the stretched-out pilot. It plays hard to the idea presented in the show’s opening monologue, that, “There are those who believe…that life here began out there”. We’re supposed to take the Egyptian motif of these two episodes with the knowledge of the other twelve tribes being roughly named after the constellations of the zodiac, and draw our own causal link. It’s a little bonk-bonk-on-the-head.

There are moments and there is good acting and there are great lines, but it doesn’t come together nearly as well as the pilot did. I’m at a loss to explain the 7.5 average rating on IMDB. I don’t think I can give the pair of episodes more than a 6 overall.

Next stop, “The Lost Warrior”, where we learn that the Cylons missed a planet with humans on it in their extermination campaign. But these humans are somehow unaffiliated with the 12 Colonies, so it’s probably okay.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Star Trek Discovery is Coming – Really

Star Trek Discovery is Coming – Really

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI want to be excited about Star Trek: Discovery.

You know, the new Star Trek TV show that was going to premier in January of 2017?

Yeah, that one.

Delayed multiple times, depending on which news you read. Writing and directorial issues, same. Harry Mudd, sigh. Sarek, again, sigh.

Now there are two variations of an actual trailer to give us a look at what we’re finally going to get in the fall.

I’m not going to do an exhaustive, frame by frame analysis. There are plenty of those already and the trailers only released the day before yesterday. I’m just going to throw out some impressions. Sparing no expense on the cinematography. Cool new ship, tech, toys, uniforms, aliens. Apparently inclusive crew. Retconning the Klingons… again.

I want it to work. There hasn’t been new Trek on TV for a long time. But in order for it to work, they’re going to have to tell new stories, relevant stories, important stories. They can’t just rehash the same ground or produce painfully derivative adventure tales like the reboot movies have done. CBS Paramount is going to have to give us Star Trek, and they’re going to have to do it right out of the gate, because the entertainment climate doesn’t allow for a lot of second chances anymore.

I want it to work, but I’m reserving judgement until there’s something more than a trailer to judge.

Be well, everyone.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather