March 19, 2010

Audio recording of movies and programs

Over on Space 1970 (a blog about 70's SF shows and movies) is a blog post about "Vinyl Movies".

When Star Wars came along and surprised everyone with its incredible mainstream popularity, Lucas, Fox and hundreds of licensors scrambled to create new products that they could sell to Wars-hungry masses while said masses waited impatiently for the sequel. Among those new products was The Story of Star Wars - a long-playing record album that contained an abridged version of the film story, composed of dialogue, sound effects and music from the movie soundtrack, with additional narration (by actor Roscoe Lee Browne, who had played "Box" in Logan's Run) to smooth out the audio narrative.

I fondly remember doing this for something else, in the age before videocassettes. When Cosmos came on PBS back around that time, my family did not have a (then expensive) VCR. I DID have an audio cassette player/recorder.

I remember recording at least one Cosmos episode (and I filled in the title with my own voice) by doing this, so I could listen to the episode in the future.

Posted by Jvstin at 5:26 AM

February 10, 2010

Chuck versus the Shippers

Over on the NPR Monkey See blog is a contentious article about the recent changes in the TV series Chuck.

Television plot lines are not supposed to be determined by majority vote.

That shouldn't be a controversial statement, but an interesting little mini-controversy that has broken out over last night's episode of NBC's Chuck -- a show with a small but madly devoted audience -- suggests that at least some fans are viewing themselves more and more as shareholders who get to vote on the outcome, Choose Your Own Adventure-style.

In short, last night, spy-nerd Chuck and his on-again, off-again love interest Sarah, who are currently not together for a combination of professional and personal reasons, decided to let each other go and embarked on new relationships with other people. This, predictably, has set off the show's "shippers." (As we've discussed before, these are the people whose enjoyment of a show hinges entirely on the progress of a romantic couple.)

Look, here's the thing. What the people upset about the change in the status of the Chuck and Sarah relationship don't seem to realize is that dynamic tension in a relationship is a GOOD thing.

Don't they remember Moonlighting, or any other number of series that, once the romantic protagonists are together, permanently derail an entire rail of the series, and often the series itself?

Also, with all that has happened to Chuck, including the new Intersect, and his newly developing mad skills, it makes sense for him and Sarah not to pursue their relationship, at least for a while.

It will make the narrative, emotional payoff all the sweeter in the end.

Posted by Jvstin at 5:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2009

Happy Who Day

On November 23, 1963 at 17:15 GMT, the BBC transmitted the first episode of "An Unearthly Child", the debut serial of a little SF show (then) starring William Hartnell you may have heard of...Doctor Who.

Happy Who Day!

In celebration of Who Day, I will highlight three episodes from each Doctor that I find favor with:

First Doctor (William Hartnell):
First, and still strong.

The Daleks--The episode that made the series. I think this, as a strong second episode, helped make the series happen.
The Aztecs--a strong historical episode, where the Doctor first comes up against the prospect, and the dangers, of trying to change history.
The Chase--although I haven't seen this one in years, the idea of two time machines in a chase is an irresistable one.

Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)
It's a pity so few of his episodes still exist in full, darn it.

The War Games--Troughton's swan song, as well as his companions, as they take on a renegade Time Lord and the race who he is helping to use humanity as fodder for conquest.
The Mind Robber--one of the weirdest episodes of Doctor Who, as they travel through a land of fiction. But the episode works and is a delight!
Tomb of the Cybermen--Remember how Tennant said he didn't like archaeologists in the episode where he met River Song? This episode, with overly curious archaeologists awakening the Cybermen, is the reason why. Plus its the only full episode with Victoria in it.

Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee)
I have a real appeal for Pertwee's interpretation of the Doctor. It's hard to limit myself to three here,

The Three Doctors--Troughton, Pertwee, AND Hartnell. Plus Omega. Who could say no to THIS?
Inferno--The Doctor's attempts to escape his imprisonment nearly get him killed on a parallel Earth--but also give him a clue to save his own Earth from destruction
The Time Warrior--The Doctor takes on a Sontaran--in the middle ages. Also, first episode with the stalwart Sarah Jane Smith

Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)
Until the new series, he WAS the face of the Doctor for almost everyone

Pyramids of Mars--without question, my all time favorite episode. Doctor Who and Sarah Jane versus Sutekh and Robot Mummies!
Talons of Weng Chiang--The Doctor brings Leela to Victorian London!
Genesis of the Daleks--We learn at last how the Daleks began--and are introduced to the one and only Davros

Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison)
Following Baker was a hard act, but Davison did try--and tried to make the character his own

The Five Doctors--Silly, strange, full of anachronisms, and yet it was the first Doctor Who episode I bought to own.
Resurrection of the Daleks--The Doctor takes on Davros yet again, and shows a rather bloodthirsty and merciless side. Last episode for Tegan, too.
Earthshock--More Cybermen, and the sad, tragic end of Adric.

Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)
I admit. I don't like him. Never had, never will. The episodes of his that I can tolerate are because of other characters and actors, NOT him.

Revelation of the Daleks--Davros in a funeral parlor. An old "Knight of the Order of Oberon". And an alien DJ with an American patter.
The Two Doctors--The last episode with Troughton, and Jamie in the bargain! And Jacqueline Pearce puts in an appearance too.
The Mark of the Rani--The Rani, the Rani, the Rani. Kate O'Mara makes a wonderful villain in this one

Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)

Never saw any of these episodes except on DVD and on the suggestion of good friends who liked his work.

Curse of Fenric-The Doctor as scary chessmaster against an evil older than time.
Battlefield-The last episode with the Brigadier. Not even Morgan Le Fey was willing to take such an adversary, even aged, lightly!
Remembrance of the Daleks--floating Daleks. Heavy Weapon Daleks. And the most awesome baseball bat killing of a Dalek in series history.

Eighth Doctor (McGann)
The movie has lots of problems and isn't even in circulation.

Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)
The Streetwise young man Doctor, survivor of the Time War

Rose--"Run for your life!" The Doctor gets off on the right foot.
Father's Day--A different sort of episode about Time Paradoxes
Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways--The Doctor proves why Daleks fear one Doctor more than 5 million Cybermen. Eccleston's swan song

Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)
Future Doctors are going to have a pretty high bar to meet, thanks to Tennant. Like Pertwee, difficult to limit me to three...

Fires of Pompeii--Ancient Roman times, plus Aliens. How can I say no to THIS?
Blink--Scary quantum locked Angels. Moffat reinforces why he is a great DW writer.
The Girl in the Fireplace--"I'm the King of France." "And *I* am a Lord of Time."

How about you?

Posted by Jvstin at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2009

Brief Thoughts on Ken Burns' National Parks

I managed to see all of the episodes of Ken Burns' documentary, The National Parks, thanks to going on vacation and getting back to the hotel at the right time, and judicious visits and a sleepover at My Friends the Olsons™.

So, some thoughts on the series...

Clocking at at around 11 and a half hours, Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea is very much in the same line as Burns' previous documentaries:

--Strong use of archival material, photograph, recordings
--Reliance on descendants and relatives of historical and other figures in the narrative
--Commentary by respected historians and experts in the field
--Lots of almost "stunt level" voicework by Hollywood actors. Tom Hanks, John Lithgow, Carolyn McCormick, George Takei, Andy Garcia and others

TNP is not so much about the scenery pr0n (and there is, as much as there was, less than Scott, Fe and I actually thought there would be) but its about the evolution of the idea of the National Parks, starting with Lincoln, and progressing all the way through the 20th century and to the 21st. We meet many of the historical figures who had a hand, for better or worse in making the Parks possible, and how they evolved.

The series is not without flaws though. The scenery pr0n has a very prominent focus on Yosemite, even when the series for the most part moves on to other parks and history, images of Yosemite keep cropping up. Scott and I agreed that its a consequence of Burns' modus operandi--he likes to use archival material from people when there is a wealth of material to be had. Given Yosemite's proximity to population centers, this makes sense. There are LOTS of photographs of Yosemite, even more than Yellowstone.

Still, Scott and I came up with a "drinking game"--to take a drink every time a shot of Yosemite appears. Even in the last episode, where Alaska and Florida got a lot of focus, we still could get sloshed because of the gratuitous Yosemite shots in the program. Granted, Yosemite is a pretty park, but it got a little ridiculous by the end.

I learned a lot, including unexpected nuggets of information. For example, the President can no longer make National Monuments (something he can do by Executive Act) in the state of Wyoming. Why? The series will tell you! The complicated history of the Parks and the men and women was enlightened for me.

Scott and I agreed that the series is not one we'd want to own and return to again and again--not quite enough scenery pr0n to justify it. On the other hand, should YOU see the series, once? Yes. Yes, you should. Like much of Burns oeuvre, his documentary filmmaking is essential to understanding America.

And now I want to figure out what National Park I want to see next. Granted, this series makes me really want to see Yosemite for myself (and the fact that one friend and one friend/coworker have or are going to see it soon is impetus, too...)

Anyway, so what National Parks have I seen?

Well, as far as full National Parks are concerned:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Badlands National Park
Glacier National Park
Wind Cave National Park

National Monuments? (Created by the Executive Branch)

Castle Clinton
Ellis Island
Federal Hall
Governor's Island
Statue of Liberty
Jewel Cave
Pipestone
Devil's Tower


Other National Park areas:
Gateway National Recreation Area
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
NJ Pinelands National Reserve
Lincoln Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
National Mall
Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington Monument
Minuteman Missile
Mt. Rushmore
John D Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway
St Croix River National Scenic Riverway
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area


In 1970, Congress realized how confusing the nomenclature was and amended the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act, to say all units of the system -- regardless of their formal name -- have equal legal standing.

Posted by Jvstin at 9:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2009

Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc&feature=player_embedded#t=17

Carl Sagan and Cosmos remixed for the win!

Posted by Jvstin at 6:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2009

Leverage

Leverage, the TV Series

Rob Donoghue says I should check out the show.

Has anyone seen it? What do you think of it?

Posted by Jvstin at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2009

Disney buys Marvel

Old news by now, but you've heard that Disney is going to buy Marvel comics for $4 billion.

If Marvel shareholders approve the deal, they would receive $30 per share in cash and 0.745 shares of Disney for each share of Marvel that they hold. The deal is valued at $50 per Marvel share, more than a 29% premium, based on Friday's closing price

It's a sweet deal for Disney, but I am not sure its the right move for Marvel, creatively and aesthetically speaking But then, I don't run Marvel and my opinion has little $$$weight$$$ in the matter.

Posted by Jvstin at 6:42 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2009

Funny or Die: The Ballad of GI Joe

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/076041c13b/the-ballad-of-g-i-joe

What do the members of GI Joe and Cobra do on their off hours?

Lots and lots of cameos.

Posted by Jvstin at 4:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2009

More on the Prisoner Remake

I've mentioned the remake of The Prisoner, starring Jim Caviezel and Ian Mckellen, coming this fall.

It turns out that the Supervisor and the other staff of the village have been very busy as the date of the miniseries approaches.

There are plenty of downloads here at the AMC Prisoner site, including a minicomic and PDF advertising posters for the show.










The Prisoner--Number Two

The Prisoner--Number Six

The Prisoner--Number Two The Prisoner--Number Six

And best, of all, here is a link to a video preview that debuted at Comiccon.

Excited yet?

Posted by Jvstin at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2009

Hint to Microsoft regarding their IE marketing campaign

Featuring projective vomiting in an ad for IE 8 is not a winning strategy!

Oh, and alas, how far has poor Superman (ie, Dean Cain) has fallen in taking this gig.

Posted by Jvstin at 6:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2009

New V Trailer, and thoughts

A trailer for the remake of V is now online...

As opposed to the sequel and the series, I think the original miniseries is some fine television. I enjoyed it a lot back in the day and still enjoy it. I've mentioned before that I was at first somewhat nervous about remaking it.

Seeing the trailer, it strikes me immediately that the theme of this V could very well be "Faith" as opposed to the first miniseries' "Fascism". Watching the trailer, we get religious characters, imagery and dialogue. I don't find fault with this. Handled right, it will broaden the appeal to the potential audience.

And seriously? Morena Baccarin as evil V spokesperson? I'm so there for that.

Posted by Jvstin at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2009

Bea Arthur, RIP

As you have no doubt seen elsewhere, Bea Arthur has passed awy, another of the Golden Girls to do so.

She had a talent for comedy, its true. Her skills helped make the ensemble of the Golden Girls funny for all viewers. I liked the show even though I had very little connection to any of the characters.

From a SF point of view, she is well known for her (singing!) role in the infamous Star Wars Christmas Special, and I think she did some Futurama work, too. But I note that the TV landscape is very different than in the days when The Golden Girls ran for seven years. Given the current TV landscape, a show like the Golden Girls, focused on a group of over-40 women, would be a very very odd duck. And probably wouldn't last seven years.

Rest in Peace, Bea. I dread Saint Peter trying to give *you* any guff.

Posted by Jvstin at 8:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2009

Seek the Six Prisoner Remake

http://www.seekthesix.com/

Ian McKellen and Jim Caviesel? Sign me up. Even if its not McGoohan, I think I want to see it anyway.

As far as the game on this site...I think it has to do with finding "six" items in each group. I'm still playing with it. I applaud the creators of this Prisoner for using things like viral marketing.

Posted by Jvstin at 4:32 AM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2009

Red River Valley Geology on MPR

More on the Red River Flood Plain:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/03/25/flood_plain_geology/

This audio story talks about Glacial Lake Agassiz and the consequences for that in the current geology of the valley--and why it floods as it does.

Posted by Jvstin at 5:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2009

13 episodes, rather than Billions and Billions

In case you hadn't heard, the entire run of Cosmos is available to watch (with commercials) for free, on demand on hulu.com

If you haven't seen this series before, what are you waiting for? This is THE series that got me interested in things science. The pacing may be different than modern TV, and science has marched on in many of the fields that Sagan touches on, and he touches on a lot in this series. (Think its just astronomy? Think again!).

Go forth and enjoy.

Posted by Jvstin at 6:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2009

Kings

Kings, an NBC seriesbased on the Book of Kings from the Bible, debuted on Sunday night.

It's an alternate history/world, that much is clear immediately. Kings is set in the fictional country of Gilboa, and its capital of Shiloh. Gilboa is a country that was unified in bloodshed, and quickly established, still beset by the bordering country of Gath. Technology, skylines and the like look modern.

Gilboa is a monarchy headed by King Silas (Ian McShane, the best actor of the bunch, hands down). Chris Egan from Eragon is David Shepherd (get it), who manages to save the King's son by facing down Goliath...a tank, that is. This propels him into the inner doings of the Palace and the Royal Family. The loving, devoted wife. The activist Princess daughter. The conflicted son saved by David.

Lots of stock (TOO much such) characters fill out the cast, ranging from a Reverend who seems to be able to give and take the Mandate of Heaven, to friendly helpful guards, to pugnacious warmaker generals.

The show is really a soap opera in an alternate universe rather than science fictiony, although there is something in the final moments of the premiere episode which makes me wonder if this is going to be strictly human drama.

As far as the acting, I think McShane did a great job at the King. Egan, though, as David, did as well as he did with Eragon. That is to say, not very. If the center, him, doesn't hold, this show will be toast.

And that would be a shame. For its flaws and weaknesses, the show IS trying to do something different, Thank $Deity. It's not another reality show, another sitcom, another paint by the numbers CSI/Law and Order clone. I will watch the next few episodes, and hope that David grows up in a hurry.

Given the cutthroat politics of the Court glimpsed in the pilot, if he doesn't grow up quick, he'll be shark bait.

Posted by Jvstin at 2:59 PM | Comments (0)

The idiocy of the Syfy Channel

Via Jeff Vandermeer and the Tor.com blog...

In some universe, the name "Syfy" is less geeky than the name "Sci Fi." Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel, is betting it's this one.

To that end, the 16-year-old network--owned by NBC Universal--plans to announce that Syfy is its new name March 16 at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.

[...]

"The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular," said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.

http://scifiwire.com/2009/03/sci-fi-channel-to-become.php


So, the executives of the Sci Fi Channel are stupid *and* sexist? I happen to not only know a wide swath of female science fiction fans (and proud of that fact), but I have friendly relationships with a number of female SF *writers*.

A channel which openly mocks and denigrates its fan base is a channel that I am not so inclined to watch. Why should I, really, when they clearly think so little of me?

And while I am on this rant, let's look at the top box office drawing movies of all time and see the power of "geeks and dysfunctional antisocial types" that the Sci Fi Syfy channel thinks I am.

Worldwide Box Office
1. Titanic (1997) $1,835,300,000
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $1,129,219,252
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) $1,060,332,628
4. The Dark Knight (2008) $997,316,061
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $968,657,891
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) $958,404,152
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) $937,000,866
8. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $922,379,000
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) $921,600,000
10. Jurassic Park (1993) $919,700,000

And really, I am being somewhat generous in NOT labelling Jurassic Park or the Pirates movies as geek movies, despite the SF elements of the former and the fantasy aspects of the latter. So, really, the only movie on that list which has no real F/SF elements at all is Titanic.

Dear Syfy channel: You might get better ratings if you had more things like BSG and Tin Man, and less of "Mansquito". Your ratings have nothing to do with being branded as a channel for dysfunctional geeks.

Posted by Jvstin at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2009

Morena Baccarin and the new V

Via Sf Signal, a link to Sci Fi Wire reveals:

In other major pilot castings news, Morena Baccarin will play a lead in the ABC drama V, while Eliza Coupe has been tapped for a lead in ABC's comedy No Heroics.

V is a re-imagining of the 1980s miniseries about an invasion of aliens known as Visitors and the resistance against them. Baccarin will play Anna, the leader of the Visitors who is remarkably knowledgeable about human culture and media manipulation.

Morena Baccarin as one of the Visitors? This takes the phrase "take me to your Leader" a whole new dimension!

I wasn't that enthused about the idea of remaking V but this *certainly* perks up my interest.

Posted by Jvstin at 7:33 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2009

Max Headroom once again proves prescient

Surely you remember Max Headroom (which is still not on DVD). One of the myriad ideas in a series stuff with them was the idea of "blipverts"--short, concentrated ads designed to work in a future of 500 channels and people trying to avoid ads by any and all means. (Like I said, we're living in a Science Fiction Present).

Anyway, Miller High Life has decided to do a series of one-second commercials. for the Super Bowl: Blipverts!

Let's just hope no one explodes...

Posted by Jvstin at 3:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2007

Spock's Brains

I am going to try to create a neologism here.

You have all heard of "jumping the shark", a defining moment in a series where it goes off of the rails forever, never to come back to normalcy. (Or else it wouldn't really be a jump)

However, I don't think there is a term for a singular episode of a series which compared to far superior episodes of the series makes you go "WTF?" Sort of like Spock's Brain in the original Star Trek.

So I am going to coin a term, a "Spock's Brain", to describe an episode of a TV series which is vastly weaker than others of the series. I realize that a Spock's Brain can be subjective, too. To be a Spock's Brain, it should be differently bad enough to stand out in that capacity.

Some Examples:

Star Trek: Original: Spock's Brain. Remote controlled Spock! OY!

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Skin of Evil: Worst episode featuring a major character's death, ever.

Doctor Who: The Web Planet: The Doctor, his companions and a bunch of people acting in insect costumes. Um, yeah.

Babylon 5: Day of the Dead: Um, one day in 200 years, dead come back for a night on one particular planet, and because of a weird arrangement, part of B-5 is transported technomagically across space to be part of it? Not one of Gaiman's best ideas.


Suggestions from the Peanut Gallery for more "Spock's Brains" would be more than welcome.

Posted by Jvstin at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2007

The Menagerie in Theaters

STARTREK.COM Article

Via SF Signal...


10.05.2007
SPECIAL EVENT: Remastered "Menagerie" in Theatres!


On Tuesday, November 13, the two-part Star Trek Remastered version of "The Menagerie” will beam onto the big screen in a special engagement with selected theatres. The screening — a first for episodic Star Trek on this scale — will be seen in nearly 300 venues across the U.S. and Canada. This one-night-only event will also feature a special introduction by Eugene "Rod” Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, plus an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Remastered series.

"The Menagerie" will be presented in its digitally remastered, high-definition format and in Cinema Surround Sound. The screening is in part to promote the HD-DVD/DVD release the following week (Nov. 20) by CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.

---

I think I am going to go have to see this (it IS playing in my area), even if its going to be in "full frame" format. How can you say no to a movie-screen sized Orion slave girl?

Posted by Jvstin at 8:32 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2007

Entertainment Weekly's Top Ten STTNG Episodes

''Star Trek: The Next Generation'': The top 10 episodes | Star Trek: The Next Generation | 1 | Countdown | TV | Sci-Fi Central | Entertainment Weekly

EW is a cotton candy of a magazine, with a lot of superficial filler without much content. And their coverage of SF is often atrocious, highlighted, not mitigated, by their recent practice of reviewing SF novels now and again.

So when SF Signal linked to this list they complied of the best Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, I thought that the list was going to be a terrible one.

Go see the list for yourself, its a lot better selection of STTNG episodes than I would have expected.

Posted by Jvstin at 8:10 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2007

Low Budget TV Day

Roberson's Interminable Ramble: The Lost Saucer


Chris Roberson, spurred on himself by John on SF Signal's admission to liking Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, admits that he himself liked The Lost Saucer and Far Out Space Nuts.


I remember watching all of these shows. And Land of the Lost. And Gilligan's Planet. So I declare its "Low budget TV day" on the Internets!

Posted by Jvstin at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)

August 26, 2007

Flash Gordon Episode Three

Why precisely I am still watching this show? I don't know. Perhaps documenting the show from start to finish for posterity?

Spoilers abound.

In this episode, Flash's Best Friend returns, in time to get stung by an alien bug which has gone through an unintentional rift from Mongo to Earth. Dale is forced to make him miserable at the wedding to keep him alive while Flash and Baylin search for a cure...

This was not much of an improvement over Episode 2. The concept is lame and cliched and while the basic idea had lots of potential (alien bugs come through to Earth), it was watered down and denuded of all drama. Instead of dealing with a real crisis, we get painful scenes of Dale acting like a b!tch at a wedding to keep Flash's Best Friend alive. On top of that we get castrating women, more Planet of the Dark Corridors, and people acting stupid.

Segway Guy is still more interesting than Ming and had more screen time(!) I didn't buy the artifact hall at all--is there no such thing as security alarms? Having Aura waltz in and take one of the pieces without disabling any alarms (or Flash doing that for that matter) seemed very wrong. And how did she get free of Flash tying her up so quickly? There was a hint of an idea of Flash owing Aura for the privilege of taking him to get the artifact. I think the episode could have worked much better with Aura forcing Flash to hold to that, and skipping the "Escape from the Water Treatment Plant" sequence.

Having Baylin "come in out of the cold" and then turn around and get outed as a deserter immediately thereafter was a poor use of her character. Again, the writers are missing opportunities left, right and center in this show.

Previews for the next episode suggest that its another "invader through a rift from Mongo". I said it in previous reviews that this concept of the small town continually beset is just not going to hold up on the long run. Force Zarkov, Dale, Baylin and Flash to *stay* on Mongo for a few episodes. Let's see more of Mongo and less of British Columbia.

Posted by Jvstin at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

August 22, 2007

Flash Gordon Episode Two

SF Signal: Two And Done: Flash Gordon

So I watched the second episode of the new Sci Fi Channel version of Flash Gordon...spoilers ahoy.

Its better than the pilot, although that might be damning it with faint praise.

Its the little things and the big things together that bug me.

What happened to Flash's friend (best friend?) Given the implication of how deep the relationship between the two of them was suggested in the pilot, for him not to make an appearance at all in this episode felt false. Is Flash never going to tell his friend about the weird doings with Mongo?

The ice smuggling--impractical at best.

The second bounty hunter. The only reason why I could see he didn't kill the park ranger was because it would have brought the entire house of cards down as far as the "secret" of Mongo. I was afraid of this in the pilot, that its going to be increasingly implausible to keep up this switching between worlds.

Segway guy still out-charismas Ming, although at least this episode we get to see Ming be ruthless in a personal way. Aura, on the other hand, suddenly isn't acting like the spoiled princess she was in the pilot. That's not character growth, that's inconsistency.

Baylin was better in this episode although as seen above, I didn't buy her mate's actions. I suppose they toned it down to keep it relatively family friendly, but still, that just makes the show a boat car, neither one nor the other.

I dislike the new Zarkov more and more. Hes a crackpot without the redeeming value of being a intelligent crackpot. If he could do more acting than just be manic, he might be more tolerable.

Worst of all, we end the episode with the equivalent of a reset button, with the rift closed and Baylin still on Earth.. Is every blessed episode going to be someone from Mongo invading this town in search of Dale, Flash or Baylin?!

Oh, and how did the house get mysteriously fixed before his mother got home? (And how is she going to react to strigil using Baylin cleaning herself, Roman style, with oil in her backyard)?

Posted by Jvstin at 8:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2007

Doctor Who in Five Minutes

Via Chris Roberson's blog, a YouTube clip with images from all of the classic Doctor Who episodes, from Unearthly Child to the Doctor Who Movie, with a music background and a few quotes as audio accompaniment (including the immortal "No, not the Mind Probe.")

5 and a half Minutes, 160 episodes.

Posted by Jvstin at 9:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2007

Goodbye Weekly World News

I heard this on NPR first.

The Weekly World News is going to cease print publication.

For the uninitiated, the WWN is a weekly newspaper/magazine often found in supermarket checkout lines. Their headlines and stories have ranged from the fantastic to the absolutely absurd. "Bat Boy found in Texas Cave!" "Space Alien endorses Clinton for President!"

Movies such as Real Men and Men In Black implied that the outrageous headlines and stories in tabloids very similar to the WWN were, in fact, absolute truth.

My mother had a fondness for it, and taken as absolutely silly material, the WWN was harmless fun.


Posted by Jvstin at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2007

Twilight Zone and Tragedy

Gary Westerfahl, on the Locus website, has an interesting essay on the Twilight Zone and its longevity, 40 years later. (Consider, the Sci Fi Channel has a marathon every July 4th of Twilight Zone episodes, and stations in NY once did the same thing over New Year's Day, too).

I think his thesis has merit--the fact that episodes show tragedy in a way that is often not seen in modern media gives them a resonance and speaking to a universal truth in a way that makes them timeless, even given the black and white medium and sometimes silly looking sets.

Posted by Jvstin at 3:11 PM | Comments (3)

October 23, 2006

"Yes, Emperor"

"Yes, Emperor"

Comedy, Series Premiere.

Hapless minor Chaosian Lord Merlin Sawall (Ben Affleck) finds himself unexpectedly propelled to the top of the hierarchy of the Courts of Chaos and made the new Emperor of the Pole of Reality. Waiting for him there to tell him how to do his job is Lord Humphrey of House Appleby, Permanent Lord of Administrative Affairs in Thelbane, the Palace of the Emperor.

Also making Merlin's life crazy are Sir Bernard of House Woolley (Derek Fowlds), his new Private Secretary obsessed with the minutae of proper Thari, and Merlin's brother Jurt (also played by Ben Affleck), who is convinced he could do the job better.

Future episodes will have guest appearances by Merlin's mother Dara (Tilda Swinton) and Merlin's other. scheming brother Mandor (Jeremy Irons).

Posted by Jvstin at 6:33 AM | Comments (1)

October 3, 2006

Japan's Pop Culture

American Radio Works, a division of NPR, has a pretty good new radio documentary on the popularity and influence of Japan in pop media. From anime to manga to video games, Japan is riding the crest of a rising popularity of its popular media.

http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/japan/index.html

Posted by Jvstin at 2:05 PM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2006

Cybermen versus Daleks

Crooked Timber Morphic resonance on Doctor Who
Over on the Crooked Timber blog, more usually reserved for politics (but there are SF fans there), there is a debate over Doctor Who and Daleks versus Cybermen.

Me, I always thought Daleks were less dangerous than the Cybermen because of the staircase fatal flaw until I saw the 7th Doctor Episode where a Dalek levitates up a staircase toward a trapped Sylvester McCoy...

Posted by Jvstin at 5:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2006

Andreas Katsulas, Rest In Peace

Via the LJ of a friend of mine.

Andreas Katsulas, the actor who played G'Kar in Babylon 5, died of lung cancer on February 13. Joseph Michael Straczynski, the creator and writer of the series, posted a lovely epitaph on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, reprinted here.

Rest in peace and sleep in light.

Posted by Jvstin at 8:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 7, 2005

Rest in Peace, Little Buddy

Gilligan star Bob Denver dies at age 70 - TELEVISION - MSNBC.com

Rest in Peace, Bob Denver. Sure, Gilligan's Island was cornball. But it was funny. The fact that its never been out of syndication proves that the comedy, mostly slapstick, and the mix of archetypes in the show worked then, and works now.

Posted by Jvstin at 4:50 AM

August 27, 2005

Rome the HBO Series

NPR : The Fall and Rise of 'Rome'

An NPR story about the 12 part Rome series that HBO is doing. The classics expert they got to talk about it seems very enthusiastic about the level of detail and how right they got the major participants of the period.

I suppose I will have to wait for the DVD--the Olsons don't get HBO even for me to get them to TIVO it.

Posted by Jvstin at 8:51 AM

July 20, 2005

Goodbye Mr Doohan

***Dave :: Good-night, Scotty

Goodbye Mr Doohan, who died today at the age of 85.

He who beamed Captain Kirk up innumerable times has now beamed himself up for a grand new adventure, mayhap.

Posted by Jvstin at 12:38 PM

April 12, 2005

Sesame Street Changes

slacktivist: Illiteracy

Over on slacktivist is the news that Sesame Street is, in an effort to combat obesity and poor dietary choices in children, changing the nature of the Cookie Monster among other changes in the show.

Ugh!

I don't dispute the need to improve the dietary and exercise habits of children (and many adults for that matter, glass houses and all that). But reducing Cookie Monster's intake of cookies and introducing characters based on eggplant and carrots is not the way to go about it.

Didactic teaching of kids, especially, just doesn't work. Sesame Street used to understand that.

Posted by Jvstin at 2:13 PM

November 8, 2004

The Prisoner lives

CNN.com - In praise of the mysterious No. 6 - Nov 8, 2004

A little unexpected, finding a paean of praise to McGoohan's brainchild. I picked up the box set of the entire series thanks to an Amazon Gold Box two years ago, and I love the series. Until I picked up Netflix again, I averaged watching at least one episode a week.

And aside from stuff like "The General", the series has not aged. And its themes are still powerful, especially in the climate of today's politics.

Posted by Jvstin at 1:35 PM

September 1, 2004

Nostalgia Strikes again

The latest old television series to be slated for a DVD release this fall is an old favorite of mine.

Wilma Deering in Spandex! Buster Crabbe cameo! Asimov references! Gary Coleman! Bad science from the get go!

Yep, you guessed it.
Buck Rogers is coming out in DVD.

Cheesy, but I do want it.

Posted by Jvstin at 7:04 PM

March 21, 2004

Doctor Who casting

I didn't know until a couple of months ago that, finally, eight years after the movie, and fifteen years after the last televised episode, that the BBC was bringing back Doctor Who.

Yes, Doctor Who.


I remained skeptical of such things, but now, I hear, they have finally casted the 9th(?) Doctor, Christopher Eccleston

The name probably isn't familiar to Americans, but he is apparently a big actor in Britain. I have actually seen him once, however, he played the husband of Nicole Kidman's character in "The Others". A small role to be sure. But I thought he did well in the part.

Counting Paul McGann's TV movie Doctor as the 8th, this would be the 9th Doctor in the chronology of the series (assuming they do keep it canonical).

Posted by Jvstin at 11:06 AM