Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Star Trek: Phase II: "Blood and Fire," Part One

God, I love New Voyages. I mean, Phase II. I have never, ever felt disappointed after watching one of these.

My first surprise was that "Blood and Fire, Part One" has been made available for download. When their previous episode "World Enough and Time" was released, they said they were doing away with downloads in favor of streaming video to keep bootlegging down. Well, apparently they've changed their mind, because the first part of "Blood and Fire" is available for download from

For those who may not know, "Blood and Fire" was originally written to be a first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. It was written by David Gerrold, who wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles" on the original series and who was deeply involved in the development of Next Generation at the time. The episode itself was meant to be a metaphor for AIDS, and was supposed to introduce a gay officer, who was really only intended to be in that episode. For various reasons, the staff got cold feet and the story was scrapped. This was one of the reasons that Gerrold ended up leaving Next Generation. (Another reason being that he felt Rick Berman had been politically placed as Paramount's controlling agent for the show. Apparently he saw the writing on the wall way early.)

Gerrold has sold his scripts for the episode at conventions, and rewritten it as an original fiction book. James Cawley of New Voyages approached him about doing it as one of his Trek fan films. Gerrold agreed, and it's now the first episode under New Voyages new title, Star Trek:Phase II.

I've read a detailed description of the original script, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. All the same, this still held a lot of surprises. The gay character is no longer just a once-off character, but Kirk's nephew Peter, returning from the original series episode "Operation: Annhilate!" The ship that the Enterprise comes to the rescue of is a TV-era version of the Miranda class (that's the Reliant from Wrath of Khan to you non-ship-obsessed people), and man is she a beauty. Peter Kirk's room-mate is Xon-- the Vulcan that was originally planned to replace Mr. Spock when Paramount planned on bringing the original series back, and then opted to make Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead.

And James Cawley has really nailed down his William Shatner impression.

I'm not too keen on Ben Tolpin, who replaces Jeff Quinn as Mr. Spock. While Jeff Quinn always struck me as too young to be believable as Spock, Ben Tolpin comes across as too... well, nasal. I don't know how else to put it. His dialogue is totally Spock, but his delivery just feels all wrong. But I've never seen anyone else portray Spock and have it feel like Spock to me, so I'm probably just being too hard on poor Mr. Tolpin. Besides, this is a fan film. I'll be holding Zachary Quinto to a higher standard next summer.

Bobby Rice is great as Peter Kirk. His ranting scene comes off a bit flat, but everything else with him in it is great, and he and Evan Fowler (as Peter's love interest, Alex Freeman) are very believable together. (Although I do feel their big "make-out scene" was over the top-- yes, I know Jim Kirk constantly had his shirt off, and he constantly made out with the ladies, and he even made out with one or two of them with his shirt off... but I don't recall any of them kissing his nipple.)

Other things I really liked: (1) Kim Stinger as Uhura, (2) The pacing feels great... did I mention they turned it into a two-parter when they rewrote it? The new material uses a lot of character growth. The scenes between the main characters, such as Kirk and Spock discussing Peter's having a fiancee and especially the ending to the scene in the briefing room between Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov and McCoy just rang pure, classic Trek. Waitaminute, I guess that counts as (3). (4) Copernicus having its own ship insignia... man I miss that, I wish they'd never done away it in the official Trek. (5) The fact that since this is a rewrite, the only characters to be bulletproof from the cliffhanger are Spock and Rand. Waitaminute, this is the series that killed off Chekov and didn't feel the need to explain how he came back. Never mind...

My whiny fanboy nit-picks: (1) The Copernicus is NCC-1893. The Reliant was NCC-1864. Since the Copernicus is presumably newer than the Enterprise but younger than the Reliant, I would have liked it better if it was somewhere between 1701 and 1864, like 1792 or something. (2) Kirk and Scotty discuss transporter biofilters at one point, which is totally a Next Gen era only thing, but I can see how it slipped in since the script was originally written for that time period. (3) While I'm happy to see Xon brought in, I'm disappointed that it seems he bears little or no resemblance to the original plan for Xon. The idea was that since he was serving on a ship full of humans, he was looking at it as a great experiment to try to learn about and understand emotions. The concept of a Vulcan who was willing to learn to find emotions within himself sounded like a great idea to me. I realize that this is what they wound up doing with Data, but I think it would be very different here-- Data wanted to be human. Xon would stll be proud of being a Vulcan, but not afraid of learning something that his people shunned. Ah well, maybe he'll get to do more of that in a later episode.

And lastly... that I have no idea how long I'll have to wait for Part Two!!

But that's okay... New Voyages has always been worth the wait. And it still is as Phase II.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doctor Who - "The Next Doctor"

Okay, to be fair, this probably isn't go to air in America for a loooong time. I know Rich hasn't seen it as of this writing, but I don't know about Jonathan, although I do know he tends to see them before they air here in the US. So Jonathan, if you haven't seen it yet, skip this blog. (Oh, and thank you very much for the nice Christmas card.)

Okay, so that takes care of my two readers. To anyone else... MAJOR-ASS SPOILER ALERT.

I mean, I really didn't want to find out anything about this episode. With David Tennant leaving after these specials, the stage was perfectly set for the Doctor to actually meet his future self. So I didn't want to know who the next Doctor was going to be until after I saw it. I mean, the big suspense is, is he really the next Doctor, or is he a fake? And if we find out the actor taking over for Tennant is David Morrisey, then we know he is, and the suspense is gone. If we find out the next actor isn't David Morrisey, then we know he isn't, and once again the suspense is gone.

So, from the moment this episode finished airing in the UK until my friend showed up with a copy to watch, I avoided the internet. Just in case.

And I succeeded!! I got to watch the episode without knowing!!

So it really wouldn't be fair if I spoiled it for you.

So know you have been really, really, really warned.

Okay... so...

Woah! How about that CyberKing?!? Man that was freaking cool. Although I suspect that has to seriously rewrite history. I wonder if they'll mention it in a future episode? You know, just have a regular guy from the 21st century make an off-hand comment about the CyberKing from 1851...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force - Inferno by Troy Denning

Finally, the tide begins to turn. Although no one realizes yet that he's actually become Darth Caedus, Lord of the Sith, everyone at least realizes that the man they knew as Jacen has become so dark that they can't find anything left in him to try to turn back to the light, and the fight against him has truly begun.

The pain of watching Jacen slowly be torn apart over the last five books is gone; now it's just a question of when the Jedi realize they're fighting the Sith again, how they're going to take him out, and if he'll drag Ben down with him.

Along those lines, I found it fascinating to see Caedus try to take the role of Vergere with Ben. It was twisted enough when Vergere did it to Jacen; seeing Caedus try to recreate it now seemed not only more twisted, but almost pitiful on Caedus's part. I always felt that Vergere had reached a point where she saw the bigger picture of the Force, the galaxy, and everyone's place in it, and that it was something of a balance between light and dark. Caedus's attempt to emulate her comes across as a total failure, as if he's embraced the Sith perspective so completely that he's lost the balance that Vergere had, but is so convinced of his being right that he'll never see it.

I may be misinterpreting what Troy Denning was going for; this series is definitley painting Vergere as if she was an out-and-out Sith all along and we just never knew it, and that this was her master plan all along, to turn Jacen into Darth Caedus. I suppose it fits, but I can't accept the idea that anything's that black and white when it comes to Vergere.

I was also intrigued about the Sith group that Alema found; they fit perfectly with the group of Sith led by Darth Krayt in the Legacy comics. But since I had assumed that Mara must have been pregnant with Kol Skywalker during New Jedi Order and it turned out to be Ben, I'm not assuming anything anymore.

Oh, and Merry Christmas, everyone! I'm going to go into hiding from the internet now until I get to see "The Next Doctor."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Lair of Grievous"

General Grievous was really cool in the original Clone Wars cartoon and Star Wars: Republic comics. He was a serious kick-ass threat, and you knew that when he showed up some Jedi were going to die.

Then came Revenge of the Sith, and as much as I love that movie, General Grievous was just another henchman. I get the impression that George Lucas intended him to be more like one of Ming the Merciless's toadies, and if he had a mustache I'm sure he would have twirled it. And that's all well and good, but after the huge build-up he got in the other media... well, the film version of him was a bit of a let down.

So I'm rather pleased that this version of Clone Wars is returning him closer to his former glory. He gets caught rather easily and loses his legs, yet still manages to be threatening and kill a few clones. (And the way he was crawling around on his four arms made him come across as very spider-like, which really creeped me out. Very well done.)

And okay, so he spends most of his time hiding and attacking the Jedi by remote... but he still came across as menacing, creepy, and dangerous. And when he went out to fight Nahdarr Vebb face to face I felt like I was seeing the old Grievous again.

Long story short, two Jedi and six Clone Troopers went in, and only one Jedi came out... and he barely got away with his life. That's pretty tough. I feel like this show has taken the tough pre-movie version and mixed it with the slimy, cowardly lack of honor of the movie version. All in all, I think it works and makes Grievous an enemy to be feared again. (The only downside being that we know he can't kill certain Jedi because they don't die until Revenge of the Sith. But you get the idea...)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - "Earthlings Welcome Here"

Ah, now we get back to the main plot. I think "Self-Made Man" and "Alpine Fields" would have worked better if they aired right before "Strange Things Happen at the One-Two Point," so that episode would have led straight into this one, and there would have been more of a break where we thought Cromartie was still buried.

I liked the UFOs in this one, because I had actually seen some of the You-Tube videos they were referring to! Here's two of the cooler ones:

Now they're both fakes, of course, although they're supposed to be based on real photos of a sighting in California, which were used as the basis of this episode. Nice idea to twist it into a potential Skynet project.

Riley's suicide (attempt?) felt a little out of place. From what was briefly shown of her in the future, I got the impression that she's been a survivor and used to foraging for herself. So I would think being forced to be on her own in a past that she considered luxurious wouldn't be that scary to her.

Jesse's comment that "it's your job to keep John away from her" implies to me that she's trying to keep John from geting too close to Cameron... but it struck me as interesting since I was wondering how this show alters the timeline and keeps John from meeting Kate (from T3) as well.

And lastly, here's one more faked UFO video.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force - Sacrifice by Karen Traviss

Major, major spoilers below.

Well now... that book was certainly a downer.

In one book, my three favorite EU characters have all died. And yes, I'm including Jacen Solo in that statement. Darth Caedus has killed him as completely as he killed Mara Jade Skywalker, as surely as Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Anakin Skywalker.

Jacen was one of my favorite characters, originally on a par with Jaina for the being the first of the next generation of our heroes. He surpassed Jaina during The New Jedi Order for me, when he was captured by the Vuuzhan Vong and came to understand them, and through that experience came to have a deeper, wider understanding of the Force. That open minded man, born of pain but who learned how to understand and rise through his pain, really resonated with me. He was the one always trying to look at things from different angles, always seeing things in a way that the regular Jedi were blind to.

But then he went from seeing the multitude of different ways into seeing only what he felt was the one, correct way, and why all those other ways were wrong. (Hmm, not unlike an ex-boyfriend of mine now that I write it down.) But Jacen felt it was up to him to make sure the galaxy was safe for his daughter, and that made it his responsibility to make the galaxy do things in what he felt was the one, true way. And in doing so, Darth Caedus betrayed everything Jacen Solo stood for.

The books have been showing this transformation slowly taking place ever since The Swarm War trilogy, of course, but just as I'd hoped with Shira Brie, I kept hoping that he would see where he's lost his way and come back to the light. But when he killed Mara, he also killed himself. Mara and Jacen joined in battle, and unlike the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan where we knew what the inevitable outcome must be, this was a battle where either both would be saved or both would be lost.

Unfortunately, since this was only Book 5 in a 9-book series, I didn't have a lot of hope of which way it would go. But there was a certain amount of hope there, just the same. And with the loss of that hope, I've also lost hope that Jacen will ever be turned back to the light again.

And then we lose Shira, as well. She dies not as Shira, but as Lumiya, proving that Shira Brie really did die in the old Star Wars #61 comic book, never to return. [And as a side note... how cool is it that both Lumiya/Shira Brie and Fenn Shysa have become so prominent in the Star Wars canon? Now if they'd only bring back Plif!]

Farewell, Mara.
Farewell, Shira.
Farewell, Jacen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Macross Frontier #18: "Fold Fame"

Wow, that new opening title sequence blew me away. I watched it three times before I started pausing it to get a closer look at it. Incredible.

So now the truth comes out about Sheryl's illness and how she was manipulated by Grace... the term "disposable celebrities" has never been more apt. Which of course makes me fear for Ranka all the more, and more curious about what really happened to the Macross Galaxy and what the Vajra really are.

And damn, Battle Frontier has one hell of a main gun!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Cloak of Darkness"

Man, I think I love this show more and more every week. More great space battles. Some great lightsaber fights. Luminara getting center stage. Asajj Ventress kicking butt and coming across as tough. The bad guys need to win every once in a while to remind you why they're a threat, and this episode did that perfectly. I'm hoping Greivous gets the same treatment in the next episode.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Where No One Has Gone Before"

I always liked Diane Duane's books. I absolutely loved The Wounded Sky, which this episode is based on, although it's so heavily altered that only the original concept is left. But that's just as well, as it avoids the messy "this happened to the same characters twice" that Doctor Who has run into by adapting Jubilee, Human Nature, etc. And the special effects weren't ready for a character like K't'lk back in 1987, anyway. ;) Still, this episode successfully captures the spirit of the book, especially in the "realm of thought" that the Enterprise finds iteself in, and in the character of the Traveller.

I find myself being more sympathetic to Wesley being a kid genius rewatching this, especially Picard's taking the Traveller's advice to guide him. At the time, it just felt like "Oh no, they're letting the kid on the bridge permanently," but in hindsight, knowing he'll become another Traveller and this is a necessary step for him to grow in that direction, it feels like it works. (Although Wesley's awestruck behavior at being allowed on the bridge is still cringe-worthy. The poor kid just wasn't allowed to be cool until the second or third seasons.)

And oh, the music in this episode! Not the bland, sanitized background bars that would become the norm later, but music that actually tried to capture the majesty of what we were seeing on screen, and make you feel connected to it by including the Next Gen theme in it. Fantastic.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - "Alpine Fields"

Another self-contained episode, or at least it would seem so on the surface of it. I really liked Lauren Fields, so hopefully this episode was laying ground work for her character.

I also liked that this makes two episodes in a row where we see different T-888s going after two targets that aren't John Connor.

So now Lauren and Sydney will be living the hide-and-wait lifestyle that Sarah & John are living. Once again, a family who was happily living their lives oblivious to what the future held now know and are preparing for it. It occurs to me that in trying to erase any resistance to itself, Skynet is actually creating it. It would be really cool if Lauren showed up later in the series building her own resistance team.

My one nitpick: Cameron can identify a T-888 from a photograph, but she can't identify that Roger wasn't a T-888 when he's right in front of her? I'll chalk this one up to her being frazzled and recovering from her shutdown...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stargate Atlantis - "Identity"

Once again, the team on Atlantis runs into the same problem that SG-1 ran into.

Once again, the threat feels very real because I'm wondering if people will actually be killed off since the show is almost over.

Once again, there's a lot of running through forests. Thanks a lot for pointing that out to me, RTD. >:/

It may sound like I feel it's getting repetitive, but I don't really. I enjoyed this episode a lot more than last week's. Good characterizations, and I think it actually makes sense that some of the stuff from the Ancients would be recurring.

And I like Zelenka.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - "Self Made Man"

Enjoyable enough episode. Kind of felt like a side-story, but I guess it resolved the subplot of the three dots. (Of course I thought they did that in the previous episode too, so who knows.)

I liked the concept of a Terminator that arrived in the wrong time, although I think I kept expecting it to become something bigger than it was. Maybe I'm a bit slow, but every time I thought "What about this plot point?" I then realized "Hmm, I guess this answers it." I think I'm a victim of expecting this to be something that's laying ground work for later episodes, but it really isn't, it all wraps itself up quite nicely. Let me make sure I understand how this was supposed to go:

The T-888 was sent back in time not to kill John Connor, but to kill the mayor in 2010. But he arrived in 1920, accidentally killing the guy who was going to build the tower where his assignment was to take place. So he builds the tower himself, then hides in it to wait for 2010 to come around. Then in 2008, Cameron figures it all out and shuts him down. Did I get it right?

Now, it could be argued that there were other, easier ways to fulfill his mission (Kill the mayor's parents? Wait until the mayor was born and kill him then?) but maybe he wasn't that adaptable.

I also rather liked seeing Cameron's attempts at making a friend. While it seems that she's really only trying to adapt her program to know how to improve her "human interaction skills" so she can get what she wants, I'm definitely left with the feeling that there's something more going on in there at the same time. If she was completely indifferent to the dude in the library then she could have not told him about his cancer returning at all, because it was irrelevant to her needs. I think she really did learn to make friends with him... she just had no idea how to be a friend.

But the worst part of the episode was that I kept looking at those donuts thinking "If you don't eat them soon, they're going to go stale, man. What a waste of perfectly delicious looking donuts. Geez, give me those donuts if you're not gonna eat them!"

At any rate, this was an enjoyable done-in-one episode.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Macross Frontier #17: "Goodbye Sister"

Damn, they got me good on this one!

That scene where the pilot looks into Ozma's cockpit and gasps... my heart lept into my throat, and I just thought, how could I have not seen the signs? Episode 17? Pineapple cake? "Goodbye, Sister," for crying out loud?!? Oh no, don't be... but they always do this in anime, the mentor always dies... OMG, look at all that blood! Oh Ozma...

And then we cut to the hospital with Luca saying "If he'd died, it would have been incredibly emotional, huh?" and I damn near fell off my chair laughing. I should have known better... this is Macross Frontier. Nothing's going to go exactly the same.

They got me good.

I also continue to love how Fire Bomber is "oldies" music. I feel that way around the new breed of otaku sometimes.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Bombad Jedi"

I wouldn't go as far as saying that I'm a Jar-Jar fan, but I certainly don't hate him like a lot of other Star Wars fans do. Yes, I do feel he robbed the final battle scene of Episode I of any real drama, but it didn't rankle me that much. And I rather liked how he was handled in Episode II... an innocent soul manipulated by evil into giving it the power it needs. And I liked how the History Channel documentary pointed out that Jar-Jar reflects Anakin's childhood innocence, and the farther Anakin falls, the less we see of his childhood friend. And really, as grim as Episode III needed to be, Jar-Jar would have stood out pretty badly.

In Clone Wars, however, Jar-Jar has found where he truly belongs. This show has always had a feeling of fun to it, and so rather than standing out, Jar-Jar fits right in. I have to admit that I laughed out loud when he accidentally destroyed his own ship, and again when 3PO had to relate it to Amidala.

Which brings me to another thing I liked-- the fact that Anthony Daniels and Ahmed Best were doing their voices. It just felt so natural and right. Anthony Daniels really shines in this one. You would think that since C-3PO and Jar-Jar are both the comic relief characters that they wouldn't work without a straight man to play off of, but their styles are so different-- Jar-Jar the manic and 3PO the depressive -- that they actually play off each other beautifully. I hope we get more episodes of them together later in the series.

And lastly, I loved getting to see Rhodia. The world itself fits the Rhodians perfectly, and has enough grandness that it feels at home in the Star Wars universe. I was also very pleased that only the lead Rhodian spoke "Basic," and that Rhodians came in different colors and shades.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watchmen - by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Well, damn. Now I see what all the fuss is about.

Being a comic book fan (especially of my age group) and not having read Watchmen is like being a movie buff who has never seen Citizen Kane. Yet there I was. At the time that Watchmen first came out, I was more concerned with Comico's Robotech comics (and probably this other cool new title that Comico had just started called Grendel).

After the years passed it became one of those things I've always meant to get around to based on it's reputation, but never have. Like Citizen Kane.

Then I saw the trailer for the upcoming Watchmen movie, and I knew I had to see this movie... but there was no way I was going to go see an adaptation without having read the original first. So Rich kindly came to my rescue and loaned me his copy.

And wow, was I hooked into it. I've been reading it every chance I could over the last three days, and I finished it up this morning.

Which is saying a lot, in and of itself, because not all of the books that were revolutionary for the time hold up. I also never read The Dark Night Returns at the time, so I started reading it when Dark Night Strikes Again was announced. I hate to admit this, but I had trouble getting into it. I had to remind myself that this was the first time Batman was being handled this gritty. By 2001, those kinds of stories had become routine in general. So I was partially prepared to not be as impressed with Watchmen as I would have been in 1985....yet I was.

It's also saying a lot considering the story is firmly entrenched in 1985. I remember 1985 well. It was the year that Robotech debuted, the year I moved from the Pittsburgh suburbs to the Philadelphia suburbs... I also remember wondering which strike zone I had moved into. (We all knew at the time that if/when nuclear war did happen, then if you were in Zone 1 you were dead instantly, if you were in Zone 2 you died slowly from radiation, and if you were in Zone 3 you lived and wished you had been in Zone 1.) I also remember my Spanish teacher going on about the Red Threat in class, and watching Threads, not to mention The Day After in 1983. But that gives you a good idea about what the world was like in 1985. The attitudes aren't fiction, they aren't an embellishment, they're how the world really was at the time. I remember the Beirut embassy being bombed and just walking by myself around town, wondering if there was any point in figuring out what I would be when I grew up because I wasn't confident that the world would still be there that long.

This book captures all that, and it's made stronger in that we're reading about a parallel 1985 where the world was changed by having Super Heroes-- not just how Super Heroes fit into the "real world" of 1985. I think that makes the story work no matter when you read it.

The characters feel real. The story of "What happens when real people become super heroes?" has been done a lot since too, but as long as your characters are people you can relate to, it never gets old. And I found all of them intriguing, especially since really one one of them had super powers.

So I went back to the movie trailer with a new eye, and now I'm even more excited than ever to see it.

I guess I should get around to seeing Citizen Kane now...

Heroes - "Our Father"

Not bad, and it's nice to see that the story may be circling back to that little preview we had of Ando getting powers again.

Still a bit disappointed that Sylar can switch back and forth from trying to be good to just being toally evil again. Maybe it's because of the hunger-- sometimes all it takes is the right push for you to fall off the wagon and be knee-deep back into your addiction.

Oh, Hiro. He's managed to have all three parts of the formula in his posession, and then have them all snatched up by Arthur Petrelli before the episode ends. Little dissapointed in you there, Hiro.

And my biggest complaint about this episode-- how the hell did Arthur go back in time?!? I mean, seriously, the whole plot hinged on him being able to do that, and I have absolutely no memory that he could do that. He certainly didn't get it from stealing Hiro's power, because he had to already go back in time to steal it. Did I miss something? Can someone point it out to me if I did?

Other than that, I still enjoyed it. I loved the scenes of Claire and Hiro with their younger selves, and especially Claire being able to tell her father "You're going to have her for at least 16 years, it's okay to love her." If only all parents could get such reassurances that our kids will live good, happy lives.

QUESTION for YOU (yes, YOU READING THIS!!):   According to my stats, this review is my 6th highest blog of all time, and continues to get a lot of hits.  I can not, for the life of me, understand why.  Would you be so kind as to leave a comment and tell me why you decided to check this review out?  I would be very grateful.  Many thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Sarah Jane Adventures - "Enemy of the Bane"

Well, this story had all the elements of a great story-- returning villians, a surprise Sontaran, and best of all, the return of the Brigadier-- but I kept finding myself starting to doze off during the second half. But I'm going to chalk that up to my staying up too late last night reading Watchmen rather than blame it on this story itself.

Good old Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It's so nice to see him and Sarah Jane together again. He's definitely having a harder time getting around these days (no running down corridors for him this time-- we don't even get to see him getting in and out of his car), but that doesn't stop him from still being authoritative and getting to even shoot a bad guy. I'm hoping this leads to him getting to come back in one of the 2009 Doctor Who specials, so he'll still get to be with the 10th Doctor.

Overall, I'd say Series 2 of SJA was a big improvement over Series 1, which was a big improvement over the special premiere. Rich told me the show was renewed for a Series 3, so that's good news.

Lonely Soldier Boy II: An Acoustic Album - by Michael Bradley

Being a Robotech fan, I was always jealous of the Japanese anime music industry. If you had a hot show, you got soundtracks, remake albums, image albums, live albums, drama albums... being a Macross 7 fan, I loved that Fire Bomber released Live Fire!! and Acoustic Fire!! and always wished that my favorite anime singer of all time, Yellow Dancer, would get the same treatment.

Well, thank the stars for Michael Bradley, the singing voice of Yellow Dancer. When he discovered that he had a following because of his work on Robotech-- especially among soldiers and their families for the song "Lonely Soldier Boy" -- he started playing the songs at conventions and set to work on a remake album, redoing the Yellow Dancer songs in a more modern-day style. He wanted to put Yellow Dancer on the cover and have it be an official Robotech album, but Harmony Gold's legal department wanted such a huge cut of the album sales that it would have been unprofitable for him. As a result, the album was released simply as Lonely Soldier Boy. It came out early this year, and has been one of my favorite albums of 2008.

When Michael Bradley then announced he was going to follow it up with an all-acoustic album, I was all smiles. At long last, Yellow Dancer was getting the treatment I always thought he deserved. (Err, she deserved. S/he. ...Never mind.)

What I didn't expect was Lonely Soldier Boy II: An Acoustic Album to be what is possibly the best Robotech music album, ever. These arrangements are just breathtaking. In addition to the five songs he did as Yellow Dancer, Michael Bradley has also included acoustic versions of the other songs he worked on for Robotech and Robotech: The Movie. Many of these tracks just leave me speechless. I got that little tingle down my spine that I used to get when I was 16 and these songs were all new.

You can hear samples from both albums (and of course order your own copies) at

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stargate Atlantis - "Infection"

Good concept and decent characterization, but not carried through very well. I liked seeing how the overall arc progressed with Todd and the attempt to "cure" the Wraith, but I hate it when the characters don't see the obvious (see my previous Clone Wars review).

"Dr. Keller's gene therapy... disease... help us..."
Well, it seems immediately obvious to me that they tried the gene therapy and it resulted in a disease, so they're hoping you'll be able to cure it. Yet it takes our heroes 10 minutes to figure this out?

"Colonel, the wall in front of me is melting... ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!"
Well, gee, it seems immediately obvious to me that the ship is rearranging itself. Yet it takes our heroes about 5 minutes to figure this out...

"Why are all these malfunctions happening?!?"
Well, let's see, it seems immediately obvious to me that since Wraith ships are organic that maybe your ship has caught the disease?!? At least in this case they asked the question right before the commercial break and got the answer right after they came back. So I guess they're catching on quicker.

So all in all, a few good elements, but not a very good episode.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Star Trek: Destiny - Book III: Lost Souls by David Mack


Big things indeed.

I really want to go spoiler-happy here, but I'm going to restrain myself.

David Mack has really constructed a brilliant trilogy here. Major changes for the Star Trek universe as we know it, and all the doom you'd expect from a major all-out offensive by the Borg, while still retaining that special Star Trek optimism and wonder for the universe.

This book brings what has turned into a six-book epic about the Borg to its fruition. Some people have been complaining that the books have used the Borg too much over the last two years, and I was starting to agree with them, but the Destiny trilogy puts it all in perspective. The Destiny trilogy, along with the Next Gen books Resistance, Before Dishonor, and Greater than the Sum, are Star Trek's equivalent of Star Wars' New Jedi Order series. Major deaths, new characters, and major ramifications not just for the heroes but for the entire Star Trek universe.

This book is not only why I read Trek books, it's why I can't stop reading all the new Trek books. The best Star Trek books of all time are being written right now, and this trilogy is at the top.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Heroes - "The Eclipse: Part 2"

At last, I have my answer about the 9th Wonder comics! They were drawn by Isaac Mendez and are being published posthumously. Which makes me wonder, if Mendez was able to make enough issues to cover everything that happened for a season and a half after he died, then that means that he knew that the future he originally saw was going to get changed, which meant none of this is actually changing the future, because the future was supposed to be changed, which means it's all a fixed timeline! THERE IS NO FREE WILL!!!! AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

Oh yeah... I should probably comment on the actual show itself, huh?

I enjoyed it enough, although I didn't think you needed to be a comic geek to say "Umm, wait and see what happens after the eclipse ends." Nathan's deciding to join up with his father based on what went down in Haiti seemed rational enough. But Sylar's deciding "No, I'm a bad guy at heart" felt forced to me, like they've been trying real hard to make me understand him and make him likeable, and now they've just decided to throw it away and go back to status quo. We'll see where it goes next week.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Last Outpost"

When this episode first aired, I thought it was humorous. And I thought that was a bit of a mistake, to introduce the Big New Villain of the show in a humorous episode, because it made it hard to take them seriously in later episodes.

But watching this episode 20 years later, I think it's more of a case of William Shatner singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." I think they meant this episode to be completely serious at the time, and it just didn't come across that way they meant it to, so they said "Oh, yeah, that was what we meant. Hehe." And then Ira Behr rolled in and handled them as the supporting-level humorous characters they really were and they worked much better.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Macross Frontier #16: "Ranka Attack"

I may have to revise my theory on the last episode. I had assumed that Grace and Brera were part of the Vajra; now I get the feeling they're manipulating them just as much as the people of the Macross Frontier.

I love fanwank. Throw in lots of references to Minmei and Basara and I am one happy little fanboy. I loved seeing the bridge crew argue over which one of them was more outdated. And it's interesting to see poor trusting little Ranka wondering if using her voice in battle is really for the greater good.

Also, it looks like Brera is going to stretch our love triangle in new directions. And that VF-27 he flies is one sleek piece of mecha.

Also liked the new end titles a lot.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - "Duel of the Droids"

How stupid can Anakin and Ahsoka be?!? Stubby continues to sabotage their mission, does exactly the opposite of everything they tell him, and they need to actually see Stubby with Grievous to realize he's a Seperatist?!?

Man, Jedi are dumb.

On the plus side, Artoo kicked Stubby's butt. How often do you get to see two astromechs fight it out with each other? That's got to be one of the coolest fight scenes ever.

I also liked the design of the battlesphere. I may not care for this show's character designs much, but the ships and battle scenes are fantastic.

And I shall never forget that two clones died to save R2-D2.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles - "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point"

You gotta give Terminator points for having some great episode titles.

Interesting twist about Riley.

Not sure how I feel about John Henry's new look yet.

Oh look! I watched two different shows that both had "Sarah" in the title on the same day!

The Sarah Jane Adventures - "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith"

Two things I've really liked about SJA this season-- a stronger Doctor Who connection, and getting to learn more about Sarah Jane. This story is very good at doing both. Now that Luke's met the Doctor (at least via videoscreen) she doesn't have to act all mysterious about him, and dialogue involving the Doctor or the TARDIS just flows more easily.

I especially liked how the Trickster's trap turned out to be a predestination paradox. We don't get much of those in Doctor Who related shows anymore, which is part of what made it work so well.

And man, the Graske is the most used Doctor Who villian who has yet to appear in an actual Doctor Who episode!

Monday, December 1, 2008

South Park - "The China Probrem"

I don't plan on commenting on South Park regularly in this blog, but having just watched this episode, I just want to say this to all of fandom subculture...

Can we please stop comparing movies we don't like to being raped?

Thank you.


I have to confess, I wasn't really excited about going to see Spamalot. The recent trend to take a movie, insert a bunch of songs, and then rerelease it as a musical just doesn't inspire me. I saw the film of the musical version of The Producers and while I enjoyed it, I felt the songs had just been shoe-horned in there and made the story feel like it ran too long.

Not so with Spamalot. This is remade in the same way The Hitchhikker's Guide to the Galaxy was remade over and over-- we see many of the same things happen and many of our favorite jokes are in there, but the story is completely reworked to better suit its new medium. Characters have new beginnings and new endings, events are tied together in completely different ways, and even the songs you think you know get a twist. And it really, really works. There were my favorite jokes that I knew to expect, and a whole bunch of fresh new laughs too. Great stuff.

And Mylene got herself a killer rabbit puppet, which Danielle should be sending me a picture of soon. :)