Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Real Ghostbusters

As my quest to transfer all of my VHS tapes to DVD continues, it's brought me to the letter G. So the series I'm currently working on is Ghostbusters. Or more specifically, The Real Ghostbusters.

("Shouldn't Real Ghostbusters be under the letter R," you ask? Of course not. The Real Ghostbusters has to go right next to the Ghostbusters movies. Don't be silly.)

Without anything new in the world of Ghostbusters over the last 15 years or so, I'd forgotten how good this show was. Oh sure, there's the new videogame, but the languidness of the franchise had sunk in with me, so I wasn't really inspired to check it out. (Dave was; I figured if it was really exciting, he'd let me know. Since he didn't, he either never got it or wasn't impressed by it. Can't say either way. But I digress.)

I debated not even copying them. If I hadn't watched them in the last 15-20 years, why bother? And then I thought, no, we did break them out once when Craig was discussing the show. Mylene seemed to enjoy it at the time, maybe she'd have an interest in it in the future. So I figured I'd at least copy my first tape.

By the end of the tape I was looking to see what was released on DVD and debating just buying the whole series instead. (I've decided against it for now due to price and shelf space. ...For now.)

I knew J. Michael Straczynski had something to do with this show; it turns out he was the story editor, and wrote quite a few scripts himself. And for the first season on ABC and the 65 episodes made straight for syndication, he was directed to treat it like he was continuing the movie. The characters are treated like normal adults, the situations have tons of things that today would be considered inappropriately imitatable behavior, and the dialogue is intelligent and witty.

With a few notable exceptions, it simply wasn't a kids cartoon. It was a great, all-ages show. One of the episodes I watched recently, "Masquerade," dealt with a kid trying to emulate the Ghostbusters, which leads him to go to their headquarters and trying to audition for the team. Peter Venkman takes a liking to the kid and even brings him along on a call-- much to the chagrin of the rest of the team. "What's Peter thinking?" Ray complains to Egon and Winston. "This is no place for a kid, he could've been killed." Which I absolutely LOVED, for multiple reasons: (1) Most cartoons would never have addressed that-- they would treated it as complete fantasy that some exec would have thought was necessary "so the kids can identify with him" or some other such nonsense; and (II) they actually used the word killed, which is usually verboten in cartoons. Even in Robotech they often used "destroyed" instead.

I also have to give lots of credit to the writing team of Michael Edens & Mark Edens. Anytime their names come up on the title card I know I'm in for a good episode.

When the show went into its second season on ABC it was now a hit, and so of course the execs then started stepping in, to the point that JMS left the show. You can see a dip in the writing at that point, which is ironic because the animation improves greatly. JMS did come back to write some of the later episodes, and there are some good episodes by other people as well, but in general the later post-syndication episodes I've seen have been very hit-or-miss.

It turns out there's a whopping 140 episodes (although 10 of them are only 15 minute episodes, when the show was turned into the Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters hour). And out of these, I have 59. So yeah, I may end up looking into those official DVDs eventually after all...

...So if that's the case, why transfer my old VHS copies to DVD now? Doesn't that make this a waste of time?

Of course not. I'm having too much fun watching them again. Don't be silly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Doctor Who - "Dreamland"


The latest not-really-an-episode in the latest not-really-a-season of Doctor Who is a CGI special, "Dreamland." The story takes place at Area 51, which is supposedly commonly referred to as "Dreamland." Has anyone else ever heard of this? I have to admit, I'm not an Area 51/Roswell Conspiracy aficionado, but as often as they've been used in SF stories, you'd think I'd have heard the term before now.

The story is solid-- I'd pick this over "Delta and the Bannermen" or "The Web Planet" any day. The animation is great when dealing with spaceships, aliens, scenery and effects in general, but not so great when it comes to people. But overall, I'd say it's still stronger animation than what we got in "Scream of the Shalka" or the reconstructed episodes of "The Invasion." (I still have yet to watch all of "The Infinite Quest," but from what I saw of it seemed to be by the same studio that did "The Invasion.") And the acting is great from everyone, with David Tennant's usual charm coming through just fine even though his face has to be animated. (Although for some reason Georgia Moffett sounds like Nicola Bryant to me. Maybe it's something in the way British women try to do American accents.)

Overall I think it's a worthy part of the 2009 non-season and a shame that it isn't being included in the "Complete Specials" Box Set.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Star Trek vs. Batman

I first saw a trailer for Star Trek vs Batman years ago, around when Star Trek: New Voyages and Starship Exeter first came out, and I was excited about fanfilms. At the time I thought the trailer was all there was ever meant to be for it, and all the "coming soon" stuff was either a joke or just another project with good intentions that wouldn't get finished.

Then today I learned that no, it didn't stop at the trailer, the thing was actually made! Well, I had to check it out.

The premise is pretty straight forward-- the Enterprise gets hurled back to 1967, and Kirk and Spock wind up in the middle of a scheme by Joker and Catwoman in their fight with Batman and Robin.

The script is excellent. There are some genuine laughs, and a even a half-serious attempt at some drama, although that in itself is a parody of specific Star Trek episodes.

The acting is a mixed bag-- Kirk, Robin, and Catwoman are excellent. Batman and Spock are both pretty weak, which is a shame, because the dialogue written for Batman perfectly captures the old TV show, and you can just imagine Adam West saying it. The Joker has Caesar Romero's laugh down perfectly, which makes up for his delivery. And McCoy deserves an honorable mention, because while he doesn't look a thing like him, he sounds closer than John Kelley in New Voyages/Phase II.

Fanvids have gotten so good that it's easy for me to nitpick that Spock's costume is too big or that everyone has a bright green line around them when they're on alien planets... but then I think, Oh wait, let me compare this to my own Star Trek fanvid. (That would be "Star Trek V: Super Heroes O.") Oh yeah, this one kicks my butt. And besides, it would be missing the point-- that we love these original shows, sometimes because of what they got wrong as much as for what they got right. This fanvid was made with such dedication that you can truly feel the love for the source material.

Yeah, I have to agree with Fan Cinema Today-- I would include this one in any top 5 must-see fanvid lists. So what are you waiting for? Go on over to racsofilms.com and see it!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

With having got to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on DVD today, I accomplished two things. Firstly, I've now seen all the films that were on my must-see summer movie list. And lastly, I finally rented something from a Redbox!

As to the movie itself: Eh. Not bad.

I think Transformers movies have to be seen in the theater. Or at least in a home theater. First off, the robots look so much alike that the only ones I could easily tell apart was Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Oh, and the two chatty littler ones. I know they're going for more realistic, but the bright colors help me tell who's who. I'm sure if I had seen this in the theater, it would have been easier to notice the details on all the silver robots and keep track of them.

The cons:
* What was the point of bringing back Megatron? He didn't really do anything except bring the Fallen to Earth, and since Starscream was already there, he could have served that purpose just as easily.
* I think I actually hated Sam Witwicky more in this one than I did in the first one. And this time his family annoyed me too, which they didn't so much in the first one.

The pros:
* Devastator!
* The Matrix of Leadership!
* Multiple Primes!
* Jetfire!
* Arcee!
* Wheelie worked out pretty well, too.
* The military working side by side with the Autobots. Really, maybe it's because I got into transforming robots with Robotech, but I wish this movie had focused just on NEST. The human soldiers obviously considered the Autobots comrades-in-arms and I think there's a lot they could have explored there.

I realize the allure of a Transformers movie is the robot fights, but I think I would have got more out of it if I could have seen more detail... so again, it's probably best seen the big screen. I'll have to try harder to make it Transformers 3.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doctor Who: The Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell

This tells the story of a secret organization that moves in after UNIT is done, collects up everything alien left behind, from the tech to the bodies of both the aliens and their victims. Adapting and using what they can figure out and saving what they can't, they're outside the government, hidden from the United Nations, and beyond the law. "Torchwood created by Russell T Davies" my butt!

More than that, it's a great departure story for Liz, and a neat transition story between "The Silurians" and "The Sea Devils." Having seen "The Silurians" twice in the last year, it makes me really want to see "The Sea Devils" again! But sadly, I don't think Mylene is ever going to make it past episode 3 of "The Daemons" in our WhoQuest so if I want to see it, I'll probably need to just watch it on my own, which she says she doesn't want me to do so I really don't want to do that to her, but I don't want to pressure her into watching something she doesn't want to watch, cause that's no fun. But I digress.

If Paul Cornell is the Peter David of Doctor Who, then Gary Russell is the Keith R. A. DeCandido. He's got such a feel for the whole mythos. Never mind the wonderful touch of having the book broken up into 7 episodes, just like all but one of Liz Shaw's stories were; he goes to great lengths to piece together the rotating UNIT cast we saw all through Pertwee's first season and discuss how all these men served together along with Benton and Yates, even though the show hadn't settled on them as the UNIT leads yet.

Chalk up another win for Gary Russell!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Smallville, Season 9 - "Savior," "Metallo," "Rabid," & "Echo"

I go into Smallville with low expectations. That way, I tend to enjoy it more. Even then, I still manage to get disappointed, but I think that's partially because Smallville does a lot right, so I start getting excited, and then they screw up, so I feel let down all the harder. (Case in point: building up Doomsday all last season, very successfully I might add, and then not only is the final throwdown 90 seconds long, but he doesn't even kill Clark. Like, not even as a season cliffhanger. Not even for a scene and then he gets revived. Nothing.)

So, I went into Season 9 (Nine?!? Really? Nine?!?) with the usual low expectations. And so far, the show's either meeting or exceeding them.

Things I like: The new costume. [Credit where it's due department: I found the image of Clark in his new costume on supermantv.net.] 1), I'm glad he finally has a costume. 3), The design is similar enough to the outfit that Clark wore when he came back from the dead in the comics (after Doomsday, just like now!), so it works for me. And 7), he's no longer being called "The Red/Blue Blur," he's now just being called "The Blur," which sounds better.

I also like the interaction between Clark and Ollie. That continues to be some of the best scenes in each episode. I like where Ollie's story has been going.

I like that out of four episodes, we've had Zod, Metallo and Toyman. Verrrrry nice.

I like the blooming romance between Clark & Lois. The closing shot of "Echo" featuring them facing each other with the "Daily Planet" logo behind them was especially nice.

I like that the show didn't go right back to status quo by the end of the first episode. It took at least two episodes.


Things that are okay: What made Clark change the symbol inside his family crest (The "S" Shield) from being an 8 (as it's been shown in the show up to now) to an S? I get they looked similar so that's why when he started being called Superman he'd switch it to an S, but... he's not being called Superman yet. So what's the internal logic for the change? Shouldn't it still look like the more Kryptonion "8" symbol?

The stories in general have been okay.

The Zod storyline's been okay. I think I've figured out the backstory for Zod & his troops already, but I don't know where it's going to go yet.

Things I don't like: Poor Chloe getting her heart ripped out every episode. It's rude of Clark. Not that Clark hasn't always been insensitive in Smallville (which leads to me calling him Dick Clark a lot) but it's boring and it feels like that's the only way the writers know how to create drama and it's no fun to watch. I mean for crying out loud, Chloe's stood by you for eight seasons, treat her with a little appreciation. I'm convinced that by the end of the season, Chloe will have been driven so over the edge by Clark's insensitivity that she'll shave her head and start calling herself Lex Luthor. (Oh, and I can't believe Clark STOLE that guy's donut right out of his hand!! What a dick!! Although I do have this odd craving to go to Dunkin' Donuts now.)

I don't like when they start giving Kryptonians super-powers that they don't have, such as telepathy. In the case of "Echo" it's mitigated a little bit because it was explained away as some test that Jor-El created, but it still just rankles my inner fanboy.

And I'm disappointed that after coming back from being "away" for three weeks, Clark didn't star wearing glasses. He's started living a dual identity now, so this would have been a good spot to work that in. But I doubt they ever will on this show.

So all in all, I'm trying to not invest too much in the show again, but I'm enjoying it enough to keep watching.

Just like I did for Season 8.
And Season 7.
And Season 6.
And...

Really, just how is it this show has run for nine seasons?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Star Trek: Voyager - Unworthy by Kirsten Beyer

The post-television Star Trek books continue to take Star Trek to all-new heights of AWESOME.

****SOMEWHAT MID-SIZED SPOILER ALERTS****

The spoilers here are mostly for the previous Voyager book, Full Circle, also by Kirsten Beyer. However they're the set-up for this book, so I really can't discuss this book at all without mentioning them. And besides, it's written all over the back cover.

Unworthy is another of the post-Nemesis/post-Destiny books, so it's completely going forward with all the characters, and the authors are free to do pretty much anything they want with them.

The TrekLit world hasn't really known what to do with the Voyager characters since they got home. Pocket printed four books, all by Christie Golden, showing how their homecoming went and the difficulties of re-acclimating to the Alpha Quadrant and the first mission of the USS Voyager under the command of Captain Chakotay (since we saw Admiral Janeway in Star Trek Nemesis). While I felt the books would have worked great as the last few episodes of Voyager, they received a rather lukewarm reception... much like the show itself. Christie Golden got busy with non-ST projects, and there were no new Voyager books for years, and many of the characters wound up guest-starring in other Trek books, especially Admiral Janeway and Seven of Nine.

But with the mega-event that was the Star Trek: Destiny book trilogy, everything changed. And now Voyager's getting a fresh start.

Starfleet has now worked out a slipstream drive, meaning that ships can now go from quadrant to quadrant in days instead of decades. It's not easy, so it's used sparingly. Not every ship has it. But Voyager has now been equipped with it. And Voyager's new mission is to lead a fleet of eight ships back to the Delta Quadrant. This time they know they can get home. They can still communicate with Starfleet Command, albeit with a delay (the wonderful plot device that always gave good ol' Kirk so much leeway). They can try to clean up some of the messes they made on their first trip through the Delta Quadrant, continue peaceful exploration of the Delta Quadrant, and try to deal with some of the fallout from the Destiny books (which is HUGE).

It is a fantastic set-up and something that, to be honest, probably should have been done somewhere around Season 4 of the TV series.

With an entire fleet at its disposal the cast has gotten a bit huge, but it works really well. Nearly all the main characters are here (and the ones that aren't have very good reasons not to be). They've all grown a lot since the TV series, and are so much more the interesting for it. Chakotay went through hell in Full Circle, and all through Unworthy he now has a calm serenity that makes him wonderful to watch. Seven of Nine's journey to find her balance between human and Borg has never been played so well. Tom has grown into a responsible person, B'Elanna has accepted her Klingon heritage, and the lengths the two of them have to go to make their marriage work and protect their daughter really made me care. And Harry, well, he's still Harry, and I feel he spends most of his time reacting to everything else that's going on, but he never once felt out of character.

I hated to put this book down. And now that I've finished it, I want to go back to the beginning of Full Circle and just start reading them both again. (I won't, though. I have too many unread books to justify doing that.)

This is the best time for Trek books, ever.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stargate Universe - "Air"

Well, this was an interesting premiere. Take the hook for Stargate, mix it up with the original concept for Macross, throw in a healthy dash of Star Trek: Voyager, and wrap it all up in the trappings of the Battlestar Galactica remake, and you have SGU: Stargate Universe.

(Fun alternate titles: Stargate Galactica, Stargate Dimensional Fortress Destiny, and Battlestargaticross! I can't come up with alternate titles that include Voyager, because everyone knows Star Trek titles are no fun anymore.)

We have an all-new cast, made up of both military SGC officers and civilians who were working together on a research outpost when a crisis hits. They do an emergency evacuation via their Stargate and wind up in an Ancient spaceship, and promptly get stuck there. They're far from home (that's the Voyager part), and only by learning the secrets of this mysterious, giant spaceship will they be able to get back (that's the Macross part). As the ship draws close to planets that have a Stargate, the ship's Stargate activates and they send their team through so they can explore the planet (the Stargate part) and find whatever they need at the moment (more Voyager). And while of course the military is in charge, they still have their duty to protect the civilians with them, many of whom are learning they have to step up if they're all going to survive (more Macross).

And of course we have the heavy angst, the moral dilemmas, the shaky camera work, and the raunchy sex scenes of the Galactica remake.

Unlike Galactica, I didn't feel like people automatically made the wrong choice, and I did feel that the characters had good moral compasses. Dr. Rush seems to be the obvious Dr. Baltar character-- he's the long-haired, bespectacled scientific pragmatist who essentially gets them into the mess but is quick to point out how it's not his fault. However he does seem to be of a stronger moral fiber underneath it all than Gaius Baltar was. Oh, and he sounds Scottish instead of English.

SyFy is obviously hoping this show will keep their Stargate fans and pick up their Galactica fans at the same time. Will it work? Beats me. I can never predict these things. I don't really need to have a Galactica-flavored Stargate, but it doesn't offend me either, and the premise does work for me. As long as they treat it more like Atlantis than Voyager-- have them actually make contact with home, but appreciate the value of where they are, so that "getting home" isn't the constant drive of the show-- then I think this could be a great series. I love ships, and I always said Stargate had some of the best looking ships, and the Destiny is no exception. So I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with this series.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gateways - edited by Martin H. Greenberg


I love short story anthologies, because (1) they don't take too long to get moving, (B) they give you a wide variety, and (iii) I can quit reading within a day if a "must read now" book comes along, and then come back to it without having to try to remember what was going on.

I always loved the concept of stumbling across a special gateway to somewhere else. When I was a kid (back in the pre-CNN late 70's and early 80's, before every child abduction was broadcast on the news) I would often just wander around the neighborhood for hours, investigating forests and quarries and wherever the train tracks led me. Sometimes I was alone, but a lot of the time I was with my friend Frank. And there was always a feeling of adventure, as if the next forest might just reveal a sparkling window among the trees that could take us anywhere.

This anthology brings back that feeling, not just because that's actually what it's about, but because (being an anthology) each story uses a different kind of gateway and tells a different kind of story. Some are science fiction, some are fantasy, some are horror. The gateways can be anything, from magic windows to space portals to even role-playing games. They can go anywhere, from the obvious far-away worlds to different times to dark netherworlds. So going into each new story gave me that same tingle of excitement and discovery.

The risk with anthologies is there is inevitably something you won't like, but each of these stories were intriguing enough that I got something good out of all of them. Quite a few of them, like "Double Trouble" by John Zakour and "Worlds Enough ...and Time" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, I'd love to see more of. I really don't care for horror stories, but the ones here never got gory, so the gateway concept (and often the characters themselves) was enough to keep me interested.

All in all, a very fun book!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Galactica 1980 #1

First off, kudos to Dynamite Comics for having the cajones to actually risk putting out a Galactica 1980 comic.

Secondly... it's good. REAL good.

I bought it because I just had to see what they were going to do with it. Would it be farcical? Serious? The promotional blurb said only this:

One of the most controversial series in Sci Fi's history is back! Some fans love it, some fans hate it, but one thing's for certain, writer Marc Guggenheim is going to do Galactica 1980 the right way! Lives will be lost as the re-imagining of 1980 begins here and unlike anything you've seen before in a Galactica comic book! Featuring artist Cezar (Zorro) Razek along with a fully painted cover from Lucio Parillo.

(Now, I have a lot things I want to say about this blurb itself, but I'll save that later.)

The word "re-imagining" had me willing to try it and the "lives will be lost" had me thinking it was probably going to be much grittier. Marc Guggenheim also writes the post-alien-invasion comic Resurrection, which I enjoy, and it can be very dark at times. However Steve & Rich have told me that Guggenheim's great when he writes his own material, but lousy when he writes super heroes. So how would he handle this already established property?

"Well," I told Steve, "It's Galactica 1980. It would be pretty hard to make it worse."

I have to say, based on this first issue, he's handling it great. The cast is the same as the TV series-- there's no Starbuck, Apollo, or Tigh, Adama has his beard, Boomer is the new Colonel, and the main characters are Troy and Dillon. And yes, even Dr. Zee is here. There are plenty of scenes that run parallel the original first episode, but with much more depth to them. Guggenheim has taken this show from an ABC 7 PM Sunday night kids show to a serious, 10 PM adult drama.

I also found this comment by him at Total Sci-Fi Online while I was searching for the cover to post here:

"It's the finest example I can think of how wide the chasm can be between concept and execution," Guggenheim told Comic Book Resources.

"The concept is amazing. The Galactica discovers Earth! What's not cool about that? But the execution… There are a million stories to tell there and you decide to do the one about super-powered kids who play baseball? Wow."

I mean, really, can the Galactica 1980 TV show be summed up any better than that? Luckily, the story Guggenheim has picked for the comic has me itching to see what's going to happen next.

Now, on to those things I wanted to say about the promotional blurb...

One of the most controversial series in Sci Fi's history is back!
Just wondering about the capital letters here... the anal-retentive smart-ass in me wants to ask, do they mean the channel that's become SyFy? 'Cause they did run it too...

Some fans love it, some fans hate it, ...
REALLY? There's a fan out there who loves it?!? PLEASE point them out to me, and I mean this in 100% seriousness! See, I've always had this belief that everything, no matter how terrible the world at large may think it is, is someone's favorite. And I went searching for a fan who loves Galactica 1980 to prove my point.

I couldn't find one. Not one. The best I could find was people who said "Well yeah, it's a terrible show, but it's not the show's fault, it's because of this and that and the other thing that was going on that ruined it." They often point to the last episode ("The Return of Starbuck," universally hailed as the only good episode of Galactica 1980) as a sign that Glen Larson was trying to fix the show and get it back on track. But even they admit they don't like it.

So in all seriousness, if there is ANYONE out there who loves Galactica 1980, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT HERE SAYING SO!!! I still believe in my "everything is someone's favorite" theory and I want to prove it as true.

...but one thing's for certain, writer Marc Guggenheim is going to do Galactica 1980 the right way!
Sorry, but the expression "done the right way!" sends fear through me. I've seen too many "done the right way!" stories backfire. Every fan has their own idea of how a story should be done, so "the right way" is completely subjective.

Look at the Star Wars prequels. Does anyone honestly think George Lucas set out to do them "wrong"? Does anyone really believe that he sat up at night plotting to himself, "I could do this the right way, but I think I'll destroy some fanboys' childhoods instead!" No, of course not. He felt he was telling Darth Vader's backstory the right way. But lots of fans already had in their heads how it should have been, and when it didn't match up they got upset.

(And for the record, I like the prequels. And even if I hadn't, I always said it was impossible for them to "destroy my childhood" because I was no longer a child. Galactica 1980, I always countered, destroyed my childhood, because I really was a child at the time. See? It all comes full circle.)

However, having read the issue... I have to say that yes, for me this is definitely Galactica 1980 done right. I hope it holds up in later issues.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years

I DID IT!! I've finally completed something I've always wanted to do since 1986. I've finally watched all 65 episodes of Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years!

Well okay, I've actually only watched 63 episodes... it turns out I'm missing episodes 50 & 51. But hey, this is as close as I'm ever gonna get, so I feel happy.

Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years was a project by Carl Macek and Harmony Gold, the folks who brought me Robotech, the show that changed my life.

I saw in an issue of Starlog that Harmony Gold had released another anime series, Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years. The show was in limited release but was expected to have a wider push in 1987.

At the 1986 Creation Robotech Convention I got to see Carl Macek, and he explained the show's backstory something like this: After the success of Robotech, a Harmony Gold employee "who as a result of this is no longer with the company" asked him what other anime was cool. Macek shrugged and said, "I like Captain Harlock." So this employee then got on the phone and proceeded to sell 65 episodes of Captain Harlock to TV stations around the country.

HG was now stuck with honoring these sales, so they were forced to aquire the rights to the Japanese show Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The only problem is, that show only ran 42 episodes. To fill it out, they needed another show like they did with Robotech. Macek said at the con that he wanted to use the follow-up series Harlock SSX and the My Youth in Arcadia Harlock movie, but the rights owners were demanding too much money for it. Being between a rock and a hard place, Harmony Gold went with Queen Millenia, an unrelated show that used the same character designer, Leiji Matsumoto.

Macek said he hated the project, and just dreaded going in to work every day to deal with it.

Well, the show's "wider push" never came. (Just like the other HG products I was waiting on at the time: Robotech: The Movie and Robotech II: The Sentinels. I think people really don't appreciate how lucky we are that Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles actually got released.) But a friend of mine got a hold of the first 8 episodes from someone in Texas. I ate them up and eagerly wanted to see more.

I wasn't able to actually get any more episodes until over ten years later. Joy and I were in Chicago running our booth for Joy's Japanimation at AnimeCentral. I had a fansub trade list I carried around with me, and I was lucky enough to run into a fan who said he had all 65 episodes! We quickly arranged the trades, and good to his word, he provided me with the rest of the series.

(Well, except for those two missing episodes that is, but I suspect that the Chicago station skipped them so it wasn't his fault. His last tape repeats the first two episodes, and the voice over on the end credits talks about their new line-up starting on Monday. So I don't think it was his fault.)

I wanted to get back into watching them, but by that point I was too busy working with anime to actually watch any of it. Then I had to leave the store and I was so sour on anime I didn't want to have anything to do with it.

But that was years ago now, and shows like the aforementioned Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Macross Frontier and Cosmo Warrior Zero have helped me lose my resentment towards anime. So when I started copying all my VHS tapes to DVD and I reached the Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years tapes, I decided I was going to actually sit down and watch them as I copied them.

So, as to the show itself: Is it any good?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Oh sure, it's an unfaithful translation. But you know what? I don't care. It's still got some good storytelling to it, especially when compared with what else was airing in 1986. Like Robotech, the show doesn't pull its punches-- a lot of violent death scenes are left in, main characters are killed, there's live childbirth scenes (not once, but twice). And the story can get very complex as they try to weave the two worlds of Harlock and Queen Millennia together.

That weaving is where the show tends to fall apart. A lot of the connections work well (Harlock's enemies the Mazone are working for Millenia, etc.) but other times they're inconsistant. A band of refugees are first called captured humans from Earth, then in the next episode they're now called refugees from Millennia. Things like that-- a lot of inconsistancies that could have been ironed out with closer script editing.

For me, this show was like coming home. Hearing all those old Harmony Gold / Intersound voice actors again, the music (some of which was reused in The Sentinels, and one of Robotech's "dramatic stings" was used a lot in this show), coming back to watch a new episode every day all summer long... this show reminded me of why I fell in love with anime in the first place.

Okay, anime. Welcome back. All is forgiven.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

District 9

Finally saw District 9 with Dave today! I was afraid I was going to miss this one. I'm glad I didn't.

The initial trailer (and websites) gave me the impression this was going to be heavy on social commentary. Then the TV ads were heavy on action, so I started wondering, is this a "thought" movie that they're selling as an action movie?

Well, no. It really is an action movie. But it's a very, very good action movie with some strong social commentary overtones.

And cool spaceship shots. I love spaceship shots.

The movie gives us the basic set-up of how an alien spaceship arrived in the 1980's, and how the aliens were not treated well once they were settled into District 9. But that's about as far as it goes. Personally, I would have loved for the first 5 minutes of the film to be expanded into a good half hour, so we saw more of how the aliens interacted with humans and were trying to be treated with basic civil liberties. But it doesn't really go there; it's more of simply a set-up to have an "us and them," although it does do a good job on asking what it would take for someone who only ever saw the aliens as "them" to learn to see them as one of "us."

Another interesting thing I noticed is that while the aliens never speak English, a lot of their dialogue probably didn't need to be subtitled, yet it all is. There's a lot of human replies that explain what they just said. ("Gllblblbllblllbb?" "Yeah, sure, lunch sounds good." Not an actual line, but that kid of thing. Like when Han would talk to Chewbacca.) I'm wondering if the director originally intended to not subtitle the aliens and changed his mind?

All in all, I enjoyed this movie, even though it wasn't all I thought it could be. Since the trend now is to cut out story for the sake of action and then put the story back in on DVD, I'm hoping the DVD release will give me more of that "humans living with aliens in their backyard" that I was hoping for. IMDB reports that they filmed six different endings, so at the very least I'll be watching the DVD to see some of those!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Farscape: D'Argo's Lament

BOOM! Studios continues their excellent Farscape comics with Farscape: D'Argo's Lament. Once again, it's based on a story by Farscape creator Rockne S. O'Bannon and scripted by the excellent Keith R. A. DeCandido, although this time it takes place during the show's third season.

It's a great a story. KRAD shows how well he can capture the tone of D'Argo and Jool, who aren't in the regular Farscape comic. D'Argo is one of the characters I'd miss when I'd go a while without watching the show... I'd just find myself thinking, "I wonder what D'Argo's been up to?" like he was a real person or something, and then I'd start watching episodes again. So it felt good to revisit D'Argo here.

It really feels like a lost episode, right down to the fact that you never see Crichton, Aeryn, or any of the other characters even when D'Argo and Jool are on Moya-- because, obviously they're busy filming the other comic at the same time. ;)

The artwork is by Tommy Patterson and Neil Edwards, and it's also excellent. There are two other Luxons in the story, and you never wonder who's who.

So I really feel bad that I'm going to have to stop reading the D'Argo comics.

BOOM's approach seems to be that there's always two Farscape comics being published a month, one of the further adventures of John Crichton, and one of flashback tales of D'Argo. I almost passed on D'Argo's Lament when it was solicited, because I'm trying very hard to keep my comic book budget down to $50 a month. But I decided to get it anyway because, (1) I figured what happens to D'Argo in the flashback comic might end up becoming important in the "main" comic, and (2) as I mentioned above, I always liked D'Argo.

But my comic book orders keep coming in a t $61.60, so something's gotta go. And unfortunately, this comic was so well written that I realized I didn't need to know what happened in it to enjoy the main comic. D'Argo's Lament references a TV episode that I couldn't remember, but it did such a good job of giving me the information I needed to know that it didn't matter. Since KRAD writes both comics, I trust that if the events of any of the D'Argo comics come into play in the regular comic, he'll give me the info I need to know. Which in a way, I feel is very unfair to KRAD-- he shouldn't be punished because he's a great writer.

But the bottom line is I just have to stick to my budget, so I have to get tough. I'm already not buying BOOM's second Muppets comic, Muppet Robin Hood (soon to be followed by Muppet Peter Pan) because I just can't afford both that and The Muppet Show Comic Book. Same thing with Dark Horse's Star Wars: Clone Wars comic. Other titles on the chopping block are the Doctor Who Ongoing comic (because the one-shots coming out at the same time keep sounding more interesting) and Star Trek: Alien Spotlight. And the shame of it is, they're all enjoyable comics, there's just too many comics of the same series each month. If the D'Argo comics and Muppet Robin Hood were the only Farscape and Muppet comics being published that month, I'd definitely be buying them; as it is, since I have multiple comics to choose from for each series, I'm going to have to start getting pickier.

I'm still going to read the next D'Argo series, D'Argo's Trial, because I was already ordering it before I read D'Argo's Lament, and Lament was so good there's no way I'm going to bail on it in the middle of a story. But sadly, after that, I'm just going to have to learn to let D'Argo go.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds

Okay, now Rich, I know you haven't had a lot of time to read lately. And Jonathan, I know you read comics but I haven't seen you post a comics blog in a long time and I don't remember if you're reading this one.

So if you guys haven't finished this mini-series, just stop reading this post now. If you have...

Okay, let me see if I have this straight... the Legion I've been reading, the most recent one that started with Mark Waid and ended with Jim Shooter, is actually the Legion of Earth-Prime, right? Which is our Earth. So that's why they always had all the real comic books in the early issues.

The previous take on the Legion (post-Zero Hour?) turns out to be from Earth-247, which Superboy-Prime destroyed. (I'm also pretty hazy on the whole Earth-247 thing. When and where did that one come from?)

And the original (pre-Zero Hour?) Legion is in fact the true Legion of New Earth, and will be the Legion that's co-starring in Adventure Comics. (Which, incidentally, makes it seem that Geoff Johns is on a quest to totally restore the pre-Crisis DCU... bringing back Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, the original Legion...)

Have I got it right?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl

... I just wanted to prove that I read stuff besides Star Wars.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi - Omen by Christie Golden

Thank heavens for my local library! The latest series of Star Wars books, Fate of the Jedi, is a nine-book hardback series, with no paperback reprints scheduled yet at all. So if it weren't for my library, I wouldn't be reading it. (Nine hardbacks?!? Even if I could afford it, which I can't, I wouldn't have the shelf space for it.)

This is a fun and intriguing book. Luke has been exiled from the Jedi for not preventing Jacen's turn into Darth Caedus, and is going on a quest to places Jacen went to try to understand what led him down that path, which is giving him some quality time with his son, Ben Skywalker. In the meantime, Jedi are going crazy. And farther away, a new Sith threat is emerging-- a lost Sith colony, now rediscovering the galaxy, and ready to take it over.

First things first-- the lost Sith colony. They're very cool-- a planet that's been ruled by the Sith for 5000 years, and doesn't seem evil per se so much as living by their own, different code. Up until the whole "Oh, time to go out and take over the galaxy" part, but still. Very intriging, very interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them.

HOWEVER... what happened to that whole "Balance of the Force" prophecy thing? I mean really, looking at the big picture, did Anakin's story mean anything at all? How did he bring balance to the Force if there was (1) the Sith Tribe sitting around on Kesh during all six movies, and (2)Darth Krayyt sitting around building his One Sith during the last three movies?

I love the bits with Luke and Ben. It's good to see them growing closer and being a real family.

Jaina and Jag made me smile. A lot. =)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kings (episodes 1-13)

I finally finished watching this series today, and I have to say, I'm glad I tried it out.

Once again, going light on the spoilers: Kings is a story that takes place in a modern world just similar enough to our own to be familiar and understandable, but different enough that it never has to worry about tying itself into real world events.

In this modern world, the country of Gilboa has been united by their new King, Silas Benjamin. However Gilboa is now at war with its neighboring country, Gath. During the war, soldier David Shepherd finds himself brought into the lives of the royal family.

My first reaction was that this show was trying to play off of the success of Battlestar Galactica; in addition to being a world that's close-to-ours-but-not-quite, there's the shaky camera work, the ethereal moody music, the heavy references to God and His plan. And while I still think that's true, from what I've read the show is a modern take on the entire story of King David from the Bible in I Samuel. (The parallel of David standing up to a Goliath tank was pretty obvious, but I have to confess I never was very up on the Old Testament so I didn't recognize the other parts.) But while God is definitely a central character, it never feels heavy-handed. In fact, it even goes as far as to not get too specific about any one religion; there is a reference to Cain and Abel in one episode, but other than that there's nothing overt. I think that's intended to keep the "this is not your world" feel of the show, but it also gives it a wider appeal. God's will in this show is not about religion; it's about doing what's right.

Another interesting part of this show is even in the way the character's speak. The dialogue is written in such a way as to have a slight air of royalty about it; for example, instead of contracting "I will not" into "I won't," it's contracted into "I'll not." It has a lot of flair about it, and the cast, especially Ian McShane as King Silas, really needs to be given a lot of credit for being able to sell it and make it sound so natural. With dialogue like this, it could have easily turned into something stiff (Attack of the Clones, anyone?)

The show's been canceled, and while the last episode doesn't necessarily end all nice and tidy, all the characters are in place for an obvious conclusion, so I felt it was satisfying enough. And if I really want to know what happens next, I can always dig out my Bible!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Moon

Wow, this was a good movie. I'm going to try really, really hard to keep this spoiler-free, since this movie is in limited release and very few people have had a chance to see it. (Oh, who am I kidding? I know Rich hasn't seen it and I don't know if Jonathan has yet, so I'm going to try very hard not to ruin anything for you guys, my two loyal readers!)

Moon is the story of corporate astronaut Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell), who's been stationed alone on a moonbase for a three-year contract. And as you'd expect, things start getting weird.

What makes Moon stand out is that not only does it have twists in the storyline, the story is not so much about the twists themselves and more about how Sam then has to deal with those twists. It's a movie where things that seem like nitpicks actually have reasons behind them. It's one of those great movies that gives you something to think about afterwards, as things that seemed to not make sense suddenly click into place.

And lastly, on a personal high note for me, is the special effects. While I love how realistic CGI looks these days, one of the things I don't like about it is it moves too fast, and you no longer get time to look at the small details. But in this movie, the moonbase exterior, the lunar rovers, everything about it has that classic model feel. I don't know how much of the effects were models vs CGI; there's very little model work done these days, so either this one actually used models or the CGI was deliberately treated to harken back to those classic days of 2001, Alien and other classics where the wonder wasn't so much in making things go boom but the feel of actually living in an alien environment.

By all means, if you get a chance to see Moon, don't miss it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Star Trek: Vanguard - Open Secrets by Dayton Ward

This is Book 4 of a series set at Starbase 47, aka Vanguard. The series takes place during the same time as the original Star Trek's five-year mission. But Stark Trek: Vanguard is much more than a TOS DS9. For starters, the starbase has a number of starships assigned to it at all times, so you have not only the cast of Starfleet officiers and civilians that work and live at Starbase 47, but the crews of the starships as well.

The thing I really love about series like ST:V is that almost none of the characters are bulletproof. The three exceptions in this case are Dr. M'Benga, who hasn't yet transferred to the Enterprise, T'Prynn, who shows up in later Star Trek: The Lost Era books (although after what was happening to her in this book I was starting to wonder if I had my timeline mixed up), and Admiral Nogura.

Admiral Nogura's previous Star Trek history is only as a reference in Star Trek: The Motion Picture; he's obviously Admiral Kirk's superior, and obviously a tough leader, but that's all we know. Here we get to see that legend built as he takes command of Starbase 47.

Vanguard continues to be full of surprises and big changes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I finally got to watch this, and I have to say, it's much better than I expected. When I had heard that the theme of the movie had been switched from mankind's capacity for nuclear annihilation to mankind's destroying the Earth through global warming, I didn't think it would work. But it did, and it felt really natural. Klaatu's line that"If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life" totally tied it all together for me.

And I really liked that the "Earth Stood Still" moment comes at the end with no resolution. Yes, it throws mankind back to the bronze age, but it also gives us another chance to get it right this time.

And I did hear the "Klaatu Barada Nikto." It comes right after Klaatu has been shot and Gort starts to attack the army. And, just like in the original, it's the command for Gort to stand down. It was so distorted and mechanical sounding that the only part I made out for sure was "Klaat...Nikto," so I had to rewind it and put on the subtitles to make sure I was right; had I been in the theater, I wouldn't have been positive.

My only real complaint is that Klaatu didn't get to address the UN and make his speech, like he did at the end of the original. I suppose Jennifer Connelly, Micah, and John Cleese will get to relay his message to the world later, but it would have been better for mankind if they had heard from Klaatu themselves why they came so close to extinction.

Overall, I think I still prefer the orignal, but this was an enjoyable enough remake.

Fer's Summer Movie Wrap-Up, Part 1

You know, when I first started this post back on May 22, I thought that with the exception of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen I was done with my movie-watching for the summer. But I still haven't seen Up, which is bugging me more and more, and I really want to see Bruno, and I just discovered the incredible website world of District 9 at www.d-9.com. So that's at least four more movies that have become "must-see" movies for me this summer. So instead of being the complete wrap-up, this has become Part 1.

So without further ado, here's my reviews:

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS

Okay, technically this is a Spring movie, but I saw it the week before Wolverine, and I've been wanting to mention it, so it counts.

In short: I expected to enjoy this movie. I did not expect to LOVE this movie as much as I did! Sure, I could tell the characters were going to be funny, but I didn't expect to have so many cool monster battles that actually felt like they come out of a Japanese Godzilla movie! They even go so far as to make the giant bug guy a direct tribute to Mothra. Plus, this is the first movie I've seen using the new 3D technique, and I can't believe how good it is. (It made me want to go see Battle for Terra, but that barely played a week, and it was a very busy and trouble-filled week for me. Ah well.)


X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

Now, I will confess I have read very little X-Men since the 1980's, back when Wolverine still had no idea what his history was. Rich has kept me up to date with some of the details from the "Origins" comic, so I had a general idea.

And, knowing the general ideas, I was very satisfied. I have no problem with the adamantium bullet scrambling Wolverine's memories, although I will agree with Rich that it was a bit much for the General to assume that was what would happen. And I thought that Deadpool getting Cyclops power was a bit much. But other than that, it all worked great for me.

Speaking of Deadpool, his part in the beginning I absolutely LOVED. I can see why people like this character so much, and I'm glad there are plans to do more with him.

STAR TREK (2009)

Well now. I really wished I'd blogged about this at the time when it was all fresh in my mind. But the bottom line is: Damn near perfect.

I say "near" because when I first walked out of the theater, the way that the super nova was used really, really bugged me as poor science. Okay, either Romulus's sun itself went nova, in which case it would have destroyed Romulus right away and the Red Matter wouldn't have helped anyway, or a different star went nova, in which case it wouldn't reach Romulus and not been a threat. And a super nova will always reach a limit, so it can't be a "threat to the entire galaxy." That's Astronomy 101, and hearing such mangled astronomy come out of Leonard Nimoy's mouth is even more painful.

But the "Star Trek: Countdown" comic, which shows all of those events as they happened in the "prime" universe, explains this away with one simple line of dialogue: This is something new, a super nova that doesn't burn out or collapse back in itself, but actually grows stronger with everything it consumes. As such it could stretch to other stars, causing them to go nova as well, fueling itself even more. Now that is a threat to the entire galaxy. It fits, it makes sense. I realize this movie wanted to get away from the technobabble (and thankfully so), but it shouldn't be at the sacrifice of basic astronomy.

So, when I rewatched it the second and third time, I had the comic's apologist explanation in my head and I was very, very happy.

The whole alternate universe approach was the perfect way to handle this movie. It opens it up to being anything they want it to be, makes history start anew (well, except for "Star Trek: Enterprise," anyway) yet still preserves our original timeline. And it was a damn enjoyable story to boot. Zachary Quinto is probably the best non-Nimoy Spock I've ever seen, and Karl Urban was FANTASTIC-- he really made me feel like I was watching a young McCoy. The rest of the cast were fine, and I could accept them as new versions.

It's kind of funny, Rich and I kept telling ourselves this was "Ultimate Trek" so we wouldn't get hung-up on nitpicky continuity issues. Not only where we righter that we realized, it was practically "Crisis on Ultimate Trek!"


TERMINATOR SALVATION

Again, for the most part I found it very enjoyable. There were some stretches of disbelief (open heart surgery in the middle of the desert? Skynet can track the noise of a radio playing but can't tell when the resistance is bombing the hell out of their lawn?) but any inconsisitancies with other Terminator stories I could just shrug off to the timelines constantly shifting. But I've only seen each Terminator movie once (I may have seen T2 more than once, but I don't really remember). Just call me the Lowest Common Denominator on this one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fer's Easter Basket of Fandom Goodness

DOCTOR WHO: PLANET OF THE DEAD - Really cool!

RED DWARF: BACK TO EARTH - Really smegging cool!!

FARSCAPE (4-issue comic book mini-series) - Really frelling cool!!

TRINITY issues 20-45: WOW, was that cool! This is what Final Crisis should have been.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES Season Finale - Hmm. That was pretty cool. I hope that's not how it ends.

...more if I get the time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I *SO* Cannot Wait for This to Come Out.

My daughter is a HUGE Monopoly fan. Monopoly helped teach her to count and do math. In fact, we were just playing the "Planet Earth" edition that Danielle so generously bought for her.

I'd seen the solicitation for this upcoming Star Trek "Continuum Edition" in Previews last month, but there were no pictures available, so I didn't know for sure what it covered. I've passed on the previous Star trek Monopoly sets, partially because Mylene hadn't been born yet so we didn't play Monopoly all the time, and partially because I wanted a set that wasn't just TOS and TNG. Well, this one goes all the way, baby. Classic Trek, Next Generation , Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise... they're all here. I can't wait. (Mylene, on the other hand, isn't quite as excited about it as I am.)

More details are available at the manufacturer USAopoly's site. All I can say is... get ready for game night, gang!

Battlestar Galactica - "Daybreak"

Well, MAJOR FRAKKIN' SPOILERS, obviously. (Oh, and what's up with that KFC "Can't Say Fr*k On TV" promotion? They can't say frak in a commercial but they can in a TV show? Has it really crossed over into the mainstream so much that it's now considered a real curse word? Do teachers have to punish their students if the say frak in school? And here I used to get beat up in school because I used to say "frak" and it just made me look geeky. Timing is everything. But I digress.)

This is a slightly expanded version of the post that I left on Darth Mojo's blog. For those of you who don't know, Mojo works on the CGI effects for Galactica.

I loved it all. That final battle was breathtaking. I literally got off my seat and started watching it on the floor to get a better view.

And I found the ending to be very satisfying. The discovery that the Earth we saw before was not our Earth answered any leftover questions I had about that. Part of me can't help but compare it to the Golganfrinchams in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but what Douglas Adams did in jest they pulled off here with a wonderfully serious tone.

The only thing I felt wasn’t explained was how Kara was “the harbinger of death and will lead humanity to its destruction.” She did lead humanity to it’s end… but that was more of finding them a home than their destruction. Am I missing the angle I should be interpreting this? Anyone help me out here?

There's been a lot of griping about the "angel" aspect to the visionary versions of Baltar, Six and of course now Starbuck. I don't have a problem with it, but I don't think they were "angels" in the sense that they lived in Heaven with God. Only Baltar called them angels, and even he said "God, Gods, Angels, a higher intelligence, call it what you want." The “angel” Baltar also said “You know he doesn’t like it when you call him [God].”

No, I think Rich had it right all along-- they were this show's equivalent of the Crystal Barge.

Just as in the original show the Crystal Barge brought Apollo back from the dead, in this version they brought Starbuck back from the dead. Only in this case they brought her back as one of them, and her pristine Viper was the equivilant of her white uniform. Baltar seeing his own private Six and Caprica Six seeing her own private Gaius Baltar was to the new show what Apollo seeing his own private John was to the old show. Not really God, not really Angels… just another form of life that’s a higher intelligence. And It Has A Plan. ;)

It almost makes me want to go back and rewatch this show from the beginning, knowing what I know now.

...Almost. Maybe in a few years.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Smallville - "Infamous"

I'm watching this episode and pausing it to make lunch. I've decided to blog my feelings on it as I go. All times are as marked by my DVR, which includes commercials.

30 seconds in: Hey, no visual or audio clip when referring to Lana! She must not be in this episode. Whew.

2 Minutes in: Ah, an old villain returns threatening to expose Clark's Secret. Yawn.

6 minutes in: Wait a minute... Clark's talking sense. Exposing himself before someone else does. Stepping up to the plate! But he'll never become Superman in this show, so what are they getting at...?

15 minutes in: OMG, he actually outed himself to Lois. Okay, either she's being brought into the fold, or she's going to have amnesia by the end of the episode.

17 minutes in: Wow! This makes sense for Smallville! No flights, no tights, but in this version, everyone knows he's Superman! Sure, he may never have the name, but it's time for him to go public, and since he's never tried to wear glasses for more than one episode, that's not going to work anyway.... just have it all out in the open!

18 minutes in: Wait a minute. Is this a dream sequence? The newspaper stand man was believable, but the little kid dressing like Clark is a bit much. This can't be real...

19 minutes in: Ah, Chloe doesn't remember the stuff she did as Brainiac, including unlocking Davis's Doomsday side, so they're having yet another one of those "Oh, you're talking about this but I think we're talking about that because I have no memory" conversations. Man, this show should be used as a public service announcement for Alzheimers. But wait a minute, Clark wouldn't know about this conversation, so he couldn't dream it. Maybe the time line will get altered?

24 minutes in: Now the angst comes in. Clark's had to come to terms with the fact that he can't save everybody before, but now that the people are saying "Why couldn't you save so-and-so?" we get a fresh wave of guilt. For what would Smallville be without angst and guilt? (Hmm, I guess it would be "Lois & Clark.")

I'm done with my pizza but still hungry. I think I'll make a sandwich.

30 minutes in: Further indication that the timeline's going to get changed: Clark's house is getting shot up. However, at least he's seeing what I always thought-- he was always so worried that TPTB would stick him in a lab somewhere if the ever found out about his abilities, but I would yell back at the screen, "How are they gonna CATCH you first? You're freakin' SUPERMAN!" And by the way, Clark didn't tell people that Krypton exploded and that he's the only survivor? I hope they explain why he held that little piece of info back...

Done with my sandwich, but still don't feel full. Dessert, maybe?

31 minutes in: Clark's now a fugitive? A statewide curfew?!? Oh, come on! Here's where it all goes sour, and I bet Clark will run off to the Fortress of Solitude to ask Jor-El to change time again.

30 minutes, 55 seconds in: Okay, so it's the Legion Flight Ring and not Jor-El. I still called it back at 19 minutes.

35 minutes in: "The world isn't ready to accept someone like me." Ugh! Bastards.

I found a chilled Smores Pop-Tart in the back of the fridge, it seems to have done the trick.

42 minutes in: Ahh, Linda Lake has the Legion Flight Ring. Man, it would be so cool if the ring gets destroyed in the fight that's sure to come, and Clark has to deal with everything... we could spend the next few episodes with Clark going to court to prove he didn't kill Lex, see the people of Metropolis be split between those who rally behind him and those who are afraid of him, watch this blooming relationship with Lois really mature... this could be a real turning point for the series!

47 minutes in: BASTARDS!! Those stupid muther-^%*&%ing (%%^(*%-sucking god-damn BASTARDS!! Gawd, not only do they erase the best possible turning point this show has ever had, they (1) have to make sure it's done so that Clark prevents himself from learning about Doomsday, and (2) WHY THE HELL DIDN'T CLARK JUST RELEASE HIS STORY ABOUT LINDA LAKE'S MURDERS AND DISCREDIT HER IN THE REGULAR TIMELINE?!? GOD, HE IS SUCH A FUCKING WUSS!! WHY DO I WATCH THIS SHOW?!? AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!

59 minutes in: Ugh.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh Boy! Toys!

I don't feel like reviewing TV shows this week.

I found some cool toys on Monday. I found a Spider-Man from Hasbro's new Marvel Universe line, and an X-Men Origins: Wolverine "Comic Series" figure of Wolvie as he looked back when I read the X-Men. Now normally I'd pass on Marvel super hero action figures, but these are in my favorite scale - 3 3/4."


Spidey takes out his frustrations on one of those pesky Jawas.



I was already thrilled about Mattel's DC Infinite Heroes action figures. My favorite scale, and doing characters like Black Adam, Adam Strange and Guy Gardner right off the bat! I became a little less thrilled at the generic sculpting and poor articulation, but they were two bucks cheaper than my Star Wars figures so I was willing to accept the trade off. But now, I can't find anything after the first wave, even though they've been all over the internet for months. Not very encouraging for me to build the entire DCU.

So the idea of being able to build the entire MU to go along with it is a little bittersweet now, because I suspect I'll never get to complete my Justice League to stand toe-to-toe with my Avengers. I even considered not buying them after all... until I found one.


A Stormtrooper is distracted from his duties by Starfire's boobies.


These figures are nice. Hasbro's been doing a great job with the Star Wars figures over the last few years, and Steve tells me they've been doing just as good with the GI Joe figures. Well, they've applied it all to the Marvel Universe line. Fantastic detailing, individualized sculpting (no cheap-out sculpting here, unlike the DCU line) and tons of articulation.




Wolverine's got his quarters down and Green Lantern Hal Jordan waits
for Grand Admiral Thrawn to stop hogging the Pac-Man machine.

So I'm hooked. I really hope I'll still be able to build the DCU with it, but even if I don't, I'm such a sucker for the 3 3/4" scale and they've done such a good job with these figures that I can't bring myself to pass them up.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Big Goodbye"

I remember this as being one of the best episodes of the first season at the time. In rewatching it, it's still good, but it's amazing how 21 seasons of Next-Gen era stories can change your perspective.

Picard is completely amazed at how realistic and detailed the holodeck is. At the time, we were seeing it for the first time as well, so we relate to his enthusiasm. Nowadays, it's just the holodeck. Of course it can do all these things, what's the big deal?

There is a line of dialogue where Dr. Crusher says to Picard that the new upgrades to the holodeck are complete, so he should go try them out. So presumably holodecks just weren't this advanced before, and the holodeck as we saw it in "Code of Honor" would seem to back this up. As long as we don't have a prequel show to TNG, it should hold up.

The other interesting thing is how, once the holodeck characters discover they are simply holodeck characters, they begin to wonder about their existence. It sets things up nicely for the EMH Doctor on Voyager.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "The Hidden Enemy"

This was a great episode, that raised some interesting points. One of the clones in the group is a traitor. What could make a Clone Trooper turn against his own? The answer is a great one-- he feels the clones are nothing more than slaves of the Republic. And really, he's right. Do the clones get asked to serve? No, they're pre-programmed to when they're being created. If a clone wants to leave the service, is he allowed? I hope they do more to follow up on this particular point of view, because it raises some great points that haven't been addressed before in any of the Clone Wars media I've seen. (Granted, I haven't read any Clone Wars era books yet.)

The only thing I didn't like is that when he's caught, Rex and Cody are asking him how he could justify actions that endangered his fellow clones. They weren't just endangered-- we saw a bunch of them get killed. They double standard of how we can show characters getting killed but we can't acknowledge it in dialogue has always annoyed me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Pink Panther 2

I enjoyed this a lot. Steve Martin is still doing a good job carrying on the Clouseau legacy (at least in my book), and he's still funny in this one. John Cleese also gets a few totally killer lines. (I asked Mylene if she recognized the Monty Python guy in it, and she said she didn't, but once she knew there was one he was her guess.)

Oh, and to anyone else who might be worried because of the kids in the commercials... don't be. There is little to no sap. Well, with the kids anyway.

I figured out the plot of who was behind it all fairly early on and without even trying, but plot twists aren't what I watch Clouseau movies for... it's for the character and to laugh, and in that regard this one delivers just fine.

Dollhouse - "Ghost"

I've decided to give Dollhouse a try based on the strength of Firefly. So far I'm definitely intrigued by the first episode. What did Echo do that lead her here? They talk about five years of service... is her memory stored somewhere, to be re-implanted in her when her time is done, or is it gone forever, and she leaves with a new memory? Are the new experiences of each personality stored when they're removed in case they're needed again?

I'll definitely stick around for a while.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles - "The Good Wound"

I'm starting to find John Henry to be the most interesting character. Which is not to say that I find the others bland, so much as I find him the most intriguing. And in light of the recent revelations on Galactica, I can't help but wonder if Ellison's attempt to bring a sense of morality to him will spectacularly backfire.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Battlestar Galactica - "No Exit"

Fan-frakkin'-tastic!! Some good, solid answers. There are still plenty of questions, and in some cases these answers raise even more questions, but this is exactly what I was hoping for.

Among my new questions: Anders says "Organic memory transfer came from Kobol along with the 13th tribe." Does this mean that the Cylons were created not on the Colonies, but on Kobol?

So far this has been the show's strongest season for me; I just hope the ending holds up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Final Crisis vs. Secret Invasion

I'm not planning on talking about comics much, but in the process of working down my comic backlog, I've just finished reading both DC's Final Crisis and Marvel's Secret Invasion, so I feel compelled to compare the two.

Now, to get my bias out right away, I am a much bigger DC fan than Marvel fan. I loved Marvel Comics when I was a teenager (way back when they decided to expand their popular X-Men comic with a new spin-off called The New Mutants, to give you a timeframe). But one by one I lost interest in my Marvel titles, and when I did get drawn back into super hero comics years later it was with the Death of Superman storyline, and I found I really enjoyed the new DC Universe. I still read Marvel books, but ever since then Marvel's been firmly in second place.

So I guess it's going to be pretty obvious that for me, the run-away winner in the battle between 2008's Mega-Crossovers is... Marvel's SECRET INVASION!

I found DC's Final Crisis to be a confusing mess. The first issue and a half felt like completely unconnected scenes, and I couldn't figure out what it was trying to tell me. And what the heck was up with killing the Martian Manhunter in one panel?!? Rich tells me that Grant Morrison was going for something different, showing that these bad guys were so nasty they could kill a major hero like Martian Manhunter like he was a redshirt. Sorry, but that wasn't what I got out of it. I'm all for new and innovative ways of storytelling, and I'm certainly willing to think and try to piece things together, but I guess this one was just beyond me. Maybe I'm just not intellectual enough. (Oh, look! Knight Rider's on!)

The story started to coalesce by the end of issue 2, but I still felt it was moving slowly. Issues 3 and 4 were more coherant, but not exactly exciting me, and I usually enjoy the New Gods. Issues 5 and 6, when the Anti-Life equation is unleashed, I really enjoyed, but even then I felt like I was missing important parts. (Wait a minute, who's under their control and who isn't? Is that the real Wonder Woman?) And Batman went out in style. Then came issue 7, and I was again left thinking, WTF? And the spin-offs that I've read (Rage of the Red Lanterns, Superman Beyond 3D and Legion of Three Worlds) don't seem to connect with the whole New Gods and building of the Fifth World at all-- the only connection seems to be in the Final Crisis brand name. So overall, I didn't really enjoy it.

Secret Invasion, on the other hand, I loved from beginning to end. It was a fast moving story that felt strongly connected and coherant, and presented a crisis (pardon the word) that shook the entire Marvel Universe. I felt like I was getting the core story in the main comic, without missing a thing, but then I'd see how it affected the entire world in any other Marvel comics I read (particularly She-Hulk). Anytime I felt there were characters I didn't really know, I felt I was given enough backstory in context that I didn't feel lost. Brian Michael Bendis is known for his slow pacing, and I think that the conversation between Jarvis and SHIELD on the deck of the helicarrier didn't need to take three issues, but other than that I felt like I was getting a story. A big-ass story, at that.

As for impact... Final Crisis killed Batman and Martian Manhunter. Secret Invasion killed the Wasp and a bunch of low-tier heroes, most of which I've never heard of anyway. Now I expect all of those main characters to come back (I give Batman 12-18 months, the Wasp 3-5 years, and Martian Manhunter 5-10 years) but it's still a pretty big deal. On the whole, though, even though he got a good death scene, I feel Batman deserves to go out on a better story.

Oh yeah, and we got Barry Allen back. Well, I suppose that will make the old school Flash fans happy. Personally I never really got into the Flash, so all it is to me is another reversal. See above predictions. ;)

I still buy three times as many DC books than Marvel books, and I don't expect that to change any time soon. Still... you know what Marvel's been saying: Embrace Change...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Tresspass"

Another strong episode, this time showing the race of that one furry four-eyed critter from the cantina. This show is really excelling at taking things that previously only been talked about in print and making them real parts of the visual Star Wars universe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Haven"

In my mind I had always associated this title with the planet that was ruled by women, but it turns out it wasn't that at all. It's the episode where we first meet Lwaxana Troi. The planet Haven itself actually has very little to do with it.

Some great moments between Lwaxana and Picard, of course, and they really stand out as one of the better parts of this episode.

Deanna keeps calling Riker "Bill" in this episode, but production wise it is the fifth episode made, so I guess it's understandable.

I have to wonder if the plague ship is a leftover from the original "Blood and Fire" story concept?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Knight Rider - "Exit Light, Enter Knight"

Pros:
* Zoe is now on the credits
* The plot had quite a few twists

Cons:
* The Foundation seems to consist of four people: Mike, Sarah, Billy and Zoe. Five if you count KITT.
* Overall the episode didn't really thrill me, but that could be because the last three episodes were so intense.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Star Trek: A Singular Destiny by Keith R. A. DeCandido


I don't think there's any writer out there, past or present, who has ever had such a complete and total grasp of the Star Trek Universe as Keith R. A. DeCandido (aka KRAD). I used to be amazed at how well he tied all five TV shows together; with this book, he ties in damn near the entire "Expanded Universe" of Star Trek fiction. Which is saying a lot, because it's nowhere near as nice and tidy as the Star Wars EU.

The book itself deals with the fallout from the massive Borg invasion told in last year's Star Trek: Destiny trilogy. All the major powers are trying to rebuild, and the question becomes whether or not they will become isolationist as they tend to their own problems, or if they can still stand together. And of course there are always those who use chaos as their chance to prey on others for their own benefit.

The way this book tells the story is mostly through the eyes of Sonek Pran, a man who's father was half-human and half-betazoid, and his mother was half-vulcan and half-bajoran. So he's a Bajoran/Betazoid/Human/Vulcan. He's also based on Arlo Guthrie, which inspired me to photoshop this picture of him:

You should be able to click on it to view it larger and see more of the details... he's got Betazoid eyes, a Bajoran nose and Vulcan ears.

Anyway, he's a great character, but he's only one part of the story; other parts are told from all over the Star Trek universe, from the Klingon High Council to the Federation President to Captain Dax on the USS Aventine. Between each chapter is a glimpse at a public or private record from somewhere else in the quadrant, which help to drive home the extent of the damage of the Borg invasion. And there are still quite a few more shockers in there.

And as if that wasn't enough, the story is full of easter eggs, side references and inclusions that eagle-eyed fans may or may not catch. The only one I'm going to blurt out here was the inclusion of the Elisiar, an Edoan musical instrument that was only ever previously used in the old Power Records Star Trek Book & Record set in the 1970s! It was the first Star Trek Book & Record I ever got, and I loved that thing. I played it into the ground. So it just blew my mind to see it included here.

If you haven't read the six-book Borg saga but want to jump into the new novels that will reflect how it's changed the face of Star Trek literature, this is a great jumping-on point. If you've already read the Destiny Trilogy then it's even more amazing. All in all, this is just one damn fantastic book.

Battlestar Galactica - "Blood on the Scales"

A fitting conclusion that kept the drama from Part 1 running high all the way to the end. Once again, no let downs here.

You can see Gaeta's need to have everything done the "right" way, such as having a trial for Adama. But he's obviously in over his head and hasn't realized what he's gotten in to with Zerek.

It can be said that Zerek took that usual Galactica path of making all the wrong choices, but in this case it fits his character. He believed in violent revolution right from the start.

I have to wonder if Gaeta and Zerek got trials.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grease

Mylene had on High School Musical 2 for the umpteenth time, and even she was getting bored with it this time, so Joy piped up and said "Hey, let's put on Grease!"

Now the first thing to cross my mind was "Gee, that might be a little too raunchy for Mylene," but then it hit me that I was exactly Mylene's age when it came out, and most of the sexual innuendo went right over my head. Plus, Joy doesn't actually want to watch a movie very often. There are about 3 or 4 movies that she ever wants to watch from time to time, and Grease is one of them. So, I popped open the shrink-wrap on the DVD copy of it that Dave and/or Rich gave her several Christmases ago, and we put it on.

Mylene was actually pretty bored with it, although she did always watch the musical numbers. She was more appalled that so many of these high school kids were smoking!

As for the moral at the end, where sweet Sandy decides to slut it up to get her man, I was more aware of the scene immediately before it this time, when Danny shows up in his letterman's sweater and, for the first time, stands up to his friends and tells them "Sandy is important to me and I'm going to do whatever it takes for her."

"So it's really more of a tale of them meeting each other halfway," I said to Joy and Mylene.

"Except he threw the sweater away as soon as he saw the new Sandy," Joy pointed out.

"True," I grudgingly admitted. "Well, okay, this story has a moral to it, but it's a bad moral," I said to Mylene.

Mylene agreed. So I guess we're doing something right.