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"

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

* 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


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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Smallville - "Requiem"

Well, this episode is everything I hate about Smallville. Lots of lying and secrets and friends not trusting each other, and lots of Clark and Lana being on-again off-again. Lana's already fulfilled her role as Clark's teenage romance; it's time for him to move past her and on to the true love of his life, Lois Lane. Which he was doing just fine until Lana came back. She really screws this show up. I hope this means they're finally done for good.

I really liked the way they handled the Toymaker Toyman. He used his gimmick well and was quite creepy.

I also thought they had a very creative way of bringing Lex back without using Michael Rosenbaum. I'm surprised they went as far to say that the remains were positively identified. Are they really considering Lex dead and gone? It would be a major step creatively if they did, but this show has such a problem with not going back to status quo that I have a hard time accepting that this is truly the last we've seen of Lex Luthor.

Knight Rider - "Knight to King's Pawn"

Well, that was some major changes. Torres is dead too?!? I'm surprised there was even a body left after the way KITT smashed through KARR's cockpit like that.

I had read they wanted to bring the show back to its roots in an attempt to boost ratings, and I have to grudgingly admit that I think they handled the change pretty well. They've brought back the Foundation (I still have no idea what "SSC" stood for), and even acknowledged Wilton Knight in the process. Which I'm surprised about; I assumed he had been retconned out in the reboot.

Of course, now I'm confused as to if it is a reboot anymore... so now it turns out that Mike Knight was KARR's original driver, which would explain why Charles Graiman contacted him in the TV movie when someone tried to take KITT. But does this mean that they tried to fix the original KARR or they started the project over with a new KARR? I have a hard time reconciling this show's backstory with the TV movie that launched it, and I'm not sure even the producers know what continuity they want to use.

Ah well. Back to the Knight Rider 2008 mantra: Just look at how hot Zoe is and try not to think about it.

KARR himself is of course very cool. I immediately recognized Peter Cullen (aka Optimus Prime) as his voice, and as I strained my memory banks I seemed to recall the original KARR having a similar voice. So I checked online and sure enough, he was the original KARR, so he is in fact reprising his role here. And now that the new KARR actually transforms into a giant, weapon-firing robot, having Optimus Prime's voice is even more cool.

We'll see how well the new direction works. I was enjoying the old direction just fine, I just wish it had a few more ties to the original show. Based on their bringing back FLAG and acknowledging Wilton Knight, maybe they'll start doing that now.

And lastly, this was a pretty good title for the episode, since Torres was using everyone to reinstate the KARR project. I haven't quite got what they were going for with most of the titles for this show, but this one worked really well.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars "Defenders of Peace"

Some good ethical questions on nonviolence, without painting the pacifists as weak. I had to admire the Lurman leader, who was willing to die rather than resort to violence.

Not to mention GEORGE TAKEI! [<-- read that in a deep, low voice to get the full effect.] Is this the first time we've had a Trek actor appear in Star Wars?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Hide and Q"

...Wherein instant power corrupts Riker instantly, Worf says Klingon ways are now alien to him, and Q promises never to bother humanity again.

Well, maybe I'm being a little harsh with poor Riker-- there is the definite implication that his being given Q powers was affecting his mind. But it's such an instantaneous change, from being able to resist the powers one minute to being a pompous idiot the next, that it's hard to relate to. Picard's agreement with Riker that he was acting like a fool when he comes out of it is priceless, because it feels like he's speaking for the audience as well.

Worf's little Public Display of par'Mach is interesting, because on the one hand it does set the tone for his later courting by Jadzia on DS9. On the other hand his saying he's not interested in it because "she is from a world that is now alien to me" feels like something Worf would never admit to, as his Klingon heritage has always come first in his life. But seeing as this is still a very early episode, I can forgive the writers for not quite knowing what Worf's situation is yet.

John DeLancie's portrayal of Q has never before or since felt more like Trelane from "Squire of Gothos" than in this episode.

And lastly, the best scene in the episode has to be when Picard and Q use to Shakespeare to sum up humanity, both pro and con. Stewart's "and what [Hamlet] might say with irony, I say with conviction" speech is just fantastic. What a scene.

Almost makes me want to read some Shakespeare. Eh... maybe I'll watch another episode of Knight Rider instead.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Knight Rider - "Day Turns Into Knight"

Awww, man. And I was just saying how much I liked Dr. Graiman too. Bruce Davison just had this pleasant charm about him, he really made him a likable character. And he made robots! That's always a plus.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Knight Rider - "Don't Stop the Knight"

I finished folding all my socks today.

Oh look! Revised opening titles! With KARR in it, too! But wait, we've got Billy but no Zoe. Why no Zoe? I like Zoe. She's hot.

The episode itself was actually pretty fun, until Mike dropped the ball at the end and got himself into a Speed movie. A very good example on why you never give in to terrorists. You would think an anti-terrorist organization like the SSC would know that, but hey, without that there's no plot.

Carrie got blown up? I've heard there are cast changes afoot... poor Carrie. They really didn't give her a chance to do anything since this went to series. In the TV movie she was a kick-ass womanizer. In the TV series she's pretty much just been the one who slaps the cuffs on the bad guy when it's all over. I'm not surprised they're not keeping her, but I didn't expect them to kill her off.

And someone else is gonna die next episode? ...Have I mentioned that I think Zoe's the hot one, so I really don't want her to die? (Or Dr. Graiman. I really like him.)

I also notice that the code for having KITT put someone to sleep is Nancy-Bravo-Charlie-Four... which would be NBC-4. Maybe it's code to say that they fear that NBC is going to cancel the show? It might also be a double meaning for the episode title.

Most shocking of all, is it's a 2-parter, and then the following episode is about KARR. And all my laundry is done! Damn. I might have to actually just plain watch the next two episodes!

Battlestar Galactica - "The Oath"

Pretty intense. And unlike most Galactica scenarios, where I feel like the whole thing could be avoided as long as people used common sense, this one feels totally believable. If you believe that the human race's survival is in jeopardy because your leaders are allying with the very people who destroyed the human race, then of course you're going to do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening. Both sides in this fight believe they're doing the only thing they can for the human race's survival.

And just as I said with Stargate Atlantis ending, this show benefits from there only being 8 episodes left. No one is bulletproof. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone dies. (Although they still need to do it in a way that all the answers are finally revealed.)