May 23, 2014
I only have three to talk about — Game of Thrones is still a few episodes out, and I should just do a big ol’ GoT post. And I’m behind on movies, because of all this traveling. I probably won’t get to see X-Men: Days of Future Past until Monday, but I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m planning on seeing Godzilla. At some point, when I’m not running around like a chicken with my head off. (Though the analyses that Godzilla is doing so much better at the box office than Pacific Rim because it has less plot and more dumb are making me sad.)
Anyway (spoilers ahead!):
Castle: I’m so extremely, ridiculously happy they’ve finally wrapped up the whole conspiracy story with Kate’s mom’s murder and all the rest of it because that storyline had become a toll of doom for the episodes that covered it. “Oh, the murder and that senator dude are here? Must be season finale time. Here comes the cliffhanger and characters being stupid!” But they didn’t wrap the season up with that this time. Hooray! And seriously: “Oh, Beckett, the clue to solve your mother’s murder was with you all along! Now click your heels!” That’s just funny.
The result of this quick little wrap up: I immensely enjoyed all the wedding shenanigans of the finale. And I am simultaneously intrigued and amused by the cliffhanger.
Arrow: I haven’t been this excited about a TV show since the second season of Battlestar Galactica. Any one of the last five episodes would have made a splendid season finale cliffhanger. Too many “Holy shit!” moments to count. But no, they gave us an actual season finale, with some stories tied up neatly, and others left hanging, some questions answered (Slade’s eyepatch, explained!), and others introduced. Great, great stuff here. This show is melodrama, for sure, but it’s very well written melodrama. Both over the top and heartfelt. And Felicity. Oh, Felicity. I love her so much.
And the Flash preview: OH. HELL. YES. My summary: Look, we’re a serious CW melodramatic show here. Very serious. Very, very serious–WOOOOHOOOOO SUPERPOWERS WOOOOOO! Which is exactly what a comic book TV show ought to be.
Agents of SHIELD: The show ultimately did the impossible: it finally made me like Skye. “Ward, you’re a Nazi!” “What?! No I’m not!” “Yes, you are totally a Nazi, that’s page one of the Hydra book!” (And that stark look on Ward’s face, where the true implications of his life come crashing down on him, because yes, he is a Nazi.) It’s fascinating to me that Skye seems to be a much better character when she’s earnest and idealistic, than she was when she was scheming and conniving. See, dark & gritty doesn’t always mean better. Some bits of the Hollywood/comics world seem to slowly, slowly be realizing this.
Overall, this was probably my favorite episode of the whole season. Lots of excitement, actual nail-biting, actual shouting at the screen. Best Fury appearance ever, and the best banter ever. “Hey, guys, I found it!” The episode felt like it was written as if they didn’t know they were going to get renewed — it left some questions, but wasn’t a cliffhanger. Much like the Arrow finale. I think this is a fine, fine way to do a season finale. I’m actually looking forward to next season.
And now, I’m off to enjoy this fine Memorial Day weekend. Stay safe, y’all. Excelsior.
May 21, 2014
In my thinking over the TV I’ve been watching, I realized I’d stopped watching Doctor Who — I never watched most of last season, and I don’t think I’m going to. It happens sometimes, a favorite show becomes not-so-favorite — I stopped Battlestar Galactica around season 4 because it stopped making sense, The X-Files around season 6-7, because it lost its focus. I was passionate about those shows, and it’s hard letting go, but sometimes there’s a point where a show becomes a chore rather than a pleasure, and then it’s time to stop.
I realized something else: I think over the last three doctors, Martha may be my favorite companion. Rose was the most fun to watch, Donna had a powerful story, but comparing them all together, I think Martha’s the best, because she’s the only one who maintains agency throughout her run. She’s the only one who doesn’t get — and I don’t think this is too strong a word — violated by the Tardis or time vortex. Rose absorbs the vortex, Donna becomes a conduit then gets her mind wipes, Amy gets knocked up, Rory gets killed how many times, Jack loses his mortality. They’re all fundamentally altered, and in their big climactic stories, they’re victims — they become tools, they become weapons, and they become broken by their time with the Doctor. By the end, they’re all taken away — sucked into other dimensions, memories wiped, lost in time. The Doctor loses them, and they are helpless.
But not Martha. All on her own, with no extra powers, with only her wits and a backpack, she goes out to single-handedly foment rebellion against the Master when the Doctor is incapacitated.
And then, she decides to leave. All on her own, she makes the decision, and she just leaves. She doesn’t get yanked through time and space, she doesn’t lose her home, her experience, her past, her place in time and space. All the other companions of the last three doctors are victims. They sacrifice everything, they lose everything up to their lives — more offerings on the altar of the Doctor’s guilt. But not Martha.
When you line up all the other companions, it becomes clear how special Martha really is, because she stays herself.
May 16, 2014
I’m on the road this week, and blogging sporadically. I went through my photo folders looking for something fun to post and found this:
It’s Season Finale Season, isn’t it? Castle, Arrow, Agents of SHIELD… I’ll have to do a big round up post. Remind me. Oh — and I’ve been watching Game of Thrones and I really ought to say something about that, too. Like, has there been a single episode that didn’t include at least one naked prostitute? You know what I want to do now? Write a story where the main character is a naked prostitute and she’s in charge of absolutely everything. Like, giving orders and stuff. Naked. And people just, you know, obey.
April 30, 2014
I watch Arrow on Mondays, On Demand, as part of the Monday night learn to cook dinner extravaganza. On Demand still has commercials, alas — not as many, and all of them pretty much for the network we’re watching. But they’ve also been showing a lot of “now available on DVD” special sales. For the longest time, all the commercials were for DVD’s of The Carol Burnett Show, The Dean Martin Roast, and China Beach. Weird little time capsules, those commercials.
But a few weeks ago, the commercials changed: we’re now getting ads for DVD’s of The Six Million Dollar Man and the first season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
One of my friends said, “It’s like they finally figured out who actually watches Arrow.“
Meanwhile: Holy sh*t, Arrow! Aaaaaaaarggggghhhh!
(And hey — is the Queen’s Gambit still in a warehouse somewhere or did it get moved/ditched?)
March 7, 2014
It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about what TV I’m watching. Maybe because it hasn’t been changing much. I did enough traveling the last couple of months that it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping up. Thank goodness for all the On Demand and online options! We are spoiled for TV viewing options!
Castle: Still watching! Six seasons in! This is quite a feat. And it’s still the center of my “make dinner for friends/learning to cook” project, which has now been going for about the whole run, which is kind of cool. I really love that it’s turning into a show about two grownups working on their relationship. With cornball mysteries.
I finally watched the Doctor Who Christmas/new doctor thingy. Meh. Matt Smith’s doctor never grew on me. I would like to go back to a Doctor Who where all the women in the show aren’t throwing themselves at him. And then the story was rather unintelligible: the Silence, and the Angels, and the crack in the universe, and…and… This show is in danger of turning into one long inside joke. I’ll give the new Doctor a chance, but he’s really going to have to work to win me over.
Arrow: This one is getting better and better. It’s keeping up with the parts of I love and adding new bits all the time. This is a great show for women characters. It’s also weirdly giving me my GI Joe fix, because I swear, the flashback bits are Cobra Island. Have I explained my “the flashbacks are Cobra Island” theory? Seriously, I explained it to my friends and one of them said, “You’re right! That missile launcher even looks like a toy!”
Agents of SHIELD. A plot entirely built on acronyms. So wildly inconsistent I’m not sure what to think of it. Flashes of brilliance in between stretches of sheer stupidity. (I am a badass sniper…so I will place myself behind a giant truck that gives me zero line of sight…and not move… wut?) So frustrating. And yet, we watch for the easter eggs.
And…am I watching anything else? Sleepy Hollow, which is still lots of fun but would be even better if they could decide on one back story and stick to it. But I think that may be it. Oh! Face Off, what are we on, season 6? I have no opinions this season. Oh, and the next season of Justified has started! I’ll probably wait to mainline the whole thing at once.
There’s a lot of TV I ought to be watching, apparently. I seem to be watching NONE of the shows that everyone is talking about. And you know what? I’m okay with that. It’s like with books — never let anyone make you feel guilty for what you read, or what you haven’t read. Same with TV. Life is short.
December 30, 2013
When I’m brain-fried and don’t want to think about anything, I often watch the History Channel, or H2, or some other “documentary” channel. H2 has been running a new show, “Big History,” that I like mostly because it runs in direct opposition to “Ancient Aliens,” which is so outrageously ridiculous I can’t even articulate. Here’s an example:
“Ancient Aliens:” Why did ancient people all over the world build pyramids? It was aliens! They all had help from Ancient Aliens who came and showed them all about pyramids because ancient humans were too stupid to do anything on their own but drool!
“Big History:” Actually, it was gravity. It turns out pyramids are really stable and don’t fall down, which ancient peoples would have known by looking at…hills.
Another conspiracy-minded “aliens did everything, if it wasn’t the Masons who did it first” show is “America Unearthed,” which is, much like “Ancient Aliens,” ridiculous from front to back. (Ancient Egyptians settled in the Grand Canyon!) But they did do an episode on the secret underground tunnels and secret messages in the artwork of Denver International Airport. It turned out to be fabulous, because the sensationalist host got a nice woman from the PR department at DIA to give him a tour of the airport, including the tunnels, and explain the symbolism in the artwork and all that. “There’s a Masonic capstone here because the Masons place capstones at thousands of public buildings all over the US. You know that, right?” she patiently explained.
By the end the sensationalist host flat-out said, “Yeah, there’s nothing at DIA. The tunnels are just tunnels and the artwork is just artwork.” No equivocation at all. First time I’ve ever seen that on a show like this. It was awesome.
November 27, 2013
I’m watching more TV right now than I have in a long while. Some interesting stuff going on.
Doctor Who, “Day of the Doctor.” The 50th anniversary special was…nice. I cried once (“This time you don’t have to do it alone.”). But Moffat’s gotten so wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey he just can’t resist retconning the whole damn universe, can he? And now we get to argue about the Doctor numbering we’ve been using since 2005. It just makes me so tired.
I still haven’t caught up on most of last season, and I don’t really care. Clara seems to be even more Amy Pond than Amy Pond, and I just can’t do it. You know what I want to see? An alien companion, or a companion from a different time period. Something new. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what the new doctor will do with the whole thing, and if they build at all on what happened in the special.
Sleepy Hollow: I adore the characters, the secret history, the setting. But this “must have a shocking revelation every episode ” is starting to wear thin. The back story is about to collapse under its own weight.
Agents of SHIELD is growing on me. The episodes are starting to come together, and the characters are starting to gel. I still have some WTF moments: they don’t believe in telekenesis? Inter dimensional portals and Asgardians are fine, but they draw the line at believing in teke? Paging Dr. Grey…
Arrow is still my favorite show. I’m enjoying it so darned much. It’s managing its off-the-rails storylines, shocking revelations, and continuity very well indeed. And I still love that these characters all really love each other and look out for each other. Moire and Thea and their relationship are fantastic this season.
Castle: Still good! I keep waiting for it to jump the shark and it gets close but then doesn’t!
Almost Human: I caught the first couple of episodes, and oh dear, it’s trying so hard, isn’t it? Dorian is great. But the science word salad expository bits are driving me bonkers. Also, why didn’t anyone tell me Lili Taylor was in it? Yay, Lili Taylor! And maybe someday, we’ll get a near future something that doesn’t try so hard to be Blade Runner. In light of all the other good shows I can be watching, I may not stick with it.
Atlantis: This is a thing that BBC American was pushing hard, that premiered after “Day of the Doctor.” At first I was really excited because it looked like it was going to be Farscape but with Greek mythology (supersquee!). But it was all very meh. Full of Gen Y hotties and not much else. I’d rather watch Tom Mison, Karl Urban, and Nathan Fillion, thanks.
October 25, 2013
How about that Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer? Yeah, I’ll just be watching that a couple more times today.
Agents of SHIELD is still stumbling along. I really liked that bionic eye episode — good story there. My favorite thing is the relationship between May and Coulson and how she’s trying to protect him without looking like she’s protecting him, because she knows something’s wrong. But gosh, the rest of the cast, the rest of everything — still entirely milquetoast. So much potential, but the show can’t seem to bring itself to push beyond adequate.
Then I watched Sleepy Hollow because of all the buzz it was getting. And I was shocked, because I really like it. Interesting characters, different characters, Clancy Brown, cute scruffy men in period clothing, clever secret histories, actual horror (I think it was the second episode with the witch? Actually scary!). It’s another urban fantasy TV series and it’s doing things right. I’m engaged. Did I mention cute men in period clothing — speaking Middle English? (A for effort on including spoken Middle English in a prime-time TV show — especially not calling it “Old English,” which is actually Anglo Saxon. B minus for accuracy, since there were multiple distinct dialects of Middle English — none of which were spoken in 1590, when the community ostensibly existed, and which was well into the Early Modern period and would have been mostly understandable to modern English speakers. But hey, Middle English on prime time TV!) iO9 talks about how to make ridiculous stories great, in reference to Sleepy Hollow.
The time traveler episode of Castle was about my favorite episode in a long time. Arrow has also started up again, and I’m loving it as much as ever. Favorite quote so far: “Mom, will they shoot us if I try to hug you?”
I’ve finally started mainlining the third season of Lexx. Still loving it, especially because the “Fire and Water” storyline is so very steampunk. Actual airship pirates!
What I’m reading: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Of all the YA books I read last year when I was on the Norton Award jury, many were “Book 1″ in a new series. The only “Book 1″ I read where I had any inclination to pick up the sequel was Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, which is one of the best examples of a multiple p.o.v. ensemble cast of characters I’ve ever read. I could learn, reading that book. After reading a bunch of non-fiction and slogging my way through several problematic novels, I really wanted to read something I could dive into and swim around in and play. The Dream Thieves is it. This time, I’m loving the language. She can really put a sentence together. Deep happy sigh.
I’m saving Iain M. Banks’ The Hydrogen Sonata for my vacation in a couple of weeks.
And that’s what’s on my mind lately.
October 2, 2013
Update! Forgot to mention: my friend EM Tippetts is giving away a signed copy of After the Golden Age. Woot!
A couple of anthologies are out now with stories of mine, that may be of interest:
Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre ed. by Paula Guran has a brand-new story by me, “Unternehmen Werwolf.” If you’re a long-time fan of the Kitty series, you might recognize the main character.
Super Stories of Heroes and Villains ed. by Claude Lalumiere reprints my Wild Cards story “Just Cause.”
What else? Oh, Castle. I really really like that we have a story about two grown-up professional people working on a relationship and no one has to give up their job for the other, as if that’s some kind of virtue. I really really wish the show would give up on these multi-part thriller conspiracy stories, because they’re not very good. You know, TV land, not every poison automatically comes with an antidote. Really, I felt like I was watching NCIS, not Castle.
Agents of SHIELD. Much better on the banter this week. Didn’t feel as forced. (Setting the coaster under the broken glass? Awesome.) I sort of like that they’re borrowing gadgets from Serenity (That thumper sonic knocker-outer thing? Oh yeah.) Right on the edge of being annoyingly predictable. (I called the life raft.) It’s started to really really bug me that the Bus has two sets of wings. WHY!!!!! But hey, Nick Fury FTW.
September 27, 2013
Possibly the most anticipated new show of the year. Two Marvel movies a year just isn’t enough for us, is it? So they gave us a TV series. Isn’t that nice of them? Given how much I love the Avengers sequence of movies, I’m sure you’re all wondering what I thought of the show. Well. Here it goes.
WHAT I LIKED:
My hypothesis re: Pacific Rim that a duo of crazy scientists can include a woman scientist and be totally awesome is confirmed. Huzzah!
Easter eggs. So many easter eggs. I regretted not watching this with my comics guru friend because I’m sure I missed a ton of references.
I like that the show is dealing with the existential questions raised by The Avengers. The whole world knows there are aliens, and that they have it in for us, and where do we go from here?
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
The banter and patented Joss Whedon one-liners felt awfully forced. Not every conversation has to have a joke in it.
That’s a pretty, pretty cast. A generically Hollywood pretty cast. I’m not sure I could pick any of them out of a lineup. Kind of blah, actually.
WAIT A MINUTE, ARE YOU SURE THIS ISN’T PLANETARY?
Weird world? Don’t you mean strange world? And a team that goes around trying to keep it that way while opposing a secret power-hungry organization determined to use this alien power for its own nefarious purposes?
I AM VERY CONFLICTED NOW.
So, I liked the show but didn’t love it. I want to watch a few more episodes and hope they hit their stride. But I admit I’m quite looking forward to seeing where the overall story is going and how they tie it into the movies. And is Agent Coulson really a life model decoy but he doesn’t know it? Or is that a red herring?
Man, they totally have my number, don’t they?