Friday roundup

November 17, 2017

At long last, my in-depth review of Blade Runner 2049 is live at Lightspeed. I could have said a lot more, there’s really a lot here to pick apart, and I wonder if it’s only worth the effort because the expectations were so very high. I wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about this if the words “Blade Runner” weren’t attached to it. Then again, maybe I would, thinking back on how much time I spent talking about that wretched Total Recall remake.

A bit of trivia:  the title “Blade Runner” actually comes from an entirely different science fiction novel, The Bladerunner, by Alan E. Nourse, which I have actually read, and which I think would make a fantastic movie or TV series. Particularly relevant now, in how it deals with the health care system.

I’m way behind on pretty much all TV watching. My usual gang of superfriends have all been busy and traveling this fall, so we haven’t had a chance to sit down at our usual shindigs. I’m hoping to get through it soon, because ep. 4 of this season’s Flash was amazing.  Hilarious and serious and over the top and cohesive and Danny Trejo and the worst pun in TV episode title history. (“The Elongated Journey into Night.” I KNOW RIGHT?!) It’s great.

And I will go see Justice League at some point, for purely academic reasons of course. I just have to see for myself what they’ve done with it.

 

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Wednesday post & Voltron

October 25, 2017

Reminder:  This weekend is MileHi Con!  I’ll be there with elf ears on. No joke.

I’m writing a review of Geostorm for Lightspeed. Also no joke.  It was like a really bad episode of G.I. Joe. Which still makes it better than Prometheus.

And I’m all caught up on Netflix’s Voltron. Now isn’t that a trip?  The thing I think I like best:  what they’ve done with Pidge. Specifically, that Pidge is a girl. We don’t know that until partway through the first season — she’s in hiding while she searches for her lost family members. But once she’s outed, she doesn’t change. Usually the way this trope works is we find out that unassuming guy is really a girl in hiding, and then she suddenly grows her hair out and puts a dress on and everyone is so amazed that she’s actually so pretty, surprise!  Not here. Pidge doesn’t change at all. She looks, sounds, acts, exactly the same. She’s still the nerdy tech genius. Definitely not a token girl character because that was always Allura. And now we have two girls, which I think is great.

 

I’ve managed to get in three episodes each of Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville and I’m ready to talk about them. It’s taken some effort to sort out what I want to say, and to untangle the weight of expectation from what I’m actually seeing.

Discovery:  This one’s frustrating. I like the characters, I like the look. The writing is just about terrible. First off, it should have started with the third episode. The first two are pure, unmitigated prologue. That last scene of the second episode, Burnham’s tribunal, I actually had a sinking feeling, because it was so clear that this is where the story starts, and if the previous hours felt stilted and wheel-spinny, well, that’s why.

Here’s an example of just how frustrating the writing is:  we’re on the bridge during a standoff with the Klingons, the situation is very tense, things could start blowing up any minute — and Burnham has to go leave to make a phone call. Like for real. And the call is to Sarek to ask him how the Vulcans successfully made contact with the Klingons. And I’m immediately like, “Wait, aren’t the Vulcans part of the Federation? Why would this be secret information that she has to pry out of him? Wouldn’t the Vulcans, who are all about peace and knowledge, just tell everyone how to make contact with the Klingons?”  Well, no, because this is a show that has to keep secrets in order to make the plot work.  So Burnham runs back to the bridge to start acting like a crazy person, at which point the captain calls her off the bridge for another meeting. During this supposedly tense standoff. This makes no sense.

And let’s talk about the Klingons. Or as I call them, McGuffin Klingons.  I’m not even going to touch on the re-design or how they look or talk or anything. Because they’re really just there to make the plot go. They make no sense otherwise. In fact, they spend most of these two episodes standing around explaining their motivation to each other because it makes no sense as anything other than “Well, Federation’s gotta fight somebody, I guess there’s a prophecy about it or something?”

The whole thing should have started with the third episode. Actual mystery, actual interesting things happening, and a redemption arc right out of the gate. And it could have just flown right past all that stuff that makes no sense.

The Orville:  Or Star Trek with dick jokes.  And I’m not really a fan of dick jokes, so there’s that, but mad props to Seth MacFarlane for getting Fox to fund his Star Trek LARP.  I like the secondary characters a whole lot. The two leads drive me bananas, and I’m really over the thing where the goofy male main character gets the beautiful woman to defer to him and apologize to him etc.

Seriously though, that third episode straight-up could have been a Star Trek episode, which was always incredibly heavy handed when it tackled gender issues. Turnabout Intruder anyone?

Mostly, I just find it really odd.  It’s a throwback. It’s nostalgia. And it’s goofy. It’s not terrible but it’s also not lighting any fires for me.

I will probably continue watching these for at least a couple more episodes. But I probably won’t enjoy them terribly much.

Here’s the thing, in conclusion:  in the age of peak television, “tolerable” doesn’t cut it anymore. When I have shows like Legion and Mr. Robot and The Expanse to watch, I don’t have to put up with “Well, it’s okay.”  I have a lot of brand loyalty to Star Trek. But these shows try my patience.

 

murder mystery

September 29, 2017

Bannerless and The Wild Dead are murder mysteries. I’m not sure I realized just how classically structured they are until I spent the last three weeks binging Poirot, the one starring David Suchet.  Love it. The more I watch the more I just want to sit in a warm parlor with Monsieur Poirot, quietly sipping cordials and reading something soothing.

And then I got to the part in reviewing the manuscript of The Wild Dead where Enid gathers together all the dramatis personae and explains what happened and I went. . .oh, this is why I haven’t wanted to watch anything but Poirot for the last three weeks. My subconscious was trying to tell me something:  This may be post-apocalyptic, but it’s also a classically structured murder mystery. Remember that.

And now that I’m done reviewing the manuscript I think it’s time to watch Blade Runner in preparation for the sequel coming out next week. And I hear there’s some new Star Trek thing?  Two new Star Trek things? Did I get that right???

 

re-reading

July 28, 2017

I’m re-reading The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, again.  I’m well into double digits on the number of times I’ve read this. I’ve re-read many of her novels multiple times, but this is the one I always go back to when I’m feeling particularly off balance and need a warm, comforting, something.

I love this book so much, and every time I read it I try to figure out why. It’s a perfect blend of setting, character, and story. It’s both fresh and familiar. It draws on so many tropes, but spins it all into its own thing. I love spending time in this world, and with Harry. I know exactly what happens, almost to the word after spending so much time with this book. But it still seems fresh to me, somehow. It feels right.

And I’ve got three more episodes in season three of Star Wars: Rebels.  I love this show. It’s making me want to go back and finish that last fanfic that I never finished writing.  I can see the story building to something, and I’m kind of dreading exactly what grand finale it has planned. But gosh, in the meantime, it’s just great.  That perfect blend of setting, character, and story.

We may be on to something here.

 

Wednesday update

July 19, 2017

I’m still, slowly, unwinding and putting my brain back together from my week of A) new book release yay! and B) turning in new new book wah!  It’s taking a long time for my brain to clean itself out, but it’s happening. I’m even able to sort of start getting ready for the next round of travel. And do some relaxing. Finish up knitting projects, that sort of thing. I should probably clean house.

Last night’s event at Barnes and Noble went great! We even had a real Irish Wolfhound attend! So many people and so much fun!

Here’s my long review of Wonder Woman, with a couple of bouts of analysis of what historical settings mean and why it’s been so hard to get a viable superhero movie featuring a woman main character.

My take on the New Doctor announcement. Meh? I know it should be more than that, particularly with the casting of a woman, but I stopped watching Doctor Who regularly a few years ago. I’ve heard this last year, post-Clara, has been quite good, and maybe I’ll try to catch up and watch the new doctor. But I’ve got so much to watch right now. At any rate, I’m happy to see changes in the show and I’m happy that so many people are happy. I like Jodie Whittaker, and if you haven’t seen Attack the Block, which features both her and John Boyega, you totally should. Like, right now.

 

Wednesday update!

May 31, 2017

Yes, I have my tickets for Wonder Woman on Friday. This is huge, because as a character she’s nearly as old as Batman and Superman, but while the later two have had a dozen or so live action incarnations each, Wonder Woman has had exactly one in that same stretch of time. One. We’re starving here.

NEWS!

John Joseph Adams Books has now released covers and information on all 2017 releases, including BANNERLESS.  Check out all the titles and pre-order links. I’m so excited!

And the other season finales:

Flash managed to pull out something of a victory in the 9th inning, I think. I wasn’t sure they’d be able to. They showed us Iris getting stabbed all season long, and any impact in that moment, when it actually happened, was completely absent. Except that that’s not what really happened. Was not expecting that, and yet it was set up ahead of time.  Not sure about what happens to Barry at the end, but I’m willing to give it a watch.  My comics geek friend thinks they’re setting up the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century, and that fits with what happens to Mon-El in Supergirl.

Arrow.  So, I’m thinking the whole show jumped the shark when it killed off Laurel. My Superfriends TV watching group and I stopped watching this season about 8 episodes in and every time we talked about catching up, we couldn’t be bothered. The JV team was ridiculous, trying to turn Curtis into a superhero was as ridiculous as trying to turn James Olson into one, the Russian Mafia nonsense was ridiculous. But we watched the season finale just to see what we missed, and I got what I wanted, which was the flashback timeline catching up to exactly where we started five years ago, along with some thematic gestures toward leaving the past behind, Ollie has to get over what happened, “You’ve always been trapped on this island,” etc.  So, clear indication that the flashbacks might be just done. Which is nice. Still have no urge to go back and catch up. Not sure I care about next season, either. Ah well.

Conclusion:  Legion spoiled me on all the other superhero shows. It’s just so good and so stylish, the complete package, with something interesting to say to boot.

So what that means is that until Legion comes back, my favorite TV show is Lab Rats??? Huh.