a short review

April 22, 2015

Here’s what I posted on Facebook about it:

This season on Agents of SHIELD:

“We have to do X, we have no other choice.”
“That’s a really bad idea.”
“Yes, but right now X is our only option for advancing the plot.”

*pulls ripcord, bails on show*

I’m tired of letting loyalty to a brand force me into watching a crappy show.  There are moments of brilliance — Kyle Maclachlan’s Cal is so deliciously crazy.  The slow burn revelation of superpowered people is really interesting.  But the moment in last night’s episode when Bobbie and Mac are sparring and they stop and basically say, “Maybe we were wrong about Coulson,” I just about screamed and hit the TV, because this means they’re basically going to undo the last six weeks of plot and the show has just been spinning its wheels in the stupidest way possible.

If this is the same thing that happened last season — the show’s hands being tied because they can’t step on the toes of the big movie release — then Marvel really needs to work on their structure because this is dumb and is making for some bad TV.

Or they could just, you know, give us more “Agent Carter.”  *hint hint*

a couple of reviews

April 20, 2015

My Facebook feed was jam packed with convention stuff this weekend.  Starfest, Star Wars Celebration, and what seemed like a dozen other conventions.  I’d see pictures and get confused as to which convention I was looking at.  Starfest was cool as usual.  The highlight might have been Victoria Price’s presentation about her father, Vincent Price.  Getting that kind of in-depth and personal insight into such a great icon was really special.

So there’s a new Star Wars trailer.  Yeah, it’ll do.

And now my take on the series finale of Justified:  Sobbed like a baby for the last five minutes.  The end brought everything all the way back around to the beginning, and that was great.

I still think they completely screwed up Ava.  And they did it two seasons ago.  This last season once again demonstrated that Boyd can shoot people in just about every episode — in the back, in the front, impulsively, calculatingly — and he doesn’t worry about where the body goes or getting caught.  But the one time Ava did it, we had to spend an entire season running around having vapors and doing stupid things that practically ensured she’d get caught.  And when she came back from prison, was she tough?  Was she mad?  Was she hardened?  No, she became entirely reactive, uncertain, at the mercy of both Boyd and Raylen.  Even when she developed a plan and shot Boyd, that was in response to her discovering that Boyd shot Dewey, not because of any long-term goal.  Even after stealing the money, what does she do?  Runs all over the mountain, begging her uncle for help, whining and crying when the new plan doesn’t go well.  This is not the Ava who laid out her husband with a shotgun in episode #1.  I don’t believe this Ava is real.

And that last scene.  Maybe I missed it, but the show failed to answer one important question:  did Ava want that baby?  How did she feel about the pregnancy?  She avoided getting pregnant for years, so one assumes she planned this, but did she plan it, or did Boyd?  Boyd talked about having kids.  She didn’t.  So she has a baby, she obviously loves the baby, but at any point did she want a baby? Understanding that forced pregnancy is one of the ways abusers control their victims, and considering how Boyd treated Ava throughout this season, this is actually a really important question.  Just think about the implications for a minute, and realize the show had an opportunity for one last moment of really gut-punchy characterization.  But instead of going that route, this seemed more like a ploy to make Ava seem more likeable and sympathetic at the end.

So yeah, Loretta may be the most interesting and well-developed female character on the show.  But maybe that’s just me.

Happy Friday!

April 10, 2015

This is becoming a thing, I think, where I get to the end of the week and throw together a blog post.  I’m late today because I went riding this morning.  TinyHorse for the win!  She’s doing great.

TV update:

Agents of SHIELD.  I’m frustrated with this show because it feels like the last three episodes were pretty much all the same episode, with the same dialog but just spoken in different situations.  Kyle MacLachlan is making it bearable with his truly enjoyable brand of crazy.  Basically:  if AoS is going to be hamstrung by the release of the big Marvel movie in May every year, they maybe ought to think of just canning it.  Or running it in the summer.  Or something.

Justified.  I think it should end with Art throwing everyone in prison and walking off into the sunset wearing Raylen’s hat.

The Flash.  As a fan of the first Flash TV show, the Mark Hamill guest appearance was a thing of beauty and perfection.  Also, this show has now won all the fan service points.  There are no more fan service points to win.

Here, have a picture of days of superhero Halloweens past:

wonder2

I just noticed the terrible 1970’s carpet in this.  Yikes.

 

new X-Files???

March 25, 2015

I used to be a HUGE X-Files fan.  Massive.  I organized viewing parties in the dorm in college for second season.  I dressed as Scully for Halloween at the bookstore.  (I still have the fake FBI ID badge I rigged up from my old military ID. I probably broke some laws doing this, now that I think of it.  Hm.)  How big of a fan was I?  I have pretty much every magazine that put the show on its cover in the mid-90’s.  I have them bagged.  Cinefantasique did great episode guides, and I have all those too.  This is only part of the collection — I didn’t dig the rest out of the basement.

IMG_5965

I realized recently I don’t talk about this fandom of mine much.  Mostly because I completely stopped watching the show after about sixth or seventh season.  It lost its way, it lost the thing that made it great, and became one of my early data points on how not to write a series.

The early episodes, particularly right around seasons 2 and 3, are still brilliant.  Go back and give them a spin.

So how do I feel about news of a reboot? Very, very meh.  I’m glad it’s a mini-series — less chance for everyone involved to embarrass themselves.  But mostly I feel the way I did when the second movie came out.  Why?  Why?  Is there a reason for this except to cash in on the nostalgia of old-school fans?  The first season is more than 20 years in the past.  In some ways The X-Files was a product of its time — post 80’s cynicism merging with the growing paranoia of the 90’s.  Can this premise even really function in an age when Ancient Aliens is an actual TV show?  Can The X-Files really do anything new?  Does it even want to?  Or is this just to roll around in the nice cozy blanket of Scully and Mulder’s banter?  And the idea of The X-Files ever being cozy is a bit much for me to wrap my brain around.  This is the horror TV show that made all horror TV that came after it possible.

I’ll watch, most likely.  I’ll probably even like it.  But I don’t expect it to be in any way as amazing or as revolutionary as it was then.

And really, I want something new to get excited about.

(If they can get Darin Morgan to write an episode, I’ll take everything back.)

 

I FINALLY got to see Urinetown, the satirical dystopian musical, which I’ve known about since it came out 15 years ago because you can’t be into musical theater and not know about a musical called Urinetown.  I had no idea what to expect, but it turns out it was great, because it knows exactly how silly it is and goes full meta, and it turns out that’s a great way to do a quick, punchy, funny musical.

I also had no idea what to expect because this was the first production I’d seen by the local theater group, the Longmont Theater Company.  I was braced for iffy, but they started singing, they were great, and I relaxed.  The show had that homemade look to it but everyone knew what they were doing and they did an excellent job.  I enjoyed it.  (Having done community theater in high school, I know exactly how iffy it can get, like when your Nellie and Emile in South Pacific have zero chemistry, and in fact your Nellie and Joe start dating before the end of the show…  ANYHOO.)

I’m caught up on this final season of Justified, and for the most part I think it’s great, particularly the villains’ tangled plots and Raylen trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

But I gotta tell you, I think they’re completely screwing up Ava again.  After the last two seasons, you cannot convince me that she’s that much of a wet dishrag idiot.  That she would really put up with the shit Boyd’s pulling on her.  All I can think is that she must have some big epic plan up her sleeve to screw everyone over by the end.  But if so, the show is keeping it really well hidden. And it’s not satisfying.

Also, I propose that you know Sam Elliott’s a bad guy in this because he doesn’t have his mustache.  Sam Elliott without a mustache is JUST WRONG.

 

Monday! Books and TV —

March 16, 2015

What I’ve been watching:

After being really appalled by the couple of episodes I saw of History Channel’s Sons of Liberty miniseries, which would have you believe that the American Revolution was run by a bunch of Gen Y hotties vamping and fistfighting their way across New England, and that none of them had wives and families and Abigail Adams was a walk-on part, I’ve started on the HBO series from a few years ago, John Adams.

I love it so far.  Very well acted and it seems awfully more accurate:  the founding fathers were for the most part established, middle-aged men with families who had a heck of a lot to lose by fomenting revolution.  Abigail Adams is really damned important.

We get to the reading of the Declaration of Independence — because every show ever having to do with the American Revolution has a reading of the Declaration of Independence — and in John Adams, part of that reading is done by Abigail and their daughter.  Hearing this read in women’s voices — it seems like such a little thing, but it struck me powerfully.  It’s seems really, vitally important to hear it read in a woman’s voice.  And I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it read by a woman.  This is a deep and striking thing that I’m still thinking about.

What I’ve been reading:

I’m reading a bunch of stuff from this year’s Nebula ballot so I can be an informed voter.

I just finished up a fantastic book about the Silk Road:  Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a great temporary exhibit right now about the Silk Road — I recommend it.  This is where I picked up the book.  Whitfield’s book isn’t comprehensive — it deals with mainly central Asia and western China from about the 7th to 10th centuries.  But the way she approaches it is through the lives of the kinds of individuals you’d have met in these places during this time.  There’s a ton of information about religion, culture, art, trading, warfare, but it’s all in the context of what these people’s lives looked like.  It’s an interesting and fascinating way to present history I think.

The reason I’m researching the Silk Road:  for my fantasy novel that I want to write some day, I want it sent in a diverse and tolerant culture.  This means not medieval Europe.  Are there medieval examples of religiously diverse and tolerant cultures?  Why yes, along the Silk Road — because it turns out people can be diverse and tolerant when there’s an economic benefit in doing so.  Who knew?

 

comfort viewing

February 16, 2015

BBC America has been airing Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes 2-3 nights a week for a good long while now, and I find myself very often after leaving off work and before foraging for dinner, melting into my sofa and watching for a bit.  Or I’ll put it on as background chatter while I’m knitting.  Somehow, some way, it’s very comforting.

The thing is, the show as whole does not hold up  well.  Especially in the notorious first season, the actors clearly aren’t sure just what they’re doing, they’re not comfortable with each other (oh my gosh, the number of times they have to point out Data doing something android-y or Worf doing something Klingon-y, gah), the stories are often very staid, the philosophy ham-handed, and the dialog… oh my.   ST: TNG has moments of brilliance — “The Inner Light” is one of the best hours of dramatic television in existence.  But then there are times when the show sounds like a role-playing game run by fifth graders.  Very smart fifth graders, usually, but still.

For awhile, I couldn’t re-watch the show at all, and I winced at how I was so enamored of it when I was a teenager. (The excuse was we didn’t really have any other science fiction on TV, and that was very true.)  But….  and yet…  I’ve started watching it again.  Like I said, it’s sometimes just voices in the background.  But these characters are so familiar, and so likable, and their world is also so familiar.  Did you know you can go to YouTube and play the Enterprise’s ambient engine noise for 24 hours?  And isn’t that weirdly soothing?  At this point, the whole show is like a warm fuzzy blanket.

The phenomenon of how much I’ve come to appreciate just hanging out with Picard and Worf and the rest is fascinating to me.  Fiction, entertainment, comfort — powerful stuff, here.

(How many of you are still playing that engine noise?  *raises hand*)

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