Birthday!

January 29, 2019

Yesterday was my birthday!

I had a pretty mello day, mostly staying in and keeping warm and drinking wine.

And watching the first episode of season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery. I thought I could stay away but it keeps dragging me back in! Mostly because I wanted to see what Captain Pike is all about.

I realized, though, that Tilly perfectly embodies all of my feelings about the show. Like, she’s adorable and great and I love her! But what’s her actual job on the ship? Like, she’s an ensign, in a training program, but she’s on the bridge and doesn’t seem to have an actual post, and now she’s in engineering, and now she’s in charge of mission-critical projects and giving orders and things, and I don’t really understand any of this and none of it makes a lick of sense…

 

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Babylon 5 rewatch again

December 11, 2018

Comet TV is broadcasting Babylon 5 and I’ve been dipping into it now and then because it’s SO GOOD and I just can’t look away. So this technically isn’t a real rewatch, but a sort-of rewatch.  And it’s another show where I just like hanging out with these people. Sheridan is so relentlessly cheerful, in contrast to nearly every other sci fi captain on television, and I’m appreciating that more and more.

This time around, I’m noticing the show’s spirituality and metaphysics, which I guess I’ve always noticed before but for some reason it’s standing out to me this time.  On the one hand it’s an easy way to plot (a. There is a prophecy. b. Is the prophecy fulfilled and how? c. Plot!)  But I think the show does enough with the subject in other ways — lots of individual spiritual journeys (Ivanova mourning her father, Stephen’s Walkabout), the presence of actual religious figures, showing religion incorporated into everyday life for both humans and aliens. And this overall idea that religion and spirituality should be something that helps people deal with life, and if it doesn’t — if it becomes dogmatic and prescriptive — then it fails.

And now I’m suddenly comparing/contrasting with The Last Kingdom. One of the things I love about that show is its depiction of early medieval Christianity and how completely wrapped up in politics it was, and then tangled up with Danish paganism, with Uhtred smack in the middle of everything.

Meaty stuff.

 

 

another check in

November 30, 2018

I’m rewriting this novel draft for the third time and I really hope I’m fixing it this time. It’s eating my brain so substantive posts are going to have to wait.

Finished season 3 of The Last Kingdom and I love it.  Aethelflaed. OMG. Lots of great women characters on the show, in fact.

I gave up on season 3 of Daredevil, and am missing why a bunch of people are saying it’s the best Marvel Netflix season yet, because it kind of isn’t. Glacial pacing, nonsensical plotting. Ugh.

Meanwhile, and until I finish this rewrite, I have reduced all my TV watching to this feeder cam in Panama.

 

confession

November 23, 2018

Okay, so, the real reason I was avoiding The Good Place was that I knew if it was as good as everyone said it was — seriously, a friend who doesn’t like anything loves the show — I knew at some point it would rope me in and then emotionally devastate me in a way I couldn’t predict or prepare for. I’ve had a rough few months and I didn’t want to be emotionally devastated. Hence the endless Midsomer Murders binge. (Thank god there’s 20 seasons of that show, right?)

Let the record state that it happened, The Good Place frakking got me, Season 2 episodes 9 and 10. The party on the lawn after the neighborhood was abandoned, I just started bawling and didn’t really stop through the rest of the season.

And now I will take a break and wait for Season 3 to finish so I can watch it all at once.

Meanwhile, The Last Kingdom has new episodes, so I will be in 8th century England watching hyper-gory shield wall battles and thinking about how our Saxon ancestors would think SCA folk are absolutely insane for doing shield wall battles for fun.

 

TV catchup

November 14, 2018

Been awhile since I’ve done one of these.  Mostly because I’ve been compulsively binging Midsomer Murders, much to my anguish.  Like, there’s a level at which this is not a particularly good show. But that’s part of the appeal. I know exactly what I’m getting with it, and my headspace hasn’t really wanted to engage with anything more. On the other hand,  after ten seasons of this, The Prisoner weirdly makes a lot more sense.

That said, I think the episode when Cully gets married is completely brilliant in how it handles expectation and tension. It’s a running gag through the whole show that Barnaby misses important events, dinners, he’s always dashing out because he’s just figured out the murder, so on and so forth. And I swear I spent the second half of that episode thinking, “Wait, he won’t miss his own daughter’s wedding, will he? No. They wouldn’t do that. Except maybe they would? OMG.” I really didn’t know what was going to happen there. The show effectively manipulated my expectations. Well done, show.

I finally caught up on last season of The Flash. Still need to catch up on Supergirl, and I haven’t watched any of this season, alas.  See what I mean about not being engaged?  I liked how The Flash finished up, though it took its sweet time getting there. I think I’m being trained to the short-season model of Netflix and British TV to the point where 22 episodes in a season just feels horrendously long. The Flash is still goofy as all get-out and often contrived and stilted, but I think some of the acting is just great — Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells is clearly having the time of his life. I want to keep watching to see what else they throw against the wall.

I got a few episodes each into the second season of Luke Cage and third season of Daredevil and haven’t gone further. Long, meandering, self-indulgent, contrived angst. Exhausting.

BUT….

Many of you will be happy to know I finally started The Good Place, which is indeed probably the best-written show on television right now.  I don’t know why it took me so long. Just…Everyone raved about it and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to get emotional about it. Turns out, it’s not super emotional. It’s actually really kind, and really funny — actually funny, not infantile one-liner funny. So yes, I should have watched this a long time ago. On the other hand, I get to binge like 10 episodes at a time this way, because it really is one long story and not very episodic at all.  Much like Legion, I cannot guess where this is going and I love that.

I’m only halfway through season 2 so no spoilers. I will say — that twist at the end of the first season? That was amazing. AMAZING. And totally, totally earned. Not out of left field. Carefully, sneakily built in with a fantastic payoff that blew the story wide open in a way I could not have predicted. It’s great.

Weirdly, I’m also sort-of rewatching Babylon 5 right now because it’s airing in order on Comet TV. (It’s so weird. I have access to this show, commercial free, but for some reason it comes on TV and I just have to watch.) I saw the episode where Talia Winters is revealed to be a sleeper agent right around the time I watched the big twist on The Good Place.  The Talia Winters revelation was also a totally earned twist.  Built up, makes sense, shocking, has consequences.  (In season 3, when each of the crew confesses a secret to Delenn and hands over their Earth Force uniforms, and Ivanova’s confession is that she loved Talia — it’s a gut punch every time.)

So of course now I’m thinking of what makes a good twist, and what makes a bad one.

The “All Along the Watchtower” bullshit in Battlestar Galactica? The revelation of the last models of Cylons that made no bloody sense at all? Not an earned twist. Not planned, not built up, requiring retconning and hand-waving, with totally unsatisfying consequences.

“It was all a dream” is rarely, rarely an earned twist.

Must ponder further.

 

Midsomer Murders

July 26, 2018

MIDSOMER MURDERS TOP TEN CAUSES OF DEATH (as of season 5)

  1. Poison
  2. Pushed down stairs
  3. Pushed off roof
  4. Blunt force trauma — walking stick
  5. Blunt force trauma — farm implement
  6. Furniture
  7. Thrown down well
  8. Hunting rifle
  9. History
  10. Ennui

 

Midsomer Murders

July 2, 2018

So yes, I am currently binge watching yet another British cozy mystery TV series on Netflix, along with I think half the people I know. And for much the same reason I binge-watched Poirot and Miss Fisher — Barnaby is just so comforting to be around. It also reminds me of living in the UK in the 90’s (I’m still on the early seasons which are set in the 90’s). After not very many episodes of these, one does start to draw conclusions.

1. I can’t help but think Hot Fuzz wasn’t just a parody of all cozy mystery series set in the English countryside, it’s actually straight-up a parody of Midsomer Murders, isn’t it? It’s the body count in each one that does it, I think.

2. I want to know more about why Sgt. Troy has an X-Files poster hanging in his bedroom.

3. Where I’m at in season three we’ve got to the point that all cozy mystery series eventually get to, some sooner rather than later, where the detective goes visiting relatives in order to find new murders to solve. That Barnaby is an actual homicide detective and yet still encounters dead bodies while innocently visiting aunts and things makes this trope particularly noteworthy here. I think Jessica Fletcher still holds the record for having the most relatives innocently and tangentially involved in murders.

4. Everyone was so excited to tell me about the birdwatching episode (which I haven’t got to yet) that they failed to mention the episode with the excruciating writing group that appears to include Lady Catherine de Bourgh (it isn’t her, I looked it up, but the mere thought of such a thing gave me nightmares).

5. Over the last couple of years I’ve binged Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Poirot, and now Midsomer Murders, and I have come to the inescapable conclusion that my own detective, Enid of Haven, has more in common with Tom Barnaby than either of the others. I believe this is mostly because the Coast Road more resembles the post-Thatcherite English countryside than it does jazz-age Europe or Melbourne.

Make of that what you will.