Monday, September 29, 2008

Save Hiatus

The latest chapter of the Save Hiatus novelization is up:

Side Project Week 3: Classic Who

This week's Classic Who was Frontier in Space. In my head, it's all in diagonal font like the old b-movies. Frontier - In - SPAAAACCCEEEE!

Anyway, it's not a fav. The Doctor and Jo (still wearing her inexplicable knee-boots and capris ensemble) land on a ship that is about to be attacked by another. It's a freighter carrying tons of flour (?) and it's the latest victim of what people think are Draconian attacks. There's much running about in hallways that look mostly the same; there's much being in jail, escaping, and being back in jail; there were parts that looked very clearly as if they should have been the cliffhangers, and then weren't. We're of the opinion that the serial had to be expanded and it threw off the pacing.

Good points: Jo gets to talk more than ever before, and takes her hand at making escape plans. The Draconians are a really neat design, and the prosthetics were only a little awkward. Madam president had the neatest little space-seventies tertiary-color dresses, and new hair to coordinate with each. There were parts that looked like they were filmed in the Barbican, and I've been there.

Bad points: The Doctor is back to being condescending to Jo. The Master a-freaking-gain. Weird pacing. I felt bad for the Ogrons-- they're just sort of dull and scared and the Master keeps yelling at them and the Draconians keep killing them. The Master never has motivation for wanting to start wars or take over universes. Daleks? Huh? And there's no conclusion because it goes right into the Planet of the Daleks, which is the end of the season.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekly Roundup 3 Sept 22 - 28

sun: true blood
The plot thickens! Sookie's having libido issues she's never had to deal with before, including naughty dreams and wandering hands; Jason's feeling like his life's being undone by vamps, and being an idiot, he's making even more of all the wrong choices; Tara finally walked out on her drunk and abusive mom, but now she's living with her drug dealer cousin who's into everything unsavory available in that town. We find that Sookie's grandfather also knew things, and that Bill and his so-called friends are on opposite sides of the integration debate. There's a new anti-vamp preacher on the televangelist shows. Sam isn't a pretty pretty dog, unless he's also crazy-- a shape shifter with dissociative disorder so he thinks he's talking to the dog he is?-- but he does bark in his sleep. I like him, he seems sweet, which probably means he has some horrible secret so deeply repressed that even a mindreader can't get at it.
There were less boobies this time, but somehow more sex, and definitely more thinking about sex. How old is Sookie supposed to be? She's feeling a bit like a fifteen year old, and I think it's a delayed puberty because of reading everyone's thoughts and being perpetually turned off. Hey, if she met another mind reader, and they were reading eachother's thoughts, would it set up a feedback loop? That'd be sweet, and if it causes screaming and blood squirting from their ears, there's no reason it can't work in the show...
Anyway, it's still pretty interesting, and I'm still willing to keep watching.

mon:sarah connor, heroes
Another Monday, another SCC. Tense, but not much having to do with the story, though Penny Widmore is out (so I assume she'll be back on Lost this season), leaving Charley angry, disillusioned and blaming himself. Reily continues to make John do stupid things without really trying, and Cameron's still acting weird. Dereck goes against his better judgement to help Sarah, and Cromarty messes with their heads. T-1000 tired to hire Ellis.
The main points of interest are the questions I keep getting: how much longer before things cave in? What's wrong with Cameron, and is it a tech problem, or is she turning human on us? How long until Reily has to be informed of what she's waltzing through the middle of? Why is their landlady pregnant-- unless there's something important there? Why was John buying a massive computer? Everything in this show is chosen, carefully planned-- at least up until now-- and I want to know how things fit together.
Not a bad episode, but feels a little like wheel-spinning...

Hijinks Ensue says it thusly: "Heroes season 3 premiered this week. I don’t even know where to begin. Season 1 showed so much promise. Season 2 swerved directly into oncoming traffic, collided with a bus full of legless orphaned nuns, each holding a kitten and exploded into a fireball of fail that could be seen from space. Despite that I was hopeful. I blamed the mediocrity on the writer’s strike. Now I’m convinced the writers were striking to PREVENT future episodes of Heroes." (
I don't think it's as dire as that. I think I'm one of the minority who like this show because it's cheesy rather than hating it because of the same. So what does the season 3 premier bring us? Let's see: Peter is replaced by future!Peter and... what? Locked in Weevil's head? Something like that. Mrs Petrelli's powers are dreaming. Lame. Nathan's gone all televangelist on the world, and apparently that messes it up worse than anything else. Hiro managed to lose the thing his father and grandfather defended for decades in, like, half a minute. Future!Ando is both a mutant and a traitor, and only Hiro knows about it. Maya's crying. Suresh makes himself into Collossus-- in a boatyard? Why? WTF? That's not scientific at all! PsychoSlut's still around and Parkman's still not useful. Molly's conveniently away. Syler's now invincible and aparently doesn't actually eat brains so much as... poke and them and absorb their specialness? And Claire can't die at all. What about if the world ends?
The whole episode was weirdly dark... things get a little doomy and all the lightbulbs in the world get replaced by 13-watt blue-tinged ones or something. And the future needs to be saved yet again. "Save ourselves, save the world."
Part two continues the confusion, with Nathan going all John Crighton with the Linderman neural clone, PsychoSlut not realizing / not knowing / not admitting that she's PsychoSlut, MamaPet saying she's Syler's mom, Hiro punishing Ando for things he hasn't done yet, Mohinder getting all horny-- then all scaly, Elle-who-is-not-VM getting fired after almost getting brain-poked, Peter still in Weevil's head... it goes on. There's a baddie who is not at all like Mageneto, no matter that he's German and controlls metal. Elle's daddy was Midas, apparently, and is now dead. Future!Peter is messing up EVERYTHING, no matter what he tries. Claire is convinced she isn't human anymore. Oh the drama!
I'm enjoying it, though, even when it makes no sense. It's kind of... sansationalistic. Like watching tabloid TV about the X-Men.

tues: fringe
This week's Fringe dealt with something called a Ghost Network, which was really not all that well explained, and, of course, it was linked to something Walter had studied before. I hope all the stories aren't something he's done before-- one, because it would get old really quickly, and two because I'm supposed to believe this guy who founded Massive Dynamics didn't accomplish anything on his own, but let the guy who's brain produced it all sit alone in a loony bin for seventeen years?
Plots continue to thicken, however, with Peter being involved in something shadyier than usual, Astrid being revealed as a Linguist, Walter being more cogent than usual, and the last two minutes showing us that Roboarm and Bossman are in a power struggle for our Agent Dunham, and the supposedly dead and burried Agent Scott is still not what he seems. If they bring him back as an assassin, I'm totally calling plagaism for a story I wrote eight years ago but never published.
The editing and pacing still seems off to me; the plot points aren't cohesive-- it's all about the gel... only it's really not at all. So why does it even matter? I'm okay with choppiness if they bring it back later to explain things. Lets keep track of all those plot points, shall we? And if they do keep them going, won't it be fun if Roy is now kind of a psychic and can pick up on things for them?

This week's Eureka found things coming to a head-- Eva had plans to destroy the bunker thing and Zoe got infected with an aging illness, while Jo and Zane bickered. Don't care so much about that as you'd think. Maybe cuz Zane's kind of a tweeb. Anyway, Carter went to get some of the purple goop to make a cure for Zoe and wound up trapped in the bunker as it was sealed off by this TV psychic looking guy, where we found out that Eva doesn't age and one of the scientists was her brother-- and that they'd sealed themselves up to keep the illness from spreading, and while they were dying of it, they devised a sort of antiradiation bomb that would fix it.
Not too bad, but it felt rushed. All the plot crammed into one episode when it could have been a really well-scripted two-parter. And Zoe's boyfriend wasn't at her bedside as she went blind and got old or anything. But the end! Eva moves on to a new life! Allison's pregnant and wants Carter to be her coach! Carter's fired! What's next?

thurs: supernatural, knight rider
After the longest 'previously on...' i've ever lived through, this week's Supernatural goes right into the action with Hunters being taken out all over the area. Blood, guts and ribcages all over the place, and salt isn't holding them back. It's ghosts, forced to rise and made of pure anger, and they're after Dean and Sam. There's witchcraft, there's really angry ghosts, there's lots of shooting, there's salt everywhere. They win, of course, but only to find out that it doesn't matter, because the ghosts were a sign of the Apocalypse. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we've got the End Times here on Supernatural. I mean, it's not like no other show in this genre has ever faced the end of the world-- Buffy and Angel handled it every season-- but it's not usually the Biblical Apocalypse, and though I haven't read a Bible in a long long time, this seems pretty close to what I remember. Neat. And creepy. Man, is this show creepy. Not the scariest thing I've ever seen, by any means, nor even the freakiest thing I've read-- and I'm a horror editor, so I read alot of creepy shit-- but it's creepy enough to make me glad I'm watching it during the day and not at night, though it also makes me sad I don't have comercials to break up the creepy. I'm kind of amazed CW allows this sort of thing.
And I can hardly wait to see where this season goes, which is pretty amazing.

So this Knight Rider redux. Not as bad as I was led to believe, though I almost wanted it to be because I wanted something to rain against. Oh well, there's always Heroes.
This one has the feel of all those silly-scifi shows I love so well, with the camara angles and plot tricks and general feel of something like Andromeda or SeaQuest, both of which were not so great, but had a certain charm that made me like them. Everyone kind of sucks at the acting thing, but that's also par for the course in these shows, and doesn't really break the deal. Also, the plot points are not terribly original-- main character can't remember his past, love interest is wary but somewhat teasingly inviting, sidekicks are the full range of secondaries that are to be expected, boss can't be trusted-- but it seems to come off as fun rather than sucky. At least for now. I liked the remix of the theme song, and it was a night touchstone with a show that's not really the old version. Kitt kind of kicks ass. He's soooo shiny... And he transforms, so there's like seven cars fitted with that cylon light thing, and he's an autonomous AI, which I always find fun. How long before he finds another AI and tries falling in love? How long before they request to build a baby? How long before there's an evil Kitt? How totally awesome would it be if the evil Kitt was the love interest and the baby was pirated software? Blindingly awesome, that's how.
I like Zoe. She's irreverent and flirty and smart and one of the only ones who actively realized how totally cool this weird little world is. Senator Kelly is shifty as is expected. The FBI is untrustworthy. And apparently people don't ever bleed.
So not so bad. Let's see if they can stay cool. And if it only lasts a few years, maybe it can be good enough to fit in with 7Days and First Wave in the flash-in-the-pan scifi that's close to my heart category.

fri: history hacker, project earth, atlantis
This new show History Hacker is pretty damn cool. Makes me want to build things-- and brings out the latent engineer in me that I never got a chance to nurture / didn't join the army to nurture, even when the ASVAB said I'd make a great engineer. The premier episode was on Electricity, focusing mostly on Nicola Tesla's weird and wonderful not-yet-followed-up-on theories and home-made tech. I love me some Tesla. The man was a scifi prop room unto himself-- I mean, wireless electricity? Using the air as the inside of a lightbulb? Inventing the neon light? Deathrays? Teleportation?? The guy was a hero for those who turn scifi into reality.
So we followed in his footsteps and found that it's easy to turn your already-cool hipster bike into a home-grown power generator, and that lightbulbs can glow without wires (though you may need to be in a Faraday Cage if you're doing it that way...), that things can move themselves around in orbit while generating their own electricity cleanly and nevigating using only em force. Gods, I love science. I wonder if there are any electronics courses I can take without having to find a way into MIT?
A really fascinating first episode.

Project Earth wasn't on this week, and I missed Atlantis, so that review will be in next week's-- or, more likely, I'll just put it up on it's own when I see it. And I think I'm going to start posting NonFic shows on their own, or in a separate roundup if there's enough of them.

Upcoming side projects:
Catching up on Middleman, which I entirely missed
All of the ill-fated New Amsterdam, which I just realized I have

Week 3 News

The World's Strangest Clock:
The most distant gamma ray burst we've ever seen:
A discussion of the usefulness of mechanical things to remember for us-- and some that already exist:
Scientists want to study out-of-body experiences with postcards on high shelves:
Fish had fingerbones before coming on land:,22049,24381533-5016574,00.html
An engineering student wants to save earth from asteroids using mylar and solar power:,22049,24224477-5016574,00.html
Plans to go back to the Moon to stay:,22049,24050515-5016574,00.html
Virtual dating as a networking site in Japan:
Full individual genome sequencing for the price of an ipod!:
DNA-based jewelry:
Nearly-instant DNA scanners:

The top SciFi shows not on (region 1) DVD:

Farscape continues in comic form (much like Buffy):
RTD turned down writing the live-action Starwars. That might have been really fun. :
This is about the coolest real scientific discovery I've seen in ages: And also:

a really thought provoking take on faeminism-- thought zombies:
China starts work on a new em-drive for space:
conservative dystopias:

Doctor Who pumpkin carving templates!:
A new History Channel Show I may need to add to the lineup:
New scifi books for October:

Hyposprays are real!:

Watery Mars has lasted longer than thought!:
A space cold war?:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Imports: Merlin s01e01

I've decided to separate out the imported TV I watch, as most of it isn't in the US, or will be later, and maybe you don't want to spoil yourself. To start off: Merlin.

Sunday seems to be the day for mysticism, what with True Blood also being this day. Merlin began tonight with a fun episode that managed to get young!Merlin not only into a place in court, but also into a lot of trouble. He's a natural magician in a land where magic is banned, and that's only going to cause problems. This time around, it helped him save his mentor, fight Arthur and defeat an evil witch played really well by the lovely Eve Myles (was that her singing? I'll have to find out, but I heard somewhere that Welsh people are naturally musical...). Uther "Giles" Pendragon is kind of a hardass; he battled magic twenty years ago and brought order-- at the cost of getting rid of everything the least bit magical and killing anyone who uses it. And that's why the witch wanted to kill him: one of those executed was her son. He rewards Merlin for saving everyone by making him Arthur's manservant, but they already don't like each other, and I'm sure that'll be a lot of the plot points to follow. Gwenevere is a maidservant, not a princess, to Morgana, who is not a half sister but a ward, so it'll be interesting to see how the standard interactions work out.
All in all, alot of fun and worth the watch, and I'll definitely tune in next time!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Side Project Week 3

We didn't watch Classic Who last night, but we did watch Pushing Daisies in an attempt to catch up since the show is coming back so very soon after so very long a hiatus (stupid writers' strike!). I've seen all the episodes before, of course, but it was almost like watching them for the first time. I'd forgotten just how charming the show was, how vivid the world was-- entirely stylized and colorful and strange, nothing boring and normal in it at all. I want to live in Lilly and Vivian's house. I want to work at the Pie Hole. I want to look out my window and see endless miles of yellow daisies.

I hope the show stays as it is-- long breaks can break the flow, and I think it would just be a tragedy in this case. There was such a cohesive feel to these nine little episodes, such a unified idea of what was happening. I have trepedations about the new episodes more than I usually do at the start of a new series...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week 2 News

10 dumbest deaths in scifi:

first picture of an exoplanet:
lhc hacked:
weird bright obkect:
planning for the apocalypse:

top ten geeky movie characters:
more on the exoplanet:
top ten sexy geeks:
nasa has ideas about how to stop astronaut bone loss:
the oldest roots of scifi:
this is atlantis's last season!
they're cancelling atlantis, for 'kids in the gate'?

the 20 best worst scfi movies of all time:
mccain and ufos:
Sulu got hisself hitched!:
Flash Forward has a fun idea but is made by questionable talent:
New SciFi Channel show stars Sully and looks fun!

Sickest Transporter Accidents in SciFi:
New Red Dwarf coming:
Why Fringe is TVs most reassuring show:

Weekly Roundup 2 - Sept 14 to 20

Sorry it's late today-- my internetsen are not friendly to me this week. So here we go:

sun: true blood
You know that cliffhanger at the end of last episode? Yeah, now that that's cleared away, let's get back to the softcore ****. I can tell this show's going to be one of those 'leave them in abject fear and then fix it easily next week' shows; I mean, it already is. Sookie? Not dead by kicking. Jason? Not a murderer. Moving on. Bill went to talk to the Grandma, Sookie yelled at alot more people, Sam tried to calm her down at work again, Tara almost got some alone time with her idiot love, and Jason went back to his slutty ex. Sookie totally made out with the gash in Bill's arm and drank up all his v-juice, which means now they're connected and she's got super-senses. On top of being a telepath. That dog that follows Sookie showed up again and Bill popped a fang when he and Sook started to make out-- after that thing that vampires do these days where they smell along your jugular. I mean, it's hot and all, but it's also silly and kind of weird, but I guess it reinforces the idea that you're basically food, however else they choose to treat you.
Not much happened this ep, really, but at the end, some vamp-hater dies mysteriously and the crazy bald vamp is at Bill's house, so who knows what's going to happen next, and I guess that's what keeps me coming back: I really don't know. It's like a soap opera that happens to have people-eaters in it.
You know what would be really interesting? If they keep with the books, eventually Sookie's going to have a steady boyfriend who's a weretiger and she'll meet her great grandfather who's a faerie. Even if they don't keep with the books, it'll be fun to know that vamps aren't the only mystical beings around, you know?
My review: Still waiting for the point, but keep it coming!

mon: sarah connor
So! John's finally acting something like a normal teenager, and, unfortunately, it's entirely the wrong thing to do in a life like his. Riley is fun, pretty, quirky, kind of a damaged kid but still really normal outside of the terminator-knowledge, she's exactly what John thinks he needs, and my bet is that she'll die. Barring that, she's the enemy in some way we haven't figured out. Meanwhile, Sarah's scared for her life from something she can't shoot and has developed a fobia of radiation. I think it's her control-freak issues. And maybe when she was in the loony bin, she actually was crazy; I mean, just because the robots were real, doesn't mean she wasn't driven off the edge by them. Meanwhile meanwhile, Cameron's acting off... something's come loose in her robobrain or something, and she's having trouble making decisions for herself, possibly getting stuck in data loops until someone knocks her out of it, she's lost in her own lack of knowing... Outside the big three, Charley's wife Penny Widmore knows what's up now, and I think they'll continue to be a fun dynamic as they get more invovled in his ex-fiancee's fight to save the world, and Agent Ellis is still gathering info and talking things through with people, and that'll be fun, too.
Season two is off to an interesting start. This episode wasn't as rip-roaring as the first one, but it's setting up the plot for the season better, and as they've got a whole season to work with this time, I think they're doing it carefully. So far, it looks like there's a plan, and I'm sold. Now it's time to wait and see what happens. Season one got better and better as it neared climax, let's hope season two can top it.
My review: Pretty neat. Keep it up! And I'm kinda glad John made Sarah stop petting on him. That was getting a little too Oedipal for me. She should pet on Dereck; he's hot and seems to be concerned about her.

tues: fringe, eureka
Fringe continues to be weird as all get out. And a little gross, though this week was only magic-oldman-babies and eyeballs and discriptions, instead of all crisco-skin and visible muscles. Not as crazy as the first episode, but there's progress with the interactions between characters-- Pacey-Peter continues to be concerned about Olivia, Charley-the-Fed is getting just the tinsiest bit annoyed at not knowing what's going on, roboarm seems to be working both sides of the Committee, Walter is still a total nut bar, but is figuring out how the world works a little and is starting to remember things from before he was locked up. I'm still not so sure of Anna Torv's acting-- most of the time, I'm not sure if she's supposed to look like she doesn't know what's going on, but for now, it's okay. The science... well, I knew going in to this that it wasn't really going to have much with reality, and it's kind of freeing that it's like that. Anything is possible.
I think the plot of this episode was a little choppy; things seemed a little too convenient sometimes, but it held together easy enough by the end, and it seems to be introducing the idea that there's something wrong with PaceyPeter, and that maybe he doesn't know about it. And, knowing how weird his dad is and how freaky the show wants to be, I'm sure it's something really weird.
My review: I'm still with ya. Keep it coming!

This week's Eureka was my first in a long time. I mean, I watched all of the first season with rapt attention, and cried like a very sad baby at the end, but I lost track of it in the second season, and this... well, this is the third, and I'm doing my best to get back.
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what's going on in the overall season arc, but this episode was about the town elections-- Eureka needs a mayor, even though I'm pretty sure it never had one before. Vincent of the coffee shop was running, with Fargo as his campaign manager, Zoe's boyfriend Lucas was running, though it seemed it was all a front for Zoe to be all Lady Macbeth behind the scenes and I'm not sure why she didn't just run herself, and some guy named Hererra who farms clouds was running. There was much techno-fictioning, with clouds shaped into campaign signs and gel that keeps you cool under pressure and so on. Meanwhile, there's some bunker recently discovered, and Allison and Carter investigate and find out that Eva, who I'm assuming is this season's big bad, removed several fourty-year-old bodies from it, and she's not sharing any info on them and is acting like she knew them personally. Oh, and there's a science project that creates as second sun.
Carter and Jo's superbrain boyfriend Zack manage to save the day, and Henry is voted in, even though he didn't run. It's still silly and quirky and fun, and I have no idea what's going on between the characters, but I'm okay with that. Though I do want to know what happened with Allison and Carter-- that's not there at all anymore, and that makes me sad.
My Review: Fun standard Eureka.

thurs: supernatural
Smallville premiered, and I will not be adding that to the rotation. I watched it a little at the beginning, but Superman just isn't that interesting to me, and the show is not good. I just can't bring myself to come back after five and a half years.

Better, was that Supernatural premiered. Season four finds Dean dragging himself from the grave after four months, and having to reunite the gang so he can find out why. Sam has a girl whose name he can't remember in a room with mirrored ceilings, Billy almost kills him thinking he's a revenant or something, a psychic is blinded and several demons are killed and blinded, too. Sam's working on his psychic powers with the help of Ruby and a bunch of lies to preserve the secret, and, it turns out, Dean is chosen of God. Neat. It was really only a matter of time, I think, before a show full of demons had to get around to the fact that demons are warped angels, and therefore, there are angels. And it's always fun to watch a rock-hard skeptic get a mission from a god he doesn't believe in. Not to mention watching an angel be really freaky and creepy. This is so much better then whitelighters and darklighters on Charmed.

fri:atlantis, discovery project earth
Atlantis brings us Keller tied up in the woods again! Really, this is getting to be a habit. This time, she's kidnapped by a Runner like Ronon, and that means he's the only one who can track them; meanwhile, Rodney's been practicing talking to her intelligently about medical matters, and has gone with her on his day off juse to near her, so he insists on helping her too. So there's woods, and Wraith, none of which are Standard Wraith Baddie or Hot Toddy The Wraith, so they manage to kill them all and the rest is sunning around and avoiding further capture while Keller helps a sick girl and disables the Runner's transmitter. He draws the rest of the Wraith off, but isn't killed, so I think he'll probably come back later-- or would have if the show wasn't canceled. ::tear:: The best parts were when Keller actually got to do things like speak her mind and even fight off an attacking Wraith who was, like, twice her size-- and when Rodney confronted Ronon back on the base to ask him "his intentions". Seems both Ronon and our Rodney like the same girl! This'll be fun, what with them being entirely different people with entirely different skill sets and personalities and life-views. I'm voting for Rodney, though, if only because I like the little possible sparks between Ronon and Teyla.
My Review: Standard low-budget Atlantis, okay, but not as neat as last week. An excuse to move the plot along.

Discovery Project Earth was about getting rid of Co2 in the air. There was the idea to drop it into the oceans, and they built a torpedo that could slam dry-ice into the sea floor, and they built a massive air-scrubber something like they use to get the co2 from shuttle air and something like they use for getting the sulfur out of factory air that was more than twice as effective as they thought it should be. There was talks with Norwegian natural gas miners who separate the co2 on site and pump it back underground, and the mention that the rest of the world could use the same plan to sequester millions of tons. There was mention that cleaning the air might make peole think it's okay to continue spoiling it.
But it wasn't as interesting to me as it usually is. I don't know; the tech was not as neat, the plan was not as ambitious, things went too smoothly, something wasn't as sparky as it usually is. A worthy episode-- they all are-- but not my favorite.

The Wrong Door is a BBC3 sketch comedy show with a weird scfi-esque twist and a penchant for running gags and potty humor. Not hilarious, no, but silly enough to be entertaining, and scifi enough to be somewhat unexpected. Let's see what the next few eps are like before I decide whether to make this a regular part of thelineup or not.

excited about:
Merlin on BBC has Anthony Stewart Head and Eve Myles, both of whom I already adore, and is already getting some good press. RTD says it's something worthy of showing against the Doctor.

Warehouse 13 is one of SciFi Channel's new shows-- Sully from Bones and his partner have to protect a warehouse full of paranormal artifacts. (anyone notice how secret semi-governmental programs are the thing for scifi this season?)

Flash Forward-- from the guy who wrote the Blade movies, a show about everyone on the planet getting a 2 minute vision of the future and how it changes everything.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Side Project Week 2: Classic Doctor Who

Up this week: Carnival of Monsters!

This one is sillier than usual, even for Classic Who. The Doctor and Jo, recently restored to free range time travel after saving the Timelords in the Three Doctors, aim for some perfect planet and wind up on a ship in the Indian ocean in 1926. In a time bubble. With a pleisiosaur. Meanwhile, intergalactic hucksters Vorg and Shirna wind up on a gray planet full of weird little gray people, trying to sell their show-- a peepshow of several species from all across the galaxy in little mini-habitats, like a traveling zoo. Three and Jo, of course, are inside the machine, and, also of course, they get out, into the guts of the device, where there is much running about. After getting into a Dashig habitat, they're chased about in high Who fashion by said Dashigs, which eventually make it into the real world after the Doctor, while Jo is still inside. The Doctor prevails and Vorg and Shirna are not thrown in jail.
Like I said, sillier than usual. Shirna sounds almost exactly like Jackie Tyler, and has eyebrows made of sequins, and Vorg looks like some sort of proto-Doctor Six with his crazy clashing outfit. His bowler hat is see through and tends to fog us under the lights. But both of them are amusing enough, the gray guys are amusing and mincing and somewhat like Ferengis, and the scenes on the ship are fun, especially since they keep repeating and somehow Jo is the only one who remembers what happened last time. Best of all, though, is the continued development of Jo as a reasoning, useful and competent human being, not just an ankle-twister.

Next week: Frontier in Space, and then only three more stories with Jo before she gives way to Sarahjane Smith.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Roundup 1 PS:

It occurs to me that I liked all the shows I watched this week. This isn't to say I'm not critical enough, only that I feel the quality was pretty good, and with the new shows, I want to see where they go. Let's come back in six weeks and see if they're still good, and then I'll be impressed!

Weekly Roundup 1 - Sept 7 to 12

sun: true blood

True Blood is off to a rousing start full of blood and sex and lots of yelling and all kinds of not-so-subtle race relations parallels. Sookie can read minds, which most people don't know and the rest treat as normal, but she can't read vampires, and that makes Bill immediately attractive. That fact could have turned her into another stupid girl, but she's brave and smart and moral to a fault and has very strong views about the world. The whole first episode takes up less then a day in her life, and so far I'm pretty hooked. The high level of swearing is overlookable because it's HBO, and the boobs are the same (though it'd be nice if we got a little fair play-- there wasn't even a full backside of a guy the whole time).
he unrelenting southerness is a little... smothering, but i think that's intentional, as this is all about integration and such in the small towns. It'd be nice if their accents matched, though. There's good interplay between the subplots of a boss who loves her and can't keep his mind out of the gutter at the same time, a best friend who can't keep a job, a slightly batty grandma, and a brother who's in way over his head in disreputable things. And it's a rough world. Idealist Sookie gets yelled at alot, yells back alot, defends a vampire who's being drained, and gets beat up in the last scene. It looks like there'll be more than one source of blood in this show.
My rating: Juicy. Let see if it holds out-- or barrels into the gutter.

mon: sara connor s02
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opens up big and stays that way. Right off the bat, we have a kick-ass new song from Shirley Manson backing a largely-silent attack on casa Connor, where the new villain turns out to be a chump, John and Sarah get beat up alot, and Cameron goes all badass when damage to her chip makes her revert to old programming. The rest of the show is fights and chases, with little side stories of Dereck and Charley looking for John and Sarah, and Agent Ellison dealing with the after-effects of the season-ender's killoff. There were references, visual and plotwise, to T2, which I've been waiting for and loved-- I mean, these characters lived through that, they'd understand how it works and would recognize that things were the same. There were tense mother-son moments when she wanted to kill psycho!Cameron and he wanted to help her / fix her. There was a crazy heartbreaking performance from Summer Glau as a girl-shaped Terminator who doesn't want to be killed-- and we still aren't sure whether it was bluff from a badguy or a confession from a restored goodguy. There were lots of explosions. There was lots of damage done to main characters (really, Sarah's shoulders should be immobile by now). And there was a great juxtaposition of a killer cyborg with torn bloody flesh, visible metal bones and a limp with a street full of normal people who never seemed to notice her. And best of all, there was space for real human emotion, and John got to face some terrible things and grow up a little.
My rating: Amazing. A great start to a second season they might never have had.

tues: fringe
Fringe starts our crazy-- A plane full of people all melt and the feds are called in to find out why. Meanwhile, lovely main character Olivia is boinking her partner John, and they're sent out to find out who's responsible. A lead takes them to a bank of storage containers, things go bad, and she's blown against a wall while he's exposed to really crazy chemicals. And that's when it gets really interesting. There's a mad scientist who's been in a loony bin for seventeen years and his son who's equally as brilliant and may or may not be a conman. There's a massive corperation of very large white rooms and strange people who have undisclosed goals, the founder of which was an old lab-partner of the mad scientist. There's sensory deprivation and massive drug overdoses; there's inter-governmental intrigue; there's action and adventure; there's plot twists all over the place; there's a Pattern we've only just started to guess at; there's a cute lab tech; there's a cow; there's some really interesting character dynamics (including but not limited to old grudges, secret love affairs, budding attraction, father-son madness and angry bosses)-- and there's alot to work with. The episode was a slow burn, with the first half leaving you wondering where this was going, what this mattered for, and feeling like a fairly typical fed drama; and there's the second half, where things get strange and you realize the first half was her world and the second half is what's replaced it. It's been compared to X-Files, and I think there's some of that, but it's not just that. It's its own creature, a new thing that I can get behind if it holds up, and as it's supposed to be a crisis-of-the-week idea rather than a massive-ongoing thing like Lost, I think there'll be room to watch it without feeling obsessively obligated, and that's a good thing.
My rating: A fine start, and i'm not disappointed. Keep it up, gang!

fri: gemini division, atlantis, discovery project earth
Gemini Division is the story of Ana Diaz, a New York cop who finds out that her boyfriend is not a natural human, a former soldier in the War, possibly a terrorist, and being hunted by a covert group-- the Gemini Division of the title. This week's ep bundle, parts 9 through 12, bring us from her trip back to the states, through her investigations, to her first offer of cooperation with Gemini. So far the story is tense, strange, interesting, and a good use of webcast tech-- it's all in small blocks, usually somewhere around three or five minutes, and it's got a near gritty feel, though sometimes the obvious CGI seems unecessary. There's alot of mystery, and this weeks eps take it up to a new level of strange.
My rating: Neat! And keep it coming.

I admit that I missed a huge chunk of Atlantis recently (::cough- half of last season and the beginning of this one - cough::), but this is a good time to come back. In this week's episode, Teyla goes undercover as a Wraith queen to push a biogengineering project that will allow the Wraith to stop feeding. She undergoes radical surgery and comes out a more interesting character. Queen Teyla is forceful, radical, ruthless, and far more fun to watch then the usual, painfully sincere Teyla we've all watched previous to this. And Todd-the-Wraith is one of my favorite villains on TV right now: you never know where he's really coming from and you can never be sure what he's going to do next, plus he's got a great personality made up of snark, arrogance, charm and menace that I find far too attractive in someone covered in a layer of slime and evolved from a giant bug. The upshot is that Todd is now in command of his whole alliance, the bioengineering has been delayed and yet still solidified, and as far as the Wraith know, Teyla is their queen, which finally gives them some real leverage with Todd.
My rating: Great ep. This is what I loved about Atlantis, and what I missed when I was away.

Discover Project Earth: Solar Sunshield-- Can I even explain to you how much I love this show? This is scifi, but it's real. And the reality makes it pretty damn amazing. In this week's ep, as the title says, they were testing out the feasibility of building a sunshield to keep planetary temps down as the century progresses-- geoengineering, they called it, which is really only a step or so away from terraforming, and that makes it a hit in my books. Basil-the-lovely went to Holland and they invented the world's thinnest lens that would scatter sunlight just enough. Then he and the team went to England's army to test coil guns, which use electromagnets to toss missiles fast enough to leave atmo and break out of the gravity well. They need a way to protect the lenses (there'll be trillions of them in the end-- what would that look like from the ground? would you see it sparkling from a million miles away? And no one suggested using any type of cusioning gel; it wouldn't compress like open space would, it would keep the lenses equally spaced, it would reduce shock and pressure, and it can't be that hard to invent some compound that would burn off quickly in hard vacuum and UV, setting them free to orient themselves into a shield), but the coil gun worked pretty well, even if the standard rocket they tested for backup suffered 'catastrophic failure' and plummeded into a pile of slag. Here's what gets me: These people really care about this. When things didn't work, grown men cried, in public and on international television. How ofted do you get people who care that much? Who believe in what they're doing so much? We need more of that, more people who have the skills to make massive changes, to invent the tech we need and get it where it needs to be, and take it personally.
My rating: Fantastic, as always.

the week's scifi and scifi-like news:
Scotland is getting in on the idea of space tourism, with an eye to the future of the industy, thanks to Richard Branson: --

Afew scifi faces in the best TV characters of all time:

Top X-Files monsters-of-the-week to remember and enjoy for the anniversary of our favorite conspiracy-show's premier this past Wednesday :

The LHC starts up to general success, even though people were sure it would be the end of the world:

News on a Dr Who Movie:

what i'm looking forward to:
The American version of Life on Mars-- I loved the English one, loved John Simm, and I think it will be an interesting social study to see how it's the same and how it's different when they adapt it.

Sanctuary-- Amanda Tapping has a new show! And it looks frickkin awesome! And it's in one of my fav niches, the secret non-government agency that handles weird stuff niche.

Pushing Daisies-- I was SO scared this beautiful, artful, silly and intense show was gonna get axed. I was starting to prepare myself from the moment I loved it because shows I love always get axed, but the Strike really had me scared. Now it's coming back!

Valentine-- Roman gods in a modern world? Sounds like fun to me!

catching up on:
Eureka, before it's done again, and that gap in Atlantis.

See you all next week!

Side Project Updates 1

classic who: the time monster / the three doctors

In the wake of the most recent season-ender for New Doctor Who and the fact that there will be no more Who until Christmas, my roomates and I have been watching our ways through the Classic Doctor Who. At this point, we're half-way through Doctor 3, John Pertwee, and into the last season of silly companion Jo Grant, so that's where I'll start our discussion.

The Time Monster is remarkably fast-paced; the old habit of having nothing happen for the first three segments of a six-segment story seems to have fallen by the wayside and been replaced with Story right off the bat. The Master is stealing ancient god-powers from Atlantis and using them to conduct time experiments in the 60s, which of course brings UNIT into the equation and gets the Doctor and Jo involved.

Overall, it's pretty neat. The monster of the title is Chronos, the Titan that apparently gave Atlantis all it's power, and manifests as a blinding-white bird-winged monster which is far cooler when all you get is an impression of it so you can't see how low the budget was, and who has a habit of knocking people out of time on the Master's command. Jo gets a little volition of her own, as well as the ability to retain information and figure things out, and it's nice to see Jo being something other than a flake who twists her ankle and gets in trouble-- I mean, she's supposed to be an agent of UNIT, right? Atlantis is apparently full of the worst actors they could find, and everyone is far too in love with hair-crimping and an aesthetic that looks like an early version of Abydos from SG1, but the Minotaur (played by original Vader sans James Earl Jones voice for extra geek points) was neat, and the sets were almost definitely borrowed from some other show because they were huge and detailed.

The Three Doctors is just silly, but in a fun way, like all the Doctor-meets-himself storylines. Doctor Three is sent by the Time Lords to fix a power-draining black hole after a weird anti-matter blob starts stealing things from Earth, and as they have their hands full with the drain, the only help they can send him comes in the form of his previous selves. Lots of bickering about who's better and how to handle the situation ensues. It's worth it to see the Doctor using his sometimes-forgotten-about telepathy and the way the Brigadier just can't handle having two Doctors around while Benton accepts it easily.

When we finally get everyone through the blackhole to an anti-universe, we get Omega (pronounced more like OO-meh-gah), who is downright funny in his overacting and his woe-is-me emo-ness, and his blobby-bubbly-crab thing henchmen. All in a gravel quarry, in high Who fashion. There is much running about, much sciencing of the fiction, everyone is separated up and then brought back together, and the Doctor(s) stops the villain with a trick, not a weapon, though it amounts to the same.

Cute, and fun, and again Jo gets some better writing, but definitely more silly then good, and a prime example of how you have to watch Classic Who for the rediculousness sometimes, like watching old movies that might wind up on MST3K.

comics: the collected ninth doctor stories

I recently got my hands on a copy of these stories, and they were charming. The art was a little weird sometimes, but you could always see the Christopher Eccleston-ness of the Doctor, and Rose always looked distinctively Rose-like. They defeated villains, they ran about, they inspired people, they saved the world and they saved individuals, they bantered and they cared about each other and it was a perfect collection to remind me why I liked the first season of Nu Who so much. The Ninth Doctor was war-scarred and darker then the previous eight (except maybe six; I've only seen a little of him, so I can't judge just yet), but he was also silly and mouthy and really in love with the Universe, and he really really cared about Rose, and all of that comes through perfectly.

up next:

Later tonight after Atlantis airs, we'll have the weekly round-up, and then we'll see what happens as we wait for Roundup 2!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This is entirely a televisual-social experiment: Can one unemployed girl manage to keep up with a week's worth of scifi and genre TV while simultaneously looking for a job in the real world? I think I can, but for how long?

The fall season here on the TVs is full of all sorts of off-mainstream shows this year, and I'm making it my mission to follow all of them, even if I have to do it online. Here's the list so far:

Eleventh Hour (in Oct)
Gemini Division (online only)
Knightrider (redux)
Life on Mars (US version)
Pushing Daisies
Sanctuary (in Oct)
Stargate: Atlantis
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
True Blood

Plus any other shows that have special scfi, horror, fantasy or otherwise speculative-rather-than-realistic episodes (I'm looking at you, Halloween Week!) that happen to cross my TV. I'll also be following movies, when I can, any random news items I come across that fit into the topic, and who knows, maybe even a book or two.

Tune in every Friday for updates recapping the week!