Friday, September 12, 2008

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!

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