Category Archives: Television

BSG – No Spoilers

A few quibbles here and there, but on the whole, I was very pleased with the ending of Battlestar Galactica. A few questions were not answered to my perfect satisfaction, but then I’m kind of dense sometimes anyway, so maybe I just missed the answers.

It was far more closure than I was expecting. And for the first time, I really, really wished for a 72-inch widescreen HD television.

Tin Man, Part One

Just finished watching Part One of the Sci Fi Channel’s miniseries, Tin Man.  Despite some less than clever plot elements, an alarmingly lackluster performance by the usually very talented Zooey Deschanel, and a tendency for the villains to employ just the right amount of stupid to set themselves up for a really obvious fall, I really enjoyed it.  I like the look and the design, I’m enjoying the overall story, and Richard Dreyfuss was brilliant as the Mystic Man.

What I’m not sure I understand is why it was necessary to brand this show as a "reimagination" of The Wizard of Oz.  Sure there are a few plot similarities here and there, but, really, none of them are so essential to the plot that they couldn’t be removed or reworked with just a little effort on the part of the writers.  I think this would have been more cleverly done as an original tale; or, at most, an homage to The Wizard of Oz, with some more blatant references to the original.

I’ve only seen part one, so I’m withholding my final rating for now.  But I am sufficiently intrigued to continue watching.

Vote for Journeyman!

Seriously, Journeyman is one of the best new shows this season.  I’ve never been too keen on time travel dramas (Quantum Leap didn’t do much for me, nor did Daybreak), but Journeyman really is outstanding.  It has its flaws, sure, but the focus on the character driven drama and its steadfast refusal to descend into some of the soap opera cliches that the situation could lead to are admirable.  This week’s episode reached an emotional intensity that is very rarely seen in prime time television, without using the sort of manipulative "Very Special Episode" techniques so common to, say, Grey’s Anatomy or ER.  It’s just a good show.

Because it’s a thoughtful, well written show that features realistic characters who aren’t bent on overwhelming drama, Journeyman is, naturally, in danger of being canceled.  Fortunately, we have the opportunity to vote for the show for the Peoples’ Choice Awards.  Do so below:

People's Choice Awards
Go to PCAVote.com

Of course, what with the writers’ strike, everything’s completely up in the air anyway.

So far this season…

Monday:
Chuck hasn’t yet caught me.  I’ve stopped recording it on our DVR and have been watching it online at NBC’s website.  I’m not entirely sure what it is about this show that’s bugging me.  Maybe it’s just that it’s geared more for gaming nerds than nerds like me, those that I sort of think of as "second wave" nerds.  Our fathers played Chainmail, we played tabletop Dungeons and Dragons, kids these days thing World of Warcraft is somehow role playing.  That in itself doesn’t bug me, though, but Chuck seems only to focus on the video game nerds.  It occasionally nods elsewhere, like a brief in-passing mention of a Linux installation, but there isn’t much of it.  Also, Zachary Levi doesn’t say "nerd" to me.  Zachary Levi looks like a nerd the same way that Jenna Fischer looks like a nerdgirl, or Anne Hathaway looks fat in The Devil Wears Prada.  It’s nice to see Adam Baldwin back in action, but that’s about it.  I’m also sort of tired of shows that just play into adolescent male fantasies of women.  I’ve known plenty of beautiful women, but very few of them were martial artist ninjas or international terrorists.

Heroes continues to intrigue me.  I’m not surprised that a number of fans are dissing the second season; it’s just as I predicted would happen.  Expectations for this sort of show always rise faster than can realistically be delivered.  What’s funny is that different camps of fans decry different aspects of the show: some say that Matt’s storyline is the only good one in a mashup of comic book cliches; other says that Peter’s storyline is intriguing but Matt’s is maudlin and frustrating.  I like that the show continues to evolve, and the characters continue to develop in ways that seem consistent.  At least, to me they do.

I still like Journeyman and each episode draws me further in.  There’s a good deal of relationship angst and drama, but I like that, for once, the characters are up front with each other and dealing with the drama in open ways, rather than being deceptive and duplicitous with each other.  Dan initially tried to hide from Katie that he encounters Livia when he goes traveling, but when she confronts him, he is open and honest with her about the situation.  Katie tries to deal with the situation as best as she can, but with predictable frustration: how tolerating can you be when your spouse ends up traveling back in time on the same night as the huge fancy charity ball that you’ve organized and he’s promised to attend with you?  Dan’s relationship with Livia is explored in a way that makes sense to me.  And so on.  It’s a good show about good but flawed people caught up in a lousy situation.  There’s also an interesting subplot developing involving a scientist from 2007 who is able to call Dan’s cell phone, even though Dan is back in 1997.  Something deeper is going on, and that always draws me in.

Journeyman has its flaws, of course.  The thing about the cell phone — how can a cell phone, even one contemporary technology-wise to the time Dan has found himself in — function when the account it’s attached to has presumably not been created yet?  This doesn’t make sense to me.  Neither is the issue of paradox ever explored; when Dan goes back in time and saves the life of someone who has apparently died, the issue of everyone’s memories changing isn’t investigated.  I can live with these faults, though, simply because the relationships are realistically and interestingly portrayed.

Of course, it’s probably because this show is more about the relationships and the effects of Dan’s random time jumps on them rather than on the gosh-wowie factor that the show may be doomed.  Rumor already has it that it may be canceled and Medium put into its place.  Medium isn’t a bad show, and again it shines in how it portrays the effects of one character’s strange experiences impacting their relationships.  But it just isn’t as solid as Journeyman is.

And I still say that Kevin McKidd looks an awful lot like John Simms.

Tuesday
I still like Reaper.  It’s still a goofy show with clever touches of Kevin Smith and Ray Wise as the best devil I’ve seen on television since Roddy McDowell did it in a few episodes of old school Fantasy Island.  I do wish they’d do something more with Andi, though.  Her role as the ongoing romantic interest for the main character is in danger of growing stale and boring.

Wednesday
Pushing Daisies is still my favorite new show this season.  Last night’s episode featured a Chinese man who was the grandson of a Confederate soldier and who spoke with a Southern accent, and a swordfight.  I love these kinds of weird little details.  Jim Dale as the narrator is funny as well.

Bionic Woman, though, isn’t doing much for me anymore.  I think I’m a little tired of the premise, which is sort of a mashup of the original Bionic Woman premise with a whole 21st century corporate/terrorism zeitgeist which is starting to bore me.  The muted color palette and shaky cameras are too reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica and definitely show David Eick’s influence.  Being David Eick isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Battlestar Galactica is, of course, brilliant.  But this is a different show and deserves its own style.  And Jamie Sommers as a character just isn’t convincing me; after a life as a surrogate mom to her younger sister, working at a bar to barely make ends meet, she slips far too easily into her role as international super spy with a conscience.  It fails to convince me.

The only thing, really, that’s keeping me going with this show is Katee Sackhoff as Sarah Corvus.  She does psychotic/evil very well, and is sufficiently creepy to keep me guessing at her motivations.

Thursday
I don’t watch TV on Thursdays; I catch up on The Office on NBC’s website.  There’s something about this season, though, which is jarring me. I’m amused by Ryan, the temp/business student who’s suddenly promoted to vice president and has no clue that he’s in way over his head and whose style of management seems to have been lifted entirely from a late 90’s dot-com business plan.  Corporate parties by webcam?  They were a bad idea in 1999, and they’re just abysmally moronic in 2007.  It just seems like everyone has gotten stupider and meaner this season, so the humor just isn’t working as well for me.

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More TV: "Bionic Woman" and "Life"

One word impressions:

Bionic Woman:  Ooooh!

Life:  Hmmm.

More beneath the fold.

Continue reading More TV: "Bionic Woman" and "Life"

One word impressions of major premieres

One word summaries of my reactions to various premieres this season so far.

Chuck:  Meh.

Heroes, Season Two, Episode One:  Booyah!

The Big Bang Theory:  Bleah.

Journeyman:  Hmm.

Reaper:  Smirk.

More detailed reactions (with some minor spoilerage) beneath the fold.

Continue reading One word impressions of major premieres

Sci Fi Meanderings

Via Slice of Sci Fi, I found a rumor that is bound to upset, shock, and dismay up to half a dozen people worldwide:  Flash Gordon, despite a plan for a two-season arc, will probably not be renewed past the first season on the Sci Fi Channel.  As someone who has seen plenty of my own favorite shows canceled over the years, I would normally offer my condolences to all five members of the show’s loyal fanbase, but in my opinion, there are better things they could be doing with their Friday nights: like, possibly, mulching their yards, sorting their sock drawers, or inserting flaming bamboo shoots underneath their fingernails — very likely a much less painful experience than watching that show.

In other news, tonight is the season finale of season two of Who Wants to be a Superhero?  I stand by my prediction that Hyperstrike will be this year’s winner, but mostly I’m just looking forward to seeing a giant Evil Stan Lee marching through the streets, causing chaos, like an octogenarian Jewish Godzilla.  You just can’t beat that!

Who Wants to be a Superhero: Feedback

Who wants to be a Superhero?

FeedbackIf you know anything at all about the Sci Fi Channel’s series, Who Wants to be a Superhero, you know that the prize for winning is a comic book featuring the winning character, and an appearance in a Sci Fi Channel original movie.  Last year’s winner was the pretty nifty Feedback (pictured here), and I know that I wasn’t the only one looking forward to a Feedback movie.  Of course, it was going to be a Sci Fi Channel original movie, so there was never any doubt that it would be an awful movie, but we were expecting something.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, the Sci Fi Channel aired Megasnake, about a giant snake that goes around and eats people; it was a plot that could have come straight from my Sci Fi Channel Original Movie Generator, and it was predictably awful.  It was advertised, though, as featuring Feedback, so I was at least a little excited.  "Yay!" I thought.  "Here’s the Feedback movie!  Feedback fights a giant snake!"

What happened?  He got a two minute cameo toward the end of the movie.  And he wasn’t even Feedback; he was Matthew Atherton playing Feedback, and instead of fighting a giant snake, he was giving a lecture on electrical safety to a crowd of children.

For this I sat through two hours of a horrid movie?  (Well, only ninety minutes; to be honest, we remembered the movie was on about half an hour in, and didn’t stress missing anything; these movies are nothing if not predictable).

There are a lot of people who are annoyed about this.  Feedback himself has expressed some disappointment that this was the movie appearance that had been promised to him and to his fans.  The forums on the Sci Fi Channel’s website are aflame with annoyed fans (not to mention the people calling for the immediate cancellation of Flash Gordon).  And there’s even an online petition dedicated to convincing the Sci Fi Channel to follow through with a bit more.  I don’t personally believe that such a petition will do any good, but I don’t believe that the executives at the Sci Fi Channel actually pay any attention to what their viewers say.

That’s the only explanation I can come up with: that they just don’t listen.  How else can you call yourself a "science fiction channel" and not be aware that you’re a laughing stock within the genre community?