athelind: (Eye - VK)
I appreciate everyone who's pointed me to Hulu and Torrent, but, frankly, an important part of watching TV is the opportunity to pull my face AWAY from the computer for a while.

athelind: (Eye - VK)
In all the sorrow and confusion of my current situation, there are also small annoyances that arise. One such nuisance: I find myself now bereft of a DVR.

I suspect that much of our recent* increase in television viewing was due not just to a plethora of interesting programs, but to the ease and convenience that the DVR provided: for the first time, recording shows and watching them at a later time had become simpler than just turning on the TV and watching a show "live".

As previous posts have mentioned, my regular TV viewing has been whittled down to a handful of shows. However, an annoying number of them air on nights that I work, and the rest are cable shows with unpredictable timeslots.

Several of them have ongoing narratives that I would regret losing track of:

  • Heroes
  • Supernatural
  • Leverage
  • Burn Notice

Anybody out there recording any of those who might want to do a weekly-ish TV Couch Potato Party?

I've realized that much of our recent* increase in television viewing was due not just to a plethora of interesting programs, but to the ease and convenience that the DVR provided: for the first time, recording shows and watching them at a later time had become simpler than just turning on the TV and watching a show "live".

*"Recent" as in "over the last decade", not "over the last season or two", which has seen us dropping shows fairly rapidly, as my journal entries have discussed. It's now come into question just how much of that has really been due to increasing impatience with network offerings vs. increasing impatience with other matters in our lives.

(I also watch Castle and the Mentalist, but those are lighter shows less reliant on narrative, and I doubt anyone else out there's recording them.)

athelind: (Eye - VK)
[ profile] quelonzia and I sat down to watch our recording of the premiere of V last night.

Fans of the original series will not be disappointed: it was completely faithful to the original.

The acting was wooden, the scripting was heavy-handed, the motivations were weak, the characters were unlikable, and the glaring Plot Stupidity of the original was wholly intact.

We didn't get past the first half-hour.

Pity. I had high hopes, considering the cast was packed with veterans of some of the best SF shows of the last decade.

Now I'm kind of nostalgic for the first couple of seasons of Earth: Final Conflict.

athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent has no idea what he's gonna do to relax in the near future, because all the things he's frittered away his spare-and-not-so-spare time on over the years actively piss him off right now.

This is, in part, because he's frittered away so much of his life on them, and in part because, well, Busman's Holiday. One of his sources of stress is his low-paying retail job, selling all those time-consuming distractions.

athelind: (Default)
With [ profile] quelonzia back on a serious reading jag (thanks to her bionic lens replacement from last year), and Your Obedient Serpent working three nights a week, our TV habit is falling by the wayside once again. We drift in and out of it as seasons pass; recent years have been close to an all-time high for us, but now, scheduling, distractions, and the previously-mentioned ebb in SF-related shows have created the Perfect Storm of Turn Off The TV.

Today, we finally trimmed our timer list down to half-a-dozen regular-season shows -- and one of those may get dumped later:
  • Supernatural
  • Castle
  • The Mentalist
  • Flash Forward
  • Heroes
  • CSI: New York

Note that this is our regular season list; summer shows and half-season shows like Leverage, Burn Notice and Doctor Who are still on the list.

Shows that disappointed us or had become a chore to watch are gone. The survivors grabbed us, pulled us into their stories, made us laugh, or, in general, just made us happy to invite these people into our homes on a weekly basis.

CSI is gone; we've honestly just been watching it through inertia for a long time, and losing William Petersen last season -- while I liked Laurence Fishburne's character more than Quel did, we really watched the show for Grissom.

Criminal Minds is gone, because we just haven't found ourselves in the mood to watch it. We watched the opening, found it hard to follow (possibly because we tried watching it right after the Forgotten fried our brains with sheer tedium), and, after some procrastinating, realized that we just didn't care enough to push through it.

CSI: New York still has Gary Sinise, which is honestly why it made our list in the first place five years ago; at the moment, that's enough to keep us recording it... though we still haven't sat down to watch it this season.

I think that, after nine years, we're just plain burned out on forensics, profilers, getting into the heads of sick, twisted people, or diving into the bodies of just plain dead ones. Castle and The Mentalist are murder mysteries, but they get a pass because they're throwbacks to the Eccentric Detective Shows of the '70s and '80s. Quel and I enjoy watching Smart, Competent People do Smart, Competent Things*; that's why our pet procedurals got us watching in the first place. Over the years, though, they've focused less and less on the Smart People Being Smart, and more and more on the Twisted People Being Twisted.

And we're tired of inviting those people into our home.

*Yes, we also enjoy Heroes. Shut up. And don't even try to dis Supernatural here.
athelind: (Default)
After eight seasons, [ profile] queloniza has finally given up on Smallville, walking out at the 45-minute mark on the Season Premiere. "It finally jumped the shark," she said, though honestly, it's spent more time on the far side of the tank than an RV full of retirees spends in Florida.

I'm going to keep watching it, at least for a while; as someone who works in a comic book store, it's almost a job requirement. I thought Season 8 was a lot better than the previous two or three, despite the loss of Michael Rosenbaum as Lex (which, honestly, was Quel's real shark-jumping moment); Season 9, on the other claw, is starting off a bit rough.

Not many shows stay on the DVR timer long if only one of us is watching; the last one was Ghost Whisperer, which lost me at the Obvious Shark-Jumping Point last November; Quel stubbornly stuck with it, but didn't make it to the season finale.

Scoreboard thus far:

New Shows:
Flash Forward has our attention. Good cast, intriguing premise, lots of mystery.

The Forgotten failed to grab us by the 45-minute mark. It more than failed to grab us, really; much as we wanted to watch Christian Slater after the ignominious cancellation of the smarter, snappier version of Dollhouse, the show dragged, and we just couldn't see watching this band of amateurs bumble around week after week. The premise might have made a good movie, but as a weekly series, it seems contrived and implausible.

That's right, some one who's watched every single season of Smallville just accused a show of being contrived and implausible.

Eastwick may have hit a new record: we didn't make it to the 20-minute mark before deleting the timer.

We made it through the full premiere of The Vampire Diaries, but ultimately, it was just too teenybopper for us.

Returning Shows:
We'll be catching up on the premieres of our Police Procedurals on Sunday. As for the other shows on our current list:

Castle remains fun and fluffy. It's the kind of silly, throwback Cute Detective show that we'd normally roll our eyes and ignore, but, you know. Nathan Fillion.

Heroes looks like it's heading into its best season ever. The writers have finally fond their footing, and have a definite direction.

Finally... Supernatural continues to rock. It has never, ever jumped the shark; Sam and Dean just dove right into the tank and made sushi out of that bad boy.

athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
This is making the rounds of my Friends List; for those who haven't seen it yet, it's my turn to share.

I always said that Unca Carl was a poet.

athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Before this day is done, I felt I should acknowledge the anniversary of that unimaginable catastrophe that we all remember so clearly. Who doesn't remember where they were, what they were doing when they first heard the news, ten years ago today?

Here's to the brave men and women of Moonbase Alpha, wherever they might be.

athelind: (Default)
The replies to my previous post have pointed out a few shows that have eluded my notice -- or that I simply forgot about. I'm listing this partly so I remember what timers to set!

Defying Gravity is a 13-episode British/Canadian/USian co-production, following 8 astronauts on their six-year mission around the Solar System in the year 2052.

It started 02 August 2009 on ABC, and I didn't hear word one about it until this morning. This suggests that there's some glitch in the Buzz Network. Episodes are on Hulu, but.. gaaaah. Space stuff needs big screen. I won't watch postage stamps.

(Technically, it's a summer show, so it doesn't quite count toward the "dead fall" issue. But it's SF, and, crap, we all MISSED it!)

Flash Forward is one that I had heard about, and forgot: it revolves around an event in which everyone on Earth blacks out for over two minutes, and in the aftermath, it turns out that everyone has had a vision of their future, six months down the road. (It'll be interesting to see what they do after the show's been on for six months, and the visions either have or have not come true.)

It starts 24 September 2009, once again, on ABC.

ABC seems to be the go-to place for network SF this year: on 03 November 2009, they'll be treating us to a remake of the miniseries, V. I was never a fan of the original series, so my initial reaction was "meh" -- but then I remembered how everyone reacted to the news that they were remaking the velour-jumpsuit-and-robot-dog epic of the same era. One of the minds behind this revival also gave us The 4400, so I'm definitely tuning in.

Since I'm now watching everything else on ABC, I'm also going to tune into The Forgotten on 22 September 2009. It's "science fiction" in the same way CSI and Numb3rs are: it's fiction, about science. I'm going to give it a try just because it has Christian Slater, and I still miss My Own Worst Enemy.

(Hey, Quel and I started watching Castle just because it had Nathan Fillion in it.)

This is odd. It's not so much that Geek Chic has run its course -- it's just moved to a network that hasn't had much of anything to show in the SF genre in a long while.

(Of course, that could be evidence in and of itself that a trend is on its way out -- when the lowest-rated network finally jumps on the bandwagon.)

Did I mention that Eastwick is on ABC, too?

Over on NBC, Day One is going to start in the Spring, following good ol' Chuck. I don't know if it'll find any more success than NBC's last post-apocalyptic drama, but we'll give it a shot.

On Cable, BBC America has given us the summer show, Being Human. Quel and I have been enjoying it thoroughly, even though the premise sounds like a bar joke: "a vampire and a werewolf rent an apartment with a ghost..." It's only 6 episodes long, but a marathon's coming up this weekend, and it's also available On Demand for those who have access to such things.

And coming up on AMC:

A six-episode remake of one of my all-time favorite shows, The Prisoner. What this one lacks in pennyfarthing bikes and surreal Welsh architecture, it makes up for with Ian McKellan. I've seen an extensive trailer, and since I'm not particularly vulnerable to knee-jerk aversion to radical changes, it looks like it has potential.

Can't find a specific premiere date on that one, sorry.

athelind: (Default)
Wow, what a dead TV season. The only new Fall show that has even kind of gotten our interest is Eastwick, an adaptation of Guess What; The Human Target may be worth a peek, but it's not coming up until later in the season. I had to look all this up online, incidentally -- there's been no hype, no buzz, nothin' about the new season in my usual haunts.

The only word that really describes this is "abrupt". The last couple of years have been brimming with new shows that have, for one reason or another, gotten our extended social group and the blogosphere with which it intersects a-humming. This year, suddenly, nothin'.

Oh, there may be some ads that we fast-forward through on the few summer shows we watch, and the "First Look" adumentary reels in the movie theaters have hyped one or two new shows -- but nothing that really grabs us.

And it's not just us. Nobody's saying anything online about... anything. Not on LJ, not on FurryMUCK, not in the entertainment blogs I read.

I'm not sure if the Cater To The Geeks fad has faded; honestly, I didn't recognize many new non-SF shows on the schedule, either.

It's a dead season. Nobody cares. There's nothing to excite the fandom.

Or were there were just too many successful new shows in the last few seasons to make room for more this year?

Public Service Announcement: Those of you who feel the need to respond to any post about TV schedules with "I don't watch TV" will be soundly mocked before your posts get deleted.
athelind: (Default)

Walter Cronkite, Dead at 92

The man they called The Most Trusted Man in America -- and really, has anyone else come along worthy of the title come along since he retired? -- died today, in the middle of the the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that he covered so memorably.

He was a journalist, by God, and there are damned few of them left today, in the mainstream media or on the net.

The nation whose population depends on the explosively compressed headline service of television news can expect to be exploited by the demagogues and dictators who prey upon the semi-informed. -- Walter Cronkite, 1996

Good night, Uncle Walter.

athelind: (Default)
The Executive Producer of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles shares some reasoned, thoughtful comments about its cancellation.

athelind: (Default)
Watchmen, in brief:

Both [ profile] quelonzia and I really enjoyed it, demonstrating that it worked both as a movie, for someone unfamiliar with the story, and as an adaptation, for someone who's read it a dozen times or more since it came out.

There's a lot more I can say about it, but it only seems to come out in conversation. When I sit down to try and just write, I come up blank. That's why it's taken me two weeks to present even this much.

I will say that, in my estimation, Snyder made a good stab at examining the superhero movie in his own way, just as Moore and Gibbons scrutinized the superhero comic book all those years ago.

The Battlestar Galactica finale, also in brief:


Again, Quel and I both loved it -- and yes, we both cried. Long-standing questions were answered -- and others weren't. As far as I'm concerned, though, they picked the right questions to leave unanswered.

I also suspect that this ending may be close to the one that Glen Larson really intended for the original series.

athelind: (Default)
[ profile] quelonzia and I just watched the first 45 minutes of Dollhouse.

We didn't bother with the last 15.

The MacGuffin for the pilot episode was a hostage negotiation. If they'd done the same "engagement" on Burn Notice or Leverage, there would have been a lot less twiddling, and a lot more Smart People Doing Smart Things, quite possibly punctuated by explosions. Even a fairly mundane police procedural like Law & Order would have mustered more tension.

Sure, this was a pilot, and had to spend some time to establish the premise -- but My Own Worst Enemy hit the ground running in its opener, while presenting an equally-complex, somewhat less "arty" premise in a way that should be the textbook chapter of "show, don't tell".

Our combined assessment: Joss is too in love with his Brilliant Idea to actually tell a story with it.

I, on the other claw, have been "meh" about that premise since I first heard about it months ago.

I keep thinking that maybe I'm just disappointed because it was so hyped up, and didn't measure up to the hype -- but, frankly, if Joss Whedon's name hadn't been attached to it, I wouldn't have bothered to tune in in the first place.

And now I won't.

Oh, and I'm sorry if I was too busy being bored to notice if Dollhouse was "sexist".
By the way, you can watch all 9 episodes of My Own Worst Enemy at NBC's web site. Ding DING ding.

athelind: (Default)
I'm finding it hard to get excited about Joss Whedon's new show, Dollhouse.

The premise is very, very close to the recently-canceled Christian Slater vehicle, My Own Worst Enemy -- without the promise of that show's continually-evolving character dynamic, and the wonderful interaction (via cell-hone video messages) between Slater's two personas.

Yes, everyone's sure that the Dollhouse story arc will involve the system breaking down, and "Echo" slowly retaining memories between downloads. Enemy started with the breakdown, dropping you right into the middle of things as poor schlub Henry finds himself in the middle of his super-spy alter-ego's anarchic existence.

Please note that I was somewhat "meh" about Dollhouse's premise even before I'd started watching Enemy.

[ profile] quelonzia and I will give Dollhouse a try, but I may find myself in the unlikely position of wishing I was watching Christian Slater instead of Eliza Dushku.

Yes, I know, after snarking on the shows we DROPPED, I never got around to posting about the new shows we LIKED this season. And now one of them's gone.
athelind: (Default)
Derives from the 1976 revival of The Liar's Club, one of the "celebrity panel" game shows that were so popular in the Avocado Age. TLC's gimmick was to hand an obscure, odd-looking tool, device or gadget to the "celebrities"; each one, in turn, would describe its function.

Only one, of course, would actually be telling the truth, and it fell to the contestants to decide whose story was most plausible.

As I recall, the very first object in the very first episode of the revival was this... thing... that looked more or less like a loop of barbed wire, with sharp spikes facing outward. One of the celebrities insisted that it was, in fact, a Mongoose Collar, and, after initial guffaws, spun an entertaining and entirely plausible tale about how, in India, the household mongoose would wear one of these to repel the deadly bite of the cobras they were kept to hunt.

The object turned out to be some kind of wool-comb for spinning, if memory serves, but for the rest of the episode, "mongoose collar" became a running gag, used (jokingly) to describe every other object presented in subsequent rounds.

Thus, a Mongoose Collar is:
  1. A gizmo, gadget, or thingamajig of indeterminate purpose or provenance; or
  2. An unlikely, implausible or blatantly incorrect answer chosen completely at random.

athelind: (Default)
Leverage is the best show ever.

They can stop making TV now. They're done.

I love caper movies, and the first two eps of this show are two of the best I've seen.

And it's very much a Gamer's Show. You'll be writing up character sheets for the PCs, um, protagonists before the first commercial break.

Really, I LOVE this show.

athelind: (Default)
Let's set the WABAC machine to Thanksgiving of 1978, thirty years ago; the place, Cincinatti, Ohio:

Those of you with no patience should just fast-forward to the 18 minute mark.

They should rerun this every year, like they do with the Charlie Brown specials.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Oh, and something else to be thankful for.
athelind: (Default)
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It's a tie between Gomez and Morticia Addams... and Melinda Gordon and Jim Clancy of The Ghost Whisperer.

Besides a touch of the eerie, the Addamses and the Clancy-Gordons have one thing in common: they're passionate, loving, supportive, and largely free of the tedious relationship angst of most TV relationships.

athelind: (Default)
Wow. The Eleventh Hour scored a new record. [ profile] quelonzia and I almost killed it before the opening credits. I don't think we made it a full three minutes past them, though. The no-holds-barred, unequivocal stridency of HUMAN CLONING IS BAD BAD BAD pissed us off instantly. Hearing "abomination" tossed around lightly sets both of our teeth on edge.

It just seemed like the rationale was "cloning is illegal, so it must be bad". It's like it was trying to provide a fictionalized support for the Administration's anti-research stance in the same way that they use 24 to justify their enthusiasm for torture.

So that's four new genre shows down.

And, yeah, part of it is that we simply have too many hours of television programmed into the DVR -- even with all we've dumped, we still have 14 hours a week recording.

Well, that assumes that we don't drop My Own Worst Enemy and Crusoe after we see their premieres.

athelind: (Default)
The Emergency Back-Up Doctor Who Recording worked just fine. [ profile] quelonzia and I just watched the finale.

And now we're all weepy. =)

Russell T. Davies is pretty much forgiven for any less-than-stellar scripts. This was magnificently over-the-top and epic, and if it lacked some coherency here and there, well, somehow, that just contributed to the glorious madness of it all.

So now, what... no new Who for two years?

athelind: (Default)
So, last week, we recorded Doctor Who on the DVR, but, since it was the first part of a two-parter, we didn't watch it right away. Instead, we saved it for tonight, so we could watch all three hours of the season finale back to back.

So, we sit through the first hour. Whee! Yeah, it's effin' Daleks again, and Rose Tyler is more Mary Sue than ever, but it's fun and frenzied and ends on a terrific cliffhanger.

So... we start the recording of tonight's episode... and it's all jerky and full of digital artifacts and we keep losing important dialogue.

So, I hastily set up the DVR to record the show again, at midnight, on Sci Fi's low-def, West Coast feed.

So, hopefully, THAT won't get fucked up.

athelind: (Default)
Over the weekend, [ profile] dutchmouse offered his picks for The Top Ten Defining Star Trek Moments, and asked his readers to offer theirs.

DEFINING moments? Dutch's starting point was the big-screen movies... and for me, Star Trek had already been well-defined by the time V'ger came looking for its creator.

Needless to say, I soon came up with moments enough to fill my own Top Ten:

  1. Kirk and Spock in a fight to the death, with Spock in the throes of Pon Farr. (Dun dun DUNN DUNN DUNN DUNN dun dundun DUN dun!)
  2. Spock, mind-melded with the Medusan navigator, grinning broadly and greeting his old friends as if seeing them for the first time... which it is.
  3. "HaaaaarCOURT! Harcourt Fenton MUDD, what have you been up to?"
  4. Apollo, drifting into nothingness, calling to Zeus and Hera to take him with them into oblivion. "Would it have hurt us so much to light a fire, and gather just a few laurel leaves?"
  5. "NO KILL I"
  6. "I could have saved her! Do you know what you just did?" "He knows, Doctor. He knows."
  7. Kirk kitbashing a crude firearm out of natural mineral deposits and scrap -- and then refusing to finish off his downed opponent. Oh, and Vasquez Rocks!
  8. Evil Twin Goatees.
  9. Kirk, teaching an exotically beautiful alien gladiator how to kiss.
  10. And, of course:

LJ on JL

Oct. 11th, 2002 10:49 pm
athelind: (Default)
I like the Justice League cartoon -- most of the time. Some of the episodes fall flat, but others just make me sit back and say "Wow." Even the best of the best, though, don't quite hit every note perfectly.

The latest episode, "Metamorpho", provides a splendid example. I loved it, over all. The central characters, Rex Mason and Simon Stagg, looked exactly like Ramona Fradon's artwork in those original '60s adventures. (More about Metamorpho!)

(Sapphire Stagg, Our Hero's love interest, wound up looking like Generic Bruce Timm Female #2 (Blonde), but that's another rant entirely.)

The complete change in the character's origin wasn't unexpected, and made for a very solid piece of storytelling.

They handled Rex's powers wonderfully. He took full advantage of his abilities, used them in an elegant combination of his classic bits and new, interesting and unexpected applications. Silver-Age characters like Metamorpho thrived on coming up with creative new ways of using their powers.

(I found it a bit annoying that they never quite explained the powers -- the ability to turn himself into any element or compound found in the human body. An old Silver Age fan like Your Obedient Serpent always liked the exposition about the nature of Metamorpho's abilities and what element he used to create what effect, and why. I suspect that those comic-book factoids influenced my lifelong ambition to go into the sciences... but I digress. As usual.)

In short, they treated Rex as a fully-capable, highly-adaptable, competent individual capable of making full use of flexible, adaptable abilities.

Exactly how they fail to treat the regular cast.

JL's version of J'onn J'onnz, for instance, seems to be the love child of Worf and Deanna Troi. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf spent a lot of time getting beaten up any time the writers wanted to show how tough the Alien Of The Week was. In fact, he spent more time getting beaten up than he did beating other people up. On Justice League, J'onn only gets to show off his telepathy when the writers want to show what utterly impressive mental abilities the Guest Villain of the Week has. The erstwhile Martian Manhunter spends much of his time dropping to his knees clutching his temples, much like Commander Troi.

This week, we finally see J'onn do some real shapeshifting. Until now, he's just assumed other humanoid shapes. Of course, he only manages to get his ass handed to him again just to show that This Week's Guest Star Is Tougher.

J'onn isn't the only one who forgets his powers except in situations where they'd be worse than useless. Big Blue himself gets short shrift most of the time -- and this from people who wrote an entire show around him, and have shown a keen understanding of just how to use Powers And Abilities Far Beyond Those Of Mortal Men. Hey, Supes! While you're standing there just staring at Giant Monster Of The Week marching down the streets of Metropolis, maybe you could stare at it with some of that heat vision?

Meanwhile, this incarnation of John Stewart has to be the least-imaginative person ever to sling a ring. Fly, Zap, Bubble. Fly, Zap, Bubble. Fly, Zap, Bubble. I never thought anything could make me miss Happy Hal and his silly green boxing gloves. Look! Sapphire's plummeting to her doom! I could just make a glowing green grabber or a glowing green net or a glowing green Carmine Infantino hand, but nooooo, I'll fly down and grab her!

And what about teamwork? You know, those barely-pubescent versions of the X-Men over on Evolution could probably whip this JL, simply because they make a token effort at coordinating their powers.

"Hey, GL! Maybe your Wonder Ring can help your non-flying buddy get up to where the action is?" "Nah, I'll just stand here on the roof looking grim."

"Hey! Maybe we could, like, try to hit the thing all at once, or one of us could distract it while the others hit it at different angles!" "Nah, let's just hit it one at a time, like the throw-away thugs in a bad Hong Kong kick flick, so we can get tossed aside just as handily."

I hear the writers are afraid of the sheer power of the characters becomind Deus Ex Machinas. Well, you know, if you've established the ground rules and the powers from the start, they aren't a Deus Ex Machina. If you don't make use of the powers that have been established, the viewer feels cheated and wonders why the character didn't use his or her full abilities. Even the best episodes of Justice League leave the impression that Our Heroes are a bunch of barely-competent dilletantes who can't even keep track of their own abilities, much less work effectively in a group.

The thing that really underscored the candy-ass treatment of Our Heroes this time was that they wrote Rex so well. He made masterful use of his powers, fresh out of the test tube. Hell, he came very close to kicking all their asses soundly from Gotham to Metropolis and back by way of Central City.

I signed on for the World's Greatest Superheros, not for the Inferior Five Plus Two.

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