Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Goodbye Final Space

For the last few days, I have been binge-watching an animated science fiction show called Final Space.  

Early shows have more emphasis on comedy, but this evolved into a semi-serious science fiction show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFg3ljZF2kA

Olan Rogers is the creator, director, producer, and voice actor.


Here is the short unaired pilot.  It looks more primitive than the actual show, and the plot is a little different.


Saturday, November 27, 2021

I remember really liking the 2000 TV series, Dark Angel. This show introduced Jessica Alba who has gone on to do many movie roles.
 
The complicated premise is that America is damaged by EMP, leading to a financial collapse. Children genetically altered to be supersoldiers escape a secret lab in Washington state. One of them survives to grow up in Seattle and teams up with an underground resistance movement to fight corruption and evil. She is being hunted by government actors who would like to get their supersoldiers back.

The show was fairly successful.

I tried to rewatch the pilot. The problem with many older shows, especially cheaply made ones, is that they are full of cliched and stereotyped characters. There are also a bunch of mediocre fight scenes and stunts. I might have thought that this was good 21 years ago, but it seems not very good now.

I might try more episodes, but I am not optimistic.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Best of the Eleventh Doctor





Since Doctor Who is a show that has been on and off TV since 1963, the main character has been played by 14 different actors.  If the character is mortally wounded or is dying for some other reason, his body is able to "regenerate" into a different actor.

Since he is a time traveler, he sometimes runs into different versions of himself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjfZ1Zmq7LQ&t=2861s

This show was epic about 10 years ago.  Then it went into a slow decline.  However, the newest season seems to have turned it around.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Returned


First, there was the 2004 French movie "Les Revenants" ("The Returned") about people coming back to life in a small French town.  This movie was also marketed as "They Came Back."  It is a slow burn.  The pace of the film is mildly sleep-inducing.  The movie seems to be a parable about mass immigration.  The resurrected have their own agenda, start colluding among themselves, but eventually vanish.  For me, the film seems pointless.  It has a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but only a 42% audience score.


Then there was the 2012 French TV adaption "Les Revenants" and this was a huge hit in Europe. The first season has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  It has a creepiness to it that creates an incredible amount of suspense.  It also has more nudity and violence than what you would find in an American TV show.  It feels a bit like a soap opera.  Once again, the resurrected have their own agenda and collude amongst themselves.  Perhaps they are wanting to make everyone else like them, i.e. dead, but by the end of the first season, I had no idea where this show was going.  I was unable to find the second season with English subtitles, so I don't know what the second season is like, but it has a 95% rating on Rotten tomatoes.


The French TV series was so influential that two similar American series were created.  The first is the 2014 series "Resurrection", starring Omar Epps.  Other than having the same basic premise, the story is completely different.  It is based upon a 2013 novel called "The Returned."   I can't find a connection between this novel and the French series.

It is about a government investigation into people being resurrected in the small town of Arcadia. Eventually, the government becomes paranoid about people rising from the dead and tries to quarantine them.  I had lost interest by the second season, but both seasons have good reviews on Internet Movie DataBase.  The series has a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


In 2015, the network A&E adapted the French series calling it "The Returned."  It is noticeably tamer than the French version, but otherwise, it is a scene-by-scene copy of the French series.  As such it is entertaining but lacks some of the creepiness that made the first series so suspenseful  I liked it, but unfortunately, it was canceled after one season.  It has a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

There was also a 2013 zombie movie called "The Returned" that has nothing to do with any of the shows above. It has a 58% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is somewhat entertaining.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Foundation


My feeling about the ten episode first season of Foundation is that it is too short. It is like a science-fiction soap opera, with much political intrigue, so naturally, I want to see where it is going. The problem is that it takes its time getting there, and after ten episodes it just ends. We will have to wait 9 or 10 months for the second season.

The story only barely resembles the much-loved books that it is based on. The production values are really high, which means that someone is spending a ton of money on this show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words



Thumbs up for the HBO documentary "Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words".  It is mostly based off of Nixon's recorded phone conversations along with a few speeches.  It shows the ugly side of Nixon, where he engages in slurs, attacks different people as enemies, employs dirty tricks, and uses the full power of the Presidency to get his way.

I have to wonder how selective the documentary is?  You could make anyone look bad by only showing their worst moments.

I get the impression that Nixon was self-righteous in his beliefs.  Anything that deviated from what he thought was right he attacked with full force, whether it be communism, leftists, peaceniks, drugs, homosexuality, or certain ethnic groups.  When The Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a man of Jewish ancestry, Nixon claimed that all the Jews were spies and traitors by their very nature.  Not a nice guy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Manhatten

 


Manhatten is a two-year 2014 series that aired on WGN America about the Manhattan Project.  It is available on Hulu.

I have a low tolerance for shows and movies that distort history.  Often this is done to push a political agenda, where the writers want to spin the past to their liking.  In the case of Manhattan, the show takes place in a kind of alternate universe full of spy scandals and sexual intrigue.  Almost all the characters are fictional having nothing to do with real history.  As such, Manhatten is soap opera disguised as a historical drama.  I am concerned that people might think that these events were real when almost none of them were.

Much of the made-up drama, which is at least half the show, I find boring.  The spy-related stuff is pretty good.  There is some actual science that I find interesting.

Why anyone would want to make a show like this?  Who is the audience?  It is one thing to have fictional historical drama in something like "Master and Commander", but the Manhattan Project was a major historical event that they completely fictionalize here.

The 1989 movie "Fat Man and Little Boy" had mixed reviews, but at least it was more historically accurate.



Monday, November 1, 2021

Doctor Who Season 13 starts with a bang

 


Seasons 11 and 12 of Doctor Who with Jodi Whitaker have been below average at best, but the very short season 13 has gotten off with a bang, albeit a messy and confusing one. There are too many plotlines. Regardless, the first episode is a wild ride.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Foundation, Raised by Wolves, and Dune

 



Foundation, Raised by Wolves, and even the new Dune movie which just covers part 1 of the first Dune novel, are all serial.  They all involve war between different factions.  As such, they feel like science-fiction soap operas, although pretty good ones.  Perhaps they were inspired by "Game of Thrones" which was hugely successful as a series.  Raised by Wolves is particularly adept at ending every episode on a cliffhanger, making you want to immediately watch the next episode.  However, Foundation is also good at this.

I get a sense of deja-vu while watching these. They all hit the same notes.  I wonder what is really different between them?  Mostly the character names and the background stories.  Otherwise, it is the same struggle.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Foundation: Death and the Maiden Betrays Asimov's Sci-Fi Books

"Isaac Asimov's Foundation books aren't Star Wars, or at least they're not supposed to be. They're not filled with burgeoning heroes, foreboding villains, laser swords, funky aliens, or even much action and adventure, really. They're about math and science and a 1,000-year attempt to save and rebuild civilization after its collapse. That is why Foundation has so often been referred to as unfilmable, and apparently why Apple's Foundation TV series has completely stopped trying.

There are a lot—a lot—of ways the TV series has differed from the books since it premiered, but I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt as showrunner David S. Goyer attempts to add the necessary amount of drama and coherence to keep modern audiences interested and invested in a story that was once dubbed the greatest science fiction series of all time. But this week's episode on Apple TV+, "Death and the Maiden," is a Star Destroyer too far.

Because that's what Foundation has suddenly introduced, really. A giant warship so powerful it will let the Anachreons defeat everything the Galactic Empire can throw at it. It's a sci-fi mega-weapon, just like the Death Star,"

I read the Foundation books so long ago that I barely remember them.  I think that they were more cerebral than they were cinematic.  So far the TV series barely resembles the books, but maybe that is a good thing.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Which is the most attractive "Dr. Who" companion?

I was never thrilled with the look of "Rose" actress Billie Piper. 



She hasn't particularly aged well...







However, I really love the look of Karen Gillan as Amy Pond.


I love how Karen Gillan's cousin Catlin Blackwood played the young version of Amy Pond.



Now Catlin Blackwood looks like her much more famous cousin.



Although she wasn't my favorite at first, Jenna Coleman has won me over with her beauty.





Doctor Who


Episodes of Doctor Who usually follow the same pattern:  

1.  Something bad happens either on Earth or somewhere else.
2.  The Doctor tries to figure what is causing the bad thing.  
3.  The Doctor figures out a way to defeat whatever it is that is causing the bad thing.

Mostly these are "Monster of the Week" episodes, which is a familiar pattern for many other shows, like science fiction, or Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or Smallville which very much copied its formula from Buffy.  

One would think that this would get very repetitive, and to some extent it does, but what Doctor Who does well is come up with new interesting monsters.  Season 3 Episode 10 of the rebooted series introduced "The Weeping Angels", which are aliens disguised as statues who only attack when you are not looking.  The episode, which is titled "Blink", is regarded as the best of the entire series.  It is scary and creepy and told almost completely from the perspective of a guest character.



However, we can't just watch "Monster of the Week" episodes all the time and maintain our interest.  The show is better when it follows storylines that span multiple episodes or even multiple seasons.  This is where seasons 5 through 7 staring Matt Smith as the Doctor feel really epic.  It had plotlines spanning one or more seasons.  On the other hand, seasons 2 through 4 with David Tennant didn't have as many long-term stories but the show benefited from very strong writing.

I have complained about the later seasons going rapidly downhill, but this is not entirely true.  The first year with Peter Capaldi, season 8, was not as good, but the next two seasons were much better.

However, seasons 11 and 12 with Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor are a mixed bag.  There is just enough there to hold my interest, but the show feels weaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall publically admits that he is trying to use the show to push his political agendas.  A short 6 episode season 13 will premier at the end of this month, after which both Jodie Whitaker and Chris Chibnall are leaving the show.  

Fans were delighted to hear that Russel T. Davies will be coming back as showrunner, as he is the one who rebooted the series in 2005.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

10 Best Seasons Of (New) Doctor Who, Ranked By IMDB Average



https://screenrant.com/new-doctor-who-best-seasons-ranked-imdb/

We may not have many Doctor Who fans here.

I wrote previously that I missed the days when this show was truly extraordinary, which seemed to peak about 10 years ago, but essentially all of the seasons 2 through 7 which I just rewatched on HBO Max. (It is mostly downhill after that.)

The IMDB user rankings seem to prefer the David Tennet seasons 2 through 4, but I think that the show was more epic with the Matt Smith seasons 5 through 7. The latter seasons developed more long-term plots with fewer episodic "Monster of the week" stories.

The Doctor's traveling companions are a significant part of the show. Although it is a matter of taste, my favorite is Amelia Pond played by Marvel actress Karen Gillan in seasons 5 through 7. However, I also really like Clara Oswald in season 7 played by Jenna Coleman.

https://gamerant.com/doctor-who-best-companions/

https://www.cbr.com/doctor-who-best-episodes-imdb/

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Doctor Who

I was missing Doctor Who. It has had 12 seasons since 2005. The show is still on, but it was extremely good 10 years ago and now it is far from it. It is available on HBO Max, but I also have copies of it in 480P, which is a lower resolution but surprisingly good looking.

I decided to rewatch seasons 5 to 7, which are the excellent Matt Smith years which also have an epic story. The arc begins with 2 episodes in season 4 which I also watched. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silence_in_the_Library 

I may go back and rewatch the other episodes later.

--
Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Fwd: Star Wars Series



The Bad Batch first season ended up very good.  The next to last episode, part 1 of 2, was fantastic, although part 2 was just okay for the season finale.  There has been a progression of Star Wars TV series, starting with The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, The Mandalorian (fantastic!), and The Bad Batch that have mostly improved over time.  These tie in well with the movies, and each other. They add storylines and characters from the books and the comics. In the coming year, we are getting The Book of Boba Fett, Asoka, and Kenobi series. These seem to be building to some sort of Marvel-like conclusion that may or may not tie in with the next movie.

BTW, the Marvel series Loki was very interesting.

BTW, it has been reported that George Lucas was going to make Darth Maul the villain of the sequel trilogy before Disney scrapped his plans and went with their own.  The Clone Wars series revealed that he survived and he turns up at the end of the movie Solo.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Star Wars: The Complete Canon Timeline (2021)

This is the complete Star Wars timeline.  It involves books, comics, video games, TV series, and movies.  I have watched all of the TV series, most of which are quite good.  The only one that I am not thrilled with is "Star Wars Resistance" which is more kid-friendly.



Saturday, August 7, 2021

Star Wars: The Bad Batch



I thought maybe I was watching the season finale of "Star Wars: The Bad Batch", but it is the penultimate episode. They have done an extraordinarily good job with this series. This series also connects well to the other Star Wars stories.

I just found out that the series has been renewed for a second season. Many people thought that this might just be a one-season show.

Hollywood vs Fans - Everybody Loses

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Star Trek - It's Dead, Jim


I think that Star Trek Discovery is passable entertainment.   Much of it is good, although parts of it are too woke.  I feel less attached to Star Trek Picard, but it barely keeps my interest  Both shows break with the more optimistic vision of Star Trek that Gene Roddenberry had.  They are more gritty.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Epic Fail! Dr Who Lead Jodie Whittaker QUITS After Legendary Poor Ratings!


"Go woke, go broke."

About 11 years ago this show was epic.  It had fantastic writing.  However, it was all downhill from there.  

I gave up after one season of Jodie Whittaker.  The problem is not the female Doctor, which sounded exciting at first, but the terrible writing.  They damaged the show by abandoning cannon and changing the history by inserting wokeness.  They claimed that the original Doctor was female, which destroys the entire history of the series going back to the year 1960!

They can only fix this with some sort of reboot.  It was all a dream.  A nightmare.



Monday, July 26, 2021

John Adams (miniseries)

 
If you like history or historical dramas, then the HBO miniseries John Adams is a feast of historical drama.  It is essentially an 8 hour movie about John Adam's life.  The performance by Paul Giamatti as Adams is great, and I am delighted by the performance of Laura Linney as Abigail Adams.  The supporting performances are also really good, although I wondered about some of the casting choices that didn't seem quite right to me.  There is David Morse as George Washington, Danny Huston as Samuel Adams, Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin, and Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton.  I have seen all these actors in very different roles, usually playing villains or less than likable characters, so all of them being cast as the founding fathers of our country surprised me.

Benjamin Franklin described John Adams as, "He means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes, and in some things, absolutely out of his senses."  This is the essence of John Adams; his passions got the better of him.  History relegated Adams to a back seat compared to the other founding fathers, but he was one of the most passionate about Independence and a driving force behind the American Revolution.  He was a very serious man, which is why his commission to France in 1777 didn't go well.  Franklin arrived before Adams and knew how to fit in with the fun-loving and relaxed French aristocracy, but Adams felt completely out of place and kind of looked like a fool compared to the more suave Franklin.

The politics of the early United States immediately divided into two factions that became separate political parties.  Jefferson wanted a limited government with an emphasis on freedom.  Hamilton wanted a strong federal government with a powerful central bank.  Although John Adams sided with the Federalists, his actions were more moderate and he tried to stay in the middle of the two sides.  During his tenure as President, both sides were eager to get involved with the war between France and England, with the Jeffersonians siding with France, and Hamiltonians siding with England.  To John Adams' credit, he struggled against both sides to keep America out of what he thought would be a disastrous war.  This was to his detriment because he lost his 1800 reelection bid to Jefferson.

Adams and Jefferson started as close friends.  However in the 1800 election, Jefferson went out of his way to attack Adams' character, so the two men became estranged.  In their retirement, the two men wrote to each other and their friendship blossomed again with 14 years of correspondence.  Both men died on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence.  Adams' final words were, "Jefferson survives", but he did not know that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

The miniseries kept its cost down by mostly showing events from John Adam's perspective.  A more theatrical version would have shown the many battles of the revolution, but this series bypasses most of that.  This has the advantage of keeping the story on a more personal level.

I have a low tolerance for historical dramas that rewrite history.  In the second episode, there is a "tar and feather" incident that is completely fictional.  The scene is there to emphasize the passions of the American Colonists against the British occupying forces, but there should be no need to make up history.

Fortunately, the entire miniseries works as a great drama with much interesting history thrown in.

Rating:  A-.