Sunday, April 18, 2021

10 Mind-Blowing Battlestar Galactica Facts You Didn't Know

New Battlestar Galactica is a "Punch to the Gut" for Tricia Helfer

I think that the 2003 Battlestar Galactica is one of the best shows that I have ever seen.  I have rewatched it a couple of times.  

My only complaint is that the early episodes try excessively to play up the sex appeal of certain characters, like the actress Tricia Helfer, and after rewatching the series a couple of times then this starts to feel like a gimmick.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Stranger Things

I've been somewhat skimming through Stranger Things on Netflix streaming.   The show as presented seems too slow to me.  I don't care about some of the characters, and the 80's E.T./The Goonies feel seems cheesy to me.  However, the story is interesting enough that I want to see where it is going.

The show has a similar feel to "The X-files", which I tried to watch years ago, but I concluded that the show was going nowhere fast.  The producers of "The X-Files" later admitted that their goal was to keep the audience in the dark for as long as possible.

Since the main characters are like 12-year-old boys, which gives the show its cuteness, it wouldn't take many seasons for these kids to lose their cuteness.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Remember warming up the TV before watching it?

For those who don't remember, on powering up really old televisions the image would start as a dot in the middle of the screen, and then expand. It might only take a couple of seconds to a few seconds to reach full size. The reason for this is that old televisions used vacuum tubes instead of transistors, and these needed warming up. I remember going to a repair shop that had dozens of different types of tubes for replacement parts.

Sometime in the mid-1970s, manufacturers began to advertise televisions that were "Instant On". Since many of these TV's still used vacuum tubes, I noticed that these TV's kept some of the vacuum tubes powered up even when the TV was "off". I could tell because most vacuum tubes glowed. Many old televisions had heat vents toward the back and an orange glow would emanate from these vents. It would light up the wall behind my television.  The TV also put out a great deal of heat.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Raised by Wolves TV series

I want to talk briefly about the HBO series Raised by Wolves available on the HBO Max streaming service. On HBO Max, I couldn't tell how many episodes there are, or even if there is more than one, which is a problem I think with their service. I had to look the show up on Wikipedia to find out. I thought that maybe it was a two-hour movie, but the first season has 10 roughly 50-minute episodes and a second season is also planned.

The premise is that after a religious war has destroyed Earth, two androids, called Mother and Father, land on Keppler-22b, which is a real planet about 60 light-years from Earth. They start a settlement using human embryos to create several children. Unfortunately, only one survives. The androids do not believe in religion because they were created by the atheist faction of the war, but their settlement is threatened by the religious faction when a large ship called an "Ark" arrives and also wants to settle on Keppler-22b. The two sides are immediately in conflict with each other. It turns out that Mother is also a powerful and very deadly war robot.

The first episode sets up the premise so slowly that I was thinking that I wasn't going like this show, but when the religious faction shows up things get going in a big way. The way the story is presented, neither side is particularly evil, but the two sides just don't get along. (If they would just agree to live together then there wouldn't be much of a story.)

I think that the show follows a formula that makes it very addicting. The series is mostly a soap opera, which is true of many science fiction shows, and this drags out the story, but every episode has one startling revelation and some sort of cliffhanger. This couldn't be a more addicting combination. They give you just barely enough story in each episode to keep you wanting more. Sometimes the plot seems thin, but it is the kind of series that makes you want to binge-watch. Since the show also has many flashbacks, the format is similar to LOST.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Lost (TV series)

Lost has regularly been ranked by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time.  The first season had an estimated average of 16 million viewers per episode on ABC. During its sixth and final season, the show averaged over 11 million U.S. viewers per episode. Lost was the recipient of hundreds of industry award nominations throughout its run and won numerous of these awards, including the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2005, Best American Import at the British Academy Television Awards in 2005, the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama in 2006, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Kualoa Ranch - Google Maps

69 Farrington Hwy - Google Maps

A YMCA camp served as the housing for the "others" antagonist characters on the TV show LOST.  In the series, it appears to be a remote location, but it is actually next to a road.,-158.224412,3a,75y,215.16h,80.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1san2u66Gw2axJq84MgUSVoQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Lost Survivors Beach Camp

Mash film location

Friday, March 26, 2021


Senet is the world's oldest known board game and is likely the precursor of Backgammon.  It is a game of chance where you try to reach the number one spot before your opponent, but you also have to get your other "pawns" behind your leading man.

Most websites admit that they don't know for sure what the rules were and that the rules probably changed over time.  I have heard that the game was based on a chariot race.

The game of Senet is featured in a last-season episode of LOST, which bookends the first episode where Locke tells Walt that Backgammon is the world's oldest board game dating back thousands of years.  He tells Walt that there are two sides, one light, and one dark, which we are lead to believe is maybe a reference to Locke being white and Walt being black, but this conversation actually foreshadows the final season which is a battle between the supernatural forces of good and evil.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Stand 2020 vs. The Stand 1994

Comparing the 2020 CBS All Access miniseries of Stephen King's most popular novel, The Stand, to the 1994 ABC miniseries of the same novel, I like the 1994 version a little better.
The original series doesn't look as good. It looks like it was filmed in the 1980s or the 1970s.
Despite the new series having a higher production quality, I have a few problems with it. The pacing starts out really slow. It takes longer to tell the same story. However, it redeems itself in the last three episodes which are really good. The final episode is nothing but epilogue, but very intriguing.
My biggest problem with the new series is the adult content. There is quite a bit of nudity and other mature content, which can be okay, but I don't think that it works here. There is so much of it that it serves as a distraction, and doesn't seem to add much to the story. Perhaps if they had toned it down a little then it would have worked better.
Both miniseries tell a very good story. The original had a kind of creepy tone that worked well, and I think that the characters were better.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Daniel Jackson Teased for a NEW Stargate Series

In the past, I always thought of Stargate SG-1 as being on the low end of Sci-Fi shows.  However, I kept going back to it.  I have watched the entire Stargate SG-1 series at least three times, and at least a couple of times for the spin-off series.  (Stargate Atlantis is really good.)  I came to realize that this is a really good show.  It is mostly the characters that kept me coming back, but there are also some surprisingly excellent story arcs. 

The show is significantly better than the movie it is based on.  Some of the early episodes in season 1 are not the best, but then the series gets consistently good.  There are very few bad episodes in the entire ten-season run.

I had a similar experience with Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  It has the best set of characters of any Star Trek Series.  These characters feel like long-lost friends.  Some of the episodes are kind of hit or miss, but more hits than misses.  The series is less serial than other shows, and that hurts it a little bit.

In passing, I should mention Babylon-5.  I don't think that the characters are as good as Deep Space Nine, although still good.  It looks lower budget, but it has some really impressive story arcs.  The overall story is more complicated than most shows.  Season 1 was a little rough.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Ask Adam Savage: How Lead Balloon Changed MythBusters

Cutting to the chase, after 10 minutes and 40 seconds, Adam Savage gets to the point:

Stephen King's THE STAND - 1994 - HD

Just in time for 2020, Steven King's pandemic novel The Stand was adapted to a TV series by CBS All Access.  However, the 1994 TV version of this story is higher rated.  Some critics say that the new version a bit of a mess, although about half of the critics call it passable entertainment.  

I watched some of the 1994 version, but I didn't get to finish it...

Thursday, March 4, 2021

there will Never Ever be another Simpsons episode like Homer's Enemy

I had seen at least part of the episode "Homer's Enemy", but never gave it much thought.

I only on rare occasion watch the Simpsons, but I enjoy it, and I especially enjoyed the early years.  I had never seen the show until I had a chance in the 1990s to work a little on a Simpsons videogame, so I took an interest in it.  

There is an almost universal consensus that starting with Season 9 Episode 2, "The Principal and the Pauper", with an absurd storyline about Principal Skinner being an imposter, the show went into decline.  

I am amazed that the show has lasted 32 seasons.  In one of the episodes celebrating something like the 500th episode, there is some text in the end credits that says, "Think of all the things you could have accomplished if you hadn't watched this show."

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Friday, February 26, 2021

Sliders cast are 'talking' about a revival of the cult '90s sci-fi series

This was an example of a show that got messed up by the TV Network fiddling with it.  The first season was pretty good and the second season was okay, but then they made big changes to it at the request of the network, and it went downhill.  I did watch the whole thing, a couple of times, and I enjoyed most of it.  I have recently taken an interest in the show again because it airs on Comet TV, although I pretty much hate to watch anything on that network because they broadcast at 480i.   I also have come to hate watching commercials when I have so many ways to watch shows without commercials.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Why You Rarely Hear About Sarah Michelle Gellar

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a far better show than most people realize.  The first season was a mid-season replacement series with a predictable low budget making it not that special, but the show started to get really good around the middle of season 2.  Then seasons 3, 4, 5, and 6 had rare moments of absolute genius, mainly because Josh Whedon tried experimental ideas not seen in other TV series up to that point.  There are a couple of episodes that could be candidates for the best TV episode ever.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Disney+ streaming service (recommended)

I have to recommend the Disney+ streaming service, which has virtually all the Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar content.  Pixar's latest movie, Soul, was much to my liking.  Because of COVID, it was only available on Disney+.

I had to purchase an Amazon Fire Stick to be able to watch Disney+ on my TV, because apparently you can't add new services to my Phillips "smart" TV.  However, I usually just watch it on my computer anyway.  

Ahsoka Tano became a Star Wars fan-favorite character from two different animated series...

I would trade any one of the Star Wars sequel trilogy movies for just Season 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+, which totally blew me away.  For just $7, you could watch both seasons, 16 episodes, in a month. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Season 2 of The Mandalorian

Besides the vaccine, Season 2 of The Mandalorian is the best thing that happened in 2020. In some ways, it is better than the Star Wars sequel trilogy, at least in terms of coherent storytelling. The ending of the season finale is possibly the most emotional thing that we have seen in Star Wars, and the finale outshined all the previous episodes.

It is very funny to watch Star Wars fans react to the episode. By this point, people are seriously invested in the characters, and the episode delivers one powerful punch after another. Watch the series before you watch this.  Spoilers. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

HBO's Chernobyl

As a riveting drama, it is hard to beat HBO's Chernobyl. The 4 episode miniseries deals with the worst nuclear accident in history, and all the consequences thereof. Thousands of people, such as nuclear workers, firefighters, military, miners, and scientists are in a race against time to contain the nuclear fallout that could affect a large area and contaminate millions of people.  Some of these people lost their lives in the process.

As fantastic as Chernobyl is as a drama, it gets so many facts wrong both historically and scientifically that it has been the subject of much criticism. It repeatedly exaggerates the threat that the nuclear accident poses, going as far as to describe the plant as a nuclear bomb, claiming that it could lead to a 30 megaton explosion, and claiming that it could make half of Europe uninhabitable. According to people in the know, all of this is complete nonsense. The show further states that a large group of spectators on a bridge miles from the accident died from radiation poisoning, calling it the "death bridge." However, according to many sources, this is an urban legend.

Normally I would find these kinds of mistakes unforgivable, but Chernobyl also gets a great many facts right, not the least of which is the human suffering of a terrible nuclear accident. Some scenes might be too graphic for people. Chernobyl does not shy away from the more unpleasant aspects of this disaster.

Soviet politics are a major factor since the government seemed to be in denial. They were slow to realize that the accident is a serious problem.

Early on in the miniseries, many of the nuclear workers and scientists can't fathom how such an accident could happen. The show keeps us in suspense by saving the explanation for last. It was a combination of bad design and poor training leading to incompetent nuclear workers.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Queen's Gambit

Hollywood tends to make fictional movies about people who are so talented that they quickly rise to the top of some competitive sport without really having to earn it. In reality, a game like chess is immensely difficult to master, and the top-level players spend decades of full-time effort to get to that level. You almost have to be a little bit crazy to be a top tier chess player.

So I resisted at first watching Queen's Gambit, but as a drama about chess, it is good. There is also a major theme about substance abuse. These together make a pretty good story.

Obviously, there is also a theme of female empowerment. This is interesting because during the 1950s and 1960s in which this story takes place, there weren't that many women chess players and none at the higher levels. Things have improved quite a bit since then, first with the Polgar sisters becoming top tier players, and more recently with Chinese star Hou Yifan. Yet, chess is still a game dominated by men, maybe because women find it less interesting. Men more than women prefer competitive sports, especially one as egotistical as chess.

Best wishes,

John Coffey