Blog Archives

Bones shows how NOT to kill a character meaningfully

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell that I enjoy FOX’s Bones, what with some of my complaints about the current season. In all honesty, if I weren’t already invested in the characters and my fiancee weren’t a big fan, I might have decided to drop the series. The show has pretty much jumped the shark at this point. Last night’s episode, “The Hole in the Heart”, was incredibly disappointing.

Here’s a link to FOX online, since the episode wasn’t yet on Hulu.

Last week’s preview made it a point to mention that someone would die in this episode. A few characters were flashed on the screen to build fan concerns about the death. Here, see for yourself.

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Give the networks some credit

The closing of multiple Borders Bookstores nationwide has left me with some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I grew up going to Borders at least once a month and walking away with some shining treasure. Not only was Borders where I discovered the wonderful novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, but that is where I also picked up my one and only copy of Diehard GameFan magazine. That magazine is unparalleled to this day. It’s probably why I have such warped sensibilities about video games. I later went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which happens to feature the first Borders Bookstore right on its campus.

But on the other hand, sales speak loudly to my multimedia habits. It was difficult to hold back, but I refused to go until the minimum discounted price was 50%. My fiancee and I went and tried to find new treasures. By then the store was already picked apart by people who give in too easily. Scott Pilgrim books and DVDs were not to be found, nor were any of the more exciting graphic novels and manga. The science fiction was left bare once we realized that the only items present were derivative materials and new releases that had been pulled out of overstock. The only section that contained anything at all worthwhile was the DVD section, because their discounted material was still around the cost most stores charge for the items – which makes me wonder if one business failing of Borders was the fact that Borders is the only store anywhere that sells DVDs at MSRP.

Click for a Veridian Dynamics commercial from the show

I came across two of my favorite recently canceled shows: Dollhouse (Season 2) and Better Off Ted (Season 1). I think overall I saved approximately $8 on what they would cost me through Amazon, but I didn’t care. These were shows that belonged in my collection. It’s one of the few times in recent years that I ignored my $15 per DVD/set limit.

Interestingly, I had actually been thinking about canceled shows quite a bit. This was sparked by my reading too many comments on various blogs about enthusiast materials. There is an annoying aspect of fandom that seems to require everyone think the same way and regard all material in a similar fashion. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. New movies that get released require the same opinion, and only certain television shows require support. Then there’s the vilification of anything that gets in the way. The most common form of this is the canceled TV series, whose failure must be blamed on the television network. Read the rest of this entry

Torchwood: Children of Earth – an account of horrid classism

While Doctor Who is slowly establishing itself as a source for decent science fiction stories in America, its spin-off, Torchwood, is still an obscure property over here. Given the pop culture sensibilities of this country, it should have been an easy sell. Torchwood is Doctor Who‘s shadow. Torchwood shows a dark and gritty world of sex, swearing and pessimism while Doctor Who promises the romantic notion of clean fun while bringing out the best in everyone. Torchwood should be an easy sell because the first two series of its run are mature in the same way that R-rated movies and M-rated games are mature. Who doesn’t like violence, unnecessary swearing, and strong sexuality?

Then came Torchwood: Children of Earth. This third series can be considered an experiment by the producers, mostly because the BBC had to cut the budget and thus the entire run. Instead of 12 episodes, they received 5. Instead of the usual late Sunday night time slot, it was shown on five consecutive nights during the week. This is what television stations do to a show when they expect it to fail and just want to get it out of their system. Children of Earth should have floundered but was an absolute success. Focusing on five consecutive episodes forced the writers in a position to make a strong yet concise tale about human pessimism and survival. Read the rest of this entry

The User Interface

I have been thinking more and more about user interfaces(UIs) lately. Maybe it’s the proliferation of devices in our everyday lives, but I cannot shake out of my head that individuals designing interfaces seem to shrug off the idea that there should be rules governing their choices. The two rules necessary for UIs are as follows: simplicity and accessibility. Read the rest of this entry

Community: I won at Dungeons and Dragons – and it was Advanced!

Few shows effectively walk the line between affectionate parody and cruel ridicule of subcultural subjects. Some topics are pointedly ignored because acknowledgment grants some sort of power. Fortunately for Community, there is no topic in the multimedia world that is worth ignoring. What amazes me is the creativity displayed by the writers to make each topic work. In the first season they managed to make a post-apocalyptic action episode work. In the current season, they have already pulled off parodies of both zombie and space shuttle launch films. Bear in mind that this show takes place at a community college and the parodies are appropriately grounded in some level of reality.

Which brings us to the recent Advanced Dungeons and Dragons episode. In order to instill a classmate with self-respect after realizing he was exhibiting the warning signs of a severe depression, the study group convince him to play a game, his favorite game, with them. What would normally happen on television series in such a circumstance would be the transportation of the cast into the magical world they were imagining. Instead, it kept true to the nature of the game. Every person described what they were doing or attempting to do, and to make it even more funny a narrator (speaking in the tone typical of fantasy films) spoke over them – to describe the characters as they described their actions. This simultaneously pointed out just how ridiculous playing role-playing games can appear to outsiders but reinforced to those with experience in these games the majesty of these curiously indescribable worlds.

This does not come without some criticism. The previous week’s episode featured an anti-drug play in which Pierce paid Annie off in order to get a larger role, but this had the poor effect of making his role, that of drugs, the most appealing to their audience. Pierce already played antagonist, and in the AD&D episode he played antagonist again. It does not sit well as a viewer because it seems like there is no break for the cast in dealing with him, which begs the continual question of why he is always part of their study group. I guess that is the ongoing joke, but his continually disappointing behavior sometimes stops being funny and becomes something worth avoiding. (Bear me no mind, though. I also think this of Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. One-note characters both me. When depth is only given once every seven episodes, it does not work for me.)

Click this link to watch the episode on Hulu.

I admit to being shameless about this show. It is one of the few shows that I can say has consistently been one of my favorites airing on television. It does not fail to make me laugh.

Is Netflix the future, or will we suffer the wrath of cable companies?

This blog, I assure you, presents absolutely no bias

Netflix has certainly proven itself to be quite the versatile and progressive business in its mere decade of existence. Not only has it all but completely shut down the brick and mortar video rental chains Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video, but it has firmly entrenched itself among the most popular streaming video content providers online. It seems the company has recently become a threat to cable television and television networks because of its offering easy access to video content. Read the rest of this entry

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fan Narcissism

Warner Bros. has officially pulled the trigger on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot, and the Buffy fandom has already cried foul because Joss Whedon is not involved. He really does not even need to be. He had seven years on the series, five for Angel (which only gave him one additional year), and an incredibly interesting comic book series that looks like it will continue for some time. Whedon’s work still exists, and a reboot cannot discredit that.

I have definitely cried foul over reboots. The Transformers movies bother me, but not because they are reboots. They were just bad movies. Star Trek definitely bothered me, but I am over it. At the same time, Battlestar Galactica was a both a reboot and an amazing series. Even The Prisoner reboot had its positives. Objectively, reboots do no damage to the original properties. In fact, they draw more attention to the overall franchise and work as nice entry points for new fans. So what is the problem? Read the rest of this entry

Caprica is over – heady science fiction does not sell

Thought-provoking entertainment does not appear to belong anywhere on television. Earlier this year we watched Dollhouse crash and burn, and now it has been announced that Caprica will not be returning to SyFy for another season. The reason cited is that the show did not generate enough viewers. Never mind that SyFy split the first season into two halves, reprising the season at some random point in Autumn on a completely different night of the week. (A Friday to Tuesday move is odd, but it is sensible when one realizes that pro-wrestling presently earns among the highest ratings of anything on the channel.) But the problem is not with SyFy, as much as I want to blame them. The problem is the lack of audience. Read the rest of this entry

A look at Doctor Who and Mythology – DW series 1 and 5

Dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee-dum-dee...

In a previous entry I mentioned that the British scifi series Doctor Who could very well be considered a modern myth. Since then I have watched the entirety of the ninth (Christopher Eccleston) and eleventh (Matt Smith) Doctors’ runs on the show. This is two full series – 26 episodes. Based on this sample alone, which is a drastically small microcosm of the television show, I cannot liken Doctor Who to mythology. It certainly has some mythic elements, but I refuse to let that be an indicator of anything based solely on the fact that writers far and wide decided to consciously include mythical elements into their works after the publication of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Read the rest of this entry

Katy Perry controversy & modern Sesame Street

There was a bit of hubbub recently regarding Katy Perry and her musical skit on Sesame Street‘s being pulled before it could air. The reason cited appears to be a complaint about her exposure – her cleavage was showing on a children’s show. While I am not a fan of Perry’s and prefer not to draw more attention to all of it, it is only fair to show the video. Read the rest of this entry