My wife and I have seized the opportunity to attend WorldCon while it’s in London this August. It took some determined childcare planning (and our daughters have been duly bribed/compensated with a family holiday) but it’s happening!
Not only that, but I’m delighted to say I’ve been invited onto a panel at LonCon:
2014 Hugo Awards: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00
The actual nominees under discussion are here.
Having never done this before, at this stage I’m feeling slightly under-qualified, but since a few people may be wandering over to this fairly moribund blog, here’s a quick roundup of my published reviews.
V for Vendetta
X-Men: The Last Stand
Star Trek (2009)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Season One)
Torchwood (Season One)
Babylon 5: The Lost Tales
Primeval (Season One)
Doctor Who: School Reunion
SF Signal – Mind Meld: Battlestar Galactica Series Finale (waaay down at the bottom)
Strange Horizons: 2007 in Review
Strange Horizons : 2006 in Review
Yes, my eldest daughter is currently obsessed by Frozen, why do you ask?
My review of the new Star Trek movie is at Strange Horizons today. I can’t make up my mind whether I let it off the hook — see what you think.
I’m a contributer to the latest Mind Meld article over at SF Signal along with many others including wrong_questions and saxonb. My bit is allllll the way down at the bottom. Take that however you wish. 😉
The rather leading question at hand is this: BSG has ended, and no one appears to be thrilled with the finale. What would you have done differently, if you could run the show?
It’s a question I singularly fail to answer, on the grounds that it’s much easier to complain and point fingers than to offer solutions *cough*. In fact I quite enjoyed the Battlestar Galactica finale, on just about every level except logic. I’ve been known to forgive a lack of logic when a) the writer is Joss Whedon, b) the characters and the emotion hit me the right way, or c) both of the above (e.g. Buffy‘s ‘The Gift’). There are certainly some fine and poignant moments of character and emotion in the BSG finale, but somehow along the way I stopped caring, enough, about these particular characters.
I think BSG and I parted ways emotionally and intellectually at the end of Season 2, when I stopped my reviews, but the rot certainly set in before that.
My horrible phlegm-filled lurgy is now finally subsiding, even though my throat is still raw and I keep coughing randomly. At least I no longer sound like a cross between Davros and Barry White, and was able to laugh at last night’s Mock the Week without actually killing myself. (Frankie Boyle’s Inuit Robot Butler was absolute genius).
Janet is off work today, and is happily ensconced on her PC playing Spore, which (despite annoyingly refusing to let her interact with any of the online content) is generally pleasing her in being a combination of every game style she’s ever liked, with the added bonus that she gets to design weird alien life and evolve it.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which turned out to be unexpectedly not-a-big-pile-of-crap, is back for a second season on 8th September. I might never have started watching this if I hadn’t been asked to review it, and seen a couple of other people praising it, but I’m really glad I did. It’s smarter than it has any right to be, and it neatly picks up on everything I liked about T2 while ditching everything I disliked about T3. Lena Headey is suitably obsessive and bad-ass as Sarah Connor, plus it has Summer Glau as a deeply unnerving ‘good’ Terminator, as showcased by this here poster (click for a bigger version).
Ben Folds Five are re-uniting for one night only to play “The Unauthorised Biography of Reinhold Messner” in its entirety. When we saw Ben Folds ‘solo’ back in June he was playing with two other musicians who were for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the remaining two members of Ben Folds Five (to a philistine like myself — I’m sure their friends and families see an important difference) so I’m sure this will be a breeze for Ben. This seems to be part of a MySpace “Front to Back” live album initiative.
Folds’s new album Way to Normal is out on 30th Sept. He played quite a few songs from it when we saw him live, and generally it sounds quite up-tempo; less acoustic and melancholy than Songs for Silverman. More of an early-BFF sound, in fact.
My review of the Babylon 5 straight-to-DVD movie is up today at Strange Horizons.
If you’re thinking “Dude, didn’t that DVD come out, like, aeons ago?” you’d be right. You’d also be a geek but we can’t help that. I wrote this last year as a reflection on both the new movie and the original series, and (my feelings on Babylon 5 being somewhat conflicted) it wound up being longer, more personal and more retrospective than normal. It’s been waiting in the wings until now, but I’m quite fond of it.
Now get the hell off my space station. And, y’know, go and read it.
Things that share little in commmon except that I saw them recently:
The Phoenix has landed. The Mars probe, that is. That’s a bit of a relief. Watching the video of everything it had to do on its descent I was a little sceptical1.
Sadly this good fortune does not extend to the pair of 200 year old pistols allegedly forged from meteoric iron, whose extraterrestial heritage has been disproven. They still look pretty in their own right, though.
There’s some kind of slick link here to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which looks to be having a good box office weekend despite a fairly mixed critical reception. We saw it yesterday, and I enjoyed it a lot while not really rating it as a great film. Certainly it was about as entertaining as Last Crusade, and nowhere near the level of godlike perfection that is Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Meanwhile Iron Man continues to rake in the cash (almost certainly fuelled by my review).
Terminator 4, which still seems to be called Terminator Salvation despite recent suggestions to the contrary, has an official website with a good-looking bit of pre-production art. Frankly the only announcement so far that has made me feel positive about this trilogy is Christian Bale’s involvement, but the concept of a post-apocalyptic trilogy is potentially a great one.
Peter Jackson and Guillermo Del Toro webchat about The Hobbit and The Hobbit 2. Following my poll to scientifically determine the title of the second film (“Back in the Hobbit” being the clear winner), Del Toro kindly tells us: “not ‘H2 Electric Boogaloo’, that has been discarded.” So that’s a relief. In a further display of good sense he comments: “Smaug should not be ‘the Dragon in the Hobbit movie’ as if it was just ‘another’ creature in a Bestiary. Smaug should be ‘The DRAGON’ for all movies past and present.” He also rates the dragon in Dragonslayer. If he were any more rightheaded he’d explode.
1 Obviously the evil Martians who shoot down our probes were too busy carving gigantic faces on the ground. Ahem.
My review of Iron Man is up at Strange Horizons today. Should you care to take a look.
My review of the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles series is up today at Strange Horizons. You don’t have to read it, but I may kill you with my brain.
I’m not normally one for fan-made videos setting TV clips to music but this one of Firefly/Serenity to the music of Wicked has Joss Whedonian and Tim Minearian endorsement, so I went to look. It’s extremely well done.
< insert obligatory *sob* for Firefly here >
While I’m here, the 2007 in Review piece in Strange Horizons has a very small contribution by yours truly, in which I inexplicably can’t find anything better on TV last year than Doctor Who. Three times in a row. It’s just wrong. Fortunately everyone else is very erudite and reads books and stuff. Also pikelet is insane but you knew that.
Of course The Wire is far better than any SF-related TV currently airing but that doesn’t count for Strange Horizons. My Season 4 DVD arrived today, and Season 5 has just started in the US. It’s just so very satisfying, layered and intelligent and you should all be watching it but will you lot listen? *Will you*?
In lieu of any other good TV and with anyone who could potentially write some being on strike, we’ve resorted to DVDs. We’ve been hugely enjoying Cracker on DVD, a series we missed in its entirety when it was on TV. Robbie Coltrane is fantastic, and the writing is incredibly sharp, with a real interest in psychology and themes rather than just the surface process of investigation. This definitely puts it a notch above most other ostensibly ‘crime’ related television which seems more formulaic with each passing year. We’ve only the final one-off special and the more recent Cracker reunion TV movie to go.
We’ve also been bingeing on old Doctor Who. The Time Warrior is splendid, and gives me my fix of Sontarans in a way that The Sontaran Experiment just didn’t accomplish. The Claws of Axos is, sadly, complete rubbish despite featuring some iconic images that have stuck with me since childhood. In contrast, Tom Baker’s debut story Robot is great. Yes, even the rubbish FX are great. All of this has made me so nostalgic that I’ve rashly ordered the Beneath the Surface box set, despite it having the really terrible Warriors of the Deep in it.
My review of Spider-man 3 is up at Strange Horizons. If you don’t read it, how will you know I didn’t talk about you behind your back?
My review of Primeval is up at Strange Horizons today. I know there can be few people in the world today who wouldn’t rate this groundbreaking drama as their favourite show of all time, so I know you’ll all want to head over and take a look. Ah, go take a look anyway.
I’d comment on the Life on Mars finale but it’s been covered in many other places. It’s odd for such a lightweight–if extremely skilful and enjoyable–series to have such a controversial ending. Like The Prisoner, Twin Peaks and even Quantum Leap before it the conclusion casts a strange shadow over the series. Right now I feel fairly ambivalent towards the finale, but I suspect that in a week’s time I’ll either hate it or have come to regard it as a work of genius. At least it wasn’t dull.
Although there’s a dearth of good TV on at the moment until Veronica Mars and Heroes make their long awaited returns, I’m quite enjoying House, Bones and CSI: Original Menthol Flavour (although so far this year CSI is not matching its superb sixth season).
We’ve also been watching The Dresden Files, an entirely formulaic piece of television involving a down-at-heel P.I. who’s also a wizard, and his Tim Curry-esque mentor, who’s a ghost. It’s exactly what you’d expect: vampire of the week, werewolf of the week, skinwalker of the week. I’d place it somewhere above Charmed and occasionally up to the standard of below par Angel, riding on the rumpled charm of its lead performance and the feeling that everyone involved is giving it slightly more effort than the show strictly deserves. I have to say that the second half of the 12 episode season has shown a notable improvement with a lot of input from Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler of Deep Space Nine fame: the plots have become less obvious, and the story arc involving Dresden’s father has moved forward very rapidly. I would only recommend it if you’re in an undemanding mood and predisposed to like this kind of thing, but on those terms I *would* recommend it.
The one thing I can’t recommend about The Dresden Files is the main theme music, one of the most anodyne themes-by-numbers I’ve heard since the 1980s. They try to funk it up mid-season with some up-tempo trumpets in the background, but it’s the very definition of polishing a turd.
Scrubs has done a musical episode. Which looks fun, though I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t watched a lot of Scrubs but Janet’s been catching some repeats recently and it’s always amiable and often very funny. The creator’s interviewed about the musical episode here and does namecheck Buffy‘s musical.
In a strange Mutant Enemy juxtaposition, Amy Acker is to be Nathan Fillion’s missing wife in Drive. They’ve currently ordered 12 episodes on top of the now re-cast pilot, making 13 episodes in total. For a Tim Minear series. I think we can all see where this is heading.
Heroes has been renewed for a second season. By the end of the first season we’ll know whether the show can possibly continue spitting out plot at a rate that would make most other shows tremble. I really hope it can: it’d be a shame to see a Lost-style consolidation into jealously hoarding a meagre store of ideas; one of Heroes‘ more compelling elements is its page-turning cliffhangers. It starts on the UK Sci-Fi Channel next month and BBC2 has it at some point after that.
Battlestar Galactica in ‘may upset its fans’ shock. No surprise there, you may imagine, but it does seem to involve a significant turn of events (general spoileryness in the link). Hopefully this will be one that’s integrated into the storyline a little better than most of the series’ recent games of character pinball.
Torchwood was apparently a ratings success after all. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, its BBC3 ratings fell by two-thirds but remained high for the channel, and the BBC2 ones fared a little better. In total it ranged from about 6.6 to 4 million. Still, it’s hard to see what it was about the show that actually warranted the attention of 4 million people. (My review of the finale *cough*shamelessplug*cough*.)
EDIT: Veronica Mars‘ shorter-than-hoped third season will end on five standalone episodes instead of a final arc. Not only that, but the final five episodes will air after an eight week break. No decision has been made about a fourth season yet, but reading between the lines I do wonder if that isn’t the distant whiff of cancellation in the air. I really, really hope not. VM is a strong contender for my favourite show at the moment.
My review of the Torchwood season finale is up1 at Strange Horizons today, should you feel yourself overcome with curiosity…
1 “The reviews section. Separate from the articles, outside the poetry, beyond the art gallery.”
Strange Horizons have asked their reviewers to comment on the best and worst of 2006, and a suitably diverse set of opinions they are too. I’m in there somewhere, being suitably diverse. (I just know I should have left it at: “Who are you and how did you get this number?”)
In honour of Strange Horizons’ Tenth Doctor Week, with which I have no affiliation of any kind, the BBC have put up a few pics of the Doctor and new assistant Martha Jones on their website. Nice, although not as nice as this. I think I prefer the brown suit to the blue, but the red plimsoles are a nice touch, and it’s good to know that the Doctor cares deeply about colour-coordinating with his companion’s outfit.
Plus a press release. Is it wrong that of all the episodes mentioned, the thing that got me most excited was the episode set in 1930s New York?
So I could feign professional indifference and tell you that I really don’t mind if you read my review of School Reunion, part of the Doctor Who week that Strange Horizons is running. But it would be a transparent lie which would shame both of us. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
There are also some great reviews from some other fine people coming up later in the week.
Your lives will be sallow and empty if you don’t read my review of X-Men: The Last Stand on Strange Horizons.
Okay, my life will be sallow and empty. Yours… not so much.