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Sweep the leg!

Posted May 3, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

I can't believe I'm thinking of getting a Youtube Red subscription just to watch this series. But I totally am. It looks great. Like, way better than you'd imagine for a reboot of this franchise. And for anything from el Goog.

4 Responses to ‘Sweep the leg!’

Dave W mumbles...

Posted May 4, 2018
It looks hilariously awesomeful. I don't know if I'd pay for this many cliches in one package, but I know I'd watch it.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted May 4, 2018
bahaha. This was made on the back of this wasn't it?

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted May 7, 2018
We've seen the OG Karate Kid, the remake version AND The Next Karate Kid on the teev these last few I'm considering the subscription just to see this! 'Awsomeful' seems appropriate!

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Leftarc reckons...

Posted May 11, 2018
And sweep it again. Its been renewed for Season 2.

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Lost In Space remake. First thoughts

Posted April 16, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

I used to watch Lost in Space every day after school. It was on after Gilligan's Island and before Hogan's Heroes. I loved it.

Naturally I jumped right into the Netflix reboot as soon as it dropped. I'll cut to my take now; I enjoyed it hugely. But I can already see there are some who don't.

Over on the Book of Face, Cam Rogers, elbowed his way through all the Russian trolls and adverts for colostomy bags (I told the Zuck I was born in 1901) to lay the following smackdown on the reboot:

What is it with so many current generation TV shows being populated with characters I don't want to spend five minutes with?
The Lost In Space reboot: flat scenes, irritating characters you wanna see die ASAP, minimal sets and locations, boilerplate structure, hacky as fuck, the Dad is yet another stoic soldier-as-father-figure agitprop cliche, the kids are entitled and self-aborbed brats, boring, or talk like a middle-aged LA writer - all without telling us anything about them *at all*.
Just die already.

Ok. Thanks Cam. I can see you have issues. And some of them are even nudging legit. The structural critique is spot on, but so what? It's like trashing an old Saturday matinee pirate movie for inadequate consideration of inequities in the maritime labour market which predisposed underclass workers to unauthorised redistributive tactics.

It's Lost in Space, not Twin Peaks, or even Battlestar Galactica 2.0. The teenaged characters are indeed often self absorbed and bratty, which just makes them very accurate portrayals of teenagers.

Toby Stephens' John Robinson is totally another stoic soldier-as-father-figure, but there's not much agitprop there. He's a much deeper and well realised character than Guy William's jump-suited Mike Brady Brand hunk of beef. The pilot dips its toe into cliche, with some early family flashbacks to happier days, and then it all turns to shit, much more interesting shit, as Stephen's absent marine loses contact with his family, and then almost loses the family altogether.

I have no probs with the sets or scenery. I used to build out my own imaginary Jupiter 2 in a cubby house in our back yard as a kid, and if I had a couple of million bucks to reimagine it today, it'd look pretty close to the Netflix version. I'm only three eps into the series, so I don't know where they'll end up in future story arcs, but given the restrictions of actually filming on Earth, I thought the mash-up of Hoth and every bucolic Stargate forest planet ever was a pretty reasonable start.

Parker Posey's Dr Smith is a fantastic gender swap, and she's so far done a great job of making her Smith every bit as creepy and villainous as Jonathon Harris's character was campy and ridiculous. The original Smith was a pantomime villain. Posey is way more dangerous.

Each episode appears to pose one major problem for the colonists to solve, within a larger meta narrative, and I'm cool with that. I've enjoyed it so much so far that I'm having to stop myself rushing through the whole series in one or two sittings. Instead i'll probably do a slow binge. One ep a night until I'm done.

20 Responses to ‘Lost In Space remake. First thoughts’

Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted April 16, 2018
I've only watched the first ep, I'm willing to give it a go, Anyone else pick up the cameo?

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted April 16, 2018
Caught the first episode, really enjoyed it, the family dynamic felt very contemporary. (Which it never did in the original) The intro of 'Dr Smith' and I think Major West at the end of the episode was wonderful. Bangar I spotted Lennier from Babylon 5 if that's what you mean.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted April 16, 2018
I think the Don West character is going to be much ore interesting than the original.

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Bangar mumbles...

Posted April 16, 2018
Well done sir

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 16, 2018
I never would have got that.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted April 16, 2018
I don't have netflix...but my folks do. I might be paying a visit to have a look at this. Heaven knows that I was a HUGE Irwin Allen fan as a kid - Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants and of course the best was Lost in Space! I do hope they do the show justice. Do they get to fit a few Jonathan Harris alliterative lines in giving the robot a rev up - 'bumbling booby' and the like?

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WA n'ker ducks in to say...

Posted April 16, 2018
I like your take on the bratty teenagers being teenagers.
Reminds me of some critisicms of annakin in ep 2 and 3. I mean if i was a 13-16 yr old who had full on jedi powers and a big boner for the delectable padme, what do you reckon would happen?

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insomniac reckons...

Posted April 16, 2018
I used to watch it as a kid too but I doubt I'll get a look in with the anti science fiction vibe going on in the TV/Netflix environment in the household. Makes Toned Abs look like Professor Poindexter.

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted April 17, 2018
Original Lost in Space is a Rhino fave.

Have watched the first 2. Am also slow binging.

Am suspending disbelief on wonky science ... and economic disbelief around building individual spaceships for colonist families (as opposed to prefab shelters that could be dropped, etc.).

Love me some Parker Posey.

This is provisionally Rhino Approved.

My main quibble is that I’m dying to hear the opening theme.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted April 20, 2018
The opening theme gets a look in. Maybe ep3? I'm liking it. In my household i need an escape from the dearth of crime/murder mystery eps

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted May 2, 2018
Just to revive this thread: after bingeing it myself and finding it good i sat down and gave it another run with the kids. They love it (as kids used to love the original). So it gets 5 stars from me.

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jl is gonna tell you...

Posted April 17, 2018
As a kid I never knew hate until I watched Lost in Space and met Doctor Smith.

I really need to step into the 21st century and get Netflix. Altered Carbon is on my list, too.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted April 17, 2018
Hiya mates. It's been a while.

Didn't love it. Wanted dreck transformed into the best science fiction television I've ever seen, and that didn't happen.

This was not an unreasonable expectation considering the results of Altered Carbon and Jessica Jones. Netflix knows how to mine original content to make gold.

But I liked it a lot, for many of the same reasons thus far articulated. The update characters - including the Robot - and the expanded story free of ultra low budget considerations are all big fun. The first time the Robot said "danger Will Robinson" was thrilling. And although the \"bricks\" of touchy-feely dialogue are annoying, that is what the fast forward button on the remote is for. I look forward to the next season.

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted April 17, 2018
God forbid we have a soldier protagonist.

jl ducks in to say...

Posted April 17, 2018
Yeah, can't have that.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted April 17, 2018
Yeah, I'm not sure how Rogers got the agit-prop message. This John Robinson is a mess. There's a real cost to his service.

Vovchara puts forth...

Posted May 4, 2018
Oh no, we can't have military protagonists on TV or in the Movies. And if we have some, we better make a mess of the rank structure and they better do not wear uniforms (hello Star Wars The Last Jedi).

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted April 17, 2018

Issues with him being an ex soldier / Marine / Jarhead returned serviuceman fkn been in the shit....OH FKN PLEEEEEAS!

What other backstory character fkn issues do you lot fkn have. I guess we could have made him a fkn woman, or transfkn genedr and more fkn PC post world fkn ending nothappy about character fkn developement instead of just fkn immersing yourself in the fkn show and the moment and having a bit of fkn fun. FKN ANT FKN FUN FK POLIC EFK ME!

Its great....and I've got a fkn thing for Mrs Robinson toooo and the fkn song and yeah shes in the HOUSE OF FKN CARDS WE SHOULD AHVE KEPT KEIN ON. FK...FK FK FK AND DOUBLE FKN FK!

insomniac reckons...

Posted April 17, 2018
I wish the Havock of old would make a comeback. This mild mannered muppet is FKN soft.

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted May 4, 2018
I was writing a measured response to this thread, but after reading havock's stream of consciousness I decided to forgo this attempt and say exactly what I am thinking. Here comes...
WTF wrong with you people? How can JB whose works are always a delightful mix of entertainment and common sense could find this piece of crap interesting? This stuff is so antiquated it hurts. All plot points have been done to death in the past. There is nothing original here, nothing thought out.
WTF is with all those plot conveniences? Water freezing right when it most inconvinient, a freaking space ship flooding despite an airlock which normally would not allow keeping both hutches open, so no flooding a hermetically sealed container which any freaking spaceship is.
WTF with Zero-G in the first scene during the deorbiting burn? In the times when "The Expanse" is paying attention to small things like Coriolis forces, the morons writing "Lost in Space" don't even understand simple Newton's laws.
WTF with a crash? They went into space expecting to land somewhere, right?

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Altered Carbon

Posted February 23, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

I finished my slow binge of Altered Carbon on Netflix this week. Loved it. I loved the book to when I read it over a decade ago, but that was so long that apart from one or two standout scenes (the concealed mini guns in the hotel, for instance) I had pretty much forgotten everything. It wasn't a bad way to go into the series.

I'm not sure how faithful the producers were to a black letter adaptation of Richard Morgan's original text, and frankly I don't think it matters. This was a powerful piece of cinematic storytelling, a rich combination of science-fiction and old school film noir.

The central conceit of the story is the encoding of human memory, a process which allows those who can afford it to live forever. I do seem to recall that the novel did investigate the social and political implications of the technology, the way that the super rich effectively claimed immortality for themselves, becoming ever less human the longer they lived. But I'm pretty sure the makers of the TV show really leaned into the idea with a lot more vigour. Altered Carbon was a much better forensic analysis of the consequences of a super concentration of wealth in a sci-fi setting than, say, Matt Damon's Elysium. It was violent, stylish (with a lot of visial callbacks to the original Blade Runner), thoughtful and, most importantly of all, just great fun.

No sooner had I finished the last episode than I looked up to discover that Amazon had announced they would be doing their own adaptation of Iain M Banks Culture novel, Consider Phlebus. I am almost as excited for that as I am for a second series of Carbon. It feels like we might be living through a new golden age of sci-fi, at least on the small screen.

15 Responses to ‘Altered Carbon’

Bangar mumbles...

Posted February 23, 2018
And in other Sci Fi new transparent Aluminum

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damian asserts...

Posted February 23, 2018
This may be the thing that leads me to get Netflix. I started re-reading the series back in December when Morgan tweeted about the trailer. I interleave my reading these days -- it's what I switch to for warming down whenever I'm sick of the 10 or so textbooks I'm reading otherwise -- so I've just now finished Broken Angels and I'm about to start Woken Furies.

I've generally been much more a fan of your Chandler style hard-boiled noirish detective fiction than I have been of milfic (present company excepted of course). Grossman's Life and Fate, and anything by Heinrich Böll are standouts, too. I really enjoyed James Crumley's two detectives, both sort of halfway in between, both sort of soulmates of the Takeshi Kovacs I get from Morgan's novels. Mexican Tree Duck in particular does this sort of straddling of noir and milfic with enough flourish to be literary, if you squint your eyes a little.

Anyway the interesting and curious thing is that of the three novels Morgan wrote in the Kovacs series, I found I liked then in ascending order: Altered Carbon least, though I did like it a lot, and Woken Furies the most. Even though there's little trace of noir by that stage.

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jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 23, 2018
Altered Carbon: One of my all time favs. Must see series.

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted February 24, 2018
It couldn't be Al Reynolds or Neal Asher.

It had to be this asshole.


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Barnesm reckons...

Posted February 25, 2018
Yep, Amazon releases a Culture series, that's the final tipping point that has me signing up for Amazon Prime. They almost had me with the live-action Tick, and I would like to see their series. 'The Man in the High Castle'. But there are so many streaming services now.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted February 25, 2018
Watch Luke Cage.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 3, 2018
The same guy who played Alexander Hamilton in the HBO miniseries John Adams.

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sibeen puts forth...

Posted February 25, 2018
And how has Mr Morgan ticked you off, Murph?

Loved teh book and binged on the series. Grouse. Even SWMBO enjoyed it and she's not normally a fan of anything to do with sci-fi.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted February 25, 2018
A long, old story that really isn't worth investing time in. Needless to say, never bought a stitch of his work, not planning on watching the show.

I'll wait for the Banks project and see if that is actually worth watching. Surely has to be better than The Expanse.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2018
Started on this. Not too bad but i get a feel of daytime soap when i'm watching it. The main actor (had to look him up - Joel Kinnaman) seems a bit too clean cut or . . . . something. Not really gelling with me but going to hang in there for the rest. Haven't read the book.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted March 2, 2018
I really loved this; I'd planned on watching an episode a week amongst all the other shows I have on the go at the moment and just gave up and binged it. I'm going to Singapore for the weekend and I've downloaded it to my Netflix app on my tablet to re-watch on the plane. I'm also reading the first book as too much Carbon is not enough :)

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jl mutters...

Posted April 20, 2018
Finally pulled the trigger and got Netflix. The very first thing I sat down and watched was Altered Carbon. Burned through nearly entire first season today.

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jason has opinions thus...

Posted April 20, 2018
To both JL and JB. Less watching Netflix more writing. I am seriously struggling for a good read.

jl mutters...

Posted April 20, 2018
Fortunately there are only so many episodes of Altered Carbon.

jl has opinions thus...

Posted April 21, 2018
...And, I just finished them all. That series was very good, although it did deviate from the book somewhat. And there is nothing cooler than a finale with swords, or Ortega taking her revenge. Excellent.

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Travelers, a thing I like.

Posted January 16, 2018 into Telly by John Birmingham

There are some shows on the streamz that I have to take a sip at a time. Ozark, Breaking Bad, even Daredevil. There’s an intensity to them that precludes consuming the series in a long binge.

Travelers is the opposite. I have to stop myself watching back to back episodes so that I don’t rush through an entire season and find myself enraged that there’s no more to be had.

It’s on Netflix in Oz, so not everyone will have seen it, but for me it’s one of those shows that makes subscription TV worth the money. This is the sort of show that would've run on the Ten Network when it was cool. And they’d have destroyed it with ads and schedule changes and getting a couple of eps out of order because that’s how they roll.

The premise is cool. Time travelers are sent back from a doomed future to change the past. But they can’t return in corporeal form, only their minds can make the journey – into the host bodies of people already living here in the 21st century. (Or simply The 21st, as it’s known in the show). The transfer overwrites the original mind, effectively killing the host. Travelers are thus inserted into hosts who are about to die before their time.

It’s a neat narrative ploy which unfolds into ever more complicated origami forms of story telling as the show goes on. Characters can be ‘killed’ simply by overwrite. It’s a great screen writer trick.

Eric McCormack (Will, in Will and Grace) leads the ensemble cast of travelers in his team, and does a great job. I never watched W&G so I had no trouble imagining him into the role of a very straight FBI agent—his relationship with his wife after overwriting is a key driver of the series. The other cast members fill out a Joss Whedon-style ‘band of five’ and every episode sees them even some new mission by The Director, to save the future.

It sounds dumb, and it is magnificently, compellingly, addictively dumb and enormous fun because of it. Season One was a good set up. Season Two is much stronger, with real character development inside the team, a solid meta-narrative setting up a worthy nemesis within the mythology of the series, and lots of splodey goodness.

There’s always lots of splodey goodness.

I only have a couple of eps left and I’m already feeling pre-emptive withdrawal.

9 Responses to ‘Travelers, a thing I like.’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 17, 2018
It's on my list but I'll never get to it because some people in the house have an aversion to anything 'time travel'.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 17, 2018
Overwrite them.

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted January 18, 2018
What house are you in, is it the chinese government?

insomniac would have you know...

Posted January 19, 2018
Those lotus leaves? If only.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted January 18, 2018
I am really enjoying Travellers looking forward to your thoughts after you watch the final espisode of season 2. So far the haven't confirmed a season 3 yet. Manly because I think they like to see me suffer.

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted January 20, 2018
Travelers is truly remarkable. Avoiding all usual cliches of timetravel. Suspenseful and very human.

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Oldy would have you know...

Posted January 22, 2018
This is absolutely my favourite thing on TV (is it still TV if it's Netflix?) I love the characters and the group dynamic, and yes - the second season kicks the show into the stratosphere.

It would be my second favourite thing, except they cancelled Sense8.

I'm not surprised you like it, it's got a lot of the same qualities I go to the Birmoverse for. Time Travel, alternate What If stuff, and cool characters who talk to each other like real people.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted January 24, 2018
they are doing an end movie for sense8 - there was so much backlash they decided to round off the story line in a movie . . . that hasn't changed has it?

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted January 24, 2018
Nope. Still happening.

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Sparty on the New Star Trek

Posted September 26, 2017 into Telly by John Birmingham

I watched both eps last night and I have some thoughts. But Sparty sent me his recap before I could get them down. So we'll go with his.

Spoilers below so don’t read until after you’ve watched first two eps of Discovery









Discovery notes (Which I wish could be as funny as Girl Clumsy, but I don’t have it in me).

Poor Bill Shatner, must have been rolling in his Captains chair (don’t tell me he doesn’t have one somewhere). CBS go all the way to Jordan to film a throw away opening scene on a god damn TV budget, while Star Trek V – a major motion picture still had to do with a polystyrene rock monster…

Cue Credits where we see that the producers took Gene Roddenberry’s original brief that Star Trek be “Wagon Train to the stars”, a western in space, so literally that they just reused the Westworld title sequence with a bit of added Technical Drawing (UK speak for draughtsman’s sketches).

Take a ways from the credits – there are more Executive Producers than alternate time line NCC1701-D Enterprises from the ST:TNG episode Parallels (but one is an original timeline Roddenberry which is good).

An area where perhaps they should have copied A Game of Chairs would have been in casting spoilers. Was Ned Stark credited as “a very special guest star who will not be with us very long”, nope and neither should Crouching Tiger. (Yes I know Michelle Yeoh has had other parts and shouldn’t be defined by an ethic focused part - but on the other hand she pretended to be a Japanese Geisha, which is like saying just anyone can play a Klingon. (David Warner I am looking at you). But back to the good – we certainly were treated as Trekkies (Trekkers just feels a little bit like Alt Right - a made up name to make something more respectable) - Sarek appears and no need to Xposite that he’s a Vulcan with some pretty big political heft although George Michael Jnr does do some pretty heavy mid mission Xposition briefing to her Captain, who clearly takes the Donald J approach to paying attention to critical information.

Anyhow a few (buried under some pretty damn good latex) cultural analogies later Sasha goes full Jyn Erso and rebels (BSG took four seasons for that to brew and they didn’t even have indoor toilets on the Galactica) and Big Space Fight happens. I’d describe it but I doubt the script writer did, so why should I?

Another take away, the Klingons only respond to power etc, so maybe the way to fight Kim Jong is with our own big trousered idiot and they’ll respect us - wow I get it- Startrek is about NOW….

I’d go on, but to be honest I’m still no closer after the pilot (but was it a pilot?, with damn near 1000 eps of Startrek of one form or another out there, I guess not) to understanding what sort of show BattleTrek Orville is actually going to be. Third episode should show that. It’s usually the one where the crew act completely opposite to their personalities cause the best way for the audience to know what someone is , is to see what they are not (trade Mark Mid-eighties US TV writers bible).

Oh and the second officer played by the X-files cigarette smoking man was great and will hopefully transfer to Orville if CBS can Discovery….

Damn who am I kidding, I enjoyed everything – it WAS Star Trek – back on telly where it belongs and while not perfect did not make the Aliens 3 / Terminator 3+ / JJ films mistake of somehow reducing what has come before. Did you see the command pips on their uniform badges, subtle department coloring, and proper looking phasers!!!

Oh Discovery you had me at the Starfleet Delta in the sand…….

10 Responses to ‘Sparty on the New Star Trek’

Barnesm mutters...

Posted September 26, 2017
Good wrap up.
I want to watch more of this series. I'm a fan of Trek so that was never going to be in doubt. Did I think its the greatest trek ever, no! But did it set my soul ablaze, also No. But I was entertained, interested in the characters and enjoying the callbacks to the old series. I agree it avoids many of the pitfalls of recent reboots. I love the Battletrek Orrville nickname. If anyone who wants to judge it too harshly before commenting do you honestly remember the first couple of series of Star Trek: The next generation or Deep Space Nine? Tell me it's worse than some of their earlier episodes?

Sparty has opinions thus...

Posted September 26, 2017
You’re right – has anyone here ever watched even rewatched clip of the first season of TNG or Nine other than Data saying he can pleasure in the bedroom or Sisko at Wolf 259? This first season will be so far ahead pf those first seasons.

The Orville was interesting because its third episode was as late seasons TNG Trek as anything could be. A cultural interference dilemma along the lines of Riker falling in love with LGBT community and Worf asking for assistant suicide, directed by Braga and the music , even the beat tempo of the script. I’m sure CBS could have killed the series long ago if they had felt the need so it’s clear that they are going in a very different direction – and also now very clear why they had to kill “Prelude to Axanar” (which given the behaviour of the guy running it, was probably justified). I’d certainly recommend giving Orville a go to anyone with an interest in Trek.
And the new Trek as Spock often says, is “open to possibilities” – imagine if Garth of Izar turned up to rescue the Shinzhou in a Constitution class, instead of Admiral Mansplainer getting Shinzoned, or Kor and Kang go to war against the house of Duras…….

Barnesm mutters...

Posted October 4, 2017
I am still hanging out for the TV series of Scalzi's Red Shirts based on his book.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted September 26, 2017
I very much enjoyed it in spite of a few basic flaws. There's a lot of starchy exposition to chew through in the first 15 minutes and the camaraderie between Burnham and Captain Tiger Lady felt a little forced. But go back and watch every series of Star Trek ever and you'll find the same thing. Often much worse.
This series looks like it will really benefit from the lessons of the new Golden Age of television. (Remember how Orin told us nobody would pay for this stuff?). But also from the streaming play that CBS is making by locking it up behind a paywall. They need to give people a reason to pay for this, so we got a cinema worthy cast and production values.
I want to watch it again before commenting at length, but I like what I see so far.
One bowl of claim chowder I have to eat, the only culture war push back I've seen so far is a writer in the LA Times complaining that the portrayal of the Klingons is deeply racist.

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2017
Frankly, I thought it was utter crap. I skipped the first episode based on the crappy reviews and moved onto the second.

My thoughts?

Vulcans again?

The Klingons sound like they just started talking yesterday. It is almost like some very sad, racist dare I say it, parody of previous depictions of American Indians in movies.

This white haired prick of an Admiral who was around for all of about five minutes NEEDED killing. I think I would have killed him anyway even if I wanted peace just to make a point.

The ships don't look right, or even impressive. The explodey was not quite satisfying and the SFXs were crap as well.

I consider myself a pretty big Star Trek fan. I've watched them all, even ground my way through the disappointment that was Enterprise.

Now this crap.

I unsubscribed from their service this morning. I won't waste another minute of my time, or dime for that matter.

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Dave W mutters...

Posted October 11, 2017
I'd just like to say that I haven't watch this or any other star trek. I claim no reason but that it just never caught my fancy. But I thought that Mr Murphy's screed here was most excellent and I'm disappointed that no one else has thought it worthy of comment.

Especially the "white haired prick of an Admiral" who "NEEDED killing".

Kudos to you, sir.

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Dick has opinions thus...

Posted October 12, 2017
Agree Dave. Excellent rant by Murph. I was going to respond to Murph with a "tell us what you really think" but given the tone of his post thought I might get a heated response.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted October 25, 2017
STD sucks.

But then, STDS always suck.

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Sparty is gonna tell you...

Posted October 12, 2017
When TNG came out I hated the look of 1701-D and some silly early CGI space ships, spandex one piece uniforms looked shit, phaser design awful and what was it with an english accented frenchmen and a kid on the bridge? EVERY episode had a A and a B story and i watched the first season on word from the US that "it gets better". well it did by the 42nd episode. I'd give discovery a bit more of a chance?

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Dave W reckons...

Posted October 13, 2017
42 episodes. Dedication, thy name is Sparty.

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Travelers and Van Helsing. (Spoilers)

Posted February 9, 2017 into Telly by John Birmingham

I've been following two new shows on Netflix the last couple of weeks. Travelers and Van Helsing. Travelers is the smarter of the two, with a stronger cast and deeper script. It also seems to have more money, given it's clear advantage in production values. But I still enjoy both.

Spoilers follow. (Although mostly conceptual rather than narrative).

Travelers is a simple premise, a reworked cliche of people coming back from the future to prevent bad shit happening. That could be tedious in unskilled hands but it pays off with interest here if you're willing to ignore a couple of difficulties.

The tweak in Travelers is the way they move backwards. Unlike Smith and Cady they don't just conveniently jump into an era. Instead only the conscious mind can travel, and it can only insert itself into the mind/body of another human being, completely overwriting the personality, memories, and life of the previous occupant. For this reason the travelers take over the bodies of people about to die.

The pilot provides a series of WTF mystery moments as this process repeats itself again and again until you figure out what's happening. Things have gone horribly wrong in the far future and it seems all of the dwindling resources of mankind have been devoted to the Traveler program, to sending not just individuals back in time, but whole teams to carry out missions which will change the future and presumably Grandfather Paradox away all the bad mojo.

It could just devolve into a mission of the week series, but it doesn't. One of things that's hooked me is the prosaic difficulties the travelers have taking over the lives of people from hundreds of years in their past. Much of the drama comes not from the purely kinetic adventures, but from the lies they're forced to live and the compromises demanded of them.

It's great. Give it a look.

Van Helsing is different again. Based on a graphic novel it's more gloriously B-Movie inspired, although not as batshit B-grade as, say, Z Nation. A volcanic eruption which blots out the sun allows vampires to come out of the shadows and establish themselves at the top of the food chain. This could set up a standard Walking Dead rip off, except for the eponymous female lead: Vanessa Helsing, a woman bitten and killed in the early moments of the vampire uprising, but one who doesn't turn because of a pre-existing blood disease. Instead she becomes a sort of Buffy/Typhoid Mary imbued with vampire-killing physical skills and, more importantly, blood which is toxic to the biters. It turns them back into humans.

The first couple of eps are a bit wobbly, the acting a little wooden and even splintery, but by about six episodes in, the writers and actors have settled into their roles and it all accelerates nicely. It helps to remember that the source material is a graphic novel and that you should suspend your disbelief just that little bit harder.

But again, it's great escapist fun and well worth bingeing a couple of eps to get into.

12 Responses to ‘Travelers and Van Helsing. (Spoilers)’

Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2017
Adding them to the list now,

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted February 9, 2017
I was looking at Van Helsing but it made it towards the bottom of the list because it looked so cheesy - only so much time and i'm way behind on other stuff. It has been bumped up the list based on recommendation. Travellers i haven't even got around to noticing yet. Hell, i'm still watching Dirk Gently i'm that far behind.

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted February 9, 2017
Yes, I enjoyed Travelers more than I expected. Action, SF concepts, but with more attention than usual to relatable human drama/melodrama about relationships and, dare I say it, feelings. I liked it.

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Aaron Campagnone ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2017
Spoiler for Van Helsing (minor)

Did anyone follow it until the bitter end.....really really poor twists (Mohamed) and silly silly character choices (doc). I think it started strong and then ran out of ideas and just threw the kitchen sink at the plot!!

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2017
Have you seen Westworld yet? I want to like it but it has been a slow slog for me.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2017
My mother loves that show! I've been meaning to buy it on iTunes because I don't subscribe to the only streamer here.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 10, 2017
Westworld was incredible, you'll love it

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted February 11, 2017
I find it a bit frustrating, though I love the scenes with Anthony Hopkins and Jeffery Wright (who starred in Ride with the Devil and played Felix in the Daniel Craig Bond movies). However, I do get a bit tired of Ed Harris, an actor I like, with a character I should like, going on about, "The Maze is all that matters now."

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 12, 2017
I found it to be one of those shows were so much stuff like "the Maze is all that matters now" only makes sense in the final episode, where all the disparate threads you've been following either get tied up, or enough other threads get tied up to give you an insight into a particular thread. A colleague watched the whole thing again last week and said that so much of it made more sense the second time around, when he knew where it was going.

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Miss Maudy mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2017
I've just finished Travelers, and I really enjoyed it. A lot more than I was expecting - proper story and all that and not just drama of the week. I'm hoping for a second series sooner rather than later. I'm watching Riverdale and The Expanse at the moment.

ntwinter mumbles...

Posted March 3, 2017
I absolutely loved The Expanse. Very 'true' feeling sci-fi - gritty and down to earth with very believable concepts and characters. Hanging out for season 2!
I'm also 80% through Travelers and found it very entertaining, though I did inwardly groan at the addict character with thoughts of some predictable paths they would take.
If I had to choose I would go The Expanse with a clear win.

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Gutz mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2017
+4000 for Travellers.
I thought Eric McCormack needed to find a role far removed from Will & Grace and this is a good fit. I like the little things where they experience every day things that do not exist tine the future. Oh and MacKenzie Porter is Hawwwt!

Van Helsing? its a car crash you cannot help to watch on the off chance it gets better? C'mon it can't get worse!
Z Nation has the silly Zed shtick market locked down, so it does now leave many avenues to go down. Er if they go time traveling zombies? I will drop it like nuclear waste!

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