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The Wire in widescreen HD

Posted December 3, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

HBO is releasing the series remastered for widescreenHD. Really interesting bit here at David Simon's blog, or interesting for those of us who make our quids by telling stories, about the power of story telling form. I would have thought that reframing a show like The Wire for wide screen was purely a matter of making it awesomer. But no. There are compromises:

... Over the past several months, looking at some of what the widescreen format offered, three things became entirely clear: First, there were many scenes in which the shot composition is not impaired by the transfer to 16:9, and there are a notable number of scenes that acquire real benefit from playing wide. An example of a scene that benefits would be, say, from the final episode of season two, when an apostolic semicircle of longshoremen forms around the body of Frank Sobotka. Fine as far as it goes, but the dockworkers are all that much more vulnerable, and that much more isolated by the death of their leader when we have the ability to go wider in that rare crane shot.

But there are other scenes, composed for 4:3, that lose some of their purpose and power, to be sure. An early example that caught my eye is a scene from the pilot episode, carefully composed by Bob, in which Wee Bey delivers to D’Angelo a homily on established Barksdale crew tactics. “Don’t talk in the car,” D’Angelo reluctantly offers to Wee Bey, who stands below a neon sign that declares, “burgers” while D’Angelo, less certain in his standing and performance within the gang, stands beneath a neon label of “chicken.”

That shot composition was purposed, and clever, and it works better in the 4:3 version than when the screen is suddenly widened to pick up additional neon to the left of Bey. In such a case, the new aspect ratio’s ability to acquire more of the world actually detracts from the intention of the scene and the composition of the shot. For that reason, we elected in the new version to go tighter on the shot in order to maintain some of the previous composition, albeit while coming closer to our backlit characters than the scene requires. It is, indeed, an arguable trade-off, but one that reveals the cost of taking something made in one construct and recasting it for another format. And this scene isn’t unique; there are a good number of similar losses in the transfer, as could be expected.

8 Responses to ‘The Wire in widescreen HD’

Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted December 3, 2014
I havnt seen the wire, does this extract have spoilers?

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted December 4, 2014
Yeah it does have spoilers. The Wire is such a slow burn that you probably won't notice the spoilers but best not read any further. It is defiantly worth a watch.


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puma asserts...

Posted December 4, 2014
I tried to get into it but couldn't. Maybe try again. I did enjoy Generation Kill immensely. Shame they didn't make more of that.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 4, 2014
Thanks Spanner. Yeah have heard good reports on it. I watched about half the pilot then got bored and flicked over. But being re-released in HD might be a reason to try again.

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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted December 4, 2014
I watched the first episode or so when it was finally shown on ABC2 (I think?), and I was strangely reminded of the old series Hill Street Blues. Didn't get into The Wire, but I have very fond memories of the other David Simon/ Baltimore series, Homicide.

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Aaron puts forth...

Posted December 4, 2014
For those interested there is a good interview with the actor who plays the junkie (can't remember the name - Latino American guy) on Marc marons WTF podcast. A good listen all the interviews are long form

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Spanner ducks in to say...

Posted December 4, 2014
The Wire is about building the case slowly and methodically a "police procedural" before the event rather than the forensics TV shows we see after the event. It's also about the dealers side of the equation and how they set up their own procedures not to get caught.

I will admit that watching the box set in 4:3 did give me the irrits.

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Crocko asserts...

Posted December 4, 2014
I started on the Wire when it was on abc 2, and then drifted away from it. When I got sick of being told it was "the greatest show ever" I went back and watched it on box set. I was hooked, and it pretty much chewed up 2 weeks of a January holiday. Stick with it as the pay off is worth it, but as others have said, it is a slow burn.

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JJ Abrams to adapt Stephen King's '63' for Hulu

Posted September 24, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

Da King's alternate history/time travel epic is a great pick for a long form adaptation. And I usually love most of whatever Abrams does. Where the hell he's going to find the time to do it, and whether we'll ever see it here in Oz – outside of Foxtel – is another matter.

11/22/63 to use the book's full (and really awful) title is arguably King's best work. The story of Jake Epping, an English teacher, as King once was, who uses a friend's, er, timey-wimey portal to skip back to 1958 and eventually to try and foil the Kennedy assassination, was something of a critical break through – being widely and favorably reviewed as a work of literature as much as genre. Some actual critics of real grown up books pronounced it the best novel of 2011

I enjoyed it so much I'm thinking I might do the audiobook with Thomas once we finish The Stand.

Still, Hulu.

I have grave reservations about the availability of this series when it is finally released. I won't be stealing it, natch, but if Foxtel locks it up I might have to wait until it's released on disc or try to get it from US iTunes or something.

My commitment to paying for content doesn't extend to respecting Darth Rupert's practise of hording and gouging.

24 Responses to ‘JJ Abrams to adapt Stephen King's '63' for Hulu’

beeso swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 24, 2014
I would argue. Still haven't finished it. Maybe i'm too young for all the Kennedy stuff to be cool?

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted September 24, 2014
Coinkadinkally, the quiz on stuff.co.nz had a question on this very book today. Unfortunately I do the quiz before reading CBG so I got it wrong - wrong on so many levels.

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schlepstar mumbles...

Posted September 24, 2014
As an aside, Interesting you draw the distinction between accessing Hulu to that of accessing the US Itunes. Hulu is available for only $8 a month, with a with a VPN account. The endless merry-go-round of the 'legality' of such a set up in Australia has and continues to be debated of course.

thetick is gonna tell you...

Posted September 24, 2014
It's legal. And encouraged by two government panels so far. :) Hulu TOS might not agree, but they have no legal recourse as far as I am aware beyond switching it off for you.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 24, 2014

and while it sounds cool, I have reservations after watching the adaption of Mr King's 'Under the Dome' for television. Shudder that was awful, and I don't mean it was full of awe either.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 24, 2014
"The Dome wants us to say it with flowers."

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted September 24, 2014
I loved Stephen King's book, Under the Dome. I bought it and his On Writing some time ago. About time I read some more of his work, and 63 (year I was born in) and The Stand sound like great books to further my King reading.

I watched a couple of TV episodes of Under The Dome but they didn't live up to the vision I had from the book. I found what the TV series mediocre. Film rarely manages to capture the integrity of a great book. The characters in the TV series seemed flat against the book's characters. I didn't watch more after a couple of episodes, as I didn't want to be further disappointed with the memories I enjoyed from the book.

I loved JJ Abrams Lost TV series and own the DVD set. It's shame that Under The Dome doesn't live up to the high bar set by Lost.

Anyway, still a huge fan of JJ Abrams.

JG

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 24, 2014
"The Dome wants us to eat less fried food."

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted September 24, 2014
Isn't he a bit distracted with Star Wars?

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BigWillieStyle swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 24, 2014
Off topic. I just got back from my lunch hour, strolling around the streets. Didn't see one Aussie getting beheaded by Islamic terrorists. Huzzah!

Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted September 24, 2014


<A href="http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-the-iphone-made-us-junkies-20140924-10kjj0.html">http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-the-iphone-made-us-junkies-20140924-10kjj0.html</A>


Off topic too

insomniac asserts...

Posted September 24, 2014
Remain ... ah ... remain alert ... ah ah ... alert citizen Willie ... citizen Willie ... ... ... ... ah ... Team Austraya

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Michael mumbles...

Posted September 24, 2014
You could, as you know, with some non-illegal trickery sign up to Hulu.

...and get SNL/Daily Show/Colbert/Brooklyn nine nine and a bunch of other stuff to boot.

Like Louie C.K. say, take my money and give me the thing!

Lulu asserts...

Posted September 24, 2014
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is being shown on SBS. The others unfortunately are not.

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Kay Orchison puts forth...

Posted September 24, 2014
*hoarding

Though Newscorp could arguably be described as a horde

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Halwes reckons...

Posted September 25, 2014
Mr B, Do you do book signings at a bookshop or somewhere when your new books come out? I

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 25, 2014
Good Question, H. I'd normally do a full tour, but since the first one comes out on Dec 23 I don't see that happening. I can easily get around Brisneyland, of course. And I have a few shops I routinely sign for up here. But outside of the deep north, I dunno yet. Maybe I'll tour the middle book?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 25, 2014
Tour the middle book in California. Have you seen LA?

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted September 25, 2014
LA is a great big freeway

Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 25, 2014

If you want to tour Arnhem Land give me an e-mail. You might not sell many books, not many people can read around here, but you'd certainly catch a lot of fish! Accommodation and food ( fish and more fish) supplied

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 25, 2014
Put a hundred down and buy a car.

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Evan reckons...

Posted September 25, 2014
If Frank Darabont were doing it I would be excited.

With Abrams, I just dread the imminent desecration of something I loved. He's already done it to me with Star Trek.

pi is gonna tell you...

Posted September 25, 2014
Really? I'm definitely an ol' trekker, and I loved the new star-treks. The first one was an absolute cracker IMO.

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S.M. Stirling asserts...

Posted September 28, 2014
It's definitely one of his best books... right up until the giant earthquakes where the universe somehow inexplicably takes its revenge for revisions of history.

I mean, please, "there are Things We Are Not Meant To Do/Know"? Oh, please.

It's a pity, because for me that spoiled a great book. The period flavor is impeccable and the research is great and the writing is good.

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Dr WTF

Posted August 27, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

Sometimes a comment is worth pulling out and running as a standalone entry even if I disagree with it. Or sometimes, especially if I disagree with it.

Simon Garlic's rant about the first Capaldi episode is so drenched with ranty spit balls it seemed a shame few would see it at the end of comment thread half a week old.

So, here's Simon's take on the first ep of the new Doctor:


This episode existed for one reason – to reassure younger fans of New Who that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old. Clara gets upgraded from being a piece of the set to being an audience surrogate. Still not a character though.
The dinosaur out of its time, lost, all alone. “The world is grey, everything I knew is gone.” We get it.
The robot out of its time, repairing itself for millennia, all alone. Come on Moffat, we get it.
The broom speech. “There’s nothing of you left”. The face in the tray bit showing 12 his own face. Fuck Moff, give it a rest.
Vastra’s veil speech. “He’s old. The young face was just an act. If you can’t accept that he’s older, you are a shallow person.” Jenny to Clara. “I don’t just like her, I love her, even though she’s different.” If you are just “liking” him for his looks, you don’t really love him. MOFFAAATTTTTT
Clara: fucking everything in the whole episode. Oh, she’s only 27? Gee, thanks for that Strax, that line didn’t half stand out like dog’s bollocks. “Hey Doc, that’s not the only grey hair”, and just in case you haven’t been slapped in the face with it enough, here comes a call from Clara’s boyfriend so that Matt Smith can explain to the audience – I mean, Clara – that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old and grey.
The “Clara doesn’t understand regeneration and wants her young Doctor back” plot was inexplicable shit. She has more understanding of Time Lord regen than anyone! She spent time with three different Doctors of different ages simultaneously in the 50th, and thanks to the crap Impossible Girl crap story arc crap she’s the only companion to have personally encountered every different incarnation of the Doctor across 2,000 years. Shit. Fuck you Moffat, lazy writing.
Episode highpoints: Capaldi, “times like these I miss Amy”, eyebrows.
Episode lowpoints: everything else.

At a higher level this episode embodies something even more annoying – Moffatt’s twin tendencies to
a) regurgitate his own previous plots and storylines - S08E01 is basically S02E04 “The Girl In The Fireplace” (writer: Steven Moffatt) re-done to emphasis the Doctor's age. Clockwork robots in a broken time-traveling spaceship trying to harvest human bodyparts to perform repairs, the Doctor struck with the reality that he's ancient and immortal and personal relationships with humans just don't work; and
b) make the Doctor a timetraveling Sherlock Holmes. Moffatt is lead writer and showrunner of “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” at the same time, and it shows. Not in a good way.

14 Responses to ‘Dr WTF’

BigWillieStyle has opinions thus...

Posted August 27, 2014
Just to backtrack about 5 posts - got me a copy of Andrew McMillen's "Talking Smack" book. Very good read, recommend to all Burgers. Particularly liked Lindy Morrison's tale about stealing Nick Cave's heroin accidentally on purpose.

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Spanner ducks in to say...

Posted August 27, 2014
As much as I enjoyed that ep. I found something vaguely irritating about it. Then I realised that I find all new Dr's irritating.

(I found all the Matt Smith eps hugely irritating and couldn't wait for him to regenerate but that's a separate topic )

I'm not sure it was bad writing bashing us over the head as Simon says rather it was a regenerated Dr ep. Many of them have been ham fisted, such as the the Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker ep in Robot or the somewhat more eloquently done in the Tom Baker to Peter Davidson ep Castrolova but all leave us with a sense of dislocation from a beloved character. The dislocation makes our immersion in the world that little bit less deep and we can start to see the flaws in the writing that we would otherwise forgive.

@simongarlick asserts...

Posted August 28, 2014
Hey, I didn't say it was BAD writing, I said it was LAZY writing. It was a script with a Message that reused plot elements from one script and ignored discontinuity with others.

Take your point on the dislocation; I remember watching Doc 5 having a moment lying under that bit of the Zero Room and thinking "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT BRING MY DOCTOR BACK". And I luuuuuuurved Tennant and I wanted to hate Smith. But man S05E01 The Eleventh Hour was pretty damn good. (You couldn't not love Matt Smith after his very first episode. Somehow the youngest actor managed to play the most elderly-FEELING Doctor.) I don't think a regen episode by its very nature HAS to feel like a flawed script.

Having Karen Gillan in a sexy police outfit helps, of course.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted August 28, 2014

Summary - Dr Who is overblown twaddle. Yep.

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@simongarlick reckons...

Posted August 28, 2014
"Ranty spit balls"? :)

Hey don't get me wrong, Doctor Who fanboy since forever, Moff is in the pantheon of heroes just for being part of the team that brought DW back, love his writing in just about everything. But I think he's overreaching himself being writer and producer on two demanding, intelligent, high-profile shows at once. Every time I see something Sherlocky in Doctor Who I start foaming at the mouth, because the DW fanboy in me wants Moff to eat sleep and breathe making DW as awesome as possible, not be swanning around the world doing distracting trivial shit like winning Emmy awards for Sherlock. (I'M LOOKING AT YOU TOO, GATISS)

The fact that Deep Breath felt so preachy to the audience while so self-evidently recycling the "Fireplace" story with Sherlocky stuff thrown in just felt lazy. All it lacked was a timey-wimey bootstrap-paradox resolution to be a satire of a Moffat script.

I also want Moff to lift his game because Season 7, from the Snowmen to regeneration into 12, was IMHO the weakest season since the reboot. The character of Clara in S7 was a fembot with three settings - running, puzzled, or smirking. Like I said in the first rant, that inane Impossible Girl story arc made her a plot device, not a character. And the central character of the Doctor suffered for it, much love for Matt Smith but Lord knows he didn't have much to work with given S7's scripts.

And if I see the goddamn Weeping Angels anywhere in S8 I swear I will make a critical post to the Internet, BY THE GODS I SWEAR IT.

PS: Garlick

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted August 28, 2014
Best episode of Dr. Who I have seen since the series went out of production in the 1990s.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted August 28, 2014
ha! After Mr Garlick's posts that tickled my ribs. I kinda agree with Garlick though - a friend pointed out: what's with the slapstick gobshite?

I think Capaldi will carry it on well. I have a personal theory one of the reasons they upgraded the age of the actor playing the doc is that they want to bring in a bit of love action with River Song again and social conventions can't have a protracted (more involved) love story arc with a young male and an older female.

Feel free to shoot me down in flames - my attention span during the last doctor who series was waning a bit so may have missed some crucial plot points.

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 28, 2014
WHO...THE...FUCK....IS...M.O.F.F.E.T.T.!!!!!!!

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Aaron is gonna tell you...

Posted August 28, 2014
I agree that Moffat is over stretched but to be fair a regen episode is always going to be hamstrung by the need to accommodate any new viewers starting with that series. At the end of the day it's a family friendly show. And yes yes yes to no no no of reoccurring Cyber men daleks and angels etc. it's done

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NBlob reckons...

Posted August 29, 2014
Sorry Chaps & Chapette, I lost interest in the Dr in 1978.

However * Off Topic Warning* I would be most pleased for a discussion stimulated by the rather excellent Mz Razors latest piece. Wherein she flogs the left like only one who knows us intimately can.

As per usual it is stuffed to the gills with potty talk, adult themes and the quite excellent "The Congress is a vat of infinite Stupid kept simmering to a salmonella heat by the fuel of thrice-digested bullshit."
http://badhostess.com/naughty-step/

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 29, 2014
On the internet somewhere is a photo of me at a Dr Who fan convention in 1983.

I always find Ms Razer's floggings entertaining when directed at others, and perhaps even when captured in the spotlight glare. A little like being whipped with a used condom, it might sting a little but doesn't bruise, smells funny and there's the risk of some unpleasantness involving bio-hazards.

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robW mutters...

Posted August 30, 2014
I didn't like Dr. Who when I moved to Scotland in 1978 and was too stupid to figure out that the Scots had fuses in their electric plugs. I watched Dr. Who because the light from the "Telly" was the only light available in the corporate flat besides that from the refrigerator. It wasn't Star Trek and William Shatner enough for me, or maybe I was just freaked out having arrived myself, not in a phone booth but in a TWA 747 and a weird BA flight where they only served tea and spoke funny.

I didn't care for Dr. Who when I moved to England in 1982. I was sophisticated then and understood the concept of fuses in electrical outlets. I even understood drinking tea by that time and could perfectly understand a highlands accent, and I could drive on the left side of the road with practiced ease and I knew the streets of London like the lines on the back of my hand and I knew all the best (or worst) pubs in Earls Court. Still, Dr. Who sucked.

I didn't like Dr. Who when it was on PBS in LA in 1985. Didn't like it when it was on Denver Rocky Mountain PBS in 1990. Saw it in Mexico City in 1995 or so. In Spanish. Lasted about 2 minutes. Couldn't keep awake watching it on KQED in San Francisco in 2000. Could care less about it in 2005 when I saw it in a hotel room in New York City. Hated it in another hotel room in Phoenix in 2008. Didn't like it in yet another hotel room in Florence, Italy, in 2010 when the Doctor was speaking in dubbed Italian. In 2012 (or was it 2013) it was supposed to be "All New!" and I watched 3/4ths of an episode on BBC America. Can't remember where I saw it. Denver. Perhaps Oklahoma City. Maybe Houston, or possibly that steamy evening in New Orleans where the air conditioning was going full blast and the condensation was dripping down the hotel window.

While channel surfing the other night I momentarily landed yet again on BBC America. Some show about cops in 1880s New York who speak with a Cork, Ireland accent. I can tell a Cork accent from a mile away. The announcer said that Dr. Who was up next. I couldn't contemplate it.

I turned it off.

I must be yet another Yankee barbarian who doesn't know fine SF when he sees it. Still, JB, would like to spend a few hours with one of your new novels soon. Much better than the Doctor, I'm sure...

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Mark has opinions thus...

Posted August 30, 2014
Mofatt is great. It's all about flow. Even when the plots are blatantly utilitarian what makes a great writer is their flow. Like Gaiman, Falkner, Twain (insert great writer whose plots you don't like), when their plots fail/bore, their writing voice still comes through like a sack of literary bricks on your grown-men-complaining-about-a-children's-show heads. With Moffat it comes through in his dialogue.

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Halwes asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014

I thought that last night's Dr Who was <A href="mailto:cr@p">cr@p</A>. Since Simongarlick so kindly intellectualised it for me I've been looking for flaws. The worst thing is that he is right about lazy plots and stupid Daleks. I still like the new doctor and I think that he has potential but I'd like more substance to the deduction of problems in the plot. It's no fun if it's predictable. I mean who didn't know that that Dalek was going to turn nasty again after he was repaired? I suspect that the "good" Dalek is going to be a recurring theme and what about all that heaven stuff?

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The new Doctor

Posted August 25, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

Worked until 9.30 last night, trying to get the current manuscript out the door today. Rewarded myself with the latest episode of Dr Who on iView. I've only watched a handful of Smith/Tennant eps so there was a lot of backstory and fan service I knew I was missing in the opening scenes. (Who are these lesbian crime fighters, one lizard one not?)

But still, I enjoyed it hugely and thought the storyline about identity and its loss was deftly handled. Capaldi was great, although I did keep waiting for him to burst into obscenities. Maybe next week when the Daleks show up.

For now, it's back to that manuscript.

30 Responses to ‘The new Doctor’

Halwes asserts...

Posted August 25, 2014

I also think Capaldi was a great doctor and the storyline was original and interesting. It got a bit soppy a couple of times but overall excellent.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted August 25, 2014
I've got to admit that Dr. Who has left me cold since it went out of production in the 1990s. I've tried to warm up to the new series but without much luck.

I did watch the last bit of the new episode last night and I have to say his performance was first rate.

"I'm not your boyfriend," is a line I think many of us have been waiting to hear for years.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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JBtoo asserts...

Posted August 25, 2014
It struggled to hold my attention, probably because I was a huge Matt Smith fan and it will take a while to accept Capaldi in the role. It was the same for me when Tennant took over from Ecclestone.

The best bit about the "I'm not your boyfriend" line was the follow up that he was reminding himself, not her.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2014

+1

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Miss maudy is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2014
I really struggled with the Matt Smith incarnation at first, mainly because he reminded me of someone I used to work with who was a completely gormless git who also used to flirt clumsily with ALL the girls, not because of anything wrong with his Doctor. I think it took me all of his first season to get my head around the fact he wasn't Azza with a dark wig!

So, I think I was more open minded this time to a new Doctor... I enjoyed the episode, I enjoyed all the past references, and there were a couple of moments toward the end where I started to feel like Peter Capaldi would be alright (when they went for coffee was one of them; and I liked the not your boyfriend line as well.)

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Therbs mutters...

Posted August 25, 2014
Apparently there were quite a few disappointed whovians who had woken up for the 5.00 A.M. broadcast on Sunday. That's 5 fkn A fkn M on fkn Sunday. I'd be well disappointed too getting up that early for something which ain't live sport. Deserve whatever they get.

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Aaron asserts...

Posted August 25, 2014
I have liked all the incarnations so far but Matt smith took a while as I think the writing has suffered since Russell Davies left as main writer after the end of tenant. The 50th anniversary ep got me back on board. I have a great feeling about capaldi. For next doctor I would live to see one who still solves with his smarts but is more uncompromising with his enemies. Ps and no more bloody daleks. They are done alright.

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted August 25, 2014
I have liked all the incarnations so far but Matt smith took a while as I think the writing has suffered since Russell Davies left as main writer after the end of tenant. The 50th anniversary ep got me back on board. I have a great feeling about capaldi. For next doctor I would live to see one who still solves with his smarts but is more uncompromising with his enemies. Ps and no more bloody daleks. They are done alright.

Dave W mumbles...

Posted August 25, 2014

I can live without a cliffhanger season-ender featuring Daleks and/or Cyberman, too. In fact, I think I heard that they've aimed for storytelling is different and has a slower pace. So I hope this means that the baddies will be different, too.

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Bunyip is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2014
The dinner invite / larder quip was golden.

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted August 25, 2014
And excellently recapped by the indomitable Girl Clumsy.

Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted August 25, 2014
Girl Clumsy is totally domitable.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2014
would you prefer the unsinkable girl clumsy?

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Boscolamb asserts...

Posted August 26, 2014
I'm slowly warming to Capaldi, but I hate the Scottish accent. To my American ear, entire sentences he'd rush through sounded like jibberish. Even rewinding the DVR didn't help. I think I'm not alone in this. I hope producers take note.

Halwes mutters...

Posted August 26, 2014

Come off it. No one butchers the queen's ( god save her fascist soul ) english like the yanks. I have to use the sub titles when I watch American shows.

Lulu asserts...

Posted August 26, 2014
I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but to my ears it sounded as if Capaldi had toned down the Scottishness slightly. He was much more Scottish on The Thick Of It (and like JB I keep waiting for him to turn into Mr Sweary),

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 26, 2014
Might I suggest this

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Aaron asserts...

Posted August 26, 2014
Watched it last night. Pretty happy overall but again moffat who has great ideas seems to rely on blind luck for his characters yo escape rather than pulling the rug out with some clever sleight of doctor hand. But capaldi brings it so looking forward to it.

Lizard lesbians? Yeah why not

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted August 26, 2014
There is something about lesbians in general that I've always considered a touch reptilian.

Not that there is anything wrong with it.

Blarkon mutters...

Posted August 26, 2014
Not at all.

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Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 26, 2014

Gees in two days you've pissed off Maoris and lessos PNB. Let's hope you never run into a 16 stone Maori lesso. Although that would be an encounter I'd like to watch.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted August 26, 2014
Thought it was the weakest "new Doctor" episode since the reboot. Ultimately the show stands or falls on the writing and for every "Doctor's Wife" and "Blink" there's been a lot of chaff. They've got a great lead, but the question seems to be is anyone still able to come up with new material that leverages that to its fullest extent?

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Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 26, 2014
Interesting Fact: Capaldi has an Oscar.

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damian asserts...

Posted August 26, 2014
I vaguely remember that when Colin Baker came in there was talk of a move to a "darker" doctor, though of course this did not happen. I suppose in the meantime they've done this with the John Hurt doctor, but Capaldi seems like the best opportunity for some morally ambivalent inner tension since Hartnell (who did that rather well, as I understand it).

It's sort of a pity there wasn't more than one telemovie with Paul McGann. Not that I'm saying it'd necessarily have been awesome or anything (it could, or it could flop badly... hypothetical alt history stuff there), just it could have provided some neat "improving" stories for the canon.

damian would have you know...

Posted August 26, 2014
I should say - one telemovie and one 5 minute teaser to introduce Hurt.

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Aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 27, 2014
I liked the john hurt war weary doctor and wish they would go there more but they don't want to hurt their family friendly brand I guess.

I think some more writers with Moffat at head would make a lot more blink quality episodes.

I hope they do a spin off lizard lesbian chronicles.

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simongarlick would have you know...

Posted August 27, 2014
This episode existed for one reason – to reassure younger fans of New Who that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old. Clara gets upgraded from being a piece of the set to being an audience surrogate. Still not a character though.

The dinosaur out of its time, lost, all alone. “The world is grey, everything I knew is gone.” We get it.

The robot out of its time, repairing itself for millennia, all alone. Come on Moffat, we get it.

The broom speech. “There’s nothing of you left”. The face in the tray bit showing 12 his own face. Fuck Moff, give it a rest.

Vastra’s veil speech. “He’s old. The young face was just an act. If you can’t accept that he’s older, you are a shallow person.” Jenny to Clara. “I don’t just like her, I love her, even though she’s different.” If you are just “liking” him for his looks, you don’t really love him. MOFFAAATTTTTT

Clara: fucking everything in the whole episode. Oh, she’s only 27? Gee, thanks for that Strax, that line didn’t half stand out like dog’s bollocks. “Hey Doc, that’s not the only grey hair”, and just in case you haven’t been slapped in the face with it enough, here comes a call from Clara’s boyfriend so that Matt Smith can explain to the audience – I mean, Clara – that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old and grey.

The “Clara doesn’t understand regeneration and wants her young Doctor back” plot was inexplicable shit. She has more understanding of Time Lord regen than anyone! She spent time with three different Doctors of different ages simultaneously in the 50th, and thanks to the crap Impossible Girl crap story arc crap she’s the only companion to have personally encountered every different incarnation of the Doctor across 2,000 years. Shit. Fuck you Moffat, lazy writing.

Episode highpoints: Capaldi, “times like these I miss Amy”, eyebrows.
Episode lowpoints: everything else.


At a higher level this episode embodies something even more annoying – Moffatt’s twin tendencies to

a) regurgitate his own previous plots and storylines - S08E01 is basically S02E04 “The Girl In The Fireplace” (writer: Steven Moffatt) re-done to emphasis the Doctor's age. Clockwork robots in a broken time-traveling spaceship trying to harvest human bodyparts to perform repairs, the Doctor struck with the reality that he's ancient and immortal and personal relationships with humans just don't work; and

b) make the Doctor a timetraveling Sherlock Holmes. Moffatt is lead writer and showrunner of “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” at the same time, and it shows. Not in a good way.

Dick puts forth...

Posted August 27, 2014
Tell us what you really think, Simon. Stop holding back.

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JG reckons...

Posted August 30, 2014
I like Capaldi as the new doctor.

The first Dr Who episode screened in November 1963 when I was five months old.

I have faint memories of watching Dr Who on black-and-white TV. Some memories of Jon Pertwee (and maybe the doctor before him), but Tom Baker (long scarf doctor) is the one I think I saw the most of, even though he annoyed me.

I remember that Catweazel used to screen right before Dr Who on TV. Both pretty scary shows for young children. I was terrified of the Daleks.

Not really a keen Dr Who fan, but I may start watching the odd show now again. I enjoyed the new series pilot with Capaldi. I saw him interviewed by Julie Z before it went to air, so I guess I already grew to like him before the show went to air. He's refreshing and kinda sexy.

JG

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Sharknado 2, the Sequelator

Posted July 11, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

20 Responses to ‘Sharknado 2, the Sequelator’

Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted July 11, 2014
I must be the only person who hasn't seen the first.
I will wait for the box set and watch them in one sitting.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted July 11, 2014
Someone is getting paid for writing this stuff. Their life is awesome.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted July 12, 2014
Rumor has it that it is being written by two 12 year old boys in exchange for snacks and video games.

Blarkon reckons...

Posted July 12, 2014
If they offered Apple Store Vouchers ...

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Vovchara mutters...

Posted July 12, 2014
kinda sad, so many good books as a base for good films/tv shows, instead we get this kind of crap...

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Vovchara reckons...

Posted July 12, 2014
kinda sad, so many good books as a base for good films/tv shows, instead we get this kind of crap...

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted July 12, 2014
The future is filled with low quality high margin stuff.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted July 12, 2014
There were thousands of low quality, high margin "B" motion pictures followed by countless even low quality, high margin television shows followed by even lower quality, higher margin cable shows followed by....

The past is the present is the future.

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Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted July 13, 2014
Exactly. We get stuff like Offspring and Wonderland but not Tasmanian Babes Fiasco. Hands up who thinks that Fiasco score well, but have to be on the ABC/SBS due to subject matter?

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted July 14, 2014
Sure it's crap but then you will get people like Spielberg and Lucas who grew up on trashy stuff of their day and do their own take. Not that sharknado fills me with confidence for the future

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2014
One day some small child will grow up to make a high budget, mega remake of Sharknado and it will be the Raiders of the Lost Ark for that generation, filled with artistic merit and deep meaning.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2014

<EM>Raiders of the Lost Ark </EM>has artistic merit? WTF did I watch?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 14, 2014
RoTLA is a fucking dinkum cinematic masterpiece, you munted wanker.

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2014

Oops, for a moment there I thought you were engaging in satire. My bad.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2014


I just wondered if there were themey things I was missing, PNB. It's entirely possible, you see. And mettyfors, can't forget those.


That third (or was it the fourth?) one, though, where he started out by escaping a nucular blast by getting into a fridge, that was complete shite by general consensus, right?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 15, 2014
Stepping away from my online ironic opinionated bogan persona, I say with all sincerity that I only enjoyed the first one, and most of the third. The others were - adopting the venacular - shite. Awful.

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luckedoutout is gonna tell you...

Posted July 14, 2014
Finally, a reason to live.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted July 14, 2014


Pa, the spamtrolls have got into the solar project agin.


Oh and please may we have a permenant linkage somewhere?

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Brother PorkChop asserts...

Posted July 14, 2014
Damn you again JB. An hour and 23 minutes lost time looking at trailers. Once you see one you can't stop. Machines v Alienz looks kinda interesting. Surely he is leading them away from the RV point, surely...

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Review of Star Trek Continues Ep : Fairest of Them All

Posted June 17, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

By our special guest, Steven Francis Murphy

I am too young to have watched Star Trek: The Original Series during the first run in the late 1960s. The last episode aired in 1969, two years before I was born. It would not be until the late 1970s, at about the same time Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and a host of other science fiction shows filled the marketplace. How many of us remember our first taste of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy standing on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, without the bloody A, B, C, or D, while sitting in front of a thick, large black and white or rudimentary color television set?

Granted, not every episode was worth spending time on, Spock's Brain being the prime example. Yet when Star Trek hit the mark it made the audience ponder the notion of humanity's role in history throughout the decades. Gene Roddenberry, in the depths of the Cold War, facing nuclear annihilation, a country torn by protests over war, civil rights and the like, saw a future where we did not blow ourselves into atoms are descend into anarchy. Which did not mean that the future was all sunshine and bunny rabbits in an Age of Aquarius, there was plenty of room for fists, torn shirts, and phasers spiced with great discussions about morality.

Three seasons hardly seemed enough and much ink and pixel dust has spent spilled lamenting the loss of a fourth, fully funded season which might have made up for the missteps of the third. There seemed to be so much material available upon which to ask the simple question.

What happened to Khan? How about that Apollo guy? Did he just disappear in a flash of pixie dust? The Gangster Planet, how did they turn out?

We got a movie to deal with Khan, one of the best in the franchise, which every movie since has tried to emulate. Yes, I know that J.J. Abrams did a Khan movie as well. But, well, it just isn't the same.

For decades, if you wanted to know the rest of the story, you could read the novels, go to conventions or play the roleplaying games. Once the new series came online in the late 1980s with Star Trek: The Next Generation, you could from time to time, get a glimpse, a mention, perhaps a taste of what happened during the unseen parts of the original series.

Still not the same? The uniforms were nicer in most cases, save for the spandex of Picard's bunch. The technology was cleaner, neater, supported by the latest in CGI. But the charm of those pullover red shirts poking at Christmas lights on a black board was missing.

Fans, friends, fellow Trekkers, if you have been thirsty for the original vintage you do not have to wait any longer. Advances in technology coupled with decreasing costs of production have placed the means to make new episodes in the hands of every human today. There are a number of Star Trek based fan productions currently crafting new episodes and in many cases, feature length films. For them, they do not do it for profit, it is an act of service, and a labor of love.

Case in point?

Star Trek Continues, based down Georgia Way, using the sets of another fan based production, Starship Farragut, has produced three episodes thus far. They are the newest kids on the block when compared to James Cawley's Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II but they seem to have tapped into something that Cawley's efforts have been missing.

First, for better or worse, they found someone who actually bears a resemblance, in speech, mannerisms, and appearance, to William Shatner. Vic Mignogna can, if you are not quite paying attention to the screen, convince the viewer that you have an original episode on the screen. Is he an exact copy of Shatner? No, that would be impossible. None of the other cast members are able to pull off perfect impressions of the original actors but they are able to capture the essence of their respective characters.

Spock, portrayed by, Todd Haberkorn, does not fall into trying to imitate the The Motion Picture variant of Spock. His delivery and mannerisms reflect the subtle changes in tone and mood that Spock, supposedly an emotionless Vulcan, was capable of displaying throughout the franchise. He doesn't make the mistake of trying to sound like a computer.

Mister Scott, everyone's favorite red shirt who is too tough to be killed, is portrayed by James Doohan's son, Chris. Like Vic, he can almost fool the discerning viewer.

Two different individuals have portrayed Leonard McCoy thus far and it would be unfair to just based on so few performances. Larry Nemecek certainly brings out McCoy's passion, his anger, his plain spoken vernacular. He doesn't look like him, which some purists will be upset about but to this reviewer, whether or not the actor actually looks like their original counterpart should be a non issue.

There is a whole host of original supporting characters, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, who all seem to be growing into their roles, becoming more relaxed and natural with each passing episode. They are augmented by new characters such as the ship's first counselor.

Star Trek Continues has produced three episodes thus far, all of which are available at their website for free. Naturally, they accept donations and they are able to produce these episodes by virtue of a very successful kickstarter campaign. The first episode, Pilgrim, gives an old Enterprise nemesis, Apollo, an opportunity to redeem himself. The second, Lolani, gives the Original Series an encounter with the Slave Culture of the Orions, raising questions about the Prime Directive, cultural relativism, and in general, when to do the right thing.

The latest takes the Original Series back to the Mirror Universe. With the exception of the tribble episode on Deep Space Nine, no other original series episode has inspired so many follow on episodes. A quick glance at the Star Trek website Memory Alpha shows there are no less than seven follow on episodes, five in Deep Space Nine depicting the aftermath of the fall of the Terran Empire plus a two part prequel in Star Trek Enterprise.

So, what happened after Captain Kirk and the Command Team returned to their original universe in Mirror, Mirror?

Episode Three, Fairest of Them All, answers that for us.

There are spoiler ahead, so be forewarned.

In the Mirror Universe, Captain Kirk returns to find that the Halkan Civilization stands untouched by the phasers of the I.S.S. Enterprise. When he attempts to correct this, Mr. Spock, who has considered the words of the Federation Captain, tries to convince his own Captain of the merits of lesser measures.

The Mirror Kirk nods his head, says Spock has given him much to consider, and orders a planetary barrage. Toss in a photon torpedo spread while you are at it. Excessive, but examples have to be made. Unintended consequences follow on the planet's surface which put the dilithium crystals in jeopardy. The stakes are raised when the rebel Andorians arrive to attack the Enterprise. It turns out that the eventual extermination of the Halkan people from the radiation and fallout of the orbital barrage may serve as a catalyst for the fall of the Terran Empire.

Mirror Spock acts. In short order, he convinces Mr. Scott, who saw the Prime Universe, to aid him in a mutiny. The action is fast paced as Kirk and Spock jockey for control of the ship. Mirror Kirk's own megalomania, speaking a bit too free and honest with regard to his crew, proves to be his undoing. Rather than kill Kirk after another hand to hand combat scene, that would be two for the Mirror Spock in the same day, the Vulcan spares his former Captain.

Killing and violence is the Empire's way. Spock realizes that if he emulates their methods in an effort to free themselves, they will only repeat their errors. Kirk and his followers are given a shuttle while the I.S.S. Enterprise, now under the command of a more benevolent leader, gives the order to Chekov.

"Forward."

Chekov, for his part, looks relieved to be free of the Agony Booth.

As storytelling goes, it is fast paced, entertaining and captures that essence of the original series. In that regard, I'd give this episode a strong thumbs up. Vic clearly relishes his opportunities to get physical in the fight scenes, drawing upon that dark side to torture crewmembers with the Agonizer, or if that doesn't work, Sick Bay can truly become a Sick Bay. Haberkorn's Spock, however, gets the best speech award, repeating a recorded speech in calm, clear, logical tones about the eventual fall of the Empire and the value of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

Turns out most of the crew would prefer not to be the cannon fodder of some pirate inspired, dictator.

I do wonder, however, if Spock would attempt to move in such a rapid fashion. To attempt to save the Halkan People would precipitate a conflict with the Mirror Captain Kirk. Once the lines were drawn, Spock did not waste time going on the offensive. Yet I can't help but think that a Vulcan might move in a much more subtle manner, building over time a revolution as opposed to having a mutiny.

That said, Spock holding teach-ins in the shuttle bay during the third watch does not inspire much in the way of action and adventure. Nor could such a storyline be resolved in forty minutes if we take our starting point from the moment Mirror Kirk returns to his ship. A more plausible approach might have been to set the story a year or two later, but these are quibbles in what is otherwise a perfectly enjoyable story.

I do have one additional thought. When Mirror, Mirror first aired in the 1960s it was notably drawing upon Nazi Germany for inspiration. In a tangential sense, one might wonder if this is the universe Edith Keeler might have created had she not been hit by that truck in The City on the Edge of Forever. American viewers of that time and decades to follow, would never have drawn a comparison between the Mirror Universe's methods of discipline and torture with the conduct of American Foreign Policy.

On the other hand, if you watch that episode, and Fairest of Them All, today, in the year 2014, you might come away with a different impression. We live thirteen years into the War on Terror, in an era which condoned the use of black sites, torture and the like in order to secure ourselves from our enemies. It is a little too easy to swap out Mirror Kirk's sparkles and gold pirate wrap for someone in 5-11 Tactical Gear holding a bucket of water over someone's face, trying to get the information he needs.

Do you see what the episode might have done there? If you watched it with a questioning mind, you might have thought more about how it ties into today's issues. Rather than hammer one over the head with the story's one message, it instead chooses to let the viewer find that message on their own.

The best storytelling always does this and in this sense, I think this episode rises above any minor quibbles I might have about plot.

Go watch it and kick a few bucks their way so they can make more.

It has my recommendation.

18 Responses to ‘Review of Star Trek Continues Ep : Fairest of Them All’

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yankeedog ducks in to say...

Posted June 17, 2014
The earlier fan films, such as 'Starship Exeter' or 'Of Gods And Men' could rely on 'gee-whiz' CGI to enhance some kind of weak efforts-natural enough, given that most of these people aren't trained actors and they don't have the resources of a major studio behind them.

'Phase II' and 'Star Trek Continues', though, really seem to capture the look of the Original Series. The cinematography and editing are good, the stories are better in some cases than some of the Original Series, and like Murph said, if you didn't know better, you'd think you were watching Season Four.

I like Vic Mignogna's version of Captain Kirk. Mignogna looks a bit like Jack Lord (McGarrett from the original 'Hawaii Five-O'), which is interesting since Lord was considered for the role when Star Trek was being pitched. The rest of the roles I think are played quite well by their respective actors and actresses-no complaints there.

Murphy puts forth...

Posted June 17, 2014
I have to admit, I sometimes wonder about relations between the two main fan efforts on TOS. Cawley made an appearance in one of the Starship Farragut episodes so at one point they must have been in contact with each other. Yet now there are two separate efforts.

Which may not be a bad thing. If each produces three to four a year (ST Continues seems to be on a very aggressive production schedule)then the two projects could produce enough to fill out a season over a year.

Per the matter of looking like the Original Kirk, it is an often mentioned fan criticism of the Cawley effort but I think it is an extremely unfair one. We've had how many folks play James Bond, none of them look exactly alike, each take their own tack at the character yet no one complains much. There are the inevitable comparisons but otherwise folks are fairly mature about it. Cawley, on the other hand, got a fair amount of harassment from what little I have gleaned and he has since stepped back, found a new actor to play Captain Kirk who also, in his own way, resembles William Shatner, and has upgraded their production facilities.

It has been fascinating to watch them both.

There is one thing I should have mentioned. The role of women in the first two episodes, especially with newer characters, was fairly strong. In this episode they are more or less relegated to minor tasks. Uhura has a moment where she stands up to the Captain but it is short lived. I suppose this is in keeping with the Mirror Universe's objectification of women in general though you'd think Empress Hoshi Sato would have put an end to that crap.

One final note. If one goes with the two part Star Trek Enterprise episode as canon, then the U.S.S. Defiant was reverse engineered to create more Constitution Class ships. A sad reality is that there seems to have been little in the way of technological advancement in the intervening years. Surely the Terran Empire would be wary of technological stagnation but then again, they seemed to act as if they can always steal some advanced hardware and get by as they always have.

Makes you wonder if they believe in exceptionalism or, "God's Will."

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Lulu asserts...

Posted June 17, 2014
"We've had how many folks play James Bond, none of them look exactly alike,"

With the exception proving why this was a bad idea - Lazenby being picked because of his apparent resemblance to Connery.

Murphy would have you know...

Posted June 17, 2014
You know, I've never managed to finish watching that one.

Not a good thing when your villian (who loves ya, baby?) steals the movie from under your nose, either.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted June 17, 2014
This mirror universe is separate from the Enterprise mirror universe.

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted June 17, 2014
Oh?

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted June 17, 2014
I think there is a mirror universe where William Shatner is called Vic Mignogna.
I particularly appreciate Vic's Shatner walk. It's pretty well perfect.
And the way, when in his usual federation uniform, most of his stomach seems to be just under his chest and then he tapers down from there. The detail!

That's what I would have written about if I was doing the review. Thankfully Murph did it. Very good.


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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 18, 2014
"I am too young to have watched Star Trek..."

Yeah, well, I watched all of them. First run - with commercials for cigarettes and beer, and everything. And I loved Spock's Brain. It was, like, totally boss.

Steven (may I call you Steven?), I have always considered you a mate, pisan, mischocha - a peer. I realize now you are a young punk, a whippersnapper. Get your dog off my lawn!! Keep your yap shut!
I said zip it. Zip it! I'll call the police! Oh yeah? Who are they going to believe? You? I pay taxes. Do you pay taxes? Not yet, but you will, yes, you will!!!

No good, rotten kid....

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will access Netflix and watch Charlie X, the Naked Time, Shore Leave, Devil in the Dark and City on the Edge of Forever while drinking a Miller High Life (the champagne of bottled beer).

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 18, 2014
Lulz!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted June 18, 2014
Laugh all you like. Just keep your dog off my god damned lawn.

Therbs reckons...

Posted June 18, 2014

Hey Paul, off topic but I found Boylan Lawyers. They're located around Adelaide. Yeah, where where serial killers proliferate. Bodies get dumped in barrels, that sort of thing. Is it a coincidence that Boylan Lawyers have decided to set up shop in Serial Killer Central?


<A href="http://www.boylanlawyers.com.au/">http://www.boylanlawyers.com.au/</A>

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted June 18, 2014
Boylans tend to end up in Adelaide because they tend to be Crow fans. The serial killing is just a profitable coincidence.

Murphy asserts...

Posted June 19, 2014
Boylan, my friend, I'm laughing because my dog pooped on your orange tree.

I'm sure she saw it as a gift. :)

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted June 19, 2014
Have you been drinking?

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 19, 2014
I saw that earlier today.

Yeah, God forbid you upset anyone with your writing. Especially by failing to chuck in a, "Trigger Warning."

Sad times.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted June 19, 2014
Anyone else get that bit at the end where Mirror Kirk screams before the shuttle's doors are closed?

Love it.

Gotta wonder what happened to Khan in the Mirror Universe.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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