Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Sunday Review

This week's movie was Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. After we got the trade, I remembered that I'd never actually seen the original. I somehow missed it when it was online free. So I finally attempted to use Netflix streaming on my computer, and finally got it to work (possibly due to all the junk I've removed since my last try). And wow, that was intense. I was not expecting to have such an emotional reaction at the end. Definitely worth a watch, and my opinion of Neil Patrick Harris goes up another notch.

This week's comic book related review is Dr Horrible TP, a complement to the Sing-Along Blog. I made sure to watch the original before reading this, but it wasn't really necessary. Everything in this took place before the events in the Sing-Along, and were mostly background and support, including a series of linking stories. I enjoyed this, but not nearly as much as the original material it was based on.

TV this week:
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: "The Secret Serum" - Hell hath no fury! The team starts to fall apart as the relationships are strained to the limit. And Daphne finds a clue after practically being walloped over the head with it. The mystery wasn't as fun or interesting as some of the others on this show, but this was definitely a character episode anyway.
  • Sarah Jane Adventures: "The Nightmare Man" - Luke is moving on, but not before one last intense case. The episodes moved a little slow for my tastes, trying to build up tension that may work for the younger crowd but didn't work for me. I like how Mr Smith and K9 actually work together for once instead of constantly sniping at each other.
  • Destination Truth: "Ghosts of Menengai Crater/Kalanoro" - Yay, running around a volcanic crater in the middle of the night looking for ghosts! Wee! I admit my favorite part of the entire show was when Josh's pants were repaired by a street vendor in Nairobi. I liked his visit to Madagascar, particularly his visit with lemurs in the zoo. Pity they couldn't find the Kalanoro with the backwards feet. That would have been an interesting find.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Menace of the Madniks!" - Blue Beetle! I liked this one for a lot of reasons, although at the end of the story I almost expected Beetle to have survived due to the clues he got. I do love this show. Goofy and fun.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "A Disquiet Follows My Soul" - I'm beginning to not like Zarek. And learning the truth about Tyrol's kid was a powerful little moment. Unfortunately, we have to wait for the next disc from Netflix to get more of the show... so we'll wait. But we're getting close to the end now.

My library book this week was Masked edited by Lou Anders. This one started off with a powerful story that left me a bit stunned, and ended with a traditional superhero story that created an entire universe in just a few pages. I kept expecting a "bad" story, like you always get in an anthology, one that just doesn't work for you as a reader. I didn't run into any. There were stronger stories and weaker stories, but every single one was what I would call "good" at its worse. The mix is good, although they are all about super things, some are science fiction and others horror, and each one unique with a distinct voice. Anyway, I'll just get to the stories themselves.
  • Cleansed and Set in Gold by Matthew Sturges - A superhero must deal with his variable powers and their source. Wow. This one was just a punch in the gut. From the moment you figure out what is happening until the end, it's a gripping story with real teeth. Again, wow.
  • Where Their Worm Dieth Not by James Maxey - A detective hero discovers more than he wanted to know. Another punch in the gut. I was pretty impressed by the twist, but it made a lot of sense when you put everything else together. Another wow.
  • Secret Identity by Paul Cornell - What happens when your alter ego has significant differences from you? This was a thoughtful little story, with plenty of goofiness to make it work.
  • The Non-Event by Mike Carey - A heist goes horribly wrong. This one fit together like a puzzle, each piece adding to the whole. I like the way it is narrated and wasn't annoyed by the mildly clumsy info-dumps that filled out the world.
  • Avatar by Mike Baron - A young man decides to go vigilante. While this one was predictable in a lot of ways, the comparison of the protagonist to a character in a video game worked well to bring home just how innocent he really was.
  • Message from the Bubblegum Factory by Daryl Gregory - A former sidekick figures out when everything went wrong. Amazing little tale that makes entirely too much sense for a superhero world.
  • Thug by Gail Simone - A henchman learns why his life has become so miserable. Great story, if difficult to read because of the narrator choice. Still, the horror gets to you.
  • Vacuum Lad by Stephen Baxter - A man discovers he can survive hard vacuum, and decides to help people and earn a little money. Thanks to the flashback format, it wasn't hard to get a little idea of what was going to happen. But the entirety of the situation is still powerful.
  • A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Chris Roberson - A pulp fiction writer's works are based in his own adventures. I kept thinking of Zorro, only supernatural. Very nicely pulpy and fun, and I love the dig at comic books.
  • Head Cases by Peter and Kathleen David - A group of super-powers meet and talk about life in a bar. This is Friends on superpowers. Good, and amusing, but the story isn't one with an end.
  • Downfall by Joseph Mallozzi - A former villain is dragged back into his old neighborhood. Wow, another powerful tale. This one is all about family, in a lovely roundabout way. And ... well, anything else would spoil it. I just love the layers in this one.
  • By My Works You Shall Know Me by Mark Chadbourn - After being saved from death, a rich man turns to superheroing. Another punch in the gut one, especially as you get close to the end and realize what is happening.
  • Call her Savage by Marjorie M Liu - An old retired hero must face down her past to save the world. A stylistic story, a little hard to get a grasp on, but somewhat chilling once you do. It's also an alternate history story, so fun in that way as well.
  • Tonight We Fly by Ian McDonald - An old retired hero deals with neighborhood kids and the return of an old nemesis. A good little story that might be the most likely to put off readers in its sheer banality, but I loved it.
  • A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too) by Bill Willingham - The story of an epic battle is told through an A-B-C. I was particularly amused when the underwater character appeared. Overall, pretty good.
A note here, I claim friendship with two of the authors and the editor of this collection. I didn't know exactly what to expect from the book, but I was very pleased by the result. This is one that ought to be in every superhero fan's collection, and if you like comics you kind of owe it to yourself to check this out.

Agatha Christie this week was the Rule of Three, a set of plays from 1962. The library was unable to find any collected edition of this work, but I managed to get all three plays through inter-library loan. I'm going to review each separately, but first, an historical note about one of the plays.

When I started reading Agatha Christie, I thought I had never read any of her works before. However, I learned when I received these play scripts that not only had I read Christie before, I'd actually been IN an Agatha Christie play. It convinced me that I just wasn't cut out for the job of acting. I do not remember how many performances there were, but on the first there was a technical problem. In the tale, a technician assures the doctor that the machine is working. I was playing the technician. But it wasn't. The light on the machine didn't come on. It turned out that a master switch controlling the outlets on the stage was turned off, but the crew didn't figure that out before my role in the play was rendered ridiculous. The lead went on beautifully and rescued the performance, but I didn't get over it and never tried out for a play again. And I nearly killed the crew member in charge of the lights, who apologized to me repeatedly for several weeks afterwards. Until I read the first few lines of "The Patient", I had successfully deleted that memory from my mind. What's amazing to me is that I didn't remember anything at all about the play beyond my part in it and how the fellow playing the doctor managed to salvage the performance when the light didn't work. Anyway, here's my thoughts on the plays that make up Rule of Three.
  • The Patient - This one act play concerns a paralyzed woman who was pushed off a balcony. Because she has movement in one hand and can see and hear everything, a technician rigs up a machine that can convert those slight movements into a light that everyone can see. This is a solid little play with a nice twist ending.
  • Afternoon at the Seaside - This one act play is about a group of people on the seashore the morning after a daring robbery of an emerald necklace. The ending of this one is a bit unusual for an Agatha Christie work, but the deviousness of the whole thing is usual for her. An excellent little tale.
  • The Rats - This one act play is about a woman invited to a party by people who aren't in town. Pretty interesting psychological study of people who have a lot to hide. None of the characters are in the least bit likable, and the whole thing is a little off for Christie. Not her best.


Garrett said...

Re: Christie plays -- Cool! That gives us something else in common. :-) Did you see my "The Mousetrap" pictures on Facebook?