Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Who Do You Think You Are?: "Matthew Broderick" - The various bits of past Broderick digs up are terrible but fascinating. An ancestor who died in the Civil War, another who was a medic in WWI. His grandmother was an orphan, something he had never known. The search for his great-great-grandfather's grave was a neat little aside to the story. The research and care that went into those records that made it possible to find the grave despite missing information was amazing.
  • Dinner Impossible: "Pirate Peril" - Robert gets a semi relaxing mission with a bunch of pirates. The requirements aren't too stringent, and he has a staff that mostly works out, even if they are a tad annoying. And for once he doesn't seem to have any equipment problems.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Super-Batman of Planet X" - Opening with Metal Men, then a team-up with Green Arrow in space. I've never been a big fan of DC space adventures, so it doesn't start out well. The twist was good, and the ending was classic. But not my favorite.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Power of Shazam!" - Starro teaser. When will that plot happen? This appearance of Captain Marvel wasn't what I expected, with some nice twists along the way. I didn't like Billy's voice. It was grating and too earnest, not the kind of voice that would become a radio star. Good episode, though.
  • Doctor Who: "The Eleventh Hour" - Hmmm, quite a ride! The opening was wild. This Doctor appears to have a few timing issues. I like how Amy is so well-known in her town, and the consequences of that for the Doctor. I enjoyed the ride, but I'm going to be a little picky about one aspect of the new season: that stupid bow tie. I despise bow ties. The sooner that thing is gone, the better.

This week's comic book related review is Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. This is an incredible hardcover history book, a bargain at its $25 list price. Boilerplate (and a few other creations) are artfully woven into the real history of the world to make a wonderful alternate history book that is worth having both for the actual facts it presents as well as the fiction of Boilerplate's existence. In addition, the ending even leaves the story open for a sequel of some sort. I found myself wanting to read more on the events described in the book, even if they don't actually have Boilerplate, and that's a good thing. I only wish there was a good bibliography, but with the internet that's becoming less of an essential. Especially in a well crafted book like this where any investigation of a primary source will reveal the fiction. I'd like to note that the Oz bits in Chapter Two were met with amusement by the Oz fans when I presented the book as "Show and Tell" at an Oz party last weekend.

This week's movie was Slumdog Millionaire. A young contestant must justify knowing the answers on a quiz show to a policeman convinced he cheated. I didn't expect the story to jump around as much as it did. Particularly at the beginning, I had a difficult time getting into the movie because I couldn't figure out what was happening. I also couldn't read the poorly placed "subtitles" that were too often nearly the same color as their background. I got the gist of the movie, but I missed quite a bit because of the bad design. I suspect I could have read them in the theater, but at home on our decent-sized TV it was difficult. Despite that, it was a pretty good flick. I'm not sure why it's considered "feel-good", after what happens to the brother, but I guess that final dance scene makes up for a lot, right? Not my favorite movie ever, but it was a fun Saturday night film.

My library book this week was Coyote by Allen Steele. This is an old-school tale of interstellar travel and colonization, with an added twist of political intrigue starting the tale. We get three different periods, starting with the time right around the launch of the ship that will take 250 years to get to Coyote, a moon of a gas giant 46 light years away from Earth. The second period is just as the ship has left the Solar system, and the final time we see is the years just after the ship reaches Coyote. All in all, a strong science fiction story, if a little disjointed. I found it good, but not everyone will like the jumping around of the tale. I liked it enough to seek out the sequel, but then I need to know what happens after the cliffhanger ending.

Agatha Christie this week was Spider's Web, a play from 1954 novelized by Charles Osborne. A woman prone to making up stories ends up with a murder in her home. Better than the last work, which isn't saying much. The first chapter alone made for a lovely opening act, with just the right amount of humor. It's a good story, and I'm ready for more as soon as interlibrary loan finds them for me.


Bill Reed said...

But... but... "It's cool. Bowties are cool." I'm going to have to dig an old tweed jacket out of the closet now.

I hated Slumdog Millionaire. The subtitles were my favorite part; I like it when there's actual care and design put into subtitles.