Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Doctor Who: "The Big Bang" - Um... ok. I'm not sure what to write that wouldn't be a spoiler. Even writing that feels like a spoiler. I just want to know one thing...(SPOILER ALERT!)(END SPOILER) I'm not totally disappointed by the (SPOILER ALERT!)(END SPOILER) in this one, as I think it was more cleverly set up than the previous times it has been used. But still. I liked the episode, but I'm very interested in the questions it left unanswered. So I enjoyed it, but I'm not satisfied. And bow ties still suck. I don't care how much the Doctor likes his, or what role it played in the story. The sooner ties are banned, particularly bow ties, the better.
  • History Detectives: "Iwo Jima Map, Copperhead Cane, Theremin" - The Iwo Jima story made me remarkably sad, thinking of the guy who had the map running around trying to fix the electrical system, and killed in action because there was no retreat, no backup, nothing. The cane was a good way to tell us about the Civil War Copperheads. Not the most appealing people. And lastly, the Theremin. Fascinating stuff, and the whole search to figure out why that particular model had that label was very neat. I liked the end bit about Theremin's bugging device.
  • Dinner Impossible: "Mission in the Mud" - At the Blackberry Farm, Robert has to use camping equipment to make a gourmet meal. Having cooked that way myself, I understand his difficulties. That said, he's doing WAY more than I ever did with fires, and in worse conditions than I ever had to deal with (though I can recall one or two very wet days at camp). And, although he technically "failed" the mission, I think he did extremely well with what he had.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Hero" - A human lost before the Cylon attack reappears in a Cylon raider, and we learn about Adama's dark past. In the meantime, a Cylon is having nightmares. I like the use of the whole cast in this one. Everyone in the episode seems to get a good part that plays to their strengths. And the plot manages to move forward as well.

This week's movie was Monty Python's Life of Brian. Brian is born next door to another historical figure and ends up in the Jewish rebellion having his Latin grammar corrected by Roman soldiers, thrown in prison, and picked up by aliens. Poor Brian seems to stumble into each problem anew, while trying to find love and just be a normal guy. With the nudity and fake violence, I know why I haven't seen it before (I was very innocent for a long time). I particularly liked the "what have the Romans ever done for us" sketch. Reminds me of certain people today that hold "tea parties" and seem to want to overthrow the government. Overall, a nice little movie.

Prince Valiant
This week's comic book related review is Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938 from Fantagraphics Books. I have always wanted to read Prince Valiant from the beginning. It's not really a comic strip in the way that we think of strips, it's a wonderfully illustrated story that goes on for years and years. And I grew up reading the strip in the newspaper and wondering how we got to this point in the story. With the Fantagraphics reprints I have the possibility of finding out. I don't know if I'll be able to get more than this first one (the second one should be hitting shelves very soon now, if not already), but I do know that I at least have read the very beginning, and that is just cool.

Fantagraphics' first Prince Valiant volume starts off with both an article about Hal Foster and an interview with the man, then jumps into the action with the tale of an exiled king and his small band of followers coming ashore in Britain, and finding a little peace thanks to their fighting prowess. From there... well, there is nothing quite like reading the book. I can't even begin to describe in words the magnificent Hal Foster artwork, nor the nifty storytelling (without a hint of the awful decompression that so many modern comics suffer from!), so I leave it to you to find youself a copy and read it.

The production quality is great. I have no complaints at all about the quality of the book, and there's a short article at the very end that describes some of the difficulties in getting such a good quality version of the strips. All told, it's an excellent book and a steal at the price. If you have any interest in these at all, get in on the ground floor and snag these quickly.

My library book this week was The Passage by Justin Cronin. Oh, this is bleak. So very bleak. In an attempt to bring immortality to humans a terrifying virus is unleashed that devastates the world. The book, first in a proposed trilogy, takes you from the start of the discovery to the first real defeat of the virus-infected. But it ends on such a bleak note I really wanted to throw the book across the room. It's good, no doubt about that, but very very depressing. I'm sure it'll make a great movie. Again, I think I first read about this on Unshelved, though I could be wrong. This book has gotten a LOT of buzz online.

Agatha Christie this week was Verdict from 1958, a play that hasn't yet been adapted to novel form. When a crime is committed, the kindly professor refuses to turn in the guilty party. I ended up getting this through interlibrary loan in a collection. It's not a particularly good bit of Christie. The murder is actually committed on stage in front of the audience, so there isn't any mystery. It's more of a character study, and doesn't really tell anything new about humanity. Overall a disappointment, and not a wonder that it's been overlooked.


Roger Owen Green said...

Hey, I posted "What have the Romans" myself just last week! Great minds, or something.

Garrett said...

I wanted to comment on your spoiler above, but couldn't figure out a way to do it that wouldn't be spoilery. :-)

Jonathan L. Miller said...

Yes, he does. There's a line in there that's hard to hear, but it's there. (and that's all I'll say to avoid spoilers; vague enough?) :-)

Jared said...

The action figure collectors want Rory plastic...