Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Stephen Fry in America: "Mountains and Plains" - He goes to Canada for a moment, then wanders through some of the most intense scenery outside the Cascades. I'm not sure the episode gives enough of a sense of how immense the land is, but then it's pretty hard to record on video. He tries, but there's just so much. If anything, the missile base gave a sense of how much space is around. I wouldn't mind living in an ex-missile base. Getting down to the Mexican border is an adventure for him, and quite a contrast from Canada.
  • Stephen Fry in America: "True West" - I really liked the eco-houses, and kind of wished I could have a place like that. And Navajo Fry Bread... Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Fry as a cowboy just doesn't work for me. Heh. Nice visit to Sin City, I wouldn't mind trying that treasure hunt adventure. Nice to see him reach the might Pacific. He won't get to my home state until next episode, but at least he's closer to my territory now.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: "The Song of Mystery" - Pretty funny how the town tries to keep the mysteries as a tourist attraction and actively fight the team. The whole subplot with Velma trying to "improve" Shaggy was lovely. Only one thing would make Fred and Daphne's relationship work, but I think I shouldn't make that joke. We've figured out the way this sets up red herrings, so figuring out the bad guy wasn't difficult. Still a funny show.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "The Woman King" - This is a Helo-centric episode, with the moral compass of Helo guiding the fleet again. Helo is doing a good job of showing his instinct. I enjoyed the whole mystery, but had a few moments of thinking that the medicine was contaminated and expecting a completely different ending. Good stuff. And it reminds me that Torvald and I met Helo long before I saw the show.
  • Tahmoh Penikett
  • Battlestar Galactica: "A Day in the Life" - Definitely a relationship heavy story, with the relationship between Cally and Tyrol getting some time in a locked airlock, and the Adama family's past explored in flashbacks. That was one INTENSE rescue from the broken airlock. Not a bad episode, but not my favorite.
  • Being Human: "Series 2, Episode 3" - This was a pretty intense Mitch episode, which was nicely balanced by a funny side plot with George. We missed the very end of the episode because the DVR cut out too soon, but we expect we'll see it next week. I'm tempted to go find the episodes to download or wait for the DVD release anyway due to the cuts and bleeps.
  • Timeslip: "The Year of the Burn Up" - This was a LONG story featuring Simon and Liz going to another possible future, complete with clones and a human-caused environmental disaster. Again, the future they are in is 1990, which never fails to amuse me. This story has lots of good cliffhangers, and a great performance by Denis Quilley as an insane Commander Traynor. Overall, the whole story was a good one, and there appears to be only one more story to go to finish the series for us.

This week's movie was Waltz with Bashir. Ari Folman was an Israeli soldier during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, but remembers nothing of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, although he was present. The movie is an animated documentary exploring his efforts to recall the events of the war and his role in it by talking with other people who were there and telling their stories. The movie is thoughtful and painful, and deals with a very serious subject matter with the right amount of respect and humor. And while it never truly comes to a conclusion that slaps you in the face, the message I got from it is that war itself is wrong and disgusting and vile, and that participating in it changes and damages even those who were on the outskirts. The animation style is similar to rotoscoping in the visual effect, but doesn't have the same uncanny valley problem I usually get when viewing rotoscoping. The animation has the effect of distancing the viewer from the horrors that are being portrayed, right up until the final frames of the film which do not spare anything at all.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released July 21st and 28th:
  • Brightest Day #6 - And so we get the backstory. Not much else of Aquaman there but a nice little info-dump. The rest of the story was enh.
  • Power Girl #14 - Um. Ok. Wanted more, but I guess I'll settle for this. Actually, I want to see more of the cat.
  • Zatanna #3 - A resolution of sorts, and some good bits with the magic. I find it odd to be reading backwards, but then I also read Manga and that's sort of backwards too.
  • Justice Society of America #41 - Crossover season. Meh.
  • Batman Beyond #2 - Hush. Huh. I like the explanation given, as it got me back up to speed on what Hush is.
  • DC Universe Legacies #3 - AQUAMAN! YAY! Well, that makes it worth reading.
  • Tiny Titans #30 - More Aqua-Ohs, yay! Tiny Titans is simply the best little fun book out there right now. Needs more Aqualad (he has curly hair!) but any appearance of Aqua-Ohs makes me happy.
  • Incredibles #11 - I guess that storyline is put to bed for the moment. I fully expected that Jack-Jack had gotten up to something.
  • Marvelous Land of Oz #8 - YAY! And the rightful queen of Oz is restored. I love the reaction of the other character when they learn how Mombi hid Ozma. Skottie Young made that a perfect panel.
  • Doctor Who Ongoing #13 - Wow. I'm so tired of this storyline I can hardly wait for it to end.
  • PS238 #45 - I'm feeling very sorry for Captain Clarinet, as he'll always be known to me, and wishing that his problems could be sorted out.

  • Green Lantern #56 - I don't like Hector Hammond. I don't like Larfleeze. This issue did nothing for me.
  • Green Lantern Corps #50 - Not enough Natu to make this one worth reading.
  • Justice League of America #47 - Elements gone mad. Got it. This whole story could have been told in five pages and not lost much.
  • Action Comics #891 - I never thought I'd be rooting for Lex Luthor to break out of a mind game.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold #19 - Batman is willpower, so giving the Green Lantern ring to him, even temporarily, always works for me. Enjoyed the Aquaman love in the letter col.
  • Northlanders #30 - Not a particularly pleasant hero in this one, but then... when are there pleasant heroes in this book? This issue is about change, and what compromise brings you.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #130 - Best cliffhanger ever in an Usagi Yojimbo book. Can't wait to see how this one turns out.

My library book this week was Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. Ok, actually this was an audiobook that hubby-Eric and I listened to on our way to the Winkie Convention. And it was excellent. I've read other books by Clements before, most notably Frindle, and we listened to another Clements book on the way back from the convention which will show up in a future review. Anyway, this book is about a girl who has been slacking off at school and is assigned a special extra credit project in order to prevent being held back a grade. The assignment is a penpal project with a student in Afghanistan. The result isn't exactly what anyone can expect, and the bittersweet lessons about both cultures enhance the story rather than coming off as the teaching moments they are. Definitely a book I'd give to any child who might need a bit of worldview.

Fortean Times #262 (MayJune 2010). Yup, I finally got a copy. Months after it was out in the UK, and a long time after it should have arrived in the US. The volcano stopped the shipping, but then the issue just didn't arrive at all... so the distributor asked the folks in the UK to send me another copy. And that arrived. Eventually. And it's a darn good thing it did, because there is a letter in the letter column from my old friend Paul Cornell! Anyway, let's get into the meat of this issue so I can move on to the next two issues which are sitting unread on my bedstand...

Freaky cover that reminds me of the circus episode of Torchwood, with the soul catching Night Travellers. That was a truly creepy episode, but the cover article is actually a pretty tame one about the attempts to weigh the soul on death, and the problems with the results that were claimed. In short, the methodology was flawed, the equipment was imprecise, and the reported results were doubtful from the start.

Moving on, some of this issue's highlights: On the theme of captured souls were a couple of items on ghosts supposedly trapped in bottles. One article covered people who were declared dead but weren't. There was an article about very short and very tall people. Another article talked about Pont-Saint-Esprit in France and the strange events of 1951 that some people think involved the CIA and drugged water. Another article talks about just how impossible it would be to drug a water supply with LSD, both because of the sheer amount of drug needed and the fact that it breaks down quickly. An article on sea serpents discusses the possibility of unknown animals still lurking in the water and includes some whale porn. There's a great article about an eagle species that may or may not exist, covering the evidence for it including a painting by Audubon. An article about a music project using vocal samples from the hypnosis sessions of Betty and Barney Hill (a story which I feel has been adequately debunked) makes for good reading.

The reviews were solid, as usual. A couple of scathing reviews were great fun to read, and there were at least three books I might consider requesting on the inter-library loan. The movie review of Saw VI actually makes it sound like a tolerable horror franchise, although that sort of gore has never appealed to me. The letter column was a joy, moreso because of the letter from Paul (about Marv Wolfman and a typo in FT issue 260). Again, a pretty good issue, and I'm glad it finally arrived at my door. Time to jump into the next one!


Jay said...

Maybe I should just lend you guys my Being Human R2 DVD.