Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Battlestar Galactica: "Deadlock" - Wow. Ellen's back, in a big way. I was very much into this episode, particularly the decisions the Cylons were trying to make and Ellen turning back into her old self the instant she's near Saul again. Baltar's cult getting guns doesn't seem like such a good idea to me. We're getting very near the end now, and I have no idea what's going to happen.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Someone to Watch Over Me" - I have to feel sorry for the Chief, who's been through so much already that getting tricked again has to be the worst feeling for him. As for Kara, that was an impressive bit of storytelling there, with the piano player. I was a bit surprised how Hera's drawing fit in, but hey, that's how this show seems to work. Almost done with the series...
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Islanded in a Stream of Stars" - No way. Giving up the ship? Wow. I know the series is about to end, but I really didn't expect that. And while we, the viewers, kind of knew that Kara was dead, having it confirmed by Baltar in that incredibly rude way was an impressive little bit of theatrics. Well, into the final act. As soon as Netflix brings that final disc.

  • Sherlock: "A Study in Pink" - A completely modern reimagining of Sherlock Holmes. I was sure I wouldn't like it, as I'm not much of a fan of Holmes. However, I was engaged fairly quickly by Watson's situation. Holmes is still an egotistical jerk, but Benedict Cumberbatch does a good job with the role. By the end of the story I'm terrified for both Watson and Holmes, as they are either the best thing to happen to each other or the most dangerous combination in the modern world. I liked that Holmes appears to be addicted to text messages, and his first "appearance" by sending them out to reporters was hilarious. I also enjoyed the misdirection involved with Sherlock's "Arch-enemy". Good stuff.

  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Cry Freedom Fighters!" - This makes up for the last episode. First, a teaser without Batman, yay! Then a great story with the Freedom Fighters including Uncle Sam. But the hero of the day is Plastic Man, whose rendition of "Yankee Doodle" complete with sing-along lyrics, was truly classic. I liked this one, despite no Aquaman.

  • Sarah Jane Adventures: "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith" - It was fairly obvious what was happening the entire time, which took away some of the fun of the episode. But seeing K9 again was fun, as well as angry Luke. I'm sad this season is over, glad that there will be more.

  • Ghost Hunters: "Grammar School Ghosts" - Aired Oct 6th. Set at Milton School in Alton, IL, an abandoned school that's 85,000 square feet. That's huge. The place was reportedly the site of the murder of a student and the suicide of the murderer. The stories tell about all kinds of ghosts in the building, which was later used as a glass blowing factory. It's a very noisy building, with lots of sound and events during the investigation. It was a shame they weren't able to confirm or deny the historical lore, but the stuff they found was fun enough.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Time To Get Touched" - Aired Oct 13th with two investigations, one at the Thurber House in Columbus, OH, and the second at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs, NY. The first story about the house comes from one of Thurber's stories, and the rest also were typical ghost tales. The crew started by debunking the Thurber tale, and trying to debunk stories about a clock resulting in a startled cameraman when the clock's cover pops open when nobody is touching it. Up in New York, they visit a former Casino now museum with standard ghost reports. I was amused by Steve thinking that Tango was tapping his shoulder. A fairly normal episode.
  • Ghost Hunters: "The Chopping Block" - Aired Oct 20th and set at the Bissman Building in Mansfield, OH. This was a bit of a rescue mission, as the people who work at the building are actually getting scared to enter it. A building manager describes an attack in great detail at the spot it happened to him, then points out that a guy was decapitated by an elevator at nearly the same spot. Yikes. Decent debunking of the shadows in the basement, but they couldn't figure out what happened to the guy who was attacked. Lots of fun sounds caught by the team, but nothing else. An ok episode.
  • Ghost Hunters: "The Oldest House in Georgia" - Aired Oct 27th. TAPS visits the Old Ulster County Jail in Kingston, NY and the Antebellum Plantation in Stone Mountain, GA. The jail has a lot of stories, and most of the witnesses mentioned were corrections officers. Looked like a fun place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live (or die) there. The plantation is a little surprising. It seems to be a hodge-podge of buildings brought from elsewhere and used as a museum for historical education. Included is the oldest restored house in Georgia, with lots of stories in it. The whole place looks like a fascinating location that would be cool to visit, and not just for the ghosts. Lots of sounds at both sites, but not much else. Typical episode.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Home Is Where the Heart Is" - Aired Nov 3rd, visiting Beardslee Castle in Little Falls, NY and the Olsen House in Savannah, GA. The Castle is one of those awesome homes that everybody wishes they could afford, and it has some nice stories associated with it, too. The weather was perfect for ghost stories, but not so good for ghost hunting until the storm moved on. The second case is a family trying to deal with a haunting and who want to be reassured, which is something TAPS does a lot. The family's stories were pretty good, including a little girl who plays beside a bed. The folks living there just needed someone to verify that there was something odd going on at the house, and TAPS did that for them. Another standard episode, but the family's stories made this one neat to watch.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Empire State Haunt" - Aired Nov 10th and covered a visit to Fort William Henry in Lake George, NY along with the recap of the 2010 Ghost Hunters Live Halloween Special at Buffalo Central Terminal in Buffalo, NY. The episode starts with an obviously set up good-bye for two members of the team headed off to GHI. Then the crew goes off to the Fort, which has some gross stories associated with it. It looks like a nice place to visit, except for the scary manniquins. Adam found a nice porcupine, and that was cool. The recap of the Buffalo Central Terminal was fun, with a little bit of stuff that wasn't seen during the live show, and a bit that was. I love the thermal camera, even though it's terribly easy to misinterpret. Not convinced by that particular bit, though. Fun episode, with special guest porcupine!
  • Ghost Hunters: "Sloss Furnace" - Aired Nov 17th, location was the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, AL. This episode also had the return of guest investigator Meat Loaf. I gotta admit I like Meat Loaf, and his enthusiasm is fun to watch. The location is freaky and difficult, as it's sort of outside and has a rather morbid history with lots of deaths. I don't really put much faith in the K2 meter reactions, but it's fun to watch Meat Loaf asking "Paul" questions. The evidence they caught isn't too convincing, but at least there is more than sound this time. If you have to go into a haunted house, bring a camera, because ghosts seem to avoid them.

  • Ghost Lab: "Dead Will Rise Again" - I'm still not sure about this show, and I certainly don't like the team as much as I like the TAPS guys, but it has great stories. So I watch it. This first episode of the season was at Gettysburg, or rather a couple of buildings near there. They did a recreation of a sniper attack, which was fun to watch. My biggest problem with the episode was that they used a "shadow person" example that I thought TAPS had pretty clearly disproved.
  • Ghost Lab: "The Betrayal" - Another couple of great locations. I liked having a French interpreter at the second location. I wonder if the "ghost" was trying to attack the interpreter with the flashlight because he was translating for someone speaking English. This team is way more into inciting ghosts to react than TAPS, which I find annoying, but it makes for a more entertaining show in some ways.
  • Ghost Lab: "Lizzie Borden" - Ah, the Lizzie Borden house. Getting an attorney to "prosecute" Lizzie in the house was a fun idea. Definitely gimmicky, but fun to watch. The second place, Stone's Public House, was another familiar location I've seen on another show. Stealing the girl's dress was kind of mean, but they seemed to get a reaction.

This week's movie was How to Train Your Dragon. There was no way this movie could ever live up to the hype and the great reviews I've seen, so I settled down expecting to be mildly disappointed. I wasn't. It isn't the best movie ever made, but it's a really darn good movie, complete with a nasty uber-villain, lots of fun and funny characters to enjoy, and incredible voice work by everyone involved. I enjoyed the art and the animation, and for once realized I would have actually liked to see this movie in 3D. All-in-all, a great family movie for a popcorn evening. Definitely worth checking out.

This week's comic book related review is Fraggle Rock Vol 1. This is as close as a comic book can get to the original show, which is both saying a lot and dissing it unfairly. The problem with translating Fraggle Rock into a comic book is the music. The Fraggles are all about song and movement and joy, and most of the time comic art is not going to be able to sing to the reader like a show can. I enjoyed it, a lot, but I will always prefer the original show to the comics. Like the muppets, some things translate well, others do not. But this is worth a read if you love the show.

My library book this week was Kusiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. A masochist child is trained as a spy and a religious prostitute, and eventually has dealings with the most powerful people in her world. This is an alternate universe, and most readers will be able to figure out the parallels very quickly. I was turned off by the ... um... look, the main character is a prostitute, ok? And a masochist. Just lets leave it at "I was turned off" and not go into details. It wasn't a bad book, in fact toward the end I had trouble putting it down, but it definitely had stuff that made me very uncomfortable to read. This is the first book in what's become a popular series. And I wish the folks who like it well. I'm just not going to read any more.