Story arcs are what I like best in SciFi TV. Sure there are some decent episodes of good SciFi shows that aren’t sweeping in scope, but more often than not, that seems to be the downfall of SciFi TV – bad stories, bad continuity, nothing to bring you back for more. There is definitely something to be said for the old cliff-hanger endings of pulp cinema. And if you aren’t going for the episodic feel, make sure your SciFi TV is at least space opera. If you’re going to have minimal story-telling you’d better at least have lots of FTL spaceships, energy weapons, and aliens. The ultimate SciFi TV, of course, was Babylon 5. It had story and space opera, all rolled up into one great five year journey. Perfect. Some would say we have more “genre” shows on TV now than any other time, sadly though, B5’s formula has not been reproduced to any degree. Still, I continue to watch, or dvr, portions of the SciFi airwaves each week in hopes of being fractionally entertained. Here’s what I’m watching.

For some interesting characters, take a bunch of regular people who have flaws and make mistakes, give them some super powers, which seems like a bad idea, and let them figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are for themselves. But don’t make it easy, introduce a lot of intrigue, ulterior motives, hidden agendas, and clandestine plans to alternately destroy or save the world. Who you thought was bad might become good and what you thought would destroy the world might save it. Or maybe not.  Your guess at who is right and who is wrong is as good as that of the the characters. They have no more idea than you do. And that’s what makes me come back week after week to watch Heroes. It’s not your dad’s comic book heroes we’re talking about here. No Captain Do-Right-All-The-Time or Doctor So-Evil-He-Eats-Babies. The superhero archetypes have been completely destroyed by this show and remade into more realistic (albeit still outlandishly fictional) portrayals of super powered people who have to struggle against those that would manipulate them into choosing a side – good vs. evil, save vs. destroy – when it isn’t at all clear which is which. It’s almost like the cyberpunk equivalent of superheroes. Call it Superpunk, maybe. There is an overall story arc to the show, and they know how to keep hooking me to come back for more. Well worth the watch.

When Fringe premiered, I found it so hokey that I laughed through the whole episode. I decided to give it a couple of more viewing chances, and although I continue to laugh, I’m glad I did for now. There is some real promise of a story arc with “The Pattern” and “The Observer” and there are a lot of mysterious and intriguing carrots that get dangled in front of you each episode, but they will need to keep it up and make sure that they reveal just enough to hook me each week, otherwise, I might recoup my Tuesday nights for some other activity. Actually, the danger for this show is that it will keep me guessing for too long and not deliver enough to keep my interest going on a weekly basis. In my opinion, this is the problem with the other J. J. Abrams property, Lost. If I hadn’t watched all the four seasons back to back online, then the speed at which all those mysteries get exposed would have “lost” me after the first several episodes. The one saving grace for this show, if things move too slowly, will definitely be Walter. What a great character! Who said mad scientists have to be evil geniuses?  It’s just fine for them to be insane, burned-out druggies from the 70s who tinker in a secret lab somewhere in a Harvard basement and keep a cow on hand for the occasional experiment and a good glass of milk. Brilliant.

For months on end, the SciFi channel hyped up its new show with the chick from Stargate, now sporting black hair, still pretending to be young and sexy, and laying on an English accent so affected, that in some scenes, it reverts back to an American accent. Advertising did its job, though, and I was there to watch the first episode of Sanctuary when it premiered. After all, it was going to be great, brought to you by some of the same wonderful talent that brought you Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis! And so far, it shows. There are two dimensional plots that have been done time and time again, weak characters that I don’t give a crap about and one insipid “SciFi TV” cliché after another. And what is up with the Geiko Neanderthal? His sitcom was a bust, so he came over to the SciFi channel to be in this show? And why does he sound suspiciously like a Wraith from Stargate Atlantis? I’m still watching, hoping that some interesting story arc will present itself, but if it doesn’t, I might not be tuning in for much longer.

Stargate Atlantis. Could there be SciFi TV more vanilla than this? Somewhere in Hollywood, I swear they have a SciFi TV combobulator. You input the names of some boring characters, choose from a few stereotyped aliens, choose one of four different plots, and out comes an episode of Stargate Atlantis. Change a few parameters and you’ll get an episode of Stargate SG1, Enterprise, or even Star Trek: Voyager. You never need to pay writers ever again. The only real difference between the two franchises being that in order to be alien, everyone in Stargate’s universe needs to live in a primitive village in the forest, even though they have something as technologically advanced as a Stargate or a spaceship at their disposal, and everyone in Star Trek just needs to have some kind of a bump on their head. I can’t figure out why I keep watching this show every week. I guess that no matter how stinky the stories and characters are, there are sometimes FTL spaceships and energy weapons, and in lieu of real space opera, this is all we’ve been getting while Battlestar is on its seemingly never-ending hiatus.

Anyone who knows me knows that I pee my pants every time the Star Wars theme starts up, even if it is in a different time signature. Yes, I am talking about The Clone Wars here. Who cares if this show looks like the Star Wars universe was genetically reengineered by the Thunderbirds. So what if the battle droids channel bad Penn and Teller routines. So what if a tweeny little padawan calls R2, Artooey, and Anakin, Skyguy. This is Star Wars! There are more FTL spaceships, energy weapons, aliens AND droids than you can shake a random, clumsy blaster, or a more elegant lightsaber for a more civilized age at. In the first episode, where Yoda and a bunch of clones are ambushed by battle droids, Yoda cackles like the crazy Yoda from Empire. It was so cool to see my generation’s Yoda surface once again. Although there is no mysterious overall story arc to pull me back week after week, the tales have been good, especially the three-part stint about General Grievous and his super battleship the Malevolence. The overall tome of the show is more light-hearted and adventurous like the old school Star Wars of the original trilogy era. It may be telling that George Lucas only produces and not writes or directs this series. Sure it is geared towards a younger crowd, but as I’ve posted before, I was a kid when Star Wars sprang into existence, so I have no problem with that. If I had to choose just one show a week to watch, this would be the one.

There are also a myriad of other shows out there that the networks tout as “SciFi”, Knight Rider, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Eleventh Hour, Life on Mars, My Own Worst Enemy, etc., etc. I’ve seen a couple and wasn’t that impressed, and besides, I just don’t have the time or energy to invest in more than a few shows a week, especially when most of them won’t make it past a season or two anyway. I’ll let someone else review those. Now there is actually one more show I would watch if it were on, and maybe sometime soon, we’ll actually get to see it and finally find out how Battlestar Galactica ends.

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BSG: Emmy Snub

July 17, 2008

No way!!!!  Can’t believe it!!!  no Emmy nominations for BSG.  I guess SciFi of this caliber still isn’t “mainstream” enough to get a nod.

Others also seem to be of a similar mind:

http://tv.yahoo.com/the-60th-annual-primetime-emmy-awards/show/43034/photos/emmy_nominees/nom-reality-competition/291

Or maybe there is another reason….  Like they have changed the Emmy rules to say that you can only be nominated if the TV show was FILMED in late 2007 or early 2008.

The bitterness continues……

Wow! I was just joking, but someone actually created a fanfilm on YouTube that brings together Glen A. Larson’s iconic SciFi greats.  

Nice, but I call for a reimaging! Buckaroohawk if you should choose to accept this mission you will be rewarded by having a whole new generation of Battlestar geeks hitting your site. Of course, you’re going to need to reimage Buck before Frank Miller mucks with it. One suggestion, though, would be to go back to the orignal source. Yes, reverse reimage it! Bring back inertron, anti-gravity belts, rayguns, and air ships.

OK, I know it has been weeks since the final mid-season episode of Battlestar Galactica, and I should have written about this then, but I can no longer just stew about it. Let me share. Although I do enjoy the reimaged BSG, I am very much a child of the classic generation. I was there when George Lucas tried to sue Glen A. Larson because Vipers were too close to X-Wings, Cylons were too close to Stormtroopers, and Apollo and Starbuck’s feathered doos infringed on Han and Luke’s blow-dried confections. I spent many long hours on the playground reimaging BSG myself. I was Apollo, but it never crossed my mind to find myself a macho 9 year old girl to play Starbuck. I was crushed when they canceled my favorite TV show. It meant I had nothing to occupy me until another Star Wars movie came out. Sure there was Star Trek, but I was past phasers and on to blasters! Then came along the unholiest of mistakes (not so unholy as the Star Wars Holiday Special, but close) called Galactica 1980. To this day, I am still blocking out each and every episode from my memory to avoid any emotional damage. There was hope, however. Enter Buck Rogers in the 25th Century! What is now high-caliber, cheesy, scifi nostalgia was once a weekly fix of futuristic wonder and enjoyment (yes, I admit it, I have it on DVD). There were blasters and Buck even had down some of Kirk’s moves. He took the shirt rip to all new heights. With Battlestar, we were watching a lost tribe search for Earth, with Buck Rogers we saw earthlings searching for the lost tribes of humanity in space. Mmm. The conclusion? What I’d always believed in my heart was going to happen but never got to see it? The Galactica finds earth, but instead of school kids and flying motorcycles, and instead of destroyed cities, they find Buck, Wilma, and Twiki! BdBdBdBd! This could have been Scifi channel’s big chance to not only reimage BSG, but Buck Rogers as well! Spin-off suavemente. I guess, I’ll have to just make my own fan film and post it on YouTube.

If I had to choose a Scifi reality to live in, I think it would be Battlestar Galactica. I want to show up to work looking like crap. Seriously. Those guys over in Star Trek, Babylon 5, and even the supposedly rough-and-tumble Firefly look pretty darn good each time they show up on the bridge or in command and control. But not on the Galactica. Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite character, Colonel Tigh:

 No, not that one, the other one…

Man, he looks like he’s been to hell and back, but he’s still there in command and control answering those bulky phones, “Galactica Actual”, and spinning up the FTL drive for 10 minutes at a time. Now, I work for a hi-tech company, so by the end of the week, I pretty much look like Saul. When I get to the scraggly beard stage, I want it Tigh style, not Riker style, you know? The Galactica is where I want to be. In the real world, there is one place, however, where I can go looking like utter crap and no one even bats an eye. It’s a place where guys can go and dream of being as devil-may-care as Saul Tigh. Thank the Lords of Kobol there is such a place because it seems I end up there almost every Saturday in my perpetual battle of home ownership: Home Depot. Maybe one day, I’ll even see the Colonel there.

Just another quick note on this (see #5 on the previous entry). Can you imagine the time it must take to send that over one of their modems? They’ve got to be just as high-tech as their phones. In fact, here’s a picture of one for you now:

But no need to worry, that thing is a full 300 bit/s! They could send a whole 180kb in the 10 minutes it takes them to spin up their FTL drive. Now that’s impressive.

Cylon Cannibal Humor

June 6, 2008

WOW! 3 posts in one day…..

Why is Six afraid of Seven? Because Seven Eight Nine

HAHAHA!!

Finally finished watching last week’s episode just in time for a new one to air.

While watching the episode my mind wandered (one of the reoccurring sub themes of this blog) to a list of things I like about the BSG series. For your enjoyment here is the list:

1 – The telephones they use. These things carry some weight. I am surprised they aren’t used as weapons (could take out a Cylon Centurion no problem). There must have been a huge Colonial Government contract associated with these. Better value than $100 toilet seats.

2 – The fact that they have FTL drives but they still use reel-to-reel tape recorders. You would think they they would at least upgrade to those stupid little bricks of plastic Kirk and Spock used to litter desktops with.

3 – They use “wireless” radios to broadcast news around the fleet but I have yet to see anyone sportin a TV or even a small radio with earbuds.

4 – The scenes where the Vipers shoot through the launching tunnel and the hypnotic lights flash…. wait thats the original BSG series… wandered too far

5 – Gravity… Actually this is one of my favorite things about most SciFi TV shows. It seems that there is always Earth-like gravity on ships. This is usually explained as “artificial gravity”. And of course an off shoot of this is the “inertial dampeners” that prevent the ship’s inhabitants from being flattened against the nearest bulkhead (but somehow do not prevent them from being thrown about like brainless sheep, or injured, or from falling to their deaths down bottomless pits, or joked about on countless parodies). To simulate “gravity,” you should at least spin the ship. Which leads me to number 6.

6 – I love the fact that there is at least 1 ship that has a spinny section. I like to think its owner was just too cheap to invest in a proper artificial gravity unit and on the side we never see is painted “Winnebago”.

7 – No corner is 90 degress. Have you ever noticed this? Chair backs, picture frames, books, and even shirt cuffs are not square.

8 – Colonel Tigh.. This guy rocks. The bio on SciFi website describes him as “tightly wound, embittered and an alcoholic”. I am sure when all is said and done it will be revealed that he is the father of Bender. Do you think he has an extra eye patch in his quarters with an eye painted on it that he breaks out for special occasions??

I’m sure there are more things I like but I have now wandered on to something else……….

BSG: Faith

May 20, 2008

I love all the theories swirling around this season of BSG.  After watching the episode called “Faith” it all became clear to me.

If you watched closely, Madam President’s mother is actually Barbara Bush which raises some interesting theories….
 
I always thought George W. was a Cylon, or at the very least a Hybrid…..  That means Madam President could be the last Cylon and George and Jeb have a sister we didn’t know about (ha! George Lucas already did this movie!!!)
 
And I noticed they stopped by Deep Space Nne and picked up that chick who then abruptly loses her bumps and dies of cancer.  Perhaps the one GOD are really those shape shifting Dominion Dudes from the Gamma quadrant (or wherever it was) and Odo will show up and claim to be the last Cylon.
 
Also, they are pretty ballsy about shooting randomly in space!!!!  You would think the bullets would bounce around inside one of those ships and accidentally kill several people, take out a couple of critical gages or at the very least graze someone and cause a nasty welt.  Maybe they are are packin’ rock salt in those guns.
 
Fianlly,  I kinda like hearing Baltar drone on in the background.  I think for the rest of the series they should scrap the music score and just have him drone on and on….  He could recite Beatles lyrics, read from Shakespear (which I think he did in this episode….  or perhaps it was a quote from Star Trek 37 “The Undiscovered Country”…  need to watch it again), or plug products (I can just hear him in the background talking about having a Coke and a smile and hearing monk like chanting of “I’ld like to teach the world to sing….”)
 
Anyway,  I am still watching