Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jurassic Parks & Rec

Chris Pratt is Burt Macklin as Owen in Jurassic World:

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Star Wars Trailer!

Things I like about this trailer:

  1. Everyone character in it looks scared. That's a good thing. It means there are real, personal, life-and-death stakes, not trade embargoes. 
  2. We all know Luke, Lei, Han, and the gang are in the film, but they're nowhere to be seen in trailer. That implies they're not the main characters, which will hopefully keep it fresh. 
  3. Things look gritty, not super polished like the prequels. 
The comic-relief droid is a little worrisome, but we'll over look that for now and remain cautiously optimistic. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day of the Doctors

I enjoyed The Day of the Doctor, but there was a giant Christopher Eccleston sized hole in that story. I suppose it's not Steven Moffat's fault that Eccleston passed on being in the 50th Anniversary Special, but I can fault him for continuing with that story when he knew the Ninth Doctor couldn't be in it in any substantive way.

I noticed his absence the most during the scene when Ten, Eleven, and the War Doctor are standing there with their hands on the button. He really needed to be there in that scene. He was the PTSD Doctor. He was closer to the war and more effected by it then any of them. If this was the story of the Doctor redeeming himself for destroying his own people, Nine needed to be there.

I could have even forgiven his absence if they'd been able to get him in the studio long enough to finish the War Doctor's regeneration sequence. All I needed was for Eccleston to look up and say "Fantastic!" But no. Instead we get old footage of him re-purposed along with old footage of all of the Doctors. It was fine. It worked. It just wasn't satisfying.

And I realize that Peter Capaldi wasn't cast in time for this to be possible, but what would have made the show truly epic would have been to add 30 minutes, include Nine, AND include Thirteen. (I'm going to assume he will be known as Thirteen, but there will be no retroactive renumbering of Nine through Eleven.) There's no reason you have to introduce a new Doctor with his regeneration. You could have brought him in from the future. Maybe that would have been too distracting, but I think it would have been brilliant. At least they worked him briefly into the climax.

Then there was Tom Baker. I spent the whole episode assuming the asthmatic with the scarf would somehow turn out to be him. Then he pops in at the end. I thought it was a clever way to work in one of the older actors, even if he did ham it up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Troilus and Go-see-it-a

I went to opening night of Impact's Troilus and Cressida on Saturday night. I didn't know anything about the play before I showed up at the theater that night, except that it was Shakespeare. You don't need to either. As soon as you open your program, you'll recognize character names and think to yourself "That's what this play is about? I didn't realize Shakespeare wrote a play about that. I wonder who plays the Brad Pitt and Eric Bana characters..."

About halfway through the first act, I found myself thinking "This is really good. It's modern. It's funny. It's tragic. It's way better than that stupid movie. Why isn't this play done more often?". Then the second half began and things started to go a little sideways. Then it started getting really weird. Then it ended, and I thought "Whaaaaat?!" It's not the production's fault at all. It's solid and approachable and engaging and everything you'd expect from an Impact Shakespeare.

It's Shakespeare's fault. Or rather it's time's fault. T & C is one of his "problem plays", a problem because times have changed so much that the humor and dramatic weight of the show are all but incomprehensible to a modern audience.

Even so, I have to highly recommend seeing the show. Why? Think about it: What could be more engaging than watching Shakespeare drive a train wreck? It's riveting to watch just how out of control and weird it gets. The director, Melissa Hillman, does a great job of toning it down and making it hold together into some sort of satisfying arc, but seriously, just go and watch the shit fly. It's worth it for the fight scenes, the humor, and the beer, if nothing else. And you can impress people by telling them you've actually seen a production of Troilus and Cressida that didn't suck.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WHO Doctor Doctor Who

The casting of the 12th Doctor was announced on Sunday, via a live TV special shown at the same time on the BBC and BBC America, except of course for me because I don't pay for HD cable. As such, my BBC America feed is three hours delayed. Still, the twittersphere did not disappoint in conveying the news to me in real time. The new Doctor will be:

I've never seen The Thick of It, the show for which he is famous for playing the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker. But a friend of mine on Facebook, who clearly has seen the show, was nearly peeing her pants with joy. More recently you might recognize him as the World Health Organization (WHO) Doctor in World War Z. (See how that works? He went from a WHO Doctor to Doctor Who...)

My first reaction to his casting was to have a moment of disappointment that they cast yet another white male in the role and passed up the opportunity to cast a minority, whether a woman or a person of color. Then that moment passed because as much as I would like to see that happen someday, I don't trust Steven Moffat to handle either of those things well. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of what he's done for the show since taking over for Russel T. Davies, but he tends to write in broad, stereotypical strokes that would not have gone well. He strikes me as one of those white males who doesn't understand that other people's life experience isn't identical to his own.

Otherwise I quite like the choice. Moving from the youngest Doctor, Matt Smith (27 when he debuted), to the second oldest in Capaldi (55 and second only to the first Doctor, William Hartnell) will provide a nice contrast, and maybe it will stop the companions from falling in love with him. Matt Smith also did a wonderful job of conveying through his performance how old the character is in spite of Smith's physical youth, which I think will allow the transition to Capaldi to be smoother. Smith's Doctor doesn't feel young at all. Now the Doctor will just look more his age.

It's interesting to note that Capaldi appeared in The Fires of Pompeii episode of Series 4 opposite David Tennant's Doctor. I wonder if they'll do some retconing and make his character in that episode the 12th Doctor in disguise. Actually, it would be pretty brilliant to bring back David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and show us that whole episode from the 12th Doctor's perspective pretending to be Caecilius.

In any case, Capaldi will make his debut at the end of this year's Christmas special, undoubtedly poking his face a lot, frowning at his bow tie, and being disappointed that after 11 regenerations, he still hasn't been a ginger.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sleepy Hollow

I don't care if it's in this new Grimm knock-off on FOX...

Or the old Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp and Christa Ricci...

Watching a guy without a head walk around and attack people is impressive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Who's Clara?

I learned most of what I know about storytelling from improv. Fortunately I studied improv with people who were less interested in making people laugh and more interested in telling a good story. One of the things that was hammered home to me over the years was that the most important ingredients for a good story are characters and relationships not plot. If you have the first two the third either doesn't really matter or will come naturally.
Lots of things go into making good characters and relationships, but the cornerstone really is a character's motivations. Looking back at all of the companions in the Doctor Who reboot, the most interesting ones had the most interesting and complex wants and needs.
On some level most companions are looking for adventure. This was certainly true of both Donna and Rose. They both wanted to get out of their dead-end lives and see the universe. Rose also wanted to protect her mother and reconnect with her dead father and... well she didn't even know what she wanted from Mickey, but that made that relationship interesting. Whereas Donna wanted to protect her grandfather and get away from her mother (while still craving her approval) and find a husband.

Martha, on the other hand, wanted the Doctor. She too had relationships with her family back at home, but mostly she was just in love. This made for a rather one dimensional season as all you could really do with that was shit on her while Ten ignored her and pined away for Rose.
Amy wanted her "raggedy doctor" to be real. That was perhaps the initial genius of Steven Moffat's takeover of the series. He takes over a series with millions of adult viewers who watched the show as a child and fantasized about what they would do if they traveled around with the Doctor. So Moffat gave those viewers a companion living out her childhood fantasy of traveling with the Doctor. A fantasy that was so all consuming that it was getting in the way of her living her life to the point that she ran away from her wedding to sort it out.
Rory on the other hand, just wants to be with Amy. He loves her so deeply that he's willing to travel to the ends of time and space to protect her and be with her (or spend thousands of years guarding her while she's trapped in the pandorica.)
That was an interesting dynamic for a couple of seasons but couldn't sustain itself very long largely because Amy and Rory had no relationships outside of each other and the Doctor. Eventually we had a few interesting episodes with Rory's father, but we never really knew Amy's parents, largely because they didn't even exist there for a while. Then we had Amy and Rory's kid and River Song add a little complexity, but towards the end things just sort of puttered out.
Now we have Clara. She's been around for half a season and I have absolutely no idea what she wants. She doesn't seem to have a particularly onerous life back on Earth in the present, that we know of anyway. Although now that we've spent an episode with the kids she nannies, I wouldn't blame her for wanting to get away. Except that even in that episode, Clara and the kids were rarely in the same scene together, so we never really got a sense of that relationship to each other. So really, the only relationship we've seen Clara have has been with the Doctor, and I don't even know what she wants from him.
That's why, as I watch this season with Clara, I keep feeling like there's nothing there or there's something missing. She has no motivation. Nothing is driving her. Nothing is moving her or her story forward. Without that, her character doesn't really exist, and without characters, the story's not going to be very good.

In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.