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The Broken Promise of Torchwood

When Torchwood was announced, Russell T. Davies promised us stories on more of an adult level.  And in the openings of Torchwood, we heard the promise ever single episode:

Series 1 opening narration
: Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on Earth, arming the human race against the future. The twenty-first century is when everything changes. And you've got to be ready.

Series 2 opening narration: Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Fighting for the future on behalf of the human race. The 21st century is when everything changes. And Torchwood is ready.

So at the end of Children of Earth, who's ready?  Who's fighting for us?  Where's Torchwood, our would-be preparers and defenders?  Gone.  I had such high hopes for Torchwood.  The first series had a lot of potential.  The second series built on it, and then went all to hell by the end.  The third series just snuffed it out like a heel on a cigarette butt.  Character development doesn't have to be just about torturing the characters.  You can build characters and drama with good experiences too.  When Torchwood was announced to be a more adult series, I thought they meant sophisticated story telling, not men snogging and soft core porn.

"The 21st century is where everything changes".  What's changed?  The DW/TW universe is no different now than before the word TORCHWOOD showed up in series 1 of Doctor Who.  Except a lot more people are death and no one's ready.

Fanboys: Techies mock you too

While listening to my podcasts, I got to Crank Geeks, and a tech roundtable show hosted by John C. Dvorak.  On show #177, the topic of video games at comic-con came up, and immediately John started dissing the the con and fans.  The segment starts at 20:55.  So, when are we going to see the signs at comic-con "Video games ruined comic-con"?

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1

Originally posted on Manga Xanadu

I just read the first issue of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, and I have to say, I really liked it. I wasn't sure what I was in store for when I first ordered it, but I can safely say, it was $3 well spent.

Throg (Frog Thor) is really the character that really made this issue. He is the first "teammate" that Lockjaw goes to after he finds one of the Infinity Gems. Apparently Lockjaw has decided that animals are better for finding the gems than the humans. Throg's whole backstory is just what you'd expect from a Marvel Universe origin. Bad things happen to a good man who is then rewarded with superpowers; after being turned into a frog. Throg himself is just great. He speaks for Lockjaw, jabbering on with the other animals as he convinces each of them to join the cause and journey to find the gems. Just like Thor, he speaks with lots of "thee"s and "thou"s, and "wouldst"s and "dost"s.

Yes, all the animals in this series talk. This would have bothered me before. But after reading 17 novels of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries in a row, where half the characters are animals that can talk to each other but humans can't understand, it was easy to accept. For all we know, our animals could be talking about us now, and we'd never know it. Well, everyone but Lockjaw talks. As I mentioned above, Throg does the talking, as Lockjaw speaks to him telepathically. Each animal that is picked up does have a connection to a hero in the Marvel Universe, but knowing who they are doesn't really seem to matter. Enough backstory is given for each animal that you get a general idea, and it's really more about the animals personalities than their hero counterparts.

Each animal's personality really reflects their species. Redwing, a hawk, at first refuses Lockjaw and Throg's request, as he is a bird, and obviously superior to lower animals that can't fly. Why would he lower himself to work with them. Some good old fashion flattery gets him to change his mind. My favorite, and if you knew me it would be obvious, is Hairball. He's the cat. And he acts just like a cat. When asked to join, he asks if he can eat Redwing. He thinks all dogs are stupid (excluding Lockjaw of course), and has a basic, all around attitude. And for a cat with an attitude, he needs a foil, and Ms. Lion, the little shaggy dog with an even smaller brain and no superpower affiliation, fits the bill perfectly. He's obviously in the series for comedy relief, it seems to be mostly at Hairball's expense.

Even though Throg is cool, and Lockheed the dragon has always been a favorite character of mine, it's Hairball that sells this title for me. His total catitude is just so awesome! I really like that this title is not about animals being superhero clones of their masters. It's about animals acting just as you'd expect them to act if they could talk, and transport to anyplace, wield a large hammer or use kinetic energy superpowers. You don't need to know anything about their masters either. Everything you need to enjoy the issue is given.
I highly recommend picking up this first issue. Kids will love the interaction between the animals, and so will animal lovers. The simple quest plot will be easy for kids to follow. And it's a lot of fun. What other reasons do you need?

Why are they all jerks?

What is the deal with TV nowadays?  Does "edgy" mean jerks to TV executives?  What I'm specifically talking about is the show Supernatural.  For three seasons Sam and Dean Winchester have been fighting demons and all forms of evil, essentially all by themselves.  We've seen and heard all about demons and Hell, with not a single indication of any forces of good.  It's been the humans all by their lonesome, making stupid deals with their enemies in an endlessly annoying circle. 

This season the forces of "good" finally show up.  An angel swoops down and saves Dean from Hell.  Why?  Because the demon Lilith is breaking the seals that will release Lucifer on the Earth, and the angels are losing.  For some reason, they think Dean, the guy who sold his soul to bring his brother back to life, will be the key to stopping her.  Yeah, cause he's made such spectacularly great decisions so far.

So, do the forces of good do anything actually do anything to help the brothers?  No.  The angel that saves Dean, Castiel, and his buddy Uriel, are complete and total jerks.  They talk about the coming apocalypse, and act more like the demons, not caring one speck for human life.  In "It's the Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester", the angels answer to stopping the witch from raising Samhain is to blow up the town.  Yeah, that's a real responsible course of action.  Kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out?  In the latest episode, there is a girl that can hear the angels talking, so what do Castiel and Uriel want to do?  Kill her.  I thought that was the human/demon way to do things. 

Actually, "jerk" is too tame of a word.  They are pricks.  They don't care about her people they are supposed to protect.  Uriel can't want to cause so destruction, or rip Sam's heart out it seems.  You sit there and watch these guys and wonder what the hell they are doing here.  They aren't helping.  They are no different than the demons that Sam and Dean have been fighting for the last 3 years.

I was really hoping that the too long in coming appearance of good would help save the series from it's "evil always wins", but now I don't want good to win either.

The Good Ol' Days of Halloween

Halloween has always held special memories for me. The city I grew up in made Halloween their big holiday. Preparations started at the beginning of October.  Kids from elementary to High School were invited to paint the windows of shops in Downtown with Halloween scenes. I remember painting pumpkins with my mother and older brother. It didn't have to be professional looking.  It was more about having fun.  The store owners enjoyed watching, and families would come and see all the work their kids and friends did. 

In the local park near Downtown there would be a carnival, a Halloween carnival, not an "Fall Festival" or whatever other euphemism they're using nowadays. There would be food, rides and game booths, all with a spooky theme. All of this was leading up to the big event: a parade. Just like Pasadena's New Years, or Hollywood's Christmas, we had a Halloween parade.  It was usually on the Saturday before Halloween and had floats, marching bands and local groups, just like you expect from parades.  What I remember about the parades, is sitting in the back of a pickup truck that was parked along the route, off the street.  We could sit in the bed of the truck and see the parade without fighting the crowd.  Vendors would walk along the parade, pushing carts filled with cotton candy and long red or blue trumpets.  I always wanted on of those trumpets.

But Halloween was for everyone.  So, the Big Parade, as the Saturday night parade was called, was for the adults and families to participate in and watch.  But the afternoon was for the kiddie parade.  All the elementary students got out of school early, and got dressed in their Halloween costumes and had a mini parade to show them off.  There was no concern about the kids missing a day of instruction, or what it would do to their ability to concentrate and learn.

This is a big contrast to my kids going to school today.  Granted, this isn't my hometown, and Halloween doesn't get the same attention as it used to.  But it's still the kid's favorite holiday (after Christmas).  Dressing up and going trick or treating is on their mind for most of the month.  So it's pretty ludicrous for the school to call us parents and tell us that  our kids are not to dress up at school, because it would be "a distraction" and "detrimental to the learning environment". 

That's right.  In this world of "No Child Left Behind", our schools are making sure that childhood IS left behind.  Here in California at least.  Too much emphasis is being put on sheer instruction, and the childhood that so many of us adults cherish now is be deprived from our kids.  I'm not saying education isn't important, but it shouldn't and isn't the be-all, end-all of a child's life.  And letting kids have one day to dress up and goof around a little isn't going to undo the rest of the year's instruction.  Especially when Halloween lands on a Friday, when kids heads are on school, but the weekend anyway. 

Fringe Lite? I Don't Think So

There are a few new shows this TV season that take the scientific view of strange situations, as opposed to the supernatural that has dominated TV networks the last few years.  While I don't mind a little supernatural in my TV, it's supposed to be for entertainment after all, I don't care for shows that pretend to be based on fact, when they are really fantasy.  There are two shows this season that exemplify this, and people are taking the side of the wrong show.

The shows of which I speak are Fringe, on FOX, and Eleventh Hour on CBS.  Fringe is co-created by J.J. Abrams.  It is about FBI agent Olivia Dunham who becomes involved with a special unit that investigates seemingly impossible crimes.  She is helped by a committed research scientist Walter Bishop and his son (and handler) Peter.  The crimes they have investigated include human cloning, bio-electricity, and bio-chemistry.  And tying all these crimes together is a worldwide conspiracy called The Pattern, that the investigative team can only get tantilizing glimpses of and that seemly have a connection to Walter Bishop's research in the 70s and the CEO of a ficitional mulit-national company called Massive Dynamics.  All of this makes for a good drama, but not good science, as I've heard some people say.  The science featured in this show is spectulative at best.  The methods they use to solve the crimes always seem to rely on past information from Walter.  That's not exactly what I would call the scientific method.  There is little to none actual skepticism, as the speculative science is believed to quickly, and like the new Scooby Doo, the monsters are real.  And what makes this show worse for science and skepticism is that science is always made out to be the villain.  In one or two episodes we have seen a rogue scientist captured, but the overall work of The Pattern, the science itself is never stopped.  Walter's work does usually save the day, but he is one lone "crackpot" doing all the work on things most rational, skeptical minds would never accept.  It's not exactly the image of science that we need the general public to see.

Eleventh Hour, on the other hand, is based on a mini-series from the BBC.  Jerry Bruckheimer's production company is co-producing the US series.  The original starred Patrick Stewart of Start Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men fame.  Eleventh Hour is about Dr. Jacob Hood, a special scientific advisor to the FBI, and his handler Special Agent Rachel Young.  Hood is a brilliant biophysicist who is called on by the FBI to investigate crimes that are seemingly impossible, but through Hood's deductions, which we see throughout the show, the crime is solved, and the solution is a logical explanation.  This show has a lot more going for it skeptically than Fringe.  The crimes are based on actual science being practiced today, and not on highly speculative notions.  Throughout the episode, we see all the same clues and are walked through the solution.  There are no massive suspension of disbelief moments to make the solution work.  But what really makes this show really work for me are the social issues that come up in the course of the investigations.  In the second episode, Cardiac, not only is the crime solved, but through the criminal's confession, there is some social commentary about the American educational system and the No Child Left Behind Act.  Just looking at the way science is treated, Eleventh Hour is the better of the two shows.  By far

I watched the original series of Eleventh Hour, and I like this new rendition of the show better than the original.  This is unusual for me.  I usually like the original version of a show over any remakes, especially with BBC shows.  But honestly, Patrick Stewart was the wrong person to put in the role of Hood.  He was too wooden, and didn't come off as a genius at all.  I think some of the hate this new show is getting is because Patrick Stewart isn't in it.  Sorry guys, but he's NOT the god of acting.  Eleventh Hour is better without Stewart.  Rufus Sewell is doing a great job as Hood.  He's actually believable in the role.  I also think CBS made a big mistake with leading off Resurrection.  This story was a story from the original series, and it wasn't the best at that.  Agro, which was just shown this week was a much better story and made a better introduction, as it was made as a second pilot.

On TV.com, Eleventh Hour has been described as Fringe-Lite, but it's far from that.  It's superior to Fringe, and needs no comparison.  If you actually care about skepticism and how it's portrayed on TV, you'll watch Eleventh Hour and give it it's due.

Scorpion King 2: Sinking of a Franchise

I actually went out and bought the dvd Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior.  What a mistake that was.  I should have known, being a direct to DVD film that it wasn't going to be all that great.  And since they made it a prequel, they didn't have to worry about getting anyone from the Mummy 2 or Scorpion King.  The producers of Scorpion King don't count.

But this is just a bad movie all around.  It looks like it got the budget of a Sci-Fi Saturday night movie.  So they couldn't get any good writers, and all the actors were unknowns, including some guy from the cage fighting world.  Randy Couture plays Sargon, the big baddy of the film, and he plays him badly.  Absolutely wooden, and sounds like he's reading the lines off a cue card or telepromtor.  It was painful to watch this guy sometimes.  Of course, he wasn't cast for his acting, but because he's big and muscular.

The writers and director seems they couldn't make up their mind if they wanted this movie to be camp or serious.  It certainly came off as camp.  The attempts at humor were bad and the drama wasn't really dramatic.  But the actors knew there were in a B-movie.  You can always tell this when in the behind the scenes extras, the first thing they say is how proud they are of the production.  They seem to have to keep themselves in a state of denial to get through it, because they will say it several times, as Michael Copon did.  He reminds me of a young Dean Cain, though he does his best Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson impression at the end of the film.

Save yourself some cash and don't go buy this movie.  If you're really curious or like unintentionally campy movies, rent it, or wait for it to show on Sci-Fi.  You just know it will.

A Fan's Dream come True

It's been 25 years since the original Macross aired in Japan.  In that span of time, several other series' have been based in that universe, each one building on the previous.  Everyone one of them has keep the basics of the original; a love triangle with one guy who flies a valkyrie, and two girls who fall in love with him, with one of the girls usually being a singer, an alien race to threaten them, and a civilian population to guard.  The latest addition to this property, Macross Frontier, not only continues this tradition, but also throws in references from all the previous series' to make it a real treat for Macross fans.

This series, much like Macross 7, calls up memories of Lynn Minmay, with Ranka Lee being compared to her, both for her rise from almost being unknown to famous, and that her song has an effect on the Vajra, the aliens that threaten to destroy the human fleet.  I find Ranka just a little too much on the moe side though.  She annoys me a lot.  But then so does Sheryl, the current idol that is also Ranka's rival for the attentions of Alto, the fighter pilot that saves them both a lot.  It's Sheryl's sheer arrogance that grates me.

Ranka Lee's brother, Ozma, is a well known fighter pilot and leader of the skull squadron, like Roy Fokker.  He likes a pineapple cake made by a former lover, Cathy Glass, the series' Misa Hayase.  And nearly mirroring the original series, he gets injured but doesn't tell anyone, to go to Ranka's first concert.  The scenes are played almost identical to the original, only Ozma doesn't die.  Reference is made to that immediately afterwards.  It was very funny.

Ranka and Sheryl are put into a movie that is filmed on the Macross Frontier.  The movie is actually Macross Zero.

Macross 7's Firebomber gets a fair amount of play in some of the episodes.

An original Macross designed ship is found on an alien planet.  And there are still eight more episodes to go!

This series has been such a treat for fans.  It truly is an anniverary-marking series.

One for the Ladies

I watched Gotham Knight, the series of anime shorts that is supposed to be the bridge between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Now, I've never been much of a Batman fan.  I never read the comic, though I watched the TV series as a kid, and the movies from the 90's.  But I never got excited about them.  But,it was nice to see in the anime version of the Dark Knight, that someone was looking out for us ladies.

That's right, I'm talking about the story Field Test.  Never have you seen a Bruce Wayne like this!  He is absolutely beautiful.  A bishonen by all accounts.  The moment I saw him, I cried, "He's a bishi!  It's Bishi Bruce!"  Needless to say, my husband, a more traditional Batman fan was not amused.  I thought it was freakin' hysterical!  Especially when he spoke with that deep, darker voice.  Kevin Conroy's voice, even with his lightened "Bruce" tone totally did not work with that character.  He looks like he stepped out of a YAOI manga/anime!  For the rest of the episodes, I just couldn't stop thinking about Bishi Bruce.

I wonder what kind of fanfic this is going to inspire...

She Will Be Missed...

The final episode of season 4 of Doctor Who has finally aired.  I'm feeling kind of ambivalent about it.  I have truly grown weary of the Daleks return, but Dalek Caan was fun to watch in his madness.  And Russell T. Davies' speculation that Davros may have escaped doesn't make her feel good.  I'm sick to death of Rose, and hope and PRAY that is will be last time we see her.  EVER!  It was a bit of a cop out to give her her own Doctor to play with.  At least they still kept the Real Doctor from saying those accursed three words.

Donna was brilliant.  Even before she got zapped with the Doctor's brain.  I really liked her as the Doctor's companion.  She never held back.  She never fawned over him.  They truly stood as equals.  And then she became the Doctor's intellectual equal.  That's when she truly shined.  She and both Doctors spouting out the technobabble was fantastic!

The lowest point of this episode was when Davros tried to make the Doctor out as a creator of death machines, just like him.  That when the Doctor took a companion in, they would become the destroyer of worlds, just like Davros.  But that is so not true.  Not even in the context of the episode.  That whole scene felt forced and so very wrong.

The highest point was with the slight ridiculous, but great scene of all the companions from the last 4 series' working together to pilot the TARDIS to tow the Earth back.  It was just really heartwarming to see them all together, smiling, truly enjoying themselves.  It was just great.  We really need a muliti-companion TARDIS crew again.  Please Steven Moffat!  For series 5!!

Now, why can't we have a companion that doesn't fall in love with the Doctor that will go for more than one season?  The death that Dalek Caan kept going on about wasn't a physical death, but a psychological one.  Another cop out if you ask me.  She has to lose all her memories of the Doctor so she can live, but what kind of life can she have if she can't know how brilliant she was?

It was a sad ending to an overall great series.  I can only hope we'll get another companion like Donna, that won't go all sappy on us.  I had an idea for a fanfic for the scene with the Doctor at the console after leaving Donna.  Maybe someday I'll write it.  She'll be missed, despite all the nay-sayers.

Over all, this series has been the best so far.  Check it out on Sci-Fi Channel, BBC America, DVD or your bittorent client.  :)

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