Thursday, November 27, 2014

First Impressions: Star Wars Rebels

It feels strange to admit that I have a large affection for the now defunct Clone Wars TV series. Strange because when it came out it really looked unlikely to ever be the sort of show I could care about, and make an effort to watch. Set between two of the Star Wars prequels - which I've never hated, but certainly never felt more than "sort of liked, with some pretty decent sections" - and featuring whiny Anakin Skywalker and his never-even-hinted-at bratty Apprentice, it doesn't sound promising and its pilot "movie" wasn't that great either. But Clone Wars really grew on me - it handled its characters fantasically, expanded it's horizons, and in the end was a better prequel to the Classic Trilogy than the official Prequel Movies. Oh, and Ahsoka became possibly the best female lead on kids TV that wasn't called Korra. And then it was cancelled, a victim of the Disney buy-out of Lucasfilm, and instead we got Star Wars Rebels. How's that working out?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Box Set Blues: Breaking Bad

I found myself trying to describe what I loved about Breaking Bad to someone the other day and realised that it probably sounded really horrible. Whenever you wind up watching one a show that is so unrelenting dark, something so determined to keep hurting its audience, it's hard not to focus on the horrible things going on, and how horrible everyone is, and then, suddenly, you realise that you probably sound like one of those people that slow down for car accidents to check if they can see the blood. I'm not sure that that is Breaking Bad's attraction - I think I've got a certain intolerance for media that revels in it's own grimness, hence not watching (for example) The Walking Dead - but its swirling darkness is potent and tangible. So what, then, is it? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Declare

Over on the Dissecting Worlds channel, we're currently doing a series on Spies and all things Espionage related. We've just recorded the third episode, on the intersection between horror and the spy genre, and when we mentioned this planned episode a couple of months back, one book kept coming up, and it was one that I've never actually heard of. I guess thats kind of appropriate, right? The book was Declare, by Tim Powers, and when at least four people recommend is a "set text" for the subject, then you really have to read it. I'm really, really glad I did. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar

At the moment I'm very used to being behind the curve on things, entertainment wise. Hell, we just this week finished off Breaking Bad (review soon!) the most talked about TV show of last year, and thats pretty up to date for us. Add to this the difficulty in getting to the movies for anything that isn't a superhero-themed action film or a flat-out kids flick, I'm mostly in the habit of shrugging and expecting to find out what all the fuss is about a long time after everyone has stopped being, well, fussed about something. So it was nice, this weekend, to see Interstellar, which seems to have generated a lot of interest, and to be able to express and opinion whilst that interest is still around. I'm still a little shocked about that! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

TV Review: Doctor Who, Series 8

If there was ever a show that proved the old maxim that "you just can't please everyone" it is Doctor Who. Having passed its 50th year, and now 8th year since its unlikely return - regeneration, perhaps - from the dead, it seems to have found a place as one of the most talked about TV fixtures of the year. The national press do it, of course - dusting off the old casting rumours, gossip about who is leaving the show and hoary old complaints about it being "too dark for children" or "too silly for grown ups", safe in the knowledge that the comments sections will fill up with impassioned defenses and critiques. It's very prominence makes it a lightning rod for wider debates, a metaphor for wider issues in TV as a whole and geek TV in particular. And so a show about a time-travelling alien in a phone box, that goes out on a saturday evening to a family audience, seems at times to have the weight of a more serious, worthy show, whether it wants to or not. It also means that simply "liking" or "not liking" feels like its not enough.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

First Impressions: The Flash

So following on from the start of Gotham a couple of weeks back, the wave of new comics-based shows continues with the start of The Flash. Unlike Gotham, however, The Flash shares a world with the already-successful Arrow, and Barry Allen even appeared for a couple of episodes to hang out in Starling City and flirt with Felicity, damn him. I was late to the party on how worthwhile Arrow was, so the spin off show, promising a lighter tone and yet still tied in, has been hotly anticipated in our house of four geeks of varying ages. Now we're two episodes in, and so I thought I'd share my opinion so far.