Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Formspring Question #305--I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlord Edition

Who would you prefer to welcome as Robot Overlord? Data or Kryten?
Kryten.

His guilt program keeps him in line far more than Data‘s ethical subroutine. At worst, Kryten’s jealousy has prompted him to use a tank to disrupt the Dwarfers good time in order to force them to eat his lobster dinner. He is being a jackass there, but that is a character flaws one can tolerate because of his good qualities, like empathy and self-sacrifice.

Data is cold and often clueless about dealing with humans. He has butted heads with those under him the couple of times he has taken command because his lack of emotion makes him seem too distant to be an effective leader. His malfunctions have had disastrous results, too. When not in control of himself, he has taken over the ship, nearly allowing a sick child to die in the process of diverting it to a new location, has inadvertently injured people because he does not know his own strength, threatened to kill hostages, plotted a coup with lore, and went on a rampage on Bak'u. That does not count the issues caused by his lack of understanding of human custom when he has been in control of his actions, and some of the more questionable decisions he has made, such as attempting to kill Armus and Fajo in cold blooded revenge for their actions.

When it comes down to it, kryten has better people skills and easier to deal with malfunctions.

Formspring Question #304--Making a Mila Kunis Edition

Can you explain your fascination will Mila Kunis for those of us who don't get it?
No, because I do not have a fascination with Mila Kunis. I think she is attractive, but that is a matter of taste. You either think she is good looking, or you do not. There is nothing to explain.

Formspring Question #303--Discovering the Dwarfers Edition

How did you discover Red Dwarf? What made you want to review episodes?
I had some friends in college who were Britcom geeks. Part of my education was a steady diet of catch phrases and famous routines from Black Adder, yes, Prime Minister, and Fawlty Towers. Some Red Dwarf bits and lingo got thrown in there. One buddy used Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble as an occasional online screen name. I never had enough interest to check the show out.

Last year, the BBC went on the copyright warpath with fan videos featuring Red Dwarf material ahead of adding clips to their own channel. The message board gripes caught my attention and brought back memories of the vague bits and pieces I had heard years ago. I looked up some clips to see what is what. Those were my first literal views of Red Dwarf.

The three or four minute scene with the Dwarfers first meeting Kryten as he cares for the three women who have been dead for centuries had me in stitches, which is ironic, because I had hernia surgery a week before and was actually in staples. I sought out the whole show. It started slow, but by the third series, it had become a favorite.

I decided to review the show because there was not much of that sort of thing online. Writing about a show hardly anyone else is had paid off for The Wild Wild West had paid off in terms of blog hits. Plus, the show shares many themes with VOY, yet lives up to the potential of those themes far better than VOY ever did. It is a good show. I am surprised it is as obscure in the United States as it is.

Red Dwarf--"Stoke Me a Kipper"

“Stoke Me a Kipper” is Chris Barrie’s kinda sorta send off. He will make another appearance this season, though not as the real Rimmer, so for all intents and purposes, this is the end of the character. At least until the eighth series, when barrie decided the lighter demands of the seventh series were enough for him to recharge his batteries and resume the role. The after the fact revelation the episode is not really barrie’s swan song does not detract from the episode. It is one of the best in the series.

I mentioned yesterday the production values of series seven have greatly increased over the past. The improvements are more noticeable in this episode than the previous. It begins with a james bond style action sequence in which Ace Rimmer is charged with rescuing a kidnapped princess from the Nazis. He has to jump from an exploding plane while wrestling with, then gliding on an alligator, steal a descending Nazi’s parachute, survive a fall into a shed, dispose of the firing squad about to execute the princess, and escape on a motorcycle, all in style. It is absolutely hilarious the ease at which he does it all.

Not to be outdone, in our dimension, Lister is playing a virtual reality game in which he must defeat a king’s best night in a jousting contest in order to spend the night with his queen. Stealing Brian Cox’s women..that takes some backbone. Or cheat codes, which Lister uses to shrink the knight down to midget size and defeat him. His ’reward” is interrupted by the arrival of ace in our dimension.

He has come to see Rimmer, who obviously is not thrilled to be reminded of all that he good be. Ace reveals only to him tht he is dying because of a mortal wound he suffered rescuing the princess. He is not the original Ace Rimmer, but another in a long line. Each time one nears death, he recruit’s a Rimmer from another dimension to replace him. This Ace wants Rimmer to replace him. Rimmer, of course, refuses.

Ace recruits Lister in order to convince Rimmerhange his mind. Using reverse psychology to mock the very idea Rmmer could be Ace, Lister wounds his pride enough for Rimmer to give training a go. He fails miserably at a virtual reality training exercise to the point he wants to quit, but upon leaving, he confronts and defeats the knight from Lster’s program. It is actually Lister in disguise as part of a ruse he has with ace to build up Rimmer’s confidence.

The ruse works well enough for Rimmer to go along with a plan to claim the now deceased Ace is really him murdered by the knight. “ace’ defeated the knight in revenge for the murder. Only Lister knows the truth, and in a rare act of true friendship, hides the truth through “Rrimmer’s” funeral, even saying a few good things about him, before sending the new ace off to save the universe.

We are certainly not left with the notion Rimmer is going to set the woods on fire as the newest Ace, but I think it is a fitting send off regardless. Rimmer still has all his bad qualities in abundance, but he has still stepped up when absolutely necessary. Being Ace is everything he has said he ever wanted to be in life, and it is a nice touch to see lister cast aside his distaste for Rimmer personally in order to nudge him towards the opportunity to finally have everything he has wanted in life.

After the two opening sequences with ace and Lister respectively, the laughs are sparse, but it really does not matter. The point of ‘Stoke Me Another Kipper” is to give Rimmer closure, and it does that well with a rare instance of Lister showing true friendship for him. Sparse is not to say there are not some funny moments as the episode moves along, either, but it is not the comedy that makes the episode one of the best of the series. It is a great episode even knowing that Barrie will return as Rimmer for another series.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Battlestar Galactica--"Lost Planet of the Gods, Part II"

I have mixed emotions regarding “Lost Planet of the Gods, Part II.” It does its job, which is to point the fleet in the diection of Earth, and it overall plot id far less implausible than an all female group of shuttle pilots becoming ace fighter jockey’s in a matter of hours, but there are aspects of the episode which are pitifully contrived. One has to weigh t he good with the bad.

Adama takes the fleet into the void with the admonition every ship must stay within visual range of the Galactica so as to not get lost. His decision is based solely on ancient holy text regarding a bright star appearing to lead the inhabitants of Kobol to the other side of the void and, eventually, Earth. No one expresses anything more than the slightest hint of skepticism over his decision in spite of the pitch black void being next to impossible to navigate.

When a blip appears on the radar and seems to be folowing the fleet, Apollo opts to take a patrol out himself to check it out. Serena insists upon serving as his wing man. Before he can straighten her out, Starbuck steals Apollo’s Viper and spares them both the trouble as a wedding gift. The blips turn out to be the Cylon raiders Baltar had ordered to capture a viper pilot. Starbuck is eventually captured and brought aboard a hidden Base Star.

Starbuck’s capture leads to the first of two issues I have with the episode. He is very much in character by stealing Apollo’s viper and hotdogging it alone. I like when he strikes a match off a cylon in order to light his cigar with it. The guy has a cool irreverence that he will keep until the end. The problem is everyone else’s reraction. Outside of Apollo, who fears starbuck is dead, no one else cares--not even Athena! No patrols are launched. No search parties. Nothing. Adama does not have the same determination to ‘get his men back” the 2004 Adama does, and it is disappointing. This will not be the last case of Adama ready to forgo a lost pilot. He will not go after Apollo a few episodes from now until Tight yanks him in that direction because he is too afraid of the appearance of favoritism. This is a weakness of command that reflects poorly on the character.

What maybe even worse is Serena. She demands, here and now, to be married. Forget Starbuck, forget the Viper pilots incapacitated by virus, and the possibly hopeless search for a star that might guide them out of the void they just entered thanks to a religion to which only Adama appears to zealously adhere. If you like, put a ring on it, Apollo. Now! The ceremony goes on without Starbuck, or anyone much caring that he is not there, until the star appears after Apollo and Serena are officially married.

The star leads to Kobol, a planet with pyramids, a sphinx, and the tomb of a pharoah. No Stargate, though. Bummer. If you had not yet received confirmation the people of Kobol colonized ancient Egypt, have no fear. Adama, Apollo, and serana, spend the better part of two acts wandering around while inspecting all the sights. Which makes sense, really. These look like some really expensive sets and america was going King Tut crazy back in 1978.

Getting back to Starbuck, because someone has to, he is confronted by Baltar, who informs him that nothing bad will happen to him. He is actually going to be released as a gesture of good will towards a true peace with the Cylons. Baltar comes across as enigmatic here. To Lucifer, he assures that he is lulling Adama into a false sense of security with a peace offering in order to capture the fleet. But when he travels to Kobol to confront Adama himself, he brings news the Cylon have spread their forces out too wide looking for the fleet. The homeworld is practically undefended and so could be taken easily if the fleet approached under the uise of making peace, but attacked instead. Baltar claims he does not want to work with the Cylons, but he has to go along in order to stay alive. Is Baltar really riding the tiger, so to speak? I am inclined to think not, because he does not believe Earth exists, so hooking up with the fleet is not in his best interests. His bread is still buttered on the Cylon side.

Speaking of, they attack, so there is another space battle with the Viper Babe Brigade and the wobbly kneed, still sick male pilots. They manage to route the Cylons, anyway, which begins to cast doubt on just how formidable these killer robots are. If you do not have doubts yet, note what comes next--one of them shots serena in the back, mortally wounding here. This is my second issue with the episode. Come on--shooting a woman in the back? That is a cheap shot. Circumstantially speaking, it truly is. The rest of the Cylons have retreated, so it is an act of revenge which does not reflect well on the Cylons as honorable villains. One wonders why the humans are so willing to listen to their peace overtures repeatedly considering how prone the Cylons are to deceptive and cowardly acts of violence.

Srena dies on Galactica after saying goodbye to Apollo and her son and assuring Boxey Apollo will always be there to take care of him. It becomes clear the only reason the wedding was rushed was for the sake of drama. It stings more for Apollo to be a widower and single father after having been married a couple dys at the most. It is kind of contrived, particularly considering the whole Starbuck is missing plot point has to be dialed down to the point it feels like no one even cares he is gone.

The two problems I have with “Lost Planet of the Gods, Part II” are significant, but not enough to ruin the episode. It does the job of pointing the fleet towards the direction of Earth while establishing solidifying characterizations that will last the duration. Save for the reaction to bad things happening to Starbuck. His friends and colleagues will actually care about such things in the future.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sandra Bullock

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Herman Cain Reassessing His Candidacy

Making time to save face is more like it. Herman Cain’s goose is cooked. He juast wants to make it look as though he has a choice aboit carrying on by taking time to weigh his options. Stick a fork in him. The only question now is how he will cash in with media circles. A book deal, definitely. Television show? It is possible.

The thing that gets me is that cain pushed a plan that would raise taxes on 84% of the population and knew about as much foreign policy as your average high school student, but it took a sex scandal to bring his campaign to a halt. That does not speak well of the level of political discourse in this country.

The question now is who will he endorse? I think Cain is tainted goods , particularly as there may be even more scandalous revelations to come, so the Veep slot is out of the question. That likely means he would not endorse Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich? That would be my guess. He certainly will not go for Rick Perry, and the others have been harshly critical of him.

Formspring Question #302--Galactica Goofs Edition

By way of a correction, the Hooker/Love-goddess high priestess/socialator that Starbuck rescued is Cassiopeia, played by Laurette Spang. Athena, is one of Adama's daughters, she is a pilot and tactical officer on the Galactica, played by Maren Jensen.
I have that straight now, thanks. I also called Jane Seymour's character sheba instead of Serena, which is doubly bad considering much much I like Anne Lockhart, who actually does eventually play Sheba.

But, hey, you try watching and reviewing a three hour movie in the middle of the night on a caffeine high and see how well you keep all those mythological references straight. Heh.

Formspring Question #301-Kent McCord Needed the Money Badly Edition

Will you also be reviewing Galactica 1980? (Hopefully the answer is something like, Dear God No! It's worse than Voyager!)
No, I will not be reviewing Galactica: 1980. The show truly is worse than Star Trek: Voyager. The only passably interesting episode is the final one in which Starbuck is stranded on the desert with the pregnant woman and a Cylon. Even that episode had the makeshift bicycle bit in which starbuck and the Cylon took turns pedaling to generate electricity. The only two other places I have seen that gag are on Gilligan’s Island and Red Dwarf. Such great dialogue, too:
STARBUCK: Well, this is a grand day! Only been in charge of this planet for three days and already I've doubled the population! I do hereby declare myself president-elect, if that's all right with you.

CYLON: Die, human.

STARBUCK: Don't be ridiculous.
Heh. Hang in there, Dirk. The A-Team premieres in three more years.

One episode set during the Holocaust with the next starring Wolfman Jack? Even Brannon Braga would not think that is a good idea.

Technically speaking, Galactica: 1980 counts as the second season. I would have much preferred the plans for a legitimate second season to have become a reality instead. Ergo, I pretend Galactica: 1980 does not exist. I suggest everyone give it a shot for the sake of their sanity.

Red Dwarf--"Tikka to Ride"

I am going to throw this in here. There are two versions of many seventh series episodes because some ran long. The broadcast versions are edited down to the usual 28-30 minutes. The extended versions run as much as 45 minutes. As I err on the side of creator intent, I will be reviewing the extended versions. If I talk about a scene you do not remember, it is because you have seen the broadcast version.

“Tikka to Ride” is the premiere episode of the seventh series. There has been a four year gap between seasons for various reasons, but the most significant was Craig Charles’ imprisonment on charges of sexual assault, for which he was eventually cleared. In the interim, Chris Barrie made it known his desires to quit the show. Co-creator Rob grant did quit the show in order to pursue other projects. Doug Naylor, Grant’s co-creating partner, was faced with the option of ending Red Dwarf or putting together two, eight episode series to bring the episode total up to enough for syndication. He opted for the latter.

The results are certainly not what we have come to know as Red Dwarf. Naylor hooked up with several different writing partners during the season with more experience in sitcoms than science fiction. Therefore, several episodes fall well into standard sitcom fare. Chris Barrie agreed to star in four episodes only, so the Rimmer character was sorely missed in half the episodes. It was not all bad, however. The production values were increased. Later on in the series, Chloe Arnett will be added to the cast as Kristine Kockansky to up the hot women quotient to…one. She never comfortably replaced Barrie, but she found her niche. The bottom line is Red Dwarf has jumped the shark. The bright spots were fewer and farther between until the end.

“Tikka to Ride” resolves the cliffhanger in unfortunate fashion. Lister explains the original Dwarfers returned to life because when their future selves destroyed Starbug killing all hands aboard, they ceased to be because their pst selves were now gone. So the original timeline was destroyed. Keep this in mind when reading about the plot resolution.

One thing that did not return to normal was the food supply. All the Indian food was destroyed and not recovered, hence the title--“tikka” is an Indian marinade spice. Lister says the Dwarfers should use the time drive to go back to an Indian take out place and order a large supply of curry. Kryten advises him against the idea under the rationale of not causing any causality problems. That night, lister sneaks into where kryten is recharging and replaces his head with one that lacks an ethical subroutine. That way, he can convince Kryten to change his mind about using the time drive.

The Dwarfers use the time drive to travel to Dallas, Texas on November 22nd, 1963. In what is the only really funny bit of the episode, the Dwarfers inadvertently prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting JFK in three slapstick attempts. They subsequently have to escape two years into the future in order to escape from the authorities. They discover this 1965 is far worse because JFK lived. He was caught having an affair with a mob boss’ mistress and removed from office. J. Edgar Hoover became president, but he is secretly working for the mob because they have photos of him at a transvestite orgy. The soviet union has built missile bases in Cuba, so Americans have abandoned every major city. Lister’s actions have brought the world to the brink of annihilation in the middle of the 20th century.

The dwarfers camp out in the deserted dallas that night to plan their next move. Kryten prepares them what they believe is chicken, but it is actually a dead guy lying in the streets kryten cooked for them. Without his ethical subroutine, he saw no problem with it. I think cannibalism jokes qualify as slumming it. They decide to go back in time and convince Oswald to move to another floor so he will not run into them this time. Unfortunately, being on a higher floor causes him to miss JFK. They are going to have to kill him another way. To make things right, Lister travels to see JFK in 1965 on his way to prison. He explains to the disgraced president how his legacy would be changed if he died in Dallas. He agrees he would rather have a short life, but be remembered well, than live out his days as a criminal on a doomed world. He shoots and kills his past self from behind the grassy knoll.

Remember is said the cliffhanger resolution was a mistake? Here is why. When the future Dwarfers killed their past selves, they could no longer exist, so the original time line was restored. Under that rationale, the 1965 JFK would prevent himself from killing the 1963 JFK because he would cease to have ever existed once 1963 JFK was dead. The assassination should not be permanently successful., yet it restores everything back to normal. I could excuse the contradiction as one of those inconsistent issues you have to overlook in time travel stories, but it is impossible to do that when the contradiction is between two major plot points in the same episode! Maybe if ’Tikka to Ride” was more amusing.

The episode ends with Lister lamenting he never asked JFK to recommend an Indian take out place, which show he has not learned a thing and earns him a severe beating from the other Dwarfers. Kick him one for me, because “Tikka to Ride” is a bad episode. The bit with Oswald being knocked out the window--twice--and climbing precariously on the edge to get a shot at JFK is the only funny thing in the episode. The cannibalism gag--a word I use deliberately--was the lowest of the low. It looks like the main cast was phoning this one in. The actors playing Oswald and JFK do their best to save it, but their best is not good enough.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Battlestar Galactica--"Lost Planet of the Gods, Part I"

“Lost Planet of the Gods, Part I” begins a two part, epic episode which sets in motion the journey to Earth. In one of the few times I will give props to the original series over the 2004, the story was drawn out over nine episodes which crossed two seasons. One had to have much patience to follow it all the way through. The faster pace presented here is much more effective, as it gives the fleet a purpose right off the bat.

An undisclosed amount od time has passed since the end of the pilot. Apollo and Serena have bonded to the point they have decided to marry. Boxey considers Apollo to be his stepfather already. As the kid is sitting close to Adama at the dinner at which the engagement is announced, I assume he has accepted Adama as his grandfather, too. The whole group is close knit. Starbuck and Athena are at dinner, too. If nothing else, the opening scene combined with the desperate situation to come sets the tone of the series. It is a mix as much normalcy as possible interrupted by the near completion of mankind’s genocide. Come to think, that is not a whole lot different than real life, is it?

The next day, Starbuck and Apollo are sent out on patrol. Starbuck is bummed because this is the last time they will both be devil may care bachlors. They are assigned to search an optional route for the fleet to take. An earlier patrol, consisting of Boomer and Jolly, have gone ahead to check out another route. They are all in a hurry to get back for the surprise bachelor party for Apollo. Boomer and Jolly discover a Cylon outpost. Starbuck and Apollo nearly get lost in a starless void that seems endless.

Trouble arises when Boomer and jolly contract a virus while investigating the outpost on foot. This decision is the most implausible of the episode. It exists solely to get the two contagiously ill so they can infect the other pilots, sans starbuck and Apollo, at the party. What good is an outpost if two Viper pilots can land nearby undetected? There really should be a more plausible way for the two to scope the outpost out rather than landing and hoofing it. Oh, well. You have to have a catalyst for the plot. This is it.

The only pilots who do not contract the virus are Starbuck and Apollo, so the fleet remains undefended. The doctor claims the only way he can cure the virus is to visit the outpost to discover the virus’ source. The only way to successfully do that is for a Viper squadron to destroy the outpost. Knowing the virus will kill the pilots otherwise, Adama orders the shuttle pilots into quick training to fly the mission.

I have mixed feelings about this turn of events. On the one hand, it shows how desperate times call for desperate measures. It is one thing to ferry supplies from one ship to another on a daily basis. It is something else to go on a search and destroy mission against murderous robots after only one training session. That is drama. Having every one of the shuttle pilots recruited to fly vipers be a hot girl in a tan body suit with black padding that looks suspiciously like a two piece bathing suit is just gratuitous eye candy for the males in the audience. But seriously, all women? There are no male shuttle pilots?

I will concede the matter does not wind up bikinis and bombs. Serena has secretly been training as a shuttle pilot, so she is called up into viper training. Apollo thinks if he takes the women to attack the outpost, they are alll going to be killed. Adama offers him the option of keeping Serena off the mission, but he refuses. No matter how bleak the chances of survival are, Apollo refuses to play favorites. They all gotta go. This attitude is why I described Apollo yesterday as a reluctant warrior. He seems like the kind of person who would rather be doing something, but obligations drag him into a fight. He is the independent sort who will question any risky orders, then carry them out anyway even if it means the death of everyone under his commandl. The character traits are more prominent in the Lee Adama version of Apollo, but they are evident in the original, too. It will eventually be a fateful decision for Apollo.

Of course, the women do well. They destroy the outpost and successfully dogfight cyon Raiders with no casualties. I could have done without the “Let’s go, girls,” which sounded like a bunch of drag queens were going to take off their heels and chase after the cylons with their purses swinging violently but whatever works. Can you picture the Sex in the City girls flying Vipers? That is pretty much what we got here. Score one for girl power. With no nails chipped, either.

There are two other running elements I have not addressed yet. One is an altered version of the epilogue from yesterday’s episode in which balter is placed in command of a Base Star with orders to destroy the fleet. He gets an assistant, Lucifer, who is the robed lipstick tube with a blinking lights head voiced by Jonathan Harris. At this point, Lucifer has not developed the simmering contempt for Baltar he will eventually operate under, but you still get the hint this is not the assignment Lucifer was hoping for. Two, the void has religious significance, so Adama has no fear of sending the fleet into it even though navigation will be next to impossible. The reason why it is a good idea will be revealed in part two.

I have poked fun at some of the more implausible elements of “Lost Planet of the Gods, Part I,” but it is a good start to the series. As I mentioned above, it strikes the balance between the good times and bad times of the fleet. We also see the characters already fitting into their roles, particularly the strategic dueling between adama and baltar, something we did not see in the pilot. Originally, baltar was to have been beheaded by the Imperious Leader, so his function as the main protagonist is a change for the series. The religious themes are introduced, too, as the void is part of an ancient prophecy regarding the mythical Konol.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Ayssa Milano

Monday, November 28, 2011

Political Quick Hits

So the conservative rhetoric is still that we hate Romney, but we do not want to vote for anyone else? I have to wonder just how fanciful conservatives are being in longing for a dream candidate. Progressives thought they found their ideal savior in Barack Obama, and look how that turned out. If a handful of Democrats are willing to come out and say Obama ought not be the 2012 nominee, you can bet there is ten more for each one thinking it. Keep looking for a Republican who promises everything you want in a candidate, and conservatives will be in the same boat in 2015.

Union Leader, a prominent conservative newspaper in New Hampshire, has endorsed Newt Gingrich for president. Gingrich has used the endorsement to label himself to the right of Romney. Union Leader rationale is Romney represents the 1%. That term is quickly being popularized on both the left and right. It does not surprise me, really. Poor economies prompt populist campaigns for president. There is not a republican candidate out there who is a natural populist, however. That is probably the reason Union Leader is trying to mold Gingrich into one.

I am with Victor Davis Hanson--our priority is to defeat Obama, not find a conservative messiah. Let us take this one step at a time. We have an interesting opportunity with proportional delegates being allocated in the GOP primaries this time around for smaller, more conservative candidates to negotiate with the eventual lead candidate, who will inevitably be a moderate, to adopt a few pet positions in his playform in exchange for delegate support. Do not be too sure the influence of rick Perry or Michele Bachmann on whomever wins the nomination will not inch the eventual nominee closer to a more conservative governing philosophy.

If the Occupy movement has not petered out by summer, watch for a massive law enforcement crackdown that will make the pepper spraying at UC Davis look a Seinfeld slap fight. Even if they will not say it out loud, the democrats fear a repeat of the 1968 convention. I always figured conservatives had little to fear frm the movement because the Democrats would eventually be the ones to get rid of them. UC Davis is not run by conservatives. Neither are the vast majority of the big cities evicting occupiers. Those who heckled Obama last week starting the clock ticking faster by making bigger enemies.

We can settle the issues of Herman Cain’s foreign policy inecperience and sexual harassment accusations by asking him to point to Poon Tang on a map.

If barney frank gets bored in retirement with having a male prostitution ring run out of his home, he can always provide the voice of Elmer Fudd in new Looney Tunes cartoons. Yes, I know frank as elmer Fudd jokes are terribly unoriginal, but I have never made one and I could not think of a good way to set up a joke about frank replacing Fred Thompson on those mortgage loan commercials. I could not find a way to tie in the irony, sorry. But, hey--maxine waters is taking over his role on the House Banking Committee. That is a joke in and of itself.

Formspring Question #300--Honey Buns Edition

What's your position on the Twitter war between Carrie Fisher and Leonard Nimoy over which is better, Leia's hair buns or Spock's ears?
I am all about Leia's hair buns.Who amongst us is not?

Red Dwarf--"Out of Time"

“Out of Time” is the final episode of the lackluster sixth series. Unfortunately, the finale does not improve the series standing very much, although the cliffhanger is an interesting one. It had to sustain fans for far longer than expected. Various issues, not the least of which was craig Charles’ imprisonment on charges of sexual assault, for which he was eventually cleared, prevented the series from returning to the air for four years.

The Dwarfers have lost all trace of Red Dwarf, and morale is dangerously low. Rimmer appoints himself morale officer, but his plan of getting problems off his chest by attacking everyone else’s annoying habits falls flat. At least we now know there is a morale officer worse than Neelix. Starbug winds up traveling into a minefield of unreality pockets. There is no way to avoid the field, so they have to go through and just deal with the alternate reality scenarios they face. Among them: Lister is really a mechanoid, cat is wiped from existence, and they all become animals.

Beyond the field, they discover a time drive which will allow them to travel through time. They try it out in the hopes of making it to earth in the 15th century, but they wind up in the same spot they are in now, but in the 15th century. Without faster than light speed, there is nothing to it but the novelty. When they travel back to their present time, they encounter another Starbug. it is from even fifteen years in the future and requesting help.

Meeting their future selves is out of the question, so Kryten plans to communicate with them, offer whatever assistance they need, and then erase his memory. They need parts from the time drive, so Kryten arranges for them to come over to the present time Starbug with the dwarfers hidden away. Their future selves are freakishly obnoxious jerks who have been using the time drive to travel back to various eras and take advantage of the finer things, like dining with Louis XIV while his people starve and playing canasta with Hitler. Thry need parts from the present to keep the good times rolling.

While future Rimmer, cat, and Krten have only gotten old and fat, Lister has become a brain in a jar. Knowing something bad happens to him, but not knowing what, lister sneaks a peek. He learns what he and the other Dwarfers become. They refuse to allow them to take the time drive parts. The future Starbug attack the present one in order to take the time drive by force. All are killed except Rimmer, who decides to destroy the time drive in a rare selflessly brave act. Present Starbug is destroyed in the explosion. To be continued…

Maybe it is because I have higher expectations for a series finale, but ’out of time” falls flat. There are not many laughs to be had. Rimmer insults everyone. Kryten asserts himself when he believes Lister is an inferior mechanoid model. The various unrealities are supposed to be amusing by their very nature, not because anything is done with them, which nothing is. The Dwarfers’ future counterparts are not all that funny. Why did rimmer grow fat and bold in fifteen years when we saw him look unaged after six hundred years in the previous episode/ normally, I would overlook such a discrepancy for the sake of the joke, but the joke is not funny, so I really cannot. The cliffhanger is the only aspect of “Out of Time” that makes me want to see more.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Battlestar Galactica--"Saga of a Star World"

We have not covered anything from the Disco Era yet in these daily science fiction reviews, so why not start at the top? This is the top, folks. No matter how big a crush you had on Lindsey Wagner, The Bionic Woman is no where near as good as you remember. Neither is Battlestar Galactica, but we will deal with that one episode at a time.

A couple personal points before we begin. One, this is the first time I have watched the series since it used to flip flop the eight o’clock hour with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in the early days of the Sci Fi Channel eighteen or so years ago. The show was a childhood favorite back when it used to rerun on, I think, WGN out of Chicago. But do not hold me to that. We are talking twenty-five years ago in that regard. The point is, I think I remember Battlestar Galactica as far better than it actually is. Two, I doubt I can resist comparing the original series to the 2004-2009 version. I will not hold anything against the original, as that would not be fair, but the subject is bound to come up considering how much the latter series followed the original in its story arc. Fans have strong feelings towards one or the other, so bear with me through it.

The show had a rough beginning. Originally conceived by Glen A. Larsen in the late ’60’s as Adama’s Ark--I will let that sink in--no network would provide financial backing. The success of Star Wars compelled ABC, a young network still struggling to find a big hit, to finance a three hour premiere movie with an option for two addition two hour movies. The three hour pilot was enough of a hit for ABC to take the show to full series instead. This season order in spite of the pilot being interrupted by the announcement of the Camp David Accords signing, which delayed the final part for an hour, and a lawsuit filed by 20th Century Fox charging 34 counts of copyright infringement on Star Wars concepts. I cannot say much about the peace in the Middle east interruption, but the similarities between Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars are glaring.

(Universal, which owned Battlestar Galactica, counterclaimed Star Wars had lifted elements from its properties like the 1972 movie Silent Running and the 1930’s Buck Rogers movie serials. 20th Century Fox’s original suit was dismissed, but remanded for trial by the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals in 1983. I cannot find a trace of further proceedings, so I assume there was a financial settlement between the parties.)

All that is fine, but what about the pilot itself? I can tell you that I had planned to split the pilot into the three episodes it runs as in syndication to review on separate days, but I had forgotten a major point--it is two hours worth of story stretched gruel thin into three. I suspect Americans got the raw end of the deal. There was a 125 minute cut released to theaters in Canada, Europe, and Japan that cut out much of the filler from the 148 minute pilot which aired on ABC. I am reviewing said 148 minute behemoth. When it comes down to it, the first hour and the final thirty minutes make a good movie. The interim drags a lot in between some nifty special effects shots for the time period.

When the pilot begins, Apollo and his younger brother Zack, played by maybe you remember him teen idol Rick Springfield, are going out on a more routine than usual patrol in their Vipers. Their home, the Twelve Colonies, are on the verge of signing a peace treaty after a thousand year long war with the Cylons, a race of xenophobic robots the peace conference is a ruse. Count Baltar, a wealthy mining magnate, has secretly colluded with the cylons to pretend peace is at hand, then allow the Cylons to destroy the colonies in exchange for setting up baltar as a fly by night dictator.

Apollo and Zack stumble across Cylon fuel tankers hidden in preparation for the assault. They are ambushed on their way back to warn the fleet. Zack sacrifices himself in order to allow Apollo a chance to escape. Their father, Commander Adama is aware something is up, but his request to send fighters out for a look is rebuffed by Ray Milland at the urging of Balter, who warns such an act might jeopardize the peace. Then Baltar slinks away. (Wait…Rick Springfield and Ray Milland? Weird, but true.) Because of Baltar’s meddling, the fleet is unable to defend the colonies.

What ensues is quite impressive on a television budget with ’70’s era special effects. Vipers are destroyed, Battlestars are destroyed, and the attack on Caprica’s capitol city are depicted in all its glory. It is a lot of the old fashioned matte paintings and fake star fields, but surprisingly enough, scenes hold up well. It is even more impressive when you consider the attack lasts 35 minutes of screen time. I think the way the attack is presented is even more intense than the 2004 miniseries. I am curious why that is--budget reasons, I assume--because several scenes from the 2004 miniseries are directly lifted from the original.

The pilot begins to drag in the second hour. After adama has gathered together a fleet with as many survivors as could be saved, he announces the plan to seek out Earth. It is not as dramatic as when 2004 Adama does so, because Earth is not considered a myth in the original series as in the 2004 version. I cannot help but feel something lacking. The remainder of the hour involves an exploration of the survivors’ suffering while the cluless leadership, who do not appear stung by baltar’s betrayal in the slightest, whoop it up in luxury. This stuff drags on far too long. It is interrupted periodically by Apollo bonding with Serena, played by in her prime Jane Seymour, and her son, Boxey, while Starbuck hooks up with a former high priestess, go go dancer or hooker, I never quite figured out what Cassiopeia, is supposed to be. Either way, she has a heart of gold, doncha know.

There is only one easy to reach planet the fleet can reach in order to resupply, but Adama thinks that is a trap. He wants to take a longer journey to another, though that will mean some of the weakest of the survivors may starve to death. There is another rout rough a minefield which would also lead to salvation. Apollo, thinking adama is eaten up by guilt over Zack’s death and Baltar;s betrayal, is unwisely avoiding better options, so he colunteers himself and a couple other pilots to undetake the dangerous mission to clear the minefield so the fleet can take that route.

Now we get some boring, but expensive special effects shots of shooting mines. Woo hoo! When it is all said and done, the planet to which they first arrive is a mining colony underneath the surface--owned by baltar, of course--and a swinging disco on the surface. In case you did not realize this was 1978, of course. The story picks back up again here. This set up is a Cylon trap, of course. Adama knows it even in his brooding over being overruled about not wanting to go there. Everyone is having a royally good time and wants to stay on disco world. The Council of Twelve want to give up all the fleet’s weapons as a sign of good faith to the Cylons, whom they assume will leave them alone once they are no longer a threat. But that is exactly what the Cylons want. They plan to disarm the humans, then hand them over to the carnivorous aliens who live in the mines below.

There are laser fights and space battles galore as everyone comes to realize they should follow Adama’s wisdom in the future--or about fourteen episodes, whichever comes first. Imperious leader, so named for obvious copyright reasons, spares Baltar’s life for his failure and gives him another chance--take a Cylon fleet and hunt down the Galactica.

The most apt thing I can say is “Saga of a Star World” would have been much better if the second hour had been cut altogether. The purpose of displaying all the misery of the survivors versus the selfish decadence and foolish decisions of the leadership is to show us why the people would be so willing to settle on disco world, but I think less is more in that regard. I am sorry, but pretty Hollywood extras cannot play guant starvation as well as my imagination can. Otherwise, the pilot is a top notch mix of human drama and special effects. There are already hints of characterizations to come. Adama, burdened by guilt, is overly cautious about every move. Apollo is not a reluctant warrior who feels obligated to fight. Starbuck uses a flippant, rebellious attitude to mask his emmotions about the devastation so overwhelming, he cannot handle it. Not to beat a dead horse, but if those elements had been the focus of a two hour pilot, “Sagas of a Star World.” what it is, though, is a fine start to the series.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Olivia Munn

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blogroll Spotlight #121

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. These are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title. If you would like a specific post listed next week, you may email it to me and I will include it.

Adrienne's Corner--A Friday Night Feel Good Moment
American Perspective--Catch a swimsuit Model in a Net.
American Power--Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Amusing Bunni's Musings--Cats Say Thank You
Barking Spider--Creeping Islamofascism--Ignore at Your Own Peril
Blazing Cat Fur--Schools Use Marijuana-Filled Occupy L.A. as Civics Lesson for Students
Bluegrass Pundit--Finally, a Sign That Sums Up the OWS Movement
Bride of Rove--Vignette: a Funeral in Georgia
Camp of the Saints--Rule 5 Saturday: Juliana Paes
Classic Liberal--"Conservative" Newt's New Deal
Common Cents--This is Big: New Hampshire's Union Leader Endorses Newt Gingrich for President
Conservative Hideout 2.0--Occupods Try to Persuade Consumers and Retail Workers by Insulting Them
Da Tech Guy--You Mean China is Not a Worker's Paradise?
Diogene's Middle Finger--"Special Ed" Schultz Make GQ's 25 List
Fausta's Blog--Malbec, My Favorite
Fishersville Mike--How Long Until Baseball Season?
Gormogons--Explaining Ron Paul
House of Eratosthenes--Why Blacks Don't Join the Occupy Wall Street Movement
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--The Friday Pin Up
Jaded Haven---Butterballs Aren't Halal
Lazy Farmer--Thanksgiving Day
Left Coast Rebel--I Found the Path to Victory
Lonely Conservative--Obama Number 25 on List of Least Influential People
Maggie's notebook--Thanksgiving: Pilgrims Gave Thanks for God’s Guidance Away from Socialism – Capitalism and Scripture Saved the Pilgrims
Mind Numbed Robot--Obama by the Numbers (Infographic)
Motor City Times--Why The Culture Matters: U.S. Military Legacy Leaves Imprint On Iraqi Youth
Nice Deb--Reconsider Sarah
Other McCain--Newt Gingrich Wins Coveted GOP Primary Endorsement From … Bill Clinton?
Paco Enterprises--Sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove--If All You See...
Proof Positive--Occupy LA About to Become Endangered Feces
Randy's Roundtable--Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
Reaganite Republican--Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Right Klik--Is Mitt Romney Re-electable?
Sentry Journal--Should We Be Trading Our Principles for Electability?
Teresamerica--Rule 5: Shakira
Three Beers Later--Pardoned Thanksgiving Turkey Goes on Nine State Killing Spree
Troglopundit--This Week in Automotivators
Vodkapundit--Strolling Up to the Oncoming Train
Washington Rebel--Degrees of Self-Delusion
We the People--It Will Never Happen Here
WyBlog--Our Dickensian Future
Zilla of the Resistance--SundAY SundriesI was looking for the MTV Unplugged version of this song, but I love the official video, too. Alanis Morissette is a brave soul for performing nude and without makeup. not many performers would present themselves so vulnerably.

Red Dwarf--"Rimmerworld"

“Rimmerworld’ is easily the worst episode of the already lackluster sixth series. Once again, you can chalk much of its failures on the rushed production schedule. The episode utilizes sets and an actress from “Gunmen of the Apocalypse,” so significant portions had to be filmed simultaneously. The shooting schedule left little time to polish the script, so it is bare bones, particularly whern it comes to laughs. As a result, “Rimmerworld’ is the very definition of filler.

A flaw in rimmer’s holographic program has made him susceptible to nervous disorders at the same time, because supplies are running low, Lister decides it is necessary to go back to the Simulants’ ship from a couple episodes back and raid it for supplies. For the record, this proves Red Dwarf, a low budget, British sitcom, had more respect for continuity than did big budget, American network series Star Trek: Voyager. the Dwarfers use a handheld transportation device in order to travel to the ship and swipe supplies. Unfortunately, the female Simulant survived the initial attack and confronts them. The Simulant causes the ship to explode, sacrificing herself to kill the Dwarfers.

Before she can do that, Rimmer utilizes an escape pod,. The other Dwarfers use the teleportation device, but wind up several weeks in the past. Keep this in mind. It sets up the only joke in the episode. Yes, the only. They return to the present time to discover rimmer’s life pod is programmed to seek out the nearest inhabitable planet. The nearest happens to be on the other side of a wormhole. There will be a time differential between the Dwarfers and Rimmer. It will only take a few hours for them to get to him, but it will be six hundred years for him.

On the planet, rimmer uses a convenient terraforming device to turn a desert world into a lush forest. Using his own DNA, even though it has been a past plot point that he does not have any, he attempts to create a mate. The effort results only in a clone of himself, so he tries repeatedly to get it right. By the time the Dwarfers get there, the entire planet is run by Rimmer clones in what resembles a low rent ancient Rome. They are captured, sentenced to death, and thrown into a dungeon with the real Rimmer, who, thanks to his nervous condition, has worn his stress balls down to marbles.

He was overthrown after 43 years by his people because, since they have all his bad traits, they are greedy, conniving, and backstabbing people. Those qualities are considered virtuous on Rimmerworld. Lister plans overly daring and complicated escape doomed to failure when Kryten suggests they use the handheld teleported instead. They do, but wind up in another timeframe with themselves. Assuming this is the past, Lister taunts the other Rimmer about his impending 600 year imprisonment, only to discover this is the future and they are all more concerned about the horrible thing that just happened to him.

The ending is the only obvious joke in the episode. It is completely barren of any original laughs. Even the running gag of Rimmer memorizing the space Corp Directory, but missing the numbers so that what he actually recommends in a given situation is absurd, is not quite as funny the fifteenth time he does it. I went a good ten or fifteen minutes in this one without so much as cracking a smile. The novelty of a planet full of Rimmers does not carry the day as much as I believe was intended. What is the point of the nervous condition, anyway? Kryten uses it as an excuse for Rimmer using the escape pod to save himself while leaving the others behind, but that sort of thing would not be out of character for him on the best of days. Was that thrown in just to do the stress balls worn into marbles after six centuries deal? If so, it demonstrates more than anything how bad “Rimmerworld” is.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Mila Kunis

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Formspring Question #299--No Vulcan Vindication Edition

If you needed your brain changed would you have Tuvok do it, based on something he saw once. Or Kryten if he thought he knew what he did wrong before?
Kryten has a better track record of brain surgery with fewer negative consequences, so I will go with him. he actually respects the do No Harm admonition, unlike anyone on Star Trek: Voyager.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #126

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Proof Positive links to Shawnee Smith, Cameron Diaz, Summer Glau, and Jeri Ryan.
Say Anything links to Shawnee Smith, Cameron Diaz, Summer Glau, and Jeri Ryan.
American Perspective links to January Jones.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #125, Blogroll Spotlight #120, and January Jones.
Sentry Journal links to Stroll Down Memory Lane.
Randy's Roundtable links to Heather Morris, Shelley Hemnig, and an acknowledging FMJRA.
Classic Liberal links to Summer Glau, January Jones, Heather Morris, Angelina Jolie, Jessica alba, and Shelley Hemnig.
Motor City times links to Happy Thanksgiving!
Star Trek Massive links to Star Trek: Voyager--"Endgame."
The Other McCain links to Summer Glau.
Teresamerica links to Jeri Ryan.
Left Coast Rebel acknowledges a FMJRA.
The Reaganite Republican adds the Eye to his blogroll.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Red Dwarf--"Emohawk: Polymorph II"

“Emohawk: Polymorph II” manages to cram three sequels into one. The Polymorph was popular. So was Ace Rimmer and Duane Dibbley. So why not put all three in a single episode? Note I used the word ‘crammed” and you will have a good idea why not. The episode is so packed, the main elements are only part of the story for the final few minutes.

Starbug comes under attack by a Space Corps Police ship because the Dwarfers have been stealing supplies from derelict ships, which is a capital offense. They escape certain death, but the damage suffered causes Starbug to crash on a GELF moon. Automatic repair systems will fix everything but the oxygen generator. The GELF generally are not friendly, but Kryten suggests they try trading with them for an oxygen generator.

The GELF turn out to be more cooperative than expected. They will trade for their oxygen generator, but in return, the tribal chief wants Lister to marry his monstrous daughter. Lister has no intentions of doing so. The Dwarfers concoct a plan to go through with the wedding, then come back to rescue Lister at night when everyone is asleep. Lister reluctantly agrees, but when his new bride wants to consummate the marriage, he joins the Dwarfers in running off right then. The chief, angry at the betrayal, sends his emohawk after them.

The emohawk sneaks on board Starbug. It attacks Cat, draining out all his grace, thereby turning him into Duane Dibbley. It also attacks Rimmer, absorbing out his bitterness to make him Ace Rimmer. When the two cannot find the emohawk, ace decides to play hero and open the airlock to suck out all the air. Both he and Duane will die, but the emohawk will be a goner, too. Kryten and Lister intervene and convince him to hunt the emohawk in a more conventional manner. They succeed due to Duane‘s screw up. Cat and rimmer can be returned to normal, but ace requests to stick around a while. Okay.

The set up for the heart of the story takes forever. Literally three-fourths of the episode is the Space Corps Police chase, the crash, and the whole wedding bit. If you have ever seen a goofy sitcom featuring a shotgun wedding to an ugly girl, you could write all the jokes yourself. A Gilligan’s Island episode came to my mind immediately. There was not much time left for the return of alternate characters or for anything fun with the emohawk. The thrill of seeing them return is supposed to sustain the episode. It does not.

Which is not to say the episode is bad. It is entertaining, but not the classic it was obviously intended to be. Fewer elements from previous episodes should have been put in. a good episode good have been built around Duane, ace, or the emohawk individually, but with all three, there is not enough space for each to shine. Fan favorites though they may be, they were wasted here.

There is one big question remaining, too. I can see why Kryten and Lister would want to change cat back from Duane, but why do any of them want Rimmer back, including Rimmer himself? They do not like him. Rimmer certainly hates himself, and Ace is everything he wants to be. He would be far more useful to the Dwarfers, too. There is no good reason to change Ace back to Rimmer other than to re-establish the status quo. The ending should have been something different, like the two reverted back to themselves after the emohawk died instead of being given the choice to change.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Anya Monzikova

Friday, November 25, 2011

Formspring Question #298--Thanksgiving Festivities Edition

Do anything fun for Thanksgiving?
The usual: turkey, lemon pie, and football.

Red Dwarf--"Gunmen of the Apocalypse"

“Gunmen of the Apocalypse” is the only stand out episode of the sixth series, but it would be considered the best installment of just about any series. It is good enough to have won an international Emmy award, and not for a technical category like special effects or hairstyling, but the real deal. It is a creative and fun episode.

Starbug inadvertently crosses into the territory of rogue Simulants, a race of artificial beings built to be super soldiers in a war that never came. They are xenophobic, particularly regarding humans, so Starbug goes into silent running mode while looking for an escape route. They are discovered by Simulants anyway. Lister tries to fool them by using the upside down chin with an eye on it to make them believe there are no humans on board, but it does not work.

The Simultants decide the Dwarfers are so pathetic, they knock them out, then upgrade Starbug’s weapons so killing them will at least be some kind of sport. At Cat’s suggestion, the Dwarfers sneak attack the Simultant ship and cripple it. In revenge, the Simultants transmit a virus to infect Starbug. Kryten absorbs the virus thinking he can internally cure it, but it turns out to get the beest of him.

Kryten’s struggle with battling the virus is visualized as a parody of Rio Bravo. Kryten is the drunken lawman who must face down a gang of outlaws. In this case, the outlaws are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, War, Famine, and Joe Pesci. Wanna bet either Rob Grant, doug Naylor, or both are fans of George Carlin? Kryten cannot get his act together enough to face them. Therefore, the virus is going to kill him before sundown.

The Dwarfers decide to use a virtual reality system Lister discovered recently on a derelict ship to offer Kryten their aid. Lister has become obsessed with playing the virtual reality system, though he is not playing the games as intended so much asd using female characters for sex. The Dwarfers choose a wild west game in which their characters have special abilities. Rimmer is a fist fighting expert, Cat is a trick shoot gunmen, and Lister is a skilled knife thrower. They enter Kryten’s subconscious to help him.

The dwarfers have a enormously good time playing with their new skills to the point they get overconfident about confronting the four horsemen. Death, the leader of the Four Horsemen, eliminates their special skills just before the others attack. The Dwarfers panic when they realize they are not touch any longer. Picture The Three Amigos realizing El Guapo and his gang are not actors, and you have got the scene down to a tee. The Dwarfers manage to escape, leaving kryten alone. But he has had enough time to discover a way to fight off the virus and so defeats the four horsemen. With the day saved, Starbug rides off into the sunset with an western-twinged acoustic guitar rendition of the closing theme song playing. The special version of the theme is cool touch.

There are three interesting points of notye beyond the International Emmy award. One, the head of arts and Culture at the Bbc read the script and nixed the idea, saying it would be too expensive to film. By the time word came down to the Red Dwarf production staff, the episode had already been filmed--under budget. Three, Patrick Stewart was flipping channels one night when he came acroos this episode. He had never heard of Red Dwarf and was not aware it was a send up of science fiction. He thought ’gunmen of the Apocalypse” was so similar to “A Fist Full of Datas,” the first TNGf he directed, that he considered legal action. However, he quickly realized what the show was and now considers it a brilliant satire of science fiction.

“Gunmen of the Apocalypse” certainly is brilliant. It is certainly not original. Elements are not only lifted directly from famous westerns, but Red Dwarf has used the themes of virtual reality and the dangers of exploring a character’s subconscious mind several times in the past. Nevertheless, it is still one of my favorite episodes. There are a lot of laughs and the actors are clearly enjoying themselves clowning around in cowboy get ups. The guest cast, Britons all, faking western drawls is a bit annoying, but the irritation is not enough to fret over.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Michelle Williams

There is early Oscar buzz for Michelle Williams' portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. The resemblance is uncanny:
Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tatiana Limanova Off the Air for Giving Barack Obama the Finger

Tatiana Limanova claims she did not know she was on the air when she flipped the bird at the mention of Barack Obama. It does not sound like a very plausible excuse for a prominent newscaster, but all right. The gesture cost her either way.

There is always FOX News. How good is her English? (Link.)

Red Dwarf--"Legion"

“Legion” is such an odd episode. It is very much indicative of the rushed production schedule, with reliance on gross out and slapstick humor, but it features an alien villain who is an incredibly disturbing monstrosity. Put the Three stooges in Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” with a dash of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to get some idea of what “Legion” is all about. Any way you care to visualize that cannot be half as disturbing as this episode.

Food supplies are running short on Starbug as the Dwarfers are falling behind in their pursuit of Red Dwarf. To make matters even worse, Starbug comes under attack by a strange object which morphs into a spherical cage similar to what Q used to trap the Enterprise during TNG’s run. Deliberate homage? Probably. The sphere brings them to a research station which appears abandoned. The place is full of much needed supplies, however, so the Dwarfers decide to help themselves.

The facility turns out to not be empty. The caretaker emerges, introducing himself as Legion. The name should have tipped our heroes off to a potential problem, but legion converts rimmer to solid form and painlessly removes Lister’s appendix, so they are all cool with him, particularly when he invites them to dinner.

Legion is cultured and very handy, so Rimmer schemes to convince Legion to go with them. The Dwarfers agree to put on airs and pretend to be far more erudite than they are to convince Legion to join them. Once they are too far away from the facility for him to return, they can go back to being themselves. Unfortunately, they cannot help but be themselves at dinner. They make a mess of using gravity utensils while eating. But it does not matter. Legion is holding them prisoner now, so there is no reason to impress him. He cannot exist without their minds being near him.

The Dwarfers go along with being held captive initially because Legion fulfills their every fantasy. The thought of forever losing their freedom eventually gets to them, so they plot an escape. Legion reveals his true self at the news. He is a Gestalt entity, meaning he exists only by taking on the personalities of those around him. He possess the complete minds of all four Dwarfers, for better and worse, as demonstrated by inflicting pain upon them by injuring himself. Kryten gets them out of this mess by knocking the other Dwarfers unconscious, then taking advantage of Legion’s owning only his subordinate mechanoid mind to allow them to escape. Once back on Starbug with an enhanced engine, they are back on their way.

“Legion” does not feature my kind of humor. Red Dwarf typically does not rely on gross out humor and slapstick to carry an episode, but here it does to average effect. Lister unknowingly eats a cooked rat when the meat runs out on Starbug. Kryten argues it is all right, since the rat was cornfed. Cat mistakes Lister’s toenail clippings for peanut shells. The entire Dinner scene, which is the heart of the episode, involves chewed food flying about because of misused gravity utensils. I will admit a few gags--I used the word deliberately--are funny, but overall the humor is too juvenile. The cartoon violence of kryten knocking out the other Dwarfers is funnier, particularly the increased effort it takes to incapacitate Rimmer’s new, tougher body. Still, I long for something more clever.

But I have to mention “Legion” is the episode with the famous light bulb joke. If you are unfamiliar, it involves Rimmer demanding Starbug go to blue alert, which is heightened, when the sphere is stalking them. Kryten protests the necessity, but complies. When an attack by the sphere is imminent, Rimmer orders red alert. Kryten asks if he is certain that is necessary because it would mean changing the light bulb. This joke is considered one of the funniest moments of the show’s run. While the absurdity of it did make me laugh the first time I saw it, the big fuss over it is lost on me. Take from the joke what you will.

I do not mind telling you Legion himself gives me the heebie jeebies. Part of it is the oxygen hose covering his mouth. I still have a phobia regarding the dizzying, floating sensation I experienced as a young child the first time I was given ether before surgery. I am better about it these days, but I still associate having my face covered with feeling disoriented and losing control. I do not care to see anyone else’s face covered with an oxygen mask, either. Another issue is his demeanor. He is very subdued and polite right up until he unleashes his rage by injuring himself. He stabs himself viciously in his hand secure with the knowledge the Dwarfers will feel the pain, not him. It is played for laughs--he threatens to stick a knife in his crotch next--but disturbingly played. The finale aspect of legion that gets me is when he takes off his face plate to reveal a tortured combination of all four Dwarfers’ faces. Yikes.

All, so “Legion” goes to the extremes of childish humor and sheer terror. Does that make it a good episode? It is more of a train wreck, really. You have to see the mess of it in order to believe it. I am going to award “Legion” three stars because, good or not, it has an emotional impact. There is something to be said for that. Legion even quotes the “I am called Legion, for I am many” Scripture. You do not see that often on the generally critical of religion Red Dwarf.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thanksgiving and Kaley Cuoco Day simultaneously. Can you handle the excitement?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hopefully, your day will be better than his.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Formspring Question #297--Lost in Translation Edition

Have you seen Lost in Translation? I would guess the bleak—but not too bleak—premise would appeal to you.
I have seen it. It is good, but not a favorite.

Formspring Question #296--The Eye is Now a Star Trek-Free Zone Edition

Have you seen William Shatner's documentary The Captains? If so when can we expect a review?
No, and probably never.

Formspring Question #295--We'll Always Have Paris Edition

Better pilot, The Cat or Tom Paris?
Tom Paris. The Cat flew Starbug into a meteorite in today's episode.

List of Star Trek: Voyager Episode Reviews


First Season

Caretaker
Parallax
Time and Again
Phage
The Cloud
Eye of the Needle
Ex Post Facto
Emanations
Prime Factors
State of Flux
Heroes and Dragons
Cathexis
Faces
Jetrel
Learning Curve
Second Season

The 37s
Initiations
Projections
Elogium
Non Sequitur
Twisted
Parturition
Persistence of Vision
Maneuvers
Cold Fire
Tattoo
Resistance
Prototype
Alliances
Threshold
Meld
Dreadnought
Death Wish
Lifesigns
Investigations
Deadlock
Innocence
The Thaw
Tuvix
Resolutions
Basics, Part I
Third Season

Basics, Part II
Flashback
The Chute
The Swarm
False Profits
Remember
Sacred Ground
Future's End, Part I
Future's End, Part Ii
Warlord
The Q and the Grey
Macrocosm
Fair Trade
Alter Ego
Coda
Blood Fever
Unity
Darkling
Rise
Fortunate Son
Before and After
Real Life
Distant Origin
Worst Case Scenario
Displaced
Scorpion, Part I
Fourth Season

Scorpion, Part II
The Gift
Day of Honor
Nemesis
Revulsion
The Raven
Scientific Methodd
Year of Hell, Part Ii
Year of Hell, Part II
Random Thoughts
Concerning Flight
Mortal Coil
Waking Moments
Message in a Bottle
Hunters
Prey
Retrospect
The Killing Game, Parts I/II
Vis a Vis
The Omega Directive
Unforgettable
Living Witness
Demons
One
Hope and Fear
Fifth Season

Night
Drone
Extreme Risk
In the Flesh
Once Upon a Time
Timeless
Infinite Regress
Nothing Human
Thirty Days
Counterpoint
Latent Image
Bride of Chaotica
Gravity
Bliss
Dark Frontier
The Disease
Course: Oblivion
The Fight
Think Tank
Juggernaut
Someone to Watch Over Me
11:59
Relativity
Warhead
Equinox, Part I
Sixth Season

Equinox, Part II
Survival Instinct
Barge of the Dead
Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy
Alice
Riddles
Dragon's Teeth
One Small Step
The Voyager Conspiracy
Pathfinder
Fair Haven
Blink of an Eye
Virtuoso
Memorial
Tsunkatse
Collective
Spirit Folk
Ashes to Ashes
Child's Play
Good Shepherd
Live Fast and Prosper
Muse
Fury
Lifeline
The Haunting of Deck Twelve
Unimatrix Zero, Part I
Seventh Season

Unimatrix Zero, Part II
Imperfection
Drive
Repression
Critical Care
Inside Man
Body and Soul
Nightingale
Flesh and Blood
Shattered
Lineage
Repentance
Prophecy
The Void
Workforce, Part I
Workforce, Part II
Human Error
Q2
Author, Author
Friendship One
Natural Law
Homestead
Renaisance Man
Endgame