Many Happy Returns: a seven-minute mini-episode laying the groundwork for Sherlock's "resurrection".
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Monday, 30 December 2013
With my review of this year's Christmas special, The Time Of The Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor's time in the TARDIS comes to a close and it's also time to tally up my unscientific, knee-jerk Enjoyment Ratings Average (ERA).
This is simply a score out of five, subjectively measuring my enjoyment of each story as I review it.
To put this ERA score into some sort of (meaningless) perspective this is how Eleven (with his ERA of 3.51) ranks against other Doctors whose televised adventures I've finished:
- Five - ERA 3.4
- Six - ERA 3.32
- Seven - ERA 3.08
- Eight - ERA 2.5
- Nine - ERA 3.65
- Ten - ERA 4.08
Sunday, 29 December 2013
|Personality Clash: Jason vs Heptarian|
First things first: the concluding episode of the Atlantis season finale, Touched By The Gods, is the first episode to come even vaguely close to the promise tantalising dangled before us in the pilot episode, The Earth Bull.
I'm not saying it was great, but it was certainly a cut above the majority of this season of barrel-scraping awfulness.
While it still suffered from many of the same symptoms as previous episodes (dull, two-dimensional lead character; bulk of the action taking place in the dark or the same small patch of woodland; epic amounts of padding; the predominance of a drab, brown colour palette etc), writer Howard Overman actually managed to surprise me with a twist I did not see coming when the subject of Jason's heritage was tackled.
It is, of course, slightly ironic - but in a Greek tragedy kind of way - that it was Jason's quest for his father that brought him to Atlantis and while he hasn't once mentioned it in subsequent episodes he actually met his father - as played by the fantastic John Hannah - in Touched By The Gods (part two) but just didn't realise it.
Following the events in Touched By The Gods (part one), Ariadne was sentenced to be cooked alive in the "Brazen Bull" by her wicked step-mother Pasiphae - but Jason and co aim to bust her out and flee to a leper colony at the suggestion of the Oracle (little realising, of course, that the leader of the leper colony is, in truth, Jason's long lost - and forgotten - father).
The rescue goes remarkably well and our heroes make it to the colony before they are tracked down by Pasiphae and Heptarian.
Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, the Oracle and her high priest discover Pasiphae's scheme to poison the king and set about reversing the damage she has done.
If all this season's episodes has been as good as this, I might have been inclined to give Atlantis a second look, but Touched By The Gods (part two) - even with its unexpected revelation - was an exception, rather than the rule, in a programme that regularly hit new levels of low for a genre show.
To turn things around, as happened in Merlin between the first and second seasons, would require a near-total overhaul of the whole framework of the show: a new lead actor, better plots and scripts, massive amounts of character development (just what exactly does the character of Pythagoras add to this show?), more interesting and colourful scenery and costumes, an upgrading of the special effects (so we can see monsters in the daylight, for instance), a rethink of the backstory etc
I was genuinely shocked to learn that Atlantis had somehow earned itself a second season, but I can't see it getting a third unless it addresses the major flaws at the heart of the show.
What a cast: Heroes' Greg Grunberg, Buffy's Clare Kramer and Twin Peaks' Ray Wise.
Big Ass Spider was released on Blu-Ray and DVD just before Christmas in the UK. I hope to pick it up in the New Year as it looks like a great contender for a "film night" when Paul next drops round.
Saturday, 28 December 2013
Thank you, Steven Moffat. Thank you for hammering the last nail in the coffin of my waning interest in Doctor Who.
The disillusionment that began with the appalling The Beast Below has now plunged to an all-time nadir, but I'm okay with that. My anger and disappointment with the direction the show was taking under the stewardship of Mr Moffat has long since evaporated and I just don't care any more. It's just a TV show. And not a very good one at that.
The Time Of The Doctor was a lot of smoke and mirrors covering up for the fact that very little actually happened in this Christmas special - except for a lot of sitting/standing around.
Moffat clearly had his list of dangling plot threads ("Who blew up the TARDIS?" "Oh, that was so-and-so." Tick, Next...) and, at least, the issue of The Doctor reaching the end of his regenerations was addressed - and quickly circumvented by the Time Lords belching out some magic pixie dust through the dimensional crack that gave The Doctor a whole new cycle of lives (if it's that easy a problem to solve, why is it even an issue for the Time Lords in the first place?).
We were introduced to another of The Doctor's girlfriends, Tasha Lem (Orla Brady), because he is really a salty seadog with a girl in every port, and saw the return of the worst Doctor Who monsters, since the Abzorbaloff - The Silence, who have now been reduced to simply creatures that shoot lightning from their fingers.
The whole story of The Doctor staying in the town of Christmas (oh, give me a break!) was, of course, nonsense - couldn't he have come up with a "great scheme" a bit quicker? It was almost The Power Of Three all over again. Just with more daleks and cybermen (who really could have been any aliens besieging the planet).
The Time Of The Doctor kicked off with an awkward visual gag about nudity that looked as though it was supposed to be a running joke, but then fizzled out, and poor Clara did absolutely nothing through the whole story (except plead to the Time Lords to give the Doctor some new regenerations) so that even while he was going through his regeneration, all she could do was stand around and look slightly embarrassed.
Episode time was wasted on introducing us to Clara's family - and the whole fandango about cooking a turkey - who added nothing to the story. Given how much of the episode was The Doctor just sitting/standing around, this piece could have been cut drastically and still focussed on The Doctor's transition from one face to another.
And what's with using his "regeneration energy" to shoot down a dalek warship? Has The Doctor been weaponised? What happens at his next regeneration - does he blow a planet up?
The actual transformation into Peter Capaldi's Doctor was quite half-arsed and it looks as if those of us hoping for a less Moffat-y Doctor for Number 12 are going to be sadly disappointed.
But I don't care.
If you want more erudite opinions, from true fans, of Doctor Who from now on you'd be better off following Siskoid's Blog Of Geekery or The Wit And Weirdness Of Al Bruno III.
At the start of the year I made a promise to myself that I would stick with this show until at least The 50th Anniversary - and that was a glorious triumph of style over content - but now I've got plenty of other fandoms to keep me occupied.
Given my recently rekindled affection for all things Scooby-Doo, what better time to remind you of this oldie-but-goodie: the members of Mystery Incorporated as Call Of Cthulhu characters.
All the more apt now that a certain professor HP Hatecraft has made a couple of appearances in the new show, along with a familiar looking monster...
Friday, 27 December 2013
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Twin Peaks Illustrated from Martin Woutisseth on Vimeo.
If you are a Twin Peaks fan with four-and-half-minutes on your hands, listen to Agent Cooper and give yourself a present: watch this beautiful, animated tribute to the show.
To find out more about the short film, visit the show's superlative fan site: Welcome To Twin Peaks.
If you are a Twin Peaks fan with four-and-half-minutes on your hands, listen to Agent Cooper and give yourself a present: watch this beautiful, animated tribute to the show.
To find out more about the short film, visit the show's superlative fan site: Welcome To Twin Peaks.
"Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee."
- Agent Dale Cooper
Based on a story from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Greater Good is a stunning 17-minute fan film set in the Potterverse almost a hundred years before the events of The Philosopher's Stone.
Written, directed and edited by Justin Zagri, it builds to a climactic magical duel between Gellert Grindelwald (Josh Brodis), a dark and dangerous wizard, second only to Voldemort, and Albus (Christopher James Cramer), Aberforth (Colin Goodridge), and Ariana Dumbledore (Kari Swanson).
Major kudos have to go to Jake Akuna and Amy Carpenter for the visual effects.
This film was brought to my attention by Timothy Brannan of The Other Side, where he quite rightly says to gamers: "Watch it and make the next magical battle between wizards you have this cool."
Wednesday, 25 December 2013
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Here's our 2013 Christmas greeting video (filmed at the Reindeer Centre on my birthday) that we sent out in lieu of Christmas cards this year, with the money we saved going to buy food for the local food banks.
Many moons ago, when I lived in a flat above an undertakers, I had a framed picture of The Addams Family (see below) on a corner unit. One day a visiting girlfriend - who wasn't exactly up on geek culture - asked (seriously) if that was a picture of my family. I told her it was and didn't say anything further to dissuade her from that idea. True story.
Monday, 23 December 2013
Bohemian Rhapsody - Star Wars Edition performed by the Star Wars cosplayers of the Arizona geek community.
Produced by the students and faculty of the Digital Video Program at University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona.
Star Wars Edition lyrics by Stephen Panagiotis, Jamall Richards and Paul DeNigris; vocals by Adam Newton; vocals produced by Joey Sawhill & Adam Newton; engineered and mixed by Joey Sawhill.
Sunday, 22 December 2013
Saturday, 21 December 2013
|Lucy Cohu as Circe|
Circe pops up to call in Jason's debt to her (from back in Song Of The Sirens) - she gives him three days to slay the queen, her sister, or she will kill Jason and his friends.
Our heroic trio cobble together a scheme to break into the palace - which seems remarkably easy to do - but then at the last moment Jason bottles out of killing Pasiphae.
While Hercules and Pythagoras slip out through a rubbish chute (it's so large and obvious from outside the palace, why didn't they - or countless other would-be assassins, kidnappers, burglars - think of getting in that way?), Jason ends up hiding in Princess Ariadne's room.
Before this though he gets shot in the leg - at almost point-blank range - by an archer and then cleverly evades the guard - who was looking right at him - by stepping round a corner!!!!
Eventually the next morning Jason - having spent a chaste night in Ariadne's bed - escapes the palace and, having checked in with Hercules and Pythagoras, decides to head off to confront Circe who, admittedly, pulls out some pretty decent magical powers before being killed off way too quickly. She even manages a post-death Hail Mary trick with the old dragon's teeth and raises a trio of animated skeletons to fight Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras.
Once again I have to ask why all the CGI monsters need to shrouded in darkness? Can't Jason and his sidekicks fight monsters in daylight?
Just when they think everything is coming up roses, our heroes learn that Pasiphae has charged Ariadne with treason - for harbouring an assassin - and snetenced her to death.
One of the major problems with Atlantis is a conflict has been engineered between Jason and Pasiphae, but we have no reason to care. Poor Sarah Parish has been given such a one-dimensional, cackling, pantomime villain to play that Pasiphae doesn't even feel like a real person.
But then again, I suppose Jason is equally one-dimensional. And a total drip, to boot.
Bumping off Circe was also a bad move. Not only was she actually an interesting villain, but it was made to look so easy that, as with the other challenges our heroes face in this episode, you have to wonder why Jason hadn't just done this before and saved everyone a lot of aggravation.
Admittedly he does - albeit briefly - appear to call on his "god-given powers" (a bit of CGI wire-fu), but it still doesn't explain why he hadn't killed her sometime after their first encounter?
Remember way back in the first episode that Jason's whole reason for ending up in Atlantis was his quest to find his lost father? That motivation he has NEVER once mentioned or acted upon since. Well, it appears - according to the trailer for the season finale - that his dad, played by John Hannah no less, pops up just in the nick of time. That's nice, isn't it?
It still beggars belief that this drivel comes from the minds that created Merlin and Misfits. Now I know I was rude about the first season of Merlin, but it was never as bad as this. To be honest, I can't think of anything I've stuck with that has been as bad as this.
Only one more episode though and it will be out of my misery. I can't see myself returning for the second season. I can't believe the BBC even commissioned a second series of this. Our licence fee being put to good use!
I'm not sure if I've had a "favourite shop" in Tunbridge Wells since Ballards (the family-run model and train shop) closed, but since visiting the TW Comic Café today I definitely have one now.
As the picture above shows, I was in geek heaven. The shop is jam-packed with Marvel and DC merchandise, alongside Star Wars, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and Breaking Bad.
|One of the shop's own photograph's from its Facebook page|
Among the delights available, at very reasonable prices, are top notch, licensed, posters and prints in a variety of styles, mugs, wallets, note books, folders, bottle openers, aprons, badges etc
There were also a few graphic novels for sale, but the focus appears to be on the pop art merchandise - and Tunbridge Wells is known for its artistic sensibilities.
For those coming to Tunbridge Wells, the shop is at 126 Camden Road, almost next door to the Camden Road Car Park (which is useful if you're buying a large print and don't fancy carrying it home through town!).
Despite the wind and rain, while we were in the store there was a steady turnover of customers - all expressing their amazement at the artwork on display.
It's a shame we're so short of wall space these days as even Rachel said there were a couple of prints there (particularly the art nouveau Iron Man, you can just see it in the picture above) that she'd allow to be hung outside of the confines of my gamesroom. I was particularly taken with the pictures made up of multiple comic book panels.
Although let's be honest I loved every single thing that was for sale in that shop and would happily fill our house with it all!
While the quantities of shiny goodness and choice rather overloaded my poor little brain (as Rachel can vouch I'm not very good at making decisions when there's a lot of choice on offer), I came away with a Superman mug (to replace the one I broke the other month), a vintage Marvel ring binder and notebook, and a complimentary badge.
A return trip, after Christmas, is guaranteed.
Darius is a Jedi on the run, maybe even the last of his order which was reduced to nothing by what we now call the Empire. Like everything which is rare, he's tracked relentlessly. By the Rebels who send their best agents to bring him on their side, by the Emperor and his numerous clone troops, by a mysterious bounty hunter, and by a powerful Sith warrior. When Darius resurfaces, all of these forces with opposite interests surround him and clash violently...
Versus: The Way To Shadow is a non-profit fan film based on Star Wars universe (don't forget to turn the subtitles on if you don't understand French!).
Friday, 20 December 2013
Based on one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, Stephen Chow's Journey To The West is a retelling of the misadventures of a Buddhist monk as he makes a pilgrimage from China to India.
Author Justin Halliday has produced a special PDF adventure for his hugely popular young person's RPG, Hero Kids, with a holiday theme.
Available from DriveThruRPG for $2.99, Yuletide Journey "takes place in the days before Rivenshore's annual midwinter Yuletide feast. But the village has not heard from their festival's annual guest, Odin, who is the protector of the Brecken Vale. The kids set out on a journey to Odin's home in the northern mountains, and along the way they meet new friends, overcome dangerous challenges, and face fearsome enemies."
The 23-page PDF contains:
• Adventure with six encounters and two new maps
• Two new elf heroes; Woodswalker and Druid
• A new monster, the Ettin Brute, as well as the Dire Wolf and Wolf
Just in time for Christmas, Cubicle 7 has released three original adventures for their Doctor Who: Adventures In Time & Space RPG.
Cats Eye and Medicine Man are designed to be played in a single session, while The Ravens Of Despair is more of an add-on to your campaign as it includes full rules and background for the deadly Ravens of Despair, as well as loads of plot hooks and story ideas for pitting your own time travellers against their machinations.
Those who subscribed to the multi-Doctor sourcebooks earlier this year will have already received these as part of that package, otherwise they can be purchased from RPGNow.com for a very reasonable £1.82 ($2.99) each.
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