This Week in Geek (21-27/06/10)

Buys

I'm a huge fan of director Wong Kar-Wai, but I noticed I didn't have all his commercially available films yet. I corrected part of that problem this week by getting Ashes of Time Redux (which actually fits into Kung Fu Fridays) and his American picture, The Blueberry Nights. Speaking of KFF, threw Jackie Chan's Crime Story on the pile as well (I am damn close to having a complete Dragon Dynasty collection).

And on a completely different front, I joined the Doctor Who Information Network, a fancy way of saying I subscribed to the Enlightenment fanzine. I do so based on the strength of the batch of back issues I bought, and at the same time as the release of the first 11th Doctor issue AND the departure of editor Graeme Burke. This is fitting in more ways than one, because while I bow to Burke's commitment (almost 10 years as editor), I can't say we agree on very many things! New editor Cameron Dixon, from the few of his reviews I read, has a soul more compatible with mine. Good luck, Cameron!

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Flipped Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5, bringing me full circle with the show. I still love the ending, and I found myself sobbing even watching through commentary tracks (Ron Moore himself breaks down in one of them, so no moral support there). Geez, I found myself affected by deleted scenes! A great achievement in television, and while I would probably enjoy giving BSG the same daily treatment I gave Star Trek (would only need to track down DVDs of the classic series), I would be afraid to spoil it for potential new viewers. And I don't want to do that. This final DVD boxed set has commentaries on all the episodes and extended episodes (only skip Olmos' unless you like long silences broken up by thanks to cast and crew), lots of deleted material, those fun video blogs, and featurettes on top (finally there's a 20-minute feature on the music, which I've craved since the pastiche on 4.0).

I then watched The Plan, the BSG movie that takes us back to Seasons 1 and 2 to show the Cylon point of view and explain some of the loose ends from those seasons. That's the weakest part of the experience, really, because such things didn't really need an explanation (and still leaves mysteries anyway). On a plot level, it's rather anti-climatic after the finale, but you can't really watch it before then as it definitely spoils the surprises of Season 4. But the more I think about it, the more I like The Plan. Like much of Battlestar, it's not about the plot, it's about the characters. And the film explains just how personal the Cylons' genocide of the human race was, by exploring one's journey. And seeing some of the other colonies get destroyed is beautiful, beautiful eye candy. The DVD includes a commentary, though this time they've partnered director Edward James Olmos with the writer who does most of the talking, substantive deleted scenes, and some fairly good behind the scenes featurettes (especially the one about how the visual effects are as improvised as the writing, direction and acting on this show).

Battle of the Warriors, AKA A Battle of Wits, was our Kung Fu Fridays selection this week. It stars Andy Lau as a Mozi warrior in the 4th century BC who though he preaches a message of peace, must help a town under siege fight off its attackers. I've seen a number of Chinese period epics, which either focus on the fights or some court tragedy. This one is special, as Lau's Ge Li (apparently a historical character, though the film is more strictly based on a Japanese manga) uses strategy to beat the superior foe. I hope my role-playing game buddies were paying attention. There are some great tactics in there, and the story's strong too (and not without the tragedy that imbues so many Chinese films). The DVD features Bey Logan's usual expert commentary and an uneven 50-minute making of documentary.

Books: Dove back into the New Series Doctor Who books this week, and managed to read two featuring the Doctor and Donna (who really gets shorted in the range, with 4 novels to every other companions' 12). Ghosts of India by Mark Morris brings the characters to 1947 India to meet Gandhi. As he showed in Forever Autumn, Morris has a knack for turning in books that read like the television episodes - slightly derivative but consistent. The regulars are a bit one-note for me - bitchy Donna and ADD Doctor - but he does a great Gandhi and brings in interesting friends and foes. The touching final scene is perhaps worth the price of admission.



Simon Messingham's The Doctor Trap is a kooky, crazy story I'd classify in the same vein as Love & Monsters, in which Sebastiene, the ruler of Planet 1, holds a hunt for the Doctor. If you thought L&M's commentary about fandom hit the nail a bit too hard on the head, you'll find this book sends it right through the wall. Both the humor and the jeopardy do work, however, and the book is full of surprises. Amidst the plot on overdrive, Messingham still finds a way to craft strong character scenes, especially for Donna, that could have fit the RTD era very well. Are the New Series books getting stronger?




RPGs: Played the penultimate episode of our Doctor Who game tonight, one that took place in the last days of the Time War, as a random accident sent the characters off course and into that impossible realm. I was so starved to know what really happened that I included a full package. Rassilon is brought back and President Romana deposed. The Doctor goes Bad Wolf and regenerates, but not before explaining himself to Susan. And the PCs responsible for sending Dalek Caan injured into the vortex, to lose his mind. Plus more subtle revelations about the season arc. We'll see if the players were paying attention for the finale next week. (And the pressure is definitely on, what with The Big Bang being the best thing ever.)

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 4 - Tennant (2009)
Act I Scene 4 - Classics Illustrated
Act I Scene 4 - French Rock Opera
Other Hamlets: Theatre of War by Justin Richards

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