This Week in Geek (2-8/08/10)


Got 2 DVDs this week, representing Season 1 to 3 of The Guild. More on that below. Don't let me keep you.


DVDs: On the DVD front, it's really been strong for women. I first flipped Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2, which took a turn for the more intense midway through. I feel pathetic saying this, but evil Angel gave me nightmares. Of course, it could well have been extra-strength indigestion and the knowledge I was going back to work after a month's vacation, but it was all about the Buffyverse as far as content goes. Anyway, I'm well hooked by now. The DVD contains a commentary track on 4 of the 22 episodes, and anecdotes on a smattering of others. The real stars of the release are the surprisingly in-depth featurettes on art, monster and make-up design. They talk to a lot of people in these, even one-shot guest-stars (like John Ritter), which makes the absence of Geller and Hannigan somewhat disappointing despite the quality of what's there. Galleries and trailers round things out.

Kung Fu Friday's cheesy 80s selection was Royal Warriors AKA In the Line of Duty, a sequel to Yes, Madam! and vehicle for Michelle Yeoh. They're really trying to market her as the female Jackie Chan here, as this could have been another Police Story script, complete with shattering glass, lots of stunts, imaginative fight scenes, a point where she's kicked off the force, and a huge explosion at the end. The plot about criminals with a vendetta against the cops that killed some of their own stands up to scrutiny, and the baddies are easy to hate. Could have done without the awful 80s music (all 80s films in contemporary settings should be retracked as a matter of course) and sympathetic stalker subplot, but still, solid and fun action. No extras of note on this sucker.

I also flipped The Guild Seasons 1 and 2, and with episodes that range between 3 and 8 minutes, that's not as crazy an achievement as it might first seem. Felicia Day's little web series benefits from the DVD format by virtue of tons of extras, such as 2 commentary tracks on each Season, well-produced conversations with the cast, crew and extras, plenty of outtakes, audition tapes and more. I didn't know a thing about this series, except through Dr. Horrible, so it was a surprise to me that it was about World of Warcraft players. It transcends that, however, and becomes a fun comedy about the online addiction experience, however it manifests. Give it a try. (Note about the DVD: It's better to click on separate episodes rather than the "play all", as the latter gives you the full story, but awkwardly jumps over credit sequences, creating an odd freeze-frame effect.)

Books: The ladies in Terrance Dicks' Blood Harvest are Ace, Bernice and Romana. Part sequel to both State of Decay and The Five Doctors, part pseudo-historical set in Prohibition era Chicago, this Doctor Who New Adventure seems to promise vampire gangsters, but doesn't really deliver on that. Not to say it isn't fun anyway, with great atmosphere (such as the Chandleresque narration by private dick Dekker in places) and a certain humor (Dicks has to wit to make fun of himself and his Target books work). So while things don't come quite together, the plots being connected only by the thinnest thread, and the big bad gets pwned all too easily, the parts are more than the whole. (Man, for someone who thinks vampires are extra-lame and is really sick of that particular fad, I've absorbed a heck of a lot of vampire fiction lately.)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled boys' club:

RPGs: This week's session of Savage Worlds/Evernight finally set in place the status quo for the rest of the campaign as the PCs become a cell in the Resistance against the Masters. We spent half the session on building relationships with NPCs, and I'll get to pay those off in the coming weeks (it's my favorite part of role-playing), and the other half on the weekly quest. A simple affair, it ended in a longish fight, long because the noobs hadn't played enough fantasy to realize trolls tend to regenerate. Funny to me and the more classically experienced player (hi Fern!). Probably wouldn't have seemed so long if we'd started the game earlier, but it was the tail end of camping trip for one of the boys.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 20 new cards, almost all from The Doctor's Daughter (yay! Jenny!) completing my Song for Ten set. There's even a virtual booster pack you can click!

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
I.v. Swearing Oaths - Branagh '96


tonewaugh said...

That Guild freeze-frame effect after the webcams only happens on some DVD players. Netflix Instant Play (streaming) is totally smooth, and has no option except to see the season as a whole (at least for some seasons, I think).

I actually prefer the little break between the webcam and the show, not just to avoid the choppy freeze frame (which on some players even may cut off a tiny bit of the webcam) but also because it makes a nice dramatic punctuation after the webcam comedy, so I too end up watching the episodes one at a time. And I like seeing the closing credits, since they do vary from episode to episode; if you do "play all" you only see the credits from the final episode of the season. And in season 2, you don't even hear the Guild theme over the closing credits - you hear more of the Main Drag's song "Love During Wartime" that the season ends with. So "play all" is kind of imperfect.

I'd like to see an alternative "play all" that includes all the opening themes and closing credit sequences - so it would simply avoid returning to the main menu - but I don't think that'll ever happen for future seasons. The Guild specifically likes "play all" to give it a movie feel and eliminate all those credits, so I guess my feeling is in the minority.

Austin Gorton said...

Glad to hear you're digging Buffy. Midway through season two is when it really kicks into gear, and as good as the remainder of that season is, there's some great stuff ahead!


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