This Week in Geek (15-21/08/11)


The geeky things I have bought this week amount to two Doctor Who DVDs - The Sun Makers and Paradise Towers - the first part of the second season of Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Grant Morrison's book, Supergods.


DVDs: After I watched the entirety of Buffy last year, I felt like taking a break, so those 5 seasons of Angel had to wait. This week, I took the plunge back into the Whedoniverse and I must admit to liking it. Angel has a feel close enough to Buffy to entertain, and far enough usually not to retread old ground. Every character imported from the mother show actually gets to thrive and expand, and when Buffy shows up (to sell the show that first year, they chose to cross over a number of times), it drains their dynamic. I found myself resenting Buffy in her every appearance. Leave these guys alone! Even Cordelia has turned from high school bitch to the show's breath of fresh air. Who knew! Shame about the failed potential of Doyle, but Wesley completes the regular trio quite well. The first season DVD extras are put together not unlike Buffy's, with a couple of commentary tracks and some shot featurettes on the season, Angel, Cordelia and the demons faced the first year. Nothing to rave about, but nothing bad either.

The 14 Amazons is a 1972 Shaw Brothers' wuxia epic that puts to shame a lot of what the studio was grinding out by the end of that decade. Varied locations, model work, hundreds of extras, incredible set pieces (the human bridge is worth the price of admission alone)... It's a lavish production that only really shows its age in the slow pacing of the first half hour (they "enjoyed the longevity noodle" for a good while). The story, based on a collection of folk tales, is that of the female generals of the Yang Clan who, having lost their husbands, go on to win the war with the barbarian hordes as warriors themselves. though the action beats are strong (and violent), it has sympathetic, memorable characters to carry it off. Lisa Lu and Ivy Ling Po's performances are particularly affecting. The best Shaw Bros. film I've seen in a while, this DVD begs for extras, but Funimation's releases alas never feature any.

Books: In Elric Book 2, The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, Michael Moorcock does the very thing that made me give up on fantasy novels years ago. I got turned off by books that were essentially a collection of set pieces strung together on some kind of voyage or quest. After Book 1, I wasn't expecting him to slip into this format. Book 2 is in reality three short novellas, each with their setting, goal and accompanying characters. Moorcock does something interesting with the format though, which is to explore a different aspect of his multiverse in each. Part 1 introduces the Eternal Champion concept to Elric's reality, which is the weakest part of the book. It seems to come too early in his experience, and the threat is a surreal, Lovecraftian horror that doesn't yield many answers. Part 2 has Elric meet an ancestor of his, exploring his family history. Part 3, the most engaging because its story more firmly relates to Book 1 of the Saga, has Elric find the lost city from which Melnibonéans originated. Moorcock does offer variety and a measure of world-building, but still makes me impatient for the political machinations and more stable supporting cast of the previous volume.

Google+: I finally made the jump into social networking, but still remain wary of Facebook. I joined Google+ this week and the reason is simple - with the site's "circles", I can better manage who sees what. And it's more for your protection than mine. Geeks won't have to bear the stuff in French, and improv buddies and family won't have to endure the geek-related postings. So if you want to follow/hang with me in the geek circle of hell, follow this invitation link and be sure to tell me you want to be in the Geek Circle. There's a short message allowing you to in the public feed.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 6 new cards, all Dalek-themed.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.i. Briefings - Hamlet 2000


Kyle said...

Couldn't tell if you knew this or not from your review, but the Elric stories were not written in the chronological order they appear in the DAW paperbacks. I don't know the exact publication order, but I beleive the first stories Moorcock wrote about Elric don't start showing up till the 3rd or 4th DAW editions...

Siskoid said...

Yes I know. I've decided to read them as I own them, that is, as a 6-book "Saga" in chronological if not publishing order.

Toby'c said...

I'm curious as to why you didn't watch Buffy season 4 and Angel season 1 in sync to keep the crossover episodes in order. That's what I did (back when my video store didn't package full seasons together).

Siskoid said...

I bought Angel on the strength of Buffy, so it's possible I didn't have both series at the time. If I did, then I likely thought I'd NEVER finish it if I had to go back and forth like that. 12 seasons! Ouch!

Cradok said...

I have to say, the point I started to dislike Buffy as a character was in Sanctuary, when she hit Angel and Angel hit her back. The puppy-dog eyes and the mewling little 'you hit me' just disgusted me.

Siskoid said...

I think part of the genius of Buffy is that she is essentially unlikable and yet you cheer her on anyway. All the Buffyverse characters have qualities and flaws, which makes them all the more human (even the inhuman ones). Buffy is self-serving, whiny and bratty. But she's also brave, witty and loyal.

Austin Gorton said...

Glad to hear you're digging Angel so far. There are days where it takes very little arm-twisting to get me to admit that I prefer it, as a series, over Buffy.

Good point about Buffy as a character, too.


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