This Week in Geek (13-19/08/12)

Buys

I don't play a lot of video games, but I enjoyed Saints Row the Third enough to get a SR1 and 2 combo for less than 30 bucks. Let's see how it all started. Not yet ready to launch a Manga section on my Hamlet blog, but added the Sexton/Pantoja adaptation to the Vieceli one I got the other week. DVDs? Summer buys continued with Archer Season 2, Brave and the Bold Season 3, Community Season 3, Doctor Who's Spearhead from Space Special Edition (see below) and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, and to bolster my Kung Fu Fridays collection, Battle Wizard, Warriors of the Rainbow, The Front Line, Sector 7, and Battle Royale.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Catching up on some TV DVDs this week, I started by flipping Batman: Brave and the Bold Season 1 Part 2, with 13 more episodes of the most awesome team-up cartoon of all time (even if they were a dime a dozen). It's the craziness that gets me where it counts. For example, there's an episode where Batman goes back to the Victorian age and teams up with both the Demon and Sherlock Holmes that serves as the origin of the Gentleman Ghost (and somehow, there's still room for Jay Garrick, the Scarecrow and Crazy Quilt). Another episode puts OMAC in the present day much better than DC Comics did, and yet another has Gorilla Grodd go to the future to lead the apes against the tigers in Kamandi's America. AND there's a musical episode that features Neil Patrick Harris as YET ANOTHER singing supervillain. I missed them all on original broadcast, so though I already lament the show's passing, it's great that I have 3 more DVDs like this to get through.

Due South's second season starts on a misstep, an episode in the woods where the premise is largely ignored and Fraser is concussed and not himself, and it seems to take a handful of episodes to get back on track. Fraser's a bit too hyperactive and the strong use of songs from the first season is absent. But things get better soon enough, with the friendship between Fraser and Ray still the heartwarming focus. A couple of female recurring characters are added this season to spice things up, with terrible talk show host Camilla Scott actually rather compelling as Fraser's hard-nosed but steamy superior. And a lot of characters from the first season return, both heroes and villains, while new ones are introduced, including Colm Feore as a Moriarty type. The highlight for me though is "All the Queen's Horses", which features my new favorite song (sung by the Mounties) "Ride Forever", some cool train action, and Leslie Nielson to boot.

If you want to know what I thought of Spearhead from Space, you need only go back a few days for my daily reviews, but I wish the Special Edition had been released in time for them. Wow. I was expecting better extras, since the original Spearhead DVD was one of the first releases and comes short in that respect, but I wasn't expecting the technical quality of the episodes themselves to be better. There's a MARKED improvement in sharpness, color and sound. The original DVD was also missing subtitles, which this one has. The few extras on the original release are all here (photo gallery, trivia text track, a very nice commentary by Nick Courtney and Caroline John, a UNIT primer presented as a recruitment video, and an Easter Egg showing an opening titles test), so you can basically throw that one away. In addition, you get a making of documentary that's cleverly presented and talks about the changes the show underwent between Troughton's last and Pertwee's first, and another documentary that discussed the advent of color TV at the BBC, and its effect on Doctor Who. The new, second commentary track is a bit of a disappointment, however, as producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrance Dicks' memories falter. It's full of repetition, misattributions and errors. The previous track with the actors is still the better one.

The Supreme Swordsman is a late-era (1984) Shaw Brothers sword epic very much in the style of The Bastard Swordsman, though perhaps not as extreme. It's the story of a villainous swordsman who kills other and steals their swords for his collection. The hero is the son of a father murdered for his sword, who must survive various trials before being ready to fight the villain. Sounds pretty typical. And then the wall of swords fights by itself. And the hero enters the underworld and fights skull-faced ghost ninjas and flying coffins. And he's trained by a comedy trio of grandpas. Shaw productions went to the magical end of things in the mid-80s and it makes for some awesome crazy martial arts films. Shame about director Li Pai-ling's habit of speeding up certain fights. They look as well choreographed as the others, so why make them look like Benny Hill sketches?

Fanzines: Read the 4th issue of the Diary of the Doctor Who Role-Playing Games (Nov.2010), an issue devoted to "modules" (adventure scenarios) that actually includes a 2-page adventure for each Doctor. These are a mixed bag, mostly because they don't always match their Doctor's era, nor do they seem particularly well suited to the TV characters' skill sets. The first Doctor vs. zombies? However, they seem to get better you proceed through the regenerations, and the 9th Doc adventure doesn't forget to lay in a Bad Wolf reference, for example. There's also a bonus adventure that puts the 7th Doctor and Ace at Degrassi High, a crossover that's actually pretty amusing for fans of both shows. The GMing tips on how to structure scenarios is good, and the issue also includes reviews (Aliens and Creatures, Chicks Dig Time Lord, the awful Games Workshop board game), a convention report (Mad Con 2010), more player etiquette advice, and various entertaining fluff pieces. You can get the PDF here.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.iii. The Confessional - BBC '80

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"All the Queen's Horses" is the first episode Paul Gross wrote. From the third season on, Paul Gross is basically in control of the entire show, which is good in some regards and bad in others. There were a number of factors why "Due South" lasted only four seasons, but probably the one that sealed it was Paul Gross's sheer exhaustion. And yet he looks so good in every shot.

Gordon Pinsent will be in every episode starting with the third season; almost certainly that was a Paul Gross call and it was a very good one.

Siskoid said...

Paul Gross is a quadruple threat if there has ever been one.

Pinsent is great as his ghost dad, and I do love those "magical" touches in the show. It seems Gross is meant to talk to ghost in every tv show he's involved with...

Anonymous said...

For some reason I'm not in charge of TV, but if I were, I would definitely do a "Due South" / "Twin Peaks" crossover. It would consist of about 30 seconds of evil "BOB" getting his ass kicked by ghost Sgt Fraser, and for the rest of the hour, Agent Cooper would be feeding pie to Diefenbaker with a fork. "Diane, you'll never guess whom I'm having lunch with ..."

This is my way of saying that I adore Gordon Pinsent, from "Due South" to his role on "Red Green" and even this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih-2O_gdYZo

Siskoid said...

Haha, I think you might like tomorrow's post.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, a tribute to "Blacula"? Gordon Pinsent was in that too ...

Siskoid said...

Better not guess, you'll be disappointed.

Austin Gorton said...

I wish WB was better about putting their stuff on Neflix. I'm dying to check out both Young Justice and Brave and the Bold. I'll just have to keep checking for good deals...

 

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