This Week in Geek (11-17/03/13)


Got a pile of DVDs this week, including the complete Batman Beyond (the only Bruce Timm series I've never seen), all 5 Karate Kids (for a future Kung Fu Friday marathon), The Master, Life of Pi, Exotica, Ripper Street Season 1, and two new Doctor Who Special Editions, The Ark in Space and The Aztecs (on which you will find the newly found Galaxy 4 episode!).


DVDs: Octopussy is the one with the Faberge eggs. Also, the one with that title. Also, the first complete Bond I ever saw. To me, it's a crystallization of the Roger Moore Bond formula, with a return to jokeyness and an approach that values set pieces over actual plot. There's a pretty aimless hour in the center of the film where Bond goes to India to meet his leading lady, who doesn't really get to do much except try to out-Galore Pussy Galore (complete with uniformed Amazons). With the amount of screen time Maud Adams gets, it's difficult to justify her character getting the title. The final set piece, featuring awesome stunt work on the fuselage of a flying plane is largely anti-climax with the real villain already defeated and dead. An Octopus cult? A Circus of Crime? Octopussy sort of wastes these high concept ideas too. And yet, as a collection of set pieces, it's fun and dynamically shot. Roger Moore and director John Glen each get a commentary track in the DVD version of the Bond50 set, which is fine, if not as informative as the Fleming Institute assemblies on other releases.

As in the real New Orleans in the era pictured, Treme Season 2 is beset by a rising crime rate, and I'm afraid that means your favorite characters may not be safe. It's not just random violence, but corruption too, and in both cases, I was surprised to discover (from the commentary tracks) non-actors bravely reliving events from their own lives, blurring the line between fiction and documentary (in the best Wire fashion). I like where the characters' personal journeys are taking them (especially Antoine's hilarious attempts at running his own band), but was all juiced to see David Morse's character graduate to main character status. He's awesome. Great music too, that goes without saying. Took me half of Season 1 to get used to the show's rhythm, but by this point, it wasn't even an issue. The commentaries from cast and crew are pretty interesting and I've become passed master at fast-forwarding the "music commentaries" on which experts only come on during performances. The other extras include featurettes on New Orleans food and the Mardi Gras Indians, and a Q&A about the use of culture in Treme.

Audios: Simon Guerrier is quickly proving to be Big Finish's MVP on the Companion Chronicles. After the beautiful Sara Kingdom trilogy, he brings the same beautifully-crafted prose and sensitivity to another 1st Doctor arc, introducing a new companion that would have traveled with the Doctor and Steven after The Daleks' Master Plan. Oliver Harper, voiced by Tom Allen, is a 60s stock broker type with a secret, and in The Perpetual Bond, he meets proper narrator Steven and the Doctor in a story about aliens infiltrating the global market. But what are they buying and selling...? Guerrier certainly brings modern sensibilities to the first Doctor's era, as this story might seem more topical today than in the 60s, and more overtly political. It makes a great introduction to the new companion and Steven's narration is very strong.

The story continues in The Cold Equations, a story that does at least three things admirably. First, Oliver's secret crime is well-handled; I won't say more so as not to blow the surprise for would-be listeners. Second, Steven is allowed to be an astronaut for the first time EVER, with Guerrier using his considerable talent with narrative prose to bring - swear to God - the math and physics of space travel to life. And third, there's special attention paid to the fact Steven had just lost three tentative companions in The Daleks' Master Plan, so the disaster movie (in SPACE!) set-up makes him think all the Doctor' companions are living on borrowed time. I tell you, I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Guerrier's all the time.

Zines: Got the new issue of Canada's premiere Doctor Who fanzine, #169 of Enlightenment, which features my first contribution to the publication, a review of Outside In, a collection of Doctor Who-related essays, one on each serial of the classic series, edited by Robert Smith? and published by ATB Publishing ( Short version: I really liked it. Long version: Why don't you get your Enlightenment subscription renewed and find out?

In other zine news, I finished reading issue #16 of the Diary of the Doctor Who RPGs, labeled as another Gazeteer issue because of its various planetary profiles + adventure seeds section. I frequently find these evocative and inspirational, and the art, poached from various sources, is quite nice. The issue also includes a few complete adventure modules, like a long 80s scenario about the aerobics craze, a trek through an icy maze, and an underwater adventure (with an erroneous date, I'm guessing, but otherwise quite interesting). Also this ish, a kinda cool Doctor Who dominoes game for you to print and use; articles on player diversity, autistic spectrum disorder players, how to involve players in your games more fully, and building character arcs; a discussion on the DWAITAS initiative system; Time Lord stats for Katarina and Kamelion (but not Sara Kingdom, who should have been included according to the article's own criteria; and various reviews (miniatures, Timelink) and brief news pieces. This issue is also where Siskoid's Blog of Geekery first crossed paths with the Diary. Not only is there an article that recommends some relevant blogs, mine included, but there's a big one that develops a cheap little article I wrote about Doctor Who showing up in other RPGs. Needless to say, the Diary goes into a lot more detail than I did. Overall, a fun issue with a lot of material any GM could use, as well as features that are just a fun and/or informative read.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Act IV, Scenes 1-3 - Classics Illustrated

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Guy Gardner to Hawk and Dove.



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