This Week in Geek (29/04-05/05/13)

"Accomplishments"

At the movies: The thing I most like about really smart Marvel superheroes - Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Tony Stark, Doc (cough) Ock - isn't really their powers. It's how freaking smart and resourceful they can be. And that's what makes Iron Man 3 such a brilliant entry in the Marvel movie canon. It's not so much an Iron Man movie as it is a Tony Stark movie, a Tony Stark pushed to the very edge of despair (with thankfully no time to breathe and think about a bottle) and bouncing back thanks to his considerable genius. Shane Black and director and co-written a movie that is funny, emotional and action-packed, with some very enjoyable twists for more than one member of Iron Man's rogues' gallery (coming to it spoiler-free, I was VERY entertained). It repackages the naturalistic Favreau banter of Iron Man, the crazy Tartakovsky action of Iron Man 2, and Whedon's "turn left" writing strategy from Marvel's Avengers, into the best possible amalgam of Tony's DNA. But they're not really going to make a fourth one, are they?

DVDs: In its fifth and final season, could Sliders survive losing the Malory/O'Connell brothers? As with Wade, the characters are written out in the most soul-crushing way in the opening episode (outgoing Sliders have just some of the most horrifying fates on television). In their stead, Quinn's fraternal double Malory and idealistic sliding scientist Diana. I now understand Tembi Locke's role on Eureka as an inside joke, and as for Robert Floyd, it's like he's a competition with various guest star to see who's the worst actor. It doesn't help that Malory is a right jackass I suppose. But that's not to say the season's bad. In fact, it's on par with the previous season which was a return to form, though its tone is generally darker to good effect. What seems to have happened on Sliders is that the annoying clown character of the first seasons becomes the heart of the series, so Rembrandt's our anchor. Given how departing characters were treated, just don't expect too much closure at the end. It's more of a Quantum Leap ending, I suppose, an attempt to force the network to give them an other season that simply backfired. As if knowing this set wouldn't sell with most of the original stars gone, there are no extras and the set is this close to looking like a bootleg.

The Shadow Whip is an early (1971) Shaw Bros. movie, which means it should have better production values. Shot almost entirely in the snowy mountains of Japan, it has a distinctive look, and a heroine who dresses like Mrs. Claus' younger sister. That's Cheng Pei-Pei as the niece of the famous Shadow Whip, a weapons master wanted for a murder he didn't commit and on the run from... well, almost everyone in the film. An upended revenge film, in a way. The action scenes are sometimes speeded up, which is either experimental or irritating, depending on your point of view, but when the whips come out, expect some fun gags overall. It's not as cinematic as a sword, but it looks a lot more painful at these superhuman levels. So a nice little wuxia that doesn't quite look like any other. The DVD includes a few picture galleries and loads of trailers for other films.

If you were reading last week, you already know what I think of Doctor Who's Nightmare of Eden (it's a mess), but the DVD extras at least acknowledge that fact. The commentary track with Lalla "Romana" Ward, Peter "Costa" Craze, writer Bob Baker, effects man Colin Mapson and makeup designer Joan Stribling, moderated by the always knowledgeable Toby Hadoke, has fun with it, even if the participants sometimes praise the very things I hate about it. The truth of it is that the serial was a nightmare behind the scenes as well, with very public rows between Tom Baker and director Alan Bromly, eventually necessitating the latter's dismissal as the producer completed the work. A making of tells the story (though Tom Baker is never interviewed about it). There's also a conversation with Bob Baker on working without his usual partner Dave Martin; a discussion of the story by humorists that could have been trite, but manages to tickle; Lalla Ward's appearance promoting the show on Ask Aspel; and the usual photo gallery and production notes. It's a fun package that takes the sting out of owning such a stinker. (Only Doctor Who would celebrate its turkeys so well.)

RPGs: Speaking of Doctor Who, finally launched the second "Season" of our Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space RPG with episode 1: The Tribe of Orb.
Whovians with a sharp eye will probably note the resemblance with one of the titles sometimes given to the very first Doctor Who story in 1963, "The Tribe of Gum". In the spirit of the 50th Anniversary of Who, I will indeed be revisiting some stories, but with a twist. In The Tribe of Orb, all the same caveman characters and their fixation on making (or not making) fire is reprised, but I gave their god Orb physical form as an energy creature causing the Ice Age to be extended. The Shepherd and his companion did really well with it. Pout's got the Time Lordy banter down cold (no pun intended) and Fred's Corey used his storytelling skills to mesmerize the tribe and get them to throw off the shackles of their religion. He MAY be responsible for humanity getting into cave paintings and/or the Exodus myth, who knows? Ultimately, Orb was given a new lease on life and moved to a time in the future when the Earth needs a little cooling. So those Ice Ages in The Ice Warriors and The Talons of Weng-Chiang? That's right. Orb. Episode 2 is later today, I'll tell you about it next week.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
Act IV, Scene 4 - Slings & Arrows
Act IV, Scene 4 - The Banquet

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from JSA All Stars to Justice League.

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