This Week in Geek (21-27/10/13)


DVDs: Flipped Columbo Season 1 this week, a DVD included in the Complete Columbo I got for a song and a "one more thing". It includes the two TV pilots (Columbo started life in a play, the showed up in a 1968 one-off television mystery movie, with a second effort in 1971 that led to a ± monthly series of tele-films running for a number of years), in which the detective made famous by Peter Falk is a lot edgier. It's slightly weird to see this younger Columbo aggressively lay into suspects, though his modus operandi is pretty much the same. If you've never seen Columbo (is that even possible? let's say it is), every installment starts with us seeing the "perfect murder", followed by Columbo quickly figuring out who did it, then bugging (and finally tricking) that person until he or she makes a mistake so their guilt can be proven. It's not a whodunit, nor a whydonit. It's a howtoproveit. Anyway, these first 9 episodes still stand up, not only because the character is so engaging, but because the murders are shot with a lot of flair, often embracing the murderer's style and point of view. You won't just find recognizable stars in the cast (Suzanne Pleshette, Don Ameche, Leslie Nielsen, Roddy McDowall) but behind the camera as well (one of them was directed by a young Steven Spielberg!). I'm not going to take too long before biting into Season 2.

Readers of the daily reviews already know what I thought of Doctor Who's The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (a bit of meta-textual pantomime, though the regular cast is well-served and the visuals are strong), but let's talk about the DVD extras. 2|entertain include the usual features, of course. That would be subtitle production notes, a photo gallery, an isolated score,  deleted and extended scenes (common for this era), and an audio commentary. The latter is moderated by Toby Hadoke who always manages to bring out the best in his guests, this time including Sophie Aldred (Ace; always articulate and enthusiastic), Jessica Martin (Mags), Christopher Guard (Bellboy), writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel, and composer Mark Ayres (this was his first story). The making of is excellent, and while the meta-text isn't acknowledged (which might mean it's all in critics' heads, mine included), there are a lot of stories to tell about this one - how it might have become another Shada when studios closed during an asbestos scare, for example. A short bit shows and explains the model shots that weren't used in Part 1. The DVD provides a video for the song "The Psychic Circus" written and performed on a lark by the cast while working on this. It's not a bad tune, actually! In the same spirit, you'll find Ayres' audition cues for Remembrance of the Daleks which got him the job on Greatest Show. Plus, an episode of Tomorrow's Times, looking the what the newspapers said about Doctor Who in the 7th Doctor era, and a pretty awful Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV sketch, only interesting because Jim Broadbent plays the Doctor for the first of two times (stay tuned).
Music: So I don't go out anymore, especially not if the night's gonna end past 1 AM, and I hardly drink. Which made my mildly inebriated attendance at a show this past Thursday part of the evening's overall strangeness. The band was Tupper Ware Remix Party, the gonzo group pictured above, who dress in spandex (the drummer looks like he's an alien from "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" who's fallen prey to the "Are you my mummy?" nanogene virus, and the traffic coned lead singer clearly has Tony Stark's heart), sing covers with robot voices, and project B-movie madness behind them (at one point, scenes from Super Infra-Man, the Chinese superhero movie I once scheduled for one of my Kung Fu Fridays; at another, the many faces of Nicholas Cage, terrifying). Good stage presence, good musicians and neat arrangements, though the robot voice sometimes took the energy out of songs, which I don't think is the goal. Anyway, it would have been strange enough just for the novelty act, except there's more. How about a fire alarm caused by a sensor malfunction (reportedly NOT by the smoke machine on overdrive)? And the venue is in the building I work at, and I happen to be one of the "fire marshals" who must put on an orange armband and get people to a safe distance, and my particular sector just happens to be the venue (usually empty during the day) and in any case, I'm the only one there? Yes, that happened as well. Apparently, standing in the cold in sweaty spandex isn't a pleasant experience. Well, neither is trying to get a drunk party out into a parking lot during a false alarm. There's more, but it's predicated on you knowing the people involved, so I'll just move along.

RPGs: Justice Legion - A Fragile Peace, episode 5: Operation Atlantis Part 1
Yesterday, we played another chapter in our DC Adventures campaign set in the 28th-century DC Universe. The adventure was based on the DC Heroes module Operation: Atlantis (just Part 1 with the Advance Team, please don't spoil my players about Part 2, which we play next week, thanks). Basically, Justice Legion members Aaron Strange, Plastic Girl (a major source of comedy) and Fennec (a male version of Vixen, played like Black Dynamite with animal powers) are teamed-up with Task Force Z, the future's version of the Suicide Squad, criminals looking for reprieve by undertaking dangerous missions. So some players had to play two characters, with Deadshot and Nemesis assigned to the op. That mission? Investigate a terror act perpetrated on a United Earth delegation trying to bring Atlantis into the Union so Earth's application to the United Planets can be accepted, and prevent any more sabotage from occurring. Among the difficulties, various acts of sabotage, Deadshot going a little violent and getting exploded by his bracelet, a criminal tainting the Aquaman name (right) attacking Poseidonis (he was recruited for the Squad almost immediately and helped in the climax), and a Kobayashi Maru finale in which Aaron Strange Zeta-beamed an anti-matter bomb out of there and had to choose between his own life or letting the bomb explode near a passing spaceship. He chose the latter, and his sister, who was coming to visit him from Rann, was aboard. IRONY! Well, someone had to pay the price. Great session, filled with laughs, so of course, it's all got to end in tears. I learned that from Joss Whedon. Below are the character sheets to the new characters, using a DCAdv/DWAITAS hybrid.
Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week: Hamlet's Letter -  Branagh '96

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from The Spirit to Star Trek.



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