Thursday, January 02, 2014

Siskoid Awards 2013 - Technical Achievement Ceremony

You've seen the Oscars. There's always a bit where we're informed about some beautiful actress having previously hosted a Technical Achievement Award Ceremony where they gave out statues for boring science stuff, like, say, last year's long-lasting camera battery (one of the few awards not given to some software or other). At Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, it's equally an excuse to showcase a pretty girl who rocked a part (or in this case, a LOT of parts), and give out "prizes" (again, don't try to claim them, they are made of imagination) for stuff that marked the year and wasn't covered yesterday.

Your hostess this year is versatile Canadian actress and star of surprise hit Orphan Black Tatiana Maslany. Check out Orphan Black if you haven't yet, it's very cool, and look for Season 2 to begin next April. Give her a big hand folks, giving out Golden Typewriter Monkeys doesn't pay anything.

Favorite part of the 50th Whoniversary - Night of the Doctor (Stephen Moffat). This was a banner year for Doctor Who, all props to the BBC and their license-holders for going all out. I could easily have picked Cubicle 7's sourcebooks for each Doctor (though they only managed three during the year, one a month was, let's say, rather ambitious of them), or Big Finish's The Light at the End (but I haven't listened to it yet), or the casting of the new Doctor, or the Adventure in Time and Space biopic, or the Five Doctors Reboot... even IDW's comics did something fun for the occasion, and of course, the special itself got honored yesterday. But it's the brief return of Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor that took the Internet by storm, and rightly so. I hope this means he'll get the attention he deserves, bringing new fans to the audio adventures, or perhaps green-lighting more mini-episodes.

Favorite new podcast of 2013 - Toby Hadoke's Who's Round (free from Big Finish). Toby's made a living with a Who-centric one-man comedy show, written about the program with friend Rob Shearman, and expertly moderated a good number of commentary tracks on classic Doctor Who DVDs, so he was perfect for this project. Essentially, he celebrated the Whoniversary by traveling the UK to interview people who'd work on the series over the last 50 years, mostly people we'd never heard from, with the ultimate goal of covering every single story. Based on his Twitter feed, it almost broke him, which makes it even worthier.

Best role-playing product of 2013 - The Time Travellers' Companion (Cubicle 7). To be fair, I only bought products from two role-playing lines this year (the two campaigns I ran), but it's hard to beat the TTC for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (DWAITAS) both as a role-playing resource and a neat sourcebook about the show, covering everything from Time Lord society and TARDIS design, to paradoxes and temporal shenanigans of all kinds. Stats for your favorite Time Lord characters too. Nathaniel Thorson did an impressive amount of research and put a LOT of thought into working out how time works in Doctor Who despite the show's many contradictions.

Best performance in a role-playing game in 2013 - Pout Ouellet for the Question (DC Adventures) and the Shepherd (DWAITAS). I promise, this is the last Doctor Who-related prize, and it's a rather personal one because it deals with my own gaming group. But I had to give Pout a shout-out, seeing as his brooding, badass version of the Question (part conspiracy theorist from JLU, part Rorschach) was memorable, and came on the heels of a full season of Doctor Who gaming in which he had the harder task of bringing our Time Lord's new regeneration to life and made it extremely entertaining. Makes me wish had hadn't gotten a job out of town.

Best online video series of 2013 - Tabletop (Geek & Sundry). Two seasons in and Wil Wheaton's You-tube show continues not only to entertain, but to inspire me and my friends to get our hands on some of the keen board/dice/card games he plays with his guests. We've been doing more and more frequent "game nights" and will likely continue to do so in the new year. If I could suggest an episode to Wil, it would be Cosmic Encounter, an old favorite that's gotten a makeover in recent years. I still play with my plain tokens, but there's a pretty version that would look good on TV.

Best board game of 2013 - Kill Doctor Lucky (Cheapass/Titanic Games). Not new by any means, but new to ME. This prequel to Clue is lots of fun, with real strategy, but enough luck for no hard feelings to be generated when Dr. Lucky is finally killed. Also played Save Dr. Lucky, set on the Titanic, but it doesn't have the same thrill as Kill's murderousness.

Best console gaming sandbox of 2013 - Sleeping Dogs (United Front Games). I don't play a lot of video games, so I tend to exclusively play sandboxes in the style of Grand Theft Auto. Saints Row 4 turned the model on its head by turning it into a superhero game, fun but generally too easy. The long-awaited GTA V has admirable mechanics, but tiny script on the screen, a near-invisible reticule and nasty cop A.I.s make it a frustrating experience. No, my favorite is Sleeping Dogs, set in Hong Kong, in which you play a cop undercover in the Triads. The map has too many places you can't go to, but the martial arts engine is pretty cool, and as a Hong Kong cinema fan, it was great to live through this dark, action-packed story in environments I recognized from movies. Even the DLCs, though all too brief, were amusing and evocative, with takes on Chinese Ghost Story and Enter the Dragon especially so.

Most disappointing superhero film or TV series of 2013
- Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (Joss Whedon). A real screw-up. They squandered a lot of opportunities: The Avengers film was a huge success and Agent Coulson a very popular franchise element, Joss Whedon's producership brought all the Buffy and Firefly fans to the table with expectations of cracking scripts, and who doesn't love badass beauty Ming-Na Wen? In execution, it comes off as Torchwood-lite, and unlike Arrow who is doing this RIGHT, the show seems adverse using the comic book universe that's supposed to be in the background. Except for Coulson and Wen's Melinda May, and perhaps Chloe Bennet's Skye (though that's because she's the audience identification figure), the characters a two-dimensional and boring. Even the mystery of Coulson's second chance at life is idling, with frequent mentions, but no advancement.

Best dwarf of 2013
- Ori. A lot of Middle Earth dwarves are memorable, but I think he's the most amusing. Dori needed to mother him more in The Desolation of Smaug though.

And so endeth 2013! My thanks to the Scrabblishious Tatiana Maslany for fake-pre-taping the gala and I guess I'll see you again in 2014 for more of the same!

5 comments:

Matt Celis said...

SHIELD was so utterly mediocre I gave it 4 episodes and stopped recording it. So dull. Could've been ANY spy show, interchangeable plots and cliched characters. Chloe Bennet's character was ridiculously unbelievable, as was the idea any secret agency would recruit her. What a waste of an opportunity this show was. Is it still on the air? I assumed it was cancelled already.

Siskoid said...

No I think it's technically a "hit", and the second half of the full season was ordered some time ago.

Anonymous said...

After years of being aware of Doctor Who but never watching it, I dove into Season 5 (change of cable provider = waaaay more on-demand choices) and it's become one of my favorite shows. Best of all, my son & I can watch it together.

I've now watched 3/4 of seasons 5-7 and the specials. As I've been watching, I've been reading reviews & commentary on the internet and am surprised by how much flak the Moffat era has been taking. It hasn't been perfect, even to a non-Whovian, but I have liked the vast majority of what I've watched. Maybe it's because Matt Smith has made the most of even the weakest scripts. Maybe the RTD era was better and I haven't experienced it yet. Maybe growing up reading X-Men taught me not to expect long-term plotting to pay off instantly (or at all:).

Anyway, I'll be interested in reading your perspective once you get to "The Eleventh Hour" and beyond. All of this is me taking the long way around to saying "Night of the a Doctor" worked even for this neophyte. I've never heard any of the Who audio material but I grasped the basics and I'm glad the fans got a treat.

-Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

I think RTD and Moffat gravitate towards one mistake that is particularly troublesome: making the Doctor fall in love with his traveling companion, or have the companion in love with him, or make his companion the object of some Mary Sue-like obsession. Every time they pull this it means trouble. The same traveling companion can even flip from amazing to infuriating, on an episode-by-episode basis, depending on this one thing. (The one exception to this is Amy Pond, who was always amazing even when she had the hots for the Doctor. Can't blame a girl if some idealized figure from her childhood shows up and happens to meet AND exceed the mystique built up around him. But Amy Pond worked through it, because Amy Pond rules.)

- Not Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

@Not Me,

Yeah, I can see that. It made sense for Amy to have feelings for the Doctor, but it shouldn't be the standard.

Amy was awesome and I liked Rory, but Clara didn't make an impression on me beyond "pretty and flirty." I don't dislike her, but she wasn't a compelling character.

- Mike Loughlin