This Week in Geek (3-09/02/14)


I got my Third Doctor sourcebook from Cubicle 7, the hardcopy, that is, and Downton Abbey Series 4 on DVD.


DVDs: I had been going around, glibly saying I didn't need to see The Hunger Games because I'd seen it already, when it was called Battle Royale. But though the premise is somewhat similar, the intent of both book and film is so different that it was an unfair comment on my part. The Hunger Games isn't about kill gags, for one thing, and instead of following a group of kids and letting us wonder who will make it out alive, we're squarely with Katniss Everdeen (terrible name) practically all the way through. Even when we move away from what she can see, it's only ever to see people talking about her. If Battle Royale was definitely about extreme Reality TV converging with the cruelties of growing up, THG merely uses that trope to support the Bush-era metaphor of sending one's kids overseas to fight in wars. I appreciated it and am looking forward to the next one (I'll wait for the DVD, thanks), but it didn't exactly inflame my imagination. The broad strokes with which the world was painted were perhaps to blame. The DVD extras have a thorough series of featurettes about every aspect of the production, from source material to audience reaction, and the director is especially eloquent in discussing his vision. We also get the full propaganda film shown in Sector 12 and correspondence between Donald Sutherland and the director. A full package.

Speaking if full package, the Breaking Bad Season 3 DVD is chock full too, with commentary on most episodes, a small making of and (filmed) podcast introduction for each, and more besides. Deleted scenes, outtakes, behind the scene featurettes, Better Call Saul commercials, a superhero cartoon by one Jessie Pinkman, and I may be forgetting some. As for the series itself, this is the year without cancer, which shows how the series can work as a straight crime drama. Well... straight. We get a lot more of Hank in this one, as he breaks bad. Skyler too. They've managed to keep the series fresh both in terms of structure, drama, humor and ever shifting status quo, and I'm really glad I invested myself into it after years of shrugging it off as something that sounded too melodramatic for my attention.

My little movie club is running a monthly feature we call Cultural Exchanges, and this week, @NathGoguen presented one of her favorite films, (500) Days of Summer. Turns out I was the only one in the group who hadn't seen it. It was the kind of indie film that was right up my alley and could sit comfortably on my overloaded DVD shelves. An anti-romcom, it tells the story of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) from Cupid's arrow (Day 1) to getting over her (Day 500), from his point of view, a point of view that may include distortions, reevaluations, even a musical number. What do we choose to remember, and how? The film gets even more clever by going back and forth through the days, so we can contrast the good times with the bad. It's funny, but the humor comes from the structure, flights of fancy, or from characters being in-character funny. The moments play out as real, or at least the feelings behind them do. A real charmer, even if I never fell for Summer myself (in that sense, it's a true anti-romcom). Maybe it's because she shares traits with a number of girls I went out with myself. I'm past day 500 already.

Audio: A new cycle of the Fifth Doctor adventures with Tegan, Turlough and older Nyssa begins with The Emerald Tiger by Barnaby Edwards, a collage of Height of Empire writers' material - Kipling, Burroughs, Conrad, Haggard and Forster to name those I recognize - with a definite Indiana Jones matinée adventure feel. Basically, the TARDIS crew lands in 1920s India to see a cricket match, but get turned around in a story of were-tigers, lost worlds and strange fauna. It's quite good, and I especially love how it starts on a reading of the Jungle Book accompanied by exotic music (some of the best written for a Big Finish release I've heard in a while, thankfully the CD/download has it isolated on a separate track). Quite evocative. I'll only question the effect these events have on Nyssa's appearance, which seems a bit forced and perhaps there only so she can do the things they need her to do in later stories (The Butcher of Brisbane especially).

The Jupiter Connection by Eddie Robson is more of a romp, set in a strip mall encased in a comet, where our heroes are in real danger, sure, but also get locked up in the break room and things. It's got some nice moments of humor, but never really feels like the stakes are high, despite an impending war being in the works off screen. The story features a fairly good mystery, and lots of twists and turns, as well as Jovian aliens of an odd and interesting nature and temperament. It's all quite enjoyable, no real complaints from me, but I do wonder how memorable this is compared to the evocative Emerald Tiger that precedes it, and continuity-important The Butcher of Brisbane that follows it (I'll have finished listening to that one only in time for next week's roundup, see you then).

Lego Marvel Super Heroes completion: 60.4% (no change; decided to curb my addiction by going cold turkey this week)

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
IV.vii. Ophelia's Death - Branagh '96

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Wonder Woman to Young All-Stars.


Toby'c said...

The Hunger Games was my fourth favourite movie of 2012, and Catching Fire my second of 2013 (so far). Though I'm not sure that either part of Mockingjay will make it that high, considering the competition.

Tim Wallace said...

I'm a bit behind in my Big Finish listening...but I also tend to listen in an appropriately wibbly wobbly timey wimey way jumping from Doctor to Doctor and older and newer adventures, but these have my interest! The last one I bought was the anniversary story "The Light at the End"...I see me ordering some discs in the near future!

Siskoid said...

The Light at the End has me in a dilemma. Do I keep listening to the main range in order, or do I skip ahead and get the 50th Anniversary special right away?


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