This Week in Geek (6-12/02/12)


I love it when the Kung Fu Friday crowd comes bearing gifts, so my thanks to Fred "The Dragon" for a set of three sonic screwdrivers with interchangeable parts. Good props for future Doctor Who RPG games? A well placed 5$ at the Value Village either way!


DVDs: Caprica likely never had a chance. On the one hand, many Battlestar Galactica fans gave up on it quite soon for not being BSG. On the other, SyFy's schedule treated it abominably, with huge broadcast lulls that made it impossible for the show to gain momentum. Personally, I like it. The Battlestar prequel lives in the same morally ambiguous gray zone, even if it can't possibly be as tense or sci-fi intensive as BSG. That was asking too much of it, at least initially. Season 1.0, as the DVD calls it, is more of a set-up for future tension, and while I question the wisdom of Matrix-like elements of the V-world, I do realize it was part of the Cylon stuff in BSG. Eric Stoltz as the creator of the Caprican Cylons is a better actor than I ever gave him credit for, Polly Walker as a monotheist terrorist is unsurprisingly excellent, and for a non-Cylon connection, there's Bill Adama's father and his travails with the Tauron mob. There are many parts to this beast, and if it comes off as "Dallas meets the Godfather in Space", well, that's not a bad place to be. The DVD is built on the BSG mold, with a mix of podcasts and more professional commentary tracks on most episodes, various deleted scenes, and making of material both from the web and new to the DVD.

And the same is true of the Caprical Season 1.5 DVD, though the podcasts do dry up towards the end. The final commentary track still talks about a possible Season 2 that failed to materialize, and here I thought they knew from the "5 year jump" epilogue that seemed to tell us what happened next. From what I can understand, the epilogue was meant to jump the timeline ahead so that Season 2 would have a very different story (Zoe passing off as human in the military, among other things). But alas. If people gave up on Caprica early in Season 1 because it wasn't as intense as BSG, it was too late for them to get exactly that kind of intensity in 1.5. The production team obviously evolved the show during their hiatus to include more SF and action elements, pushing towards a ticking clock finale focusing on an impending terrorist attack. Never very easy to describe what this show is about, because it follows a number of story strands, but it didn't let me down. Bring on Bill Adama's adventures as a young man! Sounds like it'll have more traction with the typical BSG fan.

If you've been reading the blog for the past couple weeks, then you know I watched The Masters of the Universe live action movie. In the final analysis, it was much better than I thought it would be when it turned up in last year's Oscar Pool pile, and I don't regret having won it one bit. The DVD included one feature of note and that's a commentary track by director Gary Goddard recorded in 2009. He sometimes dries up in the second half, but not a lot, enlightening listeners on the compromises he had to make to bring the film in on budget (but not on time, he finished it with his own money a few months after it officially wrapped), what his vision was and what he thinks of the team assembled both in front and behind the camera. A good value, especially since the movie is likely to be found only in bargain bins.

Jackie Chan's recent film, Little Big Soldier, was this week's Kung Fu Friday selection, a pleasant mixture of Chinese historical war epic and tragi-comedy that sees Jackie as a clownish soldier trying to bring in his captive, a princely general (Leehom Wang). It's a buddy picture, so they'll become friends after a sort, and there's plenty of action even if Jackie keeps his stunts in the "bumbling, accidental hero" mode. It's also a rather emotional performance from him, as his character reflects on war and the importance of putting down roots, with proper lyrical direction to give it more resonance. My only misgiving is a tonal problem with the ending. It's not that it's more tragic than what we're used to in a Jackie Chan film, it's that it is undercut by the inevitable montage of bloopers that end every Jackie film (and without subtitles too, jeer!). The DVD includes a 15-minute making of, roughly put together from internet spots, and a music video (a nice song that's an integral part of the film).

Audios: The 8th Doctor/Lucie Miller third season ends with Worldwide Web, in which Eddie Robson ends the story he bagan in The Eight Truths. With the villains revealed and in control of Lucie, I was afraid Sheridan Smith wouldn't be able to give a performance AS Lucie. They got around that neatly by having a space inside her head (kinda) where she could interact with her possessor. The story feels very New Who, playing out on on a huge stage, and with both stars doing their very best both with the drama and comedy to make this what I think is the best finale in the 8th/Lucie series so far. And hopefully, that's the Headhunter's arc finally over and done with. I was never a huge fan of the character.

The 7th Doctor, Ace & Hex audio The Magic Mousetrap by Matthew Sweet is a surreal, witty, literate piece that brings back a foe from the Hartnell days in perhaps his best story ever (the bar wasn't high, mind you). The tale begins with an amnesiac Doctor being admitted to an asylum filled with entertaining loonies of all stripes who spend their days playing games so as not to remember the TARDIS and things. It's all rather good and eccentric, not unlike Sweet's previous effort, The Year of the Pig (which I nominated as one of my 5 favorite CDs experienced in 2011). Its one flaw is that it sidelines Ace and Hex for too much of the story.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.ii. Instructing the Players - Classics Illustrated


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

'Masters' is one of those movies that I can watch over and over again. Frank Langella is having a great time a Skeletor. How can you not love Lubbock either?


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