28 February 2016

Things what I have watched - February 2016


Got to say that I'm really not liking the Beckett/Castle 'break-up' arc; both parties are being stupid in this and I wish they would sort this thing out.

Agents of SHIELD

Jemma Simmons needs a hug. "4,722 Hours", the episode that explores what happened to her for over six months on an alien world was superb and very well acted by Elizabeth Henstridge. I see the FitzSimmons are not happy about her and Will, but he was literally the only guy on the planet. Also, going all PTSD on her return is understandable - she was too busy surviving previously.

26 February 2016

FTL Kestrel Adventures

I'm just making a quick post to recommend this excellent animation series set in the world of the Faster Than Light game; if they ever do a sequel, this guy should be hired to do cutscenes.

In fact, someone should give him a full time job animation job.

Check it out here.

Seriously, I'm not enjoyed a machinima this much since Clear Skies (although it arguably isn't one).

20 February 2016

Fringe 1.11: Bound

I love Olivia Dunham. Not in the romantic sense of the word (she's a fictional character for one thing) but in the sense that she has just become awesome. Yes, the bottom-kicking female has become a bit of a cliché these days, but if it ain't broke don't fix it.

She does indeed get out of her predicament in style, getting a guard to give her some water... then smashing the glass over his head. She then retrieves some key evidence before getting out and later on has some pretty awesome scenes. Before that, she ends up strapped to a stretcher while a guy in a very creepy mask (and distinctive shoes) looks at her, then gives her a spinal tap.

Speaking of spinal taps, this episode definitely goes up to 11 in several regards. Firstly, the deadly science thing of the week, which involves a gigantic cold virus killing people and coming out of their mouths. While cold viruses don't actually look like slugs (they're far more spherical in shape and can be bought as adorable plushies), it's still a very arresting image.

Also, Walter is definitely in the Mad Scientist category this week - giving LSD to a caterpillar for no obvious reason and showing a bit too much excitement about the Ebola virus while his son and Olivia look for said giant slug in a lecture theatre.

There's definitely some very shady conspiracy going on here; Olivia is now in something up to the neck of her stylish work suit.

Only drawback was the scenes with Olivia's sister and niece, which just seem too much like filler to me.


Minor family stuff aside, this was a very good episode of the show that is now well and truly kicked into gear.


17 February 2016

EU renegotiation

I am in favour of continued membership of the EU. I believe that our membership benefits our economy and our place in the world. While not a perfect organisation, it is frequently maligned unfairly.

Cameron's renegotiation is at heart a selfish move to protect our country at the expense of millions of poorer people in Europe. People come here because this is a good country to live in and they can earn far more than in their own country. We should be working together to improve the lives of all Europeans, not engaging in discriminatory moves. Also, a benefits ban can have its own problems. What if someone comes here to work and then gets into a serious accident making them need disability benefit?

I'd like that to be clearer and have exceptions... but the way this government has been treating people on benefits doesn't fill me with confidence.

Nor am I confident that REMAIN will win the referendum, sadly.

08 February 2016

I think I'll stick to apple juice (Review: 'Star Trek' 1.23, "A Taste of Armageddon")

When I saw the trailer for this on my DVD, I thought the hats were going to be the most ridiculous thing in this episode. I was wrong.


The Enterprise is on approach to an alien world with the aim to establish diplomatic relations with it when it receives a message telling it to stay away. However, they are ordered by the Ambassador on board to ignore that message and find themselves drawn into a very strange war indeed.


Much of science fiction, especially Star Trek, aims to make comments on our own society and times via the activities of fantasy worlds. How well it manages to do that varies; it can be subtle and brilliant... or it can be like having a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick applied to your head, to quote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Unfortunately this is a bit of a Gargle Blaster of an episode, intended as a commentary on the ongoing Vietnam War and coming across to me as one on the Cold War as well (remember this is five years after the Cuban Missiles Crisis) which comes across as heavy handed to me... also, a bit implausible. The central premise of the episode revolves around people willingly killing themselves because a computer has told them to do so. While I would agree that people have engaged in mass murder because someone told them it was the right thing, most humans do have a sense of self-preservation and surely some would have refused. Anyway, even the 'fake war' of the episode has real humanoid costs that would have an impact... and the length of time it has been going on is ridiculous. In short, the entire scenario falls apart at close examination.

Spock and Kirk don't have a great episode at all; Kirk is very unsubtle in his approach. The best of the crew is in fact Scotty, who refuses an order from Ambassador Fox that could get them all killed; reflecting a real incident in James Doohan's life where as an officer in the Royal Canadian Army, he refused to do something in a training exercise that would kill his own men.

Ambassador Fox (played by Gene Lyons, best known as the police commissioner on Ironside) is a complete and utter idiot; he clearly failed Common Sense. He ignores the message from the planet and overrides sensible decisions by the crew of the ship on the grounds of diplomacy, failing to realise (to quote Scotty) that sometimes the best form of diplomacy is indeed a fully armed phaser bank.

The planet is led by one Anan 7, played by David Opatoshu, a man with a suitably evil goatee and a slightly swarthy look that got a lot of roles as Middle Eastern characters over the years. He's clearly quite, quite insane. Apart from the guards in silly hats, the main other character on the planet is Mea 3, one of the few credited and on-screen appearances by Barbara Babcock (who mostly did uncredited voice work in the original series), who wears a classic female costume of this sort of era... or rather half one, which is pretty distracting.

The ending sees Kirk engage in some very reckless behaviour - basically risking a nuclear exchange between the two sides in order to force them to talk.

Finally, can we please stop these 'comedy' final scenes? They're getting irritating.


This is supposed to be a metaphor on the madness and stupidity of war. Unfortunately, it comes across as just stupid.


01 February 2016

Mystery Science Theater 3000

In the not too distant future, somewhere in the US, a new series of Mystery Science Theater 3000, funded by fans to the tune of over $6 million, will go into production and I for one am very much looking forward to it.

The show can be summarised simply as "guy and two robots watch bad movies while making jokes about them"... but they're very good jokes. Indeed, it's influenced the whole way that people watch regular TV (including me) and the original remains a cult classic.

While you're waiting for the new lot, an array of episodes from across the eleven seasons can be watched here with others available for a small fee on the Rifftrax website (which of course was set up by former host Mike Nelson).

Now if you excuse me, I've got movie sign.

Crow: Hey, isn't he supposed to put his own riffs in here?