Category Archives: science fiction

Sobering take on reality TV

A few months ago, a colleague suggested I check out the new Dr. Who. I had some trepidation about this. See, eons ago when I was a geeky teenager, I loved Dr. Who, which at one point (and may still be) was the longest running television show of all time. The show was infamous for the terrible special effects, the ever changing Doctor and his companions, and some really rather dorky episodes. I loved it. But time marches on and well, you find new and usually better things with which to occupy your time.

But he said, “watch it, you’ll like it” so I did and I did. CGI and special effects have advanced to a point where you no longer need to have a frisbee, some superglue, and some glitter to create a space ship, so that part of the show is much improved. They got Christopher Eccleston to play the first incarnation of the doctor, which gives the show more credibility than it might have had otherwise. Scripts are pretty tight. There’s the general goofiness that is part and parcel of Dr. Who, but they’ve managed a couple of actually creepy episodes.

Then this week, the Canadian station was running the first part of the season finale , which had an interesting take on reality TV. It’s several hundred years in the future, and all that’s on are versions of current reality shows (albeit the British versions, and lest we forget, they’re the ones who brought us Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear, Groundforce and so on…). Plenty funny, except of course is the fact that instead of merely being “evicted,” “eliminated,” or “fired.” You die.

HBO’s got a new show out which is rather good. Rome, while it lacks the magnificent performances from I, Claudius, ain’t nothing to sneeze at either.

I am going to make a concerted effort to watch traditional TV shows this season. Shows with a narrative, actual actors, dialogue and such. Not that my TV is hooked up to a Nielsen machine or anything, but maybe the change needs to start small…


So I was at the movies again. This heat is killing me, man. Anyhow, one of the previews was for The Island, a rather slick looking thriller with fancy f/x and the likes of Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, and Sean Bean. Not the type of film that I’m dying to go see, but as the trailer continued, it occurred to me that the story sounds very familiar. Awfully familiar, in fact. Then it hit me.

It’s a remake of Parts: The Clonus Horror, a turkey I was introduced to by those good people at Mystery Science Theater: 3000. It’s the same darn film. Tarted up, but really, I think we all know that it’s going to be like putting lipstick on a pig. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so either.

Nary an axe in sight

My book club meets tonight. In the nick of time (pun intended), I finished this months read, whch was The Time Traveler’s Wife. To my utter surprise, I loved this.

The surprise has to do with the serious penchant of my fellow book clubbers for those dreary books that seem to feature someone growing up in North Dakota amidst turmoil and possibly axe-wielding serial killers. I have nothing against North Dakota, you understand. My best friend drove through the Dakotas when she moved to the Pacific Northwest and said the scenery was breathtaking. I just am so tired of all the sturm and drang of the darkside of the American Midwest Oprah novel. I just am.

Anyhow, The Time Traveler’s Wife is less a fantasy than it is a love story. Henry, the time traveler, has the ability to travel back and forwards in time. He can’t control it and there are definite side effects with which he must contend. The perspective shifts between him and his wife, Claire. Their love is the thread that runs through the whole novel. It’s beautifully written and was surprisingly gripping.

Joan Crawford in Space!

A discussion on Attack of the Clones at Virtual Views got me thinking about the connection between Joan Crawford and Attack of the Clones. Anyone reading this is probably scratching his or her head, but think about it.

1. Padme has no less than fifteen! different outfits and hairstyles in the movie, which she dons regardless of the appropriateness of the moment, so the end result is like watching Crawford in Female on the Beach.

2. We have Natalie Portman as an extremely implausible Senator–kind of like watching Joan Crawford or Kay Francis playing a brain surgeon.

3. Star-crossed lovers who do manage to have a “Happy Interlude,” complete with pleasant colors, flowers, and good times. You know, it’s that sequence in the middle of the movie where the action pretty much stops dead as the two young lovers go riding, to the carnival, walking through the field, and so on. I suppose we should just be grateful George didn’t have them sing.

4. Hayden Christensen delivering that painful, pathetic, soulful dialogue in the mode of a buff George Brent. Although maybe I’m being too hard on the late Mr. Brent. I think he could have given Mr. Christensen some tips on selling that schmaltz.

5. Padme/Joan consoling Anakin/George after he’s revealed that he’s done some really horrible things, with that wonderful illogical moral relativism of the women’s picture. “Darling, I’m sure you didn’t mean to do it. It’s all right. Our love can conquer anything” (said shortly before we learn that the leading man has gone beyond the pale of what the Production Code allowed.

So in short, here’s George Lucas hell-bent on recreating the Saturday morning serial of yore, and instead he has recreated a Joan Crawford movie.

Go figure.

Deep Space Nine

Color me psyched about DS9 finally getting some airtime. SpikeTV is showing it. It’s always been my favorite of the various incarnations of Trek. Good acting, particularly from the recurring players and a decent premise.