July 3 2011 - July 15, 2011

Reviewing Torchwood: Miracle Day

That's right folks, it's summer and, this year, that means another series of Torchwood. Ten episodes over ten weeks this year, as compared to five over five days in 2009.

And yes, I'm watching it, hoping that Russell T Davies can return to form and wash the disappointing memories of this year's Doctor Who from my mind.

The first two series of the show ranged from campy delight to nearly pornographic awfulness (sometimes in the same episode) and the third came within a last-minute intellectual cop-out of being a masterpiece of sociological science fiction, so it's anybody's guess how Davies' fourth kick at the Torchwood can will turn out.

One episode in, the results are still up in the air.

My review of the episode is posted here and my overview of the series to date is over here — and be warned, I'm pretty free with spoilers.


Treme: Television comes of Age

Introduction: Lost in (outer) space

Anybody remember Star Trek: Voyager? The 1995 edition of the Star Trek franchise was based on an idea that begged for a treatment much different from where any Star Trek had gone before but, though the program survived seven seasons, it can only be considered a colossal failure of creative nerve.

The concept was simple. Rather than yet another Starship only days or weeks away from a galactic garage, Voyager was a vessel hurled (never mind how) so far into space its crew found itself facing the prospect of a 75 year journey home.

Obviously, Voyager was going to be a study in the physical and psychological travails of a small group of people utterly isolated and aboard a vessel falling slowly into disrepair, gradual stripping away the veneer of 24th century civilization to reveal the essential characters of the men and women wearing the fraying Starfleet uniforms.

Or not. In fact, just like its episodic predecessors, but without the justification of having a Starbase just past the next star system, Voyager followed a simplistic Adventure of the Week formula. Thus, each week, scars both physical and psychological were magicked away and all was re-set to factory specifications for the next episode.

The format has its merits and has produced some excellent drama of a certain (essentially childish) kind. Even at best, it is of limited depth and certainly takes no advantage of the time available to tell a really long story.

Enter Treme, a program set in the heart of New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now just finished its second season, I dare to suggest we are witness not just to one of television's rare masterpieces, but to the birth of a new art-form — the long-format drama.

So let's talk about David Simon and Eric Overmyer's Treme. Let's talk about a drama that avoids cliches and tropes and easy laughs. Let's talk about what is, as one blogger put it, "a dramatic TV series that is about a city's history and culture."

Few spoilers, and definitely no cops'n robbers inside.


The First Naked Bike Ride

There isn't a cause out there (or so it seems) that doesn't have a dedicated, international 'Day' assigned to it. Typically, it is brought to my attention too late for me to say much about it, even if I do have something to say, and this years was no different.

That's right, 2011's 2011's Canadian version of the annual World Naked Bike Ride has come and gone, without either my notice or my participation.

If Wikipedia, as of July 2nd, 2011, is to be believed, the first Naked Bike Ride was held in Spain in 2001, in Spain. (I did not participate in that one, either.)

However, I have cycled naked, though I did so neither as a simple exhibitionist nor as one disguised as a protester making some arcane point.

As it happens, the last time I arranged my valuables just so on a bike's saddle, I did so fully prepared to do battle over an entirely different (though, arguably, just as questionable) point.

Click here to read about my childhood adventures as Naked Superhero — remarkably, they are Safe For Work!

Spread the word!

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