August 1, 2011 - August 15, 2011
August 14, 2011, OTTAWA — The summer isn't over, but the end is visible and, on a personal level, it feels as if it's right in my face. Banged-up knee saw me miss the last four football matches of the season and now my bicycle has gone tits-up.
Not that I"m whining — I hope. The full, unusually personal, posting is here.
August 13, 2011, OTTAWA — As snarky and impatient and critical as it can be, creators also get an awful lot of slack from fandom. We've invested time and energy in characters and situations, almost as if they are real people, and so we can forgive a lousy episode or even a lousy series, if we can hope that, as with a beloved but losing sports franchise, "There's always next year."
So I found myself silently cheering The Middle Men, just a little. A scene here, another there. Watching Gwen burn pointless rubber on a motorcycle was kind of fun; Jack's Batman-like disappearance before the constabulary arrived at the restaurant was cute as well. Cliched and kinda goofy, they nevertheless had an element of fun this series has been sorely lacking.
Even a brief scene of intense and cringe-inducing, brutal violence was strangely welcome.
But even for a fan, a character moment here, a well-blocked scene there, is pretty thin soup if the back-story makes even less sense than it did last week, and the plot is still driven by your favourite characters acting, well, stupidly.
August 10, 2011, OTTAWA — As you might know, I've been serially reviewing the latest Torchwood series, a work that (I presume) is as much the product of Russell T Davies' personal vision as is possible with an inherently collaborative medium.
So it is rather difficult to ignore the irony, that there is more credible social commentary, more humour and more excitement in Peter Watts' 300 page adaptation of a first-person-shooter video game, which (again, I presume) was written strictly for the money, than there has been in the first five hours of Davies' brain-child.
Watts' story, about a an accidental cybernetic soldier's brief campaign on a ruined island of Manhattan a scant 12 years in our future is also fairly rigorous science fiction, as one might expect from the "reformed marine biologist", but probably not from a novel about a super-soldier and his mysterious battle-armour.
If Crysis: Legion is not quite the follow-up to his 2006 hard-SF masterpiece, Blindsight one might have wished for, it's a better book than one has any reason to expect of a media tie-in.
The Categories of Idiot Plots
August 7, 2011, OTTAWA — Why am I writing this? Why am I even still watching?
At the half-way mark of Torchwood's miraculously boring 2011 series, there are two answers to both questions.
The first is that I said I would and that I am trying to develop a reputation for reliability. The second is that there is some morbid fascination in watching to see just how bad this thing can get.
Contrary to a prediction made in an early draft of my my review of last week's Escape to L.A., the return of Jane Espenson, whose keyboard was behind the best episode in the series so far, didn't make for any improvement after all.
The Categories of Life is so slow moving and so driven by idiot plot devices that it's tempting to imagine Russell T Davies is playing some sort of Zen game of Patience with his audience, but on reflection, the evidence doesn't support that hypothesis.
A far more plausible explanation for the ineptness on display is that Davies was so excited about the huge sums of American money at his disposal, that he was so distracted by fantasies of crane shots and exploding helicopters, that he forgot to write a story in which to blow his toys up until mere days before shooting was scheduled to start.
Torchwood: Miracle Day — Escape to L.A. Introduction
August 1, 2011, OTTAWA — The answer to the question, What happens in Escape to L.A.? is, "Not very much and what does happen is too stupid for words."
As there is no sense of reality in Torchwood: Miracle Day, so there is no sense of urgency. The only ticking clock is that of the viewer's rapidly-dwindling patience.
Once can only imagine that two years ago, the four hours to which we've been subjected so far would have been, to much better effect, condensed into the first 30 minutes or so of Russell T Davies flawed but taut, emotionally-moving and thoroughly gripping Children of Earth.
Do you really want to read more? Well, click away. As always, some spoilers behind the link; as sometimes, some foul language as well. You've been warned.