I’m proud to announce the launch of a gaming/entertainment blog run by two of my “clanmates”:http://tiedtheleader.com – “Dweezle”:http://paulmhopper.com and “bs angel”:http://hawtymcbloggy.com. Dweezle and I have been working hard over the last few weeks getting everything set up and in place. He’s made most of the general design decisions, and I’ve done most of the heavy code-jockeying. The site has a good start with some legacy entries imported in from their original location and looks to be an interesting source for gaming and movie reviews and the promise of an excellent podcast. The site is called “Difference in Opinion”:http://differenceinopinion.com. Go check it out, and leave some comments for them while you’re there.
Here’s a little reader’s poll for you. Many successful TV shows like _Buffy, the Vampire Slayer_, _Stargate SG-1_, and _Alias_ have fun for 5+ seasons. _Buffy_ ran for seven seasons, _SG-1_ ran for 10, and _Alias_ – well, I never watched the show so I don’t really know exactly. Now, _Battlestar Galactica_ is scheduled to end after its fourth season, and “a comment has been made”:http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/005171.html that maybe the show should have and could have ended successfully after three.
What do you think is the ideal lifespan for a successful TV series (any genre). Is seven seasons too long? Three seasons too short? Five seasons just right? I’m curious to see how people weigh in on this topic.
Earlier this week, my wife and I were finally able to get through the last few episodes of the final season of _Angel_. I’ve been a big fan of _Buffy, the Vampire Slayer_ for years now and have been systematically collecting each season on DVD. I was never able to catch the shows on their original air dates, so I forbade anyone from spoiling any details of seasons I hadn’t seen yet. Fortunately, I was able to get my wife hooked on the shows, as well, so together we’ve gone through all seven seasons of _Buffy_ and all five seasons of _Angel_.
I’ve always loved Joss’s conceptions of the Buffyverse. The shows were dark and forbidding, but Joss could always take you from this end-of-the-world moment of doom and gloom and slip something funny in that would take viewers completely by surprise. It was interesting to me the way he built the world of vampires and demons, of witches, warlocks, and metaphysical beings. He had with him an incredible staff of writers, all with a great sense of wit and humor. It was a lot of fun to watch through the shows and see what would happen next to these characters that viewers have so come to love.
I was incredibly happy with the way _Buffy_ ended. It couldn’t have been a more poetic ending that opened up a world of possibilities to her. I knew _Angel_ would have a less than satisfactory ending. After all, the show _did_ get canceled before Joss was ready for it to do so. I can respect Joss’s choice of endings, though – I might have done much the same, leaving things open-ended in the event that a return could be made to this universe.
One thing about _Angel_ that I found interesting, though, was the philosophy behind it. In the end, the team of Angel Investigations determined that evil would never be vanquished, that it would always be around, even long after humanity ceased to exist on the earth. The conclusion, then, was that the only thing to do was to continue to fight the good fight, because even if it only caused evil a minute pause in their wicked plans, then it was surely worth it. A very bleak and depressing outcome, if you ask me, and had it been one that I had come to, I’m not sure that it would ever have been enough to keep me going. In the end, there must be the promise that good _will_ triumph, that all the pain and suffering now will ultimately come to a good end. But I suppose that the philosophy in this show is at least somewhat representative of the world, because I see that same philosophy mirrored in the worldview of many of the people around me.
I’m not quite a Joss Whedon fanboy, but any projects that he has his hands in have my immediate attention. I’m a huge fan of _Firefly_ and _Serenity_ and am mildly bitter with Fox for canceling that show after such a short run. They obviously didn’t know what they had when they had it. I doubt we’ll ever see that universe expanded by Joss himself; I heard rumor that he’s sworn never to work with Fox again. But I _will_ continue to enjoy his work and hope that he will be able to land another TV series soon. There is a wealth of creativity and inspiration trapped in that mind of his, and I look forward to seeing what else he can produce.
I’ve recently discovered the fascinating show _Heroes_ on NBC – and I’m already a huge fan. It’s fun to watch this comic book for TV, my only complaint being that some of the powers manifested by many of the characters aren’t exactly original. But I can live with that. It’s hard sometimes to come up with original material, especially in this technologically-driven day and age when new ideas are communicated around the globe in a matter of hours. What is important to me is how the writers of _Heroes_ handle these powers, how they portray them, and how they allow their characters to use them and, in turn, be shaped by them. There is a great deal of potential here, and I feel like they’ve already done an excellent job of the initial build-up.
The “SF Signal blog”:http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/004534.html today pointed to “another blog writeup”:http://jlbgibberish.blogspot.com/2006/11/heroes-six-months-earlier.html that complained about a few perceived problems with this week’s episode of _Heroes_, “Six Months Earlier.” I hesitate to call what follows a rebuttal; my intent here is not to argue but simply to present an alternate viewpoint. Let me present a couple of these complaints and attempt to dress them differently.
bq. It’s stretching the borders of credibility well past the breaking point that everyone discovers (or at least starts to manifest) at the exact same point in time.
I don’t find this too incredible at all, actually. They’ve already stated several times throughout the course of the show that all these “Specials” ((I’ve taken to referring to these characters as “Specials” because, while they make exhibit unique powers, I’m not convinced yet that they are all actually “Heroes.”)) are connected in some way. The writers have taken great care to demonstrate how completely the events of each of their lives are linked to all the others. So, it does not overly surprise me that they all began to develop their powers at roughly the same time. In the words of Stephen King, they are _ka-tet_, many individuals who share a common fate, a mutual destiny. Evolution though this may be, it should also be clear to all by now that there is something greater at work binding all these Specials together.
bq. Dr. Suresh’s list of names of potential meta-humans is just too convenient.
This is a fair point that I’m willing to grant. For now. I understood Suresh’s algorithm to be something that accounted for numerous variables in order to find all the Specials. How exactly the algorithm works has never been explained, so up to now I’ve been willing to suspend a little disbelief and allow that Suresh has somehow managed to take all factors into account. Yes, it’s a stretch, but for the time being it’s one I can live with.
bq. And [Nathan Petrelli] just happens to discover his flight powers at the instant his wife is paralyzed in an accident.
Discover? No, no. Completely accidental. The way I read this one was that the high emotional stress of the situation somehow activated Nathan’s particular gift at what turned out to be a most inconvenient time. Had this not happened, I think they stood a much greater chance of surviving the ordeal with little more than scrapes on the rear bumper (they were, after all, driving a sports car).
bq. But what annoys me the most about this episode is the ultimate pointlessness of it… [Hiro] Fails to change the future. That’s treading water in a narrative sense.
I disagree. All the Specials are only just beginning to learn their powers, learning how to use them, learning the ramifications and limitations of what they can do. The fact that Hiro was unable, in this case, to change anything at all should not come as a surprise. Again, it would seem that his unintentional leap forward was sparked by high emotional stress, something that all the Specials are going to have to learn to overcome. And I can’t help but wonder if Hiro’s leap forward and inability to leap back again was manipulated by something outside of himself. I can’t say for sure, though; it’s only a theory.
I’m eager to see what else happens from here. I know that the show has been signed for a full season, so there are 12 more episodes to come before the summer programming break. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Here’s an interesting find. _The Dark_ is a sci-fi series that will be broadcast exclusively on the Internet. Currently, there are two free episodes online to generate interest with plans to have a new 12-minute episode available weekly. The subscription fee is a initial payment of $20 with a $1 fee per episode.
From the website:
Space is dark … silent … lethal.
Ships stay quiet when they can and when they can’t, it’s because they’re too damned big. Either way, no spotlights shining on white hulls, no glowing nacelles. Nobody hails anybody. Space is an unlit sea and everything swimming in it is hungry. Planet systems mean resources and, unless someone says otherwise, they’re there for the taking.
It has been decades since the last independent nation on Earth was absorbed by the Community of Aligned Nations (aka. Generica). The solar system has been colonized, more or less, and things are going swimmingly for the genetically optimized citizens of Generica, until, that is, aliens arrive to obliterate most everything.
Mysterious aliens; no one has actually seen them, just their massive, all-devouring ships, and no two of which are alike. There has been no communication either, and Generica’s increasingly desperate pleas to negotiate go unanswered. It’s war, and for humans, it’s going very badly indeed. In the unlit labyrinth of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, three old ships from a long-defunct independent republic drop out of deep-freeze and begin waging their own kind of war against the aliens. Crewed by misfits, genetically randomized (normal folk), the Widow, Wolf and the Recluse begin an unrelenting campaign using stealth tactics, snatching small victories where great navies find only destruction. Like the hunter subs of the first cold war, they lurk in the dark, communicating with no one (not even, no especially not, Generica), with no base to call their own, and each operating with fierce independence.
This is the story of one of those ships: The Recluse. Damn near invisible in space, powered by a throbbing fusion reactor, and inhabited by a crew for whom cabin-fever is a way of life. Each crew member is a study in paranoia, neuroses and just plain weirdness. These men and women are our heroes.
The acting in the two free episodes remind me a bit of a ‘B’-movie, but I’m intrigued by the concept behind this series. I’m a bit disappointed that they haven’t shown more engagement with the aliens, but then again, 12 minutes isn’t a lot of time for storytelling. It’s something that I may be interested in checking out further as they develop this.
In the meantime, go check it out and then come back here and tell me what _you_ think. I’d be curious what other people’s reactions are.
A friend of mine stumbled across this video the other day. It’s a beautifully choreographed light saber duel, with an opening narration that pays homage to a Civil War soldier. The video is brief – right around five minutes in length – and it’s close leaves you wanting more. You can download a copy of the video from the link above, but don’t bother clicking through to the forums – they’ve been hacked for some time now, which indicates that those forums are no longer active, since no one’s bothered to fix it. Check out the video, though. It’s well worth it. And if anyone knows of any other videos done by the Ho Brothers, please let me know.
Two new movies hitting theatres soon — “Wolf Creek”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416315/ and “Hostel”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450278/ — contain graphic displays of violence, torture, serial murder, and dismemberment. _Hostel_ touts the factoid that paramedics were required at the preview due to the extreme reactions of some of those in attendance.
I find that I must shake my head in dismay and disbelief. What exactly is the “appeal”:http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=columns&vol=chris_bellamy2&article=009 of these sorts of flicks? Why do hordes of people surge to the theatres to watch gratuitous displays of blood, guts, and other disgusting acts of violence? The best answer I have ever been able to come up with is that it is something like a roller coaster — it gives a thrill of fear and excitement that gets the blood pumping, adrenaline rushing, leaving you with a headrush and a high that feels good, makes you feel alive. These movies act on natural fears, and we are morbidly fascinated with horror.
It titilates the evil side of humanity, appeals to that innate darkness. We are repelled and sickened, while at the same time we find it somehow appealing. Hence, the flocking to the box office and the sky-high sales of such movies.
I can’t stand watching those kinds of movies. They touch darker parts of my mind that I would just as soon keep tucked safely away. I hate the way watching those kind of movies disrupts my psyche and my sleep for several nights afterward. I wish to avoid becoming desensitized to that sort of violence. I simply see no reason to subject myself to something that, so far as I can tell, has no benefits whatsoever. It fails to qualify even as mere entertainment.
I have never understood why anyone would want to watch blood, guts, and gore fly around the screen. If there are any good reasons why anyone, let alone Christians, should watch these kinds of films, I fail to see them.
I finally got to watch this movie tonight. I was expecting a cheesy ‘B’ movie and was, instead, pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing with a well-done action/comedy/romance. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie team up in this film to play assassins working for competing companies who discover each other’s secret. The ensuing action is fast-paced without being overdone and without destroying any semblance of plot. The dialogue is witty and hilarious, the scripting well-written, and the soundtrack outstanding. Acting is as much body language as delivering lines, and Pitt and Jolie are masters of their craft. Much of the communication between the two heroes was done through subtle facial expressions that left me either writhing with laughter or empathizing at their emotional plight, as they struggled to discover each other, even as they struggled for their lives.
Of course, with any shootout it is always amusing to note how little injury the heroes sustain. Hundreds of bullets fly through the air and nary a one inflicts any significant wound, either speeding past and around the heroes or impacting ‘harmlessly’ on their body armor. Pitt’s friend Eddie was also somewhat less than believable as a fellow assassin, providing only minimal comedy relief with his inane babbling about armchair psychology.
_Mr. & Mrs. Smith_ was a wholly enjoyable film, one that I watched twice and laughed out loud in all the same places both times. Despite the irony of trained assassins working to save their marriage, the message of commitment in the face of adversity was strong and heart-warming. Now, if only Pitt and Jolie can make it work in real life…
We live in a world that is driven primarily by the strength of its libido. Sexual stimuli surround us everywhere we look. Even the most mundane of daily activities, such as eating, are paired up
with images of eroticism, sex, and lust. Common knowledge says that sex sells, and it certainly must because nearly every product available in this capitalistic society of ours incorporates some sort of sexual imagery, either in its advertising or in the product itself or both. Our culture has so accepted and incorporated sexuality into the every mundanity of life that it has essentially thrown all caution to the wind and now exercises its proclivity for sexual activity far more freely than it ought. The consequences of this are the cheapening of the act of sexual intercourse itself and the diminishment of the moral will.
As a Christian man trying to live a righteous life, I continually find this trend extremely frustrating. Like nearly every man, I am easily aroused by the things I see. Oftentimes I wish it were not so, yet it is the way God made me, and it is something that I must face and deal with on a daily basis. This culture in which I am immersed makes living a pure life exceedingly difficult, as nearly every Christian male can attest. I can, in fact, count on just one hand the number of men I know, both Christian and non-Christian alike, who have not been affected by pornography. It is a medium for sexual arousal that has been made exceedingly prevalent, and the current trend of advertising, television programs, and movies only serve to whet the
male appetite for things that it should not desire outside of a healthy, Godly marriage relationship. Even the video game industry is not immune, and indeed, in many ways serves as an even greater purveyor of exotic images and sexual stimuli.
All this to say just one thing — we Christian men must strive with all our might to guard our hearts and minds against the onslaught of these stimuli to which we are so vulnerable. God calls us to righteous living and to roles of wise leadership, both in our families and in our communities. If we fail in the area of sexual temptation, we greatly weaken our ability to serve as the men we ought to be, as the men God desires us to be. Only in pursuing a deep, intimate relationship with God, in encouraging one another and keeping one another accountable, and in taking physical, practical steps to guard our hearts and minds can we ever hope to be as effective in our culture as we ought to be. The cost and heartache of failure are great,
but the joy and satisfaction of victory over weakness are immense!
So, I say this to you — do not wait until you have already fallen into sin to take steps to protect your hearts and minds. Take a proactive stance, develop that daily relationship with our Lord, find an accountability partner (or group), and set in place standards and barriers against the barrage of sexual stimuli that assault us each and every day. In the longrun, you’ll be glad you did.