Archive for the ‘TV/Movies’ Category

First Thoughts On: Charmed

January 4, 2017

So, right at the beginning of December, right before going on vacation, I stopped into the local HMV to look for deals on TV series on DVD, and picked up a few things. I bought “Wings”, the original “Beauty and the Beast”, and the original “Ghostbusters” soundtrack. I also managed to find two things that I had been looking for for ages: the “Top Gun” soundtrack … and, as should be evident from the title, the complete series of “Charmed”.

Now, Charmed was another one of those series that I had watched parts of out of most of the seasons of the entire series, but never really sat down and completely watched. I remembered it fondly, but couldn’t find a good deal on it anywhere, or at least one where the comments didn’t say “The glue might run and ruin it so you might have to send it back”. So seeing it there for a reasonable price — about $1 an hour of entertainment if I only watched it once — made me decide that, yeah, I should get it. And I started watching it.

So what do I think of it?

As the TV Tropes page says — and I’ll spare you the link to it — the first couple of seasons were much more melodramatic. I myself thought of them as more “soap operaish”, focusing on personal drama and relationship drama and less on the details of the warlocks and demons. To be honest, it had all of the melodrama and angst of the later Buffy seasons, only more so, which could grate at times. But once they started getting into the more serious supernatural arcs, it definitely improved, even if the themes mostly stayed the same … and migrated from character to character. For example, at the end of season four the Charmed Ones get a choice of changing their destiny and deciding whether to keep their powers or live a normal life. Piper from the start railed against not having a normal life, Phoebe always thought that the powers were the most wonderful things in the world, and the new witch Paige was just entering into it. It made sense that Paige would take over the “enthusiastic” part, since she had mostly experienced the excitement and power and less of the downsides of constantly being attacked. But the person who was most adamant that they should give up their powers was … Phoebe? And Piper was the swing vote, at least initially? Sure, you can argue that as the eldest sister (now) she wasn’t comfortable arguing that aggressively … except that she didn’t have any problem doing it, oh, for the rest of the season or even the rest of the episode. It would have worked best — even given the roles of the sisters — for Piper to push for returning to a normal life, Paige for keeping them, and Phoebe being torn: remembering how much she loved the powers but also noting how much heartache not being normal has caused everyone. And it would even have made it better that, if I recall correctly, she was the one who suggested looking further into the “witch hunter”, and then her line at the end that helping someone made her feel good, while keeping Piper’s line of making it unanimous while outvoted still make as much if not more sense. About the only thing it doesn’t do is allow for Piper to be just going along with what the others wanted the whole time … but as the swing vote she wasn’t doing that anyway. At best, she was going along with whatever Phoebe wanted, which if built upon would be creating a rift for later between her and Paige, which is not really what they’d want at this point after taking the entire season healing that rift.

That being said, I think it does mostly avoid “Aesop Amnesia”, mostly because the structure of the story, at least through Season 4, is such that they don’t really learn an aesop, but instead accept things. That, for example, Piper would accept that her life is not going to be normal but continue to have the desire for a normal life isn’t really “Aesop Amnesia”, but more reflects her frustrations boiling over at not being able to have what she really wants while understanding that there’s a higher purpose that she has to put first.

All of the main actresses are attractive and the show, to be honest, really wants to highlight that, which I don’t particularly mind. I’d classify it, so far, as a smarter and deeper supernatural “Charlie’s Angels”: Attractive people doing attractive things with a plot that lets them do the attractive things and keep your attention when the attractive things aren’t as prominent, except that the plots and characters are better and build on arcs. In a sense, it fits between a show like “Charlie’s Angels” and a show like “Buffy/Angel”: the plot details and characters are more detailed and can stand on their own more than the former, but it still has fanservice as more of the main appeal than the latter as the plots aren’t that strong. But it’s still entertaining.

It’s Magic …

November 23, 2016

Dinner, it turns me upside down
Dinner, dinner, dinner
It’s like a merry go round
I see it under the midnight
All steamers and bowls
High pans with the meat a sizzlin’
A tempermental glow

Oh, think it’s time to go
Oh, I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo tonight
Oh, I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo (I’m gonna have some spoo)
I’ll check

(Oh oh it’s magic) when I eat spoo (oh oh it’s magic)
(Oh oh it’s magic) just a little magic
You know it’s true
I’m gonna have some spoo

Oh, twisted under sideways down
I know I’m getting twisted
And I can’t calm down
I see it under the midnight
Love darts in my eyes
How far can I take it?
‘Till I realize
There’s magic in my eyes

I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo tonight
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
(I’m gonna have some spoo) yeah, yeah, uh

(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Oh oh, when I have spoo
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Just a little bit of the magic
Pulls me through
I’m gonna have some spoo

I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
(I’m gonna have some spoo)
Just try, it’s magic
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Oh oh, it’s magic
When I eat spoo (oh oh, it’s magic)

Just a little bit of magic inside of you (Oh oh, it’s magic)

Just a little bit of magic
That’s true, when I eat spoo
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
(It gotta be magic)
Your magic pulls me through
Oh oh, it’s magic
(Oh oh, it’s magic)

Why Can’t I Have Spoo?

November 16, 2016

I’ve been watching Babylon 5 and listening to The Cars lately, and it has inspired another song parody:

My dreamy lips, set in motion, flashing
Their breathless hush, poundin’ soft, lasting
Oh glossy mouth, a taste untamed, moving
Carousel, up and down
Just like spoo

Oh baby
Just one more time to touch spoo
Just one more time to eat spoo
It’s on my mind
Baby, why can’t I have spoo?
It’s breakin’ my heart in two
You know what I’m goin’ through
Oh baby, why can’t I have spoo?

Oh candy smile, all the while, glinting
Your eyes like mica, a lethal pout, hinting
(Felt the pressure)
Oh and I felt the pressure, tight and warm, softly striking
(Oh tripped and stumbled)
Oh I tripped and stumbled
I cling forever
I’ll eat tonight

Oh baby
Just one more time to touch spoo
Just one more time to eat spoo
I think I’m blind
Baby, why can’t I have spoo?
It’s breakin’ my heart in two
You know what I’m goin’ through
Uh oh baby, why can’t I have spoo?

(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?) why can’t I have spoo?
You know what I’m goin’ through
(It’s breakin’ my heart in two)
It’s breakin’ my heart, breakin’ my heart
(Don’t know what I’m gonna do)
(You’re breakin’ my heart) breakin’ my heart
(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?) I need spoo
(You know what I’m goin’ through)
It’s breakin’ my heart (it’s breakin’ my heart in two)
Oh baby, I need spoo so much, I need spoo, much
(Don’t know what I’m gonna do)
(You’re breakin’ my heart)
(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?)
(You know what I’m goin’ through)

What to Watch?

November 4, 2016

So, as I’m sure you’ve all heard me mention on a number of occasions, I’m insanely busy with work right now, a situation that isn’t likely to change all that much for at least another month. Because of this, I radically reworked and simplified my schedule to try to get work, housework, and other things I want to do in, which involved relying on, for example there being sports on TV on so that I could watch them while playing a game. And then I decided that maybe doing other things in that timeslot was as if not more important, shuffling things around a bit.

At any rate, all of this schedule shuffling left me with one issue to resolve that I’ve been kicking around for at least the past two months: what should I be watching in those brief moments when I have time to watch TV? Originally, I planned to use the time to watch some things on Shomi … at which point they promptly canceled the service. But I’ve been cycling through a number of DVDs in an attempt to find something that fits, which has been … unsuccessful.

The issue is that I have to balance differing time blocks with different requirements. My current main TV watching time is from about 7 pm – 8:30 pm in the evening, and it was this that I originally planned for. I started with shows like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, but there’s an issue with half-hour shows: I don’t want to have to select the next episode every 20 minutes, but if I put it on “Play All” in the evening time block I end up falling asleep and ending up waking up half-way through an episode, and not really wanting to stay up later to finish it. So, “Play All” is out. Except that the other main time block is when I’m playing games, and for those cases I really want to put it on “Play All”, so that if I’m engrossed in the action in a game when the episode ends I don’t have to remember to go to the next episode. So for the evening I want to select the episodes individually, and for playing games I want it to run automatically. But if the two don’t align, I might end up with, say, an episode left on the disk when I sit down to play games, which means that I’d have only one episode to get through before being forced to get up and change the disk, which isn’t ideal. And, also, if I’m half-way through a disk the “Play All” would require me to either watch the episodes I just watched again, or else skip ahead to the episodes that I haven’t.

So, ideally, I want a selectable, hour-long show in the evening and something that I can do “Play All” on for playing games. There’s also potentially while I’m eating, but that tends to have similar requirements to the evening selection, except that my time is definitely more flexible there. Now, in the past I simply had a different DVD for my evening watching and for when I’m playing games, but that was when I had more time to watch TV than I do now. Based on my current and future work schedule, it would take me months to get through one series, let alone two. I’m likely to distract myself with something else before finishing anything. On top of that, I have vacation time coming up in December, and there I might play games a lot more than I can or will watch TV in the evening, which would mean that watching that would dominate my watching … or maybe not. Still, it’d be really nice to use the same series when my TV watching is going to be so sporadic.

I’ve tried/considered:

Yu-Gi-Oh: The duels are what’s interesting, and thus falling asleep during episodes meant that I often missed the best part.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Needed a “Play All”, which meant I fell asleep in the middle of episodes, and it wasn’t interesting enough to just watch, which is nice for the times when I don’t feel like reading anymore but don’t feel like going to sleep.

Get Smart: Fell asleep in the middle of episodes.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Doesn’t have a “Play All”.

Charlie’s Angels: Got distracted by something else. Don’t really want to have this be the only thing I’m watching for six months.

Buck Rogers: Got distracted by something else. Not as generally good as the other options.

Smallville: Nine seasons are too long.

Sliders: Could work.

Quantum Leap: Could work.

Married … With Children: Thanks, TV Tropes! But it’s a half hour show.

Angel/Buffy: No “Play All”.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: No “Play All”.

New BSG: Repeat episodes are annoying in the evening, and would shift the episode list too much.

V: Too short.

Old BSG: Too short.

Friday the 13th: The Series: Alhough I was enjoying it, I didn’t want it to be the only TV I was watching for the next few months.

Right now, considering that I was likely going to be watching this through December as well, the current choice is … Babylon 5. Because, heck, I might as well go back to my Christmas tradition, hope to get through it by the end of the year, and then figure out a new schedule when things are back to normal in January. We’ll see how this goes.

Thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse

November 2, 2016

So, I recently watched the latest X-Men movie, and as a long-time X-Man all I can say is that I was very, very disappointed in it and it might well be the worst of the X-Men movies, at least in my opinion.

Since this is a relatively recent movie, my thoughts on it will be below the fold:

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Pop Culture Speculation: How Marvel Got Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Spider-man “Back”

October 26, 2016

So, Marvel recently managed to get the rights to use Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in their Avengers movies, and also managed to get the rights to use Spider-man in their movies with a tighter relationship with Sony. I have some speculations on how they managed to do that.

The key is that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have generally been better known in the comics as Avengers than as mutants. Sure, they have the relationship with Magneto and have been in the Brotherhood at various times, but most of their main storylines were as Avengers. I suspect that Marvel argued that while they don’t have the rights to X-Men characters, they have the rights to the Avengers, and thus characters that were in the Avengers are fair game in, at least, Avengers stories. Fox could have argued that, but since these two characters were well-known as Avengers and less so as X-Men, this was the case that, if they were going to lose it, they would, and losing the case might result in a broader interpretation than they liked. So they let it go, and made sure they put Quicksilver in the next X-Men movie to maintain their right to use those characters even if they were also in the Avengers.

Now, Spider-man has actually been an Avenger for quite some time now, and so I suspect that they went to Sony and made the same argument. Sony would have had a better case for claiming that Spider-man is better known as a solo hero than as an Avenger … but they also didn’t have any team affiliation for Spider-man either, which would lead to the argument that Marvel can use him in a team and they only have his solo rights. Since Spider-man isn’t an X-Man, that doesn’t leave Fox with an opening to argue that they can thus use him, too. Sony also isn’t knocking Spider-man out of the park and isn’t competing as much with Marvel over this stuff, and so likely decided that playing ball and getting the free promotion from Marvel was worth more than they’d get from fighting it, and so gave in.

The evidence for this is that recently Marvel has started adding more and more mutant characters to other teams, particularly the Avengers, and downplayed the X-Men. Kitty Pryde was also with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a while. Deadpool joined the Avengers. They had an entire mixed X-Men/Avengers team for a while. All of these seem aimed at one thing: associating X-Men characters with the Avengers so that Marvel can claim that they can use them in Avengers storylines.

Now, the most interesting character in this is actually Wolverine. He joined up with the Avengers at about the same time as Spider-man … before Marvel started having success with their own movies. Thus, an argument that they just added the character there to get around the Fox rights to the X-Men won’t really fly (like it would for the others). But Wolverine is clearly an X-Man first and foremost. It’ll be interesting to see if Marvel tries to get Wolverine into the Avengers movies, and if Fox will let them get away with that.

Anyway, just speculation. I have no inside knowledge and even lack a lot of outside knowledge here, but it seems to work for me.

First Thoughts on Friday the 13th, The Series

October 21, 2016

So, I was actually looking at commentary on one of the early Friday the 13th video games, and ended up being reminded of an old TV show Friday the 13th, the series. I then managed to pick it up on Amazon, and have started watching it when baseball isn’t on (essentially, 1 – 2 episodes an evening). So far, I’m through the first two disks of the first season, and am actually enjoying it.

The pilot episode was, well, a bit rough. The plot didn’t have the oomph and detail of later episodes, and the acting was stilted in places. About the only thing it had going for it was that it featured an early role for Sarah Polley, who might well have turned in the best performance out of the entire cast. But, overall, the pilot wasn’t a particularly good episode.

However, the episodes I’ve seen after that have gotten a lot better. The acting has improved, but the best part is how all of the primary characters — Jack, Ryan and Micki — have fit in together and formed some good chemistry. In the first episode, the various roles weren’t really clear, but now we pretty much know where everyone fits: Jack is the, well, Jack-of-All-Trades and usually the person who explains the history and significance of the objects, Ryan does the heavy physical lifting and is the joker, and Micki is, at least in the early episodes, the person who doesn’t really want to be doing this, and who is probably the most freaked out by all of it — Jack has the experience and Ryan seems to find it cool — but who overcomes that to live up to her responsibility. She also shows herself to be quite clever at times, even if she falls into the damsel in distress role a few times.

And all of them relate to each other pretty much the way they ought to. They clearly care about each other, tease each other, and annoy each other at pretty much the right times. Their performances seem to almost always reflect that, even when they’re dealing with other things.

There are times when the dialogue and performances are still stilted and awkward, but it’s a great improvement over the pilot. Sometimes the plots move far too quickly and you end up at the end of the episode missing the development of, well, everything. But overall, it’s an entertaining show, and I’m enjoying watching it.

Thoughts on “Civil War”

October 14, 2016

So, I recently managed to watch “Captain America: Civil War”. My thoughts on it will contain spoilers, so I’ll put it below the fold:

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Last Shomi Movies

October 3, 2016

So, I had started watching some movies on shomi right before learning that it was ending, and so I figured I’d talk a bit about them before moving on to other ways of occasionally watching movies.

Anyway, the last set were: “Weird Science”, “Airplane!”, “Delirious” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”. I’m not going to talk about that last one since I really like it and watch it regularly, so there’s no new impression for me to talk about. But the other three I either hadn’t watched in a while or had never watched, and so my recent impressions of them might be interesting.

Now, I’m not the target audience for “Weird Science”, but that hasn’t stopped me before … and I did remember the TV show at least a bit fondly, so I thought it would be worth a try. I didn’t even finish watching it, which is rare for me while watching movies. The big problem was that none of the characters were actually sympathetic. Lisa and Wyatt were the most appealing of the bunch, but even they had their “jerk” moments. I quit when Lisa replied to the other guy’s parents question of “Do you go to school with him?” with a snarky “Do I look like I’m in high school?”. For the most part, the put-upon “nerds” acted about as badly as the people they were going up against, and even the potential love interests were too shallow and self-interested to be interesting. Maybe it all got subverted later, but being barely able to tolerate Lisa and Wyatt did not make for interesting viewing.

“Airplane!”, on the other hand, was much more interesting. It definitely went for the “take this serious thing very seriously while being absolutely ridiculous most of the time”, and it worked given the actors they had, most of whom could pull off being overly and melodramatic really well. The very serious reactions to utterly insane premises and situations resulted in a more subtle parody of the genre. The only downside is that the end was a bit boring because it’s hard to make jokes that work in that tense a situation. Also, the camp gay character was out of place and not particularly funny, at least in my opinion.

I had watched “Delirious” before and had enjoyed it, but watching it this time was a disappointment. The concept of a writer ending up in his own story and being able to change it while being opposed by another writer was interesting, but not properly explored. Mariel Hemingway’s character was one that I liked, but the ending where John Candy’s character gets her the job and then gets a date with her didn’t work for me because the only thing she knew about him was that he ran into her and got her the job, and he didn’t know much about her either as he mostly fell in love with her on the basis of her character in the story, not on the basis of her real personality. This problem also carried over to his rejection of Emma Samms’ character, as in the real world it was equally consistent with her character for her to be someone who uses other people or an overprivileged and immature person who is just used to people doing things for her, but who genuinely liked him in some way (even if not as a romantic interest). The latter didn’t justify what John Candy’s character did to her, and the former was established in the soap, not in real-life. Add in that it was a bit boring at times and this was not a good a movie as I remembered.

Anyway, those are my last shomi movies. We’ll see if I find something to replace it any time soon.

Shomi nothing ..

September 30, 2016

I heard from my manager yesterday, and had it confirmed from a number of sources, that the Internet streaming service shomi is going to shut down at the end of November. Which I actually had and recently talked about, so that’s a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s even more of a disappointment for me since I actually recently started watching some movies on Friday and Saturday nights, and shomi gave me ready access to shorter movies that I hadn’t seen or hadn’t seen in a while but wanted to watch.

So, as one of the roughly 500,000 people who actually paid for the service, what did I think of it? Well, for me, the biggest impression I had of it was that it was a service that I paid for but didn’t watch all that often, but at roughly $10 a month it was worth it for the times when I did watch it. Even if you count in the two full years, just watching Doctor Who alone (twice) would cover the cost of the DVDs for that one series, and I also got to watch “What I Like About You”, “Ned’s Newt”, “X-Men Evolution”, “The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo” and some movies. Just renting the few movies I watched would cost me as much as the monthly fee, for the most part. I was pondering dropping it, but every time I thought about it it always came back to the idea that it was cheap enough to keep around for those times when I wanted to watch something on it.

That being said, I found that its selection — especially for TV shows — was a bit slim, and most damningly at least the set-top software was buggy as heck (I only ever used the set-top for it). I can easily see someone having to balance Netflix, Crave TV and shomi deciding that shomi was the more expensive and less useful of the three, and ditching it.

So, I’ve cancelled my subscription because I’m not going to watch it enough in the next two months to justify keeping it, and I’m not that likely to be interested in whatever they automatically move it to — see my issues with comics on that — so I’d rather have that $20 back. But the big question, then, is what do I do now? Do I sign up for Netflix or Crave TV? The problem is that I don’t want to watch either on my computer and don’t want to set things up so that I can run them on my TV directly (the reasons for which amused my manager. I think.). So the main reason I had shomi in the first place was because I could get it from the set-top box, and my main frustration with it was how that, in a lot of cases, didn’t work at all. Netflix and Crave TV aren’t even there, and aren’t likely to be. I definitely liked being able to watch movies and TV shows without renting or having to buy the DVDs, but I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle of setting things up so that I can do that (points mentioned in the discussion included Chromecast, Wi-Fi, and a router. I’m not convinced it’s worth it for me to set all of that up just for that).

So I’ll definitely miss shomi, but don’t really think I’ll miss it that much that I’ll feel the need to replace it. And since I was one of the customers where the competitors were no where near as good an option, that might well explain why shomi didn’t really succeed.