“Asylum of the Daleks” was a fascinating insight into how Moffat views women. Or it would have been, if Moffat hadn’t made the point a thousand times already.
The weekend brought us the return of Steven Moffat’s fixation on mothers in ‘Aslyum of the Daleks.’ The Doctor Who creator cannot seem to tear himself away from this theme, circling around it over and over again in a variety of ways. One wonders how he finds new territory to explore when he’s already gone over it so thoroughly.
With its nuanced depictions of politics, spirituality, diversity and solidarity, its rich characterisations and inspiration from ‘Eastern’, Avatar: TLAB presents a vision for an alternative I didn’t know I was looking for.
The first season of Legend of Korra, the follow-up to the ground-breaking animated show Avatar: the Last Airbender (2005-2008), ended just last month. Episodes were aired on TV in the U.S. and webcast on the Nickelodeon website for U.S. viewers, but you could also not be one and still get to keep up if you had a reasonably fast internet connection.
You know you’re in trouble when you start to root for the stake.
My response thus far to the fifth season of True Blood on HBO has been one of overwhelming ennui. The show appears to have long-ago passed its ‘use by’ date, and right now it’s skulking in the back of the refrigerator, waiting for someone to notice and throw it out. Until then, we all need to suffer through the mysterious smell of unknown origins permeating our television sets on Sunday evenings.
Prometheus is Scott’s 2001–the philosophical quest for the meaning of life. Rather than just a prequel or reboot of the Alien franchise, Prometheus is far more arresting when read as a voyage of discovery into the frail mortality of a rich and powerful filmmaker like Scott.
The familiar unfamiliar. Stem cells of a universe encoded in our DNA over 30-year period are about to grow in a new direction. A biomechanical mutation in 3 dimensions groans and cracks under the pressure of human anticipation. Slime and mucus coarse through our veins as ancient myth is appropriated to give weight to a modern one.
Prometheus stole fire from the gods but will this digital Titan steal the flames of our memory? That close up of the dead pilot’s eye in “Alien” was so haunting, so unexplained that it left a Stygian darkness clawing at our subconscious. Does “Prometheus” have the right to prise open some of these dark doors and cast light on the unknown or is Ridley Scott a spiteful father ruining our childhood fantasies and terrors?
There’s nothing to make Alcatraz stand out so far from among other offerings in the field.
J. J. Abrams returned to television on Fox this week with Alcatraz, a crime thriller that manages to be surprisingly mundane, given the premise and the creative team behind it. The pilot informed us that 1963, 256 prisoners disappeared from Alcatraz, along with a group of guards. In the present day, they’re back for revenge, ruthless, not having aged a day, and unstoppable by ordinary law enforcement officers; who would think to suspect someone in their 80s for a series of brutal homicides?
Abrams is infamous for labyrinthine plotting complete with endless series of double and triple crossing storylines, and he promised a more straightforward storyline with Alcatraz. He may have gone too simple; from the premise, the show weakly suggests that a special task force was forewarned and is on a mission to round up the escaped prisoners, restoring safety and justice to the streets of San Francisco. Boom, we’re done, apparently.
Doctor Who fans are not likely to be disappointed by “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe”
Doctor Who fans around the world were far more interested in the landfall of this year’s Christmas special, ‘The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe,’ than they were in the progress of NORAD Tracks Santa, which is incidentally perhaps one of the best defense-related uses of my tax dollars I can possibly imagine. They gathered ‘round their televisions (or torrents) with glee, made sure their beverage containers were fully supplied, and prepared to settle in for a dose of winter magic on the BBC. They were not disappointed.
The new season premiere of The Walking Dead felt like a faded imitation of the more cinematic first season.
AMC kicked off its two week-long Fear Fest event on Sunday night with the hotly anticipated season two premiere of The Walking Dead, the zombie apocalypse hit that’s been released to critical acclaim almost across the board. A record 7.3 million viewers tuned in for the airing, setting a new benchmark for cable dramas. I can only conclude it got such high ratings because 7.3 million people fell asleep before they had a chance to turn off their televisions, felled by sheer boredom.
Embassytown is unabashedly an intellectual exercise, bursting with ideas.
When China Miéville’s The City and the City won the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2010, there was some debate over whether or not the book was really science fiction. With his new book there can be no doubt. The City and the City was a crime novel set in a fictional part of Eastern Europe: Embassytown is set on another planet.
Arieka (the planet upon which the city of Embassytown is located) is home to a race of aliens known to Terran settlers as “the Hosts” or the Ariekei. What they look like is never very clear. Miéville’s previous books have often contained creatures that cannot be adequately described except through fleeting glimpses – notably the Slake Moths of Perdido Street Station and the Grindylows of The Scar. We do know that the Hosts have “fanwings” which aid in communication, and that they have two mouths.
Falling Skies is fundamentally a narrative of resistance to colonialism and the celebration of insurgency, but it does not challenge viewers to make connections between the real world and the fictional one before them.
US network TNT has dipped some toes into the science fiction waters with Falling Skies, a post-apocalyptic narrative set in the United States after an alien invasion. The aliens have settled in for an extended stay, killing all the humans they can get their hands on except for a small labour force of enslaved children, and our heroes represent the gallant resistance, fighting back against colonialism and striking blows for freedom. Just in case anyone missed the heavy-handed metaphorical references to the American Revolution, the central character of the piece is a former history professor who makes sure to bring up Revolutionary battles at every opportunity.
The show is, in two words, absolutely terrible; painfully overproduced and overacted, filled with swelling dramatic music that spurts periodically across the screen for no apparent reason, immensely clunky and wooden plotting. We can perhaps attribute this overwrought feel to the involvement of Steven Spielberg as executive producer, because it is a show that seems to be trying for a grand cinematic scale, but failing miserably because of budget limitations. You can practically hear the backdrops rustling in the wind as our characters look towards the battered skyline of Boston and pledge to return to wipe out their colonizers.
Remember taring at those magical “Hawkwind” and “Yes” covers, wondering what kind of movies they’d make?
We have lived long enough to witness the second coming of JC. No, not that one. The one with the shorter beard. James Cameron, that is. He can’t walk on water, but he’s bringing us the next best thing: “Avatar.”
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