Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Doctor Who

Wasn't Alex Kingston wonderful in "Silence in the Library"! And I love her name: Dr. River Song. It's great to see her having fun after all those years of grumpiness in ER.
I have to say that the last few Dr. Whos have been so much fun. And with actual tension and surprise. Part of the fun is the sparkle the girls have added. Like Georgia Moffett as the Doctor's daughter Jenny (episode "The Doctor's Daughter"). How much you want to bet she's another spin off? Initially, I was a little disappointed to find out Jenny was a genetic clone thing -- I was hoping some of the Doctor's relatives were finally going to start appearing. After all, the original Dr. Who had his granddaughter. That means he also had at least one daughter or son. And maybe a wife? And parents?

"Silence in the Library" had several enjoyable elements, like the way the brain waves remain for a short while in the transmitters. The little girl who turns out to be the security system for the library. The Doctor being so clueless to who River is and being so upset about it. For the first time in a long time, I actually wanted to know what was going to happen next. It certainly hit all my buttons. I hope the writer of the episode, Steven Moffat, writes a lot more! Great use of technology exploration -- true sci fi, if you know what I mean. Just one thing -- enough with the corporate villains!

I've also been impressed by the roster of stars that have been appearing this season. Not just Alex Kingston, but Felicity Kendal and Fenella Woolgar. Someone really appreciates girl power. Is Dr. Who becoming the next Midsomer Murders?

I hate to spread rumors, but I can't help myself. Seems David Tennant romances a lot of the women who appear in Dr. Who, including Georgia Moffett. Who would have thought he was such a real-life Casanova (of course he played Casanova in a pretty bad movie version -- I'm so tempted to write my own version because they've all stunk to high hell)! He does have a great sparkle in his eyes. I've been a fan since seeing him in He Knew He Was Right (he was superb in The Chatterley Affair). In fact, when I heard Christopher Eccleston was the new Doctor, I screamed, "You've got to be kidding! They should get David Tennant!" Well, strangely, I ended up liking Eccleston as the Doctor and not really enjoying Tennant because with Rose, the Doctor was just a giggling juvenile fool. I mean, if I'd been Queen Victoria, I'd have established an agency to eradicate David Tennant too. But without Rose, and with Donna, Tennant is much more watchable. Of course, he's leaving ...

I just hope Alex Kingston comes back again and again. Too bad Time Lords don't change gender. She'd be a fantastic Doctor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Middleman

Entertainment Weekly recommended that I watch it, so I did. Boy, was it a painful start. Stilted dialogue, blind acting. It sort of had the air of "Gee, I wonder if anyone will really buy this pilot." But slowly, things did pick up and get better. The setup or the plot doesn't really matter. The show is based on the comics of Javier Grillo-Marxuach and it's a kind of Men in Black must-stop-the-weird-stuff-and-protect-humanity action show. According to the Wiki article, the comic book series was intended to be a television series but got hijacked into a comic book series and is now a television series. On ABC Family. Makes sense to me. From the Wiki article I get the idea that Grillo-Marxuach wanted to cram in as much stuff as he could from every TV show and movie he ever liked. Okay, that's fun, until you trip on the zillionth cultural reference and you wonder, hey, where's the show? Is there a show?

What they did right was in the casting. Natalie Morales as Wendy Watson and Matt Keeslar as The Middleman are fun to watch and even have a bit of chemistry together. And boy, can Natalie deliver rapid-fire dialogue. But what's with the dialogue? You've got the rapid-fire delivery of a 30s screwball comedy with the inane content of a 60s adventure series like Batman. But what you don't have is the sophistication and wit of the 30s screwball comedy nor the languid, sultry rhythms of the 60s shows like The Avengers so it's like taking a bite out of a blueberry-arugula muffin.

The Middleman can get a lot worse or a lot better. I hope it gets a lot better. But it needs something more, something unique that has the potential to become a cultural reference of its own. Otherwise it's just a visual card catalog.

I think you can still watch the pilot at the ABC Family website.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Battlestar Galactic Yawn

Last episode, there was this great scene -- great because of the potential. Baltar is yakking away at a pretty beleaguered looking Cylon centurion -- trying to get the poor thing all riled up with his crap about hierarchy and god -- and I thought, wouldn't it be great if the writers actually did something interesting and fun, like having the centurion tilt his head, raise his metal claw, and slowly choke the words out of Baltar until he was dead. No more droning Baltar! Yeah! I was actually excited.

That didn't happen. But the ship did blow a wall and Baltar was down for the count. And I thought, okay, that's good enough for me. A senseless death. Not so fun as the Cylon choking Baltar, but I could live with it.

That didn't happen. But for one moment, Laura decides to let him bleed to death. And I thought, okay. Not as interesting or as fun or as senseless, but I can live with it.

That didn't happen. Baltar lives. The episodes continue. I'm really regretting that the Cylons didn't obliterate the humans in season two.

This season, every character is tedious. Even the explosions are tedious. The dead cat is tedious. I don't care anymore who the secret Cylons are. Every time someone dies, I think, hooray! One less grimacing oh-Zeus-life-really-sucks face I have to look at. And what's with turning Battlestar into John Adams? And look, writers, teasing people with Baltar's death and Laura's potential Cylon-ness will only get you kicked in the ass. Just because this is the last season doesn't mean you guys can get away with it. Have some class, people. Or at least some pride.