Friday, September 30, 2005

Deep Space Nine Round 5

It has been some time since I've returned to good ol' Terok Nor (die-hard Trekkers should get that one) and posted some Deep Space Nine thoughts, so I figured I'd squeak some in now that I'm on a somewhat regular posting schedule again.

If you recall, the last batch of episodes I reviewed were pretty uninspiring. The momentum that the season had built up to that point was brought to an abrupt halt by misfires like 'Move Along Home' and 'The Vortex'. With the next batch of three, however, we see that those episodes were merely mid-season fumblings. With 'Battle Lines' DS9 gets back on track (at least for the nonce) and returns to the strong characters and situations that really punctuated early eps.

Battle Lines (1x13): Now, this episode had me hooked the second Camille Saviola walked on screen. Her character, Kai Opaka, was pretty interesting in 'Emissary' and I had been looking forward to her return to the show. As the spiritual centre of the Bajoran culture, her presence pretty much guaranteed some of the religious conflict/discourse that I find to be one of the linchpins for the series. I was also looking forward to seeing her matched up with Sisko again since their previous meeting was handled so well.

I wasn't disappointed.

The basic premise of the episode revolves around the Kai arriving on DS9 and wanting to go through the wormhole, also known as the Celestial Temple of the Prophets. Sisko, Kira, Bashir and the Kai grab themselves a runabout and head for the Gamma Quadrant. While exploring on the other side of the galaxy their runabout is attacked and the group manage crash land only to find themselves marooned on a prison planet. The inmates there had arranged themselves into two groups and were at war with each other, striking at the other's camp whenever the opportunity presented itself. The catch in their particular situation is that the conflict has been going on for a very long time since they can't die as long as they reside on the prison planet (something to do with nanomachines, or something). The only way out of their neverending cycle of violence is to come to terms with their hatred and find a better path.

At its heart, the show is about the Kai and creates a situation that essentially serves to write her out of the show, but it is also very much about Kira. Like the prisoners, she has lived a violent life since childhood and the episode takes a moment to question whether or not she can move beyond her past and use her energy for other purposes as well.

If you've followed these commentaries at all, you know that my favourite aspects of DS9 are the politics, the religion/mysticism dynamic, and the interpersonal relationships, for better or worse. In 'Battle Lines' we get a little bit of all of the above..

I also wanted to note that the story for this episode was by a writer I really enjoy, the late Hilary J. Bader.

The Storyteller (1x14): Another decent episode, this one focusing on Bashir and O'Brien. Bashir is on a medical mission to Bajor and O'Brien is pretty much there to fly the runabout for him. They go to a village to help an old man called a Sirah whose duty is to ward off a creature that menaces his village. Upon his death, he names O'Brien his successor and the shenanigans begin.

The plot of this episode leaves something to be desired and it is certainly not a favourite of most fans of DS9 but somehow it doesn't detract too much from my enjoyment of it. Part of it may be because of the production values - which are pretty great when you see the village all laid out with all the extras and stuff - but likely a big part of it was watching the budding friendship between Bashir and O'Brien begin to develop. What I like about these two characters together is that it is not an instant buddy-match, like where everyone on the Enterprise is best friends and plays poker every Friday, but a more realistic depiction of a friendship and working relationship in the Trek universe.

From readinf the Deep Space Nine Logbook I know the producers felt that this was a plot heavy show and not exactly what they were aiming for on the show, but I think it is far from a failure and ultimately watchable and entertaining.

Progress (1x15): 'Progress' is probably the best of the bunch being the most well-rounded and well written episode of the three. The gist of the story is that the Bajoran government is about to perform a massive energy transfer by tapping the molten core of its fifth moon, Jeraddo, to supply power for those parts of Bajor that are in need. This causes a problem because one small group of settlers on Jeraddo refuse to leave and it forces Kira to come to terms with some things about her character and her life.

She starts off the episode trying to force these folks off Jeraddo like the government demands, but when they refuse, she begins to sympathise with their plight. Kira finds what these people are going through to be somewhat similar to the sort of tyrranical oppression she fought as part of the Bajoran resistance. She doesn't like being pushed around, she doesn't like seeing her, or anyone else's, freedoms being taken away. By the end of the episode she comes to realise (with a little help from the ever wise and eternally patient Sisko) that whether she likes it or not, she is this person now. This is the life and path she chose and it comes with certain responsibilities and drawbacks that she has to learn to live with. Ultimately, no matter how much she wants to help, she also has a job to do.

Very nicely done.

And with that I'm going to bring this particular entry to a close. It's always good to go out on a high note, don't you think? Anyway, when I find a little bit of time to watch more episodes I'll cobble together another DS9 Thoughts. So, until then...


Stalking the New Kolchak has a small bit on the new Night Stalker series which premiered last night on ABC.

Being a fan of Kolchak and of The X-Files, I naturally tuned in to see what Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz had to say on the subject and I've yet to fully form any real opinions other than 'it has potential'. I like Stuart Townsend and think he does a decent job of playing the lead. Given time I think he could really sink into the role. The other cast members were forgettable but I'll reserve judgment on them until they start to get on my nerves (and I think Gabrielle Union just might). The plot was OK, but it was just a Pilot episode and I've learned to keep my expectations for pilot's low. I can barely watch the pilots now for many shows that I dearly love, so I'm not reading into Night Stalker at all at this point.

Three is the magic number, so three it will be. I give them that many episodes to impress me, even just a bit and I'll sign on for a whole season.

I do find it to be an interesting sidenote that ABC pretty much demanded to know the 'end' of the mythology arc before greenlighting it, though.

Anyway, early response to the show seems positive but we'll see how things pan out.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Anime Kind of Week

I'm not really a big anime fan. I loved Cowboy Bebop and enjoy Samurai Champloo but I don't devour the stuff in anywhere near the kinds of numbers that most anime fans do. So I was a bit surprised with myself when I bought the first volume of Serial Experiments: Lain at Wal-Mart the other day for $6.88. I'd heard some good things about the show and it would've cost me $5 to rent it if I wanted to try it out anyway so I threw caution to the wind and took the plunge.

It was a good choice, I think. I'm a few episodes in and I'm enjoying it so far. It's nicely paced and beautifully designed. The use of colour and negative space is just brilliant and when the two are combined it's a stunning effect. The story is slow moving but the atmosphere is thick and I'm curious to see more. Volume 2 was there as well so I think I'm going to go snatch that one up as soon as I can.

Next up, anime-wise, is the discovery of the Cowboy Bebop trading figures. I've seen these for other characters and other shows, but my devotion to all things Bebop required me to try and snag a Spike or Faye figure. I carefully weighed the boxes in my hands to try and get the right character density, put back the one I was sure was Jet and bought the one I was convinced would be a Spike figure.

It wasn't Spike, of course, but it was Faye and that's just fine with me. Aside from the dog Ein, they're my two favourite characters from the show so it's not like I missed out or anything. She's actually pretty cool. She's in a reclining position and looks kind of relaxed and very Faye-like. You can probably see in the picture so I'll stop wasting time and space describing it.

Last on my trek thorugh the world of anime, I managed to stumble across the Planetes DVDs, and reasonably priced, at that. I read the manga based on a reccommend from The Johnny Bacardi Show and really enjoyed it, so when I found out there was an animated version I heartily sought it out. I can't afford to even think about picking them up but I'm going to log those in the 'What to Suggest for Presents' file since the 'Things to Get When I'm Gainfully Employed with Disposable Income' file is getting a bit long.

Anyway, I have to change and get my kid to Irish dance practice so I'll leave you with those thoughts.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Iron man Joins the Carnivale

I'm not sure whether or not to be interested in this. Getting Daniel Knauf to pen six issues of Iron Man sounds kinda neat on the surface, but what does it really mean and who really cares?

A quick swipe of some plot details from the press release linked to above states:

The exhilarating storyline will feature a string of high-visibility assassinations, prompting an intense investigation by Tony Stark (Iron Man’s alter ego), as the killer appears to be employing the armor and weapons of Iron Man.

Sound familiar? Well it should. I think this has pretty much been the standard Iron Man storyline for the last 25 years. I think there were two Stark Wars storylines dedicated to roughly the same themes when Michelinie and Layton were on the book many years ago, and it seems like anyone who comes on and thinks they're going to make Tony fresh again either makes the armour sentient/hostile or they send people after him who want to use his technology for bad things.

Knauf's Carnivale is certainly one of the more unique looking things on television today, but what can he really do with Iron Man to make people care? I'm afraid this stinks of a vanity project and another attempt by Marvel to convince people to buy and read comics because people from 'real' media - like television and films - are writing them. It worked so well with Zimmerman.

Wait and see, I guess.



Despite being a huge INXS fan for a good chunk of the '80s and '90s, I avoided the Mark Burnett created Rockstar INXS not wanting to subject myself to yet another Idol like 'pick-the-singer' show. I actually even questioned whether or not this was an appropriate way to choose the new frontman for the band and was sleptical that I would bother to check out their new album when they finally did. I know there are a lot of talented people that make it on these shows. American Idol and Canadian Idol have both showcased some very good singers but there is still something about the process that I find a bit undignified and it tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth more often than not.

Still, I will admit to watching the final episode which was rerun here last Sunday. I wasn't looking for it, but after I'd heard that J.D. Fortune was the new singer I realised that I knew nothing about him, including how his voice sounded. I tried to find something I could download but had no luck on that front. My wife e-mailed me and said he did a really good rendition of 'Mystify' and that he was a good Michael Hutchence sound-alike, all things considered. Still, my search left me with dead links and just a little bit of frustration.

So, when I saw it listed on the TV program menu for Sunday evening, the wife and I decided we should watch. See if this Fortune kid has the chops to fill Hutchence's shoes and, more importantly, see if we would bother buying the album in November.

It was actually a semi-interesting show, to be perfectly honest. While sitting there watching I did question whether or not I should have been tuning in all summer, but I have a feeling that if I had to sit through all the hopefulls I might not have made it to the finale. As it is, Fortune was really quite good and I firmly believe that he either really did his homework for this show or he was channelling the late Hutchence during his rendition of 'What You Need'. I also liked his lead on the new single (the title of which eludes me at the moment) even though I think the song lacks something in the hook department.

There was one moment where I worried that an album written completely bereft of Hutchence's influence might be something of an albatross, but then I recalled that it was Andrew Farris who did the bulk of the songwriting on previous INXS efforts anyway, so Michael or no Michael, it should at least sound like the band I used to know and love - even moreso now with J.D. fronting them.

Just as an aside, my wife found it amusing that when the band, who hails from Australia, chose their new frontman, they chose a Canadian, essentially keeping some good ol' Commonwealth flavour to the band.

Anyway, the good news in all of this is that I think INXS may have just bought themselves a new lease on life. The show (which I still think was a little silly) raised their profile a bit so that they don't release their new album into a vacuum and has even built up some anticipation for the new CD - at least among the ranks of hungry INXS fans.

Best of luck to them and J.D.

You can preview the new track 'Pretty Vegas' here.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Millennial Abyss

I wanted to mention something that I forgot to add to my linkblog yesterday. Apparently, Lance Henriksen has gotten back on the bandwagon to encourage Chris Carter and FOX to do a Millennium movie. I don't know the circumstances surrounding the comment, although I'm sure SciFi was interviewing him about the Season 3 DVDs, but I think there are a lot of people who would be interested in seeing this. Heck, I asked this question to Chris Carter's face at ComiCon 2000 and even he expressed enthusiasm to do it - probably still would, too. And I know that Lance is getting on in years since shooting the show, but I think the fan base would be there to watch Frank Black tackle the darkness one more time.

Still, when you think about it, it's hard not to let the cynic in you take over in situations like this. I mean, the X-Files sequel has yet to get moving so I doubt that we'll see a Millennium flick anytime soon.

Just thinking out loud.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday LinkBlog Returns

I just went down to the post office and mailed off a cheque for $130 to pay off the speeding ticket that I received while vacationing in Calgary about a month ago. Needless to say, I'm not in the best of moods. As a result, I am going to forego any thoughtful musings for the day (which I had planned) and bring back the somewhat regular Monday linkblog to free me of the burden of being interesting.

DVD details for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith have been confirmed, according to The other DVDs from this Prequel Trilogy have been excellent from a feature and commentary standpoint, so I'm really looking forward to having this one in my collection as well.

Vicky Hallett, writing for, does a nice (albeit brief) interview with Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane. You know, when I look at a picture of Seth I can't help thinking he looks a little like new INXS frontman J.D. Fortune. Is it just me?

David Cronenberg sounds off for on his new flick, History of Violence, an adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel of the same name. I haven't seen this one yet but I am really looking forward to it. has this short piece with actor Keanu Reeves in which Reeves talks a bit about the possibility (or impossibility) of a Constantine sequel. I thought it was good reading.

A little bit on the old side, but this Gorillaz article from makes mention of their next single ('Dirty Harry') and their touring plans. There's been a lot of speculation as to what exactly the Gorillaz are going to do this time around and this piece sort of clears the air a bit.

I know it's kinda goofy to be mentioning this one at all, but there's a new Scooby-Doo video game for XBOX and other platforms that looks like it might be pretty fun. The screenshots I've seen are pretty sharp and the voice cast is apparently there as well. I've been looking for a game other than Buffy to let my kids play. I'm looking forward to snagging this one up sometime.

And last, but not least, a decent V For Vendetta article courtesy of The Seattle Times.

As always, I'll try and come on again later if time, and my state of mind, permit.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sitting Around Watching AvP

Like the title says, I'm watching AvP on Movie Central as I type this. It would appear that the movie is not as fun as I remember it being when I first saw it in the theatre. I distinctly recall it being a fun romp like Jurassic Park III where it was just a bunch of CG monsters and make-ups beating the crap out of each other for a while. I know JP3 has its detractors, but when that T-Rex started scrapping with the Spinosaurus, I was a happy camper. Maybe I just have to be in the mood.

Anyway, on the Jozic-front, there's not a lot happening and a lot happening. I know those two statements are in conflict with one another but they're pretty much true. I'm not sure how to articulate that in any sensible way, so I'll just leave it at that and maybe get to a more explanatory post later on.

I did a little more work on that sit-comey idea with my brother, and just may add to that tonight since he's coming over to watch Family Guy. We sort of have a framework for a pilot, it's just a matter of making it really funny, or at least as funny as we think it can be.

I've also been on a Planet of the Apes kick since I took the 35th anniversary DVD out of the library. I'm going to post further on that one for sure because I've also dug out my DHC POTA comics and they're worth mentioning, particularly Paco Medina's work.

That's all for now.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Andi Watson, I presume

Yeah, it's a lame title, but the best Watson pop culture quote/reference I could think of to butcher.

Anyway, I managed to sneak a few moments away from life so I thought I would do something I should have done a loooooong time ago, and that is mention the existence of Andi Watson's newfangled website and Blog. If you saw the ad in the back of the latest issue of Little Star you've probably already visited, but I figured I would mention it for those of you who maybe didn't know.

Well worth the time to check it out.

I'm off again but I'll try and post again soon.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Left Behind

Man, I have been far too lax in my blogging lately. I know there's barely anybody reading this thing (and those that do aren't doing it on a regular basis) but it's been, like, 5 days since my last post. I'm not sure if it's because I have nothing to say or because I've gotten distracted with the new job and other projects. Either way, it's not very kosher to just let the damn thing languish like this.

To keep you up to date on the goings on here, the new job has been keeping me on my toes and I'm pretty excited about a new project I've started. My brother and I have begun to develop a new sitcomey idea which I'm working up a treatment for. It's kind of reminiscient of the Gervais/Merchant comedies, The Office and Extras but I'm hoping to work out most of the similarities in the development process. We both love those shows and are influenced by them, but I'm crossing my fingers that we can come up with a fresh spin on it. And last, but not least, I'm still working on Fear of Falling.

I'll try and check in again tomorrow or Saturday.


Friday, September 16, 2005

It's Getting Better All the Time

I got some good news today, especially in light of my last post regarding the new job. I sat down to talk with the GM about my hours for next week and he informed me that he was starting me at a higher pay rate than what I normally would've started at. So now, I'm making about $2 an hour more than previously believed, and he also promised me a whack of hours, so things are looking up. Of course I won't have as much time to squander on lighter pursuits, but what are you gonna do?

My wife also just got word that she may be up for a trip to London and surrounding area doing some all expenses paid archival work, so the atmosphere at Jozic Central is good.

Oh yeah, I also got Seth Fisher's last batch of answers and they're really great. I can't wait to get them posted.

More later...


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Working on the Chain Gang

Well, I'm officially back in the labour force as of today. The Receiving job I may or may not have hinted to in an earlier post finally came through and I am once again a wage slave. The trucks come in, I empty them and find room for the stuff in the back room of a local grocery store. I walk around a lot, lift heavy things, chat occasionally with coworkers and play with power jacks most of the day. There's that University degree kicking in for me when I really need it.

I really shouldn't sound so snarky, to be honest. It's not bad work, it's just not the work I was looking for and about half of what I need to be making to achieve a sort of comfort level with the wife's recent downgrading to a part-time contract. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for something else in the meantime, so we'll see what happens.

I just wish my feet didn't hurt quite so much. I gotta get used to this standing all day thing again.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What's Doin'

Wow! I've really been ignoring this poor ol' blog this past week or two, haven't I?

Well, rest assured that I wasn't just curled up somewhere in a fetal position listening to whale sounds and sucking my thumb. No sir, I've actually been doing some preproduction stuff for my next short film project, Fear of Falling.

Some time ago (about the time I first started thinking of screwing around in this biz called show) I adapted a short story written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Kent Williams called Fear of Falling (originally appearing in Vertigo Preview #1, 1992). I wasn't too sure about my screenwriting abilities or my technical skills at the time (to be perfectly honest, I'm not that much more confident about them now), so I kind of figured that I would adapt a story and meet myself halfway. It took the pressure off of becoming involved in a project that might turn out looking like crap and dashing my aspirations against the rocks like so much sea foam.

I knew that I could never do anything with it once it was made because I don't have any official permission to do it or rights to exhibit or distribute it, but I thought it would be a good exercise, nonetheless.

Alas, the project was sidelined by the Digital Guerilla competition I entered last year and eventually shelved in favour of stories that I owned or did have the permissions to use.

Flash forward 18 months or so and I'm back to FoF as my next short. I've gone back and done a little work on my original adaptation and I think it could turn out really well if all is handled right. I'm prepping the short now, as I mentioned before, and will hopefully be going into casting in a few weeks. We'll see how things turn out. As it stands right now I'm about to shoot an animatic with some action figures and mock sets to work out the camera moves. I'll probably post again on the progress of that. In fact, I may be starting up another blog to serve as a production diary while I do all of this ridiculousness. I'll keep you posted on that one.

I'll try to get back with more DS9 thoughts and some words about some great swag that I've been picking up. You can probably expect another linkblog to be coming soon, as well.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

What's Up

This last half of the week has been busier than I thought it would be. I haven't gotten as much activity in as I would have liked on, or off, the computer. I celebrated my birthday yesterday so that set me back a spell, as well.

On the other hand, I did see The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so expect some thoughts on that soon.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Deep Space Nine Round 4

Out with the marginal and in with the bad as we head into the middle of season 1...

Move Along Home (1x10): I think this is possibly one of the worst episodes this season. It's another first contact situation with a species that is really into games. They even have one that can suck 4 of the main cast into itself and use them as playing pieces. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it?

I think what the writers were trying to do was craft one of those wacky holodeck episodes from TNG that always made me turn the channel whenever I ran across it, but without a ship to go wacky, or Data to plug in, this is what they had to settle for.

I may be being a bit harsh (there were some good moments with some of the characters) but the aliens were pretty laughable, the choice of Joel Brooks as the main alien was one of those oh-so-very-wrong casting choices that you remember for life, and it really didn't leave me with a satisfying taste in my mouth. I just wanted to move on.

The Nagus (1x11): I'm one of the few people I know who actually digs a good Quark episode from time to time so 'The Nagus' ended up being pretty a pretty welcome change of gears. Unfortunately, it was pinned between two not-so-good episodes and I think it suffers a bit as a result. Usually, the comic episodes feel right when there's been some stress on the show, and you need a little release.

Still, it's the characters who win the day in this story with Sisko and Jake coming together after drifting apart for the last few episodes, Nog and Jake's friendship is made a bit more solid and we get to see Quark be king for a day. A little fun, not too cheeky (other Ferengi episodes have been played far too much simply for the yucks) and some advancement of the situation with the cast on the station.

The Vortex (1x12): Odo is back in the spotlight getting clues to his heritage from a Gamma Quadrant miscreant who they're holding on DS9 for killing another bad guy.

Not a bad episode but the casting of Cliff DeYoung as the detainee Croden was almost as poor as Joel Brooks in 'Move Along Home'. No, that's not fair. de Young may have been doing a decent job and just been hampered by the ridiculous make-up he was required to wear for the role. I don't know if this species makes a reappearance on the show but I hope it's a long way off if they do.

Odo's predicament was well played and, while predictable, the end did have a bit of a reward to it. It was also nice to see Vulcans at the end since, at this time in Star Trek history, Vulcan's weren't showing up with any regularity on either of the two series'.

From what I can tell, the next episode features more Bajoran stuff, Kai Opaka's return and a prophecy of some kind. Looks like the drought may have ended.


Monday, September 05, 2005


Today's been a pretty good day, if I do say so myself. For starters, I'm pretty happy to say that the first assignment for that distance learning class I'm taking (Information Systems) is finally in. Something inside kind of clicked today and I just sat down and did it. The material has been sitting on my desk for about two months so I'm feeling pretty good about having that stuff on the quick road to donesville.

I've also filled out an application for a job I'm almost 100% sure I'm going to get. Ironically, it's the same job I was working at before we made the decision for me to stay home while Jen works (since she was making so much more than I could). There's kind of a circular, serendipitous sort of kizmet there, but I'm not counting my chickens 'til they're all hatched. The other two big applications that led to interviews ended up on the scrap heap but I did physically speak to my old supervisor who more-or-less told me to apply for the job, so I'm feeling hopeful about that, too.

I've also done a crapload of reading in the last week, much of it non-fiction but a couple of GNs slipped by and I enjoyed them immensely. Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 2, Bizarro Comics and P. Craig Russell's The Magic Flute were all great reads and I look forward to tracking more of Russell's and Sakai's stuff down. I'm only a few pages off from finishing J. Torres' and Takeshi Miyazawa's Sidekicks: The Transfer Student which I've found strikingly good, and I'm still in the middle of From Hell.

Lastly, I'm glad to be back and doing the (hopefully) regular Blog posts.

I'm going to go take my good mood and do something fun. I recommend you do the same.


Just Another Monday LinkBlog

Another Monday, another linkblog. Let's see what we have in the bookmarks today...

Dan Hays, writing for The Statesman Journal, claims that Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan's Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate " so much fun it is almost a guilty pleasure." He has some other nice words to say about it which you can check out by clicking through here.

DVD Times finally offers some word on the long-awaited Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist DVD here. There's an image of the box art as well as a listing of features that will be included on the disc (yes, Virginia, there will be an audio commentary). Oh yeah, and the release date will be October 25th.

While doing some research on P. Craig Russell I ran across this interesting website for the Conan animated film, Red Nails. On the website they have some images showing concept art and background layouts for the film including work by the film's Lead Concept Designer, Michael Wm. Kaluta. Worth stopping by to check it out, I'm sure.

I was going to give this its own post a while ago but it's still sitting in my bookmarks so I'll throw it out here instead. Jill Thompson's wonderful Scary Godmother's Halloween Spooktacular will be getting a sequel courtesy of the fine folks at Mainframe Entertainment. The title for the second installment will be Scary Godmother 2: The Revenge of Jimmy and will, no doubt, follow the events of the book by the same name. There doesn't appear to be anything on the Mainframe website regarding the project, but the press release does say the special will air this Halloween on the Cartoon Network.

That's it for another Monday LinkBlog. I'm off to have some breakfast.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fishing for Answers

I just sent off another 15 odd questions to Seth Fisher, following up on our first round of Q&A which happened about a month ago. I feel bad for letting it slide like that but Seth sent me a quick reminder and we got things back on track, so it's all good.

I'm really looking forward to running this one. As I mentioned before, Seth gives a detailed account of his experience in Japan with what may, or may not have been, a kanishibari and also gives some nice insights into his design approach for the five-issue 'Snow' storyline in Legends of the Dark Knight.

I'm actually even considering making the interviews a regular thing here, so watch for some thoughts on that in a future post.



Deep Space Nine Round 3

Here are my thoughts on three more episodes from DS9's first season for those of you still checking in.

Q-Less (1x06): This, the sixth episode of the show's first season, was/is another favourite of mine from when the show premiered way back in 1993. Q's presence had a lot to do with that, seeing as he was one of the more popular 'villains' from TNG, but I've seen some bad Q episodes in my time, so it's not like he carried the show. Once again it was an entertaining story and good character bits that made this one stand out early on in the season.

After watching Picard match wits with Q for 7 years over on TNG it was pretty rewarding to have Sisko take him down with a couple of punches after being provoked. "Picard never hit me," Q says while massaging his chin.

"I'm not Picard," replies Sisko in a scene that could almost stand as a mission statement for the show.

The show doesn't really focus on any one character so it kind of breaks the trend of introductory stories. In fact, the presence of Q and Vash could have been a stunt to grab TNG viewers who were resisting watching the new show. Either way, it is clear that it is the characters who are carrying this show once again (which is good when you consider the MacGuffin of a 'problem' that they must overcome) and I think this is good.

Dax (1x07): The show starts its slippery slope with 'Dax', regressing into just another generic Trek show full of techno-problems and technobabble. Not to mention yet another trial, this time with Dax as the 'guilty' party.

While I thought that the episode did a good job of communicating a lot of information about Dax and how Trills operate, I think it was too soon to do another trial episode. It was only 4 episodes prior that we had Odo wrestling with much the same problem. I'm sure there was a better way to accomplish what they wanted to do, but they chose this.

It's actually a well written and well acted episode co-scripted by Trek legend, DC Fontana, and directed by veteran director, David Carson, it's just very poorly scheduled by placing it seventh in airing order. It's unfortunate but I just can't give it more points despite some of its finer points.

The Passenger (1x08): The slippery slope becomes a full-scale avalanche with this Bashir-centred episode. Again, everything but the A story is handled well and fits within the established tone of the show, but the main plot, revolving around a vicious criminal who seems to be able to organize and execute a hijacking despite being dead, falls so short of anything remotely good to render this a virtual waste of time.

There's a nice moment between Bashir and Kira in the teaser, and the introduction of a new character, Primmin, provides some comic tension as Odo is forced to accept having Starfleet security on board, but overall this could have been so much better than what it was.

Next up, the absolutely dreadful 'Move Along Home' to 'Vortex', an episode that I think may be new to me.

Until then...


Friday, September 02, 2005

Indy Fans Pay Heed

Indiana Jones may be solid gold at the box-office but more often than not he's treated like the red-headed stepchild of the Lucasfilm stable. For an example of this, just click on over to the Star Wars website and compare it to Indy's home on the web and you'll get an idea of what I mean. Content-wise the site is pretty sparse, all things considered. When you visit the SW site there are constantly updated databanks, articles, streaming media, a fan club, images, trivia and DVD bonus content.

At you get some images, and the very occasional article - usually something from the archives.

So, colour me surprised when I swung by the site today and saw that it has finally gotten a decent update. It's a good one too giving fans of the movies a sneak peek at what might have been through a storyboard slideshow and some deleted script pages.

If you've seen the Bonus Disc in the Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD set then you know that a lot of set pieces that were intended for Raiders were excised and moved over to Temple of Doom. The rafting scene, for example, or the mine car chase were both supposed to be in Raiders and, according to these boards, the opening Shanghai scene from Temple was one of those scenes as well.

It's a fun little article/feature and it's really nice to see that the Indy site is getting a bit of love, for a change.

Now, if they'd only add more web features that could be unlocked by the DVDs I'd be a happy man (those Star Wars Depth Text Commentaries are fabulous).


More DS9 Thoughts

Ok, I've just finished what I believe is the 7th episode of the series titled 'Q-Less', so I figure I should post my reactions to the episodes leading up to it before I get too far ahead of myself.

First up is...

A Man Alone (1x03): I'm assuming this script was completed prior to 'Past Prologue's since they air in reverse order, but since the official site lists them this way, I'm going to assume that it's not a situation like Farscape or B5 where they're just put out of order.

As for the episode itself, I found 'AMA' to be another entertaining story even if it didn't have the most original of plots. Security Chief Odo has been convicted of kiling an old enemy and it's a race against time to discover the truth behind the crime before the situation on the station gets too volatile.

Now, I've seen this done a dozen times before, most of them on other Star Trek franchises, but there's something about how this one plays out that keeps me from abandoning the ep altogether. I don't know if it was the twist ending or maybe getting a bit of a deeper glimpse into Odo and Quark's relationship that elevated this one for me. To be perfectly honest, it could have even been the lack of simple technical flaws that you often see in a first season of a new show that kept it from appearing too obvious that it was a recycled plot. Then again, it could have just been solid writing, directing and performances from the cast. Either way, I enjoyed it quite a bit and didn't catch myself finding other things to do while watching. Considering I've seen this episode three or four times before, that's a good thing.

Babel (1x05): 'Babel' has always been one of my favourite first season episodes and watching it again was just as fun for me as the first time it aired. The crew and civilians of DS9 are subject to an aphasia virus that does something to their brains making them speak like they're out of a William S. Burroughs fever dream.

I kind of took note of who the strongest actors on the show were in this episode. It was pretty easy to single them out because, like Colm Meaney (who did a fabulous job as O'Brien here), they were able to convincingly talk gibberish and make it sound natural and as if it had meaning somehow, somewhere to someone. Many of the cast members were a bit unconvincing with their random language skills and only one (Cirroc Lofton who plays Sisko's son, Jake) couldn't handle it at all. The episode also features Odo and Quark pretty prominently as they're the only ones who are not affected by the aphasia virus and the dynamic between these two is always great when they're forced to work together.

Another typical 'find the cure' episode that was saved by the clever twist at the end, some nice character moments and some strong writing by DS9 scribes, Michael McGreevey & Naren Shankar and Sally Caves & Ira Steven Behr.

Captive Pursuit (1x05): A nice spotlight on O'Brien wrapped up in a first contact from the Gamma Quadrant story by Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller. Tosk is a humanoid alien who comes through the wormhole and is welcomed at the station as the first official guest from the Gamma Quadrant. O'Brien is charged with making him feel comfortable and helping him fix his ship and, as a result, a friendship is formed between the two characters.

So, of course, big surprise then that Tosk is actually bred and raised as prey for a group of Hunters who coke looking for him on the station and who are instantly at odds with the Starfleet boys and girls for playing at bloodsports. One of the great strengths of this episode, however, is the fact that Sisko actually gives Tosk back to the Hunters rather than make your typical Star Trek stand against people who don't live like we do. Not something we would see someone like Kirk, Picard or Janeway doing.

Also, I've never been a big O'Brien fan but this episode helped change my mind about that somewhat. The character moments between he and Tosk O'Brien were pretty rewarding. Their friendship felt like it developed naturally and didn't feel forced to fit into the confines of a 44 minute show.

Five (six?) episodes in and we've yet to hit anything resembling a serious speed bump.

Next up, Q and Vash from TNG visit the station and cause some trouble.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Damon Albarn No Longer an Irritating Twerp

I just ran across this great article/interview with Damon Albarn of Gorillaz. It's by a gent named Craig McLean who does a really nice job of not giving you the same old thing. I really enjoyed reading this one.

And for the record, Damon was never an irritiating twerp to me, but I didn't spend any time with the guy, so what do I know.


Deep Space Fix

I managed to get my hands on a complete set of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine so I can finally watch the whole thing in order. I've seen many of the episodes already, but never chronologically from the pilot episode, 'Emissary' to the finale, 'In the Hands of the Prophets'.

For many fans, including myself, DS9 is pretty much as good as Trek has ever been - past or present. Kind of ironic since I was very skeptical of the show when I'd first heard of it. Sounded a little too much like another show on a space station, Babylon 5, and the lack of a wandering starship pretty much guaranteed, in my mind, that the writers would soon run out of interesting ideas and situations to put the new cast through. Needless to say, I was wrong. The show's first season was one of the strongest freshman years I'd ever seen for a Trek franchise and managed to keep things relatively fresh and interesting while going through the often tedious process of introducing characters, settings and storylines.

I may not do this every time I watch a batch of episodes but I'm going to occasionally post some thoughts on the show as I go through season 1. I won't be trying to do an analysis of each ep - there are others who do that and probably do it much better than I ever could - just posting some thoughts for posterity's sake.

Emissary (1x01 & 1x02): The pilot episode, which has been split into two parts, was originally aired as a two-hour intro to the third Trek franchise. What was immediately different about this show was the tone - much darker and more serious than previous outings in the universe that Gene built. Sisko was not your typical Federation officer and he was not placed in your typical Star Trek situation. Instead of captaining a starship across the great unknown he was in charge of a space station orbitting the newly liberated Bajoran homeworld. His purpose there was to help ease the transition for the Bajorans from an occupied people to a free and self-sufficient society. Instead of flying from planet to planet and telling people how they were living their lives wrong, these characters had to deal with maintaining a balance of power in the quadrant, guiding a planet whose society was steeped in religious beliefs into the Federation, and a political situation that often led to incindiary confrontations.

In this episode we get a nice solid introduction to the main cast of characters with mostly new faces but a few familiar ones as well. Chief among them is Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard who is there - storywise - to make sure everything is being set up smoothly and is there - practically - to pass the baton, as it were. Picard has never been my favourite ST character but I have to say he worked brilliantly in this episode opposite a barely contained Sisko (Picard as Locutus was responsible for the death of Sisko's wife, Jennifer, at the battle of Wolf 359). The tension between these two men played nicely and their scene at the end of the show made for a nice, if not predictable, bookend to the season opener.

The other characters, whom you probably know, didn't get a great deal of screen time, but they all came off as interesting with something to contribute and I looked forward to seeing how they would develop as we get further into the season.

Overall, the strongest Pilot episode of any Trek that I've seen (followed closely by Enterprise's 'Broken Bow') before and since and a nice kick-off for what promises to be an interesting ride.

Past Prologue (1x04): We were introduced to Sisko in the last episode and 'Past Prologue' provides us with a little insight into DS9's pistol of a second-in-command, Kira Nerys.

Any new series will take the first few episodes of their first season to spotlight their main cast of characters, finding stories that manage to show you some deeper character moments and flesh out who that person is a little. Some do it without tipping their hand and some are so transparent it's not even funny. Thankfully, DS9 manages to do the former with this episode.

What stands out in 'Past Prologue' for me is the incredible lack of technobabble. Instead of tying up the main story in an unintelligable problem that can only be solved by an even less clear explanation, this episode is firmly rooted in the characters and how their loyalties lie. This episode is more about politics and friendship than anti-matter converters and the cast is allowed to find the emotional core of the story and get it across to the audience. Heck, the Duras sisters appear in this episode and I found myself enjoying their presence instead of just turning the channel like I usually do.

I also can't talk about this episode without mentioning the great scene where Sisko is forced to put Kira in her place for not following the chain-of-command and going over his head with some concerns she had surrounding one of the Commander's decisions. It's not something you see everyday on Star Trek. Well, not unless Ronny Cox is guest-starring anyways.

A strong second (third?) episode that satisfied on many levels and had me putting a great deal of faith in where the writers were taking the show and the cast.

That's it for today, or at least for now. I'll probably be posting more episode commentary later so if it intersts you, make sure you check back.

I'm outta here...