What to Watch: The Expanse (SyFy)

What to Watch: The Expanse (SyFy)

If you are like me, for the last 15 years (omg has it been that long?) you have had a sci-fi TV shaped hole in your viewing heart left there by the early cancellation of Firefly and (a few years later) the epic conclusion of Battlestar Galactica. I finally found a show to fill that spot in my heart and it is The Expanse.

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We’ve got our rag tag crew on the run, a grizzled cop looking for a mysterious woman, backstabbing politicians, and scientists playing god. And, bonus points, some kick-ass women in charge! Something for everyone!

Season 1 is currently streaming as part of Amazon Prime. I felt that Season 1 took awhile to find its footing, but do not give up. Think back to the first time reading/watching The Fellowship of the Ring and being introduced to so many new characters and realms and the rules that guide them – that is what slows down the first season. You have to learn about Earth and Mars and the Belters and their history. You have to understand the OPA and their agenda. And, of course, you must meet our would-be heroes and learn about their stories so you know it is okay to root for them.

But it is ALL worth it because when season 2 starts, there is nothing to hold the writers back. (Season 2 was just released on blu-ray/DVD; I managed to borrow a copy from my local library). The second season hits the ground running and never looks back so you better have paid attention during Season 1 (or be ready to rewatch it) because there is not time to stop and explain, the entire galaxy is on the line!

The show is based on a series of Science Fiction novels, tomes that same size as George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, so there are plenty of characters and stories to choose from. While I haven’t read the books yet, talking to fans who have it sounds like the show writers are doing a great job blending together multiple story lines and introducing characters in a way that works better for a television show but stays true to the books.

I am excited to watch Season 3 in real time when it returns in 2018 so I can react to episodes and discuss the show with other fans. Until then, do yourself a favor and get your sci-fi geek on over the next few months (though I would say PACE YOURSELF because that Season 2 finale will leave you wanting more).

http://www.syfy.com/theexpanseThe Expanse – SyFy Official Website (careful of spoilers!)- Season 3 episodes will be available to stream after they begin to air. Currently only has the last few episodes of Season 2 available.

https://www.amazon.com/The-Expanse-Season-1/dp/B018BZ3UWUThe Expanse on Amazon Video – Prime Members can stream the first season for FREE

Season 2 is available on Blu-Ray/DVD so you can pick that up on Amazon as well or stop by your local public library!

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ST:TNG Blog Project

ST:TNG Blog Project

I feel like the quality is improving. I’m still not blown away by the stories and the show kinda feels trapped by the 45 minute time limit with some episodes rushing to a conclusion, but the character development is getting stronger. Picard’s backstory in The Battle told us more about our new captain. And now we get to learn a bit more about Riker and Data:

S1:E10 Hide and Q

I was surprised this episode happened so early in the show! As I have said before, Q is one of my favorite antagonists. He’s just such a lovable jackass. Here he is, back again, convinced he knows how to corrupt Riker and, to his credit, he almost does if it wasn’t for the voice of reason of Captain Picard talking him down from the slippery slope of absolute power. As conundrums go, trying to decide if you should keep the power over life and death would be a hard one, especially for a Starfleet Commander.  This is probably the best episode with a big idea so far.

S1:E11 Haven

This episode is most notable because it is the introduction of Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana. She is a staple in the series, showing up to torture Picard, though in a complete different way than Q. We also get lots of great Troi/Riker and if you weren’t shipping these two yet, this episode makes it pretty clear that the show writers want these crazy kids to get together. This is the goofiest episode yet, the main plot is forgettable, and the only parts that stay with you is how ridiculous Lwaxana is.

S1:E12 The Big Goodbye

And so begins a long line of “How is the holodeck even a thing?” episodes where something random goes wrong, allowing the Holodeck to hold crew members hostage and endanger them by putting them in a time period closer to our own, when humans were still “savages”. To “relax” Picard decides to play his favorite noir detective, Dixon Hill (think Sam Spade but without the copyright infringement).  We find out that the Enterprise has a “20th century expert” on board and that women in the future don’t apply their own makeup (Beverly is fascinated by the woman checking her face in the police station.)  Oh, and again, if you weren’t sure if you should ‘ship Picard/Crusher, this episodes makes it pretty clear that, yeah, the writers are going to make that a thing eventually.

S1:E13 Datalore

THIS might be one of the best episodes so far, though the ending suffers from the classic “OMG THE SHOW IS ALMOST OVER DO SOMETHING!” but otherwise, great character stuff for Data. The Enterprise goes to visit the planet where Data was found and discover another android body. They decide to assemble the body and meet Data’s “brother” – Lore.

I would like to subtitle this episode – “Phrasing and Synth Music” because it had some awful music and some great lines that made me giggle, such as:

“Does he have all the same parts as you?”

“How do we turn him on?”

“He has a child’s body but we have found him to be much more.”

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But it also had some great moments, like when Data tells Dr. Crusher that he can be shut down by pressing a special button on his back. He swears her to secrecy, noting “If you had an off switch Doctor, would you not keep it a secret?” (This, of course, plays into the plot later).

We also find out that Data earned his Starfleet uniform with 4 years at the academy and has been working for at least 15 years since then. Gotta respect that because I’m sure Starfleet would have given him an honorary degree if he had asked.

This is also the episode that brought us this often used/abused quote:

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Which, honestly, seemed really uncalled for!  And even worse when his own mother chimes in! First, really rude of Captain Picard to use such language toward ANYWAY, but especially a kid who is learning how to be a Starfleet member. Wesley does lose his shit later, pointing out that if he was an adult, they wouldn’t speak to him that way (which is 1000% true).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode and all 4 of these were a lot of fun. Now I need to distract myself with some other shows while Andy catches up. 🙂

what I’ve been watching…

We are all caught up on Parks and Rec now. OMG THE FEELS! I can’t believe there are only 13 episodes left.

I have to say, those six seasons may have had a few rough spots. but overall it is a fantastic show. It’s smart and funny and poignant and omg I am going to cry SO HARD when that finale airs for the same reason I was a mess when the Angel finale aired. I won’t just be mourning the end of the show itself, but the end of a place a on TV where I felt I belonged, writers that got me. Are there any other shows on TV right now that are on the same wavelength???

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls, then writing up discussion posts for and then utterly failing to comment on my own posts!!! **sigh** But I really am enjoying being back in Stars Hollow. I keep meaning to get my thoughts down but…Xbox.

We started watching the anime Noragami, which is streaming on Netflix. It’s about a “stray god” and his search to find some worshippers. It’s relatively light, though you can sense a certain darkness waiting around the corner. I’m not a huge anime watcher but I’m really enjoying this one. We also started Kill la Kill last week but our friend Mathew wants to watch that with us, so we have to wait until Thursday to continue that one. It feels like the sibling of FLCL, though slightly more linear. ONLY slightly.

2015 is going to be an epic TV year. P&R finale, Justified finale, Hannibal returns, Community returns and, of course, Game of Thrones will be back!

reviewings: Gilmore Girls

There was much rejoicing last month when it was revealed that Gilmore Girls would finally be available streaming on Netflix. October 1st has come and the show is now up and ready to be watched.

I have set up a community on Livejournal for weekly discussions with folks on there and I plan to post my thoughts here as well.

I plan to start my rewatch the first week of November, doing two episodes each week so I leave time for all of my regularly scheduled programs. Anyone else going to revisit the Firefly Inn?

tv thoughts: Hannibal, Season 1

Hannibal Season 1 DVDs

For those of you that don’t know, I have a three person rule for new tv shows. I generally ignore them until three different people that I respect say something positive about them. Two of my livejournal friends had been raving about this show for ages and I had put the DVD on request at the library. When it arrived on my desk, my co-worker commented how awesome and messed up the show is. So that was it, three people, I had to watch.

I’m only familiar with Hannibal from Silence of the Lambs. I had passed on all the other movies and I have not read any of the other books. The series is loosely based on the prequel novel Red Dragon (which writer/director Bryan Fuller has tweeted is where the series will be by Season 4).

The series takes place long before Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal was just a psychiatrist (he is still a cannibal, obviously, but he hasn’t been caught yet). But even though the show bears his name, the main character is actually Will Graham. His mental state, somewhere along the Asperger’s spectrum, let’s him get into the mind of serial killers and, in the first episode, he helps the FBI capture a wanted man. Hannibal “helps” by providing psychiatric feedback to prove that Graham is capable of taking on these cases without losing his mind.

Bryan Fuller is the show runner. I loved Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls. The thing I enjoy about Fuller’s shows is that he usually has a theme that ties the series together. DLM spent a lot of time discussing death and how we all process it. Pushing Daisies also focused on loss, but also on love as the Ned the pie maker had to live with a requited love that could never be…well, requited. Wonderfalls had a very cynical main character being pulled into a weird “fate” story (I always said it was like Joan of Arcadia but without all the God stuff…just oddness). (and I was thrilled to see Caroline Dhavernas’s name in the opening credits). Hannibal, so far, has an underlying theme of identity – who are we? How do we see ourselves? How do we present ourselves to others? What do we hide underneath?

There have been some great first season guest stars that you’ll recognize from other Fuller shows. And the wonderful Gillian Anderson also appears in a good portion of the season. (And I’m pretty sure they using the same font that was used in Silence of the Lambs (and X-Files) when showing us the locations, which tickled my homage geek funny bone.)

I didn’t pay any attention to the show at first because I was concerned that they would try to make me root for Hannibal. But by the end of the first episode, you realize this is not the goal of the show. Hannibal is already a psychopath. The tension in the show is that YOU the audience knows this. Yet we watch him slowly manipulate those around him. And he’s very good at it. And then you wonder if you would fall for it and you realize, yes, you would. He is educated and refined (the way Mads Mikkelsen slowly waves the wine glass under his nose before each sip hypnotizes me every time). He comes highly recommended.

I will warn you that the show is VERY graphic. I’ve already experience a few moments that made my stomach flip and a few scenes that managed to haunt me when I went to bed that night. Especially if you get the DVD, which has “producer’s edits” which may contain some extra gruesome stuff. But the stuff that aired on TV is pretty gruesome on it’s own. Will usually has to look at a murder and then they re-enact it on the screen, which I now watch through my fingers so I can quickly save myself from the splurts of blood and up-close shots of mutilated bodies. Oh, and don’t forget, Hannibal is a CANNIBAL and he does a lot of cooking.

I don’t want to say much else. This is not a police procedural. Crimes happen and they attempt to solve them, but the show is about Hannibal and Will and their relationship, which is what makes it so hard to stop watching.

If you can stomach it, I highly recommend Season 1 of Hannibal.

Random Ramblings: It’s about Hope.

(this post has been rolling around in my head all day so hopefully it translates from my head to the screen well enough for you to understand)

Every now and then a series comes along that everyone rants and raves about. Another new adult drama that gets 5 star reviews, best-show-ever blah blah blah. And then I watch it and I feel…nothing.

Well, that’s not true. I watch and episode or two and I agree that the show has quality – it’s well acted, well written, beautifully shot. But it just doesn’t do it for me. After years of trying to figure out why that is, I know what a story needs to keep me engaged.

Hope.

I have to believe that there is hope for the characters. They will be redeemed or survive whatever trauma the series is putting them through. By the end of their story, things will be better.

Star Wars (OT), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings — these are a few of my favorite things stories and they all are full of hope. They do all have their fair share of darkness, but while evil may triumph every now and then, the characters manage to stay strong and be true to themselves.

But, you say, you have read and enjoyed all of the Hunger Games books! You watch American Horror Story – surely those are full of hopelessness. And you would be right.

But, then again, by the ending of Hunger Games, even though life is kinda shit, Katniss has survived. She has learned things from fighting against the Capital, alongside the rebellion. There is enough hope inside of her, even though she would deny it, to keep on living and to care for her fellow survivors.

American Horror Story was the real conundrum for me. The entire premise of the show is that someone is going to be in HORROR for a whole season. Except, how can you have horror without hope? It’s not scary if there is no hope, you would just give up and die (which I think was the problem with Season 2 for me, the people in the Asylum had nothing to hope for after awhile). In Season 1 and 3, the families in that show hoped to survive, so every scary monster, ghost or demon that attacked them was that much worse. Horror cannot exist without hope, which is why the seasons have to end where they do because you cannot sustain that sort of emotion beyond 13 episodes.

Walking Dead and Breaking Bad were the two shows that made me realize this need for Hope. I had been watching Walking Dead since day 1 as I had read a few of the trade collections of the comics and wanted to see how it translated on the screen. I liked the first season well enough. I got through most of the second season. But once we had the whole Sophie thing, I realized this was not going to end well. Things just kept getting worse. Everyone was going to die, sooner or later. Carl was going to grow up to be a mess and one by one every person in the group was either horribly killed or turned into someone that I *wish* would be eaten. The zombies are not going away, there is no hope for anyone.

Breaking Bad I watched the entire first season in a matter of days but I never felt compelled to pick up the next season. Again, I think that is because it is clear from the beginning that there is no hope for Walt or Jesse. This will not be a show where things turn out alright in the end, or even sorta okay. It was all going to end in blue meth stained tears. Even in that first season I knew that no single character was going to make it out of that show a good person.

I watch tv and movies and read books to escape the harsh realities of life. These stories are very personal for me. I don’t just watch and then move on, I tend to connect with characters and become attached to them. And I know that stories with no hope will not make me happy. I’m not denying that they are quality stories, but they are not for me.

tv thoughts: Moone Boy (2013)

Moone Boy

I am a big fan of The IT Crowd so it’s hard for me to resist Chris O’Dowd’s Irish accent and scruffy yet adorable face. When I heard about Moone Boy, his new comedy program loosely based on his childhood in Ireland, I had to give it a go.

Dowd and I are close to the same age and though I am not Irish, I do have some Irish in my background and I was raised Catholic. Plus, the trials and tribulations of childhood all seem to be the same, no matter where or when you’re from. It was easy to relate to the story of little Martin Moone and his working-class family. O’Dowd also appears in each episode as Martin’s imaginary best friend, who cheers him on.

It’s a very cute and sweet show. My favorite episode so far is Godfellas, which focuses on Martin’s turn as an altar boy. There’s actually a few moments where you can see David Rawle, who plays Martin, cracking up as O’Dowd coaches him on his altar boy skills. It’s funny because it almost feels like a family sitcom from the 1980s, it has that sort of Cosby Show/Family Ties/Roseanne vibe to it.

I hope this isn’t the last we see of Moone Boy or O’Dowd as a writer. And I really hope that we see more of David Rawle, who is doing a dead on Chris O’Dowd impression.

Warning: If you’re like me, after watching the show, you will walk around talking with a bad Irish accent for at least 20 minutes. Unless you’re actually Irish…you probably just talk normal then…anyway…

You can watch episodes of Moone Boy right now on Hulu.com