Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 1 of X: The Love Affair

I've always loved The Beatles.  First as a fan, always as a fan.  How much as a fan? Well, I was delighted to find a subscription to Sirius/XM  Radio in my new car, early this month, and I promptly tuned it to MSNBC. Until The Beatles channel checked in on May 18, and that's what I listen to when I'm driving now.  Even when I'm not driving - I just came in from my driveway, because I wanted to hear the end of "Baby You Can Drive My Car".  I'd probably still be there, if the urge to write this review had not been so strong.

Yeah, writing soon blended into my love of The Beatles.  First as a singer and songwriter, in the early 1960s through the early 1970s, and then as a writer of nonfiction and about two decades later of science fiction.  My first published article - "A Vote for McCartney" in The Village Voice in 1971 - took on the Voice's dyspeptic, tone-deaf critic Robert Christgau. who had savaged Paul's debut solo album, McCartney.  (Christgau had a habit of missing the forest - at some point, he also lashed out at Phil Ochs, a lyricist second only to Dylan, for his guitar playing).   My Loose Ends Saga - arguably my best-known science fiction (arguable in the sense that many people deny it) - has a time traveler faced with the choice of either saving John Lennon or stopping September 11.

So, I was primed to read Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World since 1963, but my son Simon, who edited at Rolling Stone and knows Sheffield, pushed me over the top this weekend when I was raving about The Beatles station.   My wife had already purchased the hardcover and the audiobook, and I knew I would love it - a perfect accompaniment to my own continuing love story with The Beatles.

Sheffield is a masterful writer on all kinds of levels.  He has a knack for spot-on record reviews in less than a sentence - noting "the brash aggression of 'And Your Bird Can Sing'" and "the hair-curling harmonies of 'I Don't Wanna Spoil the Party'".  He has an assumption that The Beatles were and are in a class by themselves, which, though it may seem obvious to true-believers, Sheffield turns into a galvanizing and even surprising organizing principle.  He has a photographic, watercolor eye, describing how Ringo's wife Maureen was  "freezing her ass off" on the roof in the Get Back concert in a way that makes you want to grab your coat and get your hat on a hot Spring day.

There's so much in this book, in fact, that I decided after reading just the first 11 pages, that it warranted more than a single review.  After all, The Beatles were and are about songs, which is a short form, but even if not, who says a book has to be reviewed all at once, in one big review?   So consider what you've been reading here as an introductory review, of just the Prelude and part of the next chapter of the book, and I'll be back with more, soon.   I'll likely have the whole book reviewed in the next weeks, maybe the next months.  It probably won't take years, but you never know.  (See my series of reviews of The Perversity of Things as an example of another series of reviews in progress.)

And that's it for now.  Get the book. (I'm sure I'll disagree with some of Sheffield's views but I disagree with some of everyone's except mine, and even I change my mind.)  I'm going to watch a little of MSNBC, and then get back in the car.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 1.1-2: Superluminal Sans Cherry Pie

Twin Peaks was back - therefore also known as Twin Peaks: The Return - last night with the two first episodes of some new seasons on Showtime.   I enjoyed it. But - well, it's a strange and tough narrative to enjoy.

Here's my story about the story so far - that is, the return, and how it relates, after the first two episodes, to the original two seasons (and, for that matter, to the subsequent movie, which was actually a prequel):

Twin Peaks started out as an idiosyncratic, remarkably good, just slightly absurdist whodunnit, as FBI Agent Dale Cooper, who loves a good cup of coffee and a piece of cherry pie, investigates the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer, who turned out to have been leading a double life.  There were lots of suspects and bizarre characters and intricate plots, which are resolved - if you can call it that - by a shift into a supernatural, science fictional, insano world of lodges in other dimensions, time rollbacks, doppelgängers (a literal double life) and all kinds of spirits with no real interest in coffee or cherry pie.

Twin Peaks: The Return starts out in and on this superluminal plane (I take faster than light to be the beginning of impossible dark fantasy), and sprinkles in a murder or two just to keep the story's feet on the whodunnit ground.  But this return has little of the detective mystery that drove so much of the original.   Good Agent Cooper is almost completely within the Black Lodge.  He's kissed and whispered to by Laura Palmer, who realizes she's dead, even though she like Cooper look and are 25 years older.  The doppelgänger bad Cooper is mixed up in some kind of criminal business, but the essential point, as told to good Cooper in the Black Lodge, is that he can't get out until the bad Cooper returns, which he has no intention of doing.

My favorite thread was actually a science fiction sub-story right out of the 1950s, which features a young couple about to make love, with the guy taking his eyes off an extra-dimensional device he's supposed to watch (he doesn't know it's extra-dimensional) with dire results for the amorous couple. I especially liked this not only because I was brought up on clunky 1950s science fiction on the screen, but because I'm pretty sure I was actually in a room much like this one myself, when Bill McClane was interviewing me for his 2002 documentary, "The Evolution of Science Fiction" (though it may have been his 2014-2015 "How to Survive the End of the World" series).  I'm not kidding, see the IMDb listings for Evolution and End).

So you get the idea.  If you like Lynch at his Dadaist best - which gave flavor and edge to his Blue Velvet (whose "In Dreams" sequence is one of my all-time favorite scenes in any movie, period), Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive - you'll find it in spades, as almost the complete mind-bending story, in Twin Peaks: The Return.  At least, insofar as the first two episodes.

And I'll be back with more next week.


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12 Monkeys 3.8-10: "Up at the Ritz"

The concluding three episodes of the penultimate season 3 of 12 Monkeys on the SyFy channel tonight - soon to be rebranded in all caps - was as good as the first seven, which is to say, superb indeed, and you can put that in all caps any time.

Jennifer's best line, among many: "fate's a real bitch, rarely puts you up at the Ritz". I've never been to the Ritz, so I can't exactly confirm that, but as for 12 Monkeys, it left us mesmerized, at loose ends, at loggerheads of impossible logic - or, exactly where we want to be for the next and final season in 2018.

This was mostly the story of Ethan Cole, aka the Witness, except, in a nice twist at the end, it turns out he's not the Witness after all.  He witnessed a lot, as he says, but the evil Witness with a capital W is Olivia. Locked up like Irina Derevko in Alias for a lot of this season, Olivia turns out to be even more powerful and sinister than Irina - or Ethan.  And Jennifer called it, or almost, or slightly, did.

Ethan's story was well played and told, and another version of Anakin becoming Darth, because he lost his beloved Padme.  Except, since this is time travel, Ethan tries hundreds of times to save her, in a heart-rending rendition of you can't change fate (which is one kind of fine, classic time travel story).

And the kicker is, although he says he's going to destroy the world as a result of his loss, his parents and/or his innate goodness means he won't, and he instead sacrifices himself to be killed by Olivia.

Except - this is time travel, so who is really dead?  Well, apparently the woman Ethan loved, but does this apply to Ethan to?  (Hey, I'm not even sure it applies to Ranmse.)  Ethan has a lot on his side for the final season, including now Jones back on the same side as Cassie and James, and of course the peerless, timeless Jennifer.

12 Monkeys started out in its first two season as often excellent, but sometimes meandering and too complex for its own good.  In its third season, it has really found itself, and is well on its way to being a masterpiece of a television series.

And I'll see you back here with more reviews of 12 Monkeys, next year.

See also 12 Monkey's 3.1-4: "The Smart Ones Do" ... 12 Monkeys 3.5-7: "A Thing for Asimov"

And see also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead" ... 12 Monkeys 2.7: Ultimate Universes ... 12 Monkeys 2.8: Time Itself Wants Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 2.9: Hands On ... 12 Monkeys 2.10: The Drugging ... 12 Monkeys 2.11: Teleportation ... 12 Monkeys 2.12: The Best and the Worst of Time(s) ... 12 Monkeys 2.13: Psychedelic -> Whole City Time Travel

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

12 Monkeys 3.5-7: "A Thing for Asimov"

A superb, punching, philosophic triad of episodes 3.5-7 of 12 Monkeys tonight, with Jennifer's most memorable line being (back in 1953) "a thing for Asimov".  This has almost nothing to do with the story, but it's meta-beautiful, since Asimov's The End of Eternity - from around three  years in the future, in 1956 - has always been, to my mind, at least, since the day I first read it back in 1959, the best single time travel novel ever written.

But there were other great lines in tonight's three episodes - epitomized by Cole's musing "sometimes I think we're just stuck in a loop, creating the problems we're trying to solve," and Cassie's "we don't get to change the past and keep the future".

Cole thinks the only way out of this is to kill the Witness, their son.  Cassie wants to find a way to break out of the loop by somehow saving their son and the human species from the fate they all can see.  She wants it all - the planet saved as well as their family.   And in a great blow for optimism, she convinces Cole, who's better than Ramse.  Cole's convinced when he looks into his son's eyes - Ethan's.   And though Ethan's off somewhere in time with his protector, it was good to see Cole and Cassie on the same page at the end  - as they were last night.

Unfortunately, they have a new set of enemies - Jones and Deacon.  So we now have three forces in mortal conflict with each other - the insane religious zealots, Jones and what's left of her forces, and Cole and Cassie.  Jennifer's on their side, but I'd bet on them anyway.

Two nice, relatively minor but significant additional touches in the story.  Agent Gale back on the case in 1953, and Cassie (and Cole) warning him of his death in 1960s Berlin.  It's a great move, and an example of Cassie trying to change history.  And the scene between Cassie and her mother was pure gold, too.

This season is very different and very much better in some crucial ways than the first two.  Many more nose bleeds, as our main characters get their pasts changed, and the ability to time travel without that big, glubby, Frankenstein-monster lab in Jones's facility.

And I'll be back with more tomorrow.

See also 12 Monkey's 3.1-4: "The Smart Ones Do"

And see also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead" ... 12 Monkeys 2.7: Ultimate Universes ... 12 Monkeys 2.8: Time Itself Wants Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 2.9: Hands On ... 12 Monkeys 2.10: The Drugging ... 12 Monkeys 2.11: Teleportation ... 12 Monkeys 2.12: The Best and the Worst of Time(s) ... 12 Monkeys 2.13: Psychedelic -> Whole City Time Travel

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

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12 Monkeys 3.1-4: "The Smart Ones Do"

12 Monkeys returned tonight with the first four episodes of its third season, and they were superb indeed - in fact the best episodes in the series so far.

As usual, Jennifer has the best lines.  In response to the impresario in 1920s Paris who advises Jennifer that "no one understands time travel," an explanation for the small audience for her time-travel performance on stage, Jennifer replies that "the smart ones do".

And although this is self-serving - for me, you, Jennifer, everyone who understands and enjoys time travel (not to mention writes it) - her statement is true indeed, and applies abundantly to 12 Monkeys.   Jennifer is the very embodiment of that old truth that in crazy times, the crazy person might be the most sane - which Robert De Niro's character in The Deer Hunter also exemplified - and Jennifer's one step ahead in just about all the crucial junctures in 12 Monkeys.

Which is why she senses that Olivia is up to something no good  - or deadly, for the people Jennifer cares about - when Olivia spits out a plan to kill the Witness, after being locked up in a room with rats as per Ramse's instruction.

Jennifer, of course, can't literally see into the future - her correct sense of foreboding of what Olivia and Ramse are planning is just that, foreboding, and based on her unerring instinct and often razor-sharp logic.  So Jennifer can't literally see what Ramse is putting into motion.

And I gotta say, about Ramse, that although his motives were understandable, I didn't like what he had become, anyway.   I know he's tortured about having to kill his son - but he shouldn't have killed him. And he kills an innocent doctor in his attempt to kill Cassie, and would have killed her, too.  Cole had no choice but to kill him.  It was a sad scene, but Ramse for the most part deserved it.

And it was good to see Cole and Cassie together at the end.  I'm with Jones and the way she was smiling when she saw that.   Four fine episodes, and I'll be back with a review of what's up on the screen later tomorrow.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead" ... 12 Monkeys 2.7: Ultimate Universes ... 12 Monkeys 2.8: Time Itself Wants Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 2.9: Hands On ... 12 Monkeys 2.10: The Drugging ... 12 Monkeys 2.11: Teleportation ... 12 Monkeys 2.12: The Best and the Worst of Time(s) ... 12 Monkeys 2.13: Psychedelic -> Whole City Time Travel

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Epilogue for Frequency

A really satisfying epilogue to Frequency, recently cancelled, put up online a few days ago by CW.

The epilogue's under four minutes, but it ends the series just right.   (Don't read on if you don't want spoilers).

Frank's CB radio and its connection to Raimy and the future - our present - wasn't working at the end of the last episode.   It's now repaired, and Frank gets the good news that his wife and Raimy's mother is doing great, and the Nightingale killer was indeed nabbed, and recently died in prison.

Except - well, Julie (Raimy's mother) - isn't doing quite that great.  She misses Frank, who died in 2011.  Frank back in 1996 is loath to do anything more to change the future, but Raimy pleads with him - for Julie's sake - to this one more thing, don't go out of the house, and "God forbid" not in the car, on the day in 2011 he is supposed to die.

She asks Frank if he got that - but the CB radio connection has died again.

Raimy is desperate - when she hears from Frank's voice - in her room, in person, in 2017!  There he is, a few years older, but very much alive.  He got the message.  They hug, and all the good memories of their lives together come back to Raimy.

Now that's what I call a perfect happy ending.  Thank you, CW - and Godspeed, Raimy and Frank and Julie.

See also Frequency 1.1: Closely Spun Gem ... Frequency 1.2: All About the Changes  ... Frequency 1.3: Chess Game Across Time ...  Frequency 1.4: Glimpsing the Serial Killer ... Frequency 1.5: Two Sets of Memories ... Frequency 1.6: Another Time Traveler? ... Frequency 1.7: Snags ... Frequency 1.8: Interferences ... Frequency 1.9: The Wife and the Fiancee ... Frequency 1.10: The Clarinet of Time ... Frequency 1.11: The Unkilling ... Frequency 1.12: Good Inter-temporal Police Work, But... Frequency 1.13: Almost Happy and Sad Endings

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Americans 5.11: Execution in Newton

About as powerful an episode - 5.11 - as it gets on The Americans, with Elizabeth and Philip stretched to their limits in a room in Newton, MA.

In that room is woman the Center has identified as a Nazi collaborator, who, as young woman, killed hundreds of Russian prisoners at the Nazis' behest.   Elizabeth and Philip first must make sure - to Philip's satisfaction - that the woman in the room is the Nazi collaborator.  That's what Philip insists upon before he agrees to the execution.

Elizabeth already is convinced that the woman is the Nazi collaborator.   But Philip not only wants to be convinced, he's not happy with killing the woman, now a grandmother, in any case.  We've seen Philip, ever since Martha, grow increasingly uncomfortable about carrying out his missions, especially when a killing is called for.

As the woman tells her story, two things become clear.   The woman was little more than a child when she did what she did, after the Nazi's killed her family and terrorized her.   And Philip does not want to kill her.

But Elizabeth does just that - and the woman's husband, too, to cover their tracks.   And so we have the schism between Elizabeth and Philip in jagged, glaring relief.

They drive back to Washington together,  Elizabeth says it's time for them to go back home - to Russia.  But my guess is they'll never be able to go back home, certainly not as the couple they once were.





Monday, May 15, 2017

King Charles III: Shakespearean Alternate Future

My wife and I caught King Charles III last night on PBS - a 90-minute play, brought to the TV screen, and a work of sheer and provocative genius.

The story is set in a very near future, in which Queen Elizabeth II has left this Earthly existence, and her son Charles, long the heir apparent Prince of Wales, has ascended to the throne at last.   This Charles is much like the Charles we know - a liberal progressive, who values freedom of the press to the extent that he refuses to sign a law passed by Parliament which would restrict it.  This is something that Elizabeth didn't do - refusing to ascent to the will of Parliament -  where the fun aka exquisite drama begins.

I won't tell you exactly what happens, other than that King Charles' actions unleash a crisis of government indeed in the UK, and that Charles, William, Kate, Harry, Camilla, all royals behave in ways that seem consistent with what we know of them in our reality.

Charles, in particular, comes across as a monarch who wants his reign to be meaningful - that is, make a difference, do the right thing as he sees it - but is ultimately dependent upon his family.  He is, in many respects, a perfect Shakespearean hero, caught in the cross-hairs of conflicts impossible to resolve.

Speaking of Shakespeare, Diana appears as a ghost who speaks (separately) to both Charles and William, and the dialogue is delivered in blank verse, with occasional and highly effective rhymes.   The acting is just superb, with the recently deceased Tim Pigott-Smith in the performance of his career as Charles, and excellent work by everyone in the royal family and beyond.

I can't imagine what the real Charles and William and Kate thought of this.  I hope they recognized it as the transcendent work of genius that it is, if even only to their inner selves.  We the public have no such conflicts.   Writer Michael Bartlett and Director Rupert Goold deserve every applicable award, as do the leading members of the cast, especially Pigott-Smith (as Charles) and Oliver Chris (as William) and Charlotte Riley (as Kate).

In our real world, in which Trump in the White House seems like an alternate reality too absurd to believe, King Charles III as near-future alternate reality is somehow as satisfying as it is deeply disturbing.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

NBC Reverses Decision and Renews Timeless: Lessons for Time Travel

Great news emerged last night on Twitter: Timeless, just cancelled by NBC, has now been renewed for a second season.  In other words, NBC does something a network rarely does, and never this quickly: it reversed its decision to cancel the series.

Or ...

Well, the lessons in this renewal for time travel make a good episode or even a series in itself.   Lucy, who's the most culturally adept on the time-travel team, went back just a few days in time and got NBC to see the light and keep the series going.   That point or something similar has been made everywhere, including by Eric Kripke.

But that's just the beginning of what this renewal can teach us about time travel.  We - you, me, everyone in the media and on Twitter - are fully aware that the series was just cancelled.  So this change-of-course by NBC, if it was the result of Lucy's travel to the past, tells us that when changes are made to the past, everyone in the world remembers the original reality (in this case, in which Timeless was cancelled) and the new one (in which Timeless was just renewed).

And this, in turn, tells us something very significant about the multiple universes hypothesis, which suggests that every time the past is changed, even in the slightest, a new universe or reality pops up.   We now know, since we are all well aware of the original and new realities regarding Timeless, that when a new reality is created, everyone in the new reality remembers the old reality - the two realities are not separate, mutually exclusive bubbles.

This may contradict a widely disseminated hypothesis about how Trump won the election (or the electoral college) - that some evil group from the future went back in time and monkeyed around with the votes in those few midwest states.   But since none of us actually remember Hillary winning the election - the original reality - this suggests that, if time travel were the reason, that in this case, unlike Timeless, changing the past also erased all memories of the original.

So, which is correct?  I'm going to go with the Timeless renewed being the result of time travel, and keep Trump out of my science fiction, since there's nothing the least bit enjoyable in that.

And I'll be back for sure with reviews for the new season of Timeless in 2018 ... unless something in history changes again.

See also Timeless 1.1: Threading the Needle ... Timeless 1.2: Small Change, Big Payoffs ... Timeless 1.3: Judith Campbell ... Timeless 1.4: Skyfall and Weapon of Choice ... Timeless 1.5: and Quantum Leap ... Timeless 1.6: Watergate and Rittenhouse ... Timeless 1.7: Stranded! ... Timeless 1.8: Time and Space ... Timeless 1.9: The Kiss and The Key ... Timeless 1.10: The End in the Middle ... Timeless 1.11: Edison, Ford, Morgan, Houdini, and Holmes (No, Not Sherlock)! ... Timeless 1.12: Incandescent West ... Timeless 1.13: Meeting, Mating, and Predictability ... Timeless 1.14: Paris in the 20s ... Timeless 1.15: Touched! .... Timeless 1.16: A Real Grandfather Paradox Story

-> and see also (evidence of original reality):  Time After Time, Timeless, and Frequency Now in the Dustbin of History


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Time After Time, Timeless, and Frequency in the Dustbin of History

It's been a bad year for time travel series on network television.

Time After Time, based on the excellent Malcolm McDowell movie, barely made it out of the starting gate on ABC.

Frequency, based on one of the best time travel movies ever made, had a short run on the CW, and was recently canceled. *Noted added 18 May 2017: But CW posted a very satisfying little epilogue - details here.

Timeless, a big ticket series on NBC, learned its sad fate yesterday.  *Note added 14 May 2017: But NBC reversed its decision and renewed Timeless after all!  See here.

Although I had good things to say about all three series, I can't say I'm surprised that they didn't make it.  In fact, though I'm always up for seeing any time travel on television, I also had problems with all three.

Frequency had in principle the best story.   The idea of a father (a cop) hearing from his son, in the future, that the father will be killed, worked well as a father and daughter set-up in the television series.   These kinds of personal time travel stories have a lot of appeal, precisely because they are a refreshing departure from saving the world.  But what worked great in the movie got bogged in the television series.   Of the three canceled series, I would have most wanted to see what happened next season, but the first season took a little too long to get there.

H. G. Wells traveling to our present in his time machine was a great idea for the Time After Time TV series as well as the movie.   For all we know, the series could have been excellent.  But we didn't get a chance to see that, and what we did see on screen got tied up in a few too many stories and subplots.

Timeless was original, and had some nice touches, such as travel to the past resulting in real, demonstrable changes in our present.   Most time travel stories don't dare go there.  But the labyrinth of conspiracies blunted the impact of the story, and the conspirators going back to the American Revolutionary War is something we saw before on screens.  *Note added 14 May 2017: Still, I'm very glad to see it renewed!

12 Monkeys returns for three nights on the SyFy Channel later this month, and then next year for a final season.   The future of time travel on the screen may well reside on Netflix and Amazon.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Americans 5.10: That Pastor, Again

The most interesting part of The Americans 5.10 last night - which, like House of Cards and Designated Survivor is becoming ever more like our reality off the drama screen, given who is actually in the White House - featured Paige bringing home photos of Pastor's Tim diary.

In particular, the part of the diary in which Tim writes about how abused Paige seems, worse than a victim of sexual abuse, was outrightly shocking.  No wonder Paige is upset about this.

And now Philip and Elizabeth will be, too.  With the big question of: what will they do about it?

The two are caught between a rock and a hard place regarding that worse than pesky pastor.  If they do anything to harm him - such as killing him - that would undoubtedly provoke out-of-control reactions from Paige, i.e., actions that her parents cannot control.

But is getting him out of the country enough?  Should Tim ever share his concerns with any authority, that could well be the end for Philip and Elizabeth.  And, given the intensity of his feelings, isn't it just a matter of time before he lets someone else know about Paige and her family?

Paige has been a ticking time bomb for Philip and Elizabeth for a while now.  They dodged a bullet with Paige and Stan's son.   But what Tim wrote in his diary is far more dangerous.

Based on the killings in Russia these days in our reality, it's pretty clear what Putin would do.   But that's reality.  In the fictional world of The Americans, will the writers come up with something better?







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