Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel

I was drawn to the Outlander series on Starz, because, as all of you devoted and casual readers of this blog well know, time travel is one of my passions, as a viewer, reader, and author.  In addition, the retooled Battlestar Galactica on the SyFy Channel a few years, by Ronald D. Moore, is one of my favorite series ever on television, period, and Outlander, based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, is Moore's baby on television.

The story certainly is firmly situated in time travel.  Claire, a newly married nurse in Britain in 1945, somehow slips through time and finds herself in the tumultuous Scotland of 1747.   But, so far, in the first three episodes at least, there's little more than a dash of time travel in this excellent historical narrative.

Indeed, we actually get a double historical narrative in Outlander, because 1945 is after all history to us, too.   But almost all the action after the first episode has been in 1747, where we meet a bow-legged Laird, and all kinds of colorful characters.   Claire's being a nurse makes her a good character for a time travel scenario, given that she brings to 1747 the greatly evolved medical knowledge of 1945.  But the main time travel in the story so far, other than her falling through time, is her interior monologues, interestingly consisting of her musing about how she can apply her future medical knowledge without arousing too much suspicion.

Instead of time travel, we get an immersion in the politics of the time, and a brewing flirtation between Claire and a handsome Scot soldier.  This creates a significant tension, since Claire's happily married in 1945 - but it's worth pointing out that someone who looks just like her husband is a no-good Brit in 1747, played by Tobias Menzies of Rome and all kinds of other fame.  If all of this were Claire's dream, her husband being a bad guy in 1747 would say something about her marriage in 1945 - but presumably, this is real not a dream.   So, what's someone who looks exactly like her husband doing back in 1747?   Surely not coincidence.  Did he time travel, too?   But, if so, how come he didn't recognize Claire?

I'll keep watching Outlander, but more for the historical romance than the time travel, which at this point is more of a hope than a reality.

 
Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tyrant Season 1 Finale: The Truest Tyrant

Well, the Tyrant season 1 finale was disappointing.   Here's why -

The whole story this season worked on the premise that Barry knew what he was doing.  Over and over again, he came out on top with his passion and savvy - including pushing the U.S. to continue supporting his coup when the U.S. wanted to pull out.  Given that Barry is such a shrewd and powerful political operator, despite his being a pediatrician, how could have failed so badly tonight?

That failure, though it was a nice twist, also shatters our suspension of disbelief about Barry - suspending the logic that an American, even if he is the son of Middle East dictator, could never really put together a successful coup against his brother.

Indeed, Jamal had shown himself crafty and even brilliant in his own right, too.  It makes perfect sense that he would be a little suspicious of his nervous in-law, who would then blurt out the whole truth. How could Barry not have seen this?

He's a neophyte at coups, ok.   But he was a neophyte at just about everything else on the series, and he succeeded at just about all of them.

I still enjoyed the season - very much, including most of tonight's episode - and I hope it comes back for another go.  Jamal, though a flawed leader, was given a stellar performance by Ashraf Barhom - who was indeed the best actor on the show, along with Moran Atias, who powerfully played his powerful wife.  Jamal and Barry's mother was given a winning performance by Alice Krige, too.   The brief scene in which she pleads with Jamal to spare Barry's life was one of the best this season.

So, yes, I want to see more of this story - including, most especially, what happens to Jamal - revealed tonight as the truest tyrant in Abuddin.

See also: Tyrant: Compelling Debut ... Tyrant 1.2: The Brother's Speech and His Wife ... Tyrant 1.3: A New Leaf? ... Tyrant 1.4: Close to the Bone ...Tyrant 1.6: Don't Mess with Jamal ... Tyrant 1.7-8: Coup ... Tyrant 1.9: Tariq

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Falling Skies 4.10: Lexi

One of the problems with Falling Skies this season has been the near-hopelessness of the human cause. Reduced to little more than a ragtag band, beset not only by the Espheni but by Lexi, who apparently was joining the Espheni cause and was waging something definitely not peace, our heroic few were driven to the shoot for the moon in last week's important episode.

But something just as or even more important happened in last night's 4.10:  Lexi is back with us!   She overhears her Espheni father and uncle planning on doing away with her - because the uncle, in particular, is concerned that she might be too loyal to her human side (just as our people are concerned about the slip side of that coin, that Lexi is too loyal to the Espheni) - and, just as her father is about to wring her neck, she uses her new found powers, that the father was training her to use, to kill the father. Good move for us.

It's still not clear, though, exactly who her parents are.   Anne's definitely her mother, ok.  But she calls Tom her father when she returns to our camp.  But if Tom's her father, where did the Espheni come in? As I've been saying since last season, probably Tom's reproductive DNA was fused with some Espheni genes when he was captive, before he slept with Anne, but it would nice if that were explained a little.

Nonetheless, Lexi with the humans definitely equals the odds and maybe more, which makes this a significant development for human-Espheni battles from now on.  She was able to kill not only her "father," but numerous Espheni air craft at the end of the episode.

Lots of good humor in this episode, too.  My favorite is Hal, talking to Ben about how they both want Maggi, opining that in a few years she'll likely marry Matt.

We won't likely see that, of course, the next season being the final one for Falling Skies, but it will be good nonetheless to see next week's Season 4 2-hour finale, and next season, too.

See also Falling Skies 4.1: Weak Start ... Falling Skies 4.2: Enemy of my Enemy ... Falling Skies 4.3: Still Falling ... Falling Skies 4.5: Cloudy ...Falling Skies 4.7: Massacre Indeed ... Falling Skies 4.8: Spike ...Falling Skies Espheni: How to Pronounce?

And see also Falling Skies 3.1-2: It's the Acting ... Falling Skies 3.3: The Smile ... Falling Skies 3.4: Hal vs. Ben ... Falling Skies 3.6: The Masons ...Falling Skies 3.7: The Mole and a Likely Answer ... Falling Skies 3.8: Back Cracked Home ... Falling Skies Season 3 Finale: Dust in Hand

And see also Falling Skies Returns  ... Falling Skies 2.6: Ben's Motives ... Falling Skies Second Season Finale

And see also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column ... Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors ... Falling Skies 1.8: Weaver's Story ... Falling Skies Concludes First Season

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no moon, no aliens, but other strange stuff

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ray Donovan 2.7: The Party from Hell

We already knew that Ray's family was a dysfunctional family par excellence.  But in episode 2.7, probably the best episode so far in the series, as far as family is concerned, we see the dysfunction in high, brilliant relief at Conor's 14th birthday party, where everything that can go wrong with jaggedly broken family short of murder does do wrong, and worse.

The episode, by the way, was directed by Liev Schreiber, who put in even more than his customarily outstanding performance along with Jon Voight, who has been tour de force in this series every time he's on screen.   Mickey gives the car that Daryll loves to Conor, and the result practically breaks up Mickey and his often professed love of his life.   What was Mickey thinking?  Was this just an absent-minded oversight, or was Mickey trying to punish Daryll because of Daryll's anger about not wanting to get literally beaten in the boxing matches Mickey was setting up for Daryll in Mexico?  What makes this so memorable is that you never quite know, and, in Mickey's case, it's at least a little of both.

Ray and Terry nearly come to blows over Terry's need to sell the gym and move to Ireland.  Mickey makes things worse in this exchange, too, by pointing out that Ray has been using Terry's gym to launder money.   Bunchy feels poorly treated by Ray, too.   Abby is finally driven to the arms of the cop - likely this time to be consummated - and Bridget is furious with Ray, too, after he forbids her to see Marvin Gaye Washington.   So furious, indeed, that she alerts Ray that something suspicious is going on with Abby.

In the end, the only one still on good terms with Ray is Conor.   In a great closing scene, the two dance to Aerosmith's "Walk this Way".   This is highly significant, too.  With all the rampant breakdown around them, there is still a profound tie between father and son, Ray and Conor.   In that sense, at least so far, Ray has improved the relationship that he as a son had and had with Mickey.

No FBI in this show.   No Ezra and no Avi or Lena.  Just family - for at least 90% of the episode - which is what Ray Donovan excels in showing in all its magnificent dysfunction.  Just about everyone at the party did something wrong, or something to aggravate the situation.  Everyone except Conor - but he contributed, too, by having a birthday.

See also Ray Donovan 2.1: Back in Business ... Ray Donovan 2.4: The Bad Guy ... Ray Donovan 2.5: Wool Over Eyes

And see also Ray Donovan Debuts with Originality and Flair ... Ray Donovan 1.2: His Assistants and his Family ... Ray Donovan 1.3: Mickey ... Ray Donovan 1.7 and Whitey Bulger ... Ray Donovan 1.8: Poetry and Death ... Ray Donovan Season 1 Finale: The Beginning of Redemption


 does have some FBI agents

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Rectify Season 2 Finale: Talk about Cliff Hangers!

Whew - talk about cliff-hangers!   The season 2 finale of Rectify was about the steepest psychological cliff and the most sudden hang I've ever seen on a television series.

Here's what I think is about clear as day about what happened to Hanna, revealed before the cliff-hanger.

Daniel didn't kill her.   He tells the truth about happened before he says he killed her, just to get the plea deal on the way.  And the truth is that he watched as George and Trey and who knows who else actually killed Hanna.  But he didn't kill her.   Indeed, he put her legs back together in a more modest position and covered her private parts with wildflowers.   That was the aftermath of a depraved act, but the depravity was in what Daniel saw not what he did.

And he feels guilty because he was frozen.   He also feels guilty about what he did to Teddy, Jr last week (in narrative time, last season in terms of when we saw it).  His admission to Tawney is not enough to relieve him of all of this guilt, which is why he wants to leave.

His very admission to Tawney shows he didn't kill Hanna.  He tells Tawney that he learned how to be violent in prison - or well after Hanna was killed.   Amantha knows he's innocent, too - in her heart - which is why, in just a beautifully played scene, she tells Daniel that if he accepts the plea deal and leaves home she won't reach out to him any more.   She can't abide his denial of what she knows so deeply in her soul is true:  Daniel is a good person.

But here's where we are, and what we'll have to wait on until the next season.  George's body is found in the river. That's good.  But Teddy, Jr. - who, even if I try hard, I just can't feel sorry for - tells the sheriff about the coffee grounds, which information is duly passed on the Prosecutor.

So will this kill the plea deal?  I'd guess that it will.  Which will keep Daniel home and in the mix.   And he'll be liable not only for a retrial for Hanna's murder, but a new trial for his assault on Teddy, Jr.

A fine, excruciating set-up indeed for Season 3.  Bring it on!

See also Rectify 2.1: Indelible ... Rectify 2.2: True Real Time ... Rectify 2.3: Daniel's Motives ... Rectify 2.4: Jekyll and Hyde ... Rectify 2.6: Rare Education ... Rectify 2.7: The Plot Thickens ... Rectify 2.8: The Plea Bargain and the Smart Phone ... Rectify 2.9: Dancing in the Dark

And see also Rectify: Sheer and Shattering Poetry ... Rectify 1.5: Balloon Man ... Rectify Season 1 Finale: Searingly Anti-Climactic

 
another kind of capital punishment

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Bridge 2.7: Major Business

Major doings on the taut, powerful episode of The Bridge 2.7 last night -





  • Fausto has David killed.  This is a significant moment, because Fausto does this after he hears Marco's explanation for why Marco didn't do it.  Fausto clearly sees through Marco's rationalization.  And now Marco is even more indebted to Fausto, whether he wants this or not.
  • Hank admits to Sonya that he killed her sister's killer.  Although Hank genuinely apologizes to Sonya - who says she became a cop before she so admired Hank - the elephant in the room is that Hank doesn't need to apologize.  Yeah, he took matters into his own hand, but ridding the world of a sick psycho multi-killer requires no apology.
  • Adriana's lady lover is apparently brutally murdered, though she's able to kill her attacker.  I say "apparently," because you never know for sure on television, unless someone's head is blown cleanly off, and even then you can't be 100% sure.  But Adriana and Daniel are clearly being drawn into the deadly center of this season's narrative, which is good for the story.
  • Marco sleeps with a woman who looks familiar, if I got that right in the dark bar and after.  It was good to see Marco get some loving, but would have been even better  had the woman some connection to the major story lines in the series.  When I heard her tell Marco that her daughter disappeared, I thought for a second that maybe she was the mother of the younger woman Linder has been taking care of.   Linder is being drawn into the center of this season's story, too, rather than being in the distant outskirts as he was last season, and I'd like to see him drawn in even more.
All in all, this is a much tighter season than last year's, in which there was a strong central story and a lot of interesting, almost disparate threads around the edges.   This year, it's increasingly clear that most or all of characters are on the same page, which makes the remaining episodes especially important and intriguing.

See also The Bridge 2.1: What Motivates Sonya? ... The Bridge 2.2: First-Class Serial Killer ... The Bridge 2.3: Marco's Dilemma ... The Bridge 2.4: Marco Redeemed and Mr. Writ Large ... The Bridge 2.5: The Soul of the Not-Killer

And see also The Bridge Opens Brooding and Valent ... The Bridge 1.2: A Tale of Two Beds ... The Bridge 1.6: Revelations ... The Bridge 1.7: A Killer and a Reluctant Professor ... The Bridge 1.8: Some Dark Poetic Justice ... The Bridge 1.9: Trade-Off ... The Bridge 1.10: Charlotte's Evolution ... The Bridge 1.11: Put to the Test ... The Bridge Season 1 Finale: Marco Joins Mackey and Agnew

 
another kind of crime story

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tyrant 1.9: Tariq

In many ways the pivotal character of Tyrant 1.9 last night was Tariq.

First, it's clever indeed to mask Barry's gathering coup with the lie that Tariq is plotting a coup against Jamal.   This works for Barry because, as he tells us later, Tariq betrayed Barry's father Khaled, when Tariq attacked the Sheikh's people to undermine the peace Khaled was close to successfully negotiating with the Sheikh.

Barry plays this Tariq-coup card perfectly, not only with Jamal but with Leila, who is as ready to believe as is Jamal that Tariq is plotting to overthrow her husband.   What Barry has going for him at this critical juncture, of course, is  the trust that Jamal and Leila now have for him, since Barry in fact put the final nail in the Sheikh's coffin, at the crucial moment.

Which of the two - Jamal or Leila - will guess or see the truth first?  Likely Leila, not only because she's smarter than Jamal, but also because she a little more distance from the events.  The depth of Jamal's commitment to Barry is clearly seen when Jamal warns Tariq not to slander his good brother - a deliciously ironic moment, since the jailing of Tariq that led to his verbal slashing of Barry is part of the very plot by Barry to take Jamal's place.

But what will or would Leila do if and when she realizes what's actually going on?  As I mentioned last week, I think a part of Leila may not be completely sad to see Jamal gone, especially with Barry in his place and Molly gone back to the states.   She feels guilty now that her denial of Jamal's daydream of retiring to the Maldives put Jamal in such a vulnerable position, but just how far this guilt will go remains unclear.

All of this - including how Leila feels about this - hinges on what will happen to Jamal after the coup.  I can't see Barry killing him - he doesn't even want Tariq killed.  But if the coup succeeds, which I'd say is likely, can Barry afford to have Jamal hanging around?  Or will Jamal go, with or without Leila, to the Maldives - or, who knows, to the United States?

Should be a great season finale next week.

See also: Tyrant: Compelling Debut ... Tyrant 1.2: The Brother's Speech and His Wife ... Tyrant 1.3: A New Leaf? ... Tyrant 1.4: Close to the Bone ...Tyrant 1.6: Don't Mess with Jamal ... Tyrant 1.7-8: Coup

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Falling Skies 4.9: To the Moon, Anne, To the Moon!

The big story development in Falling Skies 2.9 - the second good episode in a row - is the discovery that the Espheni are controlling their operations from a base on the moon - on our moon, that is.  This leads to a good rendition by Tom of JFK's exhortation that we'll get to the moon by the end of the decade - the 1960s - except, of course, that Tom wants to start working on this right away.

Anne, sometimes the voice of reason, thinks it's a crazy, unworkable idea.  But Tom talk her into it, even before they're formally married, in a nice ceremony performed old reliable Weaver.   But it's good to see the moon brought into Falling Skies.

The moon, unsurprisingly, has been the focus of some of the best science fiction ever written, ranging from Robert Heinlein's Moon is Harsh Mistress to David S. Michaels and Daniel Brenton's Red Moon, the best science fiction novel that you probably never heard of.   And what's not to like about the moon as part of the story of Falling Skies?  It's a great locale because, after all, we indeed actually set foot on it in 1969, and a few times after, though nowhere nearly enough.

Indeed, the Espheni use of the moon can be seen as a good argument for us to get cracking as a species and get ourself on the moon in a more permanent way.   If we had actually done that by now in our reality, we might have seen the Espheni approaching before they wreaked havoc on us, and might have even be able to take out their base.

But, then, there would gave been no Falling Skies, and though I wouldn't have missed the show all that much earlier this season, it's finally come alive in the month of August.   Looks like some good episodes ahead this season and next.

See Red Moon: The Best Novel You Likely Never Heard Of

See also Falling Skies 4.1: Weak Start ... Falling Skies 4.2: Enemy of my Enemy ... Falling Skies 4.3: Still Falling ... Falling Skies 4.5: Cloudy ...Falling Skies 4.7: Massacre Indeed ... Falling Skies 4.8: Spike ... Falling Skies Espheni: How to Pronounce?

And see also Falling Skies 3.1-2: It's the Acting ... Falling Skies 3.3: The Smile ... Falling Skies 3.4: Hal vs. Ben ... Falling Skies 3.6: The Masons ...Falling Skies 3.7: The Mole and a Likely Answer ... Falling Skies 3.8: Back Cracked Home ... Falling Skies Season 3 Finale: Dust in Hand

And see also Falling Skies Returns  ... Falling Skies 2.6: Ben's Motives ... Falling Skies Second Season Finale

And see also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column ... Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors ... Falling Skies 1.8: Weaver's Story ... Falling Skies Concludes First Season

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no moon, no aliens, but other strange stuff

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Falling Skies Espheni: How to Pronounce

As we wait for tonight's episode of Falling Skies, I thought it might be a good time to check in with a question: how do you pronounced Espheni?

Hal pronounces it exactly as written - as it it were spelled Esfeni - but his father Tom goes for the more Yiddish pronunciation, Eshpheni, almost Eshphveni.   Both have extensive experience with these alien overlords, so both would be in a good position to know how to pronounce their name.  Who is right, father or son?

It's tempting to think Tom is right, and Hal is doing the same thing to Eshphveni as Barry White did to "shtick" in his 1973 hit, "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up," where he sang out, "Quittin' just ain't my stick."  Not to beat the late, great Barry over the head with a stick about this, but that's a pretty bad (in a bad way) rendition of shtick, tantamount to saying someone is a "smuck" when you mean he's a "schmuck".

It's also reminiscent to me of the mispronunciation of a friend's name, Wachtel, in which the "ch" is supposed to be pronounced the same as the "ch" in Chanuka, itself often mispronounced Hanukah. Lots of people, who can't do that  "ch" sound, pronounce Wachtel's name as if it were spelled Watchtel - like a watch.  Others go for "Wacktel," as if it were spelled "Woktel," like a wok.  Some just give up completely and go for Wa'tel, which does have an adventurous Arabic flavor.

But back to Falling Skies, how can we find out the right way to pronounce Espheni?   The Volm pronounce it the way Tom does, but they're are not a reliable resource, because they have their own issues with the murderous aliens.   Neither are humans who have been taken over by them, since that happened to Tom and Hal, and the two have such distinctly different pronunciations.

We could look for an Espheni pronouncing his or her own name - that is, the name of their people - but, alas, the alien species is apparently not able to vocalize, except for a grunt or two when they're wounded.

I think I'm going to go with Tom's pronunciation.  He's after all the father.  And Weaver pronounces it like Tom, too. And Hal's pronunciation also reminds me of another friend, who years ago said he wanted to get a nosh in perfect pronunciation, but then blew it by saying he was in the mood for a "nish," that delicious potato concoction otherwise pronounced "knish" with the "k" and the "n" both prominent.

See also Falling Skies 4.1: Weak Start ... Falling Skies 4.2: Enemy of my Enemy ... Falling Skies 4.3: Still Falling ... Falling Skies 4.5: Cloudy ...Falling Skies 4.7: Massacre Indeed ... Falling Skies 4.8: Spike

And see also Falling Skies 3.1-2: It's the Acting ... Falling Skies 3.3: The Smile ... Falling Skies 3.4: Hal vs. Ben ... Falling Skies 3.6: The Masons ...Falling Skies 3.7: The Mole and a Likely Answer ... Falling Skies 3.8: Back Cracked Home ... Falling Skies Season 3 Finale: Dust in Hand

And see also Falling Skies Returns  ... Falling Skies 2.6: Ben's Motives ... Falling Skies Second Season Finale

And see also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column ... Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors ... Falling Skies 1.8: Weaver's Story ... Falling Skies Concludes First Season

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Rectify 2.9: Dancing in the Dark

Another beautiful, sad, powerful, altogether blue episode of Rectify tonight - 2.9 - which pretty much reverses most of the major threads we saw last week. That would be astonishing for most television series, but not for Rectify,  which never fails to surprise and shatter our expectations, in the best possible way.

Last week, in Rectify 2.8, it looked like the book was pretty much closing on the Daniel and Tawny chapter.  But tonight's episode ends with the two of them dancing alone and tenderly in a room late at night.  The way they got there is also significant - Tawny lost her baby, which was the all-but-irreversible obstacle to she and Daniel getting together.

They're not together yet - just dancing in the quiet of night isn't quite together - but this move also could be the basis for reversing another turn of events.  Last week, it looked as if Daniel, by insisting on no time served, was saying no to the plea deal.  This week, the state's offer has changed to just Daniel banished from the state of Georgia - an offer that is not without its appeal to Daniel, given his high load of guilt.

Amantha of course doesn't want Daniel to do this.   He can't even bring himself to tell his mother he's considering this.  Jon tells Amantha that he'll talk Daniel into rejecting the deal - but Daniel is not that easy to be talked out of anything.  Will the availability of Tawny - if she's now available - change his mind?  It's more likely than anything else to get him not to want to leave Georgia, unless she leaves with him.

Meanwhile, the sheriff is finally beginning to look into George's absence, and this may well provide the key to what happened on that fateful night.   The season finale is next week, and I've to say I've enjoyed every episode this season nothing less than immensely.

See also Rectify 2.1: Indelible ... Rectify 2.2: True Real Time ... Rectify 2.3: Daniel's Motives ... Rectify 2.4: Jekyll and Hyde ... Rectify 2.6: Rare Education ... Rectify 2.7: The Plot Thickens ... Rectify 2.8: The Plea Bargain and the Smart Phone

And see also Rectify: Sheer and Shattering Poetry ... Rectify 1.5: Balloon Man ... Rectify Season 1 Finale: Searingly Anti-Climactic

 
another kind of capital punishment

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