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Friday, February 15, 2019

The Orville 2.7: Love and Death



A perfect Orville - 2.7 - for Valentine's Day, which explains why The Orville didn't have a new episode last week.  The powers that be wanted to make sure this episode aired on Valentine's Day.  And they were right.  Love was in the air for Ed and Kelly - or the rekindling of the continuation of their love - and for Talia and a brilliant Moclan engineer, Locar, who comes aboard to refit the ship with a new deflector system.  "Deflectors," the title of the episode, works well, since there are all kinds of psychological deflectors, in addition to the physical, at play in this story.

But this episode is not only about love.  Apropos Freud's libido and thanatos, it's also about death - or, about an apparent murder - of Locar - and whodunnit.   And although I've given a lot of the story away, I'll leave out the resolution of the whodunnit, in case you haven't yet seen this fine hour.

All of this is also set against a theme that goes back to the original Star Trek, about how the prejudices that currently afflict us on Earth play out in the stars in the future among humans and other species.  Locar's attraction to Talia goes against a profound taboo in  Moclan anti-woman culture: the sexual attraction of any Moclan to a woman - a woman of any species.

The Moclan are in many ways like humans on Earth in the 20th century.  Presumably we're a bit more evolved now.  But we come from a past rife with prejudice and viciousness.  And come to think of it, not all current humans are beyond that today.   Not only in less developed countries, but in the so-called most advanced countries and cultures in the world, including right here in the United States.

I guess that's a sobering thought for Valentine's Day.   But that's why I entitled this review "Love and Death," not just "Love". Thanks to The Orville for an outstanding episode that brings this reality to the screen.

See also The Orville 2.1: Relief and Romance ... The Orville 2.2: Porn Addiction and Planetary Disintegration ... The Orville 2.3: Alara ... The Orville 2.4: Billy Joel ... The Orville 2.5: Escape at Regor 2 ... The Orville 2.6: "Singin' in the Rain"

And see also The Orville 1.1-1.5: Star Trek's Back ... The Orville 1.6-9: Masterful ... The Orville 1.10: Bring in the Clowns ... The Orville 1.11: Eating Yaphit ... The Orville 1.12: Faith in Reason and the Prime Directive


1st starship to Alpha Centauri ... had only enough fuel to get there



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Project Blue Book 1.6: The Team



My favorite part of Project Blue Book 1.6 last night - and also likely to have some beneficial consequences for Hynek's investigation - is his decision to bring his wife Mimi into his investigations of extra-terrestrial visitations, so the two of them are a "team".

This is a crucial decision for all kinds of reasons.  Mimi is smart and loves him.  Hynek is learning that he can't really trust anyone else - including, sadly, Quinn, who folds when the Generals apply pressure.  I'm still hopeful that he might break away sooner rather than later, and work 100% with Hynek, but this has yet to happen.

My second favorite part is Michael Imperioli in a small role (as of now) as a Soviet agent (or, at least, identified as such by those Generals).   The Soviet part of this is a good counterpart to the extra-terrestrials.  They need to be reckoned with.  The blonde's husband is brutal, and doesn't hesitate to kill anyone who he thinks knows too much, and that apparently includes just seeing him.  Mimi on the team is thus a two-edged sword: she'll no doubt be a big help to Hynek, but her friendship with Susie (the blonde) means that the Soviets could have even better entree to Hynek's work.

And the role of the priest - who seems to know a lot, or more than Hynek, about the extra-terrestrials - is also an important development.  I've been saying for more than a couple of years that religion and space explorations are natural partners - see Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion - and it will be fun and significant to see where this goes.

Project Blue Book could easily be mistaken as an obvious, superficial narrative with 1950s B-movie values.  It's indeed that, but it's beginning to mine deeper elements.  Stay tuned.  I definitely will.

 See also:  Project Blue Book 1.1: Science Fiction, Or? ... Project Blue 1.2: Calling Roy Thinnes ... Project Blue Book 1.3: Peggy Sue Gets Space Ship ... Project Blue Book 1.4: von Braun ... Project Blue Book 1.5: A Theory



here I am talking Ancient Aliens a few years ago on the History Channel

The Break (La Trêve) Season 2: The Broken Detective



Season 2 of The Break (La Trêve) - Belgian noir with a vengeance (in French with English subtitles, on Netflix) - was even better than the first, with a tighter story that made more sense in the end.  It was more grim, far darker, which is saying a lot, since the first season was already on the grim side of grim.

Yoann Peeters is "broken," as he says close to the end of this new story.  He was broken when we first met him in the first season, escaping from the big city and the death of his wife to find some peace in his small hometown in the countryside.  Of course, he finds nothing like that, and the end of the first season leaves him more broken than ever.

He's escaped to the classroom - as a teacher - when the second season begins.  And he's inexorably drawn into a complex, harrowing case by a woman psychologist, Jasmina, who was his therapist in the past.  They also have something of a romantic spark.  One of her patients, Dany, has recently been released from prison after serving nine years for the murder of his girlfriend (that sentence seems a little light, but maybe Belgium and the U.S mete out sentences differently).  He's now accused of  killing an older woman in a brutal attack - he was her gardener - but Jasmina is convinced that Dany didn't do it, and is being railroaded into a confession, just as she believes happened with Dany for the first murder.  Add to that the local police, some of whom seem to have a vested interest in Dany being put away for the second murder as quickly as possible, and it's no wonder that Yoann is pulled out of his retirement into the new case.

But he's still broken.  His instincts are frayed and he has a tendency to switch his conclusion of who is the murderer as soon as new evidence comes through.   And there are suspects and evidence indeed.   Dany's brother Christian and his wife Sophie are high on the list, as are various people involved in an attempt to buy out the murder victim's property to build a road (good timing for us here in the US - reminded me of Trump's wanting to confiscate people's property to build his wall).  Some of the police themselves are not beyond being suspect for the crime, as is Yoann's daughter's girlfriend.

So Yoann the anti-hero has his hands full.  He has almost no one on his side except Jasmina, and even she might not have been telling him the entire truth.   I won't say anything more specific, but there are false starts, different kinds of villains, and all the stuff that makes the second season of La Trêve a grade-A whodunnit.  And the series is aptly named.  On one level, the break is Yoann trying to get away from big city police life.   On the deeper level, it's about the break in Yoann's persona, the breaks in his fractured mind. 

Back in the 1970s, I used to talk about what I termed the "defective detective" on American television - Longstreet was blind, Ironside in a wheel-chair, Barnaby Jones was old, and Columbo was a schlep.  The Break takes this to a whole new, frightening level, as Yoann (superbly acted by Yoann Blanc - all the acting is excellent) races against his disintegrating mind to find the truth.   Does he get there in time?

Binging the ten hours of The Break is well worth your time to find out.

See also The Break (La Trêve): Riveting Belgian Whodunnit, But

 

Monday, February 11, 2019

True Detective 3.6: Great Conversations



One way of looking at True Detective 3.6 is that we still don't know what Hays and West did in 1990 that was so bad. And there are only two episodes left in which we can find this out - not to mention who was the killer and kidnapper, assuming the two were the same person.

But a better way of looking at True Detective 3.6 is that the conversations and the performances are so important that none of that matters.  Like the conversation between Hays and his son in the present (actually, 2015) in which Hays gives his grown and married son some sage advice for life, after Hays the elder figures out that his son is having an affair with the woman who's interviewing the older Hays for the television documentary on the murder/kidnap case.  This conversation is timeless.  And it's more than fine with me if the plot's main reason for existence is to serve as a foundation for such conversations.

But the plot's still of interest.   At this point, I'm not even clear if Julie - the girl who was kidnapped - is still alive in 2015.   As Hays and West come to realize, there are lot of people dead in this case.  Are they collateral damage, or were all or most of their deaths directly related to the case, to cover up the crime, or whatever.   And if not all or most, which of the few deaths are direct outgrowths of the crime?

We also have a lot to learn about Hays' marriage.  What caused Amelia death?  I suppose illness - but could her demise (assuming she is indeed dead) also have been some consequence of the original crime, something she was uncovering in research for her second book, something which the killer or the powerful people behind or covering up the killing didn't want the world to know?

Many questions, brilliant scenes, and just two episodes to go.  See you here next week,

See also True Detective 3.1-2: Humanistic Disturbances of the Soul ...True Detective 3.3: Unquestioned Witnesses ... True Detective 3.4: All Hat, No Answers ... True Detective 3.5: Tour de Force Scene in the Present

And see also Season Two: True Detective: All New ... True Detective 2.2: Pulling a Game of Thrones ... True Detective 2.3: Buckshot and Twitty ...True Detective 2.4: Shoot-out ... True Detective 2.7: Death and the Anti-Hero ... True Detective Season 2 Finale: Good Smoke but No Cigar

And see also Season One: True Detective: Socrates in Louisiana ... True Detective Season One Finale: Light above Darkness

 
 philosophic crime fiction:  The Plot to Save Socrates 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Counterpart 2.9: Emily and Mira

 

The two - Emily Prime and Mira Prime - really had little to do with each other in Counterpart 2.9. But they symbolize what was best about this outstanding episode.

I've been saying that Counterpart is at least as much about the impact of the two realities on family relationships as it is about the taut espionage that courses between them.  Emily and Emily Prime have a great coming-to-terms conversation, in which, for the first time, Emily almost seems superior to Emily Prime.  But the scene with Howard in the middle of the crossing, looking back at Emily Prime one more time, after he kissed her, and walking to Emily, whom he hugs, was really something.   In a way that surpasses mere words, that scene symbolized the impossible complexity of family relationships across dimensions.

And Mira Prime with Yanek Prime epitomized the enormous power and appeal of espionage across dimensions.   Ian is no match for Mira, and neither is Yanek.   Her massacre of everyone left on Yanek's team shows her devotion to her plan over human life, an unfortunate but necessary characteristic for any spy bent on nothing but success.  And then the payoff: there's a Mira in our world, with children, which Grandpa Yanek can go "home" to.

The unmovable logic of even the most sophisticated television series dictates that Mira and her plan cannot succeed completely - unless next week's finale is the finale of the series not the season.  Because if the crossing is permanently closed, and our side decimated by the deadly flu, that would make Counterpart almost unrecognizable as the narrative we know.

But ,,, there's not yet word, at the moment, of whether there'll be a Season 3 of Counterpart.  Two is a nice round and logical number for a series named Counterpart.  But I'm hoping, betting that Mira will not succeed and we'll see more of Counterpart with its two realities some time in the future.  I'll be back here next week.



a song about love and alternate realities

See also:  Counterpart 2.1: "Strange" and "Lucky" ... Counterpart 2.2: The Emilys ... Counterpart 2.3: Echo ... Counterpart 2.4: Three Emilys and Yanek ... Counterpart 2.5: The World-Splitter ... Counterpart 2.6: Young Yaneks  ... Counterpart 2.7: Good Metaphors ... Counterpart 2.8: The Metaphysics of Marriage Across Alternate Realities

And see also  Counterpart 1.1: Fringe on Espionage ... Counterpart 1.2: Two Different Worlds ... Counterpart 1.3: Identification and Pandemic ... Counterpart 1.4: The Switch ... Counterpart 1.5: Ménage à Alternates ... Counterpart 1.6: Alternate Prince, Funeral, and Clear Clare ... Counterpart 1.7: Spying Across Dimensions ... Counterpart 1.8: Conversations ... Counterpart 2.9: The Spy Who Came Into the Fold ...Counterpart Season 1 Finale: Stuck in the Middle



alternate Orson Welles in here

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Project Blue Book 1.5: A Theory



A taut, tight episode 1.5 of Project Blue Book - may be my favorite so far - in which Hynek and Quinn chase down numbers and radio broadcasts and the mysterious Fuller, who meets his end by self-immolation.  Harding - more about the General below - thinks someone set off the kill switch in Fuller's head.  We know that Hynek did - unintentionally - by showing Fuller the diagram.

We also learn that there's a group of pilots - the Foo Fighters, from which the episode gets its title - who saw strange things in the sky in 1944.   They now believe they are in touch with the extra-terrestrials, a belief which Hynek (not Quinn this time), dispels.  Nice touch having Hynek being the one to shoot down incorrect beliefs about UFOs.   I also liked the possible commencing of seduction of Quinn by Susie the blond Soviet spy.



But let's get back to Harding.  Here's his picture.  You tell me: doesn't he look like an alien?  If he is, that changes everything.  It means at least he, and likely General Valentine, are not just trying to cover up extra-terrestrials on Earth.  Indeed, not even just working with them.  But ... they are part of the invasion from the stars themselves.

If that's true, if this story of Project Blue Book is the aliens are not only already here, but in our government, how far does this go?  Is von Braun, the focus of last week's episode, an extra-terrestrial, too?   Or, put otherwise, who isn't?  Likely not Hynek or his wife, or Quinn, but maybe Susie or her husband (now separated, or so she says).   No reason the Soviets shouldn't have extra-terrestrials amongst them, if we do.

We'll see what transpires in the weeks ahead.

See also:  Project Blue Book 1.1: Science Fiction, Or? ... Project Blue 1.2: Calling Roy Thinnes ... Project Blue Book 1.3: Peggy Sue Gets Space Ship ... Project Blue Book 1.4: von Braun



here I am talking Ancient Aliens a few years ago on the History Channel

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Russian Doll: Time Loops à Deux



Russian Doll is billed in some places as a comedy, but it's better than that.  Ok, maybe that's a bit unfair.  Comedies can be great, and profound.   But Russian Doll is something else.

Its basic template is Groundhog Day: Nadia is caught up in a recurring loop which obliges her to live part of a day or longer over and over, until, as she comes to learn, she corrects something in her past.  The spice is that the trigger of each loop is death - hers.  The breakthrough into new and rich narrative is she discovers, about half-way through the eight 30-minute episodes, that she's not the only one who's dying into recursive loops - so is Alan, whom she meets in an elevator, on its way to crashing and killing its passengers, but Alan, like her, knows what's coming.

This sets in motion a folie à deux between the two, actually a reality, as Nadia and Alan begin to realize, the hard way, that by working together they can stop their recurring deaths, by coming to terms with the destructive issues in their lives which somehow started all of this in the first place.  For Nadia, it's the guilt she feels about her mother's death after Nadia as a child left her.  For Alan, it's understanding why his girlfriend of nine years left him.  But those specifics hardly matter.  It's the way these two work things out, and the impact that has on those around them, that is the meat of this narrative.

And, indeed, the one reservation I have about calling Russian Doll a complete success is that I liked that process, beginning with the introduction of Alan, better than the resolution.  Without giving everything away, that ending entails reality itself splitting in two (calling Counterpart), with a knowledgeable Nadia and an unknowing in Alan in one, and a knowledgeable Alan and an unknowing Nadia in the other.  This facilitates each one educating the other. Well, I guess that does give a lot away, but at least I haven't told you how it all turns out.

But pulling that ending out of some metaphysician's hat weakens, I think, an otherwise brilliant and original composition on time loops.   Still worth watching, and eminently recommended, with fine acting by Natasha Lyonne as Nadia (one of the creators, along with Leslye Headland and the Amy Poehler) and Charlie Barnett (Chicago Fire) as Alan, and great New York locales.

 





Sunday, February 3, 2019

True Detective 3.5: Tour de Force Scene in the Present



A decisive episode of True Detective tonight - 3.5 - in which current, 70-year-old Hays, not in full possession of his faculties, nonetheless has enough to convince his erstwhile, burned-out partner West to join him in the hope of finally putting their 1980 kidnap and murder case to rest.

This twilight alliance is all the more remarkable, given that West reveals to Hays that the two of them did something very wrong or bad when the case was reopened in 1990.  Hays doesn't remember this. But some part of his brain, now unavailable to his consciousness, no doubt knows this.

It was a rough and bruising hour, otherwise.  Though Hays and Amelia finally get totally together in 1980, he's pushing her further away in 1990.  It takes their two kids to get them - temporarily, no doubt - to put down their arms.   Hays at this point is clearly getting angrier at Amelia and her book and her author's interest in the case, as it becomes clear that Hays missed something big back in 1980.

Back to the present, it's important to note that Hays, notwithstanding his mental decline, still has a lot on the ball.  He realizes that the kidnapped kids' mother wrote the note that indicated the daughter was still alive, because that note used the same language that Amelia picked up in an interview with the mother and used in her book.  (I'm not even considering that Amelia wrote the note, and that's why the language is the same, because that would be too crazy even for True Detective.  Right?  I hope so.)  And all of this comes out against the backdrop of seeing how the mother died, a druggie in some room.

But the best scene, in addition to being a powerful move in the plot, was Hays and West together talking in West's home in the present.  A tour-de-force of acting for both Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff, and indeed this whole season of True Detective is an increasing tour-de-force.

See also True Detective 3.1-2: Humanistic Disturbances of the Soul ...True Detective 3.3: Unquestioned Witnesses ... True Detective 3.4: All Hat, No Answers

And see also Season Two: True Detective: All New ... True Detective 2.2: Pulling a Game of Thrones ... True Detective 2.3: Buckshot and Twitty ...True Detective 2.4: Shoot-out ... True Detective 2.7: Death and the Anti-Hero ... True Detective Season 2 Finale: Good Smoke but No Cigar

And see also Season One: True Detective: Socrates in Louisiana ... True Detective Season One Finale: Light above Darkness

 
 philosophic crime fiction:  The Plot to Save Socrates 

Counterpart 2.8: The Metaphysics of Marriage Across Alternate Realities

 

The Howard and Emily stories were the main focus of tonight's Counterpart 2.8, and they both achieved, if not a climax, some of kind of surge to a higher ground of clarity.

The set-up is as it's been all season:  Howard and Emily Prime in prime world, Howard Prime and Emily in ours.   Howard was shot pretty badly last week.  Emily Prime gets her daughter (Emily Prime and Howard Prime's daughter) who is a doctor, and she saves Howard.  She also comes to make peace with him (thinking, of course, that he's her father).  Emily Prime is determined to work out some deal with Management - who tried to kill them - to let Harold go back to his wife in our world.  A part of her cannot feel great about that, because she's coming to really love this Howard, and he is feeling the same about her.

At the same time, back in our world, Emily is really all but recovered from her rendezvous with a car.  She takes great pleasure in breaking a code with Howard Prime.  They tell each other they love each other, and mean it, and then go off to the bedroom to carnally express that.  A little later, Howard Prime gets up, hears some intruders, and kills all three (nice Counterpart counterpoint: Howard is almost killed, Howard Prime kills three).  They have come to kill Emily.  But she, seeing his martial prowess - in addition to presumably also earlier seeing his marital process - realizes that this Howard is, after all, not hers.  She tells Howard Prime to leave.

So ... as I've said about Counterpart before, the course of true love never did run smooth, especially when that course entails switching partners across dimensions.  Only two episodes left this season.  Here's what I'm hoping:  that none of the four get killed, and that each will be able to stay with the one they truly love.

But I'm a hopeless romantic, so that's not likely to happen.  Not to mention that the other side has a nefarious plan to release the flu on our side, and that needs to be stopped (hey, I'm loyal to our side, because that's my side, isn't it?).  I'll be back here next week to tell you how at least the first part of that goes.



a song about love and alternate realities

See also:  Counterpart 2.1: "Strange" and "Lucky" ... Counterpart 2.2: The Emilys ... Counterpart 2.3: Echo ... Counterpart 2.4: Three Emilys and Yanek ... Counterpart 2.5: The World-Splitter ... Counterpart 2.6: Young Yaneks  ... Counterpart 2.7: Good Metaphors

And see also  Counterpart 1.1: Fringe on Espionage ... Counterpart 1.2: Two Different Worlds ... Counterpart 1.3: Identification and Pandemic ... Counterpart 1.4: The Switch ... Counterpart 1.5: Ménage à Alternates ... Counterpart 1.6: Alternate Prince, Funeral, and Clear Clare ... Counterpart 1.7: Spying Across Dimensions ... Counterpart 1.8: Conversations ... Counterpart 2.9: The Spy Who Came Into the Fold ...Counterpart Season 1 Finale: Stuck in the Middle



alternate Orson Welles in here

Medici: Masters of Florence: Season 2: At the Edge of Our Age



It was a golden age, right before Columbus's voyages to the New World - literally.   Italy was still 400 years away from becoming a unified nation.  But, in some ways, it was better.  It consisted of city states, many in their own ways as great or greater in art, philosophy, and even predictive science than any nation would ever be.  Rome was flourishing, as the capital of the powerful Papal states.  Florence was home to Botticelli, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the greatest of them all, Leonardo da Vinci.  The superb and riveting second season of Medici features only Botticelli, who plays a significant role in  Lorenzo de' Medici's - aka Lorenzo the Magnificent - early years of power.  We'll likely see Leonardo in the third season, already in production.

Lorenzo was head of a potent banking family who, in effect, ruled the city. The Renaissance was throbbing and thriving and new ideas were bursting out all over.  The countryside and city bore signs of the glory of the Roman Empire, would didn't seem quite as ancient to Lorenzo and his contemporaries as it does to us.  But life was not easy - not for the people, whose lives Lorenzo had a sincere desire to improve, and not for Lorenzo and his family, beset by cunning enemies on all sides, and dependent on alliances with other city states like Milan and Venice and most of all, Rome and the Pope.

I enjoyed this second even more than the first, which was excellent, too, and looked at Florence when Lorenzo was a boy.   Now he's feeling and enjoying his power, though how that power and his equanimity is tested is the mainspring of this narrative.   Technology is not quite in the modern age, and Lorenzo and his contemporaries can communicate long distance only by letters delivered on horseback or riding themselves to other cities.   Weaponry is swordplay, knives, and fire, but they can do plenty of damage.

An intrinsic problem with any historical drama is that, if you know the history, you know how crucial events in the narrative turn out.  To make matters worse, you might know the outcome of crises even from watching a previous historical drama that covers the same period.  I suppose Medici 2 suffers from such problems, but they didn't bother me in the slightest.  Superb acting by Daniel Sharman as Lorenzo, Bradley James as his brother Giuliano, and Sean Bean as their chief antagonist Jacopo de' Pazzi - indeed, everyone, including actors of smaller roles, like Synnove Karlsen as Lorenz's wife Clarice, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as Giuliano's true love Simonetta, and Matteo Martari as Pazzi's nephew Francesco, was great - carry the story, and I was not at all surprised to see Frank Spotnitz, who produced the first season as well as The Man in the High Castle, back as one of the creators, along with Star Trek's Nicholas Meyer, who likewise always does a fine job.

Binge-able on Netflix and highly recommended.

 


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists: The Art Is Still Alive and Kicking



Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists - the documentary on HBO - is lots of things.  A paean to an age of journalism (Breslin would say "reporting," as this movie tells us) which is either gone or transmuted into another form, depending upon whom you listen to.   A story of New York City, which, also, is either dead or transformed.   But definitely a story of two uniquely gifted writers who indeed worked on a deadline, the deadline of timely reporting, i.e., at most, last hour's or yesterday's news, not last week's.

The two - Jimmy Breslin (1929-2017) and Pete Hamill (1935- ) - were actually very different in style.  Breslin was straightforward, kick in the gut, say what needs to be said reporting.  Hamill was much more poetic, stringing together descriptive phrases like Monet did with watercolors.

The New York City and beyond that the America they described, each in his own way, is one I grew up in.   Their defense of the written word, as essential both to their own very lives, but also the lives of the city and our country, is one which I always felt a part of.   Indeed, in our age of Trump and his savage attack on the press, I feel that way more than ever.  (See, for example, this panel I took part in on Fox Nation the other day, the lone progressive holding forth vis-a-vis three conservatives.)

Breslin, in particular, had a suitable contempt for the NYPD.  Years before Black Lives Matter, Breslin was unafraid to lash out at the bad cops in the NYPD who brutalized African Americans.  Hamill and Breslin had the fortune-misfortune to be right there when Robert F. Kennedy was shot.  (I was on the phone with my girlfriend, Tina, later my wife, when we heard the horrible news on television.)   Breslin ran on a ticket with Norman Mailer for Mayor of NYC.  Hamill dated Jackie Kennedy and Linda Ronstadt.   At one time, both wrote columns for the New York Daily News, which advertised that you could read one or another of the two at least six days a week.   That's the way it was when you wanted to read something of the story of our lives.

All of that and more is vividly portrayed in image and interviews in this superb documentary (hats off to Jonathan Alter and the other people who wrote and directed).   That, in itself, is one of the reasons I'm with the people who think that hard-hitting poetic reporting is still very much alive and kicking.  It may not be in print on paper as much as it used to be, but it's with us on cable, streaming services, and yes, this Internet, which is still mostly comprised of words, and reaches far more people than the combined tabloids of New York City ever did.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Orville 2.6: "Singin' in the Rain"



That's the way episode 2.6 of The Orville ends - with Gene Kelly's dulcet rendition of "Singin' in the Rain," and rain actually falling over everyone in the command cabin, as Isaac and Claire walk off, a newly reunited couple, with Isaac in human simulation, to a restaurant to have dinner, and likely her bedroom after...

A love story, Orville style, this time with more humor than profundity, but enough serious stuff to make this not only a light but significant episode.

No way a robot and a human can have a satisfying, continuing relationship - that's the initial, obvious premise of this story.   And though Claire and Isaac each try their best, they soon discover that this just can't work.

The key turning point occurs when Isaac realizes that his programming, which is always being modified based on his experience, can't operate completely correctly with Claire out of his life - or maybe out of his existence would be a better way of putting it.  This means he has come to love her, in his own way.   The greater realization for us in the audience is that sentience conquers all - meaning, two sentient beings can fall in love, or begin to fall in love, regardless of whether one is comprised of DNA and the other of some kind of advanced digital or whatever inorganic circuitry.

That's a nice state of affairs, and reminiscent of the android series, Humans, in which love between homo sapiens sapiens and the androids happens all the time.   Of course, just as with love between humans, the chemistry has to be there.   In this episode of The Orville, even Yaphit gives it a shot, and makes a play for his long longed-for Claire, as his slime (just a physical description, no knock on his character) assumes human form.   Alas, for him, that didn't work.  But it was good to see Norm Macdonald in the flesh on the ship, in addition to hearing his voice.

See also The Orville 2.1: Relief and Romance ... The Orville 2.2: Porn Addiction and Planetary Disintegration ... The Orville 2.3: Alara ... The Orville 2.4: Billy Joel ... The Orville 2.5: Escape at Regor 2

And see also The Orville 1.1-1.5: Star Trek's Back ... The Orville 1.6-9: Masterful ... The Orville 1.10: Bring in the Clowns ... The Orville 1.11: Eating Yaphit ... The Orville 1.12: Faith in Reason and the Prime Directive


1st starship to Alpha Centauri ... had only enough fuel to get there

Brexit (2019 HBO Movie): Lessons for America




The new movie Brexit, released twelve days ago on HBO, provides some important lessons for America, in the parallels of what led to the Brexit win in the UK referendum and the election of Donald Trump President of the United States in the Electoral College.   That difference - success in a straightforward plebiscite verses a complex and indirect electoral college, in addition to Trump's opponent winning the popular vote in the US - points to a crucial way in which the two exercises in democracy are not comparable.  But let's look at the similarities, first.

The two factors that protagonist Dominic Cummings (well played by Benedict Cumberbatch) brilliantly taps into and applies in Brexit are the feeling of many people that life has passed them by ("take back control") and the value of social media with their records of Likes, Shares, Re-Tweets in reaching segments of the voting public under or off the radar of more traditional advertising media.  Trump's campaign mined both - "make America great again" and targeting of frustrated Americans on Facebook (as well as Trump's affinity for Twitter).  American computer scientist and billionaire Robert Mercer provided assistance to both Brexit and Trump, and we even see the back of Steve Bannon's head in one scene of Brexit.

Nonetheless, Trump lost the popular vote in the US.   He says, and it's a fair enough point, that he would have conducted his campaign differently if the Presidency were decided by popular vote in America.  But what could Trump have done to reduce the huge margins for Hillary Clinton in California?  Short of going to an alternate reality where the Electoral College didn't exist, we'll never know,

Brexit the movie deserves credit for getting us to look at these questions.   My favorite scene was Cummings and his counterpart Craig Oliver having a beer shortly before the ballots were cast.  Would that such profound political disagreements could be discussed so civilly more often.

Hey, I tried to do that the other day on Fox Nation ...


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Vikings 5.19-20: Few Endings and Many Beginnings



I decided to review the final two episodes of this great season of Vikings together, since they're more of a piece than any other two episodes this season.   I liked these two episodes a lot, since, even though they were the season finales, there were few if any really important endings.  That's good.  It will be fun to see so many of our favorite and hated characters again.

Over in Iceland, it looks like Floki may be gone, though even that crushing scene was far from definitive.  Knowing Floki, we might yet see him crawl back to the surface and life.  We know, at any rate, that Iceland will continue.

In England, Judith is gone.   So is Ivar's wife, killed by Ivar after she gives Bjorn the secret passageway to Kattegat.  And in the battle to take that walled town, so is Ragnar's English son.

And that's it.   Ivar survived, even though his rule did not.  The two kings - Olaf and Harald - both amply survived, and creds to Harald for saving Bjorn's life, even though they came to blows last week.  This bodes well for their future cooperation.   Hvitserk and Ubbe not so much, since Ubbe still holds Hvitserk's joining Ivar against him.   Ubbe is a hero even though he didn't fight in the battle for Kattegat.  His one-on-one duel with the Dane last week made the permanent Norse settlement in England possible.

And then there's Lagertha.  She came back, strengthened Ubbe in England, and now she can support Bjorn in Kattegat.   Even Ragnar himself was on hand - as a ghost or in Bjorn's imagination - to provide sage counsel to his son.

But Ivar's escape means all's by no means well for the surviving sons of Ragnar. Where will Ivar go? I'm thinking ... maybe England?   To try to raise a Viking army to retake Kattegat?  We'll find out  next season, said to be returning soon, and I'll be back with more reviews.

See also Vikings 5.1-2: Floki in Iceland ... Vikings 5.3: Laughing Ivar ...Vikings 5.4: Four of More Good Stories ... Vikings 5.5: Meet Lawrence of Arabia ... Vikings 5.6: Meanwhile, Back Home ... Vikings 5.7: A Looming Trojan-War Battle, Vikings Style, and Two Beautiful Stories ...Vikings 5.8: Only Heahmund? ... Vikings 5.9: Rollo ... Vikings 5.10: New and Old Worlds ... Vikings 5.11: Rollo's Son ... Vikings 5.12: "The Beast with Two Backs" ... Vikings 5.13: The Sacrifice ... Vikings 5.14: Fake News in Kattegat ... Vikings 5.15: Battle ... Vikings 5.16: Peace and War ... Vikings 5.17: No Harmony in Iceland ... Vikings 5.18: Demented Ivar

And see also Vikings 4.1: I'll Still Take Paris ... Vikings 4.2: Sacred Texts ...Vikings 4.4: Speaking the Language ... Vikings 4.5: Knives ... Vikings 4.8: Ships Up Cliff ... Vikings 4.10: "God Bless Paris" ... Vikings 4.11: Ragnar's Sons ... Vikings 4.12: Two Expeditions ... Vikings 4.13: Family ... Vikings 4.14: Penultimate Ragnar? ... Vikings 4.15: Close of an Era ... Vikings 1.16: Musselman ... Vikings 1.17: Ivar's Wheels ...Vikings 1.18: The Beginning of Revenge ... Vikings 4.19: On the Verge of History ... Vikings 4.20: Ends and Starts

And see also Vikings 3.1. Fighting and Farming ... Vikings 3.2: Leonard Nimoy ...Vikings 3.3: We'll Always Have Paris ... Vikings 3.4: They Call Me the Wanderer ... Vikings 3.5: Massacre ... Vikings 3.6: Athelstan and Floki ...Vikings 3.7: At the Gates ... Vikings 3.8: Battle for Paris ... Vikings 3.9: The Conquered ... Vikings Season 3 Finale: Normandy

And see also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb

And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4:  Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

 
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