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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Knightfall 1.6: Turn of Fortunes

I'm back with a review of Knightfall 1.6, delayed by my watching and reviewing all ten episodes of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams anthology on Amazon.  Actually, when you think about it, there's a a lot of science fiction and even something of Philip K. Dick in the stories of the Knights Templar, especially in the hinted-at, awesome powers of the Grail they're seeking to find and protect.

Episode 1.6 was driven by that, as indeed has every episode of Knightfall so far.  We learn that the power of the Grail is so cosmic that it unites (presumably) good men (and women) of many faiths - Jewish, Christian, Muslim - seeking to gain, or reclaim, and certainly safeguard its powers, by making sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.  You would think it was something akin to nuclear power, with all this medieval ecumenical interest, but we'll just have to see.

In addition, this episode showed an-across-the-board reversal of fortunes, and reversals of those reversals, for more than one major character.  Tancrede is freed without repenting, only to return and repent so you can be taken away by the Arabs who beat him and the Templars at Acre.   We learn that Godfrey let that happen - gave the enemies of the Templars access to the tunnels - again, on behalf of the Grail.   And Landry, nearly killed, comes back weakened and turns out strong.

But in some ways the most remarkable twists of fate belong to De Nogaret.  First the Princess loves him (emotionally).  Then she realizes what he did - murdered her husband, after spying on her through that peephole for years - and lashes out at him.  Her father the King is about to have him hanged, when his uncle, masquerading as a dead person dangling in the gallows, saves him and he makes his escape.

Knightfall continues to get more complex and compelling by the episode, and that's always a good thing in historical drama.


See also: Knightfall 1.1: Possibilities ... Knightfall 1.2: Grail and Tinder ... Knightfall 1.3: Baby ... Knightfall 1.4: Parentage ... Knightfall 1.5: Shrewd De Nogaret

Monday, January 15, 2018

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.10 Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort



The 10th and last episode of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, which I've been reviewing here episode-by-episode (because each one is standalone), and which I hope will be the first ten of very many - is Kill All Others.  Although each story is different, they're deeply connected and intertwined by the central, galvanizing themes of all of Dick's work: it is real or an illusion, with the struggle to decide which always laced with paranoia.

Kill All Others has these characteristics par excellence, and is also the closest to the very time we're living in right now.  That makes it closer to Black Mirror than The Twilight Zone, though it feels a lot like a Twilight Zone episode, too.  Philbert Noyce sees a political candidate on television - the only candidate running for President - introduce a slogan, "Kill All Others".   At first it seems he's the only one who saw this - the real vs. illusion quandary - but soon confirms that others have seen this, and inevitably comes to think of himself as an "other" and then become an "other" himself.   This is where the paranoia comes in, with the inevitable Dickian question of whether what Noyce is feeling and seeing is real, or his over-active mind - a reversion, as often happens in Philip K. Dick's stories, to the "is it real" dilemma, which never really goes away.

The story for television, well written and directed by Dee Rees, departs from Dick's original 1953 story, "The Hanging Stranger," replacing nefarious aliens who have taken over the bodies of humans (as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Heinlein's Puppet Masters, also the theme of episode 1.7 of Electric Dreams) with just us humans as both villain politician and "others" in Kill All Others.   The near-future setting gives us "Yes Us Can" and "Mex Us Can" as government slogans - a good example of how fascism can co-opt democracy by twisting its words - and Royce saying "Kill All Others" is "hate speech".  But there's no one who looks like Trump in power - likely because this was written before he was elected, but still unfortunate.  The single candidate is a woman, which puts Kill All Others in league with the new season of Homeland and even Claire in House of Cards, with women in charge with dictatorial tendencies.  A shot against Hillary Clinton?   You can decide.  All I'll say is I would have rather seen a Trumpian in this role, since his polices are indeed getting closer and closer by the day to the xenophobia towards everyone around us in Kill All Others.

Good acting by Mel Rodriguez as Noyce, Glenn Morshower (24!) as one of his co-workers, and Vera Farmiga as the nameless candidate.

With the 10-episode anthology concluded for now, I always like to pick a favorite episode.  The choice is tough - there are so many superb ones.  I guess I'd go with 1.3 Human Is.  But I loved almost everything about this series, including the great opening sequence.  And I'll be back here with more whenever Electric Dreams continues.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe and Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval



I said somewhere in my ongoing one-by-one reviews of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 10-episode standalone anthology on Amazon Prime that I thought the series was "right up there with The Twilight Zone".  I just checked - that was in my review of the third episode.  I make quick judgments - but I still feel that way.  I even entitled my review of Electric Dreams 1.8 Impossible Planet "Eye of the Beholder," which was the title of one of the best Twilight Zone episodes.   Of course,  there were 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, in contrast to only 10 so far (of which I've only seen the first 9 at this point) of Electric Dreams, so when I say "right up there" I mean only that the episodes I've seen in Electric Dreams rank with any random fraction of a season of The Twilight Zone.   If and when Electric Dreams gets to exceed 150 episodes - which it actually could, given that Dick wrote 44 novels and 121 short stories -  I'll get back to you with a more definitive comparison.

In the meantime, episode 1.9 The Commuter feels so much like a Twilight Zone episode that I half expected Rod Serling to appear and say "submitted for your approval" (though he actually said that only three times in the entire series).  But The Commuter easily could have been a companion to "A Stop at Willoughby," the 30th episode of The Twilight Zone, from 1960, which has also always been one of my favorites.  Indeed, since Philip K. Dick's original "The Commuter" story was published in 1953 (in Amazing Stories - where, by the way, one of my first stories, "Albert's Cradle," was published in 1993), Rod Serling may well have read Dick's story and had it in mind when he wrote "Willoughby".

Jack Thorne does a fine job bringing it to the screen in 2018, greatly assisted by Timothy Spall whose Ed has one of those quintessentially British faces.  His "Willoughby" is "Macon Heights," a stop on a train line that doesn't quite exist - literally.   So here the "real or not real" thread is woven around a town, replete with a diner that serves great pie, which, when you add in the attractive, talkative waitress, also resonates with another real-or-not multiple reality classic, Twin Peaks.  David Lynch, Rod Serling, and Philip K. Dick do have a lot of uncommon in common.

Anyway, that's a  pretty good last line, it's nearly five in the morning, and I want to give the 10th and final episode of Electric Dreams my best attention, so I'll watch it tomorrow and be back here shortly after with a review.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe and Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort

  
more alternate realities ...

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder



I've been saying throughout my episode-by-episode reviews of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, the 10-part anthology of standalone episodes streaming on Amazon Prime, that this anthology has been attracting some top-draw stars.  I mean, we're talking Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Anna Paquin, Terrence Howard, Maura Tierney, Mireille Enos, and the like.  But episode 1.8, Impossible Planet, brings us Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin's daughter, first big appearance in Dr. Zhivago) as a woman in her hundreds wanting to visit Planet Earth before she dies.

The story brings us back out into space and is pure Philip K. Dick, this time pitting us into a choice of not whether this person, memory, or thing is real or illusion, but whether the faux "Earth" the unethical captain is taking her to will fool her into thinking she's really back on humanity's home.  The ending - which as you know from my previous reviews I won't reveal - is also classic PKD.

More than most of Dick's stories and the movies and TV episodes made from them, though, Impossible Planet explores beauty (or, better, reality) in the eye of the beholder.   There's also an explicit religious element in this story, or a recognition that you can't talk about the wonder of the cosmos without some reference to God.

That part was especially music to my ears.  I long ago realized that what was missing in our efforts to get out into space was a connection to the need to know more about our place in the universe, which is inevitably not only scientific but spiritual.   Towards that end - to get that deeper element out in the open and into the mix of reasons to get out into space - Michael Waltemathe and I put together an anthology of essays and short stories in 2015, Touching the Face of the Cosmos, and we're planning a conference at Fordham University (with co-organizers Lance Strate and James Heiser) with Guy Consolmagno (the Pope's Astronomer) as keynote speaker this April. (I'll try to remember to put a link here to the formal conference announcement when it's up in the next few weeks.)

But back to Impossible Planet, the writing (from the 1953 story by Dick) for television and direction by David Farr (best known for MI-5 and The Night Manager) is excellent, as is the acting not only of Chaplin but Jack Reynor and Benedict Wong (Kublai Khan in Marco Polo).  Even the robot - a combination of Malik Ibheis and Christopher Staines, also due in part to "movement director" Ita O'Brien - was memorable, and reminded me of the great robots in Forbidden Planet and Day the Earth Stood Still.  And I'm pretty sure that's more than in just the eye of this beholder.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe and Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort



with John Glenn, Guy Consolmagno, much more

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space



The 1950s were invaded with science fiction in which entities from outer space arrived here and took over the bodies of human beings.   Invasion of the Body Snatchers - made into a movie at least three times (1956 and 1978 by that name, and again in 1996 as just Body Snatchers) and many more times as riffs on the same story with different names - is the best-known iconic template for that tale.  It was good to see it back again in The Father Thing,  episode 1.7 of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, standalone stories all streaming on Amazon Prime, which I've reviewing here one at a time.

The Father Thing tells us this story from the perspective of a boy whose father has been taken over by an alien from space.  Written and directed by Michael Dinner (Justified) from Philip K. Dick's 1954 story "The Father-Thing," The Father Thing without the hyphen nonetheless has an appealing 1950s flavor, with a Twilight Zone ambience and a Stranger Things wrap-up - as the boy and then his friends in effect become freedom fighters - which brings the story into the present in terms of what we're seeing these days on television.  Indeed, that and the hashtag #RESIST and video-chatting, plus the use of the word "dick" in several pivotal places (such as when the son refers to the invaders as "dicks from space"), are about the only concessions The Father Thing makes to 2018. 

It's not surprising that Dick the writer partook of this theme, since the question of whether the man is my father or an alien who has commandeered his body is another version of is it real or my imagination, this or that dimension, which all but consumed Philip K. Dick.  But Dick and now Dinner do an especially good job at telling this story, melding the angst of the son with the beginning of a coming of age story for him.  Good work by Greg Kinnear as the father thing, Mireille Enos as the mother, and Jack Gore (Billions) as the son.  Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams episodes continue to have excellent performances by big name and lesser known actors.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe and Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort


  
more alternate identities ...

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't a Drill



Safe & Sound - episode 1.6 in Philip K. Dick's standalone 10-episode anthology series on Amazon Prime which I'm reviewing one episode at a time (with minimal spoilers and no or scant comparison to the original Philip K. Dick stories) - returns to the familiar but always exquisite Dick territory of is it real or illusion, in this case the real being an ear gel through which Foster Lee hears the voice of a digital assistant, the illusion being the possibility that the voice is literally in her head, given some credence since her father was a psycho who heard voices.

This dilemma is presented in the environment of a not-so-distant future in which the big Eastern cities are worried about domestic terrorist attacks from the rural "bubbles" out West.  On that count, Safe & Sound is as reminiscent of Damon's Knight's 1951 story "Natural State" as it is of Philip K. Dick's 1955 "Foster, Your Dead" on which it is thinly based.

But there's nothing thin about Safe & Sound, written for television by Kalen Egan and Travis Sentell, who give us an hour rich in symbolism and relevance to our own time, including the words "this isn't a drill," heard just yesterday in Hawaii, in our reality, when someone who should have known better released an announcement of an incoming ballistic missile attack in error.

Paranoia is also a mainspring of Dick's fiction (and as his biographers and people who knew him attest, sadly also his life), and Annalise Basso does a fine job of portraying Foster in the throws of struggling with whether what she is hearing is real or worse - though, in this case, paranoia could be the better of the two choices, since what she hears from her digital helper are escalating warnings about terrorists about to attack, and what she needs to do to stop that.

Well directed by Game of Thrones' Alan Taylor, and it was good to see Maura Tierney as Foster's mother, with almost the exact same personality as Helen in The Affair.  Hey, I'll take that until The Affair comes back on the air, and Safe & Sound is eminently worth seeing in its own right.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5: The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort



  
terrorists use squirrels in near-future NYC

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police



Telepathy is another favorite but not-as-well-known-as-some-other themes of Philip K. Dick - appearing in the aforementioned (i..e, mentioned in my review of episode 1.3 of Electric Dreams) "Beyond Lies the Wub" in 1952 - and its combination with police procedural in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams episode 1.5, The Hood Maker, makes for a classic Dick amalgam.

It's also a great story, compellingly rendered.  Honor is a telepath or TEEP teaming with Agent Ross to maintain order, which includes controlling the TEEPs, whose ability to read normal human minds sows unease and disorder (understandable).  The situation is brought to a boil by the "hood maker" who makes hoods which, when donned, block out the TEEP probes. 

The Hood Maker is smartly written for television by Matthew Graham (who also wrote the TV adaption of Childhood's End and the British version of Life on Mars, much better than the American, by the way), and he has Honor saying such memorable things as "I could read people before I could read books" and Ross telling Honor "you can read minds but you can't read my heart".  I just love quintessentially science fictional lines like those.

And there's a nice symmetry between Holliday Grainger (from The Borgias) playing Honor and Richard Madden (from Medici) playing Ross.  Good directing, too, by Julian Jarrold.

I've been a sucker for telepathy in fiction every since I read Alfred Bester's Demolished Man as a kid at the end of the 1950s (which, by the way, was also a police story).   And I put Sense8 as #1 on my list of best 2017 television series for the same reason (it also has a strong telepathy and police element).  I put The Hood Maker in the same company,

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort



not quite telepathy, but some strange mental powers at large here

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries



The fourth episode in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, the 10-part anthology of standalone stories streaming on Amazon Prime, returns us to familiar territory: a man in a dangerous relationship with a female, well, not android, precisely, but she's a "Jill" and is some kind of DNA-engineered, with an organic battery, that runs down and needs to be replaced.   That's what makes this relationship especially dangerous - Jill needs Ed, a thoroughly human programmer, to get her a new battery, and maybe some others, so the two can sell them, makes lots of money, and run away together.  And one more piece of this: Ed is married.

Now, one could say that all relationships between human and android, or human and something that's quasi-human and runs on DNA batteries, are dangerous, and I'd agree.   But what always gives Philip K. Dick's stories an edge is that he mixes the science fiction with a war or a crime or something else.  It's a potent cocktail, and mixed well in Crazy Diamond.

The thing is, Crazy Diamond is so far the least like the original Dick story - "Sales Pitch" - it's based upon.   It doesn't even have the same name, which makes it different in that respect from the other three I've so far reviewed.  (I'll be reviewing all the episodes of Electric Dreams, one at a time.)  I did say in my review of the first episode that I wouldn't be comparing the streaming episodes to the original stories, but I'm obviously making an exception for Crazy Diamond, which also has a strong feminist element not in the original.

But I don't want to give anything more away.  Like the first three episodes, Crazy Diamond has top-notch acting by famous and not-so-famous actors, including Steve Buscemi as Ed and Sidse Babett Knudsen (from Westworld and Borgen!) as Jill.   Written for television with a good ear as well as eye by Tony Grisoni and well directed by Marc Munden, with kudos for whoever came up with the idea of Ed in the water, reminiscent of Buscemi in the open scene of Boardwalk Empire.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassion or Alien? ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort


 

It started in the hot summer of 1960, when Marilyn Monroe walked off the set of The Misfits and began to hear a haunting song in her head, "Goodbye Norma Jean" ...

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.3 Human Is: Compassionate or Alien?



Humans in outer space has been adapted to the screen less frequently than other themes of Philip K. Dick.   But his work in that area is equally brilliant and sometimes better than his better-known themes - I've thought that ever since I read his "Beyond Lies the Wub" first published in 1952 - and in the case of Bladerunner ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"), the two motifs (outer space and robots) are in effect combined.

Human Is, the third standalone episode in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 10-episode anthology now streaming on Amazon Prime, and which I'm reviewing one episode at at a time (see my review of the first episode for how I'll be reviewing these episodes), is just about outer space, and is science fiction at its very zenith.  Though, if we're dealing with Philip K. Dick, nothing he writes is ever just about that, whatever that is, because it's always imbued with the question that haunts and animates just about everything he wrote:  is it real or dream, human or android, this dimension or another one?

In Human Is, the question is whether Silas (powerfully played, of course, by Bryan Cranston) is human or Rexorian, a dangerous species from another planet that likes to inhabit its human hosts.  Silas left on the mission cold and distant to his wife Vera (played with sensitivity by Essie Davis, last seen - by me - in The White Princess and Game of Thrones) and returns full of tenderness, consideration, and lovemaking that Vera tells him she never experienced like that from him before.  Silas nearly died on this mission.   So is his new, much better behavior the result of that experience changing him, making him more human, or because he is no longer just Silas but a meld of Rexorian and human?

I'm not going to tell you ending.  What I will say is that this is one beautiful piece of work, down to the cinematography by David Katznelson, the directing by Francesca Gregorini, and the writing for television by Jessica Mecklenburg.  And the acting not only sails with Cranston and Davis, but strong supporting performances by Ruth Bradley (last seen in Humans - an android series about as Dickian as it gets) and Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham.

Having now seen three episodes of Electric Dreams, I'd say it's right up there with The Twilight Zone, and better (from what I've seen) than Black Mirror.

See also Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities ...  1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort





Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine



Ok, one more review for the night - of the second standalone episode in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, now streaming (that is, all ten episodes of this anthology) on Amazon Prime.   (See my review of the first episode for how I'll be reviewing these episodes, if you're interested.)

In Autofac, we have Dick addressing his perennial what's real and what's fantasy, dream, alternate whatever conundrum in a form likely best known these days, and for better than three decades: which one is more human, the android (robot) or the humans who made it/her/him.   This is the theme of Bladerunner, original movie and recent sequel, based on Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - two words of which are part of the title of this 2018 streaming series.

Since Autofac is just the second episode I've seen of Electric Dreams, I can't tell you if it captures the essence of Dick's science fiction better than the other episodes.  But I will say it does an outstanding job of presenting the story of which is android and which is human - with the intensity that we might expect to find in HBO's Westworld.  Which in turn means that Amazon Prime in this series is playing on some high intellect/octane terrain indeed, as it did in its other Dick production, The Man in the High Castle.

One of the reasons that Dick has had more of his stories brought to the screen than has Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and all the masters of science fiction combined, is that he knew how to put twists and turns and surprises right in with the most complex philosophic puzzles.   Autofac has that, and manages to provide a narrative that is fresh and surprising even though its post-apocalyptic setting and artificial intelligence motifs are almost commonplace on the page and the screen.

Top-notch acting by Juno Temple, and it was good to see Revolution's David Lyons back.  Well written for television by Travis Beacham, and sharply directed by Peter Horton.

See also Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1: Mutually Alternate Realities ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassionate or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort


  
more alternate realities ...

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1 Real Life: Mutually Alternate Realities




I started watching Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams - a 10-episode anthology of separate stories, all based on the work of Philip K. Dick - on Amazon Prime tonight.  Here's what you can expect by way of reviews:
  • I'm likely going to review the episodes one at a time.  Likely right after I've seen each episode.  And likely all in the next few days.
  • I've read many of Dick's stories (and enjoyed to loved all of them).  But I generally find reviews that prattle on about how the movie or TV show compared to the novel or story boring or irritating - not to mention that words on pages and spoken on screens are always apples and oranges - so I'll likely refrain from doing that here.
  • I'll try very hard not to deliver any crucial spoilers (like how the story ends, if there is a resolution), but there inevitably will be some spoilers, so, proceed at your own risk if you haven't seen an episode yet.
Now to Real Life:  It engages, as most of Dick's works do, the question of what is real and what is a dream, or fantasy, or alternate in contrast to primary reality.   But Real Life takes this in an exquisite direction, giving us two realities, each with devices that allow their protagonist to have a great vacation in an alternate reality based on what they need, and we soon learn that each protagonist's presumably primary reality is the other's vacation or alternate reality.  So what we get are mirroring alternate realities.

This, of course, raises the question of which of these mutually dependent realities is the real one?  Since neither character is very happy, we have to search deeper to find an answer.  And as this episode progresses, each protagonist not only begins to question if her or his reality is real or the mental vacation, but finds the other reality spilling into their own.

You'll have a tough time figuring our which is which - which means this is a good story - and there is a conclusive answer given at the end.  Fine acting by Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard as the interdependent leads, and good "written for television" by Battlestar Galactica's and Outlander's
Ronald D. Moore.

See also Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassionate or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort


  
more alternate realities ...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump Refers to Haiti and African Nations as "Shitholes"; MSNBC reports this as "S-holes"

Something continues to be seriously wrong with our cable media.  On Sunday, NBC bleeped Frances McDormand's speech at the Golden Globes, because they didn't like what "Fox Searchlight" may have sounded like.  Today, MSNBC informed us that Trump referred to Haiti and unspecified African nations as "s-holes".

In fact, as The Washington Post and numerous other media reported, Trump called those countries "shit holes".   So why is MSNBC afraid to report exactly that?

Do they think that their viewers are too young to hear such language?  Do they think anyone who hears "s-holes" won't know it stands for "shitholes"?

I suppose there may be some people who don't get what "s-hole" means.  As my wife astutely pointed out, some people might hear that as "asshole" countries.

But that's the point.  Why should there be even the slightest confusion about what our vulgar, despicable President said about these countries?  Whose feelings and sensitivities are being protected?  The FCC's?

In times like this, with a President who as no one before him expresses such contempt for immigrants, women, the poor, Americans who don't look like him, don't the media owe us, owe America, the reporting of what he says as accurately as possible?

The time for euphemisms and abbreviations has long since ended.  MSNBC ought to wake up, and realize what the year 2018 and Donald Trump in office calls for:  complete, unabbreviated reporting.

*Note added a little after 10pm: Kudos to Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell for speaking the word.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Vikings 5.8: Only Heahmund?

Well, it was supposed to be the fierce battle that would change everything tonight on Vikings episode 5.8, a battle that features brother against brother from not just one but two families, and it was fierce enough, but -

It surprisingly changed almost nothing.  The one major player who seemed to be killed turned out not to be. And so Heahmund now goes into Lagertha's camp.  And Ivar, after first seeming to agree that he didn't want to kill his brothers, and then initiating the attack, goes off into the woods to ... I'm not sure.  Think things over?  Be a winner whatever actually happened in the battle?

Heahmund fought well enough, but not as well as he did back in England.  That would be, why, because his heart wasn't fully in it?   Ivar and Heahmund, fighting together, at full ferocity, were the only chance Harald had against Lagertha and her shield maidens, not to mention Bjorn.  But Ivar wasn't there, and Heahmund fell.

I wanted Lagertha's side to win.  I just thought Ivar would put up more of a fight.  It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Meanwhile, over in England, it was good, historically, to see Athelstan's son tell his mother that the only way to stop the Vikings was to build a navy with ships that could stop the Norse attacks before they came ashore and pillaged.   Was this indeed the beginning of the British navy?

Only two more episodes this season.  Tonight's was good, but the battle didn't compare to what we saw in Paris.

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

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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