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Monday, November 18, 2019

Watchmen 1.5: Some Enchanted Evening



That was the best thing about tonight's insane episode 1.5 of the insano Watchmen tonight - "Some Enchanted Evening" - sung first by Sinatra at the beginning of the episode and at the end by some group unknown to me.  But my favorite rendition of the song that Ezio Pinza first sang in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific all those years ago has always been this one by Jay and the Americans.

As to the story tonight, we get the back story of Looking Glass, who's traumatized as a teenaged boy in Hoboken.  Yeah, I know, Hoboken, NJ can be frightening in our reality, but not that bad.  In the alternate reality that is Watchmen, Hoboken and nearby NYC are attacked by a squid that kills countless people.   Those squids, again, prompting the FBI guy years later to talk about a squid pro quo, giving tonight's episode an odd resonance to our own political situation (I was tempted to use that as the title)

I just want to take a moment here to say that I still have almost no idea what's going on with Adrian Veidt, which is one of the reasons I said I liked "Some Enchanted Evening" the best tonight.  I can only hope that he'll escape from his prison before this first season (I don't know, has it been renewed?) ends, and proceed to Tulsa or some place pertinent to the main story, which would give all these scenes of his trying to escape and failing at least some modicum of relevance.

I liked the Jay and the Americans' version the best because of the harmony.  I used to sing the song with my folk rock group, The New Outlook, in the Alcove at CCNY when we were still more of a doo-wop than a folk-rock group.  The Alcove was indoors, and we sang there rather than outside because we were worried about raining squids - no, only kidding, we liked the acoustics.

Anyhoo, see you here next week, when we'll learn the fate of Looking Glass, I hope.

In the meantime, one more thing: Don Frankel, in a group called Sundial Symphony with Robbie Rist which has recorded some of my songs on Big Stir Records - like Looking for Sunsets (In the Early Morning) - always sounded a lot like Jay.

See also Watchmen 1.1: Promising Alternate History ... [Watchmen 1.2: don't look for my review, I didn't feel like reviewing it] ... Watchmen 1.3: The Falling Car ... Watchmen 1.4: What We Learned



more alternate reality - "flat-out fantastic" - Scifi and Scary



Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ray Donovan 7.1: Getting Ahead of the Head



Ray Donovan came back on Showtime tonight in fine form.  He and his family are still in New York.  One of the dead heads comes up in bag from wherever it exactly was in the waters around the city.  Ray says, don't worry, we'll get ahead of it.  Hence my title for this review.

In case you don't recall, the head is from one of the crooked cops who was killed late last season.  Even though he was crooked, the police who are still alive want to know how that head got to be in the water, after it was shot and severed from its body.  Totally understandable.

But that's not the only problem Ray is dealing with.  He has to make sure Mick doesn't get lost on the way to prison - if he did, Bunch would be in trouble.  And, as you know if you've seen the episode (if not, oops, sorry for the spoiler), Ray apparently ends up a lot worse than lost.  He ends up dead.

Except, I'm a firm believer that, when you're dealing with television drama, if you don't see a head literally blown to bits, the head and its owner could still be alive.  We saw Ray in the coming attractions punching someone who showed up at his door.  I'm predicting that either that's Mick, or, if not, he'll pop up alive someplace else.

What else is going in the family?  Bridget doesn't want to be married anymore.  Terry's trying some new age stuff to get his Parkinson's under control (I thought for a second that I flashed back in time and was watching something from the season before last on The Affair, also on Showtime).  But, anyway, we have the makings of a good new Ray Donovan season here, and I'll be happy to see it and keep reviewing it here.

See Ray Donovan 6.1: The New Friend ... Ray Donovan 6.2: Father and Sons ... Ray Donovan 6.4: Politics in the Ray Style ... Ray Donovan 6.6: The Mayor Strikes Back ... Ray Donovan 6.7: Switching Sides ... Ray Donovan 6.8: Down ... Ray Donovan 6.9: Violence and Storyline ... Ray Donovan 6.10: Working Together ... Ray Donovan 6.11: Settled Scores and Open Questions ... Ray Donovan Season 6 Finale: Snowfall and Mick

See also Ray Donovan 5.1: Big Change  ... Ray Donovan 5.4: How To Sell A Script ... Ray Donovan 5.7: Reckonings ... Ray Donovan 5.8: Paging John Stuart Mill ... Ray Donovan 5.9: Congas ... Ray Donovan 5.10: Bunchy's Money ... Ray Donovan 5.11: I'm With Mickey ... Ray Donovan 5.12: New York

See also Ray Donovan 4.1: Good to Be Back ... Ray Donovan 4.2: Settling In ... Ray Donovan 4.4: Bob Seger ... Ray Donovan 4.7: Easybeats ... Ray Donovan 4.9: The Ultimate Fix ... Ray Donovan Season 4 Finale: Roses

And see also Ray Donovan 3.1: New, Cloudy Ray ... Ray Donovan 3.2: Beat-downs ... Ray Donovan 3.7: Excommunication!

And see also Ray Donovan 2.1: Back in Business ... Ray Donovan 2.4: The Bad Guy ... Ray Donovan 2.5: Wool Over Eyes ... Ray Donovan 2.7: The Party from Hell ... Ray Donovan 2.10: Scorching ... Ray Donovan 2.11: Out of Control ... Ray Donovan Season 2 Finale: Most Happy Ending

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


 

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" ...

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Man in the High Castle: podcast review of extraordinary final Season 4


Welcome to Light On Light Through, Episode 119, in which I review The Man in the High Castle - final Season 4. I thought it was the best season so far, which is high praise indeed, since I thought the first three seasons were outstanding.
You can find my written reviews of all four seasons here - The Man in the High Castle on Amazon (pilot)... The Man in the High Castle 1.2-1.10: Timely Alternate Reality Par Excellence ... The Man in the High Castle in Reality -- Well, on NYC Subway Cars ... The Man in the High Castle 2.1-2.3: My Heimisch Town ... The Man in the High Castle 2.4-2.6: Rails and Realities ... The Man in the High Castle 2.7-2.10: Alternate Reality to the Rescue, Literally... The Man in the High Castle 3.1: Real People in Alternate History ... The Man in the High Castle 3.2-3: Alternate Realities, Frederic Brown, and Rockwells ...  The Man in the High Castle 3.4-6: "Tis Death that's Dead" ... The Man in the High Castle 3.7-10: The Metaphysics of Alternate Realities ... The Man in the High Castle season 4: Alternate Realities and Alternate Fulfillment

My podcast review of Season 3 is here and Season 2 is here and the Season 1 pilot is here.
And here are my books and my videos.

Check out this episode!

The Man in the High Castle season 4: Alternate Realities and Alternate Fulfillment



I've been saying ever since Trump began running for President with his anti-immigration policies that The Man in the High Castle and its alternate reality of literally Nazi America had special relevance to the reality in which we now all reside, in which the Allies not the Axis won the Second World War.  In the final season of this extraordinary adaptation of Philip K. Dick's extraordinary 1962 novel, immigration plays a major role in the story, especially in the very last scene of the series.

[some spoilers below]

But although that story and that image are crucial to we the people on the both sides of the screen - the characters and their stories, which we are watching - there were parts of this final season that I liked even more.  The details, as always in this series, were provocative pleasures to behold.  Abendsen presents an alternate-history Twilight Zone on American Reich TV, intoning in Rod Serling style "The High Castle" at the beginning of every episode.  Japanese and Nazis in America exchange bows and Sieg Heils, just as we saw in prior seasons, but Kido and Smith shake hands, as the Japanese and the German Nazis later recede from America - a striking evolution of symbolic gestures.  Years earlier, as the American military struggles with whether to continue fighting the Nazis after they nuke Washington, DC, one officer notes that "Paton shook hands with Goering"; another counters that "Ike is gathering men" for the resistance; in this reality, the reality that is the home reality of The Man in the High Castle, the Paton quote wins.

In this season, much more attention is given to exactly how this alternate America came to be.  And the vehicle is full-fledged access to our reality in which we won the war, an access much more satisfying in the narrative than the I-Ching glimpses and snippets of movies we were provided in earlier seasons.  John Smith from the American Reich visits our reality.  His wife Helen in our reality finds Nazi John more sexually robust than her husband who, unbeknownst to her, has been killed by another American Reich operative who crossed realities into our reality (superb performances throughout by Rufus Sewell and Chelah Horsdal).  John is overjoyed that Thomas is alive and healthy in our reality, but heart-broken and furious when Thomas walks off with Marines to fight in Vietnam, echoing when Thomas walked off in the American Reich to be put to death because of his illness.  These parallels, palpable echoes of one reality into the other, provide a haunting foundation for everything that happens in this final season.

In the Japanese American West, Kido (fine acting by Joel de la Fuente) has his own life-rending difficulties with his son.  There's no interplay of alternate realities in the Japanese part of this season - mainly, I guess, because Tagomi and his I-Ching play almost no active role, given that Tagomi is killed in the opening Western scene in the first episode (which I regretted). Julianna picks up the I-Ching torch on the East coast, in contrast to the Nazis who travel to alternate realities via technology.  The protagonist in the West is now 100% Kido, who struggles against all odds to become a better person, and succeeds. The Black Communist Rebellion along with Childan's capacity to survive also play a major role out West.

But the locus of the story and action remains in New York City and its environs.  Smith always manages to outwit the German Nazis, now led by Himmler and Eichmann.   In the end ... well, I won't reveal exactly what happens to you, in case you've only seen part of the final season when you're reading this.  But I will say that I didn't think what Smith tried to do, the order that he gave, was entirely or even well motivated.  (He was free of German Nazi control, so whose demon was he following, his own?  Why?) The overall series, and this last season in particular, could be seen as Smith struggling to find his better self, the American that he was before the Germans dropped the bomb.  There was ample reason to think that maybe he had.

But this disappointment, though it pertains to the central, pivotal character, did not mar the impact of this powerful, brilliant, and so very timely series for me.  Too bad Philip K. Dick wasn't alive to see it.  But I did, and I will always be profoundly glad for that.




Monday, November 11, 2019

Prodigal Son 1.8: The Mentee



Prodigal Son 1.8 brought us the story, in Ainsley's apt words, "the mentee" - of the Surgeon, that is, and not just another apprentice.  Paul is the most developed psycho we've seen so far, and holds at least some of the keys to Bright's past.

Paul confirms what Bright dimly remembers about the last girl his father killed. Gil now acknowledges her likely existence, and admits that he may have wrong to dismiss her as just a Bright nightmare.   Paul gives Bright that elusive bracelet.  And, as a demonstration of his power, escapes the police and Bright, and ends the episode fully at large.

Before we go any further, I have a feeling - not yet quite a theory - about that girl.  I'm wondering if she may be yet alive.  And someone that we already know.  A really wild possibility would be Eve.  No evidence at all about this - as yet.

Back to the mentee.  A big question is whether he's working, has been working all this time, with the Surgeon, or is doing all of this on his own?  As I mentioned in my review of last week's episode, a similar issue arose in The Following.  When you get to such high levels of murderous psychosis, it's not always clear who is calling the shots.

It's also not impossible that Paul drew Martin into the serial killer game.  An important question is exactly when in Martin's life did he start his killing?  Before or after he became a surgeon, or maybe during his training.  Before or after he married Jessica?

We're getting some answers, but each time we get one some more questions arise.  A good place to be in series about serial killers.

See alsoProdigal Son: A New Serial Killer ... Prodigal Son 1.2: Dreams or Memories? ... Prodigal Son 1.3: LSD and Chloroform ... Prodigal Son 1.4: Ainsley ... Prodigal Son 1.6: Bad Boy ... Prodigal Son 1.7: Apprentices

Prodigal Son 1.7: Apprentices



An outstanding, even pivotal episode 1.7 of Pivotal Son last week, in which all kinds of alliances are revealed and created.

The big one features Bright handing over a scalpel - aka knife, weapon - to his father, the Surgeon, unshackled in his prison cell.  He does this at the insistence of his sister, Ainsley, who has come with her cameraman to interview her father.  The cameraman gets stabbed by a psycho on the loose in the prison.  It's a serious wound, and only Dr. Whitly's expertise can save him.

Which he does, and then returns the weapon to Bright, which instantly turns Ainsley from a staunch critic to a devoted fan.  It was no surprise that the Surgeon somehow set all of this up.  The fun was seeing it unfold and learning how that happened.

The key is that the Surgeon has apprentices, students, in and out of prison.  This has suddenly thrown Prodigal Son into The Following territory, and that's exciting and desperate terrain.  A group of psychos following a sinister master can do a lot more damage than the master himself, especially when he's locked up for life in prison.

One question, though, is the how the prison stabber could have had precisely enough prowess with the scalpel to wound the cameraman exactly the way the Surgeon wanted it.   But that's a small quibble to a generally eye-opening episode that really moved the series along,

Tonight's episode will be on in less than an hour, and I'll be back with a more timely review.

See alsoProdigal Son: A New Serial Killer ... Prodigal Son 1.2: Dreams or Memories? ... Prodigal Son 1.3: LSD and Chloroform ... Prodigal Son 1.4: Ainsley ... Prodigal Son 1.6: Bad Boy

 

Watchmen 1.4: What We Learned



Here's what we learned in the continuingly gonzo, bordering on insane episode 1.4 of Watchmen tonight - that is, a little more than everything you could want in an alternate reality or alternate history story:
  • Henry Louis Gates is Treasury Secretary.  In case you don't recall who he was/is in our reality, he is the African-American Harvard professor arrested by a white racist Boston police sergeant in his (Gates's) own home, because the sergeant thought Gates had broken into it.  As compensation for this wrongful arrest, Gates had to have a beer with the sergeant at the White House at President Obama's invitation.  Gates apparently did better in Watchmen.
  • This alternate reality is well ahead of ours in genetics, gene-splicing, DNA manipulation and the like.  And a Vietnamese women owns some kind of huge biological facility in Tulsa.
  • Adrian Veidt is in prison - that's what his gorgeous estate really is - and he is permitted to keep ordering up babies who, placed in a bizarre, almost-Frankenstein-like piece of equipment, quickly mature into the man and woman who are his servants.  And who, we also learn, Veidt kills about as quickly as they are created and mature.  Like I said, this is world of advanced biology - and psychos.
At this point, I'd say Watchmen is more comprehensible than Twin Peaks, but a less endearing (nothing, quite yet, like that cherry pie).  But Watchmen does have going for it an intriguing science fiction, nibbling around the edges.

See you next time.

See also Watchmen 1.1: Promising Alternate History ... [Watchmen 1.2: don't look for my review, I didn't feel like reviewing it] ... Watchmen 1.3: The Falling Car



more alternate reality - "flat-out fantastic" - Scifi and Scary

Friday, November 8, 2019

Emergence 1.6: The People Who Are Kindred



Emergence checked in with another strong episode - 1.6 - this week, and brought us to two surprising revelations.  Both concern Kindred.

One is that Kindred didn't invent or create the android that is Piper.  It turns out that the well-named Alan Wilkis did - well-named because he has the same first name, spelled the same way, as Alan Turing.  He was the genius who in real history broke the German Enigma Code (which in many ways was responsible for our winning the Second World War), perfected the basis for the digital computer, and left us with the iconic Turing test: if an AI is indistinguishable in its intelligence from human intelligence, then by what logic can we say that the AI lacks human intelligence?

But Alan Wilkis not Kindred as the creator of Piper was not as surprising as what hits us at the end of this episode.  That Second Life-like virtual apparition or avatar of Kindred that keeps drawing Piper into his conversation and into his world turns out to be none other than Emily - or at least, her apparition or avatar.  And this twist of Emily from the hunted to the hunter changes everything, or would seem to, because we still don't know what's really going on.

But I like Emily as a Keyser Soze character, who starts as a vulnerable victim and turns out to be the one who, at least at this point, is pulling the strings.  What it strongly suggests is Emergence has all kinds of tricks up its sleeve.  It's rare that I literally have no idea where a series is heading, certainly rare after the sixth episode.   But Emergence has managed to do that, in an intriguing way, and keeps making me want to watch it more and more.

See also: Emergence: May Just Make It ... Emergence 1.2: Cleaning Up ... Emergence 1.3: Robots and Androids ... Emergence 1.4: Android Child ... Emergence 1.5: Supergirl





The androids are coming out into the open, for the first time in centuries ....


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate: Bright Future



So here we go again.  The critics panned it.  The box-office in the first few days is not impressive.  All manner of self-appointed prognosticators pronounce the franchise deader than an outmoded Terminator model, because that's what it is.

But my son Simon and I saw it tonight.  In the Magic Johnson theater in Harlem, in Dolby, in seats more comfortable than a Lazy Boy, which rumbled when the action on the screen called for it, which it often did.  And ... we enjoyed it immensely.

[some spoilers follow]

This Terminator movie was made by James Cameron, his first since the iconic and brilliant Terminators 1 and 2, lo those many years ago.  It tells a story that take a different path, and obviates, the non-Cameron sequels that followed Terminator 2.  I enjoyed those, too.  But not as much as this new movie.

Skynet is indeed destroyed.  But young John Connor is killed by an Arnold Terminator anyway, sent back before Skynet was destroyed.  This killer Terminator took some time finding John Connor, but he did.  All of that, in effect, is prelude to the story in Dark Fate, where we see another newer Terminator model - that dwarfs T-800/Arnold's powers - hunting a young woman which another monstrous digitized war-system, Legion, has unleashed on its past and her/our present.  This new model, a REV-9 that goes by the name of Gabriel, is so potent a machine that no one human or lesser model like a T-800 can destroy it.

I'd say that's the makings of an excellent movie, and Dark Fate was.  Linda Hamilton is back as a much older Sarah Connor, with a hatred of the T-800 who killed her son,  She gave an effective performance.   Arnold is no great actor, but he put in an outstanding performance as the T-800, showing a combination of humor, sensitivity, and ferocity as called for.  Mackenzie Davis was good as an augmented human Grace from the future, Gabriel Luna was effective as Gabriel, and Natalia Reyes was appealing as Dani, the woman Gabriel is after, first thought by Sarah to be another mother-of-the-savior version of her , but who turned out to be someone different (that was pretty easy to figure out, but that didn't put too much of a dent in the fast action and suspenseful pleasures of the movie).

Like many time travel movies, Dark Fate suffered from the problem of, once we find out that Dani in the future sent Grace back to save her, we know that Grace had to succeed, otherwise there would have been no Dani in the future to send Grace back.   There are ways of handling this - like the multiple worlds scenario - but the Terminator movies, especially the first two, were never about working out all those metaphysical paradoxes of time travel.  There were about the human/machine interface, and, even though I love those paradoxes dearly, the two movies succeeded grandly.

As did Dark Fate.  So, I predict that some year before too long, we'll indeed see another Terminator movie, contrary to all the current doomsayers.   I'll look forward when that happens to reviewing that movie, and putting in a link to this one.



The androids are coming out into the open, for the first time in centuries ....

Monday, November 4, 2019

His Dark Materials 1.1: Radiation Punk



His Dark Materials debuted on HBO tonight.  It was good to see - especially Ruth Wilson as the mysterious and alluring Marisa, the very night after The Affair concluded, splendidly, on Showtime, where Wilson played the alluring Alison, of which I'll say no more in case you haven't seen it.

But about His Dark Materials, to begin with, a proviso about me.  Although the trilogy by Philip Pullman came out around the same time as I first started getting my science fiction stories and novels published in major places - the mid-late 1990s - I never read them.  I should have, and it's even more surprising that I didn't, since alternate realities are one my favorite science fiction/fantasy genres (the other being time travel).  But, in a way, I'm now glad that I didn't read the trilogy, because it allows me to approach the HBO series as a first encounter, unencumbered by comparisons to the appearance of the narrative in an earlier medium.

The ambience of the TV series including the set-up is a pleasure for the eyes and brain.  It's a kind of steampunk, except there are helicopters and all sorts of other present or close-to-present trappings, so maybe radiation punk would be a better label (there's also talk about some kind of dangerous "dust").  Animals talk and are bonded - in a "sacred" way - to humans.  That is, each person has her or his own sentient animal, known as a "daemon".  The academic town of Oxford is in this alternate world, as is London, much more than academic, which we haven't seen as yet.

It's too soon for a Dark Materials novice to get what's really going on, but we've seen enough to know there are no shortage of heroes and villains, and lots of compelling people in between.   Marisa, for example, seems to be such a mix, but Lyra seems as pure as the snow.  James McAvoy as Lord Asriel is looking to be entirely good, but Clarke Peters (Treme and The Wire!) as the powerful Master not quite so.  These subtleties make for good story telling.

Which I'll be watching and reporting about back here, on likely a weekly basis.



more alternate reality - "flat-out fantastic" - Scifi and Scary


Watchmen 1.3: The Falling Car



Watchmen checked in with a clarifying, excellent episode 1.3 tonight, introducing Jean Smart as FBI honcho and super good-guy killer Laurie Blake, and giving us a nice extended rendition of Desmond Dekker's "Israelites," one of my many all-time favorite songs (in fact, I'm listening to it on YouTube right now).

Blake is a sarcastic, effective, very necessary character.  The episode went by quickly, and I wasn't paying one-hundred percent attention - I never can, in a story like this - so I may have some of this a little wrong, and I don't like watching a scene twice to check, but I think Blake is Dr. Manhattan's former wife or ex-girlfriend, and he's currently on Mars.  Even if he's not on Mars, I'm certain that humans are on Mars in this alternate reality, and that's another nifty departure of Watchmen's reality from ours.

Blake also calls Manhattan (the man on Mars, not the borough) via a phone in a blue phone booth that connects her to Mars, and tells him a variety of lamely sage jokes, the best of which being about what a girl does with an extra brick - I used to tell a two-part version of this two-part joke when I was a kid (I heard it from someone else) - but in Blake's version the punchline is the brick comes down on God's head.  This is picked up nicely in what almost happens to Blake at the end of this episode.

But first, I also much like the tension between Blake and Sister Night - they make a good pair of adversaries, who may well come together in the end, even though Blake eats good guys for breakfast, or something like that, as she makes clear to everyone.  But Sister Night's her match, and I liked her response to Blake's attempt at intimidation.

But back to the end, a car falls out of the sky and almost on Blake's head, almost fulfilling the brick in her joke.  Maybe that was the car we saw lifted off the ground either in this or a previous episode?  It's hard to tell in this gonzo narrative, but I can at least tell that it's appealing, and I'll continue to watch.

See also Watchmen 1.1: Promising Alternate History ... [Watchmen 1.2: don't look for my review, I didn't feel like reviewing it]



more alternate reality - "flat-out fantastic" - Scifi and Scary



Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Affair Finale: Saving the Very Best for Last



Finales of significant and great series come in on all kinds of levels.  The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Star Trek: The Next Generation in their own very different ways came in the very best (see my PBS interview about this a few years ago).  I'd say The Affair came in tonight in that very lofty company.

It was a heart-warming, healing, beautifully and sadly appropriate ending to a brilliant, disturbing, unique, and refreshing series.  Noah and Helen in bed together, with all four of their children sitting on a bench outside of the motel room.  Just perfect.   Joanie finally growing into herself and going home to her husband and kids.   Noah on the cliff overlooking the water and dancing at the end, both of the finale and of his own life.  A Noah wiser than he'd ever been.

Those were the big things, pure gold, and there were more of them.  But there also were little things.  Bruce coming through for Whitney, even though his brain is faltering.  The fact that Helen and her mother died the very same year (poor Helen couldn't get rid of her). The dance that the kids and Whitney's new husband and Sierra and even Helen's mother did - no, that was not a little thing.  That was a big thing, and wonderful.

But I was sad that Noah at the end has lost Helen, in a way that can't be repaired.  Sad and glad that he can at least talk to her at her grave, and read to her from their daughter Stacey's book.  Life and love and talent can endure through generations.  That's a great parting thought, and I'm glad Noah was still alive to convey it to us.

What an Emmy-worth performance by Dominic West, and by Maura Tierney as Helen, too.  They both deserves the very highest accolades for their work in this series, as do the creators Hagai Levi and Sarah Treem.   The Affair was before the finale one of my favorite series ever on television.  The finale makes it even more so.



And see also The Affair 3.1: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 3.2: Sneak Preview Review: Right Minds ... The Affair 3.3: Who Attached Noah? ... The Affair 3.4: The Same Endings in Montauk ... The Affair 3.5: Blocked Love ... The Affair 3.6: The Wound ... The Affair 3.7: The White Shirt ... The Affair 3.8: The "Miserable Hero" ... The Affair 3.9: A Sliver of Clarity ... The Affair 3.10: Taking Paris

And see also The Affair 2.1: Advances ... The Affair 2.2: Loving a Writer ... The Affair 2.3: The Half-Wolf ... The Affair 2.4: Helen at Distraction ... The Affair 2.5: Golden Cole ... The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel) ... The Affair 2.7: Stunner ... The Affair 2.8: The Reading, the Review, the Prize ...The Affair 2.9: Nameless Hurricane ... The Affair 2.10: Meets In Treatment ... The Affair 2.11: Alison and Cole in Business ... The Affair Season 2 Finale: No One's Fault


 

In the Shadow of the Moon: Time Travel Under the Table



So I saw an odd little, strangely compelling, movie on Netflix last night, just as our clocks were slipping back an hour.  Turns out that that timing, for want of a better word, was just right.

In The Shadow of the Moon is advertised as as a strange crime movie, in which a series of bizarre murders happen every nine years.   In Philadelphia.  That should have been the tip-off for me - Philadelphia.  I mean, that's where one of the all-time greatest time travel moves, 12 Monkeys, takes place.  And Philadelphia just speaks of science fiction.  That's where I'll be next weekend - at Philcon, the world's "first and longest-running" science fiction conventions (organized by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society) - where I'll be on panels, reading from my new alternate-Beatles story, and singing songs from my new album, Welcome Up: Songs of Space and Time," to be released early next year.

And, sure enough, that's what In the Shadow of the Moon turns out to be: a science fiction story, more specifically, a time travel story! (I love time travel), in which the killer turns out to be a young woman from the future who travels back in time, on a quest that is every time traveler's dream (well, most of them) to save the world from an awful fate.

The Philadelphia ambience, starting in the 1980s and moving up to the present, is excellent.  Dexter's Michael C. Hall has a decent role, and the acting in general is fine (shout-outs to Boyd Holbrook as the cop, Cleopatra Coleman as the killer, and filmmaker Jim Mickle). There's a mad scientist, an obsessed cop, and most important (for me), the movie has a real heart and soul.

So see the movie, and if you're in Philadelphia next week, come by and hear some of my science fiction songs.  At least one is about time travel.

 



Jack Ryan 2: Fascism Loses - At Least, In This Story



The second season of Jack Ryan began streaming yesterday on Amazon Prime.  My wife and I saw it tonight, and thought was it excellent, and better than the first season, which I said last year was splendid.

The theme was shreddingly relevant to the world around us right now: a President in Venezuela who values his power more than democracy and is willing to do anything to hold on to his power.  By relevant, I'm not referring to the shaky hold on democracy that has long characterized many countries in South America.  I'm talking, sadly and obviously, about what is going on in the United States right now.

President Reyes is willing to suspend elections when he fears they're not going his way, and order a compliant military to murder civilians.  True, that's not quite as bad as what we have in the United States today, and not likely to happen.  But that's only because I don't think our military would follow orders like that in the United States.  But the very fact that we have to think about it, which is because we have a President who daily denounces the news as fake and thinks any votes against him were somehow rigged, is reason enough to be very concerned.

Meanwhile, on the screen, Jack Ryan was better than ever.  He's unbribeable and unshakable in his devotion to truth and justice.   He's clearheaded and steadfast in his loyalty to his friends.  And he gets the job done.  The story has some good turns, suitable villains, and even a complicated love interest who gets in the action with Jack in more ways than one.  And the supporting characters, ranging from the lead commando team,  to Greer and November, are all in good, memorable form.

So see the second outing of Jack Ryan on Prime Video and enjoy.  And take comfort in the fact that our current President in what passes for real life these days was roundly booed tonight in Madison Square Garden.  (That's right, Joe Scarborough, that's democracy.)

See also: Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime: Right Up There

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Emergence 1.5: Supergirl



With last night's episode 1.5 of Emergence, Piper has moved from the category of someone with superpowers to Supergirl.  That's because she clearly has more than one incredible superpower.

She not only can move around huge objects with ease - like a truck barreling towards her car - but she can also see inside Ed's body and know that the medication he's taking for his cancer isn't working.  Either one of those powers would make Piper a superhero, as Mia earnestly asks Piper if she is after Mia, in the same car, witnesses Piper's trick with the truck.  Mia doesn't yet know about Piper's medical diagnostic power.  If she had, she would likely realize that Piper is much more than your traditional super hero.

And, like Supergirl, Piper has her Kryptonite.   That would be Kindred, and the door he's literally able to draw Piper through, to be assert his authority.  The question still remains as to what that authority is.

As I wrote about Westworld - and indeed, twenty years ago in a piece called The Civil Rights of Robots.  AIs, androids, robots, are entitled to make their own decisions and chart their own destinies if they are sentient.  Making a slave of a sentient being we invented is no better than making a slave of a sentient being already in existence.  We know now that Piper is an AI.  The growing presence of Kindred means that Emergence is now in the same fascinating and treacherous philosophic waters as Westworld.

Which makes Emergence even more eminently worth watching.

See also: Emergence: May Just Make It ... Emergence 1.2: Cleaning Up ... Emergence 1.3: Robots and Androids ... Emergence 1.4: Android Child






The androids are coming out into the open, for the first time in centuries ....

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