After enjoying last weekend’s streaming performance of one of my favorite musicals, The Phantom of the Opera, I was intrigued to see that this weekend’s offering was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s sequel Love Never Dies. Having never experienced the musical before, I decided to go in without any preconceptions, which meant I didn’t stream the soundtrack or look up any details about it on Wikipedia.
I was intrigued and excited as I sat down to watch this sequel Friday evening. It would take a lot to equal or even top Phantom of the Opera in my mind, but I was optimistic about Love Never Dies.
The opening song as the Phantom laments the way things ended with Christine and his desire to hear her sing again held promise.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
I’m not saying that Love Never Dies is terrible, so much as it’s disappointing. For one thing, Lloyd-Weber seemingly ignores the timeline he used for the original story, claiming that it’s only been ten years since Phantom ended but using dates don’t quite concur with that.
Like many people my age, I looked forward to watching The Wizard of Oz each year on CBS. The movie would dominate discussion on the playground the next day and you felt like you were missing something if you hadn’t watched it and couldn’t participate in the conversation.
But before I watched the movie for the inauguration of the American Film Institute’s Movie Club, I’d say it’s been at least two decades since I watched the movie. It’s not for lack of access — no longer must I wait for it to show up on CBS or one of the Turner movie channels since we long ago added it to our DVD collection. But it’s a film that has become such a part of the tapestry of our popular culture that it’s easy to feel lately, even if “lately” is twenty or so years ago.
I won’t say that watching it this time felt like it was new. But, it felt like I was discovering an old friend again.*
* A friend that will probably get a lot of viewing once Shortcake discovers the film. She wasn’t engaged with the film yet and I distracted her during some of the “scarier” moment with the Wicked Witch of the West pulling her shenanigans. Continue reading
The final two years of the starship Enterprise‘s five-year mission have proved a fertile ground for storytelling and examination over the past several decades. Pocket Books has multiple tie-in novels from the era and then a hit-or-miss series about the “Lost Years” between the end of the five-year mission and the start of the motion picture series.
Now, IDW attempts to give fans the final year of Captain James T. Kirk and company’s tenure on the starship Enterprise with Star Trek: Year Five. This collection of the first six issues of the series contains three complete “episodes” that attempt to blend the stand-alone storytelling of the original Star Trek with the season-long arcs that are prevalent today. The hybrid works well enough, giving us some interesting character exploration as Kirk faces the prospect of becoming an admiral coupled with regrets about his past (his relationship with Carol and David Marcus serves as a launching point for the middle installment of the arc). There’s even an apparent rift developing between Kirk and Spock (which interestingly plays into Pocket Books’ “The Lost Years” saga) and the crew potentially becoming involved in some squabbling between the Tholians (last seen trapping our crew in their web).
The storytelling and artwork for these six collected issues is spot-on an feels like they came right out of a potential fifth season of the classic series. It’s interesting to see the crew go back to “A Piece of the Action” to examine the implications of McCoy leaving his communicator behind (this is also explored by Peter David in his comic arc “The Trial of James T. Kirk” for D.C. years ago). The characters are well represented and some of the crew that aren’t Kirk, Spock, or McCoy get a moment or two to shine as well.
In short, this is a diverting and entertaining collection of stories that Star Trek fans will enjoy.
Shay Miller’s life isn’t exactly coming up roses at the moment. Laid off from her data analyst role, she’s temping while looking for a new job. Lonely and struggling to find connections, she lives with her best friend Sean, who she secretly harbors a crush on. Sean’s girlfriend Jody isn’t thrilled with the living arrangements and is making noises that it might be time for Shay to find somewhere else to live.
But Shay’s world is upended one morning during her commute when she witnesses Amanda throwing herself in front of a subway train. Reeling from the event, Shay finds herself drawn into figuring out what would lead Amanda to end her life — and that investigation leads her right into the orbit of the Moore sisters, Cassandra and Jane.
Cassandra and Jane are everything Shay wants to be with a close circle of friends, a self-assuredness, and the world seemingly their oyster. But Cassandra and Jane harbor dark secrets and their motives in taking Shay under their wing may not be as altruistic as they appear on the surface.
To say much more would be to give away some of the reveals in Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s latest thriller, You Are Not Alone. Hendricks and Pekkanen keep the plot propelling forward by doling out clues and alternating perspectives between the first-person narration by Shay, third-person check-ins on the Moore sisters and flashbacks to other people who have come into the sisters’ orbits. The story gives you just enough to keep the pages turning, curious to see what will happen next to Shay and what the Moore sisters’ overall end game could be. It certainly kept me guessing at times.
That isn’t to say this is a perfect thriller. It’s a great popcorn novel — and one that doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny, especially as the end game Cassandra and Jane have in mind comes to light. The less you examine the details, the happier you’ll probably be with the story overall.
Watching as Hendricks and Pekkanen ratchet up the suspense, dread, and paranoia over the middle third of the novel is a lot of fun and really kept the pages turning. But it’s one the story reaches the third portion that things begin to slowly unravel.
If you’re looking for something fun to take your mind off things, this one is a great distraction.