Category Archives: tv reviews

Doctor Who: The Sea Devils

sea_devils_1972_400In the argument over which story could be considered the best example of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who, it’s interesting to note that some of the most popular choices (“Inferno,” “The Daemons”) only check off a couple of the boxes of elements most associated with that era of show.  It’s probably because the stores in question feature an iconic moment or two or at least enough of the iconic elements that (before the age of VHS, DVD or streaming video) that fans could easily remember elements from one story carrying over to the next. (Indeed, there was an entire column in my days of reading Doctor Who Magazine in which fans wrote in with pieces of memories of stories and tried to have the columnist identify which story it might have come from. Not realizing how spoiled I was by my PBS station at the time airing the entire run of complete Doctor Who serials, I often wondered how the fans could mix up details from stories that were in the BBC archives).

One such example of this is the popular third Doctor era story, “The Sea Devils.” Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Into the Forest I Go

dsc-109-rev-3-640x320With “Into the Forest I Go,” Discovery wraps up its first major arc of the series and gives us another one to ponder until the series head back to our screens in January.

Picking up where last week’s installment left off, the crew finds a way to not only break the Klingon’s cloaking technology but also to take out much of the Klingon leadership.  The story also serves to bring much of the character arc of Michael Burnham full circle.

In addition to the parallels of the war starting and ending on the Klingon ship of the dead, we also got to Burnham use her logic to win over her captain.  The first time it leads to her mutiny and those consequences. This time she’s able to use Vulcan logic to convince Lorca that she needs to go on the away mission since she’s the one who knows the layout of the Klingon vessel the best.

It does bring up an interesting question — why let Tyler go too?  If the logical argument is that she knows the vessel, it also seems logical that Tyler might have some issues going back to a Klingon ship after being held prisoner and tortured for seven months.  But, if we don’t get Tyler over there, we don’t get his flashbacks and we don’t get T’Rell onboard Discovery as a prisoner. It really felt like the writers had an endpoint in mind and this was the only path that could get them from point a to point b.

111313_0646bAt least Tyler and Burnham get to rescue Cornwell, who apparently was only partly dead last week. Seriously, it’s a good thing the Klingons didn’t stab her with bantleth just to make sure she was really dead.

The parallels continue with Burnham battling a Klingon and possibly ending the war. Or at least turning the tide so Starfleet can win and get back to the mission of exploring the unknown and the final frontier. At least that’s what Lorca promises Stamets. But how much of that is Lorca having the heart of an explorer and how much of that was Lorca pushing Stamet’s buttons to get him to agree to the 133 spore drive jumps remains to be seen.

I have to admit I did find there to be some inconsistencies in how Starfleet interacts with Lorca and their expectations. So, Lorca is ordered back to a starbase (in front of the entire bridge crew, mind you) and he then decides to drag his feet, using only warp drive and not the spore drive.  I guess this is the equivalent of taking the long way home from school when you’ve got a bad report card. You’re just postponing the inevitable.  Or in Lorca’s case, finding another way to avoid being taken out of the big chair.

dsc-109-rev-4-640x320Given what we’ve seen about Lorca, I can’t help but think the early dropping of hints about being able to explore parallel universes and then the shot of his hands dancing across the keypad as they were ready to rev up the Spore drive one last time mean that Lorca didn’t necessarily mean he was using the easiest route home. Instead, he’s buying more time — even if that time may have a great cost to Stamet. Again, I think part of Stamet’s reaction in the final spore drive jump was about where Lorca sent them and not as much about him burning out. Perhaps Lorca drove him too hard, asked him to do too much. Or could there be something else waiting out here for them?

Those are questions we’ll have to wait until January to answer.

Once again, the show goes out of its way to earn its TV-MA rating. We got the first f-bomb dropped a few weeks ago and then this time around we get our first, explicit love-scene, complete with Klingon nudity. I’ve got to commend Mary Chieffo for that scene because I can only imagine how long it took to get full body painted and give us some Klingon nudity. I do find it interesting that she’s on board the ship now and teasing Tyler that he will have answers soon. The flashbacks to her torture of him seem to hint that there’s more in play here than just the torture she forced him to endure. I can’t help but wonder if he’s going to play some type of role in T’Rell bargaining to get back to the ship that she deserted V’Latak on a few episodes ago.

111313_0087bMeanwhile, it feels like the crew has finally gelled a bit. Maybe it’s that the crew all had one task — shutting down the Klingon cloak. But the moment when Lorca tells everyone he’s about to disobey a direct order was interesting. Part of me wondered if Saru wouldn’t somehow object to this. And you can’t help but wonder if this will help heal the rift between Burnham and Saru a bit. Saru has violated Starfleet orders here and he had a very good motivation to do so. Could he also begin to see that Burnham had good intentions in the mutiny against Georgiou, even if the results didn’t quite come out the way Burnham hoped or expected?

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops from this in the final six episodes of the year.

I also can’t help but think that Cornwell might try and assume command of the ship based on her reservations about Lorca. And that she may try to figure out how to get them back home again.

I also ask myself just how hurt Stamets is and can he help them all get home again.  I have a feeling based on the preview, that’s too simple a way out for the crew.

So much to ponder until we pick the story back up in January….

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Ep8-6-11-3-17After taking a week off for some wacky time-travel fun, Star Trek: Discovery gets back to the business of the war with “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.”

CBS Digital originally intended for this episode to serve as the mid-season finale.  And while it does end of a cliffhanger, I’m glad they’ve decided not to just leave us hanging on these developments for the next couple of months.  Don’t get me wrong — it’s strong, solid episode but I think I would have been annoyed if this was where we left things until January.  Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

dsc-107-rev-3-640x318Strange that an episode featuring a never-ending time loop where a lot of the crew dies in the course of defending the ship would be one of the most entertaining, fun and light episodes Star Trek: Discovery has given us.

And yet, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” achieves just that.

A lot of that can be chalked up to the presence of one Harcourt Fenton Mudd, who wants to sell Discovery’s secret weapon to the Klingon in exchange for a lot of money. (I’d argue that Mudd may be lying a bit there since it’s fairly obvious that he has an iffy relationship with the truth.  It doesn’t seem too huge a stretch to think that Mudd has bartered with the Klingons to set him free in exchange for handing over Discovery to them.  That would go a long way toward giving Mudd more motive to reset the timeline when he finds out who Burnham is and she kills herself.  Mudd may need that extra money to pay off whatever debts he’s accrued and would rather spend his life running from, rather than marrying Stella).  Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Lethe

dsc-106-rev-05-640x318Years ago, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens classic Trek novel “Prime Directive” opened with a paragraph talking about how badly Starfleet misjudged the men it put into the center chair of the constellation class ships during TOS era.  It pointed out that a large majority of these captains came to a less than ignominious end, citing examples from TOS episodes as the basis for this.

Watching “Lethe,” I felt like this opening paragraph not only applied to the constellation class ships in Starfleet but also to other commanders from the TOS era.  Continue reading

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Star Trek: Discovery: Choose Your Pain

MV5BMGI3MmY1NWMtY2IxOC00MWEzLTg4OTMtNGE1ZGM3YmRmZTVlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ0MDUyMzg@._V1_With “Choose Your Pain,” Discovery begins to dig a little deeper into its characters and some interesting questions surrounding the exploration of the final frontier.

While being held prisoner by the Klingons, Lorca is called out by Harcourt Fenton Mudd (better known as Harry in a call back to the original series) over Starfleet’s perceived arrogance at heading out into the final frontier and expecting the rest of the universe to be fine with it.  Mudd argues that Starfleet failed to take into account how parties that weren’t Starfleet officers might react to this – from the humans who already had business in space to the various alien races that humanity would encounter during its exploration of the final frontier.  In some ways, Mudd’s argument echoes the concerns the Vulcan’s had about turning humanity lose into the stars without some kind of guidance or training wheels that we saw repeatedly on Enterprise.  And, on some level, Mudd has some valid points, whether it’s the fact that Lorca destroyed his own ship or that Starfleet has started a war with the Klingons that is having a huge impact on the rest of the galaxy.  It certainly has had an impact on Mudd himself, though a lot of what let Mudd to that cell is his own doing. Continue reading

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Review: Breaking Bad 101 by Alan Sepinwall

Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical CompanionLooking back, I wish I could say I was on board with Breaking Bad from the beginning.

Lured by the potential of a former X-Files writer, I tuned into the first installment and let the first season stack up on my DVR – only to delete it when the DVR got full.

I didn’t quite connect with what Vince Gilligan and company were trying to do in season one. But with seasons two and three generating such a huge buzz, I decided to give the show another try. Like the product at the center of this show, I was hooked, binging all of season three in the weekend leading up to the debut of season four and then breathlessly waiting each new installment as they aired. Continue reading

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