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Robert Holmes Doctor Who Rewatch: “The Space Pirates”

vjiftcVfDsdapiZ-800x450-noPadWhat if I told you there was a Doctor Who serial written by the great Robert Holmes in which the presence of the Doctor and his companions wouldn’t alter the outcome of the story one bit?

You’d probably think I was talking about the classic serial, “The Caves of Androzani.”

And you’d be correct.

But I could also be talking about “The Space Pirates,” Holmes’ second offering for the series.

At this point in the Patrick Troughton era, scripts kept falling through and there was a behind-the-scenes scramble to get something on the screens to fill time. And “The Space Pirates” sure feels like it’s doing a lot of filing time over the course of its six episodes.

The story has a pretty dodgy reputation among Doctor Who fans. Part of that is that the single surviving episode features the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe locked in a room with little or no impact on the story unfolding. Another part of it is that there’s a lack of visual materials to go with the surviving audio, making viewing the telesnap version of this story a bit of a slog at times. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision, The Series Finale

wandavision-series-finale-thumb-700x380-232922I’ve been rewatching Battlestar Galactica lately and one thought keeps jumping into my head each time I see the words “And they have a plan” flash onto my screen. Would the series have been better if Ronald Moore and company hadn’t promised us that the Cylons had some type of plan behind what they were doing? Would not having the promise of a lot of huge revelations and some kind of overarching plan behind everything happening to the last remnants of humanity have been better when the series finally reached its endgame?

That thought had been on my mind a bit leading up to my viewing of the series finale of WandaVision. After two months of intense online fan speculation, the finale’s director had come out and warned fans the finale might not answer or address every question being raised in multiple online forums.

And with rumors swirling that we’d get a big-name guest star for the finale and Disney releasing a promo featuring Doctor Strange in it, it was hard not to elevate expectations to levels that virtually no finale could expect to live up to.

And then, WandaVision did something unexpected. It tossed all those expectations aside and delivered the finale this series needed. We didn’t need an answer to every single question. We didn’t need a big-name cameo from the MCU to justify this show’s nine-week run. Instead, what we got was a show that focused on its two title characters and the impact creating and then taking down the reality Wanda created would have on them. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision, Breaking the Fourth Wall

vdc1250-107-comp-v004-r709-a3f29eea-1613732413I hate the way consuming pop culture has become a contest these days — well, at least to certain sites. There is such a rush to consume something and to be the first to discuss the details or twists and turns of a thing.

Look, I get it — not everyone can consume something at the same time or at the same speed. And while I appreciated the light SPOILERs that staying through the closing credits was a necessity this week (I always have because I like opening credits), the big reveal was ruined for me Friday morning by a headline that came through my feed.

And I know, part of the SPOILER responsibility is mine. But I also think you shouldn’t put a freakin’ spoiler in your stinkin’ headline!

OK, rant over.

Because this felt like an episode that is setting up the end game for the series. All the pieces are in place and the revelations have come. Now, it’s just a matter of all those pieces getting knocked down. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision, All New Halloween Spooktacular

Wandavision-Season-1-Episode-6-RecapWell, that escalated quickly, didn’t it?

After a couple of weeks of wondering just how the people trapped in Westview were faring if not in Wanda’s immediate sphere of influence, we found out this week, thanks to the Vision. The answer is — not well. They appear to be stuck but with an awareness of what’s happening to them. I’m going to assume based on the tear rolling down the cheek of the woman apparently stuck forever hanging laundry, that they’re all in some type of pain — whether it’s physical or emotional. I imagine it’s frustrating for them to be stuck in the perfect for her only town that Wanda has (apparently) created around her.

The more we see, the more I wonder just how much control over this scenario Wanda actually has. Last week, she told the kids she can’t resurrect the dead — but she’s done that with Vision and now her brother. Despite being the center of this universe, I can’t help but wonder how much control she really has over things. She can apparently expand that power and the sphere of the universe a bit. But what would she have done if pulled Hayward in there with her? Would she enact some type of revenge on him for attacking her home and family? While we met Wanda as a villain, it’s hard to imagine (at this point) that she’d hurt someone. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision, “We Interrupt This Program”

MEX2090_104_comp_v007_r709.00099148.0With “We Interrupt This Program,” WandaVision suddenly feels like an episode of Lost. After spending three episodes establishing the world of the series and introducing some head-scratching elements, “We Interrupt This Program” provides a few answers, but opens up a world of even larger questions.

So, we’ve found out that this isn’t some kind of experiment being run on Wanda, but is instead a reality she’s created in Westview. And apparently, she’s able to manipulate things beyond the wall — from police officers who forget that Westview exists despite standing in front the sign for it to altering the helicopter drone that passes through the barrier. It does raise an interesting question about if and when Wanda knew that Monica had invaded the universe she’s created. Yes, we find out the moment she realized last week (and we saw it again on-scree this week, only in widescreen this time), but how much did Wanda know before. It certainly seems as if Wanda is unaware of just how far she’s going in creating this elaborate sit-com fantasy for herself and dragging everyone in with her.

I find myself wondering just if and how the avatars in her world know and if they have any power to try and resist whatever it is she’s doing. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision, “Now In Color”

wandavision-episode-3-olsen-parrisIf you’re a TV fan of a certain age, you may recall sweeps months. They were glorious times for fans of television because the networks would set ad revenue rates based on the ratings of a couple of months of the year. This meant you got a lot of new content and episodes of your favorite shows when big things would happen — couples getting together, marriage proposals, weddings, births.

And while sweeps months aren’t quite as huge as they once were, I still can’t help but feel like this third installment of WandaVison would be a near-perfect sweeps episode. Not only do we get the birth of Wanda and Vision’s twins, but we get some hints about the larger picture of what’s going on here.

While watching Wanda try to cover up her rapidly evolving pregnancy made good use of television tropes (hiding in coats, behind things, etc), it was once we got to Geraldine arriving on-scene that things kicked up a notch. Suddenly, it appears that Geraldine knows about Wanda outside of the fantasy sit-com world that’s been built around her. Geradine drops the knowledge of her brother who died — someone who could run really, really fast. Interestingly enough, Vision also displays the ability to run really, really fast in this episode, something I’m pretty sure isn’t in his standard retinue of powers (at least from my limited reading of the character).

It also appears some of the supporting cast seems to know more than they’re telling.

The ending makes it appear as if Wanda is somehow part of a Truman Show-like experiment taking place. It does make me wonder if the Vision is also in there or if he’s also part of the simulation. Or are there “real” people in there who can be expelled (and possibly reinserted, I assume) and characters (the never seen husband of Katherine Hahn’s character, for example. Or is that red herring of someone more significant that we haven’t seen yet?)

It all makes for some fascinating questions and not a lot of answers. But then again, it’s only episode three.

I am curious to see which family sitcom they pull from for the 80’s and if the kids will rapidly age and change actors portraying them. If that’s the case, I could see how Family Ties might be a good sitcom for that era. Or will the homages have to slow down a bit to spread them across the next six episodes?

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TV Round-Up: WandaVision Episode One and Two

 

WANDAVISION

Around the turn of the century, there were rumors that multiple epic properties that could or would be difficult to adapt in single movies were being considered as multi-platform adaptations. Start with a movie, move into a TV show and then go back and forth as needed.

They never saw the light of day back then. But in the day and age of binge-watching and with movie theaters shut down for the foreseeable future, the time seems ripe to see if such an idea can and would work. Enter Marvel Studios, who at this point can seemingly do no wrong. Wanting to bolster subscribers to Disney Plus, Marvel is working on multiple live-action series that will tie into the larger MCU.

Given that we’ve all had to take a year off from new Marvel movies and audiences have gotten out of the habit of going to a theater every few months for the latest Marvel offering, introducing WandaVision right now seems like a great idea. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: The Field Where I Died, Sanguinarium

fieldThe Field Where I Died

Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well, maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.

“The Field Where I Died” feels like it’s trying to do a lot of things. It feels a bit like an Emmy bait episode, with a showcase role for David Duchovny as Mulder but also for guest actress Kristen Cloke. Seeing the multiple personalities that flow so quickly and effortlessly out of Melissa via Cloke also seems to scream “award nomination please” in flashing neon letters.

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, the episode also feels like it wants to make all of us who didn’t watch Space: Above and Beyond that the show had really great actors and we just missed it.

The episode also feels like it’s taking things up a notch in terms of the direction. The pre-credit sequence of Mulder in the field is a gorgeous shot, feeling almost cinematic. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: “Teliko” & “Unruhe”

xfiles_unruhe

Teliko
Scully: Where are you going?
Mulder: To find someone who I know who plotted to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.

The final episode of The X-Files to air on a Friday night, “Teliko” isn’t one that necessarily connected well with me then or now. It’s not a terrible episode, per se. It’s just one that feels a bit by the numbers and ends up falling flat. Continue reading

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Star Trek: Picard: Broken Pieces

brokenpieces1If last week’s installment was about checking in on some of the faces from Picard’s former crew, this week’s installment is about building his newest crew.  After weeks of hints, we finally get some answers and payoffs about the past of Rios and a look at what made Agnes eliminate Bruce Maddox.

I just wish that this hadn’t felt quite so heavy-handed and coming out of what is little more than Picard talking to his new crew around this ship’s version of the conference table.  (Certainly, we saw a lot of conferences during the TNG run and it was a time to have huge exposition dumps.  But somehow those didn’t feel quite as obvious as this one did here).

So, it appears the Romulans are dead set against synthetic life forms emerging due to a thousands-of-years-old prophecy that warns about some type of Destroyer.  And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that synthetic life forms don’t come to pass (though why they didn’t try harder to eliminate Data during the run of TNG doesn’t seem to add up much).  They’re playing a long game by infiltrating Starfleet and planting agents in place if someone gets too close to creating synthetic life.  (Again, how Noonian Soon survived as long as he did seems like a legitimate question).

So, Admiral Oh is part Romulan, part Vulcan and has no qualms about mind-melding and creating sleeper agents who will carry out her orders, whether they want to or not.  At least to a certain point since see that Anges will kill Maddox but won’t kill Soji (unless it’s some kind of long game in place to get to the planet full of Sojis and eliminate them all at once).  I do find it interesting that the Romulans are willing to sacrifice a lot of their people to the natural disaster of their sun expanding in order to eliminate the synthetics.  How deep and far this hatred goes is something that could be explored in future seasons, assuming this storyline continues — or maybe moves over to Discovery as I’ve heard rumors might happen.

It’s interesting to see that you’ve got two characters making forced into roles they don’t want — Agnes as well as Seven of Nine.   Seven returns and is forced into the role of the Borg queen after Narissa decides to take the Cube for herself and eliminate all the Borg on it.  It was kind of chilling to see the sheer numbers of drones Narissa is willing to sacrifice because of her hatred of synthetic life and her commitment to whatever her part in this unfolding drama is.  I can’t help but wonder if she wanted the Cube to more easily travel the trans-warp conduits that we see referenced in the episode.

Meanwhile, we see that Rios has a reason as well to be skittish — going back to one of his first assignments with the captain who was like a father figure to him.  The issue of his captain being forced to kill the synthetic life forms and then taking his own life is interesting, but it does bring up some deeper questions about just who is connected to this conspiracy and how.  We saw on Voyager that there was a directive to explore certain particles if they’re detected and that it overrode other mission concerns.  I can’t help but wonder just which Starfleet captains have been programmed for this response — and if Picard wasn’t because of his contact and close proximity to Data.  Or did he miss that day in training?

So, with two episodes left, we’ve got a lot on the table and hopefully some answers on the horizon.

Oh, and I did love the Easter egg from canon where Rios’ first captain knew Marta, Picard’s friend from the Academy that we met in “Tapestry.”

 

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