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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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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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TV Round-Up: The Orville “Ja’loja”

orvilleseasontwoI started off last season doing a weekly recap of The Orville.  Well, at least until three or four episodes piled up on the DVR and I got behind in my viewing and recapping.

I eventually got the rest of season one, binging them* over a short succession of days. What I found was a show that was growing in confidence, characters, and storytelling, slowly moving away from the “typical” Seth MacFarland type of set-ups for jokes that more often than not didn’t quite land.  The only drawback of the last three-quarters of season one was the show spent far too much time dwelling on what I considered the least interesting aspect of the show, the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Ed and Kelly’s relationship.

*As much as one can binge having a two-year-old.  That generally means that binging is watching a full episode in one sitting without being distracted by whatever mischief Shortcake has discovered.

With the season one finale, I hoped the show might have finally resolved this arc and decided to move on. Continue reading

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Doctor Who: Kill the Moon

killthemoonThere must be something about the Doctor using a Scottish accent that makes him go dark, alien and manipulative.

As I’ve said all season, it feels like Stephen Moffat is deconstructing the character of the Doctor to answer the question, “Am I a good man.”   I have a feeling after the events of “Into the Moon” that Clara’s answer would be slightly different than the one she gave a few weeks ago.   She’s probably gone from uncertain to convinced that this new Doctor isn’t really a good man after all, but instead a dark, manipulative character.

It’s interesting to imagine how this story might have played out with other modern Doctors.  It’s easy to see the David Tennant or Matt Smith Doctor figuring out a way to save the alien creature that is hatching from the moon.  In fact, I felt like there were call backs to Matt Smith’s second episode and the space whale with the Doctor’s speech about finding a new name after he’s forced to kill the space whale because that isn’t what the Doctor is or does.    Contrast that with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor who is initially enthusiastic about the discovery but then takes a hands-off approach on the decision on whether or not the young alien hatchling will live or die.  It even gets to the point that the Doctor abandons Clara and Courtney, leaving them to make a momentous decision without his advice or wisdom.

In some ways, “Kill the Moon” felt a bit like Torchwood’s “Children of Earth” in that we are presented with a situation to which there is no right solution — just varying degrees of wrong.  Seeing the Earth people be of one mind to kill the creature rather than risk the possible destruction of Earth was a chilling one.   Coupled with Clara’s conflict over what should be done (I almost wish there had been one single light left on to give us some hope) and her impulsive decision to save the creature, there were moments in the final few minutes that almost felt suffocating.

And yet, unlike “Children of Earth,” the Doctor arrives in the end to say that everything worked out as it should.   Humanity has its moment to look upward and be awed by the universe again.  This story sets into motion the future Earth empire that we’ve seen in other stories with humanity spreading out to the stars.

Of course, it does bring up the question of what did the Doctor know and when did he know it.  Citing a grey area and certain points in history that can’t be altered ,the Doctor refuses to give Clara the assurance that everything will work out, regardless of what her decision is.   It brings up the interesting question of whether or not he’s testing Clara, knowing full well how everything works out.  Or if he’d have come in to save the creature had Clara chosen not to abort the countdown.

It leads to a final scene in the TARDIS that echoes Ace’s anger at the Doctor in “The Curse of Fenric.”  In both cases, the Doctor is keeping details from his companions and allowing them to make decisions, observing them and possibly testing them.  And in both cases, the companions figure this out and blow up at the Doctor, demanding answers.  And while Ace demands answers mid-story, Clara’s wrath comes in the form of rejecting the Doctor and telling him not to come back.    Whether or not she’s truly done with the Doctor remains to be seen.  Danny believes she isn’t because he can still make her angry.    And I have a feeling that the Doctor may try to win Clara back — or at least have her parting with him be under better circumstances.

It should be an interesting ride to the end of the season.

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