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Geeky Flashback: Alien Nation

SF fans have plenty of reasons to be pissed at Fox Network right now. the cancellation of Sarah Connor Chronicles, the futzing they did with the first few episodes of Dollhouse, and there will always be Firefly. What some people may not realize is that Fox has a long history of canceling excellent SF shows for dubious reasons (including their own incompetence in promotion and marketing). Remember Alien Nation? Like Buffy, which debuted many years later, this series was based on a B movie that didn’t enjoy huge success. Also like Buffy, the TV series was heaps better. The background/mythos was pretty deep, the show explored social issues, and the producers essentially made the concept work.

Alien Nation combined two genres — science fiction and buddy cop shows. Matthew Sykes was a hardened LA cop with an attitude. George Francisco was a somewhat naive alien. The perfect pair!

The show only got one season and that ended on a cliffhanger, which was a real shame. Despite a setup that could have been completely cheesy, the show explored some really deep issues (race, class, immigration, assimilation, prejudice) without being constantly morose or patronizing. It also featured an alien race that had a well thought out culture, society, and physiology. (One of the best things about the Newcomers was that they ate things humans considered rancid like sour milk and weasel.) It was an intelligent SF show — and everyone knows how well those go over on network television.


Doctor Who Easter Special — “Planet of the Dead”

It’s hard not to be bitter about the fact that we’re not in the midst of Doctor Who‘s fifth season right now and instead have to content ourselves with just one hour-long episode. But I was determined to put that behind me and enjoy “Planet of the Dead”. After all, Michelle Ryan is a favorite of mine (ever since her turn in Jekyll). I must admit that I was generally underwhelmed by the episode. This would have been forgivable if it was mid-season, but it’s one of the last three with David Tennant. Is it so much to ask that it be super amazing and awesome?

Apparently so.

Come to Fantasy to read more, but beware spoilers if you haven’t seen the episode.


Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 8: “A Spy In The House Of Love”

As you may have surmised from my last post, I am not a huge fan of Dollhouse. I find the concept sketchy and the execution even sketchier. I keep watching because, well, I’m paid to (sort of). That being said I found more to like than to hate in last night’s episode and it’s apparently all down to Andrew Chambliss, the writer. Proof that even the worst concepts can work when the right writer steps into the driver’s seat.

The theme of “A Spy In The House Of Love” is revelations: Topher discovers a foreign chip in the equipment that reveals the presence of a spy; the audience discovers that Miss DeWitt is the true Miss Lonely Hearts who keeps requesting Victor for romantic escapades; Paul Ballard finally learns that Mellie is a sleeper doll; the Dollhouse staff finds out that Mr. Dominic is the spy (and also that DeWitt is so hard and freaking British that she can take a bullet and still continue on with revelatory dialogue).

All of this is handled extremely well and teased out through a familiar, though hard to pull off, structure of overlapping time- and plotlines. Perhaps if we’d had more of this in the beginning I could have been on board with this show. Or maybe not.

Because there’s still all that damn rape. Because the show continues not to show any remorse for all the damn rape. And last week, when it was supposed to be all about closure and such, I did very much notice that Sierra’s closure in no way involved actually getting to do anything about the man who had her kidnapped and forcibly made into a doll. Sure, Victor punched him a few times, but why did he not die? The show hasn’t shied away from death before. And I have to say that the dude who put Sierra in the Dollhouse has to be as punishable or even more so than the handler who raped her. (And again, show, if you play that scene one more time, I will come for you.)

I suppose it comes down to this: “A Spy In The House Of Love” made all the episodes that came before it look even worse because we now see the show is capable of so much more.


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles — “Born to Run”

Last night’s episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles may well be the last in the entire series, sadly. Though the episode mostly worked when seen that way, I found myself angry at the show’s creators for leaving us with so many unanswered questions and trailing plotlines. You can’t count on being renewed for another season, and, as other shows proved long ago, you can construct a season with a definable, questions-fully-answered ending and still continue if you’re picked up once more. Now fans of the series are left with a lot of questions and must turn to writing fanfiction to answer them. Thanks SCC creators, sheesh!

I also found myself angry because too many episodes of this season were spent spinning wheels instead of moving the plot forward in a satisfactory manner. If we’d had the kind of movement throughout the season as we had in the last 4 episodes they could have gotten to the same or similar ending while also having resolved all the mysteries the show threw at us. Instead we had too much of John Connor whining and too much of Sarah Connor chasing down leads that really should have led somewhere faster.

The thing that makes me the most mad is that, despite all of this, I loved the show so much. I wanted it to continue. I want the answers to the questions and a satisfying ending. I am so pissed that I don’t get one.

Let’s raise a glass and mourn for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was not the perfect show, but it was often awesome, occasionally frustrating, and deserved better than to be killed by Friday night.


Dollhouse Season 1, Episode 7: Echoes

Last week’s episode of Dollhouse was supposed to be the one that changed everything. This is the show Joss intended to make, insiders cried. Give him some time! After that bit of underwhelming story, I figured that Dollhouse couldn’t impress me. I would even go so far as to say that I think the show is pretty damn bad.

Then I watched “Echoes”. I won’t say it changed my mind about the show completely, but I did feel like there was an inkling of something interesting going on — though, sadly, not enough for me to even say I enjoyed it. I still think people who, upon viewing last week’s episode, felt that the master had returned were just fooling themselves and falling for the hype. I bet if Joss posted online “Oops, I meant episode seven, not six, my bad!” those same people would later say that six was just as horrible as the five that came before.

Moving on!

In this episode of Dollhouse, we find out that something called the Rossum corporation is what runs all the 20 dollhouses across the globe. We learn that they entrust the R&D of their sci-fi-inspired drugs and processes to university labs with lax security. I predict this will go as well for them in the future as it has in the past. Rossum also seems to feel that the best way to deal with people messing around in their lab is to force them into indetured slavery. This is going to end well for everyone.

One of their experimental drugs goes missing, a student who took said drug kills himself while tripping, then the drug decides it’s going to pass from person to person via touch which causes everyone to start freaking out. Normal people just act high. Dolls have bad flashbacks. Can I just say at this point how really annoyed I am that the Sierra doll flashed back to being abused by her handler? That storyline was sketchy enough, but in this episode we actually get to see him raping her.

I hate you, Joss Whedon.

Echo, who isn’t even supposed to be near all this, accidentally sees the Rossum building on TV, rushes to the scene because her memories are leaking through, and conveniently provides us with some background on how she came to be in the Dollhouse to begin with. Glad there were 6 episodes between that stupid first scene in the entire series and this. Now we can look back and think “ohh, so that’s what was going on!” and feel satisfied even though nothing satisfactory happened.

We also got an extra dollop of stereotypical black man is the bad guy in all of this. Stereotypical not because he’s doing bad things (all people do bad things. and at least he’s a scientist) but Joss took down his favorite character-building book “How to Create Minorities in 3 Easy Strokes or Less” and turned to the raised by a single mother/he’s all she’s got/she’s in financial trouble page. Thumbs up!

I enjoy an episode where the actors are given a chance to be crazy and weird. The upper echelon House runners seemed to be enjoying their trippy state quite thoroughly. But I am not the first person to recognize that this plot was ripped off of a first season Star Trek: TNG episode which was, in turn, “inspired” by an original Star Trek episode. And this isn’t even on the list of episode tropes every SF show does at least once.

I feel like this episode started a bunch of sentences it never completed. It raised questions, gave half-assed promises to answer them, then wandered off. What kind of crap is that?

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I DO NOT WANT to ever, ever see Sierra being raped again. Or really anyone else.

Watch “Echoes”, courtesy of Hulu, and tell me I’m not right. (I so am.)


Star Trek: TNG, Humorously Edited

A few weeks ago a friend of mine pointed me to the YouTube channel of Jan Van Den Hemel and Andrew Hussie of Knowing I was a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, she figured I would appreciate their series of remixed TNG episodes. I watched the first and thought, “That was cute,” then watched the second and was equal parts horrified and highly amused. I’ve spent many a day laughing so hard I nearly broke something in my gut over these videos, and now it’s time I shared them with you all.

So far there are 20 remixed episodes, none longer than 2 minutes, most around a minute and a half. For #10 you may need to sign in to YouTube as it contains “adult content”. It’s worth it, because it’s one of the funniest in the series. I’m also quite fond of #4: “Uneventful Day”, #2: “beard on beard”, #7: “A fistful of Rikers”, and #13: “Was machst du, Data?”

Visit the site to view them all.


Legend of the Seeker: Prophecy/Destiny

A first impression, and a look into the ideal novel-to-screen transition of Terry Goodkind’s Legend of the Seeker, by Seth Golden. “Kahlan Amnell has short hair because wigs are expensive. When she touches people, they start killing other people and she falls on the ground, helpless.”


Battlestar Galactica: The End

Open thread. Talk about the series finale here. Loved it? Hated it? Wish it meant another few years? Have at.

Spoilers? Yes, absolutely. Fights? Only if they’re polite.


Opposing Viewpoints: Dollhouse

Why I’m Excited About Dollhouse — Samantha Chapman

The murky moral ground and potential for stories involving wildly different ends of the legal spectrum are what excite me the most about the premise of Dollhouse. It’s easy to think of situations where renting a Doll would be ethically repugnant, but what if you rented one to be your counselor, someone to spill all your secrets to as therapy who will never remember? What if you rented a Doll to infiltrate a crime ring, needing someone untraceable, who can’t be found later for retaliation? The variety is endless, and I trust Joss to come up with as many situations and storylines as he needs to keep the show fresh and lively.

Why I’m Not Excited about Dollhouse — Genevieve Valentine

Long story short: Dollhouse offers nothing worth being excited about.

Long story: While it’s a chance for staff writers to play with their pet genres (Spies! Geishas! Hackers! Chefs!), there are so many problems that not even forgettable plots or Shakespeare quotes from that programming nerd trying not to be like any of Whedon’s other programming nerds can distract from them.

And sure, it’s a pilot, but it’s Joss’s reshot pilot; that these problems remain after a second pass does not inspire confidence.

Which side are you on?


Rewatch: The Prisoner — Episode 11: A Change of Mind

No. 6 is taken to task for his “unmutualism” and ostracized by his fellow Villagers.

Obviously, this episode strikes a blow against conformity and encourages individuality, which is a common theme for the entire series.