Geekgasm

Jul. 28th, 2007 12:35 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Several coolish movie things:

Hot on the heels of the probably-very-good casting of Zachary 'Sylar' Quinto as the young Spock comes this simple but pleasingly retro poster for the new Trek prequel film.

A slightly naff yet iconic poster for the new Indiana Jones film. But more interesting still is the news that Karen Allen will be reprising her role as Marian Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A nice new image of the Joker from Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight plus a pretty nifty teaser trailer (more audio than video, but good nonetheless).

A stunningly visual trailer for the Neil Gaiman / Roger Avary penned Beowulf film with CGI that you'd be hard pressed to tell apart from real actors for most of its length. I still want to see the characters do some real face acting before I'm convinced.

Lastly some interesting casting for Watchmen.

Oh, and as a bonus I'm throwing this one in just because I can't tell how crap it'll be: a trailer for The Last Legion a film that seems to mix the end of the Roman Empire and the legend of King Arthur with such certainty you'd think it was actually telling real history. Could be just as bad as the recent King Arthur but you never know.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Batman)
There's an interesting interview with Heroes creator Tim Kring over at Comic Book Resources, with spoilers for the entire first season. Having been spoilerphobic during the season I can now relax and indulge in some background reading. Part 2 is particularly good, with info about the writing process, the structure of Season 2, and the Heroes: Origins spin-off.

Part 1 & Part 2.

Spoiler-free quotes below.

"The biggest was we learned how not to be precious with information, with answers. We learned that no answer is so precious that we can't tell you what it is. I think people really expect on a show like this to learn what's happening and what the secrets are. Secrets, if you wait to long, are ultimately going to disappoint the audience. If you wait a year and a half for an answer, no matter what you tell your audience it will disappoint them because it just can't be a good enough answer. So, you learn to give answers at a frequent rate."

(This would be the anti-Lost approach to making television, then.)

Season 2:

"Volume two... ...in no way has to be an entire season and it won't be. The idea now is to tell volume two in a much shorter amount of time so that we are not dragging so much story behind us 20 episodes into the show... ... what we're doing is wrapping these stories up in shorter arcs so that you can hop on the train as a new viewer along the way."

Origins:

"Right now it's six episodes, they are stand alone episodes that have a kind of, for lack of a better way of describing it, a Rod Serling quality to them... ...we're very conscientious about the brand and trying not to harm it and trying not to diminish or take away anything from the mother ship of "Heroes" because everything is sort of begat from there. So, the second this feels like it's doing any sort of damage, we'll cut our losses."

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Having no internet did at least allow us to catch up on some TV. We just watched an episode of Bones which featured not only Bill S. Preston Esq. as a sleazy porn magnate but also Stephen Fry, playing himself a psychiatrist. An English psychiatrist with a fondness for tea and esoteric trivia. Very entertaining, although as a TV show it does feel like an extremely friendly but not particularly bright puppy.

The second season of Rome is well underway, and is following the pattern of the first very closely, in that the episodes written by Bruno Heller are character-driven and interesting, and the others... not so much. However they do fling in random sex and violence in the hope of keeping your attention until the next good episode. Overall the good bits more or less outweigh the bad, even if it's not quite the show it could have been. As a depiction of Ancient Rome in all its squalor and nobility it's probably a good deal more true to the essence of the era than Richard Burton in a toga.

Heroes continues to dazzle with its momentum, although I occasionally have that second-season Twin Peaks feeling that some characters have outlived their storyline and are casting about for a new one. At times like these I suspect that the writers are not so much planning ahead as frantically paying out train track ahead of the locomotive. Nevertheless there's a general feeling that they know where the season is going to end up; certainly the first half of the season made overall sense even if the finer details were a bit blurry. I remain optimistic for the rest of the season. An extremely entertaining series. (I think I'm right entirely wrong in saying that Heroes started last night on the UK Sci-Fi Channel. [livejournal.com profile] fba notes that it starts next week with a double episode.)

Veronica Mars has so far impressed me greatly this year, striking just the right balance between the complexity of a story arc and the accessibility of weekly storylines. It also keeps the momentum going without sacrificing each episode's individuality. The writers of Battlestar Galactica could learn a trick or two here. There've been a couple of clunkers, sadly, but overall the classic Mars spark is definitely present and I'm enjoying it more than Season 2. The worst I can say is that the supporting characters go AWOL so often that they've given up trying to explain their absence.

Spurred into action by a combination of [livejournal.com profile] coalescent and a £15 Amazon deal, I've started watching season 1 of Life on Mars for the first time. Three episodes in and I'm enjoying it a lot. It's an odd mixture of 95% crime show and 5% SF, but somehow it works. At times it reminds me peculiarly of Quantum Leap: on one level it's an absolutely straightforward (even lightweight) pastiche of a 70's crime show, but at the same time the time travel conceit adds a post-modern distance. Like Quantum Leap, the often nominal SF elements give you permission to enjoy the drama, and the show is able to highlight and exaggerate the differences between 1973 and the modern world. The constant hints that Sam may or may not be in a coma are becoming slightly wearing already, but again they add a level to the series and the central character that's definitely interesting. Episode three managed to milk the ambiguity quite nicely for some fairly obvious metaphor in which the struggles in the past are a means to keep Sam fighting in the present. It's hard to see, even at this early stage, how they can possibly resolve the ambiguity of the premise in any way which is satisfying. My preferred ending at the moment would be for both versions of reality to be true; Sam really is in a coma, but he's somehow back in time as well, and having a verifiable impact on history. Alternatively they can leave things open, a technique I often enjoy but suspect might be simply infuriating here. Either way, I'm pleased that the second season is the last as it prevents the writers from having to string out the premise too far.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Scrubs has done a musical episode. Which looks fun, though I haven't seen it yet. I haven't watched a lot of Scrubs but Janet's been catching some repeats recently and it's always amiable and often very funny. The creator's interviewed about the musical episode here and does namecheck Buffy's musical.

In a strange Mutant Enemy juxtaposition, Amy Acker is to be Nathan Fillion's missing wife in Drive. They've currently ordered 12 episodes on top of the now re-cast pilot, making 13 episodes in total. For a Tim Minear series. I think we can all see where this is heading.

Heroes has been renewed for a second season. By the end of the first season we'll know whether the show can possibly continue spitting out plot at a rate that would make most other shows tremble. I really hope it can: it'd be a shame to see a Lost-style consolidation into jealously hoarding a meagre store of ideas; one of Heroes' more compelling elements is its page-turning cliffhangers. It starts on the UK Sci-Fi Channel next month and BBC2 has it at some point after that.

Battlestar Galactica in 'may upset its fans' shock. No surprise there, you may imagine, but it does seem to involve a significant turn of events (general spoileryness in the link). Hopefully this will be one that's integrated into the storyline a little better than most of the series' recent games of character pinball.

Torchwood was apparently a ratings success after all. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, its BBC3 ratings fell by two-thirds but remained high for the channel, and the BBC2 ones fared a little better. In total it ranged from about 6.6 to 4 million. Still, it's hard to see what it was about the show that actually warranted the attention of 4 million people. (My review of the finale *cough*shamelessplug*cough*.)

EDIT: Veronica Mars' shorter-than-hoped third season will end on five standalone episodes instead of a final arc. Not only that, but the final five episodes will air after an eight week break. No decision has been made about a fourth season yet, but reading between the lines I do wonder if that isn't the distant whiff of cancellation in the air. I really, really hope not. VM is a strong contender for my favourite show at the moment.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Heroes has been nominated for Golden Globe in the BEST TELEVISION SERIES - DRAMA category along with 24 and Lost. I hope it wins, and that's not just because I'm no longer watching 24 and Lost. (Non-genre contenders are Grey's Anatomy and Big Love.)

Sadly Veronica Mars is nowhere to be seen, and perhaps surprisingly neither is the higher profile Studio 60, although Sarah Paulson gets a deserved nod in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION WHICH AIRS ON A MONDAY EVENING AND GETS MIDDLING REVIEWS. I'm also pleased to see a drama nomination for Hugh Laurie who deserves to win something for House before it inevitably jumps the shark, and for Kiefer Sutherland (hey, I'm no longer watching but Kiefer gives good angst). And in the mini-series category clearly Masi Oka should win for playing Hiro Nakamura. I mean, why not just give it to him now and get it over with? Between him and Jeremy Irons I know who I'd pick.

Meanwhile the Writer's Guild Awards spurn Heroes in favour of a Deadwood nomination, which I have to say is fine by me, too, especially since they give a nod to Heroes in the Best New Series category. A certain Studio 60 also finally gets recognised, and for best episodic drama we have quite a line up including Election Day, Part II (The West Wing), Occupation/Precipice (Battlestar Galactica), Two for the Road (Lost), and Pilot (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

And, buried right at the end, is something at last for Veronica Mars. A nomination in the "Best on-air promotion category". Seriously. It's both welcome and depressing at the same time.

EDIT: LJ have tarted up their Update Journal page. Shiny.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Studio 60 near cancellation. Sorkin's frustratingly misfiring series is seeing a massive ratings drop-off from Heroes, and looks to be not long for this world. As the article says: "There's nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles." Disappointing, but true.

Spoilers for Heroes Episodes 1 to 5 )

Speaking of Wonderfalls, showrunner Tim Minear's new series Drive has the greenlight for 13 episodes (12 plus the already filmed pilot). Given Minear's track record with Firefly, Wonderfalls and The Inside I doubt that anyone would be taking bets on this show outlasting 13 episodes. I can't say that the premise of Drive - an illegal cross-country road race focusing on an ensemble cast of characters - fills me with excitement; it comes off sounding like a cross between Cannonball Run and Lost. However Minear has a great eye for characterisation and a sharp genre sensibility, and I can see the potential for the show to subvert its premise in interesting ways. Mention of the excellent David Fincher movie The Game bodes well in that respect.

Spoilers for Torchwood Episode 3 )

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