Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Avoiding Twilight (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Spoilers

Since Buffy Season 8 was announced I was excited. I craved new stories featuring the characters I'd had fun getting to know and couldn't wait. As it turned out, the books were not only amazing but had great interaction, action, and twists that built on what we already knew.

When Twilight was introduced, I just thought he was another big bad. I didn't think much of it. And then whedonesque.com started posting spoiler alerts that Twilight's identity had been revealed. I thought it might have been a joke or a red herring but I didn't want to click anyway. Then came the articles interviewing the writers about the accidental review.

I didn't click on the articles but the spoiler free description said the reveal was on the solicitation for Buffy the Vampire Slayer #32 and had the mask half off. I saw the cover (I get Previews every month) and saw the face. It could still be anyone. I don't know who people think that is but all I get from the cover is 'white dude.'

Personally, and if this turns out to be correct it could be a spoiler, I still think it's Ethan Rayne. He was never evil in the big bad way but he's powerful in his own way but not powerful enough to take on an army of slayers which would explain why he's assembled Buffy's surviving rogues gallery.

Incidentally, while we're on the subject of Buffy and her rogues. What's up with Harmony being in the Buffy books? No way she got out of Los Angeles before it went to hell. She takes off about a half hour before Angel bitch slaps a dragon (or befriends it, whatever).

Anyway, that's my take on the spoiler articles about the reveal. Hopefully the people who think they know the identity will be surprised when the issue drops. I'll be watching the board AFTER I read the book.

One down, loads to go.

Heroes - what the hell happened?

It used to be a good show.

Season one – pretty good. Season two – pretty good. Season Three – aaaaaahhhhh!!! What the hell happened?

Season Four…started out well and has ended up a confusing, jumbled, incomprehensible mess of a show.

Season Four started the same way Season One did. Character-driven, self-contained stories that promised bigger things to come but still started at a comfortable pace and didn’t over or under promise anything.

I don’t know where, but somewhere this season I got frustrated with the storylines. It could have been the ‘Sylar is inside me’ crap from Parkman (I don’t think his power includes absorbing someone’s soul), the ‘I spent an entire episode getting a power to cure Hiro but once he disappeared, life went on’ (Peter had the power to save Hiro and instead of agonizing about absorbing another power or trying to find him, Peter just moved on), or it could be the ‘I’m super-powerful and I’m creating a place for people like me but I’m so self-conscious that I need to kidnap the girl of my dreams’ (Seriously, the big bad this season was a character you could sympathize with because he thought he was doing the right thing – but when he kidnaps the girl he becomes a standard, two dimensional bad guy). As far as the girl he kidnaps, she’s resistant then seems to dig him but ultimately rejects him so he levels a town.

Heroes has a habit of letting us get to know a character, getting us interested, and then suddenly, ridiculously killing that character.

Elle was a great character, someone raised opposite of Claire. At first these two are enemies and then they find some equal ground. There was that great episode where Elle’s power is acting up and Claire used her power to heal quickly to discharge Elle’s electrical build up through her. There was a friendship there that I was looking forward to seeing explored.

Daphne was the super-speed thief who had a friendly rivalry with Hiro early in the third season. She quickly went from super-speed thief to one of the most interesting characters when she and Matt started dating. We knew from the first season that Matt was a good guy who was wrestling with controlling his gift and discovered that his wife had been cheating on him and had been for a long time. He couldn’t keep from read his wife’s mind and hearing the vile things she thought of him. We watched as Matt tried to win her back but they didn’t stay together.

Daphne seemed to be Matt’s reward for enduring all of that. She was a wounded character herself. We discover that without her power, she was disabled and could hardly walk. Then she dies during one of the most contrived, confusing, boring, frustrating story-arcs I’ve ever sat through. Then Matt discovers his wife had his kid and they decide to get back together. It sucks watching Matt and his wife trying to live a normal life when I remember what she did to him in the first season.

I can go on but Elle and Daphne are enough to make my point – and my point is this: look for Emma to die pretty soon.

Emma is a new character and watching her power develop and the interactions with Peter have been the highlight of the season. Or it was until Samuel came to visit, Angela saw a future in which she kills thousands, and Peter smashed her cello. This character is now alienated from Peter and swayed to Samuel’s side. Oh, and the episode where she’s watching Hiro do a magic show in the hospital and he shows her what his power can do was a great moment.

Oh, and to the writers: If you have Hiro half dead and laying in a hospital in one episode while people are looking for a way to cure him and he up and vanishes and then runs around for ten episodes, we don’t think the problem is urgent anymore. At first I thought there was a real chance that he was dying and now I know he’s not going to. Whenever they mention that he’s dying, it doesn’t worry me at all. The tumor is supposed to be threatening but so far it’s only led to nosebleeds and talking in comic-book gibberish (that we aren’t sure is the tumor or as a result of whatever Samuel’s goon did to Hiro’s mind). Plus we saw a super-cool, confident Hiro jump back and talk to Peter in the first season and Hiro’s never been super-cool or confident yet so of course he survives (something Peter should have known when Hiro came to him dying from a tumor). And I didn’t need the special cameos from David Anders or George Takai at the ‘trial’ for Hiro’s life. Boring.

Okay – let’s talk about time travel, the most over-used, under-utilized plot device on the show. I know ‘over-used, under-utilized’ doesn’t make much sense so let me explain. Every season we’ve been treated/tortured to/over a future that’s terrible – where friend has turned on friend or an apocalypse ravages the city. Every future has been averted so every time there is a ‘future’ shown on the show, I’m not threatened by it. That’s how it’s over-used.

How it’s under-utilized, is easy: Hiro can go back and forth through time. It’s the most useful power on the entire show. A good example is when Samuel has Charlie time-jacked and hides her ‘somewhere in time’ until Hiro does his bidding. Hiro is supposed to kill Suresh but fakes his death and stows him in an insane asylum. I think, why couldn’t Hiro time-jack Samuel and stick him somewhere uncomfortable – like an ice field at the North Pole and then jump forward in time 24 hours and see if Samuel’s ready to talk. If he isn’t, jump another 24 hours in the future and see if he’s ready to talk then. Repeat until Samuel tells him. For Hiro, this would take minutes, for Samuel it would take days. Or how about you go back into the past, before Samuel gives the order to grab Charlie and teleport him to the North Pole? Hiro can even teleport to the past and take Sylar out before he becomes a threat.

Oh – and Charlie’s another interesting character killed for no reason. I know some of you will say it was to impact Hiro but really, how much has it changed or affected him. He’s back to being a careless goofball.

We get too few really worthwhile payoffs from the stories and the more the writers use the characters, the less we know about them – is Peter, Nathan, Sylar, Claire, Matt, HRG, the Haitian, Nikki, or Tracey good or evil this week?

So why watch? It’s all-new writers this season so I’m trying to give them a chance to show me what they can do with the characters, realizing that the last bunch so horribly mismanaged them that I might not return to a new story-arc much less another season. And I want so badly to see a super-hero show that’s not based on a Marvel or DC character be interesting and generate excitement for the genre like the first two seasons did.

Maybe the writers should steer away from story-arcs and concentrate on making the characters interesting again, otherwise we won’t be interested in seeing them do anything.

Wasn't Ando's power to boost other people's powers. When did it change to electricity blasts? And didn't his power manifest as red lightning?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Jay Leno Show moving?

There’s a rumor that NBC is pulling the plug on The Jay Leno Show or that they’re going to push it back 11:35pm again. The reason isn’t low ratings (even though the show is getting low ratings, it’s still cheap to produce so the network is making money), it’s because the show is a poor lead-in to the news.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m reading all of my news nowadays. Signonsandiego.com and cnn.com are places I visit every day. And for things that they tease on the news (i.e. “Coming up, see why Britney Spears is in prison this evening”), I go right to the internet and look it up. I don’t wait for the news.

I don’t know if you guys had the same experience with news as I have, but I remember a time when they would tease things coming up on the news and I would watch it. But instead of starting with the story they teased, every time they’d go to commercial, they would tease the story again as “coming up” until they’d play that story last. That used to drive me nuts. I had to watch the entire program to see the piece I’d wanted to see.

Not anymore – news is when I want it, whenever I want it (at least until they start charging for access).

For me, Jay Leno coming on at 10pm was good news. I love watching that opening monologue before going to bed (I have to get up at 5:30am) and I missed watching Leno. And now he’s not only on at a time when I can see him but his show is such an unpredictable mix of comedy, sketches, and interviews that I can’t wait to see it every night. Not only is Ross the Intern back but Leno gets regular contributions from Adam Carolla, a lot of great comedians, and the always hilarious JMZ segments. Plus he’s got celebs doing the green car challenge which is a great way to get advertising dollars but have celebs competing against each other. And he has 10 questions with a celeb which is always fun to watch and the ‘earn your plug’ segment where we get to see that celebrity do something we’ve never seen them do. Whenever he has a musical performer on, the show isn’t over right after they perform, Leno actually gets to interview that person and then the show is over.

I like the unpredictable mix, the easygoing pace, and the new things he’s doing. Here is an outline for every other late night show on the planet: Opening monologue, comedic sketch/bit, interview guest A, interview guest B, musical performance, roll credits. Entertainment Weekly said The Jay Leno Show would break the mold and it did. I hope that it doesn’t get chopped down to a half hour and moved to a time when I can’t watch it.

The news is going to continue to pull in poor ratings when it’s so abundant on demand. And modern TV defies ratings. You can’t count on ratings to define viewership since you have VCRs, DVRs, and the internet (and NO not like the always buffering hulu.com or the network websites themselves, I’m talking about going to limewire or bearshare and downloading the divx file someone made with their DVR so that you can watch it buffer free). If ratings were any indication of the success of a show you’d never have the enormous success of that show on DVD (Firefly, Chuck, etc.). Firefly’s DVD success (after only having 10 episodes ever air on network television) led to a movie that not only made money for the studio, but also enjoyed overwhelming success on DVD.

Is there anyone else like me? Someone who is working full time and going to school full time, who can’t be counted on to watch any show every week? I don’t have a VCR or a DVR but I have a DVD and Blu Ray player (PS3 counts) so I crush out an entire season of something in about a month in my spare time. The shows that I love I don’t watch on TV. I wait until they go to DVD and I buy the season. On the weekends, if I have time, I might catch some shows that don’t go to DVD – The Real World (or the Real World/Road Rules challenge), Dog the Bounty Hunter, whatever World’s Greatest (whether it’s ‘Police Chases’ or ‘Disasters Caught on Camera) is playing on Real TV. Right now I’m watching Legend of the Seeker – it’s the first time I’ve seen the show – no idea what’s going on.

Anyway, I know the plan is to push Leno back because of the Olympics (which is normal for the Olympic broadcast) but the rumor is that once the Olympics are over, keep Leno at that time. I hope that it doesn’t happen so I can keep enjoying the show.

"As you may have heard, there's a rumor floating around that we were canceled. ... I heard it coming in this morning on the radio," Leno said. "So far, nobody's said anything to me, but if we did get canceled, it'd give us time to maybe do some traveling. In fact, I understand Fox is beautiful this time of year."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Willow One-Shot (or Tara vs Kennedy)

Joss Whedon and Karl Moline back together. I’m glad that Joss is working with his Fray partner on a non-Fray project. I hope that the two of them will do more together. I kind of wish Karl Moline were working on Angel over at IDW (I don’t hate the artist they have, I just like Moline’s likenesses better).

SPOILER ALERT: I’m about to screw this up for you if you haven’t read the issue.

The title is the untold story of Willow’s journey to find someone to guide her in the use of abundant power. In the story Willow meets some guides who tell her that she already has a guide in mind.

I was going – “Who does she have in mind?” I turn the page and there she is: Tara.

I don’t know about you, but I was as happy as Willow seemed to be (of course Willow refused her as a guide).

It got me thinking. I watched season seven, I eagerly read each new issue of season eight, and I know that Willow is with Kennedy now. Still, I always think of Willow and Tara as a unit.

It turns out I’m not the only one. Most of fandom feels the same way about Tara.

For me, I got to know Tara for almost three seasons. I met her family, saw her through good times and bad with Willow, watched her take care of Dawn, saw what Glory did to her, and watched her die in Willow’s arms. By the time Tara died, I loved the character.

Kennedy came to us as a Potential. Her character had to compete with a bunch of new faces to get our attention. In season seven, Willow was healing from Tara’s death and almost destroying the world with her grief and rage. As fans, Willow’s continuing sense of loss echoes our own sense of loss.

The only thing Kennedy does of value in the relationship in season seven is talk Willow down when a spell makes her take on Andrew’s attitude and actions (the same ones that led to Tara’s death).

But, for the most part, Willow comes to the relationship with Kennedy after her addiction to magic, after she’s helped save the world more than once, and when she’s more secure with who she is and her position as a Scooby. And Kennedy brought no visible baggage. She is the no-nonsense, tough, loving Potential who (along with the rest) became a Slayer. Kennedy never suffered from a lack of confidence or a traumatic back story.

On a personal note – having met the actresses that play Tara and Kennedy I like the characters a lot more.

Still, I prefer Tara.

That said, I understand how Kennedy is a more appropriate girlfriend for Willow right now.

I think that when Willow’s power was weak and she was still unsure of herself, Tara was perfect for her. Tara herself was not only insecure but her power synched and boosted Willow’s power. During Willow’s addict behavior, Tara was there for Willow as much as she could. Do you really think Kennedy would have put up with that – she’d be gone for good at the end of Tabula Rasa. Tara never gave up on Willow.

At the beginning of season seven, Willow’s power is massive but she’s gotten the best training and she’s no longer an addict and no longer a mass of rage and grief. Willow is a whole person. In that way, she’s perfect for Kennedy who, herself, is a whole person. I’m just saying that Willow couldn’t have dated Kennedy first then ended up with someone like Tara when the smoke cleared.

Still, I prefer Tara (did I already say that?).

I guess my Tara-lock mostly comes from Kennedy not being in most issues and when she is, she doesn’t really add to the story. She mostly appears to remind us that she’s still with Willow and Willow’s brought her up a few times to make the same connection for us.

But that’s just my take. You’re reason for liking Tara over Kennedy or Kennedy over Tara is probably different.

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Instant Drive-Thru

In everyone’s life a little rain must fall. But on January 2nd, one of the neighbors got a torrential downpour.

I came home from a comic run to find this:

I wasn’t there when it happened but I do know two things: 1) the car belonged to the same person the apartment belonged to and 2) there was a bar mitzvah there earlier.

Do #1 & #2 combine to make this a new kind of party? A CAR MITZVAH?

………I don’t like the silence. It’s not funny – I get it….let’s move on.

So I hear the owner of the car on his cell phone with someone telling them his car insurance will pay for the damage to the car and the apartment. The police didn’t haul anyone off so it was just an accident and the insurance probably will pay. But this family still has to live in a place where the manager has told them they need to stay out of that room and have cut the electricity to that room.

Still, since they own the car and it went into their apartment, it’s their problem. At least they didn’t inflict that on someone else or have it inflicted on them.

No one got hurt and that’s what matters.

I know taking pictures of the car sticking out of the apartment was not in great taste but since everyone else was out there snapping I decided to take a few too. After all, if someone puts a car into someone’s bedroom, it’s entertainment for the entire complex. We all gathered around and some filmed the tow truck pull the car out of the wall.

It didn’t hit anything load bearing and they threw up a few sheets of plywood to cover the hold. The amazing thing was that the meshing and plaster held up so well that once the car was pulled out, there wasn’t a large hole there.

Just a bad way to start the new year, unless it was someone’s resolution to renovate their apartment and get their car repainted and this was their idea to work smarter and not harder.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome to the Geek Fest

This is just a random blog where I’ll talk about anything that I enjoy (mostly comics, sci-fi, and conventions) and share things I see. This is just a place for me to celebrate/rant the things I enjoy/despise.

I’m a full-time student who is between semesters. I work with dolphins and sea lions (mostly on their records and lab work but I do take blood from them from time to time) so I might comment on things that are related. I’m doing a novel writing course with the Long Ridge Writer’s Group and I’m on chapter three of my novel.

I don’t get many single comic books anymore, I mostly get trade paperbacks so I’m not current on a lot of storylines. The only book I read immediately after getting is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course I grab the odd title that catches my eye (Fantastic Four #574 had Spidey on the cover and I love me some Torch/Spidey banter) but trade paperbacks give me a complete story. I don’t have the attention span to remember what’s going on in every title I enjoy every month so I take the stories in large chunks.

And the trade paperbacks are a great way to get in on titles that everyone is talking about. I was getting (I think) Marvel Team-Up and Robert Kirkman had Invincible guest star with Spider-Man. I enjoyed the issue and the character and bought The Invincible Ultimate Collection. It was a great way to try the title and I have all the Ultimate Collections now. I did that with Walking Dead and Hack/Slash too.

I have an Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 because I love video games but I’ve been completely taken with World of Warcraft so those subjects may come up (A LOT).

Also, I’m a Joss Whedon freak. Expect that to come up…often.

I also dabble in Marvel Universe and GI Joe figures. I guess you can say that I touch every corner of fandom in some way.

Except anime and manga – don’t understand the appeal. I’ve tried them. I don’t like them. Anime, manga, and I share the planet in a peaceful co-habitation where I leave them alone and they leave me alone.

That’s it. Enjoy. Or hit BACK on the browser. Or print this and read it later. Or email it to all your friends. Or go get some ice cream and ask them to add marshmallows and gummy bears to it. Or get some Chinese food and eat the orange chicken goodness while I steal, open, and enjoy your fortune cookie.