Kings – s01e04 – 2009.03.29 – First Night

kings-logoWhile he’s set up as a vilain, Prince Jack could become one of this show’s most interesting characters. This episode was light on political intrigue, but did a lot to expand Jack’s character. The peek inside his world helped to expand the setting of the show.

I’m impressed with a network show being brave enough to deal with a gay character so prominently. It’s nice to see the complicated situation of him being a public figure yet completely closeted. And the violence at the club showed his frustration andbottled up rage needing an outlet well.

And King Silas’s smaller plot-line about his bastard son and mistress was compelling. As we watch him struggle with new difficulties and make sacrifices to keep his kingtom together it’s continually hinted that he will fall as king. David Shepherd was set up as the main character in the premiere. But Silas and Jack were certainly more central in this episode.

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Michael Clayton

michael-clayton-truth1Great performances, great script, well directed, but best picture? I’m not so sure.

Tom Wilkinson stole the show with his great performance as a disturbed corporate attorney. Clooney was very good. But maybe Wilkinson’s character would have been more interesting to follow.

Tilda Swinton was good, but her part didn’t give her all that much to do. She had some heavy moments, but not a lot to connect them up and give them more weight. She did the equivalent of a good performance in a dark and moody music video. So it’s no fault of her own that her role wasn’t meatier.

Scene by scene the film is very well scripted. But the ending wasn’t entirely satisfying. We hear about the things Michael Clayton can cover up, but we don’t really get to see it. The one glimpse we get of him doing so he just passes off to another attourney, already too far down his own dramatic road to let the audience catch up with him. If we had started earlier in his personal arc we could have seen this dramatic motion more.

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The Punisher: War Zone

punisher-logo2I’m probably the only person who will say that “The Punisher: War Zone reminded me of Coleson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist.”

But it did.

The reason is that both of them made me think that if I had been 12 years old when I discovered them I would have enjoyed them much more.

Punisher: War Zone deserves some credit for being faithful to the comics. It manages to do so on the surface at least. It has plenty of gore, and the characters’ stories aren’t terribly bastardized. But maybe it’s most faithful to the mediocre issues. There was something of the charm and subtelty of the better comics that was missing.

If I were 12 I would have been entertained by all the makeup effects to show horrific deaths. None of them have the impact of more subtle screen deaths, or even nearly as splashy ones in Robocop. That’s because each one is shown and then forgotten about. There isn’t any real anticipation or consequence.

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Colbert Report – 2009.04.06

colbert_100x100Johnny Carson didn’t die. He just changed his name to Tom Brokaw.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it would be interesting to see Brokaw take over The Tonight Show once he moves into the next phase of his career. He’s always shown that sly charm that would work very well in that setting. I know some of that is what’s been required due to falling ratings in network news. But he takes to it like a natural.

And you might wonder why I’m not suggesting Mr. Colbert for the job insted. I like him right where he is for now. And when Stephen does move on from this show I hope he will change to a new character. I’m sure it’s fun now, but it would be sad to spend an entire career in a role like this, even if it is a wonderfully well crafted and nuanced one.

Colbert Report – 2009.04.02

colbert_100x100This was another solid episode. But there wasn’t much to make it stand out.

Stephen shows again that he has become very comfortable and natural in his character and can just “live” in this role. But maybe it’s become too comfortable for him.

His repartee with the founder of Twitter was great. He kept it at just the right level of taunting. And pulling out his phone to twitter while the guy was talking, then asking “Oh, I’m sorry. Is this rude?” was the highlight of the show.

Daily Show – 2009.04.02

80x100fpoThis was a decent episode.

John Oliver’s bit in the beginning about the origins of decorum with regard to the Queen of England was great. Of course he needs a monocle over his glasses. The glasses are just part of who he is. The monocle is costume on top of that. It’s perfectly logical.

And Wyatt Synac’s bit following it was solid as well.

The guest, Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium, was an average guest. He wasn’t uber-exciting, but he also didn’t get scared by Jon, clam up, or try too hard and make terrible jokes.

24 (twentyfour) Day 7: 12:00 AM – 1:00 AM

24-keifer-sutherland-photoA kinder gentler 24.

At least that’s what it feels like. This episode features no torture at all. Sure, a guy gets bludgeoned to death and tossed off a balcony. But for an entire 60 minutes to pass in the life of Jack Bauer without him toruring someone or one of his friends getting tortured, this is really stunning.

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Star Trek Crew – 01

st-crew-1-001It just so happened that I read the first two issues of this series in backwards order. But luckily it’s episodic enough that it isn’t a problem. For anyone thinking of jumping into this series late, have no fear. It should be easy to pick up anywhere.

This issue gives you a peek at the Enterprise before it was officially put into service. It’s prior to even Captain Pike, for you Trek fans who are in the know enough to wonder.

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Do a pig a favour! Ban vegetarianism now! – by Giles Coren

untitled1A friend posted a link to the article with this outlandish title. It’s a fun read. He makes a few interesting points about the psychological motivation for some people to become vegetarians. He does not acknowledge that it may not the be the motivations for everyone to become vegetarian.

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Star Trek Crew – 02

star-trek-crew-2-001I picked this up and read it without having seen issue #1. It worked fine that way. The situation was clear and the story didn’t feel like a fragment I was coming into the middle of.

While I’ve been dissapointed by John Byrne’s reduced effort in his artwork, this book seems to have just a bit of his passion restored. It’s still not drawn with the love that you see in his old Fantastic Four comics. But that was decades ago.

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – s02e20 – To The Lighthouse

sarah-connor1summer20glau20firefly20terminatorAfter two multi-episode story arcs we are dealing with consequences now.

Sarah is trying to get John away from Cameron and/or Derek. Everyone seems to know some fragment of everyone else’s secrets. And there is plenty withheld and building mistrust.

For the most part this feels like a bridge episode between two larger story arcs. But there are still a few important things that happen.

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The Intuitionist – pg135-end

Having now finished this book and discussed it with my book group, I still have mixed feelings about it.

I feel I should be merciful since it’s a first novel, but maybe his next one should have been published as his “first.” The main character is a rather thin shell for Whitehead to show us his world and to manifest his examples of how he sees society. To be fair she develops a bit of character by the end of the book. But it’s still not much.

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Red Mars – pg1-280

This book reminds me that classic sci-fi often forgot the science. Then the reaction of hard SF got the science right but forgot the fiction part of it all.

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The Intuitionist – pg1-135

At this point I’m still trying to get a feel for this book.

After some clear grammar errors and a bit of political soap boxing it seems to be composing itself in the standard detective/conspiracy model of Chinatown and the like.

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