What I’m Watching: Update

Previously, I wrote about some of the nerdy stuff I was excited to be watching in this new television season.  Now that we are several weeks in, I thought I’d touch on some of those shows, and talk about others that have popped up since.

Alphas – Okay, the first season is actually over, and I really enjoyed this show.  The ongoing story is compelling and complex enough to hold my interest, and there is some great character work from these actors (especially once Ryan Cartwright toned down the rainman schtick with Gary).  I’m curious to see where the Red Flag story-line takes us, and if the hints dropped about the team going rogue ever pan out.  And I still think this show is as reasonable a representation of how the government would react to and make use of the presence of “alphas”.  Definitely waiting on Season 2!

Eureka/Warehouse 13 – Both of these have wrapped their season finales as well.  I won’t go into much detail on either one, because, wow spoilers!  Both shows continue to deliver a delicious mix of comedy and drama, delivered in a crunchy sci-fi coating.  And both shows finished really strong this season; I can’t wait to see the new episodes and find out how some of these bombshells get defused (or how big the blast will be).  Do yourself a favour: if you don’t watch these shows, start.  If you do, watch them again!

Torchwood – I really like Torchwood.  The ideas and concepts behind the show, the characters, they all really appeal to me.  Which is what makes this season such a disappointment for me.  I want to describe it with words like “exciting” and “provocative”, but the best I can muster is “weak” and “meh”.  It feels like they took an entire season to wrap up what could have been done in 3-4 episodes.  Then, the season finale “twist” that seemed like a series-serving stunt, could have actually been explored a bit this season.  As it is, I am left feeling blah about the whole thing, a state which I seem to share with many viewers; there is some talk that Torchwood may not come back for another season.  A season ago I would have considered that a shame.

Outcasts – In the end, this show just didn’t do it for me.  I can’t put my finger on any one thing, I just don’t feel invested enough in the story or characters to care what happens next.  Which is weird, because a series featuring a sci-fi dystopian utopia would seem to be firmly in my wheelhouse, if not the very building blocks of said wheelhouse.  But sadly, I don’t think I’m giving Series 2 a try.  I have too much other good sci-fi to watch, I’m afraid.

Okay, so you probably noticed that everything I touched on last time is down for the season.  So do I just go into TV-less hibernation and wait for the coming episode spring?  Heck no!  Have faith in the TV my fellow geeks, and it will always keep you and preserve you.  Here are three I’m watching and loving right now:

Bedlam – One of my favourite new series, Bedlam is a moody, creepy supernatural drama focused around the tenants of Bedlam Heights ( a condo complex converted from the old Bedlam Asylum).  One episode in, and this promises to be a good old-fashioned bump-in-the-night ghost story, told in that special way the British have.  Need an excuse to snuggle closer with your SO? Bedlam is the show you’ve been waiting for.  Extra geek cred if you watch it with the lights off (and yes, you can hold your lightsaber, I certainly had mine).

Supernatural – The seventh season started two episodes ago and let me just say, I don’t think I will ever stop wanting to watch this series.  I am so invested in the characters at this point, I spend each episode dreading the next horrible thing that is going to happen, because you know there is always a next horrible thing.  If you aren’t caught up on the first two episodes I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say: nice fake-out at the end of the premiere, making us think it was all over and really just setting up the plot for the rest of the season.  I went from, “glad he’s okay now but disappointed it was so easy” to “Oh God! It’s never easy! When will I learn, your twisted bastards!” in about ten seconds.

Sanctuary – Okay, this technically hasn’t started yet; Season Four premieres on Space this Friday.  But I am really excited for it to start again for a number of reasons.  One, the acting on the show is top-notch, and I’ve been missing these characters. Two, Helen Magnus is stuck back in time chasing a psychopath, and that is just cool! (Yes, yes, I know. I hate time-travel in Star Trek and love it in other shows. I’m a complex guy. Bite me.)  And three, this season seems to focus on something I think has been building throughout the series: what happens when the world finds out about abnormals, and more than that, that they have been hidden from them?  This promises to be a delicious, meaty season, and I intend to eat my fill!

(Dis)Honourable MentionsCastle is still a lot of fun this year, with some tension and drama stirred in nicely.  Ringer is a miss, which is sad because I really wanted to see Sarah Michelle Gellar on screen again. But even two of her can’t save these scripts.  Unforgettable is a meh-level police procedural, with an as-yet-to-be-rendered-interesting special ability thrown into the mix; watch Prime Suspect for a better police procedural with more character/plot complexity (though not much more, so far).

Okay, that’s my time!  You folks have been great, and don’t forget to fill out the Comments below if you agree/disagree with anything I’ve said.  Discuss, people, discuss!

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Geek Nuggets for July 28

I don’t really have a nice, cohesive post for today.  So instead, I’m popping back in here throughout the day to add ideas, observations and amusing anecdotes as they occur to me.  Some might call that lazy blogging…and yeah, they’re probably right.  But feel free to throw your own geeky observations and snippets in the comments below.  Or ask me a question, yeah that’s perfect, then I don’t have to look for things to write about on my own!  Definitely that question thing.  Okay, here goes…

*9:29am – Watched the final two episodes of Fanboy Confessional (I talk about it in a previous post), on furries and LARPing respectively.

The Furry episode: I will admit that my view of furries was tainted by that biased CSI episode of yesteryear.  So I’m really happy to get a more honest look at that aspect of fandom.  Still no interest in it, but I am also no longer afraid of being forcibly yiffed at a con.

The LARPing episode:  I’m familiar with LARPing; I used to participate in vampire LARPs, and tried to get involved with the local Alliance LARP, but schedule and time conspired against me.  Loved the episode overall, and again, they did a great job of giving us equal parts newb and veteran experience, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks.  One thing with which I will take umbrage: At the very beginning of the episode the narrator says, “…role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Bloodbowl…”

What!? *adjusts retainer* *pushes up nerd glasses* \begin nerd rant\ Bloodbowl is not an RPG, sir!  It is a table-top miniatures game.  And while it has elements similar to an RPG, such as character advancement, no REAL role-player would ever consider it a role-playing game! \end nerd rant\ (Note: you need to imagine the retainer lisp for the full effect.)

But with the exception of that little bobble (Bloodbowl an RPG, please!) I have really enjoyed Fanboy Confessional.  I hope they get green-lit for more episodes, because there is a lot more fandom for them to cover!

*11:32am – Can I just say how much I am enjoying Master of Devils, by Dave Gross?  Good, ‘cuz I’m gonna because I am!  Having officially received the first copy in Canada (the author said it so it is true. Science!) for my birthday, I began reading it the next day after I recovered from said birthday.  I am ten chapters in and loving it!  I will post a longer review when I finish, but if you have the chance go buy a copy right now!

It is also a much different reading experience for me when I know the author personally.  Sometimes that can be a bad thing.  But in this case, having known Dave for even the short period that we’ve been hanging out, I find it has enhanced my enjoyment of the book a great deal.  I’ll talk more about that in the extended review as well.

*12:36pm – A funny thing just happened on my walk to Starbucks.  And I mean funny in a “wow people are ignorant” kind of way…

As I’m making my way to my local coffeetorium, I happen to pass an otherwise attractive young woman on the sidewalk, who was just lighting up a cigarette.  I must have allowed some form of disapproval to show on my face (though I’m fairly certain I didn’t), because she felt compelled to defend herself with a witty, “What are you looking at, fatstuff?”.

Normally I would walk on by, because I’m not twelve, I don’t have anything to prove and there was nothing to win by engaging.  But something in me decided today was a Training Day for the ignoratti, because engage I did.  I stopped, smiled, and in a friendly conversational tone replied, “Right now I’m looking at someone who is probably 20 years younger than me who will be dead 20 years sooner than me from lung disease.  And FYI, I used to weigh close to 600 lbs, now I weigh a little over 300lbs.  And I am working to lose the last 100, sometimes failing but succeeding more often every day.  So when you go home tonight and are wheezing because you walked up a flight of stairs to your cigarette-stained apartment, maybe you should ask yourself what you are doing to lose your ignorance.”  And then I turned and walked into Starbucks.

And that girl ended up being the barrista that made my drink.  But my soul felt clean as I drank what I’m fairly certain was a skinny latte with “extra foam”…

*2:21pm – I’ve been catching up on the most recent seasons of Burn Notice, and I have to say I am still loving the show.  It is pretty formulaic, but the writing is clever and the characters are enjoyable, especially the weekly guest stars.  The one stand-out for me is Bruce Campbell’s character Sam Axe.  It has been a treat to watch him play the same character for 4-1/2 seasons, watch him develop and grow the part.  And I’ll admit it, I have a bit of a man-crush on Bruce Campbell.  Heck, Sam Axe is part of the reason I’m leaning towards acquiring some Hawaiian shirts…

*5:34pm – I may be in the minority, but I think it was a mistake to end Stargate Atlantis in favour of Stargate Universe.  I only watched a handful of episodes, but my impression of SGU was that someone really missed Lost and Battlestar Galactica, so they combined it with the SG universe to create a Frankenshow.  In the process, they cut off what was a really great series with excellent characters and stories.  Which was stupid; there was no reason it had to be one show or another.  Given that SGU only made it two seasons, hemorrhaging viewers the entire time, I think SGA could have been left in place.  After all, it worked between SG1 and SGA, right?  That’s my Stargate rant…

*6:28pm – Okay, I think this is the last nugget today.  Are you ready for another funny/scary movie set in England?  Me too! I therefore present to you, Attack the Block.  I can’t wait!

This was fun, I’ll have to try it again some time.  Back to regular blogging tomorrow.

Fanboy Confessional

I’ll be honest, when I first saw Fanboy Confessional commercials pop up on Space, I rolled my eyes.  It looked like yet another show lampooning the more extreme members of our fandom.  But however badly conceived and executed, shows about geeks don’t come around very often.  So I locked it in to the PVR, and expected the worst.

I will admit without reservation that I was wrong.

Having watched four episodes so far (Space airs two half-hour episodes back-to-back) I admit to being truly impressed, both with the respect given to the topics and the obvious enthusiasm towards the subject material.  Narrated by Aaron Ashmore (yes, Jimmy Olsen from Smallville) and directed by Michael McNamara (no stranger to documentaries; you may have heard of 100 Films and a Funeral), each episode focuses on one genre in the greater fan continuum.  In the four episodes I have watched so far, the show has examined cosplay (focused mostly on anime/manga cosplay, but touching on other kinds as well), steampunk, horror fandom and super-heroes/real-life super-heroes.

Each episode follows two or three people or groups, as they go about their geeky lives enjoying whichever fandom is the topic for that episode.  In the case of the cosplay episode, for instance, we are introduced to a group of four friends who are relatively new to anime cosplay as they plan and prepare to attend Anime North; at the same time we meet a few more experienced cosplayers, as well as staff from Anime North responsible for the cosplay contest at the con.  That, in fact, is one of the things that has kept the episodes interesting for me, that range of experience inside each of the genres.  As someone who has been inside fandom for a while, it is good to be reminded that there are always new fans coming up behind you, as well as elder fans cutting the path ahead of you.

But what I love the most about the show is the thing I was wrong about.  None of the episodes I have watched have lampooned or derided anyone.  Obviously it would be very, very easy to grab some footage of “that guy/gal” (and every aspect of fandom has one) and use that to represent all the rest of us. Instead, each episode gives us a broader spectrum of fans, presenting a much more complete picture of the people rocking that genre.  More than that, each episode is skillfully shot to show all the enthusiasm of the fans without making them look like, well, nuts.  And I’m not saying fans are nuts (we are, but I’m not saying that) but you and I know how easy it is for us to appear nuts when shown out of context.  Fanboy Confessional keeps the context clear, and so the fan joy shines through.

I was most surprised by was the Real Life Super Hero episode.  I had heard, of course, about extreme comic book nerds taking to the streets in costume and extracting vigilante justice.  You know, the idiots that at best make comic book nerds look bad, and at worst get themselves/others hurt, or get arrested because they are breaking the law.  Here is a tip, and I know this will come as a shock: you don’t get to break the law just because you are wearing a costume. Sorry.

But the FC episode didn’t talk about those guys, except for one person who mentioned them in order to distance their group from them.  Instead, we were shown a group called “The Skiffytown League of Heroes”, a group of real-life super heroes that perform public services in cities and towns all across the States.  Then the episode focuses in on two members: DC’s Guardian (the city, not the comic company) and Thanatos (A Vancouver-based RLSH ).

Both of these gentlemen work in public, in costume, trying to spread a very positive message.  DC’s Guardian spends his time talking to people about citizenship, making sure people are involved in their government, that they’re voting and generally working to get people involved in their country in a positive way.  Thanatos is equally public-spirited, volunteering his time in one of the poorest, crime-ridden areas of Vancouver.  But instead of doling out vigilante justice, he brings water and energy bars to prostitutes and street people on hot days, and comes back in the evening to bring care-packages to the homeless.  Both of these gentlemen are just open and earnest about connecting with and helping people.  Not only was I impressed with the episode itself, I was blown away by these two heroes and thrilled to know that people like this exist.

If you are a geek I cannot recommend Fanboy Confessional enough.  It is a funny, engaging and reverent look at our collective fandom, and it is well worth your time and mine.  You can catch it Wednesdays on Space, 8pm and 8:30pm (MST).  Or if you can’t wait until next Wednesday you can get a little taste on the Space website.

My name is Brent, and I am a Fanboy.