Posts Tagged ‘television’

I watched all of this miniseries in the past two days. Please don’t judge me. The combination of Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray was more than I could resist. (Ohhh and what a combination…) And it was actually kind of perfect for my cold-muddled brain.

And it may well be that I am biased, but I found this prequel series to be less terrible than the original Spartacus. They were, at least, somewhat less in love with their blood-spray effect, or else finally learned to use it in moderation.

I don’t have a lot to say about the plot or the acting (both were fine), but I did want to talk a little about the world-building. There was a variety of things on that front that I found intriguing.

On the one hand, this is a cable show, and it had the requisite gratuitous and excessive nudity, sexuality, vugarity and violence. On the other hand though, all of those things contributed toward constructing a society with radically different social mores and taboos than ours. Once it got past the shock value, it felt true in a way that the one episode of Spartacus I managed to sit through, with its endless slow motion sprays of blood, never did.

And it’s possible that the thing that felt most true about it, was that not once did any of the characters notice it, or wink at it, or reference it, or judge it. This was their world. And I was very much impressed by that acceptance.

I credit the writers for this. Particularly in the way they treated slavery. That, too, was a fact of life. And the slaves were able to take pride in their accomplishments and in the house that they served. But never once was it glorified. All the horrors of that position, that institution were shown in stark clarity. But that was the amazing thing. It was shown, not told. Never once did anyone whinge about their lack of freedom. There were no endless speeches about “one day I will be free.” And yet, as a viewer, you were always, always aware of the situation.

I just found it interesting to be shown: this is what life is like in the culture we’re depicting. (Never having studied the classics, I couldn’t tell you if it’s actually representative of life in the Roman Empire.) And to be shown this with absolutely no modern judgements imposed upon it. This is a rare thing, and I appreciated it a great deal.


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NCIS: Ignition

I was really hoping this week’s episode of NCIS was going to be a good one. I didn’t want to end up nagging in my first blog about it. Because, generally, I really like NCIS. It’s never been that strong in the plot department, but they do really good characters, and I love all of them and am generally happy to spend an hour kicking butt with them.

That said, this week’s episode sucked, jetpacks or no. Spoilers below… (more…)

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I recently spent a couple of nights at a friend’s house. With us both being scifi geeks, the conversation turned at one point to Babylon 5. For the life of me I can’t remember what brought it up. I was so enormously disillusioned with that show by the time it finally ground itself into the dirt that I haven’t watched it, at all, in the ten-odd years since it went off the air. My friend happened to have a couple of episodes PVRed, so we threw them on and… wow. I giggled through the ENTIRE thing. Well, a little bit of snark, but mostly? Giggling. The wooden acting, the Olympic-level scenery chewing, the bad alien make-up, the clunky exposition, the nonsensical Kosh lines, and oh my god does JMS *love* to hear himself write. All this combined with a lingering fondness, the memory of how much I used to love this show.

So, as soon as I got home, I rented season 1, and I’ve been watching it between bouts of ruthlessly decorating my mother’s house for Christmas. (I got back from my travels to hear that we weren’t having a tree, and that the family would just be doing a secret santa. We now have not one, but three trees up and decorated (only one real one, though, don’t panic) and will be doing our Christmas wish lists tomorrow. But I digress.)

I’m a dozen episodes in at the moment, and have mostly gotten over the giggling. Mostly. The show is dated, but not as much as I’d feared. Some of the CGI still holds up, but the rest of it looks a lot like cut scenes from Lego Star Wars. None of the acting is stellar, I have to say. G’Kar is the worst offender in the scenery-chewing department, although Londo is running a close second. And even Delenn has her moments. The thread of tragedy that always underlaid Londo and G’Kar still holds up, though, and Londo in particular has moments in every episode where he just knocks it out of the park, despite the goofy accent. G’Kar’s moments are fewer and further between, and most of the time I find myself wishing he would just. stop. yelling. That said, I remember their combined storyline as a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, and I find that I actually want to watch the series through to the end to see if it holds up. I think it actually might. As for the humans, Commander Sinclair is less wooden than I remember, Garibaldi is more so, and I still woship at the feet of Ivanova. She is one of those, like Amanda from Highlander, who is better in theory than in practice, but still. I love her snark, her one-liners, and even the stick up her ass. First season Ivanova was always my favourite.

And, of course, it’s interesting to watch the dominoes being set up for later. The beginnings of the relationship between Talia and Ivanova, the nature of the Vorlons, the Home Guard, the Narn and the Centauri, Delenn’s change, and so on. Even more interesting to see the dominoes that never got knocked down – the plot as it would have gone had they not replaced Sinclair with Sheridan. Catherine Sakai would have died at Z’ha’dum. Delenn would have fallen in love with Sinclair. The seeds of that were all neatly planted. Delenn and Sinclair were married, after all, within the first few episodes.

As I said, I’m only halfway through the season, and seem to be mired in a spate of stand-alones. For the most part I find I care less about these ones than the arc episodes. Although, Believers is still a good episode, if a little too in love with its own social relevance. And By Any Means Necessary was actually delightful to watch. (It was, notably, NOT written by JMS, and thus suffered far less from the pacing issues that have afflicted other episodes.) I’m dearly looking forward to Babylon Squared. I have high hopes that it will make far more sense now than it did when I first watched it.

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Rosemary Kirstein

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