Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Farscape: Season One (1999)

"Alien" does not begin to describe the series of Farscape, and when a show feels so new and different, even to a weathered science-fiction fan as myself, it can only mean good things to come.

Farscape starts out innocently enough with a beautiful dawn.  On this fateful morning an astronaut named John Crichton is shot into space on a test mission, and unwittingly enters a wormhole.  Where he ends up is not only the true setting of the story but yet another beautiful and frightening dawn for Crichton.  Now aboard a Leviathan, the living ship of Moya, he is in a constant struggle to survive but also adapt to his strange surroundings and shipmates.

The species represented on the ship are incredibly diverse and detailed, each one possessing intricate back stories which are slowly illuminated throughout the first season's 22 episodes.  The aggressive yet honorable Luxan warrior D'argo, the exotic spiritual Delvian Zhaan, the incredibly selfish highfalutin royal Hynerian Rygel, the dutiful and passive Pilot, and the deadly Sebacean Peacekeeper commando Aeryn, along with the displaced yet capable human Crichton make up Moya's manifest.  The noticeable amount of detail shown in each expertly constructed environment gives the show an extravagant feel as it all looks very expensive.

The imaginative creature and makeup effects from Jim Henson studios are the true highlight of the season though the CG visuals do date the show considerably.
While the crew's plan to return to each of their home worlds leads the audience on an unforgettable journey through many dangerous and evocative locales, the series is still in its infancy so blunders along the way are to be expected.
Farscape is not immune to the early season pitfalls that can arise on such a sci-fi endeavour, though accompanied by well-imagined characters, ambitious storywriting and sfx it truly is the dawn of good things to come.

Buyers Guide:
Available as a 6 disc box set containing all 22 episodes of S1.  The same box can be found in a Full Series box, which contains all 4 Seasons.

3 appetizing food cubes out of 5

Nutted by Borderline

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log (2007)

A five-disc collection of various episodes culled from each of the live action Star Trek TV series (to date). Each disc is devoted to a specific series. You get: three episodes from The Original Series / four from The Next Generation / four from Deep Space Nine / three from Voyager / and three from Enterprise. You'll find a list in the comments box of the episodes that are included.

Each disc has one episode chosen by the Captain of that particular show, with a short introduction from each as to why they picked it.

There's no surprise as to which episode Avery Brooks picked as his favourite, but thankfully it's a good one. If Avery wasn’t so bat-shit crazy in real life he could've been a formidable politician.

The remainder of the episodes were chosen by Trek fans from a poll on the official Star Trek website. The episodes may not be the ones you'd pick as being the best representation of Captaincy, but if you didn't vote you’ve no one but yourself to blame. As do I. Bugger!

Extras include the aforementioned brief introductions alongside some equally brief interviews with each of the Captains. If you already own or plan to own someday the series box sets then there's no reason whatsoever to want this. Unless you want the 30th Anniversary Flashback episode of Voyager without having to buy an entire season of that shitfest of a series.

16 episodes, approx 44 mins each (alternatively, 15 eps if you consider that two of the TNG eps are edited together into a one feature-length).

4 Shaka, when the walls fell out of 5

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 2 (2012)

The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. 
Why are the gods all such vicious cunts?
HBO's hit fantasy drama continues as the War of Five Kings is in full swing with the Stark banner-men under Robb Stark fighting Lannister banner-men under Tywin Lannister while both remaining Baratheon brothers advance their own claims to the Iron Throne. In the capital, Tyrion Lannister uses his new power as acting Hand of the King to try and manage the chaos while the poor starve and Joffrey continues to be an ineffectual king who regularly abuses those under him including Sansa ostensibly for the crimes of her brother Robb. Tyrion manages this while playing a dangerous game of politics and treachery among the court.

There are many concurrent plot-lines, but Tyrion's is the most interesting as Peter Dinklage (who now has top billing. Winning Emmys will do that) plays the quick-witted and clever character masterfully and sympathetically. Not that the other stories are bad, just pale in comparison when Tyrion isn't onscreen. They are excellent otherwise. Everything  from the characters to the costumes and sets is wonderfully crafted despite a limited, though newly raised, cable budget. The CG graphics for Daenerys' dragons is very well done though not perfect, but it is a small blemish on the series.

The many plots can be overwhelming, but they are handled as well as they can be given how many there are and the limited number of episodes. Add to that some excellent dark age style swords and sorcery action with the well realized atmosphere and mood of the first season and you get a show that is very much worth the hype and acclaim.

Episodes to See:
All of them again as missing one will probably leave casual viewers terribly lost given how much detail and plot is crammed into just the 10 episodes.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray box sets and streaming for HBO Go subscribers.

Tits and Wine out of 5

Monday, August 13, 2012

Men Behaving Badly: Series 2 (1992)

Dermot (Harry Enfield) from Series One is gone, replaced by the mildly-successful womaniser Tony (Neil Morrissey). This is good. Morrissey's enthusiasm and willingness to play the lazy idiot adds a more dynamic touch to the show than Enfiled's underdeveloped character did. His ability to bounce one-liners back and forth with Martin Clunes is also superior. I'd enjoyed the earlier Harry Enfield's Television Programme, but he clearly wasn't right for Men Behaving Badly.

Mostly it's the same formula as before; i.e. like Dermot, Tony immediately tries to bed Deborah; Gary and Dorothy give the writers a target to critique an 'adult' relationship, with sharper scripts and funnier quips; and the two guys lad it up in their squalor as much as possible, and somehow manage not to starve.

6 episodes, approx 25 mins each.

3 beers and blue urine out of 5

Friday, August 10, 2012

Men Behaving Badly: Series 1 (1991)

A British sitcom about two guys that share a South London flat. Gary (Martin Clunes) somehow manages to hold down a steady job and pay the mortgage. His flatmate Dermot (Harry Enfield) is a kind of wannabe yuppie with no money and no job; he sponges off Gary as much as possible to fund his ridiculous plans.

Gary has a girlfriend, Dorothy (Caroline Quentin) that takes the piss out of him regularly; she finds it almost too easy. Despite their differences, the two guys are typical "lads" that have beer and birds in common.

When a blonde woman named Deborah (Leslie Ash) moves into the upstairs flat, Dermot makes it his business to sleep with her as soon as possible. Deb, of course, has no intention of that happening.

It mostly revolves around jokes about sex and relationships. Martin Clunes is perfectly cast as the loveable no-hoper going nowhere. Caroline Quentin is also perfect as his sarcastic girlfriend. Harry Enfield's character is less successful. His bored, selfish yuppie hopeful lacks spark. And Leslie Ash, the prim and proper straight woman, is dead weight from day one.

The first series succeeded in pairing-up and defining the Clunes and Quentin relationship, but in truth it can be easily skipped in favour of the much funnier later series.

Note: if you live in America, the UK series was renamed British Men Behaving Badly to avoid confusion with their own remake.

6 episodes, approx 25 mins each.

2 beers and a badly informed Labrador out of 5

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wonderfalls (2004)

A quirky drama about a young woman who is dissatisfied with her crappy retail job in a Niagara Falls gift shop, especially after her coworker is promoted over her despite him still being in high school. While fuming about it, she somehow manifests the ability to speak to the inanimate animals she sells that begin to ask her to perform odd requests that encourage her to help people, sometimes at her expense and often in funny and oblique ways.

Caroline Dhavernas plays the caustic and anti-social Jaye who at first only reluctantly goes along with the animal's requests while questioning her sanity, but eventually starts to soften up to the people around her like her overbearing parents, lesbian sister and pretty much all people she tries to actively avoid. Eric, played by Tyron Leitso, is the love interest and new bartender at Jaye's favorite bar as he was recently married, but ran off from his honeymoon after catching his new wife cheating on him with a hotel staff member. He drank and cried for three days until the owner gave him a job. His kindness and good nature is the antithesis of Jaye, but he finds her interesting nonetheless and sees her as not as uncaring as she thinks usually because of the good deeds the animals force her to do.

Creator Bryan Fuller continues his trend of shows revolving around special young women in an odd situation except this time he has the added benefit of executive producer Tim Minear who also worked on another great and cancelled FOX show, Firefly. With a cast full of great actors and a fresh and original premise, Wonderfalls gained critical praise and a loyal fan-base despite only airing 4 episodes before being cancelled by FOX. There is great character development especially a noticeable shift in Jaye and weird comedy bits. Plus it's just nice to have a show that isn't a medical drama or police procedural for once.

Episodes to See:
Ep. 8 Lovesick Ass - A quite hilarious plot about a mail order bride with an excellent guest performance by a young Spencer Breslin.

Buyer's Guide:
Thanks to a grassroots petition, there is a DVD set available of all 13 episodes made for season 1 though it is only available in Region 1 so far. Also now through Netflix.

5 smooshed-face lions out of 5