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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Macross Plus: The Series (1994)

The Macross universe is split over a number of different series and timelines, which has resulted in a long and complex history that can be confusing.

Macross Plus is the first real sequel to the original TV series, Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Macross II: Lovers Again (1992) was released before this one but was deemed non-canon in the official timeline by series creator Shoji Kawamori. If you’re coming to the franchise for the first time then you’ll lack some basic world setting info but can still enjoy this particular short OVA on its own merits.

It's set on the planet Eden in the year 2040. It’s been thirty years since the Human/Alien War ended, but weapons development is still ongoing. Test pilots Isamu Alva Dyson and Guld Goa Bowman, old friends and rivals, are selected to test different kinds of aircraft, only one of which will be put into full production.

Initially it seems as if Plus is a simple tale of fighter pilot rivalry with big-ass guns that'll please kids, but as the story unfolds it becomes something much deeper. It reveals itself to be a poignant study of adult concerns. It’s not light viewing. It gets heavy handed with themes of loss and regret, divided loyalties, the duality of love and jealousy, and much more. Throw a woman with her own emotional problems into the mix and things get even more chaotic.

Each episode builds upon and further complicates the relationships, culminating in a climax that could've been better paced but doesn't disappoint emotionally.

The animation is a combination of traditional cel and CGI that, despite being almost twenty years-old at time of writing, has held up surprisingly well.

4 episodes, approx 40 minutes each.

3 barriers broken out of 5

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Doctor Who: Dreamland (2009)

An animated mini-series featuring the Tenth Doctor as he enjoys some downtime in 1950s America, but in typical Dr Who style it doesn't stay quiet for long.

The story is split over six parts that when collected together are approximately the same length as a regular Dr Who episode (42 mins). Watching them all in one sitting is simple, and doing so means the story peaks regularly at the intended cliff-hanger moments. The twists and turns are well-placed, and with some minor tweaks it could've made a really decent live-action episode.

Thankfully, the voice work is good. David Tennant gives the same kind of enthusiastic performance that he gave the parent show; and the unmistakable tones of David Warner give life to the villain.

The only criticism I have is the quality of the animation. Despite being made in HD, it resembles some bad FMV from an early PS2 game. The gangly arms and clunky movement are an insult to the quality of everything else. The story's strong enough to keep you watching, but the first few minutes had me shuddering at how appalling the character models are.

2½ accidents of dimensional geography out of 5

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Millennium: Season Three (2005)

After the mess they made of Season Two, neither Glen Morgan nor James Wong were invited back to contribute to Season Three. Good. Two new guys (Michael Duggan and Chip Johannessen) were given the task of cleaning up the apocalyptic shit-stains. Series creator Chris Carter also made a brief return, contributing by co-writing three episodes and overseeing some parts of the production.

Mostly the format returned to standalone episodes. It mimicked and attempted to recapture the psychological aspect that had made Season One a success. The event that ended the previous year is largely ignored; I've never been so pleased to have such an inconsistency.

Frank gets a new partner who's characterised by her overzealous enthusiasm in early episodes. But as the season progresses she takes on more useful traits, and by the end she becomes an integral part of the proceedings.

The Millennium Group are still sniffing around crime scenes, but the focus is primarily on Frank and his new role, which causes a minor internal conflict within him. His attentions are split unevenly between his daughter and his job. It seems as if the situation will elevate, but it peters out too soon and remains underdeveloped. There was something potentially sinister there that could've been brought to the fore but wasn't; perhaps they were holding that back for future seasons? We’ll never know.

There's another crap Hallowe’en episode, and an Xmas episode, but most of the bad comedy was excised; I'm pretending the episode with KISS didn't happen.

Extras include the Millennium/X-Files crossover. It was a great idea but it's a bad story with a very weak ending. It would've been nice if the writers had used the format to offer some kind of resolution or closure that the series was denied, but they didn't; it's simply an excuse to feature Frank Black in the X-Files.

22 episodes, approx 44 minutes each.

2½ chips off the old block out of 5