Sunday, 29 March 2009

Terminator: TSSC Episode 2.17

Episode 17 already? There can't be many left!

OK, we are back on track with this episode after the oddness of going down the rabbit hole in the "memorial" episode and the "sleep clinic" interlude. This is a strong episode that relies on some character-driven suspense.

The episode opens with Cameron finding a bird in the living room. "What am I going to do with you?" she wonders. She takes the bird outside but her hand malfunctions and crushes it.

Cameron and John work on her arm using spare parts from other endoskeletons.

Sarah wants to get to the bottom of the Riley suicide attempt and visits the foster dad. He mentions her ranting about the world burning and bleached skulls. He suggests that Sarah's gang are not a good influence on Riley. He also mentions talking to a 'guidance counselor'. I bet that was 'Kendra', I thought.

It was indeed. Sarah meets the fake guidance counselor and discusses the Riley situation. 'Kendra' insinuates that uncle Derek was doing bad things in order to get him to leave Sarah's gang.

Back at the house Sarah and John are confronting Riley when a real child services person turns up. Riley goes to hide in the garage. While John displays knowledge of gun permits Cameron enters the garage. "What am I going to do with you?" she wonders. =gulp= "You're John's sister," pleads a worried Riley. We all know better. John enters and gets Riley out before Cameron does anything nasty.

John asks if there is anything Riley wants to tell him because today is the day. She asks him the same thing. They both say no and they part.

Riley goes back to 'Kendra'. She accuses 'Kendra' of wanting her to be killed by Cameron. Eventually they fight. And what a fight scene! Riley gets the upper hand before 'Kendra' shoots her. Riley dies.

You know, I didn't like Riley much to start with but by the end she became one of the most interesting characters. It was never going to end well for her, poor thing!

Cameron tells John that she will eventually malfunction and become unreliable and she gives him a self destruct device to blow up her chip when the time comes. Summer Glau does a good job showing Cameron's increasing erratic nature.

All in all a strong episode with good character moments.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Small Island to wrap in NI

Here's a Small Island production update:

Filming will wrap this week on ‘Small Island’, a new 2 x 90-minute drama produced by Ruby Films for the BBC which has been shooting in Northern Ireland since mid February. The production will move to Jamaica at the end of this week.


Sadly Ruth never took me up on my offer to buy her a coffee!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt

I've just finished reading The Rise of the Iron Moon, the third in a sequence of novels by Stephen Hunt. Last year I read the previous book, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, and enjoyed it very much.

As before the novel is set in the alternate/far-future steampunk world of the Kingdom of Jackals. Steamman Coppertracks informs a gathering of distinguished scientists that he believes there is life on the red planet of Kaliban but is laughed off stage.

Later it turns out that he was quite right. A comet (the "Iron Moon" of the title) changes course and returns to earth and is used as a base for an invasion. An nearly invincible Army of Shadows attacks and quickly destroys the armed forces in the countries neighbouring Jackals. It's clearly The War of the Worlds time.

Fear not, for the Kingdom of Jackals has the finest fleet of airships in the world. Unfortunately the Army of Shadows makes quick work of the Royal Aerostatical Navy as well.

It's up to Molly Templar, Commodore Black and Coppertracks to come to the rescue, riding a spaceship fired from a cannon to Kaliban where they will get a weapon that can destroy the invading forces....

I enjoyed the book, but I have to admit not as much as Kingdom. Iron Moon seems a little less polished, a little more rushed. In particular the narrative jumps in various places. Just as we are getting to an exciting escape or battle the scene switches to later on and the action is dealt with in a few sentences. Perhaps Kingdom was just too damn good!

Having said that Iron Moon is crammed full of ideas, almost too many for one book. The true identity of the Masters of the Army of Shadows is quite clever. And the author does not hold back from practically wiping whole armies, countries and populations off the map.

Despite my misgivings with this instalment Stephen Hunt is writing some of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. I look forward to volume four and in the meantime I still have The Court of the Air to read.

Note to publisher, don't dare change the wonderful retro cover designs for these books!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

V is for Vandervoort

An interesting little piece of news landed in my inbox this morning. According to there is to be a new version of 1980s sci-fi series "V". That got me excited to start with, but then I read that Laura Vandervoort is to appear in it.

Now for those of you who don't know Laura played Superman's cousin Kara (aka Supergirl) in season 7 of Smallville. I have to admit that the Nordic blond look is just not my type at all (as you will know from posts about my favourite actresses) yet somehow I got totally captivated by her.

If an episode had no significant Laura/Kara presence I would feal a lingering disappointment for the rest of the evening. Sadly the creators of the show dropped her as a regular character after season 7, although she did make a return guest appearance for one episode in season 8.

I still maintain that a spin-off show about Kara would work. Market research please take note! Just make sure that Laura returns...

Where was I...

Oh, yes, "V". So now I am well pleased with the news of her appearing in "V". As yet I don't know yet if it is a remake or a "next generation" deal. Watch this space.

The old show started off as a mini-series examining if a fascist state could arise in modern-day America, only through the allegorical conceit of lizard people who wanted to steal our water and eat us.

A second mini-series was more action orientated and dispensed with a lot of the gravitas of the original, although it did give us Michael Ironside as mercenary Ham Tyler.

Then a weekly series started. Frankly it wasn't as good, but in the 1980s I didn't care. It had Jane Badler as Visitor lizard lady Diana on my TV. Every week. I had a lot of time for Jane Badler

Maybe she'll come back as a guest lizard...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Terminator: TSCC Episode 2.16

OK, bit of a weird episode this. At first I felt like I had missed an episode before seeing this one.

There are two storylines juxtaposed in this episode. (Hey, I never get to use the word "juxtaposed" so I'm gonna use it now.)

One story has Sarah check in to a sleep deprivation clinic. (Yes, that's right. An exciting hour of entertainment awaits.) She meets a roommate who has nightmares about being burnt to death as a witch. John visits and alludes to Sarah's nightmares where she is help captive in the back of a van.

A Cute Nurse Lady tells Sarah that she doesn't have a brain tumor responsible for keeping her awake. In another scene Cameron walks past John in her underwear. I'm pointing this out for a storytelling reason, honest!

Each night when Sarah goes to sleep in the clinic she dreams/flashes back to being captured by the guy she shot in the warehouse factory place. He wants to know who she is, who she is working with and what they want. He also implies that he assassinated the Woman With the Deep Manly Voice and the hypnotherapist from the "UFO" episode.

Back in the clinic the roommate burns to death in her bed and Sarah investigates. She and John break into the basement where it appears the Cute Nurse Lady is a terminator and running an experiment on human brain activity for skynet. (Huh?)

Back in the van dream Sarah eventually manages to break free and sticks a syringe her captors eye. (Ew!)

Then, the big twist, Sarah realises that being stuck in the van is real and the clinic is a dream. She eventually shoots her captor in the head. Well, that's what was implied. So after going through the angst of killing someone and then finding out he was alive she kills him again.

OK, if the clinic was a dream does that mean that Sarah is still worried about having a brain tumor? And why did she dream of Cameron in her undies? You see, I told you there was a storytelling reason for mentioning Summer Glau in her undies. It must mean something!

To be honest I sort of saw the "twist" coming. Nothing about the clinic storyline made sense but it makes a lot more sense as a dream.

By the way, the Cute Nurse Lady was played by Julie Ann Emery.

Victoria Pendleton in the Times

There's a good article about my favourite Olympic gold medal winning cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, in today's Times.

It would appear that the work involved to win a gold medal is no fun at all:

"What I look forward to most is a life where I don’t feel guilty about what I am eating, I don’t choose meals for their carbohydrate and protein content and constantly check the clock worrying that I need to eat something. I want to watch a late programme on television without worrying whether I have had enough sleep and go shopping for new shoes without worrying about getting tired. At the moment I live in a state of constant guilt. I want a life without guilt."

And apparently she is "the cover girl for a forthcoming issue of FHM".


Sorry, drifted off there for a moment. I might have to buy that issue...

Here's the link to the article:

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Terminator: TSSC Episode 2.15

This episode had a weird Alice in Wonderland feel, at least for me.

Sarah and the gang go to investigate the people who Weaver killed in the mysterious warehouse. There is a memorial service for the victims. Also there is a investigator man working for Weaver. He is looking for someone.

Sarah talks to the wife of the man she shot. But she does not seem to know what went on in the warehouse. The parent company has paid for flowers but sent no representatives.

John befriends a gal whose father died in the warehouse. Later the gang realise that the girl and her mother are acting strangely and they work out that her father is not actually dead.

Sara finds a secret monitoring room under a house. All the families who had someone working at the warehouse are being monitored. Derek says this is how Skynet worked/will work in the future. They find footage of the man Sarah killed and the missing father assassinating a family and disposing of the bodies.

At the end of the episode they find the body of the investigator man. A "three dot" drone appears, hovers and then flies off. It lands in the back of a truck driven by the missing father/assassin.

New Star Trek trailer is stunning

I don't normally make any comments about movie trailers but I really have to make an exception for the new Star Trek trailer. There is something suitably epic about it.

Near the start is a great line from Bruce Greenwood playing Captain Pike.

"Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives. Including yours."

Now, damn it, that's a great line. I want to see the movie for that line...

The music they use is wonderful. It's a track called "Freedom Fighters" by Two Steps From Hell. Works perfectly.

Other favourite moments.

"You will experience fear. Fear in the face of certain death."

McCoy: "We've got no captain and no first officer to replace him."
Kirk: "Yeah we do."

(Karl Urban sounds more and more like Deforest Kelly the more I listen to that line. And he looks a bit like Bones too.)

There's a wonderful shot of the USS Enterprise that I keep going back to. Just for a few seconds there is a sense of wonder and mystery as it approaches an alien ship.

And there's a foreboding shot that makes me a little bit concerned for the planet Vulcan.

There's other great stuff in the trailer from Eric Bana as Kirk's adversary. I won't call him a villain as from by accounts he appears to have an actual motive for what he's doing rather than just being evil for the sake of it.

Well, don't take my word for it. Check it out at

Friday, 13 March 2009

Some thoughts on Watchmen

I'm latecomer to the world of Watchmen. I just bought the graphic novel a few months ago mainly to read before I saw the movie. It wasn't until I finished the book that I realised how subversively affecting it was.

I made the effort to see the new movie a couple of days ago with the book fresh in my mind. I dont know what I would have made of it without reading the book but I'm a little bit stunned at how closely the the scenes in the movie follow the book.

Whole chunks of dialog are lifted directly from the page and placed into the movie. Nearly all the flashback are there. Lots of visual moments have been storyboarded from the comic. For example the smiley face badge in the gutter next to the Comedian's blood, Rorschach lifting a rose in the cemetery, Laurie playing with "Archie", Dr Manhattan's TV interview and his glass palace (and the smiley face!), on Mars, and then the whole thing is book-ended with the smiley face t-shirt and ketchup at the end.

The violence is violent. I almost felt every impact of the opening fight. And there are a few "they wouldn't, surely..." moments.

And the characters... Here they are in all their dysfunctional glory. The Comedian is just as nasty a piece of work as before. Nothing has been toned down. Dr Manhattan's back story is just as tragic. They even have the line:
"All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."

And then Rorschach. Oh boy. Why does this guy stick in the mind? Any scene with him remains memorable. His "hard-boiled" narration survives, even down to the joke about the "great clown Pagliacci". His "No! No! No!" realisation that he been set up. His escape from the cell involving his assailants turning on their own hapless accomplice. And finally, the true climax of the story, his "no compromise" line to Dr Manhattan just before... well, you know. In an odd way Rorschach is the most idealistic of the "masks".

"Those Were Great Times Rorschach, What Happened...?"
"You Quit"

He also has possibly the best line in the movie:

"None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me!"

Other plot points are inevitably given reduced screen time, such as the kid reading the comic next to the news vendor. Perhaps we will see more of them in the extended DVD.

PS Be warned that there are some naughty lady bits and some naughty (albeit CGI) man bits...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Terminator: TSCC Episode 2.14

Sarah wakes up in hospital with a gunshot wound from the last episode. Kyle Reese turns up in her head speaking lines of dialog from the first movie. "On your feet, soldier!" There's a cop outside the door so she has to knock him out to escape. She kidnaps a lady doctor to fix her leg. In a motel she tells lady doctor about how a man hurt her and about her son John.

Riley is in hospital because she tried to kill herself. I guess it's a different hospital because John doesn't visit his mom. "Kendra" takes Riley away and tells her off, but without slapping her this time.

Derek has a mission to destroy any evidence from Sarah's most recent mission. He burns her jeep which is at a police station. One of the cops is Trip from Enterprise. Coincidentally he's an abusive boyfriend of the lady doctor.

The Cromartie storyline seems to be going somewhere. Cromartie is playing with toy figures and asks Ellison why God didn't use ball-and-socket joints for human limbs. He calmly recounts the history of his body, listing the many victims such as the plastic surgeon and the FBI agents.

Later Cromartie tells Weaver that he knows she is not human and also how he has been tracking production of Coltan, the alloy used in constructing the machines. He intercepted a call to destroy evidence in the warehouse that Sarah found. Weaver sets off and chillingly assassinates all the human workers in the warehouse.

The doctor patches Sarah up and shoots her former boyfriend in a standoff. Sarah and Derek head off to the warehouse only to see it in flames.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Emily Blunt in S Magazine

Another weekend, another newspaper with Emily Blunt on the cover of their magazine supplement. This time it's the Sunday Express "S Magazine". Here is a quick scan.

Update, here are the scans from inside the magazine. Note that the paper quality is very poor but I've done my best.