I watched the new Doctor WhoChristmas Special 2013, called The Time of the Doctor, the day after it first aired. For my money, Doctor Who has always been one of the more uneven TV shows out there (please don’t burn down my house) and the Christmas Specials even more so. Alas, some of them have been truly awful, while others have been truly great. I realize that part of this is because Doctor Who is first and foremost a kid’s show. But I’m not a kid. I have, at times, wished for a more adult version of Doctor Who. And no, Torchwood isn’t it, so don’t even go there.
I read Ender’s Game, a novel written by Orson Scott Card, some years ago. It’s the only thing written by Card that I really liked. So giving Ender’s Game the movie a thumbs up … or the bird … depends, in part, on whether it respects the best aspects of the original story. Exploiting Ender’s brilliance to save the human race from an armada of evil bugs is pretty much the center of the story’s structure. But what about the personal stuff, like Ender fighting his way through Battle School against older kids who literally wanted to kill him? Or the day-to-day chess matches between Ender, the other boys, and Graff? These were big parts of the story that are ripe for the cutting room floor. There’s also the risk that it could be twisted into a shitty action flick or something starring Van Damme as the Formic Queen.
Star Trek Into Darkness is the latest offering by sci-fi god, J.J. Abrams. To me, the funny thing about Paramount choosing Abrams to reboot the Star Trek franchise is that he seems like a Star Wars guy, not a Star Trek guy. (In case you didn’t know, Abrams is also directing the next Star Wars movie.) I totally believe he’s the right guy for Star Wars, but I never saw Abrams as an obvious choice for Star Trek.Trek is deeper, smarter, and wastes valuable screen time by sitting its main characters around a conference table for hours on end. Star Wars is simplicity itself and focuses on special effects and things going boom. That’s the sort of thing Abrams is good at.
Despite this, I liked the previous Star Trek movie. It could have used some of the smarts that went into the TV shows that came before it, but it was totally enjoyable. And, most importantly, the characters felt right.
That’s right, Stargate: Universe fans. First … for me … there was Farscape. Then I discovered Firefly on the SciFi Channel (before they tweened up the name for copyright purposes) only to learn that it had already been canceled. Wha?! And now, to my abject horror, Stargate: Universe is going under. That’s right. This is the last season. SyFy, must you destroy everything that I love? What’s next? Chocolate cake and porn?
Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age.