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?
Expert opinion is, at the end of the day, still opinion. But why would you not want to know what experts have to say? When you make a dental appointment, do you want your dentist to be an expert or not? If you build a house, do you want a professional architect or your next-door neighbor to draw up the plans? One might be tempted to say that in the case of the historical Jesus it is different since, after all, we are just talking about history; experts have no more access to the past than anyone else. That, however, is simply not true. It may be the case that some of my students receive the bulk of their knowledge of the Middle Ages from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but is that really the best place to turn? So too millions of people have acquired their “knowledge” about early Christianity—about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicaea—from Dan Brown, author of the aforementioned The Da Vinci Code. But at the end of the day, is that such a wise choice?
NOTE: This is how I feel about apologists and creationists and those who take their word above that of real experts. Why would you ignore the word of experts unless you simply don't want to have your views challenged?