Dark Tower

TV round-up

I do an occasional round-up of my TV shows, so here it is for the last six months or so.

Nikita (S4): This was the half season they were given to wrap things up, and I think they did a pretty good job. It does show the difficulty of mixing mind-twisty spy tropes with satisfying character resolution -- which is sort of to say it didn't achieve the awesome finale of the original Nikita TV show (in its own half-season-to-wrap-things-up). But it was all clever enough (full of competing spy agencies going 'well, they did this because they want us to think that') and cool enough (Maggie Q!) and even respectful enough (Alex is a tricky character, but I think they did her well) to make it all worth the trip.

Doctor Who (various): We recently bought the 50th anniversary boxed set and decided to go through it in chronological order. This would presumably be quicker if we didn't go from Day of the Doctor to Rose. The modern show remains a bit too fast and hand-wavey for me (not to mention the farting aliens), but Christopher Eccleston really is excellent, and I'd forgotten how good Billie Piper was, before it all went a bit strange.

True Detective (S1): Truthfully I was never quite sure what the mass appeal of this was. Certainly it had moments of hellacious beauty, and Rustin Cohle was a cool guy, but the plot was a bit of a mess, and the characters in general under-cooked. Just one of those things.

The Tunnel (S1): Stannis Baratheon and Fleur Delacour fight crime! We hadn't seen either of the preceding versions of this, and just started watching it randomly on iView (I wanted to confirm it had nothing to do with the Aussie movie of the same name). It was very good, but I do think that as the 'truth terrorist' plot wound tighter and tighter towards the personal, it lost a lot of the scope and ambition that marked the early episodes.

Young Dracula (half of S4): those halcyon days of early seasons are long gone, wherein Van Helsing's main method of fighting vampires was dressing in drag (just noticed he was in Edge of Tomorrow!). Now it's all political negotiations and murder and traumatic love. It's an odd fit but so far it retains enough charm to work -- and enough of an audience that the S5 dvds are already on their way. Chloe should turn up again and sort them all out (or not).

Elementary (S1): For most of this season I was saying it was all cool, but didn't feel like Sherlock Holmes at all. By the end that had dissipated somewhat, although I suspect that is more because I had just gotten used to it, rather than Moriarty, Irene Adler etc. So yes, whatever it is, is worth watching. They made Watson's eclipsing of Holmes in certain matters believable enough to carry that off as well. (Lucy Liu is of course cool.)

Legend of the Seeker (S2): this seems mostly a joke these days (and probably always was), the Xena producers doing a more 'serious' fantasy, before Game of Thrones showed people how far the envelope could be pushed. The first episode of season 2 was indeed the most generic thing ever -- prophecies, object quests, undead beasties, lesbian warrior nuns with their dildos of pain (huzzah) -- but after that they do manage to take the various types of magic and mix them up in interesting ways. It eventually meanders a bit too much, but the characters make it worth the trip. (Though if someone had explained the concept of blind-folds to Richard and Kahlan, they would have saved a lot of trouble.)

The Dresden Files (most of): As I said recently I watched the first Constantine ep, and found it a little wanting in comparison to this, even though I believe a lot of book fans dislike it, and it never found its own niche. It's all a bit mystical-case-of-the-week, with powers-as-needed, and vast-magical-society-we-can't-really-afford, but it's all so watchable -- Dresden is great, Bob is great, Murphy is great. Claudia Black turns up for an episode and is great. It's all good.

Fringe (S4): What a weird season. Everyone is an alternate version of themselves, even those who were already parallel versions. I thought they were pushing it too far, into irrelevance, but there was still lots of good stuff and then... well, it's weird. So they manage to skate that line pretty well, and it all falls apart a bit at the end. The ideas are there and are mostly consistent, but they are dealt with too fast and too perfunctorily for proper impact. Meanwhile, S5 looks even weirder, but we shall see.

Doctor Who (S8): Did I mention too fast and hand-wavey? My barriers are up, so I think this is all good enough, without being too excited or shocked by it all (as an old school fan who met Nick Courtney at a convention, I'm not quite seeing the outrage other people are reporting). Also, compared to the nonsense of Fringe, even the science isn't that bad (yeah, still pretty bad but oh well). Capaldi is good without being definitive, and I like the ideas around Clara and Danny, even if the execution is a bit woolly. Also, some genuinely creepy bits help as well.

La Femme Nikita (bits of S1): so good! After finishing the new show I went back and watched some of the original, and discovered my liking of it had not been misplaced. It's fascinating to see just how quickly things fall into place (even though the producers say they didn't know what they had, especially with Micheal), and also how good at spycraft Nikita is, right from the start. Makes latter events somewhat more plausible. I even found some more potential in-jokes between the two series (Ari Tasarov's back story! Maybe). Alas, I am destined to confuse the names Section One and Division forever. If I start getting versions of The Shop mixed up, I'll be in real trouble.

Next up: Orphan Black? Twin Peaks? Hannibal? Spartacus? We shall see.
Dark Tower

(no subject)

I put this together quickly on Facebook, but since that's an 'orrible medium to store anything for later reference, I'll put it here as well:

A lot of people say Stephen King is weak on endings, but I never saw it as a consistent problem. So just for fun, here's a quick and incomplete survey to see if the complaint holds up.

Since a good ending should be memorable, I won't consult any material except for the wiki bibliography. I shall keep spoilers to a minimum.


Carrie: It's a short novel, and the ending fits it very well. Not so sure about the whole "Meanwhile, over here" thing, but it also fits in with the newspaper infrastructure.

The Shining: Y'know, the first time I read this, the climax really annoyed me. I was going "Not the [SPOILER], how bloody obvious", or words to that effect. On a reread it struck me as really fitting and powerful, so I'm going to stick with that.

Rage: the ending where Stephen removes it from circulation completely is a bit sad, but the novel itself ends perfectly well.

The Stand: I promised I wouldn't go look up stuff, so I _think_ the whole Hand of God thing is fairly momentary and understated. That seems to be the main complaint, which does ignore the fact the presence of the [SPOILER] is set up over the entire book (bumpity bump). I had a greater problem with the huge amount of pages between that and the actual end of the book, which may just be in the expanded edition (like Dark Tower 1, I prefer the lean mean original). The bit on the beach seems a bit dodgy too.

The Long Walk: is very good.

The Dead Zone: is brilliant!

Firestarter: I liked this ending a lot. Despite similarities with Carrie and Rage (young person much put upon), the ending goes in a completely different direction which fitted in with the more expansive political focus.

Cujo: Sadly, I mostly remember the movie ending, but I'm pretty sure it's similar and I don't remember having any problems with either.

The Running Man: rather different from the movie, and pretty neat. It would have a bit of a different effect these days.

Christine: the whole final battle seems fine, and I remember liking the epilogue. Was there some problem with Gaunt being a bit of an anticlimax? Hmmm.

Pet Sematary: not unexpected, but very good.

The Talisman: I remember it being good, mostly the melancholy bits.

The Mist: I'm cheating on criteria a bit, and my memories of the printed version are very hazy. It must be said that the movie ending is really ballsy, and I thought they sold it convincingly. Others disagree strongly.

It: the archetypal disappointment -- with It's final form and with an undercurrent of squickiness at the, um, group bonding. I didn't mind either particularly at the time, although I understand the arguments. Strangely, I think The Dark Tower series actually improves this ending, by putting it all (especially the Turtle, ain't he keen?) in a wider context.

Misery: Um. Good? I'm sure I should remember more of it.


Needful Things: perhaps it would have been better if the ending had done what King promised it would. On its own, it was all a bit unexciting.

Gerald's Game: The ending of this is really weird. It's like an anti-twist, which was sort of interesting, but not really effective. (I see they are starting to film it. That just seems uncomfortable for all concerned.)

Insomnia: Mostly I remember some aircraft wreckage decapitating some noted feminist!? Not sure that was right at the end though.

The Green Mile: The ending of the main story was pretty much in keeping with it all. I seem to remember a neat melancholy epilogue as well.

Bag of Bones: The ending (ie, the actual bag in question) is about the only thing I do remember clearly. Sort of made sense.

Hearts in Atlantis: Brilliant! I loved this greatly, especially how it all ended up (and have railed at the movie for betraying that ending on more than one occasion).

Black House: I was liking this, until they actually enter the Black House itself, at which point it all went downhill rapidly -- since that's the last third of the book or so, I'm not sure it entirely counts as 'the ending'.

From A Buick Eight: I remember being a bit annoyed at the final bit, which could have been a little less pat considering the subject matter. Still, pretty good.

The Dark Tower: the whole ending of this series was rather disappointing to me, and by that I mean the last few books. Gathering the ka-tet was wonderful; giving them appropriate drama and challenge once they were together was trickier. However I will still defend the actual last page of it all as most excellent.

The Colorado Kid: Oh God, all I can envisage is Haven -- and I hope that ends well. From memory I had the same complain as Buick Eight, only more so; I don't think Sai King trusts anarchy, even when it is his main theme.

Cell: The gets a special mention because Steve came out later and 'explained' the ending. That was not only unnecessary but may even weaken the book. Anyway, mostly fitting for what it was.

Under The Dome: the explanation of what is really going is just... silly. The very definition of arbitrariness. But I do really like the entire direction of events under the Dome (and especially now in comparison to the TV show) so I am favourably inclined to where it ends up.

11/22/63: I think this is an alright novel that ties up a lot of loose ends much better than I was expecting it too -- and then undermines it all at the very end with political theorising that is entirely beside the point. (And for the record, I don't think this improved It as much as the Dark Tower did.)

The Wind in the Keyhole: Did this even have an ending?

Doctor Sleep: when I get there... Is pretty good so far.


It all goes downhill a bit at the end(!), but Hearts in Atlantis really is the last book of his I loved fully and joyfully. However, there are more than enough excellent books with excellent endings to be getting on with. He is not much into radical endings that make you rethink everything, and sometimes the action is a bit arbitrary, but I also reckon he rounds out his events with a minimum of loose threads and deus ex. The Dead Zone strikes me as the cleverest ending (and a clever book in general), and there are a fair few melancholy epilogues I am inclined to like.

None of which will probably sway the common perception, but it's nice to at least justify my own opinions.
Nick and Nat

(no subject)

City of Heroes is closing down. It was never really my game, but it did some things very well -- most notably character customisation and scaled missions. Here are my toons, in memoriam.

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Grosse Pointe Blank

(no subject)

We saw Neil Marshall's Doomsday last night, which is more or less completely mad. With barely a whiff of credibility it throws a cyberpunk heroine into battles against apocalyptic road gangs and medieval knights, with a bit of Aliens and Twenty Eight Days Later thrown in for kicks. And it works, though it takes a while for the build-up of absurdity to reach critical mass (the precise moment is marked with the song Good Thing, for those taking notes).

I'm not sure it works really well, given the flatness of some of the dialogue and plotting in general, but it rides it through on audacity and good production values.

Speaking of which, I also saw Sucker Punch recently, which actually has very similar goals (cyberchicks vs knights, in broad terms); even more audacious, even less sane, somewhat more tedious. I wouldn't call it good, but it had enough in common with, say, Terry Gilliam to be interesting.
Clive Barker

(no subject)

Here are some photos from the (spectacular) launch of Kyla's book this week:

The Land of Bad Dreams

If you're on Facebook, hopefully you've seen Leigh Blackmore's set as well, which is great.

In the meantime, everyone have fun at Conflux. Kyla is heading down their now, and there will be books.

(no subject)

I have only just noticed now that there is a comic coming out called Justice League Dark, featuring the wacky(?) adventures of John Constantine; Shade, the Changing Man; Madame Xanadu; Deadman; Zatanna; Mindwarp and Enchantress. Tha hell?