Saturday, March 15, 2008

I finished re-watching Season Four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Season One of Angel last week. I think the former has some good things (Willow and Tara in particular) to offer, but it also feels unfocused and the Big Bad isn't very impressive (if they cut Adam out, it wouldn't affect the season's story arc much at all).

As well as Joss Whedon and his writing staff handle the emerging lesbian relationship of Willow and Tara, the network partially undercuts those efforts by demanding that the characters be shown doing nothing more than holding hands and occasionally hugging, which can be immediately contrasted with the kissing and romping in bed that heterosexual Buffy and Riley engage in during the season. As usual for American television, the queer lovers must have a passionless relationship. The network allows a kiss in Season Five, but the problem is only truly rectified in Seasons Six and Seven, which is when the show switched to a different, more open-minded network.

I was talking to a friend last week about the continuations of Buffy and Angel in comic book form. I haven't read any of them yet, but the plot summaries I've perused have left me a bit cold. One of the things I like about the television shows is how they're grounded in a certain level of reality due to the limitations of television and special effects budgets. I'm not convinced that removing those limitations is for the better.

That said, after some reflection I think the real issue for me is that I feel like I've already been told a complete story about the characters and I don't necessarily need more to feel satisfied. Buffy is essentially the story of Buffy, Protector of Sunnydale. The show begins with her arrival in town and concludes with the town's destruction. End of story. Angel ends on a cliffhanger leaving the fates of several characters up in the air, but think about it--a core theme of Angel is fighting the good fight no matter the odds, and the final scene nails that idea perfectly. Again, end of story.

For now, I'm not interested in the comic books. Who knows, perhaps after re-watching the complete runs of both shows I'll change my mind.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Interesting. There will apparently be eight Harry Potter films, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be produced as two films, the first to be released in November 2010 and the second in May 2011. David Yates, director of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will shoot both films concurrently.

It doesn't look likely that Jericho will be brought back for a third season. That makes me sad. I like the way it evolved from a survival story in the first season to a political thriller in the second. The network has under two weeks to decide its fate, with a decision needed before the seventh and final episode of the second season airs. The producers shot two endings: if it's canceled again, they'll go with an ending that wraps up the story; if it's renewed, they'll end on a cliffhanger. But not all hope is lost, as executive producer Carol Barbee has said that she'll approach other networks to continue the show if CBS cancels it again, starting with the Sci Fi Channel.

The first trailer for The Incredible Hulk is online here. I'll see the film, of course, but I really liked Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003 and the evidence of this trailer doesn't suggest that the new film will be an improvement on it. Couldn't they have at least kept Sam Elliott as Thunderbolt Ross? William Hurt seems miscast. One thing I'm looking forward to in it, though:

Warning: spoilers below, please highlight the white space with your mouse to read them.

Robert Downey Jr.'s cameo as Tony Stark, fueling rumors of an Avengers film in the near future.

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Review: Torchwood, Episode 2.10, "From Out of the Rain"

Peter J. Hammond, writer of the first season's outstanding "Small Worlds", returns with another creepy story. It may not be as good or as disturbing as its predecessor (I wanted to see an ending with a little more emotional impact), but it's still effective and we learn just a tiny bit more about Captain Jack's past along the way. Director Jonathan Fox Bassett gets the most out of the story's creepy vibe.

The final three episodes of the season are all from head writer Chris Chibnall, and some of them promise to reveal even more about the back-stories of Team Torchwood. Should be good.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Review: Torchwood, Episode 2.11, "Adrift"

Showrunner Chris Chibnall wrote this episode, and while its tone feels more like an episode from the first season, it also reveals how much he's developed as a writer since last season. It's not the cracky fun of Chibnall's season opener, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". Instead it's in the serious vein of a Cath Tregenna-penned story, with an emotional ending that really grips your heart. However one cares to describe it, it works very well. Horrible sound mix, though. The music and background sound effects frequently drown out the dialog.

Warning: spoilers below, please highlight the white space with your mouse to read them.

It's nice to see a Gwen-centric episode. She's seemed to be too much in the background at times this season. And, yay, PC Andy returns--and is jealous of Rhys!