Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cuba and North Korea

Wow, what a day. Obama is normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the Senate confirmed a dozen judges, including three in Texas. (Plus they confirmed the Surgeon General nominee earlier this week.) I read that Obama can't lift the embargo on Cuba without Congress approval, but he can establish an embassy and allow trade. I hope things can change; it's been decades of nothing, and the Cold War is over.

In other news, I was disappointed that Sony pulled The Interview, because of the threats. I'm not sure I really believe that these "Guardians of Peace" hackers are actually North Koreans, because surely they would want to destroy some more important US target than Hollywood films. I do know that Sony had been hacked since Thanksgiving, and had many leaks, so they had to take the threats seriously, but it's still discouraging that all the movie theaters had to drop the film. I wanted to see it because I do enjoy Rogen and Franco together; it reminds me of their Freaks and Geeks days.

Anyway, I think that the hackers are being counterproductive. If they had ignored this movie, it would have been just a silly comedy that might get lost in the shuffle of way too many Christmas movies this year, and would be forgotten. But instead, the hackers have just drawn attention to it and given it way too much publicity. That's why it seems to me that the hackers must have some other motive, and they're just using the movie controversy for cover. I wish Sony would release the film some other way, but for now I guess I just have more money to see other movies this Christmas. Oh, and to buy the Season 4 Arrested Development DVD.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Peter Pan

I watched the NBC live musical this week and couldn't really get into it. I've never read J. M. Barrie's play, only his novel, and I think I would have preferred a play instead of a musical. It felt like way too many songs (and I've heard they added songs to the original musical), and with the commercials stretching it out to 3 hours, I got so bored. I only really liked two of the songs, the lullaby sung by Mrs. Darling and the True Blood Brothers song, carefully reworked to be less offensive to Native Americans. (Also loved the actress playing Tiger Lilly.) I thought the show was going well once Peter taught the kids to fly and they went to Neverland, but instead all the action shut down for a scene on the Jolly Rodger.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pinkertons The Series

Apparently I missed this news back in July when I was abroad, but there's now a Canadian-made TV show about the Pinkerton National Detective Agency set in the 1860s. It's a syndicated show, and I only stumbled on it when my Tivo suggested it to me. I caught the third episode, so I'll have to see if they'll rerun the two that I missed.

It's an action-adventure detective series, set in the Wild West. It's post Civil War, and the episode I saw featured a lot of discussion of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. (One of the characters was the famous actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth.) They also mentioned the time that Kate Warne guarded Lincoln all night during the train ride to his inauguration. She is the reason for the Agency's "we never sleep" slogan. The show apparently focuses mainly on Kate Warne and William Pinkerton, with his father Allan Pinkerton occasionally appearing. I don't know how much is historically accurate and how much is dramatic license, but I'm glad for any show to publicize Kate Warne more. The show is made with cooperation from the modern Pinkerton Corporation, so I wonder if they will whitewash any connection of Pinkerton agents with unionbusting activities. I suppose that an adventure show would steer clear of politics.

I like Kate Warne in this show. In the episode, she actually got to investigate much of the murder by herself while William was away getting forensics tests run on the body. Kate is capable of some chemical tests too, and she mentions the real life 1863 blood test recommended by the German chemist Schonbein. (That made me wonder why Sherlock Holmes needed to invent his own blood test, but then I read online that the hydrogen peroxide test was not infallible, and was only a first stage screening.) Anyway, Kate also got to participate in the action stunts as well. She's all heroine and no femme fatale so far. It seems like this show will be a lot of fun. It's a fantastic world where we can pretend that Kate won't die young and be forgotten.

Happy Holidays

Well, Thanksgiving's over and the Christmas specials have arrived. The TV networks are preparing for midseason, and I guess I'll check stuff out. I was rather surprised by the sudden cancellation of The Millers on CBS, but I guess it's better than drawing it out and trying to retool it, like Will's last show Up All Night. It wasn't that bad a sitcom, and I liked that they finally sold the yoga cafe, and the wife went to work while the husband was happy to stay home with the kid. We don't see that too often. The last episode with the Big Bang Theory references probably should have aired earlier, but it was appropriate meta commentary like used to be on Arrested Development. Stan Sitwell even guest starred as a hippie.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Satisfied

Wow, I was surprised to hear that Forever got a full season order; I like the show, but thought it was doomed because of its ratings. It may be true that ABC has nothing better to fill the timeslot, but at least the show has a chance to possibly improve. Perhaps in the remaining episodes the writers can get a better balance between procedural cases and the enigma of Adam, the other immortal.

I hope that Elementary's ratings improve too, especially after the excellent episode last night. "Five Orange Pipz" actually featured pips (in this case, colored beads for a kid's toy), and incorporated character names and canon quotes. It gave me such warm fuzzies. Yeah, this is how you effectively use a title from the canon; when it makes actual sense in the show! The writers don't have to copy the original story completely, seeing as it involved the Ku Klux Klan and Sherlock Holmes stupidly sending his client to his death instead of letting him stay in Baker Street for the night, but the dramatic element of five pips sent through the mail as a warning of impending assassination, was incorporated into a nice modern story. The only plot hole I could think of was the driver who insisted that he saw the famous attorney and Elias Openshaw meet on the street. But they suggested that the witness might have made a mistake; it's also possible that Openshaw recognized the attorney and ran from her before she noticed him. See, that's how you adapt a tale and make a competent mystery, (unlike some idiot hacks at BBC Sherlock).

Apart from the case, I also liked Joan and Bell getting to discuss Kitty, then Holmes telling Joan part of Kitty's past, and then Kitty giving the okay for Joan to read the envelope stuff. Nice character development, and I am fully on board with this season, even if they continue to insist on only writing murders every damn episode. I feel hopeful that we're going somewhere definite with Kitty Winter, and that maybe the villain this year will be Baron Gruner, instead of Moriarty. We'll see.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Over Marvel

Speaking of TV, I'm disgusted that stores are already advertising Christmas sales. It's too soon after Halloween, and stores are gonna make their staff work ridiculous hours for Thanksgiving.

Anyway TV networks are starting to announce midseason shows now, and I am wondering if I should watch the Agent Carter series when it premieres. It sounds like it will be a good, female-centric show, and yet I hated Agents of SHIELD, and the writing was awful. The character I really wanted to learn about, Melinda May, was always just flat and stoic, while Coulson's mystery had no real answers. So why should I think Agent Carter would be any less hateable?

I'm kind of over Marvel nowadays. They hype their brand too much, and have hubris. I finally watched the Guardians of the Galaxy movie recently and found it meh. I don't know why it was so universally praised in the summer. I mean, it was fun with the songs and the action adventure, but it was nothing special. We got no elaboration on Gamora's backstory as an "adopted daughter" who was the favorite. She just announced to Quill that she was going to betray her father by selling the orb, but didn't say why or how she planned to get away with it. Besides, if she hated her father all along, then why did she choose this moment to defy him? She didn't know yet that the orb contained an infinity stone, and could destroy the world. Why is her sister just a minor villain, barely fleshed out with "I'm jealous of my sister" motives? Then on a dime Nebula suddenly decides to join her father's enemy as if all along she too wanted to betray their father. What paper-thin emotions they have, purely for plot device. I mean, I can accept a talking raccoon and a tree, but if the story doesn't make sense, then why should I suspend my disbelief? Try harder, guys.