Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #30



TV

Game of Thrones

The sixth season finale of the series Game of Thrones titled “The Winds of Winter” aired last Sunday on HBO and was pretty great. The episode finished a lot of on-going storylines of the series and set a path towards some sort of conclusion to the overall Game of Thrones story at some point in the near future.

If only the fifth and the rest of the sixth seasons had been as good.

lead_960During the last two seasons of Game of Thrones much of the multitude of storylines have essentially been stuck in place. Things would happen to the characters and they’d do things in reaction to them, but in the end they’d end up right in the same place they started in. The series seemed to have completely lost its momentum and didn’t seem to be headed anywhere I could discern. I’m not sure if this was because the show’s based on the popular book series, and the creators of the TV series were biding their time trying to stretch things out for the storyline of the books to catch up with the show, or if the series creators were trying to do their best at translating the story of the books to TV which meant a lot of the same stuff over and over again? Regardless, the last few seasons of Game of Thrones simply haven’t been as good as the first few.

That being said, “The Winds of Winter” seemed to do a lot to right the series’ course.

Over the years the main and secondary casts of Game of Thrones have ballooned to perhaps dozens of actors. And with a cast that big meant that some main characters were written out of the show for entire seasons while others would only get a few minutes of screen time each season.

“The Winds of Winter” seemed to have fixed those issues with many characters exiting the series while at the same time all the various storylines of the show that have played out independently for years now being brought together into a single arch.

All of which is great. While all those separate stories might have been cool in the beginning, as we slowly got more and more and more separate stories the series grew into this colossal, unmanageable beast that started to get hard to follow. I can’t tell you how many times my friend Michael had to key me onto who was who’s brother/sister/aunt/uncle and why I should be caring about them. But it seems now like things might have changed on the show for the better. Even if it means less of what makes Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones and more cues from things like The Lord of the Rings right down to how battles play out and how oaths are delivered.

Season 6: C+, “The Winds of Winter”: B+

Halt and Catch Fire

One of the best series on TV Halt and Catch Fire is set to return Tuesday, August 23 to AMC. They’re calling it a “late summer” return, but to me late August is the start of the fall TV season.

Movies

Alien observation

51d5c400496bfa693ee7d753745a91b0When we first meet the character of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien at the most she’s got a few months to live and at the least several weeks from her perspective. The events of Alien plays out over a few days and at the end of the movie Ripley goes into a frozen hyper sleep where she dozes for 57 years before being rescued. But from her perspective one second she goes to sleep and the next she’s awakened by her rescuers.

Those 57 years pass in a flash to her.

From the looks of her apartment, the fact that she has to go through legal hearings on the events that transpired in Alien and that she has enough time to get a license to use heavy machinery and work on the docks, I’d say the events of Aliens play out over the course of a few months. And again, she’s in hyper sleep on the way to Acheron with the marines and when she’s awakened I’d say that Aliens plays out over no more than a week’s time total after.

The same goes for Alien 3 — Ripley’s in hyper sleep after Aliens and is awakened on Fiorina 161 where the story plays out over the course of, again, maybe a week. And the Ripley after that in Alien Resurrection is a clone and doesn’t really count!

So from Ripley’s perspective the three original Alien trilogy movies take place over the course of the worse few months anyone’s ever experienced!

(BTW — you can thank me for it if the next Alien movie is called Alien Observation.)

Sully movie trailer

“I’ve got 40 years in the air, but in the end I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds.”

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1978: Battlestar Galactica (the original series) debuts in European cinemas
  • 1982: TRON opens in theaters
  • 1985: Back to the Future premiers in theaters
  • 1996: Independence Day opens in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #21



TV

Game of Thrones  &  Veep

Both Game of Thrones and Veep returned to HBO last week with GoT entering its sixth and Veep its fifth seasons. These two series are still pretty good, but I feel that, especially with GoT, they’ve started to slip.

game-of-thrones-season-6-1-4To me, GoT is kind’a starting to feel like The Walking Dead, where there’s no end in sight for the story with the series set to go on and on and on. Which is fine, as long as interesting things are happening on the show — which, if this were, say, the second season of GoT it’d still be good. Except that much of the GoT story this season and last has been introducing new story elements, suddenly and sometimes violently killing characters while at the same time not really ending any particular story.

Lately, the storylines of GoT is like a ballon being filled. And which each breath the ballon grows larger and larger. Next to the balloon is a sharp knife and slowly the ballon gets bigger and gets closer and closer to the knife and destruction. And when the first ballon is starting to get realllllly close to that knife another ballon appears and like the first is slowly inflated until it begins to get closer and closer another sharp, pointy knife and oblivion.

And then there’s more and more balloons introduced to the point where the tension rises and rises with each breath and expectant pop.

Except that when you look back at the first balloon, the one that had you on the edge of your seat for so long it’s not so much as touched the knife and exploded, instead all the air’s just been let out of it and since you were paying attention to all those other balloons you never noticed that instead of some fantastic explosion that first balloon ended in a big flabby mess.

To me, that’s the formula of GoT. Lots of stories are introduced and lots of exciting things happen, but there’s not much closure or resolution on anything.

There’s still a war, the great GoT “houses” still don’t like each other and the series is full of characters only looking out for themselves. And much of this feels like it’s in place to keep the show in a “steady state.” That if we look back on GoT in a few years time maybe the faces have changed, but the stories will have not.

I’ve heard arguments that the stories of GoT are like real life. That these things really do happen and people really do look out for themselves. And that’s true, except that GoT isn’t real life. It’s a fictional story with dragons and magic and zombies. Which to me means that GoT really should be heading towards some conclusion. I get that maybe this conclusion might be the conclusion of part of the story and not the conclusion of the story as a whole. But it should seem like overall GoT is headed somewhere. Otherwise, GoT is just covering the same unique territory it covered in the first season but it doesn’t feel all that “unique” all these years later.

Veep, on the other hand has done a good job of changing and morphing as the series has progressed. The first season started with the title character Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as the Vice President of the US, then changed with her having delusions of power as she became the actual President as the President she served under stepped down. Now Meyer’s in an election fight on three sides with her holding onto the office in doubt.

Aliens Defiance

Aliens Defiance

To me, Veep works best in short, controlled bursts. The first season of the series had eight episodes while later ones ten. Which isn’t many extra — but it does seem like when the creators of Veep are forced to be focused with a limited run like with the first season, Veep is a much more focused show. With more episodes sometimes the story wanders a bit, and I wonder if it’s more because that’s what the writers wanted to do, or if it’s because they had to create more content for the longer season?

Game of Thrones – Grade B- Veep – Grade B+

Comics

Out now is Aliens: Defiance #1 from Dark Horse. What makes me interested in his comic is the cover artist; Mark A. Nelson. Nelson drew the very first Aliens title for Dark Horse back in 1988 and this image marks a sort of return for the artist to a character he hasn’t drawn in quite some time.

Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse trailer

“Just because there’s not a war doesn’t mean there’s peace.”

“Not all of us can control our powers.”
“Then don’t.”

Toys

NECA is set to release even more toys from the movie Aliens (1986) this time based on the characters of Vasquez and Frost. They already have a few figures released from that movie including Bishop, Ripley, Hicks and Hudson. Which makes me wonder if NECA is planning on releasing all of the A and B squad Colonial Marines?

On the Horizon

I’ve got columns in the works/planned for the X-Men film franchise, Independence Day: Resurgence, the movies of 1986, Suicide Squad and Star Trek too.




Meet a bloody end with Game of Thrones



Last spring the TV series Game of Thrones ended its fifth season on HBO. While I’m usually a huge fan of the series I didn’t much care for last season. I think that’s partly because this season seemed to be building up to … something. Previous seasons of the show told a long, complex story whereas this season seemed to be leading to another season.

Stephen Dillane and Liam Cunningham

Stephen Dillane and Liam Cunningham

To be sure this year there were stories of characters consolidating power and others where they made plans but a lot of the story felt mostly static. I’m not one of those people who demands action and battles from series like Game of Thrones but I think there should be something interesting happening to keep the viewer’s interest. Which I think was sorely lacking most of this season.

I do wonder how much the creators of Game of Thrones series were hurt that they had to follow the Game of Thrones novels? What I mean is that if they weren’t following the story set by the novels I think this season would’ve gone in a different direction altogether. That rather on focusing on a lot of lead up and not a lot of payoff they could have instead told something else altogether.

I don’t think it helps matters that each episode of Game of Thrones tells stories of multiple characters. Since there were many different storylines and characters that were being followed meant that most characters only got a few minutes of screen time each episode. Meaning their season-stories probably only covered an hour or so of television at most per character.

And how can characters grow and change in just an hour each year?

Worst of all I don’t think it had to be this way. Looking back on the season it seemed that several storylines could’ve easily been cut. These stories had no value other than to take characters from A to B then back to A again without much happening. I get the sense that some of this were in place just to keep all of the actors working and having equal screen time but I think that really hurt the overall quality of the show.

Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer

Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer

All of which is bad, but what just might have turned me off to Game of Thrones for good was the cruelty on display this season.

To be sure Game of Thrones has always been a show that depicted humainty’s cruelty towards humanity. The series has never shied away from characters being killed, maimed and mutilated. In fact this has been one of the hallmarks of the show. But recently some of that cruelty seemed to be in place for shock value alone.

This season character of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was raped by her cruel and malevolent husband Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). Which was upsetting especially since we’ve known the character of Sansa since the actress was 15. And the creators of the show didn’t shy away from depicting the act on screen, later defending themselves by saying that these sorts of things happen in real life.

Which is true. Except that of all the acts of cruelty that happened OFF-screen over the years why was did one have to be ON-screen?

And then another character Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) whom we’ve known since the actress was 14 was taken by her father and burned alive at the stake this season. She screams for him to stop but he won’t since he’s seeking to be granted a favor from the gods. Ugh.

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke

Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke

Which makes me think of a show like The Walking Dead. I used to like The Walking Dead just fine and was a big fan of the show up until a few seasons ago. That’s when I realized that it’d become little more than “bad things happening to good people” the TV series. If you like becoming invested in characters only to see them meet a brutal, gory end then The Walking Dead’s for you! It’s a series where characters are seemingly introduced one week in order to die screaming the next.

And that’s kind’a where I think Game of Thrones is right now. For some reason the creators of that show think that showing bad things happening to good characters makes for good TV, but it doesn’t. It’s a cheap way to get people talking about a series for all the wrong reasons.

I lost the stomach for this sort of thing with The Walking Dead and stopped watching it and feel like I’m starting to lose my stomach for it with Game of Thrones too.




Game of Thrones Imax posters



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The best TV series of 2014



The last several years, this one included, the new fall TV season has been underwhelming at best and just plain bad at worst. It’s not like there aren’t any interesting new shows on in the fall anymore, it’s just that there are so few of them. If the fall season is so blargh, then lately the winter, spring and summer TV seasons have been a true joy. In fact, you won’t find a single series here that started in the fall. Each and every one was a non-fall show.

The methods I use to determine my “best of” lists changes every year. Sometimes I try to rank the shows best to worst throughout the year and sometimes it’s simply based on my mood when compiling the list at the end of the year. That being said, this year I did things a bit differently. The list this year is mostly based on how much I wanted to watch a season of a show again after having finished it. And the show that kept coming to the top of my list when thinking about this was The Americans on FX.

The Americans

Phillip Jennings: “The KGB is everywhere.”

The "normal" Jennings family

The “normal” Jennings family

The Americans is the rare series that’s actually about something. The first season of the show was about what it’s like to be a married couple in the US in the guise of a 1980s period spy drama of USSR vs USA and this season was about what it takes to get someone to betray their ideals in pursuit of a greater cause.

Here, characters Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) are KGB agents posing as a normal married American couple in early 1980s Washington DC but they’re really Soviet sleeper agents out to bring down the red white and blue. In this most recent season, Philip and Elizabeth are trying to uncover the secrets of new stealth technology while at the same time hunting the killer of another KGB family that was a mirror of the Jennings’.

What was really interesting with The Americans this season were the places series creators were willing to go. Be it with the murder of an entire family, Elizabeth mentoring an young idealist agent who shares the same ideals whom Elizabeth must sacrifice for the greater good to Phillip and Elizabeth learning that while mother Russia might want Phillip and Elizabeth to make sacrifices for “the cause,” that’s nothing compared to what they have in store for their children.

Halt and Catch Fire

Joe MacMillan: “I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about legacy.”
Cameron Howe: “You’re not the future, you’re a footnote.

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Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire

I’m not sure how or why, but I seem to be the only critic out there who liked Halt and Catch Fire, let alone loved it. Some have complained that Halt is too much like Mad Men with it taking place in the corporate world, having a young woman as an up and coming employee with a strong male with a self destructive streak in the lead. As if only Mad Men were allowed to do this or even that Mad Men is far from the first series to play out this way.

Regardless, I was enamored where Halt went with certain characters being plowed under by the stress of trying to create a new PC in the early 1980s and others rising to the challenge. And not to spoil the ending of the first season too much, but if every other show out there is about people building something great and successful, Halt was about building something that turned out to be, at best, average. I’m not sure any show has ever done that before.

Hannibal

Hannibal Lecter: “Occasionally I drop a teacup to shatter on the floor. On purpose. I’m not satisfied when it doesn’t gather itself up again. Someday, perhaps a cup will come together.”

2013-blog-hannibal-hugh-madsIf the first season of Hannibal was about FBI detective Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) trying to track down a serial killer who they don’t realize is Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), then the second season is about the FBI trying to catch Lecter in a trap and jail him for the murders. Except the one guy you don’t try and trap is the guy who’s going to be ahead of you every step of the way setting traps of his own.

True Detective

If Hannibal was head-trippy then True Detective was acid-trippy. It’s a show that seems to divide up my friends nicely. Some of whom loved it and character Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) ramblings about the intricacies of good and evil in an uncaring universe while others hated the show and found the series to over the top and boring.

Community

In its fifth season Community returned with series creator Dan Harmon back at the helm after an absence of a year and returned a sheen of greatness to a series that had faltered in recent years.

Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

Even if micro-series Sherlock is only three episodes long, they’re some of the best hours you’ll spend in front of the television. If there’s anything I’m worried about with Sherlock is that while there are two season’s of the show left, Sherlock star  Benedict Cumberbatch is now on the verge of uber-stardom with recently being cast as Doctor Strange in a Marvel movie and I can’t see him wanting to stick with Sherlock any longer than he’s contractually obligated to do so.

Game of Thrones

I find it humorous when people binge-watch past seasons of something like Game of Thrones in a few days or weeks. They have absolutely no idea of the excruciating wait between new seasons that makes viewer’s wait nearly 10 months between the end of a season and the start of the next agonizing. I’m not complaining, though. When it’s on Game of Thrones is the best thing on TV. I do wonder if it had aired in the fall rather than spring if Game of Thrones wouldn’t have made an appearance much higher on this list?

Orange is the New Black

Taylor Schilling

Taylor Schilling

While Orange is the New Black did start off a bit slow this season and focused on more characters than Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as in the first — the sure sign that someone is trying to stretch out a show into multiple seasons — I thought the back half of Orange was just as good as the first season of the show.

Veep

Another great year for a great comedy almost no one’s talking about. Here’s to President Meyer!

The Knick

Writer/Director Steven Soderbergh returned to TV with The Knick, a series about a hospital at the turn of the 20th century New York City. In The Knick, medicine is taking leaps and bounds forward like never before. Even if it means that most people who go into the hospital end up dying there or that having a doctor like John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) hooked on cocaine is not only legal, it’s normal.