Showing posts with label TV Show. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV Show. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Obi-Wan Kenobi - Episode 3 review

 Oh, so much ground to cover for a Wednesday. But Ben comes first. I'll save the other exciting events of the week for the weekend. 


Episode 3 picks up where the last episode ended. Ben and Leia are on the run from the Inquisitors. This episode is odd because it solidifies what happened in the Clone Wars cartoon while seeming to undercut what happened in Rebels. There are a ton of shout-outs to both series in this episode. 

In the last Episode, Reva betrayed the Grand Inquisitor and makes a powerplay with the rest of the Inquisitors. She jumps in the driver's seat and takes the Empire for a spin. She manages to locate and isolate Ben and Leia, which of course leads to typical Empiric missteps. Often, Star Wars plays these types of events for laughs but Ben's encounter with stormtroopers is anything but funny. The two heroes end up on the short bus with a bunch of stormtroopers which could have been played for laughs but instead, we get sorrow and tension before the stormtroopers learn to just walk away. 

Meanwhile Third Sister, or Reva if you like, tries to get the Empire back on Ben's track. She is only partially successful. This is what I like in a villainous character, driven but totally luckless. Reva and the other Inquisitors are forever stuck in a battle of brawn more than will. Where the others are ruthless, Reva is honest. That is one of the most dastardly traits of a villain. She has an awareness of what the Inquisitors are and doesn't fully mean to emulate them. Much to their pain. 

The big cameo is Vader's appearance, a direct result of Reva's power-grabbing stunts. It's a pity that the other Inquisitors are unable to learn from past mistakes and can only emulate important actions. Which leads to vying for power and bad ideas.  

Emperor Claudius

I've had a theory since seeing Rogue One, which is weird because Rogue One is in Obi-Wan's future. In the original three Star Wars films, Vader was a beast. There was nothing scarier than that black suit and dark breathing. But it comes at a cost. There is only so much energy he has to spend. When not in the suit, he's in the tank just trying to be ready to get in the suit. He is worn out, exhausted from the constant pain of his injuries. This was very evident in Rogue One and to a lesser extent, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It comes back in Obi-Wan Kenobi, as Vader sits on his throne. He is more Claudius than Conan. 

He's not his best by any measure. Perhaps a better analogy would be Vader and Tiberius. 

This is the Vader we get in Kenobi. While weak, he dominates the stage, making everything seem small and cramped. This episode opens up the world when Leia and Ben are on the road through deserts and mines, but everything collapses in when they are being stalked by the Empire. 
As the trap closes on Ben and Leia, the scenes take on a more realistic tone. The lightsabres are back to being physical objects as they were in the first 3 movies. Their glow is powerful, almost overdone pitting Ben's blue light against the red of Vader's blade. There is not a hell of a lot of swordplay here. The two battle like boxers coming off the ropes, which makes a lot of sense. Ben is older and Vader is maimed. 

Like the last episode, a lot of smaller characters make their way into the action hinting at a much larger world. Like Rebels, these people play a role they do not completely understand. We don't have a rebellion just yet. But boy is one brewing up. 

The episode ends in a cliffhanger as Reva almost captures what she needs. Curiously, she ends the episode spouting kindness and reassurance, which is the last thing you want from a villain. 

I look forward to the next episode. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Lost Room - Mini Series Review

Ah... 2006's The Lost Room, a Sci-Fi Channel 6 hour mini-series starring Peter Krause. Worldbuilding and magic objects make this show go. "It opens every door," and then some. 

Krause stars as a divorced dad and Pittsburg police detective, Joe Miller. This is exactly the point where most but not all of the police procedural ends and the crazy begins. The series opens with a series of murders at a pawnshop with the number one suspect missing. Finding this guy is the key to The Lost Room. Joe finds his man dying from unknown causes and with his last breath, he places a key in Joe's hand. 

From there, Joe's world spins out of control. You can try the trailer to try to get a sense of what's happening, but it doesn't quite cover it. 

Joe finds every door opens with the key, yet returning to the door he entered doesn't work as it should. He hops from a sun-drenched hotel room off of Route 66... circa 1960 to many different points around the world. Through trial and error, he makes his way home. Joe's daughter , Anna disappears into the room sending Joe on an insane quest to learn the secrets of the room to bring his child back. And to clear his name of Anna's murder. 

While it sounds like a bit from Monsters, Inc., the lost room is even odder than a one-eyed Mike Wazowski, Boo, and Sully dropping acid. 

The world Joe and his daughter disappear into is one of creative storytelling with 100 objects cast minor characters to build a story of consistent insanity. Consistent enough to create a warped police procedural. Every item has a purpose, every purpose leads Joe step by step back to the room and his daughter, with every step, bringing a crazed 60s hip mythology to life through magical items. Items that call to people, items that are collected and killed for, the Objects of desire with a horrible price. 

I wish I could say this mini-series was amazing, but it's really middle of the road. Peter Krauss and Ellie Fanning deliver, the story as wonky and compelling, but somehow the story never really progressed to satisfaction. It could be that Sci-Fi Channels' treatment of the story as a backdoor series pilot is to blame. Or maybe the internal consistency was not meant or able to progress to a regular serialized TV show. I'm not sure. 

It was well written, nicely filmed with interesting locations, and still didn't quite rise to what it could have been. In rewatching in 2021, it is still as intriguing and crazy as it was in 2006. A modern-era Twilight Zone that didn't get the same traction as that other, more sustaining TV show. It has many of the same weird vibes as the X-Files without being locked at the turn of the century. 

I give it a strong 3 of 5 stars. 

You can pick up a DVD with the original 3 episodes parcelled out as 6 one hour episodes plus an 18-minute featurette called "Inside the Lost Room". On the DVD, the episodes have the following titles: 

  1. The Key,
  2. The Clock,
  3. The Comb,
  4. The Box,
  5. The Eye,
  6. The Occupant.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Stargate Universe Review


"What if you took Stargate and made it darker, sexier and edgier?", said no fan ever. This show swiped the best of BGS and mashed it up with some great music, in front of a gate. It probably wasn't very good material for Stargate fans. 

But it was a really good show. I'd give it 4 of 5 stars. 

The actors were top-notch, the pacing slower, the sense of discovery was put at the forefront. Probably too much at the forefront. They wiped their butts with whatever Stargate had established. 

But it was good TV and science fiction. They stole a couple of key concepts from the series that came before it and ran like hell with them. The communication stones from the original show were placed front and center in the plot. These devices popped up in Season 8 of Stargate. "Citizen Joe" was probably meant to be a "cheap, one-off " episode to save on cast and film costs, but it was frakking brilliant.  SGU took that simple idea and made the speculative science fiction and flipped it towards contemplative. What does it mean to be "someone" if you can trade places? 

Like that one episode of Stargate, SGU tries to get into the head of the watcher by leaning on the contemplative. Some of the time, it worked. There were a lot of misses, but you could see the direction the show was taking. 

The show has many callbacks to some hard sci-fi, stuff so hard that it often isn't recognized as sci-fi at all. My personal favorite episode was "Trial and Error" which is a close crib of The Defence of Duffer's Drift. Capt Young experiences a series of dreams where the ship comes under attack. These dreams are the Destiny's attempts to communicate with the crew directly to determine their capabilities. It doesn't work well because as a program, the ship was expecting a commander to have all the answers, not to be the head of a team that creates answers on the fly. Young was exposed to his own failings and it became personal. Very personal. 

Another episode zig-zagged from high action romps back to the speculative. In Season One the episode "Time", the crew finds a Keno camera that recorded their deaths in an alternative universe which provides some answers to their current situation, again ask "who are you, if it's not really you?" 

Much of this show asks the question, "What does it mean to be x?". While Stargate was probably not the best vehicle for this contemplative study, it was very engrossing.