season pass

I find that I barely watch actual movies any more, because they all suck. But Sleep Dealer was fantastic, and you should watch it at once. It reminded me of Varley's Blue Champagne mixed with Haldeman's Forever Peace.

Also Moon was really good.

I can't actually remember any other movies I saw this year that I enjoyed. (Oh, Up. That was cute.)

Then there's the televisions.

The Prisoner This was kind of amazing. Ian McKellen does a fantastic Mr. Roarke, it's very surreal, and the final reveal of what's really going on was interesting and something I hadn't seen before.

Flash Forward I've been enjoying this. It feels like Lost but with less of the bullshit. I read the book it was based on which is ok (but not great). I think the changes the show has made from the book have actually improved matters, which is unusual.

Stargate Universe     I almost hated the first episode ("Did I really watch two hours whose plot was 'find the broken window'?"), but it grew on me. They're addressing the resource-scarcity of the stranded crew more than any similar shows have, and there's a lot less comedy than in the other Stargate shows. I hope that the magic "talk to Earth" rocks stop working soon. It would be much more intense without that lifeline. Also, Lou Diamond Phillips is annoying.

V To my great surprise, this has been not-terrible so far. I expected to hate it, because "hate" is the only sensible reaction to a (purportedly) science fiction show that features a priest as one of its main characters. That tells you that the writers expect to do a lot of hand-wringing about "faith" versus "science" (or as I like to call it, "reality"). Fortunately, this priest doesn't actually seem to be very interested in priesting, so that's been ok so far. I enjoyed the David Icke-isms, and that they didn't bother beating around the bush about getting the resistance going.

Dollhouse This show followed the same pattern that Buffy did: the entire first season was slow-moving poorly-plotted terribly-acted garbage, and then he pulled it out of the crapper for the last two episodes of the season, which were like they were from a different show entirely. Season 2 has been much better than season 1, but of course now it's going to be cancelled (again). If you end up watching any of this, fast-forward through an episode or two from season one, then watch the two parter finale in 11 and 12, plus the future-apocalypse episode 13 (which never aired, because it's the best episode of the whole series, and you wouldn't want anyone to actually see that.)

House I grudgingly admit that a doctor show can be worth my time.

Castle I grudgingly admit that a cop show can be worth my time. But only because Nathan Fillion is fun to watch. The actual plots are completely unmemorable.

The Venture Brothers   This season is not wowwing me so far.
Dexter Fading. But still good.
Californication Consistently hilarious.
30 Rock Consistently hilarious.
Supernatural Often dumb. Occasionally hilarious.

Why am I still watching this crap:

Heroes Apparently something went wrong with Tivo and I missed almost an entire season. And yet, apparently I missed nothing, except an explanation of why Whiny Blonde's power changed, and why Indian Dude isn't a lizardman any more. (Things about which I apparently don't even remotely care.)

Sanctuary I watch most of this in fast forward or while playing games on my phone.
Fringe Well, it's not as bad as Sanctuary.
Lost Isn't it over yet? If I could fast-forward to the series finale episode, I'd do that right now.
True Blood Season 2 was a lot better than season 1. Faint praise.

Eagerly awaiting more of:

Mad Men
United States of Tara
Doctor Who Though the xmas special sucked.
Burn Notice
Tags: , , ,

85 Responses:

  1. poitoi says:

    No metalocalypse??? =P

    and i don;t know if you like south park, but this new season has been REALLY good, as opposed to their last.... many seasons.

    that's about all the TV i watch though....

    Sleep dealer looks cooool!

    • jwz says:

      Metalocalypse is one of the least funny thing I've ever seen.

      I haven't watched South Park since about 2/3rds of the way through season 1.

      • krick says:

        Speaking of Adult Swim... Did you manage to catch "Frisky Dingo"? It only ran two seasons, but it's full of awesome. If you want to check out one episode to get a taste, try to find "The Grate Escape".

    • ctd says:

      Sleep Dealer is a great low-budg SF movie done right, brought down to "pretty good" by extreme political heavy-handedness.

      Also: "Community" has plenty of good geekiness.

  2. edouardp says:

    I hardly get to see any movies any more, but I did enjoy "District 9" a lot. Up was great too.

    • jwz says:

      I hated District 9. A lot.

      • gryazi says:

        Missed my chance to see it in a theater. The visual style looked spot on (as far as trailers) and the plot sounded only forgivably semi-retarded compared to the usual space opera.

        Make me feel better, what sucked?

        • jwz says:

          It was bad science and worse fiction. The technology made no sense. The biology made no sense. The politics made no sense. The main character was portrayed with the "underdog hero" treatment but he was really a two-bit fascist who only did anything good accidentally and out of pure self-interest.

          The effects were mostly ok though.

          • gryazi says:

            Aha. [Has the science ever made sense?]

            The self-interest-of-the-character thing (which I read a couple different English majors' interpretations of in magazine reviews) seems like a fairly common trope in Actual Science Fiction (anything by Heinlein, most of everything printed in or faved by Analog), so I thought that was supposed to come off as "novel" on screen compared to the usual USian/Hollywood stereotypes.

            Seemed (from hearsay) like the politics were supposed to make no sense the way electric sheep really make no sense, but hearing that none of this made it enjoyable makes me happier I spent those 90 minutes of my life writing comments on Livejournal instead.

    • miguelitosd says:

      2nd. Especially since they had just started to really line up the story arc and... *ding* gone.

      Starting to want to just avoid an entire first season of any show to see if it's going to survive before getting into it or not. Then can get DVDs or off iTMS or whatever to catch up.

  3. skywaterblue says:

    X-Mas special? The one with the giant Power Rangers Cyberman? Yeah, that blew ass.

    But there's been two new episodes since then. Unless you're planning on watching the whole specials year in one blow, you should get 'em. One is a tolerably fun hour, the other is tolerable until the last fifteen minutes which are awesome.

    I heard the Prisoner sucked, but only from people who love the original. I assume you saw the British version and still liked this new one?

    • jwz says:

      I meant the one with the bus that went through the wormhole into the desert. That's the last one that BBCA has aired, I think. And that blew.

      I hated the original Prisoner. But I also hated all Dr. Who prior to 2005.

      • skywaterblue says:

        I didn't hate it, but neither was it mind-blowingly good. Dubai is very pretty. What's her name's butt in leather pants was very pretty. David Tennant is very pretty. Nothing else happened in it. Maybe there was a bus.

        You know what the New Prisoner trailer looked like? That episode. Plus Ian McKellen.

      • gfish says:

        Ah, the Easter special. Not sure when BBCA will be airing The Water of Mars, but it only aired in the UK this last weekend.

        • holywar says:

          I've seen a couple of commercials for it, I think it's mid-December.

        • kowh says:

          It's also not much better than the Christmas special.

          Most of the episode is tired by the numbers horror material, capped by an attempt to do something new with the doctor that is ruined by being so hamfisted about it.

  4. waider says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but is this a remake of the V mini-series, or a new show, or what? I saw some reference to Icke-vs-V yesterday (roughly, "what do you expect from a man who thinks V is a documentary") and found it weird that something I'd watched and read in the '80s was being brought up for a comparison point.

    • chuck_lw says:

      >I saw some reference to Icke-vs-V yesterday (roughly, "what do you expect from a man who thinks V is a documentary")...

      I'm wondering if some of the conspiracy theorists will claim "V is trying to mislead people into believing that some of the Reptilians can be good."

      I know there's at least a couple people who don't think the theoretical Reptilians are universally evil. But, for the most part, the people who talk about this stuff seem to think "Reptilian=BAD!" I think that kind of stereotyping is unnecessarily hateful toward our imaginary modern-day bogeymen. (Or am I engaging in a misinformation campaign?)

      • jwz says:

        Just like Wormhole Xtreme tried to convince us that there was no Stargate program!

      • gryazi says:

        I may have only caught the first(?) episode - not sure, because it was after the writeup I'm about to mention - but V became completely intolerable when Time pointed out they were giving the Galactica-type 'srsness' treatment to every single right-wing birther trope. ...and then threw in the TERRARISM CONSPIR-AH-SEE thing on top of it, which jumped the shark right into orbit (nice trick!) but means I'll have to hear coworkers blathering about how "clever" and "intelligent" and "it really makes you think" it is for months to come.

        (The same coworkers who are likely to still be forwarding around shit like that White-House-in-a-watermelon-field picture. And it's not even that I'm so partisan, I'm just sick of the stupidity and the... can "Palining" be a verb now?)

        Outside of that whinge, it really is just exceedingly weird to see them try to remake what was basically a feel-good us-vs.-them Cold-War-was-still-on thing for the current era of WTFery. Again, I can only assume Galactica's success made them figure "why the hell not?", but if this thing has a message other than "attempts to court eyeballs from Reagan-era-nostalgic demographics," I'm not sure what it could possibly be. [Then again, you could say the same for Galactica and Carter-era-nostalgic eyeballs, but I'm not sure what the big Keanu-'woah' point was there, either. Evil cyborgs is people, too?]

        Maybe I'm just snarky because I have to climb on the roof and re-aim the electron-catcher before I can ever see House non-time-shifted again.

        • gryazi says:

          "Bringing up American politics" mathematically simplifies to Godwin's Law, doesn't it?

          captcha: errors The

        • belgand says:

          What amazes me even more is that it's based on "It Can't Happen Here" which inherently relies on an internal threat operating through conventional channels. When you make it an external threat you entirely rob it of the original work's meaning. Yeah, it's a remake of V, not a remake of the work that ended up as V because the network rejected the original, but still. After the Bush years you'd think people would be increasingly susceptible to the idea of a fascist government taking control. Not to go into crazy territory, but the idea that it can't actually happen here is still surprisingly strong. Even with the massive erosions of civil liberties we've already experienced.

          • gryazi says:

            "Yeah, it's a remake of V, not a remake of the work that ended up as V because the network rejected the original, but still."

            I am not enough of a fanboy to interpret this sentence. Which Wikipedia article should I refer to?

            [Speaking of things that come out even snarkier than intended.. but srsly, whut? Something completely different got knocked down in favor of the 1980s series that actually ran?]

            • jwz says:

              What he's trying to say is: when the original V was pitched to the network, it wasn't a science fiction show, it was about an internal fascist takeover of the government. The network said "well, how about if it was aliens instead?"

              The new V is a remake of the old V, not a remake of the purported and mostly-discarded source material of the old V.

            • belgand says:

              Well, apparently the first V miniseries was originally intended to be more closely based on "It Can't Happen Here" and was shot down by the network (Wikipedia claims they cited it as being "too cerebral"). It was instead reworked to be about aliens taking over the Earth rather than an American politician taking over the US.

              The original book was a pre-WWII (1935) satire of an American Hitler analogue taking over using almost exactly the same tactics. Eventually he gets forced out in a coup and the new leaders trump up a war against Mexico as an attempt to retain power through patriotic fervor.

              Perhaps the best thing is to simply get people to actually study history. The same things keep happening over and over again (watching Babylon 5 right now I notice quite a lot of things that could be directed at the current political situation despite pre-dating them by a decade) and people keep falling for them.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, it's a remake of the 80s series.

  5. krick says:

    Big Bang Theory

      • belgand says:

        One of the worst shows I've ever seen. It's the geek equivalent of someone's dad badly misusing slang to appear cool. Backed up by an utterly bland and intolerable three-camera, laugh tracked sitcom. The jokes are even the same, they just skimmed Wikipedia for something they thought was geeky and subbed it in like a Mad Lib.

  6. wyndebreaker says:

    Moon was really good, but, having seen Blade Runner so many times, it took me about 1 minute to guess what was wrong with Sam.

    • aris1234 says:

      Moon was quite good - considering how few humans were in the movie. Interestingly it was directed by Duncan Jones - son of David Bowie.

      • Yeah.

        Apparently Spacey didn't agree to voice Gerty until after the film was shot. He was on the fence, and only afterward did he sign on.

    • That was actually what I liked about Moon. They could have dealt with that a little sooner, but they certainly didn't drag it out for the whole movie. They pretty much introduced it as the premise, and just went forward from there.

  7. jwm says:

    Has their been a Christmas episode of Dr Who that didn't suck?

    (True Blood is amusing, but not nearly as good as Being Human. What I've seen of Chuck has
    been entertaining, if only for Adam Baldwin. I still miss The Middleman.)

    • dasht says:

      Dr. Who "specials" traditionally suck very badly. Think: Star Wars Christmas Special level of suck. It's part of the tradition. You can't ditch it any more than you can permanently ditch jelly babies or the sonic screwdriver. Which ("sonic screwdriver") should, of course, be the name of the bartender's-choice-drink-o'-the-day.


    • jwz says:

      Being Human was ok. (I hear they're remaking it in American. Fortunately the remake of No Heroics wasn't picked up.)

  8. solarbird says:

    Castle is probably the worst show I've ever liked without irony. Damn you, Nathan Fillion. Damn you to hell.

    (Also, Esposito and Ryan are totally slash bait at this point. I'm just waiting for the fandomsecrets to show up. They're doing this shit on purpose, I'm sure.)

    I liked Doctor Two: The Waters of Mars quite a bit.

  9. dr_memory says:

    God, I'm still trudging along with House, but increasingly I can't remember why. Hugh Laurie could make a dramatic reading of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting minutes sound interesting, but it's pretty clear at this point that the writers ran out of interesting ideas somewhere around the end of season 4.

    • belgand says:

      I dropped out at the end of Season 2 or so when it became obvious that every single episode was exactly the same formula.

      But you speak the truth. Hugh Laurie is just so damn watchable and does such a great job with the character. A shame we can't find a way to put him into an interesting show.

  10. shmooilk says:

    I liked Community. It was actually funny, a rarity these days. You should try it.

    Thanks for the recommendations.

    • dougo says:

      Seconded. It's got a little of the 30 Rock energy.

      • belgand says:

        It's inconsistently funny, but I watch it because almost everything else I like has been canceled over the past few years.

        Better Off Ted, on the other hand, is consistently good and shows that somehow someone at ABC is actually doing a good job. I think it's coming back in early December, but otherwise they've been handling it as badly as Fox would have. Not a problem with Tivo, but it's got to be killing it for everyone else.

        • dougo says:

          For what it's worth, I gave up on the Better Off Ted pilot after 15 minutes without laughing. Maybe I should give it another try, I like most of the actors.

  11. Sell me on Leverage. I enjoy the writer's blog ( but I watched the first few episodes and found it pretty disposable - not bad per se, just not compelling.

    • jwz says:

      Well, first of all, the blog makes it so much better, because you get to see the whole show deconstructed. I definitely, definitely enjoy the show more because I get to see behind the scenes on the writing like that. I find the characters entertaining, and the cons are usually clever.

      But, I found that it worked best as a double bill with Burn Notice. They're similar shows, but Burn Notice is the super-low-budget cons, and Leverage is the super-high-budget cons. They're perfect book-ends for your popcorn.

  12. miguelitosd says:

    Definitely leaving out the overdone humor and throwing in small details for a change. The only humor thus far has been Eli, for being so out of place compared to everyone else, which is getting a tad old. I did like the joke this week about the documenting stuff.. when he did the "See? SEE!" That made me chuckle a bit. I like the actual noting of small details like caffeine and nicotine withdrawal that are usually ignored, though it was only a small mention.

    As for Lost.. You realize it hasn't aired since like May, and new eps aren't showing until Jan, right? Or am I seriously missing something out there?

  13. pikuorguk says:

    I stopped watching Lost around the time Channel 4 lost (ha ha) the rights to show it, and the evil Sky megaglomorate stole it away to their little network.

    Have I missed anything important? I do remember obtaining a copy of Season 3, and through the magic of the fast-forward button, skipped all the crap and filler.

    Do we know why they were on that island yet?

    • jwz says:

      No, but now the island has turned into a Tardis, and god and the devil are playing chess while one of them is wearing Locke's body. Oh, and Starbuck is a Cylon, and it was Earth all along.

      • pikuorguk says:

        Aha... so they're still making it up as they go along then. Such a shame since the first series was actually quite good, and had a nice sense of mystery about it.

        Then they utterly killed it with all the boring flashbacks and filler.

  14. thargol says:

    I'm so very, very sorry. I didn't realise he'd escaped the confines of our island and had spread his conspiracy theories on that side of the pond, too. Of course, I still remember him as a sports presenter, but that seems so very long ago now...

  15. elevatordown says:

    I'm finding the current season of Curb Your Enthusiasm to be both incredibly uncomfortable and very funny.

    Peep Show, a british sitcom, finished its latest six episode run a couple months ago. I highly recommend it.

    • belgand says:

      It is a great show, but it's apparently too good for the US so they only bothered to release the first series on DVD. Yes, you can find it online through a variety of means, but it's still killing it being picked up into the hive mind much like Spaced being unavailable on DVD for so long did.

  16. jfedor says:

    Regarding the priest thing, didn't you like The Fifth Element?

  17. revsphynx says:

    I think the problem with this season of Venture Bros is that there isn't a single competent character. With Brock gone, I know they want to show how the boys will "grow" without being clones, but nothing is grounding them. Hatred barely, and accidentally, protects them, and Rusty as the "man of the house" just isn't working out.

    Orpheus hasn't even been in this season.

  18. curlyeric says:

    Nathan Fillion could be in a burlap sack reading from the phonebook and it would probably be witty. Castle is a enjoyable show but his talent is totally wasted on a show with little replay value.

    • obreerbo says:

      Though you gotta love the "space cowboy" shout-out from the Halloween episode.

      Malcolm Reynolds lives! Can't stop the signal!

  19. holywar says:

    Apparently CN wasn't kidding when they subtitled their Venture Brothers ads for the new season "Let the shark jumping commence". The last two episodes have been pretty good, though, and I actually laughed out loud a couple of times during the most recent ("Well if it isn't the Thin White Douche", for one).

    I used to really, really like Burn Notice, but I wasn't terribly fond of last season. It was still good, but not as must-see as the first couple. Is it just me?

    • hafnir says:

      So there's the episodic part of each, um, episode, but there's the overarching story line, and what I liked in the first seasons was that it felt like the overarching story was actually moving along nicely. But it's felt to me recently like it's slowed down and they're looking for a direction for it. The individual episodes can be quite fun, but I'm mostly into the overarching plotline.

      • belgand says:

        I've had the opposite problem that it seems like, starting with last season and getting much worse with the current one, that they're focusing way too much on the ongoing plotline and greatly ignoring the episodic nature of the show. Season two and late season one really hit the sweet spot of having great individual episodes that explored the central motif while also expanding the universe and developing an ongoing plot.

        Screwing with the ORB and just dicking over everything that went along with that really felt cheap and pointless. Although turning 21 into some kind of a bad-ass wasn't much better.

  20. fantasygoat says:

    My girlfriend normally leaves the room whenever I watch a sci-fi show, but she really likes SG:U.

    I think the best part about it is the fanboy frothing at the mouth that it's not exactly like SG-1. It's actually better and it drives them nutty on the forums.

    • editer says:

      Not least, I imagine, because we're not sure whether the scientist guy (forget his name) is good or evil, i.e, whether he'd sell everyone else on the ship up the river for his own purposes or not. SG-1 encountered morally ambiguous situations, but all the main characters were unmistakably good guys or bad guys.

      I also like that they've been to several planets and found several forms of alien life, and not one was bipedal and English-speaking.

  21. msjen says:

    I got a lot of mileage out of the fact that my spouse made me stay up late one night and watch what turned out to be that horrible Dr. Who Xmas special. IIRC, he actually felt so bad he took me out to dinner the next day.

  22. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3d absolutely rocked.

    • ultranurd says:

      But... it was a travesty! It was at best loosely inspired by the original book's title, and captured none of the awesome etched artwork!

  23. badc0ffee says:

    Is Breaking Bad season 3 still going to happen? I love that show.

    • belgand says:

      Totally will from what I've heard. They just need to release the season 2 DVDs or start reairing it again. The best way to kill my interest in actually watching a show in broadcast is to hold off the release of the DVDs until a week before the new season. If I can't Netflix them and get up to speed before the new stuff airs there's a damn good chance that I'm not going to be watching it.

  24. dougo says:

    Movies: Have you seen Antichrist?

  25. uke says:

    Fringe spoiler below, read at own peril.

    Did you notice that they are hinting that Peter is not really Walter's son? Or rather: that they're hinting that he is Walter's son from the alternate Earth. I can't figure out if this is supposed to be obvious or subtle from their point of view.

    I couldn't figure out why I was watching Fringe season 1, but changed my mind when I noticed the above, and have been enjoying season 2 a lot.

    • miguelitosd says:

      I'd say fairly obvious, other then most people don't pay much attention. I mean, a tombstone and "don't take my boy" or whatever recently.

  26. I can't back you on The Prisoner remake. The original, while sometimes dated, is pure brilliance and the final reveal in the AMC version felt like so much bullshit to me. :(

  27. lemonkey says:

    What about Sons of Anarchy?

    • dougo says:

      Seconded! My favorite current show. It's like Sopranos On Bikes. Except not as cartoony as Sopranos sometimes got.

  28. belgand says:

    Though I realize it isn't to everyone's tastes I found that A Serious Man was actually really good and a nice return to form for the Coens after the largely disappointing Burn After Reading.

  29. badc0ffee says:

    I don't know if it's available in the US, but I love "Being Erica" (though I only started watching starting with season 2). Yes, it's a girl show, but it has time travel.

  30. djverablue says:

    i have high hopes for the next season of doctor who. considering the guy who wrote what i consider the best episodes of the past seasons (the empty child, girl in the fireplace, blink, and silence in the library) is taking over writing entirely for the 2010 season.

    the first couple episodes of the new venture brothers didn't grab me, but i enjoyed the most recent 2.

    i also enjoyed the "space cowboy" bit in the halloween episode of castle. yay for firefly references.

  31. wikkit42 says:

    What'd you think of the SGU time travel episode? I was surprised they used that one so quickly. The show is interesting, but they have a list of all the plotlines from the earlier shows and they're ticking them off one by one.

  32. etfb says:

    You've done a lot for me, indirectly, over the years, so let me offer you a gift of knowledge regarding Heroes. No charge; consider it repayment of debts owed.

    Why the blonde chick has different powers: because.
    Why the Moyawnder has different powers: because.

    That, I think, is the complete explanation gleaned from watching every episode very closely. I hope I've been helpful.

  33. swyyft says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the main characters in Flash forward are not even the least bit compelling. Feinnes Character just annoys me, and Episode 9 where the doctor who I actually want to commit suicide at this point goes to Japan was awful. You cannot end episode 8 like that then not even bring it up in episode 9.

    They have already stopped production on the show to rewrite/possible let it fail, so proceed with caution.