Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - William Shakespeare's Star Wars

William Shakespeare's Star WarsWilliam Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is kind of impossible to review. It's A New Hope, written as a Shakespearean play. There are a few editorial errors, but other than that, it's exactly as brilliant as you'd expect, with in-jokes to a whole slew of other Shakespeare plays and inside knowledge of the rest of the SW universe. It's worth reading for fun, and I would absolutely kill to see this performed.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Kenobi

Kenobi (Star Wars)Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Star Wars as a Western with Tatooine as the Old West, Tuskens as the Indians, and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the mysterious gunslinging stranger new to the frontier who ends up having to save the whole town... this idea is brilliant, and the book shapes up about as wonderfully as you'd hope. Kenobi tells the story of how Obi-Wan arrives on Tatooine after the events of Revenge of the Sith and begins his transformation into Old Ben. He's the only character familiar to the SW universe to appear, although more than a few others are mentioned, and his characterization is spot on. The entire time I was able to perfectly picture Ewan Macgregor's face and voice delivering the lines. The new characters created for the story are very well-realized, as well, especially the Tusken Raiders, who are explored more fully than I can ever remember. The story itself is quite fun, filled with action and humor in equal parts; the driving force seems a bit scattered as you go along but as the conclusion barrels down on you it all coalesces nicely.  This is overall a very enjoyable addition to the mythos.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Killing Dexter

Full disclosure? I didn't start watching Dexter until 2010, when it was into its fifth season. The reason i finally started watching it is the same reason most guys ever do anything: a girl. It was the only thing I really knew a girl I really liked was into, so, at the urging of a friend, I watched it to give me a way to get closer to her.

It didn't work. But that's another story for another day.

I binged on Dexter, getting so into it that I watched the first four seasons in the span of about a week. Hell, I enjoyed it so much the third season had me randomly yelling, "Conyo!" every time something pissed me off (thank you, Jimmy Smits). Then of course there was the fourth season, which was easily the show's peak season as Dexter's conflict with the Trinity Killer was the best thing the show ever did. The only thing wrong with that entire season was a naked John Lithgow.


The show went through some rough patches after that, with season five being a particularly disappointing crapfest which I blame entirely on Julia Stiles. I mean, seriously, the fact that her name was Lumen might have actually been the best thing about her character. That aside, after seven seasons, I was ready for the show to end and, after the finale season seven gave us (Deb killing LaGuerta to keep Dexter's secret), I was ready for a great final season and a great ending.

As with most things in life, I was disappointed.

Spoilers ahead, obviously.

Let's skip ahead to the ending, something that clearly must have happened because the writers all enjoyed the ending of The Dark Knight Rises a little too much. After mercy-killing Deb and dumping her body, Dexter rides his boat off into a hurricane, and when the boat's wreckage is found, it's assumed he's dead, leaving Hannah to raise little Harrison herself. But wait, Dexter didn't die!

Even though he drove his boat right into a hurricane and the boat was destroyed, Dexter survived and is now a lumberjack.

C'mon. Look at his face. Even he knows that was bullshit.

That completely illogical ending isn't even the worst thing about it, or about the season as a whole. This was a season that involved nonsense like a new character getting a promotion Joey wanted and then never appearing again and a surprise daughter showing up out of nowhere that meant absolutely nothing. It was a season with a really weakass villain and probably the least amount of kills by Dexter in a season ever.

It's that last thing that brings me to my biggest gripe about how the show ended. Yes, Dexter killed less people this season than any other, which did make things a little boring, but it was very important because it was part of the character's arc that started in the very beginning of the show. When the show started, Dexter was basically a slave to his hunger to kill; he killed someone in basically every episode and only dated because he felt that not dating would bring too much attention to him. As the seasons progressed, though, that changed. He eventually felt love for real. He fathered a son. He met a woman to really fall in love with and that made him want to kill less. With Hannah, Dexter reached the point where he was really in love. He wanted a real family with her and his son. He was ready to give it all up and move away with them because he didn't need to kill anymore.

And can you blame him?

In fact, that was something he was desperately fighting for for the bulk of this season, and it was amazing character growth. To have him throw all that away just because a surgical complication basically made Deb brain-dead is just bullshit. I know it could be argued that giving them up was the ultimate act of love because he believed he would just get them killed like he did Deb, but come on. Dexter is too smart to think that. He's always been a borderline genius. Again, bullshit. I loved the synergy of his last kill being a mercy-kill of his sister in opposition of all the other kills, and I loved the imagery of him laying her to rest with all his other victims in a white sheet instead of a black body bag.. but that's the only part of it I loved.

With the way the writing and character development had been going for the last two or three seasons, the two endings that felt right for Dexter were for him to give it all up and escape with Hannah and Harrison or for him to die trying. Instead we got a cobbled mash-up of that idea, and an awfully disappointing ending at that.

You know what, Dexter writers?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Shows Review: Sleepy Hollow/Dads

I'm not going to be able to make this as detailed as I'd like because of computer problems; basically my video card is dying and making my screen look like it's constantly doing the Batoosi and looking at it for too long makes me feel like I have a tumor in my eyes the size of an elephants nuts. Despite that, I wanted to give very brief reviews of the first two shows of the Fall Season I've tried out, both of them from FOX, the network I love to hate (or hate to love. I'm never sure. It depends on what's on at the time...).

Boy, do I not want to like this show. Sleepy Hollow honestly starts out as the most cliched thing I've ever seen. There's the moody atmosphere. There's time travel. There's a bigger star than the rest of the cast playing a mentor who gets killed too soon and the young cop who becomes driven to avenge them and the boss who works against her. There's the cop on the take. There's mysterious visions and an even more mysterious priest. Seriously, how many times have we seen something matching that description? But then they turn around and twist the entire legend and make it interesting; the Headless Horseman is actually Death, of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Ichabod Crane is the First Witness mentioned in the Book of Revelation who is meant to spend seven years trying to save the world or some such stuff. And most people who know me know that stuff like that is right in my wheelhouse, and now I'm stuck with it. I just wish Clancy Brown was in it for more than three minutes...

Dads, on the other hand, is just out. Completely. There is seriously not a doubt in my mind that I will never watch this show again. The only thing worse than the ham-fisted, over-acted caricatures of characters the cast gives us are the endless string of jokes that just aren't funny. Every single punchline falls flatter than Keira Knightley's rack. The only time I laughed throughout the entire first episode was when a portrait of Rocky Dennis led to a joke about him being the ugliest person who ever lived.

I used an image from the movie Mask and not his real face because, you know, you have to have at least some respect!

The only other takeaway I have from this show is that Vanessa Minnillo... I'm sorry, Lachey... really isn't aging very well now that she's married into Middle American Cornhusking Life and the days of her looking like this...

...are long gone.

So one show grudgingly passed and one show will never, ever be bothered with again. You can expect more of these as the other new shows I'm looking forward to premiere, especially Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday.

You know, unless my computer explodes by then.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - The Companions

The Companions (The Sundering, #1)The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a hard book to review without spoiling some fairly major events in the series, so I'll have to leave plot out of my review and focus on the things I can talk about. Salvatore's trademark action is in abundance, of course, and it's as good as it ever is. His fight scenes really do thrill. More than the action, though, is his characterization skills; he's dealing with a multitude of characters, some new and some that have been around for roughly twenty-five years now, and he never fails to make them feel fresh and whole. The narrative structure jumps around in time a little bit which, at times, can be a little hard to follow until you get the hang of it, but as a whole it works. I sped through this book very quickly as I was really enjoying it, and I was sad when it ended and hungry for more.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - The Third Kingdom

The Third Kingdom (Richard and Kahlan, #2)The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn't very kind in my review of the book that preceded this one on Goodkind's series, The Omen Machine. This book escaped a lot of the pitfalls of that one and, indeed, a lot of the pitfalls that have plagued most of his recent books, most notably the incessant and repetitive preaching of his philosophy. Because that brow-beating is absent here, I sort of feel like this might just be his best book since Faith of the Fallen. Parts of it are still incredibly repetitive, but it's a repetition of fairly fresh concepts for Goodkind's world and characters, and that makes it somewhat bearable. The drawback that prevents me from rating this higher than three stars, though, is the lack of those characters. Other than Richard, the characters we have all come to know and love are virtually nowhere to be found. Kahlan doesn't show up til page 340 or so and only appears in maybe 75 pages. Worse, Zedd, Cara, and Nicci don't appear at all until maybe the last 75 pages. I understand Goodkind's intention was to seriously shake up Richard's world with a completely new threat and make everything feel strange and dangerous again, and he does succeed, but the lack of the characters that are the most powerful draw to his series is a detriment. The other drawback is something I mentioned in my review of The Omen Machine: Kahlan has gone from being one of the most powerful female characters I have ever read about to being just another damsel in distress. I wish Goodkind would re-read his first few novels to see what the Mother Confessor used to be like, because she's just an insulting shadow of her former self now. Still, harsh words aside, I did enjoy this book a great deal and it is worth reading.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

5 Favorite Two-Part Doctor Who Episodes: Countdown to the 50th Anniversary 3...

Last month I started a countdown to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with a post counting down my five favorite stand-alone episodes. Today I bring you the second installment of the countdown, this one counting down my favorite two-part episodes. I made sure it spans all three of the modern Doctors because, despite what some people think, they all have their merits and really were all great. In fact, I think my #1 might just surprise you...

5. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End (Series 4)

Yeah, that's pretty much every character from the first four series all partying in the TARDIS. The two-part finale of series four brings them all together under the massive threat of the Daleks and their creator, Davros, and that's why this story makes the list. For me, the awesome stops there tho; I'm not a big fan of the story itself, or the whole Doctor-Donna thing. Still, it was a pretty pulse-pounding story and that, added with the nostalgia factor, earned it a spot on the list.

4. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (Series 5)
This two-part fifth series finale has a whole lot going for it. The Doctor. Amy Pond bringing a second meaning to being "the girl who waited." Rory Williams becoming The Last Centurion. River Song as Cleopatra. A time paradox... or two. An exploding TARDIS. A fez. Fezzes are cool. It even has something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and every one of the Doctor's enemies all in one place... and his epic response to them.

3. Human Nature/The Family of Blood (Series 3)

The Doctor forgets who he is and lives life as a human with companion Martha pretending to be a maid in order to help him remember himself as he falls in love. Meanwhile, there's an evil alien family pretending to be human. It doesn't sound all that amazing just from the description, but it gives Eleven a chance to get all emo about his existence, which is something Tennant always excelled at... and then it gives him a chance to be truly terrifying in his vengeance on the Family of Blood, and the Doctor without mercy is always something to behold.

2. The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon (Series 6)

There are a whole lot of great things that could be said about the series six premiere two-parter and everything that happens in it and everything it sets up for later, but really, all you need to know is: The Silents.

1. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Series 1)

I bet you wouldn't have thought the Ninth Doctor would win this round, huh? This two-parter is easily the pinnacle of the first series of the revival. It features a truly creepy "monster"... a little kid wearing a gas mask asking "Are you my mummy?" over and over again and turning anyone he touches into a copy of him. It has a twist origin and resolution that makes perfect sense and is absolutely brilliant. And, on top of all that, it introduced Captain Jack Harkness, who would go on to not just be one of the Doctor's most popular companions but would go on to anchor the show's spin-off, Torchwood.

So there's my list. Next month I'll be back with the list of my favorite specials as the 50th anniversary special gets closer. In the meantime, do you have any favorites you'd like to share?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi (Star Wars)The Last Jedi by Michael Reaves

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in this series (the first three comprise the Coruscant Nights trilogy) and a bit of wear is starting to show. The story has a strong start and a good, if anti-climactic conclusion, but the middle sort of dragged. The characters bounce around over-thinking and over-discussing the same things over and over again, and it gets boring. Once it ratchets up to the finale it becomes a page-turner, but again, an anti-climactic one. I say that because it suffers from the same drawback as any book that is part of the prequel/classic era: we know certain things can't be changed, and so to an extant we know what will happen in any confrontation that involves Darth Vader... or, at least, we know what can't happen. However, the authors turn some of that weakness into a strength in the way Vader is utilized: he's a specter that hangs over much of the plot, the very mention of his name or his power terrorizing our protagonists and reminding us why he's one of the greatest villains of all time. In short, this is a decent enough read for Star Wars fans, but not a must-read.

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