Tag Archives: Alias

Sci-fi and Fantasy TV update…


After a few posts about the state of TV Sci-fi and Fantasy shows, I thought I’d do a brief update on where they’re currently at…

This has had a relatively good start, with the first season showing some likeable characters and the usual dose of conspiracy and subterfuge thrown in.  It has come across as an ‘A-Team’ with powers, which hasn’t always worked, but has shown enough promise in these episodes to give it a chance. A grittier angle, if chosen could definitely help proceedings.

Once Upon a Time:
The first of the ‘fairy tale’ shows, this has proven to be solid in the ratings and will definitely see out a full season; this may be due to the overriding ‘frothiness’ of the show, which plays on charm and lightness, lacking any real menace or darkness in its scenarios. Robert Carlyle and Jennifer Morrison are as watchable as ever, but you do get the feeling that the actors are not being stretched, or allowed to express themselves as much as you’d like; Lana Parrilla, for instance,  is clearly better than currently represented.

Much darker than Once Upon a Time, Grimm is angled much more towards the bloody nature of fairy tales and throws in some conspiracy/politics for good measure. This will no doubt have more depth that OUaT in the long run, but needs to find its feet. The main characters have still to gel properly and how each character interacts with David Giuntoli’s main character Nick, has yet to be settled. In some cases it really doesn’t seem to be working, but in others, such as when paired with Silas Weir Mitchell (Eddy) it really does work well. More time is needed, but should come good.

Warehouse 13:
Still strong, this has retained its playful feel, but added in some more depth; unfortunately this comes in the form of the usual conspiracy angle, but it has been handled quite well. The charm of the main cast and ‘steampunk’ technology continues to be exploited well and so far they have avoided all the main hokum pitfalls that could have arisen. The traditional Syfy channel Christmas special was quite successful and had a good balance between fan ‘nods’ and story.

A very good season with Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton guest starring for a large portion, this has been a bittersweet period, with the news that the next season will be the last. Still quite goofy in tone, but the almost Acme  style science still has its charm. The Christmas special was very hit and miss however, with much of it being animated, but the script and story was poor. While the animation worked well and allowed for various jokes, the underlying story was poorly constructed and had far too many ‘life lessons’ for key characters, which came over as saccharine,  preachy and forced.

They’ve managed to move this along quite well, while retaining the central core of the idea, and not forcibly maintaining a status quo; this has allowed the depth to come into the characters and it seems they are allowing it to naturally develop. Some slight hiccups in the season arc, with certain characters and plotlines not working 100%, with the writers putting themselves in a awkward place, which they then failed to get out of satisfactorily.

Well, another JJ Abrams related show has changed it all up again, as he tends to do after every couple of seasons. (e.g. Alias etc..) this time however, it has worked quite well and Fringe continues to be one of the best shows on TV. Solid performances all round and an engaging storyline have kept this from going stale. The change this season has raised some new ideas and fresh perspective, so creatively much is possible. I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode after the Christmas hiatus!

Terra Nova:
Still far too much standard storytelling with this one and every episode I am reminded once more of Earth2. The setting is almost irrelevant and not enough is being made of either the sci-fi elements or the pre-historic landscape elements. So much more could be done with the resources of the show, let alone with the concept, that is disappointing that the scope has been so formulaic and standard fare. Must do better!

While this hasn’t been the strongest or most consistent season storywise so far, it has still been good quality and remains a good show. It has yet to be seen whether the introduction of the Leviathans will be seen as weak or not, but so far their overall arc seems to be too far in the background compared to the brother soap opera. The lack of Castiel has been a loss to this half of the season, so hopefully this will change in the second half. Potential for Sheriff Mills to be a bigger part is quite encouraging if they take that route.

Other stuff I couldn’t give a monkeys about:
Vampire Diaries (whatever…)
The Secret Circle (90210 with Witches)

I’ve got a Spork…

As consumers of various forms of media, we find ourselves becoming obsessed about or at the very least find ourselves retaining details of the thing we are watching/reading/imbibing etc..  As geeks, we are highly likely to have many memorable things that stick in the mind and as geeks are more likely to obsess over them!  As a dedicated watcher of a wide variety of media, including a whole lot of TV, I end up remembering things and then recognising people as they reappear in other shows, or if there was a reference to something else.   Quite often, these can be esoteric, but  are rewarding when noticed!

There are no doubt myriad moments/references that I could mention to illustrate this, but off the top of my head, here are a few that come to mind:

Alias – S04E13

There is something that amuses me greatly about this scene, which is essentially not a major part of the story, but is highly memorable.  To me, this is probably due to the word ‘spork’, which is amusing in itself.  In this episode, Marshall Flinkman (Kevin Weisman) has to gouge out a man’s eye with whatever he can find around him; in this case a spork, and I think what makes it work is just great writing, not just within the scene, but also due to how it is true to the characters, as well as being amusing and developing the interactions between characters.  Overall, you know you’re ok if you’ve got a spork…

ER – S10E08

I love ER.  It was a great show, lasting well, even over the massive span that was 15 seasons!  The reason this episode is so memorable is basically down to the death of Dr Robert ‘ Rocket’ Romano.  Now, it is not just any death, where a character leaves a show off screen, it is a ridiculous death full of  irony and leaves you thinking ‘now they’re taking the piss…’.  Somehow, it works though!  Probably, again, due to the writing.

If people aren’t aware of ER history, let this be a spoiler warning!

Anyhoo, spoiler alert done, Dr Romano is an arrogant senior surgeon, who at the start of Season 9 has his arm severed by a  helicopter rotor and throughout the next season and a half they deal with the issues he now faces, as he can no longer operate.  Fast forward to S10E08 and Romano is still suffering with PTSD type symptoms and when he has to go to the helipad in a scene, he can’t handle it and so rushes out the front of the building to get some air.  What do the writers do?  they crash another helicopter, which promptly lands on him.

Raising the Bar – S2E12

As I said before, consuming lots of media means you end up noticing small details or people doing guest spots in shows, or weird references.  In this case it was a bit of ‘extra’ work for none other than Jeff ‘Vork’ Lewis from The Guild.  in this episode he was in the Jury and probably only had a few seconds screen time, but as the camera went past, I instantly thought ‘what is Vork doing in that Jury?!’…

As an aside concerning ‘Raising the Bar’, I do remember thinking ‘she was in Raising the Bar!’, when Brea Grant first appeared on Heroes.

Franklin and Bash – S1E08 & S1E10

Franklin and Bash, although very recent, has already given us a couple of nice geeky references/connections.

The first of these may well go unnoticed by many, but in a case involving drug possession, the judge is played by Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, so is somewhat ironic.  People not aware of Chong’s oeuvre would not realise the reference at all, but it’s a sly wink to the rest of us…

The second is both a recognition moment and a geeky reference because it sees a judge, played by Gates McFadden on the bench in front of Stanton Infeld, played by Malcolm McDowell.  Anyone familiar with Star Trek films will know they have worked together before – McFadden as Dr Beverley Crusher and McDowell as Dr Tolian Soran in the Star Trek film Generations.

Castle – S3E09

My final example (which will probably be Rooney’s favourite) is from a show that is full of references and just can’t help itself from letting Nathan Fillion play with the audience.  In this instance, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) decides to dress up as a ‘Space Cowboy’ for Halloween.  For the observant, it is remarkably like his costume from Firefly…  Cheekily, the writers even have his daughter Alexis (Molly C Quinn) say “Didn’t you wear that 5 years ago?  Don’t you think you should move on?”

These are just the tip of the iceberg though, and almost every week, geeks will be exclaiming, ‘oh, that’s..’ about any number of actors such as Tony Todd, Max Grodenchik, Jessy Schram, Brad Dourif, Tracy Middendorf, or… the list is endless!  Somehow we just remember and/or notice this stuff!

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