Sunday, April 22, 2018

Lost In Space (Netflix)

Warning Warning! A new LOST IN SPACE approaching!

As a result of a number of life changes and still being unsettled I've had to take some required time off from Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic. Still, when have I ever been consistent long term here?

I've also had some difficulty accessing photos from a TV with my Sony camera. Ultimately I've started taking pictures with my iPhone. In the end it seems to be more efficient and it seems to be taking reasonably beautiful pictures.

So I'll do my best at re-establishing some fairly inconsistent rhythms here going forward despite this rather tumultuous life.

The reviews are in and varied for the new LOST IN SPACE (2018) and at the very least I've been inspired to write about all ten episodes of the new series now available on Netflix with pictures supplied by yours truly, The Sci-Fi Fanatic.
This new series and my love for the old series have me quite enthusiastic about spending some quality time on it here and then hopefully returning to the tried and true original sometime this year. Naturally, this writer and fanatic of all things Lost In Space will draw contrasts and comparisons where appropriate. Every effort will be made to remain spoiler free, but naturally impossible to be perfect in that effort so stowaway at your own risk.

So there will be no cursory, binge-watched one and done reviews here only musings. Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic will bring you all ten episodes in full over the course of the next three weeks. It's a rare thing to be sure, and this writer has sometimes shied away from brand new science fiction releases, but this time I'm ready to deliver for fans of Lost In Space and the overarching franchise property that has likely been one of the most neglected of the sci-fi franchises.

Though many are not inclined to do so, feel free to leave your comments regarding this Lost In Space along the way if so moved.
My ten entries and concluding thoughts have been written and this writer will share those thoughts with you. I know we have some voracious Lost In Space fans who visit here and I count myself among them.

So, To Be Continued...

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Twilight Zone S2 E25: The Silence

"You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.
A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.
That's the signpost up ahead.
You're next stop, The Twilight Zone."

Our journey into The Twilight Zone to see some of the stars we loved and adored from our yester years reaches the latest sign post, The Twilight Zone, Season Two, Episode 25, The Silence directed by The Omega Man's (1971) Boris Sagal.

Once again circling about the stars that once populated the original classic that was Lost In Space, this episode features one Jonathan Harris.

After a look at Season Two, E22, Long Distance Call with little Billy Mumy, his future cast mate and friend Harris arrives just a few episodes later. Never fear Smith is here.

The late great Harris, best remembered as the villainous and often cowardly Dr. Zachary Smith in Irwin Allen's Lost In Space (1965-1968), appeared in a number of other genre classics in television. You may recall his part as the voice of Lucifer in the classic Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979). He played another villain in Allen's Land Of The Giants (1968-1970) in Pay The Piper. He appeared in beloved Bewitched (1964-1972) and Sanford And Son (1972-1977) and sci-fi fans will likely recall Space Academy (1977) for a single season (15 episodes).

Harris delivers a much more sobering performance, a kind of anti-Lost In Space-Season Three-Dr. Smith.

(SPOILER) The tale is of a bet between two men that in the end reveals a sad truth about them both. Each gives away something that becomes no longer of value to the other. One man severs his vocal cords to ensure he wins the bet because he knows he will not be able to remain silent without such a move. The other man offering the bet reveals himself to be as much of a fraud as the man he despises. One has nothing to give but loses face and all credibility in the end while the other has everything to gain, but loses his voice and gains nothing.

Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone wasn't ingenious in being entirely original at every turn, but the series was often original in employing ideas and concepts to science fiction or horror that had been traversed before by executing brilliantly.

The Silence offers a kind of spin on the O. Henry (author William Sydney Porter) story The Gift Of The Magi (1905). It's not exactly the same, but the idea of two people attempting to give one another something each needs or wants, but in the end both are proven to have no value. And like the twist-ending of the aforementioned O. Henry story, The Twilight Zone too was often incredibly smart at delivering a twist in its tales.

While the O. Henry story centers on love and how far a couple is willing to go for their love, The Silence, in turn, is about a seething hatred and how far two men are willing to go to make a useless point as greed and hatred root the men in evil intent.

This writer never saw The Silence, but it's a solid little morality play and almost literary in style in its approach to inverting a concept like The Gift Of The Magi. It's less science fiction and simply a solid story idea populated by one of the science fiction performing legends in the late Jonathan Harris.

Writer: Rod Serling. Director: Boris Sagal (The Omega Man).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

LOST S1 E25: Exodus (Part 3)

"I need for you to explain to me what the hell is going on inside your head John."

"I believe that I was being tested. I think that's why you and I don't see eye to eye sometimes Jack, because you're a man of science."
-John Locke-

"Yeah, what does that make you?"

"Me, well, I'm a man of faith. Do you really think all this is an accident? That we a group of strangers survived. Many of us with just superficial injuries. Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence especially this place. We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason."

"And who brought us here John?"

"The island. The island brought us here. This is no ordinary place. It's destiny."

Did the creators and writers behind LOST have a vision that was locked down for the series from the very beginning? The general sense is no and by some accounts things were left fairly fluid. Where this takes the series in the end is certainly left for some debate. But as a standing single season of television, LOST, Season One is near perfect.

The LOST Season One finale is finally here. And science fiction fans rejoice at the first official sighting of the Smoke Monster. To clarify, it is the extremely powerful, island security system Smoke Monster. Trees are uprooted, horror sound effects are employed with clanging metal chains and a whole host of additional sounds sure to raise the hair on your back if you have hair there.

Locke investigates the melee in the forest in typically fearless fashion. Yet, he is knocked to his feet only to look up with eyes clearly filled with fear. And that is just in the opener for LOST, Season One, Episode 25, Exodus (Part 3).

Highlight: Being the full on sci-fi geek that I am that opening Smoke Monster sequence was like nirvana for this writer. Watching John Locke dragged through the forest by a pillar of black smoke with Jack giving chase was about as perfect as science fiction arousal gets. The smoke pulls Locke toward a hole in the roots of a tree, Jack holds onto Locke. Locke, with faith in hand, implores that Jack let go and that he will be fine but Jack, as you know, can never let go of anything and doesn't. Kate explodes dynamite in the hole below and the Smoke Monster rises above ground and quickly disappears along with that haunting accompanying bellowing howl.

There is also a moment in Exodus (Part 3) whereby Locke looks into the heart of the creature and his face is one of complete utter fear and horror. The eyes of John Locke are far more dramatic than his reaction (one more of peace than terror) upon seeing the creature in Episode 4, Walkabout.

Still, this elusive thing is not officially named said Smoke Monster at all throughout Season One.

Seeing it all a second time, almost as much as the first, my mouth was open and I was literally thinking What the fuck was that?! What the fuck did I just see?! With no explanation and an island oozing with mystery in that moment LOST took the words and the logic away and made me a believer in its thrilling, mysterious journey. I had no comprehension of it all and yet I adored what Lindelof, Cuse and others had achieved in weaving its science fiction elements into a season long human journey on an island lost. This was science fiction wonderment and I was in heaven to behold the inexplicable. Yes, that was a major fucking highlight.

Now the finale had more than one even if the thrilling Smoke Monster sequence was my personal favorite.

The resulting verbal confrontation between Locke and Jack is some of the season's best writing (see quotes above) as events have led us to this moment, even foreshadowing the Season Two opener, Man Of Science, Man Of Faith. Lines were being drawn and now more than ever those lines have been made clearer after a very gradual build across an entire season.

The chemistry between Michael, Jin and Sawyer never fails in their male bonding experience on that raft. These are some of the most tender moments of the season between these men and I was thoroughly engrossed in that quieter component of our final LOST story.

And of course as the sun sets the darkness creeps in and the third part of Exodus becomes actually quite disturbing. The third component of the tale is Sayid and Charlie's effort to reclaim baby Aaron from Rousseau. Rousseau is almost tragic and surprisingly Charlie has no empathy or understanding for what she's been through which makes Mira Furlan's performance even more sympathetic and affecting.

But let us return to the raft on the water in the dark, the flair and the incoming boat of The Others. That is yet another powerful highlight in the finale that will remain with you for life. When Walt is abducted and literally ripped from the arms of his father Michael by men who state plainly they will take the boy, a moment truly couldn't be more agonizingly unsettling. When I saw it I was disturbed and the scene still holds tremendous power today. It is truly affecting, emotionally dramatic stuff.

Whenever the abduction of a child is involved it creates a psychological impact on the viewer and this is the third known attempt by The Others to take a child creating an even more ominous picture.

The final shot of Locke and Jack peering into an endless hole into the opening where the hatch once secured it is another money shot leading us right into Season Two and a whole other world and layer to the island and our journey.

All told, Exodus (Part 3) may secure the spot of best season finale ever. If not, I'd easily rank it among the Top 10 of season finales. It is flawless in execution, information, entertainment and as a LOST gem. It caps off an already brilliant season with a brilliant cherry on top.

One of the things about being so hugely entertained and so hopelessly lost with these survivors is a sense that we as viewers are lost right along with them. Season One if anything, for me personally, accurately captured a personal philosophical subtext regarding life itself.

Yes, who isn't out there LOST in this life just a little? Who isn't out there trying to escape sometimes? Who isn't out there trying to make sense of the mysteries that inform us on a daily basis or make sense of the illogical decisions of humanity? Like these survivors, who isn't looking for answers and feeling a bit lost along the way themselves on this journey? LOST positively reflects a feeling we all have deep down and does so in a wildly entertaining and original and ever so thoughtful fashion as a mystery adventure drama science fiction lite series.

This is superb television that had the world talking and everyone's eyes to Season Two.

Flashbacks: Hurley, Locke.

Writer: Damon Lindelof/ Carlton Cuse.
Director: Jack Bender.

And that folks miraculously concludes Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic's look at LOST Season One.

Monday, April 16, 2018

LOST S1 E24: Exodus (Part 2)

"If anyone hears anything or sees anything..." -Jack-
" a security system that eats people."
"Do you think we're being punished... things we did before... the secrets we kept... the lies we told."

The well paced and slow burn of mystery that has been sprinkled throughout Season One has finally led us to the three part (according to my Blu-Ray collection) season finale, Exodus.

LOST's creators have cleverly paced their mystery yarn over the course of a full season by delving into a number of unique back stories for its ensemble cast in anthology style. The result has been a season of wonderfully fascinating stand alone stories simply about damaged people like any one of us while offering small bits of island mythology. And we are right there with them, all just a little bit lost in this life.

It's all finally coming to a nice little head here at season's close as we look at LOST, Season One, Episode 24, Exodus (Part 2).

The search for dynamite at Black Rock (Portsmouth) continues.

This may be the episode that goes down as LOST's version of the red shirt as Dr. Leslie Arzt with a sweaty beige shirt is all blown to smithereens. He wasn't made annoying to a fault for no reason and compounded with that name Leslie. Why exactly did he tag along with Jack, Kate, Hurley and Locke? Yes, he had to go. He was the Jar Jar Binks of LOST, but clearly George Lucas just couldn't hear the deafening volume of his own annoying character that screamed for a much required death scene. And of course Rousseau exits upon arrival there. Clearly, the Frenchwoman isn't stupid.

Highlights: Locke and Jack tensely removing dynamite to the analogy of the game Operation. The handling of the dynamite is fairly well-rendered and as intense as scenes go as our would be heroes move away from Black Rock and into the Dark Territory as its referred.

The raft scenes and character interaction between Jin, Michael and Sawyer are always good. Just escaping into that big blue ocean alongside these people is an experience alone.

Sayid and Charlie seek to find Claire's baby Aaron now missing and in the hands of Frenchwoman Danielle Rousseau as her potential bargaining chip to regain her own daughter Alex from The Others.

There were many theories that the series hinged on baby Aaron and that The Others were strictly after Aaron. Just as Danielle had lost her baby to them years ago and where most others perished from that expedition. If this would hold true the future would not bode well for the remaining survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.

Overall, penultimate Season One entry Exodus (Part 2) (of three parts) is a bit like the middle child. It's hard to stand out, yet is a required part of this trilogy of episodes moving the story forward to its rousing conclusion.

Flashbacks: Sun, Jin, Sayid, Charlie, Michael, Walt.

Writer: Damon Lindelof/ Carlton Cuse.
Director: Jack Bender.