Sunday, June 28, 2009

Final Fantasy Meets Michael Jackson's Thriller

If you haven't heard Michael Jackson passed away Thursday, June 25th shortly after the passing of Farah Fawcett. Yes, it's true. I'm kidding of course about that part of not knowing. The whole thing has been on par with the passing of Princess Diana.

I am beginning to think we may be in a cycle of Michael Jackson music videos and documentaries 24/7 for the next week at least. I can't seem to find a channel that isn't covering the life of Michael Jackson. I liked Michael Jackson's music. I won't lie. I would have to register Off The Wall and Thriller as classics. I don't care for much else, but if my kids weren't sure of who Michael Jackson was they know now. He is on every station and they are getting a steady diet of all of his creativity as well as some rather unflattering portraits of the man and his fall from grace. To quote Spock, in a word, "fascinating."
Anyway, his is another life cut short. His musical influence was clearly felt by many. The Amazon Bestsellers list is comprised of wall to wall Michael Jackson merchandise. Strange, the impact a death can have on so many. Where were all these fans of his music before he died?
In the spirit of it all, I recalled seeing an Easter Egg from the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within [2001] DVD. So, I took it upon myself to dig it up for you. The film itself is solid science fiction, albeit not perfect, but I thought you'd get a kick out of this Michael Jackson tribute via Square Soft's take on the classic Thriller.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Charlie's Angels Were Detectives, But Seriously Who Really Cares!

I never followed Charlie's Angels all that carefully. I remember trying to watch whenever I could simply because the boys in my neighborhood liked the babes. Did you know they were detectives? Of course, but we really didn't care. We liked to see them in action. They were hot!

Farah Fawcett passed away on Thursday and since Michael Jackson died later that day no one cares about Farah anymore. I suspect coverage on her and her life would have been more closely covered had the passing of bizarro Jackson not happened. The media seized upon it as only the media can in all its shallow, disgusting splendor. Farah was simply tossed aside like yesterday's news and it hadn't even been half a day. I suspect those close to Fawcett may be thankful for that singular callous act of media inattention for once.

To be honest I wasn't a huge Farah fan on Charlie's Angels. The guys always picked their favorite babes as if they had any chance at all with them. Still, ownership of your pin-up girl was part of the coming-of-age process and a rite of passage. I was always a brunette guy and for some reason had a thing for the raspy Kate Jackson. Jaclyn Smith was my next favorite. I always appreciated Farah more as I got older. She was a pretty lady. She was a natural beauty [as far as I know; not like Jackson]. Anyway, sad to see her go. You know how I feel about seeing these people in our lives sort of disappear from the radar forver [Jackson included]. It makes us that much older and all the more mortal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

B5 S5 Ep10: A Tragedy Of Telepaths

Yes friends, they are still singing.

Captain Lochley recaps current events. In particular she covers the attacks in the shipping lanes and even more importantly the telepath problem holding up in Brown sector. We get a couple of sweet babe shots of actress Tracey Scoggins. I must admit Scoggins may look fit , but she's not the fittest or most exciting of narrators. Boring. She anticipates things will get messy as she pensively considers the current state of Babylon 5 affairs. Lochley places a call for help to the Telepathbusters [Psi Corps] in the form of Bester. That's priceless. The downbeat tone is set for Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 10, A Tragedy Of Telepaths.

Darn! All those pretty hands and no fawning or preening of Byron. A teep is a terrible thing to waste!
It was interesting to note in the credits Julie Caitlin Brown would be returning as Na'Toth for the episode. Wow! It's been a long time since we've seen her in character as Na'Toth. I know she reappeared in a different role without make-up, but she was terrific initially as Na'Toth. I remember her absence was notable when she vanished from the show due to make-up issues I believe. Anyway, I never thought we'd see her again.

The telepaths are slowing down the progress of station workers who are attempting to burn through to their location. The teeps are walled up and making every effort with their psychic mind games to keep the station workers and security from reaching them.

Back on Centauri Londo is puzzled by the fact his people are channeling exorbitant expenditures into the now expectedly quiet war machine. G'Kar jests indicating they might be invading themselves for a change. G'Kar is eating fresh SPOO. Eww. Londo indicates it is an insult to eat fresh SPOO and that it needs to age like a fine wine apparently. G'Kar snagged some and Londo makes fun of the fact no Narn would eat fresh SPOO. Aged or fresh no SPOO for you! I would never eat anything called SPOO. It could be a bowl of ice cream, but if it's called SPOO, I'm sorry but I'd rather MOO. In lieu of the SPOO I would eat STEW. I would even share the STEW with YOU, maybe even TWO, but I rank SPOO with a frightening FEW and as something NEW, I would not eat it, not even with GLUE. I would not eat SPOO not even with YOU. There are images that come to mind with the word SPOO I simply cannot reconcile with a food-like substance. Anyway, this gives G'Kar pause and he wonders, "where is it going?" There is a grim feel to this sequence. Londo indicates there are underground cells and perhaps it is heading there. G'Kar urges Londo they must get to the bottom of its delivery point. There, they discover Na'Toth. Hmmm, that does seem a bit odd, but believable and I am glad to see her back.

Ever the haunting image and probably one of the most memorable throughout all of Babylon 5.

Na'Toth recalls the circumstances of those initial attacks on Narn and how she got where she is. The Centauri took her prisoner back in Season Two, Episode 20, The Long, Twilight Struggle I believe, though we never see it happen. It has been two years. The discovery brings back old hatreds and bad blood boils within G'Kar's forgiving heart. We haven't seen G'Kar this upset in some time.

That's a great little story that illustrates a sizable truth. Yes, pretty potent is G'Kar. It's been awhile since we've seen him this heated to be sure. Of course, Na'Toth was once a fiery spitfire of a Narn. She was a real fighter and a loyal assistant to G'Kar. Seeing her in this weakened state with much of her real personality nearly snuffed from existence would anger anyone.

Na'Toth: A shadow of her former self.
Lochley enters a crawlspace to make her way to the telepaths. Sheridan calls her crazy when Garibaldi calls her gutsy. I don't think of Lochley as all that crazy. She seems pretty NOT crazy actually. She's not afraid to get dirty and she is gutsy. Garibaldi and Sheridan discuss concerns about the telepaths who actually got out before the lockdown in Brown sector. There is a concern for sabotage and that is the most logical point of this whole conflict. Sheridan worries everything "is fraying at the edges." He is worried it's all crumbling around them and no doubt much of the work they have achieved.

Garibaldi: "Why is it that we always break up our history by the wars? Not the years of peace?" He adds, "Why the war, not the peace? Because it's exciting. And because on some level people like to see something big fall apart and explode from the inside out." It's a fair point. Like The Iliad or The Odyssey or Beowulf, it's always the epic conflicts that keep our interest. A book about peace and quiet would hardly capture our attention. Still marking periods as The Great Peace or The Fantastic Tranquility or The Bold Quietude or The Remarkable Global Friendship Period might be nice. Granted that last one is a bit naive.

Lochley makes it to Brown sector and she's fairly restrained with her greetings toward the teeps. I have to admit, Scoggins is not particularly good in the role upon further review. I do miss Susan Ivanova. Still, she is starting from ground zero in Season Five and is at a major disadvantage. Byron and his folk demand compensation from the normals now that the Shadow War has ended. Lochley gives the teeps a chance to leave but the cult of Byron stands pat. They will not be leaving.

Elsewhere, in Londo's quarters, Londo and G'Kar plan their attempt to rescue and escape with Na'Toth.

I'm not sure what it is about this season, but it's just not grabbing my attention in the way Seasons One through Four had done. Something feels missing. At the very least it is slower, more political, far less interesting or exciting and then there is the telepath thread which is excruciating.

At the league of aligned worlds meeting Sheridan points out someone or something is planting evidence to implicate alien races so the finger pointing toward one another will lead to war. Tensions are running very high and mounting.

On Centauri Prime Londo begins executing his plan to save Na'Toth. It is understandable to see Na'Toth so weakened. She is so very different from her fiery, spunky personality noted earlier in the series. I'm not sure Julie Caitlin Brown was needed to play Na'Toth. I am glad to see the original actress, but there just isn't much of a role here. So Londo escorts Na'Toth out of their quarters. She is dressed in a female Centauri's dress and her face masked by a veil. Londo feins drunk with the best of them and hopes being the center of attention will simply make his brethren feel as though it is business as usual for Londo.

On the station some of the free teeps are being obnoxious lil' pukes. They are spray painting graffiti signs that demand Byron be freed. Well, that's just plain ridiculous. What are you? Juvenile delinquents? Bester has arrived and the teeps are fearful. They are going to trade in their black spray paint cans for real weapons. Stupid. Well, Bester is in the house and aiding Lochley in getting to those rogue telepaths. The teeps force a security guard into the armory and for some reason the events just seem slightly laughable. I love when the teeps start shooting and they miss Lochley, Zack and Bester, but manage to hit the maintenance worker point blank. It just plain sucks being a B5 'red shirt' also known as a B5 maintenance worker as it turns out.

Sheridan and Delenn inform the alien races that any attacks shall be countered by an alliance strike via White Stars. In essence they threaten force to keep the peace.

G'Kar and Londo have freed Na'Toth and when it is all said and done I cannot for the life of me completely understand the point of having Julie Caitlin Brown guest on the show. It is nearly pointless. I definitely would have enjoyed a more fruitful part and a little more character work on this one. I point to her work early on where she really sank her teeth into the part. There isn't much in the script here for her. It's a job I suppose.

Bester and the telepaths prepare for battle against Byron and his forces. It's definitely not playing out like classic Greek tragedy, but if death is on the horizon for this storyline I welcome its arrival like Brutus and Cassius to Julius Caesar.

A Tragedy Of Telepaths: C [B for the G'Kar/ Londo material]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

B5 S5 Ep9: In The Kingdom Of The Blind

G'Kar is a bigger Narn than most considering his latest role for Londo might be perceived by most as a form of enslavement. Given the Narn-Centauri history most would not go so willingly under the guise of 'bodyguard.'

Okay, so Babylon 5 appeared a little out of order according to one directory I enjoy perusing organized by SciFi Stream. Day Of The Dead was tagged as Episode 11, whilst the DVD box set for Season 5 clearly has it pegged and hard-coded as Episode 8. I'm sure there is some logical explanation out there in the dark, great, vastness of cyberspace.

The latest entry sees Sheridan, Garibaldi & Delenn discussing hit and run attacks on the shipping lanes. Sheridan always suspects the Raiders, but this time they are not so sure. The attacks are too precise and almost military-like in style. The Rangers are deployed to the shipping lanes for the latest installment, Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 9, In The Kingdom Of The Blind.

A Centauri warship arrives on Centauri Prime carrying Londo and G'Kar to the homeworld. The first notable exchange makes it clear their is certainly racism very much in play toward the Narn by the Centauri. I suspect the same would hold true for the Narn toward the Centauri. These things don't go away easily and in some cases never will. Can you say the Middle East? G'Kar rubs his presence in amidst the Centauri. Londo informs the Centauri that G'Kar is his bodyguard. G'Kar asks what time is dinner because he's starved. HA! G'Kar is a good-natured soul and one of the rare exceptions who channels forgiveness and has a faith most simply do not possess. How far we've come.

Back on Babylon 5 Byron is doing his damndest to stir up his teeps. Byron serves a narrative purpose by recapping how the telepaths came to be via the Vorlons. He also reminds us how the telepeeps are very much the legacy of that war and one of its many casualties/consequences/results.

On Centauri Prime, G'Kar is frisking all visitors to Londo's quarters. Londo inquires about the Regent [brilliantly played again by Damian London], but is informed of his unstable nature at the moment. He has been mostly in seclusion. The Regent is apparently drinking heavily and Londo is very surprised to hear that news. Of course it is no doubt to control the Keeper that is tied to his neck. Londo notes things are certainly quieter since Cartagia's departure. Still, things are also stranger. Many venues of Centauri life are being classified as top secret and no one knows why. All suspect the Regent will no doubt see Prime Minister Londo Mollari.

I have to admit, this season has been fairly uneven for me. I haven't loved it to be sure. In fact, and I'm a little stunned at myself for what I'm about to profess as it is early yet, but I prefer Season One over this one thus far. It has been unbalanced on some level for me. The actors are doing their best with some of the weakest material to date, but that comes across as well. I know the telepath thread has been a big part of it. That thread hasn't been of great interest to me or captured my imagination. I know it's early.

Following his meeting with Londo Lord Jano returns to his room and finds the Regent is sitting in his quarters in his constant state of inebriation [no doubt]. "I think we're well beyond pastels now" he tells the Lord. Things have definitely become dark for the Regent. This is not a happy time or place for him. Drunk, he tells the Lord he would never harm him if it was his decision, but it is not and the Lord is tossed across the room by a large shadow. You'll recall the keeper on his neck first referenced in Season Four, Episode 7, Epiphanies. The Regent is doing his best to maintain sanity, but things are clearly out of his control.

On the station Byron tells his lady love Lyta something is brewing. She asks him if he's ever afraid and Byron tells her "constantly."

On the homeworld, Londo demands to see the Regent. He is informed he may not. This scene is good, but for some reason not as good as these kinds of scenes often are on Babylon 5. I like when G'Kar blows a kiss to the Centauri babe. They must have loved him for that move. At least he enjoys pouring salt in the wound in his current role. He unabashedly lets it all hang out. There is nothing submissive or sheepish about this Narn.

Londo is taken to Lord Jano's quarters where he is found hanging. This is not a result of one of those strange auto-erotic sex acts. It's not suicide either. This is of course murder.
Yikes! Angry Drazi!
On the station Byron asks Garibaldi for help. He asks to see the alliance council. Garibaldi needs to know why, but Byron says he needs to keep it to himself. I love that. I need you to do this, but I can't tell you why. I mean, Garibaldi doesn't even get a "trust me." Byron goes into Garibaldi's head and extracts info from him regarding the shipping lane attacks. Byron gets his wish. Byron goes into hi sob story again. Wah, wah about how they are a nationless people and they have been abandoned. Oh for cryin' out loud get over yourself. He submits his agenda regarding his desire to have a telepath homeworld. Sheridan tells him he is "out of order." Byron is such an annoying hippie dude. Give me ,give me, give me. Here's an idea, buy a nice Earth home and assimilate into life with other people and stop being a super hippie dick. Super dick, super dick, you're super dickie. Yow! The One To Be Pitied is signing Men Without Hats' Safety Dance because Byron is reminding her of the Canadian lead singer Ivan from way back in the day. Well, it turns out Byron has had his telepaths tailing the various races for a few days. They have been gathering all of their secrets. Prickaroonies! Oh and if they do not comply they will be the victims of telepathic black mail. Excuse me, what a pretty, Fabio-looking scumbag. This is your standard we don't like how we're treated, but we will use every maneuver at our disposal to get what we want. I believe this possibly leads to terrorism.
Later, Delenn plays into the telepathic demands attack and admits "perhaps we do have an obligation to them." Garibaldi: "Fine, I'll set 'em up a trust fund." Delenn, come on with the bleeding heart. What next telepathic reparations? Sheridan, ever the realist, talks about the idealism of the situation. Folks! They are forcing your hand. Don't cave to black mail. Sheridan points out there is no violence... yet, as Garibaldi adds. Get your testicles together before these pretty boys rip them off.

I like this pumpkinhead-like costume head. It's kinda cool.
Londo's request for the floor by the Regent is granted. Things look particularly bleak when you see black-robed Centauri running around with swords down dark corridors. G'Kar takes on the assassins and is blocked by a falling door. G'Kar is immensely courageous. All is not well on Centauri Prime. This is a plot line I have missed. Suddenly, Londo is confronted by a Lord who wants Londo dead to pave the way for his own political ambitions. The Centauri are a truly nasty race of political assassins. They will do anything for power. They are like the Romans. A knife is thrown, always the weapon of choice, at Londo but freezes in mid-air and is thrust back upon the Lord himself who is killed instead. A being with glowing eyes stands in the room. Could it be the Drakh? Londo is alive and reunites with G'Kar who has made short work of the three buffoons.

Byron impresses upon his group there is safety in numbers and that they must stick together and sing Coke commercials. Just kidding. Some of the telepaths have been separated and are being utilized as punching bags across the station. Byron's people ignore his orders and go out to help the others assaulted by the various alien races. Violence and bloodshed are the orders of the day. Byron is so moved by the violence he is caressed and consoled by Lyta's loving touch. He is a truly pathetic, girly man.
Zack goes to Sheridan under orders from Lochley to determine what to do with the telepeeps. Sheridan considers caving into the terrorist, er telepath demands, but needs to put them in custody first.

Byron is delusional. He reckons other worlds will soften to their plight. Seriously dude, these aliens eat each other for breakfast. They ain't gonna give two good fish sticks about you there Goldilocks. Byron is living in a dream world. Other telepaths would prefer to fight back and kill if necessary. Byron is disgusted by such actions. So nearly half the telepeeps leave, while the rest fall in and enclose Byron with their protective, cult-like, love-fawning. They preen over him and do their weird group pawing adoring their Fabio master. Just ridiculous.

This creepy fellow is very cool, but also different in appearance from the glowing-eyed fellow. What is their connection? I can see why the Techno-Mages got out of dodge long ago.
Londo and G'Kar are looking for the Regent, but are getting no help until they witness a hand summoning them forth into the emperor's room. The Regent is clearly controlled by an invading force as we return to some of the storyline that once caught my interest in Season Four. Apparently these things LIKE Londo. They have much in common. The Regent tells Londo to leave while he can still enjoy his life before he becomes emperor. Londo is disturbed by what he sees in the Regent. Following his departure a creature lurks in the shadows constricting the Regent's breathing with the tentacle of one of those keeper creatures complete with cool eyeball.

While in his quarters Londo indicates he is frightened for the first time to G'Kar. G'Kar is stunned to hear Londo is scared and decides he, too, will not sleep.

Zack utilizes the intercom to flush out the teeps. A battle aboard the station is brewing indeed. Byron asks Lyta to promise she will follow his directions. She promises with her warm body and sultry lips. I might play the wounded cult leader too.

This episode started to go somewhere for me in the end particularly with the Centauri thread, but it is still lacking in the standard Babylon 5 magic I had come to expect.

In The Kingdom Of The Blind: B-

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Star Runners

What do you get when you mix Enterprise's Connor Trinneer with Heroes' James Kyson Lee? How about a Sci Fi Original Movie and your standard banal Sci Fi Channel title, Star Runners [or is that SyFy- soon]. Throw in a sexy, well-defined, Mariah Carey looking space chick in a skimpy pink dress and you've got yourself a winner. As I sat down to chill for a bit I remembered Sci Fi Channel had a movie on its "most dangerous night of television" [yes, to your health] that I was interested in checking out. So as I started watching I thought I'd write about it without giving it too much effort.

Star Runners is actually pure science fiction delight for fans of the actors and fans of series like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Enterprise or Stargate. It may not have the same standards of excellence, but my initial reaction was that it looked to be a fun thrill ride through space with reasonably entertaining actors or familiar faces. My opinion of the movie would dissolve quickly.

The special effects are equally solid for a change. They rank up there with any of the series I mentioned previously and that's always a good start. The ships, the jumps. All of your standard sci fi cliches are in order and there were some unique takes on technology to begin things.

The dialogue was snappy and fun. Okay, I can't do it any longer. It really is truly a terrible movie, but it's terrific science fiction cheese in the best possible sense. As far as the worst in science fiction goes this ranks up there as one of the best of the worst if that's possible.

Trinneer and Lee crash on a planet with a host of others after being fired upon by a governmental entity [nod to Firefly] and attempt to survive alien space bugs [nod to Starship Troopers or Pitch Black]. In fact, with their skimpy buxom chick as their secret weapon [nod to Firefly's River Tam] it's as if someone took Heroes, Enterprise, Pitch Black, Firefly, Stargate and other assorted sci fi ideas and tossed it into a blender. The vibe is made all the more ridiculous by some silly long jacketed wardrobing for Trineer and company coupled with god awful dialogue and a weak script. As a result you get your serviceable sci fi survival yarn and a pay check for the actors we know and love.

Each survivor is essentially picked off one by one. I actually wrote this paragraph before it started happening that's how predictable we're talking. Heads are lopped off while people piss. You know how it goes. One of the best things about this movie is watching the sheer stupidity of its characters unravel before your very eyes. Characters literally have all of the facts at their disposal that they will die if they do A and it is clearly advisable that they should do B if they want to live. What is the best option then, do A anyway. What!? It's hilarious. My Boy Wonder happened to stumble into the room and said it best, "they're all really dumb."

Anyway as the story moves along Lee's character gets hacked up pretty good. We get your standard 'forget about me, save yourselves, I'll lay and die here while I clutch a grenade and take whatever of those bastards with me that I can' sacrificial lamb story for his friends. His sacrifice proved to me he truly was a hero after all [wink wink]. Meanwhile, the girl in the skimpy pink dress has all sorts of unbelievable superpowers speaking of heroes. She may have as job in Heroes Season Five. Everyone wants the girl, but not like that friends. The bugs have them on the run, the agents have them on the run and they just fire away, fire away and fire away. Those guns have to be red hot. The Boy Wonder watches and wonders, "don't they ever run out of ammo?" I reply "ya'd think." "Is this a good movie?" he inquires. "Not really." In the end there is a bit of a revenge tale and the girl with superpowers as a result of heavy radiation gets her final moment in the sun.

The characters run alot. They run and run and run [while they shoot]. They are also on a star of a sort. Apart from the celestial body, our actors are also stars. They are Star Runners! Oh and the enemy governmental ship in the movie also looks suspiciously like a pale imitation of the Battlestar Galactica. The effects aren't that good. So, you can do yourself a favor and run far away from this one. If you're sick and lying on the couch clutching a ginger ale then this might make you feel better.

Star Runners: C- [I like the space chick. Her bodaciousness saves this one from the D mark]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

B5 S5 Ep8: Day Of The Dead

Reunited and it feels soooo good. Reunited 'cause we understood. There's one perfect fit. And, Sugar, this one is it. We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited hey, hey.

It is a night that comes every two hundred years, the Day of the Dead, signalled by a comet. Penn and Teller arrive on the station. Oh brother. They are Rebo and Zooty. I'm not so sure this is a good thing. I never did get Penn and Teller or many other comic teams for that matter. On the upside, Lennier has arrived aboard the station in a rare appearance thus far this season.

Let us proceed forward with the comic antics, or so I'm told, of Rebo and Zooty aboard Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 9, Day Of The Dead. Rebo and Zooty appear to have perfected the art of comedy as a universal language in speaking to any race or religion. Expect much fun to be had by all. It is notable the entry was written by comic book writer Neil Gaiman. This of course being the rare exception to the consistent work of J. Michael Straczynski as writer for every entry throughout much of the series. Season Five has lacked much of the quality that remained a constant from Season Two through Season Four.

It was notable Scoggins hair was particularly unruly and large in this episode, nearly retro-80s. The Brakiri are in the process of an exchange with Captain Lochley when G'Kar barges in on the meeting in an effort to stop the proceedings.

One of the Brakiri explains to Garibaldi that the comet represents the death of all Brakiri. This is all very brakuliar. It is especially curious when G'Kar requests passage to sleep in C&C from Lt. Corwin. He wants to be far away from the Brakiri. Lt. Corwin says "looks like a quiet night." G'Kar insists "looks can be deceptive." The latter quote has certainly been one of Straczynski's operating rules throughout the series on what the viewers may perceive one way despite being another. G'Kar must have some history and knowledge of the Brakiri to be so suspect. Red lights begin to appear on various parts of the station.

Londo is in his quarters making conversation regarding the day of the dead with the late emperor of Centauri. Things begin to go strangely awry for various parties within the Brakiri sector. In an unexpected move Adira returns [and the actress who played her] appearing before Londo. I was mildly stunned to see her return. I never thought she would grace us again with her presence since she ended up in a body bag in Season Three, Episode 15, Interludes And Examinations. I assumed they were unable to land the services of the actress. Londo is overjoyed by her presence. Londo is easily prepared to give it all away to have her back. Can you blame him?
In Garibaldi's quarters he is awakened by the sound of the shower running and the presence of a woman. You'll recall testosterone-drive Dodger who ended up dead on the battlefield waaaay back from the groundpounders episode [Season Two, Episode 10, Gropos].
Lochley is visited by a girl named Zoe. She apologizes for killing herself. This is clearly a day of visitation by the dead indeed. I suspected it would be. It's like the ghosts of Christmas past have come home to haunt our station cast.
Now I get it, only the Minbari were the ones who ever actually understood the humor of Penn & Teller. Of course, it all makes perfect sense now.
Lt. Corwin contacts Sheridan to indicate something is missing. Unfortunately a whole area of Babylon 5 is cordoned off for the Brakiri ritual of the dead. Anyone within that area appears to receive odd visitations. The funny thing is we never really cared about the groundpounder girl so it didn't mean much seeing her. Zoe who? I understand she's there to develop Lochley's character, but it just seemed a little forced and pointless in the end. Sheridan throws something at the red wall of light and the physical item simply bounces back at him off of the electrical field. No one shall enter with things under way.
Morden: In not nearly as nefarious mode.
Elsewhere Lennier is visited by the most interesting of all visitors- none other than Mr. "what do you want" Morden, but why? Oh and he does have his head. You'll recall he kind of lost his head in Season Four, Episode 6, Into The Fire.

Still, not sure why Morden is visiting Lennier? Lennier is told by Morden he will betray the An'la'shok. He is told he will die soon enough too. Unless there is some significance to this visit it just adds up to an episode that really wasn't adding up for me. There is not much rhyme or reason to why he would know this information or why he would appear to Lennier. It's a bit of a head scratcher.
Meanwhile G'Kar rests comfortably in C&C and now I can see why. Zoe is still catching up with Lochley.
The Voluptuous, fully babe-o-matic Adira. Yeah, I could dream about her too.
It all feels a little forced. Garibaldi is catching up with Dodger the groundpounder. I don't get it. Lise's ex-husband not available? Londo is getting tuned-up by Adira. That's not so bad and certainly the most sensible of the lot. Now of all the visitations I would have to say his is by far the best and the one I would enjoy the most myself. I always had a thing for Adira. She's like Sinead O'Connor for cryin' out loud. She's bald and hot! Okay she's hotter than Sinead but you know what I mean. Sinead was fairly hot before she went all banana head on the world. How about a Melissa Gilbert visitation of Sheridan? That might have been good. The problem I have on the whole is the story thread is spread out across too many people with very little impact on the whole. Had we had a full on Gilbert/ Boxleitner entry it might have been interesting. Focusing on one story, maybe two would have been better. Four was too much and merely skims the surface of the related cross-section of stories.

Now, Lochley contacts Sheridan from twenty-seven light years away as the Day of the Dead is coming to an end. When it's all over she calls the religious exercise a metaphor. Huh? She doesn't seem the type much into metaphors, but she is one to ensure laws are followed and proper protocols met.
So Lochley's sale of a square mile of the space station to the Brakiri for their religious holiday of the dead is a smashing success despite being a bit like haunted Love Boat. Where the hell is Susan Ivanova when you need her? Rebo and Zooty, I mean Penn and Teller - NOT funny! They never were funny. That's why they aren't around anymore. Are they? Didn't Londo just love Rebo and Zooty? Perhaps he would have enjoyed them here but they never bring the characters within the same airspace. What exactly was the point of Rebo & Zooty?
"I know we're no longer together but did I mention I always loved your 80s heavy metal power rock hairdo?" / "No." / "Well, I should have."
In the final moments, Lochley indicates her need for a little mystery once in awhile. She also has a message for Sheridan from Kosh. "When the long night comes return to the end of the beginning." Yup, that's Kosh alright. Hmm, could we be seeing something come full circle? Sheridan says thank you and appears to actually understand the message. They were united as one once, a singular entity. Still, these entities of the dead seemed to appear to the people who are within the Brakiri religious zone so why would Kosh appear to Lochley and give a message to Sheridan? Sorry, I'm not buying it. I know it happened but it really didn't make sense. It was another bit of shoehorning.

G'Kar seems mildly regretful of his choice to sit out the exercise of the dead. I thought there might be a bit more to the reasoning behind G'Kar's decision to stay outside the Brakiri zone. It was a bit of a let down.
Finally we do see Londo with Rebo and Zooty. I knew he loved those guys. He has that wacky sense of humor to go along with theirs. The always silent and quiet Zooty [or is it Rebo?] whispers the words "because it tells me to" into Sheridan's ear. Perhaps it is his heart that tells him to keep quiet. Okay friends feel free to enlighten me to the greatness behind this entry because I just ain't seein' it.
You know my distaste for this episode is fairy logical. It is notable that it was written by Neil Gaiman and I felt he failed to capture the essence of the characters, the heart, the truth and the flow of these people. I felt that came across and I know he's like a comic book writing god. I suspect it must have been an honor for his pen to guest on the show, but it fell flat. It must have been a potentially welcomed relief for Straczynski in an effort to get his writing house in order for the remainder of the season. I don't know, but it's possible given the fact scripts had gone missing. It would be the only episode in all of Season 5 not written by J. Michael Straczynski. He would write all the others including two with Harlan Ellison [A View From The Gallery worked for me]. This one does not work well enough. This was yet another disjointed affair and like most of Season Five I am feeling a bit awkward about the proceedings.

Day Of The Dead: D for DEAD ON ARRIVAL [okay, maybe a bit harsh, but on average doesn't hold up to anything from the previous seasons]

Sci Fi to SyFy Logo

The Sci Fi Channel is altering its logo from Sci Fi to SyFy soon. Have you ever seen anything so stupid? What exactly is the point? Sci Fi stands for Science Fiction, not SyFy. Do we have to always be so cute and clever or hip and cool? What is wrong with the existing logo? What happened to standards? Quite frankly, Sci Fi Wire used to offer outstanding science fiction news and information and then it was decided that too should go the route of trying to be cool and trendy. It's now the gossip wire and it's loaded with stupid stories and not-so-clever or even accurate science fiction commentaries or analysis. If you are going to be the voice of science fiction you have got to have standards and get things right. It must be substance over style. Change is good sometimes, but change for the sake of change isn't necessarily good. I haven't liked what I've seen so far and I've given it time to digest. When it comes to change, be careful what you wish for. I prefer Sci Fi over SyFy and I won't be changing this blog to Musings Of A SyFy Fanatic. You see, that is just too darn stupid. It's just a bad idea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

B5 S5 Ep7: Secrets Of The Soul

The entry begins with one of the most impressive make-up/animatronic pieces thus far in the series with a full working Pak'ma'ra face. In fact, it could be the only one in the series to date.

Dr. Franklin is cataloguing all infection-based issues entering onto the station. I’m a little surprised it has taken this long to be concerned about this issue quite frankly Franklin. The Exorcist-like green, projectile vomiting is also a great moment in the opening frames. Regan [actress Linda Blair] would be proud.

'I really do need a change of occupation.' - Franklin-
More telepaths arrive on the station and it’s all hugs and kisses within the cult of elitists. I completely agree with Zack that this little psycho sect is going to be a big problem down the road. It’s a circus of freaks of a sort, by the simple fact they refuse to assimilate. Welcome to Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 7, Secrets Of The Soul.

Zack engages Lyta and asks why she is with “those people.” I know what he means. He is upset she is caught up in what behaves like a cult. Prior to their arrival Lyta stood on her own. Actually, poor Lyta was VERY much on her own prior to their arrival often used and abused. It's easy to see how she might fall prey to such a group. I suppose the argument can be made for extremism of any kind. She never fit in and even when she tried it was difficult for her. She clearly feels as though she belongs to something greater than herself now. It’s easy to see both sides through her story.

There is definitely a hint of the old green-eyed monster in there for Zack as well. He was forging a bond with Lyta before her teeps arrived. He thought a little cheese and some pepperoni slices and he might be adding a little sausage to their next pizza date. Oh!

Elsewhere, regular folk who are looking for a confrontation confront the telepaths. Byron tells the fellow to strike him and the man proceeds to whack Byron three times. Byron begins dumping his heady, philosophical, mumbo jumbo on the man and points to the reality that the man's anger has little to do with Byron. The teeps are allowed to pass.

Dr. Franklin meets with fanny-headed aliens regarding confidentiality of their medical information and assures them he is willing to die to protect their data. They are concerned he will find out something secret about their species. Maybe they are buttheads. Man, I am in a rare mood today. Babylon 5 is populated with buttheads and boneheads just like Earth.

Lyta visits with Byron who is resting. Lyta is displeased with his act of satyagraha or non-violence. Byron believes violence is the way of the mundanes and he abhors it. Psi Corps has adopted the methods he implores. Violence is applied out of fear. A big wet kiss ensues. Lyta is finding love. Byron asks why Lyta leaves each evening. She feels she just doesn’t belong quite yet. I think in her heart she feels she does belong despite her words. She would very much like to stay. She would also like Byron to be her main wiener man. He asks the cult if she belongs and they all gather around her with their weird pawing and stroking. Their show of affection and ability to sing a good song like I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing wins her over.

Meanwhile, Dr. Franklin is given incomplete, recorded data by the Hyac race. Franklin wonders what it is they are hiding.

A stuttering, newbie teep, Peter, who arrived earlier is confronted by the same gang that confronted Byron for the beatfest and he too is beaten badly. He is brought to medlab to be saved. The telepaths torture a man, but Byron intervenes and stops them, willing them to “let it go.” Byron is arrested by Zack and security.

Dr. Franklin continues to dig up information and like anyone who goes digging he will surely find something. Franklin learns something about the Hyacto and is hijacked by one of the Hyac at gunpoint to his head. Well it turns out the Hyac killed off the Hyacto. Genocide! The Hyac have paid the price. What price? Their population is shrinking. They are dying. Apparently they needed the Hyacto. Without the Hyacto they will die, but they learned that fact too late. In killing the Hyacto they have inadvertently given their race a slow death sentence. Franklin says he can try to help them. The elders of the Hyac prefer to keep their shame hidden. The race considers the possibility of revealing that shame in order to survive. How could they not know the Hyacto were needed for reproduction?
An image of the Hyacto.
Byron asks to speak with his people before people die, but he remains imprisoned with little way of communicating. Hmmm, here's an idea, how about telepathy? Just a thought. It normally works for you, unless a line of sight is needed. Byron warns Zack keeping him locked up will lead to people dying. Zack releases Byron. Nice. Still, I know in his own loopy, Fabio-headed, weird way Byron means well. There seems to be some question regarding how to control these unbridled telepathic powers.
Yes, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Lyta in action!
Byron is dovish and Lyta is hawkish. The two embrace and love grows between them. They both have really, pretty, long hair. WHOA! Lyta just de-robed! BABY! Lyta fears she may burn Byron if they break through one another's barriers. Come on, break on through to the other side Lyta. Byron replies, "then let it burn." Ouch! Burn baby burn, disco inferno. Actually, I think that's called Herpes. Anyway, the sex is hot and apparently others within the cult can watch through veils that line the room. It's one of THOSE cults. What is up with all these voyeurs, Minbari and telepaths, who love to watch? Is there no privacy for sex in the future? We are treated to flashbacks and some unique new shots of Lyta's transformation and modifications at the hands of the Vorlons. Her eyes turn dark black and we see Lyta in a tank of fluid next to a rubber, alien, doll baby in a tank of fluid next to many other rubber, alien, doll babies. All of the teeps are looking on at her teets and the love-making and the images within her mind. This truly is funky stuff. We are treated to extensive images of severe Vorlon experimentation. All the information regarding Vorlon genetic experimentation and the creation of telepaths is now on the table. Aliens from across the galaxies were utilized for the Vorlons against the Shadows as we know this just paints the picture a little further. Byron knows their lives have been altered thanks to the knowledge offered by Lyta. Byron is all worked up and can't get over it. He wants to settle a score with the Vorlons. Byron plans on using the information to land the telepaths a planet of their very own. Lyta asks him what he'll do if the alliance cannot help. For a guy who is all about control he indicates they will make sure they have no other choice but to comply with their wishes. Okay. I'm thinking a telepath bailout is in order here or it will be certain disaster.

Secrets Of The Soul: C

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

They'd Like To Teach The World To Sing In Perfect Harmony

Okay, maybe not the world, but the Coke commercial audio was just too perfect for this group of telepathic wack-a-doodles conceived by J. Michael Straczynski for Babylon 5.

Monday, June 1, 2009

B5 S5 Ep6: Strange Relations

Yikes! All that yelling. This is definitely an ex-wife.

So we begin as Delenn discusses John's reasons for selecting Lochley with Lochley herself. Lochley is a little caught off guard. Still, the exchange is pleasant and Delenn indicates she understands. Still, we, the audience, are very much in the dark. Lochley would prefer to keep it that way. Hmmm. She would prefer not to share the information. Well, Garibaldi eavesdrops and overhears the exchange.

Zack meets with Londo. Londo tells him he would be the second Emperor Mollari. It all ended badly for him and Londo fears it will go badly for him personally as well. Londo suspects the "badly" begins now.
Transport 11719 has turned off autpilot and is attempting to dock. Corwin advises them accordingly but the ship appears unable to heed his orders and the vessel crashes into the entry gate. And so begins the mess that is Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 6, Strange Relations [or Some Relationships We'd Rather Forget]. Lochley advises her maintenance crew accordingly on clean up. As Lochley exits we see the markings of a Psi Corps ship docking. It would appear Lester is back in the house.
Lyta pays a visit to medlab for goods to supply her new telepath buddies. Lyta is clearly willing to beg, borrow and steal for her newfound friends. She has fallen hard for the cult of Byron. She really believes in his mission. Franklin tells Lyta if she needs something to just ask for it in the future. She is clearly mosing sight of right and wrong or at the very least taking on the us versus them mentality of her boy.
Lyta brings the goods to Byron. I have a feeling she'll be bringing her personal goods to his bedside in the future. Byron speaks poetically to Lyta and likens her to that of a Willow tree. The One To Be Pitied happened to be in the room and felt it necessary to pipe in with "can I vommit now?" I have to admit, it does come off a bit cheesy. I mean, this guy is a bore. Nevertheless, I want you to know, The One To Be Pitied makes fun of Battlestar Galactica as well. Trust me, there is no science fiction show safe from the vitriolic and venomous tongue of The One To Be Pitied [see photo of Lochley at top]. I will have her give me her favorite science fiction experience someday with her own personal thoughts and place that here for all to see. That should make for an entertaining entry. Anyway, the steady beat of footsteps alarms the telepaths. Psi Corps is coming. This is one of the notorious Bloodhound Units. We were hinted to the Bloodhound Units in Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 17, The Face Of The Enemy. This could be promising.
Elsewhere, Garibaldi is informed of Bester's arrival and he just launches off to find his ass. Remember, he has a bone to pick with Bester based on information revealed [again] in The Face Of The Enemy. He makes his way toward Bester, but Lochley pushes him back and gives him a hard right hook throwing him into the brig. Bester smugly sits tight knowing he has the upper hand to be sure with that kind of support.
G'Kar and Delenn approach Franklin about handling cross-species infectious studies. Franklin, ever the medical geek hunk [to the ladies of course], happily obliges.
Ahhh, more yelling.
Lochley reports to Sheridan. Apparently the telepaths are wanted on a variety of charges by Psi Corps, hence Bester's visit at the behest of the guiding hand of Earth gov. Lochley is "annoyingly" by the book, but she is a law and order girl to be sure and that is the right thing to do in her shoes. Sheridan informs Lochley the telepaths will not be going home with Bester. He gave his word to them. Sheridan's role has not been nearly as exciting this season. He's like some kind of paper pusher. I know he's the President, but I'd prefer an action President.
A Centauri Prime War Cruiser explodes after setting course to Centauri Prime. Londo was unable to make the liner's scheduled flight and lucky for him is still very much alive.
Lochley determines her security file was accessed by Garibaldi as she speaks with Zack. She is understandably less than pleased. But an argument could be made that Garibaldi has the authorization to check her out, based on the criminal justice nature of her role on the station as well as his role as assigned to Sheridan. It is possible that it is perfectly legal, while seeming slimy.
Bester meets with Lyta. Lyta won't give the psycho club up. She tells Bester he'll need to find them himself. Lyta psi-jams the Bloodhound group and tells them to leave. Bester tells her to stand aside but she has some significant power at her disposal thanks to those gone but not forgotten Vorlons.

Lyta warns Byron to leave and he gives her a good, old fashioned Byron romantic liplock. By the way, it's all a little too wink, wink, nudge, nudge for me to buy the whole Byron gig. I mean, George Gordon Byron was a poet and figure and British figure in Romanticism, an artistic, intellectual movement in Europe in the 18th Century, and I get the connection. This guy Byron is a poet and has the whole British thing accent and he's the leader of his own weirdo movement. It's just a little too convenient and he's a strange fellow leading a creepy core of crazies.
Lochley visits Garibaldi in the brig. Could there be more yelling?

Okay, no yelling there. So, Lochley and Sheridan were married. They did seem to exhibit signs they might have been an item at one time. For a couple of ex-spouses they sure are cold to one another. Granted I've seen folks who were once married like that as well as those who are such good friends you think they should get re-married. Anyway, I can believe it. Lochley receives word an attempt will be made to round up the telepaths.
Moments later the telepaths are rounded up and Lyta is pissed with Bester and disappointed with Zack and the security personnel. But, her man Byron is still free. Byron is going to say goodbye and calls upon Lyta to bid her a drippingly romantic farewell.
The Bloodhound units are on the prowl and two of them run into Byron who looks like he may implode their heads with his mind as they make a run at him. Unfortunately nothing that good happens.
Delenn and G'Kar discuss Londo's enemies. G'Kar says he has many. Delenn asks G'Kar to be Londo's bodyguard which made me immediately recall the final moments of G'Kar strangling Londo. It makes sense to see a friend kill a friend out of mercy and that moment would explain why G'Kar was near Londo's thrown at his end of days. I have to give credit to G'Kar for Narning up to do such a job. It would seem slavery/bodyguard might feel closely connected to someone like G'Kar whose people were enslaved by the Centauri. Being a bodyguard could feel a bit like being a servant.
Lochley meets with Bester regarding the telepaths to give him the bad news that they will not be leaving with him. Lochley uses Franklin's new medical role over cross-species inspection to hold the telepaths aboard Babylon 5. I'm a little surprised Bester didn't find the cock block obvious enough, but he could have scanned her to know she was clearly under order by Sheridan. Bester stands over Byron and would like to at least take him. The Bloodhound Unit men are still alive by the way. Lochley says sorry no go. Lochley indicates they will not be allowed to leave Babylon 5. Bester is surprisingly cooperative and trusting of Lochley. I suppose he has no reason to fear her or doubt her since they have had past associations according to Lochley. Lochley tells Byron not to leave the station. Zack calls Byron a martyr. Byron is NO Marcus and his group of crazies are just plain boring. Also, I was expecting the Bloodhound Units to be a little more impressive and fearsome. They were also a let down.
The telepaths reunite and it's all happy, happy, joy, joy and I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. This really is a bizarre bunch. And folks I like bizarre. I like weird when it's right, but this is just a little off-putting. Trust me, when I was in college I brought to The Illiad to the beach to read. I was completely ripped for weird. They were like, 'looks like a nic ebeach read there.' They can't help themselves. They have no idea. They wouldn't know a good epic yarn if it hit them in the head with a battle sword. So I've been place in the 'not right' category. I digress.
Londo is informed G'Kar will be Londo's bodyguard. "Great maker!" proclaims Londo. He loves it and
you know it. The old lovers squabble over the aisle and window seats of the journey home.
Lochley finally releases Garibaldi from the brig. Poor guy gets absolutely no satisfaction.
Hanging with Byron's creepy little posse.
It's a candlelight vigil of the weird variety with the telepaths in their section of the station. It's very Wrapped Around Your Finger [The Police] with all those candles. They sing some kind of crap song you wouldn't find on a light radio station. It's kind of queer. The One To Be Pitied calls Byron, Fabio. The whole thing really is a bit on the gay side.

Strange Relations: C