Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Tripods (television series)

I first heard of the Tripods stuff because when I was a kid they had a comic about it in Boy’s Life.  I don’t know where I got a copy of the magazine from, but I assumed the comic was some sort of War of the Worlds lift & I loved Killraven which was also a War of the Worlds lift.  I never found out anything more about it.  Then I was nosing around for some british sci-fi television shows & I found they had a program based on the same books as the comic strip.
So this television show… I guess it’s for kids… but not in subject matter.  The storyline is that aliens have taken over & humans are functioning as an agrarian society & borderline slave race.  The aliens take teenagers & install some technology to keep them from having rebellious thoughts & keep them docile the rest of their life.  So there’s a couple kids who are suspicious of this & run away & have adventures & over the course of a year or so become bona fide revolutionaries.  There is some kind of weird unexpressed idea behind the series that love/sex domesticates a person & keeps them from fulfilling their potential.  It kind of feels like a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Rings coming of age thing.  The acting quality is along the lines of the original Degrassi & most of the time there aren’t any actual special effects to speak of.  The intro to it is some really weird ominous computer animation that is interesting, but not at all indicative of the series.  As teen sci-fi goes you could do a lot worse.  I kinda liked that a lot of the characters were kind of annoying & endearing at the same time.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Death Note (anime)

I first found out about Death Note when I was looking at the graphic novels of a Borders going out of business. Normally I don’t get manga books because it takes seven books to tell one story, but they had The Complete Death Note so I assumed it was a whole story. While I was thinking about it someone else grabbed it, so I grabbed Death Note Vols I & II which were all they had & about the same thickness as the complete one. So I was surprised & a little let down that not only did the second one complete the story, there were another five volumes. Even though I liked the story, I never got used to the modern manga translations going right to left & I didn’t want to drop $50 to read the rest of the story. Then one day Hulu recommended the anime of Death Note to me.

So I have to say it’s fairly awesome. The premise is a high school kid finds a notebook a demon uses to kill people & rather than use it on rival students, he uses it to make the world a better place by taking out serial killers & war criminals. The police wise up to him & then it’s a slippery slope of killing innocent policemen in order to serve the greater good. So all about moral ambiguity, which seems like a big interest of mine lately. If it sounds interesting to you, you should probably watch it. It kind of reminds me of Breaking Bad in the way you just are on edge waiting for the train wreck to happen. It also pretty much has total closure, which I also like in a series.

I will say though that the last 1/3 of the series they use a metal song instead of a j-pop song as the intro & somehow that makes those episodes way less interesting to me. It’s funny how much of an impact music can have on things.
Original intro:

Metal intro:

Watch the First Episode on Hulu

Holy cow, I just found out there’s a live action movie!:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Survivors (1975 BBC)

I first heard of Survivors when the 2008 version was playing on BBC America. It sounded like something I’d be into – post-apocalyptic survival, british, it even starred a girl from Doctor Who. I tried to watch an episode & I remember it suffering from a few things that made me never give it a chance. It had the video game cinematography, it had a ton of characters, & things that were supposed to be dirty felt clean (I think it’s really hard to get dirt right, because almost no one ever does – or maybe as actors & actresses are more & more reliant on good looks than acting skills they realize dirt has a negative impact). So I blew it off completely. Then I was reading a thing about british sci-fi & they mentioned Survivors being a TV show written by Terry Nation of Doctor Who fame that was on from 1975 – 1978. I’d had no idea that the 2008 one was a reboot, so I decided to check out the original.
Wow, this show is pretty bleak. It starts off with introducing you to plenty of characters, but you don’t really need to know their names because by the second episode most of them have died of a plague. A typical dark scene is a woman has shacks with a guy who breaks his leg & she decides to leave him to die & find another dude to help her survive in the post-apocalyptic world. & that is pretty much what this series is about, watching your own sense of right & wrong decay with the world. It starts off it’s okay to shoot someone to defend yourself & then it’s okay to shoot someone to defend your loved ones & then it’s okay to shoot someone to defend your home & then it’s okay to shoot someone to defend your food & then it’s okay to shoot someone to steal their food. It’s all very logical. It brings up & explores things about the purpose of government & leadership & whether democracy is communistic & if martialism or monarch may be superior to democracy & whether or not people are ever willing to accept personal responsibility. This show does suffer a bit from when Terry Nation leaves that the new writers don’t seem to have a guidebook (it starts out that no two people related have survived nor even any two people that have ever met each other before to there suddenly being tons of family around) & it does have a thing where they introduce a new character so you can grow attached & watch them die in a couple episodes. I think the show definitely jumps the shark when it shifts from trying to have individual bands of people survive to trying to rebuild national & global powers, but I imagine it was super influential to all the post-apocalyptic stuff I love from the ten years following it. So if you are one of those people like me that realizes when zombie movies are good they aren’t about zombies & horror & gore; but about the decay of human spirit & moral ambiguity & if survival is reason enough to stay alive, then this is worth checking out.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I’ve always known about Tron.  I remember seeing the ads for it when it was coming out & the ads for it being on television as a kid & the thing that always made me steer clear of it was the billing “Disney’s Tron” because Disney made crap for kids.  (With the exception of The Jungle Book, I’ve never had much affection for any of the classic Disney stuff & the only time I’ve been to Disney World was when I was three & the main memories I have are waiting in lines & being briefly separated from my family in a crowd (which was pretty frightening).)  My one brother had a pocket version of the light bike game & that was pretty awesome (in fact I have a flash version of it up on the Silber website) & I thought some of the action figures looked kinda cool (turns out the design for most of this movie was by Moebius & Syd Mead (Blade Runner), but I still avoided it.  Over the years I would see clips on a regular basis in documentaries about sci-fi movies or computer culture or whatever, but they never gave me an urge to watch it.

A few months ago I turned the Tron: Legacy movie on while assembling mini-comics & I thought it was kinda crap, but I did think some of the character design looked cool.  Then I saw the new Tron: Uprising cartoon & it was pretty awesome (right now you can watch it online here).  It reminds me of Aeon Flux in both themes & art style (end up one of the designers for it, Eric Canete, used to be a protege of Peter Chung (Aeon Flux)).

So I decided it was finally time to watch the original.  So the original, it’s a mess.  I guess it was supposed to be a movie so computer geeks (then maybe 10% of the population instead of today’s 30% of the population) could show their kids that they were cool.  The plot is a computer programmer gets digitized & sucked into the computer world & has an adventure trying to find his way out & all the people look like real world counterparts in what I assume is a Wizard of Oz reference. The villain has the typical villain flaw of toying with enemies & letting them kill him instead of just destroying them at the start.  The graphics, which didn’t look particularly good at the time, I enjoy as a weird aesthetic that goes against the modern computer special effects that I hate.  It brought up all these weird theological ideas with the programs that believed in mankind being an outdated religion, but did nothing with them.  Granted I was assembling comics while watching this, but there were parts where I felt like a scene was cut out or something because it didn’t follow clearly.  If you’ve managed to not see this so far, I’m pretty sure you’re fine without it & would be better off checking out Tron: Uprising.
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