See How He Rises Up: Farewell Sir Terry Pratchett

Wow, just when we’d said goodbye to one nerd god, we have to say goodbye to another.

This one hits me hard.  I am a big fan of Sir Pterry’s work; his wit and ability to play with language in an interesting way made his books all the more enjoyable for me.  He really did make the Discworld live in a way that can really never be duplicated.  He wasn’t necessarily a satirist, although his work is filled with satire, he was a fantasy author whose stories are undeniably human at their core.  And that is, I think, why his work resonates so well with so many people, myself included.

At times like this, we have a tendency to remember moments that made an impression on us.  Like the time Lord Ventinari managed to keep his dignity intact after getting a pie thrown at him*, or the time that one of Sybil Ramikin’s dragons managed to literally fart his way to glory**.  Of course there’s also the sadder parts, like Constable Cuddy’s untimely demise***, and what happened in Ankh-Morpork to Agnes (Perdita X.) Nitt****.  Why, yes, I’m still a bit bitter about that last one.

Anyway, to borrow a phrase from the master himself, “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…” and Sir Terry left us with seventy books worth of ripples that will, with any help from whatever Gods of Luck you happen to believe in, continue to affect the world long after the coolest anthropomorphic version of a state of being has taken us all to whatever comes next.

If there’s any more of that luck I talked about floating around, I may end up a little wood worm who gets to eat some really —-ing good wood!

* From Making Money

** From Guards! Guards!

*** From Men at Arms

**** From Maskerade

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Fair Winds and Following Seas: Farewell Leonard Nimoy

Nimoy

Today we lost one of the great ones.  I can’t really sit here and say that I was a big fan of his, not to say that I didn’t respect the man enormously for his contributions to Science Fiction and Entertainment in general, but it stings less than say the loss of Tom Baker would.  I’m not a big Trek fan, my most vivid memories of Mr. Nimoy come from his stint hosting In Search Of.  Back in the dark times, before the internet, I watched quite a bit of that show (the episode I remember the most being the one on the Hope Diamond), and Nimoy’s voice seemed suited to the often odd material that In Search Of covered.  Everything from Sherlock Holmes to Ancient Aliens, as I recall.  But Leonard Nimoy is a cultural icon with an impressive body of work that he’s left behind for us to enjoy, and perhaps that’s the best way to remember him, as someone who brought us happiness through his abilities.

And so, farewell Mr. Spock.  Put in a good word for the rest of us.

Doctor Who: Last Christmas First Impressions

Can my house being gutted right now be a dream too?  ‘Cause I’d really like that.

  • Up On the Housetop: Was one of the elves driving?  ‘Cause if one of them was, they’re a crappy driver.
  • Nobody likes the Tangerines: My mom likes tangerines, I don’t however.
  • The Dancing is Working: Hell, if it’ll keep your mind of something that it shouldn’t be thinking about, I say dance your heart out sister!
  • Telepathic Aliens: Can I just say that I really liked the idea of these monsters.  Their introduction is really well done, the exposition is delivered in a way that gives us just enough information to know they’re a threat without giving the whole game away.
  • Danny is Dead: Well, that was inevitable.
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town: Nice entrance there Big Red, little overdone for my liking but nicely done all the same.
  • Santa Goes Badass: I liked Nick Frost’s Santa, for a (spoiler alert) dream construct, he’s not gonna put up with any crap.
  • A Second Sled: If I didn’t know any better, I’d be saying that Santa is a Time Lord.
  • Alien is Offensive: The Doctor’s never seen Alien?  You’d think that someone would have shown it to him somewhere along the way.
  • Clara’s Dream: Yup, Danny’s there and giving her everything that she wants for Christmas, gotta be a dream.
  • Danny and Clara’s Last Christmas: Interesting how even in her dream Danny’s first instinct is to sacrifice himself to save Clara.  Even Dream!Danny is still Danny.
  • We Are All Dead: I was wondering about that, and (for once) Moffat delivered a satisfying answer.
  • All the Touchy-Feely Stuff: The Doctor’s never been good with the touchy-feely stuff.
  • Missing the Obvious: And yet again, Moffat doesn’t use a cheap cop-out to explain away something that has been simmering away in the back of the viewers minds.  I’m not going to say that Moffat’s writing has turned a corner with this episode, but I like how he’s not taking the easy way out and just hand-waving everything away.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The guy with the sleigh that’s bigger on the inside of course!
  • Santa’s Midnight Ride: You know, I really love it when the show leaves the angst on the side and just has some fun.
  • Waking up from the Dream: Interesting to see what everyone’s lives are really like.  The dream could be a reflection of what they would like to be, instead of what they are.
  • 62 Years: The Christmas Cracker, just that damn Christmas Cracker.  Ouch.
  • Second Chances: So Clara isn’t leaving; okay Moffat, I’m willing to go along with you on this one, just quit with the “Clara is the answer to everything” plot resolutions please.

So that’s another Christmas Special in the bag, now the long wait begins for the next season, let’s hope it will be better than the last one.

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven First Impressions

All aboard the Feels Rollercoaster!

  • Clara is the Doctor, again: This was actually a smart move on Clara’s part, even if it wasn’t entirely clear what she hoped to get out of this gambit, it did buy her time for something to happen.
  • Selfies with the Cybermen: If you’re surprised by people taking pictures of those things instead of running for their lives, I’ve got some beachfront property in Arizona you might be interested in.
  • U.N.I.T. Surprise: Damn guys, that’s some S.H.I.E.L.D. level sneakiness right there!
  • Bowties are cool: You go, Osgood.  You go.
  • Kate Introduces Herself: Can I just talk about how much we learn about Kate from her little speech?  Character Expansion done right, people.
  • The Doctor: “Guard the Graveyards!”  Clara: *Wakes up in graveyard*  Me: …Oops.
  • U.N.I.T. is looking a lot like the British version of S.H.I.E.L.D., can we say crossover?
  • Clara in the Graveyard: This scene was just plain creepy, and I loved it.  More like this please!
  • The Brig’s Goal: I really like how Kate keeps a portrait of her dad on the plane, a friendly reminder of how important he is to her.
  • Hail to the Chief: Somehow I don’t think that you could get every country on the planet to agree on one President of Earth, even if it is the Doctor.
  • It’s Raining Cybermen: Now, this doesn’t really fit with what we’ve seen of the Cybermen, but I think that Missy did some upgrading of her own.
  • Danny the Cyberman: This can only end badly.
  • The Death of Osgood: Excuse the unladylike language but; fuck you, Missy.
  • The Inhibitor: See?!  What did I tell you?!
  • Missy vs. The Doctor Part 1: Killing Osgood, bad move Missy.  Sending Kate out of the airplane, really bad move.  Blowing up Belgium, have you ever heard of overkill Missy?
  • The Disintegration of Seb: Bye Seb, you won’t be missed.
  • The Doctor’s Intervention: Ouch, I knew that was gonna hurt, I just didn’t know how bad.
  • Missy vs. the Doctor Part 2: Okay, so Missy’s plan was to build a massive Cyber-army to give to the Doctor so he could use it to save people and worlds that he couldn’t on his own.  I know that Missy is nuts, but jeez, this is what she came up with to get him to pay attention to her?  Missy, you need some therapy girl.
  • Danny Steps Up: Danny you beautiful idiot, you will be missed.
  • A Salute for the Brig: Okay this?  This is where I teared up.  Where else would the Brig be indeed.
  • One Trip: This is such a Danny thing, we almost should have seen it coming.
  • The Parting of the Ways Redux: The more I think about this ending, the more sense it makes given everything we’ve seen from the these two.  Would they lie to each other just to keep the other one from worrying?  You bet they would.  And given the lies they told, it makes sense that they would see their partnership as over.  The lies will come to light eventually, at least I think they will, and when they do there’s going to be a lot of hurt feelings and explanations that are going to need to be made.
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Town: If they can have a Robin Hood episode, why can’t Santa show up?

And that’s it ’till the Christmas Special!  A mixed season overall, but it did get better at the end.

Doctor Who: Dark Water First Impressions

So that happened!

  • Wait, what?! : Not five minutes in, and we’ve already had a major character death.  This does not bode well.
  • Clara’s Betrayal: Clara, nothing good ever comes from threatening the Doctor.  You should know that!
  • The Doctor Cares: It would have been really nice to see a bit more of this before now, but it is nice to see that the Doctor really does care about what happens to his companions.
  • I’m Exactly What You Deserve: Given what we saw in the previous scene, and what we’ve been seeing this whole series, I’d say that’s true.
  • Danny’s Dead: *nods* Yup, that’s about the reaction you’d expect.
  • Giving the Doctor Some Attitude: I think that the Doctor is a bit weirded out by Clara’s grief and her betrayal.  He’s far more used to her being right there with him and right now she isn’t.
  • The Welcome Package: I…have no idea what to do with this.  And apparently the Doctor doesn’t either.
  • It would be a serious problem if Clara was okay: I’m gonna agree with the Doctor on this one, what with the creepy skeletons in water and the snogging androids and all that.
  • Ipads in the Afterlife: I don’t think that Steve Jobs had much to do with the Ipad, but whatever.
  • Dark Water: You almost have to wonder what’s in those thanks that you can’t see…
  • Clara Will Be Fine: Nothing really interesting to point out here, I just really liked Clara threatening to detach something from the Doctor if he spoke for her again.
  • Danny and the kid: Oof, yeah, I can see how that might haunt someone.
  • Three words: …damn.  If that were true, I would be changing my living will so fast!
  • “Be Strong, Even if it Breaks Your Heart”: Uh-oh
  • And in case you’ve managed to miss any hints about what’s really going on here, the doors are happy to give you a nice big hint.
  • So yes, the Cybermen are back!  I’m actually glad about this, I like the Cybermen a villains and it’s nice to see a classic villain getting some love this series.
  • Something Only Danny Would Say: Danny would say something that he knows will keep Clara out of danger, and that’s exactly what he did.
  • Pesky Emotions: Oh shit…
  • Missy is Short For…: CALLED IT!

So yeah, I really liked this episode.  It’s a nice, strong first part to a season finale, now let’s just hope that they can keep it up next week.

The Sky is Falling! Or Something Like That…

One could be forgiven for thinking that something truly terrible had happened over at Marvel Studios the way that some fans have been taking to social media to express their anger and distress this afternoon.  So what happened to make a part of the fandom loose their collective minds?  Well, if you believe the internet, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the title character in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange movie.  The problem is, that isn’t exactly true.

To quote from the article that broke this news earlier today, “I’m hearing Benedict Cumberbatch is the studio’s choice for the superhero pic, and negotiations are about to begin.”  To point out the obvious, the fact that Marvel would like Cumberbatch to play the role, and that they’re just starting to talk to him about that does not make it a done deal.  Marvel’s negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix broke down right around Comic Con, so there’s no reason to believe that it might not happen again.  Cumberbatch is a busy man these days, so he might turn it down for scheduling reasons.  That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea for Cumberbatch to play the role, in fact I think he would do quite well, but let’s break down exactly why this casting is causing so much frustration.

Northern Overexposure

So one of the most common complaints about this casting I’ve seen is, “He’s overexposed.”  Now, I feel that this is a valid complaint.  As I said, the man’s busy.  Not only is he dealing with the final Hobbit movie, he’s also got the second Hollow Crown series, and The Penguins of Madagascar and a whole slew of other projects.  So I can certainly see how a bit of Cumberfatigue might be setting in.  But there are still plenty of people who like the guy and who will happily shell out to see him on the big screen.

White Knight?

Diversity in casting is a big problem in the movie industry right now.  And the problem isn’t any better over in the comics industry.  And a lot of fans are disappointed that Marvel hasn’t been talking to any POC actors about the role.  Now, not to sound like a massive dick, but Stephen Strange isn’t a POC.  If you look at his Marvel Wiki character page, it lists his parents as Eugene and Beverly Strange and his birthplace as Philadelphia, PA; and he spent his childhood at the family farm in Nebraska.  Not to say that he couldn’t be cast as a POC, but if they’ve decided that they want to stick to cannon, yeah, they’re gonna cast the guy as white.

Now before anyone starts screaming about White Privilege, let me say this.  I would like to see a POC actor in the role myself, I’d really like Alexander Siddig to take the role; but it isn’t my decision, it’s Marvel’s.  And in the end, we’re all going to have to live with that and decide whether or not casting a white actor in a role that a lot of people would have liked to see a POC actor take is worth not going to see it.

Safety First

The third most common complaint I’ve seen is that Cumberbatch is too safe a choice.  I think that this ties in with the overexposure complaint.  He’s a bankable star name, and that’s true.  But here’s the thing, Doctor Strange isn’t a character that most people outside of the comic fandom are familiar with.  To be honest, he seems a bit second string to me.  Important yes, but not someone a lot of fans would know really well.

Now Marvel has done well casting unknowns in the past, but maybe they feel that the movie might do better if it has a name star attached to it.  And lightning seldom strikes twice.  Still, Hollywood does have a reputation for not taking chances when they should, and this might be one of those times.  But I still think that Cumberbatch would do well in the role, and I’d like to see fans give him a chance.

TL;DR

In the end, this is just another rumor.  And as such, I’m taking it with a few pounds of salt.  Marvel will announce who they’ve decided to cast when they’re ready to do so.  And all the metaphorical gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair in the world probably won’t have much of an effect on their decision.  So just calm down, take a breath, and wait.  Marvel might just surprise us.