Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007

TV Watch: West Wing, Season One

Because TV has been its off-season, we've been catching up on show with Netflix. We finished Deadwood and started West Wing from the beginning, in part because of numerous recommendations over the years.

It is quite good - and I'm willing to concede now that as pure television West Wing exceeds Sports Night. It's more grown up. More mature. Less, as many would put it, maudlin. It hasn't unseated Sports Night as my favorite though - because part of likes to pull out that maudlin, that simple swoop and dive approach to emotions and events, compared to the more subtle threads of West Wing.

Still, we're enjoyed the heck out of season one and can't wait for the second. In fact, I'm off to see if Pandora can load up "The Jackal" right now.

Overheard In Chicago

"I'm tired because I've been at a baby shower all day drinking tequila."

and this morning...

"Lynette, your mom knows I don't mess around. I ain't doing blow. Here's what happened. I'll tell you what happened. I sound like crap because this guy yesterday kept giving me Xanax. And that's what happened."

So excellent. During my walk I've also seen a crazy guy trying to flirt with a drunk woman, a crazy guy follow a woman (different couple) into traffic - almost getting hit by an oncoming ambulance, and have been followed by a guy swearing repeatedly into a cell phone that certainly did not have anyone on the other end.

And people wondered why I missed working downtown.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TV Watch: Torchwood, Season One

Through the magic of the Internet, we finished the first season of Torchwood last night - with all its sexy romps and cursewords intact. For the unfamiliar, Torchwood is a Doctor Who spin-off starring John Barrowman, reprising his role as Captain Jack Harkness from the series.

I'll just sum it up quickly and then go into detail - it is fun, although not nearly as good as the good Doctor.

One of the primary hangups I have is with the premise. In the Doctor Who mythos, Torchwood is a long-standing secret organization chartered to defend the Earth from aliens and other bugaboos. Up until recently, modern history wise, they were somewhat large and powerful, if not bureaucratic and mad with power. After a climatic moment, it somewhat collapsed.

Something apparently transpired to reduce it down to the Cardiff branch which apparently was run by Jack. So now this ultra secret group which at one point could direct huge lasers into space ... is Jack and a handful of people who are honestly pretty bad at their job. Heck, the pilot episode primarily focuses on how bad they are at their job. They break rules, they sleep around (with all manner of life forms), and frequently endanger everyone around them - if not the whole world. They do all this while driving around to crime scenes (which we have no idea how they found) in the auspiciously black with blinking LED's Ranger Rover and announcing they're Torchwood (apparently to keep their existence more secret).

The revival of Doctor Who has masterfully explored the source material and offered a very sensible platform for episodes. Torchwood never quite accomplishes this - even up until a moment in the finale when they're expected to more or less save the world(a notion which scares essentially everyone).

That's not to say the show has no merit. There are still some interesting concepts at work and the episodes which are easily the best essentially play off the loose nature of the organization and stray away from a simple mystery format. The writing is good even if it isn't terribly tight and here the mature content pays off ... it's a lot easier to stop caring about the premise with the promise of violence, sex and swearing. That might sound juvenile, but Torchwood handles its material in a way more realistic and gritty than your late night Cinemax special. Sex, drugs, even alien artifacts - all have consequences.

The show has a great ensemble as well. Barrowman proved himself on the screen in Doctor Who. So, apparently, did Eve Myles as she is a returnee from The Unquiet Dead - albeit not as the same character. Myles has nearly anime features and communicates brilliantly with her face. Ab Fab fans might recognize Toshiko - same actress played Saffie's friend Sarah.

It's a good show. It's a fun show. Not a great show - but since the episodes get progressively better I'm pretty optimistic for Season Two. Torchwood is pretty unique for science fiction - a decent production with adult content that takes itself moderately seriously. Just the diversity alone is worth the price of admission.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

For Sunday: Hello Kitty Wedding

Too weird to pass up:

Via Tokyomango.