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Showing posts from November, 2006

Boom Goes the Dynamite: Scattered Veronica Mars Thoughts

How much do I love the decision to split Veronica Mars's third season into mini-arcs? Not only has the shift in format completely re-energized the show, it gives me three convenient stopping points from which to take stock of the show's progress. And, since I share producer Rob Thomas's fears about the likelihood of a fourth season, it's probably best to take advantage of the opportunity to do some guilt-free criticism while I still can.

Before I get to the criticism, however, I'd like to reiterate that the show is re-energized. After a well-intentioned but deeply flawed second season, Veronica Mars is back in top form. The show's opening plot arc was tight, tense, and compelling. The characters, even when they made choices we couldn't condone or changed in ways we didn't care for, were vibrant onscreen presences (except, that is, for the ones who didn't get nearly enough air-time like Wallace, Mac and Weevil). There are, obviously, still some proble…

"Magic for Beginners" by Kelly Link

Last spring, when I reviewed the short fiction nominated for the Nebula and Hugo awards, I wrote briefly about Kelly Link's novella "Magic for Beginners" (which won the former award, and scandalously lost the latter to a forgettable and humorless piece by Connie Willis). It was clear to me at the time that Link's story was one of the finest and most fascinating pieces of short fiction I'd read in quite some time, but it was with some trepidation that I said so in my Hugo and Nebula roundups because, as I wrote at the time, I didn't feel qualified to say why. Which is fairly typical of my reactions to a lot of Link's writing--I like most of her stuff, and I can see that her stories are sophisticated, with a hell of a lot going on under the surface. Most of the time, however, I really don't get what she's trying to say.

A big part of my difficulties with Link's fiction has to do with the fact that I keep trying to read her as a fantasist, when a…

Well, They're Not Back

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh report on The Hobbit movie:
Several years ago, Mark Ordesky told us that New Line have rights to make not just The Hobbit but a second "LOTR prequel", covering the events leading up to those depicted in LOTR. Since then, we've always assumed that we would be asked to make The Hobbit and possibly this second film, back to back, as we did the original movies. We assumed that our lawsuit with the studio would come to a natural conclusion and we would then be free to discuss our ideas with the studio, get excited and jump on board. We've assumed that we would possibly get started on development and design next year, whilst filming The Lovely Bones. We even had a meeting planned with MGM executives to talk through our schedule.

However last week, Mark Ordesky called Ken and told him that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on the Hobbit and the LOTR 'prequel'. This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now…

Recent Movie Roundup 3

The fall doldrums are finally clearing away, and there's been a surprising number of interesting films at the movie theatre lately (on the other hand, The Prestige doesn't seem to have an Israeli release date yet, and I strongly suspect I'll have to wait for the DVD). Missing from the list below is Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, a film I liked well enough but have nothing to say about--which seems appropriate for a film that manages to be intelligently-made without being intelligent. Niall Harrison at Torque Control has a good review, as well as some links to others' thoughts.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006) - Bog-standard family comedy masquerading as an indie flick. It's hard to decide what's most remarkable about this film: the deft way it integrates an utterly conventional premise--the dysfunctional family learning to work together and appreciate each other--with enough quirky idiosyncrasies--the Proust scholar uncle who tried to kill himself when his boy…

Good News, Bad News

The good news: according to twodifferent sources, Veronica Mars has received a full season order.

The bad news: the CW has ordered only 20 episodes instead of the expected 22. In the short run, this means Rob Thomas and his writing staff will have to scramble to rewrite the season's final plot arc, which will end up getting the least screen time--only four episodes. What really worries me, however, is whether this decision bodes ill for the show's chances of being renewed for a fourth season.

Loving this show is not easy.

Still, this is mostly good news.

Moving Into a New Circle of Hell and Other "A Measure of Salvation" Thoughts

One of the problems with Battlestar Galactica's premise is that given the Cylons' opening gambit--the extermination of all but a tiny fragment of a civilization that once numbered in the billions--there was nothing, absolutely nothing, the humans could do that would measure up. Gina's mistreatment, all of the indignities visited on Sharon, Hera's kidnapping, Leoben's torture, the bombings on Caprica, old and new--none of them come close to evening the scale. For a show supposedly more concerned with exploring the darkness inherent in the human psyche, this was a major hurdle. Which is why, I suspect, the writers came up with the possibility of reciprocal genocide.

Now, just to be clear: there's still a difference, and not a small one either, between committing genocide against an unsuspecting population who are barely even aware of your existence, and committing it against a species who has previously committed it against you, and who you know are dedicated to f…

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

A mere three books into a fantasy series which by now spans more than thirty, Terry Pratchett laid out the fundamental rule guiding the use of magic in his invented world, the Discworld: don't do it. Magic, in Pratchett's universe, is a toxic substance whose effects are highly reminiscent of radioactive waste (it is probably no coincidence that, at the time that he was writing the early Discworld books, Pratchett was employed as a publicity officer for a board overseeing three nuclear plants), with the added complication that, in concentrated amounts, it can rip through the fabric of the universe.

As the Discworld series progressed, this internal story reason for not using magic gave way to a moral-philosophical argument, a transition which coincided with a shift of focus from one kind of magical practitioner--the wizards of Unseen University--to another--the witches of Lancre and the Ramtops mountains, led, however unofficially, by Granny Weatherwax. According to Granny (who m…

Funny, In a Horrible Way

If you love "Calvin & Hobbes," you might not want to watch this video.

(Via Crooked Timber)

And Now, the Torchwood Parodies Begin

Under Torch Wood: A Parody for Voices
Separate from the government,
outside the police,
beyond the United Nations,
independent of the judiciary,
not voting in council elections,
distinct from the Brownies,
non-members of the AA,
think iPods are rubbish,
cancelled the milk,
no TV licence.The conclusion seems spot-on, too.

(Via)