Read, Listen, Watch

I am compiling a list of films and TV series I have watched, books I have read, and audio books or plays I have listened to.

I will likely make some comments to a fair amount of the entries in the list, some information on how or when I found the titles, whether I watched the film in the cinema or on video/DVD, whether the audio/books are purchased as downloads or on paper/tape/CD etc.

A Brief Sense8 review (spoiler free)

Having a little bit more time available here are a few words on the original Netflix series “Sense8”.

Sense8 is created by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) and the Wachowskis, Andy and Lana (the Ws).

It had its premiere of all 12 episodes (season 1) in the beginning of June this year. I took time off from removal activities and watched all episodes on the premiere day.

This is a hard one to watch, single episodes at a time. It invites you to binge watch, and it  has been stated by JMS that it was intentional.

I am now into the second watch, this time much more slowly, and the re-watch value of this story is very high.

The story focuses on 8 characters, called “sensates” who, due to a tragic event, are suddenly linked telepathically, and they are hunted.

The story is more focused on characters and themes, and starts moving very slowly, introducing all 8 sensates and their immediate relations. We see the story unfold from their perspective, meaning that what they know we know, and no more.

Last Sunday I participated in The Sense8 Podcast discussing Episode 6 “Demons”, which is very packed and has a very widely discussed scene.

I consider making a set of commentaries, episode by episode, spoilerific and possibly non spoilery, if time allows.

The show does have some rather explicit scenes, but also rewards patience and attention, so I will recommend it if that is the type of story you prefer.

Transcript of JMS’ Announcement of a B5 Movie

Jan M Schroeder has just finished a transcript from the JMS announcement. She has encouraged sharing, so I bring it here as well :

Updated 2014-08-10 due to a glitch.

“Whew! Okay, I’ve finally transcribed the relevant portions from my audio recording:

Quote:

JMS recaps what’s coming up and then:

So we’ve been having a really, really good year at Studio JMS. And where that comes in handy – where it’s kind of important involves this (B5 logo comes on screen). So… Fact: When I made the Babylon 5 deal with Warner Bros. it was just short of indentured servitude. Financially, I’ll never seen a dime out of Babylon 5 ever. I have no problems with that; I knew what I was signing when I go into it, but I mention it to piss them off every once in a while. One thing that I was able to withhold was the film rights. I still own the movie rights to Babylon 5. I’ve been pushing Warner’s for the last…ever since the early cretaceous period…to “Let’s do a Babylon 5 movie – a proper big budget feature film.” And they’ve always dragged their feet [because] that’s what Warner Bros. does. They knew that they had the upper hand because I couldn’t take it to any other studio because these days all the studios want all the rights. So if I brought it to say, Sony or Fox, they’d want the TV rights which Warner Bros. controls. Warner Bros. will never give those rights up so we were always handcuffed by that.

Turns out, however, there’s one studio in Los Angeles…Distributors, by the way, don’t care about the TV rights. Distributors just [care] about the movie, they don’t care about the TV part. There’s one studio in town that doesn’t care if it doesn’t have the TV rights…that wants to see this movie made and will do it with or without Warner Bros. (Studio JMS logo comes on screen).
Here’s the plan: We’re going to have, through Studio JMS, at least two, maybe three TV series on the air next year. We’re going to have at least one or two movies going ahead. And we’ll use that to parlay serious investment in the studio. I’m not talking Kickstarter, I’m talking about one hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars; we already have people who are lined up and interested in doing that.

So in 2015 I will write a Babylon 5 screenplay. I’ll be giving Warner Bros. the opportunity – if they want to step up, “Help yourself”. If they don’t, 2016: We make it. I’m not going to wait around for more of our cast members to die. So that’s the long term plan and those are the current updates on everything that’s going on right now.

Question from a fan: Asked if JMS might crowd-fund for a million of the investment so that fans can be part of it.

JMS: I would rather not. Here’s the reason why, though. I come from the ranks of fandom – I’m as rank as any of you. To me, much as I understand that Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing are a way for those outside to get involved with the process, show their appreciation for the process, I am resistant to that lure because it feels to me like taking advantage of the fans and I have a hard time with that on a moral and ethical basis. I’d rather have an investor come up and say “Here’s a check for a hundred million dollars” – which I would gladly take, by the way; if anyone in the audience happens to have one of those lying around, let me know – than to come to the fans and try to get it. Science fiction fans, and horror fans, to a degree, are the most exploited folks out there. “Line up, buy the merchandise, watch the show.” And I just see this money suck happening. So the answer is no.

Question from a fan: Are you considering a reboot to bring in new viewers or are you thinking of a continuation with the cast and crew from the original series.

JMS: It would have to be a reboot because it’s now been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t always work with some of the characters. So we’d have to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or the other and move a few things around. I’d love to see Bruce as President of the Earth Alliance; that would be the perfect role for him.

I love playing around with the cast anyway. The one story that I wanted to do for the original B5 and they wouldn’t let me do it was, when Londo was injured and had this dream sequence, I wanted to have different actors play different roles. So Jerry Doyle would play Londo. Claudia Christian would play Delenn and Delenn (Mira) would play Ivanova. Peter Jurasik would play Jerry Doyle’s role. Andreas Katsulas would be the Commander of the Station and Bruce would be G’Kar. They said, “People would be way too confused.” JMS: “They won’t be confused, trust me! Listen, they have the intelligence for this.” It was the only story that they said “No, no, no, no and by the way, no.” The chance to [ ] play around with the cast and have some fun with it could be a good thing.
Any errors are mine. Feel free to share.

Jan “

JMS announces a Babylon 5 movie at SDCC2014

This is the text from Jan M Schroeder regarding her Saturday activities at this year’s San Diego Comicon, brought here with permission. Thanks Jan.

I have my own comments on what could have lead up to this point, but that will have to wait. Please enjoy.

J. Michael Straczynski has bee a very busy bee, as you will see in Jan’s report below :

 

Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con (or the day JMS announced that he’ll do a B5 movie).
I got there at a good time, not long after the con opened at 10:00 AM. A little surprisingly, the mezzanine didn’t really seem too much busier than other days so far except for the food area being busier. I’ve got pre-written letters to WB and NBC/Universal out on the table and a fair number of folks took those to mail after adding a little demographic info. Five or six were left with me and I dropped them off to be mailed.
The big panel of the day was JMS’ of course. First I went to his signing and got a few things signed that will most likely be destined as fund-raisers. I verified with JMS that he wouldn’t mind if I handed out buttons and postcards before his panel. A new friend, Lukas, handed out at the door and I wandered the room where people were already staying from the panel before.

JMS started the panel by reviewing his current projects, both ‘out house’ (not Studio JMS) and in-house and continued with news. We got an introduction to the Sense8 actors. JMS described it as a “…complex, amazing tapestry of stories.”
– Ten Grand: JMS is currently negotiating with a major Studio/Network for a series based on this.
– Shadowman feature film: He’s two to three weeks from turning in the latest draft.
– He couldn’t name it, but he’s working on a project for Universal concerning Rod Serling and working with Carol Serling, Rod’s widow on it.
– Again he couldn’t say much but he showed a title card for a show called “Two Streets” that he’s just made a deal with Universal for that he’ll be working with “Walking Dead’s” Gail Anne Hurd.
– “Titans” is the name of the Feature film/graphic novel project that was just announced yesterday (see movie thread).
So it’s been a really big year for Studio JMS. And due to that, he can now look to doing a feature film for B5. JMS recapped that WB owns everything about B5 except the movie rights and even though he holds the film rights, to take a B5 movie to another studio without holding the TV rights wouldn’t work. There’s one studio in LA that doesn’t care about that – Studio JMS – and in 2015 JMS will write the script. He’ll give WB the opportunity to step up, but if they don’t, Studio JMS will make it in 2016 on their own with a $1-200,000,000.00 budget.

Fan questios:
A fan asked if JMS might crowdfund part of the film so that fans might be involved and JMS said that he resists doing that because it seems to him that SF fans are an exploited group and he doesn’t ever want to do that – he’d rather accept investor money.
Asked about the current situation with streaming Babylon 5, JMS said that it’s all up to Warner Bros. and gave the ‪#‎FreeBabylon5‬ campaign a nice plug, telling of the success in Europe to date and hoping for some movement domestically.

A fan asked if the success of a B5 feature might improve the chances of streaming and even future TV projects and JMS said that it would probably have a significant effect, that a good way to get someone’s (WB) attention is to rattle their cage.

Asked if the film would be a reboot or a continuation:
“It would have to be a reboot because it’s been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t work with some of these characters so we’d need to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or another but we’d have to move some things around. I’d love to see Bruce as the PPresident of the Earth Alliance; it would be the perfect role for him.”

JMS went on to tell about a story he wanted to do that he wasn’t allowed to in the original show where when Londo was injured, he wanted to do a dream sequence where the actors played different characters but the studio thought the audience would get confused.
A fan asked what’s being made not that would equal B5 for being transformative and JMS replied that TV is having a golden age right now with lots of amazing things. being made.

He concluded with his regular homily for the fans to never surrender their dreams, that with persistance and talent and luck, can overcome your circumstances and follow your passionss and succeed.

Jan
(posting in various places- feel free to share)

 

Watching now : Farscape and The Prisoner

A long time ago I saw some single episodes of Farscape.
I had a bit of trouble getting into the “muppet” style.
This year could be different :
At Fedcon in Germany some of the guests were Ben Browder and Claudia Black.
Their panel was a hoot, and, apart from Stargate, they talked quite a bit about Farscape, and how they enjoyed it.
At Phoenix Comic Con, two weeks later, just before the big Babylon 5 Reunion Panel – we had Gigi Edgley and David Franklin – also quite an enjoyable panel. Yes – all (well, mostly) about Farscape.
So, I decided to get started watching Farscape, in the correct order. I can appreciate the characters quite a bit better now, and I have finished the first season.
Very enjoyable season, when it gets going, a bit of single episodes, but still with some good vharacter moments and development.
Now, before I continue with Farscape, I decided to take a look at the old BBC series “The Prisoner”. I have heard a lot of good about it, and, even if I have not seen it, I know a few references in other shows.

Farscape Season 1 : 8/10
The Prisoner : remains to be seen 😉

Fringe re-watch

Since the 5th and final season of Fringe starts airing soon, I have been following the re-watch podcasts by The Fringe Podcast‘s Summer re-watch, re- watched all 4 current seasons.

I was pleased to see that a lot of the apparent “throw-away” lines and plots actually are paying off, sometimes after 3 – 4 years.

This is the kind of story I like. It rewards patience and has some wonderful characters and character development.

I particularly like John Noble’s portrayal of Walter Bishop. He never fails to deliver perfectly, this old scientist with a heavy conscience.

Anna Torv gets to show her range in playing several versions of herself, and does it convincingly.

Given the episode 4.19 glimpse into the future of the story I am very excited to see what the 5th season will bring, as I suspect it will complete its mythology.

Photo a Week #4 Jonathan Frakes at Fedcon 2012

This week’s photo was taken at the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany in May this year.

A very entertaining actor, he suddenly left the stage and walked among the audience.
When he passed right by me I was quick enough with the camera to catch this picture :

Frakes walking by

Jonathan Frakes walking among the audience.

The colours come from the stage lighting, I like the mood of the picture.

As an experiment it may be worth trying to convert this picture to black/white.

After the Hugo’s, some updates

After reading what I could before the voting for the Hugo Awards I have been a bit away from the blog.

However, the scifi has not been dormant. This is the harvest of the last few months :

Been to a small Convention in Copenhagen, the “Fantasticon”

– reading a few of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” books, good fun, but I think it is time for a break after the first three.

– on some long trips I have been listening to audio .
A. The Leviathan Chronicles (podcast audio play)
B. The audio books of the 6 “main series” books of Anne McCaffreys Dragonriders of Pern. I started reading the series when a friend recommended it some 7 years ago, and found them solid pieces of storytelling on an epic scale. The 6 books are :
1. Dragonflight
2. Dragonquest
3. The White Dragon (won the Hugo Award for best novel)
4. Renegades of Pern
5. All the Weyrs of Pern
6. The Skies of Pern
C. Lots of podcasts , Babylon Podcast, Slice of SciFi, Dragonpage cover to cover, Starship Sofa, Escape Pod, and several others.

– watching this years Hugo Award winner for best dramatic presentation, long form : The film “Moon”, very good

– watching the first season of Eureka : Quite enjoyable, not in the heavy weight category

– watching the second season of Fringe : I enjoyed it quite a bit, even if the mid season was a bit light on the story arc. This seems to conform my idea that shorter seasons generally work better than the +20 episode seasons.

– watching the mini series from Steven Moffat : “Sherlock” very enjoyable

I will be writing a bit more on some of the above stuff, so watch this space.

Review : Doctor Who : ‘Turn Left’

Hugo Nominee 2009 Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

This is Russell T. Davies’ writing at its best, aided by Graeme Harper’s directing. With all due respect for his team reviving Doctor Who Davies’ writing has not always been the best during the new Who era – probably due to the pressure of being the show runner.

While we have seen indications of inner strength in Donne Noble, this episode pulls all that to the fore. She has a little help from a friend she did not know she had : Rose. This is, for now, the culmination of the small glimpses we have had of Rose since the beginning of the season

The story finds Donna tricked into living a version of history where she did not meet the Doctor, and it is not a pretty picture. Guided by Rose from a different reality she finds her inner strength to change history back to what we know from the third season of the 10th Doctor.

The story has a good deal of fine drama, some fine character development of Donna, and a stunning conclusion, as a prelude to the two final episodes.

I consider this episode better than the two final ones, although I find those quite good as well.

This is certainly one of my favourites of the season, mainly rivaled by the double episode ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’

9/10 on the lurker’s scale.

Hugo award voting and material, an overview

As a preparation for the voting for the Hugo Awards 2009 I downloaded the package of material from their website, and listened to some the short stories on a variety of podcasts, and watched what I could easily get hold of.

There was not enough time to read the rest of the material.

This is what I got to see or read before voting :

Dramatic presentations, short form :

Doctor Who : ‘Turn Left’
Doctor Who : ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’
Battlestar Galactica : ‘Revelations’
I would have liked to see more, especially ‘Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog’ . I was not aware that the DVD version from the US was Region Free, so missed out on that one. I will have to get it some time

Dramatic presentations, long form :

‘The Dark Knight’
‘Iron Man’

Novels :

Charles Stross : Saturns Children
Neil Gaiman : Graveyard Book
Cory Doctorow : Little Brother
John Scalzi : Zoe’s Tale

Short stories (audio podcast format) :

Ted Chiang : ‘Exhalation’
Michael Swanwick : ‘From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled’
Mike Resnick : ‘Article of Faith’
Kij Johnson : ’26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss’

A bit of info on my preferences will follow when I get to the different categories.

I still have some novellettes and novellas on my reader that I will want to read, but at the moment I am busy reading a much older Science Fiction story, EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s ‘Lensman’ Series

More details when I get to watch/read more of the stuff, and a few more thoughts on the stuff I am reading/watching