Discuss and Rate the Last Thing You Watched (non-movies)

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Addendum_Forthcoming:

Best sci-fi show? Really? X-Files, Classic Who, Quatermass, Blake's 7, Flash Gordon ...

Of those, only seen Blake's 7 and Classic Who.

Blake's 7 is good, but the only thing it has going for it is its characters, and only a handful at that. Classic Who is sci-fa, and has aged terribly. If you said NuWho you might have had a leg to stand on, but again, different genre.

I always had the theory the reason why people like Babylon 5 is in much the same vein as why they like Firefly. The fact that it waseither cancelled, or threatened with cancellation and routinely defunded, and thus somehow it 'speaks to its credit' as if what could have been ... all without considerig fora moment that tv showsoften have to bankroll themselves with advertiser interest from season 1 in order to justify the funding it gets ... and on that note Babylon 5 failed precisely because it failed to actually generate interest even when it was around, and lo and behold became as if this trendy 'auteur, pure sci-fi' label when it doesn't do a single thng right.

Except B5 does pretty much everything right, and wasn't cancelled, so it's hard to put it in the same boat as Firefly.

As for Firefly, while I do think a lot of its hype comes from the possibility of what could have been, it helps that its season by itself is very solid.

Seriously, you say Babylon 5 has great writing ... yet it suffers Star Trek disease of being the cringiest fucking show to watch when it just so happens to deal with romantic themes. Seriously, it's gross. Like, what planet do these writers live on that whatever they want to pass off as 'romantic' is downright creepy, and whatever they want to consider 'passionate' is downright corny?

Completely disagree. It's got some of the most natural romatic interaction in the genre. It never dissolves into schlock or cringe, but feels natural.

I forced myself to binge watch Babylon 5 recently and you know what the most interesting thing about S4 is? The Mars conflict. We got none of it. No nuance. No meaningful rebel leaders who are actually fighting and dying.

No nuance?

Remember when the Mars Resistance is initially attacking civilian targets before Stephen puts a stop to it?

Remember the issue of the bloodhound units and the reception Lyta gets?

Remember how by extension, it feeds into the mutual distrust of telepaths and normies?

Remember Edgars's attempt of a "final solution" to the telepath problem, recognising it is a problem, and being torn up by his actions?

Yeah. No "nuance."

The Shadows controlling human society so much they deign to bother about the fashionable length of what skirts? Apparently the Shadows are the Illuminati, but the Earth Alliance continued to build Babylon stations regardless? What was the game plan there, fellows?

The Shadows didn't start taking control of EarthGov until well after B5 was constructed. They act through Clark. The Babylon Project was Santiago's initiative.

Hell ... one of the Babylon stations was crucial in a fight against the Shadows ... like, the Shadows if manipulating humanity could have simplydefunded the Babylon project after Station 3 blew up; cited obvious reasons that are obvious why the Babylon project should be scrapped after three attempts, and case closed. Shadows win.

Sabotage. That doesn't speak of high level infiltration.

You know what's really disgusting, though? The Shadows would probably make better rulers. Hear me out. The resources of an entire galaxy and you've got that Ranger Marcus waxing poetic about how he no longer cares about the needs of the poor because he takes solace in the universe being unfair.

That's some wilful misconstruction on your part.

Marcus never states he doesn't care - he even quotes Dickens to those who don't care. The entire point of that scene is that he can take small comfort in the universe being unfair because if it WAS fair, it meant that everything bad that happened to him was because he deserved it, and by extension, to everyone else. That the poor were poor were because they deserved to be.

Marcus is one of the most moral characters in the show.

None of the races seem to actually want to get their shit together and would rather their societies degenerate into shitholes where most of them live in abject poverty even onboard what is supposed to be the premier diplomatic station in the galaxy ...

Name one race in the setting that actively seeks to curate poverty among its populace.

All the Shadows seem to want to do is pit races against eachother to see them become stronger, and apparently that's somehow worse than races inflicting needless poverty on their own people inspite of the resources of an entire galaxy.

Again, name one race that seeks to curate poverty.

After all, how would a doctor respond? A person who has to deal with kids suffering cancer? Or schizophrenia sufferers? Or people with MND? Their career is entirelybased on the idea that Marcus is talking shit.

Yeah...no.

Wilfull or otherwise, you've missed the entire point of that scene.

All of the primary characters deserve to be thrown up against a wall and promptly shot in a revolution.

Why?

Who exactly are you supposed to root for?

Um...the main characters?

Because the show keeps on telling me these people are decent at heart but in truth they're either cowardly, shameful, repugnant, cruel, or utterly disingenuous.

How?

And didn't you cite Blake's 7 as being better? Y'know, a ship filled with morally dubious individuals (only a handful of which are fleshed out, but that's another issue)?

Hawki:

Of those, only seen Blake's 7 and Classic Who.

Blake's 7 is good, but the only thing it has going for it is its characters, and only a handful at that. Classic Who is sci-fa, and has aged terribly. If you said NuWho you might have had a leg to stand on, but again, different genre.

Splitting hairs. What, exactly, is the defining difference between science-fiction and science-fantasy?

I mean B5 has a fucking arcing plot about reincarnation and human and Minbari souls as if categorically provable a thing. About the closest to on the fucking nose that is in Classic Who is Time Lords and regeneration. And even then not that fucking on the nose.

Also the original Quatermass serials basically singlehandedly defined the whole idea of human-alien first contact danger in sci-fi. Invasion of the Body Snatchers harks back to it, Alien harks back to it, even Species.

Except B5 does pretty much everything right, and wasn't cancelled, so it's hard to put it in the same boat as Firefly.

Except Firefly actually got a real budget.

As for Firefly, while I do think a lot of its hype comes from the possibility of what could have been, it helps that its season by itself is very solid.

Mileage may vary.

Completely disagree.

Then you're blind, and deaf, and likely an alien.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F5iTSXXFC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjvsv8Wyv3U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzv6JnrxJKU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03WpQdyxNBo

That last one is actually funny... but once again, Jurasik is one of the few only likeable main cast.

No nuance?

Remember when the Mars Resistance is initially attacking civilian targets before Stephen puts a stop to it?

And? You're telling me a revolutionary front that spans multiple colonized worlds is just going to stop every one of its underground resistance cells because of a single character? You're telling me that not one of those resistance cells benefits from expanding the nature of the conflict to include civilian targets? You're telling me that somehow a single resistance leader could make those guarantees or the merits of their revolutionary activities are judged by some capacity to centralize their activities to affordsuch control, all while trying to stay alive?

That's what I call a lack of nuance. It's almost as if a problematic argument when we apply it to current discourse on terrorism.

Remember the issue of the bloodhound units and the reception Lyta gets?

What, that thing that telepaths were already hated for? Shock horror. The Psi Corps elements of the show were actually legitimately interesting (beyond its own established ridiculousness) ...

The Shadows didn't start taking control of EarthGov until well after B5 was constructed. They act through Clark. The Babylon Project was Santiago's initiative.

And yet immediatey after that line (or before it, I can't remember) he talks directly about how they manipulate currency markets? So apparently the Shadows control market speculation itself without any consideration to fiscal and monetary policy of Earth's governments ... and yet you're telling me that this control doesn't extend to governent funding?

Or the simple fact of the matter is that the Shadows didn't even bother to make their move until after B5 was constructed despite having proof of human intervention via B4?

Or the fact that this complete control of fiscal and monetary policy and apparently the fashion scene just magically emerged in the last handful of decades?

Sabotage. That doesn't speak of high level infiltration.

They literally manipulte all of Earth's currency markets and their fashion scene. Now one ofthose I can buy, the other the Shadows don't strike me as being the literal fashion police as if a high priority thing. The insinuation is quite clear. The Shadows have been manipulating the younger races for eons.

That's some wilful misconstruction on your part.

No,it's just a hypocritical character that is treated as if profound and thoughtful.

And what's more is that a doctor seemingly agrees with him despite his entire profession is based on thinking Marcus is full of shit. Regular people would scoff, or be derisive, or simply query whether they actually want this person following them around.

Marcus never states he doesn't care - he even quotes Dickens to those who don't care. The entire point of that scene is that he can take small comfort in the universe being unfair because if it WAS fair, it meant that everything bad that happened to him was because he deserved it, and by extension, to everyone else. That the poor were poor were because they deserved to be.

That is literally not what he says. At best it's pure apathy, at worst it's hypocritical psychopathy. Which is worse?

Marcus is one of the most moral characters in the show.

How? His very ending scene he literally takes a ship out of the fight, beats up two medical technicians, simply to save a person who he already knew would hate him for it.

Name one race in the setting that actively seeks to curate poverty among its populace.

Name one species that actually makes it a prerogative to actually redistribute the wealth of the galaxy to its race's membership and improve their livelihood? This is the thing ... the show itself routinely reinforces just how non-existent the welfare state is... and no one ever stops to question why that is?

Under the previous admitration of Santiago? The poor were still mistreated and still poor. Under Clarke, no less the same. Nothing has even changed for them ... just more excuses.

Yeah...no.

Wilfull or otherwise, you've missed the entire point of that scene.

Choosing instead to focus on how divorced the writing is from actual human discourse is not an example of missing the point. Once again, I didn't choose to edit and frame the scene as they did. They chose that.

Why?

Because none of them have an actual moral bone in their body. Any virtue to be had is purely circumstantial, not on the basis of actual thoughtful character portrayal. The show has entire reins on the progress of the plot, but its individual scenes of when they actually wish to portray character vignettes to round out that portrayal are shot in a way I question whether the writers are really that broken.

How?

Which character would you like me to break down?

And didn't you cite Blake's 7 as being better? Y'know, a ship filled with morally dubious individuals (only a handful of which are fleshed out, but that's another issue)?

Because that;s the whole point of Blake's 7 ... even Blake himself isn't entirely on the level, and the show makes it quite clear from the very first episode that the universe that these characters operate in is entirely morally dubious. That's the thing I'm getting at ... I love Blake's 7 precisely because the show does not waste time rattling of about virtue and the moral highground and doesn't pretend to either. Whereas repeatedly Babylon 5 tells me these characters are genuinely decent people at heart and it's a load of garbage.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Splitting hairs. What, exactly, is the defining difference between science-fiction and science-fantasy?

Science fiction: "Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component."

Science fantasy: "A mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy."

I'm not completely happy with either definition, but sci-fa is distinct from sci-fi in that it combines the tropes of fantasy and sci-fi. Sci-fi can have some fantastical elements, but that would make it more "soft" sci-fi. Sci-fa would involve the tropes having equal representation, whereas sci-fi would have any fantasy elements being fringe.

I mean B5 has a fucking arcing plot about reincarnation and human and Minbari souls as if categorically provable a thing. About the closest to on the fucking nose that is in Classic Who is Time Lords and regeneration. And even then not that fucking on the nose.

Case in point. B5 deals with some fantastical concepts (e.g. souls), but its more fantastical elements are esoteric in the context of its own universe. B5's setting primarily follows sci-fi in that it's a projected look of life in the 23rd century and beyond, with science and technology being the dominant forces.

Doctor Who is sci-fa in part because it lacks a lot of a cohesive setting, the nature of said setting varying by episode. So, one episode can deal with historical fiction. The next can deal with actual demons and ghosts.

Then you're blind, and deaf, and likely an alien.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F5iTSXXFC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjvsv8Wyv3U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzv6JnrxJKU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03WpQdyxNBo

That last one is actually funny... but once again, Jurasik is one of the few only likeable main cast.

First is very good, don't know what the problem is.

Second isan emotive moment, considering that we know that Lennier has been in love with Delenn for ages, and she doesn't know it. It's the acknowledgement by his character that his love will never be requited.

Third is Vir being his usual adorkable self, going to Susan, not knowing that she's the last person you should go to for relationships on advice.

Fourth is comedic gold.

And? You're telling me a revolutionary front that spans multiple colonized worlds is just going to stop every one of its underground resistance cells because of a single character?

The Mars Resistance is its independent group. It's not the same group as those on Proxima or Beta Durani for instance.

But while it's dubious they'd stop completely, they have every reason to because a) they want Sheridan's support, and b) Clark's bombing civilian targets himself, so more reason to distinguish themselves.

You're telling me that not one of those resistance cells benefits from expanding the nature of the conflict to include civilian targets? You're telling me that somehow a single resistance leader could make those guarantees or the merits of their revolutionary activities are judged by some capacity to centralize their activities to affordsuch control, all while trying to stay alive?

That's what I call a lack of nuance. It's almost as if a problematic argument when we apply it to current discourse on terrorism.

And yet immediatey after that line (or before it, I can't remember) he talks directly about how they manipulate currency markets? So apparently the Shadows control market speculation itself without any consideration to fiscal and monetary policy of Earth's governments ... and yet you're telling me that this control doesn't extend to governent funding?

Don't remember any of that.

Or the simple fact of the matter is that the Shadows didn't even bother to make their move until after B5 was constructed despite having proof of human intervention via B4?

No-one apparently recognises B4. Also, if they did take out B4, they could alter the past. Maybe in their favour, but that sets up the possibility of a paradox.

Discussing time travel in sci-fi is applying made up science to made up science.

Or the fact that this complete control of fiscal and monetary policy and apparently the fashion scene just magically emerged in the last handful of decades?

Da fuq?

They literally manipulte all of Earth's currency markets and their fashion scene.

Source needed, especially on the fashion sense.

The Shadows have been manipulating the younger races for eons.

As have the vorlons.

One cancels out the other, or at least, levels of influence vary - Shadows get drakh, vorlons get humans, etc.

And what's more is that a doctor seemingly agrees with him despite his entire profession is based on thinking Marcus is full of shit.

Agrees that the universe is indeed unfair, and it's a horrible thought to imagine that every piece of misfortune that befalls anyone is because they deserve it?

Oh the humanity.

Regular people would scoff, or be derisive, or simply query whether they actually want this person following them around.

No, regular people would see the point, or at least appreciate the gallows humour behind it.

That is literally not what he says.

And that is literally wrong.

How? His very ending scene he literally takes a ship out of the fight, beats up two medical technicians, simply to save a person who he already knew would hate him for it.

Giving up his own life to save the person he loves.

Love can be selfish, sure, but this is already a person who's given it his all for the Rangers

Name one species that actually makes it a prerogative to actually redistribute the wealth of the galaxy to its race's membership and improve their livelihood? This is the thing ... the show itself routinely reinforces just how non-existent the welfare state is... and no one ever stops to question why that is?

The show never does anything of the sort. The only evidence we have of poverty is Down Below, and that's on an isolated space station.

You really think the show can go into the minutia of every race and how their welfare state works?

Under the previous admitration of Santiago? The poor were still mistreated and still poor. Under Clarke, no less the same. Nothing has even changed for them ... just more excuses.

Choosing instead to focus on how divorced the writing is from actual human discourse is not an example of missing the point. Once again, I didn't choose to edit and frame the scene as they did. They chose that.

Every piece of fictional writing is removed from actual human discourse, unless you're getting into the works of Pinter for example.

They didn't miss the point, you have.

Because none of them have an actual moral bone in their body.

Except most of the characters do.

Any virtue to be had is purely circumstantial, not on the basis of actual thoughtful character portrayal.

Which is wrong.

Sheridan could have taken the easy path and go along with Clarke's direction for instance. Delenn could have taken the easy path and abided by the Grey Council. Londo could have just followed power.

So on, so forth.

Which character would you like me to break down?

Take your pick.

Because that;s the whole point of Blake's 7 ... even Blake himself isn't entirely on the level, and the show makes it quite clear from the very first episode that the universe that these characters operate in is entirely morally dubious. That's the thing I'm getting at ... I love Blake's 7 precisely because the show does not waste time rattling of about virtue and the moral highground and doesn't pretend to either. Whereas repeatedly Babylon 5 tells me these characters are genuinely decent people at heart and it's a load of garbage.

-B5 never "tells" us the characters are any such things, their actions do.

-Blake's 7 isn't as morally dubious as you claim. Blake isn't on the level, sure, but the Federation is 99% an evil empire, and the remaining 1% is a few key moments that are irrelevant to the larger setting. B5 does a far better job with moral ambiguity because there's no single "bad" or "good" faction, whereas in Blake's 7, we have the "bad" faction being faced by "not as bad" people.

Also, if you to compare all your above points to Blake's 7, then let's see:

-Blake's 7 tells us virtually nothing about everyday life for everyday people in the Federation bar some inferences in the first episode.

-Blake's 7 lacks any kind of nuance with its take on terrorism - Blake attacks military targets, that's it.

-Blake's 7 never investigates the implications of telepathy existing in its setting - Cally's a telepath of an alien race that looks identical to humans (because...reasons), and that's it.

-We have little inkling of how the Federation actually operates.

-Blake's 7 has a handful of interesting characters in its main roster (Blake, Avon, Villa) and a couple of interesting villains (Servalan, and arguably Travis). By the end of season 3, apart from Avon, all of them are in the same place they were at the start in terms of character development. This isn't getting into dregs like Jenna, Cally, and Gant. In contrast, almost all of B5's major characters undergo an arc.

I say this as someone who likes B7 and acknowledges B5 isn't perfect, but B7 isn't even in the same ballpark.

Hawki:

Science fiction: "Fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component."

Science fantasy: "A mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy."

I'm not completely happy with either definition, but sci-fa is distinct from sci-fi in that it combines the tropes of fantasy and sci-fi. Sci-fi can have some fantastical elements, but that would make it more "soft" sci-fi. Sci-fa would involve the tropes having equal representation, whereas sci-fi would have any fantasy elements being fringe.

So trying to categorically prove religion though souls and reincarnation is science-fiction, not science-fantasy? Like, they're literally implying they can prove reincarnation and human souls. I'm straining to remember anything more fantastic than that in Classic Who.

Once again ... souls and reincarnation and 'scientific' proof of it.

And this isn't a throw away plotpoint. It stops a war and makes up much of the story arcs from season 1 and 2, and they revisit it constantly.

Case in point. B5 deals with some fantastical concepts (e.g. souls), but its more fantastical elements are esoteric in the context of its own universe. B5's setting primarily follows sci-fi in that it's a projected look of life in the 23rd century and beyond, with science and technology being the dominant forces.

Clearly it's not, however. For intance, not once do you get an explanation how hyperspace works. Routinely in something like Star Trek they talk about fantastic concepts of engineering, or a 'scientific' explanation of some unusual phenomena. Ditto in Classic Who, you often get a 'rational' reason to something that happens.

Doctor Who is sci-fa in part because it lacks a lot of a cohesive setting, the nature of said setting varying by episode. So, one episode can deal with historical fiction. The next can deal with actual demons and ghosts.

But they turn out not to be just 'ghosts and demons' ... they're aliens, or holograms, or some trapped lifeforce through advanced technology. And once again, what the hell does cohesion have to do with science fiction?

Star Trek lacks a cohesive setting. Still science-fiction.

First is very good, don't know what the problem is.

Second isan emotive moment, considering that we know that Lennier has been in love with Delenn for ages, and she doesn't know it. It's the acknowledgement by his character that his love will never be requited.

Third is Vir being his usual adorkable self, going to Susan, not knowing that she's the last person you should go to for relationships on advice.

Fourth is comedic gold.

Tastes may vary then, and the fourth is decent at best. Comedy gold is perhaps a bit generous. It's more delivery than anything else, and I chalk that up to just how much Jurasik has personally invested into making it work.

The Mars Resistance is its independent group. It's not the same group as those on Proxima or Beta Durani for instance.

They seem to gain assistance, materiel, and even recruit off-world it appears. Moreover even if we just isolate it to Martians themselves ... revolutions don't work like that on our planet. Why would you pretend it would elsewhere? Moreover it flie in the face of the Bloodhounds aspect entirely. If you're worried about Telepaths lcating resistance cell members, you don't put all your eggs in one basket by having a single organization. You create a series of idependent cells that act autonomously.

Youy know ... like in reality. Moreover, it utterly ignore the fact that in a revolution there is no clear delineation between enemy and bystander. The Allies shouldn't feel bad killing civilian engineers when bombing the Third Reich's factories. For the same reason the whole 'shtloads of civilian labourers died when the Death Star blew up' is such a ridiculous fucking argument.

But while it's dubious they'd stop completely, they have every reason to because a) they want Sheridan's support, and b) Clark's bombing civilian targets himself, so more reason to distinguish themselves.

Civilians die in war. The people that build tanks are not military, still deserving of being targeted if you want to kill a nation's military production. Targeting enemy shipping is still viable resistance tactic. And sure, your car bomb to take out some politicians or that police station is liable to kill bystanders.

Don't remember any of that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJT5XBT6oRM

No-one apparently recognises B4. Also, if they did take out B4, they could alter the past. Maybe in their favour, but that sets up the possibility of a paradox.

Discussing time travel in sci-fi is applying made up science to made up science.

But these contradictions are within episodes of eachother.

Da fuq?

Hey, it's not me that wrote this stuff. It's almost as if the show is bad even without me poking holes in it or something...

Source needed, especially on the fashion sense.

Above video link because escapist forums no longer embed youtube videos.

Strikes me as weird as a person who clearly does not like the show I have to bringing these points up concerning kep plot points. Maybe the writing isn't as memorable as you like to think?

As have the vorlons.

One cancels out the other, or at least, levels of influence vary - Shadows get drakh, vorlons get humans, etc.

Does it? The primary source material suggests otherwise.

Agrees that the universe is indeed unfair, and it's a horrible thought to imagine that every piece of misfortune that befalls anyone is because they deserve it?

Oh the humanity.

Yeah, it's garbage rhetoric. A doctor that has to, say, deal with kids suffering cancer. Or people with schizophrenia. Or how about refugees with war wounds? Quite clearly adoctor is one of those few professions which are wholly dictated by a senseof idea that evils inflict upon us unfairly and that ... yeah, all of us shouldn'tfeel apathy in unjust suffering.

No, regular people would see the point, or at least appreciate the gallows humour behind it.

Or call him a dickhead. But hey, some of us don't appreciate callous fuckwits. Go figure.

And that is literally wrong.

Evidence would be nice. I did actually link the scene.

Giving up his own life to save the person he loves.

Love can be selfish, sure, but this is already a person who's given it his all for the Rangers

And yet the show pretends I'm supposed to like him because ... why? See, this is the thing ... even you are turning around and telling me he;s the 'most moral of the main/supporting cast' ... but clearly that's not true. He'san egotistical arsewipe... that is his entire schtick.

The show never does anything of the sort. The only evidence we have of poverty is Down Below, and that's on an isolated space station.

That's garbage... we see poverty on other planets, as well. We even have numerous scenes talking about poverty on Earth.

You really think the show can go into the minutia of every race and how their welfare state works?

Then why make it an issue? This is the thing ... clearly the show has something to say about poverty, and everytime it is handled it's handled so poorly that I have to legitimately start believing that the show writers simply treat the notion of abject, unjust suffering as if trite.

At least Star Trek has things to say concerning human dignity.

Every piece of fictional writing is removed from actual human discourse, unless you're getting into the works of Pinter for example.

Which is problematic when your target audience is other people.

They didn't miss the point, you have.

And yet I'm the one having to actually point out stuff that has actually happened in the series. What were yu, drunk while watching it? I mean, sure ... it probably helped that I was most nights watching it.

Except most of the characters do.

Like ... how?

Okay ... let's say Sheridan.

You make an argument why they're a moral character and just from memory I'm willing to bet Ican check every one of your arguments with examples.

Sheridan could have taken the easy path and go along with Clarke's direction for instance. Delenn could have taken the easy path and abided by the Grey Council. Londo could have just followed power.

----

Take your pick.

Given we're talking about Sheridan...

Oh? is this before or after he asked an entire capital ship of people to commit suicide in a grasping-at-straws operation to try to lure the Shadows into a direct confrontation? Yeah, that happened. Sheridan uses people until the very end. Sheridan is also then presented as a person with no flaws. Name me one situation in his time on the show where he actually has to make a hard decision in relationship to his character or his responsibilities?

Yeah ... about his biggest character flaw is apparently being overly loyal to his dead wife. And then, despite this complete bland-in-a-box character he just does disgusting things and the showrunners write it off as if noble sacrifice as opposed to what it really is is the fact that he had, on a batshit insane guesstimation, sent people off to knwingly die for perhaps noreason whatsoever unless the fucking plot demanded it.

This is what I was saying about any real virtue being circumstantial.

-B5 never "tells" us the characters are any such things, their actions do.

No, their actions do no such thing. Give me an example. I'm sure I'll find another example to contradict it.

-Blake's 7 isn't as morally dubious as you claim. Blake isn't on the level, sure, but the Federation is 99% an evil empire, and the remaining 1% is a few key moments that are irrelevant to the larger setting. B5 does a far better job with moral ambiguity because there's no single "bad" or "good" faction, whereas in Blake's 7, we have the "bad" faction being faced by "not as bad" people.

Also, if you to compare all your above points to Blake's 7, then let's see:

Ehhh, kind of? The universe, like with the tachyon funnel, that technology and social development of humanity is going to be a clustrefuck. Blake himself is killed (presumably) due to the fact that the moral complexity of a massively expansive of humanity made up of trillions of humans islikely going to be bleak place requiring excessive ideas of coercion to keep together.

-Blake's 7 tells us virtually nothing about everyday life for everyday people in the Federation bar some inferences in the first episode.

-Blake's 7 lacks any kind of nuance with its take on terrorism - Blake attacks military targets, that's it.

True enough. Though I never said Blake's 7 was nuanced. I said Blake's 7 is fun.

-Blake's 7 never investigates the implications of telepathy existing in its setting - Cally's a telepath of an alien race that looks identical to humans (because...reasons), and that's it.

Does it need to?

-We have little inkling of how the Federation actually operates.

We see their justice system, we get a long and hard look at the degeneracy and wasteful excesses of effectively a type of pseudo-nobility in a culture of strength that the Federation has become.

-Blake's 7 has a handful of interesting characters in its main roster (Blake, Avon, Villa) and a couple of interesting villains (Servalan, and arguably Travis). By the end of season 3, apart from Avon, all of them are in the same place they were at the start in terms of character development. This isn't getting into dregs like Jenna, Cally, and Gant. In contrast, almost all of B5's major characters undergo an arc.

I say this as someone who likes B7 and acknowledges B5 isn't perfect, but B7 isn't even in the same ballpark.

Blake's 7 occupies a special place in my heart due to nostalgia as a kid watching reruns of it on Australian tv, it's true. But For all its flaws, but it did more with less.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

So trying to categorically prove religion though souls and reincarnation is science-fiction, not science-fantasy?

Both of these concepts have real-world parallels. A setting doesn't arbitrarily become sci-fa because of their presence.

W40K is an example of sci-fa, among the reason of which is that souls are integral to the setting, and constantly reinforced as such. The souls in B5 aren't even explicitly confirmed as such, are lightly touched upon, and while they're a key point once (the end of the Minbari War), they're kept in the background.

Like, they're literally implying they can prove reincarnation and human souls. I'm straining to remember anything more fantastic than that in Classic Who.

Off the top of my head, antimatter monsters.

Clearly it's not, however. For intance, not once do you get an explanation how hyperspace works.

Which isn't relavant. Hyperspace is a natural phenomena in the setting. It's traversed through technological means.

Ditto in Classic Who, you often get a 'rational' reason to something that happens.

Please, Classic Who (Doctor Who in general) barely has any rationale behind it at all, in part because by its nature, the level of its technology is never consistent.

Star Trek lacks a cohesive setting. Still science-fiction.

Except Star Trek's setting is cohesive. Even in TOS, we get a sense of how the Federation operates, who their rivals are, and how society generally functions.

They seem to gain assistance, materiel, and even recruit off-world it appears. Moreover even if we just isolate it to Martians themselves ... revolutions don't work like that on our planet. Why would you pretend it would elsewhere? Moreover it flie in the face of the Bloodhounds aspect entirely. If you're worried about Telepaths lcating resistance cell members, you don't put all your eggs in one basket by having a single organization. You create a series of idependent cells that act autonomously.

First of all, getting material from off-world doesn't mean cohesion - we know that Clark has Proxima blockaded for instance and were shooting down civilian transports. In contrast, Mars is still open to people from Earth.

Second of all, it's stated that the resistance already was spread out, with its use of codenames and whatnot.

Third of all, again, unlikely that it stopped entirely, but they've got every reason not to do it via the war of propaganda.

Civilians die in war. The people that build tanks are not military, still deserving of being targeted if you want to kill a nation's military production. Targeting enemy shipping is still viable resistance tactic. And sure, your car bomb to take out some politicians or that police station is liable to kill bystanders.

There's a difference between collateral damage and targeting civilian targets explicitly. It's something that in modern warfare is rarely done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJT5XBT6oRM

You...do realize that the entire point of that scene is that the Shadows are avoiding the question completely, right?

"Who are you" is the 'vorlon question.' True to the Shadows, the agent avoids really answering it at all. Similarly, when Sheridan asks the 'Shadow question' to Kosh...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSD75pPsquM

Kosh's response is very vorlon. The agent's response is very Shadow. It's repeated in season 4 with the visual storytelling in the "Order vs. Chaos" choice.

Strikes me as weird as a person who clearly does not like the show I have to bringing these points up concerning kep plot points. Maybe the writing isn't as memorable as you like to think?

Plot points I keep disagreeing with.

I disagree with your 'plot point' about the Shadows controlling everything because it's clearly not a plot point, and it's not backed up by the scene you're citing.

Yeah, it's garbage rhetoric. A doctor that has to, say, deal with kids suffering cancer. Or people with schizophrenia. Or how about refugees with war wounds? Quite clearly adoctor is one of those few professions which are wholly dictated by a senseof idea that evils inflict upon us unfairly and that ... yeah, all of us shouldn'tfeel apathy in unjust suffering.

And nothing in the scene suggests apathy. Nowhere does Marcus suggest that they should never try to alleviate suffering, only that he'd made peace with the notion that the universe is unfair.

Evidence would be nice. I did actually link the scene.

The scene itself is the evidence.

And yet the show pretends I'm supposed to like him because ... why? See, this is the thing ... even you are turning around and telling me he;s the 'most moral of the main/supporting cast' ... but clearly that's not true. He'san egotistical arsewipe... that is his entire schtick.

I never said he was the "most" moral, I said "one of the most."

Marcus never does anything morally compromising. He's willing to fight the good fight without any hope of reward, personal or professional. He gives up his own life to save that of someone he loves. He barely has any ego - when is he shown to actively crave adulation beyond self-depricating humour (e.g. there's a line in season 4 where he says "great, I'm finally a war hero and no-one knows it" (paraphrased).

That's garbage... we see poverty on other planets, as well. We even have numerous scenes talking about poverty on Earth.

Which planets? We barely tread on any in the series.

We don't see any on Centauri Prime or Minbar. There's that frontier world where G'Kar is captured. Narn? Well, sure, maybe, but that happens when your planet is bombarded by mass drivers and your world occupied. Also, "show, don't tell."

Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. The show establishes that poverty still exists in human society in the 23rd century. It says nothing about the welfare state outside of Clark's regime.

Then why make it an issue?

To acknowledge in the 23rd century that poverty is an issue, adding to worldbuilding, and in the context of B5's development and airing history, help distinguish it from Star Trek, where poverty is pretty much non-existent.

This is the thing ... clearly the show has something to say about poverty,

Disagree. It acknowledges it exists. It never presents itself as having some deep insight into it.

At least Star Trek has things to say concerning human dignity.

Please don't bring that up. Picard's sanctimonious enough.

Star Trek doesn't say as much as it thinks it does - there's nothing interesting about utopia. Nothing. Saying "we're perfect and poverty doesn't exist" isn't some great insight unless it provides the means of showing how that's popular, the extent of which is that the Federation is a post-scarcity society.

Let's just say that's one of the reasons why I find B5 a far more interesting setting than Star Trek. Imperfection is usually more interesting than perfection in fiction.

Which is problematic when your target audience is other people.

So, by your logic, every piece of fiction ever written is problematic.

And yet I'm the one having to actually point out stuff that has actually happened in the series.

Pointing stuff out and completely missing the point and/or misconstruing said point. I'm the one pointing stuff out that you missed, forgot, or ignored.

You make an argument why they're a moral character and just from memory I'm willing to bet Ican check every one of your arguments with examples.

Off the top of my head:

-Helps those working against Clark, staying true to the principles of Earthforce rather than the letter.

-Seceeding from Earthgov in light of Clark's attrocities, and giving those who disagree the option to leave.

-Providing security for narn and G'kar even after the war with the centauri.

-Facing down Kosh, willing to give up his own life if that was what it took

-Giving up his own life in a bid to end the war with the Shadows (yes, Lorien resurrects them, but he went in the knowledge of his death)

-Cutting off the Markab homeworld in a bid to save their civilization from looters.

-Giving the White Star captain full awareness and choice of his plan to lure the Shadows

-Involving himself in the vorlon-Shadow conflict even though B5 would have been spared.

-Pulling out all the stops he can to minimize Earthforce casualties when he moves against Clark's forces

-Willingly sacrificing himself to take out the last of Earth's defence grid (and would have done if not for the Apollo)

-Refusing to give into torture and taking the easy path out to freedom

Need I go on?

Oh? is this before or after he asked an entire capital ship of people to commit suicide in a grasping-at-straws operation to try to lure the Shadows into a direct confrontation? Yeah, that happened.

Key word "asked." And it worked. It's an example of why Sheridan is a moral person because he can play the game of numbers (needs of the many vs. the few), but be torn up about it. An immoral person would have given the order Sheridan uses people until the very end.

Sheridan is also then presented as a person with no flaws. Name me one situation in his time on the show where he actually has to make a hard decision in relationship to his character or his responsibilities?

Yeah ... about his biggest character flaw is apparently being overly loyal to his dead wife.

Where's that a flaw? Going to Z'ha'dum? It's established that he knows Anna isn't on the level, but he plays the game in the hope of ending the war, even in the knowledge that he's going to die in the process.

And then, despite this complete bland-in-a-box character he just does disgusting things and the showrunners write it off as if noble sacrifice as opposed to what it really is is the fact that he had, on a batshit insane guesstimation, sent people off to knwingly die for perhaps noreason whatsoever unless the fucking plot demanded it.

And...they worked?

Sheridan does morally compromising things, such as smuggling the telepath on Earth Fleet ships, but guess what? It works. It saves lives.

A good person will still do bad things. That doesn't change their status as a good person inherently - it depends on motive.

No, their actions do no such thing. Give me an example. I'm sure I'll find another example to contradict it.

See above.

Also, contradictory examples don't mean much. A character without flaws isn't an interesting character. Obviously Sheridan does morally compromising actions, that doesn't change the fact that he's a good person at the end of the day.

Ehhh, kind of? The universe, like with the tachyon funnel, that technology and social development of humanity is going to be a clustrefuck. Blake himself is killed (presumably) due to the fact that the moral complexity of a massively expansive of humanity made up of trillions of humans islikely going to be bleak place requiring excessive ideas of coercion to keep together.

A lot of which is left up to interpretation.

Reguarly, B7 shows us humans that live outside the Federation, even having apparently regressed to pre-industrial technology (e.g. that Goth planet), but because aliens look the same in this setting (see Cally), I can't be sure.

Does it need to?

No, it doesn't need to, but apparently it's an issue in B5, so one would assume it should be an issue in B7.

Key difference is that B5 gives the time and effort to explain how telepaths work and how they're regarded. B7 doesn't. B7 isn't inherently diminished from that, but B5 is elevated.

We see their justice system, we get a long and hard look at the degeneracy and wasteful excesses of effectively a type of pseudo-nobility in a culture of strength that the Federation has become.

Justice system? You mean the pilot episode?

Wasteful excesses? Don't recall that. I mean, there's indulgence on that casino planet Avon and Villa go to, but was that even inside the Federation? Again, it's left vague as to what's a Federation colony and what isn't a lot of the time.

Nobility? Don't remember that. I remember in season 3 Servalan is kind of living the high life as she fills the power vacuum of the Federation, but a lot of that came from simply using a real-world manor.

Finally delved into the depths of my Amazon watchlist and started on Black Sails over the weekend. I'm a bit of a latecomer to this series (it having started back in 2014) but I'm really enjoying it so far. The series, essentially, is a prequel to Treasure Island but works really well due to the style and tone of both the acting and the writing. Toby Stephens is excellent as Captain Flint, and the young John Silver is charismatic yet conniving enough to have you rooting for him one moment and hating him the next.

Shiver me timbers - 4.5 / 5

I rewatched season 1 of Sherlock the other day while I was traveling. Definitely made the train journey pass quickly. It's still a fantastic show, and I think it's probably still the best season of the show as well, although I do love the second as well.

Started season 3 of Daredevil on Netflix. I'm about 5 episodes in and it's really, really good. It's sticking to what I like most about the series; it's less about super abilities and more about being a good suspenseful and intriguing crime noire, and this time it is very austere, dark, and VERY violent. I know many people in here don't like the darkening of hero spectacle, but Daredevil nails it, imho, and is well worth the watch for any fan of action entertainment/intrigue. The acting is great, the action amazing without being over-the-top and the characters are each really properly fleshed out, i.e.: everyone serves an integral purpose beyond "love interest" or "comic sidekick." Oh, and...

Anyway, if Daredevil falls victim to this latest trend of Netflix cancellations, I'm gon' be PISSED.

Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (3/5)

No, that's not me declaring Doctor Who is the greatest show in the galaxy, it's just the name of the serial. Though the Reddit did appropriate the title to describe Doctor Who as a whole, so, go figure.

Still, this is OldWho, so by definition, it's the greatest show in the galaxy...if the galaxy underwent a catastrophe that eliminated almost all of human culture. It's...well, what can I say? It's the kind of acid trip you'd expect. Now, acid trips can be fun, but that doesn't mean they're good for you. It's one of the better Seventh Doctor serials I've seen, so there is that, but again, this hasn't aged well. Not in effects, and not in writing - fun as it is to see false gods saying "DOCTOR, YOU WILL ENTERTAIN US OR DIE," like acid, too much cheese is bad for you.

Anyway, not much else to say.

Killjoys: Season 2 (4/5)

Killjoys Season 2 is better than Killjoys Season 1. That said, whether you agree with that statement is something that may come down to how you want to watch TV series. Because here's your options:

Option 1: Individual episodes are nothing special. There's some inter-episode continuity, but it's very much in the background, and isn't strung on that long. Relatively relaxed, even if the setting is fairly grim.

Option 2: Individual episodes vary a bit in quality. There's a high amount of inter-episode continuity that draws you in, wanting you to know more, though the overall plot can feel convoluted. Setting is shifted/developed, and becomes much darker. Characters go through the ringer, both physically and emotionally.

You can probably guess that Option 1 is referring to Season 1, and Option 2 is referring to Season 2. To which I say, well done. Have a cookie.

Now, that may be an oversimplification, but that's generally the difference between the seasons, and yes, I do think season 2 does improve from season 1, even though yes, the plot does get a bit convoluted, since a plot device is literally "green plasma" (yes, that's what it's called). I'm also left to ask exactly how far in the future Killjoys takes place at this point, because we're talking centuries of interstellar society, to the point that an "Old Tongue" can develop within this society, and fall out of use in the same timeframe. It's also a bit systemic of what I've noticed in sci-fi over time, that no-one seems to want to use aliens anymore. It's implied that there might be aliens, but no, the Hullen are humans that have bonded with a neuro-parasite. Not aliens.

So, okay, the plot gets a bit convoluted, but on the other hand, there's the characters. What's funny is that when I look at season 1, D'avin is probably the one that goes through the most shit, what with his PTSD and memory issues...issues that are sorted out fairly quickly all things considered. Here though, the stakes feel more intimate, and more real. John is the real standout in this season IMO, especially his relationship with Pawter. Thanks to ff.net, I knew that she died at some point, but seeing it happen here, and seeing him take revenge...holy shit. It's not exactly Game of Thrones "no-one is safe" level, but it is "you think all's good, then suddenly the knives come out" level. Like, Red Wedding, except inside a bar sort of stuff. The Dutch-Khlyen thing is done well, mostly, but suffers a bit from the whole convolution issue I mentioned. Thus, when the season ends with two potential plot points, one interesting (thanks to John's actions, the Quad is probably going to get a lot messier and lot more violent) and one not as interesting (the Aneela/Green Plasma/Black Root...stuff).

I should also mention that the season does seem a bit more sure of itself. Part of that is due to the music. Now, you can tell a lot about a piece of media based on what music is used for it, and Killjoys is a case where the de facto choice is heavy rock (like Firefly it's a space western, but Firefly used softer, country music for its themes for instance). Killjoys uses this as well, but unlike season 1, it seems to use it less as a crutch. As in, season 1 might use it to say "look, the characters are cool!" whereas season 2 is more "we've established the characters are cool, so we don't need to use rock as a crutch anymore). If you want an example of this, compare the season 1 intro theme to the season 2 one.

So, yeah. Far from perfect. It's not on the level of other space westerns like Cowboy Bebop or Firefly. But still, it's good. Flawed, but an improvement from the prior season.

Also, this is the second fictional world where Dutch's actress works alongside or in opposition to "Sixers." Make of that what you will.

Falling Skies: Season 2 (4/5)

Like Killjoys, this is a case of a show having an average first season followed by a good second season. Unlike Killjoys, I have no reservations in saying that this season is better than its predecessor.

That's not to say it's perfect though - far from it. However, this season is bereft of many of the issues I had with season 1, so first point of call is to compare the two:

-I mentioned in my review of season 1 that it really felt like the second season, given the amount of stuff that happens before it. Season 2, however, doesn't have the same issue. It can follow on from season 1 naturally.

-The season is far better with its use of music. I mentioned before that season 1 tended to use music like a crutch, like every little thing was, by the music, some great big thing. Season 2 does this at times, but it's far more sparing with it.

-The character actions feel more natural. I don't remember if I mentioned Weaver specifically in my review of season 1, but regardless, god he could lay it on thick. I'm going to attribute it more to direction, because here, like the music, his melodrama is toned way down.

So, now that those points of contrast are over, let's get on with what it does well:

-This season is darker. Like, literally - part of the plot involves heading into winter, which means dark, snow, and everything that comes with it. However, the content gets darker as well, as we get to, among other things, Holocaust-esque imagery, execution of POWs, torture, mind rape, coups, and whatnot. Now, it's hardly Walking Dead-esque levels of dissection of the human condition, but it's still a shift from season 1, which while not free of moral ambiguities, they were still the exception rather than the rule.

-It does drive the plot along, I'll give it that.

-Relationships are done well...sort of. But better than season 1, so there is that. Also, Evil!Karen is sexy Karen, so there is that (I'm guessing the actress had fun in acting it up; at the least her character is more memorable this time round).

Right, now that you've got an idea of what the season does well, let's get a sense of where it falters:

-This isn't really the show's fault, but there's kind of a sense of self-importance that isn't earned. There's a feature in the extras titled "Retelling the American Revolution," and if you look at the show in that context, you can see this - it isn't even that subtle about it, with statues from the war, to characters outright discussing it and the idea of rebuilding America. However, if you want to argue that the show is retelling the American War of Independence...how? The War of Independence was a colony fighting for independence from empire. This is aliens invading. I mean, you might be able to draw a parallel between the arrival of Europeans in America and the effects on the natives, or go for the same analogies as War of the Worlds, but nope, War of Independence. Okay then. 0_0

-At this point in time, I'm left to ask what's going on in the rest of the US, or heck, even the world. Now, it's understandable that this isn't shown - in-universe, there's no way of that kind of communication. Out of universe, the show's focusing on one specific resistance group, it would be hard to dilute it across continents. I mean, Walking Dead (you'll see a lot of refeences to Walking Dead here) never leaves Rick's group effectively. We can only assume that the world is in the same state in the US. However, that doesn't work quite as well here, because part of the plot is that the skitters are in rebellion against their overseers. If we assume that the espheni have a presence all over Earth, and are actually afraid of this rebellion, then presumably it's occurring around the world as well. Now, again, we can kind of assume that what's going on with the 2nd Mass here is being replicated to some extent in various countries, but it's a dearth of information that becomes noticable.

-On the subject, while this criticism can be levelled at almost any media, the espheni really, REALLY suck at tactics. They can wipe out 90% of Earth's population with neutron bombs, but on the ground, they're pretty incompetent. Maybe that's intentional, maybe not, but either way, it's noticable.

-There's some really wonky charfacterization at times. For instance, in the penultimate episode, there's a general who resents the passive course of action the leader of Charleston has put them on. Episode ends with him springing out the characters who want to make an attack. The very next episode, he orders them...not to make the attack. Like, huh?

-On a related note, seriously, why do people like Pope so much (people as in fans?). He's an arsehole. He's not deep, he's not layered, he doesn't have some heart of gold, he's just an asshole. I've seen some people compare him to Daryl Dixon, but Daryl at least had layers, and didn't keep abandoning Rick's group. Pope, on the other hand...he's an asshole!

So, yeah. Improvement over the first season. That said, I've got the sense that at some point Falling Skies goes off the rails at or after season 3. I'd be curious if anyone can elaborate on that. But regardless, at this point in time, the season gets a stamp of "good."

The Librarians: Season 4 (4/5)

Good news about this season is that it's the best of the bunch, and the first to actually be "good" as opposed to "average." Bad news is that it's the last season. Medium news is that its strengths from previous seasons remain, as do its weaknesses. Key difference is that the strengths vastly outweigh the weaknesses in this season. Course it generates a big weakness of its own at the end, but, well, more on that later.

Having said that, if you've read my prior reviews of this series, there isn't too much to say beyond that. If not, then go read them, because I'm not repeating myself. But basically, I said earlier that if the show was to improve, it needed to either forsake the whole overarching threat idea (in part because it could never devote enough time to it), or get better writing. Well, on that note, the season kind of splits the difference in that while it's revealed that there's technically an overarching threat, the theme of this season is internal conflict - that there can only be one Librarian, so with Flynn gone (more on that later), Eve needs to choose just one to stay on. So, on one hand, we get the stage set for interpersonal drama. On the other, unlike past seasons, the plot thread actually complements the drama rather than being separate from it. So while the season doesn't technically doing anything new in having character-centric episode, the pace and context of the season doesn't subtract from them.

On the other hand, there's the question of Flynn. Now, up to this point, Flynn's been to this show what Tommy Oliver was to Season 1 of Power Rangers - obstensibly the most important member of the team, but the one that shows up sporadically. In seasons 1-3, the out of universe reason was (I'm guessing) is that Noah Carlyle had to split time between Librarians and Falling Skies, differences including that one character has a beard, the other doesn't). The out of universe reason varied per season, but it was the culmination of his arc (such as it was) in season 3 to stop running. Yet he does it AGAIN in season 4, and I can't think of any in-universe or out of universe reason for it (yes, there's technically a reason, but it's pretty flimsy, not to mention repetitive).

There's also the final problem that due to the last five minutes of the season finale, technically nothing in this season actually occurs due to time travel. Which sucks. In theory, at lot of what happened in this season still happens, but it's really aggravating because it effectively means that a lot of character development is reset, and some of it was determinant on plot points that will no longer occur. Also, Rachel is, by extension, forgiven for her actions, and, no. Just no. Some villains get a redemption story, some don't, or if they do, they deserve better than this. Which is a shame, because while we don't see much of her, Rachel is at least enjoyable as a villain, and seeing the actress from Continuum play someone on the opposite end of the moral scale is fun (so much that I did a oneshot based on it). Now, this is only the last five minutes of the season finale, the finale itself being quite fun (if a repeat of the season 1 finale in a lot of ways), but while it casts a shadow over this season, it doesn't ruin it for me. Like, it's not Merlin finale-level bad.

So, that's The Librarians. If I had to rank the seasons, it would go 4>2>3>1. When I first started, I called it a "poor man's Doctor Who." Having since reached the end of it, I can say that while it doesn't surpass Doctor Who, it did become a fun show in its own right. And considering that I've pretty much given up on Doctor Who at this point in time, both old and new alike, I wouldn't have minded this show to stick around. It's not getting a spot in my top fantasy shows list, nor is its cancellation some travesty of television, but hey, I had fun. That's what it sought to provide, and after awhile, that's what it gave me. Right now, i can only hope that it continues in EU form or something, but that's probably too much to hope for.

So, yeah. Flawed, but fun.

Dark Matter: Season 1 (4/5)

When I went back to rewatch Dark Matter (to do a "proper watch," so to speak), I asked myself after seeing the first two episodes "wait, was this show as good as I remember it being? Had I just imagined it. With trepidation I started watching ep. 3 and "ah, there we go! Now I remember why I like this show!"

So, yeah. Dark Matter is still good. Not perfect, but good. Good enough for it to get into my top 10 sci-fi shows list (which is becoming a top 20 - if it ever reaches 20, maybe I'll make a thread on that). Thing is, having rewatched this season, there's arguably not too much I can say, becauese I've already said it on the 'net elsewhere. Still, "elsewhere" isn't "here," so shadup and listen.

Okay, let's deal with the most common criticism of Dark Matter, one that I kinda agree with - worldbuilding. Dark Matter has very thin worldbuilding, and as it came out alongside season 1 of Killjoys (which, if nothing else, did worldbuilding quite well), which made its failings here even more pronounced. There's little sense of scale in Dark Matter, and most of the time, the crew's either on the Raza, or sets that are obviously repurposed from real-world locations or other shows. Still, having done a "proper watch," while its thin worldbuilding is still an issue, it's not so much an issue as I recall it being. From watching it, we can gather the following:

-Earth still exists.

-There's a body called the Galactic Authority (or Galactic Authorities), but it's vague as to whether that's just some kind of interstellar police force, or a governing body in its own right

-Corporations control a lot of the setting, to the extent that they can field warships and armies. By extension, we know that poverty is very widespread (85% of children live on less than one "bar" a day).

-Independent city-states (planet-states?) exist in some cases.

-Humanity has a sphere of influence with "outer colonies." Also, if we pay attention to some names, we get stuff like "Vega 5," Eridani 6," and the "Procyon Insurrection." Vega, Eridani, and Procyon are all the names of real-world stars, so if these names conform to these star systems, humanity's sphere of influence is within the scale of dozens of light years around Earth.

There's other elements, but these are the basics. So, while something like Killjoys, The Expanse, or Firefly has the benefit of a defined astro-geographic setting, Dark Matter isn't completely without scope and scale, though again, it's very thin.

So, yeah, that's perhaps the biggest issue of Dark Matter. That, and its low budget. Now, let's get to the characters, which are the heart and soul of the show. What Dark Matter succeeds on more than anything else is its character dynamic. Of the seven characters that call the Raza home, some are more engaging than others (e.g. Four is arguably the most stereotypical), but these are people that feel defined, both in terms of their own characters, and how they relate to those around them. The whole plot of amnesia and discovering their pasts, along with the ship's android becoming more human, could have been hackneyed and cliche, but here, it's executed adroitly. Past the first two episodes, you start to feel for them. This feeling lasts throughout the entire season. Again, with Killjoys, a lot of the time the show was reminding you of how "badass" the characters were, either directly or indirectly. The main trio were fine, sure, but each easily fit an archtype. Dark Matter has its archtypes as well, but they're much better rounded archtypes. The show doesn't need to tell me they're "badass," It's content with letting their actions and character dynamic speak for them. Remember how in my review of Killjoys Season 2 that unlike season 1, it didn't rely on music as a crutch? This is true here. Music's sometimes used to sell the moment, that these guys are/were contract killers, but it does it with a scalpel rather than a hammer. And of course, there's the question of "hey, maybe we don't want to be those people anymore," but past and circumstance keeps catching up to them. Or in the case of poor Five, dragging her into the mud.

So, yeah. Very strong first season. I won't go straight into season 2, in part because there's only three seasons and the show was never completed, in part because I'm afraid it won't be able to live up to this season. But, whatever. Still a fun sci-fi romp.

Prisoner Zero: Season 1 (3/5)

If I had to describe Prisoner Zero in one word, it would be "frustrating." Not the kind of frustrating where it's constantly assaulting me with how frustrating it is (though that's at times true), but the kind of frustrating of seeing something that could be good, even great, but is constantly shooting itself in the foot.

Before I get to why that is, I'll get with the stuff I actually do like. First and foremost is the animation - this show looks pretty beautiful actually. It's got a very vibrant aesthetic, it's well animated, it's 2D animation but where the characters look 'thicker' - it's hard to explain. Maybe Disney's Paperman is the best example? Whatever. It looks slick. Second of all there's the voice acting. While there is some wonkiness at the start, all the characters look and sound distinct, and there's a fairly wide range of accents, though British, Scots, and Australians seem to be the dominant groups of the future. Of course, praising voice acting is a pretty low bar if that's the first, or even second thing that comes to mind when you're looking to appraise a work of animation, but these are about the only things I can praise unequivocably. The rest is a really mixed bag.

So, let's talk about bags. I've seen two sources of inspiration for Prisoner Zero, namely Star Wars: The Clone Wars (apparently it was billed as a replacement) and Avatar: The Last Airbender. In that, I can see shades of both inspiration, in that we have a galaxy-spanning empire (though the show seems to use "galaxy" and "universe" interchangeably) with a group of heroes trying to overthrow said empire (not exclusively the domain of TLA, but it's effectively there). However, Prisoner Zero falls short on both these fronts, and it would fall short even if it wasn't being compared to much better shows. As in, we get that the Imperium's this galaxy-spanning empire that rules humanity, but we don't get much of a sense of what life is like for the everyday person. Star Wars, especially the prequels, established the sense of the world. PZ isn't without worldbuilding, but a lot of it comes from inference, and there's a sense of disconnect from the protagonists and the people they're supposedly fighting for. Similarly, TLA benefitted from strong geography. In the first season, we had our heroes on the south pole, and they had to get to the north pole. Along the way, they met interesting people with interesting cultures. PZ is bereft of this focus in terms of astro-geography, the denizens, and its plot (more on that later). Also, TLA, even in season 1, showed us that the Fire Nation wasn't some absolute evil empire, and we had Zuko and Iroh as examples of this. In contrast, PZ doesn't have nearly as many shades of grey. Sure, Vykar's fun to watch, but a character like him is never going to have as much depth as a conflicted character like Zuko. And likewise, the protagonists kinda fall short as well. For instance, there's a male character who has a husband...and we don't find out he's his husband until around the 2/3 mark. Prior to that point, I assumed they were brothers by virtue of having the same surname. I'm not complaining that they're gay, I'm complaining that it took over two thirds of a season to specify their relationship. Also worth noting that character's husband dies in the second episode, and flashbacks aside, we never see him again. You can't make me invested in a character mourning over the death of another character if I barely know the character I'm mourning. The season really needed to start earlier in its timeline IMO, to show the stuff that keeps being mentioned. It's not that I don't understand these characters' histories, it just feels that it would have worked better if they weren't relegated to flashbacks in a lot of cases.

Plus, there's the issue of plot. Prisoner Zero is effectively tangling with two main plot threads in its first season, and it's kind of a mess. Basically, the two plot threads can be boiled down as follows:

1) Shut down the Imperium, the Bioweave, free humanity

2) Deal with the return of the Dark Times

So, yeah. It's worth mentioning before going on that despite its claims, PZ isn't sci-fi, it's sci-fa, and the two plot threads complement this...sort of. Thing is, you can probably guess just by looking at them that one of these plot threads is more immediate and concrete than the other.

And look, the idea of an approaching evil isn't an inherently bad idea. You want an example of what does this well? Game of Thrones. The White Walkers are the ultimate threat, but the show takes time to build them up, to the point that it's only at the end of the seventh season that they even breach the Wall. However, PZ is far more messy in its approach, in that for the first two thirds, plot thread 2 feels far more prominent than plot thread 1, as we reguarly encounter supernatural creatures and whatnot. Yet the 66% point involves the Bioweave transmitter being destroyed. You'd think that would be a series finale, but nup. It's more a "oh yeah, wasn't this show meant to be about something else?" and spending the last third focusing almost exclusively on plot thread 1. But when a character references all the good they've done in fighting the Imperium prior to this point, I'm left to ask "what good?" Most of the time they've been dealing with non-Imperium threats. Heck, even Andromeda does this better. Andromeda's another case of squandered potential in epic sci-fi, but it at least waited a whole season to reveal the magog worldship, and reveal

More than anything, the series finale is indicative of the issue at the heart of Prisoner Zero. On one hand, it looks great - DBZ-eque fighting without the filler, high stakes, high action. On the other, it makes no sense.

This is the problem at the heart of Prisoner Zero. This could have been a good show. It could even have been a great show. The ingredients are there, and every so often it delivers a character moment so good, or an action scene so great, that you forget why you were irritated in the first place. But it doesn't come together well. It's like the writers had a number of ideas that they all just threw together. I should mention that the show's last third is much better than the first two, but it isn't without its issues, and most of it boils down to a renewed sense of focus. But it might be for naught. Because when I labelled this entry "Prisoner Zero: Season 1," I was kinda lying. Oh sure, that's what it's called, but it's been two years, and there's no second season in sight. The finale leaves it wide open for one. The producers have stated their intention for one. But I doubt it's coming. No idea why, despite these thoughts, because hey, it's a children's cartoon, and if it made big bucks, that should be enough. Or maybe it didn't. So if this is the only series we get, I don't know how to feel about that. On one hand, a second season at the level of quality of the first isn't much to write home about. On the other, if the writers took a look at what worked and what didn't, and kept those lessons in mind for the second season, it could be good. Heck, great.

Now for a final question - why isn't this show more well known? Seriously, I've seen no hype for it. On ff.net, it's another case of where the stuff I've written for it is the only set of entries in its section. You might be saying "it's flawed, you know why," and sure, okay, but there's lots of stuff that gets popular that, IMO, is crap. You might also say that because it's made in Australia, it's too obscure, but that doesn't cut it either. Slugterra is made in Canada for instance, but that's huge, on ff.net and beyond for instance. Besides, it's on Netflix, so it should be easy to find. This isn't me claiming that PZ deserves to be some kind of cultural phenomenon in the same way that Last Airbender or Clone Wars are/were, but I feel it deserves to be known a bit more. Because again, there's nuggets of gold here. There's a lot of potential here. But it isn't met, and I'd like to see it at least get the chance to meet it.

Well, whatever. That's Prisoner Zero for you. Aims for the stars, but a lot of the time, it just gets burnt.

Falling Skies: Season 3 (4/5)

If I had to plot the quality of Falling Skies on a graph, it would, at this time of writing, resemble a bell curve. It starts off low with season 1. Then it shoots upwards with season 2. With season 3, it goes down - not as low as season 1, but not as high as the season preceeding it. That said, if this is supposedly the season where the show jumped the shark, I don't agree. I can sort of see why some might say that, but while the execution of this season's plot isn't flawless, it does feel natural...mostly.

Okay, that said, let's see where it diverges from past seasons. Season 1 had a goal - survive, which meant travelling around the country (or rather one particular part of it). Season 2 had a clear goal - get to Charleston. Season 3 is much more static, both in location and in plot - defend Charleston while the volm prepare a weapon that will knock out the espheni defence grid, allowing more of their forces to come to Earth. Now, speaking personally, I don't mind the introduction of the volm - it does add to the show's mythology. However, the show either can't or won't show us much of them (or the rebel skitters) - likely because of budget, but it does lead to a kind of clash from what's on screen, and what we know is happening off-screen. There's a whole sub-plot as to whether the volm can be trusted or not, whether allying with them is the best move humanity can make. The answer to that is...maybe? I won't spoil anything, but the finale does try to have it both ways. There's a sense of the season being comparatively static to the previous ones - a lack of urgency, as a result of this.

Second issue is that by this time, the lack of information on other parts of the world, or heck, even the country, is starting to become noticable. Part of the plot involves making contact with the actual president, despite Charleston being declared the capital of the "New United States." This could have been interesting, could have led to political tension, and could have functioned as worldbuilding as we got the sense of what other resistance groups are doing. Well, we do get some sense, but this plot point is quickly dropped. And when the volm 'offer' to transport the people of the NUS to Brazil, I'm left to ask "wait, what about the people already in Brazil?" Like, are they not there? If so, why? No-one asks. No-one even seems to care. The earlier seasons could get away with a microscopoic perspective because it started off as being about survival, and they were without the means to communicate. But at this point, the blackout on areas outside the US is noticable, because assuming the espheni have forces stationed everywhere on Earth (and there's nothing to suggest they don't), even if Charleston is giving them a hard time, if they're dominating other areas, couldn't they transfer them? Granted, it is established that the espheni suck at countering gurilla warfare, and we know that they're running low on fuel (least in the eastern US), but while none of these issues break the setting or story, at this point it's becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Still, despite these gripes, the season does overall remain solid. There's a mole sub-plot that's fairly well done (though the moment the viewer finds out who it is, it's very underbaked in a sense, but the character reactions sell the gravitas. Likewise, the characters remain engaging mostly. Also, despite the above gripes, I do like how the show has progressed in the sense that we see how humanity is fighting back more effectively against the invaders, per better tactics and better weapons. Yeah, we only see one particular group of humans doing that, but despite what some have said, it does feel like a natural evolution from what's come up to this point. And as underbaked as the Lexis sub-plot is, I'm holding out judgement on it for now.

So, yeah. That's season 3. On one hand, it's flaws are very pronounced, like season 1. Unlike season 1 though, the foundation remains solid enough that they aren't enough to sink the season. So, good, if not great stuff.

Lethal Weapons seasons 1-whatever part of 3 we're on: 4/5 overall. less now that SWS is in the main cast. I don't hate him, I just miss who he replaced.

Doctor Who series 11: 3/5. Most of the episodes so far are kind of in middling territory.

Bleach: The bount arc: 1/5 can't believe I forgot this is why I stopped watching in the first place.

She-Ra and thetpy advert of Power: this is as close to a 5/5 as I'm gonna get any time soon. Oh, wait, I forgot

The Dragon Prince: 5/5 easily. Then again, give me something Avatar-like and I will probably enjoy it.

Hawki:
When I first started, I called it a "poor man's Doctor Who."

Slightly relevant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN0MZB0HU4k

Something Amyss:

Hawki:
When I first started, I called it a "poor man's Doctor Who."

Slightly relevant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN0MZB0HU4k

Thanks to region blocking I'll have to take your word for it.

I will say that the Librarians OST doesn't hold a candle to NuWho's, least during the RTD era. The only Librarian tune I can recall is the ending tune, and that's probably more down to repetition. In contrast, the DW theme is instantly memorable, and there's plenty of tracks by Murray Gold that I can still remember.

Something Amyss:

The Dragon Prince: 5/5 easily. Then again, give me something Avatar-like and I will probably enjoy it.

*Thinks about Prisoner Zero*

Yeah, be careful about such assertions.

But anyway, I'm actually in the midst of writing my DP review. It's a 4/5 for me, but still good - given me lots of stuff to talk about.

Hawki:

Thanks to region blocking I'll have to take your word for it.

Somehow, hit post without hitting it. Technology!

There are a lot of tonal similarities between whatever they call the Librarians' leitmotif (usually plays for Flynn, but not always) and Murray Gold's "I am the Doctor." You can probably find the tracks individually in your region and comare them.

Granted, Murray's work is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't help the comparison that the Librarians has a sound-alike.

The Dragon Prince: Season 1 (4/5)

Let's get one thing out of the way before saying anything else - no, this isn't as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Even if we compare the first seasons of each show, it still isn't as good. TLA has better characters, better plot, better worldbuilding, and better animation.

That being said, TDP does a good job in most of these things, even if the job done isn't as good as what's come before. And in the light of these aspects, it gives me a good foundation to analyze this show in isolation.

First, the thing that everyone's noticed, the animation. I really have no idea why they went for the style they did other than to save money, because with the whole feeling of frames being missing, that's one advantage I can imagine. That said, this is only an issue about 10% of the time. When characters are at a distance, it's a moot point. However, it's when we see characters up close that the animation style becomes noticable, as people seem to be missing basic movements or somesuch. Like, you know when you're on skype, and the connection isn't perfect? Imagine that, just not as severe. In fairness, the art in of itself is fine, but the animation is a noticable drawback.

I'm going to touch on worldbuilding and themes next, because the show's a mostly postive bag here. So, basically, we get a situation where elves and humans are at war because of past attrocities committed by both sides, and our protagonists want to bring the egg of the titular Dragon Prince to its mother to stop said war. Which isn't too bad as plots go, but I'll get to that in a bit. The worldbuilding is...okay. As in, like Avatar, we have an example of what's called a "hard magic system," where supernatural abilities operate within a defined ruleset. So, that's neat. Likewise, I do get a general sense of this land, where elves live in Xadia in the east, and humans live in a collection of kingdoms in the west (only one of which is named), but there isn't too much of a sense of geography, at least in regards to where the protagonists are at any given time in respect to their points of origin or destination.

By extension of worldbuilding in this case, there's themes. Now, this is weird to talk about, because TDP is trying to engage in themes of prejudice, and at times it does this very well, and at other times, it doesn't. To understand, I'm going to give an abridged history of the setting:

-Humans and elves live in Xadia.

-A human mage discovers dark magic, bad stuff happens

-Mage is defeated. Elves and dragons banish all humans from Xadia to the west of the continent.

-Humans try to re-enter their homelands, but are kept at bay, up to the moment when they slay the Dragon King and supposedly, his son. This sets the stage for all-out war.

So, basically, humans and elves have good reason to hate each other. However, the catalyst for the events in the series rarely go beyond the point of the death of the Dragon King. Granted, about 1000 years pass between the human banishment and the king's death, but it's not like this is unknown history within the setting's context. So when the show gives us an info-dump in the first episode that covers all this, but the show itself rarely touches on it, it does create a sense of disconnect when elf prejudice against humans is never called out, or the dislocation of an entire species due to the actions of just one individual. I'm fine with humans being xenophobic assholes in fiction (see W40K for instance), but if you're going to do moral equivalancy/moral ambiguity, actually commit to it. If anything, when Rayla complains about human prejudice, she comes off as a hypcrite when we see her own prejudices alive and well later on in the season.

But, okay, fine, that's the part of the "prejudice is bad" theme that doesn't work. What DOES work however, is how the show highlights prejudice more subtly. It's telling that when it comes to human prejudice against elves, more senior humans are more prejudiced than children. On one hand, we have Viren whipping up his people with xenophobia after the death of their king, and everyone buys into it. Even 'good' characters like Amaya have this. Someone like Callum is middle of the road, in that he has prejudices, but is willing to examine them. And on the far end of the scale we have child characters like Ezran and Ellis, neither of whom express any real prejudice towards elves. There's a moment when Ezran comes across an elf figurine that's drawn as a kind of monster, and the way he looks at it, it's like he's seeing it for the first time, even though he's almost certainly played with it before. Ellis never even questions why an elf is tagging along. Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but in this case, I don't think I am - there's the underlying theme that prejudice isn't innate, it's inherited through one's culture. It's arguably telling that Rayla, a young elf, is willing to forsake her fellow assassins over the discovery that the Dragon Prince wasn't killed, while Runaan, even with the egg right in front of him, won't stray from the path. So, when it comes to understated theme, the show does quite well.

When it comes to plot and storytelling, the show does a good job as well. Plot is good - moves very quickly, and there's not really any stand-alone or filler episodes. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is up to you. As for storytelling, again, it's quite good. While this is obstensibly a children's cartoon, and is thus limited in certain aspects (e.g. no-one dies on-screen), the dialogue and context isn't juvenile, and never talks down to the viewer. There's some cartoons I can enjoy, but only with a kind of 'mental block' in the knowledge that I'm not the target audience, and thus, have to view it in the knowledge that I'm going to get some cringeworthy material. Like TLA, Dragon Prince thankfully isn't one of those cartoons. Hardly Game of Thrones, but well above something like MLP (and I say this as someone who likes (or liked) MLP). However, there is a caveat, in that this show is actually quite funny...for about 80% of the time when it's trying to be funny. As in, when jokes are used, I find myself at least smirking 80% of the time. However, there's a recurring gag of characters having to explain their jokes, the joke being not so much the joke itself, but a character not getting it, and ergo, we should laugh at the character. Sometimes, this works, such as when a characte makes a good joke after those around him make so-so joeks, but not one laughs, the implciation being he's the smartest guy there, but the people around him are too dumb to get the joke. However, most of the time it just serves to bog the pacing down, especially when the whole "the joke is that the joke has to be explained" is used over and over. In Red vs. Blue this kinda worked, but here? Not so much.

As for characters, again, the show does a good job in making them feel multi-layered, protagonists and antagonists all. There's no real weak links, no stock characters, just individuals with varying qualities, fears, hopes, and desires. Like the first season of TLA, we have our main trio of characters, but while similarities exist, it isn't a 1:1 comparison, even as shades exist. Likewise, our villain gets a good treatment - he's not evil for the sake of being evil, he's a character who does evil things for what he believes is the greater good, and still has humanity within him. Like, not Zuko, but better than Ozai, if we're using TLA as a comparison.

So, yeah. Very solid first season. Here's to 5/6 more (if they're doing the whole "name the season after an element" thing).

Something Amyss:

Somehow, hit post without hitting it. Technology!

There are a lot of tonal similarities between whatever they call the Librarians' leitmotif (usually plays for Flynn, but not always) and Murray Gold's "I am the Doctor." You can probably find the tracks individually in your region and comare them.

Granted, Murray's work is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't help the comparison that the Librarians has a sound-alike.

So, here's the theme "I am the Doctor." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7VmOZ4Ppj8

And here's the Librarians motif I think you're referring to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7FQ1FCYGzg&t=0s&index=2&list=PLduVTFL9-W7ZL283gJHjTi2u4TKtyduOq

Listening to them back to back, I can see the similarities, but I wouldn't really call the Librarians one a rip-off. It's got a similar structure and flow, but it's far more...contained, I guess? Like, ImDoctor is big on orchestral sounds, selling the Doctor as the legendary, almost messianic figure he was often portrayed as under Davies and Moffatt. The Librarians one is far more subdued, more playful almost. If anything, ImDoctor has more in common with the Mass Effect 2 Suicide Run OST.

The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden (3/5)

This is one of a trio of plays by Alan Ackbyrn (sp.) that take place over the same timeframe, but at different locations. Each play is stand alone but acts as part of a bigger story with the same characters. So, one takes place in the kitchen, one in the living room, and in this case, one in the garden.

And...that's it really. The play's fine. It's average. It's humourous, but it lacks 'meat' to it. I don't think it's by virtue of being a comedy, because comedies have provided me with far more in the past. It's...fine. Supposedly seeing all three plays elevates the experience, and I do intend on seeing them, but in of itself, it's...fine. Really not much more I can say.

Disenchantment: Season 1A (4/5)

So, Disenchantment. The latest product from the mind of Matt Groening. A product that's had a very mixed reception from fans and crtiics alike. And having seen season 1A...I really don't get why.

Okay, two clarifications. First, I'm using the term "1A" because the first ten episodes are actually just the first half of a season split in two. As it is, every set of ten episodes will air per year, so we'll get 1B in 2019, 2A in 2020, and so on. Second clarification is that when I say "I really don't get why," I can understand sources of frustration, but I wouldn't have thought those sources would be enough to give it as mixed a reception as it did. But while I do have gripes with the season, there's far more that it does right than it does wrong.

So let's start off with what it does right. First, if we look at Disenchantment in the context of Groening's other shows, it bears far more resemblance to Futurama than The Simpsons. In the context of genre, it's as happy to poke fun at fantasy tropes as Futurama as to sci-fi tropes. Similarly, while The Simpsons' main characters are the titular Simpsons, Futurama's main characters are basically Fry, Leela, and Bender, with everyone else getting secondary status at best. Disenchantment is closer to this, but goes even further, in that Bean is very much THE main character and Elfo and Luci are primarily there to support her. This isn't good or bad in of itself, but it is the paradigm that's being worked in. Like Homer though, Bean's an alcoholic, and like The Simpsons in its heyday, Disenchantment has a lot of heart to it. Bean and Zog are the main beneficiaries of this, in that they appear one way on the surface, but are shown to be quite multi-layered as time goes on. Bean is a boozer and all that, but it hides her feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness from her father. Zog is a loudmouth and a brute at times, but as frayed as his relationship is with his daughter, it's established how much he actually cares, and how much he misses her mother. In essence, they're both kinda like Homer, in that for all their vices, both of them have a lot of heart, even if it doesn't always show.

Further on, there's the likes of Elfo and Luci, who are mostly tertiary to Bean, in that their actions and motives are usually in respect to her own actions and desires rather than being fully independent. For instance, Bender might have been friends with Fry and Leela, but he'd happily do his own thing. In contrast, Elfo and Luci are far less independent. This isn't bad in of itself, but it's kinda noticable, in that if Bean has a choice between right and wrong, Elfo might push her to do the right thing, while Luci, being a literal demon on her shoulder (that everyone calls a "talking cat") will push her to do the wrong thing. So, on one hand, while Elfo and Luci are enjoyable characters, they exist in relation to Bean more than being characters on their own terms a lot of the time. Elfo does kinda have his own arc, what with being infatuated with Bean (an infatuation that comes out of nowhere), but Luci's just kinda 'there' a lot of the time.

Other pros are that Disenchantment is actually quite funny - no idea why people say otherwise, because it's humour in the same vein as Groening's other works. Same sharp wit, both in the dialogue and in the background - there's a lot of written signs for instance that are quite humorous if you take the time to read it. And while worldbuilding isn't really the biggest focus in a fantasy comedy like this, it's at least present, in that I at least have a general sense of the setting's geography and elements of its history. Nothing major, but it's there.

So, in essence, Disenchantment does a lot of things right. As a season 1 opener, it's certainly above season 1 of the Simpsons. Maybe Futurama, maybe not. But it's solid. However, now that I've told you about what it does right, let's discuss what it does wrong.

Basically, that's continuity, in that Disenchantment seems to have both stand-alone episodes but also an overrunning story. Nothing wrong with that. However, it doesn't do it that well. For instance, we learn that Luci's sent to Bean by 'bad people' to get her to do bad things, to send her down a bad path. This is brought up in the first few episodes, but is dropped for most of the season. There's a certain reveal in the penultimate episode, but it doesn't actually mean that much. If Luci's there to manipulate Bean, his level of inferterance varies per episode. A lot of the time he seems content just to sit back and be a jerk. Other times he actively sabotages Bean. While the results are arguably the same, Luci's supposed motivations are rarely touched upon. And if this is him holding back in the understanding that he's ruining Bean's life, he never has that moment of realization, and Elfo calling him out for it doesn't really go anywhere. But more damning is the issue of Bean's mother. There's a good plot twist with the elxiir of life and Zog's true motiavions in seeking it. What doesn't work as well is Bean's mother herself. We know early on that she's supposedly dead, but don't learn how until towards the very end of the season, at which point being dead is reversed, and a whole lot of other plot developments and revelations are stacked upon the viewer. The last episode...okay, it isn't bad, but it's a drastic shift in tone and plot. Up to episode 9, Disenchantment is quite light-hearted, even if it has moments of gravitas. Episode 10 is where it starts treating itself seriously, where plot twists are revealed and fulfilled...that have nothing to do with Luci or the people he serves. Rather, Dagmar's working with yet another group, and it turns out that Bean's "the special." I'm kind of reminded of Red vs. Blue when it shifted to a more serious tone with the Freelancer saga and butchered itself in the process. I don't know if Disenchantment will meet the same fate, but the change in tone is striking. I've heard some say that all of season 1 was meant to be aired in one go, which might have alleviated the shift, but as it stands, if episodes 1-9 feel like a, and episode 10 feels like b, then not only am I left with b after 90% of a, but if I liked a up to this point, what makes you think I'm going to suddenly like b? After watching episode 10, it really casts a shadow on the continuity of everything up to this point and how uneven its level of plot development feels in retrospect.

Still, all this aside, I want to stress that I really liked Disenchantment. While its greater arc is perhaps a bit messy, the individual episodes and the characters within them are good enough that this show is still a blast. All in all, a very solid outing.​

The Norman Conquests: Living Together (3/5)

So, second lot in the Norman Conquests trilogy, and it's kinda mixed. Having seen 'Round and Round the Garden,' it simultaniously benefits from the shared story format, but also loses out. On one hand, because I already know the characters, I can benefit from seeing elements of their personas and lives explored further. On the other hand, it does feel kinda underbaked in areas. I mean, the play could probably stand alone (Round and Round the Garden did), but, yeah. TBH, I'd kind of preferred the option of seeing all the trilogy in chronological order at this point.

So, decent. Not great, but decent.

Arrow: Season 6 (3/5)

If I had to put a divide between the seasons of Arrow, there's a pretty clean divide at this point between the "good/great" seasons (1, 2, 4), and the "okay" seasons (3, 5, 6). So, on one hand, 6 is in the "okay" end of the spectrum. On the other, it's probably the "best okay" season, if not actually "good." In case you're wondering, the ranking currently goes like this:

6) Season 3

5) Season 5

4) Season 6

3) Season 4

2) Season 2

1) Season 1

But that aside, let's talk about Season 6.

​Thing is, Season 6 is a bit weird to talk about. Every season up to this point has had some kind of 'essence' to it, some kind of 'drive.' A lot of it has come down to the type of villain being used. I don't think season 6 is technically the only season that's done this, but for me, there's a pretty distinct first act of the season (everything involving Cayden James), before moving onto the second act (Ricardo Diaz). What's notable with these villains is that they're easily the most down to earth so far in Arrow. Up to this point, even the most 'normal' of the show's villains were still along the lines of Merlyn, Slade, or Prometheus - human, but those with incredible martial arts/bow/sword/whatever skills. In contrast, Cayden James is 'just' a hacker. Ricardo Diaz is 'just' a street thug. Both are dangerous in their own way, but the threats they represent are very different from the main villains up to this point. Season 5 was billed as a "back to basics" season, but honestly, season 6 feels far more deserving of that declaration. Season 5 was back to basics only in as much that Prometheus was a composite of Slade and Merlyn (getting the worst of both worlds IMO), whereas Season 6 feels like something out of early season 1, where Oliver's enemies are street/business criminals. There's even a heavy focus on the law enforcement angle as the city and FBI push for his prosecution. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you. Me personally, I'm kind of neutral. One one hand, Diaz is less memorable than some other villains, but at least he doesn't feel woefully out of place (e.g. Ra's) or a poor attempt at aping better villains (e.g. Prometheus).

We can also talk about the characters. Season 5 had the whole "new Team Arrow" thing going on, which felt contrived and unnecessary. Season 6 sticks with these characters, but they're far more interwoven with the setting. If anything, I'm reminded of Season 3/4, in that people complained about the magic elements in 4. I wasn't so put off, because Season 3 had already jumped the shark there, Season 4 actually made use of it. Similarly, Season 5 spent time introducing the new characters, Season 6 has them at least doing the stuff I watch this show for - action. And to be fair, least in places, the action is pretty good. Camerawork has certainly improved. The whole split-up of the team and the inter-personal conflicts sometimes hit the mark, sometimes don't, but...yeah.

Season 6 is okay. It's got good elements, it's got bad elements, and most of those elements stem from the same concepts. Arrow is long past the glory days of its first two seasons, but it's at least managed to crawl its way up from rock bottom. So...yeah.

The Norman Conquests: Table Manners (4/5)

So, the third installment in the Norman Conquests trilogy, though in theory it's the first. Meh, whatever. As you can tell by the rating, I think it's the best of the bunch, though it's hard to tell whether that's down to me benefitting from the additional context of the other two plays, or if it's simply the best written. Honestly, think it's a bit of both.

But anyway, had fun with this. Going to miss the characters, I can tell you that much.

Big Little Lies
Hmm. Considering this could be summarised as "rich, mostly white people's problems" I am left wondering why I don't hate it from the very core of this hollowed out husk of a soul. Something is being done right to nimbly avoid a deeply-seeded socially- aware writhing wrath here. Perhaps it is the intimate focus on a small group of connected characters portrayed as human as anyone else. Perhaps it is the way it presents itself as a murder mystery where the main enigma is who the victim is. Perhaps it is due to its' desire to be complete and self-contained with the one and only season where everything is done and tied up by the final episode, leaving no room for the inevitable milking that comes with this format. Oh well. Ultimately it succeeded, the sly bastard. Now off to flagellate myself with fair-trade hemp ropes covered in rose thorns and failed government petitions.

Next on list is to try Sharp Objects cause it's Christmas and all that childish joy must be countered with misery and self harm.

This one's odd. Its been gnawing at me.

Travelers: Season 3 (7?/10)

I've been watching Travelers, generally because there isn't something else I'm watching when it has released. I like it, but I'll be the first to admit it isn't really great. It has a couple of actors doing a fairly good job and is above average... but it isn't without dud episodes and it really doesn't get the best out of its time travel sci-fi premise. Seemingly most of the time its more of a character drama set in a time travel story.

But then, season 3 ended... differently. TV seasons and shows don't end the way that Travelers ended season 3. Its satisfying if its over. If 3 seasons are all there will be, then season 3 very definitively ended the series. But strangely enough if there will be another season... they could go anywhere with it. Whole new cast, drop a few keep a few, or just keep the same folks around. It is the furthest away from "writing themselves into a corner" that I've ever seen... yet somehow be a definitive finale if it has to be. Its far from the best written show I've seen, but I'll give lots of credit to the writing team... that ending is very shocking, different, and pretty well crafted. And I'm still not sure if I want there to be more episodes, or not. Its good enough with the ending it has, but on the other hand it hasn't overstayed its welcome just yet.

Oh yeah and I also just watched

Castlevania: Season ? Ok, I'm going to call it season 1. Netflix's 1st "season" of Castlevania wasn't anything more than a prologue to the series and I refuse to go along with their labeling of the new episodes as season 2.

What did I think... middle of the road. 6/10, maybe a little better. It was just so insubstantial its hard for me to have an opinion. They did a lot right, I liked the character interactions and dynamic on the good and bad guy roster. The worldbuilding and lore was genuinely interesting. Good voice acting, score worthy of being in something called Castlevania? there's a lot to like. And yet flaws spoil it. The best example is the stakes. Its constantly said that Drac is going for total genocide... all humans dead. The most dire stakes could be... right? They kept SAYING that, but I never SAW them SHOW that those were the stakes. The "immortal" vampires and zombies and monsters that made up Drac's "army..." They seem to go down pretty easily. Yeah, they'd stomp a human army of the same size; but we don't see "endless hordes" of the undead. We see an army of the dead and some small villages in one country. We don't really know what the scale of the rest of the world is, but on THIS world there are a shitload of humans. I just never got the sense that Drac's army COULD wipe out all human life. Drac personally was a beast of a fighter... but his vampire lieutenants seemed to die easily enough. His two human lieutenants were either all kinds of compromised or actively self-destructive. It just didn't seem to me that anyone but Dracula himself could pose a threat to whole armies. In an animated series like Castlevania it should be easy to "show, don't just tell." But as far as the stakes are concerned, they did lots of telling and precious little showing. And without spoiling it, I don't see anywhere more interesting they could go with the story if there are more episodes to be had. It was fine, I just wanted it to be better.

​​​​​​​​​Falling Skies: Season 4 (3/5)

Season 4 of Falling Skies is where the show jumps the shark.

I could leave it at that, but I feel like extending this metaphor a bit further. So, more specifically, Season 4 jumps the shark literally within the first five minutes of episode 1. From episodes 1-8, it spends its time in the water, as the shark tears out pieces of flesh. Over episodes 8-12, our shark-jumper starts swimming back to shore. And while it does stand on the shore, and look fine at first glance, you can't help but remember that our swimmer was bitten by a shark, and if you look hard enough, is still bleeding.

But metaphors aside, this season...why? Just, why? This season makes every wrong decision it could. Course that's subjective, but given that this season seems to be poorly regarded in general from what I can tell, I don't think I'm in a minority here. While a lot of my gripes with this season are subjective, this season feels like such a misfire I'm surprised that the guns in the show weren't misfiring around the clock to reflect how bone-headed a direction this was. But to articulate said direction, let's look at what this season does wrong.

Well, for starters, it reverses the gains of season 3, where the volm-human forces took out the espheni defence grid, allowing volm reinforcements to come to Earth. We're left with the promise that the tide of the war is going to turn. That the direction since season 1 will continue. That the espheni are now going to have to struggle to keep their ground...none of that happens. Instead, what happens is that the volm bug out for off-screen reasons, and most of what's left of the human race are rounded up into ghetto camps for skitterization. This happens within the first five minutes of the first episode, after which there's a four month gap. This is...wow. Just wow. To convey how jarring this feels, imagine Lord of the Rings. Imagine Two Towers ends the way it does. Now imagine in Return of the King that it's established that Sauron got the ring, conquered Middle-earth, and that the third film is going to focus on a resistance movement to the Dark Lord. None of this is outside the realm of possibility, but from a storytelling perspective it's jarring. It's even more jarring here, because it makes little sense for the espheni to only start skitterization now, and considering that the espheni are pretty incompetent, and are acknowledged as being incompetent in-universe, this move is just..,.huh? Oh, and Charleston and its characters? Gone. Skitter Rebellion? Never mentioned (though in fairness it was being sidelined in season 3 as well). I kind of get the sense that maybe the writers wanted a back to basics approach, to rekindle a feeling similar to season 1. Maybe they didn't have the budget for more volm. Whatever the case, it doesn't work. You can't go back to basics in your penultimate season, and if you wrote yourself into a corner in season 3, that's on you. And even if this was back to basics, it still doesn't work, because season 1 featured the 2nd Mass constantly on the move. In contrast, season 4 spends most of its time in effectively the one location. Also, for all its faults, season 1 did establish a sense of dread and mystery with the invaders - we never see an actual espheni until towards the end. Season 4 can't rely on mystery, because a lot of the mystery has been revealed.

Carrying on in the realm of bone-headed decisions, let's look at Chinatown. Y'know, Lexi's colony where humans live in peace and aren't bothered by the espheni, and we get insufferable pseudo hippies combined with Eastern mysticism? I could live with that...maybe. What's harder to stomach is Lourdes. Lourdes, who over the course of the first three seasons developed as a character from the starry-eyed Catholic girl to...well, someone better. Lourdes, who ended the prior season freed from espheni control, leaving the viewer wondering how people will treat her for that, and how she'll move forward. Lourdes, who come season 4, is now a sycophant for Lexi, and who's permanantly in "hippy mode.' I...I don't...I can't...sorry, I want to know what the hell the writers were thinking. Without hyperbole, Lourdes has got to be one of the worst examples of character assassination I've ever seen in fiction. Again, none of this is breaking the rules of the setting. Again, Lourdes was never my favourite character in the world, but she at least developed over time, and had the potential for a compelling arc in season 4. Of the two Falling Skies entries I've got on ff.net, she's the protagonist of one of them for a reason. But this season just throws it all away. Even her death at the hands of Lexi is more to serve Lexi's arc. And while the season wants me to feel sorry for Lourdes given its use of music and whatnot, at this point, I'm past caring, because you've spent numerous episodes up to this point going out of your way to make me hate her. So, well done Falling Skies. Well done.

Y'know, I could live with one ham-fisted allagory. But Falling Skies decides that it's time we have Nazi equivalents. Basically the espheni get their own Hitler Youth, to brainwash kids into thinking that they're there for the betterment of mankind. Kids wear Youth-esque uniforms, get Youth-esque instruction, and get Youth-esque sublety. As in, none at all. This is so ham-fisted that the Nazis are even used in-universe as a point of comparison. To which I say...no. Just no. If this was in season 1 or even 2 I could buy it, but for the espheni to try this now? When they've already got most of the human race in camps? It feels unnecessary in-universe, and from a writing perspective, it lacks any kind of subtlety. Even the show seems to realize this as the not!Nazi plot is dropped fairly quickly, though comes back later, and is still cringeworthy. There's a girl one of the Masons meets who befriends him (and kisses him in the first episode they meet), only to get brainwashed off-screen, and gets to die off-screen as well. I can't even remember her name. But since this is the season where Lourdes goes from "sweet doctor Catholic girl" to "sycophantic, annoying space hippie," maybe expecting good deaths is too much to ask for. Thing is, Falling Skies has already done the plot point of human collaborators in season 1, and it did it better. And it did it without Nazi allagory. Newsflash - using Nazis or Nazi stand-ins is a low hanging fruit, and you're not clever for using them, unless you make it subtle. Y'know, like Harry Potter did, and even then the allagory was clear.

Is that all? Oh no. Not yet. Y'see, Lexi is now pretty much this setting's Sarah Kerrigan in that she's a human-zerg (sorry, espheni) who goes into a chrysalis (sorry, coccoon), who can use psychic (sorry, gravitic) powers, and is their own Queen of Blades. Or something. Like, powerful enough to destroy mechs with lightning, or change the weather, or...whatever. Y'know, Falling Skies was never exactly hard sci-fi per se, but it was at least down to earth. Even in season 3, with the volm and super-cannons, it still kept that feeling to an extent. But here, we get Lexi. Here, we get espheni conversing over the "Shadow Plane" (which conveniently looks like Hell), with a monk and all that. Just...no. No. No. No! Lexi isn't interesting as a character. Her arc isn't interesting. Her powers feel out of place. I doubt they were actually copying StarCraft in this, but Kerrigan succeeds as a character in all the ways Lexi fails as one.

Oh, and did I mention that the plot point of season 4 is practically the same as season 3? As in, they need to take out an espheni power core. Again. Only this time it's on the moon, because of course it is. Y'know, at least by this point the season had a clear goal, but while that did pick up the season a bit for me, it was too little, too late, and above all, too similar to what had come before. So unlike season 3, when the power device is destroyed, I was past caring. Oh, and after that, when Tom Mason is in a fancy room in space, and the show gets delusions of being 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's showing a misunderstanding of why the sterile room worked in 2001 (both the book and film), and arguably a misunderstanding of its own setting. When this show began, it was a down to earth alien invasion story. If it was taking reference from anything, it was War of the Worlds, and even that didn't go beyond superficial similarities. Now, it's aping space opera and high concept sci-fi. And while a change of tone isn't a bad thing in of itself, season 4 screws up the transition so much that when the show ended, I was just kinda glad, because I could devote my remaining time to watching the rest of Nomad of Nowhere (more on that later).

Oh, and Pope's still an asshole. Sorta. The show can't seem to decide what to do with him. Just FYI.

So, that's Falling Skies for you, or rather, season 4. In terms of the actual craft of filmaking, it's fine. Kinda. But in terms of story and worldbuilding, it's just one bad decision after another. If I had to rank the seasons, it would go 2>3>1>4. So if anything, we've got another bell curve. Maybe season 5 will salvage things, but I don't have high hopes at this point. Basically, when people said Falling Skies lost its way, while I don't agree that the losing began in season 2 or 3, the statement itself? Now, I agree with it. :(

Nomad of Nowhere: Season 1 (3/5)

Nomad of Nowhere is something that does my cold, withered heart good...and therefore, i write this thinking that it's somewhat unlikely we'll get a second season, or even if we do, it'll be overshadowed by RT's other efforts. Because when I look at those other efforts...Red vs. Blue, I stopped caring about in season 10 for somewhat obvious reasons. I gave RWBY a try, didn't take. Gen:lock looks like something between "meh" and "bloody hell this is stupid." Every other RT production I cared about (e.g. PANICS) has long since concluded. Obviously RT is free to take the direction it wants, but I'm not under any obligation to follow them.

Which leaves us with Nomad of Nowhere, a charming 12 episode season that's basically weird west (not wild west, weird west) that's gone overshadowed by its larger offerrings. And while this season isn't perfect, it's easily the most interesting thing that's come out of Rooster Teeth for me since season 6 of Red vs. Blue. A.k.a. the best season, before the show started its decline to the drek that was Freelancer. And while some have said that RvB has recovered itself since then, I don't really care. But as for NoN...

...okay, so like I said, it isn't perfect. Thing is, NoN is weird west, but that's not the whole story. The land of Nowhere is certainly inspired by the American West, but it freely combines these tropes with more medieval ones - governors rule the land, but they answer to a king. The Nomad looks like a cowboy, but his prior companion was a witch. It's about 90% Western, 10% traditional fantasy. And while I'm not sure I feel about it, the worldbuilding feels a bit too vague for its own good at times. Like, there's hints of how this world operates, but it could have benefitted from more. Arguably this means that the worldbuilding is well done, in that I want to know more, but apart from that...

Also the characters. They range from "fine" to "decent." Problem is, of the main three characters (Toth, the Nomad, and Skout), Toth is the weak link. She's your usual "all tough on the outside, soft spot on the inside" character. Because she's basically constantly angry, it's hard to relate to her. Similarly, the Nomad is kind of a cipher, given that he's a mute. Like, he has a personality, but by nature that personality isn't going to shine as bright as someone who can speak. And Skout...Skout's adorable okay? Skout is the character I can relate to the most, but that's still 1/3. If anything, the background characters are more engaging than some of the protagonists at times, such as Don Paragon. Yeah, he's a jerk, but he's an entertaining jerk, whereas someone like Toth isn't entertaining when she's being a jerk. Also, minor point, but the season does undergo a shift in tone towards the end (kind of like Disenchantment), as we get a bit more serious, and way, WAY more dark.

Because NoN isn't a so-called "proper watch" (having it on while I'm doing other things), I wonder if the lack of worldbuilding could be attributed to this. Still, while not perfect, I'd love to see more of this. The world is enticing. The show's aesthetic, and characters (Toth aside) are charming. And again, it's nice to have an RT product I can get behind again. That may not be the best reason to support NoN, but damn it, it's still one of them.

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 1 (3/5)

This show (or at least the season) is weird.

Reading that, you may be thinking "it's Voltron, of course it's weird." To which I say "not that kind of weird." Though of course, when it comes to the content of the show, it does have some trippy stuff, including, but not limited to, the ability of everyone to speak English with no explanation, the melding of magic and technology, and of course, the fact that this is a show where five space lions merge together to form a giant space samurai thing. I mean, the only Voltron show I saw prior to this was a few episodes of The Third Dimension (which I barely remember apart from thinking "meh"), but when someone says "Voltron," chances are you're going to have at least heard of it, and have at least the most basic concept of it (lions, Voltron, space, fight stuff). No. What makes this show weird, is that while all those elements are there, the show's actually quite sparing of them. As in, like, it has the brand recognition of Voltron, but seems to have those elements as a matter of courtesy rather than enthusiasm for them. Maybe the other Voltron shows were like this, but regardless, hopefully over the course of this ramble, you'll see what I'm getting at.

First thing to note is that the show's pretty funny. Like, the stakes are big (band of heroes have to defeat Zarkon and his empire that's stood for 10,000 years), but there's constant banter between the characters. Each of them mostly feel distinct, though the style of dialogue is the same for each, so any line could basically be stated by any character. In other words, while the characters all have their core personality trait, it's never the be all and end all of said personalities. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is something I'll leave up to you. I can't compare this to other Voltron shows, but I can compare it to something like Power Rangers, and the difference is like night and day. Even when Power Rangers was at its best as far as writing went (see RPM), Legendary Defender still does a better job. It's a kid's show, but never as an adult did I feel like it was 'dumbed down' in terms of dialogue or character. Still, of the lion pilots, some get far more development than others.

What's also weird is that this season is on a pretty slow burn when you get down to it, which isn't something I'd expect. Like, for about two thirds of the season, the characters are effectively all in the one place, and it isn't towards the end that they actually set out to fight Zarkon. Like, I'm not complaining, but I can't help but imagine younger viewers criticizing the season for being slow. By extension, for a show named Voltron, we don't actually see that much of the giant in question. And given how fights go, given how each individual lion can easily match the majority of Zarkon's forces by itself, I'm left to ask whether it would be a sounder strategy for the paladins to stay separate. This might be thinking too much into things, but it's a level of intelligence that the cartoon already possesses. When they finally start taking the fight to Zarkon (a move that takes almost the entire season), it's pointed out that they should start with lightly defended targets rather than going straight for his base of operations...which circumstance forces them to do, anyway, but still, it's the thought that counts.

All this aside, taking the cartoon in of itself, it's...it's fine. It's enjoyable. It's entertaining. Still, it sticks in average territory, because it feels like it's missing...something. I dunno. It could be because it feels like the show wants to be one thing, but is obliged to keep certain elements out of brand recognition, but I could be way off the mark, because again, I have precious little prior Voltron stuff to compare this to. Still, it was entertaining, so, um, yeah.

Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Netflix show based on a series of Childrens/Young Adult novels written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym Lemony Snickett, who's a character in the story. There was another adaptation in the early 00s, with Emily Browning and Jim Carrey, but I haven't seen it so I can't compare them. In any case,Series of Unfortunate Events is the story of three orphaned siblings running away from from an evil count and his henchmen and uncovering a secret society that their parents were involved in. The show's obviously mostly made for children and teens but watching it as an adult, I still found it more than enjoyable. It's got a very likeable style to it, very gothic and anachronistic, making it look like the sort of thing Tim Burton would be making if he hadn't lost most of his talent somewhere in the early 10s. And, hell, Count Olaf's henchmen seem like something right out of a Jean Pierre Jeunet movie. The show has a very witty sense of humor most of the time, certainly much better than you'd expect from a kids show, and goes some relatively dark places. The plotline itself isn't too bad either, takes some time to pick up but by the last season I was pretty invested in it. It's all very silly, but doubtlessly entertaining.

PsychedelicDiamond:
There was another adaptation in the early 00s, with Emily Browning and Jim Carrey, but I haven't seen it so I can't compare them.

Basically a case of a decent movie that's a poor adaptation.

Falling Skies: Season 5 (3/5)

Well at the very least, this season is an improvement over the previous one. Granted, with season 4, that's a pretty low bar, and season 5 hardly soars above it. If I had to rank the seasons now, it would go 2>3>1>5>4. With only 40% of your seasons being "good," that's not exactly a stellar record. Which is a shame, not only for this season, but this show as a whole.

Thing is, the season actually starts off pretty strong. I've mentioned previously that season 1 felt like season 2 given the amount and type of backstory it had to cover, and that season 4 felt redundant. Early on, I felt ready to say that if Falling Skies was obliged to have five seasons, then make season 1 season 2, cut out the original season 4, and season 5 could follow on from the original season 3. And certainly, given the overall trajectory of season 5, that could work for the most part. And like I said, the season starts strong. With the loss of their moonbase, the espheni are robbed of their high-end technology and basically have to rely on skitters and drones to do their fighting for them. Like, if this was a match of StarCraft, basically imagine the espheni being the zerg, losing all their structures but the spawning pool, and in a bid to stay in the game, mass spawn zerglings. That's pretty much what's going on, and as the protagonists have to deal with hordes of skitters/drones attacking their fortified position, it's pretty fun to watch. We get a look at mass warfare, and it makes sense within the context of the setting. We also, finally, get something beyond lip service of other militias, with the plan being to push forward on all fronts, to beat the espheni while they're down. So, alright then, I think to myself. This could be pretty good.

Alas, this is Falling Skies. And true to Falling Skies, we again have to go with a promising idea that's brought down by its execution. Y'see, Falling Skies reminds us that Pope's a dick. Yes, I know a lot of people like Pope, but no, he's a dick, and after losing Karen and blaming Tom, he becomes such an asshole that he forms his own bunch of assholes, kidnaps Hal, and decides to leave, forcing the group to split their attention between moving on the espheni base at Washington, and dealing with Pope. It's also at this point that the season loses a lot of its lustre. I mean, you can tell by this review, and the reviews I've done of past seasons, that I've never been fond of Pope's character, but at this point in time, human vs. human conflict doesn't carry the weight it once did in prior seasons. The stuff after this point isn't too bad, but it feels so...unnecessary. It feels unnecessary for the Ben-Maggie-Hal love triangle to be replaced by a Hal-Maggie-some girl love triangle. It feels so unnecessary to be wasting our time with Pope, it feels unnecessary to have the whole dornia sub-plot as well. Thing is, I actually like the idea of the dornia - first race the espheni skitterized, the last dornia left seeking vengeance. However, similar to season 4, we get far too much into mysticism for my liking, with the dornia existing on a different plane of reality or something...despite having a physical ship. I'm left to ask if the dornia are so different from other species in this regard how the espheni even skitterized them in the first place. Also, the whole "kill the queen and the race dies" is a cliche - even more than other cliches, because while taking out the hivemind can usually incapacitate 'bug species', it's never to the extent of "kill the queen and the whole race dies." I've no idea how this kill switch the dornia give Tom even works biologically, but, I dunno, Clarke's Third Law.

Moving on, as the season loses its punch, as all militias converge on Washington (because of course the queen's going to touch down there), there is a fairly interesting diversion where the characters stop off at an Army base where the captain in charge seems more intent in apprehending collaberators than fighting the espheni directly. Now, you can guess before the episode's end that she's an espheni plant, and yes, you'd be correct. Still, the whole sense of paranoia within the base is actually well done, how normal people can be swept up in said paranoia. Basically, Falling Skies does in two episodes what all of season 4 tried to with its pseudo-Nazi sub-plot and failed at (I like to think the whole collaborator thing is kind of a shot at the actual collaborators who thought "hey, let's imitate the Hitler Youth"). You can choose whether you want it to be an allagory for anything, but the difference between good and bad allagory is that good allagory can survive on its own without having to know about the frame of reference. So, the two parter base episode works. That said, it's effectively a repeat of Charleston, and not done as well.

What also doesn't work as well is the whole "Pope's gone savage" thing (in what feels like a rip-off from The Walking Dead), and his attack on the base, and supposed death off-screen.

So, assault on Washington comes. Espheni have bunkered in. Clearly this is what the entire series has been building towards. They're gonna go all out. They're...going to have the battle off-screen as a small group infiltrates Washington to take out the queen, making their way through an espheni hive, because fuck it, let's just rip off Aliens. Similar to Aliens, Tom gets a one on one confrontation with the queen. Unlike Aliens, this entire sequence is pretty stupid, because:

a) The queen knows about the dornia biological agent, but doesn't destroy it, and leaves it in arm's reach of Tom.

b) The queen reveals that Earth is the only inhabitable planet in the galaxy and is of immense strategic importance (I'll let you process why this is a stupid idea)

c) The queen reveals that her daughter came to Earth before, but the Nazca killed her, causing the queen to swear vengeance and come back 1000s of years later. I really dislike this idea - really, REALLY dislike it. There was nothing to suggest there was anything special about Earth up to this point. There was nothing all that special about humanity bar the whole "humans don't give up thing." But no. We've got to force in a reference to the Nazca lines. And we've got to have Tom kill the queen while she's sucking the blood out of him, causing every espheni and skitter to explode, because hey, genocide is fun. Also, not a single character even questions the ethics of this - the action's understandable. The lack of any consideration? Not so much.

But it's not over, because Anne's dead, forcing Tom to take her to the dornia. Dornia isn't exactly forthcoming, allowing for a final confrontation between Tom and a nearly dead Pope (who's still alive). Now, I'm not a fan of Pope, but at the least, the moment is touching. He sees that Anne's dead, and comments that he thought Tom going through what he did would have brought him joy, but it hasn't. Pope dies, as the two men finally get a wary understanding of each other. They've both lost. They've both loved. They both saw the end of the war. "Huh," I think. "That's a pretty nice moment."

Of course, Anne survives, which negates this entire sequence and the impact of Pope's character arc. I...okay, on a personal level, what they did to Lourdes in season 4 irritates me more, but from a writing perspective, this is terrible. You set up an arc for Pope, complete the arc, then negate the arc five minutes later. For those who like Pope, it's not hard to see why this irritates them, why Pope's entire arc (or lack of it) in season 5 does. And that would be bad enough, but it's at this point that Falling Skies remembers that it's got the idea that it's telling the story of the Second American Revolution (I've already explained why this analogy doesn't make sense). So, the show seems to want to have it two ways, as in the same speech, Tom seems to try and find a middle ground between "America, fuck yeah!" and "we're all human, and once we lived in a world without nations, so maybe we can do better." This...really doesn't work. Independence Day got away with it, but at this point...no. Just no.

So that's Falling Skies for you, both this season, and the series. Honestly, I'm disappointed. There were certainly good seasons, and good moments in the average ones. I can understand the criticisms of some as to how it changed, as the mythology was built up, even if I don't necessarily share them (apart from the revelations at the end). But at the end of the day, this entire series screams wasted potential. "Aliens invade Earth" is hardly an original plot point, but if you're given five seasons to flesh that plot point out, a few ideas might be to not waste an entire season spinning your wheels, be smarter with your worldbuilding, get some consequences for the main characters, and FFS, choose a theme and stick with it. Otherwise you get, well, this.

Shame. :(

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2 (3/5)

So, I saw season 2 of VLD. And...really, what do I have to talk about?

Okay, in fairness, I should emphasise that like a lot of what I watch, this is a case of me watching while also working, that VLD was secondary to The Walking Dead, and I was watching it at a time where I've been routinely distracted by other matters. But that can only go so far, because watching Season 6 of TWD, even sharing all the above considerations bar the secondary status, I've still got plenty to talk about in regards to that. But here...well, what do I say? Pretty much everything I said in my review of season 1 could be applied here. On the one hand, the season remains strong in characterization and character interaction, in that each character feels unique, and the dialogue is crisp and snappy - it's never talking down to me the way a cartoon designed exclusively for children might. On the other hand, the season shares the same issue for me in that I've really got no sense of place or worldbuilding. Again, when you're up against a foe that apparently rules multiple galaxies for 10,000 years, I don't care how powerful your flying robot is, logistics dictates that you're boned.

That said, there's still a key difference between this season and the last...maybe. Dunno if "key difference" is the best term to use, but I mentioned last time that season 1 felt like it was on a slow burn. That the paladins were spending the bulk of the season preparing to take on the galra, only for circumstance to dictate that they go all-in at the very end. In contrast, season 2 feels much faster in terms of plot progression and its pacing. Like, two seasons in, and we're conducting an operation at the very end that will supposedly put an end to Zarkon. I'm not sure how I feel about this per se - at the least, I can't really state whether this season is better or worse than the previous one. Still, I'm left to ask (again) why this series is so beloved. Like, I'm not talking Adventure Time levels of dissonance, where despite praise heaped from all directions I found the first two seasons to be bereft of any real value), but at the end of the day, VLD is a series about magical lions forming up to form a giant space guy that destroys aliens with a giant sword. For all the talk of VLD having deep themes, dealing with issues such as PTSD and abuse, I'm left to go, "huh?" Newsflash - alluding to themes isn't the same thing as engaging in themes, and I'd have to squint pretty hard to even see those allusions. This isn't a mark against the show itself - a work of fiction is under no obligation to engage in heavy subjects - but when you're constantly being told how great something is, and find it to be simply average...well, the dissonance is noticeable.

Anyway, that's it. I watched the first two seasons on a borrowed DVD, so until I renew my Netflix subscription (which won't be happening for quite awhile), I won't be able to talk more. Overall, I can say that VLD has been like popcorn - tasty while being consumed, but quite forgettable.

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