Category Archives: t.v.

Fan Expo 2016 Highlights

542-fan_expo_shieldFan Expo is a great comic book and science fiction convention that happens the last weekend of summer every year in Toronto. It is always a lot of fun dressing up in cosplay outfits, attending panels, meeting celebrities, getting comics autographed, and buying some new collectibles. Here are some the highlights from last weekend’s event.

ninth-doctor

This is my family in  our Doctor Who cosplay finest. I am dressed up as the 9th Doctor, my son is The Empty Child, and my daughter is a gender-bent version of the 11th Doctor. Thanks to the Doctor Who Society for letting us pose with a Dalek!

alex-kingston

We attended the Alex Kingston panel. She plays River Song on Doctor Who and was an absolute pleasure to watch. She told some great stories and interacted with the crowd in personal ways.

2nd-doctor

Normally I just go for one day, but this year I bought a deluxe weekend pass and attended all four days. That meant four different costumes. Here is my take on the 2nd Doctor. One person recognized me and commented on my costume. That’s a cosplay win! Although, I think I can improve on this one in the future.

autographs

Klaus Janson autographed a Star Trek comic for me and Clay Mann autographed my TPB of Lady Bullesye from Daredevil.

tim-sale-autograph

Daredevil Yellow is one of my all-time favourite books. And I got Tim Sale to autograph it. Amazing!

daredevil-panel

Speaking of Daredevil. This panel with the actors who play Daredevil and Foggy in the television series was incredible. It was moderated by Joe Quesada as well.

daleks-and-whovians

Here we are again in Doctor Who cosplay. This time I am the 10th Doctor and my kids are Rory and Amy Pond. Next time, I shall have to try cosplaying the 11th Doctor for a more cohesive family cosplay. Still, I love this shot!

dw-and-tmnt

I couldn’t resist getting my picture with my favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle either.

stan-lee

Stan Lee was incredible. He was warm-hearted and hilarious. Just as I would have thought. I am so glad I got to see him in his last round of conventions.

tardis-10-and-companions

Here we are again. Our Tardis seems to have shrunk.

william-shatner

I am glad I got to see the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, as well. It was a nice way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.

spock

Of course, I had to dress for the occasion.

Live long and prosper!

That’s the highlights of this year’s Fan Expo. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek

star-trek-50-1966-2016

50 years ago today, on this very date, September 8th, the world was changed by a little television show called Star Trek.

I have fond memories of the show even though I wasn’t alive when it premiered on that Thursday night back in 1966. My father and I used to watch the show together in the 1980s. I loved every minute of it. The interaction between the three main characters, Captain Kirk, Spock, and Bones was something magical. The stories were always well done and perfect family-time viewing as each episode was basically a morality tale.

For my eighth grade graduation present, I asked for a very expensive model from the Franklin Mint. My parents couldn’t afford it so I chipped in with allowance and birthday money to pay for half of it.

ncc-1701

A few years ago, I bought the digitally remastered DVD collection of the original series. They look fantastic and don’t distract at all from the original versions.

star-trek-dvd-series

I used to play this trivia board game with my dad. He was the only die-hard Trekkie in my circle of family and friends that I could actually play it with. I miss him a lot and wish he was still here to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek with me.

star-trek-the-game

He bought this really cool 3D Chess set. It’s incredibly difficult to play. Chess is hard enough without multiple levels to think about, plan, and defend.

star-trek-3d-chess

We also used to read every Star Trek adventure we could get our hands on. We read tons of the novels and I still have a few of them. We used to go to some flea markets back in the day and I discovered old comics. Gold Key published Star Trek and I bought all that I could afford.

star-trek-gold-key

I collected the Marvel series that ran for two years starting in 1979. I am only missing the last three issues.

star-trek-marvel

DC picked up the rights to Star Trek and published two volumes of the original series.

star-trek-comics

DC comics also published a mini-series of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which lead to a monthly title. I collected them all.

sttng-comics

I celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek this past weekend by attending Fan Expo in Toronto. I dressed for the occasion as well.

spock

I even got one of my comics signed by the one and only Klaus Janson.

klaus-janson-st-autograph

And I saw the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner.

william-shatner

I have written here about my disappointment with the latest film franchise and how it has failed to measure up to, or capture the magic and essence of Star Trek. It is possible that the film-makers listened to die hard Trekkies such as myself, because Star Trek: Beyond is the best film they have produced in the new rebooted universe.

netflix

Netflix has every incarnation of Star Trek right now to help celebrate this momentous occasion. You can stream all of the episodes from every series, including the rarely seen animated version.

And a new TV show is coming this fall. I can’t wait!

How are you celebrating Star Trek 50?

Please let me know via the comments or social media.

Smallville Season 11: Chaos

Smallville Season 11Smallville was a television series that ran for ten seasons and revolved around a young Clark Kent before he became Superman. I own every single season on DVD and really enjoyed watching it.

I had no idea that the story continued in the medium of comics. My brother surprised me with the first 5 issues of Smallville: Chaos since he knew I liked the TV show.

It turns out though, that there are many issues of the comic before this mini-series. I am interested in reading those too since this story characters from the DCU that never appeared on the TV series. I’d like to see how they came to be in the story.

I also like how Watchtower has expanded. It feels like it won’t be long till the have the space station as seen in the Justice League animated series. It really feels like this comic was trying to seamlessly bring to be part of that continuity.

I think I would have gotten more out of this story if I had read the title from the very beginning. That being said, just like the regular Superman title, you can jump in anywhere and still enjoy the story.

The fifth issue of this series was a stand-alone story focusing on Zatanna and Constantine, just to show you how much of a collaborative title this is. The show was moving that way too. I would have loved to have seen Batman and Wonder Woman in it like they have been in this comic book series.

My List of 2015 Reads – a detailed personal reading log

Life on Mars . . . Perfect Television

Life_On_MarsLife on Mars is a brilliant television series that I have only just discovered.

It centres around the character of Sam Tyler, a police officer played by John Simm. In the pilot episode, he gets hit by a car and wakes up thirty years in the past.

He has some visions and hears things that lead him to believe that he is actually in a coma. But try as he might, he can’t get out of his new reality, living as a detective inspector in 1973.

The show completely captured my attention and I worked through all of the episodes very quickly. I had no idea that the show was only on the air for two seasons. As I worked my way towards the end of the second series, it became clear that the show was wrapping up. I didn’t want it to. I had been enjoying it so much and was actually looking forward to more episodes.

The final episode of this series wrapped everything up beautifully. I love a great story and I especially love closure when it comes to television series.

There was an American remake of this series, which absolutely baffles me. I have never seen it, nor do I have any desire too. British television is great. I couldn’t imagine an American version of Doctor Who. It just doesn’t make sense. So , go watch the original and be amazed.

Writing by The Seat of Your Pants Can Work Wonders

There are two trains of thought when it comes to writing – Planning and Pantsing. The former involves writing outlines and breaking down all the elements of a story before putting pen to paper to begin the first draft. The latter involves flying by the seat of your pants and making things up as you go along.

Stephen King is a big proponent of the pantsing method. He likes to discover his stories like they were artifacts.

In his book On Writing, he states, “…knowing the story wasn’t necessary for me to begin work. I had located the fossil. The rest, I knew, would consist of careful excavation.”

I love to write this way too. I have an idea of where I want to go but I never have the ending written in stone. I discover it along the way.

The best advertisement for pantsing that I can think of is Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is quite simply brilliant television. I just finished watching the final episode and the bonus content from the DVD.

Creator, writer, director, and show runner, Vince Gilligan explains how he is a big proponent for pantsing and how it paid off in the final scene of his epic series.

Warning: Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen this series, do yourself a favour and buy the DVDs, rent  or borrow them from your local library. You’ll be glad you did. This is compelling television that is so well-written, performed, and produced that you will be glued to your television.

I cut up this “Making Of” featurette from the DVD just to show you how the creator of Breaking Bad is a pantser and how this method of writing is just as, if not more, effective as planning and outlining.

Enjoy and happy writing!

Comic Book Television: Phase 3

It’s so refreshing to see comic book inspired television hitting the airwaves with quality writing and production.

We are now in a third phase of this trend, and I really hope that this one proves to be more effective than the last one.

No Ordinary Family was a great show that grounded superheroes in a family setting.

The Cape was a comic book brought to life.

These two shows were really well done but never managed to find a big enough audience to stay on the air.

I hope these next three shows stick around for a while.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picks up right where The Avengers left off. Agent Coulson is back from the dead and heading up a division. He was such a beloved character in the movies. That’s why it’s nice to see him on the small screen every week. The show has already had two other movie actors appearing in cameo roles. Samuel Jackson even showed up as Nick Fury. Very cool stuff!

The Tomorrow People are capable of telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. They refer to their power as the 3-Ts. The show is similar in tone to The X-men comic since people fear this new evolution of the human species. I like how the mutants in this series all have the same powers. The lead character seems to be the most powerful of them all, and he only just discovered this ability.

The show is smart, well-paced, and has a lot of potential. I look forward to a great season.

Arrow is now in its second season and never once has his character been referred to as Green Arrow. He is referred to as The Hood in the series, but in the last episode, he expressed dissatisfaction with that name. I really wanted someone to call him Green Arrow but it never happened.

Even cooler, in that same episode, there was a Flash reference. I can’t wait for the reboot of this series, especially if Greg Berlanti has anything to do with it. He executive produces both Arrow and The Tomorrow People and has writing credits on both of them. He also created my all-time favourite show, Everwood. 

The Flash only survived one season in its first go-round on television. This was during Phase 2 of Comic Book Television. I really enjoyed that program too.

I will have to write about the other two phases of comic book television a little bit later. I have always loved this genre of show. I hope this new phase lasts a long time. 

Once Upon a Time VS Fables

I just finished watching Season One of Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time Season One

I really had no interest in watching the show, and it’s not because I’m not interested in fairy tales. In fact, just the opposite. I love the idea of exploring these characters within a modern world and I love the themes within the stories.

The reason that I never gave this show a chance before now is that I was loyal to the a different series.

Fables comic book series

Fables is an award-winning comic book series that has captured my attention ever since I got wind of it. I have read all of the issues and am currently working my way through some of the spin-offs.

The series has all of the storybook characters we know and love together in the modern world. However, the rest of society has no idea that these characters are indeed real.

So, when I heard that a television series was being developed around the same premise, I had no interest in watching it. The comics had done such a great job with this story. I would have loved to have seen an adaptation of this story on my television screen, but I didn’t want to see another take on it.

I’m glad I gave Once Upon a Time a chance, though. It is not the same story, but it is still a good one. In this version, the storybook characters are sent to a land that has no magic. They are banished there with no memory of their past and are torn apart from their families and loved ones.

I love the fact that this season ended on a happy note. It was a fairy tale unto itself. It was well done with great performances. Rumplestitskin is absolutely brilliant.

Once Upon a Time VS Fables

Why choose? They are both great.

Life Unexpected (Great Television)

I always borrow DVDs from the library and I’d seen this one on the shelf several times. I had no idea what the show was about, simply because of the way the library had packaged the DVD set, but something about it called to me. I just didn’t have the time to watch it until this summer. But I am so glad I did.

Life Unexpected was a pleasant surprise for me. It was brilliantly written and I fell in love with the characters, especially the main character, Lux Cassidy.

Britt Robertson plays 15 year old Lux, and she unexpectedly shows up at her father’s one day. He had no idea that he even had a daughter. Of course, she wasn’t planning on sticking around. She just wanted his signature so she could apply for emancipation and move out of foster care.

Things didn’t go as expected for Lux either. She ended up getting released into the care of her birth parents. One of whom was a hopeless bachelor, and the other a career-driven loner of sorts. They hadn’t seen each other since the winter formal in high school when Lux was accidentally conceived. Her mother gave her up for adoption but due to a lot of different circumstances, she never did find a good home. The writing makes this all come alive, even though it may sound a little complicated.

It’s a great series, with wonderful writing and brilliant chemistry between the actors. I really was quite invested in the show and am sad now that I’ve worked my way through all 26 episodes and the bonus features as well.

As I watched the DVD, I didn’t realize that this six disc set encompassed the entire series. Life Unexpected originally aired in 2010 and ran for two seasons on the CW Network and I am so thankful that the series finale was able to wrap up the major story lines and give a sense of closure to the whole show. It makes this DVD collection all the more valuable to me. I want to buy it now.

Arctic Air Soars

I like uniquely Canadian television and that is precisely the reason that I have been enjoying Arctic Air.

Arctic Air is an ensemble drama that can be seen Tuesdays at 9:00 on CBC. The show is set in Northern Canada and revolves around a small airline that has outdated planes. The pilots must navigate through the tough weather, small dirt runways, and small communities.

It is nice to see First Nation characters on prime time television. Adam Beach plays Bobby Martin, and at first, he’s not a very likable character. He seems to be more concerned about making money than having any connection to his hometown or to his people. (Spoiler Alert)

Bobby comes back to negotiate a mining deal with a local land owner. Just when it looks like he is about to sell out his friend, he has a change of heart and does the right thing. When he finds out that the airline that his now deceased father had founded is in a bit of financial difficulty, Bobby decides to stay and help out the struggling airline.

I’ve really been enjoying the show. The pilot episode didn’t completely blow me away. It had a few lines of contrived dialogue but it did help set up the theme and mood of the series. The second episode is where things really started to gel and last week’s episode was full of suspense and great drama.

It’s rare that we get such uniquely Canadian programming on our televisions. I think we need to support shows like this; shows that put First Nation peoples in the spotlight, shows that tell our stories and are set in our country.

If you have ever had to travel to Northern Canada, this series will bring back memories of riding in those small charter planes. If you haven’t, you will get a nice glimpse of what it’s like to live in a remote area of the North.

I hope you give this series a chance. The fourth episode airs tomorrow night at 9:00 on CBC. You can also catch full episodes online at CBC.ca.

Enjoy!

Not Impressed with Digital TV

TV signals switched from analog to digital last week.

I thought I was prepared. I bought an antenna capable of picking up both analog and digital signals and have been using it all summer long.

It turns out that older televisions, even when equipped with a digital antenna, cannot process a digital signal.

So I had to buy one of these.

This RCA digital convertor box was nearly $80.00 after all was said and done.

How does this little thing possible cost that much?

And why did they charge me $7.80 for an environmental fee?

TV used to be free.

So my older model of television now gets digital signals and guess what?

It’s not all that great!

Before the digital switch-over I was able to receive about seven stations. Although, I mostly relied on three; TVO, CBC, and A-channel.

When I first turned on my digital box, TVO wouldn’t tune in. It was like watching a scratched DVD. The picture and audio jumped and made the program literally unwatchable. A-channel was gone and instead replaced with CTV-2. And CBC completely disappeared.

CBC is the national public broadcaster in Canada. I knew that the network wouldn’t be making the switch to digital in my area. So I was really happy to hear that they would continue to broadcast their signal over the analog airwaves.
The only problem is that my brand new digital convertor, doesn’t pick up analog signals. 
ARGHHHHH!
I also still need to use this RF convertor box since my new RCA digital convertor does not have an input for my DVD player. 
So I have a digital antenna and a DVD player hooked up to this little box simply because my TV doesn’t have the yellow, red, and white video and audio connections. 
I then have this RF convertor plugged into my new digital convertor which is then plugged in to the television. 
Now when I want to watch the CBC, I have to unplug the antenna so that it does not go through the digital convertor. 
There doesn’t seem to be any way around this. I am going to have to switch wires around every time I want to switch between my new digital stations and the CBC (the only remaining analog station.)
What a hassle! 

I must admit that when the digital signal comes through, the picture is crystal clear. It’s like having cable television. But when the signal is a bit weak, instead of it being a little fuzzy, I get an error message on a black screen that reads, “Unable to tune the digital signal”

If I lived in an area with a stronger reception, things might be different. I might have actually enjoyed this. But so far, I am not impressed with digital TV.

Digital television is not all that great. It doesn’t seem worth the effort or the cost.

Doctor Who: The Mixtape

I was inspired to make this mixtape by a meme that was floating around on Tumblr. It was a 30 day challenge and Day 17 asked, “What songs would appear in your Doctor Who mixtape?”

I found this great blog post from Janine. She came up with a song for each of the major characters and justified her choices with song lyrics. The blog, Meanwher, elsewhen also offered some great suggestions for this hypothetical tape.

After reading those two posts, I was determined to make my own Doctor Who mix and to include some of their suggestions. I was unfamiliar with a lot of these songs prior to making the tape, but I got right to work, and was delighted with what I found.

I knew I had to start the tape with “Spaceman” from Bif Naked. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you will see how perfectly that song ties into the very first episode of Series 5 when Amelia Pond first meets the Doctor.

Another highlight of the tape was including Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream.” It made me think of the time stream, the relationship the Doctor has with his companions, or even the one the Doctor has with the TARDIS. I know it sounds complicated, but give the tape a listen and I’m sure you’ll get it.

I included sound effects from the show and even an audio clip from an episode. The songs are blended together and you will never hear a song fade out. I’m doing my best to preserve the art of the mixtape. That is why I’ve divided it into two-sides because I really miss cassette tapes and how each side of a tape can have its own identity and flavour.

The Doctor Who Mixtape will fit on one CD, so download it for free, burn it to disc, save it to your iPod or MP3 player, and turn up the jams. You can also stream it with the player below.

Download Side A (right click and “save as”)

Download Side B (right click and “save as”)

Or you can download the mixtape in album format.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about it. And if you enjoyed this mixtape based upon a television show. You might like to check out the other one I made last year, “The Lost Mixtape”

Spread the music, and enjoy!

Side A Stream

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Side B Stream

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

We All Need Free TV

Television has always been free.

All you needed was a television and an antenna.

The networks could deliver quality programming by allowing corporate sponsors to advertise on their shows. This quickly turned into commercials. Now, it is standard practice to have our programs interrupted every ten minutes so we can watch a slew of advertising spots.

But then someone had a brilliant idea – convince people to pay for something that they had always gotten for free.

And guess what?

People actually did.

A whopping 90% of Canadians pay for television by subscribing to cable or satellite services. I once counted myself amongst that hoard. A few years ago, though I cancelled my cable and I haven’t looked back.

Now, I am among the 1 in 10 Canadians who rely on free over the air reception. However, I keep seeing these commercials reminding us (the 10%) that our TVs may just show static in less than two weeks.

If we want to continue uninterrupted service, we need to buy a convertor box or subscribe to cable or satellite. Of course, these commercials have been running for over a year. I thought I was prepared for the switch that happens on September 1st because I bought this digital antenna.

It looks like a cutting board. It’s so strange, but it is designed to pick up both analogue and digital television signals. So far, it is working great for me. I hope it continues to work when the analogue signals stop.

Of course, my other big worry is that I will no longer be able to tune in the CBC.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is our national station and it is financed through tax dollars. I love watching Canadian productions and local news. I think it is an invaluable resource.

Although we don’t have a local station for each large city in Canada, those of us in Southern Ontario get a feed from the Toronto station, and that is completely fine with me.

The problem is, the national public broadcaster does not have the budget to convert all of their signal towers to digital. 16 communities that currently receive the CBC over the air, may not get any signal come the first of the month. The neighbouring cities to Toronto may be out of luck, including Kitchener and London.

I hope that the CBC will be allowed to continue broadcasting in analogue for the time being so my signal won’t be interrupted.

I hope my digital antenna will work for me as well.

But I guess I am just going to have to wait and see.

Everwood is Now Complete

Everwood is hands-down the best television series I have ever seen.

I watched it during it’s original run and was captivated for all four seasons. When I saw that it was available on DVD, I ran out and bought the first season.

I then waited, and waited, and waited.

The other three seasons never came to DVD and it saddened me that I would not be able to rewatch this brilliant television series in its entirety.

I had to wait a few years but I managed to find an unofficial box set of the series. There were 20 discs containing all 98 episodes of the show.

Whoever put this set together, did a really good job with it. As you can see, the discs are screen-printed and numbered. They came in a box with a nice cover as well.

The only problem was the quality of the episodes themselves. They were taped from the original television broadcasts.

I spent a fair amount of money on this set but it certainly was worth it. I was happy to have the complete series and I actually watched it all the way through three different times.

Now that the studio has officially released the other seasons, I have bought them again. Season 3 is my latest addition to the collection. Season 4 comes out next month and I have already pre-ordered it.

My girlfriend and I have been working our way through the entire series this summer. She will get to watch the official versions with picture-perfect quality. That is how this series should be seen after all.

More Everwood Posts

Best Gift I Gave This Year

About a month ago, I found the remastered DVD box set of Season 3 of the original series of Star Trek.

I found it in a cheap bin and couldn’t believe that it was priced at $19.99. When the show first came out on DVD years ago, I remember seeing it priced at $199.99.

I frantically searched through the clearance bin hoping to find the other two seasons. I would so love to own the entire series of the original, and still the best, Star Trek series.

Unfortunately, there only seemed to be one copy of the DVD in the entire store. I went to another branch of the store hoping to find it there but came up empty as well.

My dad is a huge Star Trek fan, and like me, doesn’t have cable television. I knew he’d really appreciate having all 24 episodes of Season 3 on DVD so I gave it to him as a Christmas present today.

We already watched a few episodes together and were simply blown away by them. This remastered collection is breathtaking. The colours are so sharp and vivid that you’d have no idea the show was shot about forty years ago. The special effects have also been brilliantly updated. The old phaser beams used to just show a green blob of light, now you can see the beam shoot out.

The new effects mesh perfectly into the show and don’t take away from the viewing experience either. I so love what they have done here.

The next time I go over to my dad’s, I’m sure he’ll have watched this season full over four or five times. He will probably beat me next time we play this…

Star Trek: The Game is a limited edition board game that combines strategy, trivia, and skill. My dad and I like to play it but our memories of the episodes are a bit fuzzy. Since we don’t have cable, we haven’t seen the old episodes in a while.

Next time we play, he will probably kick my butt on any Season 3 questions. So far, we’ve been pretty evenly matched.

Oh well, I know it was a great present and I know he’ll get lots of use out of it. Hopefully I’ll find another cheap copy of the DVDs somewhere. Maybe I can even find the other two seasons to buy him for a birthday present next year. To have the complete series would be so cool.

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Teaching Tip – Using Video in the Classroom

There are some amazing videos that you can bring into the classroom to further your students’ knowledge or reinforce what was taught during a unit of study.

I limit the amount of video that I use in class, however. I believe that students are over-exposed to video as is, and that if we decide to use video in the classroom, we should do so sparingly. 
One of the best ways I have found to use video is at the end of a science unit. 
The public library has quite a few educational DVDs and many of them come with a teacher guide as well. 
I use this video as part of my Grade 4 science unit on light. I show it to them at the end of the three week unit. 
Before I show it to the students, I write down 20 questions on the board from the Teacher’s Guide. The guides are very informative. They give you background information, pre-viewing questions, and questions to answer during and after the film. 
I read the questions to the students and instruct them to take jot notes as they watch the film. I expect them to answer at least 3 of the questions during the film. I tell them that they can get bonus points for answering more than 3 as well. This keeps the students actively involved in the process. Many of them are excited to answer as many questions as they can.
At the end of the video, I ask if anyone in the class got the answer to question # 1. Someone always seems to be able to answer each question and the student who does so, takes pride in the fact that he or she was able to. 
We continue in this way until we answer all 20 questions. I then discuss how we were only able to do this as a group. Working together, we accomplished more than we could have alone.
I have found this a very effective way to use video in the classroom. You can find many useful DVDs from the Library Video website. They also have worksheets and teacher guides that are very informative.  Of course, this is only one company that offers educational videos. 
The first time I do this with the class, I pause the film when the answer to the first question appears. I model how to take a jot note on the board and allow students time to copy it down before restarting the video.
So far, I haven’t had to buy any videos for my teaching so this really won’t cost you a cent. Your school or fellow teachers probably already have some that you can use. And of course, the public library is a great resource. 
Well, I hope you’ve found this Teaching Tip useful. There are over 70 in the archives right now and there will be another one here next week. If you’d like to share a tip, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. 
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Nikita Sequel is Brilliant!

Le Femme Nikita has an interesting history.

First it was a 1990 French film written and directed by Luc Besson. It was originally titled Nikita but it was released in North America as Le Femme Nikita.

I was first introduced to it on video cassette. I still have it.

In this film, Nikita was a drug addict and just a punk teenager. After killing a police officer, she was captured by a secret government agency and trained to become an assassin. They faked her death and she was essentially trapped into doing their biding.

Three years later a Hollywood remake entitled Point of No Return hit the theatres.  It wasn’t as dark as the original French film. It had elements to it that led into what would become the television series.

I think this series really shined. It tweaked the story just enough to make it fit perfectly into a weekly action / drama series. It premiered in 1997 and ran for five seasons.

In this version, Nikita was wrongly accused of the crime that landed her in jail. She was homeless and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She ends up imprisoned in a secret agency simply called Section.

She doesn’t want to do the things that Section wants her to do. However, if she doesn’t comply, they will simply kill her. She manages to complete her anti-terrorist missions without having to go against her morality. She often butts heads with her superiors but ultimately gets her way.

I really enjoyed this show. When I first heard it was being remade this season, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t sure that they could do it justice.

I watched the first episode and was really intrigued to see that this wasn’t a simple remake. It took the best elements of the French film and combined them with the television series. Nikita, here, is once again   the messed up teenager taken in by Section. However, this story takes place two years after she has escaped from her captures.

Nikita has vowed to take down Section and seems to be a one-woman army, completely capable of enacting such a feat.

We are only three episodes into the series but I am completely sold on it. I love how they’ve twisted the Nikita mythology just enough to make it appeal to both new and old fans.

In this series, Section is corrupt and only seems to be getting worse. Nikita is smart and one step ahead of them.  As they hunt her, she is working methodically to take them apart piece by piece.

If you live in Canada and haven’t seen any of the show yet, you can catch all the episode on http://www.ctv.ca/

I love how this new series is essentially a sequel. It is quite stylish and well-written. I like the casting as well. I don’t watch a lot of television but so far, this is the best thing I’ve seen this season. Go check it out!

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Boomtown – Awesome TV

I can’t believe that this show almost completely slipped by my radar. It is amazing and one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately, it got cancelled five years ago.

I had never heard of it before. I saw it in the 2 for $10 bin at the grocery store. I picked it up and was intrigued by it. “One crime. Different points of view. Until you’ve seen them all, you won’t know the truth.”

I flipped over the case a few times and thought, “for five bucks I can’t really go wrong, especially considering that I’m getting 18 hours of television.”

I started watching the show and was really blown away by it. The storytelling was absolutely phenomenal. The pilot episode had a beautiful book-ended opening and closing. It was poetic, and perfect television. I don’t say that very often.

The show focuses around seven characters. There are two detectives, two uniform officers, a paramedic, the district attorney, and a reporter. Not only do we get to see the stories from their perspectives, we sometimes also get to see scenes from the victim, witness, or perpetrator’s point of view as well.

The technique of jumping to different points of view isn’t just a gimmick. It is used to reveal character or to further the plot. It allows for mystery and suspense. It also is very realistic because we don’t get to see the entire story in real life either. We see it from a specific perspective.

It’s a shame that this show didn’t grow to become a hit. It’s theatrical and really gives us something new. It isn’t your typical cop show. I’m glad that I own it on DVD now. It really is one of my favourite shows of all-time. And to think, if I hadn’t of found it in the cheap bin, I wouldn’t even of known of its existence.

There was a second season but it was only six episodes long and it doesn’t like it will be released on DVD. I hope I can find those episodes one day because I would really love to see more.

LOST – End of an Era

First off, there will be spoilers in this post. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, please click away. 

Okay, here goes…

I haven’t been there since the start of this series. I only discovered it on DVD last summer. I whipped through all of the seasons quite quickly so I was able to watch this final season unfold with all of you loyal fans.

I must say that I really didn’t like this season. I felt that they didn’t do a good enough job of providing us answers to the many mysteries that have unfolded over the years.

I was a bit critical of the first five episodes of this season. They almost “lost” me as a viewer. Since I hadn’t put years into watching the show I felt like I could just walk away from it. But I’m glad I didn’t.

Tonight’s finale would have been near perfect if not for a few things. I could break down all the problems with this season, the unanswered questions, or the missing characters and story lines but I’m not going to do that. Instead, I am going to look at this finale as just that, an ending.

A good season finale should tie into the pilot episode. Everwood did it perfectly and to this day remains the best finale of all time. I was hoping that Lost could do the same thing but I knew that it had problems early on this season and wouldn’t be able to deliver that perfection to us. That being said let’s look at this episode.

Jack became protector of the island and he did his best to keep it safe. However, he made a mistake, just like its previous protector, Jacob, had done. Jack knew he had to die in order to make things right and to fulfill his true role. Before Jack marched bravely to his death, he passed the torch on to Hurley.

Jack crawls out from the river and lies down on the grass of the island. This was the exact image we got of him in the pilot. He is just lying there, hurt, but unlike the pilot he is not confused or disoriented. He has completed his mission.

The best part of this scene was that a dog comes out of the woods, just like in the pilot. It’s Vincent. The dog lies beside Jack and we can see that Jack is now happy and fulfilled. He looks up at the sky and sees a plane go by. It’s Oceanic Flight 815. Everyone on it is going to be okay.

Juliet saved them all when she was able to get the bomb to go off and Jack brought it all home with his actions in this last episode.

At the end of the episode when Jack realizes that he has died, his father tells him that not everyone in the church is dead. “There is no now,” he tells him. “Some died before and some died after.”

I really don’t like that this scene took place in a church in the flash-sideways continuum. It would have been more significant for it to be at Charlie and Eko’s church on the island. That would have been perfect.

Nevertheless, I’m happy with how the story ended. I know some people are gonna read the whole story wrong since it ended in a church. I don’t think the story was about purgatory. They weren’t all dead. They needed to learn some things about themselves because they were all lost at one point in their lives.

They are no longer lost.

And Hurley is going to continue to help people by bringing them to the island. We can see this from a few different moments this episode.

First off, Hurley didn’t know what to do when he became the protector of the island. Ben Linus suggested that he let Desmond leave the island. Hurley told him that it didn’t work that way. To which. Linus said something along the lines, “You’re the boss now. You’re good at protecting and helping people. You can make new rules.”

Hurley likes Ben’s suggestion and asks him to help him in that duty, to which Ben says he would be honoured to do.

So we see that the island has a purpose. It helps redeem people who have lost their way. Everyone on that island that we’ve come to know from these six seasons needed that experience. 

We get this from his dailogue with Ben Linus at the end. “You were a great Number 2,” says Hurley to which Linus replies, “And you were a great Number 1.” Perhaps someone else has the job now and they have both found themselves too.

That’s my take on it. I’d appreciate hearing from you. Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Star Trek: TNG Didn’t Live Up To It’s Potential

This comic book was written and produced before the brand new television series Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the airwaves in 1987.

The creators of this comic had to write and produce the book before ever having seen an episode of the show. That’s what makes this an interesting read all these many years later.

I hadn’t really thought about it much before but I now see something that the television series didn’t do. Quite frankly, it didn’t live up to its potential in bringing us a new Star Trek experience.

Firstly, the new Enterprise NCC 1701-D was a huge ship that carried over 1000 crew members and civilians. The ship was purposely designed so that the crew members could live with their families on the ship. So why then was this not a reality in the television series?

I can understand that the captain didn’t have a family on board. A major trope of the original series was that Captain Kirk was married to his ship. Captain Picard fits in with that trend perfectly, so much so that he doesn’t even like children. That was a cool aspect to his character, especially considering that his ship is full of children. But where were they?

Why didn’t any of the bridge crew have families on board? In fact, none of the regular cast members had any family whatsoever. Wouldn’t these officers have been assigned to a smaller ship? The only regular crew member with a family was a single mother, Dr. Crusher.

In this comic, we actually see a married couple bickering with each other. These two panels show the couple arguing as they rush to get to the bridge on time for their duty.

They were called The Bickleys and I actually found them quite annoying in this comic book series. They weren’t very professional as they carried their argument onto the bridge with them. They fought while they were on duty several times in this mini-series as well. But it was realistic to have a family and a young married couple actively serving on the bridge crew.

To be fair, there were some stories on the TV show that did show families and school children but they were few and far between. This show felt much like the old Star Trek series. All of the main characters focused most of their attention to their duties and to the ship.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was supposed to bring us a new experience where we saw civilians and families interacting with the commissioned officers and non-commissioned crew members but it failed to live up to this potential.

That being said, I enjoyed the TV series. I know that it took some time to grow into its own. It borrowed and stole a lot from the original series before it finally found its own identity. It just would have been interesting to see more family life aboard the ship though.

Remember The Gummi Bears?

The Gummi Bears is an animated television program that I used to watch when I was a kid. I believe that it started back in the mid 1980s.

I used to love this show.

I remember that of all the cartoons I used to watch, this was one that my dad would actually go out of his way to watch with me. I know he didn’t really care to watch any of my other programs but this one we enjoyed together.

Last week I found out that this series had been released on DVD. The public library had the box set containing all of the episodes from the first three seasons. Of course, I had to borrow it. I wanted to see if the show still held up after all these years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it still does.

The story is really well done. The characters are likable and I found that I really got back into the series.

My class had been really well-behaved for the past few weeks so I rewarded them by showing a few episodes of the show on Friday. My students loved it.

I wish this show was still on the air. But you can find it on DVD and I also found it on YouTube.

Here is the premiere episode, in three parts.

Enjoy!