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Monthly Archives: August 2010

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A Dirk Gently TV Series… Finally

Dirk Gently was always the red headed stepchild. When people thought of Douglas Adams books, it was usually the Hitchhiker’s Guide, which was more expansive, but Dirk Gently was usually funnier. And with only two books he never got quite as stretched out. So now there’s a TV series that might be possibly could be coming. Really it’s a no brainer, famous author, easy and amusing premise of an eccentric detective who solves supernatural puzzles, that usually turn out to be unsolvable, and completely different from whatever he was supposedly to be solving. Done well it could be great, done poorly, well have you seen what the SyFy channel is cooking. It could be just that bad, though in this case it’s the BBC, which would mean more if their programming was better on the average.

Krull

krullReleased in the post Star Wars frenzy as Hollywood studios were eagerly churning out anything with a mythical premise to cash in on what they thought George Lucas was doing, Krull’s more obvious inspiration was another movie dismissed as a Star Wars wannabe, Clash of the Titans.

The elements of the quest, gathering a disparate group for a quest, fighting a pan like figure for a princess’ affections, stealing magical horses and finding a magical weapons, suggest Clash of the Titans which had just come out when Krull was being made.

But Krull does have its own appeal. There’s a decent supporting cast, including a younger Liam Neeson and Robby Coltrane. The leads though are blank. The direction is good, and James Horner’s score delivers, even if it makes you think of his Star Trek work. But the script from Stanford Sherman, a veteran of the Batman TV series, who also went on to write another fantastically cheesy 80’s movie, The Ice Pirates, doesn’t deliver.

There are elements in Krull that could have made for a better movie, the vanishing spaceship mountain for one. But it’s too scattershot and formulaic, a quest with too few challenges and integrated mythology. The Emerald Sage section offers up the hope that this might change, but quickly reverts to type with the heroes riding magical Clydesdales through the sky.

Party Down Poe Movie Actually Happening

You can’t give Party Down too much credit for this, some kind of revisionist Poe action hero movie was being kicked around for a while. And who better to play a crazed genius with a drug problem than John Cusack. Yes, John Cusack. I guess they both have dark hair. And people hated them. So there’s some similarity. Except obviously Depp or Downey could have nailed this. Cusack will wander through it giving it his best intense stare. Which is the same stare most people trot out to try and get crazy people to leave them alone. But you would think Cusack would have learned his lesson after Max and the infamous line that somehow hasn’t made it to YouTube “Come on Hitler, I’ll buy you a glass of lemonade”. The only redeeming thing was that Cusack wasn’t playing Hitler. On the other hand there’s no way in hell that a movie where Cusack played Hitler would not have made it to Youtube, and turned into one of the funniest things ever. I guess we’ll have to wait till he plays Poe.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

This was probably unfilmable all along, but the film school editing only makes things worse. It’s a movie that probably only existed so John Krasinski could do his best at trying to emote in the last few minutes, but it’s still a mess. The premise of a female student working on her thesis interviewing men about their sexual issues in order to understand why her boyfriend cheated on her, might have gone somewhere, but mostly it just wanders around. The men are punch lines. The editing makes Brief Interviews feel like a surrealistic trip down a rabbit hole, that should be reserved for noir movies about drug fueled escapades in Paris. And then there’s the largest interview of the bunch which has nothing to do with the theme or anything else in the movie, but comes off like an excuse for white men to try and package a black man’s experience. The only stable part of the movie is its ending, in which Krasinski tries to show off his acting skills. But he could have done that in 3 minutes, and saved us the rest.

That Pesky Second Hand Games Market

Some developers and publishers are doing it the clean way, by just giving away enough free DRM that second hand game buyers are out of the loop, and then there’s THQ’s wrestling games which can’t be played online by second hand game buyers. Setting aside the whole “who actually buys wrestling games and why” and “who would actually want to play a wrestling game online”, THQ does and doesn’t have a point. On the one hand, THQ isn’t seeing any profit from second hand game sales. They may be obligated to allow those sales, but they’re not obligated to support them. There’s no reason for them to provide online access for people who didn’t buy the game from them, but bought it used. On the other hand angry players have been trading in old games to amortize the cost of buying new games. The mini economy benefits everyone, including THQ, whose games are also bought that way based on trade ins. Destroying that market may not mean that THQ will sell more games, it may mean that it will sell even less games.

Fantastic, Isn’t It

We can afford to blow 2 billion dollars on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a jumped up particle detector, but we can’t afford to spend money on the space shuttle that actually transports it into space. It’s a stunning theater of misplaced priorities that defines why our space program has gone wrong. We spend billions on pointless projects meant to pad out some papers, but we haven’t spent the money on the actual means of getting into space. While we were blowing money on massive research projects, the space program has relied on outdated shuttles, and now those shuttles are gone, but the 2 billion particle detectors live on. But what happens to a flea when it has no dogs to feed on?

So Many Things Wrong in One Paragraph

There are a lot of people to credit for the Star Trek phenomenon: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Ira Steven Behr, J.J. Abrams, Robert Justman, Gene Roddenberry, of course, and many more. But the truth is that without the efforts of one other seminal Star Trek figure those men might never have gotten the chance to make TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise or the 2009 Star Trek reboot feature. That man is Harve Bennett.

StarTrek.com Bennett interview.

I like the descending order of importance here, with minor people like Gene Roddenberry and Robert Justman last. Gene Coon isn’t even listed. But the really important people like Berman, Braga and Behr are of course high up on the list. And don’t forget J.J. Abrams who directed and produced a Star Trek as action movie reboot that brought nothing original to the table. So we have to think him for uh, what exactly? A phenomenon that predated him and that he cashed in on. Sherlock Holmes readers should probably also make sure to thank Guy Ritchie for that Sherlock Holmes phenomenon.

Over to Harve Bennett, there’s no doubt of his contribution, but a Star Trek series would have probably happened anyway, it was actually on the table before any of the movies. Had UPN happened originally, there would have been a Star Trek spinoff with the original cast. Without it, probably would have happened anyway. That’s not to minimize what he did for making the movies viable, but attributing everything to him is just pushing tin.

It’s a shame that TNG never brought in its own Harve Bennett, if it had done that, it might have actually survived. Instead we got one mediocre movie after another. Two of them directed by Jonathan Frakes. One of them directed by Stuart Baird, who hasn’t directed anything after Nemesis, but just works as an editor on movies like Salt and Green Lantern. It’s ridiculous that high budgets were squandered, without ever hiring competent writers or directors, while letting TV stars run wild. Generations was the worst of the bunch, but they were all plagued by being jumped up TV productions. And even though Bennett had already shown how it should be done, Rick Berman did it the TV way.

Futurama in Trouble

Futurama ratings are bad and getting worse. Half the viewers are gone. And that’s not good. Which is a shame, because the Comedy Central Futurama isn’t bad. It was slow getting out of the gate, which might have turned off viewers and there have been a few stinkers, like the robo marriage episode, which had nothing to with the rest of the season and has never even been commented on afterward, but there were also great episodes. DaVinci as the idiot in an advanced civilization. The time machine that only goes forward. Okay last’s week’s body swapping episode was on the weak side, but you can’t argue with the Robo Hungarian Empire. Futurama has a syndication deal now, which might mean that 20th Century FOX has the money it wants. There’s a 100th episode coming up, but Futurama’s future is again endangered.

Is Digg, Done?

Another major executive has left Digg for a trendier startup. Digg used to be trendy, but today Digg hovers on the edge of that Friendster bubble. Its status is somewhere around MySpace, not officially done, but not relevant or advancing either. Digg never got the community thing right, which is why it never worked as a social network. Sites like Reddit have been much better at that. But everything social is going down the Facebook hole now, and Digg is more vulnerable than most because it was nothing more than a link sharing and voting site. Facebook not only does all that better, it’s attached to the world’s largest online community. And that trumps Digg. Microsoft ad money helped keep Digg going. And the redesign is smoother, but not actually relevant. What Facebook hasn’t done, Twitter has finished off. Trending hashtags on Twitter are much more significant than Diggs. Trending hashtags are news stories. Digg’s top stories are an echo chamber. Digg meet Friendster.

So Enterprise Killed Harve Bennett’s Star Trek Prequel

According to the man himself anyway. My take on it is that prequels are a bad idea, but Harve Bennett wouldn’t have shown the kind of contempt for Star Trek as it is, the way that J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and the rest of the gang on the Star Trek reboot did. I don’t really get the reasoning anyway, as Enterprise was set long before the Kirk era, so it’s not as if either one would have interfered with the other. But executives are not known for their ability to think. And it’s good odds that the reason we don’t have a Star Trek TV series now, is because Paramount thinks it would conflict with the next Abrams-Damon Star Trek movie. Doesn’t make much sense, but there we go. It’s like the fans who kept saying that the problem was that we have gone to the well too many times. Not that the product was low quality and had no real purpose or respect for the source material. But too much going to the well.

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