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Reba: The Next Generation Meets the Beverly Hillbillies

I’m trying to understand how this show exists. Wasn’t this already a sitcom on the WB? Did they just revive it and merge it with The Beverly Hillbillies? And why does this have such a 70’s feel to it? I keep expecting Reba’s mother to be played by Mary Tyler Moore and the whole thing to turn into a variety show.

Malibu Country. Another title that feels so 70’s. Maybe it’s the voiceover that feels so 70’s. Maybe it’s the obvious lines pitched to the audience waiting for canned laughter. Maybe it’s the writer who got his start on The Golden Girls and worked on the original Reba sitcom and on Roseanne. But none of those are seventies.

Lilly Tomlin as Reba’s mother? I guess Reba was originally a Jewish New Yorker before she went country. Isn’t the whole fish out of water, southern belles in LA, premise supposed to be that they are southerners. Why cast someone who so isn’t?

Here’s a proposal. Just merge this together with Last Man Standing. Tim Allen and Reba McEntire can just goggle at California while delivering obvious jokes. It’s bound to be a winner.

Grimm and Once Upon a Time Previews

Grimm is shown off as a show by the Buffy and Angel producers about a cop killing monsters. Once Upon a Time as a show by the writers of Lost about a strange town that’s part of a dual reality with an extensive backstory. So no one’s wandering too far away from their specialty.

Based on the promos alone, the acting doesn’t look too great in either one, but Grimm has a premise that can carry over past a few episodes, Once Upon a Time is more like if we knew ahead of time that Lost was going to suck. That’s unfair. Once Upon a Time could be another 10th Kingdom. But I don’t see much of a fun factor here. Bad acting. An uninvolving lead. Robert Carlyle shows up. And maybe there’s more good to the show.

Grimm doesn’t seem bad. It lacks some of the punch I was hoping for. And we’ve got the usual Forever Knight setup with a cop who has superpowers that he uses to solve crime and a partner who doesn’t know it. But the werewolf sidekick is looking like fun. But the Grimm preview looks like it’s the entire first episode. That’s a stupid thing to do.

I was hoping Grimm would be more like Special Unit 2 and maybe it will be. Right now it looks enough like a generic procedural to be boring.

Terra Nova, Spielberg’s Dino Fetish Returns

Funny thing about this Terra Nova promo, the show only looks interesting for the first minute or so that it’s set in the future. The idea of people escaping a destroyed world by going into the past is a decent gimmick. But the show is just Jurassic Park in the past and there all interest is lost. Pretty scenery, dinos, family bonding and people causing problems. After the promo you know that you’re going to spend a lot of time being annoyed by the family, the Dinos aren’t that impressive anymore and human conflict will show that people can escape the future but they can’t escape the problems they cause. Dark Skies at least looks interesting because it thrusts characters into a less predictable situation. Terra Nova looks like Jurassic Park meets every show about families going to live in Africa or Hawaii or the West with more social commentary.

Crysis 2’s Half Life 2 Envy

Not visually, but it’s a little obvious that Crysis 2 was built around Half Life envy.

Valve promoted Marc Laidlaw’s role in writing Half Life 2. Crytek has promoted Richard Morgan’s role in writing Crysis 2. But what made it worse is how much time Richard Morgan spent talking trash about other games. But it’s really about the user experience. And Crysis 2 doesn’t really get that. And it’s painfully derivative of Half Life 2 a game that did get that.

Walking around a grimly totalitarian city under oppressive human and alien control. Check. Fighting both. Check. Aliens carving up human bodies. Check. Propaganda broadcasts. Check. City divided into checkpoints. Check.

So why doesn’t the story impact? Because it’s intrusive. From Morgan’s suit evolution thing to the constant handholding and Gould breaking in every 3 seconds to annoy you, Crysis 2 never lets you just experience it. When it wants you to look up, it tells you to hit F. ‘Here look we programmed a building falling or a flyover right now.”

The dialogue is one note. The voice acting is even worse. The scenery is amazing but the game gets in the way of itself.

You can’t blame Crytek for wanting it. Half Life 2 put Valve on the map in a big way. It was a gamechanger. But Crysis 2 isn’t. It’s a fantastic engine wrapped around a not so fantastic game.

Why Nemesis is worth your time and money – Pro and Con film analysis

Besides falling victim to a film release schedule that was the
equivalent of shoving a poodle into a meat grinder, Nemesis also
likely fell victim to the studio’s own hype. Hype to which no movie,
not even the original Wrath of Khan could have lived up to. The result
was that audiences went into the film expecting something really
amazing and left disappointed. The public availability of the Nemesis
script also undoubtedly spoiled key moments for fans while raising
expectations for scenes that ended up not making the cut.

No Nemesis is not Wrath of Khan for the next generation, ironically
enough in part because it compulsively borrows from Wrath of Khan, but
it is the best of the TNG films and since it may well be the last TNG
film that means quite a bit despite the shortage of quality among its
competition.

It is not a great film but it is a good one. It’s not flawless, it’s
not a movie that’ll have you flashing back to key scenes for months
afterwards or calling people on the phone and insisting they go see
it. But then few movies, in SF or outside it, make that grade. Nemesis
on the other hand is a fairly decent sendoff for the crew and the
series whose Trek heart is in the right place, it has some touching
moments and a decent script and I didn’t check my watch once while I
was watching the movie (not counting the previews or the ads.)

Are there flaws, plot holes, poorly structured narrative due to cut
footage and any number of other objections that critics and fans have
raised? Sure. But then no movie is pure in that department. Not even
the holy grail of Star Trek filmmaking itself. STII.

Wrath of Khan contains a scene that features Scotty holding a dying
cadet in his arms, which due to footage being cut makes no real sense
as we never find out the boy is his nephew. As to poor continuity,
Checkov and Khan recognize each other even though they never met on
the series. The Reliant is on a science survey that’s studying a
planet down to its most microscopic lifeforms, yet fails to notice
that one of the planets is missing and that the planet they’re
studying is a different planet entirely. But while fans jump on those
kinds of goofs during the first viewing as time passes, they fall away
and it’s the meat of the movie that matters and not its mistakes. Time
forgives the foolish errors of aging films and the mistakes that once
seemed to important and the issues that seemed like such a betrayal of
expectations don’t end up mattering that much ten years later.
Especially as Nemesis is now increasingly likely to be the last TNG
film and probably the last Star Trek film ever made and will come to
be viewed fondly in that context.

Indeed while Nemesis works hard to be Wrath of Khan, it comes closer
to being The Undiscovered Country, a bittersweet sendoff, a conspiracy
hidden within a diplomatic mission, the possibility of growing peace
with old enemies and a sense of hope for the future overshadowed by
the harsh knowledge that today’s victories hold the germ of tommorow’s
defeats.

So no Nemesis is far from perfect as I’ll go into detail further down,
but it’s the best of the TNG films and likely one of the best Science
Fiction films you’ll see in a while. Certainly better than the only
one of the trailers for a SF film that ran before Nemesis, which
essentially amounted to Armageddon at the earth’s core complete with
gratitious devastation of cities that some faint hope might have
suggested Hollywood would shun after the all too real devastation on
an American city not long ago.

Think of Nemesis in that context. In the context of 500 more idiotic
SF thriller, monster and disaster films that were made and that are to
come. Think about the fact that despite the most optimistic
predictions people have been putting forwards even now, the prediction
I made months ago that Nemesis would have the worst opening of any
Star Trek film ever has held up. And the news will only keep getting
worse from here on it. I’m not calling on anyone to go see Nemesis
because it’ll improve STN’s numbers and save the film franchise,
nothing can likely do that now. But it is almost certainly the last
film and it’s worth seeing it on the big screen, if only to say
goodbye to the franchise and goodbye to the last of Star Trek that
Gene Roddenberry had a hand in creating.

Now comes the analysis complete with spoilers for pretty much
everything. If you don’t want to know them, don’t scroll down any
further.

(Note that I still haven’t read the original script for Nemesis and so
I won’t comment on what might have in the script but was left out)

– The bombing scene at the start places its emphasis on the shock
value which is meant to propel viewers into the movie and grip them
from the beginning but since none of the players are familiar, the
lack of development makes this scene more gory than shocking, let
alone engrossing. The key assasination is carried out by a woman we
never even hear speak again on behalf of a figure we’ve yet to meet.

A smarter approach would have been to show a more fleshed out version
of Shinzon’s flashback in the mines under the tagline ‘X Years Ago’
that would have shown Shinzon as a boy and developed Viceroy a bit by
showing his kindness to the human boy and the conditions in the mines
at the start. It would have also shown the Reman aversion to sunlight,
their oppression by the Romulans and Shinzon’s history without the
need for some of the clunky exposition that comes later in the movie.

Then cut to ‘Present Day’ with Shinzon being honored for his military
exploits (which would have eliminated more clunky briefing room
exposition that many critics have objected to) making the offer to the
Senate and then proceeding to assasinate them as before. While this
would have prematurely hinted at Shinzon’s identity, the previews and
the trailer had revealed it anyway and this would have built suspense
for Shinzon and Picard’s first encounter.

It would have also given the entire premise of Shinzon seizing power
on Romulus credibility, which was thoroughly lacking in the actual
film as we have no real idea how Shinzon got out of the mines and
became a prominent military figure, let alone what he and the Remans
could offer the Romulan Empire as the Commander proposes to the Senate
since the Remans are slaves and Shinzon is an officer of the Romulan
fleet, making the entire idea of an ‘alliance’ sound quite odd.

A nice touch would have also been to have Shinzon declare himself
emperor, rather than preator. It would have extended the comparison
with Napoleon and the idea of the Romulan ‘Empire’ having an Emperor
again.

– The wedding toast is pleasantly handled and it features some of the
most human behavior from the crew in the movie, which unlike the
ridiculous Generations boat scene doesn’t feel forced in the least.
More crew participation would have been nice but it’s still a natural
scene that feels more like the cast roasting each other, rather than
their charachters.

Worf is still being played for laughs but this time it’s at least a
step up from Klingon puberty and the joke is a bit more respectfull of
the charachter and offbeat enough to work. And suggestive of the idea
that Worf might be drinking because it’s Deanna’s wedding which is
about as close as the movie comes to refferencing that relationship.
And it again reinforces the viewer’s memory of the song which ends up
serving as a key plot point. And that’s another way that Nemesis is
disgintuished as a proffesional script, as opposed to the earlier TNG
films. Even if you don’t like the joke, it’s still there to serve a
purpose.

Still a bit too much of the emphasis is on Picard and it might have
been a good idea to focus on Riker and Data a bit more. This is a huge
transition for Riker and he has few lines that involve anything
personal that might give us some insight into why he finally accepted
a command of his own and seems ready to settle down at last.

– By contrast the repeated joke about Betazoid nude weddings on the
bridge is awkward and completely unnecesarry and does end up treating
Worf like a buffoon again or a punching bag as most of the TNG movies
have.

Contrary to what Ebert claimed, the actual process of locating the
readings is not a collection of technobabble. And if Ebert who claims
to be an afficianado of Science Fiction can’t distinguish ‘Positronic’
which was the key element in all of Asimov’s robot stories not to
mention seven years of Data’s portrayal on TNG, then he really is the
imbecile his lazy and unproffesional Nemesis review makes out to be.

– Like Insurrection’s shuttle chase scene, Nemesis squanders time and
money on an unnecesarry action scene here. The process of finding B4’s
parts is handled well enough, though director Baird seems to have
overcompensated for all the shadowed scenes in the rest of the movie
by oversaturating the desert scenes to a ridiculous extent. The ATV
though wasn’t necesarry, neither was the chase scene. Both added
nothing to the movie, did not impress audiences, had no real purpose
and wasted time and money better spent elsewhere. Nemesis might have
done better and come in at a lower budget if it had avoided pointless
action scenes like this one resulting in extra FX sequences and
location shooting.

– The message from Admiral Janeway is surprisingly enough handled
fairly well, setting aside the plausibility of Janeway giving Picard
orders and the idea of the Sonaa being considered on a level with the
Borg or the Romulans.

– Data’s interaction with B4 has some key moments which resound later
in the episode, but at the moment they do come off a bit weak and
Spiner chooses to play B4 a bit too far into the idiot cousin of the
family mode to the point that he’s quite irritating.

– The confrontation with Shinzon is a bit too theatrical and the
weakest scene between Hardy and Stewart in the film. Shinzon’s costume
also emphasis how skinny he is in comparison to Perlman’s bulky
costume and even Stewart’s padded uniform which makes Shinzon look a
bit ridiculous. His scene with Deanna doesn’t work either. It probably
should have been handed to Viceroy instead who actually does the
penetrating and on whom Deanna gets her revenge.

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