and has 0 comments
Continuum is a strange TV series. It starts as some sort of police procedural, only set in the past from the standpoint of a future in 2077, where the corporations won and the future is stateless, corporate run business, where the police is just another private security force, etc. The crisis point is one from which a cell of anticorporate terrorists are sent back in time, together with a Protector (a cop from the future) to the near future (from our perspective). Each season from there on is more or less a different story, where the viewers much suspend their disbelief (again) to understand the new timeline story. As usual, a time travelling idea destroys, rather than rejuvenates, a story. Instead of a steady, involving plot, we get an all you can eat buffet of redefining the story. Each season we get basically a new series, but with the same characters. And it kind of works, but it loses all sense or meaning. (Meaning you would be dumb as fuck - and as me - to watch this)

I was fortunate enough to watch the last episode of the series (season 4, episode 6), when I was inebriated. I have to say that this is the only way Continuum will make sense to you: utterly drunk and on fast forward. This way, the storyline invented by cocaine driven Hollywood execs makes a little bit of sense and gives one the feel that the idea Continuum had has a sort of ... pardon my pun... continuity. Other than that, you should definitely avoid this series.

Rachel Nichols is super sexy and cute. That's the only thing going for the TV show. I am not kidding; I actually watched the series exclusively because she was hot. The story, the characters, the way everybody would get in bed (so to speak) with everybody - without having sex, mind you - was just puerile. And the last episode (read this: the last episode they had the budget to finish) was so underwhelming that it made me cringe with pain and disgust, only I was so piss drunk I didn't care. And I would definitely bone Rachel Nichols if I had the chance, so you, the more moraly advanced human beings, should ignore this series altogether.

Bottom line: everything that happens in Continuum feels natural when you are piss drunk. You should avoid it, if possible, if not inebriated.

and has 0 comments
Update 31 December 2018: After five seasons, Z Nation was cancelled. It had its ups and downs, with inconsistent levels of quality and storytelling, but it was very nice overall and I am glad to have watched it. Personally, I loved the innovation in the sci-fi and the way the show did not take itself too seriously, but sometimes tackling serious and contemporary social issues was important, too. The last season, for example, was all about democracy and egomaniacs trying to subvert it. Perhaps it wasn't the right show to try that on, but I appreciate that the creators thought it was worth it. So, no Z Nation in 2019, but maybe SyFy will learn from this and continue with fun and intelligent storytelling. I certainly hope so.

And now for the original post:

Due to the sheer number of TV series I am watching, I've abandoned the list format, in which I would give a short review of each. I am thinking that I will periodically review shows that I think are exceptional in some way or another. Z Nation is something that sounds stupid from the get go: a low budget Walking Dead clone from SyFy, made by The Asylum. I mean, can this be good at all? The Asylum are famous for the low budget rip-offs and SyFy... well, they changed their name from SciFi Channel to reflect their utter disrespect for the genre that they were supposed to promote. And, to paraphrase Woody Allen, it involves zombies.

The answer to the question is a resolute YES. While it doesn't take itself seriously at all, it is not a comedy. It is not like Sharknado, for example. Most humor in it is ironic with some occasional and subtle references to other work in the genre. The characters are complex and wacky, the story gets more original as we go and the show is full of death and gore. Let me tell you this: Walking Dead is a boring piece of crap compared to Z Nation.

Is it also bad? Yes. Some of the non permanent actors can barely act, the pacing is all over the place, the budget is low and the things that go on in the series don't always make a lot of sense. But compare it with, say... Farscape, which was much better funded, it is more consistent and more fun.

Bottom line: I don't believe this is a show for everybody, but it certainly is not a fringe thing, either. It's like somebody said "We know TV series are mostly crap and instead of trying to pretend they are not, we accept it. But we will make fun crap!". It is a really refreshing TV series and I enjoyed every episode. Give it a go!

and has 0 comments
A day ago there was a "leak" of three TV series pilots. I know, it sounds like someone out there is pissing TV series, but a look at most of them and you start seeing the truth of it. I don't really believe they were stolen or anything, either. I think they were deliberately distributed to gauge viewer reaction. The three shows in question are Blindspot, Lucifer and Minority Report. What do they all have in common? Law enforcement. It gets ridiculous from here on, you've been warned.

Blindspot is about a young woman (lovely Jaimie Alexander - the actress playing the Asgardian warrior Lady Sif in the Thor Marvel universe) found naked, without memories and tattooed all over her body. The tattoos are clues about future crimes and our Jane Doe helps the FBI solve them. The series has the obvious hallmarks of the post Lost era, with just enough artificial mystery to keep one guessing, but not really caring. Anyway, all I can say is that if you make a show about Jaimie Alexander found naked you should bloody show her naked! Stupid Americans! The French should start remaking these shows and demonstrate how it is done!

Lucifer is about... the devil. He comes to Earth because he got tired of ruling Hell - which was his divine punishment from his father, God. And by Earth I mean Los Angeles. Yes, very subtle. He teams up with another lovely (Lauren German) who is a police detective. Why, you might ask? Devil may care, he just loves solving crimes and has daddy issues. The show is so ridiculously pompous that it raises hackles. It reminds me of the well deservedly cancelled The Transporter series.

Minority Report is based on a movie about "precogs" used to stop crime by predicting it, leading to the paradox of arresting and incarcerating people because of crimes they did not commit. Yet. I haven't watched it. Yet. But since the movie was based itself on the works of famous paranoid sci-fi writer Phillip K. Dick, it is the only one that I have hopes for. Of course the detective will be a young attractive person, teamed with another young attractive person with some special power that helps solving some type of crisis, probably crimes and possibly related to terror attacks. I can see it... in the future...

Update: I was right. One of the precogs in the movie helps a young black female police detective to prevent crimes. This is a horrible perversion of the film, which ended with showing the precog system not working and putting innocent people in jail. In the series, the police is frustrated that the precog era has ended and is convinced that every released arrestee from the program would have become a killer. Yuck!

Shinsekai Yori, translated as From the New World in English, is the anime adaptation of the homonymous book from 2008, written by Yusuke Kishi. It shows, too, as the subjects touched are deep, the characters are complex and the story is wonderful. It is a true sci-fi, not only set into the far future, but also using serious concepts such as what it means to be human, what is the price of peace and questioning if we can ever change as a species and as a culture.

It is a complete plot told in 25 episodes, well animated, but I wouldn't call the animation special, yet the story is certainly worth it. If you want to compare it with something, try a combination between The Village and some fantasy kid school movie. While it begins like a post apocalyptic version of Harry Potter, it quickly turns into a discussion about the sacrifices required to preserve peace. It doesn't just stop at the young adult audience, but continues with new and new twists until it feels like you have a collection of stories that just happen to follow one another, yet they are very connected. The film is filled with Japanese ways of seeing the world, from the absolute obedience towards authority to the horror they instinctively feel when talking about mass destruction, but also random cruelty based on a class system, or that sense of duty that permeates everything everybody does, or girls always stumbling or being interrupted by men when they talk and told what to do. However, it doesn't stop there and it explains, in a way, why things are like that and what are their consequences.

In the end, you feel like humanity has been deconstructed and its ways of functioning laid bare and put to trial. I liked the characters and the emotional rollercoaster the anime has put me through. Really nice, Hollywood should take heed on how to do a good story and put it into motion. I highly recommend it.

and has 0 comments
Just a quick reminder that there are a lot of Star Trek productions out there, some really terrible, some really good. I am going to talk about three(ish) of them today.

First one is Star Trek: Federation One. It is with a lot of actors you have seen in other Hidden Frontier and Studio Areakt productions and focuses on the chief security of the presidential office of the Federation. While the plot is kind of a mess, the acting was decent and I was actually very sad to see that after the first "season" of two episodes they continued the story in an audio format. Even if the main character looked like he was on speed all the time, I had fun with it.

Another one is Star Trek: The Infinite Chain. Even if it is split into "episodes" it is actually a feature film. The acting is a bit amateurish, but decent. No obese teens in this one. It uses the now tired plot of a Federation starship thrown into unknown space by "an anomaly". The worst part of it was the "doctor" that was assigned to the mission. His character was believable: the guy in charge of the project creating the sensors used to study the anomaly, but in truth not a good manager or having any merit in the team. He just explodes randomly in childish emotional outbursts, threatening everybody with his artificial authority, and everybody hates him. I totally know people like that. However the actor was just goddamn awful and his script lines ridiculous! The makeup was ingenious, but really cheesy.

The last, but certainly not least, is something made by the Hidden Frontier team, but not set in the Star Trek universe. I am talking about Frontier Guard. The casting is made with the better actors of previous productions and, while the universe seems very similar to the Star Trek one, it is actually a different thing altogether. They use another type of space propulsion, it involves a FederationFrontier Guard academy and it concerns The Arc, a huge alien artifact that may have seeded the galaxy with intelligent life. Unfortunately, after some great episodes, they completely lost it. They began (some) episodes with "My name is..." evoking feelings of remembrance towards all the bad DC superhero series and movies, they started pointless subplots like the gay relationship thing - which always pisses me off, not because of the gayness, but because of the relationship that doesn't further the plot in any meaningful way - and threw in the towel after the 12th episode (which was an elevator show, basically).

From these three Frontier Guard was the best. My guess is that they wanted to do a Star Trek Academy series - which makes total sense and it should be the direction of the next Star Trek series - but they didn't get the approval. Since this sounds like a really good idea and one that might attract a lot of fans, I believe studios are keeping the story in reserve. However, not being Star Trek allowed them to evolve both stories and characters and I was really excited to see this done. In a world where everybody is remaking remakes, we need and deserve original content. Just look at David Feintuch's Seafort Saga series of books. That would make a fantastic TV series and has enough material to allow for several companion feature films.

For people just considering starting to watch these, do not expect Star Trek Next Generation. The actors are amateurs, I mean real amateurs not professionals who just started acting, most of them are American Trekkies and - even if I don't want to insult - some of them are just humongous pieces of fat with big glasses, which kind of explains the whole geek high school thing that is kind of difficult to understand in Europe. The stories, the lines, the makeup, the uniforms, the special effects, they are all done by enthusiasts. Sometimes they feel cheesy, sometimes they look completely and horribly fake. But once you realize that they are people like you, enjoying the wonderful universe of Star Trek, you can begin enjoying these productions.

I've watched other things as well, including Machinima style animations like Borg War - which I wouldn't recommend, but wasn't bad, and I will continue to look for these things. Just by looking at people like Hidden Frontier, who start doing something for the fun of it and end up doing original stuff with veteran amateur actors, I get filled with hope for the whole fan made universe, not just the Star Trek one. Keep up the good work guys (and if you can't do it good, keep working and it will get there eventually :) )

The best thing about it is that most of these series are online, on YouTube, free to watch. Here are some links to the shows above and others:
Star Trek Federation One - 1.01 Unity
Star Trek Federation One - 1.02 Institutions

Star Trek: The Infinite Chain

Frontier Guard

Star Trek: Digital Ghost

Special mention: Star Trip - a humorous parody of Star Trek.

Just wanted to post these really funny Star Trek fan made animations.

South Trek - a South Park animated Star Trek:

Star Trekkin' song:

Stone Park - a Flinstones animated Star Trek:

Some other funny stuff:

and has 0 comments
As some of you know, I am watching a lot of TV series, including cop and lawyer stuff, childish fantasy and sci-fi series, pirate and musketeer crap, etc. So when I say that I couldn't watch something, you should heed me. There are also some shows that I actually can stand watching, but barely, usually using the fast forward to watch an episode in ten minutes or less.
Here is a list of just such shows:
  • Lost - I think it all started with Lost. After a brilliant pilot episode, it got into 1001 Arabian Nights territory and became ridiculously unwatchable. While it wasn't a truly bad show (some people actually enjoyed all 6 seasons) I couldn't watch it more than 2 seasons. Calm down, the rest of the shows will be more recent.
  • The Messengers - every once in a while the American Bible thumpers convince producers to create religion based TV series or movies. While every possible superstition has and will be used in films, the Christian ones are standalone - in their own cinematic universe, if you will - and take themselves seriously every time. Messengers is one of these, and I couldn't watch more than 2 episodes before I gave up. It's (again) about the upcoming apocalypse and end of days and these 8 idiots are given superpowers to convince God that we are still worth it, while Satan goes around doing silly things. It was not only about the most tabloid part of (a part of) the bible, but it was acted and scripted badly. Ugh!
  • Dig - This relates more to Hebrew religion and feels like a TV series take on the Da Vinci Code, with clones of Jesus (I think), FBI policemen running around in Israel doing whatever they feel like, shady cabals and shady opposing cabals. It could have been interesting and I admit that I was drawn into it by the acting and production values. Unfortunately the script was a convoluted mess that had no way of improving. They never learn to ease into it, present a little bit of the story, add another element later on, make people feel rewarded for continuing to watch the series. Anyway, four or five episodes in, I gave up.
  • iZombie - Oh, you have to love this: young blonde accidentally gets turned into a zombie and gets a job at the morgue in order to have access to a fresh supply of brains. While consuming said brains, she gets visions of what the brain's owner had lived and thus helps a police detective to find out who murdered them. It combines police procedurals with zombies, comedy, romance and drama. Talking of messes, this is as messy as they come. I watched a few episodes before I slapped myself "what the hell are you doing watching this swill?"
  • Eye Candy - A darker show about a girl using her hacker tech skills to try and catch the serial abductor and killer of young women, including her sister. Yet the killer is just as able and a game of cat and mouse ensues. It started well, then went into pop culture territory. Besides, she continues on only because the killer refuses to murder her and get on with his job. Something about the way the film was made or the main actress or the ridiculous plot made it impossible for me to get past the second episode.
  • Allegiance - It is strange to put this series here, as I watched all the episodes so far. However, it was hope that kept me going, not the quality of the show. While it is about Russian spies in the US, living as a family, while their unknowing son is recruited into the FBI, while the antagonists are interesting, the story goes so much over the top that it becomes overcheesy. That means it starts as cheesy, then it starts to smell. Just do yourself a favor and do not watch it.
  • Suits - Yet another flashy show that I kept watching for no good reason. It is about lawyers. Young, cocky, caught in personal intrigues and competing with one archnemesis after another, while occasionally engaging in some silly romance. It makes no sense, although I have to admit that I liked the feel of the show. It just goes nowhere. They get the mood right, the actors, the characters, then they make a joke of the storyline and script.
  • Helix - Helix is the new Lost! It starts with a subject close to my heart: killer viruses, and then it crashes into la-la-land. Viruses that make people immortal and strong so they form a world controlling organization, CDC teams that act like they are terrorist splinter cells with no support, no rules, no communication, strains of the virus that turns people into The Strain like vampires, religious cults that are also genetic scientists living on their own island, etc. It starts as something, goes into something else, switches back. It's like someone was undecided what to write about and they wrote about everything then they just drew lines between the unrelated subjects and wrote a script. It is a complete and utter waster of time.
  • Elementary - I watched two seasons of this until I admitted to myself that there is no point in continuing. I like both Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, I love Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes character and so a modern Sherlock should have been something I would at least enjoy. Unfortunately, it shortly turns into another "gifted person helps the New York police" show and one can feel when the writers just completely stopped giving a damn, if they ever did before beyond pushing the pilot.
  • Scorpion - Talking about gifted persons helping the police, this had a promising concept: a genius young man creates a sort of a thinktank of gifted people then starts helping his FBI parent surrogate. While the characters were brilliant, the people writing their script obviously were not. It took a few episodes to completely fail and another ten for me to just give up hope.
  • The Librarians - God, what a complete and utter mess. A TV show spinoff of the ridiculous Librarian movies, it was completely stupid. I mean, the movies were masterpieces compared to the writing for this show. Stay away!
  • The Newsroom - This is a show that has ended and I watched all of its episodes. However, it was under duress. My wife liked it, but then I could see that she couldn't watch it anymore. I watched the last mini-season just in order to tell her it was not worth watching. It's about a news organisation that fights for its moral integrity. It would have been fun if not for the hyperactive writers that thought people could normally carry conversations like machineguns shoot bullets and the ridiculous romantic interludes that made no sense for anyone but a New Yorker raised on Woody Allen movies.
  • State of Affairs - I already ranted enough about this piece of propagandistic crap. The plot was stupid, the script was stupid, the actors couldn't give a damn. It's just bad!
  • The 100 - In theory I am still watching this young adult sci-fi TV show. In reality, I can't make myself start watching the second season. Why? Because the sci, as usual, gets completely negated by the fi. Add to this hormone induced behaviour of teenage kids and savage barbarians and you get a load of messy crap. It started really well, though. Too bad.
  • Extant - Another sci-fi show in which they dumped randomly whatever was hot at the moment: aliens, artificial intelligence, the Japanese guy from Helix, etc. Add to this the excruciating acting skills of Halle Berry and you get something unwatchable.
  • Stalker - This is one of the more interesting police procedurals. It involves a team that is tasked to handle stalkers. The new hire of the agency may be a stalker himself. The lead actors are people that I respect. However the story was so banal and lacking anything that showed any concern for the lives of the characters or victims, it was so formulaic that it ended up being something I regret having watched.
  • Arrow - OK, I am still watching The Arrow, but I do it on fast forward. It started as a fun comic book TV show with a vigilante dressed in green killing assholes with the use of arrows. It then started growing and expanding until it reached a full team of heroes, with impossible situations, history, skill learning curves, ridiculous villains. It culminated with John Barrowman having a line in the show in which he tells three other characters he is the better man for a job because he is the better at acting. Which is true, but it just shows that even the scriptwriters are tired of the mediocre talents in this mediocre show. I keep watching it because it is set in the same universe as The Flash, which is the better TV show, even if not by much.
  • Gracepoint - When Americans are redoing a show with the same script as the original show from a different country I snicker. Stoopeed Americaens, they can't read subtitles. But Gracepoint upped the ante: they redid Broadchurch, a British TV show. Not only that, they cast the same actor as the main character. I love David Tennant, but I can't possibly condone watching this. Anyway, it was cancelled after a season, and then Broadchurh continued for a second season, also starring Tennant.
  • Sleepy Hollow - An entire TV series based on the Legend of the Sleepy Hollow. Starring a colonial Mason that fought for and knew the forefathers of the United States, resurrected in our times and fighting along a black female police officer to stop the End of Times. What can possibly go wrong here? Yet it wasn't that clear cut. The comedy was fun, the original drama had impact, the romance was believable and John Noble, like in Fringe, was awesome. However the storyline, like in Fringe, descended into a chaotic mess that makes no sense and no one could ever care for. Too bad, since it wasn't a complete waste of time, especially at the beginning.
  • Madam Secretary - Just as with State of Affairs, I've ranted enough about it. It's a pure propaganda piece, with no artistic value whatsoever.
  • Haven - It started as a nice supernatural police procedural with a sexy FBI agent coming in a town where people get dangerous "troubles" which act like superpowers out of control. I kept waiting for it to get anywhere, instead it just went more and more overdramatic and adding storylines that made no sense and in the end turned into a supernatural 90120. Too bad, since it started well and has some actors that I really like.
  • Forever - Forever boring, this show is about a British doctor who never ages and, whenever gets killed, he finds himself alive and well in a nearby body of water, completely naked. And what does he do with that? He helps the police, as a forensic medic. Just as a general rule: avoid the gifted people helping the police catch bad guys shows. They never end well and they are as well propaganda pieces.
  • The Lottery - Badly made show. Bad casting, bad acting, bad scripting. The plot: people stop having children, embryos stop getting fertilized and a woman doctor finds a way. Obviously, the powers that be want to control this in a market of dwindling supplies. Could have been nice, probably, although shows about children and parently feelings never do well in the long run, but it was pure shit from the beginning.
  • Taxy Brooklyn - Someone tried to combine the French Taxi storyline with a police procedural. Sexy ass police detective, a Black French taxi driver, some intrigue and of course the obligatory connection with an old case involving a relative. But it was bad. The actors did what they could with lazy writing, but they couldn't save it.
  • The Witches of East End - Some of the most beautiful women in acting get together with ridiculously good looking men in order to act a really stupid Dynasty-like plot. Just like similarly afflicted The Originals, it is a complete waste of time, unless you are a hormonal teenager and you need something to jack off to.
  • The Leftovers - Trying to express the horrible anguish of being among the ones left on Earth after 2% of the population randomly disappears. Of course, it hints of another Bible concept: the Rapture. It felt to me overly dramatic, with people just doing stuff for no good reason and overly depressing as well for equally no good reason. It seemed to be well acted, but I just couldn't watch it.
  • Resurrection - an American remake after Les Revenants, it missed the point completely. Ended up being this drawn out mystery that led nowhere, with really unsympathetic characters and without any of the real tension from the French series.
  • Da Vinci's Demons - I know, I am still watching it, but not because it is worth watching. It is about a young Da Vinci who does everything from saving Florence to saving Italy and then going to the Americas (way before it was discovered) to look for clues about his mother, who was there previously. It is a fun to watch show, but it really goes nowhere. I liked the acting and the production values, though.
  • Crisis - An intriguing concept: some very resourceful people kidnap a lot of high profile adolescent kids, including the son of the president of the United States, then they use the parents to achieve their goals. While the show was well done, the story was just a lazy fantasy trying to surf the edge of suspension of disbelief. Again, it goes nowhere.
  • The Tomorrow People - An American take of an old British children's TV show that wasn't good to begin with, it only served to promote certain actors to better TV shows. It used the common tropes: child with mysterious father who dies doing something awesome, mother unknowing, uncle being involved somehow, evil organizations, rebellious teenagers fighting them, etc. It just collapses under the ridiculous ideas that they introduce to appease a boring viewership.
  • The Originals - Some spin-off from a vampire show that I never watched, it is about pompous asses acting even more pompous because they are the original vampires. Werewolves and witches are thrown in the mix, but the only worth mentioning attribute of the show is the pompousness. Which is annoying. So don't watch it.
  • Killer Women - Trying to get on the diversity bandwagon and get some easy money, it was supposed to be a police procedural with tough women. Didn't pan out. Was cancelled.
  • Bitten - One of the most beautiful actresses around is a werewolf. Instead of being about her biting more than she can chew (heh heh), it is about another clan/royalty obnoxiousness, while the world is blissfully unaware and rivals are trying to take power or kill them or whatever. Do you know why people don't officially acknowledge vampires and werewolves? Because they act all annoying and overbearing while being completely idiotic. Nobody wants to know these people!

OK, as an interesting experiment on my preferences vs the public preferences, I will tell you how many of the shows above were cancelled and how many were not. Ready?

Completed (meaning not cancelled, but finishing their story): 2
Cancelled: 16
Still Running or undecided: 15

So there you go, studios think 50% of the shows that I can't stand should be running and they are basing their decisions on public choice. What do you guys think?

and has 0 comments
There are these time periods in which movies and TV shows start to follow a common theme. I don't know exactly why that happens, but I suspect it's about Hollywood corporate managers stealing everything that seems to work and getting to copy each other. We seem to be living under the sign of the Spy right about now and in this blog post I will be discussing the following TV series (listed in alphabetical order):
  • Allegiance - a show about a CIA analyst who is the unknowing son of a pair of Russian KGB spies. He is also a kind of idiot savant which can remember a lot of things and make connections that no one can. It gets really hard to believe soon as it mashes up family drama with evil SVR (former KGB) machinations, CIA and FBI operations, traitors and double agents, hired assassins, plots to bring down the United States, and so on. It's one of the lesser spy shows and I don't recommend it.
  • The Americans - I believe this is the gem of the lot. The protagonists are two fake Americans, in reality KGB agents. They live like an American couple, with the mandatory two children and their neighbor is an FBI agent in the very taskforce that is supposed to catch people like them. The acting is very good and the show is a serious one, going only occasionally over the top. Also the lovely Keri Russell makes it very appealing as well :)
  • The Assets - The Assets has ended after a single season, with the successful completion of the main plot. It was a strange mix of really good acting and rather weak characterisation. It followed the story of Aldrich Ames, a famous disgruntled CIA operative who sold American secrets to the Russian KGB. As it is a true story, the entire plot was not terribly captivating, but the problem for me was with the characters.
  • Turn - About the spy ring of the American rebels against the British during the Washington era, it is an intricate and interesting story. I like most of the characters, even the villains, which is rare in films these days. I particularly like Burn Gorman in this, even if he plays this British buffoon that understands nothing of what is going on around him.
  • X Company - Set during World Word II, it is about a company of spies working in the German occupied territories. Their newest recruit is a guy who can remember everything he sees, but is a little weird. Sound familiar? Heh

From the list above, The Americans shines bright. Good acting, good directing, but also a dedication to show the political and social issues of the time. From the ones here, it is the only one who I feel can teach one something about history and about human nature in general. Turn is also rather good, but it is too reliant on a number of characters that keep ending up crossing paths in implausible situations, and many times goes a little over the top. The actors are really good in this one, though, and it is worth watching for sure. X Company is more like the typical WWII movie, with the evil Germans and the brave resistance fighters. They do attempt occasionally to enter the grey areas, like good German officers, conflicted collaborators or remorseful secret agents who have to compromise between human values and the mission, but it is not enough. When the beautiful team leader played by Evelyne Brochu reveals that she is half Jewish and the whole story goes into Holocaust territory you can feel the show going south. The Assets was brave in not employing only beautiful actors. The main character was ugly and weak and constantly fearing discovery, hard to empathize with. But so were the people who were trying to catch him, led by an obsessive woman that acted like a blood hound the entire time. Not being able to make an emotional connection to any of the characters hurt the success of this otherwise interesting story. This leaves Allegiance, which feels a lot like a fairy tale combined with a police "special" procedural (you know the type: special person helps police solve crimes) which incidentally features spies. While I cannot really recommend X Company, Allegiance is the only one that I would recommend against.

Worth mentioning is that three of these shows are based on real events. The Assets follows the exploits of Aldrich Ames, X Company is loosely based on Camp X and Turn links to the story of the Culper Ring.

That's it for pure spy shows. I am not putting in this list shows like Homeland or Legends, which also show undercover operatives, but are not specifically aimed at spying as the main subject of the plot. Tell me what you think.

and has 0 comments
The same people that did Star Trek: Hidden Frontier created the three season Star Trek: Odyssey. The first season was pretty good, beginning a story that was a combination of Voyager, Deep Space Nine and even Enterprise, the second season had fewer resources and the third season was decent, but the story was a complete mess that was very hard to grasp. Luckily enough, the superfluous homosexual stories in Hidden Frontier were almost not existent in Odyssey. Instead we were treated to intergalactic invasions, religious empires, slipstream drives, artificial wormholes, omega particles, anti-omega particles, Romulan first officer played by lovely Michelle Laurent and some decent (not good) screenplay. The technical effects, acting and directing varied from OK to really bad. They clearly learned a lot from Hidden Frontier, but the green screen continues to be their greatest enemy.

Even better, it is a crowdfunded show and you can watch it all online, for free, on YouTube. Here are the links for all three seasons:

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3


I took the name of the anime from a YouTube video, recommending it as one with a great twist in it. I watched for two episodes as the main protagonist, an ordinary guy in a Japanese highschool, starts talking to a strange girl (Haruhi Suzumiya) in his class, gets coopted in a mad scheme to create a club that investigates mysteries - specifically aliens, time travelers or espers, then adding the three other members of the club. I thought it was going to be about this club actually investigating something. But no, in the third episode we realize that the three other members are an alien, a time traveler and an esper. Soon after we find out that they know about each other and that each of them and, indeed, their entire race/organization were figments of Haruhi's imagination made reality. Haruhi apparently has the ability to create entire universes, essentially making her a goddess, albeit unknowingly.

So far so good, but then for 28 episodes I waited for anything interesting to happen. Where was that amazing twist? Apparently, the twist was that she was some supernatural phenomenon and that's it. The rest is just a typical cliched Japanese high-school story, the one where the lead character is a male boy surrounded by beautiful girls that have an almost undisclosed interest in him and that do crazy stuff together. When the last episode wasn't even closing the series, I got really mad. It was a complete waste of my time. Ugh!

OK, I have no idea what most Japanese titles want to say. Is this about a parasite who is also a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct? No, it is not. Parasyte is about a guy who gets infected by an alien metamorph, but somehow he manages to contain the infected area to his right arm. As a result, he maintains his personality, but now has a powerful alien as his right arm. It can change shape, it is very intelligent and it is generally useful when dealing with other afflicted, who usually have their brain infested, and thus are alien in their entirety.

Of course, being a Japanese anime, our hero is a high school male student after which a number of girls are pining for no good reason and that he has to fight to protect. No scenes of using his versatile tentacle arm on these girls, though. There are also some discussions about the role of these parasites and/or humans in the world, a vague ecologist propaganda that really has nothing to do with the plot and lots and lots of gore. The interaction between the human highschooler and the amoral and fiercely individualistic alien makes for most of the fun in the anime.

The series is ongoing, but I just watched the first 23 episodes and I can safely say that they could have stopped there. Probably they can come with fresh ideas, but for me the story started and ended satisfactorily with episode 23. The animation is good, but nothing spectacular, the Japanese cliches are abundant, but only barely overused and the main character is someone you can easily like and understand.

As far as I can see the anime faithfully follows the manga and episode 23 ends where the manga chapter 62 ends. There are just two other manga chapters published, so the anime and mange are pretty much synchronized. You can read the Parasyte manga online.

Just days after I was saying how great Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II was, I stumble upon this gem of a story: Star Trek Aurora. It is a 3D animated full movie set in the Star Trek universe. Even if the animation is primitive, give it a few minutes. The acting is good and the story is really nice and original, with a believable female character and a fresh perspective on the Star Trek universe. I am embedding here the full movie, but also go to their web site and YouTube channel, since they have more work coming!

and has 0 comments
A while ago I wrote a post about "unofficial" Star Trek series and movies, made by fans for the fans. Some quite awful, to my chagrin, but some quite engaging and with good production values. But I have to say that Star Trek New Voyages is just wonderful. Yet another series continuing the original, with captain Kirk at the helm of the Enterprise, it has some of the best Star Trek scripts I have ever seen and the acting is not bad, considering they are all amateurs, and the production values are good, considering that it is made by German studios (in English with American actors, have no fear!)

When I fell in love with Star Trek I did it in the time of Jean Luc Picard and The Next Generation. As much as it irks me to admit it, I liked it for the same reason my father liked it: the stories! The sci-fi was great, but it only enhanced what was already there: great stories about real people in real situations, focusing on positive traits like friendship, loyalty, love, intelligence, skill, courage, happiness, passion. With Star Trek, people have found that there is a higher ideal that they can aspire to.

Well, New Voyages has all of that: dedicated people doing the series out of passion, having the courage to get together and do something out of friendship and loyalty, but with intelligence, skill and soul. I present to you a team of people actually living their dream, and making the fans dreams come true as well. Just great stuff! And if it isn't enough, all the episodes are free to watch on their website, in high definition and with subtitles in several languages. And just in case you were wondering, original actors from the original series like George Takei (Sulu) and Walter Koenig (Chekov) are helping out.

Just watch it, it's just fantastic! I leave you with one of the best episodes (so far): World Enough and Time

In this post I want to talk to you about new stuff that links to the good old stuff of our own youth. You probably know what Kickstarter is, but just as an introduction, it is a place where people ask for money for future work. It's like a crowdsourced financing scheme for your public elevator pitch (just imagine a planet-sized elevator, though). And when I say Kickstarter, I mean the actual site and all the other similar things out there. Like... Kickstarter-like, like it?

First stop: Underworld Ascendant. The team that made Ultima Underworld, one of my all time favourite games, is doing a new one. As you can see on the Kickstarter page, it is two weeks from completing. If you loved the Ultima Underworld games (NOT the Ultima games), you could consider pitching in.

Second stop: Hero-U. Remember Quest for Glory? It was made by Sierra Games and the entire series was awesome! However the designers of the game are the Coles. They have been working on Hero-U, a modern version of the QG universe. They planned to release in the spring of 2014, but scope creep and public feedback turned the game from a simple little game to a complex and interesting concept that is planned for release in the autumn of 2015 and it is well on schedule. Check it out! They are at their second Kickstarter round.

Turning to movies and series, this time works made by and for Star Trek fans. And I am not even talking about random people doing really weird and low quality stuff, I mean real movie business people doing great stuff. Check out Star Trek Continues, a continuation of the original Star Trek series, as well as Star Trek Axanar, which seems to become a really cool movie! I can't wait for it to get out.

Update June 27th 2016:
The Axanar story has become a poster for corporate greed and stupidity. Soon after the trailers for Axanar were released, Paramount and CBS - the corporations owning the Star Trek franchise - sued the producers on copyright infringement. Funny enough, they did this before anything real was released. Their problem? The production was too big.

Having received more than 1.2 million US dollars from Kickstarter, the show was actually starting to look great. Top production qualities, professional actors, good CGI and - most of all - passionate people. Paramount and CBS alleged that this was already a commercial venture, having such budget, even if it was released freely on the Internet after production. To me, it feels as if Hollywood started to feel the heat. They realized that if this production and distribution model catches on, they will be left trying to combat piracy and hiring armies of lawyers to arrange and check distribution contracts when "the opposition" will just release free on the Internet once the budget for production is met. Consider the implications! This would be huge.

It felt like entrapment. First you let legions of people use the Star Trek moniker and universe, then you jump with a lawsuit on the people that make the most money. So the studios started to try to deflect the anger and consternation of fans and independent producers with dirty tricks like instructing J.J.Abrams to say in an interview that the lawsuit would go away, only for it to continue anyway and finally, with a set of guidelines for independent productions to which the studios would not object. The terms are ridiculous and pretty much break the entire concept of serialized Star Trek. More here, check this out: “The fan production must … not exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”

A long time ago I wrote a post about Vodo, what I thought was the future of cool little indie movies and series. Vodo didn't quite live to my expectations, but Kickstarter has taken its place and, since it is not only about movies, but all kinds of projects, it has a larger chance of surviving and changing the way the world works. Not all is rosy, though. There are voices that say that the Kickstarter ecosystem is more about promises than about delivery. Also some governmental and commercial agencies are really displeased with the way money are exchanged directly between customers and producers, bypassing borders, intermediaries like banks and tax collectors and so on. If you combine this with Bitcoin type currency, their job of overseeing all commercial transactions and taking their cut does become more difficult. I sympathise... not really.

I leave you with some videos of the projects above. Think about looking for others that are working on something you want to sponsor. You might be surprised not only by the ingenious ideas that are out there, but also about how it would make you feel to support people with the same passions as yourself.

Underworld Ascendant trailer:

Game play for Hero-U:

The full first episode of Star Trek Continues from the creators themselves:

Prelude to Axanar, a small mockumentary about the events that will be the context of Axanar:

and has 0 comments
As you know, I have been watching a lot of TV series, some of them good, some of them bad, most of them complete waste of time. As a New Year resolution (yeah, I know, lame) I have decided to create a slot system for TV series. Thus, from now on soon I will switch to a 7/3 method, meaning that I will watch only seven TV shows regularly and reserve three slots for new series, just in order to determine if they are more worth watching than the current ones. If I find a series that needs to go into the magical seven, I have to bump out another. Thus, this is the last post about TV series in this format.

So here is what I have been watching lately:
  • The Legend of Korra - The fourth and final season ended recently. It was a nice ending of an otherwise boring or annoying series. I maintain my opinion that The Last Airbender series was levels of magnitude better.
  • The Good Wife - The story of the legal troubles of Cary Agos is in the foreground, while Alicia's juggling of family, politics and job reaches ridiculous levels. Some interesting moral conundrums are created, but for me this season is kind of unfulfilling.
  • Homeland - The fourth season is focusing on an Afghani terrorist who, with the help of Pakistani intelligence, is wreaking havoc for the Americans. Some interesting dynamics, but far away from the edge of the seat feeling you got from sergeant Brody's story arch.
  • Gotham - I really expected this show to suck. Instead we get solid performances and more or less believable plots. It is acceptably dark for events happening in Gotham, as well. The girlfriend part is really annoying me, but the rest is good.
  • The Honourable Woman - The show is really dark and depressing. So much, in fact, that I couldn't watch it as much as I probably should. I always have issues with stories that show indomitable and incorruptible heroes, but the alternative extreme, where everything is gloomy and hopeless, is not much better. Just as too much fantasy, if you can't affect reality, then it is just as unengaging.
  • The Witches of East End - The series was cancelled before a third season, leaving everything in limbo, with no closure. I think this kind of behavior should be made illegal. No matter how small, the investment of the viewer in a story needs to be repaid. What would you do if you went at the cinema, watched a movie, and it suddenly stopped before the ending, saying that the producers didn't have the money to finish it? Wouldn't you ask for your money back?
  • Tyrant - Weird story, kind of hard to swallow, but interesting in many respects. The show has been renewed for a second season.
  • Extant - The series will get a second season, but I will not watch it. The show is a clumsy cocktail of sci-fi cliches, all thrown together while expecting Halle Berry to hold them together.
  • The Bridge - The series has been cancelled after the second season, while I am still waiting to watch it. I love Diane Kruger, so I probably will watch it someday.
  • Ghost in the Shell - Arise - Solid reboot. Too bad it has only four episodes which pretty much retell the same story. Meanwhile, a GiTS movie is in the works, starring Scarlet Johansson
  • The Strain - the show is pretty good. I kind of dislike the main character, while I totally love Kevin Durand. The series has been renewed for a second season.
  • Longmire - Loved the first seasons, the last was kind of over the top and it showed. The show was cancelled.
  • The Lottery - I've decided, more or less by not feeling like watching it at any time, to stop watching it. I haven't really watched enough of it to make a rational impression, but the pilot totally threw me off. Besides, this show was also cancelled.
  • Manhattan - The show has been renewed for a second season. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I like the story, but at the same time I am a bit put off by the fact that is complete fabrication.
  • Legends - The show's concept is a lot cooler than it's implementation. I like Sean Bean's interpretation, but the story is very similar to a zillion cop/government agency shows. They need to focus more on his character, rather than on pointless villains. The show has been renewed for a second season.
  • Outlander - They cancelled it! Good actors, wonderful scenery, an interesting story. A great shame.
  • The Divide - I've stopped watching it after a while, but I can't tell you why, exactly. I will remove it from my watch list. It had been cancelled, anyway.
  • The Knick - Renewed for a second season, this show is great. Good acting, nice depiction of the times, unapologetic critique of pharmaceutical companies and human nature in general. I love it!
  • Doctor Who - What are you doing, Capaldi?! I think this season of Doctor Who was the most boring and pointless of them all. Even the Christmas Special was bad. Something has to be done, if it goes like this, Doctor Who will take another decadal hiatus.
  • Forever - It is difficult to reject this series outright, because I really like the actors. However the story itself is completely boring. Other than this quirk of the main character that he cannot die, the show is a standard cop thing. You know who else cannot die? Deadpool! Isn't that slightly more interesting? Also the show is likely to get cancelled.
  • Hysteria and Hand of God - I love Ron Perlman, but that doesn't mean I liked the Hand of God pilot more than the one from Hysteria. Unfortunately Hand of God will probably get picked up for a series, while Hysteria does not.
  • Haven - It becomes increasingly difficult to give up series as you watch them for more and more time. Unfortunately for Haven, which was never good to begin with, the time has come for the "mother of Audrey/Mara" to appear. When family members appear in a story, it usually means they've run out of ideas. The fifth season will get some extra episodes in order to give viewers closure, afterwards it will probably get cancelled. See? This is how you do it when you know you are cancelling a show!
  • Z Nation - This SyFy clone of The Walking Dead should have sucked ass. Instead, it is a low budget yet fun show, with a lot of tongue in cheek and also original ideas. Who would have thought SyFy could do something entertaining? If you divide entertainment value to the show budget, Z Nation clearly wins over The Walking Dead.
  • Madam Secretary - Oh, the level of obnoxious American propaganda and overall stupidity of this show is off the charts. I refuse to watch this filth. And it appears it will get renewed as well. Ugh!
  • Sleepy Hollow - The second season has just started. This show will never be good, just admit it. Its value is purely guilty pleasure.
  • The Driver - A BBC One miniseries about a cab driver recruited by the mob, starring David Morrissey and Colm Meaney. The story is not new, the acting is good, but the show... just doesn't do it for me. Sorry.
  • Arrow - Oh, Marvel is doing something interesting. Their "phase 3" operation involves spamming the big and small screens with series and films about Marvel superheroes. Now, Arrow is not a great show, and everybody knows it, however they started doing crossover episodes with another new show, The Flash, and probably some of the story ideas will be found or hinted about in the films. Already some things that happened in Captain America movies are found and expanded upon in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Marvel's Agent Carter series. Standalone, Arrow went in the "friends and family" direction, which I despise and personally think it means they lack any original ideas. I know that there are some comics that need to be taken into consideration when creating the scripts, but still.
  • South Park - South Park sputtered lately, going from meh! to really funny from episode to episode. The Fremium episode, for example, was really cool. I remain a fan.
  • Stalker - Another police procedural with a twist. I kind of like it, but I wouldn't recommend it, if you know what I mean. The show focuses on stalkers, with the small twist that the main character (and member of the task force that fights them) seems to be one himself. Too bad that they broke the tension on that one. I think I like it because of the lead actors.
  • Marvel's Agents of Shield - Yes, I know it's an acronym, but I am tired of typing S.H.I.E.L.D. all the time. The show is pretty good! It does go into the whole "dad and mom" territory, but not too much. I will continue watching it.
  • Marvel's Agent Carter - Another Marvel TV show, this time about agent Carter, the girlfriend of Captain America. Set in the 1940's, it also has to deal with the sexism of the period. Sexy actress, some interesting characters, this shows promise.
  • Our Girl - This is an interesting series, concerning a young girl that joins the British army. She has to deal with a stupid and petty but well meaning family, fighting in the Middle East and also a love triangle (what else when a woman is concerned?). No, seriously, it's better than Twilight.
  • Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories - In an era where big budget horror TV series abound, here is this minimalist standalone episode show. And it is fucking scary! The episodes are very short and involve usually similar worlds to ours. No special effects, monsters or whatever, but the subjects are really unsettling and powerful. A must see!
  • Black Dynamite - The second season doesn't seem as funny as the first, but still a lot of fun and makes me learn many things about the American 70's
  • The 100 - I couldn't make myself watch the second season. That probably means that I feel it sucks. However I still might watch it...
  • Constantine - A series based on the Constantine comics and film. Keanu Reeves has been replaced by a skinny British wanker with illusions of grandeur. Actually, the character is a bit more layered than that, but not by much. I had high hopes for the show, but I have to admit that it is subpar and I don't like it.
  • Star Wars Rebels - At first I really hated this animated series. I thought it was too childish. Then I realized that the entire Star Wars franchise is made for little children. Really, this settles the Star Wars/Trek debate for me: the intended audience ages are slightly different, in the sense that Star Trek contains elements that have meaning for adults, as well >:-D.
  • Ripper Street - Ripper Street got cancelled, then got revived by Amazon Prime, and it is now at season 3. I have to admit that the direction of the show feels strained right now. I hope it picks up pace, because I really loved the first two seasons
  • State of Affairs - Another series that tries to be apologetical to the US foreign policy, it portrays romantic comedy star Katherine Heigl as a CIA executive, married to the son of the US president, who is a black woman, and that has dark secrets threatening to get revealed. I couldn't watch more than two episodes. It is just as surreal as her romantic films: all nice and pink, unless it's about non-Americans. They are bad!
  • The Shadow Line - Dark British police/political thriller, it is a miniseries, meaning it ends without having "seasons" and it is pretty amazing. Good acting, interesting story. It came highly recommended and it didn't disappoint.
  • Babylon - The series had an interesting pilot a while ago. I liked it, now it got picked up as a series. I want to watch it, but I haven't started yet.
  • Marco Polo - a series about the explorer Marco Polo, left by his father at the court of Kublai Khan. I like the actors and the show. The story is also interesting, showing the Mongols as more than invading horseriding barbarians, instead a nation covering half of China and with expansion intentions covering the entire known world.
  • The Newsroom - The third season was short and it was meant to give some sort of closure to the ending of the show. However is was so horribly weak, especially the last episode which was made out of fragments of the first two seasons episodes, that I ended up hating it more than I was already hating it. Good riddance!
  • The Librarians - Horrible show, trying to serialize an obscure film that wasn't that good to begin with. Don't watch it!
  • Scorpion - Leaving aside the alleged basis in reality that the show has, it is another cop show, with "geniuses" helping the FBI. Unlike Numb3rs, which had the same idea, this show is not very good at all. Characters are difficult to empathize with and the whole "normal mom helping the helpers" thing is just... offensive.
  • The Musketeers - You will close your browser window in anger for wasting you the time to read so far, but... I like this show. It is silly, has little to do with Dumas' creation, but I enjoy watching it. It probably has to do with the generously endowed beauties that seem all to like D'Artagnan
  • Elementary - I really like both Lucy Liu and Johhny Lee Miller, but this show has gone to shit. Having nothing to do with deductive skills now, it turned into yet another police procedural, with brilliant people helping the police.
  • Broadchurch - Haven't yet started watching the second season - yes! there is a second season. One that is not the Gracepoint American redo starring David Tennant. I believe Tennant has to feel a bit Doctor Whoish when he is starring in both the American remake and the second season of the original... BTW, Gracepoint got cancelled!
  • Ascension - A SyFy miniseries, in the sense that it has only three episodes per season, it involves a ship that was clandestinely sent to another solar system by Kennedy! At first I was all "what?! How can anyone even think of it?", but then the reason for it all got revealed. It also features a *really annoying* little girl that has mental superpowers and, what else?, a government conspiracy. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty nice and the human branching from a 1950's United States is a nice twist. I am awaiting the second season. Tricia Helfer is almost as cool as in BSG
  • Banshee - The third season started and it is just as satisfying as the first two. I don't know what sort of human button this show pushes, but I love it and have absolutely no idea why.

Now all I have to do is choose 7 series out of this list and implement my resolution. This list alone contains 50 series and I haven't been including new series that I haven't started watching and shows that continue in the summer season. It will be difficult, but necessary. If we consider an average of 10 episodes per season, one hour each, that means I use up around 10 hours of my time each season per series. If I remove 40 from my list, that means a staggering 400 hours of time freed per year, more than an hour per day. Of course, I will use this time to watch movies, which don't have an upper bound :) Let's see how it goes.