Category Archives: Television

A Taste of Armageddon

The other night we watched an episode of the original Star Trek — A Taste of Armageddon. This was episode 23 of season one.

These shows hold up well.  I don’t watch much prime time TV these days. Actually, I don’t watch any, so this next statement is just me talking trash, yet I stand by it with all the conviction of a Trumper saying no one would ever vote for Joe Biden. Here is the statement…

No prime time show now deals with the variety of topics that the original Star Trek did. From this episode, about a computer-simulated war with real casualties, to overpopulation, to racism and more, this show covered a lot of ground, and did it well.

The versions you see these days, sadly, have much better computer graphics substituted for the special effects shots. They look great, but I’d rather see the old ones. They aren’t critical for the story, and is it really necessary to go back and “fix” everything?

Toward the end of this episode, there’s a great scene where Spock, the ambassador, and three enterprise crewmen run into a room to rescue Kirk, only to find that he has single handedly captured 8 or 9 people. Do not mess with Kirk. There’s also a great Kirk soliloquy I always call ” I will not kill TODAY,” about humankind’s killer nature and our ability to overcome it.  I can’t do it from memory, but like most of these shows I can speak it all right along with the cast.

I enjoy reading the history of these shows and films, and learning a bit about the actors.  Gene Lyons, who played Ambassador Robert Fox in this episode, died at 53 in 1974. This episode was broadcast in 1967, so he only only lived 7 years after this was aired. I suppose he would have been 46 at the time he made this. He looked a lot older ot me. He died of alcoholism. Apparently Lieutenant DePaul was played by an actor names Sean Kenney, who played the disabled and burned version of Captain Pike in the episode The Menagerie. I always figured the same person played Pike in the wheelchair and in the flashbacks, but no.

The idea of the antihero is so played out. Wolverine, Batman, all that stuff. Tiresome. Star Trek didn’t have that. It always lifted the human spirit up.


Another TV Post

Yes, another TV post, from the guy who doesn’t “really watch that much TV.”

Well, this is more of a Netflix post, really.

Back in the 1990s and very early 2000s, my wife and I looked forward each week to watching the X-Files. What a great show. Nevermind that a lot of the alien conspiracy story arch details didn’t really make much sense. All that stuff was creepy and weird, and everyone loved it, and so did we.

A couple of nights ago I started watching the series again, in order, on Netflix. I’ve watched the first three so far, and it’s just as good now as it was then.

The show went nine seasons. Even Star Trek: the Next Generation only went seven seasons. It is rare for a show I like to go very long, but the X-Files continued to deliver right to the end.

That’s about all I have to say about it…just digging it a lot.


TV Notes

I often write about how I don’t really watch any new TV shows. Today I want to write about two new shows that I’m watching.

OK, I am watching them on Hulu. It’s not like I’m rearranging my life around them. But here they are.

The Flash. I like this new show. Three or four episodes in, and I think they have done a good job adapting the comic book material to the small screen. The effects are good. I’m hoping that the Flash gets faster and discovers more powers as the series continues.

Constantine. I watched episode 1 last night, and it was really cool. Good magic/demonology kind of stuff. Kind of like Dr. Who, but not as stupid. (Sorry – I kind of like Dr. Who, but it can be pretty dumb sometimes). I am praying to Satan that this show be successful and continue for a few seasons.

That is all.

TV Shows, etc

A couple of month ago I watched the first season and a half or so of Breaking Bad, on Netflix. It was pretty good, but I’m done with it. It was compelling,  but depressing. I don’t need to be bummed out.

This week I tried to watch the first episode of Game of Thrones on some streaming service. Wanted to see what the fuss was about. Turns out it isn’t available on any streaming service at all. HBO and their ilk want you to be tied to them and the cable companies. I see that I can “buy” the whole thing streaming from for $38. Fuck that. I don’t need to own it. I just want to see it.  So I’m done with that too.

Same thing happened on the Wil Wheaton Project, on SyFy.

Thus, I have penned this excellent open letter to the Television Industry:

Dear TV content producers,

There’s this thing called the internet. It’s pretty cool. Y’all should look into it, because pretty much the whole world already is, and y’all are sadly and pathetically behind the curve. Here I am, actively seeking to waste my time watching your shows, and you make it as hard as possible to do so, because some bean-counter is watching the bottom line on a show that has already made you millions of dollars.

Your poor business decisions are not going to suddenly make me see the error of my ways and decide to subscribe to more expensive cable TV options. In fact, they are driving me further away.

Your shows, while sometimes entertaining, are not that boner-inducing. So get with the reality-based program, and put the old seasons up on NetFlix and Hulu and all that.


A Guy Who Reads


Last Night’s Cosmos

I find myself writing a lot about the new Cosmos series. I had to miss it a week ago, but last night it was once again great.

I think it is mostly written by Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, and delivered masterfully by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Last night’s episode explored the interrelationship between the earth science and life sciences — how have and do geological processes of the planet (as well as things like the gravitational tug from other planets) effect the development of life on earth, and then how does life effect the planet.

Once again, Cosmos took the opportunity to clearly explain how we are fucking up the climate through our burning of fossil fuels, drawing parallels to the great extinction events of the past. I hope people are watching this show, and I hope at least a few people are actually paying attention and maybe deciding that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are not the people from whom to seek scientific information.

Beautiful, powerful, moving television. So unusual!

Doctor Who

When I was in highschool in the early 1980s, the local PBS station began showing Doctor Who. The D&D goobers at my school were super excited. I had never seen it. My first exposure to it was some tall geek at school walking the halls with his Doctor Who scarf. I asked my friend Brian what was the deal with Doctor Who. He said, and I paraphrase as I can’t remember his exact words, “it’s stupid and gay”.tom-baker-doctor-who

Upon closer examination, but not close enough to actually watch an episode,  I concluded that yes, it was gay. How can you look at a picture like this one and not conclude “gay”? At least when you are 16.

Now, keep in mind that I played D&D and all that stuff too. But I was part of a small group of friends who had been given the Gift of Shame, and we kept our gaming pretty quiet. We didn’t advertise our nerd tendencies. We were all reasonably attractive kids, so there was a possibility that girl might actually have some interest in one of us. This was way before the nerds took over the world and comic conventions hired models to dress up as sexy versions of super heroes to walk around creating nerd boners. Believe me, I went to a few “cons”, and I never saw a female that didn’t look like a Horta. And to dig myself out of the sexist hole I seem to be digging myself into, let me just admit that the dudes at the gaming and/or comic cons I attended mostly looked like the banjo kid from Deliverance. There’s nothing stranger (OK, maybe there is) than going to convention of comic book and gaming people and not looking the part. Cons are their domain, not yours (unless you are one of them). So if you go, and you look, act, and speak like a normal human, just chill. You are not in control there, and that’s OK. Just smile at the big fat green Orion Dancing Girl from Star Trek who is about explode out of her outfit. She’s not interested in you at all. You are not one of her people.

But I digress..

Well,  flash forward thirty-something years. My 13-year old  nephew told me a few weeks ago he was digging Dr. Who.

Now, I love this kid. He is about #2 in my list of favorite humanoids, second only to my wife. He’s a smart kid, who’s into science, and nature, and stuff like that. And I’m now 49 years of age, so I decided I would revisit Doctor Who, educating myself as to the show’s lore and mythos (see — good D&D words!), that I might watch a few episodes with the kid and enjoy them.

I watched a number of episodes, ranging from the first season to some of the more recent ones. Here are a few thoughts and observations based on my limited watching…

  • It’s not gay. It’s just British. It is easy to confuse the two.
  • I like it. Even though the effects are pretty cheesy in most of the seasons, it has some pretty cool concepts.
  • I like it that the Doctor isn’t a jock. He doesn’t fight, he doesn’t use a gun. He outwits his opponents.
  • The aliens and people from other times all have British accents.
  • The aliens who look like giant salt shakers with a plunger and cheese grater for arms and a vibrator for an eye are also cool.
  • The three guys who have played the Doctor in the new seasons are all younger and more hipsterish looking than the previous incarnations. I guess this makes the show my palatable to a modern audience. Can’t have any “old” people on there, can we.
  • The premise of the show involves both space and time travel, so it allows the writers to do damned near anything they want.
  • I think they stole the idea for Sid and Marty Croft’s “Lost Saucer” from Dr. Who.
  • When watching this show, don’t think about it too hard. Don’t worry about why someone would design an alien cyborg that only has one easy-to-damage eye. Don’t worry about shit like that. Just roll with it. Plunger for a hand? Yeah — ughhh — just ignore it.

So I’ll probably watch a few more of these shows. They are entertaining. The early ones are a bit slow-moving and hard to get through, I’ll admit, but not too bad.



Out of the Loop

A confession here.

I have only seen the first episode of Breaking Bad. I found it amusing and engaging.

But not enough to pay for the more expensive cable package. You see, I have the “locals only” package.  It costs about $20 a month after taxes and fees, and gets me the local TV stations (in HD) via cable.

Occasionally there’s a show that I or my wife decide we’d like to watch, like the Sopranos or Mad Men. In that case, we’ll wait until it’s available via streaming Netflix and watch it there. Good enough. No commercials that way.

I was going to write this post in a very high-falootin’ way, saying all kinds of stuff about how TV is for morons, there’s nothing good on, etc. That’s all mostly true. Network TV is mostly crap. If you disagree with that assessment, do me a favor. Tune in to America’s Got Talent or the Voice, or try finding anything on during a weekday that doesn’t involve paternity tests. I think you will change your mind.

Occasionally there will be something on network television that mildly interests me. For example, last week Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD started. I watched the first episode, and being a comic book nerd I kinda liked it. It won’t last. No network show I like lasts more than one or two seasons. If it does, it quickly degenerates into not-so-good. I dug the show 24. It was exciting. There were a few others shows during that time period that were kind of good, at least initially. We used to watch Alias, but after season two it went from entertainingly implausible and fun to mind-lurchingly stupid.

Did I just invent a new term? Has anyone ever in the history of the English language written “mind-lurchingly”. I think I have just contributed to the zeitgeist.

Speaking of lurching, a couple of years ago my friend Mike turned me on to the show The Walking Dead. I watched an episode with him and his family. It was fun. I’m not really a zombie fan, but what the hell, it was enjoyable. I watched the first episode on Netflix a while back. It was kind of fun too. If you want escapism (and who occasionally doesn’t?) why not zombies trying to eat people? It’s a lot better than network stuff like CSI: Necrophiliac Sodomizer Division.

Note: if you are looking for a “thesis” in this post – some indication of where I’m going with this, stop. I’m just thinking and typing.

Apparently the good writers, good ideas, and good actors all go to the “pay TV” channels, like HBO, and whatever the hell Breaking Bad was on. That is where the money is. The networks have decided that it is easier and more profitable to put Bovine-America on display on reality shows, like a Elephant dressed in a tutu, dancing on tippy toes while balanced on an inverted cup and saucer, while eating Twinkies and guzzling down Coors Lite. Sadly, that elephant is getting more and better exercise than the viewers. They’re at home waiting for the Ambien to kick in, not realizing that it already has.

So it seems that if you are going to watch and enjoy TV, it really is necessary to get a nice “package” of channels.

Or, you can do what I do. Just watch the oldies channels like MeTV or Cozi TV. I can’t say TV has gotten any better since the Twilight Zone, Star Trek, the Six Million Dollar Man, Lost in Space, or Night Gallery. That’s about all you really need. I’ll admit, the Six Million Dollar Man actually doesn’t rate with the others in that list, but I have a soft spot for the bionic man.

When you watch TV like that, see, there is a sense of freedom you get. No. Not just a sense of freedom. But Freedom with a capital F. You don’t have to be there at a particular time to see a particular new episode, because you’ve seen ’em all before.

Spock communicates with the Horta, in one of TV's finest dramatic moments.

Spock communicates with the Horta, in one of TV’s finest dramatic moments. It don’t git no better. Nope.

You don’t have to worry about setting your TIVO up to record some shit. You don’t even need TIVO.  You just sit down after a fine evening of exercise, skateboarding, music playing, reading, class, or [insert name of other productive mind/body-embiggening activity here], turn on the tube, and get stoked that the Star Trek episode about the Horta is on.

Note: as I sit here doing a proof-read of this post, I realized that for a person who really doesn’t watch a lot of TV, I tend to write about it a lot. Like most of us, I watched a lot of TV as a kid. I’m surprised I can even walk, given the amount of time I spent splayed out in front of the TV when I was a kid. Were it not for skateboarding, I’m sure I would currently weigh 700 pounds, and be preparing for one of the weight loss reality shows so popular now. Anyway, due to the frequency of my TV posts, I just created a “television” category for the blog.  I’m obsessive that way.

OK, time to wrap this up. Regarding Breaking Bad. Apparently last night was the final episode extravaganza of the series. It is all over the interwebs.  A friend of mine posted this great cartoon today. I think that having seen the first episode and generally knowing what it is about, and then totally understanding and finding this comic funny, proves that Episode 1 probably is all you need to see. The essentials are all there, the rest is just fluff.

But watch the whole thing if it brings you pleasure.

OK – enjoy the cartoon….