No Game of Thrones

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Over the last couple of summers, the housesitting job gave me opportunity to catch on Game of Thrones, but the producers of the show along with HBO decided to stretch out the wait and buzz for this show until the fall (August 27, 2017) –thus leaving me without the chance to watch the 7th season.

Even the eighth and final season is too distant (sometime in 2019) and an even a longer wait until it is finally released on DVD sometime after it concludes its run on HBO.

The previous summer, I had the chance to catch up with the show’s sixth season and watched many others like True Detective, Penny Dreadful, and Black Sails, but this summer there was not many shows except for Twin Peaks (see post) and the final season of Black Sails, (see post) thus going back to some older or less hyped shows.

Yes, I have not seen the seventh season because the time in between seasons is so long that by the time the 8th and final season is finally released on DVD it could well be three years from the time of this post.

The long-term plan (not set in stone) is probably to watch the show from the beginning to the end before I can write any comments about it.

As the summer near its end and a new school year looms, the choices of the shows viewed is towards older shows since I have no cable and the only streaming service is Amazon Prime.

I also suppose that my prehistoric taste and lack of “get it” with the modern crop of shows obviously targeting younger audiences that generally “get it” may also influenced my choices.

Next: The 4400

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Flashpoint

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Flashpoint is a Canadian police show that aired on CBS for 5 seasons, first as a Friday mid-season show and then on Thursdays in a similar role.

I was back home and with five more weeks from the beginning of the school year. No job interviews despite the frequent and regular submissions to several state and local agencies, and private companies that strangely enough advertise for job positions that apparently are either filled up or they never are filled up since they seem to have the same vacancies over and over.

Having to return to a dead end job with no possibilities of moving anywhere is hard, but is especially hard when the people who lead the department you work for are the most condescending collection of hypocrites. Do not get me wrong I have a great boss and work with good people that at least makes the days bearable, but after spending time completing a formal education my expectations were to find a job with a challenge and a paycheck to go along. Instead returning to a job that had become nothing more than daily labor without any real challenge except how to maneuver through the minefield of bullshit that is nothing but window dressing to appease some people’s pretensions of being good.

Going back to Flashpoint, the show portrayed the lives and work of Canada’s police Strategic Response Unit (SRU) team. It differs slightly in scope from the American police and SWAT shows and movies, but in close details, they are more similar than it appears, as they both serve the same purpose of handling difficult situations.

Yes, is not like the typical shoot-them-and-ask-questions-later action show typical of American police shows, but the difference is the drama since the focus of this show is more into the consequences leading to the confrontation and the aftermath of it — hence the name of the show.

Once again is a TV show (said the same thing before about Star Trek and other shows), so for the most it was interesting, dramatic, and different from American cop shows and it helped passing the time during this time of solace, negative income, and no prospects for a new job.

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The show’s cast featured Amy Jo Johnson known as the Pink Ranger in the original Mighty Morphing Power Rangers show and two movies (had a cameo in the rebooted version).

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The weeks went by very fast, as the routine of getting up, drinking coffee, reading email and news stories lead the way to hours of television until it was time to sleep until the next morning when the routine would start again, an again, and again.

 

Next: There is No Game of Thrones

The 4th of July Extravaganza Part 2

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Taken

This 10-Part mini-series produced by Steven Spielberg (Dreamworks Television) follows the lives of alien abducted people through several generations.

I bought this mini-series a few years ago on DVD and thought it would be the perfect time to watch it again.

Although a science fiction mini-series from the lore of aliens, UFO abductions, and other sorts of conspiracies, the mini-series also brings the nostalgia of past times and the everyday struggles of everyday people.

It also rely on the “Big Government’s” secret apparatus that seem unstoppable and ever knowing, and one of Spielberg’s favorite themes in some (most) of his most popular movies (directed, produced, or wrote) like “Close Encounters of The Third Kind”, “The Goonies” (Richard Donner), “Poltergeist” (Tobe Hooper and Director of Episode 1) and ET: The Extra Terrestrial” among others.

In a nutshell, the aliens came to Earth to experiment with human and alien genetics trying to breed a new being. They monitored and altered (the abductions part) people throughout generations beginning at World War II to the miniseries’ preset day (add year).

Of course, the “Big Government” was also monitoring the alien’s subjects in hopes to get an edge on other powers of the world and the alien invaders as well under the pretense of national security.

It becomes a race of sorts that builds up towards the climatic end of the miniseries when everybody converges in one place for the dramatic and ultimately benign ending.

In defense of the Big Bad Government, if something like this ever happened, the same people that makes this exaggerated claims of a government so secretive (the same government that can’t keep a simpler secret from leaking) and powerful will be the first one protesting about the government’s lack of adequate response because someone has to be blamed always.

The first time I saw the mini-series was a few years back during one of the marathons the holidays were so famous for (Thanksgiving I think) re-run in the Sci-Fy Channel.

It was an entertaining and nostalgic binging, for it made me remember the television marathons of holidays past; long before the streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others that had elevated the Internet as the leading platform for media consumption.

The mini-series also parallels the style of narrative used in other Spielberg’s productions (along with Tom Hanks) like “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” that follows different characters changing the point of view and narrative of the story throughout the episodes, thus adding depth and several perspectives to the story.

This was the last binging of the summer, but not the end of the financial struggles of the summer break. This was also the last summer housesitting as the owners of Kalua moved out of Gainesville leaving me without a source to catch up with new shows.

Next: Flashpoint

The 4th of July Extravaganza Part 1

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Battlestar Galactica (1978)

I was back in my summer job as the house and pet sitter extraordinaire. Almost to the summer’s midpoint and Kalua’s owners were visiting relatives in Orlando and here I was broke, lonely, and uninterested.

On a holiday were people are preparing their barbecues, fireworks, chairs, and other party favorites to include a wide variety of spirits and enhancing chemicals while expecting other humans to join them in a day of outdoor fun celebrating the birthday of our nation, I was indoors, alone, and on a nice comfortable chair in front of the large “tube” in the house living room ready for another binging. The binging began around the late morning on the eve of July 4 and ended late into the night of the fourth, as the sounds of fireworks were beginning to wane.

I had bought the original Battlestar Galactica on Blu-ray last Christmas and originally my plan was to watch it during the Christmas break but life got in the way (as usual) and the plans changed to either spring break or summer.

Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite television shows as a young teen. Based on the movie of the same title and it only “sin” was timing, for it was released after Star Wars and unfairly was labeled a “knockoff”. Even today, I think it is a great story despite all the references at the time of being a Star Wars knockoff.

However, for me, the story was better than Star Wars (I said it!) because the struggles of humanity in the face of extinction has more appeal than a morality story with a spaghetti-western twist, full of brigands and gunslingers along with mysticism of religious overtones.

Do not confuse or misunderstand, I like Star Wars, but the story of Battlestar Galactica has more appeal to me. It has layers, depth, and is more plausible, for it is a story of survival against incredible odds that will test our humanity in the brick of extinction.

The story of Battlestar Galactica also parallels the story of the people of Israel portrayed in the movie “The Ten Commandments (1956), as Moses (Charlton Heston) led his people out of the tyranny and enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians only to wonder for a time in search of place to call home.

Yes, I know it is a biblical story just not much into religion and I think the movie is a good visual reference to make the comparison; furthermore, the movie had a great cast, great direction, and at the time top of the industry special effects (won Oscar for Best Movie in 1956).

In contrast, Battlestar Galactica used many references from early civilizations mostly Egyptian and Greek in their visuals (warriors’ helmets) and names (Apollo, Cassiopeia, etc.) despite being in a similar predicament as Moses and his people as they escaped and struggled to survive.

As the story goes, the Jewish people found the Promised Land and settled, but the ragtag band of human survivors along with Commander Adama (contrary to Moses) never did, as the powers that be (TV executives) cancelled the show after one season.

The box set has good packaging and the quality of the blue-ray transfer is very good giving the appearance that the show is newer than it is. Many additional features like interviews and documentaries enhance the box set that also includes the full screen and wide screen versions of the show.

According to one of the documentaries within the disk extras, it was one of the highest rated pilots aired at the time and kept a decent rating throughout the first episodes.

As I mentioned before, the show suffered from the Star Wars Syndrome (or exhaustion maybe), as many people (usually the same people) deemed it as a cheap knockoff of Star Wars suffering the same fate as many science fiction shows and movies of the time.

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It got reprised a few years later as Galactica 1980, and it was a disaster that was cancelled before it got worse, for it was really a mercy-killing since it never was able to connect with fans of the show.

Only Lorne Greene (Commander Adama) returned and some of the original characters made appearances in some episodes like Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) in the “Last Warrior”, (titled in IMDb as The Return of Starbuck) and perhaps the only good episode of the failed series reboot.

It was a bitter ending to a great story that was far more interesting although less appealing ($$$$) than Star Wars.

Some years later or a long time ago in a science fiction network not far away, a remake mini-series of Battlestar Galactica made its debut, and with great interest and patience I sat down and saw this new version.

Like the movie, the mini-series led to a show that lasted four seasons and had an ending, as it survived the networks executives’ shortsightedness.

An achievement that even the detractors of the new show can agree was better than the failed original version.

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Even Richard Hatch (the original captain Apollo) who was an avid supporter of a reboot of the show for many years also disagreed in some of the changes to the original show, but became involved and was casted as a new character (Tom Zarek) for the new version of the show.

He died in February 2017, but for many years was an avid supporter of the original show and was directly or indirectly involved in keeping the conversation open among TV executives about bringing back the show. Read his comments on the show and the story of Battlestar Galactica on his website RichardHatch.com

Doing the research fro this post, I came across an interesting article about Mr. Hatch from Otako No Culture (on WordPress) titled “The World of Science Fiction According To Richard Hatch” (2015) that chronicles his carreer as an actor, writer, producer. and overall human being.

Watching the show after so many years (last time in the original Sci-fy Channel) brought memories of my youth.

Memories of a shy pudgy kid that lived in an imaginary world of his making, as a way to cope with the realities in his real life.

Next: The 4th of July Extravaganza Part 2

Star Trek: Enterprise

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The Crew of the NX-01 (Enterprise)

The show is another spinoff of Star Trek (the 3rd; Deep Space 9 and Voyager), and follows the storyline that began in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) about the development of the first warp-engine, the first flight, and subsequent First Contact (with a Vulcan ship passing by) that changed human history.

As many stories within the Star Trek universe, this was an appealing and new story since it goes back to the beginning – before the benign and happy Federation of Planets.

The opening sequence and choice of music sets the mood of cavalier times and attitudes that differed from the more structured, rigid, and classic overtone all previous shows and movies had.

It is the baby steps of mankind into space, and they were rough, full of stumbles, not pretty or smart, nor the usual calculated and correct steps previously seen in the franchise.

Captain Jonathan Archer is the son of Henry Archer and the one of the developers of the Warp-5 engine and the designer of  the NX-01 post Zefran Cochrane historic flight.

After a series of unfortunate events (not related to Archer), he gets the opportunity to become the captain of the NX–1 (Enterprise).

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NX-01 (Enterprise)

The show goes on with the misadventures of Archer and his crew stirring the status quo and causing conflict among the galaxy.

Many “critics” or maybe franchise “purist” of the Star Trek Universe disliked (mild way to describe it) Captain Archer’s hit-and-or-miss approach, but the whole concept of the show is the beginning of an era in human history and with all new beginnings, mistakes are going to be made.

He expressed his naiveté as a space explorer and maybe as a captain and was candid enough to admit his shortcomings during the show.

“We’re going to stumble, make mistakes… I’m sure more than a few before we find our footing. But we’re going to learn from those mistakes. That’s what being Human is all about.”– Jonathan Archer, 2152 (Shockwave, Part II)

The criticism of his personification parallels real-life as part of the growing movement of “correctionalism” or to simply rewrite history with a more appealing narrative or simply editing off sections that we do not like with the only purpose of feeling better and more advanced that what we really are.

Correctionalism is not to be confused with political correctness because in reality and in practice language and words do have meaning and meaning gives depth and perception to our lives as a collective called society or community.

This notion or “belief ” held by the usual collection of people who always are critical of results and events through human history from the very comfortable perspective of time or what sports fan would refer to as “arm chair quarterbacking”.

It is notable that Season 3 was a season-long continued story that developed over every episode (The Xindi), and for many reasons (it was somewhat a new format for this type of shows at the time) it did not set well with some viewers. It was a different time when television was the leading platform to deliver media long before streaming services and at the beginning of pay channels developing shows almost full time.

Once again, is Star Trek and is a TV show, but seeing the reviews on IMDb (a future story) people seems to either love the show to no fault or hate it with some of the “reviewers” writing extensive posts with many acronyms and abbreviated initials sounding a bit intense and somewhat pompous.

Some of these fans may argue that I am not a fan, and do not understand the fervor and energy die-hard fans have, and to that effect, they are right, as I am not nor want to be a fan of anything, and sometimes wonder how does it feel to have such intensity and passion for something. Therefore, I am but a spectator and humble commentator with no expectations or illusions that I am magnanimous or above anybody quite the contrary.

The show was cancelled and just as other sci-fi shows like Farscape and Firefly to name a few, the cancellation came amidst different expectations, thus leaving the production and cast scrambling to give the show an end and not leave the fans “hanging” like other science fictions shows of the past. Many times a show is cancelled after production is wrapping-up the season and getting the cast and crew is almost imposible for a re-write or re-shoot.

The result was a final episode was “choppy”, and full of unordered scenes that were but a series of patches, and re-writes to give the show an ending, but not the intended or elaborated one planned by the production.

Some shows are just lucky like Babylon 5 conceptualized as a 5-year plan that almost collapsed by the end of its fourth season. Its production was negotiating with several networks for season 5, but was prepared to end the show on season 4 and had shot the final episode when TNT (Turner Network Television) agreed to broadcast season 5 on prime time (another story for another time). Yet, the season 4  new ending (The Deconstruction of Falling Stars) was similar to Enterprise final episode (These are the Voyages…) because it felt out of place, somewhat different, and in short – weak.

This is the last Star Trek show I had watched (see Voyager), for I have not seen DS9 or the new Discovery (on CBS All Access streaming service).

Thanks to FANDOM for: Star Trek website for the background information on the show, and to The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for the information about the shows commented in this blog.

Next: The Forth of July Extravaganza… 

Banshee (MAX)

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Searching for something to watch on Amazon Prime, I had passed on this show several times before until this week were there was not much else that interested me.

The passing days had become a new routine of waking up, making coffee, checking emails (for jobs and others), news (mostly pointless bits of information), and the highlight of the day – hours of television until taking a break for lunch.

As an introvert, I have adapted well to my reclusive life maybe because accepting who I am had made me contempt. I rather be contempt than happy because there is no possible way a person be and remain happy 24 hours a day 365 days out of the year, and people that seek this estate are probably having more issues than any introvert who is confortable with his or her reality.

Going back to my commentary, Banshee created by David Schikler and Johnathan Tropper and lasted four seasons (2013-2016) on Cinemax (MAX).

In short, is an adrenaline rush full of choreographed stunts, fights, guns, steamy sex, and lots of bad guys that seem to descend into Banshee, Pennsylvania turning the town into a favorite destination.

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Welcome to Banshee, PA

Of course, Banshee has its own criminal enterprises and soon it becomes a war between many interests and strange allegiances.

It all began when ex-con (Anthony Starr), released from prison after 15 years, arrives in Banshee looking for the love of his life (now married with a new identity and family). He stopped at a bar (owned by an ex-boxer and ex-con) and while drinking and casing the place out, an argument between two local hustlers that arrived shortly after him and the bar owner (Frankie Faison, The Wire) heats up. As the argument boiled up to a point where extreme violence was imminent, another newcomer, Lucas Hood, gets involved with dire consequences when he is killed as the result of his intervention. As the local hustlers fled the bar, the ex-con (tsk, tsk!, no spoilers) and the bar owner find out that Haas came to Banshee to become the new town’s sheriff.

The ex-con ceases the opportunity and becomes Lucas Hood taking the dead man’s identity as the new sheriff of Banshee. This set of events gives the ex-con the chance to seek out his ex-girlfriend (having all the resources of local law enforcement), remain in Banshee, and use his position to make some money.

In every episode sheriff Hood (the ex-con) and the cast of dysfunctional characters engage in conflict that is resolved with violence of all forms; some incredible fist or gunfights or both.

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In every episode, “sheriff Hood” or somebody gets beat, as bruises, blood, and sweat adorns the screen in this sexy and sleek crime, love, and betrayal drama.

Amazon Prime only had the first two seasons, so it was later on the year when I had the chance to watch the rest; however, it is an entertaining show if you like a high octane, fast-pace, choreographed stunts (some unreal but cool), gratuitous sex and violence, action-packed kind of show.

Next: Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001)

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Star Trek: Voyager

The show was the second spinoff of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994).

It was a high point for the Star Trek franchise, as Star Trek: The Next Generation had completed their historic run (7 seasons) on syndicated TV after outlasting the original Star Trek (3 seasons).

Furthermore and following with the original show, the Next Generation’s crew had moved to the big screen with their first feature film Star Trek: Generations (1994).

Moreover, the franchise’s first spinoff, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 or DS9 for short (1993–1999), was beginning its 3rd season when Voyager debuted on January 1995 in the newly UPN (United Paramount Network) network instead of syndication.

Well, it is Star Trek after all, and as such, it continued the voyages started by the USS Enterprise some 30 years ago with some twists along the way new to the viewers.

However, in the tradition and vision of Gene Roddenberry, a vision every science fiction fan had wished becomes reality one day – some of us still do.

In keeping with Roddenberry’s vision, the show featured the first woman as the captain of the USS Voyager, as the franchise continued to bring characters from all genders and races (alien races too) – real diversity and inclusion.

This spinoff featured CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) worlds (a new technology at the time), aliens (Duh!), and as usual in the Star Trek universe presenting the better side of humanity (well, not always) that after centuries of raping, pillaging, and killing each other finally evolved enough to go to the stars.

The show’s main story begins when the USS Voyager found itself lost in the Alpha Quadrant far away from home, far away from everything, and the promise of the ship’s captain to get the crew home.

During the seven year run, it became about surviving while traveling home, and every week the Federation’s, godlike commandment, The Prime Directive clashed, conflicted, or threatened the survivor of the crew.

There were some notable episodes like 37’s” the season two premiere featuring NYPD’s Sharon Lawrence as Amelia Earhart bringing a new twist to a long time mystery as Earhart’s disappearance was the work of aliens (who would have thought).

Another episode, “Critical Care”, the 5th episode of the 7th and last season about a planet with a “unique” (not really) healthcare system that can easily be a posible outcome of today’s rollercoaster healthcare system (a theme another discussion).

Voyager concluded its journey in May 2001, and by September another spinoff show, Star Trek: Enterprise, was debuting in the same network (UPN) as Voyager.

By 2005, Enterprise was canceled as the franchise was suffering from exhaustion and was out of television. It has since gone back to the big screen with a remade of the original cast, and lately another spinoff (the 4th), Star Trek: Discovery on CBS: All Access streaming service.

A lot has changed in the world of television and in general since the opening sequence of the original show in September 1966:

Space:

The final frontier

These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise

Its 5-year mission

To explore strange new worlds

To seek out new life and new civilizations

To boldly go where no man has gone before… link

The franchise’s evolution over the years seems to defy new frontiers with every passing year, and it is an example of perseverance and luck, for an unsuccessful TV show that was canceled after only three seasons and went to become one of the most influential shows in popular culture.

During the subsequent days, I flipped and watched other shows until the week of the “4th of July Extravaganza”.

Note:

I never got the chance to watch these shows during their first run because it was a transition period in my life as I left my birthplace of San Juan, Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

It was a time with many changes of addresses, odd hours, odd jobs, and yes – no cable.

At first, there was no television and after a walking trip to a nearby pawnshop that featured a stop by police as in the trip back, the suspicious men (my black roommate and myself) were seen carrying a TV set while walking on nearby streets.

After the adventure, the next problem was managing to get an antenna capable of getting some local channels.

Clothes hangers and wires managed to solve the problem, but after that it was sharing time as the two other roommates in the apartment wanted to watch the NBA playoffs.

Many of the shows of that particular time in my life were scattered with gaps and missed cliffhangers or defining points.

Shows like Silk Stockings, Forever Knight, Babylon 5, and Star Trek both DS9 and Voyager became blips since there was no continuity and watching this shows out of order ended up in losing all interest in them until now.

Next: Banshee