Eruditorum Presscast

The Eruditorum Presscast for Thin Ice, featuring Caitlin Smith of the delightful 101 Claras to See project, is now available for your listening pleasure. Get that here.

You may also have noticed my failure to put up a Hannibal post on Tuesday. Whoops. Let's try Saturday for that.

Flight Simulator: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Crossroads of Time (SEGA Genesis, Super NES)

While both official and unofficial video games based on Star Trek: The Next Generation were quick to release upon or soon after the show's premier in 1987 and have been in no short supply over the years (my inability to play almost all of them when they were current notwithstanding), that wasn't the case for sister show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It took a good two and half years after “Emissary” before Commander Sisko and Co. started getting representations in video game form, and when it finally happened it happened a weird way.

Without rehashing the whole history of the video game medium again, it's perhaps unsurprising that the earliest Star Trek: The Next Generation video games were fanmade or otherwise small-scale affairs for DOS and similar personal computers of the mid-to-late 1980s. The first proper “mainstream” Next Generation game I was aware of (at least, the first on a video game console) didn't land until 1993 on the Game Boy. There is a very good reason for this, of course: It wasn't until 1993 that it was eminently clear Star Trek: The Next Generation was a pop culture juggernaut that deserved more recognition ...

Thin Ice Review

My god Sarah Dollard is good. I’ve said before that a really important aspect of the Capaldi era is the way that Moffat has found a new generation of writers. And while I’ll be gutted if Mathieson or Harness don’t make the jump to the Chibnall era, it’s increasingly Dollard who’s my real canary in the coal mine for the Chibnall era. If she’s on the list of writers, I’ll breathe a little easier. If she’s not, well, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to muster any optimism. This was fantastic - the first story to rise to the self-evidently ludicrous task of writing post-Brexit/post-Trump Doctor Who.

Where to start, I suppose, is with the place Smile fell most frustratingly short: the characterization of Bill. Thin Ice was shot in the next production block after Smile, so would have had virtually as little to go on with the character as Cottrell-Boyce did. And yet in her hands Bill feels like a character. Dollard’s basic approach to this is at once obvious and effective: she builds out around the fact that Bill is black. Obviously there’s a comparison to The Shakespeare Code to be made here, right down to the major ...

The Anti-Potter, Part 2: Jeremy Corbyn and the Billionaire's Authorthority

Should Jeremy Corbyn somehow manage to win the United Kingdom’s General Election on 8th June, J. K. Rowling will be forced to take a principled stand against his rule.  Which will presumably mean that she’ll go and sulk in a tent for several months.  After all, she’s been vocal, even vociferous, in her opposition to his leadership of the Labour Party since before it started.

Well… it might not be a tent.  She’s a billionaire, remember.  This is something that people seem to forget, at least in effect.  But I imagine sulking would form a large part of it, even if it took place in very comfortable surroundings.  And snarking on Twitter.  That would be a big part of it too.  She’s done a lot of that about Corbyn already.  She has tweeted and retweeted truckloads of declarations of his unelectability, his incompetence, etc.  She piled on in the fake ‘Labour anti-semitism’ row, in which a handful of incidents - ranging from the piffling to the wantonly misconstrued to the fabricated - were talked up by the media into the chimera of a Labour Party stuffed with raging Jew-haters, with Corbyn as either Anti-Semite-in-Chief (Ken Livingstone presumably being his deputy) or as ...

Eruditorum Presscast: Smile

Another Thursday, another Eruditorum Presscast, this time with Daniel Harper and I talking about Smile, which neither of us disliked particularly, and which both of us found loads to complain about.

If that sounds fun, listen here. If that doesn't sound fun, LISTEN ANYWAY OR WE'LL TURN YOU TO FERTILIZER.

Permanent Saturday: Axis Mundi

In Garfield, everything has a voice, or has the potential to have one. Birds, mice, spiders and household appliances (not to mention cats and dogs) all have readable internal dialogue. Everything has a soul. Everything is a potential spiritual agent. Naturally it's only the animals, plants and objects who display regular awareness of this fact, because Garfield is about Western modernity and we as humans have forgotten such things in our society. Recall, however, that it is us as the audience who have privileged access to the thoughts and concerns of these creatures even as the humans in the strip do not. There's hope for us yet.

(Of course, the strip goes back on forth about this depending on what makes the better joke on that day. If you are still looking for the laws of physics underlining the “Garfield universe” you are manifestly missing the point of this series and are approaching it utterly the wrong way.)

This level of awareness comes, however, at the price of extremely heightened empathy. Those who feel deeply their connection to the myriad other souls in nature may also find their feelings of suffering and loss to be magnified as ...

The Proverbs of Hell 5/39: Coquilles

COQUILLES: Coquilles are shells, referring either to shellfish like oysters or to casseroles served in a shell-shaped dish. The poetic meaning would involve something about how people are just shells for the higher angelic spirit within. The crass (and likely intended) meaning is a visual pun based on what happens when you flay wings off of someone’s back.

POLICE OFFICER: Do you have a history of sleepwalking, Mr. Graham?

WILL GRAHAM: I’m not even sure I’m awake now.

The best interpretation of this line, of course, is that even Will has noticed the weird way in which the sky moves at the wrong speed and fucking stags keep showing up, and has come to realize he lives his life in a strange and murderous dreamscape. Either way, though, he’s right.

HANNIBAL: I’d argue good old-fashioned post traumatic stress. Jack Crawford has gotten your hands very dirty.

WILL GRAHAM: Wasn’t forced back into the field.

HANNIBAL: I wouldn’t say forced. Manipulated would be the word I’d choose.

Manipulation is a vital yet inchoate topic in Hannibal, and this line sets up much, both about the next episode and about Jack. Later in the episode, as Jack tells Will that he’d feel guilty ...

Smile Review

It’s hard to avoid the “damn with faint praise” opening of “well it’s better than In the Forest of the Night.” In a whole bunch of very obvious ways, after all, it is. The balance between the ridiculous and the dramatic is better struck. Cottrell-Boyce sets himself the non-trivial Ark in Space challenge of spending half the episode with nothing but the TARDIS crew wandering around an alien setting figuring out the rules, and he generally rises to the challenge. And there’s a sense that he’s figured out what the program can and can’t do well, and so is avoiding pitfalls like relying almost entirely on child actors or an outlandish visual spectacle that’s ultimately going to amount to throwing some traffic lights in the middle of a Welsh forest and pretending it’s good enough.

The “damn with faint praise” aspect, however, comes from the fact that you can’t actually put the bar much higher than “oh, hey, Cottrell-Boyce avoided fucking up this time.” The script still never soars. Worse, as with In the Forest of the Night, the moments where it tries to soar are generally its weak points. The script has an awkward habit of leering ...

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