Special Editions: Project GalacTALKa (part 2 of 3)

December 2, 2012

BSG2-640

All this has happened before, and all this will happen again. Yes, we’re back with the second installment of our BSG segment repackaging.


Special Editions: Project GalacTALKa (part 1 of 3)

November 21, 2012

People often ask us when we’re going to do a BSG episode, forgetting that we did about a dozen. When we tell them about our Project GalacTALKa segments, instead of seeking them out they ask us when we’re going to put out a compilation of all our BSG bits. Well, since Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome recently hit the YouTubes, we figured this is as good a time as any.

So here is part 1 of 3 of our journey into one of the most celebrated sci-fi televisions shows of all time.

 


Episode 83 – Battlestar GalacTALKa Series Finale / True Blood

October 5, 2010


Those who’ve listened to the episode already know that we didn’t GalacTALKa about the finale very much. Perhaps not as promised, but pretty much as expected. It wasn’t our fault though. For one thing True Blood is a lot more interesting to talk about. Those are some characters you can sink your teeth into.

Fear not, further talk on the BSG finale, Daybreak, will probably jump its way into future episodes. Perhaps if we ever do a Diana Gabaldon special. Because I will have even less to say about Outlander than Mandi did about the BSG finale. Or exactly the same amount: “It’s fine.” Except that would be a complete lie. I had to put it down at page 76 feeling that it is the antithesis of “fine.”

But in case we never get around to a real breakdown of Daybreak on the podcast, here’s a few thoughts we had.

1) Question: Why didn’t the fans like the finale? I’m not exactly sure I understand what upset people so much. It was, as Mandi said with a slight sigh of resignation, “Fine.”  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their comments at the time it aired, trying to stay spoiler-free, but now I’m wishing I did.

Because for anyone who actually enjoyed the series for what it was, Daybreak had to be pretty much the perfect finale. Which means it was only “just fine” but still, what did people expect? Did anyone really think the show would suddenly stop being an overly melodramatic soap opera with massive continuity flaws and hackneyed, plot-driven writing?

Perhaps they objected to the completely pointless flashbacks to before the war that slowed the pace down to a near standstill. Those scenes could all have been removed to the betterment of the episode(s). They only served to be pretentious wankery and did little to shed any new light on the characters.

So Apollo and Starbuck almost made-out when Zack was still alive? Is that supposed to be a character revelation that suddenly puts their relationship in perspective? If so, it fails miserably. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about them.

Nor do Roslin’s ill-fated cougar episodes tell us anything more about her lonely, isolated personal life on Caprica. We got all that in the series, the way we should have—from her character development and in the subtext within Mary McDonnell’s portrayal.

Like any prequel, the flashbacks only served to weaken what was already there, not add a new layer of depth. Which is why they were probably so boring to watch. Perhaps, if you’d never experienced a single minute of BSG, they’d have been interesting interludes introducing you to those characters that added context for what was going on in the present. But if so, why the hell were you watching the series finale and not the debut miniseries?

2) It wasn’t nearly as religious as we’d been lead to believe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it wasn’t religious at all. Instead it was purely mythological, a rehash of a thousand creation myths rolled into one. Based, again, on the outrage of fans at the time, I was expecting a heavy-handed Christian message tacked-on at the end or something.

But no, it was about as sci-fi as anything I’ve read or seen but with a lot less heavy-handed Christ imagery than something like Narnia, The Matrix or even Fifth Element.

Yes, religious beliefs do play a large role in the story for the characters. But religious beliefs play a major role for Bajorans, Vulcans, Klingons, Jedis, and Elves. There is clearly a “God” and “Angels” in BSG, but I expect it’s just some alien race like The Q.

But then, I’m an athiest and if I were confronted with a real life miracle, I’d probably think the same thing.

3) The opera house dream arc makes no sense at all. Well, it makes sense, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to working.

The strength of BSG is supposed to be the plot arc that sweeps over all four seasons. Which would be a great thing if it wasn’t painfully clear that they had no idea where they were headed from the start. The opera house/dream storyline highlights this best.

There is absolutely no point to Roslin’s or Gaius and Caprica Six’s connection to Hera. They don’t really save her. They don’t end up raising her, Athena and Helo are still alive. And beyond that, there ultimately isn’t even any point to Hera’s existence at all. She isn’t the one to point them to Earth, Kara does. Hera doesn’t convince Cavil and Adama to end the war, they more or less work that out on their own. If she doesn’t get eaten by a lion, Hera will probably just grow up to mate with a Neanderthal. Okay, great… So what? So is everyone else. After all the drama surrounding Hera, she ends up having no real significance? If there’s one thing the fans should have been upset about it’s that.

Of course, the writers and producers set themselves up to fail by, at one point or another,  alluding to almost every single character as being a possible Saviour figure. From Kara to Sam to Roslin to Gaius to Hera to Leoben to [insert character name here], they couldn’t all be the one who saves Humanity and Cylonity(?) from extinction.

Unfortunately, the writers didn’t tie the story up well enough so that they all played an equal part. Most of them were dead weight, dragging the plot down, by the time they finally reach Earth.

There’s no small amount of minutiae I could get into, but picking apart BSG’s minutiae is like shooting ducks in a barrel with Galactica’s cannons (which never really seemed to hit much, considering the continuous barrage of death they spewed). The above were the main points I noticed while watching the finale and, really, about all the consideration I wish to ever give the show again.

Perhaps in the future some nit-picking will emerge as we tangent off topic on another show, but for now we’re watching True Blood (which is like a really good Twilight fanfic).


Episode 74 – Bard Times

July 23, 2010

Kill Shakespeare creators Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col at TCAF 2010

There’s no shortage of people who wished they could kill their highschool English teacher in the middle of a unit on King Lear. Or, one better, kill Shakespeare himself.

No other body of work has ever been so universally perceived as the driest form of torture imaginable. Most people would rather chew chalk dust then sit through MacBeth or even (perhaps especially?) The Merry Wives of  Windor.

The irony is the world of Shakespeare is still one of the juiciest, bloodiest and sexiest to ever exist on the stage or on the page. Too bad all the gravy is sopped up by the stale bread of outmoded diction.

People are always trying to rehydrate the Bard though. From Tom Stoppard to manga publishers to Ethan Hawk, Shakespeare adaptations and updations are as perennial as that which we call a rose. Some are successful, some are mere sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The latest fair youths to update The King of Shadows are writers Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery and artist Andy Belanger. Co-creators of new IDW comic series Kill Shakespeare (which hit the stage a few months ago), the trio have earned great applause for their toil and trouble.

Recently, Jakob and Del Col met up at Toronto’s Deer Park Public Library where they discussed Old Willie, Tarantino, the comic itself, and Boba Fett—in hushed, conspiratorial tones.

Jakob and Mandi couldn’t take the Shakespearian plot devices and summer-stock acting anymore so this week they left GalacTALKa to Igor and The Banana.

They discuss the first two episodes of BSG Season 4.5 and are paid a visit by Igor’s newest creation, The Manicorn. Whom everyone agrees is dorn handsome.


Episode 72 – To Infinerdery and Beyond

July 9, 2010

Buzz

At some point Pixar films went from a breath of the freshest air to a lungful of the same stale popcorn.

And I’m not sure why. Looking at the list of their films, other than the WTF wrong-turn they took with Cars, it’s all pretty good stuff. The best of the genre, you might even say. Though I’ll always pick Dreamworks’ Antz over A Bug’s Life, my dislike for their films I don’t rate (Wall-E, The Incredibles) has more to do with over-hyping than the quality of the films themselves.

I haven’t seen Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up simply because when I saw Monsters Inc, I knew Pixar were beginning to spin their wheels and no one else seemed to notice. Mostly that the conveyor belt scene is the same as the conveyor belt scene in the airport in Toy Story 2. Not only that, they relied on the same character dynamics and pranks, just packaged in a new set of creatures.

To compound matters, the Shrek and Ice Age movies jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. At first they gave it some new momentum but ultimately bogged it down into the mire of mediocrity. Shrek 2, unfairly, has more to do with my Pixar hurdle than any Pixar film.

When Finding Nemo came out I’d had it. I didn’t need to see the same quest with the same gags and the same conveyor belt scene at the end. Though there probably isn’t a conveyor belt in the ocean, I suspect there’s some underwater current or a ride down a system of sewer pipes at some point. I still haven’t seen Nemo, the hurdle is that strong.

I did see Wall-E though. People said it was a breath of fresh air; it broke down barriers; it built on Pixar’s original standards set by Toy Story. Sounded good.

I watched it. And, yes, it started strong. Really strong. But what was I treated to? That same fucking conveyor belt scene for the last half the film.

Pixar were dead to me at this point. They were definitely going down. Up looked like a new low, as far as I was concerned. I still haven’t risen to the challenge.

But we did see Toy Story 3. And it is glorious.

Not only does it live up to the standard set by the previous two adventures—again raising the bar and not lowering it—it’s the only 3D film where I’ve said “They got it right.” It’s not a 3-D wankery spectacle like Avatar, it’s an enhanced movie experience.

It’s also a lesson in how to do a sequel that references the previous films without leaning on them. It’s satisfying, not ham-fisted. Sure, there’s a goddamn conveyor belt at the end, but they found a new(ish) way to flog that horse.

Is Pixar back in the game? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to see Toy Story 4.

Some nerds made some buzz with Buzz.

We wrap up Season 4.0 in the most spoiler-heavy way possible. But more importantly, who wears pants and who goes comando?


Episode 67 – Scienced!

May 28, 2010

Somehow, nothing says “nerd” like “science” does. No matter how chic geek may get, a lab coat is never going to be a good look.

What I want to know is why in movies—usually pretty old ones—do mathematicians wear lab coats. Are they afraid they’re going to get numbers on their tweed? Or chalk dust? Okay, chalk dust is a valid concern. I don’t imagine many mathematicians want people to think they stuck their elbow in the huge pile of coke sitting in the middle of their desk. Unless they’re scenester mathematicians. Who’d probably wear lab coats. And listen to ArcAttack.

What is it that makes science so particularly nerdy though? Probably that it’s hard work and people are lazy.

If people can’t understand something from a 30-second soundbite, anyone who does understand it is going to be a nerd in their eyes. On one level, all being a nerd means is to put an effort into something. Whether it’s Star Wars trivia, thermodynamics, baseball stats or Arthurian studies, if you know more about it than can fit on the back of a cereal box, it’s nerdy.

People don’t like other people to be better than them. And arguably someone who can splice some genes together is better than you. So you’d better call them a nerd.

If you can splice genes together, and you’re looking for someone to splice genes with, you might want to try these pick-up lines at whatever nerd-ass gene-splicing bar you hang out at:

50 nerdy pick up lines

Science Pick Up Lines on Facebook.

Apparently Mandi and Drew Barrymore have something in common…

GalacTALKa returns from another hiatus with spoiler-heavy discussion of the first 4 proper episodes of season 4. BSG is getting better again.


Episode 63 – BSG: Psychodyke and the Razors

April 30, 2010
helena cain, six, starbuck, razor

This week we’re joined by Ro Karen of the Starbase 66 podcast to discuss the BSG movie, Razor, and the psychodyke admiral known as Helena Cain.

Other guests include the esteemed Kathryn Janeway and everyone’s favourite unemployed supernanny, Mary Shelley’s Merkin, who join Igor and The Banana on a double-date.


Episode 54 – Throw Owen from the Train (Wes Anderson films)

February 26, 2010

Wes Anderson. You know him. He helped start that whole quirky indie comedy thing which doesn’t seem to be going away.

He’s the guy who makes films about rich douchebags with trivial problems. Movies generally populated by a baker’s dozen of  Holden Caufields all grown up and still douchebags. Which is what’s both good and bad about them. It certainly can be a hurdle. Not so much a nerd hurdle as a douche hurdle. Which really could be it’s own podcast.

Which Episode 54 pretty much is. Since we really don’t get around to talking about Wes Anderson films (which are actually quite good). But after discussing vaginal hairstyles we do talk about…

This compilation of 20 years of anti-drunk driving ads from TAC. And how it’s juxtaposed with Australia’s draconian internet policy (which might block Nerd Hurdles by way of our compadres, Hooked):

And about Gretzky lighting the Olympic thinger. Not Michael J. Fox.

Mandi also impresses with her recital of the complete lyrics to The Maple Leaf Forever  and Scotland the Brave.

Unfinished Business. Thank the gods that business is now finished. We finally know why Apollo actually got fat and the worst UST in TV history has been resolved. Don’t listen if you haven’t gotten past disc 3 of season 3.


Episode #53: Schlock Holmes

February 19, 2010

There’s a certain type of nerd who adores Mr. Sherlock Holmes. This variety of nerd is called the Holmesian. Unlike most fandoms, Holmesians don’t just write fanfic, they get into the weeds and write Holmesian Studies.

What do we deduce from the detective’s devoted disciples? What makes Sherlock Holmes an object of such fascination as to inspire people to write speculative essays about the character 123 years after his first appearance?

It’s elementary. Holmes is clearly a high-functioning autistic savant and a role-model for persons of a similar persuasion.

Curiously, the latest cinematic incarnation of the character (Guy Ritchie‘s 2009 film Sherlock Holmes) both highlights and downplays this aspect of Holmes. Where previous depictions of Holmes showed him to be a man of thought rather than action, Ritchie paints Sherlock as a man of action who does his thinking largely off-screen.

Robert Downey, Jr. adds enough awkwardness to his Hugh Jackman impression to indicate Holmes’ genius comes from a  difficult place, but Ritchie has him too busy jumping in and out of explosions to really develop the character. It’s too bad since given room—and time—to breathe, he could have been a fascinating interpretation. Of a character who really isn’t Sherlock Holmes at all.

It’s somewhat of an odd move. Though a detective who solves a crime by observation and quiet introspection might not be box-office fodder in 2010, that’s who Sherlock Holmes is. To change, or heavily downplay, that aspect of the character is to actually make a movie about someone else entirely. Unlike J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek, which stuck to at least the spirit of the original series, Ritchie’s film really is HINO (Holmes-In-Name-Only).

Even the basic structure of the film is wrong for a Holmes story. What is a Holmes story? A mystery, right? There is no mystery in Ritchie’s film. You’re told everything that’s going on from the beginning. It’s a thriller. The thrills come from dramatic irony—the audience knows what Holmes does not. The trademark of a good Holmes story is Holmes knows everything and the audience is left to figure it out (alongside Watson) until the big reveal in the final act.

By the time Sherlock makes his big reveal in this film, he just looks like an idiot because the audience has known what’s been going on for about 45 minutes. The cartoonish villain had laid out his cartoonish plan to his cartoonish minions in monosyllabic words so small children could understand without disturbing other members of the audience by making their parents explain it to them.

It’s ultimately too bad the movie was called Sherlock Holmes. Simply giving the character a new name would have given us an interesting new Victorian era action-hero. Though, in that case, I’d be knocking him for being derivative of Holmes, wouldn’t I?

This week we watched disc 2 of Season Three. Don’t listen if you haven’t gotten this far. Starbuck and Apollo turn into total douchebags, each in their own ways. Daddy Adama utters gruff, meaningless epithets. Characters you know aren’t going to get killed off, don’t get killed off. It’s business as usual back on board the Battlestar Galactica.


Episode 47 – Nerd Hurdles vs. Anime

January 8, 2010

I’ve kept this from Mandi to some extent, but there was a time when I truly loved anime. Like an ex you deeply regret, and therefore deny the existence of, my youthful foray into the world of anime as a source deep shame. I think back on those days and feel what I imagine is the same shame one would feel at the remembrance of a night spent in a dive hotel with a coked-out hooker.

And to be honest, I only ever dipped my toe into the murky anime pond. It started in childhood with Robotech (back when anime was Japanimation), but I lost interest soon after Ghost in the Shell, a movie I wore-out my VHS copy of, was released.

A few years later, I had a roommate who tried to get me to watch his stack of  Macross tapes, but I just couldn’t do it. Anything even remotely akin to Transformers turns me completely off. That writes-off the whole mech-warrior (or as I call it  meh-warrior) sub-genre.

So what is the hurdle? There’s a lot that’s great about anime. It’s often grittier than conventional animation. Until The Matrix, it was the only place cyberpunk had been done well on film at all. Anime is stylish and fast-paced. It’s usually sci-fi or fantasy with lasers and magic and sexy genetically enhanced ladies.

Anime films also seem to aim to deal with deeper themes than your average shoot-em-up sci-fi. But they often fail in this goal. And I think this is partly where the hurdle lays for me now. They’re philosophical, sure, but in a sophomoric, juvenile way. Anime might be a great way to expose existential and metaphysical themes to a younger audience, but as an adult they now seem terribly trite. And character development is generally the worst you’ll find outside of Episode I.

Not to mention tentacle rape. WTF?

Of course, there is one anime director whose work we adore. Hayao Miyazaki‘s films spellbind us.

Even Tim Burton doesn’t blend surreal, horrific imagery with a whimsical sense of magical wonder with such alacrity. I’m not sure I’ve seen a movie which so unexpectedly blew my mind as Spirited Away or if there’s ever been such a truly effed up movie as My Neighbor Totoro to give me warm fuzzies. In fact, Miyazaki movies might be the only films to awaken that sleeping sentimental giant within me at all these days.

Also in this episode, we unveil the first installment of a short series of Battlestar Galactica chatter called Project GalacTALKa. Each week, we’ll talk about our impressions of this celebrated sci-fi television show as we watch it for the first time. Discussion will be entirely spoilerific, for those who have watched the entire series (or have seen it up to the same point we have). We give you this fair warning as we’ve remained relatively spoiler-free and wish to remain so. Basically we’re having our ambrosia and drinking it too.


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