Okay, so I was Wrong–The Expanse is a Really, Really Good Show!

Picture of the cast of the Expanse with a stylized logo of the show's title.
Image Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2019/12/12/amazon-relaunches-tvs-best-sci-fi-show-the-expanse-for-season-4-friday/

So, sometime last year, I finished the first season of The Expanse, and to put it mildly, I was NOT impressed. I thought it was okay, but fell too far into the “Game of Thrones” arena where “bad things happen to good people.” It didn’t help that the show was marketed as “Game of Thrones” in space. I tried two separate times to get past the first episode of Season 2, but I couldn’t–I just thought that I didn’t like the show and that it was, while not bad, not something that I was ever going to like.

However, fair is fair. If I called it out on the blog and I change my mind later, then I’m going to let you know.

So I’m saying it now: I Was Wrong! The Expanse is a GOOD show!

Season 2 and Season 3

Part of the problem is that the show doesn’t really hit its stride until about Episode 2 or 3 of the 2nd season. Like Season 1, the first couple of episodes are more about “set-up” than they are about pure plot. Characterization is always present, but in Season 1, I wasn’t really invested in the characters. However, with Season 2 and especially Season 3, the characters are really tested by the plot and they interact to turn the show into something really special (& really good)!

Without spoilers, let’s just say that everything rises to a crescendo, ramps down after the resolution and then rises a second time to an even more insane and awesome resolution. I think the key is that 1) the characters are ALWAYS acting/reacting based on plot. This is the rare show where plot reveals characters and the characters’ actions drive the plot.

Season 4

So, I binged this show a couple weeks ago when my car was in the shop being repaired. I watched all of Season 2, 3, and 4 back-to-back. While I didn’t think Season 4 had the same insane level of wildness as 2 & 3, I did feel that it was still great and much better than Season 1. I hope that they do a Season 5 as I really want to see where they take the story (yes, I know they are based on books, and I may dip into them a little later, but right now the show has its “hooks” into me).

The characters are really well rounded (now that I’ve seen their arc over more episodes than what was presented in Season 1).

Overall Grade: A

Again, as this is a public forum, I feel compelled to let people know when I get it wrong (& this is one of those times). This is a strong show with compelling characters and an absolutely crazy storyline that really shines in Season 2 & 3. While it doesn’t beat The Mandolorian as my favorite sci-fi show, it has leap-frogged quite few series to become one for which I can’t wait to see the next season.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 3 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • Ship of Shadows: Screenplay
    Finished: Script Outline (Rough Draft)
    Next: Script Outline (1st Draft)

Finally Found a New “Starship Show”: Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda

Cast of the Andromeda TV show posing for the camera.
Image Source: https://andromeda.fandom.com/wiki/Andromeda_(TV_series)

So, even though I did a blog post a couple of weeks ago on Defiance, I’ve abandoned the show for now. The first season was fairly good–I would have rated it a B-/C+ as the “alien artifact” storyline did become more prominent during the later part of the season. B- is probably where I would have settled as it had just enough sci-fi concepts (and great acting!) to overcome what I feel is stereotypical and (to me) uninteresting world building, setting, and too much reliance on Western genre tropes instead of sci-fi tropes. However, what got me was that season 2 introduced new characters and gave the old characters new “problems.” I didn’t really cotton to the new characters, but I felt I could tolerate them–and the problems of the old characters. Of course, to be “edgy” (aka Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones), they had to (for me) take it a step too far by taking one of the hero characters from season 1 and giving her the problem of recreational drug use (their version of cocaine). Yeah, I watched one episode and barely tolerated it, but couldn’t do it with subsequent episodes, so I’ve bailed about halfway into season 2. I may skip the episode and go back one day, but for now, I have a new show: Andromeda.

Captain America in Space

So, this is a bit of an anachronism as Andromeda and its “boy-scout” of a captain came first in terms of appearing on screen with that whole “old fashioned hero out of time” routine. Dylan Hunt was frozen at the Event Horizon for 300 years and when he is rescued, he discovers that his “Commonwealth” has fallen. He discovers the worlds have fallen into disarray, so decides to make it his mission to rebuild the Commonwealth (UN for Planets, but not exactly like Star Trek’s Federation or Star Wars’s Galactic Senate) and restore some semblance of order to the galaxy.

Dylan Hunt is very much in line with the current Marvel Universe incarnation of Captain America. He fights for ideals and is idealistic. He is the hero and pretty much always wins, but the adventures are exciting. This probably will not appeal to most of the millennials who crave “bad people screwing each other over” and who call that “complex,” but if you’re looking for adventure and excitement and traditional space opera (which is my preference), then this one, while a bit hokey at times, still mostly works and is FAR more appealing than Defiance with its pseudo-Western and illicit drug use. And for those who would “nope out,” and claim Andromeda has no complexity, it actually has a character who is dealing with addiction issues, but it actually has the character fall, pay the cost, and then work to rise above and stay above their addiction and is referenced several times over the course of the first two seasons that I’ve watched.

2 – 3 Episodes Per Day

So, I try to download (it is currently available on Amazon Prime) 2 -3 episodes per day. I don’t always get through that many (sometimes I manage all three, but usually it’s 1 or 2). However, I really feel that the show, while not as consistently good as Babylon 5 or the Stargate shows, is still a very strong show and (for me) it is better than the nihilistic shows of Defiance or The Expanse (again, I really like the actors on both of the shows, but I don’t like the “tone” of the shows). With nihilistic shows, it feels like a slog to get through, but I always look forward to most of the episodes that I’ve watched so far.

I’m currently into season 2 and I’m deep into it–I think I only have maybe 4 more episodes before the end of the season. There are 5 total seasons, so I still have a way to go before I finish it.

I have to say that (at the moment) I really like this show and I have to say that the characters have (so far) grown on me. We’ll see if that continues to be the case.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Defiantly Watching Defiance

Defiance TV Show Poster (w show's main characters standing in alien fauna by the backdrop of the St. Louis arch in the background.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2189221/

I am watching a show that I’ve had in my queue for a while: Defiance. It is a Sci-Fi show (post apocalyptic) that is currently streaming on Amazon Prime (not sure if it is elsewhere, but I know its been on Prime) for a while now, so I thought I’d watch it. So, when my late creative writing professor, Ken Smith, opened my eyes to the fact that Science-Fiction’s antecedent genre was the Western, I was aghast. Star Wars and the original trilogy were my favorite movies at the time (this was in the era where the Prequels were still a couple years away from release and the Matrix hadn’t quite changed the landscape for science-fiction films (although Aliens & Terminator 2 had made significant in-roads). And yet, as I watch Defiance, I can’t help but recall Ken’s assertion as this show is every bit the Western.

Alien Backstory & Mythos + Western Plots and Characterization = Defiance

So far, about mid-way into the show’s first season, I’m slogging my way through it. The show takes the approach to adding aliens to Earth via a “failed” attempt (or maybe incomplete) at an alien race terraforming Earth. The Earth has been transformed into a (mostly) post-apocalyptic wasteland complete with alien species and races complicating life for the remaining human residents. One of the things that I like about the show is that it doesn’t just focus on humans, however, but seeks to show a town (Defiance) that has multiple alien and human inhabitants and how they can survive and life together despite their prejudices and differences. In many ways, it tries (again early times, at least) to present a hopeful, unifying front, no matter the individual prejudices that flare up.

All Western, All the Time

And yet . . . the show really hasn’t grabbed me. Even though there are aliens, what looks like an ancient alien mystery, and quite a few alien cultures that have traditions different from our own, all of the stories so far have had a decidedly Western (genre) feel to them. Their has been a feuding pair of families with young lovers on each side of the families (a la The Hatfields & McCoys–and yes, they are of two different races just to ratchet up the tension). The protagonist becomes the town’s “Lawkeeper” in the “pilot” episode. The episode I just finished had to do with a “Bounty Hunter” friend of the Lawkeeper (a “trope” of many a Western). There are deputies, a doc with a possible bad past, prostitutes with hearts of gold, and the like.

Now, all this to say, that the actors and the story isn’t bad–it just skews heavily into the Western motif, where I might want it to do so a little less.

And this is Why I Like “Space Ship Shows”

Defiance (and shows like it–The Walking Dead comes quickly to mind) is that it devolves into the same tropes that a Western might: be quick with a gun or be dead, protect yourself at all costs because your neighbors won’t, the frontier is the big open space of badness, with little pockets of safety coming by way of cities.

Now, you could say this about my beloved spaceship shows (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dark Matter, Stargate (& spinoff shows), etc), but one thing that spaceship shows do better than their post apocalyptic cousins is that sense of “wonder.” There is the chance that some scientific concept or paradigm will be explored in some unique and awesome way that completely explodes the traditional/contemporary way of looking at the world. For instance, Star Wars has a lot of western tropes early in the movie, but moving to the later parts of the movie, we see the tropes of medieval knights (Kenobi vs Vader fight on the Death Star) and even WW2 fighter tropes (the iconic Trench Run). As a child, this blew my mind. Another example, from the world of books this time, was a scene in one of Elizabeth Moon’s books where a main character walked on the ship’s outer hull while the ship was in freakin’ HYPERSPACE. I’d never read the like and this one scene helped make me a lifelong fan of Elizabeth Moon’s work.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to stick through it to the end and report back with a mini-review. We’ll see–while I like and respect the western, I would prefer my science fiction to show a little less western tropes and a little more wonder than I’m currently seeing in Defiance. But who knows, maybe they’ll lean harder into the “alien artifact” mystery and it will have the wonder I’m looking for in my sci-fi.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Series Review: Farscape

Image of the cast of Farscape--Crichton,  Aeryn Sun, and the rest along with the villains Crais and Scorpius standing on the bridge of the living ship Moya as they stare out into space--a photo of the cast.
Image Source: https://paleymatters.org/somewhere-over-the-wormhole-farscape-15-years-later-eef1ebba7e98

So, over the weekend I finished watching the entire series of Farscape. I had the last episode sitting, just waiting to be watched for a couple of weeks, and I sorta’ dreaded watching it because it would mean that it was over and that’s pretty much the last spaceship show that I’m really interested in at the moment–having watched most of the other major ones that I wanted to see. However, now that Stranger Things, Season 3 has come out, I decided I should finish it up and move on.

Two “Different” Shows

Much like Star Trek Voyager, the show is essentially two different main storylines in the show’s history. (Minor spoilers ahead): You can break the show in many different ways, but the way that I look at it is the Pa’u Zatoh Zaahn (“Zaahn”) era and the “Post Zaahn” era. Now this could definitely be broken up with different characters, but, like the character of “Zaahn,” this character was the “soul” of the show–for me, at least early in the show. Zahn, while weird in concept and backstory, was probably the character I most related to, esp. in the early years of the show. Now remember, I’ve seen all of the first 2 seasons before it disappeared from streaming 2-3 years ago. Now that its was back, I was made sure to see all of the episodes this time around. Early in the show, it was still finding its footing. The thing to know is that this show has multiple antagonists–4 major ones that I could count, but there are probably more. However, in the beginning of the show, the episodes are far more episodic in nature and they do a fairly good job of establishing establishing the characters, the setting, the conflict, and the interdynmics of the character drama on the ship.

Post “Zaahn”

After Zahn’s character’s resolution, the show goes into more of a “series”-based show in which the focuses more on characters in a fairly long-running recurring storyline that loosely focuses around “Wormholes.” While this is a theme through the whole show (Crichton, the main character gets pulled through a wormhole the very first episode), the “post Zahn” era really does run with this theme and this idea. Also, the dynamics of the ship’s crew are explored in more detail as the characters form bonds later in the show (to say more would be risking major spoilers). What I like about the show is that even though it is often much more farcical than typical “spaceship” shows (it has an episode the is heavily inspired by the classic Roadrunner cartoons, for example), it still knows when to take itself serious for true “space opera” situations (the series finale is epic AND actually gives true closer to the show). A quick digression: all networks should do things the Farscape way–allow the show to either continue with new storylines or allow it to end via a series finale–this idea of waiting to cancel a show depending on how it does in its “previous” season really shows a lack of understanding of the narrative that they themselves created to sell advertising time on–you have to provide closure for a series if you want long term fan investment–no closure = no future possibility of resurrecting the show at a different time).

Overall Score: B (82-85)

The show wasn’t perfect–it definitely displayed its foreign (Australian) sensibilities. There were more than a few times when it seemed like Mad Max meets Star Wars, but for the most part, I think it carried itself well. Both Ben Browder and Claudia Black were standouts, but I enjoyed most of the characters (and the cast as well). I really liked Chiana and Jool, but they found themselves not as developed (esp. in the later seasons) as I would have liked. While I can only guess at the reason for its ultimate cancellation (well, I can also look on Wikipedia as well), for me, I could never find it during its 1st run. It was one of the first shows to hit streaming when streaming was just starting to get popular, but I didn’t really give it a try–still in “disc” mode and then it disappeared again. When it became available again, about a year ago, I was determined to see it all the way through. Now that I have, I still like other “spaceship shows” better (Dark Matter, Babylon 5, the Star Trek shows), but I still feel like this is a strong contender (and I like it quite a bit better than shows like Killjoys and The Expanse) and really am glad that I (finally) was able to get to see it on streaming (as I write this, it is on Amazon Prime Video.)

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Great Actors in Small Roles: Claudia Black

Claudia Black (from Wikipedia entry)
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudia_Black

So, I’m expanding this “series” just a little bit to also include under “appreciated” actors who I come across from all genres–not just film, as it had been previously. While, again, I won’t often call out many actors, there are just some who do a great job and don’t necessarily get the recognition they deserve.

One actor whose work I always love is Claudia Black. Having re-“rediscovered” her work in Farscape and having just recently finished the entire Stargate SG-1 series, in which guest stars towards the latter part of the series and becomes a series regular in the last season, I’ve really come to appreciate both her comedic timing and sense of the “ironic” in the characters that she plays.

Farscape

I’ll have a more in-depth review of the show later, but I really like the way Claudia Black imbues her character on the show, Aeryn Sun, with a sense of both sarcasm combined with deadly earnestness. Fitting of someone who was once a commando for the “enemy,” Claudia plays Aeryn with a physicality (and sometimes coldness) befitting of a military specialist. However, even after only about 4-5 episodes, I see the inventive wordplay and playfulness that is the embodiment of Vala (SG-1).

Uncharted

Many people may or may not know Claudia by sight, but most gamers (Playstation at least) know her for her roles in the Uncharted series. She plays Chloe Frazier, a treasure hunter and one-time old flame for the series protagonist Nathan Drake. While her roles were substantial in the games, I really felt the actress and the character come into her own with the release of the stand alone game Uncharted The Lost Legacy which featured two former supporting characters Chole Frazer and Nadine Ross as the lead characters in a new adventure. I thought the pain in which Black exhibited towards her father in some of the more emotionally charges scenes were outstanding and gave true insight into the character.

Stargate SG-1

One of my favorite characters on SG-1 was Vala, introduced as a “foil” to Daniel. While Vala is played as a far more humorous character than Aeryn, she can also have moments of seriousness, and even cold-blooded calculation, although Vala’s overriding conception is “fun.” Again, I really liked the way Claudia Black uses a “grin” to emphasize Vala’s playful demeanor which is reminscent of the way my own family used humor and sarcasm in a playful way, using our facial features and body language to diffuse/disarm any attempt to harm. I think this is why I don’t find “teasing” funny in real life because, in real life, “teasing” is really meant to cause harm to the person–whereas in Vala’s paradigm (and mine), teasing is just a way of playing and being fun without being stupid/doing stupid things. Without the correct gestures and body language, sarcasm and glib comments can do more harm than good.

While Claudia Black may not be a “household name” in many homes, I really think she should be as her ability to play both fun and playful characters along with characters with an emotional edge or more depth make her an actor that I enjoy watching (or listening to for her voice work) everytime I encounter something that she’s starring in.

A handclap of praise to Claudia Black for such wonderfully diverse characters–and for bringing a sense of “fun” and “wonder” back to adventure and science fiction.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Series Review: Babylon 5

Babylon 5 Cast Photo
Image Source: https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/an-oral-history-of-babylon-5-the-beloved-tv-novel-that-showed-a-different-way-to-tell-sci

Over the weekend, I finished the entire run (all five seasons) of Babylon 5. I thought I’d take a moment and give my impressions of the series as a whole and how I feel it fits into the Sci-Fi TV landscape. There are some light spoilers–basically, just plot arcs across the series, not individual episodes. I couldn’t avoid them in order to give a thorough review of the series, but I still tried to be as spoiler free as possible. Those wanting to go into the series completely fresh, should probably stop reading now, bookmark this page, go watch the show for yourself (as of this writing, it is streaming on Amazon Prime), and then come back. If you’re not bothered by knowing season arcs, then read on.

Seasons 1 – 4.5 : The Shadow War

I think this is where the show shines–“The Shadow War” storyline shines as an impressive piece of storytelling. While Season 1 isn’t the strongest as I feel much of that season was setting up the characters’ relationships. I liked the character of Sinclair (& initially, during the first run of the show, I was a bit turned off by the introduction of the new B5 commander, Sheridan, upon re-watching the show and understanding the struggle of the actor who played Sinclair, I found it to be fine). What really impresses me about this story arc is the way Season 1 drops little hints that the War is coming (foreshadowing) and Season 2 fully delivers on it. Now, it seems a bit archaic with so many shows having multi-season arcs, but at the time, it was almost revolutionary. I found the whole arc to be quite impressive and filled with drama and tension, with both humor and heart. I honestly liked all the actors and while I didn’t necessarily like each and every episode, I feel this is where the heart of the show is contained. I would rate these as 9 to 9.5.

Season 4.5 – 5: Earth Alliance Civil War

I’m simplifying here–some of these episodes are actually earlier in the season 4 timeline (and hints have been dropped about this upcoming confrontation earlier in the season). This where a bit of the seams come apart in the show. While the actual civil war is handled well and takes the show into a new, interesting territory, the whole Mars/Earth subplot feels forced and a bit strained. I wish that I could say that I enjoyed every episode, but (outside of the space battle scenes between Earth Alliance and the former B5/Mars Colonies), this storyline seemed to drag. There were some great scenes in this part (Delenn facing down the Earth Alliance is a particular highlight), but there are places (especially the Mars sections that drag), but overall, still enjoyable. These I would rate 8.0 to 8.5.

Season 5: Telepath “War”

So, to me, this is where the series grounds to a screeching halt. I didn’t buy the whole Bester/Garabaldi arc wherein (*spoilers*) Bester overrides Garabaldi and makes him act contrary to Garabaldi’s normal persona. Yes, I know that set it up in the show, but it still didn’t ring true for me. However, after the resolution of those episodes, the show seemed to get back on track, only to be hit with the character of Byron. While I have no particular animus towards the actor, I think the character of Byron was probably the worst in the Babylon 5 show and completely undermined what should have been a tense drama. I didn’t believe his “Messiah” complex, nor did I believe his “Malcolm X” switch when he found out about the truth of the true role of Telepaths in the story. That whole arc really took me out of the story. The only reason I didn’t stop watching the show was because of the Lyta Alexander character. While I wanted her arc to go in a different direction, she was still (by far) the most interesting character in the story arc. Once that was done with, the show finished strong by focusing on the “ending” of the show–characters moving on while new characters would ostensibly take their place for the future (which we wouldn’t get to see). The Londo story arc was quite good as was the 2-3 episodes leading to the finale. I also liked the finale as it was a satisfying conclusion to the series (& hearkened back to the themes of the “Shadow War.”

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Mini-Review: Netflix’s The Dragon Prince (Season 1)

Image Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/7/17826544/the-dragon-prince-review-avatar-last-airbender-netflix

Okay, with the impending release of Season 2, I thought I’d take a moment to come back and talk about my reactions to Season 1 of the show now that I’ve taken I’ve seen the first season all the way through. This will be a shorter entry as I have a packed schedule today, but I’ve been meaning to revisit this series for a while.

Characters

So, one of the main reasons that I didn’t initially like the show was that the main character was just too close to their earlier creation–Sokka from The Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Prince Callum (pictured in the above image on the left) is very much in tone, spirit, and vocal inflection a “spiritual successor” to Sokka. While I like Sokka, I can only take him as a “side” character. As the main character, he grates on me (or at least he did until the 4th or 5th episode). I think they toned down his character and gave him a “specialty” which made him seem more in tune with the other “main” characters and less of a walking “joke.” The other main characters were fine and I didn’t really have any problems with them, but Prince Callum really turned me off at first.

Plot

I actually liked the way the plot unfolded after say the 4th episode. The main characters find something and must return it to its rightful place — in other words, a quest. This was missing in the early episodes. Once they set out and began their quest, things seemed to fall in place for me with the show and I began to look forward to watching it, rather than it being a chore to get through.

The main villain seems a little off, however. He seems to use the best interests of the Empire as his justification, but his actions are at odds, and much of what he does seems like a “power grab.” I can’t tell if the creators are trying to create a “complicated” villain (and just not reaching it, in my opinion), or if they are trying to show the villain’s “two-faced” nature (i.e., the Palpatine/Emperor duality from Star Wars Prequels).

Final Observations

The show has potential–which Netflix seems to have seen as they greenlit a second season of the show. They’ve added a new “main” character–so I’ll be interested to see how that works out in regards to the characters’ dynamics as they go about their quest. They’ve added several side characters, so I’d like to see how they are going to be used over the upcoming semester as well as I kind of like their side characters as much as the main characters–probably not their intention, but they are still varied and fun.

Overall Grade: B

So, due to the earlier part of the season, I would have rated this as a B-, but based on the stellar last half of the season, I’m raising my grade to a solid B. If you can get past the early humdrum episodes, I think there’s a worth fantasy series that is worth checking out. It’s no Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it isn’t that bad as fantasy series go.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Stranger Things: Mini-Review (No Spoilers!)

stranger things

HORROR FOR A NON-HORROR FAN

I just finished watching Season 1 of Stranger Things (ST) and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I was afraid that the series wasn’t going to live up to the hype set up by online fans of the show.  However, after watching all eight episodes, I have to say that I really did come to enjoy it.  It started a bit slowly for me (Episodes 1-3), but the middle episodes (4-6) really ratcheted up the tension and while the resolution was good (7-8), they weren’t nearly as impactful as the middle episodes in my opinion.  This, I think, is why I didn’t rate it higher.  When it is good, it is excellent, but the slow beginning and the not as impactful ending really made the show seem not as suspenseful as it could have been.  Now, I didn’t “binge” watch it, but rather watched it one episode at a time on Saturdays (as a reward to myself for getting through a “hard” week), so perhaps that had something to do with it, but in my mind, a really good series should be able to be watched either one episode at a time or “binged” watched without it making a difference.

The one thing that the show really gets right (and makes the bulk of the middle episodes) is the idea of mystery and suspense.  These episodes drip feed the story to the viewer in just the right amount of atmosphere, suspense, mystery, character development, and plot progression.  We discover more about the characters, the world, the mystery of what is going on, and how all of this came to be in the middle episodes and that is what makes this show so great.  While there are horrific elements, the goal is less on trying to scare the viewers and more on creating tense and suspenseful encounters to place the characters and I really appreciated that as a viewer.

STEPHEN KING “LITE”

Okay, so I’m not really a “Horror” fan.  When I say that, I mean that while I have read some horror novels and seen some horror movies, they do not make up a major component of my genre experience (unlike Fantasy and Science Fiction).  I read authors such as Dan Simmons (in his “Horror” phase) and British author James Herbert (who would now be considered Dark Fantasy instead of Horror).  I’ve also seen movies such as Alien and others like it, but in general I prefer the feeling of wonder and excitement to that of dread and horror.

I used to read Stephen King (his 80’s and 90’s work) and ST gives me a Stephen King “Lite” vibe.  It has a construction of a less intense and less horrific version of Stephen King’s It.  I think that it is the focus on suspense rather than horror that really helped me to become invested in the series.

GOOD RESOLUTION (FOR THE MOST PART)

I liked the ending, although I have to confess, that I wanted the “love” subplot to go differently than it turned out.  The resolution of that subplot seemed forced and cliche and relied on a character change that wouldn’t have happened in real life based on the way the original boyfriend acted in the earlier episodes.  The character does a complete 180 change in behavior that was hard for me to accept based on his earlier behavior.  Also, the creators set up the early episodes giving the “new” love interest a lot of pathos by showing his backstory, his motivations, etc., but because of the old boyfriend’s abrupt change in behavior, this doesn’t go anywhere.

The ending of the main plot, however, seemed to end well and left itself open for a sequel, as shown by the Super Bowl Ad.  It definitely seems that while things resolved, it doesn’t seem like the sequel will be forced or unnecessary.   I’m actually looking forward to it.  I think it will take the show into some very interesting places.

RATING: Season 1 Grade: B+ (Above Average)

If you like suspense and mystery and don’t mind a few chills and scares, then this is a great show to watch.  Even though the cast includes a mix of child and adult actors, they all do a great job and are completely invested in the world that the show runners created.  I look forward to Season 2 later this year.

IMPLICATIONS FOR MY WRITING

I learned that putting characters that I like into dangerous situations helps to create suspense because you’re invested in that character and you don’t want to see anything bad happen to that character.  This tension is what creates suspense and why I think that the middle episodes (4-6) are so good.

Also, I learned that I shouldn’t change a character’s behavior mid-way through without a good reason (perhaps externally).  The show runners obviously wanted to show that the “old” boyfriend had a change of heart, but his change wasn’t earned well enough/strong enough (in my mind) to result in the change that occurred.  I need to remember to make any change in the character that deviates radically absolutely explicit to the reader to make the reader believe that the character could change realistically in the way I show by clearly showing the internal/external struggle that forces that change.

Errata

Source: http://www.l3s.de

phd_image

I have to apologize for not posting for these past few weeks.  I’m transitioning from 6th grade Language Arts teacher to a PhD Candidate student.  I’ve learned that transitions are hard for me.  New things require a lot of mental adjustment for me.  Between orientations & training, the first day of school, the first week of school, and relearning how to teach adult students vs child students have left me mentally exhausted over the weekend.  The Labor Day Weekend really helped to recharge and revitalize me.

WRITING

I started a project in the beginning of August (Project Silence), but haven’t worked on it since–until yesterday.  I had only intended to write a short amount (250 words–about 1 typed page), but I was able to pick up instantly where I left off.  I wrote 853 words (well over 3 pages) and I’m bumping against my (soft) limit of 1000 words.  My goal is to keep this project short & sweet, but I feel that it bodes well that I was able to dive right back in even with almost a month break in the middle of it.

SUBMITTING

What I have been doing over the intervening time is submitting my work.  I was looking at & finding 5-10 markets at a time, but that took too much time to research, especially once school started.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve discovered that finding 2-3 markets is better and then if those markets pass on the story, redoing the process with another 2-3 markets.  This is far more manageable–especially since my goal is to keep all of my projects out until they are sold.

Blindspot

I finished watching the entire 5 Season run of Stargate Atlantis via Amazon.  Last night, iTunes had a sale on the 1st season of Blindspot, so I decided to give it a try.  It has an actress that I like (she play Sif in Thor and Torres in The Last Stand.  I like her work, but the pilot was very rushed in terms of its plotting.  I think they are trying to imitate the same quick style of plotting that the Jason Bourne movies have, but right now it is too soon for me to tell if I’m going to like the series or not.  I’ll check back in later when I’m finished or deeper in and I’ll give an update on the show.

Well, that’s all I have time for this week–hopefully, I can get back to a weekly schedule for posting as that worked out well over the summer.  See you next time!

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Diana Marin

Fine Art Photography, Poetry, Multimedia art, & Editorials

Luna

Pen to paper.

Ámaris Wen

The offical site of Ámaris Wen

Brielle R Campos

With Great Power Comes Great Rhetoric

Ashley O'Melia, Author

A garden of wild thoughts in straight little rows

LAUREGALIE

BOOK REVIEWS

Pauls Pages Too

Extra Content from PaulsPages.com

DragOn Writing

Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer, dreamer and Netflix junkie

The Godly Chic Diaries

BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

Learning to write

Just your average PhD student using the internet to enhance their CV

Memoir Of A Writer

perfecting language on paper

the !n(tro)verted yogi

a topsy-turvy life of quietude

unbolt me

the literary asylum

The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

Elan Mudrow

Smidgens

The Solivagant Writer

The world is my playground; the pen, my friend

Learn Fun Facts

An Archive of Curious Facts for the Curious

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

All Things Writing and Geek, in one neat little blog!

renegade7x

Natalia's space