Note: There will be spoilers herein for Doctor Who and Star Trek, all below the horizontal lines.
Didn’t get a lot of writing done this weekend. We took Saturday off. Had a business meeting in the morning that lasted longer than expected, then went to the Baker Street Pub for lunch. I’ve been there before but it’s often too smoke-filled for us. There was an Iron Man Triathlon being held in the community so the crowds were all elsewhere, presumably the smokers, too. This is the first time I’ve ever used their restrooms and was delighted to discover that you had to push in on a bookcase to access them. Very clever.
Then we went to see the new Star Trek movie (more below). We didn’t see it in 3D or on an IMAX screen, although I expect the latter would have been spectacular. We have this thing where we comment on our interest in upcoming films based on their trailers. A couple of the ones before Into Darkness were in the “might be fun after a bottle of wine” category, but most of them were “there isn’t enough booze in the world” material. The one that intrigued us the most was called Last Vegas, starring Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline. It looked silly but fun. The AARP version of The Hangover, perhaps.
I’ve had this weird glitch with my home internet for a couple of weeks. There’s one single URL that I can’t open. I can’t even ping the site, though it works if I switch from Wi-Fi to 3G. The problem exists on several different devices and a number of browsers, so I know it’s not related to caching. I decided yesterday morning to contact tech support to see if we could diagnose the source. I was happy that the person I got on the online chat was able to keep up with me without working from a script. However, it got to a point where he didn’t have the requisite authorization to further troubleshoot the problem, so he escalated me to another support tech. The new guy asked me to wait while he read through the chat log. Fine, I said. A minute later the chat disconnected and I realized that I was offline. I waited for a few minutes, thinking he might have reset our gateway (I wasn’t going to be happy that he did that without warning, but still). After a few minutes, nothing happened. So I had to get out my smartphone and look up a phone number for tech support and call someone. She was able to confirm that, yes, someone had disabled our internet service. Hmmph. I wasn’t impressed, but she was able to plug us back in forthwith. The original minor glitch still exists, but I’m in no hurry to mess with it any time soon. I have a workaround.
I spent an hour and a half yesterday afternoon doing a Skype interview about The Dark Tower Companion for The Lilja and Lou Podcast. The episode should be available in a couple of weeks.
This week’s episode takes the cake as one of the strangest of Mad Men yet. Mad Men on speed. Reminds me of an old Cracked! magazine sketch from my youth called “Pro Golfers on ‘Ludes.” These ad men were manic, churning out a ream of ideas, all of them garbage.
River was in it, so River shall speak: SPOILERS!
So, the name of the Doctor was uttered in the season finale of Doctor Who, but not within our hearing. It was River Song, or some echo or remnant of her, who uttered the password. A lot happened in this episode, but most of it seemed oddly detached an unemotional. Jenny dies for a while and there’s a passionate goodbye to the wife, but I think I came away feeling a little more stunned than captivated.
First off there was the “conference call.” Neat concept, but I dislike it when some totally new ability appears out of nowhere just because it’s cool and advances the plot. You might as well have the Enterprise acting like a submarine all of a sudden. (Oh, wait…) It seems to me that this entire season has been a long commercial for the 50th Anniversary special in November, with this episode being the punch line. Clara, we discover, has been the constant companion. With the Doctor from the beginning, in all his incarnations, and throughout all of time and space, though not exactly “our” Clara, but one that is splintered in to infinity-cubed versions of herself, none of which know about the others.
The blank-faced “snowmen” were cool villains but without a whole lot of bite. I really did not care for the final moment when it turned into an “introducing X as the Y.” There’s nothing more guaranteed to pull a person out of a story than to stamp text on the screen in huge letters that identify an actor by name and his fictional guise. Surely that could have been handled better. As for what it all means, I’m thinking…The Valeyard?
I really did enjoy the new Star Trek, plot holes and all. I especially enjoy the reboot aspect, the way they are taking elements from the classic series and movies and turning them on their heads. This is parallel universe stuff, but the universes aren’t so very far apart. Right next door, it seems at times.
The cold open was fun. You have to violate the Prime Directive from time to time, especially to save a friend. Spock didn’t seem to object to the idea that they alter this planet’s timeline by rescuing it, but he was quite adamant that other parts of the directive remain in play. So, issue 1: the teleporter was “invented” for Star Trek because they couldn’t afford to show the Enterprise landing every week on the TV show’s limited budget. Therefore, the Enterprise can’t land. Except now it can not only land, it can go underwater. Interesting. At the end of the cold open, I had Wang Chung’s song “Start Praying to a New God” running through my head.
The movie had lots of action, of course, and a decent amount of character and character interplay. Some of it was poorly timed. Was that really the right moment for Uhura and Spock to work out their relationship problems? It led to a funny moment, but still. The Marcus family values issues weren’t as important or potent as they should have been.
Good to see Peter Weller after his ill-fated end in Dexter, playing the heroic Admiral…well, maybe not so admirable after all. I find it hard to believe that one guy with a skeleton crew could construct the Enterprise-cubed without anyone else in Starfleet knowing. There were also some confusing inconsistencies in the powers that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character (what was his name again?) possessed. Some people could fell him with a single phaser shot while others could shoot him all day long with little effect. Scotty’s valiant moral stand that cost him his job proved to be of little importance when Kirk changes his mind about a major issue a few minutes later. Oops. At least it put him in a position to lead the one-man cavalry.
It might have been more interesting if Cumberbatch’s character was redeemed at the end, for he had an argument to make and he might have garnered some sympathy. The question, then, is if he is genetically evil, what happens to Kirk now? And will the next film be the revenge of the genetically modified Tribbles?
My wife thought the dramatic moments were somewhat overwrought, but she hadn’t seen the film’s source material. I appreciated the way that was handled, even more so after watching the “Spock” Audi commercial! I came up with the solution to the problem before anyone else, especially before Dr. McCoy, who squandered the cure in his lab. There’s still a lot of life in the old franchise, it seems.