hradzka: (cameron's head)
So, SCC was cancelled.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, "Bummer."

It wasn't a great show. But it was starting to be really consistently good, with occasional bursts of excellence. That's the shame of it; if SCC had been deep-sixed after first season -- hell, after the pilot -- I wouldn't have minded. But it started to get better; more than that, it started to get *different.* Not only did the show start frequently firing on all cylinders, but even its failures were interesting, and it began to get to the point where I really wanted to see what the show would do next. Alas, I won't get to find out. Nor will I get the spin-off about Weaver, Savannah, Ellison, and John Henry.

Some more thoughts in my piece at Strange Horizons, written before the news came down. I will say that it's a shame that the show goes off the air just as the fandom is coalescing. Maybe we ought to have a valedictory fic-off, or something.

Meanwhile, FOX brought back the execrable DOLLHOUSE, which has thus far been largely a spectacular failure by Whedon et al. We'll see if it gets better season two. I'm doubtful, but then I'd written off SCC at this point last year.
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Very tense and effective; not as "holy shit!" as the previous episode, but really did a good job of building tension and then bringing the "WTF?" at the end.

Read more... )
hradzka: (savannah and catherine)
Yeah, been so busy with getting sick and writing fanfic that I haven't had a chance to write anything about my actual reactions to SCC's last couple episodes.

Spoilers for 'To the Lighthouse' and 'Adam Raised a Cain.') )
hradzka: (cameron's head)
Things I have to do on my Sunday morning: clean the house, clean the guns, change my car's oil, rearrange the bookshelves, do laundry, do my taxes.

Things I actually do: write SCC fanfic.

Priorities, I has them.

ETA: Um. Wow. Thanks, everybody, for the great response. If you liked this story, you might also like "Cinderella, Made of Steel," which I wrote for Yuletide 2008 (DVD commentary on that story is here). Also, some people have said they'd like to read more fic about Savannah and/or Catherine -- me too! So I've put up a Weaver family fic challenge; if you feel like contributing a commentfic or something longer, please do give it a whirl.

Seven Sunday Mother-Daughter Mornings
by David Hines


SUMMARY: Catherine Weaver wins. Then what?
RATING: PG


Savannah Weaver was sixteen years old when she first dared to broach, even tangentially, the subject with her mother. It happened over breakfast on a Sunday morning. Savannah, still wearing her pajama bottoms and tank top, was eating an omelet with broccoli and tomatoes. Catherine Weaver was immaculately dressed. It had been years since Savannah had seen her mother any other way.

Catherine was eating the same breakfast Savannah had seen her eat since Savannah was five years old: two pieces of toast, dry. )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I just rewatched SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES' "To the Lighthouse" and followed it up with "Adam Raised a Cain."

Short non-spoilery commentary: HOLY CRAP is this show getting good. Everything is really hitting its marks, and all the plot threads are coming together in a really effective way.

The scenario the show has set up is really quite terrific: on most shows that run season-long plots, you kind of know what to expect come season's end. Oh, yeah, that's when Buffy fights the Master. The shows tell you what's going to happen, then do it. What SCC's doing -- and this is really interesting, and it's very enjoyable as a viewer -- is that rather than leading to one expected climactic outcome at season's end, the show actually could do a bunch of different things at this point, *any of which would be dramatically satisfying.* It's not that I have no idea where they're going; it's that they have so many good ways they could go, and I'm not sure if they'll pick one I've been pondering or if they'll do something else that's good that I hadn't thought of. Because they could totally do that from here.

That's pretty cool.
hradzka: (cameron thinky)
Just a quick note -- was it me, or was anybody else mildly boggled at the fact that SCC and DOLLHOUSE were both really solid episodes last night?

Not really a surprise with SCC -- it hits and misses, but when it hits it's terrific -- but DOLLHOUSE really surprised me. I was working up a post that pointed out the structural problems with the series (the biggest one: why do you have a garking huge cast if you're not going to use them?), and the show does the kind of episode I was hoping they'd do. There are still things that annoy me, not all of them unique to DOLLHOUSE, but it was a shot. And SCC, which is doing a great job with the chess game stuff, brought in some very strong action bits. The show's not trying for impressive setpieces, but they're doing some darn nice understated bits in service to the story. And there was a nice mix of guns, too! I honestly don't remember the last time I saw a Mini-14 on TV, which is odd considering how many Ruger has sold.

(I note approvingly that said Mini-14 featured the 20-round magazine. Take that, draconian California gun laws! YOUR TELEVISION CHARACTERS FLAUNT THEM.)
hradzka: (cameron's head)
SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
"Today is the Day, parts 1 and 2"
by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz
rating: ***1/2


And that's why I keep coming back. THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES may succeed or fail come renewal time, but you can't deny the show never gives up. There are missteps and occasional stinkers, but when SCC is on, it's really on. Living up to James Cameron's action-adventure is an impossible standard for a TV show, so the solution is: *don't try to do that.* In "Today is the Day," a future war scene includes a sailor bitching about the chess game John Connor's playing against the machines. And that's exactly right; I blinked when I heard it, because I've been thinking about it in exactly those terms ever since the writers introduced that great idea about the future constantly being overwritten by different factions. SCC is not an action movie. It's a chess game. We just don't know all the colors, or how many players there are. And when SCC is about chess-playing, it works.

Today is the Day is a case in point. )
hradzka: (cameron screw you)
I've been busy as hell and caught behind a poky net connection, so I've just caught up on the last two weeks of SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and DOLLHOUSE. Mixed bag for SCC: one crappy, one really damn solid. DOLLHOUSE is... still DOLLHOUSE. Improving, but the more you watch it the more you realize: the workaday office life of the Dollhouse itself is more interesting than any of the missions Echo has been on.

Read more... )
hradzka: (cameron undone)
My Valentine's Day: I went kite flying, got a gun out of the repair shop, and caught up on the TV I missed Friday because I went to catch the new FRIDAY THE 13TH. (Short verdict: different, but not a bad reinterpretation; the kills are pretty good, some very good, and Derek Mears gives good Jason.)

Dollhouse )

SCC )
hradzka: (snoop)
Caught up with SCC again. "Earthlings Welcome" was all right, I guess, but man, how 'bout that "Alpine Fields?"

"Alpine Fields" *works.* It shows what the series can be when it fires on all cylinders, and it shows the techniques that really suit the show. It also shows that the series is getting better. One thing I like about SCC is that you can see experimentation. The show hasn't just stuck in the mold of the clunky pilot, or even of last season. It's been experimenting, and the experiments are telling. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fall short, and the show has been slow to learn what it does well. But then, so was STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and that turned out okay.

Lately, the show has been doing some very interesting stuff, even if it hasn't always worked. "Self-Made Man," in particular, was a really neat idea, and it was executed about as well as it could be, but there was no getting around the fact that it was Cameron and a guy in a library giving us exposition dumps for most of the hour. The character scenes between Cameron and Eric, the librarian, were terrific; I especially loved the bit where Cameron taught him how to shoot, and I'd like to see the character again. Still, the episode tried to do something really difficult, and it didn't quite work out. But it was a neat try.

"Alpine Fields" knocks it out of the park. The hard thing about a show getting set up is that it's hard to figure out the dynamic that will work best, but when one does you can sure as hell point to it and say, "Yes, *that.*"

For example... )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
I'm doing lots of business travel, and I tend to watch my TV online. It's been a busy couple of weeks, so thanks to Hulu I've just gotten caught up with TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. It's really interesting to watch the show evolve. I've mentioned before that I flat-out hated the pilot, but when you start at the bottom there's nowhere to go but up. SCC still isn't a great show, but it's becoming interesting, and even its failures are instructive.

The biggest problem facing SCC is that its premise is not one that automatically suggests stories for a television series format, which means that it'd be all too easy for the show to be an unending rinse/lather/repeat of "find the Terminator, stomp the Terminator." The other big problem is that the robots-who-look human gimmick has been really well mined, and recently, by Ron Moore's reboot of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Tough act to follow. So it's understandable that the show has flailed about a bit, and is still trying to figure out what it does best. So far, the best bits have to do with time travel, and the psychological effects it has on people who employ it to run from the dystopian future to the past. (See the excellent guest role by Richard Schiff.) I'm looking forward to seeing what the show does with those things in the future.

That's not to say it's securely on the road to where it needs to go. One of the biggest problems is that the character dynamic is muddled. Read more... )
hradzka: (303 british)
Catching up on THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, I note that in the episode "Goodbye to That," Derek Reese gets smart and engages a Terminator with a .50 BMG Barrett rifle -- I didn't get the best look, but since he fires it semi-auto (*off-hand!*) at a Terminator, I guess it's the M82A1. The scene was pretty close to my dream come true, as Derek targets joints and vulnerable areas with a very powerful round, and uses claymores to slow the baddie as needed. Pretty well-done scene, especially when you consider that the production has to keep Terminators really formidable to make opposing them dramatically interesting. My only real gripe is that Reese was shooting the .50 (again: *offhand!!!*) pop-pop-pop, like he was firing a .223. I will accept that Reese is nineteen kinds of manly, but there are limits. That round has some kick to it. There's a *reason* the M82A1 comes with an integral bipod.

Nice to see some interesting gun selection in the second season, though. If the SCC crew are so inclined -- and if logistics will permit; I don't know how the prop departments handle this stuff -- they could have a lot of fun with different kinds of weaponry.

Another way to handle a Terminator: as we've seen in previous episodes, you can cause serious annoyances for a Terminator if you damage its tissue to such a degree that it can't readily pass as human. That might be a legitimate strategy to employ, particularly against the socially-skilled models. (Shirley Manson would, of course, be another story.)
hradzka: (roy harper)
"Can you stop it?"

"I don't know. With these weapons, I don't know."

-- Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, THE TERMINATOR


"These are brand new. We just got them in. That's a good gun. Just touch the trigger, the beam comes on, and you put the red dot where you want the bullet to go. You can't miss. Anything else?"

"Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40-watt range."

"Hey, just what you see, pal."

-- T-800 and gun shop owner, THE TERMINATOR


The pilot of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES was out-and-out terrible. The later episodes have picked up, and I think the show has potential.

At the same time, I think Sarah and Co. desperately need to rethink their weapons strategy.

We need bigger guns! )
hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)
Since half the folks on my flist seem to be geeking out over THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, I gave the show another look. (I ran screaming about halfway through the pilot, which I just found to be abysmal and boring. This means that it was worse than the pilot for the new KNIGHT RIDER -- I just fell asleep halfway through that one.) It's not a great show, but it's a heck of a lot better in the later episodes. Of the episodes I've seen, there has yet to be one that really works for me, but there have been several individual scenes that were nicely effective: Brian Austin Green's Derek Reese uneasily interacting with Summer Glau's good!Terminator as she calmly destroys one of the baddie machines; Sarah's ex-fiance's wife being nicely unstupid. The show still isn't firing on all cylinders, though, and even in the best of scenes something feels a little off behind the camera. I don't know if it's the editing, or the directing, or the cinematography, but it feels a little clumsy, a little... not quite there. The show needs to do a better job on guest casting; the ex-fiance's wife had a nicely-written speech, but the performance, though it started out fine, wobbled into the stodgy. (Dean Winters, who plays the ex-fiance, also annoys me: the guy was excellent as Ryan O'Reily on OZ, but he's got to loosen up a little here.)

Overall, I think the biggest problem the show will have to face is getting good individual stories out. The best TV series in speculative fiction have a simple premise that offers a wide variety of storytelling possibilities -- BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's "High school is (literally) hell" may be the best high-concept premise in SFTV history, because as soon as you hear that pitch you realize, "Jeez, there's a zillion stories you can tell there." THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES will have a harder job turning out good stories week to week; it'd be all too easy to turn it into a game of dodge-Terminators-stomp-Terminators-rinse-lather-repeat.

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YOU NEED A BOOK

A POEM EVERY DAY

The collected poems from my descent into madness year spent writing daily poems are now available from Lulu as the cheapest 330-page book they would let me make ($16.20). If that's too pricey, you can also get it from Lulu as a free download, or just click on the "a poem every day" tag to read them here. But if you did buy one, that'd be awesome.

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