The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Mid-year Media

What have I been watching recently? I’m showing a good ROI by waiting until a show has been out for a few years and then following up, instead of being on the cutting edge. So my recommendations are a few years behind the times:

  • I’m almost caught up with Dr. Who. My wife watched this with her father when she was a kid, and now we watch with our kids. I think it works very well on both levels. Serious Downside — I’m no longer able to tune out Dr. Who related conversations at game stores.
  • An offhand comment about Stephen Moffat (my favorite writer for the new Dr. Who) led me to check out Jekyll, a mini-series from BBC. (It’s a modern-day “Sequel”). I’ve recently come to realize that I actually love the British habit of saying “We have enough for X episodes. We’ll do X” instead of the American way of saying “We have a good idea, so we’ll get a full season of 22 hours.” Jekyll has 6 (full) hours, with almost no filler, is stunningly consistent (all episodes written by Moffat, only two directors) and just damn good.  Love, Conspiracy, and a charming psychopath. (Make sure you get the Jekyll from 2007 with James Nesbitt, the title is hardly unique. Amazon).
  • The off-hand comment was in a review of Moffat’s new Sherlock (a modern day version). It should be showing on PBS this fall (or possibly BBC America at some point).  I’m looking forward to it. At this point if he wrote it and it sounds vaguely interesting, I’m in.
  • Speaking of modern Holmes, I saw “Zero Effect” (which the AVClub casually mentioned last year). It’s not bad, despite the cast.
  • Black Dynamite, a blaxploitation movie from last year, is fun. Whereas “I’m gonna git you sucker” was kind of “Airplane-ish,” this has more of a “Grindhouse” vibe, with parts of the movie deliberately bad, parts played straight, and parts way over the top.  (Although this is by no means a recommendation for Grindhouse, which I found atrociously bad. But the idea was good.)
  • I couldn’t get into Party Down (I didn’t give it long). I’m slowly working through Arrested Development, but I don’t love it. (Watched about half of season 1).
  • I did love “Archer” (from FX). What if James Bond and Lara Kroft were exes, and worked together in a Dilbert-style office? Oh, and Bond is a messed-up doucebag. My go-to series for quotes the last few months. Only 10 episodes (until next year’s season 2).
  • Horror — Triangle wasn’t bad. A clever idea well done, but not gripping. Thirst (the Korean vampire movie) was pretty good.
  • Surrogates wasn’t nearly as bad as the reviews made out. Which doesn’t make it great, but “OK if you like SF.”
  • Movies turned off or abandoned after an episode or two (I love Netflix for making the sunk-cost fallacy much easier to avoid) — Spartacus: Blood and sand & Ted each got an hour. Step Brothers (10 minutes). Time Bandits (I’ve seen the end several times, but turned it off after 20 minutes).  In the Loop (10 minutes). Miragemen (30 minutes).  Grindhouse: Death Proof (10 minutes). Adventureland (20 minutes). Caberet (20), Red Cliff (1 hour).
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats was disappointing, but I finished it. The Informant! kept me interested, but I’m not sure why. Ditto the Invention of Lying, which had some good ideas and amusement, but didn’t quite work (as the reviews all said).
  • Duplicity was clever, although I guessed the key plot point as soon as it happened.
  • The Protector (with Tony Jaa) had some seriously good fight scenes. (And I don’t consider the 4.5 minute fight up four stories of a hotel’s interior done in a single take a great fight, although it was impressive from a technical POV). And it’s odd to see someone looking like a ripped 1978 Michael Jackson (but shorter) kicking ass and screaming “Where’s my elephant?”
  • Le Samourai — Classic, worth watching if you like slow movies about a bad-ass.
  • Harakiri — Ditto. Honestly, this demands an American action remake. (The original has 10 minutes of action and 2 hours of backstory, and a modern retelling could balance that out).
  • Hot Fuzz was hilarious.

Update: And I forgot the only thing so good that I went out and bought the DVDs after I’d seen it — Flight of the Conchords.

Written by taogaming

July 31, 2010 at 10:29 am

Posted in Non-Gaming

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6 Responses

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  1. The first Sherlock was really good.

    They’ve only made three so far.

    Simon J

    August 1, 2010 at 6:30 am

  2. Spartacus, Blood & Sand got much, much better after the first episode. Depends on your tolerance for heavily muscled men, only some of whom can act, cheap sex, and over-the-top gore, of course. But I really liked the series, and I wasn’t thrilled after the first episode. Most of the characters in the first episode don’t carry over much into the rest of the series, other than Spartacus, and it’s the characters who show up in the second episode who are the neat ones to follow. It’s also there where some of the more interesting story arcs show up.

    Might be worth the second hour, anyway.

    Dave Dobson

    August 1, 2010 at 10:09 am

    • Actually, I think I saw the second hour too. (That has the gladiator/slave owner’s party with the indoor pool, etc?) I wasn’t impressed with it, but I can’t remember if that’s the 1st or 2nd ep.


      August 1, 2010 at 10:58 am

  3. Don’t give up on Arrested Development – I enjoyed it more and more as the series progressed.


    August 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    • Ditto on Arrested Development. It just gets better and better. Awesome sitcom.


      August 4, 2010 at 1:03 am

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