There Has Been or Will Be An Awakening

Listen to that voice. Who is it?

Maaaaaaybe THIS GUY?

BenedictCumberbatchSmaug

Fan reactions at Digital Spy are undecided as to who the voiceover is, but I think it’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I recently watched a rerun of Graham Norton where Cumberbatch was encouraged/goaded/genially forced to say things in different voices, including a very funny bit of Smaug.

BONUS: Benedict Cumberbatch can’t say “Penguins” which is very awkward considering he voiced a heroic wolf who helps save the Penguins of Madagascar in the new animated feature out this weekend.

EXTRA BONUS FOR PEOPLE WITH LADYPARTS OR A THING FOR SMAUG: Sexy Smaug voice is deployed.

After watching the trailer, I’m pretty sure that the voice is Cumberbatch’s, even though he gallantly responded “No comment” to Graham Norton’s persistent questions.

My Husband The Action Figure. Complete With Redshirt And Tricorder

My friend Ellen in Germany saw a recent story about getting 3D printed action figures on her blog recently (see Creativ Zeit)

However, my brother-in-law Mitch and I had already conspired together to produce this masterpiece:

20130625-130331.jpg

This came about because Mitch found a website that with a few photos could generate a Star Trek action figure of your choice with your head or the head of a loved one on it. He also found a website that could generate .OBJ files, which can be opened in Blender.

So I told David I was working on a weird “art project” for Second Life in Blender and told him I needed him to take my picture “in the round” so I could see if I could generate a 3D head in Blender… and then added, “let me take your picture too, so I have a couple of things to work with.”

Worked like a charm.

I ended up taking a shit-ton of photos of David, as he rotated around in an unused office chair upstairs in the guest bedroom, and I have a similar number of photos that he took of me. The results were only sort of okay looking in Blender; David’s head was malformed due to the website software having trouble differentiating between the pale wall behind him and the pale reflected light on the side of his head.

My 3D head image came out a bit better, but had an odd cast in the eye.

Ginny360Head

David didn’t want his 360-degree head getting out there in the wild, but he really likes his action figure. For the record, he’s Engineering, not a “redshirt.” And Mitch and I agreed that the tricorder was the prop of choice.

Nerds Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Roman Numerals To Identify Star Trek Movies

My husband David and I were watching a cable rerun of one of the original-cast Star Trek movies last night, because we are nerds and thus we have no life. The official title of this movie is something long and involved: Star Trek (Insert Roman Numeral Here): The Search For Spock.

At least in our house, the official name of this movie is actually “Star Trek: You Klingon Bastard, You Killed My Son. You Klingon Bastard, You Killed My Son. YOU KLINGON BASTARD, YOU KILLED MY SON.

It takes place on the Genesis planet, immediately after the events in the previous movie, Star Trek: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! which of course was a sequel to the very first Star Trek classic-cast movie, Star Trek: VEEJUR NEEDS SPACE GUITARS.

In like fashion, the only way I can remember the Star Trek movie that follows ST: YKBYKMS is by calling it either “Star Trek: Double Dumbass On You,” or “Star Trek: Save The Damn Whales.” You may also remember it’s the one with the antique nuclear wessel.

The one after that is either “Star Trek: Oh, God!” or “Star Trek: Uhura’s Embarasssing Fan Dance,” and the one after that is generally “Star Trek: The Last Hurrah,” or “Star Trek: FFS, Let Picard Drive Next Time, Grandpa!”

And so on. The “Next Gen” installments, being more recent, have aged a little better for me. Some of them were excellent (“Star Trek: Very Manly! Lots of Testosterone!*“), and one or two of the later ones (“Star Trek: Sexy Bald Captain’s Clone”) were stinkbombs.

The new reboot was rousing, but inevitably, in my mind it has become both “Star Trek: You Romulan Bastard, You Blew Up My Vulcan!” and “Star Trek: Sector 90210.” The newest installment, which is still in “teaser mode” is likely to become Star Trek: Sexy Hot KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” if the hints and spoilers are accurate.

So anyway, in spite of some serious scenery noshing mostly by Shatner, we enjoyed watching “ST:YKBYKMS.” Our affection for the characters still overcomes our dislike of the hokey plot elements. Also, this movie is the one with Christopher Lloyd doing a little “Spaceman Jim” riff when he drops into laid-back English while using his communicator screen, instead of barking orders in monosyllabic Klingon. I started watching pretty early on; the makeup on the Klingons looked pretty bad and you could see where the prostheses began on the upper cheeks.

This is also the one where the mighty Enterprise is given the space-operatic version of a Viking funeral; since Starfleet wasn’t going to refit the old gal, it seemed fitting that Kirk destroy her (with the classic destruct sequence from the old series). That’s okay, they get a shiny new one in the next movie, but not before limping home (and back in time) in that creaky old Klingon Bird of Prey with the rather useful cloaking device. Oh, that reminds me; the next movie after this one also goes by “Star Trek: Everybody Remember Where We Parked The Car.”)

How do you remember multiple-installment genre movies? How the hell does anybody remember all the Friday the 13th and Halloween installments? My system works for me, but admittedly it worked better when there were Shatnerisms to play with.

*Before Star Trek: First Contact was released, I distinctly remember reading an interview somewhere with Jonathan Frakes, who directed in addition to playing Riker. The interview included a tease of Frakes directing Patrick Stewart hunting Borg survivors on the Enterprise armed with a prop plasma rifle. Frakes was shouting encouragement, such as “very manly! Lots of testosterone!,” and so that is how I will always remember this movie.

Bob Anderson Dead: Sword-Master, Darth Vader Fighter Dies At 89 – The Huffington Post

Highlander fans mourn, too; Mr Anderson was associated with the movie and television franchises (at least at first).

My HL friends will be sad to see this. Sorry, everyone – Bob was not immortal after all.

LONDON — Olympic fencer and movie sword master Bob Anderson appeared in some of film’s most famous dueling scenes – though few viewers knew it.
Anderson, who has died at age 89, donned Darth Vader’s black helmet and fought light saber battles in two of the three original “Star Wars” films, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

Link: Bob Anderson Dead: Sword-Master, Darth Vader Fighter Dies At 89 – The Huffington Post

Resolutions Not Meant To Be Broken If I Can Help It And Not Force-Fed Chocolate

Isn’t this a boring blog? Isn’t it? My life’s not really this boring, it’s just that I rarely take the time to write a full-bore flat-spin blog post anymore. I fall back on my old standbys, Google Reader (shared news) and my various Twitter accounts. I can’t catch up on blogging during the work week for going on 3 years, so every now and then I do a big “here’s what’s been going on” catchall.

Yeah, boring. And I haven’t even really done a big London mixed-grill slap-up bang-up, either. The pictures are still on my hard drives – the laptop, the desktop, AND the iPad – but I hope to work through the main archive, cull the weaklings, and upload the lot to Flickr and Facebook.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I even did a write-up of the last trip to Hawaii. I suck at blogging, so I resolve to do better.

I resolve to write more blog posts – ideally, every other day if possible. I used to update multiple times a day but most of that was “ZOMG look at this dumb political hack putting his big fat cloven hoof in his pie-hole” stuff.

No, I want to blog more about what goes on, day-to-day, in a house with 2 somewhat disorganized geeks, more computers than can conveniently be counted while wearing shoes, and a cat who stalks dust bunnies and re-delivers them up in covert locations.

Also, I resolve to write something so funny, rant-astic, or well-written that it blows “How Old Is Your Whirlpool Washer” off my ALL-TIME MOST READ, MOST COMMENTED POST list (I don’t mind that the post about installing the graphics card is second, I’m just glad people find it useful).

Meanwhile, Allie Brosh gets all kind of love from famous Internet geeks like BoingBoing and TV’s WilWheaton, and any day now I expect that she’ll get a book deal, rather than self-publish like Betsy did. And while I’m at it, gosh darn it, I’m going to update my blogroll. Okay, done.

I also resolve to find more awesome for my blogroll.  However, this could take some time, as I tend to burn about 10-15 minutes per link, because I keep finding more and more awesome stuff.

Other resolutions: I will sign up for the health club at work after the new year. The monthly rate is higher – no longer subsidized by the office – but dammit, I’ve regained some weight and I liked feeling trimmer and slimmer. I know I can do it, and I know I can say “NO DAMN YOU CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, YOU MAY NOT GET IN MY BELLEH” when necessary at work. It’s tough getting through the candy holidays, though. I did it last year, didn’t avoid it much this year. Will have to be strong for Valentine’s Day and Easter, and then we’re good until Halloween.

Another resolution: I will try to get to bed earlier.

And some more:

  • I will try to read more books this year.
  • I will not settle for another Top Gear or Mythbusters rerun, I will seek out new worlds, new civilizations.
  • I will try to update the church website more frequently and promote events via Twitter and the blog.
  • I will try not to grumble, bitch and moan about those things that frequently make me G, B, and M.
  • I resolve to make eye contact and smile at people more often. I don’t do this, and it seems to matter. Duh.
  • I will try to behave as if I have a normal-sized amygdala.
  • I will try not to bore people with my doings at church, with the cat, or in Second Life.

And oh, crap: now I need to do a whole raft of boring, Second Life-specific resolutions like everyone else. Huzzah!

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s be not boring out there!

Giving Eli’s B Plot An A On #SGU

David was out of town for a couple of days this week, leaving me to knock around in the evenings watching weird shows he doesn’t like and saving up most of TiVo’s good stuff for when he got home, which was last night. I watched a whole lot of Hoarders, some Intervention, a couple of nice old movies, and random stuff… but I made sure to watch this week’s Stargate: Universe because it’s an interesting take on familiar science fiction themes. Unlike other “Lost In Space” type shows, there’s conflict between characters, people can die or be seriously injured, and they are changed and traumatized as the long-arc story develops.

Every episode title seems to be a single word – usually the one thing they need, or the one concept or theme that is a commentary on at least two of the multiple plotlines. This week, it was “Pathogen,” and infection or infestation was the them in the Chloe and Eli stories, of course. But I also think there’s a case to be made for various kinds of addictions, too – we saw Col. Young drinking some more of the hooch the one scientist distills for him. And Camille’s partner was never seen without a big glass of red wine – please, could we have a more subtle metaphor? Anyway,  there was a lot of deeply buried conflict surfacing, and also the Lucian gangstas are always spoiling for a fight with Sgt. Anger Management (Greer).

Eli’s character, though, is the “audience surrogate,” the person who’s the heart of the crew.  Everyone has problems, but Eli brought a sense of wonder with him and can still get starry-eyed about traveling amongst the stars, even when being chased by aliens that look like soft-shell crabs.

He’s Math Boy, he’s the earnest friend who’ll never get the girl represented by Chloe – she’s too busy being hunky Lt. Scott’s girlfriend.  Somehow, the three of them are fast friends, though. Eli is sometimes described as “the most important person on Destiny” because he’s the person who solved the math problem that cracked the Stargate “ninth chevron” code (it wasn’t what fans speculating in 2007 thought after all).  Eli’s “B” plot is the most compelling and emotionally satisfying one in the episode – it earns an A+ from me.  The others were interesting or enlightening, but not as compelling.

Eli’s mother is ill and depressed, and in the middle of the crisis of the week, Eli is told that his mother is deeply depressed and it’s aggravating her health problems (she’s a nurse who is HIV positive via a needle stick).

SGU has a plot device consisting of 4 or 5 “stones” telepathically linked to a matching set back on Earth, which allows the writers to have various characters body-swap back home. This isn’t necessarily a fan favorite, this body-swapping, but it HAS made for some interesting developments.

The “A” plot was probably Chloe’s storyline, which involved some sort of alien infestation that’s turning her into something else, which threatens the ship if allowed access to controls. Eli’s story would probably have been the “B” plot,  except for the very moving scenes of Eli in his mother’s hospital room,  wearing some soldier’s body and trying to convince her that he was, in fact, her son in someone else’s skin and that he was actually on a ship billions of lightyears away.

The “C” plot revolved around Camille Wray, visiting her female partner yet again (sigh) because apparently you just can’t go to the lesbian well often enough to be cutting edge drama these days.

Dr. Rush was manipulating everyone and everybody and even Destiny itself. As one commenter at IO9 (see link below) pointed out,  Rush went in the alien dunk tank,  too,  so why wasn’t he showing signs of unusual healing powers and writing in his diary in alien script??  I’d call the Rush angle the “D” plot,  which is always running quietly in the background of most episodes but doesn’t get much advancement – he’s an enigma with an agenda, that one. But there was a lot of development – we visit his secret calculus lair, although he leads Young and the others that it’s Chloe that’s been the cause of Destiny’s odd behavior, and not Rush manipulating the FTL drive.

A lot of SF fans on the Internet seem to have strong opinions of SGU – they love to hate it, but there are also a lot of people who like it a lot and want to see where all the mysterious threads lead.

A recent development – the “alien sanctuary planet” where a few former crew members stayed – isn’t a favorite of mine because to my mind it’s an unwelcome metaphysical intrusion. I didn’t care for how they resolved the problem of TJ’s baby by having its…. spirit? soul? somehow physically manifested on the alien-built planet when TJ woke up back on Destiny after being shot.

Meh. I’m not one for the havin’-a-baby plotlines on my shows, even less when they resolve them by making the baby or child disappear when they’re no longer needed.

IO9.com posted a pretty positive review – and the comments run the gamut from A… to B. The whole thing is worth a read, there are lots of insights there.

I think I can safely say, if you didn’t like last night’s SGU, you won’t be a fan of this series in general. We finally cracked open all the drama each character has been carrying around for weeks. About time!

Eli’s mom has come down with a bad case of the television malady “losing the strength to live.” You remember this disease from such classics as the third Star Wars prequel, or Rent. Is can’t-go-on-itis lame. Yes — but at least it meant we got to hang out more with Eli, and watch him unravel as his mother goes down the tubes.

via SGU breaks open the space drama we’ve been waiting for.

Stargate Universe Rates Pretty High, Actually

Enjoyed Friday’s episode of #SGU, not just because I’m a fangirl. Plenty of nuance, a lot of trudging across White Sands, but they’re in survival mode, people! And what about that shuttle?

Syfy continues ratings roll: Stargate Universe averages 2.35 million in premiere – TV Ratings, Nielsen Ratings, Television Show Ratings | TVbytheNumbers.com

Edgier and younger in tone, SGU takes the franchise in a dynamic new direction, appealing to longtime Stargate fans and first-time viewers alike. The two-part premiere of Universe was directed by Andy Mikita (Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1) and lensed by Rohn Schmidt (The Shield, The Mist). The series also stars Alaina Huffman, Louis Ferreira, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, Jamil Walker Smith and Brian J. Smith.

SGU follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack. The desperate survivors emerge aboard an ancient ship, which is locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth. Faced with meeting the most basic needs of food, water and air, the group must unlock the secrets of the ship’s Stargate to survive. The danger, adventure and hope they find on board the Destiny will reveal the heroes and villains among them.

My husband David and I were, like a lot of Stargate: SG1 fans, kind of late to the party. The original TV series, itself a spinoff from a movie staring Kurt Russell, started out life on Showtime but we were not subscribers to that cable service. Fortunately, it started showing reruns after about the first season or two on the SciFi network, and then they started running several episodes at a time on “Stargate Mondays.” Eventually, the show moved to SciFi itself, and we were soon caught up on all the old seasons and waiting impatiently for new episodes to air.

When Stargate: Atlantis premiered, we liked it a lot, and thus when first SG1 and then Atlantis were eventually canceled, we were saddened and perplexed. Sure, we could see why after a lengthy and very successful run, it was time to wrap up SG1 so that the cast could move on to new projects. But we couldn’t see why Atlantis was being cancelled when it was only a few seasons into what could have been just as long a run, and felt kind of resentful that a whole new series, Stargate: Universe, was immediately announced. What? No more Dr. McCrankypants and his amusing fear of citrus products?

However, in spite of our reluctance to get sucked in to yet another SciFi/SyFy show that inevitably gets canceled by beancounters, we watched last week’s premiere of “Universe.” I’m glad to see that the ratings were good, because I think it has a lot of potential  – not just as “a sci-fi show” but as “a drama set in space with character-driven plots and lots of potential conflict/problem resolution stories.”

It was quite interesting to me to see how in the 3rd part of “Air,” (the first two parts were the 2-hour premiere last week) there was a lot of fragmentation, lack of group cohesion, and out-and-out dislike between characters. Not only that, but there’s likely to be a lot more shades of grey as far as individual versions of the truth and the current situation is at any one moment. As in, Rush orders Sgt. Greer to do something drastic, and immediately afterward, declares that Greer did this horrible thing (before it was clear that Greer would actually be around to explain his actions). When Greer showed up, that sets up a bit of an awkward moment later for Dr. Rush if questions are asked. It’ll be interesting to see if that bit of business shows up later as an example of the untrustworthiness of Dr. Rush, who continues to present an almost mystical, supremely confident public face, with a side of “how dare you!” when challenged. Yet when he’s alone, that’s when his defenses are down… and you wonder if he’s really a megalo-maniac, or just a garden-variety suicidal maniac.

It’s hard to write ambiguity, and shifting loyalties, and group dynamics that lack clear focus or strong leadership. That’s why it will be interesting to see how things develop in the weeks to come. Clearly, their first priority for survival was Air; next week seems to be about power reserves, light, and the lack of it.

Also, there is that matter of the shuttle that took off shortly after the ship went back into FTL (faster than light) drive; there were 2 people that went through the desert planet’s gate to some other planet that they thought offered a better chance of survival. Are they lost forever? Did someone (most likely Eli, who tried desperately to herd cats on the planet) go back to try to find the others?

Yes, it looks and feels a little like Battlestar Galactica (a show I never watched, although David hung in there with it). It doesn’t SOUND like BSG though, thank God; I couldn’t get past the whammity-bammity wardrumming on Galactica and the soundtrack for SGU sounds much more orchestral, yet without the synthesizers favored in the previous shows. To my ear, the music is more sonorous, melodic, and a little more melancholy than either Stargate series ever was, and the cinematography up to now has been either claustrophobia-inducing, or opened wide up, emphasising the hugeness of, yes, the universe compared to the puny humans now marooned on a derelict ship.  As in – the opening shot shows empty space, and the ship materializes (slows from faster-than-light speed) far, far away from the camera’s point of view. How lonely, and how beautiful, and how mysterious. We remarked at the time that we thought the ship was coming alive, attempting to prepare for its long-awaited guests, as the interior lights were coming on as the Icarus ring was connecting. Also, it was a little like “light the lights, show’s about to begin.”

It doesn’t look or feel like either of the previous Stargate series, which isn’t necessarily bad or wrong; just different. Maybe I should make a quick list of attributes for each series as I currently see them, to illustrate the differences…

stargate_cast

Stargate: SG1

  • Utilitarian, military-industrial look, with cinematography to match
  • Military bases have lots of concrete and battleship grey paint/colored graphics
  • Alien planets have “trees, lots of trees” and otherwise look like Vancouver’s Sydney Park
  • Aliens are little nekkid grey men, or humanoid with glowing eyes and weird voices.
  • Stargates look “ancient” and have moving parts and a revolving inner ring to dial
  • Everything looks well-used, but is clean and in good repair
  • Blue and white accent lights generally, with lots of gold and flaming braziers on Goa’uld ships
  • Music by Joel Goldsmith was symphonic, synthesized, and capable of many moods
  • Personality of the show is more masculine than feminine (military, weapons, blowin’ stuff up)

Stargate: Atlantis

  • Graceful, curvilinear sets with Frank Lloyd Wright-like decor, brushed steel and teal blue
  • Military bases (on alien planets) more corroded, clearly damaged in incessant warfare
  • Alien planets still tend to be forested, but more remote in feel (farther from Vancouver?)
  • Aliens are either replicants, or badass insecto-humanoid Space Vampires! With weird voices! Flee!
  • Stargates don’t need no stinkin’ revolving inner wheel, just light up and go! Also: In space!
  • Everything looks brand new and works perfectly yet mysteriously
  • Lighting is bright and clean, again with lots of teal blue with neon-like accents
  • Music is similar to SG1’s but more delicate, ie., less heroic adventure and more lyrical aspiration
  • Personality of the show is more feminine than masculine (female leaders, design, Teyla’s pregnancy)

Stargate Universe

  • Darker, grungier, angular, with an early Art Deco look with a side of Steampunk (on the ship Destiny)
  • Military bases are either simpler (Icarus) or dark and cramped (Pentagon command center)
  • Alien planets? Thus far, stunning sand dunes location at White Sands, NM. Next week, trees?
  • Aliens: Unknown. Possible alien entity resembling a whirlwind on the gypsum planet.
  • Stargates we’ve seen either light up, or ring revolves on a base. Bonus: steaming exhaust vents!
  • Everything looks about to fall apart, is decayed, rusting, or barely working but capable of repair
  • Lighting: much darker, shaky handheld camera work, battery powered lights. Kino cams!
  • Music: Still Joel Goldsmith, sounds more like a chamber orchestra than synths, moody and dark.
  • Personality: Fragmented, chaotic, and fraught with interpersonal conflict and hidden agendas.

Stargate Universe

Bring on the rampant pantslessness, #SGU, and also the gritty, dark, but beautiful effects. @moryan has her take on the premiere, and I have mine on my blog.

The Watcher: Desperate survivors get lost in ‘Stargate Universe’

I’ve now seen five hours of the show and still don’t feel all that invested in the the fate of 1st Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith). Theoretically, I should — he’s one of the show’s lead characters.

Two characters do stand out (more on that below), but the rest of “Universe” feels like an awkward mishmash of genres and tones. Though I had been cautiously looking forward to another iteration of the “Stargate” franchise, at this point I’m not sure its creators are taking Scott and his fellow survivors anywhere interesting.

This drama, which follows a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians stranded on an alien ship very far from Earth, is supposed to be the “edgier” “Stargate” TV series (that’s Syfy’s word, not mine). It would allegedly be more like “Battlestar Galactica” than “Stargate SG-1,” which, at its best, had an team of exceedingly watchable characters take on any number of alien threats armed with advanced weapons, acerbic humor and a great deal of pluck.

My husband David and I liked the show (AKA #SGU) a lot better than the Chicago Tribune’s TV critic Maureen Ryan ( @moryan ) did. She’s usually right on the money on her likes and dislikes when it comes to science fiction/genre shows, but we’re willing to go along for the ride for quite a bit longer yet. I think that Mo’s criticism is meant in the right way though – she’s interested in shows being as good as they possibly can be, and it’s not doing anyone any good if a premise is just being milked for advertising dollars, rather than going out to the edge and doing something new, creative, and worth watching.

We’re a little more emotionally invested in the show than Mo is, though. We liked it rather a lot, really…

Especially after the bit early on where the Eli character, a fanboy/gamer who introduces himself as “the contest winner,” is reluctant to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Gen. “Jack” O’Neill and a Dr. Nicholas Rush show up at Eli’s house, the morning after he solved a mathematical proof written in an alien language in a video game called “Prometheus.” He asks what will happen if he refuses. “Then we’ll beam you up to our spaceship,” replies O’Neill evenly. Eli shuts the door in their faces. My husband and I laughed, and said “They can do that, you know,” as Eli trudges upstairs and out of sight. “Boooozzzzh!” I said, imitating the sound the Asgard teleporation effect made on previous Stargate shows, and within a half-second, a bright flash of light from upstairs and the familar sound proved me right: they beamed Eli up to the ship so he could sign the NDU from a better informed point of view. We howled with laughter; we loved it and it was clearly comic relief as it was a flashback, after a decidedly grimmer, yet darkly beautiful opening sequence.

As you might expect, they beamed Eli up all right; in front of a great big picture window.

Yeah, lots of SF shows cut to the chase by beaming some reluctant yokel up to the ship; it’s become a kind of signature move. I laughed (or gasped sympathetically) when they did it on Star Trek: Next Generation, and I laughed this time, too.

The basic premise of the show is that there’s a strange Stargate on a distant planet that apparently draws its power directly from the planetary core, and is capable of dialing a unique 9-character address. An entire command team, Project Icarus, has been on the planet for 2 years, working on building a base and getting the stargate working.

Clearly, they think it’s someplace important to go – but wait, there’s more! When they went to Pegasus, sure, there was a lot of Ancient technology to discover and adapt, but there were also a galaxyful of bad-ass, life-force-sucking space vampires.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go somewhere unimaginably far, far, away and encounter new lifeforms, and new civilizations, and an infinite number of new, immeasurably more bad-ass, bad-ass enemies? Oh, well, sure it would! Let me stuff a few cans of tuna in my go-bag, and where do I sign?

Since the previous series, Atlantis, was based in a different galaxy and required 8-character addresses to get back to the Milky Way galaxy, the idea is that calling a 9-digit number is super-duper extra special. So all of a sudden, after years of work, some gamer kid solves the power calculation problem that was inserted into a video game, and he’s taken on a space ship to go to this planet and actually aid in getting it working. But it doesn’t work, exactly, during the test, and then the planet is attacked by some leftover bad guys from the previous series and the kid and the scientist desperately try to solve the power calculation so they can dial the gate and evacuate everyone from the planet, which is being bombarded. And they do, but the scientist thinks the gate is too powerful to dial Earth, something I actually doubt; I think he was desperate to go to the 9-character address for reasons of his own, and could actually have gotten them all safely to some destination other than Earth. He happens to bring some communications technology with him through to the other side, and soon enough claims to have talked to O’Neill and to have been put in charge.

Meanwhile, Eli finds some floaty ball things left over from that time Luke was first learning to use the light sabre (no wait, wrong universe) and starts video blogging. In the meantime, a pretty girl is nice to him, and he solves a couple more problems and is picked for the official first exploration team because he’s already made a habit of pulling their asses out of the fire, according to the injured commander. He’s a schlub, but he gets a wardrobe upgrade and no longer has to beg for pants. His life is unexpectedly better than you’d think for a kid who’s lost in space with a bunch of strangers on a starship that’s about to fall to bits at the speed of light.

Okay, that’s a lot of wish-fulfillment wankery to get through, but the Eli character is clearly a fan surrogate, and he’s actually pretty funny and not without a certain ursine charm. Yet wouldn’t it have made just as much sense to just use his solution and go on with the Icarus project in secret? The whole reason they didn’t, is so there’s a character whose function is to look around him in awe and wonder. Also, he’s the “fixer” dude who taught himself to read or decode the alien language, sort of, as a part of the process of solving the in-game puzzle.

Other characters, as Maureen Ryan mentions, are various kinds of functionaries. Rush is enigmatic and obviously not telling everything he knows or suspects, and he’s not very trustworthy if you ask me (and he seems to be grieving for lost love when he’s not creepily ordering people around). The military types are a mixed bag; the commander is injured and possibly an epileptic, his next in command is your obligatory Hot Guy In Uniform literally caught with his pants down (though he’s only a lieutenant, so he’s young enough to clearly wish his commander weren’t half-dead). There’s a crazy sergeant (mentioned by Ryan in her review) who’s either a psychopath, or a rebel. There’s a couple of cooks who’ll probably turn out to have some other useful skills, there’s a Senator’s daughter (obviously potential love interest), there’s a medic who tried desperately to save a dying doctor so she wouldn’t be the only one with medical training…

Sure, it’s contrived. Sure, it’s derivative. But one of the problems I had when Stargate: Atlantis first premiered was that they get to Atlantis, and it’s this pristine, brand new wonderland that’s been sitting on the bottom of an ocean for millennia. There were lots of cool toys, and they all worked, although they had the annoying problem with lack of power. I wasn’t invested in all the new people then, but I was put off by all the shiny. And now, I miss McKay and Sheppard and everyone else. This is a much more random group of people, with a lot more potential for conflict and interesting character development, so I’m quite willing to suspend disbelief even as I’m aware that it’s yet another “deus ex machinae” kind of show (those Ancients were pretty clever to seed the Universe with gates on habitable worlds, etc. etc.).

With the ship in Stargate: Universe, they’ve got an old “bucket” that still mostly works, but it’s been damaged over the years. I’m pretty sure that there’s plenty they don’t know about what it’s for and what it’s mission really is; I’m betting that it was always designed to carry groups of Ring-building colonizers to more and more distant planets, but also designed to travel empty between galaxies. We were kicking around the idea of whether the ship will have a personality, with the likelihood of it possessing an artificial intelligence pretty much a foregone conclusion. I’m hoping they go more for a Moya-like self-awareness (although the ship is clearly not an organism) rather than a non-substantiaL humanoid (as in Andromeda).

David’s sort of hoping there’s no Pilot. I’m pretty much hoping there’s no hologram.

Children of Earth Day Three

We’ve really, really been riveted by Torchwood’s 5 part miniseries this week. Today’s the day when the creepiness ramps up even more. Meanwhile, our surviving heroes have to start from scratch, because their cool underground lair got blowed up on Monday.

Torchwood: Children of Earth – BBC America

The Captain Jack Harkness character is immortal, and one thing I’d wondered about was what would happen if he was blown to smithereens. We found out on Day Two – this was one of those nagging questions that always bothered Highlander fans, too. Jack faces some of the same issues as a classic Highlander immortal character, too. We found out he has relatives, and has to deal with losing them as they age and die. Interesting.

Need to concentrate now, as the team does an inventory on how they save the world with pocket lint.

Warehouse 13: But Do They Have Data?

TV roundup: Every sci-fi and fantasy show to watch this summer | SCI FI Wire

Warehouse 13, Syfy. Premieres July 7 at 9 p.m.
This new dramedy from the reinvented Syfy follows the adventures of two Secret Service agents, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly), who end up tracking down mysterious artifacts for the super-secret government facility known as Warehouse 13. Saul Rubinek plays the Warehouse’s quirky caretaker, Artie. The premiere kicks off with a two-hour pilot and is from executive producers Jack Kenny and David Simkins. Thirteen episodes have been ordered.

Poor Saul Rubinek. He seems to be typecast as the guy who likes to collect weird alien artifacts.