TV Review: Travelers

TV Review: Travelers

So, last week I stumbled on this new series from Netflix, Travelers. It is, to put it mildly, awesome. The premise is that the distant future kind of sucks so humans, who are living in overcrowded shelters and facing extinction, start sending their consciousnesses back to the 21st century and take over people who are about to die in preventable deaths and then perform missions to try to change the future.

It’s a fun premise to run with and it’s probably one of the better concepts of time travel that I’ve seen. All of the Travelers are great characters and show how difficult it is for someone to assume a new identity — even if they have access to all that person’s “historical records.” It also shows just how short-sighted humanity it is (at least en masse), even in the future.

I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the show (and you definitely need to see it). Eric McCormick is great as Grant MacLaren but my favorite character is Philip Pearson, the group’s historian. He winds up being sent back into the body of a heroin addict and has to deal with that, the withdrawal, and all of the stress that comes with being in a completely unfamiliar place and having zero support (everyone else in the team has some kind of family to fall back on). The actor playing him, Reilly Dolman, does a great job of striking the balance between “genius historian with eidetic memory” and “junkie trying to get clean with no real help or support.” And yes, I may have just found my latest fictitious crush.

Aside from McCormick, the cast is all a bunch of unknowns and they all do a great job. Hell, everyone does a great job — the directors, the producers, the writers, the camera guys, the effects dudes, the music crew. Even the guy who makes the coffee for the second assistants to whatever does a great job and deserves kudos.

Travelers is available on Netflix. Check it out if you haven’t already! This one gets five — yes five rainbow farting zebricorns.

Seriously, go watch this show if you haven’t already. If you liked Star Trek (any series), Star Wars, Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, The X-Files, or any shows like that, you will love this one!

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Okay, so, I may have been just the teensiest bit busy last week and kind of forgot to hit the “publish” button on the last chapter of this story. Not to worry — that just means you all get a double dose this week. So, be not sad and don’t waste any replicator rations — there’s plenty of booze and beverages to go around while you settle in to read the latest two chapters of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

Yeah, I revisited the transwarp flight thing. I didn’t redo the whole episode — just some bits of it (and it’s a multi-chapter work) that are interesting. So, you don’t have to worry about a bunch of rehashed dialogue. I learned a lot from Adrift and Alayne’s Story. But, things are progressing and it’s going to be interesting so go get your read on.

I’m going to be moving my Friday Review entry to Saturday from here on out so check back tomorrow for that.

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Happy Friday, everyone. The latest chapter of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation is up for your reading pleasure. Things are moving forward and we learn a bit more about T’Loran’s past and much fun is had. Okay, not so much “fun” but “setting up things” because yay for exposition.

Anyhow, I have some other work to clear out of the way so go on and get your read on!

— G.K.

Politics and Television

Politics and Television

Or “Why G.K. Didn’t Watch The Debate.”

Oh dear Lord, we’re going into another active phase of the perpetual election cycle, aren’t we? Last week we got to see the spectacle that was the GOP debate and, while I didn’t watch it live because I knew that, even with it being on Fox with supposedly “friendly” moderators, the talking-heads weren’t going to be able to resist their chance to ham it up for the cameras and that the entire thing was going to be more about ginning up the ratings for the sponsors than it was going to be about the candidates actually, you know, talking about the issues and debating different approaches following set logical rules and avoiding logical fallacies such as strawman, reductio ad absurdum, tu quoque, ad hominem, appeals to (false) authority, special pleading, No True Scotsman, post hoc, and more while presenting actual evidence and solid reasoning for their beliefs or policy.

Can you tell I’m a bit of a throwback and a cynic? Television has ruined a lot of things and debate, argumentation, and critical thinking are among those things. It’s a great medium for entertainment and it can be used for education, yes, and story-telling. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not one of those who thinks that television is completely evil and has no redeeming qualities. I enjoy it — I have an active Netflix account and I’ve got Criminal Minds playing in the background. But, when it comes to journalism, television is the worst medium that could be used. It doesn’t allow for truly in-depth coverage, cross-referencing, citation of sources, or deep thought. Newspapers are the best medium for daily coverage and bi-weekly or monthly magazines are great for bigger events or more thorough coverage of events or technical issues. Radio can be a passable medium so long as the moderators and the debate format are agreed to in advance and the topics are adhered to. Television, however, will never make a good medium for political debates or journalism.

Why? Because it’s commercial. And, that’s good for entertainment. Hell, it’s great. It means that businesses and consumers are free to reward shows and sponsors and channels that entertain them or tell stories they like or support or whatever without having to directly own the studios or airwaves or whatever. There’s no real need for government intervention, censorship, or anything like that other than “truth in advertising” laws (you can’t advertise that your wooden spoon is actually made out of marble) and possibly some kind of daytime/child-safety advertising laws (you can’t run alcohol ads or other adult ads during certain hours or on channels aimed at children — not that most marketers would sell or buy there anyway because it’d be stupid). However, it’s an undeniable fact that you don’t piss off your sponsors and you don’t piss off your core audience. Just look at GamerGate. Intel pulled their ads from Gawker when Gawker’s articles pissed off a sizable portion of the GamerGate audience and they threatened to boycott Intel. And that kind of pressure is fine for entertainment shows and even educational shows. But it is not fine for journalism. It leads to worries about offending the corporate sponsors or the consumers which leads to spin, blacking-out of stories, and a focus on feel-good stories or the promotion of news items in a way that is guaranteed to keep the money-spigot opened.

Another reason television is a terrible medium for journalism is because it’s a visual format which leads to people judging based on appearances instead of based on the actual argument. Have you ever noticed that all of the news anchors are good-looking? And that none of them are terribly intelligent or creative? If they were trapped in the middle of a desert, they’d be screwed. Hell, if they were knee-deep in a river, they’d die of thirst. They went to fancy universities, yes, but that means nothing. Unless they graduated from CalTech, Standford (with a degree in hard sciences), or MIT, it’s worthless. These people were hired for their ability to look good on camera and read from a teleprompter or from cuecards. They were not hired for their ability to think critically, reason, ask difficult questions, or for their finely-tuned bullshit detectors.

A final reason television is the worst medium for journalism is because of its shallowness. Television is a very shallow, very short-form medium. Since it’s so visual and auditory, it’s easy to get overstimulated which makes it difficult for long-term memory to be engaged (which is why visual tricks and cut-aways can be used to deceive so easily — see below). The set-time format makes it impossible for any topic to be covered in real depth and the inability for there to be hard, permanent reference points for citations or notes makes cross-referencing difficult, if not impossible. Add in the general passivity it requires of the audience and it’s just a terrible medium for something as serious as news journalism and political debates.

There are other reasons television is a terrible medium for serious topics — it’s untrustworthy because it can be deceptively edited without the viewer being aware of it at all and, unless there are other recordings made, there’s no way to prove it (and there are never other recordings because of technical and legal reasons — no sound studio is going to let an interview subject bring in his own film crew and sound crew because not only will that cause phase cancellation issues, energy, and temperature issues but it sets them up for liability and insurance nightmares. The studio and journalists also won’t go for it because then they won’t have the sole copyright, there will be a plethora of distribution issues, and it would force them to be too damned honest).

Television — great for entertainment but a terrible way to receive information and select our leaders. Just FYI.

— G.K.

Throwback Thursday: G.K.’s Vulcan Nerdcrush

Throwback Thursday: G.K.'s Vulcan Nerdcrush

I think it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one at all that I have always been a Trekkie. I started watching it when The Next Generation began airing. My dad was a bit of a nerd and it was considered family entertainment so we watched it together. Of course, I got far more into the show than he did so I kept watching it even after he lost interest.

Now, I know what everyone’s thinking. No, I didn’t have a crush on Wesley Crusher. Ew. ST:TNG started airing when I was six or seven years old. I also didn’t have a crush on Data (though he was a favorite of mine) or Picard (though I thought he was awesome) or Q (though I thought he was hilarious if a little mean sometimes). It wasn’t La Forge, either (even though I liked Levar Burton because I was also a big fan of Reading Rainbow).

I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t anyone on the senior staff and it wasn’t anyone who was a regular guest or recurring character. At least, not on TNG. He also didn’t make an appearance until late in the series when I would have at least been aware of boys and mildly interested in them (albeit more in the academic sense because it took me a while to get into the whole “dating” thing and that was more the result of succumbing to peer pressure than any actual interest in the paradigm. Yeah, I did have interest in a couple of boys during my teenage years but it was always more a mental connection than physical or emotional. Kind of still is, now that I think about it).

And if that hasn’t given you all of the clues you need to figure it out, I don’t know what to do other than just tell you that the second major crush I had (the first being Haplo the Patryn from the Death Gate Cycle) was on Ensign Taurik from The Lower Decks (S7:E15) which aired when I was 13. The same actor who portrayed Taurik was cast as another Vulcan in Voyager — Vorik — who is also a character I really liked (though I didn’t have a crush on Vorik because, by then, I was way too busy with school and dealing with the soul-crushing grind of social norms that were alien to me to have much energy to spare developing a crush on a character from a TV show I was only half-watching while trying to wade through the mountains of homework I had. Yay for honors and AP courses that no colleges actually bothered to honor even when I aced the exams!)

Tell me he’s not at least a little bit cute. The actor is definitely not hard to look at. He’s probably married to some super model or something. That’s Alexander Enderberg, btw (and no, I don’t have that memorized. I just have amazing Google-fu).

So, there you go. For Throwback Thursday, one of my more embarrassing secrets revealed. I had a major nerdcrush on Taurik from ST:TNG when I was younger (kind of still do a lil’ bit). Nae worries, though. G’s Code is still in force (I will never go anywhere near anyone famous I like, admire, or respect unless I have legitimate business or financial reasons to do so which are beneficial for them because these people have enough fans who want a moment of their time and I refuse to be one of them). So help me Bob, we’ll never be in the same ZIP code and once I get my particle accelerator up and running, we won’t be in the same solar system so the chance of accidental interference will be less than negligible (I have done the math!)

— G.K.

RIP Beth Greene

RIP Beth Greene

I have not been this sucker-punched since the first time I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If I were anymore floored, you could put carpeting on me. So, all I have to say is…

 

Well done, guys. Very, very well done. I haven’t been this emotionally traumatized over the death of a fictional character in a while. I thought the death of Sturm Brightblade in Dragonlance Chronicles was harsh but at least there had been some serious foreshadowing for that event. No, this is up there with losing Aeris in Final Fantasy VII right after you get her Ultimate Limit Break and spend over 20 hours leveling her so she can learn it. Even watching the Doctor lose Rose in Doomsday wasn’t this gut-wrenching.

 


Of all the times to run out of Phoenix Downs…

 

I may need to join a support group for this.

 

It’s not just that Beth and Daryl were my OTP ever since “30 Days Without An Incident.” It’s not just that she brought something that no one else could to the group — hope, idealism, and a little ray of sunshine. Yes, she started out in a bad place but that was just an aberration. She grew so much and was such an important but constantly taken for granted part of the prison gang that knowing that there is no chance we’re going to see her grow further is really, really depressing. But that is not the worst.

 


Yes, I was a Beth-Daryl shipper. Look at this and honestly tell me you don’t see it happening.

 

No, the worst is that her death was completely her own fault. Beth Greene practically committed suicide and she had to have known it. As soon as she put those scissors in her cast, I knew that there was no way this was going to end well. And I was right.

 

Now, before you jump on me with “well, she wasn’t just going to let Noah go back and let Dawn keep being Queen Bitch,” I get that. I know that she couldn’t do that. But, Cthulhu help me, she could have stopped and thought it out a little bit better. Rick can be a pretty silver-tongued fellow. He’s talked them out of some pretty bad situations when he was dealing with people who had at least some rationality left in them (so the Governor does not count because he was bat-crap crazy). She also knew that Dawn’s days of running Grady Memorial were well and truly numbered. Chances are that if Beth had just stepped back, one of the other cops would have taken Dawn down and then everyone (who wanted to) could have walked out of that hospital which is what Daryl wanted.

 


Instead, we got this

 

I’m both dreading and anticipating the second half of the season in February. I know it’s going to be tough watching the rest of the characters deal with the aftermath just when all of us in the fandom will have begun to move into the “Acceptance” stage of grief. However, gut-wrenching as this is, it must be necessary to the plot. It will give the characters who still live a chance to grow…or to be paralyzed. Watching them decide which way to go will be interesting even as it may wind up being heartbreaking.

 


Tell me that’s not heart-wrenching

 

And no, I’m not pissed at the writers. The only way they’re going to piss me off is if they take a page from Captain Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru playbook and throw us “The Search for Speth” or some other kind of deus ex machina maneuver. Beth’s death is a tragedy. I feel horrible for Maggie* because I know exactly what must be going through her mind. I feel terrible for Daryl* because I know how this has to have hollowed him out completely. But she died. Nothing’s going to change that. And if the fandoms turn against the writers and the show because they’re not going to magic up a solution to this relentless and remorseless fact of life, then they can vote me right off the island, too.

 


And now permit me to deliver my rebuttal…

 

Still…hardest sucker-punch since Wrath of Khan. That’s a badge of honor, Kirkman. A badge of frickin’ honor.

 

— G.K.


*I do mean the characters and not the actors. I’m sure it must be difficult for them to lose a coworker in what must be a very emotionally-charged environment. But, I do respect that the actors and the characters are separate people so no, I’m not spending a lot of time wondering what Lauren Cohen or Norman Reedus is thinking. It’d be a bit creepy if I did since they probably already have half the fandoms sending them sympathy cards or the like. I’ll just continue my respectful “not ever interacting with them because the 30 seconds I don’t take from them is 30 seconds they can do something they’d rather do” policy. So far, it’s working great! 😉

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