Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wizards vs Aliens Thoughts

Despite the tragic origin of the CBBC show Wizards vs Aliens, I tried to give it a fair try during its first season. While the first season had some shaky stories, I was willing to grant them the benefit of the doubt, especially with the amount of world-building necessary, but I'm starting to doubt them.  This show seems much more heavily pitched at a young audience, with few to none of the touches that made SJA such a cross-audience show. 
One of the main flaws of the season premiere was heavy use of the Idiot Ball. Why didn't Tom just show Chloe his magic instead of merely insisting she couldn't go on TV? Why is a TV special considered ultimate proof of  magic, instead of something most people will say "oh, special effects?" 
Likewise,  the secondary characters fail to develop. Chloe may be realistic, in that she welcomes fame as most teenagers do, but she has few traits beyond that. In contrast,  a similar character in the SJA episode "The Madwoman in the Attic" has a friendship with one of the protagonists before the story opens and with another character during the story itself. 
Finally, any characters taken by the Necross are prematurely aged and never mentioned again.  It would be really neat to see one of them again and learn more about how it affected them. I mean, are they now biologically 50, 60? It feels really callous to just leave them. My vote would be for Mark from the series premiere, since he's played by Elisabeth Sladen's husband, but I'd be fine with Chloe or anyone else.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Reichenbach Problem

Conan Doyle is not Sherlock Holmes. And he's sick of people treating him that way.  He just wants to get away from it, but his vacation to Switzerland is off to a bad start when he picks up an accidental traveling companion . It only gets worse when someone at the hotel where he's staying is found dead in the mountains--why, of course he'll want to investigate!
This book, although historical fiction, is not based on an actual incident. I've only read one other series of real person fiction, and that was closer to fantasy than historical fiction. The author notes the fictional elements in the preface, but the story itself should make it clear to readers that this never happened.
The mystery was well-written, with interesting characters and a consistent tone, but there were some elements of a modern worldview that snuck in. Doyle (admittedly, against the normal mindset) dismisses homosexuality as a live-and-let-live issue, and his religious views are very palatable to modern readers, though the latter may be closer to the trope. Also, some modern terms such as "whirling dervish" appear. 
Overall, I think this novel is a decent read, but not historical realistic. 3/5

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blessed Child

Ted Dekker is known for his intense fiction that focuses on spiritual truths, either in alternate realities (The Circle Trilogy) or realistic thrillers (Thr3e). Blessed Child has a more intimate plot and a smaller cast of characters used to good effect.
Ten-year-old Caleb has never seen the world outside the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery where he was raised, but when rebels attack, he is sent to safety with Caleb, a Peace Corps volunteer and Leah, a Red Cross nurse.  When Caleb heals a blind boy at a church service, he becomes the center of a media firestorm.
While I wouldn’t rank this among Dekker’s best works, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to be challenged in their views about spiritual gifts.  While the book may seem to glamourize displays of power, it also makes a point that healing hearts is just as significant.
This book really made me think about spiritual gifts and the power of God. As a an evangelical Christian, I have a certain amount of skepticism about gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, and other gifts associated with the more charismatic denominations.  While the Bible does tell us to “test spirits,” we also need to realize that God doesn’t always work in the ways we expect, and his power is beyond our imagining. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What's your favorite season (of television)?

I love autumn. The leaves fall to the ground and die and that reminds of my favorite BBC characters.
--tumblr post
Yes, it's that time of the year again. Despite lacking a TV, I've been watching a few shows, just to see how they go.

Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon)
Season two is receiving mixed reviews online, mostly due to romantic entanglements. I really enjoyed the previous show Avatar: The Last Airbender, but if twelve to sixteen-year-olds can win a 100-yr-long war with minimal adult support, older teens should be able to cope with civil unrest, especially with the mentor figures they have. Tenzin and his children are cute, but my problems with Korra really go back to her first words onscreen
 (after she Earthbends  a wall across the room and bending three elements at once.) 
I'm the Avatar. You gotta DEAL WITH IT!
Yeah, I'm not exactly a fan of that kind of attitude.

Agents of Shield (ABC)
 It's a sequel to the Avengers. With Agent Coulson. Enough said.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)
I quit season two after "Lacey," and a lot of the concerns I had are still there. But I'm willing to give it another try. The new villain has potential, though I hope all the family bickering comes to an end.

Waiting for:

Sherlock (BBC on PBS)
No air date known yet.

Wizards vs Aliens  (CBBC)
A spiritual successor to The Sarah Jane Adventures, this show struggled to find its feet, but there were some good characters and funny moments, so I have high hopes for season two.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)
Maybe the spinoff format will help keep the sprawling characters in check.

Watching on DVD

Warehouse 13
Kinda cool, acknowledges that people exist between California and DC.

Dresden Files
Didn't even finish one episode. Sorry, creepy monsters just work better as a book. The skinwalker just reminded me of the Slitheen.