Tru Calling

Tru Calling - The Complete First Season Tru Calling: Season 1

Tru Calling is an interesting show about Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku), a woman who can relive days in order to save the lives of people who die before their time. She discovers this talent when she applies for a job at the morgue and the body of a young woman rolls over and whispers “Help me”. She is then plunged back in time to the morning of the same day which she relives and decides to save the life of the woman who asked for her help.

This series was, in some ways, doomed to be canceled, first because it aired on Fox (land of the “reality” shows), and second because of the premise. Don’t get me wrong, the premise is really interesting. But how many times can you show a woman running through her days twice? There are only so many ways this premise can be used. And this first season pretty well ran through them all.

About half-way through the first season, it appears that the writers realized that they were boxed into a very rigid corner, so they added a bad-guy, in the form of Jack (Jason Priestley). Unfortunately, this appeared to be more of a “get a well-known star onto the set to save the show” than any effort to work with the premise in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the character of Jack was very flat and uninspiring. Priestley did an admirable job making the character interesting in a creepy way, but ultimately his character was just annoying.

If you’re interested in Science Fiction television shows, there isn’t a lot out there for you to watch. And it looks like Tru Calling was cancelled by the Fox network before it could air it’s second season. The DVD of the first season is available with some interesting extras, such as commentary and three shorts discussing the show.

I enjoyed Tru Calling, and the DVDs were fun to watch again. It’s too bad it was cancelled, but not as big as loss as Firefly.

A Legend of Earthsea – on the SciFi Network

A Legend of Earthsea

SciFi Channel

Let me first say that I haven’t read A Wizard of Earthsea or The Tombs of Atuan since I was 10 years old or so. So, bearing that in mind, I watched A Legend of Earthsea on the SciFi Channel without a lot of expectations. I’d watched them mess with their original series Farscape until it was just a bunch of loose ends and then tie it back together again when the fan-base screamed bloody murder. So, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this movie.

That said, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t the best TV movie I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t the worst. It was much better than most TV offerings right now and it held my attention.

The acting was so-so for the most part, and the CGI to create the various cut scenes reminded me of a video game (so much so that whenever they cut to the evil warlord, I thought we had moved to a video game commercial for some RTS war game), but like I said, it was enjoyable and entertaining for two nights.

I then went online and learned that nearly everyone who was anyone in SciFi hated this travesty of a TV movie. What was I thinking that I could say that I enjoyed it?? Even the author of the books it was austensibly recreating was ticked off.

So I re-read the first book

If you’ve read A Wizard of Earthsea any time in the last 5-10 years, don’t watch this movie. You’ll hate it. It’s as if the screen writers took the first two books (A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan) and cut the scenes into chunks. Then threw the scene chunks into a hat and pulled them out at random. Then, when they didn’t seem to fit right the way they were, they added scenes and changed things and generally made a hash of the books.

For one thing: his TRUE name is GED not Sparrowhawk as they said on the show. I mean, WHY would they make that change? It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but crimeny, they got it completely backwards.

It makes me wonder if Gavin Scott read the books back when he was 10 and then wrote a screenplay of what he remembered. Nice work if you can get it.

So, I stand by my original assessment, it was an OK TV movie about a kid coming of age and falling in love (of course) and uniting two forms of magic (of course) and saving the world (of course). It’s too bad that they put the “Earthsea” label on it. But I suppose if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have watched it, as I would have assumed that it was another SciFi Channel botchup job.

But if you’ve read the books it was possibly the worst adaptation of a SciFi novel I’ve ever seen.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

This was a bitter-sweet mini-series for me, because it appears that they really won’t be making any more episodes of this wonderful series. Without giving any spoilers, let me just say that the ending is even more of an ending than the series ending was.

If you’re not familiar with Farscape, it is a story of an astronaut, John Crichton, who is “shot through a wormhole” and ends up on the other end of the universe. There he meets up with a living ship, named Moya and becomes friends with her crew. It is a story of adventure and drama as everyone on the ship is a fugitive and wants to get to his or her respective home.

Over the course of the seasons, we learn more about the different races and cultures that make up the Peacekeeper universe. It’s not peaceful, let me make that clear right away (as if the title of this mini-series doesn’t give that away). And the wars are just as stupid and inane as they are on Earth, just with larger weapons.

In the course of the TV seasons, John has been given the knowledge to control and manipulate wormholes. This knowledge is highly sought after, because the Scarans and the Peacekeepers believe he can use it to make a super weapon. He can’t, but they don’t believe him.

The Peacekeeper Wars opens exactly where Farscape, the series, ends. [spoiler alert]Aeryn and John are not dead, just crystalized. And Rygel swims around the ocean floor picking up all the crystals so they can be put back together. Of course, they appear as they were when they crystalized – locked in an embrace. But they quickly recover and have their blasters out (yes, Winona is still around) and aimed at the surrounding people.

The action is all there, the humor is there, and the relationships just get better and better. Some of the characters that I was annoyed by in the series are not nearly as annoying in this episode (Jewel – yes, I mean you). There are sad points and happy ones and all in all it’s a very satisfying 4 hours – end of the show notwithstanding.

The SciFi channel went a long way towards redeeming themselves with this mini-series. It doesn’t make up for the show being cancelled, but it’s a very good mini-series a lot of fun and interesting for sci-fi junkies and Farscape lovers alike.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Last night I had the opportunity to see a pre-screening of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie). This was a fun, over-the-top fantasy set in the 30s, the golden era of Science Fiction. Giant robots attack New York City, and rayguns that shoot concentric circles set the stage for a journey back to the Science Fiction of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you’ve been reading SciFi for a long time, you will probably love this movie. It has a lot of charm and the style is very reminiscent of old-style Science Fiction. I love the ray gun. How can you not love a movie that has a ray gun?

Movie fans who loved Superman will see a lot of similarities in style to this film. There are also references to the War of the Worlds and King Kong.

If you are a fan of CGI work, this is also another good reason to go see this film. In the commentary by the director after the film, he said that every scene was composited with CGI. Items that the actors touched (like the ray gun) were real, but anything they just looked at or stood near was most likely CGI. This kept the price down, but it also meant that the actors had to do a lot of imagination just to get through their scenes. The principles worked together on set (Jolie was filmed over only 3 days), but any extras were filmed alone in front of blue screens and then composited into the shots. Sir Lawrence Olivier is even in the movie!

Go see this movie! It is fun and great scifi and you’ll love it.

Angel: Season 1

Angel - Season One Angel – Season One

Angel is a really good show. It’s amazing that it was cancelled, but at least it’s out on DVD to watch over and over. Detective dramas are a dime-a-dozen, and if you saw my review of Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff, you know that the “genre” can be a bit over the top even in good books and shows. But Angel is the spin-off character (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that could carry it off.

David Boreanaz plays the brooding title character, Angel, a vampire with a soul. But before you groan and click away, it’s really not that bad. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is what makes it so much fun to watch. The action is dark and can be relentless, but that just makes it more exciting.

This first season DVD set comes with extras that expand on the show and make it more interesting for the die-hard fan to watch. Some of the commentaries can be very dull to listen to, but when Joss Whedon talks, the episode is actually enhanced. He has a very clear vision for where he wants his show to go and he works hard to get it the way he wants it. If Joss Whedon is associated with a TV show or movie, you can be sure it will be good.

Futurama Volume 1

Futurama, Vol. 1 Futurama Volume 1 This is a very fun 3-disc set including all 13 episodes from Futurama volume 1. If you never saw Futurama, you should seriously consider getting or renting this DVD set. And if you have seen Futurama, well, you probably already have it.

There is so little Science Fiction on TV, so it is really nice to see Matt Groening (of Simpsons fame) putting his incredible talents to this series. It was a huge disappointment when it was cancelled. Especially when you consider the number of lousy reality shows that Fox airs in its place.

Futurama is the story of Fry, accidentally cryogenically frozen in the 90s, who wakes up in the year 3000 (or thereabouts). He meets his great-great-…-nephew and joins the Planet Express company as a delivery person. Every episode he meets aliens, deals with crazy robots, talks with reanimated heads of famous people from the 20th century and more.

This is a hilarious series and not to be missed for the true SciFi afficianodo who wants a laugh.