Reviews on everything I read or watch from the world of the imaginative and the fantastic.

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March 27, 2015

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Promised Me Season Five of Game of Thrones Will Be the Best Season Yet

In my books to tell you anything about the season five premiere episode of Game of Thrones "The Wars to Come" other than the fact that it exists and it airs April 12th would be a spoiler, but I attended the event in San Francisco on Monday and I can tell you a little bit about that, and who was there, and who I saw, and the titillating details you no doubt came here for because you can't wait another second for 9 p.m. on April 12th to come.
The premiere was held at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House Monday March 23, apparently to ignite buzz with the social media/tech community in the city, and the crowd was largely made up of random Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, Apple etc. employees and their plus ones. Plenty of series actors attended and I was able to catch a glimpse of them — not enough maneuverability or proximity for a selfie but at least I was just feet from Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), HODOR! (Kristian Nairn), Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), what I'm pretty sure was Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), and the father of the mother of dragons himself Mr. George R. R. Martin!
Also in attendance were Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). I caught a peek of Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) but I didn't get any pictures of them (frowny face). You can see below though that Nathalie was a stunning show-stealer (Nikolaj wasn't too bad to look at either).

HBO CEO Richard Plepler thanked George R. R. Martin and introduced David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, calling all three creators “geniuses and gentlemen” and stating that the words genius and gentlemen don’t go together as often as you might think. Then David Benioff and D.B. Weiss let us in on the strategy they deliver to the network for every season of Game of Thrones: that each season be better than the next. That’s a really high bar that they continually set for themselves, but you can take it as a promise that Game of Thrones season five is going to be the best season yet (would David Benioff and D. B. Weiss lie to you? Didn’t think so.)

Below are the pictures I managed to snap; they're pretty bad, but have a click through the gallery to see how close I was to Arya, Bronn, Hodor, Stannis, Petyr, Lancel and King R. R. Martin!

Excited for season five? Me too! Check back for my review of the Game of Thrones season five premiere April 12th. In the meantime, if you beg me for spoilers in my comments section ... it probably won't hurt (but no promises!)

March 20, 2015

Con Man: A new comedy from Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion produced by ME! (and YOU!)



The past ten days have been a blur for any true Brown Coats i.e. those of us who obviously haven't gotten over Firefly yet. On March 10th Serenity's Pilot Alan Tudyk and Captain Nathan Fillion announced the Indiegogo campaign for Con Man, because Convention Man doesn't sound as cool. It's going to be a show about an actor who played a pilot on a sci-fi show that was beloved by fans but was cancelled by a network, too soon, and another actor who went on to become grossly successful after the cancellation of the show, and they seem like best buddies. If you love Firefly, watch their campaign video (above) and the teaser for Con Man (below) and support the campaign (while pretty much buying cool fan merch before the show's even made) by clicking here.


March 7, 2015

The Darkness on The Edge of Town — Once Upon a Time's mid-season return is everything that's good and bad about the series


images from ABC      
We all love how #OUAT boldly goes where no show has ever gone before, mixing fairy tales with out of place Disney flicks that aren't, working Frozen in before the movie's first birthday, turning Red Riding Hood into a werewolf, Snow White into a bandit (and a badass), Peter Pan into Rumplestiltskin's dad, that sort of thing — and season four part two promises its own bold choices. It's pretty bold to use up three villains in one half season, for example. If they run out of villains, that'll pretty much be the end of the show, but nonetheless, creators Kitsis and Horowitz are using up Cruella De Vil, Ursula and Maleficent all at one time. 


But the best part is, the introduction of these three villains is really just to serve the purpose of bringing back our favorite: Mr. Gold. If you thought at the end of the half season that Mr. Gold being banished from Storybrooke forever meant he'd never come back to Storybrooke ... Well, deary, you shouldn't underestimate the dark one.


Another thing we love about Once Upon a Time is the visuals — the images and the montages that real fans will get, and connect with, that make us smile, like Emma reaching for her sheriff's badge from the bottom of her closet when things go back to normal, Snow teaching a class about ornithology, and Regina with a huge smile on her face while she burns a painting of a bird (wait, why did she burn the painting of the bird? I don't get it).


The Darkness on the Edge of Town opened with a montage of all of our favorite images: the mayor's office with the bowl of red apples, Hook waiting by Emma's yellow bug with a cup of coffee, Henry outside Granny's before school.


Actually, I'm lying — the episode opened on a ridiculously over the top, garishly colored and jarring scene taking place "Many years ago ..." with cheesy special effects and terrible writing in which the three lady villains, Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent, verbally spar and throw cheesy special effects at each other in attack. But I want to stick to the good, and on the pretty parts of #OUAT. I'm a big fan of Ursula in front of the aquarium. Let's focus on that.


Things are back to normal in Storybrooke, but the new normal is that Mr. Gold isn't allowed in and Belle has to cope with a broken heart, while Hook beats himself up for letting Gold manipulate him. I love all this stuff. I mean, in a way it's the same old story, but now there are fairies trapped inside a magic hat that Emma and Regina have to set free. That's different.


What I'm getting at is that what's good about Once Upon a Time is the fusion of the real world and the Disney world, Captain Hook referring to computer as a magic box and Ursula making sure Gold knows how the microwave works. Dwarves in Maine and sea witches in New York City. Cruella going bankrupt and having her house and assets seized by the IRS and Ursula living in a crappy apartment. That's what's so good about this show.

That better not be the last Ramen.
The flashbacks can go either way, though. Two stories wove between each other in The Darkness on The Edge of Town — the heroes in Storybrooke free the fairies while the villains in the enchanted forest fight a monster thing I never got the name of. I know they need to weave together but did that fight scene really need equal screen time to Gold's entire plan to get back to Storybrooke, Emma and Regina's defeat of the same monster thing, and Ursula and Cruella's meeting with the Charmings? A lot happened on the real world side to move that story forward, but we had to plow through an equal amount of, as Hook puts it, "monster bashing" to get to the good stuff.


The half-season to come makes a lot of interesting promises, though. We're definitely going to get Cruella's story, foreshadowed when she says "I will never go back to where I started." We can assume there will be more of Ursula's origin story, for fairness sake. Next episode will explain what the the Charmings want Ursula and Cruella to keep secret (or it had better). And the theme of this half season seems to be the corruptibility of the savior. Emma is definitely going over to the dark side. That's what I'm looking forward to the most, and here's for hoping she steps into Regina's old shoes and really embodies the "e" word: evil.


There were strong points and weak points in this episode for sure. My comment board is a good place to air your complaints! Did you love it or hate it? Which parts made you cringe?

March 1, 2015

Giving Up The Ghost by Brandon Arment


Giving up the Ghost by Brandon Arment


There's a new literary sci-fi out that really kicked me in the heart, possibly with the twelve-volt car battery that plane crash survivor Adam Trager uses to jolt himself into the past before the accident, back when the only people he loved in this world were still alive. Sorry, let me start over. Adam Trager is a twenty-two-year-old son, brother, writer, English major, physics aficionado, indie music lover, directionless wanderer, and heir to a Denver Telecom giant. Essentially, he's perfectly placed for a life of ease and fulfillment, and has a bright future before him — until he loses his entire family when his father, Winslow Trager, crashes their private jet. And that's where our story starts.

Giving Up The Ghost is a story about time: its healing properties as well as the cruel impassivity with which it keeps passing after a painful loss. It's a time travel story, but it's also a story of grief and connection in the most human way possible. Weaved throughout the book are Adam's brother Pete's writings, which help Adam to process his brother's death and also express a love for literature, music, film, and storytelling of every kind. It can be hard to write about writers and pull off a book about books, but Arment accomplishes something that will speak to the heart of any and every avid reader.

Let me know if you end up reading the newest novel from this independent Colorado author! I want to know what you thought. Check it out on Amazon

February 18, 2015

The Wheel of Time is Better Than Game of Thrones and How I feel about the Winter Dragon Pilot


Published in 1990, The Eye of the World promised a venture into Fantasy of epic proportions, but it's possible no one could have predicted The Wheel of Time series would be a huge story that took two decades, two authors, and fourteen volumes of over four million words. Author Robert Jordan died while working on the twelfth book, which he expected to be the last, but the series was completed by Brandon Sanderson in three more books.

The fourteenth and final volume, A Memory of Light, was completed January 2013, a dazzling conclusion that was applauded for the most part by readers who never thought they would find themselves wanting any more of The Wheel of Time. But there have always been rumors of the possibility of an adaptation, and with the widespread success of Game of Thrones as a TV show, Wheel of Time fans have been waiting and wishing to see the books brought to either the big screen or the little screen.

On Feb 9, despite the hoards of fans with an ear open for any of the first whispers of a TV series, a pilot called Winter Dragon was aired without anyone, not even Robert Jordan's widow Harriet, expecting a thing.

Starring Billy Zane as the bad guy, the pilot took the short (maybe ten page?) prologue and turned it into a boring and unfocused 30 minute affair plagued with late night commercials that's available in no better than 480p on YouTube after being recorded off someone's TV screen in the middle of the night.

Please don't watch the Eye of the World pilot if you haven't read The Wheel of Time. It doesn't make sense and leaves out a crucial event in the Eye of the World prologue, when Lews Therin in his insanity and guilt kills himself and creates Dragonmount. That didn't make it into the pilot for some reason. He and the hundred companions have pretty much destroyed civilization and killed just about everyone, a point that's mentioned but not really drawn out well enough to hit home with someone who isn't familiar with the series. As someone who has read the entire series, I can't even imagine how boring this pilot would be for someone who hasn't; it's barely enjoyable as someone who already knows the importance of this chapter.



Personally, my biggest concern is that I want everyone to know that The Wheel of Time is better than Game of ThronesThe Wheel of Time kicks GOT's ass. That's just where I'm coming from. Too much hinges on a good adaptation of this series, because the world needs to know that Robert Jordan is better than George R. R. Martin. I like A Song of Ice and Fire, but most everything I once loved about it is already dead (i.e. the characters that have been killed off, heroes and interesting villains alike, not to mention the Dire Wolves that have been killed so far). The Winter Dragon pilot gives me no confidence that a Wheel of Time adaptation will come anywhere close to competing with HBO's Game of Thrones, and I won't be able to tell all my friends how I knew it was cool all along.


There's not really enough to Winter Dragon to call it awful. It sticks fairly closely to the way the prologue of The Eye of the World was written; Lews Therin wanders his palace in a delusion that all is well and his wife Ilyena is playing hide and seek with the children, when really they are all dead and everything has been destroyed. Ishamael shows up calling himself Elan Morin Tedronai, and makes Lews Therin see the truth: he killed his family. Ishamael tempts Lews Therin to become a servant of Shai'tan, promising to return Ilyena to life in exchange for service to the shadow. To me this is a scene with a lot of potential — I love the madness and the temptation, Lews Therin grappling with what he did in madness, and resisting Ishamael's offer. Red Eagle's pilot doesn't tap into that potential. It's a long, drawn out mess of crucial moments that either fall flat or are straight out omitted.

Possibly the slowness is due to the fact that I can read the prologue to The Wheel of Time in under ten minutes; Winter Dragon turns that into thirty minutes of screen time. It's excruciating. It doesn't bode incredibly well for a series potentially coming out of this studio.

io9 is covering the story of why this pilot was made and whether an adaption will be realized. Read the latest update here.