Black Mirror’s season 4 was recently made available on Netflix. This is a show I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to. Peak TV, everyone. Anyway, I heard a bit about the first episode of the season, USS Callister, and decided to at least check out that one episode. I don’t have too many thoughts to write down about the episode, but I have some. Mild spoilers follow, but I don’t think you’ll lose anything knowing a few details before viewing.
The production quality of this episode was amazing. I know that a lot of TV shows, especially those on Netflix, are really upping their game in terms of picture quality, but this one really felt cinematic. I can’t help but be blown away by the quality; the sets aboard the USS Callister were deliberately cheesy, and of obvious lower quality, but it’s still high quality. The scenes in the real world are well shot, and I really enjoyed the sound design in the episode – something that I think is often overlooked.
There were some small, subtle touches as well in the set design. Most of these that I enjoyed were the light technology touches. The apartment door for example, using a display screen to show the apartment number as well as a nice little Christmas wreath. Cell phones appear as sleek devices that are essentially just a screen. The downside to this is that some of the video game equipment seems inappropriately clunky in comparison to the rest of the tech.
Ship In A Bottle
The ending of the episode, which I don’t really want to spoil, reminds me a lot of the ending of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Ship In A Bottle. The open ending of both episodes are really quite similar. Unfortunately since I don’t want to spoil it, that means I’ll have to stop talking about it.
USS Callister was very hit-or-miss with the humour. Some of it worked really well for me, but other places it felt very flat and didn’t work at all. I think in some parts they were clearly trying to invoke different sci-fi franchises (Star Trek being the most prominent) but stopped short of using copyrighted terms for some reason? I’m not sure why, because it would very clearly fall under the category of parody. For example, when Nannette asks if Daley is going to throw a fireball at her…I was expecting her to ask if he was going to use the Force. I guess the point was to avoid any mention of real life properties in the show?
Another thing – sometimes the humour felt out of place with the rest of the episode, which at times played as a sort of body and psychological horror show. What I mean is that the overall tone of the episode was uneven, leaving me unsure of what kind of message the show was trying to leave about technology. I think they were just telling a cool story they wanted to tell?
I don’t think this episode convinced me to pick up watching the rest of the series. It was good, and I thought it was well-produced, but I don’t think this particular anthology series is for me.
If you want to hear some more detailed, spoiler-filled thoughts about the show, check out Anthology Pod’s bonus episode coverage.
Have you tried out Stranger Things: The Game? I heard about this a few weeks back in passing, and sought it out. The gameplay is fairly simple – it’s point-and-click, but is more of an action RPG (in the vein of the original Zelda games).
I’ve only got as far as Chapter 2, but so far it’s a lot of fun to figure out the little puzzles throughout the game. There are two modes: “Normal” and “1984”, which is apparently next to impossible to play unless you’re a big gamer. Anyway, I’m on the Normal mode. There looks to be a ton of things to do. The game is very well-designed and fun to play, which is win for me!
It also has a sense of humour, which all of the great action RPG games of old had. It’s a fantastic homage, but also stands on its own. I think the mobile gaming world could use more games like this! If there already are – point them out to me!!
I think this is probably the best opening sequence of any Star Trek show. It would be cool if they made versions for all of the other shows that look like this. My current desktop wallpaper is a screenshot of the Discovery from this sequence. It looks really great.
I finally finished watching the final bits of “The Battle at the Binary Stars”, the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Here’s my quick review of the show!
I thought the premiere episodes were great. In Canada, Discovery is being released on Space, the Canadian version of the SyFy channel. I’m incredibly thankful that I don’t need to subscribe to CraveTV, which is where you can stream the show in Canada.
If I were to give it an arbitrary rating, I’d say 3.5/5. The show was visually impressive, and had a story that was somewhat straightforward to follow. There were some bits I didn’t like (I’ll get to that), but overall I found enough that will keep me coming back weekly.
What I didn’t like
The Klingons – but not for the reason you’d think. I’m not hung up on the design choices for the show; in fact I think I’d find it distracting if the technology looked dated compared to what we have available to us today. Similarly for the Kilngons, the updated look didn’t phase me a bit.
What bothered me was the way they spoke, and the slow subtitles. I found it very hard to follow along, because they spoke so slowly and the subtitles used such short sentence fragments. Let me correct my phrasing a bit; it wasn’t that they spoke slowly at all, it was actually just the subtitles. I think their speech patterns were the most “realistic” of all Klingon depictions. Their scenes just felt extremely slow and took me out of the episode because of it.
I also found it confusing that we started with a crew that had already been together 7 years, and we’re most likely never seeing them again. Why couldn’t we start with the Discovery, if that’s where we’re going? That’s a minor beef though, and I’m willing to see what they’ve got for the rest of the season.
What I did like
Yep, the list of what I didn’t like was pretty short. While introducing the Shenzhou was a negative, it was also somewhat of a positive for me. It really did feel like we were seeing a crew that had spent 7 years together – there was no awkward “nice to meet you” moments we might usually get in a Star Trek pilot. Especially the relationship between Saru and Burnham was really well done.
I mentioned the impressive visuals earlier; like I said, I wasn’t caught up with the fact that these sets look even more advanced than the Enterprise sets did at the time. They do look like a natural progression from the Enterprise sets, which I thought made sense for 100 years’ difference. From the technical standpoint, I thought it was great that this didn’t “look” like a TV show (whereas you can tell the original Trek series are filmed on sets, no matter how alive they tried to make them).
I thought Commander Burnham was portrayed excellently – you could tell she was a different character from when she first joined the Shenzhou to her moment of defiance 7 years later. You can feel that there is a lot of character development that happened in between, and you can trust that it happened without having to see it.
When I first saw the trailer for this, I wasn’t initially interested in the show. I would watch the first episode, and try to catch it if I could. But as the premiere date came, I realized I was legitimately excited for a new Trek show.
And now, after seeing the first two episodes, I can’t wait to have a weekly Sunday night TV date. Everybody is talking about it – it’s great.
If you haven’t seen the episodes yet, go and watch them. Judge for yourself whether it has a “Star Trek” message or not (I think the jury is still out on that).
I was a holdout of Netflix for a long time, but with the demise of Shomi last November, I finally bit the bullet. Most months I don’t even pay for it out of pocket money, using cash earned through SwagBucks. So I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
Here’s the full list I’m reading from, courtesy of MobileSyrup. Go ahead and click, I’ll wait for you to come back for my highlights. Note that this list is for Canada only – I have no idea what’s coming in other regions.
First and foremost, Stranger Things 2 is at the top of my list, coming October 27th – just in time for Halloween! The trailer for it looks pretty sweet, too; you can find that on YouTube.
Goosebumps – I don’t think this movie got very good reviews, but in keeping with the Halloween theme for October I think it’s worth a watch and worthy of going onto My List.
Wheelman’s description makes it seem very much like it’s a B movie dressed up with some moderately high production value. I don’t know, it sounds like it could be worth watching on a Saturday afternoon.
That’s about it for my list of new things to watch; but apparently after October 9th, Mad Max: Fury Road is going by the wayside. I’ll have to find some time to watch that one, since I still haven’t gotten around to it. Interestingly, Fellowship of the Ring is leaving Netflix, but NOT The Two Towers or Return of the King.
I watched 1984’s Splash (starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah and John Candy) last weekend, finally crossing that comedy off my list. It got me thinking about my favourite movies growing up, and a lot of them had the same theme: mythical monsters.
I’m not sure if there’s actually a genre for these movies, but this fits best as far as I can tell. If you weren’t familiar with Splash before, it’s about a man searching for love who finds it in the form of a mermaid, temporarily granted legs for a short pe
We had a lot of movies taped off TV growing up, and one of the tapes that got repeat views was a little-known movie called Bigfoot. It was one of ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” presentations, but other than that, until looking it up on IMDB, I knew nothing about it. I assumed it was either made for TV or had a small theatrical release – apparently it was part of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”.
This movie had some pretty great production value for a made-for-TV movie, if you ask me. Sure, Harry and the Hendersons is probably the most recognized Sasquatch film out there from the 80’s, but Bigfoot is my favourite. It’s got comedy moments and even a little bit of suspense. If you’re young enough, it can even be scary at times.
Some other mythical monster movies I remember watching – Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (which I should re-visit, one day). Actually, that’s about all I remember. What are some other good ones from the 80s?
Other Space is a 2015 sci-fi comedy show produced by Paul Feig, and is available online at http://www.shareotherspace.com. I first heard about it from Engage, The Official Star Trek Podcast. It was originally released on Yahoo! Screen, a service I’ve actually never heard of before until today.
Other Space stars Karan Soni, Bess Rous, Eugene Cordero, Milana Vayntrub, Neil Casey, Joel Hodgson, Conor Leslie, and Trace Beaulieu. The show also features guest appearances from Dave Franco, Sarah Baker, and Bjorn Gustafsson.
Apparently, Other Space was conceived by Paul Feig in the early 2000’s but wasn’t picked up for development until he was working on The Heat. The show is set in the year 2105, and has been described as “Red Dwarf, USA, take two” by Rob Bricken in an early review.
I watched the first four episodes in preparation for this review – so how does it hold up?
The setting is fairly standard for most science fiction properties – a space ship. In Other Space, the ship is the UMP Cruiser, which is sent on what boils down to a public relations mission to increase support for the UMP organization. Not even minutes into the mission, the Cruiser is transported into another realm of space, known as “other space”.
Not much is really put into the background – what’s really important is the jokes between the characters and their setting. I think I agree with Bricken’s “Red Dwarf” comparison, because that show was essentially the same concept.
The set itself looks great – Feig described it as a very low budget show, and you can sort of tell, but they did a good job of making it look good. The Cruiser looks like a good parody of the rebooted Star Trek Enterprise sets.
Karan Soni shines as the captain and is the best character by far. He’s basically not at all qualified to be the captain of a ship, but he’s promoted because of his charisma (my interpretation). His sister is made first officer, and is inherently more qualified, but lacks any people-skills of any kind.
The characters all have some sort of back story that gets fleshed out in the first few episodes, which is pretty cool for a 26-minute show.
Joel Hodgson is my next favourite, who portrays a spaced out engineer. He’s kind of like Tony Shalhoub’s Fred in Galaxy Quest, but a lot more laid back.
The chemistry between the crew is really great, and the casting director did a great job pulling them together.
I’ve only watched the first four episodes, but I really liked it. Episode 3 wasn’t as good as the other 3, but was still mostly great. I’m looking forward to the other 4 episodes (there are only 8 in total).
Other Space gets a 4/5 rating from me. Check it out at www.shareotherspace.com!
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