Category Archives: Television

Cosby Sweater of the Week

Season 2
Episode 11
“Denise’s Friend”

Futurama is back!

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After a long absence, Futurama has returned to our television screens. For those unfamiliar, Futurama is about a man named Fry who at the turn of the millennium accidentally freezes himself and wakes up in the year 3000. The first two episodes have aired, and in the first one we find they’re just trying to quickly resolve any issues that existed from the previous direct to DVD film. It’s slow and sloppy and isn’t really worth your time. First Leela’s a robit, then Fry is a robit. Who cares? Also, who cares about those two loving each other. Boo!

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The second episode, however, is a return to form, as it focuses on Zapp’s Captain Kirk-esque fantasies and desires. Also the humour is top notch.

Music Monday

Sex Traffic

Sex Traffic is a two part CBC/BBC coproduction from 2004 starring John Simm1 and Peter Caine2. The show follows some women who are looking to leave Bosnia to make a better life for themselves in London. They end up as sex workers, beaten, bruised, and the lives of their children threatened.

John Simm works in London for a charity. He has compassion and wants to stop this. Peter Caine is CEO of a company that provides “police” a la the UN peacekeepers. They even wear blue barrettes.

It’s definitely not a fun romp. Scenes of rape, and abuse, and an alumni from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues are all things that might keep you away from the series, but it’s good enough to sit through it.

  1. The Master in Doctor Who, and Sam Tyler in Life on Mars. []
  2. From Kung Fu: The Legend Continues! []

Governor General James T. Kirk

Friday morning’s Toronto Star had William Shatner on the cover, the former star of Star Trek, who has a fan movement on Facebook vying for him to be Governor General of Canada.

For those unfamiliar, the Governor General is the nation’s de facto head of state. While the monarch (currently Elizabeth II) is the actual head of state, she cannot perform those duties, as she is also the head of state for numerous other countries, and resides in the United Kingdom. Governors General provide a mostly symbolic role, they represent the nation on an international level, are a spokesperson for the country, sign bills into law (once they’ve passed through the Commons and Senate), dissolves parliament, calls elections and read the throne speech. For Americans this might be a strange thing as their head of government and head of state are within the same role, President. Most world nations divide the two roles.

Governors General are appointed by The Queen upon recommendation by her Prime Minister. Until 1952, Canadian Governors General were British Lords, Dukes, or Earls, with ties to the Royal Family. In 1952, Vincent Massey was appointed as the first Canadian Governor General of Canada. Currently Michaëlle Jean holds the position; a reporter who immigrated to Canada from Haiti, and is fluently bilingual, she possess the two qualities important in a Governor General, is fluently bilingual and is statesman-like.

William Shatner might be amazing, but he is not in any way statesman-like. Would Canada really want him representing us on an international stage? Sure, if we needed someone to Captain HMCS Enterprise1, he’d be the first one we’d call.

Does Shatner even speak French?

Leonard Cohen, however, is a much better choice. He’s a fluently bilingual artist, who is respected, not mocked. Cohen is very statesman-like, and could be the first Jewish head of states in Canada2. That is assuming we ignore the fact that he’s now an ordained Buddhist monk.

What’s most annoying about this entire thing is The Star’s reporting on it. Someone said, “it would be awesome if Shatner were Governor General. I’m gonna start a Facebook group.” People joined. Then the Toronto Star ran an article on the FRONT PAGE. Proof once again that newspapers are useless.

  1. Her Majesty’s Canadian Starship. []
  2. Have there been any outside of Israel? Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister of England back in the 19th century, but that’s head of government. []

Six Feet Under

I just finished watching the first season of Six Feet Under. By “just,” I mean on Wednesday, when I wrote this blog post. You see, sometimes, I write four or five posts in one day, but I then schedule them to magically auto-post days later. For example, I have Music Monday posts scheduled for the next month. Why? Well, why not? Stop looking at me like that. Stop it! Stop it! Seeing as it’s Wednesday, I really enjoyed today’s Wheezy Waiter.

So, Six Feet Under, I was going to write about that show. I have this friend, to protect her identity we’ll call her “Cari.” This “Cari” told me that her favourite show is Six Feet Under. I had heard about it, but never watched it, didn’t even know what it was about, but I like Cari, and I trust her taste1. What do I like? What don’t I like?

This one is kind of obvious. These characters run a funeral home, the series begins with the death of Nathaniel Sr., the patriarch of the family, and so the Fishers must come to terms with the giant hole in their family. Nate, who ditched the family for Seattle now rejoins and must learn to deal with his fear of death. This is a fear I’ve never understood, media makes it out that everyone is afraid of death, are they really? I’m not. I have more of a “who cares” attitude to death, not those I love, just mine, and when one talks about fear of death, I think they’re obviously referring to their own. When it comes to the death of others, it’s the absence in your life that you fear and hate and are sad about, not death. When it’s your own death, you fear the afterlife, non-existance, whatever. I can’t really see that as a problem. I didn’t exist for an eternity before I did exist, and after I die, I’ll cease to exist again, that’s not scary, that’s kind of nice.

That was a bit of a tangent there2, sorry. So, Nate fears death, and he has to become a funeral director, awesome turmoil. Then at the end of the season, he discovers he might be dying… even better! Fuck yeah!

Why is Nate’s chest hair in a perfect rectangle?

God plays a very large role in this series.  God is passive through this show, and it isn’t a religious drama like Quantum Leap was or Battlestar Galactica. However, the Fisher family are Christian and their faith plays a large role in their lives. David is gay, but still feels attached to a religion that supposedly hates him. He goes to church and even becomes a member of the church community by becoming a deacon3. David’s faith is very important to him, and there’s even a scene where he’s down on the floor praying to God. This is something you rarely see in television, and though I’m not a man of faith, and if I were, it wouldn’t be that faith, I find it nice to see something contrary to the standard a-theist4 point of view on television. Television avoids this topic, and often it’s for the best, but it adds so much to the characters of this show. Nate is also Christian, but not church-going. He states that he definitely believes in God. Ruth’s faith however is one of a very June Cleaver point-of-view, maybe that’ll get deeper and stronger in future seasons.

This plays a large role in Six Feet Under, as David is gay. More so because David is closeted. Throughout the first season, David discovers that his father always knew, his sister finds out, then his brother finds out, and eventually his mother learns his secret. David’s own bigotry and self-hatred hold him back from accepting himself, and his religion, of course, plays a large part in this. It’s really well done, and my god, it makes for some good television.

Those are three areas that are discussed in the show, there’s more throughout, there’s lots of discussions of what love is, and sorrow, and self-hate, and guilt, and sex and more, but this will last for this post, because it’s already a long fucking post.

  1. Even if she has mistakenly began to eat dead animals again. Not Animal, the muppet, no animals, as in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. []
  2. But isn’t that what my blog is all about? Random tangents. Coffee? Anyone…coffee, anyone? Huh? Sorry. I like cotton candy. Check out my muscle. Potato chips! It’s a Ferris wheel! So I guess what I’m trying to say is plastic bag! []
  3. A role I never before knew existed in Christianity. []
  4. That dash means a lot. In other words, I was saying God-less and not specifically anti-God. []

State of Play

Britain, Britain, Britain. This weekend I watched the new Doctor Who, but I also watched a six-part BBC drama called State of Play. The show is a political drama, which takes place in London. It starts with the murder of a young black man, by a professional killer. That same morning, a young woman jumps in front of a subway train. 

Her boss/lover, Steven Collins (Member of Parliament for a Manchester-area riding) hasn’t been an MP for long, but he’s making waves. He’s heading up a cross-party energy committee, and is seen as a contender for a cabinet post. His public grief at the loss of his employee make it rather obvious that the two were involved in an extra-marital affair, which leads to much tension at home, and he runs to his confidant and former campaign manager Cal McCaffrey. McCaffrey also just happens to be a reporter for the Herald.

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That covers the first five minutes, and then it gets complicated. It’s a political drama/murder mystery/thriller and could be used as the pinnacle of the genre. The dialogue is tremendous and the casting is as good as it can get. As the MP is David Morrissey (Doctor Who, Blackpool, Red Riding); as the lead reporter is John Simm (Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Sex Traffic);  Marc Warren (Doctor Who, Hustle) plays Dominic Foy, Collins’ girlfriend’s ex; Bill Nighy (Doctor WhoHitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead) as the newspaper editor; Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Gosford Park, No Country for Old Men) is among the reporting team for the Herald; Polly Walker (Caprica, Patriot Games) plays Anne Collins, the wife of Steven; Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes To Ashes1 ) plays Detective Chief Inspector Bell.

All of these actors are in roles that are perfect for them. The only thing that’s off is Glenister’s William Bell is well portrayed, but too similar, yet so different than his defining role as DCI Gene Hunt in Life On Mars and its spin-off Ashes To Ashes. Hunt, a character known to be such as asshole, but yet so loveable copper who spits out such charming statements as “It’s the first time I’ve heard shit stabbing, called innocent!” In contract DCI Bell is timid, hands tied by the law, and to put it simply, a weenie.

I can easily see why it was remade into a film in the United States. It’s damn good, but a shame that it was probably bastardized, I really don’t want to see what Matt Damon did with a role originally portrayed by an actor as talented as David Morrissey. Worse still, to see Russell Crowe brutalize a John Simm character is potentially heart-breaking. It was bad enough to see Jason O’Mara take one of the most interesting characters in television, Sam Tyler, and turn him into a bland and boring piece of cardboard. I will give credit to Harvey Keitel for doing an okay job at translating Glenister’s DCI Hunt for US audiences.

Enough about Life on Mars, the important thing is State of Play which is worth a six-hour investment in your life for some excellent drama.

  1. Funk to funky. []

The Doctor Is In

Back in January, I wrote about The Doctor’s swan song. Now, three months later, he’s back again, but in a different form. This time, Matt Smith takes over the titular role in the longest running science fiction series. The Doctor, as we all know, is a time traveler, who once ran from his own people, and found refuge with his granddaughter on Earth. Unfortunately her nosy teachers sent them fleeing again, and since that fateful day in 1963, the Doctor has been on the run. Though his companions have come and gone1, and through a process known as Regeneration, the Doctor’s changed his appearance and personality, he’s still the same 900 year old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.

With the change in Doctors, the series also sees a change in production staff. Most notable is Steven Moffat taking over the helm of the show. Many people remember Moffat from his BBC2 sitcom Coupling. With his arrival into the Doctor Who-niverse, the audience sees a definite change in tone. The premiere leads me to believe that the show will be much darker, while still keeping much of the fun that made Doctor Who such a great series to begin with.

To begin with, this episode is very much a genesis story. We have a new Doctor, and he’s unsure of who he is, and what he is. As usual there are some comedic moments as the Doctor gets used to himself, but the Doctor immediately starts to form a bond with a young Amelia Pond. After crashing in the Scottish orphan’s garden, the Doctor discovers a crack in time a space is found in the girl’s bedroom2 He repairs it, and then hears the TARDIS’ Cloister Bell, he runs off and promises to return in five minutes. Well, he returns twelve years later.

Twelve years later, Amy’s a stripper, who’s been waiting for her Doctor to return. Okay, I know you’re going to say that she’s a “kiss-a-gram,” but the subtext between Pond and the Doctor when he questions what a kiss-a-gram is makes it plain as day that she’s a stripper, but you can’t say that on a family show.

Moffat once said of Amy Pond, “A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.” The young woman is beautiful, smart, tough and funny, all aspects of companions during Russell T. Davies run, but for once all in one character  ((Rose, was not smart, or tough, or funny, or even really beautiful, but still a good companion. Martha wasn’t tough, she was a pushover, and she wasn’t very funny either. Donna was tough and funny, but not so much beautiful or smart.)).

At the climax of the episode, the Doctor asks “is this world protected? You’re not the first ones to have come there, there have been so many and what you’ve got to ask is ‘what happened to them?'” The audience then sees the ten previous faces of the Doctor and Smith’s Doctor answers the question with “Hello, I’m the Doctor, basically, run.”

Eccleston began his tenure as the Doctor with the statement, “I’m the Doctor, run for your life” as he warned Rose of the danger that was chasing them. This Doctor  begins his tenure on the offensive.

The danger is a background in this story. The true plotline comes from the Doctor’s strange ability to enchant anyone he comes in contact with. When it comes to a small child, he not only enchants, but creates an obsession. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to run away with a kookie time traveler in a magic blue box? 8 year old Pond is the perfect dreamer to want those travels. She’s an orphan, living in her aunt’s house, uncomfortable in England3 afraid of the house’s horrors.

I’m not too proud to say that I’m okay with
The girl next door who’s famous for showing her chest – Belle & Sebastian

While this might be why a small town would most know Amy Pond, it seems that the entire town knows her for her obsession with the Doctor, her imaginary friend she’s been waiting twelve years for. This seems to be what I think is most intriguing about Pond. She’s the child we all were/are. She’s looking at the Doctor through the eyes of a child, full of wonder and with a great desire to run off with him4. She is the embodiment of the eight year olds who are hiding behind their sofas every Saturday night.

One thing Moffat seemed best able to do better than any other writer during the Davies-days was to tell of the Doctor’s non-linear life. Yes, the Doctor travels through time and space, but rarely do his stories or his life deviate from a normal path of point a to b to c. Moffat did this with “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Blink” and “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead.” In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” the Doctor is running around between the 51st century and 18th century France. Sure, the Doctor is narratively traveling in a singular line, but Madame de Pompadour is traveling the slow path, while the Doctor travels the fast path. She’s living her life in France, while the Doctor is randomly popping in at points in her life, with only hours between.

In “Blink,” the Doctor and Martha are trapped in 1969, but the TARDIS is trapped in 200x. Moffat is able to tell the story of Sally Sparrow’s real world nightmares effectively, while the Doctor, in 1969, relays information to Sparrow in the late aughts, information he only will receive after he meets Sparrow. Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey.5

Finally in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead,” the Doctor meets River Song, a woman who knows him, intimately. How’s this possible? Well, he’s a time traveler. That’s kinda what happens when you meet a time traveler. Just look at Guinan and Picard. According to Picard, they met some time when he was in command aboard the Stargazer.6 Picard met her and they fast became friends. If you asked Guinan, she would tell you that the first time they met was in 19th century Earth, where she was just hanging, and Picard was looking for a beheaded Data.

So Song met el Doctor at some point, we can presume in Matt Smith form, but the Doctor first met her in the Library. So yeah, Moffat writes good Doctor Who. I think this’ll be fun.

  1. Susan, his granddaughter was the first to leave. []
  2. It’s the Doctor, there’s nothing sordid. []
  3. She’s Scottish. []
  4. Like Madame de Pompadour did. []
  5. A phrase which first appeared in Moffat’s “Blink” we can assume that he penned it. []
  6. I don’t think they ever give a specific date. []

Who you gonna weep on, who you gonna sleep on, who you gonna creep on next?

So I should start with an apology. My post about Thrush Hermit, was kinda horrible. Here’s the thing, I don’t go into these blog posts and think to myself, “what do I want to say?” No! I just write! Yeah! Damn you professional writers and your craft, NO! This is my language and I can write what I wanna write. What was I saying? Giraffe? No. Oh yeah, Thrush Hermit. Yeah, that post sucked. It just kinda ended. That was no narrative structure, it just rambled, and rambled, and rambled, and rambled, and rambled. I had a point. I think. Yeah, it was horrible. It was supposed to say that Thrush Hermit are awesome and equal to more than the sum of their parts. See if I had an audience of more than one1, then I might care more. However, if I cared more, then I might have an audience of more than one2. No, that would be bad. If people actually read this than it might cause problems. They’d expect stuff, and when I wouldn’t deliver they’d complain. No! Settle for mediocrity. That’s my motto.

Now that that’s out of the way. I ask you, all a very important question, but first! First you need an explanation. You see, I have this friend, his name is Adam3. I posed a question, asking, “What should I listen to?” and this wonderful and charming man said “Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem.” I thought, “YES!” Who wouldn’t?

So I want to know, who’s your favourite member of the Electric Mayhem?

Is it Dr. Teeth (keys)?

How about Floyd Pepper (bass)?

Janice (guitar)?

Animal (drums)?

Zoot (sax)?

The new guy, er, Lips (trumpet)?

Their manager, Scotter?

Tell me, comment!

  1. Hi Mom! []
  2. Hi Mom! []
  3. He’s not actually me, we just share a name. There’s a lot of Adams []

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