Tag Archives: Terminator

Defiance: The SyFy Drama that Grows on You

Julie Benz, mayor of Defiance
Starting in 2013 Defiance, the SyFy channel’s science fiction drama, slowly grows on you. Not being too overly impressed with the first two seasons, it was surprising to see the series approved for a third season. A mini-binge was in order to see where the series was going and how long Terminator icon Linda Hamilton was going to last in the show. Looking at the show’s rating history on Rotten Tomatoes and its current ranking on IMDb it is interesting to note that after a shaky start, the second season garnered a staggering 100 percent from the former website and now has a 7.0 rating on the latter.

Perhaps tuning in for the first season was a mistake that could have been rectified by sticking with the show for its next run, as fans of the series did. Certainly SyFy had enough faith in the show to keep bringing it back and it could be that the development of so much alien language, that initially feels like a rip off of the Star Trek verse (Klingon or Romulan anyone?) was off putting for new viewers.

It was decided that season two of Defiance could be missed, despite the presence of Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Julie Benz and character actor Graham Greene and the introduction of Linda Hamilton as the crazy as a bedbug grandma.

So not being an overt fan-boy of the show it was a total lack of anything remotely entertaining on television, and therefore Hulu, that season three of Defiance was watched; all three episodes, to see what the series brings to the table.

Without going to the trouble of binging from its first airing, which would have included watching the poorly rated season one, the experiment was to see if not having a backstory would affect the enjoyment of the show. Quick answer is…It does not.

Despite the writing being a little too slap-dash for this reviewer’s tastes, the show was self explanatory enough to pull the viewer in with no real knowledge of previous events. The fact the show’s writers felt the need to have Linda Hamilton’s character, Pilar the craaaazy and homicidal granny, say, “Come with me if you want to live,” did annoy but not so much so that it detracted from their intent. (Which was obviously an OTT remember of just who Hamilton is, forgetting or overlooking her Beauty and the Beast days. A series where Linda made her name while the first Terminator worked on becoming a cult favorite. Shame on you writer guys, or gals.)

Of course this could be on par for the writing team. Notice that Julie Benz, who played vampire gal Darla in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, plays the mayor in a town that has just had a father-daughter team of vampire-like Votan aliens show up. Did Benz groan a bit when that was introduced? Hopefully not as it is kind of cool…Just saying.

For one who has not followed the show, it was with something approaching delight to see solid performer Graham Greene on board, only to be dismayed when his character was killed pretty quickly in season three. Hamilton lasted a bit longer, although her death was brilliant, “There is no way you’ll shoot this baby’s grandma right in front of him,” was her last line. Pilar proved that she was no Sarah Connor in this science fiction world so it was “sic transit gloria Linda.”

The world of Defiance is set in the shattered remains of the US, specifically, it seems, in the midwest, Pilar mentions the “Ass end of Oklahoma” and the St Louis arch is blown up, the arch is a symbol of Defiance the mining town. The show is set in the future and while some of the dialogue leaves a bit to be desired and the “made-up” linguistics of an alien race or two feels a little hokey, the show does become addictive viewing after a few episodes.

The third episode of season three leaves things up in the air and ends with a bit of a mini cliff hanger. John Nolan and his daughter Irisa, who shared a life support pod for seven months in the bottom of the mine, were connected with some sort of umbilical cord attached to their temples. When the Omec pair release the two, they rip out the cords, leaving two comma shaped scars on John’s and his kid’s foreheads. In Dead Air, both John and Irisa have been getting increasing painful headaches and by the end of the episode, Nolan is lying in floor in agony. The rescued vet says John needs treatment because he’ll die if he doesn’t, and Nolan’s daughter has been left in the snow back in Defiance, presumably dying as well, while the lawmaker there walks off, not on her way to get help one presumes.

This impressive “leave” at the end of the show is promising. Certainly at least one viewer wondered about those scars and the cord that attached father and daughter in that life pod. A small thing compared to the overall plot of the show, but one that someone decided was worthy of making a significant plot thread in the show. End result? One new fan who will be tuning in next Friday to the SyFy channel to catch episode four.

Remembering T2 on the Big Screen: Wow

While writing the blog-post for Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “life story” I was filled with nostalgia about the time I’d gotten to see a “sneak premier” of the film, T2, weeks before its proper cinematic release. I thought, while reviewing his book that it was a shame that I’d not remembered this before as I could have taken part in mistylayne and Andy’s
Nostalgiathon 2012. But even though I missed the metaphorical boat for their project together, I thought the least I could do was give their sites and the project a mention and a link.

In 1991, I lived two doors down from a young engaged couple. In a few years, with a great recommendation from the young lady I got a job where she worked delivering papers. Her fiancé Donald was a local government agency employee. He was a bit of a “Jack-the-lad” character; full of energy, good humour and a hazy sense of morality.

One day he came round the house where I was cutting the grass or painting the front of the house (I don’t remember which). He was grinning from ear to ear and so full of excitement he was practically dancing.

“Do you like Arnold Schwarzenegger?” He was sort of hopping in place while he asked the question. I stopped whatever it was that I was doing and replied in the affirmative.

“How,” He paused for dramatic effect, “Would you like to see his latest film?”

“Sure,” I said it so fast that he almost had not stopped speaking yet. “What is it?”

Donald’s grin got even wider, “It’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day, mate!” His energy level shot up even further. “The sequel to The Terminator, innit!” He stopped suddenly. “You have seen the original Terminator, haven’t you? Please tell me you’ve seen it mate.”

I replied that I had and that I’d loved it.

That set Donald off again in another paroxysm of joy. “Great! How would you like to see it two weeks earlier than anyone else in the country?”

“How’d you pull that one off?” I asked.

“Easy mate, I entered a competition and won two special preview tickets to the Odeon’s showing of the film. Since it’s a preview there are a limited amount of tickets and I got two!”

I thought for a minute. “What about Nola?” Nola was his fiancée and they lived together. “Won’t she want to go?”

“No mate, she can’t stand Arnie! I was a bit lost because here I had these great tickets and was going to wind up seeing the film on me own. Bit of a downer; then I thought of you and the fact that you like Predator and Commando and I thought, ‘yeah! Smithy will go with me to see it!”

We were both excited now. I hadn’t been to the cinema for ages and now I was going to see what was promising to be the cinema event of the year.

On the day of the preview Donald and I went together to the Odeon with our “prepaid” tickets. We joined the queue of people who had purchased their tickets already and waited to get in.

One of the newer cinemas on offer.

*Just a side note about English cinemas “back in the day” and how they worked. When I first got to the United Kingdom, you could still smoke in the movie theatre. You had a smoking side and a non-smoking side. You always knew which side was which because the smoking side had ashtrays attached to the seats. You also had to buy your tickets in advance. People would stop by the ticket sales window earlier in the day and buy their tickets. You would then come back and show your ticket to go in. Folks would get there early to go up to the “pub” in the cinema and have a pint or two or a short. You’d then head for the screen when the movie was about to start. You also had a young man or woman who stood down in front of the screen with a selection of sweets and bags of popcorn and sodas for sale. They would go away when the trailers started and the first feature (if there was one) and come back out before the main feature started. It was a lot different in those days, no multi-screen, just good old-fashioned huge screens; one or two if the cinema was bigger. I still remember watching Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in a tiny theatre in Thetford that put an intermission in the middle of the film where they came out and sold ice creams and so on. When the lights came up clouds of smoke hung up near the ceiling. In the late 80’s smoking started being banned in theatres although you could still smoke, you had to do it in a smoking room and you could listen to the film while you had your fag (cigarette). Probably the longest side note ever, my apologies.*

The atmosphere in the theatre was electric. Excited bubbly conversations whirled in the air and people discussed the first Terminator and how they couldn’t wait to see the sequel. A lot of “I’ll be back’s” were heard and delighted laughter over rode every other sound in the lobby. This level of excitement in an English movie theatre was unheard of back then. Movie goers fit the stereotype of quiet and reserved. If there was a funny scene in a film, reserved chuckling might be heard, if you strained to hear it. Loud American guffaws meant that a “yank” was watching the film with his American friends.

Low key reactions was (and still is too a large degree) the order of the day. Where in an American movie theatre, people will gasp loudly, shriek, scream, laugh loudly and hysterically and “boo” the screen. Movies in the states are more of a celebratory party rather than a civilized viewing of the feature.

Terminator 2 though brought a different type of English film fan. These guys were every bit as loud and as excited as their American counterparts.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.


When the film started, the audience applauded and cheered. When Arnie strides up to the bar owner to snatch his shotgun from him, the audience went nuts. The entire film was treated like the overblown spectacle it was. T2 was bigger than the first Terminator. It had a bigger budget, better effects, a totally kick-ass score, and not just one Terminator, but two. And Robert Patrick as the T-1000 knocked it so far out of the park that no-one, apart from the Schwarzenegger himself, could match his performance.

I saw grown men weep at the end of the film. I saw them through my own blurred vision as tears streamed unashamedly down my own cheeks. Donald and I both looked at each other, crying like little (as Arnold himself would say) girliemen, and we did a painful high-five. We both agreed that this was the best terminator film ever and that they would never top it.

Sad to say, we were both extremely accurate in our visionary prediction that the film would never be equalled or beaten. T3 was abysmal and T4? Well, this post is pretty long already if I wrote about everything that didn’t work in T4, I’d have to write it in instalments.

Every time I re-watch T2 I remember the excitement of that day and how the cinema audience went wild during the film. It is the only other film that I have watched in an English cinema where the audience (in tears yet) stood up and cheered when it had finished. *The only other film to elicit anywhere near the same type of response was J.J. Abrams 2009 Star Trek.*

As I left the cinema that day, I realised that the industry had gone around another corner, reached a new milestone. All because James Cameron was one helluva movie maker who had vision and the guts to put that vision on-screen; he broke a lot of records with T2 and changed the way films would be made from that point on.

He also, to a huge degree, changed the way that I viewed films.

Unh-unh-unh!



Blogger of the Year 2012 Nomination? Wow…

I’ve just been notified by Tyson over at Head In A Vice that he has nominated me (or more accurately my blog) for “Blog of the Year 2012” award. *again, just hear announcer Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In) saying the words quoted.*

Wow.

This has to be my favourite award nomination. Although it has a bittersweet tang to it, because Tyson also nominated Marilyn over at Serendipity and John over at WRITTEN IN BLOOD which are two of the nominees I would have chosen. Cue face palm.

I should quickly explain that the  nomination is my favourite not because of the award itself – which is grand, don’t get me wrong here – but because the “penalty” for accepting the award is that you have to pass it on to three more bloggers who deserve it. When I read the rules that Tyson provided I was surprised and pleased. I have explained before that I am basically a lazy person, hence the surprise and elation.

“What?” I asked myself. “No 50 interesting and fascinating facts about moi? No asking 50 interesting and fascinating questions of the 50 nominees you’ve chosen? And most important of all, no contacting 50 bloggers to let them know I’ve nominated them?” I did a little Snoopy happy dance (very little, I did just have a heart attack you know) and then sat and pondered who I could possibly chose.

I then realised that I could also nominate Marilyn and John as Tyson did. I did notice, when I re-read his nominating post, that several folks had nominated him for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Brilliant! Of course I would say that as I was one of the folks who nominated Tyson.

That still left the question of who should I nominate for the third and final nominee? As I poured the first cup of coffee down my parched throat, it came to me, Andy! Problem solved.

So in a nutshell, here are my three nominees for Blog of the Year 2012 – in no particular order:

andywatchesmovies

Serendipity

WRITTEN IN BLOOD

So there you have it. Of course I now have guilt issues about all the great bloggers I did not nominate. As Rex says in Toy Story, “Now I have guilt!” But in the nomination game someone is always left out, it is the nature of the beast. But my fellow bloggers, I will come back for you. Oh yes, sooner or later I’ll get another award and I’ll try to include those of you I’ve had to abandon in the past. Like Arnie in The Terminator or MacArthur in the Philippines, “I’ll be back.”

I am not new to guilt at any rate. I always feel very guilty when I don’t check the blogs I follow as often as I feel I should – daily, if I’m being honest, I write almost daily and should read daily as well – and I therefore don’t ‘like’ or comment enough either. I am pretty crap at admin to be honest and reading falls under admin. Not an excuse, friends and neighbours, just a fact. I am trying to do better.

So I’ll hang my head in shame at my poor admin skill and promise to do better in future.

Back to the award!

So guys, you’ve been nominated (a couple of you at least twice) so it’s your turn to enjoy this non-labour intensive award. Oh and Andy? I know you are on vacation dude so I’ll expect to hear from you a lot later about the award nomination.

In the spirit of the season, I’ll close by humming Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer through my left nostril as I rap out Jingle Bells with my right index finger. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.

While performing the above medley, I realised that I had not profusely thanked Tyson for his nomination, I mention it but I don’t actually thank him. So in an effort to rectify this horrendous faux pa I will thank him, “Thank you Tyson, very much,” and link to his site once more. And yes I have re-edited this “on-the-fly,” Mea Culpa!

112312_1726_Weebleswobb4.jpg

Life After Death…As a Robot?

Rhett & Link
Rhett & Link (Photo credit: rhettandlink)

I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.

The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.

The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.

“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com”  this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile     Build an Avatar     Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.

But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.

In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.

The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.

Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.

An android version of  a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).

The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence –  AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.

Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.

Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.

It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.

I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.

I may have to wait for my android to do it.