Sci-Fridays #1

Editor's Note: I love Science Fiction and Fantasy- they're probably two of my favorite genres and I consume just about any version of media- books, TV, movies, streaming that I can get my hands on. Sometimes, though, I'll have some thoughts that don't really fit into a blog post, so I've decided to launch a periodic (I'm hoping once a month) blog post where I nerd out about this kind of stuff. So, please enjoy this inaugural edition of Sci-Fridays!

Star Trek Discovery Season 3: I approached Season 3 with a lot of optimism and it turns out that optimisn was right on the money. Personally, I thought the choice to send Discovery into the future at the end of Season 2 was brilliant- almost as brilliant and canon-subverting as J.J. Abrams decision to destroy Vulcan in the first Kelvinverse Trek- the inherent problem with Star Trek is that 50+ years of canon means that you're always getting something wrong and there will always be someone out there somewhere that will point that out to you. Sending them 950 years into the future means that you can use canon if you want too, but you're also not bound by canon either. 

There was some trepidation though- after all, fans of Gene Roddenberry all seemed to greet the news with: "Oh, it's gonna be Andromeda." And in the early going, I could see why-- they arrive in the future, the Federation is gone- nobody even knows where Federation headquarter is! There's just a lonely outpost waiting for someone to arrive and has been for decades. Warp drive be broken (thanks to a mysterious something called 'The Burn' which serves as the overarching mystery for the season) so Discovery has a leg up on most of the galaxy because they can use the spore drive to get from Point A to Point B very very quickly. 

But, they also move away from comparisons to Andromeda pretty quickly. Some highlights: Andorians and Orions-- they're classic Trek species and after TOS, they don't really show up all that much, so it's nice to see them again. Trill! Of course Trill make perfect sense for helping to figure out just what the hell has happened to the galaxy since Discovery's been away. I loved that we get to see the crew more-- it's not quite so much 'The Michael Burnham' show-- Tilly (Mary Wiseman) gets promoted to first offices. Detmer (Emily Coutts) and Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) have nice character moments throughout the series. Saru gets to be Captain and has a great moment where he's testing out 'Captain's lines' that could have come across as cringe, but ends up a genuinely funny moment- one that contrasts with the final moment of the season (no, I won't spoil it) in interesting ways.

Stand out episodes: 'Unification III' which provides a third part to TNG's Unification I and II that I don't think anyone saw coming and was beautifully done. (With a nice tieback to Picard as well.)

'Terra Firma, Parts I and II'- at first I had to roll my eyes-- we're going back to the Mirror Universe yet again? But Michelle Yeoh's character has a Section 31 spinoff to launch so she's going to have to exit the show somehow and this ended up being a perfect example of how Discovery can use canon without being bound by it. (Again, no spoilers!). Plus, the complicated relationship between Michael and Georgiou is given the perfect send off. 

Lowlights: The ultimate cause of The Burn was... kind of a letdown, I think. But it worked thanks to a healthy injection of Trek technobabble that made the ultimate explanation seem somewhat plausible? But... it wasn't my favorite part of the season.

I am interested to see what they're going to do in Season 4- but if, like many Trek shows, the 3rd Season is where they hit their stride, I would say Discovery has done just that and then some.

Watching Stargate SG-1: SG-1 has been on Netflix in years past and I think I've tried to make it all the way through before but haven't managed to get through all ten seasons. With it's return to Netflix, I decided to try again and see if I could manage it this time. I'm just into Season 3 now and so far I'm showing no signs of slowing down. Granted, there's seven more seasons after this one to get through, but so far so good.

Stargate SG-1 is kind of fascinating. On the one hand, it's... almost formulaic. Team Goes to Planet, finds human culture transplanted across the galaxy by means of the Stargate, solves problem/defeats monster, goes home. It works- but it's also got a deeper conflict mythology going on and when those episodes hit they're not half-assed about it. They elevate and deepen the show on every level and help the characters to grow and evolve. (So far: my favorites have been the introduction of the Asgard as well as the Tok'ra-- the introduction of the Tok'ra in the Season 2 episode 'In the Line of Duty' set up a mystery of who or what they are that takes until the middle of Season 2 to solve-- it's probably been my favorite arc/episodes of the series so far.)

Underlying it all: I can't think of another example where a movie has gone on to produce a televisoin show that lasted as long as SG-1 did. I'm enjoying the ride so far.

Mira Furlan: my day didn't start off so great with the news that Babylon 5 (and Lost, if you're into that sort of thing) actress Mira Furlan had passed away at the age of 65. I have a few seasons of Babylon 5 kicking around on DVD and it looks as though I'm going to have to start a rewatch of that show again, because not only does it remain and excellent show- but the cast- of which Furlan was an integral part- playing the role of Minbari Ambassador Delenn- was incredible as well. She was perfect as Ambassador Delenn- there's really no other way I can put it. There's that incredible moment in the first episode of the show where Garibaldi (the late, great Jerry Doyle) keeps asking people to let him show him his favorite thing ever-- an Ambassador Delenn takes him up on it only to find out it's popcorn and Duck Dodger cartoons. She managed to make that character seem so alien and yet so human at the same time- and honestly, in terms of actors portraying aliens, I'd put her right up there with Leonard Nimoy and his portrayal of Spock. It's that iconic and that good!

(Born in Croatia in the former Yugoslavia, she played Ankica Vidmar in the firm When Father Was Away On Business which won the Palme d'Or in 1985 and scored a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nominee as well. She fled turmoil in 1992 landing in New York- she was on stage and has released an album back in 1998 and- here's the theater kicker: she returned to Croatia in 2002 to take the lead role in Rade Serbedzija's Theater Company's production of Euripedes' Medea. I bet she was a fantastic Medea. I could see her absolutely blowing the roof of a theater in a role like that.)

I'd consider her an icon of science fiction television and she will be missed.

The Silmarillion: Well, I'm in the thick of it now-- I'm picking my way through the Quenta Silmarillion and I've got through the Ainulindale and Valaquenta and it's... getting better. The first part- the creation myth for Tolkein's world/Middle-Earth is a bit...  too...  epic? I mean, I know it's supposed to be mythological in tone but the first part is a bit dense. It loosens up quite a bit in the second part, where we get into the story of the Silmarils themselves. Haven't gotten to Beren and Luthien yet, but I'm right about the founding of Gondolin- and here's the crazy thing: I'm starting to actually enjoy this. I never really thought I'd say that- I viewed this as more of a chore than anything else. Read The Hobbit, Read LOTR, so at some point, you gotta do this one too, right? 

The interesting thing so far: Galadriel shows up. Because it's The Silmarillion, she doesn't really say much, but her character is interesting here. She's got her eyes on a very specific prize- and when she ends up in Thingol and Melian's kingdom, you can see where a lot of the influence for Lothlorien as it's described in LOTR and seen on screen in the movies comes from. But it changes how you view her, really. She's there, she's supportive, but she never gets in the weeds of the politics and conflicts of the Noldor. She seems to be playing her own game and has her eyes on the prize, as it were. Whether it's beause she has some foresight of the future (could be, could be) and just doesn't want to dick around fighting her fate or whether it's because she's tired of all these men (because they are men mainly, with the exception of Melian) well, fucking things up and wants her own place to rule.

It's fascinating- and puts that scene where Frodo offers her the ring into a very different light indeed (and there was a fascinating Reddit post about that very thing that I can't find now- but I'll see if I can dig it up and provide a link.)

It's good so far though. Surprisingly good.


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