Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stupid/Funny Thing of the Week

My sister came over with her baby, wondering if I wanted to go to the movies with her. I went in the other room to do Borg knows what on the computer, when she started sputtering and shrieking. I came running in to see what on earth was the matter.

Well, my sister had been holding the baby up above her head (like I always do), when suddenly, he threw up on her face and into her mouth. She freaked out and roiled around like a vampire doused with Holy Water (or maybe like a priest doused with the Devil's Urine). My nephew stood beside the couch, looking around, wondering what amazing, hilarious thing he had just done. My sister is still in the bathroom as I type this.


P.S. When she finally finished retching and washing her mouth out, my sister told me the movie she had decided for us to see was DRAG ME TO HELL, Sam Raimi's new bile and goo-overloaded horror film. Every time something revolting went into Alison Lohman's mouth (and there were about seventeen), I wondered how my sister was taking it. I never actually asked her, though.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's UP

So, I saw the new Pixar film UP tonight. It's amazing when I relate to the seventy-eight year old character in the film rather than the nine year old. But ah well.

Great film, kids. It's pretty telling about my emotional state when I'm bawling before the feature even begins.

But hey, that was a moving short, dude.


P.S. It was a profound, yet simple film, and I felt inspired when I got home to write something. Strangely, it was a horror story I just spent the last hour working on. I'm not sure Pete Docter had that in mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Babysitting Thoughts

I babysat my sister's kid today, and we had a good time. The baby is almost one-and-a-half now (when do they stop being babies, I wonder), but this is an amazing age, when he babbles incoherently, and runs around and laughs and seems to enjoy life more than he used to (or maybe just in a different way). I asked my mom if this was the age that's the most fun, and she said everything between one and two is pretty great.

So, we hung out, and my sister called me to say that she had tickets to see Dane Cook, and wondered if I could tend the boy for a few more hours. I agreed, and while he tested my patience, especially with his insistence to be held while I was trying to get some work done (for a change), I had two strange, rather emotional experiences with him today.

The first was in changing his diaper the first of three times. He had some kind of diarrhea mixed with toxic waste that had not only filled, but overflowed his diaper. And I gotta say, part of me just wanted to run screaming from the room. It was such a mess and smelled so bad, that I literally came close to crying. That hadn't happened before, to my knowledge, and I wonder if it's typical.

He took an extremely long nap, from between two and five-thirty, so when it came time to put him to bed at night, he just wouldn't go. I kept trying to get him to go to sleep by rocking him or giving him a bottle, but he just wanted to hang out. Finally, I gave up, and we both sat on the couch watching UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS. The whole time, he stayed awake, fiddling with the remote control, or poking me and then laughing.Around midnight, my sister came over to pick him up, and another strange thing happened: he didn't want to go to her. Initially I suspected that some dark being had taken the guise of my sister and the boy could sense the danger, but she explained that, like Kamala in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," the child bonds to whomever he spends the most time around, and that had happened to me.* He cried and reached for me, and when my brother-in-law loaded the carseat in, the baby ran for me again like I was his only hope. He began to wail when they loaded him into their car to take him back to his house, and I felt extremely sad witnessing this.

When the car (and the boy) was gone, I experienced a new emptiness, quite different from the emptiness I feel every other day of the year. I don't really get it. Not sure why I thought this was worth sharing, either.


*Um, my analogy, not hers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last "Dollhouse" on the left

So, I went over to tyranist's house to watch the last "Dollhouse." It had aired just a couple of days previous, and with the bang-up cliffhanger we'd gotten the episode before, I was happy to finish up the show as soon as we could.

Now, this wasn't the last episode that was shot. Apparently, Joss filmed a thirteenth (or fourteenth, if you want to be technical) show for inclusion on the DVD. It was either to fulfill contractual obligation or to show FOX what a second season might be like, and to show them how cheaply it could be made. That episode, which they called "Epitaph One," will be on the DVD release this summer.

So, the final episode of the real season, "Omega," was written
and directed by Tim Minear. Nice to see him back.*

So, we see a flashback, with Alpha and a dark-haired chick in silhouette, who we assume is Echo. They're part of some Bonnie & Clyde/NATURAL BORN KILLERS duo, and it turns out that it's Doctor Saunders aka Whiskey in the girl role.

In the present, Saunders realises she's not who she thinks she is, and it is revealed that the real Doctor Saunders was murdered by Alpha during his original escape. He had been walking around, pretending to be like all the others, and showing Echo particular attention, then one day, he went into the upload room and imprinted himself with all sorts of personalities.

Meanwhile, Alpha and Echo have abducted some girl named Wendy (who looks disturbingly like the youngest kid on "Growing Pains") and take her back to Alpha's hideout, where he has built himself his own imprint chamber. He straps Wendy to a chair and, having snatched Echo's original Caroline personality, uploads it into Wendy. Then, while "Caroline" watches, he uploads Echo with multiple personalities, like he did to himself in the flashback. He now calls Echo "Omega."

Paul Ballard helps Adelle and Langton figure out where Alpha is,
and working together, they manage to find his hideout.

Alpha tells Echo/Omega to kill "Caroline," but instead, she attacks Alpha. They fight. Alpha removes the hard drive containing Echo's original Caroline personality, and kills Wendy. He tosses the hard drive and Echo goes after it, allowing Alpha to escape. The hard drive (I believe they had a cute name for these things, but I don't recall what it was) falls from where Alpha threw it, but it is caught by Ballard. They get Echo back to the Dollhouse and wipe out all the personalities (or did they?), and Paul Ballard agrees to work for the Dollhouse in return for something.

In the end, we see that Mellie (aka November) has been released from her contract early, had her original personality reinserted, and leaves with no memory of Ballard or what she experienced as an Active. The end.

So, the season is over, and the status quo is . . . well, a bit different, I guess. I didn't quite get what Ballard will be doing for the Dollhouse--is he Echo's new handler? Head of security? A different, previously-unseen post? Maybe the handler for someone new next season?

And yes, there is a next season. I don't understand why FOX renewed the show--I really don't--but they did. They ordered thirteen more episodes, and we'll see if their faith is paid off. Boy, it would be great if this was like "Buffy," and the second season starts with some kind of new life and inspiration and quality . . . and most importantly, ratings.

FOX did cancel "Sarah Connor," which I thought was silly, since Warners just made another TERMINATOR movie that everyone's banking on to be a hit. And in the article I read, they stated that "Dollhouse" is the lowest rated show to get a renewal . . . of the year, or ever? I read an interview with Kevin Reilly, the FOX executive who okayed the renewal, and he said that the DVR numbers were good, and that if he canceled the show, "I'd probably have 110 million e-mails this morning from the fans." At first I thought that was a joke.

But folks, the FOX treatment of "Firefly" was a crime. The cancellation of "Dollhouse" was . . . well, probably just numbers. I don't see the logic in bringing it back, so it's actually possible that there was some kind of heart or intuition or faith-based reasoning behind it. We'll see if it turns out to have been a wise decision, and if season two is as good--or better--than the last three episodes of season one, then I'll be happy to keep on watching.

Well, as happy as one such as I can get.

Rish "Codename Golf" Outfield

*He was Joss's co-show runner on "Firefly," as well as doing great things on "Angel." But since he wrote the one where Echo was a blind woman, I guess he's been back before.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top Ten Star Trek Characters

This is a little weird. I hadn't done a Top Five list in a long time, and was thinking of doing one in honour of WOLVERINE or STAR TREK or TERMINATOR 4 or UP.

But today, my buddy Jeff (the chemist) sent me an email after getting back from seeing the STAR TREK reboot/prequel, asking me my ten favourite Star Trek characters. He didn't specify if it was just Classic Trek, new movie, main characters, or all-inclusive (I figured it might be the latter).

By the time I wrote mine up, he had already sent me his list:
1. Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
2. Scotty (James Doohan)
3. Khan
4. Data
5. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelly)
6. Q
7. Kirk (Shatner)
8. Picard
9. Riker
10. (tie) Jacob Sisco/Emergency Medical Hologram
I sent my own list off and then read his. It was amusing/amazing how many we had in common. Or maybe it isn't.

My list:
1. Lt. Commander Data
2. Captain Picard
3. Lt./Commander Worf
4. James T. Kirk
5. Mr. Spock
6. The Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH)
7. Khan Noonien Singh
8. Doctor McCoy
9. Jadzia Dax
10. Constable Odo
Immediately after sending this list, I felt like, if I could've put everyone and anyone on the list, I should've put Lore and Gul Dukat on the list. And, truth be told, I desired the busty Vulcan chick enough to probably need to list her somewhere as well.

Beta Ray Charles sent in:
1. Spock
2. Captain Kirk (ST)
3. Data (ST: TNG)
4. Dr. McCoy (ST)
5. Captain Picard (ST: TNG)
6. Jadzia Dax (DS9)
7. Odo (DS9)
8. The Doctor (Voyager)
9. Quark (DS9)
10. Garak (DS9)
My evil cousin Ryan sent me this:
1 Worf
2 Data
3 Kirk
4 Picard
5 O'Brien
6 Sisko
7 Spock
8 Kira
9 Riker
10 LaForge
And tyranist sent me his list in no particular order. Infuriated, I asked him to rank them, but he refused, eventually suggesting I just take them as is. So, his list would then be:
Yeoman Rand
Captain Picard
Captain Kirk
Dr. McCoy
Dr. Bashir
Lt. Worf
Lt. Commander Data
Mr. Spock
Chief O'Brien
Commander Riker
With that, our Top Five Star Trek Characters would be:
5. (tie) MCCOY/WORF

Your results may vary.

Rish Tiberius Outfield

Friday, May 08, 2009


So, I just got back from seeing J.J. Abrams' new STAR TREK film. It was extremely well done and a lot of fun. It has gotten great reviews, and they're saying that, as intended, it appeals both to Trek fans and regular folk. It opened huge, and it would seem that pretty much everyone loves it.

Well, almost everyone.Rish Tiberius Outfield

Monday, May 04, 2009

"Dollhouse" keeping

So, tyranist went away for a couple of weeks (guess some political dissidents needed disappearing), so we didn't get together to watch "Dollhouse" for a long time. They skipped a week anyway, so it wasn't entirely our fault

His TiVo was filled to the brim with all sorts of new shows, and we've been watching "Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire," "Harper's Island," "Fringe," "Sarah Connor," and "The Unusuals," so that delayed things even further.

So, by the time I'm typing this, I guess the show is over and done with. FOX hasn't said that it's canceled (at least as far as I know, since I'm trying to avoid [further] spoilers), but the coffin's as good as nailed.

And like I said in my last "Dollhouse" post--they actually gave the show a chance (even if it was in a lousy timeslot), by showing pretty much all the episodes, and in the right order. I have to admit that I'm curious about the two shows that were shot that haven't aired, but I can talk about that when I know a) how this season ended, and b) that the show is for sure canceled.

So, first up was an episode called "Haunted," written by Jane Espenson, Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon (which, if I recall correctly, means that Jane Espenson wrote the first draft by herself, and the other two did rewrites as a team).

In it, a rich middle-aged woman named Margaret, who is good friends with Adelle DeWitt, dies. But she has had her mind uploaded at the Dollhouse, and they plug Margaret's personality into Echo. She decides to go to the funeral and spend time at her mansion to figure out who murdered her.

This was unlike any of the other episodes we'd seen, and it really showcased the range of potential stories you could do on the show. Echo/Margaret goes around, interacting with her boytoy new husband, her spoiled daughter and son, and her drunk estranged brother, trying to find out which one killed her, and discovering in the process exactly what they thought of her. She gets to be young again, and knowing that she is actually dead, she realises that the Dollhouse provides the potential for immortality.

There was a rather interesting b-story, where Topher tells Boyd Langton he needs to do some testing on the imprint machine, and ends up programming Sierra to be his best pal. They hang out and have fun, and Adelle tells Langton that it's Topher's birthday, and it would seem that the only friends he has are the ones he makes up. It went a long way--for me, anyway--to making me like Topher.

There's another subplot where Ballard takes Mellie's (or "Mellie's") fingerprint and gets his friend in the FBI to check it out on the computer. It retrieves a criminal record, but less than a second after it comes up, the screen goes blank and the monitor claims there were no results found. He goes back to his apartment, and Mellie has noticed he's been acting differently toward her. She asks him if he's found any new Dollhouse clients, and as he kisses her, he now considers himself to be one.

In the end of the show, after about a thousand twists and turns, we discover that Margaret's son killed her, and has placed the blame on his stepfather. Then, in her own handwriting, she writes a new will and letters to her loved ones, saying goodbye. She goes back to the Dollhouse, talks to Adelle, and lets herself die for real. The end.

I turned to tyranist and semi-apologised for not liking the show, because I really enjoyed "Haunted," and found it totally engaging. When I got home, I found that of the eleven episodes that have aired, this one got the lowest ratings. Merrill has a strange way of looking at ratings, and claims that people must not have liked the episode before it. Tyranist just thinks the whole ratings system is flawed, and tries not to think about it.

Because we had another episode ready to go, I didn't have much time to think, and we started up the second-to-last episode, "Briar Rose." It was written by Jane Espenson, and due to my niece clicking through the channels on the night it aired, I had had the biggest twist of the show ruined for me. To my credit, I don't believe I said anything until later.

So, Echo is in a school or orphanage or institute for troubled youth or . . . Okay, let's just say that Echo is in a classroom, reading the fairy tale of Briar Rose, which sounds a felch of a lot like Sleeping Beauty, but what do I know? There's a kid in the class who freaks out, and we discover that Echo has been programmed with an artificially-aged version of that girl's personality, in order to help her cope with the terrible experiences that led her to being troubled.

Tyranist theorised that the Dollhouse must also do charity work, since there wasn't a super-rich client footing the bill for this job, but I doubt we'll ever know for sure.

Anyway, a dead body turns up in Arizona, that looks like the handywork of Alpha, the escaped, insane Active, so they send Sierra down there in the "guise" of an FBI pathologist. Also, the NSA sends a coded message for Dominic (who is "boxed" in the Attic). They upload Dominic's personality into Victor, and he is somewhat freaked out to be there.

That, though, does open up a couple of interesting story possibilities. Let's say there's a serial killer on death row, or a terrorist who is captured, and they scan that dude's brain and stick it into, say, November/Mellie. Could she then tell them where the bodies are buried or the children are being kept or where the bomb has been planted or how the Kennedys are involved, or would she just resume the activities of the killer/terrorist and need to be captured once again? This is the second time I've had to say, "Well, I guess we'll never know."

Maybe I'll ask Joss next time I see him.

So, the A-story of this episode is rather Ballard-centric, as he breaks up with Mellie, being a little harsher than necessary. She goes off alone and he follows her when she is picked up (I wondered if she had a handler, and how that would work if she did). She's taken to a building in Century City (I'm pretty sure it was one of the ones blown up at the end of FIGHT CLUB), and Ballard realises that the Dollhouse is located beneath the city.

Back with his bald-headed FBI associate, Ballard researches the architect who designed that particular building, and goes to his house. His name is Stephen Kepler (I had to look up the guy's name so I wouldn't refer to him as Alan Tudyk), and he's a totally paranoid, stoned-out-of-his-gourd shut-in, who apparently hasn't left his apartment since a white guy was the heavyweight boxing champion. He's rather uncooperative.

Alan Tudyk is a likable, comedic actor, and the two times I'd seen him in person, I didn't know what "Firefly" was, but the part of the stoner does seem tailor made for him. He claims to know nothing about the Dollhouse, but he does remember the strange floorplan he drew up for the building. Ballard finally forces him to leave his home/hydroponics bay, and help him enter the Dollhouse. Sure enough, there's a way to climb in through an air conditioning grate, and descend to Ballard's destination.

Tudykepler is also a computer genius, and he manages to shut down the security system so Ballard can locate Echo (who he knows as Caroline). She's in her little sleep-bay, and while Tudykepler shuts the power down, Ballard pulls Echo out . . . and runs into Boyd Langton. They fight, and Ballard is taken before Adelle DeWitt. They exchange words, and it's up in the air whether they're going to just kill ex-Agent Ballard or send him to the Attic, when Adelle gets a call from Sierra. The dead body they found in Arizona is that of the architect that designed their building, some guy named Stephen Kepler.

Elsewhere, Doctor Saunders and Victor run into Alan Tudyk, who pulls out a blade and slashes Victor's face in the same way he did hers. You see, Alan Tudyk is Alpha, and the whole deal with Ballard was a diversion so he could get back into the Dollhouse and achieve his goal. He grabs Echo and puts her in the imprinting chair, uploading an unnamed personality into her. She immediately recognises Alpha as her handsome prince, come to rescue her at last, and the two of them leave the Dollhouse together. The end.

So, that's about it. I have to hand it to the writers on this one, by giving Alan Tudyk a role that so obviously suited his clownish track record, they completely lowered our guard that he could be the psychotic mastermind the show has lived in fear from since the first episode. It came as a great surprise (at least I imagine it did, since I had the surprised ruined when my niece turned the TV to FOX the other night just at the moment that Dr. Saunders sees him and says, "Alpha!"), and I really look forward to the next, final episode, where we can see him in action.

I'll just leave it at that. I'm sure I'll have something to say when the last episode airs, and who knows, maybe a miracle will happen and the show will get renewed, and I'll have to continue doing these blog posts for a good long time.

Rish Alpha-field