Category : TV and film

Own Your Joy

Tell me a movie, book, TV series, or whatever that you think is perfect and I’ll tell you how it isn’t perfect.

When I post online that I liked a certain movie, TV series (or episode of a TV series), a book, etc etc etc, I frequently get at least one response along the lines of “It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun” or “I didn’t love it, but I liked it.” And honestly, I don’t know what to do with statements like that. When I say I like something, even when I say I love something, that doesn’t imply I think it’s perfect. If you say you like or love something, I don’t assume you think it’s the Platonic ideal and love everything single thing about it. You’re allowed to enjoy something without having to qualify it. You’re allowed to like something without having to also disparage it in some way. Own your enjoyment. (more…)

An Impossible Story

On one hand, with the premise “adventurer can travel anywhere in time and space, in stories that can be pretty much any genre or mashup of genres”, it makes sense to me that Doctor Who would be such an incredibly long-running, popular series. But… (more…)

Animation Conflagration

Besides watching Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets when I was a little kid, I haven’t watched many anime series until recently. Movies, sure. Akira, Metropolis, and a lot of Studio Ghibli, but when anime was shown on TV in the States, I never seemed to catch it. Thanks to Netflix streaming a number of series, I’ve finally been able to start swimming in the anime pool. I haven’t watched a lot, but I’ve watched enough now that I’m figuring out what I like and want to see more of.

The anime I’ve enjoyed the most are Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is amazing, and Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and its sequel series (really part of the same series), Magi: The Kingdom of Magic. I watched the last few episodes of Kingdom of Magic last night and it hit me that I liked it for a lot of the same reasons I like Fullmetal Alchemist, which are a lot of the same reasons I like superhero comics.

I love emotional characters making dramatic declarations (bonus points if they start crying, like Alibaba Saluja frequently does in Magi). I love characters in elaborate outfits standing in awkward but cool poses just before or after they unleash their unusual, flashy superpowers. And I particularly love epic conflicts and cosmic mysticism. (Is there an anime adaptation of the Mahabharata? I’ll be first in line to see that!)

Which isn’t to say I don’t also like smaller, quieter stories, because I do. But I really loves me some epic, cosmic melodrama!

Seeds of Dreams

It was 1983 and I was 13 years old. I had recently fallen in love with Doctor Who and wanted to learn more about the show. I stumbled upon a magazine celebrating the 20th anniversary of the show, and while I didn’t appreciate the significance of a science fiction series running for 20 consecutive years, I saw my opportunity to dive into the show and bought it on the spot.

I learned more about the basics of the show, including exactly what the TARDIS was, where the Doctor was from, and why there was more than one Doctor–in fact, the one I had gotten into was the fifth and there were three I hadn’t even known existed! And the show was originally in black-and-white! But the section of the magazine that made the biggest impression on me was the story guide, which gave a very short synopsis of every serial and a preview of the next season to come. I had already seen some paperback novelizations in the SF section of the bookstore with titles that sparked my imagination, like Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars and Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet, but this was a whole new game. Now I had a long list of imaginative and weird story titles, like “An Unearthly Child”, “The Web Planet”, “The Celestial Toymaker”, “The Tomb of the Cybermen”, “The Mind Robber”, “The Ambassadors of Death”, and “Carnival of Monsters.” The story synopses were short enough to let my imagination fill in a lot of blanks, helped along by the rest of the magazine, which gave just enough information about the series to give you the basics but still left a lot to be imagined.

I’d never thought of a series of stories–or even chapters within one story–broken up like that, with evocative titles and summaries that hinted at colorful, mind-blowing adventures, but after reading that magazine ragged, I started loosely planning out comic book series, prose serials, and even tabletop RPG campaigns by coming up with titles that sounded cool to me, and then brief, broad story ideas inspired by the titles. I’ve been doing it ever since. Now I have a Google doc with a long list of titles for stories that don’t yet exist, seeds waiting to be watered and grow into real stories, powered by the potential of the imagination.

Kinda Sorta Weird

I became a Doctor Who fan when I was 13. I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but it wasn’t. But when I fell for it, I fell hard.

This was back in the Before Times, when you couldn’t buy episodes of TV shows. You either caught them when they aired (or were lucky enough to own a VCR that you could program to record when it aired) or you missed it. This was also before many of the 1960s episodes of Doctor Who had been recovered and were aired in the US. Basically, if you came into the show, you were jumping onto the middle car of a passing train and relying on fellow passengers and your own sense of direction to find your way around.

My friend Marc was a big fan of the show and invited me over to his house to watch it. I don’t remember how much he explained about what the show was and I don’t remember much of what we watched. I remember it was a Tom Baker story (which was shown as one long episode, since many PBS stations that showed Doctor Who, including our station in Kansas City, had all of the individual episodes of a serial spliced into one “Doctor Who movie”) and I remember not really getting into it or following it. And then my mom and brother began taking karate lessons on Friday nights and I didn’t go along with them (which is weird in retrospect, since studying a martial art was something I’d been interested in, but who can figure out the brain of a 13-year-old?), so I settled in front of the television with a Swanson’s TV dinner in front of me on a TV tray and flipped through the channels to see what was on. I landed on our PBS station just as the announcer said, “Coming up, a new Doctor Who movie: ‘Kinda’!” (Pronounced “kin-da”, like “cin-da-rella.”) Because Marc loved the show, I figured I’d give it another shot and at least watch the beginning. A very different opening sequence from the one I’d seen before started, with a cool, synthy scream leading into a New Wave-ish theme while the starry vastness of space hurtled at me. I was mesmerized. (more…)