Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara: This fourth story in the Key to Time finds the Doctor and Romana mixed up in some courtly politics on the planet Tara. Android replacements and a battle to take the thrown, not to mention a woman who looks just like Romana, make for dangerous territory. Classic TV actor Peter Jeffrey is fantastically diabolical as Count Grendel. Plenty of twists and turns make for some entertaining fun.
Doctor Who: The Time Warrior: With a spiffy new opening, Jon Pertwee begins his final season as the good Doctor. He also meets a young woman who will become very important to Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Smith, a plucky reporter looking for a good story. A Sontaran, medieval thuggery, and Boba Fett the archer are all in the mix for a solid, if not especially memorable tale. They do get their money’s worth of location shooting, though.
Athens: The Dawn of Democracy: Bettany Hughes is back to bring the ancient world alive once again. This time, she turns her focus upon the city-state of Athens. She attempts to dispel some of our rose colored illusions, while still revealing an amazing people in a wild time. The duality of freedom and oppression. The amazing expansion of science and philosophy, side by side with shockingly primitive superstitions and human brutality. As with her other documentaries, Hughes’ passion for the subject draws you in and makes you want to know more, while being frustratingly brief. A good companion to her other Greek themed documentaries.
Super 8: Like finding a forgotten gem in a video store, Super 8 harkens back to the kid adventure films of the 80s, like The Goonies, The Explorers, Space Camp, and so many others. Filled with interesting characters and thrilling action, it’s got a lot of heart to back it all up. And it sports a great cast of kid actors, each putting their stamp on various genre regulars (the Fat Kid, the Nerdy Kid, the Sensitive Kid, etc.). Put aside your cynicism, and remember why we love movies.
The Philadelphia Story: A great cast and great script make this worthy of its classic status. The three leads are all at the height of their comic power and the complicated story of love, expectation, class, divorce and marriage is fertile ground. When I’m not watching Jimmy Stewart, I sometimes forget how awesome he was. Hepburn and Grant are always with me, but Stewart fades from my mind a lot, perhaps obscured by his pop culture image (the good guy from It’s A Wonderful Live). But he has an unmistakable star power, tinged with an undercurrent of bitter rage that lends him depth missing from some others of his age. The whole film is a bit crazy, but a lot of fun and well worth a watch.
I also caught a couple episodes from the first few seasons of The Simpsons. Man, I love that show. Seeing some of them, it’s like every line, ever scene is a classic.
In an unusual turn, I actually played a video game called I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. A full frontal assault on the senses, it’s a good deal of fun, so long as you don’t collapse with seizures. The play grid begins to strobe, geometric shapes and green blobs come a calling, and…is that a photo of a cat? All the while, the video game’s title song is blaring at you. Somehow, it all comes together to be a crazy Smash TV style bit of fun, though I don’t think a properly functioning human could play this for more than 15 or 20 minutes before they start getting a little punch drunk.
On the book front, I read volume 3 of Conan, The Tower of the Elephant. And I made some headway in Reality is Broken, which I’m really, really enjoying. With so much anti-science, anti-modernity in the media, and with so many neo-Luddites wandering around talking about the sky falling because somebody likes video games or uses a cell phone, it’s an extremely refreshing breath of fresh air to read about someone who not only loves technology, but is coming up with valid and usable uses for it that could improve everyone’s quality of life. Not just a commentary on how pointless negativity and fear of technology can be, like Everything Bad is Good for You, but a real call of action for making ourselves and our world work better for everyone.
On the music front, I’ve been enjoying Kate Nash quite a bit. And I picked up a good collection of Lightnin Hopkins. I’m not a huge blues man, never was. But I’m still enjoying it.