Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

November 17, 2018

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…


It’s Thanksgiving week (in the USA)! While that certainly can mean time with the family, it also can mean travel time. Whether your on a plane, a train, or a passenger in a car, video can be a good way to pass the time. Personally I’m an omnivorous media consumer:  I usually have video, books, magazines, old time radio shows…just for one trip. 😉

Of course, you may also have “downtime” at your location, especially if you are in a different time zone (you might wake up earlier than the household…or stay up later). If you aren’t traveling, you could still have time, maybe while waiting in line on Black Friday. 😉

Note that some of the videos may not be downloadable:: you may need to be connected to wi-fi or through cellular. That has gotten to be increasingly easy, even on airplanes.

Also, titles could hypothetically leave Prime after you read this, but you’ll be able to tell if it’s included at no extra cost.

I’ll feature a few movies (Amazon has, in my opinion, recently gotten a much better geeky selection), then list a bunch, then feature a few bingeable TV shows, and then list more of those. 🙂

Westworld (the original movie)

  • 1973, 1 hour 28 minutes, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Michael Crichton (a known author at this point, he wrote and directed this movie); Majel Rodenberry (Nurse Chapel/Number One on Star Trek: The Original Series)
  • Legacy: HBO series inspired by it, sequel, TV series
  • Premise: luxury resort with human-like androids where guests can live out their fantasies
  • at TMCGTT

I consider this one essential to a quality geek education. 😉 It’s rather different from the HBO series…don’t go into it expecting that. This is from the point of view of the guests, not the robots. There is implied (but not shown) sexual activity, violence but not gore…and quite a bit of humor. It was influential: seeing the point of view of a robot (with a different visual system), and an “unstoppable” are elements that have occurred in later movies/TV. Yul Brynner is great playing a gunslinger robot which is (unofficially) modeled on his The Magnificent Seven character.

Galaxy Quest

  • 1999, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters, Alien, Avatar), Tim Allen (Toy Story, The Santa Clause), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
  • Premise: years after a Star Trek like show has gone off the air, aliens arrive believing it was all real

Fun comedy (with some heart) with a quotable script, special effects, and a strong cast…not just in the principles, but also from the always reliable Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, and Missi Pyle.

Carrie

  • 1976, 1 hr 28 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Stephen King (It, The Dead Zone…well, lots of stuff), Brian De Palma (Phantom of the Paradise, The Fury), William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
  • Premise: bullied sheltered teen is telekinetic
  • at TMCGTT

First Stephen King adaptation (from his first novel), has a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Great horror movie, which has had a sequel and a remake. As visually stylish as any De Palma movie, it also features John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Piper Laurie.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

  • 1984, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China), Peter Weller (RoboCop, Star Trek Into Darkness), Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Thor: Ragnarok), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun)
  • Premise: Multi-hyphenate (a la Doc Savage) Buckaroo Banzai and his friends face aliens from another dimension

I loved the premise of this movie, and there was some really clever writing…but many people found it, well, confusing. I’m still a fan, and I’m not alone.

  • Hot Tub Time Machine: raunchy comedy
  • Lifeforce: Tobe Hooper directed, with lots of nudity
  • Night of the Comet: very 1980s apocalyptic comedy
  • Donnie Darko: cult weirdness
  • Star Trek: the first of the reboot series with Chris Pine
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Logan’s Run: turning 30 is fatal…stars Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Pair this with The Island of Dr. Moreau (also starring Michael York)
  • Robot & Frank: critically-acclaimed comedy with Frank Langella
  • Soylent Green: great 70s social sci-fi which still gets quoted, with Charlton Heston. Pair this with The Omega Man with Heston (a version of I Am Legend). They also have my favorite adaptation of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. I recommend that one!
  • Saturn 3: Stanley Donen directs Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and Farah Fawcett…like a cop thriller in space
  • Mad Max (the first of the movies…The Road Warrior is a lot more accessible, this one more thoughtful)
  •  A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick with a star-making performance by Malcolm McDowell
  • THX 1138: George Lucas’ first
  • Arrival: lots of significant Oscar noms. Not to be confused with The Arrival (1996) with Charlie Sheen…which you can also watch with Prime
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters: like a lot of other Roger Corman movies, cleverer than you might think from the title
  • Demon Seed: oh, I’ve been hoping they would get this! It’s a great warning about Smart Homes…from 1977! Tacky, goofy, sure, but I’ll watch it again to see if it is relevant as I remember
  • 4D Man: 1959 low-budget but worth seeing movie from Jack H. Harris with Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether
  • Horror Express: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and…um…a caveman on a train. It’s much more atmospheric than that suggests
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: considered by many to be the worst movie of all time…I could suggest others, but it’s certainly sincere. Pair this with popular parody of 1950s low-budget sci-fi, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  • Kick-Ass: 2010 superhero movie with a remarkable performance by then 12-13 year old Chloë Grace Moretz
  • Things to Come: serious science fiction, based on H.G. Wells, from William Cameron Menzies
  • Liquid Sky: cult trippy 1980s movie
  • Get Out: Oscar-recognized…pair this with The Stepford Wives
  • Dreamscape, The Cell, Devil (character-based horror), Let Me In, Dog Soldiers, The Fog
  • The Wasp Woman, The Giant Gila Monster, Varan the Unbelievable,
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Girl with All the Gifts (Glenn Close in a zombie movie…really)
  • Flatliners
  • Candyman
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • Vampire’s Kiss: Nic Cage
  • The Hunger: David Bowie
  • Q: The Winged Serpent…don’t be misled by the title, this is much more sophisticated than it sounds
  • Ghoulies
  • The Raven
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Nosferatu
  • Blacula (blaxploitation, but a solid performance from William Marshall)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers, Vampire Circus
  • Frogs
  • Squirm
  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (wish they had the original…I don’t like to watch things out of order)
  • 5ive: low budget but all about the script and acting
  • Night of the Living Dead: pair this with The Crazies, also by George Romero
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • House on Haunted Hill: Vincent Price
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches
  • Countess Dracula
  • Phantom from Space
  • The Monster Club
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Turbo Kid: really fun 1980s homage. Laurence Leboeuf is terrific, and so nice to see Michael Ironside in a significant role
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney)
  • Little Shop of Horror (the original, restored in black and white)
  • Piranha
  • Trilogy of Terror: I saw it again in the past few years, and I was even more creeped out!
  • Dementia 13
  • The Nun
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • The Ghoul: rediscovered lost Karloff movie
  • Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  • Legend: Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Weird Science
  • Highlander
  • Angry Red Planet

Well, really! I could keep going, but I’ve given you plenty on movies for now!

I’ll switch to TV shows, but I’ll have to make it another seed catalogue, like the bottom section of the above:

  • Stargate SG-1 (and Atlantis)
  • True Blood
  • Doctor Who
  • Eureka
  • The Expanse
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
  • Battlestar Galactica (the beloved reboot)
  • Medium
  • Carnivale
  • Kung Fu
  • Under the Dome
  • Star Trek (a bunch of series)
  • Humans
  • Defiance
  • Babylon 5
  • The Tick (the Patrick Warburton version)
  • The Twilight Zone (the original)
  • Dark Shadows
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981 version)
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day
  • Lexx
  • Tin Man
  • PSI factor
  • Sapphire and Steel
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • The Prisoner
  • Teen Wolf

I might add to this, but feel free to add your own Prime Video suggesstions in the comments!

Have a great holiday!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

September 26, 2018

Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

Fly the freaky skies

Manifest debuted this week on NBC, to good ratings. The basic premise puts it solidly into the geeky TV realm, as passengers on a flight land years after it takes off, with a different sense of time passing.

While there was a time when even the concept of heavier-than-air flight was considered by many to be science fiction, air travelers in the TVerse face greater risks than simply losing your luggage.

Here are five pre-Manifest examples of when it would have been better to miss the flight altogether:

Lost (2004-2010)

Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crash-landed…and that was just the beginning of a series that riveted audiences for years. A strong cast of characters, bizarre happenings, and a heavily-debated finale guarantees its gate space in the Fantastic Terminal.

The Friendly Skies episode of Miracles (2003)

The second episode of the short-lived series (which had a notable fan base) brings the paranormal investigation team into the case of an airplane that disappeared…and then reappeared. The episode clearly established the personal stakes of the weirdness, that people’s lives were affected emotionally by what Alva, Paul, and Evelyn would encounter throughout the series.

The Odyssey of Flight 33 episode of The Twilight Zone (1961)

Sure, we could have gone with Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, the William Shatner starring-episode with the gremlin on the wing, but that one doesn’t affect the entire passenger list the way that the others in this post do. This commercial flight accidentally time travels, putting everyone at risk.

Land of the Giants (1968-1970)

This Irwin Allen series was set in the then future year of 1983. Like the rest of these, it involves a flight for which anyone could have bought a ticket…yes, the Spindrift isn’t like a regular airplane, but it is a suborbital flight (not a flight to another planet). Encountering a mysterious phenomenon, they are stranded on a world where humans (and everything else) are more than ten times the size that they are on Earth.

Phantom Traveler episode of Supernatural (2005)

Sam and Dean investigate a mysterious plane crash (TransNational flight 2485), and end up eventually confronting an evil entity…mid-flight.

Those are just some examples of what we see on the departures board at LaGeekya Airport: there’s the Incredible Hulk on 747, The Thunderbirds in their very first mission to rescue the passengers of the nuclear-powered Fireflash (which has been sabotaged by The Hood), Laura Perkins going One Step Beyond with her premonition of a plane crash (and that’s not to mention the movies and other media)…supernatural Air Traffic Control is going to be busy!

Do you have a geeky plane flight episode/series you want to add to this list? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Prime Original Series

  • The Man in the High Castle (2 ten episode seasons with teasers for #3, 2015-): alternative history loosely based on Philip K. Dick
  • Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (1 ten episode season, 2018): because you can never have too much PKD
  • Lore (1 season, 6 episodes, 2017)
  • The Tick (1 season, 12 episodes, 2017): 3rd series based on the comics (also available: the Patrick Warburton version)

Exclusive to Prime (they say…they are clearly only counting streaming on demand, for one thing)

  • Doctor Who (parts are exclusive to Prime…at time (and relative dimensions in space), Eccleston-Capaldi): may I recommend The Girl Who Waited, season 601, episode 10? One of my favorites
  • Orphan Black (season 1-5)
  • Batman: The Animated Series: did you think Christopher Nolan revived Batman? Tim Burton? Try this…
  • SpongeBob SquarePants (season 1-11)
  • Humans (3 seasons)
  • Grimm (6 seasons)
  • Under the Dome (3 seasons: recent adaptation of Stephen King, a lot of buzz when it started)
  • Defiance (3 seasons)
  • Just Add Magic (season 1, 201, 202)
  • Teen Wolf (originally MTV: season 101-602)
  • Wallace & Gromit (also available: Shaun the Sheep)
  • True Blood
  • Annedroids
  • Carnivale

Catch Up

  • American Horror Story (seasons 1-7)

Remember When?

  • Monsters (3 seasons, starting in 1988)
  • Tales of the Unexpected (8 seasons, starting in 1979)
  • The Veil (1 season starting in 1958)
  • The Hunger (hosted by David Bowie) (2 seasons, starting in 1998)
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun (6 seasons)
  • Medium (7 seasons)
  • Flash Gordon (2007 series)
  • Robin Cook’s Invasion (1997)
  • PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998)

Superheroes (although not always that super or that heroic)

  • Todd McFarlane’s Spawn (3 seasons, animated)
  • Sapphire and Steel (not superheroes? I’m open to arguments for and against)

Remakes, Reboots, Sequel Series

  • 13 Nights of Elvira (1 season with the horror host)
  • Hammer House of Horror (2014)

Oh, the Fandomity!

  • Eureka (5 seasons)
  • Babylon 5 (5 seasons)
  • The Expanse (3 seasons)
  • Andromeda (from Gene Roddenberry, starring Kevin Sorbo…and you’ll see Rey’s hairstyle before the Star Wars’ revivals, pretty much)
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict
  • Star Trek (the original series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise,
  • Twilight Zone (the original series…5 seasons)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004)…4 seasons
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the 1981 version)
  • Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff…and one of my favorite series) (also available: Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures)
  • The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan’s can’t miss series)
  • Dark Shadows (various parts of it…it was on a lot!)
  • Primeval
  • Charlie Jade
  • Captain Scarlett (also available: Space Precinct 2040)
  • Jeremiah

Some more…

  • Tin Man
  • Space Debris
  • Teddy Go!

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

August 4, 2018

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

While I recently started pointing out geeky movies available to Prime Members

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

and I do intend to update that, I planned to do one for Prime geeky TV series this weekend (I hope to eventually to do books, too).

In doing so, I was very pleased to see that they now have 1967’s

The Prisoner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

available!

While it never pays to oversell anything, I’ll say that I’m a fan of the series…one of our dogs is actually named after it. 😉 I have a boxed set. One time, when our now adult kid had another adult friend visiting our home from across the country, we ended up spending a day just watching it (what would now be called “binge watching”). It’s over forty years old and British, but I can safely that it works for an American born decades after it first aired.

I don’t want to say too much about it; I think it’s best to go into it largely unprepared if you’ve never seen it before. It’s not a spoiler to say that a major theme of it is remaining an individual in the face of overwhelming conformity.

Was it a success at the time?

In England, it was like Lost: people were really wrapped up in the mystery of it. The series finale (it is only one season) was highly controversial…which was intentional.

It was different in the USA: it did play on CBS, but really became much more of a geek touchstone later.

Since there are only 17 one-hour episodes, you can watch it in a day.

One note: the best order in which to watch it is highly debated. Part of that has to do with the fact that it was originally conceived as a much shorter series, but was expanded for marketing reasons. There is also a US and a UK order, and clues internal to the episodes suggest yet more possibilities. I think this article covers that issue nicely:

Home Theater Forum

It’s probably simplest to just let Prime autoplay the next episode in the order they have, but up to you.

I’m going to give you one outside-the-universe bit of information which British viewers would have known before watching it. I’ll give it a Spoiler Alert, in case you don’t want that context, but it has nothing to do with surprise plot elements of the series.

SPOILER ALERT

Prior to The Prisoner, McGoohan was already well-known. He had been considered for the role of James Bond for Dr. No and for The Saint, but had been doing a successful TV series called Danger Man (or Secret Agent in the USA…the Johnny Rivers version of the theme song, Secret Agent Man, was popular), when he decided to quit. That, in a way, parallels what happens with The Prisoner’s main character…and there are reasons to think that The Prisoner’s main character is the main character from Danger Man). 

END SPOILER ALERT

If you’ve never seen it before, I think you’ll find it interesting.

If you have…be seeing you. 😉


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

My Lost in Space reboot paradox

April 17, 2018

My Lost in Space reboot paradox

I have begun watching the new

Netflix reboot of Lost in Space

I need to start out by saying that I’m a fan of the original. I have a boxed set of DVDs, and for years, pet toads of mine actually lived in a toy Jupiter 2 (with a lot more environment around it).

Before I give you my paradox about the new show, I do want to give you a

MILD SPOILER WARNING

I’m not going to reveal any major plot twists, but if you want complete discovery, you might want to wait to read this until you’ve seen the first couple of episodes.

Here’s my issue:

I watched it because it was a reboot of Lost in Space. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have watched it otherwise, but it was the specific impetus to get me to move it up in my queue.

I would have liked it better if I hadn’t thought of it as based on Lost in Space.

Whenever anybody is going to do a remake or a reboot, I always want them to come up with one sentence which describes the essence of the original, and stick to that.

For me, one of the key elements of the original LiS is that Will is a prodigy…that the youngest member of the family is the smartest, and even though they don’t always believe him, he is usually right. He is also brave and resourceful.

As far as I was concerned, Lost in Space was about Will and his family (and the robot and Dr. Smith)…not with Will as just one of the group.

Now, admittedly, that may be in part because I was resonating with Will at that point.

I want to be very clear: I would have had no problem if Will was a different gender, or race, or hair color. For that matter, Will could have been an alien in an alien family. The point was that the youngest, likely to be least respected family member, was the “best”.

In this new version, Will is incompetent and scared.

He becomes valuable, but mostly through his connection with the robot.

Okay, okay…he does have one idea which helps…but if Mom Maureen hadn’t been unable to make the suggestion, she would have.

Pretty much everybody is seriously flawed…that can work, but I think the show is geared at children. It’s nice to have people you can admire when you are a kid, and they seem to want to make a point that they all have negative qualities (although they may have more positive qualities).

There are nods to the original series. A character is named Goddard (Mark Goddard played Major Don West on the original), and an original cast member has what I thought was a pretty clever cameo.

END SPOILER ALERT

So…I’m enjoying it. It’s emotionally moving, and some of the effects are effective and even awe-invoking. It passes the “flashback test”, meaning that I have spontaneously thought about it. It doesn’t disrespect the original, and shows a deep knowledge of it…but does have a very different feel.

I’ll keep watching it and see where it goes. It may get better if it forges more of its own identity (so I’m not constantly reminded of the 1960s version), but it doesn’t need to get better to hold my interest.

Have a different opinion? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Geeky Golden Globes 2018: the results

January 8, 2018

The Geeky Golden Globes 2018: the results

While most of the media focus was on other topics, it’s worth noting how the geek-friendly nominees did at the Golden Globes last night.

There has been a sense that GF movies (and TV, but especially movies) have been gaining more respect in recent years. Certainly, box office and ratings haven’t been a question, but what about awards?

In the movies, the big news there was Guillermo del Toro’s win for Best Director. Unlike Best Picture, that one is not divided: The Shape of Water was competing on an even playing field. This does suggest that del Toro may be nominated for the same award at the Oscars. While GF works have been nominated for Best Director before (Stanley Kubrick was nominated for both 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, for example), and Peter Jackson won for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (and there were a couple of others), it is a rarity indeed.

For TV, The Handmaid’s Tale (based on Margaret Atwood’s novel) won the prestigious Best Drama award.

Now, let’s back up a bit…

  • Get Out had two nominations, including Best Actor and Best Picture (in the Musical or Comedy category), it didn’t win either. Still, it is really true that it is an honor just to be nominated. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Get Out nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (where there are more possibilities), and I could see it getting Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor nods (possibly other categories as well). I’m not suggesting that it would win those categories, but nominations? My guess is that the Academy voters will recognize it
  • The Shape of Water was also won for Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat, and was nominated for Best Picture (Drama), as were Sally Hawkins (Best Actress), Richard Jenkins (Best Supporting Actor), Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress). Some of these could repeat in nominations at the Oscars
  • Coco won for Best Animated Feature: that’s a likely repeat nomination, and could win. It also had a nomination for Best Original Song for “Remember Me”: that’s likely to be a tough category, but is possible
  • Ferdinand was also nominated for Best Original Song for “Home”
  • Stranger Things and Game of Thrones were also nominated for TV
  • Caitrona Balfe was nominated for Best Actress, Drama for Outlander…the winner was Elisabeth Moss for Handmaid’s Tale
  • Kyle MacLachlan was nominated for Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Twin Peaks; Ewan McGregor won for Fargo
  • David Harbour was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie for Stranger Things (Golden Globe categories are weird); the winner was Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies
  • Ann Dowd was nominated for Supporting Actress for The Handmaid’s Tale with the winner being Laura Dern for Big Little Lies (A billion dollar movie with The Last Jedi and a Golden Globe? Good couple of months for Dern…)

It’s possible I’ll update this when I’ve had more time, but it may be that this will be the geekiest Oscars ever. There have been geeky Oscar nominations and wins before, as I noted, but there may be a higher percentage of nominees in the “Big Six” categories than we’ve seen (acting, picture, and directing…as well as screenplays).


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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

October 31, 2017

Spend Halloween with The Dick Van Dyke Show

There are soooooo many choices for things to watch on Halloween! Whether you want something really scary (like The Exorcist) or family fun (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), it’s all available to stream. However, some of it may also be a bit…familiar.

Now, as a proud geek, familiar is fine. We can watch the same TV episode twenty times, and enjoy it every time. I always say that’s one of the hallmarks of a geek: low threshold of entertainment. 😉

I thought I’d go a bit farther afield, though, and suggest a few episodes of a real TV classic, but one that isn’t usually considered geek-friendly: The Dick Van Dyke Show.

That is one of my favorite shows, and does have my favorite TV moment (although it’s somewhat subtle).

It’s a show that was an interesting mix of workplace sitcom, song and dance, mime, and social commentary (with a great episode taking on racial perceptions, and a rare for the time openly Jewish role).

There are three episodes I’d recommend for Halloween viewing, including a really stand-out episode for any television show. These are both kid and adult friendly: a bit creepy but not really scary (more Scooby Doo level than Twilight Zone), and jokes that work for adults.

All are available on both Netflix and Hulu at the time of writing.

Uhny Uftz (Season 5, episode 3)

This is a flying saucer episode (many shows had them in the 1950s and 1960s), but it is also a spooky one. Rob is working late and hears an odd noise, and he and Buddy eventually investigate.

The Ghost of A. Chantz (Season 4, episode 2)

Rob, Laura, Buddy, Sally , and even Mel and Alan go to a cabin for a working weekend…and it appears that the cabin is haunted!

It May Look Like a Walnut (Season 2, episode 20)
Event listing at The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

Laura and Rob watch a scary science fiction movie on TV, and it has an Invasion of the Body Snatchers element. The next morning, Rob begins to encounter those events in real life…with a script by series creator Carl Reiner, and directed by Jerry Paris. If you only watch one of these (but I do think the three, which all together would be under an hour and a half, would be good for Halloween), this is the one…even after Halloween.

Enjoy, and happy Halloween!


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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

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The Emmys are really geeky this year…but is that new?

September 17, 2017

The Emmys are really geeky this year…but is that new?

We are a few hours away from the 2017

The Emmys

broadcast, and I was struck by how geeky it was. I @bufocalvin tweeted

Confusing people from the 1950s: “The show with the robots might win Best Drama @TheEmmys because the dragon show isn’t eligible*.”

😉

That fits my personal narrative that geek-friendly content is becoming more mainstream and more respected. Oscar winning actors have no compunction about appearing in geek-friendly franchises, the box office is dominated (even in awards-friendly December) by geek-friendly works, and streaming companies are investing millions in shows based on comic books and science fiction/fantasy books.

However, I always like to question my own beliefs, so I decided to go back and look. Was it really true that Best Drama Series (that title has changed repeatedly, but I’ll use that for simplicity’s sake) tended to be mainstream, mundane series? I was guessing it might be anthology shows that seemed to almost reproduce Broadway plays, but I wasn’t sure.

Let’s set the comparison: this year, there are seven nominees, and three of them are undeniably geek-friendly: The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, and Westworld (43% geek-friendly…GF).

We’ll jump back ten years at a time:

2006-2007 (20% GF)

  • Boston Legal
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Heroes (GF)
  • House
  • The Sopranos

1996-1997 (20% GF)

  • Chicago Hope
  • ER
  • Law & Order
  • NYPD Blue
  • The X-Files (GF)

1986-1987 (0% GF)

  • Cagney & Lacey
  • L.A. Law
  • Moonlighting
  • Murder She Wrote
  • St. Elsewhere

1976-1977  (0% GF)

  • Baretta
  • Columbo
  • Family
  • Police Story
  • Upstairs, Downstairs

1966-1967 (60% GF)

  • The Avengers (GF)
  • I Spy (? I can’t remember for sure if they encountered science fiction inventions, so I won’t count it)
  • Mission: Impossible (GF)
  • Run for Your Life
  • Star Trek (GF)

1956 (there aren’t 1957 nominees…the system was considerably revamped for 1958 to separate shows with continuing characters and anthology shows, since the latter kept getting all the nominations. By the 1960s, they were combined again, and by the mid-1960s, shows with continuing characters were solidly in the nomination process)

  • Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre
  • Climax!
  • Producers’ Showcase
  • Studio One
  • The United States Steel Hour

So, it looks like my feeling was right, at least based on this methodology. In the beginning (with the exception of the super-geeky 1960s), there were no GF nominees for Best Drama. From the 1970s-through the twenty-oughts, there there were 20%. This year, there are more than twice that…

* I don’t want to suggest here that, if Game of Thrones was in the running, it would automatically win. I have made a couple of attempts to get into GoT, and it just hasn’t grabbed me. I am slowly making my way through it (I feel it is my geek cultural responsibility). 😉 On the other hand, I’m really enjoying Westworld (which I’ve just started watching…we only recently got access to current HBO shows). I liked the original movie, but so far, the plotting on this is solid, the direction is good, and I’m enjoying the acting. This isn’t the actual comparison, but if it was first episode of GoT versus first episode of Westworld, I know what I’d pick…

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

The short, somewhat sad history of live action TV sci-fi space spoofs

September 13, 2017

The short, somewhat sad history of live action TV sci-fi space spoofs

Seth McFarlane’s

The Orville

debuted on Fox on Sunday, September 10th.

I’ve watched it. While I would like every show to be both successful (long-running) and good, that simply doesn’t happen. TV networks are closer to the mouse reproductive strategy (have lots of babies quickly, and hope some make it) than to the elephant strategy (have few babies and raise them slowly, letting them mature and gain the necessary social skills).

The show is a space sitcom, and that got me thinking about the history of that genre.

A few shows came to mind right away…and none of the American series that I recalled lasted more than a season.

Let’s set some parameters for inclusion:

  • The space sitcom has to be the whole series, not a sketch on a show. That lets out Muppets in Space and Waldo Kitty (although I think the latter’s Star Trek parodies are amongst the ones I’ve enjoyed the most)
  • It has to be live action…not pure cartoons
  • The show has to be a comedy (although there may be some more serious elements). The original Star Trek has some great comedy episodes (The Trouble with Tribbles; A Piece of the Action; I, Mudd…) but doesn’t count for this
  • It has to be TV, not a movie. Galaxy Quest and Spaceballs were successful space spoofs in theatres, but that’s different
  • The show has to largely take place in space, not just have an alien in it. I’m not counting what I call “mermaid out of water” shows (like “fish out of water”, but including a geeky element)…letting out ALF, Mork & Mindy, and My Favorite Martian, for example). I debated including Salvage 1, an Andy Griffith series that included a rocket for salvage in space, but it doesn’t take place primarily in space

Okay, let’s take a look at some shows:

Far Out Space Nuts
YouTube search

  • 15 total episodes
  • 1975-1976
  • CBS

One of the shortest-lived of the Sid & Marty Krofft series, it’s worth noting that this series was on before Star Wars was released. Chuck McCann, who starred along with Bob Denver, was one of the creators. Two NASA employees are actually launched into space, and we see their adventures on different planets. It lasted one season.

Quark
YouTube search

  • 8 total episodes
  • 1978
  • NBC
  • IMDb popularity 4,112 at time of writing
  • One Emmy nomination

“On paper”, this should have been a good series. Buck Henry created it, who was an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and had won an Emmy for co-writing an episode of another spoof, Get Smart. The series starred Richard Benjamin, who was successful in comic parts and had geek credit, having been one of the leads of the original Westworld. However, this series about a space garbage truck only lasted eight episodes (including the pilot).

Homeboys in Outer Space
YouTube search

21 total episodes
1996-1997
UPN
No IMDb popularity rating
No award nominations

Series Executive Producer Ehrich Van Lowe had been a producer and screenwriter on The Cosby Show. There were some great guest stars, including Burt Ward, Natasha Henstridge, and James Doohan. It lasted one season and was on TV Guide’s list of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time.

I think that’s about it. An argument could be made for Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which case that would certainly be the most successful of the American series.

If we turn to the UK, there are more entries (including Come Back Mrs. Noah ((6 episodes…starring Mollie Sugden)), Astronauts ((13 episodes…created by two of The Goodies)), and Hyperdrive ((12 episodes…starring Nick Frost))).

The UK produced

Red Dwarf

which has a strong fandom and which I’ve enjoyed, has had 67 episodes. In particular, series (season) 1, episode 4 is both funny and has social commentary.

So, based on this, The Orville does have an uphill climb in front if it…but Red Dwarf proves it isn’t impossible.

What do you think? Did I leave anything out? Why aren’t space spoofs more successful on TV? Is it just the odds generally against TV series? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
* This blog is named after a quotation of Charles Fort’s. One key element of Forteanism (Fort would not have approved of that term of the concept) is that things having finite existences, being separate from each other, is inaccurate…”One measures a circle beginning anywhere”. True Forteans know that everything blends into everything else…but of course, that include “true” and “false” and Forteans and non-Forteans. 😉

It’s award season: how geeky is it?

December 15, 2016

It’s award season: how geeky is it?

Oh, it’s going to be an interesting award season!

This week, we’ve had three major announcements. Sunday was the 22nd annual

Critics’ Choice Awards

For me, there were very few surprises there. It seems like any reader of Entertainment Weekly (and I’ve been reading it for a very long time) would be very familiar with almost all of the winners

That’s interesting, in part because I think people believe critics tend to like movies that audiences don’t (hypothetically showing their more refined sensibilities), but I wouldn’t say that’s the case this year. Making a lot of money did not rule you out for an award…and in at least a couple of awards, the winner had the highest dogro (domestic gross) as well.

It was also quite geek-friendly.

I haven’t seen La La Land yet, and I’m not sure if there is actual fantasy in it, so I won’t count that as a geek-friendly winner…yet.;)

Best Picture

Interesting to me here that Arrival was nominated. That seems to have a chance for some prestige Oscar noms…

Best Comedy Series

Silicon Valley won.

Best Drama Series

Game of Thrones won, but Westworld and Stranger Things were also nominated, along with Mr. Robot (and Better Call Saul, The Crown, and This Is Us).

Best Actor in a Drama Series

While Bob Odenkirk won for Better Call Saul, Sam Heughan was nominated for Outlander, as was Rami Malek for Mr. Robot.

Best Structured Reality Show

Penn & Teller: Fool Us was nominated, although James Corden won.

Best Animated Series

The winner was BoJack Horseman: other nominees were Archer, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons, South Park, and hybrid Son of Zorn.

Entertainer of the Year Award

Ryan Reynolds, obviously primarily for Deadpool.

Best Actress

Amy Adams was nominated for Arrival; Natalie Portman won for Jackie.

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Evan Rachel Wood brought it home for Westworld…but Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) were both nominated.

Best Comedy

Deadpool won…and was the highest domestic grossing of the nominees.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve got a nom for Arrival, but the win went to Damien Chazelle for La La Land (who should easily see an Oscar nom as well).

Best Supporting Actress

Fences got Viola Davis the award, and Janelle Monae was nominated for Hidden Figures.

Best Song

City of Stars from La La Land was lauded, but Can’t Stop the Feeling from Trolls was nominated. Interestingly, the nominee for Moana was How Far I’ll Go, not You’re Welcome, which has had a much higher social media presence.

Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series

Jeffrey Dean Morgan hit a home run (so to speak) for The Walking Dead.

See Her Award

This was a special award which went to Viola Davis…although I don’t think they were primarily thinking Suicide Squad.

Best Actor in a Comedy

Ryan Reynolds showed the maximum result from his maximum effort as Deadpool. The future Doc Savage, Dwayne Johnson, was one of the other nominees for Central Intelligence.

Best Actress in a Comedy

Hey, Kate McKinnon, if you are going to be beaten by somebody for your Ghostbusters performance, Meryl Streep is a good choice. 😉

Best Animated Feature

Zootopia won, and has been a great success story (although Finding Dory, also nominated, had a higher dogro). Other nominees included Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, The Red Turtle, and Trolls.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali won for Moonlight. I don’t think I’ve seen Alphas or The 4400 mentioned in all the coverage he has been getting as a “rising star”.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series was won by Donald Glover for Atlanta, although Will Forte was also nominated for The Last Man on Earth.

Best Score

Johan Johansson was nominated for Arrival; La La Land’s Justin Hurwitz won.

Best Visual Effects

The hybrid The Jungle Book won, with other nominees being Arrival, A Monster Calls, Doctor Strange, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Best Production Design

Winner is La La Land, but Arrival and Fantastic Beasts also got noms.

Hair and Makeup

Jackie won: Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts, and Star Trek Beyond were also nominated.

Editing

La La Land scores again, but Arrival had yet another nomination.

Costume Design

Fantastic Beasts was nominated; Jackie won.

Cinematography

Hopefully, Arrival hadn’t worn out the “I’m glad you won…you really deserve it” smile by the time they got to this category. 😉

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

John Lithgow took it for The Crown. Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington were nominated for Game of Thrones, along with Christian Slater for Mr. Robot.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Thandie Newton made it a double for Westworld in acting. Emilia Clarke and Lena Headey were nominated for Game of Thrones.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Here’s a win for Arrival! Hidden Figures was also nominated.

Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series

American Crime Story’s Courtney B. Vance won, with Benedict Cumberbatch nominated for The Abominable Bride.

Best Original Screenplay

Congrats to Chazelle for La La Land; Yorgos Lanthimos was also nominated for The Lobster.

Best Actress in an Action Movie

No question that all of these geeky movies were also action movies…but it’s worth noting that no non-geeky movie had a best actress nominated. Are powerful women still more acceptable in a fantasy world…just as they were in the days of the pulps? Margot Robbie won for Suicide Squad (and will again play Harley Quinn in another movie), with Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Captain America: Civil War, and Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange also nominated.

Best Actor in an Action Movie

Andrew Garfield wins for a non-geeky role (Hacksaw Ridge). Also nominated were Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Matt Damon for Jason Bourne, Chris Evans as Captain America in Captain America: Civil War, and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool (meaning he could have won two Critics Choice Awards in the same year for the same role).

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie

Arrival, which may be the most Oscar-nommed of this bunch, won. Other nominees were 10 Cloverfield Lane, Doctor Strange, Don’t Breathe, Star Trek Beyond, and The Witch.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson won for Baskets, and T.J. Miller was nominated for Silicon Valley.

Best Young Actor/Actress

Manchester by the Sea is picking up awards for Amazon. Lewis MacDougall got a nomination for A Monster Calls.

Best Acting Ensemble

Moonlight shines as the winner, and Hidden Figures was in the running.

Best Action Movie

Yep, the non-geeky Hacksaw Ridge wins, over Civil War, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, and Jason Bourne.


The Golden Globes nominations were announced Monday (the ceremony is January 8th). Often more geek-friendly than the Oscars, it is still seen by some as a predictor (even though the categories don’t really line up).

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Deadpool gets a nom, along with La La Land.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Amy Adams is nominated.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Colin Farrell was nominated for The Lobster, as was Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool and Ryan Gosling for La La Land.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emma Stone is up for La La Land.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Octavia Spencer gets a nomination for Hidden Figures…a different way than the Critics Choice went.

Best Director – Motion Picture

Damien Chazelle will likely get an Oscar nom, and got a Globe nom as well.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

La La Land lands another nomination.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

City of Stars from La La Land, How Far I’ll Go from Moana (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Faith from Sing (Stevie Wonder co-write with Ryan Tedder and Francis Farewell Starlite), and Can’t Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Shellback).

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Arrival, Hidden Figures, and La La Land are competing.

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, Sing, Zootopia…and in one of those left field Golden Globe noms, My Life as a Zucchini.

Best Television Series – Drama

Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Westworld means that more than half of this category is geeky.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Rami Malek in Mr. Robot is up.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

60% geeky, with Caitriona Balfe for Outlander, Winona Ryder for Stranger Things, and Evan Rachel Wood for Westworld.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Mr. Robot strikes again with Christian Slater.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television

Lena Heady in Game of Thrones versus Thandie Newton in Westworld.


The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be given out on January 29th, and nominations were announced Wednesday.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

The NASA true story inspired Hidden Figures is on the Launchpad.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Ryan Gosling is in contention for La La Land.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Will Amy Adams, nominated here, get that rarity and be nominated for an Oscar for a geeky role? Emma Stone was also nominated for La La Land.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

SAG agrees with the Globes, nominating Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory gets a nomination here…as does the non-geeky Black-ish, which has a number of acting noms this year. Why is that worth noting? They are both from the former big three networks (as is Modern Family, one more nominated in this category).

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Westworld will battle again.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Peter Dinklage continues to get recognition in Game of Thrones; Rami Malek is again nommed for Mr. Robot.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Nice to see Millie Bobby Brown nominated for Stranger Things, along with here co-star, Wynona Ryder. Thandie Newton is also competing, representing Westworld.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a television Movie or Miniseries

Glory is reflected on Bryce Dallas Howard through a Black Mirror.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

All geeky, with Daredevil, Game of Thrones, Luke Cage, The Walking Dead, and Westworld.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Film

People have been talking about this for the Oscars for years, but SAG has it. Captain America: Civil War, Jason Bourne, and Doctor Strange are up against Hacksaw Ridge and Nocturnal Animals.

SAG Life Achievement Award goes to Lily Tomlin.


Update: The National Film Registry (from The Library of Congress) inductees for this year were announced Wednesday morning. Geek-friendly titles included

  • The Birds
  • The Lion King
  • Lost Horizon (1937)
  • The Princess Bride
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Overall, this is an unusually geek-friendly awards season so far. We can thank, in part, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Westworld.

Clearly, geek-friendly works are becoming more respectable…

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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