We will dance high up balancing ballet… #Choose6 Futurama edition

Recreation of the Earth Flag "Old Freebie...

Recreation of the Earth Flag “Old Freebie”, as seen in the animated series, Futurama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is too much television.

There are also too many books, too many plays, and way too many films.  So much so that it must surely be impossible for the ordinary person to keep up with all the best pop culture and literature.  My housemate — made of much stronger stuff than me — managed to get through every episode of Breaking Bad.  Apparently, it got decent a few seasons in.  Myself, I can’t justify sitting through two awful seasons just on the off chance that it eventually gets better.

And it’s worse for science fiction fans.  Our television shows last decades.  If you were to watch every single episode of Star Trek (in each of its different series), it would take you 533 hours, 45 minutes to watch them all. That’s about 22 days of doing nothing but watching Star Trek, including the absolutely terrible Enterprise seasons.

What we need is a guide.  We need the fans to admit that not every single episode of our favourite shows are essential, enriching viewing.  We need people to sit down, scratch their chins and answer a simple question: ‘Which six episodes should I watch?’

Here’s my Futurama list:

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From the road where the cars never stop… The Bachelor is immoral wank

Finding a life partner should not be like going to a buffet.

It will surprise nobody to know that I have crippling anxiety issues.  I’m awkward and get tired around people quickly.  I’m intensely private and often seem cold and out of place.  Nothing fills me with dread quite as much as the idea of hitting on somebody in public.

Fortunately, technology has come to our aid.  While one of the millions of hours of Star Trek is playing on channel 11, I can create a dating profile on some website.  I can list relevant details about me and upload this really awesome selfie of me wearing a fedora.

(That paragraph was a joke.  Mostly.  I do look awesome in a fedora.)

This process has caused some levels of concern.  E-mails filled with potential partners are sent and you’re encouraged to peruse as if you were catalogue shopping.  Will she like my taste in books?  Will she be able to tolerate my family?  Will she look good on my sofa?  People are literally marketing themselves, reducing themselves to what they perceive to be their appealing characteristics while disguising their less appealing aspects.  There’s a dehumanising aspect about the affair as people are objectified for the judgement of others.

The Bachelor — a reality show where some dopey halfwit judges has to ‘eliminate’ one girl a week until he finds a life partner — is this shallow, narcissistic view of dating beefed up to 11.  It’s what happens when you take the ‘Internet Dating’ approach to intimate interaction to its extreme.

Continue reading

Let it rain, I hydroplane into fame… My shallow review of My Kitchen Rules

I’ve been criticised — criticised! — by somebody for overthinking everything.  Tonight at dinner, I was accused — accused! — of not simply enjoying Disney films, pathologically needing to uncover the hidden meaning in fluff entertainment (for example, The Lion King is anti-Semitic propaganda about the divine right of kings; &c., &c.).

Said one person: ‘I just want to see you under-think something… just once. […]  That would be thrilling.’

So here’s my review of My Kitchen Rules.

——————————————

My Kitchen Rules is all about food and cooking it.  When the food is cooked, people eat it and say if the food was worth eating.  Sometimes, it is not worth eating and the people eating the food say so.  Sometimes, the food is definitely worth eating and the music changes to show how much the people eating the food enjoyed eating the food.

The point of My Kitchen Rules is not to be sent home.  You are sent home if you lose one of two weekly challenges and if you then lose a ‘cook off’ against the team that lost the other of the two weekly challenges.  The target audience of My Kitchen Rules is people who like to watch both people cooking food and people eating food.  The challenges are included to keep things ‘interesting’, but this means that sometimes the show has to broadcast something other than people cooking food and/or people eating food.  The producers of My Kitchen Rules clearly understand that this might confuse the audience, so they make sure that the rules of the current challenge are repeated as often as possible.  I think this is stupid because it means even less time watching people cooking food and/or eating food.

My Kitchen Rules is not the same thing as Masterchef.  In Masterchef, the people cooking the food are individuals.  In My Kitchen Rules, the food is cooked by teams.  Teams are made up of one person who has a personality disorder and another person who is a vegetable.

I like watching My Kitchen Rules because cooking the food often involves spectacular disasters and I quite enjoy Schadenfreude.

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Holy Crap, that’s hard to do.

My Kitchen Rules is not at all about food.  You might think that it’s about food, but it’s not.  It’s about the fetishisation of consumption.  The hint is in the name of the programme: My Kitchen Rules.  On the one hand, we can parse the title with ‘Rules’ as an adjective.  When I say that Ganondorf in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess totally rules, I mean that Ganondorf is awesome and spectacular.  It’s a laudatory comment.

There are two other alternatives.  It could be a noun.  This is a show about the Rules of my kitchen.  This is noteworthy because (as indicated above) the kitchens belong to teams, yet the title refers to a single owner of the kitchen rules.  The dynamics of each team are nearly uniform: one member of the team is clearly the dominant controller, while the other is more subservient.  The result is a series of studies in Nietzschean Master-Slave morality.

Nietzsche thought there were two families of morality: master morality, where the attributes of the strongest in society where considered virtues; and slave morality, where the actions of the strong were to be controlled to the advantage of the weak.

There are three manifestations of this exploration.  The first is where the teams hold fast to master morality: one member of the team dictates to the other what will occur, either through sheer obstinacy or — in the most fascinating relationship of them all — through the infantilisation of the weaker member.  The latter requires some explanation: there is a team of two women who apparently really like desserts or something.  One of them claims to have some sort of experience with the cooking and eating of food.  The other is a moron.  In order for the team to function, the non-moron subjugates the moron by placing her in a position of minimal responsibility.  In these teams, we are witnessing the will to power of the stronger of the two team members.

The second manifestation is where the weaker of the two tries to establish rules of conduct so that the vegetable member feels like they are valued, even if this results in mediocre food-production.  This is pureset slave morality: the weaker partner cripples the vision and drive of the stronger partner by tricking the stronger partner into agreeing with particular rules of conduct.  Sometimes, the rules of conduct are not even explicitly stated (recalling Marx’ comment about ideology in Das Kapital: ‘They don’t know it, but they are doing it’).  For example, there are two blokey blokes where the rules of conduct are hidden behind the affectation of being ‘good blokes’.

The third manifestation explores ressentiment: the will of the weaker partner is not immediately sensible to them, instead it is filtered through the lens of what the weaker partner believes the stronger partner desires.  In turn, the weaker partner comes to blame the stronger partner for the lack of immediacy of their desires.  Thus, there is a strange couple where the guy is basically a doormat to his wife, who has anger management issues and is also coincidentally quite religious.  He subjugates his will — thus distancing himself from his own desires in order to adopt the desires of the stronger partner — in order to feel esteem, but when they do not succeed in something, he reacts to the mannerisms of his wife.  He — in the deep sense of the word — resents that she is a better partner.  In a recent episode, the wife’s anger management issues causes her to pass out in the heat.  When the doormat presents the team’s dish, he apologises to the people judging his food that the wife was unable to be there to enjoy their appreciation for the food.  He no longer sees himself as worthy of estimation, but as the support to his monster of a wife.

The Rules of My Kitchen, in this sense, is to what extent the two people in each team will structure their moral engagement within this Nietzschean framework.  We’ve even seen what happens when the weaker member of the team transgresses the Rules: the stronger partner shames the weaker partner by discussing them in the third person to the camera, while the weaker partner helplessly sits next to them.  ‘I feel like my teammate, who is sitting next to me, is not pulling their weight and I am left to ensure the perfection of this food.  The person sitting next to me is lazy, incompetent, and/or not worthy of me speaking to them directly.’

The other alternative for the interpretation of the name is that ‘Rules’ is a verb.  The point of the competition is for each kitchen to dominate and subjugate the other kitchens.  We see this most clearly in some of the competitions where executive power is bestowed through seemingly random happenchance to one of the teams.  For example, whichever team happened to kill the most marine life by weight was able to dictate the order in which teams would select their key ingredient for the challenge.  The competition confers upon individual teams strange, arbitrary, and non-justiciable capacities for non-physical violence.  The key point of these powers is to introduce an element of humiliation: powers are used to settle petty grudges and punish teams for crimes both real and imagined.  The end result is that some teams are disadvantaged to the extent that they find it difficult to perform optimally in these strange ‘challenges’.  What we see is less a competition about who can cook the best, and more a competition of who can best navigate the complex political web of the other kitchens who are trying to oppress their neighbours.

Whichever way you look at the word ‘Rules’, it is difficult to think that this is a show about determining who is the best cook.  They have turned the preparation of food into a game of political struggle and it’s the result of these struggles which lure viewers — consciously or sub-consciously — to each episode.

At the heart of this battle is the food itself.  The preparation and consumption of the good is not to satisfy any immediate need involving the food itself.  When I’m hungry, for example, I prepare a sandwich or something.  The utility of the food is its relationship to my hunger (or the hunger of people I am feeding).  When these cretins prepare food, it is not to satisfy hunger, but to dominate and oppress the other kitchens.

Most importantly, the enjoyment of the food is not inherent in the food but instead in relation to its capacity to realise the aspirations of the person who created it.  Of all things, food is the most utilitarian of commodities.  Good food is nourishing and it tastes good.  The food consumed in this show doesn’t have to be nourishing or tasty: it just has to cause shame to other contestants.  This is the fetishisation of consumption laid bare.

There is a physical relation between physical things. But it is different with commodities. There, the existence of the things quâ commodities, and the value relation between the products of labour which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men‘s hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. [Source: Marx, K Das Kapital vol 1]

This is why watching television and movies is so much more fun when I’m in the room.

We swam like rats on fire… The hypocrisy of Australian commercial media

Chris Kenny doesn’t like the ABC.

Sorry.  I should have warned you that I was about to reveal that world-shattering news.  No doubt you dropped your afternoon coffee in shock.  ‘How could it be so, Mark?’  I can hear you question from the future.  ‘Since when does the commercial media, particularly The Australian, hate the public broadcaster?’

Alas, ’tis true, ’tis true ’tis pity, and pity ’tis ’tis true.

Amid the bluster and bizarre faux-reasoning, runs a theme that taxes are being wasted on indulging the left.

In their first show, in 2004, hosts Michael Duffy and Paul Comrie-Thomson dared to ask whether, by feeding off the taxes of all and pitching primarily to a progressive few, the ABC was a form of middle-class welfare. Duffy, provocatively asked: “Should our desire to watch Britain’s naked and biting chefs without commercial breaks be subsidised? Or is this unfair on all the workers who have to put up with ad breaks on Channel 9? Is it time to talk about privatising the ABC?” [Kenny, C. ‘Whose ABC?’, The Australian]

Though quoting others, Kenny clearly agrees that it’s middle class welfare (particularly The Drum, though he doesn’t let slip that he also writes for it).

What he doesn’t reveal is that newspaper companies stay afloat by being compensated by Australian taxpayers, mostly through ridiculous spending by the government on job advertisements.  It has been noted, time and time again, that the government’s use of money in this way is wasteful, but it would cripple the industry if they withdrew the funds.

He also fails to reveal that news outlets waste thousands — if not millions — of dollars on frivolous Freedom of Information requests.  The Australian, like other newspapers, have ‘FoI Editors’ whose job it is to lodge dozens upon dozens of FoI claims to government departments in the hope of a scoop.  Though a nominal cost is placed on FoI applications, taxpayers bear the brunt of the costs.

‘In the hope of a scoop’ is the important part there.  Last week, News Ltd. got upset because Senator Conroy started releasing answers to their questions as media releases (thus ‘undermining’ the journalists’ exclusive scoops).  Their questions to government and constant FoI trawling is not in your interest: it’s in theirs.

And don’t they cry when governments try to circumvent them in order to provide us with information?

But let’s get to the meat of his complaint: ABC isn’t needed because there’s no media market-failure in Australia.

I just went through the TV guide for all free-to-air commercial stations, 6pm-10pm.  Apart from reality TV shows, where’s the Australian content?  It’s easier to come across repeats of ’60s American sitcoms on commercial television than it is to come across shows scripted, produced, and performed by Australians.  Commercial stations regularly complain about regulations which mandate Australian content: it’s more expensive (and therefore less profitable) than running U.S. shows.

Australia needs the ABC and SBS to run content which market forces deem unworthy.  Frankly, I don’t think that they go far enough — I hope that, now digital transmission has increased the number of channels, we’ll get a channel for Indigenous content.  If it weren’t for the ABC and SBS, Australian television would be almost entirely overrun by American issues and viewpoints.

I’m in love. I’m in love with a strict machine… and ACMA investigation reports

I love reading reports about investigation into complaints.  The ABC lists upheld complaints here.  You can even find stats.

While it’s probably adding to the idea that I should get a life, I couldn’t help but note that the percentage of upheld complaints in 2009 was a massive increase over previous years.

2003: 4.8%

2004: 2.8%

2005: 4.7%

2006: 2.5%

2007: 2.6%

2008: 2.9%

2009: 13.5%

It seems like the last quarter was a bit of a bastard for the ABC.  I initially thought it was because 20.7% of complaints about violence were upheld… but 73.4% of complaints about anti-opposition bias were upheld.  I’m not going to go on a rant about ABC bias because I love the ABC (I look forward to the day that it demonstrates to everybody that commercial news is yet another example of market failure). Continue reading

New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down… but not as much as the Doctor Who season finale.

io9.com produced a list of Doctor Who plot devices they wouldn’t mind avoided in future.  I’ve just finished watching the season finale and I was all like: Meh.

In the Harry Potter novels, there’s always that bit which lasts about five pages where some Chekhov’s Gun is explained in tedious detail.  Rowling has noted that she developed certain characters whose sole function was to explain piece of magic #45786-B and then fade into the background.

It’s dull and unimaginative story telling.  In the season finale of Doctor Who — SPOILER ALERT — most of the episode is taken up with explanations of what’s going on.  While some of it is clever (how did I miss the lack of references to Amy’s parents in the first episode?  Touche, Moffat), most of it caused me to reach for Angry Birds.

What was even more strange was that the person doing most of the explanations — the Doctor — had admitted earlier that he didn’t have a deep understanding of the Pandorica on account of it being a ‘fairytale’.  As if by magic, he came to realise the finer points of the Pandorica and could even hack its mainframe or something to cause a second Big Bang when flown into an exploding TARDIS.  How he knew the Pandorica could fly, I have no idea.

The high point of the series was definitely a return of the Weeping Angels.  They are absolutely terrifying and they disrupt my sleep for about a week after an episode.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them in future episodes; particularly if the script is careful not to add more powers to the Angels as the plot demands.

The low point continues to be River Song.  Holy frijoles, I hate that character.  The worst part is that we know when she dies (two seasons ago) so she’s effectively immortal.  There are going to be no episodes in which she dies within twenty seconds of the opening credits.  She’s just an irritating, unfunny, uninteresting character.

But when all’s said and done, I’m enjoying this Doctor a lot more than the last.  Matt Smith seems to have the quirky aspect of the Doctor mastered, making it seem a lot more like Classic Who.  Tennant’s angsty Who ran out of steam when Martha left him.  Martha remains the best companion.

Are you dead or are you sleeping? … The TiVo wins again

Behold, dear Canberrans!  We now have 7Two on Prime.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit shit.  I was really expecting more.  I even had a bit of a whine that the start of broadcast was going to be significantly delayed.  Instead, it’s only showing the very worst of Seven’s mediocre line-up.  It feels like the channel of things which got bumped of the analogue station on account of being a little bit too crap.

6pm – Jay Leno Show

6:30 – Mother and Son

7:30 – Heartbeat

8:30 – The Benny Hill Show… and so on and so forth.

In fact, the only place it excels is with the so-bad-it’s-hilarious-stuff.  Today, TiVo decided that I might like to watch Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive.  Holy frijoles, it was bad.  So bad, in fact, that I’m going to watch it regularly.

I don’t think words can actually describe how excruciatingly terrible it was.  It was so terrible that it inspired the feeling that I was doing something thoroughly despicable by watching it.  Like watching a trainwreck.  My eyes could not believe that I was watching something this dreadful.

The acting was thoroughly horrible.  The only thing worse than the horrible acting was the girl who could act (whom IMDB informs me is Beth Allen).  As if playing a cruel joke on the audience, the producers thought that they’d put the girl who could act next to the single worst actor I have ever seen on a television show (whom IMDB informs me is Dwayne Cameron).  Honest to God, it seemed like the gap in acting talent merely amplified the atrocity that was his acting ‘skill’.

Nothing made any sense.  While that’s probably par for course with the Power Rangers franchise, I really don’t understand why the enemies become easier when the odds (theoretically) tilt towards them.  For example, four good guys were taking on an army of mooks.  Two good guys had to leave in order to do something or other.  The two good guys slaughter the mooks en masse.

But the very worst bit was the unintentional misogyny of the show.  It is probably for good reason that I can’t find details on who wrote the episodes.  Over on The Savage Critic(s), there was an analysis of the concerning gender themes appearing in Marvel storylines.  It’s a good read.

The obvious conclusion to draw from DARK REIGN: THE LIST– X-MEN #1 is that at the close of 2009, a woman with an appetite for sex is apparently the very definition of fear and horror for Marvel comic creators and their audience.

I would diagnose such a belief as gynophobia.

This is not a metaphor; this is not sub-text. This is the explicit text of the comic: “We’ve modified her to keep her perpetually in estrus which explains her rotten attitude… but the result is a genetic W.M.D.” This is page one. This is the establishing shot. Here’s a line of dialogue from page 2: “Her gonadotropic hormones make her so hungry she’s been driven insane.”

Later in the comic, the arrival of the giant vagina is heralded as follows: “There’s nothing to her but hunger and rage and… and hate.” [Abhay, The Savage Critic(s)]

The villain line-up on Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive consists of:

  • Flurious, some sort of ice monster.

    Flurious

    Flurious - Some sort of ice monster

  • Moltor, some sort of fire monster

    Moltor - Some sort of fire monster

    Moltor - Some sort of fire monster

  • Kamdor, some sort of evil robot

    Kamdor - Evil robot

    Kamdor - Evil robot

  • Miratrix, a girl

    Miratrix - A girl

    Miratrix - A girl

Yup, the scourge of the universe is a girl.  Beware, ye mostly male superhero crew.  Evil girls will beat you up unless you take out your swords and clobber them.  There is nothing Freudian about this at all.

In other news, tonight on SBS2 (8:30) is The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.  It is a wonderful short film (I didn’t realise it was a part of a series.  Hooray for new knowledge!) which explores the nature of monstrosity.  It is an utterly splendid film and I cannot recommend it enough.

In entirely different news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has launched a new statistical literacy website.  As the acronym for the Bureau is the name of a group of muscles, the ABS are able to do all kinds of funky cool things.  They introduced Creative Commons Licensing for the website content.  In theory, this allows people to do what they were already doing in practice (i.e. use the data).  Okay, it’s not leaps and bounds but it’s certainly a fascinating step into the world of interactivity.  Now it has blogs and online tutorials.  Verily, it’s a brave new world.

A ragged cup, a twisted mop, the face of Jesus in my soup… And what the McFreak is Ten up to?

While I’d like to be able to gloat that I totally called it, it didn’t really take precognition to know that Stargate Universe was not long for our televisions.

Why did they even bother?  I mean, really?  The problem with science fiction is that it’s always going to look like science fiction.  Sometimes, you can get away with it.  This year, Star Trek and Avatar managed to do extremely well despite being science fiction movies.  There was enough crashes, bangs, and solar flares to excite the non scifi crowd, and there was enough dorkiness and white guilt to pull in the scifi crowd.  It was a good match.

But television shows are an entirely different beast.  You only endure a movie for a few hours.  In order to attract an audience back week after week, it needs to appeal to something that inspires loyalty.  For most people, that’s not going to be escapist fantasy.  For some very strange, almost inexplicable reason, people want to watch people like themselves in rather horrid situations.  Soap operas rate best during deaths and weddings.  Murder-of-the-week shows are a dime a dozen.

Science fiction shows routinely fail on Australian television.  Nothing’s lasted in the daylight hours (with the possible exception of Star Wars: The Clone Wars screening at noon on Saturdays).

So why would Channel Ten continue their kamikaze approach to science fiction programming?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

The science fiction audience is a weird beast.  It’s — almost pathologically — loyal to the shows.  If Channel Ten had kicked the show to eleven p.m., it would have rated solidly.  Science fiction fans are usually single, cashed up males 16-35: an advertiser’s dream demographic.  So you have a loyal audience with expendable income that will follow the show anywhere across the spectrum of the broadcasting schedule… and Channel Ten decides to put it in the prime time slot where the advertising is much more generic and where it has to compete with the mainstream.

Putting an expensive show on late night television also messes with the network’s traditional advertising schedule: cheap, cheap pr0n adverts.

Instead of selling the demographic to advertisers, broadcasters tend to consider the group too much effort.  And it’s not hard to blame them: why try to exploit a tiny group when you can throw spare change at a reality television show, or a random countdown of pop culture hosted by Bert Newton?

So farewell, Stargate Universe.  My TiVo has you on season pass just in case you resurface in the wee hours of the night.

Joy to the world! The Lord is… HUNT THE RANGA!!

I find racists a bit weird.

You know when you’re at the beach and you find a bit of something that sort of looks a lot like jelly but isn’t jelly and you wonder if it might be from a jellyfish but you don’t think it could have come from a jellyfish?  That’s how I feel whenever I’m talking to a racist.

Mind! I don’t mean the sort of everyday very common racist who doesn’t mean to be racist but really is when it comes down to it.  I mean the über-racist: the sort who proudly assert that people who aren’t white are somehow, through some fault of their own, inferior people.  I find it difficult to understand whence it comes.  It can’t be fear.  I’m more likely to get ripped off by whitey than any other group — which seems to be reflected when I do the implicit association test.  Or maybe it is fear and I’m just not accounting for people’s ability to be irrationally afraid of things.

But the moment somebody shouts ‘Hunt the ranga!’, I’m the first one there with my pitchfork.

There’s something intrinsically fine about hating on red heads.  Even the Bible does it.  Genesis 25 tells the story of Esau (a ranga) who sells his birthright for a bowl of lentils.  Ho, ho.

It’s funny because he’s got red hair.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Nerd up, my fine friends!

For those of you who are thinking ‘I really haven’t been able to express my nerd pride sufficiently of late’, we’ve had several weeks of the heavens dumping nerdshit upon our doorsteps.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

This has been a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoy it.  It’s the sort of game you can enjoy casually while dying of heat exhaustion on the couch.  Plus, there is a crapload of ice in the game and just looking at all that ice makes me feel better about the world.  Sure, Yahtzee is right when he says that it’s the same as all the other 2D Mario games.  On the other hand, who cares?  Nobody’s expecting gritty Mario.  Nobody’s expecting intricate plot Mario.  Nobody’s expecting anything other than mindless 2D fun.  In other words, you get from this game exactly what you think you’re going to get from this game: a few hours of fun smacking Koopas.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

I much prefer this to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.  Okay, it could be that I have some completely unrelated emotional hangups about PH (the ex really liked the game and there was a trading function, so now my copy of the game is filled with things traded from her copy of the game, so it just induces panic attacks).  Not a big fan of the evil trains that can move more quickly than you and can hunt you down so you can’t avoid them.  That bit really sucks.  I’m also not a huge fan of the complete inability to turn around…  But, hey, you are supposed to be on a train.

I could also do without the scumbag NPCs.  Zelda is just about the only likable character in the game.  Everybody else is a demanding, annoying douche.  ‘Oh, I want wood. Bring me wood! Oh, I won’t work with a character with big antlers! Oh, do a roll into this tree filled with mother freaking bees!’

That last one pissed me off the most.  I thought, ‘You can’t be serious.  Why the crap would I want to roll into a tree full of bees?  Oh, well.  If you insist!’  Lo and behold, the bees freaking attacked me.  Then he laughed about it and demanded a free train ride.  I’m still a bit conficted about that, especially considering his mother didn’t seem to have the slightest idea of where he’s going.  Also, the turd is a liar.  I had to Googlewhack what to do with him because he’s such a rotten liar.

But, other than that, the game is ferociously excellent.

Family Guy: Something Something Something Dark Side

The release date was supposed to be tomorrow, but JB HiFi had them in stock today.  In truth, not as good as Blue Harvest but still an amazing amount of fun.  BH seemed to find humour in what was already in the Star Wars universe – Solo’s ‘few maneuvers’, for example.  SSDS seemed to rely more on recreating The Empire Strikes Back with Family Guy characters and then sprinkling jokes on the top.

Sure, BH did the same thing at times but it didn’t seem to be quite so dependent.  Also, I could do with several magnitudes less Herbert.  So, overall fun but pretty much just for fans of Star Wars and Family Guy.

Stargate Universe

I hate every military character on this show.  Freak me freaking sideways, I could swear they exist just to say asinine things and to disagree with people who can read without moving their lips.  Robert Carlyle is pretty much the only reason worth watching it at the moment (Channel 10, Monday nights.  Soon to be Channel 10, 1am Tuesday morning… TiVo!).

I also hate the trope of ‘Super smart outsider’.  In the original, James Spader had a theory which was not supported by the evidence.  Thus, he was rightly mocked for his unjustified beliefs.

But that’s not good enough for the country that invented Wikipedia.  Experts suck!  What do they know?  They’re just experts!

And so James Spader’s completely unjustified theory miraculously turned out to be correct.  Oooooh, he totally showed the establishment, didn’t he?

In this, the outsider is an out of work, university dropout who just happens to be able to work out maths homework in an alien language.  And I’m all like… ‘Right.  Lame.’

It’s sort of weird when you’ve got a television show which you really enjoy watching but only because you’re hoping that any of the non-Robert Carlyle characters will die horribly.  Unfortunately, they’re not dying rapidly enough at the moment.  But it is really enjoyable to watch.

It’s too late to ‘pologise… and for another sequel

There’s a reason why Angel only lasted five seasons. David Boreanaz — rapidly approaching forty-years fat — was playing a supposedly ageless vampire. Where once he had been able to pretend to be in his mid-twenties (helped by a late-twenties Sarah Michelle Gellar playing a 16-year old), it was rapidly approaching the time he should drop the fantasy and start acting his own age.

Character derailment had also set in. Wesley had gone through as much character development as he possibly could without building a coccoon and emerging as a villainous insect woman. Fred had gone from librarian-hot to some interdimensional blue chick.

And there really wasn’t anywhere for the plot to go.

Red Dwarf ran out of plot somewhere near the very end of the last episode of the second season. I remember it well. Proper Holly was there, as was the real Kochanski. It was all very lovely.

But they tried to squeeze another season out of it… and nearly got away with it.

And so they tried for a fourth… then a fifth… then a sixth. That ended with a giant explosion and we thought it was all over.

There was good stuff in those seasons — Mr Flibble, for example — but, on the whole, everybody agrees that it was pretty weak. One of the creators left and Chris Barrie went off to star in a film with Angelina Jolie.

And then they lurched some more life into it for a seventh season. The Chris Barrie episodes were gold, but — as if to tell fans that they could not be rewarded with a watchable show for nothing — they added a horrible new Kochanski.

But it thundered on, reaching all-new low points with Cat teaching the Blue Midgets to dance. Yeah.

Nine years on and they’ve released another installment. All of the actors look super old because they are all super old. Part of me thinks that this has been the best installment in quite a while, but another part wonders why they’re making new Red Dwarf. Because it’s easy? Because it’s going to make everybody swags of cash? Because we get to hear Sophie Winkleman use that wonderful accent for an hour or two?

That last reason alone is reason enough to make new Red Dwarf.

Okay, so my complaints are largely academic: the show seems tired and it feels like something we’ve already done time and time again. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun. It’s not taking things too seriously.

Aha. I’ve got it. This seems more like a tribute to Red Dwarf than an installment (sort of like Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death). There’s nothing wrong with that — mind! — but it just seems like a bit of a pointless thing to do.