Dr. Who’s 50th Anniversary: The Day of the Doctor trailer is here!

Even though I haven’t been watching many of the newer episodes I’m stoked. On the other hand I’m not sure how I feel about Rose returning. It seems to me that maybe they’re toying with something that would be better left alone. Rose was RTD’s thing and I’m not exactly thrilled with Moffat’s lead. I know a lot of people would disagree with me, this guy being one of them, and that’s fine, too. On the other hand, I do like Matt Smith as the doctor, but I hated Amy Pond. Can’t explain it, just one of those things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Doctor Who lately. I think the reason I actually like the reboot is American TV takes itself too seriously even when the special effects aren’t that special (see: practically any of the prime time dramas on the core networks). Even though Who went CGI, it’s still roughly as hokey as it was in the Tom Baker days. There’s a purely British wink-wink-nudge-nudge that makes you laugh with it rather than at it. And I sure do love the Judoon.

Yeah. Writing this made me realize there really isn’t any excuse… I should catch up on the Matt Smith episodes promptly. I’ll suck it up and push my way through the Amy Pond episodes.

Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode was worth the wait

It seems like we heard Neil Gaiman was going to write a Doctor Who episode two or three years ago. It’s finally here. For someone whose interest in the program petered out after Russell T. Davies and David Tennant left (the show got a little too kid-friendly and goofy for me, but I actually like Matt Smith as the Doctor), that was the best episode in years. Hell, I’d say it’s one of the best hours in TV history.

didn’t Gaiman say he disliked the cybermen?

As for the latest episode of The Office… well, the most positive thing to say is they probably picked the right time to go off the air.

So we shot some more scenes for the movie this weekend. We have around a quarter of the movie filmed and edited. Total budget so far? Less than $250. 
We spare no expense. 

Piers Morgan: "I can’t believe I have Penn Jillette defending my church."

When his staunch libertarianism isn’t getting in the way, Penn Jillette exudes the qualities all skeptics should admire: thoughtful of other people’s beliefs, absolutely reasonable, unimposing, and not in the least bit condescending to non-skeptics. Oh, and keeping a debate from devolving into the usual shouting matches on cable TV doesn’t hurt either. After reading some of the comments, I get the impression that’s what Piers Anthony was hoping for—either a screaming match or a joined attack on his own religion.

While Penn & Teller’s Bullshit was a great show as long as you were already part of the choir they were preaching to (and you took their more libertarian episodes with a grain of salt), Jillette’s public appearances elsewhere are becoming considerably less cringe-inducing to watch. Level-headed debate may do nothing positive for ratings, but it’s what all sides of any argument needs to make an actual point.

I don’t know. I find this video noteworthy simply because I’m so sick of negativity and arrogance in the main stream media. I think we need less people like Bill Maher (who’s far from being an actual skeptic, but seems to claim the title anyway) and Richard Dawkins (too arrogant), and more nice guys like the new and improved Penn, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye.

Video courtesy of the following tweet:

James Rolfe’s tribute to TNT’s Monster Vision

I can’t embed the video here (at least I don’t think I can) so here’s the link.

I’m not particularly persuaded by nostalgia, but hot damn, Joe Bob Briggs is one of my favorite people alive. Perhaps it’s because he’s a fellow southerner who somehow doesn’t seem retarded. Not many people can get away with wearing cowboy boots and bolo ties, certainly not while checking off lists that count the number of breasts and severed heads seen in a movie.

Things that surprised me about Rolfe’s video:

  • There was a Monster Vision before Joe Bob Briggs. I’m sure I knew about this back then, but either way, I didn’t know it now. 
  • Penn & Teller once hosted the show for a month. 
  • Monster Vision ran longer than I suspected it did. It wasn’t cancelled until 2000.
Here’s the link to Joe Bob’s official website.

The Hitchhiker (HBO Series) just popped into my head

My brain pranked me today. I’m nearly thirty years old and I haven’t thought about The Hitchhiker (an anthology series on HBO) since it aired in the mid-eighties (I was born in ’83). Not once.

Today it just popped into my head without warning. This is how it happened: “Dunt, dunt, dunt, chhh. Dunt, dunt, dunt, chhh… what is that tune? I’ve heard that before… I seem to remember a hitchhiker talking to the camera… walking down the road… and… oh my god how did I forget about The fucking Hitchhiker?!

I looked it up and the oldest I could have been during its original run was four. I might have seen it later when it was syndicated or something, but I don’t know for sure. Perhaps a television show of all things is my earliest memory.

Memory is a funny thing. I barely remember what I did yesterday, but I remembered that.

(Ray Bradbury claimed to remember his own birth, in particular the pressure he felt around his head. Jay Leno once claimed the same thing on national television. Modern science, on the other hand, claims they’re delusional. Given what little I know about the subject, I’d say yes, they probably are confusing imagination with memory. I personally don’t believe any man who actually remembers childbirth could bring themselves to have sex with a woman like those two men presumably did.)

LOST: The Final Season

I’m getting antsy. The second to last episode of Doctor Who to premier in America on the BBCA was so terrible, I haven’t even gotten around to the second part I TiVoed, which showed last Saturday. I like the weeping angels and I even like the doctor’s future wife (the first time he met her was a few seasons ago… see, the doctor first met her at the end of her life and she met him closer to the end of his life… such things are possible when you have a time machine). I just feel the show has lost some of its bite. And I think this article may shed some light as to why.

Those nutters.

LOST, too, has lost a bit of its allure. This Sunday, the last episode ever premieres. And though I initially loved this season—they led us into an alternate universe without over-explaining it like most made-for-TV programs would’ve—I have to say what drew me to the show is it’s questions, not its answers. The answers, you ask me, almost ruin it. Almost.

If you’re hoarding episodes of LOST, there are spoilers ahead. 

It was okay, in previous seasons, to answer something every once and a while. Consider the way they suggested (but didn’t tell) how and why the polar bears got to the island in the episode when Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were taken hostage by the others. I was fine with all that. But now nothing is so casually suggested. Now everything is flat out explained, usually by Locke or a ghost, or in an incoherent flashback, and I say to myself, “Okay, that was certainly anti-climactic.” I don’t hate the final season, I just think it can’t hold a candle to any of the seasons which came before it.

Season 5’s cliffhanger was brilliant. So was season 6’s opener: we all knew you couldn’t have LOST without an island, but the show opens and… we’re on the plane again. What? The plan worked? The plan worked! Not only that, the island is underwater! Holy shit! WTF! How cool is that! And then, with no explanation… we see Jack wake up on the island. And no, that other universe was no dream. It was… it was… honestly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen on TV. It was the best mind-fuck LOST had pulled yet.

Then the answers came trudging along. Every great once and a while, they toss me a bone, but it just isn’t enough to sustain my appetite. I realize I would have liked the show better if it had been canceled after Season 5. Better yet: after the new universe was revealed. I like things that get me involved. LOST‘s sixth season is considerably less hands-on.

Yet I can’t stop watching, damn it.

Space Warfare: The Inevitable Frontier

You want to knock out a satellite? Just get a projectile of some kind and aim it at your target. All it takes is a nudge. Bad news for the militaries of the world, as many of them rely extensively on the intelligence gathered from satellites, other than the military that has the resources to pull it off.

And what happens when a nuclear warhead is detonated in the vacuum of space? There is no mushroom cloud—no atmosphere and no gravity means the explosion expands equally in every direction and covers a much larger area with radiation than the same explosion would in a conventional environment. My source also states that a nuke of “average” size (whatever that is) would cripple or destroy every satellite for a fifty mile radius. That’s nothing compared to what a space-exploded nuke does to the surface of the earth: an electromagnetic wave will power down electronics for miles.

All this and more was discussed in an episode of The Universe on The History Channel.

Other topics covered:

What will dogfights look like in space? Answer: nothing like they look like on earth, which means that space operas like Star Wars have it all wrong. Unless your fighter ship is a shuttle that enters and exits planetary atmospheres, why would it even need wings? One expert suggests the perfect shape for space fighter would be a cube capable of switching its focus within a three-hundred and sixty degree field at the drop of a hat. Evasive maneuvers wouldn’t be long and sweeping; they’d be sudden and jerky.

And when will we get laser pistols? Certainly not any time in our lifetimes.

Further reading:
Space Warfare: High Tech War of the Future Generation

Also see:

Freespace 2
A space combat simulator that has been kept alive and continually updated thanks to modders. After getting the original copy for a measly $6, search for information regarding “Freespace 2 Open.” Very fun, even several years after it’s initial release.