Imagine if you will, that in July of 1969, instead of the Eagle landing on the moon, the Russians have landed first, thus changing history forever and allowing the space race to continue and escalate.
A "what if" of history is reimagined in the Apple TV Plus show, "For All Mankind." The very idea is an interesting and fascinating take on the early space program during the 60s an 70s. Filled with actual historical figures and fictional ones, it goes through the early days of the space program but due to the divergence, different challenges and new initiatives are implemented, creating a nbew timeline where many things that were supposed to happen don't and things that could happen, do.
Growing up, one of my all time favorite films was "The Right Stuff", a biopic of the Mercury 7 and the early days of the space program. They were first group of men selected through a series of specific qualifications, haphazard training exercises and grueling flight tests to go into space while the Russians were attempting to do the same. Even in seventh grade, I did a small project on the famed "Space Race" starting with the launch Russian satellite Sputnik 1 to the first lunar landing of Apollo 11. At such an early age, I loved the story and the history of such an amazing series of events.
Many years later, I finally got around to binging all of "From The Earth To The Moon", an amazing show about the Gemini and Apollo space programs and the behind the scenes of not only the astronauts themselves, but all those who were a part of making it possible to get to the moon. The first lunar landing is of course successful, and exploration of the moon continues up until the very last trip to the moon; Apollo 17.
"For All Mankind" seemed like the next show to watch. A dash of history and some sprinkles of science fiction, it's a very in depth and well thought out concept. While I was happy to see a handful of people I knew from books and movies, it also replaced others with fictional ones who I couldn't help but root for. The show focuses on several different characters and history manages to take some unlikely twists and turns. The first season manages to capture a journey of determination and hard work, and even fast forwarding some initiatives due to the space race never ending (including women being able to be a part of the program years before they were allowed in our timeline and diverging political events with very different presidents). It was interesting to see how such events would cause a ripple effect and jarring shifts. With new stories, narratives and people, it was a great take on where it could all possibly head. However, despite this unique take, the second season is not nearly as strong as the first.
Much like a recent popular fantasy show that had huge effect on popular culture but now no one really wants to talk about, having a show that's based off a book or in this case, historical events, things can get kind of muddy. Much like the aforementioned show, creating new events and stories can be hit or miss without having the anchor. While there was a nice blend of the two actual and fictional events in "For All Mankind" in the first season, the second season quickly jumps from 60s and 70s to the 80s, giving us a new alternate history where technology and exploration have taken huge leaps forward. While I appreciated some new ideas and stories introduced, there were a few that felt incredibly lazy from a storytelling perspective and others that were just going for shock value, with very little concern for repercussions. There were plenty of different tropes that were used (which is to be expected) but not used effectively nor creatively. Specifically, a small storyline crops up out of nowhere and it almost made me stop watching the show. Characters were making very poor choices that given their qualities, it made very little sense. However, while there were a few missteps, the season finale stuck the landing which convinced me to continue watching. A far cry from the rest of the season, it managed to hook me back in.
I will continue to watch and come June 10th, I will pick up where we all left off and see where it'll all go. It seems another time jump is to be expected so my hope it will address another series of diverged "what if" historical events.
Hands down, Donna Noble was by far the best companion in the new "Doctor Who" series. Having a Who companion of this caliber and strength was a breath of fresh air. She was tough, caring, smart, resourceful, fierce, loyal and the best person the Doctor needed after his most recent adventures. Catherine Tate's performance was filled with powerful emotion and humor that brought the show to new heights.
"The Runaway Bride"
Donna Noble materialized randomly (but not really) in the TARDIS and into our lives, and immediately showed all of us that she would not be someone that we would ever forget. The first adventure with these was incredibly fun, bizarre and ultimately tragic. However, her arrival was necessary and revealed that even though the Doctor was in an extremely dark place, she was the one who told him to stop when it mattered the most. She became an anchor to his unchecked rage. Despite the life-changing event, Donna refused to go with the Doctor this time but her introduction was by far one of the best in the whole series.
"Partners In Crime"
Donna returned and through a series of ridiculous and unlikely events, was reunited with the Doctor. Despite all odds, they found each other in one of the funniest moments in the episode. The timing and snappy reactions was a perfect bit of much-needed levity. Time and space could not keep them apart and together again, they defeated the alien threat. Her intelligence and determination were some of her most important attributes, yet again helping the Doctor when he needed it the most. She got things done and showed incredible resourcefulness. She was independent and was someone you couldn't push around.
Can we just take a minute and continue praising Michelle Gomez for her astounding work on "Doctor Who" as of late?
When she was first introduced, her puckish and maniacal behavior was incredible to watch and at the time, many of us didn't know who she was and what her relationship with the Doctor was. It was maddening!
But, with all great reveals, we found out in Peter Capaldi's 12th Doctor's episode, "Dark Water", that she was in fact, The Master, one of the Doctor's greatest foes. She had dubbed her self "The Mistress" and appropriately, "Missy" for short. Her performance and interpretation of the iconic villain was a delight.
This was HUGE. It was setting a new tone for the show, not because of some agenda, but it had got a really fantastic actress in a role that had been always played by men and she NAILED it. She made it her own, like so many before her. Diabolical and maniacal, Gomez showed that she had the chops for such a fun and complex character. This of course, had been hinted at a few seasons back. Let's take a look back to Matt Smith's 11th Doctor in "The Doctor's Wife".
"The Flash" Raises The Bar Again
I just realized that my love for "The Flash" is simply mirroring my distaste for "Arrow".
"The Flash" has definitely become my favorite out of the two, for so many reasons and the second to last episode of this season definitely reinforces this. There have been a few missteps, but overall, this season has been very, very good.
The thing about this show is that it does what "Arrow" can't as of late: make the audience care about the characters. Also, Barry Allen has a support network that cares for him and watches his back. I remember a time "Arrow" had this but their characters slowly became more and more ridiculous. The team at Star Labs (specifically Cisco and Harry) have grown and have become better, smarter and more fun. Back in season 1, I didn't really care much for Iris but this season, she has grown into a much interesting character and I would love to see her and Barry finally get together. It works. Kudos to the writing staff for developing everyone incredibly well.
Another part worth mentioning is how incredibly FUN the show is. There are dark moments but it's only complimented by how lighthearted some parts are. Barry runs, saves the day and we applaud his optimism and his heroism. He gets a win and it's wonderful. We cheer and we laugh. On the flip side, that's not to say the moments overcast by shadow aren't good but are gut-wrenching and emotionally powerful. When Barry flies high and smiles, the tragic moments are not far behind and when they come, it hits HARD. It's fantastic.
However, the second season had a few questionable moments, choices and episodes, as well as the casting of some characters (Wally and Jay), as well as stretching out stories instead of making things more streamlined and compact. The show could easily be shortened to 13 episodes rather than then the robust 23. After a while, it feels exhausting. However, after a bit of a drag, it gets right back into it and continues on raise the bar yet again.
While it can NEVER be like "Arrow" it's still worth pointing out that "The Flash" can't have lightning strike twice. It can however, manage to amaze and dazzle us in the majority of their storytelling. It works hard to not only please the comic book fans but people who enjoy good TV.
I look forward to the season finale with anticipation and await the next season eagerly.
"Arrow" Has Lost Its Mind
I'm at the point where I can no longer stand by and be quiet about how atrocious the TV show, "Arrow" has become. The sad part is? I LOVED the first two seasons. God, WHAT HAPPENED?
Actually. I know what happened.
Everyone gave up.
Well, not EVERYONE, but it sure feels like the writers, some of the actors, the producers and even the network have refused to make this show great again. Everyone is going through the motions.
When the show first came out, I was skeptical, but soon I found that I enjoyed it. By all accounts, being a CW show and full of beautifully sculpted people, I shouldn't have cared but I was ENTHRALLED and it was all surprisingly compelling. Good acting and writing made this DC adaptation something special. At least for the first two seasons, everything was crafted beautifully.
But now, the cracks are REALLY starting to show. It started in Season 3 when they introduced Ras (Raish or RAZ or Raygon or however it's pronounced in every other episode) and the whole "Batman with a bow and arrow" was now in full swing and they weren't even trying to make Ollie different. The long 20 something episode season was REALLY starting to drag. The introduction of the far superior show, "The Flash" certainly didn't help either.
All these factors and probably a dozen different reasons have been contributed to Arrow's downward spiral. And also "Daredevil" doing the whole "tortured hero" and amazing action sequences better. Probably. Most likely.
Now in Season 4, probably the worst season ever, it's tragic. Not in a compelling story-telling way but tragic like, why are they even doing this show anymore. Since the introduction of the main baddie, Damien Daaahrk (played by Neal McDonough who had previous played an unhinged baddie on "Justified" WAY better) it's become almost a farce. It's like how can this show get worse, but then it gets worse. The acting. The writing. The overall production value. Everything that made the show great initially have become its weakest aspects. There are episodes that I now and I think to myself, "this show has lost its mind." Minute by minute, the plot lines, arcs and characters are becoming ridiculous and bad decisions are being made ALL THE TIME.
Maybe I'm being too hard on the show. Maybe, as I mentioned before, I've grown closer to "The Flash" and realized that yes, "Daredevil" has started doing things better. Like the fight sequences. More brutality and grit and less stupidity and kinetic silliness.
Or maybe it is just that bad. Why am I still watching it? Oh right. In case the Flash shows up. Or whatever.
At least it's not "Gotham" and hey, the CW is getting "Supergirl".
Last weekend, we tabled again at North East Comic Con. I was again, very nervous to see how it would all go, but then it ended up being a success in the end.
The morning of each day was a little slow, but soon it picked up and a lot of people were stopping by to buy things (mostly because this time I brought around the Disco Fett helmet!) Plus, having some variety, ie magnets and stickers certainly helped as well. Also, I feel that we are so close to Christmas helped a bit. People were coming to the con to look for not only something for themselves, but also something for a loved one. The fact that our items were on the small side certainly made it easier for people to consider them as stocking stuffers! Saturday proved to be a strong day, but then Sunday, I figured I make our table a bit more interesting...
Gearing Up For Northeast Comic Con
Northeast Comic Con is coming up this weekend and I have to admit, I am more excited than nervous. The last few times I went, I had a blast. I went as a cosplayer and then one year, I decided to go as an exhibitor. It's a great con with a lot of things happening.
Trying to sell stuff with my designs proved to be challenging, given that it was my first con and while I didn't sell anything then, I'm optimistic that it could be different this time around. It was the Spring last time and this time, with the holidays coming up, I might manage to actually make some sales.
A Geek-Filled Weekend! (Part 2)
And the weekend continued on...
This time, Rhode Island Comic Con was on the docket. My buddy Colin and I reprised our Thorio and Luiki cosplays, a mash up cosplay of the Mario Brothers Mario and Luigi and Thor and Loki . I had made a few modifications including shortening and painting my hammer, as well as introducing the Tesseract/Question Box mash up, the "Quesseract". As always, I am super grateful that all of it happened in the first place.
We were primed and ready for another fun day. We also met up with some friends from out of town as well, which was an added bonus. However, despite the fun and company, the experience at RICC was a bit different than the last few I've been to.
A Geek-Filled Weekend! (Part 1)
What a weekend!
The last several days have been nuts and I am sad it's all over, exhausted from the craziness and above all drained from the festivities that I was a part of.
First things first, a while back I was contacted by someone at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut to be a part of a Star Wars themed event, a Disco and Dessert after party after they had seen my Disco Fett. Needless to say, it was kind of surreal and kind of awesome that someone wanted me to be a part of it!
So, we headed to the museum to an author event beforehand, where a couple of the Extended Universe Star Wars authors giving a talk. Granted, I don't know much about the EU but it was one of those events as someone who loves Star Wars and writing, it was a great chance to hear from these writers about their experiences. It was overwhelming positive and inspiring in many ways, given that I struggle as a writer myself and seeing these men given encouraging words about it all was extremely uplifting. I had to say, I was very pleased with the talk, the questions and overall vibe of the event.
The panel was of course, a nice bonus, but I was definitely more concerned about the party after, given that I didn't know what to expect. I mean...I didn't expect much as far what I needed to do, other than to shmooze and hang out with everyone and possibly take pictures. I didn't realize I would be getting into something SO much bigger. As someone who usually goes to cons in costumes, this was something else entirely...But...It ended up being pretty great.
Yup. I got a throne. My contact, Joey, got me a throne and I got to sit and chill as people started showing up. With lights and pounding disco music, this was a very different animal. I mean, it wasn't necessarily a HUGE event or anything, but you could tell that the people at the Mark Twain House put in a really in a fantastic effort to make this something special. There were desserts, music and an open bar, but as the people filtered in, no one was really coming to dance. I mean, getting the party started is always a challenge and to make the first move was key. So...I was in costume. With my helmet. I couldn't let this stand.
The Ending of Time - A Series
As I gear up for Northeast Comic Con again this Winter,the biggest question is what will I have to sell this time around? Last time didn't fare so well, given that I only had a selection of prints for my designs. However, I plan to have more variety, ie possibly stickers AND magnets. HEY-O. Watch out. I'm going NUTS!
Given a chance to really look at what I wanted to show off this time, I thought back to the beginning when I came up with my "Ending of Time" Photoshop Composite series. This was a fun on-going set of photo manipulations I did based on the sci-fi series, "Doctor Who". Inspired by the double-exposure photos I've seen as well as some manipulations I've seen here and there, I wanted to create some edits based on the Time Lord's mode of transport and where it would end up (ie places that it could show up either in mention or perhaps on the show itself.)
"The Ending of Time" was a title I came up with, imaging that maybe at the journey's end, we would find the TARDIS somewhere else, perhaps in a darker place and at the ends of time itself. What would that look like? I started with a simple combination of dark backgrounds, threatening elements and merging of random ideas.
Sterling arts & Design
Creating, getting inspired and reflections.