Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Curse of Oak Island S05E01


Peril strikes during a daring dive as brothers Rick and Marty Lagina double down on their efforts to locate the original Money Pit.

What I thought

We’re back! After what seems like months (it has been actually) we’re back after another winter of discontent in Nova Scotia with an episode packed full and bursting to the seams with ... minutes. Yes, it’s a whole hour and 19 minutes of juicy recaps, tens of different camera angles to show you the same thing and our resident treasure searchers constantly turning their heads to look at something. But wait – what’s this – there’s a new narrator! What on money pit earth? Blimey. What did they do to the last guy? Anyhow, at least the new chap isn’t that annoying but has a heavily American/Canadian accent this time, when I’m sure previous years they gave us a British voice? I dunno, my memory is rubbish and it’s hard to recall the previous season, let along them actually finding much last year. Oh wait ...

Rick is driving back to Oak Island with Jim as his wingman who informs him that the Island is a disaster. I could have told him that. Anyhow, it’s even worse now because there’s been successive storms that have destroyed roads and levelled trees. It sounds grim. It’s certainly not as the messenger of doom described but it’s not good either. The road on the south coast joining one part to the area of the money pit is gone. Quicker than you can drill another hole in the pit itself, the storms have turned a road into a beach, and not one you’d build sandcastles on. It’s literally a road to nowhere in many respects. It’s time to call in Billy with his heavy machinery as he has less than a week to get that road back before more heavy drilling dudes turn up to work on the Money Pit again. Get to it Billy!

Within ten minutes of the episode we’re back in the War Room. It’s like we’re all together again for Christmas or something. That room just needs a nice log fire. There’s more turning of heads than chatter in this meeting as they call up Marty on the Skype to update him on what we already know about the road. Apparently, also, the plan this year is to not do anymore drilling holes big enough to chuck a diver down, but smaller holes – lots of them – like, 40 of them. If it’s not safe beneath their feet, it certainly won’t be after those holes go down. With these 40 holes they hope to locate the original money pit – unless they are completely the wrong place, that is. Anyways, there’s even worse news to come as we learn of the deeply sad news of the sudden death of Craig Tester’s son. Much like the death of Mr Nolan last season, this is a pretty upsetting few minutes to witness. I feel for everyone involved, especially the Tester family. This did get me thinking though that we’re told every episode that the legend of 7 people dying before the Island reveals its secret and we’ve lost 6 already but yet we lost Mr Nolan and no one said that was number 7. It’s of course not the time to bring that up on the show but it does make you wonder if the deaths for this legend to be true must actually be when actively in action searching for treasure. Certainly, sadly, lots of people, more than 6 have perished in relation to Oak Island over the years. Hopefully, not many more.

Also within the War Room, the gang decide to use the storms destruction to their advantage and have one big bonfire. No, they don’t think that, but instead call upon The Metal Mickey Metal Master himself, Gary Drayton. If the surface has been disturbed, then so might Gary ... by gold. We then find Gary and a wingman at Isaac’s Point on the far bottom right of the island in woodland, which is an odd place to go looking when the waves would have disturbed the outer regions, not in the woods. Sure, trees have come down, but Gary isn’t anywhere near them to start of with. He wants to metal detect where no one has before, which also isn’t what the gang suggested. Anyhow ...

Back in the Money Pit and we’re at C1 where they’ve called in Camera Guy Jeff who has a 360 degree camera. Well, it’s a camera that can turn 360 degrees. Down they go into C1 looking for inspiration, a clue, hope, a sixth season and a shiny gold object that we’d seen before. It’s crystal clear down C1 after 9 months of nothing happening down there. It’s a joy to actually see something, even if it’s just rock. I hope they stay away from the bottom and all that silt. Oh crap, they want to look at the bottom. Thankfully they can zoom in from a distance. What’s that? Close up of their faces and close ups of an object which they are convinced is manmade but from my untrained eyes could be a small piece of seaweed.

Back at Isaac Point and Gary and his wingman find an old 1900s Axe head just under the ground before eventually picking up what they think may be a coin ... or not. We’re not actually any clearer on this metallic object even by the end of the episode as it’s never mentioned again.

Two days later and the gang are going through spoils from GAL1 which were dredged up mechanically last year. Emotionally we’re joined by Craig and Jack, as well as Marty and Alex. Within these spoils later in day, Gary, and some of the boys locate a metal spike. Now this is a decent size and later referred to as a rose head nail, possibly from 1700s when the almighty expedition on the Money Pit last happened. It’s not overly exciting, but it’s significant in their hopes to find out where the heck the Money Pit was before the site was nuked by the last team to actually do any work there back in the 1970s. One nail though and they call it a day.

In the War Room and we have a right old party with diver Mike Huntley, Jeff the camera guy and Frank a video expert in the room with some of the main Oak Island gang. They use Frank’s technology to enhance the video from the earlier camera in C1 and the older video of that shiny gold object. I’m not impressed with the enhancement which leaves things still highly ambiguous to me. Let’s face it, the team were going back down C1 regardless of this video enhancement.

Sure enough, it’s time to dive into C1 once again. Down goes Mike Huntley on his chair now that South Road is restored to get all the kit to the Money Pit area: paramedics and a decompression chamber. It doesn’t take long until poor Mike can’t see Jack down there. Which is probably because he’s up top. No, I jest, not that Jack but nonetheless it soon becomes impossible to see anything once Mike is in the “cave”. Using inspiration, Mike decides to get out of chair and go on foot; everyone seems to agree. Because, that’s not going to make the silt worse, right?? Hmmmm. Mike starts chiselling away at some metal he says is in the wall. Seemed like a waste of time to me, when he only had less than half hour to get down there and then get the hell back up. Sure enough, he gets no where and ends up scooping up lots of sediment into a bag. He’s out of time though and so once on ground has to go into decompression chamber for 71 minutes. Yikes. After he’s confirmed to be ok, they look through the bag contents which contain ... drum roll ... muck. Yup, can’t see anything but dirty earth stuff. They also find nothing with a metal detector but will wash the contents up and have another look later.

After a trip to 90 year old Dan Blankenship’s house to chat about Money Pit plans and show off that nail, it’s into the War Room for the last time this episode. Marty says they’ve had a “Great Start”, which makes me think he should be a politician because his positive spin on things is amazing. It’s not been that fantastic in my opinion but after taking time out to look back on Drake Tester’s time on the island, we’re left with a solemn end to the opener. It’s tough to see everyone so cut up over the sad loss of Drake.

The ‘Coming Soon’ bit at the end promises a HECK OF A LOT! We see a massive stone lifted up, a cave, a sign of the Knights of the Templar, a key and a box being opened! Will it be as exciting and significant as it promises or another season of treading water? 

Rating 6/10 - A decent feature-length opener that once again promises the world.

Metal object or seaweed?

It's a coin!

Technology makes the video look ... slightly better.

Poor Mike stuck in decompression chamber after spending time bring up a bag of muck.

A 1700s nail?

Sad news about Drake. Oak Island goes on in his memory.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Star Wars Rebels S04E09 "Rebel Assault"


Hera leads a courageous attack against Grand Admiral Thrawn's forces, but when things go awry, her battle to win must become a daring escape if she is to survive.

What I thought

After a season of two episodes back-to-back every week, we get to the mid-season break and ... it's just one episode. This is a hard pill to swallow after we had been spoiled with 40 minutes-ish of Star Wars each week recently. I feel that didn't help with my enjoyment of this episode as we were thrown straight into a Rebel Assault on Lothal. Well, on one compound on Lothal. What also didn't help was that it looked like such a whack assault. A few X-Wings and Y-Wings attacking an almighty mass of Imperial ships around the planet. This feels like such a badly thought out plan. What the heck were they thinking this would gain? Sure, they had one target of destroying the TIE-fighter construction yard to stop more TIE Defenders being built, but really? This had disaster written all over it from the word go.

Sure, enough, the attack fleet is destroyed in almost record time, and Hera, who was leading the attack, is shot down, crash landing somewhere in Lothal. She's ok, of course, and so is Chopper (phew!), as well as another Rebel pilot who she finds nearby. As the forces of the Empire surround the fallen ships searching for survivors, Hera, Chopper and the other pilot try to escape via the sewers. Yup, the one classic plot tactic and only place the Empire have not bothered to seal off. Trouble is, it proves increasingly more difficult, as Rukh intercepts Hera and Co. As she and Rukh have a good fist fight, she sacrifices herself to let the pilot and Chopper get away. Hera is now a prisoner of Thrawn! Woohoo. This is going to be interesting ...

The other part of the assault plan, which did mostly work, was to take down the gun turrets, which Zeb, Ezra, Sabine and Kanan deal with. This is rather straight forward as they use explosives to deal with this issue, yet they soon see that things are going badly for the Rebel attack. Kanan initially goes off on his own to try to help the fallen Hera, but a Lothal-wolf ultimately stops him, has a sort of spiritual force moment with him, convincing Kanan that he shouldn't even try to help Hera, which he strangely very quickly accepts.

So, that's about it this episode. It was fast-paced and naturally quite action-filled, but knowing we only had 20 minutes or so of action, and that it just looked like a foolhardy plan, really filled me with negative feelings. There was a lot to like, what with Thrawn looking menacing again, Rukh kicking ass, the Empire looking seriously mighty, and the mysterious Lothal-Wolf interaction. With Hera captured, I hope for some seriously entertaining moment between her and Thrawn when this show returns after the break. Even so, I was slightly disappointed, but it was a decent episode.

Rating = 6/10 - A foolhardy plan and the decision to just show one episode after weeks of two, didn't help me get too high a feel for this episode.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Star Wars Rebels S04E07 "Kindred" and S04E08 "Crawler Commanders"


The rebels look to move a stolen Imperial hyperdrive and flight data recorder off Lothal, while the mystery of the loth-wolves deepens. Desperate to contact Rebel command, the Ghost crew pirates a mining vehicle with long range communications gear, but the Empire arrives to spoil their plans.

What I thought

The series of double-billing episodes continues this week with probably the first two-parters that really would have worked as standalone episodes. There's certainly no 'planet of the week' sort of stuff this season with Rebels as episode 7 starts not long after last week's finished with the Rebels looking for the hyperdrive they stashed. Sure, everywhere looks similar to me on Lothal but they ARE STOOD RIGHT NEXT TO THE ROCK they hid it behind last week. We all know it's there! lol. It takes a Lothal cat to show them where it is, although quite why Ezra says he's not sure where they stashed it "because it was dark" I don't know. It wasn't dark! Anyhow, the Empire is just up the road, where Governor Pryce is recovering what's left of the TIE Defender Elite craft. Thrawn is on hand to give her the news that he's dispatching his agent to help find the hyperdrive; enter Rukh! Why he uses him in this episode and not at anytime before is head scratching as these two are supposed to be a duo from what I know of Thrawn in the books. Anyhow, this episode is a great debut from Rukh with his nifty ape like running, awesome fighting skills and unique voice. I'm very much reminded of Darth Maul's debut with Rukh; the "my apprentice is on his way", the revealing, the flirting attack on Rebels, and a speeder bike, which is what Maul arrived on in A Phantom Menace. Throughly enjoyed seeing Rukh and feel he could truly be a real thorn in the Rebel's side. 

Most of episode one though is about Kanan/Ezra and the Lothal Wolves, which help lead them to safety through caves in a rather cryptic but magical series of scenes. The cave paintings, the growling of the two 'bodyguard' wolves has you wondering if they are friend or foe. Then there's the connection with Kanan and Ezra, the revelation that Kanan suspects more going on Lothal regarding the Empire and their journey across the entire planet by way of some force/Narnia/teleport!

In the second episode, the Lothal gang intercept and takeover a MASSIVE mining craft that's literally destroying the land in order to take resources from it. This land vehicle (although it might fly?) is spectacular in every way, from the outside due to it's vast size, right into the rooms inside which are rustic, cold, dark, steam-filled and as dirty as you'd expect in such a heavy-duty mining vehicle. There's a bit of further head scratching by me in this episode as to why they sent Sabine to take out a couple sentry droids, then seized the bridge and then didn't bother to take out any of the other mining guards etc until they had to later on? The captain on the mining vessel was funny although how they kept allowing him to shout out for so long i don't know! Zeb's battle with the mining guard with that electric whip was awesome although quite how Kanan came around so quickly from being taken down by the whip ...? Well, it's cartoon huh? Further comedy provided by the returning Cikatro Vizago in this episode really helped make it super enjoyable for me.

You can't help but feel now like this season is really building up to something big, much like last season. Sadly, the rug is about to be pulled from beneath our feet again, as there's only one more episode before a long mid-season gap :( That so destroys the tension!

Rating: 8/10 - Fantastic debut by Rukh, cryptic magical stuff with Lothal Wolves and a visual splendour with the mining craft makes this a highly enjoyable double-bill.

What I liked

  • Great visual debut for Rukh
  • A welcome back from the comical and lovable Cikatro Vizago.
  • Intrigue and mystery with the Lothal Wolves and what else the Empire is up to there.
  • Fantastic scenes on the Mining Vessel.
  • Kanan/Hera kiss and reaction by the gang.

What I didn't like

  • Not a lot to dislike, aside from more needing more Thrawn/Rukh in second episode, although this wasn't a classic two-parter anyway.
  • The whole debating will they/won't they with Hera at Rebel HQ seemed a waste of time as we all sort of knew how that would go down.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Star Wars Rebels S04E05 "The Occupation" & S04E06 "Flight of the Defender"


Ezra and the Ghost crew are called back to Lothal when a new Imperial threat rises. The rebels look to secure intel on a deadly new Imperial fighter prototype.

What I thought

After dropping multiple hints every week, Ezra finally gets to go back to Lothal with the gang, after Mom Mothma gives them approval to find out about a new upgraded TIE-defender. In season one I was glad when they left Lothal, and here we are back there, albeit for one double-parter. It was much as I expected; cutey/nasty Lothal cats, creeping about, and some random zany Ezra like stuff to appease the younger audience. It was very acceptable entertainment although felt very much like it was all planned out rather than flowing smoothly.

In the first episode the gang arrive on Lothal in some ridiculous disguises. Ezra and Sabine head to a bar which was anti-Empire but is so pro-Empire now you'd think you was on the Death Star. A pilot as a bar host? Imperial march music playing? And ... hardly anyone in there? Outside someone was being done for breaking curfew but inside the bar no one questions this fact. A local helps Ezra and Sabine out of a tight squeeze but this only leads to the obvious as the whole gang soon are being pursued by the Empire and head down the sewers. Zeb isn't happy but these have to be the cleanest sewers in the world as there's absolutely no material of any substance down there. There's a typical cartoon dilemma as the gang seem pinned down by a handful of Stormtroopers one minute but got rid of at least 3 imperial droids not long before. Anyhow, Lothal giant, Ryder is on hand to help the gang out of a sticky situation right near the end of part one, much like Saw did at end of previous two-parter. Hey, it's a good "cliffhanger" situation right?

In part two, it's all about the Defender, as Ezra, Sabine, Zeb and Ryder (plus Lothal Cats) head to the TIE compound where the new Defender is just landing. Sabine heads in to steal the flight recorder, which is a new tactic because last time they decided to steal the schematics. Anyhow, whilst she's inside pulling wires out, none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn, Governor Pryce and two Death Troopers arrive to inspect the Defender. Great timing! Ezra runs a distraction by basically causing a hell of a mess, before ending up in the Defender with Sabine as that's their best route of escape. Watching that thing blow everything up was awesome, as was how cool Thrawn was as he never flinched from being shot at!!!! Amazing. Thrawn wants to use the opportunity to see the Defender in action, learning that it's likely to be Ezra flying. Wonder what use he'll make of that?

After crashing the Defender, due to a kill switch being used by the Empire, they smuggle the hyperdrive and flight recorder from the wreckage, and get an odd ride back to Ryder's camp by a direwolf. Ok, it's actually a Lothal Wolf but it could be a direwolf as it's massive. What are we to make of this? Is it anything other than Ezra's connection to the force and animals?

Rating: 6/10 – The return to Lothal was thankfully a short-stay one, but had some memorable moments along the way.

What I liked
  • Great to see Rex and Kallus get some better screentime although it was brief.
  • How cool is Thrawn in this episode? Not at all concerned about being shot down. Then there's his calculating analysis of the Defender.
  • The occupation of Lothal was grim and dark.
  • The Lothal cats were super cute and funny this week, especially with those two stormtrooopers.
What I didn’t like
  • Didn't Ezra say he was going to stay on Lothal this week?
  • Death Troopers were once again different to the Rogue One version but certainly less rubbish than in the previous episode. However, they didn't really do much but bark orders in these episodes.
  • Very "staged" in first episode down the imperial bar with the imperial march music playing and a former pilot now running a bar?
  • Some good interaction with Kallus and Rex but we hardly got to see them.
  • Umm, where's AP-5?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Star Wars Rebels S04E03 & S04E04 "In the Name of the Rebellion"


As members of the Rebel Alliance, Ezra and the Ghost crew must accept a mission to spy on an Imperial outpost they would rather destroy. Later, after being separated from Hera and Kana, Ezra and Sabine join the desperate quest of Saw Gerrera to hunt down the Empire's elusive secret super weapon.

What I thought

After a reasonable opening hour episode to the season, things really beef up in this double-parter, especially in the second half as Saw Gerrera arrives and so do multiple massive explosions. Although there are references to Ezra and Sabine always blowing things up in this episode, given what we know about Saw, we also know to not only expect things to go boom but also to take a turn for the worse when he’s about. However, for the first half, he’s not about, at least not physically, except for his massive big head (visually and probably figuratively to many other Rebels) appearing to transmit a message to the Rebel base on Yavin IV. This absolutely beautifully stunning setting for a base is interrupted by Saw telling them how rubbish they are and not willing to do what it takes. As if waiting for him to appear, Mom is out of the base and there to dispute his accusations and then cut the plug on his mouthing off. Before this, we had the gang together again as Kanan, Ezra, Sabine and Chopper meet up with Zeb and Hera at the base. I expected Hera and Kanan to rush into a hug but they really held that off, leaving the handshakes and fist pumping to our imagination. As rewarding as seeing Yavin IV was, we also got to see Rex and Kallus once again, albeit both in a small supporting role. Sadly, no AP-5 who would have been fantastic in this episode with his cynical nature.

What gets this episode going is that a new massive communications antenna (you know, just like the ones we see in Rogue One) is being used by the Empire and is causing them to get the heads up on the Rebels. Mom Mothma therefore instructs the Ghost team to utilise it to the Rebel’s advantage rather than destroy it. This was going to plan, until the Rebels actually landed on the device, by way of a heavy landing by Ezra, Sabine and certainly by Chopper! This whole skydiving that happens in this show I have to just accept at face value. It all doesn’t quite add up for me, as Ezra says he doesn’t need a jetpack, yet he uses it? It’s all just odd how casual they are with this but, hey, it’s a cartoon! Anyhow, once an Imperial cruiser arrives, things start to go comically wrong, as he there’s Stormtroopers falling over each other as Chopper manipulates the tilt of the dish, and Ezra doing an even worse impersonation of an Imperial voice than Han Solo in the detention centre on the Death Star. Seriously, that was Ezra’s plan, to chit-chat to that incoming cruiser? That’s the biggest waste of an idea ever. Sure enough, it’s time to bail out, but the Ghost is preoccupied by TIEs but luckily Saw is at hand, as he helps rescue the three and also nuke the dish, taking out the cruiser at the same time, naturally.

This takes us into part 2 and Sabine/Ezra/Chopper hooking up with Saw and his wingman to infiltrate a civilian cargo ship which Saw has intel on being used by Imperials. Sadly we see little of the space station that the cargo ship undocks from but once inside the cargo ship, it’s all creeping about like Scooby Doo and totally awesome as the gang indeed find the Empire is using the cargo ship, where they find a group of prisoners whom seemed to be on the way to Scotland’s Comedy Fringe Festival, given their comedy abilities. But no, they are all weapon experts who were made prisoners by the Empire for not agreeing to help them. Rogue One reference? Tick. Secret Weapon? Tick. Krennic and Death Troopers? Tick ... well, almost. Krennic gets name dropped but there be Death Troopers guarding a massive Kyber Crystal in this cargo ship! This isn’t just any gang of Death Troopers. Oh no, these boys and girls are fresh out of Death Trooper training squad because they seem unable to know how to utilise their secure comms, weapons or armour, for they are made mugs of by the Rebels. Saw, determined to find out what’s really going on, has no interest in helping the prisoners, leading to a game of cat and mouse with Sabine/Ezra before he destabilises the kyber crystal upon bailing out when a Star Destroyer shows up and no secret Imperial weapon evident. Needless to say our gang get out alive, but not before the cargo ship goes supernova, taking out the Star Destroyer with it ... naturally.

Rating: 8/10 – A gritty action packed episode full of Star Wars and Rogue One nostalgia.

What I liked

  • ·         Saw Gerrera and his wingman were cool and were awesomely portrayed.
  • ·         The secrecy and conspiracy elements were top-notch.
  • ·         References to Rogue One were like hand outs of candy to fans
  • ·         The ‘green’ alien prisoner was absolutely a great comedian as well as scientist.
  • ·         Chopper back on form providing humour and comically dealing with Stormtroopers.
  • ·         Yavin IV looked beautiful.

What I didn’t like

  • ·         It was odd hearing Death Troopers talk in English. They are way more cool when talking in code.
  • ·         Death Troopers made to look like the they were no better than StormTroopers.
  • ·         How did the Star Destroyer captain not notice the energy build-up until the last minute?

Yavin IV looks absolutely beautiful.
I'm so reminded of Rogue One here!

Meet the new comedy gang!

Death Troopers, but not as you've seen them before ...

That's a massive crystal!

Chopper kicks Stormtrooper butt!

Bang, Crash, Wallop.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Star Wars Rebels S04E01 & S04E02 "Heroes of Mandalore"


Sabine leads a mission to free her father from the Empire, but finds that a past mistake has been resurrected with deadly consequences.
What I thought
Having known for months that the first episodes were Mandalore centric, I really wasn't looking forward to this double part opener, but I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps my buildup of being sure I'd dislike it helped me to appreciate it more? I've never been a fan of Mandalorian culture. Aside from the Fetts, whom were merely wearing Mandalorian armour, everything else about Mandalore has been more of a Mandabore for me. Sure, they look super cool in their armour and have amazing gadgets, it's just everything else seems to be, well, dull. There's clans all over the place falling out with each other, and it seems to be one civil war after the other and a constant competition as to who is the best clan. Therefore, it was somewhat unexpected that I enjoyed this opening hour long episode, most likely because the action really helped keep the boring Mandalore politics out of matters ... most of the time.

It's great that the episode starts with action, and pretty much continues with battling the Empire for the duration of the double-parter. Ezra, Kanan, Chopper, Sabine and her Mandalorian chums are attacking an outpost to rescue Sabine's dad, who'd I'd forgotten existed. After taking down just a handful of imperials and cutting down walkers in the usual Jedi style, they find that there's no prisoners in the compound in record time. That's impressive searching abilities. The intel that her dad was there was supposed to be irrefutable but wasn't. Therefore, when new intel drops that her father is instead being transported to the capitol to be publically killed, naturally they seriously doubt it's authenticity. No wait, they don't. Sorry. They simply just believe it and instead launch a plan to intercept the convoy. Saxon, the brother of the other Saxon who perished last season, and the one in charge of the Imperial Mandalorians, says it was his plan to lure Sabine in to the deserted compound, but then doesn't seem to expect the attack on the convoy? I dunno. I gave up at this stage in trying to work out the logic. Anyhow, naturally the Rebels and Mandalorians rescue Bail Organa from the transport. Oops, nope, I mean Sabine's father. Well, it's an easy mistake. They look like they were separated at birth. This episode then ends with Sabine's father giving her tips in painting ... or was heading that way, until Saxon unleashes the Empire's new weapon on Sabine's mum, brother and co, with what is basically a walking electric wielding walker. UNLIMITED POWER! It's a super end, not least that we're rid of a few Mandalorians, but also the scene of the destruction is breathtakingly heartbreaking to see.

In part 2 it's all about destroying the weapon she helped create. Bo-Katan isn't happy with Sabine over her creation, and who could blame her, but for the sake of a long drawn out argument, she's easily convinced to forgive all that and help take the weapon down. Sneaking in using jetpacks, which Ezra seems to have mastered by this point after a rather embarrassingly comical performance in part 1, they enter the hanger bay of Saxon's star destroyer. Luckily the weapon is just inside. That's very convenient. When Sabine and Bo-Katan go off to locate the actual heart of the weapon, we find that it's just a trap by Saxon, as he uses the weapon on them. Not wanting to fry them, he needs Sabine to increase the yield of the weapon to it's maximum potential, using his threat to kill Bo-Katan as the bargaining chip. Here's where it goes into cartoon overdrive, when Sabine agrees to his demands (naturally tricking him) presses a few buttons, warns him not to use it, which of course leads to him pressing the button that sets the weapon on all Imperial armour instead. I'm not sure what's ridiculous more. That she could make that change so quickly, or that Saxon was stupid enough to think she'd done it in a few button presses. Anyhow, a quick darksabre through the weapon and it's time to bail out of the imperial ship quickly, as the weapon's core seems to be so powerful that it ultimately takes down the whole Star Destroyer. When it comes to Star Wars Cartoons, it's not enough to cripple a ship, you have to absolutely blow it up!

Right at the end, and for no particular reason that I can see, all the Madalorian clans decide to follow Bo-Katan, whom Sabine gives the darksabre for the iconic raised sabre pose.

It wasn't anywhere near as bad an episode as i feared. Despite it being all on Mandalore, the politics was not as potent as the action. There's a lot of 'WTF' moments, but this is a cartoon at the end of the day and therefore I try to overlook as much of that as I can and just try to enjoy matters. However, despite all the action, it did feel a little like a "did we really need an hour to get to this point?" kind of episode. The good news is that perhaps we can all move on from the Mandalore/Sabine thing now and get back to the Rebellion.

Verdict 6/10 - Decent opener full of action, and thankfully not as stuffy with Mandalorian stuff as I feared.

What I liked:
  • Lots of action! 
  • Ezra's comedy moments helped cheer matters up.
  • Empire's weapon was pretty impressive.

What I didn’t like:
  • Contradictions. One minute the heroes are taking out two TIE fighters and the next they are pinned down by two stormtroopers. 
  • I know the weapon was on reduced power, but Sabine and Bo-Katan did recover amazingly quickly.
  • Saxon not being able to increase usefulness of weapon but is convinced by Sabine's 5 second tapping of buttons that she's significantly increased the weapon's yield.
  • That core in weapon took down a whole Star Destroyer? 
  • Mandalorians are easily swayed to hop sides aren't they?
  • Don't want to be mean, but it would have meant more if Sabine's mum and brother had been wiped out by the weapon.
  • I don't know why, but I was a little surprised by Sabine's Dad's references to Jedi.
The view after the weapon was deployed was stark and emotional.

Ezra provides the comedy in episode 1 as his flying is a disaster.

Saxon; with brains like he had, he was never going to last long.

Nothing is ever as delightful as a Star Destroyer in a destructive descent.

We have another new Mandalore leader. Ok, she was previously a leader, but she's back now. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Star Trek Discovery: Season 1 Episodes 1 & 2

The anticipation level I had about this show was simmering very nicely. Sure, the trailer hadn't done much for me, but surely I couldn't be as unsure after watching the opening episodes than I was after watching the trailer? Well, seems that is possible. Now, I've watched every Star Trek TV Series, the films and even the rebooted films (aside from the third one). Admittedly I didn't enjoy the new rebooted films, and I wasn't the biggest fan of Voyager, but I welcomed a return to Trek in the timespan between 'Enterprise' and the 'TNG' onto TV. I also was well chuffed that it was 'canon' Trek, and not the new timeline from the rebooted films. I loved 'Enterprise' so more of that with some bells and whistles would suit me fine. So, what did we get then?

Having watched the opening two episodes, I'm feeling quite flat. I'm trying to 'cling on' to aspects of what I saw in the hope that I'll feel inspired to keep watching the series but there's so little there to really say I enjoyed. Let's do a little recap ...

Things start off with the new hairless crustacean version of Klingons. Tick. That was the best way to start. Introduce the menace early. Then we get two of the new cast on a desert planet trading compliments and conversation as if written from an educational textbook between each other. Yes, let's meet Captain Philippa Georgiou and Michael Burnham as they essentially walk miles to fix a water well with a phaser and then walk around in circles to create sand patterns of the starfleet insignia. As great as it is to see Starfleet helping other civilizations and boldly going, this is a little dull due to the dialogue by two characters who seem unable to show emotion even in the heat of a desert. Sure, Michael has been raised as a vulcan so it's a little hard to show anything remotely emotional I guess. Plus, she's been called Michael since birth. Some mistake with the birth certificate I gather and someone who can't spell Michelle right. Ok, I made that bit up. If it was true it would have been more exciting than this segment though. The groan in my head when sand patterns helps the ship find and rescue them was deafening. How exactly did that insignia help through a heck of a lot of clouds and an incoming storm?

We then have Michael doing what she ends up doing for the next two episodes; being impulsive, self-indulgent, pompous and about as likeable as phaser pistol to the head. If you've seen the actress in The Walking Dead, you'd think she was playing the same person for they are almost indistinguishable. She goes off in a funked spacesuit to investigate a nearby oddity, finds an ancient ship of amazing decorative sorts, gets into a two second battle with a klingon that also seems to be suited up and standing around on the hull of the ship, kills the klingon and narrowly gets back to the ship alive. She exits the medical bay dressed in bandages around the important bits, looking like a half dressed mummy, and starts blabbing onto the Captain about Klingons being everywhere. Captain eventually believes her as they have somehow managed to serve together for seven years without killing each other, and hey presto, big bad Klingon vessel comes out of invisibility cloak nearby. It then shines like a massive lightbulb, summoning all Klingons to come join them and unite the Klingon Empire together. We know this as we are treated to several long arduous scenes of the new styled klingons talking to each other as if they are speaking about one word every 10 seconds. Nice to see the language of klingon's being used but boy does it go on and on and on. It really doesn't help in any way to stimulate the audience. But anyhow, at least when the 24 factions of klingons all warp in to join the massive ceremonial klingon ship, we can get back to some normality and see proper klingons, right? Nope, don't be daft. All Klingons now lack hair, any real traditional forehead and instead look like they've been swimming with starfish for a few years. Even their ships barely resemble anything we've seen before. Apparently, humans haven't seen Klingons for a 100 years. Now where have I heard this story setup before? Oh yeah, Battlestar Galactica.

Michael demands in a rather teenage manner relentlessly at her Captain to fire first on the Klingons but she won't. No worries though, because in true adolescent style she ignores the chain of command that she's served for 7 years and nerve pinches her captain and attempts to assume control in the most unconvincing manner ever. Naturally, for apparently tension purposes only, the Captain recovers from the assault in record breaking time and comes out waving a phaser about. Sadly, before she can shoot Michael and spare us another hour of listening to her blabbing on, all hell breaks loose as federation ships turn up and it's like fireworks in space. I've not got a clue what's going on as it's damn hard to tell with lense flare and more background objects than at any landfill site. Basically the federation loses this battle, mostly thanks to the best scene of the battle which is a klingon ship cutting up the admiral's ship in half. Michael is sent to the brig ... during a battle ... because rules are rules folks. One of the bridge crew gets injured and is asked to walk to the medical bay. Hang on. If he can walk there, why can't he continue at his station? Anyhow, he gets lost, walks to the brig. Easy mistake huh? He's then blown up as miraculously, and damm annoyingly, the brig is all but destroyed, except for the bit where Michael is standing. Later she bores the ship's computer into helping her get to safety for fear it might try to kill itself if she keeps talking any longer. She's then back on the bridge with zero security people about and not one person really surprised or caring. Rules go out the window and she and the captain transport to the Klingon vessel after disabling it in the most un-federation like manner ever (bomb in a body), and go after the main baddy, which results in Michael shooting him just a few minutes after she said that they need him alive or he'll become a martyr. Oh well. Sadly still, the captain is killed just moments before so I guess we'll have Michael feeling guilty for that for the rest of the series. Then, just to help set us up for a cliffhanger of sorts, we have Michael in a court martial meeting, in the darkest of rooms ever. Quite how the judges can see each other, let along anything else, I don't know. Are they still into saving energy? Naturally she pleads guilty to all charges and is sentenced to life imprisonment, which naturally won't happen as we all know she's a star of the show. So, quite pointless to end with that one.

Final thoughts? Well, after thinking "We've got a whole season of this?" my next thought was something like ... 'meh'. It's not horrendous. It's not brilliant either. Critics apparently loved it but they most be smoking weed and stoned still from the rebooted films if you ask me. This is more Star Trek than the rebooted films, but only just. The modern sci-fi style of lens flare overload is everywhere, including the modern trend to have camera angles that look impressive but do nothing to help you engage with the story or understand what is going on. We only got introduced to three of the new crew in this opener and now one of them is most likely dead as a dodo. The Captain was a little Janeway like but, and even I thought this impossible, less interesting and likeable. She almost displays more humanity on a few occasions, giving us genuine emotional facial features but they were too far and few between, with most of the time all she did was give orders and reread Starfleet protocol manuals at us. Michael was so much like her Walking Dead character that I half expected her to put a knife to her captain's head instead of the vulcan nerve pinch. She's portraying a Vulcan-Human as if this is a B-movie; i.e. badly. It's as if she's so much naturally like a Vulcan in real life that she hams it up ridiculously in the show. The only other crew character we see anything of is Saru, an alien, but far more likeable than any of the humans in Starfleet in this show, thanks to his Scooby-Doo like ability to want to get away from danger and crisis. He's the only breath of fresh air on a ship that thus far is rather stale.

There's far more of the crew to meet and it's almost certain we will over the course of the season but why we couldn't' we have seen more of them in the opener, I don't know. They decided to ignore most of the crew and just go straight into a Klingon versus Starfleet storyline. Probably most of that crew we're never see as that ship is already fodder. I guess we're heading to a new ship and crew, which is very much welcome because this lot were only just about bearable because most of the time I couldn't see them due to lens flare. And what of the new Klingons? Why? This needs some explanation, that's for sure. I'm a little lost here. Why have the Klingons changed so much across the lifetime of Star Trek but humans stayed the same?

I love Star Trek but even I'm having a hard time with this show. However, there is plenty to go, and with a heck of a lot of crew not even covered yet, there's promise of there being people much more interesting than those we've seen so far. Star Trek needs interesting characters, just as much as all the alien stuff. So far there's only been two to try to identify with and one of them is about as interesting as a brick and likely to be shoved down out throats as the star of the show for the whole season. This could be a long road, getting from here to there ...

Rating 6/10 - There's some promise here but it's incredibly hidden behind a lot of annoying and unlikeable issues currently.

What I liked:

  • Like the ancient feel to new klingons and design. 
  • Starfleet ship looks cool on outside and the instruments are an electronic delight.
  • Lieutenant Saru; thank goodness for this character. Entertaining in every scene he was in.

What I didn't like:

  • Lens flare alert!
  • Some really unuseful camera angles.
  • Why is everyone in Starfleet suddenly so pompous and arrogant?
  • Did we really need another 'Vulcan/Human with issues' character?
  • Sarek? Did we really need him either?
  • Long distance mind-meld communication. No thanks.
  • Cringe inducing sand insignia moment.
  • Nice touch with old theme in new theme but at start and end? Didn't need it twice.
  • Flashback scenes didn't really work most of time.
  • Not the most interesting klingons and they are very very chatty in a manner that makes it tedious to watch.
  • Hologram communications? WTF? Even 'Enterprise', Voyager and TNG didn't use that form of communications!
  • Only introduced to 3 of crew in episodes 1 and 2.
  • Isn't Commander Michael essentially just playing the walking dead character? i.e. Dull, opinionated. Not sure how her and the captain served for 7 years together without hitting each other.
  • Captain is/was very goody goody but that's starfleet although she always looked like she was going to end up dead.
  • Since when do a Captain and 'Number One' go alone to launch an attack on an alien ship?