Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Bookshelf: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Forever War cover and Amazon link

I try to keep abreast of all the classics of science fiction literature, but it gets difficult sometimes. Joe Haldeman's The Forever War came out when the genre was going through a lot of changes in response to the times and to new literary trends, and it's certainly a product of that era. But it also manages a timeless feel, defying the traditional jingoistic slant of military sci-fi with a story that shows the real horrors of war, horrors psychological as well as visceral. Though a grim and intense read, it's also a very heartfelt human story.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frasierquest 4.17: Roz's Turn

Frasier, Daphne, and Niles help Roz make a demo tape.

Frasier: Well, it was just an offhand remark, how did I know how she'd react?

Roz: She's Bebe! If you had said you liked my eyes, they would have been on your desk tomorrow in a Tiffany box!

So I haven't timed this season's coverage right to get any appropriate holiday episodes ready for this time of year. That's too bad, but "Roz's Turn" is a great episode anyway so it doesn't matter. I always seem to like it when Roz gets some emphasis, if only because at this point in the series it's such a break from the routine, and this episode goes one better by throwing in Bebe Glaser. The result is an episode that never gets dull, and is a great lesson in building humor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Frasierquest 4.16: The Unnatural

Frasier at the Bat

Roz: All right, there's a guy on second, one guy's out, I drive one to the gap. The throw to the cut-off man is late, our guy's safe at home, and I try to stretch it to a double. I make a beautiful hookslide right under the tag. How can I be out?

Frasier: I'm still trying to understand why you drove to the Gap in the middle of a game.

I think we all pretty much knew Frasier couldn't play softball by now, or really any sport, but it's nice to have confirmation. "The Unnatural" throws a few different balls in the air, but the central premise is that Frasier doesn't have a chance of hitting any of them. It's also an episode that focuses on the ever-developing relationship between father and son, as Frasier sees an unfortunate milestone coming up for him and Frederick. It's the biggest role the younger Crane has had on the show, and we start to see some real development of his character. I can't tell if this is an especially funny script or if I've been suffering from deprivation neglecting this feature for so long, but it's definitely an eventful episode which does a lot with a basic premise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Who Report: The Five Doctors (1983)

Five Doctors DVD cover and Amazon link

There's a first time for everything. "The Five Doctors" was the very first Doctor Who story I ever saw, when all I knew about the show was a few passages in sci-fi books, the Peter Cushing film Dr. Who and the Daleks, and faint memories of seeing something really creepy on PBS. "The Five Doctors" was a twentieth-anniversary special that ran as a full 90-minute feature (as opposed to being serialized), and while it's not the best story of its era, it's a good introduction, a pastiche of several familiar faces and story elements into a fun if scattershot story. Oh, and it's not quite five Doctors, but we'll get to that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Bookshelf: The Flying Eyes by J. Hunter Holly

The Flying Eyes cover and Amazon link

I am a simple kind of man. If I see a book on the shelf with the title "The Flying Eyes", you know damn well I am going to purchase that book. I may not know if it's good or bad, or the author, or when it was written, but I just have to dive in. This is an obscure volume- the version I purchased doesn't even have a copyright date or much information of any kind, but it was apparently originally published in 1962 or 1963 (depending on which source you believe), and J. Hunter Holly is the pen name of Joan Carol Holly. It's a terse, effective, albeit supremely goofy novella, and its retro B-movie premise is accompanied by an appropriately cinematic tone. It works surprisingly well.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In Theaters: Hugo

Hugo poster and IMPAwards link

Hugo is the kind of movie I wish I saw more often. While Martin Scorsese doing a children's fantasy film in 3-D may not seem like the most obvious match, this kind of tribute to the history and power of the movies could only have been done justice by someone like him. An adaptation of Brian Selznick's acclaimed book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" (which I have not yet read even though it is literally sitting next to me as I type this), Hugo is both a dazzling spectacle and a warm, intimate story about dreams and lives lost and reclaimed. It's one of my favorite films of the year.