A re-imagined Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider trailer

Just in case you missed it, here’s the new trailer for the Tomb Raider game coming out in about 18 months (Fall 2012).

Of course a great trailer doesn’t mean a great game, but with launch so far out I don’t think that matters yet. I’m just sharing this from the point of view of “Trailer Theater.” Enjoy it as a great short-film and don’t worry about the game yet!

(And may I suggest going full screen and high def for this one?)

ABC’s Once Upon A Time

A long, long time ago, I covered TV here at Dragonchasers. Genre TV at least. I kind of gave it up because I’m a horrible TV reviewer…I just enjoy too many shows that others hate. Maybe I don’t take TV seriously enough, I dunno, but if its genre stuff, I can almost always find something to like, and I’m pretty patient. I didn’t like Stargate Atlantis at all for the first half season, but I stuck it out and by the end I was bummed to see it go.

Anyway… ABC reached out to the blogger community to promote a new upcoming show, Once Upon A Time. The premise seems to be that, in this town at least, fairytales are real. Hey, I’ll give that a try! Here’s the first look (lots of familiar faces!) and following that is the blurb that was sent out.

The series is coming to ABC this Fall, and I’ll definitely be watching!

Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Tron: Legacy) invite you to a bold new vision of the world where fairytales and the modern day are about to collide.

Anna Swan (Jennifer Morrison) knows how to take care of herself. She’s a 28-year old bail bonds collector who’s been on her own ever since she was abandoned as a baby. But when the son she gave up years ago finds her, everything will change. Henry (Jared Gilmore) is 10 years old now and in desperate need of Anna’s help. Henry believes that Anna actually comes from an alternate world… and is Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) missing daughter. According to his book of fairytales, they sent her away to protect her from the Evil Queen’s (Lana Parilla) curse, which trapped the fairytale world forever, frozen in time. Of course Anna doesn’t believe a word, but when she brings Henry back to Storybrooke, she finds herself drawn to this unusual boy and his strange New England town. Concerned for Henry, she decides to stay for a while, but she soon suspects that Storybrooke is more than it seems. It’s a place where magic has been forgotten, but is still powerfully close… where fairytale characters are alive, even though they don’t remember who they once were–including the Evil Queen who is now Henry’s foster mother. The epic battle for the future of all worlds is beginning, but for good to win, Anna will have to accept her destiny and fight like hell.

Brace yourself for a modern fable with thrilling twists and hints of darkness. Brimming with wonder, and filled with the magic of our most beloved fairytales, Once Upon A Time is a fitting follow up to Lost from two master storytellers.

SHORT:
Welcome to a world where fairytales are real. Anna Swan is like any other 28 year old, until she discovers she’s a lost princess destined to save her world from darkness. Experience the passion project of executive producers/creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Tron). Once Upon A Time is a thrilling twist of our most beloved stories.

CAST
Robert Carlyle – Rumplestiltskin
Josh Dallas – Prince Charming/John Doe
James Dornan – Sheriff Graham
Jared Gilmore – Henry
Ginnifer Goodwin – Snow White/Sister Mary Margret Blanchard
Jennifer Morrison – Emma Swan
Lana Parilla – Evil Queen/Regina
Raphael Sbarge – Archie/Jiminy Cricket

CREDITS
Production Company – ABC Studios
Executive Producer – Edward Kitsis
Executive Producer – Adam Horowitz
Executive Producer – Steve Pearlman
Executive Producer/Director – Mark Mylod

Sci-fi art imitates life

This post includes spoilers for the new V series, in particular the episode that aired on March 8th in the US.

So in-between walks around the PAX show floor this weekend, and into yesterday evening, I’ve been watching the situation going on with Japan’s nuclear plants in the wake of the earthquakes, and hearing politicians start to call for an immediate halt to work on any and all nuclear plants currently being built.

Last night we watched Fringe from last week (it aired a few days before the quake hit). In it, the Visitors are building bases on earth. They’re disguised as buildings to benefit mankind, but the resistance (the Fifth Column) realizes they’re landing platforms for hidden motherships. The problems for ‘The Fifth Column’ is how to take out hundreds of installations around the world to prevent the motherships from landing.

Their solution is to destabilize the “blue energy” power source in the local construction site. The idea is to cause an accident which in turn will cause people to worry about how safe blue energy is and thus create a popular sentiment to halt progress on all the blue energy sites being built around the world.

I tell you, it was pretty eerie watching that episode after seeing the same thing happening in real life, substituting nuclear power for blue energy…

Note: This isn’t a political blog and I’m not meaning to comment on nuclear power, either for or against. I just found the timing of this particular episode kind of interesting. Art imitates life and all that.

TV!

I’m shamelessly ripping off Ysh’s idea and format; I was going to comment on her post but I didn’t want to write a book-length comment.

So here’re the series recordings set up on our DVR.

Monday Night

Heroes — We still like this show and are puzzled by how many people don’t. Watching Hiro and Ando alone is worth it for me. And is Noah Bennett a good guy or a bad guy? What about Angela Petrolli? There’re enough mysteries and likable (and love-to-hate-able) characters to keep us tuning in.

The Big Bang Theory — Probably the single favorite show on the list. We laugh so hard that at times we have to hit the pause button to compose ourselves.

House — Had to buy a season pass from Amazon Video-on-Demand since its on at the same time as Heroes and Big Bang Theory. I’m interested to see how they portray life on the inside of a mental hospital.

Castle — I’m a huge Nathan Fillion fan. And the lady cop is strong enough to face off against him. Great show.

Tuesday Night

The Biggest Loser — Mostly watch this as a way to guilt myself into eating better and exercising more. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of, both good and bad.

Warehouse 13 — I forgot this one, now I’m coming back to add it. Fun cast, weird steampunk vibe. The titular Warehouse holds thousands of artifacts that hold weird special powers. Like Lewis Carroll’s Looking Glass or Tesla’s overcoat. Really fun show.

Wednesday Night

So You Think You Can Dance — It took Angela quite a while to get me to sit down and watch this show, since I thought it was all about street-dancing. I was totally wrong about that, and now I’m caught up in it. Some really great performances once the season gets cooking (auditions aren’t as interesting). And of course, hot girls and skimpy outfits is never a bad thing.

Glee — I can’t describe this in a way that’ll convince anyone to watch it. It’s about a High School Glee Club. And it’s awesome. Just try it.

Ghost Hunters — Can’t miss this one. I’m a firm believer in the paranormal, taken literally. I’m not saying a ‘ghost’ is the spirit of a dead person (nor am I saying it isn’t) but I’m saying there’s some under-explained energy sources floating around out there. Watching this troupe chase them down is fun, since I get a kick out of the team.

Destination Truth — Joshua Gates is a funny guy. I don’t ever expect him to find any of these creatures he’s hunting for, but I love watching him and his team heading to these remote places on a shoe-string budget. There’re some weird beliefs out there.

Thursday Night

Fringe — Season 1 was awesome with a great twist at the end. John Noble as Walter Bishop is brilliant. Creepy cases, weird happenings. Sign me up!

Friday Night

Stargate Universe — We’ll see. I’ve never been able to get into SG-1, but I loved Stargate Atlantis. So let’s see how this one goes.

Sanctuary — Love Amanda Tapping in this show. It’s kind of out there, but fun.

Saturday Night

Robin Hood — The last season of the BBC series. It’s a great Saturday night show. Not very deep, but fun to watch.

Sunday Night

Masterpiece — PBS wrapped Masterpiece Theater, Mystery and one other show into one rotating package composed of Masterpiece Classics, Masterpiece Mystery and Masterpiece Contemporary (I think?). Anyway, whatever they put on, I watch.

Then there’s new stuff that I’m not yet sure I’ll be able to fit in:

FastForward — I don’t know how they’ll keep this going, but I’m guessing it’ll be a good ride for a few weeks. Everyone on earth passes out for a couple of minutes and while passed out they all get a glimpse of the future. What happens next? We’ll have to tune in to find out.

Eastwick — Probably will suck, but I enjoyed the book, kind of enjoyed the movie. So we’ll see.

Cougar Town — Everyone needs a guilty pleasure. They had me at Courtney Cox in her underwear.

New Adventures of Old Christine — I hope this one is returning. Julia Louise Dreyfus, with Wanda Sykes as a wise-cracking sidekick, is irreverent and funny as hell. Not a lot of people I know watch this but it’s brilliant.

Rules of Engagement — Not sure if this one is coming back either. Cast is composed of 1 married couple (Patrick Warburton, who I always love, and Meghan Price, ditto), an engaged couple (I don’t know who the actors are, sorry) and the aging bachelor (David Spade). Happily Spade is more the butt of jokes than anything, or else he’d ruin it. 3 ways of looking at relationships wrapped up in a 30-minute sitcom. Good stuff.

Whew! I’m sure I missed something, but that’s a long enough list.

Dollhouse – Why All the Hate? (TV)

I interupt this gaming blog to talk for a minute about TV, and in particular Joss Whedon’s new show, Dollhouse. Warning: The post contains broad spoilers of the first 3 episodes.

Now I’m just an ordinary viewer watching the show as it airs. I haven’t had any sneak peeks or read any spoiler sites or anything like that, and I’m going to share some assumptions here. I may well be proven wrong. but I’m willing to risk it.

So first of all, I’m enjoying the show so far, and hope that it makes it for a long run. But if you don’t like it, I can respect that. Everyone has different tastes, and in particular this show lacks the humor that most Whedon shows contain, which might put off some Whedonverse fans.

What I don’t get, though, is that section of the audience that seems to actively hate the show. Not only do they not want to watch it, they want it to go away; they don’t want anyone else watching it, either. 

That puzzled me so much that I’ve been trying to understand why. Most of the hate seems to surround the way women are treated in the show. One comment I read said “Every time Echo sleeps with a guy, I feel like she is being raped.” A few other comments reflect the same feelings to a greater or lesser extent; that what happens to the “dolls” here is really uncomfortable, and most of them that we’ve seen so far have been women. 

I don’t disagree with these feelings.

But I think what these viewers don’t understand is that Dollhouse HQ (the organization) are -not- the good guys here. They are at best morally ambiguous, and more likely just plain evil (that remains to be seen). The fact that Echo does some good while she is out on a mission is more or less a side-effect of what the company does. We see the ‘good’ missions but the bread & butter of the firm seems to be prostituting these “dolls” to the filthy rich. Yes, it’s dehumanizing, criminal and uncomfortable. That’s the whole point. We’re supposed to hate Dollhouse HQ and want it to be brought down!

My guess is that Echo is going to be the rogue agent that eventually hooks up with Alpha to try to tear down Dollhouse the Organization.  She’ll have help from Dr. Saunders (Amy Acker’s character) and the protection of Langton, her handler. The “good guys” in the show are Ballard (the cop trying to expose Dollhouse), Echo as she starts to retain her memories, and Boyd Langton. Maybe Sierra as well?  

I just think the viewers who actively hate the show somehow think we’re supposed to be rooting for Dollhouse HQ and that seems like a vile thing to ask us to do, and so they attack Whedon and the show. But that, to a certain extent, exposes the problem with TV these days. No one has any patience. Everything has to be explained in the first episode or else people form assumptions that they are unwilling to let go of. If you watch the way most of the Dollhouse staff treat the “dolls” it is really clear that these are bad, or at least heartless, people. I guess Whedon needed to spell that out in the first 5 minutes of episode 1 in order to avoid offending viewers?

I wonder if these same people wanted The Sopranos taken off the air? Probably not, because it was immediately clear that the Soprano characters were criminals and so viewers knew what to expect. 

Dollhouse has the potential to be a pretty complex show. Imagine Echo, having her memories wiped over and over, but learning somehow to hang on to some piece of herself, and struggling to figure out what’s happening to her and how to escape. Imagine Langton growing more and more attached to her and trying to operate from the inside to help her, while Ballard gets closer and closer to the truth. There’s a lot of good material to mine here, if viewers give it a chance.

But I don’t think they will. Which is a damned shame.

A weekend of endings

I’ll beg your pardon while I ramble. This has been a strange weekend for me, full of things ending.

My EQ2 subscription ends this week. Realistically I do most of my gaming on weekends, so it feels like EQ2 is done for me, for now. I do hope to come back to it soon, though.

I was reading the last issue of EGM this weekend. There’s nothing really special about it, but knowing its the last one, reading the articles and knowing the writer had no idea he was about to be jobless, lends a sad sheen to the mag.

Angela and I have been watching an old Irish TV series, Ballykissangel, for the past few weeks. I’d seen the first couple seasons before, years ago when it played on PBS. There are six seasons in all, and yesteraday we finished the 6th. It’s a very good-hearted show. Ballykissangel is the name of a village, and even though characters come and go from season to season, the village remains and feels like the main character. Anyway, its done now, and the last season was filmed in 2001 (I believe) so not much chance of any more of it. What added to the sadness there was knowing that some characters left the show because the actors playing them passed away (Birdie Sweeny – Eamon, and Tony Doyle – Brian Quigley). Tony Doyle’s daughter actually played a part in the last season, and you can see a lot of her dad in her face, which in some ways added to the melancholy of it being the last we’ll see of this little village and the characters that hang out in Fitzgerald’s pub.

And today I watched the series finale of Stargate: Atlantis. I *loved* that show. Which is a totally separate issue from saying it’s a great show, because it isn’t. It was just a fun, entertaining sci-fi series with a cast of characters that felt like a family in a lot of ways. I’d *guess* that behind the scenes, the actors got along pretty well because there was always a feeling of  camaraderie when you watched. I love sci-fi and have since I was a kid. And I’ve noted in myself that I’m drawn to these shows that have a ‘family’ of characters that get along and don’t have a lot of interpersonal conflict. My own family life was pretty “lite” and I think in some small way I make these tv-show families my own. (I’m sure that’s not healthy, but oh well.) There’s no “bad guy” in the core cast of Atlantis, and very little friction between Atlantis team members. Every crew member is more or less a sci-fi cliche, but I’m just not bothered by that.

As to the finale itself, it was overly ambitious. It felt like they’d planned for a two-hour finale and had to whittle it down to an hour, because they stuffed a *lot* of stuff into that hour, to the point where it felt kind of disjointed and rushed. Not one of their best episodes, but I do enjoy when the writers of a series know they’re writing a finale (remember the last scene of Joss Whedon’s Angel? “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to slay a dragon.”) and can leave us with a poignant moment to remember the cast by.

So farewell EQ2 and Ballyk and EGM and Stargate: Atlantis.  Thanks for all the enjoyment you’ve brought me over the years. And in the case of EQ2…hope to see you again soon!

Tonight it’ll be the season finale of Sanctuary (hoping that one gets renewed) and then the conclusion of Tess of the D’Urbervilles on Masterpiece. More endings!

Just not feeling like gaming today, for some reason… this upcoming work week is going to be kind of brutal and I think I’m just recharging by watching lots of tv…