Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions

Doctor Who Series 11 First Impressions

Last year, the BBC announced two new additions to the cast and crew of their internationally popular sci-fi program, Doctor Who.  First off, showrunner Steven Moffat was to be replaced with master storyteller Chris Chibnall (of Broadchurch fame).  The second change was a little more earth-shattering: the Doctor’s thirteenth (well, fourteenth, technically) incarnation would be female, and played by Jodie Whittaker (also of Broadchurch fame – noticing a trend here).

Like many people with blogs last year, I offered my two cents on the matter.  On the one hand, having a female Doctor makes cosplaying her a heck of a lot easier, and on a very shallow level, it felt good to see my gender represented positively to this degree on a show I love.  On the other hand, I shared the concern of many that the Doctor’s gender change seemed politically-motivated, consistent with some other gratuitous antics I picked up on in Moffat’s final season.

I decided I’d wait until I’d seen Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor in action before forming my conclusions about her.  After all, shouldn’t we judge people based on the quality of their characters, not things beyond their control, like race or gender?  (Arguably the Doctor does have some control over these things, but let’s not get into that.)  Series 11 premiered this past Sunday, so there’s really no time like the present to make an informed conclusion.

Having seen the first episode with Jodie Whittaker, I am not disappointed.  Though the first episode of a new Doctor frequently shows the character struggling to settle into his or her new skin, it was clear to me that she was fitting right in.

Ms. Whittaker’s portrayal of the Doctor is endearingly witty and whimsical right off the bat.  Simply by being herself, which was practically the same as her old self save for the gender-change, she proved that this woman is just as capable of playing the Doctor as any of the previous actors. There was no obnoxious rhetoric, no lewd jokes about anatomy, or really any of the things I feared might come up with this gutsy move on the showrunner’s part.  The most on-the-nose moment was a brief, but powerful line about how it’s possible to respect the past while still moving forward, something it’s clear the Doctor is now setting out to do.

The episode itself is a mixed bag in terms of success.  To paraphrase Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, new showrunner, new rules.

Series 11 will contain ten hour-long, feature-length episodes, instead of twelve or so forty-five-minute segments.  This will take some getting used to for me – after forty-five minutes had passed, my attention span wanted to clock out.  That’s likely due to instinct more than anything else, because the story itself was quite gripping.

For a show all about time and space travel, I was initially quite confused about the passage of time and space in this first episode.  Timeskips, however brief, weren’t very obvious, and it seemed weird that two characters could be out in the middle of the woods at one moment, and suddenly appear standing in an apparently locked train car who knows how far away in the next.

Additionally, until now, Doctor Who’s contemporary scenes were often set in London.  The Doctor quite literally fell from the sky and landed in Sheffield, in the Yorkshire region.  After years of attuning my ears to Rose Tyler’s cockney and Clara’s Blackpoolian, I must retrain my ears to understand Yorkshire.  The Doctor’s new diction fits right in, too.

An interesting change, though more of a throwback to the Classic Who setup, is the near-ensemble cast of supporting characters.  It appears that the Doctor will once again be inviting more than one companion to travel with her this season: we’re introduced to Ryan Sinclair, a young man who struggles with hand-eye coordination issues; his step-grandfather, Graham, who used to be a bus driver; and Ryan’s old school chum, Yasmin (Yaz, for short), who’s a rookie officer at the Sheffield police department.

With New Who, the exclusivity of the Doctor-companion relationship until now has always struck me as a bit awkward.  The Doctor has traveled primarily with female companions; when the companions’ boyfriends were involved, the Doctor regarded them as third-wheels or worse, idiots.  Now, with Ryan, Yaz, and Graham, it seems like there’s potential for more of a family affair with Graham as the wise elder and the Doctor as kind of a parental figure to Yaz and Ryan.  Without spoiling much, Ryan especially could use a new maternal role model in his life right now.

The season seems also slightly darker in tone.  I’m uncertain if this will happen each week, but this week’s episode was essentially an intergalactic murder mystery with plenty of gripping moments.  What can I say?  That seems to be Chris Chibnall’s specialty!

While it’s likely the Doctor themself will remain an incorrigible pacifist, Chibnall does not shy away from depicting onscreen violence when plot-appropriate.  Plus, the creepout factor of this week’s monster (“Tim Shaw”) felt on par with the first time we saw the Cybermen in action during David Tennant’s tenure.  In that respect, my little Whovian hearts are singing.

All in all, it seems to me that Series 11 of Doctor Who is off to a compelling start.  My initial fear that the Doctor’s gender-change would be used as a sociopolitical soapbox has been assuaged for the moment.  I’m looking forward to seeing where this season goes.

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The erudite detective Sherlock Holmes was first brought to life on film as a tall, serene, and hawkishly-featured British gentleman by actor Basil Rathbone in the 1940s.  His original onscreen adventure series was set in the late 1800s, culminating in a timeskip to the 1940s, when Holmes valiantly combated the Axis Powers during World War II.  As difficult as that is to imagine, Rathbone portrayed the character convincingly throughout all the eras – in my opinion, he was the spitting image of Sidney Paget’s illustrations in The Strand that accompanied the original Conan Doyle serialized stories.

original-sidney-pagetIf you go into Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie expecting a Rathbone-esque performance, you’re going to be disappointed.  I can’t tell you to lower your expectations; simply alter them.  Just as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation got to step inside the shoes (and cloak) of the famous detective, it is time for Tony Stark to do the same.

You heard me right.  Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes in this version, as a scruffy inventor and action hero who’s made up of both brawn and brain.  In all seriousness, it’s as if Tony Stark walked the earth during the Victorian era, and had deductive reasoning instead of a supersuit.

The story is slow to start.  The first forty-five minutes are disjointed attempts at exposition, perhaps trying to prove how Holmes is distinctly different and yet the still same old Holmes readers have known and loved.  He plays his violin, he has a lab where he conducts occasionally catastrophic experiments, and he has an affinity for boxing.  Perhaps it is the highlighting of these seemingly minute aspects of the character, and the way they are presented, that sets this iteration of Holmes apart from others. All these elements were always there, but they present themselves abrasively in an impish way.

By his side (reluctantly, it seems,) is Dr. Watson, played by Jude Law. (Remember the days when Jude Law was in everything?)  His Watson is refreshingly serious, and in my opinion, very respectful of his on-page counterpart.  Watson’s more than a puppylike sidekick and he’s certainly not solely there to be comic relief. (Holmes does that by himself.)

It takes a lot for Watson to lose patience with Holmes, but in this film, he finally does.  His participation in Holmes’ adventures is grudging, and he learns to be both blunt with and accepting of his flatmate as his character moves on in life.  He’s certainly the most traditional Holmesian character in this film; I have no complaints about this take on Watson.

Irene Adler’s also here; she’s the Pepper Potts of this film, honestly.  Can’t have a movie without a romantic subplot of some kind, I suppose.  Things are dysfunctional as ever between Holmes and the American con-woman, but at least they’re relatively PG-rated compared to Moffat and Gatiss’s interpretation of the character.  Again, this is an aspect of authentic Holmesian lore that was always there, but they’re being far less subtle about it.

Finally, the foreshadowing sprinkled throughout the exposition starts coming together.  We meet our main antagonist, Blackwood, who looks far more Rathbonian than our Sherlock … and is practically a vampire. Or a zombie.  Or (in the possession of) a very good alchemist.  You’re left guessing until the very end, though I’ll admit I was on the side of science the whole time. 😀

Much like the original Tomb Raider films, the antagonist of this film appears to be part of an Illuminati-like cult. Adding to the ooh, scary factor is their penchant for decorating their artifacts with Hebrew letters that spell out total gibberish. (I don’t know if I should feel amused, offended, or really anything at all about this.)

Once the action picks up, the movie plays out quite a bit like a puzzle game, where you are left to watch Holmes work through it at whichever speed the director desires.  There’s plenty that they try to show you to keep you distracted from the game afoot, but honestly, I’d figured out the resolution a long time before; it was a matter of confirming the direction this already controversial take on Sherlock Holmes was going.

The most satisfying part of the resolution, for me, is the hero’s monologue. (See, the villain couldn’t deliver it himself, he was … indisposed. That’s all I’ll say.)  It’s always satisfying to read about Holmes do that; seeing it was even better.

The very note upon which the film ends is a satisfying one, despite an “Oh wait, there’s more,” moment alluding to a future antagonist’s identity.  But for such a disorganized beginning, the story ties itself up nicely.

I’m not mad about the film from a Sherlockian perspective.  It tries to mess with you by being different, but I found these differences refreshing.  From a storytelling perspective, however, the plot’s flow is quite aggravating.  Nevertheless, I cannot deny that to me, it’s a unique but ultimately faithful telling of a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

First Impressions: RWBY Volume 6: Adam Character Short

First Impressions: RWBY Volume 6: Adam Character Short

 

Meesa back!

With RWBY Volume 6 on the horizon, Rooster Teeth Animations just dropped the Adam Taurus character short.  Perhaps one of the more underutilized characters of the post-Beacon arc, I was especially excited to see where this video would take us in terms of his origin story, character development, and where things stand as of Volume 5’s end.

But first, a word from Kerry Shawcross and another gentleman I don’t recognize, who want you to know that there’s a new webseries called Nomad of Nowhere.  (Well, to anyone who’s seen it, is it any good?  On a scale of RWBY to Camp-Camp, how does it score in terms of family-friendliness?)

The ensuing character short seems to take us through several different timeframes, though the transitions become increasingly ambiguous as events progress.  Some of the highlights of this video, in my opinion, are Adam’s apparent aesthetic evolution and the prominent appearances of Sienna Khan, chieftain of the White Fang (after Ghira, then deposed most unceremoniously by Adam in Volume 5).

The combat situations highlight Sienna’s and Adam’s fighting styles splendidly.  (Adam’s Moonslice semblance move still gives me painful flashbacks from Volume 3!)  Ilia’s contributions to the offense, however, reflect the Volume 5 animators’ seemingly bad habit of letting characters who aren’t currently in the spotlight just stand there, frozen, like sitting duck-faunuses (see 4:29 in the YouTube video).

Towards the end of the video, the footage shown starts to feel like recycled footage or deleted scenes from Volume 5.  Some of it adds context, such as Sienna Khan’s promise to Adam that if he keeps fighting the good fight, he’ll get to stand beside her throne.  Clearly, she knew that despite Adam’s protestations and declarations of fealty to the Faunus cause, he is motivated most by his lust for power.  Her mistake was thinking being second to her was enough for Adam….

One very, very obvious point that the animators hint at, at the beginning and end of the short, is the fact that we have never actually seen Adam’s face.  Heck, I’m so used to seeing Adam masked that it’s practically part of his face!  As the short closes, we see a defeated Adam (defeated by the mere sight of Blake angrily waving her hands around, I guess) stumbling away, his mask discarded on the ground behind him.

…Which oh, so subtly behooves us to ask: what’s the deal with Adam’s face?  What’s he been hiding behind that mask?  My guess is a perfectly normal pair of SILVER eyes and, oh, maybe a nose.

Or this. (Image source: “Calwings” – Know Your Meme)

 

As painfully unsubtle as they are when it comes to this sort of thing, Rooster Teeth are still the unsung conductors of the Hype Train.  (They could also teach Rian Johnson of The Last Jedi infamy a thing or two about subverting expectations.)  So whether or not it actually happens (*cough* Jaune’s semblance *cough*), I can conclude that they really want us to expect to see Adam’s full face in the upcoming volume.

Tom Raider (2018) starring Alicia Vikander

Tom Raider (2018) starring Alicia Vikander

Full disclosure, I’ve never played a Tomb Raider game in my life.  But I remember when the original movies came out; and I’ve been told numerous times that its protagonist, Lara Croft, is practically Lady Indiana Jones.  This film has piqued my curiosity ever since I started getting ads for it on Instagram. 😀

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft

Recently, I tried watching the original 2001 Tomb Raider film with Angelina Jolie.  I found the first 20 minutes of it to be thoroughly unpleasant.  I ended up skipping over several uncomfortable minutes of straight-up objectification of Lara Croft’s unnervingly Barbie-like physique before I gave up entirely.  (She can look like whatever she pleases; what I take issue with is the objectification.)  This aspect of Lara’s presentation seemed to overshadow the archeological quest premise they were leading into — which sounded incredibly silly. The Illuminati, really?  Perhaps kitsch and camp are elements retained from the videogames; I wouldn’t know, but as a new viewer with a background in Indiana Jones movies, I wasn’t buying it.

 

The 2018 version made me feel a lot better. Tall, gangling Alicia Vikander strikes me as a much more respectable and respectful Lara.  By that, I mean she is portrayed in a way that respects women, and she is also a character who grows throughout the film to command respect.

The film introduces Lara as a young woman earning minimum wage as a bicycle courier in London; her father, Lord Richard Croft, been missing for the past seven years, but Lara refuses to presume him dead as the rest of the world has, thus depriving herself of a tremendous inheritance.  A series of unfortunate events convinces her to sign the papers acknowledging her father’s death and finally accepting her inheritance: the first item from it being an ancient puzzle box from her father.

This puzzle box unlocks a sequence of clues pointing to the circumstances of Lord Richard’s disappearance: his lifelong quest for the mythical tomb of the Japanese Queen Himiko, legendary for her ability to kill whole armies with the touch of her hand!  Lara travels the world to find her father’s last known location, find that tomb, and (of course) raid it.

The character lives on the wild side, but her initial, introductory exploits and conflicts seem more real-worldly.  Everything is so grounded.  This is clearly a serious adventure film, dare I say a grittier, genderbent Indiana Jones film — a delightful contrast to the pulpy content viewers accepted in 2001.

While Jolie’s Croft was apparently well on in her tomb-raiding years, Vikander’s Croft is young, naive, and vulnerable.  This is her origin story on a personal level just as much as it’s an introduction to this iteration of her character, so as a viewer I found her much easier to connect with.  In this Lara Croft’s character development arc, there are moments where I expected cinematic drama, but instead, events played out with a lot less pizzazz; with real-world emotional responses like subtle, numb shock when she is made to confront her father’s alleged killer.  Unlike the typical problematic “strong female characters” of the modern age, Lara is neither overemotional to the point of weakness, nor an overcompensating half-Vulcan.

Lara, with an iconic weapon: a bow and arrows

There are, however, plenty of other moments that played out like a videogame might, where liberties are thrillingly taken with the laws of physics.  Lara’s athleticism is explained away by an active lifestyle back home, working as a bicycle courier during the day and boxing recreationally.   But falling into a river from the height she did halfway through the film would probably kill someone!

Like a 3D model in a videogame, Lara only sustains so many superficial injuries as is aesthetically pleasing; and yet, there are moments where it’s clear she’s trudging on despite the obvious pain she’s in.  As this movie is based on a computer game, I’m not complaining too much.  Unrealistic physics is far better “fan service” to the gamer demographic than what the 2001 movie had to offer.

The movie ends on a very satisfying note, yet it leaves just enough room for continuation without sounding desperate.  What sets this Lara’s story apart from that of her male counterpart, Indiana Jones, is how her quest resolves itself in (pseudo)science, while Indy is shown that in his world, supernatural “hocus pocus” is real.  That was a plus for me, as I don’t enjoy supernatural, spiritual content in films.

Overall, I enjoyed this relatively wholesome film adaptation of a videogame franchise I’ve never played.  Alicia Vikander, to me, is Lara Croft as she should be for the new generation of gamers, geeks, and little girls who could use a more relatable globe-trotting hero to go alongside Indiana Jones.

Back to the Future, Re-Imagined for Young Readers

Back to the Future, Re-Imagined for Young Readers

I received a free copy of this book from Beyond the Marquee, as part of a giveaway they ran in collaboration with Quirk Books.

Back to the Future is one of my favorite sci-fi / time travel movie franchises of all time.  (Sorry, Doctor Who, but you’d best stick to television.)  The three-part film series follows the intertemporal exploits of eighties-born teenager Marty McFly and his mad scientist mentor “Doc” Emmet Brown in their time-traveling DeLorean — because if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?  (I happen to think phone boxes are fairly non-heinous myself, but nobody asked me…)

There are a few reasons why the original film (and then its sequel) might not be ideal for viewing by the youngest members of a family.  It’s rated PG-13 for good reason, and its sequels venture into even darker territory.  But great Scott! Worry not, because the first installment of the Back to the Future film trilogy is now available in storybook form, re-imagined for an audience of children (or collectors who are children at heart).

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Art credit: Kim Smith

Back to the Future, written and illustrated by Kim Smith, is just one volume in the POP Classics storybook series from Quirk Books.  Other titles include Home Alone, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The X-Files, sources that range from family-friendly to made the kids hide behind the couch in terms of mature or disturbing content.  At first glance, Kim Smith’s charmingly whimsical illustrations and the easy-to-read blocks of text stand out as incredibly kid-friendly.  The story is condensed in all the right places for optimum G-rated-ness (the scene where Biff attacks Lorraine during prom night is handled particularly effectively), and then some to improve the flow.

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Art credit: Kim Smith

At my age, with no one to read it to, I enjoyed occasionally chuckling at what and how the book abridged, and marveling over the resplendent little details Smith included in the pictures.  Just because they aren’t talked about doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  I’m also very impressed that someone had the great idea of making these very mature fandoms palatable to a young audience. (Do I like the potential consequence that now these kids will be more inclined to consume the original, less kid-friendly media in the future?  Not as much.)

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Art credit: Kim Smith

Adults can’t be expected to immerse themselves fulltime in the Teletubby fandom alongside the toddlers in their lives.  Sometimes they’re going to turn on the TV and watch something more grownup-appropriate, coincidentally in front of their children.  And kids are perceptive and inquisitive, so you may find yourself having to explain the premise of a show that’s waaaay over their heads.  In that respect, I feel it’s especially good for younger kids who clearly have some exposure to “grownup” fandoms they don’t fully understand.

I think POP Classic storybooks like Back to the Future are a great way parents or older siblings can bond with the young, aspiring geeks in their lives.  The story is told in a cute, quirky, kid-friendly way, but due to its novelty factor, the book can surely be appreciated at any age.

 

What movie or television series would you like to see adapted into a children’s book?  Let us know in a comment down below!

The Charmed Ones are Back

The Charmed Ones are Back

Like a witch in a room full of warlocks, no popular franchise is safe in the golden age of reboots.

Alyssa Milano (Phoebe), Shannen Doherty (Prue), and Holly Marie Combs (Piper)

The original Charmed ran from 1998 to 2006, depicting the ever-changing lives of three magical sisters (at a time) and showed that witches, just like everyone else, are human and need to be loved.

Twenty years after the original premiered, the CW channel has announced that they are producing a reboot, featuring an all-new cast for the new generation.

The new series trailer, released on May 17th, really piqued my interest.  It prompts classic fans to ask questions like “Why are there only two sisters in the beginning?” and answers them in due time.  It also does a great job at reminding old fans of key points in the sisters’ origin story and showing us how they’ve been rearranged for this new iteration.  The trailer also flows like a condensed pilot episode, but still leaves enough to be revealed in a full episode.

Instead of Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), and eventually Paige (played by Rose McGowan) Halliwell, this series revolves the three Vera sisters Macy, Mel, and Maggie: Read more

Willow: Sequel Speculations

Willow: Sequel Speculations

This seems to be the year of eighties movie reboots … and reboot hints.  Recently, following the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ron Howard revealed in an interview that he’s considering directing a sequel to his 1988 fantasy movie, Willow.

Willow, a collaboration with George Lucas and Lucasfilm, told the story of the eponymous young Nelwyn (dwarf … or, let’s be honest, Hobbit) (Warwick Davis) on a quest to protect a magical baby whose birth is prophesied to trigger the downfall of the realm’s evil sorceress queen, Bavmorda (Jean Marsh).  Willow and baby Elora are accompanied by the roguish swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), and a comic relief duo of brownies, Rool and Franjean.  (I actually discovered Willow through the Japanese tie-in arcade game – a bit like Ella Enchanted the movie versus the book, they exist in my mind as entirely different stories which share names.)

Willow was a fine standalone movie, with plenty of swashbuckling, fantastical moments and just the right amounts of comic relief, but I wouldn’t say no to a sequel.  We seem to be living in the golden age of reboots … or the gilded age, as a friend of mine aptly puts it.  Might as well make the most of things, you know?

But this wouldn’t be the first time Willow was given a sequel treatment.  In the 1990s, George Lucas commissioned none other than Chris Claremont to pen The Chronicles of the Shadow War Trilogy.  These books centered around Elora Danan who (spoilers) didn’t die at Bavmorda’s hands, and lived to be a teenager.  Her adopted parents, Madmartigan and Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha, did not make it past the first act.  Willow got a name change, “Thorn Drumheller,” for reasons that remain unclear to me.  Also, there were dragons!

Aside from the inclusion of said dragons, I’m not a fan of the direction these books went; knowing Lucasfilm, I doubt the writers of this prospective sequel will be at all hindered by their existence.  Willow’s expanded universe is small compared to that of Star Wars (aka the Legends books).  Surely the fanbase won’t miss one trilogy of books where the (undeniably) best characters died a few chapters in!

Regarding this potential film sequel, Ron Howard thinks “it would focus a lot on Elora Danan, although Willow would have to be significantly involved.”  That premise sounds like a very similar starting point to The Shadow War, but the possibilities about how it continues from there are endless.  Where the modern Star Wars and Indiana Jones sequels revisited elements of the protagonists’ pasts for nostalgia’s sake, I think it would be wise to keep moving forward with Willow.  Most of the conflicts of the original film were resolved by the end: the antagonists were defeated, the gigantic monsters were slain, and the heroes lived happily ever after.  I think the ideal sequel would expand on the world of the first Willow film, introducing us to new realms and a new set of conflicts that are nothing like what we have seen before.

Elora (right)

Assuming most, if not all of the surviving key players of the first movie would be set to return, there remains the question: Who would play Elora now?  In Shadow War, Elora (as illustrated by fantasy artist Ciruelo Cabral) was a teenager, pictured with dark hair as opposed to the curly blond ringlets of her infancy.  In terms of fancasting, I’m gravitating towards Dafne Keene (of Logan fame).  Appearance-wise, I think Miss Keene fits the bill, and I imagine she’ll definitely be old enough to play the teenage heroine by the time this project is greenlit, if ever.  The older Elora is, the easier it will be to realistically explain the age disparities of the original cast between Willow and the sequel.

 

What do you guys think of this potential sequel?  Have you seen the original Willow movie?  In general, what do you think of Hollywood’s current obsession with remakes and reboots?  Leave a comment below!

4 TV Shows That Ended Too Soon

4 TV Shows That Ended Too Soon

This past week, fans of the Brooklin Nine-Nine TV series went from totally devastated to immensely relieved when the show was dropped by the Fox channel … and picked up soon after by NBC.  Tragedy is often the catalyst for unity, even in realm of fandoms and geekery.  In the tense hours after the initial unfortunate cancellation announcement, at the prompting of author Paul Kreuger (@NotLikeFreddy) on Twitter, people came together to commiserate and fondly remember other wonderful shows that were sadly cancelled way too soon.  In no particular order, here are my picks:

 

Agent Carter

In the 21st century, Captain America was rescued from a cryogenic state by the modern-day SHIELD organization and became one of the founding members of the Avengers.  But back in 1942, Peggy Carter, Cap’s girlfriend, believed him to be dead.   The Agent Carter TV series on ABC picked up where Peggy’s story left off, and really allowed for the character to shine on her own.

From the way she was introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, you could tell she wasn’t merely a damsel in distress, and that she was perfectly capable of holding her own, but Agent Carter dove deeper.  I really got to know Peggy as an individual, not the sidekick, love interest of a superhero, or the one-dimensional “strong female character” archetype we see so often.  While most of her make counterparts at the SRS (a precursor to SHIELD) failed to take her seriously because of her gender, this series showed its modern-day viewers just how strong and independent a heroine Peggy Carter is.  Her superpowers?  Courage and resourcefulness.

Agent Carter also introduced some loveable side characters like Howard Stark’s endearingly awkward butler Edwin Jarvis (sounds familiar, right?); and Peggy’s co-worker and ally, Sousa, who also understands what it’s like to be discriminated against in the workplace.

The first season covered the devious machinations of the Leviathan organization; the Red Room where Natasha Romanoff would eventually become a/the Black Widow; and Peggy’s grief in the immediate aftermath of Captain America’s presumed death.  It was so gripping — I may or may not have binged it over the course of a week….  The plot took several unexpected turns, some devastating, some positively exhilarating, and many both.

When the second season came out, there was a noticeable change of pace and setting.  In terms of a villain arc, we went from dark, gruesome subject matter to … plain old dark matter.  Perhaps to combat the cliché of two women tearing each other down to make any progress in their lives, the villainess of this season, glamorous actress and struggling scientist Whitney Frost (aka Madame Mask in the comics), is portrayed in an almost sympathetic light despite her nefarious schemes.  (She, too, wasn’t taken seriously as a scientist by her male counterparts, and took to acting … and manipulating them instead.)

While Peggy got some closure in terms of love and prospective marriage, the season ended on an overall lackluster note.  (Something about a ragtag team of grown adults playing tug-of-war with a rift in space just didn’t cut it for me.)  But was it egregious enough to constitute axing the series?  As someone who’s sat through worse on The Flash and Supergirl, I really don’t think so.

 

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

BBC America and Netflix partnered to produce this hilarious (and shamelessly gory) ball of wibbly-wobbly, Wholockian stuff.  Based on the writings of Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker fame), Dirk Gently tells a story fraught with time travel, mystery-solving, gore, comedy, gore, and did I mention gore?  (It’s not for the faint of heart.)  Bringing together a cast of seemingly unrelated characters to investigate a series of seemingly unrelated events, we quickly learn that everything is connected.

British actor Samuel Barnett plays the delightfully weird, Doctor Who-like “holistic detective” (read: socially inept, wannabe mystery solver with an unnatural knack for discovering clues) Dirk Gently.  His sidekick is cynical, foul-mouthed Todd Brontzman, played by Elijah Wood (who hasn’t aged a day since he played Frodo in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films).

In their quest to solve the mystery of a wealthy, reclusive businessman, Todd and Dirk cross paths with “holistic killer” Bart Curlish (played by Fiona Dourif of Chucky fame) and her unwilling companion, techie Ken (Mpho Koaho); and a grouchy, middle-aged man who seems obsessed with a dead Rockstar.  All of that might sound positively strange, but watch on if you dare, because everything is, indeed, connected….

Like Agent Carter, the show was cancelled after its second season.  The first season was so good, it’s understandable if the writers found it hard to top.  The first season was just the right balance of weirdness and humor, focusing more on the story itself than character development.  The second season struck me as more character-oriented, and it ventured into all the more outlandish and otherworldly territory in terms of the setting.

 

Stargate: Atlantis

Atlantis, in my opinion, was the best Stargate series of them all.  As someone who grew up around people who enjoyed Stargate: SG-1, Atlantis felt like a refreshing new take on a familiar concept that I could appreciate on my own … with my SG-1-loving older friends and family, of course!  I don’t think I can pick a single favorite character from the wonderful ensemble cast; they all grew on me, and there was onscreen chemistry all around.

SG-1 lasted for a good ten seasons; Atlantis lasted only five.  The ending felt so rushed and underwhelming.  You could tell the team wasn’t ready to fly back to Earth and live out the rest of their days simply wondering what else lay in store for them in the Pegasus galaxy.

Joe Flanigan, who played John Sheppard, apparently tried to buy the rights to the franchise from Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer so that he could step into the role of showrunner, but was unsuccessful.  Still, if you’re into reading, the Atlantis saga continues in the form of books.  Fandemonium published the Legacy series, where the Atlantis crew flies back to the Pegasus galaxy for more adventures….

 

Star Trek: The Original Series

If you’re as much of a Trekkie as I am, surely the opening montage has been ingrained in your memory from hearing it countless times.  Captain Kirk promised us a five year mission, not three.  (Picard was wise to vaguely present a continuing mission in The Next Generation.)  Having heard about it my entire life from my parents and grandparents, I started watching Star Trek in my first year of junior high school, and the episodes ran out far too soon.

So many TV shows today (including the new Star Trek: Discovery) are episodic, and if they’re on Netflix, they’re meant to be watched consecutively.  (Search your feelings; you know it to be true.)  Star Trek: TOS was something you could watch in no particular order – just pick out an episode that sounds interesting from title alone (“The Man Trap,” anyone?) – and you won’t be lost in context.  Plus, there’s something altogether quite endearing about a show set in the space age … where everything’s just so progressive, but everybody’s dressed like they’re from the sixties.

Star Trek was revolutionary for its time; perhaps those who didn’t understand it couldn’t put up with another two years of man-eating aliens made from shag carpets and the captain’s thespian, morale-boosting deliveries.  Half a century and five official spinoffs later, evidently, people can.

There have been numerous fan attempts at continuing the original USS Enterprise’s five year mission.  The best yet, in my opinion, is Vic Mignogna’s Star Trek Continues webseries.  (You might recognize him as the voice actor of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and drunk uncle Qrow Branwen in RWBY.)  As CBS started cracking down on fan productions in anticipation of Star Trek: Discovery, the crew of Continues successfully toed the line long enough to wrap up an eleven-episode series that effectively bridged the gap between The Original Series and Star Trek: The [Slow] Motion Picture. 🙂

 

Those are just a few of my favorite shows that I feel ended way too soon. What are some of yours?  Grab some tissues and leave a comment below!