D: The Devil Commands (1941)

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We don’t hear much about William Milligan Sloane III these days. He wasn’t a terribly prolific writer, and most of his output was in the 1930s. He started as a playwright, and eventually published two novels combining science fiction and horror – To Walk the Night  and The Edge of Running Water – that are still being reissued to this day. I first ran across Sloane when I was helping my childhood friends pack, around 1970, I think, and his father had a copy of To Walk the Night. It had a striking cover, and a writer I had never heard of before. I decided to find a copy, but inter-library loans weren’t a thing – it probably didn’t help that I got that novel confused with Running Water. Then I found out that had been made into a movie starring Boris Karloff, which I bought on DVD back in those halcyon days when everything was coming out on DVD, and then I decided to wait until I was 60 years old to watch it. (As we know, I try to do a Boris Karloff movie every Hubrisween)

Dr. Julian Blair (Karloff) Has invited his colleagues to witness his exciting new invention, the EEG. (I kid. The electroencephalogram was first used on humans in 1923 and was only beginning to be experimented with as a medical tool in the 30s, when Sloane wrote this) The device, using a bizarre helmet and a lot of electricity (yay! a jacob’s ladder!) draws the pattern of his assistant’s brain on an enormous graph. Blair tells his impressed fellow scientists that each brain pattern is different, but as individual as fingerprints, as he demonstrates on his wife, Helen (Shirley Warde) who has one of the strongest brain waves he’s recorded.

Alas, that very evening, Helen is killed in an auto accident. Bereft after the funeral and unwilling to go back to their home, he goes to his lab and turns on his equipment, just for distraction…  and Helen’s brain wave begins to etch on the giant graph, even though she was buried that morning. No one believes Blair, not even his concerned daughter Anne (Amanda Duff), except for his manservant, Karl (Cy Schindell) who has been seeing a medium to speak to his deceased mother.

Intrigued, Blair accompanies Karl to a seance run by Mrs. Walters (Anne Revere). Blair easily sees through her fakery, but cannot explain the high voltage he felt through the table, sitting next to her. Experiments find that Mrs. Walters can absorb a high amount of electricity with no harm, and in fact while hooked up to Blair’s equipment (and bolstered by Karl as an extra resistor), Helen’s brain wave does indeed register again – but unfortunately the high voltage cooks Karl’s brain.

Walters realizes that Blair is onto a discovery that will make him very, very rich, and decides she wants in on it. They escape to a remote house near a harbor, guarded by the now brutish Karl, and years pass. The local sheriff (Kenneth MacDonald) comes calling one night because A) people are talking, and B) dead bodies have been missing lately. Mrs. Walters sends him away brusquely, but he prevails on the housekeeper, Mrs. Marcy (Dorothy Adams) to sneak into that forbidden lab and see what’s what. This she does, to find that Blair has moved up to a table with six of his ungainly apparati, he’s upgraded from jacob’s ladders to neon, and those suits contain the missing corpses. In a panic, she accidentally turns on the devices, and a glowing vortex opens in the table, drawing everything toward it. The corpses are strapped down. She isn’t.

Things are really moving to a head now. Mrs. Marcy’s husband (Walter Baldwin) doesn’t buy the evidence planted that his wife fell off a cliff into the harbor and starts putting together a lynch mob, Anne has finally tracked down her father, and… gosh, things just don’t turn out very well.

The Devil Commands is directed by Edward Dmytryk early in his career – he’d later go on to better known fare like Back to Bataan, The Caine Mutiny,  and Warlock. His direction is crisp and clean, and he wisely spends most of his camera time on Karloff and Revere. Karloff is his usual greatness at a role in which he excelled – an utter madman whose mania is absolutely understandable. Even when he is suggesting something dreadful, he seems considerate and caring, and by the final act of the picture he is visibly tortured by the terrible things he’s done. Anne Revere pulls off the neat trick of being a match for Karloff – her Mrs. Walters is one of the great Lady Macbeths of the screen, willing to cut through anything and anybody to make sure Blair will produce the breakthrough that will be her road to riches.

You know. THIS guy.

The most unusual thing is seeing Kenneth MacDonald as the sheriff, who is a calm, collected officer of the law who’s just trying to make sure everything is peaceful in his town. Like me, you’re probably more used to seeing MacDonald as the bad guy in Three Stooges shorts. Blair’s assistant and Anne’s love interest Richard Fiske is called upon to do little more than be concerned and chauffeur Anne around, and poor Anne isn’t even that interesting.

The tone of the movie is a little more elevated, a bit more thoughtful than Universal’s horror offerings. At a brief 65 minutes, it doesn’t have a chance to wear out its welcome, though it does come close. And even as a lesser known Karloff movie, it bears checking out.

Not really a trailer, but what do you want for free?

 

C: The Color Out of Space (2010)

Letterboxd ♠ Master List

“The Colour Out of Space” was my introduction to H.P. Lovecraft, via a thick gray book with the inventive title A Science Fiction Anthology. I was 12 or 13 – reading far beyond my age range – and though I was at first put off by its length, I persevered, and was absolutely terrified. Movie adaptations of Lovecraft are a pretty hard sell for me, with a lot of misses and a few hits (most of those being the obvious ones directed by Stuart Gordon), so The Color Out of Space came as a pleasant surprise.

It’s Arkham, 1975, and Jonathan Davis (Ingo Heise) is looking for his missing father. The investigating officer (conveniently named Ward – Alexander Sebastian Curd Schuster) finds that the man suddenly went to Germany, where he served during the post WWII settlement. Davis hastily flies to the forest region where his father was stationed, to find that the valley is about to be flooded by a new dam, and only the elderly still live in the nearby village. None of them recognize his father – until he literally runs into Armin Pierske (Michael Kausch), who recognizes the photo of his dad in his 1945 uniform.

Armin met the elder Davis when he returned from the Russian front to find the Army appropriating his farmhouse for refugees. He warns the Americans away from the neighboring valley because “It looks like it’s still happening,” which causes the squad to take him along to check it out . Armin is not surprised that his old acquaintance returned to the valley. “Once you see the colour, it is hard to forget.”

The bulk of the movie is Armin’s re-telling of what happened in that valley in the days just before WWII. A meteorite crashes into the Gärtner farm, and the stone’s properties confuse scientists; it radiates constant heat and continually shrinks, despite not producing any gases or ash. All tests are inconclusive, and they continually return for new samples, until they discover an oddly-colored sphere at the center of the bizarre rock, which shatters and disappears once tapped. And so the troubles begin.

Crops on the Gärtner farm begin to grow like crazy, producing huge fruit that is still blighted. Frau Gärtner begins to act oddly, eventually locked up in a room in the attic. One of the boys returns from the well screaming about lights. Trees seem to move on their own, with no apparent wind. The only person who still speaks to the increasingly beleaguered family is Armin, their immediate neighbor – and when he doesn’t hear from them for two weeks, he fearfully walks up to that darkened house.

This is a remarkably faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s novella. Pre-War rural Germany is a good analog for Lovecraft’s backwoods locale, and the decision to make the movie in black-and-white is effective. I think you can deduce what the only thing in color in the movie is going to be, and it’s perhaps unfortunate that Lovecraft’s protagonists always have to see the indescribable indefinable unknowable, and filmmakers have to show that, and they will never be able to afford what that looks like in our heads.

The only other false note for me is a last-minute attempt to put a twist in the story for those of us familiar with it, which led me to have too many questions, but past that: Good adaptation. Recommended.

B: Below (2002)

Letterboxd ♠ Master List

During WWII, the submarine Tiger Shark is ordered to turn around and pick up three survivors from a torpedoed hospital ship: a nurse (Olivia Williams), a merchant marine (Dexter Fletcher) and a German POW (Jonathan Hartman). Things already aren’t too right on the Tiger Shark. Their commanding officer recently died in an accident, and there are several versions of what happened floating around; the senior officers are covering something up, and the junior officer Odell (Matt Davis) is trying to figure out what actually happened. Worse yet, they are spotted by a Nazi warship while picking up the survivors, and it is not about to give up the chase, using depth charges, grappling hooks, and good old German perseverance.

Or, actually, what is even worse: the vengeful ghost of the ex-captain seems to be bent on making sure that the Tiger Shark will not make it to port.

David Twohy made his mark writing and directing genre-blending movies like the Pitch Black/Riddick movies, and Below is no exception. The central mystery and connected ghost story are absolutely essential, but it can also simply stand on its wartime submarine story; equal care and weight is assigned to both. And watching these entwined stories unfurl is half the fun, if not more, which is why this review is briefer than usual – I don’t want to tromp on your enjoyment. It’s worth noting that Twohy’s co-writer on the script is Darren Aronofsky, who was set to direct but decided to do Requiem for a Dream instead.

You are asked from the very start to keep track of a large ensemble cast, but – being a horror movie – you’re pretty sure you won’t have to be doing that for long. Bruce Greenwood, always a solid actor, gives a truly exceptional performance as the guilt-ridden Captain Brice, and it was surprising to see Zach Galifianakis in an early role as the appropriately-named Weird Wally, who gets points for mentioning the urban legend about riveters getting sealed into the hulls of submarines, which was the basis for the One Step Beyond episode I kept having flashbacks to during my viewing.

Good movie that under-performed at the box office. Give it a shot, it deserves it.

 

A: Arcane Sorcerer (1996)

Letterboxd Master List

Pupi Avati is a director largely known on these shores for a couple of offbeat genre films: Zeder (covered two years ago) and The House with Laughing Windows (which is going to have to wait for the letter H). With typical grace, I stumbled onto this particular movie, and was happy to slot it into the opener for this Hubrisween.

In what appears to be the early 18th century, Vigetti (Stefano Dionisi), a seminary student, makes the double error of seducing a woman, and, even worse, convincing her to abort the resulting child. On the run from Church Inquisitors, he desperately accepts a position acting as a clerk to an excommunicated priest known as the Monsignor, or “The Arcane Sorcerer” (Carlo Cecchi), who lives in seclusion at his ancestral home. The Monsignor was dabbling in forbidden texts, knowledge and rites far too much, but his family is old and powerful, so the Inquisition allows him to live in exile. Merely looking at him will get you excommunicated, too.

And his former clerk, Nerio, has apparently died under mysterious circumstances.

After burying the deceased clerk in unhallowed ground, Vigetti gets down to his duties, which come down to taking coded dictation from the Monsignor, delivering that letter to the nearby House of Lay Sisters (full of failed nuns who can’t go home), from whence it is delivered to some unknown personage – and then assisting Monsignor in some odd, dangerous rites to communicate at a distance with another sorcerer. However, Vigetti has found notes left by Nerio that seem to indicate what the Monsignor has been communicating with is actually a Prince of Hell – and that Nerio seemed to have a plan to magically return from the grave with the assistance of that same devil.

On top of all that, it seems that Nerio had something to do with the disappearance of two of the girls from the convent. Vigetti has a bunch of mysteries to unravel, none of which are made easier by the sudden appearance of an Inquisitor, Don Zanini (Andrea Scorzoni), who aims to use Vigetti’s indiscretion as leverage to discover what dark crimes the Monsignor might actually be committing.

Arcane Sorcerer is long on atmospherics and short on actual shocks – it could be considered possibly the oddest giallo ever. Avati gets a lot of mileage out of actual period locations, and the few studio sets – the cramped interior of the manor, where every wall is a bookshelf, filled to exploding with books, reaching up several stories – are impressive. If you’re looking for an actual horror movie, The Arcane Sorcerer may not fit the bill. But as a rumination on the nature and degrees of sin and forbidden knowledge – and as a weird mystery – it’s pretty good.

THE TIME HAS COME

If you’ve been with us for any length of time, You know that things get a little hectic this time of year. Several sites engage in the strange behavior called Hubrisween, and we are one of them.

Ask for it by name!

What this means is we go through the alphabet, a movie and a review a day, until we wind everything up on Halloween with the letter Z, and probably lots and lots of zombies. There are other Halloween horror marathons, but this one is ours.

Here’s what you have to look forward to – or dread – tomorrow:

If you can’t wait that long, here’s what we did in 2014, 2015, 2016, and last year. That should tide you over until tomorrow morning, surely.

That is, if we survive until morning.

GOD I LOVE THIS SONG

The King of Jazz (1930)

I always forget how hectic August becomes. Probably because I’m usually fixated on just surviving July.

Local Government: Artist’s Interpretation

As some of you know, I put a bit of bread on my table by working tech support at City government meetings, usually meaning sound, sometimes camera. August is the end of the fiscal year, so there’s a lot of budget crunching. Politicians like to be on the TeeVee, so damn near everything must be televised. Ergo, I get a lot of extra work in August. Whereas the money is extremely welcome, there is nothing that clears away the movie malaise I spoke of last time, like hearing a politician going off on the same subject a third time while the legal department tries once more to explain to them why something is being done the way it is being done.

Look, I already know I’m not going to get to watch every movie I want, or read every book, and I begin to actively resent anybody who willfully steals more of my dwindling hours on earth.

That is a major portion of the reason for my absence from this digital page; another is the approach of October, and the return of the traditional Hubrisween event. I am usually much further along on that project, and its time to buckle up, down, or under, or whatever the appropriate figure of speech might be. TL;DR: don’t expect anything on a regular basis from me until October, when you’re going to get heartily sick of me.

That being said, I actually managed to watch a movie! I did something!

Who…? What…?

Criterion recently put out a blu-ray of 1930’s The King of Jazz. Now, I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about film as I’d like to be, so Criterion putting out a movie I’ve never heard of is not unusual. On top of that, I’m not an aficionado of jazz, but I could have sworn that the King of Jazz was somebody like Duke Ellington. But, you know, it’s Criterion, so it’s going to be worth a watch on some level.

The King of Jazz, in this case, is Paul Whiteman. As mentioned earlier, I’m not a particular fan of jazz – I find it listenable, by and large, but other musical genres are closer to my heart. So I’d never even heard of Paul Whiteman. Since my viewing, I’ve done some research. He was quite popular in the 20s and 30s, where he picked up the sobriquet, and still has some renown as a band leader and musical arranger. His was the orchestra that premiered Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, and that orchestra was the farm team for musicians like the Dorseys, Benny Goodman, and and Bix Biederbecke. The aforementioned Duke Ellington speaks well of him. Jazz, as we have come to know it today, has a lot to do with improvisation; the jazz that Whiteman is monarch of is best described as “syncopated dance music”. Perhaps literally, white man’s jazz.

Not the King of Jazz I was expecting.

Hollywood had been trying to do a Paul Whiteman movie for years, with various starts and stops. This was apparently going to be a typical romantic comedy with musical interludes, but after many delays John Murray Anderson took over and made it a revue, complete with comedy blackouts and a cartoon. It’s an early two-strip Technicolor movie, and that opening cartoon is the first in that process; it’s made by Universal’s house animator, Walter Lantz, which animation mavens will instantly deduce from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s cameo.

The King of Jazz cost $2 million to make – and that’s two million in 1930 dollars – and was a colossal flop. After The Jazz Singer broke movies’ silence in 1927, there was an absolute glut of musicals. By this time, ticket buyers were sick of them, and apparently they absolutely hated revues. Which is too bad, because – much as I hate musicals – I actually wound up enjoying King of Jazz. The music is quite good, but it’s the audacity of the visuals – most of them quite trippy to my jaded eyes – that take it over the top.

Wait… where’s the King?

The first big number is “My Bridal Veil”, where a young bride, on the eve of her wedding, witnesses a costume parade of brides from every period of time. This is some gothic romance woman-in-nightgown-running-from-spooky-manse-with-one-light-on-in-the-upper-story stuff, but it’s played for pure spectacle and sentiment. One reviewer has mentioned it primarily exists for the elderly people in the audience. On the cusp of elderly myself, I can safely say that what 1930 needed was either more heavy metal or more techno.

One of the prize gems in Whiteman’s crown, Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is introduced by several men playing a giant grand piano; the lid raises, and the orchestra is lifted up from within the piano (there is a lot of that 2 million on the screen).

“Ragamuffin Romeo” is an impressive contortionist dance number with a beggar putting together a girlfriend from scraps of fabric. It impresses mainly as a tribute to dancer Marion Stattler’s acrobatic abilities and flexibility.

John Boles was Universal’s big male vocalist at the time, and he gets a couple of solos, but the singer you’re going to notice – if you didn’t notice him in the Rhapsody clip above – is in Whiteman’s vocal trio, The Rhythm Boys – a very young Bing Crosby. In fact, Crosby was going to get one of what was ultimately Boles’ solos – “The Song of the Dawn” – but der Bingle was in jail for drunk driving at the time of filming.

The big final production number is perhaps the most egregious to modern eyes – every single form of white music in the world – from Scottish bagpipes to Spanish flamenco to Russian balalaikas (and their associated dancers) are lowered smiling into an enormous boiling cauldron and out of that soup Whiteman conjures – jazz music.

I am frankly skeptical of this origin story.

(The color here is sadly inferior to the new remastered version, but what do you want from YouTube?)

It’s 1930, and though Whiteman wanted to use black musicians, this was not allowed. There is only one person of color in the entire movie, a little girl in traditional pickaninny garb who is used, not actually as a punch line, but more a punctuation mark (There is one dancer used to illustrate African rhythm who is not actually black – it’s Frenchman Jacques Cartier, wearing a black lacquer of his own invention). Whiteman though, is so affable and self-effacing throughout, it’s hard to hold this or that odd misbegotten musical ancestry number against him.

Walter Brennan, comedian.

The comedy blackouts are mercifully brief (the comic songs are longer and much worse) but the best things about them is one of the actors: If you thought he was perpetually a dried-up old coot, here’s Walter Brennan at 36 years of age:

Okay, one last clip. If “My Bridal Veil” was for the elderly, “Happy Feet” was for the kiddos, featuring the Rhythm Boys and Al “Rubber Legs” Norman:

To show how spoiled I was by Criterion’s blu-ray, I feel like I have to keep apologizing for the quality of those clips – for a movie I didn’t even know existed a month ago. Before, they would been delightful to run across, a “huh, wow” experience. Instead, I’ll just leave you with this New Zealand preview for the restoration, which gives you a far better idea of the quality of Criterion’s blu-ray.

More Nannydiddering (+ bonus Moana)

So in my pursuit of watching anything to distract me from our current hellscape and musings about the sweet release of death, I found myself thinking, “I should watch a Disney movie.” That’s one of the things I wanted to do this year: catch up on the despised “kiddie fare”. Not despised by me, certainly; one of the vows I made when I was a kid was that I would never stop watching cartoons. That’s about the only one of those promises I kept (becoming a mad scientist required some facility with math, it turns out). Luckily I didn’t specify that the cartoons had to  be cel animation (as in those days, teaching a computer to slur “Daisy, Daisy” was the height of technical artistic achievement) or I would be screwed.

Or reduced to watching nothing but my box sets of Jonny Quest and Frankenstein Jr. That could still happen.

Anyway.

Later for you, primitive DVD technology!

Remember back at the turn of the century when Disney put out The Black Cauldron on DVD? I had seen it when it was released theatrically in 1985 and wasn’t terribly impressed, but this was back when I had disposable income, so I bought it… and proceeded to forget about it. I guess I had foreseen that 18 years later I would have a mad posh to give it another chance and was simply planning ahead.

Settled in, pressed start on the player… and the disc wouldn’t cooperate.

I could soothe my minor disappointment with the memory that I had tried a similar venture with The Black Hole a few months ago and discovered that by golly I may have been younger when I saw it in the theaters and was disappointed, but I was still right. But my Disney mood was in danger of going unslaked! No big deal, as my wife is a teacher and that somehow means we must always have Disney on hand. So what would also fulfill my mission to scope out cinema for young’uns I had missed while watching four-hour Russian movies?

Well, hello Moana.

Hooray! Saved by modern blu-ray technology!

For the benefit of others who were distracted by *harrumph* more serious pursuits: Moana is the daughter of the chief of a South Seas island. As is required of all spunky heroines, she is a bit of a thorn in his side because she is fascinated by the ocean, and Pop has a definite policy against voyaging no further than the outer reef. This is really put to the test when the coconut trees fall to disease and all the fish leave the immediate vicinity. This appears to be due to the curse incurred when the legendary shape-shifting demigod Maui stole the Heart of the Sea from the goddess Te Fiti. Wouldn’t you know, there’s also a legend that someone has to cross the ocean to take Maui back to the scene of the crime to return the Heart. And we know just the title character to do it.

Now, Moana is a good movie, with a story that has remarkable depths. Playing about in the mythology of another culture always yields dividends, and reminds me of my youth when I was devouring books worth of exotic folklore from other nations. The voice acting from Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui is superb. The graphics are frequently gorgeous. But it is, in the end, a Disney movie.

I mean, look at that. That is freaking gorgeous.

That means it’s a musical. I hate musicals.

I’m trying to figure out why that blindsided me here. I mean – just to reiterate – it’s a Disney movie. Disney movies have songs. In Moana, however, they move the story forward, yet somehow don’t seem very well integrated. I actively resented that Moana’s signature song got stuck in my head, but then I realized it wasn’t so much the song as the power of Ms. Cravalho’s pipes – she sings the living hell out of that song. I think… it’s the songs themselves?

I try to remember Moana’s song – “How Far I’ll Go” – and all I can come up with is Pocahontas‘ “Just Around the Riverbend”. The single villain song that we get – “I’m Shiny” (with Jemaine Clement, who’s got a great voice)? I can only come up with “Oogie Boogie’s Song” from Nightmare Before Christmas. I just don’t find the songs in Moana memorable at all, and that is a hell of a thing for a guy who hates musicals to have to say.

Really liked the rest of the movie, though. Do more non-European fairy tale stuff, Disney. Guess my next posh will go to Zootopia and aw, crap, that’s gonna be a musical, too, isn’t it?

Anyway.

Besides watching other “kiddie stuff” like LEGO super hero videos – shut up, they’re funny, and actually respectful of the source material – there’s all the (here come the quotes again) “prestige TV” I’ve been watching, so strap yourselves in for nannydiddering…

There are also cows.

I’m currently only two episodes away from the end of Season 2 of Legion. After a rocky start for me, the season has steadied into a much better, if somewhat infuriating, groove. We’ve had episodes focusing on one character or another, which is nice, and there are times that the series’ marriage of music to imagery is simply. splendidly unmatched. Homages/lifts from movies like A Clockwork Orange, Office Space and Eraserhead only add to the mix. We’ve been given more Aubrey Plaza in a most unusual way. Way way back in the day when I was reviewing Wild in the Streets, I wondered what happened to multi-panel layouts on movie screens, so prevalent in movies at the time, even in mainstream fare like The Boston Strangler – well, here they are again. Surprise!

A continuing fixture in this season has been mini-lectures on various forms of delusion narrated by Jon Hamm, which surely have some overall connection to the major arc, but as in all thing Legion, we are still uncertain. The one in Episode 9 about sociopathy in the digital age is a particular humdinger.

There has been, though, a singular lack of dance numbers.

And then of course there’s WHAT THE HELL

Legion fills a hole in my head that was left after Twin Peaks: The Return ended, which is gratifying, but also worrisome, in that there is another similarity that is gnawing on my brain: that all this fun, enjoyable stuff seems to be at the expense of the major story arc, and with only two episodes left in the season, I worry about a too-hasty conclusion to all these hectic threads (I don’t know why I was expecting anything different from Twin Peaks, I guess I’m just an old fool). Luckily, Season 3 was announced at the beginning of this month, so hey: more weirdness. Eventually. Chances are I’ll just watch the last two episodes this weekend, to coincide with the finale of Season One of Westworld, Leaving The Expanse the odd man out.

Speaking of which…

It’s slightly older news that there will be a Season Four of The Expanse, and as I catch up with S3, this has new importance to me. On Twitter, someone mentioned being interested in how the series would handle a narrative shift present in the novels, and I guess that’s happened now? Maybe? In any case, one of the books has obviously wrapped up, with the shooting war between Earth and Mars circumvented, and now there is a huge piece of alien technology in orbit near Uranus, and nobody knows what the hell it is, but, as usual, our main characters – who are finally starting to figure out that they really are the unluckiest SOBs in the solar system – are right in the center of it.

Are missiles supposed to do that?

I don’t much care for the personnel shakeup that happened, but also know that the characters lost are still kicking around in that universe somewhere. (Especially since one character we were pretty sure was dead is suddenly turning up and acting all Keir Dullea in 2010) The trade-off in story beats is worth it, I guess, as it’s given me one of the biggest kicks I’ve had in a long time: A massive generation ship – a massive church converted into a battleship – flying into the alien artifact, into the unknown, because every other faction has done so and it is vitally, politically necessary to follow – dang it, that’s just good science fiction.

Got a new favorite character, too, in David Straithairn’s Commander Klaes Ashford, a boisterous reformed pirate who’s the second-in-command on that church warship. It’s typical of the care shown both by the showrunners and the cast that I’m still uncertain of Ashford’s true motivations and loyalties, and damn if it ain’t interesting to watch. Not to mention that he’s managed to steal my affection away from characters I have two and a half seasons invested in!

If Season Four hadn’t been picked up, there would be cops outside the building right now asking me to put down my weapons. I’ve got the first two books on my Kindle, I guess I’ll be reading them soon. To try to alleviate the twitching after this season ends.

Westworld S1 ends for me this week, and at least with it I can move on to Season 2, not something I can say for those other series. No, I’ll be waiting for their return along with the rest of you, which occurs to me would be a way for the awakening AIs in Dellos to forge their emotions closer to human.

I’m starting to make some sense of those timelines I keep hearing people talking about in the plot, I mean now that I’m listening to people talking about the show. I seem to have developed a method of enforcing blind spots on social media when I perceive a show or movie I have not seen is being talked about. It’s far from foolproof, as I have movies spoiled for me on a regular basis (you bastards), but it enabled me to watch Season One blissfully ignorant of Bernard’s true nature until the fateful question, “What door?”

It also let Tessa Thompson be a surprise, so win/win

The Season One Finale awaits me this weekend, which I suppose will answer some questions but ask many more, to open up the next season. With Legion dropping out of my weekly rotation, I think it’s about time I started Sense8, don’t you? Then, when I run out of The Expanse, there is a better than even chance that I’ll indulge my new Noah Hawley fetish with Fargo, see how that goes.

Maybe I’ll even watch some movies.