Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on February 5, 2018

I’d been really excited about Netflix’s Altered Carbon, based on really nothing more than that the trailers looked kinda Blade Runner-ish and it was based on some book people said was good. While i isn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, it’s still high production value scifi, really cool visual design, some hot naked women (and dudes, the nudity was actually a little excessive at times), a reasonably good detective story over the course of the season, and it has some interesting ideas.

Like, I can tell it has an interesting scifi concept by the fact that I keep thinking about all the crazy implications of the technology they have (they mostly focused on the religious questions and violence and death losing their taboos, but I think they’d have crazy problems identifying anyone (is this your best friend, or is it a stranger in your friend’s sleeve? Is this a stranger, or your best friend in a new sleeve?), people getting whatever new sleeve is available would result in changing genders and changing racist so I think you’d lose a lot of sexism/racism and more people would be pansexual, and sleeve farming has to be huge business).

I do worry about season 2 (which I assume will be a thing, but I don’t really know for sure), binging shows often leaves me forgetting lots about the show by the time the next season rolls around, and there was a lot going on here. Lots of characters, lots of plot twists, lots of terminology to remember… hopefully I’ll remember to hunt down a recap or something, more than the little two minute thing Netflix has done for a lot of their shows, to refresh before season 2’s released.

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Posted in tv by Bill on February 4, 2018

A.P. Bio is the new NBC comedy with Glenn Howerton as an asshole teacher. I think he may not have considered that all he’d talk about in the press for the show is whether Dennis is gone from It’s Always Sunny. The premise is that he’s a philosophy professor whose career is ruined and now he’s a high school biology teacher in nowheresville, but rather than teach, he’s just spending his time trying to get back at his rival in philosophy. It’s a slightly weird concept, since with an AP class, the students have to be at least Juniors I think, so they either have to have time pass much more slowly than in the real world, or they have to recast the students pretty soon.

The first episode wasn’t all that funny, but the Howerton character, Patton Oswalt’s principal, and one of the students are promising characters (although another student, I’m not looking forward to seeing more of him), and that gives the show a lot of potential. I’m definitely up for a few more episodes to see if it finds its footing.

Posted in video games by Bill on February 3, 2018

The Witness is a puzzle game that has been on my wishlist forever, but had been pricey until it went on sale for $10 about a week ago. It is, by design, a game where you have to intuit the rules of the puzzles. Wikipedia claims the developer went in this direction to give the player moments of epiphany when they figured out the solution with no instruction at all. But I found a few elements of it to be really frustrating.

Though it’s in a 3D, first-person world, the puzzles are hundreds of 2D mazes where you trace out a pattern with your mouse. Generally, you come to an area, and only one puzzle has power. You solve that one, and a cable coming out of it lights up, you follow that cable to another puzzle that now has power. Solve a puzzle, follow the cable, and eventually you get to… often nothing, you’ve solved all the puzzles in a series and nothing happens.

There are also the usual thing where a simple puzzle introduces a new concept, then subsequent puzzles become more complex, or combine the new concept with old concepts. But the game doesn’t seem to direct you all that well to the starter puzzles. Or something. Within 2 hours, I ran across maybe 5 puzzles I had zero idea how to do, and I never managed to guess at how they worked.

And some just rely on memory, which I don’t find very fun. You find a piece of paper that tells you the pattern that solves some puzzle, and then 20 minutes later you find the puzzle, but by then you’ve forgotten the pattern, and there’s no way, as far as I can tell, to have the paper in an inventory or something. Or there’s another set of puzzles, four on the right that made perfect sense and I solved them and four on the left that gave no indication what to do. Eventually I figured out that I should be mirroring the corresponding puzzles, but it doesn’t seem to let me look at the one on the left while I do the one on the right. So the puzzle is to remember a pattern and flip it, which… to me, is far more frustrating than it is fun.

I ragequit on that mirrored pattern puzzle. Under 2 hours, so I could technically request a refund, but I may come back to it. However, I would not recommend paying full price for this.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 26, 2018

The Resident stars Gilmore Girls’ Matt Czuchry (ZOO-kree) as a younger, sexier version of Dr. Cox, Manish Dayal as the Indian J.D. And Emily VanCamp[0] as simultaneously all the female characters on Scrubs (she’s Elliot-ish as the hot blonde girl, Carla-ish as the giving sage advice to the J.D. guy, and Christa Miller-ish as she’s the Dr. Cox equivalent’s love interest). But it’s not a comedy, it’s drama. And not a subtle one at all.

Bruce Greenwood plays the mustache twirling villain. If the show has any sense at all, they will quickly try to humanize him, because he’s cartoonishly evil in the first two episodes. Czuchry’s character is rebellious, caring more about his patients than he cares about following rules or playing politics, and not only does he demonstrate that about 15 times over the course of the episode, Emily VanCamp has a monologue to tell us that again (in classic Carla style, kinda patronizing but in a motherly way towards her J.D. equivalent), in case we weren’t paying attention.

That said, it’s actually not that terrible. I wasn’t completely sure I’d continue past the first hour, but I was a little curious how they’d address the thing at the tail end of the first episode (which they ended up basically ignoring), so I watched the second hour. Bruce Greenwood continued to be too over-the-top evil for my tastes, and Indian J.D. did nothing to establish himself as more than a POV character. He’s just some guy. So after two hours I’m out, but I’ve seen much worse.

The High Museum in Atlanta pretends to be Chastain Park Hospital, both the exteriors and occasional interior shots (they like the circular stairs), and there’s a lot shot in Midtown in general, so that was vaguely neat.

0. I confuse her constantly with AnnaSophia Robb, both because they’re generic blonde girls, and because they each have three word names but with only one space.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 24, 2018

Mosaic is Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO miniseries that’s also some kind of choose your own adventure phone app which I haven’t checked out. It’s a five-part murder mystery that opens up with us learning that the main guy from Tr2n is about to be arrested I guess for Sharon Stone’s murder, and then flashes back to when he and Stone met. The first episode at least pushes Tr2n guy, Marshall Marshall from In Plain Sight, and the season 2 fuckup guy from The Wire as the suspects. It also stars Paul Reubens, Biff, the other Kazan girl (the Big Sick one’s sister), a couple The Knick people (which was also Soderbergh).

Aside from the fact that Tr2n guy is a comic artist and they do a pretty good job with comics-related name dropping, I didn’t find it all that interesting, so even with Soderbergh’s name attached, I don’t feel compelled to continue past the first hour.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 20, 2018

Corporate is a new Comedy Central show, kind of in the vein of Dilbert or Better Off Ted or Working, where our ordinary-ish PoV character deals with the absurdities of corporate culture. And I tend to like those (except Dilbert), so I thought it was worth a shot. And it’s pretty decent. A lot more reminiscent of Better Off Ted than I would have expected, but not quite into rip-off territory.

Lance Reddick plays the CEO. I’m not sure I’ve seen him do comedy before, outside of a Rick and Morty voice, and he’s pretty good at it. He plays it straight, which works well with his usual intimidating persona. Cutthroat Bitch is the main guy’s immediate supervisor, and she looks way hotter than normal in her business attire. Or just that she’s not standing next to Olivia Wilde, which would make many otherwise lovely women look pretty plain.

Not great, but entirely watchable.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 17, 2018

Burden of Truth is a new Canadian show with Kristin Kreuk as a big city lawyer who goes back to her small town, intending to represent a big company that likely did something shady, but I’m pretty sure she ends up taking the case of the sick kids instead of the corporation by the end, but I didn’t make it that far because this clearly wasn’t for me. It’s Lifetime original production values and a heartwarming do-the-right-thing sensibility, neither of which are for me. Though Kristin Kreuk is still lovely.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 17, 2018

Black Lightning is CW’s newest of way-too-many superhero shows, but at least this one is slightly different. Black Lightning is an older dude who’s dragged out of superhero retirement and the pilot at least is concerned a lot with social justice issues, police brutality and whatnot. To the point that it’s a little hokey. I’m torn on this one, because it’s nice to see something different, I like the occasional bit of funk/soul on the soundtrack (though there’s just as much hip hop that I don’t care for), I know there are gonna be assholes that won’t watch this just because it’s got black people in it so I’d like to support it, but he’s also kinda ok with killing people which I don’t really like in non-Punisher superhero stuff, everyone other than Black Lightning is cartoonishly quick to violence, and his costume looks like cheap plastic.

I really have no idea if I’m gonna keep watching it. If I do, it’ll be one more episode to look for a reason to keep going.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 15, 2018

Hard Sun is a slightly Sci Fi detective drama from Neil Cross, the creator of Luther from the BBC and I think later HuluI don’t think they thought the title through very well, as I will be afraid to speak it aloud, lest people think I’m talking about some kind of incest porn. Anyway, it’s pretty good. Spoilers for the end of the first episode to follow, because it’s impossible to talk about the concept without getting into that.

It stars that guy from 21/Cloud Atlas and an androgynous model who I assumed was a lesbian but apparently both the actor and character are into guys, and a comedian who frequently appears on QI who it turns out is still really attractive but less so when she’s not being funny.

The premise is that the government is trying to keep secret the fact that the earth is going to become uninhabitable within 5 years. It’s not about stopping the apocalypse or sending a spaceship somewhere else to save humanity, it’s basically just a setting for cop stories and government conspiracies, and in that it works quite well.

Posted in tv by Bill on January 15, 2018

Tin Star is an amazon series with, among others, Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks, which was enough for me to watch an episode blind. Roth, who I don’t think does accents, plays an English guy who somehow becomes the chief of police in a small Canadian town, where there is also a biker gang with British accents, and no one bothers explain why all these British people are in rural Canada. But I’ve never been to rural Canada, so maybe that’s a thing? But I doubt it.

The first episode is actually pretty good, it left me wondering how the show would keep up for an entire season the level of tension that the first episode had, and the answer turned out to be that it can’t. I was disappointed in the second episode, and further disappointed in the third, and eventually it felt like either the show had no direction, or they were just stuffing the middle episodes with filler and saving the important stuff for the ending. But I lacked the patience to make it far enough to find out.