Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Grande Finale

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book - perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most successful, book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor. The H2G2 tells the story of a man who is the last surviving specimen of his species (or so he thinks, until he meets an old would-be flame - Tricia). In that story, we quickly discover that the whole of Earth was - before being blown up to make way for a hyperspace bypass - a giant organic computer, built specificly to give the ultimate question for the ultimate answer of Life, the Universe and Everything. Which, as we all know, is 42.

In the end of the second book - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - we find our heroes stranded on a planet, after reaching it on the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B - captained by a man in love with his bath tub - which crash landed on an unremarkable and mostly harmless green blue planet. They ultimately find out, after exploring and seeing Fjords, that they are on pre-historic Earth and that the Golgafrinchams are the real ancestors of current day Humanity.

Battlestar Galactica is a wholly remarkable TV show - perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most widely audience bridging and genre transcending, show ever to come out of the Sci-Fi (SyFy???) channel and genre. And the grande finale that aired on March 20, 2009 was no exception.

I've seen many conflicted opinions about the way the show ended. Having watched The Last Frakkin' Special, I've had my own doubts. In the special, Ron D. Moore tells of the hardship in writing the finale - the conclusion - to the grande arch that's been created with the twists and turns of the show from day one. And, evidently, he didn't reach some divine inspiration about the plot ending, but he did come to a conclusion - "It's about the characters, stupid!", as he wrote on the whiteboard of the writers' room.
That's where I thought "But what about all the questions? You must answer them."

Now that I've watched the finale, I've not been left wanting. Well, almost.
Battlestar Galactica could not have ended any other way. It was a story about characters, and the characters have all come full circle.
  • A woman driven to extremes by losing everyone she loved, has finally found rest and peace.
    A man trapped by his own self image, his self created myth, rose above and beyond the legend, and came out victorious in spite all odds.

  • The Romeo and Juliet love story between Helo and Athena - and the entire Prophecy of the Opera House is perfectly wrapped up in the daring rescue of Hera Agathon. Everything put perfectly in place; recreating the entire Opera House dream on board the Galactica.
    An allusion to the Space Opera that is Battlestar Galactica.
    A more perfect description in the body of the show itself could not have happened.

  • Even humanity itself, as one character, has grown. As Lee Adama put it, Humanity is no longer just the Thirty Eight Thousand plus people in the Colonial Fleet. It has found a way to evolve elsewhere. This new "Earth", as the new arrivals named it. Humanity itself is no longer in danger of extinction.

Or is it?
I personally loved the Restaurant at the End of the Universe ending.
It is really something that's been on the blogosphere before, in one form or another. There were theories that when the fleet would finally arrive on Earth, they would discover our Earth, in our modern time.
They do, finally, arrive on our Earth - 150,000 years in our past. Creating allusions to the Greek Gods as embodied in the call signs and names of the Battlestar Galactica personel.
They even had their own Captain in a Bath, as Anders is left with one final instruction, to take the entire Colonial Fleet into the Sun.
And, perhaps, just like with the Fjords of Norway that lead to Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect's realization of being on Old Earth, the journey Chief Galen Tyrol undertakes to go to an island in the north, devoid of humans, is a cue to us - the spectators - to further enhance the realization that this is indeed our Earth.

As Ronald D. Moore himself makes an appearance reading a current day newspaper, listening to today's news about advances in Robotics, we see the two Head Jobs - standing right behind the show's creator - talking about how "All this has happened before, and it will happen again.". Harking back to the slogan already repeated several times throughout the last two seasons.
Bringing back the true meaning of Science Fiction and it's place, role and responsibility in our own society as modern philosophy, commentary and watchdog for morality and what just might be.

Battlestar Galactica - We will miss you.
So say we all!

Don't forget, there's still BSG: The Plan - a TV movie retelling the story of Caprica's final days from the Cylon perspective.

The unanswered;
Who are the Head Jobs? Who is this "God" who, according to Six, doesn't like to be called that?
What and Where is Kara Thrace, really?

How will Caprica fit into all this? Will it stay true to the established or create it's own lore completely? I'm hoping for the former.

It would seem there's a Command & Conquer fan on staff of the Battlestar Galactica production. Perhaps apart from both Grace Park and Tricia Helfer who played major roles in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars!
An homage back to us, C&C fans? It seems so.

A Quick Dollhouse Shoutout

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse began on a very slow and seemingly limp pace. But the last three episodes - which makes it half the show so far - have been great. In this latest episode, Man on the Street, we really get a better look at the other purposes that the idea of Dollhouse may serve to it's clients.

In a longer than usual episode (49 minutes instead of the usual 42), we get cuts of a documentary about this urban legend that Dollhouse has become. We hear people's opinions, pro and con. And the main client in this episode (played by Paton Oswalt) really brings it home. These aren't just blow-ups for hire, nor ad hoc super soldiers. They can do some good.
And lest we forget the first episode; Echo did choose to become one. She volunteered.

At any rate, this really was a good episode. True to Whedon's sense of something bigger.
Mellie as a doll? Yeah, I've personally seen it coming a mile away. Then again, Whedon was never scared of stating the obvious - reverse psychology and all.

Did you notice that when Topher was called by Boyd outside to talk - right after Topher prepared Echo's next imprint - that when he returned the door behind him was ajar? It was closed before. Which explains Echo's acting all mouthpiecy after kicking Ballard's ass in the alley.
Personally, I wouldn't go counting on the "Echo remembers" theory yet. She really did perform her programing to the T in this one - except, the person who left that door open, must have tampered with the imprint to make her talk. How fortunate it was that Boyd was off duty this time.
Is it Liza Lapira (Ivy, Topher's assistant) back to her old NCIS tricks, being a double agent?

Who was the replacement handler?
Something to think about.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Book of Shmu'el and Kings

The book of Kings, in the Prophets tome of the Bible begins with the now Old King of Israel David, and his succession by his son, King Solomon. The new NBC show Kings deals with king Silas Benjamin and his succession by someone other than his son - the young military upstart, David Shephard.

The book of Shmu'el, which precedes the book of Kings, tells the story of the Prophet Shmu'el of the Ephraim tribe and his anointing of the first Kings of Israel. First there was Sha'ul, of the Benjamin tribe, anointed to be chancellor to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines, waging war on them. In Kings we are introduced to King Silas Benjamin of Gilboa, war hero of the war with the Gath. Anointed to king hood by Reverend Ephram Samuels.

The book of Shmu'el also mentions Gath. Today's Israeli town of Kiryat Gat (the Campus of Gat) is built where the ancient Philistine city of Gat dwelled, and from which the almost 3 meters tall Philistine warrior Goliath came.
Goliath is the type of ominous tanks used by the Gat in their war against Gilboa, in Kings.

In the first episode, we learn of a Gath ambush taking prisoner one Jack Benjamin - the son of King Silas. And although orders have been issued not to attempt a rescue, private David Shephard feel compelled to mount a solo rescue mission into the Gath camp. It's worth mentioning that David did not know that one of the prisoners was Jack Benjamin.
Indeed, in the middle of the night, David sneaks past several sentries and Goliath tanks, and quickly rescues the prince and a fellow prisoner from the prince's platoon. However, during the escape from the Gath camp, the three are spotted and Goliaths are sent to eliminate. It is then that David decides to play bait, so the two rescued prisoner can escape. And in doing so, comes face to face with a Goliath tank, which explodes several second later from a grenade David threw earlier.

David is treated to hero's welcome, even by the King himself who offers him half is kingdom - and an immediate promotion to the rank of Captain. There, at the reception David meets the King's daughter - Michelle Benjamin. Again, in the book of Shmu'el, the daughter of Sha'ul, Michal, was King David's first love and first wife.

Additional correlations include the origin of the name Jack - which is a nickname to the name John, short for Johnathan. The name of Sha'ul's son and ultimately David's best friend was indeed Johnathan.
General Linus Abner, King Silas' Chief of Military Officer, is also name after Sha'ul's Chief Military Officer, Avner Ben Ner.

I'm sure all the above is not a revelation to many people, but I wanted to write this here and say that I find the idea of this show - Kings - bringing an established Biblical story to the modern time, although artificially in this case, very intriguing. I believe this drama has real potential.

Hey, the source material has endured for over 3000 years. So it's already tried and true.
Despite taking the name of the wrong Book of the Prophets Tome in the Bible, I definitely recommend this show. Although we'll see what the future holds.

Meanwhile, check out these virally related sites:

I've actually wanted to do a modernized rendition of the Ten Plagues story from Exodus. This definitely gives me some extra motivation. I'll Idea Map this... idea today.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The meaning of Integrity

Red Alert 3: Uprising Out and About

In a word: Wow!
In two words: Great Idea!

In as many words as it will take:
The latest expansion pack (standalone) from EALA - C&C Red Alert 3: Uprising - is a work of art.
I just installed it this morning, and have played through the fourth side-campaign - The Story of Yuriko Omega.

To be fully honest, I've played through the entirety of the vintage Red Alert 3 on Easy. Just to have some fun. To play through it. I'm a C&C fan, but I'm the Tiberian fiction guru, less a fan of the still-excellent Red Alert games or even that step child of the franchise. So I opted to play through it as fast as possible, to get all the eye candy (boobs), game play mechanics and new ideas. And the boobs.

That's what I'll probably do with the three other campaigns of Uprising as well.
But not the Yuriko campaign. This is something new. This is a single character, no build queues and a very focused mission structure throughout the whole thing. It is simply great. And this something deserves to be enjoyed in its entire complexity and hardship. At least that's how I play.

Oh the possibilities to be developed from this one great idea are - much like Tiberium's - limitless.

Now, I haven't finished it yet - I've gotten my ass handed to me by Izumi a few times. But I had to write these points down:
  • The RPG/Sole Survivor style gameplay - pure WIN!
  • Cryo Legionaires walking on frozen water - fricking excellent!
And just a shout out for the amazing work the entire RA3 and Uprising team did with both games!
Personally, I want to see more of these types of ideas in future games. Maybe Kane will have his own version.

Here're two challenges to the C&C community:
  1. Make some Multiplayer Maps with the style of Yuriko's campaign. It's doable, if only in a LAN only mode (EALA, your help will be needed for this).
  2. Someone make another Single Player mod based on these same mechanics - maybe featuring Kane, or Havoc, or maybe even Slavik!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Warning Shot

This is my very first post on my very first blog. I'm excited.
And am also in a hurry. Damn the slow connection.

As the description of this blog states, I'm having a bit of a writer's block problem. Minor, about two year's worth. So I decided to open up a blog to write pretty much anything I want, and maybe get some ideas out... out of it, out to the public. Whatever.

So here goes my opening shot;
Devout Christians like to blame all Jews for killing Jesus the Crucified.
Here's my problem with this often overly inflated issue - it's dumb and blatantly self contradicting to their entire belief system.
This isn't a theological debate about what I believe is God (I promise I'll get to it when I have more time), or the possibility of a divinely inducted offspring. This is simply about the lack of logical thought processes in those inclined to mono-respiratory proclamations of "He died for our sins" and "Jews killed our Jesus". Do you see the problem here?

On the one hand, Christians worship Jesus' self sacrifice in dying for their Sins.
On the other hand, those same Christians blame Jews for killing him...?
Basically, they blame Jews for being the instruments of their sacrificial salvation? In that case, you're welcome.
I have a problem with the logic of the above - how can you claim that he was sent to die for your sins and then go and blame Jews for killing him? Who ever did kill him, did what they were supposed to do - they fullfiled their purpose. Just like Christians claim that Jesus' purpose was to die for their sins.

Hey, being the amalgamation of divine genetics that you believe he is - how could it have gone any other way than the one he himself intended? There's your pickle.

Seriously though, is it guilt that's driving this self contradicting notion of blame?
I mean, the guy was probably pretty smart (he was Jewish, you know). And he probably had some really great notions and ideas. But a hundred years after his death (deal with it), some guys came and twisted and turned and took up arms against the world's favorite scape goats (you figure out who). Ain't nothing more unifying than a common, preferably Jewish, enemy. Yay!

Hey now, I warned you this won't have to do with anything and will be offensive.

Forgot to mention - I'm Jewish.

I strongly recommend reading Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, and in this case the Endymion books. Though briefly, he presents a great idea of Jesus.

Your opinions are wrong!