Criminal Minds: "Amplification"

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Usually I watch the "News Mix" channel, which is CNN, FOX, MSNBC, BBC and two weather channels to toggle among. Today the feed has dropped the news channels and is carrying four weather channels.

I recently watched the Netflix series Inventing Anna, about the young lady who pretended to be a German socialite and stole a bunch of money. This isn't normally something I go for, but sometimes watching something you normally wouldn't you uncover something you really like. That did not happen here.

It was 9 episodes long, and that is probably 6 too many. It was just so freaking boring, and I didn't care for most of the characters. I hated the intro of each episode that stated, "This is 100% true. Except the parts that were totally made up." After watching it I read some reviews that said you would be fine watching the first and last episode, and I completely agree.

We're finally catching up with a few years ago and watching Stargirl, which is good, and the just-released Rob Zombie take on The Munsters, which is not. But that's a different thread.

Some old Star Trek...

TNG:

"Where No One Has Gone Before" - First Traveler

"Remember Me" - Second Traveler

"Journey's End" - Third Traveler

TOS:

"Assignment: Earth" - Gary 7, Roberta, Isis

If you don't know how these episodes are related, you haven't been watching Picard (or reading the "Star Trek" discussions on this board).

It used to bug me that Gary 7, an contemporary Earth man from 1968, was aware of Vulcans and knew of their alliance with Earth in the future. But now I realize his education would naturally have included knowledge of their existence since ENT established their presence on Earth in 1957, more than a century before official "First Contact" (2063). It makes perfect sense!

If we had had an Assignment: Earth TV series, the Pertwee Doctor Who era may have been somewhat different from what it was.

I just finished re-watching...

ENT: "Carbon Creek" - The episode that established Vulcans on Earth in 1957.

As usual, I'm watching a lot of stuff, but two at the moment are worth mention here:

Werewolf by Night was delightful, especially in its homage to old Universal horror movies. Some critics say it also visually references Hammer movies, but I don't think those youngsters know what they're talking about, because I sure didn't see it and I was looking for it. One other old movie it did reference was Wizard of Oz, in a very clever way that suggests (metaphorically) a direction for Elsa Bloodstone should she return. (She will see color -- nuance -- in monsters, not just black and white.)

One reason I don't credit the Hammer business is that this "Marvel Studios Special" is so old-fashioned that it cuts away when someone is axed/knived/sworded and then cuts back to show the aftermath (usually with a cheesy dummy it doesn't let you look at too long). That's very '40s, where both public taste and poor F/X restricted the use of gore. Not so Hammer films, which reveled in the bloodletting.

I wasn't familiar with any of the players except Laura Donnelly (Elsa Bloodstone), who played (plays?) Amalia True in The Nevers. She was qutie good, as was Gael Garcia Bernal (Jack Russell). But one scene-stealer (who is obviously familiar with Vincent Price's work) was Harriet Sansom Harris (Varussa Bloodstone), who has a long CV in movies and TV shows I haven't seen.

Oh,and all of you will love "Ted," who is awesome in every way. That's Man-Thing BTW, who is never called that. (Probably because 12-year-olds everywhere will snicker.) Jack's last name is never mentioned either, probably for the same reason.

My wife loved it. Highly recommended.

I watched Pennyworth when it streamed on the little-watched EPIX streamer, and quite enjoyed it. I am continuing to watch it in its third season, now on HBO Max, where more people will see it, especially since the ludicrous renaming (Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman's Butler).

There's a lot to recommend this show, especially if you're old enough to remember the '60s, because that's when it's more or less set (although actual years are never mentioned). The camera will occasionally linger for no reason on street scenes just so you can appreciate the work they've done on cars and fashions. Not to mention music; it's all original but has a very Merseybeat sound.Then there's the British civil war (against the fascist Ravens), the never-seen nuclear exchange between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (Adios, Miami; Dosvedonya Kiev), Thomas Wayne as a CIA agent, Martha Wayne as an MI-5 agent, Martha and Thomas' first child (chillingly a girl, who is likely not long for this world) and Alfred's preposterous widow's peak.

But the best part? The slang. It all rings true, but half the time I haven't heard it before. Most of the time, I can figure it out from context. But sometimes I have no idea what they're saying. I am in love with this show.

I second the recommendation of Werewolf by Night, and especially loved "Ted." They never explained how his touch works, but they did it right,

I never had Epix, so watching the entire run of Pennyworth is on my to-be-watched "pile."

I'm looking forward to Werewolf by Night, but we're not back on Disney+ for a couple months.

Yeah.... Ted.... Marvel's decision to publish Giant-Size Man-Thing in the 70s was a firm source of amusement for 12-year-olds.

INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE: S1 E1: This one aired last week but we set up to record only the first episode, not the series, so we thought we'd better watch it before the second episode airs tonight. I read the book (as well as several of the sequels), and I saw the movies. Those of you who remember the Buffy the Vampire Slayer discussion from the old board may also remember that I'm not a big fan of vampire fiction in which the vampire is portrayed as anything other than evil to be destroyed (Barnabas Collins notwithstanding; it was probably Anne Rice's which brought me to this conclusion), so I didn't expect to like it very much. They made Louis Black this time around, which adds an extra layer to the story. Beyond that, though, there's a whole lot from this particular adaptation I don't remember from the book (if you know what I mean). Tracy wants to see how they handle Claudia, so we'll be watching at least until they introduce her. 

We also discovered War of the Worlds recently. It's an Anglo-French production (and Fox is in the credits, so maybe American too) that streams on EPIX2.

It's very well done. The old days of English TV productions having terrible sound quality and obvious warehouse sets, and nobody but the U.S. having decent F/X, are over. It could easily have been made in California (or Georgia or Vancouver).

Except, importantly, it was made in England and France, with Anglo actors in England speaking English and French actors in France speaking French (with subtitles) in equal measure. Fascinating -- at least for me -- is how many of the cast can switch back and forth smoothly and with great facility. The French astrophysicist will be talking to a colleague in French and then turn to a British group and continue the conversation in English without missing a beat. I'm feeling ... what's the word? Oh yeah: jealous.

The plot is pretty good, especially if you enjoyed the early seasons of Walking Dead. It begins with an invasion, but who is invading is unknown, and at first, how they managed to kill everybody who wasn't underground on Day 1 is a mystery. In fact, we began to laugh at how often the answer to a question is "I don't know" because it became almost farcical. I mean nobody would even guess or speculate. They'd just say "I don't know" again and again. Now we just shout "Drink" at the TV every time it's said as if it's a drinking game, because once you notice it, it's hard to ignore. But no, we do not drink every time someone says "I don't know," because we'd be dead.

Anyway, the first season or so concerns the invaders and their robot dogs (they're scarier than that sounds) hunting the remaining humans and murdering them in cold blood. It's the zombie apocalypse in that sense; there are very few humans left and it feels pretty hopeless and anything moving out there wants to kill you as you search for food and water and shelter. And weapons, although there are few of those in England/France unless you stumble across some dead soldiers.

We focus on a couple of survivor groups, one containing Gabriel Byrne! Yes, he's much older than you remember. But he's still Gabriel Byrne, and interesting to watch. He's with a group that survives in London, while the astophysicist is with some soldiers in an observatory in the French Alps. We follow a family in England where the father was caught in France during the invasion; we follow him, too, as he links up with some French survivors as he tries to walk to the Chunnel to get home.

This leads to one of the unintentionally funny lines in the show, when a trio of survivors run into an armed guy mostly in fatigues who urges them to go the other way, because where they're going there's an alien spaceship. "Are you a soldier?," one survivor asks. Nonplussed, the other guy says, "No, I'm a graphic designer." Everybody nods and they all head the opposite way.

From now on, when anybody asks me if I'm an X or a Y, I'm going to say, "No, I'm a graphic designer." The more ludicrous the situation, the better.

Eventually all the plotlines, and the characters, converge, not that it matters, as the aliens are picking them off. But then the show takes a mind-bending, timey-wimey turn, involving quantum entanglement and alternate universes. Normally that would feel like a dodge, but it feels organic here, since it fills in a lot of the "I don't know" blanks and it all dovetails nicely with what we do know. Plus, with more than one timeline, we are reunited with some characters who are dead in the original timeline, so yay. But everyone's having hallucinations of their other selves, and a tiny black hole has appeared above Earth that isn't acting like a normal black hole and has radio signals coming out which is impossible so astronauts (one English, one French) on the ISS start investigating ...

That's at the beginning of the third season, which we're on. I know most folks don't have EPIX. We got it for Pennyworth, which is now on HBO Max. As good as War of the Worlds is, I'm not sure I'd advise getting EPIX just for the one show. If I find something else to recommend, I'll do so. In the meantime, if Amazon Prime (which owns EPIX) offers a bundle deal with its PRIME streamer, that might be worth a shot.

Today sees the return of the summer smash (and possible series finale) of the "January 6 Committee Hearings."

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