Category Archives: TV

Why I Loved the New “Lost in Space”

I never watched the original Lost in Space.

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Spacewalk time

Except for about five minutes, after watching the new Netflix reboot, because I just got so curious. I was rewarded with the endearing hilarity of watching a man pretend to be on a spacewalk, but without our modern day special effects and gear that make it look at least somewhat real.

That said, I can’t compare the new series to the 1960’s black-and-white show. I can just say that I loved the new show, for many reasons. Some may say it’s a little over-the-top at times, or too obviously chocked full of modern-day representation and drama. For instance, the family depicted in the show has a strong mother, an absent father trying to reconnect with his wife and kids, and a biracial daughter from a previous marriage — all things that feel very current, in a world that now celebrates all kinds of family structures. But despite any cheesiness or melodrama, this space romp was incredibly refreshing to me, because it’s so different than any other sci-fi drama I’ve watched so far.

Here are some reasons I enjoyed it so much, and why I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in these things!

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The Price of Flesh in “Altered Carbon”

What will happen in the future, when we can disconnect our minds from our bodies?

t-Altered-Carbon-Netflix.jpgThe science fiction novel by Richard K. Morgan and its Netflix adaptation, Altered Carbon, takes a unique approach to this question. It presents us with a bleak vision of what life would be like if we could achieve immortality by discarding our current bodies in favor of new ones, over and over again. In this fictional future, a person’s consciousness is stored in their “stack,” the hardware that they can then “sleeve” in a new body.

Of course, this is a business, and a new body is a luxury not everyone can afford. But the wealthiest are able to transfer their stacks into clones specially grown for them. Being able to pick and choose what you’ll look is more than a fashion statement, as looking a certain way can also help you get ahead in life.

The protagonist Takeshi Kovacs is re-sleeved in a new body after spending over 200 years in cryosleep. He’s then tasked with solving the murder of a “meth” — a Methuselah, named after the character in the Bible who lived 1,000 years. This meth, Laurens Bancroft, has been re-sleeved in a new clone of himself, but he has no memory of the murder of his former body — he must have been killed just before his stack was backed up.

I’ve already reviewed the book here, and I won’t be reviewing it or the Netflix television series here. What I’m more interested in is looking at how the story explores our connection with the human body.

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Why I Finally Fell in Love with “Outlander”

Outlander has become my newest television obsession. Every holiday break, my fiancé is out of town to be with his family for Christmas — which leaves me with a lot of spare time on my hands that I normally don’t have. It also means that any TV shows we are watching together, I have to put on hold until he’s back. To fill the void, this year I started watching the Starz show Outlander in earnest, and I’ve totally fallen in love with it.

(Minor spoilers for Outlander to follow!)

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The Thanksgiving Entertainment I’m Grateful For This Year

I don’t know why the holidays always bring this extra level of busyness, even when they should be times to slow down and unwind. Maybe it’s the traveling, or the shopping, or the decorating that ends up taking more money and time than expected… but that’s all part of the fun too. I love the buzz of the holiday season, and I have a lot to be grateful for this year!

Thanksgiving weekend is wrapping up, and I hope everybody who celebrated here had a great time whatever they did (or didn’t do, because just sleeping in is one of the best things about any holiday!). This year was a big year of change for me, as I started a new job and got engaged. I’m thankful for my family, my fiancé, and my job — but after those most important things, here are a few of the little things I’ve been thankful for this season: a TV show, a video game, and a movie. =)

Stranger Things

37269.jpgWhile I enjoyed the first season of Stranger Things last year, it was this new season that really got its hooks in me. Created and written by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, the series is part mystery, part supernatural thriller, with tons of 80’s cheese as it follows middle and high schoolers around a small town.

The first season presents a mystery when a boy in town, Will Byers, goes missing — to another dimension, a world of monsters, that mirrors our own. This season, we learn more about the monsters, and the characters from season one are growing up.

I think it’s the improvement in characterization that really struck me in season two. The writing has always been great, but you can tell that this cast’s chemistry has had time to marinate by now. Besides the humor, some of the arguments between characters like cop Jim Hopper and Jane/Eleven, the young girl he’s trying to protect, ring very true. There are moments that made me laugh and others that broke my heart. Winona Ryder continues to be this half-unhinged, totally loving mom to Will, while still being believably smart about how to help him — even if that means causing him some temporary pain. I was also genuinely scared when the crew of middle schoolers and their new ringleader, high schooler Steve, go after the monsters with makeshift weapons and traps. And newcomer Bob (Sean Astin) is a dorky Radio Shack employee who wins you over as an unconventional hero — at one point, he hacks computers to keep the monsters out of a lab, like something out of an old video game.

Several intriguing themes and motifs run through the episodes, along with identifying hero items like Steve’s barb-wire baseball bat, Jane/Eleven’s new punk outfit, or the bikes the middle schoolers ride. There is so much to appreciate and analyze in this show, it almost makes me want to rewatch the series to dust off every little gem. If you are at all into supernatural stories or John Hughes movies — or ideally both — Stranger Things is a must-watch.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Assassins-Creed-Origins.jpgThis year has been a win for video games. For me, it was all about playing my very first Wolfenstein game, some Mass Effect Andromeda entertainment — as thin and drawn-out as the game was, I still enjoyed it overall — and the totally original world of Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn.

But right now, I’m leaning towards Assassin’s Creed Origins as my favorite video game this year, because it takes place in one of my favorite time periods and places: ancient Egypt. For me, growing up as a history nerd, Assassin’s Creed games have always intrigued me with their ability to transport gamers to the past — but this time, taking me to ancient Egypt, they’ve captured me on a whole new level. My heart is so invested in Bayek’s story, and I love his kickass wife (and partner in crime) Aya too. The gameplay also offers a little more leniency if you want to play in a more aggressive way, which is great for when my attempts at stealth don’t work out.

Swinging around a spear in the desert, riding on my dressed-up camel, petting cats, and exploring ancient tombs and bazaars is like my dream video game vacation. I’m totally in love with this game right now.

Coco

coco-movie-image-2.jpgOver Thanksgiving weekend I watched Pixar’s new movie Coco, which depicts Mexico’s Day of the Dead tradition with equal parts heart and spectacle. The story follows a boy named Miguel who wants to become a musician, but his family — having had a musician walk out on them years back — wants nothing to do with music. In accidentally ending up in the Land of the Dead, Miguel goes on a crazy adventure that teaches him more about his family and dreams.

I have to admit, I’m not big on animated movies anymore, although I know I shouldn’t write them off as being just for kids. Coco definitely proved that I should watch more of these movies, as it was a visual treat and a truly heartfelt story. I recommend it for all ages, no matter where you’re from, and especially if you’ve lost someone in your life. Bring tissues!

— Ashley