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Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Musketeers: A Marriage of Inconvenience

I've been pretty positive and easy-going with my reviews so far (as I try to be with most things) but this episode definitely veered heavily on the side of "meh." The A plot dealt with an assassination attempt on Princess Louise of Mantua, and the assorted subplots saw Milady get the dirt on Rochefort, Marguerite steal the Queen's crucifix from Aramis, Constance try to break up with her husband, and Treville promise to tell Porthos about his father (which judging from next week's preview seems to involve Liam Cunningham, because of course it does. The only other possibility would have been James Frain).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Arrow: Three Ghosts

So should I start with the angry rant or finish with it? Okay, I'll save it for the end.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Musketeers: Through A Glass Darkly

This week on The Musketeers: Two-Face hosts Die Hard in a planetarium!
As with last week, a fairly predictable story is held up by the dynamics of the characters.  I mean, you can't go wrong with a hostage crisis. Who will crack under pressure? Who will prove themselves a hero? How will they all escape? And did anyone else think Constance and Queen Anne were totally going to make out when they were reunited?

Meta: Why Korrasami Works (oh who am I kidding, this is a shipping manifesto)

A part of me can't believe I'm doing this, but it would seem I still haven't run out of things to say about Korrasami – not by a long shot.

It's been over two months now since Korra and Asami walked off into the proverbial sunset together, and there's been feedback from all quarters. Although I've been hanging out in circles where giddy euphoria is the norm, there have been other reactions too, and the negative responses seem to come down to one of three things (though there's likely some overlap between them).
There's the homophobic stance, and unfortunately I've seen at least one vile rant directed at Mike and Bryan for their decision to make Korra/Asami an official couple (I'm not going to provide a link; it doesn't deserve to be seen and I'm sorry I saw it at all).
Then there's the Mako/Korra shippers, many of whom are feeling dejected enough to construct their own alternative endings that suggest a post-show Makorra hook-up. The erasure of a same-sex couple is grating, but for the most part the ongoing arguments over shipping preferences is not a battle I'm willing to get too embroiled in (especially when canon is on my side). Ship and let ship, people.
But among other detractors of the Korrasami ship, there seems to be a fixation on the idea that their relationship wasn't built up enough. That it came out of left-field. That there was no foreshadowing; that it was shoehorned in – you get the drift. The Avatar.Spirit forum is flooded with posters holding this opinion, and in the wake of the finale I was witness to a rather extraordinary debate on Fandom Secrets in which a poster devoted a lot of time and energy into insisting that Korrasami was badly written and that everyone who liked it was stupid.
There's an articulate reviewer that I used to follow regularly (before the overwhelming negativity of his reviews became too tedious) who also took the stance that the confirmation of Korra/Asami as a couple had no resonance because of the lack of build-up in their relationship. (Again, I'm not going to link to his site as I'm not interested in dogpiling). Everywhere you look it seems that the go-to excuse for not liking Korrasami is "not enough build-up".
But my response to the "no build-up" line of reasoning is that I don't have enough hands with which to face-palm.
Obviously everyone is going to have a different response to every story under the sun, but I thought Korrasami was handled beautifully, so much so that it's worth defending against those that think otherwise.
So yes, it would appear that for the first time in my life, I'm writing a shipper manifesto. I'm even using portmanteau names, so help me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Standing Tall #7

There were ninety-nine giraffes altogether, so one of them was bound to be a little... uninspiring, shall we say? Designed by Mr Smith and sponsored by Firth (a concrete company), this giraffe is called exactly what it looks like. Firth.
The surface resembles polished concrete, and though it's not entirely ineffective in its way, it doesn't really spark the imagination.

As it happens, this was located in the Christchurch City Council building, and they didn't seem that impressed with it either – when I first saw it, the sculpture was positioned at the top of the stairs near the front of the building. The second time, they had moved it down the stairs to the back entrance, squished in next to the sliding doors. The lighting was all wrong, and I couldn't get a decent picture of the plaque at the bottom.
Also, this was possibly the worst photograph of me that's ever been taken in my life. I had to do a little editing, and trust me – what you see here is an improvement.
Still, onwards and upwards. There are plenty of beautiful giraffes to go.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Arrow: The Scientist

Well, that title leaves us in no confusion over who this episode about, and yet despite this being a Poorly Disguised Pilot (don't be fooled by the wording, it's actually a good thing) for the impending Flash spin-off, there's a ton of material in here that makes this one of the juiciest episodes yet.
It's also the first of a two-parter, ending on a cliff-hanger that involves yet another person being brought in on Oliver's secret. That person is Barry Allen, the guy who will become The Flash, and when we first see him stepping off the train and into Starling City, the whimsical tootling music tells us that this is a super-special guest.
Face hidden for maximum suspense.
There's been a burglary at a Queen Consolidated warehouse, in which a super-strong man has made off with a centrifuge for reasons unknown – and (I assume) killed two security guards after one of the fakest-looking gunfights ever committed to the screen. Barry Sherlock Scans his way across the crime scene, posits a theory that we know is correct, and starts cozening up with Felicity to figure out how exactly the assailant managed to tear up the place with his bare hands.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Musketeers: The Return

Ah, it's this episode. You know the one. It turns up in every single adventure series ever, especially those with a fantasy bent. It happened on Merlin. It happened on The Legend of the Seeker. Also Firefly. And Robin of Sherwood. And Xena Warrior Princess. And probably Hercules: The Legendary Journey as well.
It's the one where a small village is under threat, and the desperate residents seek outside help in attempting to protect themselves and their land. It'll inevitably involve stirring speeches, makeshift barricades, outnumbered good guys and a montage involving Training the Peaceful Villagers. A pretty girl will be menaced, there'll be a few sad deaths of minor characters, and eventually the villains will skulk away with their tails between their legs.
It was inevitable that The Musketeers would eventually tackle this plot, for they have a ready-made candidate for the role of reluctant hero who must embrace his responsibilities and save his tenants.
And he couldn't be more thrilled about it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meta: Margaret Mahy and the Precious Mundane, the Supernatural Threat

It's been over two years since Margaret Mahy passed away, one of New Zealand's best and most popular authors, winner of the Hans Christian Anderson Award for her lasting contribution to children's literature, and best known to me through her novels for young adults. Though I never got the chance to meet her in person, it's difficult to recall a time when I didn't know her name (or at least her work).
Her stories have followed me throughout my life, from childhood (The Lion in the MeadowThe Boy With Two Shadows), to primary school (The Downhill Crocodile Whizz) to early adolescence (The HauntingMaddigan's Fantasia) and even my university years (The Changeover and The Tricksters). She lived in Governor's Bay, a twenty minute drive from my house and one of my favourite places to visit, with a memorial plaque now placed on a beautiful stretch of land that I've walked many times.

Yet for some reason I have no decent pictures of.
The more I think of her, the more I realize how much of an influence she's had on my experiences as a reader/writer, and having attended a seminar last May as part of the Christchurch Writer's Festival that focused on her best-known works, I was inspired to re-read three of my favourite Mahy novels.
In my mind at least, they form an unofficial trilogy: The Haunting (1982), The Changeover (1984) and The Tricksters (1986). The first two won the Carnegie Medal in their respective years (making her one of only seven authors to win it twice) and the third is generally considered one of her most mature and complex works.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Arrow: State v. Queen

I'm going to keep this one brief, because to be honest – not a heck of a lot happened here. Well, I suppose it did, but not in a way that's open to much discussion.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Arrow: Keep Your Enemies Closer

So remember that time in season one that Oliver called upon the help of the Russian mafia? Remember how funny that was? Well, the show has decided to fill in a few gaps and provide context to some throwaway lines of dialogue, leading to an episode that has a lot of exciting name-drops in what is otherwise a filler episode.