Archive for May, 2014


The first season of “Falling Skies” introduced us to the world six months after an alien invasion.  Skitters roam the land with Mech (robots) and Beamers (airships), slaughtering adults while capturing and harnessing children.  90% of humanity has been wiped out, with all major governments and cities devastated or destroyed.  Surviving Americans had organized into groups of fighters and civilians based on their location- the focus of “Falling Skies” is the 2d Massachusetts Regiment.  (You can read more about the <a href=>first season here</a>.)  The finale had the second in command, Tom Mason, played by Noah Wyle (“ER”, “Pirates of Silicon Valley”), walking onto an alien ship with a Slender, the alien overseers, after a successful attack on the Boston mothership.

Season two begins three months later, with the 2d Mass leading a Skitter and Mech unit into an ambush.  During the skirmish, Tom reappears only to be accidentally shot by Ben, (Connor Jessup (“The Saddle Club”, “King”)), his formerly harnessed son.  The first episode, “Worlds Apart”, is divided between Tom’s flashbacks in surgery and the group preparing to leave their temporary shelter which is in danger of being overrun.  The second premiere episode, “Shall We Gather at the River”, has a wounded and possibly compromised Tom coming to grips with the changes in the survivors, especially his three sons, as the 2d Mass tries to escape across the last bridge across the Housatonic River.  We conclude with a successful retreat as Red-Eye, a Skitter who has been prominent in both episodes, observing them move out.

The first season felt leaden, with interpersonal morass and without any of the action one would expect of a science fiction military drama.  Season two changes this with a heavy dose of action, more natural dialogue and an enhancement of the special effects.  The invaders feel like a threat, both individually and as a whole.  The 2d Mass looks more ragged and on edge, having lost their home base and taken has been casualties.  We see new members of the group and hear about the Battle of Fitchburg, which was a pyrrhic victory at best.  The group has also been much more aggressive, attacking and setting frequent ambushes- despite having lost their Applied Phlebotinum.  All of this leads to a much crisper drama with characters you vest in and a show you want to watch.

A significant slice of the show’s improvement can be attributed to the new blood, much of it having a Battlestar Galactica pedigree.  Remi Aubuchon, (“Caprica”, “24”) took over as showrunner for the season.  The writing duo of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Battlestar Galactica”), also joined the show, penning the second episode.  A great example of their snappier writing in the movement across the bridge long shot, which introduced Crazy Lee, played by Luciana Carro (“The L Word”, “Battlestar Galactica”).  The first season veterans stepped up as well- David Weddle stated, “You can thank (Steven) Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) for the special effects.  He said, ‘I want them better- especially the aliens.’”  The thanks would be well deserved as the Skitters look more realistic, the Mech more formidable, the Slenders much more menacing, and the series overall feels significantly grittier- all of which are welcome changes.

If the first two episodes are representative of what is in store with season two, “Falling Skies” will be a great addition to the science fiction canon.  Both episodes grew the characters while delivering impressive action- a delightful blend I am looking forward to seeing more of.

 

TL;DR?

The Season two opener of Falling Skies has a much stronger punch than season one combined…

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It was a good birthday…

Mysidian Moments Photojournal

LACMA Selfie LACMA Selfie

On 22 January 2014, museum visitors, curators, managers and mascots from all over the world will be taking part in #MuseumSelfie day – a Twitter project aimed at raising awareness of the great collections being housed by national and regional museums across the globe. This photo was my submission to the event, taken in from of LACMA’s Urban Lights installation.

I thought it was appropriate to share today.

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Just in case you wanted to have a rematch in order…

Geekritique

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Jeremy Irons, (“Reversal of Fortune”, “The Lion King”), stars as Rodrigo Borgia Pope Alexander Sextus in Showtime’s medieval drama, “The Borgias”.  The second season was concluded with the most recent episode, “The Confession.”  The season has covered several events of the historical Borgia account, from the invasion of King Charles VIII of France, played by Michel Muller, (“Hénaut Président”, “The High Life”), to the heresy of Girolamao Savanarola, performed by Steven Berkoff (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Forest of the Gods”).  Even with the multiple storylines weaving forward, the season was able to focus strongly on the Borgia family and secondary characters, bringing them fully to life.

The finale was started in the last episode’s final moment- as Cesare, portrayed by François Arnaud (“Yamaska”, “I Killed My Mother”), ended his fraternal rivalry permanently.  This carried into the main story- what happened to Alexander’s favorite son, Juan Borgia, played by David Oakes (“Pillars of the Earth”, “Trinity”), and who did it to him.  Seeing Iron’s breaking from the loss to realizing who had done it was exceptionally moving.  It was felt strongly in his counter-confession, explaining that favors he bestowed on Juan came so easily because Cesare was so like him.  Then, to follow it with the laying to rest of his son; the scene- the music, the appearance, the contrast to the simultaneous events- is enough to move most anyone to tears.

The Borgias S02E09While “The Borgias” is a historical drama, it takes great liberties with the histories.  The basis of the story, the mafia-esque nature of Pope Alexander Sextus, is taken from the viewpoints of his political rivals.  While the rampant nepotism was the norm of the time, charges such as simony are largely undocumented.   In contrast, Popes Urban VIII and Sixtux V declared him an outstanding pope.  Truthfully, we can see reflections of this exultation or demonization of individuals in modern politics.  Further, the creative liberties extend beyond the papal portrayal- time and events are modified.  The Savonarola reformation and Roman response took place years after Juan’s death, meaning it could not be a factor in Cesare’s actions or forgiveness.  Accuracies notwithstanding, “The Borgias”’s take on the Vatican’s drama of the late 15th century is masterfully done and wonderfully entertaining.

The second season of “The Borgias” comes to a close with a cliffhanger- the plot finally reaches fruition.  The fraternal rivalry has ended, though a paternal schism may have appeared.  Through it all, the majesty and dark recesses of medieval Rome come across vividly.  It is a Rome of depth that is rarely seen from a time that the Eternal City is rarely shown.  All in all, “The Borgias” is a beautifully done, both visually and audibly- which only serves to enhance the great storyline the fleshed out characters travel.  If you crave outstanding drama, you will not be disappointed.