Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Godesses Must be Crazy | My Legend of Zelda Canon

So here's my incredible thesis. I quite like the Legend of Zelda series, Wind Waker and Majora's Mask in particular being my all time favourite games. But I think that when you look at the official Zelda Timeline provided by Nintendo, the stories don't all match up, and they all point toward a different story than the one that the individual stories tell. Some I'm here to take a look and exaggerate a lot of points for humorous value and jump to insane conclusions.

The first thing I notice is that, from a certain point of view, Ganondorf is actually the victim. He's lived in a desert his whole life and just wanted some more land so he can be a bit safer. And why does Ganondorf and the rest of the Gerudo Tribe live in the desert? Let me back up a bit with my theory.

In Skyward Sword (Which I never finished by the way), there are the Skyloft people, who are strongly inferred to be the ancestors of the Hylians, and since there is another person ruling the surface world during that game, I can assume that he is killed by the Skyloftians, who then proceed to steal his throne. I assume that this ruler, Ghirahim, was one of the ancestors of the Gerudo tribe, and that the rest of his people were banished to the desert. Essentially my theory is that Ganon is the descendant of those people and is trying to retake the land that was originally his, meaning that the people who became the Hyrule Royal Family have always been the original aggressors.

But why would the Hylians do such a thing? Probably because at the start of Skyward Sword, they were practically commanded to by Fi, who was created by the goddesses themselves. Meaning that the very original aggressor of the attack that resulted in the events of all of the games containing Ganondorf, was actually the goddesses.

But again? Why would the goddesses do this? What is the end goal to the Hylians ruling the surface? The Hylians and Gerudo were both living in peace beforehand, so what's the point of it all? The same reason that the surface of Hyrule has a seemingly infinite amount of deathtraps containing caged animals that are disguised as worship temples. And the same reason that the topology of Hyrule randomly rearranges itself every couple of hundred years. Because the goddesses just want to watch the Links, Ganondorf, and the Hyrulian Royal family dance in the palms of their godlike hands. If the goddesses had a direct goal, they wouldn't keep resurrecting/reincarnating the main players on both sides of the conflict, unless the only thing that results from the conflict is the conflict itself.

That's why the stories and gameplay of Wind Waker and Majora's Mask seem more unique. In Wind Waker, the goddesses flooded Hyrule because Ganon appeared to have permanently won because the existing Link didn't come to defeat Ganon, so they waited for Link to reincarnate so the cycle could repeat one last time before Ganon dies permanently. And in Majora's Mask, Link is seemingly in another dimension, and therefore out of the goddesses reach, meaning that the source of the conflict is legitimate conflict between the Skull Kid and Termina.

Esentially though, what my theory boils down to. Is that the goddesses are not goddesses at all, they're just hugely powerful and incredibly bored alien entities who wanted to make some mortals dance. There might be others like them who have their own goals. In fact, the species the goddesses belong to might well be a relative of the Shinigami from Death Note, but with different powers, as Ryuk the Shinigami is also a hugely powerful and incredibly bored alien entity who wanted to watch some mortals dance.

In fact, come to think of it, we don't know for certain that the planet that Hyrule located on is actually Earth. Ocarina of Time mentions Earth once, but more in the idea of the ground beneath their feet rather than as a name for the planet. It could be that the real Earth exists somewhere else in the Zelda Universe, and Ryuk decided to play a game with the lives of mortals, after hearing of the idea from his foreign friends, Din, Farore, and Nayru.

Thanks for sticking around reader(s). Just so you know, I'm perfectly aware that I have some of my facts wrong, and this crazy theory was for my amusement only. This is still canon in my imagination though, because knowing everybody's motivations once the mystery is gone helps me to enjoy the story more. And I think that the fact that the only reason these characters exist is to provide entertainment for the player probably only adds to my theory.

Monday, 11 March 2013

7 Youtubers I recommend

I spend a lot of time on the internet nowadays, since 2008 the laziness virus slowly spread across my body and resigned me to not bothering to go to the TV for entertainment for much longer, due in no small part to the fact that in recent years I'd discovered people just making videos and things for the internet without necessarily having been hired to do so. It's what sparked my desire to become an animator easily as early as when I was 12 years old and discovered people making unofficial Mario Cartoons using games sprites that they had no legal right to back on Newgrounds.

Since then, independent content makers on the internet have always been important to me, as they symbolised the layman making their way in the world without reliance on the cold, unfeeling finger of industry pointing at them and saying "Sod it, he'll do.". Also some of them are just plain funnier, more talented and more creative than alleged professionals I've seen on the TV.

So I thought I'd compile a short list of 7 artists I've discovered in recent years for you to enjoy, I'll also link you to what I think is the best example of each of their works, as well as places they can be found, in hope that they get the views they deserve, because afterall, none of these people have actual advertising, and it's only through methods like this that they ever get seen.

Besides being the name of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, Khyan is a vlogger/Filmmaker type person who resides on Youtube. I like him because most of his videos have a kind of melancholic, self deprecating feel to it but are still funny. At a mere 76,000 subscribers on Youtube, I consider it to literally be a criminal offence that Khyan doesn't get more recognition. My favorite two videos of his have to be 'It's hard to make friends' and 'Violence Baguettes Violence', the former for its honesty and familiaity of the subject, and the latter for its sheer ingenuity.

Also has a sister who makes amusing stop motion videos who gets even less recognition. Watch hers too.

This one's probably cheating a bit, but I've lumped Jack and Dean together mostly because their best content is when they're together. Together, they form a hilarious double act in their various comedy sketches that they write and act out together that have made me laugh more times than I can care to count. In addition, they each have their own projects going on on their personal channels, Jack does a vlog every couple of weeks, though they have more in common with stand up shows than vlogs, as well as his various short films for University. Dean has his own small vlog series entitled 'Harmless Things' as well as other projects. 

I've mentioned this before but I'm a massive fanboy of Jack Howard specifically, it started when I merely liked his videos but escalated when he responded to a Tumblr post I'd made toward him, which made me giggle like a schoolgirl.

My favorite videos of theirs have to be 'Superglued' and 'Silent Disco'. Please watch.

TomSka is yet another Youtuber from the same tiny circle of friends that the previous people mentioned have been, they're seriously good. Anyway, Tom has created a little series you might have heard of called the asdfmovie series which has most likely eclipsed 60,000,000 views in total, as well as creating his own hilarious sketches as well as incredibly well choreographed fight scenes along with some of the best special effects to ever be seen in a Youtube short. 
Recently however, Tom took a turn for the worse when his friend Edd Gould lost a battle with cancer and he was tasked with continuing Edd's animated webseries Eddsworld, Tom pulled through though, and has produced a better than ever couple of episodes that you should really check out.

Also he signed my Eddsworld poster. That's nice.

One of the great internet animators in my opinion, I first discovered Egoraptor years ago at the start of his popularity when he made a little cartoon called 'Metal Gear Awesome', and I was just hooked from then on. Besides straight up animation, his other endevours include the 'Sequelitis' series where he discusses game design theory in an intelligent and articulate manner when he's not randomly yelling suddenly. Also funny is his Let's Play channel 'Game Grumps', I'm usually indifferent to LP's but this one in particular is excellent to behold, as Arin and his friend Jon are really good at improvising amusing dialogue and have good chemistry.

3. Harry Partridge

Forget 'one of the greats', Harry, I think, is THE greatest animator to ever be showcased on the internet, even better than Adam Phillips, and he was a former Disney animator. Harry creates fully realised animated shorts with more detail and complexity than the average TV show, and he doesn't even have an entire company behind him. His main subjects are parodies of the old 80's Saturday Morning Cartoons with wildly imaginative twists with the blackest black comedy you've ever heard.

His current endeavor is a beautiful looking animated short series called 'Starbarians' which is probably his best looking set of works with incredibly high standards of design, animation, voice acting, the works.

2. Chris Bingham (Bing/Slomozovo)

I've linked two two different channels in this title, just so you know.

Chris 'Bing' Bingham is a 20-ish year old filmmaker on Youtube, he does short sketches, songs, vlogs, the works. I could talk about how his vlogs are all funny and imbued with obvious creativity and love for his craft and other things about his main work, but the main reason I think you should watch Bing is for his vlogs.

Bing created a series about a year back called 'Past Bing/Future Bing', it's basically a very ingenious vlog series documenting two years of Bing's life, namely his last year of University and his first year of industry work, but the twist is that when he started, he'd already filmed the previous year, so each day he uploaded vlogs alternating between the present day and the same day a year earlier, with Past Bing asking Future Bing to observe how an aspect of his life had changed in that year, which was always guarenteed to be in an interesting way. My favorite part though is that no two days of his life are the same, it seems as if each day he's working to make things for us, the audience, though what's better is that it documents his emotional change through the two years in a very subltle manner. It's basically like watching the story of the life of an interesting guy, in the sense that it sometimes feels like there's a plot, there are recurring themes and characters etc, except that's not true because it's all real.

He's currently working on a webseries called 'Hi, Imma Draw Ya' and another series in tandem with the Guinness World Records called 'Slo-Mo Test Lab', both are regularly entertaining and continue his tradition of conserving his uploads.

ALSO has a sister who makes sketches and vlogs.

Ok, this one's kind of cheating a bit. Whilst it's true that Yahtzee started out on Youtube and has the occasional Youtube upload such as 'A poem for FTL' or his various LP's, Yahtzee's main work is on a website called The Escapist, which hosts his excellent webseries Zero Punctuation, a short video in which he monologues about a recent video game release in sentences covered with wit and variety.

Yahtzee is at the top of this quite simply because he's the funniest person I've seen on the internet, it's not necessarily that he tells a joke every 5 seconds that always hit their mark consistently, or that his amusing analogies and weirdly phrased metaphors always make total sense, or that his labyrinthine knowledge of everything he speaks about is both factually accurate and also worded amusingly, or that his art style is unique and simple to look at..

Oh wait, maybe it is all those excellent reasons.

Watch Zero Punctuation.

Final Word

Obviously there are loads more Youtubers I watch who are equally fun, but if I posted all of them I would never be able to convince you to watch all of them.

That's all for now, one day I will some day write an editorial about 7 webcomics you should read and other internet/independent created content, because I really think there is some real gold hidden on the internet. Like I always say, 90% of everything may be crap, but the 10% is worth dying for, more so on the internet because the wider range of talents, which can range from literally talentless to surpassing professionals themselves.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Iron Man 3 Trailer

Way back in the Cretaceous Period of 2008, a little film called Iron Man was released, a Marvel film adapting a character I had no particular interest in on the grounds that all the comics of his I'd read he seemed to be a boring industrialist with a stupid mustache who constantly moaned about being rich, desired by women and owning a home made suit of armour that fired magnets and lasers. The film turned out to be a hit and resulted in a series of adaptations of the other of Marvel's lesser used properties, cumulating in the childhood realising masterpiece that was The Avengers.

Three trailers have been released for the third Iron Man film (Or alternately the seventh Avengers film.) and here are my opinions on them.

Firstly, it seems to me that this interpretation of Iron Man villain The Mandarin is taking heavy inspiration from The Dark Knight Rises version of Bane, being a terrorist of deliberately unspecified ethnicity, an unusually captivating voice, and who is vowing to destroy the very ground beneath the feet of the film's incredibly rich hero in the third installment and at some point destroys a passenger plane. If that's the case it seems unusual that Marvel would draw from such a source, because The Dark Knight Rises was a bit of a flop in my opinion and the Iron Man series was always taking its own route from the Dark Knight Saga, being more obviously humorous due to the overpowering charisma of Robert Downey Jr and not nearly as grimly confrontational about moral lessons.

I do like the obvious continuity between this film and the Avengers though, I imagine there'll only be vague references so as not to make the film difficult to watch for the three people that haven't watched The Avengers yet. But I like how they're continuing Tony Stark's slow character arc of overcoming his
war profiteering days and becoming more selfless, in the case of this film, making him lean too far in the other direction as he is seemingly now paranoid that everything is trying to kill him and as a result has started hoarding all of his technology, which is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to come when you've been attacked by terrorists, aliens and Russians with electric whips in the space of two years.

My favorite part of the trailer has to be the very end when it seems as if Stark has managed to animate the spare armoured suits into doing battle alongside him, including what appears to be the Hulkbuster mech bustling through a wall, which will almost certainly seem like an interesting idea until you get confused about which armours are meant to be occupied by the characters and which ones get shot down, and potentially not get utilised by the writers in any meaningful way like the animated suits at the end of Iron Man 2. Though in that case those suits were being built up throughout the film as being made within a week by a guy who reversed engineered the arc reactor in his garage so why would they have been that good?

That's just my hypothesis though, cynicism is a powerful tool when judging a third installment of a film series who's second film has a bit of a downgrade. There's no doubt that I'm still looking forward to this film, but critical caution is always wise when a franchise gets to this size, and the second film, whilst still witty with an interesting story, was a significant downgrade from the previous film, I'm hoping that doesn't remain too constant in this case.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mogworld and Jam

I don't read a lot myself, I used to love reading but my attention seems to have vastly depleted itself ever since I started focusing more on films and TV as my main hobby, so now I've got a load of unread books* on my shelf that I haven't finished. Another thing that I'm still a fan of however is Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's Zero Punctuation, a video game review show that's greatly influenced my writing style and from whom I've stolen entire lines of monologue from to try and sound more articulate.

*The last three Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, the first three Dune books, and Harlan Ellison's three short story collections 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream', 'The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World' and 'Paingod and Other Delusions' if you're interested.

In the past few years, Yahtzee has taken to writing novels in addition to his other endeavors, the two of which out so far are Mogworld and Jam, the latter of which I've just finished reading. I should stress again that I'm a huge fan of Yahtzee and Zero Punctuation and any negativity expressed in this post should be taken as it is.


First of all let's talk about Mogworld, the plot is about a young lad called Jim, who is a wizarding student, who is killed but resurrected 60 years later by an 'evil' Necromancer. It happens that Jim, along with everybody in his world, is actually a none-player character in an MMORPG of the future in which the AI has gained sapience, his world is then stricken by immortality and player characters, messing up their society. It's a very original story that I'm surprised nobody thought of that goes to a lot of places based on this concept, and when I say that I mean literally for most of the book they hardly stay in the same place for long before moving off to other locations for various reasons.

It got me quite confused for a while and reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett's The Light Fantastic in that and a few other ways I don't like, namely that the main character Jim, like Rincewind, is a self confessed dirty, self serving scoundrel and coward who considers themselves to be the furthest from heroism that a man can be. And reading Mogworld, Jim's personality seems like an amalgamation of Rincewind and Yahtzee's on-screen persona in Zero Punctuation, and while I find Zero Punctuation funny because his misanthropy is played purely for laughs, it seems a whole lot less funny when there's a story around it because if you can't excuse an amoral character on a count of being funny then they're just plain old unlikable, and it often made me hard to sympathise with Jim and his goals when he's only occasionally spouting Zero Punctuation style overdrawn similes (Though on one occaision, a line of dialogue is identical to one in Zero Punctuation.) and the rest of the time was spent exclaiming how much he hates the ground beneath his own feet.

The other characters are a bit mixed, while some characters such as Slippery John, the cheery amoral thief who speaks in third person, and Meryl, the cheery undead girl who adventures with Jim much to his chagrin are a bit more amusing, even if their dialogue isn't as funny as some of Jim's, they at least don't act miserable all the time, which contrasted nicely. Though back on the bad hand, the character of the Priest who joins Jim occasionally is similarly unlikable on the grounds that, like Jim, he only has one recurring character trait and accompanying joke he drags around that's repeated with every line of dialogue, namely the fact that he's religious, Yahtzee appears to dislike organised religion because he seems to take every opportunity to use the Priest to take shots at them, whether it's relevant to the topic at hand or the pacing or not.

Those are the only real problems I have with Mogworld though, the plot is very tight and interesting and takes several unexpected and exciting turns, even if it is occasionally a bit hard to follow, the characters I didn't mention by name range from harmless to hilarious, and the third act of the book and the ending in particular is one of my favorite book endings I can remember, because the ending is the point Yahtzee remembers he's perfectly capable of writing poignant, thoughful and more importantly, happy moments.


Now onto Jam. The plot of Jam is thus, in the real world roughly glimpsed at in the ending of Mogworld, a couple of Australian jobless 20-somethings get caught in an unusual apocalypse scenario in which the whole of Brisbane wakes up one morning to find that the city has been covered in a thick layer of carnivorous jam that absorbs all organic material that comes into contact with it. So the aforementioned characters, Travis and Tim, must team up with Angela, a journalism student who suspects government conspiracies, and Don, a game developer who appeared briefly in Mogworld, and must to traverse their new society, try not to touch the jam, and maybe even get to the bottom of the cause of the jam.

Now, I like the characters in Jam a lot more, because the main characters are all more rounded and have much more likable characters and don't exclusively exist to give a Zero Punctuation style snarky comment about the situation at hand. Unless you count Don, who is another character who's literally Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation persona transplanted into the story, but Don is a lot more likable than Jim from the previous book because we're not expected to sympathise with his struggles, just listen to him snarkily comment on the main characters troubles.

Apocalypse stories, like MMORPG's, are obviously a concept to which Yahtzee is very readily accustomed to and makes a load of genuinely funny and insightful snarks into the common tropes of apocalypse stories. Yahtzee claims in a couple of Zero Punctuation episodes that in a zombie apocalypse, the zombies could be entirely interchangeable with something else without altering any aspect of the story, which is exactly what Yahtzee achieved here, change zombies to carnivorous jam and the gun and weapon looting to plastic bag theft and this would merely be a humorous parody/satire of the standard apocalypse scenario.

There are some things I don't like about this story though, firstly that it has the opposite problem to Mogworld in terms of pacing, because rather than spending every chapter in a different location, there are about 4 locations in the whole story, with about three fifths of it spent in the one where Yahtzee gets to use an aspect of modern society as a punching bag for the same joke, except instead of organised religion and religious fanatics it's the hipster subculture, and like the Priest in Mogworld, they're pretty much a repeating one joke for the entire book. I don't need Yahtzee telling me that hipsters look and sound a bit stupid when I'd rather have him elaborate on his more interesting cultural observations.

Like Mogworld, the last third of the book is very tense and a little bit emotional with an unexpected twist regarding the origin of the jam that I absolutely loved and would hate to spoil, not quite as powerful as Mogworld's ending though.


Mogworld was mostly hit and miss but fun for one or two reads, Jam was an improvement but still had massive blank spots where not a lot was going on, Yahtzee clearly knows his stuff about the genres he writes about, which is of course why Zero Punctuation is such a massive hit, but I personally don't think that his rapid fire humour works in novel form because generally when he runs out of jokes he startes repeating himself until the story shifts, and those time are very far and in between.

I look forward to any future book Yahtzee writes though, he's unmistakably a very funny and insightful guy and definitely worth listening to, every artist has their good, their bad and their average after all.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

My Top 10/11 Favorite Films of 2012

2012 was a good year for films I think, even though there are about three new IP's on this list and the rest being remakes, sequels or adaptations.

10. Taken 2
Good sequel escalation, roughly equal in quality to Taken 1, but with a very 'The Hangover' type recursion in the plot. Lots of very thrilling action sequences from start to finish, as well as good character development for whatever Liam Neeson's daughter was called.

The only thing I don't like though is that there is a theme that questions the similarities between Liam Neeson and the main villain, since they're both amoral monsters willing to sink to incredible depths to protect their families. And then you remember the villain's original motivation was selling sex slaves and you stop empathising with them, making the film's theme kind of a nonissue. Nonetheless, a thrilling action flick, just like its predecessor.

9. Skyfall
As I hadn't seen a bond film before, the action wasn't remotely as over the top as I expected thankfully, the story was interesting and relevant too. I like the characters of Mr Silva, M and Q, even if they do seem a bit familiar somehow. Of note has to be the incredibly captivating semi-animated opening credits that I really really liked for some reason.

8. Looper
Good world building and concepts, the story keeps you guessing at the start when it's interesting but becomes predictable toward the end until the last second. The ending is a bit of a letdown and felt meaningless to me, but it built up well.

It's an interesting and highly unique story concept that takes lots of unexpected twists and turns for the first half, the latter half deflates and ends with a whimper but that shouldn't mar your enjoyment of the film unless you're thinking about it too hard like I was.

7. Dredd
Excellent, tightly packed film, there were so many ways they could have ruin the main two characters of Dredd and Anderson, by making them too dark and unlikable, or over sexualising Anderson, but they chose not to. If anything, my main problem is that it's too short. I feel like I could've watched another half when it was over, I wanted to see more of the Megacities, more villains for Dredd to oppose. I look forward to the hopeful sequel, which will go into production if the DVD sells well according to rumours.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
A very good adventure story, Martin Freeman as Bilbo is more likeable than the entire Fellowship in Lord of the Rings combined due to the fact that he's pretty much the go-to  guy for "Everyman getting caught up in somebody else's adventure", the other members of The Company are also very likable, even if the fact that there's 12 of them causes you to forget the names of most of them. Standout scenes are anything with Bilbo being Billbo, but most especially when he meets Gollum and obtains the ring. 

The main, glaring flaw though is that it's padded as all hell, It takes about 10-20 minutes for Martin Freeman to appear onscreen as Bilbo Baggins, and keeps cutting away from the action to have characters explain somebody's backstory at the drop of a hat which breaks the flow over its knee several times in my opinion, the problems that it has make it not quite as good as Lord of the Rings, which is such a shame because I actually liked all the characters more than anybody in Lord of the Rings, even Gandalf is much more interesting and amusing in here than he was in LOTR, and loved the simplicity of the core story more than Lord of the Rings' story miasma if plots.

5. Amazing Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield was amazing as Spider-Man and Peter Parker, buildup to becoming a hero handled better than in Sam Raimi's films when he seems to gain motivation rather quickly. Fight scenes ok, though the fight between Spidey and the Lizard in the school is the best.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey also far better than Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane., even if she does bear a strong resemblance to Lana Lang from Smallville, except more likeable and not a Mary-Sue. Problems include Spider-Man not quite as funny as trailers implied, as well as entire plotlines outright being removed from the film.

Personal bias puts this film further than it would've been, as some of the film's flaws may be difficult for many viewers to look past, and indeed on a second viewing I found the pace to be far slower than I remember.

4. The Woman in Black
Really good ghost story, some overuse of jump scares and creepy children's toys, but, Daniel Radcliffe played a really good character I felt, because the fact he's so young makes you empathise with his hardships much more.

3. Ted
The funniest film of the year from start to finish, while it clearly takes a lot of its traits from Family Guy like the cutaway gags and the referencial humour and nonsequitors, the characters are more rounded and interesting to watch, rather than just vehicles for the jokes like the rest of Seth Macfarlane's works.

A standout scene I must mention is the cocaine fueled scene in the middle of the film that would be a crime for me to spoil.

2. Chronicle
Best POV camera film I've seen, I liked the disturbing character growth of Andrew who is portrayed like a school shooter waiting to happen, but with telekinetic powers instead of guns, I also like the creative use of the telekinesis in that the characters use their powers on the In-Universe Camera, that allows for clearer visuals and greater clarity in the more hectic scenes. The escalation is also quite good, the film builds up to a climax where I genuinely didn't know what was going to happen next.

1. Avengers Assemble.
Best Marvel film ever made, including all the Marvel Studios films leading up to it. Everything I looked forward to happening happened, and then some. I especially liked how lots of the things that happen in the film seem like a reward to the viewers who've been following the story for ages, for example I like how the plot was largely based off the first issue of the Avengers comic that was about 10 pages long, and like with Chronicle, it felt like the threats escalated throughout the course of the film resulting in the climax having more weight to it.

So those were my favorite films of 2012. Films that didn't quite meet my ridiculously high standards include Prometheus, the Hunger Games and the two claymation films Paranorman, and Pirates on an Adventure with Scientists. Perhaps next year's Animated products will fare better. I look forward to Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Wreck-It Ralph and Django Unchained, the latter two of which would probably have made it on this list if it weren't for the fact that the European releases were months too late.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Doctor Who - Everything Dies (A strictly opinion based essay)

Everything has it's time, everything dies.

After watching the first part of Christopher Eccleston's series of Doctor Who, I have to say. My mind's changed on which series is my favourite.

I think Eccleston's one series is the best story, it has a clear theme that flew over my head. There is a repeated meme that "Everything has it's time, and everything dies." as The Doctor states in the second episode. And it's true, most episodes are about something dying, or something approaching death.

1. The End of the World: The Earth is destroyed and the last pure blooded Human dies. The Doctor states he is the last Time Lord.
2. Dalek: The last Dalek dies.
3. Boom Town: The last of the Slitheen Family dies.
4. Empty Child: The theme of this episode is that there is occasionally a rare subversion, everything dies, but sometimes you get an extra chance. But, as The Doctor says "Just this once.".
5. Father's Day: Rose's father dies, despite the events of the story.
6. Parting of the Ways: The Earth is wiped out. The 9th Doctor dies. But gets an extra chance.

The central theme, as I've made clear, is that everything, without exception, eventually dies. And that you should make the most of it, whether you get lucky or not.

THAT is a problem David Tennant and Matt Smith have, because after evading death for so long as the 9th Doctor, he starts thinking that he and his friends are invulnerable, that they don't have to take responsibility, and that they don't have to let things die. Both David Tennant and Matt Smith have saved the Universe from non-existence twice, and there appears to be no negative consequences for this. In fact, they actually get rewarded. For example, Steven Moffat admitted that in Torchwood, the Cardiff Rift was now never created since Matt Smith saved the Universe that first time. The 11th Doctor even admits that he knows that he's leading people to their deaths, but keeps doing it anyway.

After clearly accepting that everything dies and getting a second chance at his own life, as David Tennant, he goes on more dangerous adventures, kills the Devil himself, because again, screw responsibility, and gets a lot of people killed in the process and ruins the lives of many many people without the villains help. And after Rose herself learns that everything has to end, she gets to have her Dad back by fetching him from a parallel Universe. And after he loses all his companions for reasons that are totally his fault, he moans for a year's worth of episodes, puts himself in more dangerous situations, tries to sacrifice himself several times and then at the last second decides he's not ready because the 10th Doctor's clearly bipolar. And as Matt Smith, the central theme is "Time can be rewritten.", meaning that using his time machine, he can in fact take no responsibility for causing people's deaths, which is an even bigger step backwards in terms of character. Another theme is the consequence of stories and legends, but there's no responsibility involved because he saves the Universe from being erased by wishing really hard. He almost learns his lesson when he is ready to accept his death at the climax of series 6, but changes his mind again for no discernable reason.

I wouldn't have a problem with this if each Doctor was their own story, that they didn't follow on form one another, because each Doctor has a consistent characterisation, but the fact that it's meant to be the same guy gives me the distinct impression that he's just plain refusing to grow up even after being taught the hard way.

I have a lot of friends in real life who refuse to accept responsibility and grow up, and I don't want my fictional characters acting the same way because that's just stupid to watch. Things like Doctor Who are meant to be escapism.

And just so I'm clear, I love Doctor Who, it's one of my favourite, if not my favourite live action TV series, and I like the characters of the 10th and 11th Doctors, they're, on the surface, more fun to watch than the 9th Doctor. I think some of the standalone stories of the 10th and 11th Doctor are better than the 9th Doctor's standalone stories, it's just that when you stand them next to one another, it becomes clear that the reason they're more fun is that they're thinking in the short term, not thinking of responsibility, not knowing things have to end. This is something the writers need to learn too.

I'm no expert writer, I'm not saying I'm more intelligent than Steven Moffat and Russel T David, I think the fact that they built such spectacle proves they're more creative the I could hope to be. But if I were in Steven Moffat's position, I would end the Silence storyline, specifically end it with the 11th Doctor's death, which is the originator of the Silence's name, his Silence, his death.

Everything dies, after all, and it's about time Doctor Who did.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Arrow (Also I complain about Smallville)

Has somebody placed some kind of curse on some of DC's superheroes names that causes them to not be spoken aloud? I've watched a few live action DC adaptations recently, such as the Dark Knight Trilogy, Smallville, Green Lantern and now Arrow and they all seem very shy about reminding you what the superheroes names are with a few exceptions like Batman and the Green Lantern probably out of fear of sounding ridiculous.

Nevermind. Arrow is a TV series made by the same company that brought us Smallville, and it's crap. It's adapted from DC's Green Arrow stories, it's about a rich businessman named Oliver Queen, who becomes a costumed vigilante who wields a bow and arrow after being forced to learn archery when stranded on a desert island.

I had a love/hate relationship with Smallville, because for every excellent thing about Smallville (1) that made me love it, there was an equally bad thing that made it a chore to watch (2). Arrow has far less of the former. 

(1) Excellent parts in question being the characters of Lex Luthor, Lionel Luthor, Lois Lane and Oliver Queen. The wonderfully tragic storyline of the episode 'Commencement', the excellent dynamics between the Justice Society in series 9. And some of the interpretations of the DC mythos, like the short lived appearance of Booster Gold. Amongst other examples.

(2) Awful parts in question being the decision to make the least likeable character the most powerful character on the planet, outstripping Superman himself and then never using the powers for anything ever again making her look an even worse person for being so lazy after claiming she would do good. Also everything about the finale.

So, it's a reboot of sorts of Smallville's Universe centred around the character of Oliver Queen, AKA, the Green Arrow. Except it strips away the superpowers and general comic book-y aspects, like the titles character's bloody name, and sticks to the purely none-powered characters and depowers the ones that DID have powers. And if you're thinking that sounds influenced by Christopher Nolan's interpretation of Batman you'd be right, from the 'trying-to-be-similar sounding' narration (One of the lines is "In order to protect my city I must because someone else, I must become....SOMETHING ELSE.") to the fact that Oliver Queen builds a secret base that looks suspiciously like the Batcave (Fun fact, in the original Green Arrow comics, he had 'The Arrowcave', which is what I hope the writers of Arrow were referring to.) it makes this series look like it has no originality to speak of, but that's not actually strictly true.

Credit where credit is due I suppose, one thing they get right about adapting it Nolan style is that they understand that if they're making it real then they have to strip away the characters who were unreal, and add new characters they serve new purposes to the plot that the original material lacked. So, gone are whatever supporting characters the Green Arrow had, and bring on the new characters, like Oliver Queen's bodyguard, who is the only likeable character, Oliver Queen's suspiciously alive mother (Who was dead in the comics from the first issue.) and a new sister, though the sister doesn't count because they seem to be implying that she's the adapted counterpart of Green Arrow's sidekick 'Speedy' in the comics by calling her that as a sarcastic nickname.

Speaking of sarcastic nicknames, that's a problem I had with Smallville too. It's ok writers, if you want to make some new material for existing sets of characters, that's perfectly fine, but don't treat the source material as a sarcastic suggestion by referencing it in the form of funny nicknames because it gives the impression that you're laughing at the very thought of such silly comic book nonsense, whilst adapting said silly comic book nonsense and acting as if your version is more dignified.

Back to Arrow though. Besides all that backstory nonsense, I still don't like it all that much. Like I said earlier, I like some ideas for new material, one example being Oliver Queen's different motivation and characterisation, and the duel story mechanic they use, in which each episode will alternate between two stories, one story in the present day when he's back home and becoming a vigilante, and a story in the past back when he was on a dessert island. We slowly learn the circumstances behind his disappearance, his return and his transformation from rich nobhead to rich nobhead with a bow.

It's all for naught though, because I think the writing is shockingly generic, they say their generic badass phrases, their generic sarcastic comebacks, they have their generic plots within interesting ideas, and none of it engages me because I feel like I've seen it all before. Oliver Queen himself is a generic anti-hero, he says gruff things in his gruff voice and then kills people, which doesn't make him likable it makes me agree with one of the antagonists, who's a police officer that believes Arrow is a serial killer, which he clearly is because he goes after specific individuals rather than fights crime, and murders a lot of people he knows to be innocent but lets lots of his victims live for some reason.

I'd recommend this series to people who don't mind the generic, which covers a relatively wide audience. I suppose it's not awful, it just could've been so much better, and I think my problem is that I was never expecting it to be better at any point.