Pots (well, kinda)

I’m required to take several art credits for school, and since I’ve always wanted to try pottery, I decided to take a pottery class.

Or rather a ceramics class. Which is basically the same except this is college so there’s more talking about the history of ceramics (which is, incidentally, over 10,000 years old), which ties into archaeology and ancient cultures which are things I’ve always been interested in. So that works. Plus we get to make stuff. Stuff we can actually use.

Basically, I’m really, really enjoying this class.

I’m skipping ahead a bit with this post – there was a bit of making stuff out of coils and slabs before we got to throwing. I did make a bunch of mugs and bowls that way, some of which are interesting, but throwing is kind of where it’s at. It also looks sooo easy in videos but is incredibly frustrating.

However, here are some mugs I threw. They’re still pretty rough, and I’m not very good at handles. Glazing is one of those things where you have to hope for the best, even if you think you know what you’re doing. I really want to get a lot more technical but I’ll save that. Anyway.

Funny thing, the glaze I used on this is supposed to be blue. But it’s a kind of blue that tends to run, and that makes it change colours. At least I think that’s what I used. I even got a pretty decent pulled handle!

Ah, now this one I got the blue to do what I wanted. It ran, but it left a trail. I think I did stripes, and the blue ran over and moved things around. No complaints.

Most handles you see on mugs are done using “pulling”, which is one of those very frustrating things. With this mug I tried to do something different. I’m not absolutely sure what it was, but the top ended up looking vaguely bird-like.

After seeing how that “I don’t know what I was going for” handle turned out, I decided to try and make one that looks like a chain. It was supposed to look rusty. This is a mug that turned out OK but I messed up trimming it (which is where you take the excess clay off) but I kept it anyway.

This one’s just cute, and I think it’s the first decent pulled handle I made. This one is also that blue glaze, and I think I actually dipped it (which gives you nice clean results) rather than using a brush (which does weird things, and I prefer to do).

This one is probably one of my favourite mugs. The shape just ended up exactly the way I wanted, and I didn’t even bother putting a handle on it. When I learned that we can paint (technically it’s not paint, but…) pots before firing them for the first time, I started doing that to just about everything. This is the first mug I did that with, and the first to also get glazed and fired again. It originally had green and white stripes, and the inside was white. I put a clear glaze on, which I was hoping would keep the colours from being muted, but I like how it turned out.

This last one is actually the only one that’s actually part of an assignment for the class. We’re supposed to make a set with a theme, so I made a few that are based on a video game (it was the first thing I thought of). I actually carved that thing into it when it was bone dry. I tried to get something to come out black before but it didn’t work, so I dipped this thing in every single black glaze I could find. Which is why it’s a very dark brown with hints of purple. The orange highlights are supposed to be red. I have a bunch more similar to that, and a few with horns (yes, horns), but none of those are ready yet.

I actually made more than this, but I gave a few away. Also my camera decided it doesn’t like any of its batteries. And I’ll hopefully have more in a few weeks… the whole “patience” thing is the hardest thing about ceramics.

Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Daddy Issues


[Note: as usual, footnotes probably won’t work unless you read the full article]

We are currently enjoying the golden age of superhero movies. We had a couple of good Spider-Man franchises[1]Raimi’s studio-meddled Spider-Man 3 notwithstanding.and the insane amount of Avengers and X-Men movies, plus Guardians of the Galaxy and, more recently, the much anticipated (and record breaking) Deadpool.

Eagle-eyed[2]and nerdy readers will notice these are all Marvel titles[3]Non-nerdy readers may as well skip a few paragraphs. Or the whole post.. DC movies tended to be kitchy as all hell (like the horrible series of Batman movies starring Michael Keaton[4]I mean, seriously, Michael Keaton?, Val Kilmer[5]I mean, seriously, Val Kilmer??? and George Clooney[6]It’s like they had a “Lets See If We Can Come Up With A Worse Batman” contest.). Then we had the horrific Superman Returns and (ugh) Green Lantern. Yeah, Marvel had some terrible movies, too[6]*cough*The Wolverine*cough* but the deck was stacked pretty badly.

Then we had Chistopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, and Man of Steel[7]which has mixed reviews, but I liked it., and it looked like DC was turning things around.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was hyped halfway to Krypton ever since it was announced, and not surprisingly. We’re talking about two of DC’s biggest characters, both coming together after a bunch of really good movies. Plus a lot of people assumed (correctly) that it would draw on one of the most critically acclaimed Batman comic series.

Sure, it has some hype-hiccups, like when we all learned that Christian Bale would be replaced as Batman by none other than Ben Affleck, whom we all still don’t trust after Daredevil[8]Oh yeah, add that one to the bad Marvel entries. Along with Electra. But then we heard that Wonder Woman will be making her very first Big Screen appearance.

I’m going to do a non-footnote tangent here: can you believe Wonder Woman has never been in a movie before? In fact, she’s not been in live-action since the 1970s! Now I love Lynda Carter as much as the next guy, and she did some amazing stuff for a show made in the ’70s, but Wonder Woman did not deserve to be neglected, relegated to Straight-To-DVD animation for for 40 years.

Then again, they’d probably not have done her justice[9]No pun intended. up until the mid-2000s, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Anyway.

Wonder Woman was supposed to have a small cameo, but the hype made them give her a bigger part, which made even more hype.

Then release day approached, and critic screenings took place, and, well, the prognosis wasn’t very good. When it was released to the public, initial reviews from non-hardcore fans weren’t great. People were saying Wonder Woman was the only good thing in the movie, but despite being uncameoed, she still didn’t have a huge role.

Which is why I didn’t bother watching it in the theatre.

But it’s out for the home market now, so I finally got to see it. Apparently I watched the Ultimate Edition which has some deleted scenes added back in.

So, five hundred and forty three words in, I can start my actual review.

I’d have enjoyed this movie much less had I watched it in the theatre. It’s about three hours long. My review would’ve basically have been mostly about wanting to go to the bathroom. “Too long” was one of the criticisms it received, and that’s fairly justified when you can’t pause it.

Another criticism was that there were “too many characters.” I’m not sure about that one. This is hardly an ensemble cast like any Avengers or X-Men. You’ve got Superman and his non-superhero supporting cast, Batman and his, uh, Alfred, and a couple of minutes of Wonder Woman.

Now there is a bit in the middle with short cameos for a few other Justice League characters. You get a minute or so of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, and if you’re not aware of the DC universe, those probably made very little sense and seemed a bit out of place. Heck, I knew who they all were and it still felt out of place. There’s another sequence with The Flash earlier in the film, and that part made very little sense, too[10]Yes, I know, Crisis, Darkseid, etc. Probably confused anyone who doesn’t know what that means. Also it was in Batman’s dream!.

Another criticism which I agree with is that the thing had absolutely no humour. Not just that, there’s no lightness. There were plenty of opportunities for light conversations, for friendly banter, even decent trash-talk. Nope[11]Actually, now that I think about it, there’s one throwaway “dialogue” that’s supposed to be kind of funny. And now that I think about that, it makes no sense..

The movie starts out with Bruce Wayne having a bad dream or… something… remembering his parents being murdered and their funeral. Then some weird stuff happens. Sure, it’s a dream, but…

He has more weird dreams throughout the movie.

At some point Superman goes on walkabout and talks to his father’s ghost[12]Yes, I know, Third Man Factor, whatever.. And Lex Luthor also goes on about his father, too. It’s a good thing Wonder Woman didn’t have time for that[13]I’m not actually sure if she even has a father in the DC Movieverse.. Basically, everyone in this thing is a bit messed up.

That all said, I actually enjoyed the thing. They went out of their way to build up the animosity between Batman and Superman, and make it all make sense. They generally took their sweet time, but hey, I actually have an attention span[14]And a pause button.. They actually gave the characters some depth.

Ben Affleck did a good job as Batman, too. He actually looked like the kind of Batman who could kick Superman’s butt. Now we all know that Batman can beat anyone with prep-time, but it’s still some work to make it not look silly. They pulled that off. He had the reasons, the motivations and the means to defeat him – again, they took their time building that up – and when he decides not to kill him, when they finally connect, it makes sense[15]Despite Lois Ex Machina..

The action sequences were also flawless. Good fight scenes, fantastic CG. They also took the time to show the consequences from all the collateral damage from Man of Steel and that the heroes took care to avoid it this time. The final battle against Doomsday was fairly epic. Yes, they changed Doomsday’s origin story, and frankly made him considerably weaker than his comic book appearance, but he (it?) was still an incredibly powerful adversary. It was Doomsday who kills Superman in the comic book, too[16]He gets better..

I love the new Wonder Woman look (which was publicised well before the movie) – I always thought the Stars and Stripes were a bit… out of place for an amazon – Wonder Woman is no more American than Superman. Less, even – he grew up in America. Wonder Woman is several thousand years older than America! So I love the more Amazon-Warrior like outfit[17]And I find it somewhat funny that it’s less revealing than the one Lynda Carter wore in the ’70s.. And the sword!

I was a bit worried about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, because I’ve never seen her, well, act in anything before. One thing I had a very, very silly misconception about was her accent. I know this sounds weird, having grown up in Israel, I find people speaking English with an Israeli accent to be extremely jarring. I don’t know why. I’ve heard her on talk shows and I just wasn’t sure she could pull off an American accent.

And yes, I realise that everything I just said about the outfit should also apply to the accent. There’s absolutely no reason for Wonder Woman to have an American accent. if anything, she should have an Ancient Greek accent. Gal Gadot speaks in a possibly slightly toned down version of her natural accent. And it works.

Also, she apparently improvised one of (to me) the best moments Wonder Woman has in the movie, the one that fully shows her Amazon Warrior personality. It’s a very small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part. During the final battle against Doomsday, when she realises this creature is going to be almost impossible to defeat, she smiles. She conveys Wonder Woman’s relish of battle perfectly. I’m looking forward to her standalone movie[18]And I hope they let it have some light moments..

Now, there were a few moments in the movie where the heroes just stand around and talk rather than doing something. If you’re going to stop Lex Luthor, friggin stop him already, don’t let him just do stuff. As Tuco said, “When you have to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk!”

All in all, though, I… kind of wish they made more movies – especially action movies – that require some attention span. Ones that take the time to develop characters. It’d be nice if they realised you can take yourself seriously without being so serious, but what can you do. I definitely don’t regret seeing this movie, but I also don’t regret waiting until I could see it at home.

Construction

Yup, they’re still building that monstrosity right in the park.

Yeah, that’s such an improvement.

But hey, at least the turtles like it.

14

I’ve decided to retroactively make this Gigi’s 14th birthday picture. I took it about a week before her birthday which ended up being rainy and overcast, as usual.

The Hunger Trains -or- This Is A Weird Movie Review Even For Me


Note: the footnotes might not work if you’re not viewing the full post (which you do by clicking the title).

Rachel made me do this.[1]Also showed me how to do most of it.

I have recently watched the entire The Hunger Games series. [2]That wasn’t Rachel’s fault. I take full responsibility. They’re OK but they shouldn’t have split the last one into two movies blah blah blah Jennifer Lawrence etc.

I asked my friend Rachel if she watched it, even though I assumed she hadn’t. She said she was pretty much pressured into watching it and that she “hated the train”. Which I found surprising because who doesn’t love Maglevs? She said that the thing took a sharp turn going too fast and the g-force would be too strong and would squish people. I said it didn’t look that bad to me.

“Do the math,” Rachel said.[3]And, ironically, here’s a tangent: I used to not like math, or “get” math, at all. But since going back to school and taking a required math class… I’m kind of enjoying it. It is confusing.

I knew how to do some of the math, and Google showed me a bit more, but there was a lot I didn’t know how to do, so I got Rachel to tell me how to do that.

When we were done, Rachel said I need to publish the findings.

So, here we go.

Disclaimer: while we’re using real math, physics and geometry, I had to guesstimate some stuff. This is noted in the text.


The formula for calculating g-force is Velocity Squared divided by Radius:

Which means we need to figure out the velocity and the radius of the turn.

Velocity is easy – we are told that the train travels at 200MPH.[4]Which is, frankly, not that fast. It’s the normal speed of the famous Japanese bullet train, which is not even a magnetic levitation train, and it’s top speed is actually higher. And we’ve had a maglev train actually hit 500KPH, which is about 300MPH. We need that in meters per second. We multiply by 1.6 to convert miles to kilometers, then multiply by 1000 to convert kilometers to meters, and then divide by the number of seconds in an hour (3600):

I’m just going to round that up to 90 because I want to.

Now for the fun part. We need the radius. Rachel said that’s easy, too, because for some reason she thought I’d know basic geometry. I do not,[5]I think my math class starts geometry next week. despite Rachel saying PI at me repeatedly. So she gave me the formulas. First, we know (now) that Circumference equals two PI times Radius:

But since we don’t know the circumference, we need to calculate that. Luckily there’s a formula that can give us that based on stuff we do know: Length of the Arc equals Circumference times Arc’s Angle divided by 360:

We can combine these two formulas[6]Which Rachel made me do before I was allowed to put numbers in anywhere. by replacing C in the latter with it’s equivalent from the former:

Since we want the radius, we need to get that r all on it’s own. So we divide by 2π:

And yes I could display that a little nicer, but since we still need to isolate that r, we now divide by (A/360):[7]Also we regret using MathML.

I personally think that’s good enough but Rachel said to simplify it even more, plus we may as well switch sides a bit, so we cross-multiply or some math voodoo:

Now we’re allowed to put numbers in, which means we need to figure out the arc’s length and angle.

This is where it gets fun and I had to start guessing things.

First, I had to estimate the length of the train. We’re shown the inside of the cars, so I estimate them to be 15 meters in length. This makes the entire train (5 cars plus some stubby things at the ends) 85 meters long. Here, visual aid:

We’re shown that train for a bit more than 3 seconds, which is enough for 3 one-second screenshots:

We see that the train moves slightly more than one train-length each second. Since we know the thing is going about 90 meters per second, that validates my size estimation. We can use this to figure out the length of the arc.

This is here things get a bit more guessy – we’re not shown the train actually entering the arc (it’s not curving yet), and based on how much smaller it is, I’m estimating how long it’d take to get all the way to the end there at about 12 seconds. But it straightens back up by then, so I’m thinking time in the arc itself is about 7 seconds. Again, guessing.

We know that Distance equals Rate times Time, and we have the Rate (90m/s) and Time (7 seconds), so:

But what about the arc’s angle? Well… I’m not sure this counts as guessing. I think it’s more extrapolation.[8]But I’m not going to claim it’s any more valid or any less nonsense than the straight up guessing. I basically drew the rest of the circle based on the arc, then straightened it up, and then put a protractor on it:

So we have a 40° angle.

Which means that, at long last, we can figure out the radius![9]And be thankful to the gods of Cut and Paste. Which is actually a thing. It’s called The Church of Kopimism.

Which gives us:

This is the point where I think I’m done, and then remember I did all that to figure out the g-force. So now that we have our velocity (90m/s) and our radius (902.4), we plug that back in and get:

Now, if you were strapped down correctly, that’d probably not kill you. You might not even black out, assuming you happen to be a trained fighter pilot and are wearing a specialised flight suit.

But since Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t seem to have one of those, we need to slow that train down. Unless we want to issue “Return to seats, buckle in and hope for the best” warnings before each turn, we should probably keep it at 2.5g.

And because I’m tired of using MathML,[10]I know what you’re thinking. “There’s no MathML in here!” Well there was, but I couldn’t get it to work right so I replaced it with images… I’m going to just tell you that the train needs to slow down to a relative crawl of about 170 KPH (which is about 105 MPH)


I should also point out that the level of technology exhibited in the movie is pretty much at the “Magic” level.[11]In fact, it pretty much invalidates the premise for the entire movie. We could very easily hand-wave this whole thing and say they have inertial dampers.

But where’s the fun in that?

Stars


Note: footnotes might not work unless you click on the full article.

I don’t remember the first time I looked up at the stars.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and place where the stars were ubiquitous – clear skies and not a lot of light pollution. So they were just always there.

But I know I looked up and wanted to know more about them.

The first TV show I remember watching (When I was about 3) is Star Trek[1]Yes, the original series. The episode was “Who Mourns for Adonais?”. Of course that made me want to know more about stars. I mean, it has “star” in the name!

When I was about 10, I found this book about astronomy.[2]It had a red cover, but I don’t remember the title or anything. That was it. I was hooked. I guess it was my first passion, if you can call it that when you’re 10.

I was outside at night earlier this week. It’s not quite winter yet,[3]It’s supposed to be, but… but it was very crisp. One of those crisp, clear nights with no moon. And there, up in the sky, were all my old friends.

I may not remember the first time I looked up at the stars. But I do remember seeing Orion from the top of a mountain.[4]It was really a tall hill, but that’s less dramatic. I remember looking at Cassiopeia from the shores of The Dead Sea. I remember the Pleiades from a parking lot in upstate New York. I remember the first time I saw the moon through a telescope.

It made me think about how astronomy might be the first stepping stone for a lot of other fellow-sciency-nerds.

I saw the stars, and I wanted to know more about them. And so I read books about them. Some of them were just regular books about astronomy. But some were books about people going to other stars. Or beings from other stars coming here[5]Yes, yes, other planets. Artistic license.. And some of these books were movies and TV shows.

And those other books, movies and TV shows, those fictional ones, they introduced me to a lot more than green-skinned women and guys with pointy ears. They introduced me to electronics, to chemistry, to physics, to robotics. Now, I’m not saying all of those stuck,[6]I couldn’t do physics if you spoon-fed me the drag coefficient and I’m not even saying I’m an expert about astronomy, but just knowing about them was cool. Also, some of them did stick.[7]Ok, so my cat-deterrent robot failed miserably, but that’s besides the point And they left me with a life-long desire to learn more and understand how things work.

Most of what I — and just about every single Human being — know about the stars (and every other object out there) is never going to be something we get to experience in person. Of the people alive right now,[8]And throughout history. a precious few have been off this planet. An even smaller number have been to a different celestial body. Farther than that, we’ve sent some devices which, at best, qualify as kind of dumb robots. Within my lifetime, space tourism might take off[9]I see what I did there. and humans might get to Low Earth Orbit on a semi-regular basis. We might get humans to Mars, but barring an incredible and unforeseen technological break, we’re not getting much farther.[10]Again, this is during my lifetime. 100, 200 years from now, I’m not placing any bets.

But that doesn’t matter.[11]I mean, it would be cool, but… The stars have inspired us to do, and find, pretty cool things here on Earth. And until we do get there, our fictional space voyages will have to do. And those, those we have no shortage of, because if there’s one thing us Humans are good at, it’s using our imagination.

Howl! No, not the poem.


Note: Footnotes might not work unless you click into the full post.

Imagine that the year is 1999, and you heard that they were making a live-action Lord of the Rings movie. That’s right, not a terrible animated one with songs[1]Yes, that was a thing.. It’s going to be good!

Then you watch the movie, and they took out the whole Balrog thing (which you’ve been waiting to see), and the whole Saruman thing, and Gandalf never becomes Gandalf the White, and the various armies are using dirigibles and dropping bombs on each other and it’s really not about a ring.

Anyway, back in 2004 they made a movie called Howl’s Moving Castle. It is an Anime movie, and made by famed Anime director Hayao Miyazaki.

Since I don’t usually enjoy Anime I ignored the hell out of it.

A few years ago I was at a used book store and, wouldn’t you know, there was Howl’s Moving Castle, the book. It said “Now a major motion picture!” on it, but I checked just in case and the book was published in 1986. It was written by Diana Wynne Jones, whom I had not heard about before. So, I bought it. I buy a lot of books.

It sat in my “To Read” pile for a few years. Then it got moved up to the “To Read Soon” pile[2]Also known as “the nightstand”..

And then, a few weeks ago, I finally read it. And it is fantastic. Well-written, interesting, self-aware in a delightful[3]I am confident enough in my sexuality to use that word. way. I want to read everything else Diana Wynne Jones ever wrote now[4]And I will..

It takes place in Fantasy-Land, and is the story of Sophie, the oldest of three sisters[5]Actually, one’s a step-sister… but, plot-twist, she’s nice. So is step-mom. She loves and cares for all the children equally, even after Dad dies.. As oldest sister, she knows that she’ll never amount to much – it’s always the younger sisters who are beautiful and talented and marry the prince. Sophie, who is 18, is resigned to a life of making hats in the family hat shop.

Then an Evil Witch shows up, turns Sophie into an old lady, and she ends up running away, which is how she comes upon Howl’s Moving Castle.

See, there’s apparently an Evil Wizard named Howl. And he has a castle. Which moves. Makes sense, right? Anyway, turns out he’s maybe not that evil[6]Though he is incredibly vain. and all the scary stories about him are ones he pretty much encourages. Howl lives in his castle with his apprentice, Michael (whom he rescued as a kid and is now 15), and a fire demon named Calcifer, who pretty much powers the whole castle. Old Lady Sophie shows up and just basically moves in.

Anyway, I read the book, loved it, and decided that yes, I’m not a fan of Anime, but what the hell, lets watch the movie anyway. Ok, so everyone will look like an Anime stereotype, I can deal with that.

Ugh.

I’ll start with what might be a nitpick compared to some of the other things. In the book, the castle moves by hovering slightly above the ground. In the movie it walks around on giant legs and for some reason looks like a giant fish. But you know what? I can easily let that pass as a stylistic/artistic choice.

One of the most fun parts in the book is the interaction between Sophie and Howl. Naturally they start off not really liking each other very much, and their relationship is what can only be described as “extremely confrontational”. Basically they drive each other crazy.

Yeah, that’s not in the movie.

Another fun part is Howl’s background, which is a huge spoiler and I’m not going to spill it here[7]I’m really not. Read the book.. It was entirely unexpected and, again, delightfully done.

None of that in the movie. That whole plot line and plot point doesn’t even exist. I mean he has this thing where he’s turning into some kind of bird monster, but that’s not even remotely close.

The movie also has a huge war going on, with airships and bombs (none of which is in the book), removes a few characters, changes a lot of others, and for some reason Michael’s name changes to Markl[8]Ok. I suppose it’s possible the Japanese version had a problem with the name “Michael”, but why keep that in the English version? They didn’t change any other names, and some of them are considerably more complicated than “Michael”!. Also he’s considerably younger in the movie. Not that it matters since they took his love interest plot out.

Now, Diana Wynne Jones did get to see the movie before it was released[9]Also before she died. Obviously. and she said she liked it and that yes, it’s different from the book, and that’s the way it should be. And it’s her story, so she’s allowed to say that. And I get it, I’m not a Purist. I don’t need it to be 100% like the book. I did not complain when they took Tom Bombadil out of Lord of the Rings – that made sense. But Howl’s Moving Castle is more a “Based On” than an actual adaptation. And here’s the thing – it’s not that it’s not faithful to the plot – it’s not faithful to the feel. The atmosphere. You know how I keep using the word “delightful”? I don’t think there’s any way that can ever be applied to the movie.

And I know, “The Book Is Better Than The Movie” is hardly an unusual conclusion. Nevertheless, in this case the book is vastly better than the movie. In fact, I don’t see how the movie can even stand at all in comparison. I give the book five stars, and I give the movie “That’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back[10]Luckily I started multitasking like crazy half-way through. I just couldn’t take it.

So, yeah. Read the book.

Wasp

I got some cool pictures of this wasp the other day. It was very cooperative. I still had to get way too close than I wanted to, but hey.

See those three spots on its head that kind of look like eyes? They are! Wasps have those cool compound segmented eyes, but they have two different kinds of eyes. This is actually a lot more common than you might think! These are called ocelli.

I think the wasp really, really loves this one flower.

Insects (No Wasps)

A few days ago I found a monarch butterfly caterpillar in my yard. It is the first time I’ve ever found one in my yard (despite years of growing milkweed, and seeing evidence of them). The sad thing is it’s also the first monarch caterpillar I’ve seen this year, at all! Here is a picture of it; it’s not a phenomenal picture, but it’s its own fault for destroying that leaf.

While I was out getting pictures of it, I figured I should see if there was anything else interesting out there. I got a picture of this bee on some phlox:

And this fly:

Oh, and a few days before that there was this bug on my basil plant that looked like one of the leaves. Isn’t it cool?

There was also this wasp, but that’s another post. And if you’re reading this in the blog-order, it’ll have been the one before this once I actually post it.

Three Futures

Futures, alternate presents, whatever. This is actually about TV shows.

There are three new SciFi shows going on right now (well, possibly more, but three I’m following). So, I thought I’d write up some mini-summaries for them. here goes.


Dark Matter

Premise: Six people and one android wake up on a spaceship. They don’t know who they are, or how they got there.
Pros: Interesting premise, decent production values.
Cons: A lot of very obvious tropes, some low-effort, Zoie Palmer.

I don’t know when Canada started making decent SciFi, but hey. This is basically a fun show. Starts out with a lot of questions, and they seem to be answering them at a decent pace while adding new ones without being too irritating. However, there is a bit of the whole People Hiding Secrets From Everyone thing going on.

Also, four episodes in, and they already had a zombie episode. Seriously, guys?

And… look, I know Zoie Palmer can act. She acts in Lost Girl. But if anyone thinks she’s boring in that, you’re going to hate her in this.


Killjoys

Premise: Bounty Hunters in space!!!
Pros: Michelle Lovretta
Cons: SyFy (ugh)

Michelle Lovretta means this show will be well-written, and will have strong female characters (interesting that this show and dark Matter have a Lost Girl connection). The feel of this show is very good. However, SyFy is involved which means a lot of time they’ll put in as little effort as humanly possible.

That’s right. The channel that changed it’s name form “SciFi” to “SyFy” in order to “appeal to women”. The channel that cancelled it’s most successful and highest-rated show ever because “nobody was watching” and used the money saved to produce the absolute worst “scifi” movies ever made.

Let me put it this way, while trying to avoid spoilers. The last episode of Killjoys took place on a starship, and was clearly being filmed in a warehouse. Then there was something happening to people that required extreme special effects to show. So, the first time it happened you got to see it. Every time after that it was happening under clothing. Without affecting the clothing.

Still, as I mentioned, the general atmosphere is good. There are some shades of Firefly in there, and most the acting is good.


Humans

Premise: In the near-future/alternate present, realistic and affordable human-like androids (or Synths) are a reality, with all the social impacts this presents.
Pros: British drama. Watch it.
Cons: I got nothing.

Ok, so we have Jen from The IT Crowd, Original Phillip form Spy, Merlin from Merlin, William Hurt and Gemma Chan, all in a very well-written drama.

This is not SciFi-for-the-sake-of-SciFi (you listening, SyFy? Ugh). This is a good story about people and society, which uses SciFi as it’s medium. The concept is not exactly new – it’s about Humanity adapting to a new reality, and in a way it’s the good ol’ Frankenstein thing. To paraphrase one of the characters on the show, what’s the point of learning any skill when a synth can be taught to do it flawlessly in about 5 minutes? and, to paraphrase Futurama, why have actual relationships with people when you can get an android that looks like Gemma Chan who obeys your every command and comes with an Adult Mode?

…and what happens to society when these automatons have the potential for real intelligence, and real emotions?

This is, by far, my favourite out of the three. I’m not saying it doesn’t have some down-sides or… uncomfortable moments (some of the ones where you want to yell at the characters for being idiots) but it’s well-written and executed drama. It’s moving along at a very good pace, and while questions are being answered there are more revelations which raise more questions. Some of which I am really looking forward to discover the answers to.


So, that’s it. For some reason I feel the need to write a summary of the summaries, but I’ll just leave it at that. Maybe I’ll go watch Season 3 of Orphan Black