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I just finished watching the first season of JESSICA JONES. Now by coincidence I read the first three trade paperbacks of the comics just before I started watching, and borrowed the 4th volume from the library today. So, I was already into the character before i watched a single episode.

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And I found the TV series a good adaptation of those comics. Sure, there are extra characters, and some characters, like Luke Cage act very differently than they do in the comics, but what makes this series sing for me, as much as the comics did, is the characterizations. Goddess Jessica is tough, but much tougher on herself than anyone else. I liked seeing "The Night Nurse" who turns up in the Daredevil series (which I've also been watching). I'd guessed how the season arc was going to end but it was still nail biting until the resolution. It's also obvious what the story arc of the next season's going to be, and I look forward to that as well.

In many ways Jessica reminds me so much of FAITH from BUFFY. Some attitude and strength and vulnerability. She even mentioned "fighting the big bad" in the final ep, a classic reference to Buffy.

I think what added a lot to this series (and to Daredevil as well) was the "flat" manner in which the scenes were shot, and a really good pacing between highs and lulls in each episode.

Loved it!
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I watched a lot of shows while a friend was visiting from New Zealand. We saw all of Sense8, This is Not My Life, and The Expanse.

Sense8 is a netflix series (as is The Expanse) and follows a "cluster" of eight people who share more than is normal for humans to share. I loved its visual lushness and the fact it was set in eight different cities. The plot is simple and slow moving, but you don't notice that at the time. I also liked the fact it has a trans woman character played by a trans woman. They're making a second season now.

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This is Not My life is a 2010 New Zealand show which has many similarities to the classic The Prisoner show from the 60s. In the first episodes Alec Ross awakes one morning to find that he doesn't know who or where he is and doesn't recognize his wife or children. b In fact he may not be Alec Ross at all, and other people in the town get "replaced" and no one seems to notice. If a resident causes problems they have mandatory "counseling" or end up at WELLNESS, a generic physical and mental health centre.

There are reasons behind all of this and they become apparent as the first (and only) season progresses. I found the episodes well written but agonizingly slow. The result is like a car crash in slow motion, but the overall execution is brilliant in its detail. All the house and office interiors are deliberately minimalist and bland and people's clothing mirrors that. Apparently the story might be developed in a US setting as well.

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The Expanse is an SF story set in a future where humanity has spread throughout the solar system. There are four factions: Earth, Mars, the Outer Planets Alliance, and the Belters (who live and work in the Asteroid Belt). There are three streams of narratives that intertwine around a series of mysterious and incidents that threaten to start an interplanetary war. This would have to be one of the most realistic SF series I've ever seen, and could plausibly be in the same universe as Firefly. There are lots of nice touches and attention to detail that make things believable. My friend and I joked that the same gas powered forklift was used across the belt, but that's the silliest it gets.

REMEMBER THE CANT!

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_______________________
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Leonard Nimoy, 83, passes away at home

Am rather sad over this, and have been crying a lot today.
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Watched this for lunch. I liked it, and I was WRONG (for which I'm grateful). I predict two things: after watching this episode many people will be UPSET, and local TV stations will have inappropriate voice-overs during the credits.

Speaking of which, make sure you WATCH ALL THE CREDITS.

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Been working on this all day. Follow the link for a much larger version:
A fortuitous accident

Who would have thought that travelling to Lawndale to check out old man DeMartino would have led to an accident, and a vital clue because of that?
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Ha ha ha ha ha - had to laugh.

It's election day here today, and I'll vote later. But just now I was watching this week's episode of VIKINGS and there's a scene where they're describing Ragnarök to the Christian. The voice over described all these horrible apocalyptic events, culminating with "at last, Fenrir will swallow the sun and blot out the sky"...

...followed by a news break which announced "Next, the Coalition unveils its policy costings!"
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I was especially PISSED OFF when I discovered this morning that ELEVEN had replaced REPEATS OF VOYAGER with REPEATS OF SEX IN THE CITY.. There are in fact showing VOYAGER at the 2pm time-slot weekdays, but is is still in season 5, and the last episode broadcast in the "three episodes in a row Friday time-slot" was the season six finale, a 2-parter which would have been concluded in the 1st episode of season 7.
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Doctor Who

Sunday 7.30pm
ABC1

Get ready for the Doctor to kick off his adventures in the 50th anniversary year of the series with his new companion Clara – an impossible girl he’s already lost twice. Together they find themselves battling monsters on distant alien planets, trapped in a Russian submarine with a deadly passenger and so much more. The epic new series is coming, so get your TARDIS ready.
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There's an annoying glitch with my Telefunken STB/PVR in the lounge.

For some reason it refuses to program-record shows on certain channels and and also certain channels at certain times. In particular I can't seem to schedule recordings on NITV, and schedule recordings of anything on ABC2 very early mornings! This is mighty peculiar because the Bedroom Set Top Box does both, and they are both the same model. This is frustrating because I want to record Welcome to Wapos Bay in the mornings, and repeats of Sanctuary in the very early mornings.

Can't quite see why this should happen. The last time I had troubles like this, the lounge-room STB wouldn't record anything! Tried everything including swapping over the teo PVRs and had the same result. It transpired however that the fault was with the HDMI cable I had attached to the TV. When I tried a cheap (but shorter) cable it worked! Normally what happens with ABC2 is that it'll record the first program on that night, but skip the one scheduled for the following early  morning. Strange.

Of course writing this now, I know that the one in the lounge has a BIOS update and the one in the bedroom doesn't.  I guess my choices are to a) devise a work-around; do extensive tests; or c) replace them. I'd rather keep them because I find in general they work quite well and I like the remotes. One reason I'm recording Sanctuary in the lounge and not the bedroom is that ONE have been showing Defying Gravity at the the same timeslot. (a show about a manned space flight to the planets). If I screw up with Sanctuary I can still watch episodes off the net, but they don't seem to exist for Defying Gravity. However, the last episode's on next week.

Think I'm just a bit obsessed with recording/watching shows? Maybe, but I've found "watching my show" to be a reliable way of relaxing and unwinding - things I often have trouble doing.
 

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They finished repeating Star Trek: Next Generation on ELEVEN tonight.

Just now, after that, they're also showing a "wrap-up" special hosted by Jonathon Frakes that would have been current when the show ended - it proudly announces a new show called "Voyager, due to start airing in January 1995! This is great because I don't recall seeing this the first time around. Like everybody else I've been watching Trek since about 1967. I used to be a life member of Westrek, a fan club which at its height was 300+ members strong and had monthly showings of old episodes (they used to hire out a large hall). When I left Perth for good it was reassuring to find in Newcastle an equivalent called Novatrek, smaller in size but very much the same in spirit.

Like Dr Who there's something about watching Trek episodes "live" for me, even if I record them and watch them later. I guess because Trek has always been produced for commercial channels, the advert breaks have also been a part of the stories, with the action or plot reaching a crest just before the ads. I've watched all the Trek TV shows, and these were of course repeats since there's no current show on air right now. But Next Gen is a but different. When the TEN Network first showed repeats of NextGen I have a video recorder and was taking the episodes. Then in 2001 the World Trade Center got attacked. In the morning I fast forwarded through the tape looking for Trek, but amazed at the "special effects" for the episode of The West Wing that'd been on before it! Took a little while before the penny dropped on that.

But then Next Gen went off free-to-air entirely (it and the other Trek series went to pay TV). I'd been left hanging at Time Squared and it wasn't until the other year that the network started showing it again - this time on a digital channel ELEVEN. I decided to skip all the episodes until the one after that, The Icarus Factor. Over that period they started showing double episodes and then triple episodes and it became a pattern for me to record all three and watch them as I drew webcomics in the lounge room. Better to watch something one knows than new material. Doing that I discovered that Next Generation held up well over time. It was the last Trek series that Gene Roddenberry worked on and in many ways more fully realized his vision than the original series.

While NextGen's been repeated, the Ten network also abortively tried showing Deep Space Nine and sometimes Old Trek, but neither stuck. Voyager is currently being repeated in triple episodes on Saturday nights, but somehow it's a series best recorded and watched on my bedroom TV. I don't know what they intend to show next Thursday night in the time-slot (DS9 would be nice) but somehow I feel like this cycle is now complete. It's a good feeling.

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abc29:30pm Friday, October 12 2012
My Transsexual Summer

My Transexual Summer, Episode 01

Series Synopsis

One summer, one house, many gender identities. Seven people share their transgender experiences on the path to becoming the men and women they've always wanted to be.

Episode Synopsis

Episode 01
Seven people live under one roof to share the experience of changing their gender identities to become the men and women they have always wanted to be.

Max, 25, hopes to become Britain's first transgender rabbi.

Former policeman Karen, 52, is preparing for full gender-affirmation surgery.

Drew, 22, is stuck living at home, desperate to escape the world where people constantly ask, 'Is that a boy or a girl?'

Lewis, 22, is raising money for a double mastectomy and is investigating a phalloplasty (penis construction) - surgeries that he feels will make him fully male.

Fox, 30, has been transitioning for six months and he struggles to overcome his feminine looks.

Donna, 25, is content living between genders but finds it difficult to navigate relationships.

And Sarah, 28, has recently begun to live full-time as a woman and is building up the courage to tell her parents.

Although some housemates derive enormous strength from family and friends, others are cut off and many struggle to find work. The members of this group develop friendships and support each other to overcome some of the challenges of being transgender.

Can't be worse than big-brother, or Something about Miriam.
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Am still enjoying the original Dark Shadows which I'm watching a few episodes a day. They've just introduced Dr Hoffman and it's clear she thinks she knows something unusual!

But there's only 20 episodes left in this collection of volume 1 & 2. I went online to see if there's more and in fact the whole series has been released, but the other volumes (up to volume 26) are $US 39.95 each! If I wanted the special set with a signed card from Johnathon Frid (who dies this year) I could be it for $US 599!!!

Hmmm. Maybe it'd be easier if I convinced one of the digital channels to show it as a daily midnight filler. Tsk - Big-W - you've lured me into the hard stuff with the introductory set.



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My Bauhn Set Top Boxes (STBs) - which I bought last year to replace the GVA ones which started malfunctioning - began malfunctioning themselves! Initially I thought that there was something wrong with my aerial but it was the tuners in the STBs instead. The one in the lounge stopped receiving most channels properly all the time, and the one in the bedroom (which has the thru-loop of the one in the Lounge as a feed) would only tune in when the other was switched on! At other times either STB would sometimes just "freeze" and not turn off until you unplugged them, and when you re-plugged them in the recording schedules would be randomised. Also they were very temperamental on reading and writing to the external USB drives. The Bauns shared a lot of these problems with the GVA units, but initially it was very rare when they happened. Not so lately.

The set-up looks like this:

Media Setup

It looks complicated but it means I can play stuff from the Set Top Boxes, DVD players, Media PC, or Turntable, very easily.  Anyway, I decided to take a punt and buy another STB to test in either position. Initially I was going to buy a $39 Thomson thing, but when I got to K-Mart I took a punt and bought a Telefunken TEL828N for $49 instead. It was impossible to tell if it was any better than what I had until I got it home. When I got there I wasn't planning on going out again, so I changed into PJs and played around with the STB in the bedroom.

It auto-scanned well (missed out on SEVEN network channels, but a rescan in the Lounge got everything) and even played the stuff I'd recorded on the old STB. But a big factor was the relative ease of use. The menus were easy to read, the EPG had several modes and it was very easy to setup recordings and later edit them. A big plus in its favour was the way it set up recording schedules. The last two types of STB I'd used had a system where you set the start and end times. This is OK, except when you tape something across midnight (e.g starts at 23:50 and ends at 00:20). What happens then depends - sometimes the show starts recording but doesn't stop. Other times you get an error msg saying it conflicts with program 1, even though that might not have any overlapping times. That's the result of a cheap unit that economises too much on the operating system. But the Telefunken used a Start Time + Duration method. No problems over midnight.

It also listed the name of the tv program you started the recording at, in the file name of the recording.  This would be generally OK but I like to add a "recording buffer) of (at least)  5 minutes before and after a show I record, so in general the name I've been getting is the one that was on before my recording. The rename function is easier on the whole to use, because the coloured keys on the romote allow you to shift case, add a space, delete, and confirm the name change. The old STBs had those functions as extra buttons on the screen display, so you had to move the cursor to do that function, and then move to the next button - adding a LOT of key presses on the remote!

In fact what I really liked was how it handled the external disk. I had modes for playing movies (recorded TV is just another movie), music, pictures, "native games" (but where do you get them from?), and e-text. There's also a disk manager where you rename, move and delet files. The thing is, tit doesn't just read drives - it reads partitions! That means you can have a large external drive and have your recodings in one partition, music in another, and other stuff on other partitions. It probably means as well that you might be able to hook it up to a PC directly - though I haven't tested that yet.

Recording's interesting as well. If you're recording and press information, it comes up with a list of previously recorded stuff which you can select and watch while the STB recording the current program. Haven't seen that before. You can also set the duration of the recording on spec, which is handy. I used that last night when I was watching Elizabethtown. I realised that I wasn't going to stay awake to see the end of it, so I started a manual record and set the duration for 2 hours. Great stuff compared to what I was using before.

There are a few annoyances, but they're more in the way of omissions (like being able to move your cursor left or right when renaming without deleting - that'd be great) and easy to work around. I am VERY pleased with this model so far. Maybe it'll start malfunctioning just after the warranty period ends, like the Bauhns did, but that's the risk I'll take. I was so impressed I got dressed, went back out and got a second STB of the same model. A good investment so far.  

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I was annoyed with the Ten Network with how they wound up the final House season.

 They showed part of it earlier this year, one episode a week, and then it vanished. Then recently, they started showing the remainder of the episodes, but it became unpredictable. I don't usually watch the channel 10 though I do watch channel 11 for Next Gen Repeats. So while I caught the fact it was back on (and in the previous timeslot on a Wednesday night) it was only by luck that I found out that they were showing double episodes back-to-back.

I really don't understand when they do that - show multiple episodes all at once. I can only think of three reasons why they do: a lack of content, or maybe they're under contract to show and want to get it done as quickly as possible, or it's the finale and it's a double episode. Ever since digital channels the programming on certain channels has been erratic. Channel 11 started showing double episodes of Next Gen, and double episodes of Deep Space 9 for a while. Then Deep Space Nine was taken off and episodes of Voyager were show - before DS9 had completed it run of repeats?! Then they started sowing double episodes of Voyager, and triple Episodes of Next Gen! I mean it's nice and all, but makes no sense. If you were a programmer couldn't you just show an episode of Next Gen, followed by Deep Space Nine and then Voyage, and then have another time where you did the same? Why show three of the same thing in a row?  Mind you they do this with CSI on Sunday nights as well, showing the original, CSI Miama, and CSI New York in a row. A mystery.,

Anyway, the thing was this, I started taping double episodes of House and that was OK, but then when it was obvious a certain was sick, it was clear that I missed an episode somewhere. I still taped double episode on the Wednesday and planned to watch them on the Weekend. Had been ill and running around doing a lot of stuff last week so I hadn't got around to double-check the TV programming. Then on channel surfing Friday I discover a House special on and the FINAL EPISODE on after it! Huh?!

 

I quickly set the STB to record for both, but I had a feeling I'd missed stuff again. Sure enough, after checking a list of episodes it was clear that I'd missed one between last week and the week before, and also one just before the Final episode. So very frustrating. I could of course  with the bandwidth I have just watch the lot online, but half the fun of house was watching it weekly and using the STB to record it. And if I didn't have the recording ability on it I'd be stuffed. IN the end I watched the missing episodes before I saw the finale, but it was still very very annoying.

I have much better luck with Fringe. Two episodes are shown weekly on another network, around midnight, but repeated as double episodes later in the week. There's a glitch on my STBs where if you attempt to timed recording over midnight it often doesn't take. But the double episode is in the early morning so much better - but I still check the programming weekly!

The ending of HOUSE M.D. made me very sad as well, but that's in the next post.
 


The Roast

Jul. 19th, 2012 09:17 am
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Been watching THE ROAST off and on for a while. It's an Australian news satire show (about 3-5 minutes tops) that turns up as filler after the Dr Who repeats. But the thing is, they are so good at targeting unspoken crap or assumptions in the news. Take these two examples:




Ostensibly about the Olympics, but catch the comments about hereto-privilege.




"...because getting things for free was why the Internet was invented"

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As from The Guardian:

The actor Caroline John, who has died aged 71, was best known for defending Earth from alien invasion alongside Jon Pertwee's Doctor in the first colour series of Doctor Who, broadcast in 1970. As Dr Elizabeth Shaw, she provided brains, cool-headed intelligence and maturity where once the Doctor's female companions had screamed and asked questions.
(more on link)

Not that widely remembered as as Liz Sladen or Katy Manning as a Doctor's companion, but I always liked her character.
 

Finally -

May. 26th, 2012 03:26 pm
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FRINGE is back!

 

Neither Here Nor There 10.30pm - 11.30pm GO! (88)


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If you thought that Television 4 (part of the PRIME network) was bad enough (it consists on Infomercials and local promotionals) , the new digital TV channel is called Extra, which is part of the NINE network is noting but infomercials!. Of course I guess it would be as a home shopping channel, but the listing on the EPG are a give-away. No sign of the Swivel Sweeper (that's a feature on Television 4), but the Shark Steam Pocket Cleaner is bound to be a hit!

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I just finished watching the final episode of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for lunch. Absolutely lovely. I really did like the two main characters, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Grace Makutsi. They are both flawed, but also very resourceful and by their own efforts (and a bit of luck) overcome problems in less flashy but more practical way. Some of the show seems odd, like the stilted way that everyone (except for American visitors) talks, and yet that's part of the charm. I read on the Wikipedia page that the show wasn't renewed for a second season (it was made in 2009) but that HBO are in the planning stages of two TV films. Hopefully that will happen, and maybe tie up a loose end in the finale.

This as broadcast locally at the end of last year, but rather than watch them immediately I recorded them to watch at my leisure. So glad I did. The last episode has "perked me up" for a bit.

Old Friends

Feb. 1st, 2012 11:02 am
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I've chucked out two old TVs which I've had for years but will no longer be useful once there's only digital TV here, as neither can run from a set top box easily.

12-01-28 Sharp TV

The Sharp three-in-one TV which I bought in 1979. I originally bought it as a monitor for my Dick Smith System-80 (which was a TRS-80 clone), but it worked better as a B&W portable TV. It was the first TV I've ever owned. In the past I've had this and my Lemair TV on a l-o-n-g extension cord running in the backyard. The cassette player stopped working in 1989 but the TV and radio still worked (after a fashion).


12-01-28 Lemair TV

The Lemair colour TV which I bought in 1983. It still worked on three channels (NBN, ABC, and whatever you selected on the UHF dial) but on humid and wet days it would give you a shock if you touched it with your bare hand! I At age 26, I had measles when I bought this. Not a good state to buy something in!

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