Dumb Watch: Dark on @Netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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The next time some website says, “This is the best show on Netflix that no one is watching,” I’m going to assume there’s a good reason no one is watching it, and I’m not going to watch it. Last week, I learned that lesson the hard way. Dark (2017) was dumb. It tried to be smart, but failed miserably.

The show centers on a science fiction premise, and I understand that science, law, medicine, etc. always come in a distant second to drama. House M.D. was not medically accurate but still a good show. Armageddon was not good science, but I enjoyed it for the action movie it was. Even shows about the law don’t bug me; I just laugh it off. I’m cool with all that. That said, you shouldn’t throw around catch phrases like “the God particle” without any grounding in what they actually are. The end relies on a trope I see as a great big cheat, but I won’t link to prior posts on the subject. That would be a spoiler for those brave and patient enough to watch this.

A larger issue is that the dialogue is just terrible. I understand that something may be lost in the translation from German to English, and if that’s all it is, fine. It still sucks. But I don’t think that’s what it is. It seems that every other line is someone asking, “What are you saying?” They don’t even change up the wording, such as, “What are you talking about?” It’s always, “What are you saying?” Over and over and over again. It never seems to stop.

The second dialogue-related issue is that people never answer questions. The first person will say, “What’s going on?” or something like that, and the second person will respond, “I have to leave now.” On multiple occasions, this conversation occurs even though the second person just arrived at the location in order to have the conversation. They’re there for the sole purpose of communicating a message, and then they refuse to do so. Again, this happens over and over again. It’s maddening.

The acting is also, for the most part, intolerable. Yelling at people and long, awkward pauses don’t create drama. They must be justified by drama the script has already created. These writers don’t seem to get that. Regarding the awkward pauses, it was yet another way characters avoided answering questions. A lot of time was devoted to one person staring at the other while getting yelled at to answer the question or tell them what’s going on. This could much more easily be blamed on the translation or the screenwriters, so I’ll give the actors the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s the cause. It still sucks. The 10-year-old who played the deaf girl was adorable, so it’s got that going for it. Not much else.

Where have I seen such makeup before? Oh yeah! A dumb movie from 1989.

But take all that with a grain of salt. It has great scores on Rotten Tomatoes. My only assumption is that you’ve all lost your minds. (Metacritic doesn’t seem to have an entry.) If you do watch it, just make sure to take note of who’s related to whom and how. Try to remember which kids belong to which parents, and, of course, who is who’s sibling.

Really dumb.

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Nostalgic Watch: The Americans @MatthewRhys @HollyTaylor97 @CostaRonin @TheAmericansFX @hulu @RoysRestaurants #TheAmericans

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I’ve been binging The Americans on Hulu (FX Network). I had never seen a single episode before I started but had heard good things. I knew the premise: Soviet spies operating in America at the start of the Reagan administration. When the current young guns talk about their time in the war, they’re talking about Viet Nam, not Desert Storm. When the older crowd is talking about fighting the Nazis, they mean fighting actual Nazis in World War II. I admit that it drags at times, and it relies on the far too frequently used trope of emotional idiots making huge mistakes to create the needed drama. The latter is especially frustrating considering that it unnecessary in a show where the anti-heroes are being chased by the FBI and CIA. However, it’s a good show overall with a solid cast of actors, some of whom are new to me. The first five seasons have 13 episodes each, and the sixth has 10 episodes. They do a good job of demonstrating how most spies are recruited; most aren’t government workers. Each episode is about 45 minutes, but with a Chrome extension that allows me to speed up the episodes to 1.25x speed, I’m blazing through it.

I love period pieces because of the music and current events that they work into the script, some worth remembering, and some worth forgetting, but this one is particularly special to me. It takes place in the Washington, DC area, and the creators did a remarkable amount of research (perhaps because they grew up there as well). They get a lot of small details correct, from long gone television commercials playing in the background to various restaurants. The spies live in in Falls Church, Virginia, and though I didn’t move to Northern Virginia until 2000, I grew up in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland. I know all of the areas portrayed. As a recent graduate of the University of Maryland in the 90s, I started spending my weekends bar hopping in downtown DC and Northern Virginia. Honestly, the night life in Montgomery County was atrocious around that time, so the spots the show visits are where I hung out. I hope they visit the “Exorcist Stairs” before the show ends. I urinated down them when I was a stupid, young adult who had a lot too much to drink. It’s not an uncommon thing to do, though I doubt you’ll find mention of it on many websites.

Early this morning, I watched an episode entitled “A Roy Rogers in Franconia.” For those of you from the western United States that have a special place in your heart for In-n-Out, Roy Rogers is my burger joint that I like more than I should due to nostalgia, but with a menu that went far beyond burgers. When I finally moved to Northern Virginia, it was near Franconia, so I visited that Manchester Lakes Roy Rogers more times than I could possibly count. The last episode I watched before this post went live is called Lotus 1-2-3. I forgot that software existed. It was released when I was in high school but was already losing the war against MS Excel and Borland’s Quattro Pro by the time I was out of college and working as a software engineer.

Watching the show really brings me back to several times in my life, from childhood to recent college graduate to recent law school graduate, even though much of that time occurred long after the period in which The Americans is based.

As always, YMMV.

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Medical Watch: House, M.D. @peacockTV #GoodWatch #HouseMD

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Every now and then, I pick a show that for some reason interests me but I’ve never watched, and I binge watch it. It may be because I’ve seen a bunch of episodes that I liked (e.g. The Office and, well, House M.D.); I’ve seen a bunch of scenes via Facebook that I liked, which sometimes worked out and sometimes didn’t; it stars actors that I love; or I just heard really great things (e.g., Parks and Recreation). The past two weeks, I started watching House M.D.

Overall, I like the show, but this isn’t about making recommendations. I just want to make two quick observations. First, other than the Shield, I can’t think of any shows I watched that had multiple antiheroes working with multiple heroes, all working well together. Second, for a relatively short time, I had to walk with a cane, so I know how to do it. You’d think that wouldn’t be a difficult skill to master, but apparently it is. Let me put it this way: I don’t think I’d ever trust a doctor would used a cane with his right hand if his right leg was the problem (or vice versa). You hold the cane with the hand on the same side as the injury.

I didn’t like the last episode of season 2, which turned out to be a massive dream sequence (it could have been worse), and the trope of a disapproving and interfering boss is annoying (especially when the main character is always right), but so far I’m good with the episodes I had never seen before. I’m on season 3, so I have a long road ahead of me.

I can’t wait to see the episode where it actually is lupus.

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An Old Commercial @StarTrek #StarTrek

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, it’s a commercial advertising Star Trek Enterprise. I never saw it.

This commercial is from 2000 or 2001. Why does it look like it’s from the 80s?

I’m old.

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Connections @BBC #physics #science #engineering #history #tv

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Look at me. Ending my streak of posts after an entire year, and the very next day posting every day for a week. Will it last? (No.)

I recently rediscovered the BBC show, Connections, hosted by James Burke. I used to watch this with my dad when I was a kid. This is a show about the marvels of science and engineering throughout history and, more to the point, their connections to one another. That is, a technology over here gets merged with a technology over there, and voila! A new invention. 

It’s enough to drive you mad.

I apparently remember it extremely well, because I find myself saying the host’s lines before he says them. Nevertheless, I’m relearning a lot of material. I recently learned about, and wrote a post on, the Cistercian numerals. To my recollection, I never heard of the Cistercian monks before learning about their numbers, yet they were mentioned in the one of the first few episodes, so my memory is exceptional, but not perfect. (My short term memory is failing, which is very unsettling.)

Another thing threw me off a bit. In the first episode – which is a bit scary, by the way – the host describes the New York City blackout of 1977, which left several planes circling overhead with nowhere to land. The flight he expressly mentioned was flight 911. A spooky an odd . . . connection.

Whether your academic or professional background is in science (like me) or history, this is still a fascinating and relevant show.

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Crazy Designs for RPGs @unclemacosx #StarTrek #DnD #RPG #TTRPG

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, I share a tweet that reminded me of something else. (Image of the tweet appears at the end in case it’s ever deleted. ) To my knowledge, this tweet had nothing to do with RPGs. It was just a ridiculous design made for the sake of ridiculousness.

That said, it instantly triggered an image in my head. Is this the FASA Star Trek RPG equivalent of 3rd Edition D&D‘s roving mauler?

Which one is more ridiculous?

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Muppet Star Trek @brucemccorkinda @hafuboti #muppets #StarTrek #StarTrekSunday

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Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, in the final stages of the death of my year-long streak of daily posts, I return to Star Trek. (Star Trek Sunday? Is that a thing?)

Not everything seen as certain death is necessarily the end. There’s often a way out.

Okay, I admit this turns out to be a bad example for inspiring hope in the face of likely death. Plus, perhaps the wrong [guy] died.

Remember, no one’s really dying. It’s just the end of a streak.

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“What’s Old Is New” Watch: Strange New Worlds Series Premiere! @ansonmount @StarTrek @paramountplus @StarTrekOnPPlus #StarTrek #StrangeNewWorlds #Picard #Borg #GoodWatch

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I got up at 5:30 am this morning to see the second season finale of Picard and the series premiere of Strange New Worlds. As to the latter, I haven’t been this excited for a Star Trek series since Next Generation was announced. First, it’s purported to be a return to the episodic format that I prefer (though I hear there will be an larger, overlayed story, which is fine). Second — I never thought I’d say this — Anson Mount’s Captain Pike has overtaken William Shatner’s Captain Kirk as my favorite Captain.

No cheese zone.

This still looks like a large, ensemble cast, so it won’t likely take over as my favorite series, but you never know. It certainly started off great. TOS is back, but without all the cheesy, 60s-era TV technology that the young-uns can’t seem to get past. Also, season2 of Picard ended today, and I was pretty happy with that as well. Here’s a spoiler for the last episode.

Called it!

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Mythic Watch: Moon Knight @moonknight @MarvelStudios #MoonKnight #MCU #GoodWatch

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So, Moon Knight. Today’s the season finale.

As always, I got up early to watch it.

This isn’t a traditional review that implicitly claims that a show is good or bad based on some make-believe objective standard. I hate that pretentious nonsense. Whether or not you like a movie, song, TV show, or food is purely subjective. Instead, my approach to reviews is to explain why I like what I like and hate what I hate. If what makes me like/hate it applies to you, then maybe you’ll like/hate it too. I say, “maybe,” because there are other factors beyond what I can possibly express, but at least you have a better chance of predicting your reaction.

So, here is the context to understand the place from which my feelings arise:

  1. I grew up reading about dinosaurs and mythology, so anything involving either one of them has an advantage in gaining me as an audience, but are still not all winners.
  2. I’m not a fan of the comic book genre. However, when I was in elementary school, I’d sometimes hang out with my cousin. When it was too hot or cold to play outside, we’d read his comics. I remember them oddly well, but there were very few that grabbed me.
  3. I’m an apologist for comic book movies.

So, what do I think of Moon Knight? I love it. Considering the context given above, I don’t think I need to say much beyond that, as the explanation has already been given. However, I don’t want any of you asking for your money back, so here’s a little more. As with Shang-Chi before it, Moon Knight is opening the door to folklore, legends, and myths of a culture rarely addressed in western media. I’m sure most (non-bot) readers of this blog get that, but for our society as a whole, these other cultures are untapped resources. Disney is just scratching the surface with Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Give me Quetzalcoatl! Give me Shango! Give me Raijin! But please keep Chris Hemsworth as Thor. 😊

I suspect the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder is going to have me lose my shit for the same reason.

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One Year!!! #blog #StarTrek #MCU #DnD #RPG #TTRPG #ADnD

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With this post, I’ve posted every day for an entire year. That’s right. The last day that I didn’t post was May 1, 2021. Before that, I was last discussing Key Lime Kit Kat bars.

No wonder I stopped.

This blows away my current record streak.

Nice.

But wait a second. Is this even real? Can the post announcing that I’ve posted every day for a year be the anniversary post itself?

I say yes, and if you disagree, just keep in mind that I posted a bonus post on April 9, April 13, April 19, and April 25, so there have already been over 365 posts in this time without this one. There may have even been a couple more bonus posts, but I’m too lazy to look.

But okay. Let’s give this post some substance.

  1. Star Trek: The Original Series is my favorite Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise is the most underrated Star Trek series, but Anson Mount has overtaken William Shatner as my favorite starship captain.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favorite MCU film.
  3. 4th Edition D&D is my favorite edition of D&D.

On another note, today is the first day of May. May is hockey playoffs, college lacrosse playoffs, preparations for the summer, and — most importantly — the month when all the cool people are born. Plus, I was born in May.

So, in 11 days, the streak will die. I want to focus on other things, and consistency hasn’t led to a large number of non-spam followers. Rarely does anyone retweet the tweets linking to these posts (likes merely gauge your footprint, not increase it), and almost all comments occur on other social media platforms, so my streak hasn’t done anything to improve my online footprint (except for a brief moment). Besides, many of my recent posts have been rather lame. If I didn’t have something to say, I’d write anyway, and it shows. I have a few more posts scheduled for this week, some others in my head that will come soon, and a handful scheduled to publish as far out as December. However, going forward, if I don’t have something to say, I won’t say anything. I’ll never feel rushed, and anything goofy will have to be funny enough to be worth sharing.

So, this post counts.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)