Posts Tagged ‘Television’

Star Trek (2008) Directed by: J.J. Abrams

I might have mentioned earlier (or maybe not) that my love of Star Trek had a very reluctant and rocky start in my childhood.  As a child in the 80s, there wasn’t an incredible amount of variety on television.  So many a weekend afternoon aired long marathons of Star Trek, Bruce Lee movies, etc.   My father, an avid Star Trek fan, wouldn’t miss a chance to sit and watch the episodes from the original show, and of course he was the one who introduced it to me.  I admit I wasn’t very receptive at first, but in time it grew on me, and I found myself addicted.  I’ve watched all remakes of it including Enterprise (and no, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people said it was – it’s actually one of my favorites).

Fast forward to adulthood.  I’m so thrilled that there are new, modern Star Trek movies for kids to see!  In a world that is drowning in Star Wars toys, games, movies, cartoons, etc., finally – FINALLY – they will get introduced to my world.  My husband and son are huge Star Wars fans, and of course, like any true Sci-Fi fan, I love it too.  But Star Trek will always be my favorite, and here’s some of the things you can learn if you watch Star Trek too:

 

1)       Friendly conflict is both normal and perhaps even expected. 

If you’ve ever seen Star Trek, you’ll know that the bickering that occurs between Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock is never ending.  But when the heat is on and push comes to shove, these two always have each other’s backs.  Always.  They may disagree, but they also recognize there’s a bond between them that they may deny outwardly but would never abandon.  What a perfect example of overcoming our differences when it counts!

 

2)      To be a good leader, sometimes you have to break the rules.

Let’s be honest… if Captain Kirk always followed the rules, life would be boring on the USS Enterprise.  Kirk’s cavalier way of handling things makes the show that much more exciting.  You never know if he’s going to breach protocol when dealing with a new race, or metaphorically spit in the face of his superiors with pure disobedience, but either way, he teaches us a valuable lesson.  Sometimes rules were meant to be broken, sometimes those in power don’t have our best interests in heart.  We need to be able to think outside the box and make our own decisions so we can sleep at night.

 

3)      Too much logic can be a bad thing.

I love Spock!  He’s one of my favorites.  And being only half Vulcan, we know that he does have emotions (even if he won’t admit it).  But while logic has its place – being able to keep a cool head in times of trouble, not adding more emotion to an already heated situation, etc. – it does have a downfall.  Emotions help us to relay how we feel about a particular person or situation.  While they can messy and detrimental at times, they’re needed.  They help us weigh things better.  They help people understand us better; they forge a deeper connection.  They’re a necessary evil, so to speak.

 

4)      Meet new people, make new friends, help those in need.

The main premise of Star Trek is watching the crew visit new worlds and civilizations.  Time and again they’re being exposed to new people, and they learn to communicate and help those who need it.  While we’re pretty earth bound here, we can also take time to meet new people and make new friends.  Even if it’s just being cordial to the woman in back of us in line at the grocery store, we can take a few moments to chit chat.  Might be the only interaction they get that day.  You can also help a neighbor in need.

5)      Don’t wear a red shirt when you go out exploring. (I couldn’t resist!)

All those poor crew members in their red shirts who died without us even knowing their names!  Don’t be like them.  Wear ANY other color before you venture out.

 

What else have you learned from Star Trek?  Comment below, and don’t forget to see the new Star Trek movie!

EmmaI wanted to love “Once Upon a Time.”  I think I did at one time.  With such a large cast, there are characters we’re going to love and ones we’re going to hate. It’s inevitable. And while I did favor the villains (Regina, Mr. Gold, etc), I always had a soft spot for the “good guys.”  That is, until this current season, when I came to a realization about this show:  it’s really all about Emma.

And the worst part is, she knows it.  I mean, most shows do gravitate around a particular character and the difficulties they encounter, the struggles they’ve endured.  But a kind of “reset button” is pushed from week to week that sort of grounds said character.   Not Emma.  I’ve watched her character develop, and it’s amazing self absorbed she is!

Emma is the savior.  She’s the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.  She’s got magic, and she’s powerful.  And recently we’ve learned that at one point she had a special relationship with Elsa and Anna’s aunt (bringing Frozen into “Once Upon a Time” this quickly? That’s a rant for another day).  Is there anything this girl isn’t?  Can we don her with the title, “Creator of the Universe?”  Maybe she should be worshipped like a female deity – more than she already is now, of course.  Hmmm…

Her narcissism is astounding, though.  What I find particularly non-humbling about her is how prepared she is for everything to be about her.  When something bad happens, she immediately thinks it has something to do with her even if that motive isn’t clear at all yet because that’s the way she is.  It HAS to be about her.  It just HAS to. Because Emma is the air we breathe, the ground we walk on.  Emma is beyond human comprehension.

Most everyone around her is falling over backwards to help her with anything she needs, and she eats it up.  Every villain that they encounter has SOMETHING to do with Emma.  They want her because she’s super powerful, she’s the link to something else, she’s the freakin’ savior and they need to destroy her – like I said, it’s ALL about Emma.

And the sad part is, she’s not really that complex of a character.  Ok, she had a rough childhood.  That sucks.  She’s what? 30-something now though, right?  I mean, there comes a time when she has to stop whining.  The recurring guilt trips on her parents makes her even more endearing (insert eye roll).  So perhaps they shouldn’t have sent her through the portal, and taken the risk that she’d be slain.  Whatever position you take on this issue, it’s becoming clear that Emma’s just a whiny wannabe teenager.

She actually brings very little to the table.  She lacks maneuverability, and has very few talents.  She’s brash, impulsive and her decision-making skills leave much to be desired.  She has magic, yet cannot figure out how to master it yet.  She makes a mess of her own life and everyone else’s around her.  And everyone wants to destroy her because she’s the epicenter of the “Once Upon a Time” universe.  And boohoo, her parents sent her through the portal as a baby, blah, blah, blah.  Rinse and repeat.

And this constant Emma obsession has left other characters – ones like Regina and Gold who actually have layers to them – to be underexplored.   My only hope is one day we’ll really get to delve into the characters a bit and give Emma some much needed rest.  Or at least write her to be less self-absorbed.  That’d be great.

With the vast array of television entertainment available to us today, many of the shows and characters seem perpetually boring and terribly predictable.  So when I finally come across one that stands apart from the rest, one that really causes me to reconsider everything that I’ve ever known to be true,  I know I’ve found something (or someone) special.  And this is the point of this new series of articles I’ll be writing – to share, in detail, everything I can about a character that is worthy to be discussed.  I’ll try to ensure that the shows are current and are still running, but there might be times when I revisit ones that are no longer airing because, yes, the person of interest is that important to warrant a visit back in time.

So let’s talk True Blood, shall we?  And if you watch the show, you are more than acquainted with the lovely yet troubled Tara Thorton.
 
Tara walks around Bon Temps with a chip on her shoulder, a roughness that exudes from her very core.  We find out through the progression of the show (not discussing the book form this time around, just HBO’s version) that she came from a rough home life.  Her mother was an alcoholic, and quite often Tara would find refuge at Sookie’s grandmother’s home.  The girls grew up as best friends, but did Tara’s rough beginning cause her to be as jaded as she is?  I mean, Sookie and Jason lost their parents at a young age, and neither have as much hatred toward the world as Tara does.

But as she ages, life doesn’t get any better for Tara.  She lives through a series of terrible events – mostly at the hands of vampires. From the death of Eggs to being kidnapped and raped by the vampire Franklin, to the breakup with her girlfriend from New Orleans, Tara is a mess.  And yet, in probably the most selfless act imaginable, she gives her life to save Sookie’s – who then has her turned into a vampire because she can’t live without Tara. Selflessness is repaid with selfishness.

Tara contains varying degrees of rage and has shown herself to be vicious with both words and actions.  I don’t believe she deserves the bad rap that she seems to get from the other cast members.  Life isn’t fair; we all know this.  Tara has had her share of hard knocks, some of which would bring the much of the world down to their knees.  Yet she’s still standing. 

Make no mistake; Tara is a survivor. While she does have a very well-hidden and barely visible soft side, she will do whatever she has to do in order to ensure her survival.  And for her, it’s a day by day basis.  This girl falls into the worst kind of bad luck imaginable.  It makes one wonder what she could’ve possible done to piss karma off as the attacks are unrelenting.  As I watch season after season unfold, I continually ask myself, “How much can one girl take?”

Yet through all of this, she just wants to be loved.  I know, I know – it’s such a  cliché, yet it’s true.  Tara is ferocious until someone continually shows her love and compassion.  If they can hold out beyond her nastiness, if they can get her to see that it’s not a façade but the real deal, she will often open enough for some semblance of a relationship to take place.  It’s getting to that point that’s tricky for her though.  How many times can one be burned before giving up seems like the only viable option?

That’s Tara in a nutshell.  Stay tuned for the next article in this series when I discuss another very popular character and their inner workings and motivations!

Welcome back! This is my third article in this series where I take a look at past sci-fi shows and evaluate their technology to see if it has been introduced into today’s society.   Previously I talked about ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Babylon 5,’ but this time we’re going to shift gears and think back to the times when ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ aired.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I remember watching ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ on television.  I’m not reluctant to admit this because I’m ashamed I watched the show – that couldn’t be further from the truth.  This show was, in my opinion, one of the best ever.  My shame comes because I’m actually at an age where I can recall its appearance on TV as part of regular programming.  Yes, I’m getting old.  Mid-thirties, actually.  But to my credit, I’ve only ever watched the reruns.  By the time it was taken off the air in 1978, I was a mere 16 months old.

If you’ve never seen it (and many of you “youngin’s” haven’t) it’s about a man named Steve Austin who’s severely injured in a crash.  He’s subsequently rebuilt during an operation that (you guessed it) cost about six million dollars.  Because of the enhancements he received, he experiences increased speed, hearing and vision which far surpass a normal human’s ability.

The purpose of this article isn’t to get into a history of the show (which I could easily continue to do since I loved it so).  My goal here is to discuss technology, so let’s switch gears a bit, shall we?

So – is it possible that people could have mechanical parts which would allow them to live full lives?  Some would argue that a pacemaker is a good example of this, and they wouldn’t be wrong.  But I want you to think bigger than this.  Think prosthetics, but not the usual kind that one would attach and detach from themselves.

According to an article by The Telegraph, people are already receiving “bionic implants” to help them achieve a higher quality of life than before.

For those who suffer from hearing loss, cochlear implants have made a world of difference.  These little robotic devices are installed in the patient.  They turn sound into electronic pulses, which in turn the brain is able to interpret, thus allowing the wearer to “hear.”  Amazing stuff.

But what’s even more exciting is what’s being done in the realm of limb replacement.  A perfect example of this is a little boy by the name of Patrick Kane.  When Kane was just 9 months old, he lost his left hand after contracting meningitis.

This prosthesis is unlike many others out on the market.  His actually works with sensors. Basically when he tenses his muscles in his arm, two electrodes that make contact with the skin transmit electricity from the nerves and cause the hand to open or close respectively.

“It’s the little things that the hand allows me to do that have really made the difference. I can open bottles with both hands now, hold my fork and tie my shoelaces,” said Patrick.

Another interesting case is that of Claudia Mitchell.  In 2004 Mitchell was in a motorcycle accident that caused her to lose her left arm.  However, thanks to some cutting edge technological bionic implants, she’s able to live an independent life.  The bionic limb, designed by  Todd Kulken, helps her by rerouting the nerves that would’ve normally ended in her arm and hand to end in her chest.  It is here that the bionic arm is able to pick up on those nerve impulses.  So when Claudia thinks about moving her arm, it does just that.  A computer in her arm interprets her thoughts and turns it into motion.

But what if you’re looking for something even more advanced than this?  What if limb replacement isn’t enough?

Researchers are currently trying to find ways to replace individual muscles with bionic implants.  Some are experimenting with synthetic polymer gels which expand and contract similarly to that of real muscle tissue.  This type of implant is actually geared toward those who are suffering from serious types of sports injuries or who may have lost muscles in accidents.

Amazingly enough, researchers at the University of Texas have actually produced artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than their human counterparts.  Wild, isn’t it?

But what about the sense of touch?  Many who have used prosthetics have complained that not being able to feel is very frustrating to wearers.  Well, this may very well be an issue of the past.   Scientists in Italy are currently designing a synthetic skin that actually allows robots to have a sense of touch.  While this was initially designed just for our robotic friends, there are other researchers who are attempting to adapt this technology to allow amputees and others who have lost limbs a chance to actually feel again.  They’re trying to find a way to bond the robot skin to a human’s nerve cells.

Are we close to building our own Steve Austin?  Not yet, but we’re not as far off as one would think…

This is the first article in a series that will look at past sci-fi shows that unfortunately didn’t stand the test of time, yet deserve to be recognized for their excellence.  The first to debut this column is none other than The 4400 (pronounced forty-four hundred).

If there was ever a show that didn’t deserve to die such an early death, this was it.  Back when it aired on a regular basis, I was practically glued to my television set each week watching the plot unfold.

Not familiar with this series?  It revolves around 4400 individuals who were taken during various years starting from 1946, and none of them aged since their disappearance.  They reappear near Mount Rainier, Washington, but none of them remember what happened from when they were taken to present day.  It also becomes clear that they exhibit certain special abilities.  These abilities cause a line to be drawn – there are those who support the 4400, and others who oppose them and the use of their special powers.  It reminds me of the mutants in the X-Men movies in the fact that there was such strong opposition against them as well.

The main characters were two NTAC (government) agents who, along with Maia (a young girl who is one of the 4400 and was adopted by one of the agents during season two) try to make sense of why these people were taken and what happened to them while they were gone.

This show was absolutely riveting!  It was extremely well-written to the point of being absolutely believable.   The characters were perfectly cast, and their acting was impressive.  Each episode had its own perfect amount of humor, suspense and action.

If you don’t already know, right about now you might be asking yourself “If it was so great, why was it canceled?”  I’ll give you a hint; it wasn’t due to ratings.  The 4400 ended their final season with a major cliffhanger.  The show had every intention of continuing – but then the writers’ strike occurred in 2007 and caused the cancellation of this show and others that were phenomenal in their own right.

Unfortunately we (the viewers) never got to find out the mystery of the 4400.  Don’t let that stop you from checking it out though!  You can catch the first season of The 4400 on Netflix – click HERE to find out more.