Review of “Doom Patrol” Season Two

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Promotional image for the second season of Doom Patrol

I finished watching season 2 of the Doom Patrol TV show last night. As I mentioned in my review of season 1, the show is available as a set of DVDs at my local public library.

The show remains heavily based on many of the later issues of the comic book, which means it’s even more bizarre than when I was reading it as a kid in the 1960s and 70s.

Season 2 picks up where season 1 left off with the “Patrol” including Cyborg/Vic (Joivan Wade) and the Chief’s/Niles Caulder’s (Timothy Dalton) daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) shrunk down to “Ant-Man” size after their escape from Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) in the “White Space.” They end up living on Robotman’s/Cliff’s (Brendan Fraser) large model race car track which includes tents and various other structures.

The team is still shaken by the revelation that the horrible accidents that left each one of them disfigured, ruining their former lives, were directly engineered by the Chief in his attempt to uncover the secret of immortality. They are all just failed experiments.

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Review of “Doom Patrol” Season One

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Promotional image for season 1 of “Doom Patrol”

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Okay, so I just finished watching Season 1 of the Doom Patrol television show. I noticed that seasons 1 and 2 of the show were available as DVDs at my local public library and I thought, “what the heck?”

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My Greatest Adventure issue 80.

Actually, as a kid, I really enjoyed the old Doom Patrol comic book. First featured in “My Greatest Adventure” comic title issue 80 (June 1963), it chronicled the saga of three misfits forged into a superhero team by scientist/genius Niles Caulder, also called “The Chief.” The original team was made up of Robotman (Cliff Steele), a race car driver who was in an accident so horrific that only his brain survived. The Chief put that brain in a robot body. Elasti-Girl was originally actress Rita Farr who, filming on location, was exposed to a volcanic gas enabling her to grow to giant size or to shrink into a tiny form. Negative Man was test pilot Larry Trainor who flew his rocket plane into a radiation belt. The plane crashed, and Larry discovered that not only was he permanently radioactive, but for sixty seconds, he could project a negative image of himself that could travel at the speed of light and had amazing abilities. The only trick is that N-Man has to get back inside Larry’s body before the minute is up or Larry dies and N-Man disintegrates.

In looking up the full history of the comic book (see above link), I saw that it had gotten a whole lot stranger than it first started out.

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Book Review of “Caliban’s War,” the Second of the “Expanse” Series

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Promotional artwork for the novel “Caliban’s War”

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Not long ago, I reviewed the first book in the “Expanse” series Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Almost always when I read and review the first book in some series, I tend to wander off in a different direction afterward. I did that for N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award winning The Fifth Season, for David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, for Martha Wells’ All Systems Red, and in fact, for just about every book I’ve reviewed, regardless of how well I did (or didn’t) like them.

However, “Leviathan” really hooked me, so much so, that I immediately checked book two out of the public library. I just finished reading Caliban’s War and absolutely loved it. The quality was just as high as for “Leviathan.” I was reintroduced to familiar characters such as Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos as well as new characters such as Prax, Bobbie, and Avasarala.

It begins on the Jovian moon Ganymede, the “bread basket of the belt,” which is the best location to grow the food needed for the colonized asteroids. It’s the best place for pregnant women to gestate to term. It’s also, apparently, the best place to spawn protomolecule monsters.

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Book Review of “Leviathan Wakes,” the First of the “Expanse” Series

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Cover image for the novel “Leviathan Wakes”

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I just finished reading the 2011 science fiction blockbuster Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). It’s the first in the nine-book Expanse series and is the basis for the television series The Expanse.

In the future, humanity has spread out from Earth and colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt (or just “the Belt”). However, political, social, and financial enmity exists between the three populations and tensions could be ignited into war at any moment.

Chapters in this tome alternate between the perspectives of Joe Miller, a burned out, alcoholic detective working for an Earth-funded police force on the asteroid Ceres, and Jim Miller, the executive officer aboard a “water freighter” Canterbury.

On Ceres, the mysteries mount. Why did all of the gangs on Ceres suddenly vanish along with the police’s riot gear? Why has the IPO, the Belter activist group on Ceres, become so reasonable and cooperative? And who is Julie Mao, an heiress-cum-revolutionary, the girl he was supposed to kidnap and ship off to her wealthy parents as a “side job?” Trying to solve Julie’s mystery along with his drinking and general ineptitude get Miller fired, but that’s when his adventure really begins.

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Film Review of “Blade Runner 2049”

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Promotional image for the film Blade Runner 2049

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I finally got around to watching Blade Runner 2049 (2017) last night on DVD. At 2 hours and 44 minutes long, I felt it was too long. Yes, there was a story to tell, and it’s a good story, but if this is the theatrical version, then the studio allowed director Denis Villeneuve to indulge himself.

I’ve never seen the theatrical version of Blade Runner (1982), only the Director’s Cut which I reviewed here. It’s considered the better of the two 1980s films, so I probably will never get around to seeing the original.

Since this movie is four years old, I’m not really worried about revealing spoilers, but if you’ve never seen it and want to at some point, stop reading here.

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Review of the Lovecraft Country Episode “Strange Case”

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Wummi Mosaku as Ruby Baptiste in the television show “Lovecraft Country”

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So, I watched the Lovecraft Country episode Stange Case last night. The title refers to the title of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, only Misha Green‘s version is far more disgusting.

The show starts where A History of Violence leaves off. Yahima (Monique Candelaria) has seemingly disappeared. Leti (Jurnee Smollett) thinks that Montrose (Michael K. Williams) has just let her go, but Atticus (Jonathan Majors) knows his Dad killed her. In a rage, Tic tries to beat Montrose to death, but Leti manages to stop him.

Montrose also destroyed the Book of Names, but Tic figures out that Leti photographed the pages. After rough sex (doesn’t this guy ever just kiss his girlfriend and treat her gently?), she develops the photos and he starts to work deciphering the code.

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Part Two of Reviewing “Lovecraft Country”

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Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), Atticus (Jonathan Majors), and George (Courtney B Vance) in a scene from the show “Lovecraft Country”

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After my review of the first episode of Lovecraft Country Sundown, I thought I’d just keep watching and maybe review the entire first season as a whole. But after viewing three more episodes, because each show is so densely packed, I was afraid of losing a lot of the details.

So now that I’ve watched Whitey’s on the Moon, Holy Ghost, and A History of Violence, I thought I should recap them now.

In “Whitey’s on the Moon,” the creepy white guy at the door of the huge mansion in the middle of nowhere is William (Jordan Patrick Smith) and he seems to treat Tic, Leti, and George very well. They all wake up in their rooms with objects of their most cherished desires. George is hip deep in books while Leti has a closet full of wonderful clothes all exactly her size, and they couldn’t be happier.

Tic, on the other hand, remains deeply disturbed by their encounter with monsters the previous night, and finally comparing notes with the other two, realizes that they didn’t remember a thing. Even their car Woody has been restored to them. All of this is due to magic spells, but I’ll get to that.

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Review of Lovecraft Country episode “Sundown”

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Scene from the Lovecraft Country episode “Sundown”

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When I decided to review the first season of the television series Lovecraft Country, I didn’t know if it would be a single review of the series, episode by episode, or something in between.

Then I watched the first episode Sundown and was truly horrified, but not as you might imagine.

If you haven’t seen it and you care about that sort of thing, there are tons of spoilers ahead.

The show tells the tale of a young black man named Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), a veteran of the Korean War who is traveling by bus to his home in Chicago because his father has gone missing.

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Lovecraft Country First Season

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© James Pyles

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This afternoon, I was at my local branch of the public library and I found the first season of Lovecraft Country on DVD. As some of you may know, I was critical of the timing of the premiere of this series during certain (ahem) events.

However, when I mentioned this in social media, I was told the series was being developed well before all of that happened, so I stand corrected. I also can’t miss the fact that since writer H.P. Lovecraft has been identified as a white supremacist, the title for the series has a double meaning.

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Book Review of “On Basilisk Station”

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Cover art for David Weber’s “On Basilisk Station”.

In my continued effort to review Baen Publications, I’ve just finished reading the first novel in David Weber‘s “Honor Harrington” series On Basilisk Station.

It was kind of hard to get into. Weber has a tendency to lapse into long pages of dense exposition, which tends to put the reader into one person’s head (more often than not, Honor’s) than into the action.

However, if you can power through that, you finally get to a space opera laced with political intrigue, the dynamics of provincial planetary plotting, and then the climax of classic space battle.

Weber seems to have a background in military strategy, which shows in how he depicts martial activities, both in space and on the planet. However, there were times when life aboard Honor’s ship “Fearless” felt a little like “Star Trek.”

The one thing that would have made his book better would be to cut back on each character seemingly talking too much about themselves. Also, antagonists like Lord Pavel Young and the ultra-wealthy Klaus Hauptman weren’t as prominent or as formidable as I expected them to be based on how they were initially presented.

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