TV Star Trek returns – first episodes of Star Trek: Discovery

To boldly go where no man has gone before

Ola: Star Trek, along the Star Wars universe, is considered one of the most influential and popular ideas of humanity in space. It is especially dear to me because of the unguarded optimism and idealism of Gene Roddenberry vision – the idea that we can eventually communicate and understand every other species in the galaxy. I was much too young to watch the original series – I was a kid when The Next Generation was aired in Poland, and enjoyed every bit of it. Only recently I gave the original series a try, and liked it despite its visibly aged appearance. The mood of the series, its unabashed and unrepentant optimism, was a welcome turn of events in our rather pessimistic times.

Piotrek: I’ve always been a Babylon 5 fan. I’ve seen the whole series… three times, I believe. It was darker, faster, concentrated on geopolitics and war. And it still is my all-time favourite s/f show. The biggest such franchise ever is Star Trek though, and I understand why. I appreciate it more and more, its optimism – so hard to find in genre of today, its support for important progressive causes, captain Picard, Spock, friendly nerds laughed at by bullies in movies from the 70-ties and 80-ties… and yet, the show itself was not as watchable for me. My favourite version was TNG, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen all the episodes.

And now, 12 years after ST: Enterprise, show I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a single episode of, we got ST: Discovery. A prologue only, so far, but it’s enough for a cautious first impression. Will it be good, modern TV, and at the same time faithful to the message of Gene Roddenberry? Is it, in other words, the Star Trek show for our times?

I am, cautiously, optimistic.

Ola: I am, unfortunately, not.

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The Witcher – Netflix series

It’s all over the internet already, and deservedly, but with all the attention we paid Andrzej Sapkowski’s universe lately… here’s Tor.com version with all the details, and here the statement of Platige Image, one of three forces behind the planned series.

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1) Netflix is great. Its series – less consistently good than HBO’s, but there are hits aplenty. Same amount of care and effort they dedicated towards Daredevil or Stranger Things should give Game of Thrones a worthy competitor, at least from a genre lover’s point of view.

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2) Platige Image means Tomasz Baginski. Big name in animation, not only in Poland. Oscar nominee (for this), and, that is important, author of cinematic trailers to Witcher games. Great credentials for someone like me, a huge franchise fan, but will Grandpa Sapkowski be happy? He apparently is, despite his lack of enthusiasm towards games. Well, he’ll get more money out of this, while having more influence, as creative consultant. Good to have author involved, although it did not help Shannara.

“I’m thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories, staying true to the source material and the themes that I have spent over thirty years writing,”

said Sapkowski, jabbing at the games yet again…

3) Producers? Guys behind The Expanse, and that is more good news. Expanse is a great genre show, with very good special effects done on budget, so chances of Witcher being a success are significant.

It’s already said to be a multi-season enterprise (“Bagiński will also direct at least one episode of each season”).

Sweet. If you’ve read the books, or even just our reviews, it’s clear there is a lot a lot potential. Short stories provide excellent basis for an introductory season or two, and then the novels… complex, sophisticated stories with likeable characters.

I’ve never be so excited about stuff like that, not even when GoT started, Witcher is more important for me personally.

If Netflix screws that up, I’m cancelling my subscription.

Sherlock, Series Four – Impressions

Life is about choices. Sometimes the choice is between writing a proper blog post and watching entire Series 4 of Sherlock in one go. I’m not sure I made the right one today.

Sherlock is a TV show everybody loves. And not without reason. I had my doubts, but I overcame them, watched Series 1 and it became my favourite piece of modern television. For series 4 we waited 3 years, not counting last year’s special episode. I liked it all.
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The latest series… not so much. Episode 1 was ok, two – had brilliant moments, but three… for me, the worst one in the entire show. Considering that it might be the final-final one… sad.

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Stranger Things (2016)

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Ola: Stranger Things, the newest Netflix’s darling, is a heady, serialized mix of Alien and E.T. in the 80’s guise. If that sounds weird, well – it should. Stranger Things is pretty messed up, and proud of it. And it should, because no matter how weird it all sounds, watching that series is a ton of fun. Plus a dribble of revolting goo, but we’ll get to that later.

All right. We’ve got a small town somewhere in Indiana, in the middle of nowhere, with its fair share of those living the trivialized version of American Dream and those who just don’t fully fit the norm. Among the latter are four nerdy boys aged 11, who play D&D with the blind devotion of someone very young, and excel at theoretical physics, want the outside world to be a place more mysterious and strange than anybody could dream of, and not much else ;).

The real action starts when one of them, after a 10-hour long D&D campaign at a friend’s house, doesn’t come home. He was last seen on a road called Mirkwood by the geeky boys, a road heading through the local woods, right next to a huge, federal power plant. Yeah, you can already hear the low, ominous sounds of the Jaws soundtrack…

Piotrek: Excuse me, there was plenty of action during the D&D session. They had to fight The Demogorgon! A bit incorrectly according to some experts, I’m a Warhammer guy so I wouldn’t know. But they got me by that point.

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Daredevil (2015-present)

Piotrek: Daredevil. “The Man Without Fear”. One of the better known Marvel superheroes, created, no surprise there, by Stan Lee. His MCU cameos are sometimes annoying, but his is an impressive resume.

Back to Daredevil though. Matt Murdock is one of the most inspiring Marvel heroes. The only child of a single, poor father, blinded young, when a radioactive substance got into his eyes, he managed to create a dual persona of ace attorney and protector of New York’s innocents.

His blindness does not make him helpless. Just the opposite, as a result of the accident in which he lost his vision the rest of his senses were supernaturally heightened. This allowed him to become the protector of his neighborhood, New York’s Hell’s Kitchen district.

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Ola: Daredevil, a TV series from Netflix, was the first in a planned string of MCU Netflix entries, soon to be followed by Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Punisher and Luke Cage, and leading to the team-up Defenders. I had watched a few MCU TV series, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. through Agent Carter to Jessica Jones, and I can say with full responsibility that Daredevil is by far the best of the lot.

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Silva rerum (4) feat. Star Trek

I’m not a big fan of Star Trek. I have tremendous respect for the idealistic nature of The Original Series. I’ve seen… a couple of episodes, a couple more of The Next Generation, and most of Deep Space Nine. I rather enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ 2009 motion picture, but I had my problems with that. Into Darkness… was no very good, not a Star Trek movie nor in its own rights.

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The Original Series, and, to lesser degree, it’s immediate successors, had a spirit that set them apart from (most of) the rest of s/f. With antiquated special effects and often rather silly plot it was not enough to make me enjoy watching it.

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And politically… I’ve always been a Babylon V guy. Good guys kicking ass in space for liberal democracy, more or less as we understand it 😉 I’ll have to review that one day, possibly after my next re-watch, the time is coming for that. Also aged in terms of special effects, but, as a whole, makes more sense than Battlestar. The ending is not disappointing.

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House of Cards

No, not that:house-of-cards-kevin-spaceyAlthough I’m very happy that I could binge-watch it now, in Poland, on the day of release, on Netflix, like a normal human being, not one episode a week on… what was it called, television?

Not even that:

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Although I believe it’s a superior product. Kevin Spacey is excellent, but Ian Richardson is great. Shakespearean villain, veteran of political system even more ruthless than the one we know from the American version, Francis Urquhart would outmanoeuvre Frank Underwood before breakfast. And then Underwood would remind him that UK is a pygmy next to the world’s biggest superpower. Realpolitik is a tough business.

Actually I’d love to see a series where Urquhart/Underwood had to cooperate, sort of evil version of Roosevelt/Churchill duo. Magnificent bastards both of them…

Anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I give you this:

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Michel Dobbs, House of Cards (1989)

or

the book that wasn’t better

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