Top Shelf Productions


damn you, gary!

July 8, 2006

Once again my buddy Gary Butler makes a strong personal recommendation to me, and yet again i have a new jones for more entertainment to dig on, when i simply don't have time enough in the day to think straight as it is.

Not long ago, you see, Gary sent me a really crummy bootleg of the recent retcon of Battlestar Galactica. About an hour in the disc started jumping erratically, and even skipping whole chapters; so much so it was unwatchable. I'm convinced now that Gary sent me the bum disc on purpose to prove how compelling this show really is. The very next day i went out and bought the Season One dvd set (which includes the mini-series as well), just so i could see how it the opening scene ends. Holy crapola, what a great twist!

Just got done watching the first regular episode, and i have to say that this is absolutely riveting television. Hands-down the best contemporary sci-fi on tv (well, along with Firefly, that is) since Next Generation, oh so long ago. I will admit i was very skeptical of this series when it premiered, if mainly because there has been zero science fiction that suited my tastes in years and years and years. (Again, excepting Whedon's Firefly, which is so singularly unique, i don't put it in the same category.)

I love the idea of the new model cylons, and especially the hot, sex-starved, god-fearing blondy, who gets under the skin of the bad guy, the scientist Dr. Gaius Baltar … the stand-in for the old bulb-headed bad in the original. (I'm guessing, anyway. I haven't seen that stuff in so long, and i can't recal for sure. I'd wager it hasn't held up too well. Although i'll ALWAYS love the old spaceships, and the cyclons themselves.)

The cast is superb, and just how Loren Greene carried the show in it's first incarnation, Edward James Olmos is beyond incredible in this role. Tough, responsible, warm, and a true leader. This guy is a rock. (Wish we had "real" leaders like this running the show.)

The President (something like the 43rd in command, after the home planets were decimated along with the old Prez and the next 40-odd in line), is played with aplomb by Mary McDonnell. Apollo and Starbuck, and even the deck-hands, all stand out. There's no dud on the crew. (Like the original annoying blond who used to stand next to Worf on Next Generation. Man, i was so happy to see her bite it. What was her name?)

But what really rocks me is just the verisimilitude of the show. Everything just looks and feels plausible, unlike shows like Babylon 5, Farscape, or Stargate, all of which have such a cheesy veneer to them. (I've never been able to sit through a single episode of any one of them, so i won't cast judgment... they're just not my gig.) And the scenario rings so much more true than any of Trek shows post-Next Generation.

I. Am. Hooked. Thanks, Gary!

• Read a few things over a 4th of July break spent at my mom-in-law's lake-house. Most note-worthy was the excellent Bob Haney interview in the most recent Comics Journal. Great stuff, from a grizzled old DC vet who passed away a few years ago. A hot-headed guy with a wonderful sense of humor, and not afraid to call a spade a spade.

•Â Also read volume one of the new Southland Tales prequel graphic novels, by Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly. It's pretty bizarre, like i expected, and when the next volume comes out, i'll re-read this one again. Pretty original, if not entirely easy to follow. The art by Brett Weldele is simply gorgeous. And no, i'm not just saying this because Brett drew our own Surrogates. I just dig his stuff. People have compared his work to Ben Templesmith … a fair comparison, and another artist i like (30 Days of Night is killer) … but i think Brett can paint circles around Ben. He's got the same flair for color , mood, and atmosphere, but his line art and storytelling are both, well, better.

In any case, in spite of some negative reviews about the debut of Southland Tales at Cannes this year, this prequel piqued my interest, and has me really looking forward to the flick. After all, Donnie Darko was a big-time sleeper, and now it's a legitimate cult phenomenon.

•Â Lastly, i read the recent Modern Masters from the superb TwoMorrows press, spotlighting my old hero John Byrne. This was a great read, and the featured interview was one conducted by Jon Cooke, originally intended to run in an issue of Comic Book Artist. In his prime, Byrne was a god. And so inspired i went out and picked up the first four issues of his recent retcon of The Doom Patrol. His art was actually very nice, inked by Doug Hazelwood i think(?), and his story had some good ideas. But it just smelled and tasted so much like a late-80's - early 90's, by-the-numbers comic book, i just couldn't buy into it. (Especially when right afterwards, i pulled my Doom Patrol Archives off the shelf, and marveled at the goofy fun and the absolutely stunning art by Bruno Primiani. Why that guy isn't mentioned in the same breath as his Silver Age comrades is a freaking crime.)

Anyway, sorry John. That said, i will track down the first couple issues he did (again with a more detailed inker than himself) of Action Comics, penned by Gail Simone. We'll see. I'll let you know what i think.