Television

Van Helsing - Really That Bad

So, I sat down and watched season 3 of Van Helsing and despite what I said in my last blog post on the subject - it’s doubled down on the man-hating social justice rhetoric and become a clusterfuck of a show. Along with the ridiculous propaganda it’s peddling, the storytelling of the show has devolved into absolute absurdity. It’s not trying to appeal to a broad audience anymore, it’s not even pretending to appeal to a wider audience, it’s purely a radical feminist girl-power romp through the post apocalypse.

Vanessa Van Helsing is a fucking joke of a protagonist - she snarls and stomps her way through this season. I guess they’re trying to show her devolution into a vampire-like being, but she’s just an absolute arsehole. As an example - Axel, the marine with multiple tours of combat duty before the vampire outbreak, is trying to enter a building with some form of tactical awareness, but Vanessa just gives him the finger and waltzes inside. I get that they’re trying to portray her as an experienced combatant who is also superhuman, but this “badassery” would be described as “toxic masculinity” if it were in a male character. She literally kills an innocent man, just to drink his blood, and then forgives herself in the next episode and it’s never brought up again. She even admits that she killed a guy in the first season despite knowing he wasn’t the murderer in their group, simply because she wanted too. To put it as bluntly - she’s just a cunt of a human being.

It’s just this all season - a snarl and this weird cowboy stance.

It’s just this all season - a snarl and this weird cowboy stance.

And the show has totally reverted to it’s original anti-male narrative, where if something bad is happening then it’s typically a man’s fault. A male nurse hits on a side character, who rebuffs him because she’s a lesbian, and he ends up attacking her in a psychotic rage. Both those things already happened in the first episode of season one, but they decided to reuse it for some bizarre reason? If the leader of a group is male then they tend to be evil, or they’re gay and get killed, or they’re female. It’s a female prisoner, who is chained to a really weak and effeminate male, who stages a riot on a prison bus which allows everyone to break free. Axel finds his long lost sister, just like Vanessa found her long lost sister… just like Mohammad found his long lost sister… and it turns out she was kidnapped and used as a sex slave by some guy who ends up having memory loss.

She was alive the whole time, trapped in the basement of the guy he worked for as a kid… and she survived the apocalypse and somehow managed to learn how to use a gun?

She was alive the whole time, trapped in the basement of the guy he worked for as a kid… and she survived the apocalypse and somehow managed to learn how to use a gun?

And the worst example, the one that nearly had me evacuating my bowels out of sheer outrage, was the castration. There’s this twitchy vampire that’s been awkwardly convulsing his way through the series and in this season he’s decided that he wants to join this sisterhood of badass vampires… and they decide to let him join, but only if he has his nuts taken off. As ridiculous as that is, the worst part is that he actually fucking begs them for it…

“Yes, do it. Make me like you. Make me a sister.”

Sorry to break it to you, but having your nuts taken off doesn’t make you a woman - it just makes you a shitty male. And not only does he have his nuts chopped off to join an all-female order of vampires, they go ahead a lop off the sacks of a whole bunch of other male vampires they force to join their ranks. They’re fucking undead, they don’t even procreate. I guess there’s the symbolic gesture of it, but what’s the point of the castration in terms of the story beyond some appeal to a batshit insane form of feminist extremism? How about I write a story about women being forced to get hysterectomies in order to join a gang… let’s see how long I survive after writing that.

This dude is just pathetic, that’s all there is to it.

This dude is just pathetic, that’s all there is to it.

Beyond this inane pandering to an ideology of victimhood, the storytelling itself has completely gone to shit. All the main cast of characters are either immortal or immune to the vampire plague, even though there’s multiple strains of it now. Someone is even healed from near death by being bitten by a vampire, despite also being immune to the virus. The vampires can’t figure out if they’re burning in the sunlight or if the clouds provide enough cover for them to walk around without protection… but it doesn’t even matter anymore because there are “Daywalkers” now. And no, despite making a joke about the shows similarities to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they couldn’t even give a nod to the fact that they stole the term from Blade. I guess Buffy gets a nod because that had a chick lead, but since Blade was a dude then he can get fucked.

Blade - the one and only Daywalker.

Blade - the one and only Daywalker.

The secret organisation Blak Tek also plays a bigger role in this season but they’re just as stupid and just as mustache-twistingly evil. They’ve set up a safe zone in Denver but it’s all about experiments on unwilling human test subjects and forced labor in prison camps. There’s a bunch of elder vampires who are two dimensional and a prophecy being told by some literal hag who just appeared this season, and it all ends with an ascended Sam standing off against Vanessa and her newly resurrected Van Helsing ancestor. And you just know that the fight isn’t going to happen at the start of season 4 because it’ll be forestalled somehow and dragged out for the entire bloody season.

She lost her sister and gained a great great grandmother… it all balances out.

She lost her sister and gained a great great grandmother… it all balances out.

Van Helsing at least appeared to be correcting it’s course by the end of season 2, but it totally reverted in season 3. It’s shit storytelling combined with a failed attempt to pander to ideologues that’s created this absolute abortion of a show. Vanessa Van Helsing isn’t a strong female character, she’s a shitty male character being played by a woman. There’s still a few half decent characters in this show, but they’re few and far between… it’s like wading through an ocean of shit to find a dime or two.

These are probably the only decent characters in the show, base level humans (or thereabouts) who have real problems and character growth.

These are probably the only decent characters in the show, base level humans (or thereabouts) who have real problems and character growth.

I’m sure I’ll see season 4 at some point, because it got renewed for some reason, simply for closure more than any interest in seeing where the story goes. It’s clearly not written for people like me, it’s a show that preaches to the already converted under the guise of trying to illicit social change… and it can’t even tell a half decent story. But for some bizarre reason these Van Helsing posts are some of my most popular content - which both perplexes and irritates me to no end. Gotta give the readers what they want though, even if it’s a crazed rant about a lame-ass show. I’m just glad I haven’t had to pay to watch this tripe…

How I felt going into each new episode…

How I felt going into each new episode…

Van Helsing - Not That Bad

Back in January I made a post that was pretty much just me ripping into Van Helsing. Looking back now, after having watched the first two seasons, I think I may have been just a little too harsh. Just a bit. So this is my recant, the show's not perfect but neither is it as bad as I initially speculated. 

Spoilers. Obviously.

It's actually not that bad, it's certainly not groundbreaking but it's good enough to watch if you've got nothing else. They did away with a lot of the issues I'd raised in my initial post, and it actually got me interested in seeing where things were going. I had an issue with an everyday chick being more of a badass than a trained solider... but eventually we got to see what that trained soldier can do and it was an absolute bloodbath. By season 2 the actress who plays Vanessa Van Helsing had become pregnant and while they didn't incorporate it into the story they managed to hide it well enough and she continued to do actions scenes.

Mohamad is just a normal kid for most of the series, but he's holding his own just as well as the rest.

Mohamad is just a normal kid for most of the series, but he's holding his own just as well as the rest.

I was watching the final season of Zoo at the same time as watching Van Helsing. It had this stupid twist where it was revealed (in goddamn season 3) that the protagonist had had a wife and son who were killed when he was 19. But then the son is randomly revealed to be a character he's been interacting with all season. Dumbest, most ham-fisted, story move I've ever seen. But then it's a show about animals attacking humans, so I don't know why I expected anything else.

Anyway, back to Van Helsing. When Vanessa's long lost sister, as well as her long lost mother, popped up in the show I sort of just groaned and my eyes rolled out of my head. Dead family members should stay dead. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one before, any time this happens in a show you instantly get a bad taste in your mouth. It happened in Gears of War as well, and I love that series, so you know I'm not just picking on Van Helsing and Zoo here. We'd all love for a dead loved ones to just randomly walk through the door with a slight case of amnesia but life just doesn't work that way. 

They came up with some vague magical reason why the sister who lived a normal life before the world ended is still stronger than the sister who was raised as a survivalist ninja.

They came up with some vague magical reason why the sister who lived a normal life before the world ended is still stronger than the sister who was raised as a survivalist ninja.

My only real gripe with the show, beyond all that, is what they ended up using Christopher Heyerdahl for. That guy is a fantastic actor and he has taken on some amazing roles in his career, but here it was nothing new. He started out as Sam the deaf guy, and that was a cool character, not only for Heyerdahl but for a post-apocalyptic story. Having a handicapped character always makes things interesting, and this guy was kicking arse despite his handicap. 

He went from this...

He went from this...

But then it turns out he's a serial killer and he turns into a crazy vampire, which was basically just the same character he played in Hell on Wheels - the Swede. We had a great character that was an original role for the actor but then they pulled the rug out from under us and turned him into something cliche. It was a shame, because I really like Heyerdahl and I really liked Sam. 

...to this.

...to this.

Besides that, the world of Van Helsing is consistent and we've got characters who are all various shades of grey. Vanessa and her sister are basically "Daywalkers" like Marvel's own half-vampire character, Blade, so there's all the usual superhuman fight scenes and moral struggles that go along with that. They killed off Vanessa's daughter pretty quickly after they saved her, which was a good call. It's never nice to see a child killed (unless it's Zach Goodweather from The Strain) but the story would have stalled if the protagonist suddenly had to look after a kid. A side character finds out he's going to be a dad mere moments before his newly pregnant partner is forced to frag herself alongside some vampires. The main group find another group of survivors who are surviving by eating the vampires, which was actually a pretty fun episode. And there's the typical "Elder Vampire" character who appears at the end of season 2, but they manage to spin it around and do something original with it.

This all-female clan of vampires is pretty damn awesome too!

This all-female clan of vampires is pretty damn awesome too!

It's a dumb, fun show that's probably written for high school girls. It's Buffy 2.0., and that's fine. It's not groundbreaking, it's not going to revolutionize the post apocalyptic genre, but it is good enough to keep me entertained between the occasional eye roll. I'll happily watch the recently announced season 3, but I'm not exactly waiting with baited breath for it to arrive.

Wynonna Earp is still a fucking travesty though... 

Shipping The 100

The 100 is a show that I find problematic. A lot of people around me describe reality television as a "guilty pleasure," well... I can't go so far as to watch reality television and I will continue to wholeheartedly judge those that do, but I can watch The 100 as a guilty pleasure. It's cheesy and the story makes little sense at times, but it's got an interesting cast of characters who go through some serious development across the seasons. The one thing that keeps me coming back though is that it's managed to pull on the old heart strings more than a few times, which is never easy to do. 

A big part of The 100's fanbase is focused on the idea of 'shipping.' Don't freak out if you don't know what that means, when some post apocalyptic pals asked what my favorite 'ship' was I said that it was obviously the Battlestar Galactica.

Oh JJ, poor... blissfully unaware, JJ.

'Shipping' is short for relationships based around TV show characters, and it's one of the driving forces of The 100's popularity. There are whole wiki pages dedicated to the naming of the various couples that could potentially arise on the show. 

Now, personally... I don't care who's banging who in a story. Fictional sex and feely-feels don't really do anything for me. But as a storyteller I can get behind the crafting of compelling relationships between characters, so that's how I've had to frame this fan phenomenon. So without further ado, here's my thoughts on some of the relationships in The 100.

*sigh* what am I doing with my life?

Kabby - Kane & Abby

They're pretty much the elders of the series.

They're pretty much the elders of the series.

Probably one of the most unexpected relationships in the show, Kane had some surprise character growth early on that set him up to be an interesting character. He's an ex-politician with a religious upbringing who now acts as a diplomat and advocate for peace where ever possible. Abby is the doctor on the show and has been fairly consistent, she lost her first partner in space and mainly cares for her daughter. It's little surprise that they're together, at this point they're the only two characters of that age group that're still alive, but the writers have actually put some effort into the relationship so it never seems forced.

 

Memori - Murphy & Emori

The freak & the outcast, which is which? You decide...

The freak & the outcast, which is which? You decide...

These two got together because they were both on the outside of society for various reasons and they're both willing to screw anyone else over to survive. They've each got some baggage that influences how they think and react to certain situations and so you could tell that it was more a relationship of convenience than anything more compelling. They were both in similar situations when they first met and so they got together, but by season 5 Emori is trying to improve herself and so they've drifted apart. Sad, but they were each only ever keeping the other company until something better came along for them both. 

 

Bellarke - Bellamy & Clarke

Two leaders... that's about it.

Two leaders... that's about it.

This is the big one that everyone wants to happen, but personally I hope it never does. These two characters became leaders of the first group of Sky Crew to make it to the ground and while they were at odds most of the time, they quickly came to respect one another. The problem is, because this show is aimed at high school girls there's a lot of fake drama instilled into the narrative and because of this Clarke tends to be a very weak protagonist. She flip-flops around and changes her mind and her world view more times than you can count. Honestly I think she's the weakest part of the show, but the fans love her so they want to see her get together with the leading man.

 

Becho - Bellamy & Echo

The Sky King and the Ice Warrior

The Sky King and the Ice Warrior

These two have an interesting history together, they first met when she was imprisoned in an old bunker and he managed to save her. Then they had the old back and forth of flirting and betrayal that's so common in this series and finally, after being stuck on a space station for years, they got together. They're both compelling characters in their own right, both comparably powerful and because of the time jump they've already been together for a few years by this point. They're back down on Earth now though, so anything can change at this point.

 

Murven - Murphy & Raven

The smartass & the hardass

The smartass & the hardass

These two are my favorite characters on The 100. Murphy has got the most compelling backstory and has had some serious character growth, he went from revenge driven psycho to reluctant hero. Raven has been through the grinder as well, she's lost more than most and has been wounded in ways that everyone else is lucky enough to have avoided. They're not together but by season 5 they're stuck on a space station alone together so anything is possible. It's been heavily hinted at that Raven is the only person that Murphy respects and she's got enough clout with him that she can call him out on his bullshit. I think they'd make a good pair, mainly because they've both been through enough and they each deserve a break!

 

A lot of the fans were shocked when season 5 came about and Becho was a thing, largely because it seemed to preclude Bellarke from happening. I'm okay with this, like I said I think Bellamy is waaaay better off with Echo than Clarke. They're simply a more interesting couple, their different backgrounds and comparable skill sets make them a solid pair. Bellamy and Echo can stand together as equals, but Bellamy could never stand as an equal to Clarke on account of the fact that she's the protagonist and messiah-like savior of the world so many times over... despite being such a weak goddamn character. Honestly, in terms of narrative I think Clarke's best character outcome is to be doomed to walk alone, like Jaha.

My fear though, is that Echo will be killed off so that Bellamy has a clean excuse to get with Clarke... simply to accommodate and appease the ravenous fans. It's one of those "getting what you want, not what you need" type situations. It's silly and shallow and it will be a weak and unsatisfying ending, so I hope this doesn't come pass. Despite the shoddy world building at times, the writers of The 100 have managed  to make the relationships pretty compelling so I have faith that they'll come up with something appropriate.

There's a whole heap of other relationships that're pretty good too. Monty & Harper are great together, they're probably going to be that background couple that're always together. Clarke was actually pretty good with Lexa, both being leaders of their respective peoples. The world lost it's shit when Lexa was killed and some ridiculous pledge was developed to try and give gay characters perpetual plot armor, which is just dumb. Nathan was with Bryan for most of the series, and they were good together, but Bryan was killed off for some reason. After this, four seasons in, the writers sort of revealed Jackson to be gay... which seemed like a kneejerk reaction to avoid another Lexa situation. More quote filling than an organic narrative choice.  

It's weird, but the relationships in this show are actually one of the main draw cards, even for me. It's always interesting seeing how these people evolve and whether or not they stay together after they do. The drama is a little contrived at times, and the world building is nigh-terrible, but there's enough solid storytelling to keep me interested. I'm never going to give it a free pass but I'll always give it the time of day.

 

PS - Can I just point out that all these people have been fucking for seven years at this point, and yet somehow nobody has been knocked up? It's the post-apocalypse, there's no rubbers... how are they avoiding babies?

All the Best Shows get Cancelled

I just finished watching season 3 of Dark Matter, and as the trend goes of late, it's been cancelled. I've enjoyed a lot of shows, especially sci-fi shows, that end up getting cancelled after two or three seasons. Beyond the irritation of having to hunt down a new series to get into, it's quite disheartening when you take into account the sort of tripe that gets 10-12 seasons these days.

Dark Matter was a fantastic sci-fi series; a group of scoundrels are forced to work together when they all wake up with amnesia. You could see the sources of inspiration from countless other sci-fi shows in this one, and it really paid off. But, just when the stakes couldn't get any higher...

Dark Matter

Dark Matter

Stargate Universe only got two seasons, and considering the fact that I've already written a rather long blog post about this series I won't got into it overly much. I'll just say that it's still my favorite series ever, it was the perfect amalgamation of a few different sci-fi shows. It may come back one day, but it's looking like the comics are where it's at for the foreseeable future.

Stargate Universe

Stargate Universe

Revolution was a great post apocalyptic series that only got 2 seasons before it was canned, it was all about electricity suddenly disappearing one day and the ramifications of that. I really don't know why it was cancelled; it had a young female lead, a great cast of supporting characters around her and it was always action packed. It seemingly had everything it needed, but still it was canned.

Revolution

Revolution

Jericho got two seasons before it was canned, but Jericho has a seriously dedicated fan base that pushed for two follow up seasons in the form of graphic novels. I really dug this series, despite how over the top all the Americana was - it had this "small town against the world" feel to it.

Jericho

Jericho

Dominion, again, two seasons before it was cancelled. Heaven invades earth and humanity is forced back to a few strongholds, and their only hope of survival is an archangel that sided with them and the Chosen One that walks among them. It had it's weak points in terms of story, and the special effects were always budget, but it was always interesting.

Dominion

Dominion

Jeremiah only got 2 seasons, but that was released so many years ago that it barely counts anymore. All the adults are killed and the remaining children grow to shape the world. The creators knew the end was coming so they managed to rush a proper ending in, which was good.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah

Dollhouse is another post apocalyptic series that saw the end coming, and thus managed to get in a half decent ending. This show had so goddamn much potential that I'm simply stupefied that some jackass decided to cancel it. Body hoping technology aside, this show explored some heavy issues and the cast was superb - this is legitimately a point of confusion for me. 

Dollhouse

Dollhouse

Defiance got 3 seasons before it was cancelled. This show was about this zany earth where aliens invaded and terraformed the planet, so it's earth but just a little bit different... with alien monsters running around. It was pretty good and had a good selection of species that the cast were comprised of. It wasn't always top notch but it was always original. 

Defiance

Defiance

Outcasts got a single season before it was cancelled, and this one is a damn shame. Earth is becoming uninhabitable and so humanity is colonizing this distant planet, but it's not as uninhabited as they first thought. A great setting and an interesting cast of characters played by some A-grade talent, I was keen to see where this show would go.

Outcasts

Outcasts

Zoo is another one that I've just found out got cancelled after three seasons. I wanted to avoid this one at first, it looked ridiculous, but a mate on Twitter talked me into it and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Just when it was getting good, boom. Just like with Revolution; Billy Burke and the post apocalypse don't mix.

Zoo

Zoo

This list goes on, and I could sit here all night going on about how many times I've been let down by a great series being cancelled... but I wont. At best you can take this list as a suggested watching list. While you're waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or Westworld to start, hunt down a few of these and give them a watch. They may not last long, but they're always worth the effort. 

Why Stargate Universe is still my Favorite Series

It may not be post apocalyptic, or even close to perfect, but Stargate Universe is my favorite television series. From all the sources it pulls from for inspiration, to the mere timing of it's release, SGU may have only lasted two seasons but it ended up being one of the most influential series that I've ever seen. Hold onto your butts, this will probably be a long one...

Whenever my dad was actually around, we used to watch the original Stargate series, SG-1, together. It ran from 1997 to 2007, so it had a pretty good lifespan as far as Sci-Fi shows go. The second series, Stargate Atlantis ran from 2004 to 2009, and it was as equally campy as the original series. I enjoyed both of these, but this was primarily because watching them was something that I got to do with my dad from time to time. Even when he wasn't around, I'd keep watching them so I could catch him up when he got back from whatever hellish corner of the world he was exploring.

Stargate Universe came out in 2009, and by this point my dad wasn't that interested in television anymore so I ended up watching it alone. The tone of SGU was very different from SG-1 and SGA, it was set in the same universe but it was much darker and a lot more serious. It borrowed a lot from Battlestar Galactica, which had run from 2004 to 2009, in that it portrayed space travel as less than a fun adventure and more of a harrowing journey into the unknown where friends and family can be killed at a moments notice. My dad died around the time I was watching SGU, so it'd be remiss of me if I didn't point out how that influenced my opinion of the show.

A tail view of the Destiny... it's a pretty big ship.

A tail view of the Destiny... it's a pretty big ship.

The basic premise of the show is that there is this Ancient ship, called The Destiny, that was launched from Earth thousands of years ago. It's mission was to set out into the universe, find suitable planets that could support life, seed them with stargates, and then just keep on travelling for as long as it could. The original intent was for it to be launched unmanned and preform the first leg of it's journey without a crew, who would use the stargate to board it later on. The issue here is that the Ancients figured out how to ascend beyond their physical forms before they were meant to board the Destiny, so the mission was abandoned and the ship continued to travel on it's own. It just traveled through the universe for thousands of years, on auto-pilot, collecting data and seeding planets with stargates.

Skip to the present day, and the humans of the stargate program manage to make a connection to the Destiny, but due to a list of random circumstances that include an exploding planet, they're forced to board it without the proper preparations. This is one of the key aspects of the series that I find appealing, the fact that the vast majority of the crew are not even meant to be there. There's a large military force, because it's still the stargate program, but there's also scientists and civilian personnel. They had to board the Destiny to escape certain death, but it's a ship of alien design that's thousands of years old and they've got no way to get back home.

Politicians, bureaucrats, nerds... totally wrong people for the job. 

Politicians, bureaucrats, nerds... totally wrong people for the job. 

That's the appeal, they're the wrong people for the job and they're all stranded on this ship. The crew can't even control the ship for a large portion of both seasons, they're just passengers, or stowaways, and they're simply along for the ride. All these strangers are forced together and they have to learn how to get along and work as a team to survive. They clash, a lot, over various differences, but eventually they get their shit together and take control of the ship.

Bringing up the fact that my dad passed away while I was watching this series may have seemed a little left field, but there was a point to that. The series has a focus on characters who have had strained relationships with their fathers, and most of the characters have even lost their fathers. One ran away, another died in a car crash, one had PTSD and was abusive and another actually died within hours of boarding the Destiny. It's just random chance that my own father happened to die while I was watching a series that delved so heavily into the topic. It was definitely a factor that made the series resonate with me.

Now, as with everything else I watch, I watched SGU with a critical eye so I could learn how it worked. Combine this with the fact that I've watched this show at least ten times over, it should be obvious that I'm well aware of it's many flaws. There's a few aspects of the show that I don't like and a few scenes that just seem clunky and are there for false drama. My main issue with the show is that the crew have these devices that allow them to swap bodies with people back on Earth. It's a minor quibble but it's a way for them to stay in contact with Earth and it also allows the people of Earth to interfere with the crew of the Destiny. I get why they did it, it grounded the crew a little and let them have a broader cast to interact with, but I feel it would've been better if contact Earth was something that was held off for a season or two, to really ramp up the isolation. Beyond that, there's a few scenes where characters are just standing around info-dumping and giving blatant exposition.

The problems are few and far between, and even further from deal breakers, mind you. They're just minor aspects of a show that you tend to notice when you've watched it so many times. Besides these few points, the show had so much going for it that I was legitimately shocked that it was cancelled after two seasons. I get that the darker tone wasn't what Stargate fans were used to, but it was in no way a bad show. 

Considering the set up of the show, with random people thrown together and forced to rely on one another to survive, it should come as no surprise that the series boasted some fantastic characters and that the interactions between them were superb. The thing that set SGU apart from its predecessors is that it's characters were all deeply flawed individuals that clash with one another on multiple occasions.

Colonel Everett Young

Colonel Everett Young

Colonel Everett Young is the leader of the Destiny. He tries to do the right thing and be an example to others, but he makes the wrong decisions sometimes and circumstances begin to take their toll on him. Colonel Young is often caught between two other characters, Rush and Wray.

Nicholas Rush

Nicholas Rush

Nicholas Rush is the manipulative scientist who, while quite brilliant in various fields of science, is more known for his manipulation of people and situations. A pragmatist through and through, he seems to have cast aside most emotional influences in his decision making and goes with the most logical choices.

Camile Wray

Camile Wray

Camile Wray is a human resources officer who wasn't meant to be aboard the Destiny, she brings a more humanistic element to the leadership trio. While Rush may be cold and calculating, Wray is empathetic and... calculating. Like a lot of the other crew members, she doesn't have an official purpose but she quickly establishes herself as a sort of civilian liaison and becomes a thorn in everyone's side.

There's this great dynamic going in with this trio, where Colonel Young is caught between the brain of Rush and the heart of Wray. Although they often clash, Rush and Wray often join forces and butt heads with Colonel Young about how the ship should be run, since he's military and they're both civilian.

Eli Wallace

Eli Wallace

The primary character for the audience's introduction to the situation is Eli Wallace, a 25 year old computer hacker who lives at home with his mother. An absolute slacker with a brilliant mind, he's only on the Destiny because he solved a puzzle and the stargate program kidnapped him. He was dealt a shit hand as a kid and was saddled with too much responsibility, he had to look after others and his own interests suffered as a result. He's unmotivated and juvenile at times, and he doesn't really know how to get what he wants. He grows a lot as a character over the two seasons though and he's the character that I identify with the most.

Mathew Scott

Mathew Scott

Mathew Scott is an lieutenant who is fresh out of the training program, so he's just as new to the situation as Eli is. These two hit it off pretty quickly as they each make up for the other's shortfalls. Scott is by no means dumb, it's just that he's focused on the combat and leadership roles, while Eli is really really smart. He's a bit of a ladies man, which causes a few issues with several of the other characters aboard the Destiny.

Chloe Armstrong

Chloe Armstrong

Chloe Armstrong is the daughter of a senator who died aboard the Destiny on the first day the crew arrived. She does her best to make herself useful throughout the series but she's largely a third wheel beyond her friendship with Eli and romantic relationship with Scott. At a certain point she gets abducted by aliens and she starts to mutate, she becomes super strong and freakishly intelligent. It seemed like the writers needed a way to make her character still relevant amid a roster of soldiers and scientists. It felt a little rushed, but overall it worked.

Tamara Johansen

Tamara Johansen

Tamara Johansen is a medic that is forced into the role of ship's doctor, since she's the only one with any kind of medical training. Like Wray, she definitely brings a human element to the series and she's got one of the more heart wrenching story arcs. She's pretty upbeat in general but life just keeps slamming into her, over and over. I would have liked to have seen where she ended up if the series had continued.

Ronald Greer

Ronald Greer

Ronald Greer is the big strong guy of the series, he's a soldier through and through but he's also got a temper that gets him into trouble. He's not a douchebag with a temper though, it's more about him being overly protective and ready to sacrifice himself for others at a moments notice. There's a lot going on with Greer and it just sucks that we only got to see a bit of it before the show was cancelled. 

Varro

Varro

Finally, my favorite character in the series, Varro. This guy was part of an invading force that tried to take the Destiny, but ended up turning on his side when things got out of hand. Despite his status as an enemy soldier, he eventually earns the trust of everyone aboard the Destiny and becomes an equal crew member. He's a warrior, like Greer, but he's less aggressive and more soft spoken and reflective.

Watching all these characters interact with one another across the two seasons was always interesting, they were thrown into some seriously shitty situations. Everyone has their own idea of what's best for the group, and people clash more often than not. Factions form and conspiracies to overthrow the military rule are put into play, it takes these people a long time to put their shit aside and learn how to work together. When they finally do manage to work together, things start to go a lot better.

It's all about the characters... and making the most out of a bad situation. 

It's all about the characters... and making the most out of a bad situation. 

At a certain point, deep into season 2, the characters get the chance to return home but they end up turning it down. While they started out doing everything in their power to get back to earth, eventually they figure out that the original mission of the Destiny is that important that they chose to take it upon themselves to take it as far as they can. There's this moment where everyone is deciding if they'll stay or leave, and we see one of the side characters mulling it over in their head. You can see the realization on his face, the fact that nothing he could ever possibly do back on Earth could compare to the work he'd do on Destiny, and he decides to stay. 

I think that's another part of the appeal of the series as well, as much as it's about the human interaction it's also about this universe spanning goal. They're aboard a ship that's seeking the answers to all of life's greatest questions about the universe and our place in it. The characters are dealing with petty politics, personal fears and relationship issues while also seeking out if some kind of god had a hand in the creation of the universe. It's that simultaneous exploration of the ordinary and extraordinary that make the series so interesting.

The creators knew that the show was going to be cancelled, so thanks to the freedom of narrative that science fiction allows, we were sort of given two endings. In one, an alternate version of the crew actually get sent back in time a few thousand years and establish a small colony of humans on a planet, the main crew get to help the descendants of this colony.  We got to see the lives they all lived as they set about trying to build a civilization from scratch, it was probably the best ending the characters could have received.

The second ending, the ending of the series, is less optimistic but far more open ended and allowed for a continuation. The Destiny is about to cross a void between galaxies, and the crew all have to go into suspended animation for a few years so the ship can conserve enough power to make it all the way across. Eli is the only one left out of stasis as he's the only one who can fix the last remaining pod, the series closes with him looking out at the universe and smiling. He might not be able to fix the pod, he might very well die, but the fact that he's travelling through the stars means that it's all been worth it to him.

At the very least, it's one hell of a view...

At the very least, it's one hell of a view...

I was definitely bummed when the series was cancelled, but I've heard that there is a comic series released now that has taken up where the show left off. I'm pretty sure Eli would have survived somehow, especially if the story has continued. I'm pretty keen to get my hands on a copy of the comic, but they're hard to come by in Australia so I'm going to have to get creative. 

So that's it, sorry for the randomly long post about a sci-fi show that was cancelled six years ago and isn't post apocalyptic. Like I said, it means a lot to me simply because of the timing and context it was released into. I still hold out hope that the show will continue one day, but until then I've still got the first two seasons and those comics to track down.  

   

Zombies Following Zombies

I'm one of those people that has a difficult relationship with The Walking Dead, it's like that ex you keep going back to years later even though you're no good for one another. There's a long and complicated history there that's left me relatively confused and conflicted about how I feel about it these days.

I started reading The Walking Dead back in 2004, I never got the individual comics, I got the 6-issue graphic novels. This is actually a trend that I eventually brought with me in regards to television - I don't do that week to week shit, I wait to consume in bulk at my own pace. We'll get to that a bit later though. So in terms of being a fan of The Walking Dead, I'm one of those snooty jackasses that read the comics long before the show was even announced. 

I loved this series. In a world of DC and Marvel comics, with their colorful pages and puddle deep narratives, The Walking Dead was a monochromatic zombie-fest that brought with it an intensity that was previously unheard of. Characters died and I was legitimately pissed off. When Glenn was killed, 8 years after I'd started reading about him, I was actually sick. 

That's a real nice gun you've got there, Rick...

That's a real nice gun you've got there, Rick...

But by this stage, late 2012, the show's third season had begun and things had been going awry for a long time. I was really excited when the show was first announced, we'd never had a zombie TV series before because zombies were only ever in movies. By the end of the first season, however, I was very conflicted about the show. The old folks home and CDC compound arcs were never in the comic books, who was this Daryl douchebag and why did they spend a whole season at Hershel's farm? I had to sit down and preform some mental gymnastics to try to reconcile what I was watching compared to what I'd been reading for near a decade at this point. The show wasn't The Walking Dead that I knew, it was an alternate reality of The Walking Dead - not the same, but similar. 

... it'd be a shame if you actually lost that hand ages ago!

... it'd be a shame if you actually lost that hand ages ago!

With that framing in mind, I could watch the show and not flip every table in the room. But then I read an article that sent me into a spiral of hysterical self-destruction. There was a rumor that, because he was so popular in the show, Daryl was going to appear in the comics. I lost my shit and sold off all my Walking Dead comics that very day at a second hand book store. I called it quits, because I sure as hell wasn't going to be putting up with that sort of shit. The comics dictate the show and it's a one way street, the show *never* has an effect on the comics.

I continued to watch a little bit of season 3 with some mates and they were all ranting and raving about how evil the watered-down TV version of the Governor was. I'd just seen what Negan had done to Glenn at this point though, so I wasn't that impressed. Eventually I sort of drifted away from the show, I'd watch the odd episode here and there but I stopped following it. Over the next few years I'd periodically get bored and discover that another season had finished, so I'd *^#GO DOWN TO THE STORE AND PURCHASE A LEGITIMATE COPY(%@ and burn through it in a weekend.

We've golden soil and wealth for toil, and home is girt by sea...

We've golden soil and wealth for toil, and home is girt by sea...

When I stopped watching it weekly, and started watching it all in one go, I realized that it wasn't actually that good. It meandered a lot, the characters made stupid choices to drag out the run time and create false tension, and worst of all it relied upon cliff hangers. You become immune to cliff hangers when you can skip to the next episode straight away. As I watched successive seasons, I realized that the show wasn't popular because it was fantastic quality television, it was popular because all these cliff hangers allowed people to have water cooler talks. 

I've never actually watched The Office, but this is what I imagine people with business degrees end up doing.

I've never actually watched The Office, but this is what I imagine people with business degrees end up doing.

The show has been designed to get people talking about it. People watch an episode and then they're wondering what's going to happen next week and they're hooked for that next episode. They're all talking about it with others at work or at school, then someone else walks by and wants to be included in the conversation, so they go check it out and then they're hooked as well. The show itself is a zombie virus, it infects these brain dead bandwagon riding morons who just want to be part of the cool crowd... and it's not even that good!

ooooh, they're getting ready for a fight.... better tune in to find out what happens!

ooooh, they're getting ready for a fight.... better tune in to find out what happens!

Now, you could say that I should just been happy that the show is so popular and be content with the fact that something I love is gaining so much success. But the truth is, I was copping shit from people for liking zombies and the end of the world way before The Walking Dead came to television. Then suddenly when it became the new hit thing to watch, those same posers turned around and said it was the greatest thing ever. And I'm supposed to be cool with that?

We weren't friends before, why the bloody hell would we be friends now?!

We weren't friends before, why the bloody hell would we be friends now?!

People were hysterical when Negan showed up on the show, wondering who was going to die. And because it was the very last episode of the season they had a loooong time to wait to find out who it was. It was designed that way, to get people talking and to create a lot of false hype around the show. I know that sounds obvious, but just think about how much the show relied upon that. When season 7 finally arrived in October of 2016, there was all this shock, horror and revulsion at how brutal the murder of Glenn was, something I'd experienced four goddamn years earlier at this point. After that initial reveal though, the shows viewership plummeted and people were rushing about trying to figure out why.

I'll tell you why, and it wasn't just because the reveal could never match the over-inflated hype that'd been created. What else started in October of 2016? Westworld! It was fresh, it was new and it had cliff hanger reveals all of its own. And all those bandwagon riding zombies migrated from The Walking Dead to Westworld, because that was the cool new thing to be talking about. If you wanted to be part of the conversation, part of the in-crowd, you had to be watching Westworld. People were already watching The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, they didn't have time to religiously follow a third series, so one of them had to go.

So many twists! So many reveals! So many boobies! (It's actually not that bad...)

So many twists! So many reveals! So many boobies! (It's actually not that bad...)

And that's the crux of this "Golden Age" of television, it's not about creating good stories, it's about creating social interaction around mediocre stories through a zombie plague-like following. The people who stopped watching The Walking Dead and started watching Westworld were never fans of zombies, or of the post apocalyptic genre, they were just doing what everyone else was doing. They're literally the worst incarnation of those who ride the bandwagon, or the hypetrain, or whatever other euphemism you want to use to describe their sheep-like mentality.  When Westworld is a few seasons in and another show is released, they'll jump tracks like they did last time and go where the cool kids are.

You realize some Don Draper-style marketing executive for AMC probably made this shit... right?

You realize some Don Draper-style marketing executive for AMC probably made this shit... right?

The Walking Dead show was never that great, it was designed to be just good enough to watch and to keep people guessing in order to draw a following. Great TV shows these days often get cancelled after their first or second season because they focus on the story instead of drawing a following on social media. In a world of Facebook and Twitter, it's all about how many people are talking about you and not how good you actually are.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate The Walking Dead show... mainly just the people that follow it. I think the show has really great cosmetics/prosthetics for the zombies and their use of suitably post apocalyptic backdrops has gotten better as the show has progressed. In terms of characters introduced in the show that weren't in the comics, I actually really like Alanna Masterson's character Tara, and Tyler James WIlliams' character Noah. So it hasn't all been bad. It's just a shame they put so much emphasis on being cool and popular, it could actually be a really got show if it wasn't so vapid. 

Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaains......

Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaains......

So that's why I, a long-time massive fan of zombies and all things post apocalyptic, don't watch The Walking Dead. I might go back and get all the comics eventually, but only after the zombie herd has shambled onto something else.