Every year around this time I like to make a list of the things—movies, TV shows, books, events, et cetera—that I’m most looking forward to in the year ahead. It’s then fun to look back a year later and see if those things were worthy of my anticipation.
In no particular order, this year’s list includes:
New TV shows: Or more specifically one new TV show from Joss “Buffy/Angel/Firefly” Whedon! Premiering February 13, Whedon’s Dollhouse stars Eliza Dushku (from Buffy), Amy Acker (from Angel), and that guy from BSG who plays Helo. Production squabbles with Fox aside, the concept is a cool one and I have the utmost faith in Joss. So this is something I’m cautiously optimistic about.
New movies: My three most anticipated movies of 2009 are Terminator: Salvation, Harry Potter 6, and the new JJ Abrams’ re-imagining of Star Trek. Normally I couldn’t care less about Trek (I’m more of Galaxy Quest kind of guy), but JJ is just a notch behind Joss Whedon on my must-see list, and that trailer looks incredible.
New Fiction: Three of my favorite genre authors have new work coming out in 2009: David Anthony Durham’s The Other Lands (a follow-up to his beautiful fantasy debut, Acacia); George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons (book five in the Song of Ice and Fire series); and Tad Williams’s Shadowrise (the final volume in the Shadowmarch trilogy). I’m also somewhat guiltily anticipating the arrival of Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead, the first new Indy novel in a decade.
New Arrivals: Have I mentioned we’re having another baby? We’re currently calling him/her “Sprout” and he/she is due in August. Our little family is growing!
Family Milestones: Ethan’s 2nd birthday rolls around in March, and my 10-year wedding anniversary comes this September. Monumental events, all.
Year of the Rattlesnake: I make no promises, but things are looking good toward getting a playable demo—and maybe even the entire first chapter—for my always-in-progress adventure game Rise of the Hidden Sun: A ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake Dawson Adventure out the door before the end of the year.
And last but not least…
The Second Annual Outdoor Movie Night: Last summer’s first annual Outdoor Movie Night featured Raiders of the Lost Ark on a 20-foot screen in our back yard, and it was awesome. This year I’m aiming to make it bigger and better! More people, more food, and more cheesy ’80s movie goodness. I’m thinking either The Princess Bride, Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters on the big screen on a warm July night.
Returning shows I’ll be watching this fall:
- The Amazing Race. Always entertaining, often exhilerating, it’s head and shoulders better than any other reality TV show.
- Bones. The funniest crime drama on television! (Joss Whedon alumni show # 1)
- Chuck. This one really picked up steam near the end of its strike-shortened freshman season. Season two already has a full 22-episode order, and I’m expecting good things. (Joss Whedon alumni show # 2)
- Dirty Sexy Money. Frivolous rainy day DVR stuff. Love it.
- Eli Stone. One of the quirkiest, character-driven legal dramas I’ve ever seen. An absolute joy.
- How I Met Your Mother. The season opener was a little weaker than past episodes, but I still have faith. (Joss Whedon alumni show # 3)
- The Office. The most perfect, painfully hilarious show on television.
- Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Just keeps getting better. (Joss Whedon alumni show # 4)
New shows I’ll give a shot:
- Worst Week. Reviews are good. We’ll see.
- Fringe. Three episodes in, I like it, though it’s the least awesome J.J. Abrams show so far.
- Crusoe. This show gets exactly one episode to convince me it won’t be terrible.
- Dollhouse. Joss Whedon alumni show # 5!
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Jeff Goldblum on a police procedural. Could be interesting.
- LOST. Will probably DVR the whole season and watch all at once.
It seems like forever ago that I gave my first impressions of the new fall TV shows. Then a little something called the writer’s strike happened (solidarity!) and screwed up my whole plan to give midterm and final grades for the new and returning shows alike. Turns out that plan was probably more ambitious than I actually am, anyway. But nevertheless, I’m back at it with a quick rundown of the “Best In Show” of the fall 2007/spring 2008 television season. *
BEST NEW SHOW: Reaper
I gave Reaper a B+ when it debuted in October, calling it “surprisingly not terrible.” Nearly a full season later, I’m in love with it, and it just keeps getting better every week. And that can only mean one thing: It’s on the bubble for renewal. (Runners up: Eli Stone, Chuck)
BEST SITCOM: The Office
It’s both the most excruciating 30 minutes of my week (that’s what she said!) and, often, a spot-on representation of the American workplace. This is my favorite show to talk about (and quote) the next day. Can’t-miss TV. (Runner up: How I Met Your Mother)
BEST DRAMA: Lost
By the middle of last season, I just wasn’t that into Lost anymore. I still watched it, but it wasn’t grabbing me like it did in the early days. But this season has been great, and I’m happy to put it back in its rightful place as the best 60-minute show around. (Runner up: Jericho)
BEST SHOW NOBODY WATCHED: Jericho
Jericho came back from the dead and gave us seven powerful episodes about my favorite post-apocalyptic Kansas town. A third season would have taken a miracle, but this abbreviated season left me wanting more. I’m sorry to see it go. (Runner up: Reaper)
BEST CONCEPT GONE HORRIBLY WRONG: Bionic Woman
How did they manage to screw this one up? Secret identities, government conspiracies, and super-powered heroines are a recipe for geek success, but Bionic Woman never knew what it wanted to be. I wasn’t at all sad to see it go. (Runner up: New Amsterdam)
BEST NEWS EVER: Joss Whedon is returning to television!
(Runner up: He’s bringing Eliza Dushku with him!)
* – I watch Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, two perennial geek favorites, on DVD, so I’m a few seasons behind on both. But man, that David Tennant makes a great Doctor!
You know, this is probably true.
I can only assume that all seven seasons of Buffy were laden with subliminal messages that will allow Joss to activate us in his time of need.
And you know what else? I don’t care. Joss Whedon will always be my master.
I can’t believe this is real.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog will be a series of three 10-minute webisodes about “a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to,” Joss Whedon revealed on Whedonesque, his fansite. Neil Patrick Harris will play Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion will play Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day will play Penny. Plus “a cast of dozens!”
Awesome. Can’t wait. Thanks for the link, Eric.
One of the few good things about being laid up after surgery is the chance to catch up on stuff I’ve been meaning to read but hadn’t gotten around to for one reason or another.
Now, first, a disclaimer: I graduated college with honors as an English major, and I have a fairly refined taste in literature. But, man, when you’ve just had your kidney forcibly ripped from your abdomen, sometimes you just wanna read a good old-fashioned comic book. (OK, yes, that’s a little dramatic, but it sounds more impressive than “surgically removed under general anesthesia,” so work with me here.)
Point is, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m up to my elbows in trade paperbacks collecting a few years’ worth of issues from some of my favorite series. It feels good to catch up with some characters from my teens and 20s and see what they’re up to these days.
Right now I’m really enjoying Dark Horse Comics’ revival of the Conan series. I’ve plowed through the first three volumes by Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord, and believe me this stuff is phenomenal. Nord’s artwork alone transcends anything I’ve ever seen in fantasy storytelling, and Busiek’s blend of original material woven amongst Robert E. Howard’s classic pulp stories creates an unusually rich chronicle of Conan’s journey from savage youth to adulthood, and all the stages of his career in between: mercenary, thief, pirate, wanderer, and eventually king. Phenomenal stuff. I have volume four on order from Amazon. It’s addictive.
I was also blown away by the new Buffy trade collecting the first six issues of Joss Whedon’s ”Season Eight.” This is Buffy like we’ve never seen her before, but at the same time it’s also a faithful continuation of both the story and the overarching themes of the television series. So far, for me at least, Xander’s Sergeant Fury act is stealing every scene. But reading it is a mixed bag, too. On the one hand, it’s awesome. No doubt about it. On other hand… it only makes me miss the TV series that much more.
I’ve also been catching up with Spider-Man (I’ll weigh in with a review of One More Day at a later date), Planetary, and a few others. I suppose eventually this could get expensive again—comics have a track record of taking over my life if I let them—but so far I’m keeping it under control.
Plus, hey, Christmas is coming!
Normally I don’t take sides when it comes to Hollywood squabbles—I mean, who really cares?—but this writers’ strike is different. In the end it comes down to the very simple fact that the writers, anticipating that the Internet may be the future of entertainment, want a cut of the action. A very, very small cut: 2.5 percent.
It works out like this: If the Internet is the next big thing like, say, VHS and then DVDs were in the ’80s and ’90s, respectively, then the writers would get a very small and fair share of the action. If the Internet turns out to be the equivolent of Laserdisc or Betamax, they’d get 2.5 percent of nothing. It should be a win-win situation.
So what’s the problem? Greed on the part of the studios, that’s the problem. Massive, enornmous, all-encompassing GREED (yes, all caps). Greed is going to keep Hollywood at a standstill for weeks or, more likely, months and months.
And that really ticks me off, because I was really looking forward to seeing Joss Whedon’s return to TV sooner rather than later. (And not just because it also features Eliza Dushku, contrary to what Penny may tell you.) But I can wait—because the writers are on the side of truth and justice this time. Or, at the very least, they’re on the side of fairness.
So yes, I support their right to not write. After all, I’m a writer and I haven’t written in months. Laziness? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just solidarity, brother.