TV Review – Star Trek Discovery – S01E04


Ever wonder why I’m not putting titles for these episodes? Because a pretentious title like the ones we’ve seen lately deserves no praise, no accolades, and no recognition.

Oh, well. On with the review. Spoilers ahoy. Etc.

Also, why are transparent monitors a thing? So useless.

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TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery – 1.03


Well, that was awful.

Yes, I’d held out hope that somehow the third episode would be better than the first two. That once we got to see the “real” crew and characters, we’d get something better, interesting, and, indeed, watchable.

We did not. Spoilers ahoy!

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At least the outfit’s color is correct!

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Movie Review – Rogue One


So the short and sweet here: much, much better than The Force Awakens, and easily the best of the bunch since Empire.

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Everyone involved in this movie faced a very difficult task: how do make interesting a story that everyone knows the ending to? We all know that the rebels got the Death Star plans and used them to find a weakness in the design that enabled them to blow it up.We know there’s a backstory there, but is it enough to base a whole movie on?

Well, it is if you do it right, and the people involved here certainly did.

The movie tells the story of a young girl, made effectively orphan when her father, who had a hand in the first designs of the Death Star, is captured by the Imperials and sent to finish the job. The girl eventually gets dragged into the fight against the Empire, meets up with several other people, and goes off to try and find her father.

It’s a pretty basic story, but it works well. It’s nice to have proper Imperial villains to sneer at once more, like Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin (even if the CGI on him isn’t quite there just yet), and it’s fun seeing old heroes, like Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. One gets a whole lot of other wonderful cameos, and little Easter eggs referring to the larger universe.

But at its heart, the movie is about our heroes and their efforts to stop the Death Star, and I have to say that the movie did a great job of making me actually care about all of them, even the droid, and what many people are speculating might be a gay couple.I felt genuinely invested in these characters in a way that I haven’t since the original trilogy.

The movie isn’t perfect. The CGI Tarkin probably should have only been used very sparingly, James Earl Jones sounds a bit “off” as Vader, and the music, except where it harkens back to the original score, was very forgettable. But otherwise, if this is a sign of things to come with the Star Wars universe, than I am very happy indeed. The “main” story may have gone off the rails since 1983, but at least the sub-stories can be great.

Toy Review – Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave – Platinum “Year of the Goat” Edition


What to do, I wondered. What to do? I really wanted Masterpiece Soundwave. Would it be better to grit my teeth and pay hundreds of dollars for it with the cassettes? Or perhaps pay slightly less for a version with only one cassette and then add the others? Or just give up, because WOW, was it ever expensive!

But there was a different path that awaited me. A goat trail to success!

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This is the American version of the Masterpiece Soundwave toy. He comes with all the cassettes, except Ratbat, and all the Soundwave accessories. It’s quite an excellent piece, if you can get past the fact that instead of shades of blue and black, we have a character who is alternately transparent and dark orange.

Now I was able to rationalize away that coloration problem. To me the toy itself is so amazing, and this was the only way I was going to own it (seriously, you can buy three or four of these for the price of one standard Masterpiece Soundwave), so the colors don’t matter too much to me. But they might to you.

Colors aside, the toy is great in both robot and alt-mode. It transforms quite smoothly, though in a way very different from the G1 toy from back in the day. You can fit three cassettes in him at once, just like with the other version of this toy (though don’t put Rumble or Frenzy in there), and all the accessories look great, and blend well with the toy.

As far as the aforementioned cassettes…well, they all look great, and transform wonderfully, with the birds and Ravage having built-in weapons rather than ones you have to attach. Rumble and Frenzy have the attachable ones, but those work well for them. I do have one complaint, however, and that complaint is why there’s less than five stars here.

You see, the toy comes with Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. In every other toy, Buzzsaw is yellow or gold, and Laserbeak is red. This toy, however, gives two different bird tapes. One is yellow, and one is gold. So which is which? That’s a bit of a disappointment.

Still, other than that, this is a great toy, and I highly recommend buying it if you want an MP Soundwave and don’t mind the colors.

How to Get My Attention


Not more than a day goes by without me getting an email from someone who has an item they want me to review. I’m one of the top 1000 reviewers on Amazon and that gets a bit of attention. The product might be a book, some kitchen gadget, an iAccessory, electronics, or some Bluetooth speakers (of which I now have about a billion sets). Sometimes I accept these. Sometimes I don’t. Often I delete the email without even replying. If you have something you want someone to review, here are some tips for you.

1. If you’re offering up a book, especially if it is self-published, make damn sure your email has no typos, has correct grammar, and a decent summary of the book itself. That’s all that is needed. I don’t need your personal history. I don’t need the history of your family, unless it is extremely relevant to your book.

2. Seriously, make sure everything in your email is perfect! I can’t emphasize this enough, especially the self-published variety. There is already a stigma against self-published books (rightly so, most often). If I get an email that is incoherent or badly-written, you can be sure I’m assuming the book is the same. I will therefore delete it without bothering to reply.

3. Don’t send an attachment or a link to Google Docs with a message of, “Go here and tell us what you want!” While I’m sure that’s well-meaning, and generally not a problem, people like me tend to be wary of mysterious links that show up in our emails. Offer a list of what products you have in the body of the email, and ask us to tell you what we want to receive.

4. Make sure you provide excellent customer service if you send someone an electronic device or gadget of some sort. A while ago I received a portable DVD player that was riddled with problems. I emailed the customer service in box was given a bit of a runaround for a couple of emails. It was also very clear that the person I was emailing with didn’t speak English as a first language. You can be sure that when I do review something, I’ll be including an evaluation of the customer service experience, if any.

5. Try for some variety! As mentioned, I have about a billion Bluetooth speaker sets. I literally cannot give them away as quickly as I get offered sets to review. I have no particular objection to these products, but I get offered them very frequently. If you’re trying to get a review for some $20 piece of consumer electronics like that, tell me in the first email what makes it unique compared with the others I have.

I really do enjoy getting offered the things I get offered, and I enjoy writing reviews. But please, make it as easy as possible for me to accept what you want reviewed! It will make everyone’s life easier.

Big Finish Review – Jago and Litefoot Series Five


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(special thanks to Big Finish for providing me with a review copy!)

After travelling through time and space with the Doctor, Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot are back in London starting brand new lives. Jago has become a huge celebrity and Litefoot the quiet owner of a bookshop, but in all other respects it is business as usual.

As they investigate a wealth of new cases – including a restaurant where the food eats the people, and a book with dangerous powers – a long game is playing out. A figure from their past is back, and this time he means to destroy them…

STARRING: Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie), Duncan Wisbey (Sacker), Raquel Cassidy (Guinevere Godiva), Ben Willbond (Timothy Vee), Jamie Newall (Aubrey), Chook Sibtain (Guru Sanjaya Starr), Ken Bones (Dreislav), Anna Tolputt (Summer), Alex Mallinson (Doctor Evans)

I’ll be honest. When I first began listening to the Jago and Litefoot series, I hadn’t any real high expectations. I liked the characters well enough in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, but anything more than that seemed excessive and kind of silly.

Fortunately, I was very, very wrong in this outlook. The series has, thus far, been one of Big Finish’s standout productions, and hasn’t just had the title characters. We’ve also had Leela and the Sixth Doctor turn up, and that last one ended up being important, since they went on two adventures with the Sixth Doctor and when he dropped them off, it wasn’t in Victorian England. No, he left them, by accident, in 1968.

There are four stories in this set, each one chronicling the successes and setback of Jago and Litefoot as they try to navigate a London very different from the one they are familiar with. For Jago, this involves going on TV and creating his own variety show. For Litefoot, this involves opening up an antique bookstore. They aren’t completely alone, however, as their friend Ellie, aging slowly due to contact with a vampire a few seasons ago, is still around and helping them out.

Of the four stories, I feel that “The Age of Revolution”, the first, is the strongest. It does an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the series, and introduces us to the 1960s-style version of the J&L theme. It also shows us exactly how well our heroes are adapting to this strange new world.

By contrast, the second story, “The Case of the Gluttonous Guru”, just didn’t really engage me. Introducing the whole Indian vibe was a good idea, and certainly fits what I know of 1960s London, but the execution was rather flawed. Definitely the weakest of the set, and one of the rare misfires as a whole for the series.

As for the third and fourth stories, “The Bloodchild Codex” and “The Final Act”, both were quite good. I Feel that they tied up the series nicely, did a great job of setting the stage for the next series, and really did a wonderful job of mixing in elements of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. A good conclusion to an overall wonderful set of stories.

What does the future hold for J&L? Season six isn’t too far off, so we shall find out soon!

Blu Ray Review – Jackson 5ive The Complete Animated Series


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(special thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy!)

In theory I remember watching The Jackson 5ive. It began airing around the time I was born, so I’m sure that at some point when I was a wee lad, I caught it in syndication. I had to have. But I don’t actually remember seeing it before, so maybe I missed it. The good thing is that lets me approach this set without any nostalgia. The bad thing is that it lets me approach this set without any nostalgia.

In this set, you get, on four discs, both the blu ray and DVD version of the complete series. You get every episode with 46 different songs, and a helpful book that helps you locate exactly where each song is, so if you want to watch a specific one, you know where to go for it. This is a good thing, since the music is definitely the highlight of this series.

I will say that the songs on these discs sound just great, and likely sound better than they did when they were first broadcast. The video quality is also excellent, even if the images themselves…well, look, it was the 1970s, ok? Most of us understand that it wasn’t a great time for certain forms of art, and animation is one of those. The whole thing looks exceptionally psychedelic, and not in a good way. Go to YouTube and look at some clips and you’ll see what I mean.

Beyond the animation, the stories are also really strange. In the first episode, for example, we have the boys trying to keep Michael’s pink snake from terrorizing Dianna Ross. And by “pink snake” I mean a snake that is pink, because of course. Michael Jackson also has a pair of pet mice named Ray and Charles because why not. Oh, and the whole thing has a laugh track, because, you know, that makes sense.

What you don’t get, sadly, is anything in the way of special features. Now I’m sure there weren’t a lot of things they could have done in the way of special features here, but surely a commentary or two would have been nice, or perhaps some interviews. As it stands, this creates a package that’s great for kids and hardcore Jackson 5 fans, but not so much for other people.

And I suppose ultimately, that’s how I’ll describe this. It’s for the hardcore Jackson 5 fans for those people who have kids and want to give them something safe and harmless that has a good soundtrack. If you’re looking for anything deeper than that, you’ll be severely disappointed. But if that’s what you want, I’m sure you’ll be happy!