The Mandalorian trailer

Oh, my freaking God. This is pushing all of my “Rogue One” buttons and keeping them pushed! After the hot mess that was The Last Jedi and the mediocre blahness of Solo, I’d pretty much given up on Disney Star Wars. Honestly, if the boss wasn’t likely taking the entire office to see EpIX, I’d probably have skipped it … but this looks freaking awesome.

The Expanse Season Four

Damn, I can’t wait. They’re clearly (again) taking some liberties with the source material – in the book, for example, Amos and Holden were the only Roci crew to step foot onto Ilus/New Terra … which makes sense as they’re the Earthers accustomed to a domeless sky and capable of withstanding the gravity – but overall, I’ve been pretty happy with most of the changes they’ve made during the show’s run.

So yeah. Really, really eager for this one…

Netflix Witcher Trailer

Well, I don’t think it looks that bad. Yes, there are some casting issues – I still don’t like the SJW casting of Triss as a black chick and the Yennefer casting just doesn’t work for me either, but Ciri looks fine and I like Cavill so I am hoping he kicks ass in this. The fact that we see his Geralt reacting to the potions at the end (and in the middle as well) is a good sign, I think.

Which reminds me. I really need to read the books one day…

Krypton Season 2

Totally caught up with this show and man, I’m really enjoying it. I do have some minor complaints along the way, so I figure I’ll do my usual good, bad, ugly thing.

Good

  • Brainiac. Holy cow, but I dig this version of Brainiac. He’s fantastic – the actor is doing an amazing job and I love the look they’ve given him.
  • Lobo. To my very great surprise, I actually liked him in the episodes where he showed up. Not sure if it’s just due to the actor or what, but he didn’t make me want to change the channel.
  • General Zod. Colin Salmon is, hands-down, my favorite version of Dru-Zod ever. I can actually buy that this dude is a brilliant manipulator and mastermind and soldier … and psycho.
  • Seg-El. He’s evolved beyond being the “generic pretty boy” and I’ve rather liked the change. There’s a plot development between him & Brainiac later in the season that makes me like him even better.

Bad

  • As much as I like Nyssa-Vex, thus far, she’s been kind of wasted this season with her sole focus being to rescue her son, Cor-Vex (who I would prefer to be Jor-El, but alas.) I’m still kind of rooting for her & Seg though…
  • I was also never a super big fan of Lyta-Zod but what they’ve done with her is a little disappointing … though it tracks with Dru-Zod’s mindset. And the ending in 2×05 … that was legitimately surprising.
  • Doomsday … up until 2×06 (7/17/19’s ep), it’s like they forgot about him. Looks like that’s about to change, though…
  • The weirdness between Jayna-Zod (Lyta’s mom) and Dev-Em. I can’t tell if they’re trying to hint at a future, sort of inappropriate relationship between them, or I’m just reading too much into it, but it’s weird. Plus, for two super badass soldiery types, they seem to cry an awful lot.

Ugly

  • The way Lobo got past the containment field on Colu was pretty brutal.
  • Also, the way that a considerable number of the Resistance fighters bit it through asphyxiation was rough.

So, overall, I’m really enjoying the show a lot more than I expected to considering its a prequel … though we’re into an alternate timeline now, so anything goes. I still kind of want the guy who plays Seg to play Kal for just an ep…

Terrible, Horrible Mistake

So I made the terrible, horrible, no-good mistake of blasting through the entirety of “The Dragon Prince” on Netflix last night – only about 20 episodes total, each being about 20-25 minutes long – and now, my brain has sort of engaged on “how do I rip this off for gaming?” Because of course it does.

I’ve made no decisions to start planning for something like this, but I would be a liar if I didn’t say that the thought had not actually occurred to me that, right now, I could rip this show off almost entirely wholesale, plop it down in the middle of some random world, and run it in D&D. Honestly, I think I’d even lean toward using D&D 5E just because it seems a whole lot quicker.

The core conceit is thus: on this world, magic is mostly elemental-based and draw upon “primal sources” – the sky, the stars, the ocean, the earth, the sun, the moon – and humans weren’t born with magic, but discovered ‘dark’ magic which requires someone to basically leech energy from magical creatures themselves. This led them to harvest various magical creatures, which horrified elves and dragons who drove the humans out of their lands. Thus, there are basically two major nations, with the ‘dragon king’ protecting the border. Prior to the show starting, the dragon king was murdered by humans who, the story goes, also destroyed his only egg (and heir.)

As the story begins, elf assassins, including Rayla who is one of the Main Characters, have been dispatched to assassinate King Harrow of Katolis. She ends up meeting Callum, who is Harrow’s stepson, and Ezran, Harrow’s heir, and they discover that the Egg wasn’t destroyed, but instead was taken by the king’s high mage and close adviser, Viren, who is a master of dark magic. The three kids end up deciding to try and return the Egg to the dragon queen to avert the coming war. Hijinks ensue. Along the way, Callum ends up becoming a sorcerer himself and, by the end of the second season, has actually become the only human who can naturally cast instead of relying on Dark Magic.

So ultimately, this is actually a normal questline – take this MacGuffin to That Place – but the interesting thing to me is that the MacGuffin is actually alive! In fact, the end of the first season revolves around them trying to keep the critter from dying inside the egg, and culminates in it hatching so it’s a baby dragon.

But yeah. I needed this potential fantasy game to think about like a hole in the head, you know?

GURPS Action: Consular Operations

In our Saturday group, one of the players ran an Action game that he entitled “Consular Operations” … which he stole from me as I ran a GURPS 3E game titled that … although to be fair, I originally stole it from a Robert Ludlum book (the name of which I can’t quite recall.) Anyway, the GM has basically put that game on hold – he’s running the Banestorm game at the moment – and a couple of recent events – first playthrough of the “Phantom Doctrine” video game, my viewing of “Mission Impossible: Fallout” and my binge-watch of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” – have caused me to really start wanting to run some modern day Action.

So with the originating GM’s permission, I’ve started brainstorming how to basically rip-off the “Phantom Doctrine” storyline in the Action game. I’m debating whether to start my run with my Siege adventure, then flow into the mini-campaign that I have in mind. My character in the game – a blatant ripoff of Coulson from MCU & Agents of SHIELD using the Investigator template from Action 1) – will be kicked upstairs so he’s the nominal handler of the Team.

Right now, the characters we have in play are:

  • Adam Vega – Australian Wheelman
  • Ilan Baum – Israeli Assassin
  • Stephen McKay – American Hacker
  • Raymond Hurt – American Shooter (Delta Forces – he didn’t use the Shooter template, though)

We had another Shooter whose player is no longer with the group, so I’m just going to write him out. As it stands, that PC had Bad Temper and Impulsive, so it’s easy enough to believe that he was determined to be not a good fit with the Team. There are two other players potentially joining that I know of: the former GM is likely planning on doing a Faceman (which is good because the Team doesn’t have one) and his daughter-in-law (the wife of McKay’s player) will play … I dunno, yet. I’m likely going to suggest an Infiltrator or maybe even a straight-up Medic? Not quite sure just yet. I do kind of like the idea of her being my Coulson ripoff’s daughter – played by Chloe Bennet, of course – who joined against his wishes…

So, as stated, I’ve thought about starting with the Siege adventure – which is three sessions at the very least, before flowing into the campaign proper which plays out roughly like this:

  • PCs go to Iran (or Syria, not sure which) to infiltrate alleged nuclear program to status it. Things go south & they must exfiltrate, then learn that Quinn (my Coulson’s ripoff) didn’t bother clearing this with his bosses who are upset at this.
  • Quinn then sends them on another info-gathering mission that takes them around the world, then arranges to meet them back at headquarters (New York?) … but the location is bombed with Quinn likely KIA.
  • And the PCs are framed for the bombing. Now they have to go rogue.
  • Then the PCs have to figure out who is actually behind this while their organization is crippled by various other alphabet agencies.
  • And the ultimate bad guy? Heh. It’s the United Nations. Or rather, certain members within it who are behind a grand conspiracy intended on toppling various governments so the UN can move in to establish a one-world system.

So … the creative juices are flowing again…

Krypton (SyFy show)

Major Spoiler stuff near the bottom. Be warned: I’m totally flying my geek flag throughout this.

Its no surprise, I think, that I’m a big Superman fan, although I’m definitely not what you’d call a “traditionalist” with that love. For example, I (mostly) loved Man of Steel – I still feel really, really bad for Henry Cavill who seems to have been born for the role only to get stuck with mostly crap outings ala Murderman vs Mopeyman: Twilight of Mediocrity and the abysmal Justice League that I still haven’t bothered watching though I’ve caught enough of the bits on YouTube to know “Ugh” – but I am thoroughly sick & tired of Lois Lane in every way (Superman/Wonder Woman, all the way!) That said, given the crap that DC has done with my boy Kal post Man of Steel and in the comics, I had no interest in this prequel at all when it was announced. Besides, it’s a prequel and those always kind of suck.

To my very great astonishment, though, I’ve discovered that I really like this show. It’s basically Terminator but on Krypton, with Adam Strange showing up 200 years before Kal-El was sent to Earth because he has knowledge that Brainiac has gone back in time to kill one of his greatest enemies before he even is born. (And then we find out that … well … that’s a spoiler!) Seg-El is the main character and he is Jor-El’s dad (though it’s up in the air who Jor’s mom is right now.) They’ve done the usual race-swapping stuff Hollywood likes – the Zods are black now, but DC’s Earth 2 (I think?) already did that with Val-Zod and the actors they’ve put in those roles have mostly worked for me. Especially Colin Salmon who I really like as an actor.

The big bad in the first season – Brainiac – has been done extremely well. I’ve wanted a live action Brainiac for a long time – I thought he should have been the bad for Man of Steel 2 before they ruined the DCEU with Murderman v Mopeyman, but honestly, now it’s going to be hard to top this version. He’s a smart, intimidating and powerful bad guy who, yeah, is kind of smug but that’s because he’s insanely intelligent, and that always makes for a better show. I’m not a fan at all of stupid bad guys … unless it’s on Justified because they did that so well it was impossible to not be entertained.

Because it’s modern SyFy – God, I hate that label – they had to throw in the 20-something love connection stuff and I very much tired of the “love square” pretty early on with the show, but that’s pretty common these days. They started out with Seg-El romantically involved with Lyta-Zod – there’s canonical stuff for that too. the Earth One: Superman books (I think?) made Zod into Jor-El’s brother (so he was Zod-El instead of the more traditional Dru-Zod) – but Seg was ‘bound’ to Nyssa-Vex (a wholly original creation, I think) and OMFG, I think I love her. She starts out as a schemer and manipulator, but as the show has progressed, she’s (naturally, since this is television) become legitimately emotionally invested in Seg. I think the show expected me to root for Seg and Lyta, but their chemistry didn’t really work for me while Nyssa & Seg are just a lot more fun to watch. Plus, in the season finale, she totally gives a speech about her unborn child (with Seg; they’re using the artificial gestation thing that John Byrne introduced in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman reboot comic Man of Steel. This was used in the Man of Steel movie as well and they used that name: Genesis Chamber) being capable of being more and greater than the culture believes if given the opportunity. This sounds so much like Russel Crowe’s Jor-El from MoS that I find it hard to believe that wasn’t intentional.

It isn’t wholly perfect, of course. I’m not super into the “Adam Strange” thing – he really doesn’t connect to Kal in the comics so I’d have leaned more into Superman’s mythos & had the time traveler who is trying to save the “greatest super-hero in the universe” (his words) from being invalidated from the time stream be Jo Nah, aka Ultra Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a team in the 31st century who were heavily influenced by Kal’s actions in the “present.” My reasoning for this is twofold: first, Jo isn’t known to be one of the Legion’s ‘great thinkers’ and all of Adam Strange’s actions thus far have been … let’s be kind and say ‘not well thought out.’ Since Jo is impulsive, it totally fits him to do something rash without thinking things through. Second, Krypton is (traditionally; obviously, this varies according to the writer at the time) a very high gravity world, which is one of the reasons Kal ends up with some of durability when he comes to Earth; a normal human on Krypton should be incapable of walking or crushed like a bug. Jo is not a normal human. He’s basically got Kryptonian powers himself – super strength, flight, durability, “flash” vision, super speed, etc. – but unlike Kal, he can only use them one at a time. If he’s on Krypton and constantly using his super strength to ensure he’s capable of being upright, that works perfectly. There’s also a really good story during the ‘5 Years Later’ run of Legion in the 80s (immediately following the Crisis on Infinite Earths that rebooted the entire DC comics history for the first time), I think, where Jo was thrown into the past & mucked around there.

Another one of the really interesting bits was the formal uniform that Kal’s ancestor (complete with red cape!), Val-El, wore in a couple of scenes below I could totally see Kal wearing basically the same thing, just with a bigger House of El shield ala the one Cav-El has on his suit. The pants would probably need to be adjusted too but this makes a bit more sense to me than the normal ‘spandex’ look. I’d really like to see a mock-up of Kal’s suit using this, maybe taking inspiration from the normal comics version of the Valor outfit (another LSH character.)

Val-El, grandfather of Seg-El who is the grandfather of Kal-El. Lot of “grands” there.

Now onto the real spoilers. You’ve been warned.

So, the plot of this is that Adam Strange has gone back in time 200 years before Krypton exploded because he has learned that Brainiac, “Superman’s greatest foe” according to him (debatable, I suppose. Definitely one of Kal’s tougher foes) is trying to wipe out his enemy before he was even spawned. This ultimately turns out to be bad intel as yes, Brainiac is coming to Krypton, but’s it is to steal the city of Kandor (the “bottled city” from the comics) which ultimately leads to the planet’s core destabilizing and going boom in Jor-El’s time. However, it turns out that General Dru-Zod (who escaped from the Phantom Zone) has also traveled back in time, though he’s trying to prevent Brainiac from succeeding (which means Krypton wouldn’t explode.)

As this is a prequel, you need stakes so Adam Strange has brought back one of Superman’s capes that is slowly disintegrating as the timeline gets corrupted (ala Marty McFly’s photograph.) This actually worked out fairly well with the obvious knowledge that when it’s gone, Superman is gone as well.

In the end of season 1, Seg-El (who I’ll be honest wasn’t much more than a generic stock Hero with the chiseled jaw and all that) manages to trap Brainiac in the Phantom Zone before he can bottle up Kandor, but Brainiac manages to take Seg along for the ride. Dru-Zod (who has been revealed to actually be Seg-El’s son, so he’d be Jor-El’s half-brother destroys the PZ projector so they’re both trapped. Kal’s cape, which had repaired itself then suddenly transformed to show Zod’s sigil instead while Adam Strange, who had teleported back to Detroit had actually discovered A. that he was in a bottled city of Brainiac’s and B. there was now a big statue of Zod in the city. On Krypton, Zod has seized power and is now ranting about conquering other worlds so they will KNEEL BEFORE ZOD! (I really dug Colin Salmon’s delivery of that, by the way.)

And under Kandor, Doomsday has woken up from stasis and smashed his way free.

Season 2, which is evidently coming in 2019, looks like it’ll be very … interesting.

Lost in Space (2018)

Worked my way through this on Netflix over the weekend and, for the most part, I rather enjoyed it. Was a fairly effective way of re-envisioning the series. When I saw the initial trailer, I sighed – they race-swapped the eldest Robinson, Judy, and gender-bent Dr. Smith, so I was expecting more SJW-type nonsense (e.g., “Hey, let’s make Penny, the middle kid, gay!” or something like that.) Fortunately, the Judy & Smith changes were pretty much where it stopped.

And speaking of Smith, I have to give props to the writing, directing, and Parker Posey’s acting because I quickly grew to despise this take on Smith. If I was one of the adults in this mess – say, John Robinson, the dad, who is either a marine or a Navy SEAL (because of course he is) – there is no way Smith would show up in season 2. She would have a tragic accident in the airlock that “sadly” claimed her life. If anyone called me on this thin story, I’d probably shrug and admit that I might have helped out but that it was for the best because Smith seemed utterly incapable of interacting with anyone and not stabbing them in the back. She was most definitely the scorpion on the frog’s back and it is stupidity of the highest magnitude to not remove her from the equation to maximize your family’s survival.

The race-swap with Judy was actually surprisingly well done. She is Maureen’s daughter from a previous relationship (unsure whether its by marriage or just an oops) who had already been born when John entered the equation, but she sees him as her dad and vice versa. They even did a nice little quick explanation at one point when Don West gave her when she mentioned ‘her dad.’

Speaking of West, he was definitely one of my favorite characters because he was the Everyman and something of a snarkmaster. He wasn’t anywhere near as snark as Penny, but still, he he managed to be both comedic at times without be comedy relief.

The backdrop of this season is that the Robinsons are part of the 24th mission to the Alpha Centauri colony. We open in media res with their Jupiter crashing on a planet and then get information about how they got her via various flashbacks, which works well enough as a narrative device. The colony ship itself was attacked which led to the crash landing of many Jupiters, and eventually, we learn that the Robot (which show up later on) is what attack and is an alien. Straight away, we learn that Smith isn’t her name – she totally nicks the ID during evacuation from the real Dr. Smith as he lay there wounded; funny bit of stunt casting there as the real Smith was played by Bill Mumy who played Will Robinson in the original show. The bulk of the season is the crew trying to survive as this planet tries to kill them (and the rest of the surviving Jupiter crews), but we end the season on a cliffhanger with the Jupiter 2 crew (including Smith who absolutely needs to get blown out the airlock at this point) truly “Lost in Space…”

So yeah. I’m certainly looking forward to season 2.

Into the Badlands

Watching “Into the Badlands” on Netflix. Was aware of this show but never got around to watching it until now. It’s kind of ridiculous in a lot of ways but the fight scenes are everything “Iron Fist” should have been but wasn’t. And “The Widow”? Wow, she’s gorgeous.