CSI Gets Geeky

I don’t often talk much about my TV watching — in some small part because after spending something over a decade as as anti-TV zealot, I’m in some ways still coming to terms with actually finding some TV worth gritting my teeth through the commercials — but one of the shows that Prairie’s managed to get me into is CSI, and last night’s episode, “A Space Oddity,” was so worth it.

I was pretty sure that I’d be getting a few laughs out of the episode from the previews, which made it clear that the murder of the week was going to be at a Star Trek convention. I didn’t expect just how entertained I ended up being, though. The writers obviously knew their stuff (not surprising, as it turns out the episode was written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, two former writers for Battlestar Galactica, and directed by fellow BSG alumnus Michael Nankin), and the show was crammed with funny and knowing tributes to fandom — specifically, Star Trek and BSG.

Hodges surrounded by Astro Quest fen

The show opens with Hodges running around Whatifitcon, a Star Trek Astro Quest convention, surrounded by various alien-costumed fen. Soon he runs into fellow CSI labrat Wendy, all dressed up in an AQ uniform. They don’t have long to bond over their shared love of “the greatest science-fiction show ever” before there’s a commotion nearby — a murder (imagine that)! Hodges calls in to CSI headquarters to let them know that, yes…”He’s dead, Jim.”

The victim turns out to be Jonathan Danson, a producer who’d been working on a modern “reimagining” of the classic Astro Quest show. The night before, he’d shown off the first glimpses of Astro Quest: Redux, and the response was…well, it was pretty much what happened when Ron Moore first started showing off his “reimagined” version of the classic Battlestar Galactica. In short, the fans were not impressed.

And here was where an already enjoyably silly episode really took off for me. I’d already been grinning from the various Star Trek gags, then even more when it became obvious that they were riffing off the recent BSG reworking. But then, as the camera pans across the shocked and horrified fans…

BSG's Grace Park isn't a fan of the new Astro Quest

…waitasec, that was Grace Park — Sharon Valerii/Boomer/Athena/and lots of other cylons in BSG! But after just a quick glimpse of her, just long enough for me to register the cameo, another offended fan jumps out of his chair, yelling “You SUCK!” at Danson.

BSG creator Ron Moore _really_ isn't a fan!

And, of course, that’s none other than Ron Moore himself, responsible for “reimagining” BSG. And the cameos don’t stop there, as an academic researching the cultural impact of the Astro Quest television show is played by none other than Kate Vernon, BSG’s Ellen Tigh.

The episode goes on from there, with Hodges and Wendy dancing around their newfound connection, complete with fantasy scenarios giving nods to ST:TOS episodes “The Menagerie” and “The Gamesters of Triskelion”, über-geeks a little too involved in the AQ world living with their mother in a room entirely remodeled to match the AQ set, and so on.

The one criticism I might have with the episode would be that it falls victim to the same trap that so many other shows do when involving the geek community, in that they rely so heavily on comedy at the expense of the fringe members of fandom (the geeks in their remodeled room in mom’s house, for example). However, given that they also spent time letting Vernon’s academic and the bartender espouse some of the less cringeworthy sides of science-fiction shows and fandom, and “outed” two regular cast members as fans (and it wasn’t even the less socially adept character who got all dressed up in costume for the convention), I’m willing to cut them some slack.

Bottom line: great episode, and worth watching (you can even see the whole episode online at CBS’s CSI site) if you’re a fan of CSI, Trek, BSG, or any combination of the above.

Links for January 19th through January 20th

Sometime between January 19th and January 20th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • ‘Battlestar Galactica’s’ Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’: This post contains extensive interviews and information about “Sometimes a Great Notion,” the Jan. 16 episode of Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica." Below, “Battlestar Galactica” executive producer Ronald D. Moore talks in detail about several big developments in the episode. I'd recommend watching the episode before reading the full text of the post.
  • The country’s new robots.txt file: Here's a small and nerdy measure of the huge change in the executive branch of the US government today.
  • Gothic Charm School: Snarklings, why do so many people (including ones who should know better) think that Goth has some sort of religious affiliation? Is it because so many Goths like wearing large, ornate cross pendants or intricately-beaded rosaries? Wait no; that, while possibly a small part of it, can’t be the main impetus for so many people assuming that Goth comes with a particular religious requirement. Because if that was the case, the accessorizing with crosses and rosaries would cause people to assume that all Goths are particularly flamboyant Catholics or Christians….
  • One man’s take on the new whitehouse.gov on TwitPic: Humor for the HTML geeks out there. :)
  • The top 25 Bushisms of all time.: I find the Bush who flails with words, unlike the Bush who flails with policy, to be an endearing character. Instead of a villain, he makes himself into an irresistible buffoon, like Mrs. Malaprop, Archie Bunker, or Homer Simpson. Bush treats words the way he treated recalcitrant European leaders: When they won't do what he wants them to, he tries to bully them into submission.
  • Worst Commercial Placement Ever: This is violent and contains a fairly major spoiler from the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica. The inverse serendipity of the commercial is priceless, hilarious, and very, very wrong. (via wcitymike and MeFi)

Links for January 15th through January 16th

Sometime between January 15th and January 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • no news is bad news: An expression of the value of local news, especially in Seattle, especially in these uncertain times.
  • Cool Stuff: Olly Moss’s Poster Remakes: 21-year old UK artist Olly Moss is probably best known for his popular t-shirt designs which have virally spread across the interwebs. Olly has decided to create a series of movie posters reinterpreted in a kinda minimalistic post modern German-ism style.
  • Strong Women Steer Battlestar Galactica’s Final Voyage: In her autobiography Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher recalls her most memorable direction from George Lucas while playing Princess Leia in Star Wars: Forget about wearing a bra because "there's no underwear in outer space." The women of sci-fi have come a long way since then, and for proof, look no further than Battlestar Galactica. Returning Friday night for the start of its final half-season, the Peabody Award-winning television series continues to blend current events and religion into its thoughtful story lines. Along the way, BSG has also conjured a gender-blind universe filled with female characters of genuine substance.
  • Little Progress on Adult Literacy: One in seven adults lacks the literacy skills required to read anything more complex than a children's book, a staggering statistic that has not improved in more than 10 years, according to a federal study released last week. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy surveyed more than 18,500 Americans ages 16 and older and found about 14 percent could not read, could not understand text written in English, or could comprehend only basic, simple text.
  • Top 10 Sci Fi Flicks For The Thinking Man (beerandscifi version): How many times do we need to see Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes in a top 10 list? My list will contain alternative options with movies that you may not have seen. Also, I’m taking the liberty to make my list a list not only about “what it means to be human” but also a list where “thinking people are allowed to think.”

The Last Galactica

The fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica approaches, and even though they almost lost me during season three (they went a bit too much into boring soap opera, with too little progress towards anything interesting), that season rebounded well and ended so strongly that I’m really looking forward to BSGs return.

I need to pick up the Razor DVD sometime soon, too, I still haven’t seen that.

This photo was originally published in an Entertainment Weekly sneak preview of the upcoming season of BSG. No major spoilers, but a few intriguing hints (and yes, the missing figure that should be apparent to any art student is intentional)….

Fall ’06 TV Plans

Shows that Prairie and I (either together or individually) plan on doing our best to keep up with this season (though, admittedly, our schedules will be busy enough that it may occasionally be difficult):

  • Sundays:
    • The Amazing Race 10 (CBS): Prairie’s been a fan of this one for a couple years now, and this is my first time actually watching it. Generally speaking, I’m no big fan of “reality” TV (most of what I’ve heard of and seen of “reality” programming has little or nothing to do with reality), but I’ve actually been enjoying this one so far. I’m a bit bummed that some of the more interesting teams were eliminated so soon (though, as some commenters have pointed out, my geopolitical placement skills leave something to be desired), and we’ve been surprised that so many teams have been eliminated so quickly — apparently there will be a few stretches later in the season where eliminations don’t come quite so fast and furious. At this point, our current favorites are Lyn and Karlyn and David and Mary.

    • Desperate Housewives (ABC): I missed the first year of broadcast (though Prairie often gleefully filled me in on some of the more outrageous moments over IM sessions before she and I moved in together) and had to catch up via DVD before season two started. Season two hooked me, and we thoroughly enjoy watching the weekly over-the-top shenanigans on Wisteria Lane (and I get to tease Prairie about being the perfect [i.e., non-psychotic] mix of Susan and Bree).

  • Mondays:

    • Heroes (NBC): This one’s just me, and I’m not entirely sure I’ll stick it, but I heard just enough to make me curious (a group of ordinary people suddenly discovering not-so-ordinary abilities) and snagged the first three episodes via BitTorrent. So far I’m not entirely hooked, but it’s caught enough of my interest to keep me checking it out for bit, at least. At this point, Hiro is by far my favorite character.
  • Thursdays:
    • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC): Originally, I just tuned into a couple episodes to laugh at the goofy Seattle geography and then shrugged it off. However, it was in a broadcast slot just after Desperate Housewives, and Prairie and I just kept getting sucked in when we didn’t turn the TV off fast enough. A few weeks of that, and we were hooked (it’s Prairie’s “new ER“). Unfortunately, with their move to Thursday nights, when I’m often working and Prairie teaches ’til late, we’re not able to keep up with it at broadcast, so we’ve been using BitTorrent to watch it on Wednesday evenings.
  • Fridays:
    • The Ghost Whisperer (CBS): This one’s all Prairie’s — her “silly ghost show”. I’ve not seen any of it yet, as I tend to be at work when it’s on.

    • Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): I’ve babbled about it often enough that this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Still hands-down the best show around (admittedly, I pull from a very small pool, but it’s really good). Prairie and I are just about done watching Season Two on DVD (I’d already seen it via BitTorrent while it was broadcast, she waited for the DVDs to come out), and now I’m BitTorrenting Season Three as it appears (I know, I could get them legally via iTunes, but…[sigh]…the quality still just isn’t quite there). The season premiere? Oh, so very good.

So that’s the TV plan for the next few months. A lot more than I used to do, and all subject to being preempted by school, work, or other major life events…but it’s nice to have some downtime every so often.

iTunesAn American in Paris” by San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Seiji Ozawa) from the album Panorama: George Gershwin (1977, 18:01).

BSG Webisodes have started!

Scifi.com has started posting the new short ‘webisodes’ leading up to the Battlestar Galactica season three premiere! Looks like there will be ten of them, and at about five minutes each, that’s enough for one full episode once they’re all taken together. Of course, they take place between seasons two and three, so if you haven’t seen season two yet, they’ll be chock-full of spoilers. Beware!

iTunesCabin Fever” by Muppet Treasure Island from the album Muppet Treasure Island (1996, 2:18).