Archive for the 'Television' Category

Lost: Via Domus (PS3)

61uyvjdhnfl_aa280_.jpgOK, so it’s not strictly film related, but it comes on a Blu-Ray for the PS3 so there is a tenuous connection…

I wasn’t holding out much hope for the Lost videogame - with such a rich ‘world’ to draw on, it seemed certain that the developers wouldn’t bother so I wasn’t that disappointed that they didn’t. With a handful of locations from the TV series (the beach, part of the jungle, the hatch, the Black Rock and a few of the Dharma stations), a few of the characters (mostly not even voiced by the real actors, and even when they are they sound nothing like their TV counterparts) and a plot that only grazes on that of the TV show, Lost: Via Domus is a disappointment from start to end (and the time between the two points is literally only a few hours of gameplay).

The graphics vary from outstanding (some of the cutscenes) to laughable - they’re glitchy and the collision detection is so over the top that you can find yourself stuck to the leaf of a plant. The areas that are in the game look nice, but they’re small and restrictive and the character animation and design is variable.

I played through hoping that the game might add some richness to the Lost universe - I wasn’t expecting answers, but I would have liked something to expand on the experience. However, the game isn’t really canon and therefore it could really have been set anywhere. You play the part of a Oceanic 815 survivor who has amnesia - the game uses the familiar flashbacks to fill in the gaps as the game progresses, oddly via you taking pictures with your camera to jog your memory. The storyline occasionally hints to the events of the show and gives a good idea of pacing and the rough timing of the games events, for outsiders however the cutscenes that carry these hints would be meaningless.

The sound design is good and full use is made of the surround effects when you are being stalked by the smoke monster - the game does excel here, but the effects themselves are lifted wholesale from the series so it would have been hard to go wrong.

The majority of the playing time is made up of frustrating segments where you have to repeat the same bit over and over again due to the unforgiving nature of the game. In pitch black caves with only a torch you must navigate nearly invisble potholes. You must hide from the black smoke frequently as there is no other defense and while it’s possible to kill any opponents you spot (two or three at the most) you can complete the game without doing so. Even the flashback scenes are mostly trial and error - and can become infuriating, not due to any skill being needed, but to the whole concept of spotting the exact second you need to take a photo.

The ending of the game is as disappointing, frustrating and confusing as the rest of the experience - without spoiling things, we don’t learn anything and the last second is a pure ‘Lost’ WTF moment - only this time we’ll never get any explanation.

In an age where free-roaming games feature huge cities and massive amounts of detail, a linear game that is both as frustrating and unrewarding as Lost: Via Domus should never have made it past the planning stage. With no real quality control and the perfect example of abuse of a licence, there is little to recommend this game to even the most die-hard of fans. At a budget price it would be too expensive, however at full price it’s plain daylight robbery. Avoid.

2/10 (only because of the sound design)

Posted on 1st March 2008
Under: Television, Gaming - PS3 | No Comments »

Doctor Who Christmas Special - and is Tennant off?

This year’s Christmas Special had a tough job to please fans this year - while those who are blindly dedicated to the new incarnation of Doctor Who will continue to extoll the virtues of the series, those of us who are a little more discerning are beginning to see the cracks appearing and they don’t look pretty.

While 2005’s Special had a big job to do in introducing the new Doctor, this year the producers decided against introducing the Doctor’s new assistant following the departure of Billie at the end of series 2. Instead we had Catherine Tate screeching her way through the episode as the titular Runaway Bride, Donna. Yes, she was irritating, but that was how the character was supposed to be - so I guess Tate was perfect for the role. We also had the usual Tennant gurning and plot holes bigger than the inside of the TARDIS; both of which should be familiar to viewers.

The big problem is that The Runaway Bride had an uphill struggle following the disappointment that is Torchwood - and Russell T Davies and co. will have a lot of work to do to restore this viewer’s faith in the Who franchise. Thankfully, while the trademark plotting and scripting issues seem to be rubbing off on Torchwood’s parent series, at least Who continues to be enjoyable, I just hope that the producers pull their fingers out and give us something to be proud of in the coming series.

And, just two days after the Christmas Special was broadcast, there are rumours abound that David Tennant is hanging up his pin-striped suit before the end of the fourth series - whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but given the hit-and-miss nature of the scripts and show direction over the past year it certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. I’m more than happy that Doctor Who is back, and that is thanks to Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner - but I’m beginning to feel that it’s already time for a new pair of hands to steer Doctor Who away from the pantomime it is slowly becoming and Tennant’s departure might be a good time to make some changes at the top and reinvent the series all over again.

Posted on 28th December 2006
Under: Television, Science Fiction | No Comments »

Rentaghost with swearing?

torchwood-jackandgwen.jpgThe title of this article is one of the best descriptions (shamelessly nicked from Harsin’s post over on The DVD Forums!) of Russell T DaviesDoctor Who spin-off I’ve heard so far. After months hype and anticipation, Torchwood, is finally with us and it looks like good old Russell has scored a bit of an own goal. You see, it’s just not very good.

The publicity machine has been in action for a while - various descriptions have been thrown about by the cast and crew. “X-Files meets This Life“, “adult sci-fi” and “Doctor Who with sex” they said - unfortunately none of these really stick. It’s patently NOT Doctor Who and while it has sex, it’s not really sci-fi either and it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to anything like The X Files or This Life. The scripts are terrible and the series has not one ounce of originality borrowing from anything you care to think of. RTD was a big fan of Buffy and here he tries to replicate the success of Angel in developing a more grown-up spin-off from a successful show - but in the case of Torchwood it hasn’t worked.

If it wasn’t for it’s Doctor Who links, not only would it never have been green-lit, no-one would be talking about it now. However, it seems that Russell can do no wrong and the UK media continues to fawn over him as some sort of media genius. We KNOW he can do good adult TV thanks to things such as Queer as Folk, Second Coming and even Casanova, but he seems to have lost the plot. Doctor Who needs the light touch to appeal to a family audience and it works wonderfully, but Torchwood doesn’t and yet we still seem to be getting child-friendly stories with some gratuitous bonking and a few fucks and shits thrown in to justify it’s post-watershed existence. Calling this adult television is insulting to those that were hoping the UK would for once have some intelligent, non-diluted and thought-provoking science fiction to rival anything the US can offer. Instead we have this mishmash of ideas that doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, drama, thriller or some seedy sex-obsessed late-night junk.

Posted on 6th November 2006
Under: Television, Science Fiction | 4 Comments »

Battlestar Galactica - BEST TV SHOW EVER!!!!111


A controversial finale for season two gave me some trepidation when I sat down to watch the first four episodes of Battlestar Galactica Season 3. I needn’t have worried - Ron Moore and the rest of the writers have proven themselves with some of the best television I’ve ever seen. Season 2 saw the survivors of the Cylon genocide settle down to life on New Caprica, unfortunately their respite lasted just one year and the Cylons returned and occupied the planet. Season 3 opened with parallels to the current war in Iraq - a strong occupying force and insurgent attacks taking the lives of both the occupiers and innocent civilians made the comparison obvious. It was handled well and what could have been an ‘in-your-face’ political statement instead made gripping and emotional television.

However, this isn’t the reason for this blog entry. Instead I have to rave about the latest two-parter - Exodus - a gripping, moving and jaw-dropping closure to the New Caprica arc. Amazing performances from every member of the cast, coupled with some stunning special effects made these two episodes a joy to behold. The opening moments of the second part see Colonel Tigh kill his wife in response to her treachery - a truly heartbreaking moment as he takes the life of the woman he loves, despite everything she did. Shortly afterwards we see Galactica appear over New Caprica and plummet through the atmosphere as the vipers launch - only to jump away before slamming into the planet below; this has to be one of the most breathtaking effects sequences ever seen in a television programme.

Battlestar Galactica could have jumped the shark at the end of last year, but now I have more faith in the writers and producers than ever before and I only hope that they’re given the chance to continue telling the story of the search for Earth for many, many years. It’s just a shame more people don’t watch what is probably the best show on television purely because it’s science fiction…

Posted on 24th October 2006
Under: Television, Science Fiction | 2 Comments »

New Doctor Who: Series 2

The second series of Doctor Who has come to an end. This year was a bit of a rollercoaster both in terms of storylines and quality - we’ve seen some of the best the show has to offer, but we’ve also seen some of the worst.

David Tennant always had a difficult task in replacing Christopher Eccleston, but he did a fine job. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to criticise - the gurning, the overacting to name but two, but he had to be significantly different to the previous Doctor. Some of the problems were down to the way he was written, but on the whole Tennant was ‘The Doctor’ in every sense of the name.

Billie Piper on the other hand didn’t live up to her promise - after surprising everyone in her first year on the show, she’s been increasingly sidelined and it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who had been paying attention that she was going to be written out of the show. Thankfully her swansong was a strong episode and perfectly judged by Russell T Davies. Piper’s acting had left something to be desired throughout most of this year but she lived up to the challenge of the finale.

The problem is, Davies has now taken the series further into the realms of fandom than ever before. Pitting the Daleks and Cybermen against eachother should have been every fan’s dream, but it played second fiddle to Piper’s departure and was a bit of a damp squib. I can only hope that the REAL Cybermen appear next year and show us just how they’re supposed to be - none of this crying nonsense!

Series 2 was good - not as good as series 1, but then that would have been difficult. Next year will be the one to make or break the new series and if some more adventurous stories and more serious writing don’t appear soon a lot of fans are likely to start abandoning ship. So, Russell, please can we avoid the council estates of ‘London’ and concentrate on more travels in Space and Time?

Posted on 13th July 2006
Under: Television | 2 Comments »

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