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Syfy ‘Ascension’ Review

Not since (what was then) SciFi Channel televised the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in 2003 has science fiction storytelling been so good as Ascension, which aired last week. BSG changed the tone and tenure of speculative drama, that felt altogether more real in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Later watchers won’t feel the same about the miniseries or full seasons that followed. They’re beret of the shared context that amplified the emotional content.

Ascension’s showrunners smartly seek something similar, but playing reminiscent emotions rather than anger or fear. For aging Baby Boomers, and even their descendants, Ascension is a time tunnel to the early 1960s, perfectly preserved 51 years later. Pop! Let’s look inside the time capsule! i09 calls Ascension “Mad Men in Space”, and there’s something to that allusion. But unlike later Mad Men seasons, which carried the characters forward into the decade’s crises and conflicts, Ascension harkens a golden era of innocence before Civil Rights, Vietnam, war protests, hippies, political assassinations, or even the Beatles. 
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‘If I Stay’ Review

Yesterday, at my suggestion, the Wilcox couple watched If I Stay, which I grabbed from iTunes. The movie is much better than expected, and, reading professional reviews later on, grossly underrated by the critics. First-time fictional director R.J. Cutler delivers a poignant, if at times disjointed, coming-of-age drama.

The tonal quality reminds of two other family-centrics films fitting the genre: The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter Jackson, and Sidney Lumet’s Running on Empty. All three focus on a teen in transition, where the family dynamics are canvas for a larger love story. The Cutler and Jackson films bring tears, while Lumet might just make a liberal, or perhaps radical, out of you. 🙂 
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Black Mirror

Starting last night, I watched the six episodes of “Black Mirror”. What fantastically entertaining television is the program, which isn’t legally available in the United States (although Amazon sells an off-region DVD).

I hunted online for sites streaming both three-episode series. I prefer Series 1, between them. I didn’t Torrent but streamed.
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Did ’24’ Help Elect a President?

It’s a question I’ve pondered for some time, and I’m inclined to answer affirmative. The subliminal cultural impact of television is too easily overlooked, although the New York Times took a politically charged look in March 26 story “For ‘24,’ Terror Fight (and Series) Nears End“. The Times’ perspective is different than one I present here, but worth noting for what’s there and what is not.
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Movie Time

About a month ago, we switched out the Windows Media Center PC for a TiVo. Of course, what good is a TiVo without a TV to connect to? Quite good, it turns out. Rather than go back to a PC, we returned to a projector.

I shopped around before buying the projector, for which the sale of the Dell Media Center PC paid. Choice—and not the best, but appropriate for the family’s budget: Optoma MovieTime DV10. The picture quality isn’t nearly as wow as I expected, but the overall big-screen experience is more than good enough. No means is it perfect, but perfection we demand spending heaps more money. MovieTime sells for $999. 
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Starry Eyes

Maybe one reason we can’t elect a reasonable president is because so many people would rather vote for an American Idol. According to an Associated Press story over on CNN, Americans cast 63 million votes—”more than any president in the history of our country has received”—to pick Taylor Hicks as the new American Idol.

I chuckle at the absurdity of the show’s concept. Talent isn’t good singing. Real talent is songwriting and musical ability. Even a bad singer can have a pretty big hit with a really good song. But even the best singer will fail if the material is no good. Some American Idol failures, like, uh, William Hung, went on to success because of bad singing. 
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