Look At What They Make You Give

One of the many strengths of Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity (spoilers ahead) is a character called the Professor. Like Jason Bourne, he’s one of the Treadstone program’s assassins, a laconic piece of work who says nary a syllable until he finally catches up with his quarry. And once Bourne has gunned him down, he uses his dying words to reflect on the terrible bond they share:

Look at us. Look at what they make you give.

Bourne himself will repeat those words in The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s a commentary on the way Treadstone has leached the good from them both, in the name of a supposed higher purpose.

And after seeing the latest Doctor Who, the road from the Professor to the Doctor might not be as far as you’d think. Or hope.

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These Are The Musical Voyages…

Spend the briefest length of time with me, and you’ll know that I love film music. I’ve been in love with film music for the better part of my life. It’s effectively permeated my DNA.

Spend a slightly longer length of time with me, and you’ll know that it all started with Jerry Goldsmith and his iconic score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since I first heard “THE score” all those years ago, music has been a huge part of my Star Trek experience.

And last night, that experience took me to a whole new dimension.
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It’s Complicated, But Does It Really Have To Be THAT Complicated?

One of the many things that’s made Series 8 of Doctor Who so different from past seasons is the nature of the arc that informs the stories. In past years (especially since Steven Moffat became showrunner), those arcs were plot-driven, grounded in twists and turns and reveals of mixed justification and mixed success.

But this season, the arc is almost entirely character-driven. It’s about relationships. It’s about Clara’s relationship with the Doctor. In a way I’m not sure the show has really attempted before, Doctor Who is exploring what it means to travel with the Doctor. And it’s exploring that relationship from both sides.

And so, it’s not altogether surprising that the last two episodes have effectively changed the status to “It’s Complicated.”

But it’s still great viewing.

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What It Means To Live In Your Own Head: Thoughts on John Scalzi’s Lock In

One of John Scalzi‘s great strengths as a writer, one I wish I could better understand and emulate, is that he almost never tells the same kind of story twice. Even in the same series. Even in the same novel – The Human Division moved so deftly between space opera and political thriller and media satire and slapstick comedy and family drama that the journey was just dazzling to behold.

So, it’s no surprise that his latest novel is almost entirely unlike anything he’s written before.

But there are still plenty of surprises to be found in Lock In. And again, it’s a wonder to see them unfold.

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Growing Up With A Space Dad

We’re halfway through Series 8 of Doctor Who, and I’m beginning to think that this season is as much about Steven Moffat learning from his mistakes as it is about the Doctor learning from his.

This last week’s episode is a perfect case in point. “The Caretaker” explores a theme Moffat covered just last season in “The Power of Three”: what it’s like to try to live an ordinary life when the Doctor’s in it. But that episode never quite succeeded, while this one succeeds quite well.

The difference?

Consequences.

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Off to Alamo City Comic Con

In a little while I’ll be heading to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for Alamo City Comic Con.

It’ll be a kind of working mini-vacation – I’ll be representing with the cast and crew of Now Hiring (an indie superhero comedy made here in S.A. – I still owe you the story of how I got involved with it, but it’s a pretty good story…), but I’m also hoping to meet some of the genre luminaries I’ve admired for so many years (it’s a cool lineup). I’ll get to check out some awesome art and merchandise. And I get to spend the weekend just being a nerd.

Or, if you prefer, me.

I may post daily wrap-ups, depending on how I’m feeling at the end of each day. But if you’re not already, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more immediate updates.

If you happen to be at the con, please find me and say hello. I’d love to meet and catch up with you all.

So, with that… “excelsior?”… “allons-y?”… anyway, hope to see you soon!

The Fine Art of the Decompression Episode

As a writer watching writers, one of my favorite things to study is what I call the Decompression Episode.

I’ve talked about it before, but to elaborate: The Decompression Episode is a lighter episode of any given dramatic series. It usually follows an especially heavy episode, but doesn’t necessarily have to. It typically stands apart from any major story arcs, but may still at least hint at them. It exists to allow audiences (and sometimes the cast and crew) to recover from an especially heavy or eventful dramatic moment or arc.

The challenge of such an episode is to maintain a lighter tone than what the series usually offers, while still remaining true to the spirit of the story and characters. Not every series can pull it off. But when you do, you get something like The X-Files‘ “Bad Blood” (Vince Gilligan’s classic vampire comedy) or The Human Division‘s “The Dog King” (John Scalzi, man. John Scalzi…).

And even if you don’t reach those heights, you might still get something like Doctor Who‘s “Time Heist.”

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