Nathan's Laserium: The Rule of the Hundredth Meridian

I have a rule, pretty much ironclad. It’s a good thing I’m not some CEO or, I dunno, like a guy who negotiates treaties. Anyone who has to speechify for a living. It’s the Hundredth Meridian Rule. No matter what I’m doing, doesn’t matter, whenever The Tragically Hip’s At The Hundredth Meridian comes on I have to sing/recite the poem at the end. You know the one:

 

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me

If they bury me some place I don't want to be

You'll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously

Away from the swollen city breeze, garbage bag trees

Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity

And lower me slowly and sadly and properly

Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

 

Imagine delivering the Canadian equivalent of the state of the union address, whatever that is, and you’re the Prime Minister, and that song comes on and you have no choice but to interrupt your speech and do that poem.

But I guess it’d be ok because all of Canada would be singing along.

Damn.

You may have heard that legendary Hip frontman Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.

Back in the 90s, The Hip were everything. It was a good time for Canadian music, at least to me and my nostalgia, but The Hip were the best and they were why we had any decent bands at all.

Any Canadians roughly my age know this already, but for you Americans and sundry other humans out there, there’s a thing called CanCon. The CRTC (our version of the FCC) has rules that radio stations and TV channels and such have to play a certain percentage of Canadian Content. CanCon. From about 1989 to 1996 or so, The Tragically Hip pretty much provided all the CanCon anybody ever needed.

 

New Orleans Is Sinking

Boots or Hearts

Little Bones

Three Pistols

Fiddler’s Green

Courage

Locked in the Trunk of a Car

At The Hundredth Meridian

Grace, Too

Scared

Nautical Disaster

 

The list goes on and on. An unbelievable body of work, all brilliantly united by Downie’s haunting voice and inscrutable lyrics that evoke the rougher edges of being Canadian when they even made any kind of sense at all. Some of my favorite lines:

 

Sled dogs after dinner

Close their eyes on the howling wastes

Kurt Cobain reincarnated

Sighs and licks his face

(Don’t Wake Daddy)

 

Everyone's got their breaking point

With me it's spiders, with you it's me

(Thugs)

 

This sounds like an eulogy, doesn’t it? It’s not. Those motherfuckers are going out on tour this summer, one last time. Fuck cancer. I’ll do my best to go- one huge oversight in my concert list is The Hip. I was always working or traveling, it seemed, when they came around. And there was always going to be next year, right?

Damn.

- Nathan Waddell

 

Weekly Trek – May 23-29, 2016

Considering that Star Trek is a franchise set in the future, I’ve spent an awful lot of time (all of it really) talking about the past.  Since the last episode of the Star Trek: Enterprise aired 11 years ago, that isn’t exactly surprising.  Between then and now, we’ve had two feature films (With a third, Star Trek Beyond, due this Summer. The NEW TRAILER for the film was just released on Friday evening.), but not much else.  Now, though, let’s talk about future.  The big news over the last several months has been that Star Trek is returning to television in 2017…

…sort of.

As I’ve discussed in several of my Sunday posts, the new series will air its pilot episode on CBS, but after that the series movies to CBS’ online service, CBS All Access, which will force me to decide whether Star Trek is worth $6 per month to me or if I’ll be waiting for it to hit Netflix or DVD. 

Additionally we know that Bryan Fuller will be the show runner (I’ve written about why I believe this is great news HERE) and that he’s brought Nicholas Meyer (Co-writer/Director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and co-writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.) and Rod Roddenberry (Son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) to work on the new series. 

Recently it was announced that the series will shoot in Canada, which isn’t all that surprising, since the vast majority of effects-heavy shows shoot there due to cost-savings.  Pretty much the entire CW and Syfy slates are filmed around Vancouver.

What we didn’t have, though, was a real look at the new show.  As of this week, we still don’t.  CBS did, however, release a teaser trailer as a part of their presentation about next season.  You can watch it HERE.

Ok, so it doesn’t show anything.  That’s to be expected, since they haven’t announced any casting yet.  What was interesting to me, though, was the tagline used in the trailer, particularly the words “New Crews.” 

Crews.  Plural.

This lends credence to a rumor that I pretty much dismissed back in THIS POST that the new series would actually be an anthology series, which each season starring different characters and taking place at a different point in Star Trek history.  I thought the idea, while intriguing, would be economically infeasible.  Maybe I was wrong. 

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about this over the next few months as production gears up.  For now, though, I can bask in the glow of the fact that all of this is actually happening.

Star Trek is coming back.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Surveying the Aftermath

This week the major US television networks gave their upfront presentations, in which they revealed their new shows planned for the 2016-17 season as well as when those shows will be airing. It also marked the end of the line for many shows from this past 2015-16 season.  While I wasn’t able to find an exact figure, sites I looked at claimed that in any given season between 65-80% of new series don’t make it to a second season. 

Of course, surviving the first season is no guarantee of a long run.  Many shows don’t make it past season two.  Season three is the closest place to a safe zone there is.  For most shows, once they get to season three, they are very likely to receive a renewal for a fourth season so that the series has enough episodes to be sold into syndication.  This is particularly true for shows that are made by a production house owned by the same corporation that owns the network airing the show.

So every year a lot of shows are cancelled.  No surprises there, and the counts for this year aren’t anything unusual.  But this year didn’t seem to get pretty ugly in the “Let’s Cancel Shows Alan Watches” department.

Who am I kidding? 

It was a bloodbath.

Absolute carnage.

So now I bring you a brief In Memoriam for this season’s casualties.

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris I didn’t plan to watch this show when I first heard about it and I certainly didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but this unusual take on the variety show was just so much fun, mostly because of the sheer amount of energy and charm exhibited by its host.  I’m sure the show was expensive to do, and its ratings were meh.  Still, I hoped that NBC would keep it around maybe as a series of occasional specials.  Alas, it is not to be.  Harris will be fine, though.  He’s currently playing Count Olaf in the television adaptation of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books that Netflix in making.

The Muppets – I wanted to like this show.  Really I did.  The Muppets were a big part of my childhood, and I absolutely loved their 2011 “comeback” film.  I watched every episode of this new series, but it never really gelled for me, as I discussed in THIS POST.  After the show went on its winter hiatus, it returned under the control of a different showrunner, who very quickly set out to undo many of the moves made in the first ten episodes.  Kermit’s new girlfriend was quickly jettisoned, and the process of Kermit and Piggy’s reconciliation began.  I also approved of the move to get Rolph more involved.  Outside of a moment or two in each episode, though, I found myself bored and just not entertained.  I don’t know that I would have come back for a second season anyway, but now I don’t have to worry about it.

Marvel’s Agent Carter­Between Captain America: Civil War and the cancellation news, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Peggy Carter.  Haley Atwell, who was so very good in the part, has a new series, Conviction, coming this Fall, so the news wasn’t a complete shock.  Still, having Agent Carter running for 8 or 10 episodes while Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was on hiatus was a nice treat.  I don’t know if Atwell’s schedule would allow it or if it would fit with the SHIELD producers’ plans for their next season, but I would love to see them weave in flashbacks to tie up Agent Carter’s loose ends next year.

Mythbusters After such a long run, Mythbusters was due to end at some point.  And really I felt like the series was running out of decent myths to tackle.  Far too much time was being spent doing myths from movies, TV shows, and viral videos, none of which I expected to be real anyway.  Still, I will miss my weekly time with Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.  The reunion special at the end which featured the returns of Kari Byron, Tori Belleci, and Grant Imahara left me a bit misty-eyed.  I know all of them have new projects in the works, so I will get to see them soon.  Meanwhile, Science Channel is already planning to bring the show back with new hosts, and to find those hosts, they’re using (What else?) a reality show.  This is not something I say very often but TOO SOON!

Galavant – It was a miracle that this quirky show (A medieval musical comedy?!?) made it to a second season, but it did.  And that second season was wonderful, even better than the first.  Unfortunately, very few people were watching.  There’s been a push on Twitter for more Galavant, and William Shatner, Mark Hamill, and David Prowse (Darth Vader himself) have all expressed that they are fans of the series.  I cannot imagine that anything will come of it, though.  ABC is not changing its mind.  I have also heard talk of a stage version.  Now that I could see working.

On top of those cancellations, there were a couple of other pieces of news last week (and earlier in one case) that may not bode well for the future of shows that I watch.

First, several months ago, CBS shifted Elementary from Thursday nights to Sunday nights.  Based on past seasons and the wisdom of the TV Grim Reaper on Twitter, Sunday is where CBS sends aging shows to die.  This year’s victim from that night was The Good WifeElementary’s ratings are not spectacular…or even good, so I was actually surprised that it was renewed for a fifth season, where it will remain on Sunday nights.  It could conceivably go on a few more years there, but I would not be at all surprised if next season ended up being its last.

Next up is a situation that I discussed in THIS POSTSupergirl is indeed moving from CBS to The CW, and production of the series will be shifting to Vancouver, where the other three shows in The CW’s superhero stable, The Flash, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, are filmed.  As far as the show’s longevity is concern, this should be a positive move.  The CW’s ratings requirements are MUCH lower than CBS, and Supergirl will be one of the highest profile shows on the network.  Additionally, as The CW discussed at their upfront, this means that Supergirl can crossover with the other three DC universe shows.  This past season’s visit by The Flash to Supergirl was lots of fun, and I would love to see the rest of Team Flash get to meet Kara as well.  Still, I do worry about what the show will look like next season with what I have to assume will be a greatly reduced budget.  In most episodes of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the writer’s find a way to avoid having to show Firestorm, presumably due to the cost of putting him onscreen.  Going by that example, Supergirl may find herself being far less super. 

Finally, ABC announced that they are not going forward with Marvel’s Most Wanted, a series that was intended as a spinoff of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  Additionally, SHIELD is moving to 10PM Eastern on Tuesday nights.  ABC has not had a lot of luck with that timeslot over the last few seasons.  Rather than sending another new show there to fail, ABC is going to go with an established series that has an audience that will follow it.  At least that’s one way to look at it.  However, any younger viewers of SHIELD (And yes there are some.  My daughter is a big fan.) will not be able to watch it live, and, despite what networks may want you to believe, timeshifted airings via DVR just don’t matter to advertisers.  SHIELD will be going into its fourth season, so the syndication count of episodes will be met by next May.  ABC may be planning to end the show.  Of course, since Marvel and ABC are owned by Disney, SHIELD could survive indefinitely.  I doubt it, though.  Despite, ABC’s talk at the upfront about projects in the works with Marvel, I think SHIELD’s days are numbered.

I know I’ve focused on shows that I watch, but if you’re curious about the full scope of the cancellation carnage, I would direct your attention to THIS LIST

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Lyric Analysis: The Police and 'Every Breath You Take'

"Every Breath You Take"
The Police

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break

Well the rhyme scheme is a bit on the nose but thus far things seem romantic. This appears to be a kind of all-consuming ode to new love. Sweet.

Every step you take
I'll be watching you.

Oh. Huh.

Every single day

Every single day he’ll be... watching? That’s the takeaway here, right? Based off the previous line? So we’re to infer that all 365 days of the year he’ll be watching this lover of his. That’s... a lot.

Every word you say

Even the ones spoken in private or on the phone to people who are not you, Sting? Or words mumbled in sleep? EVERY WORD?

Every game you play

Even Monopoly? Because playing that can get boring, I have to be honest, so I can’t even imagine it as a spectator sport.

Every night you stay
I'll be watching you.

This song was romantic for about two lines and quickly went off the rails into what I like to call Jorah Mormont territory. That’s a Game of Thrones reference, mom. Too niche? Alright, Edward Cullen territory. Nothing? Okay: stalker. It’s a song written by a stalker. Like the kind of man who shows up in Meereen with greyscale despite you previously having banished him for kissing you without consent and, you know, spying on you for Kings Landing and who still pouts about the friend zone (which, men, is not a thing). Or the kind of undead man who shows up in your bedroom every night just to stand in the corner like a sparkly brooding shadow to watch you sleep. Those are not romantic gestures, they are stalker activities.

Oh can't you see
You belong to me?

Oh can’t YOU see / you’re actually quite creepy?

How my poor heart aches with every step you take.

Typical. I mean let’s just all focus on how much his heart aches, right? Sting, come on, this isn’t cool. I DGAF how your heart feels when you’re literally listening to every word I say every single day and watching me every night. MY HEART FEELS PRETTY CONSTRAINED THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake

Just to be sure all ground is covered, lest you think there’s somewhere he won’t be watching you, he will also watch you while you’re re-living the gold rush and staking your claim on hitting a rich vein. He is thorough.

I'll be watching you.

Maybe he’s a casino owner? I learned from Terry Benedict in Ocean’s Eleven that somebody is always watching in his casinos.

Since you've gone I've been lost without a trace.

Without A Trace was a CBS procedural about the Missing Persons Bureau of the FBI in New York City (that’s a redundant statement since every procedural takes place in NYC, even the ones that don’t: fact) that starred Anthony LaPaglia. It started airing in 2002 so I have to wonder, did they take their name from this song? The Police did win a lot of awards for this song, it was the biggest hit of 1983, and is widely considered their signature song.

I dream at night, I can only see your face.
I look around but it's you I can't replace.

‘Face’ and ‘replace’ do rhyme but that’s an awkward line, no? There had to be other options. “I look around but you took off at quite a pace” ... “I look around and realize you need your space” .... “I look around and recall the scent of your mace”.... I don’t know, I’m just spitballing.

I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby, please...

Dry your eyes, O Stalker. You have the thousands of photos you doubtless took of her sleeping to comfort you. And probably stolen items of clothing. But that will have to be it. It’s time to let go. In the immortal words of Adele Dazeem, “let it go”.

Oh can't you see
You belong to me?

Possessive much?

How my poor heart aches with every step you take.

Remember the 'Step By Step' analysis? That one had stalker-esque overtones, if you recall. But that song sounds like an anthem of independence compared to this.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake

Insincerity is the least of your problems here, methinks.

Every claim you stake
I'll be watching you.

Every move you make
Every step you take
I'll be watching you...

I'll be watching you

How did The Police fall so far into erroneous romantic overtures in the scant five years between 1978’s relative liberation anthem 'Roxanne' and this stalker manifesto? It’s one of the enduring mysteries of our time.

- Corinne Simpson

 

Nathan's Laserium: Good Movie!

I went and saw Captain America: Civil War. So did you! We liked it! Good movie, right?

Ahh.

So good.

Kind of makes you wanna, like, write about it or something. Like about maybe how, um, you know, something a little deeper, a little more insightful than “That airport fight scene was so awesome!!!”

Oh, I know! Point out the differences and the similarities between the movie and the comic.

Mm. Nah. Been done. Comics and movies are different. This is known. Who cares.

We could talk about, like, the political landscape and how Civil War speaks to the way in which people who are on the same side are griping and sniping and fighting each other.

Oh, you read that already? Twice? Oh, NPR and Vice both did something along those lines. Ok.

Well, like, that airport fight was pretty awesome. Especially when SPOILER! Shutthefuckupawready! Why everybody gotta spoil shit alla time anyway.

Black Panther was cool, right? I hear he’s getting a movie.

I love Black Widow. She kicks so much ass. She’s still not getting a movie. Come on, Marvel. At least we have Agent Carter.

Oh wait.

Alright. Well, I don’t know what to write. What’s the point, even. We all saw it. Most of us loved it. Most of us will see the next one.

Guess I’ll just stand by my tweet I wrote after I saw it, kind of says all I need to say:

Good Movie!

- Nathan Waddell