The Bound God

My wife and I are big fans of the Starz original series, Black Sails. She's never read Treasure Island nor played Assassin's Creed: Black Flag (which we'll count as research for purposes of this show ;) ), so it's all new to her. But seeing Flint, Silver, and Billy Bones all together is wicked exciting. In addition to piratey goodness, the show has an amazing intro.

It's not just the music, even though the music is perfect. It's the iconography. I watch that and I see the story it's trying to tell, but in my mind, it's an entirely different story. It's my story. 

 

0:20 Aditi, mother of the gods
0:22 Lakshmi, Aditi's 1st granddaughter, plays the song of fate for prophets to decipher
0:24 Govinda, Aditi's 1st grandson, shepherd of the demi-gods and anointer of champions
0:38 Sumati, Aditi's 2nd granddaughter, patron of scientists and intellectuals
0:42 Mani, Aditi's 2nd grandson, patron of artists and lovers
0:46 Durga, Aditi's daughter, ruler of the Overworld
0:51 Dipaka, Bhima's son with a mortal, a warlord
0:52 Jaya, Aditi's son with a mortal, an adventure
0:55 Savitr, Sumati's son with a mortal, a politician
0:59 Bhima, Aditi's son, ruler of the Underworld
1:06 Mehesha, Devaraja's son with a mortal, a general
1:12 Lakshmana, Mani's son with a mortal, a prince

 

Here's the breakdown as it came to me after watching that intro a few times. Bhima falls in love with his sister, Durga. When she refuses to reciprocate, he kidnaps her and submerges her to the Underworld. Devaraja (not featured in the Black Sails intro) forbids the match. Enraged, Bhima kills his father. Mahesha rallies the forces of the world and captures Bhima, binding him so he can never escape.

 

Years later, without the Father or her children, Aditi falls into an endless slumber and the world begins to fall to ruin. Savitr, thinking Aditi will wake if the world is again threatened by her children, reveals to Dipaka the location of his father's prison. Dipaka attempts to free Bhima, and in so doing the dead begin to walk the earth. It falls to Jaya to stop him before the Overworld is dragged under and Bhima rules over a new land of the dead.
 

MY Battlestar Galactica

Like most geeks, I hopped on board the 2004 Battlestar Galactica sensation. Like fewer, I was still a stalwart fan of the original series. And perhaps on my own, I still prefer the original to the reboot. The original series was what it was and it did what it was very well. The reboot showed a whole bunch of promise early on and then puttered out before limping to a conclusion. I only made it a few episodes into season three and while I've tried repeatedly to finish the series--starting at the beginning, starting at season three, choosing those episodes people tell me are the best--it never holds my interest. It had great potential but that isn't enough, in my opinion.

Today I was rewatching some episodes of the original series while I worked and a thought popped into my head. In the original series, the cylons were not the folly of man but of a reptilian race that had died out and the cylons were now their own expansionistic empire, a more classic invading "other" like the Mongols. In the new series, the whole "sins of the father" premise features  heavily in the seasons I watched. I really liked that notion. It was one of the things that really drew me in early on. But at the same time, the longer the series went, the more the cylons came across as whiny (until the story diverged with the skinjobs and things go weird.)

A trip to Wikipedia to see the rest of the series that I never watched reveals that Earth was populated by a different cylon race thousands of years before that had created their own cylon servant class and the resulting war wiped out the planet. WTF? Man is destined to create cylons? Is that the theme we're going for here? Because how do planets separated by so much distance suffer the same fate?

This kind of bums me out because the purpose of this post began as my own notion of how I would do BSG, which now is too similar to the reboot to be worthwhile to pursue as fan fiction. In my version, the cylons are still the invading other, but they weren't created by a reptilian species, they were created by humans on Earth. Rather than Earth being the 13th colony, it is the origin of the human species and the 12 colonies are just that, 12 colonies. Through the confusion of time, Earth has become a lost colony rather than a homeworld and when the cylons discover and attack the humans, the refugees flee to the lost colony. But when they get there, they discover that it is the origin of not only their species, but of the cylons as well.

Because the reboot did something similar, I don't know if I'd have Earth be wiped out in the resultant war or maybe it would be the cylon homeworld. I won't develop it any further than this post, I think. I love BSG, and I love the potential of the world (fiction-wise) that it's created. I'd love to tell stories there, in my own way. Neither series fully realizes the setting as I'd like to see it. But as soon as you start talking about the final five, I will stop listening because I really don't care. Even so, how earth plays into the setting could be interesting. (Certainly better than a cast off of cylon vs cylon apocalypse or arriving at a planet in the early '80s and knowing all the customs and how to ride a motorcycle.)

First Paragraph for One of the Good Days

I've been bumbling around a concept for a few weeks and while I was watching "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" (which you should totally watch, because it's awesome), a few lines popped into my head and I figured I should write them down before I go to bed. So here they are:

 

Victoria wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. That's one of the problems with living so long, things don't last. They age. They whither. They get dirty. And the pricks at city hall throw you a rag and tell you to clean things up, but the rag they gave you is just as dirty. Victoria was the love of my life, but this city's gone to shit, and I don't think I can love her like I used to.

John Leguizamo's Ghetto Klown

I just finished watching John Leguizamo's HBO special, Ghetto Klown. It's pretty awesome, especially if you like auto-biographies. What I liked most was his characterization of his father. Well, I liked a lot of it, but what I found most inspiration from a creative sense was his characterization of his grandfather. A Colombian communist who continues to prepare for the revolution through his elderly years. He's not actually being a communist revolutionary. He's just living in Queens, but that's always his agenda. He has to get ready.

And I LOVED it! I want that character in a story. I want a character who is wholly committed to a revolution that is never going to come, but is harmless enough that everyone lets him continue to be what he is. I want the old man who doesn't have time for the main character's shenanigans. He has to get ready for the revolution!

And then, five books in when the series is about to come to an end, everything that's been built up and won and accomplished by all the characters you've come to love will get wiped off the map when the revolution comes and the old guy was right the entire time. Because I'm an asshole like that. ;)

The Right Ingredients

Have you watched the 10th Anniversary Firefly Panel from ComicCon yet? If not, we'll wait for you.



That hour was well spent, yes? I watched it again while you were watching it. It was time well spent, I think. (Granted, I'm a hardcore Firefly fan.) There's one scene in particular that struck me as amazing, and I wanted to talk about it here.

In established media like film and television, it's hard to know how much we as fans learn about the show, the cast, etc is real and how much of it is spin. You can take it on face value. You might see them in person and think, yeah that seems real. Or you might wonder if the actors are still acting. They can do that, you know. Act. It's what they do for a living.

I bring this up because the family-like nature of the cast of Firefly is well documented and the pessimist inside me has always wondered just how true that was. You see it in special features, but that's just a glimpse and a glimpse can be misleading. The moderator of the panel actually mentioned that, and that's how we got to the coolest story about the "business" side of this that I think I've heard. (Business being the craft of making a television show and not the story they're telling.)

It's a natural segregation that actors spend their time with other actors and crew spend their time with other crew. They have the most in common. It's natural that they would divide themselves as such. But that can create a division that inhibits the overall goal of everyone to create the best possible product. So Nathan Fillion (who is always credited for fostering the family-like nature of the show) walks up to a group of other actors early on in filming. He says "This is a contest. The person who can name the most people's name is the winner. That's Brian, Tom, Tim, and Frank. I'm winning." And just like that, rather than people forming into small groups, everyone made the effort to know everyone else. Even if it began as a manufactured competition, it ended with a group of people that knew each other and made an amazing product.

Having experienced live performance first-hand, I cannot stress how large an impact the attitudes of everyone involved has on the final product. One bad seed can turn something magical into something miserable. And, as Nathan demonstrates, the opposite is true as well. More than ever I love the Firefly crew and cast. My respect for Nathan as a professional is through the roof. And as soon as all my books make me JK Rawling rich, I'll take steps to reward these people. They've earned it.

Until then, watch the video. Watch Firefly if you haven't done so in awhile. If you want an awesome lesson in writing craft, listen to the director's commentary for Out of Gas. Tim Minear did some amazing things with that story.


Completely unrelated to this, if you haven't watched Thomas Jane's fan-made short for The Punisher, check it out.

Knight Rider Revisited

So I've got some pretty awesome opportunities going on right now, of which I will not speak lest I jinx them. I will say that it involves rewriting two different manuscripts, which may seem horrible to the uninitiated but is really flipping awesome. I'm in serious crunch time right now and will be for a few months. If ever there was a time not to suck, this would be it.

The trick is, when I'm not writing on the official stuff, my brain keeps creating. Lately, it has been falling back on that Knight Rider post I did awhile back. I have since rewatched the pilot of the original series (and thus answered why he was called Michael Knight, something I knew as a child that but forgot as an adult). If you've never seen the original Knight Rider, you haven't missed much. It was an '80s show that is very much an '80s show. It did not endure the test of time.

The thing is, it was iconic for its time and impressionable to a young boy. Even if you haven't seen it, you've probably seen KITT, the black Trans-Am (from the original series) / Shelby GT500 (from the 2008 failed series) with the red light that flashes back and forth like a Cylon.

The 2008 show smacked of formula and made classic sci-fi mistakes that someone that doesn't normally read/write the genre would make. Specifically, the artificial intelligence of KITT and the abilities of the car were too powerful too quickly. The super-computer that can hack building security systems to watch through cameras, that can change the appearance of the car, etc etc. Put that all in the beginning and where do you have to go to challenge your protagonists? That's not power creep, that's a power skyrocket.

They did a few things right, tossed up the "man and his car" dynamic with another character. They better played the outlaw status (of course, with a lame FBI agent). Of course, they screwed up the whole two people and their car dynamic with the surly jock guy driver and daddy's-girl love-hate romance thing that was never very romantic and never actually developed their characters beyond being whiny. I really don't like the cocky jock hero. That was the biggest barrier for me to getting into Farscape. Crichton really rubbed me wrong.

ANYWAY, so me being me, I think I can do it better. ALSO, my mind is in super-duper creative mode, and while I do not have time to write fan fiction, I do have a blog where I can tickle my fancy for the time being. So settle in for a more of Joseph L. Selby's Knight Rider (2012).


Major Michael Long (Idris Elba) is a decorated Army special forces/airborne ranger detached to Knight Industries as a test driver and military consultant as part of the KITT development program under contract by the Department of Defense. As an operator of the KITT platform (a hummer in its first iteration), his call sign is White Knight. Once the team goes independent, his call sign changes to Black Knight. I'm not sure how this will play, what with television race politics, but mostly it has to do with the car, going to the black car (of indeterminate make--I don't feel compelled to adhere to the original Trans Am; there's advertising money to be made here, so do what's best for the show's budget).

Wilton Knight (William Daniels) is the founder of Knight Industries, one of the country's leading arms manufacturers. In his old age, he's focusing on saving lives rather than taking them, working on technology to save soldiers' lives rather than take them. The company is going in the opposite direction. He considers the KITT program to be his final legacy. He is assassinated when the technology is stolen.

Eleanor Knight (China Chow) is Wilton's only child and director of Knight Industries' fastest-growing division. She oversees contracting with the CIA and military. Her relationship with her father is strained. She does not share his vision of the future of the company. She has a worse relationship with Michael, who has a poor opinion of contractors and the contracting industry.

Yi Bo (Jerry Shea) is the team's linguist and computer programmer. He works on integrating voice command and voice actuation software with Vik's prototype KITT design. He and Vik do not get along. He think's Vik is immature and doesn't like his practical jokes (such as Vik installing a Cylon voice as the default program voice). He is also a Chinese spy. He tries to steal the KITT technology, but doesn't know Vik is working in a secret partition. The version of the software he steals is obsolete and non-functional. He pursues the team, trying to finish his original assignment.

Vik Singh (Vik Sahay) is the team's computer intelligence designer. He is the geek's geek. All your nerd humor has an easy access point here. Relax on the cliches, though. Yes he's single, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to act around women. He just finds computers more interesting. He's an overprotective father obsessing over his greatest creation, which gets in the way of life. This obsession is what prevents Bo from getting a complete version of KITT and what saves Navi's life.

Anand Patel (Sachin Bhatt) is the chief engineer responsible for integrating the KITT systems into military transports. He is inadvertently killed when Bo steals the software.

Navi Patel (Navi Rawat) is Anand's wife and partner. She specializes in advanced combustion engines and propulsion systems. She is wounded but not killed during Bo's theft. She takes the KITT software from Vik as they escape the burning warehouse. She installs it in the care that becomes the show's KITT-mobile. She is responsible for the upkeep and performance of the car, making any mechanical improvements. (Ejector seats! You remember this? David Hasselhoff flying up on top of a 20-foot wall and jumping down the other side and landing without bending at the knees. Oh '80s, you so crazy.)

Knight Industries Turing Transport / KITT (Zachary Levi) It's inevitable that KITT will eventually have a voice. In its first appearance, KITT is a white hummer. The red light is installed only as a point of reference for test-course observation. Vik originally installs a Cylon voice (as much for me as the classic nerd shout out). Eventually the computer creates its own voice as its begins to display genuine artificial intelligence. This is a feature that allows the car to evolve over the course of the show and adds an air of unpredictability, as these commands are not being programmed by the team.

Special Agent Connor "CC" Campbell (Tahmoh Penikett) is a retired Marine lieutenant and current field officer in the Washington, DC, bureau. He has a stellar track record and an investigative mind. He is assigned to retrieve the KITT technology and apprehend the criminals responsible for the espionage. He's not so single minded as to be oblivious to the clues that show a more complicated conspiracy, but he's also not so morally gray to overlook that the KITT team ran instead of coming to the authorities.

Supervising Agent Glen Larson (Richard Schiff) is Agent Campbell's direct supervisor. He may be corrupt but there's no evidence and he makes no direct overtures that suggest one way or the other. He takes an active role in the investigation, making sure to remain informed in all matters.

Probationary Agent Francis Elliott (Fran Kranz) is a young but genius computer expert that Agent Campbell recruits to aid in his pursuit. Where Campbell does the field work, Francis tracks the group digitally, trying to target the various GPS and network connectivity made by the KITT software.

Zhang Li (Bruce Locke) is Bo's handler and leader of the espionage group trying to steal the KITT technology. He is also the Chinese representative at the United Nations and has diplomatic immunity. Agent Campbell wants to have the State Department expel him, but Agent Larson insists the evidence isn't convincing. He wants a more solid case before they approach the State Department so they don't tip their hand.

In season 2, Army CID gets tired of waiting for the FBI to crack the case and this introduces new characters that I have not cast here.

Now, there are a few racial topics to discuss. First, the entire "Knight Rider" team is non-white. This is intentional. One of the reasons I enjoy British television is that the racial politics aren't so obvious. The need to include or exclude an actor because of gender and ethnicity tires me. Idris Elba was the best character in Thor despite the uproar of his skin color. And he's proven he can carry the lead in Luther, which is a super awesome show that needs more episodes. I admit that China Chang has looked "less" Asian in some of her roles, and while it's horrible that's even a consideration, some network asshole will bring up the lack of white leads, so screw that guy. Take this middle ground. Navi Rawat has years of exposure on Numb3rs and other shows and Vik Sahay was a comic genius on Chuck, so hopefully the lack of white in the team won't be an issue and this will usher in an enlightened age in American TV where the color of the character doesn't matter.

Likewise the villains are Chinese. This is also intentional. Rather than having a chase-and-run scenario between the team and the feds, the fact that the team isn't in the wrong makes that chase unsustainable unless there's a third party complicating things. This is classic Scarecrow and Mrs. King espionage and we're using China instead of the Soviet Union. So anyone wanting to say that it's unfair that the Asian (non-Indian) actors are all villains needs to show me where they were complaining that Russians were always the villains in the '80s.

Which brings us to the Feds. Yes the white people are chasing the non-white people and no that wasn't intentional. It's a mix of TV race politics and a genuine desire to cast those actors in those roles. Tell me Fran Kranz wasn't the best part of the Dollhouse and you'd be lying. Who doesn't want more Richard Schiff? He's always awesome and giving him a possibly corrupt character to play just sounds like a lot of fun. So when the same network prick above asks where the white people are to play to middle America (that's what they call racists), we point to the good guys. Look! The law-abiding characters are white. Shut up and sit down. Let's tell an awesome action/espionage/adventure story with Idris Elba being awesome.

The Original Tubes

Sometimes it feels like I watch a lot of TV. I grew up watching a LOT of television. I was a living TV Guide. But I got tired of it and stopped watching for years. We don't have cable in my house. We stream what we want to watch. Castle, Legend of Korra, Psych, White Collar. Mostly I watch a lot of reruns of my favorite shows. Netflix doesn't have as many shows (that I like) that it did a couple years ago, but their "NEW EPISODES" tag is a huge help. I found out yesterday that there are new episodes of Flashpoint. So let me tell you about the new hotness and the old hotness that's going on right now on the boob toob (what came before the intertoobs).

Have you heard of Avatar: The Last Airbender? No, not the shitty live-action M. Night crapfest, but the animated show that it was based on. It was on Nickelodeon and is an amazing, AMAZING show. Especially season 2. It's all on Netflix, so you should watch it. If you're not blown away by "Stories of Bah Sing Sei" then you have no heart! Anyway, the sequel (next chapter?) to the show, The Legend of Korra is airing right now and Nickelodeon's website right now. It is AMAZING! It is just similar enough and just different enough to be the perfect next chapter. And it's got a style of animation that I really enjoy. (seen Triples of Belleville?) Oh and the music! The music is one of the best parts! If I wrote fanfiction, I would love to write in this world. The bending "magic" system is expertly crafted. This is a show great for adults and kids.

So that's the new hotness. The old hotness (not old and busted) is Flashpoint. Unlike the two above, it's okay if you haven't heard of this one. It was a summer debut on CBS that limped along for a few seasons. BUT it stars Keith Mars. Obviously the actor's name isn't Keith Mars, but if you watched the show Veronica Mars (which used to be on Netflix but is no longer), you know Enrico Colantoni played one of the most awesome dads ever (he was also the lead alien in GALAXY QUEST). This is his new show, a cop drama set in Canada where the SWAT team is trained in negotiation tactics so they don't just run around and kill people like how we do it in the states. It started weak, so I never gave it much of a chance. I was really ill and needed something to fill the time and gave this a second chance and about episode 7 of the first season, the writing finally finds its footing. The rest of season 1 and all of season 2 are amazing! You'll cry after every episode. EVERY EPISODE! Season 3 is kind of weak, but it's last half-season, season 4, found the magic again.

BUT WAIT! Netflix threw up a "new episodes" tag and sure enough, there's the rest of season 4! Turns out it was picked up by a cable network to finish season 4 and create a season 5. Woo hoo! Keith Mars to the rescue!

(You won't meat him until season 4, but Raf is my favorite character.)

What do you like to watch?