Monday, April 20, 2009

Taking a little break...

Work and various other zany facets of my life have conspired to steal time...and yes, my soul...recently, and so The Park Bench is going on hiatus for a wee bit. I'll be back on Monday, May 4 with new nerdy nuggets and general incoherence to share.

In the meantime, don't forget:

* Watch "Castle." It'll never win an Emmy for awesome mystery writing but it's getting better and better each week. And funnier. Oh, and Nathan's getting more adorable AS IF THAT WAS EVEN POSSIBLE! (Apparently it is.)

* The "Caprica" pilot DVD comes out tomorrow (Tuesday). It's in my Netflix queue and I'm eager to check it out. You should be too!

Have a wonderful couple of weeks!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Talking about "Planet of the Dead" in a non-spoilery way

The Doctor in shades? So hot it gives the desert an inferiority complex.

Last night, I fired up the ol' computer and watched the latest Doctor Who special, "Planet of the Dead." And you know what? It was really good! Much better than "The Next Doctor" Christmas special.

David Tennant who recently described "Planet of the Dead" as the last time the Doctor gets to have a good time before everything turns much darker as we lead up to Ten's regeneration. And there's plenty of fun to be had in "Planet of the Dead" -- creepy monsters, giant insect headed people, stuff that gets blowed up, historical thefts and yes, Tennant in sexy sunglasses.

Written by Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts, "Planet" is a little thin on plot -- basically a bus disappears and it's up to the Doctor to bring it back to safety -- but it's fast-paced, lean and kinda charming. Tennant and Michelle Ryan, who plays Lady Christina, this episode's ostensible companion, share a nice chemistry although I found myself constantly distracted by the fact that Williams bears a striking resemblance to a taller, less mouth-breathy Selma Blair.

As much as I enjoyed this episode, though, I find myself really missing the relationship between the Doctor and an ongoing companion. I never realized how much I liked watching those friendships and/or doomed romances grow and seeing the Doctor's travels through another character's eyes. We don't really get that perspective with these constantly revolving companions and there aren't any of those special character moments that stick with you well after the story ends. If rumors hold true, this shouldn't be a problem in Tennant's last two episodes so I'm happy to just enjoy these last few fun moments before all hell starts to break loose and I have to start stockpiling Kleenex.

Also -- and I hate to bring this up because it really isn't a complaint -- but these specials are making it easier for me to accept the impending Tennant departure. In part, I think it's because the Doctor seems so unmoored in these companion-less episodes which I think perhaps is impacting Tennant's performances. He just doesn't seem as...well...perky. I'm not saying he's going through the motions but I do think he works best when he's got someone else to bounce off and build a rapport with. Tennant with Billie Piper or Tennant with Catherine Tate has a certain energy that seems lacking when he's going solo. This is likely just a writing thing or a character thing and nothing to do with Tennant but it's something that really struck me in "The Next Doctor" and now in "Planet of the Dead."

Overall, though, "Planet of the Dead" was quite a nice Easter treat -- even better than a basket of Peeps!

And to tide you over until November, here's the preview for the next special, "Waters of Mars."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

At least they don't have to pay their designer...unless he also built a time machine

Have you seen the previews for Discovery Channel's new show, "Doing DaVinci?" I'm totally intrigued by this and actually find myself wondering why it hasn't been done before? (Or has it and I just don't know?) The show seems to owe a bit to "Mythbusters" in that it's got a bunch of handy guys building cool things, but the twist with this one is that it's a bunch of handy guys building cool things designed by Leonardo DaVinci...using tools and materials from DaVinci's time. According to the Discovery Channel web site, the team's going to tackle the following projects: an armored tank, a siege ladde, a scythe chariot and a 15th-century multi-cannon machine gun.

If the damn site would let me embed video, I'd have some cool clips to show you but alas, you'll just have to take my word for it...or travel all the way over to their web site and watch them there.

"Doing DaVinci" -- which would be a promisingly dirty title over on MTV -- airs at 10 p.m. on Monday, April 13. I'm setting my DVR now!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It's not just love, it's an illness

As someone deeply, truly and yes, perhaps inappropriately in love with my iTouch, I can relate to these "iPhone Terms of Agreement" by Nerd World's Matt Selman:

1) I agree that whenever I have my iPhone on my person, I will never be fully mentally present. If I am at work, I will be thinking about my iPhone. If I am with my wife, I will be thinking about my iPhone. If I am awake and near my iPhone, I will be thinking about my iPhone.

2) I agree that I will not check my email ten times a day on the computer. I will check my email 10,000 times a day on my iPhone.

3) I agree that I will let my kids take endless blurry photos of the dog with the iPhone camera. At work, I will painstakingly erase these photos instead of working.

4) I agree that I will immediately shut off the AT&T 3G network, as it is still slow as Hell and drains the batteries fast as Hell and doesn't really seem much faster.

5) I agree I will never use any of the apps I install – except “LOSE IT!” –which I will enter my daily food intake with the obsessiveness of a lifelong anorexic.

6) I agree I will not feel jealousy as I watch my friends with Blackberries write email and text in actual typing speed, instead of super-slow and careful typo-ridden iPhone speed.

7) I agree I will not install any game apps on my iPhone. Seriously, that would be the end of me. Seriously.

8 ) I agree I will not enter my “Lose It!” information while driving. Or at least, I will look around to make sure no cops are looking while I input "tangerine - medium - 50 calories."

9) I agree I will stop telling my wife, “No, really – this thing is better than Star Trek! Could Spock go jogging and then go online and see his exact route around the neighborhood with how fast he was going? Could he? Could Spock do that???”

10) I agree to stroke the thick, heavy, magic-seeming, temperature-cool glass surface of the touch screen with a sensuality I have never bestowed upon a human being.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Things are looking good for new Star Trek movie...

With a surprise screening in Austin, Texas the other night and the world premiere in Sydney, Australia, the world -- or at least the worlds in Texas and Australia (so basically people who grill meat well) -- is all a-twitter over the upcoming "Star Trek" film. I have to say, I was excited about the movie before these early reviews came out, but now I'm positively giddy.

Cinema Blend says: "The new Star Trek movie is amazing -- easily the best Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan, and a veritable feast of sight and sound."

On Ain't It Cool News, someone called The Gastonian says:

I was genuinely involved from beginning to end. The dynamic between Kirk, Spock, McCoy and company was captured in spades. And that is what JJ Abrams does so well. He creates extremely complex and interesting characters set against an often fantastical backdrop. What's even more impressive is that he didn't create these characters. He took characters that had already been well established within Trek cannon and gave them a fresh perspective.

As for the acting - Kudos all around. But the standout for me was Zachary Quinto. This came as a surprise since I truly loathe his character Sylar on Heroes. I always thought he looked the part but I wasn't sure he could pull off walking the fine line between logic and emotion that Nimoy did so well. But he did, and I salute him.

Other random observations: Anton Yelchin's Chekov was hilarious. Eric Bana's Nero seemed genuinely pissed during the entire film (which I found particularly refreshing given that the last Star Trek villain was a pouty little bitch) Winona Ryder's Amanda Grayson was surprisingly moving given that she had such a small role. Simon Pegg, also hilarious.

Are you looking forward to the Star Trek reboot? Are you as afraid of Zachary Quinto's eyebrows as I am? Are you hoping that zombies will have followed Simon Pegg into space? Hoping Winona Ryder will steal a Tribble? The possibilities with this movie are limitless!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Doctor Who "Planet of the Dead" trailer

Nothing says Doctor Who Easter Special like sand, crashed buses and flying carnivores! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Odds and Ends: Obama and "BSG," more "Star Trek," and GA distracts self with Eccy's waggly ears and more "Star Trek"

+ I loved this Onion article, "Obama Depressed, Distant Since 'Battlestar Galactica' Series Finale." Is it wrong that I'd kind of like this to be true?

+ Gillian Anderson will attempt to forget the horror that was "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" by starring alongside "Doctor Who"'s Christopher Eccleston in a production of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" from May through July in London. BTW, this version ends with Nora and Neil waving to the audience from a row boat floating in a puddle across the street. (That's for those of you who sat through the end of "I Want to Believe" credits.)

+ Rumors are flying that a sequel to the upcoming J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" flick is already in the works. On a related note, Shatner is preparing to be shocked at his lack of inclusion...again.

+ The year 2011 was looking to be kind of dull until I read this: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are preparing another film, the third in their so-called "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy after "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz." I'm going to buy a 2011 calendar just to pencil this in.

+ Robert Downey Jr. (Le Rowr) talks about his upcoming "Sherlock Holmes" flick. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this...and not just because of the impending Downey pecs. Okay...maybe a little bit because of the pecs.