Dr. Horribles Sing along Blog: Samurai Gunslinger Video Review

Ok, lets start this off by saying I am not a huge fan of musicals. I was not even that much of a fan of “Once More with Feeling” the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was the origion of the idea for Dr. Horribles Sing along Blog.  However after hearing glowing review after glowing review on so many podcasts about this straight to the internet production I had to give it a try.

Im trying not to feel somewhat metrosexual by saying this, but damn I loved it! The songs are strangely catchy and I warn anyone that if you watch all three episodes you will very likley end up singing them in the car and in the shower despite all of your best efforts. The show follows the efforts of Dr. Horrible, played brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris to simultaneously gain entrance to the evil league of evil as well as win the heart of his lady love Penny ( played with adorable sweetness by Felica Day). Complicating his efforts at every turn in the overbearing and annoyingly self absorbed super hero Captain Hammer ( portrayed with gleeful exuberance by Nathan Fillian of Firefly/Serenity fame).

The story is really enjoyable and you can not help but identify with Dr. Horrible who is really just a lonley geek who wants the world to change. It’s not his fault if he feels that change should begin with him ruling the world right? That really gives you the idea of the kind of humor that pervades the series of three 15 minute webisodes. There are too many wonderful moments to list and I do not want to spoil anything other than to say that Bad Horse is the coolest supervillan leader ever!

If you have any love for comics, Joss Whedon, or musicals or any combination of the three then you owe it to yourself to check out Dr Horribles Sing along Blog. At the moment it is available only on iTunes but it will be released in September on DVD as well.

Don’t say I did not warn you though, these songs will get stuck in your head!

Samurai Gunslinger Video Podcast Review: Totaly Rad Show

Title: Totally Rad Show

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Genre: Video Variety and Review Podcast

Website: Totally Rad Show

Producer: Revison 3

Cast;Alex Albrecht, Dan Trachtenberg, Jeff Cannata

Description: Video Podcast focusing on Film, TV and Video Game Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5 4-bullets1.jpg

Review:

The Totally Rad Show is perhaps the most heavily produced and well supported variety videocast currently available. With the full backing of the Revision3 machine the show has the advantage of a significant budget for equipment, effects and net presence. This means that the show, while still a podcast, has a higher level of expectations to meet that your average show shot in mom’s garage with an hand held camera.

The show begins every week with a slick green screen sequence featuring a different version of the show logo every week. The changing backgrounds are always submitted by fans and range in quality from interesting to flat out amazing. This creates one of the many connections with their fan base that makes the show special.

The format of the show is simple, with each episode dividend into three or four main sections each broken up with a short comedy skit or informal bonus review or discussion. The show focuses on Movie, TV, and Video Game reviews and occasionally adds Comic Books to the mix. Each section will feature a review of one or more recent releases in the appropriate category with each host taking their turn to give their take. The hosts are very good at allowing each other to present their full view without interruption or argument even when they are obviously in deep disagreement. This leads to some interesting and spirited debates without allowing the show to dissolve into a shouting match.

The three hosts are all young and personable but not professional Journalists. This gives the show a sometimes amateurish quality that contrasts with the above average production quality on occasion. I personally find this charming, and enjoy the informal format of the discussions but it has made some of the people I have tried to introduce to the show turn off quickly saying that it’s ‘just a podcast’. It is difficult to tell sometimes if this is something the hosts are actually shooting for, but it is an impression that I feel limits it’s audience.

Within those limitations, however, the show can be very entertaining as well as informative. The hosts obviously like each other, yet are more than willing to go head to head over disagreements on the things they review. The reviews themselves are deep and insightful with multiple points of view considered. In many cases I find myself strongly disagreeing with the review at first one or two only to have the third host say exactly what I was thinking. It is this wide scope of views and opinions that makes this show such an excellent resource for making decisions on geek culture.

Of all the video podcasts that I watch regularly, TRS is the one I most look forward to every week. I am always looking forward to see what the guys will say about my favorite game or movie and even if I think they are all idiots for disagreeing with me, I still enjoy hearing their takes. Personally I can not recommend the show highly enough, however as an objective reviewer I do have to give the caveat that people not used to this style may find themselves tuning out during the antics and geek culture in jokes that abound through the show. If you are already a regular viewer of video podcasts then you are probably just the kind of person who will love TRS. If you are looking for a show to introduce you to the format, TRS may be the perfect choice but only if you consider yourself to be something of a Geek yourself.

Of course, as the guys themselves say in a recent episode. It’s cool to be a geek. If you believe this as well, then you should definitely give TRS a look. If you are anything like me, you will find yourself becoming a fan before you know it.

Video Review: Star Trek New Voyages: Word Enough and Time

Title: Star Trek New Voyages: World Enough and Time

Genre: Fan Film, Internet Video

Episode: Star Trek: New Voyages, World Enough and Time

Website: Star Trek: New Voyages

Director: Mark Scott Zicree

Cast; George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney, Majel Barret Rodenberry, James Cawley, Jeffry Quinn, Andy Bray, Christina Moses, Lia Johnson

Plot Synopsis: In a transporter accident, Sulu spends 30 years on a planet and has a daughter. Now he is found but saving the ship may mean losing his daughter.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Review:

Ok, lets start of with an admission, I am a huge Trek fan and have been for 30 years. That said, I am also very protective of the franchise and very critical of how it has been managed over the last 10 years, so I hope I can be somewhat objective in my feelings for World enough and time. I say this because this review will sound like the ravings of a rabid fan boy, but in reality it is the joy of a long starving man searching for table scraps, and finding a 7 course gourmet meal instead. World enough and time is THAT good!

The labor of love that is Star Trek: New Voyages has long been appreciated by fans as what it was, an armature production with some great redeeming qualities. In many cases the acting, particularly that of James Cawley as James T Kirk, has been awkward or even cringe inducing. The production values have been spotty, but with moments of brilliance. The direction and writing as well as the delivery of the online downloads have been rife with problems. Still, what did you expect from a group of fans making a production out of the sheer love of the source material.

The previous episode, To Serve all my Days, was easily one of the best fan films ever made. Quality writing, by professional Trek veterans helped to give the show a solid foundation. Still, even excellent effects and a good performance by original series actor Walter Koenig could not bring it out of the realm of a ‘fan film’.

World Enough and Time changes all of these things. From the first moment of the episode as you follow a shuttle as it flies by a beautifully rendered USS Excelsior, you feel like you are watching an actual episode of the show, or even one of the films. The Excelsior bridge scenes with Takei and Lee Whitney could have been lifted straight out of Star Trek 6.

Back with the original Enterprise we have an action packed, space battle that comes very close to any of the battle sequences on Voyager or DS9. After a bit of very Trek like techno babble puts the Enterprise in danger once more, and brings Sulu back from another multidimensional temporal anomaly, we are given the joy of meeting Christina Moses, a fantastic young actress who plays Sulu’s daughter Alana. Moses is simply a treat to watch and manages to exude both childlike wonder and playful seductiveness with equal ease.

George Takei as the aged Mr. Sulu is very good with only a few moments of rust showing during a mind meld scene with Jeffrey Quinn’s Mr. Spock. The rest of the cast show that they have grown into the characters and put in fine performances. James Cawley as James Kirk shows marked improvement as he finally stops doing a William Shatner impression and takes ownership of his own version of the Captain of the Enterprise.

The ending of the episode has been called sappy by some, but I will admit to a little ocular moisture, something I have not experienced in Star Trek since the first time I watched Spock’s death in The Wrath of Khan. As it stands, this is one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek and stands deservingly among my favorite trek episodes from any of the series. I would have to say that I consider it to be in the top 10 of my favorite TV Sci Fi episodes of all time. I was really that moved by it.

If you are a fan of Trek, you should love this. If you are a fan of Sci Fi at all, you should find a lot to like here. I only hope JJ Abrams has watched this, because this is what ST:XI should aspire to be, a wonderful continuation of the Legacy of the Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.