I know it’s cliche to say that is has been a while, nearly 18 months or so, since I did one of these. Good news, I have written some other blog posts over the last while, but not one of these. I also took the time to go over why I can’t decide which camera I like the most.
This year I have managed to take some photos, and am still very much enjoying it. Despite everything I managed to get to the NT in May for just over a week. I still don’t know how we managed it between all the lock downs. That was of course fantastic for photography – I really should write a post about that soon …
What have I been watching?
So much. There is too much content and not enough time. I kind of feel like I am still collecting things to watch in my retirement, which of course won’t be for 25+ years …
So, what have I been watching most recently? Well, Invasion on Apple TV+
The most striking thing about this show is the opening theme by Max Richter. It borrows heavily from other work by Max Richter, The Departure from The Leftovers. Subsequently, when the opening titles do play I instantly relive all of The Leftovers in my head, from the first episode all the way through to the ending in Australia and the chase through Melbourne city that made no sense if you lived there.
Beyond the music, Invasion is … awkward to write about. It isn’t bad, but it is slow. It took around 6 episodes for anything to happen, and for those first 6 episodes was just rough going. It was just constant bad things happening to characters that I assume were supposed to be good in an effort for you to empathise with them. That would have been OK, but 6 episodes was a lot.
I think this is another streaming show that could have benefitted from some tighter editing, some external pressure on the producers to compress it a little. There is, of course, a very fine line between TV networks ruining a show by cutting something to shreds, and a passionate show runner ruining the same thing by refusing to cut anything out because it was all precious.
So, after the first 6 episodes things start to fall into place. The story follows different characters in different countries all trying to workout what is going on while cutoff from the rest of the world.
The show is very well made, it is well acted, well produced, but would I recommend anyone watch it? I don’t know. Do you enjoy sci-fi / horror? Do you think you can get 6 episodes of mean and terrible things happening to presumably nice people?
I think there is only one episode left, I really hope it manages to bring it home.
We are 5 episodes into the 6 episode event that is Flux – the final season with Jodie Whittaker. (There are two specials as well before the end of the year) It has been amazing. Some of the best Doctor Who in a while. I had no hate for the last season with Jodie Whittaker, it was still better than most of the TV going around, but there was some awkward writing.
It is not an original take, but it felt like the writers last season didn’t know what to do with all the characters (and there were a LOT for a Doctor Who series). I think giving the whole season to the show runner, Chris Chibnall, to write and produce was a great move. The episodes of have all been great and the overarching story has me completely engrossed.
I am not sure if Jodie is my favourite Doctor. I really enjoy traits from all of the modern doctors, all of them. But this season has been fantastic and with the 2 specials coming up I am sure I am about to hit the “They could never be replaced!” phase of the Regeneration Cycle.
Back on the Apple TV+ series, Foundation. Based on series of novels from Isaac Asimov. To call it ambitious is doing it a disservice. I first saw the trailers a while ago and was immediately sold on two things, Lee Pace and his magnificent eyebrows, and Jared Harris and his wonderful voice (the best example is easily Belter Creole from The Expanse).
What I have loved from the series has been Leah Harvey as Salvor Hardin (the Warden of Terminus), the unexpected “Australian-actor-who-was-in-The-Bill-after-being-on-Neighbours” (Daniel MacPherson) and all the politics and religion talk.
I have read some criticism that it is impossible to capture the scale of the novels in a TV show, and I can understand where that comes from, but given the enormity of the task I think they have done an amazing job so far. My reference point for this type of thing is always “I really enjoyed the BSG prequel Caprica that no one else did.”
This is not to compare Caprica and Foundation (of which Foundation far superior), but it is to say I enjoy long talky parts, and the discussions about number systems.
In these trying times …
Along with the usual sci-fi and drama, in these trying times, I enjoy de-stressing with some British panel and comedy shows. The pinnacle is of course Taskmaster which is an absolute masterpiece. The counter play between Alex Horne and Greg Davies is nothing short of perfection. The way Greg interacts with contestants is also just fantastic.
When I want to think about nothing and just tune out my go-to is Richard Osman’s House of Games. It is just so inoffensive and friendly. Every episode is nearly identical, but that is the charm of it. I can put it on in the background and fall asleep to it.
Then there is the most nerdy / geeky quiz show of all time Only Connect. I am not sure there is a greater thrill than nailing a series of “missing vowels” questions. The next season (that I am yet to watch) of Taskmaster includes Victoria Coren Mitchell, so I am very much looking forward to that.
My guilty pleasure when it comes to Reality TV shows is still The Curse of Oak Island. It just so well produce to completely suck me in with just enough interesting content each week to keep me watching. I know every episode could be 15min shorter with a bunch of “talking head” content removed, but the “characters” are so good I don’t care. I un-ironically love it when Gary Drayton gets excited about a small chunk of metal, and I also love it how they set him up to just point at the ground and he gets everyone else to dig.
What have I been playing?
I continue to inflict pain on myself by playing Overwatch. I don’t play ranked, I play all roles in Quick Play for fun, and try to enjoy it. I am yet to find another game that has the same mix of roles, skills, and team play. There is still something about the game that scratches an itch in my brain.
“Still the only FPS / Shooter to win Game of the Year.”
While streamers, and competitive players (that rely on it for income) have a different take on the state of Overwatch, which doesn’t affect me at all just playing it for fun, I can continue to enjoy it.
I started playing Doom Eternal on my Xbox – it looks amazing on a big TV, and sounds great on surround sound speakers, but I eventually reach my skill ceiling with a controller and got frustrated with it, so I started playing it on my PC. The cheapest way for me to do this was to subscribe to Game Pass.
I’ve put about 2 or 3 hours into Psychonauts 2 on the Xbox because it is available on Game Pass, that’s been really fun, and I keep thinking I should go back to it, then get distracted by something else.
What have I been listening to?
Working from home I’ve being listen to background, it is fair to say I am completely addicted to Japan by Tycho, and the instantaneous “radio” stations streaming services generate from it.
Public Service Broadcasting put out a new album this year, Bright Magic. I enjoy it, but I am not invested in the theme of it like I was with The Race for Space, or The War Room, both of which I can go back to again and again. I have it on vinyl and do enjoying listening to it though and I think it is the type of thing that will grow on me.