Well, this has been a bit of a different week.
The big thing is that I was officially classified as a “close contact” on Sunday (although I didn’t find out until later in the week). In the rules of my state, this means that I either spent 15 minutes in face to face contact with someone with a positive COVID case without masks on, or I spent two hours in a room with someone without masks on. For me, it was the 15 minute rule that did it. I’m not actually sure that my conversation with our new friend was 15 minutes long, it was possible and I decided to play it safe.
Anyway, I’m not sick at all (various COVID tests have come back negative) but I did have to isolate for the week (so did my daughter, who was also with me). Fortunately, the School of Communication that I am co-leading at the moment is entirely online, so it didn’t really impact my work. I had to Zoom-in for my meeting with our partners for the Sister Veronica documentary, but just as we started, my friends found out that they might have become close contacts and suddenly the meeting was cancelled. (It turned out to be a false alarm, but we didn’t know that at the time). Now it’s been re-scheduled for this week as a full-on Zoom get-together.
You can see how much my walking for the week has been impacted. Normally I’m pretty diligent about getting 10,000 steps a day, but this week was a bit of a flop in that regard.
In the midst of all this, there has been just as much TV and so on as ever, or even more because of the extra time spent not going anywhere.
Last time I mentioned having watched (or re-watched) the first season of Red Dwarf with my kids. We’ve kept going with the show and gotten through the second season and into the third. The second season is a step up from the first, I’d say, with the episode Queeg standing out as particularly good. I’ve seen these episodes before but don’t remember them as well as the next few years, so the big discovery for me this time around is how funny Norman Lovett is as Holly–he’s hilarious.
The third season of the show is what I consider to be the start of the glory days of the show. Robert Llewellyn joins the show at this point as Kryten, and the series settles into being about the four main characters–Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat–dealing with a variety of science fiction threats and concepts. Those glory days continue through season five, so I think we’ve got some good stuff coming up.
Star Trek Picard – Season Two
The second season of Star Trek Picard has kicked off, and to my surprise it’s debuted here in Australia on Amazon Prime (and not Paramount+), so my daughters and I can watch it. The first two episodes are out, and so far they are pretty decent in the same sort of way that the first two episodes of Season 1 were. Unfortunately, Season 1 went on to be a strong contender for the worst season of television in the history of Star Trek. I know there are those who will not agree but that’s my view and I’m sticking with it.
Season 2 has returned Q to the scene (played again by John De Lancie), and given that he’s an old favorite I can only assume that he’s going to die. But before that happens he has sent most of the main characters of the show to an alternate timeline where instead of the enlightened Federation that we know and love, there is a dark, dystopian Confederation that hates everything but humans and has nearly succeeded in dominating the galaxy with their spiteful, bigoted views. Some investigation reveals that the point of divergence (when things went wrote with the galaxy) was back in 2024, in Los Angeles. In the next episode, the crew will no doubt be on their way back to the 21st century to try to fix things, or to prevent the disaster that sent it all wrong.
Hmm, 2024, in America. Los Angeles in particular. How much do you want to bet that the point of divergence has something to do with the next presidential election? I’d be surprised if they went to so far and actually mentioned Joe Biden, Kamala Harris or Donald Trump, but it would not throw me off-guard at all if they talked about a significant choice that was ahead, with nothing less than the soul of our generation at stake. I believe I am about to find this show extremely painful to watch again.
It doesn’t help that I have not been a particular fan of the cast. It looks like Soji (Isa Briones) is being kept off-stage for much of the action here, which is a pity because she is only the main character that I’d the third-most like to have lost–I can’t stand Raffi and I don’t like Agnes either. My favorite of the newcomers is Santiago Cabrera’s Captain Rios. My daughters like the “hot space elf” (Elnor played by Evan Evagora) and I still keep hoping that we can find a way to reconnect with the otherwise unrecognizable Seven (Jeri Ryan). I don’t even really like Patrick Stewart as Picard in this show–I keep wishing we could have followed Jonathan Frakes’ Riker as he flew away at the end of last season.
Legion of Super-Heroes: Conspiracy
Specifically, that’s talking about issues #46-50 of the so-called Baxter series of Legion of Super-Heroes from the late 1980’s by Paul Levitz, Greg Larocque and a returning Keith Giffen.
It’s a five issue arc that I’ve read many times before but which I recently read to my daughters on our ages-long process of reading my favorite my favorite comic book together. Of course, my daughters (being 17 and 15) are too old for me to read a comic book too, but still it’s sort of a fun tradition with us.
The Conspiracy story is about a secret agreement between four Legionnaires to seek revenge against the Time Trapper for the death of Superboy, and shows them attempting to enact their plans, being discovered by the rest of the Legion, tricking them and going alone anyway, and ultimately succeeding but at incredible cost.
It’s not the best Legion story–it does include Mon-El grabbing a neutron star and bringing it to earth which is just all kinds of silly. But it does give us a cool explanation for how Rond Vidar came back to life, and an even cooler reveal for how the nigh-omnipotent Time Trapper could be defeated. There’s no way the Legion should be able to do this, but they do, and Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen make it awesome.
And maybe the biggest thing I watched this week was the new Pixar movie, Turning Red, which is about a Chinese-Canadian girl who suddenly finds as she hits puberty that she’s inherited her family’s curse of turning into a giant red panda when she experiences strong emotions.
It’s not a great movie, unfortunately. Even though it deals with some interesting themes, I didn’t find it holds together terribly well. A lot of the humor and characterization seem forced and the messaging is a bit confused. It’s largely about finding freedom of self-expression in the midst of family expectations, which feels more like something I should be looking for in a Barbie movie. Of course it’s still engaging and competently made, but it’s not likely to be in my Top 10 Pixar movies. (Hmm, what is in my Top 10 Pixar movies? Up, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles…um, maybe Toy Story 3. Probably Luca. Maybe Monsters, Inc.? Was Onward a Pixar movie?)
Still, I didn’t mind watching it. It was a fun time with the family, even if it wasn’t the greatest movie. I think we’ve decided that the next animated movie that we will watch–that my kids have seen but I never have–might be Brave. I can slowly fill in the gaps of my Pixar viewing, and then really lock down that top ten.