Tag Archives: SyFy

SyFy’s ‘Three Inches’ Pilot: Well, at least it had Latinos

No thanks for the memories, 'Three Inches'

Carlos uses his power. After this "Stink On!" scene I knew I could have no love for "Three Inches"

Three Inches, a mutant heroes team story, debuted recently on SyFy. Originally intended as a series, only its pilot was aired and for that I am thankful. There was no way this story could have survived a season. There are good genre actors in it, but the writing made the characters seem like they belonged in a sitcom, not an action show. There are a couple of Latino actors in this pilot from what I could tell. Anthony Del Río’s character Carlos, a.k.a. ‘The Human Smell,’ can emit a powerful odor from his pores while talking about himself in the third person.

Security guard Mel on his way to get whacked (again)

There’s also a minor role by Pedro Miguel Arce, who plays a security guard called Mel that discusses sports and Alicia Keys with his coworkers. They both did excellent jobs, as did most of the cast, but the overly witty dialogue and the lack of anything new in the unlikely-superhero theme made it hard to like Three Inches, much as I wanted to.

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Anonymous Rex Series and Movie (Review)

velociraptor detective Eric García (Repo Men) wrote three novels about the dinosaur detective Vincent Rubio: Casual Rex, Anonymous Rex, and Hot and Sweaty Rex.   Detective Rubio is a velociraptor, not a Rex, so I suspect that the author wanted a catchy and suggestive title.

In Rubio’s world, dinosaurs have not died out, but remained disguised members within human society to protect themselves from the humans that would hunt them down if they knew of the reptiles’ existence. Maybe they watched too much V series and took it to heart. Because dinosaurs are at all levels of society, they can tweak paleontological data so that dino research ‘proves’ their extinction. If a human isn’t fooled or discovers the true nature of the disguised dinosaurs, dinos have full authority from ‘the Council’ to kill them.  Most dinosaurs, including Rubio, look down on humans as inferior beings. This comes as no surprise if you can fool them for millennia into thinking you are extinct.

Detective Rubio unguised In the novels the dinos are costumed as humans and interact with them normally in their daily lives, even as children. It is a very difficult premise to believe in, even for this reader who ‘accepts’ holosuites and hidden schools of magic. The costumes are so wrong- the high tech suits are made of latex and are supposedly so authentic-looking that it looks real even when the dinos are naked. The dinosaurs keep their snouts and tails in check with straps and buckles! I can ‘accept’ that evolution made dinosaurs smaller –even human-sized– because the story offers the plausible explanation that the fossil record has been severely tampered with. But the hiding in latex thing (and hiding for centuries pre-latex) was really hard to get past to enjoy the stories.

Thankfully in the TV movie Anonymous Rex (2004) the technology used to disguise dinosaurs included high tech holographic images as far as I could tell. Except they could feel their transformation and their bodies’ volume changed (?!). I’m still unsure what they did about their tails. I admit that I never really got over the ‘dinos in costume’ idea, but that didn’t make me hate the storylines. Although flawed in practice, it is an amusing premise. The dinosaur society quirks are amusing too. In their world, for example, dinosaurs get addicted to herbs like basil, whereas alcohol has no effect. Dinos can identify one another through pheromone scents, and tend to sniff one another on the back of the neck when they meet. Here’s a summary about each book in the series and the TV movie.

Rubio and Watson doing their thing Casual Rex (2002) was written after Anonymous Rex (2001), but it is a prequel so I’ll cover it first. It introduces us to Vincent Rubio and his partner Ernie Watson of Watson & Rubio Investigations. Although Watson has a terribly unoriginal name, he is the sweetheart of the two and infinitely more likeable than Rubio. Watson is a T-Rex, fatherly, and wiser than the younger Rubio. He’s obsessed with his ex-wife. Vincent  is obsessed with his clothes and drug (herb) habit.

In the story, Watson & Rubio investigate a dinosaur cult called ‘The Progressives,’ in which dinosaurs strive to connect with their primitive  side even though they grew up as human as possible to fit into society at large. ‘Progress’ entails becoming more of a natural dinosaur. The problem is not this philosophy, but when the Progressive leaders take it to the extreme.

Anonymous Rex The TV movie Anonymous Rex was based on the Casual Rex novel, and not the Anonymous Rex book. The movie plot is similar to Casual Rex but the core conspiracy was at a much smaller scale in the film.  The movie adds a daughter (Stephanie Lemelin) for Ernie Watson (Daniel Baldwin) who is mostly there to get rescued. Vincent Rubio is a much more likeable character (being Sam Trammell helps of course). The book has two amusing subplots sadly missing from the movie: an investigation for the detectives’ landlord and a great costume maker/drag queen called Jules that I would have loved to see in the movie. Both the book and the movie deal with Vincent’s ambiguity towards the ‘Progressive’ cult ideas. Something refreshingly toned down in the movie was the constant intolerance towards humans and ‘lesser’ dinos- Compys being the lowest of the low- it made Rubio that much more unlikeable. Another problem with the book is that some of its humor is dated.

The second book, Anonymous Rex, is definitely the best of the trio. If you read just one book in the Rex series, make it this one. The story is about Vincent Rubio hitting rock bottom: bereft of a partner, doing herbs, and not being able to get out of debt because the agency isn’t taking on enough jobs. He had recently been thrown out of the local Council, which unlike the movie, doesn’t play Mahjong to make decisions- they fight it out (sometimes literally). He manages to land a job at a big detective agency, Trutel, and while investigating the case of a nightclub fire, finds it links back to what happened to his old partner.  This book covers more dinosaur idiosyncrasies like how they get hospital care without blowing their cover, the taboo world of sex with humans, how dinos procreate, and black market guises.

The third book, Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery, is about a recovering herbaholic detective Rubio who finds himself enmeshed in a mafia war between Velociraptors and Hadrosaurs down in South Florida. Rubio is coerced into working for the Tallarico (Velociraptor) family. In this case he’s working with Glenda Wetzel, a Hadrosaur, previously introduced in the series as a detective friend.  To complicate matters, Vincent is friends with the Hadrosaur family boss. (This book is where the Anonymous Rex movie gets its Mahjong idea- it’s what the Raptor mobsters play.) I’m not into mafia books or films so I’m  biased here but I found the story quite boring. It is definitely the weakest of the three for me, although it had its fun moments.

Summing up, I would recommend seeing the Anonymous Rex movie and the Anonymous Rex book for campy fun. Read Casual Rex if you want more of partner Ernie Watson and dinosaur alt-history, and skip Hot and Sweaty Rex unless you really like your mob stories.

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Caprica Season One, Episode Five: Know Thy Enemy (Review)

I know what you did last month, Graystone

[Many spoilers]

 

Since the episode title quotes from The Art of War, I expected Know Thy Enemy to be a precursor to battle. It is (sort of). The episode jumps one month ahead from the Vergis Corporation robbery of the Meta Cognitive Processor (MCP) device. Two research lab employees, close to Tomas Vergis, were killed during the break-in. Vergis confronts Daniel Graystone at a museum fundraiser. They speak in front of the beautiful Bill Reid sculpture The Raven and the First Men. The sculpture is inspired by a human creation myth where the raven coaxes people out of a clamshell. I find it appropriate that the Vergis/Graystone chat would have Raven as background since they argue about a device that aids artificial intelligence in leaving the virtual world.

On a different battlefront, Soldiers of the One serial bomber Barnabas, a much-anticipated new character, is introduced. I’m not too impressed with the character yet- using razor wire as an arm bracelet was overkill. I suppose the writers want to make him seem crazy. Or they like torture porn. Keon takes Lacy to see Barnabas in a bid to help transport the Zoebot to Gemenon. Unfortunately Lacy is being tight-lipped about what she wants to transport so Barnabas says nyet.  Barnabas is played by James Marsters so he better not be wasted! Or else the Whedon people will revolt.

The Graystone household gets two visitors, both with decidedly unfriendly intentions, making you wonder if they have any friends at all. Clarice Willow visits Amanda, gets her drunk, and manages to get invited to the lab in her search for the Zoe avatar. I used to make excuses for Amanda, but wow, this was really stupid of her. Separately, Daniel gets a third visit from Tomas Vergis. Vergis wants Graystone to know that his MCP robbery hurt him and he has the tattoos to prove it. The lab assistants that got murdered were close to Vergis; he was nonós (godfather) to their children. As a viewer, I can’t sympathize with Vergis yet because we haven’t seen much of him, even though he promises to be an interesting character. Vergis lets Daniel know that he wants to buy his precious Caprican Buccaneers just because Daniel loves them so much. Graystone Industries needs the cash to fulfill their military contract on time. The Vergis character could be as hard-ass as Sam Adama. Here’s hoping.

Speaking of Sam Adama, I wonder why he was so nonchalant about the MCP lab murders. After all, it the Guatrau learns of a Tauron-on-Tauron hit, he will be most displeased. Food for thought.

 

This holoband better work because I threw away the receipt

 

As for our Latino actors, Esaí Morales’ Joseph Adama buys a holoband to find Tamara’s avatar. His newbie status is humorously and painfully on display when he tries to interact with the obnoxious Daniel avatar. Adama is interrupted by the real Daniel who is shitting his pants about the MCP murders and needs someone else to blame.

Adama’s assistant Dr. Fraiser Evelyn is totally smitten with her boss. Who wouldn’t be? She used the old “let me see your new tattoo” trick to get close. Adama of course ran away. They would make a cute couple.

Our friend Panou’s character got a tiny bit more developed. Olaf seems to be the techie in the Willow family.  He gets his wife Clarice a swipe drive to copy Zoe avatar data in the Graystone lab. Clarice thinks the Zoe avatar is the key to eternal life of the soul. Speaking of Panou, I recently caught up with all the Sanctuary episodes and loved his character there. Would have loved to see more of him. As for Caprica, Panou sightings are few and far between, and it’s hard to see how he could become anything more than another Willow husband. Prove me wrong, Caprica!

Some random tidbits only the obsessed fans would notice:

  • Daniel Graystone suffers from back issues. I totally sympathize.
  • Joesph Adama got his holoband at Emptor Electronics. Emptor means ‘buyer’ in Latin.
  • The Vergis Corporation is in Tauron City. I get the feeling that each planet has a main metropolis with “City” attached to its name. Would be nice to show a bit more originality here. You know there’s a Vergisville somewhere on Tauron!
  • Tauron is known for its steak preparation, brandy and cigars.
  • If you’re interested in online dating, check out V-Match. “V” is the “i” of tech marketing on the Colonies.
  • The Willows have a beautiful matrioshka doll in their bedroom, presumably to enhance their fertility. Or maybe they just like Russian nesting dolls.
  • Joe Adama smokes Forge cigarettes.
  • Slang for getting a Tauron tattoo is “I got some Tauron on me.”
  • Scorpion Ambrosia is green. Heads up for the Caprica party planners: make sure it’s too strong and smells like sulphur for realistic effect.

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Caprica Season 1, Episode 4: There Is Another Sky (Review)

It hurts more on the inside

[Minor plot points, no major spoilers]

This episode is about holding on to what you still have after you’ve lost something that means a great deal. We have Joseph Adama losing his son, Graystone losing his company, and Tamara (Joseph’s daughter) losing her innocence. In There is Another Sky, all three of them find ways to change their perspective, either with the support of a loved one or via virtual ruffians.

It seems like Joseph’s grief over his family’s deaths and the guilt over ordering Amanda Graystone’s murder have finally caught up with him. He is moping about the house, obsessing over family pictures, and basically ignoring his kid. He gets two wake-up calls: one from his brother Sam and another quite literally over the phone. He realizes he needs to pay more attention to his son. On Tauron Willie would be a man, but on Caprica he’s still a child.  We see Joseph trying to connect with Will and failing. This was the emotional storyline of the episode and it really packs a punch.

Daniel Graystone brings us the plotline with the glimpse into the future, a future that will eventually doom most of humanity. Because of his public stance on the holobands being “over,” the board of directors wants his head on a platter. Daniel does what he does best: he finds an unlikely way to impress the board, and reminded this Battlestar Galactica fan of at least two BSG series grand entrances.

Tamara Adama seeks Vesta, another avatar that seems to know a lot about V-world and might help her find a way home. As we all know, Tamara is dead, so this can’t end well. Still, Vesta promises escape in exchange for help winning a virtual game called New Cap City. Nobody knows what the goal of the game is; Vesta and company are focused on getting as much virtual money as possible. This storyline provided the best visuals- an interesting mix of deco, steampunk, and gritty forties.

Some episode trivia:

  • If you want to open a vault in New Cap City, the code is Picon-Caprica-Gemenon-Picon-Tauron
  • Joseph, Will, and Tsattie live at 615 Olympic St. #3 Caprica City
  • Taurons use ritualistic clapping at funerals
  • When a fat cat wants you to leave in New Cap City he says “Take a powder” or “Blow”
  • The actress that plays Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) was born in 1987; the Cylon unit she’s in is U-87. Coincidence? I think not.
  • There was more shirtless Sam in this episode. And I approve.

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Caprica Season 1, Episode 3: Gravedancing (Review)

Sam Adama and stakeout buddy Bob the Bull

[Minor plot points in this review]

Gravedancing starts off with a bang, so to speak, and a frantic press-covered search for terrorist evidence. Graystone goes on the Backtalk TV show to fix the PR nightmare about his family and holoband technology- after being extensively coached on what to say.  The episode title refers to Daniel Graystone and his PR team trying to enhance the Graystone Corporation image by tarnishing that of deceased Zoe.

This episode of Caprica was more about character development than moving the plot forward. We learned more details like: Amanda Graystone’s specialty is plastic surgery (who else thinks that’s a useful skill to have for when Cylons get humanoid skin?); Zoe played the cello; Avatar Zoe finally gets a new dress!; robot lab geeks can’t dance; and the Global Defense Department investigators hold personal grudges against the Soldiers of the One. The show stealers however, were Sam’s stakeout partner and Will Adama’s grandmother; interestingly enough, both are deep-rooted symbols of being Tauron.

In this episode, Joseph discovers that his mother-in-law is the Tauron mafia boss. Not really- but she could be.

As for our Latino watch, we see Joseph (I’ve started pronouncing it “Yoseef” in my head) Adama’s inner turmoil after asking his brother Sam to kill Amanda Graystone. He kinda wants to, but he kinda doesn’t. By the time he makes up his mind it might be too late for Mrs./Dr. Graystone.  Esaí Morales does a great job showing increasing desperation, and I loved how Sam Adama’s character played off his brother’s anxiety. Olaf Willow (Panou) finally shows up in the Willow super-huge bed in a brief but memorable family moment.

Panou (Olaf Willow, lower right) gets some interesting face time

One final note: Did you catch the old school Battlestar Galactica music homage? It was frakkin awesome!

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