The Starlost

Metafilter takes a look at the forgotten and reviled 1973 generation-ship SF series The Starlost, which I have never heard of. Sounds totally fascinating, combining elements also seen in Silent Running, Space: 1999, Logan’s Run, Roddenberry’s Genesis II, and of course the original Battlestar Galactica.

Boy, mainstream TV SF sure had a hardon for the apocalypse, didn’t it?

TNG Rewatch

Over the past year, I subjected Viv to a slow-motion rematch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was well worthwhile. I learned that I had missed huge sections of s07, presumably due to being in a band in 1994, so many of those episodes were entirely new to me. Overall the series held up quite well, persistent issues with overall interior set design choices and alien effects costuming aside. Hotel beige and forehead appliqu├ęs!

We moved on to the movies, having started the TNG project after watching the TOS films, and here I am sorry to report just as had been the case on initial viewings on release, the four TNG movies are pretty terrible, mostly for reasons of character adjustment (Picard is not the character seen on the small screen) and big-screen movie drama (wholesale starship wreckage). The films also feature the sloppy in-universe detail management characteristic of Brannon Braga and Rick Berman’s post-TNG series, Voyager and Enterprise.

That said, there are moments in all four films that have stayed with me, notably Data’s final act of self-sacrifice.

We’re weighing what’s next. It’s baseball season now, and both Game of Thrones and Mad Men are running concurrently for the first time for us, so the issue is not pressing. I’m giving some consideration to trying DS9 again, a series that clearly succeeded on its’ own terms to a greater degree than the other two post-TNG shows, but which lost me as an audience member on initial run due to longer story arcs and an insistent focus on a made-up religion. I don’t pay attention to real-life religions, so I could never see a reason to care about something as far from my areas of interest and experience as a fictional one. We’ll see.

Working on the streams

This appears to be the subscription site for the Pacific League. According to this post at Yakyubaka.com, the approximate cost for an all pass in 2010 was $80 for the season.

While the TOS noted the service was restricted to residents of Japan, commenters noted that the streams were not region-restricted.

No info on online DVR-like functionality.

I would really like an app similar to the MLB.tv and MiLB.tv apps, moreso than watching the content on a computer. I mean, I have a Mac Mini connected to our TV so it’s not that big a deal to play content to the tube via the computer, but generally last year I watched more games on my phone via justin.tv, both NBP and MLB, than I did via my actual paid subscription to MLB.tv.

So my actual use case for baseball programming is live Mariners ball and time-delayed Japanese ball to my handheld devices and my computer, but not to my TV, unless by paying for it on my TV I can get it on my devices, without going as far as getting a cable or satellite service provider.

I am obviously aware that this specific use case with regard to MLB is exactly what the blackout rules are designed to prevent, that is, MLB is treating the cable provider as the primary customer rather than the viewer. I kinda suspect the in-Japan restriction in the NPB TOS, which did not have teeth at rollout in 2010, is a reflection of NPB respecting MLB’s desire to maintain a pro ball media monopoly in the US.

Which, whatever, I would pay MLB for the NPB content, just as I did for the minor league content last year. I turned out to never really watch the minor league stuff though. Well, who knows. I would assume that the media team at MLB have a number of other overseas leagues to consider for app-based deployment and although the Japanese games would probably be the easiest to get content for they might not have the largest potential audience.

Noted

A couple years old, but here is a rundown on computer-oriented Japanese TV remote access options.

Update from October 2011 regarding iOS viability. Looks like a subset of Japanese broadcasters publish rtsp:// streams.

The site is emphatically not about baseball though, so I am somewhat dubious if the various yakyu providers expose their programming in such a manner. It would be really cool if they did, though. One thing I noticed last year was that sometimes there were multiple competing broadcasts of the same game, and the relay originator would switch between them occasionally, like if an ad came on.

One of these channels appeared to specialize in non-commented broadcasts, so that the game would play without any narration or commentary, just with the sound of the park and the game itself. I really liked that.

It seems like someone this year mentioned that that may be an option on HD sports broadcasts in general, a setting that the viewer can select.

Starstruck update

Update to my posts of a week or two ago.

In the interim of buying a new set of the original Epic run on eBay and the new copies arriving, I, of course, found the missing box of comics that contained the original copies. It turns out I had not picked up one of the original issues when I was a kid, and it was one of the issues that was expanded for the new collection.

I think it’s a good idea for me to review the original incarnations soon.

Maps

A random link trawl originating with Maillardet’s Automaton wound up at this blog post which amounts to a biography and bibliography of William Bunge, a cartographer and political radical of whom I had never heard.

The automaton interest was prompted by the film Hugo, which was the second film we attended yesterday. We also watched Tintin, which was much better than I had expected. The script adjustments and inventions were quite distracting to me personally but I strongly doubt that they would bother anyone with less intimacy to the books than I have (I just finished reading through all of them again for something like the tenth time).

We may try to see the new Sherlock Holmes today, or we may not. Looking at the time, I doubt we will be able to squeeze it in before dinner.

All in all, though, a remarkable weekend of film. We saw Hugo, The Artist, Tintin, and The Muppets. Of these films, there is really no question: The Artist is the best, with Hugo closely behind. I would say Tintin is next, and then The Muppets. Not that The Muppets is bad, not by any means. It’s basically just smaller in scope and ambition than the other three films.

Tintin is kind of a mess, for many reasons, but it is absolutely entertaining and captures certain aspects of the spirit of the books, notably Tintin’s characteristic determination. Regrettably, the film hammers the audience over the head with a sort of kids-film lesson-by-example bullshit and catchphrase repetition. Other changes include compressing the Sakaharine brothers into one and conflating that character with Red Rackham, and* some absolutely predictable adjustments to Captain Haddock’s alcoholism. The film has grossed over 250 million dollars on an announced budget of 130 million and as of this month both Speilberg and Jackson have confirmed that a sequel will be produced.

One thing I want to explicitly mention: in the initial trailer for the film, I was totally horrified by certain aspects of the CGI, in particular the physics of the sail-setting on The Unicorn. To me, that appeared to telegraph a lack of respect for Hergé’s concern of accuracy in detail. I am pleased to report that the sails thing was addressed. I would say that the jury is out on how successful the film is with respect to the specifically literary characteristics of the books, qualities which are at the core of the work’s deserved status as a landmark and masterwork of graphic fiction.

Hugo, on the other hand, is clearly a masterpiece, one of the most disciplined films that Martin Scorsese has ever made. It is quite different from his adult-oriented work, as one would expect, but where it is nearly always the case that Scorsese’s films start out with a profoundly well-structured script which becomes increasingly less structured as the film proceeds, Hugo’s central metaphor, that of clockwork, appears to have kept the director focused on the task of his adaptation. Clearly, there is no other director in contemporary film who would be better suited to tackling the story, centering as it does on Georges Méliès’ films and automata. The film presents a lovingly detailed reconstruction of Méliès’ studio and productions, a sight which is (of course) presented in 3D. Witnessing these images on the screen was literally enough to cause me to burst into tears of joy.

Scorsese joyfully engages with the history of early cinema, slyly engaging the audience by showing the famous ‘train arriving at a station’ scene of the Lumieres with the audience scrambling out of the way of the train and then showing us the exact same scene in 3D within the context of his narrative, something which quite literally caused a child seated directly in front of me to jump out of his seat in fear and excitement!

Scorsese also references a myriad of other early films throughout the movie, generally early stage-set single camera silents. The film is a stone delight, one that any devoted admirer of early cinema simply MUST SEE, and in 3D.

Despite this, there is no question in my mind that the artistic accomplishment of The Artist is of a higher order. Where Scorsese mixes contemporary technological mastery with didactic lessons on the heritage of the cinema, The Artist fully engages the audience in the act of experiencing that heritage, the specific magic and articulated aesthetic of the silent film, all the while gracefully acknowledging the fact that the film itself is fully a product of the contemporary film industry and benefits mightily from the committed efforts of thousands of film historians, Martin Scorsese among the foremost.

*oops. It’s the Bird brothers that got the hook. Sakharine was never a doubled character. I yam stoopit.