What I’m Blanking #1

Is it bad form to admit that the first post of my new blog is an idea shamelessly stolen from another blog?

One of my favorite blogs is Okay! Musume Time, a news/commentary/review blog of Japanese pop music. Every week, blogger Chiima does a digest of news, commentary, and just little things that are too small for their own posts, but she wants to say. It’s entertaining, fun, and has worked out for her for over a year. So for Happy Media, what I plan on doing is something similar; a digest of the things I’ve been enjoying over the course of a week, but  don’t really deserve their own specific review or post. So with that, I’m starting my own review of my media week, with What I’m Blanking, a weekly diary of media consumption.

What I’m Watching: Stargate SG-1: Season 1

stargatesg1-1

I have been trying out a trial of Amazon Prime to see if I can swing the $80 price tag for its streaming service (I really doubt I’d use the shipping all that much, and I have a Barnes & Noble Nook, not an Amazon Kindle). The one thing that has made me vaguely consider this cost is the fact that both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis are available for free streaming. That and Farscape are the two things that I want that aren’t covered by my Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts (yes I have both).

To most people who encounter it but haven’t seen it, the whole Stargate television franchise is just some silly sci-fi with a weird gimmick. Which is, in a way, not inaccurate. It’s based off a Roland Emmerich film (to be fair, a Roland Emmerich I’m really fond of, despite the general critical consensus to be less than favorable). One of the characters is an alien with a weird thing on its head. There’s some slightly goofy special effects and aliens. Yet, at the heart of it all, both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis (I’m less familiar with Stargate Universe) are, at their core, more than the sum of their parts. These shows embrace that they can be flat out silly; two of the most fun episodes are the 100th and 200th, Wormhole X-Treme and 200, respectively, which play with some of the cheesier aspects of the show. The people who made this were in on the joke.

I’m hardly a Stargate expert; I caught episodes of SG-1 here and there near the end of its run and watched a decent amount on Netflix. I’m a bit better for Stargate Atlantis, which I own two seasons of on DVD and I’ve seen most of it via Netflix. But this rewatching has really reminded me what caught my eye with the series years ago. It’s silly, yes, but there’s more to it than that. In a weird way (and I’m hoping I’m not completely ruining my chances of being taken seriously on my new blog), Stargate is a spiritual successor of the original Star Trek series. Both had limited budgets, some silly bits, and are generally fairly idealistic in regards to humanity (at least with the main characters). However, with all the limitations, they’re both able to achieve more.

For being a TV series based off of a Roland Emmerich movie, SG-1 is surprisingly subdued. There are action sequences, sure, and some occasional explosions. But there are plenty of episodes that are pretty small in scope. While writing this I’m watching the episode Solitudes, where two of the team members of SG-1 (Jack O’Neill and Sam Carter) get stuck on an icy planet. Cold Lazarus, which did feature some special effects, dealt mainly with grieving over the past death of O’Neill’s son, Charlie. There are lots of ideas and lots of personal moments in these episodes, even ones that have more special effects than others. For being a high concept sci-fi action/adventure show, it deals a lot with human emotions and human ideology.

That said, it’s definitely not a perfect show. There are weaker episodes; Hathor was pretty bad. In general, I really enjoy how they treat Sam Carter on the show. They don’t skirt around the fact she’s a woman, but it’s not brought up constantly. Some episodes they encounter different planets where women are treated differently, based on that culture, but in general her team doesn’t treat her any differently, and Sam can be both strong and smart. Hathor, where the Egyptian goddess of sex and fertility (who is an alien, all part of the show) starts seducing the men of the base, it’s up to the women… to use their own sexuality? Granted, they use their smarts/wits in the end to stop Hathor and fix things, but it’s in general kind of a disappointment. The show can also get pretty cheesy, beyond the levels that even I can stomach; Singularity, where the team rescues a young girl, is saccharine to the max.

However, this rewatch of season one has reminded me why I was interested in the Stargate franchise in the first place. While I don’t know if I’ll keep my Amazon Prime account, I might just have to track down some DVDs of the rest of the series and watch more.

What I’m Playing: Borderlands 2

borderlands2-1

I got this game during this past winter sale on Steam. I played it for a while, put it down, and didn’t pick it up until now. Honestly, I don’t know why I let this go for so long.

I was a really big fan of the first Borderlands game, and, to me, the second one fits in just like a sequel should. Some things are different, some things are expanded, but Borderlands 2 just feels like a good Borderlands game. It’s not going out of its way to do something different or unique. Much like the first one, the story isn’t the big important thing. The writing’s fine, but I don’t play Borderlands for the story. The gameplay’s just fun. I never thought I was a hoarder until had to organize the loot in Borderlands!

I also really like the graphics style as well as the general feel of the game. I’ve never gotten into hyper-realistic military shooters; it’s totally fine if you like them, but I know I”m never going to pick up an Arma game, for example, because it’s not for me. Borderlands has a lot of style, which is part of why it stands out and has been such a success. Whereas over games can be pretty drab, Borderlands is full of color.

It’s never a very challenging game though; I know that playing through this solo, I was able to quickly level up without any grinding which made every mission far below my level. But in a way that’s OK; Borderlands is a great game for just running around and shooting things without much of a care.

So even though it’s not the best game out there and it’s not perfect, it’s nearly perfect at what it does.

What I’m Reading: X-Men #1

Despite having an interest in X-Men for years, I’ve only recently become a Marvel comics fan. Last year, in fact, was the first year I started really reading them. While I’ve gotten into other series since then (the current run of Hawkeye is my favorite), I still have a place in my heart for X-Men, particularly Kitty Pryde, who became my favorite X-Men character while I read Joss Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men.

This issue, X-Men #1, has been my most highly anticipated comic book after it was announced, and I have to admit a large part of it was the all-female team line-up. While I’m interested in superheroes, I’d really like comics as a medium to be able to start moving past objectification of women and move into utilizing more female superheroines. X-Men has always been a really great series for including female superheroes, and this book so far looks like it’s doing a great job.

In addition, the art is absolutely gorgeous and it looks like the story’s going to be really great. In fact, it’s the type of book that’s really excellent, regardless of the female heroines. Which is exactly what I was looking for with this. I don’t want a book that’s going to be so-so, but plays up the fact that these are FEMALE superheroes. I wanted a great book that has interesting heroes, who just happen to be female. So far, this issue hasn’t disappointed me, and I greatly look forward to reading more!

So with that, I end my first installment of my weekly series. I hope to put these out every Friday from now on.

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