Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What I'm Watching

As I've mentioned before, I don't have cable and can no longer receive broadcast channels since the switch to digital. The new, "improved" transmissions can no longer be snatched out of the air by our aerial, so where we once were able to watch "free TV," albeit with lousy reception, we can't get anything at all now. Hooray for technology!

We do, occasionally, watch new shows online, but I find watching shows and movies on my monitor to be both uncomfortable and somehow unsatisfying. Thus, for the last few years, we've watched the television series we're interested in on DVD. Some we buy, and some we rent through Netflix.

Last month, we re-watched the second season of Burn Notice again, and currently, we're working our way through the entire run of Farscape.

This is the second time we've watched the series, and the first time on the new A&E discs. We originally watched the series on the old ADV "Starburst" editions as they were released, about four years ago or so. Since they released each season in three volumes, with months between each volume, it took us a while to get through the four years of the show. Also, some of the first season discs were defective, and there were parts that we just couldn't get to play.

Well, we'd been thinking about re-watching Farscape for a while, and when we found out that the show had been re-issued in a more compact and technically re-mastered edition, we packed up our old discs and traded them in at Bull Moose Music, a local chain. The credit we got for the trade-ins covered most of the price of the new set. Yeah, we had to pay a little out-of-pocket, but it was worth it. The remastered transfers look better, there are some new extra features, and most importantly, it takes up only a third of the shelf space of the old sets.

The show itself is as good as I remembered; outrageous, action-packed space opera with remarkably high production values, a freewheeling spirit unlike any other SF series, and a delightful sense of the absurd. The Jim Henson creature shop devised some genuinely amazing aliens, and the special effects were, at the time, nearly feature film quality.

Last night, my wife picked up the first season of one of her favorite shows from the past, The Pretender. I suspect we'll probably be watching those once we finish up the last season of Farscape. I've only seen one episode of the show so far, and I'm not particularly impressed, but considering the stuff she's sat through for me, I'm willing to give it a shot.

In the wee hours of the morning, while she sleeps, I've been watching random episodes of Mission: Impossible. I received the seasons I was missing for Christmas, and I've been jumping around among the different seasons, watching two or three episodes a week. It's been interesting, seeing how the show evolved over seven years, and I enjoy watching, say, a second season episode with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain one night, and then a 5th season episode with Leonard Nimoy, Lesley Anne Warren and Sam Elliot the next - and maybe jumping all the way back to the first season the next night and watching Steven Hill lead the team.

I enjoy them all, but one thing I don't understand: if Cinnamon is such a famous model, and has her face on all those different magazine covers that Phelps pulls out of his file, how come nobody ever recognizes her?


BrittReid said...

"The new, "improved" transmissions can no longer be snatched out of the air by our aerial, so where we once were able to watch "free TV," albeit with lousy reception, we can't get anything at all now."

Did you get a converter box?
With a rooftop antenna, they're effective even in rural areas.
Have you considered a satellite dish?

Christopher Mills said...

"...they're effective even in rural areas"

So they say. Even with a converter box, we can receive no clear signals with our rooftop antenna. My sister and her husband live nearby, but up on a hill. They can get a couple of channels, but with digital transmissions, it appears to be all or nothing - if the antenna moves even slightly, say, from the wind, they lose reception.

If we could afford satellite, we could afford cable. We cannot afford cable, thus....

And don't get me wrong - for the most part, I'm glad we don't have regular TV. I wasted too many hours flipping channels when we did. But every once in a while a program comes along that my wife or I like to keep up with, and not being able to can be a bit frustrating, especially with spoilers all over the place these days.

El Vox said...

I understand what you're saying. I sort of felt this move to digital was premature, and not exactly ironed out or was a commercial push to sell more flat screen tvs, and other equipment. My brother lives in Dallas, and used to get free tv fine, he still does with the converter box, but it pixelates (is that a word?) at times, and during bad weather, might as well read or go to bed.

El Vox said...

I just found a site at: It has some domain free download stuff you might like: Doc Savage, and there's some books and music especially some Grateful Dead stuff, but a lot of other stuff too. There are some sf books, and a couple of pulp books, so you might want to check it out.

Jon said...

I'm working my way through Farscape again myself. Your description of the series is dead-on.