Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NBC Online

So, a couple months ago, NBC announced that Apple sucks and that they were going to be doing their own thing with digital media, specifically movies and TV shows. I thought this was a little stupid at the time, because NBC shows have been a huge success on iTunes and I would assume that NBC would want to at least keep that in place until they already had an alternative in place that was doing well. But, well, apparently they weren't happy with the money they were making from selling shows on iTunes and so just wrote it all off while working out their own online strategy.

Their new strategy has two key parts, of which I've only used one (the other is in a private beta right now). The part I haven't used is called Hulu and it's a joint venture with Fox to create a YouTube competitor. This seems pretty inherently stupid and I assume it will suck in a major way (largely because I can't really imagine it being any good). Obviously, the plan is to give it a leg up on Youtube by populating it with much of their own original content, which they are working hard to keep off of YouTube. They'll make lots of money by populating their original content with ads (and I'm sure they'll be plenty of other ads on the webspace as well). They'll even try to create an online community and allow users to share videos, and it'll probably be quite interesting to see how they decide to protect their content (as well as other IP owners content) within that ecosystem. But, so yeah, there doesn't look to be any real reason for Hulu to ever become relevant. Also, it's called Hulu for goodness sake. I don't even want to know how or why they picked that name.

The second part of their strategy is to allow the viewing of recent episodes on their official, webspace, via an ad-supported Flash player. Due to the fires in southern California, I missed much of my recent NBC watching, so I've been using that to catch up. The experience is...interesting. When it's working, it's not a terrible way to watch a TV episode. They break the episode up into bits at the same points where there would be ads if you were watching it on TV anyways (which I think is fair). The main difference, and the only thing I like, is that during these ads there's a countdown letting me know when the show is going to come back on. This is really convenient, because it means you can be working on a blog entry and just be checking the countdown until it's time to come back. Very nice. It would be awesome if they were able to implement something like that on general television as well.

The rest of the experience, however, pretty much sucks. Well, actually, I should be nicer than that. It's hardly the worst way to watch TV. I imagine that watching TV in black and white on a 6" screen would be worse. I'm sure watching TV when the power is out is worse (because then you can't even be working on a blog entry).

Here's what it was like, for me. I find NBC's website. No problem. I struggle to navigate this busy and complicated website, but find the link for watching full episodes of Chuck, so I click it. This instead takes me to their Chuck website, which is also busy and complicated. There's many different things that say "Watch a full episode of Chuck online!", but I'm struggling to actually find that precious link that takes me to these full episodes. Soon, though, I figure it out and I'm watching Chuck. I quickly notice that the video quality sucks. This is not especially hard to notice, unless you're not looking at the screen. But, hey, the load time was pretty much nonexistent, so it would hardly be fair to complain (this is kind of the mindset you need going in: I will make excuses for all the things that suck about this because it's free).

Then we get to an action sequence. Now, the frame rate drops to nonexistent. Luckily the dialogue is still going, except this action sequence featured characters speaking Chinese, which I'm not capable of understanding without the aid of subtitles, which, as it happens, tend to be more viewable when you're seeing each frame you're supposed to see, instead of every 24th. But, whatever, the action ends and things get back to normal (and I don't even complain because action sequences in Chuck are stupid anyways...see more excuses). Now, though, I'm onto a new problem. The newest episode seems to crash at the same point every time I try to watch it. This is disappointing, because I don't really appreciate having my browser crash, over and over again.

Another complaint would be that the ads must be significantly larger files, because they basically start and stop and junk around a lot (which means that watching ads is actually more painful than normal, even when they're happening in the background while I'm writing a blog entry).

And, well, the list of complaints goes on. Maybe it's just slow today, but I finally gave up on watching the newest Heroes online (crashing starts to get old after a little while). I know someone who lives about 25 minutes away and TiVos Heroes. I think it'll be faster to just drive over there and watch it with them (in HD, by the way).

So, yeah, we'll just have to wait and see when I get around to doing another NBC Mondays post, but catching up is apparently harder than I would have liked.

That is all.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guitar Hero III

So, Guitar Hero III came out today. And, um, I bought it. A couple weeks ago, I bought numbers 1 and 2 as well. I intend to never touch the "Rocks the 80s" collection. And, well, I have to admit, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, it's more songs. And, well, more songs are always good (except in the aforementioned "Rocks the 80s" case). On the other hand, this is the first Guitar Hero that didn't involve Harmonix. And, well, it shows.

Let's start with what I like. I like that many of the songs are original recordings, although it is significantly less than I had initially expected (almost everything before 1990 is covered, it feels like). I like that it brings Cream and Stevie Ray Vaughn back (my favorite artists from number 1). I like that the final performance location is Hell. I kind of wish they called it that, though. Or, well, anything besides Lou's Inferno. I mean, seriously, how is preceding the word Inferno with Lou even kind of okay (unless it's an incredibly vague reference to Lou's Records, which is a popular record store in southern California, but I kind of doubt it). They should have just called it The Underworld, or something. I really liked that they gave the year the song originally came out. I think that's one of the only really classy additions. It really gives you a feeling of history when you can kind of see who was playing when, and I totally appreciate that.

Hmm, I think that's almost everything I can come up with. I guess I kind of like the Japanese Schoolgirl guitarist, Midori, except she doesn't really look like a Japanese Schoolgirl, which seems to defeat the whole purpose of having a Japanese Schoolgirl guitarist. Oh, I also think it's totally awesome that we can equip our characters with Guitar Hero guitars (I think it's cool to have my character playing with the same thing I'm playing, but maybe I'm weird).

There, that was a decent amount of stuff to like, right? Oh, wait, I also liked the quote "Real guitarists don't sit on the couch". That was pretty awesome.

Anyways, the dislikes. The new art style is pretty high up there in the dislikes. Guitar Hero typically is pretty cartoony, but this one seems to take itself a lot more seriously. This starts to come across kind of weird when you look at the completely ridiculously over-the-top costumes available. I think they had to do this so that the boss characters (REAL guitarists that battle you during incredibly boring sets that they wrote specifically for the game) wouldn't look completely out of place, so the result is that everyone looks like a normal proportioned person and the boss characters look really boring (since they don't have costumes of the same level of ridiculousness as the main characters). Also, the audience comes across as incredibly monotonous and boring. I mean, they're just there to make you feel awesome, but when they all look like skaters from the Tony Hawk series, you can't really bring yourself to care about them.

Next, I really don't like how this feels a lot more like a rhythm game. Guitar Hero is supposed to be targeting the people who thought that DDR was lame, right? It's supposed to make you feel like a rockstar, right? So, why should a rockstar give a crap about the length of his current string of notes?! I really don't need to be informed every time I hit 50 notes in a row. Normally, the only time you see words over the main area is when you get star power. That was invasive, but okay because it made you feel accomplished and ready to really ROCK. Getting 50 notes in a row means nothing to me.

I imagine this nuisance as a little nerdy guy backstage keeping a tally and then running onstage to let me know about it in the middle of the song. Plus, he takes so long to get onstage that by the time he reaches me and starts bugging me, it's not relevant anymore (seriously, I swear it takes like 5 seconds for the letters to appear, I know this because I've screwed up the 51st note before and then, a brief moment later it told me I had a 50 note streak going). That whole mechanic of streaks is a rhythm game construct that isn't relevant or necessary for this game. And it's annoying.

Obviously, I didn't really like the boss battle very much either. It just seemed, pointless. It's a total gimme, to get you excited about it in multiplayer, but I can't imagine it being all that much fun with another person either. Face off in Guitar Hero has been about showing that you're the better guitarist. That you can pull off the crazy solo that the other guy can't. Battle mode proves nothing. It's not about rocking out, and so it just doesn't feel right in Guitar Hero (I mean, that's a classic puzzle game mechanic, for goodness sake, and I don't really associate Guitar Hero with Tetris).

But, really, my main dislike is just where Guitar Hero is going. The box didn't even advertise the presence of Cream or Stevie Ray Vaughn (it was just a pleasant surprise for me). There was also a lot more...metal, which is not really a fun genre to listen to (although it's probably because it has such crazy solos). Also, there was a lot of songs from 2005-2007. I thought it was funny that one of the little loading quotes was "Let's start with our new single so we can get that piece of shit out of the way". But then, you play the latest singles from Muse and The Killers and Queens of the Stone Age and you're just like, "Wait, I though we agreed those were crap, so why are you making me play them?" It's just, frustrating.

Why is Matchbook Romance in this game, but not Led Zeppelin? Where is Jimi Hendrix? Why is there so little of the great guitarists from the last generation? How about some blues? You know, maybe B.B. King? Or someone a little less renowned like Muddy Waters or Buddy Guy? They're still alive and kicking. B.B. King would be an incredibly awesome boss battle. Have him play something and dare the player to try to play it back at him.

I know that the argument is: That's what the downloadable content is for. And, yes, I understand. But, it's just, not exciting when everything is super fast punk that tests your rhythm or grating metal guitars that test your sanity (sprinkled with the occasional classic pop song, so your mom can play too). I don't know, I'm just not that into it.

Also, did they really have to make hammer-ons and pull-offs even easier? I'll be the first to admit that the first Guitar Hero made hammer-ons and pull-offs very tough, almost to the point of not fun (you have to seriously practice them to be any good at them at all, which I'm not, yet). Guitar Hero II made them easier by saying, push at the right time. I thought this was a fair compromise. Number 3 just says, be holding it when the note comes. I'm serious. That's all you have to do. It has this whole feeling of completely unreality about it (like this note magically plays). It's honestly, really stupid.

I swear I'm not being a purist here. I just feel that a large part of Guitar Hero has always been about feeling like you're playing the guitar and rocking out. We know it's just a simulation, but playing the Guitar shouldn't be easy. It should test your timing, and this doesn't. What's worse, though, is how this changes the mechanics. They literally just throw hammer-ons in the middle of anywhere, because they've completely abandoned reality and it doesn't matter anymore.

Hmm, I think my bitching is starting to go a little long. Most reviews seem to be pretty positive in a "it doesn't disappoint" sort of way. One of the common complaints is the presence of totally inane in-game advertisements (there's an AXE body spray branded guitar). Which is a fair complaint, to be honest, but pretty expected from the dudes behind most of the Tony Hawk series.

In summary, I didn't think it was as fun as the earlier ones, which is too bad. It kept most of what the others did right, but lost some things and didn't bring anything new that was fun. So, yeah.

That is all.


Friday, October 19, 2007

On Zombies and Vampires

Well, I was initially planning on titling this post "In Loving Memory of Zombies". But, well, I'm happy to report that I don't think zombies are dead yet (on a completely unrelated note, I take no responsibility for any and all of the stupid, entirely intentional puns contained in this post).

For the past couple of months, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that vampires are going to be the new zombies (not surprisingly, no one has listened yet). I've been predicting this because the number of really cool upcoming zombie movies has dropped to zero (Resident Evil: Extinction doesn't count, trust me, I saw it). At the same time, there are/were two cool upcoming vampire movies (30 Days of Night and I Am Legend). Now, admittedly, it's a well known fact that it actually takes 3 movies to call it a trend, and there are some cool zombie-ish movies coming in the distant future (the independent movie The Signal and Eli Roth's next project, Cell, would be two examples).

However, what is further contributing to my belief that vampires are the new zombies is that 30 Days of Night is very similar to the movie that started the whole zombie craze, 28 Days Later (I'm going to call the similarity of the names a coincidence, though).

28 Days Later was directed by popular indie film maker Danny Boyle, who had directed the popular Trainspotting. He created an extremely cool, very atmospheric zombie movie that redefined what a zombie could be. For one, he made them fast. Equally important, though, he made turning into a zombie really fast. In exchange, he got rid of that whole "Shoot them in the head!" thing. The result was a very different kind of fear where you didn't have time to say goodbye to your loved ones once they were bitten. Also, thankfully, this got rid of the stupid requirement for close quarters with lots of doors, because that's the only way a zombie can take someone by surprise (since zombies are fast now, they don't need to be conveniently hiding where the camera can't see them).

Obviously, this was a huge hit and I swear it was barely a year later that we saw the remake of Dawn of the Dead, which continued the fast zombie tradition (but kept "Shoot them in the head!"). This was also a very decent hit and so the fast zombie tradition was born.

Now, skip to 2007. 30 Days of Night was directed by popular indie film make David Slade, who had directed the popular Hard Candy. He created an extremely cool, very atmospheric vampire movie that redefined what a vampire could be. For one, he made them really fast. Equally important, though, he made turning into a vampire fairly slow. In exchange, he added this whole "Chop off their heads!" thing. The result was a very different kind of fear, where vampires are actually kind of scary. Also, thankfully, this got rid of that whole seduction thing where the victims willingly give themselves to the vampires (since vampires are fast now, they don't need to be conveniently ridiculously good-looking for the camera).

Okay, so maybe they're not that similar, but there's definitely a lot of similarities (like the name). But seriously, this movie really intended to de-romanticize vampires and actually turn them into something scary. I swear, it often seems like the servants of the vampires are scarier than the vampires themselves in most vampire movies. Vampires only real source of scariness comes from their ageless wisdom and power. And the fact that they typically steal your cute girlfriend and send her to seduce you, which sucks. And so, their ageless wisdom and power makes them arrogant and so typically the scrappy group of heroes manages to defeat the vampire (in case your curious, that would pretty much be the plot of Dracula, the book).

Now, personally, I've never found that especially scary (which is a little weird, because in book form, it is pretty decently scary). Also, this is hardly the first attempt to de-romanticize vampires. The Blade Trilogy immediately comes to mind, but maybe that's just because I'm weird since those are stupid action movies and don't count for the same reason that Resident Evil doesn't count. On the other hand, Guillermo del Toro's work with vampires has attempted to redefine vampires, but in a very different way (he actually directed Blade II, which was easily the best, which obviously isn't saying much). In Blade II, he created super crazy awesome vampires that feed off other vampires and they were totally crazy cool (their mouths had multiple breaks so their mouths opened into multiple parts which could easily fit an entire head into the mouth...which is just a little bit cooler than might have to see it to understand). In Cronos, he reimagined vampirism as a way to achieve immortality, but at a terrible price (drinking blood).

Now, that I've actually seen 30 Days of Night, I can honestly say that I was really amazed at how heavily influenced it was by zombies. This honestly felt more like one of the new generation zombie movies, than a vampire movie. In fact, almost every complaint I might have about it, arises from the fact that we're dealing with vampires, when it feels like we should be dealing with zombies.

This movie portrays vampires, most of the time, as little more than unthinking, hungry animals that tear their prey apart as they consume the blood (which, obviously, spills a massive amount of blood, but apparently the vampires aren't too worried about that). They kill the vast majority of the town in the first night (of 30, remember, not 28), in a massive rampage. And, personally, I think that's a really interesting way to treat vampires. I thought that made them a lot scarier and more violent, and well, evil. I like them as hungry creatures that have found the perfect hunting grounds.

In fact, if I we're making this movie, I would have set the town as the formerly second northernmost town of Alaska, after a mysterious accident destroyed the farthest one last year. I mean, why not let the vampires be experienced in the cold? Have the movie start with news crews at the wreck of that town (and introduce Ben Foster as the only survivor). Boom! We've already got a better opening.

But, this theme of vampires as animals is only skin deep, because for some pointless reason the vampires have their own language and they use it to say pointless stuff and make fun of humans. I swear, every scene of the vampires talking would have been better without the subtitles (in fact, I wonder if we might be able to check that option in the DVD version, that would be cool). I like the vampires portrayed as animals, but, as a general rule, animals don't get to have their own language and make fun of humans, unless the movie is rated PG or below and is animated (this movie is disqualified on both counts). At the same time, I loved the things they said in English, which gets spoiled in the trailer, but whatever.

So, I'm disappointed to say that 30 Days of Night is no 28 Days Later. This treatment of vampires was really interesting (and very zombie like, which I like). But, the movie itself wasn't very good, which is too bad. On the other hand, I Am Legend will definitely be good (I don't think it will be possible for that movie to be bad). Also, Richard Matheson's vampires are another very interesting take on vampirism. I don't know how closely the movie is going to follow the book (considering The Omega Man, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was: not very), but Mr. Matheson did not write an especially romantic last man on earth against the vampires book (which is, in all honesty, a very zombie like theme if you think about it). Of course, assuming they're keeping the title because they plan to follow his themes, then these vampires will be very human (a fun middle ground between the not scary vampires of the past and the vampires of 30 Days of Night).

So, yeah, vampires could still be working towards becoming the new zombies, but they're not there yet. But, I'm excited. 30 Days of Night was really fun...almost as much fun as 28 Days Later, and I've never encountered a vampire movie I thought was as fun as a good zombie movie.

That is all.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Persona 3

Okay, I've spent well over 70 recorded hours of my life on this game (which is a low estimate since it only counts the play time I kept, and this is the type of game that requires multiple save states). It's probably time to write some sort of reaction to it, if only to try to explain why a game like this can so thoroughly take over my entire life (not that this is all that hard).

Anyways, Persona 3. It's published by Atlus, who I trust because they also published Disgaea and Trauma Center. All these games have poor graphics that it made up for through very expressive hand drawn pictures that go along with the dialogue (not that this is an unusual strategy for RPGs). Also, the voice acting and writing quality is typically well above average (although I used the Japanese voices for Disgaea, but that's not important).

Persona 3 is actually included within the Shin Megami Tensei umbrella, which includes a variety of other RPGs as well, all of which stand out for a variety of reasons. The primary thing they all share is that they are typically a little disturbing compared to the average RPG. Topics like cannibalism and suicide are not unusual in these games.

So, what is the first thing Persona 3 shows you, during the opening video when you turn on the game? "Memento mori". And then a silhouette of a character holding a gun to their head and pulling the trigger (and the eyes suddenly opening in pain as the right side of the head explodes). All this is set to some random upbeat J-pop song. Hell of a first impression.

However, it's not the first impression that got me to continue allowing my life to waste away while my entire focus was on this game. It's the gameplay. And this game, in many ways, revolutionized the genres it borrows from, to make them more than capable of taking over my life.

There are two keys genres where the gameplay arises from: classic dungeon crawling RPGs and Japanese High School Sims. Intuitively, these genres are not related. Also, intuitively, neither of these genres is particularly fun or popular outside Japan (okay, dungeon crawlers are kind of popular, I guess).

To be clear, dungeon crawlers are the kind of RPG that use fighting and leveling purely for the sake of fighting and leveling. Diablo would be a classic example of a dungeon crawler, but it used the point-and-click gameplay mechanic (instead of separate battles). The point being, you are meant to simply continue playing through Diablo's randomly generated floors and leveling your characters, purely for the sake of getting stronger. There is little other reward for your troubles. This genre commands a fairly hardcore audience in Japan that is willing to dedicate significant amounts of time to a game, simply for the accomplishment involved with doing this (think of those people that have to create level 99 pokemon, or climb everest for that matter). I will admit to the fact that I do sometimes get addicted to this type of game...

Japanese High School sims are basically only popular in Japan, to my knowledge (note that this is different from dating sims, which are ever-so-slightly popular elsewhere). Really, the only "fun" involved with these games is in accessing the different stories and cut scenes. These games main appeal comes from the idea of simulating life, except that you're allowed to save and try a different response. I'm sure this is fulfilling lots of fantasies, but whatever (it reminds me of the ending cinematic for Ubisoft's Prince of Persia, where the Prince kisses the beautiful princess, gets slapped, then reverses time a little ways so it never happened and instead he says something clever and walks away into the sunset, all classy-like). Anyways, that's all these games typically have to offer (although they can get pretty complicated, so I'm not saying they're necessarily easy...think along the lines of, like, Myst-type puzzles, only with more Japanese schoolgirls). And, I'm going on the record saying I'm not really into this type of game, I swear. I don't care if you don't believe me, since I know it's true and that's good enough for me (don't ask why I know things like the above couple sentences, too).

So, Persona 3 did something amazing. It combined these genres into something way better than either one. Dungeon crawlers suffer from a severe amount of monotony. It's kind of inherent to the system. High School sims suffer from a lot of problems as well, such as: unreality, lame stories, the utter pointlessness of it all, the lowering of personal self-esteem for even getting close to the get the idea. Persona 3 eliminates almost all these problems (there is still a little monotony, but it's fairly optional).

Summed up simply, during the day, in game, your character goes to school and at night him and his friends slowly battle their way up a seemingly infinite tower. At school, you do things like go to class, hang out with friends, participate in clubs, and try to date girls. There's a limited amount of time to do most of this stuff, so you have to divide your time wisely. At night, you do things like fight bad guys (or stay home and study or stay home and sleep to recover from the previous long night).

Here's where it's cool, though. There are two ways to power up your spells and stats. By gaining experience, you can slowly increase your stats and learn new moves. Alternatively, the activities, friendships, and relationships that you nurture at school can be translated into very significant power ups to your character at night. In fact, there are far greater potential gains from a fully developed friendship than would be available without it.

This provides two keys answers. First, there is a reason to care about your friends and their problems. If you can say the right things and help them out, then it will make you more powerful at night. This makes the high school sim aspect of the game a lot more interesting because there's actual personal awards for your accomplishments. Similarly, because this is where you can reap significant awards, you don't have to waste massive amounts of time leveling your characters at night, which makes avoiding the monotony that plagues the dungeon crawler genre a lot more feasible.

It's brilliant. The result is that over the course of the game, I can continue getting stronger and preparing to face tougher bad guys, without have to spend hours leveling up against the current guys. Once I've unlocked the way to the next area, I just have to hang out with the right people to improve whatever I need improved. Plus, the high school sim doesn't feel as arbitrary, because there's actually a strategy involved. As an example, let's just say I've dumped girls who were improving aspects that I didn't need.

Completely unrelated, I'm glad I didn't have to explain myself to her, I can imagine a conversion like that in real life being a little awkward: "The spells I'm learning from our relationship are weak and useless, so I'm dumping you for this nerdy chick who'll teach me crazy awesome instant kill spells. I hope you understand. It's nothing personal. We'll still be friends, right?"

So, yeah, that's what I've spent my life doing for the past couple weeks (don't read as dumping girls to find ones that give me more powerful spells). The game is really interesting and innovative, which is really what blows me away about it. I sincerely hope more games copy this type of mechanic, since it works so well.

That is all.


Monday, October 8, 2007

NBC Mondays, Week 3 Review

NBC Mondays, Week 3 Review

So, the shows have gotten a chance to finish warming up. I'm happy to report, I think it was a good thing. The stride has been hit, and they're all starting to get fun.

First off, Chuck.

Wow, this show is so amazing. So stupid, yet so amazing. This is what pointless comedy is all about. I still find the action parts to be just silly and vaguely annoying (although it kind of works when everyone is shooting in random directions and stuff is breaking, but only because that's more like comedy, anyways). But, man, I totally dig Chuck. He's so awesome. He's the perfect mixture of useless comic relief and charisma. You can't help but like him, even as he complains about always being in danger and being useless and having no free will and not truly dating the hot spy and the list goes on.

The girl is cool, too, I guess. It's hard to know what she sees in him, since intuitively it should be very much in her best interest not to get attached to him (but that might be thinking a little bit more than the show is prepared for, although it seems like any thinking would be more than this show is prepared for). But, well, what can you do, the show's whole concept is a twelve-year olds' wish fulfillment, and that wish requires the hot spy to mysteriously fall in love with the protagonist against all reason (especially against all reason, it's just more romantic that way, or something).

And, of course, the Buy More. I heart. His team of nerds, only slightly encumbered by the presence of his friend (who provides funny, but relatively unnecessary comic relief, considering that the main character is already our source of comic relief, but whatever), elevate everything about this show. Also, watching Jayne mistreat his fellow workers is an extra special level of awesome.

My highlight so far: Watching Chuck a follow.

Heroes Season 2

So, things are moving along. Mohinder is finally realizing that he's in over his head, which I'm pretty sure the entire audience knew from early last season, but it's nice to know that this really intelligent dude is finally catching up with us. DL is dead, which basically sucks major ass. Nicki is totally boring without her husband, so I'm back to not caring about her (Oh wait, did I ever care about her? Hmm, no, it's always been about DL and the kid). Although, I can't help but be intrigued by the old voodoo looking lady she dropped the kid off with (I'm still pulling for them to go to NYC, so that he can hang out with Molly, since we could totally see the sparks of young love flying).

Let's see, the pretty boy who can fly is going from kind of potentially cool, to totally lame. Not only does he repeat a power, but he repeats it with really weak special effects. I liked Claire's last boy toy a lot more. In other news, still no Kristen Bell. I just keep waiting...and waiting.

Hiro continues to allow himself to be distracted by a pretty face in the distant past, so that story doesn't seem to be progressing. I'm still waiting for Hiro to face down a dinosaur, since that would just be awesome. Otherwise, he's kind of disappointing me.

Which brings us to the two characters that matter. Peter Patrelli and Sylar. First off, I'm struggling to get over Peter's hair. It makes him look so militant. I liked it a lot more last season. Also, in all honesty, no one needs the most powerful mutant in existence right now, so he can go around helping Irish people rob each other and I don't mind. He'll get back to saving the world, I just know it.

And, Sylar. Poor Sylar. People really make a lot of effort to keep him alive. I'm always amazed by that. I swear, no one else gets nearly as much care (DL, would be a case in point, except that he's black so no one's really surprised they got rid of him). But, whatever, Sylar's okay. Now the question on all our minds can only be: is he still in the illusion? I think yes, which is why he still can't use his powers. Or, maybe he is on an isolated island for unknown reasons and also with really lazy special effects. Jeez, guys, what's the deal with the weak effects? I'm not asking for much, just for the trees not to look painted (poorly).

So, yeah, we're still waiting to really find out where they're going with this (the whole, who is hunting down the old heroes line is totally boring since the total number of living, likable old heroes is pretty darn close to zero, unless they want to start adding characters, which they probably do, now that I think about it). I'm all for killing off the useless old people who tried to cause all those problems last season, anyways. And bring back Christopher Eccleston, because he is awesome, and obviously he's hurting for work, since he was in that The Dark is Rising movie.

Highlight so far: Peter Patrelli. All the time.


So, I admit, I'm starting to warm up to it. Is it illogical? Probably. Is it intelligent? Not really. Is it challenging? Not yet. Are the characters particularly likable? No, definitely not. You know what other show I watch that fits those descriptions? That would be Battlestar Galactica. At least it thinks it's challenging. And it has Adama. On the other hand, Journeyman has Moon Bloodgood (possibly the most ridiculously awesome name for a female of all time). To which BSG would respond with Grace Park, and then Journeyman would bow down to the victor and commit seppuku, but that's not the point.

Now, I guess, we know that Moon (have I mentioned that name is awesome) has the same power as Dan (the protagonist), and so she did not die when everyone assumed she did. Instead, she's been going around through time for the last, long while. Now that he's traveling too, they can be buddies (right...buddies...yeah). I'm still waiting for her to be useful during one of the trips, but that's probably asking too much.

Anyways, I have one primary problem with the show. Dan thinks he can do it! He seriously thinks he can hold his life together and randomly disappear, for hours, days at a time. I mean, if that isn't a self delusion, I don't know what is. Luckily, he has the writers on his side, because if there wasn't that chain tying him to the present, then this show would be even more derivative than it already is.

Is it bad that I want him to just give up on the present? Become a hero and dedicate whatever is left of that hopeless life to helping the people that some mysterious higher power has decided are worth more than your own life (and, eventually become completely depressed by the futility of it all, and disappear into the ether or finish the tasks and be allowed to regain control of your destiny).

Personally, I have to say that easily the most interesting part of the show, now, is his interactions with Moon. Since this whole time traveling thing is the only reason she gets to be alive at all (if you want to be kind enough to call it living, which is generous considering that your life is really just making sure others live), I hope to find her outlook interesting.

So far, she's just disappointed that the woman he married instead of her is, like, an order of magnitude less hot and also more annoying. Although, I think I'd be kind of pissed about that too. It's like finding out that this person you were able to impress actually has no standards at all, and then wondering if maybe you were as bad as this new person and you just didn't know it (or maybe you were even worse).

So, yeah, I'm still watching. I'm not totally sure why. The longer he goes while still holding onto the life that is running through his fingers, the more frustrated I'll get, and maybe I'll finally give up, but not yet.

Highlight so far: Dan's wife finding the watch he give Moon in his jacket pocket. I couldn't help but smile (even though I had seen him forget his jacket where she could search it, and so knew she would find it). What can I say, I'm a terrible person.

That is all.