Star Trek: Discovery Poster & Trailers

A whole slew of tidbits and sneak peeks for the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery were unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con, including this GORGEOUS poster:

Tor com SDCC star-trek-discovery-poster

The official trailer was also released at the con:

Star Trek: Discovery – Official Trailer by Star Trek

It adds nicely to the first teaser trailer:

Star Trek: Discovery – First Look Trailer by Star Trek

I am getting chills every time I see either—definitely looking forward to Discovery! Who knows, it may even replace Deep Space Nine as my favorite Star Trek franchise.

Image: CBS via Tor.com

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Rating: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Season 1

Our rewatching-and-rating project has moved on to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a delightful Australian series about a flamboyant flapper detective from the roaring 1920s, based on the novels by Kerry Greenwood. We don’t get a lot of Australian tv on this side of the world, but Miss Fisher is a treat from beginning to end. The first season is the best-rating season of anything we’ve watched so far. (For an explanation of our rating system, see here.)

Here’s our ratings for the first season’s episodes:

  1. “Cocaine Blues” – 9
  2. “Murder on the Ballarat Train” – 8
  3. “The Green Mill Murder” – 8
  4. “Death at Victoria Dock” – 8
  5. “Raisins and Almonds” – 8.5
  6. “Ruddy Gor” – 7.5
  7. “Murder in Montparnasse” – 6
  8. “Away with the Fairies” – 7.5
  9. “Queen of the Flowers” – 7
  10. “Death by Miss Adventure” – 9
  11. “Blood and Circuses” – 5.5
  12. “Murder in the Dark” – 7
  13. “King Memses’ Curse” – 5

There are so many things to love about this series, from the wonderful characters to complicated mysteries. It explores both the Jazz-Age high life of the post-WWI bright young things and the workaday world of early-twentieth-century Melbournites. The main character, sparklingly played by Essie Davis, is always entertaining and she’s surrounded by an excellent supporting cast.

The average rating for this season is 7.4, which is a fantastic way to start. Most of this season’s episodes are good to excellent, with only a couple that come in a little underwhelming. The lowest of the season is the final episode, “King Memses’ Curse,” which is just a rather uninspired serial killer story. The entertainment industry loves its serial killers—especially, like this one, those that have an irrational obsession with the hero—but we’re just tired of the trope.

Fortunately, we have a couple of 9s tied for best episode to balance out the lackluster ones. The first episode, “Cocaine Blues,” starts things off with a bang, sending Miss Fisher into a murder investigation that leads to cocaine smuggling and a back-alley abortionist. Many of our favorite characters get introduced here: Miss Fisher’s timid but trusty companion Dot, the acerbic Doctor Mac, the sweet-natured Constable Collins, and Inspector Jack Robinson, who, though often aggravated by Miss Fisher’s insistence on thrusting herself into his investigations, also learns to value her input. The other 9 is “Death by Miss Adventure,” about a mysterious death in a factory which reveals many layers of intrigue and skullduggery. This episode gives Dot a chance to go undercover and also delves in Doctor Mac’s life in more detail.

You could hardly ask for a better first season!

Any Miss Fisher fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

Image: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Rating: Leverage, Season 5

We’ve been rewatching and rating Leverage and we’ve gotten up through season 4. (For more on how our rating system works, see here, which also covers season 1 of Leverage.) Here’s what we thought.

  1. “The (Very) Big Bird Job” – 6
  2. “The Blue Line Job” – 4
  3. “The First Contact Job” – 10
  4. “The French Connection Job” – 8
  5. “The Gimme a K Street Job” – 4
  6. “The D. B. Cooper Job” – 1.5
  7. “The Real Fake Job” – 6
  8. “The Broken Wing Job” – 10
  9. “The Rundown Job” – 10
  10. “The Frame-Up Job” – 9
  11. “The Low Low Price Job” – 8
  12. “The White Rabbit Job” – 3
  13. “The Corkscrew Job” – 6
  14. “The Toy Job” – 5
  15. “The Long Good-bye Job” – 9

Leverage goes out on a high note with an average rating of 6.6 for its final season, a small step up from 6.4 for season 4 and the best of any season. There are a mix of better and worse episodes this season, including a couple of real duds, but there’s a slew of 9s and 10s that just sparkle. This season has a mix of traditional con procedurals and more ambitious episodes that break out of the formula. The best episodes include both perfectly executed traditional grift stories and some of the more unusual attempts. The effort to do something different doesn’t always pay off, though, and this season’s failures are some of the episodes that stray farthest from the formula.

The absolute worst of the season—and in the running for worst of the entire series—is “The D. B. Cooper Job,” at 1.5, which, like season 4’s “The Van Gogh Job” is mostly about other characters played by the main cast, this time reinventing the story of skyjacker D. B. Cooper. While “The Van Gogh Job” had the advantage of a charming, if sad, love story, “The D. B. Cooper Job” is just a whole lotta brooding white guys being emotionally unavailable and stuff, which is pretty much the last thing we need more of on tv. Dishonorable mention also goes to “The White Rabbit Job,” at 3, which tries to do an Inception and seriously fails to pull it off.

Happily, we have three standouts tied for best of the season at a full 10 points. “The First Contact Job” is a kooky X-Files riff with a faked alien contact and tons of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi geek humor. “The Broken Wing Job” is a solo adventure for Parker (our favorite character!) which challenges her to figure out how to do the work of the whole team while recovering from a broken leg. Watching Beth Riesgraf play the whole range of Parker’s emotions from climbing-the-walls stir-crazy to oh-no-you-don’t-hurt-my-friend badass is a sheer delight. Finally, “The Rundown Job” trades in the series’ usual quirky humor for an action-packed bioterror thriller in Washington D. C. with just Parker, Hardison and Eliot (our three favorite characters!).

And that’s Leverage! A lot of good episodes and great characters. Well worth a rewatch!

Any Leverage fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Rating: Leverage, season 4

We’ve been rewatching and rating Leverage and we’ve gotten up through season 4. (For more on how our rating system works, see here, which also covers season 1 of Leverage.) Here’s what we thought.

Leverage, season 4

  1. “The Long Way Down Job” – 5
  2. “The 10 Li’l Grifters Job” – 3
  3. “The 15 Minutes Job” – 8
  4. “The Van Gogh Job” – 6
  5. “The Hot Potato Job” – 10
  6. “The Carnival Job” – 5.5
  7. “The Grave Danger Job” – 8
  8. “The Boiler Room Job” – 10
  9. “The Cross My Heart Job” – 8.5
  10. “The Queen’s Gambit Job” – 4
  11. “The Experimental Job” – 8
  12. “The Office Job” – 1.5
  13. “The Girls’ Night Out Job” – 8.5
  14. “The Boys’ Night Out Job” – 6
  15. “The Lonely Hearts Job” – 6.5
  16. “The Gold Job” – 7
  17. “The Radio Job” – 4
  18. “The Last Dam Job” – 6

Leverage makes a jump in this season from last season’s average of 5.6 to 6.4. Despite a few poorly-performing episodes dragging down the average, there are a lot of gems this season that show off the skill of the writing team and the versatility of the cast. This season’s episodes continue to experiment with the form, such as “The 10 Li’l Grifters Job,” a Christie-esque murder mystery, the parallel stories of “The Girls’ Night Out Job” and “The Boys’ Night Out Job,” and “The Office Job,” which is just The Office with our heroes blundering around in it. Some of these efforts pay off; others, not so much.

The worst episode of the season is “The Office Job” at just 1.5. Maybe if you’re a fan of The Office you’ll enjoy this, but we’re not, and it just doesn’t work as a Leverage episode. “The 10 Li’l Grifters Job,” “The Queen’s Gambit Job,” and “The Radio Job” don’t work very well as episodes, but they all have their moments. Like last season, season 4 also has another half-hearted attempt at an arc which really isn’t worth the trouble the writers went to in setting it up.

On the other hand, we get two brilliant 10s out of this season: “The Hot Potato Job,” in which the crew rescues a bio-engineered super potato from an evil agri-corp, and “The Boiler Room Job,” in which our heroes have to figure out how to scam a scammer who knows all the scams in the book. Both of these episodes pit the characters against formidably smart adversaries who keep them on their toes. Besides these two, there’s also a good selection of 8s and 8.5s

There’s also an oddity this season: “The Van Gogh Job,” which we rated a 6. The two of us usually give episodes pretty close to the same rating, so when an episode rates a 6, that usually means we both gave it a 3 on our scale of 1 to 5. For this episode, though, we were poles apart: one 5 (because it’s a powerful emotional story that lets the main cast show off their range by playing entirely new characters) and one 1 (because it’s just not a Leverage story and there’s no con to watch unfold).

Any Leverage fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

Image: Leverage cast via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Star Trek and Conflict

The word went out last week that Star Trek: Discovery will be ditching one of the long-standing rules of the franchise: that the main crew must not have conflicts with each other.

Good!

This rule has not only been an impediment to Star Trek‘s story-telling but represents a misunderstanding of Gene Roddenberry’s original hopeful vision for the future. Unfortunately, it is a misunderstanding perpetrated by Roddenberry himself, in his later years.

Star Trek has always been at its best when it embraced conflict among the crew. What is important is that those conflicts arise because different members of the crew honestly represent different points of view, not because they are driven by pettiness, jealousy, spite, greed, or other base instincts. The vision of Star Trek is that human conflicts driven by these basic flaws are unimportant distractions that we can overcome. When we achieve that, it doesn’t mean that we stop having conflicts, it just means that we can get down to the ones that actually mean something. We can argue passionately for our own points of view without devolving into petty sniping and backstabbing. We can disagree with someone else’s ideas and still respect and work with them.

This is why Deep Space Nine has always been my favorite version of Star Trek. It shows us characters who strongly disagree with each other, even to the point of yelling and storming out of rooms, but who still respect one another and work as a team. Their conflicts don’t get resolved at the end of the episode with one side proven right and the other wrong, because the conflicts that really matter are the ones that have no simple resolution. Exploring those kinds of conflicts is what Star Trek is about. It is why we have Star Trek. It is what Star Trek does.

If Discovery is going to give us more of that, then I couldn’t be happier. In these days of internet flame wars and political absolutism, the idea that we can argue about things that matter and still work together as a crew to escape the mysterious space energy field of the week is utopian enough for me.

Images: “Damn it, Spock” via Imgur. “No, but it is interesting” via Giphy. Sisko and Kira via Star Trek Gifs.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Rating: Leverage, Season 3

We’ve been rewatching and rating Leverage and we’re through season 3. (For more on how our rating system works, see here, which also covers season 1 of Leverage.) Here’s how the season looks to us.

Leverage, season 3

  1. “The Jailhouse Job” – 4.5
  2. “The Reunion Job” – 5
  3. “The Inside Job” – 7
  4. “The Scheherazade Job” – 4
  5. “The Double-Blind Job” – 5.5
  6. “The Studio Job” – 5.5
  7. “The Gone-Fishin’ Job” – 7
  8. “The Boost Job” – 5.5
  9. “The Three-Card Monte Job” – 1
  10. “The Underground Job” – 6
  11. “The Rashomon Job” – 8
  12. “The King George Job” – 7.5
  13. “The Morning After Job” – 4.5
  14. “The Ho, Ho, Ho Job” – 8
  15. “The Big Bang Job” – 4.5
  16. “The San Lorenzo Job” – 6

Season 3 has a lot of decent but not excellent episodes in the 4-6 range, but the average for the season is brought down to 5.6 (just a hint below season 2’s 5.7) by one real stinker.

To get the bad stuff out of the way first: “The Three-Card Monte Job” is the season’s worst episode and only total bomb. It’s a story about a father and son who have a bad relationship and are bad at communicating with each other. Snore. We are so, so over father-son angst. Even a few clever on-the-spot caper bits by the team can’t save this episode. This season also includes a half-hearted attempt at an arc which never really pays off, but at least it doesn’t get in the way of the usual heists and capers too badly.

On the other hand, we have two solid episodes tied for best of the season at 8. “The Rashomon Job” is a sparklingly clever take on the heist genre as the main characters all recount, from their own perspectives, how once, before they all started working together, they were all after the same priceless work of art at the same time. The main cast really shines in this one as they get to play out different versions of the same scene, and so does John Billingsley in a brilliant guest performance. “The Ho, Ho, Ho Job” is a feel-good Christmas episode that also features the return of Wil Wheaton’s pain-in-the-ass hacker Kaos. There are lovely character bits in this episode, too, including Parker’s childlike love of Christmas and Elliot playing the grumpiest Santa Claus ever.

Any Leverage fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

Image: Leverage cast via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

1899 Beer Fridge as Inspiration for Morgue Fridge in Murdoch Mysteries?

One recent introduction in our tv diet is Canadian detective fiction series Murdoch Mysteries. It’s based on novels by Maureen Jennings and set in Toronto during the 1890s and early 1900s. The series includes historical characters (Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman and others), inventions (fingerprinting), and events (the Great Fire of 1904 in season 10) in their fictitious plots, and often hints at or spoofs future phenomena (telefax, sonar, Area 51).

Although not without issues, Murdoch is fun and interesting in its approach to history. Even if the Victorian era hasn’t ever really been my cup of tea, the production manages to make the era feel alive, not stuffy or staid.

And while I know just barely enough of Victoriana to say that feature X in Dr. Ogden’s dresses looks a little odd, or feature Y on that building appears historical, most of the time I’m guessing. It’s therefore nice to run into a historical detail that looks to have informed elements on the set, like this beer refrigerator from 1899:

Smithsonian Mace et Co Beer Fridge 1899

The image comes from a catalog of by L. H. Mace & Co. of New York, currently in the Smithsonian Libraries collections. (It’s also very interesting to note that this fridge was actally sold and marketed as a beer fridge, specifically.)

In the earlier Murdoch seasons, there used to be an ice cabinet for storing smaller body parts in addition to larger cadaver drawers. I don’t happen to have a screenshot handy, but fortunately the fridge appears in the background of a few random shots on the Internet: in the photo below, behind Dr. Julia Ogden and Detective Murdoch on the right…

Scannersuniverse ogden_and_murdoch_2

…and behind Dr. Emily Grace in the photo below:

Pinterest Murdoch Mysteries Dr Grace at Morgue

It looks almost identical to the L. H. Mace & Co. beer fridge. Really very, very cool!

It’s such a great detail it’s a shame that at some point when the set was re-decorated it seems not to have made the cut. I will have to try to get a better screenshot of it when we re-watch.

Images: A beer fridge from 1899 via The Smithsonian Institution on Tumblr; Dr. Julia Ogden and Detective Murdoch via Scannersuniverse; Dr. Grace via Pinterest

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Rating: Leverage, Season 2

We’ve been rewatching and rating Leverage and we’ve got season 2 under our belts now. (For more on how our rating system works, see here, which also covers season 1 of Leverage.) Here’s our take on the season.

Leverage, season 2

  1. “The Beantown Bailout” – 5.5
  2. “The Tap-Out Job” – 2.5
  3. “The Order 23 Job” – 6
  4. “The Fairy Godparents Job” – 4.5
  5. “The Three Days of the Hunter Job” – 8
  6. “The Top Hat Job” – 2
  7. “The Two Live Crew Job” – 8
  8. “The Ice Man Job” – 8
  9. “The Lost Heir Job” – 7
  10. “The Runway Job” – 5.5
  11. “The Bottle Job” – 5.5
  12. “The Zanzibar Marketplace Job” – 4
  13. “The Future Job” – 7
  14. “The Three Strikes Job” – 8
  15. “The Maltese Falcon Job” – 4

This season is a lot of highs and lows. Several weak episodes are balanced out by a number of strong ones. The average for the season is 5.7, which is respectable but a step down from season 1, which averaged just under 6. The show was finding its footing this season and striking out in some new directions, which sometimes paid off but other times just fell flat.

We have a four-way tie for the best episode, all at a solid 8. In “The Three Days of the Hunter Job” the team manufactures a government conspiracy in order to discredit a ruthless reporter. In “The Two Live Crew Job,” they compete with another team (featuring Wil Wheaton as a pain-in-the-ass hacker!) to steal a priceless painting. In “The Ice Man Job,” Hardison, the hacker, gets in over his head while trying to show that he can get out from behind the computer and do an in-person grift, and the rest of the team has to improvise a heist around him to get him out. In “The Three Strikes Job,” the whole team get in over their head as they get tangled up in a larger plot involving the mob, the FBI, and a corrupt mayor. All of these episodes play with the heist/con formula in interesting ways and give the actors a chance to stretch their wings and tackle something new. In these episodes, we really see the creative team’s willingness to tinker with the mechanics of the procedural format pay off well.

The lesser episodes of the season also show attempts to vary the formula, but they don’t come off as well. The worst of the season is “The Top Hat Job,” at only 2. In this episode, the heist is pretty simple and most of the screentime is taken up by the team’s distraction event: Nate, the most mediocre and uninteresting character on the team, putting on a mediocre and uninteresting magic show.

Any Leverage fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

Image: Leverage cast via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Rating: Leverage, Season 1

We like to watch tv together and we enjoy rewatching the best episodes of series we’ve seen before, but how do you remember which episodes were worth seeing again and which to skip? We came up with a solution to that problem: now when we watch a series, we rate each episode. Each of us gives each episode a rating from 0 to 5, like this:

  • 0 – Terrible, I never want to see it again.
  • 1 – Pretty bad, but had a few redeeming features
  • 2 – Not awful, but kind of lacking
  • 3 – Decent, solid, nothing special
  • 4 – Pretty good
  • 5 – Awesome!

(We also sometimes give half-points, so a 3.5 might be for an episode that is a little better than average.) Then we add our scores together to get a total rating from 0 to 10. We note this score down on a slip of paper that we keep with our discs. (We like to watch shows on disc. We’re old-fashioned like that.)

We often end up giving the same rating to an episode, so a rating of 6 usually means we both gave it a 3. Part of the fun of watching and rating is chatting about the episode afterwards to see how we both felt about it.

Now when we go back to rewatch a show we can decide what kind of mood we’re in. If we want to plow through everything—good, bad, and indifferent—we can. If we want to just skip the worst episodes, we can watch everything that rated above a 2. If we want only the good stuff, we can stick to 6 and above. If we only want the highlights, we can go for 8 and up. (Or straight to the tens.)

We recently finished rewatching and rating the first season of Leverage, an adventure/comedy show about a gang of thieves and con artists who decide to go straight(-ish) and start using their skills to take on wealthy criminals and evil corporations. Here’s how we felt about season 1.

The average of the ratings this season’s episodes is just under 6, which is respectable and pretty solid for the first season of a show.

The highest rating this season was an 8, for which two episodes tied. The first was the pilot, ep. 1 “The Nigerian Job,” about how the team all comes together for revenge on a corrupt executive who used them to steal a rival company’s plans and them sold them out. The other was ep. 8, “The Mile High Job,” in which the team stumbles into an attempted murder on an airplane and has to improvise their way through to keep the target safe. Both of these episodes give all of the characters plenty of time to shine and throw lots of interesting problems in their way for them to solve.

Our lowest-rated episode this season was only a 3, ep. 11 “The Juror #6 Job,” in which Parker, the team’s not-exactly-social thief, finds herself doing jury duty under one of her aliases. We found the case uninspiring and the character interactions a little icky.

Our full ratings:

Leverage, season 1

  1. “The Nigerian Job” – 8
  2. “The Homecoming Job” – 6
  3. “The Two Horse Job” – 7
  4. “The Miracle Job” – 5
  5. “The Bank Shot Job” – 5.5
  6. “The Stork Job” – 4.5
  7. “The Wedding Job” – 5
  8. “The Mile High Job” – 8
  9. “The Snow Job” – 6
  10. “The 12-Step Job” – 7.5
  11. “The Juror #6 Job” – 3
  12. “The First David Job” – 5
  13. “The Second David Job” – 7

Any Leverage fans out there want to weigh in? Got a different pick for the best or worst episodes of the season? Let us know in the comments!

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.