TV: iZombie Recovers, Lucifer Falters, Lost in Space Disappoints

Lately there’s been an unusual excess of sci-fi and fantasy TV for me to watch. Unfortunately, it hasn’t all turned out to be must-see television, but it has been interesting enough for me to have a few thoughts to share.

"Brother Love" (Robert Knepper) in iZombie season four(Un)Life in New Seattle:

I went into season four of iZombie with a fair bit of trepidation. While season three impressed out of the gate, over time it began to flag badly. The plot was extremely over-complicated and confusing, and most of the characters ended up going in dark directions that I didn’t care for. I was worried the show was losing its mojo.

However, I am pleased to report that, with only a few episodes left, season four has been kicking all of the ass.

iZombie is now a very different series from when it started. It’s gone from a very simple, lighthearted show with a very small focus to a much more intense drama where the very fate of humanity may hang in the balance.

It’s a big adjustment, but I deeply admire the writers for being courageous enough to shake things up so much, and for the most part, it’s paid off. Season four of iZombie still maintains much of the quirky charm and off the walls humour that made us all fall in love with the series, but it’s now a bigger, more powerful story as well.

I was initially skeptical of the show’s continued reliance on the case of the week formula — it was one of the things that dragged season three down — but they’ve mostly done a good job of making the cases tie into the greater narrative, and they haven’t been afraid to buck the formula when the situation calls for it.

The cast of iZombieSimilarly, I didn’t at first enjoy the idea of bringing Angus back into the story, as it felt like his plot had been pretty conclusively wrapped up, but “Brother Love” has became one of the most spectacularly creepy yet gripping aspects of the series to date.

My one big complaint would be that the season’s attempts at social commentary have largely fallen flat. The conflict between zombies and humans is clearly intended to echo real world prejudices, but real world minorities aren’t an existential threat to the human race, whereas zombies are, so the anti-zombie perspective ends up far more sympathetic than the writers seem to want. Any message of tolerance is lost in translation.

It also feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity not to revisit Liv’s estranged family now that the zombified cat is out of the bag and they (presumably) know why she couldn’t save her brother, but it’s already such a packed season I can understand why they haven’t tried to cram that in on top of everything else.

Aside from that, season four of iZombie has been nearly flawless.

I was pleased to see the show has already been renewed for a final season. Even before the announcement, I was thinking to myself that the story seemed to have about one season left in it, so I think this will work out well.

Hell fallen:

On the other hand, Lucifer’s third season ended up being mostly a disappointment. It started out okay, and it had some good ideas, but a number of missteps dragged it down.

The official logo for the TV series LuciferFor one, it focused far too much on relationship angst. The conflict between Linda and Maze was utterly unnecessary, and the love triangle at the heart of the season was just terrible.

I hate love triangles at the best of times, and this one was made worse by how uninteresting Chloe continues to be. For a romantic arc to work, the love interest has to be appealing to the viewer, but Chloe just isn’t appealing at all. She’s dull, wooden, and lifeless. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be with her, let alone why two immortals would end up competing over her.

Also, the case of the week formula began to really bog things down. It’s always been the weakest element of Lucifer, but rather than de-emphasizing it as iZombie wisely has, Lucifer clung to it with an incredible fervour.

It became painfully predictable. Each week, a new murder where there’s no relevance to the meta-plot, the true culprit is blindingly obvious, and Lucifer makes it all about him in an incredibly childish manner.

Lucifer’s immature ways were amusing for a time, but by now, I was expecting the character to have evolved. Even a show as silly as Lucifer needs some character development.

Lucifer with his renewed wings in season threeHe does finally grow a bit by the end of the season, but only after a truly painful expanse of episodes where the series pretty much just chased its tail.

The frustrating thing is that season three had a lot going for it. “The Sinner Man” was a very interesting villain, and his arc had some memorable twists. There was potential there. Charlotte’s storyline this season was nothing short of brilliant, but it got largely ignored in favour of the petty angst that defined so much of season three.

Sadly, Lucifer has now been cancelled, which means season three may well be its last, barring a miracle pick-up by Netflix or some other network. Despite my criticism of season three, I would like to see it continue. As iZombie illustrates, one bad season doesn’t necessarily spell doom for a show, and the ending of season three did look set to move the show in a fresh direction.

Doldrums, Will Robinson:

Going in, I heard a lot of good buzz around Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot from people whom I respect. Therefore I was quite surprised by how boring it turned out to be.

I mean, it’s not terrible. I’ll probably watch the second season (which is already confirmed). But I can’t say I’m impressed.

For one thing, it is, to be blunt, pretty dumb at times. I never fully recovered from the brain-achingly silly pilot.

The robot and the Robinson children in Netflix's Lost in Space rebootSeriously, guys, that’s not how ice works. At all. I don’t expect a lot of realism from my sci-fi, but when you’re screwing up something you could have tested in your home refrigerator…

The biggest problem, though, is that none of the characters feel real. Dr. Smith is so cartoonishly evil she seem ends up feeling more ridiculous than sinister. The rest of the cast (with one exception) is little better. They all feel forced and unreal.

I also thought the plot was undermined by how much of the show’s drama is dependent on the incompetence of the Robinson children (especially Will, who is just terrible on every level). Either they’re superhuman wiz kids who can serve as part of a deep space exploration mission, or they’re just kids who make mistakes, in which case they have no place on a mission like this. You can’t have it both ways, but that’s exactly what Lost in Space tries to do.

The only strong mark in the show’s favour — aside from the admittedly amazing production values — is Penny, who is awesome. Alone among all the cast, she feels like a real person. She acts pretty much exactly how I would expect a teenage girl to act. She’s precocious, but not superhuman, and relatable in a way the other children aren’t.

And her snark is delightful.

As I said, I’ll probably return for season two, but for me Lost in Space is very much in the “I’m watching this because there’s nothing better to do” category.

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Superior Realities Sixth Anniversary: Reflections

Six years have now past since the first post appeared on Superior Realities. Time flies when you’re yelling at Blizzard, I suppose.

The Greatest City in the WorldIn some ways it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but in others it feels like a lifetime. I was still writing Dispatches from the Romulan War when this blog started, for crying out loud.

When the blog started, I lived in Toronto, then I moved to the country for a few years, then I moved back to the city. Seems like rather a lot of effort just to move from the west end to the east end.

I still miss Parkdale. My new neighbourhood is nice, too, but that’s the problem. It’s too nice. I’ve been here for going on two years now, and I’m still waiting to get the bum’s rush. I don’t fit in here.

I try to visit Parkdale as often as possible. I feel like I belong there. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I’m not the weirdest person around.

When I lived in Toronto the first time, I lived with my father and a couple cats. Now that I’ve returned, I live alone with many books but no cats.

When the blog began, freelance writing was still some new and exciting adventure I was embarking upon. Now it’s just old hat.

Looks pretty in the picture, but it's really a miserable placeI’ve written… three novels since this blog started. I think. Three or four. Of course only one of them (Human Again) has seen the light of day so far. I’ve also written who knows how many short stories in that time.

Six years ago, I had hair. I should really update that profile picture at some point. Male pattern baldness can suck it, by the way.

When the site launched, I was a huge Metric fan, and now I’m a huge Metric fan who’s shaken Emily’s hand (best day ever). I’m also now a huge Chvrches fan, but I haven’t shaken Lauren’s hand.

When Superior Realities began, I was still in the process of re-entering the gaming world. Of course I’d been playing WoW for a while by then and had also played StarCraft II and maybe one or two other things, but I was still a bit out of the loop on the industry as a whole.

Since then I’ve broadened my horizons considerably. I eventually got around to most if not all of the games I missed out on during my teen years and embraced many modern classics, as well as a few more obscure titles. I hated Bioware for a while, then I kind of liked them, then I loved them, then I think I hated them again for a bit, and now I’m just generally confused.

They had real winters up there. That's somethingI’ve blogged through four WoW expansions, the rise and fall of my passion for Guild Wars 2, and my totally unexpected dive into Star Wars: The Old Republic. I fell in love with The Secret World, and now I’ve had to cope with its inglorious collapse. In general I’ve created enough MMO characters to form an entire battalion, and like half of them are named Maigraith.

I’ve mourned the cancellations of Defiance and Sanctuary, and I’ve fallen in love with Continuum, Dark Matter, and iZombie. I’ve reviewed some very good movies, and also Immortals.

It has been suggested I should take this opportunity to examine whether I’ve achieved my goals for the blog, to which I can only say… maybe? I guess?

Honestly I’m kind of losing sight of what the point was originally supposed to be. Nowadays blogging is just part of my routine; it’s not something I think a lot about. Just an excuse to run my mouth (figuratively speaking) without anyone trying to change the subject on me like they usually do.

I’m mostly happy with the traffic I get, though of course it’d always be nice to get more, and I do get a decent amount of attention within the greater community, so that’s nice.

Best day ever

Shake your head, it’s empty…

I will confess that I wish I got more comments, though. Figure pretty much every blogger wishes they got more comments, and compared to the handful of blogs I follow, I seem to get less comments than most. Not sure why this is, but I imagine it’s some combination of my terrible opinions, my long-winded endurance test of a writing style, and my cantankerous personality.

Of course, reflecting on the past also invariably leads one to pondering the future. For the most part, I suppose it will continue to be steady as she goes for Superior Realities for the immediate future.

I’m always mulling ideas for new types of content, but I dismiss almost all of them.

There’s often the temptation to expand beyond my relatively narrow sci-fi/fantasy/video game focus (the lack of Simpsons content on this blog saddens me sometimes), but at the same time I think there’s something to be said for keeping a clear vision for the site. I like the idea that my readers know what they’re getting: angry nerd rants and Elves.

I’ve thought about doing a series on various songs that I use for inspiration when writing fiction, but most people’s ears start bleeding when confronted with my musical taste.

I could also probably get a lot more posts out of the head canon and backstories for my video game characters, but my previous posts on that subject have the dubious distinction of being the least popular posts I’ve ever done by every available metric, so I probably won’t bother with that.

To winter I belongI tried my hand at video content recently, and there’s some temptation to do more of that, but it’s another thing that didn’t get much reaction. Plus I’m not sure I can bring anything to the table that the legions of YouTubers out there aren’t already covering, and I definitely have a voice for text (which is like a face for the radio, kind of).

I’m also often tempted to post more of my fiction and thoughts related to it on the blog, but again, such posts never seem to generate much interest, so I’m kind of gravitating away from that at this point.

Seriously, if you ever feel like doing me a favour, go read some of my stories and leave feedback. I don’t mind criticism as long as it’s constructive. I’m particularly interested in opinions on The Wounding and Lady of the Dawn, as that setting is very important to me, but In Her Sister’s Pose is probably the best thing I’ve written as far as short fiction goes.

Anyway, if any of these ideas sound like they’d interest you, or if you there’s something else you’d like to me to do with the blog, let me know, but otherwise it’s probably going to be status quo for the time being. There is many a Warcraft rant yet to be written.

In closing, I would like to thank my readers for sticking with me all this time. Be seeing you, sweetlings.

In the half-light.