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April 19 2017 4 19 /04 /April /2017 15:00

Also today "Together" by Jonathan and Charlotte is a strong piece of modern-classical-musicAbout 4 years ago, in 2013, I stumbled upon the young British popera-duo "Jonathan & Charlotte" (this is Jonathan Antoine and Charlotte Jaconelli). Shortly thereafter I wrote a blog-entry about them.
1 year later, in 2014, the duo broke-up then, whereat I wrote another post.

 

Both blog-entries have become and still today are big hits, especially the one about the split of Jonathan and Charlotte. At the time, I've promised a CD-review – and now I redeem this promise.

 

Who is not familiar with the two, should inform himself about them in my former blog-entries. So far only that much: Especially Jonathan has an incredibly good voice and as a duo the two have written casting-show history, because they remained faithful to themselves and to each other even in difficult situations.

The review of “Together”

"Together" is the Duos 1st CD, that appeared in 2012, the year when “Jonathan & Charlotte” made their great break-through in "Britain's Got Talent".

 

As in the show and the successful songs they presented there, they sing almost everything in Italian.
And the majority of their songs are "italianised" and "classicalised" cover-versions of successful pop-songs.

 

So let's get into medias res and review every track of the CD indivdually in ascending order:

  1. The Prayer
    “THE” classic-track of Jonathan and Charlotte with that they have made their breakthrough at the audition and won the 2nd place in the show's final.
    Beautiful song in a very successful version. The voices of the two just do well fit for this song.
    And the final touch is the vocal-support of the men's choir "Only boy in a loud", that ranked on 3rd place behind the duo in “Britain's got talent” 2012.

     

  2. Caruso
    For me the best song of the two. In terms of composition very good and tailor-made for Jonathan and Charlotte. Each of them attains top-form and in addition they also perfectly harmonise with each other.

     

  3. Vero Amore (Cover of Elton John's „Your Song“)
    Workmanlike very good as well, but I definitely prefers Sir Elton John's original-version.

     

  4. Ave Maria
    A classic of classical-music. Musically very well performed by the two, particularly Jonathan, the songs arrangement to me seems a bit cluttered.

     

  5. Forse (Unintended-Cover from Muse)
    In my eyes (or ears) by far the album's best cover-version. And not only that: I like "Forse" even better than the Muse-original.

     

  6. Il mondo nostro („Rule the World“ cover from „Take That“)
    To me less appealing, despite the well-established voices.

     

  7. Canto della Terra
    Also a classic of modern-classic. And from my point of view the best existing version of this song I know, even slightly better than Andrea Bocelli's.

     

  8. Ognuno Soffer (Cover von „Everybody Hurts“ von R.E.M)
    I quite like it and value the “classicalisation” suitable and well realised by J. & C.

     

  9. Chi Mai Vivrà Per Sempre (Queen-Cover of „Who Wants To Live Forever“ from the movie “Highlander”)
    To me very similar to the R.E.M-Cover, pretty good, also because this song is also well suited for a “classicalisation”.

     

  10. La Prima Volta („The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“, Cover von Robert Flack)
    For me the poorest song on this CD. But that depends on the original, which I also disliked white a lot, not on issues of the cover-version. As well as Jonathan and Charlotte, Celine Dion as well could not improve it in her version.

Bottom line

Everyone consindering to buy this CD should clearly understand, that you should like Italian singing and modern-classical music, specifically “classicalisations” of well-known pop-songs.

 

If this is the case, then “Together” for my part is a flawless recommendation.

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December 31 2016 7 31 /12 /December /2016 16:43

50 years of Star-Trek in television is a remarkable for the whole mankindOn 8th September 2016 time has come: Star-Trek – or how is it called in German „Raumschiff Enterprise (Starship Enterprise) has celebrated its 50th anniversary. On 08. September 1966 the series was primarily aired in the United States. And though I haven't managed making my tribute on time, on the anniversary-day – this I just did in German – I wanted to write it this year also in English at any costs before the anniversary-year is over.

 

But let's go into medias res:

After a very mediocre start and it's end in 1969 the series saw an enormous popularity-boost in the 1970s - and is until today one of the historically most important television-series ever.

 

Up to now beside 7 (soon 8) television-series and so far 13 cinema-movies many computer- & video-games, books, Internet-media as well as countless franchise-products were created.
And the effect of the unique phenomenon „Star Trek“ goes far beyond it's core-function as an entertainment product into almost all areas of life.

Star Trek TOS (The original series) – the old Enterprise

Actually, the series was supposed to start already in 1964, at the time a pilot-movie (The cage) was filmed with mostly different crew. Captain at that time was Christopher Pike, portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter. And Spock has played a rather minor role.

 

Since this concept was too intellectual and too little action-packed for TV-station NBC, the series creator Gene Roddenberry revised script and crew. In 1966 William Shatner got the role of Captain Kirk – and together with the Vulcan Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and ship's doctor Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) the core team of the series had been formed.

 

The series itself I see quite ambivalent.
On the one hand, it stands for values such as tolerance, openness for the New and enlightened spirit of research.
On the other hand at the same time also for 1960s- and Western-mentality: Hitting & shooting BEFORE thinking and a Captain, no woman can resist. In addition also the scripts are partial shallow, gappy and implausible.

 

However the series has great charm and appeal:
The blend of yearning for the space and for a positive future paired with moral values and action but also trashy elements are simply fascinating - as Mr. Spock would say.

Star Trek TNG (The Next Generation) – the new Enterprise

Although there 3 further ships with the name Enterprise and a round of 80 years between the Original Enterprise NCC-1701 and the NCC-1701-D, „Next Generation“ is the 2nd real series in the Star Trek universe.
The Next-Generation of 1987 in many aspects is different than the original series. And – in my eyes – in almost all respects better. It starts with the Captain: While predecessor Kirk is a swashbuckler and a womaniser, successor Picard is a mature intellectual and in addition for many people a moral-authority.

 

Generally TNG is very well done, thrilling, action-packed and morally demanding.
This great composition set a new benchmark hereafter created a boom of fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery) in the early to mid of 1990s and to me still belongs to the 3 best science-fiction-series ever.

Star Trek DS9 (Deep Space Nine) – dark, stationary and captivating

Even before the Next-Generation moved from television to cinema in 1994, in 1993 it's successor Deep-Space-Nine started. And trek-series number 3 kept the extremely high level of Picard and Co, but yet made a lot of things differently:

 

For the first time the Star played Trek not on a starship, but on a space-station. Commander Sisko was a single father. For the first time a big war was shown in the Star-Trek-universe and in general the whole series was set atmospheric dark

 

Still today particularly outstanding in DS9 are the many and well elaborated supporting-characters and especially the long, ample, interrelated story-arcs. Therefore, together with the TNG, and Babylon 5, to me it belongs to the 3 best all-time SF-series.

Star Trek VOY (Voyager) – far away from home

Due to the success particularly of Next-Generation, but also of Deep-Space-Nine, the studio Paramount in 1995 decided to start a 2nd trek-series, parallel to DS9. To prevent these 2 series, ongoing contemporaneously in the same serial-universe getting in each others way, the Voyager was „shipped“ to the other end of our galaxy, to the 75-years away delta-quadrant.

 

Voyager is definitely a good science-fiction-series that is atmospherically much brighter than Deep-Space-Nine and in many ways similar to Nex-Gen. Apart from some wear and tear – stories are told again, we already know from Star Trek – compared to TNG & DS9 it often is made in a rather lacklustre way.

 

Voyager initiated both, the peak of the Star-Trek-mania in 1996, but also it's big downturn around the year 2000. Nevertheless me just like many other fans definitely don't want to miss the 4th trek-series.

Star Trek ENT (Enterprise) – the vanguard as rearguard

After Star Trek's success significantly subsided in the Voyager-era, in 2001 the series creators decided to completely reboot the franchise. And so 5th series "Enterprise" (ENT) does no longer play in the 24th century like TNG, DS9 & VOY, but in the 22nd century about 100 years before the original Enterprise (TOS).

 

The series itself, similar to Voyager, achieved a good overall-level, is well made and exiting. Nevertheless it's unable taking it up with the best Star-Trek-series and quality is highly viable. In my opinion the series highlight is season no. 3, dealing for 1 whole year with the well elaborated Xindi story-arc.

 

Enterprise, among other issues, deserves criticism especially for it's partly violent and sometimes even unethical approach of it's characters – something for certain influenced by 9/11.

 

However, it is exciting to see what happened in Star Trek BEFORE the "United Federation of Planets" (UFP) creation.

Wrap-up to Star-Trek in television

I don't want to hide the fact, that in addition to the mentioned 5 series (with real people) with Star Trek TAS (The Animated Series) also a short-lived cartoon-series created in the 1970s exists.

 

After the true start in 1966 Star Trek has managed something that – with exception of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond – probably no other entertainment-product ever has: To remain popular for 50 years and to successfully continue its history in cinema as well as (again from 2017) in television.
And 100% deserves to be!

 

Star Trek is exciting, fascinating and at the same time morally and intellectually demanding. Thus all the best for the future, perhaps for another 50 years!

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June 8 2016 4 08 /06 /June /2016 22:45

Star-Trek celebrates 50th anniversary soon2016 is the year the first USS Enterprise-NCC and the entire Star-Trek-universe celebrate the ultimate anniversary: The probably most influential science-fiction-series ever gets 50 years old. And today it's exactly 3 months until anniversary-day.

 

And not enough the 50th anniversary:

With the 3rd movie of the current timeline, introduced by J.J.Abrams, and next year with an upcoming television-series on CBS really a lot is just happening in the trek-universe this years.

However, in 2016 I've posted not a single Blog entry yet.

 

But it's quite simple:

The 1st half of the year 2016 in terms of entertainment-issues I have focused on the "Life-on-Mars" and "Ashes to ashes" serial-universe.

In the 2nd half of the year however I will create 3-4 entries about Star-Trek:

  1. On 8th of September on the occasion of 50 years of Star-Trek, of course, an extensive appreciation of both, the original series wit Kirk & Spock as well as Star-Trek as a whole.

  2. Almost 2 weeks later, on 20th of September Trek series no. 5, Enterprise, celebrates its 15th anniversary.

  3. Then it is important to shed light on the different political aspects of Star Trek.

  4. And maybe I'll make another article, for example, about new series upcoming in 2017.

So, science-fiction-buddies and especially all Trekkies/Trekkers can look forward on some new content in my blog.

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May 25 2016 4 25 /05 /May /2016 22:55

BBC-series Ashes to Ashes making it's debut in the German-speaking Free-TV4 ½ months ago my favorite series of the 2000s celebrated its 10th anniversary: "Life on Mars" from the UK, named the same as the title track song from the great and unfortunately already deceased David Bowie.

"Life on Mars" has got a successor: The BBC-series "Ashes to Ashes", produced from 2008 to 2010 – and also with an epononymous Bowie-song with the same name.
And after it had been aired in German pay-TV-station „FOX“ 2013, now it finally is also aired in German free-TV.

"Ashes to Ashes" is about the police psychologist Alex Drake, who has investigated the death of Sam Tyler, the main-protagonist in the predecessor-serie „Life on Mars“ and the events, that happened to him.
And very similar to Sam after a nearly fatal accident (rather attempted murder) also she falls into a coma and finds herself in the same (apparent-)universe in the year 1981 again with the same people as Tyler.
And also she obviously has to do something specific there, connected to her parents death, which occured at that time.

Concretely „Ashes to Ashes“ is aired since 24th of May 2016, every Tuesday and Saturday at 22.25h and 00.05h on the fledgling station eoTV.
„eo“ stands for „european originals“. And the Station isn't just being called so, it exclusively aires European movies and TV-series.
And anyone who isn't able or doesn't want to watch the episodes live, for example has the option to re-watch them in the media-library on demand for a couple of weeks.

True to the Motto "better late than never" to me it's a great thing that this – probably also great – European series is now also available here in the „German-speaking world“. And for certain I'm going to watch it with pleasure!

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April 30 2016 7 30 /04 /April /2016 22:55

Starsky & Hutch - 41 years after it's debut still a great seriesExactly 1 year ago, the two 70s cops Starsky & Hutch have celebrated the series 40th anniversary. And this "birthday" for me was the reason paying tribute to this ground-breaking television series with a big anniversary-article.

 

Interestingly, when it comes to reader's interest, my English anniversary-appreciation was a pretty big hit, while the German version unfortunately was performing only modestly. A clear indication, that these 2 unusual 1970s policemen are especially popular in anglo-saxon-countries.

 

The 41st anniversary however is a very good opportunity for me drawing attention on my last years blog entry as well as to the series itself once again - and of course to advertise for it.

David "Dave" Starsky and Kenneth "Ken" Hutchinson have written television history and were a prototype for the storytelling of more sophisticated and successful series of the recent past and present, above all of Navy CIS (NCIS).

 

2015 and 2016 (in the German-speaking countries) it was shown again by RTL-Nitro and of course I watched it once again.The big anniversary perfectyl coincided with an extended period of me non-watching Starsky and Hutch.
An I really enjoyed re-watching!
 
 
Currently the series is not running in German-language television - but probably somewhere else. And when there is an opportunity to watch it, then I warmly recommend doing so - especially to all crime-series and 70s-fans.

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April 8 2016 6 08 /04 /April /2016 15:00

In the internet, April-Fool-Jokes can have negative side-effectsApril-Fool-Jokes have a centuries old tradition, the term as such already exists since the 19th century. And of course I know this tradition since my childhood – and in recent years I have also regularly fallen into it. But no more so around the last 20 years.

Also earlier on April-Fools have been made not only in personal contact but also in newspapers and magazines. But that was a completely different quality as if they are made in the online-sphere.

 

Why?
Because April-Fools in the print-area and even more of course personally are made in a timely manner and then disappear into the vastness of personal memories or in a media-archive.
In the online-space, however these articles mostly remain indefinitely available.
And worst of all, even available by search-engines.

 

This actually were still not really bad - if the joke-makers would do something, that they so far do almost never: Distinctly labelling the joke as such after 1st of April

This labelling would help, identifying these special articles as jokes, even if you don't watch the date of an article's publication like a hawk. That way also online-media could continue their April-Fool-Jokes and users would no more very unfunny mislead far after 1st of April with misinformation.

 

Dear online-media:
Get your act together and make it so! We need fun as well as we need serious information!

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January 9 2016 7 09 /01 /January /2016 23:30

"Life on Mars" also after 10 years is a brilliant TV-seriesI have made several reminiscences to good television-series, but so far never for one newer than 15 years. "Life on Mars" however is something special, to me the best series of the 2000s in several ways:

  • It is not a series from the USA but from the UK.

  • It takes place in the not-too-long-ago past, in the year 1973.

  • Although it is predominantly a realistic series, at the same time it also offers science-fiction and mystery elements.

  • The British actors are – probably to almost all non-British people – unknown, but really good.

"Life on Mars" is just different than other series in a very special way - and that makes the fascination.

In the German-speaking countries, the series only celebrates its 9-year anniversary in 1 month, but nevertheless I think it is appropriate to celebrate the BBC's first broadcast.

Setting and plot

The professional policeman Sam Tyler from Manchester in the year 2006 together with his colleague and girl-friend Maya chase a serial-killer. Investigations get nowhere until Maya pursuer a hot lead when she gets kidnapped – obviously by the offender. Sam is desperate. But as this weren't bad enough, he got hit by a car, obviously badly injured and loses consciousness. When he wakes up he suddenly finds himself in the Manchester of 1973.

And there almost everything is different than in 2006:

  • Police in 1973 works, both technically and methodologically, still in a very unprofessional way. This is very hard for Sam and he feels like on a different planet - hence the title of the series.

  • Sam is not DCI (Detective Chief Inspector = team leader), but DI (Detective Inspector = Deputy team leader).

  • His boss there, Gene Hunt, is the anti-thesis to Tyler:
    Impulsive rather than prudent, aggressive instead of cautious, intuitive rather than analytical.
    And directives to him are no more than non-binding recommendations.

  • Also his other colleagues run in the same vein as Hunt.
    Big exception is the parking-warden Annie Cartwright, who is being transferred to the CID (criminal-investigation-department) briefly after Sam's arrival and is Sam's best friend and only confidant.

But just as problematic cooperation especially with his boss Hunt is on one hand, on the other hand it works really well: The two perfectly complement each other in terms of their skills and provide plenty of exciting and entertaining moments.

At the beginning it's totally unclear what's going on with Sam:

Is he in a coma or he is dreaming? Has he made a journey through time, or is he in some sort of parallel universe? Does he maybe live in the 1970s and only has formed life in 2006 only in his mind?

After 2-3 episodes it quite clearly emgerges, that he is in a coma - although that alone can't really explain this complex illusory world of the 1970s.

Anyway there is something specific in 1973 he has got to do – but until the end, it is unclear what.

What makes the series something special to me and why I like it so much

„Life on Mars“ to me is the best TV-series of the 2000s and together with „24“ also the most innovative one.

While the question of the specificity of "24" simply can be answered with "real-time series“, so it's more complex with this English masterpiece. Though it doesn't offer completely new elements, but offers a blend of existing high-quality and innovative elements like never before and also never again until now:

  • An exciting, technically well-made crime-series.

  • An appealing and authentic image of the 1970s. Especially great are the historic cars, starting at Sam's Rover 3500 to the Vanden Plas, 500 and of course, to Gene Hunt's Ford Cortina 2000E.

  • Social criticism, which reveals historic causes of problems of the present – from hooliganism over integration of foreigners, mental health-problems and corruption to unemployment.

  • A love-story in between Sam and Annie, that until the end seems to be doomed to fail.

  • A buddy-movie between Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt, just as conflictual as entertaining.

  • Still a big mystery-element, leaving the series' true reality in the dark until the very end. Something similar, I only know from "Twin Peaks".

  • "Britishness" – it's great not to face the typical „Hollywood-mash“, but to enjoy very different kind of production from Britain.
    Actors were unknown here at us, but all of their performances have fully convinced me.

  • And this consistent overall-package is topped of by a great soundtrack, ahead of course by David Bowie's title-giving song.

In addition German TV-station „Kabel 1“ did a really good job in drawing attention to the series: In 2007, immediately before its primary airing there a great tribute to the Ford Cortina Mk III at the stations car-show „Abenteuer Auto“ was made.

And also in a negative way „Kabel 1“ increased the excitement: After TV-ratings were disappointing, the 2nd and lasted season was broadcasted in 2009 after a long break with extensive considerations, wether the stations wants to go on with airing the series.
Thank God! Unfortunately mass and class almost never get along with each other, but "Life on Mars" for certain has a lot of class.

Personal, final words

„Life on Mars“ to me is an absolutely great series. After it's first broadcast in 2007 & 2009 I watched in then a 2nd time in 2014 on Austrian ServusTV and again enjoyed it.

Sadly it was and still is – at least at the German-speaking space – an underdog-series, though entirely unjustified!

It offers smart as well as uncommon and exiting entertainment and takes it up even with the best Hollywood-productions.

Unfortunately for over 1 year it worldwide hasn't been broadcasted, which I see as a shame considering the crap being aired again and again.

And unfortunately the successor series "Ashes to Ashes" until now only was aired by Pay-TV-station FOX, but so far never been offered in free television. This to me is big pity and I hope that's going to change in 2016.

However once more big respect to this great television product and happy anniversary to all involved people!

 

Update 07th of June 2016:

I have to add, that "Ashes to Ashes" is just making it's debut also in German free-TV: From 24th of May 2016 on every Tuesday at 22.15h and Saturday at 00.05h its aired by new TV-station eoTV. eoTV exclusively broadcasts european productions.
To me thats great news and I watch "Ashes to Ashes" with pleasure!

 

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December 30 2015 4 30 /12 /December /2015 23:50

Who doesn't know Star Wars? It will not be more than a few people, solely the currently ongoing almost unbelievable public campaign makes it almost impossible, to miss at least some information about it.

 

I'm more a Star-Trek and Babylon-5 fan, however completely undogmatic. I like watching almost everything, that is good.
And I have to mention, that the Star-Wars-series is really good and deserves praise. I however find the hysteria around it totally excessive.

 

I am politically active, anti-ideological and really sceptical about all kinds of things. And within the politically-sceptical scene there are several fundamentalists, who reject sports and all kinds of entertainment. In their eyes these kinds of activities keep people off dealing with the serious and important issues.
On the other hand, there are the hedonistic hardcore-fans, totally keen for all kinds of consumption - in this case then of course of the Star-Wars universe. They watch every screen-material shot and buy every product offered. Finally they – at least partially – escape from real-life into this fictional-universes fantasy-world.

 

I strictly reject both extremes - as I almost always do this with extremes. But before I tell you how exactly I personally deal with star wars, I would like to go a bit further back to the story's deeper meaning and it's links to our real world.

What characterises Star-Wars

As in almost all epics the fight of "Good vs. Evil" is in the centre of the action. And Star-Wars-creator George Lucas frankly said that he uses also items of great historical literature, as almost all great exponents of the fictional & fantasy-genre did: John R. R. Tolkien with "Lord of the Rings", Frank Herbert in "Dune" or whether in the recent past J. Michael Straczynski in "Babylon 5" and Joanne K. Rowling at "Harry Potter".

 

Characters in the medium-trilogy (episodes IV, V, and VI), created in the 1970s and 1980s, yet have been drawn quite bromidic: There "Good versus Evil" is largely black and white. However there are also laudable exceptions in the grey-area:
While the character Lando Calrissian has changed from dark-grey (rather evil) to white (good), especially the personality-profile of Darth Vader / Annakin Skywalker is excellent. The bright knight, that has fallen for the dark side of the force, helps it to rise, but finally destroys the evil, in the form of the Emperor.

 

Much more – because it's significantly more complex - I like the prequel-trilogy published from 1999 to 2005 (episodes I, II and III). The saga's 1st part is still less in my favour, in my opinion this is a typical introduction to the matter.
However in episode II and even more in part III a fascinating as well as a realistic-shocking image is drawn: The described transformation of a Democratic Republic into a dictatorial Empire has tremendous big similarities to the real world's development of today.

 

Already in the 2nd part, it comes to a national crisis, because the democratic Parliament is too divided to master a - artificially staged - crisis. For this reason dictatorial powers are transferred to the Chancellor. And as many people do in times of crisis, so also Annakin Skywalker sympathizes with the "strong man".

 

In the 3rd part the development to the dark side then continues in macrocosm as well as microcosm: The chancellors intelligent-vicious wire-pulling works out, he manages to destroy democracy and to make himself the ruler of a dictatorial Empire. By personal weaknesses and unfortunate circumstances the Jedi Knight Annakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, the dictatorial Emperor right-hand-man.

 

The historical Inspiration of George Lucas for Star Wars was Germany's transition from the “Weimar Republic” to the Nazi-regime. But that falls far too short in my eyes:
For me, it only takes little imagination, drawing parallels to ISIS (Islamic State), that at least has been connived by the West, it's terrorist-attacks and the associated, more and more anti-democratic course of our countries governments. Not only by me, but by more and more people the suspension of human-rights in France after the Paris terrorist-attacks is seen as the 1st step to the same kind of dark Empire as in star wars.

How I deal with Star-Wars

In general I'm a pragmatist as well as a movie-friend. I like the Star-Wars epics. Although mass and class often do contradict each other, the big, productions for the mass-market are mostly good. This is also true for the Star-Wars-series.
Good vs. evil will always remain interesting to mankind. Moreover, if it is visually so well staged, such as in the works of George Lucas.

 

So how to deal with Star Wars?
People have to participate in democracy and have to fight for their participation-right – and even more than for their right to party (considering to the "Beastie Boys" :-).
But of course you also need breaks from this struggle – and spending the breaks with this is smart kind of entertainment to me is fundamentally positive. But of course it must not degenerate into a fan-fanaticism and to escape reality.

 

The great schizophrenia of the hardcore-Star-Wars-fans is that they have fallen prey to a compulsive desire to shop respectively escaping into an illusory-world. An illusory-world, which has been turned from a Republic into a dictatorship.
To me it's not only important, but decisive putting up a partitioning-wall between reality and fiction.

 

The only thing which personally bothers me about Star-Wars most of all is the massive commercialization. If we bring to our mind that the previous 6 movies have earned a combined gross of 4.38 billion $ and the entire franchise 30.7 billion $ then the rightsholders business-desire is – politely said – commercially understandable. But I do absolutely not want to take part in this.

 

Since the point of culmination in 2002, when in the same year one of each episodes of Star-Wars, "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" premiered, I have a "movie-hype-trauma". And that has led me to an unconditional, short-term denial of consumption.
Therefore, I am not going to watch the current Star-Wars-trilogy in cinema and instead wait until it's aired in TV. In the meantime next to the 6 older franchise's movies there are also many other interesting films and television-series.

 

But when Star-Wars episodes VII, VIII and IX are broadcasted in TV, then I will be delighted watching them!
And I am persistently going to continue taking a stand for a positive, democratic world, and especially for a cooperation of people from all different political directions.

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April 30 2015 5 30 /04 /April /2015 16:00

Internal processing on the basis of Wikipedia image uploaded by user "We hope"With "Starsky & Hutch" a high-quality and especially formative crime-series debuted on the day exactly 40 years ago on April 30th 1975.
Although I have known the series created between 1975 and 1979 during my childhood & youth, so in the 1980s and 1990s, I have never watched it at the time.
I even have left out the revival movie from 2004 with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

A few personal thoughts & basic infos

It took until the end of the 2000s that it came to me starting with "Starsky & Hutch": The German channel "Das Vierte" (The fourth) at this time successfully has ressurected numerous retro-series and so in 2007 & 2008 I have dealt with these 2 unusual policemen.
My short summary: A quite unusual series for that time, which was far ahead of its time and even 30 years after it's first broadcast - at least partially - still was up to date.

The two unequal policemen Dave Starsky and Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson are detectives at the the fictional US-cities Bay City police-department. There they mainly are brought into action on unusual and difficult cases. They often work as undercover agents and also often together with informants from the Demimonde, to which they "turn a blind eye" in return.
Starsky and Hutch above all are mainly supported by their boss Captain Harold Dobey, as well as by the petty-crook & main-whistleblower "Huggy Bear". Especially Huggy also was a guarantee for funny moments.
 

Picture by Wikpedia, user "Bull-Doser"At the time flashy and conceptually new was the car they drove as policemen:
Starskys pimped up, red and white Ford Gran Torino. This has not only become a trademark of the series, but at least one of the most famous film and television cars of the 1970s.

 

 

 

 

What makes Starsky & Hutch something special

To me the series has set new standards in 2 points:

  1. Through its hard, unprettified portrayal of crime and also of social problems
  2. By its basic-concept & innovative storytelling.

Hard, clear way of presentation:

  • Back then the series often has been criticized for its brutality, it was part of the "dirty dozen", the 12 series considered as the most brutal in the US at that time.
    It even may be that the producers have made the harsh portrayal of violence also with regard to the quota.
  • But the criticism to me is unjustified to the effect that "Starsky & Hutch" has belonged to the first series, which have presented reality not through "rose-coloured glasses" but also have showed societies ugly side relentlessly.
  • In addition it has absolutely impressed me how realistically and comprehensively it has dealt with social problems:
    From corruption & police violence over illegal immigration & downplaying mental diseases & to child abuse. Even a big social conspiracy & mental manipulation a la "Manchurian candidate" is an issue.
  • And also the two main protagonists are not only the shining heroes, they also have noteable weaknesses:
    Both are singles, have broken relationships behind or are unable to build up serious relationships. And both also make mistakes sometimes.

Trend-setting storytelling:

  • In addition to the big realism in terms of violence & social problems the series also scored with likeable characters and plenty of humor.
    While in TV until the 1970s problems partly were kept under wraps or understated and in the 1980s they were treated as a kind of action-comedy it took until the mid-1990s that the mix of realism & fun became prevalent.
  • The basic-recipe hard-realism + action + characters-also-with-weaknesses + humor still today makes up successful series, like above all "NCIS".

Conclusion

"Starsky & Hutch" for me probably is the most ground-breaking series of the 1970s, which was far ahead of its time. It like no other piece of television of this time managed combining realism, action & fun to a convincing overall-product.
The basic-recipe of its storytelling is still the same even for successful series of the 21st century.
It entertained me and made me reflect. For example I previously was unaware what a big problem illegal immigration and dirty dealings with it still was in the 1970s.

So therefore the series genuinely diserves a great tribute!

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January 16 2015 6 16 /01 /January /2015 00:00

Star Trek Voyager just turned 20 yearsAppreciations for important science-fiction series have something of a tradition for me.
After the two Star Trek series "Next Generation" (TNG) and "Deep Space Nine" (DS9), as well as "Babylon 5" and its spin-off "Crusade" it's "Voyager" (VOY) to celebrate a big anniversary now:
Exactly 20 years ago on January 16th 1995 it has flown on television screens for the first time in the United States.

 

In contrast to "Deep Space Nine" or "Babylon 5" I was really keen to see more of Star Trek and to get known with the much anticipated successor of the new Enterprise, that from 1994 on only continued to fly in the cinema.
 

Voyager for certain does not belong to the very best but for certain belongs to the really good science-fiction series.
It co-initiated Star Treks peak of success in 1996, but also the strong downturn of Star Trek from around the year 2000 on.

 

Voyager takes place in the same universe and at the same time as TNG & DS9. But not at the same location, the ship together with a Maquis fighter is carried to the delta-quadrant by the "Caretaker", a very powerful being. There the Voyager is dependent on its self and even at top-speed is around 75 years away from home.
 

This scenario, where the story takes place secluded from home and largely without the rest of the Federation distinguishes Voyager from all other Star Trek series.
And dealing with this new, difficult situation, where things taken for granted are no longer available and you have to struggle for survival, especially makes season-1 very interesting for me.

 

Despite the stand-alone scenario, it is a proper Star Trek series which offers not only excitement, fun and action, but also attaches great importance on values like tolerance and moral integrity.


The Voyager is also much brighter than Deep Space Nine, is visually reminiscent of the Enterprise-D.
The character composition is very well made – independently from the question whether you'd have to shape it as politically highly correct as it has been shaped.
Janeway, the first female Star Trek Captain, the native-American Ex-Maquis-Insurgent and first officer Chakotay, the Vulcan security-chief Tuvok, the half-Klingon Ex-Maquis-Chief-Engineer Torres, the holographic doctor, later also the ex-Borg "Seven of Nine" and all the others provide a blend with a lot of tension, humour and variety.


However there are also several points of criticism:

  • The character of Captain Janeway has very large discrepancies, particularly in referring to her own values. On many occasions she has hyped up the values and ideals of the Federation into the sky and vehemently has demanded compliance by the crew to these. At the same time it was herself making decisions which were morally questionable (e.g. the back-splitting of Tuvix, the hybrid-creature of Tuvok and Neelix) or even contradicted the federation-laws (such as her personal hunt on the USS Equinox).
  • In contrast to its 2 predecessors the quality did not improve from the 3rd season on, but it droped sharply in the 2nd season and then was again considerably better, but fluctuating.
  • The character of deputy chief-engineer Joe Carey, who always participated in exiting episodes of the 1st season, later is almost irrelevant. That displeases me, because potential excitement had been given away and even some absurd situations arised (E.g. "Seven of Nine" substituted Torres as chief-engineer, although Carey still were on the ship).
  • In contrast to TNG & DS9 there was a strong discrepancy between the beginning and the end of the series, which makes VOY inhomogeneous. While the Caretaker and his partner play a key-part at the beginning of the show, the Borg play the decisive role at the end of the series. The Borg were introduced in the serie's third season for quota reasons.Seven of Nine is one of the best elaborated Star Trek characters ever


But it very clearly has to be said that the character "Seven of Nine", introduced with the Borg story-arc, has much more to offer than large and clearly visible bosoms. It's one of the best developed characters in the entire Star Trek universe. The "becoming-a-man" of this Borg can easily measure even with Data's "seeking-for-humanity".
 

Conclusion:

Voyager is a really good science-fiction series that I have really liked at it's first appearance and I still really like today. Despite significant weaknesses, I would not want to be without it and even today see the show as enriching to me.
If it hadn't to measure with it's 2 outstanding predecessors "Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine" VOY would even be a remarkable piece of television.
In this sense once again congratulations on this anniversary!

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