TV Reviews

TV Review: BBC’s Wonders of the Universe (2011)

WOTU

Wonders of the Universe is a four-part television miniseries produced in 2011 by BBC, Discovery Channel and Science Channel and hosted by physicist Professor Brian Cox. It followed on from the successful series, Wonders of the Solar System, which aired in 2010.

WOTU has four episodes, each one hour long, with a cool name and a focus on a particular aspect of the universe.

The first episode, Destiny, talks about the time course of our universe: its origins, and its ultimate fate, and compels us to try to compare the eye-blink of a human lifespan to the epic timescale of cosmic events.

In Stardust, the second episode, Professor Cox discusses the elements of the universe and how they are formed through nuclear fusion in stars. This one’s more of a high-school chemistry lesson.

The third episode, Falling, is a contemplation of the effects of gravity across the universe.

The last episode, Messengers, addresses how the speed of light allows us to get information about the universe past and present, but also the limits to that information.

 

You’re probably thinking that, at one hour each, these episodes are lo-o-ong. And they are. They felt long, to me, and I often had to break my viewing up into twenty or thirty minute blocks, simply because I would become distracted or sleepy. The visuals/animations are quite breathtaking and beautiful, but the pacing is definitely a bit on the slower side. Cox as host is impassioned and excited, but the delivery of information is slow, in bite-sized morsels, and made to be quite easily accessible to the layperson.

If you remember most of high school chemistry/physics, and have a passing interest in astronomy, you’ll probably know most of the content of the documentary already. There was definitely some old material in there that had me yawning, but there were also a lot of facts that I didn’t know, which made it worth watching. I found episodes 3 and 4 most interesting.

The strategy of Wonders is to take the viewer to various exotic and obscure locations around Earth and draw analogies to phenomena in space, which is a pleasant journey. You get to tour Earth and space, all from the lazy comfort of your couch!

I’ve not seen Brian Cox host a show before, and I can’t decide whether I liked him or not. It took me a while to get used to his permanently smiling face, but his boyish delight in science definitely added to the appeal of the show.

Recommended if you want an aesthetically-appealing, not overly complex introduction to some of the major scientific concepts of our universe.

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Sleepy Hollow – The Beginning

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Towards the end of last year I found my mum watching a new show on TV. I caught a glimpse of a headless dude in period costume rising out of dark waters, and a white gangly monster somewhat reminiscent of the eyeless child-eating freak from Pan’s Labyrinth.

I asked her, “What show is this?”

And she said, “Sleepy Hollow.”

And I made a mental note to check it out.

Since then I’ve watched episodes 1-9…there are four more to go to complete the first season. The start-up has been a general success, and the show has been renewed by Fox for a second season.

Sleepy-Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is supernatural but not particularly scary. It’s a modern-day reimagining of the 1820 short story, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ by Washington Irving, which tells of a Headless Horseman spiriting away a man from a settlement in the glen of Sleepy Hollow. The TV show takes place in twenty-first century Sleepy Hollow, with an expanded plot and mythos. Ichabod Crane, our long-haired revolutionary hero, and his archenemy, the Headless Horseman, awaken in the present day after 200 years of bespelled sleep. The Horseman goes on a rampage of decapitation whilst trying to recover his lost head. Ichabod, meanwhile, falls in with our other protagonist, Abbie Mills, a smart police officer who has had her own past encounters with the supernatural. Abbie and Crane set about trying to thwart the supernatural evils that plague their town.

Ichabod soon discovers that his life is linked with the Horseman’s because of their blood mingling and other magicky stuff, so when Ichabod’s witchy wife Katrina put him under a spell to keep him alive, the Horseman also went into suspended animation.

I very much enjoy the gothic feel of the whole show–a haunted town, old churches and buildings, ancient dusty books, tattoos and sects, wailing ghosts and ephemeral monsters, shadows and storms, spells of binding. The opening montage and theme music, with simple shots of the main characters interspersed with spooky shots of Sleepy Hollow transforming throughout the years, is refreshingly straightforward and atmospheric.

I lament that society no longer dictates that men should have long hair.

I lament that society no longer dictates that men should have long hair.

The show is held together by strong performances from the two leads, Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. There are times when the story could have come off as cheesy or over-the-top, but I felt that their acting kept things authentic. The writers throw in a good mix of jokes, most of which spring from Crane trying to adjust to the twenty-first century. Some of these moments are hilarious–for instance, Crane’s first encounter with the Internet and pop up porn ads. Mison and Beharie have great on-screen chemistry and are likeable and engaging. The supporting characters (Capt. Frank Irving, Jenny Mills, Katrina Crane) are equally interesting, with the potential to have expanded, complex personalities and back stories.

The created mythology of the series is already quite large in scope. We’ve got the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an evil ringleader, an impending apocalypse, and two “witnesses” who are destined to save the earth. It’s all getting very prophetic and end-of-the-world-y, which I’m not sure I like, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. So far, the adventures have been fun and just scary enough to make you keep the night-light on. There are some pretty kick-ass action scenes too, especially the ones involving the Horseman. I’m looking forward to seeing what the season finale has in store. I’m also on the edge of my seat waiting for Ichabod to have a costume change.

Ramble.

I am a doctor. Yes, I am.

A doctor with provisional registration, at the very least, who must still run most of her decisions past a superior, and whose main areas of expertise are, summarily: inserting drips, writing discharge letters, and looking for folders. If, by the time the end of this year rolls around, we haven’t accidentally prescribed someone 100 units of insulin, or ignored a head injury after a fall, we are rewarded with a full registration. (Which, of course, we need to fork out several hundred dollars for.)

The way things work in Australia is that junior doctors must re-apply to hospitals every year; we are employed as “temporary full time” workers, on a contract that only lasts for 12 months. It’s a bit sucky. You spend a couple of months celebrating the fact that you survived interviews and got a job, only to realise that you have to do the whole thing over again. And again.

I recently submitted an application to do a six-month job next year, hopefully as a psychiatry resident. I’m planning to take six months off to do something totally silly and wonderful: write. I’m really excited. And a bit scared. (A little of becoming poor, but more of failure.)

This is how the rest of my year is looking:

– a couple more interviews, maybe

– hepatobiliary surgical rotation

– emergency department rotation

– trip to China and Hong Kong, yayz!

– three weeks break in January 2014

– work, if I have a job

:)

I think I’m feeling optimistic.

My day is looking not too shoddy either. I’ve got work 4-10pm, which is manageable, but I’ll be grumpy because I’ve got a cold. In the meantime, I have plenty to occupy myself with. For the past year I have been struggling to finish the Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton–an Australian fantasy author, with wonderful writing ability, but LORDY. There came a point in the third book where I felt like I was just being constantly slapped in the face by purple prose. Her turns of phrase are lovely, but really, does she need to spend three lines describing how beautiful the inside of a strawberry is? We all know what a strawberry looks like.

Paragraph about strawberry.

Paragraph about strawberry.

Normally I have a rule that I give up on a book if it’s really struggling to hold my attention, but the Bitterbynde Trilogy admittedly is very beautiful. It’s sweeping and bursting with Celtic mythology and it’s got Faeran folk in it. It’s well planned out and elegant. I’ve just had enough of fantasy tropes, Mary Sue characters and dizzying descriptions of heartbreakingly handsome Faeran heroes. I’m sure the trilogy could have been one book shorter. Anyway, I’ve only got about 80 pages to go so I may as well skim through it.

Ten dolla! I picked up this trilogy from an amazing little bookstore in Morwell, Victoria called "The Nook and Cranny". If you're ever in Gippsland and you're a book nerd, you have to step inside this place. It's so unpretentiously rad.

Ten dolla! I picked up this trilogy from an amazing little bookstore in Morwell, Victoria called “The Nook and Cranny”. If you’re ever in Gippsland and you’re a book nerd, you have to step inside this place. It’s so unpretentiously rad.

I recently also read The Mind of a Mnemonist, by the Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria, who lived and worked in the early-mid 1900s. I heard about Luria whilst listening to a podcast featuring Oliver Sacks (Sacks cites Luria as one of his key inspirations). Mnemonist is a detailed case study about a dude who can remember everything. He also has intense five-sense synaesthesia, which is bizarre and fascinating to explore. Luria really delves into the guy’s mind, how his thought processes work, how his gift affects his personality, and what his weaknesses are.

In the TV world, I’ve just finished the season 2 finale of Battlestar Galactica–several years too late, I know–which, as usual, keeps blowing my mind. I can’t believe I didn’t listen sooner to my friends (looking at you, Mookxi!) who told me to watch this. Spaceships plus Greek mythology plus intense character study. HOW COULD ANYTHING BE MORE AWESOME?

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Speaking of ancient Greek myth, I highly recommend the Greek and Roman Mythology course over at Coursera.org for anyone looking for an intro into ancient mythology. The readings can be a bit intensive on top of full time work or study but I found it totally worthwhile. It’s a very well taught course and a great starting point for beginners like me!

Oh no, work looms in four hours. Time to work on my novel. Wish me luck! Have an excellent week, readers. Don’t forget to smile unexpectedly and creepily at someone to brighten up their day.

x

Grace

PS. Can’t help it, but toaster Cylons just remind me of Cybermen. I think they used the same sound effects :P

cylon cybermen

A quiet week

We ate at Rich Mahal (Burwood Highway, Vermont South) last Thursday night. It took a great deal of persistence to get the BF to try this place for a second time: the first time we ate there, about three years ago, we suffered some, ah, ill effects–the details of which I won’t lavish upon you.

Anyway, fortifying our stomachs, we rocked up in the pouring rain and stepped inside to be greeted by the wonderful aromas of Indian and Malaysian cooking. Warm spicy fumes shot straight up my nostrils; I inhaled in delight. Tantalising trays of curry sat on heated, glass-paned counters. Mere metres away, chefs stood in front of large stoves tossing things in woks. I was drooling.

We ordered our usual meal for trying out Indian restaurants: butter chicken, biryani rice, naan bread and mango lassi. Probably the equivalent of white folk walking into an authentic Chinese restaurant and ordering fried rice, sweet and sour pork and sweet corn soup.

I wish I could post up pictures of the food, but I always forget. It’s not so much about not wanting to draw attention (“Oh look, another Asian girl taking a picture of her food, whaddya expect”) but more that when the food arrives at the table, I get so excited that by the time I remember that I’m supposed to take a pic, the plate is half-demolished.

The naan bread with dahl turned out to be roti canai, which I love. The butter chicken was creamy through and through and absolutely delicious. The lamb biryani was a touch dry but went well with the curry. Warning: if you don’t do well with spicy food, you should probably ask for mild variations. We did not, and ended up slurping desperately at the mango lassi.

Later that night we watched Star Trek: Into Darkness, which I struggled to enjoy, mainly because I was wearing 3D glasses over my usual glasses and was pushing them up literally every 30 seconds. Eventually I sort of had to keep one hand on my cheek to prop them up. 3D does not agree with me. Also, you’re probably laughing at me because I wear two pairs of glasses to watch 3D movies. I do not care. I spurn your laughter.

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Oh, the movie itself was enjoyable. Sherlock Holmes in space?! How much more awesome can you get? ;P Sadly, I was born several years after the best decades (comic book, Star Wars movies, parachute pants). Partly because of that, I never became a Trekkie; I don’t groan at the new-fangled blockbuster movies the way the diehard fans do. I’ve only seen two old Star Trek movies ever and though I can appreciate the huge difference in style, I’ve never submerged myself in the universe. It’s a little intimidating.

As is this.

As is this.

If there are any Star Trek fans reading this: what would  you recommend to the uninitiated as the best introduction into the Star Trek Universe?

*

the office

Warning: Moderate Spoilers Ahead

After nine wonderful seasons, The Office (US) has come to a timely end. This show has grown on me like a barnacle ever since I started watching it about three years ago. I have come to believe that Dwight Howard is the most hilarious character ever created for TV. I am also genuinely puzzled as to how Rainn Wilson keeps his real-life beard so sparsely scruffy whilst Dwight’s cheeks are persistently as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

The 50-minute final episode was sweet, emotional, hilarious and pretty much perfect. Steve Carell appears for some killer lines but all in all says very little–it’s not his finale, but everyone else’s. Pam surprising Jim predictably but in a thoroughly touching way, Dwight and Angela–clearly perfect for each other–get married, Oscar goes into politics, Kevin gets fired and buys a bar…everyone reaches some sort of satisfying closure (Creed’s ending is surely the best). Erin’s surprise reunion was extremely random. The fourth wall is transcended as the directors/producers celebrate in the warehouse with the cast of their “reality show”.

There’s also a short documentary about the journey of the cast, well worth watching. I’d love to watch some behind the scenes filming of the Office, with bloopers and improvisation. Maybe I’ll have to get my hands on a box set.

Doctor Who Season 7 also finished last week, with a classic twisty Moffat episode. It was definitely the best episode of the second half of this season (I was starting to have my doubts during The Rings of Akhaten). It was just the right amount of twisty, too. Twisty enough to make me go “Oooh, that’s clever!” but not too twisty that I’m sitting there shovelling popcorn into my mouth in dismay and confusion. Clara’s leap into the Doctor’s time-scar explained the Impossible Girl in a satisfying and thrilling way, though he really shouldn’t have gone in and rescued her. That bit made no sense. Clara Oswald–or versions of her–could still have been the Doctor’s companion in many more adventures. That would have been more interesting.

Doctor Who - Series 7B

Clara’s an intriguing character but I’m still not entirely convinced by Jenna-Louise Coleman’s perky, super-speedy delivery and almost automaton-like mannerisms. And the way the Doctor tugs her around like a little doll–cute, but it makes her seem unassertive and patronised. I’m waiting for her to sprout more character in the next season.

 

Til next time,

GLF

A Mish-Mash of Highlights: Doctor Who, Cloud Atlas, Eddings, etc.

Beanie of the year.

Beanie of the year.

It’s getting towards winter down here in the southern hemisphere of the world.

Last week the weather took a welcome dip from the thirties into the low twenties, and we all started layering extra blankets onto our beds and pulling out scarves, beanies, brollies and boots. For me, this time of year is marked by the transition from pyjama shorts to pyjama pants, and the resumption of a continuous intake of hot tea. It’s quite blissful.

Important events of this week included:

1. Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully well-timed and encouraging post on, amongst other things, writing: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/03/princess-and-some-thoughts-on-writing.html

doctor who the bells of saint john

2. The return of Doctor Who; more specifically Doctor Who Season 7 Episode 6: “The Bells of St. John.”

Five-line review…

A modern-London adventure, penned by Moffat, with lively new companion Clara ‘Oswin’ Oswald, that also oddly comes across as a warning against being too connected to wifi/social media, just in case malicious aliens want to eat your mind through the interwebs. Chemistry between Smith and Coleman felt less forced. Plot was well-paced and easy to follow with neat twists. Great half-season kick-off that continues the mystery of the girl with multiple lives.

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3. Season 3 of Game of Thrones. You know it’s getting big when you see a GoT ad at the local bus stop. To be watched.

4. Finishing David Eddings The Elenium Book 2 (The Ruby Knight). Recommended by the beloved BF, who read it in the early days of his youth, the Elenium is a grand swords-and-sorcery style fantasy epic largely revolving around politics. There is a severe deficiency of cool female characters in this story, as Sparhawk and the other heroes are mostly big buff knights with even bigger swords/axes who deliver awesome one-liners before and after they behead their foes. The only key females are Sephrenia, an ageless sorceress, and Flute, a mysterious little girl with powers–interesting, but not entirely unique. Most of the book involves riding back and forth across the countries of Eosia chasing the Bhelliom (a precious gem). Eddings’ writing is unpretentious, lively and straightforward. An easy series to read, though long, and it keeps you turning the pages.

5. Watching Cloud Atlas.

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Cloud Atlas is an insane compendium of story fragments–6 different narratives, each taking place at a different point in time–piled on top of one another. Some of the narratives are fascinating (I liked the futuristic Neo-Seoul story best) and others are boring (Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in the post-apocalyptic distant future. It was impossible to engage with their characters given almost no context and zero background about their motivations and situation). Jim Broadbent’s imprisonment and dramatic escape from an English nursing home is also a gem, as is Jim Wishaw’s portrayal of composer/musician Robert Frobisher.

I was hoping that there would be more of a sense of interconnection between the 6 timezones, but apart from using the same actors and a few pieces of prose floating from period to period (journals, documents), it lacked for substance. The narratives were largely entertaining, but at the end of the Wachowski’s masterpiece I wasn’t sure what message I was supposed to get from it all.

The structure of the book, however, sounds intriguing: a sort of concertina of stories, travelling from 1849AD, through to 2321AD, and back again. Elegant. Perhaps I’ll get my grubby hands on it one day.

Off to work.

x,

GLF

The Darcy-type Character

My  biweekly guilty indulgence is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernised, weblog-style adaptation of Pride and Prejudice–not a bad idea, hey? Created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, the series airs short 3-5 minute episodes every Monday and Thursday (or Tuesday and Friday if, like me, you live half a day ahead of the latter hemisphere of the world).

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or LBD, has earned wild levels of popularity, partly due to its engaging actors and partly due to cheap tricks such as not revealing male characters’ appearances for extended periods of time, and so inducing heightened levels of fan-girling in its (largely female, I imagine) audience.

Bing binging Jane

As Episode 59 ends and the long-awaited Episode 60–with the day of its release being titled, apparently, “Darcy Day”–only a few short hours away, excitement levels in the LBD universe are off the charts.

And as I find myself caught in the hullaballoo about seeing the bottom half of Darcy’s face, I realise that most of us regard Fitzwilliam Darcy as a “real” person. It’s easy to forget that he was an invention; more often than not he seems more like a historical figure, or someone that we’ve heard so much about that we imagine we we’re familiar with them.

Lots of people before me have already speculated on why the Darcy character is so enduring. What I’ve decided to call the Darcy-type character pops up in fiction everywhere. The plot just works. Girl meets boy who is extremely cool/rich/handsome/popular. Girl finds boy an arrogant doucheface and loathes boy. Boy is secretly in love with girl. Girl realises that boy really has a heart of gold and falls in love with boy.

OK, I can’t actually think of any literary examples off the top of my head, perhaps because I don’t often read romance. But consider: Bridget Jones’s Diary (…which is supposed to be loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, anyway), Edward Cullen of the perfectly beautiful stone-cold face, Rushton from Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series…some of those are loose associations but the idea of a guy having a cold exterior but a warm heart is universal.

You’ll probably see it even more in amateur fiction. (Visit fictionpress.com). The first fantasy novel I wrote (back in my early high school days, oh shame) featured an snobbish, super-handsome prince called Haydin who turns out to be a brave and selfless leader…pleasedon’tjudgeme. A short while later I wrote one about a girl who attends a rock-band competition and has a love-hate romance with the arrogant, hot lead singer of a rival band. Hey, I got thousands of hits on Quizilla. (Yes, I was one of those people.)

Perhaps what I’m trying to say is, if you’re writing fiction, be aware of this Darcy stereotype. I’m not saying don’t use it–because it works. It worked 200 years ago for Jane Austen (interestingly, her working title for the book was “First Impressions”) and I reckon it will work 200 years from now. But if you’re trying to create characters that are different, that are new–then double check that your main male personality is not a Darcy in disguise.

I’m really good at looking soulfully into the camera.

So, why does Darcy win hearts all over the world? I tried to narrow it down to a few things.

1. He’s mysterious. He could dance with any girl in the room, but he doesn’t. The fact that he doesn’t try to be the centre of attention makes the reader all the more curious.

2. He’s absolutely devoted to Elizabeth. Her rejection crushes him, but he comes back after hearing about Elizabeth’s conversation with Catherine De Bourgh, on a wild hope that her feelings towards him have changed. He’s willing to put himself out there.

3. He’s not a bad looker. “Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien…”

4. They have witty and lively conversation. No one wants a dude who is boring.

There you go lads! If you want to hit it off with the ladies, be a grumpy wallflower, but be madly romantic inside, look good at all times, and let only witticisms flow from your lips. It’s sure to work.

Here’s to Darcy Day! Let’s hope he doesn’t have a mole.

BBC series loyalty.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra

 

Sequels. We all know the dangers of them.

When done well–rarely–the results can be impressive (The Dark Knight, Two Towers, Empire Strikes Back).

But more often than not, they flop (The Matrix Reloaded, Speed 2, Ocean’s 12, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Joey, Prison Break 2, and sooo many more). 

So when I first found out that the makers of Avatar had a spin-off series in the works, I had it in my head to stay away. Far, far awaaaaay.

I mean, Avatar: The Last Airbender was this joyride of complicated world-building inspired by Oriental and Aztec themes, with beautiful artwork, brilliant character development, puns, creative fight scenes, gripping plot arcs and slapstick humour…and it’s a children’s cartoon. I started watching ATLA thanks to my habit of peering over my little brother’s shoulder (thanks lad for having cool taste). Like countless others, I quickly became totally immersed in its rich universe and the pilgrimage of Aang and his merry band to master all four elements and defeat the Fire Nation!

Since buying this book…

…I’ve only grown exponentially more impressed by how much work went into the show. It’s an unpretentious masterpiece of storytelling, and it’s created a narrative in my head that I dread to spoil, eg. by an inadequate sequel.

But I knew I didn’t have the willpower to hold out forever. Especially not when Victor downloaded Season One of The Legend of Korra. And watched it. And started raving to me about how I HAD TO WATCH IT COZ IT WAS SUPER EXCITING!

So I did, and I loved it. It’s great fun. There are a bunch of fantastic things about TLOK, but also a lot of things that could have been done better. (WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!)

The Good

1. Korra’s character. I think Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko made a great call here in terms of character qualities. Korra, a 17-year-old girl from the Water Tribe, is a very different Avatar from Aang. She’s an absolute gun at bending, mastering 3 of the 4 elements as a tot. She’s impulsive, brash, brave and emotional, but what’s lacking is her connection to the spiritual aspects of being Avatar. Her character works well within this new world, where she has to push the boundaries, and is a refreshing change.

2. The United Republic of Nations. Mike and Bryan didn’t try to recreate the universe of ATLA, and I’m thankful for that. Instead, they used this opportunity to build a whole new world with a different feel–a steampunk feel. How awesome!!! In the 70 years (an incredibly short period, but forgivable) since the war ended, it seems a technological revolution has swept over the Avatar world. There are cars, electricity, radios, TV, stadiums, cities, lamp-posts. And there’s a mega huge statue of Aang standing over it all. This modern spin is a fabulous opportunity to show off the world-building skills of the creative team in a new and exciting way, and yet maintains enough links with the world of ATLA to keep long-term fans happy. I’m glad that they chose a very different atmosphere: it separates Korra’s story from Aang’s story in a definitive, elegant way.

3. The benders v non-benders plot. When this plotline was introduced early on in the season, I got excited. A compelling and creative idea. It seems a natural sequence of events, almost a century after the war, when the world is peaceful and prosperous, to have the non-benders generate murmurs of discontent. I was initially thrilled at the possibilities of this narrative arc.

4. The animation. Season 3 of ATLA was a wonderful aesthetic experience, but in TLOK you really feel all the visual effects coming together in a very streamlined, enjoyable way.

5. Pro-bending. A bit like Quidditch. A distraction from the main plot, but a very enjoyable sport to watch.

And one final item that I couldn’t leave off the good list…6. Commander Iroh.

The Not So Good

1. The shallow handling of the benders v non-benders conflict. To be honest, I was disappointed with how this major plot device panned out. There was the potential to have a mature consideration of Amon’s motives and the uprising of the non-benders. Throughout the season, we see civilians flock to the Equalist rallies in hordes. That at the very least must be an indicator that something is not right in the governance of the Republic. But the Council’s response to the Equalists was simplistic in the extreme: use bending, use violence, use power to subdue them. There was no examination of why the people were discontented; of whether the non-benders did have any power in the Republic; of whether the law was fair to both benders and non-benders. Because to me it certainly didn’t look fair–there didn’t seem to be anything stopping benders from trampling on non-benders if they wished, and the message of the benders’ response (that is, to automatically regard the benders as ‘rebels’ and discharge forces to squash them) seemed stupid. Of course, the Equalists did take their rebellion a bit too far, but at in the end the conflict came down to who could punch the other up. Also, I was a little deflated by how easily the Equalist members were turned against their leader–a pretty paltry plot device there, in my opinion.

2. Everything resolves way too easily in the Season One finale. Not much to say here (I don’t want to spoil anything for people who’ve read this far and haven’t watched the series, even though I explicitly warned about SPOILERSSS!). Just…too much happens. Too fast. With not enough time to explain, absorb, resolve. I’m not sure if they had to cram everything into one season in case they didn’t get signed for Season 2, but they really didn’t leave anything for next season.

3. Too much crammed into 12 short episodes. This is sort of related to #2. There are only 12 eps in Season One, and each is only 23 minutes. It is really not enough time to fit in so many intertwining narratives: Korra’s development as a person, the treachery of Amon and Sato, the story of Tarrlok, pro-bending, and the romance. And speaking of romance…

4. The love square. Oh so cheesy, but not completely terrible in its own way. But still so cheesy.

5. Bolin, the new Sokka. Clearly, Bolin is meant to be the funny guy with the puns and the quips and the goofiness. He’s no Sokka. Victor disagrees with me–he thinks Bolin is hilarious–but then he thinks most things are hilarious. But in my eyes, no one will ever, EVER REPLACE SOKKA. EVARRRR! Sad face.

Overall consensus

The Legend of Korra certainly has a different feel to The Last Airbender. We won’t really enter Aang’s world again, which is probably a good thing. TLOK is trying to be a more adult show: the kids are older, there’s a ‘darker’ plot, and there’s more romance. I didn’t really feel the adult-ness, and I don’t think it should aim for an older age group. ATLA was aimed at children but it had enough layers to entertain older audiences.

One thing I really enjoyed was the flashbacks where we got to see the old characters–Toph, Sokka, Aang–as grown-up members of society. It offered a sense of continuity and a rush of nostalgia. So my final consensus is this: if you were fan of ATLA, go and watch Korra. It’s a great series with the same talented creators. You’ll really enjoy it. And if you’ve never watched anything Avatar, give Korra a go. I mean, can you get any better than a 9.2 on IMDB? :-P

Random trivia: Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Appa and Momo, also voices Tarrlok. He’s worked in a gazillion other voice acting roles, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Gears of War, Halo, SpongeBob SquarePants, Ben10 and American Dad.