Saturday, June 22, 2013

Finished "Birds of Prey" (2002) - TV Series

I actually liked the "Birds of Prey" TV series.  I wasn't particularly fond of the Diana character (daughter of the Black Canary) though they might have found a consistent role over time (naive child?  most powerful of trio?  potential adversary?), but did like the character of the Oracle (former Batgirl) and Huntress (illegitimate daughter of Batman and Catwoman).

Not sure if the series really found it's legs before it was unplugged.  I don't know if a gritty version (like the Nolan Batman movies) or a lighter version (like WB's Smallville) would have played out better, Birds of Prey certainly was closer to Smallville than Nolan.

However, I though the actresses played the characters well, and the relatively non-powered characters made for good stories and plots.  They could foil drug dealers, and be captured by mobsters, disabled by bombs and tear gas - they couldn't rely on a flyby Superman to save them.  A second season might have played out better, or might have mercifully killed the premise.  Never know now.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finished (TV Series) - "Arrow" - Season 1

Really liked the first season of Arrow.  If you are unfamiliar, it is loosely based upon the DC character "Green Arrow".

Oliver Queen, rich kid, is stranded on a mysterious island for 5 years following a shipwreck which kills his father and girlfriend (or more specifically, his girlfriend's sister).

The island is full of mercenaries, and through many trials and tribulations, Oliver becomes trained in fighting and archery.  Eventually he returns to civilization with a mission to avenge his father's wrongs by erasing evil doers listed in a book received from his father.

The characters in the series all seem relatively strong and well developed, aside from the typical problem of this type of TV dramas where the other "secret" characters are all friends and family of the main character.

Not sure if the series has been picked up, but it was certainly worth the watching in the first season.  The season actually wraps up pretty well, assuming that it is the only season of Arrow.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Really like the new "Arrested Development" episodes

Netflix revived "Arrested Development" and produced a set of 15 episodes with the entire original cast.
Very nicely done - most episodes are from an individual character's perspective, meaning that subsequent episodes cover much of the same turf, filling in pieces and plot holes.

I think the series can be watched several times, as I believe each re-watching will reveal more details and links between characters.

I hope this proves profitable for Netflix as I'd really like to see "Sarah Connors - Terminator Chronicles" revived, maybe another season of "West Wing".  Another set of "Arrested Development" would be excellent as well.

Finished (Audiobook) - "Howard Hughes, Empire" - Donald L. Bartlett and James L. Steele

I remember some of the Howard Hughes mystery and remember reading the odd book about him when I was a teen.

"Howard Hughes, Empire" was a good book to listen to.  The book put Hughes into perspective - he was a control freak, even when his mental illness was less apparent, as shown by his obsessive tendencies in aircraft design and need for control of even small, irrelevant aspects of events (for example, he had explicit instructions regarding picking up and driving around VIPs, including how to get out of the car, how to cross the gutter and enter the building).
What surprised me was how poor a business man Hughes was.  He inherited a thriving business (the Hughes Tool Company) which made its fortune on a oil-drilling bit patented by Hughes Sr. at an ideal point in history with the oil discoveries in the U.S..  The bit was not originally designed by Hughes Sr., but he was smart enough to buy and patent the rights, and apparently he did make some modifications and improvements over time.

Howard Jr. (the famous Hughes) never really made any money.  He bought RKO studios (a big player at the time) and basically ran it into the ground.  Similar pattern with TWA.  His reputation was immense, and he had the image of a real player and money maker, but there is little evidence that he was able to make any headway in supporting that reputation.  The Tool Company ran without his involvement and stayed profitable - Hughes himself was actually a problem with expansion and other decisions - he really didn't want to do much of the actual company management.

Even his exploits as a pilot - no doubt he was a pilot and probably a decent one.  However, he was in several crashes, which doesn't support the "excellent pilot" image he sported - it does support the "daredevil", however.

The stories of late in life, being basically a prisoner of his mental illness, moving occasionally between hotel rooms (all sealed off, windows blacked out) in different countries, basically sitting naked, on drugs, watching movies.  

Basically a very sad end for someone who certainly could afford proper mental healthcare.  The take-home messages are that mental health can impact everyone, and maybe a caution to the wealthy that money is not always a good thing - a middle-class Hughes probably couldn't hide his illness and probably would have been exposed to proper medical care much earlier in life.  His money basically allowed him to buy drugs (codeine addiction) and self-medicate without any objections - his outcome probably would have been much more positive had he not been the "richest man in the world".