Review – Smallville – Patriot

Script meeting: So we have Oliver Queen without a shirt? "Actually sir, we have him without a shirt for most of the episode." Good, good. Any chance we can get Clark shirtless? "No sir, but we have AquaMan with his shirt off, AquaMan's wife naked and Lois with a lot of cleavage." Good work team!.

This week:
The Vigilante Registration Act goes live and it is under the command of Col Tigh. Seems the cylons survived after all! Oli signs up. AC knows his past, gets captured. Clark tries to save the day and Lois gets into the group. Lots of mushy stuff.

Pluses:
The Silver Age is about to begin.
Nice tie ins back to the old Lex days.
Lois fighting for her man.
Oli being a guinea pig.
Lovey dovey stuff.
Great to see AC again.

Minuses:
Clark’s speech at the end lacked the passion that Lois’ had.
Still doesn’t feel like a cohesive unit.
The Omega symbol… really?

This season certainly took a while to find his feet, but it is finally here. This episode had everything. Overall arc, minor character return, not one, but two super heroes shirtless, and a cylon.

#fourpandas
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So What's Up with CityCycle? Some Questions Answered

citycycle rack newfarm

Fantastic shot by StephenK1977 via Flickr

I was thinking about what I was going to write next week to commemorate 2 months of citycycling around BrisVegas when today CityCycle (JCDecaux) called me.

At first I thought it was going to be that survey that was doing the rounds a month or so back. Instead it was someone to answer my questions – someone who actually knew some answers and had a positive attitude… totally unlike my second last experience with their Call Centre team.

I was gobsmacked recently when I rode past Commercial/Florence St #65 after a little under a week away to see the once busy station closed – red guards in place and everything. This station is used a lot by the Bulimba crowd, so I couldn’t understand why it was closed, especially given that stations #66 and #67 (the large stations built for the bus hub and cross river ferry) had yet to open.

So I sent an email and expected one of the typical emails back. Instead, I got a phone call and since this person was in the know and helpful, decided to ask all the questions that no one else seemed to have been able to answer.

So why is #65 closed given that it is currently the only station near the ferry terminal?
Oh. It is closed for two weeks due to building construction next to the site and then it will be open again.

When are the other stations (66/67) going to open?
Early 2011.

BREAKING NEWS: CityCycle has opened station #67 – Vernon Tce and Commercial Rd 24 hours after saying it wouldn’t open till 2011. I will pretend it is because I told them that you couldn’t catch the CityCat there and that people needed a station for the cross river ferry. In truth I go back to my communication comment, as he physically looked up the stations in the system for opening dates. No surprised they can’t communicate with the general public if they can’t even get their internal communication right.

So not late 2010? (as per advertising)
Unfortunately no, 2011.

CityCycle South Bank

One station now live kinda close to South Bank - but isn't a major station

So does this mean that the stations at Southbank are going to be early 2011?
We don’t know. We are waiting for signoff from Southbank Corporation.

(????) So it has nothing to do with you?
Waiting for Southbank.

What about the people who have signed up but can’t actually use the system at all or as it is supposed to be used? When Merthyr Village went down I got a number of weeks added to my account. Some people still can’t ride at all.
We are doing extensions for those subscribers.

There was some idle banter but that is the crux of it.

Another great shot by StephenK1977

Now we already know that the problem with the inital construction of the stations (some are still being built) is the Brisbane City Council. But what I (and others I had spoken to) wasn’t aware that the hold up with getting stations into Southbank, possibly the most relevant place to have them is Southbank itself. Now we know that Southbank is a state owned corporation, and were recently in the news due to planning rights negatively impacting the BCC – at the time I was thinking so what? The ABC is getting a nice new studio finally! Now of course it directly impacts me and dang it all if I don’t agree with Can-do Campbell. (For those keeping count, we are at 3 things) Why, if this has been signed off on and part of the service level agreement has it not been signed off?

What I foolishly didn’t ask was why there was such a hold up on the other stations (blown back from late 2010 to early 2011) – because there is a station just near Southbank that would be awesome. I also didn’t ask why they didn’t communicate to their users that the station #65 was going to close temporarily. They did post on their webpage (and I use the term literally not flatteringly) that they had opened six new stations, taking their total to 57. How did I find out? BCC twitter account – CityCycle’s communication team does not exist I have decided. I have commented a couple of times in previous pieces and interviews that their communication, or rather lack of it, is their biggest challenge.

57 < 100. 43 in a month is just not going to happen.

It is great to hear though that subscribers who have bought their card to “change they way you move” will get extensions – though I suggest you probably need to call the Call Centre to get that done.

So let’s talk about the last few weeks of CityCycle.

First up – a HUGE improvement on the movement of bikes in New Farm, Teneriffe and The Valley. Within 48 hours of my radio interview on Brisbane’s #1 breakfast show (That is ABC Brisbane612) bikes were being regularly shuffled. I could check in on the app during the day and see the stations getting evened out. So 10 points for fixing that.

Secondly, they finally opened my second (of three) local stations. I finally don’t have to cycle up a hill to rack my bike after riding for 25mins. That is worth another 30 points.

Thirdly, they have finished construction on my third station – located at Malt St – so soon I can skip the hills and coast downhill into the city – YAY! Please open this station soon, but for finally finishing it – you can have another 20 points.

Forthly, you opened up the stations at The Palace Barracks and Palace Centro (local station recently opened) in time for BIFF. I can’t tell you how great it was to be able to cycle to BIFF. Not having to pay for parking or circle and circle to find a park in a side street when the carpark is full at The Barracks was just awesome. Cycling home (mostly down hill) after 9pm at night with the cool breeze past my face was brilliant. Dodging drunken twats in The Valley, not so much.

Fifthly, their response to my email – a call was super nice – so another 10 points there. Normally I get an email like this one. You do get a response quickly which is good, and I have seen them action an email, fixing a station problem.

Prompt but soulless.

Sixthly, I am seeing a lot more people riding. I am seeing more people heading back from work and on the weekends it remains very popular. I am changing roles, so hopefully my next position will see me working near a CityCycle station!

The only negatives has been 2 faulty bikes – 1 with a faulty seat lever and 1 with dodgy gears, and of course their woeful communication with the public and their users.
My suggestions: Get a Communications person on board – my contract finishes on December 3rd – so I am available. Update your app so I can email you directly from it, rather than having to go onto the webpage on my mobile device. Get a twitter account – I saw a tweet the other day asking the BCC CityCycle questions. Communicate with your users.

Things are slowly turning the corner for CityCycle. A couple of friends of mine just moved into the next street from me, I asked them if they were going to subscribed – they said yes. Good sign.

#threepandas

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So What’s Up with CityCycle? Some Questions Answered

citycycle rack newfarm

Fantastic shot by StephenK1977 via Flickr

I was thinking about what I was going to write next week to commemorate 2 months of citycycling around BrisVegas when today CityCycle (JCDecaux) called me.

At first I thought it was going to be that survey that was doing the rounds a month or so back. Instead it was someone to answer my questions – someone who actually knew some answers and had a positive attitude… totally unlike my second last experience with their Call Centre team.

I was gobsmacked recently when I rode past Commercial/Florence St #65 after a little under a week away to see the once busy station closed – red guards in place and everything. This station is used a lot by the Bulimba crowd, so I couldn’t understand why it was closed, especially given that stations #66 and #67 (the large stations built for the bus hub and cross river ferry) had yet to open.

So I sent an email and expected one of the typical emails back. Instead, I got a phone call and since this person was in the know and helpful, decided to ask all the questions that no one else seemed to have been able to answer.

So why is #65 closed given that it is currently the only station near the ferry terminal?
Oh. It is closed for two weeks due to building construction next to the site and then it will be open again.

When are the other stations (66/67) going to open?
Early 2011.

BREAKING NEWS: CityCycle has opened station #67 – Vernon Tce and Commercial Rd 24 hours after saying it wouldn’t open till 2011. I will pretend it is because I told them that you couldn’t catch the CityCat there and that people needed a station for the cross river ferry. In truth I go back to my communication comment, as he physically looked up the stations in the system for opening dates. No surprised they can’t communicate with the general public if they can’t even get their internal communication right.

So not late 2010? (as per advertising)
Unfortunately no, 2011.

CityCycle South Bank

One station now live kinda close to South Bank - but isn't a major station

So does this mean that the stations at Southbank are going to be early 2011?
We don’t know. We are waiting for signoff from Southbank Corporation.

(????) So it has nothing to do with you?
Waiting for Southbank.

What about the people who have signed up but can’t actually use the system at all or as it is supposed to be used? When Merthyr Village went down I got a number of weeks added to my account. Some people still can’t ride at all.
We are doing extensions for those subscribers.

There was some idle banter but that is the crux of it.

Another great shot by StephenK1977

Now we already know that the problem with the inital construction of the stations (some are still being built) is the Brisbane City Council. But what I (and others I had spoken to) wasn’t aware that the hold up with getting stations into Southbank, possibly the most relevant place to have them is Southbank itself. Now we know that Southbank is a state owned corporation, and were recently in the news due to planning rights negatively impacting the BCC – at the time I was thinking so what? The ABC is getting a nice new studio finally! Now of course it directly impacts me and dang it all if I don’t agree with Can-do Campbell. (For those keeping count, we are at 3 things) Why, if this has been signed off on and part of the service level agreement has it not been signed off?

What I foolishly didn’t ask was why there was such a hold up on the other stations (blown back from late 2010 to early 2011) – because there is a station just near Southbank that would be awesome. I also didn’t ask why they didn’t communicate to their users that the station #65 was going to close temporarily. They did post on their webpage (and I use the term literally not flatteringly) that they had opened six new stations, taking their total to 57. How did I find out? BCC twitter account – CityCycle’s communication team does not exist I have decided. I have commented a couple of times in previous pieces and interviews that their communication, or rather lack of it, is their biggest challenge.

57 < 100. 43 in a month is just not going to happen.

It is great to hear though that subscribers who have bought their card to “change they way you move” will get extensions – though I suggest you probably need to call the Call Centre to get that done.

So let’s talk about the last few weeks of CityCycle.

First up – a HUGE improvement on the movement of bikes in New Farm, Teneriffe and The Valley. Within 48 hours of my radio interview on Brisbane’s #1 breakfast show (That is ABC Brisbane612) bikes were being regularly shuffled. I could check in on the app during the day and see the stations getting evened out. So 10 points for fixing that.

Secondly, they finally opened my second (of three) local stations. I finally don’t have to cycle up a hill to rack my bike after riding for 25mins. That is worth another 30 points.

Thirdly, they have finished construction on my third station – located at Malt St – so soon I can skip the hills and coast downhill into the city – YAY! Please open this station soon, but for finally finishing it – you can have another 20 points.

Forthly, you opened up the stations at The Palace Barracks and Palace Centro (local station recently opened) in time for BIFF. I can’t tell you how great it was to be able to cycle to BIFF. Not having to pay for parking or circle and circle to find a park in a side street when the carpark is full at The Barracks was just awesome. Cycling home (mostly down hill) after 9pm at night with the cool breeze past my face was brilliant. Dodging drunken twats in The Valley, not so much.

Fifthly, their response to my email – a call was super nice – so another 10 points there. Normally I get an email like this one. You do get a response quickly which is good, and I have seen them action an email, fixing a station problem.

Prompt but soulless.

Sixthly, I am seeing a lot more people riding. I am seeing more people heading back from work and on the weekends it remains very popular. I am changing roles, so hopefully my next position will see me working near a CityCycle station!

The only negatives has been 2 faulty bikes – 1 with a faulty seat lever and 1 with dodgy gears, and of course their woeful communication with the public and their users.
My suggestions: Get a Communications person on board – my contract finishes on December 3rd – so I am available. Update your app so I can email you directly from it, rather than having to go onto the webpage on my mobile device. Get a twitter account – I saw a tweet the other day asking the BCC CityCycle questions. Communicate with your users.

Things are slowly turning the corner for CityCycle. A couple of friends of mine just moved into the next street from me, I asked them if they were going to subscribed – they said yes. Good sign.

#threepandas

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Review – Mad Men – Blowing Smoke and Tomorrowland

What once I despised I have become.

I finally got around to seeing the last two episodes in Mad Men. I always meant to, and I was really engaged this series – but stuff came up and I forgot about it. It wasn’t till I was recently house-sitting and going through my media drive for something to watch (their dvd collection was almost non-existent and entirely non-compatible with pandas).

It was actually nice to see these two episodes back to back. From the uncertainty and lack of control in Blowing Smoke to sense of surety that Don felt in Tomorrowland it was such a good conclusion to this season and to his journey. It was also very pleasing in a schadenfreude way to see Betty’s misfortune as she lives out her choices.

Pluses:
Changing the message.
Seeing Don happy (or at least thinking he is happy).
Megan Calvet’s reaction to the milkshake.
Peggy and Joan discussing the development over a cigarette.
Seeing the kids actually happy and acting like a family.
Faye Miller breaking down on the phone.
Betty getting what she deserved.
Sally’s progression through therapy.
Sally’s little friend telling Betty that just because she was said not everyone else had to be.
Those brief moments of almost honesty Don has with the kids and then with Megan.
I also adored how of all the women he has slept with, he loves Megan.
Finally I found it very interesting that for all his snide looks about Roger marrying his secretary, Don will do the same.

Minuses:
No more Dr Miller.
I miss Cooper.
An eternity till next season.

I do wonder if we are going to get another time jump like we did for the start of this season. It was interesting how Dr Miller said that Don only liked the beginning of things, let’s jump past the honeymoon and see them as a family – I wonder if the kids will be with them instead of Betty – who as Sally’s friend correctly said doesn’t like kids. Bring on next year

#fourandahalfpandas

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Review – SGU – Malice

Here little dinosaur creature...

This week:
Grief. Revenge thy name is dinosaur like creatures but your middle name is Rush.

Pluses:
It didn’t suck.
I did like Eli’s reaction.
The lines between right and wrong are redrawn yet again.

Minuses:
No more Gin.
Young, worst leader ever or worst leader ever.
Still no minor character development (other than the two who just died).
Rush, bullet to head now please. Over this character – totally, well and truly over this character.
Scott, boy scout or girl guide?

Let's talk about HOPE!

Seriously is no one ever allowed to be happy on that bloody vessel? When is it going to be panto night? BEHIND YOU! Right now, they aren’t living or fighting for anything, just surviving, and that isn’t living. Every time there is a brief moment of happiness the clouds open and the floods begin again. On one level last night’s episode was a dark little romp, on the other it was incredibly frustrating. What they need is a Katara character to wax lyrically and bossily about hope a bit.

#threepandas
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Review – Community – Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

Learning, Reading and other courses for credit for Greendale's night classes

This week:
When a lie becomes truth and all truth becomes lies. Pillow fort of gigantic proportions. Professor S. Professorson. Britta in a den in iniquity. Best chase scene ever.

Pluses:
Everything from the moment it started to the last second of the closing credits.
So many brilliant lines, infact there has been a lot of quoting going on today in twitter.
Said chase scene.
Toy guns.
Zing, double zing, triple zing, quadruple zing.
Seriously just everything this week was brilliant.

You know it was a killer episode when your twitter has this sort of ongoing conversation that is too long to screen grab.

Negatives:
Not a single thing comes to mind.

From brilliant lines, comebacks, to set pieces and the end credits, this episode is now up there with the bestest ever in Community. I can’t believe they managed to get Annie a gun, let alone say “Annie’s got a gun!” The bar has been reset on what can be done in a primetime sitcom, and we have finally seen the allocation of the mythical and mystical #fivepandas. In other news, Community is going to be up against Idol in the States – but I think we are safe, because only people with brains watch Community – so totally a different market to that of Idol.

#fivepandas

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Review – La Femme Nikita (France 1990)

Did someone ask for gritty and bleak?

I have been loving SBS this month – to celebrate 30 years on the air, they have been playing everyone’s favourite world movies. Over the weekend, while I was engaging in Adventures in Puppy Sitting, I stayed up late to watch the original incarnation of Nikita. It has been years since I saw it and really only remembered a couple of scenes, so given how much I am loving the CW’s redux of Nikita, I had to watch.

Nikita is a junkie, punk bad girl who murders a policeman in cold blood and is convicted of his and the deaths of victims in the movie’s shoot out – which opens the film. Finding herself in a hidden world of training and development at the DGSE (the French CIA), Nikita transfers herself from riding the line of being cancelled (to use the CW’s Nikita’s terms) to being a glowing success – a hot hit woman.

Upon her completion of her training, she starts what she fools herself into thinking is a normal life till the people that made her come calling.The second half of the movie traces her trying to balance her love and pretend life with his boyfriend and the demands made by her true employers.

Pluses:
The disparity between worlds.
Viktor.
Lies and the lies to hide the lies.
People looked real, unlike the US versions.
Believable characters trying to live in a world out of their control.
Brilliant set pieces – that restaurant scene is just glorious.
The dark humour littered throughout the movie.

Minuses:
Some bits were a tad over the top, but I think it was to show the differences.
By some bits, I mean the overacting of Anne Parillaud.
The unlikely relationships she develops.

Even with the effects of time (learning what a mouse is hehhe) it is still a dark adventure into an under world beyond the law. It was certainly ahead of its time and spawned a successful ongoing franchise. All that being said, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. I loved how gritty it was, but its over the top depiction of wild Nikita just saw me lack empathy for the protagonist.

#threeandahalfpandas

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Review – Smallville – Abandoned

Well of course I have krytonite in my blades. It is also in my breast implants.

This week:
Tess goes back to where it all began, and she had no clue what was coming (me either – nice twist!). Lois sticks her nose into Cal-El’s and Jor-El’s relationship in true Lois style. Clark gets his shirt off again. No Oli though shirtless this week (for a change) – in fact, no Oli.

Pluses:
Great backstory to Tess – especially after mini Lex told her how weak she was the other week.
Ohhh supervillan trio, huzzah!
DarkSide may be out of sight but is not forgotten.
Lois and her mum (nice HT to The Adventures of Lois and Clark by casting Terri Hatcher as her mum).
Tess’ real family.
Clark having some family time.

Minuses:
Super ninja girls with Kryptonite weapons – like you do.
Bit contrived – felt more cartoony that many episodes for a while.
No Oli.
I still think Granny Goodness is just a stupid arse name.

Overall this was a nice episode, that tied up some things and opened some new doors – it was all about threes. Lois, the General and her mum; Lois, Clark and Jor-El; Clark, Lois and his Dad; Clark, his Mum and his Dad; Tess, Granny and her real father and the Dark Trio. The only non-three was Clark and Tess – and as such I kept expecting Oli. I do look forward to our Dark Trio in coming weeks and hope Clark can stop moping around and step up. Even since Clark came out (so to speak) Lois has been the strong one in the relationship. A bit too fillerish and cartoony for me to truly love this ep, but still a nice little romp.

#twoandahalfpandas
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Review – The Walking Dead – 1st 3 eps

Here we come, walkin' Down the street. We get the funniest looks from Ev'ry one we meet.

Review encompassing: Pilot, Guts and Tell it to the Frogs

I am not much of a horror loving Panda.

What gets me isn’t the blood and guts (more on guts later) but the suspense.

I can’t stand it.

Scary suspense even more so. It took me two goes to watch the pilot of The Walking Dead. The first run though, I didn’t make it past him entering the stairwell – yes I was that much of a sook. This time round though, I was in a bright airy lounge room while house sitting, with a guard dog pressed up next to me to keep me safe.

I really (REALLY) enjoyed the first three eps. For me the character driven under lays of the show was remarkably enjoyable. Yes there are the Walkers out there, and yes we are seeing people outside (way outside) of their comfort zones dealing with this problem, but the truth behind the characters still shone through thanks to great writing and acting by the cast. Some of the scenes were just so wonderfully shot, graphic novel perfect I am sure, with the imagery a constant reminder to the truth of their situation.

The first episode really set the scene and delved into the confusion and conflict felt by the survivors as well as their desire to make it through.
The second episode for me was my favourite of the three. The humour, the characters and the situations were just brilliant. OMG and the gutsy guts scene was just out of this world.
The third episode was much more character based with little Walker action, which was good because we got to see that survivors are still dealing with issues they were dealing with before the Fall (to use a BSG term) as well as dealing with the fall out of decisions they made post Fall.

Pluses:
Believable characters in a situation that is beyond belief.
Real world problems continue on.
Rag tag bunch of heroes.
Zombie makeup and acting is just awesome.
Loving the character if Glenn and his dark exuberance.
Dynamic between Lori and Shane now her husband is back.
Some of the set pieces in Atlanta were stunning.

Minuses:
Still getting to know the characters – which I guess is what the third episode was about.
Still don’t know what really happened – soon I am sure.

I haven’t read the graphic novels so I don’t know where this is going or what is going to be the big cross roads in the arc, but please don’t tell me as I want to discover it with the general audience

#fourandahalfpandas
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Review – Caprica – Blowback

The exits are located here, here and here.

This week:
A trap is set for a STO member hiding in plain sight amongst Caprica’s finest. Lucy Rand arrives on Gemenon, hijinks ensue. Clarice’s religious fervour knows no bounds. Amanda in the Lion’s Den. Daniel is running out of time and discovers an uncomfortable truth. Sam can’t believe Joseph and Joseph sells out his morals and memories.

Pluses:
Even more reasons why the clyons are monotheistic.
Great set piece on the jump ship even if it was predictable.
Sam’s reaction when he finds out about the cylons and just to whom they are being sold.
The cylon in action.
The harsh true nature of the STO exhibited both on Geminon and on Caprica.
No Zoe.

Minuses:
No Zoe again which makes me fearful or a Zoe centric ep coming our way.
Grace – shudderific.
What ever happened to Serge?

On the heels of the announcement of their cancellation – Blowback reminds us why this can be such a strong show. Unfortunately we spent too much time on the Greystones (particularly Daniel and to some extent Zoe) in the middle of this journey – and they aren’t really where the story is at. Yes they created the cylons but their real “birth” isn’t their building, but their evolution – which seems to be outside of Greystone Industries. The Tauran subplot is also strong, as is the STO when it isn’t just religious rhetoric. Unfortunately it is too late for this show, but I will continue to delve into the world before the Fall on Caprica.

#fourpandas

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