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Star Trek – Bread and Circuses (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Bread and Circuses is not subtle. Then again, that is the point.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in Bread and Circuses, the fourteenth episode produced for the second season, but the last to air. There’s the idea of a world dominated by “a twentieth century Rome”, a rogue captain, a Prime Directive dilemma and a scathing indictment of modern television. Not only is it one of the last episodes with a “produced by Gene L. Coon” credit, it is also an episode co-written by Roddenberry and Coon. It is also the episode of Star Trek that endorses Christianity most explicitly and heavily.

"Wait, we're only getting it in black and white?"

“Wait, we’re only getting it in black and white?”

Bread and Circuses is a bold and audacious piece of television, full of venom and righteous anger, rich in satire and cynicism. It’s a plot so ridiculously over-stuffed with good ideas that viewers are liable to forgive the show’s somewhat cop-out ending where Kirk and his away team beam back to the Enterprise and continue on their merry way as though little has actually happened. Bread and Circuses feels like it uses every minute of its fifty-minute runtime wisely, balancing character with world-building.

It is probably a little bit too messy and disjointed to be labelled a dyed-in-the-wool classic, particularly when compared to the shows produced around it. Nevertheless, it is a decidedly ambitious piece of work, and one that demonstrates what Star Trek could do when it sets its mind to something.

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

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Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (Review/Retrospective)

With the release of Marvel’s big-budget superhero action movie Thor this summer, we’re taking a month to celebrate the God of Thunder. Check back each Wednesday for a Thor-related review.

One of the slew of hardcovers released to coincide with Kenneth Branagh’s epic adaptation of the classic Marvel comic book Thor, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is basically just a repackaging of the classic four issue Loki miniseries written by Robert Rodi and painted by Esad Ribic in the nineties. Much like Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, the miniseries was repackaged with a slew of extras and re-released in order to capitalise on a hungry market place. (Luthor, as it was rebranded, was released after the success of the another villain-themed graphic novel from the same creative team, the superb Joker). Still, despite the fact that the “Thor &” part of the title was just stuck on there to tie the book to the film, it’s a lovely little story which perfectly captures a lot of the charm and appeal that the Norse backdrop offers to epic comic book stories.

Commander and (mis)chief...

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Final Crisis (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. Later on today, we’ll be reviewing Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, so I thought I might take a look at a comic book tale which was heavy on Superman, Darkseid and Batman…

This epic elegy for a doomed civilisation, declining from splendor to squalor. This Final Crisis. This last ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure.

– Grant Morrison outlines the whole point of the book, in case you weren’t paying attention… in a narration which deserves to be read in the most pompously ridiculous style possible

Look, I could hitch a ride back with you. I have a real talent for gritty drama no one’s ever thought to exploit.

– Merryman makes a pitch for “relevance” in the hopes of escaping comic book “limbo”

Destruction or creation. Everything or nothing. A universe full or a universe empty. Life or anti-life. Grant Morrison certainly lives up to his reputation as a frustrating and challenging author – is Final Crisis the statement of a genre looking to make peace with itself, or nonsensical Silver Age surrealism repackaged for a modern world? Is it pretentious or profound? Insightful or devoid of interest? Can’t it be both, or are these mutually exclusive states?

We all knew Obama was Superman…

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Internet Advertising…

I love it when movies make an effort to embrace new technology. It can be something as careful and precise as the carefully orchestrated internet campaign of The Dark Knight (“I believe in Harvey Dent”) or the slow and steady burn of Tron Legacy over two years, or it can even be more direct than that. I thought I might share two of the more wonderfully internet-specific trailers I’ve ever seen, released within a week of each other. These are pretty much ways of publicising a movie that could only work on-line. The first is the interactive Scott Pilgrim trailer. As if we needed more reason to get excited about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

A game changer? (click to view)

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