Scorpion, Season Finale

The season finale to the new show, Scorpion aired recently! Well, taken into account when you read this, it might not be all that recent. Anyway, Scorpion is about a team of geniuses that can’t function well enough to pay their electric bills. That’s when an old government friend of the team leader shows up to offer them a job, turn them into special consultants. In the first episode, they bring in a normal woman so she could help them not piss off every client and they can help her with her genius son. Thus, Scorpion is born.

I have to say, everything in this show is jacked up in terms of how complex it is to do certain things. Like, all the failsafes fail and opening a door takes some super hacking and special contraption to do. The universe is conspiring to have everything break in the worst ways possible just so a normal person would have no idea how to fix the thing.

And then the actual people with the guns and the fighting knowledge all either get sidelined or incapacitated, thus the Scorpion team, unarmed and untrained (except for their government pal) has to handle the dangerous parts as well.

The first episode of felt much to manic. They had too much to set up, needing every character to do something important. Later episodes could slow thing down a bit and turned out better. They had a variety of interesting cases, as well with some that even had no bad guy, such as saving a kid from a cave or rescuing people stranded out in the woods. Of course the difficulty of the tasks gets ramped way up.

There were plenty of cases with bad guys, too, and they faced opposition ranging from hackers to terrorists to other geniuses. There is a definite variety to the kinds of missions that gets handed to them.

There is a slow growth of the characters that go through the season. It’s the subplot in each episode but the overall plot that ties everything together. Each genius is quirky in their own way and each gets some fun scenes. The second plot is between the Team Leader and their Government Pal (yes, I’m using that as their pronouns now) and what happened between them as they used to be friends.

I feel the the character moments works well and just enough is sprinkled throughout. Still, thinking back on the cases, a whole lot of stuff goes wrong or gets worse solely to justify needing a team of geniuses. I predict soon, there will be an episode with traffic congestion and they need to hotwire a train to get somewhere in time. Because geniuses gotta do things the hard way.

Fun show, though.

Milly, the Mountain Province, Underground

Welcome to my ideas and reasonings behind the characters in the Mountain Province of Dorr! Mostly, I will be talking about the Sessa, the snake-like race that lives there. First off, from what I know about snakes, their preferred habitats are wooded areas. So I pretty much have no reasoning behind making a mountain terrain with 0 trees the home of the snake-like people. I’m sorry.

But yeah, there is a history to Dorr that forces all of the Sessa underground. A long time ago, they lived above ground with the rock giants until relations turned sour between them. That forced the Sessa to go underground. I wanted to make some cool underground cities, though I think I like crisscrossing tunnels with only the occasional grand chamber. The large open places are the most important areas. Most of the cities are more comprised up of tunnels with buildings and homes carved into them. So it’s not as impressive as the dwarven cities in the films of the Lord of the Rings. I do enjoy a smaller space, but not claustrophic. Oh no, there’s still more than enough room for stuff.

The Sessa have the upperbody of a human but the lower body of a snake. I suppose they reproduce the same way snakes do, not people. Their bodies continue to grow as long as their alive, so it’s possible to tell how old one is by how long it is. That was why I made the King of the Sessa so long. The Sessa show respect through eye contact, reverance by being lower than the person they are talking to, and dominance by being higher. They don’t expect that of other races, though they will subtly change height to the amount of respect they think should be shown.

The Sessa also like to call people by their titles instead of their names. Names are only for family and close friends. Though that also means each Sessa can be called several different things during the day since their roles might not be apparent on visual cue. The Sessa will always introduce themselves with their official position, and that will be the title used if known.

I might have been thinking of Helms Deep when I named the capital of Dorr Crown Deep. I designed the bright cavern and cave sprites to sort of resemble the black dust things found in Totoro, only not black. I did want to add a bit of whimsy as the Sessa were more serious of a race. I’m pretty sure I made up everything on the fly at that point, such as why Milly was ordered to collect the dust as anything other than an obvious test. But hey, I thought that an underground city still needed to tell time, so I had that be the reason.

I made the lava field just to have one more adventure in the land. It was always planned and was not a filler event. I wanted a place where Gale’s leg would be, and I wanted it to be someplace special. Geeze, her other body parts will be completely hazardous to get to at this rate.

This is getting a bit long, so I’ll get to the characters next time! It’ll give me time to look up the King since he’s not in my notes for some reason.

John Wick

I have recently watched John Wick, the action movie starring Keanu Reeves. I didn’t know too much about it when I went in other than what I said in the previous sentence. I originally thought it would be more movie-actiony, but it turned out to be a series and more realistic movie. Or about as realistic as one-man army action movie protagonists can be.

Sure, if you want to sum it up, you can say that his movie is about John Wick going on a killing rampage because some jerk killed his dog. But that undermines his feelings on the entire situation. At the lowest point of his life, John Wick received one final gift from his deceased wife, the dog, and now some asshole just ups and kills it. The dog was more than just a dog, it was his grieving mechanism as well as a hold onto a normal life. Without it, he slips back into being the feared hitman.

Despite the dog not having much screentime, I think its impact can be felt through how little character interaction or dialogue is present in the first part of the film. It’s not until after John Wick returns that characters really begin to speak and action begins to happen.

As for the action scenes, at first I was thinking it would be much more over the top and bombastic, something like Shoot ‘Em Up. However, John Wick takes a more realistic approach. People don’t die in one shot, John always tries to go for the finishing headshot when possible. He also struggles a lot more when going in for hand-to-hand combat. But the action really is fast and brutal with some great scenes going on all throughout.

I would have to say my favorite part of the movie is all of the hitman background stuff, the things that they never call attention to as it’s not the goal of John, but is shown quite a lot. It makes being a hitman seem like joining an exclusive secret club. The members pay in gold coins. They can reserve dinners (read that as body cleanup). They have a their own hotel with a bar. Doctors are on call 24/7. You get to skip lines at hot clubs. It’s like the life of being a rich person, only with more killing going on.

I feel that the hitman society parts add the fun to the movie in an otherwise serious piece about a man grieving over his lost wife. And seeing how everyone treats John Wick really sets him up to be the badass he’s shown in the movie.

This is a more serious take on the action-hero scene and it is a great one. Yep. I’m thinking he’s back. Yep. That line has totally been said too many times.

Milly, the Mountain Province

Time for some more notes on the story of Milly! This time, I’ll be talking about the Monutain Province of Dorr.

For that province, I wanted a sort of dark tone that ranges from sunset to night in brightness level. I suppose I wanted the romantic look of rays of light peeking over the peaks of the mountains and looking up at the star-filled night with mountains all around. Really, most of these provinces are indulging in some sort of scenery that I like.

So another thing I enjoy is hot springs! And what better place to put hot springs than in the Mountain Province? I enjoy those full service hot springs with a place to sleep and eat in addition to bathing. It comes with both private baths and public pools. The feel was supposed to be grandiose, surrounded on all sides by steep walls with the constant fall of waterfalls all around.

In order to make all that mountainous terrain a bit more magical, I included crystal formations. There’s no real reason for it other than looking cool. I forgot the exact name, but remember the zone in World of Warcraft directly underneath the floating city of Dalaran? I imagine there is a spot that looks like that in Dorr.

Still, all mountains would make for a boring view, so I added in volcanoes! I am conscious that heat radiates outwards, and it would be scorching hot anywhere near the volcanos, so I tried to mitigate that with the magems.

To further up the magical nature, I added in the rock giants. They were a fairly late addition in the planning phase, not really being there until I needed them for plot convenience. I wanted each province to be large, yet I did not want the realistic travel times that walking would bring. Not to mention just how badly Milly’s sneakers would be ruined. I’ll probably give Milly new shoes next book.

Anyway, I made the rock giants both to give a splash to color to the landscape and to give her an easy way around. But then came another problem of them revealing too muc about the past I didn’t want to go into at the moment, so I decided to make it so that they have to remember backwards at some speed that would mean it would take too long to be practical. Whew. Dodged that bullet with some bs explanation.

For fun, I made it so that the oldest rock giants actually do become the mountain, and just to head of any questions about how new rock giants are formed, I had one being born right in the story. Though that still doesn’t understand the question of where the heart came from. I’ll just say concentrated lava + magic.

On the animals living in the Mountain Province, I chose to base it on fiery versions of insects, arachnids and molluscs. I’m not sure why, I just I like the way their bodies would glow. They have the most interesting movements for that. I originally wanted a scene where Milly was riding a lava snail but couldn’t figure out how to work it in. Oh well.

Next time, I’ll talk about the underground of Dorr as well as the characters that live there!

Furious 7

Oh man, it’s the Furious 7. It’s finally out. I have seen all the movies, though out of order. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to them by number rather than their own title things. I saw 1, 5 (which got me back into the series), 2, 4, 3, 6 and now 7.

Furious 7 continues the trend set by 5 and 6. That means it makes physics bend over and take it. The plane takedown scene in 6 is still my favorite, but 7 pulls of some great and ridiculous stunts. Any normal people would have died many times over, but by now you should all know that the team has superhuman durability. The bad guys get pretty physical as well.

The action scenes are great as always. Things normally done with people, such as cornering someone against a cliff, is now done with cars. Other things done with cars? Skydiving. Man, Fast and Furious.

Furious 7 intersperses the action and crazy hijinks with some poignant character moments, but it never loses the fun and awesomeness. And everything can be solved with the right car. The quiet scenes bring a sense that the characters are people that feel deeply pained by what’s been going on.

Basically, if you’ve watched at least 5 and 6, you’ll want to see this and see how the story ends. They might make some more Fast and Furious movies after this, but it will be different due to the unfornate real life death of Paul Walker. Many scenes in the movie feel overly tragic with what happened, but at the end, they added in their tribute to him in a touching way.

They managed to complete the movie very well. I’m not sure just how much they got done with the filming, but the final product very much feels like he’s still there all the time. They did a great job finishing up the film that kept the character of Brian O’Connor throughout.

Moving on to some spoilers for the movie.

I wanted more Sean (Lucas Black) and Twinkie (Bow Wow), actually. I don’t care that they’re technically still playing teenagers despite the actors aging 9 years or so. Sure, Tokyo Drift wasn’t as well-recieved as as the others in the series, but I was hoping they would join the team ever since the end of 6. Even as back late as 4, Sean felt like he could have driven with the team, but I suppose with 5 and 6, there was no way that was happening. But their scenes amounted to just a tiny bit more than what we saw at the end of 3.

As for the bad guy, Jason Statham plays the older brother of the previous movies villain. And from what you know of Owen Shaw, the older brother should be awesome. The character does not disappoint. He hounds the protagonists for most of the movie without any backup at all, and he’s going up against five or so people.

The other villain, and yes, there are two, is played by Djimon Hounsou. He barely got any mentioning in promotional materials, I think. He actually only feels threatening because he brings all the weapons. But he certainly is more active compared to the other movies’ boss type ordering people around villains. And that way, it doesn’t take away from Jason Statham’s one man wrecker even when they do eventually team up.

Also, Inspector Hobbs is awesome, as always.

And I got to wonder if they planned out movies 4, 5, 6 and 7 since the ending of the 3rd? If so, that was some really long foreshadowing going on. But I enjoy that kind of planning, so bravo.

Goodbye, Paul.

Milly, Wizard Province Characters

Welcome to my design notes on the characters in the Wizard Province of Aretto! Of course, this is for my story, Milly.

To start with, I will talk about Carl Ross, the previous child that got drawn into the world of Benaville. For some reason, I want all people from the regular world to have two first names as names. I don’t know if he will be a huge part of the story. He’ll mostly just be around to give advice from time to time, I suppose, and Milly will use his notes to help her out. Carl is still pretty bitter about never getting home, but maybe he’ll soften up in later books. I haven’t really decided much with his character.

Soarwidhe was a fun character to make. I wanted to do my own take on dragon etiquettes and stuff. They aren’t overly stuffy or formal in my story. Also, his name is officially pronounced Soar-wee. My logic for that is from the word banshee, which is spelled bean-sidhe in Gaelic. I don’t know if that sidhe will keep the same pronounciation if given to widhe, but that’s what I am going with. I enjoyed making him a bit of a shy guy. He’s not one of those all roar and breathe fire dragons.

After the second book, Soarwidhe is going to ferry around Milly for free! Though it still won’t be that easy getting around since that would take the adventure away. I’ll try to use him sparingly. Also, I will introduce the dragon islands floating in the clouds above Benavill some book. Not sure how, yet, but I will.

Sio Ois is from the from the Province of Balab. Their race likes symmetry, though not palindromes since that would be hard to make up sentences for. I’ll talk more about their culture later once I write the book introducing them. Sio will be an ally in the future. Thanks to Milly getting him the Rainbow Star, he gets to a much better situation and moves back to Balab.

Nikus is the current leader of Aretto. He still doesn’t have absolute power, but most people will listen to him. He is the adventuring buddy of Carl Ross back in the day. I don’t know how much I will play on what happened in the past and how they tie in with the present. For now, he’s mostly a convenient way for Milly to get people to believe her.

Ina filled the Nikus role back when Nikus was with Carl Ross. If that made any sense. She probably will be the one that wants to follow the rules, since Nikus is more willing to help out Milly with more resources.

Cornwilla, yes, that annoying girl from Eastown. This will be some spoilers for the third book, but she will not only be a major character, but I want her to be the point of view character. And she will be working against Milly initially due to the feeling of being cheated out of her victory in the talent competition. For now, she is the only other character that I plan to have a point-of-view book, and only for that one book. Not sure why, but I think it will be fun. I’ll try to describe things differently when compared to Milly.

That’s about all the characters I want to talk about. There may or may not be more important characters living in Aretto that have already been introduced. But I want to keep some secrets. Mmhmmhmm.

Season Lengths

This is just my musing on how shows need the right season length. I am not a professional in any part of the industry, so mostly it’s just me talking about my thoughts. This should not be used as anything other than entertainment value, or print it out and keep it in the bathroom for those times.

Most shows in the US have either a twenty-two to twenty-four episode season with some having half that. I know that in other countries, the season lengths are different. I do like having a high amount of episodes since that means I get to see more of the characters and plot I enjoy before the show goes on break. But at times, I think its important to consider each show separately for what kind of length it needs.

This might apply to books as well, but I’m not sure how much of a length enforcement publishers use. But all stories have an optimal length to tell its plot. Having something be too long can have a detrimental effect. I’ll just stick with television since they usually have budget commitments to season lengths. Note that the previous sentence may or may not be just how I think TV shows work.

Anyway, depending on the kind of episode and plot the TV show has, the length of the season would affect the quality. If the show is mostly episodic in nature, it might not be as important. But people get tired working on the show all the time, both production staff, writers and actors. Writers might come up with less good ideas without some time off doing other stuff, Things would start to get weird. But an episodic show could possibly take any length season that the staff is willing to handle.

For more plot based shows, there is only so much important story that is going to come up in any season. So what happens if the show has too many episodes? Random stuff coming up. What happens in the show has too few? The plot will feel rushed. That is why for more long-arc based shows, having the right amount of episodes per season is important. It keeps things from feeling like they are dragging or introducing random side-characters just to have time to fill.

I always find that if the main plot I want to watch gets sidetracked by other characters, it annoys me. Of course, that depends a lot on how well the other characters are written and how much they interest me. But it can be inferred that you watch the show for the main characters just because they would be the most prominent ones around. The side characters can be fun, and their plot doesn’t even need to have a huge impact on the main going ons, but I also feel it shouldn’t drag on too much or take up too much episode time.

Having a season length be too short would have the opposite effect of me not getting enough of the show. Condensing things means in order to get out all of the necessary plot, world-building and character-building would have to take a back seat.

In general, I would prefer longer seasons to shorter ones just because for shows I enjoy, I would want more. But a bit more flexbility with the amount of episodes per season could help shows feel more evenly paced, I feel.

Remember, the above is just the ramblings of someone that does not know the inner workings of TV show production and should not be taken as anything other than something fun to do when you have nothing else.