Thursday 11 July 2024

A Quantum Microcosm, Shared In The Entanglement Of Synchronicity (New Quantum Leap Season 1) [Part 4]

We have already made much about how the first season of New Quantum Leap runs on the theme of trust. To that point, then, the antagonistic thematic force of such a series can only be mistrust, which is exactly what we uncover when the full scope of the mysterious mystery is revealed to us. Breaking linearity once and for all, let's talk about what is learned when the answers are before us. 30 years into the future, in the year 2051, the world has ended thanks to global thermonuclear war. The remnants of the United States military blame Project Quantum Leap for the apocalypse, assuming that somewhere somehow they must have broken time and created this horrible timeline where everyone is dead. In a last ditch effort to use the power of quantum leaping to put right what once went wrong, a loyal soldier and patriot named Richard Martinez is sent leaping through time and space. His leaps take him to at least three other moments in time where a wrong must be corrected, and his ultimate goal is Project Quantum Leap itself, in the year 2018, where he will put the needs of the many over the needs of the few and destroy the quantum leap accelerator himself there. With no illusions as to his own ability to get back, Martinez is like many soldiers before him in making the ultimate sacrifice and making the hard choice to lose some lives in order to do what he thinks is right.

Wednesday 10 July 2024

A Quantum Microcosm, Shared In The Entanglement Of Synchronicity (New Quantum Leap Season 1) [Part 3]

Following a slow start, new Quantum Leap really got the ball rolling before its midseason break. The back half of the season is even stronger, featuring not just more great episodes but some truly transcendental ones. Part of what helps them is the fact that more of the mysteries of the season are being uncovered, and we get to see how the characters react to them. Even episodes that I did consider "just okay" on initial watch have some strong heft to them when reconsidered for this. The first episode back from the break, Fellow Travellers, is one such show. I remembered it being a fine episode about Ben being a bodyguard for a famous singer in the 70's trying to prevent her death, but there are some neat things under the hood. For one, now that I'm sitting here thinking about it there's the haunting reminder of Caitlin Davies from Miami Vice. For another, and more pertinent to what's actually in the show as opposed to just the landmarks of my internal landscape, is that mirroring again. The singer's anger over not being told how her life was in danger is mirrored by Addison's fury over Ben's leaping through time and space to "protect her" from a nebulous something instead of talking to her like a normal adult. Both women want the agency, power, and knowledge needed to protect themselves instead of having Ben do it for them. 

As for the other "just okay" episodes, Paging Dr. Song is a medical drama which takes great focus in how the for-profit nature of the American healthcare system will prioritize said profit over saving lives. Two episodes later has Family Style, a leap about helping an Indian family successfully keep their restaurant afloat. It has some poignancy to it, with Ben seeing his own late mother in the matriarch of the leapee's family, and he gets a nice heartfelt conversation with her at the end where he tells her everything he wishes he could say to his dear departed mother. It also has a shitty landlord getting her comeuppance, so it's based. As I said, these leaps are just fine. They do have added gravitas and drama, as did even the opening leaps of the series. There hasn't been a truly bad leap yet, and there are some vile ones I can think of in the history of the old show which I will likely never watch again. The new Quantum Leap is hitting a good baseline of quality, but is that enough? Is it better to be baseline consistent, or fluctuate wildly between crap and peak television drama? It's really more of a rhetorical question, but let's focus on some peak episodes of the show for me. Let's talk about some of the highest highs that new Quantum Leap will ever reach.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

A Quantum Microcosm, Shared In The Entanglement Of Synchronicity (New Quantum Leap Season 1) [Part 2]

So let's talk about narrative structure and Quantum Leap. In the old show, things were much more focused on Sam's solo perspective as the leaper. We were thrust into the worlds and the leaps from his eyes, feeling his confusion, only knowing as much as he knows because again yadda yadda Swiss cheese. You can count on one hand the amount of glimpses we get into the present day of classic Quantum Leap, and I'm not counting the waiting room focus that Season 5 liked to do. Point is, the foremost concern of the original series is the leap. We are back in the past, something bad is about to happen, let's watch Scott Bakula make things right for 45 minutes. It's a lovely little formula for early 90's television. Would it have worked unaltered for the 2020s? I've no idea, but the folks behind New Quantum Leap did not try. They instead used the evolutions in narrative storytelling over the 30 years since this show went off the air to... well, evolve the show.

Monday 8 July 2024

A Quantum Microcosm, Shared In The Entanglement Of Synchronicity (New Quantum Leap Season 1) [Part 1]

Somehow, in some way, there's a certain connecting tissue between me, the summer season, and this show. Two summers ago I famously went on a great big rant about how all the tentpole franchises I love had let me down by going up their own asses, and ended by flinging myself into the world of Quantum Leap. Since then, at least one of those ships (the blue box one) appears to have righted itself, mostly. Quantum Leap, as I chronicled two years ago, became a love for me. It was rough around the edges and had its missteps, but I never felt truly betrayed by it. I loved it and what it stood for, but there was always something looming overhead as I got into it. Even back then, as I first became acquainted with Dr. Sam Beckett, the Quantum Leap revival was waiting in the wings. I was somewhere in the weeds of Dr. Beckett's final season of adventures when the new show dropped at long last, and so I had the unique experience of jumping right into the new from freshly finishing the old.

Sunday 30 June 2024

Frezno's Comics Challenge: The Straight Story Six Part 1 (Kamen Rider)

Wait, what are we doing back here after only two days? What's with that title? What's going on here? This is the first strike back against the gauntlet thrown down to me by one Sean Dillon. It is the beginning of the culmination of a long-running inside joke between us in which they claim that David Lynch's The Straight Story is the best Star Trek movie ever made, and refuse to elaborate further. Unless, that is, I can successfully analyze and critique six comics in addition to the regular comics challenge I've been doing for half the year now. I am down for it. When these words are complete, I'll be a sixth of the way in getting to the explanation at long last. Bring it on, let's go.

The Hyrule fantasy.
I want to start this one with a personal anecdote, far back in the past. The summer of 2001. I discovered a lot of things over that summer, like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Final Fantasy VI, or seeing Final Fantasy The Spirits Within in a cinema (and LIKING IT, but such a hot take is a story for another time). Another memory I have is of going to a used book store in Gander, Newfoundland called The Book Worm and purchasing something which spoke to my interests. It was an old issue of Nintendo Power, specifically #32 which featured Super Castlevania IV on the cover. I enjoyed the tips and tricks as a teenage ROM fiend, but I am relaying this story because of something else which was in this issue: the first installments of two comic series which would run through 1992 in the pages of the magazine. There was one based on Super Mario World which was quite comedic and fun, but what stood out to me was the second comic which was an adaptation of The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. I haven't read the book in many years, but parts of its art still stick with me. The way the wizard Aghanim, clad in green in the games, is cloaked in crimson reds for the comic. Or the beauty and grace of this particular styled Princess Zelda. I didn't know it at the time, but the craftsman behind this comic was Shotaro Ishinomori, an absolute legend of manga. That was my first run-in with his style, and here I am two decades later analyzing it again.

Friday 28 June 2024

Frezno's Comics Challenge: June 2024 (Are You Listening?)

(TW: sexual assault)

For this entry of the Comics Challenge, which I welcome you back to once again, I want to start off with Sean's question to me regarding the book: What is your favorite memory of a car trip? Being honest, I don't know if I really have one, but that doesn't mean I can't answer the question in my own way. I don't recall the specifics of any one particular car trip, but I do remember the way that I feel upon encountering certain vistas. The endless wilderness of Central Newfoundland is well-worn ground for me, with its own landmarks and familiar spots that are as ingrained in my memory as a natural clock. I could talk about the odd feeling I get whenever I pass from Central into Eastern Newfoundland, a crossing of a spiritual border into a country not my own. I could speak of the mighty Burin Peninsula, craggy mosslands and massive seaside cliffs and the cozy comforts of my home away from home. Alongside all of that is a concept I dubbed the lonely highway, of driving late at night or early in the morning with nothing but the open road ahead and whatever music or podcast I've brought with me. Resonant music, interesting podcasts, voices from the machine which speak to me and only me thanks to the magic of my headphones. My constant companion on the rural highways of this half of my wind-swept frigid rock.

Saturday 22 June 2024

New Doctor Who Season 1 First Impressions: Episode 8 (Empire Of Death)

Death, but not for you, gunslinger.
 I find myself in an interesting position for this. Not just in the sense of getting catharsis for temporal grace, or having the mysterious mysteries be answered (some of them anyway), but in my literal position. I'm on vacation right now, in an upstairs bedroom that's not my own, banging this fucker out on a laptop. It's quite a new sensation for me, but there's a fun sense of mirroring to it: I was here, 7 months ago, for The Star Beast. I was here for the beginning, and I am here for the end. A bit like 2011's Doctor Who being bookended by trips I took when the premiere and finale aired. It's 22 degrees Celsius out, I just had a spicy chicken sandwich, so let's talk about the end of all things in Empire Of Death.