The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David."
From The Blog
April 22, 2015
Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe
Leah Schnelbach
April 22, 2015
The Old Guy Action Comeback: I’m Getting Too Old for This Sh*t
Ryan Britt
April 20, 2015
The Net is the Meat: Bruce Holsinger’s Middle Ages
David Perry
April 17, 2015
Spring 2015 Anime Preview: The Hellish Life of a Pizza Delivery Boy
Kelly Quinn
April 16, 2015
The Disney Read-Watch: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mari Ness
Showing posts by: chris lough click to see chris lough's profile
Dec 25 2014 11:20pm

This is the Story of Your Life. Doctor Who: “Last Christmas”

Doctor Who: Last Christmas

Santa Claus becomes a character of surprising dramatic potential when you place him under the Doctor’s perspective. No longer is he a face beaming ruddily out at you from the insincere aisles of a department store. On Doctor Who he becomes a seat of judgment, qualified to tally the sins of a being that few in the universe could conceptualize, let alone consider objectively. He knows who’s been naughty and nice, so where does the Doctor stand in that estimation? (Which Doctor are we talking about? When?) Beyond the ability to truly put our Time Lord on trial, Santa Claus also represents an equal to the Doctor. Both are creatures of myth who defy the laws of their universe with regularity and as such they are both uniquely able to discuss the burdens of their loftiness with each other.

Doctor Who’s 2014 Christmas episode “Last Christmas” does not grapple with these facets of the Doctor directly. How could it? We are only human, as is Clara, and we can only imagine what it is like to be someone who can shift the very winds of fate itself. We can only create boundary-defying television shows like Doctor Who and depict the Doctor and Santa Claus as we think they would act and the only tool we have to shape this televised reality is our belief. These stories are only as real as we want them to be.

[Read more]

Dec 10 2014 4:00pm

A Bicycle Built For You, But Not You. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “What They Become”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What They Become

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two has been a high-energy experience, progressing from jaw-dropper to jaw-dropper, deepening its characters, and having fun with the complexity that the Marvel Cinematic Universe naturally generates. Where we are by its mid-season finale, “What They Become,” feels far more mature than where we were in the season premiere “Shadows,” and that’s quite a trick to pull off in only ten episodes.

It’s thanks to the consistent quality of these episodes that “What They Become” can be forgiven for being so. very. boring. The mid-season finale certainly had some exciting moments and developments, but they were a puzzling exception to an episode that, despite a lot of fighting and interpersonal drama, came off flat.

[Read more]

Dec 8 2014 11:00am

How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.

how fast Millennium Falcon

So how fast is the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive, anyway?

We know—unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, seriously wizard don’t you read SmugglerFeed?—that this is the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But we also know that a parsec is a measure of distance, and since Han doesn’t specify how long it took the Falcon to make this sub-12 parsec shortcut, we don’t actually get an idea as to how fast the ship can go.

Oh, but she’ll do “.5 past light speed” which...doesn’t tell us much either. Obviously ships in the Star Wars galaxy can go faster than light speed otherwise there’d be no movie, but how fast is .5 on their hyperdrive scales in terms of light years traversed per day?

[Read more]

Dec 3 2014 4:00pm

Feelings and How to Destroy Them. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “...Ye Who Enter Here”

Agents of SHIELD: Ye Who Enter Here

After the high energy conclusion of the previous episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen in “...Ye Who Enter Here.” I mean, I did wait, because Thanksgiving, but that just heightened my anticipation for the events to come.

Which means that I’m expecting great things from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. once more. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” would have been an eye-rollingly appropriate commentary on the quality of this show earlier this year, but not anymore. Now I can’t wait to see how Coulson and his Scrappies affect the Marvel universe. The promise that a Marvel television spin-off starring Phil Coulson once represented has been restored.

[Read more]

Nov 26 2014 11:00am

7 Things I Want to See Happen in Jurassic World

Jurassic World Chris Pratt

I was going to give Jurassic World a pass. I really was. But, you know, it’s one thing to imagine being able to deny the glory of a dinosaur and another to actually watch dinosaurs galloping across fields in that trailer. Suddenly I’m screaming “I want that!” and apologizing to all of my co-workers. (Again.) Dinosaurs are just cool and I can’t explain why and now suddenly here they are again. I want to go to Jurassic World, the park. I want to watch the big snappysaurus eat a shark while I marnch on a $14 raptor-shaped rice krispie treat. (IRONY.) I want to have an apatosaurus look at me dismissively for a moment before going back to slurping in the river. I want to yell “You shouldn’t be!” at a stegosaurus.

I’ll get what I want, probably. Judging from the trailer, Jurassic World the movie looks pretty capable of showing me the small and large wonders of Jurassic World, the park. But here’s what I want to see in Jurassic World, the movie. (Or as we laymen like to call it, Jurassic World: The Park: The Movie.)

[Read more]

Nov 19 2014 4:00pm

We Could Be Happy Underground. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Things We Bury”

Agents of SHIELD The Things We Bury

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really pulled one over on me in this week’s episode “The Things We Bury.” With all the back and forth drama between Coulson’s mental state, Talbot and his haircut, Skye’s SkyeDad, the alien writing, the Divinery Obelisk, Hydra, Fitz’s recovery, Ward vs Ward, Mockingbird and Hance Lunter... I didn’t focus so much on Daniel Whitehall.

It’s not like the show has been hiding how weird Whitehall is, even. He was there in the season’s very first episode, hassling Our Agent Carter and being perpetually ageless, and he’s been masterminding Hydra’s efforts since then. Obviously something is up with him, it’s just that he’s so quiet in comparison to everyone else.

Now,’t you just want him to die?

[Read more]

Nov 12 2014 3:55pm

Cool Train Set. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Writing on the Wall”

Agents of SHIELD: The Writing on the Wall

I feel like we’re becoming better friends every week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I, and I’m going to be sad when Agent Carter steps in and I don’t get to witness the beefy rasslin’ and SkyeShoving that a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promises.

“The Writing on the Wall,” while winning no points on originality of title, wins ALL the points for being a captivating episode of this show that wraps up the ongoing “alien writing” subplot. This season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become unafraid to pull the trigger on the many what-ifs floating around our characters, and it’s made them all the more exciting to watch. What if Simmons gets found out by Hydra? What if Ward escapes? What if Skye meets her SkyeDad? And what if...the alien writing finally drives Coulson crazy?

[Let’s get into it]

Nov 12 2014 11:00am

I Want Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens to Get Rid of the Force

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII has a title—The Force Awakens—now and it feels so weird to be reading about and speculating on a new Star Wars movie. Even as titles and plot details and set pictures leak out, it still doesn’t feel like it’s really happening.

[And until now that has prevented me from daring to speculate on its story]

Nov 10 2014 11:00am

To Explore is to Take Care of Us All: Interstellar


Once Interstellar came to an end and the lot of us walked back out into the light of the world, I wondered: what was the rest of the audience thinking at that moment? My own head was ringing with mono-syllabic exclamations stretching to infinity. I was happy. I was bursting. I was still there in the world of the film.

But I am an easy catch for this film. I adore astronomy and identify heavily with those who seek to bridge the chasm of awareness between the forces of the heavens and our day to day lives. Interstellar is a reinforcement of those desires, a widening of the bridge, but I would argue that I am in the minority in that regard. For most of the audience, Interstellar will be the first inkling they have that understanding space and overcoming the obstacles of travel within it is vital to our well-being here on Earth.

Was this the case? What were they thinking right now?

[Read more]

Nov 9 2014 9:00am

Carl Sagan Lived His Life Believing Science Belonged to All of Us

Carl SaganIt’s difficult to put into words the kind of impact Carl Sagan has had on fans of genre fiction. The combination of his enthusiasm for science education, his patience, and his outreach made him the unique man that we honor today, and if I wrote non-stop for a year I doubt I would be able to find a way to encapsulate that.

Which is when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. At the 2013 New York Comic Con I was lucky enough to get to sit in on the panel for Cosmos and heard Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan and host Neil deGrasse Tyson speak of the man they loved, the man who set the example for what they were trying to accomplish. What they spoke was deeply thoughtful and brazenly passionate, and I’d like to share that with you now.

[“...he believed that science belonged to all of us...”]

Nov 8 2014 11:00pm

In the End, No One Gets What They Want. Doctor Who: “Death in Heaven”

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

Since its rebirth, Doctor Who has made regular use of the bittersweet finale, always mindful to stab you in the front just as its patting you on the back. Huge, as in sizably huge, threats tend to demand great emotional sacrifice in kind. We can’t save the world without losing Rose, the Master, the Ponds, or even a Doctor or two.

The Eleventh Doctor’s reign flipped that formula, reveling in victory, saving everyone with a speech and a smirk, and demonstrating that getting backed into a corner just made the Doctor all that more clever. This was a man who, before he departed, even figured out a way to undo his greatest sacrifice.

With the first season of the Twelfth Doctor now concluded, we can say with certainty that sacrifice is once again a companion on his journey. But there is no joy in “Death in Heaven”s return to the bittersweet. Because there’s nothing sweet for us to take away.

[Read more]

Oct 29 2014 3:00pm

We Have to Save Belgium! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Fractured House”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Fractured House

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is really on a roll this season and “A Fractured House” continues this in fine form, widening the scope of the conflict against Hydra in a way that feels realistic and yet epic. Both organizations take a bold step out of the shadows in this episode, re-entering the world stage and taking their war public. S.H.I.E.L.D. pulls a victory out of this, but it’s not much of one. Hydra has become too effective a villain to be truly defeated.

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Fractured House”]

Oct 29 2014 11:15am

19 Strange Things Hiding in The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice and FireThe World of Ice and Fire history compendium is out this week and true to the nature of the fantasy series that birthed it, it is a massive and massively detailed read. Tie-in books can often be cynical cash-ins: repeating information that is readily available, or asserting non-canonical facts within a shared universe, or charging a ridiculous amount of money for a shoddily written and shoddily illustrated product. But AWOIAF avoids all of these aspects of tie-in books, containing a novel’s worth of material from series author George R. R. Martin, supplemented and fact-checked by heads Elio Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson.

While there is some repetition, most of the material is brand new, offering new details for known peoples and lands and including tons of material about the lands at the edge of the map (and then some).

It’s also a gorgeous piece of work and you can see why the author and publisher needed extra time to work on it. Nearly every page is illustrated, from simple pencil and ink portraits in the margins to enormous painted spreads. There are a variety of styles on display, but they’re all consistently high quality and give you a very real sense of what it was like to inhabit this strange, strange world.

And it is strange. Hiding in this heavy tome are some interesting details about the world and characters of A Song of Ice and Fire, including what may be a look at the future of the series.

[Read more]

Oct 26 2014 1:33pm

The Power of Trees Compels You! Doctor Who: “In the Forest of the Night”

Doctor Who: In The Forest of the Night

Once upon a time there was an episode of Doctor Who written by a prolific and praised author of children’s books. This episode took its title from a famous poem by William Blake and was the Tyger the solar flare and the Lamb the ignorance of humanity in attempting to defoliate the trees? Or was the Tyger the actual tiger we saw briefly? Or perhaps it was Clara’s selfishly exploratory nature and how it decided that children are boring and watching a solar flare from a TARDIS is better (because it is)?

Hush, child, the episode said. You are thinking about this too hard. This is a fairy tale, laid over you as a blanket and woven of the dreams that come to you in between the borders of fantasy and reality. You may idolize this Doctor for attempting the same ferocity of thought as you, but even his immortal hand or eye cannot frame this fearful symmetry.

[Read more]

Oct 22 2014 3:00pm

Who’s Your Daddy? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Hen in the Wolf House”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 5: Hen in the Wolf House

Yeah! Now this is how you do an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Whip those plotlines around like a meth-addled Simon Belmont, tangle them up, introduce a Marvel superhero, and convey the emotional conflict from last week more potently in two brief scenes than you did in the entirety of last week’s ignorable episode. “A Hen in the Wolf House” was a lean, energetic installment that moved a ton of plotlines forward while giving almost everyone a moment to shine. And it didn’t even have to include the vampire cow!

[But obviously I’m glad it did.]

Oct 16 2014 2:19pm

Palpatine’s Newly Revealed First Name is More Appropriate Than You Think

Palpatine first name

Star Wars: Tarkin, the next novel in the news series of canonical Star Wars universe novels coming from Del Rey, has a casual surprise for its readers: the revelation of Emperor Palpatine’s first name.

It’s a reveal that makes you pause for a second. Don’t we already know his first name? Surely that got slipped in somewhere, in a deleted scene or an EU novel or on the back of some toy packaging. Is this really the first we’re hearing of it, more than 30 years after the character showed up?

Apparently so, according to Wookieepedia. Ladies and gentlemen and Jedi and death stick enthusiasts, say hello to Sheev Palpatine. He’ll be oppressing you for the next few decades.

[Read more]

Oct 15 2014 3:05pm

You’re Hitting Yourself. Stop Hitting Yourself! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Face My Enemy”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 4: Face My Enemy

Welcome back to another week of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This particular episode, “Face My Enemy,” was screened at New York Comic Con this past weekend, with a quick walk-on hello from Coulson himself, and the excitement afterwards was ELECTRIFYING! No, wait, the other thing, tepid.

I already thought it was kind of weird that they didn’t screen the forthcoming Mockingbird episode, since that was the most exciting takeaway from their SDCC panel, and after showing us a clunker like “Face My Enemy” I was even more confused. Having Agent May beat up Agent May is a really fun idea (just like it was on Alias), but they kind of forgot to write an episode around it. Why shine a spotlight on that?

[Read more]

Oct 14 2014 12:17pm

Robert Downey, Jr. Reportedly Co-Starring in Captain America 3, Marvel Phase 3 to be “Civil War”?

Robert Downey Jr Captain America 3 Marvel Civil War

Variety has reportedly scooped the plot of Captain America 3 and the blueprint for Marvel’s Phase 3 slate of movies, post-Avengers: Age of Ultron. The outlet reports that Robert Downey, Jr. has been in ongoing negotiations with Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to star as Iron Man in Captain America 3.

No other outlets have yet independently confirmed the news, and Marvel itself has not commented on the rumor. If Variety’s report is true, this could have big ramifications on the future of Marvel movies. Spoilers and speculation ahead, folks.

What is Civil War? How does it play into the current movies and Marvel’s other plans? Let’s break this down into an FAQ.

[Read more]

Oct 13 2014 3:45pm

What Would You Like to Believe About Yourself? Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

How do we talk about this episode, this Downton Abbey mixed with Agathie Christie mixed with steampunk mixed with monster movies that is somehow a quintessential Doctor Who episode, that is so specific to this Doctor and this companion and yet somehow a perfect overall statement on a character and show that spans more than 50 years and certainly more than 50 main characters?

“Mummy on the Orient Express” didn’t have to do to much to be an enjoyable outing in comparison to other Who adventures. (Really, with that title, it just had to be more than a warmed-over “Unicorn and the Wasp.”) It didn’t have to be the emotional, atmospheric, mystery thriller that we got, didn’t have to be an episode where we found ourselves hanging on to every word and every clue. Where by the end we felt as exhausted as Clara does on the beach, thankful for the sun in our face.

[Read more. Spoilers for the episode ahead.]

Oct 10 2014 2:12pm

We Came This Close to a Doctor Who Musical

Arthur Darvill New York Comic Con Doctor Who Musical

If you have an opportunity to stick around for an Arthur Darvill spotlight anywhere, do so. What was billed as a Q&A turned immediately into a one-hour impromptu stand-up session by the ceaselessly funny Darvill, formerly known in my heart as Rory Pond from Doctor Who and now just known as Arthur F’in’ Darvill.

While the audience and I shared this dream of humanity, Darvill let slip that the camaraderie between him, Karen Gillan, and Matt Smith almost resulted in a Doctor Who musical, jokingly but not jokingly titled It’s Bigger On The Inside.

[Then he sang some of it for us.]