A Tale of Three ‘Shada’s (Doctor Who – “Shada” review)

A Tale of Three ShadasShada. The long lost adventure from famed sci-fi writer Douglas Adams. Over the years since its aborted filming, the adventure has undergone no less than three separate adaptations. The question is: which Shada is the ultimate Shada? With the release of another version of the story, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure that out, so let’s break it down in a Tale of Three ‘Shada’s. Originally written by famed author – and one-time Doctor Who script editor – Douglas Adams, Shada follows the Doctor and Romana, his Time Lady companion, as they investigate a mysterious summons from an old friend of the Doctor, Cambridge Professor Chronotis, and work to thwart the plans of the evil Skagra – a man seeking the Professor, and a book he possesses, for his own evil ends. Their adventure will take them from 1970s Earth to a mysterious Time Lord prison planet that nobody can remember: Shada. Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada. For this review, we’re gonna be looking at three particular adaptations of Shada: the 2003 BBC-i/Big Finish Productions webcast/audio adaptation, the 2012 novelization (by Gareth Roberts), and the 2017 BBC animated reconstruction.  (more…)

“Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery” is a Game Full of Potential that Misses the Mark (Beta-Review)

Screenshot_20180123-181634Portkey Games and Warner Bros. recently released an early access/beta version of the upcoming mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Set in the decade before Harry Potter attended Hogwarts, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery allows players to create their own characters and experience life as a student at Hogwarts while living their own adventure – featuring a new story set in the universe of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – and encountering familiar characters along the way, such as Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and more. The game is the mobile game equivalent of a touch-and-click adventure where players tap various items on the screen to advance the story forward while collecting experience and other materials all under the confines of an energy meter system.


SCRIPT REVIEW: Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” is a Truly Remarkable Play with a Script That’s Bogged Down With Too Many Stage Directions

As part of my Directing class in school, I’ve had to some plays in preparation for the scene work that’s to come later in the semester. One of those plays was Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. Nominated for four Tony Awards – including Best New Play, A Raisin in the Sun details the lives of the Younger family, an African American family living in Chicago in the 1950s. Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust, and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.  (more…)

An In-Depth Behind the Scenes Look at a “Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” (“The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times” REVIEW)

81wgzinxhzlEveryone loves a good making-of documentary in the bonus features of the DVD of a film. Well, this book is the next best thing. Written by Gina McIntyre, The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times details the making of director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, The Shape of Water. From the Publisher: From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes The Shape of Water—an other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War-era United States circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Doug Jones. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times chronicles the entire filmmaking journey, from development to design to filming. Featuring interviews and commentary from key actors and members of the creative team, the book also showcases the amazing concept art and design work created for the film. For del Toro fans and movie lovers everywhere, it’s the perfect way to explore this exciting new movie from a master filmmaker known for his poignant storytelling and visual grandeur. (more…)

An actor is murdered! Then, nothing much happens as the mystery unravels. (REVIEW: “Act One, Scene One—Murder” by A.H. Richardson)

31368681What happens when you take the central premise of loads of murder mysteries – a group of people who end up locked in a house as they start dying one by one – and replace that group with a group of actors/theatre people? Well, you get Act One, Scene One – Murder, the second novel in A.H. Richardson’s mystery novels starring Sir. Victor Hazlitt and actor Berry Beresford.

(From the Publisher): Talk about drama! To celebrate the opening of his new play, the playwright invites the entire cast to his mysteriously medieval mansion for a gala dinner. As the curtain rises on this festive feast, a scene of chaos occurs when the leading man is murdered. Who could have done it? And why? Old friends — Inspector Stan Burgess, Actor Berry Beresford, and Sir Victor Hazlitt — question an outlandish cast of frightened actors and household staff. The plot thickens with yet another murder occurs, and the intrigue continues until…


History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)

REVIEW: “It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

81qpoictzilA friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and citizens keep disappearing, leaving behind nothing but pits of warm, scorched earth. This is the world of It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel. Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and based on the popular podcast, Welcome to Night ValeIt Devours! is a new page-turning mystery about science, faith, love, and belonging, set in a friendly desert community where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are commonplace parts of everyday life. It explores the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different worldviews as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Mild spoilers may follow…


REVIEW: “Turtles All The Way Down” by John Green

24891b3120dc3336233f1bc146862f45759ab0e8Turtles All The Way Down is definitely a John Green book, with all the pros and cons that statement comes with. That being said, I did like it. Quite a bit. Turtles All The Way Down is the latest novel written by John Green. The novel follows the story of Aza Holmes, a sixteen-year-old girl with a pretty severe anxiety disorder. Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. (Mild spoilers follow) 


REVIEW: “Murder in Little Shendon” by A. H. Richardson

mils-3How does a small English town react after a murder is committed in their midst? A. H. Richardson’s Murder in Little Shendon seeks to explore just that. Being the first book in The Hazlitt/Brandon series of murder-mystery novels, Murder in Little Shendon is a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two.

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community?


The Art of Adaptation – A Thoroughly Modern Essay

We’ve all seen good adaptations of things we love and we’ve all seen bad ones. But what, exactly, makes an adaptation good? For the past… pretty much forever… Hollywood, in particular, has been adapting anything it could get its hands on. From books, to tv, to theatre, to video games, Hollywood loves adaptations. The problem is that the adaptations are often not very good at all. You see this with books, like Eragon and the Percy Jackson series and TV shows like Dark Shadows and Video Games like Assassin’s Creed and musicals like RENT and even anime like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell.

The question becomes, why are there so many lousy adaptations? Especially when most of them are based on properties that are really well made in their original mediums? Where is the disconnect?

Contrary to popular belief, there really is an art to adaptation. There are four key things that a good adaptation must adhere to. Respect for the source material and characters, not being a slave to the source material, knowing what to change and what to keep, and telling a story in the most cohesive and interesting way that utilizes the best of what the specific medium has to offer.

Bad adaptations, usually get at least one of those key things wrong, if not more than one of them. So, let’s explore them more in depth and see if we can’t figure out how to go about making a good adaptation.  (more…)