Thursday, December 28, 2017

Holiday Specials

Season's Greetings to everyone out there in blogland!

It's just me, your ol' pal Adam, here to wish you all a very Happy New Year, a Merry Christmas, and/or a Happy Holiday of your choice. You know me, I like them all.

December has been interesting so far.

I've run some really good Star Trek games, played at lot of Supers games, didn't get to see my new girlfriend nearly enough (she's out of town visiting family), and, well, got inspired and incensed in equal measure by various films, and television features. 

For now, let's focus on the positives...
By the way, SPOILER ALERT - SPOILERS Everywhere! - SPOILERS Up the Wazoo!


I am not, generally speaking, a fantasy fan. At the same time, I do love folklore as I've mentioned before, and can appreciate even traditional fantasy if done very well. Similarly, although am I not a crime drama fan per se, growing up the son of a cop, and the grandson of a movie buff, the genre does hold my interest on occasion. Bright, the Netflix original film staring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, and Lucy Fry, was therefore quite a surprise, as I really enjoyed it.

Bright does an excellent job of world building a 'plausible' (perhaps workable is more accurate), alternate, modern day filled with elves, orcs, and magic wands while at the same time never overtly doing so. That is to say, it doesn't lay out how this world got this way, who are the big players are, or how things work on any in depth level. Instead, it does something I have been advocating for years in other genre features from television to movies to RPGs; Bright assumes its own world makes sense, and figures you will too. 

The result is a lack of wasted time, unnecessary exposition, uninteresting characters, and eye-rolling padding that the film doesn't need. It's awesome, and refreshing. 

Effects are good, very good in fact, and largely downplayed, which I also enjoyed. As the years go on, I am less and less impressed by Fantasy projects with vulgar magic. If you shoot bolts of arcane energy out of your hands, you better be a superhero. It's cool when Doctor Strange does it, but for everyone else it's pretty tacky. The look of it here, while occasionally flashy, definitely worked and was shown as rare and special. I liked that.

Overall, this is a very cool film, and a great setting for a game. It's very 'Shadownrun Now' if you catch my drift. While not my cup of tea (I'm a coffee drinker you see), I'd be down for playing it a few times if someone else was running. 

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Season 2

I must confess that I liked the original Dirk Gently novels by Douglas Adams, but didn't love them. That's difficult to admit, considering how much I adore The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and what a huge influence it is on my own works. 

In some ways, many actually, the recent BBC series created by Max Landis, and starring Samuel Barnett, Elijah Wood, Hannah Marks, Jade Eshete, and many more very talented people, is quite different from its literary origins. Those differences help, at least for me, as I found both Season One and Two brilliant! The blend of quirky characters, off beat stories, and the more than slightly surreal nature of the program really won me over.

While I enjoyed Season One more than Two, the second season was still wonderful, and it had a lot of great new characters, and interesting twists. 

I was very sad to learn that the BBC has decided not to renew the show for a third season. Aside from not getting more of a product that I enjoyed, the second season began to delve into a much richer, and deeper meta-plot that I can't believe they would just leave hanging there. Perhaps Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu will pick it up.

Time will tell. 

Is it gameable? Well, I'm not sure. Technically I think nearly everything is gameable to some degree, and I am pretty sure I could make a Dirk Gently-like RPG campaign work. The real question is would I be able to find people into it? Maybe...


Unlike the other two entries on this post, Happy! - a Dark Comedy/Crime Drama airing on the Syfy channel (No really! The Syfy Channel!), and based on the Grant Morrison, Darrick Robertson comic book series - is still going on. It hasn't ended yet, with Episode 4 having aired on December 27th, 2017. What does this mean? Well, only that I can't tell you my thoughts on the series as a whole, only on what I've seen so far.

I like it. A lot! I am once again surprised by my own opinions, as this sort of story is not to my usual taste. It succeeds in part because of the excellent performances by Christopher Meloni as lead character Nick Sax, and Patton Oswald as Happy!, the imaginary friend of a young girl who has been kidnapped, and seeks out ex-detective turned hitman Sax to find her. 

The other ingredient that makes this particular concoction hit the spot is the rather out there premise, and the creepy/clever way it is used in the narrative. Trust me, I do notice a theme going here. Both Happy! and Dirk Gently, appeal to my love of the largely untapped idea of a black humor Twilight Zone situation, and as such they are definitely inspiring ideas on how to incorporate that feel into my upcoming campaigns.

Which are? You'll have to wait, and see. That's a discussion for a future post.

There is a lot of other material I could discuss here, since as I noted I've watched a lot of stuff this holiday season. For instance, I can not recommend Guillermo del Toro's, 'The Shape of Water' enough. I really enjoyed that as well. It was a modernization of two older films in a way I both didn't expect, and always wanted to see. 

I feel like I'm forgetting something. Was there another big movie that came out? Recently I want to say. What was the last movie I saw? The Last J...

To Be Continued

Barking Alien

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