March 21, 2009

The Last Battlestar

The greatest high-wire act on television came back to Earth last night—in more ways than one. It’s not entirely fair to say Battlestar Galactica’s legacy will be determined by “Daybreak”, the series finale, but the last episode is the capstone on the series, and it will be remembered as either expanding the show’s breathtaking streak of brilliance, or revealing, at last, that the show’s creators are in fact…human (more…)

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August 9, 2008

Beijing Olympic Debut: Stunning, Terrifying

Could any other city in the world have staged an Olympics opening ceremony to match the scale and spectacle of Beijing’s debut Friday? I doubt it. My jaw kept dropping as I watched what will surely be remembered as one of the most awe-inspiring opening ceremonies in Olympics history (more…)

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July 19, 2008

The Wall-e Review

Pixar's Wall-e

I envy those who went to see Wall-e without knowing anything in advance about the film.

By now, word has spread about Disney/Pixar’s new animated picture.

You’ve probably heard at least one critic claim the film is brilliant.

You’re probably heard at least one so-called “Conservative” voice claim the film represents the worst of Liberal eco-brainwashing attempts, with special bonus condemnation for targeting children (more on this to come).

I will tell you, in my humble opinion, that “Wall-e” is a masterpiece. And if I could recommend one thing more than any other, it would be that you stop reading now, don’t read anything else about the film, and go see it. Then come back, and we’ll try to talk about all the ways in which this remarkable movie surprised us (more…)

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March 31, 2008

‘Battlestar’ Returns

‘Battlestar’ Returns

It’s no secret I’m crazy for SciFi’s Battlestar Galactica series. Battlestar is easily the best show currently on television, and I’d be hard pressed to name anything from the past that even remotely compares. Way back in the day, when ABC first released the original Battlestar in 1978, the show was widely derided as an impoverished Stars Wars copy. There was perhaps an element of truth to that assertion (more…)

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July 23, 2007

Man vs. Wild on Discovery

This summer, I’ve been watching “Man Vs. Wild” on Discovery. The show’s premise is simple: drop host Bear Grylls in the middle of nowhere with only a knife, canteen, and flint, and see if he can make it out alive. Over the show’s first two seasons, Bear has found himself stranded on a tropical island, lost in the Amazon rain forest, and wandering the glaciers of northern Iceland.

As a viewer, it’s enjoyable enough simply to visit these (and many more) challenging environments—but what makes the show positively irresistible is the unique combination of Bear’s personality, resourcefulness, and determination, plus his insistence on absolute authenticity.

On the first show I saw, Bear demonstrated how to survive falling through ice into water in the wild. Equipped with little more than a jacket and a base layer, he jumped onto thin ice and broke through into icy water. He did this on day two, when he was already hungry and tired, with several more days and nights of hard travel ahead to get back to civilization.

Needless to say, Bear regularly places himself in situations where the average fit adult would simply perish. Watching how he gets himself out is often surprising and always entertaining. We quickly learn that survival is a technique: from simple tips like following rivers downstream to find civilization, to more advanced strategies like trapping animals for food and building shelter and fire from scratch.

Backcountry travelers will find “Man Vs. Wild” a relentlessly informative source of information on what to do when things go wrong in the wild. If you haven’t been watching, check it out. New episodes of Man Vs. Wild air Friday nights on Discovery Channel.

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