Random TV Watching

I’ve been catching up on Tivo the past few nights, killin’ time until Battlestar Galactica (AKA the Best Show on TV) starts back up again in January. For those of you missing out, I’m not talking about the campy 80’s tv series…I’m talking about the new series running on the SciFi Channel here in the States.

Numb3rs — Produced by Scott Free Productions, this show is nominally about math theory being used to solve FBI crimes. My favorite part is when the math guy describes how a particular theory can be used to predict behavior or reveal some hidden pattern behind a case. Like a Fourier analysis being used to discovery frequency patterns in seemingly random crime times, or Flocking behavior used to backtrack to find the central node in a Meth lab distribution network. I’m not quite sure if these are practically applied in real life—this is sort of explained away by the math guy’s prodigy status—but the theory is presented with awesome computer graphics. Not surprising since Scott Free has produced films under the Jerry Bruckheimer banner like Enemy of the State; they’re well known for their shiny FX-laden productions. Scott Free Productions, incidentally, is comprised of Ridley Scott and his brother Tony Scott…you may have heard of Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator from Ridley, and slightly lesser-known films like Top Gun from Tony. So yup…production values are pretty high on the show. The plotting is a little odd…doesn’t really have much snap to it. Some terrible technical dialog…I’m not sure if the math theory is any better, or if the equations they scribble on the blackboards are real.

Prison Break — I was originally fascinated by the premise: some dude is framed for an assassination by scary organization, smart younger brother concocts elaborate scheme to get into same prison and bust him out from the inside. More murder, and violence ensue. It reminds me a bit of Oz, 24, and MacGyver swished together. The last episode I watched may have turned me off for good though…I get easily tired by sudden switches of plot device to draw out the story. I feel like I’m watching an elaborate set of dominoes being knocked down.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — This one is animated, and I’ve talked about it before The Cartoon Network has started showing the second season (called “2nd Gig”), and the animation has improved slightly so we don’t see as many horrifically distorted views of Kusanagi. Unfortunately, her outfits are still really really horrible, to the point that I wonder if it’s part of her character. However, between the first and second seasons, there were are few notable episodes that actually moved me far more than either Prison Break or Numb3rs. And the themes are far more interesting that the two movie versions’ yawn-inducing plotting; Stand Alone Complex is much more like the manga (comic book), and more accessible. The manga, at times, is pretty confusing if you don’t already have an interest in politically-motivated military action, robotics, and cognitive science.

If only the voice dubbing had a little more crispness to the delivery. Some of the themes about human-machine interfacing, politics, and artificial intelligence are pretty cool. It’s no Battlestar Galactica

That’s been about it. I’ve seen a couple issues of Monk, which I enjoy for Tony Shaloub’s portrayal of his obsessive compulsive detective. I also accidentally saw some episode of JAG that was remarkably cheesy…for some reason I thought it would be like Law and Order or something more dramatic.

I should just stop watching TV until January. Sigh.