Category Archives: television

Star Trek: Discovery Trailer Reaction


So, we have our first trailer for the new Star Trek: Discovery series and I have thoughts!

Since we still know so little about these characters or the setting beyond generalities, it’s hard to get overly excited about footage that leaves so many unanswered questions and seems to be holding so much back. But there are a lot of things in this limited glimpse that make me eager to see more.

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Sherlock: ACD’s “A Study in Scarlet” vs. BBC’s “A Study in Pink”

As a fan of the BBC Sherlock show, I recently decided to read Aruthur Conan Doyle’s original mystery stories.  I’ve never read any of them before except for “The Hounds of Baskerville” in a high school English class.  I’m going to tackle them in chronological order of publication, so I started with A Study in Scarlet.  Having finished this first book I can definitely see a lot of exact parallels between it and the first episode of the modernized BBC show, “A Study in Pink,” but also some obvious omissions or alterations.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson

The first episode starts off very similar to the beginning of the first book; John Watson is a recently returned military doctor, wounded in a war in Afghanistan.  I’m not really familiar with the particular war that would have been going on at the time, but I think it’s too sad (that the region is still/again plagued by military unrest over 100 years later) for it to be cool that this factoid lines up perfectly with modern times.   Anyway, everything about the way Watson and Sherlock meet and become roommates happens pretty much exactly the same way in the book as in the show, and one of the first things Watson learns about his soon-to-be companion comes up in this conversation  between a mutual acquaintance and John Watson, about Sherlock Holmes:

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“Legend of Korra” epsiodes 1-6

The first six episodes of Legend of Korra (LoK), the highly anticipated sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA), have now aired, so we are exactly halfway through the promised 12 episodes for season one.  (New episodes every Saturday morning, 11/10 central on Nickelodeon).  I’m definitely loving it so far.  Since the Avatar is 16 this time instead of 12, there are less of the silly childish elements that ATLA was peppered with.  (For example, there are animal characters, but they don’t feature as heavily as Momo and Appa did.)  The maturity level also reflects what series co-creator Bryan Konietzko was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal article in May, “I’d say the show is more sophisticated than the original series but it has the same balance of tones we’ve always liked with humor, action, drama, scary stuff and romance.”

The bending world has certainly changed in the 70 years since we last saw it imagined on screen, but it’s just as enthralling, exciting, and fun as all the promotional information made it sound.

Earth (Avatar Korra), Fire (Avatar Roku), Air (Avatar Aang), Water (Avatar Korra)

One of the things we see within the first moments of episode 1, “Welcome to Republic City,” is that the esteemed White Lotus society is still intact, (and “master” Katara is now member).  They seem to be tasked with authenticating claim of new Avatar.  In ATLA, I think Aang’s fellow air-bending monks recognized him as the new Avatar without the opinion of an objective party like the Order of the White Lotus.  But, maybe that’s one of the things that changed while Aang was frozen in ice and there was no Avatar for 100 years.

An aged Master Katara, still wearing hair loopies and her inherited necklace

One of the moments that I loved the best in episode 1 was when master air-bender Tenzin’s eldest daughter asked Katara a question that ATLA fans have been dying to know: what ever happened to Ursa, Zuko’s mom?  For years Zuko thought she was dead, but in the final episode he learned she was exiled, and might still be alive.  We didn’t get to hear Katara’s answer, since she was only able to respond to her granddaughter with “Well, Jinora, it’s an incredible tale–” before being interrupted by Jinora’s younger sister, Ikki.  It felt like a wink to the fans of the original series, and I hope it’s an indicator that we might still get to hear the story in an upcoming episode, but I won’t hold my breath.  In the same article mentioned above, co-creater Michael DiMartino teased, “That question will be answered in some way, but not necessarily in the show. That’s all I’ll say.”

Ikki interrupts, to the disappointment of Jinora as well as ATLA fans everywhere.

Of course, there is no shortage of references to the original show that will delight fans like myself without being confusing to newcomers.  Chief Lin Bei Fong, (Toph’s daughter), is a hard-ass police woman with a squadron of metal-benders under her command.  (Toph, season 2 addition to the gAang in ATLA, invented the higher-intensity form of earth-bending known as metal-bending).  We don’t really know much about Toph’s daughter yet, except that she definitely inherited her mother’s brusqueness, and I’m wondering if we are ever going to learn the story behind the parallel scars on her right cheek.  We did learn in this latest episode (“And The Winner Is…”) that she and Tenzin were once an item, and we also saw Chief Bei Fong and Korra start to work together in episode 6, despite getting off on the wrong foot in episode 1.

Chief Bei-Fong and a very teenaged Avatar face-off in “Welcome to Republic City”.

My favorite new LoK twist on the old bending world we know and love from ATLA is the introduction of pro-bending.  It makes sense that such an impressive physical activity would become a sport, and it is a great way to include awesome action sequences without having to put the characters in mortal danger or perpetually on the run from bad guys.  Now that I think about it, bending was a sport in ATLA, because Toph was the earth-bending championship.  But the pro-bending in LoK incorporates three elements–Water, Fire, and Earth.  (There are only a handful of air-benders in the world right now; Tenzin, his children, and Avatar Korra, who hasn’t really mastered the element yet.)  Pro-bending was the biggest surprise to me when I watched the first epsidoes, because in the trailer they only showed the bending arena from a distance, and I thought it was some sort of table.  The color split down the middle did make me think it might be for some sort of match, but I was thinking more like the Fire Nation’s Agni Kai.  So when I realized what it had actually meant, I just couldn’t help but marvel at what a great idea that was, to put a new yet natural twist on the bending world.

The biggest mysteries in the new series so far is, who is Amon, masked leader of the anti-bending Equalist movement?  Does he really have the power to take away bending, and if so, is his ability the same as Avatar Aang’s was?  I don’t know who Amon is, but I do have a theory about who is financially supporting him.

Amon, (image from

We were told by show creators Mike and Bryan, long ago during promotion for Korra before it aired, that the cabbage merchant’s legacy would be “present in some form”.  I initially suspected the poor guy, who was always getting his stuff knocked over by the rambunctious benders in ATLA, might be behind the anti-bending movement in Republic City when it was first announced as part of the show’s synopsis.  Then, in the latest episode, (“And The Winner Is…”), we’re given a clue that my theory may be right.  While Korra and her fellow Fire Ferrets are practicing for their upcoming pro-bending match, the radio in the background squaks, “You’re listening to the music hour, brought to you by Cabbage Corp., Republic City’s trusted name in technology for over fifty years.”   (Watch the clip with the radio blurb I’m talking about here).  That seems to be a pretty obvious clue, to me.  Especially considering that Amon and his Equalists used a taser-like technology to overpower the benders at the pro-bending final match.  My guess is the cabbage merchant started investing in the development of technology that would give non-benders the same advantages as their bending peers, or else take away benders power so that everyone is “equal” and nobody gets their cabbage cart repeatedly overturned by reckless benders, which is pretty much the party line the Equalists have been spouting so far.  I wonder if we will see my theory confirmed, or if this little radio mention is an Easter egg for the fans and the extent of including the cabbage merchant’s “legacy.”

As far as predicting what else we might see in the remaining six episodes, we haven’t really seen much of Korra working on her air-bending, (which is what she is supposed to be doing in Republic City), so maybe she will need to bust out some air-bending at a later, climactic moment.  We haven’t really seen much of Korra developing the spiritual side of bending, either.  In the first episode, “Welcome to Republic City,” one of the White Lotus members overseeing the young avatar’s training admonishes, “Ever since you were a little girl you excelled at the physical side of bending but complete ignored the spiritual side. The Avatar must master both.”  Korra replies, “I haven’t ignored it, it just doesn’t come as easy to me,” but we really haven’t seen her make an effort in the direction at all, apart from participating in meditation sessions with Tenzin and his children.  (And by participate, I mean that she seems to be the only one who can’t sit still.)  She has been seeing what appear to be quick flashes of visions, that I think are memories from Aang, but I’m sure they will be explained later too.  I don’t think we’ve seen the end of romantic interactions between Mako and Korra, even though Mako is currently dating Asami.

We haven’t yet seen many references to Zuko aside from Jinora’s question about his mom and the fact that he and Aang founded Republic City together, which we were told in voice-over during the extended opening sequence of “Welcome to Republic City.”  I’m hoping we hear more about Zuko, and I would also love to learn whatever became of Sokka and Suki.  I had a soft spot for their bravery as non-bending warriors who were always going up against powerful bending enemies like Azula without flinching.

There are some really great fansites out there that were developed for ATLA and are now quickly incorporating LoK resources as well.  The two that I like best are and; they both have hundreds of screenshots for each episode, and has full transcripts for each episode while hosts forums where both bending series are actively discussed, dissected, memed, and adored.  There is also an official LoK tumblr page that releases promotional clips for upcoming episodes, and I think there is an official Facebook page, too.


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Avatar: Legend of Korra Opening!

Thanks to Hypable, I just saw the opening sequence for Avatar: Legend of Korra!  It seems to have been leaked, so who knows how long it will be up, but omg, it looks good and I can’t wait to watch this miniseries sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender whenever they decide to air it.  (Last time I checked there was no set start date April 14 has been announced as the air date for episode one!).

Here’s a transcription of the voice-over, which is being narrated by Tenzin, who is Aang and Katara’s airbender son and who is going to have to teach the new Avatar Korra airbending. (I’m referring to stuff we learned from this year’s Comic-Con).

Earth.  Fire.  Air.  Water.  When I was a boy, my father, Avatar Aang, told me the story of how he and his friends heroically ended the 100-year war.  Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko transformed the Fire Nation Colonies into the United Republic of Nations, a society where benders and non-benders from all over the world could live and thrive together in peace and harmony.  They named the capital of this great land Republic City.  Avatar Aang accomplished many remarkable things in his life, but sadly, his time in this world came to an end, and like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew.

So who are the benders in this intro?  Are they all Avatars? The earthbender is dressed as a Kiyoshi warrior, so it’s possible she’s Avatar Kiyoshi herself.  The Firebender looks like Avatar Roku, although the quality of this video is not great and I can’t be sure whether his topknot is adorned with the Fire Nation jewelry that Sozin gave him.  The airbender could be Aang, and obviously the waterbender is Korra.  (**update** I now have screenshots from the proper, non-leaked opening sequence).

The writing is backwards in these screenshots. I know because I, um, might have painted the symbols from ATLA’s opening on a banner that I have hanging in my kitchen…

At first I thought it sounded like Zuko had pretty much taken over the world with the blessings of Avatar Aang, (I LOVE that they pronounce Aang the way we all love and remember it, and not the odious ‘Ong’ from the live-action disaster of a film, by the way), but after closer inspection it sounds like it’s just the colonies that were united into a new republic, and the pre-existing nations still exist.  Is that accurate?  It still kind of sounds like Zuko taking over the world, though, because all the colonies were outside of Fire Nation territory, i.e. taking over someone else’s territory.  Hmm.

I’m amused by this depiction of Katara from an image of the gAang shown while Tenzin remembers his father telling stories about their exploits:

Is this not a way more sexualized Katara than was ever seen in the original series?  I mean, I guess she practiced in her underthings sometimes.  But here she’s showing a midriff and a thigh-high slit in her dress, which doesn’t resemble any outfits I remember seeing her in.  Everybody else looks just like they did in the original show.  Am I misremembering her?  I suppose it’s possible she’s wearing tights, and now that I am really analyzing this picture it does look like she has long sleeves as well, and now I’m remember she did show some midriff in her Fire Nation disguise for half of season 3.  Well, whatever then, but my initial reaction was to laugh because I thought maybe this sexier Katara version was how Aang described her when he told all these stories about their history.  You know, embellishment.

Also, because I’m a devoted Zutara shipper, I love the placement of the characters in this shot, like Katara is closer to Zuko than Aang.  *sigh* If only.

I am assuming this will not be the exact intro for each episode of Korra, just as the intro for Book One: Chapter 1 of The Last Airbender was different from all the other episodes, but I’m sure the part with the benders will be the same, and I guess Tenzin will probably narrate the other version too.  Maybe it will say something about Avatar Aang being his father, and “now I must teach airbending to the new Avatar” or something? 

Oh, and it looks like the first episode will be titled “Welcome to Republic City,” and this season is being called “Book One: Air”, which will make it a nice companion to Books 1, 2, and 3 from ATLA which were titled Water, Earth, and Fire, but what will Korra’s Book Two be titled, if it gets one?

Anyway, who else is excited for this?!  I know I’m not the only one!


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Avatar: Legend of Korra Comic Con Info

So at comic con this week, they released the first trailer for Avatar:Legend of Korra, the follow-up to Avatar:The Last Airbender (which is an amazing show that you should totally go watch if you haven’t seen it yet!)  I watched the trailer a few times, excitedly, (from my computer at home because I didn’t got to San Diego).  Today I found out some more of the info that was discussed during the Avatar panel.  You can read it for yourself here.

My thoughts:

  • Zuko and Aang founded a city together?  Awesome!  A detail totally ripe for fanfiction.  Not that I’m a huge fan of fan fiction in general.  But I’m glad Zuko and Aang had a productive friendship.  I love Zuko!
  • A polar bear dog animal guide?!  Neat!
  • Anti-benders: we had heard them, this is kind of what I expected it to be.
  • Toph’s legacy–interesting.  Appropriate, I think.  Feels like a natural development.
  • WHAT?!  Aang and Katara only had three kids?!  And only ONE of them is an Airbender?!  Um…I thought it was established cannon that all Airbender chlidren of at least one Airbender parent were also Airbenders.  I will have to look for that source…but I am very confident that is what was previously stated.  So, are they now going to change it and say that is only when both parents are Airbenders, or did Katara have an affair (with ZUKO?! Haha, in my dreams).  Also…if you are the last Airbender, isn’t it your responsibility to repopulate that section of the bending universe as much as you can?  You should probably have more than just the three kids!
  • I had another thought regarding the repopulation of the Airbenders, after the season three finale: if Aang can take someone’s bending away, shouldn’t he be able to give someone bending, too?  he could choose worthy candidates that exemplified the Airbender core values and bequeath it to them on the spot.  That would be a great way to quickly boost the number of Airbenders.  It doesn’t appear they’ve thought of or agree with my awesome idea…
  • “new species” of flying lemurs and bison…this is dumb.  They just want to cling to the familiar imagery of Appa and Momo.  this is a mistake.  it’s forced and illogical.  let them die out, and make us grow attached to new animal characters.  I promise the bending itself is iconic enough.

I’m still left with questions, of course.  Will we see Ursa’s storyline explained?  Will we see more Zuko or a Zuko descendant, pretty please?  Emphasis on the pretty.  Will we see descendants of Sokka and Suki?  I loved them!

I don’t know if this has an airdate yet, so it may be awhile before all is revealed.  Should be worth the wait.  The description of the music alone makes me excited: half traditional, half “What if in the 1920’s, the Chinese invented Jazz?”


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