Winter 2023 TV Update

STAR TREK PICARD S3: I had high expectations for this final season, and halfway through they have actually managed to exceed them.  I was already excited about finally getting the entire crew back together.  What I never could have predicted, and what truly excites me, is using the Founders from DS9 as the villains.  Never in a million years did I think Picard S3 would be a stealth sequel to DS9, my favorite Trek series.  Wow!  Everything about this season has been stellar so far.  The main story is a great mystery, the action is great, the returning characters are great, and there’s a ton of truly mind-blowing Easter eggs.  This is the pinnacle of NuTrek.

STAR WARS THE MANDALORIAN S3: Very happy with this season thus far.  The first four episodes were all winners.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how swiftly the plot is moving forward instead of drawing things out with interrupting side quests until the season finale.  The show just keeps looking better and I love having Bo Katan in every episode. 

STAR WARS BAD BATCH S2:  This show is fine but it just doesn’t feel vital to me at all.  I love the Prequel Era and the Clone Wars but I just fundamentally do not care about the Clones so having an entire series starring them always felt like a massive missed opportunity to me. 

THE FLASH S9:  The show has been incredibly uneven since Crisis on Infinite Earths in 2019 and the pandemic limitations thereafter.  I still don’t think it ever truly returned to greatness but this opening arc with the Red Death was very enjoyable.  I was very glad to see them finally using the Rogues again s they are the primary villains in the comic book yet have been essentially absent since Season 1.  I’m hopeful the series will have a strong final season to leave a good memory for this truly exceptional Arrowverse shared universe.  In its heyday this was the television equivalent of the MCU.

THE LAST OF US:  I haven’t played the game.  It was a very well done post-apocalyptic drama that really made me care about the characters more so than other shows like Walking Dead.  My number one complaint?  Not enough cordy-zombies!  They’re barely in the series!  But I have read the show was meticulously faithful to the game and I really appreciate that.

VOX MACHINA S2: I haven’t finished the season yet but this is a really cute show.  It’s legitimately funny and I’m finding the storyline of this season much more interesting than the first one.  I really love these characters and their interactions.



When I was a kid Michael Crichton novels were what first got me to love reading.  It all started with Jurassic Park, of course (spoiler alert for my number one pick!).  I’ve been re-reading several of his books over the past few weeks so here’s a ranking:

8. EATERS OF THE DEAD (a.k.a. THE 13TH WARRIOR).  A highly entertaining ‘real world’ remake of the Beowulf story re-imagining Grendel as a surviving pocket of Neanderthals.  In addition to this it’s also interesting for showing a Muslim character visiting Norse society (which is actually a true story!).

7. THE LOST WORLD.  I don’t remember the details very well but it does tell a drastically different story from the movie while starting with the same premise.  There wasn’t anything terribly new to say but I do recall some thrilling dinosaur sequences.  I’m pretty sure Crichton did invent the iconic ‘two T-Rexes pushing the RV over the cliff’ sequence.

6. MICRO (finished by Richard Preston).  It’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids if it was R rated and scientifically accurate.  This is a classic Crichton adventure with iconic action scenes and fascinating science.  They need to make this into a movie!

5. TIMELINE.  After Jurassic Park (the novel) there were a lot of Crichton books I didn’t love.  This was by far the best one.  It’s a combination of two classic Crichton styles; the painfully research accurate historical adventure, and the plausible science fiction technology run amok story.  The modern day characters experiencing what Medieval European life was truly like and how different it was from today was a fascinating premise and I recall it had some thrilling adventure as well.

4. THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION (by Daniel Wilson).  Alright this is a cheat because it was written by someone else well after his death, but it’s a direct sequel to the Andromeda Strain and I absolutely love this book.  It’s one of the few modern books I have re-read multiple times.  It’s an incredible page turner with an irresistible story.

3. CONGO.  And now we enter my holy trinity.  I re-read these three books endlessly as a teenager.  They are the ultimate Crichton stories.  Incredible page turners full of mystery, horror, well researched science fiction concepts, and truly iconic action sequences.  Congo was made into a very disappointing movie, but the book is incredible.  Amy the talking gorilla is a fun and fascinating character.  The dangers of the Congo rain forest make for so many incredible sequences and the gorilla attacks at night are truly terrifying.  They need to make this into a better movie!

2. SPHERE.  Another disappointing movie but an incredible book.  Discovering a derelict alien spaceship deep beneath the ocean is an incredible mystery.  But it gets even weirder and better from there.  The mysterious attacks are iconic action sequences and the slowly unraveling answers about the nature of the alien ship make for a true page turner.

1. JURASSIC PARK.  This was the book that turned me into a reader as a child.  The notion of dinosaurs being recreated in modern day, in a theme park, and running amok was an irresistible premise for a ten year old boy.  I read this book over and over years before the movie ever came out.  Either this or Lord of the Rings is the book I’ve re-read the most times in my life.  The movie is one of the greatest classics of all time but the novel is even better.  There are so many incredible dinosaur sequences in this book that it took three different movies to even begin to adapt them all onto film.


When I was a kid Michael Crichton novels were what first got me to love reading.  It all started with Jurassic Park, of course (spoiler alert for my number one pick!).  The notion of dinosaurs being recreated in modern day, in a theme park, and running amok was an irresistible premise for a ten year old boy.  I went onto to find his other books and I was off to races.  I’ve been re-reading several of his books over the past few weeks so here’s a ranking:

16. THE TERMINAL MAN.  I just read this for the first time and it was definitely subpar.  Now obviously it was written in the early 1970s but even so one of the book’s assertions is that epileptics are predisposed to violence.  But beyond that it just wasn’t interesting or big story.  It was just about one man getting a computer in his brain and going nuts.  And his plot is very small and uninteresting.

15. THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN.  Considered to be a classic, but not terribly interesting for me.  It’s an interesting premise but the actual story is not very thrilling.  It’s basically scientists in a lab.

14. NEXT.  Just re-read this one.  Sad this was final living work.  It’s not a bad book but there’s nothing particular notable about it either.  It’s a large number of barely connected stories that mostly have nothing to do with each other and only a few of which are actually interesting.  There aren’t any particularly memorable sequences.  The most entertaining part are the talking parrot and chimp, but even that is a rehash of Congo.

13. DRAGON TEETH.  Only read this one but remember it being a fun historical adventure without anything special to recommend.

12. THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY.  Another historical adventure but more interesting because it was true and gives a fascinating look at what life (and crime) was really like in Victorian England.

11. STATE OF FEAR.  I recall there being some good action sequences in this book, but of course this is an inherently flawed story since his scientific opinion is that global warming is a hoax.  A story about left wing terrorists committing terrorist events just to fake global warming is ridiculous and insulting, but if you can merely look at the surface action, I recall it being fun.

10. PREY.  Just re-read this.  It’s mostly a small and self contained story that does not read as cinematic at all, but there are glimmers of fun to be had with the premise and some interesting science to be had.

9. PIRATE LATITUDES.  This was a very entertaining historical adventure that gave a fascinating look at what pirate life was truly like in addition to telling a great thrilling story.

…To Be Continued!

Daniel Suarez and Critical Mass

I just finished the latest Daniel Suarez novel, CRITICAL MASS, which is a sequel to DELTA V. The two books are a fascinating look at the near future of humanity with extensive research and plausibility. While I thought Delta V was a little too procedural/technical, it was still a great look at the next step of space exploration. The sequel takes this concept even further in a spectacular way. It becomes more about the future of the planet Earth and humanity itself. The coming decades of global warming, mass climate change disasters, economic collapse, and the desperate need for space technology to save the planet.

Neither of the books are action packed thrillers but they’re not meant to be. The sequel in particular was an incredible page turner, not only for the progression of the story, but for what I would learn next about the future of humanity. The most interesting aspect is how asteroid and moon mining could provide the planet Earth with endless free energy which in turn can scrub our atmosphere of CO2 to save us from climate change disaster.

I’m a big fan of all of Daniel Suarez’s books, but it’s been a few years so I don’t remember the details anymore. DAEMON and FREEDOM TM were another two parter about the emergence of a sentient artificial intelligence that goes on to take over the world. I remember that also being a mind-blowing look at the future of technology.

KILL DECISION was actually the first book of his that I read. As I recall this is most mundane and traditional thriller, with a minimum of future tech theorizing, but it was nonetheless a really fun page turner.

I barely remember INFLUX but it was another great thriller portraying a new kind of future technology. I definitely need to read this one again.

CHANGE AGENT was about genetic editing and the danger of identity and impersonation. I recall it being another great thriller.

Daniel Suarez is on a short list of current authors I love and I’m always excited when a new book of his comes out.

The Cabinet of Dr Leng by Preston/Child

It’s a special time of the year! A new novel in one of my all time favorite series, the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child! I’ve been reading this since it started in the late 90s and it’s something I often turn back to for a comfy re-read. I’ve been a little underwhelmed by the last several books in this series, but the previous installment BLOODLESS was a delightful return to form.

My favorite aspect of these authors’ works is when they allow things to get weird and take a scientifically plausible paranormal twist a la the X-Files. Many of the recent Pendergast books have been sadly ‘real world’ about yet another mysterious serial killer, but Bloodless was about as out there as they’ve ever gotten, and it ended on a whopper of a cliffhanger I was dying to see resolved.

DR LENG was a real page turner. I was on the edge of my seat all the way through to see what happened next. I hesitate to spoil anything which makes it difficult to talk about it in any level of detail, but this book is a fascinating sequel to CABINET OF CURIOSITIES which might be my all time favorite Preston/Child novel. That book was about a serial killer from the 1800s allegedly achieving immortality by taking the spinal cords of his victims resurfacing in modern day NYC. And let’s just say this newest book gives us a look at Doctor Leng back in the 1800s in a really exciting way.

New Year’s Resolutions!

In a few weeks I’ll have finished my thirteenth novel. This is book 7 of 14 in my science fiction series. The official halfway point! Put into TV terms, that is 77 episodes of the series I’ve been working on my entire life. That’s great and all except for the fact that nobody’s read/seen it! Out of those thirteen finished books, only one was ever published, and that was in someone else’s franchise and not my own. My own original work remains unseen.

So, New Year’s Resolutions. I did my research and I’m sending out queries for agents. If I don’t land one… in six months time… I’m gonna self-publish. Not gettin’ any younger over here! This has always been my purpose, and it’s time to realize it, anyway I can. We’ll see how it goes!

Also, hopefully I’ll win that billion dollar Mega Millions tonight. That’ll make the self-publishing MUCH easier!

I used plural resolutions, didn’t I? I got number two settled. I bought two toilets and I’m getting someone in to install them on Monday! Fancy livin’ over here!

2023 Upcoming Movies

After a relatively quiet year for movies in 2022, 2023 is clearly going to be a return to form with a ton of major titles come out.

10. Meg 2.  The first movie is a classically ridiculous so bad it’s good fun time and I cannot wait for an even more ridiculous sequel.

9. Transformers 6.  I enjoy these movies more than most and I’m looking forward to seeing a proper sequel again even if I know nothing about the animal Autobots and think it’s a little silly.

8. Spider-Verse 2.  First one is a stone cold classic and this is gonna be even bigger.

7. Fast X.  I unironically enjoy the hell out of the movies and while 9 was definitely a big disappointment I am really looking forward how they bring this franchise to a conclusion.  Plus, Jason Mamoa and Brie Larsen are joining in!

6. The Flash.  Jury’s still out if this movie ever sees the light of day but I’m definitely curious to see it if only for the endless number of guest stars.

5. Aquaman 2.  Love the first one more than I ever expected, it was truly insane, and hopefully this one can match it.

4. Indiana Jones 5.  One of my all time favorite franchises!  I dearly hope this will be a fitting and amazing conclusion despite the loss of Lucas and Speilberg as creators and Ford being very, very old now.

3. Ant-Man 3.  Paul Rudd is a national treasure, the second movie is amazing fun, and this movie is going to be the proper introduction of Kang the Conqueror to the MCU.  This is going to be amazing.

2. The Marvels.  I can’t believe we had to wait five years for a second proper appearance of Captain Marvel when she should be the new leader of the MCU but here we are.  I’d be excited just for that but having a massive team up with Ms Marvel and Photon in a huge outer space adventure is going to be… marvelous.

1. GOTG 3.  Not only is this going to be an amazing  and hilarious MCU sci-fi film, it is also has special import as the conclusion of the GOTG trilogy, the end of the road for a large number of these characters, and James Gunn’s final entry in the MCU before he became the godfather of the DC Movies.

The Best of 2022


This was clearly a year where the pandemic production delays began to catch up with Hollywood.  There weren’t that many top tier movies this year.

10. LIGHTYEAR.  A fun sci-fi adventure.  I’m not a big Toy Story guy but this succeeds on its own merits.

9. CLERKS 3. Kevin Smith’s best film in years, though I was hoping for laughs and fewer tears.

8. BLACK ADAM.  Pretty enjoyable, mostly for the Justice Society.

7. FANTASTIC BEASTS 3.  I enjoy these movies and this was a great in depth look at Dumbledore and Grindlewald during this era.  It even functions as a sufficient ending if we don’t end up getting the big war stories.

6. BULLET TRAIN.  The biggest surprise of the year!  I had zero expectations for this going in and had an amazing time.  Inventive and hilarious with a huge cast of great characters!

5. THOR 4.  There’s a great movie lurking in here but it rushes through too many major storylines too quickly and goes overboard on the comedy in a bad way.  Jane-Thor and Gorr both needed a lot more time to shine.

4. EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE.  Another massive surprise.  This is a spectacular movie that gets truly weird, truly hilarious, and truly moving.  It excels on every level.

3. DR STRANGE 2.  “All At Once” is definitely a better movie, but the MCU will always come out on top for me and this was a hugely entertaining Sam Raimi funfest.  I did not mind Wanda’s heel turn as I thought this was the logical extension of the ending of Wanda/Vision and it’s straight out of the comics.  America Chavez is a great new character.

2. JURASSIC WORLD 3.  Huge nostalgia hit.  Seeing the two different casts team up was pure magic.  We get more dino action than probably any other movie.  I did not mind the locust storyline at all.  It’s the inevitable endgame of the story of genetic tampering and it’s not like they took up a lot of screentime.  The dino chase sequence in Malta is up there with any other sequence in the franchise.

1. AVATAR 2.  James Cameron does it again.  A stunning visual masterpiece (be sure to see it in High Frame Rate!) with better characters, better story, more originality.  It’s definitely longer than it needs to be, but it’s so gorgeous I can’t quite complain.


Honorable mention goes to STAR TREK LOWER DECKS.  It’s not an hour long drama but it just so much fun, so hilarious, and a glowing love letter to Trek.

10. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.  Entertaining but slow.  Needs more action and more dragons.

9. MOON KNIGHT.  It’s not a bad series, but it’s completely disconnection from the MCU just made it a fun curiosity with a distinct lack of Moon Knight actually appearing in his own show.

8. PICARD S2.  Q!  Guinan!  Time travel!  I definitely enjoyed this more than the first season but I did feel the story dragged at times and the ending was a little lackluster.

7. MS MARVEL.  Love the character, did not love the uninteresting villains or the extremely anti-climactic ending.

6. RINGS OF POWER.  As a lifelong massive LOTR nerd, seeing this story and these settings on screen is absolutely magic.  That being said, story took too long to go anywhere, and the characters were not always terrible interesting.  I’m sure S2 will be great though!

5. WILLOW.  It’s very refreshing to get a fantasy series that’s allowed to be fun and have a sense of humor.  I absolutely love the new characters and I’m having a great time.

4. STRANGE NEW WORLDS.  I’m not a huge TOS fan so this was a big pleasant surprise.  The characters and the gorgeous production values really shine and it is a nice change of pace to get standalone adventures these days.

3. SHE HULK.  So much fun!  So funny!  Just sheer joy.  I really wish this had been an old school 22 episode season because I just wanted more.  The fourth wall shattering ending did really rub me the wrong way (what is reality then?!) but I loved everything else.

2. SW ANDOR.  An instant Star Wars masterpiece with excellent writing, performances, and production values.  This looked cinematic in a way that the Volume-made shows don’t quite manage. 

1. SW KENOBI.  But this takes the top spot for me because of the incredible importance to the larger franchise.  The rematch between Obi-Wan and Vader is one of those moments I never thought I would ever see and it was amazing to get it.  Getting Ewan and Hayden back after all these years was incredible.  The series excelled on every level and had other great characters like Reva and Little Leia.

I’d list some BOOKS but I never remember what I’ve read or when it originally came out.  I usually end up getting books years after their release date.  In between new releases I know I read a metric ton of Trek Lit books this year and really enjoyed the vast majority of them.  I did read the continuity ending Coda Trilogy and that was excellent.  I would only rank the Destiny Trilogy by David Mack as being better.

October TV Update

DOCTOR WHO- THE POWER OF THE DOCTOR:  This was a delightful celebration of the classic series with a shocking number of cameos.  This felt as special to me as the 50th Anniversary Special nine years ago and the best thing the show has done since then.  While the plot definitely raced through a lot of concepts at a frantic pace, like the Flux mini-series before it, I thought it was a great story for her to go out on out with another solid Master story.  Getting to see Ace and the Eighth Doctor and Tegan and the Fifth Doctor resolve their story arcs was a particularly magical addition I never expected to see.I’m very sad to see Jodi leave after only 2.5 seasons.  Her first season was not great, but the other seasons had wonderful stories and she was always spectacular.  That being said, I am insanely excited for the return of Russell T Davies as show runner and David Tennant as a fill-in Doctor for three specials.  This is most I’ve been excited about Doctor Who since the 50th Anniversary!STAR WARS ANDOR:  This is an expertly crafted series that is absolutely succeeding at its intention.  Some of the episodes are a little too slow to my liking, but the show looks and feels gritty and real in a way that Star Wars TV has never felt before.  Seeing the birth of the Rebellion and life under the Empire is always a fascinating concept.  The action episodes, when they happen, are thrilling and iconic.  I’m particularly enjoying the character of Luthen and getting a substantial look at Mon Mothma’s life.LORD OF THE RINGS:  I had extremely high expectations for this series.  While the series did not move as swiftly or bombastically as I wanted it to, it was still an excellent look at one of the great untold tales of LOTR.  I wanted something with more action and humor, particularly big movie-style battles since this is the most expensive series ever made, and that didn’t quite happen.  But seeing Numenor and Moria at the height of their power was absolutely magic and the mysteries of Sauron and the Stranger definitely kept me hooked throughout.  This was a lot of set up, but next season should be amazing!HOUSE OF THE DRAGON:  Another series that ran a lot slower than I had hoped and felt like mostly setup for a more interesting story to happen in the next year.  I was frustrated by the lack of action and plot development; hell, even by the end of the season, the actual fighting hadn’t even started yet!  But it was an interesting cast of characters, even if I could not tell any of the children apart for the life of me.  The constant time jumps were also disorienting.SHE-HULK:  This was just pure joy.  I loved the hell out of this show.  So funny!  So fun!  I don’t think there was a single stinker in the bunch.  My number one complaint; this should have been a 22 episode season and not just 9.  I do think the final episode made a fatal flaw of overdoing the fourth wall breaking to the point of ruining the reality of the series and its position within the MCU, but oh well.  I cannot wait for more Shulkie!WEREWOLF BY NIGHT:  Another incredibly fun MCU entry that leaves me wanting more.  I loved the retro black and white horror vibe.  Jack and Elsa and Man-Thing were just instantly great characters I can’t wait to see again.  I hope Marvel makes specials like these all the time.I still need to get Paramount to dive into LOWER DECKS S3 which I am sure to adore.   I’m also very excited for the return of THE DRAGON PRINCE today.

September TV Update

I’m about to leave on a vacation to Universal Studios Florida!  First visit in four years!

LORD OF THE RINGS:  this was my most anticipated show of the year because I am a huge LOTR nerd.  I read those books over and over as a kid.  While the characters leave a little to be desired, we’re three episodes in and the show is displaying a lot of promise.  It was magical to see Numenor and Moria in their glory days and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.  The mystery of the Stranger is very intriguing though I do hope they don’t drag that out too long.  The show looks amazing of course, as it should given its astronomical budget.  It’s very exciting to see these events I’ve read about indirectly portrayed on screen!

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON: It’s interesting so far.  I knew going in there wouldn’t be a lot of action, though I am surprised how little we ever see of the dragons.  It’s moving slowly but I am definitely interested to see how things turn out.

SHE HULK: Loving the show so far!  It is joyous and hilarious, and unlike Moon Knight or Ms Marvel, it is firmly entrenched in the MCU.  Jenn is a great character and I love the fourth wall breaking.  I’ll be very sad when this show is over!  The Hulk and Wong guest appearances were delightful.

HARLEY QUINN S3: I didn’t find the Frank is abducted storyline to be a very interesting through-line, so this is definitely a weaker season, but it’s still hilarious.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS S4: Another weaker but still hilarious season due to an uninteresting main storyline (the vampire bar).  I also found it very frustrating that Colin spend the entire season as a child with a different personality.  I really missed his energy vampire personality.

LITTLE DEMON is pretty funny so far.  RICK AND MORTY just got back but it’s amazing as always.  ARCHER is back and it’s always amusing.

I need to re-subscribe for STAR TREK LOWER DECKS but it’s a given I will absolutely love it!