17 August 2016

Crusade Review: The Rules of the Game & Series Wrap-up

Crusade comes to an end (in its chronological viewing) with the crew arriving at Babylon 5 to negotiate with an alien race for access to their world - of course, things don't go to plan...

The Rules of the Game
Gideon is attempting to gain access to Lorka VII to investigate what happened to the original inhabitants of that planet. Negotiating with Lochley and a Brakiri ambassador at Babylon 5 appears to be a futile attempt - but it does allow the two Earthforce officers to further their relationship.

Meanwhile, Max meets his ex-wife who has run in to a bit of trouble, and with the help of Dr Chambers, Max is able to get her out of the mess.

Just for the familiar setting of the space station this episode just feels right, and while the self righteous Lorkan's are a race we have never seen before, we still get to see Brakiri and Drazi and just feel like we've come back home again.

The relationship between Gideon and Lochley was obviously heading to this point and it would have been interesting to see where it would have gone with a longer series run. It was also good to see more about Max and his past - along with Sarah who can clearly take care of herself just fine.

Rating: 7/10

It's just a shame that this is the last episode for the series and it feels even worse if you read about the potential storylines that would have rounded out the season - let alone some of the story arcs that would have been explored once the show really got going.

Crusade was by no means a bad series - I feel it just didn't have time to fully develop in to what JMS wanted it to be - and there's plenty of literature out there to suggest that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that pretty much sabotaged the show before it was given a chance anyway.

My own ratings average for the series puts Crusade between B5's first and second seasons for overall satisfaction, this with only 13 episodes compared to their 22.

There were some continuity glitches depending on which order you watched the episodes in (unavoidable in the broadcast or the chronological version!) but the quality of the stories definitely wasn't lacking. The cast all worked well together and it would have been good to see their threads develop over time, just like the B5 series did with all of its regulars.

As stated above, the biggest shame is the unrealised potential - all the unanswered questions without a Well of Forever for us to go to for that divine wisdom. I have read that stories would have looked more at the Apocalypse Box, the mysterious ship that destroyed the Cerberus and so on... the Drakh plague would have been cured and made way for something 'more' story wise - in typical JMS fashion no doubt. But we can only imagine now...

With the TV shows out of the way, there's only a few more Babylon related reviews left... and then I can restart the whole series and start again! haha :)

12 August 2016

Crusade Review: Patterns of the Soul & The Well of Forever

The search for a cure to the Drakh plague continues with the Excalibur crew find colonists have transferred it to another planet. Galen also presents the crew with a quest to a mysterious location that could hold all the answers they are looking for...

Patterns of the Soul
Gideon is ordered to head to a planet where a group of humans have landed and it's feared they are carrying the Drakh plague off-world.

What Gideon uncovers is a plot by an Earthforce General to have his dirty work covered up - but there is also a threat to a group of aliens living on the planet - the last remnants of Dureena's people.

There's more of Sarah Chambers' character development in this episode, and that's welcomed. The performances of the enhanced humans could have maybe been improved a bit and the twist for Gideon's solution was an interesting one. While we do get yet another reason to find a cure to the plague, and we see Dr Chambers' earlier developed antigen used in the field, the episode still feels a little slow.

Rating: 6/10.

The Well of Forever
With 'nothing on', Galen suggests the crew go on an adventure to find a mythical place in the depths of hyperspace.

Merging the navigational sensors of his ship with the Excalibur, Galen allows the crew to go on the quest - but it becomes apparent that Galen is up to something when he doesn't relinquish control after Gideon calls for the search to end.

When they do find the Well of Forever, Galen is able to fulfil a promise, and vows never to betray Gideon's trust again.

Meanwhile, Matheson is under scrutiny from 'Mr Jones', a telepath representative that conducts regular checks on other telepaths now that they are integrating with society.

This is an episode I've seen many times but it does have some good moment. Particularly when the crew come across the hyperspace aliens, the 'Fen'. The real shame comes at the end when all records of the location disappear and hardly any of our crew get the answers they may have been looking for - typical JMS writing!

Rating: 6.5/10.

The next review will finish up the series with the final of the 13 episodes that were produced and a summary of the series...

11 June 2016

Crusade Review: Each Night I Dream of Home & The Path of Sorrows

Gideon and crew continue their mission to find a cure to the Drakh plague on Earth, which brings them back home and facing their pasts in these two episodes...

Each Night I Dream of Home
After a secret rendezvous and pickup, the Excalibur returns to Earth on a priority mission.

With a Senator and civilian in tow, Gideon and crew pick up a stranded and damaged Starfury carrying Captain Lochley. The Excalibur then arrives at Earth to pick up a life pod and place the occupant in a quarantined area of Medlab. The pod contains Dr Stephen Franklin, who's there to conduct an experiment on the civilian, David Williams who wishes to be infected with the Drakh plague so he can marry his fiancé on Earth.

Lochley recovers from her injuries aboard the Excalibur while Dr's Chambers and Franklin work with David and analysing the plague as he's infected. A surprise attack by the Drakh turns things dangerous as David's life is put in greater danger when a system malfunctions in Medlab.

With Lochley's help taking command of the Starfury squadrons, Gideon is able to eliminate the Drakh threat. Following which, Lochley is returned to Babylon 5, unaware that Dr Franklin was ever on board.

I always liked this episode, mainly for the opening scene which involved a closer, but extremely brief look at an Earthforce Warlock destroyer. It was also the series finale when watching the series in the broadcast order. It's a good chance to see some crossover between Crusade and the Babylon 5 series with two main characters from B5 appearing here, though never crossing paths due to their circumstances.

It would seem this episode was written and produced with 'Racing the Night' as the intended series pilot as Gideon mentions, following the Drakh battle that Sarah missed out on all the fun in their first firefight with the Drakh - however, we know the Excalibur and crew engaged Drakh ships in 'War Zone', and Sarah was definitely aware of that!

We also find out a bit more about the plague and that it is in fact intelligent in some manner - in that it specifies which organs it attacks, unlike a normal virus. No doubt this would add to the information collected about it as the search for a cure continues.

Rating: 7/10

The Path of Sorrows
At a planet known as a place of healing, the crew discover a giant orb with a mysterious alien inside. Gideon orders it brought aboard for more study.

Gideon comes to see the alien in Medlab and is shown flashbacks from when Matthew served as a Lieutenant on an Earthforce destroyer, the Cerberus. While he is examining damage to the outer hull, the ship powers up to jump in retreat of a strange alien ship attacking it. Gideon can only watch as the Cerberus is destroyed, and he is left helpless floating in space. Just before he runs out of oxygen, Galen and the Technomages pass his position, Galen rescuing him.

The debrief from Earthforce and how Matthew comes in to possession of the Apocalypse Box are also shown, with the alien offering forgiveness.

Matheson also comes to visit the alien and is shown his own flashbacks during the last days of the Psi-Corps. We learn of Matheson's role after he meets with a Resistance leader they have captured, we also see that he has always wanted to be in Earthforce, but regulations don't allow for it. His vision ends when the Resistance make their move on the Psi-Corps facility and it explodes, Matheson and a few other members fleeing in a shuttle.

Galen confronts the alien with contempt, and in his own flashback we see him and his lover, Isabelle just as she passes away. We don't know enough about how or why she dies, only that Galen mentions they were betrayed by other technomages. Following Isabelle's death, Galen found it very hard to let go and to believe in a higher purpose as it would imply that someone decided her death was deserved. The alien suggests that Galen needs to forgive.

This is a great episode purely for all the back story and apparently there was more to be shown but the episode would have run over time. In typical JMS style, there are more questions raised than answered, but we do know why Gideon never leaves anyone behind, we learn of Matheson's past during the Psi-Corps days and just a little bit more about Galen. What was that ship that attacked Gideon's ship 10 years ago? What's an Apocalypse Box (we've already seen Gideon consult it in the chronological episode order) and who betrayed Galen and Isabelle on that planet?

I just wish the series could have gone a little longer to answer or begin answering a few of these.

Rating: 7.5/10.

16 May 2016

Crusade Review: Racing the Night & Visitors from Down the Street

The Excalibur continues its search for a cure to the Drakh plague on Earth, coming across a promising find and some interesting aliens...

Racing the Night
Gideon and crew have come across a planet of interest where the inhabitants have disappeared but the cities remain intact.

After a crew member is killed, Galen uses a probe to locate the source and alarmingly discovers that the inhabitants of the planet have been vivisecting visitors for centuries.

Indeed, this world was hit with a similar plague to the one on Earth and the inhabitants failed to find a cure. Instead deciding to lure and capture alien visitors to their world in the hopes they can help, or have an immunity.

This is a great episode from a visual effects standpoint alone. It was meant to be the original pilot for the series which shows with the action sequences and some of the dialogue used to introduce characters that wouldn't be needed for any other episode. This dialogue, and some of the other scenes conflict with what we were shown in the new pilot, War Zone - how Gideon got the Excalibur, how Max came to be part of the crew are two examples.

I prefer that this episode wasn't the pilot as the crew finding another planet hit by the Drakh plague so soon would seem a little too easy/convenient. 

Seeing the flashback to the Shadows from a thousand years ago was interesting and cool, and Gideon taking action against the aliens shows what kind of person he is - for the moment.

I like this episode, despite the flaws that come up by the existence of War Zone and the reordered episodes. My rating, 7/10.

Visitors from Down the Street
The Excalibur picks up two unknown and frightened aliens who believe that humans have been interfering with their people and their planet for centuries.

This episode has a bit of fun and a definite nod to another popular sci-fi series, 'The X-Files'. There's a role reversal here though with the aliens uncovering a conspiracy on their own world that involves humans and Earth visiting and creating UFO sightings on their world.

Gideon and crew are thrown into this when they pick up the two Mulder and Scully aliens and find out the whole story when Durkani arrives to take them back home. 

We get to see some new ships, aliens and more effects in this video, including a showdown in the 'tube' aboard the Excalibur. We learn a bit about plumbing on starships and once again witness Gideon's unusual approach to things at the end.

A bit of fun for sci-fi buffs. My rating, 6.5/10.

10 May 2016

Crusade Review: The Memory of War & The Needs of Earth

The Excalibur and her crew continue to search for a cure to the Drakh plague back on Earth...

The Memory of War
Gideon and crew are investigating a planet, much against Galen's warnings, whose inhabitants perished due to some sort of plague. However, when crew members begin dying on the planet, something appears to be a miss.

Galen of course is right, and it is discovered that an artificially created virus wiped out the planet's inhabitants. What is unexpected, is what, or who created the virus.

This episode makes good use of special effects for the time. Something Babylon 5 was already well known for, but Dureena's exploration up high in the city, and that bridge she crosses, were certainly impressive (for the time).

We also continue to learn more about our characters; Gideon has a strange, talking box which he listens to - coming to this planet was one of its suggestions. Due to watching these episodes in a different order than broadcast, I'm not sure when the box is formally introduced. It's not exactly a continuity glitch, but the audience will be wondering what exactly is this box he's talking to, why does he have it, how does it know things?

Galen's encounter with the 'rogue' technomage links us back to the main Babylon 5 series of course, but we have to wonder what are those things on Galen's body, and how is his staff so important to him? It's also clearly very powerful.

The main takeaway from this episode is the viral shield that Dr Chambers develops from their stop here.

I thought this episode has a good balance of exploration, suspense and character, my rating is 6.5/10.

The Needs of Earth 
The Excalibur is tasked with retrieving information deemed important from an alien who is willing to sell to the highest bidder.

Gideon and crew head to Praxis 9, outside of Alliance jurisdiction to meet the seller who is wanted by his own people for his actions. What he holds has no medical information of help, but a message of hope and not losing ones own identity - as his people have done.

This episode takes a slight step away from the search for a cure to remind us to remember who we are while all of this doom and gloom unfolds - particularly around Earth. We also get to see some new aliens, new worlds and ships as the Excalibur heads into new parts of the B5 universe. Action and suspense mixed in with humour surrounding Max's viewing habits make this episode enjoyable.

My rating: 7/10.

08 May 2016

BSG Review: The Original Battlestar Galactica

Having finished a recent run through of the original Battlestar Galactica series, I thought it might be a good idea to summarise the journey in the series' first and only season.

The difficulty I face is drawing too many comparisons with its modern day counterpart, the reimagined series that aired in 2004.

Overall, Battlestar Galactica is quite enjoyable as it focusses on the last remnants of a civilisation who are looking for a new home after a terrible attack by the Cylons, a robotic/cybernetic race who want the human race destroyed. The Cylons pursue the fleet through much of the first half of the series. What at least gives us a sense that the characters are travelling is that the Cylon attacks eventually become less frequent, to the point we don't hear from them until the final episode.

Using the effects of the time, the show holds up reasonably well, though the many dogfights and battle sequences do get quite repetitive after a few episodes. The reuse of shots is not limited to the special effects either and budget cuts later in the series mean for less dynamic set design or stories told in less extravagant locations.

Drama, politics, action and disaster all come in to the different stories. While most of it centres on the key characters; Adama, Apollo and Starbuck, there are many others we are introduced to as well - and some we are forced to say goodbye to.

Of the villains, Baltar is there from the beginning and to the end. No doubt he would have continued in some form if the series had gone into another season. Then there were the Cylons and later threats from a mysteriously powerful being known as Count Ibli and the fleet came up against the Eastern Alliance as they approached a new star system.

There were also allies in the ship of lights, another lost Battlestar and some of the people on planets the crew passed.

The series had plenty of stand alone stories which were easy to jump in to, which were interspersed with two-parters for longer adventures which usually held more importance to the storyline. 

Most episodes ended on a lighter note and I have to say that even though Baltar would threaten the fleet and plot and scheme, I never truly believed he could ever overwhelm our heroes as his character became more like Wile E. Coyote vs the Roadrunner than anything that seriously had teeth and could actually do harm to the main characters. Which is a shame - but maybe for the time it played out better for weekly viewers. Perhaps this is a drawn comparison with the new BSG where almost every episode ended with some peril, danger or threat that was actually felt.

In any case, my ratings for each episode give the series a score of 6.21/10, which isn't too bad.

I'll soon have a look through the follow-up series 'Galactica 1980' to see what that was like. I'm not too confident from articles and reviews I've read but it's still part of the BSG universe. 

13 April 2016

Crusade Review: Ruling from the Tomb & Appearances and Other Deceits

The Excalibur continues its mission to explore and find a cure for the Drakh plague on Earth with its responsibilities bringing it back to Mars and discovering a highly dangerous alien entity.
I have decided to watch Crusade in the intended chronological order this time around - to see if things make a bit more sense in this order. As a result, Ruling from the Tomb becomes episode 3 instead of The Well of Forever.
Ruling from the Tomb
Gideon and Lochley look after security arrangements for a conference on Mars about the Drakh plague. 

With the Excalibur back at Mars, Gideon works with Lochley to make sure the conference guests, including Dr Chambers are all secure at the venue. Max, Trace and Dureena choose to explore Mars and make some unusual friends in the process.

Meanwhile, a number of murders heighten security concerns at the conference where a Doomsday cult called Sacred Omega appears to be responsible - planting a bomb in order to bring about the end of the human race, or at least, slowing down the search for a cure.

This episode is notable for the interactions between Lochley and Gideon who appear to be at each others throats in almost every meeting they have. The dinner scene between them is especially funny when Gideon talks about John Sheridan and realises Lochley's past relationship with the now ISA President. There are also some good moments between Max, Trace and Dureena, so overall, even with the serious tone of the Doomsday cult, this is a bit of a fun episode too.

Rating: 7/10
Appearances and Other Deceits 
The Excalibur discovers an unknown alien ship that could provide information about the Drakh plague.
We are reintroduced to Mr Welles (who last appeared in the B5 episode Fall of Night) who is part of a team designed to spruce up the image of the Excalibur's mission for the 'folks back home'.  

Meanwhile, they are investigating a mysterious alien ship and the fate of its crew who all perished. Max works to solve the problem by deciphering their language as a medlab officer is unknowingly infected by the last survivor that is brought aboard the Excalibur. A mysterious alien lifeforce that transfers by touch soon begins taking over crew members on the ship and Gideon must figure out how to stop it.

While the scenes with the dress coordinator were slightly painful, this episode is again an interesting watch. The return of Mr Welles brings continuity and the alien lifeforce feels like a new concept that is tackled quite well by Gideon and the crew. The last moments where we realise the cure might indeed exist, is a scene that I always remember - and that Max really hates hangnails, almost as much as he hates contradictions.

Rating: 7.5/10

25 March 2016

Crusade Review: War Zone & The Long Road

The new saga begins with the limited run of episodes that make up Crusade. The Interstellar Alliance's newest and coolest ship, the Excalibur is sent out to find a cure to the Drakh Plague before it wipes out all life on Earth with a new crew and new adventures ahead...

War Zone
Matthew Gideon and his crew arrive at Earth aboard their Explorer ship after the Drakh attack. The ship endures a minor mutiny before the jump and they are asked to report to Mars.

Meanwhile, an Earthforce destroyer has pursued a Drakh ship which was part of the attack fleet and forced it down at Ceti IV.

Gideon is given command of the Interstellar Alliance ship Excalibur with a new crew to explore the galaxy for a cure to the plague inflicted on Earth. He is told that he has 5 years before all life on Earth is wiped out. He meets Dr Sarah Chambers and Dureena on Mars, who go with him to the ship. He also insisted his previous first officer and telepath Lt Matheson, join them.

Their first mission is to head to Ceti IV. Upon arrival they find an IPX team at an archeological dig are near the Drakh crash site where the alien survivors have already proven hostile by shooting down one of the IPX shuttles.

Excalibur and her crew manage to arrive to rescue the expedition and locate a Drakh councilor who becomes a prisoner of war once they are able to take out a Drakh retrieval fleet. 

JMS has said that this episode was written at the request of the network and it re-covers events that we should already know from 'A Call to Arms'. While it's not a terrible episode by any means it certainly falls down to repeating itself and offering lots of talking and then lots of explosions in the climax. 

The new composer, Evan H. Chen makes his presence felt here - starting off well with the opening scenes but the music in the end battle still remains cringeworthy for me. 

Not a bad start, purely for the action. Looking forward to a bit more development in the characters though as we go along... 7/10.

The Long Road
An Earthforce operation that could provide leads for a cure is being disrupted by a rogue technomage  and his giant, golden dragon.

The Excalibur arrives at Regula IV to assist a mining operation that has had some trouble from the colonists and a technomage among them. Matthew and Gideon head down to the surface to investigate and meet the technomage, known to Galen and has sworn to protect the people in a small village near the mining operation. 

This episode is a bit of an extension from the main series episode 'The Geometry of Shadows', referencing Elric and the technomages leaving our galaxy. It also has some nice and light character moments for Gideon and Galen. It would be interesting to see how this episode would look with more modern effects.

While it is fun and a bit enjoyable, I've seen it enough times through to want a bit more so my rating is a 6.5/10.

12 March 2016

BSG Review: Take the Celestra & The Hand of God

The original series wraps-up with these final two episodes which show us some of the issues arising in other parts of the fleet and brings back the Cylons for what could be one last fight.

Take the Celestra
Kronus, Captain of the Celestra is honoured during a ceremony aboard the Galactica and Starbuck encounters long-lost love, Aurora.

Adama and the Council of Twelve give Kronus a Distinguished Service Medallion, as well as command of three industry ships for his achievement. Meanwhile, his crew has other ideas and under Aurora's leadership attempts a mutiny to take the Celestra. This does not quite go to plan for Aurora and her shipmates and they are out-maneuvered by Kronus' security team. 

Rounding up the mutineers for transport to the Galactica, Kronus' second-in-command, Charka takes control and gives the transport bogus information - ceasing an opportunity of his own. Aboard the transport shuttle, Aurora and the other crew members tell Kronus of Charka's oppression towards them and the reasons for their actions. Apollo and Starbuck, piloting the shuttle, soon realise they are lost from the fleet. 

With reconfigured sensors, the shuttle locates the Celestra and returns just as they run out of fuel. A firefight to take back control ensues and Kronus is lethally wounded. The second mutiny ends and Kronus is given a funeral aboard Galactica.

This episode has a lot going on and gets confusing quickly with the double mutiny aboard the Celestra. I found it difficult to sympathise with, or care for Kronus' character as a number of scenes paint him as a hard-lined, by the book commander that I doubt many people would want to serve under. His death, while not unexpected, certainly didn't make me feel sad either. There is some backstory in this episode and yet another of Starbuck's former love interests - who has at least moved on.

My rating: 5/10.

The Hand of God
While exploring a disused Celestial chamber, Apollo and others discover an ancient transmission on a gamma frequency which leads the fleet to a solar system guarded by a Cylon Basestar.

The signal includes some garbled video of 'ships' which Boomer attempts to clear up. Meanwhile, the crew realise the Basestar is protecting a star system in the path of their journey. A detour would take some time, so Adama decides it's time to go on the offensive and prepares Viper squadrons for attack. Apollo and Starbuck, with help from Baltar, head to the Basestar to sabotage the ship from within, assuring the Galactica of victory. Baltar's assistance comes after Adama agrees to free him if they are successful.

The attack takes place and Galactica sustains heavy damage, they successfully take out the Basestar.

Amidst celebrations, Apollo briefly retires to the Celestial chamber before Starbuck pulls him away. Of course, once they have left, a much clearer transmission from Earth's first moon landing comes through.

As the final episode for the season and, as it turns out, the original series, this was quite a good episode. The premise of being on the edge of contacting, or at least getting closer to finding Earth sets up an action oriented episode which we haven't really had for some time. Bringing the Cylons back probably helped the production team (with all the re-used footage) but it just felt properly Battlestar Galactica one last time.

It's also a bit of a shame the series never got to go beyond this point. What other adventures would have awaited? How long would their journey take them? Would they actually, eventually find Earth?

Some of that is answered by the fact there is a follow-up series called Galactica 1980 - which I haven't heard favourable reviews of. That will be next on the list for the Battlestar universe after a short break with some other sci-fi I think :)

My rating: 7.5/10.

13 February 2016

BSG Review: Baltar's Escape & Experiment in Terra

As the first season begins to wrap up, Baltar decides to take an opportunity aboard the prison barge and the fleet comes upon the Terra star system and its inhabitants.

Baltar's Escape
Joining forces with the detained Eastern Alliance crew and the Borellians, Baltar escapes the prison barge, steals a Galactica shuttle and kidnaps members of the ruling council.

Adama is forced to deal with the ruling council who wish to remove the fleet from martial law, believing any major crisis is over with there being no Cylon attacks in some time. Adama is appointed an aide who causes some friction on the Galactica bridge, especially with Colonel Tigh and the sensitive transfer of prisoners from the Eastern Alliance back to their ship.

It's during this time that Baltar and his own alliance strike, and due to the meddling aboard Galactica, finds very little resistance. Adama and crew have very little time to meet Baltar's demands, but manage to pull a plan together which ultimately sees the Eastern Alliance destroyer leave for home with the Borellians aboard, but Baltar back in custody.

I quite liked this episode and don't remember seeing it previously. Bringing back the Borellians was a nice touch, even if it was a cost-saving measure for the production teams, it showed some continuity to the show. The dealings between Adama and his crew and the civilian ruling body and security force also provided some good story elements.

Rating: 7/10.

Experiment in Terra
The mysterious beings of light return and transport Apollo to Terra so he can prevent a terrible conflict between the major powers.

We (the audience) have been hearing about this Terra and its people for a few episodes now and we finally get to see them. Why the beings of light choose to interfere is not revealed but it allows Apollo to interact with the people and try to convince them that he is who he says he is. 

Starbuck comes to help after alerting the Galactica which leaves the civilian fleet to render assistance. Good thinking there as they need the firepower of the Battlestar to prevent an all out nuclear war.

We find out whether Terra is the thirteenth colony they have been searching for and we are left to wonder whether Adama feels confident that they are no longer being pursued by the Cylons with his decision to leave the civilian fleet behind relatively unguarded. It is interesting too that Adama would use the Galactica to investigate rather than send a smaller ship and crew - however, it does prove to be beneficial for the people of Terra in the end.

There are parallels here with the pilot episode, what was happening to the people of Terra is what happened to the colonies when the Cylons attacked, except here there was an outside party able to intervene.

Rating: 7/10

27 January 2016

2015: The Year of Revisiting Old Hobbies

Each year in review seems to come later and later in to the following year, but here we are - reviewing 2015 which has been a continued improvement over the previous two.

The title refers mostly to my renewed obsession with Lego exhibitions that were held in Sydney throughout the year. I think we ended up attending three or four throughout - this sparked a re-interest in Lego and buying up kits old and new from those I always wanted as a child but could never afford with my own money, to new kits that will look great on a shelf or wall unit somewhere when built. The joke among friends being that after buying up several kits, I never actually connected any bricks together for the whole year!

I also went back to my plastic modelling roots buying some sci-fi kits from Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, similar to the Lego hobby, hoping I would get back in to that. The acquiring of kits happened, but aside from gluing some old broken models back together, there's been little movement there as well.

My diecast plane collection has dwindled down almost to where it needs to be - just the aircraft I have flown on, and some interesting trips during the year allowed for some unique additions to the fleet.

The main hobby that's taking up my time continues to be video editing. AbraxasVideo passed 1000 subscribers and 1300 videos in 2015 with my catch-up to the present day on track - sort of. 2016 will see me celebrate a whole 10 years since I first picked up the camera to film aviation which I also dedicated a video to.

I also started vlogging towards the end of the year - so there's no end to the hobbies and things I can do in my spare time. The only limit is how much spare time I actually have.

There were more opportunities for travel in 2015 which saw us return to Melbourne in February to attend a Star Trek live concert and catch up with friends at a car show the same weekend. Then it wasn't until October where I travelled on my first solo international trip to Iran for some sightseeing and aviation awesomeness. I would return home for a few days before heading out on a longer trip touring Peru, Ecuador and Chile. The amount of flying done over the course of those five intense weeks certainly took a lot out of me though - and that's coming from an aviation enthusiast!

The year also provided plenty of social interaction among friends old and new. Moments like these are the ones I like to hold on to just as much as broadening our views across the world. All up, 2015 certainly delivered.

The Best of 2015...
Best Holiday/Trip - Iran Aviation Tour - October

It was close between the two big trips in October but I had to give it to the Iran trip purely as this was my first adventure on my own without a travel companion in a strange, yet wonderfully beautiful country. The anxiety I was feeling before departure was slightly concerning but I'm glad I got to experience Iran and all this before the sanctions from the western world had been lifted. Of course I met plenty of like-minded and interesting people during the trip and made new friendships, I got to experience some of the oldest flying commercial aircraft in the world, and rare planes that will shortly be retired for good. Another plus was connecting via Kuala Lumpur allowed me to explore the Malaysian capital, albeit very briefly and go up the Petronas Towers - something I've wanted to do ever since seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones in a skin-tight ninja suit :P

Best Movie - Kingsman: The Secret Service 4.5/5
Runner up - Roger Waters: The Wall 4.5/5
Honourable Mentions - Jurassic World, Fast & Furious 7 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens 4/5

A movie I had never even heard of until friends of mine started talking about how good it was, Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise, yet fun entry for 2015 being a spy movie at a level that Bond and the other established franchises can't quite get near. Roger Waters' concert-turned-movie, The Wall was a nice feature but perhaps not entirely a movie.

I enjoyed Jurassic World and how it felt most like the original Jurassic Park from 1993 than any of the other movies in the franchise, F&F 7 was a great tribute to Paul Walker and has wrapped up the franchise nicely (even though there is going to be another one) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn't disappoint as it continues the adventures in a galaxy far, far away - proving that you can pay proper homage to an established sci-fi storyline without changing everything.

It was another light year for concerts so I can't think of anything else worth rating from 2015. We'll see how 2016 goes I suppose. I'm hoping things will continue to be positive and more fun, exciting and interesting adventures await...

01 January 2016

BSG Review: Murder on the Rising Star & Greetings from Earth

Starbuck is implicated in a murder and the fleet come in to contact with humans from outside of their solar system...

Murder on the Rising Star
After a heated triad match, Starbuck's main opponent is found murdered and Starbuck is implicated as he was seen running from the scene. 

Apollo and Boomer come to his defense as Protectors and fight against time to find evidence about who the murderer really is.

This was a decent episode which showed the viewers more about life within the fleet and that things aren't always going well and that the characters are just as corrupt as we are. The flashbacks to Caprica help and add to the mystery until the murderer is revealed - and once again Baltar is shown to be resilient and defying death, even in custody!

Some of the storylines in this episode are touched on in the re-imagined series as well. 

My rating: 6.5/10

Greetings from Earth
A sleeper ship is found drifting through space and appears to be carrying humans. Once brought aboard Galactica debate ensues as to what should be done regarding the occupants. When one, identified as Michael comes to, he reveals enough to the crew about their intended destination and a potentially dangerous region of space the fleet is heading towards...

This episode comes to the DVD collection in the form of one movie length two-parter. The first half deals with the sleeper ship and the  ethics of waking the occupants with Dr Salik worried about the health of the crew while the Council want them awake as soon as possible. This conflict results in having the ship removed from the Galactica and returned to its original course which is accompanied by Starbuck and Apollo to the planet Paradeen.

On Paradeen, Starbuck and Apollo join the ship occupants and a couple of androids in the search for answers about Terra, Earth and a new potential threat in the Eastern Alliance, who Michael and his crew were fleeing from.

It's a lengthy episode due to the two parts being joined together. I have no doubt that it is also quite important as we are basically being introduced to a new rejoin of space which appears to be run by a dominant and powerful faction known as the Eastern Alliance. It would seem though that the Colonial Warriors have the upper hand - for the moment. The title is interesting as we are not entirely sure by the end whether Michael and the other occupants are in fact from Earth - we know they were running from a colony called Luna 7 and perhaps the theory is that these colonies are breakaways from Earth itself? Hopefully the next few episodes will reveal that for us...

Rating: 6.5/10