This will hold my place – Farewell Person of Interest

PersonOfInterestThe final episode ever of Person of Interest (PoI) aired last night on CBS. My husband is out of town on travel for work and won’t be home until next week, so I haven’t watched it yet. Watching Person of Interest is something we’ve done together since the show aired its vary first episode. We haven’t missed watching an episode together yet. He told me I could watch it on my own, so I don’t have to stay away from the internet until next week but I don’t know that I can go through watching it alone.

I’ve never written about PoI on my blog. Mostly my blog has been Star Wars focused or Castle focused when I wrote about pop culture. The only reason for so few posts about a show I love so much is that I lacked the time to do the show justice. Person of Interest is a fantastic show, layered and poetic, so beautiful in its portrayal of broken people learning how to be better, to be heroes, with the help of a machine.

I plan on purchasing the last episode, as a backup in case our DVR died sometime between now and next Tuesday. I might be able to make it until my husband’s return to watch it, I might not. In either case, I wanted to put something up on my blog about Person of Interest, before it’s gone.

Open letter to the Show Runners of ABC’s Castle

If there is no Kate Beckett, there is no Castle.  Period.

Several years ago, I used to post pretty regular reviews/summaries of episodes of Castle on my blog. So regularly that I’ve made a tab at the top of my blog to link to them. I’m a Nathan Fillion fan, and fell in love with his ruggedly handsome Richard Castle character from the first episode of this mid-season replacement show. While Nathan may have gotten me to start watching, it was the Beckett-Castle relationship, embodied by Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion that got me to stay. From the very beginning, their chemistry was amazing, add to that the fact that the show took what is typically a male dominated profession and instead gave us the amazing Detective Kate Becket and I was hooked.

 

I stopped writing reviews and summaries because I grew unhappy with the direction the show was taking. It focused on a lot of dark stuff. Betrayal. Miscommunications. At it’s heart, it’s a hopeful, zany show with shenanigans wrapped around the serious murder-solving.  Along the way, the show runners forgot that, and made things too dark. Dark is fine. Dark has its place. Castle is not dark.

The season leading up the wedding of Castle and Becket seemed to remember what the fans of the show loved, and gave it to us in spades. Then the show runners traded hands, and the entire tone of the show changed. The ratings have reflected that. For me, I never returned to writing reviews, but I have never stopped watching the show. I used to have to watch it the day it aired (after our children fell asleep) but now I might go a couple of weeks before catching up. I find that telling. I still watch, it’s just not as fun, so I don’t rush to the DVR.

I’ve just read news that neither Stana Katic nor Tamalia Jones will be returning *IF* Castle is renewed this fall. ABC has not announced what will happen to the show going forward, and news is out that the show runners have filmed three different endings, depending on whether the season ender is also a series ender or not.  I do not know whether one of those endings results in Kate Beckett’s death, but if it does, I am done. Here and now. I am done watching this show.

There is no Castle without Beckett. No Beckett without Castle. Sure, I love Ryan and Esposito, and I love them with Castle, but the heart of this show was the two leads. The romance. The love. The teamwork. The episodes were always their strongest when Kate and Richard worked together to solve the crimes. That became painfully evident this season, as the characters underwent a “fake breakup” to throw off some bad guys.

At this point, if ABC has decided that it’s not worth keeping Stana, then I have decided it’s not worth continuing with this show. If the finale doesn’t let Castle and Beckett ride off into the sunset then I am not interested in watching anything further. I won’t watch even a shortened season without Beckett.

The fans deserve a happy ending. The fans deserve Castle and Beckett growing old and catching bad guys. Let them have babies, and save the world. Let us know they will be living the happily ever after that this couple was always meant to have.  Show us a healthy relationship where the wife can continue her career and she and her husband can work together as partners.

But I am not even sure I’ll continue watching to see.

I am beyond disappointed ABC. Whoever is making these decisions has no idea why the fans watch this show. Nor do they appear to care. I know it’s about the money. I just wish it were also about the storytelling and the fans.

I won’t even start my rant about how they are letting go of only the women on the show.

RSM

Fringe Season 4: Walter makes me miss my own father

I logged into my blog this evening, while watching the third episode of season four of Fringe, to try to write an entry or two, only to find that I’d started an article on Fringe back in March. At the time I started this point, I wrote that I was three episodes to the end of season 3 in the television show, Fringe. I’ve finished season three and am in to season four now. I didn’t watch Fringe with it aired on television, but tried my best to catch up as season five was airing. I didn’t make it, but am still trying to work my way through the series.

I’ve been watching Fringe mostly when my husband goes out of town, and after my children fall asleep. Getting them to sleep takes a lot longer when my husband is out of town.  This means I end up watching one episode, then another, then another and end up paying for it by staying up well past midnight.

When I logged into my blog tonight, I was struck by the title I’d given this post.

Watching Fringe does make me think about my dad. It makes me think about him a lot.  He’s been gone for 18 years, and I still miss him as much as the day that he died. He never got to meet my kids. He wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle when I married my husband (although they did meet). He never got to do so many things.

Watching Fringe and watching the relationship unfold between Walter and Peter Bishop does make me miss my Dad. I am surprised I actually put that down in an entry.

My Dad was complicated. He had his demons. He had his weaknesses. But he also had great strengths. He was brilliant. He loved very deeply. He loved his kids. He could have been so much. He could have had a great life. I am RocketScienceMom because he always answered all of my questions about the stars, the universe and everything. I am RocketScienceMom because he shared with me his love of math and science, and I inherited his affinity for both. I only wish he were still around to see me actually become RocketScienceMom.

Sadly, he’s not here. I lost him far too soon. But the complicated relationship between Walter and Peter, and the brilliance of Walter remind me of my Dad.  His ability to cut to the heart of things, and sometimes say things that should have gone through some sort of mental filter, are very much like Walter.

I find that I am enjoying Fringe more than I thought I would, in spite of the fact that I don’t really have the stomach for all of the disgusting things or the monster of the week that they often show.

Here’s to an ending of season five that I hope is worthy of the  seasons that lead up to it.

And please don’t spoil me. I have done a great job of remaining spoiler free so far.

RSM.

Fringe – I am late to the party

I love Fringe!

I know I am late to the party on this one, and especially late with all of my Lost watching friends having watched it, loved it, and finished it, but that’s where it is. As I write this, I am watching the fifth episode of season three. For those who haven’t watched Fringe yet, I won’t tell you what’s happening. I’ll leave that to another post.

When I watched the first two episodes of season one on its original airing I didn’t like it. It didn’t hold my attention because I couldn’t get past the gratuitous use of effects just to be gross. It felt too much like the Monster of the Week episodes of X-Files that I didn’t like and I was invested in Mulder and Scully.

Now that I’ve watched the entire first season, I don’t think I’d have stuck with it any longer than that if I’d been watching it during its first airing. I wouldn’t even have made it to season two if good friends and twitter friends hadn’t insisted that it gets really good in the second season.

It does get good.

Then it gets frustrating.

I am currently sitting at frustrated. I know that things need to keep our protagonists apart and that obstacles need to come up to keep the resolution from being achieved until the end of the series, but I am frustrated. Thankfully, I am invested in the characters. I love Walter. Love Olivia. Love Peter.

I have so far avoided spoilers for most things. I do not know how the series ends. I do know at least one huge plot point that happens in season five, though, and I am not happy about it. I’m not happy for knowing it, and not happy that it happens. But the same friends who have encouraged me to watch, have told me that they were happy with the ending.

I trust them, the same as they’ve trusted me when I said that I was happy with how Lost ended (very happy). I am going to stick with it and hope that in the end, just like Lost, love and faith and friendship are all that matters.

RSM

JJ Abrams to direct new Star Wars movie

Everyone who knows me has been asking me what my thoughts are about the announcement that JJ Abrams will be directing the new Star Wars movie. I love Star Wars. Seeing A New Hope at an impressionable age is probably part of why I am a Rocket Scientist today. I also love JJ Abrams work: Alias, Lost, and now Fringe.

Actually, I am the target audience for the announcement. I should be overjoyed. I should be thrilled. I am not. I am just worried.

If you follow me on twitter you know why. I hated the Star Trek reboot. Hated it. Simply hated it.

I was really excited when a new Trek was in the theaters. I was excited to watch a new installment from one of my favorite mythos. I wasn’t very happy with the last two traditional Trek movies (Nemesis was horrible), and was looking forward to something good.

I was less excited once the credits rolled and the movie was over. It is a good science fiction space movie. I will give you that. But it’s not a good Star Trek movie. It’s more about angst and bad guys interacting with actors doing great impersonations of the Original Series cast, and less about the exploration and seeking of new lifeforms that made the Star Trek I love so wonderful.

I left the show feeling that as a fan, I’d been cast aside. Setting the action in a new alternate reality gave the creators a clean slate. The reboot was cheating in a way, a shortcut. That’s fine for the creators. I understand their motivation. They are free of any and all responsiblity to past/present/future established story lines. But for me as a Trek fan and movie goer, I am not interested in going to this alternate reality where the future timeline I know isn’t going to happen, (or where Vulcan no longer exits). I left the new Star Trek so very sad. I’m am not interested in returning to that alternate reality/timeline. It makes me sad that I have no interest in going to the new movie this summer. It really looks like it will be more of the same.

When I go to the theater to see a movie, it’s driven more by my desire to spend time in a world that interests me with characters I care about. JJAbrams knows how to make characters that I care about. Sometimes, though, he skimps on the world.

I don’t want that to happen with Star Wars. Since I cannot affect anything about the new movie, I stopped ranting on twitter, and promised my followers I’d stop cluttering their timelines with my worries. I thought I’d bring them here one last time, since I am not entirely finished with my worrying.

I love Star Wars – Episodes IV, V, VI. There’s no one series of movies that mean as much to me as they do (especially The Empire Strikes Back). I Love Lost. There’s no TV series that means as much to me as that show. I know from the small nods in Lost that JJAbrams loves Star Wars too. I want Star Wars to be Star Wars, not something new, fresh, dark or brooding. I can only hope that just like Hurley, JJ wants that for his Star Wars too.

May the Force be with him.

(I had to say it. I promise it will be the last time.)

Fingers crossed.
RSM

Setting up the Apple TV: Part 3, Apple’s Remote app

Apple's Remote app icon from Apple's site.Continuing the series (part 1, installation, and part 2, Airplay) on setting up our new Apple TV at home, this post will sum up my thoughts of an app I had known about but since I didn’t own an Apple TV when it was released, had completely forgotten about. Apple has a tiny app (free) in the app store called Apple Remote, and it does just what it’s name implies. It turns your iOS device (iPhone, and, I presume, iPad, and iPod touch) into a remote to control your Apple TV.

Using the Apple Remote app came out of a fit of laziness. I was sitting on the couch with my daughter, and the Apple TV’s actual remote control (a beautiful and slender silver stick with a click wheel similar to the original iPods) was sitting across the room next to the TV. It was then that I remembered that Apple had an app called Remote and I immediately downloaded it to my iPhone4.

Upon first tapping the app, with the iPhone already on our local wi-fi network, it immediately found the home sharing that I’d set up via iTunes on my MacBook, and also subscribed to by our Apple TV. Once I’d logged into the home sharing, taping the screen turned on (or, more correctly, woke from sleep) the Apple TV. After it woke up, I saw the Apple TV navigation titles on the screen that are controllable by the left/right/up/down clicks on the silver remote’s click wheel. The controls on the Remote app are super simple. You swipe left right, up or down, to move a cursor on the screen in that large black open area in the center of the iOS device’s screen. The “Tap to Navigate” directional arrows on the image to the left are exactly what you’d see. Once you have moved the curser over what you want to choose, you simply tap on the iPhone’s screen. Tapping does the select.

I was, again, surprised at how easy it was to work. So easy, in fact, that my six year old daughter immediately took the iPhone from me and went about to scrolling through the list of movies we were streaming from my computer via Home Sharing (details coming soon) to pick out the movie she wanted to see (Ella Enchanted for those interested).

I know I am an Apple fan girl from way back, but it’s easy to see why when the things that Apple makes just work. I understand the hacker culture’s need to be able to jailbreak and tear apart the tech that they buy, but I also totally appreciate the culture of insanely great products that just work instilled into Apple’s design philosophy by Steve Jobs. The Apple TV and associated Apple remote all are two bits of technology that I know my Mom and Step Dad would be able to master is short order.

Whether or not Apple has the best TV ever in development for 2012, I am still happy we took the plunge with this huge Panasonic TV with the second gen Apple TV.

Enjoy,
RSM.

Setting up the Apple TV: Part 2, Airplay

Continuing the posts on how we are getting along with out AppleTV, this article will focus on one of its functions: Airplay. We have been using the predecessor to Airplay, called AirTunes when it was audio only, for a while now to stream music from my husband’s iMac to our surround sound system. AirTunes streaming is accomplished by adding up an Apple Airport Express to your wireless network. Once you set up the Express, you will see it as one of the destination options in iTunes music output. You can choose either Computer, the Airport Express network name, or both.

Airplay operates very similarly. You must be running iOS 4.2 or later (in the case of our setup, all of our iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV have been updated to run the latest version of their iOS that they can run. Both the iPhone 4 and iPads (both 1st and 2nd gen) are running iOS 5. I actually don’t know what version the Apple TV is running. Sounds like an area for more research.

Here is what I did last night to display the screen of my iPad2 onto the HDTV using Apple TV and Airplay.
1. Turn on the Apple TV.
2. Switch the input on the HDTV so that it’s using the output from the Apple TV.
3. Go to your iPad, iPhone, etc. and double tap the home button. This brings up the mini-doc display of all apps that are running. Swipe to the right, pulling back on the controls (sound, etc).
4. You will see the Airplay icon which looks like a rectangle with a small triangle on the bottom. The icon sort of looks like an HD tv with the triangle pointing at it.
5. Choose where you want to display your iPad (or iPhone) display. In this case I chose the network name we gave the Apple TV when we set it up. You can choose to mirror the display at this time by sliding a button to “on”.

That was it. With that, because I checked the button for mirroring to on, the display of the iPad was mirrored onto the HD TV. The aspect ratio of the iPad isn’t as big as the HD aspect, so the image was a much smaller near square in the center of the large rectangular display of the television. What displayed was exactly the screen of the iPad. My daughter immediately grabbed the iPad2 out of my hands and began playing any and all of her games. She was delighted when Where’s my Water was up there, larger than life.

What I really wanted to try was streaming video via the ABC player to the television. I needed to catch up on Once Upon a Time, but I’m not willing to purchase all of the episodes. I’ll most likely buy the complete season on DVD when it comes out. I’d been watching it via the ABC player on the iPad2 at night on my own, but I wanted to share it with my husband.

It worked without a hitch with two exceptions. First, because this was mirroring, the image didn’t fill the entire HD TV screen. Next time I will not turn mirroring on, which should adjust the aspect ratio on the television itself. Mirroring definitely doesn’t take advantage of this hugeness that is the TV. Second, I did notice that there was just a fraction of a delay in the image rendering on the television over what the iPad display was showing. I don’t know if this is our home’s wireless network (we are still running a snow Airport Base Station), or the slowness of our cable internet (we live out in the sticks and are served by a small town cable provider) or some affectation of AirPlay itself. I will have to do more research to see which, if any, might be the cause.

I was pleasantly surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) with how seamlessly the AirPlay worked. I already knew that AirTunes worked well, so I should have anticipated this to work just as well.

All in all, so far the Apple TV has been a fairly good deal. Priced at $99, it was definitely worth taking a chance on just to test it out. I’m looking forward to continuing setting up our brave new HD entertainment center, and I think the Apple TV was a good addition.

Part 3: Streaming via iTunes Home Sharing will be coming up soon.
RSM.

Setting up the Apple TV: Part 1, installation

I am still amazed that the 2nd Generation Apple TV my husband and I ordered as our Christmas present to each other arrived at our house less than 24 hours after we’d ordered it. It was a last minute decision, the day before Christmas Eve, and we pretty much expected it to arrive after the holiday. Low and behold, I received an email before even going to bed that night that it has shipped. The Fed Ex truck came to our house by lunch time the next day. That is service. I don’t know where Apple shipped it from, but with two Apple stores in my area (one on each side of town) perhaps Apple uses the stores to do mail orders as well.

That having been said, I was also amazed at how tiny the Apple TV actually is. I expected a box about the size of the original Airport base station, but what came in side the package was tiny. The packaging is thinner than the box the iPhone4 comes in, and only slightly wider. This thing is tiny.

We opened it, and gently pealed off the black tape that covered all of the ports to protect them in shipping. As always, Apple packages their gadgets with much love and care. I have never opened electronics more beautifully packaged than my Apple products.

From the time we opened the cardboard box, through unwrapping and unpackaging the the Apple TV itself, to hooking it up to the HDTV via an HDMI cable, the whole installation took minutes. While I did go to Apple’s site to fine the Apple TV manual (they stopped putting manuals in the boxes with the products years ago), I didn’t read it (yet). Putting a link in this article is as much for my future use as for the reader.

A word of caution to those purchasing the Apple TV, Apple does not include an HDMI cable in the box, so if you don’t already have one, you will need to purchase one. The only things that come in the box are the Apple TV itself, a power cord, and a tiny Apple remote. My husband had already purchased one at the time of ordering the HD TV itself. Cables have a huge markup, so as much as I love Apple, I wouldn’t recommend buying the HDMI cable from them directly.

The only additional setup set was to go into the HDTV’s inputs selector, turn on the power on the Apple TV and program into the HDTVs system that the HDMI input was coming from the Apple TV.

That’s the installation. Next up will be the setup to get content through the Apple TV onto the TV. I’ve tried both streaming via iTunes from my MacBook, as well as Airplay from both my iPad2 and my iPhone4. Spoiling the end of the story, they all just worked. 🙂

Enjoy.
RSM.

Adventures in HD TV land

Our family has finally joined the rest of most families in America who have already upgraded their living rooms with an HD TV. My mother in law treated us to the Panasonic HD TV that my Rocket Scientist husband spent many many hours researching, as our Christmas present this year. We ordered in on Black Friday via Amazon and have already opened it and hooked it up to our DVR. Now, the adventure begins.

I am not opposed to having a huge TV but I must admit that I am still taken aback by how really large it is. I almost don’t want to sit in the TV room with it to watch it. I’ve spent most of my viewing time doing so from the kitchen which overlooks the TV room. That distance seems to take the edge off the hugeness factor. Perhaps I am just getting old.

Now that we have it, we are taking the baby steps to hook it up and create the entertainment center around it. Physically it’s sitting atop our entertainment unit until the new one we ordered from Amish country is finished. That’s what’s in the photo associated with this article and the juxtaposition of how large this TV is with how very quaint our old TV is makes me laugh.

Stepping back, just what TV did we purchase. We bought the Panasonic VIERA® 50″ Class S30 Series. It is pretty, and I have always been a fan of Panasonic’s electronics.

Next up, how to get movies and content onto this device. To first order, we have it hooked via component video to our DVR with it’s small selection of digital HD channels. Most of our stations do not have an HD option, so the large format adds a bit of grainyess to the image.

To start, I ordered an Apple TV this morning as a Christmas present from the husband and I to each other. An informal poll of four folks around work over the last two weeks who all have Apple TVs yielded 100% satisfaction results. Since the Apple TV is about the only product by Apple that we don’t own, it’s about time we did. Having typed all this, just watch as Apple releases something new in the Apple TV area the first two months of 2012.

I will report back on how we set the HD TV and the Apple TV up in a subsequent post. I’m curious to see how the streaming between my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook iTunes account and the Apple TV works.

Enjoy
RSM.

RSM Thoughts: Castle Season 3 Finale: Knockout

With the Castle season 3 finale history, I thought it time to write another blog post and offer my thoughts. I have to say that my immediate reaction is disappointment and sadness. I wasn’t taken by surprise by anything that happened last night, but that’s not the part that disappointed me. I am disappointed that yet another show I watch has decided to go for the shock value season ending, rather than something really and truly different. Warning, you must watch the episode before reading through below because I am going to talk about a huge plot point and I do not want to spoil you.

Captain Montgomery. I knew something was going to befall our captain from that look he and Esposito shared several episodes back, but his fate was sealed when they cast an actress as his wife. You don’t give someone a back story and a family if there isn’t something big about to happen. They practically stamped “not long for this world” on his forehead. It would have been different to have him defeat and take out the badguy. Sacrificing himself to save Beckett seems more of the same shock value season finale stuff that TV is known for. The kicker for me was when Ruben Santiago-Hudson joined twitter just a couple of weeks ago. I just knew he was gone.

I guess I am just getting old. Too many Joss Whedon disappointments where characters I liked were killed off. Or perhaps I was really hoping that after the emotional drain of six wonderful seasons of Lost, I had found a show that would be lighthearted and fun, serious at times, but never taking itself too serious. I needed a break from the deep stuff, and to enjoy the laughter. This finale was so much of what I don’t want from Castle.

It occurs to me that Castle actually admitted he Loved Beckett as the very last line of the episode, but I was so beside myself at the Captain’s death, that the moment didn’t even resonate for me. Sure, it happened immediately after Beckett is seemingly shot by a sniper who set up in the cemetery, another shock I found disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to watch, but I’d have been tuning in again in September without killing Captain Montgomery and possibly wounding Beckett, not because of it.

As always this cast and crew do an outstanding job. The acting is top notch. I cried with Esposito and Ryan as they discovered their beloved Captain had a past. Their fight in the alley was probably the best scene of the whole episode. I cried with Beckett as she screamed in the hangar for Castle to leave her be. I cried when the Captain said good bye to his family knowing it was going to be the last time they saw him in this life. All in all, the cast is stellar…just another reason we didn’t need to lose Captain Montgomery. Sure, there will be more storylines as we get a new Captain at the precinct, and this new captain gets up to speed on things, test his or her on all things NYC Blue. I just don’t feel it was necessary.

Bottom line, I feel cheated. Same old shock value stuff. Again, maybe I am old, but this isn’t what I wanted to see on Castle.