Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The five worst episodes of long running sci fi shows

Hi all, FOC again,

I watch a lot of Sci Fi and for the most part I enjoy it. Sci Fi has had some of the best single episodes of TV ever written. Good Sci Fi can be a melting pot of ideas coming together to create ideas and themes that examine the human condition.

Then again it can also produce crap like the following:

5) Babylon Five: A View From The Galley

Series five of Babylon five was a mess. But actually that was not the fault of J Michael Straczynski. Meddling from the studio executives had meant that two series had to be condensed into one, leading to a rushed Series 4. So by the time it was eventually renewed for a fifth series all the compelling stories had been resolved. That led to a lot of filler in series five and this episode was no exception.

"A View From the Galley" is one of those episodes where the events of the episode are seen from the viewpoint of background characters. When done well (such as in the Star Trek TNG episode Lower Decks) this is a good technique. When done badly it's this piece of crap.

This whole episode is a love in for the established cast and is so appallingly self congratulatory that it makes you want to shoot yourself in the face. The episode is shown from the viewpoint of two mechanics whose only job it seems is to talk about how wonderful the main cast are. This culminates in one of these working stiffs saying to Captain Lochley that she's OK with him. If I didn't know this episode was written by Harlan Ellison then I would have put it down as ascended fan fiction. It's just that bad.

4) Doctor Who: Love and Monsters

I love Doctor Who. Absolutely love it. For me it contains some of the best TV characters and moments ever written.

This episode however is not an example of that. The whole thing revolves around a search for the Doctor by him off Hustle. Peter Kay is in it wearing a green fat suit and there's implied oral sex with a brick.

Need I say more?

3) Deep Space Nine: Let He Who is Without Sin

Some people say that Prophet and Lace is the worst DS9 episode. Well they are wrong. This episode is far worse.

This episode takes Leeta, Julian, Worf, Jadzia and (for some reason) Quark to the pleasure planet of Risa. Unfortunately Worf has a rod shoved so far up his arse that it may be tickling his tonsils and he gets jealous that Jadzia is spending time with someone she did the nasty with back when she was Curzon. So what does Worf do? He commits an act of terrorism.

That's basically it. The worst bit of this frankly bizarre episode is that Worf would consider doing that. It's so completely out of character that you are left scratching your head wondering what the hell just happened. Plus the acting is forced and no one seems to be having a good time. Just to reiterate, this is a pleasure planet with implied hot and cold running sex and no one is having a good time?

The Federation puzzles me...

2) Star Trek Voyager: Threshold

Ho boy, we are getting to the big dogs now. Voyager was bad. I mean really bad. It had a captain who managed to make all the wrong decisions, a first officer who was a walking native American stereotype, an ensign who couldn't get promoted on a ship 70,000 light years from resupply, a chief engineer who (as has been established elsewhere) can't identify shit without a tricorder and Neelix.

Oh Neelix, how I hate thee. For any of you blessed enough to not have experienced the horror that is Neelix imagine a 5'8" bipedal hedgehog wearing a carpet, with a personality so annoying it would make you want to punch a kitten in the face. Neelix makes Wesley Crusher look like James Dean driving a Ferrari through a series of explosions.

Funnily enough though this episode has very little of the annoying one. Instead we are subjected to a "science" based episode whose science is so patently absurd that it stops being dramatic and starts just being stupid. Very, very stupid.

A quick potted synopsis. Tom Paris (Voyager's resident talking head for "I love the Twentieth Century" a shtick he developed in place of characterisation and personality) has worked out how to go so fast that you can be everywhere in the universe simultaneously. Leaving aside for the moment that this means you will be inside every star and black hole at the same time, who exactly came up with this astonishing leap in technology? It sure as hell wasn't Torres.

Anyway it works, but doing it makes Paris die (yay!) come back to life (boo!) and then "evolve" into a giant space newt. I kid you not. He rounds this off by kidnapping Janeway and making giant space newt babies with her.

Sounds stupid? Bear in mind that this is the worst Voyager episode. That's like winning an award for the biggest waste of space in Jersey Shore.

1) Star Trek TNG: The Outrageous Okona


What could be worse than Threshold? Well dear reader let me introduce you to the Outrageous Okona. This is crap to a biblical degree, an episode so inept on every level that it goes beyond mere badness into anti entertainment. This episode's very existence makes the world that little bit worse. It is by far the most awful TV episode of anything ever.

So what makes this episode so bad? Well this is one of those episodes which has an A plot and a B plot. This is a little conceit that Star Trek used a lot and often it works well. The A plot would be the meat of the episode and the B plot would almost always be a more light-hearted comedy story. Often an episode would have a poor A plot rescued by a fun B plot.

This episode has a horrific A plot and a B plot so bad it's a punishment for shoplifting in some countries.

The A plot concerns a shameless Han Solo rip off called Okona who is apparently Outrageous because we are told this in the title. Everyone fawns over him like he's the second coming with Wesley grinning like a moron every time he comes within 20 metres. He then proceeds to hit on and sleep with everything with boobs and a pulse, tell awful jokes and basically act like a cock. We are supposed to think this guy is great mainly because we are told to through the script whereas it's obvious to anyone with any experience of talking to other human beings that this man is a colossal tosser. There's some vague Romeo and Juliet romance plot going on as well but frankly by the point that came up I was too pissed off to care.

The B plot is the worst thing ever created by Human civilisation. Data decides to find out about humour so he goes to speak to Guinan who tells him the worst joke ever written. Data proceeds to explore humour by talking to comedians, trying stand up and doing Jerry Lewis physical comedy. Crucially none of this is funny, none of it even approaches anything even remotely resembling funny. What's worse is that poor old Brent Spiner has to grit his teeth and mug his way through all this losing any good will that Data had accumulated to this point. It's truly painful to watch, like a car crash in slow motion, you are horrified but you just can't stop watching. By far and away this is a truly joyless and cringe worthy waste of 45 minutes and everyone involved should hang their heads in shame.

Your resident masochist

Fall Of Camelot

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Rules for a happy and healthy PC and player

Hi all, FOC here

I have done so much roleplaying by now that I am beginning to become an expert on what not to do as a player (what not to do as a GM I will cover in a later blog post). It's easy to screw up in a game in a myriad of ways and that's fine, we all make mistakes. There are some cardinal rules however that we should all follow when gaming. For instance:

1) Never split the party: This is such a serious screw up that I named the blog after it. Splitting the party is never a good idea. An adventure assumes that the party is at full strength for encounters. Monsters are built to take account of a party of 4 not a party of 2 and 2 others exploring the latrines. Splitting the party therefore increases risk of death exponentially, don't do it.

2) Don't create a contrary jerk: So the party consists of a bunch of go getting good guys? Don't play a sadistic murderer. It's that simple. You should be allowed to play what you like sure, but creating a concept which directly goes against what other people want to play is selfish. They will have to adjust to accommodate you and that's not fair.

3) Pride cometh before a failed saving throw: Just because you have a 95% chance of success doesn't mean you can't fail. High chances of success can often lead to a sense of invulnerability, don't risk it, you will just end up looking like an idiot.

4) Character backgrounds should be short: The GM is writing a story with you and the important stuff happens during the game, not before it. Writing a detailed 4 page background for a starting character is too much. A GM looks for inspiration in character backgrounds but if you swamp him with too much detail he will miss things that are key to your character, which in turn will lead to resentment from you. 500 words max for character backgrounds is enough, preferably with bullet points.

5) "It's what my character would do" is an excuse for being a dick: When I acted as a youngster I remember someone objecting to a line in a play we were doing. "My character wouldn't say this!" came the cry to which the director replied "but he does say it so find a way to make it work."

That always stuck with me and it is a useful piece of advice for roleplaying. "Sorry guys, it's what my character would do" is a horrible phrase. It usually means that player has just screwed over the party. How is that fun for anyone else? It's selfish roleplaying and actually shows a lack of imagination. Don't do it.

6) You don't have to describe everything you are doing: No one else wants to hear you describe exactly how you are picking the lock. Make the damn roll and get on with it.

7) The GM is eventually right: By all means debate rules interpretations but once the GM makes a call accept it and move on.

8) Accept death like an adult: So you are dead? Deal with it. No one likes a whiner.

9) Don't do other stuff whilst playing: Don't play on your laptop, do work, read comics etc. It's rude to the GM.

10) Always fill in your character sheet: It's extremely irritating to have to work out your to hit modifier on the fly. Work it out, fill it in and save everybody a lot of needless hassle.

There will be more of these in later posts as I think of them.

Your resident rule monkey

Fall Of Camelot

Monday, 27 June 2011

2 gamers, 3 opinions

Hi guys, FOC here

So I thought I would kick off by giving my opinions on games. I play all sorts of games, Tabletop RPG's, Video Games, Board Games, LARP, Wargames, you name it I've probably played it. I owe my not so chiselled physique to countless hours at a table cramming jaffa cakes down my gullet whilst pretending to be an elf. It's fun, hell it's more than fun to me, it's what I do. You get that question all the time when meeting new people "What do you do?" well I game. Oh I have a job and suchlike but if I'm honest my calling is little funny dice on a table somewhere.

Is it weird? Well yeah, sure it is, I spend an awesome amount of time pretending to be someone else, that's nothing if not weird. But there's nothing wrong with weird. I'd rather be weird than not actually, at least then I'm interesting.

Of course this leads to one of those interesting things about gaming. It attracts the long and the short and the tall (of which I am one). People less concerned about image than their boundless enthusiasm for escapism. I have met hundreds of these people from all around the world and I am constantly amazed by their capacity for originality and creativity. That's what gaming does. It promotes creative thinking and attracts those who exist on the fringe of popular culture. That's what we often are, fringers, a creative group who live vicariously through characters of our own devising.

Of course such an eccentric group does have it's share of opinions and as I post more I will be sharing with you some of the more interesting splits and disagreements in gaming. Gaming attracts it's share of strong willed people who are not afraid to share an opinion (whether you want them to or not). This is one of the best things about gaming, it is also often one of the things that causes the most consternation. Two gamers can indeed have three opinions. That's a good and a bad thing.

But we wouldn't have it any other way.

Your resident fringer

Fall of Camelot

So I'm bored...

Hi folks, FOC here.

So this is my new blog. Funky isn't it? Now I guess you are wondering why I'm bothering to write a blog and that would be a very good question. The fact of the matter is that this is a purely selfish thing I am doing. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has their blog and the world is replete with morons spewing forth their opinions on just about everything. I therefore am exercising my rights to spew forth my opinions because I'll be damned if I am not adding to that. If you have to read what some dickhead has written at least let it be this dickhead.

I will try to add a little note every day so long as real life doesn't get in the way. (This also assumes I can pry Mrs Camelot away from the keyboard).

As ever feel free to comment on anything I write just if you feel the necessity to insult me please try to be creative about it. There's nothing worse than an unoriginal insult y'know?

As ever, your resident dickhead

Fall of Camelot