• The Good Stuff

    Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (again)

    I thought that I had shared a quick reaction to seeing James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny somewhere online, either here or on one of the MANY social media sites I’ve tried out recently, but it looks like I never actually got around to it? Or maybe I did and I the search functions on those sites aren’t so great? Or there’s a social media outlet that I’ve forgotten about…?

    In any event, yes, I was able to see the final Indiana Jones film in the theater on opening weekend, and I absolutely loved it. I thought that it was a fitting finale for the character and a loving tribute to the films that came before it. If Mangold didn’t quite stage action sequences quite like Spielberg would have, he still really captured the tone and spirit of the originals. I went in with some hesitation about the new de-aging techniques for the flashback sequences, but ended up very, very impressed with the results. The third act twist was a big swing that I absolutely did not see coming, and I really respect that they took that big of a creative risk, but ultimately I think they pulled it off nicely.

    I’ve always felt that the character of Indiana Jones only really worked as well as he did all these years because Harrison Ford was the perfect actor to embody him, and that has never been truer than here. Ford brings a real gravity and weight to this older version of the character, while still diving headlong into the action and humor of it all.

    It was great to see some familiar faces again, but the new characters introduced were fantastic, too. I would be more than happy to watch the ongoing adventures of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Helena Shaw and Ethann Isidore’s Teddy for years and years to come.

  • The Good Stuff

    Still Here (and Elsewhere)

    I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on some recent reads and watches, but I keep getting distracted and then time goes on and I still haven’t said anything and my site remains dusty and unused for weeks and months on end.

    So here’s a quick list of things that I would have written about here had I had the time, and may end up coming back to sooner or later.

    Mrs. Davis on Peacock is like a live action Tom Robbins novel, and is absolutely worth checking out.

    Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is my new favorite live action Trek series of all time, but I’ve been loving all of the new stuff in general (and the crossover episode with Lower Decks, “Those Old Scientists,” is one of the best episodes of Trek, or indeed of anything, that I’ve seen in a LONG time).

    I’m halfway through the first season of Apple TV+’s Foundation adaptation and really, really impressed with it so far.

    I recently finished rereading one of my favorite science fiction series of novels, Kage Baker’s Company series, and it remains every bit as good as I remembered it being.

    Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is absolutely fantastic, and FAR better than it has a right to be.

    For the last few months I’ve been reading all of the Krakoa-era X-Men titles in publication order starting with the 2019 releases, and as of now I’m almost caught up with this year’s releases, and I have been really impressed with the overall level of quality.

    And finally, now that Twitter has been well and truly x-ed, I should note that I’m spending most of my social media time over on Bluesky these days, where you can find me at https://bsky.app/profile/chrisroberson.net

  • The Good Stuff

    First Contact Day

    On April 5, 2063, a Vulcan survey ship lands in Bozeman, Montana after detecting a warp-capable ship launching from there earlier that day. The Vulcans are greeted the ship’s designer and pilot, Zefram Cochrane, and the rest is (future) history.

    I’ve always been a hardcore Trekkie, having started watching the original series in reruns as a kid in the Seventies, seeing all of the original cast movies in the theater, watching all of the spinoff series from The Next Generation through Enterprise live in broadcast. I read the comics and the novels, played the video games and got the roleplaying games. I’d return to Trek whenever I needed it, and these last few years I’ve needed it a lot.

    At the beginning of the pandemic I started rewatching The Original Series, introduced my son to Deep Space Nice, and then proceeded to rewatch all of The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Enterprise, and am currently working my way through the last few seasons of Voyager. I’ve read giant stacks of Star Trek novels and comics, technical manual and series companions. And with all of the new Trek being produced–Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds, to say nothing of all of the legacy shows being available to stream, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a Star Trek fan. And with the state of the world and all of the challenges facing us today, it’s arguable that we’ve never needed Trek more than we do right now. Stories about competent people working together, overcoming their differences and finding strength in their diversities, solving problems with science and cooperation. Sounds pretty good to me.

    Happy First Contact Day to all who celebrate. Live Love and Prosper, Peace and Long Life.

  • The Good Stuff

    Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

    I’ve written before on many occasions about my longtime obsession with Indiana Jones. I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater the summer I turned 11 years old, and was there for each of the three sequels on the opening weekend. A trip to Disney World a few years ago got me on a serious Indiana Jones kick and in the span of a few months I rewatched all of the movies, all of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, read all of the Marvel and Dark Horse comics and a huge pile of Rob MacGregor novels. I found that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was much better than I remembered from my one viewing on opening weekend, and that The Last Crusade was even better than I remembered and I remembered it being awesome, and that the original Raiders film is pretty much without a single flaw.

    But when there were the first rumblings that Harrison Ford would be reprising the role in a fifth feature film, I was skeptical. Ford is still a fantastic actor, but he’s a little long in the tooth to be an action star. Admittedly, James Mangold’s Logan made it clear he knew how to handle the story of an aging adventurer, but I remained unconvinced. Willing to be convinced, but skeptical.

    Then I saw the trailer yesterday, and all of my doubts evaporated. I have no idea what’s happening here, or what this has to do with what appears to be the Antikythera mechanism. Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing Marcus Brody’s daughter, or granddaughter? Or is she one of Sallah’s kids who went off to school in the UK? Are those Nazis who got recruited in Operation Paperclip who are up to no good years later? I don’t know, and at the moment, I don’t care. Because that’s Indiana Jones, dammit. I’m sold. That’s the GUY.

    I went into the trailer skeptical, but by the end I was grinning from ear to ear. And I’ll be there on opening day to see what happens, just like I’ve been doing for the last four decades.

  • The Good Stuff

    The Power of the Doctor

    I think that Chris Chibnall’s run as showrunner on Doctor Who has had its ups and downs, but overall I’ve really enjoyed Jodie Whittaker’s stint as the 13th Doctor. (I’ve particularly liked the way that Chibnall and the writers frequently used real historical figures who many viewers might not have previously been familiar with, such as Noor Inayat Khan, Ada Lovelace, and Mary Seacole.) And while I’ll be sorry to see the 13th Doctor go, she went out with a bang in one of the best regeneration episodes to date.

    As someone who has been following the Doctor’s adventures since I stumbled upon the first installment of “Robot” on my local PBS station in the mid-80s, who watched the 1996 TV movie live in broadcast, and who been in the front row since the character was reintroduced back in 2005 (and consumed mountains of novels, comics, and audio adventures along the way), “The Power of the Doctor” felt like a love letter both to the franchise and to all of the longtime fans. The twist at the end had been spoiled for me on social media before the episode had even aired in the States, but I was completely unprepared for all of the cameos along the way. And while I was momentarily worried that bringing back so many characters might devolved into a fan service checklist, it was genuinely moving seeing some of those interactions, and the way that the Companions plot wrapped up in the end completely justified it all for me. (Though I’m still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that Ace and Graham are now essentially the same age…)

    I’m looking forward to the new episodes next year, but in the meantime I think that I’m overdue for a rewatch of the modern series to date, some of which I haven’t seen since they originally aired.

  • The Good Stuff

    The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun

    I finally had a chance to watch The French Dispatch over the weekend (or to be more precise, The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, to use the full title), and of all of the Wes Anderson movies that Wes Anderson has ever Wes Andersoned, that was the most Wes Andersony. And I absolutely loved it.

    Anderson has been responsible for several of my all time favorite movies, and while The Life Aquatic and The Fantastic Mr. Fox probably still occupy the top spots, The French Dispatch has secured a slot somewhere very near the top of the list. It is a joyful celebration of the written word and French films and The New Yorker and the act of storytelling and the creation of art itself, and I look forward to watching it again very soon. And like all of his best movies it left me in a mood to go work on one of my own stories, the creative sparks firing off behind my eyeballs.

    As is always the case with Wes Anderson movies, The French Dispatch has a fantastic soundtrack, but in addition to two accompanying album releases, one for the soundtrack and one for the original score, there is another album released in connection with the movie. Jarvis Cocker, of Pulp fame, recorded an entire album of French pop song covers in character as the fictional pop star Tip-Top who is mentioned in the film’s dialogue. I’ve only sampled the first few tracks so far, but the mere notion of an entire album of French pop songs by a fictional character from a Wes Anderson movie is probably enough to let you know if it might be for you. (And it is definitely for me…)

  • The Good Stuff


    I feel like an apostate who has just experienced a religious revival, like my faith had lapsed for years and years and was suddenly reignited.

    I have read and reread Frank Herbert’s Dune many times over the years (though I haven’t revisited any of the sequels in quite some time), most recently about a decade ago. I was in the theater on opening day for David Lynch’s adaptation in 1984, and still have the one page “Glossary” that was handed out to moviegoers at the door. I watched the Sci Fi channel miniseries, and liked them well enough. But I haven’t thought about Dune much in recent years, and even after seeing the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation last year I didn’t really get my hopes up, despite having loved Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Then I watched the movie on Friday.

    I’ve spent the two days since then listening to Hans Zimmer’s three soundtrack albums (The Dune Sketchbook, featuring long moody pieces of atmospheric music from the film, is probably my favorite of the three), getting my hands on a copy of the book to replace the many copies I have sold or traded in over the years, and clearing room in my To Read pile to dive into a lengthy reading project. I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way to Chapterhouse: Dune for the first time since the 80s, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

    I absolutely loved Villeneuve’s adaptation. The casting was perfect. The music and sound design was sublime. The cinematography and visual effects, the production design and wardrobe, the all of it and everything, just fantastic. And I’m overjoyed to see that it is connecting with viewers, both longtime fans of the books and general audiences who are experiencing Herbert’s world for the first time. I’m glad that a sequel seems likely, and delighted to learn that a prequel series focusing on the Bene Gesserit is in the works for HBO Max, with Diane Ademu-John attached as writer and showrunner and Villeneuve onboard to direct the pilot.

    I know a lot of my friends have already watched the movie multiple times over the weekend, but I’m waiting to watch it again next week, when I introduce it to my kid who will be watching it with fresh eyes. I’m curious to see what he makes of it, and will be ready and waiting to answer any questions he has about the world of Dune.

  • The Good Stuff

    For All Mankind

    There’s has been a lot of ink spilled in recent months about the absolutely amazing Ted Lasso, and justifiably so (it’s one of the best things I’ve watched in years, and substantially altered my emotional state in ways that have stayed with me ever since I finished watching the first season and all the way through the second), but I think that there is another Apple TV+ series that more people should be talking about, and that is For All Mankind.

    To say too much about the specifics would run the risk of spoiling some key plot points, so I’m keeping this vague, but here goes: For All Mankind is a science fiction series created and written by Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek fame), Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi, that imagines an alternate history of the Space Race. The divergence from real history happens in the opening moments of the first episode and I don’t intend to spoil the reveal here, but in the subsequent episodes we follow a number of astronauts and administrators and engineers at NASA as they push to go much further than simply landing a man on the moon. The characters are a mix of fictional, fictionalized-versions-of-real-people, and real historical figures, and the setting and the era (mostly Houston in the 60s and 70s, and the moon, I suppose) are brilliantly rendered.

    It’s gripping as a drama, and clever as a piece of hard science fiction, but as a work of alternate history it might just be unrivaled in television, as I struggle to think of another example of a series getting quite this granular about how minor changes might have increasingly profound changes to how history unfolds.

    Two full seasons are currently available to stream on Apple TV+ with a third on the way, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.