Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Finland is Lots of Miles from Japan

Behold, the fruits of an English lesson I gave to-day. I was asked to talk about Finland on short notice to a class of special needs students (I work at a junior high school in rural Japan). What do I know about Finland? All I could think of was the Monty Python song which, in retrospect, would've been pretty useful given that it specifically mentions Japan in the lyrics--the kids love it when their own country is referenced in the lessons. I also thought of Nightwish, the Finnish metal band I like, especially their stuff from when they had an opera singer on lead vocals. I drew a big bear (on the right) because I knew there were bears in Finland. Otherwise I had nothing until I remembered The Sampo.

Or as it's sadly better known in the U.S., The Day the Earth Froze, which is the version with bad English dubbing. It was famously featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But the original film is based on Finnish mythology and was co-directed by the great Russian fantasy director Aleksandr Ptushko, whose films are criminally difficult to acquire decent copies of in the U.S. So I started by drawing trees and then the mountains and the lake. Then I explained how the hero rode on logs, and I explained what a log was, and told them how one day he saw a beautiful woman and how they both were victims of a witch's jealousy. It was easy to put it all into simple English and I think it was a pretty good basis for a lesson plan.

The Day the Earth Froze was always one of my favourite episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, a case where there was a strange blurring of the line between mockery and appreciation, at least for me. The film has some genuinely amazing visuals.

I remembered the host segment where Joel and the bots ask the audience to figure out just what a Sampo is. So when I came to my own version of the story I put it to the students--when the witch, who lives on a miserable island, jealous of the people in the village, demands the Sampo in exchange for freeing the beautiful woman, just what might the Sampo be? One of the students suggested, "Life."

"Maybe!" I said, "Good answer!" After all, you might say a big lump that spews endless quantities of salt and gold is basically life.

On a slightly unrelated subject, here's a giant bug I saw outside my apartment this morning.

I thought it might be dead so I tapped one of its antennae with the tip of my umbrella expecting it to scurry away if it was alive. Instead, the antennae slowly, lazily swung back. As though to say, "Yeah, I'm alive, and you don't scare me, human."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Landing Landau(s)

The only thing more dangerous than Martin Landau is a pair of Martin Landaus. But their opponent is Lieutenant Columbo in the 1973 episode "Double Shock", an episode that also features Paul Stewart, Jeanette Nolan, and Julie Newmar.

Newmar's pretty scrumptious, too, playing the fiancée of murder victim Paul Stewart. She's overenthusiastic and her performance is as wonderfully campy as you might expect from the former Catwoman. She's a welcome spectacle but Landau provides something a bit stronger in two roles as the twin brothers implicated in the murder.

Which one of them did the deed, though? Like many murderers on Columbo, they stood to inherit a lot of money. Landau is amazing at subtly differentiating the two between a gregarious TV host and a repressed banker with a gambling addiction.

There's also small but very rewarding plot garnish between Columbo and the murder victim's housekeeper played by Jeanette Nolan. Peter Falk shows up masterfully again playing a man heavily sleep deprived. As his cigar drops ashes on the crime scene, the victim's exercise room, Nolan quite justifiably is enraged by the disrespect. I was so happy for a scene like this to show that Columbo's untidiness is not a quirk without consequences. Though, of course, it indirectly leads to his discovering a clue.

Columbo is available with commercials on Amazon Prime.

Twitter Sonnet #1368

Remembered shells contained a taco taste.
Reported talks occurred beneath the sky.
When ev'ry lunch arrived we crushed a paste.
No mention made could yet repress a sigh.
A row of rice was reaching up to-day.
The boxes bulged with books to set the shelf.
Required moves were set against delay.
We all were looking past the central elf.
Pervasive orange in citrus decks the room.
A final link completes a golden chain.
Constructed horses fell the heedless groom.
Along the wall we wrote of painted pain.
The dusty campus trapped a rubber wight.
With glowing squares we built electric sight.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Connectivity of the Doctor

It's Sunday again and this time I bring you the final instalment of my Doctor Who fan fiction. Yes, there's an end. I hope you've enjoyed it.

(Part I can be found here, Part II can be found here, Part III can be found here, Part IV is here, and Part V is here.)


"The New Model Tomb"

by Setsuled

Part VI

“Doctor, this whole building will be filled with toxic gas within ten minutes,” said William. “Can you get us out of here before that?”

The Doctor raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. She looked back at the wall panel thoughtfully.

“Doctor?” said William insistently. “Doctor?!”

The Doctor's eyes wandered to the bare space of wall beside the control panel. Its metallic surface offered faint reflections of the five people standing in the corridor. “Inspector,” said the Doctor, “what are these walls made of?”

“Isharasteel,” said Marwat, her voice shaking, “re-reinf-inforced by divaranised mesh . . .” She stopped as the Doctor reached over to Rob's hip, grasped the hilt of his sword, and drew it. The looks of terror that suddenly overcame Marwat's, Judy's, and William's faces showed they'd suddenly realised leaving a prisoner armed didn't make very much sense. But instead of attacking them, the Doctor walked over close to the wall, raised the weapon, and began pounding the pommel into the surface.

Instead of the loud clang of metal on metal, there was a knocking sound accompanied by the sight of splinters. Splinters of wood. Very soon, the Doctor had made a small hole.

“It's—it's wood,” said William, stunned.

“It's plywood,” said the Doctor. “Made to look like metal.” She continued pounding, expanding the hole. Rob drew his dagger and started helping her, expanding the rupture and the red light started to filter into the darkness behind the wall. The smooth surface of some kind of oblong object on a rough hewn table slowly became visible.

“I don't understand,” said Marwat, something like awe coming into her voice. “There's nothing about this in the Cloud.”

The Doctor shrugged, stepping over the rough bottom edge of the hole, lifting her skirts. “There didn't need to be. It occurred to me . . .” She went over to the object and started twisting dials and flicking switches. “. . . that for a great security system, the most important thing is convincing people it's a great security system.” She stepped back, letting out a breath. “And when people voluntarily limit their sources of information, it becomes much easier to convince them of even absurd things.” The Doctor now looked at some lines running from the oblong object into the rough, pale wooden wall.

“Plywood?” asked Rob.

“Ah, yes, hm. Cheap, weak wood veneer,” explained the Doctor, gathering up one of the small lines and examining it. “Very good for . . . theatre and television. There was a show in Britain I liked--”

“Doctor, what about the gas?” said William.

“Ah, turned off,” said the Doctor, pointing at the oblong object. “There are others like this tank but I've hit the master control. We're quite safe.”

“No, we're not,” said Marwat, starting to get angry. “These are all relics of a Wanter infiltration. According to the folder 27115, this tracks with an attempt to infiltrate and monitor our prison!”

“Ha! That was fast,” said the Doctor. “Already writing articles to protect itself, eh?”

“The date on the article is from two years ago!” said Marwat, getting more confident. “In fact, the more I look, the more articles I find on how rooms like this have already been discovered and dealt with years ago.”

The Doctor raised her eyebrows and put her hands in her pockets, the corners of her lips turned down. “Well, who am I to argue with articles, eh?”

“And you shouldn't!” said Marwat, “because one of my colleagues has just uncovered an article that exonerates you. You and your companion are free to go.”

Rob didn't understand what was going on but he couldn't help smiling at the sudden look of delight that spread over the Doctor's features.

“So, now it shows me its belly!” she laughed. “Well, then, Rob. Let's go!”

“Now wait just a minute!” said William. “They can't go just like that. After everything she said.”

Marwat looked at William pityingly. “All I can say, William . . . is you would understand if you were still . . .” she couldn't finish.

William clenched his fists.

Rob was kneeling beside Judy who'd slumped to the floor, her hands clutching her shoulders.

“Is there anything I might do for you, miss?” he asked.

“Leave me alone,” she said and, just like the man Jean, she said, “Don't look at me!”

The inspector saw nothing strange about telling the Doctor and Rob to find their own way out of the high security detention facility. The Doctor seemed to have no trouble finding it. Whenever a locked door or forcefield presented itself, a wave of the sonic screwdriver granted them passage. They found the Doctor's green velvet coat in the now deserted office. She put it on and they proceeded down a cold, dark stairwell before emerging from the base of the tower on the mountainside. By now it was quite late and the slumbering city of the Aeons lay below. Smooth, blocky buildings lit by evenly spaced, coordinated lighting.

“All the lights fit together,” said the Doctor, a subtle laugh in her voice. “No motley of shapes in a commercial district, no distinctive decorations on the homes in the residential zones. Little even to indicate which is which.”

“Aye . . .” said Rob, very tired and now not a little cold. “I can't believe men can build such a place.”

“Hmm, neither can I.” The Doctor eyed him, noting his fatigue. “Perhaps we'd have been better off in that cell, eh? Hmm.”

At this point, they both became aware of William standing behind them. He'd followed them down the stairwell.

The Doctor quietly looked at William expectantly while he fixed on her an intense gaze. He seemed ready to say something several times but caught himself each time and said nothing.

“It seems very strange, doesn't it?” said the Doctor slowly and loudly.

William frowned, his eyes flashing mutely.

“How can the inspector change her mind so swiftly, so completely . . .” the Doctor continued.

“If she's wrong . . .” said William, “then you're guilty of poisoning us. But how—how can she be right . . . ?”

“Ah, ha ha. I see your trouble,” said the Doctor. “Well, a stopped clock is right twice a day, you know! We didn't really poison the implants. But it's also not reasonable for the inspector to change her mind so quickly.”

He grunted and looked away, to the ground. He took a few steps to the right, his work boots scratching on the dirt. “There's something else, you see. It's not just losing part of ourselves now. It's losing the part of ourselves that lives on . . .”

The Doctor's body tensed as comprehension dawned on her. “Ahh . . .”

“Is it in the Great Tomb?” he asked, looking at the Doctor now. “Is it there waiting, like I'm—like I'm dead already?”

“Is it in the Great Tomb!” the Doctor repeated. There was a pause and then she pounded one fist into her palm. “One way to find out, eh? Let's go have a look, shall we?”

William scowled but started trudging down the mountainside. He stopped, looked back, and motioned for them to follow.

They passed in silence between rows of indistinguishable white buildings shaped like boxes occasionally connected by hard edged corridors. Rob wondered how anyone could find their way. Finally, there was an open square in the centre of which was a roughly three storey round tower that tapered slightly to a flat top. Eight smooth buttresses adorned the exterior. There were no windows and Rob could see only one double door which was open, revealing an interior dimly lit as though by candlelight except the light was a pale blue. As they stepped inside, they saw the interior was mostly hollow with two levels of platforms above ringing the edges. At the centre of the room was a small pedestal with what looked like a bell jar on top containing something within.

“Ah,” said the Doctor in a dark tone. “I can't say I'm surprised.”

As Rob came around the Doctor he had a better view of the thing on the pedestal, in the jar. It was a helmet, not one of the thin wiry ones the Aeons wore, but one that would fully cover the head. The remarkably smooth metal extended across the face and down the neck like a hard metal cowl. A sort of handle was attached at about where the ears would be and it ran over the top of the helmet. Two perfectly round holes for the eyes had smaller holes, like little tears, connected to them and the mouth was a perfectly rectangular, horizontal slit.

“You know what that is?” asked Rob.

The Doctor nodded. “The helmet of a Cyberman.”

“When we Aeons die,” said William, a curious look on his face, “the sum of our knowledge and skill goes to rest here and can be accessed by anyone.” He gestured at the wall and Rob saw that the walls were covered by little shiny black boxes, each with identical sets of little blue lights and tiny slots.

“So you would say your spirit, if you will,” said the Doctor, “descends from the Cloud to rest here, in the Great Tomb?”

William nodded slowly, contemplatively. “We don't call it a spirit. It's simply us. We are all of us one foot in the Cloud and one foot on the ground, as the saying goes. Most of us.” He reached up and touched his own thin, lifeless helmet which, it now occurred to Rob, never made the clicking noises of the helmets belonging to the other Aeons.

The Doctor nodded distractedly and started strolling along the wall, looking at the black boxes as though viewing paintings in a gallery. She came to one box that was different to the others. It was about the size of three of the others, roughly the size of a seaman's chest, and had no lights on it. The Doctor held her sonic screwdriver close to it, there was a wirring noise, and the box swung open, revealing a coil of black line. At the same time, the light inside the tomb changed from dim blue to dim yellow, quietly.

“William, may I borrow your helmet?” said the Doctor, her eyes remaining on the coil of line.

William's mouth opened and he didn't respond at first, clearly taken aback. “Doctor . . .” he said finally. “Doctor, I wouldn't let my own wife wear my helmet.”

She looked at him now and smiled gently. “I understand. But it's very important, William. I might be able to solve this whole thing.”

“You mean—you mean you could help me recover the part I've lost in the Cloud?” he took a step forward eagerly.

Her smile tightened. “I could possibly, William. But I'll need a helmet like yours to interface with the Cloud.”

“But—but it's poisoned. Broken. Isn't it?” said William, reluctantly pulling some tiny wires from his temple and lifting the frail looking headpiece.

As he slowly placed it in the Doctor's small, pale hands, Rob suddenly found himself saying, “'The cares I give I have, though given away; They tend the crown, yet still with me they stay.'”

Richard II, eh?” the Doctor smiled at Rob. “Well,” she said, looking at William, “I hope it's not so bad as that.”

She placed the headpiece on her own brow, attaching the end of the coiled line as she did so. She lifted her sonic screwdriver to her temple and suddenly the little helmet started making the familiar clicking sounds.

William sucked in his breath. The Doctor's eyes widened and started moving quickly from side to side, as though seeing something Rob couldn't. He tried to follow her gaze and looking at the entrance to the tomb he saw a number of Aeons entering, all of them armed with rifles, led by Inspector Marwat.

“What are you doing, Doctor?!” screamed the inspector. “I demand you cease your activity immediately! Stop! Stop!” But she seemed unwilling to shoot at the Doctor. The dozen or so Aeons all watched with various shades of anxiety on their faces, each impotently clutching their rifles. All of them looked very tired, as though they hadn't slept in weeks.

Rob drew his sword and stood between the Aeons and the Doctor.

“There is no Cloud!” the Doctor pronounced loudly. “Only the Tomb! All of the data is here! All of your folders and your articles and your expertises are here, contained on these servers.” She frowned and there was silence. Then all of the Aeons screamed and fell to their knees, clutching their helmets. Some of them went quiet, some of them started weeping.

The Doctor removed the helmet. William looked bewildered and a little angry. “What have you done?!”

“I've 'poisoned' everyone else,” said the Doctor sternly.

“No!” cried William, lunging for her but Rob shoved him to the ground.

“I'm sorry,” said the Doctor, “But it was inevitable. This whole network is breaking down. It was built on a single outdated piece of Cyberman technology. Left as it was, it would have all shut down within a week. It couldn't support that kind of neurological interface any longer, your population has grown too large. But all the data is still here, intact. You can access it from this terminal.” She pointed to a screen and panel inside the larger box.

“That's not good enough!” screamed Marwat.

“All of the knowledge is here still,” said the Doctor. “But you'll have to learn it on your own.”

“You don't understand, you damned alien!” shouted William. “It isn't about knowing things . . . it's about—about being who we are!”

“Perhaps you aren't who you thought you were!” said the Doctor. “It can happen, you know. It certainly happens to me now and then. You don't look receptive to any advice I might offer,” she grinned apologetically at the furious faces arrayed about her, “but I would say . . . you'd be surprised how very much you can find in very little things. Sometimes you can find a whole universe in a daisy.”

One of the Aeons lifted a rifle and pulled the trigger. The thing clicked ineffectually.

“Yes, I'm afraid those won't be very helpful,” said the Doctor. She looked at Rob, “You know, I think we'd better go.”

The two of them walked out of the tomb, Rob sensing angry eyes burning holes into him the whole way.

It was a couple hours' walk back to the TARDIS and Rob was amazed at the Doctor's ability to find the way to the ruined Wanter town. Along the way, she tried to explain cybernetic implants and computers to him. He felt he might understand better once he'd gotten some sleep.

At last, standing beside the TARDIS, he took one last look about him.

“Will the Aeons be all right?” he asked.

“They're smarter than they give themselves credit for,” she said thoughtfully.

Rob was surprised. “They seem to accord themselves a great deal of credit.”

The Doctor grinned. “Hmm. Well, now they must put aside their resentment and sloth and learn to build. They can do it. Especially if they make peace with the Wanters who, despite what the Aeons say, are much more skilled at living than they are.”

“It seems the more tools people have at their disposal,” Rob said, “the greater the folly they create.”

“Ha!” the Doctor opened the door of the TARDIS. “Humans make some truly marvellous things, too.” He followed her inside, the door shutting behind him as she began operating the controls on that peculiar capstan. “I should show you the cathedral on Balyitsu Fourteen. Or the bathhouses on Konaral in the 6740s.”

“For now,” he said, “I'd like nothing more than a good hammock.”

She laughed and that strange wheezing sound filled the air again.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Beware Sartana's Brand of Generosity

Gianni Garko, the original Sartana, returns with a moustache in 1970's Have a Good Funeral, My Friend . . . Sartana Will Pay (Buon funerale amigos!... paga Sartana). Very generous of him and I can confirm he lavishly spends on coffins throughout the film taking this bit established in Yojimbo to decadent levels. Yet this film is a return to a more grounded, satisfying storytelling after the previous entry, Sartana's Here . . . Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin, drove the series' slightly coy sadism into self-parody. This one even has a sweet hint of a suggestion of romance for Sartana.

The plot isn't wildly different from previous entries--Sartana, the mysterious, preternatural gunman with gadgets is hunting people down having something to do with some kind of land swindle.

Among his enemies this time are a corrupt banker and the Chinese owner of a saloon, Lee Tse Tung (George Wang). For the latter, the film's climax turns out surprisingly to be a melee, taking Sartana out of his trick shot element. Tse Tung wields an anachronistic Japanese sword against Sartana but it leads to the cool image of Sartana wielding a katana when he naturally turns the tables.

There's less emphasis on Sartana's ability to hide his guns and escape certain death and more focus on him intimidating people with his presence. He also seems to have a soft spot for Abigail (Daniela Giordano), a young woman mixed up in the bogus land deal.

Two thirds of the way through the movie there's a particularly nice action sequence when four outlaw brothers are randomly introduced and very quickly dispatched by Sartana. They're introduced nicely, though, with music and visual composition so watching their showdown with the film's hero is really very good.

Have a Good Funeral, My Friend . . . Sartana Will Pay is available on Amazon Prime.

Demons in the Community

A boy's life radically changes when his family is slaughtered by demons in Kimetsu no Yaiba. Only his younger sister is spared--and only because she's been turned into a demon. This entertaining anime series from last year is wildly popular at the Japanese junior high school where I currently work. I don't know if it's a phenomenon all across Japan but I think the show's rural setting might make it more appealing to students living in a rural area.

One of the most astonishing things I've learned while living in Japan is that many of the things in anime I assumed were fantasy or exaggeration turn out to be quite true. This includes the often comically effusive behaviour of the students and also the presence of beautiful, ancient neighbourhoods and landscapes. Parts of the area in Nara where I live look exactly the same as the neighbourhoods I see in MIkio Naruse movies from the 50s and not at all dissimilar to the feudal Japan depicted in Kimetsu no Yaiba.

The show feels very much like an illustrated manga. There are a lot of moments with minimal animation, half frozen images where we hear the protagonists' thoughts. Like in many other anime that employ this cost saving method, the impact of the action sequences is diluted somewhat. Similarly, the shift in focus from the horror of Tanjiro's (Natsuki Hanae) family being killed to his training as a demon slayer is too quick, the emotional weight not quite being what the circumstance requires. I'm three episodes in and the training is pretty standard stuff, like having to swing a sword one thousand times.

I'm hoping the show gets back to the eerie material between Tanjiro and his sister, Nezuko (Akari Kito), who seems ready to devour him in the first minutes of her resurrection. She's certainly my favourite character so far, and not just because her name is close to my own Nesuko from my old web comic, Boschen and Nesuko. I doubt the creator of Kimetsu no Yaiba took any influence from me but the two characters do have some similarities.

In art club to-day, I was talking to three girls about a Kimetsu no Yaiba notebook that belonged to one of them. I was trying to say things about the show in very simple English so I mentioned a kind of interesting scene in the third episode where Tanjiro uses his sword to split the mask of a character named Sabito (Yuki Kaji). I think I was saying something like, "Sabito's mask was cut." Mask being a word that has plenty of currency these days. While I was talking, a quiet little boy sitting in the corner stood up and left the room. "He's a Sabito fan," explained one of the girls. "But he's very shy," said another. I wonder what it is about Sabito that this little guy seems to be so sensitive about him?

Kimetsu no Yaiba is available on Crunchy Roll.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Surrounding Water

There's one of the trains I normally take to work.

I love all the canals and rivers running through Kashihara. They're beautiful in themselves but they're also populated by gorgeous wildlife.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of what I think are prawns in a little gutter in the neighbourhood near my school.

At first I thought they were crayfish but when I googled Japanese crayfish I discovered the only ones in Japan are far north of here. But these seem big for prawns, especially their pinchers. I wonder if someone in the neighbourhood is keeping them to sell to local markets.

I've been seeing some good sunsets lately.

Twitter Sonnet #1367

Configured words resemble stars and snakes.
A counted void amounts to something big.
For all the planets give the aether takes.
Ideas were crammed beneath the moonless wig.
The sleepy cable dripped the inter-line.
The maker shook to spill the coffee bean.
The optic world a deed was forced to sign.
The tale was crammed to fit a minute scene.
Another moon replaces movie tapes.
In time the garden disks were mirror eyes.
For taste the peepers touch the bite of grapes.
And all the host were stuffed in stranger pies.
A starry figure tramped behind the sound.
The life of songs continues 'neath the ground.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dreams, Dark and Massive

Combining visual artistry with music is one of the distinguishing features of film. Still, it's amazing to think that just thirteen years after the first feature length sound film there was anything so audacious and imaginative as 1940's Fantasia. Not that it was entirely without precedent, being essentially a feature length version of Disney's own Silly Symphonies shorts. But those short films can't rival the scale and majesty on which Fantasia operates or the imagination behind some of its modes of expression.

The first segment is its most abstract, consequently the most difficult for children to sit still for. Using Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D minor", which was already beginning to be associated with horror films, the animation is freeform, starting with colour and shape before moving to more concrete imagery. This is actually explained by the film's somewhat superfluous host, critic and composer Deems Taylor. But it accomplishes just what he says, being a remarkable visual transcription of beautiful sound. The character of the more concrete images, clouds and musical notes, convey the majesty evoked by the composition.

Most of the musical choices and their animated accompaniments seem calculated to inspire awe. Even "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", originally intended as a Mickey Mouse short, is extraordinary in scale of terror when Mickey confronts the looming and crashing waves of his folly. The implacable, eerie broomsticks, marching continuously, are more nightmarish for the simplicity of Mickey himself as a character.

Most people prefer Donald or Goofy, their shorts lending themselves to better opportunities for comedy. They both have very straightforward flaws--Donald with his temper and Goofy with his stupidity. Mickey always felt sort of ill-defined. As the mute protagonist racing against embarrassment and death, his insubstantiality becomes another piece of the fearful patchwork in the turbulent sea, another source of instability.

Fantasia also features some of the sexiest women ever animated for a Disney film, beginning with the sensuous fairies populating the "Nutcracker" segment, followed later by the coquettish centaur women, or "centaurettes", according to Wikipedia.

This is from the segment set to Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony", the first piece of a Disney animated film I've noticed to be censored on Disney+, though this censorship actually goes back to the film's 1968 rerelease. The original 1940 version featured stereotypical black child slaves tending to the white centaur women, giving the scene of ancient Greece an anachronistic flavour of the romanticised pre-Civil War American south and making the sexy centaur women into southern belles. In addition to the obvious racism, its a fascinating look at how women in the antebellum southern U.S. were dreamed of in the 1930s. Taken with Gone with the Wind, there seems to be a sexual piquancy in the folly of beautiful women in a lifestyle supported by slavery rather than a justification of the institution. The important thing for the artists here is that the women are beautiful, vulnerable, and spoiled. Like Clark Gable, a guy might fantasise about teaching these saucy creatures a thing or two.

The "Rite of Spring" presents another snapshot of the collective imagination of the time, in this case the contemporary impression of prehistoric Earth. The dark figures of the dinosaurs framed by sinister red glow are another inspiring nightmare. The doomed stegosaurus in his struggle with the tyrannosaurus is a concrete terror while the preceding chaos of volcanoes erupting and swirling slime is another example of strange, unstable majesty.

Perhaps the least effective segment is "Dance of the Hours", with the hippopotami and alligators. It's still pretty funny but sits oddly beside the other segments, the only one that seems to be more of a parody of classical music than a complement.

Of course, one of the best remembered images of the film is the mountain that transforms into, or reveals itself to have always been, a demon. In "Night on Bald Mountain", the impressively oppressive music is fitted perfectly with the satanic figure surrounded by the dead compelled to rise and swirl about him. With "Sorcerer's Apprentice", "Rite of Spring", "The Nutcracker", and the appearance of a thunderbolt lobbing Zeus in "Pastoral Symphony", the film returns repeatedly to a contemplation of fate and the level of control one has or hasn't over life. Whether it's the random molecules in the primordial soup or an army of marching broomsticks.

Fantasia is available on Disney+.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Substitute Pieces

For anyone who plays chess, "The Most Dangerous Match", the 1973 episode of Columbo, holds plenty of points of interest. The writers clearly had more than casual knowledge of chess and the competitive chess world, drawing together a plot about rival grandmasters that feels credible, as far as their personalities, and satisfying, in terms of the murder motive.

Laurence Harvey, father of the bounty hunter Domino, plays grandmaster Emmett Clayton who happens to have a personal connexion to his opponent, Tomlin Dudek (Jack Kruschen), having once been in a relationship with Dudek's assistant (Heidi Bruhl).

She takes delight in the idea of Dudek beating Clayton in the only thing he cares about. The two grandmasters end up having dinner together along with an impromptu game using food and cutlery. When Clayton loses, the buildup makes it very clear just how badly it cuts his pride and sense of identity. His desire to not only murder Dudek but to make the death as humiliating as possible for him makes perfect sense to any serious player who's had a losing streak.

But in that kind of chess, no grandmaster can compare with Columbo (Peter Falk). Falk's great, of course, putting the screws into Harvey and Harvey, who died that same year, is pretty good, never playing it as an over the top maniac, just as a terribly sensitive man.

Columbo is available on Amazon Prime with commercials.

Monday, June 22, 2020

From Luggnagg to Japan

A rice field to-day near the school where I work. There are a lot of fields like this everywhere.

I had a discussion about Gulliver's Travels to-day with some other teachers. Looking through one of the text books for the second year junior high school students, I was surprised to learn there's an annual festival for Gulliver held in Kannosaki. This is to commemorate the fact that Gulliver visits Japan near the end of the book. One of the few books I was able to bring with me in my luggage is the 1952 Britannica edition of Gulliver's Travels. One of the teachers, despite my assurances to him that even native English speakers struggle with 18th century literature, is now making a valiant attempt to read it.

It seemed like a good book to read when travelling to a distant land. I was reading it on the train but now I've switched to reading Macaulay's History of England. Whatever else you might say about him, Macaulay's prose is lovely, even when describing things that should be intensely dull by all rights.

The wits and the Puritans had never been on friendly terms. There was no sympathy between the two classes. They looked on the whole system of human life from different points and in different lights. The earnest of each was the jest of the other. The pleasures of each were the torments of the other. To the stern precisian even the innocent sport of the fancy seemed a crime. To light and festive natures the solemnity of the zealous brethren furnished copious matter of ridicule. From the Reformation to the civil war, almost every writer, gifted with a fine sense of the ludicrous, had taken some opportunity of assailing the straighthaired, snuffling, whining saints, who christened their children out of the Book of Nehemiah, who groaned in spirit at the sight of Jack in the Green, and who thought it impious to taste plum porridge on Christmas day. At length a time came when the laughers began to look grave in their turn. The rigid, ungainly zealots, after having furnished much good sport during two generations, rose up in arms, conquered, ruled, and, grimly smiling, trod down under their feet the whole crowd of mockers. The wounds inflicted by gay and petulant malice were retaliated with the gloomy and implacable malice peculiar to bigots who mistake their own rancour for virtue. The theatres were closed. The players were flogged. The press was put under the guardianship of austere licensers. The Muses were banished from their own favourite haunts, Cambridge and Oxford. Cowly, Crashaw, and Cleveland were ejected from their fellowships. The young candidate for academical honours was no longer required to write Ovidian epistles or Virgilian pastorals, but was strictly interrogated by a synod of lowering Supralapsarians as to the day and hour when he experienced the new birth. Such a system was of course fruitful of hypocrites. Under sober clothing and under visages composed to the expression of austerity lay hid during several years the intense desire of license and of revenge. At length that desire was gratified. The Restoration emancipated thousands of minds from a yoke which had become insupportable. The old fight recommenced, but with an animosity altogether new. It was now not a sportive combat, but a war to the death.

Twitter Sonnet #1366

The mountain's wing resembles heights of dance.
In time for bronze and marble, gods appear.
Between the worlds was just an idle chance.
The lobby glass was frightful all austere.
Familiar names perhaps combine in soup.
The pretty clock offends the rusty eye.
Reminders flip the spokes an endless loop.
A game of dice requites a second try.
The tiny dragons formed a perfect sign.
Directions changed as wind conceals the voice.
A finger grew from old and ragged twine.
The answer fades behind an endless choice.
The coat contains a set of boards and pawns.
The watching cat inspects her meal and yawns.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Versatile Sonic Screwdriver

It's Sunday again so it's time for the fifth instalment of my Doctor Who fan fiction.

(Part I can be found here, Part II can be found here, Part III can be found here and Part IV is here).


"The New Model Tomb"

by Setsuled

Part V

The inspector drew her gun and pointed it at the Doctor. “We don't want anything!” she shrieked. “Now you will remain silent and come with us!”

The inspector would respond to no further attempts at conversation with the Doctor as they went back to her craft. Rob looked for the man called Jean whom they'd seen when first entering the reactor building but he was nowhere in sight. He asked the inspector where he was but was met with stony silence.

Once they were in the car it rose back up into the night sky. “Not much traffic,” the Doctor remarked. “I don't see any other cars out there.”

She looked at Rob who was reclining happily in his seat. The Doctor smiled and also leaned back, putting her bare arms behind her head, her coat having been left back at power station. “Good to rest after sweaty work, eh?” she said.

“A more luxurious capture I've not suffered,” replied Rob.

They ascended further as they approached a mountain and a very dark, featureless tower. It grew larger and larger, much larger than Rob had estimated its size from a distance. An opening now slowly appeared and expanded beyond which a tunnel lit by evenly spaced white lights grew to meet them.

“This is very impressive, I must say,” said the Doctor, her fingertips resting lightly on the window pane as she tried to peer around the edge. “The isolated location and the elevation are perfectly balanced.” She glanced at Rob and tapped the glass. “Between the lights are interlocking sensors . . . “ she looked over to watch the Inspector's hand flying across the controls. “And there's a separate code for every ten feet! The Inspector must input ten characters a second!” The Doctor looked over at Rob to see his baffled face. “A series of passwords,” she said, “communicated to the machines by hand.”

Rob looked from the Inspector to the tunnel outside and said, “'Tis a far sight more formidable than the Tower of London, to be sure.”

The craft landed on a thin platform and they were ushered into a corridor with long, vertical strips of light on either side. Between these strips, the air shimmered with colour like a soap bubble. The Doctor told Rob these were “security forcefields.” Inspector Marwat typed a series of numbers into a panel by each field for it to vanish just long enough for them to step through. At a corridor junction they met a pretty blonde woman wearing a white coat over the usual armour. She, like everyone else, wore the little helmet skeleton. She stood on the other side of a forcefield.

“Thanks for staying late, Judy,” said Inspector Marwat.

Judy smiled tightly and said, “I've usually taken my shoes off by now.” The two of them both started typing quickly on either side of the forcefield. Rob realised they were hitting precisely the same buttons at precisely the same time.

“That's certainly something you couldn't do without a cybernetic implant,” said the Doctor, folding her arms across her chest and smiling as she looked down her nose at the the two Aeons.

“Yeah, so maybe it wasn't a good idea to poison people,” said Judy. “Might want to think about that before you commit acts of terror and sabotage, hmm?” This earned a caustic laugh from the Inspector and four other people in a room they walked into now. One desk occupied each corner of the room, each with a shiny metal surface perfectly bare of paper or tool. Nonetheless Rob recognised a clerical space.

“Good one, Judy!” said a man with dark hair and red nose at one of the desks.

The Doctor and Rob were placed in a cell. Like the car, it greatly exceeded Rob's idea of the comforts that should accompany imprisonment. Two soft white bunks were separated by a white silk screen. Benches on the walls were upholstered like the seats in the Inspector's car and there were even video screens, the purpose of which the Doctor explained to him as providing information and entertainment by way of recorded plays and pamphlets.

“Truly, a man could pass his days in perfect bliss!” said Rob.

The Doctor laughed, “I've seen more than my share of prisons and this one, I must say, surpasses others on both security and comfort.” She reclined on her side on one of the benches like Cleopatra on a divan, resting her cheek on her palm. “We could live out our lives comfortably here. Would you like to, Rob?”

He sat down on a bench along the wall perpendicular to hers, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “No,” he said firmly. “Maybe I ought to. But I don't. Many's the lad lured to sea by the promise of comfort and riches. But those that stay in the life are either slaves or . . . men like me.”

“What sort of man would that be?” she asked.

He laughed and looked down. “I hardly know myself.”

“'Only the shallow know themselves',” the Doctor grinned. “A man named Oscar Wilde wrote that. Shallow you're certainly not. But as a seaman I'm sure you're aware that depths have their advantages, even the unfathomable kind.”

He laughed again, looking down as he blushed. “I think you flatter me. Really, I think it not so profound. Like you said, I tend not to join in my fellows in egregious slander of Royalists. Though, at heart, I suppose I am a Parliamentarian, there's something . . . ” He grimaced, searching for the word. “About their certainty. Their certainty about so many things that really are . . . obscure. But perhaps I am simply . . . irresolute.”

The Doctor shrugged. “I hardly think so.” She sat up, stretching her arms over head. “But perhaps we may indulge ourselves in some repast, eh, hmm? You should eat, my boy!” She let out a breath as she dropped her arms and stood up. “Let's see what's on offer.”

She walked over to a wall panel that she evidently recognised, a sort of cupboard built into the wall with a row of black buttons above it. Peering at it, she raised her eyebrows, her enormous eyes widening to a slightly comical effect, drawing a smile from Rob. “A robust selection!” she said. “What meal have you dreamed of in your long hours at sea?”

“Hmm . . .” he thought. “A shoulder of mutton with oysters?”

The Doctor laughed. “Well, this thing wasn't wired for 17th century guests. I'll order for us both . . .” She pressed a series of buttons and there was a rumbling far below them followed by a clatter, like a barrel of cookware was overturned into a copper tub. She now turned her wide eyes to the floor and took a step back. Both the Doctor and Rob slowly looked up as the sound travelled all the way up to the panel. There was a shaking behind the wall and then the door shot open loudly. Within was a tray with two large plates, two small plates, and two cups. The Doctor cautiously removed the tray and brought it over to Rob. She sat beside him.

The two large plates held what looked like roasted potato and various vegetables, the small plates each had a few slices of bread with cream coloured crusts. He took up one of the cups, the liquid inside was a translucent amber.

“Barley tea,” said the Doctor. She took a sip from her own cup and made a face. “Or that's what I asked for. This is more like . . . lemonade. But sweeter.”

Rob took a sip and recoiled. “'Tis sweeter than honey . . . And somehow repulsive.”

The Doctor took a bite of the bread and nearly choked on it, coughing heavily. Rob instinctively put a hand on her shoulder.

“I'm—I'm all right,” she said, sitting up and rubbing her throat. “It's like the ingredients of a thousand bargain birthday cakes condensed into one. But it seems meant to pass for ordinary bread.”

This was not an encouraging commendation but Rob had eaten nothing but small morsels of mouldy bread for two days. He hastily crammed two slices of the bread into his mouth. The thick, eggy sweetness seemed to permeate the back of his tongue while it also burned his nostrils. But he worked it down slowly while the Doctor watched, fascinated. He started on the potato which was like lumps of sugar and burnt cocoanut.

He felt a little embarrassed, slowly but steadily chewing the mass in his mouth while this beautiful, elegant, and weird woman stared at him. But he was so hungry.

“We need to get you some real food,” she said in a resolute tone, standing up. “Good thing I took this from my coat.” She produced the sonic screwdriver from her skirt pocket.

Just as quickly, though, she put it back in her pocket as they both now heard two pairs of footsteps approaching. Soon, on the other side of their cell's forcefield, there appeared Inspector Marwat and the old man from the power station. The Inspector seemed annoyed and the old man looked uncomfortable, faintly embarrassed, and angry.

“Hello!” said the Doctor. “Nice to see you again. How are things at the power station, all running smoothly? And how's your leg? I'm the Doctor, by the way, I don't think we were introduced.”

“You have a lot of nerve,” said Marwat.

“My name's William, William Hayashibana. The reactor is back to normal levels,” he said grudgingly. “And my leg is fine.”

There was an uncomfortable silence finally broken by the Doctor who said, “You're welcome.”

William peered at her, searching her countenance and big, round eyes which were open wide, suggesting a weird mixture of intense interest and placid equanimity.

“Maybe this is all some kind of game to you,” said Marwat, sarcastically. “But poisoning the implants is worse than killing people. You're effectively trapping them in a living Hell.”

“Hmm,” the Doctor frowned and put a hand on her chin, leaning her head down thoughtfully.

“I don't know what kind of people you are or where you came from,” said William, slowly building steam as he spoke. “I don't think you're Wanters. But you don't understand. We Aeons, when we're children, we're helpless. We don't know anything. But when I was ten I knew I wanted to be an engineer. So I got the data installed to me and that's who I become. You know what would've happened otherwise?”

“Years of schooling?” asked the Doctor.

“Maybe! Or maybe I'd have failed the first or second test required to advance to the next level. And then where would I be? Who would I be?”

“Good question!” the Doctor grinned at Rob who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

William nodded, “That's what I thought. You don't understand. I'm an old man now. I have a long career to look back on and I can feel pride in the things I've accomplished. Optimising the north east turbine . . . Repairing the . . .” he struggled for words. “the—the” he held his hands up, as though trying to grasp something before letting both fall back to his sides. “So maybe, what's left of my mind after the poison, it can't . . .” he took a breath. This was clearly not something he'd had the courage to say aloud before. “Maybe I can't do the things I used to. Maybe I don't . . . know what I used to. But I'm seventy-two years old. I've had a good long career. What you did to me is cruel.” He fixed a stare on her. “But if you do it to my son, or a kid just starting out, that's . . . evil. I can't think of a better word for it.”

The Doctor now employed a very cautious, gentle tone. “Have you considered the possibility that the implants weren't poisoned but are simply malfunctioning on their own?”

Inspector Marwat groaned in disgust and William frowned at her.

“How long have you been using the implants?” asked the Doctor.

“A long time . . .” William said helplessly, looking at Marwat.

“Hundreds of years ago, the first Aeons made the data cloud,” said the inspector impatiently. “They put it together and created it to make us whole.”

The Doctor leaned forward, tilting her head slightly. “Yes, and?”

Inspector Marwat looked baffled, “That's it. That's how it happened. Look, I need to take you two to the interrogation room.” She punched in a code and William stepped aside.

The Doctor shrugged and Rob stood up. They followed the Inspector and William down the corridor.

“Much of what you say is well beyond my ken,” said Rob. “But I consider myself a seaman. I collect the wages of an able seaman when pay's not in arrears, which it too often is. But I came to be so not for my childhood fancy but years on a soggy wharf, building callouses as a young lad carrying tackle or learning to tie knots.” They started to pass through the forcefields and Marwat began inputting codes. Judy was already visible waiting for them at the junction. “There were years when I was the lad who could barely tie a bowline.” Rob continued. “There were years when I was the lad who could splice two lines as neat as any fine lady's embroidery. It's not simply being able to do that makes me me. It's all the years before. If I didn't go through those years, well . . .” He scratched his head. “Might be I wouldn't be so understanding to them what was still learning.”

“Haven't you noticed that you're frightened all the time?” said the Doctor, gently. “In ways the Wanters don't seem to be?”

“The Wanters are ignorant and repressed,” said Marwat flatly.

They came now to Judy who was standing there, staring at them with an odd smile on her face.

“Still here, Judy?” said the inspector tiredly.

“Ah, yes,” she said quickly. She was blinking rapidly.

“Wait,” said the Doctor but the inspector was already inputting a code in the nearby panel. Judy's hand went to her corresponding panel to punch in precisely the same code at precisely the same time. But her hand moved too slow and then too fast as she tried to catch up.

“Judy!” cried the inspector.

Judy screamed and clutched at her helmet, backing away. The lights went out and then the white illumination was replaced by a dim red causing Rob to strain his eyes. A high pitched horn sound now repeatedly pealed throughout the corridors.

The Doctor now pushed the inspector aside and raised her sonic screwdriver to the panel. The forcefield went down but the light stayed red and the alarm continued to sound.

“How did you do that?” said Inspector Marwat, angry and frightened. Judy slumped to the floor, against the wall, staring in terror at the opposite wall, her eyes rapidly moving side to side, searching.

“I think I can get us out of here,” said the Doctor. “We can talk about how later.”

“Doctor, this whole building will be filled with toxic gas within ten minutes,” said William. “Can you get us out of here before that?”

The Doctor raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. She looked back at the wall panel thoughtfully.

“Doctor?” said William insistently. “Doctor?!”


Ian Holm

Ian Holm, who died yesterday, is said to be best known for his roles in Lord of the Rings and Alien--Bilbo Baggins and Ash the android, respectively. Those are both great roles but barely the tip of the iceberg for one of the greatest, most ubiquitous actors of his generation. From the title role in King Lear to Lewis Carroll in Dreamchild, he could bring a vital interpretation to a lead role or, very frequently, elevate a film by his performance in a key supporting role.

In Terry Gilliam's 1985 masterpiece Brazil, Holm played the cowardly, bureaucratic boss of the film's protagonist, a conceited office worm yet in his way just as sinister as the psychotic Ash. Holm was great playing cold, or rather, someone who's mentally cracked in some way you can see in their eyes. Genuinely disturbing men.

Yet he was also capable of playing sweet, sometimes impressively melancholy men. His role as Lewis Carroll in 1985's Dreamchild (he appeared in six movies that year!) was echoed in 1998 by his performance as the White Knight opposite Kate Beckinsale's Alice in a TV production of Through the Looking Glass. It's hard to imagine an actor better conveying the timid and affectionate man who prefers the honest world of children to the nonsensical labyrinth of adult society.

And when he was younger, he offered a particularly energetic take on the role of Puck in my favourite film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the 1968 version with Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, and Judi Dench.

I'm bound to see him again, I'm sure, in the many films he made I've yet to see, and that's good to know.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Long Picture

This is an unfinished drawing I've been working on in the art club of the Japanese junior high school where I've been working as an assistant English teacher. "You like love," said one of the students, looking at it. I guess that's true. I'm posting it now because I'll probably immediately give it away to one of the students when I finish as I've done with previous drawings. It's really relaxing drawing in that club and it's nice to be able to pass on some basic knowledge about pencilling and inking, the kind of stuff artbooks are reluctant to divulge. Though a lot of the kids need no help from me, wow. The kinds of drawings I see, I couldn't have dreamed of producing when I was in junior high. A group of girls sit with me while I draw and one of them likes drawing highly detailed clockwork dolls. All her drawings look like they came right out of a professional manga.

She joked that her friend is famous and, since I can't use my Japanese (part of my job is to create situations where the kids are forced to use English), I had to forgo the opportunity to use a joke in Japanese I actually managed to formulate, that for all I knew, everyone at the school was famous behind all the masks. It's a strange new world. It's gotten so it's positively weird when I see someone's face. When I leave school, I see lots of kids without masks while they're exercising--after two kids in China died from wearing masks while exercising in the heat, policy has relaxed to allow kids to remove their masks while playing sports. It's almost shocking to see so many bare faces. I have this strange impulse to cry out, "What are you doing, everyone? Hide!"

I'm really not sure how much good any of the rules are, though, when the kids are constantly hugging and wrestling between classes. It's kind of silly watching their horseplay one minute and then two minutes later watching them observe rules requiring them not to pass papers to each other. Hopefully the virus doesn't get too widespread in Japan. How do I tell kids not to hug each other?

Here are some of my recent photos:

I think I saw one of the fabled "murder hornets". It was dead.

Twitter Sonnet #1365

A paper bed confused the back at night.
The ocean spoke of heavy water eyes.
The mammals turned as motion bubbles might.
The darkest depths desist on open skies.
The numbers held in mind were one to ten.
Beyond the teens the dice create a void.
The mountains came to seem a woody pen.
The island served a cake too long enjoyed.
A little water floods the sugar sea.
The desert throat reports a set of sounds.
Entire drums of honey move the bee.
Another buzz precedes the lunar rounds.
The endless trunk contained forever leaves.
Resentful habit slights what thought achieves.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Murder Most Illogical

It's Columbo verses Spock in "A Stitch in Crime", a 1973 episode of Columbo. Well, Leonard Nimoy, anyway, two years before his I am Not Spock autobiography. In 1973 he was still playing Spock in animated form but the murderous surgeon he plays here is indeed pretty far from the Vulcan science officer. It's a good episode though more for Peter Falk than Nimoy.

An especially dishevelled Columbo shows up to the crime scene with a hard boiled egg, asking if there's any coffee. He explains to suspects and witnesses throughout the episode how he hasn't had much sleep. The effect is sort of like Super Columbo, it's pretty charming, especially when he loses his temper at Nimoy who seems to outright taunt him at one point.

Anne Francis, who'd appeared in the season one episode "Short Fuse", returns as a different character, the murder victim who spots Nimoy's attempt kill another victim by using temporary suture instead of permanent suture in a heart surgery. Pretty clever, really.

Columbo is available on Amazon Prime with commercials.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Badness of the Timing

So here we are, the infamously premature final episode of Farscape. In some ways, a decent enough episode that returns to some aspects of the show largely absent from the fourth season, but, at the same time, it feels oddly rushed in places and some characters make oddly abrupt decisions.

Season Four, Episode Twenty Two: Bad Timing

Having accidentally mentioned birds of paradise are plentiful on Earth, Crichton (Ben Browder) now has to race against the Scarrans, who ingest the plant to prevent themselves from intellectually devolving. Who'd have thought birds of paradise would be so hard to synthesise.

But the episode begins with Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) and Sikozu (Raelee Hill) being expelled from Moya because Braca (David Franklin) has shown up with the Peacekeeper command carrier he's seized from Grayza. This leads to a couple sweet moments between Scorpius and Sikozu dining on the big Peacekeeper ship.

There's no time for Grayza to appear in this episode, though, or for Stark (Paul Goddard) to comment on Scorpius being there in the first place. Stark feels very hastily written in the episode as Pilot's (Lani Tupu) helper. I sense a lot of hasty rewriting was going on--it made sense when he was torturing Scorpius, it made no sense that he was a bioloid. Why would the Scarrans bother making a bioloid of Stark anyway?

The episode doesn't even have time to show Pilot in a transport pod navigating a wormhole, having been temporarily removed from Moya to perform a risky wormhole popping stunt Crichton has contrived. But we do get the nice scene of Crichton on the moon, bidding farewell to his father.

More bittersweet is Crichton and Aeryn (Claudia Black) on the boat, meeting what looks like their ultimate fate at the hands of a very impressive animatronic alien.

The episode also features Chiana (Gigi Edgley) finally using her power vision again, though, sadly, it's to be rendered permanently (for now) blind.

Fortunately, this isn't, of course, really the end of the series. A miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, follows. It is the end of the fourth season, in many ways the most generic season of the series. The relationship plot between Crichton and Aeryn revolves around her pregnancy and the identity of the father, the kind of story that would seem more at home on a soap opera. And it's delivered unevenly, from the traumatic and serious events around Aeryn's capture and torture, to the coy evasions of the subject in some scenes. The makeup and effects, however, are certainly at their strongest with the Scarrans in particular benefiting from redesigns in both wardrobe and makeup. Lacking the absorbing drama of season three and the adventurousness of the first two seasons, it's still pretty frelling good.

. . .

Farscape is available now on Amazon Prime.

This entry is part of a series I'm writing on Farscape for the show's 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show's creators rather than the broadcast order):

Season One:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.
Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis
Episode 4: Throne for a Loss
Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future
Episode 6: Thank God It's Friday Again
Episode 7: PK Tech Girl
Episode 8: That Old Black Magic
Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist
Episode 10: They've Got a Secret
Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear
Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue
Episode 13: The Flax
Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton
Episode 15: Durka Returns
Episode 16: A Human Reaction
Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass
Episode 18: A Bug's Life
Episode 19: Nerve
Episode 20: The Hidden Memory
Episode 21: Bone to be Wild
Episode 22: Family Ties

Season Two:

Episode 1: Mind the Baby
Episode 2: Vitas Mortis
Episode 3: Taking the Stone
Episode 4: Crackers Don't Matter
Episode 5: Picture If You Will
Episode 6: The Way We Weren't
Episode 7: Home on the Remains
Episode 8: Dream a Little Dream
Episode 9: Out of Their Minds
Episode 10: My Three Crichtons
Episode 11: Look at the Princess, Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Episode 12: Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think
Episode 13: Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton
Episode 14: Beware of Dog
Episode 15: Won't Get Fooled Again
Episode 16: The Locket
Episode 17: The Ugly Truth
Episode 18: A Clockwork Nebari
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy

Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would'a, Could'a, Should'a
Episode 4: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel
Episode 5: . . . Different Destinations
Episode 6: Eat Me
Episode 7: Thanks for Sharing
Episode 8: Green Eyed Monster
Episode 9: Losing Time
Episode 10: Relativity
Episode 11: Incubator
Episode 12: Meltdown
Episode 13: Scratch 'n Sniff
Episode 14: Infinite Possibilities, Part I: Daedalus Demands
Episode 15: Infinite Possibilities, Part II: Icarus Abides
Episode 16: Revenging Angel
Episode 17: The Choice
Episode 18: Fractures
Episode 19: I-Yensch, You-Yensch
Episode 20: Into the Lion's Den, Part I: Lambs to the Slaughter
Episode 21: Into the Lion's Den, Part II: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Episode 22: A Dog with Two Bones

Season Four

Episode 1: Crichton Kicks
Episode 2: What was Lost, Part I: Sacrifice
Episode 3: What was Lost, Part II: Resurrection
Episode 4: Lava's a Many Splendoured Thing
Episode 5: Promises
Episode 6: Natural Election
Episode 7: John Quixote
Episode 8: I Shrink Therefore I Am
Episode 9: A Prefect Murder
Episode 10: Coup by Clam
Episode 11: Unrealised Reality
Episode 12: Kansas
Episode 13: Terra Firma
Episode 14: Twice Shy
Episode 15: Mental as Anything
Episode 16: Bringing Home the Beacon
Episode 17: A Constellation of Doubt
Episode 18: Prayer
Episode 19: We're So Screwed: Fetal Attraction
Episode 20: We're So Screwed, Part II: Hot to Katratzi
Episode 21: We're So Screwed, Part III: La Bomba