THE LIBRARIANS was the series follow-up to the two TV movies starring Noah Wylie as the guardian of a Warehouse 13-type library keeping dangerous magic locked up. In the opening episode, villainous Matt Frewer cuts off access to the library, forcing Wylie to recruit a new guardian (Rebecca Romjin) and three apprentices to continue the work. This was a fun fantasy series—I hope it gets renewed.
SAMURAI JACK is of course the fantasy ‘toon in which the warrior of the title criss-crosses the world of the far future seeking to find a way back to the past when Earth’s demonic ruler Aku will be weak enough to destroy. This is an excellent series with enjoyably stylized animation, though I was disappointed this didn’t finish up the on-going battle (I doubt the announced revival series will do it either) and didn’t even end on a good note (the episode “Jack vs. Aku” would have been a better choice). Still, great fun to watch (Cartoon Network’s odd scheduling led to me missing most of this on first-run). All rights to image with current holder. “That pillar didn’t fall by itself.”
OCCULT ACADEMY (2010) was an anime series in the “time travel to defeat alien invasion before it happens” subgenre: one of the protagonists goes back from 2012 to 1999, when the King of Terror will appear at the eponymous private school and begin the enslavement of humanity. This was OK as a series, but with a spectacular finish. “If you sleep right after you eat, you’ll fall into a coma!”
WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS (1960) is a Japanese drama focusing on an aging bar hostess who’s worried that after years of drawing the line, she’ll have to become a rich guy’s mistress to stay solvent. Low-key, almost slice-of-life; I’m inclined to suggest a double bill with Requiem for a Heavyweight for another professional compromising as he ages. “Bars in the daylight are like women without makeup.”
THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman, is more a general guide to basic writing errors (non-standard manuscript formats, overuse of adjectives, sloppy punctuation, poor proofreading). Perfectly competent, but nothing that isn’t available in other writing books (though if you haven’t read them, this one certainly isn’t any worse).
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE gives me fresh respect for Rowling’s skill. There are lots of good bits here, from the discovery of the first of the sinister Horcruxes to the flashbacks to Voldemort’s use—and given that most of them aren’t telling me anything I needed to know or even really new info (Voldemort was evil from the get-go, but Chamber of Secrets showed that), I’m impressed how riveting I found them. And Dumbledore really is a great character, quite believable even when he’s staring down a mob of Death-Eaters. Good job, Ms. R.
THE END TIMES OF BRAM AND BEN by James Asmus, Jim Festante and Rem Broo annoyed me at the start by having Catholics talk about the Rapture as something they’d learn in Sunday school (it’s not a Catholic belief, or even a universal Protestant one—it’s some Protestants’ interpretation of the Bible, nothing more). However once it got going, the story of the two twentysomething protagonists trying to make the most of the End Times (“I’ll be a third-party candidate for Antichrist!”) was a lot of fun. Could have used more female characters, but fun.