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The February Films (review) February 28, 2006

Posted by Tim in Reviews.

See You, Space Cowboy

Cowboy Bebop is a “space-western” set in the year 2071 . Humans have colonized the solar system, terraforming Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. Enforcing the law in the vastness of space is impossible, so it falls to “space cowboys” (bounty hunters) to track down criminals and turn them in to claim their reward.

The Bebop is a ship owned by ex-policeman-turned-cowboy Jet Black, who travels the galaxy with his partner, the charismatic ex-mobster Spike Spiegal. Early in the series they pick up Faye Valentine, a selfish and cynical woman who regularly makes off with their earnings; Ed, a young hacker who has a very odd take on life; and Ein, a corgi with human-like intelligence.

Unlike other series there is barely a “main” plotline. The 26 “sessions” of Cowboy Bebop revolve around the individual agendas and histories of the crew. It’s the deep character development that makes this show memorable, coupled with the enchanting film noir style.

House, MD

House MD is doubtless one of the most engaging drama series ever shown on TV. Dr. Gregory House suffers chronic pain due to a misdiagnosed thigh infarction that also left him a cripple – and very miserable. He’s eccentric, cynical, misanthropic; but also brilliant. Modelled after the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, House and his team of diagnosticians take on difficult cases which have stumped everyone else.

House’s take on life is what keeps you coming back every episode. The show may be formulaic, and House always abusive, but you can never manage to predict what he says.

House: You have a parasite.
Woman: Can you do anything about it?
House: Only for about a month or so. After that it becomes illegal to remove — except in a couple of states.
Woman: Illegal?
House: Don’t worry. Many women learn to embrace this parasite.

Oh yes, he does have a heart of gold beneath all that, but he’s not going to let you know.

The show itself addresses many ethical issues (all medical dramas do), particularly on the tendency of people to lie – “Everybody lies” being House’s catchphrase. But it does bring out the shades of gray in many issues and makes you think.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could have been a great movie. It’s based on a series of sci-fi comedy books of the same name. It starts off with dolphins heralding the end of the world with the song So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish! Then we have Arthur Dent, a geeky Englishman who finds out his friend Ford Prefect is actually an alien. Ford saves him from sharing the fate of Earth, which is vapourized by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspace interstate. “There’s no point acting all surprised about it, the plans and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning office in Alpha Centauri for 50 Earth years.”

Ford is also in the process of writing a handbook of the galaxy, hilarious excerpts of which are occasionally read out. They meet Trillian, the only other surviving Earthling; Zaphod, part-time President of the Galaxy; and Marvin, a manically-depressed robot.

It turns out that long ago the ultimate computer, Deep Thought, was built to answer the the meaning of life, the universe and everything. When the Ultimate Answer was returned: “42”, it was realised that its creators had neglected to define the Ultimate Question.

Oh it could have been so much fun. But in a dastardly demonstration of Hollywoodism we are treated instead to Arthur’s infatuation with Trillian and the story devolves into a cliched romance. Although admittedly, being an endangered species might alter one’s priorities in life…



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