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The Fannish Life: So Much Television, So Little Time

Ann Morris clues you in to shows that have kept her up past bedtime

It goes without saying, or maybe it doesn’t since I’m saying it, that I watched the 2013 season of "Doctor Who."

While I was disappointed in the first few episodes, the series ended with some goodies and a big question that is now preying on the minds of all Who fans who’ve seen the last episode for this year.

I’d say give all the episodes a watch as Matt Smith does do a fine job as The Doctor, but expect to feel a bit let down at first. It will seem as though your questions about Clara will not be answered in this season but they will be — well, as much as any questions about The Doctor and those who have important places in his life ever are. I'm still hoping for more about The Doctor and the fabulous River Song.

Dare I use a pun? Of course I do. For a ripping good time, BBC America's "Ripper Street" is just the thing. Here is a show that has engaging characters, intriguing plots and wonderful production values. Everything about it is good. If I could find fault, it would only be that you must remember that nobody is safe from being killed off in British dramas and that isn’t really a fault, is it? It's merely a caveat.

The Victorian setting just past the time of the Jack the Ripper killings is amazingly complete and the costumes are impeccable.

The science in the show is based on real knowledge, but I think much of it would have to be classed as science-fiction when factoring in the time period of the program. I like it when the problem is solved by people using their brains.

I have been known to call "Ripper Street" "Steampunk CSI."

I don’t actually watch "CSI," but "Steampunk NCIS" hasn’t got the same ring to it.

A wonderful show that I found on Netflix is "Murdoch Mysteries." I’ve described this to some people as "Ripper Street" light. That isn't exactly fair though. For starters, it came on the scene in Canada long before "Ripper Street." What it shares with "Ripper Street" is that science is used to solve problems. There are serious situations but Victorian Toronto is not the seedy setting that is Victorian London. That, in itself, sets a lighter tone.

One of the things most fun about this show is the episodes in which our hero William Murdoch meets such famous figures as Nikola Tessla, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell and Jack London. He doesn’t meet all of them in the first season. They are sprinkled over the five seasons that have been produced so far.

Unfortunately, Netflix does not have all five seasons. I had to use an Amazon Prime trial membership to watch Season 4 without cost, and then I was so darn hooked that I had to cough up $29.95 to see the fifth one. If I pay for it when I already pay for premium cable channels and Netflix, you know I think it’s fantastic.

"Game of Thrones" continues to entertain me, and sometimes kind of gross me out. I was not expecting the Red Wedding. I haven’t read the books, so the show can surprise me quite often.

Jack Gleeson, who plays King Joffrey in the series, must be the best actor ever. I hate his character so much! I want Joffrey to die! Really, he’s horrible and you have to hate, hate, hate him.

As much as I hate King Joffrey, I love Tyrion Lanister. He is by no means a stranger to political intrigue, but he’s so interesting and in some ways moral, that you have to like him. So, I guess that Peter Dinklage must be another greatest actor ever. Despite the grammatical impossibility of there being more than one, in my world, there can be.

HBO knows this show is a good thing and we will be treated to a fourth season in 2014.

If you think "The Borgias" plays fast and loose with historical facts, you ain't seen nothing till you’ve seen "Da Vinci’s Demons." Starz has a winner. A second season has already been announced, so never fear that you'll be left in the lurch with a one season show. (Can we say "Firefly"?)

It’s hard to describe how they show you Leonardo Da Vinci's genius but they do it in a very interesting way. It's definitely science-fantasy if not science-fiction.

The sets and costumes are magnificent. For those fond of looking at handsome men, this is a treat. Trust me. There are some real lookers.

BBCA’s "Orphan Black" took a fairly common premise in having characters who’ve been cloned many times (the movie "Anna to the Infinite" comes to my mind) but does such good things with it that I was around for the whole season. The lead actress Tatiana Maslany does an extremely fine job of portraying the various cloned women. I've lost count of how many she's had to play, but there are four who have a big impact when season one ends.

I'll warn you, it has a nasty cliffhanger. Fortunately, this show has also announced it will return in 2014.

Another program that debuted this year and will be back in 2014 is Syfy’s "Defiance." I don't have anything to do with the game, so I can’t tell you about that platform, but I'm really enjoying the television show. It's got a kind of "Firefly" feel to it.

What it has that other show I just mentioned didn’t is some really good aliens. I'm enjoying watching this western town version of St. Louis after the Earth has been invaded by not one but eight different alien peoples. Main character Lawkeeper Nolan constantly has to deal with the problems of keeping peace among diverse populations. Even when it happens, it's not an easy peace.

This is a show I didn't expect to surprise me a lot, but darned if it hasn't done so several times. I like that.

"Falling Skies" has been a must for me for two seasons and the third has amped up the chills and thrills. It's definitely not about alien races getting along. We don’t know for certain who the good aliens are, if there are indeed any good aliens. I usually end up watching this show a day or so after it airs and I'm kind of glad to watch during daylight hours. It's one that can actually put the fear of what's next into me.

That slogan, "TNT Knows Drama" is sure not a lie when applied to "Falling Skies." There is suspense aplenty.

Well, girls and boys, it's been fun but it’s time for me to go see if I can get caught up watching what’s on my DVR. Wish me luck.

About the Author

Ann Morris imagined visiting other worlds and dimensions in her childhood play but didn't 'officially' begin living a fannish life till the early 1970s when she was a founding member of the Stone Hill Science Fiction Association in 1979 and remains active to this day. She lives in Plant City, Fla., where she writes from her geekosphere.
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