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January 18th, 2005 No comments

I’m facing a bit of a time crunch this week after nearly six days away from the office. Last week’s Dish TV satellite receiver installation took about a full day longer than expected, so I was gone most of Thursday and Friday. We now have 120 channels, and, as you might expect, nothing’s on.

We also have a rather sizable dish bolted to the roof of our house, which Vic is not particularly thrilled about. She’d assumed that they’d be able to use the previous owner’s mounting post out by the shed, but as we were having two separate boxes (each with two receivers serving a total of four TVs) installed, we needed more wires and more room for a larger dish. Still, the dish is on the rear of the house, and isn’t even visible unless one is nearly on top of it.

Snarky jokes about “nothing on” aside, I’m loving this brave new digital world, particularly for a built-in TiVo-Like Device. (TiVo’s a brand name for what is unhelpfully known as a Personal Video Recorder, but as our box isn’t from TiVo, and because no one knows what I mean when I say “PVR,” I’ve resorted to “TiVo-Like Device.”) People have always told me that this is a life-changing piece of technology, and I have to admit that I agree. Once I figured out what I was doing, I’ve found it a breeze to operate and a delight to watch. The other night, while viewing The Simpsons live, I missed one of the throwaway sign gags and was able to simply rewind, freeze frame and restart the program, catching up during the next commercial break.

I was able to begin receiving the Sci-Fi Channel just in time for the series premiere of the “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica. With Deep Space Nine‘s Ronald D. Moore at the helm, Galactica already exhibits several of that previous space saga’s best features, including an emphasis on political and character development, as well as a nuanced view of villainy. It’s really good stuff; check it out.

For years, both Richard Hatch (not the Survivor nudist, but rather the actor who played the original “Apollo”) and Galactica creator Glen Larson had tried to launch their own revivals, but as neither owned the rights, these projects never happened. When the new series was finally announced, purists howled because it would not be a continuation with the surviving original cast, as Hatch had envisioned. How could it be any good, they railed, without Hatch, Dirk Benedict, etc.?

Here’s the thing. As much fondness as I have for the old show (and yes, I own the DVDs), I realized that it was something less than a success even back in ’78. Chock-full of plot holes, ridiculous science, bad hair and cheesy rip-offs (remember when Apollo played “Shane” against a gunslinging Cylon?), it had its moments, but even my 14-year-old self knew that it could be better. Now, thanks to a thoughtful reboot, it is. (And Richard Hatch, despite his initial bitching, is praising the new series these days. Not coincidentally, he appears as a guest star in two upcoming episodes!)

Tonight is the final dress rehearsal for The Phantom Tollbooth, which opens tomorrow at the Parkland College Theatre. I’d hoped to have a photo of myself in full Mathemagician garb posted here by now, but they’ve requested that we not take personal photos until a designated posing session next week. I can understand; this is a large cast with a lot of youngsters, and it could quickly become chaos if everyone was running around snapping photos. Besides, we have more important things to do right now. The show is coming together, but the pacing is still a tad slow. On the other hand, the funkadelic ’70s sets and costumes are amazingly fun, and I absolutely love my five-foot magic pencil! (The eraser is a dodgeball, so it bounces when I smack the floor with it.) I’m excited–and scared–about tomorrow night!