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YEAR FOUR HAS STARTED!

24 November 2007

Despite my telling you that Year Four would see the unwelcome, but beneficial change of pace to one page of August per week, you will obviously have been miffed that last Wednesday went without. I could have chosen either day -Wednesday or Saturday- as the preferred day of the week when an episode would be released, but weekends are always so much nicer to have good things happening in them. So Saturday it is!

As laid out before, the plans for the fourth year are simple. It is a return to the August of yore, with an emphasis on one-shot pages and silliness. At the same time, I hope to bring some level of character development to the cast that was lacking before. How I'll marry these two things; just leave that up to me. I'll figure something out.

To start things off on a good note; here's everyone's favourite type of rant: the Mini-reviews Corner! With games, books and television shows, this time around.

First off, I'm playing Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the DS and it's great. Even though some design choices are iffy (a temple where you have to repeat sections over and over again which also entails a tedious bit dragging keys around), as a whole the game is extremely enjoyable and atmospheric. There's so much love in this game, and it's amazing to see how much graphic quality and detailed animations they're able to squeeze out of the machine. I've nearly finished it and I hope there is a satisfying pay-off, and perhaps even an equally satisfying range of things to do after you finish the game. This is because the game employs some Pokémon-like gameplay where you can collect randomized pieces for your ship to create a custom design. I'd really like to catch 'em all, but having played through the entire narrative I have maybe only collected a third so far. So I hope the game's life is extended with some unlocked sidequests or daily quests so you can complete it without feeling like you're still hanging around at a party that ended hours ago.

I've got a few TV shows I'm watching currently. It needn't be said that I'm downloading House season 4 as soon as a new episode hits every week. It's insanely good. It's quite rare for a show to stay this fresh after three seasons. There are definitely some interesting developments with which the writers try to keep things vivid and it works brilliantly. The student team following House? Excellent. And the stories themselves are meaningful and funny. This is definitely one of the best shows ever. I've also just started watching Dexter, which is in its second season now -so it's quite a new show. Dexter's about a forensic expert who works with the police. His specialty is blood. But unbeknownst to his colleagues, he's also a serial killer; channelling his unstoppable urge to kill by hunting down people who are even worse murderers than him and so using his psychotic urges for 'good'. Apart from the series being well written so far, it surprises me how liberal and forward thinking they're handling the subject matter. Instead of condemning someone who's as sick as Dexter, they're showing a man who with the help of his father has overcome the morality of the issue and found some utilitarian use for it. I can't say where it'll go yet, but so far it's good.

One last show I'm watching (and will be for the coming months) is Babylon 5. I borrowed the huge boxset from friend Tom and am plowing my way through season 1 now. It has grown on me after the initial shock of seeing the first few episodes, which sported poor acting and facile writing. But it improves tremendously over a short time and now I'm hooked.

As far as books go; I've finished Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, am close to finishing The Collected Plays of Oscar Wilde (with the excellent The Importance of Being Earnest as closing performance) and will start shortly in Ayn Rand's dauntingly huge Atlas Shrugged. That'll take me a while to complete.

So, that's all! I will see you again next Saturday. If you've got anything to say; you know how to contact me.

Roderick.