Symptom 104: Elysium - The Good Side of Town

We continue or exploration of the works of Neil Blomkamp with Elysium. You know, the movie that put a very fine point on the class struggle between the poor and ultra rich. The movie that came out when the term “the 1%” was just gaining steam. That movie. Well, while we all thought it would be a progressive left power fest, it was really just an action film. Yep. Just Matt Damon punching things into submission.

Oh wait, sarcasm font doesn’t exist. Yes, this is exactly what we thought it was. It is a progressive left tale of the woefully unbalanced distribution of wealth and power. How the rich can’t be arrested, have access to all the best health care while the poor are shuffled off to die or arrested on their way to work. There is an immigration commentary as well as a labor rights discussion. Unfortunately the movie is a shallow as a a puddle in a pothole and once you dive in your find the substance of a good, balanced discussion is missing. Unlike District 9 this one lacks depth of any kind. Maybe Chappie will be a little deeper?

For record, one of us really didn’t like this movie and might be writing the show notes. The other two felt it was ok/average and might not be writing the show notes.

****I apologize for the delay and for the audio issues this week. The delay was due to attempting to clean up the audio as much as possible. There is some distortion all throughout this recording due to latency. I recently purchased a new computer and the pairing with the interface wasn’t correctly done and it resulted in a latency/lag that i did not catch until after editing was being done and it could not be corrected. This will be fixed for Symptom 105***

Symptom 103: District Nine

We start Neil Blomkamp month with a review of District 9. Far more than just a sci-fi action move (which it is, and a good one) It is an interesting commentary on Apartheid but more than that the movie is an intriguing discussion on the cultural tribalism that prevails in humanity to this day. We still, at all levels divide groups into us and them, placing far for value on us than we do on “them”. There is also a sub message within this one that sometimes to find your humanity and compassion you have to lose your own identify, status and belonging with an “Us” group. District is a great piece of science fiction that is well paced, full of meaning and enjoyable, while being accessible to all.

Supplemental: The Top 14 Episodes of Star Trek

To conclude Trekkin into the New Year month I felt it was necessary to add a supplemental episodes that answered a couple questions:

  1. Why did I choose the four I did?

  2. What other episodes did I consider and why didn’t they make the cut?

As I started writing the supplemental episode it occurred to me that I might as rank the episodes that did not make the top four from 14 down to five. When originally figuring out the top four I didn’t rank these episodes, I did that in preparation for this supplement. In the original preparation I simply looked at an episode and said should it be considered for the top four that we will review on the podcast. These 14 episodes are the ones that were considered for the top four list. Of course this selection logic leads to another question and that is


Well, I answer that. At least I hope I did. You may not agree and that’s ok, because this is my list and no one else’s list.

I feel like there was one other question I needed to address in this list, but what was it? What could it be?

Oh yes, why didn’t City on the Edge of Forever make the cut? Well, in my opinion, it could just as easily be a great episode of the Outer Limits with almost no changes and three other actors playing the parts written for Bones, Spock and Kirk as different characters. If that can happen, is it really essential Trek or the best of Trek? The best of Trek should have a uniqueness to Trek and City just doesn’t feel unique to Star Trek.

Symptom 102: The Corbomite Manuever

We finish off Trekkin’ into the New Year with The Corbomite Maneuver. It is talky. It is slow. It is cheesy. It also represents the very best of what Star Trek has to say about humanities future. Don’t fear the unknown, embrace and often you will find that the unknown is not frightening. Don’t fear other cultures because often you have more in common than you think. Be who you say are not only when it is easy to be that person, but be the person you claim to be one it is hardest to be that person. That is Star Trek in a nutshell and it is wonderful. For these reasons and more this is in my mind (Scott) the very best Star Trek has to offer.

Symptom 101: Balance of Terror

Trekking into the new year leaves behind the faster, more fun filled romps like Mirror Mirror and Doomsday Machine this week and looks at Balance of Terror. This is simply one of the best episodes in the entire franchise. It speaks to the core of the Roddenberry ideal, that we aren’t all that different if we take the time to look past fear and prejudice. Balance of Terror also examines war from the perspective of the individuals who fight it and its impact on them. This episode is Kirk at his finest, it is Star Trek in one of it’s best hours and an all around excellent piece of science fiction - even if sound doesn’t travel through space and space warfare would not be like submarine warfare.

Symptom 100: The Doomsday Machine

100 Episodes in. Thank you to anyone who has listened to this podcast. For our 100th episode what better than a review of one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek - The Doomsday Machine. This one has it all, a message about the socio-political climate of the 1960’s, action, space combat, great acting by the primary cast and the guest stars and an early treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. Sure, in the 1960’s they didn’t fully understand and that rings through but today, more than 50 years later, the episode works as a discussion on the effects of trauma on the human psyche. This episode holds up well over the test of time, in terms of story, acting and visually. Doomsday Machine - simply an example of Star Trek at it very best.

Symptom 99: Mirror Mirror

Finally, 99 episodes in and we finally dedicate a month to my favorite franchise - Star Trek. January is Trekkin into the new year in which we review my favorite episodes of The Original Series. We kick off Trekkin into the new year by reviewing Mirror Mirror, the episode that brought you evil Spock with a beard. This episode make the list because it is culturally iconic, is an example of excellent acting by the main cast, a solid script, good action and a story that encapsulates the Roddenberry ideal. All in all it is a great piece of science fiction.

Symptom 98: Bits and Pieces

We wrap up 2018, or I guess start 2019 with a free from show where we revisit old topics, add to or amend our prior positions on things, or just hit topics we really didn’t throughout the year. In this weeks show we hit on:

  1. Walter Peck in Ghostbusters - was he REALLY the villain?

  2. Why Ragemaster doesn’t want a sequel for The Thing from The Things perspective, and why Scott does

  3. Star Trek Discovery

  4. The failure of DC’s movies

  5. Stranger Things Season 3

  6. How Disney nearly killed Star Wars

Symptom 97: Welcome To The Party Pal

Merry Christmas from Sci-Fi Malady!

This week, its not really a Sci-Fi Malady as we review a decidedly non science fiction movie - the greatest Christmas movie ever - Die Hard.

I know, I know, this is a science fiction show, why are you reviewing Die Hard. Well, because it is Christmas and I wanted to. Next week we are back to sci-fi, but for this week, yipee kai yay sickies and shoot the glass. Somehow, this movie is the first and only movie we all gave a 10.

Symptom 96: Robert Downey Jr's First Sci-Fi Movie Is Weird

Do you remember the 80’s? If you do then you will love Weird Science. If you don’t physically remember the 80’s by living through them you will be horrified by the casual objectifying of women, writer’s thinking its ok for two 15 year boys to create and living adult sex bot with I dream of Genie powers, and that Bill Paxton’s character opens doors with his shotgun, and he’s the responsible one.

This one really depends on when you were born. If you grew up in the 80’s its a fun coming of age, teenage party romp. If you grew up with cell phones, it is a monstrosity. I side with fun.

Symptom 94: Curse You Daily Motion, Curse You!

The topic this week was supposed to be Farscape. It was supposed to be that. Unfortunately it wasn’t available on any streaming service or YouTube. It was available on Daily Motion, but unless you are an ad, Daily Motion won’t play you. So this show became a random show in which we briefly discuss why Daily Motion sucks, Farscape and then spend a lot of time on 4X grand strategy science fiction games for PC (and why PC gamers needs to be less arrogant). In particular we discuss Stellaris and Endless Space 2.

Today is a different show, maybe it was good and maybe it sucked. Back to regular scheduled programming next week with the start of Sickest Picks month.

Symptom 93: Andromeda - It's Not Star Trek

Fan service android month rolls on. Sorry, Sy-Fy network series month continues with Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. This series can be described simply as - unreached potential. Conceptually the scripts are excellent science fiction. The idea of a dystopian future in the wake of a collapsed Utopia is intriguing. One ship trying to restore the light of the fallen society is something that should have hooked everyone. It is ruined by horrible dialogue, terrible and uninspired acting and budget that makes it look like well done fan fiction. This series is intriguing, when it hits it hits well, but ultimately it needed a writing room that could re-write and punch up weaker dialogue and better camera work/direction to achieve all that it could have.

No Episode This Week

Due to complications (being unable to use Amazon Prime correctly, squirrels invading my home and Ragemaster becoming a homeowner) and the holiday, we were unable to get an episode produced. To add to that, my portable hard drive crash and I lost my stand scripted review of Star Trek IV. The result is a week off. We will return next week with the promised review of Andromeda.

Symptom 92: Dark Matter, It's A Sci-Fi Tossed Salad

We kick off SyFy Channel Series month by reviewing Firefly meets Star Trek TNG meets SG1 meets Dune…or by it’s actual name - Dark Matter. It is a series that has some well constructed plot lines, character advancement, decent acting and is overall enjoyable if in no way original or groundbreaking. Of course that means that the show was cancelled by SyFy for the amazing reason that it was not a SyFy original. Brilliant!

Dark Matter is a mish mash of sci-fi concepts and explores the concept of nature vs nurture, leaning somewhat toward the nature argument. It manages to be not only plot driven but character driven and only really suffers from SyFy’s less than adequate budget, which is why the Imperial Palace looks like someones nice basement, but aside from that, it is a decent show. Sham SyFy for cancelling it. Shame.

Symptom 91: This Movie Is Phantasmic

We conclude horror month by reviewing Don Coscarelli’s sci-fi horror masterpiece, Phantasm. This movie is a suspenseful fright fest which gives us The Tall Man, one of the most iconic villains ever. It is also more than that. The Tall Man is a stand in for death and the movie an evaluation of how we deal with death culturally. The reason Mike and Reggie can never defeat the Tall Man, except in their dreams, is that dreams are the only place death can be defeated. We discuss all of this, as well as some trivia about the movie and some good natured humorous nitpicking.

Symptom 90: What Is That Thing

We move away from horror films with bad CGI to a horror film with no CGI. It is John Carpenter’s The Thing, the one made in 1982. This movie has a little bit of everything, Kurt call me Snake Russell, Keith David, scientist shooting AR’s at a dog while hanging out of a helicopter in the arctic, scientists armed with flamethrowers, because, Dr. Wilford Brimley, oh, and a shape shifting alien that is either just trying to get home or kill all of humanity.

Symptom 89: Hypercube - Tesseract of Death!!!

Bad CGI month, um, I mean Horror Month as we review the Canadian Indy film and cult classic Cube 2 Hypercube. What is a Hypercube? It is a four dimensional death trap where time, gravity and the law of physics are random. If that wasn’t enough the cube if full of random death traps that make jigsaw squeamish. Why? No one knows. The government and super secret hacker boogeyman Alex Trusk built for…something and are experimenting on people by killing them for…reasons. Of course one of the subjects is a sleeper agent.

Spoiler - everybody dies.

Cube 2 is a weird and wild mind bleep. If you don’t mind it actually not having a resolution or making sense, it is an amazing sci-fi, horror, suspense survival drama that even bad CGI and a mystery box JJ Abrams would be ashamed of can ruin.

Symptom 88: The Langoliers Are Coming For You Balky

We kick off the 2nd annual horror sci-fi month with a review of Stephen King’s cult classic, The Langoliers. Stephen King movies are hit or miss. Some are great, like The Shining. Some are horrible, like the other Shining. And some, well, like this one, are just too long.

I loved this film as a kid. I like parts of it now. While its fun and has some interesting parts, it just does not hold up. The CGI is aged and bad. The acting, bad. The pacing, glacial. all that said, it is still worth a watch.