CRRRRS 516 You Wouldn't Believe

By Roy Mathur, on 2023-12-19, at 23:56:53--01:00:30 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show

A Welcome Distraction

We are still without a car, plumbing problems persist and, of course, I'm still suffering from the flu-like illness that stuck my family, I've been put on a FODMAP diet for my IBS and, like many in the UK, I've suddenly found myself without a dentist.

My dastardly dentist removed me from their NHS patient list without warning because NHS patients aren't profitable. They have since said that the practice is going entirely private, which means, of course, revised, i.e. more expensive, treatment for all. While we are all entitled to subsidised NHS priced treatment in the UK---it says so right there on the NHS website---try finding a local dentist accepting NHS patients, again, right there on the NHS's own website. Kafka help me.

Thank god for the distraction of podcasting.

The Creator

Gareth Edwards' (Monster, Godzilla, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) latest 2023 film flips the script on Terminator, with Americans playing the part of robot-hating genocidal maniacs. Co-stars the beautifully type-casted and beautiful Emma Chan of Channel 4's Humans (2015--2018), who plays the rebel daughter of a brilliant roboticist. Surprisingly, this delightful diatribe of anti-Americanism is entirely produced by Western companies and released 20th Century Studios, with not hint of Chinese money.

Americans persecute robots after falsely blaming robokind for nuking an American city. Into this World War 3 global theatre, Nazi-like American Special Forces attempt to track down and murder the ultimate weapon; a robot child created by robo-loving New Asia. (Where exactly is that?) Ex-Special Forces spy switches sides and protects the golden child, until the dastardly Americans can be stopped from blowing the crap out of everything they don't like because, as they say, "It's not real, it's just programming."

A fairly average, though good-looking film, where it is impossible not to take the side of the robots against the nasty Americans. What a refreshing and realistic change. Stop whining, America, you had it a long time coming.

Mayfair Witches

Anne Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, adapted for screen, and available from 2023 on AMC and BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Young powerful psychic struggles to control her powers, while various forces seek to protect, control, or possess her.

The story tells too much too soon, thus spoiling the mystery. Central is a supposedly seductive demon, who, I'm sorry, but isn't that much of a handsome devil. It's a pity, as I like the idea, the lead, Alexandra Daddario, is lovely, and anything by Anne Rice usually appeals to me.

Platform 7

ITVX 2023 supernatural thriller about ghost trying to solve the mystery of her death on platform 7 of a train station.

Engaging, then engrossing, but traumatic, as it morphs into a tale of unseen abuse. Jasmine Jobson is otherworldly in the starring role and Phil Davis does his usual creepy turn.

Ray Badbury Theater: The Town Where No One Got Off

Written and introduced by prolific cult genre Ray Bradbury and directed by Don McBrearty. This was episode 4 of season 4 broadcast on 22nd February 1986 on the USA Network. It is currently available free in the UK on Roku alongside all the other episodes of the show.

An idealistic, but unsuccessful author, Jeff Goldblum, is baited by a fellow passenger into getting off at what he believes to be an idyllic rural town. Instead of the pastoral, he finds a miserable unfriendly town and a man stalking him in the hope of finding the perfect murder victim. The author turns the tables, saying that he too got off here hoping to find someone to kill.

I can't see how this would work. A stranger in a strange town might not be missed locally, but would hardly be inconspicuous and would stick out like a sore thumb. It's a gaping plot hole that you could drive a locomotive through. Slightly creepy, though typically of most Ray Bradbury stories, it relies more on poetic prose than plot. Jeff Goldblum resembles Seth Brundle of The Fly released later that year.

The series is better-than-average TV, with many well-written stories starring renowned actors.

Doctor Who's Bi-Generation

Bigeneration has gone up and down the timeline making all the Doctor's regenerations bigenerations according to Russell T. Davies on the commentary version of The Giggle. If that's true, it's a pointless way of creating an MCU-style multiverse of Doctors because he's a time traveller. We've seen his timelines cross before, without the contrivance of the bigeneration device. (I hope to god, "bigeneration" not a word that will end up in the OED).

Maybe this is just RTD excitedly trotting out lot of nonsense off the top of his head, even though he doesn't strike me as frivolous.

I don't know what to make of it, other than I'm glad I'm not a New Who podcaster. I'm happy to stick with being a classic Old Who podcaster and let everyone else argue over the latest New Who controversy. I sincerely do hope, however, that Ncuti get's a fairer shot than Jodie. It would be a pity to repeat the same mistakes.

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities: Graveyard Rats

Last year, in 464, I talked about Guillermo del Toro's schlocky Netflix TV show, but I wasn't very nice about it.

On seeing the second episode---replete with graverobbers, rats, and even more gore and hidden ritualistic horror---I've changed my mind. I've come to appreciate it, rather than denigrate it, "as a vehicle for the well-executed grand guignol endpiece".

The Killer

David Fincher's (Alien 3, Se7en, The Game) 2023 violent comic book Netflix adaptation about a hitman on the lam.

Being an elite killer isn't all it's cracked up to be. You see, after enjoying all the blood money and murder addiction, you can still cock up and compel the bad guys to come after your family.

Michael Fassbender impressively, though pointlessly, method acts the perfectly banal assassin. He dresses like an anonymous German tourist and each day does Yoga and eats exactly 10 grams of yummy Mc'protein for less than one Euro.

The VO makes his philosophy seem deeper than it is. The close quarters combat isn't bad, though it is noticeable that, like in Nobody and John Wick, the young big beastly man waits for the older star to hit him.

Mr. Monk's Last Case

Monk, the detective show created by Andy Breckman and starring Tony Shalhoub for the USA Network from 2002 to 2009, returned for a Peacock TV movie in 2023.

Monk pauses in his plan to commit suicide to investigate the death of Trudie's daughter's fiance, an investigative journalist about to expose a billionaire as a murderer.

The murderer is a thinly veiled caricature of Jeff Bezos, but, stingingly, with some actual engineering talent unlike Bezos. I found the movie simply an extended version of a typical episode, though as a fan of the show, I enjoyed it.

I love Monk. To some extent, I identify with his many issues. To see someone weakened, but not bowed, and excelling is empowering. Mix comedy and great characters into a Columbo-like howdunnit cosy, and watching Monk is non-drug therapy for me.


In 402, I reviewed season one about murder aboard a submarine. Season 2 of the BBC technothriller is out and I gave it a quick glance.

The theme of out-of-control killer drones was topical and mildly interesting and the beginning scene was right out of Blue Thunder.

Slow Horses

I thought I'd give the much-lauded Gary Oldman spy thriller on Apple TV+ a try.

In 2022's season 1 we see a young MI5 officer cock up the simulated arrest of a suicide bomber at Stansted, and then is assigned to a department for MI5 failures. Thereupon, he and his second-rate spies are drawn into a far-right terror plot and Soviet era illegals in season two.

The premise is ridiculous. I don't how MI5 works, but as an ex-civil servant myself, I know for a fact there's room enough for incompetence within the civil service, without the need to invent a special office for no-hopers. However, I enjoyed the rumpled suits, fag-ends, and booze of Gary Oldman's hygienically challenged working class Smiley-lite, less so the slick action of Spooks, and the overall stupidity of any government-run operation struck a familiar chord.


Like a lot nerds in the UK, I enjoy science and technology shows. I have followed shows like the BBC's Tomorrow's World and Click, and Channel 5's The Gadget Show.

Added to the BBC roster is Click's Paul Carter's TechXplore. Three episodes have been released so far, exploring tech throughout the world.

After the fiasco of COP28, the series' globe-trotting positivity and heavy focus on green tech appeals to me.

Voyage to Mars: The Longest Goodbye

Ido Mizrahy's 2023 documentary explores how astronauts will cope with extended absence from home and confinement on an a mission to Mars. NASA Human Factors department psychologist, other experts, and astronauts talk experiences, simulation, robots, hibernation, etc. I was particularly taken with the robot Cimon (Crew Interactive Mobile companion), who runs Ubuntu and IBM Watson NLP.

Fascinating, though I wonder if typical astronauts---well-adjusted family-type high-flying team-players---are ideal candidates for long missions and solitude. Shouldn't we be selecting loners? See Larry Niven's individualistic Belter Singleship asteroid miners and pilots.

Smart CIty RObotic Challenge

A few years ago, I gave a largely unfavourable review of the annual event, saying that the participants did little to engage my city, while holding the competition in a very public place. Frankly, I felt a little excluded by the international event.

Back in September this year the event was held here again. As I walked towards the display area, I was immediately approached by, I think, the same chap I spoke to last time, and was warmly greeted and inundated with useful information. There were also more outward-facing display stands and participants actively interacted with the public. The changes were remarkable. I don't know whether my negative comments were noted and had an affect, but I appreciated the new approach.

Thirty-Three Percent

Thanks to that flu-thing, I'm still only about 33% Roy (which isn't saying much to begin with), so writing the shownotes was difficult, but I'm determined not to let the universal seasonal buggeration get me down. In fact, you wouldn't believe what I went through to redirect my more miserable content to NUL in this episode.

The functional 33% of Roy has taken a hard look at the other 77% and found it wanting. My illness has made me reconsider this show and you will see a change in content and tone over the next few weeks.

Generally speaking, this podcast comes in two flavours. Though I haven't stuck strictly to my own guidelines, these are the two formats I try to stick to.

The first and original is a magazine-style show casually reviewing science fiction, fantasy, and horror media.

The second is a more focused and detailed review or vintage media revisit of a single item of SFFH media.

The most important change is that I want to cheer myself and my listeners people up, not send us all scurrying for therapy. That is the reason for the change in tone from tonight. Don't think of it as artificial, but an effort to be the person I genuinely am, not the Grinch lurking in the background. Begone, Grinch!

NB I used to include time sensitive news, but I have moved mostly to evergreen content. I have also tweaked the opening and closing audio metadata, making it more informative, and because Mauritians hate short goodbyes.

That also goes for Christmas, not just podcasting. Although I'm again behind with the kipple-shuffling and the Christmas preparations, Christmas will happen at Castle Royenstein and it will be good. This year Father Bluesmas (Santa's coole, but sadder brother) can get sage and onion stuffed.