Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nerd Rants -- Is it Okay to Nerd Rant?

Hey y'all.  I just wanted to address an issue I was pondering the other day.

Okay, so I'm apparently a nerd.  What makes me so?  I think about things no one else wonders about, and I try to be logical.  Neither of these things is particularly unique.  All most people have to do to be like this is just think and pay attention to the logical things around them for a good worldview.  It's not hard.  Yet still, I often find when I notice something contradictory in a movie or story, other people either don't see it or don't care.  I'm either called a nerd, or the person will go "wow, you're smart" and drop the subject.  Thanks for the compliment, but it hardly seems like a compliment when you ignore my observation immediately and talk about something else.  Maybe I said it because I want a dialogue, y'know.  Maybe.

Is it wrong of me to want to point out these things?  Yet it seems more and more common that the only people who even want to discuss these things with me are fellow nerds.  It's as if popular people can't be bothered with noticing details.  What the crap do popular people talk about these days?  I'm really mystified.  I can't stand popular music (I'm not really an undergrounder, it just sucks right at this moment) and I'm not interested enough in celebrities to talk about them.  I'm not boy crazy, so I don't spend all my days going on about them.  Seriously, someone tell me what popular people talk about.  Money?  Clothes?  Going on trips?

To me, the real stuff of life is history, science, and story.  It pisses me off to no end how much kids these days know about the intricacies of zombies (I met a kid that says he believes in them - no kidding!) and yet don't know bull about history.  History is a grand story about the world, with lots of topics and cultures.  It's a vast library of things that's happened, and you're bound to find a topic you're interested in.

I mostly bring this up because I was thinking about Red Letter Media's vast reviews of the three "Star Wars" prequels.  He seriously rips these movies to shreds.  Honestly, no movie deserves this more than the prequels.  I couldn't possibly have done a good job as Harry Plinkett in coming up why these movies suck.  When the second one came out, my brain was in such a fog of boredom that I couldn't possibly care enough to want to. Well, before I watched Plinkett's review, anyway.  I love listening to him rip them up.

At one point I found this forum where people have been going on about RLM, talking about his reviews and whether they liked them or not.  They were generally positive, but one cranky fellow said that RLM was doing nothing more than making nerdy nitpicks about why the movies stank and that the whole reviews are stupid.  I don't know what this guy was watching, but most of RLM's critiques are things like plot and character relatability, definitely the two most important parts of any story.

But anyway, my point is, is it just nerdy that RLM would even bother going through the trouble of pointing out all the various problems with these movies?  Was it all a wasted effort?  Now, if one wants to complain that RLM was too disgusting or his kidnap segments were beside the point, I won't argue with that.  I found much of it to be entertaining, but yeah, he did cross the line at several points.  For the moment I'm not talking about that aspect, just whether or not these were worth his time at a reviewing standpoint.

I honestly think they were.  RLM, by means of its fictitious Harry Plinkett, found a way to explain why the prequels failed at both a storytelling and cinematic level.  Watching them is actually educational when it comes to finding out how to write and film a movie.  RLM notices so many of the things that we all noticed subconsciously ("You might not have noticed it, but your brain did"), but could never put into words.  He puts together a compelling argument about the lack of ability George Lucas displayed in these movies.  As a nerd, I feel really justified that someone would take the time to point out things that are wrong in modern cinema that few other people seem to understand or care about.

Now, maybe he was compelling, and maybe he had a point.  However, at the end of the day, why was it necessary or helpful that he rant on and on about how bad the prequels were?  Are all the people that enjoyed these reviews huge nerds?

I've read a lot of C.S. Lewis, and apparently back in the day people liked discussing the things they read about in their schools, like Greek mythology and old histories.  I mean, I know Lewis was a nerd in the terms of his day (unsocial, uninterested in bland chit chat or parties), but at the same time, because the educational system was a lot stronger, people actually discussed things like history and literature.  Modern movies can't really compare, but at the same time, that's the age we live in.  These are the stories we have to go by now.  Why can't we talk about their details?

The first problem is that we don't have a frame of reference anymore.  I have the ability to nerd it up because I've read a lot of good books (the ones that came out 50+ years ago...seriously, check it out.  There's a real difference) and I have a sense of storytelling to some extent.  Red Letter Media can nerd it out because he has a good understanding of cinema and screenwriting, and unlike me can actually express these in a coherent manner.  I only sound logical now because I'm not talking to you in person -- I think in colors, not words.

But now?  Who knows these things?  Public schools focus on getting people through and passing tests, not making people want to learn.  If people don't want to learn, they won't choose to make educated choices in what they read and do.  Not everybody has to be history buffs, but dang, they can at least know who Madea, Eurypides, Cuthulain, Ananzi, and all them are.  It's to the point where we can't read books written a certain number of years ago because they make so many references to things the schools don't even try to make us interested in.

Notedly, I don't expect schools to teach us everything about everything, but the point of school is to teach the basics, namely reading, writing and math, then give us a desire to learn more and a good background to get a good job.  Kids these days come out of school and don't know where to go.  They don't have any practical knowledge.  Heck, some of them can't even read that, well.

My point is, it's good to nerd it out.  It's good to think about story this way.  Nothing makes me more sad than when someone says a movie is good because it's got giant robots fighting in it.  People talk a lot of crap about Transformers 2, but honestly the first was a pile of crap (other than the Mountain Dew robot).  You couldn't really expect anything from the sequel.  Even worse, people think that the Iron Man movie was good.  I seriously need to go RLM it, if Harry doesn't get to it before me.  So many fake characters, so many plot holes...and there's like no chick in it who isn't hot or otherwise in the prime of their attractiveness.  No nerds, none too old or too young, and none that can be respected on the merits of their mind or rank.  They're all a bunch of dang FS2s.

I understand people go to movies to relax, and I would do the same.  The trouble is, stupidity is not entertaining.  The only flashing lights I need to entertain me are actual flashing lights.  Those make more sense these days.

All that, basically to say a few things.
1. Saying it's nerdy to critique film is basically a slur.  What makes it a bad thing?  I understand if you don't particularly care about Star Wars, but to me RLM's reviews are good no matter what kind of story you like.  I like what it teaches about cinema.  You don't have to like Star Wars to understand that.

2. Just because you don't care about storytelling and think it's boring, that doesn't mean it's "nerdy" to care.  It just means you have different interests.  Conversely, it's not "ignorant" to not be interested in storytelling.  Granted, I wish people were, but there are other ways to be intelligent, not just in a literature sense.

3. Thinking about details rather than taking them for granted increases your brainpower.  Sure, maybe storytelling isn't your topic.  Still, when you learn to think of details in stories, you learn to think of them in history.  Also, you think of them when someone is just telling you something at the office, or when you're doing something observational in general.  If you don't care here, there's a chance you're not observant in other areas too.  Like I said before, you don't have to be a storytelling sort of person, but there is a point to all the nitpickery.

So yeah.  Wanted to rant.  Rant back at me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just an Announcement

Hey y'all.  As you've doubtlessly noticed, I haven't updated Hero of the Month for a while.  I'm pretty starved for inspiration on it right now.  I mean, I had some good ideas, but they weren't thought out completely and my muse is silent on the topic.  One of the things you have to do as a writer is figure out what you can and can't finish, and this is one of those things.  The whole deal with trying to do each story in the period of only one month for some reason was too irritating for me.

The next story I do up here, and I will do another one, will be one I feel a lot less limited on.  Crap, the only point I really felt inspired for was for Milyung, though I had a really great idea for August and October.  The trouble with that was, I have no clue what to do for June and July, and my plot point for May wasn't thought through well enough.  I honestly write better when I feel less time pressure.

Ha, which is why I'm so stressed right now.  Lol.  I'm trying to do a lot of cram writing for my Mega Man fanfiction for the month of May, as I want to start updating this story weekly up in June.  I want to have this more or less in editing phase by June so that I can work on something I do want to get published and make actual money from.  I gotta eat too.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Well, I've got at least one more Mega Man music review left, and that's mostly done.  I've also managed to put into words my intangible reason for disliking The King's Speech, and that'll be up sometime soon, as soon as I'm sure the Chinese government isn't messing around with my laptop (I'm on the parents' computer now).  No, seriously.  There was this program with Chinese figures on it running on my computer, and the last time I shut down my computer it said that other computers were logged into mine.  Seriously, computer people, tell me what the deal with that is.

I have another story idea, this one not really put into any timetable.  I find that it's easier for me to write for some reason the closer I am to my subconscious brain.  Consciously choosing to do a story is harder for me.  Unless this conscious idea has lots of subconscious backing, it's not gonna work.  In any case, this blog is not going to die, and hopefully I'll post more writer stuff as it goes along.  Establish something so I can actually have a real theme for this dang thing.

Anywhoo, talk to y'all later.  Bye!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nitpickery -- Science Fiction

Hey y'all.  I just wanted to get nerdy for a minute.   You know how everybody like to compare Star Wars and Star Trek?  I sort of disagree with this notion.  I mean, it's fun and nerdy and all to talk about which is better, but at the end of the day these two universes aren't really that comparable.  They serve two different purposes and reach two different audiences, similar though they might be.

So what's the deal with them being uncomparable?  Well, just think about it.  Here you have Star Trek, which is forever going on about the idealization of the future and how people should deal with moral conflict.  It includes a lot of technobabble and histories.  On the other side of the coin is Star Wars, which is about becoming a hero, following the story of adventurers, and awesome ship and laser sword battles.

They're really two different things.  If someone says they like Star Wars better, then this person is action oriented.  Star Trek?  Thought oriented.  Another difference between the two is their treatment of spirituality.  Wars sees the universe as very spiritual, and no matter how sciencey things get, there is always the mystical and magical Force that makes all the planets go round.  Trek tends to ignore spirituality, in one sense.  All myths are nothing more than myths, and while certain barbaric traditions are treated with respect (vulcan mating rituals, Klingon pain stick thing, bizarre bring-Spock-back-to-life ceremonies), no spiritual creature, god, or demon is treated as anything more than somebody's legend.  Even the Q are nothing more than superior beings that feel like they have the right to judge all lesser species for some reason.

I should like to point out that in saying "Star Wars", I am only referencing the three original movies.  I categorically deny any and all sequels to these three movies.  Go to youtube and search for Red Letter Media if you want to know why.  Actually, I really do like those old shows that had these Ewoks and little kids running around...haven't seen them in years.  I won't deny the existence of those, just the prequels and that animated thingermajigger.  Be aware.

Poor, poor Star Wars.  Brutally murdered by your own creator.  It really makes me wonder how much George Lucas actually did make the original ones.  I mean, in the prequels a lot of things went wrong.  None of the actors do a good job, you don't know who Darth Maul is or why he's fighting, the love story between Anakin and Padme sucks, the dialogue falls flat, and the battle scenes are so crowded and messy that no one really knows what the crap is going on.  Red Letter Media goes into all of this with stern detail, but I wanted to mention it briefly.  Oh, while I'm at it, I'll warn you that RLM makes tasteless jokes at times that can be really disturbing.

This isn't really on topic, but I'd just like to mention that I don't really get all the hate for Jar Jar Binks.  I mean, he's lame and gets too much screentime, but the films have so many other flaws, it's just pointless to mention him.  I guess because he's so overt he takes a lot of the blame for the suckitude of the prequels.  People notice subconsciously all the other problems, but take it out on the obvious guy.

The single most devastating thing Lucas did to Star Wars was explain the Force.  That was the knife in Star Wars' chest, and all the rest is just turning the blade.  Mitochlorians?  The Force is microscopic thingamadoodles that infest people?  What the crap?  Star Wars is spiritual, magical.  It's not about science, at least not to a larger extent.  Explaining it is bad.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is all about explanation.  In the original film cantina scene in Star Wars, the costume and props guys just hauled out a bunch of random costumes and puppets to serve as aliens.  We don't know any of those species, and there's no need for us to.  Not so for the Trekkers (yes, it's Trekkers and not Trekkies).  They have races with their own histories, complex plotlines, and a massive plot that extends from the original series all the way to Voyager.   Technology is complex, and so are all their dialogues.

Let me briefly explain the history of Star Trek, which naturally has far more material than Wars.  It all started with the original series, a cheesy and happy show that came out in 1966.  It failed its five year mission and only lasted three seasons.  After several years of nothing, there was a short-lived attempt at an animated show, which didn't last long.  Star Trek: the Next Generation takes place a century later, and came out at about this time.  As this series went on, the original cast started to produce films, making Star Treks 1-6.  While the show was cheesy and took a bit to catch on, the films were actually very good (besides 5) and were the things that first encouraged me as a kid to like Star Trek.  And then I saw some original series episodes and understood fully why Paramount was always trying to cancel the original series throughout its run.

Gene Roddenberry died shortly after Star Trek 6, and this began to mark the end of Star Trek.  Sure, there was life in the series left.  They made Babylon 5 (regarded as a flop), Deep Space Nine (pretty good, but too dark-spirited for the Star Trek feel), Voyager (preeeetentious), and a few Next Generation movies that RLM gives his harsh treatment to in the same vein as his Star Wars reviews.

Then there's the latest Star Trek, that completely betrays everything we know and love about Trek: they're very gratuitous in killings, it's more individual focused, the bad guys are mostly unexplained and entirely worthless, the plot is full of cliches, Uhura is too skinny and kind of trashy (maybe this is just me, but in this role Zoe Saldana seemed to come across as any given generic white girl from California),

Mostly, the morality of the two are different.  Star Wars focuses more on the individual.  As an audience member, you follow along with the brave but inexperienced Luke, the determined Princess Leia trying to save her allies, and the brutish but dashing Han Solo in his quest for cash.   While the characters in Star Trek are generally likable, the feel of the show concerns the survival of species, the unity of all races, and the quest for humanity to purge itself of its "barbarian ways" (the worldly version of what is barbarian versus what barbarianism really means is a conflict I'll get into one day).

In other words, Star Trek has different ideals in mind.  Star Wars, I'm sure, was produced more to entertain and excite people with its laser swords and fun universe.  Trek, on the other hand, was produced by Gene Roddenberry for the specific purpose of improving the world's outlook on life.  It's suppose to touch on our inner desires for exploration and "unity of mankind" to help us create a better future.  Thus, Trek and Wars aren't that comparable.  They're in different catagories.

Now, what you can compare Star Trek to is the British science fiction series Dr. Who.  Dr. Who has run since 1963, and follows along the story of a human looking alien named "The Doctor" who runs around time and space in a flying police box (it's bigger on the inside) solving various problems and stopping various bad guys throughout his adventures.  He comes from the planet Gallifrey and is of the species Time Lord, long lived people who regenerate when they die.  They can do this up to 12 times, barring some effort to cheat death, which has been done before by one of the villains known as The Master.  This is the gimmick used to allow them to continue the series with different actors and still keep the plotline going.

What makes this a closer match to Star Trek, despite the fact that the police box (known as the TARDIS) is a  time vessel rather than a space vessel, is its heart.  Like Trek, it concerns itself with technobabble and pop morality.  Like Trek, in its earlier years it actually tried to be more scientfic.  And also like Trek, it has lost its way.

I'm not sure right at the moment which one has lost its way more, but yeah, they both have lost something of their original spirit.  In the case of Trek, the loss was very slow.  When Gene Roddenberry died, bits his idealistic futureview still remained with people still working on the universe.  However, over time Star Trek has become muddle, particularly since Trek nerds have been demonized and no one in popular culture seems too concerned about it.  Also, there is no current television show going on with Trek.

The last movie with JJ Abrams...guh.  I mean, I knew Hollywood was dying, but dang, Trek is supposed to be filled with nerds that can actually write.  Add to that Abram's general lack of understanding in matters of the human mind, and buh.  Red Letter Media did a review of this movie as well, citing all the things Abrams and company did wrong with this film...and then says he actually likes it.  He compared it to the music genre rock and roll, saying that it's just different and something to be appreciated by the masses.

I think that's an insult to rock.  Most of the characters in the newer Trek were bland and boring.  You can tell me that this movie was supposed to be the one that sets up Abram's franchise by setting up the characters, but even though we were staring at these guys for two hours (the Kirk character in particular) we really don't learn anything about them.  Kirk's character does stuff, but is merely a young stereotype running around and getting beat up by everyone and their moms.

The young Spock would have been okay, except that they had to go the extremely predictable route and have him be the half-human oddity without really adding anything of worth to the character.  The scene where his schoolmates are making fun of him is like a slightly Vulcan-ish parody of the Hollywood high school stereotype.  I will, however, say that Spock's character problems come less from acting and more from writing.  I feel that the actor did pretty good, and with better plot he could be a good Spock.

I was actually surprised at Karl Urban for being so good, like everyone else.  In other movies he tended to suffer from "reading lines syndrome" where he just sounds like he's reading, particularly in Lord of the Rings.  His character disappears after a while.  It's like the writers went, "okay, Doctor McCoy showed up and people saw him, so let's move on to the next thing now".  Sheesh.  How about letting him have a real part that actually does stuff and has depth?

They did this with Sulu, Chekov, and a little bit Uhura.  Scotty's part was a proper length for an engine guy who comes in at the middle of the film.  Sulu swings a katana (hello!  Sulu's supposed to be a fencer!) before disappearing, and Chekov does a really bad accent before he goes away.  Apparently the actor Anton Yelchin really is Russian, but you wouldn't believe it listening to him.  They actually tried to give Uhura more plot and skills than her original series counterpart, but these guys are nobodies that I guess the writers just wanted to get out of the way.  We don't actually learn anything new about them.

Also, I wish they would have hired a different actor for Sulu.  It's really hard to take an actor seriously when they're best known for being in a stoner movie.  This next comment may be weird, but...he's too white looking.  Maybe it's a lighting problem on the set, but I always loved how nice and dark George Takei's skin was on the original show.  Asian people are really beautiful to me, and it's annoying that the Asian guy on the ship looks like a white guy.  Isn't this supposed to be an interracial cast?

I'm gonna make a weirder comment on Uhura.  Zoe Saldana has a huge case of boring white woman disorder.  It's quite common in Hollywood these days.  This disorder generally has the biggest effect on white or black women.  For some reason Hispanic women generally avoid it.

What is this disorder, you ask?  It's a creation of Hollywood sexists and feminists (hence feminist stereotypes 1 and 2 that I've mentioned before) that basically says there is only one way to be beautiful.  In my opinion, there are as many ways to be beautiful as there are women in the world.  Skin color, hair color, body shape, and culture all determine what makes a particular women gorgeous.  Certain colors and shapes look better on certain people.  It's a matter of individuality.

Hollywood has it stuck in its head that for a woman to be beautiful, she must conform to the standard of a white woman.  Not just any white woman (we Irish are not in the running, lemme tell you), but the scientifically determined most boring white woman in existence.  Many women, celebrities or not, fall for this flawed belief and try to make themselves conform.  It effects celebrities the most, as they have to be "beautiful" on a fantasy scale.  Hence horrors like girls starving themselves to death and black woman bleaching their skin.  Come on, black people, there's nothing at all wrong with your skin.  All it means is that you can wear better colors than white people.  You know what color I look good in?  Brown.  No, not rich chocolate brown, but dull, dusty brown.  Y'all get to wear richer reds and yellows.  I get pale yellow at best.  I'd look so dang weird in stronger yellows. Oh well, at least I have green.

It's not in looks, but personalities too.  Women in movies have to be either Feminist Stereotype #1 (women have no flaws and are better than men and are boring), or Feminist Stereotype #2 (I'm actually an insult to my gender because I objectify us but I'm going to pretend that since my character beats everyone up or outsmarts everyone I'm actually helping women's dignity).

Zoe's's actually a little of both.  Nichelle Nichols, the original actor for Uhura, was very black and very beautiful (FS1 and FS2 are mostly modern concoctions).  They didn't feel the excessive need to make her look like any of the likewise beautiful white women around the show. Sure, maybe the part wasn't as big as it should have been, but at least when you did see her she got to be herself.

I give props to Abrams for letting the new Uhura be more talented with language, but other than that....ew.  He wrote a very weird and not at all Uhura character.  This one...well, it's pretty much summed up in the scene where she insists that Spock let her on the Enterprise only to have it turn out that Spock is her boyfriend.  It's like the character is struggling between being an independent woman stereotype or a woman who's too clingy to her dude.  It's just weird.

This is completely beside the point, but I was kinda hoping that Spock would get with Nurse Chapel.  It never happened on the original show, even though Chapel really liked him.  That's just a nerdy complaint, and not a genuine criticism, though.

Speaking of Uhura getting on the Enterprise in a ghetto way, what about everyone else?  Sulu and Chekov are young nobodies who got really lucky, McCoy ends up in charge of the medical staff because the guy above him died, Scotty gets found completely by luck and invents a new way of teleporting just to get there, and Kirk...his was the worst.  First, McCoy smuggles him onto the ship, then the captain makes him third in command on a whim, then after being dumped on a planet he randomly finds old Spock, randomly runs into the guy that can get him back, and then does a stupid thing to manipulate young Spock and take over.  I can only suspend my belief so many times, movie.

Wow, I really went on a rant.  Okay, let's talk about Dr. Who now.  I'll try not to rant.  Okay, so the original Dr. Who show ran from '63 to '89, using up seven doctors in the process.  The eighth doctor only did a movie, in which all of his people die off in the great time wars.  He is the lone survivor.  After that, the eventually made a new series in the '00s, one that is currently on the air.

Dr. Who has always been pretty wonky, so at the end of the day I have to give it a little more room than Star Trek, particularly since I know less about it.  However, the new series went a much different direction than the original.  At the first, they never really showed the Doctor being romantic or even eating regular food.  It betrayed the concept of the Doctor that they had going.  Now, everything from episode one of the new series is all about romance.

You'll forgive me a bit of bitterness, please, if I say that romance is best used as a spice rather than a main plot.  No offense to people who disagree, but nowadays it's way overdone and it leads to moral quandries, cheap plots, and burns out a series really quickly when there isn't enough other substance to the storyline.  I'm a writer nerd, I know these things.  Besides, all writers have to be careful about their works so that they don't end up making their books turn out like romance novels.  I write over in the Mega Man fanfiction part of, and you wouldn't believe how many stories are just really lame soap opera pairings, yaoi, shojo ai, and all that other stuff I'm nowhere near curious enough to know much about.  It's gotten to the point where it's a lot of sex fantasy, and this is especially weird since most of the characters there are robots.  Substance, people, substance!

In the interest of not being too ranty, I'll just try to sum it up.  I really liked season 1 of Dr. Who, and even in season 2 when David Tennant became the doctor, I was all on board.  It really annoyed me that all these chicks (Madame du Pompadour especially) kept flirting with him even though his romance situation with companion Rose was actually pretty cute.

Tennant was really fun during the second season, but as soon as Rose disappeared from his life at the end of the season, he stopped smiling, and the show devolved into melodramatic, "let's stab the doctor in the heart as many times as we can" plot.  I swear, there were like two episodes total in both of these seasons where he doesn't make a dumb emo kid face.  Some depressing episodes are fine, but sheesh, this used to be a fun adventure show.

To make it worse, they kept having chicks flirt with him, though thankfully this was turned down, except in the case of next companion Martha.  I might blame the actress a little, but really it's the writers' fault that she turned out to throw herself at the doctor even though it's painfully obvious he isn't ready for any relationship.  Worst of all, Martha was training to be a doctor.  I expected her to be a lot smarter and keep up with the doctor better than Rose.  Didn't happy.

Now, if you're a doctor, you're the sort of person that's willing to (1) spend a lot of time working, (2) not see your family so much, (3) put up with more gore and gross stuff than the average person, and (4) learn to look for the source of the problem.  All of these naturally go along with the job.  Trouble is, Martha turns out to be a Rose Tyler analogue.  She comes at everything from a more naiive perspective and doesn't appear to be much more intelligent than Rose.  They don't even give her a lot of doctor stuff to do.

Season 3 ends with a horribly bad "I do believe in fairies!" moment where the doctor is healed of hyper-aging by everyone on earth just thinking about him.  That pretty much doomed Doctor Who's next season.  The Christmas special alone showed every single problem that developed in the series: needless deaths, the nearest chick falling for him, implausible disasters, and "victories" that amount to maybe one or two people surviving.

The first episode was actually kinda fun, with him meeting Donna again and her joining him.  Not to be!  It became "Adventures of Emo Kid and the Chick that At Least Tried a Little!".  My favorite episode of the season is actually Turn Left, which David Tennant is barely in and Donna spends the whole episode finding out what would have happened if she never met the doctor.  She at least was hilarious and tenaciously stubborn in a really depressing situation.

Tennant's regeneration into the next Doctor, Matt Smith, was so dumb.  He didn't have to say goodbye to every dang person in the series.  That just ruined what should have been a really touching moment.  But I'm glad emo boy is gone, and I'm glad there's new writers.  I'm not particularly impressed with Matt Smith, particularly because he just seems like a less expressive version of Tennant, but I'm reserving judgement until I see more of him.

So, in any case, yes, all three of these science fiction series are far removed from the original vision that was had for them.  Star Wars used to be about spirituality and individuals, and now it's about selling toys and dumb dialogue (I hear tell the games are good though).  Trek used to be about working together to create a better future, but I understand why this one dissolved into a boring, generic space adventure thing: humans are naturally a lot more sinful than Roddenberry believed we are.  Dr. Who used to be about science and explaining it to younger people, and it has since become...modern.  Trite.  A little trashy.

Can these series be saved?  Not Star Wars, not unless fans suddenly decide that they want to do a fan-based version of the prequels which they will count as canon.  I'm totally in on writing for that, by the way.  Trek might be saved, if we do something about JJ Abrams.  Dr. Who probably has the best potential right now, but who knows what will happen to it?

This is my nitpick: science fiction, be about science again.  I miss you.