Charlie Jade on Sci-Fi HD - Lost fans, you DON'T want to miss this show! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I can not express just how happy I am that this show, as of this Friday 6/6, will have finally made it over to US TV. It'd be like if Lost had been shuttled away on some obscure Canadian broadcast channel, and was finally making its US TV debut. Because this show absolutely ranks up there with the best that speculative fiction, genre-based serialized TV has to offer. It's right up there with Lost, BSG, Carnivale etc etc etc.

Charlie Jade is a Canadian & South African co-production, shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and has aired in Canada and some parts of Europe. It's a sci-fi, noir style action adventure show about dimensional travel and corporate exploitation. But enough of me blabbing, check out the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjRHXgJVQcA

Anyways, all you genre TV fans who are hyperventilating now that Lost is on hiatus, well, this will be a PERFECT show to fill the gap. Just to fully disclose the situation with this show, so far all that exists of Charlie Jade is one season. But unlike other shows which are canceled in midair, the writers designed a really great ending, that culminates the storyline of season 1, but opens a whole lot of new possibilities for the show. They've done some basic work on a second season, but no scripts have been written. The show started off just airing in Canada an South Africa, and over the last three years has slowly built up stream, getting on air across Europe, Japan, and now finally the US. So if you've ever had a show you loved that was canceled unceremoniously mid-flight, now's your chance to help bring back a show that never had the big backing to begin with.

So watch it! Tell you friends about it. Chat here about it! The effects are excellent, the acting very good, it has a great story, and a very interesting visual style.

Anyways, I'll stop blabbing. Give it a chance and I think you all will enjoy it a lot.



First airing: 6/6 on Sci-fi @ 8 ET.
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post #2 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 01:36 PM
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I'm setting the DVR for this. It sounds very interesting. Hopefully it will be shown in HD.

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post #3 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 01:36 PM
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I've heard some good things about that show. Pity I only get craptastic SD Sci-Fi.

I'll be giving it a shot, it's a slow week anyway.


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post #4 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Like any serialized show, it starts slow and picks up steam as it goes. The Japanese DVDs that were made from the HD masters look amazing, some of the best looking DVDs in my collection, so if the show is actually aired in HD, it should look great.
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post #5 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 07:23 PM
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Thanks for the heads up. It does look really good.

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post #6 of 128 Old 06-05-2008, 08:11 PM
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It is in HD, 5.00 PM PST

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post #7 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 07:49 AM
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Cool. I read this thread. The show sounds interesting, so using directv.com I set a series record to my HD DVR. Ahh, isn't technology grand? Happy weekend, everyone.
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post #8 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 07:52 AM
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Guide shows Letterboxed.

Also setting this one up on the DVR.
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post #9 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 08:22 AM
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Thanks Capek; sounds like my kind of show. Too bad TWC still thinks SciFi-SD is my kind of network.
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post #10 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 02:06 PM
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I'll give it a shot. DVR is set. Besides, there's also a new Dr. Who and BSG on tonight so I'll be at Sci-Fi anyway.
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post #11 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 05:16 PM
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Not HD. Definitely weird, though.
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post #12 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiggo View Post

Not HD. Definitely weird, though.

Are you serious! Dammit, I was hoping to get some HD caps for this show now!
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post #13 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 07:37 PM
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Not in HD, that means I'm going to download and watch it. I would be satisfied if SCIFI HD would at least just zoom in and crop off that black frame, but NO they choose to windowbox it.

Total crap.

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post #14 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I hate Skiffy so much..
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post #15 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 09:57 PM
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Thanks, this is what I read these Forums for - recommendations of similar quality programming.

Strangely enough, SciFi - whom repeat every trashy show 500 times a week, does not repeat this one at all.

But I can find it "elsewhere"

Curiously, the second episode a week from tonight, is marked "Episode 21" and called "Sand".
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post #16 of 128 Old 06-06-2008, 10:42 PM
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Thanks for the tip. The fact that the show wasn't made by the sci fi channel is a plus (after they ruined Earthsea). The comcast in my county doesn't even have sci-fi hd. With a 16x9 letterbox, I normally enable 4:3 override in the comcast box, and then zoom the whole thing. (Why does the override keep getting turned off?)
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post #17 of 128 Old 06-07-2008, 06:06 AM
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What's with the Sci-Fi HD channel anyway? So much of what they show is not HD, not even 16:9. It was quite a letdown to find this sow not in HD. There seems to be at least one source online for streaming version that fills the screen. Very odd. Watching on DISH HD.
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post #18 of 128 Old 06-07-2008, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Dude View Post

Curiously, the second episode a week from tonight, is marked "Episode 21" and called "Sand".

That looks to be a typo -- "Sand" is episode 2, and picks up directly where the episode 1 cliffhanger left the story.
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post #19 of 128 Old 06-07-2008, 04:18 PM
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They (1 & 2) were originally shown back-to-back, April 16, 2005

Sturgeon's Law: "Nothing is always absolutely so."
Sturgeons Revelation: "Ninety percent of everything is crud."
My Thoughts: "A reasoned argument must share some basic common points."
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post #20 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 01:38 PM
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My impressions of Episode One:

- Sorry, not one iota like "Lost". That doesn't mean it is bad, but it is nothing like Lost. There is no distinguishing aspect of "Lost" that is found in this series.

- Actually it is like two previous things - "Blade Runner" and the 80's SF TV show (with very similar look and themes) "Max Headroom".

- Some of the elements from those two, the dark, grainy, faded look and the use of a mixture of old tech and new tech, such as the 1970's car with no headrest that has two-way video communications projected on the screen, is just unconvincing. In this case, it is obviously used to minimize the costs of special effects, sets and vehicles.

- The acting is so low key as to make most viewers fall asleep. In real life, most people are not charasmatic and charming like 90% of TV characters, but if you make everyone in your TV series realistic in their wooden delivery and uncompelling personality, then you will find everyone changing the channel.

- The shifting from alpha verse to beta verse to gamma verse more than once per minute with a little bit of identifying text on the screen simply does not work for more than 0.00001% of the viewing population.

- The music was very good music, in terms of music for listening from a CD, but the score seemed often quite inappropriate for the on-screen events.

I think that if gave the exact scripts to J. Michael Stracynski with 5-10 times the budget, you might have an interesting series. It is very hard to make good live action SF drama on a small budget. On a small budget, you either need to do comedy (cf the excellent "Red Dwarf") or else animation.

PS Whoever moved this, put it in the wrong Forum, as there is no Programming discussion in thos Forum. Since the program is on "SciFi-HD" channel, it was reasonable where it was.
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post #21 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I wasn't comparing the content of the show to Lost. I'm saying that if you're a fan of genre based serialized TV, which is what you most likely are if you're a fan of Lost, then you should check out this show, as it's good genre serialized TV, since Lost in on hiatus.

As to the look of the show, it's actually pretty high quality, considering the budget. The effects give the show a consistent look, and are pretty top notch, compared to other TV fare. And come on, in the finale of Lost, you have a guy strap a guitar tuner to his arm and say it's a heart monitor. So it's not like you can "pierce through the vale" easily enough on even big budget shows.

As for the characters, Charlie is really the only one we've been introduced to yet. New characters come along, and we see different sides of already introduced characters. But this is one area where I think you kind of have to give a humble production like this a chance to get on its feet. It takes a few eps, when a show doesn't have a year + preproduction schedule for the writers and actors to get on the same page. It picks up, but ya, I agree with your general comment. Although 01, the main antagonist, turns out to be a really interesting and compelling bad guy, especially as the conclusion of the series comes on.

As to the dimension switch, it gets easy to remember, as they each have very obvious color palettes unique to each universe. Also, one is stereotypically "Blade Runner"-ish, one is stereotypically Eden-ish, and one is modern Earth. Like zaph said, since eps 1 and 2 were originally aired b2b, you got to spend more time in each dimension, so the differences and how to tell them apart were much more apparent.

Anyways, however hard it might be to make good SF on a modest budget, Charlie Jade is good SF, which people will see if they give it more than 1 ep before coming to conclusions.
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post #22 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 04:22 PM
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It's been a while since I've seen it. A friend sneaker-net'ed them down on BetaMax tapes. I didn't digitize them to DVDs at the time so I am hoping to get some long term archival this time around, but I fear that SciFi will show 3 episodes then "disappear" it until it shows up in their daytime rotation.

You have to trust that questions that arise will be answered eventually when watching this series. IIRC

Sturgeon's Law: "Nothing is always absolutely so."
Sturgeons Revelation: "Ninety percent of everything is crud."
My Thoughts: "A reasoned argument must share some basic common points."
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post #23 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 04:56 PM
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I did a little more research on the show, and it turns out to be based largely on the books of Derrick Jensen.

This is unfortunate, because Jensen's central idea - that civilization is a corruption of a pacific natural world - is based on false concepts:

Quote:


Jensen's work catalogues what he perceives as the pervasiveness of abuse, hatred, rape, environmental destruction, and dishonesty (which he says serves to maintain the systemic abuse of civilization). He concludes that the very pervasiveness of these behaviors indicates that they are diagnostic symptoms of the greater problem of civilization itself.

In actuality, "nature" has created all of these things:

- The asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs had far greater impact on the "natural" world than mankind ever will. Untold species died and new ones came into being.

- Chimpanzees in the wild have been observed to go to war against other tribes of chimpanzees. This observation was viewed with great dismay by the zoologists, who were previously enamored of the popular idea that violence and war are inherently "human" and "artificial". Since chimpanzees contain over 99% of our DNA, it seems clear that all human violence is instinctual survival activity - which doesn't mean that we should not strive to avoid it, but it also means that it is "natural".

- The romantic concepts of "indigenous people" being "better" and "nicer" than civilized people is a popular myth that was started by the false conclusions of anthropologist Margaret Mead who was tricked and lied to by inhabitants of Samoa. Anthropologist Derek Freeman states that "Mead ignored violence in Samoan life, did not have a sufficient background in--or give enough emphasis to--the influence of biology on behavior, did not spend enough time in Samoa, and was not familiar enough with the Samoan language."

- Of course, the most telling argument is simply that Homo Sapiens is a "natural" phenomenon ! We came into being due to evolving naturally from earlier primates, and civilization was a "natural" development.

So, the whole series seems to be based on a "Straw Man" argument.
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post #24 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 05:00 PM
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These two excerpts from comments from another site seemed to state some observations of mine in a clearer fashion:

Quote:


...Frankly, I was more than a little disappointed. Maybe the series will improve as it continues, but at present it seems pretty flawed...

The visual style, while nice, is also way too over the top. Part of the success of films like Blade Runner and the like doing visuals of this sort is that they're not so obvious and forced. In Charlie Jade, the funky effects and interesting transitions, not to mention generally lighting and colour are interesting, but way too blatant.

Similarly, the acting seems to be equally forced on many occasions and the lack of South African accents makes it difficult to believe that the series is actually set in Cape Town, or even South Africa. Additionally, most of the actors seem to be entirely too self-conscious about the fact that they're acting in a SF series and tend to come across as hamming things up a lot. Basically, it's like they can't forget that they're acting and don't seem to really be able to get into character (Whereas the actors in shows like Farscape and Firefly do not betray any idea that they're just playing roles...) Also, the use of music was just horrible. I mean, music now and then is nice, but music blaring out, drowning ambient sound and voices is just bad...

and

Quote:


...Its quite rare for a television series to provoke a 1 out 10 reaction without hesitation. But it is so bad that I sometimes find myself unable to change the channel when it comes on - until some part of my brain rebels, seizes the remote and narrowly averts a parallel universe lobotomy.

The director completely fails to grab the audience with any palpable intrigue, like Battlestar or Lost might, so in the end you don't even bother to follow the convoluted and uninteresting plot. Too little is revealed too slowly ensuring a healthy dose of tedium. The visuals are probably the best part of the film with the director managing to twist the holiday village reality of Cape Town into a dark urban jungle at his leisure. But the strange mix of Canadian, American and South African accents (with the full spectrum of South African dialects thrown in for good measure) serve as a huge distraction. The background music is relentless, somehow wrong for each scene and jars with the atmosphere. With these distractions and a confusing and lethargic plot, Charlie Jade tries to be too much and as a result completely fails to entertain. ...

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post #25 of 128 Old 06-08-2008, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Dude View Post

So, the whole series seems to be based on a "Straw Man" argument.

Oh, gimme a break...

It's not a situation of the author adapting his work to TV or anything. It's a typical dystopian view of Corporatocracy run amok. Because there's one mention on CJ's wiki page of one of the creators of CJ saying that the show's ethos is based on some of Jensen's work, you take that to mean that the whole logical structure of the show is bound to Jensen's beliefs? :/

Anyways, all those critiques are of one episode, not the series. I mean, there's a reason why I said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capek View Post

Like any serialized show, it starts slow and picks up steam as it goes.

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post #26 of 128 Old 06-10-2008, 08:10 AM
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I was intrigued enough by the first episode to sign on for more. It's an interesting premise; we'll see how they do fleshing it out. I have to agree that the atmosphere might be a tad too..... atmospheric at times. They must have a big dry ice budget. We have a CRT HDTV that's good at resolving shadow detail, but I can imagine that some LCD viewers out there might have a hard time following the action in some of those dark, moody scenes - or seeing any action at all for that matter. Also agree that the score isn't quite right, and too loud and intrusive on occasion.

The vfx were pretty impressive, I thought. It would be interesting to see how they'd hold up in HD. Don't know why they would cast an American actor as the lead, although he has a nice world-weary, Sam Spade quality to him. So, this series was produced at least 3 years ago? Is it still in production overseas somewhere?

Anyway, this is the first show on SciFi other than BSG I've had any interest in watching. So we'll see how it goes.
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post #27 of 128 Old 06-10-2008, 10:05 AM
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Mixed feelings about the first episode, but I will give it another look!!
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post #28 of 128 Old 06-10-2008, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

I was intrigued enough by the first episode to sign on for more. It's an interesting premise; we'll see how they do fleshing it out. I have to agree that the atmosphere might be a tad too..... atmospheric at times. They must have a big dry ice budget. We have a CRT HDTV that's good at resolving shadow detail, but I can imagine that some LCD viewers out there might have a hard time following the action in some of those dark, moody scenes - or seeing any action at all for that matter. Also agree that the score isn't quite right, and too loud and intrusive on occasion.

The vfx were pretty impressive, I thought. It would be interesting to see how they'd hold up in HD. Don't know why they would cast an American actor as the lead, although he has a nice world-weary, Sam Spade quality to him. So, this series was produced at least 3 years ago? Is it still in production overseas somewhere?

Anyway, this is the first show on SciFi other than BSG I've had any interest in watching. So we'll see how it goes.

Ya, I think they might have used up their whole dry ice budget in the first ep , because as I remember, it was really only the first ep where they kind of went overboard on the smog. I think after the first ep they realized they were obscuring too much of the action, and pulled back on the smog. Though now that Charlie has been "transported", we spend more time in Betaverse (Our Cape Town) anyways, so this is where if would have looked great in HD, with all the nice sharp shots of the city that look so good on DVD.

About the music level, it wasn't something I noticed while watching the DVDs, but it definitely stood out to me when watching the ep on Skiffy, so I just went back and compared the two, and sure enough, the music is noticeably louder and more up front on the TV broadcast than on the R2J DVDs. I don't recall how it was on the original Canadian TV broadcast, so I don't know if it is a TV thing or Skiffy thing, or just something that was fixed during the mixing for the DVD release, but hopefully it won't be like this for the whole series. That would be a bummer..

I don't think it's in active production. But I feel it's the producers baby, and they'd pick it back up again if they had the chance. Basically, the situation with production is that the show was made by a relatively small production house, it was a real ambitious effort, where they put all they had into 1 season, and then it was kind of a matter of shopping it to more and more distributors, with the big fish of course being US TV, with the idea that when it got picked up by the big distributors, they would be able to get financing for a 2nd + seasons. At this point, I think all they have for a second season is a general outline; no scripts though. When I was downloading it on its initial run 3 years ago, I remembered it ending on a really painful cliff hanger. But after watching the show on DVD, it actually has an acceptable conclusion, where you don't feel pissed off and left hanging. So at least you don't have to worry about investing yourself in the show only to be left out in the cold at the end.
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post #29 of 128 Old 06-14-2008, 08:46 AM
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Any comments on last night's episode? I haven't seen it yet...
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post #30 of 128 Old 06-16-2008, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

Any comments on last night's episode? I haven't seen it yet...

Goes .... really ..... slowly .....

If you have a smart director and/or writer, then when you have to introduce your audience to new informatin and new characters and new situations, it helps to go slowly.

Here, since you have stupid directors and stupid writers, then when they have a situation where the audience already knows exactly what is going to happen, but the character does not know, they string it along for 25 minutes.

We've already told the audience umpteen times "he is not in his own universe". But that doesn't stop the director and writer from stringing out the "he discovers that he is not in his own universe" over an endless amount of time.

Oh, and by the way, some things are different than in his universe.

Those things .... they are not the same as what he is used to.

It's like they're the same - but different.

To his totally unexpressed amazement that we never see, many things are different than in his world.

Repeat for 25 minutes.

---

In order to enjoy TV, we have to enter the drama being presented (hence the darkness in theaters). Once we do that, our instinctive tendency to follow the lives of those around us kicks in.

So, once there is something about the premise (in this case, " parallel universes " and/or " powerful people are oppressing the average people ") that catches one's attention, then one is tempted to continue with the series in order to " find out what happens to those people ".

However, in this particular case, the TV series is considerably worse than reading a novel about the same premises. The visualization of the events is worse than anyone's imagination reading the scripts. And the scripts are certainly far worse than any good novel about these premises.

So, spend the hour with a good SF novel instead...
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