Secret Agent Man

Oh, and about that other show I follow – Prison Break, which had its season finale tonight: you think Agent Kellerman is dead? Really?

Paul Adelstein as Agent Kellerman Sure, we saw someone firing into the back of the prison van – but we sure didn’t see a body. The guy in the mask could have been shooting at the guard instead. And all Kellerman’s lines and facial expressions while in the van, lines and facial expressions we were supposed to think meant “here’s their evil plan going into effect, now I’m going to get shot,” were just as much consistent with his thinking “here’s my evil plan going into effect, now you guys are going to get shot.” Kellerman’s sardonic smile would go equally well with triumph or doom. And in any case, even if he was expecting death rather than rescue (or extraction anyway), that doesn’t mean that’s what he got.

Never forget Princess Irulan’s advice: “Do not count a human dead until you’ve seen his body. And even then you can make a mistake.”

10 Responses to Secret Agent Man

  1. Anonymous2 April 2, 2007 at 11:33 pm #

    Surely the story of Mua’Dib would provide you with some interesting blogging material. For example: Are “political tripods” really unstable, could you have anarchy in a galaxy run by spice-capitalists, and can David Lynch ever be forgiven for his use of voiceovers as a dramatic device?

  2. Administrator April 3, 2007 at 10:52 am #

    Aaagh! Must you remind me of that film?

    I first read Dune around the time of my 13th birthday, and it quickly became one of my favourite books. (I was living in Arizona at the time, so the feel of the Arizona desert influenced my reaction.)  For years I fantasised about what a movie version should be like. (Lawrence of Arabia was one of my models.)

    And then came the movie. I remember my sinking feeling at the opening moments of Lynch’s Dune, when Irulan, looking more like Barbie than like a shrewd political operative, started reading blandly and incoherently while her face inexplicably faded in and out against a background of stars. And the rest was no improvement: a rigid, lifeless Paul flying around in a rigid, lifeless ornithopter; Baron Harkonnen’s sore-covered body; weirding modules; the Toto score; a desert that looked more like a waterless beach than the magical Arizona desert or the mysterious Sahara — Aaagh! and I repeat, Aaagh!

    Incidentally, have you seen the more recent version from the Sci-fi Channel? It had many flaws as well, but was still far, far better.

  3. Anonymous2 April 3, 2007 at 11:21 am #

    Yes, they seemed to take the narrative a little more seriously – at the very least, the good Baron’s rhyming was a big improvement on the boils and maniacal laughter. Tyler’s score was also far superior. One unusual choice they made which wasn’t repeated for Children of Dune was to take a semi-operatic quality to the effects and lighting; using bright green, blue, and red for various scenes while characters deliver speeches (in the Harkonnen’s case they might have overdone the “atmosphere” a tad…).

    Surprisingly the sequel Children was actually executed better than in the book itself. Although Sarandon’s character got more screen time, the acting , effects, and the choice of young adults for the two lead characters instead of nine-year-olds were all excellent. A bit of trivia: They wanted to get Alice Krige to play the mother in the first film, but since she was unavailable they had to go with someone else. One can only imagine (thankfully) what a Lynch version of Children of Dune would have looked like…

  4. Administrator April 3, 2007 at 11:40 am #

    I first learned the word jihad, and a fair number of other Arabic words, from that book.

    Incidentally, I wonder how many people outside the sf fanbase realise how heavily the Star Wars movies are dependent on the Dune books? I bet a lot of viewers instead thought the Dune films were inspired by Star Wars ….

  5. Mike Erwin April 3, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    I can’t see much resemblance myself.

    Both Herbert and Lucas chose to mythologize their stories. Hence the (different) family matters, the (different) mystical energy fields, etc. In this case, the influences may well come from traditional exemplars with more or less filtering through Joseph Campbell. Two of the main themes in Dune (the interplay between ecology and society, and how those who can control critical resources can control or destabilize the system) aren’t in Star Wars.

  6. Anonymous2 April 3, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    Star Wars does have an odd attitude toward ecology – Coruscant, for example, appears to be completely covered in metal and concrete shops, streets, buildings, etc, yet everything looks flawless (compare the garbage, cracks, and general decay of urban centers today). Lucas also seems to think most inhabited planets will have one ecology – Luke’s planet is desert, Yoda’s planet is jungle, the clone planet is water, the Naboo planet is idyllic grassy fields, etc.

  7. Administrator April 3, 2007 at 5:25 pm #


    I can’t see much resemblance myself.

    Certainly the ecological and political ideas of the Dune books are absent in the Star Wars movies. (Such subtlety is not Lucas’s forte.) But – a galactic empire, with royal houses and commercial guilds? An orphaned boy on a desert planet, the subject of messianic prophecies, with a mystical destiny based on his bloodline, who turns out to be the son/grandson of the main villain? An ancient order of priest-magicians, trained in mind control? The danger of being taken over by the dark side of one’s powers? A whole planet devoted to making clones? A hero who foresees, by mystical means, that his wife will die in childbirth, a future he attempts unsuccessfully to prevent – but who mistakenly foresees a single child when in fact twins are born, a boy and a girl, mystically linked and sharing an important destiny? Those parallels seem too many and too close to be coincidental.

    Plus both Dune and Star Wars have moisture farmers, both have vehicles called “sandcrawlers,” etc., and the “remote” against which Luke trains with his lightsabre is quite similar to a device Alia uses for similar purposes. We even see the skeleton of a sandworm on top of a dune in the first Star Wars movie, and hear spice mines referred to. And in the early drafts of the Star Wars script, something called “aura spice” played a central role – and the Jedi were called “Jedi Bendu,” reminiscent of Dune’s “Prana Bindu.”) Even “Anakin” and “Arrakis/Arrakeen” have a somewhat similar vibe; and does the name Jabba the Hutt echo Dune’s Gom Jabbar? Plus Jabba looks a bit like Leto in God Emperor (which came out two years before Jabba’s first appearance in the films).


    Lucas also seems to think most inhabited planets will have one ecology – Luke’s planet is desert, Yoda’s planet is jungle, the clone planet is water, the Naboo planet is idyllic grassy fields, etc.

    Just as Star Trek seems to think alien races will be uni-themed — one entire race devoted to logic, another devoted to honour and war, another devoted to commerce and greed … (One wonders who the Klingons were who invented their planet’s steam engines, who calculated the orbits of their heavens, etc. There must have been some, since they’re a spacefaring civilisation. I always had the same worry about Larry Niven’s Kzinti, who condemn humans’ spirit of scientific inquiry as “monkey curiosity,” yet who themselves somehow developed science, space travel, etc.)

  8. clark e.harvey March 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    my life is fill with mysterys ect.

  9. clark e.harvey March 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    thanks for insite


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