The Daily Tweets, 2010-04-19: “Riverworld” livesnark

To Your  Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José FarmerLate on the evening of April 18,  I turned on the TV for company while I finished up my previous blog post, & discovered SyFy’s new production of “Riverworld” was playing. This is an adaptation of the “Riverworld” series by Philip José Farmer, which began with his Hugo-winning novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971).

SyFy had made a previous attempt at adapting it when it was still the SciFi Channel, & it sucked.  I thought this one might be better.  But it wasn’t.  And next thing you know I was embarked upon a spontaneous livesnark.  (Intermixed with a few comments on that night’s action at the Alaska Legislature — the last night of this year’s session — which some of my more politically attuned friends were attuned to at the time.)

(Last time I’d done a livesnark was with my friend Janson — we snarked the Schwarzenegger movie “The Running Man” one day last October.  Too bad he wasn’t around for this one!)

I was snarking away until 2:00 AM.  Dumb on a night before work, but there you have it.  My advice: read the books.


  • I like Tahmoh Penikett, Alessandro Juliani, Thea Gill, & Alan Cumming, but this is as sucky an adaptation of “Riverworld” as the last one. #
  • SyFy adaptation of “Riverworld”: Thea Gill is a smurf. I liked her better as a lesbo in Queer as Folk. #
  • How did Richard Burton become bad guy? In original “Riverworld” by Philip Jose Farmer, he was a good guy – the famous English explorer. #
  • Now here’s Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) w/ his “Riverworld” riverboat. This one has a horrible fake southern accent. #
  • I think this adaptation of “Riverworld” would be a whole lot cooler if it had Xena and Gabrielle. #
  • The really sad thing about this adaptation of “Riverworld” is that I didn’t have @jansonjones hereabouts to livesnark it with me. #
  • There’s smurf Alan Cumming again…. #
  • See, further proof Xena should be in this adaptation of “Riverworld.” She says “Kill them – kill them all” much better than Pizzaro does. #
  • Huh oh, smurf Alan Cumming doing something meanie to Tahmoh. Sorry, Tahmoh, you’da been better off as a Cylon. You’da had better writing too. #
  • Only reason I can think they’d make Sir Richard Burton a bad guy when he was orig. a good guy is b/c SyFy likes its baddies w/ Brit accents. #
  • But it all goes to show SyFy original movies are just as sucky as SciFi original movies. #
  • Smurf Alan Cumming is a phrenologist? #
  • [While I livesnark “Riverworld,” I’m reading my friends livesnark… er… livetweet — the end of AK legislative session. Thanks friends!] #
  • [Specifically: thanks to @shannynmoore @celticdiva @alaskacommons for giving us sane commentary on AK legislature] #
  • RT: @celticdiva: YES WE HAVE A CRIME LAB!! NOW eat it, teabaggers! // Very good news! #
  • Looks like the samurai woman has found Smurf Central of “Riverworld.” #
  • Evil Smurf Alan Cumming chewed way too much of Willy Wonka’s blueberry chewing gum. He’s been squeezed, but lost all sense of humor. #
  • RT: @shannynmoore: Adjorned Sine Die…. // congrats AK Leg on passing a budget with crime lab. #
  • Between Thea Gill & Alan Cumming, looks like “Riverworld” is gonna have a smurf civil war. #
  • okay add a stereotyped German to all the other stereoptypes in this ridiculous adaptation. #
  • Ludwig’s German accent is even worse than Samuel Clemens’ southern accent. Philip Jose Farmer rolling in his grave. #
  • In this “Riverworld” Earth prob attacked & destroyed by Smurfs. But if Yellow Submarine instead of a zeppelin, it wd be the Blue Meanies. #
  • So where did the evil Sir Richard Burton get ground-to-air missiles for his riverboat? #
  • & now it turns out the fate of “Riverworld” rests upon results of a stupid love triangle. How completely plotfail… #
  • … as well as actfail, writefail, & directfail. #
  • Female samurai much more worthy love interest than love triangle g/f. But even better: don’t make this into a series. #Riverworldfail #
  • “A sequence of events leads to a consequence.” Duh. Hope my writing never gets that shitty. #
  • Sad to say Tahmoh Penikett shows not much range of acting between BSG, Dollhouse, & this. Too bad. But now tonight’s travesty is over: bed. #

My plea to Tahmoh Penikett (Helo of “Battlestar Galactica” & Paul Ballard of “Dollhouse”), who I quite like: find some projects that allow you to really use your acting chops.  Please.  It was really nice to see Thea Gill (Lindsay Peterson in “Queer as Folk”), but she wasn’t given much to work with here.  Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta of “Battlestar Galactica”): also not given much to work with — his role seemed mainly to smile a lot and then get killed by Pizzaro.  I like Alan Cumming a lot, but again — not much to work with here.  His Evil Smurf’s real character name was apparently “Judas Caretaker.”  It’s been a long time since I read the books, but I’m pretty sure they had no such character.  Those are the actors I was familiar with.

I’ve seen the the guy who played evil Sir Richard Francis Burton in something else, but can’t think of what.

It was the most appalling thing about this adaptation that Burton was turned into a one-dimensional evil bad guy. In real life, he was a richly fascinating person. Wikipedia:

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) was an English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist, poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia and Africa as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages.

He was the protagonist of Farmer’s books, and as I recall was pretty interesting in them too. A far more interesting protagonist than the one-dimensional generic good guy Matt Ellman played by Tahmoh Penikett, who differed from the one-dimensional generic good guy Jeff Hale played by Brad Johnson in the 2003 SciFi Channel version only in profession (2003: American astronaut; 2010: American war reporter).

Like SciFi Channel’s “Earthsea” miniseries in 2004, which completely screwed over Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels, both this and the prior adaptation of “Riverworld” are fine examples of good science/fiction fantasy made into bad by writers and producers who just can’t seem to give a sh*t.

After “Riverworld” I went to bed.  The rest of the day’s tweets are from the workaday day.

  • RT: @jansonjones: the semester begins to end // Yay! #
  • @jansonjones Hey, I missed you during my spontaneous livesnark of SyFy’s Bad Adaptation #2 of “Riverworld” last night. #
  • @jansonjones You’ll have to check out my “Daily Tweets” post when it posts tonight. I hope I did justice to its wretchedness! in reply to jansonjones #
  • Fifth homeless death this spring, per @adndotcom “Woman dead in SUV may have been homeless” #
  • RT: @berickcook: My frustration was compounded by seeing the huge Foucault Pendulum at the UAA library./ I work just upstairs from that. #
  • RT: @SistersTalk: Dan Choi & Right Wingers Agree: Obama’s Gay Hospital Visitation Decree An Abomination – / wrong, Dan #
  • @berickcook I have a growing curiosity about what, specifically, the life-defining struggle you’re facing is about. Can you explicate? in reply to berickcook #
  • @berickcook Ah, sounds v. interesting. Power that doesn’t create toxic waste products? (which I hope factors in your def. of “sustainable”) in reply to berickcook #
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