Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

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Science Fiction Theatre

June 24, 2010

Here’s an episode of a science fiction TV series from 1955 that was broadcast in colour. Shows how much I know … I didn’t think colour had been invented yet. Hey, the photos of my parents from that era are all in black-and-white. This is the sort of thing that gets me in trouble for being stupid, like the time in Grade 8 when I asked the teacher if people floated around before gravity was discovered.

Science Fiction Theatre was the precursor to The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. This episode explores time travel, a subject we talked about recently on the podcast. There’s also a really interesting article at cracked.com that explores the weird serendipitiness of this program and a kid from Canada, which is how I ended up watching Science Fiction Theatre this morning. Luckily, as a professional science fiction talker-abouter, I can write this time off as a business expense.

Note that the actor playing the weird neighbour is Warren Stevens, who played Rojan the Kelvan in the Star Trek: TOS episode By Any Other Name, in which he wore an orangey-pink jumpsuit.

I like the fact that there’s a robot vacuum cleaner in this. Of all the things to predict … the sonic broom? Awesome.

Hear more about this sort of thing here at Starbase 66, the International Star Trek and Science Fiction podcast, featuring two Americans and me.

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V

November 1, 2009

Click here to see the new V.

This is the first eight minutes of ABC’s new take on the classic V. It was put online, officially and above-board, as part of the network’s blitz of marketing for this new series, which premieres Tuesday night (Nov. 3).

I like what I see. There’s enough of the 80s original to please me and other decades-long fans of the concept, but it has been tweaked and sparked for a 21st-century post-9/11 audience. I particularly like the little nod-wink to Independence Day that’s tucked away in there. Cast-wise, I can say so far, so good; Elizabeth Mitchell was aces on Lost over the past three years, and that guy from The 4400 looks good in a priest’s collar. I have never been sure what to make of Scott Wolf, though; he’s always looked and acted a little too much like the love child of Michael J. Fox and Tom Cruise for my tastes.

I devoured the original V miniseries, and its followup a year later. I wasn’t as crazy about the ensuing series, because a premise like this can run out of steam pretty quickly. The 80s ongoing series, which had a weird kind of Dallas opening credits sequence, was just another action show, really. I have the comics, too, and they’re actually better than the TV series. Think about that for a second: I have the V comic books. Feel free to steal my lunch money.

There’s an opportunity here to take the lessons learned in long-form serial TV — Lost, 24, Heroes — and apply them to the V concept. I hope that’s what happens. So far, I can say this new version of V seems taut and thrilling, but that’s just based on eight minutes. If the producers can’t find a way to sustain that power without it turning into fight-the-Visitor-of-the-week, I can’t see this lasting.

But like I said: take a lesson from Lost. Originally described as a show about people stranded on a desert island, Lost became much, much more than that. V is described as “aliens land on Earth.” Been there, done that. Let’s hope the new V offers us more.

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Stargate 2: The Return of Kurt Russell

September 29, 2009

I like Kurt Russell. I think he’s a cool guy, a decent actor, and I suspect he has a lot of fun at work. Whenever I see a Kurt Russell movie, I get the sense that he’s just loving what he’s doing. Remember Captain Ron? Or Tango and Cash? Or Escape from New York? Wait: Big Trouble in Little China. Watch it again, and watch his face. He loves this. He loves doing what he does.

The only movie that made me think he wasn’t happy was Stargate. He was Col. O’Neill in the original film, playing a much darker version of the character than Richard Dean MacGyver Anderson would later play on the TV series Stargate SG-1. Russell’s O’Neill was a tragedy in fatigues, a man who had suffered a terrible crisis that caused him to leave the military and let his hair grow. Anderson’s O’Neill was a comedian in space. The fact that I didn’t get the sense that Russell was happy is testament to his acting.

Well, I guess he misses that chance to act dark and disturbed; Kurt wants back into the Stargate franchise. But he doesn’t want to be involved with the new series, Stargate Universe. He wants to star in a sequel to the original film, a sequel that ignores the TV shows and picks up where the movie left off. Apparently, James Spader is also okay with the idea. This opens a really cool door: a big, dark, grim Stargate 2 movie.

The movie has been greenlit based on the Russell/Spader interest alone. So it will probably be made, especially in this Hollywood climate of Remakes and Sequels Only. If it happens, though, I have five requests:

  1. Let real time flow. Let this movie take place 15 years after the original, so we can see how the movie versions of the characters progressed outside of the TV show.
  2. Give us an “it was a different reality” wink and nod so superfans don’t get all upset about the differences between the show and the movie. Abrams’ Star Trek did this quite well.
  3. Do not put Amanda Tapping in it. I liked her on the Stargate TV shows. However, she looks a lot like someone I once got my flirt on with, but then never called again, only to have her angrily corner me on it a year later.
  4. Do put William Shatner in it. He and Spader have a cool dynamic (check Boston Legal), and his presence would be a fantastic marketing nod to the whole Shatnerless Star Trek situation. I think it would be cool to have Shatner play the U.S. president.
  5. Kurt has to have that haircut again, that crew cut so crisp you could sharpen your knife on it. I often think about that crew cut, and wonder if my life had been different if I’d had one like that.

Stargate 2 is scheduled for a 2011 release. Mark your calendars, geeks.

In unrelated news, we’re running a contest on Starbase 66, The International Star Trek and Science Fiction Podcast. Here’s how it works: over three episodes, we will pepper our conversations with blatant lies. After those three shows, we’ll ask you to list the lies. The first show with lies was the latest one, No. 32. Two more to go, people. You can talk about this in the Simply Syndicated forums. In fact, you should.

The person who identifies the most will win an autographed picture of me when I was a kid. It’s a good picture; I was wearing a diaper.

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Defying Gravity: An Apology

September 21, 2009

Dear Science Fiction fans:

I would like to offer an apology on behalf of my homeland, Canada, and myself, for the mistake that was the television series Defying Gravity.

When I first heard about it last year, I predicted that it would be okay. I liked the cast, I liked the premise and I am a firm believer in quality Canadian television programming (We kind of have to be; it’s actually in our Constitution).

And I liked the pilot. I liked it a lot. The producers took some chances, choosing to set the program several decades into the future, but making no modifications to clothing or personal technology. Camcorders — a handheld figures prominently in the first few shows — look like camcorders I could buy at Wal-Mart tomorrow. Fashions and hair look like today’s. That’s something Battlestar Galactica did well, and after a while fans ignored the Earthisms and followed the story.

But I cringed when I watched how gravity was being handled. The crew of the ship is on a multi-year tour of the solar system in a sleek, cool spaceship. No faster-than-light here; this is “real science.” Vasectomies for the male crew are mandatory, and that was a nice touch. However: there’s no gravity on the ship. The crew wears these jumpsuits wired with little magnets or something that make them stick to the floor. Okay, that’s almost believable … but nothing else floated, either. The crew just moved around normally. It was a cheap attempt to bypass a scientific shortfall with some sci-fi gobbledygook without sticking to it.

That’s when I started to get a bad feeling. But by the end of the pilot, I was interested; it was well shot, well acted and had a hint of mystery. Like Lost, there’s more going on here than space travel. It started to take on a Sunshine feel, and I loved Sunshine.

Episode 2 made me crash back to Earth. They were calling it “Grey’s Anatomy in Space” for a reason. By the halfway point of the fourth show, I was done. I turned it off and never looked back.

It seems I wasn’t alone. While it isn’t official, networks are issuing those cryptic press releases that make it clear the show is done. This bothers me less because of the show, but more because I’d like to see Canadian shows running on US networks and succeeding. I just wish we had some better ones to send down, folks. Americans cannot live on DeGrassi and Littlest Hobo alone.

So, another science fiction show burns up in solar orbit. Unlike quality work like Firefly, though, Defying Gravity ended because it just wasn’t watchable. It was a romance show made by people who might know romance shows, but didn’t get the sci-fi aspect of it, and that’s the kiss of death. Any hope of crossover appeal was lost.

There are more new shows on the way: V, Flash Forward, this latest new version of Battlestar Galactica, whatever that is … still, I remain glad I have most of Star Trek on DVD.

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Starbase 66

July 4, 2009

Subscribe to Starbase 66: The International Star Trek and Science Fiction Podcast via iTunes or at Simply Syndicated.

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Buck Rogers Flies Again

March 2, 2009

A few weeks back, I told you about how the team behind Star Trek: Phase II, that web-based fan series, has landed the rights to a webisode version of Buck Rogers. What I liked most about that project was the plan to take the story back to its 192os pulp roots, avoiding the Gil Gerard white leisure suit version.

Now I’m reading about a new comic series from Dynamite, a small publisher that’s making probably the best superhero comics out there right now. Dynamite’s Project Superpowers series, which resurrects minor Golden Age characters that have lapsed into the public domain, is some exciting stuff. I’m a huge fan of these characters from the 30s and 40s, and seeing them done again, and done well, is a treat. Yes, other publishers have taken a shot at them, most notably Alan Moore’s ABC comics, but I like this take on forgotten icons like the Black Terror, the original Daredevil and cats like that.

(If anyone ever brings the Archie heroes back for a modern audience, I’ll buy those, too. The Black Hood was the man, and I always liked Lancelot Strong.)

Anyway …

This new Buck Rogers comic, which rockets to stores in May, shares an idealogy with the planned web series. It’s clear that there’s a pulp sensibility at work here; the cover I’ve reproduced here is a gorgeous piece of art that takes the classic Buck outfit, complete with finned helmet, jodhpurs and jumping belt, and adapts it for modern comics publshing techniques. Go ahead and look at it again. I’m not going anywhere.

That looks was designed by artists John Cassaday and Alex Ross, two of my favourites. The comic itself will be by Scott Beatty and Carlos Rafael, with covers by Cassaday and Ross. What’s not to love? Wait, the first issue is going to be sold for a quarter. Nice.

Here’s a fantastic interview on the subject.