Category Archives: TV

Killjoys Premiere Verdict: Unpalatable

killjoys promotional

SyFy is often known for bad choices: it’s rebranding efforts for one, but mostly for taking mediocre risks with unmemorable television concepts that never get to rise above the fold for variety of reasons. It is interesting how HBO has set an entirely new level for its productions, be it reliant on creativity or budget, and networks like Starz are following suit, yet SyFy refuses to expect, demand, provide the same, but I digress…

This particularly bad choice is created by Michelle Lovretta, known for her wonderful work on Lost Girl, and it stars Thom Allison, Tamsen McDonough, Aaron Ashmore in title roles.

Remember that show? The one set in dark corners of the future in which that guy does that thing?

Killjoys is just such a show. Set in a dark, corporate future, the protagonists are bounty hunters who only care about “the warrants” and have no allegiance but to their anonymous clients. “No one know who hires us,” but “the warrant is all,” reminds boss the waify, big-eyed female hunter, Dutch.

These interplanetary Reclamation agents patrol a quad experiencing some contemporary struggles between the haves and have-nots.

Dutch teams up with John and D’Avin, two brothers who make a deal with a bedeviled megacorp, creatively named The Company, freeing D’Avin from his indentured servitude as an arena fighter, in order to send them to pursue someone, or something called Rolly Desh.

There are daggers, mediocre parties with monks wearing orange, and all the other cheap, uninventive fodder of bad science fiction tropes on television.

My eyes were literally watering with boredom as I perused through the pilot episode of Killjoys. On the one hand, the screens are screaming for a bit of space adventure, while on the other hand, these flimsy, paper-thin plots leave us in agony. We simply deserve better, which is why my attention quicky turns to another episode of Game of Thrones. SyFy would be wise to remember what their audiences crave, or it will perish in the cord-cutting future unfolding as we speak.

Mallozzi’s and Pullie’s Dark Matter Picked Up by SyFy

In a strange twist of fate, SyFy picked up Dark Matter for a televised series, after all. The strange travails and tribulations of the concept that is Dark Matter are worth knowing for those who itch to pitch.

Mallozzi and Pullie, two Stargate franchise veterans most fans are very familiar with, attempted to bring Dark Matter to television screens only to encounter a great deal of difficulty and resistance. Their pitch died in executive halls, much bleeding was had, but after some creative thinking, the two turned the concept into a comic book script that eventually got picked up by the Dark Horse Comics.

In a strange twist of fate, and this is for all those “try and try again” creative urchins, the Dark Horse Comics version of Dark Matter got picked up for a televised pilot by SyFy.

Malllozzi’s and Pullie’s hard work will be paying off in droves. The creative concept at the core of Dark Matter is described by Mallozzi as the story of a “crew of an independent ship who awaken from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Their search for answers leads them on a journey that will put them in conflict with some dangerous galactic players”, set in a universe dominated by “multi-national corporations [that] have colonized worlds, exploiting planetary resources and building galaxy-wide empire enforced by ships, private armies, technology, and wealth.”

Executive producers are Jay Firestone, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie and Vanessa Piazza. The series will be distributed internationally by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.

Mallozzi promises us an adventure with a sense of mystery. We’re all dying in anticipation to see more.

Outlander & Extant: The Rise of Lady Sci-Fi

Outlander-Costumes

by Irma Arkus

There is a new generation of science fiction on television and I can think of no better way of calling it than Lady SciFi.

What is Lady SciFi? Good question indeed. I’ve been breaking my head trying to understand what Extant is, or whether Outlander even qualifies as science fiction, and indeed, they both belong in the same sub-category of shows with an appeal to primarily female audience.

On the one hand, these shows are a welcome change from the recent stabs at hard sci-fi, both in film and tv, largely oriented toward men. And lest not forget comic book films, which this year proved to be largely exceptional in storytelling, but continue to be abysmally weak (as always) in the female character development department.

Outlander is a little bit of romance, little bit of time traveling, but mixed with a lush, period drama. This high quality production is based on a series of best selling books by Diana Gabaldon, and represents a new era of high-production value for Starz network.

My guess is that Outlander is an answer to the powerhouse that is GoT by Starz, and is going to be a relatively successful one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrKQH_vU0ps&w=560&h=315]

The show, created and produced by Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica), stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp, who while on post-war vacation in Scotland with her amateur historian husband, gets transported back in time to 1743, right in the midst of uprisings, political maneuvers and major conflicts between Scots and English.

In two blinks of an eye, savvy Claire becomes held by the “laird” whose illness forces her to show off her medicine woman skills, which the world of 1743 desperately needs.

The story itself is interesting, interspersed with lots of Scottish pride, pomp, and circumstance, tradition and incomprehensible Scottish dialects, peppered with numerous speeches that lack some much needed subtitles.

This is all very nice and dandy, but the production feels as if it is a brainchild borne of Scotland’s Ministry of Tourism, and that of Scottish nationalist party (whoever that may be). A lot of chest thumping and noble pomp, the show is a rudimentary propaganda piece with heavy separatist tones. To call them undertones would be a stretch.

These are not political messages of peace, love and understanding, but rather a call for war, honour, freedom, tradition and Scottish cultural integrity, and all that perfectly timed for the Scottish separatist referendum.

I cannot fault the show for it, but it feels somewhat burdensome to watch it. Despite the lush cinematography, and beautiful costumes, and some mighty handsome men who do what it is that Scottish men do, it feels like a beautified propaganda piece. Then again, perhaps it is time for some feistier political messaging on TV, subtlety be damned.

The other thing that bothers me is the acting. Claire is supposed to be this strong, smart, savvy, knowledgeable and even sexually provocative character, yet Caitriona Balfe appears to be incredibly waspy, cold and wooden actress who makes the likes of the queen of wasp, Andy MacDowell, look like a tropical heat pump with chortling laughter and a bubbly personality in comparison. And that is something of a concern.

Caitriona Balfe after all, is a model, considered beautiful by photographers and fashion designers alike, and she may have graced catwalks and magazine covers, but for the life of me, I fail to remember her in anything at all, despite her fair number of acting roles.

She feels wooden, she looks wooden, and while her body may represent the photographic ideal of the fashion world, I would have given my firstborn for someone more human and curvy, and with a bit more personality to have been cast for this role.

I thought it would become easier to connect with her character, that she would grow on me a bit, but as the show goes on, she is becoming mildly repellent, colder and less sympathetic.

CBS_EXTANT

Extant, on the other hand, is also Lady SciFi, but more of a Mommy SciFi. I’m not even sure that this is a television show, but the heavy marketing campaigns assure me that that is indeed the case.

Brought to us by Steven Spielberg, (which is strange, because the show has more in common with Ronald D. Moore’s Helix than anything else I can think of,) the show focuses on a mom, who is both a mother to an android and an alien newborn.
Extant_promo shot
Halle Berry, an accomplished actress for whom I have the utmost respect, stars in the protagonist role. Berry, as Molly Woods, is an accomplished scientist who spends some odd 13 months in orbit on a solo mission, only to come back with some interesting cargo on board.

Woods returns home to her loving husband and their solution to her barren state, a little android child, that looks and acts just like the tyke from AI.

In fact, the entire storyline feels like it has been pasted out of random, trashed pages from AI, and has been progressively getting less coherent.

Characters that were entirely in the background, such as the case with Alan Sparks or Gordon Kern, become suddenly enriched with flimsy backgrounds, and are pushed to the forefront in a matter of minutes.

Berry is mostly seen flailing, sweating, doing her best to keep up appearances. I am not sure that any of the actors know what is going on, and they get to read the scripts before they shoot the show. As for the viewers, I can assure you that we can only surmise that this show has been written by monkeys.

Extant fails to connect in terms of narrative integrity, timing, action, and is generally drowning in what I can only call an abysmal failure.

At this point, the show has hit its 11th episode, and let me assure you, things have not been getting better. Quite the opposite, in fact. At this point, the alien man-child is on the loose, and the action surrounding the chase after him is incredibly poor.

That said, the lighting is good. The costumes are great, and the future looks like it has been constructed out of catalogue pages. It’s also making me cranky, because there is a missing piece of the story that pertains to their society, aka. our future. They are either living in an era of prosperity because of some cataclysmic event, or the show is simply suffering from the fact that the peeps working on this production are entirely divorced from reality of human existence, which constitutes the extra insult to viewers, as the show is called Extant.

Those blind monkeys working on this show will most likely never see the second season, so I recommend you soak up as much Berry as possible.

These two shows represent an interesting new breed of television. They are grappling with science fiction themes while trying to connect to a less explored audience. Similar science fiction developments aimed at teen audiences also premiered this year, namely The 100, and Star-Crossed.

All of this implies is that science fiction is currently the less explored genre with a huge potential, and that there are indeed less explored audiences, which may result in that one new show to reach unprecedented heights of popularity.

With HBO raising the bar with GoT, I am hoping some of it will soon translate into not only ill-conceived Lady Sci-Fi, but excellent, high-quality science fiction television that will garner fans for generations to come.

2014 Hugo Awards Nominees

Presented at:Loncon 3, London, United Kingdom, August 17, 2014

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
– Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
– Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)


Best Novella

– “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
– “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
– “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
– The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)


Best Novelette

– “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
– “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
– “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
– “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
– “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Sofia Samatar*
Max Gladstone*
Wesley Chu
Ramez Naam*
Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Best Short Story

– “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
– “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
– “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
– “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

Best Related Work

– “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
– Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
– Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
– Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
– Writing Excuses Season 8, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story

– “Time”, Randall Munroe (XKCD)
– Saga, Volume 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
– “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who”, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
– The Meathouse Man, adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
– Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
– Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
– Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
– Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
– Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
– An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
– The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
– Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Best Editor, Short Form

Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Jonathan Strahan
Sheila Williams
Neil Clarke

Best Editor, Long Form

Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
Sheila Gilbert
Toni Weisskopf
Lee Harris

Best Semiprozine

– Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
– Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fan Writer

Kameron Hurley
Abigail Nussbaum
Foz Meadows
Liz Bourke
Mark Oshiro

Best Fan Artist

Sarah Webb
Brad W. Foster
Mandie Manzano
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Outlander Promises a Time Travelling Romp With Kilts Flying

Ronald D. Moore is working on a new production. Moore, the creative force behind Battlestar Galactica, has a new show Outlander, based on some pretty soft time-travel romance authored by Diana Gabaldon that remind more of the Time Traveller’s Wife than anything else I can think of.

Thus far we’re promised some handsome men in tartan, ample swooning of ladies in fine corsetry and woolens, and we do have a seasoned actor Simon Callow as the Duke of Sandringham, Tracy Wilkinson as a savvy housekeeper (sorry but that’s all we know as we’re a little short on deets), and according to JustPressPlay’s Randall Unger, an ample amount of Scots in kilts.

The premise is an unusual one, summarized as a nurse flying through time only to land in midst of a Scots vs. English conflict during the Jacobite uprising, finding romance in the midst of a resistance that resonates to this day.

And of course, we are promised plenty of romance, sex, and adventure.

Just when you think Ronald D. Moore went the way of J. Michael Straczynski, he comes back with not one, but two anticipated shows, as Helix is expected to premiere in January of 2014 on SyFy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f1_Mc9LDKE&w=560&h=315]

2013 Hugo Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2013 Hugo Awards were announced at four conventions, via UStream, CoverItLive coverage on the Hugo Awards web site, and via Twitter at LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon, on March 30, 2013.

Here is the exciting list:


Best Novel

– Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
– Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
– 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
– Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW)
– Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)

Best Novella

– The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
– After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
– “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)
– On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
– San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)

Best Novelette

– “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
– “In Sea-Salt Tears”, Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
– “Fade To White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
– “Rat-Catcher”, Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)
– “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (476 nominating ballots cast)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines. (Not a Hugo Award, but administered along with the Hugo Awards.)

Mur Lafferty*
Stina Leicht*
Chuck Wendig*
Max Gladstone
Zen Cho*


Best Short Story

– “Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)
– “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
– “Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)

Best Graphic Story

– Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
– Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
– Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
– Grandville Bête Noire, written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
– Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)


Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

– The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
– The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
– The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
– Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)
– The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

– Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
– Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
– Fringe, “Letters of Transit”, Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
– Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks”, Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
– Doctor Who, “The Snowmen”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)

Best Editor, Short Form

Stanley Schmidt
Sheila Williams
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Jonathan Strahan

Best Editor, Long Form

Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Toni Weisskopf
Sheila Gilbert
Lou Anders
Liz Gorinsky

Best Professional Artist

John Picacio
Dan dos Santos
Julie Dillon
Chris McGrath
Vincent Chong

Best Semiprozine

– Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
– Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams and Stefan Rudnicki
– Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Jed Hartman, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Abigail Nussbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Dave Nagdeman and Rebecca Cross
– Apex Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
– Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews

Best Fanzine

– SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester**
– The Drink Tank, edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
– Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
– Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Elitist Book Reviews, edited by Steven Diamond

Best Fancast

– SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)**
– SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
– StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith
– The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
– Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)

Best Fan Writer

Tansy Rayner Roberts
Steven H Silver
Christopher J. Garcia
Mark Oshiro
James Bacon


Best Fan Artist

Galen Dara
Brad W. Foster
Spring Schoenhuth
Maurine Starkey
Steve Stiles

Wonder Woman Refuses To Die Gracefully, Picked Up By CW

I never had a thing for Wonder Woman and that can be easily understood. Even in the heyday of the Lynda Carter fame, which would be the peak popularity for the character, our Wonder Woman had little to offer. Despite this, attempts at resuscitation of the character for the TV or film version of the superheroine have been pursued relentlessly.

One of the problems is the fact that Wonder Woman is supposed to be a lot of things to a lot of people. To borrow a phrase from Parks and Recreation, she is supposed to be “as respected as Mother Theresa, as powerful as Joseph Stalin and as beautiful as Margaret Thatcher.” Comments aside on Thatcher’s beauty, Wonder Woman has been continuously plagued by various psychoses that many comic heroes suffered from: namely that their lame interpretations remained a steadfast in popular culture, while the comic book versions of the characters experienced vast changes.

The TV version of Wonder Woman has always been just terrible, but the recent 2011 pilot really took the cake. Adrianne Palicki in title role as the heroine that dresses in cheap vinyl chasing the “bad guys,” but is also a head of a successful empire that funds its operations by selling Wonder Woman dolls (yeah, you heard that right, merchandising!), only to go home to be single, sad, watching romantic movies and petting her cat…well, that is a marketing package worthy of Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour!

On this version of the “feminist icon,” engineered by David E. Kelley, you could probably build an entire academic career, peeling away at this melange of “savvy” marketing mixed in with a lot of bad choices and cliches.

Despite the failure to capture an audience with the pilot, David E. Kelley persisted in pitching the show, while admitting that it may have been “flawed.” In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kelly says ” I still believe it’s viable for a television series. I think it’s ripe to do it. We made mistakes with ours. My only regret is we were never given a chance to correct them. We had a lot that was right about it and a great cast.

In time, we could have fixed what we had done wrong, we just didn’t get that chance. All my series have been a work in progress to a certain extent where you figure them out by episodes three, four or five.
We produced it at warp speed and it’s a special effects show and it took more time than we were able to give it. The genre was very different for me and I had a lot to learn; my learning curve probably would have gotten better. I’m sad we didn’t get to do it but I do believe it can work for the CW. They’re smart to try it.
I do believe in the potential of the series and I wish them well with it. I think it could be a great success.

Yes, you heard it right here. CW is picking up this disaster, but unlike the other networks, there might be something to this idea.

The CW successfully dragged the Superman origin stories through teen-land for a long enough time to not only grow a different type of Superman, but to garner a huge following among the target audience, as well as among the more discriminating comic book fans.

The Smallville success though, may not be applicable to Wonder Woman, as the character will need to be paired down, more nuanced, and revised to such an extent that it will scarcely resemble its origin. And that may be a good thing after all.

After all, who needs a magic lasso, a pair of “invincible” bracelets, a projectile tiara and an invisible plane, and what do those items have in common anyways?

Alcatraz Is No Fringe

While Fringe is winding down, with Fox announcing this fourth season will also be its last, J. J. Abrams unveiled its supposed TV inheritor: Alcatraz.

On the surface, Alcatraz has numerous similarities to Fringe: instead of Olivia, the cute blond girl protagonist is detective Rebecca Madsen. Instead of the truly interesting and complex science fiction premises and cases involving parallel universes, we have flimsy as paper premise involving “the worst of criminals” from 1960s Alcatraz flooding our time, conveniently though, one at a time. Instead of a potential love interest(s) and complex back story, we are served a more digested, dumbed-down version of Fringe. One that follows the mantra of 99% of television these days, making it entirely unpalatable: Alcatraz is just another show where bad guys are really, truly bad, and the good guys…well, they are cops.

We are not short on cops. Especially on TV.

Fringe is beloved by audiences. It exemplifies the kind of drama meets science fiction (or X-Files?) where the focus is not on the “bad” but rather on stopping something from occurring. Olivia doesn’t just catch the real baddies you see, but sometimes engages with the perspective of the other, lending it a hand, finding a solution.

Unlike Fringe, composed of now beloved, smart, witty, loveable characters, Alcatraz offers little in terms of heart strings.

The prisoners that seem to pop conveniently across time and space, seem to be dumbed down significantly, like rabid dogs that exemplify some kind of paranoid, perhaps ideological as well as pathological view of “criminals” that leaves little room for understanding, conversation, debate, or even progression of story line.

Granted, Alcatraz is a far smarter show than Falling Skies or Terra Nova, but I sure wish Fringe were to last a few more good seasons for one thing is certain – it shall be missed greatly!

 

Youtube roundup: Tonight I’m Frakking You and Minecraft Girlfriend

I bring you Minecraft Girlfriend. This is the story of one man’s descent into madness through Minecraft penis sculptures. I actually wrote the script for this one and it was produced by my friends at Megasteakman. I was really amazed with the ability of the actors and director to take such weird and goofy material and then maintain a sense of drama. This video was in part a response to the new Minecraft 1.0 release, although overshadowed by Skyrim and Skyward Sword (mostly Skyrim since even the new and amazing Zelda game barely made tremors in the Skyrim-dominated gamersphere). But again I’m blown away with the cinematic treatment given to a video about making giant penises in Minecraft. It looks and feels like a short film that would screen at a festival, but it’s about penises. It drips a love for cinema that is evident in everything from acting, cinematography, and the platoon references as the lead character watches his creations’ ultimate fate.

Tonight I’m Frakking you! A nerd-culture dance music video featuring actual celebrity TV and youtube talent! I feel videos like this add credibility to the microbudget video movement. It’s really cool when a bunch of hungry slumdogs pick up the camera and make a video to share with the internet for lulz and profit, but it’s also cool to see established actors and professionals joining the ranks of the internet viral videographers. What I found really brilliant was that this is the first instance I’ve seen in any media of the elusive Jedi Vulcan. The battle between Star Wars and Star Trek has been waged for an eternity. It strikes me as odd that people haven’t taken into consideration the possibilities created by combining both franchises. Imagine a force nerve pinch. Or a phaser saber, like a light saber but with an infinitely long blade and the ability to destabilize anything it touches. A mind trick combined with a mind meld is no longer a mere trick but a whole mind theater. What would happen if the Borg assimilated Sith into the collective? Phaser immunity and force lighting? That moment in the video where the cloaked hero at the dance party removes his hood set my mind free from the rigid structure of Star Wars v. Star Trek

TV: 2010 top 10 shows

2010 has been a relatively good year for television, but science fiction, or for that matter, any content worth considering to be entertaining, is scarce and getting scarcer. On the other side of the fence lie dramatic gems like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, but if we stick to our focus, the offerings this year are hard to pin down. Here is our pick of the 2010 best productions though:

  1. Stargate Universe

Stargate Universe has become the focal point for all science fiction fans this year as its second, more sophisticated season, took an unexpected leap forward. An all-you-can-eat buffet of hard(er) sci-fi, SG:U has been quite the ride. The show finally departed from the uber-claustrophobic, yet painfully realistic depiction of the miserable survivors stuck on a floating ancient husk of a ship that is intent on traversing through galaxies until the end of time, and instead allowed the writers to turn their attention to exploration of new relationships built with neighbouring species.

Dr. Rush, played by magnificently potent Robert Carlyle, finally gained control over ship’s complex framework, only to be presented with the much bigger, more mysterious problem of the initial ship’s mission. There is a pattern resonating throughout the universe, he explains toward the end of the season, and it is more organized than anyone anticipated.

The show also lost its cuteness as the character of Chloe, traumatized after a kidnapping by a combative alien species, started to change. Her Kafkaesque metamorphosis included extreme changes in DNA and bodily fluids (blood), improved mental capacity resulting in her ability to solve complex problems, and slight physical changes to her epidermis. In the beginning it resembled sleepwalking and magical healing powers, but soon, Chloe became more interesting than ever, emerging as a smarter, sadder, more experienced victim of circumstances beyond her control who increasingly grew disenfranchised from the crew and the man she loves. Like the bride of Frankenstein she is left waiting for the abrupt, yet anticipated arrival of those who tampered with her genetic code.

Even David Blue’s likable, geeky and childish Eli, the always bumbling character that we’re all meant to relate with, has experienced more of life this season. His somewhat shallow and annoying naivete, a nod to previous SG incarnations, has been carefully tinged by new, more sophisticated emotional ranges including anger and loss, as he was facing both metamorphosis of the object of his endless affection, Chloe, as well as a sudden, cruel murder of his very first lover.

The saddest part of all of this is that this superbly crafted show, one that I can count amongst to be the best of all time, has been announced as canceled. There will be no third season, we’re told, so make sure you carefully watch the first two.

2. Fringe

Fringe is one of those shows that noone expected to get better with time, yet somehow, surprisingly and despite all odds, it did exactly that.  This third season of Fringe can be considered no less than spectacular, as agent Dunham finds herself hostage on the other side of the looking glass.

I cannot but recommend Fringe as one of the best things to happen to television, and while initially during the introductory seasons, the script degraded to episodic X-files-ish moments, resembling largely all the other cop shows, this season’s story-arch has well made up for it.

We found out a lot: the truth of Peter’s origin and Walter Bishop’s past, what the life and technology on the other side appears to, as well as gotten the taste of upcoming war between dimensions all somehow related to the most incredible story involving “first humans” technology.

Fringe is quickly becoming more intriguing and complex than BSG, and that is saying much. The multi-dimensional aspect allowed for a far more nuanced approach to standard good-guy-bad-guy narrative.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, now is the time.

3. Misfits

UK show Misfits is an unheralded gem. This low-key, low(er)-budget production about disenfranchised slackers in their mid-20ties with superpowers will take you for an unforgettable and delightfully humorous ride.

The events that take place during the second season of the group’s community service solidify the relationships between the characters, but also present us with a far firmer understanding of just how detached they are from the remainder of society that continuously graces them with an uncaring, violent and reckless attitude.

Every episode is chock-full of hysterical funnies, gore, death, and sex, sprinkled with a hefty dose of beauty and touching humanity.

Misfits grew this season into characters who finally grasp that they are a group, as well as that the powers given to them are meant to complement their delicate personalities and in many ways protect them.

The show stays away from heavy CG and instead relies on its wonderful, no, scratch that, AMAZING cast and writing. With just enough sadistic humour and violence, sharp wit and scathing dialogue, this is definitely one of the best things to grace our small screens.

4. Doctor Who

I’ve complained incessantly this year over casting choices and script picks for the newest incarnation of Doctor Who, but the Xmas special has definitely changed my mind. It was not hard to notice that Smith felt more confident in his role, more at ease with himself, and the quirky mix of steampunk and scifi just did it for me. This year’s Doctor Who is by no means bad, but I am looking forward to its even better continuation in 2011.

5. True Blood

Fairies. Yes, fairies. True Blood has left me elated this year, and I am begging for more. The vampires got more complicated as were their strange, communal laws, power struggles and violent, backstabbing ways. We also had delightful introduction to werewolves and fairies.

Most importantly though, the Suki-Bill connection remained unresolved, which means more True Blood for all of us. Yeey!

6. Lost Girl

Came out of nowhere, Lost Girl turned out to be a full-fledged Made in Canada production focused on a culture of long lost creatures, including our own Bo, a terrifyingly inexperienced succubus who for the first time relies on friends and frenemies.

Compared to Timur Bekmambetov’s DayWatch / NightWatch series, the fantasy world has its underbelly as well as its ruling class basking in sunshine. Bo works as a private dick along with her thief sidekick, Latvian super-Kawaii delight Kenzi, played by Ksenia Solo.

Lost Girl appeared right after True Blood ended its season, and we welcomed it with open arms. The two are not comparable by any means. Lost Girl is a light romp that barely stands on its own, yet it is succesfully filling that massive gap left by previous year’s cuts of some very important productions, feeding our inner monsters, I guess.

My tip is, watch it. It harkens back to 90s shows. It is light and entertaining and that’s good enough.

7. Burn Notice

Two words: Bruce Campbell. I don’t care that it isn’t sci-fi. This is after all a show the likes of which we grew up watching. Smart narrative, interesting storylines, and cheeky undertones give this show an incredible value as we watch Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) dogged pursuit of those who burned him from CIA.

Packed full of action, comedy and Miami, entertaining does not even start to describe it.

8. Sherlock

Came out of nowhere, featuring one of my favorite British faces, Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, the newest incarnation of Holmes can only be described as labour of love.

Written by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the two do an amazing update to the all-famous detective work and produce hours of compelling drama that manages to smartly integrate contemporary themes and issues with that of original Doyle.

9. Supernatural

Let’s face it, Supernatural was conceived as a light murder mystery without the mystery part. But somewhere along the line, the stakes became higher and instead of killing the regular set of vampires and monsters lurking in the dark, the issue of good and bad, heaven and hell got a lot more complicated.

The line that the two brothers, hunters by occupation, used to draw, applies no longer. Sam’s soul for example, ended up in hell, and rescuing it back may not be such a good idea. Heaven is in turmoil, as  angels deal in ancient weapons, collect souls and are out for heads, while Hell is still the pit that rules the mob, just by an unexpected characters.

More surprises than you can shake a stick at, Supernatural has grown into a real television show but not at the expense of its sense of humour.

10. Spartacus: Blood and Sand

When conceived, Spartacus was meant to fill a hole left by the raucous adventuring of Rome, but then it turned into oh so much more. Think even pervier, more comic-book version of Rome, with an edgy, porny perspective, offering incredible visuals of mounds of oiled bodies ready to fight and kill.

John Hannah and Lucy Lawless are the masters of a gladiator house, a ludus, who not only invest in Spartacus, the tried fighter who survived despite all odds in the ring, but are also quite enthusiastic on climbing the social ladder. A lot pends on successes of a common Thracian, Spartacus, who continuously emerges as a champion, but in the world of politics and battle to death, a lot can go wrong as Machiavelian plots try the luck and the will of the Thracian.

Overall entertaining, the show has a unique visual appearance, deriving a lot of its imagery from graphic novels. Truly worth watching for visuals alone, the show starts off shaky but then continues to develop at a faster pace and is sure to draw you in as you follow Spartacus trying to survive, make friends and do the honourable thing.

Many of you may wonder, why these 10, and why 10 only, to which we can only reply: beggars can’t be choosers.