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A Hero's Journey Through Science Fiction

Archive for the category “Television”

Why Doctor Who? Why Science Fiction?

“I downloaded some old scripts from the internet and practiced them in front of the mirror.” — Peter Capaldi, on how he prepared for his audition.

Stone Trek: The Deadly Ears

“The highly-unlikely adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Magnetize. This Flash series was created by cartoon artist Brian Matthews out of his love for The Flintstones and Star Trek. What started out as a series of humorous panels developed into a Flash Animation series that just seems to have a life of it’s own. It stars the considerable voice talents of Wally Fields as all the characters on the show.” — Starland.com, sci-fi website that hosts two episodes of the three part series.

The (10) Best Episodes of Futurama

2acv17 - War Is the H-Word 1024x768As the remaining 13 episodes of this stellar animation series debuts Wednesday at 10 pm on Comedy Central, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring back to your attention 2011’s phenomenal list of The 10 Best Futurama Episodes from one of my fave-rave sites, io9.

Below Alasdair Wilkins highlights my favorite episode War is the H-Word:

“There was no way I could put together a list of the ten best Futurama episodes without a Zapp Brannigan episode, and this might just represent the space captain described as “40% Kirk, 60% Shatner” at his psychotic best. Fry and Bender join the army to get a 5% discount on ham-flavored gum, which turns out to be a very bad move when Earth immediately declares war on Spheron I. Zapp proudly declares the planet is devoid of any natural resources or strategic value and that they know absolutely nothing about who they will be fighting, but the enemy did tell him that we look like dorks. While Fry struggles with his cowardice, Zapp is forced to confront his apparent attraction to macho new recruit Lee Lemon, who may or may not be a barely disguised Leela (of course it is). The episode also features tons of great riffs on the episode’s obvious inspiration Starship Troopers, a brilliantM*A*S*H parody complete with robotic Alan Alda, Fry being forced to serve as assistant to a surprisingly tyrannical Kif, the list of Bender’s ten favorite words, the world’s most epic collection of ball-related double entendres, and the one thing all the kids were clamoring for: a Henry Kissinger cameo.”

She was in Star Trek?!

We know famous people are in the Star Trek movies, but you may not know of some unexpected stars who popped in throughout the television series. This amusing graphic hardly scratches the surface but for now it’ll do.

She was in Star Trek?!

Wagon Train to the Stars

From Slate’s Michael Chorost @ Future Tense:

“Eighty thousand people recently applied for a trip to Mars, an excursion that will allegedly be funded by selling reality-TV show rights for the voyage. The company running this curious venture, Mars One, estimates that the price tag for an expedition of four astronauts—currently slotted for 2023—would be $6 billion. But the ticket’s one-way: There is no budget for bringing them back.

It wouldn’t be a suicide mission, though. The travelers would be going as homesteaders, intending to make Mars their permanent home. If you’re going to have permanent colonies, say boosters of the idea, you might as well do it from the start.

…Mars itself will be fantastically dangerous. The surface is bathed in solar and cosmic radiation. The temperature rarely gets above freezing. There’s omnipresent dust with toxic chemicals in it. There’s a total lack of breathable air. And if you have a serious medical problem, the nearest emergency room will be at least 34 million miles away.

But there’s another, more subtle hazard of Martian homesteading that people have barely begun to think about: the lack of soil. It may be hard to keep people healthy in the long term on Mars without Earth-made soil. Lots of it.”

Okay, so, are you up for the challenge of interplanetary colonization? Maybe not now, but imagine a future where tens or hundreds of thousands of people are clamoring for a seat on the wagon train to Mars. My question is, “What terrible misfortune is unfolding on our planet to make you want to endure the horrible conditions of colony life on Mars?” (Check out the extended earth scenes in James Cameron’s Avatar for what a taste of what I’m laying down.) Mass-exoduses of many varieties come to mind. In the mid-1800s, gingivitis, dysentery, rickets and amputations were the fate of many, yet, thousands of Americans still bolted from the eastern states for richer digs in the western frontiers through events such as the Oklahoma land rush. (Ungrateful swines!) Technology followed (not the other way around) with the telegraph, the railroad, the gatling gun and the innate human ability to transmit disease faster than a fevered three-year old at a church social. Who or what kicked off this rampage for a “better way of life”?


Hm. Right now I’m thinking of a certain two military explorers commissioned by their commander in chief to go west and to explore and map “the newly acquired [Louisiana Purchase] territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.” (Thanks Wiki!) It was called the Corps of Discovery Expedition and it lent a hand in the great exodus that ensued in the preceding decades as men, followed by women and children, pursued their American Dreams across the frontiers in caravans of covered wagons. (What did they call these? Hm…)

The exploration for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as defined by Thomas Jefferson, (Lewis and Clark’s commander-in-chief), remained at the core of the western genre. This ideal persisted as a main staple of entertainment throughout the 1940s and 50s in cinema, television and literature. The domination of westerns on television also inspired writer, Gene Roddenberry, to re-imagine those wagon trains trekking across the plains as starships following stars routes, all in the spirit of exploration, colonization and adventure.

So let’s all raise our glasses and toast a big hearty thank you to Lewis & Clark, and to you too Thomas Jefferson, for without you, we would never have Star Trek.

It’s all your fault.

The Flowers Are The ONLY Nice Touch

The Matter/Anti-Matter Hero: nuKirk vs khanKirk

“Kirk is the most glaring problem with Star Trek Into Darkness. Regardless of how you feel about William Shatner, his Kirk was always centered and directed. That focus gave him the confidence and charisma to be a great starship captain, and inspired devotion and loyalty in his crew. Pine’s Kirk has absolutely no center and is completely directionless. His crew second-guesses him throughout the film, as well they should.” — DeFlip Side Film Review

Just a little rebuttal: When Kirk arrives in television screens in the 1960s, he’s a seasoned starship captain. When Kirk assumes the chair in 2009, he is not.

Is that a problem? Maybe emotionally for some, but I have no more need today for a 1960s William Shatner Kirk than I do a 1960s Sean Connery James Bond. Chris Pine, Daniel Craig–and let’s thrown in for good measure Christian Bale–will do just nicely for our new batch of superheroes. That is what they are, after all. In a dark world, a hero that is more palpable to the heart is one in whom we see our own struggles: flawed humans trying to make a go of doing the right thing. However

“You might say that the writers did this deliberately to give nuKirk a more compelling story arc, allowing him to grow into the legendary icon we’re all familiar with. And I might even buy that—if Kirk did even the slightest thing to drive the story; but instead, the story completely drives him. His path is 100 percent reactionary and at no time in the film does he snatch the reins and turn the tables on his foes. Which is why his eventual grand sacrifice feels like such a hollow gesture. He goes from zero to martyr in the blink of an eye, telling Spock, “I don’t know what to do. I only know what I can do.” In effect, he hasn’t grown at all. He’s the same cavalier dope who’s completely out of his depth, once again grasping for the most obvious solution. This one just happens to be fatal.” — DeFlip Side Film Review

wrath-of-khan-04When we compare nuKirk to khanKirk, remember the seasoned veteran from the 1982 classic Wrath of Khan is a far cry from the macho TV starship captain of the 1960s, a time when men were men, women were women and a sip of your dad’s beer put hair on your chest. In 1982, KhanKirk is out of his element as an admiral. Once he is yet again facing down the formidable enemy of Khan from the original series, James Kirk directly engages his foe in a deadly cat & mouse battle, exchanging cat and mouse roles with the super-villain. The titan back and forth drives the plot and inflicts heavy casualties on both sides. When khanKirk escapes with his life and ship, he is uncharacteristically forced to embrace the finality of the no-win scenario in the death of his closest friend, Spock.

NuKirk in 2013 is out of his element as captain of a starship and Admiral Pike rightly judges him as so. Still, seeing potential within, the admiral takes on James T as his first officer. When John Harrison murders Pike and a whole host of others, an enraged nuKirk is thrown back into command by the conniving Admiral Marcus, who reunites nuKirk with the Enterprise and its crew. Warning bells go off in Spock and Scotty but nuKirk is blinded by his own rage to see the path he is being lead down.

star-trek-into-darkness-kirkUnlike khanKirk’s 1982 character trajectory, our 2013 nuKirk is in retrograde from the aspiring 2009 nuKirk. Remember that brassy lieutenant who set events in motion while the rest of his crew sits blind to the approaching danger? 2013 nuKirk’s actions are very much plot-driven and this has James T flailing like a leaf buffeted in the wind. These are not the actions of “Space Seed” Kirk when he first encounters Khan Noonien Singh and both characters procede to study each other like a finals week exam. Despite all the whiz-bang and central cast moments with Spock-Uhura and Scotty, the inherent weakness in nuKirk leaves the audience walking out story-starved. Sure JJ Abrams’s direction tells us nuKirk is the star but we just don’t see the seasoned brilliance of khanKirk, who twice turned the tables on Khan aboard Regula I and inside the Mutara Nebula. Our relief is in watching Scotty and Spock spin the odds against the villains while nuKirk flounders as Harrison’s personal punching bag.

This is NOT the plot any Star Trek audience needs when the expectation is for nuKirk to step up to Pike’s challenge and earn the right to stay in the captain’s chair. At the very least James Kirk has his rock solid crew to bail him out.

Sulu? You have the conn.

Paula Deen Returns to the Food Network…

For the Memorial Day barbecue this weekend, 150 year-old cyborg chef Paula Deen whips up a mess of Tribble in honor of those who died last year in the Psychic Wars. Her favorite? The Pediculus Cut! (Mmmm…) What to stay away from? The Uterus. “Oh, Honey!” Paula snaps. “I wouldn’t wash my boat with that. It’s as tough as nails.”

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (Now Spoiler Free!)

Untitled drawing-4


“Just Don’t Run With the Scissors, ‘Kay?”


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