Monday, January 31, 2005
Some interesting Doctor Who images
Friday, January 28, 2005
Act of Contrition
Sadly, one of the things about the origins of this series is that you've got the segment of original Galactica fans that are anti-fans of the new series. One of the challenging things with any revival (or long running series generally) is that the series may take a different track than what originally drew you to the series; if you're a Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict fan, the new Galactica isn't the same sort of thing. You've got that as well when you're dealing with Star Trek -- tonight's episode of Enterprise harkened back to the original series Journey to Babel, but it's absent Kirk and Spock. Doctor Who sees it from the people that rejected the more adult content of The New Adventures; and we may see some people that have difficulty with the new series of that as well.
One of the interesting elements for me about franchise genre fiction is when, over time, you try to break down and identify what is really the most important pieces of a concept. You get the same sort of thing with music groups -- some bands are no longer the same band once you remove one member, and others can have almost the entire lineup change.
It's interesting to watch both Enterprise and Galactica on the same night. Because Enterprise is telling a prequel story in the same universe as the original series, you have all sorts of elements that start to struggle with the 1960s design. And it's not always entirely successful -- the future isn't what it used to be, after all.
Where Galactica has less of a relationship with its 1970s counterpart, while apparently the Cylons in the new series used to look like the ones of old, we're having Vipers move in the zero gravity environment of a computer simulation instead of the models of the 1970s, with battles that acknowledge inertia and the forces of gravity, enhanced graphics of the way we saw ships travel in Babylon 5.
In it's own way, this new Galactica then, isn't just a reimagining of Galactica, but follows along in almost all of the non-Trek space adventure series; as you can see the influence of Firefly in some of the space sequences as well, and the more "realistic" approach to space is very reminiscent of Space: Above and Beyond.
Television Without Pity has some recaps of the new Galactica as well. It's a site that I never quite check out as much as I should...
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
As I've said over the past year, it's not just that Doctor Who is going back into production, but that the talent involved are people that have proven themselves capable of great stuff, and Coupling is one of the best examples of that, especially for American audiences that might not be as familiar with the Doctor Who TV-tie in work for the last decade and a half.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall...
Sadly, while I think Enterprise is an alright series, and sometimes it's really good, I sadly agree that I think Star Trek generally needs a break. But, hey, if you disagree, more power to you...
Doctor Who USA Tour, Continued
Monday, January 24, 2005
I'm really quite interested in this new public radio station in the Twin Cities area. I think so much music radio is dull these days; and the amount of new music in my life is not what it once was. In fact, it's pretty sad.
I tend to listen to the news station of MPR a lot, but it'll be nice to have a music station to listen to as well that isn't as bland as so many of the other stations tend to be. Or at least that's my hope.
I'm a bit sad that they aren't playing Thistle and Shamrock, but to be honest, I haven't found myself listening to the show as much as I did when I lived in Milwaukee, and I don't really find myself listening to radio shows much anyways. (I'm looking forward for a day when I have an iPod or some similar device and could download shows to listen to them -- or at least that's what I'd like to do.
However, one of the shows that I listened to a lot when I lived in Milwaukee that I'd love to see on this new station is World Cafe -- and actually, I think the last time I really discovered a lot of new music it was because I could hear that show. And seeing that they are using WXPN as one of their role models for The Current I'm hopeful about the new station, even if they don't pick up that particular show...
Friday, January 21, 2005
And while there is an element of "stunt casting" here, obviously playing Richard Hatch's Tom Zarek character against the new Apollo, it works. The behind-the-scenes knowledge adds a little bit of added weight, really.
I'm kind of curious about what the connections between the Colonial religions and the myths of Earth -- apparently Zeus and Apollo are among the "Lords of Kobol". Obviously, that makes some sense, as their are clearly connections between Earth and Caprica and the other colonies -- it's part of the series. Obviously this series tries to really make our society even more like theirs; this is supposed to be a very recognizable society and not that different from our own.
I also maintain that the new series Starbuck is more like the original series version than any of the other characters -- perhaps precisely because it is played by a woman instead of a man.
But really, this isn't a series to watch for nostalgic reasons -- it's addressing modern issues and the flawed societies that we live in, and the compromises that we have to make.
fraggle.jpg (JPEG Image, 400x558 pixels)
Thursday, January 20, 2005
I'm still using Blogger's comments -- as that requires a login of some sort and I like it more. I suppose it makes it a little more difficult, but such is life. But I wanted to play with trackbacks, in the easiest fashion possible...
Really, more often than not this is little more than a toy for myself...
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
And just like I said I was going to do below, here is a page containing an article and a flyer concerning the Doctor Who USA Tour Exhibition...
I'm going to be scanning in some documents fairly soon, and amongst them relates to the Doctor Who USA Tour from the 1980s. This website has some of the details -- I'll probably still scan in my version, since you can't make out any of the details in what is posted here, but there's still a lot of interesting information about the eventual fate of the Doctor Who USA Tour bus....
The whole site is interesting as you can see the othere exhibitions in the UK, but my own piece of nostalgia is obviously going to be on the US side...
As I don't have Digital Cable or Satallite, I don't get BBC America directly -- I usually visit friends or relatives when they have something that I want. But I'm intrigued by this -- especially if that makes BBC America more likely to be the US broadacster for Doctor Who.
And if you see this story among the links, I'm not sure I believe the full details of it, based on what I've heard from other sources. And neither does Outpost Gallifrey, which I trust even more...
The Sci Fi channel has a story about Galactica's Ratings.
They're good -- which is hopeful for more of the series in the future. Perhaps even more interesting, they're better than Star Trek: Enterprise, which can't be good for the Star Trek franchise, as generally you don't expect cable to outdo a network show.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
I love, love, love the comic book version of Fantastic Four. Sadly, I'm not as confident about this film version -- I think The Incredibles covered the family aspects of the property a lot more, and it looks like they don't really have a great grasp on the material based on the trailer.
But we'll have to wait and see, I suppose.
Monday, January 17, 2005
I think the various interviews concerning how to "win over" old fans is pretty interesting. I watched the original Battlestar as a kid, because, well, I was a huge Star Wars fan an this looked like a weekly Star Wars TV series.
I'm hopeful that the new series continues beyond this initial batch. It's a bit nerve wracking that they'll make their decision after only a few episodes will air, but that's the way television goes.
Good to see that the new series -- which is better than the mini-series -- got good ratings. Good for the future.
I'm also happy to see that A&E is willing to purchase more MI-5. Still, what about who is buying the new Doctor Who in the US? That's what I wanna know..
Friday, January 14, 2005
There's a scene between Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the President (Mary McDonnell) that goes into military and politics that's fantastic. This isn't an easy series --they make difficult choices and are in difficult places.
It's a bit disturbing that once again someone with a British accent is one of the enemies with Baltar (James Callis), as that's a bit of a genre cliche (especially when the actor playing Apollo -- who is also English -- does an American accent) but he's really quite good, especially one of the scenes with Starbuck.
Highly, highly recommended. Sci-Fi will be repeating the episodes during the week, check your schedules...
I said a year ago in some conversations with friends that I thought that the genre tv market was going to go down a bit, with the end of the various Joss Whedon series and the decline of Star Trek -- but with Lost, which almost certainly has some sort of SF/F twist, and now Battlestar Galactica, things are looking pretty good.
And that doesn't even include Doctor Who, which I have high expectations given what I know about the production and the creative staff.
Once again Reaching back to 1988 in St Paul, here is an interview with the late Jon Pertwee, on the Shockwave site...
An interview with one of the writers on the new Doctor Who.
My favorite bit is that Mark made the same observation that I did concerning the actor playing the Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, and that it's going to apply to the new series:
That’s exactly it. He’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. I think the show will surprise a lot of people and that, particularly, Chris will. He’s known for his intensity, his rather scary intensity, which he DOES have as the Doctor. And equally, if you know him in real life, he’s a really good laugh and a lovely man and it’s that sort of duality that he brings to it. He’s like a kind of crazy child, but then when he tells you off you quake in your shoes. It’s actually kind of a Tom Baker-ish quality, but in a completely different way.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
I wasn't sure if the commentary track would be interesting, but I was pleasantly surprised with it. It's one that touches on the production decisions behind this as well -- getting a series different from Star Trek or Farscape, the issues going into the changes from the original series and all of that sort of controversy related to it, and some hints towards what might be picked up in the series.
I think they overstate their originality at times -- while it's a quality miniseries, and they execute things well -- there are a lot of elements that are familiar to people that have seen shows like Space: Above and Beyond or Babylon 5 or Farscape. It's not completely derivative though -- and it's relevance to the modern political climate is more unique, and I think handles things a bit better than how Enterprise handled it.
I'm looking forward to the series starting tomorrow.
What I find funny about this story isn't that the short shortage isn't several months old -- we've seen pictures of the tiny blue aliens on Outpost Gallifrey, and apparently the story originated in Russell T Davies's DWM column -- but that the story is being picked up all over, including now in US papers...
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I've already got the first three seasons as individual seasons, and so I'll only pick up the fourth season when it comes out, but if I didn't, a boxed set of the whole series would be very cool indeed.
Oh, I find this very amusing. Of course, too many projects require midget actors!
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
I was going through Google Groups reviewing old posts that I made on usenet. I found one post from October 1994 containing a review of The First Season of Babylon 5 -- and here is the review:
Chrysalis features multiple story threads, all equally important to the show, advancing each character forward into an uncertain future. Threads that started all the way back in the pilot episode are tied together and expanded at this point. The season which began with a Narn attack on a Centauri base and the election of a president, ends with the destruction of a Narn base on behalf of the Centauri and the assassination of the president who was elected at the start. In between these events, we've been introduced to each of the characters, learning their strengths and weakness, and the mysteries that surround each one.
So how does B5 as a series rate? It is not perfect. There have been elements of weak dialogue, some weak actors, and some weak sets. The strengths of the series, however, far outweigh the weaknesses. Delenn and G'Kar are two of the finest aliens to appear in media Science Fiction; well acted, both alien and believable. Londo is surprising -- the character at first appears to be a parody, a strutting peacock teetering on the absurd, but this appears to be a slight of hand to hide a darker fate.
The long term themes of the series are entertaining, uncertain, and disturbing. This is what makes the series interesting -- what is Kosh, what are the Shadows? Who is Morden? What is behind Dukhat, Valen, and the culture and history of the Minbari? Why is it the dawn of the third age of Mankind?
It is rare to find a television show that encourages questions of this nature, and it's why I can rewatch episodes of Babylon 5 again and again and gain new insights and enjoyment. After an episode, past episodes gain new light, and new elements appear. The creators of the show are willing to take risks that other shows may not; I don't know what Babylon 5 will be like in a year, something that makes it fascinating to watch and speculate about. The alien species are multi-dimensional; just as there are multiple types of humans in personality and belief, not all of the aliens are the same either, and each alien is not just a series of stereotypes.
Another thing that distinguished Babylon 5 in its first season is that it hasn't shied away from controversial subjects. Capital Punishment in Quality of Mercy, labor relations in By Any Means Necessary, Religious differences in Believers and the nature of the soul in Soul Hunter. And in each case, rather than providing answers to the questions it raised, it left them for you to sort out. The audience is taken seriously, and the assumption is we can handle these issues.
The best episodes are those that deal with the main plot line of Babylon 5 -Signs and Portents and Chrysalis. Both have the strong presence of Ed Wasser as the Shadow representive Morden. For what we assume is a "big baddie" he is underplayed, reserved, polite, eerie...and therefore very creepy. He's fascinating to watch, and is the highlight of both episodes. S&P has the advantage that it isn't a cliffhanger, and I can't fairly grade Chrysalis until it is followed up on in the next few weeks. Both episodes, of course, ask more questions than they answer.
And that may be a problem. The primary failure of Twin Peaks was that once the questions were answered, there was little to keep the series going, and the new questions that replaced the old questions were weak. Evaluating Babylon 5 is a continuing process -- until the show is complete, I don't think a complete opinion can be made; if the payoff is weak, the previous episodes will be seem to be a setup for failure. If the payoff succeeds (which the few we've seen have so far) the previous episodes will be even more amazing.
Where is Babylon 5 going? I'm not sure. It's clear that this a show where almost anything could happen; something I haven't seen on SF TV since Blake's 7. I expect characters to die -- Garabaldi's fate has been previewed in Babylon Squared, and somehow I expect one of the ambassidorial assistants or Ivonova to meet a nasty fate as well. And someday, BOOM.
So let it begin. I'll be there.
And I was. Babylon 5 improved a lot after the first season -- seasons 2, 3 and 4, in particular, are all some of my all-time favorite SF television. And while I think the last season was by far the weakest, the payoffs for many of what was set up in the first season were there, and worth going back to.
I was intrigued to re-read this review of mine, because I've been saying that ABC's new series Lost could also potentially have a Twin Peaks problem, as it's not at all clear what that show will be like once the mysteries are resolved -- and if they even can be resolved. One of the advantages of the Babylon 5 series had is that there was always a sort of fixed end-point; though that was also part of the problem -- the last season of Babylon 5 became anti-climatic in many ways as it tried to tie up loose ends, and also had some last-minute additional subplots due to some production issues...
Monday, January 10, 2005
It's possible that if you were a hardcore fan of the original series you'll have problems enjoying the new series, but that series is available on DVD as well, and so can be enjoyed there. But to use a Marvel Comics comparison, this new series is Ultimate Battlestar Galactica; and I think it should be judged on its own merits.
I hadn't seen this before -- but it's a great site about all of the news concerning The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, especially with the new movie and new radio productions.
I saw Douglas Adams speak once; he was definitely ahead of his time.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Thursday, January 06, 2005
An interesting guide to various terms in fan fiction -- and while I'm not a fan fiction reader or writer, lots of terms apply to fan discussions in general.
We've had some discussion about having "Fan Jargon" panels at CONvergence, and there's historically been some resistance to an hour that focuses on thirty or forty year old fanzine slang, but if the panel can include a good amount of modern, internet slang, that's definitely something that would be worthwhile to see. And something like this might be a good start...
New BBC Science Fiction Radio Comedy. Stars Mark Gatiss, one of the new Doctor Who writers.
The Official Doctor Who website has more information about the series as well.
And you can listen to Radio 4 online!
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Outpost Gallifrey is predicting a March 26th start in the UK, and that's been my guess as well, based on what you can guess based on various other pieces of information.
It's apparently a new site, and so we'll see where it goes, and they should just stop production on the new movie as I'm expecting to be extremely disappointed, but a bunch of information about the classic 1960s run of the Fantastic Four on this site...
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
In the keeping an-eye on new Doctor Who people front, BBC America is showing Canterbury Tales, a revised version of the Chaucer stories.
Billie Piper, who will be the companion Rose in the new Doctor Who series, appears in episode 4, The Miller's Tale. It will air Saturday, June 29th....
As new episodes start up again, I'm starting to look around for fan Lost sites. Got any other good recommendations?
No idea if the movie is any good or not -- but still, always interested to see what happens with stuff like that...
Sunday, January 02, 2005
I'm assuming that this was written by Russell, given the title -- and now that I've read enough DWM columns by the new Doctor Who producer I've got a good feeling for his voice and it certainly sounds like him. And besides, any list that has both Twin Peaks and the first complete Doctor Who story I ever saw is worth looking at anyways...
Test your US geography -- it's a fun little game where the map of the US is a giant puzzle, and you can find out how far off your average state placement is...
Saturday, January 01, 2005
A nice little article about the virtues of the tie-in SF novel; with quotes from Jon Blum and Kate Orman (who I got the link from) -- especially the point that the tie-in novel is a great way to promote new writers, as they provide for some built in markets for the books as well.
And there are times that it works both ways -- Neil Gaiman started writing comic books featuring other chracters, and I noticed that on the most recent reprinting of his Sandman books, his name is now bigger than the title character -- something really unusal in comics...
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