TV Archives

Tuesday Tune: The “Star Trek” Fight Music Remix

One of the most iconic scenes of the original Star Trek series appeared in the Ted Sturgeon-written episode “Amok Time“, in which Kirk and Spock fought to the death to a music soundtrack that haunts me to this day.

Less haunting is this modern remix of that music…

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It’s hard to imagine the Doctor Who franchise being in dire straits, but that’s kinda what happened back in 1985 when the production was suspended for a year and it looked as if the show faced cancellation. But — for better or worse — the fans were having none of that!

In March of that year, a charity single was produced, written by the series’ unofficial continuity advisor Ian Levine and freelancer Fiachra Trench. That charity single — a sort of “Doctor’s Band-Aid” for the show — was “Doctor in Distress” but instead of featuring a “Who’s Who” of celebrities, it featured a “…Who?” list of celebrities. (The single was actually released under the artist name “Who Cares?”. Indeed…) To be fair, it did include four regulars from the TV series: Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), Nicola Bryant (companion Peri Brown), Nicholas Courtney (recurring character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and Anthony Ainley (the Master). The most famous other names recognizable (at least to me) are band members from The Moody Blues and Ultravox. Oh, and now-famous composer Hans Zimmer supplied the music for this high-energy nightmare that tries to summarize the entirety of the Doctor’s history.

Here’s the video of the outcome. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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One of the current viral videos floating about is Gotham Begins, a parody of the new pre-Batman series Gotham. That alone is worth a post — it’s funny and points out one of the flaws of the show — but it also gives me a reason to talk a little about the show.

First things first. Here’s the trailer:

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Friday YouTube: The Flying Nun

Decades before Sally Field was Peter Parker’s Aunt May, she was fascinated speculative fiction fans (I guess) on The Flying Nun.

She played a nun. That flies.

Oh, just watch.

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There’s no shortage of films that are being adapted to television and film…as I explain in an article at the Kirkus review blog: Read Them Now, Watch Them Later: Science Fiction Adaptation Watch.

Head on over an check it out!

TV REVIEW: Under the Dome Season 2

Stephen King’s Under the Dome‘s first incarnation was a novel published in 2009 (which I reviewed here). It was adapted for a TV series in 2013 (first season reviewed here), and was renewed for a second season in 2014.

If I disliked season 1 so much, why would I even bother with season 2? For one, I did generally enjoy the book despite its faults and since the show starts at basically the same place but diverges drastically from there it’s interesting to see a kind of alternate universe version of the same concept. And, truth be told, I don’t hate having a show I can watch with half my attention while I’m writing reviews.

One of the major complaints I had about season 1 is that it’s very episodic–a new character would be added and killed in the same episode and played as though I’m actually supposed to care about this person. A fight club would be started and then disbanded and never spoken of again. This seemed to occur somewhat less in season 2, though it did still have some components that only happen in a single episode and then everyone avoids talking about.

A new twist in the series is that there were a series of strange events that mimicked the Biblical plagues. They seemed to be aiming for a significant theme on that early in season 2, but it petered out by mid-season. As with the episodic plots, it seems like there are either multiple writing teams working piecemeal without much interaction to aim at a cohesive whole, or a single writing team with the attention span of a toddler.
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The Wrap is reporting that HBO and Warner Bros. TV will adapt Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation trilogy (consisting of Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation) as a television series, to be written by Interstellar screenwriter Jonathan Nolan. (Nolan is already adapting Michael Crichton’s Westworld.)

The Foundation series is ostensibly about the rise and fall of a Galactic Empire. Its central figure is Hari Seldon, a mathematician who developed “psychohistory” as a way of predicting the future of very large groups of people. Seldon established a Foundation to minimize the inevitable Dark Ages from thirty thousand years down to a mere millenium. (Hence the name of the first novella that comprised the fix-up Foundation novel, “The Thousand Year Plan.”) The entire foundation universe is comprised of a few more novels, and eventually Asimov tied them together with his also-popular Robot novels. (I talked about the entire series last year at Kirkus review in a three part article.)

Hopefully, this adaptation of Foundation will finally be moving forward. (See what I did there?) It’s been talked about before

[via io9]

TRAILER: Doctor Who 2014 Christmas Special

The holidays are approaching…and that can only mean one thing! Well, actually, it means several things, but one of the most enjoyable is the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Here’s a trailer for this year’s special…

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Keir Dullea and Douglas Trumbull worked together on the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey as actor and Special Photographic Effects Supervisors, respectively. They would come together again 5 years later on a television show called The Starlost, which was created by Harlan Ellison. Ellison distanced himself from the production before the first episode even aired on Canadian TV…but there were 16 episodes anyway. Ben Bova served as science advisor.

Here’s the video of Dullea/Trumbull pitching the series…followed by all 16 episodes.
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Variety is reporting that Netflix has acquired rights to produce an original series based on best-selling 13-book franchise A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (the pseudonym of Daniel Handler).

The dark comedy series follows the exploits of three children after the mysterious death of their parents and the bad fortune that often befalls them, usually at the hands of evil Count Olaf. The Lemony Snicket books have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide.

There are not many details knows about the production att his point, other than that the series will be produced in association with Paramount Television, who also produced the 2004 Jim Carrey film Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. No expected start date was given.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke was being adapted into a miniseries by the SyFy channel. Now, word comes from Variety that Clarke’s novel 3001: The Final Odyssey is getting the same SyFy miniseries treatment.

Ridley Scott’s production company Scott Free Prods. and Warner Horizon Television are developing the miniseries. Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker, Clayton Krueger and Stuart Beattie will serve as producers. Beattie is also the screen writer for the project. His writing credits include the Pirates of the Caribbeans films, 30 Days of Night, I, Frankenstein and the upcoming Tarzan and Halo films. The estates of both Kubrick and Clarke have offered their full support for the 3001: The Final Odyssey miniseries.

3001: The Final Odyssey continues the story that began with Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”, which was the basis for the 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey (written concurrently with the classic Stanley Kubrick film). That book spawned three sequels:

  • 2010: Odyssey Two (1982, also adapted to film)
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (1987)
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)

3001: The Final Odyssey picks up the story of Frank Poole, the astronaut from 2001, when his freeze-dried body is discovered 1,000 years after the events of the first book. Humanity fears that the Jovian monolith, believed to be monitoring Earth so that its alien creators could pass judgment on it, will soon receive the go-ahead to obliterate human civilization. I hate when that happens.

SPOILER ALERT: If memory serves, this had a ridiculous ending that was appropriated by the filmmakers of Independence Day. Let’s hope this adaptation cleans that up a bit, hmm?

This week, George R.R. Martin appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to promote the release of The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. Interviews on the show are always entertaining and engaging, not only because Meyers does his homework ahead of time, but he’s also a witty guy. This interview was no different, and even George got quite a few laughs.

Here are two videos from the show in a handy YouTube playlist. In the first one, Amy Poehler and Seth quiz George on his A Song of Ice and Fire series. In the second one, which did not appear on the air, George judges GoT costumes…

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Friday YouTube: Holy Savings Bonds, Batman!

When he’s not saving Gotham City from evildoers like the Joker and the Penguin, Batman is doing his part to support the war effort, as evidenced by this 1966 television commercial.

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I was perusing Sci-Fi Chronicles: A Visual History of the Galaxy’s Greatest Science Fiction edited by Guy Haley, and found out that I am perhaps even less of a sci-fi trivia king than I thought.

Head on over to Kirkus Reviews to see the 10 things that I learned about Sci-Fi from reading Sci-Fi Chronicles

…And the adaptation news keeps coming!

Deadline is reporting that Horrorstör, the unique supernatural mystery novel written by Grady Hendrix, is being adapted for television!

Horrorstör is a haunted house story of a different color. It’s about the strange goings-on at the Ikea-like Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio…where employees arrive every morning to find the store trashed. The store cameras reveal nothing, so a small group of brave employees agree to work the night shift, when they encounter unspeakable horrors. Horrorstör is unique in that comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

The rights to Horrorstör have been acquired for development as a television series by The Jackal Group, a co-venture between Fox Networks Group and Gail Berman. Berman spearheaded the development of the successful Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series, another series that mixed horror and humor, as Horrorstör was obviously designed to do. That bodes well for any show that might develop from this.


[Click to embiggen]

If you are of a certain age and inclination, you have fond memories of Gerry Anderson’s numerous Supermarionation shows like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Fireball XL5, and Terrahawks.

His son Jaime Anderson is the Director of Anderson Entertainment, the film production company set up by Gerry Anderson MBE and his wife Mary. Today the company continues to develop projects from Gerry Anderson’s personal archive as well as managing his estate and existing work.

The Kickstarter for Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm recently met its funding goals in four days, and a pilot for the show is heading into production.

We got to talk with Jamie about the project…


JEFF PATTERSON: Firestorm looks like an ambitious project. Can you give us a little history behind it?
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Author Ann Leckie announced on her blog that her first novel, Ancillary Justice, has been optioned for television!

Ancillary Justice is a story about Justice of Toren, who used to be a starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers under service to the Radch empire, but who now appears on a remote, icy planet as a human soldier on a mission of revenge against the Lord of the Radch. The book explored themes of gender and swept the awards in recent months, winning the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. The sequel, Ancillary Sword, was released earlier this month.

The option for Ancillary Justice was purchased by the Fabrik production company and Fox Television Studios, who together produced Burn Notice and The Killing. Leckie says she worked closely with the production company to make sure that the show would remain true to its exploration of gender, to which she was assured it would not be “whitewashed”.

As Leckie notes, an option doesn’t necessarily mean the show will make it to production, but it’s an important first step. And not only is this good news for this specific title, but also for the genre at large because it means that Hollywood still sees speculative fiction as a viable source of good stories. But then again, when have they stopped?


Maria Alexander is a fiction writer who lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats and a purse named Trog. Her debut urban fantasy novel, Mr. Wicker, was just released in September 2014 by Raw Dog Screaming Press. Publishers Weekly calls it, “(a) splendid, bittersweet ode to the ghosts of childhood.” Follow Maria on her webiste or on Twitter as @LaMaupin.

Four of the Dumbest Things Done with Swords in Film and Fiction

by Maria Alexander

Everybody loves swords. Writers and readers alike enjoy a bladed tale because of the mystique this ancient weapon wields. I’m a big sword lover myself. Last year, I wrote a blog post that went viral called, “Why I Hate (Most) Photos and Drawings of Women with Swords.” In the post, I outline my qualifications to speak on the subject, which include many years of studying stage combat with top Hollywood fight masters and four years in the art of Shinkendo. I’m also a veteran author and screenwriter, so I understand the challenge of balancing fantasy and fact when creating an entertaining story both for both fiction and film.

But too many writers and filmmakers are unaware of the realities surrounding bladed weapons. Most of what they know about swords they learned from the movie Highlander and in turn they propagate those fallacies in their work. That’s like learning about planes from the movie Flight. Here are a few facts about swords that, if heeded, could actually create better stories.
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I feel so, so guilty for liking these videos so much. Such a simple idea that consumes so much of my time when there are so many other more important things to do.

And then this makes it seem all worthwhile: “There ain’t a man alive who doesn’t wanna get his butt washed in the Jedi fountain…”

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Hey, would you look at that! Actual science fiction on SyFy? Who knew they could do that?

Here’s how their new show Ascension is described:

In 1963, the U.S. government launched a covert space mission sending hundreds of men, women and children on a century-long voyage aboard the starship Ascension to populate a new world. Nearly 50 years into the journey, as they approach the point of no return, a mysterious murder of a young woman causes the ship’s population to question the true nature of their mission.

Ascension stars everybody’s favorite Cylon, Tricia Helfer, and a bunch of others I’ve never heard of. Also intriguing is that this is a mini-series (lasting 6 hours), so SyFy doesn’t have to sully their network with more actual SciFi than is necessary. Yes, I’ll tune in to see if it’s any good.
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