STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Finally Gets a Launch Date

CBS has finally announced an official release date for Star Trek: Discovery (until/unless it changes again). The show will premiere Sunday, September 24th at 8:30pm Eastern on both the CBS network and CBS All Access, the digital subscription service that will run the rest of the series. CBS All Access will also have the second episode ready to air that night as well.

From the press release:

STAR TREK, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns to television 50 years after it first premiered with STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will follow the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new lifeforms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

(We won’t quibble about the fact that we’re now fifty-one years out from the premiere of Star Trek, right?)

The show will roll out in two segments: eight episodes between September 24 and November 5, with the back half of fifteen episodes hitting the air in January 2018. So, not all at once like you would get on Netflix. It’s running like a standard network program, only on the digital side rather than the broadcast side.

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Star Trek: Discovery takes place roughly ten or so years prior to the adventures of Kirk, Spock, and the gang during the original Star Trek, and appears to be set in the “Kelvin” timeline following the movie reboot. Cast includes Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Isaacs, Michelle Yeoh, Rainn Willson, James Frain, and Rekha Sharma.

In addition, CBS All Access will be producing a weekly aftershow, Talking Trek, which will follow a weekly schedule along with Discovery. Outside the United States, the show will air in Canada on Space and CraveTV (OTT) and on Netflix in 188 other countries.

 




H2O #157: In Which We Finally, Reluctantly Discuss Politics

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“You two need to do the political episode. Yes, it’s time. You both have enough opposing views, but you also have the utmost respect for each other. There’s no way that this could get out of hand.”

OK. Our discussions of politics have generally been brief, mainly because we disagree on a great many things. But that doesn’t stop us from being friends and colleagues. Naturally, the conversations sometimes tend to get a little … energetic, let’s say? But ultimately it comes down to having enough respect for each other to at least listen to what the other one says, even if he’s wrong.

Now it appears that’s caught up with us…

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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ROGUES GALLERY #56: All the World Has Been Waiting on WONDER WOMAN

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For many, it’s the moment of truth. For Wonder Woman, it’s a moment 75 years in the making, and we were all watching the box office numbers to see if

  1. DC and Warner Bros. could deliver a solid for-real superhero movie that respected the source material, and
  2. Audiences would go see a superhero movie with a woman in the lead role

The answer to both, thankfully, is “yes” — although we had very little doubt about the second item on the list. The first? Not so much faith in that one.

The Rogues gather ’round the table to discuss Wonder Woman, complete with spoilers, and we take a look at not only the execution of the idea on the part of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins, but also the idea itself. A modern-era superheroine movie, one that could set the stage for other superheroine movies (Black Widow, anyone?) besides Marvel’s Captain Marvel.

From the story to the cinematography to the visual effects to the acting, and even the controversy surrounding the social reception the movie has received, we take a look at all of it.

 

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Maria Foss, Jeff Hackworth, Dan Handley, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt

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Adam West Dead at 88

Adam West, best known for his portrayal of Batman, has died following a battle with leukemia. He was 88.

A family spokesperson confirmed the news that West had passed away Friday night. “A true American icon and beloved father and husband, he will be dearly missed by his family, friends, and millions of fans around the world,” the spokesperson said. A statement from the family reads, “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero.”

Born William West Anderson Walla Walla, Washington, the son of a wheat farmer and a singer, West grew up in Seattle after his mother, Audrey Speer, re-married. After getting a degree in literature and psychology from Whitman College, he spent two years in the U.S. Army helping to establish military television stations.

Eventually, he found his way to Hawaii, where he teamed up with childhood friend Carl Hebenstreit for The Kini Popo Show, and his career as an actor had begun.

Making his way to Hollywood, West spent several years working in supporting roles and commercials. It was his stint as “Captain Quik” — a James Bond styled character in commercials for Nestlé Quik — that caught the attention of producer William Dozier, who was casting for a new television adaptation of the Caped Crusader. West won out over Lyle Waggoner (who would go on to play Steve Trevor opposite Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman) and spent three seasons with tongue planted firmly in cheek for his take on Batman.

(West was even considered to play an American James Bond for Diamonds Are Forever, but turned it down because he felt the character should remain British.)

“The tone of our first show, by Lorenzo Semple Jr., was one of absurdity and tongue in cheek to the point that I found it irresistible,” West said in a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television. “I think they recognized that in me from what they’d seen me do before. I understood the material and brought something to it.

The show, which debuted in January 1966, was an immediate hit, but the role of Batman was both a blessing and a curse, as it made West a star while at the same time typecasting him for years. He would forever be associated with the comedic version of the Dark Knight, and producers stumbled over that fact when considering him for other roles. West struggled for years after Batman was cancelled, making his way with personal appearances.

“The people who were hiring, the people who were running the studios, running the shows, were dinosaurs,” West said in the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West. “They thought Batman was a big accident, that there was no real creative thought, expertise or art behind it. They were wrong.”

After several guest appearances in shows like Fantasy IslandHart to Hart, and Laverne & Shirley, his career got a reboot of sorts with voice work in animation. He would reprise his role of Batman — albeit a slightly more serious version — in SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, both sequels to the original SuperFriends.

Guest roles would continue to come in along with voice work — RugratsBatman: The Animated SeriesSpace Ghost Coast to CoastThe Adventures of Pete & PeteAnimaniacs — until nostalgia worked its magic and he was suddenly a star again.

When asked by Variety what Batman has meant to him over the years, West replied, “Money. Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman. There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. And they’d be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman. And I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.”

More recently, West found new fandom from his work as Quahog Mayor Adam West on Family Guy, Seth McFarlane’s animated hit on Fox.

From an interview with IGN: “I had done a pilot with Seth that he had written for me. It turned out we had the same kind of comic sensibilities and got along well,” he said. “When Family Guy came around and Seth became brilliantly successful, he decided to call me and see what I was doing. He asked if I would like to come aboard as the mayor, and I thought it would be neat to do something sort of absurd and fun.”

After Batman ’66 had a successful run in the pages of DC Comics, the popularity of the show inspired DC and Warner Bros. to bring it back in animated form. West returned to his role as the Caped Crusader in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and the upcoming Batman vs. Two-Face. (West had finished recording his tracks back in October).

Co-star Julie Newmar, one of three actresses to play Catwoman opposite West, said in a statement: “Stellar, exemplar, a king to the end. He was bright, witty and fun to work with. I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people.”

Burt Ward, who played Robin and remained friends with West in the fifty years since the show, released this statement: “I am devastated at the loss of one my very dearest friends. Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together. Our families have deep love and respect for each other. This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Night.”

 




H2O #156: In Which We Discuss Shows We Need to Watch to Get Caught Up

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Back to our regular (ish) schedule this week with a discussion of some of the shows we’ve missed and/or fell behind watching, and the need to catch up in order to be the well-rounded, totally informed information brokers we claim to be. From Wynonna Earp to Game of Thrones to 12 Monkeys, there are plenty of shows we need to binge-watch in order to get current.

But first: answering listener e-mail on why the new format for this show is the new format for this show.

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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Vampire Adaptation THE PASSAGE Adds Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Fox Television has added several to the cast of The Passage, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, according to several trade publications.

Gosselaar is just coming off the recently cancelled Pitch, also at Fox, and will star as FBI Agent Brad Wolgast, who is sent to retrieve a young girl from foster care. The girl, 10-year-old Amy (Saniyya Sidney), was the subject of Project Noah, a government experiment that went horribly wrong (as they do) and made the test subjects into fierce killing machines called “virals”. These virals used to be human, but are now monsters feeding off human blood.

Essentially, it’s a post-apocalyptic vampire story.

The story is told in two different timelines, with Amy being rescued at a survivors camp by Peter (B.J. Britt) and Alicia (Genesis Rodriguez), who take Amy in amid a world where the virals have overwhelmed the planet. Once they realize she’s got a unique ability to communicate with the virals, it becomes a quest story as they try to get Amy back to Colorado because she could hold the key to saving mankind.

Amy’s escape comes after Wolgast, on orders to take her to Project Noah, forms a bond with the girl and decides he can’t turn her over to secret government lab types. They almost make it to Canada when they’re caught. In the book, Wolgast’s fate isn’t too clear, unless you really really pay attention to the end.

Also in the book, Peter is the protagonist of the back half of the story, which picks up years after Wolgast’s part of the tale. So either the first half makes up the first season, or the producers are planning for multiple years. Because it’s not a simple story. (He’s also younger, but hey…)

Based on the trilogy by Justin Cronin (the first of which is reviewed here, and the last of which is reviewed here), the show got a pilot order in January, but was delayed and will now start shooting in Atlanta this month. Liz Heldens is writing the pilot, and Matt Reeves will executive produce along with Scott Free Productions’ Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker.  Marcos Siega will direct the pilot and also executive produce.

 




ROGUES GALLERY #55: Tis the Season for Finales

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For a lot of the shows, it’s season finale time, and for some of the shows, it couldn’t come at a better time. Because more than a few of these story lines are drifting into “oh, please” territory, and we have concerns that if they continue on their present trajectory…. well, maybe one more season for some.

Arrow ended with another burning, because it’s the season finale and something has to burn. Supergirl ended with a big thud named Mon-El, and The Flash ends … without the Flash?

 

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jeff Hackworth, Thomas Townley, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt

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We’re All Mary Poppins, Y’all — Talking GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #119


Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
Written & Directed by James Gunn
Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures
136 minutes, rated PG-13

 

In this special episode of Level Eleventy-Seven, we take a spoiler-ish look at the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with a few digressions along the way, of course…).

From Groot’s greatness (and not so greatness) to Yondu’s arc, from the wild “Hey, that’s…!” beginning to the climactic battle between the stars, Vol. 2 has all the pieces that make a Marvel film … a Marvel film. It’s got humor, pathos, family issues — more than just Peter and his father — great character moments, and Groot.

Plus, plenty of possible setups for the next chapter, as Vol. 3 will be James Gunn’s swan song (at least for now). What pieces of this story will inform the last installment in the first trilogy? Will it be… nope, you gotta listen.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Jason Hunt

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Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominees Announced

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, located on the campus of the University of Kansas, has announced the list of finalists for this year’s Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction.

Director Christopher McKitterick made the news public today in a press release. The Sturdeon award, along with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, will be presented on Friday, June 16th, as part of the annual Campbell Conference. This year’s conference celebrates the career of Dr. James Gunn, noted science fiction author and founder of the Center.

 

The nominees:

Nina Allan, “The Art of Space Travel,” Tor.com, 27 July 2016
Amal El-Mohtar, “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, eds. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, Saga Press, 2016
Carolyn Ives Gilman, “Touring with the Alien,” Clarkesworld, April 2016
Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom, Tor.com, February 2016
Ian R. MacLeod, “The Visitor From Taured,” Asimov’s, September 2016
Sam J. Miller, “Things with Beards,” Clarkesworld, June 2016
Dominica Phetteplace, “Project Empathy,” Asimov’s, March 2016
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Future is Blue,” Drowned Worlds, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2016
Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey, Tor.com, 13 October 2016

Theodore Sturgeon’s heirs helped Dr. Gunn establish the award in 1987 to recognize the best science fiction short story of each year. Sturgeon himself was known for his award-winning short fiction.

Winners will be the Guests of Honor at a reception following the conference. For more information about the Gunn Center, click here.

 




Dr. Bashir Fights Google For CONTROL In Section 31 Outing

Section 31: Control
Written by David Mack
Published by Pocket Books (March 2017)
Mass paperback, 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501151705

That’s exactly what it is: Dr. Julian Bashir and his cohorts are up against a galactic Google that started as a surveillance program on Earth and has since morphed into a hot mess of an Evil A.I. that we all know Google will become one day.

It’s kind of a political thriller, kind of a cautionary tale, and to be honest, it’s a little disappointing.

David Mack is, in my book, one of the better Trek writers in the cabal at the moment, but the Section 31 stories are feeling less and less like Star Trek and more like James Bond vs. Hydra in Spaaaaace! The way Julian Bashir has evolved as a character, too, has become less and less interesting. Is it just me? Am I just getting old? I find I have less patience than I did for stories that just don’t feel like they gel.

Not to say it isn’t well-written. It is. Mack is still a very very good writer, and the craft of the book is top notch. Plus, he’s very good at getting the character voices right. Not only Bashir, but also Garak, Data, and Lal. But it’s the story that didn’t really engage me much. The idea of an over-reaching computer program that gains sentience has been done several times in Trek, and by now it’s become a tired trope. In addition to that, it was very easy for me to bounce out of the story and equate the Uraei program with the pernicious Google A.I. that reads our e-mails, watches the web sites we visit, and calls up advertisements based on our online behavior.

Besides Star Trek — with Vejur and the Borg and Nomad — there’s also The Terminator‘s Skynet, Minority Report‘s PreCrime division, Battlestar Galactica‘s Cylons, Ultron, Mycroft, HAL9000, Hex, all giving us massive pieces of technology that infiltrate our lives and spy on us “for our own good”. We even just got a version of it with AIDA becoming human and losing her marbles over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is it a sign of the times? Are we collectively trying to warn ourselves against the Coming of the Google?

It never ends well.

There are plenty of moral dilemmas here. Bashir is so fixated on taking down Section 31 that he doesn’t really think through the possible consequences of his actions. And it would seem his days as a doctor are past, as he doesn’t really act like one in this story. Plus, there’s the question of what happens if/when Uraei is disabled. Or can it be removed from the galactic network? Is it so ingrained in the Federation’s computer systems that there’s no beating it? And who’s in charge, Uraei or Section 31? What happens if you cut off the head of the secret Evil Organziation? Do they fall apart? Go to ground? Regroup around a new leader? Come back stronger?

Bottom line: read it for the enjoyment of reading David Mack’s work, not for the wholly original concept of a vast network of artificial intelligence digging into every part of our lives.




TIME FREAK: Because Time Travel Fixes Everything, Right?

Deadline reports that the romantic comedy Time Freak has a new sales partner in Good Universe, which will be handling transactions during and after the Cannes Film Festival.

Haven’t heard of it? First for us, too.

The project is based on an Oscar-nominated short film by the same title, with a brilliant physics student named Stillman (Asa Butterfield) building a time machine after being dumped by his girlfriend (Sophie Turner). Using time travel, Stillman tries to fix all the mistakes he made in order to save the relationship. Skyler Gisondo co-stars as Stillman’s best friend Evan, who gets dragged along the way.

This will be the directorial debut for Andrew Bowler, who has written and acted in plenty of projects for TNT, MTV, and TLC. He’s a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has also been in several Funny or Die projects.

Time Freak is produced by QC Entertainment, which partnered on Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and Rhodes Entertainment.

Now, having gone through a series of “time travel fixes” attempted by Barry Allen over on The Flash, we know this is going to go horribly, horribly wrong. The advantage Time Freak may have is that it will be played for comedy. Because at this point, we can only laugh at the idea, because the drama of it has been completely played out by now.

 




Ridley Scott Developing Sci-Fi Block for TNT

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During the upfront presentations this week, Turner announced that Ridley Scott will be shepherding a new block of programming for TNT.

Scott Free Productions, along with Turner’s Studio T, will be developing a block of programming that will include hour-long series, short form programs, and materials in other formats (web series? social media content?), with Scott and David W. Zucker in executive producer positions along with Jordan Sheehan and Clayton Krueger.

Scott, who teamed with TNT on the 2007 miniseries The Company, said, “Being given the creative license to generate and develop science fiction programming in a variety of formats for TNT is very exciting. This genre is one of my favorites, and there are an infinite amount of original and innovative story ideas out there that we are looking forward to exploring with TNT. It is very exciting for all of us.”

Scott has been involved in several notable science fiction projects over the years, including the original AlienBlade Runner, and The Martian. For television, his company has produced The Man in the High Castle and BrainDead, among numerous projects.

Sarah Aubrey, EVP Original Programming at TNT: “We’re looking to create a programming block filled with the kind of imaginative, awe-inspiring storytelling that has made science fiction such a beloved and enduring genre. Ridley Scott has created some of the best and most popular science-fiction movies of all time, and we look forward to bringing his fans even more of his smart, sophisticated stories.”

The announcement comes ahead of Alien: Covenant hitting theaters (read Mr. Harvey’s non-spoiler impressions here).

 




VENOM: Tom Hardy to Play Eddie Brock, Fleischer to Direct

Multiple outlets are reporting that Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) is set to play Eddie Brock in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man spinoff, Venom, set to release October 5, 2018.

While all the news has Hardy “in negotiations” — which could fall apart at the last minute, of course — Sony posted on Twitter that Hardy has the role, so it could be that everyone is hedging their bets.

According to The Tracking Board, this version of the story will not be spun out of the Spider-Man story, even though that’s where the character originated. Does this mean we’ll see Hardy’s Venom during his vigilante phase in San Francisco? If Spider-Man is removed from his story, Venom’s origin will have to be altered so that Brock obtains the symbiote in some other fashion. Maybe still in the church, but not after Spidey discards it.

Venom was introduced in 1988, created by David Michelinie, Todd McFarlane, and Mike Zeck. The character has mainly been a villain, an alien symbiote that needs a human host to survive. First appearing on film in Spider-Man 3, Venom’s Eddie Brock was played by Topher Grace. The Hollywood Reporter says that this project is a big priority for Sony, and that it will launch a new set of Spider-Man universe projects, the next one being a Silver Sable/Black Cat story (possibly the same one announced here). Could Venom be used to spin out Black Cat? They do have a bit of a history..

It’s not the first time Hardy has been courted for comic book projects since the Dark Knight trilogy ended. Both DC and Marvel projects have had him on the radar — Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse — with no deal falling into place. The Oscar nominee (for The Revenant) is also reported to be a big fan of the character.

Venom was written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing along with Amy Pascal. Columbia Pictures execs Palak Patel and Eric Fineman will oversee the project on the studio side.

For the director’s chair, Sony is looking to Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, who was also in the running for the studio’s revival of Ghostbusters when it was going to be Ghostbusters 3. Fleischer has also directed episodes of Santa Clarita Diet (which our Team Zombie discusses on the Zombpocalypse Now podcast) and was in the running for other comic book movies such as Ant-Man and Suicide Squad 2.

This will be the first Spider-Man related story produced by Sony following their deal modification with Marvel that allows the webhead to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. That deal followed several announcements by Sony that they were developing several films in the Spider-Man universe, including Sinister Six and a movie centered around Aunt May. All of that has fallen by the wayside in the aftermath of the Sony hack scandal and changing of the studio execs, but it appears some projects are still viable enough for Sony to re-visit.

 




ROGUES GALLERY #54: Barry is Still Dumb, Supergirl Needs Focus

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This week: it seems that Barry Allen is still not through making dumb decisions. And even though we now know the identity of Savitar, there really doesn’t seem to be any kind of a plan from the writers room. And Supergirl has yet to get out of being about all the lovebird characters and get back to being about … well… Supergirl.

Arrow continues to slide into irrelevancy. Powerless is cancelled, but we have Black Lightning waiting in the wings.

Plus: we’ve decided to weaponize Mr. Townley’s recaps and unleash him on Gotham

Watch a special LIVE edition of episode 53 here on SciFi4Me TV

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jennifer Wise, Jeff Hackworth, Will Tramp, Jason Hunt

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H2O #155: In Which We Discuss Planet Comicon 2017

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It’s over for another year.

Planet Comicon has come and gone, and this year we got a great opportunity to repeat what we did at Worldcon: broadcast live online from the event floor. With the help of our friends at TV25.tv, we were able to stream interviews and live coverage from PCC pretty much all weekend.

In this episode, we take a look at how things came together and how the weekend went. Our post-Planet analysis continues, and we’re still posting video to SciFi4Me TV, so check back frequently for updates. We think we may have an angle on this live video thing, but we’re still getting a feel for what the equipment can do, should do, and what our team is able to deliver — which is a lot!

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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