The First Four Episodes of 12 MONKEYS are Amazing Time Travel Drama

This review is entirely full of spoilers for the first four episodes of season three of 12 Monkeys. Don’t read any of it unless you have watched the first four episodes.

The first night is a play in four acts. Quite amazingly, the first four hour night of the ten episode third season of 12 Monkeys forms a complete story, starting with Cole and Cassie being separated and ending with the reunion and Cole finding out the truth about their baby. He didn’t find out from her, of course, but he confirmed the truth in her eyes.

 

Season 3, Episode 1 “Mother”
Written by Terry Matalas
Directed by Terry Matalas

The first act has Cole (Aaron Stanford) searching for Cassie (Amanda Schull). We see what the tuning forks are for! They are Titan detectors. The search has been long and futile and everyone is worried about him. They should be, because he is desperate and miserable and stretched too thin. It’s also obvious that they aren’t getting anywhere with their purpose of saving the world. Jones (Barbara Sukowa) sends Hannah (Brooke Williams), her daughter, to save Cole from himself. She can hardly be spared since with old Jennifer dead she is the leader of the daughters and with Deacon (Todd Stashwick) gone/possibly dead she’s also head of security. Why not Whitley (Demore Barnes) as head of security? Must be because of the earlier mutiny.

None of this makes Cole listen to Hannah when he thinks he’s found Titan. They fight, and Cole gives her the injection meant for him. Remarkable how like siblings they are.

Meanwhile Cassie is a bird in a gilded cage. She bonds with a young acolyte and tries to escape.

This dress is just a little too Handmaid’s Tale for me. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Cole encounters a masked figure with three lights on his chest in the forest outside of Titan. They fight and the other guy keeps winking out of existence when Cole has the upper hand. He gets to Titan just as it’s leaving, and just as Cassie is caught in her attempted escape. They see each other briefly. Cole runs towards her, towards certain death, and someone wearing a suit with three lights on his chest — or maybe it’s two — grabs him and they both disappear. The figure takes his mask off and it’s him! James Cole. So Cole himself saves himself from himself.

This is a paradox in more than one way. It brings a future and a past self together in close proximity, which tends to make things go boom. Future Cole says the suit helps with that. It’s also a paradox in that future Cole could not go back in time to save himself unless he survived to go back in time to save himself. But he remembers saving himself and tells Cassie a few minutes later, “well, I had to get here somehow.” He tells Cole that Jennifer is the key and Cole has to rescue her from 1921 France. Future self is wearing Cassie’s watch and he tells Cole that as long as he wears the watch he will always find his way back to Cassie.

This is a wonderful scene, maybe because it’s Aaron Stanford playing against himself. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic Emerson Hotel, beautiful in its decay. Somehow I still expect people to be renting rooms by the hour. Future Cole is far kinder to his past self than I would expect. He must have come to terms with some of the guilt and responsibility he always feels. Future Cole is there to save Cole and he gives him the hope he needs, however tenuous, as well as a change in direction.

It’s the staff’s century off. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Jennifer is in the middle of the first world war. She saves herself with “99 Red Balloons”. I’m so glad you’ve seen it so I don’t have to explain that. She also sees a vision of four people in suits with lights, carrying a box. She calls them the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Cassie attempts suicide after the failed attempt, saying to herself, ”You can’t have him.” She’s going to land right in front of the army, where the Pallid Man (Tom Noonan) is preaching. The dominatrix, Magdalena (Hannah Waddingham), who was plaguing Cassie goes back in time and keeps her from doing it and kills the young friend, Arianna (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) proactively. Past Magdalena then pushes a button on the suit and immolates herself.

Cassie gives birth in a bathtub and Magdalena pushes the midwife aside so she can grab the baby as soon as it’s born.

I was lucky enough to meet Aaron Stanford at KC Comicon last year. I told him that while I reviewed 12 Monkeys I didn’t always write about how much I loved it. He told me to feel free to gush. Well, I’m gushing! It’s so exciting that the show is back, and as good as ever. Almost every shot is a work of art. The red balloons sequence, while horrifying, was also beautiful and loaded with symbolism. The characters are exactly who they were. I’m still thrilled at the abundance of female characters with their own stories. I know Cassie is a damsel in distress, locked in a tower, but it’s only temporary. This episode is mostly setup but it was still amazing.

We also have a new gadget in the mix, an entirely new way of time traveling. The time-coats should change things. This is at least the third type, after the machine and the red leaf tea.

 

Season 3, Episode 2 “Guardians”
Written by Sean Tretta
Directed by David Grossman

We see the four men in bowler hats and time-coats carrying a box. They remind me of A Clockwork Orange.

Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) is stuck in 1921 in France. She is desperate to go home and trying to get a message to the future. She hits on theater as the way to do it. What follows is hysterical. She steals from the best of pop culture: Charlie Chaplin, E.T., Jaws, and Alien. Finally she tells the story of the 12 Monkeys to a stunned audience. The theater owner tells her that no one understands time travel. She says that the smart ones do. He says to do something with space, or magic. He tears the poster off the wall. It must be what the creators of 12 Monkeys feel like.

I think Emily Hampshire speaks French, tap dances, sings and performs better than Jennifer Goines. It is said that a Leonardo Da Vinci can’t draw like he can’t draw. Emily Hampshire can’t act like she can’t act.

Finally she gets some attention — from one of the guys in the bowler hats. Cole and Jones show up in time to save her. Jennifer is pissed that it took so long. She sent out lots of clues, including an album. Of course Jennifer used a pseudonym, which didn’t make it easy. Since future Cole handed Cole a newspaper article about her being blamed for murdering the theater owner, it means they never did figure it out!

She tells them about the paradox in a box. Jones is fascinated with the time-coat. Cole pushes Jennifer to give them some primary info and she pushes back. I’m glad she pushes back because he’s being a jerk.

The high priest, Mallick (Faran Tahir) of the 12 Monkeys tells Cassie she needs to escape but she is suffering the loss of her child. She asks for just one look at him and gets offered a tour of the museum about him. She steals the gold pocket watch hanging there.

Olivia (Alisen Down) and Ramse are together. She has taken months to travel to Sam. I think she’s leading Ramse down the garden path. Finally they get to the camp where his now grown son is. Unfortunately, he’s been mortally wounded in a recent attack. With his dying words he tells Ramse to stop the Witness and that Olivia knows how to do it. Ramse has to deliver the coup de grace. Smothering someone is not a merciful way to kill someone. He has a gun and surely his son is worth wasting a bullet on.

Jennifer runs into the people in the bowler hats that she saw in her vision. Cole and Jones come to the place she saw them at and get shot. Cole keeps going and finds the room with the box and gets shot twice more. He meets Magdalena and she pushes the button and resets time. Cole hears a baby crying and reaches for the box as time changes around him. Oh, so close to the son that he doesn’t know he has.

Simultaneously, Cassie sees her child put in the box and the four guardians sent through time with him, which fulfills her wish of seeing him one time. I really hope that there are airholes in that thing.

Since Cole and Jones were reset back to before they rescued Jennifer, Cole shows up to her time show and applauds. He tells her that they need her and came back for her, and she says, “That’s much better.”

Basking in the glow of time. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Team Splinter knows it’s a child the guardians are carrying through time to hide. They can guess it’s the Witness. They have a time coat, or vest, and know a little more now about how it’s being used. Katarina leaves it up to Cole to decide whether Jennifer should stay or go back to 2017. He gives her the choice because he knows he screwed up with Cassie when he undid their time together without telling her. Jennifer is thrilled that she’s invited to join.

The episode ends with Ramse outside with Olivia as his captive.

So the band’s getting back together. Cassie still needs to be rescued and we need to find Deacon. This was a very sad episode because Sam died and Cassie and Cole’s baby was taken away from them. The humor and life that Jennifer brought balanced out some of the grief.

 

Season 3, Episode 3 “Enemy”
Written by Christopher Monfette
Directed by David Grossman

Olivia and Ramse come in through some kind of airlock. The room is full of birds. Is it an early detection system for the plague? Have we seen this before and I didn’t notice? Cole talks to Olivia and Jones talks to Ramse because Cole is too close to Ramse to make a rational decision about his state of mind. Ramse tells Dr. Jones that Sam is gone. Olivia tells Cole that she was the girl in the lab that they left behind and that she was raised in a box. She also hints about his fathering the Witness, saying that they could have killed him many times but didn’t.

They do some tests on Olivia and find out that she is very strong and indestructible. After all, she survived Jennifer’s attempt to kill her by dropping her into an empty pool.

Next we find out what happened to Deacon. Yay! He was sewn together by Imhotep — I mean the high priest whose name is actually Mallick. Deacon hallucinates his abusive father while he heals. It’s not a philosophy I adhere to, the idea that abuse makes you stronger. We find out a bit more about his past. After he gets through his ordeal, he repudiates the father hallucination and says he just needed something to hate to get him through it. Mallick teaches him a series of directions to follow.

My prince has come to rescue me. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Jones tortures Olivia by putting her in the chair and decreasing the relay speed so that she splinters over and over. It’s a terrible torture and I can’t stand to watch it. Hannah can’t stand to watch it, either. She puts a knife to a scientist’s throat to make Katarina stop. While they are arguing, Cole takes Olivia to three months before and drops her into the deepest, darkest dungeon he can find. She breaks and tells them when and where they can kill the witness.

While she is telling them that, Deacon is on his mission. It makes us think he is off to kill the Witness, but he rescues Cassandra instead!

Jennifer has a bad feeling about the mission. She tries to persuade Cole not to go. Then we flashback to after Sam died, and we see that Olivia told Ramse that the Witness was Cassie and Cole’s child. They devised a plan to kill Cassandra before she and Cole ever met, so that the Witness would never be born.

This episode is a showcase for Todd Stashwick’s talents. He gets to play Deacon under extreme duress, and also plays the abusive father. He does a great job exploring the psyche of both characters. The father is, of course, how Deacon sees him. I hope going forward that the character is less ashamed of his childhood. It wasn’t his fault.

Hannah and Katarina get to hash out some stuff. Hannah makes some comparisons between Jones as she is and the monstrous tales she grew up with. Jones gets confronted with her complete and utter ruthlessness. To be fair, Olivia did push her buttons.

And Cole: always thinking and observing. He figured out how to break Olivia. I do love a smart man. But she had given him the key earlier. There was a real “don’t throw me in the briar patch” quality to her telling him that she was raised in a box.

 

Season 3, Episode 4 “Brothers”
Written by Travis Fickett
Directed by Joe Menendez

Cole and Ramse go back to the Emerson in 2007. They come up with a plan to get some guns; after all, they’re supposed to face a hundred of the Witness’s followers when they attempt the assassination. They get some guns from a gunrunner how owns a bakery. A little action, some puns. Ramse sneaks away from Cole and goes to the hospital to kill Cassie. He shoots some blonde in a ponytail. I know it’s not her because the hair isn’t light enough.

Jennifer is having visions of a dying man/woman. She tries to get answers from Olivia. It’s the only confrontation where I feel Olivia thinks she is with an equal. She is jealous of Jennifer’s talents.

Cole confronts Ramse about being gone. He accuses him of going to see his mother. Ramse says he should go see Cassie. Cole doesn’t think he should do it, but he does tell Ramse what clinic she’s at.

Deacon and Cassie fight their way out of Titan with some help from the priest. I still can’t see him as a good guy because he looks like he’s going to become a mummy some day. They are two years in the future and the facility is destroyed. Cassie immediately starts looking around for clues or a message. Deacon is devastated. She finds a butterfly, and under it, buried syringes. Their way home.

Ramse shows up at the clinic, which is locked and empty. Cole gave him a test and he failed it. They confront each other, and Cole finds out that the Witness is his son and that Ramse was going to kill Cassandra. Cole chases Ramse down and shoots him.

You know what? I don’t care. I really don’t. It’s the last betrayal for me. I have often defended Ramse in the past but this is too much. I hate that he betrayed Cole again. I hate that Cole found out that his child was going to be the Witness in this way. I hate that Ramse trusted Olivia over Cole. I think he was suicidal and I hate that he made Cole shoot him.

But then he begs Cole not to undo it and I know he’s suicidal but maybe he’s realized that he’s poison for Cole and he needs to let go. It’s still terrible because it’s going to mess Cole up, bad.

Brothers at a happier time. Well, happier for this show, anyway. (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Cole does what he knows he shouldn’t do. He goes to where Cassie actually is, and he tells her he can’t do this alone and he needs her to come home.

When he gets back to the facility he runs to where Olivia is kept and puts a gun to her head. At least he knows the right person to blame. She says he needs her to find his son and he doesn’t shoot.

The alarm sounds that indicates someone is coming in on the time machine. First it’s Deacon, then Cassie. Cole looks like a miracle has occurred. Cole and Cassie embrace. Deacon is eating his heart out, but Jones is grinning. Then Cole looks a question at Cassie that he cannot ask and she nods, and I cry.

Wow. This was a sad episode and totally 12 Monkeys in that we can’t get the good without the bad. Kirk Acevedo and Aaron Stanford acted their hearts out and one of the things that made this a good episode, despite the fact that they actually made Cole kill his brother, is that there was so much Cole in this episode.

One thing that confused me is why the chase was so urgent. Of course, if Ramse had gotten away, Cole couldn’t let him stay in 2007. But Cole told Ramse that the outbreak he had told Ramse about was actually states away, and I thought that that meant Cassie was states away. She wasn’t. She was close by.

These first four episodes have themes of captivity as well as torture. The poor baby in a box reminds me of Schroedinger’s cat. He’s a paradox in a box. Will he be the Witness or will they save him first? But he’s not the only one locked up. Jennifer was stuck in France for five years, captured by time. Cassie does her lying-in while being held captive by their enemies. Deacon heals while a prisoner, and is not allowed out until he sets fire to, basically, the door of his prison. Of course he doesn’t know that Mallick is waiting for Cassandra to give birth before Deacon can save her. Olivia was raised in a box, like Cole and Cassie’s baby so far, and then thrown into an oubliette. I have no idea if there’s a higher meaning to all of that.

Jennifer still has her love affair with time. How you could love it when the gift of prophecy makes you crazy? She likes to put her hands in the light from the time machine. It was funny when Dr. Adler (Andrew Gillies) caught her sleeping in the chair. I think Jennifer is right, we need to remember that she is not just a primary to get information from, she’s an integral part of the story.

Everyone is home and has completed their own stories. In Ramse’s case, permanently (maybe). Time to move on to the next quest, trying to save the baby before he becomes the Witness. That’s what I would be doing.

 

 




Simon Pegg & Nick Frost Launch Stolen Picture with SLAUGHTERHOUSE RULEZ

[Banner Image Courtesy Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license]

In partnership with Director Edgar Wright, Actor/writers Nick Frost and Simon Pegg have upended the Zombie Romantic Comedy (Shawn of the Dead, 2004), the Buddy Cop Comedy (Hot Fuzz, 2007), and the Alien Invasion Comedy (The World’s End, 2013) with their Cornetto Trilogy.

Now Pegg and Wright are setting up their own production company, Stolen Picture. And their first announced release may do the same for the Harry Potter “Unsuspecting Kid Goes to Weird Boarding School” genre. Slaughterhouse Rulez, co-written by Crispian Mills and Henry Fitzherbert and directed by Mills, introduces a “wide-eyed new boy” to a very British and very ancient boarding school.

Like Harry Potter … with added blood, laughs, and despoiling of nature.  (Photo courtesy Harry Potter Official Facebook page)

Instead of the Harry Potter formula of magic, dragons, and long-buried secrets, Slaughterhouse Rulez introduces a bit of Hellmouth opening to the school routine. According to Deadline Hollywood, the everyday horrors of a British boarding school education are forgotten after “a controversial frack site on prize school woodland causes seismic tremors, a mysterious sinkhole and an unspeakable horror is unleashed.”

Pegg and Frost may get the most of the initial publicity for Rulez, but co-writer and director Crispian Mills has a rather colorful history himself. The son of actress Haley Mills, he wrote and directed Pegg’s 2014 movie A Fantastic Fear of Everything. And before turning to writing and directed, Mills led the British band Kula Shaker.

So if nothing else, Stolen Picture’s first production has an interesting take on the usual school story.

 

 




What’s Baking In The Blumhouse Kitchen?

Jason Blum has discovered a way to take unwanted films, produce them with a low budget, and walk away from the theater laughing with pockets filled with money. His work through his production company, Blumhouse, has become reliable enough that Universal has staked him for a 1o-year deal to balance out the blockbuster and family films they release.

Blum went into filmmaking, looking for the reaction from people. His father owned an art gallery and it frustrated Blum that “the world was tiny, and to appreciate contemporary art, [people] needed a history of art, a formal education.” Movies reach many people and, especially with the horror genre, the instant connection and reaction is visibly present, quite the opposite of what he grew up with.

With his production company, he developed a formula that helps everyone involved. The budget starts with $5 million, more for sequels. If the project stays under that budget, they keep the remaining balance as well as creative control. Blumhouse will provide a guide to filmmakers on how to get more commercially appealing results. However, the filmmaker still has the final say.

They do not provide a release date for the films until it is finished and the production company sees the final result and decides whether to move forward or to shelve it. And that is a possibility.

This works. Blumhouse has nearly $2.8 billion in box office grosses, TV studio productions, and book releases. Since they are not spending a lot, it allows them to pick up the projects no other company sees fit to do.

And Blum is proud of that: “It’s the great thing about the movie business. Most of the successful movies we’ve done, no one else wanted to do.”

So far, Blumhouse is having a good year. They’ve had two huge box office hits – M. Night Shyamalan’s Split and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, plus J.D. Dillard’s Sleight and recently premiered Akiva Goldsman’s Stephanie. And it appears this mini power house has no signs of slowing down. Let’s take a look and see what Blumhouse is cooking in their kitchen.

Truth Or Dare

Truth Or Dare comes from writer-director Jeff Wadlow (Bates Motel, Kick Ass 2). Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) is finalizing her deal to star.

The story follows a college student in Mexico who is talked into playing a supernatural version of Truth or Dare. However, the game doesn’t stop there and follows her back home.

The screenplay is adapted from a story written by Michael Reisz, Wadlow, Chris Roach, and Jillia Jacobs. It will be produced by Blum and Blumhouse’s Couper Samuelson with Wadlow and Roach executive producing.

Only You

Only You will star Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo and is written and directed by Jacob Estes (Mean Creek). The plot is under wraps; however, it has been explained to be thriller involving time travel.

Blum will produce with Oyelowo executive producing with Couper Samuelson, Jeanette Voltron, and Jay Martin.

Oyelowo was nominated for a Gold Globe for his role as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. He will soon be seen in Paramount and Bad Robot’s new Cloverfield movie. He also voices Agent Kallus in the animated series Star Wars Rebels.

Sweetheart

The upcoming survival horror film Sweetheart comes from Sleight director J.D. Dillard. It will star Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Containment, Spartacus: Vengeance), Benedict Samuel (Gotham, The Walking Dead), Kiersey Clemons (Dope), and Emory Cohen (Brooklyn).

The plot for this project is also being kept under wraps.

Blum, Bill Karesh, Dillard, Alex Theurer, and Alex Hyner will produce. The story was co-written by Dillard, Theurer, and Hyner.

Sleight was Dillard’s feature directorial debut and took in $1.7 million on it’s opening weekend. He is also currently attached to direct and co-write the remake of The Fly for Fox.

Firestarter

After the premiere of Akiva Goldsman’s Stephanie at the Overlook Film Festival in Oregon, the director and Jason Blum announced they were teaming up again for a new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel, Firestarter.

The novel is about a young girl with pyrokenisis and is used by a government agency who attempts to harness her powers as a weapon. It was made into a film in 1984 and starred a young Drew Barrymore.

Stephen King and Goldsman have had a long relationship. King has given his blessing for Goldsman to do this and will also receive a producer credit on the project.

Goldsman is writing the script with Scott Teems (Rectify). Goldsman also pointed out that they would be focusing on the original novel instead of the 1984 film adaptation. Other projects that Goldsman and Blum have worked on include Paranormal Activity 2, 3, and 4. He also wrote King’s adaptation for The Dark Tower.

No release date has been given.

Halloween

Since the last two remakes of the Halloween franchise from Rob Zombie did not pan out like expected, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green are teaming up with Blumhouse to remake the classic horror film. They state their goal is to ground the series in a more realistic state.

According to McBride:

It was just very simple and just achieved that level of horror that wasn’t corny and it wasn’t turning Michael Myers into some supernatural being that couldn’t be killed. That stuff to me isn’t scary, I want to be scared by something that I really think can happen. So, for us, we were like we have to make sure that this is something we actually would want to see or else its’ not worth doing. We came up with a take that we thought was cool, and then we actually went and pitched to John Carpenter, and he loved it. He was into it. It was like insane to have his seal of approval and to have him respond to where we were talking about taking Michael Myers next.

Carpenter will join as an executive producer on the new film with Blumhouse Productions.

The series has had its ups and downs during the last twenty years. Even with the renewed interest of horror films in the late 90’s, thanks to Scream, Halloween only received a lukewarm reception, even with Jamie Lee Curtis making a reappearance.

Maybe this time around, McBride and Gordon Green can properly scare the audiences into the theater.

Glass

Spoiler warning for M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.

At the end of the multiple personality thriller, it was revealed that the film takes place in the same universe as the 2000 film Unbreakable. Now, Shyamalan has announced that Glass will be released next year and act as a sequel to both Split and Unbreakable.

He hasn’t revealed anything about the story, but that Glass will finally answer nearly two decades’ worth of questions about a possible sequel to Unbreakable, which will feature the return of Bruce Willis as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass and how they interact with James McAvoy’s Split character and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke.

Shyamalan’s script has been completed. He will direct with Blumhouse producing. Currently the released date is January 18, 2019.

The Purge

The success of The Purge franchise surprised many, showing that audiences were intrigued by the concept of a twelve-hour freedom from the law. The original film had a budget of $3 million and grossed over $89 million. The following two installments each earned over $110 million. Currently the fourth film will be released in July 2018.

However, Blumhouse has now announced they are teaming with Syfy and USA to also bring The Purge to the small screen.

Franchise creator James DeMonaco and Jason Blum spoke at the NBCUniversal’s upfront and described the series as “an entirely new chapter in America’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness.” Unlike the films, the series would focus on the other 364 days of the year and how the law affects the people.

The Purge television series will air on Syfy and USA in 2018.




2016 Nebula Award Winners Announced

On May 20, 2017, the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America converged in Pittsburgh to hand out the  annual Nebula Awards as part of the 51st annual Nebula Conference. The Nebula Banquet was hosted by NASA astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren.

Included in the honors were the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, among others.

Here’s the list of winners, followed by their fellow nominees:

Novel:

  • Winner: All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Ninefox GambitYoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

Novella:

  • Winner: Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Runtime, S.B. Divya (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • ‘‘The Liar’’, John P. Murphy (F&SF 3-4/16)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette:

  • Winner: ‘‘The Long Fall Up’’, William Ledbetter (F&SF 5-6/16)
  • ‘‘Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea’’, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 2/16)
  • ‘‘Blood Grains Speak Through Memories’’, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/17/16)
  • “The Orangery“, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/8/16)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)
  • ‘‘You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay’’, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 5-6/16)

Short Story:

  • Winner: ‘‘Seasons of Glass and Iron“, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies’’, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
  • ‘‘Sabbath Wine’’, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • ‘‘Things With Beards’’, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 6/16)
  • ‘‘This Is Not a Wardrobe Door’’, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine 1/16)
  • ‘‘A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers’’, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com 3/2/16)
  • ‘‘Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0’’, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 3/16)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation:

  • Winner: Arrival
  • Doctor Strange
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’
  • Zootopia

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:

  • Winner: Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
  • Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Dawson)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

 

2017 DAMON KNIGHT GRAND MASTER AWARD: Jane Yolen

KATE WILHELM SOLSTICE AWARD:  Peggy Rae Sapienza (Posthumous), Toni Weisskopf

KEVIN O’DONNELL JR. SERVICE TO SFWA AWARD: Jim Fiscus

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Charlie Jane Anders also won the Crawford award earlier this year. You can read the SciFi4Me article here.

For more information on the Nebula Awards and the Conference, visit the SFWA website.

 




MST3K Recap: 1106, STARCRASH

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1106

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Our older readers who were around in ’77 will remember the way Star Wars washed over the culture of the day. You think it’s popular now, folks? Back then, it was everywhere. Toys, clothes, disco music (it was the seventies, after all), everything was Star Wars. And if it wasn’t, it was as close an imitation as they could get (this reviewer has in her collection a promo recording from a radio jingle company for a package called “The Music Force”, complete with R2-like bloops & whistles). And sure as sunrise follows sunset, there came the imitations. Slavish, cargo-cult space operas that panted after the original while simultaneously learning nothing from it. Starcrash is just one such movie.

This week’s cold open has the SOL crew making like college kids and playing spin-the-bottle. A rare appearance of Crow in drag here, as it’s usually Tom that does the honors in that direction. After the show open, the Mads introduce the “band-eat-o”, a food & condiment-covered bandolier based on the salsa-filled sombrero, which is apparently a thing somewhere. Not Mexico, I’m guessing. The SOL crew with BB-Servo, namely Tom’s head on top of you-know-who’s body. Alas, Lucasfilm’s legal team work very quickly, and Tom’s dreams of licensed merchandise are dashed in a matter of seconds.

The movie is, as noted, one of the flock of me-too movies that came after Star Wars, an Italian quickie turned out by someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars but had a copy of the book (true). It involves galactic smuggler Stella Star (yes, really) and her friend Akton who get hired by the Emperor of the Galaxy (Christopher Plummer!) to find out what’s happening with a secret weapon developed by the evil Count Zarth Arn. Also, David Hasselhoff shows up as the emperor’s son.

RELATED ~ BOMB SHELTER Drill #3: Jay and Kevin Get Caught in a STARCRASH

This is cargo-cult film making at its finest: kit-bashed spaceships, corny robots, all the accouterments with nothing to back them up. It’s actually amazing how much this movie resembles an updated version of a standard ’50’s space saga in the Flash Gordon/Rocky Jones mold. The “lived-in” universe of Lucas & McQuarrie is nowhere to be seen. The robots look like they were assembled with erector sets. There is no grounding realism, no universe building to speak of. It faded as quickly as it came, forgotten with a host of others.

A word about the guy who plays Akton, aka the-guy-who-isn’t-William-Kat: you might not be familiar with Marjoe Gortner, but he’s got a fascinating history quite apart from this film. Raised on the faith healing & revival circuit, he became famous as “The world’s youngest preacher” as his family trucked him around all over the place, using him as the principal draw for their “ministry”. He continued in this world until adulthood, when he left in the most spectacular way possible: filming a “stealth” documentary showing him at work and behind the scenes, exposing the faith healing circus for what it was (and, alas, still is). The movie is called Marjoe, and definitely worth a look. He had a bit of a movie career afterwards, but has settled into the background since.

Anyhow. First host segment. Crow has whipped up yet another screenplay to capitalize on ersatz sci-fi quickies, World War Space. It combines equal parts Candyland, space bureaucracy, merchandising, and gibberish. As these things go, it’s no Earth vs Soup, but could probably get legs in modern Hollywood, more’s the pity.

The second host segment has Jonah dressed up as Akton and generally acting like a typical self-absorbed celebrity until it turns out he has no control over his vaunted so-called powers. He immediately falls to pieces and runs off, sobbing, leaving the disappointed ‘bots in his wake.

In the third segment, genius investor Freak Masterstroke (Jerry Seinfeld) comes by Moon 13 to hear the Mads’ pitch for a fly-in drive-in, a lunar theme park, and various other items that get shot down hard. He tells them to turn Jonah & the ‘bots into Apps but flies off before they can secure funding. Hey, maybe they should try Kickstarter. I hear that sometimes works.

After the movie, Jonah gads about as the Count while Crow & Tom relentlessly attack with torpedoes and cheesy catchphrases, leaving the Mads to wonder if they have finally been driven mad. Quoth Kinga: “I don’t even know anymore.”

In  her Planet ComicCon appearance, Felicia Day stated that she considered either Avalanche or The Beast of Hollow Mountain as the worst show of the season, but for my money this one lays over both of them easily. The cheap sets, the Hayden Christensen-level acting, the excruciating writing all combine to form an absolute mess that only serves to remind you of other, better movies you could be watching. No lie folks, this is a toughie to get through. We’re talking Castle of Fu-Manchu tough. But the gang pull us through, bless them. The host segments are a bit uneven this time around, but the riffs keep us going through what could have been an unbearable slog.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck never realized how important perms & leather bikinis were to saving the universe. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




HBO Heads for LOVECRAFT COUNTRY with GET OUT Director Jordan Peele

[Banner image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers/Jarrod Taylor]

If you read Mindy Inlow’s SciFi4Me article a few weeks back, you already know that HBO is preparing for the end of Game of ThronesSeveral thousand (OK, four five) GoT spinoffs are now being developed. But thanks to Get Out director Jordan Peele, there’s going to be at least one horror adaptation among the fantasy epics.

Earlier this week, Deadline Hollywood reported exclusively that Peele and HBO, working with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros Television, are adapting Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel Lovecraft Country as an hour-long drama. According to the article, the producers are aiming to make “an anthological horror series that reclaims genre storytelling from the African-American perspective.” Misha Green, co-creator of WGN’s historical drama series Underground, will write the pilot episode and serve as series showrunner.

Lovecraft Country begins as a road trip story in a slightly off-kilter 1950’s America.  Atticus Black comes home to Chicago from a tour of duty in Korea. He discovers his estranged father is missing, and the few clues remaining lead him on a journey to Ardham, Massachusetts … and Lovecraft Country.

Matt Ruff, author of Lovecraft Country © 2006 Michael Hilliard/MHHM

If the television version of Lovecraft Country aims to tell stories in an anthology format, there’s a wealth of folklore to tap into. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the series tells the story in Ruff’s novel. Will the series continue to explore a Lovecraftian inspired mythos specific to the novel? Or will it move into folklore-inspired stories based on the African-American experience – like the paths taken in movies such as To Sleep With Anger (1990, Dir. Charles Burnett), Eve’s Bayou (1997, Dir. Kasi Lemmons) or Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012, Dir. Benh Zeitlin)?

Jordan Peele’s Get Out maintains a 99% Fresh Rating at Rotten Tomatoes. (image courtesy Get Out Official Facebook page)

Howard Philips Lovecraft (1891-1937) has, to put it mildly, a complicated legacy in the horror genre. Alongside his undeniable imagination and creative energy is a clear record of unabashed racism.  Perspectives on HPL vary wildly; passionate defenders like anthologist S. T. Joshi (visit his blog and scroll down to the 11-24-15 entry) contrast with authors like Daniel Jose Older, who launched the petition that ultimately moved the World Fantasy Convention to drop  HPL as the image of their award in 2015.

Joshi protested the decision by returning the awards he received from the group. You can check our article on the new award design here.

Perhaps it’s easier to deal with the views of an author when they’re safely removed from our own time by a hundred years. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), my favorite Great American Novelist, created the quintessential heroine in Hester Prynne and acted as a higher-brow creator dark gothic tales along with his contemporary Edgar Allan Poe. Hawthorne also held the deeply racist views of his time.

Richard Klayman, in his essay “What Should We Make of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Racism?” quotes Hawthorne biographer Philip McFarland about the discomfort in admiring the superlative work of people who have very real faults. “We would prefer that those we admire be admirable in every way.”

Unlike Hawthorne, HPL is of our time. He is intimately connected to the changes in society in 20th and 21st century America. Books like Lovecraft Country specifically address his complex legacy and movies (like Get Out) telling socially relevant stories through the lens of the horror genre insure that we’ll be debating HPL for some time to come.

 

 




Netflix To Reveal The Secrets Of THE DARK CRYSTAL

There are a few films from my childhood that I religiously watch at least once a year. Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal is one of these. So, you can probably guess the level of my excitement when Netflix announced this week that they have greenlit a 10-episode prequel series called The Dark Crystal: Age of Rebellion.

The show returns to the world of Thra and takes place six years before the 1982 movie. It will follow three Gelflings who discover untold secrets about the tyrannical Skeksis and seek to overthrow them.

The Jim Henson Company will produce. Louis Leterrier will direct as well as executive produce with Henson’s Blanca Lista. Rita Peruggi will serve as producer. Jeffery Addiss, Will Mathews, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach will lead the writing team. They have also brought back Brian Froud, who was the creative designer for both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

The original film was co-directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz and grossed over $40 million on a $16 million budget. It is only one of three feature films Henson directed in his career, along with The Great Muppet Caper and Labyrinth.

It has been reported that the series will feature “state-of-the-art creatures created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Brian Froud.” Between the beautiful work that Froud has done with the original film and Labyrinth, Leterrier’s powerful storytelling, and the quality of Netflix produced shows, it seems this could be an amazing show. Netflix’s Cindy Holland said in a statement, “I can’t wait for families around the world to see how we bring these unique characters to life.”

And unique they are.

Henson’s original inspiration for the visual aspects of The Dark Crystal came after he saw an illustration by Leonard B. Lubin in a 1975 edition of Lewis Carroll’s poetry showing crocodiles living in a palace, wearing elaborate robs and jewelry. He then used his short lived The Land of Gorch, which takes place on an alien world with no human characters, as the film’s conceptual roots. Co-director Frank Oz states that Henson’s intention was to “get back to the darkness of the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” believing it was unhealthy for children to never be afraid.

So, Henson wrote a 25-page story called The Crystal while snowed in at an airport hotel.

Henson chose Froud as concept artist after seeing one of Froud’s paintings in the book Once Upon a Time. Froud’s inspiration came from Swedish painter and illustrator, John Bauer, known for his landscape and mythology based work.

The Skeksis were inspired by the seven deadly sins, having to double up on a few since there were ten Skeksis. Froud originally designed them as deep sea fish, but later changed them to a mix between predatory birds and dragons, with an emphasis on giving them a penetrating stare.

As for the Mystics, they were designed to be more connected to the natural world, released of all materialistic urges unlike their Skeksis counterparts.

When the film was released in December 1982, it came with mixed reviews. It was a darker film than Henson’s previous films, causing some concern for parents. Plus, it had the competition of Tootsie and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. However, it brought in $40 million and became the 16th highest grossing film of 1982 in North America as well as a favorite with fans of Henson and fantasy.

The original film is gorgeous. As a child and even now as an adult, I’m easily swooped into the fantasy world that Henson and team created. I always recommend this film to people since it is not your typical Henson film. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to see it again on the big screen and was in complete awe and yes, talking with the film (quietly).

I am excited to see how the prequel will be and can guarantee that people will find me imitating the Chamberlain’s sing-songy “MMMMMMM” till the show is released later this year.

Check out the teaser and let us know what you think!

https://youtu.be/OGzVYyV_Jsg




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.

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Team Zombie Reviews ALIEN: COVENANT

Alien: Covenant (2017)
Screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper
Story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green

Directed by Ridley Scott
Scott Free Productions/Brandywine Productions/20th Century Fox
122 minutes, rated R

Team Zombie got a chance to attend a press screener of Ridley Scott’s latest foray into the universe he created over 30 years ago, and Mr. Adair and Mr. Harvey sit down with Miss Inlow to have a chat about it. It… isn’t pretty.

Timothy: “Science Lady” is Karine Oram, played by Carmen Ejogo.

Dustin: I can’t remember names, you know that.

Timothy: “Capable Pilot Lady/Tennessee’s Wife” is Maggie Farris, played by Amy Seimetz.

Dustin: I liked her, but nope. Not going to stick.

Timothy: She was good in Wristcutters: A Love Story and Upstream Color, and she’s a director and writer in her own right.

Dustin: What are you doing here, with this?

Timothy: Well, considering one of the problems with this film is how it is crap at establishing relationships between characters, or even defining most of the characters outside of the jobs they do, making them either interchangeable or making some people – you, for example – have to use nicknames like “Science Lady” to remember what they actually do in the film…

Dustin: You decided to try and help me by telling me their names and who played them. You know this doesn’t work, right? Beth from The Walking Dead was “Daughter-Fodder” for two years, Tim. Two years.

Timothy: I continue to hold out hope. Demián Bichir played Sergeant Lope, the head of security. His character was married to the security guy who got sick and, well, spoilers, I suppose. That guy was Nathaniel Dean, playing Hallett, who we know was married to Lope because the Wikipedia page says so.

Dustin: I do know who played the young couple I liked, who did the things on the ship and stuff. That was Jussie Smollett and Callie Hernandez. I don’t remember the names of their characters because the film doesn’t care about that stuff either.

Mindy: So are you two going to sit here and throw shade at the film or just let people cut the chase and hear what you really think about Alien: Covenant? Sheesh. Hey Folks-at-Home? Listen to these two tell me all about the movie they saw, here on this special movie edition of Zombpocalypse Now. Then tell us what you think and we’ll be back with more undead things next week.

 




Ridley Scott Developing Sci-Fi Block for TNT

[featured image from PROMETHEUS, 20th Century Fox]

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.

https://twitter.com/SonyPictures/status/865629713225572352

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.

 




MST3K Recap: 1105, The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1105

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There seems to be an unspoken rule with some monster movies to go as long as possible before actually showing the creature. Whether in the name of building suspense, or (more likely) saving money on the effects budget, more often than not you’re lucky if, when sitting down to a 50’s – 60’s-era monster film, you get a proper look at the thing before the third act. Much as we make fun of the Japanese rubber-suit kaiju movies, at least they delivered the goods. Conversely, this week’s experiment, The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956), is basically a western-themed Lifetime movie interrupted by a claymation dinosaur.

The episode opens with painting day on the Satellite of Love. Tom is accidentally a cubist, and Crow manages to recreate “Tippy” and the pirate from the old Art Instruction Schools advertisements. The invention exchange consists of an instant disco cannon that will look awfully familiar to My Little Pony fans, and a demonstration of how the Titanic could have been saved with a giant hot water hose. (Also, as an unrelated aside, Kinga looks really good in a captain’s hat)

Basically, the movie revolves around a Mexican village where the cattle have been disappearing. Fortunately for them, there’s a clean-shaven handsome white guy in town to make it all better. The town’s most eligible bachelorette is in love with him, but engaged to be married to his bitterest rival. No fair guessing how that turns out. There’s also father-and-son team who are there for the heartstring-tugging duty. When the dad gets offed nobody bothers to tell the kid which, you know, makes total sense. Meanwhile, the cattle (and less vital cast members) continue to disappear in a flurry of giant muddy footprints. Finally, at just over an hour in, the monster itself deigns to show up. Eventually, Our Hero lures him into some quicksand, and that’s that. As cowboy-dinosaur films go, this one’s pretty much the bottom of the heap. And that’s saying something.

In the first host segment, the gang get to talking about their own dream monster movies. Tom, being Tom, wants to go for an arty sort of thing, a gloomy character piece about a wandering monster just looking for someone, anyone, to terrorize. Crow, on the other hand, comes up with a brain-free summer crowd-pleaser about growing up when you’re already 200 feet tall. Money quote: “Bro-Zilla will be the hit of the summer, creating synergy with and between all of our corporate subsidiaries!” How quickly they learn.

In the second segment, Tom presents is new fall line inspired by the movie.  Crow is wearing a fetching ensemble that creams “50’s Mexican stereotype”, while Gypsy demonstrates that an outfit can never go out of style if it’s never been in style in the first place. The Mads approve, though they don’t care Jonah’s one-button shirt. Fair warning: there is a wardrobe malfunction, so try not to look directly at the pasty white skin without some sort of eye protection.

The third segment is…well, see, just before it in the movie, we get treated (treated?) to one of those scenes that comes from out of nowhere, adds nothing to the story but bewilderment and confusion, then bugs off just as abruptly. It seems to be some sort of traditional festival or other–no explanation is given. Just a parade of people dudded up to beat the band. Jonah & the bots speculate on how in some movies this would be a cue for a major set piece, or a plot point, or at least something. So in the host segment, the ‘bots gad about in the weird festival costumes while the humans (Jonah & the Mads both) are slowly driven mad, trying to figure out what it all means. It’s pretty funny, actually, with Max getting the best lines in this viewer’s opinion.

Post-movie, the SOL gang discuss other movies that would have been improved by having the characters be eaten by dinosaurs (I’m totally with them on Mrs Doubtfire, btw). They then proceed to turn My Dinner with Andre into a dino-fueled action spectacular.

So, a low-budget monster-lite movie from the golden age of the drive-in. Right up the show’s alley, in fact. Lots of good riffs here, and the tone was consistently funny throughout. Westerns don’t pop up on the SOL that often, but when they do they tend to be memorable (Gunslinger, anyone?). The dinosaur is just the frosting on top: i.e., a thin layer plopped on at the very end full of empty calories and making your teeth ache. This one looks to be a fun one to go back and rewatch, as they really dig in to the movie’s problems and let rip.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is only amazed the cute kid didn’t wind up befriending the dinosaur. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hits Us Over and Over with Emotion Hammers — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #118

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 422 “World’s End”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and we have got confirmation that the show will be back next season, only on Friday nights (more on that later).

Aida/Ophelia takes crazy to the extreme with her Scorched Earth policy, and it looks very much that Jemma… wait, what just happened? Fitz is still broken a bit, and we have to wait to learn the fate of Philinda. While Coulson and May do get to have a few moments about the bottle and what led to drinking it, we don’t get everything we’d like to see between the two of them.

Plus: the return of the Ghost Rider! Chasing the Darkhold, and all the terrible that comes with it, including the organic body Aida inhabits. Because it comes from a very bad place.

What happens next? Where are our heroes being held? Will this be the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.?

 

Next season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes way for Inhumans, which will have an 8-episode running following Once Upon a Time on Friday nights.

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: The SANTA CLARITA DIET Season Finale!

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the first season finale of the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet! It’s Zombpocalypse Now!


Season 1, Episode 10 “Baka, Bile and Baseball Bats”

Written by Clay Graham, Directed by Dean Parisot

Timothy: Could you cough a bit more? And maybe tap on the table a few more times?

Dustin: I was sick, and you know it. And I… tap on things. Sometimes. Not all the time.

Timothy: Mmmm hmmm. You know I can’t cut all of those out, right?

Dustin: You know I don’t think about that at all, right?

Mindy: While these two descend into petty bickering, as is their wont, I would just like to point out that we did get the podcast back under 35 minutes for the first time in weeks, which would be even more impressive if the actual episode of Santa Clarita Diet we were talking about was actually over 30 minutes itself, but hey. We take our victories where we can. Also, for whatever reason, we again have a lot of air noise in the recording that fiendishly resisted removal, so maybe Mr. Harvey needs to check on the recording gear and see what the issue there is. We’ll keep you apprised, because we do want the listening part of this thing to be as pleasant as possible. 

Stay tuned for a special Movie Review edition of Zombpocalypse Now, out later this week, where Tweedledee and Tweedledum over here will explain to me what went wrong with the latest film in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant. Be advised that they swear a lot, so bleeping will be plentiful. They really are not meant to be out among the civilized peoples. 

Dustin: Hey…

Mindy: ALSO, if you enjoy this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes and Podcasts.com, because that helps new listeners find us, and that’s always nice. If you don’t enjoy this podcast, it’s Tim and Dustin’s fault.

Timothy: Hang on…

Mindy: AND, please listen to all the other great podcasts we have on SciFi4MeRadio, because very few of them have as many squabbling children as this one.

Timothy: Lady has a point.

Dustin: It’s a fair cop. 

Mindy: We’ll see you all next week, where we’ll talk about things and stuff, and probably American Gods. Thanks for listening!

 

 




Cancellations & Renewals Part One: What Survived for the Fall TV Schedule?

Alrighty now. These last few weeks we have been getting updates to what shows have been saved and what shows are biting the dust. Plus we have been keeping track of what newbies have been picked up by the networks that just may be interesting. So below is a list (with more coming as news comes out from the remaining upfronts) so that our readers can properly plan for their 2017-2018 TV time.

Click on the links for additional stories on those shows. And if you see that we have missed your favorite genre show, let us know so we can share it with others!

Listed below are the series pick-ups we know about:

  • Black Lightning (The CW)
    • Retired superhero Jefferson Pierce steps back into his secret identity as the wanted vigilante Black Lightning when a local gang tries to recruit his daughter, a star student with powers of her own.
  • The Crossing (ABC)
    • Refugees from a war torn country seek asylum in an American town. However, these refugees are from American and the war they flee is 250 years in the future.

https://youtu.be/4qNDIe8tcr8

  • Deception (ABC)
    • Superstar magician Cameron Black’s career ends due to a scandal. So he joins the FBI to become the first consulting illusionist, using his art of deception, illusion, and influence to help the government solve crimes that defy explanation.
  • Ghosted (Fox)
    • A skeptic is forced to work with a believer of paranormal to solve unexplained occurrences in Los Angeles for a government agency.

https://youtu.be/ubbjVowDuys

  • The Gifted (Fox)
    • Two parents take their children on the run after they discover their children have mutant abilities.

https://youtu.be/4I_htkGJAZ4

https://youtu.be/qTzW9rMcbzk

  • The Inhumans (ABC)
    • The Inhuman Royal family escape Hawaii after a military take over with the goal to save themselves and the world.

https://youtu.be/6-5aJgj3TPg

  • The Orville (Fox)
    • Set 400 years in the future, a motley crew of a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship, the Orville, join the divorced captain and first officer as they navigate fascinating and sometimes dangerous adventures as well as their work environment.

https://youtu.be/Yy9sKeCE8V0

  • The Passage (Fox)
    • A girl tries to save the human race from a post-apocalyptic world run by vampires.
  • Searchers (The CW)
    • A pragmatic brother and free spirited sister team up ten years after their parents death to discover their mothers terrible and bizarre stories will guide them to discover the great legends, myths, and explainable mysteries of the world.
  • Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
    • New Star Trek series, plot unknown, but it’s said to take place between Enterprise and The Original Series, and may be set in the Prime universe instead of the J.J. Abrams “Kelvin” timeline.

https://youtu.be/CKuZINgyR-c

  • Big Hero 6 (Disney XD)
    • Big Hero 6 will continue where the film ended with the continuing adventures of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro, his lovable, cutting-edge robot Baymax and their friends as they protect their city from scientifically enhanced villains while also balancing out regular life as new students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

https://youtu.be/lERm84raglA

  • Ducktales (Disney XD)
    • The adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews as they search for treasures around the world and protect Scrooge’s fortune.

https://youtu.be/nY_xCXE0sIc

  • Ghost Wars (Syfy)
    • A local outcast in an Alaskan town must over come the towns prejudices and his own personal demons to be able to harness his repressed psychic powers to save the locals from a mass haunting that is threatening to kill them.
  • The Haunted (Syfy)
    • Four siblings reuinted after the death of their parents, trying to fix their fractured relationships so they can face the literal ghosts of their pasts in order to survive.
  • Krytpon (Syfy)
    • The show follows the Man of Steels grandfather of the house of El after they are shamed and ostracized as he fights to redeem his families honor and save his world from chaos.
  • Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger (Freeform)
    • The story of two teens with powers — she can throw light daggers, he can engulf people and objects in darkness — who are drawn together in a romantic entanglement made more complicated by the differences in their backgrounds.

https://youtu.be/411EofIqiaM

  • Marvel’s New Warriors (Freeform)
    • Six young people with powers who work and live together. However, their powers are not quite like the Avengers. They want to make a difference in the world – even if the world is not quite ready for them.
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Disney XD)
    • The animated story of an unsure but courageous teenage who has to learn to be a hero from the very beginning.

https://youtu.be/RmRh4o0y8Iw

  • Siren (Freeform)
    • According to legend, Bristol Cove once was home to mermaids.  A mysterious girl arrives and proves the folklore to be true which starts a battle between the townsfolk and the predatory creatures trying to reclaim their right to the ocean.

https://youtu.be/QrtY7OnVlw8

  • Castle Rock (Netflix)
    • Set in Stephen King’s fictional down of Castle Rock, each season would follow a different set of characters and storylines with intersecting themes and certain characters from previous seasons.
  • Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
    • A diverse group of six teenagers discover they have one thing in common: their parents are a part of an evil crime organization.

Listed below are the renewals that we know:

BROADCAST:

  • The 100 (The CW)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
  • Arrow (The CW)
  • Exorcist (Fox)
  • The Flash (The CW)
  • Gotham (Fox)
  • iZombie (The CW)
  • The Last Man on Earth (Fox)
  • Legends of Tomorrow (The CW)
  • Lucifer (FOX)
  • Once Upon A Time (ABC)
  • The Originals (The CW)
  • Riverdale (The CW)
  • Supergirl (The CW)
  • Supernatural (The CW)
  • Timeless (NBC)
  • The X-Files (Fox)

CABLE:

  • 12 Monkeys (Syfy) – through fourth and final season in 2018
  • American Horror Story (FX) – through Season 9
  • Beyond (Freeform)
  • Channel Zero (Syfy) – through Season 4
  • Colony (USA)
  • Dark Matter (SyFy)
  • The Expanse (SyFy)
  • Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
  • Humans (AMC)
  • Into the Badlands (AMC)
  • The Last Ship (TNT)
  • Legion (FX)
  • The Librarians (TNT)
  • The Magicians (SyFy)
  • Outlander (Starz) – through Season 4
  • People of Earth (TBS)
  • Scream (MTV)
  • The Shannara Chronicles (moving to Spike)
  • Shadowhunters (Freeform)
  • Van Helsing (Syfy)
  • Westworld (HBO)
  • Z Nation (Syfy)

STREAMING:

Listed below are the cancellations we know about:

  • Emerald City (NBC)
  • Frequency (The CW)
  • Making History (Fox)
  • Powerless (NBC)
  • Scream Queens (Fox)
  • Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
  • Son of Zorn (Fox)