Almost Human Gone – Fox Sucks – #bringbackAlmostHuman

Almost HumanI don’t know why I’m so surprised. But I was holding out hope that Fox would have learned its lesson from “Firefly” and actually let a good SciFi show carry on. But no.

Instead, they handled “Almost Human” in almost exactly the same way they handled “Firefly.” It’s like they have a playbook for how to kill a good show:

  • Air the episodes out of order, so that any over arching theme is confusing at best and most likely destroyed at worst.
  • Make sure that the episodes that introduce the characters most effectively are buried somewhere in the middle of the season, since you’re already airing them out of order. That way any casual viewer will see no reason to give a rats ass about what’s going on.
  • Skip weeks with no information on when (or if) the show will be back on the air.
  • Then return with a show that clearly should have been aired earlier in the season because, well, because you can.
  • Don’t bother with PR. If the fans cared, they would watch.
  • And when they do watch, ignore them.
  • Make sure that whatever ads or PR you do do for the show focuses solely on violent car chases or robots getting blown up. Because the only demographic for SciFi is 18-year-old male. And those same males only like car chases and blown up robots. Oh and maybe a sexbot or two.

Maybe they’ll add to their playbook:

  • Cancel the show and act surprised that fans give a shit.
  • Rescind the cancellation!

I can hope!

Where are the Strong Women?

Nora Ephron didn’t direct Science Fiction movies. But her death is a loss to all of us, and especially women. She made movies that women like, movies for and about strong, caring women.

Science Fiction movies, on the other hand, tend to be for, by, and about men. Even when women are in them, they are either glorified sex objects or men with breasts. Part of the reason Sigoourney Weaver was so funny in Galaxy Quest was because she was playing the only role women have had in most Science Fiction movies — the phone operator. It was especially ironic to cast her in that role when she’s best known as Ripley in the Alien movies.

But Hollywood seems to forget women all the time. When the Avengers came out, 40% of the opening day tickets were bought by women, and yet the only strong female character was reduced to acting as a dogs-body and gopher for all of the other “real” super heroes. Why is this and why do women tolerate it?

Yes, Ripley is a powerful female character, but even though I can name dozens of strong female protagonists in SciFi books, I can’t name even ten strong female characters in movies. Here’s what my husband and I came up with. We were able to come up with 9 when we included TV as well.

It’s just sad to me how difficult it was for both of us to find examples of strong, powerful women in Science Fiction movies and TV. I’d love to hear from you if you can think of others. Please share in the comments.

I would love to see a movie made of some of the strong female characters that abound in Science Fiction. It’s not that they aren’t there, it’s just that Hollywood doesn’t want to make movies about them. I’d love to see Friday on the big screen, or Petra Arkanian (Ender’s Game) or Cordelia Naismith (Barrayar – Vorkosigan Saga).

This article was written in response to: Memo to Hollywood: Women Go to the Movies Too

Doctor Who: The Complete First Series

“Doctor Who: The Complete First Series” (2005)
Starring: Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper

I grew up on Doctor Who — Tom Baker, Peter Davison, and all of them. I loved it. So when it was announced that there was going to be a new series made, with a Doctor “from the North,” I wasn’t so sure about this. But I was quickly convinced.

This first series includes all the fun of classic Doctor Who, but in modern era with modern CGI and effects. This is not the cardboard cutouts and giant pepper shakers of old. No, even the Daleks have been upgraded!

Rose is the new companion for the first series, and she is wonderful. She’s tough and smart and not afraid to talk back to the Doctor, especially when he’s being a dork.

The two episodes “The Enemy Child” and “The Doctor Dances” won the Hugo award for best short program in 2006. I still hear the child saying “Are you my mummy?” and I cringe. And seeing a gas mask freaks me out a little.

I loved these DVDs. We rented them first, and then I got them for Christmas. So I watched them again less than a month from the first time I watched them. They were just as wonderful the second (and then third) time I watched them.

Firefly

Firefly - The Complete SeriesFirefly: The Complete Series

Firefly was an amazing television show. It was created and developed by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The premise of the show is that mankind has spread out across the universe and this has resulted in anarchistic regions almost like the old-West. There was a big war that the Federation won, and the heros of this show were on the losing side. Now they live on the fringes of society, spending most of their time running from authorities, getting into and out of trouble, and having adventures.

The great thing about this show is that it’s so diverse. Yes, it’s Science Fiction, but it’s also a Western. Plus it’s got drama and humor and a wonderful ensemble cast. In fact, it’s the cast that really brings this show home. There are a lot of people who travel on Serenity, from Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), the discontented captain to Innara (Morena Baccarin) the prostitute who uses one of Firefly’s attached shuttles, to Simon (Sean Maher) and River Tam (Summer Glau) two fugitives from strange blue-handed, creepy “men-in-black”.

Fox, in its infinite wisdom, cancelled this show after only a few episodes. This was a huge blow to television SciFi, especially as Farscape was also cancelled. Since it was cancelled so quickly, it’s a very good chance you didn’t see this show, but if you can buy the DVD you won’t be disappointed. There are so many open ends waiting to be filled in, it could go in many many directions, which makes it very exciting.

Plus, Joss Whedon is releasing Serenity in the summer of 2005. This is very exciting!

Tru Calling

Tru Calling - The Complete First Season Tru Calling: Season 1

Tru Calling is an interesting show about Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku), a woman who can relive days in order to save the lives of people who die before their time. She discovers this talent when she applies for a job at the morgue and the body of a young woman rolls over and whispers “Help me”. She is then plunged back in time to the morning of the same day which she relives and decides to save the life of the woman who asked for her help.

This series was, in some ways, doomed to be canceled, first because it aired on Fox (land of the “reality” shows), and second because of the premise. Don’t get me wrong, the premise is really interesting. But how many times can you show a woman running through her days twice? There are only so many ways this premise can be used. And this first season pretty well ran through them all.

About half-way through the first season, it appears that the writers realized that they were boxed into a very rigid corner, so they added a bad-guy, in the form of Jack (Jason Priestley). Unfortunately, this appeared to be more of a “get a well-known star onto the set to save the show” than any effort to work with the premise in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the character of Jack was very flat and uninspiring. Priestley did an admirable job making the character interesting in a creepy way, but ultimately his character was just annoying.

If you’re interested in Science Fiction television shows, there isn’t a lot out there for you to watch. And it looks like Tru Calling was cancelled by the Fox network before it could air it’s second season. The DVD of the first season is available with some interesting extras, such as commentary and three shorts discussing the show.

I enjoyed Tru Calling, and the DVDs were fun to watch again. It’s too bad it was cancelled, but not as big as loss as Firefly.

A Legend of Earthsea – on the SciFi Network

A Legend of Earthsea

SciFi Channel

Let me first say that I haven’t read A Wizard of Earthsea or The Tombs of Atuan since I was 10 years old or so. So, bearing that in mind, I watched A Legend of Earthsea on the SciFi Channel without a lot of expectations. I’d watched them mess with their original series Farscape until it was just a bunch of loose ends and then tie it back together again when the fan-base screamed bloody murder. So, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this movie.

That said, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t the best TV movie I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t the worst. It was much better than most TV offerings right now and it held my attention.

The acting was so-so for the most part, and the CGI to create the various cut scenes reminded me of a video game (so much so that whenever they cut to the evil warlord, I thought we had moved to a video game commercial for some RTS war game), but like I said, it was enjoyable and entertaining for two nights.

I then went online and learned that nearly everyone who was anyone in SciFi hated this travesty of a TV movie. What was I thinking that I could say that I enjoyed it?? Even the author of the books it was austensibly recreating was ticked off.

So I re-read the first book

If you’ve read A Wizard of Earthsea any time in the last 5-10 years, don’t watch this movie. You’ll hate it. It’s as if the screen writers took the first two books (A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan) and cut the scenes into chunks. Then threw the scene chunks into a hat and pulled them out at random. Then, when they didn’t seem to fit right the way they were, they added scenes and changed things and generally made a hash of the books.

For one thing: his TRUE name is GED not Sparrowhawk as they said on the show. I mean, WHY would they make that change? It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but crimeny, they got it completely backwards.

It makes me wonder if Gavin Scott read the books back when he was 10 and then wrote a screenplay of what he remembered. Nice work if you can get it.

So, I stand by my original assessment, it was an OK TV movie about a kid coming of age and falling in love (of course) and uniting two forms of magic (of course) and saving the world (of course). It’s too bad that they put the “Earthsea” label on it. But I suppose if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have watched it, as I would have assumed that it was another SciFi Channel botchup job.

But if you’ve read the books it was possibly the worst adaptation of a SciFi novel I’ve ever seen.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

This was a bitter-sweet mini-series for me, because it appears that they really won’t be making any more episodes of this wonderful series. Without giving any spoilers, let me just say that the ending is even more of an ending than the series ending was.

If you’re not familiar with Farscape, it is a story of an astronaut, John Crichton, who is “shot through a wormhole” and ends up on the other end of the universe. There he meets up with a living ship, named Moya and becomes friends with her crew. It is a story of adventure and drama as everyone on the ship is a fugitive and wants to get to his or her respective home.

Over the course of the seasons, we learn more about the different races and cultures that make up the Peacekeeper universe. It’s not peaceful, let me make that clear right away (as if the title of this mini-series doesn’t give that away). And the wars are just as stupid and inane as they are on Earth, just with larger weapons.

In the course of the TV seasons, John has been given the knowledge to control and manipulate wormholes. This knowledge is highly sought after, because the Scarans and the Peacekeepers believe he can use it to make a super weapon. He can’t, but they don’t believe him.

The Peacekeeper Wars opens exactly where Farscape, the series, ends. [spoiler alert]Aeryn and John are not dead, just crystalized. And Rygel swims around the ocean floor picking up all the crystals so they can be put back together. Of course, they appear as they were when they crystalized – locked in an embrace. But they quickly recover and have their blasters out (yes, Winona is still around) and aimed at the surrounding people.

The action is all there, the humor is there, and the relationships just get better and better. Some of the characters that I was annoyed by in the series are not nearly as annoying in this episode (Jewel – yes, I mean you). There are sad points and happy ones and all in all it’s a very satisfying 4 hours – end of the show notwithstanding.

The SciFi channel went a long way towards redeeming themselves with this mini-series. It doesn’t make up for the show being cancelled, but it’s a very good mini-series a lot of fun and interesting for sci-fi junkies and Farscape lovers alike.

Angel: Season 1

Angel - Season One Angel – Season One

Angel is a really good show. It’s amazing that it was cancelled, but at least it’s out on DVD to watch over and over. Detective dramas are a dime-a-dozen, and if you saw my review of Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff, you know that the “genre” can be a bit over the top even in good books and shows. But Angel is the spin-off character (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that could carry it off.

David Boreanaz plays the brooding title character, Angel, a vampire with a soul. But before you groan and click away, it’s really not that bad. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is what makes it so much fun to watch. The action is dark and can be relentless, but that just makes it more exciting.

This first season DVD set comes with extras that expand on the show and make it more interesting for the die-hard fan to watch. Some of the commentaries can be very dull to listen to, but when Joss Whedon talks, the episode is actually enhanced. He has a very clear vision for where he wants his show to go and he works hard to get it the way he wants it. If Joss Whedon is associated with a TV show or movie, you can be sure it will be good.

Futurama Volume 1

Futurama, Vol. 1 Futurama Volume 1 This is a very fun 3-disc set including all 13 episodes from Futurama volume 1. If you never saw Futurama, you should seriously consider getting or renting this DVD set. And if you have seen Futurama, well, you probably already have it.

There is so little Science Fiction on TV, so it is really nice to see Matt Groening (of Simpsons fame) putting his incredible talents to this series. It was a huge disappointment when it was cancelled. Especially when you consider the number of lousy reality shows that Fox airs in its place.

Futurama is the story of Fry, accidentally cryogenically frozen in the 90s, who wakes up in the year 3000 (or thereabouts). He meets his great-great-…-nephew and joins the Planet Express company as a delivery person. Every episode he meets aliens, deals with crazy robots, talks with reanimated heads of famous people from the 20th century and more.

This is a hilarious series and not to be missed for the true SciFi afficianodo who wants a laugh.