Change is as Good as a Holiday?

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If you’ve been a follower of either of my science fiction blogs (Space 2049 and Star Trek: Sentinel), you would have noticed both have been pretty quiet of late.

That’s because life, as it often does for all of us, got in the way.  Suddenly, maintaining two websites became a bit too much and I took an unintended break from both.  That work/life balance thing people harp on about?  I’m obviously a long way from mastering it.

 

 

In addition to all of the change that has been whirling about in my life like some kind of steroid enhanced tsunami, I discovered, while daydreaming one day in a desperate attempt to take a break from a whack of stress, that there were other TV shows from “back in the day” that I felt also deserved a retelling.

Frustrated by the corner I’d accidentally backed myself into by creating a couple of sites that really only focused on one subject each, I decided to merge both together, do a rename and open up the playground just a bit.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see the site slowly start to take shape as I do that.  So, apologies for the absence of posts these last few months, and for the lack of updates to the Space: 2049 script, and apologies for the slight mess everything will be in as I sort it all out.

What can you expect?

Well, there’s a little bit of a story there.  As I mentioned above, in an attempt to keep myself sane through moving houses, losing a beloved dog, changing jobs, and dealing with a sudden elephant sized dump of general crap, I played an ongoing mental game/imaginative exercise to keep from slipping over the edge.

 

 

That game?  If a studio exec came up to me and said “hey, random guy, we want you to reboot some classic TV shows,” what shows would I want to invest my time in?

Turned out there were a few.  Some I couldn’t play with, like V, because I believe the awesome Kenneth Johnson is working on rebirthing his 1980s invasion epic, and Babylon 5, because I live in hope that J.M. Straczynski will get around to that soonish, but there were others that I loved just as much.

 

 

Before I tell you what they are, because I’ll play around with the ideas I have for those shows on this site, I should point something out.  This site does feature a sizable Star Trek section, but Star Trek on TV doesn’t need a reboot anymore, thanks to Star Trek: Discovery (which I love).  So why is Star Trek included?

At the time I created Star Trek: Sentinel back in 2014, there hadn’t been any new episodes of Star Trek on TV for a long time, and the new show had not been announced.  I had an idea, and felt like sharing it.  I did think about leaving Star Trek out of this site, but I love it too much, and there is one character I have long felt deserved greater exploration – Saavik.

 

 

If a studio gave me the chance to create a Star Trek show, it would be one that focuses on Saavik, in her later years, living in the time of Picard and Co.

With that said, the other shows I feel really deserve a second chance right now are Space: 1999 (Space 2049), which I’ve been working on for a long time now, seaQuest DSV (the first season), Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, and that old classic campy 80s series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (again, only the first season with a character or two from the second).

As this site evolves, it will focus on each of those shows while continuing to provide science fiction news updates and information on new scientific advances that relate to space exploration, and it will continue to advocate for a reboot of Space: 1999, while also telling the story of Saavik in the 24th Century.  Each of the shows I’ve chosen hold a special place in my heart and helped define my childhood and early adult years, or were shows, like Andromeda, that I fell in love with along the way.

The site name might change a few times over the next week or so as I find something that doesn’t clash with any other name on the internet, but things should stabalise soon.

As always, I hope you enjoy what’s on offer, and thanks for your patience and for all of the kind words (and excited encouragement) I’ve received from Space: 1999 fans these last few years.

Science fiction fans are just bloody awesome! I hope SciFi Regen can honour that – and each of the shows I’m letting my imagination play with.

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T Minus 11 Days

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In Australia it’s the 7th of January as of the writing of this article, meaning we only have 11 days until the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery season two drops on Netflix!

Because the United States is a day behind Australia, it’s about 11 days for them too.  Disco airs in the US on the 17th of January, and in Australia and the rest of the world on the 18th of January.

I am, as you would expect, excited!

Very soon we’ll get to take another look at the USS Enterprise, and we’ll also get a chance to see how our new Captain Christopher Pike and Number One fit into the overall season arc.  We’ll also get to see how the creative team behind the series handle Spock.

Speaking of that first episode, CBS All Access have released it’s name.  “Brother.”  That’s a very loaded title!

So far, that’s all we know.  If there is a synopsis I can’t find it.  What we do know is that “Brother” is directed by Alex Kurtzman, and that, presumably, Spock will in some way be a focus – though he will probably remain unseen.

To date, the creative forces behind Star Trek: Discovery have been quite successful at keeping season two a secret.  We know what they want us to know, and very little else.

We know we’ll eventually meet Tig Notaro’s character, Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha, and we will also meet a new character called Linus.

 

Linus is a Saurian and he looks fantastic!  This re-imagining of the species is beautiful, in my opinion.  It might be my favourite character make up to date.

We haven’t seen a lot of the Saurian species in televised or filmed Star Trek, though they do feature in Star Trek Online and of note, one of them is the current Federation President in the games universe.

As a Star Trek staple, they are perhaps best known for their brandy, a favourite beverage of Captain James T. Kirk and his Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Leonard McCoy.

The last time we actually saw a Saurian in canon was in 1979, during Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  As you can see, the amazing makeup team have been quite faithful in updating their look.

saurian sttmp

According to the wonderful Memory Alpha and thanks to the book The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, we do know a little bit about these reptilian Federation members:

SAURIAN – A lizard person, very able, excellent space officers.  Learned to communicate in Earth tongue, have complicated vocal language of own.  Have upright, direct posture.  Intelligent.  Can breathe a number of gases.  Valuable in exploration of new areas because of enormous strength due to four hearts.

Thanks to the Season Two trailer, we also know they’re susceptible to the common cold!

Along with these guys, we also, of course, see more of former Empress Georgiou, now a Section 31 secret agent.

georgiou disco s2

That story line is one that particularly interests me.  Not because I’m a fan of Section 31, but because they seem to be one story point where the new creatives behind Star Trek have really brought continuity and canon undone.

How?  Everyone seems to know about them!  Pike, Burnham… in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine it was established they were so secretive no one had a clue they existed, not even Captain Sisko who was given a lot of information because of his role in the Dominion War.

It will be interesting to see what is going on there.

Other than the above, there’s not much other news to report.  Some new season two photos have been released, and you can see them at TrekCore here.  There are also a bunch of character posters that have come out, and you can take a look at them here.  They’re pretty snazzy.

This new season should be pretty awesome.  It started off rough with the sacking of Gretchin Berg and Aaron Harberts, but hopefully, under Alex Kurtzman’s capable hands, everything has settled down and we’re in for something special.

I’m definitely watching the new season for Burnham, Saru, Tilly and Stamets, but I’m probably most excited about Pike, Number One and Spock.

I also can’t wait to see what’s in store with the Red Angel and the mysterious signals.

We’ll see you in a little under two weeks for our first recap and review of the new season.

Live long, and prosper.

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Trek Series’ Updates

Star Trek CaptainsStar Trek is facing something of a renaissance at present, with a new caretaker team in place dreaming up more exciting and thought-provoking adventures in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry.  Despite that, and despite a push by CBS for more Trek on their streaming platform CBS All Access, there hasn’t been a lot of news about their new shows in recent weeks, and what we have heard hasn’t been particularly illuminating.

Last month, Deadline, TrekMovie and other notable Trek and entertainment websites, reported that Michelle Yeoh was in talks with CBS to lead a new Star Trek series, most likely centred around the Mirror Universe’s Emperor Georgiou and her mischief-making in the normal Trek time line.

 

CBS have not made any official announcement yet, though they have acknowledged they’ve considered the possibility of a Georgiou Section 31 series.

For those of you who may have forgotten, a Season One deleted scene was released earlier this year showing Georgiou being recruited by a mysterious Section 31 operative (possibly their leader) called Leland, played by Alan van Sprang.  Months later, Georgiou showed up in trailers for Season Two and the subtext was that she’s now working for that particular organisation.

Alan van Sprang as Leland

Why a Section 31 series and not a series that goes back in time to focus on Captain Georgiou?

Firstly, you’d be paying out a lot of money for a cast that would almost never get a break.  Georgiou’s Shenzhou also had Saru and Burnham on it, as well as Detmer, and those characters would feature prominently.  Between shooting Discovery and a Shenzhou series, Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green and Emily Coutts would barely get any free time to focus on other projects, which is important to an artist if they want to have longevity in the entertainment industry.

Secondly, the sets for the Shenzhou no longer exist.  They were struck and used for other sets, which is standard practice in most television shows.  Rebuilding that beautiful ship’s interiors would prove prohibitively expensive.

USS Shenzhou Bridge

Finally, Michelle has just come off of the success of Crazy Rich Asians, which she starred in alongside Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, and Ken Jeong.  She’s always been in demand, but she’s going to be in even greater demand now.  Will she have the time?  Would the beautiful and ethereal Michelle Yeoh even want to commit to a standard 12-13 episode run of a series?

Then again, many of us said the same thing about Patrick Stewart.  We thought the new Jean-Luc Picard show would be a special or a limited series, and it was recently announced it would be longer.

Speaking of that series, we still know next to nothing about it.

Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard

Alex Kurtzman recently stated that writing on the series had begun, and that actual production was scheduled to commence sometime in April next year (2019) with an air date in late 2019.

That’s something.

We still don’t know the title, if there is one yet, nor the basic premise.  Whatever they’re developing in the writers room is not leaking out, which is good, but it would be really nice if they’d share a few plot points now and then.

Our last news item from around the Trekverse comes courtesy of the wonderful Anson Mount.  Or, if you prefer, Captain Christopher Pike.

Next Chapter - Star Trek Discovery Season 2According to Anson, the thirteen-episode order for Season Two has been extended by one episode.

You can read a tiny bit more about that extension, including where the confirmation came from, at TrekMovie here.

This isn’t all that exceptional.  It happened in Season One, where Star Trek: Discovery‘s order went from 14 episodes to 15 episodes.  Extra episodes can happen for a number of reasons.  It could be the studio saying “we are super impressed… give us one more,” or it could be “this is super expensive, let’s get more bang for our buck, do another episode.”  They could also be doing an extra episode to create a back-door pilot for a new series.

Disco Christopher PikeEither way, I don’t care.   More Trek is more Trek and that makes me a very happy fan!  Particularly if this new episode gives us some additional time with the crew of Discovery and the crew of Pike’s Enterprise.

I know I’ve said this half a dozen times already, but if one of the new shows coming out is not a Pike’s Enterprise show, I will be SO disappointed.

That’s it for the news update! See what I mean? Not much news out there.

For those of you who don’t know, Star Trek: Discovery Season Two will air in the United States and Canada on January the 17th, 2019.  In Australia and elsewhere in the world, Episode One will air January 18th.

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What’s Past is Prologue?

The Star Wars TrilogyIn William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the term “What’s past is prologue” is, more or less, used as a justification to commit murder – that the past has led the characters of Antonio and Sebastian to a moment in time where their choice is to kill the King so that they can forge their own destinies.  In more modern times, the phrase has come to mean that history creates context for the present.

With a certain science fiction property, it feels a little like the creatives behind the scenes have had similar conversations to those had by Sebastian and Antonio, as they have contemplated the future of a notable and beloved film series.

Out of all of the science fiction properties that I’ve fallen in love with over the years, Star Wars had always ranked up there with Star TrekSpace: 1999, Battlestar GalacticaV and Doctor Who. They shaped my young mind and my worldview and to some extent still influence me today.  Star Wars, sadly, and only days ago, fell out of that top six, despite a long internal argument to keep it there. An argument that started in December 2015.

Why?  Because the new trilogy didn’t have to be what it has become.  The choices that were made didn’t need to be made.

I’ve tried very hard not to be one of those “you ‘shat’ all over my childhood” fans, but maybe I’ve become one despite my best efforts because I feel the new films betray the spirit of the original trilogy and even the prequel trilogy, which, while not perfect, still feels like Star Wars.

The Original Trilogy Small

When not talking about Space: 1999 or scientific advancements that may help us colonise our solar system, this blog usually comments on re-imaginings, reboots and continuations because I so desperately want a Space: 1999 reboot.

While the new trilogy of Star Wars movies are a continuation, they also feel, in a way, like a soft reboot.  What was past is indeed prologue.  While no one has quite murdered Star Wars (depending on who you ask), the property is now another example of an existing universe that has undergone/is undergoing some pretty big changes – and they’re changes I’ve not been able to justify.

I understand that some of the properties I’ve mentioned have undergone change over the years, but those changes were managed without unpicking the fabric of or totally setting fire to the soul of those shows.  The recent cosmetic changes made to the Star Trek universe initially bothered me, but I understood and accepted them.  Star Trek: Discovery is still very much Star Trek, it’s just had a face lift because, to remain relevant and to attract new viewers, that was essential.  Velour uniforms and big flashing lights for buttons don’t cut in the age of smart phones and flat screen TVs.

I had a similar reaction to the re-imagined V (2009-2010).  The changes they made were more extensive than those made for Star Trek: Discovery, and I would have rather the writers and producers had done a more faithful retelling, but the spirit of the original was left intact.

Something else is going on with Star Wars and I can’t reconcile it.

Before I go any further… heads up.  SPOILER ALERT!  If you haven’t seen the seventh and eighth feature films, I spoil the crap out of them below.  Look away now, or continue on.

Ready?

I enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I’m one of those fans who was by and large happy with Star Wars: The Last Jedi (except for the Canto Bight nonsense – Finn, great, Rose, great, Canto Bight… stupid diversion that added nothing to the film).  My issues with the new Star Wars films began, sadly, way before Canto Bight was a gleam in anyone’s eye.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster

Like most old school Star Wars fans born in the ’70s I was excited (okay, jumping for joy) to hear that Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and the droids were coming back.  Before Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford’s appearances were officially confirmed, I was expecting J.J. Abrams and Disney to do what George Lucas had done with the prequels and set the new films in a different time frame.  As a fan of the Old Republic comic books and as someone who had enjoyed the prequels for what they were, I was in favour of that idea.  The Star Wars universe is a BIG universe.  Now I know that the prequels were set only about 18-20-something years before A New Hope, but it was a different era.  It was the mighty Republic and its fall, it was the Jedi Order at its height, it was the first stirrings of what would become the Empire.  It felt entirely different to the original trilogy while still being the Star Wars I knew.

When it was confirmed the films would be thirty-something years in the future and that Leia, Luke and Han would be in them, I was thrilled.  J.J. had jumped ahead in time, and jumped forward a longer span of time than the prequels had gone back, so maybe we would get a story that would focus on the children of our heroes and a frightening new threat to the galaxy!

Then the first movie dropped.  No Leia for ages.  No Luke for even longer, and then, barely.  Han and Chewie showed up pretty quickly but it felt too convenient.

I was okay with waiting to see my childhood heroes as I sat there in the cinema, and I was willing to believe Han had lost the Falcon, because I knew they had to establish a bunch of new characters and because Han had always been a little loose.

Leia and Han Reunite

Then, finally, Leia turned up.  I was so happy to see her as she walked down that ramp to a waiting Han.  Then mine and a bunch of other fans’ hopes were dashed because our Princess and her scoundrel were no longer together.

We learn that they had had a child together, which was something, but then we discover that their son had fallen to the Dark Side and turned into an angst ridden millennial with a sense of entitlement the size of Coruscant, and a level of sulky-petulance that would put any soap opera teen to shame.  And STILL no Luke… where was he?

Eventually we’re told that Luke went into hiding.  So… he abandoned his sister in her time of need, right as a new threat was emerging in the galaxy.  WTF?

The triumphant ending we had enjoyed in the closing frames of Return of the Jedi was no more.

I get that the choices the writers, producers and director made were ‘realistic,’ but I don’t watch Star Wars for realism.  I watch it to feel a sense of joy and hope, and to be swept up in an adventure that will take me out of the shitty world we all live in for a while.

All of the above was bad enough, but to add insult to injury, not long after Leia and Han are reunited, they kill Han.  Just as horrible as that, his killer was his own son.

Han Solo Star Wars Episode VII

Han was never my favourite character, I related to Luke and Leia more, but Han had earned a place in my heart.  How couldn’t you love the guy?  Everyone loved Han.

I thought Han’s death was Harrison saying “I’ll only play him if you kill him off,” because he’s long been arguing for the character’s death (he wanted Han to sacrifice himself for Leia and Luke in Return of the Jedi), but then along came the second film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where they killed Luke.

A trend was starting to emerge.

It was becoming clear that the plan was to also kill off Leia Organa in the third movie.  Of course, Carrie tragically passed away in December 2016 before even one frame of Episode IX could be filmed, but regardless of that horrible blow, the writing was on the wall for the Princess and General.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Official Poster

I started to feel a little irrational anger about it all which, almost a year after the release of number eight, has refused to go away.  Accompanying the anger is an all-pervading sadness which slaps me around every time I think of Star Wars.

Just like the crew of the original series Star Trek or it’s successor, TNG, and just like the team on Moonbase Alpha, or on board the Galactica, and just like the Doctor and the Resistance fighters in V, Leia, Luke and Han had been my dear friends, and they’d been with me through some really difficult times.  They’d been my safe space through trauma, and when I was a kid and a teenager, they’d shaped my moral compass.  At times, throughout my childhood and early teen years, I would often find myself thinking what would Leia do if she were faced with this bullyHow would Luke handle this family fightHow would Han get himself out of this situation?

I had always subliminally known that those characters were important to me, but facing their cinematic deaths showed me just how important they had been and still were.

Sound weird?  I get that. I thought my reaction was ridiculous, even a tad pathetic, so I did some research and it turns out a lot of long time fans of various fictional properties feel a significant impact when the characters they love die.

Leia Finally Grieves for Han

It’s such a frequent occurrence, American University in Washington DC researched it in 2014 and found that “superfans can feel a strong sense of loss in the aftermath of a character death.”  You can find that research here at Science Daily.

For me, part of it comes down to the fact that I felt (and still feel) that this trio of heroes deserved a happy ending.

I had imagined Han and Leia growing old together, surrounded by children and grandchildren.  I’d imagined Luke building and inspiring a new Jedi Order, and falling in love and having his own children.  I had imagined Chewie back on Kashyyyk happily retired, and R2 and 3PO both entertaining and being tortured by the children of Leia and Han, and Luke and whomever he married.  Can’t you hear C-3PO begging one of the children to stop doing something rambunctious?  “Please young mistress, put your brother down – it’s rude to levitate people!”

For a while we did have that, with what is now known as the Star Wars Legends novels (previously the Expanded Universe).  Horrible things happened to Chewie and the Organa-Solo/Skywalker children in those books, but in the very last installment Han, Leia and Luke were still soldiering on side by side, hope-filled and resolute.  The path to their happy ending was punctuated with tragedy and trauma, but Han and Leia still had their daughter, though they had lost their sons, and Luke still had his son, though he had lost his wife.  Still, despite everything they’d suffered, they ended their adventures as they started, together, with each other.

J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson decided we needed to see our heroes die on screen.  It looks like they’ve also decided that the Skywalker line must end.  If my suspicions are correct and Leia was always going to die in the ninth film, there will be no more Skywalkers because Ben (Kylo) also has to die.  He killed his father.  It’s an irredeemable act.  So, not only did the current creatives in charge of Star Wars feel we needed to lose our heroes, we also needed to wipe out the most important family in that universe.

Hence my feeling that this is an attempt to softly (with a sledgehammer) reboot Star Wars.

I’ve read a lot of nonsense, some from the mouths of the film-makers themselves, about how important it is for the old to make way for the new.  That’s fine, but the way they’ve gone about it is not Star Wars.  The story of the First Order and Rey, Finn and Poe could have easily happened 100 years or more after the events of Return of the Jedi.  Having the main protagonist be Leia and Han’s child doesn’t really add anything to the story, so a brand new bad guy would have worked just as well or better – or turning Rey, or Finn or Poe into the bad guy at some point in the new trilogy would have been equally if not more impactful.  Nothing would have been lost and the integrity of Star Wars could have been maintained.

Star Wars is a fairy tale.  It’s my generation and my nephews’ generation’s (who grew up with the prequels) Snow White or Cinderella.  We have Princesses and Dark Knights, Queens and paupers, noble Paladin (the Jedi) and Scoundrels, armies of light and darkness doing battle, and strange locales inhabited by even stranger creatures.

Our heroes should remain heroes, their deaths unseen, so that we can imagine them having lived wonderful lives or off on other adventures. Luke should have remained the noble knight, rather than become a burned out shell.  Leia should have ended up running the bloody New Republic, not being scorned by it.  Han should have grown fat and happy with a bevvy of children, standing strong by Leia’s side no matter what, rather than being slaughtered by his own son.

Luke Skywalker

I so very deeply wish the sequel trilogy had either never happened, or had jumped forward in time, so that my memories of the heroes I have loved and cherished for so long had remained untarnished.

Luke, a coward too afraid to try again?
Leia considered a joke by the very government she was integral in restoring and probably setting up?
Han a washed up and worn out man who left his wife because it all got too hard?
The only offspring of the Skywalkers a sulky little murderous prick?

No.
These are insulting endings to heroes who have meant a lot to a great many people.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

I think J.J. Abrams is an incredibly talented man.  I forgave him for the liberties he took with Star Trek when he rebooted it, but I wish he’d never gotten his hands on Star Wars.  Transwarp beaming vs killing off a beloved character?  I’ll take the crud that was transwarp beaming any day over losing my friends.

It is possible to do a continuation or even a reboot or remake without betraying the essence of a property, and J.J. and Rian Johnson should have looked harder (or just looked) at those examples.

Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, with heavy support from Angela Mancuso reimagined Battlestar Galactica, giving us a few character changes and an important story shift that intensified everything in the right way (Starbuck became a woman and the Cylons were created by humanity), but still remained faithful to Glen A. Larson’s original idea.  What they did, particularly Eick and Moore, they did in a way that was not cruel and did not destroy what was loved by fans of the 1970s show (though it took a while for some fans to embrace it). It built on and modernised the original in a relevant and poignant way.

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless did a reboot (slight reimagining) of Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space and it’s faithful to the original idea and has been updated respectfully.  Yes, Maureen and John are separated, but their adventures rekindle their romance and it works.

Judge Dredd with Karl Urban?  That was a freaking awesome reboot.  Superman?  It’s had the crap rebooted out of it, but all of them have managed to be respectful.  Not all of them have been successful (we’re looking at you Superman Returns and that Zod stuff in Man of Steel), but that’s beside the point.  Batman, the same.  Wonder Woman?  How great was the Gal Gadot movie?!  Spider-Man…?  Like Superman, he’s been rebooted a lot to varying degrees of success, but each time with a great deal of respect.  Star Trek: Discovery?  Roseanne, now The ConnersPrison BreakVThe X-Files?  Faithful continuations/reboots/remakes/reimaginings/new takes on beloved themes.

Will this latest Star Wars trilogy become a lesson in what not to do when you reboot or continue a beloved property?

Maybe. I hope so. I’d hate for other fans of any film or series to feel this way.

Feel free to disagree with me and shoot me an e-mail or send through some comments on the subject.  I’d love to hear what other fans think about this because I have honestly been wrestling with it for ages.  Maybe it’s not a soft reboot, whether the Skywalker line dies off or not, but to me this new trilogy is a crap continuation.  What happens after Episode IX?  There will be more Star Wars movies, we can all safely bet on that, but if the Skywalkers are gone will it still be Star Wars?

For me, I’ll watch the sequel trilogy as a diversion, but will re-read and enjoy the Star Wars Legends series and treat them as canon. They honour the fans more effectively than anything Disney has done to date.

J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson made wonderful films that I enjoyed for a variety of reasons, but to me they didn’t make great Star Wars films.

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Season 2 Excitement Grows

Michael Enters Spock's Quarters

The much anticipated Star Trek: Short Treks has kicked off, with the first episode airing last week in the United States and Canada.

If you’re an international viewer about to reach for your Netflix account to go check it out, don’t bother.  We’re still waiting, and sadly, it looks like we’ll be waiting for a while.

Netflix, the international streaming rights holder for Star Trek: Discovery, have no plans to carry the between-seasons mini-episodes at this time.

If, like me, you’re not happy about that, I recommend you let Netflix know by visiting this link and requesting the show.

The first episode of Short Treks is a Tilly-centric adventure called “Runaway.” Reviews online have been a little mixed but mostly positive.  What I’ve read is enticing, and I really want to see one scene in particular where Tilly apparently explains away a ruined mess hall by blaming it all on an hyperactive and destructive hormonal space rabbit!

Tilly from the Episode Runaway - Star Trek Short Treks

If you don’t want to wait for Netflix to pull their finger out and stream Short Treks, and want more information on the episode, you can check out a spoiler free review here, by Anthony Pascale from the wonderful TrekMovie website.

In other news, there has been an avalanche of Star Trek: Discovery related reveals in recent days, with most of them coming hot on the heels of CBS releasing the Season Two promo poster and a new trailer for the show.  The poster features the mystical “red angel” that we learn more about in the new trailer, which appears to have a link to Spock – and, it would appear, Michael.

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Logo

The poster is simple, and features the seven lights that Captain Pike mentions in the first trailer, with the Angel right in the very centre of the Starfleet Delta.  The poster is minimalist, beautiful, evocative and appropriately mysterious.

For those of you who don’t remember, this new season is meant to be an exploration of science and faith and the poster presents that effectively.

As mentioned, there is a new trailer out and it is awesome and packed full of excitement and surprises.  We get our first glimpses of Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number One.

I really expected them to hold those two particular surprises over until just before the season launch.

I’m glad they didn’t!

We also get a lot more of Captain Christopher Pike.

Want a closer look at Spock, and another look at Number One?

We’re here to please.

Spock is sporting a more rugged look than usual, foreshadowing his future Star Trek: The Motion Picture Kolinahr look.

I haven’t heard any backlash from fans about Spock’s dishevelled appearance yet, which is good.

I like the foreshadowing and how it adds more depth to this iconic character, in a way that is consistent with things we will see Spock do in the future.  He’s always been a character adrift, seeking somewhere and some way to belong, and, despite his adherence to logic, has always been a deeply spiritual individual.  He left Starfleet to undertake the rigorous Kolinahr ritual, and didn’t continue his quest for pure logic when he failed, even though the Masters would have probably let him, because his soul/heart/intellect felt the pull of something “greater.”

At heart, Spock is a scientist with an insatiable curiosity, but he’s also a seeker, someone open to exploring space and the inner most depths of his own complicated psyche.

As stated above, alongside Spock we get to see the new Number One, and Rebecca Romijn looks perfect in the role.  There were times while watching the trailer that I thought Majel Barrett-Roddenberry had come back, magically 50 years younger.

Rebecca is channeling the essence of this fan-favourite character, building on the work of Gene and Majel superbly.

In the brief moments we get to see Number One, she is poised, exuding obvious intelligence while also expressing compassion and concern. There is a level of measured maturity present that was also there in Majel’s portrayal and all I can say is the producers chose well.

I know some fans are a little disappointed that the Enterprise crew play a role in this season, but I am incredibly happy they’re included. Star Trek is the original shared universe, made so famous in recent times by Marvel, and it doesn’t hurt to remind Geekdom that we did it first, and we still do it really well.

I maintain my original prediction that this entire season is a sort of backdoor pilot for a Pike Enterprise series, and I really hope I’m right.

I’d watch that show.

Apart from the Spock and Number One surprises, the trailer treads familiar ground while still managing to throw the odd curve ball.

The Klingons appear, as does former Empress Philippa Georgiou.

As hinted in recent months, the Klingons have had something of a redesign and now come with hair.  All of them.  The in-universe explanation for this is that, traditionally, Klingons shave their heads for war.  Obviously, come Picard’s era, that tradition has been done away with.

What I’m about to write is an incredibly unpopular view, but I never liked the soft rock/soft metal look of the movie and Star Trek: The Next Generation era Klingons.  Their flowing locks never made sense.  All that beautiful hair waving around on a battlefield, to me, was just asking for an intergalactic hair-pulling fight of titanic proportions.

The streamlined, more predatory Klingons of Star Trek: Discovery Season One look dangerous.  They don’t look like they’re about to launch into a Bon Jovi cover.  Yes, there were issues with the heavy makeup and prosthetics, but the bald look made sense for a warrior race.

Still, this in-universe logic they’ve created makes sense and I’m happy to buy it.

L'Rell With Hair

Georgious’s appearance was of course alluded to in the deleted scene that made the rounds at the conclusion of Season One.

As that scene suggested, she would return as a part of the covert Section 31.  Not everyone knows that, and only a select few know that this Georgiou is from another universe.

Captain Pike?  He is completely unaware.  So… that should be interesting!  Mirror-Georgiou is most definitely not the rationale, reasoned, compassionate Starfleet officer Captain Pike will remember and it remains to be seen what he will make of this different version.

Last season’s cover story is still being used.  Georgiou was rescued from a Klingon prison at the end of the war.

Maybe Starfleet is hoping her quirks can be explained away as trauma, and not the actions of a frustrated former Empress who is a sociopathic megalomaniac from another universe.

Georgiou Returns

The last bit of news is that the new season will premiere January 17th in the United States and Canada, which means it will come to Australia January 18th.

There’s more news on Season Two thanks to the New York Comic Con, but I won’t spoil it here.  If you want to learn more, visit TrekMovie and read this article.

If you haven’t seen the new Season Two preview yet, watch it here.  This is the international trailer available from Netflix.

We don’t have long to wait now.

Season Two looks like it’s going to be quite different, in a good way, from what was (in my opinion) an excellent first season.

Star Trek: Discovery is available in the United States on CBS All Access, and is available on Space and CraveTV in Canada.  For international viewers, the series is available exclusively on Netflix.

Remember, if you’re one of those international viewers, put a little pressure on Netflix so we can enjoy Short Treks too.

LCARS Interface

Everything Old is New Again

Space 2049 April 2018 Update

There has been a lot of criticism leveled at the entertainment industry for their habit of “rebooting” or “re-imagining” existing television shows and movies.

Sometimes that criticism is deserved, and other times it’s not.  Sometimes it does make you wonder if Hollywood has run out of ideas, but at the same time there are some stories that deserve to be retold for a new generation to enjoy.

In science fiction, probably the two most notable examples of this are Ronald D. Moore’s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and J.J. Abrams’ rebooted original series Star Trek film.

I’m probably a little bit of an odd fan.  I don’t become instantly resistant to reboots or even remakes.  I approach either with cautious optimism.

My first exposure to this was the sort of reboot that was Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I was a very young teenager at the time, and remember being incredibly excited by the idea.  The four or five other friends I had who were Trekkers were not.  They thought it was a terrible idea, though almost instantly became Next Gen fans when the series finally hit Australian shores (as good old video cassettes we had to rent).

When it was announced Ronald D. Moore was going to re-imagine Battlestar Galactica I was a little more cautious than optimistic, because he was going to make some pretty significant changes, but there was excitement and I ended up loving it.  Both the BSG of my childhood and this more adult version could happily coexist and receive equal amounts of affection from me.

When news broke that J.J. Abrams was rebooting the original series Star Trek I was more optimistic and excited than cautious.  I admired his skill as a director and really liked some of the actors that were being announced.  Plus, thanks to the new BSG, I had learned the difference between a reboot and a re-imagining.

A reboot is a mostly faithful remake of an original property.  The characters and a lot of their backstories are intact, though parts of the overall story may differ.

A re-imagining is where the overall premise stays the same, and maybe even a number of the characters, but many things can and often do change.

Both Moore and Abrams delivered genre defining classics, approaching their material from different perspectives.  Battlestar Galactica became an almost instant hit.  There was initial fan backlash but that quickly faded, especially when BSG shining light Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo in the original), accepted a role on the new series. He told fans we could enjoy both and that both were shows worthy of admiration.  The 2009 Star Trek film was also an almost instant hit.  It has the highest US opening gross of any Trek film, and knocked the Dark Knight off it’s highest grossing IMAX perch by more than two million dollars.

The 2009 version of Star Trek has some issues (hello transwarp beaming and the destruction of Vulcan and death of Amanda), but highlighted the best of each main character while delivering a wonderful story.

Galactica’s story of survival against overwhelming odds, and Star Trek‘s story of a better and brighter future for humanity are stories that deserve to be retold so that new generations can appreciate them, learn from them and be inspired by them.

That’s when a reboot or a re-imagining works.

And, now, another beloved series has been given new life because it has a story of family, ingenuity and overcoming extreme odds as a team that is worth telling to a new audience, and that series is Lost in Space.

Rescuing Doctor Smith

Unless you’ve been holidaying on an island without an internet connection for the last six-months, you know that the reboot aired in April of this year and was very well received.  So much so it has earned a second season.

As should be expected (unfortunately) there were plenty of professional critics who found fault with the show, but no one listened to them because we’ve learned their opinions are just that… their opinions, and they are rarely worth the time taken to deliver them.  The rest of us loved the show.  The series has a 95% approval rating on Google from every day viewers like you and me, a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10.

The series is based on the original 1965 slightly campy television show starring Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Jonathan Harris, Marta Kristen, Angela Cartwright, Bill Mummy, Rick Turfeld and Bob May (both as the robot), and the reboot is a relatively faithful recreation of the fan favourite.  The new robot even manages a “Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger” or two.

The Robot and Will

While being a pretty faithful reboot, there are some differences.

The biggest changes are a Battlestar Galactica worthy gender swap, with Doctor Smith now a female and played by one of my favourite actresses, Parker Posey (seriously, if you haven’t seen her over the top performance in Josie and the Pussycats – the movie, you are missing out), and the robot who is now an alien mechanism that initially menaces everyone before befriending Will.  Then there’s Don West, who is now an interstellar mechanic rather than a military man.

If you’re a fan of Lost in Space those changes might irk you, because, let’s face it, Jonathan Harris in his iconic role as Doctor Smith became the star of the series, but I do encourage you to give this new version a go.  This isn’t the first reboot we’ve experienced, but it is the best and you should check it out with a little more optimism than caution.

For anyone who isn’t a long time fan, here’s a very brief LiS history: there have been two previous attempts to reboot Lost in Space, one as a film series and another as a television series.

In 1998 there was a film reboot that had great potential but was sunk by a bad script and some overly ambitious special effects.  Starring Matt LeBlanc, Mimi Rogers, Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, Jared Harris and Jack Johnson, Lost in Space the movie had no shortage of talent but it’s story was average and largely disappointing.

The film reboot featured cameos by original series cast members June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Angela Cartwright, and would have featured cameos by Jonathan Harris and Billy Mummy but both declined because the roles weren’t suitable.

Then, in 2004, The Robinsons: Lost in Space tried to recapture the original’s magic with a very serious pilot that is actually not bad.  Starring Jayne Brook, Brad Johnson, Mike Erwin, Adrianne Palicki, Ryan Malgarini, Dick Tufeld and Gil McKinney as new character David Robinson.

This particular reboot was sort of faithful to the original, but chose not to include Doctor Smith, and made John Robinson a retiring war hero who helped save Earth from an alien invasion.  The robot was there, and was the worst thing about the show, and for some reason Penny was a baby and they had a second son, but everything else was pretty spot on.

The unsuccessful pilot had a little too much teen angst and it’s pacing was off despite having been directed by John Woo, but it put a smart framework in place around the whole idea of the Jupiter 2, making it part of a colonisation effort.  It always seemed a bit weird to me that the original Jupiter 2 and the movie Jupiter 2 were crewed by just one family, off on an interstellar voyage alone – the original series family to colonise space, the movie family to build a jump gate so people could go off exploring.

Though the pilot failed to go to series, elements of it seem to have made it into this new version.

The new Jupiter 2 is part of a massive colonisation effort and is housed with many other Jupiters about the colonisation vessel Resolute. That mothership is knocked off her flight path by an alien attack, forcing the families and their Jupiters to launch prematurely and they all end up stranded on a mysterious planet.

Jupiter 2 2

This latest version boasts incredible special effects, a really wonderful cast, a solid story and a story arc that is both engaging and smart.

Having said that, it’s not a perfect show.

It feels like the writers don’t quite know what to do with the new Doctor Smith.  As much as we all loved Jonathan Harris’s over the top, magnificent scene stealing portrayal, that approach wouldn’t have worked with a modern audience.  So they took the humour away from Doctor Smith and made her a little more menacing, and most definitely mentally unbalanced. It’s a good choice, but the character still feels rough around the edges despite Parker Posey’s strong performance.

Likewise, it feels like they’re still trying to sort out Don West, played by Ignacio Serricchio.  His character is probably the least developed.

The Robinson family, however, are – to me – pitch perfect.  The characters are beautifully realised and their relationships are very convincing.  The stand outs are definitely Mina Sundwall as Penny and Maxwell Jenkins as Will.

The rest of the cast is made up of Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson, Toby Stephens as John Robinson, and Taylor Russell as Judy Robinson.

In this iteration of Lost in Space, Maureen is the Mission Commander.  She’s an aerospace engineer who is taking her family to a pre-established colony on Alpha Centauri where she hopes they can build a new life after a disastrous impact event left the Earth largely devastated.

Maureen is the biological mother of Judy, Penny and Will.

John Robinson is a former US Marine.  His marriage to Maureen has been a little rocky, thanks in large part to the numerous secret missions he was often on, keeping him away from his family.

John is the adoptive father of Judy and the biological father of Penny and Will.

Judy is a bit of a prodigy.  At 18 years of age she is the medical doctor for the mission (multiple colonists travelling to Alpha Centauri, not just the Robinson family).

Penny is, as with the original, the middle child.  She’s artsy, dreams of publishing the first book written on another planet, and is the most outspoken of the Robinson children.  Where Judy tows the line, Penny looks for ways to bend and twist that line.  Or abandon it completely.

Will is really the character who we, as the audience, experience this adventure through.  He befriends the robot, and through his influence changes the mechanoid from what appears to be a killing machine, into a helpful, human-friendly companion.

As mentioned above, Don West is one of the mechanics on the Resolute, the colony ship carrying the Jupiters to Alpha Centauri.  He’s a bit mercenary, but has real heart which we slowly get to see throughout the first ten episodes of season one.

Doctor Smith isn’t Doctor Smith.  She’s actually June Harris, a criminal and potential psychopath who drugs her sister, assumes her identity, and lies her way onto the Resolute.  In the attack that strands multiple Jupiters on an alien world, she impersonates Doctor Zachary Smith who is wounded by the robot (and played by Bill Mummy from the original series).  She leaves him to die and spends most of the first season lying to and manipulating everyone.

Jupiter 2 1

The Jupiter 2 probably isn’t as much of a ‘character’ yet as it was in the original, but it does play a large part in every episode of the show.  It’s a relatively faithful reproduction and amalgam of all of the Jupiter 2’s that have come before it.

As with the original series, the show is very much about family.  This version of the Robinson’s is a little more dysfunctional than any of the others we’ve ever seen, which is a good thing because it creates drama without resorting to overly annoying angst. How does this version of the Robinsons differ? Maureen and John are separated, Judy is Maureen’s only child from another marriage, and Will is a very anxious and slightly lost but still, eventually, heroic little boy. In previous versions he was a lot more confident and driven. In this version we see him earn his confidence and strength and it’s beautiful, because it’s incomplete and we know, like us, he still has a long way to go.

The show is compelling and full of heart and worth your time.  It’s visually beautiful, wonderfully acted and well written.  The direction and cinematography are outstanding and like watching a feature film, and every set and prop drips realism and functionality.  You believe you’re on board the Jupiter 2, and believe a vessel like it would have been made by human hands and launched into space to serve as home for a family as it joins a colonisation effort.

What the show proves is that the old can become new again, and that there really are some stories that deserve to be retold over and over again because they’re important, and because they’re relevant. Every generation deserves its own Lost in Space, it’s own Star Trek, and even its own Star Wars because those stories will never not be morality tales that can inspire and positively affect us. Humanity is a work in progress, and these stories are our touchstones and are the signposts that help us aspire and dream and grow.

Since watching the new Lost in Space series, I’ve spoken with friends and family about it.  All of them have universally enjoyed the show, with many saying that one of the things they loved most was the fact they could watch it with their children.  That doesn’t mean that the show is childish in any way.  It’s not.  It’s intense, breathtaking and exciting, but not in a way that alienates children, though in a way that could make them snuggle down in mum or dad’s arms during the tense moments!

Every time I see a remake done this well, it gives me hope.

There are ways to bring back beloved shows with powerful messages that will work in the 21st Century, with just a few simple tweaks.

As always, I maintain hope that we’ll see a reboot of Space: 1999.

Until then, enjoy this wonderful blast from the past.  Season 2 of Lost in Space will air in the first half of 2019 on Netflix.

Lost in Space was developed by Matt Sazama, based on the work of Irwin Allen.  It’s score is by Christopher Lennertz, featuring snipits of John Williams’ iconic original theme. The cinematographer is Sam McCurdy.

The show is produced by Zack Estrin, Kevin Burns, Jon Jashni, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Neil Marshall and Marc Helwig.

It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Each episode runs from between 47 minutes and 65 minutes.

For more information on the original series, visit the LiS Wiki.

For more information on the Netflix series, visit the official Lost in Space page.

To watch the unsuccessful 2004 pilot for The Robinsons: Lost in Space, visit YouTube.  The resolution is terrible, the special effects are unfinished, and it’s broken up into ten or so minute chunks, but you’ll find it engaging if you’re a fan.

Here’s hoping the rights holders for our favourite 1970s sci-fi series get the message and consider a reboot of a fan favourite show that still has an important and relevant story to tell.

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Moon Dust Key to Lunar Construction

Earth and Lunar

Mars is more often than not in the news these days as the primary focus for future human settlement, having surpassed the moon as everyone’s number one go to in the popular consciousness.

Though the moon might no longer be foremost in everyone’s mind when it comes to space colonisation, it’s still front and centre for a number of space agencies.

NASA, the European Space Agency, Roscosmos, the Indian Space Research Agency and the Chinese National Space Administration are all progressing plans to build everything from an International Lunar Village to an operational moon base on our satellite.

One of the challenges that has confronted these various space agencies as they seek to put a permanent settlement on the moon, has been how do they build the various structures without bankrupting their respective countries?

Taking materials from Earth and launching them to the moon is time consuming and incredibly expensive.  Multiple launches would be needed to build anything big enough to house a research facility or even a mining operation, with each of those launches costing millions of dollars.

Now, however, European researchers are wondering if they can use moon dust to build an International Lunar Village.

The entire surface of the moon is covered in regolith (moon dust), which is fairly fine particles of silicate.  The regolith covers everything on the surface of the moon to a depth of between four to five meters, going as deep as 15 meters in the Lunar highlands.

European scientists suggest the dust could be used to create bricks using a 3D Printer.  These bricks would build roads, launch pads, habitats and other necessary facilities.

Artistis Impression of Future Lunar Base

Tests are currently planned to see how the regolith will withstand radiation once it is compressed and used as a building material.

The big thing is that Lunar dust is electrostatic because it is constantly bombarded by solar and cosmic radiation.  It’s electrostatic nature is what causes it to cling to everything it touches.  This could pose a problem and may prevent it from being a common building material, but we’ll know more soon.

The tests won’t actually be done using real moon dust, but an Earth substance that is comparable – volcanic soil.  The geology of Earth and Lunar is very similar, and scientists have discovered that remnants of a 45-million-year lava flow near Cologne in Germany closely mirrors moon dust.  Using that volcanic dust should give them an accurate idea of whether or not the moon dust will be a viable material.

The tests will not only determine functionality under radioactive extremes, but the actual longevity of any structure built using the material.

3D Printed Model of Habitat

So, what about this lunar village?

The image above of a bisected habitat module was created by architectural design and engineering firm Foster+Partners for the European Space Agency.  The proposed building looks appropriately futuristic, and a little Space: 1999.  Which I love!

The ESA plans to build the village in the southern polar region, where a good deposit of ice water has been discovered.

In a joint effort between the ESA and Roscosmos, the ESA will be sending their PROSPECT (Package for Resource Observation and in-Situ Prospecting for Exploration, Commercial exploitation and Transportation) mission to the moon in 2020 aboard a Russian Luna-27 mission.

This will be the first of a series of planned ESA missions to the moon, that will, the ESA hopes, deposit robot workers to help kick start their colonisation efforts.

This is all exciting news.  I do wish NASA were more involved, but perhaps that will happen as the missions draw closer to launch, or perhaps NASA has their own plans that they just aren’t ready to share with us.

To learn more about these exciting initiatives, visit Phys.org, Space.com, and Syfy.com.

I love it when we take one step closer to life off our planet.  Let’s face facts and be proactive, Earth is stretched beyond it’s capacity to safely support human life and we need to be reaching for the stars if we hope to have any kind of future.

We’ll keep you up to date on this initiative as more information is released to the public.

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