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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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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SciFi Standard Bearers

SciFi Standard Bearers

Televised science fiction has been enjoying something of a resurgence these last few years, with some people wondering if we’re entering into a kind of ‘Golden Age’ of scifi.

Maybe!

People my age, who were born in the 1970s and 1980s, once thought that the latter half of the 1980s and the entirety of the 1990s was that Golden Age, because of the number of science fiction shows on free-to-air TV at the time.  Shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and its spin-offs, Quantum LeapThe X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond, Farscape, Babylon 5 and it’s spin-off Crusade, Stargate SG-1Earth: Final Conflict, SlidersSeaQuest DSV, and more.

Honestly, it was pretty amazing.  Even in Australia, where we still don’t get a lot of scifi content on free-to-air and have to wait for those shows to arrive on DVD (or at that time, video cassette), we could still catch two or three shows a week – The X-FilesFarscapeSeaQuest DSVBuffy the Vampire Slayer and Space: Above and Beyond.  All while waiting for the latest Star Trek or Babylon 5 episode to arrive on video.

With that amount of content, you’d expect some duds, but most of the science fiction and, what eventually came to be known as ‘genre shows’ (thanks to Buffy) were pretty good.

Then it all stopped.  We had the odd ‘sputter’ with the amazing Battlestar Galactica reboot, and we had CharmedAngelV, and the Stargate spin-offs for a while, but suddenly genre series seemed to all but disappear from our screens.  Until recently.

Now, over the last few years, all sorts of incredible, not easily definable television shows have captivated science fiction and fantasy fans, as well as mainstream audiences alike – The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Vikings, the revamped Doctor Who, Westworld, Ash vs The Evil Dead, Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, The Strain, Legion, Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Agents of SHIELD, The Exorcist, The Expanse, Dark Matter, Killjoys and soon, the brand new Star Trek: Discovery.

There are so many ‘genre’ shows airing right now that it’s actually difficult to keep track of them!  But, how many are traditional science fiction?  Scifi set in space, on a starship, zooming about all over the place?

Very few, actually.

I don’t think anyone really knows why.  At one point it might have been an issue of cost, because science fiction shows have never been cheap, but with Game of Thrones costing a whopping six million dollars per episode, that’s probably not a consideration any more.

It might be because, as Commander Jeffrey Sinclair from Babylon 5 would say, “Nothing is the same anymore.”  We’re not watching television in the same ways as we used to.  We’re streaming shows and we’re watching them on multiple platforms.  Also, we’re getting, on average, half as many episodes per season as we once used to.

People are time poor in the 21st Century, and on top of that the old studio system doesn’t hold as much sway as it once did.  Plus, many of us are paying for our content and because of that we’re expecting something special.  We want ‘event’ television, but event television that tells an intimate tale.

Science fiction is definitely event television, but it hasn’t always done the intimate bit very well.

Thankfully, that is changing and we’re starting to see more traditional scifi again.

Right now, there are three standard bearers for science fiction television.

The Expanse, Killjoys, and Dark Matter.

All three take place on a larger canvas, telling bigger stories, but focus episode to episode on the lives of a few characters, taking us deep into their worlds.

With The Expanse, we’re following a crew of four, learning about them and their relationships episode to episode.

With Killjoys, we’re following a crew of three people, unravelling the mystery of their lives.

With Dark Matter we’re following what was a crew of six (but that fluctuated in Season 2) as they try to remember who they are – and on discovering that, try to fight against who they were and become better people.

In just two seasons, for each of these shows, we have learned more about their main characters than we did most of the characters on any of the old Star Trek shows.

These new series are showing the way for modern science fiction, and it’s exciting.

I haven’t seen The Expanse yet, because it hasn’t aired on television or been made available to us on DVD or BluRay, for reasons that are just stupid, but I am a fan of the books and follow all of the news on the show and it looks amazing.

Killjoys and Dark Matter, however, I can comment on, and both are outstanding.

Killjoys took me four episodes to get into, but by episode five of Season One I was hooked and I’ve been in love with the show ever since.  What hooked me?  The characters.  Dutch, Johnny and D’avin.

Dark Matter grabbed me straight away and has kept me wanting more season to season.  What grabbed me?  In particular Two (Portia), Three (Marcus), Five (Emily), Six (Kal) and the Android.

All of the other stuff in both shows is just icing on the cake.

As well as the intimate story lines mentioned above, those shows have something else in common – they have strong female leads, they don’t shy away from issues of sexuality and gender, and they show us a multicultural future where light and dark dance around the edges of what are very ‘grey’ realities.  I love Star Trek‘s utopia like future, but I get that today’s audiences want some sort of discourse on just how screwed up we all are.  They want to it see it reflected and mirrored on television, and they want to see our heroes fighting, and at times submitting, to that.

Rather than break these shows down in any detail, I encourage you to watch them if you haven’t – and to continue to support them if you already enjoy them.

If you want to know more about these three excellent series, you can visit their official websites here: The Expanse, Killjoys, and Dark Matter.

As someone who hopes to see an old favourite, Space: 1999, rebooted, there are lessons that can be learned from these new shows about how to structure a series and most especially about what a modern audience wants.  Intimacy.  Inclusion.  An exploration of modern issues.

Space: 1999 was already doing some of that back in the 1970s, with a very multicultural crew on Moonbase Alpha, and any reboot of it would no doubt be able to tackle that and other things that are important to us now, and in very creative and intimate ways.  I can imagine a transgender crew member, and with a character like Maya an episode or two or five focused on inclusion and the occasional bigotry that can come with not understanding something or someone.

More and more, as I dissect both of these more traditional science fiction shows and compare them with other genre offerings, I see a place for Space: 1999 in modern television (obviously with a few changes), and get more and more excited about the possibility.

Moonbase Alpha was a microcosm of Earth, and it’s philosophical ‘bent’ was all about us (in the 1970s) asking “who am I?”  “Why am I here?”  Where am I going?”  Things many of these genre series are debating right now in their own unique and dramatic ways.

I hope that this renaissance of science fiction that we are enjoying right now continues for some time, and I hope that a new Space: 1999 becomes a part of that.

I first wanted the show to get a reboot in the 80s.  Then again in the early 2000s.  But now, looking at the world as it is, and looking at what genre television has become, I feel NOW is the time.  It would have been too soon a couple of decades ago.

As far as I know, ITV still own the rights to the television series.

Hopefully they realise the potential of Space: 1999, and give it the new life it deserves.

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The Unexpected Joy of Podcasts

Science Fiction Classics

Have you ever been SUPER late to “the party?”

I have been.  On two occasions.

I still can’t believe I was so moronic.

The first was with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  All of my friends were constantly talking up this apparently amazing TV show about a beautiful blonde cheerleader who kicked vampire ass on a regular basis.  I thought they were mad.  How could a show about a vampire killing cheerleader be quality TV?!  And when I learned she was in love with a vampire on top of all of that, all I could think was “no, no, no, no, NO!”

Holy crap was I wrong.  I came to Buffy half way through it’s second season and never looked back.

The second time I was late to the party was with Podcasts.

I didn’t want to listen to people rabbit on about the things I loved, in case it somehow ruined that thing for me.

I’m a huge science fiction fan, and I’ll watch a bad sci-fi movie or TV episode over pretty much everything else, but the thought of listening to other fans dissect the movies and shows I loved gave me a headache.  I felt that way thanks to the comments sections on various sci-fi news sites.  There was a time, years ago, when you could read some really insightful stuff in those sections.  Comments that validated how you felt, and comments that challenged you to rethink your opinion… and then they became a haven for negative people spouting negative crap that would often cause a ‘flame’ war.

I feared Podcasting would give those negative voices even more of a platform.

Again, I was wrong.  Sometimes you come across the odd negative naysayer and the odd obnoxious panel member, but they seem to be an exception to the norm.

In the last few weeks I’ve become addicted to a whole bunch of Podcasts and I’m really enjoying the experience.

I have a long drive to and from work everyday and I can spend up to three hours in my car depending on traffic.  While I’m happy to listen to music, and sometimes just get lost in my own thoughts, I recently decided to try out Podcasts and have not looked back.  For me, it’s like having a car full of good friends chatting to me about my favourite things.

There are courses you can do via Podcast, there are meditations, there are discussion panels about your favourite movies, and in particular discussion panels on your favourite shows.

I thought I’d share one particular Podcast I recently listened to and loved, and list two ongoing ones that are excellent.  If you’re a sci-fi fan who has never given Podcasts a shot, these ones are some you may want to check out.

Eagle on Platform

First up, the single episode I listened to recently.

Autopilot by Scott Johnson and Tom Merritt.  This dynamic duo watch and comment on the pilot episodes of multiple television shows across the decades and its chock full of awesome.

These guys are HILARIOUS, and many of their insights are both thought provoking and entertaining.

In season three, episode nine of their series, they take a look at “Breakaway”, the pilot episode of Space: 1999.

Check it out here.

Babylon 5 Season 1 Cast Photo

The Audio Guide to Babylon 5 has fast become one of my favourite Podcasts.  Sitting down with Chip, Erika and Shannon is like being wrapped up in a warm B5 and sci-fi geek hug that always makes me smile.  That hour and a bit of my trip into work everyday flies by when these guys are on my list.

I crammed three years’ worth of their Podcasts into four weeks and never once felt bored.  They’re excellent.

If you’re a fan of Babylon 5, this series is a must.

Check the guys out here.

There are multiple ways to interact with Chip, Shannon and Erika, and they’ve created a very active fan community.

Star Trek Through The Years

The last Podcast I’ll mention is Shuttle Pod.

There are, obviously, thousands more, but these three really stood out to me.  Excellent production values, insightful commentary, interesting personalities, humour, and warm ‘feels’ everywhere.

Shuttle Pod is a production of one of my favourite Star Trek news sites, TrekMovie.com.  They discuss everything from the movies, to the shows, and the characters.  Their recent look at the Trek films has been both entertaining and informative.

Check them out here.

If you’ve never given Podcasts a go, now is the time.  Most of us will have a few days off over Easter, and there are worse ways to spend a holiday.

If you’re an old hand at Podcasts and love science fiction, but have never given these Podcasts a try, look them up and have a listen.

I’m thinking of doing a tour through the Space: 1999 episodes as a Podcast, but I’m literally the only Space: 1999 fan that I know!

If I can ever conscript someone to join me, or find a really interesting way to do it solo, they’ll feature here.

That’s it for now.

If you’re an Easter celebrating person, Happy Easter, and eat chocolate and prosper.

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NuTrek III Update – New Costumes and a New Alien

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A lot of filming is happening in Vancouver, and it’s slowly – in tiny little trickles – giving us insight into the new Star Trek feature film due out on the 8th of July next year.

A series of very interesting photos have popped up online via ScreenCrush, as well a video which was quickly taken down by Paramount.

Some people might consider the following to be spoilers (which is why the link is way way below), so if you don’t want to know anything about the new movie, click or tap away from this post like a crazy person!  Just in case you have trouble finding the right button in time, here’s a lovely image of the cast of NuTrek with J.J. Abrams to break up this post…

NuTrek Cast and JJ Abrams

Still with me?

Okay then…

ScreenCrush have a bunch of exclusive shots from the set of Star Trek Beyond.

There’s nothing in any of the photos that gives away the plot of the new film, so don’t worry about that, but there are photos that show us a brand new alien and what appear to be brand new standard and away team uniforms for Starfleet personnel.

Simon Pegg can be seen sporting the new standard uniform design which is just slightly altered with a higher collar, and Anton Yelchin and Chris Pine can be seen wearing what I’m assuming are new away team (or landing party, if you want to be traditional) uniforms.

For those of you who weren’t aware, Justin Lin, the Director of Star Trek Beyond, brought in his own costume designer for the latest Trek film.  Sanja Hays replaces Michael Kaplan, who designed the updated Starfleet uniforms for 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

As you’ll see when you follow the link below to ScreenCrush, Sanja has designed a more practical new look for those Starfleet officers who go on away missions.  I’d love to have the photos up here, but it’s an exclusive to ScreenCrush and I need to respect that and direct a visit to their site.

The new away team/landing party uniforms look great.  One of my few quibbles with Star Trek has been the impracticality of the crew uniforms.  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had an added jacket for away missions, and Star Trek: Enterprise had the MACOs who were decked out and ready for anything, but otherwise nothing in any movie or episode ever really looked rugged enough to survive the potential harsh conditions and dangers of exploring an unknown world.

While Starfleet has traditionally had an exploration and peace-keeping focus, it has also been the defense force of the Federation.  To coin a Vulcanism, it’s only logical to be prepared for every possibility, and spandex isn’t being prepared.

When you visit ScreenCrush, you’ll also get a look at Sofia Boutella in makeup and costume.  She’s playing an alien we’ve never seen before in any Star Trek film or television series.

For those of you who don’t know who Sofia is, here’s a photo of her when she’s not playing an alien in a science fiction blockbuster…

Sophia Boutella

If you’d like to check out her work, her IMDb profile is here.

We know absolutely nothing about Sofia’s character or the species she is playing.  The crew and cast of the latest Star Trek film have been incredibly tight lipped, but the character looks interesting.

Her look in the movie is almost feral.  Stark white skin with black facial tattoos, and a long white poneytail.

She looks ready for action.

You can’t tell much about her relationship to the crew, but she appears to be working with them.

The biggest reveal though, is the uniforms. In the photos, Anton and Chris are wearing a black tunic, presumably the same style the cast has been wearing for years under their duty uniforms, but that’s where the old ends and the new begins.  We can see new steel blue leather (or some other heavy material) jackets with what we can only assume are department related coloured stripes on the shoulders, and we can also see the familiar Starfleet delta on the chest and as the central focus of a patch on the shoulder, as well as new pants that look to be leather with knee padding (they’re reminiscent of motocross pants), a new holster strapped across the waist and thigh, and much heavier looking boots.  The pants, like the jacket, are steel blue.  The boots are black with what appears to be a steel shin guard.

The patch, interestingly, was the first official photo released from the film back when it was gearing up to commence filming.  Justin Lin released a photo on Twitter to wet the appetites of fans who had been waiting far too long for news.

It took a while to find a good image of it, but the wonderful Serpentorslair has an excellent quality one.

Star Trek Beyond - First Production Photo

The photos from Vancouver don’t give a lot away about the plot of Star Trek Beyond – but we can draw a few conclusions.

The shots seem to suggest that the alien Sofia is playing is helping Kirk and his crew escape from a crash site, or she’s helping them to investigate a crash site.

As you go through the photos you will see what might be harness wires behind Chris Pine and Anton Yelchin.  These could indicate that Kirk and Chekov are propelled from the hatch of the crashed ship or that once they’re up on the surface of the crashed ship an explosion takes place blowing both of them off the hull?  Because of the angle, it’s also possible the wire is just a safety device holding the hatch open so it doesn’t bonk one of the actors on the head!

It’s all conjecture until some plot details leak.

If you want to check out the ScreenCrush article and see all the photos, click here for their exclusive.

Star Trek Beyond Logo for STPRO

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Nu-Trek III Update – Vancouver

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Star Trek Beyond is attracting a lot of attention in Vancouver, one of the main filming locations for the film which is due for release in July of next year.

Susan Gittins is one of those people paying close attention to the shoot.  Susan’s a mainstream media journalist who started writing about, and taking photos of, productions doing their thing in Vancouver after the 2010 Winter Olympics showcased the beautiful city for the world to see.

Her blog is great – it has a wealth of information on a variety of films and television shows in production in Vancouver and it’s well worth a look.

For Trek fans, she has some great secret shots of the new, huge, mysterious set that has been under construction in Vancouver, and these include a shot of possible new aliens being directed by Justin Lin.  A lot of the shots are on green screen but they give us an interesting look at the new film as it comes together.

Check out the two reports she has just posted right here!

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Why did Gates McFadden Leave ST: TNG for a Year?

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If you’re a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you’ve probably wondered why Gates McFadden suddenly disappeared at the end of Season One, only to reappear at the beginning of Season Three.

I was a young teenager when it all happened, and an avid reader of the old Starlog magazine and I can still remember the furor that erupted.  Trek fans were super pissed.  While a lot of fans embraced Diana Muldaur’s excellent portrayal of Doctor Katherine Pulaski, many more wanted Gates back.

There have been all sorts of rumours over the years as to why Doctor Crusher was removed from the show, ranging from the producers wanting to give Picard multiple love interests, to the writers not knowing how to handle storylines for a mother and son, to a personality clash with one of the producers.

To Gates’ credit (and a sign of her professionalism) she’s never openly commented on any feud or disagreement that happened behind the scenes.

Doctor Beverly Crusher

The first two things a lot of fans thought was that Gates, like Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) left because Beverly Crusher didn’t get a lot to do.  The second, that there had been tension on the set between the actors.  That rumour was quickly phasered to death.  The friendships between the main cast were new, but fierce, and Patrick Stewart showed that beautifully by fighting to get Gates back.  When she was eventually asked to return, she refused, and it was Patrick who persuaded her to give TNG another try.  Thankfully, Gates said yes.  The fans were happy, but we were mystified.  Something had happened but we didn’t know what.  As the years went by we were left believing we would never know the truth.

It looks like we were wrong.

The truth is, it would seem, finally here… thanks to the great Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

The Shat is getting ready to release a brand new Trek documentary called Chaos on the Bridge that focuses on the tumultuous first three years of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The reviews are pretty good, though apparently it is very critical of Gene Roddenberry.  From all reports it sounds like the Shat has dug up new information no fan has ever seen or heard before.

Michael Hinman’s 1701News has more on the documentary and the answer to who drove Gates away, and why she returned right here.  As a fan of Doctor Beverly Crusher, it’s nice to finally know what happened.  I’m a little saddened by it all because I respect the work of the person who didn’t like Gates – but as this documentary shows, you can’t always get along with everyone and sadly, in TV land, producers hold a great deal of power.

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