Archive for ‘TV’

June 15, 2012

Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Ok, first of all, if the title of this alone doesn’t have you squeeing with glee then I’m pretty sure you should just hand over your geek credentials right now. Still, I might give you a pass, but if you read the blurb for this book and don’t start jumping up and down in fan-girlish elation then, I’m sorry, you’re not human. You’re certainly not a geek.

To prove my point, here is said blurb:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Ok, for those of you don’t know (and really, what are you doing on this website if you don’t even know what a Redshirt is?) Redshirts are the crewmen on Star Trek who beam down to the planet with Kirk and Spock and the other main characters and then the redshirts end up getting eaten by a giant Were-Duck Space monster or melting to ooze because of some random Space Plague. Redshirts are the cannon fodder who die to let the audience know the situation is serious.

Basically, this book is Star Trek told from the Redshirts’ perspective, and they’re not taking it lying down anymore. But that’s oversimplifying. This book is just…dense. Layered. It’s Galaxy Quest with a heart. There’s dry humor and satire and meta-wink-wink-nudge-nudge stuff and really moving love stories and sadness and action and it just FUCKING ROCKS. I’m sorry, I’m not being articulate. I just finished this half and hour ago and I’m riding the high that really good fiction gives to any serious reader. This is absolutely one of the best books I’ve read in years. I read it one sitting; I just finished reading it half an hour ago and I already want to read it again. Here, to help convince you, have a sampling of some of my favorite bits:

“I really want to know what you’re smoking,” Finn said. “Because whatever the hell it is, I’m betting I can make a hell of a profit on it.”

***

“On a good day I can bang out a first draft of an episode in six hours. Is it good? It ain’t Shakespeare, but then, Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus, so you tell me.”

***

“What we’ve been told…is that as the flagship of the Dub U, the Intrepid takes on a larger share of sensitive diplomatic, military and research missions than any other ship in the fleet. Because of that, there is commensurate increase of risk, and this a statistically larger chance crew lives will be lost. It’s part of the risk of such a high-profile posting.”

“In other words, crew deaths are a feature, not a bug.”

***

Really, if you have even a little bit of the SF geek in your soul, if you enjoy meta-fiction and ruminations about the nature of story and characters, if you enjoy stories about underdogs and friendship and soldiering on in the face of impossible odds then pick this one up. You won’t regret it.

Buy this book. Now. John Scalzi deserves some of your money for being so fucking brilliant, AND so talented it makes me gnash my teeth in the best kind of writerly envy.

Here are some buy links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

By hook or crook, guile or strength or whatever READ THIS BOOK!

May 21, 2012

Weekly Want: Geeky Movie T-shirts

I thought it might be fun to do a post each week that appeals to the rapid consumer in all of our little heart of geek hearts. To that end, I’m going to comb the internets each week to find cool stuff that I personally as a rapid geek am drooling to buy but also that I think you, as my fellow geeks, will be interested in.

Now, one of my claims to fame is my t-shirt collection. It’s true, ask the other nerdgirls. It is Epic (yeah with a capital E, wut?) And many of the staples of said t-shirt collection are movie-based shirts. So, here, now, I’m going to give you a rundown of my top five Geek t-shirts. Some of these I own. Some I’m only drooling over as I eagerly await my next paycheck.

I shall explain my criteria for what makes a truly excellent movie t-shirt. First of all, it should not have just the movie poster on it. That’s too easy. That is not for the true, die-hard movie buff. Famous quotes are OK, but the better shirts are just referential. These require inside, intimate knowledge of the movies. These also get you more points with fellow nerds because it’s like being part of a secret club. Getting the obscure movie reference is like knowing the secret handshake. You are sister-geeks in the Great Sisterhood of Geekdom. Which is why this shirt, which totally could have made my list, is instead being called out for suckage:

Seriously? You have the referential thing nailed and then you blow it at the very end by saying what movie you’re referencing. T-Shirt FAIL. Totally.

Anyway, just had to get that off my chest…so now, let’s get to the good stuff. The best of the best when it comes to Geeky Movie T-shirts. Let the t-shirt bonanza begin!!!

5. The Sunnydale Reunion T-Shirt: Meets all the criteria. Referential without giving the game away to the uninitiated. Good color. Cute graphic. FTW.

4. Hoverboards Need Land: Another from one of my fav t-shirt purveyors Snorgtees.com. It’s a famous quote but that still doesn’t mean people will get the reference. (My mom didn’t. *headdesk*)

Snorg Tees really speak to my movie buff soul like no other online retail establishment. I have several of their shirts (including this other BTTF shirt over here.) And I want many, many more of them. Case in point….

3. Save Endor. Just look at this shirt. Do I need to say more? LOVE. IT.

2. Because this wouldn’t be a complete list without a Star Trek reference, my favorite of the many “Red Shirt” t-shirts on offer:

1. And now, because I believe in saving the best for last, here is the Ultimate Movie Buff t-shirt. Spoilt. This shirt is the ultimate proof of my rule that t-shirts should force people to be in the know on movies to be Truly Awesome. This t-shirt is the ultimate test of that. Also, the graphic design on this kicks ass.

Here, have a close up so you can appreciate this better…

Do you have a favorite geeky movie t-shirt? Point me towards it. I’m always trying to expand my collection.

Ta,

Beth Matthews

May 15, 2012

Trailer Roundup: Upcoming New Shows

The dust has settled and now that it seems the networks have finalized their 2012-2013 lineups, we’re getting a first glimpse of what’s in store for us genre fans this year. Let’s take a look-see:

NBC-Universal

“Revolution”
Fifteen years after a massive electrical blackout has effectively reeled civilization back to the dark ages, our heroine is living a quiet post-apocalyptic life when BAM! a militia shows up and murders her father – who as it turns out just MIGHT have known something about the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future… and so on.

Obviously created to tap in to the popularity of series like The Walking Dead”, the popular hysteria of “Doomsday Preppers” and that “Left Behind” nonsense, NBC execs seem to be banking on the idea that audiences will be fascinated enough by the apocalypse this year (2012 hello) to spend a few of what precious hours they have left on this earth watching this precious television program. After watching this promo it appears to be simply all the action bits from “The Walking Dead”, minus the gore (for the sensitive folks), with a sprinkling of quick-edit kung-fu. Verdict: I like my characters developed, I’ll be sticking with “The Walking Dead”.

The series stars Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Anna Lise Phillips, Zak Orth, Graham Rogers, J.D. Pardo, Giancarlo Esposito, David Lyons, Maria Howell, Tim Guinee and Andrea Roth.
Premiere Monday, September 10, Airs Mondays at 10P.

ABC

Zero Hour
The trailer opens on Hank and Laila – A seemingly happy couple who exchange happy couple banter on a boardwalk in the town they just moved to. As the publisher of a paranormal enthusiast magazine, Modern Skeptic, Hank Galliston has spent his career following clues, debunking myths and solving conspiracies. But when Laila is abducted from her antique clock shop (BTW, this is a job?), Hank gets pulled into one of the most compelling mysteries in human history, stretching around the world and back centuries. Oh, and it involves alien Nazi babies.

I have to admit I was thrown by the intrusive narration and the sheer whininess of Hank’s character even in the few short scenes where he actually has something to say. Verdict: Intrigued, but cautious. Hank seems like a pansy.

The series stars stars Anthony Edwards, Carmen Ejogo, Scott Michael Foster, Addison Timlin, Jacinda Barrett and Michael Nyqvist.

The Neighbors
City-dweller Marty Weaver buys the new home of his dreams out in the ‘burbs, only to discover, to his wife’s horror that the neighbors are aliens masquerading as suburbanites. The plot of “The Neighbors” is nice and simple a la “Coneheads”, “ALF” or “Third Rock from the Sun”, and while the series will likely go exactly where these titles have gone before, there should still be plenty of laughs left to mine.

The series stars Lenny Venito, Simon Templeman, Jami Gertz, Toks Olagundoye, Tim Jo, Isabella Cramp, Clara Mamet, Ian Patrick and Max Charles.

 

January 19, 2012

11 Reasons to Watch “Archer”

[via UGO]

When people are asked to name great animated comedies the likes of South Park and Family Guy are usually at the top of the list. And every time that happens, I shed a tear (I’m an emotional man). Not because I dislike those shows (in fact, quite the opposite), but because Archer never seems to be among the top three named. Despite being created by Adam Reed (Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Sealab 2012), Archer is often overlooked by many.  But we’re going to change that status right here, right now (time zones be damned!). Hear me, Internet, Archer is a show worthy of your time and affection! Don’t believe us? Here’s 11 reasons why you should watch Archer.

Also, don’t forget to watch the comedy’s return tonight, January 19th on FX.
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January 18, 2012

Updates on our Favorite TV Shows

Psych Renewed for a 7th Season!

On Tuesday, USA Network released that Psych has been renewed for a seventh season. YAY!  Season 7 will consist of 16 episodes and begin airing some time later this year. “We are always trying to find ways to reward our Psych brand ambassadors for their loyalty and passion and social media plays a critical role in how we connect with the people who matter most — the fans,” USA Co-Presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel said in a statement. “It was exciting to deliver this historical news to them first and before traditional media.”

Psych, currently USA’s longest-running series, returns for the second half of Season 6 on Wed., Feb. 29 at 10/9c. If you haven’t watch any episodes, start catching up. This is a show full of nerdylicious stuff. Shawn and Gus are just like you and me.

The Walking Dead Starting Again Soon and Third Season News!

AMC announced today from the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour in Pasadena, CA that the third season of The Walking Dead will consist of 16 episodes. All previous season were only 13 episodes. We get three more episodes!

Cougar Town Finally Returns!

The comedy is returning to ABC on Feb. 14 at 8:30 p.m. YAY!

Sherlock Renewed for Season 3!

The incredibly awesome BBC series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freemanhas been renewed for the third season! I loved the first season, and I’m looking forward to seeing season 2, which just concluded on BBC, and is set to air on PBS this May. I’m excited to see this story continue.

Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat confirmed the show’s renewal via his Twitter on Sunday night when he said, “Of course there’s going to be a third series — it was commissioned at the same time as the second.”

As of right now there’s no start date for the third season production, but the the show is expected to begin airing again next year.

Game of Thrones International Premiere Dates

Game of Thrones World Wide Coverage Map:

We already know that HBO’s Game of Thrones starts April 1. But, for all of you out there that aren’t in the states, some dates have been released. The UK will get Season 2 premiere on April 2, only one day after The US and Canada.
The Netherlands also has their Season 2 premiere on April 2, their Season 1 has yet to premiere, but looks to begin on February 8.

In Greece, the show (Season 1) will air on the Nova Cinema channel starting January 21, 2012.

For more information about previous air dates for Season 1 and Season 2 premiere dates, check out the International Air Dates page on Winter-is-Coming.

[via SpoilerTV]

December 30, 2011

TV Shows We Lost in 2011

[via TV.com]

 

December 23, 2011

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Charles Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ characters have become timeless classics, thanks to their long-lasting presence in newspapers and their many animated TV specials. (“It’s Arbor Day Again, Charlie Brown!”) A big part of the characters’ success is thanks to the classic ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ TV special.

Since it first aired in 1965, the beloved special has practically become required viewing for families celebrating the holiday season. Its message of anti-commercialism and good will towards man mixed with Schulz’s trademark humor of caustic kids in a cynical world is a perfect remedy for the holidays that can get sappier than your aunt’s homemade egg nog.

At the time of its airing, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ received rave reviews, record ratings and an annual presence on television and home video for decades to come. And yet 46 years later, few fans know about its rocky beginnings that were fraught with much frustration and cynicism by the network executives who commissioned it and the producers who fought so hard to preserve Schulz’s humor and pathos. In celebration of the special’s annual TV airing, here are some things you might not know about ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’

1. Most of the voice actors were cast from kids in the director’s neighborhood

Charles Schulz (known to friends and colleagues as “Sparky”) wanted to bring believable voices to the characters he created, so the producers cast real children to give life to the ‘Peanuts’ gang instead of adult voice-over artists. Professional child actors were cast in the roles for Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy since they were required to recite most of the dialogue. The rest came from children who lived in director Bill Melendez’s Southern California neighborhood, most of whom had zero experience in acting or voice-over work.

2. Some of the child actors were so young, they couldn’t read the script

Melendez and Schulz wanted to cast children in the special in order to preserve their innocence and voice because they believed it would not only make the cartoon more realistic, but also funnier and edgier. Their idea hit a snag when the production team realized that some of the children were so young that they couldn’t read the script that was sitting in front of them. Melendez said in an interview for the book ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition’ that he had to recite the script line by line for the children who couldn’t read, including Christopher Shea who voiced Linus.

3. Charles Schulz refused to let CBS executives insert a laugh track

Since this was the first time Sparky’s ‘Peanuts’ would be represented in an animated cartoon to a national audience, he had a strong hand in the production process and fought hard to preserve his creation by not letting the “suits” tinker with it. Schulz insisted that the cartoon not have a laugh track, something that was a standard for TV comedies at the time. Producer Lee Mendelson recalled in Schulz’s biography that he was just as adamant that the special not have a laugh track to “help keep it moving along.” Sparky said at a staff meeting during production that the network should “let the people at home enjoy the show at their own speed, in their own way” and promptly walked out of the room ending the argument. Sounds like Schulz had a little bit of Lucy in him that day.

4. Schulz actually hated jazz music

Musician and composer Vince Guaraldi’s ensemble of holiday infused jazz for ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ became just as famous and as much of a yuletide favorite as the cartoon that popularized it. Sparky, however, wasn’t a big fan of the catchy tunes. In fact, according to his biography, Schulz told a reporter two months after the special aired that he thought jazz music was “awful.”
Guaraldi’s involvement with the ‘Peanuts’ dates back to before production started on the Christmas special. Mendelson had been working with Schulz on a documentary called ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ that featured a soundtrack of jazz music composed by Guaraldi. Despite his feelings about jazz, Sparky insisted that they use Guaraldi’s music again for ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ with a mix of traditional Christmas hymns because it created the perfect “bubbly, childlike tone” for the show.

5. Linus’ “True Meaning of Christmas” speech was almost cut

Sparky was also a religious man and, according to his biography, “the life of Jesus remained for him a consuming subject.” He also insisted in the early days of production that the script feature some religious overtones, particularly a passage from the St. Luke gospel about the birth of Jesus Christ, to bring some meaning to the holiday that “had been lost in the general good-time frivolity.” The producers agreed to include a Nativity scene to represent Sparky’s feelings, but by the time the script was finished, Mendelson realized he had included an entire minute-long speech directly from the New Testament. This led to the biggest arguments between Sparky and the producers, with Mendelson insisting that the special was an “entertainment show” and the speech would scare off advertisers by narrowing its audience. Thankfully, the now iconic speech survived the final cut and has aired in the special every year since.

6. The network execs and sponsors hated the special and wanted to bury it

Linus’ famous speech was just one of the complaints the network executives and Coca-Cola, the special’s chief sponsor, had with the final cut of the cartoon. They expected a TV comedy with a laugh track, and got instead a wry, melancholy commentary on the holiday season. (The network also objected to real children voicing all of the characters.) The brass was particularly wary of the religious overtones that Sparky insisted the special carry on the air. According to Mendelson, the executives agreed to air it “once and that will be all.” Of course, we all know what happened next.

7. The producers thought it would be a flop and that they “ruined Charlie Brown forever”

If the network executives were a tad bit too hard on their first screening of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ the show’s producers were downright cynical. Mendelson and Melendez were more pleased with the final product than the network, but they feared the public would not embrace it, let alone watch it. They also thought it would forever tarnish Sparky’s characters and comic strip. Mendelson said in an interview, “We kind of agreed with the network. One of the animators stood up in the back of the room – he had had a couple of drinks – and he said, ‘It’s going to run for a hundred years,’ and then fell down. We all thought he was crazy.”

8. Snoopy got all the action scenes because he was the easiest to animate

Both Mendelson and Melendez (who passed away in 2008) grew to appreciate the applause the special has received over the years despite their initial misgivings about the final product. They’ve also acknowledged some tiny animation mistakes that are still noticeable, even after all these years, such as the changing number of branches on Charlie Brown’s scrawny tree. One of the biggest obstacles was transferring Sparky’s comic strip characters into an animated form for the first time. The distinctive giant heads of the ‘Peanuts’ gang made them hard to animate in any kind of fast-paced sequence, so most of the action went to Snoopy, the most cartoon-like character of the group.

9. Some earlier runs of the special included product placements for Coca-Cola

Despite its anti-commercial message, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ wouldn’t have come together without its initial soft drink sponsor. Coca-Cola wanted to produce a Christmas special and ‘Peanuts’ stood at the top of their list. The first version of the special that aired on CBS not only included a brief announcement of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship in the closing credits, but it also carried a product placement in the show’s opening titles. As Charlie Brown and Linus are being tossed around by Snoopy while ice skating, Linus crashes head-on into a sign advertising the popular soda. The scene has since been cut due to expired advertising contracts and the sign was replaced with one that read “Danger.” (Check out the original ending with a message from Coke on the left.)

10. It is the second longest-running Christmas special of all time

The drunken animator turned out to be the smartest person in the screening room. The first broadcast on Dec. 9, 1965 garnered more than 15.4 million viewers, received rave reviews by almost every major television critic and earned Schulz and Mendelson an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program. CBS immediately commissioned more ‘Peanuts’ specials. Since then, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ has aired every year during the holidays on CBS and ABC, who scored the rights in 2001. The broadcasts still earn the highest ratings in their time slot. Even more impressive, it has become the second longest-running Christmas special of all time behind ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.’ Poor Charlie Brown never comes in first.

[via ONTD]

December 20, 2011

How BSG Can Ruin Your Life

This video from IFC’s Portlandia shows exactly how I am not the only one who sat for hours a day watching the entire series of Battlestar Galactica.

Check out an exclusive clip from the second episode of the upcoming Portlandia season, fittingly entitled “One More Episode.” This is just the first sequence in a storyline that continues throughout the whole episode.

The whole episode will air on January 13 at 10 PM EST, and you can also watch a sneak peek of the whole episode over at the Portlandia Facebook page from January 2 through 5. Portlandia‘s second season starts January 6.

December 20, 2011

‘Doctor Who’ Post

Catching you up on Who news from the last week.

Steven Moffat has announced at the Press Screening today that the Ponds will leave in Season 7 and that a new companion will join the Doctor on his travels.

“The final days of the Ponds are coming during the next series,” he said. “I’m not telling you when or how, but that story is going to come to a heartbreaking end… Then The Doctor will meet a new friend.”

Moffat added that he believes River Song (Alex Kingston) will make a return appearance, though it is unknown if the character will be involved in the couple’s exit storyline.

Matt Smith stated: “The show will miss the Ponds, brilliantly played by Karen and Arthur, but the great thing about Doctor Who is its ability to change. We had the most incredible journey. We took over the show and we’ve really had to hold hands and help each other through it. So it’s very disappointing, but one has to remember that this show is about change and regeneration, and that’s what galvanizes it and pushes it forwards.”

As yet no-one has been cast as the new companion.

Doctor Who: Worlds In Time video game

BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games today announced the open preview launch of Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, the new browser-based, free-to-play multiplayer online game.
At DoctorWhoWIT.com, fans and gamers everywhere can enjoy the mystery and community of Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, which draws on the rich mythology, locations and excitement of the beloved television show. The game is designed for devotees of the show looking for a quick pick-up-and-play game, and life-long gamers and sci-fi enthusiasts seeking increased social engagement. Players choose among four races and endless possible character combinations to create their avatars.

They can join together in missions identified by the mysterious Time Lord to defend civilization by undertaking interventions against infamous villains bent on creating chaos and destruction in the universe. Throughout the game, players will explore deep immersive worlds (e.g., Skaro, Messaline, The Library and New New York) featuring iconic monsters (e.g., Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels), delivering the authentic experience of being part of the Doctor Who realm.

While the game is free-to-play, revenue is generated through micro-transactions. Players can enhance their experience and accelerate their progress in the game through the purchase of Chronons, which will help them to complete missions, customize their avatars, build new contraptions and more.


Doctor Who: Worlds in Timewill launch commercially in the first quarter of 2012.

Lastly, ever wonder what the exact timeline is for the whole Doctor Whoseries, well here’s a little graffic showing it all to you. Just click on it to see the full size.

[via Blogtor Who]

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December 15, 2011

New ’30 Rock’ Promo!

So excited!

The clip is titled “Someone’s Got a Secret.” Liz Lemon’s got her colleagues crazy with curiosity!

30 Rock returns January 12 at 8/7c on NBC.

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