Resin Heroes

2017/2018 TV preview



New Series

The year superheroes broke TV

There are so many superhero series debuting this TV season there’s almost too many to cover here. In fact, there are at least eight new live-action superhero shows debuting this season which will bring the number currently airing to more than 25 based on comic books.

Inhumans

Inhumans

What was originally set to be a series of Marvel films has now become a TV series with Inhumans on ABC. I never really collected any Inhumans comics so I don’t really know the core Inhumans story. I do know that the show will be the third Marvel series to debut on ABC with Agents of SHIELD entering its fifth season and Agent Carter being cancelled after two. I wasn’t a fan of Agents of SHIELD nor of Agent Carter but will still checkout Inhumans, if with a bit of trepidation.

What I do know about The Inhumans, and what I could glean from ABC’s marketing materials, has them as a race of super-powered people living in a hidden city on the Moon with the likes of Black Bolt who’s voice is so powerful it can destroy entire cities and Medusa with living hair. In the series, a coup on the Moon forces this ruling family down to the Earth to face life among us mere mortals and the rest of the Marvel universe characters.

The Gifted

The Gifted

The Gifted on FOX looks to take the X-Men franchise TV screens with a series about a family on the run after they learn that two of their kids are mutants with super-powers. Some X-Men characters are set to appear in the series but don’t expect Wolverine, Cyclops or Jean Grey to show up in The Gifted. Instead the likes of Polaris, Thunderbird and Blink will be the muties helping the family on the run.

Krypton

Syfy enters the superhero TV game with their series Krypton about life on Superman’s alien home-world decades before his birth. But like with The Gifted don’t expect the Man of Steel to swoop in during sweeps week to boost ratings on the show as Krypton follows Superman’s granddad Seg-El as a spry 20-something living and working on Krypton before the planet went and got all explody.

The Punisher

The Punisher

The Punisher, on Netflix, follows the character of the same name who originally began as an ally/antagonist on the series Daredevil before being spun-off onto his own show. Not much is known about The Punisher other than to expect to see him eliminating as many bad-guys as he can in 13 episodes.

Runaways

The Hulu series Runaways sounds interesting, but reports from the creators of the show make me wonder if it’ll be as interesting as I first thought? The comic series Runaways is about a group of teens who discover that a) they all have superpowers because b) their parents are all major super-villains who run a west coast crime empire. But the creators of the Hulu version have said that the series will be “the O.C. of the Marvel Universe” and that just because the parents are super-villains who quite literally sacrifice people, “that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all that bad.” Ugh, ugh, and double ugh.

Black Lightning

Black Lightning will join the CW stable of established DC characters like Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash this season with the title character who can harness electricity and must return to the superhero fold years after retiring.

Freeform, the old ABC Family, is set to debut two new superhero series next season with New Warriors and Cloak and Dagger.

New Warriors

Cloak and Dagger

When I was a teen New Warriors, a comic about a team a sort of teenaged X-Men, was one of my favorites. But this TV New Warriors isn’t an action series, it’s reportedly a half-hour comedy starring a character named Squirrel Girl, who’s, admittedly, really popular with the younger set these days.

Cloak and Dagger

In the comic Cloak and Dagger Cloak was a character of darkness and Dagger of light who were a team called, you guessed it, Cloak and Dagger. From the looks of it, the TV version retains the characters and their powers, but looks to be more Twilight, “they’re from two different worlds but are in love,” than X-Men “let’s kick Magneto’s butt” in tone.

Non-comic book series

I can’t tell you how weird it feels to write that. Literally a few years ago there weren’t any series based on comic books, now there’s so many I can’t even keep track. But even though there’s quite a few new superhero TV series to look forward to this season, there are a few non-superpowered shows debuting 2017–18 as well.

The Crossing

The Crossing

The Crossing on ABC has a small town becoming inundated when hundreds of bodies begin washing ashore from some disaster. But this disaster is something that’s going to happen in the future and these people are really refugees escaping to their past, our present, to find safety. The Crossing is a show I’m interested in as long as it doesn’t turn out to be another Lost where the goal is to spread the mystery of it out over as many seasons and episodes as possible rather than telling a coherent story.

Even The Crossing seems to have somewhat of a superhero element to it with some of the characters from the future possessing strange abilities far beyond that of mere mortal men.

There are a few interesting looking non-superhero series on FOX this season, the first of which is The Orville.

The Orville

The Orville

The Orville created by and starring Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame is a live action comedic take on Star Trek. From the looks of things, The Orville is a sort of TV version of Galaxy Quest if the characters on Galaxy Quest were really the bumbling crew of a starship and not Hollywood actors playing them. I think The Orville is a great idea for a series, if I don’t think I laughed once at the promo that was released for the show a few months back.

Ghosted

If The Orville is a take on the movie Galaxy Quest then Ghosted also on FOX seems to be a take on the movie Ghostbusters. This time, instead of four scientists working together to bust ghosts, it’s, according to FOX, a skeptic (Craig Robinson) and true believer (Adam Scott) who’re the ones having to go around and do the busting as it were.

LA > Vegas

LA > Vegas

LA > Vegas has the most unique sitcom setting I can think of over the last few years. The show takes place aboard an airliner that makes a weekly round-trip between LA and Las Vegas with there being some regular characters of LA > Vegas including jet’s crew and people who travel to Vegas every week as well as new passengers each episode on a trip to lose money in the desert.

S.W.A.T.

The S.W.A.T. franchise has had a surprisingly long history. The original TV series of the same name debuted in 1975 with a feature film version in 2003 and a low-budget sequel released in 2011. And now comes a new S.W.A.T. TV series on CBS that’s set to premiere later this fall. CBS dramas aren’t known for their subtly and the promo for S.W.A.T. isn’t subtle with S.W.A.T police officers having gun battles in the streets one minute, smooching with their wives in the shower the next to dodging bazooka blasts a later that evening.

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery also on CBS has the most interesting path to series of any show in memory. This series has been around so long that I originally wrote about it in my 2016 TV preview. Star Trek: Discovery was supposed to premiere January 2017 but was then pushed back to May after execs realized that there was no way the series would be ready to air last winter. Then, a few months into 2017, they also realized that a May debut wasn’t going to happen either so the series was once again pushed back to September 24. Which looks like it’s going to happen since there’s been quite a bit of marketing released on the series including things like posters and online promos for the show.

But wait, there’s more.

Only one episode of Star Trek: Discovery will be shown on CBS with the remainder of the episodes then debuting over the next few weeks on the CBS All Access streaming service for residents in the US and Netflix for most of the rest of the world. Which seems like a bit of a misstep to me. I think CBS is eying fans of Star Trek and are just assuming they’re going to shell out $6 a month to watch Star Trek: Discovery because it’s Star Trek and fans of Star Trek will pay any amount of money to see anything labelled Star Trek. Now, I’m a fan of the Star Trek but I think most of what CBS offers is pure mung and can’t imagine shelling out $6 a month just to watch Star Trek: Discovery when there’s so many other things to watch on TV, especially around the time Star Trek: Discovery is premiering.

Here’s what I could see doing, though.

Star Trek: Discovery

If that first episode of Star Trek: Discovery that airs on CBS is good, if it’s intriguing enough for me to want to checkout the rest of the episodes — all of which is debatable since though I consider myself a fan of Star Trek none-the-less I really haven’t liked anything Star Trek since the late 1990s. If Star Trek: Discovery is interesting enough what I may do is wait until all the episodes are available on CBS All Access since they’re not all being released at once but instead over the course of a few months. And when they’re all available get CBS All Access for a month, binge them and then cancel my subscription.

But like I said that’s debatable. Star Trek: Discovery will have to be really good for me to want to do that and everything I’ve read about the show, from original series helmer Bryan Fuller exiting the series to CBS changing the look of Star Trek: Discovery from retro-Trek to something more futuristic makes me doubt that I’ll be in a big rush to checkout the rest of the series after it debuts in September.

Returning series

Because of the weird nature of TV I’m not quite sure what all current series are returning and when? Like both the series Legion and Westworld aired episodes in early 2017, but are only scheduled to return “sometime” in 2018, which might mean they’ll return in a few months or in more than a year. While there might not be a load of returning shows I’m interested in this season, those that are returning are really good and I don’t think I could be more excited about new episodes if I tried.

The Good Place

The Good Place

One show that is scheduled to return fairly soon is The Good Place on September 20. This NBC comedy about a woman (Kristen Bell) who dies and wakes in “the good place” but really was supposed to go to the bad one was the one new network show from last season that I liked that’s still around for a season two. I was surprised as to just how much a slow-burn The Good Place was, with each episode acting as a single chapter in a season-long story. My initial thoughts on the show was that it might be the most disturbing thing on TV since in the universe of the The Good Place 99.999% of everyone who dies goes to “the bad place,” and it’s only the supremely good among us that end up in “the good place.” So even the best of us are doomed. And in the show if Bell’s character is ever found out what happens to her? Does she get a one-way ticked to hell? I liked The Good Place enough to stick with it until the end, when a twist I saw coming from the very first episode hit that I was still surprised by made me change The Good Place from a show I liked to one I adored.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

The 2016 breakout TV series that I think surprised everyone, including myself, as to how good it was Stranger Things returns to Netflix for a second season October 27. Stranger Things is a show about the 1980s but isn’t about the 1980s, it just so happens to take place there and is this weird, cool mesh of horror and sci-fi I really wasn’t expecting when I first started watching it last summer. Stranger Things stars a mostly pre-teen/teen cast of actors who, after one of the group goes missing and a girl mysteriously appears out of nowhere, must go on a quest to rescue their friend. But be it starring kids and teens or not, the danger and violence of the first season of Stranger Things was palpable with characters being shot, consumed by monsters and cocooned alive to wait out a fate worse than death. I don’t want to say that the first season of Stranger Things was a perfect show, but it might be about the most perfect show fans of horror/sci-fi these days can hope for.

Black Mirror

This surprisingly long-lasting British anthology horror/sci-fi series returns for a fourth season on Netflix this year. It’s easiest to describe this series as a modern day The Twilight Zone, but it’s really its own thing. Generally, episodes of Black Mirror take place in a few years time and deal with our everyday technology gone amok. Be it a society that runs on social media “likes” or soldiers with computers in their heads doing battle with mutant people who turn out to be a little less “mutant” and a lot more “people.” Where Black Mirror excels is at this everyday horror aspect to our lives, it’s the answer to the question, “Do we control our technology, or does it control us?”

And now for the ones that return sometime in 2018.

The Expanse

The Expanse

The Expanse on SyFy channel remains the lone holdout on a network that’s supposed to be for fans of sci-fi that actually is a quality sci-fi show. Two seasons in and I’m surprised as to just how well The Expanse has progressed. What started as a sort’a conspiracy thriller set in deep space with the search for a missing woman has grown exponentially into a war spanning the entire solar system with a group of characters spread out between the Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, Jupiter and now Venus. I think what I like most about The Expanse is that while the show has grown in scope, the focus has remained on most of the same characters from the first season with a few additions here and there. So while a similar series like Game of Thrones has grown to the point of being unable to contain its story in a single episode, The Expanse has remained grounded and feels much like the same show when it started while the bounds of the story had been let to expand.

Legion

Legion

Legion might be the most trippy series on TV — and one of the best. It’s a superhero show but is nothing like a traditional superhero show since the focus of Legion is on character’s mental states rather than who can punch the villain hardest. I’m not sure the construction of the first season of Legion is like any other series out there. Legion starts out with David Haller (Dan Stevens) living his life inside a mental institution who has these weird memories of his childhood. It seems like David can do these strange things, or maybe he just imagines that he can. As the series progresses we go in and out of David’s, as well as other character’s minds, to the point where we’re really not sure what’s real and what’s not. But in the universe that is Legion what’s real and what is not is not as important as what the characters believe is real or not.

Westworld

Westworld

To me at least, this year wasn’t a great one for original series on HBO. I’m not sure if I’m just aging out of the core HBO demographic, but in 2017 the only show I really cared about there was Westworld, and much like with The Good Place I didn’t think it was going to be very good when I first heard about it. I mean, how could it be? Westworld was delayed ages because of “script problems” and was based on a decades old movie about rich people who visit a theme park where they can do whatever they want to the robotic inhabitants there. And I mean whatever they want. But instead of simply following the model of the movie, the creators of the Westworld TV show also made its focus on the robotic characters of the park in addition to the wealthy visitors. These robots are doomed to unknowingly live the same day over and over again, on a loop with the park’s patrons treating them like toys to be shot or raped or murdered. The question of the Westworld series is, what happens if these robots start realizing their lives aren’t their own and want to claim them back?

The X-Files

The X-FIles

An eleventh season of The X-Files is slated to debut in 2018 on Fox even with the 2016 tenth season having the fans divided. Some thought that because episodes of the new The X-Files were essentially a continuation of the old, and were told in the same anachronistic 1990s fashion, the new episodes were no good when put up against other modern series. While others, myself included, thought that when people were screaming that they wanted more The X-Files, and when more episodes of The X-Files arrived on their TV screens, what did they think they were exactly going to get?

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

The AMC series that started off as just a prequel to the hit series Breaking Bad but over the years has evolved into something so much more Better Call Saul usually returns in the first quarter of the year. The last two years I’ve called Better Call Saul the best series on TV and so far in 2017 it’s still the best. This series has some of the best characters out there, be it sack-sack Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) who in the third season is well on his way to becoming Saul Goodman, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Jimmy’s not yet right hand man who turned to the dark side last season and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a woman who’d seemingly have it all together and a great life as a lawyer except she’s fallen into Jimmy’s orbit and ends up literally crashing and burning this season.




Direct Beam Comms #90



TV

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future

When it premiered this week back in 1987, the TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was on really early where I lived. If I remember correctly, this action-adventure series about a group of soldiers with power armor that gives them almost super abilities was on Sunday mornings at nine. And being that as a pre-teen there was no way in the world I was ever going to get up that early on a Sunday unless I had to, I ended up missing most of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was one of the rare late–1980s kids series that was live-action and had a line of toys the series was trying to sell. And the show had a gimmick to go along with the toys as well. If you were one of the lucky kids who had Captain Powers “Powerjet” or the evil “Phantom Striker,” during special parts of the show your toy could interact with the episode. Well, “interact” might be too strong of a word as you could use the toy to “shoot” at the screen and at certain points would be shot back and if hit your ship would “explode.”

At least that’s what was supposed to happen. I never got up early enough to watch the show, never had one of the vehicles nor knew of anyone who had the vehicles and watched the show either so whether or not that really worked is questionable.

Which is probably what doomed the series. Shows like Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future don’t really live or die by who’s watching them, they live or die by how many toys get sold when the series are on the air. And since the toys didn’t sell well — I remember seeing Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future toys on the clearance racks at toy stores well into the 1990s — the series got cancelled after a single season.

Standing in for nuclear apocalypse, in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future it’s the future where robots have revolted, destroyed and taken over the planet leaving Captain Power (Tim Dunigan) and a handful of remaining armored soldiers to try and take it back. Each week they’d go on missions to try and destroy some thing or rescue some person from the robots.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I ended up watching Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future at all. It may have been a case of me catching a few episodes on TV when they aired as a special in prime-time and maybe ended up renting a few episodes on VHS too. I know me and my brother did have a few Captain Power action figures, but that was mostly because they fit well with our G.I. Joe collection.

A few years back I purchased the entire Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future series on DVD and to be honest, the show’s all right. It’s not bad but it’s definitely something that’s made for kids in mind and with Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future using then state of the art 3D effects for some of the robots and also adding these weird visual elements to make the toys work with the TV series has dated the show badly.

I do look back on episodes of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future with a bit of fondness, but it’s much like with a lot of other children’s TV series from the 1980s that I think fondly of now but don’t have much of a desire to revisit anytime soon.

The Punisher TV series spot

Black Mirror TV spot

Comics

Punisher: Suicide Run

In conjunction with the The Punisher Netflix series set to debut sometime this year Marvel comics is releasing a bunch of collected classic Punisher stories this year too. The first edition set to be released is Punisher: Suicide Run.

From Marvel:

Frank Castle stars in an explosive epic so big it took three titles to contain it! When the Punisher undertakes his most extravagant hit of all – collapsing an entire skyscraper on a group of crime bosses – he ends up presumed dead himself! A vigilante vacuum is created on the streets, and a number of psychopathic killers lay claim to the Punisher’s crown – and iconic chest symbol! Take your pick from the skull-masked Hitman, jaded cop Lynn Michaels, postal worker Desmond Kline, media-savvy author Dean Swaybrick or British Frank-ophile Outlaw! Bullets fly as the pretenders take on criminals and each other, learning the hard way that to step into Castle’s shoes is virtual suicide… But in all the chaos, will the one true Punisher make his return? Collects Punisher (1987) #85–88, Punisher War Journal (1987) #61–64, Punisher War Zone (1992) #23–25.

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1968: Kristen Cloke, Shane Vansen of Space: Above and Beyond is born
  • 1985: The TV series The Twilight Zone premiers
  • 1987: The TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future premiers
  • 1993: The TV series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. premiers
  • 1995: The TV series Nowhere Man debuts



Direct Beam Comms #46



TV

Black Mirror – Season 3, Episode 1: Grade B+

Until recently, the TV series Black Mirror wasn’t easy to see. Originating from the UK, other than a Christmas special that aired a few years ago on DirecTV, the six episode first and second seasons never officially aired anywhere here in the US. In fact, until Netflix picked up the series the only way for anyone on this side of the Atlantic to have seen any Black Mirror was via less than legal means.

new_star_studded_black_mirror_trailer_shows_social_media_gone_madBut luckily Netflix began streaming all existing episodes a few years back and even better last Friday debuted six new episodes for a third season of Black Mirror, the first of which is titled “Nosedive.”

“Nosedive” focuses on Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard) who lives near-future in a place where how many “likes” each person gets determines their worth and status in life. Think how someone like one of the Kardashians lives their lives online and that’s essentially how everyone in “Nosedive” lives.

If you’re one of the popular people with lots of likes you get all sorts of free perks, if you’re less than popular doors literally remain closed for you and you’re barred from even going certain places. And because everyone’s trying to get the most likes Lacie’s world is a place where everyone dresses their best, looks like they’re ready for a photoshoot which they have to be since they’re all constant shooting selfies and is super-nice to everyone else lest they upset them and get down-voted.

Of course just under their veneer people still can’t stand other people, the food, though gorgeous looking is practically inedible and there’s constant discrimination based this underlying algorithm.

What struck me was at one point Lacie says something about how their society is structured, “That’s just the way it is.” Which people say today with a lot of things too like with FICO scores.

In “Nosedive,” Lacie has enough likes that she’s just on the cusp of becoming a tastemaker and sees her friend Naomi (Alice Eve) who’s got it all and more importantly loads of likes as the way to get there. But as Lacie tries to get to Naomi’s wedding her world begins to crumble as a cancelled flight sends her online rating to a nosedive.

Black Mirror is the first 21st century sci-fi series that actually gets what it’s like be swept up in all the technology of the 21st century and not know where it’s taking us. Sure, things like cell phones and computers and laptops and AI are great, but what’s the downside? And that’s where Black Mirror excels. Series creator Charlie Brooker has created a show that takes things we all have today and asks what happens if that technology doesn’t go wrong, but goes to a slightly bad place? What happens if things like “likes” become the new currency of discrimination or like in another episode criminal justice becomes so twisted and bent that by the end of one episode we’re actively rooting for the criminals?

That’s when sci-fi and specifically Black Mirror works so well whereas other modern sci-fi series does not. A lot of regular sci-fi series are all about exploring tropes of the past that were once relevant but are now not. Or are still relevant but don’t resemble anything like they used to in the past. Black Mirror on the other hand is so relevant and so now that I wonder if the series will be as connected with viewers in 10 years as it has to the jugular of viewers today?

And yes, it does strike me as ironic that I’m rating the episode much in the same way people in Lacie’s life “like” her. Then again it’s the times that we live in.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Grade: C+

If anyone were ever to try and pin me down I’d have to say that my favorite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (HHGG) by the late, great Douglas Adams. I first read that book in a gigantic collection of all of Adams’ HHGG stories and tore through them as fast as I could. I think it’s Adams absurdist humor that appealed to me so much.

frodoEven with all of my love for all things HHGG and Adams non-fiction work as well I’ve so far never read Adams other book series based on detective Dirk Gently. However, when a new TV series was announced based on this character with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on BBC America my interest was piqued.

So I’m not sure what was taken from the Gently novels in this new series which means that I’m going into Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency without a lot of preconceptions as to how it should be.

Here, Todd (Elijah Wood) is a sad-sack, down on his luck bellboy when he stumbles upon a murder at the hotel he works at. And investigating the murder is “holistic” detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) who quickly puts himself upon Todd and tries to recruit him to be his assistant. And the Todd/Gently stuff/story is actually pretty interesting. Todd is mostly normal while Gently is this weird eye of calm in this crazy storm of weirdness that constantly swirls around him.

Unfortunately there’s so many other things going on in the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency that all this extra stuff overwhelms the Todd/Gently story. There’s a “holistic” assassin driving around killing people, a missing woman, a group of skinheads who may be involved in the murder, a group of crazed guys who go around smashing things up, a CIA team surveying Gently, a police team surveying Todd and Todd’s sister suffering from a disease all introduced very quickly without a lot of time for story development. All this seems like elements that will be important over the eight episode season but right now feels really weird and very confusing. Especially since after having watched the first episode I really don’t know what the overall story of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is or what it will be?

From the commercials it seems like the first season will be the examination of the murder Gently was investigating and Todd becoming his assistant. But I feel like if Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency would have taken a page from the Doctor Who manual and gone with more self-contained episodes even if there’s a season-long story/mystery running throughout the stories it may have been better for the show.

OR — was Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency designed to be a series people can watch over the course of a weekend in one long eight hour bing? Maybe that would work better for the series? Except here in the US it’s being shown as a weekly show where there’s a 167 hour wait between episodes.

Still, I’ll be sticking with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency for the short term at least. I think Douglas Adams would have wanted it that way. 😉

Movies

Logan aka Wolverine part 3 movie trailer

“…the world is not the same as it once was.”

It’ll be interesting to see just how this movie fits in with the overall X-Men universe as a whole, especially since the events of Days of Future Past seemed to have made this bleak future impossible.

The Arrival final movie trailer

“What does it say?”

Books

The Art of Atari

Out this week is the loooooooooong awaited The Art of Atari book that collects many of the gorgeous illustrations that graced the packaging of Atari game cartridges of the 1970s and 1980s. In many ways those illustrations were better than the actual games since they were selling what those games could be, or what those games might be in the player’s imaginations rather than what the game would actually be like when played.

From Dynamite:

To usher in the new era of electronic entertainment, (Atari) hired an array of talented illustrators to emblazon game cartridges, boxes, magazine advertisements, and more with mind-blowing visions of fantasy and sports thrills, science fiction and adventure, that elevated pixelated gaming to the realm of high art. Art of Atari is the first official retrospective of the company’s illustrative accomplishments, spanning over four decades and cultivated from museums and private collections worldwide.

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1943: Michael Crichton, creator of Jurassic Park, Twister and the TV series ER is born
  • 1959: Sam Raimi, director of The Evil Dead and Spider-Man franchises is born
  • 1984: The TV series V premiers
  • 1984: Terminator opens in theaters
  • 1994: Stargate opens in theaters
  • 1996: The TV series Millennium premiers
  • 1997: Gattaca opens in theaters



Sci-Fi Heaven



I’m amazed at the amount of great sci-fi movies and TV series that are being released each year. It wasn’t too long ago that sci-fi was relegated to late night TV syndication or movies of the week, but these days the most popular films are all sci-fi in nature and there are a plethora of quality sci-fi TV series too.

_captain_america__civil_war_trailer_-_h_2015

Captain America

What sci-fi movies am I talking about that are so popular? To me, just about each and every superhero movie is sci-fi in disguise. Don’t believe me? Superman is an alien, both Spider-Man and Captain America were created by experiments gone awry and The Guardians of the Galaxy takes place on far off planets in the depths of space.

Even ones that don’t directly contain sci-fi tropes none-the-less have sci-fi elements from Iron Man’s robot-like armor to Batman’s crazy gadgets.

And those are just superhero movies. There’s also loads of great obvious sci-fi movies too.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

One of my favorites of the last few years was the underrated Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt movie Edge of Tomorrow about a soldier who’s trapped in a time loop and is forced to live the worst day of his life over and over again during an alien invasion. There’s also the new Planet of the Apes franchise that’s taken a story that’s been around nearly 50 years and put a fresh spin on it and even the latest Mad Max: Fury Road that’s based on a nearly 40 year old film series and recently won the most Oscars at the 2016 ceremony.

And it’s ostensibly a movie that’s a big car chase that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future!

And let’s not forget the two grand sci-fi franchises of the 20th and 21st century; Star Wars and Star Trek. The current Star Trek film franchise has been around since 2009 and has produced three movies, the latest of which was the number one movie in the country for a few weeks running. And Star Wars returned last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and earned more than $2 billion at the box office. Now there are new Star Wars movie due out every year forever — or until the movies stop making money.

Daisy Ridley from Star Wars: Episode VII

Daisy Ridley from Star Wars: Episode VII

Because TV series costs less to make than a movie things are even better for the sci-fi genera on the small screen. There, series like The Expanse on SyFy is a classic “people in very large ships in outer space” series updated for the modern day while The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime brings movie adaptation stalwart Philip K Dick to a TV series and even the oh-so-good Stephen King/Steven Spielberg/1980s mashup Stranger Things on Netflix.

In fact there’s so much good TV on these days I could go on and on and on. I didn’t mention the awesome Black Mirror on Netflix or even Doctor Who on BBC America with seemingly more sci-fi series announced each month.

Next year brings the return of Star Trek to TV screens for the first time in 12 years with Star Trek: Discovery. Discovery is co-produced with Bryan Fuller who created the amazing Hannibal series and was also a Star Trek writer in the 1990s. Which means there’ll be two totally separate Trek properties, one in movie theaters and the other streaming to TVs.

The Expanse

The Expanse

And because sci-fi is so popular and makes so much money these days the immediate future looks nothing but bright. The superhero genera is so popular there are SEVEN big-budget movies due out in 2017 and the next Star Wars movie Rogue One premiers this winter. What has me most excited are upcoming movies like Annihilation based on a book series of the same name, another Alien prequel and a new King Kong movie all due out next year.

Surly all this gold can’t last — one day sci-fi will return to the geeky depths that it emerged from earlier this century. Nothing this good can last forever, but until the bubble collapses I’ll be spending my time with my favorite stories and characters at the movies and on TV every week.




2016/17 TV Preview



New series

It’s been a long while since I can remember the last time I was as disinterested in the crop of new TV series that are set to start debuting on network TV this fall. Usually, there’s at least something I can look forward to, some series I can get excited about. But honestly this year looks like it’s going to be mostly a bust on the networks.

The Good Place

The Good Place

All that I’m looking forward to on network TV this fall is the comedy The Good Place on NBC starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell about a woman that died and accidentally went to “the good place” rather than the hot one and Star Trek: Discovery on CBS. Though this sixth Trek TV series is set to only air once on CBS before it moves to their streaming service.

And there’s a few new shows I’m looking forward to on cable and streaming too, one of which is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is on BBC America and is based on the Douglas Adams (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) book of the same name. This new TV version of the Adams novel is being written and produced by Max Landis (Chronicle). On Netflix is Marvel’s Luke Cage that’s a sort’a spin-off of the Jessica Jones show about a man, Cage (Mike Colter) who’s super-strong with super-tough skin that brushes aside bullets who decides to clean up the streets of New York.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to scoff at on network TV next fall than to look forward to.

If the last few years the networks have been trying to turn as many come books into TV series as they could, then this year it’s all about turning once popular movies into TV series, or rebooting once popular past TV series into modern ones. Which I have no problem with, except that nothing I’ve seen from any of these new shows makes me thing that the networks have anything other than a bunch of creative duds on their hands.

Time After Time

Time After Time

Based on the movie of the same name, Time after Time on ABC features author H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) building a time machine in 1893 and traveling to present day 2016 New York City to find Jack the Ripper who’s also travelled to New York City in the same time machine. Convenient, ain’t it? If the movie version was a love story between Wells and a modern day woman, then the TV version seems to be setting the two up as a male/female investigative duo ala Castle, Blindspot, The Blacklist, etc., etc., etc.

Emerald City on NBC is the latest attempt at a network to create a TV version of the Wizard of Oz story that various channels have been trying to do since at least 2002. This version of the Oz story has Dorothy being swept off to a totally reimagined and harder version of Oz that seems to be a mashup of Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time.

Fox has two shows based on movies set to premier this fall; The Exorcist and Lethal Weapon.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist

The Exorcist looks to be essentially the story of the novel/movie about a girl possessed by a demon — with a little bit of things like The Conjuring thrown in for good measure. My one question about The Exorcist is if the entire season will be about the girl’s possession, or if each episode will be about some other evil forces possessing some other poor souls? It doesn’t help matters that The Exorcist is the second “possession” series on TV with Outcast also about demonic forces already on Starz.

The TV version of Lethal Weapon seems to take the zanier elements of the movie from Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) having a death wish which makes him practically fearless and his older, world-weary partner Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr.) who has to deal with Riggs and is “too old for this @#$%.” But somehow I’d imagine that if it does take the zanier elements of the Riggs character that it’s not going to use the movie version of him being suicidal and his substance abuse problems. You know, all the stuff that made him seem human and not some cartoon character.

Frequency on The CW, takes the elements of the 2000 movie where someone from the present, here Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List), is able to talk with their father from 20 years in the past via a ham radio. And because she’s able to send information to her father in the past she’s able to change events in her present. But if other time travel movies/TV series have taught us anything, it’s that meddling in the past will being about unintended consequences in the present/future. Time After Time should take note!

MacGyver

MacGyver

On CBS there’s a series based on the movie Training Day and one on the 1980s TV series MacGyver. Much like with the movie, the TV version of Training Day follows a young, idealistic police officer (Drew Van Acker) sent to spy on a seasoned, up to no good, “King Kong ain’t got [email protected]#$ on me” detective (Bill Paxton).

MacGyver (Lucas Till) is a younger take on the character but with the overall concept of the original series — solving crimes/rescuing people/stopping terrorists by making whatever’s needed with what’s on hand to get the job done — intact. I was a huge fan of the original MacGyver as a kid, but somehow I doubt that this middle-aged man is going to be a fan of this new version of the show.

returning_tv

Returning series

black-ish

black-ish

If new series this year look crummy at least there’s a slew of great and interesting shows to look forward to.

Out of the gate early this fall are ABC comedies The Goldbergs, black-ish and Fresh off the Boat. While black-ish and Fresh off the Boat get a lot of good press for their diversity and somewhat controversial storylines, I’m more concerned with whether or not the shows are funny or not and these are.

The Goldbergs and black-ish return September 21 and Fresh off the Boat October 11.

Ash vs. Evil Dead

Ash vs. Evil Dead

I was a huge fan of the Starz series Ash vs Evil Dead right up until the very end of the final episode of the first season when things kind’a fell off the rails. That series deals with sad-sack Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) who accidentally released evil spirits from the bound in human skin Book of the Dead. And in Ash vs Evil Dead it’s up to Ash and his two friends Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) to figure out a way to undo what he’s done.

The show was everything I’d ever wanted in an Evil Dead TV series with over-the-top action, comedy and lots of gore. But that ending, it was so out of tone with what had come the previous nine episodes that it really frustrated me. That being said, I’m ready for loads more wise-cracking Ash in a second season of Ash vs Evil Dead which starts back up September 23. As long as they do some ‘splaining about that ending I’ll be back for more gore!

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Existing alongside the current film franchises, the animated Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD tells the story of what was going on in the galaxy when the evil Empire was consolidating power and trying to wipe a nascent rebellion out. The stories of Rebels can be surprisingly deep and emotional for a series we already know the end to. Hint — none of the characters of Rebels show up in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope so… Star Wars Rebels returns September 24.

The British series Black Mirror is available on Netflix October 11. This anthology series that originally debuted back in 2001 that’s a bit like The Twilight Zone but updated for modern day originally didn’t have a series run here in the US until Netflix picked it up a few years ago. And boy am I glad they did — this show about what happens when technology and all its uses goes wrong is consistently one of the best things on TV. Black Mirror can be so intense that I’ve yet to be able to go back and watch old episodes again even though I loved them the first time around.

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

The alterna-history The Man in the High Castle returns to Amazon Prime December 16. I was surprised as to just how interesting a show High Castle was since I’d never really been interested in any of the other original Prime series. Here, it’s an early 1960s where Germany and Japan won the second world war and now occupy most of the planet, the US included. These two superpowers are engaging in a Cold War of sorts with what’s left of the US set to be the battleground for World War III. Except that events in the first season of High Castle reveal that this may just be one reality of many, one where the allies won the war (ours) and others where Germany or the Soviets won it all.

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

Another sci-fi series The Expanse returns to SyFy this January. Based on the book series Leviathan Wakes, The Expanse takes place in a future where mankind has colonized most of the solar system and has brought along all of the problems we have here on the Earth like racism, war, disease, hunger… But all this pales in comparison to what starts happening when something’s released on an asteroid outpost that threatens to consume all of humanity.

Also sometime in January a fourth season of the PBS series Sherlock is set to return with, I’m assuming, four new episodes. The series has been on since 2011 and has so far aired a paltry 13 episodes of TV. They may be “paltry” but they’re also darn good!

And the show I’m looking forward to most returning next season is Better Call Saul on AMC, the third series about how lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) goes from a guy trying to go good to someone who’d have people killed if it would earn him any money which is set to debut sometime early next year.