Resin Heroes

John Schoenherr Dune paperback cover painting






Direct Beam Comms #22



Term of the week

Gunpla: Stands for “Gundam Plastic Model.”

TV

Doctor Who 1996 TV movie

Comparatively, the mid–1990s weren’t great when it came to sci-fi. Sure,TV series like Star Trek and The X-Files and other sci-fi shows thrived, but for the most part sci-fi films and TV were a niche market at best. Back then, there were a very few successful comic book movies and in fact, most comic titles aired as after school cartoons and not as films. And even what’s now one of the world’s most popular TV series Doctor Who’s original run was cancelled in 1989 and was then considered decidedly uncool.

Paul McGann as the Doctor

Paul McGann as the Doctor

Yet “uncool” or not in 1996 FOX TV decided to create and air a made for TV reboot movie of Doctor Who.

Starring Paul McGann as the Doctor, Eric Roberts as the Master and Daphne Ashbrook as Dr. Grace Holloway, this new Doctor Who was a continuation of the old but tweaked a bit for American audiences. Gone was the UK setting for a Canada doubling as the US and really the only English “thing” in the show that previously was defined by its “Englishness” was the Doctor himself.

At the time I remember FOX heavily promoting the show and it seemed like they were hoping they might have a hit on their hands that they could then spin out to a new Doctor Who TV series. Maybe it was because FOX was just beginning to ride the wave of The X-Files mania that was starting to grip the nation that they thought that reviving a cult British classic TV series might lead to winning ratings.

And the spring of 1996 I was extremely excited about the prospect that Doctor Who might be returning to TV screens. I was a Doctor Who fanatic as a kid thanks to my friend Cameron but had drifted away from the show in my teenage years. (Though I might be mis-remembering this as I’m not quite sure just when our local PBS station stopped airing episode of Doctor Who.)

But watching the 1996 Doctor Who movie was a disappointment. It was Doctor Who and it felt like an honest attempt at translating something that was so different than the average TV series into something more palatable for American audiences. But something was just missing from the 1996 Doctor Who. The ratings for the TV movie were poor and that was that. It would be nearly a decade before the relaunch of the now mega-popular Doctor Who TV series that would return the series to prominence.

One thing about the 1996 Doctor Who that I appreciate — it might have failed but it’s never been ignored by the most recent incarnation of the show. The movie was celebrated a few years ago during the series 50th anniversary and McGann has appeared as the Doctor in a flashback episode of the current series and has voiced the Doctor in a series of audiobooks too.

Oddly enough, just after the 1996 Doctor Who movie aired sci-fi was about to become huge with the likes of mega-blockbusters Independence Day and The Matrix. I kind’a wonder if the 1996 reboot Doctor Who had been released more around the time of those movies if it would have found more of an audience on TV?

Movies

Dune (1984)

The sleeper must awaken!

The sleeper must awaken!

I rewatched the movie Dune a few weeks back — theatrical, not the extended cut thank you — and noticed that several of the actors in the movie went onto star in various sci-fi/genera TV series in the 1980s/early 1990s.

  • Kyle MacLachlan (Paul Atreides) – Played Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks that was co-created by David Lynch who also directed Dune.
  • Dean Stockwell (Doctor Wellington Yueh) – Co-starred as Al Calavicci in the series Quantum Leap.
  • Patrick Steward (Gurney Halleck) – Starred as Captain Jean-Luc Picard over 176 episodes and four movies of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Toys

Alien Warrior Dron ARTFX+ Statue

This statue, which retails for $80, can hang off the walls of its diorama and upside down on its base via magnets. (Space Marines not included.)

The reading list

The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1973: Soylent Green opens in theaters
  • 1994: The TV mini-series The Stand premiers.
  • 1996: The TV movie Doctor Who airs on Fox.
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