Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #95



TV

Star Trek: Discovery

The ironic thing about Star Trek was that after the series Star Trek: Enterprise ended in 2005 I really got the feeling that Paramount had no confidence in the property whatsoever. At that time, before the launch of the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, things were so bleak that there were reports that Paramount was getting ready to shut down the official Star Trek website.

Luckily that never transpired and while I didn’t care for them, the Abrams films resuscitated the property for a little while longer. Now, 12 years after the last new TV episode of Star Trek comes a new series, this time not shown in syndication, or on cable outposts like UPN or The CW but instead for the first episode at least on CBS; Star Trek: Discovery.

This seventh Star Trek TV series takes place after the events of Star Trek: Enterprise but before those in the original Star Trek. Starring Sonequa Martin Rainford as Commander Michael Burnham and Michelle Yeoh as Captain Han Bo, the promise of Star Trek: Discovery was to take turn an aging franchise into a modern TV series.

I hate to report that while Star Trek: Discovery might be a modern series, not much happened in the first episode that debuted on CBS. We’re introduced to the crew of the ship the USS Shenzhou that, on a mission to repair a Federation relay thingy uncovers Klingons hiding nearby. And as things go from bad to worse and one Klingon ship is joined by many and when Burnham tries to fire on the Klingons without orders to do so … the series goes to commercial with the message, “If you want more Star Trek subscribe to CBS All Access.”

So we’re left on quite a cliffhanger. And while I’d argue that this first episode of Star Trek: Discovery is probably better in terms of story than something like the first episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager were, since the Star Trek: Discovery episode ends on a cliffhanger there isn’t much story present to hold things together and it ends feeling half done.

Star Trek: Discovery

And because this is the first half of what’s obviously supposed to be a single, two-hour long episode/movie. It means that in this first episode we never get to meet the crew of the USS Discovery nor most of the cast of the show who’s been pitching the series the last few weeks other than Martin-Green. There’s no Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp or Mary Wiseman who’ve been everywhere in marketing materials and in fact inexplicably the USS Discovery ship is totally absent as well. 100% of the episode here focuses in on the Shenzhou and its crew who, as far as I can tell, aren’t in the show after the second episode.

Which leaves me scratching my head a bit? If this first episode is supposed to sell the viewers on Star Trek: Discovery in order to get them to signup and get CBS All Access accounts, then why show only the first episode with a mostly different cast on a totally different ship where nothing much happens other than a tense standoff?

I liked Star Trek: Discovery and would be watching it every week if it were on CBS. But I don’t think the first episode of the show sold me enough on it to shell out $84 a year on the service just for Star Trek.

Inhumans

So far, Marvel hasn’t been able to match the quality of the movies in their TV series yet. Some of that has to do with the nature of films having much bigger budgets than a comparable episode of TV. For example, while a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 might have a budget of something like $200 million, if reports are to be believed a comparable first feature-length episode of Inhumans might have a budget of $20 million. Now $20 million isn’t a minuscule amount, but it’s not nearly enough to deliver the spectacle that audiences have come to expect from the Marvel movies that are generally built around a few big action scenes with bits of story holding things together. The TV series with their smaller budgets simply can’t do that. Instead they have to rely on things like characters and story over big action scenes.

I think what hurts Inhumans the most is that it doesn’t have much action or story. There’s a lot of palace intrigue and when there are fight scenes they’re standard TV fare. But to the story of Inhumans was so over the top and heavy handed it was unintentionally silly at times.

In the Inhumans, inhumans who have all sorts of varying superpowers live and work in a secret city on the Moon hidden from the regular humans on the Earth. Inhumans started off as regular people, but after being exposed to the “Terrigen Mist” at some point fled to the Moon to escape persecution. There, during a ritual all teens are exposed to the mist to develop their powers.

On the Moon there are the haves like Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medussa, (Serinda Swan) and Karnak (Ken Leung) who have powers like a super-voice, super-hair and the ability to win any fight and those who were exposed to the mist like Maximus (Iwan Rheon) but didn’t develop any powers. The have-nots are forced to work in the mines for some reason that’s never really explained. The haves live a life of luxury in a city that’s slowly running out of resources so Maximus hatches a plot to leave the Moon and take over the Earth but his planning is so shoddy he allows most of the main characters to escape his clutches and flee to the very planet he wishes to conquer.

Inhumans isn’t bad, it’s just boring. For a show that’s about a population of super beings living on the Moon and doing battle the first movie-length episode seemed to crawl at times where it seemed like nothing much happened. The special effects of the show aren’t movie-quality, but neither are they of lesser quality for other similar shows.

Honestly, Inhumans is pretty much what I expected from a modern-day ABC Marvel series where there are good guys and bad, and there’s never any doubt as to who is who.

Movies

Annihilation movie trailer

1922 movie trailer

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1923: Charlton Heston of Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and The Omega Man is born
  • 1948: Avery Brooks, Captain Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1959: The TV series The Twilight Zone premiers
  • 1968: Night of the Living Dead opens in theaters
  • 1987: Near Dark opens in theaters
  • 1988: The movie Alien Nation premiers in theaters
  • 1999: The TV series Roswell premiers
  • 2000: The TV series Dark Angel premiers



Kelly Freas Spock painting






Direct Beam Comms #94



TV

Star Trek: The Next Generation

It literally took me years after it had ended to see all the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) when I decided to watch the series in the early 1990s. I remember what a big deal TNG was when it premiered this week 30 years ago in 1987 with there being news stories about the show and the first episode “Encounter at Farpoint” airing in primetime. I even remember that my dad who wasn’t at all into sci-fi was excited about TNG because of some nostalgia factor and we watched that first episode when it aired.

Some of the cast of TNG

And I think to a certain extent that’s why it took me so long to checkout TNG. If my dad was into TNG, then surly it was uncool.

It wasn’t easy when TNG was first running episodes to see it in my area. Much like with Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future where I lived TNG aired early Sunday mornings well into the 1990s. And since there was no way I was ever going to get up early on a Sunday morning unless I had to I missed a lot of years of TNG.

What finally got me interested in TNG was the debut of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993 which I liked and got me interested in Star Trek in general as well. And when I started watching TNG which was still in its first run syndication then I really dug it.

However, watching older episodes of TNG that I had already missed then wasn’t an easy task. One good thing was that right when I started watching TNG was the time that Star Trek in general was undergoing a surge or popularity so older episodes of TNG would air at different times during the week alongside the new ones. So slowly, but surly I began catching older episodes of TNG that I had missed.

Here’s a drawing I did in 1997 celebrating the 10th anniversary of TNG

At some point I’d bought a Star Trek book that listed all the episodes each Star Trek series that had aired to that point. I still have it. In the guide I’d mark off each episode of TNG that I’d seen and would be on the lookout in the TV listings for any that I had missed. And because TNG was airing in syndication everyday and because I started taping these episodes off of TV while I was at school I quickly began marking off more and more episodes as I’d see them. For some reason 25 years later I still have all these VHS tapes of TNG episodes I’d recorded off of TV and watched once. I figured I was building a personal TNG episode collection — of course now with TNG being easily available via many streaming services and VHS being a relatively dead medium these tapes do little more than take up closet space these days.

Still, tapes and syndicated TNG or no there was still episodes of TNG that I never seemed to be able to catch. These episode always seemed to be from the first or second season, one of which I remember wanting to see badly was “Q Who” that featured the first appearance of the villainous Borg. In that case I ended up buying a copy of the episode on VHS — they used to do that, sell single episodes of popular TV series on VHS — just to be able to see that episode. Even later I joined the TNG Columbia House tape club where every month I’d receive one tape in the mail that contained two episodes of the series for something like $20 a month.

($4.95 is for the first tape — every tape after that was $19.95.)

Because of the expense and because more of the older episodes of TNG started turning up in syndication I didn’t do this long. But still, I have a drawer full of these tapes along side the ones I recorded off of TV too.

Some of the cast of TNG

I’d guess that sometime in the later 1990s I finally fulfilled my quest of seeing each and every episode of TNG and having marked off all those episodes in my book. At least I don’t think there’s any TNG out there that I haven’t seen, or at least I’ve never turned over to a random episode of TNG on TV and thought, “What’s this one!?”

Now that I think of it, even if I have seen all of TNG I certainly never saw the episodes in order. When I started watching the show in the early 1990s I would have seen any new ones in order. But as for the old ones I’d have seen them as they happened to air in syndication. And they didn’t always air in order. So my experience with TNG is a bit of a hodgepodge, with me seeing brand new episodes along older ones on TV along with whatever tape I’d get from Columbia House that month whenever I started doing that.

Now of course it couldn’t be easier to see every episode of TNG. The entire series can be bought on Blu-ray for something like $80 which is about 30% of what Columbia House was charging for a single season of the series on VHS and the series is also available via a few streaming services and aires in regular rotation on BBC America too.

The Good Place

The sitcom The Good Place returned to NBC for a second season last week and is as good as ever. This show about Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who was supposed to go to the bad place after she died but accidentally was sent to the good was one of the bright spots on the networks last year that was filled with mostly ick.

Spoilers about the first season follow, so if you haven’t seen it you might want to skip the rest of this review. But trust me, if you’re not watching The Good Place you’re missing out.

At the end of the first season Eleanor came to the realization that she wasn’t mistakenly sent to the good place, she’s been in the bad place all along. And everything that’s been happening in what she thought was the good place was really a ploy by this bad place manager Michael (Ted Danson) to find new and unique ways to torture people there.

The second season starts right back where the first ended, with Eleanor and her group of fellow people who think they’re in the good place coming to the realization they’re in the bad, but Michael having reset everything to run his plan again with Eleanor and her group starting from scratch with them having no memory of what had come before.

Whereas the first season mostly followed Eleanor tying to become a better person to stay in what she thought was the good place, so far the second has followed Michael and his minions behind the scenes as it were trying to get his plan back on track but finding that even though Eleanor doesn’t know what’s going on, she’s still a formidable opponent.

The Punisher TV spot

The Reading List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1952: Christopher Reeve, Superman, is born
  • 1954: Linda Hamilton of Terminator, Terminator 2 and the TV series Beauty and the Beast is born
  • 1985: The TV series Amazing Stories debuts
  • 1987: Star Trek: The Next Generation premiers
  • 1995: The TV series Space: Above and Beyond premiers
  • 2001: Star Trek: Enterprise premiers
  • 2004: Shaun of the Dead opens in theaters
  • 2005: Serenity opens in theaters
  • 2013: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres



Star Trek: The Animated Series Klingon ship



Tags:



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.