Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #85



TV

Game of Thrones

I think I’m done with Game of Thrones. I’ve spent the last six seasons watching the show but the last few years I’ve welcomed its return less and less. It’s not that I don’t like Game of Thrones anymore, it’s just that it watching it has become a chore.

The stories of the first few season of Game of Thrones were much more contained than the ones in the series are now. At first there were stories of Winterfell, Westeros and the Targaryen’s across the sea and that was about it. And even then those stories were interconnected with the likes of the people of Westeros and Winterfell meeting and coming together to the point where there were really only two story locations for a while. But with each season the stories have fragmented more and more and more, to the point where no single episode of Game of Thrones can contain everything going on at once with stories having to be spread out between multiple shows. And even then some stories only get five or ten minutes an episode and one character even went missing an entire season only to pick back up with his story a year later since there wasn’t enough room for him.

With all this story weight meant that each season Game of Thrones started moving slower and slower to the point where in its fifth season, to me at least, there wasn’t enough story progression in it to hold my interest.

While things did pick up in the sixth season of the show, I started finding myself less and less interested in certain stories. So much of what Game of Thrones was last season was of characters who used to be together being off on their own adventures and since I wasn’t into each and ever character’s adventures I found myself more and more skipping through parts of episodes to get to stories that I was interested in. I’d generally stop at Tyrion stories but skip through Arya ones. And honestly by the end of the season I was pretty much only interested in Tyrion.

When I start using my DVR to skip through episodes of any series I know that my days of watching it are numbered.

I do think that if this were the last season of Game of Thrones I wouldn’t be writing this I would instead be watching the show just to see how it all ends. But this season isn’t the last, there’s one more left, and even then HBO is examining the possibility of spinning off the show into a variety of different series. All of which is fine, but at what point is the story of Game of Thrones only about continuing the story of Game of Thrones rather than coming to some sort of ending?

Everyone likes to make fun of soap operas, but at what point do self-perpetuating TV series like Game of Thrones become more soap opera-like than what they initially set out to be like smart, fantasy dramas?

Inhumans promo

Defenders promo

Krypton promo

Westworld promo

Stranger Things promo

Star Trek Discovery promo

The Gifted promo

Movies

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

One of the few movies I did see in the theater in 1987 rather than on VHS or cable was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. That summer I was watching my younger brother at home while my parents both worked and one week they gave us a little cash to get out of the house and go to a movie. I looked through the paper to see what was playing at the theater in riding distance to our house and the choices were Superman IV and Madonna lead Who’s that Girl. Being the mega-comic book fan that I was with a closed full of Superman back issues I, of course, chose to see, you guessed it, Who’s that Girl. I have no idea why I’d want to see that movie at all — in fact I’m relatively sure I’ve never seen it. I can only guess that it was because it would be easier to explain to my friends that I went to see a movie that starred then it-girl Madonna than a Superman movie, since at the time once you were a certain age you weren’t supposed to like superheroes or comics anymore. My mom used her parent veto and nixed the idea of my eight year old brother seeing Madonna prancing around on-screen in a fancy leotard and told us we were seeing Superman IV with Christopher Reeve prancing around on screen in his fancy leotard.

So, one weekday my brother and myself rode our bikes to the theater and saw Superman IV. When you’re a pre-teen kid Superman IV isn’t a terrible movie. It’s got the humous Lenny (Jon Cryer), Lex Luthor’s nephew, and even has ol’ Lex himself (Gene Hackman) back in the role he originated after missing out on Superman III. And let’s not forget Mariel Hemingway co-stars who was one of the most beautiful women on the planet in 1987 which didn’t hurt the movie either.

Looking back on Superman IV 30 years later, it’s a mess of a movie. Produced by Cannon Films known for such gems as Invasion USA and Over the Top, Superman IV was made on the cheap and looks that way. The movie is barely an hour and a half long and that includes both beginning and end credits with the opening credits being the looooooooong credits the Superman movies were known for back then. Christopher Reeve is back as the Man of Steel and a lot of the other cast members like Margot Kidder have returned as well. But other than Reeve the rest of the recognizable faces other than Hackman are in cameo roles at best.

A lot of the movies I’ve gone back and rewatched from 1987 might not be as good as I remember but they all have some sort of weird nostalgic appeal, and Superman IV is no different. Though I would argue that it’s the one movie I’ve watched that’s actually a lot worse than I remember.

The story of Superman IV is of Superman trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons, but in a devious plans Luthor uses Superman’s tossing all of the nukes into the Sun as a way to make Nuclear Man, a character created for the movie and so-far is his only appearance, in order to destroy Superman. Essentially, Superman IV is a smaller version of everything that had come before in the previous films. It’s almost a small-budget remake of Superman II in many regards with Superman battling one superpower villain instead of three. And since IV was made on the cheap all of the seams show.

Low-budget or not, Christopher Reeve gave it his all in Superman IV in what would be his last role as the title character. After the disappointment of Superman IV it would be nearly 20 years with the release of Superman Returns in 2006 until the character returned to the big screen. However, it’s not like there weren’t attempts at a new Superman movie after IV as most of the 1990s were spent with Tim Burton trying to get his version of the character off the ground in a movie that would have been called Superman Lives and then in the early 2000s there was another attempt this time with J.J. Abrams in another dead movie that would have been called Superman: Flyby.

If you are interested in finding out what happened behind the scenes with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace it’s chronicled in the 2014 documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) as well as in Jon Cryer’s memoir So that Happened. You can also find out what happened with Tim Burton’s aborted Superman movie in the 2015 doc The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?

Blade Runner 2049 trailer

Starship Troopers: Traitor Of Mars trailer

Justice League trailer

Thor: Ragnarok trailer

Books

Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow

I first became aware of the work of Geof Darrow in his incredibly detailed drawings in the comic mini-series Hard Boiled when I was a bit too young. That comic, an acid trip through a hellish, corporatized future where robots kill scores of people turned me on to Darrow’s work. Years later I found an amazing book on his artistic contribution to the movie The Matrix that is still one of my prized possessions and now comes another Darrow art book, Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geoff Darrow.

From Dark Horse:

Geof Darrow’s slick, precise inks and stunning detail have amazed comics fans for decades, from his early work with Moebius to Hard Boiled, his first collaboration with Frank Miller, to the overwhelming success of his current series, The Shaolin Cowboy.

Now Darrow provides incredible insight into his process by sharing the pencil drawings behind his meticulous inks in a huge hardcover collection. Featuring well-known covers and never-before-seen drawings alike, Lead Poisoning is a behind-the-scenes look that reveals perfectionism at its best, showing how clean and perfect the initial drawings can be as well as the bizarre alterations that appear to happen on the fly.

Featuring commentary by Darrow and his notable peers, Lead Poisoning: The Pencil Art of Geof Darrow is a hardcover that brings you right to Darrow’s drawing board.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1928: Stanley Kubrick, writer/director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange is born
  • 1956: Kevin Spacey, Lex Luthor of Superman Returns and Moon is born
  • 1957: Nana Visitor, Kira Nerys of of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is born
  • 1972: Wil Wheaton, Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • 1983: Krull opens in theaters
  • 1986: Maximum Overdrive debuts
  • 1987: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace opens in theaters
  • 1990: The TV series Swamp Thing premiers
  • 1995: Waterworld premiers
  • 1999: Deep Blue Sea premiers
  • 2001: Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 2013: The Wolverine opens in theaters



The best TV series of 2016



Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

I’m not sure I’ve ever been connected to a show as I am to Better Call Saul. I’m so interested in each new episode that I’ll actually get up a bit early for work so I can watch 10 or 15 minutes of the latest episode via DVR, even though I know it’ll be the first thing I watch the minute I get home in the evening.

If the first season of Better Call Saul was all about Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), a low-level attorney starting to flirt with a life of crime, then the second was about McGill if not embracing whole heartedly becoming a “bad guy,” not entirely turning his back on doing bad things if that means him getting an advantage on the competition either.

McGill has it all — an amazing job, an expensive car and a wonderful girlfriend. But for whatever reason it’s just not enough and rather than accepting his spectacular fortune he instead chooses to intentionally tank his career at every turn. Be it producing and airing a questionable TV commercial for the firm he works for or even setting up his brother to take an embarrassing career fall even if he kind’a deserves it.

The stories of Better Call Saul are deceptively simple. There aren’t any life or death stakes and much of the series rides on McGill navigating the slopes of questionable business practices with him slowly becoming the bad guy. But the things he does aren’t too bad and usually affect only a few people. Where Better Call Saul excels again and again and again is with the characters. They’re so nuanced and complex and unique that the underlying story almost doesn’t matter here — it’s what the characters are doing and how they interact with each other that makes Better Call Saul one of the best shows of the decade.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

What can I say about Stranger Things that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseam since the series debuted last summer? This early 1980s period show about a little girl with strange powers who escapes from an institution and is taken in by three boys was the highlight of my, and I suspect many other people’s, summer. Stranger Things was this weird, wonderful unexpected bolt of goodness that quite honestly I didn’t think was going to work when I first heard about it. The marketing from the show screamed “THIS IS GOING TO BE LIKE STEVEN SPIELBERG!!!” and I’d been burned by that with the movie Super 8 that also featured a group of boys and a girl that period who come across some weirdness going on around their small-town. Heck, Super 8, much like Stranger Things, is shot in such a way to be a love-letter to Spielberg.

Except that where Super 8 was a disappointment is that while the film looked and had some of the themes of Spielberg it was totally missing the emotions of Spielberg. Which is what Stranger Things got totally right, it doesn’t look quite as much like a Spielberg movie as the marketing materials would have you believe but it’s overflowing with the heart of something Spielberg would have been involved with.

That and a sense of underlying creepy horror that feels like it’s some long-forgotten Stephen King book put to TV. But in a good way.

Westworld

Westworld

As I began writing this article in October Westworld was much lower on this list. But as time went on and I saw more and more episodes the series it kept rising higher and higher here. And that’s saying a lot for a show that seemed to be damaged goods before it even aired with it arriving more than a year late after having suffered through “script problems.” Yet almost from the beginning Westworld was a brilliant show that asked a lot of very interesting questions about the nature of reality and what it means to be human.

The Expanse

The Expanse

For years now, perhaps since the end of Battlestar Galactica, I’d been yearning for a new “very large ships in outer space” series. There’s just something about people out in the depths of the cosmos flying around in little tin cans that appeals to me. And while there’s been loads of “very large ships…” series that have sucked since BSG, the first good one to emerge since then is The Expanse on SyFy.

This series takes place in a future that’s near enough to right now that we can still recognize the architecture and people, but far enough away that some of this architecture is on asteroids zooming around the solar system and we can’t quite understand some of the characters who have new and different accents. And these characters live normal, ordinary and dull lives except the places they live in space are incredibly dangerous where one mistake can result in an agonizing death. Into all this are the survivors of a ship destroyed in an attack who hold the key to exposing a mystery that might just be the beginning of the end of mankind.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from The Expanse because it’s on SyFy, a network known mostly for cruddy original movies mostly starring sharks and crummy original series post BSG. But The Expanse is quite different. Much like BSG it’s based on a previous work, here a series of books by James Corey, and much like BSG the storytelling in The Expanse is excellent.

American Crime Story

The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story

What new info can be gleaned from a crime and trial that took place more than 20 years ago and was covered and dissected by the media for years? That’s what I thought going into The People v. O. J. Simpson anyway since I’d lived through the whole Simpson media fiasco and aftermath. But I think that the clarity of years after the trial, being that it’s not yet another “torn from the headlines” series, made for some darn interesting TV here. Instead of focusing on the obvious, what everyone’s already seen from the constant media coverage when the trail took place, series creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski instead put the focus of the series on what happened when the cameras weren’t recording, behind the scenes at the courthouse and behind closed doors.

If you’ve yet to checkout The People v. O. J. Simpson because “you know how it ends,” take it from me that you really should watch The People v. O. J. Simpson because it’s one of the best things about this TV season.

Daredevil

Daredevil

I was lukewarm with the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. It was good enough, but was essentially a 12.5 episode long character origin story with the Daredevil (Charlie Cox) character really only being introduced in the last episode. That being said, the second season really hit its stride with the character of Daredevil being joined by the likes of ex-girlfriend and now dangerous assassin Elektra (Elodie Yung), the vigilante Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and a group of zombiefied ninjas. And what’s not to love about “zombified ninjas?”

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

They say that computers need a “killer app,” or some program that’s so good people will buy the whole system just to get the application. And to me the “killer app” for the streaming service Amazon Prime is the series The Man in the High Castle since I subscribed to the service just to be able to watch this show. Set in an alternate America in the early 1960, in The Man in the High Castle it was the Axis powers who won WWII and Japan and Germany have split the US in half with the Germans taking everything east of the Rockies and Japanese west. At times the series is extremely disturbing with all freedoms that we know and love being dissolved under the occupations and people disappearing and being executed on the streets for minor offenses. But in The Man in the High Castle these weird cans of films start appearing that indicate their reality might be one of many, one where the Allies won WW2 and one where the Russians won it all themselves.

So, if this is true it means that for characters in The Man in the High Castle there might be a better world waiting for them and for the occupiers a threat to their total victory and their way of life.




Direct Beam Comms #53



TV

Westworld season 1 – Grade: B+

“Cease all motor functions!”

I am afraid of Westworld. So many times in the past I’ve fallen for shows like Westworld that have these deep, intricate character-driven storylines only to be disappointed in the end. In my heart of hearts I know that with TV series like Westworld the journey is more important than the destination, but I’m always hoping that the series ending will be as good as the road it took to get there. And so far at least, one season in, Westworld has taken one fine, interesting road and has quickly become my favorite thing on TV in the last few months.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Westworld but whatever I was thinking the show might be like isn’t anything as to what it actually was like. Much of the story is told via three groups of characters. The first group is of people like Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) who are trying to keep this massive park running while at the same time making improvements while acting in a sort of god-like way even if some of their changes have started causing glitches in the robots of the park known as the “hosts.” These robots don’t know that they’re robots and awaken each day anew not realizing that they’re all in a story loop and essentially play the same day over and over again. With this robot group are characters like Maeve (Thandie Newton) who’s starting to have memories she shouldn’t have and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who’s beginning to question the nature of her reality. And then there’s the human visitors of the park like William (Jimmi Simpson) and “The Man in Black” (Ed Harris) who are experiencing the park in very different ways. Harris’ character is convinced that there’s a core story beneath the veneer of Westworld that the rest of the guests experience and wants to uncover this truth, even if it means he has spend 30 years there and cause pain, death and destruction to the hosts to do so. And William, brand new to the park, wants to help Doloris in her quest for self realization but isn’t sure what all is required to do so or the ramifications of.

I think that what works best about Westworld are all the questions that the series creators ask. Like if Dr. Ford is creating these robots, and these robots are self-aware, feel pain and have emotions, has he created life? Even if that life can be changed, controlled and obliterated at the flick of a switch. And for the “hosts” of the show who, if they’re somewhat self-aware now, what happens in the future when they become fully self-aware and want to control their own destinies and futures and not be controlled and tied to the Westworld park as they are now? And what will they do when they realize the people who’ve created them have spent decades abusing them over and over again with no consequences?

I’m also fascinated with how Westworld ties into modern day video games. In those games players come up against characters in the game who they can do what they will with. Though there might be consequences in the game if the players harm these characters, there are no real world consequences if they decide to do so. And this is the same for Westworld where the visitors can do whatever they want to the hosts be it hurt them, rape them or kill them. There’s no consequences since technically you can’t hurt, rape or kill a robot. But what if someday the robots started remembering these terrible things done to them and what if they wanted to fight back?

It’s interesting to imagine just where Westworld will go in future seasons? In my head I’ve got it all mapped out down perfectly to the series sixth season. But if I’m lucky the creators of Westworld will continue to do their own thing and keep creating a surprising show that asks a lot of bit questions about what it’s like to live in the times that we do without providing a lot of easy answers.

Legion TV Spot

“The human race is beginning to evolve.”

The Expanse TV Spot

“In this world that we live in you have to pick a side.”

Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

“This is my chance to prove myself.”

War for the Planet of the Apes trailer

“All of human history has lead to this moment.”

The Mummy (2017) trailer

World War Z + Suicide Squad = The Mummy

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1917: Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End to name a few is born
  • 1941: The Wolf Man opens in theaters
  • 1976: King Kong debuts
  • 1978: Superman opens in theaters
  • 1984: Dune premiers
  • 1984: Runaway debuts
  • 1984: Starman opens
  • 1996: Mars Attacks! premiers
  • 1998: Star Trek: Insurrection opens in theaters
  • 2002: Star Trek: Nemesis premiers
  • 2005: King Kong opens in theaters
  • 2010: Tron: Legacy debuts



Direct Beam Comms #44



TV

Westworld – Grade: B+

Until now, Westworld on HBO was known as the series that was supposed to have premiered over a year ago but was pushed back when the production had to be shut down for “script problems” which is never a good sign. I was really looking forward to the show when it was first announced but after that maybe not as much. So, it’s with a bit of relief I’m happy to report that the first episode of Westworld is pretty good, with a few caveats at least.

160819-westworld-s1-blast-06-1920Based on the film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), Westworld is a kind of western Disneyland stocked with era appropriate robots who guests can interact with, have sex with and kill with impunity. Created by Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), the park has been running for decades without a hitch. The robots can’t harm any living thing, they literally can’t even swat flies from their face lest they kill them, and are reborn anew each morning with the memories of the previous day having been erased.

And some of these memories are pretty disturbing — rape and murder are a daily occurrence in Westworld but since all memories are erased it’s not much of a problem. Except now there’s a glitch in the system. The older the robot is and the longer they’ve been around somehow allows them start remembering things from their past. And when things start happening and robots begin to go “buggy” with them almost having what looks like strokes, no one’s sure if these changes are a mistake in the code or if what’s happening is about to be the next step in robot evolution.

Think The Truman Show (the overseers of Westworld watch what’s going on via a control center that overlooks things) meets Groundhog Day (the robots experience the same day over and over again) with a bit of Crichton’s own Jurassic Park too (the park designed where nothing can go wrong goes wrong) all mixed together. But these sources just makes up a small part of Westworld, much of the story of the show is about the robots who may be finding some sort of consciousness with the overseers of Westworld, mainly Ford, trying to figure out if this is good or bad.

What does hurt the show though, which has been pointed out by other reviewers as well, is that while the robots of Westworld come off as mildly fully formed individuals, the living people there do not. The park guests, especially so, are mostly one dimensional. They’re there to mostly live out their most debaucherous fantasies — be it via having wild sex or killing whomever they want whenever the whim strikes them. And the robots can’t fight back. Their guns though they work on other robots are useless against a park guest.

Enter the guest known as “The Man in Black” (Ed Harris) who has been coming to the park for 30 years. He’s the bad guy of the park and thinks that by causing destruction and mayhem that he’ll be able to uncover the hidden inner workings of Westworld. Some of which involves brutally attacking Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) the oldest robot at the park over and over again trying to get her memories to carry over from today’s trauma to tomorrow’s memory.

Which is another bit about Westworld that bothered me — the level of violence in the show is pretty extreme, even for HBO. And since the robots live the same day over and over again with small differences depending on how they interact with the park’s guests and each other, there’s always the opportunity for the same bad thing to happen over and over again.

Still, there’s a lot more good than bad in Westworld and I’m very intrigued to see where the series goes next.

Timeless – Grade: C+

Timeless - Season PilotThe new Timeless series on NBC really wants to be an American version of Doctor Who, unfortunately I think it goes about it in the wrong way.

Here, a stand-in for Elon Musk (Paterson Joseph) has created a time machine which unfortunately has been stolen by evil Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic). Flynn and his terrorist crew wants to go back in time and change things for his own devious ends. Enter extremely good looking history professor Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), extremely good looking ex-special forces Delta Force guy who punches people in the face Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter) and average-scientist guy Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett) who have to use the old, backup time machine to go back in time to try and stop Flynn who’s first target is the Hindenburg. Flynn doesn’t want the Hindenburg to explode, he wants to save it.

But will Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus have the skills to stop Flynn before he rewrites history and changes our present? Will Lucy and Wyatt ever get together? And can Wyatt control his urges to want to save people in the past and therefor change his/our present?

Timeless is interesting if it’s been done a few times before with the likes of Time Tunnel and Voyagers. In fact, what reminded me most about Timeless was the unaired pilot remake of Time Tunnel back in 2006.

Honestly, for a network show Timeless is above average. I think the problem lies in that it’s not that original. It feels like the show really wants to be the US version of Doctor Who with people traveling around in a time machine solving mysteries and fixing things. But I think where Timeless is going wrong is that it seems like they’re only going to be making stops in famous periods of the past from the Hindenburg, to the assassination of Lincoln and even a visit with the Rat Pack which really screams “network event TV” to me. Going to just parts of the past we all know about feels like a cheat to me.

It would seem that rather than concentrating on things that everyone’s heard of, and are therefor easy to try and predict and stop, if instead Flynn went after something a little more hard to guess what he was up to that he’d be able to do a lot more damage.

But maybe that’s thinking too much in-depth, Timeless is a network show after all.

Black Mirror season 4 TV spot

Iron Fist TV spot

The Reading List

On the Horizon

It seems strange but I only have three major articles left in 2016 — one on the movie What We Do in the Shadows, Doctor Strange and Star Wars and after that I start my “best of” lists that will carry over into the first weeks of 2017. And I’ve actually got a lot planned out in 2017 too, from new movies coming out next year to how bloody good the movies from 1987 were.

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1956: Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, Millennium and The Lone Gunman is born
  • 1995: Strange Days opens in theaters



2015/16 Fall TV Preview



2015/16 Fall TV - The Man in the High Castle

New series

There’s quite a few new series to look forward to on TV this fall. In fact there are FIVE series/mini-series based on influential novels set to premiere later this year on cable and streaming services and a few other interesting shows to boot!

Unfortunately, the outlook for new series set to debut on network TV doesn’t look good. There’s only a few show there that I’m interested in, and that’s only because they’re a genera series that, truthfully, I don’t have very high hopes for.

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl

Those two network shows are Supergirl on CBS and Minority Report on FOX. Supergirl follows the Man of Steel’s cousin who must balance her life and the fact that she has the same superpowers as the Man of Tomorrow while Minority Report is a sequel of sorts to the 2002 movie where one of the twins from the film who could see crimes in the future goes off with a cop to try and stop more crimes.

I’d have more faith with Supergirl if it were on ANY network other than CBS while Minority Report sounds a lot like another FOX show from a few years ago, Almost Human from 2013, that also took place in the future but partnered a robot with a cop in order to solve crimes. Almost Human only lasted a single season which with how FOX tends to treat its sci-fi series is also probably in store for Minority Report too.

On cable things are a lot more interesting.

On The CW is the superhero Legends of Tomorrow show that takes place in the same universe as their already popular DC Arrow/The Flash series. In Legends, a whole group of superheroes/supervillains from Firestorm, the Atom, Hawkgirl and Captain Cold to name a few team up to try and stop some future world ending event. Legends sounds a bit like Justice League meets Suicide Squad which could be interesting.

A TV version of the Evil Dead film franchise Ash vs Evil Dead is set to take on the Deadites starting Halloween on Starz. The trailer for this one looks to be a crazed blood-spattered gore-filled continuation of the story from the movies with Bruce Campbell returning as Ash in the title role.

What’s got me REALLY excited this fall are those five sci-fi series based on books; Westworld, Childhood’s End, The Expanse and, what I’m looking forward to most next season, The Man in the High Castle.

The Expanse

The Expanse

Based in the Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle is produced by Ridley Scott and will stream November 20. The first episode of this alt-history series has already debuted where a post WWII victorious Japan and Germany occupies the United States. Their response to any rebellion is a fiery death and even owning alt-history material in High Castle that tells of a victorious US in WWII is a crime punishable by death.

The first episode of High Castle was so good after watching the first free episode I went out and immediately subscribed to Amazon Prime in order to be able to see the rest.

A mini-series based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel Childhood’s End (1953) premieres on SyFy Monday, December 14. The Childhood’s End story has colossal alien spacecraft arriving at the earth ala V (1983) and the inhabits within, who just so happen to look the stereotypical version of the devil, promising to bring peace and tranquility to the planet. But their gift comes with a very large caveat.

Another Syfy series based on a novel is The Expanse which also debuts December 14. The Expanse takes place several hundred years in the future when mankind has spread out from the Earth, is living all around the solar system and is mining the asteroid belt for resources when a deadly secret is uncovered that puts the future of humanity in doubt.

A TV version of the Michael Crichton novel/film Westworld is set for HBO sometime after the new year. The original Westworld story followed guests at lavish themed resorts staffed by robots that turn on them who have to fight for their lives. Reportedly, in this updated version the robots/beings of Westworld don’t know that they’re living in a simulated reality and think what they’re experiencing is real.

BCS_S1_004_L

Returning series

Though it doesn’t always seem that way during slow months, but at times modern TV is an embarrassment of riches. Nowadays there are quality series not only during the fall and winter but spring and summer months too both on television and the various streaming services too. So many so that even though I watched a lot of TV last season there simply wasn’t enough hours and I couldn’t keep up with everything so I was forced to skip quite a few shows I’d normally check out.

There are so many riches that I’ve come to the realization that some series that I think are just alright are really very good. It’s just that when an “alright” show is being judged against future-classics they come off more pale in comparison than they would otherwise.

Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who

First up this fall is the ninth modern (35th if you include the classic) season of Doctor Who on Saturday, September 19 on BBC America. This second season with Peter Capaldi starring as the title role will run 13 episodes including the traditional Christmas episode. From its reboot a decade ago Doctor Who has been a solid sci-fi show with a lot of heart.

ABC’s comedies Fresh off the Boat and Black-ish return Tuesday, September 22 and The Goldbergs Wednesday, September 23. These comedies aren’t great but they usually funny and sometimes that’s enough.

The second season of The Last Man on Earth premiers Sunday, September 27 on Fox. I thought the first season was good, abet maybe not enough “last man”, but I’m honestly interested in where this one picks up after the events of the first season finale.

The cast of Manhattan

The cast of Manhattan

The drama following the creation of the atomic bomb Manhattan returns to WGN Tuesday, October 13. I’m not sure many watched this show but I genuinely liked a lot of Manhattan where the secrets the people keep who are developing the a-bomb are almost as destructive as the weapon itself.

The second season of The Knick on Cinemax about the hospital of the same name in New York at the turn of the last century, debuts Friday, October 16. The first season was produced and entirely directed by Steven Soderbergh and was one of the best things on TV last year. And Soderbergh’s again returning to the directing chair and is filming each and every episode this season too. The Knick is the rare show that takes a look at a mostly forgotten time on our history where the world was moving to a time of scientific wonders and horrors too.

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

I’m a huge Star Wars fan and am excited about the return of the animated series Star Wars Rebels Wednesday, October 14 to Disney XD. This series takes place between episodes III and IV in a time where the Empire was the unequivocal ruler of the galaxy and the crew of the ship the Ghost are just trying to make a legal if they can, illegal if the must, buck. But as the first season progressed and the rebellion agains the Empire began to spark the question becomes does the crew join up and fight and put their lives on the line or do they play it safe and try and stay small and under the radar of the Empire?

I very nearly included the upcoming reboot of The X-Files as a new series since the show’s been off the air 13 years at this point, but decided that it’s a returning show since it features all the same cast and writers from the classic show returning to this new one on Sunday, January 24. Honestly, I can’t wait for the return of The X-Files even though late in its original run the series became overwrought in trying to maintain its conspiracy storylines and had an unremarkable ending for a remarkable show. Yet the first time I saw Mulder and Scully in the new promos and heard the eerie theme again I got goosebumps.

And sometime after the new year two of the best shows on TV returns; The Americans on FX and Better Call Saul on AMC.

Keri Russell in The Americans

Keri Russell in The Americans

Now in its fourth season, The Americans looks to pick up after the devastating events of the third season that left the Jennings’ family in ruins. Is there hope for the Soviet spies in 1980s Washington DC when members of their own family want to defect to the other (our) side?

Better Call Saul was a revelation to me last winter. I was never one that was able to get into the TV series Breaking Bad. All of my friends who watched that show loved it and I’ve tried watching it several times but for whatever reason I could just never get into it. So I almost didn’t watch Better Call Saul since it’s a prequel of sorts to Breaking Bad but luckily I did. Better Call Saul traces how sad-sack lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) one day becomes ambulance chasing do whatever it takes to win a case/make money law be damned Saul Goodman.

Everything about the first season of Better Call Saul was wonderful and its the rare show that when one episode ended I’d spend the next week waiting with excitement for the next one to start.