Sci-Fi Storm

Archive for November, 2016

Syfy’s Incorporated – another dystopian drama, but with corporate intrigue

by on Nov.30, 2016, under Television

Tonight is the premiere of Syfy’s Incorporated (10/9c), an ambitious drama from creators David and Alex Pastor (Carriers) and produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and starring Sean Teale, Julia Ormand, Dennis Haysbert, Allison Miller and Eddie Ramos.

The setting is cut from the same cloth as it seems all futuristic shows and movies these days – a near-future dystopian world. In this case global warming has caused the oceans to rise significantly, with both coasts of the US now under water, and governments were unprepared. Corporations now control the world as they now control the food. And the remaining land is divided into “Green Zones” and “Red Zones”.

Green Zones are where the corporations are, and the people who work for them. Lush, clean, green, almost utopian but in a 1984-ish way. Corporate employees live in the Green Zone, and regularly line up in long security lines to get into work. They do their work and they leave, while trying to edge up the corporate ladder. Everyone else lives in the Red Zone – the slums – where they scratch out an existence while just out of sight of those in the Green Zone – well hidden by walls and holograms, so the Green Zone inhabitants can be blissfully unaware of what lurks outside.

Ben Larson (Teale) came from the Red Zone, but he has managed to work his way up at Spiga Corporation. He’s married the Laura, the daughter of Spiga’s head of US operations (Elziabeth Krauss, played by Julia Ormond) who has grown up with privilege, and they are looking to have a child naturally, which is very unusual when you can pick the genetic makeup of a child like choosing the options of a car. He has another purpose though – he’s looking for his former girl from the Red Zone who may be part of the corporate machine now. In the meantime head of Spiga security and former military officer Julian Morse (Dennis Haysbert) is trying to track down a mole at Spiga.

Nothing so far seems very original, and has been done a number of times before. But they do have a decent framework that should allow the characters, story and intrigue to develop. The potential is all there. Visually it is there. It will take some time to develop, but hopefully they get there quickly enough. Stick it out and see if this escapes the dystopian hole.


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MGM sues Buckaroo Banzai creators over rights; Kevin Smith exits project

by on Nov.29, 2016, under Television

Let me see if I can sum this up, as it seems a lot has happened very rapidly…MGM and Amazon struck a deal to develop a series based on the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and signed on Kevin Smith, the creator of Clerks and all the other Jay and Silent Bob movies and the guy I’d most like to just hang out and have a beer with, as the showrunner. But original writer Earl Mac Rauch and director Walter D. Richter claim they have the rights to a TV series. So MGM preemptively filed a lawsuit to have a court to seek declaration of the rights.

Telling fans in a Facebook video (shown below) that the lawsuit was “news to me,” Smith announced that he has dropped out of the project.

“I’m no longer involved. I don’t wish anybody harm; I wish all parties well. I hope these dudes come to an agreement, and if they do and they still want me involved down the road, I’ll be here. But why would they?”

He also said that no money has been spent so far on the show or anything like that, so no one is being displaced at this point.

Hopefully this can be settled soon, and really hopefully, amicably, although it seems the latter is a long shot.


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Tidbits: Z Nation renewed for 4th season; Star Trek: Discovery gets more cast

by on Nov.29, 2016, under Television

Hit Syfy series Z Nation has been renewed for a fourth season! Planned for 13 episodes to air later in 2017, the series follows a group avoid zombies (called “Zs”) while they try to transport the only survivor of a zombie bite, Murphy (Keith Allan) to a research facility to hopefully find a vaccine. Season 3 involved Murphy going independent and forming a community of Blends (humans he infected with his own bite that allowed him to control them but also be immune to the Zs. The series also stars Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls, Anastasia Baranova, Nat Zang and Emilio Rivera.

Star Trek: Discovery casting appears to have shifted into high gear. In addition to the casting of Michelle Yeoh previously announced (although we are now hearing her name is Captain Georgiou), Doug Jones (The Strain, Falling Skies) and Anthony Rapp (Rent, A Beautiful Mind) have joined the cast.

Jones will play Lt. Saru, from a new alien species, who is a science officer for Starfleet, while Rapp will play Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist (a space fungus expert…) on the Discovery.

The lead role, a lieutenant commander on the Discovery simply known as Number One (and speculated to later be the first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike), has yet to be cast.


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Actor Ron Glass, 1945-2016

by on Nov.28, 2016, under Obituaries, Television

This past weekend we were saddened to learn that actor Ron Glass, most well known for his role as Detective Ron Harris on the 70s ABC sitcom Barney Miller, but also as Shepherd Book on Firefly, passed away at the age of 71. His last appearances were in 2014 in episodes of CSI and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

To me, in his roles he always emanated a relaxed, laid back, calming persona. His friends and colleagues remembered him on social media. Firefly creator Joss Whedon said, “He was, among so many other things, my Shepherd. Raise, appropriately, a glass. Rest, Ron.”

“He was the kind of person that remembered the details, that asked about your family’s well-being,” remembered fellow Firefly castmate Jewel Staite. “He hugged hard and often. He would laugh till he cried at a sick joke and top it with a worse one. He loved a Grey Goose crantini and spilled one on my white jeans in the heat of telling a story, and then just said, “Girl, those were ugly pants anyway.” I adored him. Everybody did. I love you, Ron.”

We raise our glasses as well to you, Ron.


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Yes, Michelle Yeoh WILL play a captain in Star Trek: Discovery

by on Nov.26, 2016, under Television

…but not what you were thinking. Deadline reports that as rumored Michelle Yeoh, the martial arts action star from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Tomorrow Never Dies, has been cast as a captain in the upcoming CBS All Access series, Star Trek: Discovery, but NOT as the captain of the Discovery itself. It appears that Yeoh will play Captain Han Bo of the Shenzhou, but will still figure prominently in the first season.

This is the first casting announcement, which is puzzling since the series is set to debut in May, and was already pushed back from January.


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HotShot Trailer: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – “Trust”

by on Nov.26, 2016, under Movies

This is the latest full trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which opens in just three weeks! Here we get to see some more of K-S2O, voiced by Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly)


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STX pushes The Space Between Us out of crowded holiday frame

by on Nov.23, 2016, under Movies

The family-oriented SF film The Space Between Us, originally scheduled to open right against Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th and among a variety of other movies around the same time that threatened to drown it out, will move to February 3rd as production company STX Entertainment saw fit to push the film back a couple months into a less crowded slot to give the film the exposure it might deserve.

The film follows the first human born on Mars (Asa Butterfield, Ender’s Game), who travels to Earth for the first time to experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl (Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland) to discover how he came to be.


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Ron Thornton, pioneer of CGI for television, passed away at 59

by on Nov.22, 2016, under Television

Emmy award winning visual effects artist Ron Thornton, best known for his work on Babylon 5 passed away yesterday at home after a short illness at the age of 59, as confirmed by his colleague Emile Smith on Twitter.

Thornton co-founded Foundation Imaging and pioneered the CGI and visual effects methods started on Babylon 5 using Newtek’s Video Toaster hardware and Lightwave 3D modeling software that allowed such effects to be both realistic and within a television show budget. He won an Emmy in 1993 for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects for the work on the pilot movie, Babylon 5: The Gathering, and had three more nominations. Prior to Babylon 5, he had worked on Spaceballs, Critters, and Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.

After a falling out with the Babylon 5 producers in the third season, he worked on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise and co-created the series Hypernauts.


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Netflix Lost In Space remake finds Dr. Smith in Parker Posey

by on Nov.22, 2016, under Television

The Netflix remake of Lost In Space continues to move forward, although having to wait until 2018 is going to be tough. But this twist in casting is going to make us anxious to see it that much more.

Parker Posey (Party Girl, Superman Returns) has signed on to join the series as none other than Dr. Smith! This gender flip will be interesting to see. The original Dr. Smith was played by Jonathan Harris, and was initially a bad guy who tried to sabotage the mission of the Jupiter 2 but gets caught on board at launch. Early through the first season, he stayed as a conniving saboteur, but eventually softened and became a more comedic leading role thanks to Harris’ acting skills, which changed the whole nature of the show. In the 1998 big screen remake, the character was played by Gary Oldman, as a totally evil character but with touches of the mannerism of Harris’s character as a homage.

A previous attempt by ABC to reboot the show opted to omit the middle child of Penny and instead added an older brother, but it never made it past the pilot stage.

Previously announced cast are Toby Stephens (John Robinson), Taylor Russell (Judy Robinson), Max Jenkins (Will Robinson), and Molly Parker (Maureen Robinson). The characters of Major West and Penny Robinson presumably are yet to be cast. Producers have said that this version will take cues from the original, but beyond that we have little information.


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Dune winds up at Legendary for another attempt

by on Nov.21, 2016, under Movies

We could still see another Dune adaptation…but I’m not holding my breath.

The last attempt we reported on fell apart in 2010 and the rights lapsed in 2011, when it was set up at Paramount. But now with studios not just satisfied with a standalone blockbuster, but in search of the next great franchise, studios look to the extensive library of fantasy and science fiction, and few seems to show such untapped potential as the universe of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Of course, it’s been tried before, and became reality twice so far.

Most of you will remember the 1984 David Lynch effort for Raffaella and Dino DeLaurentiis, which was visually striking but confusing, departed in some ways from the book, and less than compelling acting despite the extensive experienced cast list, bombed at the box office, and was later disavowed by Lynch. An extended version added more explanation as to the history leading up to the plot, but did little to help in the end. Even so, it did achieve a cult status, but cemented the idea of the novels not being possible to translate to film.

In 2000 then Sci-Fi Channel produced a miniseries based on the first book, which did reasonably well enough to warrant a sequel, adapting Dune Messiah and Children of Dune under the latter’s title for a 2003 miniseries. Both were among the top rated miniseries for the network at the time.

So good luck to Legendary on attempting to bring this to the big screen again. I’ll be over here playing with my sandworm…


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