Friday, December 21, 2007

Showdown At Area 51

So the question is, what do you get when you cross Party Of Five's Jeremy London [now known as Jason London] with Farscape's Gigi Edgley? The answer: Bad Science Fiction in the form of your latest Sci Fi Channel movie. Maybe even NO Science in your Fiction movie.

As I stumbled through the house taking care of dishes and other assorted odds and ends I essentially watched Sci Fi Channel's latest doozy of a film, Showdown At Area 51. You're probably saying to yourself, 'damn I missed that one' or 'shoot! I meant to watch that!' or 'huh?'. I'm hear to tell ya, -ya didn't miss much!

I mean, don't get me wrong Gigi is near damn the cutest, hottest, little sex kitten you'll ever see, but she's wasted here. London is always cool enough to watch, but again, there isn't a believable word of dialogue in the 2 hour script.

From the always, spare no expense special effects of Sci Fi Channel's movies and the initial crash landing of the spaceship [at least I think that's what that grey block of CGI was that smoked up the screen in the forest- is that Vancouver again?] to the silly plotlines, Showdown At Area 51 is just plain laughable.

Two aliens go head to head over the Omega Seed [don't ask- it merely drives the plot to this unbearable freakfest] and one scene pays goofy homage to the old Spaghetti Westerns or maybe The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. There's one big clunky, chunky alien that is clearly invincible. It's impervious to a hail of gunfire and rocket launchers. It does yield some nifty effects at times, but it's clear the folks with the guns need a better plan and it never comes. The other alien sports some goofy tattoos that basically let us know- yup! he's an alien. But like just about any Sci Fi Channel film, we never care about the characters and gleefully look forward to their inevitable deaths amidst dodgy special effects and terrible scripting. Then it's on to next week's film...

Clearly Showdown At Area 51 is great, like Alien Lockdown and other assorted Sci Fi cheese is great from our favorite channel. It's great when you are completely wiped out and you have no strength left to get up and leave the room. Perhaps you are so weak you can't even lift your fingers to change the channel. Or it's a train wreck and you can't take your eyes off 'em.

Having said all that, I love the channel for giving us some of the best in Sci Fi. Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who and SG-1 are simply amazing and Atlantis just keeps getting bigger, badder and better.
Hey look there in the water, it's Don S. Davis and Paul McGillion from SG-1 and Atlantis and they're in the latest movie, Beyond Loch Ness [Jan 5, 2008].
Folks, remember that old loch ness photo, yeah don't hold your breath and don't expect much with the movie either, but I'll be watching. I've always wanted to see the Loch Ness in bad CGI. I'll even try and get a photo of it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

She Sells Sanctuary

... and I'm not talking about the hit single by The Cult [I always liked Edie].

This is the latest smokin' hot side project by Stargate SG-1 alumnus and busy bee actress for its latest incarnation, Stargate Atlantis, Amanda Tapping. She's back trying her hand at the latest ground-breaking endeavor- on-line television. Yes, TV made just for the internet. And Yes, she looks fabulous yet again!
WOW! Amanda Tapping in full on brunette. She's sellin' it and bringin' it for the internet-based only series dubbed Sanctuary!



This tasty little sci-fi refuge is an internet only series of 8 high definition webisodes that I've taken the pleasure to download.
http://www.sanctuaryforall.com/home.php

If you're a fan of the always sexy, always strong Amanda Tapping and you like a healthier dose of monster interplay [not found in her stint as Major Samantha Carter in Stargate SG-1] bursting from your screen then Sanctuary may just be what the doctor ordered. For a small price [roughly 17 dollars] you can download this splendid series drenched in breathtaking backgrounds almost entirely created via green screen on computer. It creeps in with a deliciously terrific little Mid-Eastern theme score by Ian Browne. The show is brought to life by solid direction and a fine cast. Tapping plays the eternally youthful Dr. Helen Magnus, an immortal monster hunter if you will.

video

At the helm is Stargate SG-1's Damian Kindler. His involvement as executive producer assured you a whole assortment of guest appearances including Stargate Atlantis' own David Hewlett, Paul McGillion, Christopher Heyerdahl and Kavan Smith. Michael Adamthwaite [Herak] of SG-1 acclaim also figures into the proceedings. Additional surprises include a role for SG-1 Director Peter Deluise and Leah Cairns of Battlestar Galactica. It succeeds with great writing and a surefire cast of talents from the streets of Vancouver. If that wasn't good enough longtime journeyman SG-1 Director Martin Wood lends his extraordinary skill behind the camera and pen co-writing alongside Kindler.

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What you can expect is a show that's completely refreshing. It's entirely unique. The supernatural elements are reminiscent of X-Files meets Jack The Ripper, but it's wildly special in its execution and its visual style. There's humor, drama, action, monsters and rain, lots of CGI rain. It's always raining. Tapping is a delight and will blow you away! Her English accent and acting chops truly shine [yet again]. She's unrecognizable from her most famous character of over a decade. She's also equally sexy as drenched in black Magnus. Hot black leather and tights and blond partner Ashley also in accompanying sex kitten leather hot pants never hurts. She works with a team that even includes a man-servant/ back up buddy who just happens to be Bigfoot [anyone remember Bigfoot And Wild Boy?] and a CGI amphibian-like creation. This is a top flight, if small scale, operation and its easy to see the huge potential conceptually regarding exactly where Sanctuary could go. This is impressive stuff on what is clearly an extremely tight, little budget no doubt. With a bit more financial backing the folks over at Sanctuary really could have something here. I have to believe Sanctuary is sure to reach television. It's a great concept. If it doesn't I hope the creators take the time to get back to the webisodes. The eight created thus far leave you on the ultimate cliffhanger of cliffhanger even after seeing Bigfoot, Ashley and Magnus open up a might can of whoop ass! I cannot bear to see Bigfoot and Magnus left this way. I won't spoil it you'll need to see for yourself.

[The following clip does not contain spoilers!]

video

So look out creatures of the night! The question is, will the one selling Sanctuary be your executioner or savior?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Starlog Back Issues BURNED

About a year ago I jot down all of the Starlog back issues that I wanted to buy that had stories pertaining to some of my favorite science fiction shows. I ended up purchasing quite a few including some of my favorite series like SG-1, Atlantis and Farscape to name a few. I recently wrote about my disappointment with Starlog in never featuring a Stargate Cover Story. See previous post. Anyway, I was actually kind of shocked to read about the company's misfortune regarding their entire inventory of back issues.

This from their website in edited form:

"On Dec. 5th, a warehouse fire in Oregon, IL destroyed the Starlog Group's extensive back issue holdings. STARLOG and FANGORIA Magazines' entire line of back issues, as well as"Best Of" collections, discontinued publications, STAR TREK and other movie tie-ins were burned or water damaged by the blaze. It's believed the massive fire was started when a forklift driver in the warehouse punctured a gas line, which was close to a space heater. Over 100 fire fighters from 20 different companies were needed to bring the conflagration under control. Apparently, the warehouse's sprinkler system was not functioning, which is being investigated by the fire marshals. Total damages are currently estimated at 8 million dollars. Starlog will not be able to supply the majority of these back issues as listed in the magazine and Starlog.com store. A few recent issues may be on hand, but it will take some time to be clear what may remain.

Many of these magazines, pieces of the company's thirty year history,will now only exist in the hand of collectors."

How do I like my collection now? WOW! I was completely stunned and I'm glad no one was hurt, but I can't imagine losing that kind of inventory. A sad day at Starlog indeed. To think I could have missed obtaining this great collection from one of my favorite publishers. It'll be interesting to see how this affects the value of our Starlog collections.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stepping Through The Stargate

Folks. When I'm not busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off over family or work I like to read a good textbook full of geekspeak. This is essentially a book review. Some of you may have checked out Finding Serenity by Jane Espenson, a beautiful book based upon the Firefly verse [that review for another day] published by Benbella. This one, also by Benbella, is Stepping Through The Stargate: Science, Archaeology and the Military in Stargate SG-1, a collection of essays edited by P.N. Elrod and Roxanne Conrad. It's not entirely cohesive from start to finish, but it's a load of fun on the whole.


Back when I first launched this blog I mentioned comparing Star Trek to Stargate and I'm going to take the opportunity to highlight one of the articles in this book that hilariously compares the two. The piece, Stargate Trek, is by by none other than sci-fi writer David Gerrold the man behind Star Trek's 1967 episode The Trouble With Tribbles. His observations are spot on and he should know. Gerrold puts it like this, "when you talk about science fiction on television, there's Star Trek- and then there's everything else. And that's unfortunate because a lot of the 'everything else' is pretty damn good- oftentimes even better than Star Trek. Case in point: Stargate SG-1". I'm not arguing because Gerrold should know. To be clear, I'm a bigger fan of Stargate SG-1, but I love the Star Trek universe almost as much. It's just a far less rabid, obsessive kind of addiction. Gerrold goes on to look at how closely tied the two programs are as sci-fi formulas go, in many ways identical, but points out distinct differences that make the shows unique pointing to SG-1's success in breaking away from the pack of the 'everything else' in establishing its own mythos and cannon.

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Similiarities

  • both have a homebase [SGC/ the Enterprise]
  • both have independent, sometimes anti-establishment styled heroes [O'Neill/ Kirk]
  • stoic unemotional aliens [Teal'c/ Spock]
  • beautiful female members with great cheekbones, chests and brains [Carter/ Uhura]
  • authority can be disregarded
  • team is family, everybody else isn't [other SGC teams/ most 'red shirts']
  • aliens speak English [or stilted English]

Differences

  • Star Trek takes itself too seriously [even the jokes are important]/ Stargate SG-1 is self-mocking [these people are real and likeable]
  • Star Trek has to only solve a problem once/ Stargate SG-1 never seems to quite solve the problem [ie Replicators]
  • Star Trek technology is fabulously inexplicable/ Stargate SG-1's is rooted in attempted explanations

Now I'm offering you the condensed digest version. You really need to read the article for all the dirty details and it's a bang up piece. There's plenty I've left out. But the crux of it being if Star Trek wrote the formula so many programs aspire to be, Stargate SG-1 has transcended that formula to create its own identity. Stargate SG-1 may be the first to child to step out from its parents' shadows. Where there was one franchise now there are two.


The articles in Stepping Through The Stargate [the best ones are in BOLD]:

  1. Highly Top Secret [on the alien technology and weaponry of Stargate SG-1]
  2. Stargate Trek [Star Trek vs Stargate]
  3. Through The Apple [fun with physics and wormholes]
  4. Yasureyabetcha: S-F Speak That Doesn't Make You Wince [the humor of one Jack O'Neill aka RDA]
  5. Exploring The Archaeology Of Stargate SG-1: From Childhood Westerns To Interstellar Imagination [Stargate as the vehicle for classic entertainment and education]
  6. Artificial Intelligence And Genuine Stupidity [clever stuff]
  7. Help! The Aliens Have Landed And Taken Over My Brain [an analysis of the Goa'uld]
  8. Time Travel For Beginners [serious Astrophysics geekspeak]
  9. We Need You Back [the concept of bringing back characters to drive a series in this case Jack O'Neill]
  10. Spin The Gate [Sex in and through the orifice that is the Stargate]
  11. Where Am I? [a philosophical analysis via episodes Tin Man and Double Jeopardy]
  12. I Think He's Called Homer [referencing Beneath The Surface - analyzes homage within the SG-1 verse]
  13. Stargate: The Final Frontier? [more astrophysics as well as inconsistencies within the SG-1 verse]
  14. When In Rome, Don't Wear That [fashion faux pas within the SG-1 verse by character and race]
  15. I'm Not An Archetype But I Play One On TV [heady archetype analysis on the four main characters
  16. Fear And Loathing On Cimmeria [an analysis of Thor's Hammer via Norse mythology]
  17. A Season Of Stargate [a production diary by Visual Effects Producer extraordinaire James Tichenor]
  18. The Villians I Love To Hate [a humorous play by play on the plethora of baddies from SG-1]
  19. Creativity, Continuity And The Modern Licensed Comic Book [fascinating analysis on SG-1 comics]
  20. Jack's Brain: What Were The Asgard Thinking [... so why exactly did The Asgard choose O'Neill anyway?]
  21. Vacuum Tubes And Intergalactic Portals [insights from a retired, female, Air Force Colonel]
  22. Ruminations From A Rat Bastard [Tom McBeath, aka Colonel Maybourne himself, reflects on SG-1]
The book entertainingly breaks down a phenomenal series with a massive mythology. It mostly succeeds taken as a whole and it's a fun ride. This is clearly for the Gatecon set.

The book is well worth seeking out and Amazon may be your best shot. Good luck cowboys!