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This is a great article revisiting Stephen King’s final three Dark Tower novels.  I absolutely adore these books, and I am not at all in the camp of Dark Tower fans unsatisfied with the ending of Mr. King’s magnum opus.  I spent quite a while reading and writing about the Dark Tower series a few years ago.  Feel free to follow these links to revisit the journey with me: Entering The Dark Tower — The Dark Tower Book I: The Gunslinger – The Dark Tower Book II: The Drawing of the Three – The Dark Tower Book III: The Waste Lands — The Dark Tower Book IV: Wizard and Glass — The Dark Tower Book V: Wolves of the Calla — The Dark Tower Book VI: Song of Susannah — The Dark Tower Book VII: The Dark Tower — Return to the Dark Tower — The Little Sisters of EluriaMarvel Comics’ Adaptation of The GunslingerThe Wind Through The Keyhole.

If you, like me, are starting to get very sad about the impending end of Parks and Recreation, then it’s time to fall down the rabbit hole of this epic Twitter exchange of great Parks & Recs clips between Alan Sepinwall & Linda Holmes.  Here’s just a tiny taste:

Oh my god I am going to miss that show.

Holy cow: a Wet Hot American Summer sequel is happening — with all of the original cast — as an eight-episode Netflix series???  That is bonkers!!

This is a terrific article about the central “text” of Star Trek, and the challenges that must be conquered in terms of making future good Star Trek stories, on the big-screen or (hope hope hope) back on TV.  I don’t agree with all of his points, but this piece was written by someone who gets and loves Trek, and I think he has the right idea.

Speaking of Trek, I sure wasted a lot of time watching these old trailers!

We just recently passed the tenth anniversary of the airing of the pilot episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, “33.”  Wow.  I remember watching that when it aired.  (I also watched the mini-series when that aired, about a year-and-a-half before the series kicked off in the States.)  I can’t believe it was that long ago!!  Here is a great, in-depth look back at the greatness of that pilot, and here is a nice Q & A from show-runner Ronald D. Moore.

This is a great list of twelve Simpsons characters who actually evolved.

This concept art for an Alien sequel, developed by Neill Blomkamp, is ludicrously tantalizing.  Ripley and Hicks together again??  … [continued]

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News Around the Net

Bill Watterson drew the poster for an international cartoonists’ festival, and it is awesome.

I’ve been really enjoying Kumail Nanjiani’s podcast The X-Files Files.  In each episode, Mr. Nanjiani and a guest host analyze two episodes of The X-Files, working their way through the series in order, starting from the very beginning of the show.  I’ve only listened to a few episodes, but they’ve all been great.  I started with this one, in which Mr. Nanjiani and Devin Faraci from badassdigest.com discuss the two-parter that began season 3, “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip.”  One of my favorite episodes is the very first podcast, also co-starring Mr. Faraci, in which the two discuss the first two episodes but also share their feelings on the whole series over-all.  My favorite part is their hilarious discussion of the dreadful second X-Files movie.  (Here are my thoughts after seeing that flick, if you’re interested.)  This is a great podcast, I am hooked!

I need to carve out some time to watch this: A recreation of The Empire Strikes Back made by over 500 individual fan-made versions of every shot from the film.  Sounds crazy!

This is awesome: what if famous album covers were just a small part of a much larger picture?  So funny and so clever.

So last month Marvel Comics killed off Wolverine.  Yeah, that’s gonna last.  But in the meanwhile, in honor of his “death,” enjoy this hilarious illustrated summary of Wolvie’s convoluted back-story.

Here’s a trailer for Jurassic World:

That’s a pretty solid trailer.  I love the use of the classic John Williams theme on piano at the end of the trailer.  The visuals are certainly gorgeous, and Chris Pratt is a great choice to anchor the adventure.  I don’t love what we glimpse here of the “hybrid dinosaur” angle.  One flaw of the original Jurassic Park sequels was the need to keep coming up with new and different dinosaurs.  The third film tried to use the Spinosaurus as their bad bad dinosaur and it didn’t work at all.  I hope this hybrid idea doesn’t come off as silly.

I like this nostalgia-based trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

This is a nice attempt to place this final film within the context of the epic story woven by the previous five.  It remains to see if the film delivers on that promise, but there are worse ways to market the new film than showing some of the best moments from the previous ones.

I’m not sure I believe that Blade Runner 2 will ever happen, nor do I think it’s a great idea.  Of course I’m … [continued]

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This is fantastic: Tom Hiddleston (who played Loki in both Thor movies and The Avengers) doing a phneomenal impression of Owen Wilson, had Owen been cast as Loki.  Check this out.

West Wing fans!  Did you see this clip of Allison Janney performing The Jackal on The Arsenio Hall Show?  This is an obscure reference, but one that any die-hard West Wing fan will appreciate:

This blog from Kevin Smith gives an intriguing update on his fast-developed, absolutely bonkers weird-sounding new movie, Tusk.  Click here for even more info.  Despite being an enormous fan of Kevin Smith, I still haven’t seen Red State.  I want to see it, for sure, since I can’t imagine not having seen one of Mr. Smith’s films, but it just doesn’t interest me that much.  So far, I am bummed to say that Tusk is trending the same way, but it’s such a loony concept that I am intrigued.  It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

This is a great short little retrospective of Jim Henson’s life and work.  I very much want to read Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson, it sounds like a really fascinating book.

OK, this is a very geeky link, but I loved this.  An enterprising photoshopper has created images showing how awesome the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast would have looked in Original Series uniforms.  So great.

There are a lot of stories cropping up about behind-the-scenes issues on the pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII.  Seems Disney is pushing for that 2015 release date, come hell or high water.  More info here.  I hope it’s all just talk.  I don’t have much hope that I will ever again in my lifetime see a great Star Wars film, but that little ember of hope does still exist, deep inside me.  Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe!

Chris Claremont is, I would argue, single-handedly responsible for the incredible popularity of the X-Men today.  Mr. Claremont wrote The Uncanny X-Men comic book, and a truck-load of spinoffs and mini-series and annuals and other special events, for a jaw-dropping seventeen years, from the ’70s into the ’90s.  (In one of the great injustices of the medium’s history, he was sort of pushed off of the series when his work began to be overshadowed by the popularity of the superstar artists working at Marvel in those days.)  A new documentary about his career — focusing on that incredible seventeen year run on the X-Men — has just been released, and I am dying to see it.  This is a fantastic article about a recent screening of the film, followed by a Q & A [continued]

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At last!  Our first glimpse at footage from Game of Thrones season three!

This is a very funny article: Six Horrible Aftermaths Implied by Movies with Happy Endings.

Here is a terrific, in-depth interview with the show-runner of the phenomenal Parks and Recreation, Mike Schur.  It’s no coincidence that the first half-hour of last week’s Parks and Rec double-episode felt like it could have been a series finale — that’s because it was designed to have served as such, had NBC not ordered nine additional episodes for this season.

Kristen Wiig will be appearing in the new episodes of Arrested Development??  And she is playing a young version of Lucille Bluth?  Brilliant!!

I just wrote about Layer Cake the other day, and I am excited that Matthew Vaughn — who also directed Kick Ass (click here for my review) and X-Men: First Class (click here for my review) — in addition to producing the next X-Men film (the adaptation of the seminal Days of Future Past that will be directed by Bryan Singer, returning at last to the franchise he began) has also signed on to produce Fox’s upcoming Fantastic Four film (which will thankfully be a total reboot, scrapping the two lame films directed by Tim Story).  I love that crazy comic book writer Mark Millar (who wrote the comic book Kick Ass, which Mr. Vaughn directed as a film) will be overseeing Fox’s upcoming super-hero films (X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc.) and I really love that his frequent collaborator Mr. Vaughn also seems to be stepping into a larger supervisory role.  It’s obvious that Fox is attempting to shamelessly imitate the success of Marvel Studio’s crossover Avengers film, but if it results in more great super-hero films for us, then I have no problem with that!

Speaking of Bryan Singer’s upcoming X-Men film, Days of Future Past, I really hope he’s serious about fixing what Brett Ratner did to the franchise in the catastrophically disappointing X3.  If they’re playing around with time-travel and alternate timelines, this is a golden opportunity to at long-last course-correct this franchise back to what worked in the first two X-Men films.  I home Mr. Singer can pull it off.

Sticking with super-hero movie news for a second, this is an interesting comparison of the Spidey-Suit in this past summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man and the far superior, re-designed look for the sequel.  (And I agree with the author of that post — MY cooler of haterade for Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man ALSO runs deep!  Here’s hoping the sequel is better.)

And here is an AWESOME look at Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3!  I … [continued]

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Josh Returns to Battlestar Galactica with the Unrated Blu-Ray: Blood & Chrome

February 21st, 2013
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I thought I was long-since finished with the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica but now, three years after the end of the series, comes one final Battlestar Galactica adventure: the direct-to-disc blu-ray of Blood & Chrome.  

A quick history:  I fell head over heels in love with Ronald D. Moore’s reimagined Battlestar Galactica when I first saw the miniseries back in 2003.  I had no interest in the original 1970’s Galactica, but I watched the mini-series because Mr. Moore was a writer whose work I had loved on Star Trek: The Next Generation and especially on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the greatest of the Trek series (and, in many ways, a precursor to many of the ideas, themes, and storytelling devices Mr. Moore would use to such great effect on Galactica).  For a few years there, I felt that Battlestar Galactica was the greatest show on television, and even though I didn’t totally love the show’s final season in 2008-09, I still feel that the show is certainly one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made, and also one of the best TV shows, of ANY genre, of recent memory.  Despite my love for Galactica, I actually didn’t watch the prequel spin-off, Caprica.  (I saw the show’s pilot and it didn’t grab me, and while the DVDs have been sitting on my shelf for two years now, I have not yet watched them.)  I did very much enjoy the post-series direct-to-DVD movie, The Plan (released in 2010) that went back through the series, showing things from the Cylons’ point of view.

Not long after the release of The Plan came the announcement of Blood & Chrome, another prequel series but, unlike Caprica which was set before the creation of the Cylons, this would be set right smack dab in the middle of the first Cylon War and center on a young William Adama (who, played by Edward James Olmos, was of course the centerpiece of the main Galactica series).  Blood & Chrome has had a crazily complicated history.  First it was going to be a video game, then it was announced it would be a web-series, then it was going to be a TV movie and a pilot for a potential new TV series and then… nothing!  It vanished for two years until the Sy-Fy channel quietly dumped it on the web a few months ago, and scheduled a quick release on DVD and blu-ray.  (You can read more about Blood & Chrome’s tortured path to release here.)

All of this would lead one to suspect that this spin-off is an embarrassment, a failure.  Well, I have no idea what the heck the folks at Sy-Fy were thinking … [continued]

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Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome set to premiere THIS FRIDAY!

November 5th, 2012

First announced way back in 2010, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome will finally launch THIS FRIDAY according to a just-released announcement!

This story, set during the first Cylon War, looks to be the final adventure set in the world of Ronald D. Moore’s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Written by Michael Taylor (who worked with Ronald D. Moore on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine before becoming a key writer and executive producer of Battlestar Galactica and Caprica), Blood and Chrome was originally announced as a web-series, then it was going to air all together on TV as a pilot for a potential new BSG spin-off series, then it seemed to be dead, and now it is being released in the format in which it was originally conceived — as a multi-part web-series.  But unless something dramatic changes, the Syfy channel has nixed the possibility of future adventures, once all the parts of Blood and Chrome are released (over the next four weeks).

Why this spin-off of the critically acclaimed and wildly successful Battlestar Galactica has been kept on the shelf for years, before being dumped with almost no advance warning onto some never-before heard-of youtube channel is beyond me.  (It doesn’t bode well for this web-series being very good, but then again, TV executives have certainly been wrong before.)

Oh well.  Here’s hoping this final dip into the BSG pool is a good one.

Keep your eye on this space for the Blood and Chrome webisodes.… [continued]

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In response to this summer’s lousy Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man (click here for my review), comes this great article on 10 Remakes that Got it Right.  There are some really intriguing films on this list that I have never seen, but have been immediately placed on my “to-watch” list…

It’s old news by now, but I haven’t yet waxed poetic on this site about how excited I am that Peter Jackson has expanded his adaptation of The Hobbit from two films to a trilogy!  Very exciting.  The hints of obscure bits of story from the Lord of the Rings appendices that Mr. Jackson is going to be filming in order to flesh out the story are even more exciting still.  The battle of Dol Goldur??  Awesome!!

The new X-Men film is going to be Days of Future Past??? That’s hugely exciting, but also very worrisome.  Days of Future Past is one of the greatest X-Men stories (heck, one of the greatest comic book stories) of all time.  The idea of that being adapted into a film is extraordinary!!  Bravo to Bryan Singer and xx on taking on this iconic story.  But the thought of a BAD version of Days of Future Past would be horrifying.  I was burned by X3′s brutalization of the Dark Phoenix Saga (probably THE greatest X-Men story of all time), and that’s a pain not easily forgotten… I am crossing my fingers and toes about this one…

Speaking of Bryan Singer, why the heck is he still developing a Battlestar Galactica movie?  Do we really need another version of Galactica, after Ron Moore’s fabulous TV series…?  The only place to go is down…

I am excited to see DC’s upcoming animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal “Last Batman Story” The Dark Knight Returns. (DKR was a strong source of material for Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, as I noted in my review.)  However, this first trailer leaves me underwhelmed in the extreme.  This trailer should have been slow, spooky, and reverent, selling us on a world that had moved on without Batman.  Instead, it seems to be selling a zippy animated adventure.  I hope this doesn’t reflect the tone of the finished product.

In happier news — Larry David, Dave Mandel, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer (key players on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul) are working together on a new movie for HBO?  Can’t wait!!… [continued]

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Have you heard that they’re making new Looney Tunes cartoons to show theatrically?  Check out this glimpse of the first new Road Runner cartoon in far too many years:

Battlestar Galactica lives on!  Rumors are that SyFy are working on an on-line BSG spin-off, tentatively titled “Blood and Chrome” that would depict a young Bill Adama during the first Cylon War.  I LOVED the glimpse at a young “Husker” Adama that we got in Razor, and would LOVE to see more.  I hope this comes to pass!

I’ve been reading for years about the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow film series, in which famous films are screened in a location connected in some way with the film.  It’s always sounded like a cool idea, and these special posters for the upcoming tour are just phenomenal.  I love movie posters, and these are about the coolest posters I’ve seen in a long, long while.

If there’s one sliver of a silver lining from MGM’s financial woes forcing Guillermo del Toro to leave the in-development Hobbit films, its the announcement that he’ll next be directing an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness, a project that del Toro has been talking about for years.  Should be awesome.

As readers of the site are probably well aware, I am one of the few people on Earth who unabashedly loved Superman Returns.  So I wholeheartedly second this plea from CHUD that Brandon Routh be allowed to reprise his role as Clark Kent/Superman in the next Superman film.  I thought Routh was pretty much perfect, and I would be thrilled to see him continue.

Speaking of superheroes, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the official announcement of The Avengers‘ cast and line-up at Comic-Con last weekHere are some more details from the panel.  Pretty astounding cast, if you ask me, and I think Joss Whedon is a perfect choice as director.  Now please please please don’t screw this up, gang!!

Here are some fascinating reports from the Thor panel & footage from Comic-Con, as well as the Captain America panel.  I cannot wait to see some actual footage from these two films.  I really hope Marvel is able to pull these movies off.

Behold The Infinity Gauntlet!!  Awesome.

OK, enough Marvel, let’s talk DC!  I was very underwhelmed by our first look at Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, but I love this peek at Sinestro.

Lost‘s Damon Lindeloff is re-writing the Alien prequel that Ridley Scott is directing? Pretty cool.

If they ever actually make another Judge Dredd movie, I love the idea of Karl Urban under the helmet.

Some interesting TV [continued]

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Let the Best of 2009 lists continue!  I hope you all enjoyed my list of the Top 10 TV Episodes of 2009.

Now let’s dive into my list of the Top 10 DVDs (or Blu-Rays) released in 2009!

First, I’d like to give Honorable Mentions to the complete series sets of three amazing TV shows that I had just about given up all hope of ever seeing on DVD: It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Andy Barker, P.I. So why aren’t these shows on my list?  Because I can’t put anything on this list that I haven’t actually watched, and I’ve been way, way too busy to get through any of these sets.  Of the three, the only one I own is Andy Richter Controls the Universe.  (That one came out first, and I’m not going to purchase the other two sets until I actually have time to watch them.)  But I take great delight in knowing that these three DVD sets exist here on planet Earth, and I know that I’ll get to them all in good time.

10. Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut (Blu-ray) — I’ve seen Watchmen quite a few times since it was released early in 2009, and while the film certainly has some weaknesses, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of its successes.  It’s hard to believe that Zach Snyder brought this seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, which long had been considered unadaptable, to life.  It thrills me to see such a faithful take on the material and that the filmmakers had the confidence to craft a super-hero film that was aimed squarely at adults.  The Ultimate Cut of the film is Zach Snyder’s longest version, stitching together his Director’s Cut with the animated Tales of the Black Freighter sequences.  It’s pretty astounding.  This Blu-Ray set would be much higher on this list were it not for the paltry special features.  Not only are the special features lame (this is a movie that cries out for a full-fledged making-of documentary), but this set just reproduces the special features that were already released on the Director’s Cut set.  (I guess I’ve been spoiled by the amazing extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films, which came not just with phenomenal extended versions of the films but with extraordinarily elaborate making-of documentaries that didn’t duplicate the special features on the theatrical version DVDs.)  (Read my review of the theatrical version of Watchmen here, and of the Director’s Cut here.)

9. Contact (Blu-Ray) — A beautiful film that manages to combine a serious, cerebral sci-fi tale with an effecting story of the personal journey … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

I followed a link the other day to the 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of ’80s Cartoons.  Pretty funny stuff there.  I’d also like to direct your attention to this list of the 10 Star Wars Toys that Unintentionally Look Like Other Celebrities.  (It’s worth your while if only so that you, too, can be stunned by the resemblance of General Riekaan — from The Empire Strikes Back — to Senator John Kerry!!)

I’ve just discovered a phenomenal web-comic called Let’s Be Friends Again.  It’s mostly about comic books.  I love it to death, and it’s well worth your precious time, so check it out.

Have you seen this ten-minute fan-made live-action G.I. Joe film, Battle For the Serpent Stone?  I’m a big proponent of fan-films, and this one is of pretty high quality.  It’s quite an achievement — take a look.

Here’s a link to an terrific interview with IDW Comics editor Scott Dunbier, discussing his work in putting out the gorgeous new hardcover Bloom County: The Complete Library, Volume One (1980-1982), the first of five books that will collect every single strip (many of which have never before been collected) of Berkeley Breathed’s masterpiece comic strip.  I lust after this collection, and very much hope that Mr. Dunbier is able to move forward with collections of Outland and Opus as well.

This is a great story about an annoying movie theatre patron.  I wish there was a theatre like The Alamo Drafthouse here in Boston, because I would be more than happy to spend an enormous amount of money watching movies there and nowhere else.  I am sick to death of having my enjoyment of a movie interrupted by some jackass talking, texting, or some other such nonsense.

Harvard University is offering a class on The Wire??? Sign me up!!

I never believed it would happen, but filming on the two-film adaptation of The Hobbit is coming closer and closer to getting underway.  Click here for an interesting interview with director Guillermo del Toro with some updates on how things are progressing.

Despite my renewed appreciation for the final run of episodes of Battlestar Galactica, this hilarious evisceration of the plot points in the last 45 minutes of the finale is impossible to argue with.

Here’s a terrific list of one fellow’s Top 15 Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.  It’s an interesting list.  I absolutely adore episodes such as “Over The Edge,” “Mad Love,” “Robin’s Reckoning,” and “Heart of Ice,” and I was also pleased to see some lesser-known gems like “The Ultimate Thrill” and “Growing Pains” make the cut.  (However, while “If You’re So Smart, Why … [continued]

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And They Have a Plan!

November 4th, 2009
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As with Monday’s post, today’s blog contains SPOILERS for many plot twists of the spectacular Battlestar Galactica series, so be warned!  If you haven’t seen the series (or if you’re in the midst of watching it on DVD but haven’t made it to the end yet), then I hope you enjoy today’s hi-LARious Inglourious Basterds cartoon, and then c’mon back on Friday for my review of The Invention of Lying.

OK, all the rest of you BSG fans still with me?  Then let’s dive in.

Starting with the very first episode of the first season, “33,” each installment of BSG (for the first few years) began with the words (say ’em with me now):

The Cylons were created by man.  They rebelled.  They evolved.  They look and feel human,  Some are programmed to think they are human.  There are many copies.  And they have a plan.

It was that last line, “and they have a plan,” that was the most intriguing to me — and, ultimately, the most frustrating.  Throughout the early episodes of the show we watched our heroes in the ragtag fleet attempting to flee their destroyed worlds, all the while being dogged by Cylon attack forces as well as various Cylon agents within the fleet.  The bold declaration that “they have a plan” implied that there was more going on than we knew — a larger, over-arching goal towards which the Cylons were working (beyond, apparently, the simple extermination of humanity).  The glimpses we got of the Cylons (mostly through the adventures of Helo, trapped with an Eight on “Cylon-Occupied Caprica”) furthered this notion.

But as the series progressed, and we began to spend more time with the Cylon characters and get to know their histories and the distinct personalities of the different models (and sometimes the differences between Cylons of the same model number), it started to seem that there was no larger plan to speak of.  By the time we got to the New Caprica arc (the high-point of the show, in my mind), it seemed that the Cylons were just as confused and uncertain as the humans.  This provided for fascinating storytelling and the bringing of commendable depth to the “villain” characters, but it also seemed to me to be in contradiction to the bold, declarative statement that “they have a plan.”

While I have complaints about the final season of the show (click here for my thoughts on the finale), one of the plot developments that I most enjoyed was the development of Cavill, played so menacingly by the great Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap).  As the back-story of the Final Five Cylons was (confusingly) played out, we learned … [continued]

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A Reconsideration of Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5

November 2nd, 2009

Please note:  there are SPOILERS AHEAD, so anyone who has not yet watched the final season of Battlestar Galactica should enjoy today’s cartoon, perhaps take in an archived blog or two (might I suggest my look back at the films of David Mamet?) and then head on their way.  Got that?

Ok, onward!

After watching the series finale of BSG back in March, I wrote at length about my over-all love for the series, as well as some of the dissatisfaction I felt about the finale and the final run of episodes.  Here’s an excerpt:

I think any lingering dissatisfaction that I feel rests not with the finale, which (nit-picks aside) was really a magnificent episode, and more with some of the storytelling decisions made during the course of this last season.  Ever since Kara’s “death” (and I guess now I should remove those quotation marks, huh?) towards the end of season 3, the show became much more about the various mysteries that were being presented than it ever had been before.  Questions such as what happened to Kara, what was her destiny, who was her guide, how did she survive… who was the final Cylon… what was the nature of the final five, how could they be Cylons, what was their history… what, in fact, does it mean to be a “Cylon”… who was Daniel, and what, if any, connection did he have to Starbuck… what really happened back on Earth, and on Kobol, 2-3,000 years ago…???  Etc etc etc.  For most of its first three seasons, BSG wasn’t really a show about mysteries (the way Lost is), but I felt that these questions came to dominate the show during its final year.  I would have appreciated it had more of them been answered, in more substantial ways, before we even got to the finale.

With the release of this final batch of episodes (labeled Battlestar Galactica season 4.5) on DVD, I was excited to take another look at the end of the show.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, I love having an opportunity to take in a movie or TV show a second time, so that I can watch it free of any expectations I might have had about what I thought it would be or HOPED it would be, and just enjoy it for what it IS.

So it was that, first of all, in re-watching these final 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica I was reminded (all niggling over certain plot points aside) what a spectacular creation this show was, and how phenomenally well-made every single episode was.  There is extraordinary drama to be found in these final episodes.  I couldn’t possibly list … [continued]

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Love that photograph.  (I first saw it here.)

My friend Andy recently pointed me in the direction of a terrific web-comic called XKCD.  It’s a self-described web-comic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”  My buddies who work in the computer world picked this comic as their favorite.

Here’s an interesting article that compares various shows’ original pilot episodes with what actually made it to air.  I was particularly intrigued since I recently saw Joss Whedon’s original, unaired pilot for Dollhouse that was rejected by FOX (it was a special feature on the season one DVD set), which Steph and I agreed was FAR superior to the pilot that aired (and, frankly, superior to ANY episode that actually aired during the first season!!  The two episodes that FOX never aired, that pilot and the epilogue episode Epitah One, were far far better than any of the 12 episodes that were actually broadcast.  But that’s a blog for another time…)

Here‘s an interesting list of one fella’s thoughts on the 10 best series of the 21st century so far (2000-present).  Some interesting choices there.  Love his description of season 1 of Battlestar Galactica (though beware a spoiler for that season’s shocking finish if you’ve never seen it!).

Click here for an absolutely fascinating, lengthy look into Spike Jonze’s almost decade-long effort to bring Where The Wild Things Are to the big screen, from the New York Times.  I cannot wait to see what he has created.

There’s a really intriguing new trailer out there for Up in the Air, the new film from director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) and starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, Danny McBride, and Zach Galifianakis that looks spectacular.

Last year I wrote a piece that I called My Farewell to Heroes, in which I vowed to stop watching that incredibly disappointing show.  Luckily (judging by the consistently terrible reviews that the third season of the show got) I was able to stick to my vow.  Life is just to short to watch shitty TV.   Anyways, there’s an amusing review of the third season DVD set up at DVDactive.com (a terrific DVD/Blu-Ray site) by someone who shares my disdain for the show.  Worth a read.

I’ve breen pretty down on the movies of summer 2009.  My feeling has been that this was one of the more disappointing summers in recent memory.  But a recent article by Devin Farici over at Chud, listing his 10 best movies of summer 2009 just might cause me to change my tune.  I haven’t yet seen Moon, Away We Go, or World’s Greatest Dad (missed ’em in theatres, but … [continued]

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More Goodness From Comic-Con!

Battlestar Galactica vets Hamie Bamber (Lee Apollo) and Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) will be together again on the season 2 premiere of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse! Click here for more details.

Speaking of Dollhouse, any interview with Mr. Whedon is always worth a look, and this piece contains some tantalizing glimpses at the unaired Dollhouse episode “Epitah 1” (which screened at Comic-Con and sounds super-cool) as well as hints at a sequel to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (one of my favoritest things ever)!!

So wow, Capone over at AICN has a report from Peter Jackson covering about 10,000 upcoming projects, all of them enormously exciting!!  Click here to get an update on The Hobbit, District 9, The Lovely Bones, Tintin, and more!

The Sci-Fi channel (urg, I really don’t want to call it Sy-Fy) has posted video from all of its Comic-Con panels.  Perhaps, like me, you couldn’t care less to watch video of people talking about Stargate: Universe — but be sure to check out the full hour-long panel about Battlestar Galactica: The Plan and Caprica!

Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill will be lending their vocal talents to The Simpsons?  Awesome!  Here’s some additional info that came to light at Comic-Con on the season’s upcoming 20th (20 years!  Unbelievable!!) season.

I am disappointed, but not terribly surprised, to read that Kevin Smith might have to change the title of his upcoming buddy cop movie (starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan), A Couple of Dicks.

By all accounts, the Iron Man 2 panel was pretty awesome.  (Click here for a description.)  Why can’t some of this footage be found on-line??  Grrr.  But here’s another interesting tidbit of Marvel movie news: some hints about the line-up for the upcoming Avengers movie!  Some interesting choices.  I really hope that they use Millar/Hitch’s magnificent Ultimates series (which I reviewed here) as the basis for this film.

Since Comic-Con is also a place for news about, you know, comics, I’ll close with a piece of comic-book news that should get any true comic fan very excited:  Planetary #27 is finally being released in October!!!  Can it possibly live-up to the hype generated by the years-long delay?  We’ll see!… [continued]

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News Around the Net

Good news, everybody!  Futurama lives!!

So Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) is joining the cast of 24 next season?  Time for the Battlestar Galactica actors to learn what the members of the ensemble from The Wire have discovered: they’ll never again be in a TV show as good.

Did you see The Daily Show’s John Hodgman’s uproariously funny speech at the 2009 Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner?  Not to be missed.

A nice farewell to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles can be found on Composer Bear McCreary’s excellent blog, as he lists his 15 favorite moments from the show.  (They are all excellent choices.)  This show had its flaws, to be sure, but I am really disappointed that we won’t be getting a third season.  (By the way, Bear was also the composer for the reinvented Battlestar Galactica throughout its run.)

Speaking of The Terminator, the fine folks over at filmschoolrejects.com have posted an interesting list of 20 Things We Didn’t Like and 10 Things We Did about Terminator: Salvation.

I don’t play videogames, but I must admit that this trailer for Lucasarts’ new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer is ridiculously cool.  I wish we’d seen half that much bad-assery in the prequels…

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog has made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien!  Watch him make fun of some hippies here.

Have a great weekend, everybody!  See you back here on Monday!… [continued]

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“And They Have a Plan…”

June 22nd, 2009

The series may be over, but Galactica lives on!

Some tantalizing clips from the two-hour Battlestar Galactica TV-movie “The Plan” have made their way onto the interwebs, courtesy of the fine folks over at Galactiaca Sitrep.  Check ’em out!

I can’t wait…… [continued]

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“All of this has happened before…” Josh Reviews Caprica!

It is 58 years “before the fall.”  Life on the twelve colonies is peaceful and prosperous — especially on Caprica.  And yet, amongst the elite of society, there is decadence and decay.  The new direct-to-DVD movie Caprica focuses on the patriarchs of two families.  Daniel Greystone (Eric Stoltz) is a wealthy inventor — part Bill Gates, part Steve Jobs — who seems to have everything he wants in life.  But his artificial intelligence project is at a stand-still, and he’s in danger of losing his military contract to a rival company.  Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) is a lawyer, struggling to balance his desire to find his own way in life with his obligations to the crime family that helped pay for his education.  A terrible tragedy that involves both Daniel and Joseph’s daughters brings the two of them together and sets in motion events that will eventually lead to the creation of the Cylons… and 58 years later, the near-annihilation of the human race.

This Caprica direct-to-DVD project is something of a weird entity.  As the pilot for a TV show that we won’t get to see until 2010, Caprica isn’t a complete movie in and of itself — it’s more of a tease for what we’ll eventually get to see next year.

Despite whatever complaints I have with Battlestar Galactica‘s final run of episodes (and you can read my thoughts in more detail here), there certainly was a tremendous high of excitement and anticipation just a few months ago as the final hours of BSG were broadcast.  I wonder if Ron Moore and the makers of Caprica wouldn’t have been wiser to hold off on showing their pilot until next year, to let the memory of BSG fade and to build more anticipation for new stories within that universe.  As it is, it’s very difficult not to compare Caprica to that intense final run of episodes of BSG, and I think Caprica pales in comparison.

For better or for worse, Caprica is an entirely different type of show than BSG.  Whereas Galactica was intense and action-packed, Caprica is much colder, much more leisurely paced.  There’s one explosion (and it’s a doozy — one of the most dramatic moments of the pilot), but other than that Caprica‘s focus is not on action-adventure but on drama.  Now, that’s not a bad thing, necessarily.  You can have very compelling television without space-ship battles… and if Caprica had set out to be just like BSG, it would probably would have wound up being derivative and lame.

I remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation launched back in 1987.  In its first few seasons, the writers (for the … [continued]

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“You know he doesn’t like that name” — Josh bids farewell to Battlestar Galactica!

So, it’s over.

I can count on one hand the number of truly great science fiction TV shows.  As I look back at Ron Moore’s reimagined Battlestar Galactica, there is no question that this epic tale is high on that list.  Seeing the show come to a close is a great loss — although I am comforted to know that in the often-brutal TV marketplace that’s out there, Moore & his team were able to end the show on their own terms, when they felt their story was finished.  This is a saga that I am certain I will revisit many times in the year to come.

It is staggering to consider all the little choices that Moore & co. made correctly, right from the beginning, that all came together to make BSG such a masterpiece.  The brilliant casting of the enormous ensemble.  The decision to forgo most of the Star Trek ideas that were so innovative 30 years ago but that have become such sci-fi cliches over the past four decades (such as aliens with strange foreheads in funky suits, magic transporters, view-screens, a bridge with a big captain’s chair in the middle of it, super-duper shiny computer consoles everywhere… I could go on!) and create a retro look for the show.  The fearlessness with which the writers tackled the inherent darkness of the premise — the near-total annihilation of the human race — and all of the logical questions and struggles that would come out of that apocalyptic event.  (What will our society be like?  Will we have a government?  Courts?  Freedom of the press?  Where will we get fuel, or food, or water?  What happens when we start running out of supplies like medicine, or toothpaste?  Who will be in control, the military or the civilians?)  And finally, the choice to center the stories not in sci-fi mysteries (no time-travel, no alternate universes, no weird astrological phenomena to investigate, no aliens to make contact with) but in characters.  There were no cardboard cut-outs, perfectly moral characters to be found on this show.  No, everyone (even the robots!) were completely human — flawed, imperfect, and capable of making terrible decisions (even our most heroic characters!).

The show has made some mis-steps over the course of its run, there’s no question about that.  I, for one, felt that it nearly lost its way in the latter half of season 2, after the Pegasus three-parter concluded.  There were a couple of stand-alone episodes there that were weak in the extreme, particularly the notoriously terrible “Black Market” (by the way, if you haven’t heard it, Ron Moore’s brutally honest mea culpa podcast for that episode is a must-listen).  But as I … [continued]

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OK, here we are with my final “Best-of” list, the Top 10 DVDs of 2008!  To be included on this list, the DVD in question had to contain a high-quality TV show, movie, or special and also a great presentation on DVD, with lots of cool special features.  Behold my list:

10.  Mystery Science Theatre 3000:  20th Anniversary Edition — I adore this show, and this 20th anniversary celebration of its existence just rocked.  On this set, the gang haves fun with four great/terrible films: First Spaceship on Venus (1960), Laserblast (1978), Werewolf (1996) and Future War (1997).  Even better is the inclusion of an in-depth 3-part documentary on the making of the show, from its creation through to its end.  The icing on the cake was the neat tin case that included fun stuff like a little model of Crowe T. Robot, which now sits proudly on my desk.

9.  John, Paul, Tom & Ringo: The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder — This DVD contains three lengthy, rare interviews that Tom Synder conducted with Paul McCartney (in 1979), Ringo Starr (in 1981), and John Lennon (in 1975).  The Lennon interview is the last televised interview that John gave before his death.  Snyder is an engaging interviewer, and these lengthy conversations with 3 of the 4 Beatles are a real find.

8.  The Office: The Complete Fourth Season and 30 Rock: The Complete Second Season — Complete season sets of these two NBC shows at the top of their game were released in ’08, I can’t tell you how many hours of enjoyment I got out of these DVDs.  In the fourth season of The Office, Ryan the temp is promoted, moves to New York City, and falls to pieces; Andy begins dating Angela; Stanley finally loses it with Michael (“did I stutter?”), Michael is deposed in Jan’s case against Dunder Mifflin; the gang creates an ad to run on local television and participates in Michael’s “fun run” towards a cure for rabies; Toby finally leaves for Costa Rica; and of course Michael and Jan invite Jim and Pam over for a dinner party.  Over on 30 Rock, Jack launches a new reality series called  MILF Island; Tracy and Jenna feud over Liz’s attentions; Liz adopts a hippie writer (played by Carrie Fisher) as her mentor; Devon Banks (Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett) feuds with Jack over the top spot at GE; Jerry Seinfeld discovers Jack’s plan to digitally insert him into all of NBC’s new fall shows; Jack falls in love with a Democratic Congresswoman from Vermont (Edie Falco); and while Liz Lemon faces a pregnancy scare, Jack takes a job working in the Bush Administration along … [continued]

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“Sit Down, Cylon!” — Battlestar Galactica Returns!

It has been a long, long wait for the Sci-Fi Channel to begin airing the final 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica.  (The first ten episodes of BSG’s fourth season aired from April 4th through June 13th, 2008.)  At last, this past Friday, the wait was over.

For any of you who haven’t been following this spectacular series (without a doubt one of the best shows currently on television), Battlestar Galactica is a “reimagining” of the classic (yet, let’s admit it, also pretty unwatchable) series that lasted one season in 1978.  Galactica follows the last survivors of humanity (the military folk on the Battlestar Galactica and a rag-tag fleet of civilian survivors), following the annihilation of the Twelve Colonies of the human race by the robotic Cylons.  In one of the great reversals of standard heroic television & movie behavior, the series began with the humans deciding to flee the Cylons, rather than stay and fight to the last man.  Of course, things weren’t quite that easy.  Over the course of the series we have seen the men and women of the Galactica struggle to survive, and to keep some semblance of human civilization together, in the face of crises and horror at every turn.  To say the show is gripping would be an understatement of the highest order.

The latest episode, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” picks up with the crew of Galactica at their breaking point.  Having been searching for so long for the salvation they thought the fabled “Earth” would bring, in last year’s cliffhanger they finally found Earth — only to discover it was a wasteland (having suffered the same fate of nuclear annihilation as did their Twelve Colonies).  This year’s premiere doesn’t contain any action-adventure whatsoever.  Rather, the show takes an unflinching look at the reactions of all of the show’s characters to this crushing disappointment.  Most of them do not react well.

One of my favorite things about BSG is the way the characters in the show are always depicted as real people, with real human failings.  I have seen plenty of sci-fi adventure shows in which we see heroic characters always making the right decisions.  Not BSG.  “Sometimes a Great Notion”  is a prime example of that.  

Spoilers from here on out, gang, so if you haven’t seen this episode yet I suggest you move on.

The biggest shock of the episode came from the suicide of Dualla.  I was totally caught off guard by this moment.  Dee has been in the show since the mini-series, and she was always one of the sweetest characters on the show.  It was a total shock to see her fire that gun (particularly since the few … [continued]

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More Toasters!

August 11th, 2008

To all the Battlestar Galactica fans out there who, like me, are very sad to see the show come to a close with the 10 remaining episodes (to air on Sci-Fi later this year) — rejoice!

In addition to the much-discussed and finally green-lit Caprica TV-movie (set 50 years before the show — watch a trailer here), an additional BSG prequel TV-Movie has just been announced — one with much closer ties to the show. It’ll feature many actors from the series (announced so far: Anders, Chief Tyrol, and Cavil), and it’ll be directed by Edward James Olmos. Check out the details here!

Also! Rumor has it that the final BSG episodes will air in “extended” form — longer than the regular hour (or approx. 42 minutes without commercials). Read what Executive Producer David Eick has to say on the matter here!… [continued]

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News Around The Net

LOTS of fun stuff continuing to hit the interweb in this past week, after the San Diego Comic Con.  Check out these links:

Creepy new trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince can be found here!

Is the new Terminator movie going to be any good?  I doubt it.  But is this poster pretty cool?  Why it surely is.

Speaking of posters, some gorgeous new posters for the Watchmen movie can be seen here.

The entire hour-long Battlestar Galactica panel from Comic-Con (hosted by KEVIN SMITH!) is on-line here.

If you’re going to go see the next X-Files movie, this somewhat humorous recap of the final two rather lame seasons of the show can be found here.  Of course, the movie doesn’t deal with any of that stuff.  But its a fun trip down memory lane, as well as a reminder of why I haven’t rewatched any of the episodes from those final years of the show recently!

And finally, who better to sum up the entire Comic Con experience for those of us who couldn’t attend than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.  He is merciless.

OK, that should keep you all off the streets for the next little while…… [continued]

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How I survived the TV strike

I’m a bit of a TV nut.  So, like so many of you, I had to go through a bit of an adjustment this winter without any new installments of Lost, The Office, and all my other TV pals.

How did I survive?  DVDs, my friends.  God bless ‘em.

Here’s just a sampling of the Digital Video Devicey goodness that I enjoyed over the past few months:

I.  Futurama: Bender’s Big Score – There aren’t a lot of shows (only Firefly and Arrested Development come to mind) whose cancellation burned me more than that of Futurama.  My goodness I loved this show. I still remember the moment when I first understood that this Matt Groening creation was a thing of awesome beauty and genius.  It was season two’s episode “I Second That Emotion,” (that’s the one where the Professor installs an empathy chip in Bender), in which it was revealed that the colony of underground mutants (long story) worshipped an unexploded nuclear bomb but, as one of the mutants commented, “its really just a Christmas and Easter” thing.  Any show that makes Beneath the Planet of the Apes jokes (that’s where the whole mutants-worshipping-an-unexploded-nuclear-bomb thing comes from) without care as to the tiny amount of viewers who would actually get that joke is a show that guaranteed itself my viewership until the end of time.  Anyways, this DVD movie was the 1st of 4 DVDs rescuing the show from oblivion.  It’s the bees’ knees, baby.

II.  Battlestar Galactica: Razor – Another direct-to-DVD continuation of a brilliant TV show.  If you’re not watching Sci-Fi’s stunningly amazing reinvention of BSG, then I have only pity in my heart for you.  This installment was, no surprise, gripping and surprising…in particular, the multi-layered structure of flashbacks-within-flashbacks was super-cool.  And we got to see a young William “Husker” Adama battling “toasters” in the First Cylon War!

III.  Zodiac – I totally missed this David Fincher film, about the real-life Zodiac murders of the 60’s & 70’s, when it was in theatres…and I don’t know quite what prompted me to pick it up on DVD.  But I found this film to be completely gripping.  A terrific cast,  including Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Junior, and many many other familiar faces really kept things moving.  And the beautiful set design & costuming combined with some really beautiful but extraordinarily subtle visual effects work brought San Francisco through the years to gorgeous visual life.

IV.  Igby Goes Down – Check out this cast:  Kieran Culkin, Clare Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillipe, Bill Pullman, and Susan Sarandon.  Find it.  Watch it.  You won’t regret it.

More DVDS I watched and loved this winter coming tomorrow!… [continued]