Thursday, 29 September 2011

It's time to say GOODBYE SARAH JANE

Whilst there was a bittersweet rightness to the fact that the last story of THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES shown before Elisabeth Sladen's death was entitled 'Goodbye Sarah Jane', the fact that there were stories already filmed and unshown means that the final season of the show will be airing from October 3rd on CBBC.

For all die-hard Sarah Jane Smith devotees it's going to be a hard thing to watch, but as these are the last new appearances there will ever be they are a thing to be savoured. A fitting chance, perhaps, to say Goodbye Sarah Jane.

BBC press release

"Investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith and her gang of young sidekicks are back, as the final ever episodes of the award-winning The Sarah Jane Adventures are broadcast on CBBC from Monday 3 October.

The six episodes making up the fifth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures were all filmed before the sad death of much-loved actress Elisabeth Sladen earlier this year.
Lis first appeared as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who in 1973 and remained on the iconic programme for three-and-a-half series alongside the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. She returned to the role in 2007 in her own spin-off series on CBBC.
The Sarah Jane Adventures brought Lis to a whole new generation of fans who grew to love her alien-busting adventures.

Created by Russell T Davies, this new series of the hugely successful Doctor Who spin-off features new aliens, surprising arrivals, and the usual mix of thrills, scares and fun. Sarah Jane and her gang are thrown into the middle of a war between two deadly aliens, Fleshkind and Metalkind, Clyde finds himself out on the streets when an alien curse turns his friends against him, and Sarah Jane confronts the mysterious Mr Serf and discovers the secret of his success – he has alien slaves in his basement!

Elisabeth Sladen plays Sarah Jane Smith alongside young stars Tommy Knight as Luke, Daniel Anthony as Clyde and Anjli Mohindra as Rani. This series introduces a brand new member of the gang, Sky, played by Sinead Michael. The series also features Ace Bhatti and Mina Anwar as Rani's parents, Jocelyn Jee Esien as Clyde's mum, and guest appearances from Floella Benjamin as Professor Rivers, James Dreyfuss as Harrison, Peter Bowles as Lionel Carson, Christine Stephen-Daly as Miss Myers and Lily Loveless as Ellie.
The Sarah Jane Adventures is executive produced by Russell T Davies and Nikki Wilson and is produced by Brian Minchin. Writers include Phil Ford and Gareth Roberts.

The Sarah Jane Adventures will air on Monday and Tuesdays on CBBC.

The Sarah Jane Adventures is a BBC Cymru Wales/CBBC production. "

Monday, 26 September 2011

Merlin's Back

Harry Potter may be gone, but that other teen wizard MERLIN returns to the BBC, taking over the slot vacated by the DOCTOR WHO on October 1st.

All the favourite characters return and the series opens with a two-parter following on from the tumultuous events of the last series.

Here is what the BBC press office have to say on the matter of the wizards' return:

"Merlin faces his toughest challenge yet when Morgana's blinkered determination threatens not only Arthur's future, but also the very balance of the world. With her magic stronger than ever, the sorceress summons the mighty Callieach to tear open the veil between the worlds.

Hellish creatures pour forth, killing all who succumb to their touch. With Uther a shadow of his former self, it falls to Arthur and his loyal knights, including Lancelot, to protect the kingdom.

But it will take more than just swords to vanquish their enemy and Merlin is shocked to the core when he discovers the only way to restore the equilibrium requires a sacrifice of unimaginable proportions... "

With a write up like that, you just know that you'll be there.

Fantasy goes Opera

Ok, we'll be the first to admit that we don't like opera. The music yes, but all that caterwauling over the top? No thanks.

This announcement from the BBC, though, has got us interested enough to think about putting aside that prejudice and giving it another whirl. I mean a big scale fantasy directed by Terry Gilliam that actually got made.. How often does that happen?

The scheduled date is October 14th on BBC 4.

Here's the press release:

"BBC Four broadcasts English National Opera's highly acclaimed new production of Berlioz's The Damnation Of Faust, directed by film-maker and former Python Terry Gilliam.
Introduced for BBC Four by Gilliam himself, this spectacular show takes as its theme the art and politics of Germany from the 19th to the mid 20th century. Faust begins as a romantic seeker after truth, but his pact with Mephistopheles propels him on a rollercoaster ride through history. He experiences the carnage of the First World War, the turmoil of the Weimar Republic and becomes embroiled in the rise of Hitler. His beloved Marguerite turns out to be a Jewess disguised as an Aryan. This love affair leads Faust to damnation and Marguerite to the gas chamber.
It features a stellar cast with Christine Rice as Marguerite, Peter Hoare as Faust and Christopher Purvis as Mephistopheles.
The ENO Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by ENO Music Director Edward Gardner. "

Episodes to Savour - ANGEL: Smile Time

ANGEL always was one of the grumpiest vampires around. Never happy with his lot simply because a bunch of gypsies decreed that he would lose his soul if ever he was perfectly happy, he didn't suffer fools glady, but was glad to make fools suffer.

Imagine, then, this vampire being faced with a bunch of demons disguised as muppets on a children's television show called Smile Time. Even better, imaging this vampire being turned into a muppet version of himself.

Yes, it's a gag episode, but it's a gag that is pulled off to perfection and works because of the character and not because of the gag. The moment when rival vampire Spike ends up in a fight with this muppet is priceless and worth the episode alone.

And yes, you can buy the muppet yourself.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Does Endgame mark the end for TV's superheroes?

And so THE CAPE came to an end this week after a 10 episode run on Syfy. It's been cancelled and the final episode didn't even make it to the TV screen in the States.

Now, after the cancellation of the likes of NO ORDINARY FAMILY and this show the question arises as to whether there is a place for superheroes on the small screen. Even the legendary HEROES failed after its splashy opening season.

Why do superheroes not fly on TV when at the cinema they are all over the place. The answer, we think, lies in the spectacle. Movies have huge amounts of money to splash on huge set piece action stunts. TV doesn't have that and no matter how much you try to replace that with drama, the show will ultimately fail.

The arrival of shows like TEEN WOLF and LOST GIRL might suggest that the antics of werewolves, vampires and other supernatural entities are inherently more suited to the TV scale than those of masked vigilantes.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

DR WHO Christmas special press release

Production has started on the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special in which the Doctor (Matt Smith) finds himself in war-torn England embarking on a magical and mysterious adventure with a young widow and her two children.

A stellar guest cast including Claire Skinner (Outnumbered), Bill Bailey (Black Books), Arabella Weir (The Fast Show) and Alexander Armstrong (Armstrong & Miller), join Matt Smith in the emotional festive special, packed full of Christmas thrills and chills.
Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, commented: "The Doctor at Christmas – nothing is more fun to write. Maybe because it's so his kind of day – everything's bright and shiny, everybody's having a laugh, and nobody minds if you wear a really stupid hat. Of all the Doctors, Matt Smith's is the one that was born for this time of year – so it's the best news possible that he's heading back down the chimney."

The special, set during the Second World War, sees Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril, evacuated to a draughty old house in Dorset, where the caretaker is a mysterious young man in a bow tie, and a big blue parcel is waiting for them under the tree. They are about to enter a magical new world and learn that a Time Lord never forgets his debts.
Claire Skinner said: "I am thrilled to be in Doctor Who playing Madge who is a bit of super-mum. It's a magical part."

This marks Matt Smith's second outing as the Doctor at Christmas time and will follow hot on the heels of the successful 2011 series, currently airing on BBC One until October.

The Christmas Special was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama and Danny Cohen, Controller BBC One. Steven Moffat is Lead Writer and Executive Producer with Piers Wenger and Caroline Skinner, also executive producing.

Filming on the Christmas special will continue until mid-October 2011. "

Let's hope the Steven Moffat can come up with something better than last year's THE CHRISTMAS CAROL which was good without being great.

Genre Icons We Love - Summer Glau

If you look very closely at the tortured ballerina in the ANGEL episode Waiting In The Wings then you will see that it is none other than Summer Glau. This isn't really a surprise since trained as a ballerina and therefore looks completely at home in the part.

From this small background role, however, started a career that has made her such a genre icon that she was able to appear as herself in a cameo role on the best geek comedy show ever THE BIG BANG THEORY.

Glau manages to combine a vulnerability and apparent fragility with inner strength and this is the combination that made her perfect to play the kick ass robot sent back in time to save John Connor (again) in TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. There is a definite kick to be had watching this slight girl beating the living daylights out of some big hefty blokes.

It was, though, just a variation on the part she had already played in Joss Whedon's sadly truncated FIREFLY in which she was a young and fragile girl who could turn into a kick ass killing machine when the plot required. In an ensemble as strong as this show boasted, being able to hold her own proved her acting ability.

Since then, she's gone on to play one of the empowered 4400, a supergeek scientist type in DOLLHOUSE and the mentally fragile superhero sidekick in THE CAPE (just coming to an end on SyFy).

No matter what she appears  in, Summer is watchable and eye catching and a perfect science fiction icon.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Episodes to Savour - Star Trek Voyager: Bride of Chaotica!

Even the lowliest of shows can come up with one outstanding episode that lives in the memory long after the rest of that show has faded into the mists of memory.

STAR TREK VOYAGER isn't the lowliest of shows by any means, but it did feature a fair few unmemorable stories.

The one that stands out for us is this holodeck pastiche of the old Flash Gordon/ Buck Rogers serials that glories in the name of BRIDE OF CHAOTICA!.

Harry Kim and Tom Paris have recreated one of the adventures of their favourite heroes, Captain Proton, and energy beings that appear when the ship hits a weak boundary between space and subspace take this to be reality and attack the ship. Only if Captain Janeway takes on the role of the Bride of Chaotica will the ship be saved.

This is, of course, utter nonsense, but it is also joyfully alive and witty and funny and the references to the old serials are spot on. The glorious black and white photography inside the holodeck is a gorgeous touch and Kate Mulgrew's reaction as Captain Janeway to the fact that she is going to have to go in and camp it up in the holodeck programme is just brilliant.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Should George Lucas alter Star Wars

The Star Wars saga is out on Blu Ray, but the debate rages as to whether George Lucas is destroying his legacy by consistently changing the films with CGI tweaks and fixes.

Now the idea of people going back and doing their films over again is as old as Cecil B DeMille remaking BEN HUR because that's the only choice that he had with the technology of the time, but with CGI and digital it is simple to make all manner of changes (such as Steven Spielberg taking the guns out of ET The Extraterrestrial).

The question is, do they have the right?

Well of course they do. They made the films, they own the films and they have the right to do what they like with them.

We'd like to espouse the opinion, however, that when a work of entertainment (or art if you prefer) is released into the world, it is a contract between the artist and the audience. The imaginations of both are used to some sort of degree to create the final piece. What you see in STAR WARS is different to what I see because we are different people and our responses to the images are different.

So, if the audience are investing themselves in the piece, shouldn't they have a say in whether it should be messed around with?

The answer is no, but with a proviso here. Once the work has been released, it belongs as much to the public who saw it as the artist who made it. That work should therefore remain available to the public should they wish it to. Any subsequent versions that the artist decides to make should not make the original unavailable.

Yes, artists should be allowed to make improvements, but if the public don't like those improvements then they should be allowed to go back to the original just as freely. If the artist doesn't like that principle then they shouldn't release their work into the public eye and certainly shouldn't be taking money for doing so.

So Mr Lucas et al, carry out all the tinkering that you want, but leave the originals available for those that love them that way.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Charly dies

It's a rare thing that a science fiction film gets lauded for the acting and the idea that a sci fi movie could win a best acting oscar might seem pie in the sky until you consider Charly, for which Cliff Robertson won a best actor oscar.

Based on the heartbreaking book Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes it tells of a mentally challenged man who is given a whole new life when an experimental drug enhances his intelligence. When the effect isn't permanent...

Cliff Robertson deserved his oscar without doubt because it's a very fine performance indeed and we receive the news of his death sadly, not least because he showed that science fiction can mean real quality performances.

Friday, 9 September 2011

SKY goes blockbuster mad next weekend

Sky Movies are doing a whole weekend of big name recent blockbusters on the Sky Sci Fi and Horror Channel next week. This is the list of the goodies in store:

Friday 16th

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra 7pm
Tron Legacy 9pm
The Matrix Revolutions 11.05pm

Saturday 17th

Predators (2010) 7.10pm
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen  9pm
The Book Of Eli  11.30pm

Sunday 18th

Superman   2.25pm
Hulk  4.50pm
X-Men Origins: Wolverine  7.10pm
Superman Returns  9pm
Planet Of The Apes (2001)   11.35pm

It's an eclectic bunch, but there should be something for everyone and if you want it's a chance to really glut out on big screen budget busters.

Monday, 5 September 2011

DOCTOR WHO still hates my dad

The second half of this year's series of Doctor Who is only two episodes old when evidence of the ongoing anti father agenda surfaced in the episode Night Terrors shown this Saturday and written by Mark Gatiss.
It had all started so well. A story about a young boy frightened of everything and the monsters in his closet being real, it had a father who was present and married to the mother and who was going to be around for the whole episode and probably wasn't going to be a child beater or an alien in disguise. Then it turns out that it's all the fault of the father because he's made the son think that he's going to send him away and all he really needs to make everything all right is a bit of fatherly affection and reassurance.

So even Dads that haven't run away and don't beat their kids are bad fathers who turn their children into bags of fear.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Who's the Fairest Of Them All

Syfy launched its latest show LOST GIRL this week and to celebrate, they carried out a survey of all the lads and lasses that we like to lust after in our favourite genre. No big surprises here you would say.

Sci-Fi Babes
1.     Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) – 81.9%
2.     Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary) – 1.1%
3.     Sarah Michelle Gellar  (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – 0.9%
4.     Jewel Staite (Stargate Atlantis, Serenity, Firefly) – 0.8%
5.     Eliza Dushku (Eureka, The Guild) – 0.7%
6.     Gina Torres (Firefly) – 0.6%
7.     Anna Torv (Fringe) – 0.5%
8.     Morena Baccarin (V, Stargate SG1, Firefly) – 0.4%
8.     Felicia Day (Eureka, The Guild)  – 0.4%
10.  Natalie Portman (Star Wars: Episode 1, 2 & 3) – 0.3%

Sci-Fi Hunks
1.     Jenson Ackles (Supernatural) – 51%
2.     Jared Padalecki (Supernatural) – 17.8%
3.     Mischa Collins (Supernatural) – 11.2%
4.     Mark Sheppard (Dr Who, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly) – 5%
5.     Nathan Fillion (Serenity) – 3.2%
6.     Robert Downey Junior (Iron Man) – 2.4%
7.     John Barrowman (Torchwood) – 1.8%
8.     Hugh Jackman (X Men) – 1.6%
9.     Zach Quinto (Heroes) – 1.3%
10.  Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary) – 0.9%

Lost Girl debuted on SyFy this week and we'll be covering it on the site proper just as soon as we can.