JC and Rita return for their 80th episode and it’s a wild one. Rita can barely contain herself as she talks about Universal Studios Florida’s new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley as well as Disney Hollywood Studios’ Frozen Sumertime Fun spectacular. Doctor Geek tells us what STEM is and JC and Rita tell you why you shouldn’t be watching those naughty Doctor Who rough cuts of Series 8′s first episode with Peter Capaldi. It’s Spoilers, sweetie!
Much more after the jump!
You don’t need to bring someone from the original series. You didn’t bring one of the original cast when you started The Next Generation (except as cameos) and I think everyone was a little surprised, but it worked; it worked so well that you made three more series the same way, and that worked out okay. Maybe you don’t want to invest a pile of cash into an unknown quantity, but you totally can. Maybe you don’t want to have to negotiate with actors at the end of every contract, and a lot of actors don’t want to be locked into Star Trek because it makes it more difficult for them to break out of the mold after the series is over. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being remembered for Star Trek, but you gotta eat and if you’re typecast by Star Trek, well, you’re a little stuck.
So here’s how you get around it: don’t sign anyone to long-term contracts. In The Next Generation, there were a couple of episodes revolving around junior officers, and the senior officers, known to us as the main characters, rarely showed their faces; they were background. This is something you can do over and over again. The ships all essentially have the same background, the same corridors, similar command areas, and only need a little bit of tweaking to look different. It would be easy enough with slightly different lighting to allow audiences to understand they were on a different ship. Different actors playing different characters on different ships, and you get around the whole years-long contract issue. It’s basically Law & Order in space.
This kind of structure allows for a revolving cast of characters and you can bring any of them back at any given time because it’s basically a military structure and people get transferred. You can have short story arcs, or long story arcs, or overlapping stories between ships. You could show different perspectives of the same event as seen by different ships. We’ve already seen this with the battle of Wolfe 359 from the perspective of Cmdr. Sisko on Deep Space 9. From my perspective, that of a Next Generation fan who saw it all from the Enterprise, seeing the effects from someone who was not emotionally attached to Captain Picard, and who lost family while Picard was leading the Borg, it was quite interesting! Of course, you don’t want it to get too messy, and you could always have a couple of main characters, just like Law & Order, to anchor it: maybe an admiral? Or a holographic doctor? Maybe someone from the Q Continuum?
Another benefit to this structure is that you can appeal to the non-Star Trek fan who might be reluctant to begin watching as they don’t know the background. This type of newbie would be attracted by the freshness of the story, and it’s easy enough to maintain and grow the interest of established Star Trek fans by throwing in a reference or two to something from before, or have someone from the earlier series show up periodically. Maybe someone from the Q Continuum? No pressure. Heck, throw in a mirror universe episode and they’ll be hooked. I’m ready to tune in now!
I have been for years.
By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was a surprise late-summer hit in 2011, serving as a prequel to the classic sci-fi “Planet of the Apes” film about a team of astronauts who travel to the future and return to find that apes have become the dominant species on the planet Earth. A thought-provoking, emotionally resonant plot and impressive motion capture work elevated it above the shameless, cash-grabbing reboot it easily could have become, and it earned praise from critics and viewers. The good news is, the sequel — “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — is even stronger, balancing its lifelike special effects and action set pieces with reflections on what it means to be human.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” takes place a decade after the previous film; an opening montage quickly catches audiences up to date about how a virus has devastated most of planet Earth and brought about the collapse of human society. A colony of humans struggling to survive in the post-apocalyptic streets of San Francisco decide to venture out into the wilderness to try to repair a hydroelectric dam that could generate power. In the forest, they discover a complex society of highly-intelligent apes who are becoming increasingly human-like (due to experiments performed on them in the first film). The ape society is led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), a chimpanzee who has gained the ability to speak.
Although Caesar forms a tenuous agreement with the humans, allowing them to work on the dam, not all of the humans and apes are certain they can trust each other. A betrayal threatens to lead both sides to war and end the humans’ hope for returning to the life they once knew on Earth.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is an unconventional summer blockbuster, but that’s part of what makes it refreshing. Although there are long periods without spoken dialogue (most of the apes communicate by sign language, which is translated in the captions), the film still holds viewers’ attention, thanks to life-like motion capture work by Andy Serkis and other performers as the ape characters.
Serkis has established himself as a leader in motion capture work, and that recognition is well-earned. Though the animators deserve plenty of credit for creating the CGI apes that blend seamlessly with the live-action film, Serkis adds the subtle layers of emotion that make Caesar a fully-realized character. He is the most “human” of the apes, and the one that struggles the most over the conflict that erupts between the two cultures.
One of the film’s most interesting themes is the development of the ape society, and how more problems arise within the society the more “human-like” the apes become. With higher levels of intelligence come good traits, such as compassion and appreciation for family and friends, but the apes also discover the darker side of humanity is starting to manifest itself in their own culture: power struggles, lies, jealousy and revenge.
Another interesting thing about the film is that it doesn’t necessarily pick sides; there are good humans and bad humans, good apes and bad apes. Some see the war between the species as regrettable but unavoidable, while others see it as an opportunity to shift the balance of power. While one could argue that the apes are actually the main characters in this film, among the humans Jason Clarke is a standout as a leader who develops a friendship with Caesar.
Although the film’s open ending is obviously paving the way for a sequel, I think the ambiguousness also fits well with the tone of the film. It gives audiences space to think about our own strengths and weaknesses as a society and where we might head in the future. The movie does exactly what good science fiction should do: both entertain and enlighten.
Blurb: After saying their goodbyes to Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, the Doctor and Leela respond to an alien distress call beamed direct from Victorian England. It is the beginning of a journey that will take them to the newly built Space Dock Nerva… where a long overdue homecoming is expected.
A homecoming that could bring about the end of the human race.
Review: Destination: Nerva was the first of the range of Fourth Doctor Adventures made by Big Finish productions. Tom Baker had resisted doing the audios for many years, as he did with many other attempts to tie him back to the role with which he had such a love-hate relationship. According to the interviews Louise Jameson had finally convinced him to give Big Finish a try and record some audios. The first result were the two stories in the Fourth Doctor Box Set, but Destination: Nerva was the first story to be written for this new format. Unlike the typical length of the stories from Tom Baker’s run on TV, the Fourth Doctor Adventures are all 2-part adventures, allowing Big Finish to record more stories with the Doctor, but with the downside that these stories for the most part feel much more slight than their TV counterparts.
One of the most surprising and pleasing aspects of Destination: Nerva is how little Tom and Louise seem to have changed over the years. Both of them leap back into their roles as if the intervening 40 years hadn’t happened. It’s a great feeling to hear the Doctor expressing righteous anger when he sees injustice. Louise gives a wonderful performance as the assertive and inquisitive Leela who wants to learn everything that the Doctor can teach her. The composer helps set the mood for the story by so effectively imitating the style of Dudley Simpson who had been the composer for almost all of the stories in Tom Baker’s run. The touch of Victoriana combined with the body horror of being turned into amorphous monsters flesh also really feels like the kind of story that the Hinchcliffe era would have produced. This story was clearly written with nostalgia in mind as even the setting is a location from two of Tom Baker’s television stories, and it succeeds in creating a sense of familiarity to those who remember Tom Baker’s run on the story.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t provide much beyond that. The pacing is horrible. The first episode feels like the typical build up to a storyline in this era of the series, but the second episode just ends abruptly as if someone was writing two episodes based on a story being a four-parter and was then asked to wrap everything up in the last 5 minutes of episode 2. So many of the motivations in the story don’t make sense. Even worse, we are told of a far more interesting story that happened in the past when Victorian soldiers traveled through space conquering in the name of the Empire. That story is only used as a backdrop for what occurs here, but it sounds like a far more interesting set of events and it’s a real shame that this wasn’t allowed to be fleshed out more.
The guest cast are fine but few of them get any personality. Only Dr. Alison Foster is allowed to have any kind of a backstory and real character. Unfortunately, any thoughts that the backstory may have any real impact on the events that occur in the story are squashed by the end. The story of her child who only lived a few days is just there to give her color, which is fine, but in a story that so sorely needed something like plotting it seems like yet another wasted opportunity. Production-wise things get a little confusing in a few spots where a lot of sounds are thrown out and it’s not apparent what’s going on. It only happens in a few points and eventually you do get the exposition on what just occurred but it can be a bit of a strain trying to pay attention when it’s actually happening.
Recommendation: The Doctor and Leela are back and it’s difficult not to be happy. This story gets a higher rating than it should just because it’s such a joy to have these two fine actors back recording Doctor Who again. The production team seems to understand that and have created a story high on nostalgia and Tom and Louise perform up to expectations. The problem is that the script isn’t supporting them and what’s produced is a meandering and illogical set of events. Some production misses that make it hard to understand what’s going on in a few key scenes don’t help either. This one is definitely a mixed blessing but ought to be given the benefit of the doubt as a Freshman outing.
Big Finish Productions
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Produced by David Richardson
Written by Nicholas Briggs
Runtime Approx 60 min.
On this sweet episode of Respawn Radio we discuss Neversoft saying goodbye, Another World remake, Wolfenstein woes, some MS big fruity leak, Destiny beta incoming, there’s a Wolf Among Us, early releases and try before you buys? This and a lot more on the whiskey hour.
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