Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Yes, I know they’re doing a remake – but that’s not what I’m talking about.

AMC recently put all of the hour-long episodes up on their site and I’ve linked to it from the Classic Science Fiction Channel.

If you have never seen this show – watch it. Forgive it the old technology, cars, 1960s mod British clothing styles and anything else that might make you whine “but it’s dated, waaaa” and WATCH it. I don’t mean turn it on. I mean PAY ATTENTION. Listen to the dialogue and, above all – hang on to something because when it comes to television shows that play with your head, this is not just the progenitor of them all, this is a SERIOUS mind-fuck.

You poor little children, thinking that Lost or the X-Files or anything else that’s since appeared on the little screen is something to rave about. You just don’t know. You’ve been raised in a vacuum. It’s not your fault that television doesn’t make you think. You’ve been eating tripe but have been told it was filet mignon – how the heck are you supposed to know any better?

But imagine, just for one second, if every piece of steak you’ve ever eaten in your life (or every tofu burger for you vegans out there) tasted like crap. Everyone in your life has told you it was delicious and you’ve gone about pretending that you like it just to get along. Somewhere in the back of your head though, you’ve had this nagging suspicion that ‘steak’ tastes like shit. And now.

Now someone hands you a Kobe beef filet mignon. You can smell it. You’re starting to salivate. You know this isn’t your ordinary piece of shit on a bun and any second now you’re going to get that very first taste…

That’s kind of, in a small way, what watching the Prisoner is going to be like for those of you who’ve never seen it. You’ve been sucking up doo-doo through your eyeballs and didn’t even know it.

When I was growing up, The Prisoner was the second-most talked about show, after Star Trek. (At least amongst those of us who sat at the geek table in the cafeteria.) It would have been the number one topic of discussion but it just wasn’t on as much. You had to be pretty slick back in those days to be able to catch it on PBS at the odd hours they put it on.

And I’ll apologize now for the future ruination of your television watching pleasure. You’re just not going to be the same after watching it.

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I’ve got a whole slew of neat finds that have just been added to the movies and television shows section of the channel.

Headliner films include – Day of the Triffids, When Worlds Collide and Earth vs The Flying Saucers, while tv shows include Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Fireball XL5 (the show that really got me going on SF waaaaay back in the day).

Throw some logs on the fireplace, pop up some popcorn and settle in with that favorite blanket! Me – I’m working my way through Fireball XL5 and the amazing adventures of Steve Zodiac, Venus, Professor Mat Matic and Robbie the Robot!

Just click here to get started.

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Ha! In honor of the crappy re-makes that Hollywood keeps on turning out (and budgeting over and over and over again) – don’t you think the word we use to describe these things ought to be “re-tread”? (captures the cheap, shoddy, will fall apart within the first ten minutes feel), I just finished a re-make of the Classic Science Fiction Channel’s ‘moving images’ page.

The page was originally all text links. Now I’ve replaced the text links with film posters and title screen images. Too bad there isn’t an industry standard size for these advertisements. If they were all the same size, the page would look really cool. As it is, I think it still looks pretty cool.

Besides, there’s just something right about sticking a poster for Skiffy Tube’s short-lived Flash Gordon series next to one for Plan 9 From Outer Space…

You can check out the goodness here.

I’ll probably re-make the radio show page next. What I’d really like to do is find a book cover for each of the episodes that are based on a short story – but in most cases such covers aren’t available: most of these shorts appeared in pulp magazines and more often than not they weren’t the cover stories. But have no fear, I’ll figure something out.


Warning – this is going to be a multi-post day (including pictures of the snow that is keeping me inside) – so check back often!

Upcoming: the C’s from the continuing series of reviewing the reviewers (getting a lot of comments and emails on that one) – which includes my massively brilliant solution for those bloggers who are ‘nervous’ about their upcoming review – and – snow pictures!

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This Thursday – December 11th, 2008 – AMC TV will be broadcasting THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL at 8 PM est, and on additional dates as well.

You can see their full schedule here.

I begged and pleaded with them to schedule it for the 10th, which is of course TDTESSTWTOMD, but they’d already locked in the 10th’s schedule and claimed that contractual obligations prevented them from changing it – so they did the best they could.*

The real reason they scheduled it on the 11th was so that they wouldn’t have to give me any credit for having created such a stir for the original that they were kinda forced to air it. No broadcaster wants the public to believe that their requests have any influence over them. They let that happen back in the 70s and look what happened – Star Trek re-runs! New Star Trek series and Star Trek feature films! Hollywood had to spend all kinds of money on that!

I understand. AMC was under serious pressure from the Broadcaster’s Federation or whatever its called to keep the peasants down. It was a survival kind of thing, so I’m prepared to forgive them. And I’ll take what I can get.

We all still have a chance though. We can all still demonstrate how much influence us lowly ‘watchers’ really have – by watching. Help up AMC’s ratings and market share and tune in!

AMC will be doing a ‘Cinemania’ trivia contest in conjunction with this airing – play along and see how much you really know about the film.

And then, the VERY NEXT DAY we can all go to the theater, watch the remake/redo/reboot/reimagined version and then discuss.

*That stuff about talking to AMC was all made up. I don’t need to talk to them – they already know what I want.

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The Classic Science Fiction Channel’s literature page, featuring E book and Audio classic science fiction is now up on the website. Join famous science fiction authors like Stanley G. Weinbaum, E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, Andre Norton, more

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Click the pic to WATCH the original


Bill the SciFi guy has an excellent piece commenting on Biology in SF’s poll concerning the intersection between science and science fiction. This is an academic exercise and pretty straight forward – until you get to IO9’s butting in on the subject.

Read about more stupidity! Look at pics of almost nekkid ladies! Watch village idiots looking at pictures of nekkid ladies!

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I was originally going to start off with a bit of personal news, but what you see up there knocked that story off the front page. 


If there were any justice in the world, that headline would knock the economic woes off the front page of every paper in the country.

Fortunately for me, I get to be the one to break the news. 

In one weeks time there are 168 hours available for a broadcaster to fill with content.  Ten percent of that would be just a few minutes shy of 17 hours.  I don’t know about you, but 17 hours of television is about as much as I watch in a week. It would still constitute the bulk of three or four days worth for the average person.  And yet, Sci Fi can’t even give us that.

It won’t be long now before they change their name and the fact that there used to be a channel exclusively devoted to science fiction will have become a thing of the past.  Guess I’ll have to spend more time hanging out with the ‘geeky young guys’…

My personal news is a bit more personal.  A few months ago, Fred Kiesche III – college friend and book reviewer extraordinaire, (and blogger for Texas Best Grok) announced that he was a featured character in one of David Drake’s forthcoming novels.

Naturally I was jealous.  Green with envy.  Apoplectic.  Which I told Fred at the time.

Well, now I don’t have to be so jealous.  I got my mention – not as a character, but as one of the people who helped get Chandler’s last unpublished story into print.

And Matt, the book review editor at Ray Gun Revival (who I’ve started writing for) just sent me along a copy!

It’s Jack Dann’s Dreaming Again if you’re interested.

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I’m probably committing sacrilege with every word in this post, but sticking my finger in the eye of conventional wisdom seems to be a ‘thing’ with me.

Skiffy Tube has begun its long anticipated re-run of the JJ Abrams wonder show LOST and I accidentally got drawn in to watching it.

I was not drawn in by the wonderousness of the show, nor was I captivated by the splendiferous acting of the ensemble cast.  My experience was more like that of the extra who got sucked in to the turbine.

In other words, it literally sucked.  And then it splashed bloody little fleshy pieces all over the landscape.

What initially attracted me was an incessant rising and falling jet engine whine.  The TV was running in the other room (I rarely watch the bloody thing) and somehow it managed to find itself set to Skiffy Tube.  I was finally annoyed enough to leave the keyboard.  Once I realized that I had a chance to watch LOST from the beginning, I decided to leave it on and settled in to watch the first few episodes to see what all the moaning was about.

First I’ll say this.  How the Sci Fi Channel expects to keep an audience with 4+ minutes of commercials between a scant ten minutes of program is way beyond my powers of intellectual analysis.  First they turn off their core audience, then they blatantly ignore their new audience’s complete lack of attention span.  WTF?  Even I had trouble remembering what I was watching. 

This kind of thing only makes sense if you assume that the SICs real plan is to run the channel into the ground. If I were an investor, I’d hire one of those forensic accountants and have him do some forensicing. This might be one of those Zero Mostel ‘Producers’ deals…

Anyway, to get back to LOST.  Maybe I have just too damned much experience with movies, television shows and literature, but I found the whole thing A: boring, B: easily anticipated and C: stupid.

I will not be hanging on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next because I already know: the stereotyped characters will fulfill their roles as competent young doctor, snivelling coward, blonde bimbo, creepy guy, jolly fat man, cute young kid and such.  They’ll all do stupid, non-sensical, panicky things, fights will break out when the action slows down and the fright moments will be telegraphed from ten miles away.

That this is what passes for a blockbuster television show from the creative genius savior of television drama reminds me, sadly, of the fact that television audiences get what they deserve and what they can handle.  Which these days appears to be – not much.

Just a few examples from the first couple of episodes to illustrate my point:

The doctor, the Felon and the Drug Addict make their way the jet’s cockpit to retrieve the transceiver.  There they discover the Pilot still alive and are menaced by the GIANT SHADOW.  The Pilot, who could barely move, the one who’s been unconscious for 16 hours, STICKS HIS HEAD OUT THE BROKEN COCKPIT WINDOW and is, of course, immediately sucked out to oblivion, accompanied by screams and raining blood.

Don’t be embarrassed.  Raise your hand if this took you by surprise.  I knew the moment the pilot gasped his first fright-take gasp that he was a goner, and the moment I saw the broken cockpit window I knew he was gonna get sucked out of it. Double cliche. Boring.

THEN, everyone runs away from the comparative safety of the fuselage interior.  Riiiiiiight.  Call me a snivelling coward, but.  When there is a giant shadow-thing lurking in the jungle and you’re inside a cave, stay in the cave.  There was no compelling reason for the characters to leave. Sheer idiocy.  Boring.

Later, the Muslim manages to repair the transceiver and there is much anxiety over a fading battery.  Maybe this was some kind of oblique commentary on the  bankruptcy of Muslim extremism or something, but I think it was just poor writing.  If you can repair a transceiver, you can remove the battery or disconnect the leads.  When the battery is disconnected, the little demons inside can’t get out. Dumb. Boring.

The battery thing put the capper on this show for me. If the survivors are that stupid, there’s no point in rescuing them.  And no point in continuing to watch this poor excuse of a fantasy thriller.

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I hate the way the (biased) press and the pundits, not to mention the rabidly-blind partisans, twist the buzz words and get people to accept their new definitions through repeated vocal hammer blows to the temple.  Dems hardly dare use the word ‘liberal’ anymore because of its (incorrect) associations in the minds of a lot of the public.  Reps aren’t too fond of always be lumped in with the religious right either.

It got me thinking about the non-political usages of the words conservative and liberal.

Common parlance takes conservative to essentially mean – maintenance of the status quo.  Of course Republicans would have you believe it means ‘fiscal responsibility’ or ‘small government’ or even, in some cases, ‘traditional family values’, but in essence and in Websters it stands for the preservation of what’s happening now and/or a return to what was ‘good enough for grandpa’.  Change is bad, therefore we MUST fear it.

Liberal, to most people, means something like “empty-headed-animal-food-trough-wiper” (if I can borrow from Monty Python).  Tree-huggers, do-gooders, people who would allow pedophiles to run rampant in our streets because you really should look at both sides of an issue.  In other words, clueless idiocy.

What Websters says liberal really means is – Willing To Embrace Change.  Reform. Try new things, examine other options.

I can’t think of any other time in history when the original definitions of those two words – conservative and liberal – weren’t the perfect words to use in describing the two team’s running for office.

McCain/Palin: what else are they advocating except ‘stay the course’ and ‘turn the ship around so we can head back to the previous century”?  

They’ve got that fear of change element going on too: things may be bad economically (not that we’ll admit it) but they’ll get worse!  Terrorists will be living next door if we leave Iraq! Your child might read a library book (omg!) that will turn him or her into a homosexual!

Obama/Biden: Change. Change. Change. Change. Change.  Hey – a campaign funded by the people, not the special interests (OMG – change!) Talk BEFORE saber rattling (OMG – change!) Remember the Constitution. (OMG – BIG change!)

There are plenty of other people who write about these kinds of things a lot better than I can, but what I find truly ironic about the whole situation is that true conservatives – those who hew to the original definition and meaning of both the word and the politics – are well and truly screwed this election. On the one hand you’ve got Palin: A WOMAN!  OMFG!  CHANGE! and on the other you’ve got Obama: A BLACK MAN! OMbejeebusFG! CHANGE!

No matter how you slice it, Conservatives will be voting for CHANGE this year.  Hey, it’s a step in the left direction…


One day late on the update to Skiffy Tube’s SF Purity Rating.  I almost missed this unprecedented rise in SFnalness. Slightly more than 40%.  Why, that’s really close to FIFTY percent.  Which is like, half.


Don’t get too excited though. This temporary increase is only due to incessant airings of Tales From The Darkside (16 episodes on Monday – yeesh!) 8 hours of Doctor Who today (I know, not such a bad thing) and 10 hours of Star Gate franchises tomorrow.

Sarah Palin is presumably Sarah 24/7. If you take a LIBERAL approach to her belief systems, you could reasonably argue that the broadcast in her head is SF, which means that no matter what it does, Skiffy Tube will NEVER equal Palin’s SFPR.  Even if they showed TDTESS 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (which would be an improvement), they’re still gonna break for commercials, and I don’t think Palin ever does.

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Sometimes coming up with a decent blog entry is tough.

Sometimes it’s just way too easy.

Like today.

SFSignal pointed me to Retrospace, which has a piece on women’s clothing fashions of the future.  Retro makes the obvious observation that according to what we’ve seen from science fiction, women will be wearing short, short, short skirts.

Unfortunately, their history is wrong.

They state that the origin of SF-Minis is probably Anne Francis in Forbidden Planet.  Forbidden Planet was released in 1956 and was probably in production as early as ’53.

Here’s Dale Arden in 1940’s Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe:  


Looks to me like Dale Arden is wearing a micro-mini, and nifty little heeled booties, not to mention that fetching barracks cap with feather thing.

Me, I want the raygun rifle Flash is holding.

No.  I’m not being picky or pedantic.  When it comes to mini-skirts, shapely legs and thighs that “go all the way up to ‘here'”, I believe it is very important to get our facts straight.  VERY important.

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