Archive for the ‘Film and Television’ Category

Hey!  Great news, Mrs. Doubtfire fans.  21 years later, a sequel is finally in the works: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Mrs-Doubtfire-2-Works-42606.html

It will follow in the rich tradition of Basic Instinct 2, Blues Brothers 2000, Escape from L.A, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights – as sequels that were released after over a decade had passed since the original graced the big screen.  Here are some notable others…

The Evening Star, sequel to Terms of Endearment, released 13 years later.

The Two Jakes, sequel to Chinatown, released 16 years later.

An American Werewolf in Paris, sequel to An American Werewolf in London, released 16 years later.

The Rage: Carrie II, sequel to Carrie, released 22 years later.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, sequel to Wall Street, released 22 years later.

Psycho II, sequel to Psycho, released 22 years later.

The Odd Couple II, sequel to The Odd Couple, released 29 years later.

And here are some sequels  either rumoured to be in the works, in production, or coming soon to a theater near you…

Bad Santa 2 (11 years later)

Beetlejuice 2 (16 years later)

Blade Runner 2 (22 years later)

Dumb and Dumber To (20 years later)

Goonies 2 (29 years later)

Independence Day 2 (18 years later)

Rounders 2 (26 years later)

Shakespeare in Love 2 (16 years later)

Top Gun 2 (28 years later)

Trainspotting 2 (18 years later)

Triplets (sequel to Twin – 26 years later)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 (26 years later)

Zoolander 2 (13 years later)

Which one are you looking forward to the least?

The afore-mentioned lists got me thinking about some of the great movies that REALLY need sequels.  Dear Hollywood, if they’re not already in the works, might I suggest:

The Sixth Sense 2: The Seventh Sense

Apocalypse Now 2: I Love the Smell of Napalm at Night Too!

Forrest Gump 2: Still Running

Casablanca 2: Play It Again, Sam

Better Off Dead 2: I Want my Two Dollars!  Plus Interest!  Which Would Now Make it About Two Fifty!

A Few Good Men: You Couldn’t Handle the Truth So We Apportioned it over Two Movies

Titanic 2: My Heart Still Going On

On the Waterfront 2: The Contender

Taxi Driver 2: Are You STILL Talkin’ to Me?

Field of Dreams 2: If You Produce It, They Will Come

Gone With the Wind: Tomorrow is Another Movie

Citizen Kane 2: Charlie and Rosebud, the Early Years

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Inquisition!

1Clip show alert!  Clip show alert!  Alas, the notion of the money-saver was completely lost on Akemi who, partway through Inquisition, turned to me, brow furrowed and remarked: “Just replaying parts of episodes we’ve already seen.”  Well, yes.  That’s the point of the clip show, the high point of any season.  It’s a very special episode that, in its short run time, manages to pack in all of the very best of what has come before.  It’s like a bowlful of only the red skittles.  That have passed, undigested through the alimentary canal of an Asian palm civet cat.

Apparently, they don’t do that sort of thing in Japan.

Surprisingly, however, this episode went over quite well, owing to the fact that many of these repeat clips were actually new to Akemi who missed seasons 2 through 4.  Plenty of “oohs” and “aaahs” throughout those amazing space battles.

“Toby!” she called when actor Thobias Slezak – and occasional guest to our home during the football season – showed up on screen.  Although it was, I thought, a sizeable enough appearance, she was somewhat disappointed: “Toby’s part is very small again [a reference to his turn as the doomed Peter in SGU's Visitation].  Too small!”

And a minor quibble for the prop department.  She hated the glasses Woolsey and Sheppard were drinking whisky out of at episode’s end because we own those very same glasses and it shattered the illusion: “Same glass as you are drinking almond milk out of.”

Overall, even though she had a hard time following (and I had an equally hard time explaining): “I liked it.  I was happy to see so much computer graphics.  I liked the fact it summarized everything because I missed so many episodes.”  And, she’s up to date!

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Our Food Purchase of the Day video series returns with a most undelightful soda…

Akemi samples the soda, fails to offer a review, and then gets distracted by a bee…

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Tracker!

1A great episode from start to finish.  Unlike many of the episodes I can nitpick after repeat viewings, this one actually gets better with time.  A great, fun, fast-paced script by Carl Binder.  One of my favorites.

And Akemi loved it as well.

When I told her that Carl wrote the script: “Binder-san!”

And when she spotted actor Mike Dopud, who she instantly recognized even though his back was turned to camera in his very first shot: “Mike Dopud!”  By the way, it’s never just “Mike”.  It’s always the complete “Mike Dopud”.

Akemi was on the edge of her seat (aka the bed) throughout and a couple of moments made her jump and scream – once so suddenly and loudly that a startled Bubba got up and moved over to my side of the bed where he spent the rest of the night.

On the wraith sport of hunting runners: “What game wraith play?  So bad taste. Who want to do it?  High risk, no?”  Hey, you won’t even catch me driving the extra three blocks for bison burgers, much less hunting armed prey for sport.

Not much in the way of dazzling visual effects in this one, but she did praise the shot of the teleportation device fastening itself to Kiryk’s wrist: “Looks really real!”. Yep, that’s what we were going for.

Some sadness when Kiryk disappears through the gate, taking the wraith with him, and it became apparent to Akemi that he wouldn’t be hanging around: “Mike Dopud doesn’t join Atlantis?”  I told her, sadly, no.  She was disappointed and then, upon further reflection: “Poor Mike Dopud.  They don’t need two handsome guys. Just one handsome guy and done.”  It would’ve been like having TWO archaeologists on SG-1!

Finally, she loved the romantic rivalry between McKay and Ronon.  On the one hand, I know that she finds Ronon very handsome, but on the other I know she finds McKay quite loveable, so I had to ask which one she would choose.  After some consideration, she finally answered: “McKay.  I like geek boy more than handsome guy.”  Uh, in this particular case or in general?  Never mind.

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1A team of four women are are set out to explore a mysterious region known as Area X. By all accounts, they are the twelfth group to journey into the bizarre amazon-like territory.  All of the previous expeditions have ended badly, marked by murders, suicides, disappearances, and, in the case of the eleventh, the inexplicable return of its members, sickened and psychologically broken by their experience.  Our narrator, a biologist, apprises us of her team’s progress as they venture deep into Area X, making strange discoveries and unearthing hidden agendas, all the while dogged by a creeping suspicion that all is not right…

This book is admittedly weird but, surprisingly, actually the most grounded of author Jeff VanderMeer’s considerably weirder body of work.  It’s a seemingly straightforward tale rooted in science and exploration that, slowly but surely, veers into the dreaded unknown.  No mushroom people or squid-like creatures plague the pages of this book which, nevertheless, possesses an undercurrent of simmering horror reminiscent of Lovecraft.  It also reminded me of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves with its slow burn mounting sense of foreboding.  Or, for more t.v.-centered readers, it feels like a deeper, more nuanced, intellectually-provocative version of Lost.

As we bounce back and forth between the present and the past, gaining insight through our protagonist’s journal entries – a narrative device that, unlike most first person accounts, offers no assurances regarding the fate of our narrator – the secrets of Area X open up to us, offering glimpses but no real answers.  Though if the answers ultimately do come, one can’t help but wonder:  Will we be able to understand them or will we, like our narrator in one of the book’s most brilliant passages, be so overcome by its otherworldly nature that we’ll be incapable of processing the truth?

Regardless of where we end up, Annihilation is a hell of a ride.  VanderMeer does a masterful job of gradually immersing us in this uncanny environment, every eerie encounter and bewildering find drawing us in ever further until, by the time our protagonist makes her final descent into “the tower”, we find ourselves equally ensnared, unable to turn back and unsee what we have witnessed, unlearn what we’ve been told.  With the reminder that the tiny microcosms that thrive under our noses, taken for granted and largely ignored, may hold the key to some vaster enigma far beyond our imaginings, can we ever look at them the same way again? Our reality is teeming with potential alien incursions and the Devil may well be in the details.

I’m a big fan of Jeff VanderMeer and liked this book a lot.  What kept me from loving this book is the fact that, despite being a self-contained chapter of a larger work, it’s incomplete.   Granted, the second and third volumes of the Southern Reach Trilogy will follow in fairly quick succession (book #2 comes out in May and book #3 in September), but I don’t understand why all three weren’t simply released as a single volume.  Okay, scratch that.  I understand why.  It’s more lucrative for the publisher.  Still, it’s annoying, especially given that I’m in the process of reading another book, The Weird, edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, that clocks in at a hefty 1100 pages.  And those oversized pages hold twice the print of a regular page so the final tally is closer to 2200!   And yet HarperCollins felt the need to make this a trilogy?

Overall, an engaging and enjoyable read.   I look forward to the second book, Authority, with equal measures eagerness, curiosity, and annoyance.

Let the discussion begin!

1Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Broken Ties.

Yes, this one was mine and, upon review, I think it takes a while to get going.  But, once they’re in the wraith lab – What fun!

Akemi liked the episode – less for the story itself and more for the surprise highlights like…the shocking reveal of actor Mark Dacascos in the tease: “Wha!  Chairman!” And she was downright delighted with his performance: “I’ve never heard the Chairman talk so much.”  In truth, Mark is a lot more soft-spoken the chatty Tyre. Also a lot more laid-back.  And much less likely to ambush you in deserted forest.

Another highlight for Akemi was dog-related = Woolsey’s emotional reflection on his beloved yorkie, lost in the divorce.

And, of course, the sword fight at episode’s end (compliments of longtime Atlantis stunt coordinator James “Bam Bam” Bamford) mightily impressed.

On the flipside, she was saddened by Tyre’s death (“Very sad because I liked the chairman”), found some of the dim lighting in certain scenes annoying (“I couldn’t see very well the getting old getting young parts!”), and had a difficult time understanding what was going on at first (“Chotto confusing because I skipped so many episodes.  My fault.”).

Ultimately, Tyre reminded Akemi of another character in another Stargate series: “Chairman remind me of Chef’s [Lou Diamond Phillip's] character a bit.  Gets brainwashed, now clear but pretending to be brainwashed.  Chef stole idea from Chairman.”  Doubtful, but an interesting take nevertheless.

Plug in your top-loading VCR’s and put your video cassette on standby.  Tonight, we watch: The Daedalus Variations!

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1Check out our houseguest, the love of my buddy Tio’s life, the lovely Petunia.  She’s here for a sleepover and has come armed with her own pink bed, pink blanket, and snacks.  According to Tio, she’s a snuggler, so tonight will be interesting.  Four dogs on the bed.  Just like old times!

But Petunia wasn’t the only houseguest we entertained.  Earlier today, our friends Jeff and Barb dropped by for pecan pie, ice cream, drinks and, of course, dogs…


Lulu and Barb hit it off.


Jeff and the Yamazaki 18 year old whisky also really hit it off.


Family shot!

And, for no other reason than the fact that I’m already posting dog pictures, here’s a photo I snapped of Bubba last night sporting his samurai helmet…


Samurai pug!

I received an email today from our old friend, Trevor in Toronto, who alerted me to GraphTV, a site that charts a show’s performance based on viewer response over time.

Stargate: SG-1…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.52.31 PM

Stargate: Atlantis…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.54.30 PMAs Trevor pointed out, a lot “of shows fluctuate quite a lot, either up or down, but the what is clear from the graphs is SG-1 and Atlantis are some of the most consistent series ever made.”

As for Stargate: Universe, the breakdown is also telling…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.57.17 PMAnd, again, Trevor says it best: “and it’s painful to see the SGU graph, because clearly that show was awesome and gaining momentum…”

Check out how your favorite shows fared here: http://io9.com/these-graphs-show-precisely-when-your-favorite-tv-show-1554419978

Or do your own research here: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/

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Release Date: April 2, 2014

What it’s about: Following a near-death experience, an ex-felon safecracker attempts to re-connect with his estranged daughter – and pull off one final score.

What it’s got working for it: The trailer suggests a movie with a Sexy Beast, Layer Cake, Lock Sock and Two Smoking Barrels feel.  Three movies I quite enjoyed.

What’s it’s got going against it: I’m admittedly reluctant to embrace Jude Law as an aging tough.  But I’m perfectly willing to be won over.



Release Date: April 4, 2014

What it’s about: A documentary on the true life 1930′s murder mystery on the Galapagos Island.

What it’s got working for it: It’s like a very dark Gilligan’s Island.

What’s it’s got going against it: The fact that the truth surrounding the strange events remains a mystery could leave some viewers unsatisfied.



Release Date: April 4, 2014

What it’s about: The internet crashes.  Society soon follows.

What it’s got working for it: Rather than focusing on the large-scale destruction of our civilization, this movie instead tells a more personal story about a close-knit group trying to weather the storm.

What it’s got going against it: The trailer doesn’t pack the promised weight.



Release Date: April 4, 2014

What it’s about: An alien predator takes human form to hunt her prey but, in time, begins to embrace her humanity.

What it’s got working for it: Looks spooky.  And unique.

What it’s got going against it: It faces the challenge of covering ground already well worn by the Species series.



Release Date: April 4, 2014

What it’s about: From the barren desert delta to the biggest arch dam in the world, this documentary studies our relationship with water.

What it’s got working for it: Shot in 5k ultra high def.  Stunning scenery.

What it’s got going against it: It’s a movie about water.  90 minutes worth of interesting?  Maybe.



Release Date: April 11, 2014

What it’s about: The story of Jayson Blair, one of the most shocking serial plagiarists in history.

What it’s got working for it: The curiosity factor.  How did he get away with it for so long?

What it’s got going against it: Hopefully not a movie that celebrates this word thief.



Release Date: April 18, 2014

What it’s about: A down on his luck salesman is offered rewards for the completion of 13 sinister tasks.

What it’s got working for it: An intriguing premise.

What it’s got going against it: Nicholas Cage has never been all that picky about the types of movies he’ll do.  Could be very interesting.  Or just plain awful.



Release Date: April 18, 2014

What it’s about: Two women in a support group form a bond that engenders dark consequences.

What it’s got working for it: Looks like a suspenseful thriller.  In the tradition of Single White Female?

What it’s got going against it: The performances seem a little shaky…but it could just be the edit.


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Release Date: April 3, 2014

What it’s about: Captain America teams up with the Black Widow and the Falcon to unravel a mysterious conspiracy and battle an enigmatic enemy known as…The Winter Soldier.

What it’s got working for it: The trailer suggests a good-looking movie.

What’s it’s got going against it: Also looks a little hokey.



Release Date: April 11, 2014

What it’s about: The general manager of the Cleveland Browns attempts to pull of a huge deal on draft day.

What it’s got working for it: The rare participation of the NFL in a feature film.  And some possible insight into the draft day process.

What’s it’s got going against it: Given the NFL’s participation, don’t expect any hard-hitting or surprising insights.



Release Date: April 11, 2014

What it’s about: Ten years after the disappearance of their parents, a brother and sister look for answers in an antique mirror.

What it’s got working for it: There is that promisingly cool scene where the brother and sister see themselves through the open window.

What’s it’s got going against it: Everything else in that trailer?  Been there; seen that.



Release Date: April 11, 2014

What it’s about: Those birds from the first movie vacation in the amazon.

What it’s got working for it: If you like the first one, you’ll probably enjoy the sequel as well.

What’s it’s got going against it: The trailer?  Let’s assume they’re saving the funny bits for the actual big screen experience.



Release Date: April 16, 2014

What it’s about: A boy survives a near-death experience and returns with knowledge of things he couldn’t possibly know about.

What it’s got working for it: An interesting and hopeful premise.  “Inspired by a true story”.

What’s it’s got going against it: The more pessimistic will question the honesty of the source material.



Release Date: April 18, 2014

What it’s about: In 1864, a young African-American boy is enlisted by bounty hunters to entrap a fugitive freedman.

What it’s got working for it: An interesting dilemma for our young hero who must struggle to choose between fear and respect, old and newfound loyalties.

What’s it’s got going against it: If you watch the trailer, you’ll note he doesn’t struggle very long.  Looks fairly straightforward.



Release Date: April 18, 2014

What it’s about: The singularity is here!  A scientist becomes the surprising catalyst for the Artificial Intelligence he seeks to create.

What it’s got working for it: Not exactly original, but Johnny Depp’s involvement holds promise.

What’s it’s got going against it: Remember The Tourist?  Dark Shadows?



Release Date: April 18, 2014

What it’s about: In one of his final films, Paul Walker plays an undercover cop who must team with an ex-con to take on a ruthless criminal hiding within the walls of a fortified future Detroit.

What it’s got working for it: Luc Besson’s movies can be fun (ie. The Professional, The Transporter, The Fifth Element).

What’s it’s got going against it: And, other times, horrendous.  Anybody catch The Family?

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I received the following news link from about two dozen sources today: Syfy network shifts away from broad dramas and B-movies to its genre roots as it attempts to find the next “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones.”

Apparently, SyFy is looking to produce a space opera, the SF equivalent of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  Presumably, a serialized show with intriguing characters and relationships, twists and turns, surprises galore.  Maybe, oh, off the top of my head, something like…



Excerpt from the March 13th, 2014 article: “The network shifts away from broad dramas and B-moves to its genre roots as it attempts to find the next “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones”.

Excerpt from the Dark Matter series overview: “What Game of Thrones did for the fantasy genre and The Walking Dead did for the horror genre, we want to do for the scifi genre…”

How perfect!  I’ll have my people call your people (phone calls or names, depending on how things pan out).

2In other SF t.v.-related developments, it looks like Frederik Pohl’s Gateway  maybe be headed to a t.v. (or, knowing many of you, laptop/computer) near you: EOne & De Laurentiis Co. To Adapt Frederik Pohl’s Sci-Fi Classic …  A great book with plenty of t.v. potential – so much so, in fact, that it’s been on my radar for years now.  As recently as December, I was pitching a production company that it would make a great television series.

“A great idea for a series. An asteroid is discovered near Venus that contains thousands of ancient alien ships. Each ship is good for one return trip to a pre-programmed destination, and the crews don’t know where they are going or for how long until they get there. Sometimes they return with amazing stories and new technology, sometimes they return as lumps of molten metal, or don’t return at all.” (http://momentumbooks.com.au/blog/ten-science-fiction-books-that-would-make-great-tv-series/).

1This follows the news that, back in February, FreemantleMedia acquired the film & television rights to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.  This one would be much trickier to adapt but, like Gateway, has enormous potential in the right hands – and with the right creative vision.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 4.26.06 PMAlso this morning, I received this link: http://www.gateworld.net/news/2014/03/stargates-legacy-a-video-introduction/ to an article and first instalment of a Gateworld column by longtime Stargate fan Adam Barnard.  In it, he discusses what the franchise has meant to him and his plans to spotlight three personally meaningful episodes from each of the Stargate shows: SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.  According to Adam: “ I will examine three episodes from each of the three Stargate series — SG-1Atlantis, and Universe — that I found to be specifically noteworthy. Not because they were the most entertaining or flashiest, but because they were unique, thought provoking, inspiring, or communicative of a theme or idea that resonated with me.” Interesting, no?  So, which three episodes of each series left a lasting impression on you?  How has Stargate influenced your lives?  Head on over to Gateworld and weigh in with your thoughts…


Speaking of Gateworld, I’ve received oodles of emails (I do like the sound of that. Say it.  “Oodles of emails”!) directing me to this story on Gateworld: BOOM! Unfilmed Stargate: Extinction Movie Script May Be A Comic Series

Alas, nothing much for me to say here outside of: 1. Sounds like a terrific idea, 2. BOOM! Studios produces awesome titles, 3. Ultimately, the decision or whether Stargate continues to live on as the television franchise we all love, or is rebooted for the big screen, is MGM’s to make.

Finally, recent releases, and upcoming releases, from some of the authors who have kindly taken the time to come chat with us in the past:


The Compleat Crow by Brian Lumley 

To many thousands of readers world-wide Titus Crow is the psychic sleuth–the cosmic voyager and investigator–of Brian Lumley’s Cthulhu Mythos novels, from The Burrowers Beneath to Elysia.  But before The Burrowers and Crow’s Transition, his exploits were chronicled in a series of short stories and novellas uncollected in the USA except in limited editions. Now these stories can be told again. From Inception which tells of Crow’s origins, to The Black Recalled, a tale of vengeance from beyond the grave, here in one volume, from the best-selling author of the epic Necroscope series, is The Complete Crow.

The author visited us to discuss his novel, NecroscopeNovember 16, 2008: Author Brian Lumley Answers Your Questions

1The End is Nigh edited by John Joseph Adams

Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. THE END IS NIGH focuses on life before the apocalypse. THE END IS NOW turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And THE END HAS COME focuses on life after the apocalypse. 

Visited us to discuss The Living Dead zombie anthology: February 5, 2009: Editor J.J. Adams Answers Your Questions

1The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer – Available March 18th

The Time Traveler’s Almanac is the largest and most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by intrepid chrononauts and world-renowned anthologists Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, this book compiles more than a century’s worth of literary travels into the past and the future that will serve to reacquaint readers with beloved classics of the time travel genre and introduce them to thrilling contemporary innovations.

Author Jeff VanderMeer visited with us to discuss his novel City of Saints and MadmenJanuary 29, 2009: Author Jeff Vandermeer Sweeps In – Like A Mini-Hurricane!

He also has this novel out:

1Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.  Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

Which happens to be our April Book of the Month Club pick (as if you didn’t know!).

1Working God’s Mischief (Instrumentalities of the Night) By Glen Cook

Arnhand, Castauriga, and Navaya lost their kings. The Grail Empire lost its empress. The Church lost its Patriarch, though he lives on as a fugitive. The Night lost Kharoulke the Windwalker, an emperor amongst the most primal and terrible gods. The Night goes on, in dread.  The world goes on, in dread.  The ice builds and slides southward. 

New kings come. A new empress will rule. Another rump polishes the Patriarchal Throne.   But there is something new under the sun. The oldest and fiercest of the Instrumentalities has been destroyed–by a mortal. There is no new Windwalker, nor will there ever be.

The world, battered by savage change, limps toward its destiny. And the ice is coming. 

Author Glen Cook visited with us to discuss his novel The Black CompanyOctober 7, 2008: Author Glen Cook Answers Your Questions

 1Labyrinth of Stars (A Hunter Kiss novel) by Marjorie M. Liu

After the Aetar nearly kill Maxine’s unborn child, and a betrayal within her own ranks leaves Maxine’s husband, Grant, poisoned and dying, Maxine is forced to attack a race of beings that possesses almost unlimited power. Doing so will require she make a deal with the devil—the devil that lives inside her—risking both her sanity and her soul as she slowly transforms into something more than human.
But even that might not be enough to save Grant, because the very thing that Maxine is becoming is destined to destroy the world.

Author Marjorie M. Liu visited with us to discuss her novel The Iron HuntJanuary 17, 2011: The Iron Hunt, by Marjorie M. Liu

1Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories by Adam-Troy Castro

A utopia where the most privileged get to do whatever they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims via the bodies whose wombs they occupy; a soldier’s wife tries to love a husband who is little more than backup memory; a society in which the citizens all make merry for nine remarkable days, and on the tenth get a taste of hell; the last ragged survivors of an expedition to a savage backwater world hunt down an infamous war criminal; a divorcing couple confront their myriad troubles to gain resolution, reason, respect – but not without sacrifice. Introducing these stories (and more) from Adam-Troy Castro, whose short fiction has been nominated for two Hugos, three Stokers, and eight Nebulas.

Author Adam Troy-Castro visited with us to discuss his novel Emissaries from the DeadNovember 15, 2009: Author Adam-Troy Castro Answers Your Questions!

1Like a Mighty Army by David Weber

For centuries, the world of Safehold, last redoubt of the human race, lay under the unchallenged rule of the Church of God Awaiting. The Church permitted nothing new—no new inventions, no new understandings of the world.  What no one knew was that the Church was an elaborate fraud—a high-tech system established by a rebel faction of Safehold’s founders, meant to keep humanity hidden from the powerful alien race that had destroyed old Earth.

Then awoke Merlyn Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of a warrior a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which Earth was lost. Monk, warrior, counselor to princes and kings, Merlyn has one purpose: to restart the history of the too-long-hidden human race.

And now the fight is thoroughly underway. The island empire of Charis has declared its independence from the Church, and with Merlyn’s help has vaulted forward into a new age of steam-powered efficiency. Fending off the wounded Church, Charis has drawn more and more of the countries of Safehold to the cause of independence and self-determination. But at a heavy cost in bloodshed and loss—a cost felt by nobody more keenly that Merlyn Athrawes.

The wounded Church is regrouping. Its armies and resources are vast. The fight for humanity’s future isn’t over, and won’t be over soon…

Author David Weber visited with us to discuss his novel On Basilisk StationJanuary 17, 2009: Author David Weber Answers Yours Questions

If there’s anyone I’ve missed, let me know!

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MFB writes: “Since I like this kind of stuff I thought I’d share some boards that I’ve collected from writers’ rooms of other shows and one movie.


About the Breaking Bad boards: The stories were spun and broken to cards in the room. Then the cards were taken off of the board and photocopied and the photocopies were used as outlines to write the scripts from. (I found it odd that there wasn’t any deviation from the board to the outline.)

Joe, it would be much appreciated if you could post pictures of boards from any episode but in particular a board from “Wormhole X-treme!” would be great. It is one of my favorites and includes a cameo from one of my favorite writers(guess who?). It would also go nicely with my script of that episode.”

Great stuff, MFB.  And thanks for the link.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photographs of any of the stories we put up on the white board.  Right after we’d finish breaking, I would copy everything to my laptop and work off that word document, filling it in as I built my outlines.  I do know, however, that Martin Gero used to snap a photo of his white board breakdowns and work off those.  I don’t know if he kept any of the pics for posterity’s sake (or “prosperity’s sake” as one of my former girlfriends used to say), but you could ask him over at: https://twitter.com/martingero

As for the various photos (history of the Stargate writers’ room whiteboard – see yesterday’s blog entry), I offer you the following insights:

1. CARL DIGGING IN: The writers’ room was also the defacto screening room, impromptu meeting room, and lunch room.  Pictured here, our mischievous fellow Executive Producer/Writer about to dig into his bag of take-out.  Behind him, on the white board, initial work on the episode that would become Millers Crossing.

2. SNACKING: Over the course of my time on Stargate, I would occasionally receive gifts in the mail from fans.  Here, I sample a sweet treat compliments of longtime blog reader Carolina who, in addition to tasty dessert, also sent along some canned duck!  Behind me, the breakdown of Miller’s Crossing is complete.  And, as usual, we would always include a little note for the cleaning crew: DO NOT ERASE!

3. THE RED IMP: This little goblin compliments of artist (and former in-house digital and playback supervisor Krista McLean).  She put it up on a far corner of the white board and there it remained for over a season – until my writing partner, Paul, eventually got creeped out and erased it.

4. SURVIVOR STARGATE STYLE: Martin Gero pitched out an idea for the episode that would eventually become Trio.  In his basic premise, McKay and…someone ended up trapped for the entirety of the episode.  But who?  Should we trap him with Carter?  Or Keller?  Or maybe both Carter and Keller.  After much discussion, we decided to put it to a Survivor style vote.  Each writer scribbled their anonymous picks on a piece of paper.  Martin each one in turn and let the democratic process decide!

5. FOXY LOXY WITH FLOPPY SOCKSIES: Every time I would upload a photo from the writers’ room to this blog, I would be extra careful to ensure I never unintentionally revealed spoilers for the upcoming season.  In this case, I decided to go the opposite route and “unwittingly” intentionally post the breakdown of a fictitious episode in which every act ends with our heroes facing certain death…only to come back after commercial where we reveal it was all a simulation designed to train them for the REAL mission.  After a string of successive fakeouts, the team  is finally ready to head out on the mission…which will have to wait until Part II.  I was surprised that a couple of eagle-eyed fans were actually able to decipher my scrawl and offer a clear translation of the story.  Even more surprised that a couple of fans actually said: “This would make a great episode!”

6. THE BW SPECIAL: Placeholder titles are always a pain in the ass.  They ranged from all-encompassingly general to annoyingly specific.  In this case, we all knew what a BW (Brad Wright) Special promised: a strange scenario, cool SF elements, and great character moments.  The rest invariably wrote itself.

7. ATLANTIS 5: After production had ended on a season and the cast and crew had left, the writer-producers would assemble and start preparing for next year.  There was nothing more frightening than a blank white board, so one of us made the effort to get us started.

8. CARL’S GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST STORY: It seemed that half of the scripts Carl Binder wrote for the show were ghost-related.  Either our heroes were seeing ghosts or dealing with ghosts or becoming ghosts themselves or some variation thereof.  So we thought it only appropriate that we assign him the special Stargate Christmas episode.

9. PREPPING SEASON 5: Martin Gero goes through some ancient documents from the storage closet.  On the white board behind him are the seeds to some season 5 story ideas, some of which made the cut (Joe’s Ronon/Tyre story became Broken Ties) while others did not (my Wages of Fear story would have rocked…if I had actually been successful in coming up with five acts and a tease).

10. SHHHHHH: The secrecy of the writers’ room.  In response to the network’s request for a “Green episode”, Martin Gero comes up with Snow Globe – which would later be renamed  Brainstorm.

11. SQUIGGLE GUY: I honestly don’t remember.  I want to say it was our artist’s rendition of the unintentionally hilarious Pepto Bismal monster from Ephiphany, but the timeline doesn’t match up.

12. AU SEASON 6: Ah, what might have been.  I offered insight into these potential stories here: September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!, including Alan McCullough’s infamous Hamster Ball pitch.

13. DOSTOYEVSKY IN THE ROOM: The breakdown for SGU’s Crime and Punishment which would later be renamed Justice.

14. 12 12 12: Heated debates on the logic of proposed SF, particularly time travel-related pitches would always involve diagrams.  This was, I believe, a rather straightforward explanation of the time travel logic grounding Twin Destinies.

15. CARL AND…?:  I honestly don’t recall.  What were we discussing here?  Ship to ship transmissions?  Gravity wells?  Oreos?

16. SPACE FLOWERS: Well, that’s definitely Destiny.  Not sure what the deal was with the space flowers.  Perhaps some drawings to inspire us for the episode Faith?

17. PURSUIT: Pretty obvious, huh?  Alien vessels/drones pursue Destiny, forcing it to fly through a nearby star to lose them.

18. IT WAS ALL A DREAM: A gag, sure, but we’ve done plenty of variations (Home, The Real World, Remnants) to name but a few.

19. INCURSION: The rough beats to the Incursion two-parter that was originally envisioned as a one-parter.

20. DESTINY VS. THE SPACE DOLPHINS: Ah, the space dolphins.  A riff on the whales we introduced back on Stargate: Atlantis. In a later episode, First Strike, it was suggested Atlantis abandon the planet, leaving it to be destroyed.  Robert Cooper objected to this solution on the grounds that we had gone through all the trouble of establishing and saving those whales, only to abandon them.  I suggested a compromise where, as Atlantis rises up off the planets surface, we see the whales sprout wings and fly off for safer skies.  Martin Gero dubbed them Whangels.  Alas, they didn’t make the cut. :(

21. ELVEN FOOT: I believe this is one of those cases where we misheard the actual title, but the mistaken title was simply too good to dismiss.

22. POST-LUNCH MALAISE: A typical post-lunch scene includes a sleepy Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, my hot sauces, and remnants of lunch.  Behind Lawren, the breakdown of an episode involving Amanda Perry.

23. YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE: Ship to ship communications?  Gravity wells?  Oreos?

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THIS guy -


1- is, of course, former Stargate Executive Producer and writer Carl Binder who called me this morning to catch up.  Coincidentally, I was just thinking about him the other day and was meaning to give HIM a call after Akemi inquired: “How’s Binder-san?”.  Well, Binder-san is doing great and keeping busy with several projects on the go.  Like Paul and I, he’ll be hearing back on his various irons in the fire shortly.  Yep, very soon we’re all going to finally get word.  Rob, Carl, Paul and myself.  With a half dozen projects between us, you’d figure the chances are good, right?  How good?

I’d love to get back into production sooner than later if, for no other reason, than the opportunity to once again work with THIS guy -


1Meanwhile, THIS gal -

1- goes in for surgery tomorrow.  Wish her luck!

And now, following yesterday’s entry on some of the March movie releases that caught my eye, here are some of the under-the-radar releases to look forward to next month.  Or not.



Release Date: March 5, 2014

What it’s about: The launch of the Large Hadron Collider

What it’s got working for it: An inside look at one of history’s biggest and most expensive experiments.

What’s it’s got going against it: Science can be fun.  But, sometimes, it can be boring.



Release Date: March 7, 2014

What it’s about: A concierge and lobby boy contend with some coloful guests at the Grand Budapest Hotel.

What it’s got working for it: If you like Wes Anderson’s quirky sensibilities, this movie looks promising.

What’s it’s got going against it:  On the other hand, if you find his sense of humor annoying, you might want to give this movie a pass.



Release Date: March 7, 2014

What it’s about: A concert pianist performs under the watchful eye of a sniper, burdened by the treat scribbled on his sheet music: “Play one wrong note and you die.”.

What it’s got working for it: The premise sounds like Speed at a piano concerto.

What’s it’s got going against it: Actually, it sounds like an SNL parody of Speed – at a a piano concerto.  When was Brian DePalma’s last good movie?



Release Date: March 7, 2014

What it’s about: A university lecturer tracks down his doppelgänger.

What it’s got working for it: Could be creepy.

What’s it’s got going against it: Or unintetionally silly.



Release Date: March 14, 2014

What it’s about: Two teenagers seek revenge against a murderer.

What it’s got working for it: Based on a true story.

What’s it’s got going against it: As always, there’s the danger of dramatic license trumping a satisfyingly straightforward dramatization of fact.



Release Date: March 14, 2014

What it’s about:  Veronica Mars is back on the case when her ex-boyfriend is accused of murder.

What it’s got working for it: Three seasons of t.v. history and a rabid fan base.

What’s it’s got going against it: Television shows rarely make the successful leap to the big screen.



Release Date: March 21, 2014

What it’s about: In New York of the 1970′s, a cop must deal with the problems engendered by his ex-con brother.

What it’s got working for it: A solid cast.

What’s it’s got going against it: Ho hum, it feels like we’ve seen it all before.



Release Date: March 21, 2014

What it’s about: A mysterious couple engages two hard-luck friends in a  series of increasingly dares for cash.

What it’s got working for it: Possibly a cutting social satire.

What’s it’s got going against it: Or, on the other hand, just a nasty piece of filmmaking.

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Again, a big thank you to those who have taken the time to introduce (and reintroduce) themselves in the comments section of this blog.  Not surprisingly, a lot of scifi fans among you.  Somewhat surprisingly, A LOT of animal lovers as well!  :)

It’s been great learning a little about the individuals who make up our extended blog family so, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to say hi.

A few of the upcoming releases that caught my eye…



300: Rise of an Empire

Release Date: February 7, 2014

What it’s about: The sequel to 300 pits Greek General Themistokles against an invading Persian army.

What it’s got working for it: The original 300 was an entertaining visual treat.

What’s it’s got going against it: Eight years later and audiences will be expecting more than a visual and narrative retread.


Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Release Date: February 7, 2014

What it’s about: The time-traveling adventures of a brilliant talking dog and his equally brilliant young owns.

What it’s got working for it: If it’s as clever as the original cartoon, viewers of all ages are in for a treat.

What’s it’s got going against it: The fact that no attempt was mad to recapture the spirit of the original voices bodes ill for this reboot.


The Art of the Steal

Release Date: February 14, 2014

What it’s about: A former art thief must get his old gang back together for one last heist.

What it’s got working for it: Who doesn’t like a good heist movie?

What’s it’s got going against it: Covers some well worn – one might even say cliched – territory.


Bad Words

Release Date: February 14, 2014

What it’s about: A 40 year old man exploits a loophole in the rules and takes a run at the hitherto “children only” Golden Quill national spelling bee.

What it’s got working for it: A pretty funny premise.

What’s it’s got going against it: At some point its sure to take that heartwarming, redemptive turn.  And, when it inevitably does, it will hopefully be more cutting than cloying.



Release Date: February 21, 2014

What it’s about: The Muppets become embroiled in an international caper.

What it’s got working for it: Come on!  It’s the Muppets!

What’s it’s got going against it: That shot of Kermit doing the Dr. Evil impression feels dangerously dated.


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