SyFy Awards: Firefly a Winner

Even though it hasn’t been on the air in two years, Firefly took six awards in the popularly judged SyFy Genre Awards (hosted by SyFy Portal) this year.

The SciFi Channel aired three first-run episodes of the short lived series last season, qualifying the series for consideration in the awards this year. Loyal fans of the show clearly came through with support, giving it the ‘best series’ award for 2006, beating out SciFi’s own Battlestar Galactica.

The Firefly winners were:

BEST ACTOR/Television
WINNER:
Nathan Fillion, “Firefly”
RUNNER-UP: Matthew Fox, “Lost.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/Television
WINNER:
Adam Baldwin, “Firefly”
RUNNER-UP: Terry O’Quinn, “Lost.”

BEST SPECIAL GUEST/Television
WINNER:
Christina Hendricks, “Trash,” Firefly
RUNNER-UP: Claudia Black, “Avalon, Part 1,” Stargate SG-1

BEST EPISODE/Television
WINNER:
“Trash,” Firefly
RUNNER-UP: “Dalek,” Doctor Who

BEST Series/Television
WINNER:
Firefly
RUNNER-UP: Lost

The complete list of this years awards can be found here: http://www.syfyportal.com/news.php?id=2895

As the founder of Syfy Portal (Michael Hinman) observed “These types of wins shows how important fan bases are, and how effective they can be in fan-voted awards such as this,” “While some might question how much power these fanbases have, it is the fanbases that ultimately helps decide the fates of television shows and movies.”

The Wiki entry for a complete list and history can be found here: SyFy Genre Awards

Classic Trek Gets a Makeover

This could amount to sacrilege. They are updating the special effects for all 79 of the Classic Star Trek episodes, giving them all new computer generated effects shots.

I’m withholding judgment on this until I see the finished product. But I’m not holding my breath, either. The primitive effects are just fine with me. I don’t need my classic Enterprise to have ‘go fast’ stripes.

I’ve never seen the revised versions of the first two seasons of Red Dwarf. They went through a similar process of updating. Like Doctor Who and its ships on strings, there is something appropriate about old campy SciFi having visibly dated special effects, especially if there is an air of humor to the program.

On the other hand, I liked the revised versions of Star Wars, with the exception of the Whussification of Han Solo. So updated effects might be OK with me…

…and then there is the urge to tinker with the show. The episode “The Enterprise Incident” for example. Here’s a chance to finally put the Romulans in Romulan ships instead of the Klingon ships that were originally used. After all, why not? The Klingon Bird of Prey that is used for most of the movies and all of Next Gen owes it’s existence to the mythology that was built up around that one little slip up in Classic Trek. If the updates fix that problem, then why…?

Like I said, I’ll wait for the premiere. I’m just not holding my breath.


Read the interview over at Aint It Cool News with Mike Okuda and the rest of the crew that worked on the makeover. There’s also a Q&A over at Startrek.com and the original announcement from Paramount as well as images of the CGI models they will be using. I have to say, the ship does look gorgeous. But then, she always did.

From the announcement:

The most noticeable change will be redoing many of the special effects, created with 1960s technology, with 21st century computer-generated imagery (CGI). Upgrades include:

  • Space ship exteriors – The Enterprise, as well as other starships, will be replaced with state of the art CGI-created ships. The new computer-generated Enterprise is based on the exact measurements of the original model, which now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
  • Show opening – The Enterprise and planets seen in the main title sequence will be redone, giving them depth and dimension for the first time.
  • Galaxy shots – All the graphics of the galaxy, so frequently seen through the viewscreen on the Enterprise’s bridge, will be redone.
  • Exteriors – The battle scenes, planets and ships from other cultures (notably the Romulan Bird of Prey and Klingon Battle Cruisers) will be updated.
  • Background scenes – Some of the iconic, yet flat, matte paintings used as backdrops for the strange, new worlds explored by the Enterprise crew will get a CGI face-lift, adding atmosphere and lighting.

The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner’s classic original recording of the 38-word “Space, the final frontier…” monologue continues to open each episode.

However, when you read between the lines, there is some admission on the part of those involved in the process that there are some digital ‘fixes’ going into the regular scenes, not just the inserted FX scenes and bridge viewscreen images. Text ‘fixed’ on library screens, some of the aliens will be given ‘sparkle’…

…I’m still withholding judgement until I see it. Broadcast information can be found here. For Austin it will air on KNVA at 4:00 pm, Saturday, September 16th.

EUReKA

I’ve managed to catch most of the episodes of this new offering from SciFi so far. I’ve found it quite the most enjoyable bit of television viewing that I’ve stumbled across in a long time. It’s also one of the few shows that I feel comfortable letting the kids watch with me.

I liked the approach of the show introduced in the pilot, and they’ve stuck with it in the episodes I’ve watched. The lead character (Jack Carter, played by Colin Ferguson) is an average Joe who is presented with unbelievable events that he has to make sense of as the episode progresses. You see this never normal town of Eureka, inhabited by geniuses and inventors, through his eyes, allowing you to make the journey from disbelief to understanding with him. Colin Ferguson’s delivery as the straight man in a comedy sketch seems to work perfectly as his character attempts to make sense of the apparently chaotic mess that Eureka is always threatening to become.

Mixed in with the usual SciFi fare is the occasional tidbit of hard science and philosophy. I recommend it. In fact, I mention my interest in the show now, because SciFi will be re-airing the episodes that they’ve shown to date, next Wednesday starting at 4:00 pm. Just in case you want to catch up on the ones you’ve missed.


Additional: SciFi has been airing the episodes out of order. Check the episode numbers for the correct watching sequence. You’d think they’d learn from the mistakes of other networks (Fox and Firefly springs immediately to mind) but perhaps not.

Wrestling isn’t SciFi

All my life, I have had nothing but contempt for professional wrestling and the fans who watch it. Unlike the other pro sports, which have some semblance of realism and rules and are based on amatuer sports that have existed down through the ages, professional wrestling is a complete farce of a sport that takes nothing from the real sport of wrestling, and simply grandstands on the outrageousness of the actors who make thier living engaging in it.

From the implausibilty of appearing to crush someones windpipe, and not killing them, to the appearance of bashing your opponents with objects from outside the ring (a behavior that doesn’t disqualify the atheletes from continuing the exhibition) I find the entire realm of professional wrestling to be unbelievable. A surprising admission for a SciFi fan?

There is nothing scientific about professional wrestling. There is nothing futuristic about it. If anything there is more backwater ‘middle of last century’ stupidity involved in the sport than anything that might qualify it as ‘forward looking’.

So why is professional wrestling on the SciFi channel? Because SciFi was bought out by USA networks several years ago, and USA networks is convinced that everyone loves wrestling. I beg to differ. The only Star Trek series ever to be canceled, Enterprise, was scheduled with wrestling following it. Not only did the geniuses over at UPN schedule these two mismatched genres together, they actively promoted wrestling during the airing of Enterprise. If the show hadn’t have been so poorly conceived in the first place, the intellectually insulting ads for wrestling would have been sure to drive off most viewers.

…As the ads for ECW wrestling, and it’s adjacent scheduling on SciFi with Eureka is probably hurting viewership of that show. Which is too bad. I hate to see a good program like Eureka damaged by programming geniuses at USA who just don’t get it. Don’t get that Science Fiction is an intellectual pursuit (or should be) while Professional Wrestling is anti-intellectual.

UPN’s fascination with teenage boys and their boob babes spelled the end of Enterprise. Here’s hoping that SciFi has some better brains behind it.

The Roasting Of Bill Shatner

While the trivia on the Comedy Central site was fun…

When it comes to the roast itself, I have to say, I think I’ve been out of circulation too long. I remember roasts back when they were on ‘regular’ television. I don’t remember the raunch level being that high. Actually, it couldn’t have been. The censors would never have let it on the air. Why they bothered to bleep out the little they did is a wonder to me.

Editing for content is generally a mystery to me anyway. If I tune in to watch The Terminator, I’m expecting to watch The Terminator, not some whitewashed film in which the killing machine doesn’t unload a full clip into his victims just to make sure they are dead. A film in which the (low) classic line “Fuck you, Asshole!” gets bleeped or changed. What’s the point in watching a film that has been modified like that? If you’re a bible thumper who gets upset at that kind of language and graphic violence, I daresay that a nicer version of the killing machine is not going to win you over. Why would they even tune in at all, other than to make sure the rest of us aren’t watching the filth that they object to?

Editing for content pretty much sums up why I don’t watch films on ‘regular’ television in the first place. Time was, I could watch movies and shows on cable channels and see them unedited; well, at least unedited except for the asinine pan and scan process, that is. But at least the content wasn’t modified to suit the squeamish. Highlander chops off heads, Terminator uses full clips, the horror films are in full gore mode, and people talk like average people rather than the cardboard cutouts in Mayberry. Apparently, this is no longer the case.

So I’m sitting there last night, watching without a doubt the raunchiest roast I’ve ever seen, and they’re bleeping the fucks and shits and whatever. Betty White can tell a joke about a cock ring (Not her best bit. When I watched the show through a second time I would have sworn that she was consciously imitating Don Rickles and Phyllis Diller, or Perhaps Ruth Buzzi, at different points in her routine, as sort of a salute to the old Dean Martin Roasts. Pretty funny) but she can’t say the word ‘cock’, you have to bleep it? On Comedy Central, a cable channel I have to pay for, part of a service I requested? After midnight, no less? I don’t get it.

I hate to break it to you people, I’m a pretty good lip reader these days. Partial deafness forces that on you (a condition Bill and I share) I saw her say the word. If I wanted to get offended, the joke itself would have been offensive, hearing the word would have made no difference. As it is, the fact that the content was edited at all is offensive to me.

Here’s the point I’m getting at. If something offends me, I don’t turn it on. I generally don’t watch Comedy Central because the raunch level is too high. Nothing at all to do with the amount of ‘cursing’ that goes on, and everything to do with the continuous blatant sexual references. I have a pre-teen in the house, he doesn’t need that kind of exposure, so I don’t watch it (the daughter stumbled in on The Succubus episode of South Park when she was about the son’s age now. She had nightmares about it afterwards. I’ve just steered clear of the channel since) I also don’t watch many of my favorite films with the kids in the room, and for much the same reason.

[The children generally don’t want to watch what I watch anyway (Discovery Channels, mostly) They want to watch Cartoon Network, which I have to turn off after Adult Swim starts. Something else I don’t get. A network that caters to children, that has pretty graphic adult content after 10 pm. Futurama is great. Family Guy, I just don’t get. It just gets lamer from that point on, until you hit the Anime at two in the morning. What’s with that? Why all on the same channel?]

I tuned in to Comedy Central after putting the kids to bed, because I suspected what I was going to be watching would be off the charts on the raunch scale. It was. I don’t even know if the wife will be able to sit through it. I don’t know why I bothered. The lame-ass ‘bleeping’ every few minutes in the middle of jokes that wouldn’t make the uncensored list in the first place just ruins the whole effect. What a waste.

Periodically, when watching network television, I catch the occasional promo for “the Network Premiere of (insert sex and gore fest film name here)” and I turn to the wife and say, “How are they going to make that film conform to network censor standards?” I never find out, because I either have the film on disk, or I can rent it. When it comes to Comedy Central’s offerings, I’ll probably never see the uncensored versions. I paid for it once already, and they shafted me on content. Why would I bother to pay for it again?

The Hanso Foundation

The Wife and I are movie weirdos. Long after the rest of the theatre is empty, after everyone else who was in the theatre is already in the parking lot trying to get into their cars and beat the traffic home, we’re still sitting there watching the rest of the film. The credits, that is. We’ve gotten into arguments with overly enthusiastic maintenance people many times over the years (‘scuse me, the film is STILL RUNNING!) but occasionally it pays off with a closing sequence or a recognized name. (The monkey at the end of Pirates, and the cat at the end of Slither) The latest time this happened was when we were watching the credits for MI-III. Apparently The Hanso Foundation invests in certain films as well as mucking with the space-time continuum (or whatever it is they are doing on LOST) Right there at the end of the credits, a thank you to the Hanso Foundation.

They’ve been running ads on LOST during the commercial breaks as well, kind of like the ads for “Oceanic Airlines” (found three sites for Oceanic, there was just this one. Now there is an 815 site and this one) in the first season episodes. Try calling Hanso’s number, or visiting the website(s). Excellent time wasters.

Still don’t have any clue what will happen next week. The series has already gone places I hadn’t expected (We watched the “tailies” for what reason now?) I hate to imagine what the teaser promise of “changes everything” and “what happens when the counter stops” means. I can imagine, but I’ll wait for the episode. And then wait for the fall sweeps for the other shoe to drop, just like always.

If this was survivor (which I’ll freely confess to never have watched) I know one LOSTaway that I’d like to see voted off the island right now…

I’ll just echo the Dharma Orientation film and say, “namaste and good luck”

Star Trek: the Academy Years

Somebody has resurrected Harve Bennett‘s old script for Star Trek: the Academy Years over at Ain’t it Cool News; it seems the guy is really interested in the story. I hate to break it to him, but any story placing the original series crew together in Star Fleet Academy just couldn’t be considered canon; that’s not the way that the series developed originally.

[Not that this would be unprecedented. Of the entire four year run of Enterprise, only two episodes could be considered canon. That would be the “In a Mirror Darkly” two parter. Spock was established to be the first Vulcan in Star Fleet in one of the first Star Trek episodes. There is no way that T’Pol could be an officer on a Starfleet vessel in the normal Star Trek universe. In the “Mirror, Mirror” universe, however…]

I don’t understand this need to mess with cherished memories. Why does Hollywood have to re-invent every show that was ‘successful’ before? Do we really need to make a ‘Star Trek Babies’ movie? Cast someone else in the roles of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others?

I didn’t need to see Scooby Doo as a live action film. I didn’t need to see King Kong without the stop motion animation. I didn’t need to see The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, etc. on the big screen (in fact, I didn’t) do we really have to go there with Classic Trek? Watch someone else play James T. Kirk? Someone other than Nimoy wear Spock’s ears? I won’t be paying for that, myself.

If they just have to do a Star Trek: the Academy Years do it without including the classic characters, or you can count on this classic Trek fan sitting this film out.

Boston Legal, Jury Nullification, Euthanasia

Speaking of Boston Legal (I was) the episode “Live Big” (that aired on the 21st) features Alan Shore once again on the horns of an ethical dilemma. His client granted his Alzheimer’s afflicted wife’s request to have her life terminated.

I love watching James Spader’s characterization of Alan Shore. He’s so wonderfully dry. The contrasting relationship with bombastic ‘Denny Crane’ (William Shatner) makes an excellent sounding board (and vice versa) for discussion points within the episode.

Denny Crane: That’s how dad went. Morphine drip.
Alan Shore: How did you get the doctor to do it?
Denny Crane: “Denny Crane”. It was the real thing then.

Spader’s ‘Shore’ is clearly uncomfortable with the whole subject, but he believes that his client should not be labeled a criminal, and bases his closing argument on that very basic fact.

The A.D.A.’s argument amounts to: he broke the law, he’s a criminal, and we can’t afford to start down the slippery slope of allowing assisted suicide, what happens when people start getting rid of the old, sick people they just don’t want around anymore.

Shore’s argument goes like this:

The dirty little secret is; we went down that slope, years ago. Officially we say we’re against assisted suicide; but it goes on, all the time. 70% of all deaths in hospitals are due to decisions to let patients die. Whether it’s morphine drips or respirators, hydration tubes. With all due respect to the Terry Schiavo fanfare, patients are assisted with death, all across the country, all the time.

As for regulating motive, here’s a thought, investigate it. if we suspect foul play have the police ask questions, if it smells funny, prosecute.

But here, there is no suggestion that Mr. Myerson’s motive was anything other than to satisfy his wifes wishes and spare her the extreme indignity of the rotting of her brain. Can you imagine? Would you want to live like that?

I had a dog for 12 years. His name was Allen. That was his name when I got him. He had cancer in the end. That, in conjunction with severe hip dysplasia, and he was in unbearable pain. My vet recommended, and I agreed, to euthanize him. It was ‘humane’ which we as society endeavor to be, for animals.

My client’s act was a humane one. It was a sorrowful one. Mrs. Myerson’s nurse testified as to the profound love that Ryan Myerson had for his wife. Sometimes the ultimate act of love and kindness…

If you think this man is a criminal send him to jail. If you don’t, don’t.

His client is, of course, acquitted. A classic case of jury nullification, a legitimate finding by the jury that the law was wrongly applied in this instance.

Another example of why I love the show evolves afterwards. Once again in a conversation between Denny and Alan, the nature of “who’s life is it anyway” is explored. An excellent conclusion to the episode, and what I’ve come to expect from the show.

Looking forward to tonight’s episode.

Boston Legal ‘Abortion’ episode

This furor over abortion (again) reminds me of last weeks Boston Legal (the ep. “Smile“) and the rape victim suing the Catholic hospital because they failed to provide her with the ‘morning after’ pill when she requested it.

Specifically I am reminded of the exchange between the characters of Shirley Schmidt and Denise Bauer when, at the end of the episode it is revealed…

…Well, don’t read any farther if you want to be surprised when watching the episode.

Here are the lines from the transcript:

Denise Bauer: So?
Shirley Schmidt: I just spoke with her mother. She’’s having an abortion. While it’s still legal.
Denise Bauer: Girl who said she would never even consider it. She hands Shirley a bottle of beer.
Shirley Schmidt: Well. What’s the alternative? Having custody battles with your rapist? Sorry. That was really tasteless.
Denise Bauer: It’’s all tasteless. The more science comes up with alternatives to the misery of abortion the louder the opposition.
Shirley Schmidt: Course it’’s about power. It’s always been about power. They drink. Shirley motions with her bottle. These guys have any friends?
Denise Bauer: Not for long.

So the do-gooder at the Catholic hospital in fact contributed to someone having an abortion, all because of the scientifically indefensible belief that life begins at conception.

Misery does love company, I guess.