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television

Crossing Lines: Stargate Atlantis — There’s No “I” In Team

One of the strengths of the final season of Stargate Atlantis so far has been the focus on the team. In the episodes: “Whispers”, “The Queen”, “Trackers”, “First Contact” (Part 1) & “The Lost Tribe” (Part 2) that strength has been tossed with questionable results to say the least.

“Whispers” introduces us to an all-female Stargate Team we’ve never met before – Major Anne Teddy (Christina Cox), Sergeant “Dusty” Mehra (Janina Gavankar), Captain Alicia Vega (Leela Savasta) and Dr. Alison Porter (Nicole de Boer) who are accompanied by John Sheppard and Carson Beckett on a visit to a planet where one of Michael’s early research facilities lies. Although I must say I enjoyed the inclusion of an all-female team in the Stargate universe and they were all fantastic in their roles it felt a bit “too little, too late” for my tastes. Some of us have been complaining about the roles of women and People of Color on the show since the beginning and to finally do something in the last season seems more patronizing than anything else. ‘Cause it’s not like we’ll get to see them again. Despite all that, Sgt. “Dusty” Mehra may be my favorite one episode character ever on the show, her propensity for violence and sarcastic attitude were great and really show what they could have done had they been invested in portraying Women of Color in a more interesting light from the beginning.

television

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

If you thought President-elect Obama’s 30-minute infomercial simulcast on three networks just before the final game of the World Series was impressive, imagine my surprise on April 12, 1990 when a half-hour cartoon was run simultaneously on ABC, NBC, CBS, and many other local stations: Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. The very nature of reality was shaken the moment Saturday morning cartoons appeared on a Sunday.

The “All-Stars” in this case were characters from nearly all the popular animated series of the late 80’s and early 90’s, in some kind of fanfic writer’s wet dream. Here, for the first time, kids saw the Muppet Babies hanging out with the Smurfs, ALF and Garfield snarking at each other, Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters occupying the same screen space as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Huey, Duey, and Louie (DuckTales) were there, as were Alvin and the Chipmunks, Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Winnie “Oh bother” the Pooh!

What could gather all of these beloved childhood friends together? That’s where “the Rescue” comes in. They’re there to tell kids not to use drugs. That’s right, this McDonald’s-sponsored program was nothing more than animated propaganda meant to prevent kids of all ages from indulging in illegal hallucinogens. In my case, it worked wonders–once you hear Baby Kermit sing “When your pal says ‘let’s get wrecked!'”, you never really forget it. Yes, there’s a musical number in this one, describing the “million wild and wonderful ways to say no.”

television

Sofa Sunday: American Gothic

American Gothic was one of those Brilliant, But Canceled shows that, had it aired during the days of digital downloads and DVRs, might have stood a chance at lasting longer than a season. The show was dark but not morose, supernatural but not woowoo, and starred some stellar actors, including Gary Cole. Yes, the Office Space boss. Gary has a really wide acting range, if you didn’t know, and as the somewhat demonic Sheriff Buck he’s damn sexy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

American Gothic’s protagonist is 10-year-old Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), who resides in the fiction small town of Trinity, South Carolina. The story begins when Caleb’s life becomes a complete mess — his sister is murdered, his father is accused of said murder, then commits suicide, and the local sheriff has taken an unnatural interest in him. As the story progresses, we learn that Sheriff Buck (Gary Cole) has a deep connection to Caleb, that he’s capable of making bad and good things (of a supernatural nature) happen to the people in town, and he’s pretty damn ruthless. On the “good” side are Caleb’s distant cousin, a reporter from “the city”, a new doctor, also from some city (in the north), and his dead sister, now an angel watching over him.

American Gothic balanced the darker aspects of its storylines with a little humor and mundane, but powerful, scenes that dealt with the hardships of being 10, small town life, and growing up. None of these elements came off as sappy, which is why the show worked.

Caleb is the show’s heart, but Sheriff Buck is its center. His charm and menace are in perfect balance. He’s shown to be cruel and evil, but, in one of my favorite episodes, also shown to be necessary. “Strong Arm Of The Law” illustrates what could happen to Trinity if Buck wasn’t there to “protect” its citizens. It also raises some interesting thoughts about the concept of a necessary evil.

Click over to Fantasy Magazine to see some of this show’s best episodes.

television

Bits and Bytes: Republicans Like Doctor Who, But Will They Dig A Black Doctor?

Democrats and Republicans Respond to TV Differently… Film at 11

Nielsen (the ratings people) apparently rate the “engagement” people have with the shows they watch and crunch this data along many lines, including political affiliation.

“Engagement” refers to the amount of attention paid to a television program by the average viewer. […] Nielsen’s analysis found that the cable programs that received the highest overall engagement scores… also received the most bipartisan support…

According to the table at the link, shows with the highest Republican engagement include Doctor Who. I know, a bunch of question marks popped above my head, too. Apparently conservatives engaged with our dear Doctor even more than they engaged with the ladies vying for Bret Michaels’ love. I’m not sure how to wrap my brain around this.

The most engaging SF/F show for Dems? TIN MAN. That’s right, dear readers! Liberals are all about the bad Sci-Fi channel movies. I may have to switch parties…

My Black Doctor Brings All The Racists To The Yard

Nick Kaufman finds crazy Doctor Who wank so you don’t have to. Apparently there’s a rumor about that when David Tenant finally gives up the mantle of the Doctor, one of the guys being considered for the role is British actor Paterson Joseph. He was the Weakest Link finalist with Rose in the first season DW finale and also had a prominent role in BBC’s Jekyll. Besides being absolutely brilliant and handsome, Joseph is also black. This, predictably, is making Who fans freak the hell out.

Nick’s picked out some of the choicer quotes for your amusement and head-shaking, but it’s interesting to point out that some fans are completely okay with a black Doctor. But a woman? HELL NO, SIR.

I weep.

(and there’s more…)

television

Stargate: Atlantis’ Rachel Luttrell

Rachel Luttrell is an African-born Canadian actress currently best known for her role as Teyla Emmagan on Sci-Fi channel’s Stargate: Atlantis. In broad strokes, Teyla is an alien warrior who, through her contact with the Atlantis team from Earth, takes on an active role in the fight against the Pegasus galaxy’s Big Bad: The Wraith. It would easy to write her off at the Atlantis version of SG-1’s Teal’c, but from the very beginning Luttrell impressed viewers with her range and skill. Teyla quickly became a fan favorite as Luttrell proved her to be much more than the simple “Noble Warrior” archetype.

Before landing the role on Atlantis, Luttrell earned her geek cred guest starring on Charmed and Forever Knight. Before that she studied ballet, piano, and voice in some of Canada’s most prestigious arts institutions. She’s a triple threat–but Atlantis fans are glad she stuck with acting.

With the show coming to an end, we asked Jacqueline Gross to talk with Rachel about Teyla’s evolution, how the show has changed both character and actress, and her plans for the future.

television

Eight Reasons You Should be Downloading the First Season of “The Middleman”

1. The Middleman. The milk-swilling superman (whose real name is as yet unknown) is a hero from another era – an era when “What the monkey?” counted as profanity. In between teaching protégé Wendy Watson the finer points of world-saving, he dispenses homespun advice like, “The next time we trap a rampaging pig-insect hybrid from another galaxy that accidentally gets loose in custody, you should shoot after it gets out of the car.” (Helpful advice, by the way.) As the Middleman, Matt Keeslar deftly establishes the tone of the show – right along the line between being the butt of the joke and being in on it. He inhabits the character so fully that it’s hard to imagine he’s not actually the Middleman, and in a show overrun with flying zombie trout, such verisimilitude can be hard to come by.

4. Technical support. Whether it’s Ida the irascible android assistant, Lacey the activist roommate, Pip the landlord’s insufferable poseur son, or Roxy Wasserman the ex-succubus fashionista, there’s never a dull character in Wendy’s life. Though Mary Pat Gleason and Brit Morgan give the slyest performances, knocking every line reading out of the park, there’s enough awesome floating around any given B-plot to make a steaming hot cauldron of awesome soup. (What? Awesome soup is delicious!) Often the show’s best world-building is done in these B-plots; while The Middleman and Wendy are wrestling zombie trout, Lacey is navigating the rough waters of Art Crawl and trying to keep Pip from delivering his hour-long performance piece “Hey Mr. God.” Warning: his performance scene will induce acid flashbacks in anyone who endured art school.

6. The Middleman and Wendy. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Middleman and Wendy have quickly formed one of sci-fi’s best adventure teams, on par with Scully and Mulder (presuming Mulder ever exclaimed “My little pony!” when times got tough). Their partnership is based on mutual respect and genuine friendship, and though they’re more buddy-cops than longing-gazes, their chemistry effortlessly sells the show every week.

television

Unbreakable Habits: Heroes Returns

Around this time last year, I and millions of other fans were excited about the Heroes season two premiere. The first season was pretty amazing, usually well-written, sported a great cast, and generally convinced everyone it was made of awesome. The season-long storyline, the inclusion of many women and people of color, and the geeky X-Men homages made the audience eager for more.

But what we got in season two was a steaming pile of crap. It took most people a little while to realize it, as each episode revealed more horrors and systematically dismantled much of what was good about the first season. The writer’s strike put an early end to the mess and creator Tim Kring seemed to recognize what was not working. So it was with cautious optimism that I began Heroes season three, which premiered on Monday. We were treated to two episodes — a whole two hours of Heroes.

Two hours I will never get back.

television

Blog For A Beer: Favorite Childhood Cartoons Now On DVD

A few years ago when I first discovered TVShowsonDVD.com and danced with glee that such a website existed, I went through their extensive list of shows and chose many that I’d like to recieve alerts on should there be news about a DVD release. Some shows I choose out of desperate hope — like Spartakus or The Mysterious Cities of Gold — and some I was pretty sure we’d eventually get — The Real Ghostbusters and Freakazoid. But lo, the gods of TV on DVD did not disappoint me, and Mysterious Cities has been released in the UK and should be available in region 1 early next year. (fingerscrossedfingerscrossed) There’s a glimmer of hope that Spartakus may come out from the same company. Happy Geek Girl is happy!

Due to the fabulous mini-conversation from two weeks ago, I know many of you out there are happy about Mysterious Cities and Spatakus and a whole host of other cartoons from your childhood that have already come out or may come out or you hope will come out on DVD. Let’s geek out on old cartoons! Maybe we’ll even get a top 10 list out of it all. (That, and $10 for someone…)

television

Crossing Lines: Stargate Atlantis — Full Speed Ahead

Most of you have probably already heard that this season will be the last for Stargate Atlantis and it’s truly a shame because this season has featured some of the best episodes that I can remember – mainly because the team is a team again. One of my major quibbles with the show during season 3 was that John Sheppard and Rodney McKay were constantly spotlighted which took away from the rest of the cast and from the team dynamic of the show. What started as an ensemble was drifting into a show that featured two of the characters above all the others. It wasn’t something I enjoyed and is one of the reasons I stopped watching.

Well, I don’t know what exactly happened but all the episodes of Season Five so far have had a much better balance and work to develop all the characters instead of just a select few.

In The Seed, an organic alien virus has made its way into the city and is taking over Dr. Keller. We not only got a little bit of the Rodney/Keller/Ronon triangle that seems to be one of the arcs the season but also a little insight into the Wraith organic-tech because the whole point of the “virus” is to take over systems and create a new hive ship with Keller as the living brain. The episode also served as the return of Dr. Carson Beckett. Well, his clone returned from stasis, but since all the characters seem to be ignoring the fact that the real Carson died — in one of the most absurd ways ever (exploding tumors!) — I suppose I can do the same. Even though Carson returns to earth at the end of the episode I really hope we see more of him and his sketchy, sketchy genetic experiments and lack of scientific ethics in the coming season.

television

Entertainment News: Hollywood Feminism, Paul Cornell

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