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Battlestar Galactica in 1880?  As a graphic steampunk story?  Steampunk Cylons?  You bet.  Today, Dynamite Comics launches its new series Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, taking an alternate universe look at the popular 1978 and 2004 sci-fi television series characters.  And for even more sci-fi fun, our favorite borg is back this month in a new issue of The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six–with some familiar “faces”.

If classic pulp noir reads are your thing, you’ll want to check out our preview of the new Dynamite Comics series Justice, Inc.  The Shadow is back, this time with The Avenger and Doc Savage.

JusticeInc01-Cov-Francavilla   JusticeInc01-Cov-Ross

After the break, take a look at previews for each of these new books, courtesy of Dynamite Comics, available at comic book shops everywhere today.

Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, Issue #1, features a story by Tony Lee with art by Aneke.  The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue #5, is written by James Kuhoric and art by Juan Antonio Ramirez.  Justice, Inc., Issue #1, has a story by Michael Uslan and artwork by Giovanni Timpano.

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Eliza Dushku Tru Calling

Between 2003 and 2005, Fox aired one of the best supernatural thrillers to date. Fans of Eliza Dushku, missing her superb performance as vampire slayer Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, could get their fix with Tru Calling.  After years of sitting on the shelf Tru Calling is finally being re-broadcast Wednesday nights on the Chiller cable network.

Eliza Dushku’s first starring vehicle of her post-Buffy days, Tru Calling had an excellent sci-fi premise, Medium meets Groundhog Day.  Medical student Tru (Dushku) gets a part-time job in the morgue and discovers that the recently deceased can ask for her help, causing her to relive their final days, in the hopes of saving their lives or solving their murders.

Tru Calling is one of those forgotten series that made our borg.com10 TV series that didn’t make it (but should have)” list back in 2011.   Lots better than Dushku’s role on Dollhouse, Tru Calling also was the first time we noticed many current genre favorites.  Tru’s co-worker mentor in the morgue was played by The Hangover‘s Zach GalifianakisMatt Bomer (White Collar, Chuck, Space Station 76) played Tru’s boyfriend.  But several more actors were barely known then, and featured in guest spots on the show.

Tru Calling

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The Librarians band of misfits

The TNT Network announced it has ordered 10 episodes of The Librarians, a new television series spinning off from The Librarian movies.  Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, King & Maxwell) are returning to TNT and will lead the cast of the new series along with Lindy Booth (Kick-ass 2, Nero Wolfe, Warehouse 13, Dawn of the Dead, Supernatural) and John Kim (Neighbors, The Pacific).  Stars of the previous stories in The Librarian universe, Noah Wyle (Falling Skies, ER), and comedy icons Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob), and Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, Kate & Allie, 3rd Rock from the Sun) will reprise their roles in the new series.  Wyle will also continue in his role on TNT’s Falling Skies.

Fans of the Syfy Channel’s now defunct Warehouse 13 may find some familiarity in the world of The Librarians, as the show centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from a hidden world of magic.  The team solves mysteries, fights supernatural threats, and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world.  Among the artifacts housed in the Library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Judas Chalice and Excalibur.  As with Myka and Pete from Warehouse 13, only a person with special skills can protect these artifacts, and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

The new Librarians TNT

Along with comedy icons Newhart and Curtin, fan favorite comedic actors John Larroquette (Star Trek III, Stripes, Night Court, Deception) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom, Orphan Black, Star Trek: TNG) will be regulars on the show.  Larroquette will play Jenkins, overseer of the Librarians, with Frewer an immortal, ancient cult leader named Dulaque.

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Cybermen and the 12th Doctor

As we saw with last year’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the BBC knows how to whet fans’ appetites with a week-long lead-in of episodes and documentaries leading up to benchmarks in the Doctor Who universe.  The next benchmark is of course Peter Capaldi’s first full episode as the 12th Doctor airing next Saturday night, 51 years after kids in England were first entranced by a mysterious time traveler in a ship that is bigger on the inside and looks like a phone booth.  Viewers who aren’t giving up on Doctor Who after losing Matt Smith, and are just excited to see what Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss & Co. have in store next, will see another week full of past Doctor Who episodes as well as plenty more leading up to next weekend.

The collective anticipation of a worldwide core of fans translates nicely to the title of the next episode, “Deep Breath.”  How will Capaldi’s Doctor take to captaining the TARDIS and leading his feisty young companion Clara (Jenna Coleman)–the ultimate companion who is the only companion to accompany every prior Doctor–through their next adventure together?  Plenty of new cyborgs are waiting, as revealed in the below trailer, shown after the break.

Doctor Who 12 cities showings

“Deep Breath” will premiere August 23, 2014, 7 p.m. Central on BBC America.  Last night BBC America premiered two new shows, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion and The Real History of Science Fiction: Time, each to be re-broadcast throughout the week.  A third special, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord premieres tomorrow, Monday, August 18, at 9 p.m. Central.

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Red Handed by Matt Kindt

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

I finished Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt yesterday morning.  I immediately wanted to start at the beginning again.  If not for the rest of the day’s distractions, I probably would have.  I know I’m looking forward to it tonight.  I know that I’m looking at it over there at the foot of my bed as I type.  At some point during my writing, Kindt’s story will entice me away from the keyboard, call to me to stretch out from my toes to my head and curl up with its tale again.  You, as the reader will never know when that point comes.

Of course, before I read, I may head out on the streets of Los Angeles and turn my phone into its driver mode and start my moonlighting gig as a Lyft driver.  I’ll either crank my car’s engines and start the cool AC blowing over me and the rest of the car so that the first rider will feel their maximum level of comfort, or I’ll just turn on the electric system, roll down the windows and just wait for the first alarm to let me know I’m summoned before I start the gas coursing through the car’s internal system.  Either way, I’ll sit and listen to a podcast, a conversation recorded maybe not so far away and maybe not too long ago, but then again, it could be years and hundreds of miles.  The voices reach out to me and let my mind drift and my mouth smile, the best friends to combat sitting still in Los Angeles while in your car.

Matt Kindt Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Along the way, I’ll meet new people, give them a fist bump and take them to their destination at the Hollywood Bowl, a club, a neighborhood bar or a barbecue.  We’ll talk about life in Los Angeles and for a moment, we’ll connect before we disappear back into the faceless crowd of 10 million souls.

Kindt asks, what if they didn’t disappear?  What if the person in the backseat knows a person who sold me some pluots at the farmers market?  What if the driver of the car that cut in front of me motors to the same club where I’m taking my fare and they meet and fall in love?  What if all of our pattern-seeking monkey brains just haven’t figured out how to see the invisible threads piercing our skin and linking us with trees, metal, sand and the upright piles of water that say, “Hello” each morning?  Is it a natural linking, a mystic connection created by some higher power far above us or from some hidden store of power deep within the earth, or is it a scheme plotted by a nefarious or well-meaning visionary to make the world a worse or better place?

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creature from black lagoon poster

Who is my favorite Universal Studios classic movie monster?  I have always answered The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  I first watched the web-footed and web-handed fellow with gills in 3D on local network television on one Friday night many years ago.  I am not sure cable TV was yet making its headway across the country, but the “creature feature” was something marketed for a few weeks over the summer.  The local CBS affiliate, if I recall correctly, teamed up with the local Hy-Vee grocery store to hand out those cardboard and vellum 3D glasses.  I knew early on that The Creature was the first and only one of the classic monsters filmed and shown in theaters in 3D back in 1954.  My trusty World Almanac told me it wasn’t the first 3D film released–that went to the African lion film Bwana Devil in 1952.

As part of my current quest to sample the best of 3D movies on Blu-ray, finding The Creature from the Black Lagoon on the very short list of released 3D films was a big win.  Back in 1997 in Seattle where basic DVDs were first released in a major U.S. market, I remember digging through a short box at the big Suncoast store but feeling similarly dismayed, until I noticed A Boy and His Dog among the early conversions to digital video.  The Creature is a great starting point for modern 3D, giving the current technology some historical context.

Creature in 3D

Thanks in large part to make-up guru Bud Westport’s incredible creature suit and mask, the film holds up as well as any modern classic.  In fact, viewing The Creature back to back with Predator 3D (reviewed here earlier this month), it’s surprising how similar the films are.  Take away the sci-fi intro to Predator and you have a jungle adventure with another otherworldly creature.  As with Predator 3D, the multi-layered jungle comes alive in The Creature, and the careful placement of actors onscreen gives a crystal clear dimensional image that doesn’t waver.  Better yet, you have to look hard to see The Creature’s air bubbles–mostly he swims for seemingly long stints underwater with no apparent breathing going on.  And let’s not forget both of these films are part of the horror genre–each character gets picked off one by one by the monster until only a few are left for a final life-or-death showdown.

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Legends banner

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

With Burn Notice over and Homeland confined to premium viewing only, basic cable’s best hope for a weekly spy drama fix may be TNT’s new series Legends.  Un-gripping title aside, this new Sean Bean vehicle shows surprising promise.  Although it follows the cliché template for every crime drama of the last ten years (eccentric male expert and his younger female law enforcement handler), the format is elevated by familiar actors and an intriguing added premise.

Based on Robert Littell’s Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation, Legends the series follows Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Patriot Games, National Treasure, GoldenEye, The Fellowship of the Ring, Sharpe series) as undercover FBI agent Martin Odum, the “most naturally gifted undercover operative” in the US arsenal.  Bean himself seems naturally gifted for the role, easing eerily between his “legend,” or cover identity, and his real self, donning accents, hairstyles, and costumes with Mission Impossible-style finesse.  But the ultimate deception may be on Odum himself–according to a shadowy figure with Manchurian Candidate overtones, Odum may not really be Odum.  Martin’s “real” life may be nothing more than just another legend.

Larter in Legends

Bean’s performance is bolstered by a strong supporting cast, including Ali Larter (Heroes, Final Destination), Steve Harris (Awake, Minority Report), and Tina Majorino (True Blood, Veronica Mars, Corinna, Corinna, Waterworld, Andre), although we’re hoping Larter and Majorino aren’t getting typecast–Larter already stripping as she did in Heroes and Majorino as the same tech nerd we’ve seen her play so well and so often.

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Space Station 76 poster

It all looks good on paper: Patrick Wilson, star of Watchmen and Phantom of the Opera, Liv Tyler, star of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Armaggedon, and The Incredible Hulk, and Matt Bomer, star of White Collar, all in a new sci-fi flick called Space Station 76.  The poster looks great.  Something is not quite selling it for me with the promotional blurb: A character-driven, domestic dramedy, which takes place in a 1970s version of the future, where personalities and asteroids collide.  With the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, which pulls a lot of its humor from 1970s music and references, you’d think this could be the right time for a national release.

Despite some pretty impressive early release images of 1970s-influenced sets, wardrobe, and space props, Space Station 76 is starting to look less like a campy Spaceballs or Galaxy Quest and more like the 2012 re-look at the past’s future Dark Shadows.

Space Station 76 clip

I’ve learned from enough reviews of films I didn’t like that buzzwords “black comedy” and “full frontal nudity” tend to refer to movies I wish I would have passed over.  Then I see a word like “dramedy” tacked on and it makes me question whether this is all supposed to be funny or serious.  I love a good mash-up, but a combination of too many disparate components can be like too many cooks in the kitchen.  I’m happy to fork over cash to see solid actors like Wilson, or Tyler, or Bomer in the theater–especially for a science fiction film, but I need to know more.

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The Bionic Man Volume Three End of Everything Gillespie Tadeo Mayhew Villegas Dynamite

Dynamite Comics’ The Bionic Man series, especially Issues #17-26, was among the best comic book reading of 2013.  They are now available in a trade paperback: The Bionic Man Volume Three: End of Everything.  Featuring a story by Aaron Gillespie, with art by Ed Tadeo and Rey Villegas, colors by Thiago Ribeiro, letters by Simon Bowland, and covers by Mike Mayhew with other regular edition covers and variants by prolific Dynamite Comics artists Jonathan Lau and Ed Tadeo.

The Bionic Man is a great read and recommended for comic book fans.  It features Aaron Gillespie’s storytelling, which we lauded on our borg.com Best of 2013 list last year.  It also has the whole package from cover to cover–story, art, covers, humor, action, and fun.  We won’t re-state what we said in our review last year–you can read that here.  Enough of the origin stories that bogs down superhero books, this Steve Austin was able to get out there and do something.

Bionic Man Issue 20 cover by Mayhew   JF Kennedy bread card 1976

The series featured some of our all-time favorite cover art, with a cover run on Issues #17-22 by The Star Wars artist Mike Mayhew.  Mayhew created a new, cool, young look for Steve Austin, who sported the classic track suit updated for a modern audience and fashion sense.  His Issue #19 cover has Steve holding a car over his head, and you get to really see the strength.  Probably his best cover is for Issue #20, an inspiring cover which reminds me of one of my favorite paintings of President Kennedy.

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Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory Fun CD cover

The best part of Weird Al Yankovic’s release of his latest album isn’t because he released eight songs along with music videos for free on YouTube.  It’s that the best of his new album Mandatory Fun provides some lyrics that are as good as his early hits.  Maybe there’s no “Eat it” or “Yoda” or “I Lost on Jeopardy” or the “American Pie” parody “The Saga Begins.”  But there is plenty to like in the “Amish Paradise,” “Another One Rides the Bus,” and “Dare to Be Stupid” vein.  And Mandatory Fun is Weird Al’s first number one album in 32 years–his first number one album in the U.S. ever.  With all his classics, how is that possible?

When all things retro and nostalgia have reigned across current pop culture like never before, it’s no wonder everyone is clamoring for the simple fun Weird Al brings to the table.  His album includes 12 new songs, and eight of the them are on YouTube with great new music videos, just like in the heyday of MTV–that old cable network that used to air music videos to accompany the latest hits.  Yes, that MTV.  After the break check out eight of the new songs below.  To hear the other four, like a parody of Imagine Dragons’s song “Radioactive” called “Inactive,” you’ll just have to pick up the album.  It’s available here at Amazon.com, where you can get a digital download of the album with each hard copy purchase.

The album’s big hit so far is “Word Crimes”–Weird Al’s fourth Top 40 song in four separate decades, parodying the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke:

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