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Category: Blasts from the Past


X-Files Millie Ohio and Bing Ellinson

The X-Files, that classic TV series that took off recently with its The X-Files Season 10 monthly comic book series, will be expanding The X-Files universe even further.  IDW Publishing revealed some details about the new series Sunday at WonderCon in Anaheim, California.

Writer Karl Kesel (Marvel’s FF, Superboy), artists Vic Malhotra (The X-Files: Conspiracy, The Crow) and Greg Scott (The X-Files Season 10) are teaming up to tell the secret origins with The X-Files: Year Zero, a five-issue miniseries debuting in July.  The artists will split duties with Malhotra drawing the 1940s story following two agents that go by Bing and Millie, and Scott drawing present-day Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as they tackle a mystery with ties that date back to the beginning of the FBI’s X-Files unit.

Cover art will be created by The X-Files Season 10 artist Carlos Valenzuela, with retro/pulp novel cover variants by Robert Hack (Doctor Who).  Even borg.com favorite cover artist Francesco Francavilla will be supplying a cover variant for the first issue.

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These_are_the_voyages_TOS_season_two_first_edition_cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Marc Cushman’s second volume of These Are the Voyages, his unprecedented treatise on Star Trek, the original series, is an improvement on his first volume, reviewed last year here at borg.com, which was a thorough history of the landmark series’ first season.  But where Volume 1 was a good read–an assemblage of facts from multiple sources not easily obtainable otherwise and an accounting of television history from 1966–Volume 2 qualifies a great read.  With more in-depth stories, anecdotes and interviews, from original sources as well as recent reminiscences from actors and production staff, Volume 2 provides a superb history of the production of Season Two and the world of American TV studios in 1967-68.

Highlights of Season Two recounted by Cushman include key changes to the show, such as the introduction of Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov, which often led to the reduction in the roles of Sulu and Uhura.  James Doohan’s Scotty was made third in command in Season Two, based on the writers’ efforts to keep Spock and Kirk together and expand the show to strange new worlds away from the Enterprise.  The book includes modern accounts from the actors as they reflect back on their interpersonal relationships during production–everyone from George Takei to William Shatner seems surprised in retrospect by each other’s reported dismay during the series.

Shatner on set

Volume 2 reveals Star Trek in its prime form—after a year of world-building in Season One, the first half of Season Two includes some of the best Star Trek episodes the series had to offer.  Much of this was thanks to writer Gene L. Coon, whose selection of material lightened up the tone of the show, broadening appeal to viewers.  Coon created the Klingons and the Prime Directive and the humorous relationship of Spock and McCoy.  His influence can be seen in Season One’s “Space Seed” as well as Season Two’s classics “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “The Trouble With Tribbles.”  Sadly his mid-season departure led to more campy elements seeping into the series toward the end of the season.

Many components spice up what could otherwise have been a bland, encyclopedic offering.  The seemingly endless writing process during production that is recounted by Cushman is simply… fascinating.  Robert Justman’s hilarious (but always spot-on) script notes alone make the book worth reading.  The often eloquent and usually contentious back and forth battle on paper between Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana and Gene Coon and Robert Justman and Gene Roddenberry would make modern email battles seem lightweight.

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SMDMS6 2 cover Ross

Season Two of The Six Million Dollar Man is in full gear.  Issue #2 of Dynamite Comics’ newest monthly series is in comic book stores tomorrow.  Oscar Goldman must tell Steve Austin that O.S.I.’s bionics division is closing its doors.  What will this mean for Steve and Jamie?

An alien organism has made it to Earth’s surface.

Who is the new face-changing Steve Austin doppelganger?  The menace Maskatron is back from the toy shelves of the 1970s to the ongoing story of Colonel Steve Austin.

Issue #2 includes a classic cover design by Alex Ross, with ongoing story by Jim Kuhoric and interior art by Juan Antonio Ramirez.

After the break, check out a preview for The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue #2, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Flash01-Cov-Laming

If you’re missing the Flash Gordon of the 1980 movie then a new monthly comic book series beginning today may be for you.  Following the original story elements from Alex Raymond’s original stories first laid down in 1930s comic book strips discussed previously at borg.com here and here, but updating elements to the present day, Dynamite Comics is rebooting Flash Gordon for a new audience.

Issue #1 of the new series finds Flash Gordon and sci-journalist Dale Arden a year ago, with Arden covering the last space shuttle’s decommissioning, and Flash bungee jumping.  One year later at they are about to encounter the planet Mongo, and the dreaded Emperor Ming, for the first time.  That is, after a slight detour to the planet Arboria, and an encounter with Prince Barin.

Like the 1980 movie, this Flash Gordon series has a confident, cocky and a bit foolhardy Flash, and a no-nonsense, sharp, and attractive Dale.  It’s just brought forward a bit with the starting point–34 years updated from the film.  Jeff Parker is the series writer, with art by Evan Shaner.

After the break, we have a preview of Flash Gordon, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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All the Muppets from Muppets Most Wanted

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The eighth big-screen film starring Jim Henson’s wacky, lovable Muppets hit theaters a couple of weeks ago, and for lifelong fans of the franchise, it’s a big win.  The 2011 film Muppets, written by and starring Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) was a heartwarming, family-friendly comedy, reviewed here.  We liked the 2011 movie but wished for more celebrity cameos.  Muppets Most Wanted, written by returning director James Bobin, returns to the kooky, offbeat humor of the original TV variety show and first motion picture, 1979′s The Muppet Movie.  And it delivers cameos aplenty.

In a plot somewhat reminiscent of various Muppet films past, this latest movie involves the intrepid troupe on a world tour, hot on the heels of the success of their last venture (meaning, in typical Muppets metafiction style, the 2011 film, or the reprise of the act as depicted in the film, or both, or… well, you’ll get it.  It’s the Muppets).  Along the way, no one suspects that their new tour manager, Dominic Badguy (“It’s pronounced ‘Badgey’”) (Ricky Gervais, The Office) is moonlighting as the sidekick to a criminal mastermind named Constantine–who also happens to be a dead ringer (almost) for Kermit the Frog.  Badguy books the Muppets into surprisingly sold-out gigs all across Europe, connives to have Kermit kidnapped and sent to a Siberian prison, and plots ever-more ambitious jewel heists along the way.

Gervais and Constantine

Human leads Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) turn in stellar performances that recall classic costars like Michael Caine (The Muppet Christmas Carol) and Charles Durning (The Muppet Movie).  The lively story, er, hops along, darting among Kermit and Fey in Siberia; Burrel and Sam the American Eagle as rival Interpol/CIA agents tracking Constantine; and the Muppets’ efforts to launch a successful European tour, despite lackluster direction from Fake Kermit and zany acts competing for space in the show.  Watch for wonderful classic Muppet-show-style performances like Gonzo’s “Indoor Running of the Bulls,” all featuring cameos from actors like Salma Hayek (Wild, Wild West) and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained).

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How I Married Your Mother finale

It always pays to be wary of grandiose statements and definitive pronouncements.  When I first watched Forrest Gump in the theater, one-third of the way through the movie it occurred to me I might be watching the greatest production of all time, and walking out of the theater I carried that thought with me.  But time changes things.  Now I see it as a fun film, but it’s not at the top of any of my “best of” lists.  Professor Schofield advised that you can’t really objectively analyze something, an art movement, a political figure, a fad–anything worth analyzing–unless several years had transpired and you could have the value of time and distance, contemplation and reflection, to look back with.

So it is with a bit of reservation that I am asserting that the series finale to How I Met Your Mother that aired Monday night should top any list of great finales.  The writers, producers, and actors simply got it just right.  Exactly right.  Airing the first episode of season one just before the finale aired really showcased how this ending was exactly what viewers deserved after nine seasons of sticking with the show.  Consider all the series finales that were promoted over the years, and despite the biggest of viewing audiences, you might find that most last hoorahs miss the mark, try too hard, or just do something that didn’t reflect the best of the series.

Trek TNG All Good Things

The granddaddy of all finales was the 1983 M*A*S*H extended episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.”  Although some elements were right, like a bounty of typical and appropriate sad goodbyes, Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, (one of the best characters of all time) after more than a decade of using laughter to beat the odds and help his unit survive the Korean War, cracks at the very end.  NBC’s comedy spy series Chuck made a similar mistake, wiping the memory of Chuck’s hard-earned love interest Sarah after we cheered him on all those years, requiring the story to basically start over from scratch in some far off place after the series wrapped.  Another less than satisfying but at least appropriate-to-the-series finale was the end of the monumental 20th year of the original Law & Order.  We basically got to see a fairly typical episode of the series, which certainly fit the seriousness of the show’s drama.  But we also got a goodbye scene and were left on a positive note with “Lieut’s” good news about her hard-fought illness.

Before that, you might have seen the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Nick at Nite or other classic rerun network if you weren’t old enough to catch it in its initial run.  The TV network that was the subject of the series fires everyone including Mary at the end, except Ted Knight’s character Ted Baxter.  The annoying guy that we loved for being annoying gets to stay.  A funny series with a funny end, as well as the requisite bittersweet goodbye scene.  A similarly funny sitcom, Psych, wrapped its eighth and final season last month, tying up all its remaining loose ends.  Psych took a different path, taking its angst-inducing character, Detective-then-Chief Lassiter, and with a redemption of sorts, switched up his role in the last two seasons to become a guy viewers could cheer on.

Newhart finale

Another comedy, Newhart, gave us a completely bizarre ending for an otherwise enjoyable comedy series.  Yet it was saved literally in the last two minutes by a brilliantly concocted stunt–bring back Bob’s wife from his original series, The Bob Newhart Show, the lovely Suzanne Pleshette, revealing the whole series was just a dream.  It’s a gimmick that didn’t work for a series like the original Dallas (recall Bobby Ewing died then came back to life with a “poof”), but for a comedy wrap-up, it couldn’t have been better timed.

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Martin Freeman in Fargo

Did you hear the one about the British actor who played a guy from Minnesooootah?

Following in the footsteps of the dark 1970 Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould comedy flick M*A*S*H, the Coen Brothers are taking their Oscar-winning script from their movie Fargo to the small screen, turning the setting into a new series on the FX Network.  An all-star cast will make TV viewers who might not have liked the Coen Brothers humor in the film give the idea another chance.

With an all-new “true crime” story with a new case and new characters, and that far-North Central U.S. accent that drifts from Wisconsin to Minnesota, The Hobbit and Sherlock star Martin Freeman will play a put-upon local who encounters a troublemaking outsider played by Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade).  Orange County star Colin Hanks plays a Duluth police deputy.  Other cast includes Allison Tolman, Oliver Platt (A Time to Kill, Beethoven), Keith Carradine (The Long Riders), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Brian Markinson (Arrow, Continuum), Kate Walsh (The Drew Carey Show), and Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, Zodiac).

Here’s the trailer for the new series, Fargo:

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ST Archives 1

IDW Publishing is bring back a series of volumes reprinting the original classic Star Trek series originally published by Gold Key Comics, including the memorable photo covers of the Star Trek crew that you might remember from nearly 50 years ago.  The first volume hits the shelves of comic book stores tomorrow and features the first six issues that were originally sold between 1967 and 1969.

If you lost your original issues to time, this new volume will bring back some good ol’ Trek nostalgia for you.  It includes Issue #1 from July 1967, “The Planet of No Return,” and Issue #2 from March 1968, “The Devil’s Isle of Space,” both written by Dick Wood with art by Nevio Zaccara.  You’ll also get Issue #3 from December 1968, “Invasion of the City Builders,” Issue #4 from June 1969, “The Peril of Planet Quick Change,” Issue #5 from September 1969, “The Ghost Planet,” and Issue #6 from December 1969 “When Planets Collide,” all written by Wood with art by Alberto Giolitti.

ST Archives 2 ST Archives 3

Plenty of modern Star Trek comics have done all kinds of things with storytelling and artwork.  But there is something fun about the simplicity of these old stories that will appeal to fans of 1960s comics and the creators’ vision for the future from long ago.

After the break, we’re previewing the first several pages of Star Trek–Gold Key Archives, Volume 1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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thousand dollar tan line rob thomas jennifer graham veronica mars novel

Fresh on the heels of the theatrical release of the Veronica Mars movie (reviewed last week here at borg.com), series creator and movie director Rob Thomas (along with writer Jennifer Graham) have just released its sequel, Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line We’re reviewed several franchise tie-ins and this new novel is among the best.  All that you think you’d need, the familiar characters, setting, and mood are here, but the most important is that inner monologue of Veronica.  Who better to scribe the next story, the immediate aftermath of the events of the movie, and Veronica’s voice than Thomas?

If you’re not already a Veronica Mars fan, the novel has enough of a standalone detective story to make for a good entry point for the series that genre king Joss Whedon referred to as “Best. Show. Ever.  Seriously, I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making, and maybe even more than those… These guys know what they’re doing on a level that intimidates me.  It’s the Harry Potter of shows.”

Veronica back at Mars Investigations

Picking up in the days after the events of the movie and taking place literally in March 2014, the novel allows Veronica and hacker pal Mac to use all the resources of social media and modern technologies to sleuth out two missing young women who vanished on Spring break in the seedy beach town of Neptune, California (as Piz says in the movie, there really is a Hellmouth under there).  Veronica’s dad Keith is slowly recovering from his car wreck injuries.  Logan is off on an aircraft carrier in the Navy.  And Veronica is dead serious about partnering with her dad full-time at Mars Investigations, to his disappointment.

We get to catch up with a character from the series from Veronica’s distant past, as well as a new character that will likely play a key role in future stories for both Veronica and Keith.

Hacker Mac Veronica Mars

Just as true to life as the original series was, Veronica’s relationship with her dad couldn’t be more believable.  She really isn’t going back to New York to become a lawyer.  And she lives at home again.  As much as we’ve cheered Veronica on, as successful as she could be, like Michael Corleone they keep pulling her back to Neptune.  And it turns out the success we hoped to see Mac achieve (shouldn’t she be CEO of a Google or Facebook by now?) is also on a backtrack, as she quits her prestigious job at Kane Software to work for Veronica as hacker and researcher.  How could all of this have gone so wrong for these two?  Rob Thomas’s choices, if disappointing for all who have cheered on these characters, does something important:  it creates the possibility of future movies and novels.

If the Veronica Mars movie and this first Veronica Mars novel is any indication, then fans will be begging for even more Veronica Mars, no matter the format.

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TMNT turtle

They’re not the Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos.  They’re not the Pre-Pubescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.  And they’re not Rocket Raccoon and Groot.  But they are Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo–the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they’re coming back to the theaters in a big-budget, Michael Bay production.

The first trailer is here and the turtles in a half shell are looking pretty good.  And we even get Megan Fox as April, taking on another 1980s toy property franchise after her run in the Transformers movie series.  Shredder is back, too, played by William Fichtner, with Danny Woodburn playing Splinter.

TMNT clip

Check out this first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

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