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Category: TV


Dark Matter logo

You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty good title.  And a decent premise.

Dark Horse Comics’ announced the purchase by Syfy Channel of the rights to the 2012 comic book release Dark Matter, a story about a group of space travelers who awaken from stasis on a spaceship with no memory of how they got there.

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who wrote the Dark Horse series, will also run the new TV series.  Prodigy Pictures, who produced the Vancouver-based Lost Girls, will produce Dark Matter for Syfy.   Bringing some past talent from proven shows gives us hope for this series.

The crew of the Raza are known by numbers one through six: three men, two women, and a kid.  One of the men was drawn to look like Djimon Hounsou.   By the looks of the comic book art, the cargo-looking ship could exist in the same world as Firefly’s Serenity.  Here’s the description from the comic book: When the six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awaken from stasis in the farthest reaches of space, their memories of their pasts have been wiped clean.  The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination–a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone.

Dark Matter

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Star Wars Posters Abrams cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether a piece of art is appealing is in the eye of the beholder.  Everyone who gives a considered view to a piece of artwork is entitled to their own interpretation and commentary on it.  This month sees the release of a book that will allow the reader to take his or her own personal journey through the artwork that became the marketing posters for the Star Wars franchise.  Star Wars Art: Posters is the fifth and final hardcover installment in Abrams Books’ successful series pulling the best imagery from Lucasfilm.  It follows Star Wars Art: Visions, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and, to be reviewed soon here at borg.comStar Wars Art: Comics.  With Star Wars Art: Posters, the best was saved for last.

Star Wars Art: Posters is a purely visual experience.  It includes only the slightest amount of text or interpretational information.  A one-page commentary is included, written by each of noted Star Wars poster artists Drew Struzan and Roger Kastel.  They each recount their own experience with creating Star Wars poster art, but do not give an overview of the rest of the galaxy of poster art.  Instead each piece of art is laid out roughly chronologically, stripped of the words and printed matter that would be needed for the completion of the final poster for distribution, but with a notation showing the artists’ name, date, significance, and medium.

Empire Strikes Back Kastel

Die hard fans of Star Wars will recognize many, if not most, of the included posters.  And you’ll find yourself embarking on your own nostalgic trip back nearly four decades.  Back to the first poster for the film from 1976: Howard Chaykin’s screaming imagery of Luke, Han, Leia and Ben, with lightsaber pointing downward, Tom Jung’s famous one-sheet–what most remember as the classic Star Wars poster, Tom Chantrell’s photo-real poster featuring Mark Hamill as Luke along with the rest of the main cast, and that famous circus-design poster by Charles White III and Drew Struzan.  My own trip back in time recalls the Del Nichols posters that were Coca-Cola giveaways, three of which are included in the book (and which covered the walls of my bedroom many years ago).

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SleepyHollow01_coverA   SleepyHollow01_coverB

Sleepy Hollow is one of the best returning series of the fall TV line-up.  Fox has it bundled with the new series Gotham on Monday nights, giving the other networks some real competition.  Created by Star Trek talents Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Sleepy Hollow expands Washington Irving’s story into a modern supernatural mystery-adventure.

Tom Mison is Ichabod Crane, who finds himself in the town of Sleepy Hollow more than 200 years after his death.  He partners with a local police lieutenant, Abbie Mills, played by Nicole Beharie.  In its second season, Crane’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter) has been kidnapped by the Headless Horseman, and Crane’s son turns out to be a psychopath, played by John Noble (Lord of the Rings, Fringe).

Sleepy Hollow Wada cover   Sleepy Hollow Stevenson cover

Sleepy Hollow is great Halloween season TV watching, and it now has a new comic book tie-in series arriving at comic book stores today.  We have a preview of Issue #1 after the break, courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

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Grant Gustin as The Flash

Gotham is now two episodes past its pilot, with the premiere for Season Three of Arrow this week along with the pilot for The Flash.  There’s one more DCU series–Constantine–coming later this month.  We’ve seen the first entries of the DC Comics universe on TV for the Fall 2014 season, so how did the first of the season openers fare?

We had low expectations for Gotham.  A series in Gotham with all the Bat-villains and Jim Gordon, but no Batman?  Whose idea was that?  Yet, tight writing and a story that proceeds at a fast pace coupled with a superb supporting cast of characters and actors behind the roles really make this a series we’re looking forward to each week.  That “boy scout” lead role for cop Jim Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, must be a thankless job, and far less fun to play than all those villains, including the best reason to watch Gotham in Gordon’s partner Harvey Bullock played by Donal Logue.  We reviewed the pilot earlier here at borg.com and we’re still happy with the direction of the series.

Routh on Arrow as Ray Palmer

If the season opener is any indication of the course of Season Three of CW’s Arrow, then consistency is the theme for this series.  We know these characters well now, and the actors all solidly fit in the shoes of our heroes, from Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen to David Ramsey as John Diggle, to Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Paul Blackthorne as Captain Lance, Arrow is a proven commodity.

Mix up Diggle’s role in Oliver’s team?  Taunt us with a relationship between Oliver and Felicity?  Kill off a major series hero?  The writers are sure going to keep us on our toes this year.

The highlight of all the DCU series so far is the introduction of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer–the man who would be The Atom.  It’s not lost on anyone watching that we are seeing the former big screen Superman face off with the Green Arrow right before our eyes.  As we saw with the NBC series Chuck, Routh is one of the best actors to pop in for guest starring roles.  Let’s just not take too much time before we see him transform into The Atom.  Please?

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Dale Cooper Twin Peaks

Showtime announced today that the Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning TV series Twin Peaks will return as a new limited series on Showtime in 2016.  Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the new third season, and Lynch will direct.  Set in the present day, Showtime said the new Twin Peaks will continue the lore of the original, promising “long-awaited answers” and “a satisfying conclusion” for the series’ fan base.  “The mysterious and special world of Twin Peaks is pulling us back.  We’re very excited.  May the forest be with you,” Lynch and Frost said in a joint statement.

Check out the brief YouTube teaser below, after the break.

For the few who missed the original on TV or in reruns or binge DVD marathons, Twin Peaks followed FBI agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, as he investigated the bizarre background behind the death of high school girl Laura Palmer.  It’s the “bizarre” that became the signature for the series, and its first season was as good as TV gets.  However, the slow resolution of multiple twists lost many viewers and ABC cancelled the series after two seasons.  Like The X-Files and Firefly, a loyal fan base pulled Hollywood into making a follow-up big screen feature, but it was even more indecipherable than the end of the TV series.

Dale Cooper and Audrey on Twin Peaks

Yet many fans couldn’t get enough.  That first season pulled in lifetime fans.  Remember college watching parties with Cooper’s trademark donuts and coffee?  And some of us made our own pilgrimage to Snoqualmie Falls, and the nearby Salish Lodge and town of Fall City, Washington, featured in the opening credits of the series (even making the treacherous hike down to the bottom of the falls)… and we had to buy the creepy tie-in book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer… and the soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti… and were serenaded to sleep for years by Julee Cruise’s Floating Into The Night CD.  To top it off, 25 years later we’re still hooked on Snoqualmie Falls Lodge pancake mix that we first picked up at the lodge (yep, damn good pancakes).

So what actors are coming back?

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Star Wars Rebels scene

Review by C.J. Bunce

Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, the premiere one-hour movie for the coming animated series, aired last night on DisneyXD.  If the first hour is any indication, Star Wars Rebels will likely appeal to the entire demographic of anyone under 13 years old.  To that end, the premiere hour could be considered a success.  But as the first visual incarnation of Star Wars in the hands of Disney, is it enough for the generations of loyal Star Wars adult fans?

Star Wars Rebels is targeted at kids primarily through its focus on Ezra, a teenage thief solely defined by his own survival.  The unfortunately franchise-defining, stilted Star Wars dialogue and loud voice readings could only appeal to the younger set of “whiz-bang” aficionados.  It’s “very Disney” with its constantly fart-sound emitting R5-D4-inspired droid named Chop–Disney just can’t get away from a goofy little fringe character in any of its films.  The good part is that Ezra is a ringer for Disney’s Aladdin, and if you liked Aladdin there may be hope for this character for you.

We previewed the first novel in the New Universe under Disney here at borg.com a few weeks ago, Star Wars: A New Dawn.  It featured an interesting, well-written story and was a good introduction of two key characters in the new animated series, a Jedi named Kanan Jarrus (voiced in the series by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and his partner Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall), a green Twi’lek woman.  The difference is the novel had none of the goofy-for-kids elements.

Star Wars Ghost crew

Star Wars Rebels defines the challenges that stories of the New Universe will face.  What are the essential elements that make something Star Wars?  More importantly, what are the minimal elements required so this is not just another science fiction story with a Star Wars label?  The first hour of the animated universe bombards us with references back to people, places, ships, uniforms, and artifacts of the first two trilogies.  Can’t something new be done and yet remain completely of the Star Wars world?  Some of the camaraderie on the rebel vessel approached that of Firefly, particularly with the gruff Jayne-like character, Zeb (voiced by Steve Blum), the couple Kana and Hera a bit like Zoe and Wash, and young bomb expert Sabine (voiced by Tiya Sircar) is a bit of a combination of the engineering skill of Kaylee and the borderline sociopath River.  Have all the good sci-fi ideas been used up?

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Smee as Richard III

Three huzzahs for historical re-enactor Domenic Smee, a 26-year old from England who has become part of the coolest event in non-fiction television in years, revealing that a skeletal deformity may not necessarily result in a disability, and a king may have been equal to the legend that he left behind.

You may recall the September 2012 archaeological dig in a parking lot that resulted in the confirmed find of the bones of King Richard III, who was said to have died bravely during the Wars of the Roses at the Battle of Bosworth Field against Henry Tudor and the Lancasters.  The discovery pulled together nearly every branch of science, and scientists even were able to create a 3D image of the famous king from Shakespeare’s play (“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York”).  We at borg.com listed the discovery as the Best Science News of 2013.

King Richard III printed bust

Now scientists have gone even further to get us to the truth behind the legend of this great king of 1485, revealed on Public Television’s Secrets of the Dead series episode “Resurrecting King Richard III.”  We thought the initial story from February 2013 that used DNA from a known distant descendant of the King’s royal line to prove the bones were indeed Richard III’s was incredible enough–the odds of locating a discarded or misplaced body and finding it 500 years later and not only identifying it, but identifying it as a famous king… it’s astronomical.

The bones of Richard III included a very disfigured spine–scoliosis.  Was the legendary story and contemporary accounts accurate?  Could he really have led the battle and fought so well in armor with such a condition?  When a researcher was airing a show in England on the king’s scoliosis, Domenic Smee was watching.  Turns out he has the rare scoliosis the king had, and he volunteered to be tested to see what physical limits the king may have experienced.

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Gordon and Bullock

Review by C.J. Bunce

Creating a Gotham City derived from the dark and sleazy world of the 1989 Batman film, but with a “Gotham Confidential” film noir spin, Fox’s new series Gotham managed to hit all the right notes in its Monday night premiere episode.  Like LA Confidential, it even stars a ringer for Russell Crowe, actor Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) as the rookie cop James Gordon.  But it’s the supporting cast and some tight writing that sticks to key parts of the DC Universe backstory that will have us back again next week.

Some elements are modified for this TV adaptation, of course, like the presence of a young Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) at the murder of the parents of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).  And Batwoman Kate Kane’s girlfriend and cop Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartegena) shows up far earlier in the DCU and, if we’re picking up the innuendo right, seems to have had a similar relationship with the would-be Barbara Gordon (now Gordon’s fiancée, not his daughter).  Will this Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards, Being Human, Merlin) go on to be Batgirl and/or Oracle?

Bruce Wayne in Gotham

But the most riveting and engaging performances in the pilot come from Gordon’s senior partner Detective Harvey Bullock, played by the ubiquitous Donal Logue (Vikings, Sneakers, The X-Files, Ghost Rider), almost reprising his gritty cop roles from the short-lived crime drama Life and the film Zodiac, and the introduction of a new villain, mid-level mob moll Fish Mooney, played in a sultry Eartha Kitt-inspired performance by Jada Pinkett Smith (Hawthorne, The Matrix Reloaded).  Logue proves again he could carry a TV series all by himself, and Smith also owns every scene she appears in.

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And now a word from our sponsor…

GE idea creature

Too many commercials.

Everywhere you go advertising is thrown at you.  From the margin on every web page showing you an ad for something you looked at yesterday at Amazon.com or on eBay, to the signs behind left field at the baseball game, to billboards on your way to work and quick-talking radio ads on your way home.

But once in a while you don’t mind so much.  Take the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials.  We’ve given our thumbs up to several past ads here at borg.com, like Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits in his Volvo commercial, Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” and his sci-fi milk ad, the Volkswagen Star Wars Cantina re-creation commercial went above and beyond, too.

So what are the best commercials you’ve seen this year?

GE has a new commercial featuring a giant muppet-like fellow that should get some consideration for all the emotion it packs into a fantasy-themed promotion.  Check it out here:

Earlier this year genre favorites Mark Strong (Green Lantern, Sherlock Holmes), Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3, Sneakers, Gandhi), and Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Thor 2) created a fun commercial for Jaguar with a British villain theme.  If you missed it earlier, here it is an extended version:

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George Takei Sulu in The Naked Time

If holographic television were available today, would you go right out and buy it?

We’re more than four years into the widespread availability of affordable consumer 3D television and the viewing public hasn’t embraced it yet.  My best guess is simply because they haven’t seen it yet, or they are basing their lack of interest on a poor viewing experience with 3D in a public theater.  At borg.com, we’ve got no skin in the game–we don’t work for or with the studios–we’re just after the best viewing experience possible.  And we’re completely sold on both 3D Blu-ray and the lesser discussed 2D/3D “upconversion” technology.

Distributors have been relatively slow at releasing 3D Blu-rays, the current standard for 3D home viewing.  Many films actually produced in 3D, like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series, are very quickly released now in a 3D Blu-ray.  Other films are converted to 3D in post-production, like Star Trek Into Darkness, and they are also released on 3D Blu-ray.  Both films look far superior to standard films–you can’t even compare the quality.  The distinctions between a true 3D film and a conversion are probably not all that noticeable to the average moviegoer with normal vision.  But what we’re focusing on today is something different.

Dathon and Picard in Darmok

A different category of conversion, called 2D/3D conversion, is available on certain affordable 3D televisions today.  This is a technology available to anyone with a 3D television that includes the upconvert technology and compatible 3D glasses.  For films, TV series, or even real-time live or pre-recorded television, this technology manipulates the images to create a real 3D experience for the viewer.  Sounds like a gimmick?  It’s not.  To test it, we tried 2D/3D upconverting on an episode of each of Star Trek, the original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The result?  We were blown away.  We think if you try it, you too will ask:  Why don’t we watch everything now in 3D, and why isn’t everyone talking about it?

If you’re waiting around for holographic TV, that’s pretty much what you’re getting here, too.  You can even get up and walk around without the 3D image going away.  The only thing you can’t do is walk completely around a floating object, which is what a true holographic TV experience should be.  But this is the next best thing.  We watched two acclaimed, classic Star Trek episodes, the original series episode “The Naked Time” and the NextGen series episode “Darmok” using a 3D television, a Blu-ray/DVD player and, for “The Naked Time” a remastered DVD version, and for “Darmok,” a remastered Blu-ray version.  We then applied the 3D television’s upconvert and easily adjusted the various 3D settings, such as “Standard” or “Cinema” or “Extreme,” tint, and brightness/backlighting, to create the best picture possible for the room lighting.

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