Category: Sci-Fi Café


Not likely to be the last we see of Star Wars animated television series from Disney, the successful four season run of Star Wars Rebels will wrap with its final episode March 5, 2018.  As each season has peppered fans with the official return of actors from the original George Lucas trilogy and prequels, as well as 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, at least one more major character will return in the series’ final seven episodes beginning next month.

Emperor Palpatine himself, Ian McDiarmid, joins original film cast members James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz, Warwick Davis, and Genevieve O’ Reilly, and an ultimate mash-up of actors from literally every major genre franchise, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gina Torres, Tom Baker, Brent Spiner, Jason Isaacs, Katee Sackhoff, Clancy Brown, Peter MacNicol, Sam Witwer, and Freddie Prinze, Jr.  McDiarmid reprises his role as the franchise’s top bad guy seen in the re-edit of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.  Although other original characters were voiced by new actors for characters like Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bail Organa, Darth Maul, Wedge Antilles, and General Dodonna, this is a rare treat in any franchise to see the return of an actor to an iconic role so many years later (that is, except the Doctor Who franchise, which has seen 7 of the original 13 actors who played Doctors return along with nearly every companion in the series’ 50 year history as part of Big Finish Productions’ 17 years of audioplays).

Sam Witwer provided the voice of Palpatine earlier in the series, but Lucasfilm pulled in McDiarmid for one last curtain call.  What will be the ultimate fate of Lothal, another loss like Scarif and Alderaan?  Will Ahsoka return?  Why didn’t we see Grand Admiral Thrawn in Rogue One?  Does Captain Rex live to fight at Endor in Return of the Jedi?  Fans of the series are waiting to see what happens to the key characters, the crew of The Ghost.  We know from Rogue One that Hera and Chopper survive.  Will Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, or Sabine make it out of Star Wars Rebels, too?

The end, and the answers to these questions are almost here.  Check out this new trailer for the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels:

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This year Buffy Summers, one of the greatest characters in the history of sci-fi and fantasy television and the #1 kick-ass heroine of all time in any medium celebrates a major benchmark as the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns twenty.  Dark Horse Comics–publisher of the Buffy comic books and related characters from the series including titles featuring Angel, Spike, and Faith–announced this past week that a new trade edition of its Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years monthly series is available for pre-order, and an adult coloring book for the series was released last week.

The television series was groundbreaking, its first episode airing March 10, 1997, on The WB.  With high school and college as a backdrop, the incomparable showrunner Joss Whedon was able to address racism, identity, bullying, guilt, death, first love, and heartbreak using demons as metaphors.  Never before on television had a teenage girl been empowered like Buffy, with smart writing, lovable characters, fun monster-of-the-week episodes, action-packed choreographed battles, and emotional and dramatic arcs that continued over seven years from 1997 to 2003.  Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, would go on to inspire other great shows with smart, strong, and empowered young women, including Veronica Mars and iZombie.

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It’s a subject of debate among Buffy fans, but some of the best episodes and story arcs of the series can be found in the first seasons of the series.  Dark Horse’s new collected edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years, titled Parental Parasite, taps into fans’ nostalgia, taking readers back to the first season of the series, when Buffy’s mom starts to want more “quality time” just as Buffy must secretly fend of monsters as part of her nightly slaying duties.

Dark Horse has taken Buffy all the way into four seasons of stories beyond the finale of the TV series.  Check out a cover gallery after the cut, and links to hardcover and trade editions of Seasons 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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Unlike the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the canon series Star Wars Rebels takes place in the classic trilogy timeline, where we get to see our favorite characters, like Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO, and Yoda, with the original actors voicing the characters (Leia excluded) in an era that is the most loved by the fan base.  It takes place five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, and it’s canon, which means all that happens there influences Star Wars Episode VIII and onward.

As one example, if you think Finn (the Stormtrooper who defects to the Resistance in Star Wars: A Force Awakens) is the first famous Star Wars character to defect from the Empire to fight for the good guys, think again.  Season Three has many reasons for Star Wars fans to keep watching.

The biggest news has been revealed in the DisneyXD previews:  Grand Admiral Thrawn becomes a part of Star Wars canon beginning tonight, voiced by Lars Mikkelsen.  Created by Timothy Zahn in the first expanded universe Star Wars trilogy novel, the excellent Heir to the Empire, Thrawn was the rare intelligent Imperial officer like Grand Moff Tarkin.  Dressed in the formal white uniform seen worn by a background actor in the original Star Wars, he is the blue-skinned humanoid who helped rebuild the Empire after the second Death Star was destroyed in Return of the Jedi.  We even see from the preview that his attending ysalimir are back.

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But that’s not all.  There are many other reasons to come back for more:

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Deep Space Nine:  The Animated Series.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

When so many years pass between projects, everyone ages and actors no longer reflect the look they had from decades ago.  But that isn’t so for voices.  What better way to continue a series that is no longer realistic as a live-action show but than to create a respectable animated version?  Just look at all the actors from the original Star Wars trilogy that came back to perform for DisneyXD’s animated series Star Wars Rebels–James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz.  And the opportunity for guest stars!  Rebels has seen characters voiced by Firefly’s Gina Torres, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs, and Doctor Who’s Tom Baker!  The sky (galaxy, etc.) is truly the limit.

The Star Trek franchise is relatively untapped compared to what Disney is exploiting with its Star Wars franchise in only its first year in “let’s make money” mode.  What is CBS and Paramount waiting for?  So why not get to work on a Deep Space Nine animated series?  Former DS9 writer/producer Ira Steven Behr announced this weekend that he has been creating a DS9 documentary, which he says includes contributions from original Deep Space Nine writers.  As part of the film he had the writers break down the story for how they might see an episode one of Deep Space Nine Season 8.  Insert mic drop here.

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Who doesn’t want to see that?  But why stop there?  The dismissive, easy answer is that coordination of schedules will make it difficult, another Trek TV series and movie are in the works, etc.  But all CBS and Paramount need to do is think bigger.  Like Disney.  And if the idea isn’t enough to spark some momentum, how about this great mock-up of the DS9 cast as they might look in a Season 8 created by artist Josh Howard (above, top) from the artist back in 2013 (check out his website here), the countless comic book adaptations published over the years (above), or illustrator Anna Rettberg’s vision from 2012 (check out her website here):

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Fall TV banner

Now that the major networks have revealed their new TV series for the Fall line-up, what of the new series is worth adding to your must-watch list?  While we’re curious about the new offerings from the cable networks, we see many reasons to at least try out the pilot for several series, based on the genre, the subject, or the inclusion of some of our favorite actors.  We previewed Marvel’s Agents of Shield last week from ABC, and no other series looks to have as much appeal for genre fans as more Joss Whedon and Marvel characters.  But we’ve found 15 of the two dozen new series that have some reason to take notice, many with trailers that have been released with the announcements.  But be warned, despite some great actors, many of these previews look pretty bad and we’re only posting the trailers for you to judge for yourself.  if you want to save time, go directly to the previews for Almost Human, The Michael J. Fox Show, Dracula, and Sleepy Hollow, which look like the best of the new series the Fall has to offer–at least from the networks.

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Moving past Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the reason you might give Back in the Game a try is because of the lead, Psych’s Maggie Lawson, as well as James Caan.  It looks like a comedy version of Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve.  As much as we like Lawson and Caan, we’ll probably skip this one.  Check it out for yourself:

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ABC also has a spinoff of its Once Upon a Time series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland We gave Once Upon a Time a try in its first season and it held our interest for several episodes because of series lead Jennifer Morrison, but an Alice in Wonderland spinoff?  The trailer makes this look better than Once upon a Time and it looks like more of a sequel than a real tie-in to Once Upon a Time.  And it does have John Lithgow playing the White Rabbit.  Check it out:

[removed from YouTube by network]

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The only reason we’ll mention Welcome to the Family is because of lead Mary McCormack, who we loved on In Plain Sight.  Other than that it looks like just another Parenthood series with an overdone culture-clash theme.  Here’s the trailer:

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Michael J. Fox is returning to TV with The Michael J. Fox Show.  On paper the description of this show looked almost cringe-worthy:  a series about a celebrity named Mike returning to TV who left to deal with his Parkinson’s.   But then you watch the trailer and only Michael J. Fox could make this look hilarious.  This series may be a very big win:

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Orphan Black - Sarah at train station

Review by C.J. Bunce

From the first scene of Orphan Black you can’t help getting reeled in.  Although the pilot opens with a woman walking in front of a passenger train, the world of a street urchin instantly is propelled like a freight train into strange, new territory for fans of action and sci-fi.  Not since last year’s pilot for NBC’s short-lived series Awake were we so quickly certain a series had to be added to the must-watch list.  That’s saying something since there have been so many new series to try on this year, series like The Following, Cult, and even the more recent Bates Motel that have already started to stack up in the viewing backlog.  With series like Lost Girl, Psych, Arrow, Continuum, Grimm, Dallas, New Girl, and now Doctor Who back from hiatus locked-in the must-see TV realm, Orphan Black is pretty much a late but welcome entry, especially to the sparse Saturday night line-up.

Orphan Black changing appearances

Orphan Black has a completely cool look–big city, edgy, dark places, with an equally cool lead in Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany.  Maslany, who has a bit of the look of actress Summer Glau, plays a Brit who encounters what could be her twin at a train stop in New York City, but it’s all filmed in the not-quite-the-same looking streets of Ontario.  The women look each other in the eye and this is so well filmed you don’t question that these are two separate people despite Maslany playing both roles.  The pilot manages to take some extraordinary circumstances and render them believable, a rewarding feat successfully handled, due to good acting and a story that answers every question the audience could ask, and each question real people in these situations would ask.

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The 2011 San Diego Comic-Con is just ten days away.  Sold out months in advance as with past years, again more than 100,000 comics, sci-fi, fantasy, movie, TV and gaming fans will descend on the beautiful waterfront convention center for this year’s event.  Comic-Con organizers released the programming schedule for the four-day convention this weekend, and as usual there is something for everyone.

At the top of my list our own borg.com contributor, author Elizabeth C. Bunce, will be giving away advance copies of her new fantasy novel Liar’s Moon and will speak on a panel with other genre authors as part of the Saturday line-up.  She will also be available for signing copies of her new book, the sequel to StarCrossed in her Thief Errant series.  If don’t you don’t get a copy at Comic-Con you’ll have to wait until its official release in November from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic .

DC Comics has several presentations involving the September release/re-launch of 52 comic titles, including panels featuring Jim Lee and several writers and artists.  Digital artist  Freddie Williams II (Captain Atom, DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics) is scheduled to be in “artist’s alley” again this year and internationally known artist Alex Nino (God the Dyslexic Dog) will be featured in one panel.

Some great TV series cast presentations are scheduled to appear–the entire cast of Chuck, Psych, Warehouse 13, and Torchwood are at the top of the list along with a presentation by the one and only Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice.  The current Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith, is slated to be on a panel.

Another panel features Rick Baker, monster maker, talking about making creatures for the future release, Men in Black III.

The fan group OneRing.net will hosting a panel on the coming Hobbit movie and they hint at one or more surprise guestsand Mugglenet will be featured in a separate panel discussing the final Harry Potter installment.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four, Horatio Hornblower) will preview their new TV series thriller Ringer in one of the big convention ballrooms.

Other interesting scheduled presenters include Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead), William Shatner (Star Trek), Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Elijah Wood (Wilfred, LOTR), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Terry Moore (Echo, Strangers in Paradise).

You can also depend on the major studios to preview coming theatrical releases both on and offsite at this year’s show.  Too much for any one person to see! 

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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