Category: TV


iss_5If there was a best time to be off-planet it would seem to be right now, right?  Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir are the three astronauts of Expedition 62 currently working aboard the International Space Station, in its 20th year of consistently-manned orbit around Earth.  Morgan launched into space July 20, 2019, for an extended duration mission, and Meir and Skripochka left for the space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on Sept. 25, 2019, all well in advance of the current COVID-19 threat.  To date the ISS has been visited by–lived in by–239 men and women from 19 countries.  Follow Meir @Astro_Jessica and Morgan @AstroDrewMorgan via Twitter for advice on living happily in isolation, and get a look at some of the scientific research they have accomplished on their mission.

The next trio of space travelers is scheduled to take off for the International Space Station tomorrow, April 9.  They have been in quarantine with the space programs increasing their already rigorous disinfection and inspection protocols in light of the current pandemic.  NASA has not released detailed protocols should an astronaut be found to have COVID-19 during the mission, however, the ISS is stocked with a small pharmacy full of pharmaceuticals, including advanced equipment that could be used to intubate an astronaut if necessary.

 

NASA TV will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch and arrival at the orbiting laboratory (also available on the NASA website).  NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are set to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:05 a.m. CDT (1:05 p.m. Kazakhstan time).  After the four-orbit, six-hour journey to the space station, the new crew members will dock at 9:16 a.m. CDT.  They will join Skripochka, Morgan, and Meir, who are scheduled to complete their station mission and return to Earth April 17 on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, which will land in Kazakhstan.

To catch Cassidy, Morgan, and Meir live, check out a teleconference at 9:45 a.m. CDT Friday, April 10.  The teleconference will stream on NASA TV and the NASA website, with the astronauts answering questions from orbit.

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Kingdom J

We’ve seen Netflix take this approach successfully with series like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Take a Netflix successful series and splice in a standalone episode to surprise and please the fanbase.  This time it’s for a series we pegged as one of the Top 40 of the past decade, the South Korean brilliant horror mash-up, KingdomTwo seasons of the series (the first reviewed here, the second reviewed here) have everything: a great historical drama, royal family betrayals, medieval action, pandemic politics, and zombie horror, all supported across a giant, beautiful Korean landscape.  Kingdom isn’t what you’d think of as K-drama, at least not your typical romance heavy fantasy.  This month Netflix is surprising its viewers with what it calls a “sidequel,” a feature-length movie about a fringe character that arrived in the second season.  Check out a preview and images from Kingdom: Ashin of the North, below:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Timing of the debut of a horror genre series on Friday the 13th isn’t that much of a clever stretch, unless your series is about a plague and it’s launched on this particular Friday the 13th.  It’s a shame that with most people staying home there won’t be a water cooler to circle around to discuss Netflix’s latest and greatest release.  That’s the second season of Kingdom, the fantastic, epic tale of villagers in medieval 16th century South Korea dealing with a deadly plague.  Check out my review of the first season here at borg.  I am a bit envious of those who get to watch the first and second season together, because there are subtle hints in the first season that will have a greater impact if you remember them as the many twists and surprises are unveiled.  “Ripped from the headlines,” about a zombie series?  Who would have thought that was possible?

And yet it is.  The first strange irony is that the production was South Korea’s first international release via Netflix, with its topic mirroring people from differing statuses coping with a sweeping virus, government incompetence and mismanagement, and the disparate treatment of economic classes.  Unprepared for what lies ahead, a king is infected with a plague that renders him uncapable of leading.  A group of thug-like mobsters takes the opportunity to position their candidate to take the throne–only he is not ready to lead.  In fact, he doesn’t even exist–yet.  The actual person best able to lead–the rightful heir to the throne, a prince played in classic Shakespearean stateliness by Ju Ji-hoon–has been pushed aside and exiled.  He soon learns his people are threatened by a novel virus–a virus that restores the dead, but not as their former selves.  That was in the first season.  In the new season we learn that the truth behind the virus is even stranger than we could have expected.  As a physician (played by the excellent Doona Bae) struggles to find a cure, the heir to the kingdom attempts to save his people and return to seize the throne from the young, ruthless queen (played by Kim Hye-jun), who is at least partly to blame for his plight.

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The result is a second season that matches the success of the first–the best zombie show you’ve ever seen, while also seizing the opportunity to bring a certain gravity along by steeping the story in a historical context.  And now that many have lived a few days with the threat of a deadly virus at bay, you may find the series takes on its own different, unexpected, heavy level of drama.  You might agree the nature of the threat in the series makes for the least “fantasy” version of a zombie story you’ve yet seen on film or television.  Kingdom is as much science fiction as fantasy, but it’s like that science fiction you’ve seen from Stan Lee superhero creations, and all his character origin stories resulting from misapplied science.  You’ll also find plenty of heroes and villains.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Happy New Year!  My wish for everyone is they get their own bacta tank jacuzzi to help recover from last year… and the year before that, and…

It’s been 38.5 years since I first saw Boba Fett die, at the sneak preview of Return of the Jedi.  It was the low point of the movie–I’d rather they’d kill off Han Solo.  Let the mysterious bounty hunter drift off into the sunsets.  Practically speaking it meant decades of no Boba Fett, and nothing but minor appearances of Boba Fett in the Marvel comic books.  So we’ve all had a long time to picture how Boba Fett survives bumbling into the Great Pit of Carkoon, nesting place of the all-powerful Sarlacc, to be slowly digested over 1,000 years, which was as baffling as making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.  Now thanks to Jon Favreau, we get to see the vision in his head, in the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, now streaming on Disney Plus.  (Moderate episode highlights and a revisit to 1983 and 1997 follow).

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Sometimes the inbox offers up something really exciting and fun.  Today the HISTORY channel greenlighted ten episodes of the unscripted series In Search Of, hosted and executive produced by Zachary Quinto, who audiences all met in the series Heroes, and now everyone knows as the actor who played the parallel universe (“Kelvin Timeline”) version of Mr. Spock opposite Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock.  The original In Search Of… was your humble Editor’s own first introduction to Leonard Nimoy as a kid in the 1970s.  The series was a weekly show between 1977 and 1982, first briefly hosted by Rod Serling, but it became synonymous with Nimoy’s one-of-a-kind narration.  In 2002 Syfy Channel tried to reboot the show with our favorite FBI director actor Mitch Pileggi as the host, but that was short-lived.   Inspired by the iconic 1970s’ franchise, the new series will examine unexplained phenomena from all over the world.  As HISTORY stated in its press release: “UFOs and paranormal mysteries remain relevant as the Pentagon recently acknowledged a secret UFO program which investigated sightings of UFOs from 2007 – 2012.”

The Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, Atlantis, Amelia Earhart, Easter Island, the Loch Ness monster, Stonehenge, the Mayans, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania, the Shroud of Turin, D.B. Cooper, and the Holy Grail.  If you were a kid in the 1970s, the odds are you learned about all of these from Nimoy on this series.  The mix of mythology and lore and fact and fiction with the authority of Nimoy prompted me to check out books on the subjects from my local library to investigate further about which stories seemed plausible and which didn’t.  An updated instrumentation or at least a new recording of the classic theme song will be a must for fans of the original show.

“I am so excited to be reimagining ‘In Search Of’ and exploring new questions and phenomena with all of the advancements in science and technology from which we have benefitted in the past forty years since the original series first aired,” said Quinto.  “In the spirit of my late dear friend Leonard Nimoy, we intend to honor and perpetuate his endless curiosity about the world – and universe – in which we live.”

If you missed the series, just watch this classic episode from Nimoy, In Search Of… Bigfoot:

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As predicted by Bob Gale in his script for Back to the Future II, it was the destiny of the Chicago Cubs to be playing–in fact sweeping–last year’s World Series.  As we sat in Kauffman Stadium last year and watched the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets we were disappointed the Cubs weren’t there.  Science fiction never seems to get it right, but Gale–and the Cubs–were so close last year, much like the Royals were the prior year.  Science fiction rarely even comes close, as you’ll discover especially if you read many classic sci-fi novels from the early and mid-twentieth century.  Just look how far off course in date predictions forward thinkers were, like Arthur C. Clarke (we’re still waiting for much of his 2001), Philip K. Dick (the novel inspiring Blade Runner takes place in 1992), and Gene Roddenberry (Khan controlled much of Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s).

But history was made last night when the Cubs broke their 108 year gap between Series wins.  Would 1908 Cubs stars Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, or Joe Tinker have believed it if you told them their team would be on the outs so long?  How about contemporary science fiction visionaries George Melies, Thomas Edison, Charles Urban, H.G. Wells, or Mark Twain?

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1908 baseball cards were tiny, weren’t they?

Just how long ago is 108 years anyway?  In 1908 Shackleton was heading to New Zealand, and explorers finally made it to the North Pole, Wilbur Wright was demonstrating this new flying vehicle called the airplane in Europe, and Henry Ford created his first Model T, Teddy Roosevelt declined to run for a third presidential term paving the way for the election of William Howard Taft (who would go on to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia, and Albert Einstein had just introduced his special theory of relativity.  1908 was a very different world and plenty of history has filled the gap, with countless millions of fans–an entire generation born, living and dying–watching the Cubs games without the big win, many from 1914 onward at the site of the baseball field that would carry chewing gum’s William Wrigley’s famous name.  It is “just a game,” yet the game itself survived plenty just as its fans survived plenty.

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Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here, and the Best in Television 2018 here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best Read, Best Sci-fi Read – The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey (Titan Books).  The Synapse Sequence is one of those standout reads that reflects why we all flock to the latest new book in the first place.  The detective mystery, the future mind travel tech, the twists, and the successful use of multiple perspectives made this one of the most engaging sci-fi reads since Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.  Honorable mention: Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).

Best Retro Read – Killing Town by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime).  The lost, first Mike Hammer novel released for the 100th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s birth was gold for noir crime fans.  This first Hammer story introduced an origin for a character that had never been released, in fact never finished, but Spillane’s late career partner on his work made a seamless read.  This was the event of the year for the genre, and a fun ride for his famous character.  Honorable mention: Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake.

Best Tie-In Book – Solo: A Star Wars Story–Expanded Edition novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).  Not since Donald Glut’s novelization of The Empire Strikes Back had we encountered a Star Wars story as engaging as this one.  Lafferty took the final film version and Lawrence and Jon Kasdan’s script to weave together something fuller than the film on-screen.  Surprises and details moviegoers may have overlooked were revealed, and characters were introduced that didn’t make the final film cut.  Better yet, the writing itself was exciting.  We read more franchise tie-ins than ever before this year, and many were great reads, but this book had it all.  Honorable Mention: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove (Titan).

Best Genre Non-fiction – Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young (Insight Editions).  A compelling look at the director and his relationship with the leading women in his films, this new work on Hitchcock was filled with information diehard fans of Hitchcock will not have seen before.  Young incorporated behind-the-scenes images, costume sketches, and a detailed history of the circumstances behind key films of the master of suspense and his work with some of Hollywood’s finest performers.

There’s much more of our selections for 2018’s Best in Print to go…

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a superhero of sorts to science fans everywhere.  He’s one of the best scientists anywhere at explaining the mysteries of science in a way anyone can understand.  Now he’s helped Superman find the possible location of his home planet, Krypton in a great mash-up of science fiction meets science fact.  Dr. Tyson, longtime star of borg.com favorite TV series NOVA Science Now on Public Television, teamed up with DC Comics to locate a star close enough to Earth that could fall under all the criteria published over the years about the place where Superman’s parents sent him on the voyage that ultimately led to a cornfield outside Smallville, Kansas.  Tyson will make his debut comic book appearance in Action Comics Issue #14, released this week.

Red dwarf LHS 2520 fit the bill, and can be located via telescope in the southern sky in the constellation Corvus the crow, 27.1 light years from Earth at the following coordinates:

J2000
Right Ascension: 12 hours 10 minutes 5.77 seconds
Declination: -15 degrees 4 minutes 17.9 seconds
Proper Motion: 0.76 arcseconds per year, along 172.94 degrees from due north

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Mythbusters SW logo

Last Saturday Mythbusters took on Star Wars story elements in one of its best shows in its long run.  How do Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman keep up the momentum?  By sticking to the show’s unique format, keeping the original duo of makers and breakers that got us hooked on mythbusting in the first place, and giving fans the only place they can see science presented like nowhere else.  Giving us a season opener with the greatest space fantasy of all time proves the series can continue as long as these guys want it to keep running.

The first Star Wars element they pursued in the Star Wars special was the chasm scene in A New Hope where Luke and Leia swing to safety in the Death Star while being pursued by Stormtroopers.  Instead of simply proving out each element–which they did by testing a grappling hook, and having Jamie swing across with and without a Leia stand-in–they went into full cosplay mode with Jamie in Luke’s outfit and Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion cosplay group acting out the scene.  Although Jamie noted that in a life or death situation it’d be difficult to get that grappling hook to stick on the first try, they determined the whole scene plausible.  A big win for Star Wars considering these guys usually find movie myths don’t make the cut.

Savage and Hyneman SW special

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It’s less than two weeks until 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International will host more than 150,000 fans of sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes and other pop culture, and SDCC has now released the entire panel schedule for this year’s big show.  If you haven’t been to the modern-day Greatest Show on Earth, it should at least be on your bucket list, but beware:  if you attend the show once you’ll want to keep going back.

Tickets as usual were sold out months ago, but for those attending this year’s show, we have some quick links to the event list so you can start planning your days now.

This year’s panels prove yet again that you shouldn’t listen to the naysayers who claim SDCC doesn’t focus on comic book artists and writers.  Even more events are occurring this year focused on the comic book medium, including benchmarks like Batman’s 75th anniversary.  Yet there are also all of those big panels planned full of this summer’s movie blockbusters and big-name casts and the casts and creators of your favorite television series.

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First and most importantly you’ll want to download to your smart phone the SDCC handy My Schedule app here.  We’ve used it before and it’s a great help when you’re in the crowd and can’t get into one panel but you want to try the dash for another one or you just get tired of walking the main hall with Artists’ Alley and the dealer booths and you want to sit down and see something new for an hour.

Having trouble choosing from all the panels?  We think the biggest event and best bang for your buck will be the Warner Bros. panel we previewed a few days ago here with pilots and previews of DC Entertainment series The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, and Arrow.  After the break we pulled some other panels you might like if you follow borg.com regularly.

Here are the quick links to each day’s panel events for SDCC 2014:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 Preview Night

Thursday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

Friday, July 25, 2014 Panel Schedule

Saturday, July 26, 2014 Panel Schedule

Sunday, July 24, 2014 Panel Schedule

SDCC 2014 banner

Here are some panels to consider (after the break):

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