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Tag Archive: Chuck


Review by C.J. Bunce

After the 2019 Academy Awards recognized genre films Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and gave top awards to Green Book and Roma, ABC aired the pilot for a new series.  Whiskey Cavalier begins with a solid pilot episode, and you can find it in its weekly timeslot beginning Wednesday evening on ABC.  It borrows from two familiar sources for network TV: the spy genre, like Mission: Impossible, iSpy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Avengers, and Chuck, and the “will they or won’t they” investigation shows like Moonlighting, The X-Files, Bones, Castle, and Private Eyes.  Whiskey Cavalier–the military/NATO spy call sign for FBI agent Will Chase (yes, that’s his name), stars Scott Foley opposite CIA Agent Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge, played by Lauren Cohan.  It’s more action and fun than drama–a good thing that works for this offbeat new series.

The first episode finds Agent Chase as a sad sack agent, recently dumped by his French girlfriend, crying as he listens to songs from his break-up mix tape, assembled from recommendations from other FBI agents.  Those familiar with Michael Dorman’s lead character in Amazon Studio’s series Patriot will see much in common between the leads.  Chase doesn’t have his heart in his job until he’s in action, and then he becomes full-on Jack Ryan (actor Scott Foley has a vibe crossing Jack Ryan series star John Krasinski and White Collar co-star Tim DeKay, and the pilot includes a humorous reference to his Chris Evans’ Captain America appearance).

As Chase tries to intercept an alleged hacker/thief/traitor, CIA Agent Trowbridge steps in, and that’s when the chemistry begins.  You can almost hear the 1970s movie trailer voice-over: “What can happen when we combine this sensitive FBI agent and this tough-as-nails CIA spy?  Can they work together to save the world without killing each other?”  And yet, the pilot was edited into a fast-paced drama, not at all bogged down in origin story, and it supplies a supporting cast of characters that seem to gel from the start, played by Ana Ortiz, Vir Das, and Tyler James Williams.  In brief, it’s fun and it works.

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Sesame Street at NerdHQ

Nerd HQ offered up a great variety of panels from the best of TV Saturday.  Here are some great panels to check out.  After four years of 45 minute panels offered just yards from San Diego Comic-Con, many of these have become a source for stand-up comedy from the actors.  See for yourself.

First up what may be the best panel idea ever, the voices and muppets themselves, from Sesame Street, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert, and Murray.  And Grover reveals the true identity of Super Grover.  This one can’t be missed.

A Conversation with Sesame Street

Intruders TV Series Panel with John Simm, Mira Sorvino & Glen Morgan

Orphan Black Panel with Tatiana Maslany and Other Cast Members

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By C.J. Bunce

When pondering what I want to see in the movie theater that hasn’t arrived yet I think a lot about several Philip K. Dick short stories, or TV series that I’d love to see continued on the big screen, like a big screen Magnum, P.I., or Simon & Simon or Chuck—although if it is as underwhelming as the last X-Files movie then maybe not.  I’d love to see some early twentieth century biopics of Bix Beiderbecke or Karl King (who, among other things, composed the circus themes for Ringling Brothers and played in Sousa’s band).  And it would be fun to take a bunch of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass songs from South Of The Border and The Lonely Bull and make them the soundtrack to a modern spaghetti Western, sort of like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with She’s The One A good Green Arrow or Bionic Man movie, or a good sequel to Return of the Jedi would all be fun.  And some things have been done already, but not quite right.  Space Ghost had his own cartton then interview show, but how about an adaptation of the serious origin series by Joe Kelly?  A big budget movie based on Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air could be awesome (the TV version suffered a bit despite a good cast).  The Russian story of Lieutenant Kije was filmed more than half a century ago with music by Prokofiev, but it needs a good updating.  We’ve seen four Tom Clancy novels about Jack Ryan, but the creepiest of the series, Debt of Honor, has yet to be made.

A lot of films have been made, and in coming up with this list one of my ideas–a film featuring Super Grover and the cast of Sesame Street–seemed long overdue.  I figured Sesame Street got bypassed for the Muppets, as shown in a funny scene from The Muppet Movie where Fozzie the Bear offers Big Bird a ride to the west coast to break into movies, and Big Bird says no thanks, he’s trying to break into public television back in New York.  Well, apparently they made that movie back in 1985 and I missed it, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That BirdYou can’t know everything.

For me this list was tough until I moved away from books as source material.  I think the movies I see in my head are better than how some of my ideas would likely turn out produced by the studios.  But let’s get on with it–with a nod to Art Schmidt for his idea with DC Comics and Jason McClain for mentioning Connie Willis.

    

From the comic books:  DC Comics’ Dark Knight Returns and Hard-Traveling Heroes

At lunch in high school my friends and I fantasy-cast Batman: The Dark Knight Returns over and over.  Ultimately we arrived at (the now late) Paul Newman as the ideal retired Batman, in the graphic novel another wealthy race car driver type.  In real life Newman was very much the Bruce Wayne interpreted in Frank Miller’s four-issue series-turned required-reading—as suave guy, well-liked, a wealthy philanthropist.  In a different universe Clint Eastwood would be great fun as a superhero coming out of retirement to have that last hoorah with the Batman cowl.  Probably too late now.  Of all the Batman stories, The Dark Knight Returns is #1–it is so well-established as more than a cult favorite, even beyond Watchmen, you just have to ask DC Comics and the Hollywood machine:  Why can’t someone just put it on the big screen?

I’ve said over and over here at borg.com that the best Green Lantern story ever is his team up with Green Arrow and Black Canary in Neal Adams’ and Dennis O’Neil’s classic Green Lantern Issues #76-87 and 89, the so-called “Hard Traveling Heroes.”  Imagine Black Canary pulling up on her motorcycle.  Imagine Green Arrow defending the kid robbing the slumlord.  Imagine Green Arrow catching Speedy.  Imagine Hal, Ollie and Dinah driving across America in their pick-up truck.  And harpies.  And encountering a religious cult.  And more harpies.

I’ll echo Art Schmidt: DC Comics needs to catch up with Marvel Comics movies, with Iron Man (the first one), Captain America: The First Avenger, and with Fantastic Four’s brilliant realization of Human Torch and The Thing, maybe my favorite heroes to screen so far.  OK, they nailed it with Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman.  Hopefully with The Avengers, Marvel Comics sets a new bar that DC Comics will have to work toward with a multi-hero story, maybe even with the Justice League or Superfriends.  Art’s recommended Cry for Justice, which we have discussed here before, is a great choice for this.

From the sci-fi novel: Remake, by Connie Willis

If you haven’t read Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Connie Willis’s books then you are in for a great ride through one of several fun and varied works.  For me, the concepts and Hollywood prophesies in her novel Remake are too cool to pass up and I have no doubt represent a foreshadowing of the future of film only slightly touched on in the Ralph Fiennes film Strange DaysRemake is science fiction at its best, and was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1996.

In our near future, Hollywood no longer needs to make new productions.  A film technician rearranges classic films via computer manipulation, so that the viewer can select who he wants to watch the next time he watches Raiders of the Lost Ark.  How about John Wayne?  How about Humphrey Bogart?  Why not edit out all the cigarettes so we no longer encourage smoking for future viewers?  What other movies would be fun to manipulate?  This is the world of our future where Viacom and Paramount are now Viamount, where actors are reduced to stand-ins.  OK, so it probably won’t really be our future as totally envisioned by Willis.

The technician falls for a strange woman who wants to dance in a musical and he is continually sidetracked as he pursues her through the novel.  The love story is well done—but it’s the world of our future that would be fun to see, finally, on the big screen.  And you would not need to film an entire movie, simply clips, like the old soda pop ads that blended dead celebrities with living ones, and that allowed Nat King Cole to star in a modern music video with his grown daughter, the singer Natalie Cole.  Hollywood has the technology today—so why not see how far CGI can go?

I’d frankly love to see any Willis book adapted to film, and in addition those mentioned by others in this series, Bellwether and To Say Nothing of the Dog would be great picks.

From the sci-fi novel: Fantastic Voyage 2: Destination Brain, by Isaac Asimov

When the original Fantastic Voyage was in theaters in 1966, Isaac Asimov created the novelization.  He was not happy with it because he was adapting someone else’s work (it was based on a Jerome Bixby story).  The original film reflected Hollywood basically at its infancy with special effects related to the future of medicine.  In its day it was a good effort.  With the 1987 novel Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain, which was not a sequel but an entirely new story, Asimov created the world inside a microscope that only he could envision.  The book is like Dennis Quaid in Innerspace, but with a serious mission and tone.  A group of scientists, such as you would find in the typical multi-disciplined problem solving team from a Michael Crichton novel, shrink themselves down to microscopic size to enter into the brain and try to diagnose the condition of a colleague, Dr. Pyotor Shapirov, the creator of the very technology that finally allows man to transport to such a miniscule size.

In 2001 Imax theaters featured a documentary on its giant-sized screens called The Human Body.  Audiences were able to see (and sometimes be grossed out by) the inner workings of the body.  Filmmakers would hardly need much by way of CGI to show a voyage through the cells.  Maybe this would be fun to attempt for some creative producer, and a project showing yet another frontier of science to science fiction fans.

From the art gallery: the cinematic paintings of Edward Hopper

How about a story for stage or screen where each scene begins or ends as an Edward Hopper painting?  And the focal character is the girl from his Automat, maybe also the same girl from his Chop Suey painting?  New York Movie, First Row Orchestra, Summertime, Cape Cod Evening—they all tell some secret story.  Or at least they all could, in the right filmmaker’s hands.

Hopper’s cinematic compositions and use of light and shadow has caused filmmakers to mimic his style before.  House by the Railroad supposedly influenced the house in the Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the home in the Terrence Malick film Days of Heaven.  Director Wim Wenders’ film The End of Violence incorporates a tableau vivant of Nighthawks. Surrealist horror film director Dario Argento recreated the diner and the patrons in Nighthawks as part of a set for his 1976 film Deep Red.  Hopper has inspired both Blade Runner and Road to Perdition.

Turner Classic Movies uses animated recreations of Hopper paintings as introductions to classic films and in That ’70s Show the producers recreated the diner from Nighthawks.  But how about a full-scale movie showing us something about these characters we don’t know?  That’s something I’d love to see on the big screen.

From the ancient history books: the world briefly changed by Akhenaten

I could find a non-fiction work for the adaptation, but it’s the story itself I really want to see here.  The pharaoh Akhenaten was the leader of Egypt for about 17 years from circa 1353 B.C. to 1335 B.C.  He was married to Nefertiti and had six or seven daughters and at least one son–Tutankhamen.  In his reign he revamped the religion of his country like never before, moving from a polytheistic pantheon of gods to the worship of a single god, the Aten, or sun-disk.  Following his reign the empire was returned to its prior state and for Akhenaten’s blasphemy his name was chiseled out of a significant part of the written record.  Art during his reign became more expressive and naturalistic.  Images of the pharaoh show a realistic image that hid no flaws, a long face, not the typical glorification and heroic imagery of Egyptian leaders before and after.  Akhenaten is so interesting from a number of levels that it would be a great challenge to reflect his reign in film.  Certainly a rebel and not a traditionalist.  A stunning wife.  How do you show all the Egyptian relationships—including accepted inbreeding as a norm–without coming off as judgmental?  As pharaoh he was “one with the god Aten.”  How do you portray daily life in an interesting way where the ruler is God and what could you show about his family on film?  A great pandemic swept across the Middle East during this period, taking out the Hittite ruler Suppiluliuma, and how did they manage through that?  But even more interesting, with all the stories of the history of conflict in Egypt, what did life look like during the years of Egypt’s own version of Camelot?  This all would be incredible to depict.

From fantasy opera:  Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung

I have only seen one version of The Ring that comes close to clarifying this odd and complex story composed of four epic operas for a general audience: P. Craig Russell’s two volume graphic novel of The Ring of the Nibelung.  A few years ago I discussed The Ring with Russell and he said it was a great effort to produce it and it became a sort of magnum opus for him.  But even an adaptation of Russell’s adaptation would need streamlined for mainstream audiences—yet, it would be a great starting point.  Predating that other famous fantasy ring series (the one by J.R.R. Tolkien) by decades, Wagner’s opera is epic in scope and length, taking four nights or 15 hours to perform the full opera.  We already have a superb soundtrack from Wagner, but can someone make a feature-length, meaningful adaptation in the English language that conveys the energy and power of the original without all the nonlinear bits and pieces?  The reward would be a giant vision of gods, heroes, mythical creatures and magic.

Other operas due for a good movie?  The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro.

More than any of the above I would love to see our own Elizabeth C. Bunce’s retelling of Rumplestiltskin, A Curse Dark As Gold (maybe a classic PBS/BBC series or Hayao Miyazaki anime film would be fun) or her fantasy noir Thief Errant series on-screen.  A Curse Dark As Gold has already been performed superbly in a full-length audio CD version by a Broadway actress so I’ve had a little taste of what it would be like to witness it fully played out.  And speaking of ECB, tomorrow she’ll give us her take on stories that should be adapted for the big screen.

Chuck Bartowski, Morgan Grimes, Sarah Walker, John Casey, Jeff, Lester, Big Mike, Ellie, Awesome, and General Beckman say goodbye tonight in the series finale of Chuck.  The show that fans kept going and going ended up running five seasons, each with some memorable moments.  So what will we see in tonight’s show?  With two hours there is a lot to wrap up and likely a lot that won’t get wrapped up.

After last week’s episode we were left with Sarah with the defective Intersect in her head.  Will we get more king fu work from Sarah?

How involved will Jeff and Lester get with the spy business?

Will Ellie and Awesome’s baby show signs of having the Intersect?

How many references to Subway sandwiches can you cram into two hours?

How many times will Chuck mention quitting the spy business?

Are Morgan and John Casey’s daughter back together for good?

Does John end up with Gertrude Verbanski?

Does Chuck’s mom end up with Alexei Volkoff?

Does General Beckman end up with Roan Montgomery?

Will Jeffster get back together?

Will we ever get to see Morgan’s mom?

Here’s who would we like to see one more time in the finale from Chuck’s past:

  • Linda Hamilton as Mrs. Bartowski
  • Scott Bakula as Mr. Bartowski
  • Matt Bomer as Bryce Larkin
  • Timothy Dalton as Alexei Volkoff
  • Bruce Boxleitner as Dr. Woodcomb
  • Chevy Chase as Ted Roark
  • Mark Sheppard as Director of the Ring
  • John Larroquette as Roan Montgomery
  • Brandon Routh as Daniel Shaw

No other recent pop culture show packed in more pop culture references and genre actors from the past.  We even got to see Mark Hamill in a cameo this season.  No doubt it will be a fun ride, and no doubt fans will miss the show when the final label maker punches out the words Chuck for the last time.

At Screenused.com right now there is a Star Trek: Voyager costume for sale worn by Roxann Dawson as B’Elanna Torres when she posed as a member of “The Borg.”

It originally was sold at Christie’s a few years ago.  It is a cool looking outfit, and similar in style to ones worn by Seven of Nine and Captain Kathryn Janeway on the series.

B’Elanna Torres as a member of The Borg on Star Trek Voyager

It is for sale for the hefty price of $4,699.  If it sells at that price it will be the most expensive price for a costume of this version of The Borg.  This costume sold only six months ago on eBay for $1,875.  If you’re interested, check out the photos and details carefully, as these rubber costumes were not made to last beyond the production.  Buyer beware, as they say.

Bonita Friedericy as a member of “The Borg” on Star Trek’s Enterprise series

That said, it is an interesting, if not fleeting, artifact from Star Trek history.  Its tag shows use by Bonita Friedericy, who plays General Beckman on the TV series Chuck, which sadly has only two episodes left.  She wore this outfit on an episode of the last Star Trek series, Enterprise.   Trek fans may find it interesting that Friedericy is married to John Billingsley, who played Phlox on Enterprise.

John Billingsley as Phlox

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The challenge for any long-running series is keeping it fresh, without sacrificing the heart of the show, the things that keep fans tuning in week after week, year after year.  Of course, that presupposes that writers, cast, and crew all know and understand what that heart is—how the magic works.  Final seasons are especially tricky: how to round off the characters’ storylines in a way that feels complete and satisfying, while still giving viewers a reason to watch.  We’ve seen shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer suffer disappointing decline, while shows like Monk turn in final seasons that rivaled any good year in the show’s history.

And so we arrive at the final season of Chuck, the pop culture phenomenon that pays affectionate homage to pop culture phenomena.  And if the Season Five premiere is any indication, the gang over at Chuck has no intention of letting things slide off into the sunset.

In “Chuck vs the Zoom,” we join our heroes in the middle of their latest mission as independent contractors, spies-for-hire.  Things have changed for Chuck; he’s a married man now, free of CIA oversight, and running his own business.  And, oh yes, he’s lost the Intersect, the computer in his brain that turned him from Nerd Herder to superspy, … to lifelong best friend Morgan Grimes.  In lesser hands, these developments might have felt contrived or strained, but the Chuck gang pulls it off with the same humor and heart that have made the show what it is.  A guest spot by genre legend Mark Hamill in the opening sequence declares the show’s intention to continue with its hallmark stunt casting.  And a subplot involving Chuck’s efforts to surprise Sarah with a dream house provides the emotional throughline, proving that no matter how much Chuck’s life may change, his commitment to his family remains at the heart of everything he does.

This emotional storyline has been a key element of the series from the start, and while it has occasionally bogged down episodes in the past, it’s part of what makes the series and its star, Zachary Levi, so lovable.  But the series never loses sight of the fact that it’s also an espionage adventure show, and “Chuck vs. the Zoom” is no exception.  A solid story about newly-minted Carmichael Industries’ mission to bring down a corrupt investment banker offers lots of opportunity for spy stuff, not to mention capitalizing on the comedic potential of Morgan-as-Intersect.  From fumbling the payoff in the Mark Hamill job, to a classic tango sequence, one senses that Morgan just might be an even more entertaining Intersect than Chuck (which, of course, is the source of Chuck’s anxiety in this episode, and likely season-long, as well).

If there looks to be any shortcoming to this season (coughJeffLestercough), it’s in the notable absence of Ryan McPartlin as Captain Awesome, Chuck’s aptly-named and ever-enjoyable brother-in-law.  To be sure, that storyline has been relegated more and more to the sidelines as the Chuck-Sarah romance took over, but perhaps we can still hold out hope for a guest spot or two this year…?  Teasers hint at more great guest appearances to come, including Matrix buster Carrie Ann Moss and former Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd.  Inevitably, this will be a bittersweet season, but you want to miss a show when it’s gone, and if this first episode is representative of what’s left for the show, I think we’ll be mourning the loss of Chuck for a long time to come.

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Our DVR broke this week.  I won’t go into the trauma of missing the last installment of Zen on Masterpiece Mystery, or of losing the final three (still unwatched) episodes of the now cancelled Men of a Certain Age.  The upside of this technological crisis, however, was that it spurred us to unearth old TV favorites on streaming video from Netflix and break out some DVDs.  There’s always something kind of bittersweet about that, though, especially running across old friends that were cancelled well before their prime, and in some cases even before they quite hit their stride.  And so, in memoriam, tonight borg.com will spotlight a few of our genre favorites that were cancelled too soon.

Life (2007-2009/NBC/21 episodes)
NBC’s short-lived quirky police procedural about a mild-mannered homicide detective wrongfully convicted of murdering his partner’s entire family starred English actor Damian Lewis (Assassin in Love, Showtime’s new series Homeland) and Sarah Shahi (USA’s Fairly Legal).  Its offbeat mix of gruesome murders and weird-but-lovable cast members was probably a little too offbeat for most viewers, but we loved Lewis’s Zen-meditating Charlie Crews and his efforts to fit back into his life and job after eleven years in prison and an undisclosed multimillion dollar settlement with the LAPD.  An intriguing series-long mystery plot (who really killed Crews’s partner?) might have made it more difficult for new viewers to join mid-season (although we had no trouble getting hooked after just one episode), but was thoughtfully resolved in the series finale.  Standout performances by Donal Logue and Adam Arkin only compound our sense of loss for this series.

The Riches (2007-2008/FX/19 episodes)
Before the days of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, FX broke every rule of tasteless TV in this outrageous series about a family of Travellers trying to make it as “buffers” in an upscale suburban neighborhood, after assuming the identities of a family killed in a car accident.  Starring standup comic Eddie Izzard as title character “Doug Rich,” and Minnie Driver (Phantom of the Opera), The Riches featured scams, drug abuse, murders, robbery, and a host of other illicit goings-on–and that’s just by the heroes!  Alternately appalling and hilarious, ultimately The Riches just couldn’t hold on to its early impressive ratings, and was cancelled after only 19 episodes, leaving loyal viewers without even a semblance of closure to the Riches’ compelling storyline.

Tru Calling (2003-2005/Fox/26 episodes)
Eliza Dushku’s first starring vehicle of her post-Buffy days, Tru Calling had an excellent sci-fi premise, sort of 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.  Co-starring The Hangover‘s Zach Galafianakis in a wonderful role as Tru’s morgue mentor, and White Collar’s and Chuck’s Matt Bomer as Tru’s love interest, Tru Calling was gearing up for great things, the mysteries surrounding Tru’s power only building, just as the series was unceremoniously axed by Fox.

Eleventh Hour (2008-2009/CBS/18 episodes)
This American adaptation of the even-shorter-lived BBC medical thriller (with Patrick Stewart) starred accomplished English actor Rufus Sewell (Zen, Knight’s Tale, Pillars of the Earth) as Dr. Jacob Hood, FBI consultant solving baffling scientific crimes.  Not an outstanding series by any standards, Eleventh Hour was nevertheless competent and entertaining, and one had the feeling that the performers were better than the material they had to work with.  I firmly believe the show could have gotten even better, but it was trapped in a dead-end timeslot (Thursdays at 10 pm) and ultimately failed to interest the CSI viewership the network hoped would bolster ratings.

The Dresden Files (2007/SyFy/12 episodes)
I’m still stinging from the cancellation of this great adaptation of Jim Butcher’s bestselling urban fantasy series. Starring the always-solid Paul Blackthorne (guest appearances in Burn Notice, Monk, Leverage, Warehouse 13, and others), the show featured excellent writing, engaging paranormal storylines, and an absolutely winning cast, but wasn’t given the same network or fan support of later SyFy hits like Warehouse 13 or Eureka. Fortunately, all twelve episodes are currently available via streaming video on Netflix.

Tomorrow, C.J. Bunce will continue the list with the rest of our list of TV series that ended too soon.

Zachary Levi (Chuck on the TV series Chuck) took over Jolt’n Joe’s Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslight District and during Comic-Con weekend he sold tickets to the public to benefit Operation Smile, a charity that helps children born with cleft palates.  Ultimately his “Nerd HQ,” along with selling nerd merchandising for Levi’s new enterprise, was able to collect more than $40,000 for the charity.  Nice work!

Over the weekend, the small venue of about 250 seats hosted members of the casts of Chuck, Psych, and Firefly, including Dule Hill and Adam Baldwin, and chats with Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost), Scott Bakula, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek 2009, Heroes), and members of his new company, Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), as well as video game companies who co-marketed the event.

We attended the conversation with Scott Bakula and with maybe half the room filled, the intimate setting allowed for a lot of interaction. Unlike a lot of other panels with celebrities, Bakula was just plain fun. You could see that Scott was an actor who doesn’t take himself too seriously, yet he is serious about his craft.

Scott discussed his first major hit, Quantum Leap, and described the changes in special effects technology in that series versus today.  Back then he said he would literally have to freeze in place while his co-star Dean Stockwell would run into place–all to create the image of Stockwell’s character seeming to beam into the frame from the future.  Today, Bakula said that the director would film straight through and add the effects in later.  He said for fun, if you watch old Quantum Leap episodes pay attention to the extras in the background and you will notice they also jerk to a stop as part of the then “cutting edge” special effects.  The greatest challenge (and joy) of the show for Scott was working with an entirely new crew each week (since only he and Stockwell had a recurring role)–including literally thousands of actors–that appeared over the course of the series.

Bakula said he was proud of Quantum Leap and is glad a new generation can watch the series through technologies like DVDs and streaming media.  His favorite episode?  When he just played himself, going back and forth in time, including meeting his own father.

Similarly, Bakula said he enjoyed making the Star Trek series Enterprise.  He said he believed that in any other franchise five seasons would be a successful series, but for some reason in the Star Trek franchise you’re not considered a success if you don’t make it seven seasons.  He said part of the reason could be attributed to the tenor of the show in light of the post-9-11 landscape.  Originally sold as a light-hearted exploration show, the producers did not believe the audience at the time wanted to see escapist entertainment.  Instead the series became darker with more conflict.  While it worked and was more appropriate to the mood of the country, Bakula believe it led to the cancellation of the series.  He said ultimately “it hurt us” in terms of the longevity of the show. 

Bakula appeared earlier in the day on a panel with William Shatner and other former Star Trek captains at a Comic-Con panel about Shatner’s new documentary, where each captain is interviewed about his or her experiences.  Bakula said it’s a little hard not to pick up Shatner’s unique, abrupt dialogue timing after speaking with Shatner for an hour and answered the next question in Shatnerspeak.

Both Bakula and the audience had only just received word that Scott’s current series, Men of a Certain Age (co-starring Ray Romano and Andre Braugher) was cancelled by TNT.  It was clear that even this audience of genre fans followed Bakula in his new series and were disappointed in the news.  Bakula briefly explained how new criteria govern whether a show stays or goes, and that the days of following just one set of Nielsen’s ratings is long past.  With the advent of DVRs and similar technologies, where viewers may not watch a current program for 7 or 14 days out, the calculation of a show’s success is more difficult and arbitrary and ultimately each network has its own criteria.  He said for example, had Men of a Certain Age have aired on the AMC channel, it would probably have been renewed for another season.  He said Men of a Certain Age was TNT’s first in-house drama, and that may have played a factor in the show’s cancellation.

When Zack Levi introduced Bakula, he mentioned Bakula’s most recent genre role, that of his father on the TV series Chuck.  Levi noted the oddity of Bakula standing in the back of the room with Levi’s real dad, Daryl.  This all led later on to a duet from the stage show Godspell (which both had previously appeared in) by Bakula and Levi, both hamming it up in stage show style.

Bakula noted that his first love was the stage, and stage acting was preferable to him over TV and movie work, and his favorite work was any role where he gets to sing.

Bakula’s advice for everyone, actors or not, was far-reaching:  It’s important to stay passionate in your craft, even when your TV show gets cancelled.  Find what you love about acting or what you do and concentrate on that–that the only part you can control is the performance.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Recovering from the big weekend, we’re posting the last of the best fan costumes we saw at San Diego Comic-Con International this past weekend.  What we didn’t capture is the abundance of Captain Americas, Thors, Wonder Womans and Supermans.  Lots of those and all great.  Bizarrely and happily for some, an unprecedented number of Slave Girl Leias were at this Con.  We posted three in a photo on our Day One coverage.  Also, video game and manga outfits were everywhere.  All bright, and most very creative.  So on to the stand-outs:

In honor of the last Harry Potter movie, here is Sirius Black, with Elizabeth Bunce as the Alien Nation/Nerd Herder.

These guys on speeder bikes had a tough day walking around but they stopped crowds in their tracks:

I’m betting we’ll see more Hobbit related costumes next year.  This guy’s garb was great.  And check out those huge Hobbit feet!

And with the new Planet of the Apes movie out this year, nothing matches the original film and these two recreations of Dr. Zira and Dr. Zaius are awesome.  Their mouths moved and actually looked like the originals.

We saw at least seven DC Comics Zatannas, and you can’t have enough Zatannas.  Here this pretty lady poses with borg.com Hollywood writer Jason McClain.

Lots of Batmans as usual but this “Mirror Universe Batman” rocked:

I wasn’t sure if this next gal’s outfit was from a specific game or show, but she looks great!

And to wrap up the best costumes at Comic-Con 2011, here is artist Pablo Ramos as Bob’s Big Boy (flanked by Elizabeth and C.J. Bunce):

I first saw Pablo at Comic-Con in 2008 and whenever anyone discusses the all-time best costume at any convention Pablo’s costume always makes the #1 spot on my list.  As with my other favorite costumes, the idea of the costume is often what helps make a costume the best.  Originality = A+.  And skipping traditional Con outfits in favor of such a pervasive pop culture blast from the past, well that makes Pablo the best in my book.

Finally, it is not usually the case that one would criticize someone for wearing a costume to a convention, or declare a worst costume of the Con.  This year we have the exception, and please, scroll no further if you are easily grossed out.  We’re intentionally posting only the blurred version for your protection:

Congrats and thanks to everyone who went all out for Comic-Con (except for diaper man).   It made the convention more fun for everyone (except for diaper man).

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Day Two of the San Diego Comic-Con proved to be non-stop fun.  You can’t get the full comic convention experience without at least one day in costume so at borg.com that day was today.  Elizabeth C. Bunce and I took to the floor as Tenctonese visitors from Alien Nation who happen to work at the local Buy More, including Elizabeth as a member of the Nerd Herd from the TV series Chuck (with screen-used prosthetic heads from the series courtesy of Prop Store of London, also at the Con).  Our favorite costumes are the most obscure and we got about 1,000 fans and press stopping us for photos, several saying we had the most creative costumes of the day and interviews by four TV stations including G4.

You certainly get noticed in costume and that also means you sometimes get an extra chance at meeting your favorite celebrities and childhood idols.  Chuck himself, Zack Levi, said he loved our outfits and stopped to say “I really appreciate that you’re representing both Buy More and the Nerd Herd.”  Sweet!  Levi was hosting his own offsite mini con of sorts called the Nerd HQ, where you could skip lines and for a $20 donation to the national Smile charity you could meet Zachary Quinto (Star Trek’s Spock, Heroes),  the stars of TV’s Psych, or as we did, get to spend an hour with Quantum Leap, Men of a Certain Age and Star Trek Enterprise’s own Captain Archer–Scott Bakula in a small conversational setting of about 100 people (Scott also gave us a thumbs up and signed autographs).  Bakula was more down to Earth than you can imagine, talking about the ups and downs of acting and singing an improvised duet with Zack Levi onstage.

My own childhood hero, Mark Hamill, was signing autographs and we had our own alien to Jedi chat with Mark.  Every bit the classy Jedi!

We lucked into a conversation with Saul Rubinek, star of SyFy’s Warehouse 13, and we talked about all his past shows including Nero Wolfe, and how much we loved him as our all-time favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation villain, Kivas Fajo.  A super gentleman.  More on Saul in future posts.

We headed off to lunch and ended up at an Italian eatery with none other than Jim Lee and his lovely wife.  Jim is pretty much the monarch of this year’s Comic-Con and was taking a rare and much deserved break from from all his panels and signings.  He and his wife were having a great time and you can tell the pressure of the new DC Comics 52 re-launch is only providing him with extra excitement and energy to roll out a great new line of comic titles for fans this fall.  Here’s a photo of us at lunch in the Gaslight District.

We also got to meet the ubiquitous actor Mark Sheppard (Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica), his wife and four kids.  I will post separately about our chat with Mark later.  We had great conversations with the guys from Profiles in History, too, who currently star in the SyFy reality show Hollywood Treasures.  Very fun to see these guys are fans like the rest of us!  Profiles in History was selling photos in one of the Back to the Future DeLoreans for Michael J. Fox’s charity.  A great idea and a great cause!  This was a Comic-Con favorite of the day.

And here is Elizabeth with our friend Kevin Dilmore at the Hallmark booth.  Kevin (along with his writing partner Dayton Ward) is THE favorite Star Trek novelist of fans.

And we had a blast roaming with borg.com writer Jason McClain!  We’ll post more photos in the coming days, but please let us know if you see us on any other websites!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com