Tag Archive: Fox


Review by C.J. Bunce

British actor Michael Sheen is one of film and TV’s best actors, and he proved that again in the first episode of a new Fox mystery series, Prodigal Son.  Don’t expect that comical chap from Good Omens, this is the kind of mix of the dramatic and the strange that might just net him an award or two.  Although the second episode teetered some, some tight writing, quick action, and witty banter plus an engaging cast is turning out to be the recipe that may get viewers to come back for more, even if this is just a spin on the villain’s story from Silence of the Lambs.

Sheen plays The Surgeon, a serial killer who murdered 23 people before being caught.  All along during his crime spree The Surgeon was being a good father to young son Malcolm.  Flash forward a few decades and Malcolm (the series lead, played by another British actor, The Walking Dead’s Tom Payne) is a troubled victim of PTSD and some other maladies prompted by his unusual father, while he’s also a genius profiler of the Sherlock Holmes and House, M.D. school of sleuths.  In the first episode Malcolm is fired by the FBI and hired by the NYPD, thanks to a long-time relationship with a police detective, played by Lou Diamond Phillips.  Malcolm’s relationship with the detective provides some of the secrets of  Malcolm’s past that unfold during the pilot episode.  Malcolm is close with his sister, a broadcast journalist played by ex-crewmember of The Orville Halston Sage, and their mother (and The Surgeon’s ex-wife), is played by Bellamy Young, who primetime audiences watched grow into playing mom roles from her beginnings guest starring on every other major crime show back to Law & Order and The X-Files.  Young never goes for the straightforward stuff, and there’s more than enough peppered in the initial two hours to suggest her character may have been more aware of what her husband was up to.  How much and how far will certainly be what is ferreted out over the first season.

The show is led by Chris Fedek (Forever, Chuck, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Sam Sklaver (Deception), and master comic book-to-screen adapter Greg Berlanti.  It has bits and pieces reminiscent of plenty of prior genre series:  The tone of Castle, the quirky lead in Forever, and the supporting sibling relationship of Tru Calling all come to mind.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

So many books that go behind the scenes of films take a similar approach, skimming the surface with interviews of only top production heads, providing diehard fans of the property who have read all the fanzines little that is new.  So when you get an immersive treatise like The Making of Alien, you must take a few weeks to digest every story, quote and anecdote found inside.  Maybe it’s because so much of the inception of the other classics J.W. Rinzler has written about is the stuff of sci-fi movie legend, but Rinzler’s research this time around is completely enthralling.  Writer Dan O’Bannon, writer and initial director Walter Hill, concept artist H.R. Giger, director and storyboard artist Ridley Scott, actors Sigourney Weaver, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright, and Ian Holm–Rinzler’s chronology is framed by the entry of these people into the project and their key roles.  The account of their intersected careers and efforts resulting in the 1979 sci-fi/horror classic provide a detailed understanding of studio productions in the 1970s.  For fans of the film and the franchise, you couldn’t ask for more for this year’s 40th anniversary of Alien.

Rinzler, who has also created similar deep dives behind the scenes of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the Indiana Jones films, and last year’s The Making of Planet of the Apes, has established the best format for giving sci-fi fans the ultimate immersive experience.  In many ways The Making of Alien is an account of the necessary vetting process behind any major creative endeavor.  The first draft of any story is never the best, and sometimes neither is the 100th draft.  But the best books and the best movies get reviewed by other people, usually producers, editors, studios, departments, some with prestige and money backing them, sometimes over and over, with changes made to every chapter, with creators and ideas that are tried on for size, dismissed, re-introduced, and sometimes brought back again.  By the end of many a film, the contributors are exhausted and disenchanted, some even devastated.  Only sometimes this is alleviated by a resulting success.  It was even more difficult working on a project like Alien–a mash-up of science fiction and horror pulled together in the 1970s, when drama was in, and science fiction meant either the cold drama of 2001: A Space Odyssey or the roller coaster spectacle of Star Wars.  Behind the scenes there would be overlaps in creative types, like famed set “graffiti artist” Roger Christian and sound expert Ben Burtt.  But ultimately Alien had to be something different to get noticed.

The stories of O’Bannon and Giger’s contributions and conflicts are the most intriguing of the bunch, and if you’ve read everything available on the film you’ll be surprised there is far more to their stories you haven’t read.  The influence of John Carpenter was paramount to getting the idea of the film past the first step, particularly his films Dark Star and The Thing.  Along the journey other creators would intersect with the project–people like Steven Spielberg, Alan Ladd, Jr., John Dykstra, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, Ron Cobb, Jerry Goldsmith, and even Jean “Moebius” Giraud.

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If you want to see a good argument for enforcing antitrust policy against mega-sized media corporations, here’s one.  Along with so many other change-ups, delays and cancelations, add Fox’s big-(estimated $170 million) budget Mouse Guard movie to the list.  The writer, artist, and visionary creator of the Mouse Guard universe, David Petersen announced the news back in April, two weeks before the scheduled filming date.  Reportedly Disney directed new subsidiary Fox to cancel the film.  No reasons were announced, but it’s difficult to surmise any reason other than a coordinated effort to own the theater box office with its own projects.  Just how much work had already been done?  How big was this film going to be?  Director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) and Petersen released two videos over social media this week (and more participants have since released even more great pre-production content) that paint a picture that will leave you feeling like audiences have been out-right robbed.

The first video includes a pan of the offices where the pre-production previz work was already completed, including miniatures, maquettes, dioramas, costumes, performance capture and CG-mock-ups, and thousands of pieces of compelling concept art lining the work area walls.  You really get a sense for what audiences will be missing with the second video, another development piece for sure, yet even as a demo or “sizzle reel,” anyone who is a fan of fantasy movies can see this was going to be something entirely new.  Matt Reeves (The Batman, Planet of the Apes reboots) was producing.  Artist Darek Zabrocki was one of many artists who created thousands of pieces of concept art (see above and below) to push the film forward (see Zabrocki’s Instagram account here for several images).  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story screenplay writer Gary Whitta′s script was in-hand (he’s now released it via his Twitter account for everyone to read here).  Composer John Paesano had his first theme in play with a warrior’s quest-evoking theme in a James Horner/Randy Edelman vibe (listen to it here).  It was all just ready for Weta to step in and take over with production, and wham, that House with the Mouse slammed the door.  But it looks like no other mice will suffice for Disney.  So Fox will either sit on the rights, sell them, or the rights will revert in a few years.  All these pre-production pieces will likely get warehoused until they get auctioned off for space reasons down the road as happens with studios (studio storage is expensive!), unless another studio or filmmaker steps in with some money (Peter Jackson?  Guillermo Del Toro?  The Jim Henson Company?).  But we seem to already be past the eleventh hour for that to have happened.  On the one hand, outsiders will never know why the decision was made, corporations make these calls for all sorts of business reasons.  But what is clear is that without the approval of that mega-merger of behemoth media empires, this expression, this idea, this story, this vision, would be coming to your local theaters soon.

Voice actors enlisted for the film included Idris Elba, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jack Whitehall, Samson Kayo, and Andy Serkis.  In the meantime, Petersen keeps creating, new Mouse Guard and other worlds.  Petersen’s comics and compilation hardcover editions, along with his version of The Wind and the Willows, are the picture books I have purchased more than any other for gifts–ever.  His artwork is fantastic, fantastical, and magical, and it came as no surprise when he announced a film in the works back in 2016.  Petersen’s Dark Crystal and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic cover art also has him as a contender for the year’s best cover artist.  Mouse Guard is one of those rare worlds in my lifetime that evokes the wonder of Jim Henson, the creativity of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the gravity and import of Mr. Rogers.

Enjoy the little of the film we get to see, these great videos released by Ball and Petersen:
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In the summer of 1979, Ridley Scott revealed the next evolution in science fiction and horror with his landmark creation Alien Thanks to Star Wars art director Roger Christian, audiences saw the first lived-in look into our future, a sci-fi world that felt more realistic than nearly any sci-fi movie before it (space fantasy Star Wars excluded).  Dismissing the brand new, antiseptic look of 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was Christian’s realism and H.R. Giger‘s creepy creations that made the scares of Alien that much more jolting.  Arriving for the 40th anniversary of Alien, go-to behind-the-scenes movie book writer J.W. Rinzler is back after last year’s The Making of the Planet of the Apes (reviewed here at borg), with his next book, The Making of Alien.

Emerging first from the mind of writer Dan O’Bannon, Alien would become one of the most memorable sci-fi/horror thrillers of all time.  The film brought us Academy Award-winning concept art, new alien monsters, gore, ships, and other spectacular effects thanks to Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder, and Dennis Ayling, and groundbreaking set work by Christian, Michael Seymour, Leslie Dilley, and Ian Whittaker.  Including new interviews with Ridley Scott and other key staff from the original production crew and featuring many never-before-seen photographs and artworks from the Fox archives, The Making of Alien promises to be the definitive work on this masterpiece of sci-fi/horror.

Above and following are some preview pages from The Making of Alien Pre-order The Making of Alien now here at Amazon, and come back this summer for our review here at borg:

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Fox’s television series The Orville gets to explore a new world as it comes to Dark Horse Comics this summer.  TV series executive producer/writer David A. Goodman (Futurama) will write the series, with artwork by David Cabeza and colorist Michael Atiyeh (Tomb Raider).  The four-part series The Orville Season 1.5 takes place between TV seasons one and two.  Dark Horse Comics has revealed the first cover by Cabeza (below).  Check out the details from the press release for the comic book series below.

As great as the first season of The Orville was, the three most-recent episodes of the series have met or surpassed the best science fiction episodes of any classic or modern science fiction television series.  The Orville has been serious science fiction since its inception, and many critics and new viewers are at last taking notice.  Beginning with the two-part episode “Identity,” viewers got to see the very best planetary environments and sequences of space battles in the history of sci-fi television.  That’s right, the effects are that good–detailed, realistic, sweeping, and all-out fun.  And forget about comparisons to television shows, the second part of the story arc displayed an exciting, epic space battle on par with the best galactic assaults and dogfights from the Star Wars universe, comparable to the final assault in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Sci-fi fans can’t ask for anything better than that.  Thanks to executive producer and episode director Jon Cassar, The Orville reset the bar for compelling television sci-fi in this two-parter.  From story and surprises to production design and execution, the often lighthearted series drops plenty of drama on viewers–gut punches in contrast to the laughs–proving The Orville is the real deal.

Taking the journey forward immediately after the effects of the battle with the Kaylons, in last night’s episode “Blood of Patriots,” Norm MacDonald’s marvelously realized gelatinous Kaylon battle hero Yaphit is celebrated by the crew, and we meet genre-favorite actor Mackenzie Astin giving a compelling performance as a gritty warrior-soldier, the kind you’re not likely to soon forget.  The balance of the science fiction concept of reflecting the present with fictional stories of the future takes on new meaning with The Orville, as the writers deftly weave not just a single issue, but more than a half a dozen into each new episode.  The result is much-watch television that surpasses decades of programming that preceded the show.  From a character standpoint, it’s great fun to see Scott Grimes’ Lt. Gordon Malloy put forward as the ship’s hero-to-turn-to this season, a flawed man whose quirks and foibles reflect the kind of human you’d find today and in the future as part of any kind of actual fighting force.

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The good news?  The networks all have released previews of their new Fall TV series.  The bad news?  Most of the trailers play-out pretty flat–look for more of the same bland, dry, typical attempts at the next best Emmy-winning drama and the same brand of network comedy.  We showed you previews for three new series from CBS last week (here) for shows we think might be worth giving a shot: the reboot of Magnum, p.i., the return of Murphy Brown, and the Dick Wolf series FBI with Law & Order’s Jeremy Sisto and the DCU’s Connie Nielsen.

We were looking forward to New Girl’s Hannah Simone starring in a reboot of The Greatest American Hero, but ABC rejected the series after the pilot was filmed.  Forever and Law & Order’s Alana de la Garza‘s series Chiefs, and Timothy Hutton in Main Justice are still expected from CBS.  What We Do in the Shadows is a werewolf-zombie comedy starring Doug Jones coming from FX.  HBO is expected to launch a series called Camping with David Tennant, Ione Skye, and Juliette Lewis.  And Showtime has City on a Hill with Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, and Jill Hennessy, Ball Street with Don Cheadle, and Kidding with Jim Carrey, Catherine Keener, and Frank Langella.  But we’ve seen no trailers for these series yet.

Putting aside the ongoing series being continued between now and year end, several new series with trailers now released may be of interest based on actors who have previously acted in genre series, so we’re going to run down those that may be worth at least a viewing of the first episode.

Here are the other new series, the genre actors you might want to know about, followed by the trailers for Fall 2018:

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The new sci-fi comedy Orville is coming soon from Emmy Award-winning executive producer and actor Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy) and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) premieres Sunday, September 10.  It’s a parody, but has so many creators from Star Trek (like directors Jonathan Frakes, Brannon Braga, and Robert Duncan McNeill) it looks like the real McCoy.  It’s the next science fiction series on our watch list.

This afternoon, Fox showcased the creators and stars at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, including the reveal of a second trailer for the series.  It features more aliens, and more humor.  Panelists MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, and Chad Coleman, and producers David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga were introduced to the crowd in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.  The big surprise was the news Charlize Theron will make an appearance in the first season.

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Check out the official Comic-Con trailer for The Orville:

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Along with the pile-on of comedies coming from CBS All Access this Fall previewed earlier here at borg.com, Fox has its own new comedies entering the mix.  In addition to the Seth McFarlane sci-fi comedy Orville (previewed here), the network is offering a new half-hour paranormal comedy, Ghosted.  Known for his offbeat comedies, Jonathan Krisel, co-creator of FX Network’s Baskets and showrunner on Portlandia, will be directing the pilot and is an executive producer on the series.

In part a spoof on The X-Files, the series stars Craig Robinson (Mr. ROBOT, The Office, Mr. Robinson, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hot Tub Time Machine series) as Leroy Wright, the skeptic, and Adam Scott (Angie Tribeca, Parks and Recreation, Party of Five, Veronica Mars, Wonderfalls) as Max Allison, the believer, in a show about alien abductions and an underground Men in Black-inspired government agency.  Longmire’s Ally Walker is the captain of the agency.

Check out this preview for Ghosted:

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If you thought audiences may be souring on the onslaught of television series based on superheroes and comic books, you’d be wrong.  Hollywood is fully engaged in the realm of continuing to adapt comic books to the small screen.  Along with all the current series moving into next seasons this year, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Gotham, iZombie, Riverdale, Supergirl, and Wynonna Earp, you’ll have at least three more new series featuring superheroes to check out this Fall.  Check out previews for all three below after the break.

Black Lightning is the latest character from DC Comics coming to the CW.  Cress Williams plays the title character who is Jefferson Pierce by day.  On paper Black Lightning sounds a bit like The Incredibles, with a retired hero returning to the superhero business.  The superhero debuted in the comic book Black Lightning Issue #1 40 years ago.  Tony Isabella and Dennis O’Neil wrote the original stories, with artwork by Trevor Von Eedon.  Black Lightning also stars China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, and Christine Adams.

The Gifted hails from a pretty powerful TV combo: Bryan Singer, known for everything from House, M.D., to The X-Men movie series, is co-producing the show with series creator Matt Nix, showrunner on the successful series Burn Notice.  The series stars Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker (Angel) as parents who take their family on the run after they discover their children’s mutant abilities.  The series producers have said it will not intersect with the X-Men movies, but you’ll see familiar characters like Blink, Polaris, Thunderbird, and Eclipse.  The show co-stars Burn Notice’s Coby Bell, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Percy Hynes White.  The show will air on Fox.

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It’s a parody, but the next science fiction series on your watch list looks just like the real deal.

While the next Star Trek series Star Trek Discovery remains somewhere in the shadows, a new, fully-realized sci-fi universe is heading our way this year on Fox with the new series The Orville.  From director Jon Favreau and creator/star Seth McFarlane comes an incredibly well-designed future world full of ships, aliens, cool costumes, and… humor?  In the vein of the Star Trek-spoof Galaxy Quest–but with a more finely-tuned science fiction look and feel–the next ship to hit television screens will be the USS Orville. 

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Plus, the series has tapped the real deal for its music, composer Bruce Broughton, who worked on classic TV scores for years–everything from Barnaby Jones to Hawaii Five-O, to Gunsmoke, Amazing Stories, and Buck Rogers in the 24th Century, and memorable movie scores to Silverado, So I Married an Axe Murder, Tombstone, and the Lost in Space remake.  Get ready for a surprise–this looks a lot better than we would have guessed–the first trailer for The Orville:

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