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Tag Archive: Jonathan Frakes


The Orville is exactly what you have been waiting for.  Not a flat sci-fi parody as the advance press characterized it, it’s more of a take on workplace situational shows like The Office and Office Space, recreating those daily grind obstacles that all of us face, only in a future, outerspace workplace.  The result is a visually gorgeous show that takes itself seriously more than it tries to mock anything that came before it.  Unlike Galaxy Quest, a fun and beloved parody it has been compared to, The Orville takes off into a new direction altogether.  The Orville expands on elements from across all sci-fi, like space battle sequences and planet flyovers using Star Wars-inspired camera angles (including real model ships, not just CGI), completely new and unique aliens (the only thing close to these can be found in Doctor Who), and a fantastic, triumphant musical score from Bruce Broughton that is every bit what you’d expect from the composer of music for Silverado, Tombstone, Lost in Space, Gunsmoke, Dallas, Logan’s Run, and Buck Rogers.

Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy, Star Trek Enterprise) plays Ed Mercer, the newly appointed captain of the USS Orville.  Ed is a once-ambitious officer in a future space force called the Union, who has taken some backward steps resulting from a marriage gone wrong to his new second-in-command, Commander Kelly Grayson, played by Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Supernatural, John Wick).  Although the characters’ past together is grim, the writers quickly address the closeness they once had in a bit of comedy banter over a quantum device that speeds up time and in a classic MacGyver moment involving a seed and a hot glue gun.  The chemistry they will need for the rest of the series is present from the start.  The rest of the cast is a mix of straight man and comic relief, and the writers don’t hesitate to drift them into pure drama when the story calls for it.  Scott Grimes (Band of Brothers, Crimson Tide, Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays Helmsman Malloy, a pilot and old friend of Ed who flies by the seat of his pants.  Peter Macon (The Shield, Supernatural) is Lt. Commander Bortus, a Moclan (with an incredible prosthetic head) who takes his job seriously and represents the best of the Union, along with Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle, Deep Space Nine) as the ship’s doctor.  Mark Jackson is Isaac, an artificial lifeform from Kaylon (who is a character that seems to emerge straight from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), J. Lee (Family Guy) is navigator LaMarr, who seems to fear the change a new captain might bring, and Halston Sage (How to Rock, Crisis, Goosebumps) is security officer Kitan, a Xeleyan who is young and the physically strongest member of the team.

Enough cannot be said about the alien creations.  Bortus and Kitan are perfectly realized.  Isaac looks like a classic retro-inspired android.  A swimming, floral, three-eyed chief botanist (created by Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Robert Legato) is gorgeous and organic, and best of all, not bipedal, as is the gelatinous Yaphit (voiced by Norm McDonald).  The villains of episode one, the Krill, are as perfect as sci-fi aliens get (they actually take off and land on planets–a strange but welcome novelty for a sci-fi series), and the seething and charismatic Krill captain (played by Joel Swetow) stumbles into the crew politics in one very funny scene.  Even passing background aliens are incredibly detailed compared to aliens of many other sci-fi series.

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Star Trek Beyond Fly spot USS Enterprise inside Starbase Yorktown

Review by C.J. Bunce

In the fiftieth year of Star Trek, fanboy Simon Pegg proved that the franchise has never been stronger.  Probably more so than any prior entry in the now 13-movie catalog, Star Trek Beyond found a way to be the most loyal to the original series, with the writers weaving a story you could also find comfortably set within Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager.  And director Justin Lin showed that an action heavy film can also tell a good story.

Get ready.  Star Trek Beyond, opening this weekend in theaters everywhere, is also the most fun of the Star Trek movies since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, thanks to clever and witty dialogue and circumstances that put the Bones and Spock relationship at center stage.  By movie’s end, diehard Star Trek fans will find themselves trying to categorize the latest big budget blockbuster against the past even-numbered films, generally regarded as the cream of the crop.  That consideration alone elevates the movie into the top echelon of all Trekdom, a welcome jolt for the franchise.

Better than the admittedly good Abrams contributions Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond taps more subtlely into throwbacks we love, like a look at the Enterprise itself and spacedock in a way we haven’t seen since Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek III:  The Search for Spock.  And speaking of the original Star Trek III, this third reboot mirrors many key moments from that film, despite having an entirely different plot.

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What does it mean to serve on a ship on a long voyage?  What toll does it take on the captain and his or her crew?  Beginning with a humanitarian mission that we think Jean-Luc Picard would have appreciated, including an in-world guest actress (Sofia Boutella) like none other we’ve seen in Star Trek, featuring a strong actor–Idris Elba–as a brilliantly conceived unique–yet also familiar–villain, and dividing up the crew in twos to highlight the strengths of the characters–Star Trek Beyond is practically flawless.  Star Trek Beyond is not just good Star Trek, it’s great Star Trek.

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Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best non-fiction look at Star Trek in years is now available at book stores and online retailers.  Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann will serve as a companion book to The Art of Star Trek, The Continuing Mission, and Star Trek: The Art of the Film, all previously reviewed here and here at borg.com.  Together these four books represent the best visual looks at the history of Star Trek.  This new volume includes beautiful, clear, full-color photographs in a colorful hardcover, coffee table edition.

General fans of Hollywood costumes will learn plenty about the variety of major costumes used in the Star Trek universe throughout the past 50 years, and Star Trek diehards will find many interesting tidbits, too.  Highlights include recollections of costume designer Robert Fletcher about his creations for the movies and photos of several of his original costume designs, including his sketches for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk Class B uniform, Scotty’s engineering radiological suit used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the maroon, naval-style officer and crewman uniforms first appearing in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

STC B

William Ware Theiss’s era-defining costumes from the original series receive plenty of coverage, including images of some of Theiss’s often quickly rendered costume designs.  The original hand-drawn artwork from past and present is worth its weight in gold press latinum, including original costume designs for Star Trek: The Next Generation by Durinda Rice Wood (like Counselor Troi’s beautiful, form-fitting, burgundy jumpsuit), costume designs for Star Trek: First Contact by Deborah Everton (like Lily’s 2063 civilian garb worn by Alfre Woodard), Robert Blackman’s original concept art for Star Trek Generations (like the British Naval uniforms), and Sanja Milkovich Hays’ original concept sketches for Star Trek: Insurrection (like the female Tarlac nurse bodysuits) many including photos of corresponding fabric swatches.  While Star Trek Costumes provides only a brief look at the costumes of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise, it provides a nice overview of the revisited designs and variants of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, including a focus on the Klingon costumes.

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Librarians cast

Do you miss Leverage and King & Maxwell?  Back in August we first announced that TNT is bringing back the world of The Librarian franchise with a new series from executive producers Dean Devlin, John Rogers and Marc Roskin.  Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel), Lindy Booth (Dawn of the Dead, The Philanthropist) and John Kim (Neighbors, The Pacific) will star in the series as protectors of rare and supernatural treasures, with genre favorite John Larroquette (Night Court, Stripes, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) as their caretaker.

Noah Wyle (Falling Skies) serves as executive producer and returns as Flynn Carsen, the role he played in TNT’s movie trilogy.  Also reprising their roles from the movies will be comedy greats Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob) and Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, 3rd Rock from the Sun).   Today TNT released a humorous new trailer for the series, previewed below after the break.  And we’re pretty sure we see Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice, Army of Darkness) in the preview.

Bruce Campbell Librarians TNT

From the TNT press materials:

The Librarians centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from the secret, magical reality hidden all around. This group solves impossible mysteries, fights supernatural threats and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world. Among the artifacts housed in the Library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Judas Chalice and Excalibur, to name a few. Only a person with special skills could be responsible for collecting and protecting these artifacts, and more importantly, for preventing them from falling into the wrong hands.

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The Librarians band of misfits

The TNT Network announced it has ordered 10 episodes of The Librarians, a new television series spinning off from The Librarian movies.  Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, King & Maxwell) are returning to TNT and will lead the cast of the new series along with Lindy Booth (Kick-ass 2, Nero Wolfe, Warehouse 13, Dawn of the Dead, Supernatural) and John Kim (Neighbors, The Pacific).  Stars of the previous stories in The Librarian universe, Noah Wyle (Falling Skies, ER), and comedy icons Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob), and Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, Kate & Allie, 3rd Rock from the Sun) will reprise their roles in the new series.  Wyle will also continue in his role on TNT’s Falling Skies.

Fans of the Syfy Channel’s now defunct Warehouse 13 may find some familiarity in the world of The Librarians, as the show centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from a hidden world of magic.  The team solves mysteries, fights supernatural threats, and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world.  Among the artifacts housed in the Library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Judas Chalice and Excalibur.  As with Myka and Pete from Warehouse 13, only a person with special skills can protect these artifacts, and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

The new Librarians TNT

Along with comedy icons Newhart and Curtin, fan favorite comedic actors John Larroquette (Star Trek III, Stripes, Night Court, Deception) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom, Orphan Black, Star Trek: TNG) will be regulars on the show.  Larroquette will play Jenkins, overseer of the Librarians, with Frewer an immortal, ancient cult leader named Dulaque.

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Warehouse 13 crew

The caretakers of the most dangerous (and strangest) artifacts from history, Pete Lattimer, Myka Bering, Artie Nielsen, and Claudia Donovan, return tonight for the fifth season of Warehouse 13, after a seemingly endless eight-month hiatus.  But the return is bittersweet, as the Syfy Channel’s homegrown, weekly, sci-fi extravaganza was signed for only six more episodes, and not renewed for a seventh season.  Petitions and outcry from the show’s many fans didn’t convince the network to keep the artifact hunting going.

So put on your purple gloves, get your Tesla and your Farnsworth, and get ready for the closing of the famous warehouse that revealed the secrets behind Anne Bonny’s cutlass, Catherine O’Leary’s cowbell, D.B. Cooper’s parachute, Frank Lloyd Wright’s pickup sticks, Houdini’s wallet, Pavlov’s bell, Pasteur’s milk bottle, Mata Hari’s stockings, Nero’s lyre, Paul Tibbets’ binoculars, Nixon’s shoes, Robert the Bruce’s tartan, Scott Joplin’s cigarette case, Sitting Bull’s riding blanket, and U.S. Grant’s flask.

Warehouse 13

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Trektacular 2014

Planet Comicon 2014 wrapped today, bringing to close the region’s biggest and best comic book and pop culture convention ever.  The best was saved for last with the TREKtacular reunion of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members hosted by William Shatner, including a surprise visit by John deLancie.  Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner did not disappoint a sold out crowd in the giant ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.  For those attending this once-in-a-lifetime event that did not purchase one of the 100 limited edition exclusive artist signed TREKtacular prints, a few may still be available.  Contact Reinke Arts on Facebook for more information.

Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis

We talked with Michael Dorn about his real-life jet fighter flying experience and Marina Sirtis said she loved today’s borg.com editor’s cosplay choice (so did Return of the Jedi’s Femi Taylor!).

Lee Majors panel

Lee Majors was a superb storyteller, catching up panel attendees on his recent TV series work, and delving into his stunt work on The Fall Guy (where he performed 80% of his stunts) and The Big Valley. He also discussed the success and appeal of The Six Million Dollar Man to fans.

Bionic Man action figure

We resurrected last year’s Convention costume of The Six Million Dollar Man action figure, which we wore meeting The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner, at Planet Comicon 2013, complete with jumpsuit, patch, plastic hair, data chip arm tattoo, bionic eye, and trademark Adidas Dragons.

Meeting Lee Majors

A kid’s fantasy come true–meeting your childhood hero, Lee Majors, who called me his “double” and said he thought the outfit and plastic hair was cool.  He also autographed the photo that was sent out to kids in the original fan club set in 1974, signed then by “Col. Steve Austin.”

With Zoie Palmer at Planet Comicon 2014

With Zoie Palmer from the Toronto-based TV series Lost Girl, the great Syfy Channel series we have reviewed previously here at borg.com.

With Margot Kidder at Planet Comicon 2014

With Margot Kidder, Lois Lane from the 1970s Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve.

Aquaman and Mera

Aquaman and Mera, Queen of Atlantis.

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Choose Wisely

Planet Comicon 2014 got off to a great start Friday, with vendors filling the venue at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Missouri, and many celebrities appearing on the first day.  Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who, The Hobbit), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl), and Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13) all were greeting fans with plenty of opportunities for everyone to get photos and autographs.

In my day one garb as the knight who guarded the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I and Elizabeth C. Bunce had a great time catching up with friends and having some fun with the celebrities from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher on the Enterprise-D, was a great sport, jumping right in to try to get me to drink from the wrong grail.

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“Choosing poorly”, but also good sports, were Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Will Riker…

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… and a surprise, unannounced guest at the Con, John de Lancie, who played Q on the series, also “chose poorly,” but got it right on the second try.  Happily for all, we were using a prop grail and not dabbling in any face-withering magical elements.

Gene Flaharty

The first professional make-up artist workshop at Planet Comicon was held Friday afternoon, sponsored by borg.com, and dozens of attendees learned several pointers about how Hollywood applies prosthetics, and how to make life masks, negative casts, and how to use–and not use–latex, make-up and other materials for optimal cosplay creations.  Speaker Gene Flaharty drew several questions from the crowd and everyone had a great time learning more about this exciting art form.

Come back for more from Planet Comicon all weekend.  Or better yet, come on out and experience it in person!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

NextGen cast

An awesome way to wrap up three days of convention activities, TREKtacular is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fanboys and fangirls to see some of the biggest Star Trek names all in one place in a Midwest venue.  To be held as Planet Comicon 2014 comes to a close, TREKtacular will feature a lively show with the entire original bridge crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation minus Picard, along with Star Trek original series star and now pop-culture icon William Shatner.  The event will be held in the Kansas City Convention Center at 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 16, 2014.

Featured celebrities for TREKtacular include Jonathan Frakes (Commander Will Riker), Brent Spiner (Lt. Cmdr. Data), LeVar Burton (Lt. Cdr. Geordi LaForge), Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher), Michael Dorn (Lt. Cmdr Worf), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi), and Wil Wheaton (Ensign Crusher), plus host William Shatner.  Planet Comicon attendees may purchase autographs and photographs with the celebrities on “Celebrity Row” during the convention in advance of TREKtacular.

Kirk Star Trek VI

Tickets for this event will go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Central time, through Ticketmaster, and range from $49.50 to premier seating at $149.50 (a steal considering the number of guests being brought together and comparable event prices at the Sprint Center across town, and cheaper than good seats at a Chiefs or Royals game!).  There’s been a lot of buzz generated and demand is high so make sure you buy early tomorrow before the event sells out.  And for those who can’t make it to the convention, you don’t have to buy a ticket to Planet Comicon to attend this event.

More information is available at the Planet Comicon 2014 website.  Come and join borg.com for this incredible NextGen reunion, and a chance at seeing William Shatner in action!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Next Gen cast photo from Insurrection

Planet Comicon, the Midwest’s premiere pop culture and comic book convention, will host a 20-year reunion of members of the bridge crew of the Enterprise-D at The Star Trek: The Next Generation Reunion March 14-16, 2014 at the Kansas City Convention Center.  Commemorating 20 years since the seven-year series wrapped in May 1994, it will be a unique opportunity for the public to meet seven of the most beloved actors in sci-fi history, and they will all appear on stage together for an exclusive interactive cast panel Sunday, March 16.  It is the first time so many cast members will have appeared at one venue in the Kansas City area.  Three days of meeting fans, photo ops and signing autographs also presents the opportunity for the most access ever at one Con to all of these Star Trek icons.

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