Tag Archive: Mustafa Shakir


Review by C.J. Bunce

When I previewed Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series last month I’d hoped writers Jeff Bond and Gene Kozicki (a visual effects artist on the series) would dig deep into the unique style of the very futuristic series.  I am happy to say I was not only not disappointed but dazzled by the level of work completed for what could have been the next major science fiction franchise.  What does the future look like?  Going back to Syd Mead’s future-defining work on films like Blade Runner, you must count as the next futurism visionaries production designers Grant Major and Gary Mackay.  Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series delivers photographs of props and sets that viewers didn’t get to see in the series, providing another level of behind-the-scenes production design not ordinarily seen in this kind of “making of” book.

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Just because Netflix canceled after only one season 2021’s best sci-fi TV series, best western TV series, best space fantasy series, best retro fix, with the best TV soundtrack, best costumes, best actors and guest stars, and best borg on TV, doesn’t mean we can’t keep reliving the fantastic live-action reboot/homage series Cowboy Bebop One more way we’re going to do that is with Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series, coming next month from Titan Books.  It’s the official companion book to the Netflix TV series featuring concept art, sketches, behind-the-scenes photography and interviews with the cast and production crew.  Check out a preview below, courtesy of the publisher.

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It’s been another long year of great entertainment.  It’s time for the ninth annual round of new honorees for the borg Hall of Fame.  We have several inductees from 2021 films and television – 16 in all, new borgs or updated variants of past members, bringing the borg Hall of Fame total to 281.

You can always check out the updated borg Hall of Fame on our home page under “Know your borg.”

Some reminders about criteria.  Borgs have technology integrated with biology Wearing a technology-powered suit alone doesn’t qualify.  Tony Stark aka Iron Man was named an honoree because the Arc Reactor kept him alive, not because of his incredible tech armor.  The Spider-Man suit worn by Tom Holland is similar to Tony’s, but it’s not integrated with Peter Parker’s biology.

Also, if the creators tell us the characters are merely robots, automatons, or androids (as in Westworld, and as in the Synths of Star Trek: Picard, and the new Dark Troopers of The Mandalorian), we take their word for it.  Again, integration is key, but in the Hall, once a member, always a member.  

So let’s get on with it.  Who’s in for 2021?

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Today we’re continuing our annual year-end round-up with the Best TV Series of 2021.  If you missed it, check out our review of the best Kick-Ass Heroines of 2021 here.  We watch a lot of television, and probably love a good series even more than a great movie.  We preview hundreds of series, but outside big franchise content you want to know about, we only review what we recommend–the best genre content we’re watching. The theory?  If we like it, we think you may like it.  The best shows have a compelling story, great characters, tremendous action, a sharp use of humor, and all kinds of well-executed genre elements that satisfy and leave viewers feeling inspired.  It’s even better if we see richly detailed sets and costumes.  And the very best series get usually get canceled at the end of their first season because network execs will never figure out what we genre fans love.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg Series, Best TV BorgCowboy Bebop (Netflix).  Mustafa Shakir’s Jet Black expanded on the anime series to create a space pilot and bounty hunter as cool and real as anyone from the Star Wars universe.  His cyborg implants made him incredibly powerful–necessary in his dealings on behalf of Spike and his family.

Best Sci-Fi TV SeriesBest Western TV Series, Best Space Fantasy Series, Best Retro Fix, Best TV Soundtrack, Best TV Costumes – Cowboy Bebop (Netflix).  Only one science fiction series really knocked our socks off this year.  The stylish look and music, and the fun of the crew of the spaceship Bebop made us want to speed through this series.  For viewers looking for the next Firefly, this is it.  For fans looking for the best futurism, space realism, and the next Altered Carbon, this is it.  Its writing, direction, cast, and overall production values made the series this year’s series to talk aboutRunner-up for Best Sci-fi TV Series: Blade Runner: Black Lotus (Adult Swim), great sci-fi, faithful to the source material.  Honorable mention for Best Sci-fi TV Series: Resident Alien (Syfy) Alan Tudyk’s fish-out-of-water story and his alien story pulled us back to the roots of classic sci-fi with humor and drama as a bonus.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, an adaptation of the 1999-2001 anime series, is so good, so well-written, so jazz-filled, stylish, cool, and sexy that you won’t deny it’s the best streaming series yet.  It’s not only the best science fiction series in years, but also solid noir, solid space Western, peppered with martial arts action.  If you loved the space life of Firefly, the dark future Earth noir of Altered Carbon and Blade Runner, and the lived-in future realism of Alien and Outland, you’re in for some great television.  Funny dialogue, actors inhabiting their characters, cool noir vibe, the drudgery of life as a space pilot and exploits of a space bounty hunter.  It’s as good as TV gets.  It’s as good as sci-fi and space westerns get.

But what’s the best part?  The music?  The style?  The characters?  The lived-in sci-fi world?  The dog?  Or the year’s coolest borg character?

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Tick tick tick… It’s almost here: the premiere of season one of the live-action version of the anime series Cowboy Bebop And now we have a full-length trailer that leans harder into the sci-fi elements of the series.  It stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop

Check out another great trailer:

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Bebop pic

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium that many have called the greatest anime of all time, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have the new teaser-trailer for Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop, coming in 30 days. 

bEBOP SHIP

It has the style and the throwback vibe of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as a cool soundtrack, and comic book-style scene-change pan slides with the characters participating in the movement.  The series stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).

You don’t want to miss the teaser and opening credits–take a look at both below.

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COWBOYBEB_Unit

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  A new Netflix series is on its way this year, starring John Cho (Star Trek) as bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s cyborg, former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  The television series is also coming to comics–writer Dan Watters and artist Lamar Mathurin are creating a monthly comic–and we have a preview of the Issue #1 cover artwork below.

CB#1_Cover_A CB#1_Cover_C

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With his Vietnam veteran-turned-hitman Quarry, author Max Allan Collins has built a substantial, possibly never-ending crime noir series.  Now at book 14 and adding a 15th this November with Hard Case Crime’s release of Killing Quarry, Collins has surpassed the number of books Collins’ pal Mickey Spillane published about Mike Hammer.  Collins has finished or co-authored nearly as many crime novels with Spillane posthumously, reflecting the prolific nature of Collins’ crime writing and expertise.  And that’s not even addressing Collins’ noteworthy Road to Perdition, five other book series and countless tie-in novels.  Cinemax′s 2016 series Quarry is inspired by Collins’ character, and thanks to writers/show creators Graham Gordy, Michael D. Fuller, with an episode by Collins and another by Jennifer Schuur, you have eight intriguing episodes of television waiting for you.  Its eight episodes are now streaming on Vudu, Amazon Prime, other platforms, as well as home video.

Director Greg Yaitanes created a rarely seen snippet of history as the backdrop for the series, with show lead Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Prometheus) as Mac Conway, dubbed Quarry as the show progresses, accused with his friend of misdeeds in Vietnam as he returns home to Memphis after his second tour.  Along with the Vietnam War and its aftermath is turmoil with bussing a desegration that envelopes his friend’s family.  Costume designer Patia Prouty, who worked on Almost Famous, Justified, and Pulp Fiction, re-creates the good but mainly the bad designs of the era, with equally good art and production design that will have you feeling like you’re been transported back in time.  Conway is quickly reeled into a local (and somewhat yokel) crime underworld, resulting in his friend’s death and requiring him to kill for the local, quirky kingpin to earn off the amount his buddy owed.

It’s Cinemax, so expect more sex and bloody gore than necessary, but you’ll feel enough sympathy for Marshall-Green’s Conway as a put-upon anti-hero that you’ll keep coming back for more as ugly and as strange as he finds his circumstances.  The supporting cast fills into the layered characters nicely, with Jodi Balfour (True Detective) as his wife, Peter Mullan (Children of Men) as the kingpin called The Broker, Nikki Amuka-Bird (Doctor Who, Jupiter Ascending) as his friend’s widow, and Mustafa Shakir (Marvel’s Luke Cage) as her mysterious new admirer.  Damon Herriman (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) is outstanding as an intermediary with The Broker, a layered character who has his own problems beyond his job as killer and killer’s aide.

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

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg TV Series, Best TV BorgHumans (AMC).  No other series touches on the ramifications of technology, specifically the perils of an onslaught of real-world cyborg technology, like AMC’s Humans.  This year three characters stood out, including Gemma Chan’s Mia, the cyborg Synth from past seasons, who sacrificed everything for the liberty of cyborgs in the UK.  Then there was Ruth Bradley’s Karen Voss, a Synth who refused to live segregated from the humans, opting instead for a normal life for the cyborg son she assumed care for.  And Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins, a human lawyer who fought so hard for the cause of the Synths all year, only to throw away all the good she had done, failing the first real challenge that was presented to her.  This year’s best TV borg is shared by Synths Mia and Karen, as each showed the uphill battle any future outsider must overcome when faced with humans.

Best Sci-fi TV SeriesThe Man in the High Castle (Amazon).  What had been a two-season build-up all came together in the series’ third season with the audacity of killing off key characters, wisely adhering to the framework of the source Philip K. Dick novel.  The use of science fiction to tell an often gut-wrenching array of subplots and unique characters has set up a fourth season with plenty to address.  Exciting, smart, scary, and even fun, it is an unusual science fiction show that isn’t merely trigger-happy sci-fi.  Honorable mention: Humans (AMC), Counterpart (Starz).

Best New TV Series, Best Reboot, Best Ensemble CastMagnum PI (CBS).  If you would have told us a year ago our favorite show this year would be a reboot of Magnum, p.i. starring Suicide Squad’s Jay Hernandez and an actress in the iconic role of John Hillerman’s Higgins, we wouldn’t have believed it.  And yet, even as diehard fans of the original, we had to acknowledge that many elements of the reboot series were even better in the new series.  With the dangerous risk of taking on a beloved property, the production maintained loyalty to the original while making it fresh, scoring Magnum PI high marks on all counts.  Every character was smartly written–suave and confident Magnum, energetic Rick and TC, and a savvy Higgins–every actor was perfectly cast, and each show was another round of nostalgic fun for fans of the original.  Best New TV Series Honorable mention for Best New TV Series: Counterpart (Starz), Lodge 49 (AMC).

Best Series, Best Drama, Best ComedyLodge 49 (AMC).  Lodge 49 told two stories: a darkly serious drama of real people dealing with real-life 2018 adversity, and the other a comedy farce like no other.  Hanging over our heads was the idea that this was going to be a fantasy show, complete with secret codes, hidden rooms, and psychic visions.  If you’re looking for all the elements of great fantasy the hint of it all could be found throughout this series.  And yet it wasn’t fantasy at all.  An oddball Cheers?  A southern Twin Peaks without the Lynchian weirdness?  Star Wyatt Russell’s hero Dud could be dismissed as a typical young man with no vision, or maybe he’s that idealist that everyone needs to strive to be.  Maybe we’ll learn more about that next season.  Honorable mention for Best Drama: Counterpart (Starz).  Honorable mention for Best Comedy: Baskets (FX).
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