Advertisements

Tag Archive: Sci-fi Summer


Mr robot

’round and ’round we go…

Last year television viewers were saying domo arigato to USA Network’s new series Mr. ROBOT, a new show providing a strange, mind-blowing look into the world of a subversive malcontent in the age of high-tech gadgets and shadowy subculture.  With top-notch, successful series like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar under its belt, USA Network proved it had another winner on its hands, and that you don’t have to be HBO or Showtime to produce compelling television.  An intense, psychological thrill ride, Mr. ROBOT was the cream of the crop in a season of new series including CW Network’s Stitchers, ABC’s The Whispers, Syfy’s Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Expanse, TNT’s Proof, AMC’s Humans, Netflix’s Between and BBC America’s Orphan Black, CW’s iZombie, and Fox’s Wayward Pines.  Mr. ROBOT is back this summer and we have the first preview of what promises to be an exciting second season.

Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, Medium, 24, Battleship, The Legend of Korra), returns as Elliot, a tech for a cyber-security consulting firm, a drug addict, a loner, a genius.  But what is he really, and will we learn anything true about him this season?  Is he Hero, Villain, Vigilante, Cyber-terrorist, or something of each? Will that dark and gritty, fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller-style continue?

Malek Robot

Check out this preview for Season 2.0 of Mr. ROBOT:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Mr Robot

Review by C.J. Bunce

The term “mind-blowing” is one of the most over-used phrases on the Web.  In truth, I am not sure I have ever seen anything I would call mind-blowing.  Yet if something were to come close, it may be the pilot to USA Network’s new intense, psychological thrill ride, Mr. Robot.  Although I haven’t seen roughly half of the pilots for the new series hitting the small screen this summer, of what I’ve seen this will top the watch list.  That’s saying a lot considering the eight other new sci-fi series I previewed here at borg.com this past week: CW Network’s Stitchers, ABC’s The Whispers, Syfy’s Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Expanse, TNT’s Proof, AMC’s Humans, and Netflix’s Between And don’t forget about BBC America’s Orphan Black, CW’s iZombie, and Fox’s Wayward Pines, sci-fi series already airing.  Never before have viewers had more new sci-fi options on TV to choose from.

With top-notch, successful series like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar under its belt, USA Network may have another winner on its hands, and prove once and for all you don’t have to be HBO or Showtime to produce compelling television.

Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, Medium, 24, Battleship, The Legend of Korra), stars as Elliot, a tech for a cyber-security consulting firm, a drug addict, a loner, a genius.  I suspect we’re not supposed to know yet what he truly is:  Hero, Villain, Vigilante, Cyber-terrorist, or something of each.  He suffers from depression and possibly schizophrenia, he makes bad personal decisions, and his political views and odd mannerisms fuel his paranoia.  Paranoia, suggesting someone is always watching, as he roams, cloaked under his hood, wandering the streets of New York City.  Is any of this real, or it it all in his head?  Will we ever know?  Is Mr. Robot even sci-fi as the title would suggest, or a strange fantasy, or supernatural, or something entirely different?  Filmed like a modern but dark and gritty, fourth-wall breaking Ferris Bueller and emitting the uneasy dread of an updated WarGamesMr. Robot faces current social issues head on (and even the wall-breaking may not be real, and only something in Elliot’s mind).  We last saw a show take on similar subversive themes in the excellent Syfy series Continuum.

Christian Slater Mr Robot

With single-camera cinematography by Tim Ives, creator/writer Sam Esmail reaches right into our world of social networking and power in the hands of an elite group of decision makers and plunges the viewer into Elliot’s personal fears.  Something almost painterly goes into each shot, often surreal like a Wes Anderson movie, yet the stylishness never slows down the pace of the action.  In one set of scenes, an approaching Ferris wheel car off-camera appears to jar the actors and us out of our seats and keep us on our toes–twice.  Elliot is unaffected.

Malek gives us a character first unlikable–his world is disturbing and ugly, yet this anti-hero quickly grows on you to be somehow sympathetic, his dodgy eyes, uneasiness, and jittery mannerisms will keep you on edge for the entire hour.  The pilot may be the best pilot we’ve seen since the premiere of Lost.  Rounding out the experience, like John Carpenter would use to support his own thriller, Mac Quayle (American Horror Story) provides an intense, thumping, almost Daft Punk-inspired soundtrack that speeds the narrative along. 

Continue reading

Between Netflix series

It sounds a bit like Logan’s Run, Under the Dome, or Outbreak, only set in the world of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival.  It’s Netflix’s new sci-fi release series, Between.  In the Canadian production Between, everyone in the town of Pretty Lake over 21 years old suddenly, mysteriously, dies.  The town is quarantined and cut off from all contacts with the outside world.  Geared at a teen audience, it could also play out as an update to Lord of the Flies.

Created by Michael McGowan, the series stars Jennette McCurdy as Wiley Day, a pregnant teenage daughter of a minister.  Each episode focuses on one of the remaining teens left in the town.  Not as artfully or subtlely realized as the competing supernatural mystery series The Returned, Between is still a watchable show that you might fit in between all the other sci-fi series available this summer.

Between series logo

This is Canada’s first production to be featured directly for Netflix viewing.  It has the look of a Netflix show as opposed to the shows you’d find on the networks or cable–not as crisp and polished, and without any well-known actors.

Here is a preview of Between: Continue reading

Persona Synthetics ad

Our Sci-Fi Summer previews seem like they are just getting started.  We’re previewing eight new sci-fi series this week, saving our pick for what looks like the best for last.  Next up: Humans, a new series coming soon from AMC, is the next take on The Stepford Wives.  As with 2013-14’s brilliant but short-lived Fox TV series about a world with borgs fully integrated into society called Almost Human, this latest look at cybernetic organisms of the future focuses on the problems with these new servants living among humans.  Eight episodes of Humans are coming our way this summer on AMC.

AMC (and England’s Channel 4) are having some great fun marketing the series.  Below you’ll find several previews for the series (both U.S. and British versions) as well as spots from the company that creates the new technology within the series (much like we saw from RoboCop with Omnicorp here, and from Prometheus, the David 8 ad from Weyland Corp, discussed here).  Just see the Persona Synthetics website here.  Set in London, where every family wants the latest gadget for the home, a Synth, a highly-developed, artificially intelligent human look-alike.

Humans AMC line

What stands out immediately is the lack of special effects in comparison to a similar genre series idea like Almost Human.  Almost Human was not able to survive with an expertly told story, a movie star lead in Karl Urban, and dazzling futuristic effects.  The Synths are humans, seemingly unmodified except for contact lenses.  It’s understandable that brilliant technology makes them look so real, and adds to the creepiness in the look of the show, but there’s definitely an element missing here.  And the fact that each Synth is different, instead of several duplicates seems to point more to production budgets than a clever sci-fi story device.

Continue reading

Proof on TNT

In our week of previews and reviews of a summer full of sci-fi television series coming your way, we’ve seen some interesting shows we think we’ll add to the watch list.  Variety seems to be the theme–definitely the networks have something for everyone, from space adventures to sci-fi in a medical procedural setting to paranormal stories and psychological thrillers.  TNT’s contribution is of the supernatural variety, with its new series Proof, starring Jennifer Beals as a surgeon searching for life after death.

Joe Morton stars as another doctor in the story.  Morton is pretty much synonymous with sci-fi since his role as the inventor of the future in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  He’s also shown up everywhere from Eureka to Warehouse 13, from CW’s Smallville to the movie Paycheck, to The X-Files and Forever Young (not to mention non-genre notable roles in Lone Star, M*A*S*H, Crossroads, The Equalizer, Speed, and Homicide).

Also look for co-stars Callum Blue (Smallville, The Tudors, and Dead Like Me), and Ed Gathegi (House, M.D., Veronica Mars, X-Men: First Class, Beauty and the Beast), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Memphis Belle, Transporter 2, The Dark Knight Rises).

TNT Proof

Here’s a preview of Proof, on TNT:

Continue reading

Killjoys

Two new sci-fi series are coming your way this month with another to follow later in the year, all on the Syfy Channel.  The Friday night line-up includes the mercenary show Killjoys and the psychological outer space thriller Dark Matter.  A release date for the dark Them vs. Us series The Expanse has not yet been released.

In Killjoys, a Canadian production by Lost Girl writer Michelle Lovretta, three bounty hunters including genre and Syfy veteran Aaron Ashmore (Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Smallville, Veronica Mars) chase their deadly targets across the galaxy in what looks to be a fun, Firefly style show.

Dark Matter, another Canadian production, features a six-person crew of a spacecraft who all had their memories wiped and must work together to learn why.  The preview has this series looking like a darker version of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Conundrum,” where the crew was mind-wiped in order to use their technology to take sides in a battle between two warring factions.  Look for genre veteran Roger E. Cross (Arrow, Orphan Black, The Returned, Eureka, 24, Star Trek Enterprise, The X-Files) as one of the stars of the show, and Lost Girl’s Zoie Palmer as “The Android.”

Dark Matter

Based on the James S.A. Corey’s novel Leviathan Wakes, The Expanse stars Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Medium, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Grimm, 24), Steven Strait (Sky High), Cas Anvar (Lost, Leverage, Source Code, In Plain Sight), and Wes Chatham (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay).  This series has a bit of an Aliens universe vibe.  A spaceship crew finds a derelict vessel with secrets that could spell doom for the human race.

Here’s the preview for Killjoys:

Continue reading

Whats he looking at The Whispers

Review by C.J. Bunce

The tropes of Steven Spielberg run rampant in the new TV series The Whispers.  Its pilot episode premiered Monday night on ABC and it teases enough of those things we love about Spielberg movies–it’s practically an homage to the producer of the series–to prompt us to return for more next week.  Network science fiction as a whole tends to be full of more shock and awe than the sci-fi of cable TV (compare Lost and Heroes to shows that delved deeper into the human condition like Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, or The Dead Zone), so the story will need to do more than just tease what’s really going on for us to not get bored and simply move along.

To begin with, The Whispers has that “creepy little girl” thing going that we’ve discussed plenty here at borg.com.  It’s hard to miss the throwbacks to the original Poltergeist (Spielberg wrote the screenplay).  Only this time we have more than one little girl talking to something no one else can see.  We don’t really know yet whether this is a purely sci-fi show or entirely horror–or a bit of both.

The show follows Claire Bennigan, played by Lily Rabe, a federal agent whose husband died three months prior to the events in the show’s first episode.  He’s also the pilot missing from a jet presumed lost in the Arctic, a jet just discovered far away in the African desert.  Will the relationship between Claire and her lost husband (Milo Ventimiglia) form the foundation of a relationship as in Spielberg’s supernatural romance Always?

The Whispers

An imaginary friend named Drill is speaking to little kids in a way only children can hear–and Drill’s voice always come from the lights (even we don’t hear this voice so we don’t know whether it’s real or not).  But these lights are up to something, like the energy from the Lost Ark from Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It’s not just the idea that harkens back to Raiders–as the power of the light swishes about it can’t be long before it starts zapping those who stand by who fail top keep their eyes closed.

We can see E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial imagery, like the feds in hazard gear closing in on Elliott’s house.  Here, government workers close in on a giant structure that has somehow reached up and grabbed a jet from far away.  E.T.’s mom, played by Dee Wallace, even makes a brief appearance in the pilot for The Whispers.

Continue reading

Stitchers

Tomorrow a summer full of new sci-fi begins with a new series on ABC Family.  In the series Stitchers, a woman is recruited into a secret government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to solve murders.  It sounds a bit like a sci-fi version of the story in the current CW Network series iZombie, where a woman eats brains to survive, and each brain passes the memories of the deceased along to help her solve murders.

But it’s not.  The pilot for Stitchers delves right in with just enough world building to entice but not bore.  Plenty of classic sci-fi tropes blend together nicely–so far–enough to prompt adding this series to our summer DVR recording profile.  The sci-fi elements flow from Minority Report and Source Code, with the crisp production quality of recent shows like Almost Human and Continuum.  Stitchers appears to have less hi-tech special effects, but maybe it won’t need it.  It also shares much with the vibe of Bones, Fringe, and Numbers–most of the cast looks young, too young to have these complex skills and careers, but it doesn’t detract much.

stitchers poster

Emma Ishta plays Kirsten, a woman with temporal dysplasia (a real malady that doesn’t quite jibe with how it’s used in the series).  Kirsten cannot recognize time–here it’s something like Asperger syndrome–Kirsten has trouble relating to others and apparently can’t feel emotions like others.  When she jumps into the memories of the recently deceased, she learns she can feel for the first time.  As with Lt. Commander Data and his new emotion chip, her first instinct is to walk away, but a piece of her past helps her to decide to forge ahead.  Her condition puts this character into a rare class of characters on TV.  Most shows with an odd lead follow the Sherlock Holmes model–a quirky male lead detective sleuths about with a more normal partner keeping him on the straight path.  Think Monk, Psych, Eleventh Hour, Doctor Who, Fringe, or Life.  Stitchers is like Bones–it places a woman in that quirky lead role.

After the break below, you can preview the entire first episode of the series–now.

Continue reading