Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the internet, nobody can hear you scream first.

I rarely try to be particularly timely in my posts here - to provide breaking news on geekdom happenings - but the look at the Prometheus trailer that premiered online today does make me want to jump into the pool of voices eagerly crying it's either a prequel or otherwise related film to the Alien movies - and particularly to the 1979 classic that started the series.

First, take a look at the trailer here.

Despite overall feeling like the Alien series - which could be simply dismissed as both being science fiction films from the same director - there are two dead giveaway elements from the first film.

1) The space jockey.

As he was called, the dead pilot of the alien ship found by the Nostromo in Alien. His seat, at least, is clearly seen in the trailer at 0:39.

2) The ship.

Several shots reveal the same horseshoe shaped spaceship that the Nostromo discovered crashed, and explored:

Here's another image from Prometheus, clearly showing the whole horseshoe shape:

This is all news to me, but if you search the internet, you'll find plenty of references to the upcoming film, and even a quote from Scott confirming it is about the space jockey from the original film. I don't know how many of these are true, but I know I'm looking forward to this one with almost the same anticipation I felt for the first when I went to see it in theaters back on my 13th birthday in 1979.

This also underlines how much movie making has changed since the first sequel Aliens was released in 1986. Then, returning to the ship depended on the existence of the model, which had been stored somewhat exposed to the elements in a driveway in Burbank CA for several years.

Damage to the model had lead to the idea that a lava flow had cut through the ship since Ripley had last visited, but now I can't recall if that appears in the film or just in the comic book / novel adaptations.

The space jockey couldn't have appeared again without CGI (hence adding to the need for a path into the ship that didnt pass him). I'm told the original giant space jockey, sculpted out of foam, was on display in the forecourt of the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood when the film premiered, until a stray cigarette caught it on fire and destroyed it in a matter of seconds.
Egyptian Theater photo swiped from here.

Next time: 'Tis the Season to Collect....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apparently, we have a new theme.

It's "footage of 1970's TV spaceships that ends up in karaoke videos on new programs." Last week's episode of Community featured scenes of Joel McHale as Jeff Winger and Jim Rash as Dean Pelton (that's him on the left screaming) making karaoke videos in the mall. They break into a fight as another video starts rolling behind them, and there once again appears the Salvage 1 spaceship on network screens for the second time in thirty years. (See the last entry if you're confused at this point).

Is this a new trend in television? Or the last time it'll ever happen? How odd.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quark flies again - sort of...

Just a few weeks ago I was watching Breaking Bad - easily one of the best dramas on TV today - when something very unusual but very familiar caught my eye.

Not to give away any spoilers, a side plot involved viewing a karaoke-style video one of the characters had made to the tune of Peter Schilling's Major Tom. Behind him ran mostly space themed stock footage.
And, unmistakably, footage of the space ship from Quark.
In fact, it was clearly from the episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Ficus," which is about the ship being pulled through a black hole and, with dazzling disco-y effect, splitting into two copies - one good one evil. (Ficus, being the emotionless Vegeton alien, is neither good or evil - hence the title). I recognized the ship right away not just because it's so distinctive -
but because I had recently commissioned this model of it online, and had sent the manufacturer every angle of the ship I could find on the show. They built it with the garbage collecting door open, and the trash bag collecting arms extended.

Once you're commissioning models, I think you have to admit to a certain obsession with a show - or at least, in this case, an obsession with collecting everything possible on the program. With this model, plus all the scripts (except one) and dozens of press stills and more, I think I can safely literally say what I once joked: I almost certainly have the largest collection of Quark stuff assembled.
The music video also included footage from a show even more obscure than Quark, if only because it was never released on DVD.
That odd 3-engined rocket is Salvage One, the ship from the Andy Griffith show by the same name. Griffith played an ex-astronaut who used NASA surplus to make his own rocket to go to the moon and salvage everything NASA had left behind, plus bring back his own moon rocks too. I don't remember much about the show, but I remember enjoying it.

A bit of trivia: Quark may be about the only science fiction show that never named it's spaceship - all the scripts only call it "Quark's ship."

More soon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Big Bang 5.0

I'm writing this up just as the season 5 premiere of "The Big Bang Theory" is recording on my DVR upstairs. Thinking back to the start, it's a tribute to the cast and crew that the show was 1) created in the first place, and 2) good enough to last this long. (Also notable, it garnered what I believe is still the best syndication deal ever for a TV show.

I've been collecting stuff from the program since the beginning, and it's worth noting that without the San Diego Comic Con, there'd be a heck of a lot less stuff out there to collect. Probably the prize of my collection is the set of posters from each season, signed by the cast at Comic Con. These are all framed similarly and hanging near each other in the living room.

Above is the latest, which for the first time is illustrated: a super-hero version of the whole cast. This one includes seven signatures, including both Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette).
Last year's poster featured the cast in a tribute to, um... the Beatles? Barbarella? Casino? I feel like there's a specific pop culture reference being made here that's eluding me. (If you know, please fill me in). In any case, they look cool. Signed by the 5 cast members.

Season two's art featured a "Usual Suspects" style line up, equating each character's height with their relative IQ - and Penny breaking the rank to come out on top. Five signatures.

Finally, the first year's art features Sheldon and Leonard in their Flash costumes, with the rest of the cast represented in small photos at the bottom. This one is notable because it's not only signed by the 5 cast members, but also producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady.

I'm not sure how many of these they sign each year - maybe 100 at most? But I'm guessing the first is the rarest simply because they had no idea what to expect at the Con. According to Johnny Galecki at their second Con, it was the overwhelming response at the previous show that first showed them how big the show was catching on.

More soon...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mystic Warlords of Ka'a comes to life!

I didn't see these at all while at Comic Con, but that's easy to understand: it's a big place. Ultra big. Like, there was a full size recreation of the town of South Park across the street, and we didn't even notice it for the first two days.

Anyways, these cards started showing up on Ebay and, after noticing the address on one and dialing in, I discovered there's a real live version of the collectible card game "Mystic Warriors of Ka'a" up on facebook!
While it seems to be a little buggy, it's kind of fun, as the characters from the show appear to teach you the rules and then, play against you.

I'm still checking it out myself, but go try it out and have fun! Link here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stan in the picture...

Just a quick update here - last season, Stan "The Man" Lee made an appearance as himself on The Big Bang Theory. But did he enjoy it? This image shot off a monitor at SDCC proves that indeed he did. Confirming what my good friend Josh Shipley from The Josh and Croz Show told me after he was lucky enough to interview the Man himself, "The Man" has a photo of himself on the set of BBT right by his desk in his Beverly Hills office. (Upper right). And just in case you can't make it out, he's in the living room with the whole cast, and it looks like Kaley is giving him a smooch! Who said comic book guys don't get girls?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Oversized Carry-all Anticipation

Hopefully, I'll be using Comic-con to jump start my regular posting here again. For now, though, I just want to preview the new Big Bang Theory Bag that'll be at this year's con:

You can see the rest of the bags for this year here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Second Final Frontier

I recently viewed the latest Star Trek film for the second time. First was in the theaters, second at home on Blu-Ray, much later, much removed from all the hype about whether or not J.J. Abrams was destroying the franchise, or broke the Prime Directive, or any of that. I was watching it as pure entertainment, as a science fiction fan but also a lifelong Star Trek fan.* ("Spoilers" follow if you're actually reading this before you've seen the film).

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Abrams played it safe - or smart - by setting his Trek in an alternate universe created when the uber-Romulan villain bounced back in time and attacked the USS Kelvin, just as one James Tiberius Kirk happens to be born. So, everything we see in this timeline is completely new and therefore free from any continuity scrutiny you can apply.

Ordinarily, a film set in the formative Star Fleet Academy years of our heroes would require - at least to the hardcore continuity buffs - a look somewhere between Captain Archer's Enterprise and Captain Pike's Enterprise as seen in the original pilot "The Cage" or the two-part episode "The Menagerie." But since the film starts with a disruption to the time stream - a huge, deadly attack by an unknown enemy that never happened in "our" Trek history - all bets are off. Assuming a greater focus on offensive and defensive power for starships after that, there's no reason to insist anything in this film has to match anything we've seen before. Only that brief scene on the Kelvin needs to fit into the original timeline,** and I'm surprised on close inspection to believe that it does:

On Captain Archer's Enterprise (left), the controls are large manual slides and hard buttons, like on a 1980's stereo console. By the time of Kirk's Enterprise (right), controls are very simple and very solid, like a 1960's cassette player. The detail of the Kelvin shuttle from the film (middle) shows nice, hard-wired type toggle switches, like a 1970's mixing board (Ok, I'm guessing on that one). To me, a believable intermediary step. (It was already interesting to note, once the original series was placed in a timeline between the movies produced in the 80s+, and "Enterprise" produced in 2001-2005, both with greater detailing to the sets, it implied there was an intentional decision around the time Captain Pike came along, to make the starship corridors very plain and straight, and consoles made up of simple hard buttons. Maybe one too many "Fire torpedoes" apps froze up when they pressed their touch screens...)

That's the really picky, tech analysis of the film. In any case, I found it very entertaining, and most of the performers captured just enough nuances of the original characters to feel true to them without just spewing bad imitations of the originals.
Simon Pegg's wry half-smile perfectly evoked James Doohan's good-natured performance as "Scotty."

It's an interesting study of the nature of "suspension of disbelief" what is the only part of the whole movie that, as a Star Trek fan, gave me pause: the size of Engineering, when Kirk and Scotty beam into it. It's HUGE.
Huge, with lots of empty space, and apparently a lot of it constructed out of concrete, as well. I know the Enterprise is big, but this amount of space looks like it should literally take up the entire secondary hull and then some. (Some of this concrete construction is seen on the Kelvin, too).

On the original series, Engineering looked big, but believable. You could at times see a couple levels, and maybe a ladder poking up higher, but it looked like it was built with an economy of space (no pun intended) in mind.

This kind of detail shouldn't pull you out of the narrative, but it often does. The truth is, they found some kind of real - world refinery or such to film in, and decided it looked futurey enough to be the Enterprise. Money saved on building a set or even rendering one.
It's not as if the Enterprise is the size of the Red Dwarf, which is established as having thousands of levels, a Huge prison system entirely hidden from the normal crew, and cargo bays big enough to dwarf T-Rexes. Anything goes there, and they often shot in real world industrial plants that looked perfectly like part of the ship.

Not that this is a review, but I enjoyed the film even more the second time than the first, and watchign it at home gave the chance to look closely for all those details of design and performance that you miss on first viewing.
Plus, you gotta love outtakes where you get to see the Vulcans crack up...

*That's, right, Star Trek fan. Not a Trekker, or a Trekkie, just a fan of the whole franchise.

**Okay, bonus points if you wanted to point out that Ambassador Spock's ship is from our timeline too, but since it's from the farthest future point we've ever seen in that Universe (and perhaps ever will?) it's safe from scrutiny too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I don't like yer mug.

Mugs strike me, personally, as generally uninteresting - probably because I rarely drink hot liquids, and usually intake a larger quantity than your typical mug can hold. Still, a few mugs made it into my collection and stay there permanently. From left to right:

Bluth Company: Fox made this available on their web site early in the third season of Arrested Development, just as Michael Bluth began sipping from one at his desk on the show. Remember an easy way to build on your prop budget is to develop merchandise that works on screen as part of the show. Even so, I don't think there're too many of these around.

Oceanic Airlines: This belongs to the airline from Lost, and like the Bluth mug above, appealed to me as a prop replica. If it's something a character on the show would hold, I usually want one.

Drew Carey: This, on the other hand, appears to be a cast and crew gift, meaning there are very few around. Found it in a Salvation Army store in Pasadena.

MST3K: I inherited 2 Mystery Science mugs, one with Mike and one with Joel. Interesting, and just meaningful enough to hang around.

Oh - and Happy New Year! Hoping 2011 is a considerable improvement over 2010; it's already looking like an improvement.
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