Archive for the ‘Opinion/Analysis’ Category

What Could Have Been: Max Headroom Season 2.5? Animation? The Max Headroom Movie?

Max CityEarlier this month I introduced Max Headroom, the fictional show starring the computerized celebrity of the same name. If you’ve read that you know I had a pretty high opinion of the series itself, a fine example of 80’s cyberpunk on its own and one of the only TV programs to venture into that territory at the time. However, it seemed the world wasn’t quite ready for the dystopian adventures of Max, and the show met with cancellation after two exceptionally short seasons. Production was still in full swing at the time, though, so what did we miss out on by this abrupt ending? or Max Headroom season 3? And hell, even in spite of the cancellation, their plans for Max’s world weren’t done–a Max Headroom theatrical movie, anyone?

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Max Headroom

Max Headroom TitleMax Headroom occupies a weird spot as it relates to the Primer. Hell, everything about him and his origin is complicated. If you’re old enough to remember the 80’s (and I’m not), you’ll probably recognize the eponymous character, at the very least. He was a pop cultural icon for a while–a witty, irreverent “computerized” character that appeared in everything from Sesame Street to New Coke commercials… and yet the 1987 cyberpunk TV show that starred the character barely eked out 2 abbreviated seasons (14 episodes total) and is all but unknown as a result. I find him fascinating, a fourth wall-straddling fictional star who kind of became the thing he was originally designed to satirize. But is the show worth watching, or has it been rightfully forgotten?

Buckle up, this is a long one.

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What Could Have Been: Earth 2 Season 2

Earth 2 SettlementSo last week I introduced Earth 2 in the Primer, a series about colonizing an alien world with a heavy dose of environmentalism mixed in. Earth 2 had a strong start in the ratings but gradually crashed; the production company, however, wasn’t quite ready to cancel it yet, and decided to investigate the possibility of a retool first. With a change in showrunners, an Earth 2 season 2 continuation was pitched. While it ultimately didn’t get that renewal, we do have the leaked plans for what that second season pitch looked like. Big changes were certainly in store, but were they good ones?

Needless to say, a few spoilers for season 1 follow.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Earth 2

Earth 2Star Trek Voyager is often cited as the first sci-fi show with a female lead, and it was definitely touted as a selling point before it premiered. But as it turns out, Voyager was beaten to the punch–by this show, Earth 2. Premiering in 1994, Earth 2 focuses on–you guessed it–colonists trying to survive on an Earth-like planet after Earth has become unlivable. It’s very much in the vein of a space western, but it’s also a family show, and these two aspects clash from time to time. Lasting only one season, Earth 2 started off popular but plummeted in the ratings as it went on. Is that a sign of its quality, or did it die right as it was getting good?

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Defiance Season 3 Retrospective

New ArchDefiance moved into its third season by making some huge changes to the status quo. Some turned out way better than expected, while others were more of a letdown. With the finale feeling like it may very well be the end of the series, how did Defiance shape up overall? New storylines, new characters, even a new race of Votans… but was it well executed, or did many things end up being rushed to fit this apparent finale?

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What Could Have Been: The Tomorrow People Season 2

The Tomorrow People Season 2This month’s What Could Have Been comes as a special request. The Tomorrow People was a 2013 series about a group of people who developed superpowers (the eponymous Tomorrow People), who are being hunted down by a group called Ultra. It was a CW series, and as such has more of a YA bent to it than what we’ve mostly covered so far on the site. It was also a remake of a 1970s British sci-fi series, one that actually lasted quite a while (8 seasons). The modern incarnation wasn’t so lucky and got canceled after its first. Now, I should admit I’ve never actually watched The Tomorrow People myself, so if there are any silly errors you’ll have to forgive me. But, I was able to dig up a little info on where the series would have gone, and it sounds like it would’ve been quite the shakeup. Without further ado, let’s look at The Tomorrow People season 2 that could have been.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Century City

Century CityAfter taking a month off, the Obscure SciFi Primer returns with a strange cross-genre offering, Century City. Century City is a sci-fi legal drama–quite possibly the only sci-fi legal drama ever, actually. Airing on CBS in 2004, it managed to film a mere 9 episodes, and of those, only 2 actually made it on TV before it was canceled, so it never really had a chance to succeed at all. Think of all the awful shows you’ve watched throughout your life: even those likely got a 13 episode upfront order produced. So was Century City really that bad, or did it simply get shafted even worse than Firefly and all our other cut short favorites? Let’s find out.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Harsh Realm

Harsh RealmWarping in on an unusual day of the week, the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer returns with a fan-requested show: the extremely short-lived 1999 series Harsh Realm. Clocking in at a meager 9 episodes, this is by far the shortest show to appear in the Primer to date. Harsh Realm deals with virtual reality, much like another show we’ve covered already. But while VR.5‘s virtual worlds were highly personal ones, Harsh Realm is far less so, having started as a high-tech training simulation for dealing with potential nuclear apocalypse. It’s also an (incredibly loose) adaptation of a comic book, and had a number of X-Files writers working on it, like Chris Carter and Vince Gilligan (although the latter wasn’t a writer here).

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Retrospective

SHIELD SplinterNow that it’s been a few weeks since the season 2 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we can get enough distance to take a look at the second season as a whole. This season was a marked improvement over the first, continuing the trend that started with the post-Captain America 2 episodes of season 1. It continued some plot threads from season one, but the main thrust of the season was largely centered on new territory for the MCU: the Inhumans. We’re going to look at three things here: the development of characters, the overall progression of the various plot threads, and some of the more general themes present throughout.

And it’s a retrospective, so duh: spoilers for all of season 1 and 2 ahead.

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What Could Have Been: Star Trek: Phase II

A proposed Enterprise redesign for an undeveloped movie, by Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame.

A proposed Enterprise redesign for another undeveloped movie, by Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame.

We’re going to try something new this month. Instead of a season for a show that was canceled, it’s going to be a look at the plans for a series that never actually materialized at all. Hopefully it’s just as popular, as I’ve got a few more of these we can examine in the future, and let’s face it–there are a lot of canceled shows, but not all of them had enough planning and forethought put into them that they could fill out a full article. And what better place to start out than in the franchise that featured in the first “What Could Have Been?” That’s right, we’re looking at a Star Trek series that never got produced: a continuation of the original series, with new characters and an upgraded ship called Star Trek: Phase II.

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