Doctor Who Series 9 Retrospective

Capaldi Doctor Who Series 9Doctor Who undergoes its periodic changes from time to time, and our last big change was the arrival of Capaldi’s version of the Doctor last year in series 8. Series 8 was very much a mixed bag, and unfortunately it often seemed like the bad outweighed the good. And in a lot of ways, Doctor Who Series 9 has been much the same, but a clearer vision emerged as it went on. This season has been made up almost exclusively of 2-parters with running subplots, continuing the trend established last year. And there were also huge revelations and things we the fans have been waiting for appearing at last–but was it all done in a satisfying way?

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4 Suggestions for Prospective Cloners–Friday Four

Star Wars Clone troopers CloningThat’s a very interesting cloning machine you’ve built there. I know, I know, soon you’ll have that clone army complete, and you’ll show them–you’ll show all of them! But hey, why don’t we take a deep breath and think this through for a minute before you pull the lever? After all, you’ve put a lot of work into this thing. It’d be a shame to screw it all up now just because you were a little too impatient. And lucky you, I’ve got 4 suggestions that’ll help make sure these clones don’t come out like Bizarro.

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What Could Have Been: The Doctor Who TV Movie

McGann Doctor Who TV MovieAs we’ve done once before, instead of a season for a show that was canceled, this month we’re going to look at the plans for a series that never actually materialized at all. In this case, we’re looking at the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. The series was a co-production that aired on Fox, and was passed on for really stupid reasons that we’ll not get into here. But, given that it was essentially a pilot movie that was intended to lead into a full continuation of the classic BBC Doctor Who, there were quite a lot of plans as to where the show would’ve gone and what it might have included. How does it stack up to the eventual modern Doctor Who? Let’s find out.

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4 Awesome Ancient Alien Civilizations–Friday Four

Gallifrey Ancient CivilizationsTypically in our sci-fi confrontations, every alien race is pretty much on equal footing technologically, giving the appearance that they evolved more or less contemporaneously. But once in a while, we get glimpses of aliens that are much, much older than any others in the setting–our Precursors, typically, although whether they’re worthy of the title is often up for debate. These aliens have tech that’s practically equivalent to magic compared to what everyone else is wielding, and often times fighting over their leftovers is a major plot point. We rarely get to see them in their heyday, but when we do, they’re incredible. Here are 4 of these ancient alien civilizations, among the oldest in their settings, who really had some amazing abilities, some of whom remain a formidable presence to this day.

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4 of the Least Effective Sci-Fi Rebellions — Friday Four

Chakotay Star Trek Voyager Sci-Fi rebellionsEvil empires are a sci-fi staple, and every evil empire is going to have its own sci-fi rebellions to deal with. The only problem? Well, the bad guys are way better organized and equipped. This isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, but for some of the resistance movements out there, it may as well be. Not every Rebellion has the Force on their side, after all, and some of them can barely agree that they’re all on the same side. When you add infighting, tactical missteps, and poor planning to the mix, it’s a miracle they ever even accomplish anything at all. With that in mind, here are 4 of the least effective rebel groups ever to show up in sci-fi.

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4 of the Largest Shared Universes–Friday Four

All DoctorsIf you haven’t caught on by now,¬†I love the idea of shared universes. The real world is complex, with tons of stories going on at any given time–so why shouldn’t our fictional universes be the same? It seems like Hollywood has decided to look at things the same way as of late, because they’re really trying to put them to use everywhere (even when it really isn’t needed). But the shared universe isn’t a new concept, and some of them have been running for ages. Here we have 4 of the largest (and, not coincidentally, most are also longest-running) shared universes to grace our screens, as measured by hours of (canon) footage.

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4 Tips For A Smooth First Contact–Friday Four

Close EncountersFirst contact with an alien species is a tricky situation to deal with. When handled well, these aliens could become humanity’s greatest allies, helping us to take our place on the galactic stage. When handled poorly, humanity might wind up looking for a new home, if we’re particularly unlucky. And of course, that all assumes these aliens have shown up with peaceful intentions–there’s always the possibility that it’s a trick to take over slowly, or there’s cultural differences that can lead to major misunderstandings.

For the sake of this list, we’ll think of this as the aliens coming to us, but a lot of these points are just as effective in a Star Trek situation where we’ve gone out seeking new life and new civilizations.

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4 Must-Watch Cyberpunk Anime Series–Friday Four

Psycho Pass CyberpunkAs far as I’m concerned, there are pretty much two main kinds of sci-fi: space adventures and cyberpunk. Cyberpunk never had a big presence on TV, and I’ve covered most of the attempts at it by this point. They’ve ranged from very successful, like¬†Max Headroom, to far less so (TekWar) in terms of bringing it to life, but none of them have found much of an audience in the Western world. It’s rather bizarre, if you ask me; cyberpunk IS the fiction of the present, for all intents and purposes. But there is one place where cyberpunk thrived, a place intimately tied to the genre from its very origins–Japan. You can’t throw a rock in a cyberpunk dystopia without bouncing off a Neo Tokyo here or there. And a lot of classics of the genre come in the form of cyberpunk anime, so here are a few series that I feel are must-see.

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Site News

It feels weird to not have a picture on the right, so have this shot of faux-redshirt Max.

It feels weird to not have a picture on the right, so have this shot of faux-redshirt Max.

What? A news update? Yeah I don’t usually do these but it’s a fairly big change headed forward, so it seemed appropriate.

You might have noticed I haven’t done reviews for the last two SHIELD episodes. This is because I’ve decided to put reviews on indefinite hiatus for the time being. Why? Well, for one, it’s hard to compete with big sites that put up reviews immediately after the episode airs, especially since I usually want to watch the episode at least twice so I can really dig into it before posting. Trying to rush them out really just ruins my ability to enjoy the show and that’s no fun. Secondly, they just don’t get that many views; obviously that’s related to the big sites, but also just because a lot of people don’t look for that sort of thing. So far, the most popular reviews have been for episodes where something wasn’t explained to the viewer properly, or some piece of information that seemed innocuous at the time ended up being really important later. People who don’t remember that thing google it and end up here. Recall our old buddy Kai from Defiance, for example. I had contemplated not doing reviews for SHIELD season 3 at all, but ended up starting them anyway and now wish I hadn’t. There’s also the fact that I generally find SHIELD to be of such high quality that I’m mostly gushing about it and don’t have much to criticize. It makes for a rather dull review, if you ask me, and I’d prefer not to waste my time writing glowing reviews each and every week. I can always do that on Reddit in a more interesting and conversational manner. I will still be doing occasional reviews on CutPrintFilm, and season-long retrospectives are still in order.

The other news, partially related to the above, is that I’ve been writing a book of my own for a while now and I’m nearing the final stages before release. This has been in the works on and off for about 3 years now, so I hope my readers here will be willing to give a sci-fi world of my own creation a chance. I don’t want to get into this too much right now, but I will say it’s cyberpunk, or at least a descendant of cyberpunk, hardboiled (with a bit of fandom-related tropes thrown in). There’s a big new world I want to show you, but that’ll come in time.

For now, I’m going to stick with doing the Friday Four each week, a primer in the middle of the month, and a What Could Have Been at the end of the month, if possible. Primers take a long time because I try to watch the entire series before I write one up, and WCHB tends to require a lot of research that doesn’t always pan out in time, so I can’t do them more often than that. With Max Headroom, I was able to dig up a lot of info from a lot of different sources; with Earth 2, there was only one source to work with. Or take Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I didn’t have enough info on when I first attempted it last November, but slowly gathering more over the following months eventually enabled me to publish it. So sometimes those just have to be delayed. If that does happen, I will try to put together a list-type WCHB, like I have in the past, to post the following Friday.

I think that about covers it. Thanks to the loyal readers–I hope you’ll stick with me in the months ahead, both here on the site and as I expand beyond it. As always, you can post in the comments or get in touch with me on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift if you want to discuss it more.

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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