In the past, we’ve talked about some weird casting situations, where patterns emerged or unusual relationships between characters and actors (or even whole franchises) appeared. Most of those involved the big names of the show’s cast, the people with their names right after the opening credits. And as important as the main cast can be for a show’s success, it’s often the recurring character who help to give a show its flavor, often coming out of the shadows to emerge as fan favorites. This week, continuing on from our focus on recurring characters in the SHIELD review, we’re going to look at some of the actors whose names aren’t quite so prominently displayed, but whose work you’re probably more familiar with than you realize.
In the days of episodic television, there were always villains of the week, showing up just in time for the next episode and being dispatched within the hour. Usually, they had little explanation and even less characterization, and that was okay because no one really cared about the background of this one episode bad guy. Once in a while, though, a villain would appear on the scene who warranted more. He was skilled, not just another in an endless line of mooks. He had a code of honor. He had things he believed in and fought for, and just as often, died for. And for once, we in the audience were forced to stop and rethink the position of our heroes. These 4 bad guys below were doing their jobs, exactly as the heroes do, and from another perspective, they might even be a hero.
This month’s edition returns to a show that had its moment in the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer spotlight just a few months ago. Like so many other Fox shows, Space: Above & Beyond was canceled before it had a chance, after being yanked around by the network for a few months. From the start, the creators had hoped the show would last at least 5 seasons, which in and of itself is a pretty common desire for showrunners (5 seasons times 22 episodes equals 110 total, enough to secure syndication, which in the 90s is where the big money came from). And while this show is hardly a well-planned out 5 year arc like Babylon 5, the creators, James Wong and Glen Morgan, did have some plans for Space: Above & Beyond season 2 sketched out before the show was canceled (and even discussed the possibility of a theatrical continuation). So let’s dig in and find out where this very military show might have headed had it continued.
Sci-fi shows tend to be set in a time and place very far from modern day Earth, which means that their stories don’t always have to respond to recent events or even the time of year, like some shows do. And yet some people just can’t help themselves, so when a holiday comes rolling around, they embrace it, like with Doctor Who‘s many Christmas specials over the years. The Doctor even has a new one coming up this year where it looks like he’s meeting the “actual” Santa Claus. Better get busy picking up the pieces from that Series 8 finale, Santa.
But while Doctor Who‘s Christmas specials are generally well-received (and not a great divergence from the rest of the show in tone), other series weren’t so lucky. Just try asking George Lucas about the Star Wars Holiday Special, eh? So in the spirit of the season, here are four sci-fi shows you’d never have guessed would have Christmas specials.
Last month, I kicked off our newest recurring segment, the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer, with Charlie Jade. The idea behind the segment is to introduce binge-watching sci-fi fans to shows they might never have heard of otherwise, be it because they were produced outside the US, one-season wonders, or just quietly performing in syndication for years alongside the heavy hitters. As such, our topic for this month is Space: Above and Beyond, a 1995 series that lasted for one season, ranking among the multitude of sci-fi shows that Fox canceled before Firefly was even a gleam in Joss Whedon’s eye. Space: Above and Beyond is a military sci-fi series that follows a squadron of United States Marines called the “Wildcards,” who are serving in the war against an alien species known as the Chigs. First contact, needless to say, went badly, as they start off by destroying humanity’s only extrasolar colonies. Continue reading