Posts Tagged ‘television series’

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, likeĀ 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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4 Little Known Pieces of Popular Shows–Friday Four

R Tam SessionWhen it comes to the most popular sci-fi series, fans usually know everything there is to see. Every episode, deleted scene, bizarre spinoff series… they’ve seen it all. Sometimes, however, there are these weird little bits of the show that just never get out there to the wider fanbase. They’re not a lost episode, exactly. They can be created for lots of reasons, from cancellation scares to reconstructions of bits that were never properly filmed. For a long time fan, discovering one of these unknown clips can be a real treat, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s a chance to see some of your favorite characters back in action again when you thought it was all done! So here are 4 little known pieces of popular shows, in the hopes that you can enjoy spending a few more minutes with some beloved characters, too.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3E3 Review: A Wanted (Inhu)man

Sparks FlySHIELD is back at full force in an episode that’s probably among the most grounded they’ve ever had. Keeping a world full of superpowers relateable is tough, but the best way to do that is to focus on emotion and relationships, and that’s where this episode shines.

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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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4 Strange Cameos by Sci-Fi Characters–Friday Four

Daleks Looney TunesWe’ve talked about cameos a few times on here before. Cameos by celebrity fans are fairly common, and scientists are a great choice when you’re looking to lend your sci-fi some scientific credibility. However, there’s also the other side of the coin–when sci-fi characters drop out of their own universes and make cameos in shows where they wouldn’t usually belong. This isn’t just using the actor or referencing their famous role; we’ve actually got a pseudo-crossover on our hands. (The big difference between these cameos and crossovers is that these aren’t canon to their sci-fi origins.) Who does that? Let’s find out!

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3E2 Review: The Purpose in the Machine

A Victorian MonolithPicking up literally where we left off, the team is forced to run in and stop Fitz from getting himself sucked into the monolith. But he’s going to make it happen one way or another, dagnabbit! We just may need some Asgardian’s help. Unfortunately, it’s not the one you’re hoping to see. Or the other one you’re hoping to see.

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4 Signs Your Utopia Might Secretly Be A Dystopia–Friday Four

Stratos RMThings are pretty great here in Utopia-land, aren’t they? Everyone’s got enough to eat, and they have plenty of time to relax. The weather’s always good, nothing ever breaks down, the lost Doctor Who episodes have been found and Half-Life 3 is totally coming out next week, you guys. A false utopia? Pshaw. Who could possibly have a problem with such a place?

Well, maybe you should. Utopia’s not all it’s cracked up to be; a lot of the time, if you stop to think about it, that wonderful place is actually pretty horrifying. Or even if it is, if you have any experience with the real world, you might start to ask yourself questions, like “how did things become so perfect?”–which is often the first step to learning that it’s not so perfect after all. So, if you find yourself in an apparent utopia, it might be time to dust off that deerstalker and magnifying glass and do a little investigating, and these four signs are as good a place to start as any.

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