We’re delighted to have some of our comics included in the “Doctor Who and Me” exhibition that’s running at the National Media Museum in Bradford until 9th February 2014. If you find yourself in Yorkshire over the next couple of months you should definitely pay them a visit.
Archive for ‘Sci-fi’
We’re sad to report the passing of legendary stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen. His incredible work in classics such as Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argnauts were highlights of the Sunday afternoon TV schedules during our youth. He inspired countless film makers and animators, and without his tireless efforts and timeless creations the world would be a less fantastic place.
The BBC are reporting that classic British sci-fi Blake’s 7 is to be remade by the Syfy channel.
B7 has always been one of our favourite programmes, so it’s good to see it being revived to give younger viewers a chance to appreciate it. But the American writing and production team (and probably actors), gives us pause for thought. It’s not that we’ve got anything against American TV in general, but its character does tend to differ somewhat from British TV – and I don’t just mean the budgets.
British TV sci-fi has a history of being darker and more cynical, with Blake’s 7 being one of the stand-out examples. Its eponymous hero was a (falsely) convicted paedophile. His crew were a collection of criminals – thieves in the most part, but with a murderer thrown in for good measure – piloting a stolen ship. They were shown as “freedom fighters”, but one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, and there was certainly plenty of innocent blood spilled in their fight against an authoritarian government.
Morally ambiguous paedophiles and terrorists certainly provide plenty of scope for challenging and interesting storylines. I just hope the American viewers and producers have the stomach to explore those ideas to the full.
On the plus side, it does give me another chance to post a link to our Star Trek vs Blakes 7 strip.
Another sad loss from the world, as the designer of the Daleks, Ray Cusick, has passed away. Many of our most popular comics rely on his iconic design, but although we poke fun at them we truly have a deep-seated affection for the oversized pepper pots.
Just to be clear, this is not one of our comics, but I thought it would appeal to our Greys readers — especially as we’re not doing a topical Olympics strip of our own. It’s drawn using ball-point pens, and it’s worth visiting the artist’s site to see some of the other incredible images he’s created in the same way.
It has been announced that legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury passed away on Tuesday night. He’s perhaps best known as the author of “Farenheit 451″, though his influence on the science fiction world extends way beyond that.
If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi TV shows – and let’s face it, if you’ve ended up here then there’s a good chance that you are – check out the Sci-fi Airshow website. I just hope they find the time to add The Liberator to their collection at some point, as everyone knows it’s the most gorgeous sci-fi ship of all time.
After the first couple of episodes of FlashForward I came to the conclusion that most of the characters were complete idiots. Now that I’ve watched the whole series, I can honestly say that my opinion of the characters hasn’t changed much: they’re still idiots.
That said, by the time it finished, I was actually quite enjoying it. Certainly enough that I’m annoyed that yet another ambitious plotline has been cut short before it really had a chance to get going. After its mid-season hiatus the show returned stronger and more compelling than before. The intertwining paths of the characters became more convoluted (in a good way), and they’d finally realised that their futures weren’t set in stone. That still didn’t stop any of them being idiots, especially in the last episode as they all inexorably followed paths that almost deliberately led to their flash forwards coming true – even when that wasn’t a good thing.
But now its over. No second series. No answers to the many outstanding questions. No incentive for me to ever watch another drama with a long-term storyline ever again. That’s the saddest thing about FlashForward’s cancellation: not the fact that it’s joined the long ranks of prematurely cancelled shows, but that it asked for an investment from the viewer that will never be repaid. Please stop doing that. Whomever it is who commissions these things, please treat the viewer with a bit more respect.
I’ve suggested in the past that the commission for a programme should include a contingency fund to allow for an extra episode or two to be produced post-cancellation in order to tie up the loose ends. I fear that unless something like that happens viewers will just become less and less inclined to start watching programmes with an ongoing dramatic narrative. That, in turn, just makes it even less likely that such programmes will be commissioned in the first place, and that really would be a shame, not just for the viewers, but for our culture as a whole.
I watched the last episode of Defying Gravity last night. It was an excellent series – the best sci-fi I’ve seen in a long time. For a start the “sci” was largely believable, while the “fi” was a lot more than just shooting aliens with lasers.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s set in the near future, and is based within our own solar system. No warp drives. No extra-solar alien planets populated by space-faring races. No teleport devices – in fact no shore leave at all, unless you count 20 minutes or so in a refrigerated space suit on Venus. What it did have was strong characters, made all the stronger by gradually unfolding back-stories, excellent sets which looked like they could have come straight out of the NASA design book, and an ongoing plot which, though slow at times, did have the effect of drawing you in if you were prepared to stick with it.
An ongoing plot, however, pretty much guaranteed that ratings would progress mostly downwards, rather than up (it’s a disincentive for people to tune in halfway through). It didn’t start strongly enough to overcome that, so only made it as far as one series. For that reason, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch it unless you quite like the idea of being left with only a fraction of the story completed.
Alas, it’s an all too familiar tale: Programme gets commissioned; Writers plan for a multi-season storyline; programme gets cancelled part-way through the plot, which rarely gets resolved (unless the producers manage to wrangle the money for a film or comic book out of someone). If you’ve stumbled across this page because you did watch Defying Gravity, then you might like to follow this link to find the resolution to a few of the dangling plot lines.
So farewell DG, you were too good for the TV of our time. Oh, and could you TV execs please stop commissioning series if you’re not going to show any commitment to the integrity of the story. At the very least, try to find another way to deal with this issue, other than just leaving your viewers in limbo. Again.
Quite what aliens want with cows, we don’t know. Perhaps Douglas Adams was close-but-wrong, and it’s the cows, not the mice, that are actually superior pan-galactic beings. The fact that we turn a lot of them into inferior pan-fried products probably won’t do much to gain their assistance when the Vogons arrive. Of course we have our own theory about the alien-cow relationship.
Having drawn a cartoon cow we decided it needed more than one outing in our little cartoon universe, so our little Daisy got promoted to the heading of this site. It’s right up the top of the page, if you missed it. Daisy appears a couple of times: letting you know that we post a new comic fortnightly (every other Thursday, to be precice), and getting abducted by a passing UFO.
If you’re a big fan of the whole cow-being-abducted-by-a-UFO meme, then you might also be interested in a lamp modelled on just that scenario. UK readers can buy it from Firebox.com for the princely (or is that pricey?) sum of about £80. The original manufacturer’s website is worth a look, too – especially as it gives you an excuse to dig out those anaglyphic glasses you’ve got buried away in the back of a drawer for the full 50s B-movie effect.
I know, I know. You’re an alien-cow-kidnap fan, but can’t really justify spending £80 on a lamp. I understand completely. Or perhaps you’re reading this in the future, having missed out on the limited run of 2,000 original lamps. If you don’t mind putting in a bit of Blue Peter effort though, you can also make your own much more cheaply. You could even save a little money by foregoing the “Package of farm animals” and instead printing a picture of our little Daisy onto cardboard to insert into the evil abduction beam of doom.