Jesus, Grandpa!

I recently purchased Game of Thrones season 2 and have been trying to catch up on the series before season 3 airs on HBO. I’m reminded just how great the show’s been, but also just how frustrating some of the plot lines have been. I’m half way through season 2 as I write this and I can’t help but feel a little like the Grandson from The Princess Bride as I watch. In this scenario, I imagine George R.R. Martin as Grandpa.

“Stop Grandpa, you’re reading it wrong.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Who kills Prince Joffrey in the end? Is it Robb? Is it Sansa, who?”

“No one kills him. He lives.”

“Jesus, Grandpa, what did you read me this for!?”

I truly don’t know how Game of Thrones will turn out (no spoilers please) but I swear if Joffrey doesn’t end up with his head on a pike, I may have to hire a brute squad.

Just Like Grandma Used to Replicate!

Back in April of 2008, a bunch of friends and I started the Sci-Fi Cast. It was designed to be a podcast where we could get together and chat about geeky stuff like Battlestar Galactica and science fiction in general. Now a year later, the Sci-Fi Cast is going strong, although the same cannot be said for BSG.

In recording our podcast over this past year, I’ve found that are most interesting and funny episodes are the ones where we pick a topic and just discuss it. These are the times when our geeky brains float unfettered in the deep reaches of sci-fi space. Episodes like 13.5 where Dave and I discussed the age-old question of Kirk vs. Picard, or episode 22.5 where Jen, Dave & I picked our most over and underrated sci-fi movies.

I’m happy to report that our latest recording is just such a journey. In episode 27 we talk about our favorite science fiction technology, how we’d use it in our day-to-day lives and the potential pitfalls that would crop up. I have to say it’s one of our funnier outings and I think you’ll really enjoy it. If you love sci-fi, then beam on over and check out episode 27 of the Sci-Fi Cast today.

PS – Don’t forget to nominate your favorite moments of Battlestar Galactica for our “Toastie Awards” which we’ll be recording this coming Tuesday. Time is running out and we need your help. Thanks!

BSG and the Hiatus from Hell

Friday marks the long-awaited return of the Sci-Fi Channel’s hit series Battlestar Galactica. Fans of the show have been waiting almost a full year for the final 10 episodes that will ultimately conclude the tale of the ill fated 13th tribe of man. Get caught up and in the mood with episode 16 of The Sci-Fi Cast, featuring Jen, Dave and recapping season 4 of BSG as well as the webisodes.

We’re also proud to announce that you can now follow our science fiction related rants, releases and ravings on our new scificast Twitter account! It seems only fitting that a podcast born of a conversation on Twitter, the show should come full circle. When we left Twitter, we were but the learner, now we… are… the master. Jump on over to @scificast and follow us today!

Ode To An Outpost

SPOILER WARNING: If you’ve not watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then you’ll want to beware because there are spoilers ahead (some minor, some major). Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

Ask any Star Trek fan which series is their favorite and they’re likely to tell you Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like the original series, Next Generation was created by Gene Roddenberry and was full of imaginative stories, strong characters and top notch production values. Given all this, it’s no wonder TNG forms the bedrock of the modern Star Trek franchise. But from the futuristic utopia that was Roddenberry’s Next Gen universe, sprung the series I’ve come to regard as my favorite – Deep Space Nine. Considered by many to be the “troubled middle child”, caught between Next Generation and Voyager, Deep Space Nine never received the critical praise or audience numbers it deserved.

Thanks to my friend Corey and his DS9 DVD collection, I’ve been watching Deep Space Nine from season 1 for the better part of a year. Like most TV shows, DS9 started out rocky. Episodes devoted to the “problem of the week” along with actors and directors who were unsure of the character’s motivations led to some wild over-acting and sloppy story lines early on. But unlike Next Generation which peaked in season 4 & 5 and Voyager which was barely exciting for much of its run, Deep Space Nine only got better the longer it ran.

Despite being born in the shadow of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine quickly found its footing and by season 3 all pistons were firing. Producers had introduced the Starship Defiant to take our heroes on missions of exploration and adventure away from the station. A new, deadly enemy called The Dominion, with a dark and complex backstory was introduced that would lay the ground work for some of the best story lines in seasons 6 & 7. Strong relationships formed between major characters like Odo & Kira and Worf & Dax. Writers like Ron Moore of modern Battlestar Galactica fame, pushed studio heads to allow multi-episode story arcs, something that was frowned upon for a weekly series that needed to stand alone in syndication.

Like many fans, I could probably fill a book with all of the aspects of the show that I love. I won’t go into that level of detail but I did want to share some of my favorite parts. In no particular order, here are just some of the things I appreciate whenever I watch Deep Space Nine:

• Sisko, The Emissary – Not only did Deep Space Nine tackle a tough and controversial subject like religion, but it boldly wove it into the fabric of the DS9 universe. Making Sisko not only a heroic Starship Captain, but also a religious icon was a stroke of genious on the creator’s parts. Watching him evolve from a bitter man who lost his wife at the hands of the Borg, to become the most beloved person of the Bjorian faith was both satisfying and unexpected.

• The Ferengi – Hats off to DS9′s writers as well as the actors who played all of the Ferengi. They took two-dimensional characters driven purely by profit and injected serious helpings of loyalty, family and much needed comedy into the Ferengi lore. DS9 did for the Ferengi, what Next Generation did for the Klingons, move them beyond simple charactatures and into the realm of “real people”. I especially love Rom’s devotion to Quark despite his brother’s often less-than-stellar treatment of him. Ferengi episodes were always winners in my book.

• Worf & Dax – Simply put, one of the best reasons to watch the show. Worf had always been a favorite on Next Generation, and with Deep Space Nine, the character was given a chance to grow beyond battles and bat’leths. Their devotion to each other along with their ability to overcome seemingly impossible differences put smiles on fan’s faces. The wedding episode “You Are Cordially Invited” was a series highlight and gave us a peek inside Klingon culture no fan will soon forget. When Dax died at the end of season 6, it left a huge hole, not only in Worf’s heart, but in ours too.

• Vic Fontaine – During the original run of DS9, I positively hated Vic Fontaine episodes. The holographic night club singer, played so cooly by real-life crooner James Darren, often got in the way of stories about the Dominion or the Prophets or something else of fan interest. But as the years have passed, I realized just how great Vic was and how his stories were necessary diversions from the weight of heavier plot lines. The Vic Fontaine episodes “His Way” and “Bada Bing, Bada Bang” are now among my all-time favorites.

• Bashir & O’Brian – Every Trek series nurtures key relationships between characters and Deep Space Nine was no different. The growing bond between Miles O’Brian and Julian Bashir was a delight to watch unfold. It formed the basis of many solid stories and grounded the two characters in a reality that all of us could relate to. On their own, I can’t say I really liked Bashir or O’Brian, but their chemistry together was undeniable.

• In The Pale Moonlight – Without a doubt, my favorite episode of Deep Space Nine, it highlights the incredible acting skills of Avery Brooks and Andrew J. Robinson. The story takes several twists and turns and shows just how committed Captain Sisko is to winning the war with the Dominion. It should have won an Emmy for writing, but like all of Star Trek when it comes to winning important awards, it’s overlooked. Pity that.

• Jeffrey Combs – A skilled character actor, Combs brought flair and depth to any number of characters he played on DS9. My personal favorite had to be the conniving yet obsequious Weyhoun. Comb’s delicious exchanges with Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat were a feast for Trek fans everywhere as was his ability to portray a villain you loved to hate. Combs’ talent was also evident as one of the bright spots in the bottomless pit that was UPN’s Enterprise. His portrayal of the Andorian Captain, Shran, actually kept me tuning in long past the point of no return.

• Morn – Always seen but never heard, the ever-present patron of Quark’s Bar started as bit part but quickly became a fan favorite. Just knowing Morn was sitting at the bar week after week gave fans like myself an in-joke that only other Niners could appreciate, and for that, we loved him to death.

All of these things, and more, made Deep Space Nine one of the best dramas on television for the seven seasons it was on TV. Near the end, the show lost much of its staff to the creative leech that was Star Trek: Voyager. Paramount’s efforts to launch the now defunct UPN network meant less money, less promotion and poor time slots that ultimately forced DS9 to end its run in 1999.

Unfortunately, unlike TNG’s crew or even Voyager’s, Trek fans have never been blessed with an appearance of any DS9 character in a single Trek film or subsequent series. In 1999′s mediocre Star Trek: Insurrection, we learned that the newly returned Janeway had been promoted to Vice Admiral. In 2002′s Star Trek: Nemesis, long time TNG characters Riker and Troi were finally married. Will we ever learn the fate of Captain Sisko or discover what became of Odo, the Great Link and the Dominion? What of Rom’s efforts to bring change to the Ferengi Alliance as Grand Nagus?

In death, as in life, Deep Space Nine remains the black sheep of the Trek family. Someday perhaps Niners will be lucky enough to have Paramount revisit the fates of Captiain Sisko, Colonel Kira, Quark and the rest. In the meantime Deep Space Nine will continue to be this fan’s very favorite Star Trek series and perhaps one of my favorite shows of all time. Thank the Prophets for DVDs.

You’ve Got Red On You

We had been taken such a long break from recording our weekly podcast, that when Jen, Dave, Krystyn and myself finally got together last week to record the latest episode of The Sci-Fi Cast, I had forgotten just how much fun it was. That’s right folks, we’re back at it and have served up a special Halloween episode just in time for Samhain. Episode 13 is now live at a newly improved website and ready for your listening pleasure. We run down our favorite vampire, zombie and slasher flicks and throw in the usual assortment of geeky fun that our nine listeners have come to know and love. Starting next week, we’re going to try a new recording process suggested by Dan Benjamin, one half of the voices behind The Talk Show, to see if we can ratchet up the quality level prior to the start of the new season of Battlestar Galactica. Swing on over and check out Episode 13 or subscribe in iTunes today.

TV’s Chicken & The Egg

Last week IO9 reported that rumors of the death of FOX’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were greatly exaggerated. Don’t watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles? That’s okay, neither do I. I know nothing about the show, who stars in it or even what it’s about other than it has something to do with the Terminator movies and Wil Wheaton auditioned for a small part. I know that last bit because I used to follow him on Twitter. I stopped because he never, ever responded to any of the @replies I sent him (and I sent him a few). Seems to me you could at least try and answer your fans every now and then Wil. Where was I? Oh yeah, I don’t watch the SC Chronicles.

I also I didn’t watch FOX’s much-hyped “Drive”, or the X-Files rip-off Fringe, nor the lame-ass Sci-Fi Channel remake of Flash Gordon. I’m a total science fiction fan and these shows are made for geeks like me, so why didn’t I watch these shows? The answer is simple. I didn’t want to get hooked because I knew they had about as much of a chance of surviving as a Red Shirt on a routine away mission. Ratings for Fringe are nowhere near what FOX wants, Drive lasted a grand total of 2 episodes and Flash Gordon got cancelled after one season. And although IO9 reports that T:SCC has another 13 episodes coming, somehow I don’t believe it anymore than I believe Knight Rider will survive to make its first turbo jump.

So herein lies the problem. Viewers don’t want to emotionally invest in shows they don’t think will last. But if no one tunes in, then nothing ever becomes successful enough to survive and flourish. I didn’t watch the first season of Heroes partly because I thought it was all hype. Of course the hype was deserved and season one became a mega-hit. When the DVD’s were released, I plunged in and enjoyed season 1 from start to finish. Sadly, season 2 was a waste and I’m starting to get a sinking feeling about season 3 as well.

Given the fact that science fiction shows usually have life spans of Tribbles instead of Trills, how do you as the viewer, decide which series get your attention? I never watched Firefly when it aired, but fans often tell me that it was one of the best sci-fi shows on television. Despite the piss-poor treatment FOX gave it at the time, they say it was well worth the abrupt cancellation to enjoy the few episodes that aired. I find this very difficult to believe.

Often, the fatal flaw for these series are networks that disintegrate them before they have a chance to develop and grow their core audience. What TV shows have you passed on for fear of having the remote snatched away? There’s no guarantee, for example, that the historic ratings success of Battlestar Galactica will translate to the new spin-off series Caprica. But if I know the Sci-Fi Channel, viewers may not even get a chance to set a season pass for Caprica before it’s blasted out the nearest airlock. A note to trigger-happy network executives: if shows like Sarah Connor or Caprica are to earn a place on my TiVo, you have to learn to say “I’ll be back”, and not “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Battlestars, Betrayals & Boobs

Well, the final episode of Battlestar Galactica aired this past week on the Sci-Fi Channel and to mark the occasion, Krystyn, Dave, Jen and I have once again clunked geeky heads to bring you an all new episode of Sci-Fi Cast. This week the podcast covers all manner of topics including our favorite comic book movies, appropriate synonyms for “extravaganza” and awkward theatre experiences with your parents. If you’re caught up through episode 10 of BSG, then head on over to Sci-Fi Cast and subscribe today. Even if you’ve never heard of us before today, this would be a good time to check Sci-Fi Cast out. It’s going to be a loooong 9 months.

Frack or Should We Say, Frell?

That’s right folks, I’m here to tell you that episode 009 of Sci-Fi Cast is now online and ready for your auditory digestion. We’re back to Battlestar Galactica with the review of this past week’s episode Sine Qua Non, so if you’re not caught up, you’ll want to hold off. Our conversation, as usual, is pretty spoiler heavy, so don’t say we didn’t warn you! Without saying too much, I can reveal that this time around we have all four of your geeky friends on the podcast and we delve into such important subjects as pets in space, what Sol does when the cameras are turned off and Krystyn’s latest (and most believable) theory on who the final cylon will turn out to be. As we approach the mid-season break, this is one installment you won’t want to miss. Be sure to head on over and check out The Sci-Fi Cast, your drive to work will never be the same again!

Ridley Scott Breeds New “Strain”

I’m pleased to report one of my favorite science fiction films of all time is the latest flick to get the Hollywood make-over treatment. Airing over two nights, beginning tonight at 9pm est on the A&E network, The Andromeda Strain, tells the tale of a particularly nasty alien microbe that threatens to wipe out all life on earth. Director Ridley Scott’s new version of the classic 1971 picture promises to be full of action, suspense and smart science and features a solid cast including Benjamin Bratt, Viola Davis & Andre Braugher.

Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, the original version of Andromeda gave audiences of the 70′s a realistic look at what just might happen if an alien microorganism fell to earth. The movie’s deliberate pacing, cold electronic soundtrack by Gil Mellé and use of multiple simultaneous shots (spoofed in Austin Powers and made famous today by FOX’s 24) builds suspense and impending dread even when viewed today. If the original Andromeda Strain had a weak point, it was surely the rushed ending which bottled things up neatly, without deliberate action from Wild Fire’s team of sequestered scientists. Somehow I doubt Scott will let his version go out with a whimper, and if he plays his cards right, this new version just might be a classic for the ages. High hopes to be sure, but coming from the director of Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner and Alien, I would expect nothing less. Should be a fun couple of nights, check it out.

UPDATE: After having watched both parts of the new version, I can see my hopes were sorely misplaced. Ridley Scott should stick to directing real films instead of producing made for TV movies cause this version couldn’t hold a candle to the original. The plot gets wrapped up in the meaningless exploits of an addict reporter whose actions ultimately don’t amount to squat. The effects were second rate and all of the great scientific detective work at Wild Fire felt rushed. Save yourself four hours of your life and don’t bother to tune in to the repeats OR purchase the DVD. Go buy the original 1971 version instead. At least Andromeda is actually creepy in that version.

List Our Pet Peeves, We Will!

I’m pleased to report that episode 008 of Sci-Fi Cast is now online and is truly one for the ages. Dave Caolo and I participate in the geek version of Fesivus and “air our grievances” with the Star Wars prequel films. We cover a wide range of important nerd-esqe topics such as GCI sets, the less than deadly Nuisance Battle Droids, poor casting decisions and how a high school biology lesson managed to suck the life out of the Star Wars universe. This one’s our longest episode yet, clocking in at 47 minutes, so if you’re looking for the Cliff Notes version of this episode, simply skip forward to the 39′ minute mark to avoid all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. If you love Star Wars however, tune in for the whole cast, I think Dave and I do a fairly good job of putting into words what was so frustrating about ep I-III. Don’t forget to post your own prequel pet peeves (or favorite bits) in the comments over at theSciFiCast.com! Next week we return you to our regularly scheduled program of BSG. See you then!

Sci-Fi Cast Gets New Digs

What started out as a fun idea born on Twitter has evolved into a full-fledged gig. How do I know this? The answer is easy young Padawan! Dave Caolo has been working overtime to get Sci-Fi Cast, our informal chat of all things science fiction, a new home and now it’s ready. Point your browser to www.thescificast.com and you’ll be on your way to a geek love-in not seen in these parts since the Pasadena Star Trek convention of aught ’05.

To mark the occasion, this week I had the humbling honor to edit episode 007. I always knew editing a podcast was important, but after listening to the three of us ramble for an hour and a half, and somehow getting that down to just 20 minutes, I have a new found respect for those who choose to separate the wheat from the chaff and take the editing plunge. I hope you enjoy the result as we talk about Battlestar Galactica’s seventh episode of season 4 – Guess What’s Coming to Dinner? You can head on over and bookmark thescificast.com or download episode 007 right from here:

Download or listen to Sci-Fi Cast Episode 7 (19 min) here.

Currently, the ability to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes is broken while we wait for Apple to resolve the new site’s URL. Just hang in there, it should be available soon. Since there is no BSG this week, episode 008 will be a very special “What we hate about the Star Wars prequels” episode. If Jake Lloyd, midi-clorians and Jar Jar Binks keep you up at night, this will be the episode for you!