SF/Fantasy July Hodgepodge

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Mary and the Magic Flower

I went to see Mary and the Magic Flower which is put out by Studio Ponoc, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi formerly of Ghibli. Studio Ghibli is world famous, and if it’s not on your radar it should be.

Spirited Away is probably one of the most famous Ghibli movies internationally and one of my favorites. It’s visually stunning, but I what I really like are the interesting characters and unique creature designs, providing something truly different. Another good one, especially for small children is My Neighbor Totoro. It revolves around two sisters and their father who move out into the country when their mother is ill and hospitalized. It’s a rather bleak premise, but those themes are handled well and they meet a creature known as the Totoro. Check it out.

So, anyway, Mary and the Magic Flower is based on the book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. Mary is a young girl who goes to stay with her grandmother. She meets a mysterious young man and his pet cats and stumbles upon a magic flower. Without giving too much away, the flower does give her magic abilities-with limits-and she discovers a magic school. Fear not, it doesn’t fall into the magic school trope and I won’t tell you the ending. It does not go in the direction you think it will, it’s actually all kind of weird, and that was too its benefit.

I felt it was a decent film. It didn’t blow me away, but it was entertaining family fare. It started a bit slow; younger viewers got fidgety in the first half hour, but it picks up speed. It definitely has the Ghibli influence and the animation is BEAUTIFUL. The problem is it is a bit too much like Ghibli so I found myself feeling like just watching Spirited Away or Princess Momonoke again. I felt like the new studio is going to have to work harder to really distinguish itself as different from Ghibli.

****In other news, apparently its the 30th anniversary of Star Cops. I did a post about Star Cops some time ago. A Chris Boucher project that focuses on a police unit (or starting one) set on the International Space Station. It didn’t last long or catch on with the audience, unfortunately, but it now somewhat of a cult classic. The expensive DVD set is available as well as a book by Boucher which covers the first few episodes as he conceived them.

A very good podcast Time Vault-The Podcast of British Cult Classics (https://thetimevault.wordpress.com/) covers it all very well.

****And speaking of crime in space, I recently read SIX WAKES by Mur Lafferty. A group of clones in space wake up to discover themselves murdered. Who? Why? Read it. I really enjoyed it. Amazon.

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****And Andy Weir, author of The Martian has a new book out in November, ARTEMIS, which is apparently about crime on Mars. Space crime is everywhere.

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SF Obscure: TekWar

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Tek War is based on William Shatner’s TekWar books, ghostwritten by Ron Goulart. There are about nine books in the series. The show started as a series of two-hour TV movies and then a proper second season, from what I can figure out. Open to corrections.

It’s set in the year 2045. A cop, Jake Cardigan, is framed for drug dealing; he’s put in cryo sleep, and then released some years later. Jake goes to work for the private sector for a security firm called Cosmos run by Walter Bascom, ie. William Shatner who, well, is William Shatner no matter what you put him in. Anyhow, apparently the company had Jake released early- he plans to clear his name, reunite with his family, etc. etc. that kind of thing. There is all sort of futuristic crime stuff going on mainly involving sexy holograms and weird new drugs. There’s Jake’s cop buddy Sid, and an android woman.

I pride myself in trying to watch any SF series, regardless of quality, to find the fun point or the gem. I tried my best with TekWar but I could not make it through an entire episode. I tended to give up about 20 minutes in. For many reasons. Silly plots, bad acting, awkward dialogue. I can forgive the budget effects and music; but it just didn’t seem to offer anything new I hadn’t seen before on many B grade shows and movies.

I know there are people who love TekWar and it lasted two seasons, albeit in a much more forgiving television landscape. I don’t want to criticize it too much, but I just couldn’t quite get interested.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

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I want to wish everyone out there a happy holiday season. I want to thank you for reading the blog and for all the great comments. I hope you get to spend some time with family and friends, that you all stay safe and well, and that you have a little cheer. As for me, I’ll probably watch some SF and read some books in addition to the usually holiday joys.

Merry Christmas!

SF Obscure: The wishlist Roundup

A repost from Smart Girls of my must see shortlist.

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Since it’s summer once again, it’s time  to I hunt down the really obscure classics or try to sample B/C list  shows and see how many episodes I can survive. This time around I decided to make a list of those shows which I have not seen, but added to my wishlist. Most are only on limited DVD runs.  Based on cloudy memories jarred by  the vast world of YouTube, I  tracked down a stray episodes, or a set of clips, or an old commercial to remind me of their existence. Here are a select few.

afficheMercy Point
This 1998-1999 show stars Joe Morton as Dr. Maxwell one of a crew of medical personnel on a hospital space station in the 23rd century. The stations treats the medical needs of humans and aliens. And there is also an android nurse. The show only lasted eight episodes, but apparently there was…

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SF Obscure: Galactica 1980

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Hi out there Smart Girls Readers!  I was thinking about Battlestar Galactica and the fact that fans are often split between lovers of the original and lovers of the newer version.  For those not familiar with the Battlestar Galactica universe, it concerns the remains of a human population in a fleet under the flagship Galactica fighting for survival against the Cylons. Adama, Boomer, Baltar, Starbuck, Apollo…the names are familiar even as the ethnic backgrounds and genders change. And which model Cylons you like is a matter of preference.

There is one other version that gets overlooked and willfully forgotten- Battlestar Galactica 1980. It ran for  ten episodes.  In this version, the Galactica Fleet has arrived at Earth but  Earth is not technologically advanced enough to take on the Cylons.  Galactica heroes Captain Troy and Lt. Dillon are sent to Earth to assess the situation.  This involves time travel to Nazi…

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SF Obscure: Eerie, Indiana & Pushing Daisies

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This week I discuss shows that stand out for quirkiness. Not always paranormal; sometimes SF. A bit of comedy, a bit of drama, even a dash of terror. There is no clear category for quirky shows (and maybe that’s why they don’t last long) but the short time they run they manage to make an impression.
250px-Eerie_Indiana_DVDEerie, Indiana

This was a short lived 19 episode series that originally ran on NBC 1991-1992 and later in syndication on Fox and the Disney channel. ( as far as I’ve been able to find out)

Eerie, Indiana is primarily the story of Marshall Teller who moves from New Jersey to Eerie, Indiana when his father gets a job with Things, Incorporated, a product testing company. He teams up with a kid named Simon and they both agree that Eerie, Indiana is an extremely odd town despite its normal appearance. Among many adventures, there…

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SF Obscure: Charlie Jade & Re:Genesis

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screenshot-charlie-jade-s01e01-the-big-bang-avi-1Charlie Jade

Charlie Jade ran in 2004/2005 for twenty episodes. (It was broadcast in Canada, Europe, and Asia in 2005, but not broadcast in the US until 2008.)  It is set mainly in Cape Town, South Africa and was a joint Canadian and South African production. Charlie Jade, the title character, is a detective from a dystopian parallel universe (Alphaverse) who come to our universe (Betaverse). In his universe, the world is dominated by a gigantic multinational firm called Vexcor which can use technology to travel to parallel universes and is draining natural resources from those universes to sustain its own. An explosion breaks the link used to travel between universes and Charlie Jade is one among others stuck in the universes.

There is also a Gammaverse, which is rich in natural resources, and have an organized group determined to stop Vexor from exploiting their world. A man known as…

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SF Obscure: THE EVENT

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the_event_tv_show_slice_01THE EVENT was a short run one season show of 22 episodes from 2010-2011. It was a combination of political thriller, action, SF-similar to the vein of the V series. It focusedson a group of aliens whose ship crashed in Alaska at the end of World War II. They look mostly human, though they age much slower, which is why in present day every looks pretty much in their 20’s and 30’s. Most are held hostage; though a few escape and blend into the local population. President Martinez (Blair Underwood) plans to disclose the existence of the aliens to the world and let them live among us but their is a assignation attempt, political machinations, a split among the aliens etc. etc. Main characters include Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) a CIA operative and secret alien; Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes) the leader of the aliens in Alaska; and a romantic…

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SF Obscure: The Dresden Files

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250px-The_Dresden_Files_2007_IntertitleThe Dresden Files was a short run TV series based on the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. It ran for one season of twelve episodes in 2007. It follows the adventures of Harry Dresden, a Chicago wizard. Harry’s father was a stage musician and his mother a powerful witch. He was raised by his uncle, Justin Morningway, who used black magic and turn Harry had to use it against him. Harry uses his skills to help the police investigate unusual crimes. He is generally assisted by a police officer name Lt. Murphy who he might have thing for and ‘Bob’ and old spirit encased in a skull-later given a body-who consults magical lore.

Most of the shows involve the use of dark magic, people in trouble, and Harry’s attempts to help them. There are other supernatural characters introduced-vampires and other wizards of a high Council. They are generally episodic…

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SF OBSCURE: M.A.N.T.I.S.

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230px-MANTIS_(intertitle)M.A.N.T.I.S. was a short lived television series from 1994-1995 for one season. It was a super hero show featuring an African American superhero which was/is fairly rare on American television. It follows the story of Dr. Miles Hawkins (Carl Lumbly) a famous scientist paralyzed after a shooting. He is a somewhat bitter character; although part of it is  faked to deflect attention from himself so his dual personality as M.A.N.T.I.S.  is not discovered.

M.A.N.T.I.S. stands for Mechanically Augmented Neuro Transmitter Interception System. In the pilot movie, the M.A. N.T. I.S. seems to focus mainly on the helmet as the center of control and the rest of the suit gives him mobility. It is covered in a long trench coat. Once the series proper begins, the M.A.N.T.I.S costume in a black bodysuit with the M.A.N.T.I.S  system of the outside. This is one of many, many drastic changes from the pilot to…

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