SciFi Diner Podcast Ep. 122
Our Interview with Steve H. Wilson
(Author of the Arbiter Chronicles, Producer of
Prometheus Radio Theatre, and Con Man)
The SciFi Diner Podcast
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Welcome to the Diner.
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Music at the end of this week’s episode is Ghost Rider in the Sky.
* SciFi Five in Five: Memorable Dr. McKoy Quotes
It was indeed the best of times and the worst of times, and much of it showed up on our TVs. From thrilling storylines to characters we can’t wait to forget, there was a lot to chew on this year. So we’ve put together a list of the best, the worst and all things in between, along with some thoughts and a few quotes from other sources.
Here’s our Best and Worst List of all things sci-fi, fantasy, reality and spy-fi:
Best New Show Of The Year:
Game of Thrones, HBO
Sure, it took its time to tell the story, but it ended up being great TV. According to Yahoo TV: “Included in every critic’s Best Of list, HBO’s epic drama Game of Thrones has done what no other fantasy show has done before: deliver on mass appeal. Intricate plotlines, dazzling production values, and impressive performances all add up to one of the year’s finest, most brilliant television series and a totally satisfying one at that. We look forward to the return of Game of Thrones in April 2012 as the fight for the Iron Throne continues.”
Best Returning Show We Still Love The Most:
The ever-fascinating Fringe continues to reinvent itself and be the best thing on TV. We’ll also give it the award for “Best Manipulation of the Space/Time Continuum.” It made the number three spot on EW in Ken Tucker’s Top 10 Shows of 2011: “Fans fearful that following Olivia, Walter, and the elusive Peter into a third timeline might result in a trip down an unsatisfying narrative rabbit hole need not have worried. Fringe remains fearless — in a time when cutting-edge television is supposed to be dark, edgy, or pessimistic — about asserting the notion that life is a never-ending wonder capable of healing souls and bringing people together in inexplicable ways. Fringe works in the speculative-fiction sci-fi genre to deal with themes of unity and duality, the spirit and the soul, love, and the agony of love’s absence.”
Best Horror Show That Is Truly Scary:
The Walking Dead, AMC
The Event, NBC
Interesting characters, but there was just too much going on. And then there was the…
Worst Decision By a Network:
TIE: NBC for The Event and ABC for V
While the decision in both cases was actually made in 2010, we’re going to slam both NBC and ABC (which should have known better after FlashForward) for ruining any momentum either show had by taking them off the air for several months.
Most satisfying series finale:
Smallville, The CW
Oh, Clark, we’ll miss you, buddy!
Most Inconsistent Series:
Terra Nova, Fox
We love Stephen Lang’s Taylor, but those kids! And there was so much that just didn’t work. As Ryan McGee from HitFix wrote after the season finale: “Everything appeared to change tonight, but almost nothing did… I’ll say this for the last time: that’s a shame, because underneath all the dino-trappings are the makings of a smart sci-fi show here. But Terra Nova never wanted to be smart. It’s unclear what it ever actually intended to be. As such, something that was designed for everyone ended up working for almost no one.”
The Cape, NBC
Except for Summer Glau’s Orwell and the hero’s magical cape, there wasn’t much to love in this superhero series. As TV Guide’s Matt Roush wrote: “It’s devoid of new ideas. This isn’t a catastrophe, mind you. It’s not Knight Rider-Bionic Woman awful. It’s merely forgettable. Which is just sad.”
Character We Were Most Happy Got Eaten By an Alien:
Tyler Evans from V, ABC
And we would have loved to see how his FBI/resistance fighter mom, Erica, would have handled her son’s death. If ABC had renewed V. Which it should have.
Character We Wish Would Get Eaten By a Dinosaur:
Josh Shannon from Terra Nova, Fox
Many of the characters were underdeveloped and forgettable. Josh was just annoying.
Best Snarky Character:
Faye from The Secret Circle, The CW – should be Tesla
Best Superhero Show:
Worst Superhero Show:
No Ordinary Family, ABC
Rick from The Walking Dead, AMC
Is there any other hero you’d rather have your back if there was a zombie apocalypse?
Best Character From a Canceled Show:
Laura Innes’ Sophia from The Event, NBC
Show We’re Most Grateful Still Is On The Air:
Doctor Who, BBC America
Matt Smith is a delight as the latest Doctor Who, and we love his companions, too, Amy and Rory.
Most Shocking Death:
Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, HBO
Cast of Characters We’d Most Like to Know For Real:
The gang at Warehouse 13, Syfy
Assuming we weren’t being attacked by an artifact, that is.
Bloodiest Series Finale:
The most inconsistent TV show on the air (at least until Terra Nova took over that title this fall) finally got its act together and killed off the characters who didn’t work and some who did. Tyler got eaten during sex with his fake girlfriend, Morris Chestnut’s Ryan bought it via his hybrid daughter snapping his neck with her tail, and more tail action took out Anna’s mother, Diana, when she attempted to lead their people to a more enlightened path. It was a fantastic finale that finally embraced the show’s potential.
Shane from The Walking Dead
He sacrificed Otis so he could distract the zombies and escape, and we don’t really think it was to save young Carl.
Best Actor in Dual (and Occasionally Multiple) Roles:
Nearly everyone in Fringe, Fox
Dual universes, dual timelines, multiple Olivias and Walters and Lincolns and … oh, the list goes on. And we don’t ever think we’ll forget Olivia as Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell.
Worst Waste of an Actor:
Summer Glau in The Cape
Summer Glau’s Orwell was easily the best thing about this terrible series. Let’s hope she finds a worthy role soon.
Most Welcome Absence of a Character:
Kate from Sanctuary
There wasn’t anything really wrong with Agam Darshi’s Kate, but she just wasn’t Ashley.
Space Series We’ll Miss The Most:
Stargate Universe, Syfy
The complex characters, including the ever-fascinating Dr. Rush, made for great TV.
See “Worst Decision By A Network Ever” above.
Once Upon a Time, ABC
We have to admit we thought this idea was silly and bound to crash and burn. But apparently ABC knew better, and we’re thrilled with the Lost-type storytelling. According to Alex Strachan of Postmedia News: “The year’s most pleasant surprise, at least in my home. A costume drama about a cast of fairy-tale characters trapped in the real world didn’t sound like my idea of happily ever after. My Sunday-night tastes run more to Dexter and Damages. I was won over, though, by its emotional charm, its elegance, the exquisite cast and the almost seamless way it wove its web of tales. You may not care for it. I do! I don’t know if there are any happy endings in store for Once Upon a Time. I just hope it ends well.”
Favorite Mad Scientist:
Walter Bishop from Fringe, Fox
As if there was any question on this one.
Best Setup for a Midseason Finale:
Sophia walking out of the barn as a zombie in The Walking Dead, AMC
The gang looked for her all season long, and she was right there under their noses. Unfortunately, she was a zombie.
Show That Most Needs to Improve:
Terra Nova, Fox
Show We Feel Guilty We Never Could Get Into:
Actor We’re Most Glad Is Back On The Air:
Michael Emerson on Person Of Interest, CBS
Best Bad Guy:
Pope from Falling Skies
He’s a smart, vicious alien killer who doesn’t really like the human race very much. And he makes great bread.
Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, CBS
Torchwood: Miracle Day, Starz
Any excuse to get Captain Jack and Gwen back is a good one. Except the previous season, Children of Earth was so powerful, that Miracle Day came off as weak in comparison. Here’s what HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall wrote: “The season was too far gone for the finale to do much in the way of redeeming it, but we at least could have gone out on an interesting note. Instead, there were lots of explosions, lots of yelling, and very little that held my attention or made me feel anything in the way that, say, some of the sacrifices in Children of Earth did.”
5 reasons this new Ghost Rider will be worth watching. No, really.
We were was lucky enough to fly to Romania last year to check out the set of Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance and chat with the cast and crew. Now, now. We can hear you getting your panties in a bunch about that last Ghost Rider film. We get it. We agree.
But from what we saw on the set, which included a weapons room that would make you weep with happiness, a gorgeously designed cave, motorcycles that made us consider a few years in jail for theft worth it, and Violante Placido, we think it’s going to kick some serious butt.
In the film, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is hiding out in Eastern Europe, trying to get a hold of his inner skeleton. He meets a Rom woman named Nadya (Placido) and her son Danny (Fergus Riordan), who just happens to be Devil’s (Ciaran Hinds) spawn. Daddy needs a new vessel since he’s decomposing. Ghost Rider isn’t about to let that happen.
They team up with a drunk warrior monk (Idris Elba) to save little Satan Jr. Add Johnny Whitworth as Blackout and an appearance from Christopher Lambert and you have a recipe for some flaming fun. Here are five ways this Ghost Rider film is going to be way better than the first.
It’s way darker than the first film
Taylor told us, “We like the first movie for what it is. It’s cool. It’s a Walt Disney movie,” he laughed. “Really and that’s what Nick said about it, too, which is that it’s a great take on the movie. It’s like a Walt Disney version of the Faust story and it’s lit that way, and it feels like a Disney ride and we like that. This isn’t that at all, so we wanted to just completely depart and make it a whole thing. We’re picking up this character, whatever, five or six years later, and he’s in a much different place. He’s a much different guy. He’s in Europe, it’s a different bike. The physical transformation that happens to him has progressed where he doesn’t look the same, the skull looks different, everything looks different. It’s changed and progressed. Think of it like an illness and it’s progressed and this is in the final stages of that illness. It’s gonna feel a lot different from the first movie.”
The bikes are seriously kick ass
“I was blessed with a really good motorcycle on this movie,” says Cage. [The Yamaha VMAX. Idris Elba’s character rides a 2010 Ural Solo.] “Without sounding like a Yamaha commercial, but that bike is totally in tune with what you want it to do. Maybe it’s because the company makes musical instruments, but it’s like this artistic relationship man and motorcycle and it’s a hell of a lot easier to get that bike to do what I want it to do while filming. On the other movie I had a raked front-end chopper. When you got 400 people watching you making a movie, it doesn’t go where you want it to go. It’s a lot of pressure. This bike performed effortlessly. I’m completely convinced that these are the best bikes in the world.”
It’s classic Nicolas Cage, which means it’s trippy
Taylor talked about some of the crazy scenes. “Well this exorcism scene is going to be excellent. We shot half of it this morning and we shoot half of it at the end, but we’re really welcoming … you know there’s like two different versions of Nicolas Cage. There’s sort of mainstream Cage and there’s balls-to-the-wall Cage, and we’re definitely welcoming the demon. The performance we’re getting from Cage, it’s going to be one of those epic Nic Cage performances that people talk about.” Cage pooh poohed the idea of playing a normal guy when we spoke to him. And really, who wants to see that?
There’s a drunk, motorcycle-riding warrior monk
Elba, who we spoke to after checking out the wine room in his cave and his character’s giant uzi (He said, “Yeah baby, my uzi weighs a ton.”) told us, “Moreau is supposed to be a very religious man. A monk, in fact. But he’s got his vices. He’s traveled the world. I’m not sure if his faith is as strong as it should be, but in any case he’s a righteous man. His journey in this film is to seek out Danny, and to protect Danny for the day of prophecy. And basically he goes about that by any means necessary. He meets up with Johnny Blaze and Johnny Blaze thinks, ‘Who is this guy? This crazy guy?’ ‘Cuz you know I like a drink and I’m on the bikes and I’m prepared to go for it. It’s actually one of my favorite characters to play; I get to be a little bit more comical than usual and that’s fun.”
Nic Cage puts the hurt on the Devil—and the Devil is played by Ciaran Hinds
Hinds, who was about to go do a wire work scene that he told us scared the crap out of him described his scenes with Nic. “It’s very funny, because the scenes with Nic, basically, I just see something coming and have the lights punched out of me. That’s scene one. Then I come to, and have a couple of words with him, and then I go on the run. And then the next time I meet him, he just picks me up and throws me way up into the sky, and then lashes me back down into the inferno that’s called Hell. That’s my work with Nic. I don’t think he tolerates devils,” he laughed. “I don’t think he likes to objectify them, talk to them, rationalize them, I think he’s on a mission to get the hell out of here. But…he is one of the most unique actors in the world. Absolutely unique. His style, his rage, his commitment, his passion, his imagination.”
Are you guys excited to see Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance?
It has been several years since making a deal with the Devil and Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), living in self-imposed isolation, finds himself as the only person who can help save 10-year-old Danny – and ultimately the world – thanks to his unwanted and uncontrollable power – his ability to transform into the hell-on-wheels monster known as The Ghost Rider.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance starring Nicolas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba and Johnny Whitworth is slated to hit theaters on February 17th, 2012.
This Week in Star Trek:
Sci-Fi Christian Log, stardate 1201.05 (that’s January 5, 2012 in old-school Trek fandom speak, for the uninitated): Two pieces of casting news from director J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek sequel see science fiction and fantasy worlds colliding!
Yesterday, Variety announced that British actor Noel Clarke, best known to genre fans as Mickey (not to mention Ricky) Smith, a recurring character in Russell T. Davies’ four series of Doctor Who, will play “a family man with a wife and young daughter” in the film. Given both the sparseness of that information and the fact that Abrams’ take on the 23rd century isn’t set in the “prime” Star Trek timeline, Clarke could be playing just about anyone. Still, do any Trek fans have informed speculations? I hope Clarke’s role will be substantial. His work on Who proved him an actor capable of great range and powerful emotion, and Abrams would be well advised not to squander him in a bit part.
Variety provided slightly more detail in today’s announcement that Benedict Cumberbatch– another thespian from across the pond, currently winning popular and critical acclaim in the BBC’s Sherlock–will be portraying a villain in the piece. No word on whether he is the only or main bad guy the Enterprise and her crew will face, or how his casting may relate to the long-rumored but oft-denied involvement of Khan Noonien Singh in the plot. Personally, I’d like to see Cumberbatch create an entirely new character. In one respect, casting Cumberbatch is elementary (sorry): he is, after all, providing the villainous voice (and, it seems, some menacing motions, as well) of the great dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.
The cast already includes Peter “Robocop” Weller and Alice Eve (yet another Brit, who will appear in Men in Black III) as well as, of course, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and the rest of the first film’s engaging ensemble. If we’re also given a strong story (with perhaps a little more philosophical meat on its bones this time around) and outstanding special effects (with perhaps a little less lens flare), “Star Trek 2,” currently slated for a 2013 release, should be nothing short of stellar.
Sci Fi 5 at 5