Showing posts with label galactica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label galactica. Show all posts

Monday, 18 February 2008

Knight Rider

Knight Rider was a pop culture phenomenon in the early eighties. Can Glen A. Larson reboot his original series in the way Ronald D. Moore rebooted Battlestar Galactica for a new generation?

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, takes new KITT for a drive.

Guest post by Nick Smith

I was looking forward to seeing the revamp of Knight Rider on NBC last night. I love driving my Ford Mustang, so I was quite happy with the make and model being used for the Knight Industries Three Thousand car (“KITT”). I was even willing to give Val Kilmer a go as the voice of KITT, and I thought a cameo by David Hasselhoff (from the original series) would be fun. The director had worked on Rome and Deadwood – he had to be a smart cookie.

I must confess, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled when the old Knight Rider theme began to play. But it was replaced within seconds by generic rock and from then on, the TV movie resembled a 2-hour car commercial: lots of shots of the tires, the windshield, the grille etc. No amount of fast cutting allowed for the fact that the director Steve Shill had forgotten to make the car chases exciting.

Worse, the storyline was dull, formulaic American TV stuff; the leads were bland, with no interesting lines to test their acting chops; and the dialogue was often drowned out by the rock music.

It’s a shame that executive producer Glen A. Larson couldn’t have taken a cue from a revamp of another of his shows, Battlestar Galactica, and added some more engaging, believable characters. The new Knight Rider was so vacuous that I didn’t stick around long enough for the Hasselhoff cameo, and Steve Shill should stay away from car porn in future...

Nick Smith is a filmmaker, writer and actor. He has written screenplays (The Terror Game, Cold Soldiers); dramas and documentaries for the BBC, Sky and all other major UK networks. He wrote a year's full content for "The Property Channel" on cable and contributed to "The Medical Channel" on satellite.

Other work includes novels (the bestselling Milk Treading, The Kitty Killer Cult and Undead on Arrival), stage plays (Crime School, Foodfellas), comedy sketches, articles (The Scotsman, Charleston Magazine), radio plays and comic books. He founded and ran a production company and The Film School Scotland before moving to Charleston, South Carolina where he’s currently directing feature film and teaching writing, acting and filmmaking.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Sleigh Ride

Part two of my Review of the Year.

*Album - Future Sex / Love Sounds. Justin Timberlake (aided and abetted by Timbaland) finally puts to rest any doubts as to the identity of the new King of Pop! Runners up: The Sound Of Girls Aloud: Greatest Hits (Girls Aloud) and Loose (Nelly Furtado).

*Single - Promiscuous. Nelly Furtado's stellar follow-up to Maneater needs no introduction! Runners up: Fergalicious (Fergie) and Rock Steady (All Saints).

*Movie - Adrift. An unrelenting study of fair-weather friendship set against the backdrop of the ocean. Runners up: Superman Returns and Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest.

*DVD - Dungeons & Dragons. Runners up: Doctor Who - The Complete Series 2 Box Set and Lost - The Complete Second Series.

*Television Drama - Battlestar Galactica. Last year's winner recaptures the number one spot with the coolness of a Cylon agent! Runners up: Bones and Lost.

*Television Sci-Fi - Doctor Who. No change. Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Torchwood.

*Merchandise - Doctor Who - Tardis Electronic Playset. Character Options continues to produce products worthy of everyone's favourite Time Lord! Runners up: Marvel Legends and Star Wars Transformers.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

SCI FI Signatures

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent a very cool gift (courtesy of TV Guide). 4 collector's covers signed by the stars of Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. This was part of a SCI FI Channel/TV Guide co-marketing sweepstake, which ran last Summer.

Here it is in all its professionally-framed glory.

SCI FI Signatures

This week TV Guide is offering readers iTunes download coupons. Fans of BSG should grab a copy.

Did you know that genre star Lucy Lawless plays a new Cylon threat, D'anna Biers, in Battlestar Galactica? Lucy's almost unrecognizable beyond the glare of Xena's sword and sorcery!

Sunday, 5 March 2006

What do you want to watch?

According to a report on AppleInsider Apple is on the verge of announcing the availability of NBC Universal's Battlestar Galactica on iTunes Music Store UK. BBC and Disney are sure to follow.

Deals such as this would put the world's most insanely great computer company and vertical in the compelling position of challenging the cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasters.

Battlestar Galactica

How long before iTMS dominates digital distribution?

Thursday, 12 January 2006

May The "Frak" Be With You!

Tuesday heralded the feted return of Battlestar Galactica on sky one (UK commercial television channel ultimately owned by News International). Season Two's opening episode Scattered proffers a breathless and stomach-churning dramatic pace that lends verisimilitude to the story.

This is televisions equivalent of The Empire Strikes or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Commander Adama is dying, Starbuck and Helo are trapped on Cylon-occupied Caprica and Baltar's shipwrecked on Kobol. The relentless Cylon force is in hot pursuit and engages the Galactica in an epic dogfight. A solitary Cylon centurion troop transport reaches the Galactica and its passengers disembark. To be continued...

I'd recorded the show on my Pace PVR and lamented the fact that sky has yet to add an optional audio commentary option. Come on sky, as a content author with a modicum of technological savvy, I know how easy this would be to add, especially given the increased bandwidth available in third generation hardware. For the moment I'll continue to subscribe to Ronald D. Moore's podcasts via iTunes.

Friday, 9 December 2005

My Favorite Things

Part two of my Review of the Year.

*Album - The Emancipation Of Mimi. After several years in the wilderness Mariah Carey captures R&B magic in a bottle. Runners up: Chemistry (Girls Aloud) and Come And Get It (Rachel Stevens).

*Single - Biology. Those Girls Aloud produce another pop opus. Runners up: You're Beautiful (James Blunt) and Push The Button (Sugababes).

*Movie - Batman Begins. The dark genesis of everyone's favorite psychologically damaged vigilante. Runners up: Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds.

*DVD - Lost and Doctor Who Season One Boxsets. This was too close to call! Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Desperate Housewives.

*Television Drama - Battlestar Galactica. Dangerous and dry sci-fi that avoids the simplicity of the Star Trek franchise. Runners up: Desperate Housewives and Lost.

*Television Sci-Fi - Doctor Who. A slumbering Whovian was stirred by Russell T. Davies, Billie Piper and golden Daleks. Runners up: Battlestar Galactica and Lost.

*Merchandise - 12" R/C Dalek from toy powerhouse Character Options. This year's Buzz Lightyear is the definition of 'must-have'. However, may I direct your attention to the Assault Dalek (with Claw) sold through Toys R Us! This variant is limited to 5000 units worldwide. Runners up: General Grievous Wheel Bike and Transformers Darth Vader.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Bobbing for apples

Apple's announcement of a video iPod, iTunes 6 (including obligatory QuickTime update) and Front Row Media Experience was almost too much to digest in one evening. And the closer content ties between Cupertino and the Magic Kingdom, hint at possible merger* plans! At the very least Pixar should continue to leverage Disney's considerable marketing might coupled with vertical integration. In return Disney secures lucrative brands and artistic talent.

Churlish comment alert! In its present form I can't see myself downloading video from iTunes 6. Whilst the image quality surpasses HDTV, it scales poorly (see UMD) and there's no approved way to burn videos in iDVD. Toast 7 is crippled (due to contractual reasons). So, no legal means for me (or any UK viewers for that matter) to watch the new series of Lost (USA only) or Battlestar Galactica (the best sci-fi/tech noir series since Babylon 5, which is unavailable at present). A year from now things could be very, very different! As Master Yoda would say "Patience!"

The decision to use an existing form factor - a slimmer G5 iMac - meant that Apple's media centre proposition is in stores before the holiday season and the computer company can establish a beachhead into an overcrowded market that includes TiVo and Microsoft. Personally, I would suggest that power users wait for the 'star dust' to settle and snatch the first of the Intel-powered machines next year! A portable Mac mini Front Row Media Experience is alluring in the extreme.

It is arguable that Apple is now the custodian of the Capitalist media industry and if they can't get digital distribution of television programs and movies right then no one can!

Never one to be deterred by bleeding-edge technology. I've tested QuickTime Pro's new Movie to iPod (320x240) export option. Here's hoping a 60GB video iPod (in black) is in my stocking this year!

[*A merger between Apple and Disney has been the subject of Wall Street water-cooler conversations since 1997.]

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Geometric Gaming

The GameCube has clocked up a few miles in its first week. An interesting fact for anyone who maybe mulling over a purchase and requires Digital A/V support. The following is an extract taken from Nintendo's support pages:

The Digital A/V Output port was removed from systems produced after May, 2004 (these systems will have a model number of DOL-101). If you have a Nintendo GameCube without this port, and you wish to play your games in progressive scan, you may be able to obtain a system that was made prior to the removal of the Digital A/V Output port. Please call our Consumer Service department at 1-800-255-3700 to discuss available options.

Additional Information:

Why have you removed the component video feature from the Nintendo GameCube?
On newer models of the Nintendo GameCube, we opted to remove the Digital A/V out port from the system because we found that less than one percent of all Nintendo GameCube players used this feature.

Will future Nintendo GameCube games continue to have the progressive scan feature?
About one-third of licensee-published titles and over 90% of Nintendo-published titles currently have the progressive scan feature. We expect that most Nintendo-published titles will continue to support progressive scan. Each licensee will continue to make the decision of whether or not to include this feature in their future games.

In order to reduce costs and increase profit margins it is not unusual for consumer electronics companies to simplify production. Sony made changes to the PlayStation and my model lacked S-Video connectivity. The good news is that I can confirm that the Limited Edition Resident Evil GameCube has a model number of DOL-001 and not DOL-101. Incidentally, DOL refers to the console's codename. Dolphin.

My fiendish friends at The Iconfactory, are unleashing seasonal GUI ghoulishness in time for the season of the witch. Grab those disgustingly delicious icons, dim the lights and play the Castlevania and Resident Evil franchises.

The ultimate browser-based feed reader is to be found in Google Labs. A Gmail account adds further razzle dazzle.

A glutton for punishment. I'm already preparing a DVD review of Battlestar Galactica (2004) Season 1! "It's the things I do for you..."

"One more thing..." There is much speculation regarding next weeks Apple event. I'm going to go out on a limb (as is my duty) and suggest that there maybe a new product line introduced. A PVR based on Intel?

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Whoa, that was like a... Jedi moment

The following, exhautive, review is based on the R1 release of Lost Season 1.

Disc 1 (2:48:39)
Pilot - Part 1 (42:13) 
Pilot - Part 2 (40:17)
 Tabula Rasa (43:27) 
Walkabout (42:42)

Disc 2 (2:51:38)

White Rabbit (42:30) 
House of the Rising Sun (42:44) 
The Moth (43:14)
 Confidence Man (43:10)

Disc 3 (2:51:13)
Solitary (43:08)
 Raised By Another (42:45) 
All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (42:08)
 Whatever the Case May Be (43:12)

Disc 4 (2:51:24)
Hearts and Minds (43:17) 
Special (43:15) 
Homecoming (41:36) 
Outlaws (43:16)

Disc 5 (2:52:01)

In Translation (43:02)
 Numbers (43:06)
 Deus Ex Machina (42:39) 
Do No Harm (43:14)

Disc 6 (3:34:43)

The Greater Good (43:15) 
Born to Run (43:14) 
Exodus, Part 1 (43:16) 
Exodus, Part 2 (1:24:58)


Unlike the US 4:3 broadcast (only available in widescreen for HDTV consumers), Channel 4 is airing Lost in its original 16:9 aspect ratio. The DVD retains the 1.78:1 formatting and eclipses the PAL standard definition picture with 480p (compatible television required). The transfer is so vivid that it’s easy to forget that you’re looking at a screen. The image pops and colors are luxuriant.


The perfect presentation is not exclusively limited to sight. The sounds of the island are all encompassing. My Kef 5.1 speaker setup heightened the tension to such a degree that there were times when it became almost unbearable (check John Carpenter’s The Thing or Jurassic Park for comparison). The audio mix would be worthy of Skywalker Sound's Gary Rydstrom.

Often dubbed as "bonus features," "special features" and "added value", for many DVD consumers they're a compelling reason to buy a DVD set. The Mouse House has come a long way since those first, faltering, steps with Warner Home Video. A time when "special features" were anything but, and consumers should have sued for compensation.

Commentary Tracks
Pilot Parts 1 & 2 - Executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk
Walkabout - Executive producer Jack Bender, Co-executive producer David Fury and Terry O'Quinn (Locke)
 The Moth - Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie)
 Hearts and Minds - Executive producer Carlton Cuse, supervising producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Maggie Grace (Shannon) and Ian Sommerhalder (Boone).

The Genesis of Lost (8:40)
The tale of how Lost became a TV show. This featurette includes interviews with executives from ABC, and the producers of the series.

Designing a Disaster (7:59)
How did they construct one of the most incredible series openings of all time?

Before They Were Lost (22:55)
The formation of the cast as told by JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, April Webster (casting director), Bryan Burk, and the crew. There are lots of audition tapes included in the featurette, and you can watch the entire tape in...

Audition Tapes (23:34)

Audition tapes for the cast members. Matthew Fox (3:31), Evangeline Lilly (2:53), Dominic Monaghan (1:16), Naveen Andrews (2:01), Yunjin Kim (1:10), Daniel Dae Kim (0:46), Josh Holloway (1:20), Jorge Garcia (1:57), Ian Somerhalder (1:36), Maggie Grace (1:48), Harold Perrineau (1:35), Malcolm David Kelley (1:22) and Emilie de Ravin (2:19). These are pretty interesting, especially because there are things that didn't make it into the show, or actors are auditioning for different characters.

Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot (33:20)
Self explanatory and artfully leveraging the DVD medium a la Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Art of Matthew Fox (6:07)
When watching Party Of Five, it was clear that there was an inherent sadness in Matthew’s studied performance of Charlie and one that may or may not be autobiographical. This feature arguably lends further credence to my observation! I hope his photographic endeavors touch you as deeply.

Lost @ Comicon (1:50)

The cast and producers headed to Comicon last July where they debuted the pilot. Now this looked like fun unlike Bournemouth’s Excalibur.

Lost: On Location (43:42)
A few featurettes that focus on an episode, or a single aspect with shooting it. The Trouble With Boars (5:19), House of the Rising Sun (7:19), Confidence Man (4:24), All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (4:56), Whatever the Case May Be (2:58), Hearts and Minds (6:20), Special (3:05) and Exodus (9:21).

On Set With Jimmy Kemmel (7:15)
Kimmel visits the set of Lost. This had me in stitches and the ‘monster reveal’ culminated in hyperventilation!

Backstage with Driveshaft (6:40)
Dominic Monaghan talks about "Driveshaft," and the "hit" song that they sang. The producers explain the idea behind the song, and how it was recorded.

The Lost Flashbacks (4:35)
A couple of flashbacks that weren't shown on TV, which makes them "Lost Flashbacks" and not "Lost Flashbacks." I really enjoyed the Claire flashback. At the Airport: Claire (3:07)
 At the Airport: Sayid (1:28)

Deleted Scenes (14:41)
There are 13 deleted scenes from the first season.

Bloopers from the Set (4:17)

Live from the Museum of Television & Radio (10:56)
The chemistry between the cast and crew is palpable, and it’s a genuine shame that this was only an appetizer.


If you have a PC you can read the script to the pilot episode while it plays.

Sneak Peeks (14:22)
Trailers for movies and TV shows can be found in this section. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe looks enchanting, and maybe the movie of the year for me. There are trailers for The Chronicles of Narnia (2:33), TV on DVD (1:56), Lost Season 2 - spoiler free! - (0:32), Alias Season 4 (1:19), Desperate Housewives Season 1 (0:32), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2:25), Scrubs Season 2 (1:33), Dark Water (2:33) and Jimmy Kimmel Live (0:59).

Easter Eggs (1:58)

Alternate Main Title Sequence (0:22) – Just terrible and evokes the X-Files opening titles. Want to find it? Put in disc seven, go to "Tales from the Island" and press left twice, then enter.

Locke and the Orange (1:36) - Want to find it? Select "Tales From the Island" on Disc 7, then highlight "Main Menu," press right, and then enter.

In summary
When you have the collective talents behind Alias, Buffy, Angel and Batman: The Animated Series how can you go wrong?

Theories regarding how the Sydney to LA Oceanic flight crashed are as abundant as they are diverse. Are the passengers dead and struggling to make peace with their past lives before moving on or is it The Truman Show meets Survivor? Whatever. Discuss by all means. But, as my Media Studies tutor once said – the journey is often far more interesting than the destination!

There’s a liberal sprinkling of Star Wars and Star Trek in-jokes set against a Planet of the Apes backdrop. Hurley's "Dude" manages to remain humorous and so revealing of the character - a gentle giant a la Chewbacca. And then there's Sawyer who immediately reminded me of Solo - I couldn't stop grinning at the lines including "Princess", "Sulu" and "I'm a complex guy!" And John Locke's character resonates as I'm a paraplegic due to a serious head injury in first school - a classmate was pushed into me. And, yes, I was in a wheelchair...

The inaugural season of Lost is the finest DVD presentation of a television series I’ve viewed since purchasing my first Sony DVD player in 1998. Yes, it really is that good. This is a seminal seven-disc treatment and only Battlestar Galactica (2004) can take the edge off withdrawal symptoms.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

The Right Stuff

My cousins, Hazel and Hayley, have safely returned from the USA. They were holidaying in Florida when Katrina struck. Though the State of Florida was on the periphery, Hayley video taped the storms that hit. Journalism clearly runs in the family. Welcome home.

A friend recently inquired as to whether or not I had considered audio blogging? The answer is an emphatic yes. But, there's no timetable for its introduction - I'm a perfectionist and quality matters. You never know though, the CD Spin Doctor Desktop Recorder Dashboard widget (included in Toast 7) looks mighty enticing from here!

Lost arrived this morning and the gatefold presentation is sublime. On the horizon, the DVD extras included with Battlestar Galactica (2004): Season One R1 reduces the R2 release to vanilla status! Even the box art is far cooler.

An Atarian since 1980. I'm beta testing a popular Mac OS X emulator for XL/XE that's undergone an overhaul with added Tiger polish.

Anyone else notice that iTunes Music Store wasn't updated yesterday? I'm off to get to grips with RSS Writer (documentation not included).

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

The Cell

Much has been made of the Sony, IBM and Toshiba chip collaboration. Cell. Will it facilitate a paradigm shift, thereby consigning Moore's Law to a footnote in history? Or is it merely a marketing myth unable to deliver on its initial promise - think Sony's Emotion Engine? PlayStation 3 coupled with PSP will reaffirm Sony's dominance in the handheld and home console markets to the detriment of both Nintendo and relative newcomer Microsoft. However, what about Mac OS X 10.4 running on the Cell chip? Now that's really worth getting excited about!

Further launch delays not withstanding, Amazon UK has announced that the PSP will now ship at the end of April. No details regarding package contents.

In the wake of Trek's cancellation the brilliant Battlestar Galactica has been renewed. Can't wait for the remake of The Gun on Ice Planet Zero Part I & II and, no, I'm not joking!

Sunday, 30 January 2005

Number Six

Tired of waiting for an R2 DVD release of My So-Called Life (1994), in 2002 I purchased a Toshiba SD220 Multi-region DVD Player, and cannot recommend its successor highly enough for anyone tempted to dip a toe into the expansive R1 market. MSCL was never released outside the US and, following the withdrawal of the 5-disc box set, is listed as £250 on eBay.

Yesterday, I received Battlestar Galactica (2003 mini-series). I opted for the R1 DVD release for both technical and content reasons. The disc is authored to DVD18 specification (double-sided, dual-layer, 18GB) and 480p encoding. The advantage of the increased capacity (against the R2 DVD9) is a higher bit rate for both the feature and bonus material - detail is everything.

The mini-series has far exceeded my expectations (admittedly very low). The Cylons are a complex enemy. Prior to the bombardment and subjugation of Caprica, Number Six (Tricia Helfer), cursed with duality, chillingly breaks the neck of a baby and shows tearful remorse. In a Universe devoid of meaning it is the Cylons who believe that they are God's children whilst we battle with the guilt of knowing that they are our creation. The new series sports a strong cast and haunting ethereal score. By your command...

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

Saga of a Star World

Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II was shown last night on sky one. Battlestar Galactica's S1 finale is of Buffy/24/Alias calibre. The audacious twists and turns, culminating in Adama's 'assassination' by a Boomer Cylon replica, were irresistible. The exploration of Cylon religion (ideology) provided the production with an opportunity to reprise the cinema of Stanley Kubrick and intellectual concepts penned by Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick. Whilst the biomechanical Basestar interior evoked the designs of fabled surrealist H.R. Giger.

Turning back to the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. In Europe three feature-length episodes were released theatrically (in alternate form):

*Battlestar Galactica (1978)
Abridged version of Saga of a Star World. Includes Baltar's execution, which was deemed too violent for TV audiences.

*Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (1978)
The Living Legend Part I & Part II and Fire in Space.

*Galactica III: Conquest of the Earth (1980)
Galactica Discovers Earth, The Night the Cylons Landed Part I & Part II, The Young Lords and stock footage taken from the movie Earthquake (1974).

We didn't own cable (Rediffusion television was one of the earliest providers). So, I only viewed the first theatrically and the 'sequels' on video rental (Sony Betamax). Baltar's execution (in the theatrical version) is confusing and his return is never explained. It would be nearly a decade before I had an opportunity to see the entire Battlestar Galactica series including the risible Galactica 80.

I've ordered the 2003 mini-series (R1 DVD) from Play. Compare and contrast R1, R2 and R4 releases here.

On an unrelated note. Some iDisk users are experiencing service problems following scheduled maintenance (at the weekend). I'm very happy to report that none of the purported issues have afflicted my account. Again, this only serves to underscore the importance of archiving data on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 4 January 2005

By the Lords of Kobol!

The notion of Sky's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was, initially, met with derision. Until I started watching S1 (currently airing in the UK ahead of its US debut) and was delighted to discover that the series owes more to the paranoia of the X-Files (Cylons replacing Colonials) and the Vietnam analogy Space: Above and Beyond than its namesake (not dismissing S1).

The Cylons are no longer a cyber-reptilian race (as described in the 1978 Grandreams annual), but are robotic slaves that rebelled and overthrew their human masters - now the Cylon war machine relentlessly pursues the embattled survivors across the galaxy (as in the original premise). The CGI is superlative for episodic television, and the dogfights ape the cinematography of Apocalypse Now (see also Star Wars: Attack of the Clones).

Not all is perfect in this brave new world. Human actors replacing the colourful Cylon variants of the original is too convenient and unimaginative. And the CGI Cylon Centurions are cumbersome a la the Sandtroopers in Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition and DVD release).

As I missed the mini-series* and opening episodes of S1, it remains to be seen if the Cylon Imperious Leader has transferred to the new format (albeit in a radically different guise, for example as a super computer along the lines of Skynet)!

*I may checkout the R1 DVD release and post a review in the future.