April 2, 2012 • 10:00 am 0
Once again, following Hugh Tracy’s 1st Law, if you have to ask… you don’t know.
March 26, 2012 • 11:12 pm 0
ITV Studios America and HDFILMS have announced plans to relaunch Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s 1970s TV series, Space:1999 — as Space: 2099. (A show called Space:1999 now would have to be about some routine shuttle mission, rather than about a moon base.)
The original series starred Martin Landau as Walter Koenig, Commander of Moonbase Alpha, and Barbara Bain as the base’s chief medical officer. The moon is blasted out of orbit by cataclysmic explosions at nuclear waste storage depots and the base’s surviving personal must each week cope with new dangers which their wondering home encounters.
The premise was far-fetched, to say the least, but it provided a platform for an often compelling science fiction series that was marked by, at least in the early episodes, a greater realism than Star Trek had provided – interstellar flying moon notwithstanding – and a look that seemed both futuristic and plausible, more indebted to 2001: A Space Odyssey than any other science fiction film or TV series.
It didn’t fare well in the ratings or with critics, though, and in the second season an attractive shape-shifting alien was introduce to liven things up. Unfortunately, she played to the show’s weaknesses more than its strengths, making it seem even less plausible and adding cheesy special effects on top of it.
But I was a huge fan of the first season, and have watched some of those episodes with pleasure in recent years, so I’m pleased and hopeful about this reboot. What they are going to do about the whole “moon blasted out of orbit” aspect, I have no idea. Recent discoveries of wandering planets throughout our galaxy might seem to lend some plausibility to the idea, but it’s difficult to imagine any realistic mechanism that would set the moon adrift — at interstellar speeds no less — but not destroy it (not to mention all life on Earth as well).
Further details on the reboot can be found on io9: Why Space: 2099 Won’t Be a “Dark and Gritty” Reboot of Space: 1999.
- IMDb – Space 2099 (TV Series 2013–)
- Space: 1999 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Space: 1999 (TV Series 1975–1977) – IMDb
- Space: 1999 (30th Anniversary Edition Megaset) – Amazon.com
- Space 1999 Alpha Moonbase Model Kit – Amazon.com
- Space1999.org – Homage to the “Space: 1999″ science fiction series
- Space: 1999 Net – a collection of fan-produced sites
- The galaxy may swarm with billions of wandering planets | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
February 15, 2012 • 3:41 pm 0
Moss is the Boss
September 7, 2011 • 6:41 pm 0
A couple of favorites roll around again—which maybe shows that TCM’s programmers share my tastes, or perhaps just that their vaults are not as deep as they sometimes seem. On Thursday, 8 Sep at 3:30am TCM is showing the great Ealing Studios classic The Ladykillers (1955) starring Alec Guinness—and once again they’ve mislabeled this great black comedy as a “crime” picture. Then The Mouse That Roared (1959), with Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg, screens at 7am.
On Friday (at 5am), you can catch one of the great Spenser Tracy / Katharine Hepburn romantic comedies, Pat And Mike (1952). Hepburn is a multitalented athlete from an upper class background and Tracy is the fight promoter who takes her on as a client. At 10am, there’s a little known and seldom seen film from the great director, Nicholas Ray: Party Girl (1958), starring Cyd Charisse. At noon is a movie I’ve never heard of but am quite interested in: The Angel Wore Red (1960), directed by Nunnally Johnson and starring Dirk Bogarde and Ava Gardner as a priest and prostitute who fall in love during the Spanish Civil War. The synopsis makes it sound like sentimental rubbish, but I have a long-standing interest in the Spanish Civil War…
Michael Curtiz directed some terrific movies—including Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with Errol Flynn, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Mildred Pierce (1945), and most famously Casablanca (1942). He was nominated for the Best Director Oscar five times, twice in one year (1938), and won for Casablanca. But he made a lot of movies—173 of them in a career that started in Hungary in 1915 and ended with his last movie in 1961, only one year before his death—and some of them were bound to be less than terrific. The ones showing Friday evening are in this latter category. Yankee Doodle Dandy proved that Curtiz could do decent work in a musical, but I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951) and The Jazz Singer (1953) are at best mediocre, demonstrations that musicals require more than interesting female leads—Doris Day in the former and Peggy Lee in the latter—and competent direction to succeed. Fortunately, TCM has some other Curtiz films playing this week.
Saturday morning (Sep 10) starts with a decent, albeit minor example of Curtiz’s work: the “Philo Vance” murder mystery The Kennel Murder Case (1933), starring Mary Astor and William Powell. Interesting trivia: both these actors have a connection to one of San Francisco’s adopted sons, Dashiell Hammett. Mary Astor is best know for her work as the wide-eyed and seemingly sympathetic, but endlessly duplicitous Brigid O’Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941), based on the novel of the same name by Hammett. Similarly, William Powell is best remembered as Nick Charles in the “Thin Man” series, also based on a Hammett novel. The “Philo Vance” mysteries were immensely popular in their day, with 12 novels, 15 movies (from 1929-47), and a radio serial. These days, though, they’re largely forgotten, while other mystery series from that era are still known and watched. Powell appeared as Vance in four of the films, but it’s his work in the six “Thin Man” movies (from 1934-47) that is remembered these days. Basil Rathbone played Vance in the fourth film in the series, but it is his other series from that period, the “Sherlock Holmes” movies he did with Nigel Bruce, that is still watched today.
TCM is showing more “Philo Vance” movies on subsequent Saturday mornings, so you’ll get a chance to find out what made them popular at the time. But if Curtiz’s “Philo Vance” mystery is basically of interest to film scholars or as a curiousity, the rest of Saturday offers at least two unqualified treasures: The Caine Mutiny (1954), directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Humphrey Bogart and Van Johnson, and The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962), the classic “angry young man” film directed by Tony Richardson.
For the 9/11 anniversary, TCM pulls out all the stops. Sunday (Sep 11) is classics from start to finish—including Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in The Pride Of The Yankees (1942) at 4:45am; one of the first and greatest American musicals, 42nd Street (1933) at 7am; Woody Allen’s masterpiece Annie Hall (1977) at 1:15pm; perhaps the finest and most important of all “integrated musicals” at 3pm, On the Town (1949); Curtiz’s masterpiece Casablanca (1942) at 5pm; and one of Howard Hawks’ best, and one of the best Westerns, Red River (1948), with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, at 11pm. It’s an amazing day of film, selected in part by TCM’s guest programmers, two responders to the Twin Towers attacks.
- Ealing Studios – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Michael Curtiz – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Michael Curtiz-IMDb.com.
- Philo Vance – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- The Thin Man (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Sherlock Holmes (1939 film series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Introduction to 10th Anniversary of 9/11-TCM.
September 1, 2011 • 4:42 pm 0
Netflix stocks took a big hit from two significant changes to the company’s service today. First, their controversial new pricing structure went into effect. Customers who want both DVDs through the mail and unlimited streaming will see a 60 percent price increase. Perhaps worse was the other news of the day: premium cable channel Starz announced that it will not renew its distribution deal with Netflix, which will expire in February 2012. The cable channel supplies Neflix with both Sony and Walt Disney films so the blow is significant, though Netflix says that Starz only accounts for about 8% of its subscribers’ viewing.
The news about Starz pulling out of its deal with Netflix comes as uncertainty continues to swirl around the other online streaming film and television service, Hulu. Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment, and ABC, which is part of Disney. But early this year both Fox and Disney discussed pulling their content from Hulu and the company is up for sale. Most recently, Fox started holding back new episodes of its TV shows from Hulu—resulting in a surge of pirate downloads of those shows, but also making Hulu look even shakier.
It’s clear that even as more and more companies move “into the cloud”—with Amazon, Google and Apple all launching cloud music services, and even the Federal government committing to working in the cloud—the film and TV industry is becoming increasingly wary of streaming video services like Hulu and Netflix, seeing potential revenue streaming away under new models of viewership in which they have less control.
No doubt they are investigating new models that will give them a greater share of the revenues, just as magazines and newspapers (such as the Financial Times) are doing in relation to Apple’s iTunes pricing schemes. That may mean going it alone. In the short term, though, what it will probably mean for viewers is being stuck with the old models, and in particular with cable television.
- Netflix Price Increases Take Effect Thursday – The Hollywood Reporter.
- Starz to End Streaming Deal With Netflix – NYTimes.com.
- Hulu, Billed as Tomorrow’s TV, Looks Boxed In Today – NYTimes.com.