K-9 Fun For Dr. Who Fans New And Old

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Park Television productions

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Park Television productions

Any pure blooded fan of Dr. Who’s canine companion, K-9 (I am not a dog!)–Sorry, he had to interject, there—is back at last.  K-9: The Complete Series has been made available for audiences in a four-disc set thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory and Park Television Productions.  The twenty-six episode series ran from October 31, 2009 – November 2010 in the U.K.  And now younger audiences who may only know Dr. Who through its more recent re-incarnation on BBC and BBC America will be introduced to this classic Dr. Who character.  In turn, it could lead those same audiences to gain interest in the more classic Dr. Who series.  On the same tip, it could re-ignite the love for the classic series that fans of that series once had while also generating interest both in this spinoff and in the new Dr. Who franchise.  So while it may have only lasted a total of twenty-six episodes, K-9: The Complete Series is a valuable addition to the library of any fan of Dr. Who.

K-9: The Complete Series was originally aimed at younger audiences during its original run overseas.  And while it was aimed at younger audiences, it’s still a fun show for any fan of the seminal sci-fi series.  Fans of the original series will like this updated take on the companion to The Fourth Doctor’s (Played by actor Tom Baker) robotic companion.  Actor John Leeson reprised his role once again for this series.  And yet again, he was the right choice for the job, as he showed that he had just as much chemistry with a new generation of companions (ba-dump-bump-bump) as he did with the original doctors.  He even got the chance to be a little bit edgier than he would have had with K-9’s previous incarnation, since he is working with a group of teens in the setting of late Twenty-First century London.  That more edgy side will especially entertain younger audiences.  And it may be just as entertaining to some older audiences that are more familiar with the original K-9.  They will even be impressed with his updated look, which is explained away through the plot element in the very first episode, ‘Regeneration.’  This instance of K-9 sacrificing himself isn’t the first time that the robotic dog has done so.  Long-time Dr. Who fans will recall that it has done this before.  And just as interesting is that this is one of very few references made to the original Dr. Who series made anywhere in this specific spinoff.  The only fleeting references made to the original series (including in the bonus “Interview with K-9” feature) are a result of broadcasting and distribution rights, allegedly.  But that is not entirely an issue as this series is certain to garner enough interest in that franchise to lead to a younger generation giving that franchise new life.

While there is little to no reference in K-9 to Dr. Who, it doesn’t necessarily need a link to the aforementioned sci-fi hit as it manages to succeed on its own thanks to the show’s writing staff and those behind the show’s production and costumes.  The show—one part Torchwood, and one part Men in Black—starts out as a grouping of stand-alone episodes.  But even when it does start to become a serial, it still manages to maintain its balance of comedy for younger audiences and action for all audiences, thus keeping audiences engaged throughout every episode.  The show’s writers are to be commended for this.  Everything leads up to a number of revelations that no one would have seen coming.  For all the enjoyment that K-9: The Complete Series offers, it’s sad that it only lasted twenty-six episodes.  The final minutes of the series finale were predictable.  But that’s not a bad thing.  If anything, it will leave audiences who have made their way to those moments wish more episodes had been written, as it leaves the door wide open for even more adventures.  One can only hope that perhaps one day those episodes will happen, and when they do, they will be given more opportunity both in the U.K. and here across the pond in the United States.  Until then, audiences finally get to enjoy all twenty-six episodes offered in this collection any time that they want beginning Tuesday, May 7th.  It will be available both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216940

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Prometheus Puts A New Fire In The Sci-Fi World

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox’s new Alien prequel, Prometheus is one of the biggest and most underrated movies of the 2012 Summer blockbuster season.  What director Ridley Scott and writers Damon Lindelof and John Spaits have crafted in this movie is a story that works not only as a standalone alien based action flick, but also a movie that connects the early Alien movies to the more recent Alien vs. Predator movies.  Add in spectacular special effects and audiences have a movie that is not just one of the Summer’s top movies, but also one of the year’s best.Prometheus has largely been received to mixed reviews.  But one has to wonder if those who had their doubts about the movie had any experience with the previously mentioned movies.  Those who have any knowledge about the original franchise and the comic books will recall that the aliens were created by the predators.  Thus the movies in the AVP franchise.  Now it’s obvious that the engineers in Prometheus look nothing like the predators from the early movies.  But Scott and his team of writers do make it clear that the aliens were created by something.  So that being noted, they at least made the attempt to keep some form of continuity in the alien universe.  Fans of both franchises should be impressed by this.

While the “engineers” in Prometheus likely have no connection to the predators, it is noted that they were created.  The difference here is that in the case of this story, Scott and his writers put in a classic story of aliens intending to invade Earth.  Essentially, the “engineers” created the aliens in question to destroy humans.  So it leaves the question wide open, did the “engineers” really create humans?  Or did they only create the alien species just for the sake of taking over Earth.  Late in the movie, Elizabeth (played by Noomi Rapace) mentions to David that she still believes the “engineers” created humans.  And that she deserves to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill them.  But David’s retort was does it matter why she wants to know why they changed their minds and decided to kill the human race?  This generates the whole theological versus scientific discussion concerning where man came from.  Even in the twenty-first century, there are those who believe that man was created not by God, but by other beings from other worlds.  It’s an interesting topic.  The way in which Scott and the writers approached the topic for this story, made the movie that much more interesting.

Adding to the interest of the general story is the bonus deleted and extended scenes feature on the new Blu-ray and DVD release of Prometheus.  At one point, audiences are offered an extended version of the aforementioned discussion between Elizabeth and David.  It goes into more depth about the whole back story of the alien origins and the belief of whether or not the “engineers” really created man or if it was God.  The deleted and extended scenes feature (especially with the additional commentary) are proof positive of how much bonus features can do for a movie.  Seeing all of the noted scenes adds an extra level of depth to the overall viewing experience.  Perhaps those who criticized the movie while it was in theaters will have a different view and appreciation for Prometheus after watching it again at home along with the bonus features.

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Audiences Will Scream And “Shout!” With Joy For New R.L. Stine Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

R.L. Stine’s new series, The Haunting Hour is some very impressive work.  Ten episodes from the show’s first season are now available on two DVD volumes.  In the first volume of episodes, audiences are introduced right off the bat to the show in scary fashion with the two part episode, “Really You.”  In an equally scary episode, a young girl and her mother take a trip to an inn with some “guests” who are not at all what they seem. 

The opening episode in the new first volume of episodes from R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour could easily be compared to the classic horror franchise, Child’s Play and the equally gripping Twilight Zone episode, “The Living Doll.”  In this episode, both a mother and daughter learn a very valuable lesson about appreciating the other more when an evil life size doll of the daughter, Lily, is delivered to the family’s home one day.  The doll in question is named Lily D.  She had been ordered by the real Lily’s father.  At first all seems well, until Lily’s mother becomes infatuated with Lily D.  Lily D. apparently is alive so to speak.  And she starts framing the real Lily, making it look like she’s done a bunch of things that she really hasn’t.  No one believes Lily at first.  But then her brother starts to have his suspicions, which turn out to prove Lily right.  Luckily for Lily, her brother comes to her rescue just in time and saves the day.  While the writing in this story comes across as pretty simple, it still has some moments that are gripping enough to even scare adult viewers.  One scene in particular is especially scary.  In his suspicions about Lily D., the real Lily’s brother sets up a camera in their mother’s bedroom to see if Lily D. really is alive.  And sure enough, the camera catches Lily D get up in the middle of the night, walk out of view of the camera, and then appear right in front of it out of nowhere.  It’s something that could easily have come right from the mega hit Paranormal Activity franchise.  Stine and the show’s writers are to be commended for this moment alone.

“Really You” is a great scary introduction to The Haunting Hour for audiences who have never seen the show.  It takes the scare factor from Stine’s Goosebumps series and amps it up for a new generation.  It’s just one of the great, scary episodes collected in Volume 1.  Another episode that audiences will love is “Nightmare Inn.”  In this creepy episode, young Jillian and her mom are going to an inn that her mom had decided to buy.  There’s just one problem.  The caretaker and a young man who lives nearby aren’t exactly what they seem.  And Jillian is being warned about it through nightmares that she’s having.  Viewers should keep in mind her nightmares as those nightmares will keep audiences guessing right up to the end.  They’ll keep viewers wondering and talking even after this episode ends. 

“Nightmare Inn” and “Really You” are two very great, scary episodes from The Haunting Hour.  There are two more episodes that audiences will enjoy in “The Dead Body” and “A Creature Was Stirring.”  Audiences can view them and scare themselves with them now as Volume I is now available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

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The Fabric Of The Cosmos A Wild Ride Through Space, Time, More

Courtesy: PBS

“The Fabric of the Cosmos” is one of the most mind blowing and brain twisting episodes of PBS’ NOVA to be broadcast in recent memory.  This four-part special takes viewers into the world of what was thought to be only science fiction for ages.  It proves that maybe, just maybe the science fiction that people have seen on television for decades may not entirely fiction after all.  On the other hand, viewers may also be surprised to discover that some of that science fiction may actually still be just that today.  And thanks to author and host Brian Greene, even the most causal science fan will catch on to at least some of the concepts throughout the four-hour course of this program.

“The Fabric of the Cosmos” opens with the segment, “Quantum Leap.”  This segment is a perfect start for any college level physics class.  It takes audiences through a history of quantum mechanics.  Along the way, many of the theories and standards of quantum mechanics are explained to viewers.  It eventually leads up to a discussion on the possibility of human teleportation.  Now anyone who has seen Star Trek knows of the concept of human teleportation.  But according to quantum mechanics, while it is theoretically possible, it isn’t realistically possible.  That’s because in the process of teleportation, the original person being teleported would actually be destroyed in order to make a copy of that person in another location.  Now imagine doing that multiple times over.  It gets very deep.  This is one of those cases in which audiences might be at least a little surprised to discover that some science fiction is still just that.

Courtesy: PBS

The second hour of “The Fabric of the Cosmos” takes viewers into the equally oft discussed concept of whether or nor our universe is the only one.  In trying to figure out if our universe is the only one, “Universe or Multiverse?” scientists interviewed for the program enter into discussions on string theory and dark energy.  The discussions of these two concepts—and one other—point to the very strong possibility that we may not be alone.  There may, in fact, be other universes out there.  This is all theoretical, of course.  But there seems to be enough evidence to point to the possibility of the multiverse being real.

In the third hour of “The Fabric of the Cosmos”, Greene asks, “What is space?”  This is another segment that students studying physics will really enjoy.  This segment delves greatly into the theories of Albert Einstein.  Greene explains that gravity is space time itself.  He explains it with a demonstration.  He asks how it is that Earth’s moon stays in a constant orbit as if it were held by some invisible rope.  So he uses the demonstration of pool balls on a pool table.  He then proceeds to place a bowling ball on the table.  The theory created here is that something of greater mass causes a “dip” in the fabric of whatever it is sitting on or in.  The theory is that earth actually “bends” space, thus pulling the moon into that dip, and causing it to rotate—or orbit–around the edge of that “bend.”  Pretty wild stuff, right?

The mind bending only continues from here.  From the discussion asking, “What is Space?” viewers are taken even deeper with a discussion on time itself.  Greene ties in the discussion of space into how time works.  Things get really wild here.  He notes through Einstein once more for his explanations of what time is, and its relativity to people and places.  This leads up to another very well known concept.  It leads to the concept of time travel itself.  Viewers learn that while Einstein’s theories prove time travel is theoretically possible, right now, there is no actual way to physically travel backward or forward in time.  It all ties in to the interconnectivity of time and space.  Again, this is some pretty deep material.  But it’s quite interesting to consider, even for the most casual of science lovers. 

Thanks to his efforts, Greene has made “The Fabric of the Cosmos” at least somewhat into layman’s terms.  He has taken the concepts about which he has written in his book and given visual examples of his topics so that even those who don’t have formal training in physics can grasp it at least at a fundamental level.  It’s one more example of what makes PBS’ NOVA the enjoyable program that it is.  So whether being used for a semester long college physics class or for the most casual viewer, “The Fabric of the Cosmos” is one more jewel for any science fiction fan or scientist out there.

“The Fabric of the Cosmos” is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online at http://www.shoppbs.org.

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