New Star Trek Beyond Trailer Gives Fans Hope

star-trek-beyond-movieAfter many long months of waiting since the first teaser trailer for the third installment of the current Star Trek reboot movies, I had started to wonder why I hadn’t seen much fanfare since. It had seemed as though the PR machine had gone silent, almost grinding to a halt. The first trailer, with the Beastie Boys soundtrack, had many fans, myself included, viewing this next installment with a skeptical eye. After that, I could hear a pin drop.

I’d gone looking for the release date for the film. Realizing it was due out this summer made me wonder why hadn’t I seen more about it? Last night, the new trailer dropped, and I could stop “waiting to exhale”. It had action and adventure, yes, but most of all, it seemed as though this trailer focussed more on the “heart” of Star Trek. As a long time fan of the original series and the adventures that followed – from Next Generation, to Deep Space 9, through to Voyager – the heart of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry’s vision, and hope for humanity, is why I kept coming back.

Let’s hope Star Trek Beyond embodies the essence of this beloved franchise.

Here’s a look at the second trailer for Star Trek Beyond, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, and the always-awesome Idris Elba – due out July 22, 2016.

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Gnomes, Trolls and Elves, Oh My: Enter the World of The Shannara Chronicles

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“This is the ideal place for all of us lunatics who love to live in the world of the imagination.”
John Rhys-Davies

John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) returns to New Zealand and the land of Elves (this time as an Elf himself) on the set of MTV’s new series, The Shannara Chronicles, based on the best-selling books written by fantasy author Terry BrooksJon Favreau (Iron Man) co-produced the series along with Smallville and Into the Badlands creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, in concert with Brooks.

Starring John Rhys-DaviesPoppy Drayton (Downton Abbey), Aaron Jakubenko (Spartacus: War of the Damned’s), Austin Butler (Carrie Diaries, Arrowand Manu Bennett (Arrow, Spartacus), the series follows the adventures of three teens on their own epic quest.

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The locations are lush and beautiful, as one has come to expect from New Zealand productions, and the sets look grand. MTV hopes to cash in on the sword and sorcery/LOTR craze with Shannara, and what little I’ve seen, looks promising.

Here’s a glimpse into the world of The Shannara Chronicles debuting Tuesday, January 5, 2016 on MTV at 10pm EST.

More Than Just the Tin Dog! K-9 Lands Solo Film!

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Modern Day K-9 from the DisneyXD series.

K-9 Returns…
You can’t keep a good dog down, and it seems, even after almost 40 years, our beloved robotic canine (get it?) appears to have more lives than a cat. K-9 is set to return again, this time in a standalone film of his own. The inner-seven-year-old inside me couldn’t help but get excited when I read earlier this week that K-9 would be back. He was part of my childhood. I first fell in love with Doctor Who during the Tom Baker era, and for me, K-9 was part of the family.

It was announced earlier this week that K-9 Creator and writer Bob Baker, along with Nick Park from the Wallace and Gromit series, is producing the film K9: TimeQuake, which is due out in theaters in 2017 and will feature our robotic hero facing off against a classic Doctor Who villain from the 3rd Doctor and 5th Doctor eras – Omega.

Omega, 2nd Doctor and 3rd Doctor

Omega staring down at the The Second and Third Doctors (Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee) in “The Three Doctors” (1973).

Omega, a legendary Time Lord himself and an intergalactic engineer, had been credited with founding early Time Lord society, along with the great and mighty Rassilon, and with harnessing the power from a supernova to give the Gallifreyans mastery over space and time. Unfortunately, Omega was trapped in an anti-matter universe and had gone mad as a result. He has come close to destroying the galaxy more than once, only to be stopped on each occasion by The Doctor. Omega has appeared in several Doctor Who stories including – The Three Doctors 10th Anniversary Special (with Stephen Thorne as Omega) (1973) , The Arc of Infinity (with Ian Collier and Peter Davison as Omega) (1983) and the Big Finish 5th Doctor audio Omega (2003), with Ian Collier reprising the role.

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K-9 Mark I (as voiced by John Leeson) and The 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) in the TARDIS.

A Girl’s Best Friend…
K-9 first appeared in the 4th Doctor adventure The Invisible Enemy (1977). He was the creation of Professor Marius, in the year 5000. K-9 joined The Doctor and then-companion Leela (played by Louise Jameson) on various adventures. With his computerized brain and laser snout, K-9 soon proved to be a valuable member of the crew.

Even after The 4th Doctor left Leela on Gallifrey with K-9 Mark I and Romana in E-Space with K-9 Mark II, we knew we hadn’t seen the last of our beloved tin dog. K-9 seemed to have as many lives as The Doctor, returning for not just one, or two, but three TV spinoffs, several specials and Big Finish Audios over the years.

K-9 Mark III was left as a gift for former companion Sarah Jane Smith from The 4th Doctor in the TV pilot K9 and Company (1981) – the first attempt at a Sarah Jane spinoff (starring Lis Sladen). K-9 resurfaced again in the The Five Doctors 20th Anniversary Special (1983), with Sarah Jane, and yet again for the David Tennant story School Reunion (2006), reuniting Sarah Jane, K-9 and The 10th Doctor.

Lightning struck twice for K-9 and Sarah and the result was the hit BBC Kids series The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011). Sadly, K-9 Mark IV was trapped in a void for most of series, as he was promised to DisneyXD (featuring modifications and design changes – I favored his original design) for a K-9 Series (2009-2010) for Australia. Each time he was voiced by the original actor John Leeson (actor David Brierly voiced him briefly in 1978).

Sarah Jane Smith (Lis Sladen) and K-9 Mark IV in the Doctor Who episode “School Reunion” (2006).

Initial Reaction to “TimeQuake”…
To be honest, I’m having trouble seeing this work on the big screen and don’t understand why they haven’t just done a theatrical release based on The Doctor (yes, they made two movies with Peter Cushing, but that was a long time ago).

I held out hope that K-9 would return to the current series of Doctor Who alongside Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. Let’s face it, Capaldi would have a blast, and K-9 would quickly endear himself to the irascible old Time Lord, as well the rest of us, as he always does.

I also held out hope that Time Lady Romana and K-9 Mark II might have survived the Time War and resurfaced during the 9th Series along with the resurrected Time Lords, or Team Sarah Jane: The Next Generation featuring her kids (now grown), might end up working for U.N.I.T. with K-9 Mark IV at their side. A gal can dream, right?

Instead, the Time Lord’s best friend will be fighting the big bad alone, facing off against one of The Doctor’s oldest enemies. Not sure how that will play out, but happy to hear K-9 is still out there, fighting the good fight.

Affirmative, Mistress…

Here’s a classic moment with K9 Mark I and Leela (Louise Jameson). 

And another, a rare clip featuring an inebriated (not sure how) K-9 Mark II with Romana Mark I (Mary Tamm) and The Doctor Mark IV. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Big Finish Doctor Who News: The Doctor and Donna Are Back!

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The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) in “The Fires of Pompeii”

That’s right! Not only are the Ood singing, Whovians everywhere are rejoicing! You read it right! David Tennant and Catherine Tate are reprising their roles as the 10th Doctor and companion Donna Noble from Doctor Who, as reported earlier today on the Big Finish website!

David, one of my favorite Doctors (after Peter Davison, who happens to be his father-in-law, but I digress, as I often do…) remains a fan of the series and an advocate to this day, and in spite of his busy filming schedule for Jessica Jones (David plays the Purple Man/Killgrave, in case you missed it), he’s returned with the brilliant actress/comedienne Catherine Tate to record a series of audios for Big Finish Audios.

Big Finish has been championing the ongoing and missing adventures of Doctor Who since before its television revival in 2005, when the Doctor returned in the form of Chris Eccleston’s 9th Doctor.

Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Adventures  are due out in May 2016 – exclusively on the Big Finish site. Each of the (3) three titles are available to pre-order separately today for just £10.99 (approximately $17 US) on CD or £8.99 (approximately $14 US) to download. A bundle of all three titles is also available for £25 (approximately $38 US) on CD and £22 (approximately $34 US – American fans, please check your currency calculator) to download.

All three will be also available as a limited edition box set – only 5,000 copies – exclusively from bigfinish.com. The book-sized box set will include exclusive artwork, photos, articles and a one-hour documentary featuring interviews with the stars and production team. A must have for the 10th Doctor/Doctor Who fan!

For more, check out this delightful video featuring an interview with the dynamic duo of time and space, David Tennant and Catherine Tate, or as the Ood refer to them, the Doctor-Donna.

Beautiful, Brainy and Bold: Part 1 – Pop Culture and The Rise of the Super Woman

Wonder Woman New York Comic Con 2015

A life size model of Wonder Woman on display at New York Comic Con 2015 for the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie. Photo credit to Peter Parrella at SkeletonPete.com.

“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” – Junot Diaz

Human beings have an unconscious need to identify with those around us, to draw cues from our environment and to connect with the faces we see. We’re inspired by the characters we grow up with in the books we read, or see in our favorite films or tv shows.

Literature and graphic novels/comics have taken the lead in creating complex, multidimensional characters (both male and female) of substance. But tv/film has a greater reach to broader audiences and mass appeal. Seeing an image can reinforce something we already know – see that same image over and over again, and how much more powerfully ingrained does it become in our subconscious? This is why it is critical to have live action, visual representations of ourselves, as not only independent and capable, but also powerful.

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The elegant, but deadly Mrs. Emma Peel as portrayed by Diana Rigg in the 1960s British spy series The Avengers (also starring Patrick Macnee).

Dreaming What Can Be
When we’re children, we believe anything and everything is possible. But girls quickly learn that’s not true, at least, not for them. Boys believe they can be Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man. When I was a little girl, I let my imagination soar with Wonder Woman, Batgirl, the Bionic Woman, Uhura, and Mrs. Peel – even Barbara Wright and Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. 
But what about girls after me? Who did they grow up with? Who were their role models? 

We need to see the world as we wish it would be. We look for people who look like us to tell us it’s OK to BE us. If we are constantly seen as background decoration, sexualized, victimized and powerless (or powerful, but only if we’re sexualized or bitchy/angry/bad girls/mean girls), then what message does that send? Women as subservient, hollow or embittered beings? To gain any ground at all, you must sacrifice your body, your honor and ethics. Because you can’t possibly be good, moral, intelligent, have healthy relationships (with men and women) or have high-powered careers and still be yourself, can you?

Girls learn to accept their fates as second class citizens and the “weaker sex” early on. They dream of a White Knight, as they languish in their tower, imprisoned by their inferiority. Their value is less about the person they are and it becomes about being an object of desire or worthy “love interest”. The message – be pretty and patient and you might get your Prince Charming in the end. I wonder how many Rapunzels died of old age waiting in that tower… but I digress…

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The beautiful Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in the classic 1960s sci-fi Series Star Trek.

Pop Culture Representations of Women
In recent years, comic book inspired films and TV shows have hit an all-time high. The Super Friends I grew up with are back in many forms. While overjoyed, I was also dismayed that Batgirl, Supergirl and especially Wonder Woman, have been largely absent from the vast landscape for many years (at least in live action form since the 1970s – not counting a failed attempt at a Wonder Woman pilot or the CW’s Birds of Prey series)… even though Wonder Woman comics have been around since the 1940s.

Many of us got tired of hearing studio exec excuses, “Superhero Girls don’t sell”. Previous superpowered females (featuring leading ladies Supergirl, Catwoman, Elektra) failed to impress, and have been cited over and over again as examples as to why it is now 2015 and we still don’t have a Wonder Woman movie (one is finally due out in 2017).

Market forces determine what we see. Really? I’m female. I have money to spend and I want to see more of my gender as powerful leading ladies. More importantly, I want my friends’ children to see it too – especially their young daughters. One friend, a schoolteacher, reported to me that most of her students did not even know what feminism or the suffragist movements were. That’s telling and disconcerting. As I’d feared, we’ve taken a step backwards in gender equality since the 1970s. Apparently, we’d come a long way and then promptly had forgotten what it meant.

Girls are discouraged from taking risks, from entering into scientific fields, or entering into law enforcement and the military. It’s not lady-like. I’d been similarly discouraged when I was younger, but I’d seen my heroes excel at math/science/martial arts/law enforcement, so I believed it was possible. At one point I wanted to be a detective, a lawyer and a forensic scientist. I didn’t become any of those things, but I toyed with them all as career options because I felt it was possible. The Bionic Woman and Mrs. Peel were secret agents for heaven’s sake! Beautiful, brainy and bold! That what’s I wanted to be too!

Whoopi Goldberg often relays a story from her youth. She was inspired by the beautiful Nichelle Nichols. Seeing a woman of color in a prominent role in the hit sci-fi series Star Trek gave her hope. She credits Nichelle’s portrayal as Uhura for inspiring her to become an actress herself, and one with with a message… diversity and gender equality matter. Representation matters. For those who don’t feel this is necessary, I would argue you are already at the top of the food chain. Congratulations. This isn’t aimed at you. It’s for others who feel they don’t matter, because they’ve been getting the wrong message.

 

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Natasha Romanoff (or Romanova), aka Black Widow, in The Avengers as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.


NYCC 2015: Diversity and Gender Equality Matter
Largely ignored when it comes to representation in media, let alone in badass, kickass roles where women are the protagonists, we want to stand up and be counted. We want inclusion. We want to be more than just the girlfriends or sidekicks, or the hot vixen of the week. And while film execs say market forces and “box office trends” determine what we see, we want to BE the power – the heroes and the leaders – a driving force in film in television. Women make up more than 50% of the population, but you wouldn’t know it based on what we see in the media. In Marvel’s Avengers, Black Widow was featured prominently, but many took issue with her role being marginalized in general, as she wasn’t given a standalone film, like her male teammates (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and The Hulk).

DC SuperHero Girls

DC SuperHero Girls by Mattel on display at New York Comic Con 2015 at the Javits Center. Photo credit to Peter Parrella at SkeletonPete.com.

From Marvel’s Jessica Jones to IAmElemental, New York Comic Con 2015 (NYCC 2015) proved one thing, women are a force to be reckoned with. Geek Girls took to the internet and the results are evident. On the NYCC floor, newly minted IAmElemental action figures and Mattel’s DC Superhero Girls were proudly on display. No longer in the shadows, they took their rightful place next to Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine (some of MY favorite male superheroes).

IAmElemental Action Figures

IAmElemental action figures were on display at New York Comic Con 2015 and at Sweet Suite15 this year. Photo credit to Peter Parrella at SkeletonPete.com.

This year, many of NYCC 2015’s panels featured themes on female empowerment, gender equality and diversity. Panels aimed at media professionals, creators and consumers included provocative and thought provoking topics on gender and diversity such as:

  • A (Wo)Man’s World: Closing the Gender Gap in Pop Culture – including speakers from the UN for Women’s “He for She” campaign.
  • Marry, Do or Kill? What Will it Take to Shatter Female Stereotypes in Comics?
  • Geeks of Color, Third Generation Edition: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
  • Secret Identities: Creating Transgender Characters in Comic Books
  • Crip Culture and the Media: Perceptions of Disability in Film and Television
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Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl on the new CBS Series Supergirl debuting tonight, Monday, October 26, 2015.

Kara from Krypton Lives
Tonight, CBS airs the highly anticipated pilot for Supergirl. It’s been a while since we’ve seen her live – not since Laura Vandervoort played her on Smallville, or Helen Slater starred in the poorly received theatrical release in 1984.

Highly anticipated, but also being viewed critically, some early reviews of Supergirl have been mixed. Some are worried it might be too “fluffy” or saccharin – too (dare I say it?) girly!

Can Kara become the hero our little girls need? Will she be an inspiration to a new generation and become what Wonder Woman, Uhura, Mrs. Peel and Sarah Jane Smith were for me? Time will tell.

In the coming weeks/months, I’ll attempt to take a look at the rising trend in The Super Woman, and female-centric role models for empowerment in pop culture, to see if these women are the heroes our little girls (and boys) need and deserve. Stay tuned.

Supergirl airs tonight, Monday, October 26, 2015 on CBS at 8:30pm EST.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Cover by Steve Morris

They say two’s company and three’s a crowd. This is especially true when you have the Mr. and the Ex tagging along. Complicated further by unresolved feelings, sexual tensions, and old rivalries, and you’ve got yourself a classic lover’s triangle. But like anything else in the Buffyverse, amp that up by ten. Let’s not forget, Buffy is no ordinary gal, and her suitors are both supernatural creatures of the night.

So awkward doesn’t begin to describe the encounter when Angel (Buffy’s former love) arrives to aid The Scoobies and face the news that Buffy’s current flame is none other than frenemy Spike (aka William the Bloody when Angel and he used to pal around, committing heinous acts and leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake). Throw in some fangs and sharp implements of death and destruction and you’ve got a perfect recipe for disaster – never mind a lively “ex-boyfriend barbecue”.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Panel

TEAM SLAYERS…

Still, the team must put their differences aside, along with that time Angel killed Giles (good times), among other fond memories, to band together, bringing their collective mojo to defeat the evil Archaeus, a demon which has been attempting to control soulful vamps, and rivals for Buffy’s affections, Angel and Spike.

Of course, evil-doers must be fought, minions dispatched, and quips exchanged, in good ole’ Buffy fashion. What is actually more terrifying and surprising, is the fact that Andrew imparts some seriously thought-provoking words of wisdom, which had me waxing all philosophical. But I digress… as I often do…

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs

HANGING OFF A CLIFF…

What happens next will leave you on the edge of your seats, as any good crossover event should do, with a cliffhanger that will have you crying “Noooooo!!!!” to rival Shatner’s “Khaaaaaaan!” in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Ok, maybe that’s a little bit over-dramatic, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

Once again, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (love her variant cover for this issue, btw) deliver, along with Steve Morris’ cover art, suitable for framing. I really need to collect these as prints. (Steve, help a nerd gal out, will ya?)

If you’ve been staying with Season 10 of Buffy, don’t turn back now, pick up Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 17, out today, at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Cover by Steve Morris


A Bridge Between Worlds…

I’ve always loved a good crossover. That’s just something the nerd in me can’t resist. I would become super excited as a kid whenever The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman would have a crossover event. An episode would start on one show and end on the other. It’s still true now, I geek out whenever The Flash makes an appearance on Arrow (and vice versa).  And it always worked for Buffy and Angel, even when they were on different networks, just like it did for that other super-couple Jamie Sommers and Steve Austin.

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Bionic duo and former lovers Steve Austin aka the Six Million Dollar (Lee Majors) and Jamie Sommers aka the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner).

When Angel (repentant vamp and Buffy’s former love) left Sunnydale all those years ago, we knew he’d be back, and likewise, Buffy wouldn’t (couldn’t) stay away from him either. With dark slayer Faith (portrayed in the series by Eliza Dushku) traveling back and forth between both shows, there was always a bridge, and always a chance for a crossover event. Angel even shows up briefly during the Buffy finale.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Panel


When Worlds Collide…

Is it any wonder then that the writers of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith comics have teamed up to create a season that allows each series its’ own arc, while still letting one be part of the other’s story as well.

We all know that whenever Angel turns up in Buffy’s world, it means angst and complications. Having your first love show up while you’re involved with your current love is hardly a simple matter (read messy and awkward). I call this the “ex-boyfriend barbecue”… and I’ve been there myself… but I digress, as I often do…

Ever since the “Love Dares You” arc, starting with this season’s eleventh issue, Buffy and Spike have reconnected romantically, and after many long years of waiting, fans let out a sigh of relief (myself included). Of course,  hi-jinx must ensue when Angel is called, by none other than Spike (Buffy’s other on again/off again/currently on again beau) to aid in their latest fight against Archaeus, an ancient demon who has been tormenting both Angel and Spike. There is way too much history between these three, going back to when Spike was sired (turned into a vampire for the newbie) by Drusilla (who was sired by none other than Angel). There was a whole lot of siring going on back then. Oh, those wacky vamps!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Variant by Rebekah Isaacs

Suck Up and Deal…

Of course, there’s no time to wallow in hurt feelings and awkward silences when there are demons to slay, and the old team bands together to do just that, in their own unique fashion. Equipped with banter aplenty and sharp and pointy implements of death and destruction – not to mention a whole lot of hacking and slashing – they get to the task at hand. However, it’s just the beginning for our Scoobies, and the big bad for this season has yet to be dispatched.  After all, what would a crossover event be without a cliffhanger?

As always, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs aim to please and do not disappoint, and Steve Morris’ cover art always impresses.

While each series can stand on its own, do yourself a favor and pick up both Buffy and Angel & Faith Season 10 books. They’re even more fun together.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 16 is due out tomorrow, June 17, 2015! Get it at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.