Hasslein Blog: July 2014


Hasslein Blog

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Primate Directive: Where No Ape Has Gone Before

From the "This is so unexpected, it just might be brilliant" department comes this press release from BOOM! Studios and IDW.

Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes!
IDW Publishing Partners With Boom! Studios for Epic Crossover

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to mind-meld with a sentient ape? Or wanted to see a Klingon on horseback, brandishing a rifle? Readers will soon have a chance to peek into just such an alternate future, as IDW Publishing partners with BOOM! Studios for the crossover event of the year: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

IDW will publish the crossover, which will mark the first time BOOM! Studios has partnered with another publisher on a series. Together they will bring Star Trek, licensed by CBS Consumer Products, and 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes together in a way that is sure to delight existing fans and make new ones. The series will pair the original U.S.S. Enterprise crew with Taylor, Nova and the cast from the original Planet of the Apes film.

"Planet of the Apes and Star Trek are groundbreaking science-fiction properties and both deal with many of the same social issues and themes," says Greg Goldstein IDW President and Chief Operating Officer. "A crossover between the two is a natural and long overdue."

"Before I could read comic books as a child, I could watch science fiction on my television. My dad used to wake me up way past my bedtime to watch Star Trek in syndication—it came on after the nightly news—and I took a Planet of the Apes lunchbox with me to kindergarten every day," says BOOM! Studios Founder and CEO Ross Richie. "Suffice to say, teaming up these two titans of science fiction on the page in a way that they probably will never meet each other on the silver screen is a huge moment for me personally and emotionally."

The creative team will be a mix of proven experience and new blood with scripts by beloved Star Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton (Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2) and interior art and covers by the British newcomer Rachael Stott.

"With the Klingons secretly backing a renegade gorilla general in a coup for control of Ape City, Captain Kirk finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to help out Dr. Zaius’ orangutans," explains David Tipton. "Taylor won’t be happy with that!"

"What an epic pairing! I’m so excited to see Taylor, Kirk… and those damned dirty apes… in our upcoming comic," says IDW editor Sarah Gaydos, "We’re eager to team up these exciting creative forces to bring this to life."

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 034—The Moonbase

By T. Scott Edwards

Ah, The Moonbase. A serial which sets out the template for the next few seasons, sees the return of the Cybermen, and firmly plants Troughton's portrayal of the Doctor, providing a concrete template for the way in which our impish hero will behave forever. This serial has always been my favourite of all of the Cybermen stories, and that is no mean feat, considering it is missing 2 of the 4 episodes. Written by Kit Pedler, the co-creator of the Cybermen who worked on The Tenth Planet, it sees our time travellers arrive not on an alien planet, but on the moon. The moon! That big satellite up in the sky, the one which we see every night before we go to bed; and it's brilliant. Considering Pedler was a scientist – of sorts, at least – the science here is surprisingly ridiculous. Anyhow, let's get on with this...

Continuing on from closing scenes of The Underwater Menace, the TARDIS is out of control, and is forced to crash land; having been aimed at Mars, the Doctor misses his target by some "200,000,000 miles" and the crew don spacesuits to leave the craft and have a jolly old time of it out on the lunar surface. It takes some persuading, mind, as the Doctor was eager to leave straight away, but he is eventually coerced into giving the crew "shore leave". The TARDIS 'family' unit is still firmly in place, and the group sound like they're having marvellous fun as the bounce around in reduced gravity – although the incidental music to accompany these jumps are rather strange and out of place. Whilst this episode no longer exists, the telesnaps, as well as the footage existent in episodes 2 and 4, show how magnificent the model work and set design is.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To Be Takei

by Spencer Blohm

For Trekkies everywhere, George Takei is an icon. His role as Sulu in the original Star Trek television series in the 1960s has earned him the respect and adoration of sci-fi junkies worldwide. However, it's his life post-Star Trek life that's the focus of a new documentary called To Be Takei, which is premiering and airing exclusively on Direct TV from July 3rd through August 5th. Don't worry though, Trekkies, there's plenty of Trek talk in the documentary to keep your attention.

The documentary covers Takei's rough childhood, a topic that had been mostly glossed over until now. As a Japanese-American living in California in the early 1940s, he and his family were taken into custody by the U.S. government and placed in an internment camp following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. His years spent in a camp first in Arkansas, then California, had a profound impact on George, who was only five when their internment began. It sparked his interest in activism, government, and fighting for equality for all—a mission he continues today at the age of 77.

Being Asian-American and gay in the years post-WWII were difficult for George, and he struggled to find work as a minority actor. Of course, we all know Takei received his big break in 1965, when he was cast as Hikaru Sulu in the second pilot for a little-known show called Star TrekAlthough the original series only lasted for three years, it's the role that has defined his career, and one he's reprised numerous times in the Star Trek films and series that followed the original. Some of the most exciting parts of To Be Takei are the interviews with his former costars Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and his long-time verbal sparring partner, William Shatner. Takei and Shatner have been feuding on and off for over forty years, so managing to convince Shatner to sit down and be interviewed in a film about Takei was a praise-worthy feat for filmmaker Jennifer Kroot. While the bad blood between the two actors may likely never be fully cast aside, it provides entertainment for fans who, no doubt, enjoy the two gentlemen's witty barbs at each other.

The film wouldn't be complete without discussing George's LGBT advocacy, something he's relatively new to after publicly coming out at the age of 68 in 2005. As one of the most influential and well-liked personalities on social media, he has been using those various platforms to spread his message of tolerance and love, all with his signature tongue-in-cheek humor.

Another aspect to the film is George's resurgence into popular culture, thanks to his regular appearances on The Howard Stern show and his Facebook page, which has been "liked" more than 7 million times. Beyond Facebook, George has become a regular source of entertainment on Twitter and YouTube, where his channel is filled with videos ranging from a cover of "Let It Go" to him reading passages from 50 Shades of Grey. The title of the film is even a play on one of his famous YouTube videos where he takes on Tennessee's "Don't Say Gay" bill, by encouraging fans to simply say "Takei" instead of "gay." His online popularity is so massive, AARP hired him to star in a web series for them called "Takei's Take", which is about to debut its second season.

All the jokes and celebrity aside, To Be Takei also shows a touchingly personal side to a man best known for a dirty joke or two. Viewers get a look at Takei's life with his husband, and partner of 25 years, Brad Altman. The two have drastically different personalities, which makes their bickering all the more endearing and funny to watch. For fans looking to get a better look at the man we all know as Sulu, To Be Takei is a fun, entertaining, and deeply personal way to get to know George Takei.

Spencer Blohm has been a lifelong Trekkie, thanks in large part to his father's avid sci-fi addiction. He lives and works in Chicago with his cat—who, despite his best attempts, is sorely disappointing as the Spock to his Captain Kirk.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Goin' Real Ape With Reel Spoilers

by Rich Handley

This past week, I spent an hour chatting about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with a pair of humans named Tom O'Keefe and Joe Buttice, over at Reel Spoilers, who are neither damned nor dirty—though they are geeky, and that makes them kin. Sometimes, recording a podcast can be awkward or strained, but Tom and Joe made the experience as enjoyable for me as it (hopefully) will be for listeners. They're hilarious, and it's made me a loyal listener to the Reel Spoilers podcast. Won't you join us? Simply click on the logo below. Just be warned: There be spoilers ahead... and that head is covered in ape hair.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 033—The Underwater Menace

By T. Scott Edwards

The Underwater Menace is something of an oddity. It's utterly bonkers, ridiculous, with some of the most frustrating incidental music ever, and the most madcap and over-the-top villain the show has ever had. And I love it. I don't know why – only one of the four episodes exists for me to see, although episode 2 has since been discovered, but not yet released. The soundtrack is still very engaging, with some cracking dialogue. There are daft bits there too, of course. But I still really enjoy it every time I listen to it and watch episode 3. I just can't help myself. Oh, and it has that line in it – but more on that later!

The recon I'm using is relatively low quality – whilst it's synced up perfectly to my audio, as narrated by Anneke Wills, the telesnaps and existing footage (what little of it there is) are very low resolution, and details are difficult to make out.

Oddly, The Underwater Menace is widely regarded as a dreadful story – but that is probably because only the third episode exists, and whilst the third episode includes that line – which I will come to soon enough! – the majority of the episode is taken up by the prancing balletic sequence involving the fish people, and is hardly gripping TV. The tone of this entire serial is bizarre, and only watching the third episode, without warming to this jarring tone first through the first episode, can somewhat throw a viewer. Listening to the audio track too, though, we are able to gradually acclimatise ourselves to the madness. It's an experience well worth having.

Episode 1 picks up straight after The Highlanders ended, with Jamie being welcomed into the TARDIS. What is lovely about Fraser Hines' performance is how quickly he settled into the TARDIS 'family', and the quirks that his historical origins provide. Until now, every companion has been at the very least contemporary, with the exception of Katarina, who may or may not count. By introducing someone from Earth history, it gives a new and naive element to the TARDIS crew, someone utterly overwhelmed by everything they encounter. Whilst Katarina played this role with a doe-eyed stupidity, Hines' Jamie instead charges willingly, headfirst, into the situation, occasionally asking for some clarification but usually going on instinct. This 'family' idea is probably why I love The Underwater Menace so much. For all of the preposterous plotline, each character is decidedly determined to work together, and the group dynamic is wonderful, almost a nod back to the times of Ian, Barbara and Susan with the Doctor.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Keep Your Damn, Dirty Eye on This Damn, Dirty Book

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

BOOM! Studios to Publish New Planet of the Apes Miniseries

Right after announcing the one-shot Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion, BOOM! Studios has sent us the following press release, announcing a new miniseries debuting in November 2014:

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July 10, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA - This November, award-winning publisher BOOM! Studios and Twentieth Century Consumer Products are pleased to announce they will launch DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, a new comic book limited series based on the new film from 20th Century Fox.
Written by Michael Moreci (CURSE, Hoax Hunters), the six-issue series bridges the 10-year gap between the Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes films, chronicling the fall of humanity and the rise of Caesar’s ape civilization. Additional creative team details will be revealed at a later date. While the apes of the world have yet to advance as a species, Caesar (portrayed by Andy Serkis in the films) must find a way to unify them to one cause. On the other side of the country, Malcolm (played by Jason Clarke in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes film) must venture into the decaying Americas with his family to find a cure for the plague slowly killing his wife, Rita.

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BOOM! STUDIOS PREVIEW: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion

For the past few years, BOOM! Studios has been producing a line of comic books based on Planet of the Apes that has provided some of the best Apes stories ever told or drawn. Unexpectedly, the company halted efforts in 2013, bringing its very popular titles from Daryl Gregory, Carlos Magno, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman to a close, much to the disappointment of POTA fans who looked forward to their monthly does of simian lore.

Some speculated that the reason for the hiatus was so that BOOM! could refocus its efforts on the new films' continuity rather than the classic era, and that we might see new comics as the impending theatrical release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes loomed closer. As it turns out, the speculators were right.

This past week, the company announced a new Planet of the Apes comic that will serve as a prequel to Dawn, titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion. This one-shot will debut in two weeks at BOOM!'s booth (#2229) at San Diego Comic-Con, which will take place on July 24-27. Contagion will reveal the background of Ellie, one of the film's main characters. BOOM! Studios has graciously supplied us with a six-page preview of the comic, which you can read below. It looks fantastic, and will be a Comic-Con exclusive, so be sure to stop by the publisher's booth and pick up your copy! Here's the issue's solicit information:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion
$5, Convention Exclusive
Cover by Garry Brown
Writer: Caleb Monroe

Artist: Tom Derenick

Set directly after the events of 20th Century Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Contagion follows the story of Ellie (played by Keri Russell in the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes film) as she struggles to find a cure for the pandemic before it claims her daughter forever. In this self-contained, one-shot issue, we see a slice of the descent of mankind as they succumb to the Simian Flu pandemic from the perspective of the CDC and various doctors and scientists trying to stop the outbreak.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 032—The Highlanders

By T. Scott Edwards

The Highlanders is an important serial for a number of reasons – not only is it Troughton's second serial, wherein we see him settle into the character further following his rather strange first serial, it is also the introduction of fan-favourite Jamie McCrimmon and the last real historical for some 16 years. Sadly, this serial doesn't really serve its primary function; Troughton's Doctor is still as unDoctorly as ever, flipping frequently from persona to persona.

The first thing about this serial of note, however, is the incredible violence on display; whilst the serial is set during one of the most bloodthirsty periods of British history, quite how much violence is displayed is shocking even now. Interestingly, until now the travellers have always arrived either before or after the most horrific periods of history – looking at stories like The Reign of Terror and The Myth Makers – but here, instead, the group of time travellers arrives right in the middle of a skirmish, and subsequently are thrown head-first into the historical events. Not only is there grim realistically realised death aplenty on screen – some of which we're able to glimpse briefly thanks to censored material – we're also told of the disgusting acts taking place off-screen. Women and children are being murdered, Scots are being hung left, right and centre, and, perhaps most appallingly of all, the English are making a tidy profit from the sale of prisoners as slaves.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 031—The Power of the Daleks

By T. Scott Edwards

It is often said that the function of a companion is that of an identification figure for the audience – and never is that more true than in The Power of the Daleks. With the introduction of Troughton as the Doctor, the audience should be confused and bewildered by what has happened. It is all too easy nowadays to shrug nonchalantly at a regeneration. But at the time, this was a complete game changer, never seen before.

From the opening scenes of Troughton in the TARDIS, he is muddled and unclear. No explanation is given at any point for his strange behaviour, and his unexplained presence in the ship is confusing for the companions, Ben and Polly.
What is more, Troughton comes across as a dangerous addition – he speaks, at first, in hushed tones, grating and guttural. He is unknowable, unsure even of himself, and constantly refers to himself in the third person, and Ben in particular feels unsafe in the presence of this unknown interloper. He has invaded the sanctity of the TARDIS, and brandishes Saladin's knife with glee, before picking up, instead, a recorder. At no point can we be sure exactly what is happening – and this is a very brave decision.

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