Upgrade Your at Home Office Space With up To 50% off Top-Rated Amazon Products @ io9

LUOTIP 2-Pack USBC Fast Charger | $11 | Amazon | Promo code IVQHNQYR
AUKEY 2-Port Fast Charger | $11 | Amazon | Clip coupon
Faux Succulent White Ceramics Set | $12 | Amazon | Promo code 408LBWB3
St. Yent Black Rolling Desk Chair | $60 | Amazon | Promo code CYHO8WVJ

Read more...

Bureau’s Breakroom’s Television Table – Week beginning 2021 January 17 @ Bureau 42

The wait is over, as the shows start rushing back!  First, we start by watching The Watch seek a sword.  Then, Batwoman offers us multiple Batwomen and a Bruce Wayne that leaves even the synopsis skeptical.  In American Gods, we see that even when Shadow thinks he can get out, they pull him back in.  The Good Doctor sees if you actually can buy eternal life, while David and Michael turn their guest stars into therapists, and we learn the final choice for their roles on Staged.  Zoey dreams big, and The Expanse really, really cleans their carpets.  The “Teens” on Riverdale return for their fifth year of highschool.  Wanda and Vision doesn’t give us a synopsis, but so far each episode has been a sitcom from a previous decade, and it looks like we just made it to colorization and the seventies.  On The Blacklist, we see Elizabeth Keen turn on Reddington.

[All synopses (and titles) from Trakt.tv below the cut, except when there really aren’t any. (If a show’s synopsis is a spoiler to you, do not click Continue reading →)]

The Watch – S01E04 – Twilight Canyons – Carcer is willing to do anything to find a sword; the Watch is close on his tail.

Batwoman – S0E01 – Whatever Happened to Kate Kane? – Kate’s friends and family hold on to hope that Kate may still be found, a homeless 25-year-old named Ryan Wilder stumbles upon Kate’s Batsuit. Focused on no longer being a victim, Ryan takes the suit to use as armor and goes rogue in the streets of Gotham, taking out various members of a new gang called the False Face Society. Meanwhile, both Jacob Kane and Luke Fox launch searches for Kate, Mary Hamilton grapples with losing yet another family member, Sophie Moore struggles with things left unsaid to her first love, and Alice is furious that someone got to Kate before she could exact her revenge. At the same time, “Bruce Wayne” returns under the pretense of searching for Kate, but the truth is he wants his suit back and it becomes the clash of imposters as “Batwoman” and “Bruce” square off.

American Gods – S03E02Serious Moonlight – Shadow’s attempt to break away from Mr. Wednesday and the brewing war is thwarted by the secrets of the Gods — both Old and New.

The Good Doctor – S04E07 – The Uncertainty Principle – Dr. Morgan Reznik discovers her patient’s wealth and obsession with extending his life is a dangerous mix that could end up costing more than he can afford.

Staged – S02E05 – The Warthog and the Mongoose (1) – The boys are butting heads, not helped by having to read with various new potential cast members. They are increasingly annoyed at each new interaction while Simon tries to keep the ship steady and Georgia marshals her charity team.

Staged – S02E06 – The Warthog and the Mongoose (2) – The project is in danger. Simon tries to get David and Michael to work together, but it ultimately falls to a final pair of potential cast members to offer a new perspective.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – S02E03 – Zoey’s Extraordinary Dreams – Zoey is haunted by bad dreams that start to affect her personal life. Jenna helps Maggie find her creative spark again.

The Expanse – S05E08 – Hard Vacuum – [No Description Given]

Riverdale – S05E01 – Chapter Seventy-Seven: Climax – Betty and Jughead’s investigation into the auteur leads them to the discovery of a secret underground for red-band screenings. Elsewhere, in order to impress the visiting Naval Academy Commandant, Archie agrees to participate in a boxing exhibition against another candidate – KO Kelly. Meanwhile, as Cheryl prepares for prom, she stumbles upon a major secret that Toni’s been keeping from her.

WandaVision – S01E03 – Episode 3 – [No Description Given – Editor’s Guess: This is the 70s episode.]

The Blacklist – S08x03 – 16 Ounces – Fueled by his betrayal, Elizabeth Keen seeks vengeance on Reddington.

Ethan Hawke Is Going to Be Playing the Villain In Disney's Moon Knight Series @ io9

Well, the list of distinguished actors attached to this project has just gone up by one.

Read more...

Weekly New Releases – January 19, 2021 @ Bureau 42

2012
Amazon
311 – Mardi Gras 2020
Amazon
4 Comedy Favourites
Amazon
Comments Includes You, Me and Dupree, Because I Said So, The Wedding Date, and Head Over Heels
4 Movie Thriller Collection
Amazon
Comments Includes 21 Grams, Breach, The American, and The Constant Gardener
Accepted
Amazon
Always and Forever
Amazon
Ball of Fire
Amazon
Battleship
Amazon
Batwoman and Panther Women Double Feature
Amazon
Comments Double feature of Mexican films about female wrestlers living double lives
Blade of the Immortal
Amazon
Comments This is the more recent anime series that was simulcast through Amazon Prime.
Boogie Nights
Amazon
Casper
Amazon
Cleansing Hour
Amazon
Climb
Amazon
Dead Reckoning
Amazon
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Amazon
Dragon Ball Z
Amazon
Dreamland
Amazon
Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America
Amazon
East of Eden
Amazon
Friendliest Town
Amazon
Giant from the Unknown
Amazon
Girl Happy
Amazon
Glass
Amazon
Hearts and Bones
Amazon
Homefront
Amazon
JSA – Joint Security Area
Amazon
Kid Detective
Amazon
Let Him Go
Amazon
Martin Eden
Amazon
Max Cloud
Amazon
Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes
Amazon
Miss Juneteenth
Amazon
Mortal Engines
Amazon
Nova: Can We Cool the Planet?
Amazon
One Night in Miami
Amazon
Peter, Paul and Mary: Peter, Paul and Mommy, Too
Amazon
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies
Amazon
Prince of Darkness
Amazon
Comments Part of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy
Rolling Thunder Revuew: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Criterion Collection)
Amazon
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
Amazon
Serbian Film
Amazon
Comments Blaine: This is often mentioned as a divisive but good film from 2020.
Sid and Judy
Amazon
Skyscraper
Amazon
Slap Shot
Amazon
Spacewalker
Amazon
Spiral
Amazon
Comments Shudder original film about a same sex couple facing occult happenings in their neighborhood – not the live-action adaptation of Junji Ito’s Uzumaki.
They Live
Amazon
Toys of Terror
Amazon
Village in the Woods
Amazon
Wander
Amazon
Your Highness
Amazon

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “Prince of Darkness is, I’d say, one of John Carpenter’s more underrated films, and is definitely worth picking up.” Blaine says, “I can’t strongly recommend anything I’ve seen, but I’ve heard interesting things about A Serbian Film.”

The Girls From Earth (X Minus One #77) @ Bureau 42

Original airdate: January 16, 1957

Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/w-blaine-dowler2/message

Go to Source
Author: Blaine Dowler

Watch: This Electric Eel team-up delivers a supercharged shock @ Syfy Wire

Eclipsing some tried-and-true fishing tricks used by human anglers like shiny barbed lures and wiggling worms on hooks, these electric eels have banded together to deliver a high-voltage surprise to hapless fish swimming in a Brazilian lake on a sunny afternoon.

This shocking new video footage below, taken at a tiny lake on the banks of the Iriri River in Brazil's Amazon River Basin, finds a concentrated gang of Volta's electric eels (Electrophorus voltai) hunting in deadly packs of over 100. A few of these wicked predators then temporarily disperse to emit a supercharged blast that knocks any fish in the proximity out cold.

As described this week in the online journal Ecology and Evolution, pack hunting might be a common occurrence with land mammals, but this is the first time electric eels have been captured in the wild demonstrating their fatal dose of collective electricity. The species of knifefish observed is notorious for generating the most intense electric shock of any known animal. 

"It's really amazing to find a behavior like that with eels that are 2.4, 2.5 meters [around 8 feet] long," said co-author David de Santana, a zoologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. "One individual eel of this species can produce a high-voltage discharge of 860 volts. So, in theory, 10 electric eels can produce 8,600. So that's a lot. It's a really strong discharge, however the duration's really short."

As detailed in the study, de Santana and his research team believes this is a rare occasion and does not come together in this manner frequently. Uniting their stunning skills allows them to amplify their electric discharge for more greater effect and efficiency.

"Our initial hypothesis is that this behavior really occurs in locations with high prey abundance and also with long-term shelter for multiple eels," explained de Santana. "That means lots of fish and plenty of nooks and crannies for the eels to live in. These conditions may only exist in the middle of the Amazon."

This Resident Alien Promo Is Just Alan Tudyk Riffing on How Weird Food Is @ io9

And, honestly, it’s pretty compelling.

Read more...

Ursula K. Le Guin Is Getting the Greatest of Tributes: A Stamp @ io9

Is there any more fun honor than the stamp? It’s collectible, comes with art, and you can use it to send things to other people, making it a gift you pass on. They’re delightful.

Read more...

Mysterious origins of prehistoric creatures are being unearthed in 547-million-year-old soft tissues @ Syfy Wire

What if you had a theory you were positive was right, but there was always a fragment of missing evidence? Darwin had that problem.

Even the father of evolution was confounded by one thing. How could the Cambrian Explosion, which spawned most all of the animal groups whose descendants still exist today, have happened when there was barely any evidence of abundant life from before? So little was known about anything that lived before the Cambrian period because of the lack of soft tissues, which usually break down before they can be fossilized. Darwin’s Dilemma dragged on. Now an unusual pre-Cambrian creature with preserved soft tissue may have the answer.

“Exceptional preservation of fossils from the Ediacaran-Cambrian, ca. 570 to 500 million years ago, provides great insight into the first radiation of metazoans,” said Amy Shore, who led a study recently published in Science Advances.
 

Metazoans are animals, or, if you want to get really scientific, multicellular organisms which are also eukaryotic. Eukaryotic genes take the form of DNA found in the nuclei of their cells. Some of the weirdest metazoans to ever creep or crawl or float around on this planet came out of the Ediacaran.

547 million years ago, the bodies of some dead Namacalathus—which looked something like tiny pincushions on stalks—was buried in sediment. They lived and died during the Ediacaran period. Thought to be a transitional era for life on Earth, the Ediacaran was swarming with microorganisms before the Cambrian would bring on a drastic change. It was during this last preCambrian period that oxygen levels in the oceans rose high enough to support the more complex organisms which would eventually appear. Though the reasons for the oxygen boost have remained unclear, one of them might have been buried in carbon or pyrite.

Darwin swore that there Earth had to have a plethora of life-forms before the Cambrian Explosion, or there would have been no Cambrian Explosion. He was right.

When University of Edinburgh paleontologists on a dig in Namibia found Namacalathus fossils and examined them with X-ray imaging, it revealed that some of their soft tissues were impeccably preserved because they had been fossilized in pyrite (much like the Australian dinosaur bones found opalized in opal mines). The only fossils of Namacalathus that had been unearthed before were skeletal. What made relating Ediacaran life to Cambrian life even more difficult before the find was the assumption that organisms from each era were unrelated. These pyritized fossils were an unprecedented find that allowed the research team to find out which Cambrian metazoans they were related to, and even some extant fauna.

“Pyrite [must have] formed very early and replaced both soft tissue and the inferred organic-rich parts of the skeleton,” Shore said. “The occurrence of pyritized bacteria, here found alongside Namacalathus, is highly unusual in the fossil record and confirms that pyritization was rapid enough to replicate soft tissue.”

Cambrian life didn’t just materialize out of nowhere. It was during the Ediacaran, a period of dramatic environmental shifts, that the predecessors of those creatures emerged as some of the first more complex organisms on the planet. They had 40 million years to grow larger and began to diversify. When they vanished from the fossil record, it was right on the edge of what would become the most biologically diverse period the planet would see up until then.

Pyrite may be called fool’s gold, but something else that came out of this Ediacaran goldmine was proof that the life which had been thought to have shown up in the Cambrian period actually started to develop further back in time than previously thought. It was the elusive evidence that Darwin had been searching for. 

Just imagine waiting over a century and a half for your theory to finally be proven right. Even as a ghost, you would be exhausted.

Godzilla vs. Kong Is Hitting Streaming a Bit Earlier Than Expected @ io9

These big friends are ready to fight. They can’t wait.

Read more...

HBO Has Tapped a Russian Indie Director for The Last of Us's Pilot @ io9

Another director joins the crew. Considering the subject matter, it seems like he’ll fit right in.

Read more...

Fry or Reheat Almost Any Two Dishes Simultaneously the Healthier Way With 58% off This 5-Quart GoWise Air Fryer @ io9

Report: Cyberpunk Development Didn't Really Start Until 2016 @ io9

Cyberpunk 2077 was announced back in 2012 and shown off to the world with a cinematic trailer in 2013, but work on the game didn’t begin for real until 2016, according to a new report by Bloomberg. That’s when CD Projekt studio head Adam Badowski took over as director, several veteran developers from The Witcher 3

Read more...

Willy's Wonderland: Nicolas Cage uncages rage against evil animatronics in first bloody trailer @ Syfy Wire

Five Nights at Freddy's, The Banna Splits Movie, and that animatronic Grease trend on Tik Tok were merely warm-ups for Willy's Wonderland.

The upcoming horror film, which pits Nicolas Cage against a troupe of evil animatronics (yes, really), has dropped its first full trailer, and boy, oh boy, does it look absolutely insane. Cage stars as a nameless and quiet loner who agrees to clean a Chuck E. Cheese-esque family center in exchange for auto repairs. What the newly-hired janitor doesn't realize is that the place harbors an evil secret, and despite a dire warning from local teens, Cage's character finds himself in a life-or-death struggle for survival against the Willy's Wonderland mascots, which have come to murderous life.

The evil robot/puppets are also in for a surprise when Cage starts beating the literal stuffing out of them. Indeed, the violent, bloody, and sexy trailer makes the tacit loner out to be a Rorscach-level maniac when someone remarks: "He's not trapped in here with them, they're trapped in here with him!"

Watch the NSFW trailer below:

Beth Grant (Donnie DarkoA Series of Unfortunate Events) co-stars as a local police officer aware of the dark presence that lingers over the decrepit family center. Emily Tosta (Mayans M.C.), Ric Reitz (The Loft), and Chris Warner (Machete) round out the rest of the core players. Actor-turned-writer G.O. Parsons (Criminal Minds) penned the screenplay, while Kevin Lewis (The Drop, The Third Nail) directed.

Speaking with the CinemATL Podcast last May, Lewis described this feature as "a homage to Sam Raimi, although it doesn't have all the 'Raimi-isms' because I wanted to make it our own. But just the soul of it; it just felt like what a Sam Raimi movie would do. Sam loves to mix the comedy and the horror, and there is comedy in our movie, but the actors played it more straight [and] more believable. That's what I wanted — not more slapstick-y, but we could've gone that route. It would've been a different movie, but the heart and soul of Sam Raimi is in Willy's Wonderland for sure. He's one of my favorite filmmakers."

Credit: ScreenMedia Films

ScreenMedia Films is handling distribution and will release Willy's Wonderland (clocking in at 89 minutes) in theaters and on digital/on-demand Friday, Feb. 12. Head to the gallery below and see Mr. Cage's roster of cute-looking (but also terrifying) foes with a slew of "before and after" teaser posters.

WIRE Buzz: Godzilla vs. Kong coming to theaters & HBO Max in March; The Last of Us gets new director; more @ Syfy Wire

Godzilla vs. Kong will simultaneously be released in theaters and on HBO Max on Mar. 26, 2021 instead of its previously announced date of May 21, according to Deadline

The move appears to be WarnerMedia’s compromise with Legendary, the latter of which financed 75% of the film to Warner’s 25%. Legendary reportedly considered bringing litigation against WarnerMedia after the company announced plans to realease its entire 2021 movie slate on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters, a move that particularly stung because WarnerMedia had previously blocked a $200 million deal to sell the film to Netflix.

The two companies, however, were able to reach a compromise for the fourth installment in Legendary's Godzilla-Kong franchise. In addition to Godzilla and Kong, the movie stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Jessica Henwick, and Kyle Chandler.


HBO's The Last of Us series has found the first of its directors. The TV adaptation of Naughty Dog’s hugely successful PlayStation game franchise has reportedly tapped a new director to replace Johan Renck (Chernobyl), after Renck bowed out due to a reported scheduling conflict.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, the series has recruited Russian-language filmmaker Kantemir Balagov to helm the pilot episode of the upcoming series, which is based on the post-apocalyptic survival adventures of original game protagonists Joel and Ellie. Little known outside critics’ circles and cinephiles in the west, Balagov comes with serious-drama credentials aplenty as the director of the WWII drama Beanpole, which has garnered international awards recognition (as well as the Russian submission for best international feature film for last year’s Oscars) since its 2019 release.

Other than the early-episode director swap, everything else that’s previously been reported about the much-hyped TV adaptation for one of Sony’s most successful exclusive gaming properties appears still to be on track. Craig Mazin, creator of HBO’s Emmy-winning limited Chernobyl series, is still writing the series as a co-executive producer alongside Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann, with THR noting that the “marriage of Balagov and [The] Last of Us shows that HBO is aiming for a serious dramatic tone for the adaptation.”

So far, there’s been no indication from HBO on when TLOU could find its way to the small screen in series form, nor on casting. Mazin said last summer that the series is definitely going all in to capture the games’ somber, character-focused tone, pledging there’d be “no episodic nonsense” in a storyline that’s “connected in organic, serious ways that I think fans of the game and newcomers alike will appreciate.”


Peacemaker, the James Gunn-created spinoff series focused on John Cena’s eponymous character from The Suicide Squad, has officially started production.

“5 months ago, while quarantining, I started writing a TV series, mostly for fun, in-between Guardians drafts & cutting #TheSuicideSquad,” Gunn shared on Twitter today. “I wrote the 1st season of #Peacemaker in 8 weeks. & now, here I am, on the 1st day of shooting. Life is surreal. Let’s go (& go safely!).”

Gunn also shared a photo of him wearing a sixties-themed t-shirt with Cena’s Peacemaker smack dab in the middle.

We know few details about the plot of the show, except that it will be violent. In addition to Cena, the series will star Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black), Jennifer Holland (American Horror Story), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), and Chris Conrad (Young Hercules).

With the series now in production, it’s a safe bet that Peacemaker will eventually air on HBO Max. News on when, however, will be announced sometime after The Suicide Squad premieres Aug. 6, 2021.


Hasta la vista, alien scum! Get a first look at Linda Hamilton as a calculating general in SYFY's Resident Alien @ Syfy Wire

Linda Hamilton may be finished with dispatching killer robots from the future, but her gig as a professional alien hunter is just getting started.

Thanks to Access Hollywood, we have our first look at the actress as the calculating General McCallister in SYFY's Resident Alien TV show. A high-ranking member of the military, McCallister is determined to smoke out the extra-terrestrial that is now living in Patience, Colorado under the name — and skin — of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk).

In this never-before-seen clip, Hamilton commands the screen as her character chews out underling David Logan (Alex Barima) for believing in life beyond Earth. As we learned in early 2020, McCallister eventually dispatches Logan and Lisa Casper (Mandell Maughan) to find the alien.

Watch below:

Created by Family Guy veteran Chris Sheridan, Resident Alien is based on the Dark Horse comic book of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhoise. Sara Tomko ("Asta Twelvetrees"), Corey Reynolds ("Sheriff Mike Thompson"), Alice Wetterlund ("D'Arcy Bloom"), and Levi Fiehler ("Mayor Ben Hawthorne") round out the rest of the cast.

Head below for more images of Hamilton in full army garb; trust us, you don't want to cross her:

Credit: SYFY

 

Credit: SYFY

 

Credit: SYFY

 

Credit: SYFY

"Right from minute one, Dark Horse thought this thing had legs," Hogan recently told SYFY WIRE. "That it could make it on TV or as a movie. So they were trying from day one to find a home for this in Hollywood." That led to nearly a decade of frustrating stops and starts in which Hogan would think the project was close to happening ... only for it to fall apart.

Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg serve as executive producers on behalf of Dark Horse Entertainment while Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are attached as EPs for Amblin TV (the small-screen arm of Steven Spielberg's production company). David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) executive-produced and directed the pilot. 

Resident Alien comes in for a crash landing Wednesday, Jan. 27 on SYFY. Here's a nifty guide on how to check out the new series.


The New Green Lantern Comic Brings Young Justice and Far Sector's Finest Together @ io9

These days, Green Lantern comics are already kind of a family affair given the nature of the Corps—but the latest addition to DC’s roster is going to focus on some of its most fascinating ringbearers in recent years, in the hopes that two great tastes taste great together.

Read more...

Dungeons & Dragons rolls a new live-action series from John Wick creator @ Syfy Wire

Tread carefully with torch in hand, because there’s a new Dungeons & Dragons TV series reportedly around the corner — and it’s coming from a creative mind with a whiplash action pedigree.

John Wick creator and screenwriter Derek Kolstad is reportedly rolling the 20-sided dice as the newly-recruited writer for a live-action D&D series from Hasbro & eOne, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Kolstad, who helped propel Keanu Reeves to new levels of action stardom as the mind behind John Wick’s fast-paced brand of slick secret-society infighting, will reportedly write and develop a pitch for the as-yet unnamed D&D series.

Even as Kolstad becomes Dungeon Master of his own small-screen spinoff, Paramount is teaming with Hasbro to bring a previously-announced Dungeons & Dragons adaptation to the big screen. That project already has scored a big-name casting win by lassoing Wonder Woman star Chris Pine, and is set to begin filming later this year, via the report.

The Kolstad-led TV project isn’t the only one eOne reportedly has in the works, with the company actively pursuing “multiple writers to develop various projects” framed within D&D’s lore-rich world of gnomes, elves, orcs, and humans. We don’t know if Stranger Thingsfamously fond affection for the old-school tabletop rite of passage is partially to thank, but interest in all things D&D has seen a recent surge in fan interest, with THR citing Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner’s recent earnings report that the franchise has enjoyed a sales increase of 20 percent since 2019.

Kolstad’s writing work is also showing up on the small screen in some other pretty high-profile places, including Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Disney+, which is set to debut on Mar. 19. He also co-created the Die Hart comedy action series for the now-defunct Quibi platform, pairing the unlikely comedic duo of Kevin Hart and John Travolta. Die Hart had already been renewed for a second season at the time of Quibi’s demise; streaming stick maker Roku has since picked up the rights to Quibi’s library of 70+ short-form shows.

There’s no early word on which platform Kolstad’s live-action D&D series could land, nor on a proper title, casting, or a premiere date. In the meantime, we’ll stay in the basement with candles lit — while doing our narrative best to stay away from the Demogorgon.

Why isn't there a superhero soap opera show when cult classic 'Noble Causes' is sitting right there? @ Syfy Wire

I'm a sucker for a good soap opera.

I watched General Hospital for decades, a ritual that began in elementary school thanks to my mom (before she had to re-enter the workforce). Back then, CBS Friday nights were packed with The Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, and Dallas. When you're too young to go anywhere without a chaperone, that was three hours of fiction heaven!

It's no coincidence, then, that two of the first comics I got hooked on, Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers, had no shortage of interpersonal conflict and, in the case of ASM, plenty of romantic melodrama.

It got me to thinking how, during this Golden Age of Comic Book TV and its varying types of series, the one genre that hasn't been jumped on by the networks and streaming services is the soap opera. Sure, The CW's Arrow had the Olicity ship powering the series for eight seasons. And I know Riverdale has all kinds of drama happening each week. But for the sake of this column, let's focus on superhero comic adaptations. Because, as I noted above, comics have leaned on soaps for storytelling inspiration for years. Comics and soap operas share many traits, like long-running narratives, familiar settings (hospitals, newsrooms, secret lairs), romance, and often nonsensical twists and turns.

Where's our superhero soap opera? Where is a show that goes all-in on all the standard soap tropes, like betrayal, illicit affairs, and madmen with machines that can freeze the world? Where is a show that embraces all the wonderfully wacky narrative tricks that daytime and prime-time soaps have used to hook viewers? I bring this up because there's a comic book just sitting there waiting for a studio to find it and say, "Go make this!" I'm talking about the Image Comics series Noble Causes.

Credit: Image Comics; Art: Patrick Gleason/Amanda Conner   

If you're not familiar with the comic, it debuted in 2002. Created by Jay Faerber, it centered on the Nobles, a family of super-powered beings... but they were more like the Kardashians than the Fantastic Four. The Nobles were rich, impossibly famous, and wildly messed up. Based in the Image universe, they crossed paths with heroes such as the Savage Dragon and Invincible. But Faerber's series — which at first was broken up into mini-series and one-off issues before becoming an ongoing — focused on the nutty personal lives of the family.

At first, the story was told through the eyes of Liz Donnelly, the non-superpowered wife of Race Noble, a speedster and the media darling of the Nobles. In many ways, Liz was the series' Pamela Barnes. During the early years of the TV series Dallas, Pam (Bobby Ewing's wife) was the prism through which the audience saw just how messed up the Ewing family was.

The other key figures included:

Doc Noble, the patriarch and scientist who liked machines more than people.

Gaia Noble, the real head of the family who seemed to care more about the family's public image than about, well... the family. She's like the family momager, only with the powers of a multi-dimensional sorceress. You messed with Gaia at your own peril.

Rusty Noble, the tragic oldest son whose brain was transferred to a robotic body after a deadly battle.

Celeste Noble, Rusty's ex-wife and a real piece of work. She married her way into the Noble family for the prestige. She wasn't shy about the occasional nip/tuck, either.

Credit: Image Comics; Art: Fran Bueno

Then there are my two personal favorites, Frost and Zephyr. Frost is Gaia's son from an extra-marital affair, and in the world of the Nobles, he's somewhat of a myth. Gifted with the power to control the cold, he takes "black sheep" to a whole other level.

As for Zephyr, she's the youngest member who's embarrassed the family a number of ways, including affairs with supervillains and a sex tape! Perhaps the most troubled Noble, Zephyr is a fascinating character and my personal favorite of the series.

During the book's six-year, 40-issue run, Faerber, an admitted soaps fan, used every tool in the soap opera kit to keep the reader hooked. Shocking deaths, infidelity, alternate realities, time jumps, and even amnesia were used to tell the story of the Nobles. It also featured great interior art from Fran Bueno, Ron Riley, and Jon Bosco, as well as a slew of great variant covers from the likes of Patrick Gleason, Amanda Conner, Todd Nauck, and even Image co-founder Jim Valentino.

The series was allegedly optioned for TV at some point in the early '00s, but it never got past the development stage. Faerber moved on to create other comics such as Dynamo 5 and Copperhead before cracking television as a writer on shows like Ringer and, most recently, Supergirl. I have no idea if there remains a chance of getting Noble Causes back on the radar of television execs, but I certainly hope so.

I always thought the book was slightly ahead of its time, given that it debuted right as the era of social media was taking off. Its observations on the corrupting nature of fame in a world of superpowers aren't quite as extreme as what we saw in Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys — which debuted several years later, FYI — but it was no less cynical. The Amazon Studios adaptation of that comic confirms that off-kilter takes on impossibly flawed superheroes can succeed, if done right. And what's more off-kilter than a superhero soap opera? It's Dallas and Dynasty meets the Fantastic Four — the pitch basically writes itself!

Credit: Amazon Studios

We are blessed to have so many series based on the comics we love. It's not just the quantity, either, but the quality. Programs like The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol combine ambition and entertainment seamlessly; The CW's DC series has mastered the art of superhero adventures. Swamp Thing was a tantalizing taste of comics horror, and The Walking Dead has proven the appeal of that genre. For the good times to keep rolling, I hope the people who give the green light are digging deep through the longboxes for inspiration and variety. Because there are many comics out there that could, in the right hands, be the next big thing.

Like Noble Causes.


What comic book series do you think is a TV hit waiting to happen? Find me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let me know!

Behind the Panel isn't just a column — it's a multi-platform series! Our video series is loaded with my in-depth interviews with amazing comic book creators. The Behind the Panel podcast is an audio documentary series that provides unique insight into your favorite creators and stories. Check 'em out, we think you'll enjoy them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.

A Dungeons & Dragons TV Series in Development From the Creator of John Wick @ io9

Game of Thrones has ended but the fantasy TV genre it so elevated remains. A new Lord of the Rings show is coming. A Game of Thrones prequel show is coming. The Witcher is a hit. And now, just as Paramount is developing a Dungeons & Dragons movie starring Chris Pine, writer Derek Kolstad is simultaneously working on a…

Read more...

Gaze Into Pac-Man's Yearning Maw in The Best Toys of the Week @ io9

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the coolest updates in the world of wallet-draining geek merch. This week Bandai attempts to turn Pac-Man into a superarticulated nightmare, Jennifer Walters is at long last green with envy, and Lego celebrates 10 years of Ninjago. Check it out!

Read more...

So a guy injected himself with psychedelic mushrooms, and they started to eat him alive @ Syfy Wire

Public service announcement: Nobody try this at home. Ever. Magic mushrooms aren’t all that magical when they send you to the emergency room—and worse.

A man who brewed a shroom concoction that he injected into his veins got him rushed to the ICU with life-threatening microbial and fungal infections. Turned out spores in his blood had started to grow into actual mushrooms, and his organs were starting to fail by the time he was in the hospital. In a horrible twist that seems to merge Alice in Wonderland with Creepshow, the mushrooms growing inside him started feeding off his body.

“The case reported…underscores the need for ongoing public education regarding the dangers attendant to the use of this, and other drugs, in ways other than they are prescribed,” said a team of doctors and researchers who recently published a report about the incident in Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

Psilocybin is what makes the effects of hallucinogenic mushrooms so unearthly. If you’re wondering where the psychedelic aesthetics of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s came from, it was mostly from tripping on these and other not exactly legal things in the hookah-smoke haze of somebody’s hippie van. Your body converts the psilocybin in shrooms to the mind-altering chemical psilocin when they are ingested. Psilocybin and psilocin are otherwise known as psychedelic tryptamines, and the brain has receptors for serotonin, which psilocin can bind to because it is so similar. If you know the happiness boost serotonin is capable of, think of psilocin as serotonin on steroids.

This is why eating these mushrooms is supposed to send you to Wonderland or Never-Never Land or wherever else. However, this is also why hallucinogens like psilocybin are being explored as alternative psychiatric medicine, which explains the disastrous results of attempted self-medication.

The 30-year-old man who barely got away with his life only wants to identify as “Mr. X.” He had been previously treated for bipolar disorder, depression and opioid dependence, but had ditched his prescriptions in favor of trying to medicate himself. He then came across research about the possible benefits of psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD for someone with his conditions. Where he even got the idea or advice for the “mushroom tea” he injected remains unknown. After boiling Psilocybe cubensis down and filtering the liquid through a cotton-swab, he injected it and came down with symptoms that read like an epic case of food poisoning.

It wasn’t long before Mr. X started to feel disoriented and lethargic, and was soon suffering with diarrhea and vomiting up blood. Some days later, he was found jaundiced and incoherent by a family member who raced him to the hospital. He was starting to succumb to lung and kidney failure by the time he reached the ICU. Doctors who examined him realized that the spores in that deadly concoction had made it into his veins and started to grow into mushrooms. Veins supply organs with oxygenated blood. Because the fungi in his bloodstream ended up in every organ imaginable, they were literally eating him alive.

Mr. X pulled through, but only after 22 days in the hospital (eight of those spent in the ER) with an intense course of medication that included heavy antibiotics and antifungal drugs. He was still on antimicrobials when he was discharged.

This is why psilocybin from magic mushrooms is extracted if it is going to be used for any alternative treatments. Even eating them can be potentially fatal if not under the supervision of a medical professional. In 2018, a 15-year-old who consumed magic mushrooms experienced severe abdominal pain along with hypertension and nausea. His kidneys were failing. At least he only spent five days in the hospital and was not having his flesh and blood devoured by a killer fungus.

Though both this patient and Mr. X were able to recover, hallucinogenic fantasy worlds may not be the only place that shrooms could send you.

Lauren Ambrose and Nell Tiger Free tease the fine line between rage and love in Servant Season 2 @ Syfy Wire

One of the smartest and creepiest gems lurking in the Apple TV+ original library is M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop's Servant. Endlessly off-kilter, chilling, heartbreaking, and surprising, the claustrophobic tale is about the upscale Turners, a Philadelphia-based married couple who experiences the tragic loss of their infant. It so devastates the mother, Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose), that her family decides to let her think a hyper-realistic doll is their actual son, Jericho, so she can "manage" her trauma. They even hire an austere yet empathetic young nanny, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free), to help carry out the ruse... and then things get really weird.

In Season 1, Dorothy and Leanne's stories played out in parallel under the same roof. In seeing how they both treated and cared for Jericho, we got a clearer sense of each woman's moral compass, their individual quirks, and flaws leading to a climax of Leanne leaving the Turner home and taking Jericho with her.

As the second season starts on Apple TV+ today (Jan. 15), the two women are still entangled in a near-unbreakable orbit. Still apart, each woman is still struggling with her own demons, literal and metaphorical, in arcs that explore the complexity of what it means to be maternal and compassionate, and the weight all of it puts on women who aren't as easily defined as their families would like them to be.

The pair returned to Philadelphia early last year to shoot the second season and they admit to SYFY WIRE that getting a lot of prep material or back story to chew on ahead of time isn't how this show operates. "[Creators] Tony and Night didn't really tell me anything about what was going to be happening in Season 2," Free says. "As the scripts came, and more conversation started happening, it was clear that Leanne was taking a very different role in the house than she had previously. And by Season 2, Episode 10, she is light years away from the quiet girl from Wisconsin that we saw in Episode 1 in Season 1."

Leanne and Dorothy both changed in some very permanent ways. In Season 2, Dorothy's manic tendencies are on overdrive as she views Jericho's disappearance from the Turner house as a kidnapping. This delusion propels her to seek out Leanne and the baby with a crazed focus.

"I was really interested in this turn that Dorothy makes to misguided strength and power, and intensity and rage, and taking control instead of being the sort of vulnerable, delicate flower who you wonder is gonna break and crack into pieces," Ambrose muses. "I guess that's still all there. But then she's also a rageful villain at times, so that was fun. It's a different side of the character."

With Leanne, it's all about processing the events and freedoms she experienced in the Turner household as opposed to the heavily controlled, religious austerity she lived under while growing up. Free says, "I think in Season 1, in her interactions with Aunt May [Allison Eliot] and Uncle George [Boris McGiver], there were definitely moments where we were seeing Leanne start to rebel and question her upbringing and question these things like, 'Why is God like this? Why is he doing this? Why can't they have their baby back? Why can't I make up the rules?'"

Free continues that she hoped the writers would continue to explore that throughline and she was thrilled to see more of it Season 2. "We see her shed this old skin and she emerges because she has to undergo a lot of trauma in Season 2," she says. "She gets really put through it. You're watching and you don't know if it's going to break her, or is it going to make her stronger?"

Credit: Apple TV+

When Dorothy and Leanne eventually reunite midseason in Season 2, the power dynamic is clearly changed. Leanne has seen too much and considered too much on her own to go back to the Turners in the same meek fashion.

"I think that the relationship between Dorothy and Leanne is shattered as soon as we find out about the truth about baby Jericho," Free posits. "But Leanne loves Dorothy. She does. That love might be misplaced, but she does truly love her. And, you know, sometimes forgiveness is impossible and sometimes it's not. In Season 2, Leanne spends the whole season battling between this idea of 'is Dorothy this monster, or is she just a tired mother? Should I hate her, but I can't hate her, but I want to hate her, yet I can't hate her because I want the best for her.'"

And for her part, Dorothy's actions in Season 2 regarding Leanne certainly frame her as more of a villain rather than the sympathetic, albeit odd, mother figure she maintained in Season 1. "I feel like it was a gift to be able to play this flawed character," Ambrose says about the changing facets of her character. "And obviously, it's a good opportunity to look at how I am as a mother and how I am as with certain ambitions. She's kind of a grossly ambitious person, and that's part of the comedy of the character and that's always fun to play. Through playing the person and playing the scenes, I do judge when I immediately read it, and I ultimately came away from it feeling compassionate toward her because she's flawed, like, everyone, just maybe more."

Free also feels sympathy for her own character, especially because she feels no one really sees who Leanne is, or appreciates her as they should. "Everywhere Leanne's gone her whole life, somebody has wanted something from her. People see Leanne as 'What can they get from her?' It's never about 'What can I do for this person? How can I help this person?'

"Leanne is a teenage girl," Free emphasizes. "She's trying to juggle these immensely large themes and large problems of life and death that she has in her hands. She's 19. She's just a kid and she's also trying to deal with her hormones and trying to understand what mascara is and her relationship with her mother and boys and all these things. She's got a lot of s*** to deal with. And no one's ever like, 'Thanks, Leanne! Thanks so much for running away from a cult and bringing us a baby.'"

Both women are excited to see how audiences process the tone of this upcoming season, which remains terrifying but also veers into more black comedy — especially as Dorothy spirals. Ambrose says she gave a lot of different "Dorothy" reactions in any given scene, but the series doesn't really take shape, even to her, until she sees the final episodes.

"In terms of tone, we actors do our best to bring the reality of the moment, even if it's a comedic thing, or if it's a horror/scary moment, we bring the reality as best we can to the moment And then, on this show, more so than any show I've ever been on, so many other artists come in to tweak the tone," Ambrose explains.

She cites the show's score, eclectic camera work, and the array of directors who come in and adhere to Shyamalan's mandate of having a strong "perspective" as just some of the elements that make Servant stand out. "It's never shot like a TV show. It's never typical coverage," she says with equal parts admiration and slight confusion. "There's always some crazy piece of equipment that they've rented for some elaborate shot for some moment that I didn't even realize was a big moment. But they had this crazy thing planned for it, and I'm like, 'OK, here we go, this is what we're doing — we're focusing on the person's legs for the scene?'" she says with a laugh.

Viewers, too, will be excited to see how the sophomore season all comes together. Free highlights Episode 5 and the season finale as bright spots, while Ambrose is excited for Episode 4, which Shyamalan directed. "There's sort of this face-off between the two characters as both come into their strength and powers," Ambrose teases. "They're grappling for control, in a way, and ultimately feeling very out of control in the hands that they've each been dealt. It will be interesting to see how it turns out and how it's received because it really does go very far and the characters go really far. When I read that I was like, 'I don't think this is appropriate. How do we do this? What is this?'"

Servant Season 2 has commenced on Apple TV+.

Ethan Hawke heads to the MCU as main villain in 'Moon Knight' series on Disney+ @ Syfy Wire

To quote Tears for Fears, "Everybody wants to join the MCU." That's the correct lyric, right? Anyway, the latest mega-star to throw their hat into the shared Marvel mythos is Ethan Hawke. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the Daybreakers and Sinister actor has been tapped to play the main villain role opposite Oscar Isaac's Marc Spector in the live-action Moon Knight series coming to Disney+.

No details were provided about the role, but Hawke is the third addition to the cast following Isaac and Ramy's May Calamawy, the latter of whom was added in another mystery role earlier this week.

THR wagers that there's a good chance Hawke is playing Raoul Bushman, a mercenary and thief who leaves Spector for dead in the harsh Egyptian desert over some gold. Spector is eventually brought back to life, but only on the condition that he serve as a proxy for the lunar god known as Khonshu. He accepts the mantle and returns to the United States to live a double life as a wealthy man by day and a menacing vigilante by night. In fact, Moon Knight is often referred to as Marvel's answer to DC's Batman.

Thanks to this nifty list compiled by CBR, there are some other candidates for the antagonist, such as Killer Shrike, an enhanced mercenary for the Roxxon Oil Company; Crossfire, an interrogration expert for the CIA (Spector was once an operative for the agency) who developed mind control technology; and Black Spectre, a disgruntled Army veteran who turned to a life of crime (and politics) after returning home from combat.

Moon Knight — which will be directed by Mohamed Diab, Aaron Moorehead, and Justin Benson — plans to begin shooting in Budapest in March. Jeremy Slater (a writer known for The Lazarus Effect and The Umbrella Academy) is serving as showrunner. 

Marvel Studios kicked off its fourth phase Friday morning with its first-ever Disney+ TV show: WandaVision. Check out our recap of the first two episodes here.


WIRE Buzz: Galaxy Quest sequel hopes; Pandemic thriller 'Safe at Home' sets release; and Edge of Tomorrow @ Syfy Wire

By Grabthar's Hammer! A potential sequel to 1999's Galaxy Quest isn't giving up and it sure as hell isn't surrendering.

Recently chatting with Entertainment Weekly, actor Tim Allen (who played the self-centered Jason Nesmith in the beloved sci-fi classic) confirmed that a follow-up script does exist, describing it as "fabulous." The project might have been made by now, had it not been for the unfortunate passing of Alan Rickman ("Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus") in 2016. 

"So it all got very sad and dark because [the script] was all about [Lazrus] and Taggart. It was all about their story. It doesn't mean they can't reboot the idea, and the underlying story was hysterical and fun," Allen continued. "I haven't reached out to anybody in the last week, but we talk about it all the time. There is constantly a little flicker of a butane torch that we could reboot it with. Without giving too much away, a member of Alan's Galaxy Quest family could step in and the idea would still work."

Credit: Getty Images

Allen went on to tease certain elements of the sequel script, which allegedly explores the concepts of light-speed space travel time dilation. 

"[The sequel] could happen now or in five years and it doesn't matter at all because when you travel at light speed, when you come back it can be like only 20 minutes, but 20 years have passed, right?" Allen explained. "That part is wonderful for the sci-fi freak in me. But right now it's in a holding pattern." 

Last spring, Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot revealed that an Amazon series based on the movie almost happened, but was forced to be put on hold after Rickman died.

Considered a cult classic, the movie centered around a group of washed-up actors who once starred in a beloved, Star Trek-esque TV show. Tired of fan conventions and signings, the squabbling and dysfunctional cast members are thrown for a loop when real aliens come asking for their help in defeating an intergalactic warlord. Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Justin Long, and even a young Rainn Wilson appeared alongside Allen and Rickman.


Voltage Pictures and Vertical Entertainment are the latest production companies to take a stab at a film that reflects the era of COVID-19 and social distancing.

Both parties are joining forces for Safer at Home, a pandemic thriller molded in the same vein as the Michael Bay-produced Songbird. The story takes place in the year 2022 when the chaos caused by the novel coronavirus has turned Los Angeles into a draconian police state To escape the grim nature of reality, a group of friends gather virtually for an online party of music, drinking, games, and a hit of what they think is MDMA (aka "molly"). As the drug starts to kick in, "things go terribly wrong and the safety of their home becomes more terrifying than the raging chaos outside," reads the official synopsis.

Will Wernick (Escape Room) directed the film from a script he co-wrote with Lia Bozonelis (Sorry Not Sorry). The pair of them conceived of the central story with John Ierardi (Obscurity). Per the release, the project was "was one of the first projects to go safely into production during the COVID-19 pandemic." Alisa Allapach (Kingdom), Adwin Brown (You), Jocelyn Hudon (The Order), Dan J. Johnson, (Chicago Fire) Michael Kupisk (Henry Danger), Emma Lahana (Cloak & Dagger), and Daniel Robaire (In Development) make up the core cast.

Credit: IMAGE POINT FR/NIH/NIAID/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Follow Me [it was retitled to No Escape] was a strong success for many of our international partners, so when the chance came to partner with Will for the third time was a no brainer,” Vertical Entertainment President/COO and executive producer Jonathan Deckter said in a statement. "He’s created a whip-smart, edge of your seat thriller that will speak to audiences worldwide, as they simultaneously experience the varying stages of the pandemic."

“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Will and Voltage this year following the domestic success of No Escape (AKA Follow Me),” added Vertical co-president Rich Goldberg. “Safer at Home provides exciting twists and turns at every moment and we can’t wait to share it with US audiences.”

The movie will be released sometime next month.


The prospect of us getting another Edge of Tomorrow movie rests firmly in the hands of Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

"It's one of these things where if Tom, Emily and I were to say, 'We're ready to pull the trigger on this script,' it's Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, the film gets made," returning director Doug Liman said during an interview with Collider. "That's pretty much how Hollywood works. The stars are the gatekeepers. If you can get Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to commit to the movie, it's going to happen."

A second installment for the Live Die Repeat universe entered active development at Warner Bros. in early March of 2019. Since that time, however, there haven't been many updates and it's not hard to see why. Both Cruise and Blunt are some of the hottest actors in Hollywood and have been busy with other blockbuster projects like Top Gun: MaverickMission: Impossible 7, Jungle Cruise, and A Quiet Place Part II.

On the bright side, Cruise and Blunt's packed schedules give the script a little more time in the oven. Matthew Robinson (Dora and the Lost City of Gold) apparently wrote the latest draft, working off an earlier version from original co-writer, Jez Butterworth. Even so, Liman, a filmmaker known for "finding" his films during the edit process, told Collider that an unfinished script isn't really a problem, especially since the original didn't have a finished screenplay when it started production either.

“For Live Die Repeat, the script wasn’t there when we started shooting," he recalled. "Tom and I often laugh about this, that during prep on that movie we’d say to ourselves, ‘There’s nothing like a looming start date for the shoot to put pressure down to get the script right.’ And then while we were shooting the movie, we’d say to ourselves, ‘There’s nothing like a looming wrap date to really put pressure down to getting the script done.’ Then when while we’re editing the movie, we’re like, ‘There’s nothing like a looming release date to force you to get the script right.’ These are really big, imaginative movies."

Released in the summer of 2014, Edge of Tomorrow told the story of William Cage, a soldier (Cruise) who finds himself reliving the same day over and over in the middle of a war against an invading alien race. The soldier eventually finds Rita Vrataski (Blunt), another fighter who once shared his time-reversing ability. Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson co-starred. Costing almost $200 million to make, the sci-fi actioner was extremely well-received by critics and brought in a little over $370 million at the worldwide box office.

Liman's next effort is a long-delayed adaptation of Chaos Walking, which Lionsgate hopes to release in March.


Nic Cage's Latest B-Movie Extravaganza Pits Him Against Demonic Animatronics @ io9

If you thought that Banana Splits movie was macabre, behold Willy’s Wonderland. It’s about a man who needs some cash fast after his car breaks down, so he agrees to clean a Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant overnight. The twist: the animatronics are killers. The other twist: the man is played by Nicolas Cage.

Read more...

The 10 Best Deals of January 15, 2021 @ io9

First look: Get your own protomolecule gear in Loot Crate’s new ‘The Expanse’ box @ Syfy Wire

Loot Crate is headed to the Belt to assemble its latest pack of geeky gear — and SYFY WIRE has a first look at what The Expanse fans can find in the newest, protomoelecule-glowing box.

The two major items in the next Loot Crate box, themed after the Amazon Prime original sci-fi epic The Expanse, are a protomolecule-styled glowing T-shirt with the Rocinante logo, and a Ren Hazuki flask. You know, because sometimes you need a stiff drink out there when you’re pushing through the Ring Gate.

The Roci-themed shirt features the ship’s glowing logo in the style of that pesky protomolecule, while the flask is modeled after the one Ren Hazuki uses (you know, the one he ran back in to retrieve during Season 3). The box will also feature a few other exclusive collectibles inspired by the hit series, all of which should have you ready and able to fight for the future of the solar system in style.

Check out a first look at all those goodies right here:

The new crate switches over this evening at 9 p.m. PT, which is when fans will be able to order away. Loot Sci-Fi Crates start at $39.99 plus shipping and handling.

Season 5 of The Expanse is rolling out now on Prime Video, picking up the story with the crew of the Roci largely separated while dealing with their own problems in different corners of the solar system. The timing couldn’t be worse, too, as a cold war is getting very hot and could shake up the entire political make-up of humanity itself — not to mention the reemergence of the protomolecule.

The series will return next year for its sixth and final season. To learn more about how they plan to wrap up the series, check out our interview with the creators.

New episodes of The Expanse drop Wednesdays on Prime Video.

Drowned Out by Noise, These Horny Frogs Wave Their Arms and Legs to Get Noticed @ io9

A species of Ecuadorian glass frog combines high-frequency croaking and a striking visual display to attract mates, in what is a fascinating adaptation to a noisy environment.

Read more...

Batwoman will face off against Victor Zsasz and Black Mask in S2, as the Batmobile finally arrives @ Syfy Wire

A new era of crime-fighting in Gotham starts Sunday night as the second season of Batwoman begins on The CW. As widely-covered, gone is actress Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, and in is actress Javicia Leslie as new the new crime fighter-in-leather, Ryan Wilder.

At today's virtual Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter press day with The CW, Batwoman showrunner and executive producer Caroline Dries and Leslie talked with reporters about how the series is changing with the handing over of the cowl.

In particular, Dries says figuring out how to make Ryan as central to the story as Kate was in Season 1 was the biggest challenge for the writers. "I wanted a girl nobody was connected to," Dries says about crafting a new lead that wasn't as embroiled in the Kane family dramas. "Ryan is a nobody: she's invisible and lost in system."

Dries says it was actually easier to integrate Ryan into the Batworld of the narrative because that could just be about confronting the villains. But in the development, they found a "very specific" relationship between Ryan and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) which is friction based. "And Ryan has a specific issue with the Crows," the showrunner adds.

One of the central narratives of Season 1 was Alice's (Rachel Skarsten) obsession with her sister/enemy, Kate, and now that's gone. The season finale ended with Alice concocting a very specific plan to get rid of Kate once and for all, but Dries says they were able to flip that into a revenge story of Alice against Ryan in Season 2. "Alice's reaction is the typical unhinged, entertaining way, which will become a rollercoaster of emotions for Alice in grappling with the loss of Kate. But the first thing is about getting revenge on a person who took this away from me."

Grief regarding Kate's loss will also be addressed by the rest of the core cast and a through line to the season. Dries offered that, "Sophie has this loss of unrequited love so there's this void in her heart. With Mary (Nicole Kang), it's about finally bonding Kate and now that's gone. And for Luke (Camrus Johnson) she was his buddy and doesn't want to say goodbye. Everyone is coming at it from a different angle."

Asked if there will be a definitive answer to Kate Kane's future, Dries said it would be resolved and was well aware that audiences are aware Rose has left the show so she didn't want it to feel like a "wank" to keep it going. But narratively, the answer will have a lot of twists and turns that will be a deep mystery in Season 2.

But there's always darkness to overcome in a town like Gotham and Ryan is going to have her work cut out for her as Victor Zsasz comes to tangle with her in Episode 3. As a bad guy who carves tally marks into his skin after every kill, Dries says Zsasz rose to the surface due to his "flair" and interest as a bad guy. "But we also always ask how can we thematically make him matter to the moment? Why now? He has a great scene in Episode 3 where Ryan is wearing Kate's suit where he tells her that you don't have to wear Kate's hand-me-downs. He says, 'I'm a weirdo but at least I'm comfortable being me.' So that's how we choose the villains, as someone whose cool and then hits the themes."

She also teases a more serialized inclusion of Black Mask and the leader of the False Face Society. Dries said, "They'll be peddling a very specific drug in Gotham. And Ryan is tasked with taking them all out and she has a special relationship with a member of his gang."

Also, lookout for the Batmobile to finally make itself known in the premiere on Sunday. Dries says it was supposed to debut in the Season 1 finale but COVID delayed its introduction. "It's a new character in the premiere and the design is based on a new Corvette chassis. Our production designer designed it and props designed the inside. It's a new Batwoman with new transportation and a whole new world of gadgets and stunt sequences."

Batwoman Season 2 begins on Sunday, January 17 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

WandaVision's Teyonah Parris Promises More of Monica Rambeau's Backstory @ io9

It isn’t until WandaVision’s second episode that Teyonah Parris actually makes her first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s one of the many people living alongside Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in the small town of Westview, where the most pressing thing on most everyone’s…

Read more...

Battlestar Galactica: Sam Esmail wants to 'experiment with form' on still-developing Peacock revival @ Syfy Wire

Last year, we learned that Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and Assassin's Creed screenwriter Michael Lesslie had teamed up for a fresh take on the beloved sci-fi franchise Battlestar Galactica to air on Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service.

Though a lot's happened since then, including the announcement of a new development on the Battlestar movie front, Esmail and Lesslie are still hard at work developing their version of the story first created by Glen A. Larson in the 1970s and repopularized by Ronald D. Moore in the 2000s. So, what will their take on Battlestar look like? Esmail's not entirely ready to say yet, but get ready for a series that uses the freedom of streaming for something a little unconventional. 

“We’re still working on the pilot," Esmail told Collider in a new interview. "Look, it’s a big universe, it’s a big world, I want to respect the Ronald Moore Battlestar. I spoke to him before I even took on the project to make sure that it’s all kosher with him, because the last thing I want to do is step on his toes, and the one thing we both agreed on is that it won’t be a reboot of what he did. Which I think we both wanted.”

Esmail went on to elaborate that he and Lesslie, who will serve as showrunner on the series, are "still trying to figure out the world via the pilot," so he couldn't offer much in the way of story details. What he did offer, though, was a robust discussion about how the show hopes to use the Peacock streaming platform to its advantage for an unconventional release schedule. In the streaming game right now there are essentially two schools of thought — release the entirety of a season all at once or release new episodes weekly like traditional television — and Esmail and Lesslie are apparently hoping to generate some kind of hybrid of both, depending on the needs of the story. 

“When I spoke to Peacock about it, and Mike Lesslie who’s an amazing writer – he’s the one who’s showrunning and writing the pilot – the one thing we got excited by is do we release an episode a week, [release all at once]? For me it was like let’s get in there and tell the right story and it will tell us how many episodes," Esmail explained. "We may dump three episodes in a row because it’s a three-episode-long battle sequence that needs to be dropped in a row even though they’re three signifying chapters, and maybe each chapter is switching a point of view within that battle sequence. There may be a 20-minute episode that’s the backstory of one of the characters that gets dropped right after that.”

Releasing multiple episodes at once for an otherwise weekly series isn't necessarily anything new. Lots of shows, including The Stand on CBS All Access and the just-launched WandaVision on Disney+, drop more than one episode to emphasise a season premiere or finale sometimes, but Esmail's hoping to go further than that. Because the mythology of Battlestar Galactica is vast, and lends itself to exploring an ensemble of characters and their backstories, he and Lesslie are discussing ideas that are essentially spinoff episodes, little one-shots that exist alongside the main story that viewers can choose to watch, or not.

“So I can’t tell you the number of episodes, but it’s also kind of a little meaningless because I think we’re gonna look at it as sort of like a spider web where we can plot and point and say, ‘Well this isn’t chronologically after Episode 1 or Episode 2, it’s the backstory of someone, but let’s release that so audiences can check that out if they want or they can just jump into the battle sequence,'" Esmail. said. "We’re really gonna experiment with form in that way, and again I think with a property like Battlestar it lends to that.”

There's a reason why most streaming services stick to a straightforward binge-watch model when it comes to the structure of their shows. It's easy, it's convenient, and it keeps customers on their couch for hours — but that doesn't mean there's not still new ground to break in a world where a viewer can simply point and click on what they want to watch at any given time. We've seen Netflix make some strides already with choose-your-own-adventure storytelling, and now Esmail is hoping to use the elasticity of a streaming format to play with more nonlinear storytelling options.

Will he follow through with those ideas? We may find out soon. He hopes to begin shooting the new Battlestar Galactica series later this year.

 

WIRE Buzz: 'For All Mankind' Season 2 trailer blasts off; WandaVision's future 'vision'; Peacock's 'Providence' @ Syfy Wire

It looks like peace is no longer an option when For All Mankind returns for its second season, as the Cold War at the center of the Apple TV+ series is starting to heat up. 

The new season of the space drama kicks off a whole decade later, in 1983, and as the trailer (below) reveals, tensions between the U.S. and the USSR are at their highest with both countries going head to head in a competition to control resource-rich sites on the moon. And with the Department of Defense moving into Mission Control and NASA slowly becoming militarized, it looks like the grander ambitions of space exploration (and science) are falling to the wayside, as the world slowly heads toward nuclear war. 

Created by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and Ben Nedivi & Matt Wolpert (The Umbrella Academy), the series stars Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Wrenn Schmidt, Jodi Balfour, Krys Marshall, and Sonya Walger. Also joining the cast this season will be Cynthy Wu, Casey W. Johnson, and Coral Peña.

For All Mankind premieres on Apple TV+ on Feb. 19, with each of its 10 episodes dropping weekly. 


 

Next up, if you've already seen the first two episodes of WandaVision's comedic hijinks and are masticating chomping at the bit for more, then you'll definitely want to check out the behind-the-scenes featurette for the Disney+ show below.

Not only does the video offer a glimpse into some of the sitcom stylings that the initial premiere featured, but it also, as showrunner Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow) points out, allows a peek behind the curtain into just what might be buzzing behind all those classic TV show trappings. 

Elizabeth Olsen reprises her role as Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany miraculously returns as Vision, both last seen in Avengers: Endgame. Joining them on the cast are Teyonah Parris as Geraldine (and possibly Monica Rambeau), as well as Kathryn Hahn as Agnes.

New episodes of WandaVision will drop on Disney+ ever Friday. 


 

And finally, it would appear that The Magicians co-creator Sera Gamble has another trick up her sleeve. Deadline is reporting that the former Supernatural executive producer will be adapting yet another one of Caroline Kepnes' (You) books for the small screen — only this one has more of a supernatural twist, and it will be for NBCUniversal's streaming service, Peacock. 

Providence tells the story of Jon Bronson, who after vanishing along with five of his classmates when they were 12 years old, reappears 10 years later. But all is not as it seems, as Jon and his fellow returnees discover they've been granted horrific supernatural abilities. Making matters worse is the fact that they're preventing him from once again reconnecting with his childhood crush, Chloe Sayers, who'd never given up hope of his eventual return. So now it's up to Jon to figure out what has been done to him and the others, and why all of this is happening. 

Gamble will write the project along with Neil Reynolds (You). 

No release date has yet been set. 


Resident Alien's Chris Sheridan reveals his personal UFO tale and comic Easter eggs that inspired the series @ Syfy Wire

Sometimes a person's life event will perfectly set them up for a specific gig, and Resident Alien executive producer/writer Chris Sheridan is an out-of-this-world example of such fortuitous fate. Let him set the stage: It's 20 years ago on one of the islands of the Bahamas. At about 10 p.m. on a Sunday, Sheridan and his then-wife are on their honeymoon enjoying a stroll along the beach. As they meander in romantic bliss, both see a dot rise up from the horizon. A star? Nope, because the dot turns into a noiseless, triangle-shaped ship with six circular lights on the bottom, sweeping the beach and coming right at them.

Frozen in shock, they watched the lights scan over them, and then the craft eventually moved away, leaving behind two very weirded-out humans. "I'm not saying it was aliens, although obviously it was," Sheridan says with a smile as he relays the story to SYFY WIRE as we talk about his shepherding of the Dark Horse comic Resident Alien to the screen. "But it was certainly something that was not something that we know we have. And it's not as rare as people think. We're trained to dismiss it as, 'It can't be, because I'd be a crazy person if I thought that.' All I can say is what I saw. It moved way faster than anything we know we have and I'm also convinced it's still from alien technology."

What better guy to run a television series about an alien who crash-lands on Earth and hijacks the visage of a local doctor to live amongst us, right? It's that personal story, and certainly Sheridan's 17 years as an Emmy‑nominated writer and producer on Family Guy, that makes him uniquely suited to bringing the darkly comedic scripted series to life.

The SYFY adaptation of Peter Hogan and artist Steve Parkhouse's Dark Horse comic of the same name stars Alan Tudyk as that alien who hijacks Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle's body and then has to help figure out a murder in the small town of Patience, Colorado. The series is Sheridan's first time running a live-action series, and he admits it's been a fun process turning the comic run into the spine of the TV series.

"I took the storyline from the first graphic novel ["Welcome to Earth!"], which is the death of Sam Hodges, and I'm arcing that out for the first season as the town story and Harry, the alien story, is about him coming to terms with his emotions," Sheridan explains.

"And I am trying to pick and choose stuff from the comics for the fans," he continues. "The jacket that Asta Twelvetrees [Sara Tomko] wears is from the comic. We had that made, specifically. In the comic, there's an image inside and out of this diner in town. We took the picture from the comic, and gave it to our production designer, Michael Joy, who's brilliant, to design a diner for us. And in the comic, one of the nurse's names is Ellen, so we called our nurse, Ellen. In the comic, the mayor is Bert Hawthorne. But he was older, in his 60s or 70s. We did a younger guy and made it Ben Hawthorne."

But the series also goes its own way, as adaptations tend to do when transitioning from one medium to another. Sheridan says in his mind the key to making the high-concept idea work in a real-life narrative was to make the series as grounded as possible. "We all want it to feel plausible," he says. "There's a goofy way to do it, and for the people who believe it, there's things that they believe that are real. And we try to sink into some of those things."

In particular, Sheridan says audiences should look out for some actual historical UFO lore that has come to be accepted as fact in the series. "I want it all to feel authentic and real," he explains. "And I think one of the tricks with comedic shows is that sometimes you get funny and it gets broad, and then the reality sort of falls away. The hard thing is staying funny when you're funny, but not in a way that it becomes a cartoon and unreal. As soon as it becomes unreal, then the real stuff, the stakes of the threats of this alien, that all starts to be diminished."

And then there are the pesky limitations of live-action budgets. Not every sci-fi series has a Game of Thrones budget or the unfettered freedom that working in animation gives to storytellers, which Sheridan has come to learn on Resident Alien. "There's financial restrictions and just world restrictions. It's not a cartoon, so you can't go crazy," he admits. "But the restrictions are sort of helpful because it at least puts you in a box that you can play in. And there are some very cool things that are part of [the series] because the show does have some scope and some beautiful locations this year, which I love."

Those creative constraints also mean that the series gets to be impactful about when and how we see Harry in his natural alien form. "If we're gonna see the full-body alien, it's gotta be for a story reason," Sheridan says. "Either it makes a visual funnier, or it's scarier, or something like that. We'll use it sporadically. Mostly, we are reminding the audience that he's an alien through some reflections. And through Max being able to see him as an alien."

Sheridan says the more difficult part was figuring out the actual look for their extraterrestrial, which took a lot more time than expected. The final look was developed by him and pilot director, David Dobkin. "Part of me wanted to just do what was in the graphic novel," he explains. "But the only problem with that — and it's a brilliant design that Steve Parkhouse drew — but it just looks a little too human. And because the emotional arc for Harry in the season is going from being fully alien to learning emotions and slowly becoming more human, I wanted to make him look even less human so we had further to go. And it's so hard because you've seen so many versions of aliens that there's nothing you haven't seen. I have a picture in my head of what I think aliens look like, and we added some things like he's got the little arms which we added for fun. But mostly, I wanted him to look as [inhuman] as possible, so the audience just inherently knew that he's dangerous, and isn't like us. But also that they know that he's got a long way to go to be like us."

Credit: James Dittinger/SYFY

With such a strong cast led by Tudyk's fearless physical comedy inhabiting Harry, we asked what elements emerged as some of his favorites of the series. Sheridan quickly cited the dynamic between Harry and the lone town resident who can see him for what he truly is, young Max (Judah Prehn). Instead of the expected fear-based relationship, the two face off against one another like they're in their own private Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote series.

Sheridan laughs, saying: "I discovered [that] in the process of thinking about how I want these characters to come together. It's fun having the kid be an adversary and having Harry want to get rid of him. But to not be repetitive, you've got to find different ways to do that... He's gonna try to outsmart him and trick him. I like that they're combative and what's become funny in the show that we found is not necessarily the 10-year-old kid rising to Harry's level, but the 40-year-old man sinking to the child's level. When they're arguing or fighting, it's two 10-year-olds fighting. Harry doesn't know social norms. In the same way that kids are very immature, Harry's going through that same arc."

He's also quick to give kudos to the friendship between Asta and D'arcy (Alice Wetterlund) for adding a delightful layer of depth to the series. "I created the D'arcy character to help balance out the Asta character," he reveals. "Asta has a very dark storyline at first. And originally, I wanted D'arcy to be this ball of happiness and light to balance her out. What happened was then Alice Wetterlund came in, and she's a better version of what I wanted. She's so funny. She has a dark sense of humor and is very sardonic, and very sarcastic. And Sara is such a great actress that she can organically pull herself out of that darkness into D'arcy's lightness. And I feel like we don't see it enough, just two women on screen together, having fun and being friends and giving each other shit. And not just talking about men. They do that so well."

Looking forward to where Resident Alien and Harry's arc might go if it gets picked up for more seasons, Sheridan says he's already inspired by a storyline in the comics for the next arc. And he specifically held back on elements from the comics, like flashbacks to alien Harry's family back home, to save them for the future. "It's creating a little bit of that slow burn," he shares. "I do want Harry to be isolated. I want people to have the question, 'But what is it like there?' So that when we do it, or if we do it — and to be honest, I don't know yet, if we will, — we're answering a question from the audience, providing something that they really want at that point. And I think that'll help that process."

Resident Alien premieres on SYFY on Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. ET.

For All Mankind Season 2 Trailer Brings War to the Stars @ io9

The rules of engagement are changing for the second season of Ronald D. Moore’s alt-history space race series: because war’s coming to the moon. Maybe moon pirates, too?

Read more...

The Best New-Ish Movies You Have To Watch This Month @ io9

Top Pick: Tenet (Blu-ray, Digital) | $15 | Amazon

Read more...

Fiery first look at Mortal Kombat's big screen return, as director teases 'brutal' Easter eggs @ Syfy Wire

Finish them! A new Mortal Kombat movie has been in the works for several years now and while the COVID-19 pandemic threw a major wrench into the film's production, Warner Bros. saw it fit to finally give fans a first look at the violent video game flick (via Entertainment Weekly). Penned by Greg Russo (alleged scribe of Netflix's Death Note sequel) and Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984), the James Wan-produced adaptation was directed by newcomer Simon McQuoid.

"I wanted to make sure that everyone respected the material, the lore of Mortal Kombat, the fans and the love they have for this. Everyone was clear on it," the filmmaker explained to EW, adding that the film, which arrives this spring, most likely won't land a PG-13 rating. That's because the feature is going to depict some of the game's most iconic and gore-happy fatalities in the space of live-action for the first time ever. Expect to see some bodily bifurcation, spine extractions, or both.

"We've picked a couple of iconic ones," the director teased. "There's a lot of really cool signature moves that you'll see, a lot of Easter eggs that we snuck into the film, but there are some really badass fatalities that I can't wait to see on the big screen. They're brutal, man. They, they don't hold back."

Check out the production stills below:

In terms of plot, the 2021 iteration kicks off in feudal Japan with a 10-minute fight sequence that establishes a blood feud between the clans of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Bi-Han (Joe Taslim). The narrative then jumps to present day where audiences will meet a never-before-seen character, Cole Young (Lewis Tan). He's "a washed-up MMA fighter," according to Tan and realizes that he has a greater destiny when Sub-Zero (also played by Taslim) shows up to hunt Cole down on the orders of the evil wizard/empoeror known as Shang Tsung (Chin Han). It all culminates in "a high-stakes tournament to defeat the invading enemies from Outerworld," writes EW.

Mehcad Brooks ("Major Jackson 'Jax' Briggs"), Jessica McNamee ("Sonya Blade"), Tadanobu Asano ("Lord Raiden"), Ludi Lin ("Liu Kang"), "Max Huang ("Kung Lao"), and Josh Lawson ("Kano") make up the rest of the cast.

The long-running video game franchise received two big screen adaptations in 1995 and 1997, although neither of them was too well-received. Paul W.S. Anderson, (who would go on to direct features based on Resident Evil and Monster Hunter) directed the first one, which was a box office success, bringing in over $120 million against a budget of $18 million.

Originally scheduled to open this month, McQuoid's take on Mortal Kombat will now simultaneously open in theaters and on HBO Max Friday, April 16.


Sorry, Arrowverse fans: The pandemic has likely axed crossover plans for this year @ Syfy Wire

It’s become a hallmark of The CW’s Arrowverse to have a few heroes meet up, team up, and take on a super-sized baddie at least once every season — but don’t expect any big events this year.

There had previously been tentative plans to crossover Batwoman and Supergirl/Superman & Lois at some point later this season, but Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries told TV Line that COVID-19 protocols — effectively “bubbling” each production cast and crew in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus — has made any crossover hope effectively impossible this season. Because, well, they literally can't crossover.

“We’re not really able to cross over because physically, we can’t cross crews due to the fear of exposure to COVID,” Dries told TV Line. “So if Supergirl weren’t ending this year, I would say there would be more of a possibility. But I’m afraid that at least this year, we’re not going to be able to tap into that dynamic.”

Of course, derailing the Batwoman crossover doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to make some type of team-up work out this year somehow (though even that sounds unlikely at this point, so don’t count on it) — but the days of massive Crisis on Infinite Earths-like events seem to be on hold, at least for the immediate future. We’ve already heard The CW is still adjusting its production schedules to keep its super-shows on track, with the chance episode orders could be trimmed this year to provide more production runway to keep next season on track.

So at this point, put simply, we’re lucky to be getting any Arrowverse at all, considering [Gestures Wildly At Everything]. With vaccines being rolled out, here’s hoping that by the 2021-2022 season the creative teams behind the Arrowverse will have had time (and the ability) to cook up something truly special to bring all our favorite heroes back together. But for now, we’ll have to settle for a fresh batch of solo adventures. 

Batwoman returns January 17, Black Lightning returns February 8, The Flash is back February 23, Superman & Lois premieres February 23, and Legends of Tomorrow is eyeing a midseason return.

 

Mortal Kombat's Fascination With Blood Wants to Go Beyond Gory Fatalities @ io9

Although there’ll be plenty of those too, it seems.

Read more...

WandaVision fans spot a 'Grim' Easter egg in 2-part premiere as Twitter buzzes over mysterious beekeper @ Syfy Wire

The first two episodes of WandaVision are now streaming on Disney+, and they've already given viewers plenty to think about. In particular, the second, Bewitched-inspired episode has fans talking about a rather "Grim" Easter egg briefly glimpsed within the animated opening credits.

BE FAIR WARNED: The following contains major plot spoilers for the MCU series, so if you haven't watched the season premiere yet...well, what are you waiting for?

Ok, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? 

As the animated Vision (played in live-action by Paul Bettany) gets ready for work and phases his body through the ceiling and into the living room below, you can clearly see some bones and what appears to be a spiked helmet sitting sitting alongside the house's plumbing system. Numerous people on Twitter have pointed out that the helmet-looking object is identical to the headwear used by the scythe-wielding Marvel villain known as Eric Williams, aka Grim Reaper — a character who has a history with both Scarlet Witch and Vision.

In the comics, Grim Reaper offered to transfer the latter's mind into a human body and while Vision ultimately refused, the concept would still work nicely in a post-Infinity War/Endgame MCU, where Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is both grieving her lover's death and wishing she could bring him back somehow.

A broach worn by next-door neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) may corroborate the antagonist's inclusion.

That possible Grim Reaper tease brings us to the ending of Episode 2 and the appearance of a mysterious beekeeper, who inexplicably climbs out of a Westview manhole in the middle of the night. Who is it? The Reaper? Someone else entirely? 

We've got no clue right now, but the figure's mere presence clearly disturbs Wanda, and she immediately rewinds reality to a happier moment; one in which she and Vision realize that they're going to be parents. The unnamed beekeeper was the final exclamation point in a string of bizarre occurrences throughout WandaVision's retro season premiere. The titular characters can't remember how they came to live in such a quaint little town; a vibrantly colored toy helicopter intrudes upon the monochromatic sitcom universe; and someone is trying to contact Wanda through the radio, asking her if she can hear them and explain what's going on.

All of it gives credence to the theory that the TV show reality is a result of Scarlet Witch's grieving mind. She can't face the truth of Vision's death and has created a parallel dimension where they lived happily ever after. Moreover, if anything or anyone tries to penetrate that fantasy, she'll simply kick them out. One thing is for sure: something very strange is going on here and not all is what it seems. The various bits of promotional footage released so far have teased some kind of psychic barrier that seems to be monitored by the government or, most likely, S.W.O.R.D. (for more info on that Marvel agency, check out our recap of Episodes 1-2 right here).

The remaining seven installments will now be released on a weekly basis (à la The Mandalorian). To see what critics are saying about the show, click here.


The Week in Gaming: Lucasfilm Games' Star Wars plans; Cyberpunk 2077's next steps; Indiana Jones & more @ Syfy Wire

There’s a new, old Star Wars name on the galactic gaming horizon, and it appears to be greeting a whole new universe of future titles set in the galaxy far, far away (as well as some other George Lucas-created places).

Nearly two years after quietly reviving the Lucasfilm Games banner, Disney finally made some noise this week to share an early peek at some of the on-screen reasons why. After showing off a revamped logo and teasing that future game projects would all fall under the Lucasfilm Games umbrella, the studio revealed a pair of upcoming games with Lucasfilm roots: an open-world Star Wars title, and an Indiana Jones game from perennial western RPG publishing powerhouse Bethesda.

Manning the cockpit for the yet-untitled Star Wars game is publisher Ubisoft, via its in-house developer Massive Entertainment (the Swedish studio behind Tom Clancy's The Division 2). Of course it’s too early to expect tons of details, but Ubisoft already has at least revealed that it’ll be a “a unique game in the saga with a captivating story and set of characters that players can relate to and connect with” —  while taking “what is familiar and resonant about Star Wars and tell[ing] the stories of new characters who have their own motivations and stakes.”

While Ubisoft’s working on that, Bethesda’s in-house studio MachineGames (another Swedish developer whose recent résumé includes Bethesda’s Wolfenstein franchise) will be artifact spelunking in the world of Indiana Jones. Todd Howard, the Skyrim and Fallout publisher’s longtime creative maestro, will be overseeing the new project as executive producer. Bethesda teased that the new game would be “a wholly original, standalone tale set at the height of the career of the famed adventurer,” but other than that — and the appropriately Indy-cool teaser clip shown above — that’s about all the info we’ve gotten so far.

As fans have long known, EA has been the exclusive gaming epicenter for all things Star Wars since acquiring the licensing rights for new Star Wars games in the wake of Disney’s Lucasfilm buyout in 2012. That partnership’s yielded a handful of games that’ve won fans over (including recent hits like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars: Squadrons), but it’s also led to more than a few instances of putting out titles that, ahem, weren’t exactly the games anyone was looking for.

Just because the Force is awakening under the Lucasfilm Games label doesn’t mean that EA is done making Star Wars games. Rather, it simply means that Disney is going to shop its gaming options to studios throughout the industry, rewarding the best ideas with the green light to move forward with new projects. EA clarified its ongoing role in the Star Wars gaming galaxy this week by saying it’ll still be very much involved, commenting to Games Radar and other media that its Lucasfilm Games collaborations “will continue for years to come.”

As if to drive that point home, EA and developer Respawn debuted a performance boost for PS5 and Xbox Series X players of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order this very week. Released in 2019 for PS4 and Xbox One, Fallen Order is backward-compatible on both of the newer platforms, and next-gen console owners can now dive back into Cal Kestis’ adventure in a cost-free update that takes advantage of the newer hardware’s higher frame rates and resolutions.

Regardless of who’s developing it, and regardless of whether it’s Star Wars, Indy, or even something else (could a Willow game be in our future?), expect news of more Lucasfilm gaming goodies in the months ahead. Lucasfilm Games VP Douglas Reilly told StarWars.com this week that the label’s new approach to gaming content has been a long time coming, and that this week’s announcements are only the beginning.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff we’re ready to start sharing with fans,” he said, “because we’ve been working quietly behind the scenes for a while now, waiting for this moment.”

The best of the rest

A Cyberpunk mea culpa — and what's next

It’s well known at this point, but Cyberpunk 2077 players have gotten completely different mileage out of CD Projekt RED’s hugely-anticipated RPG depending on the platform on which they play it — with PS4 and Xbox One players definitely experiencing the worst of the game’s by-now well-documented last-gen shortcomings.

Wirth a lawsuit in the offing and even console makers themselves stepping in to intercede on fans’ behalf, CD Projekt cofounder Marcin Iwiński released a straight-to-the-point video this week, apologizing for the game’s last-gen console faults and pledging a path forward to a fix.

We’ve gone in depth about the game’s problems, as well as the studio’s mea culpa, elsewhere — even as we’ve tracked how great the PC-optimized version of Cyberpunk 2077 can be when it’s actually firing on all cylinders. But what happens next? Though the PS4 and Xbox One versions are backward compatible on PS5 and Xbox Series X, the studio already was planning on upgraded next-gen versions of the game before any of the last-gen playability issues surfaced, and there were also plans to bring an unspecified number of free, post-launch DLC add-ons to the game.

Credit: CD Projekt

According to the studio, those things are all still on track, though CD Projekt is staying vague for now on the extent to which the last-gen bug fixes — which clearly have taken priority — will delay the process.

“You can expect more in the way of patches — both small and large — to be released regularly,” the game’s Jan. 13 info update states. “The first update will drop in the next 10 days, and it will be followed by a larger, more significant update, in the weeks after. Our plans for supporting Cyberpunk 2077 in the long-term are unchanged, and we will continue to introduce updates and patches to give all players across all consoles and PCs a better experience with the game.”

PS5 and Xbox Series X players are still on track to receive bespoke, powered-up versions of Cyberpunk 2077, with the studio now targeting a release window of “the second half of the year.” As has been the case since first being announced, those versions will be free upgrades to any player who’s already bought a copy of the PS4 or Xbox One versions.

As for DLC, it appears as though all the patch work will delay new content, though the studio isn’t ready to say by how long. “We’re still planning on releasing free DLC for the game, just like with The Witcher 3,” the update states. “However, we have decided that our priority is working on the most important fixes and updates. We will be releasing free DLC afterwards — we’ll have more to say about that in the coming months.”

Assassin’s Creed…decoded

Move over, Star Trek and Game of Thrones: Assassin’s Creed fans have been delving so deeply into the mysteries of their beloved fantasy franchise that Ubisoft’s alt-history take on the secrets of the Knights Templar may just be finding its own seat at the deep-lore table.

In a mind-blowing revelation this week, Assassin’s Creed fan community Access the Animus revealed they’ve all but cracked the code behind Isu, the fictitious in-game written language that’s long been a part of the AC series. In a 30-minute YouTube video, the group breaks down the results of countless hours’ worth of fans’ deciphering efforts…and it should melt the heart of anyone who’s ever tried to speak Klingon.

Check it out:

Access the Animus on YouTube

Discussing Isu almost feels kind of spoiler-y to anyone who’s never played an Assassin’s Creed game, especially if they’ve only started with later titles. But it’s the latest release — Assassin’s Creed Valhalla — that offered up something of a cipher, as developer Ubisoft included some fragmentary translations that allowed sufficiently devoted players to begin working backwards to fill in the missing pieces.

Access the Animus has done just that, finding that someone at Ubisoft appears to have boned up on their Greek and Latin to construct a fictional modern-day language that holds up to the kind of scrutiny you’d normally expect in an advanced syntax and grammar class. The first video’s a deep, deep dive, but it’s also just he beginning: the group says it has more instructional clips planned, with the next one focused on helping players “to understand and translate the language” on their own.

Who knows? If the real world gets any crazier, there might be more than a recreational use for a secret language (with secret-society origins) that almost no one outside your trusted circle can translate or speak. Then again, though…probably not. Either way, just think of it as free online learning with some serious fan street cred — Assassin’s Creed style.

Spare parts

Ubisoft North America on YouTube

We can’t let the week pass without celebrating the long-awaited return of a game that pushes all our old-school buttons in exactly the right way: After going dormant following its 2010 release, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is back to rock current-gen players’ world in a new “Complete Edition” that (thankfully) alters its source material almost not at all — and it’s available as of Jan. 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia, and PC.

 

Resident Evil on YouTube

Don’t look now, but there’s a big gameplay reveal event set for next week that’ll serve up the biggest (and probably creepiest) look yet at Resident Evil’s first intrepid foray into the new console generation. Capcom has set Jan. 21 as the date for its planned Resident Evil Village online showcase. Tune in at 5 p.m. EST next week for “world-first gameplay and a brand new trailer for Resident Evil Village, plus much more Resident Evil news live as it happens.”

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter apparently needs a just little more time with the Sorting Hat before its upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X game is ready to cast that first spell. Warner Bros. and developer Avalanche Software revealed this week that the open-world action RPG Hogwarts Legacy has been delayed from its planned 2021 release to sometime in 2022.

 

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe on YouTube

Nothing to see here but 10 minutes of incredibly moody gameplay from publisher Bandai Namco’s horror adventure puzzler Little Nightmares II. Don’t be put off by those creepy school kids; they’re only clay effigies…but definitely do take off running when that twisted teacher cranes her sneaky, way-too-snaky neck to catch you before you can dive for cover. Little Nightmares II is set to release Feb. 11 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

 

Bloober Team on YouTube

This year’s first in a long line of next-gen Xbox exclusive games heads our way on Jan. 28, when The Medium weaves its split-reality horror tale for Xbox Series X/S. In the meantime, feast your eyes (if you dare) on this creepy live-action trailer, premiereing this week thanks to developer Bloober Team in conjunction with computer FX company Platige Image and Oscar nominee Tomasz Bagiński.

Firefly Is Still Great, But It's Not Quite What I Remembered @ io9

About 15 years had passed since I last spent time aboard the Serenity with Mal, Zoe, Wash, and the gang. But with plenty of free evenings during a global pandemic, I decided it was time to take another journey into the Verse and bring my adoring wife along for the ride. Oddly enough, she had never seen the show—even…

Read more...

WandaVision makes you care about Wanda and Vision's MCU love story like never before @ Syfy Wire

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here at long last, and it’s here in a most unusual way. Because Black Widow was pushed back and Marvel’s entire slate of projects was reshuffled, we begin the new era with the Marvel Studios fanfare streaming on Disney+, followed by two episodes of a comic book series that are delightfully weird and unexpectedly heartbreaking.

WandaVision depicts Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) together again for the first time since they were torn apart in Avengers: Infinity War (twice). They’re together now, but they’re also in some kind of sitcom dream world. It’s a big artistic risk, but never fear. The show uses the past of the MCU to pave the way for the future, and in the process, it gives us quality time with a couple that some of us didn’t know we needed. 

**WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for the first two episodes of WandaVision. If you have not watched yet, then get outta here, Dewey! This show isn’t habit-forming, but you don’t want this. Get OUTTA here!**

For the most part, the first two episodes of the series are a black-and-white sitcom homage. It’s part Bewitched, part I Love Lucy. It works quite well as just this, a sitcom about a witch and an android dealing with the android’s boss and his wife (Fred Melamed and That '70s Show star Debra Jo Rupp, respectively), as well as the neighborhood’s queen bee (Emma Caulfield Ford). At one point, Vision sings "Yakety Yak" as a diversion while Wanda conjures up dinner. What a merry romp! 

Something’s not right, though. The story of Wanda and Vision doesn’t make sense. There are gaps in it, something happened, and while we still have the image of Vision’s death (courtesy of Thanos) ingrained in our brains, that’s all we know, really. We never saw these two get married, and we didn't ever really see Wanda grieve. A little, but not much. In fact, with so many character journeys going on in the films, we didn’t see much of them together at all. 

The series gives us little reminders about where they came from. Wanda’s Sokovian heritage is mentioned (though her accent is well and truly dead), and faux commercials bring in both Stark Industries appliances and watches made by Strucker. The latter family (all HYDRA, all the time) was responsible for Wanda and her brother ending up the way that they did in the first place — tortured and superpowered. 

We also get a sense of what’s new in Phase 4. There’s some kind of presence outside of this fantasy world, with a voice buzzing in asking, "Who’s doing this to you, Wanda?" Teyonah Parris plays a woman named Geraldine, but we know that she’s actually Monica Rambeau, all grown-up from Captain Marvel. Wanda finds a helicopter toy (in color) in a bush following loud noises, and she also banishes a beekeeper that comes out of a sewer. She simply rewinds her show, has a pregnancy reveal, and then gets colorized along with her husband and their world. 

The logo on the side of the toy helicopter is unmistakably that of a sword, which means that the Sentient World Observation and Response Department (S.W.O.R.D.) is making its MCU debut. 

Trailers have already shown it, but there’s also clearly more to Kathryn Hahn than meets the eye. There always is. That’s the Kathryn Hahn promise. 

These references weren’t surprises. S.W.O.R.D. has popped up in promotional materials for the series, and it only makes sense for there to be some callbacks to prior history. Though we were overjoyed that the series committed to the oddball sitcom premise (for two entire episodes, mostly), we weren’t surprised by that, either. It’s not something Marvel could do in a movie, and even by the standards of the always-bonkers DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, it’s a bold opening. 

Buzz off, beekeeper, get OUTTA here! (Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney+)

What surprised us was the streak of heartache that runs through the laughs, and how emotional we got. We don’t want this fantasy disturbed. We thought that we wanted to finally see S.W.O.R.D. We know that Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) is going to appear, as well as Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). We thought we wanted them immediately. We still want all of that, just... not right now. 

We just want Wanda and Vision to be happy. Forever. Is that so much to ask? Though they are a hugely famous comic book couple, Olsen and Bettany's characters haven’t had much time to develop their love story in live-action. We cared about them, and Vision’s “death” in Infinity War is a ripper... but we got over it? We thought we did, anyway. Bettany doesn’t appear in Avengers: Endgame at all, and though Wanda does get to kick Thanos in his purple Grimace bottom ("You took everything from me"), we never really had any closure with the two of them.

Now they are back, they're being silly as hell, and that ol' android head wound is ripped right back open. It's wider than ever. Maybe it's pandemic loneliness talking but the adorability of these two makes us want to jump off of Stark Tower. They can’t remember getting married, so Wanda has rings magically appear on their fingers! Laugh, sigh, cry. Their chemistry is as crazy as the series itself, and with every laugh (either from us or the sitcom standard laugh track), there’s sadness. 

Some of us (not naming names) were choked up at multiple points while watching. This black-and-white sitcom riff had us teary because we know that this love is doomed. No amount of magical fakery is going to change that.

Or will it? We no longer care about anything else going on in this series. (We do, come on, but whatever.) All we want/need/demand is for Wanda and Vision to be together and happy. The witch and the android, in it 4 lyfe. Is that so hard? All we need is the smile in Olsen’s eyes when she looks at Bettany, who hasn’t been allowed to have this much fun since appearing in A Knight’s Tale

So yes, ignore those booms, Wanda. Rewind that tape and ignore the beekeeper. Ignore the entire MCU slate for that matter. Have Vision save Fred Melamed from choking (he's a national treasure, we're not monsters), but short of that? Let this fantasy continue. We want your love to blaze eternal. 

A new episode of WandaVision streams on Disney+ every Friday. Yakety Yak, Marvel's back. 


DC Comics reveals new 'Batman' miniseries and 'Green Lantern' series arriving this April @ Syfy Wire

Right now, most of the DC Comics publishing slate is in the throes of Future State, a massive effort that has catapulted the DC Multiverse and various versions of its heroes into visions of the future. By the spring, that will change, as DC releases its Infinite Frontier one-shot to set up a new era that lies beyond Future State, and with it a host of new series and new creative teams. We've already seen numerous announcements that paint a picture of what this era will look like, and today we have two more major launches from high-profile creative teams. 

Early Friday, DC revealed that writer Tom Taylor (Suicide SquadInjustice: Gods Among Us), who was already set to take over writing duties on Nightwing in the spring, will also team up with legendary artist Andy Kubert for Batman: The Dark Knight, a six-issue miniseries that will send Bruce Wayne on an international journey spurred on by a tragedy in the United Kingdom, and the rise of a brand-new villain.

"When editor Ben Abernathy and Andy came to me with an idea for a world-weary Batman leaving Gotham for Europe, I immediately thought of the great stories I'd read of an older, cynical Batman. But the challenge was finding the call to adventure for a Batman who's a little more jaded," Taylor said in a press released. "Fortunately, I already had something up my sleeve. I actually pitched a Batman idea to Ben Abernathy all the way back in 2012 and, nine years later, we were able to find a place for this in Batman: The Dark Knight. The idea was about taking something away from Batman that no one's ever tried to take before. And from that, a new, unique Batman villain was born. It's all about Equilibrium.”

You can check out two covers for the series launch, along with a peek at Kubert's interior art, in the gallery below. Batman: The Dark Knight #1 arrives this April. 


If you're looking for something a little more cosmic from your DC Comics this spring, you're in luck, because the publisher also took the opportunity Friday to announce a brand-new volume of Green Lantern from writer Geoffrey Thorne and artist Dexter Soy. Spinning out of the events of Future State: Green Lantern, the new series will follow fan-favorite Green Lantern John Stewart, as well as Young Justice "Teen Lantern" Keli Quintela and Far Sector Green Lantern Sojourner "Jo" Mullein as they embark on a journey that will help determine the future of the Green Lantern Corps and the universe it's sworn to protect. 

The story will begin with a short from Thorne and Soy in the Infinite Frontier #0 one-shot this March, and you can check out some of Soy's art for that story, along with a cover for the main series debut, in the gallery below. 

The Infinite Frontier #0 one-shot arrives March 2, at the end of Future State's two-month effort. Green Lantern #1 arrives a little more than a month later, on April 6. 

 

Friday's Best Deals: Switch Digital Games Sale, Amazon Basics Fitness Equipment, L'Oreal Sale, Aukey Webcam, Lacoste Sunglasses, Hydrogel Lip Masks, and More @ io9

GLAAD spotlights Batwoman as only broadcast show with an LGBTQ lead for new season @ Syfy Wire

As expected, the lingering effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can already be felt on the general landscape of television — especially when it comes to the subject of LGBTQ representation.

GLAAD's new "Where We Are on TV" report, notes that the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer characters has in fact decreased for the first time in four years, going from 10.2 percent to 9.1 percent, especially with some new series like ABC's Stumptown or Netflix's I'm Not Okay With This being renewed, only to get cancelled due to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Of all the broadcast series currently on the air, only one features an LGBTQ lead: The CW's Batwoman. The show made headlines last summer when lead actor Ruby Rose announced she would be departing the series, however, they've since found her replacement in actress Javicia Leslie, who will be playing the lesbian Ryan Wilder, the latest wearer of the bat cowl. (Leslie herself is an out and proud bisexual woman, a fact celebrated by many fans.) 

This means that once again, The CW boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regulars across their shows, with 14.2 percent of their characters identifying within the LGBTQ umbrella. This includes multiple characters in larger ensembles like DC's Legends of Tomorrow (Sara Lance, Ava, John Constantine, and Gary), as well as the one or two regulars that grace shows such as Black Lightning (Anissa and Grace), Supergirl (Alex and Nia), Charmed (Mel and Kevin), and even Nancy Drew (Bess and Lisbeth). 

But while the GLAAD report does note that the number of trans characters has decreased from last season, it also states that the percentage of those played by actual transgender actors has increased from 82 percent to 90 percent. Among those included in this number are newer characters like Supergirl's Nia Nal (AKA Dreamer), who made her debut on the superhero series last season. However, it is notable that next season will be the show's last, which will affect this number going forward. Similarly, Star Trek: Discovery also made history this year, by introducing the franchise's first trans and non-binary characters in Gray and Adira, played by trans actor Ian Alexander and non-binary actor Blu del Barrio, respectively. 

The report also highlighted the many strides that have been made in kid and family-oriented programming, with new shows like Disney XD's The Owl House making the news for featuring a bisexual lead character. However, it also pointed out that while much-lauded series like Cartoon Network's Steven Universe, Netflix's She-ra and the Princesses of Power and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, all featured meaningful representation and proved groundbreaking in their approaches, they also all aired their final episodes last season, which could cause the numbers to drop once more going forward. 

"LGBTQ-inclusive shows dominated the conversation in 2020, with series like Schitt’s Creek, Batwoman, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Veneno, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and others celebrating high viewership, critical acclaim, and passionate fanbases," said Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis in a statement. "However, with LGBTQ inclusion in the industry still being led by a concentrated number of creatives and several inclusive series ending in this year’s study, networks and streaming services need to be taking note of the value of this dedicated audience. It must be a priority to introduce nuanced and diverse LGBTQ characters in 2021 and beyond, ensuring that this year’s decreases do not become reverse progress as the industry continues to evolve and adjust to this unique era’s challenges."

Batwoman is set to premiere on Jan 17. on The CW. You can read the full GLAAD report here


 

WandaVision's Behind the Scenes Video Teases What's to Come (and That Gorgeous Retro Kitchen) @ io9

Sure, sure, we’re all interested in just what weirdness WandaVision’s first two episodes is cooking up for our titular sorceress and synthezoid. But also? We’re interested in cooking of a more literal sense.

Read more...

Rare Wolverine Spotted in Yellowstone for the First Time in Years @ io9

A camera trap set up to catch cougars prowling Yellowstone National Park has captured an even rarer creature. The park released footage this week showing a wolverine tearing through the forest, marking the first on-camera sighting since the camera traps were deployed in 2014.

Read more...

WIRE Buzz: 'A Writer's Odyssey' trailer stranger than fiction; Emma Thompson joins 'Matilda'; Avatar 2 @ Syfy Wire

A novel has the power to influence reality in the epic first trailer for A Writer's Odyssey. Basically Marc Forster's Stranger than Fiction, but with a lot more action, the Chinese film — previously titled Assassin in Red — follows Guan Ning (Peace Hotel's Lei Jiayin), a grieving father with special abilities who is hired by a shady tech company to kill a talented novelist (Ash is Purest White's Dong Zijian) whose writing prowess is able to shape reality itself. In exchange, the company will reunite Guan with his missing daughter. The movie was directed by Lu Yang (Brotherhood of Blades).

“I’m also a father. I wanted to make this film because I felt very touched by this topic of whether you’re willing and able to do anything for your own kid,” he told Variety over the summer. “It’s perhaps one of the most technically challenging films in Chinese cinema to date."

Watch the trailer below:

“I trust that our film has its unique elements that will still attract viewers ... The more lively things are and the more audiences go to the cinema, the better it is for the industry as a whole," Yang added. "People in the industry are all very concerned [about the re-openings], but we all know that we must first conquer this pandemic and let it pass. There’s no way to rank the industry higher than the pandemic, because of course that is most important."

Yang Mi (Tiny Times) co-stars. A Writer's Odyssey heads to U.S. theaters Friday, Feb. 12 in honor of the Chinese New Year.

Credit: CMC Pictures


Emma Thompson (Cruella, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and the young Alisha Weir are to be the stars of Netflix’s Matilda. The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Thompson will be joining the cast playing Miss Trunchbull, while 11-year-old newcomer Alisha Weir will play Matilda.

This casting news comes on the heels of Deadline reporting that Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) has been cast as Miss Honey, Matilda’s friendly teacher. Thompson’s character is a teacher as well, but those familiar with the Roald Dahl book and/or the 1996 movie version, know that Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress at Matilda’s school, is anything but nice.

Credit: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

This isn’t the first time Thompson has played a schoolteacher — Harry Potter fans may remember her rendition of Sybil Trelawney, Hogwart’s spacey divinations professor. Professor Trelawney, however, is the complete opposite in demeanor and temperament than Miss Trunchbull, so it will be interesting to see what Thompson does with the role.

No news on when the television musical will go into production or air on Netflix.


James Cameron's second Avatar film is still two years away, but executive producer Jon Landau is keeping our interest piqued with a steady stream of behind-the-scenes photos and production artwork. In his latest post to Instagram, Landau shared an image of a dwelling for the Metkayina Clan, a Na'vi tribe that resides near the oceans of Pandora. The concept piece was created by Jonathan Bach, a veteran of major genre projects like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ad Astra, and Army of the Dead.

"Tomorrow, as part of our Behind Pandora stories, we will be featuring concept artist Jonathan Bach," the producer wrote in the caption. "In advance of that, I thought I would share a concept illustration he created of the Metkayina village. This is just one of the many incredible images that he and the rest of our art department have created for the Avatar sequels. Thank you to everyone on the production design team!"

Take a look below:

Production on the four Avatar sequels was put on hold last year for several months as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a lengthy hiatus, Cameron and Landau returned to New Zealand over the summer and after a mandatory two-week quarantine, the cameras got rolling again at Stone Street Studios in Wellington.

Avatar 2 arrives in theaters Dec. 16, 2022, more than a decade after the first movie made over $2 billion at the global box office. Avatar was the highest-grossing film of all time, but was unseated in 2019 by Avengers: Endgame.


Vision: The Complete Series Is an Excellent Supplement to WandaVision and the Marvel TV Universe @ io9

The CW's Batwoman/Superman & Lois Crossover Scrapped Over Coronavirus Concerns @ io9

Doug Liman says it’s up to the stars if an Edge of Tomorrow sequel happens. Patrick Dempsey will be back for Enchanted 2. Swamp Thing won’t get a second chance on the CW, but its stars could on another of the network’s DC shows. Plus, even more Avatar sequel concept art, and what’s next for Charmed. Spoilers get!

Read more...

Dire wolf DNA reveals ‘Stark’ differences between Game of Thrones & real world @ Syfy Wire

From the very first episode, it was cuddly and cute to watch Jon Snow rescue a family of dire wolves, including his very own runt of the litter. An albino runt named Ghost, the loyal (if insanely large) canine would go on to grow up right alongside Game of Thrones most ill-treated Stark through the iconic HBO show’s eight seasons. But a new DNA sequencing has unraveled some of the mysteries of its real-world counterpart — and we’re pretty sure there’s not a ghost of a chance you’d want to adopt a real dire wolf as a pet…even if you could.

Thanks to a study published this week at Nature, some of our most cherished dire wolf takeaways from Game of Thrones are beginning to sound a lot like one big shaggy dog story. Not only were real dire wolves likely averse to the cold that pervaded the homeland of House Stark and its canine companions; they also may not have even been related to, or looked much like, the conventional grey wolves that provided visual inspiration for Ghost and his five siblings.

“I certainly don’t think the average dire wolf would have been excited about living in [House Stark’s] frozen Winterfell,” said the study’s lead author Angela Perri via NBC News. Perri is a zooarchaeologist at the UK’s Durham University, and, though she leads a 49-member team that’s shed fascinating light on what real-world dire wolves were really like, she’s also not reluctant about putting some of our cutest Game of Thrones fantasies on ice.

In Westeros, dire wolves look like upscaled versions of the luxuriously furry pack wolves we’re familiar with (at a safe distance, of course) here in this world. But before they went extinct from their North American habitat sometime about 12,000 years ago, the biggest thing real dire wolves had in common with their House Stark cousins was their gigantic size. DNA sequencing of a select sample among the thousands of real dire wolf fossils that’ve been discovered (including more than 4,000 just from the La Brea Tar Pits alone, according to WIRED) reveals that real dire wolves were short-haired, small-eared, and probably poorly-suited to cold climates.

They also didn’t share a strong common ancestry with the canid species we see today, according to the study. Through 5.7 million years, they descended from an ancient species so distinct from their canine counterparts that, at least near the time of their extinction, dire wolves and other wolf species likely couldn’t even interbreed. The inability to share species traits at the end of the last Ice Age may have even played a role in dire wolves’ ultimate extinction. “Dire wolves just didn’t have the ability to adapt, apparently,” said Perri.

We’re still learning how to adapt to the way things ended for Jon Snow as Game of Thrones came to a close. Even though he and Ghost had to part ways, at least Ghost managed not to go extinct. Last we saw, he was trotting off with Tormund Gaintsbane in Season 8’s fourth episode, making their way back north to rebuild the Night's Watch. With the series’ ending all but sentencing Jon to a life in permanent exile at The Wall, maybe he and Ghost finally got the reunion they deserve.

Another record-breaking quasar with a black hole that’s *too* supermassive @ Syfy Wire

Astronomers have found the most distant quasar yet seen, and, like a handful of others found at this distance, it presents a huge (literally) problem: The black hole powering it is far too big for how long it's been around.

The quasar is named after its coordinates on the sky, J031343.84−180636.4 (let's call it J0313 for short). It was found in a survey of the sky using Pan-STARRS, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, a relatively modest 1.8-meter telescope that nonetheless takes very deep images of the heavens, surveying the sky using different filters to get color information on objects. Very distant quasars tend to be bright in the red but emit very little light at blue wavelengths, making them a little bit easier to spot.

Once J0313 was identified as a candidate, the much larger Magellan and Gemini telescopes took a spectrum confirming the immense distance: The light we see from this object traveled over 13 billion years to get here, meaning we see it as it was about 670 million years after the Big Bang itself!

Artwork of a supermassive black hole, with different components labeled. Credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva

And that's a problem. A quasar is an object we call an active galaxy. Every big galaxy has a supermassive black hole in its core, and in some cases that black hole is actively feeding, gobbling down gas and dust and stars around it. This material forms a huge flat disk around it, which gets infernally hot. It glows so fiercely it can easily outshine the stars in the entire rest of the galaxy combined!

To make matter more intense (again, literally) the magnetic field in the disk winds up into twin vortices, like tornados, which pulls matter from the disk and blasts it away from just outside the black hole. If those beams are pointed more or less in our direction they make the galaxy even brighter. That's what makes the galaxy a quasar.

Artwork depicting a supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disk and magnetic corona, with powerful jets launching away in opposite directions. Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

Given the brightness of J0313 seen and its distance, the astronomers measure its total luminosity — how much energy it gives off — as 36 trillion times the Sun's.

That's... bright. It's nearly three thousand times more luminous than our own Milky Way. Oof.

So what about the supermassive black hole powering all this? In the case of J0313, the deep spectra taken by Magellan reveal the black hole's mass. As the matter swirls around the disk, some of the matter is headed away from us, so its light gets shifted to the red, and some toward us, which gets blue shifted. The amount of this smearing out of colors can be used to determine the mass of the black hole, and the number they got is soul-crushing: 1.6 billion times the mass of the Sun.

We know of lots of black holes with that mass, and some even bigger. But those have had billions of years to grow to that size. At best the one in J0313 is 670 million years old, and in reality somewhat less. How did it grow to such huge proportions so quickly?

This is an ongoing problem in cosmology. We've seen other quasars at roughly this distance, and they also have immense black holes in them, bigger than we think they can get in the short time (galactically speaking) they've been around.

Artwork depicting the wind of gas blown out by the extremely hot disk of material around a supermassive black hole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The problem is, black holes can only eat material so quickly. Matter tends to form those disks around them, and the disk is so hot that the radiation it blasts out hits the material falling toward the black hole and blows it away. For a given mass black hole, the rate at which it can eat is balanced by the radiation it emits, called the Eddington Limit. Eat too fast, and it cuts off its own food supply.

That in turn means it's very hard to get a black hole with over a billion solar masses that rapidly. There are several ideas on how to get around this, though. Perhaps smaller black holes form (with thousands or hundreds of thousands of times the Sun's mass) — seed black holes — and these grow rapidly and merge in the nascent galaxy. That can help a lot, though they still have to grow really rapidly.

Cygnus A, an example of an active gaalxy blowing two jets, as seen in X-rays (blue), radio (red), and visible light (stars). The two beams are clearly visible in the radio image, puffing out into huge lobes tens of thousands of light years across. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/AUI/VLA

It's not quite clear how this process works, though. We don't know of very many quasars at this distance (it's a big sky, there aren't many that far away, and it can be difficult to pick them out of a crowded area), but the fact that of the handful we see, they all have huge central black holes means they're growing somehow. I'll note that there may be quasars out there with lower mass black holes and less powerful emission, but they're fainter and harder to find. And finding them would just point out that sure, lower mass black holes can form, but still leaves the problem of how the truly monstrous ones do.

The galaxy itself surrounding the black hole is apparently cranking out stars at a rate a couple of hundred times what the Milky Way is doing, making it what we call a starburst galaxy. That may be tied in with the black hole's mass; lots of material in it to make stars and feed a hungry beast in its core.

Understanding all this is important. For one thing, we know that galaxies and their black holes grow together, so understanding one means understanding the other. But also this informs us on what conditions were like when the Universe was extremely young and still getting its start. On top of that, the light from these distant objects passes by closer objects to us on its way here, and how they affect that light tells us even more about the not-quite-so-distant Universe.

Now that we know it's out there, J0313 will be a prime target for lots of follow-up observations to learn more about it. These quasars pose a big problem, and the more we know about them, the more likely it is we'll figure out the solution.

WandaVision Opened With a Stylishly Old-Fashioned Web of Lies and Intrigue @ io9

The first of WandaVision’s many secrets is one that the new Disney+ series actually reveals to you in the premiere episode’s first moments. You watch as Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) and her longtime beau, Vision, beeline straight from the altar to their new suburban home in the city of Westview. The Visions’…

Read more...

Happy WandaVision Day! Get a Scarlet Witch and Vision Figure 2-Pack for $30 @ io9

Peter Mark Richman, prolific character actor across 8 decades, dies at 93 @ Syfy Wire

Peter Mark Richman, a prolific character actor who worked in the industry for eight decades and racked up over 150 credits, has died. Deadline is reporting that he passed away from natural causes at the age of 93.

His guest spots ran the gamut, with plenty of genre represented. One role was for "The Neutral Zone” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he played Ralph Offenhouse, a human financier who was cryogenically frozen in 1994 and awoken hundreds of years later by the USS Enterprise-D. 

Richman also acted in The Twilight Zone episode "The Fear," where he played Robert Franklin, a trooper who is dispatched to a cabin in the woods, where he and a recuperating New York City socialite face a mysterious alien force. He also guest starred as two different characters in two episodes of the sci-fi/horror series The Outer Limits: Professor Ian Fraser in "The Borderland" and Jefferson Rome in "The Probe."

Other notable television work included roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, Galactica 1980, and Knight Rider.

Richman's acting also extended to the big screen, including playing Charles McCulloch, one of the bad guys in 1989’s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

Later on in his career, Richman moved into voice work. He had several roles on Batman: The Animated Series (1994) and Superman: The Animated Series (1999). He also voiced Old Peter Parker in Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1996).

Richman is arguably best known for some of his recurring roles on television, especially playing Reverend Snow on Three’s Company and Lawrence Carson on Beverly Hills, 90210

An artist of many mediums, Richman not only acted on the large and small screen (as well as on Broadway), but also had several of his one-act plays produced, several of his novels and short stories published, and was an accomplished painter with 17 one-man exhibitions.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Helen Richman, and his five children. Memorial contributions in honor of Richman can be made to the Motion Picture Television Fund.

Director Doug Liman shares his excitement (and fear) about blasting into space with Tom Cruise @ Syfy Wire

Director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Jumper) is blasting himself and Tom Cruise into outer space to film his next movie. That’s right — outer space, a place that isn’t on Earth and doesn’t have the planet’s pesky gravity getting in the way.

The project had been confirmed in May, but we hadn't heard the director's thoughts about the ambitiousness of the production. Now, in an interview with Deadline, Liman shared how development on this unprecedented production is going.

“Things come out of our mouths like, we’re going to shoot this scene on Earth, or this scene won’t be shot on Earth,” Liman said. “That just gets uttered casually and often during prep meetings. That’s not lost on me, and I don’t think it’s lost on Tom. I think the reason that Tom is such a superstar is, as much as we’re talking about making a movie not on Earth, I think Tom very much has both of his feet planted on the ground. And more than anyone I’ve ever worked with, he appreciates the extraordinary opportunity he has to go make movies.”

Feet on the ground or not, the logistics of such a production sound daunting. Elon Musk, unsurprisingly, is involved to help make it happen, and Musk’s SpaceX capsule will be the production site for the non-Earth scenes in the movie.

And then, of course, there’s the unavoidable fact that Liman has to fly well outside Earth's atmosphere. On a rocket ship. Something only a handful of humans have ever done, and something that more than a few people would say would be more than a bit unnerving.

“I had been to the SpaceX launch in the beginning of the summer. It scared me, imagining myself in that rocket, venturing out into unknown places,” admits Liman, who piloted himself across the Atlantic to film his latest movie, Lock Down. “I thought the flight would be a good first step towards getting the courage to strap myself in that rocket with Tom Cruise.”

Flying a plane across the Atlantic, impressive as that may be, is still an Earth-bound endeavor. But Liman is no stranger to the exciting. “I like facing my fears. I love my films being an adventure. Earlier in my career, that caused friction with studios who didn’t quite get that, who maybe don’t want their directors treating the film like an adventure. I’ve since found like-minded people who celebrate that,” Liman explained. “Going into space, who doesn’t get that that’s going to be an adventure? So, rather than me changing to fit this corporate Hollywood approach, I have found the people in Hollywood who appreciate that I treat every film like an adventure.”

A real-life space movie starring Tom Cruise is certainly an adventure. No news yet on when this adventure will take place, much less make it to our screens.


WIRE Buzz: Tessa Thompson backing Who Fears Death; The Sparrow adaptation flies to FX; more @ Syfy Wire

Tessa Thompson has a new production company, and one of her first investments is in Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, a sci-fi drama series based on Okorafor’s book that had already been picked up by HBO and is being produced by George R. R. Martin.

Deadline reports that Thompson’s new company, Viva Maude, has established a first-look deal with HBO and HBO Max. Part of this partnership entails her financial support for Who Fears Death as well as HBO's Secret Lives of Church Ladies, an adaptation of a series of short stories by Deesha Philyaw.

“I’m elated to begin this partnership and to bring entertaining and impactful television projects to my friends and collaborators at HBO and HBO Max,” Thompson said in a statement. “Together we are committed to developing interesting and inclusive stories with inventive creators and to discover new voices and visionaries.”

Who Fears Death has been at HBO since 2017. The series will follow the story of Onyesowu, a young woman in post-apocalyptic North Africa who goes on a journey of self-discovery, including taking full ownership of the supernatural powers she wields.

No news on a development timeline for the series.


Speaking of book adaptations, FX has just announced it will be adapting Mary Doria Russell’s sci-fi book The Sparrow into a television series. According to The Wrap, Scott Frank — the writer and co-creator of The Queen’s Gambit — will write all the episodes of the show. Johan Renck (Chernobyl, The Walking Dead) is also on board to direct.

This isn't the first time that The Sparrow has been optioned for screen adaptation, or even the second. As of 2013, the book had been optioned at least three times, with a 2013 AMC option apparently going nowhere. The FX production seems to have more steam than the other attempts, however, given that Frank and Renck are already attached. 

What will this version of The Sparrow look like? The official logline of the show is below, and based on the description, it appears to hew closely to Mary Doria Russell’s novel:

“The Sparrow” follows a band of Jesuit priests and scientists, led by linguist Father Emilio Sandoz, who makes first contact with extraterrestrial life. The Vatican backs a secret trip to the distant planet with the purpose of proving the existence of God throughout the universe. Things don’t quite go as planned and the trip ends in disaster. Father Sandoz, the only survivor, returns to Earth broken both physically and mentally where the Vatican holds an inquiry into the now scandalous misadventure. 

Frank is currently working on the scripts, so there’s understandably no news yet on when the show will go into production and ultimately make its way to the small screen.


After 40+ years, the much-loved Disneyland annual pass program is coming to an end because of the impact COVID has had on the parks.

“In the next several days, we will begin the process of issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current Annual Passport program due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations and expected restrictions around the reopening of our theme parks,” Ken Potrock, President of Disneyland Resort, shared in a statement to annual passholders.

The annual pass program allowed Disneyland fans to pay a monthly fee and be able to access the parks on certain days each month, with higher-paying tiers able to visit on more days and also receive higher discounts on food, beverages, and merchandise.

There is a silver lining for passholders, however — Potrock's statement goes on to promise that something down the line will replace the old system, and that the new offering “will utilize consumer insights to deliver choice, flexibility and value for our biggest fans.”

What those details will be, however, remain to be seen. In the meantime, former passholders will still receive their discounts on food, drink, and merchandise until the replacement system is rolled out.


The Expanse Review: “Oyedeng” @ Bureau 42

We have a shorter review than usual this week, but much to discuss, as two small ships ponder taking on a navy, and a couple of characters bid “oyedeng.”

Title: Oyedeng

Director: Marisol Adler
Writer: Dan Nowak
Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Steven Strait as James R. Holden
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Sandrine Holt as Oksana
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Frankie Adams Roberta “Bobbie” Draper
Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros
Brent Sexton as Cyn
Bahia Watson as Sakai
Jasai Chase Owens as Felip
José Zúñiga as Bull
Olunike Adeliyi as Karal
George Tchortovas Leveau
Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart
Hayley Pace as Pella Crew #1
Emmanuel John Malok as Pella Crew #2
Phi Huynh as Pella Crew #3
Wilex Ly as Serge

Premise

The familial relationships on board Inaros’s ship become strained, and we learn more of Naomi Nagata’s backstory.

The Rocinante and the Razorback explore certain problems. Can the proto-molecule be retrieved? And why would factions on Mars secretly support and arm Inaros?

High Point

Naomi’s final decision in this episode requires significant resolve and some unpleasant sacrifices. I was wondering how plausible (or even possible) her maneuver would be, but it appears to be within the realm of possibility.

Low Point

The first half moves at a slower pace than most, without being consistently interesting enough to justify that pace. The second half pays off.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6 The episode gives us uncomfortable insight into Inaros, and the conclusion packs a powerful punch.

Story: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 We have another episode that sets up the pieces (to borrow a metaphor), while exploring characters. It is strong, but not as strong as the previous week’s installment.

In total, “Oyedeng” receives 36/42

Disney Is Doing the Weird Hybrid Movie Release Thing Now, Too @ io9

Well, well, well. Look who else is jumping on the “hybrid” release bandwagon.

Read more...

Disneyland Ending Its Annual Passport Program Makes So Much Sense @ io9

Disneyland just discontinued its Annual Passport program, and as an annual passholder myself, I must admit it’s a brilliant move.

Read more...

Important Toy News: Groundhog Day, Pac-Man, Groundhog Day, Sailor Moon, Groundhog Day, and other new toys @ Syfy Wire

Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that shows you all the best and coolest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week.

So start checking those couch cushions for coins and shekels — you're going to need them after you see the amazing collectibles we have in store this week! Join me, your resident if not favorite Toy Journalist, while we spiral down that tubular chute known as nostalgia. Because seriously, my toy loving pals, these retro toys are just too good.

Credit: Mattel

HOT HEEL-MAN AND THE MASTOYS OF THE UNIVERSE

First stop, Eternia! This week, Mattel is showing off some super cool He-Man and the Masters of the Universe wares that you can purchase today. Hot Wheels and Entertainment Earth are crushing it this week by giving MOTU fans a lift... a pick me up... something to ride. You get the idea.

For $37.99 (don't you love how affordable Hot Wheels are?), fans are treated to an entire case of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe character cars. The set comes with two Skeletor cars, a Man-at-Arms, a Beast Man, a Teela, and three He-Man mobiles. The He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Character Cars from Hot Wheels are in stock today, so race to Eternia and get yours today!

And if you're not quite ready to leave Eternia and still want more MOTU Madness, check out the Mega Construx Skeletor head building sets. Each of these evil skulls includes a buildable, micro-sized version of a vehicle, weapon, or a heroic or evil micro action figure. Choose from He-Man Jet Sled, Fisto Cliff Climber, or Trap Jaw Laser Cannon, with an interactive feature and authentic weapon accessories. The Mega Construx Masters of the Universe Skeletor Skull Case costs $59.99, ships in February 2021, and is available for preorder today.

Credit: Diamond Select Toys

BUFFY, TOY VAMPIRE SLAYER

From Eternia to Sunnydale, we're going to keep the fandom flag flying high! Diamond Select Toys is showing off two new statues that will make Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans squeal with vampire-hunting joy.

Showing the Buffster dusting a vamp with a handy wooden stake, this approximately 9-inch diorama is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Buffy costs $44.99 and ships in April 2021.

Angel is on his way as well, leaping into action in this all-new diorama based on the original BTVS television series! Has he gone fully evil, or is he just really mad? Who cares, because this 10-inch sculpture of the vampire with a soul features detailed sculpting and paint applications and is made of high-quality PVC! Angel costs $44.99 and ships in June 2021.

Credit: Bandai

SAILOR MOON ETOYNAL

Let us segue from Slayer Girl to Magical Girl, because fans of Sailor Moon were treated to the announcement of a brand new Proplica from Bandai! It's the Moon Kaleido Scope in a lovely silvery moon shade from the new movie Sailor Moon Eternal.

As a fan of Sailor Moon for 23 years, I still can't believe some of the beautiful proplica items that Bandai is releasing. I'm not even kidding, I was happy making magic wands out of painted sporks for the longest time as a teenager. Today, Sailor Moon fans enjoy an endless (albeit expensive) tidal pool of beautiful things. This specific wand features voice acting from Sailor Chibi Moon's voice actress from the new movie, which might make it the first proplica to feature modern voice actor recording.

The Sailor Moon Eternal Moon Kaleido Scope Proplica costs $179.99, ships in August 2021, and is available for preorder today.

Credit: Bandai

PACTION FIGURE-MAN

Speaking of Bandai, have you seen how it's celebrating Pac-Man's 40th birthday? Three new products have been announced this week and all of them are super radical and tubularly bodacious.

First up, we have the new 4-inch-tall S.H. Figuarts Pac-Man figure! He is articulated, poses dynamically, and the best part? He's only $20. Next up, Bandai is showing off a Waka Waka Pac-Man Proplica! This is a smaller Pac-Man, only 3 inches, but the mouth automatically opens and closes when rolled over a surface, triggering sound effects from the game! Variations include the ghost-chasing sound, pellet munching, and if you're lucky, the intermission scene music! The Pac-Man Proplica from Bandai costs $34.99 and is available for preorder today. And last but not least, my favorite: Chogokin! As a mecha and robot enthusiast, I love this so much. It's the iconic arcade hero from the '80s as you've never seen him before, re-envisioned as a giant robot with flying punches, a transformation feature, even a working cockpit! The four ghosts can be placed on the hands and the Pac-Man mini figure inside the cockpit. The Pac-Man Chogokin costs $89.99, ships in September 2021, and is available for preorder today.

Credit: Playmobil

VOLKSWAGEN BEETOY

Move over retro toys — it's time for retro cars, and today we're taking a look at what Playmobil has in store! It's the Volkswagen Bug and Volkswagen Bus playsets, and they are ready to take you to the beach! If there are two things I love in life, it's Playmobil toys and Volkswagen cars. (I love VW and won't drive anything else. In my fantasy land, I have a lineup of classic and current VW cars and I'm telling you, one day I will have my little red or white Cabrio. This will happen.)

Check out the newest additions to Playmobil and give these gifts of love to the VW lover in your life! The Camping Bus playset ($49.99) contains two Playmobil figures, a Volkswagen T1 Camping Bus with removable roof and suitcases, detailed interior with folding dining table, foldable back seat, side doors with mirror and space for food, and many other extras. The Beetle playset ($39.99) contains three Playmobil figures, a Volkswagen Beetle by Playmobil with roof rack, removable roof and tailgate that can be opened, surfboard, cool box, sand toys, and many other accessories.

Credit: Funko Games

HOT WEEL-MAN AND THE MASTOYS OF THE UNIVERSE — JUST KIDDING, THAT WAS A GROUNDHOG DAY JOKE

We've reached the end, my toy collecting friends, and next week we will be back to do it all over again. It sounds a bit like déjà vu, and a bit more like Groundhog Day... and we're going to commemorate this moment in game form!

"It's Groundhog Day, again!" says cynical weatherman Phil Connors, as he endures Feb. 2 over and over. Relive Phil's day round after round in this clever cooperative card game. Choose strategically how to react to the same obnoxious townsfolk and events as you get better at leading Phil's life. Win by playing out the perfect day in which a kind and charitable version of Phil wins hearts and can return to normal life! This exclusive bundle is the only way to get the Flocked Punxsutawney Phil Pop! figure! The Funko Games: Groundhog Day — The Game, with Flocked Punxsutawney Phil Pop! Figure, Amazon Exclusive Game, and Pop! Bundle costs $24.99, ships on Jan. 15, and is available for preorder today.

After Two Years of Frustration, NASA Finally Nixes Its Martian Mole @ io9

NASA has given up on the mole—a device that was supposed to dig deep into the Martian surface—after repeated failed efforts to make the system work. It was meant to be a major part of the InSight lander mission, but unfortunately Mars had other ideas.

Read more...

This Black Hole Is Really Taking Its Time Eating a Poor Star @ io9

On November 14, 2014, a telescope spotted a burst of light in a galaxy 570 million light-years away. It was thought to be a supernova, an arrestingly bright explosion that marks a star’s death. This week, astronomers revealed that the burst was not a supernova after all, but rather a black hole having dinner—one of…

Read more...

Disney's Squirrel Superhero Movie Is Here...No, Not That One @ io9

Disney just revealed the first trailer for a brand new superhero movie about a girl and her squirrel. But surprisingly, it’s not Marvel’s Squirrel Girl.

Read more...

WIRE Buzz: Patrick Dempsey back for Enchanted 2; Super Nintendo World delays opening; Duplass Bros. hunt for Sasquatch @ Syfy Wire

How do you know that you love her? Disney's Enchanted sequel is starting to enchant its principal cast. Appearing on Good Morning America Thursday, Patrick Dempsey confirmed that he's returning for the project (officially titled Disenchanted) which hopes to start filming this year.

"I just got the script for the second movie and I'm starting to go through and get notes together. There's talk that we'll start shooting that in the spring, which is exciting," he said, holding up his copy of the screenplay.

The actor will reprise the role of Robert Philip, a New York City lawyer who fell in love with Amy Adams' Giselle, an animated princess, who finds herself transported to the real world. "Amy Adams is so amazing in that film, it was a fun project to be a part of," Dempsey actor also told GMA.

Credit: Randy Holmes via Getty Images

Adam Shankman (Hairspray, Rock of Ages) is directing the sequel, which doesn't have a plot synopsis or release date just yet. However, we do know that it will be exclusively released on Disney+. Shankman has also been tapped to helm the Hocus Pocus sequel, which is also confirmed to be a streaming release.

Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie, Tarzan) directed the 2007 original, which garnered favorable reviews for its meta subversion of Disney tropes. Financially-speaking, the $85 million film went on to become a sleeper hit with over $340 million at the global box office. James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, and Susan Sarandon co-starred.


In a development that shouldn't surprise anyone, Japan's Super Nintendo World has decided to push off its opening amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Universal Studios theme park, which was inspired by Nintendo's greatest franchises (mainly the Super Mario titles) was originally supposed to open early next month. Even with several vaccines available to the general public, the number of inoculations — while promising — isn't able to keep pace with the rising number of viral cases. On top of that, new strains of the novel coronavirus have been identified and while they're not necessarily deadlier, they have proven to be more infectious.

Unfortunately, that all adds up to a delay of the park's grand opening.

Courtesy of Nintendo

According to Polygon, an "emergency declaration" was made in Osaka — where the park is located — following a new spike in COVID cases. Super Nintendo World will be able to open its gates once the state of emergency is over, but if this health crisis has taught us anything, it's that postponements can last for months at a time. For instance, Disneyland still remains dark after closing down last March, although its space is now being used to vaccinate thousands of California residents.


Hulu is expanding its cryptid footprint with Sasquatch, a three-part documentary series from the Duplass Brothers (Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home) and director Joshua Rofé (Lorena, Swift Current), the Disney-owned platform announced today. Premiering this spring, the non-fiction program explores a 25-year-old triple homicide that is said to have been perpetrated by the famous missing link: Bigfoot. A family-friendly Laika adventure, this ain't, folks.

Investigative journalist David Holthouse first heard the grisly tale while visiting a marijuana farm in Northern California in the early 1990s. On a nearby farm, the story went, three grown men were torn limb-from-limb. Now, almost three decades later, Holthouse "revisits the Redwoods twenty-five years later, in search of any evidence that might lead to the truth of what happened that night," says the official synopsis. "As he pulls at the threads of this story, he’ll be taken down a path that’s far more terrifying than anyone would have imagined."

Here's a first look image:

Credit: Hulu

Rofé directed the project and serves as an executive producer along with Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Mel Eslyn, Steven Berger, David Holthouse, and Zach Cregger. M. Elizabeth Hughes is on board as a producer.


Credit: SYFY WIRE

Why fans of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will be out-of-this-world in love with SYFY's Resident Alien @ Syfy Wire

Whether you watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for Olivia Benson's equal parts steel and empathy, the interpersonal drama, or just because you love a good procedural, one thing is for certain: You've watched a lot of SVU. That's what happens when there are 22 seasons and over 480 episodes — you binge. Luckily, you're not alone in your obsession. Harry Vanderspeigle, the narrator and lead character of SYFY's upcoming series Resident Alien, is a big binger. After all, he learned how to be human by watching Law & Order: SVU.

Kung Kung.

The catch, of course, is that Harry, played by genre superstar Alan Tudyk, isn't really Harry. He's an alien sent to Earth to destroy us all, which might make him a bit more of a perp in Benson's eyes than someone she'd want on her team. But after crash-landing in rural Colorado, he's stuck in the small town of Patience and forced to disguise himself as Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle. From there, he quickly finds himself unwillingly sucked into the local community after the town physician is found dead, and coming to terms with his newfound humanity requires a lot of legwork (literally) on his part. Luckily, he's got the tenacity of a true binge-watcher.

Harry loves a good sound effect as much as the next SVU fan — and incorporates the famous Kung Kung, usually when it's not quuuuuite appropriate. He also isn't afraid to get his hands dirty; he's equal parts detective and forensics expert, much to Sheriff Mike Thompson's suspicion. Sheriff Thompson is the kind of hard-nosed officer Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf would approve of, but he's not the only detective in town anymore. Harry's ready to solve any mystery with Rafael Barba-levels of stubbornness.

As SYFY's latest look into all things Resident Alien explains, there's plenty going on in this seemingly quiet town. There's drama, there's community, there's a seedy underbelly, and murder... Sure, it's not New York City, but in Patience, everybody knows each other's business — and that just makes the drama more interesting.

Resident Alien, starring Alan Tudyk, premieres on SYFY on Jan. 27.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premieres new episodes every Thursday on NBC.

Jack Kirby’s Son to Insurrectionists: Your Nazi-Ass Captain America Merch Sucks @ io9

Captain America is, famously, a comic book character not too keen on far-right violence.

Read more...

Holy windfall, Batman! Caped Crusader comic from 1940 sets new auction record with $2.2 million @ Syfy Wire

Never underestimate the popularity of Gotham City's Dark Knight. Fans are willing to spend a Bruce Wayne-like fortune for rare Batman memorabilia.

Heritage Auctions confirmed Thursday that a Batman #1 from 1940 (the debut issue in the hero's very first ongoing series) set a new world record this week with a massive $2.2 million sale during the first session of the Comics & Comic Art event. That makes it 1) the most expensive Caped Crusader comic ever purchased and 2) the most expensive comic book Heritage Auction has ever sold. The previous record-holder was also a Batman #1, which netted $567,625 at the Dallas-based auction house in 2013. Pitting Batman and Robin against Doctor Hugo Strange, the comic also featured the first appearances of Catwoman and the Joker, as well as a 2-page reiteration of the hero's origin story.

"We knew when the book came in that it was beyond special, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime offering — from appearance, its blindingly bright cover to its white pages, to provenance," Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President Ed Jaster said in a statement. "As I like to say, this is just a breathtaking book in so many ways. So we are not at all surprised that this has become a record-setting issue. But we are extraordinarily proud and honored to have brought it to market, to have done justice to its owner and to have found it a new home."

Credit: DC Comics

William Giles provided the lucrative item (rated with a 9.4 from the Certified Guaranty Company), which he inherited after his father's death in 2019. His dad, Billy T. Giles, bought the comic for $3,000 from Willie Patterson, owner of the Camelot Bookstore located in downtown Houston.

"It was time for somebody else to have it," William said in a statement of his own. "Dad would have been glad his story is being told — ecstatic, really. What he did to get that book and how he took care of it. He always knew it was the finest and would have been so happy it has been recognized as the very best. So I am thrilled that I can use it to honor my father. Sure, I am a little sad seeing the book go. But I wish the new owner the best and hope he or she enjoys it as much as I have."

Aside from the big first issue news, the opening of the Comics & Comic Art sale (running until this Sunday, Jan. 17) set a second Dark Knight milestone with $132,000 being paid for a Detective Comics #359 from 1969 (it famously marked the debut of Batgirl). According to Heritage, that total is "the most ever paid for a Batman title published from the mid-1950s until 1970, during DC Comics' Silver Age."

Credit: DC Comics


This Complicated Nintendo Hack Makes You Ride an Exercise Bike to Win at Mario Kart @ io9

From games like Wii Tennis to accessories like the Wii Balance Board, Nintendo has mad it possible to turn its consoles into fitness devices to help gamers get active. But hardware hacker Mike Choi may have just come up with the ultimate way to stay fit with the Switch by turning Mario Kart 8 Deluxe into a full-body workout

Read more...

The 10 Best Deals of January 14, 2021 @ io9

Matt Kindt weaves folk tales with super-assassins in first look at new comic 'Crimson Flower' @ Syfy Wire

Matt Kindt (Grass Kings, BRZRKR, Bang!) has carved out an impressive niche of provocative material over the past few years, allowing the Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated writer/artist to remain an independent wellspring of cutting edge comic book projects drawing the attention of visionary Hollywood producers.

With his Black Badge creator-owned title at Boom! picked up by Netflix for an upcoming TV series and Grass Kings optioned by Legendary Television, Kindt is back heading up a Dark Horse Comics series destined to emerge as one of the year's most intriguing offerings — and SYFY WIRE is striking first with an exclusive six-page preview of the premiere issue which arrives next week.

Crimson Flower is a four-part miniseries debuting on Jan. 20 revolving around a young woman's vengeful quest to unmask a mind-blowing Deep State conspiracy to recruit fairy tale monsters for a force of unstoppable assassins.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Written by Matt Kindt with artwork provided by illustrator Matt Lesniewski (The Freak) and colorist Bill Crabtree, each subsequent issue in the series will spotlight a revolving guest artist and collaborators including with industry luminaries like Malachi Ward, Patric Reynolds & Lee Loughridge, Marguerite Sauvage, and Tyler Bence & Bill Crabtree.

Crimson Flower unspools as a violent revenge saga centered around someone who finds relief in classic Russian folk tales following the loss of her family in a tragic murder spree. Seeking retribution against the man responsible for their deaths, she embarks on a perilous payback path that finds her uncovering a sinister government plot to weaponize fantasy creatures and employ them to raise children into state-funded super assassins.

"I really wanted to do a story inspired by folktales," Kindt tells SYFY WIRE. "I grew up on Grimm's fairy tales and as I got older I got fascinated by tales from other cultures. There are so many more stories. I've always loved the book Uses of Enchantment and its premise of why we have folk tales and the practicality of their existence to explain and caution children. So Crimson Flower is a kind of mash-up of that with Russian/Slavic folk tales which, rather than being used to warn kids or teach them life lessons - the tales are used to raise them into adult super-assassins. But as a result... the imagery of these folk tales bleeds into their sub-consciousness and twists their perceived reality."

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

"Really - just a great excuse for some amazing visuals," he adds. "I was a huge fan of Lesniewski's first book The Freak - and thought he might be perfect for this. The imagery and the twisted figures and distorted reality and perspective... it dovetailed perfectly with the twisted reality of this story. Definitely the strangest book I've ever been a part of - in the best way. Adding Bill Crabtree's experimental color choices and storytelling - it's the trippiest assassin-revenge-folktale you'll ever see."

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

When Lesniewski read Kindt's original concept for Crimson Flower, it instantly got him psyched to bring this crazy story to life.

"Retired assassins, twisted fairy tale-esque hallucinations, and an ongoing hunt for revenge — my mind flooded with dozens of ways I could attempt to do justice to this genius idea from Kindt," Lesniewski tells SYFY WIRE. "I was lucky to have a real breakthrough artistically while making this book, so I hope that helped illustrate the wild world of Crimson Flower — and I think it was the book that inspired the evolution! So, that should tell you something!"

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Now enjoy our exclusive peek at Dark Horse's Crimson Flower #1 (Jan. 20) in the full gallery below.

M. Night Shyamalan finds his TV groove with Servant Season 2's 'giggle'-inducing black comedy @ Syfy Wire

If you could pick a word that distills director M. Night Shyamalan's three-decade-long career, "roller coaster" is likely the most apt. From early high points such as the Academy Award-nominated The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000) to subsequent low points with The Happening (2008) and the live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender (2010), he's weathered them all and remains a remote-by-choice player in the Hollywood game. This has led him to Servant, his second television series, which starts its sophomore season on Jan. 15 on Apple TV+.

In a Zoom interview with SYFY WIRE from his suburban Philadelphia studio complex, Shyamalan is the first to admit that he's learned plenty from projects that tanked or didn't go the way he wanted. In fact, After Earth (2013) and his first TV series, Wayward Pines (2015-2016), turned into personal pivot points with regards to how he would proceed with all of his creative projects going forward.

Smaller endeavors shot in Philly with a focus on stories that are doable within the bounds of his creative responsibility have become the benchmarks for his involvement with any project now. "When I say, 'I own my films,' or, 'I own my shows,' I do them very small so I can iterate as fast as I can with no ramifications," Shyamalan explains about his homegrown approach. "With [Servant], we can reshoot anything we want. And we do. It's the same house and the same actors and we go shoot it again and on and on. We do that."

Servant is a perfect example of Shyamalan adhering to his new creative mandate. It's also a response in many ways to what he's made before, movies and shows that were born of compromises. Having seen how that turns out, Servant is about him, and his collaborators, following their creative guts.

M. Night Shyamalan directing Lauren Ambrose in Servant. Credit: Apple TV+

Last time we spoke, you had just finished the first season of Wayward Pines and you were honest about trying to find your way in the new medium. What did you take from that experience that influenced how you make Servant?

I would say I needed to do what I did in the movies, which is I decided to make smaller movies. I started that about six years ago. So I said my experience in TV was not the way I wanted it to be the first time. I asked [Fox] to shoot it in Philly and they said it would be cheaper to shoot in Agassiz [in British Columbia, Canada], so we shot it there. And there were a million factors. It was network TV and that was a whole thing. We had a final season that I had come up with, which I love, like blow your mind, love, but couldn't do it. And you know, all these things were just very upsetting. I couldn't execute it the way I wanted to ultimately.

And so I said, if I'm ever doing this again we're going to do this the way I'm doing my movies. I'm going to control it. We're going to do it smaller and I'm going to deliver the amount of material I think I can deliver. The half-hour format, the shooting here and owning it, and all of those things are part of the ability for me to have fun and control it. And if I'm gonna have my name on it, it should represent me. My limitations. That's what I say to everybody. It should represent my limitations, not any other circumstances. And so it's very exciting as we turned into the second season.

What was something from Season 1 of Servant that adjusted or changed how you approached Season 2?

I went, "Stop! We're not writing another episode until we figure out the whole show. This is a mystery and I can't keep telling a mystery until I know where we're going." That just for me, that's not for anybody else. It's just for me. And so we started to work everything out; all of it. I got writers and we started to work it all out. We were in the middle of it and shooting and we were starting to do it simultaneously and then the pandemic hit.

Depending on the project, the pandemic has either been a blessing or a curse. Was having a stop-down helpful for a show as enigmatic as Servant?

Yeah, it was one of those things that was for me and my process, it was exactly what I needed. I needed those months by myself to just work it through until I know the characters and I know that this is where I wanted to go. At first, I thought the pandemic would last four weeks and then I will be shooting in six weeks so I was racing. I had weeks to figure this out really quick you know, so I was writing and writing and writing and working it all out. It laid itself out in a way that I went, "Oh! I know what the remaining episodes need to be focused on and I know where we're going to go in Season 3." It moved from an idea with a kind of an inkling of where I wanted it to go to laying it all out.

Let's talk about Season 2 really diving into the black comedy of this heightened situation: of Dorothy's family trying to protect her from the truth about Jericho and instead they're just making everything unravel in the most ridiculous ways. Was there a concern it wouldn't jive with audiences?

I realized [black comedy] has been my instinct since I was a kid and I was not skilled enough to do it, was too scared to do it, or didn't have an environment that appreciated it. And so when I did The Visit, and I was like, "Screw y'all! I'm doing this openly. From now on. I'm gonna go down in flames, but we're gonna do a full, blown-out comedy/horror and that's all there is to it." I remember the screening, all the [focus audience] cards were like, "Am I supposed to laugh? I was laughing. Is this not working? Or this? Because I was laughing the whole time." And that tone started to grow and grow and grow 'til now. I do it all the time and in surveys, they don't go, "Oh, it's not working. I'm laughing at them." They know. It's dark humor, black humor; that's the tone. I love it. And so I want it everywhere. I enjoy it and it makes me giggle. My new movie is insane with that stuff. And I hope people know they're allowed to laugh.

Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and Toby Kebbell in Servant. Credit: Apple TV+

One of the unique elements of Servant is that it's essentially a haunted house series. The action happens within the Turner's home, or in Season 2, is at least tethered strongly to someone in the home via an iPhone. How did that become a mandate of the narrative?

At the core of all of this is my artistic belief that you have to limit the colors you're using. That's important. When I'm talking to a composer, I'll say, "Hey, you have too many ideas and too many instruments. You need to limit." And I'll say that to the writers, always limit, limit, limit, and then paint with those limited colors. Apple, I think, for a long time didn't realize how serious I was that we're gonna be doing this whole thing from [the house]. And then I think some of the writers, too. I was like, "Nah, we're never leaving. We're never leaving it."

Anecdotally, one of the directors had storyboarded a scene that was in the script, but it was outside the house. And they went, "I'm gonna do it from the character's point of view about their feelings of the space." And I'm like, "They can't do that. I'm sorry." And then they were very upset. I said, "I'm sorry. You've got to use the phone." Even the DP was all sad, but I'm like, "'Dems the rules!" [Laughs.]

Your daughter, Ishana Shyamalan, directs and writes on multiple episodes this season. How was it being a dad as an executive producer with his daughter/employee?

I treated her the same as all the directors. I feel very avuncular to everybody that comes on [the show]. Even if they're older than me, I feel that way about everybody. I handpicked them. And I'm there to talk cinema with them. I'm there to encourage them to take risks. I'm encouraging them to get rid of their bad habits. And so, I'll say, "Hey, if you're gonna do a scene with two mid shots, we're gonna have a problem." They're gonna explain to me why they feel medium and then they feel the same medium. You're not going to have an answer, and so in that moment, know that you've abdicated your position as an artist, as a storyteller, before you come to me, because I'm gonna call you on it.

You need to take risks, you're gonna need to commit, you're gonna make mistakes, and we're gonna reshoot those mistakes. That's the fact. That's where we are. I'm going to do the same thing. And that's going to allow you to iterate as much as you want, as fast as you want. I said the same thing to her. And I didn't really bother her on the set too much. I didn't want to hover. But I knew it was going to be a moment. I knew how talented she was. I was bringing in a ringer. And I know that Apple, they didn't say anything, but I'm sure they were like, "Yikes. Uh-oh. This is where the train starts going off the tracks. This is where the insanity starts, right?" I was like, "Just trust me on this." And then, swear to God, when they saw her episode they went, "That may be our favorite episode." And I was like, "I told you and that wasn't me." I did what I did on all the other episodes: I supervised everything, and I edited it but I didn't do anything different than I did for any of the other directors.

And then she came in and did rewrites and then she wrote Episode 7 and then she wrote a lot of Episode 8 and then she wrote the finale, Episode 10. It's amazing. She became a huge part of the team and the storytelling. The only reason I don't get her more is she's still finishing up college. [Laughs.]

You've said Season 1 was about what happened to Jericho and Season 2 is about the cult. Since you've outlined Season 3, what is the theme of what's to come?

Oh, wow! I mean, can I tell you? I know and I've been saying it to the writers. I'm just thinking, I don't think I can tell you. But you will know exactly where we're going in the finale of this season.

Servant Season 2 premieres on Jan. 15 exclusively on Apple TV+, with new episodes premiering weekly every Friday.

I've Read All Of These

0 (old) items have been hidden because you clicked "I've Read All Of These".

Show All?