Every Easter egg and reference in Episode 1 of HBO's Watchmen @ Syfy Wire

1p>HBO’s Watchmen is not a direct adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, but it is, obviously, very much beholden to it. Set in 2019, three decades after the events of the original comic, Watchmen tells a new story in the same world. But, there are lots and lots of references to the comic, both overtly in terms of the plot and through some clever Easter eggs and allusions. Getting all those Easter eggs and references in there was a conscious effort on showrunner Damon Lindelof’s part, with loads of help from pretty much the whole cast and crew.

“Everybody was assigned with the task of looking for Easter eggs, to look for opportunities,” Nicole Kassell, who directed the first two episodes of the series, explained to SYFY WIRE. “And, if we found a good one, we would pitch it to Damon, and see if he liked it or not.”

Some of the Easter eggs — like a drop of blood staining a policeman’s shield, à la the Comedian’s badge — are pretty obvious, while others are quite subtle. Kassell says that in one scene in a later episode, the color of flowers Regina King’s character holds are a reference to a bouquet in the book. Several shots, while maybe not outright Easter eggs, were intentionally framed in ways to evoke the original comic’s aesthetic, a nod to co-creator Dave Gibbons art. 

“There are literal frames where I would set the camera and the set dresser would run up with a picture from the book and say 'is that the shot?' And I would go, ‘yeah,’” Kassell says. 

So, finding every single Easter egg in Watchmen is going to be a tricky task — what counts as an Easter egg, exactly? That said, here’s every Easter egg or otherwise interesting bit of trivia that we caught in the first episode that seemed worth pointing out. This list will be updated when, inevitably, other fans spot additional Easter eggs. 

**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for the first episode of Watchmen below**

Credit: HBO/DC

BASS REEVES LOOKS LIKE HOODED JUSTICE

In the opening scene, set in a movie theater right as the violence of the Tulsa Race Riot breaks out, a young boy is watching a silent film about Bass Reeves, the first black marshal west of the Mississippi River. Reeves was a real person, but in the movie, with a black hood and whirling around a rope tied into a lasso, he looks a little like Hooded Justice, one of the original Minutemen from the comics.

IT’S SUMMER AND WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF ICE

The title of the episode is a lyric from the song “Pore Jud Is Daid,” from the musical Oklahoma!, which just so happens to be the state where Watchmen takes place. The musical makes a few other appearances in the episode, as we hear the song during the end credits, and Chief Judd Crawford watches a staging of the play that they refer to as “Black Oklahoma.” Given the TV series’ focus on race and appropriation, it’s a fitting, somewhat meta Easter egg.

TRANSITIONS

The transition from 1921 to 2019 is the first of many clever or interesting transitions between scenes that Kassell told SYFY WIRE were intentional. “That book is so brilliant for the jump cuts and match frames,” she said. 

ELECTRIC CAR

The car the Seventh Cavalry member is driving has a prominent battery gauge, implying that electric cars are standard in Watchmen’s version of 2019, likely a result of Adrien Veidt and Doctor Manhattan’s technological advances. Elon Musk, eat your heart out.

RORSCHACH MASK

The Rorschach-inspired masks the Seventh Calvary members wear are likely too integral to the main plot to be called Easter eggs, but it’s worth noting that the “ink blotches” on their masks do not change shape the way the original Rorschach's did, having been made from a special fabric.

TICK TOCK SOUND

After the Seventh Cavalry member shoots Officer Sutton, the clicking sound of his emergency lights flashing sounds like the sound of a clock ticking, which, given Watchmen’s use of clocks as a motif, is likely intentional. 

Credit: HBO

DOCTOR MANHATTAN IS STILL ON MARS

When Chief Crawford visits Sutton’s wife to inform her about the shooting, we see a blurry glimpse of Doctor Manhattan destroying a castle he built on Mars, having apparently stayed there ever since the events of the graphic novel. Apparently, there’s a 24/7 stream of his Martian activities. 

SMILEY FACE

When giving a demonstration about baking, Angela Abar cracks eggs in the shape of a smiley face, another of the original comic’s iconic motifs. 

VIETNAM IS A STATE

Angela grew up in Vietnam, which the teacher notes is a U.S. state, as was the case in the comic too. Following Doctor Manhattan winning the war for the U.S., Vietnam was made the 51st state. If you look throughout the episode, you’ll note that the American flags are different, since there’s gotta be room for an extra star in this reality. 

Credit: HBO

CLASSROOM POSTERS

Inside the classroom, we get quick glimpses of two posters. The first teaches students about the “anatomy of a squid,” implying that the supposed extra-dimensional squid monster who attacked New York City in the ‘80s is part of the school curriculum, which makes sense. There’s also a poster about four important U.S. presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon (who in Watchmen served for five terms) and actor Robert Redford, who succeeded Nixon in office and has served many progressive terms. More on all that in a second.

SQUID RAIN

As Angela and Topher drive home from school, alarms blare and suddenly thousands and thousands of tiny little squid rain from the sky. Angela is pretty nonchalant about the incident, implying that it’s a regular occurrence. But, given that the squid that destroyed New York was a hoax created by Ozymandias to unite society against a common enemy, it’s unclear who is responsible for the squid rains — presumably some person or agency committed to continuing the ruse.  

ANGELA’S PAGER

Angela learns about the Seventh Calvary shooter when she gets a page, because despite many fantastical inventions, neither cell phones nor the internet were invented in the world of the Watchmen TV show. Also, the alert “Little Big Horn,” is a reference to General Custer’s last stand, as the masked white supremacist terrorist group named themselves after the 7th Cavalry Regiment he led into battle against Native Americans. 

AMERICAN HERO STORY

In the real world, we have American Crime Story, which dramatizes events like the O.J. Simpson trial or the assassination of Gianni Versace. In Watchmen, there’s apparently American Hero Story, and the upcoming season or special about the Minutemen is looking like it’s going to be a big deal. It appears that Hooded Justice is being framed as the most important Minutemen, which is interesting. In the comics, it always seemed like Captain Metropolis, Owlman, or Silk Spectre were the more central figures. 

Credit: HBO/DC

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT SIGN

When Angela heads into Greenwood, she walks by a man holding up a sign that says “the future is bright,” an optimistic counterpart to the sign Rorschach carried in the original comic when he wasn’t in costume, which read “the end is nigh.” Kassell told SYFY WIRE that the Easter egg goes even deeper, too. “He's got red hair. That's definitely an homage to Rorschach carrying his picket,” she said.

NEWSPAPER HEADLINES

When Angela enters her bakery (which is called “Milk and Hanoi Bakery” and has the cringeworthy motto “let Saigons be Saigons"), we see that she’s being observed by a mysterious old man in a wheelchair. He’s reading the newspaper, and there are three notable headlines on the front page.

“KKK VANDALISM FORCES STATUE OF LIBERTY CLOSURE”

The text of the accompanying article appears to be unrelated to the headline, since the newspaper is just a prop, but the headline reveals that despite Redford’s progressive presidency, there’s still quite a lot of racism in Watchmen’s America, to the point where the Klu Klux Klan got the Statue of Liberty shut down.

Credit: HBO

VIEDT OFFICIALLY DECLARED DEAD

Adrien Viedt, the genius businessman and one-time costumed hero (who, unbeknownst to the public, murdered 3 million New Yorkers in order to unite humanity), has officially been declared dead, which is curious. The text of the accompanying article reveals that he has been “formally declared ‘presumed deceased,’” so it’s unclear why his survival is a mystery, or for how long that’s been the case. It does not appear as though the general public knows the truth of his role in the squid attack, so there’s no reason to think that he would be a villain in the public eye. 

BOISE SQUID SHOWER DESTROYS HOMELESS CAMP, KILLS TWO

The squid rains are apparently not just limited to Tulsa.

ANGELA’S PASSCODE IS “1985”

When Angela goes into her secret lair inside the bakery, she punches in the numbers “1, 9, 8,” and “5” to open the lock — presumably a nod to the year that the events of the original Watchmen took place. 

Credit: HBO/DC

REDFORD WILL NOT SEEK ANOTHER TERM

When Angela, uh, assaults and kidnaps a suspected Seventh Cavalry member, there’s a quick shot of a newspaper with a headline declaring that Robert Redford will not seek another term. A panel from the graphic novel shows another newspaper headline speculating that “RR” will run in the 1988 election. While in real life, another “RR,” Ronald Regan, eventually became president, another, more liberal alliteratively named actor ascended to the office in Watchmen’s reality. If he was elected in ‘88, Redford will have already served eight terms at this point. 

“...AND WE’LL WHISPER ‘NO’”

There’s a riff on a famous Watchmen quote in the Seventh Cavalry’s manifesto video the Tulsa police watch. “All the whores and race-traitors will shout ‘save us,’ and we’ll whisper ‘no,’” one of the masked white supremacists says, echoing Rorschach’s “all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘save us’” line. 

Rorschach wrote the line in his journal, which he gave to the conservative New Frontiersman before heading off to his death at the end of the graphic novel. The comic ended in a cliffhanger, but the show implies the Frontiersman did indeed publish its contents, which is how the Seventh Cavalry learned the quote and were so inspired by Rorschach. 

“In the world of Watchmen, the actual Rorschach disappeared. Nobody knows that Doctor Manhattan blew him up at Karnak, and all they have to go on is this journal which may or may not have been published by sort of a fringey publication in a pre-internet world,” Damon Lindelof explained in an interview with SYFY WIRE. Rorschach might not have been a white supremacist himself, but he’s not around to object to what the Seventh Cavalry is doing in his image. 

“QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES”

At the end of the meeting, Chief Crawford recites the Tulsa Police’s mottos, which is Latin for “Who Watches the Watchmen” — the phrase that inspired the name of the whole series in the first place.

Credit: HBO

OWL MUG

Angela, now in costume as Sister Night, is drinking out of a coffee mug shaped like an owl when she’s waiting for Chief Crawford in his office. The mug, which Kassell tells SYFY WIRE was “not scripted,” is a little Easter egg referencing Nite Owl, the hero(s) from the original graphic novel.

UNDER THE HOOD

Also in Crawford’s office is a copy of Under the Hood, the tell-all book written by Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl who fought crime with the Minutemen.

NIXON ON MOUNT RUSHMORE

When Looking Glass is interrogating the Seventh Cavalry suspect, one of the images he flashes on screen reveals that Richard Nixon’s face has been added to Mount Rushmore. 

9/11

Looking Glass also flashes an image of the New York City skyline, and the Twin Towers are still standing. It does mark a dark sort of sense that 9/11 wouldn’t have happened in the Watchmen universe, especially after the squid attack.

Credit: HBO/DC

BLOOD COMING OUT FROM UNDER THE DOOR

When Sister Night assaults the Seventh Cavalry suspect, we don’t see any of the violence directly but we do see a puddle of blood spill out from under the door. A similar thing happens in the graphic novel, when Rorschach, before escaping from prison, excuses himself to go to the bathroom where he murders the diminutive gangster Big Figure. 

CLOCK PARTS AND CANCER 

The exact details of the Seventh Cavalry’s plan are unclear, but it involves them harvesting parts from watches, another allusion to the comic’s clock motif and Doctor Manhattan’s backstory as the son of a watchmaker. Later, we hear Angela and Chief Crawford talking about how the watch parts were from the old, now-illegal style of watches, with synthetic lithium that’s said to cause cancer. Doctor Manhattan and Adrian Veidt's big technological breakthrough involved synthesizing lithium, though it appears that the misconception that Doctor Manhattan gives people cancer has lead to the batteries being outlawed.  

Credit: HBO

DOLLAR BILL

There’s a vintage poster for Dollar Bill, the Minutemen-era hero who fought crime on behalf of a bank chain called National Bank. It’s worth noting that the poster is, well, super racist, which probably explains why the white supremacists in the Seventh Cavalry have it on their wall. 

THE OWLSHIP (COMPLETE WITH FLAMETHROWER)

The Tulsa Police have an aircraft that appears to be modeled after the second Nite Owl’s Owlship. How they obtained the vehicle is a mystery, as are Nite Owl’s whereabouts in 2019. The police’s Owlship takes out a plane with a flamethrower, the original Owlship’s signature weapon (thankfully, “Hallelujah” isn’t playing this time.)

Credit: HBO

RIDING A PALE HORSE 

After another artful transition, the episode then turns to Jeremy Irons character. HBO and the people involved in making and promoting Watchmen have all but confirmed that Irons is playing Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, though that’s technically not official.

In any case, when “The Lord of the Manner” rides up to his castle, he’s seated on a pale horse. In the graphic novel, a band named Pale Horse was playing at Madison Square Garden the night that Veidt’s squid attacked and killed three million people. In the incredibly likely event that this is indeed Ozymandias, the pale horse seems like a reference to his horrible past.

Credit: HBO/DC

NOSTALGIA 

There’s a glass contraption on The Lord of the Manner’s desk that resembles a bottle of Nostalgia, a perfume that Veidt Enterprises made. Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre, famously threw a bottle of Nostalgia at Doctor Manhattan’s giant palace on Mars, causing it the crumble into dust.  

OZYMANDIAS’ COLORFUL CAKE

The cake the Lord of the Manner has a bite of is frosted in the same color scheme as Ozymandias’ old superhero costume. Like, it’s Adrian Veidt. 

THE WATCHMAKER’S SON

The name of the play that the Lord of the Manner has written for his two servants is titled “The Watchmaker’s Son,” meaning it is likely about Jon Osterman, who was a simple watchmaker’s son before a freak accident transformed him into the nigh-omnipotent Doctor Manhattan.

AMERICAN HERO STORY COMMERCIAL 

A commercial for the upcoming American Hero Story shows a quick, animated glimpse at all the original Minutemen: Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Captain Metropolis, Hooded Justice, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Silhouette, and The Comedian.

SENATOR JOE KEENE

When Chief Crawford takes his last ride, a voice on the radio mentions Senator Joe Keene, an as-yet-unseen character who will be played by actor James Wolk. Presumably, Joe Keene is the son of Senator John David Keene, the politician behind the Keene Act which outlawed costumed crimefighters in 1977.

Credit: HBO

THE POLICE SHIELD WITH BLOOD ON IT

The last show of the episode is about as un-subtle an Easter egg as you could imagine, but it’s a good one. Chief Crawford has been murdered, and a drop of his blood drips onto his police shield in almost the exact same shape and placement as the drop of blood that Rorschach discovered on the Comedian’s smiley face button after his murder. 

Did you spot any Easter eggs that we missed? You probably did, because there are so many Easter eggs in this show. Politely let us know in the comments!

Half of Tonight's Walking Dead Was Fantastic, the Rest Was a Saved by the Bell Episode @ io9

And if that craziness doesn’t make you want to check out this damn show again, I don’t know what will.

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Pill-popping fun on this week's The Walking Dead @ Syfy Wire

1p>In the span of 48 hours, dozens of waves of zombies have come at Alexandria. They are small enough not to cause damage, but big enough to keep the citizens busy. After 48 hours of continual fighting, everyone is exhausted, and patience is frayed. At the 49 hour mark, there seems to be no end in sight. But then Gamma shows up with the next wave, and informs Michonne that Alpha wants to see them, sans weapons, at the border. After much argument within the community, Michonne decides they will meet Alpha. Gabriel will be in charge of the gate and the northern herd, while Aaron will take a group to head off the southern herd. Michonne, Daryl, Carol, and a few others will go meet Alpha.

 Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Gabriel forces Aaron to take Negan with him to kill. Negan is just as happy to stay at Alexandria and work on the farm, for fear that misplaced anger will be directed towards him. But Aaron's anger is very well-placed. He blames Negan for the death of Eric, and has never gotten over it. They fight, and Aaron won't let Negan have anything more than a broomstick. Negan earns a little bit of trust when he warns Aaron of a couple walkers that come out of nowhere. One of them gets Aaron good, and it is covered with a weed that impairs his vision. Aaron blindly fumbles his way into a crumbling house, where Negan sits quietly in the dark. He waits until a couple zombies come after Aaron, and kills them. He helps find Aaron a chair and promises to keep watch until morning. 

At the border, Michonne and the others lay down their weapons. Carol, however, still has a gun hidden in her waistband. She has also been popping pills and not sleeping... so you know that will become a problem. When Alpha appears, she is pissed that they have crossed her border three times. They have to be punished. But Alpha won't spill blood; she takes context into consideration. Instead, she wants more land. Carol gets mad because the land they want will cut into their hunting territory. She insists she feels nothing towards Alpha, so Alpha provokes her by saying that Henry called her name before she cut his head off. Carol snaps and pulls her gun. She shoots and misses. Alpha forgives her, "mother to mother."

 Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

The group moves out and set up camp for the night. Carol goes off by herself when she sees three Whisperers approach. She shoots, they run, and Daryl and Michonne come running. They set off to capture them, but can't find them. They hole up for the night in an abandoned school with a horror movie vibe. Carol will take first watch and pops a pill. The pills are making her hallucinate. She sees Daryl telling her a story about his father having hallucinations when he was a truck driver, but when Carol "wakes," Daryl informs her his father never drove a truck. She takes another pill and insists she wants to sit watch for another hour. 

Carol sees a shadow and chases it. She ends up getting caught in a trap with Whisperers on her tail. She tries to fight them off, and cuts herself loose. She lands a few kill shots, cuts herself on some broken glass, and yells for help. Daryl collects her and they return to Alexandria, where her cut is tended to. This is meant to make you wonder if this fight in the school is real or a hallucination. Michonne doesn't believe that the Whisperers were there. Daryl claims he believes her, but he doesn't sound so sure.

In the closing scene, we see two dead Whisperers in the school, and a trail of blood, leading us to Gamma - who got away.

 Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Aaron's arm

Aaron is basically the post-apocalyptic version of Ash Williams. He lost his arm a few seasons ago, and now has a big metal prosthetic with spikes all over it, useful to bash in the heads of wily walkers.  It is bad-ass. I hope that one day, should I ever lose a limb, I am comfortable enough with myself to get a really amazing prosthetic like that (or something more useful in a non-apocalyptic world).

Carol is a drug addict

Which impresses me. After ten years, the fact that there are any drugs left is pretty surprising, let alone "feel good" drugs. All the "maybe these are hallucinations, maybe not" scenes makes me wonder if I am hallucinating.

Siddiq

There were a few scenes of him having flashbacks, having PTSD incidents, but they all went nowhere. It was more annoying than useful, but I feel as though I should mention it.

Gaming: Jedi: Fallen Order expands Star Wars canon; Stranger Things renews D&D craze; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>With anticipation mounting for EA Games to deliver a single-player Star Wars experience that can finally give the galaxy far, far away a proper moment in the spotlight after years of small-scale diversions and false starts, the release of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is finally less than a month away.

Thanks to a recent batch of last-minute previews ahead of Fallen Order’s debut next month, we’re getting some cool new insights into how the ambitious-sounding game is adding to the Star Wars universe with canon-approved new characters and locations — including a new pair of planets that young Padawan Cal Kestis, the story’s hero, will have to visit.

**SPOILER ALERT: Gameplay, setting, and character details for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are discussed below. Turn back now if you want to take on the game with fresh eyes!**

The latest previews for Fallen Order take Cal to Zeffo, a “windswept” new planet that’s “home to a variety of indigenous beasts, such as the ram-like phillak, which doesn’t think twice about introducing intruders to its trio of sharp horns,” as well as the slow, gigantic “Tomb Guardians, towering golems that protect the planets’ sacred crypts,” according to StarWars.com.

Little is known about Zeffo beyond it role as an Imperially-controlled destination Cal must infiltrate to make off with some heavily-guarded data, but we know even less about Bogano (not to be confused with the moon Bogan), another planet that’s making its first appearance in the Star Wars universe. Present right at the start of the game as Cal’s initial point for setting off, there’s a distant dragon-like beast in the distance on Bogano, according to Gamespot, serving as a high-level tease for what you might face on a later return visit.

When it comes to new characters and how they’ll factor into the story, EA has shared only teases. There’s a new four-armed species called the Latero, according to Starwars.com, introduced by Greez, a “cranky and comedic” pilot who slings insults at BD-1, Cal’s new-to-the-franchise droid sidekick.

EA Star Wars on YouTube

In addition to role-playing elements (there’s a skill tree where you spend XP to level up your offensive and defensive skills, as well as your Force powers), Fallen Order also asks Cal to cultivate the kind of moves typically associated with a third-person platformer. Running, jumping, and timing your dodges and blocks appears to play a big part not only in defeating enemies, but also in accessing areas that only a budding Jedi (or better) could reach.

Gaming types who’ve gotten their hands on the latest demo are pretty much uniform in their optimism for how Fallen Order is shaping up, after months of speculation about whether EA can recapture its old-school Star Wars magic. The rest of us won’t have to wait long to see for ourselves: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order warps onto the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Nov. 15.


Lucas and Mike might be outgrowing Will’s interest in sinking tons of precious free time into the marathon Dungeons & Dragons campaigns they loved as kids. But the Stranger Things phenomenon has reportedly had an unforeseen consequence on this side of the Upside Down: a resurgent real-world interest in old-school D&D guidebooks, along with spiking prices for Stranger Things fans looking to get their hands on well-preserved originals. 

Polygon reports that D&D guides released in the 1970s and 1980s have seen a fresh “flood of demand [that] has driven prices for old D&D books and sets skyward at an unprecedented clip” since Stranger Things first re-introduced the classic pen-and-paper RPG to a new generation of fans.

“[R]ecently, we’ve seen eBay auctions go for two, three, five times more than they should for the condition that they’re in,” Chicago-area game store owner Floyd Wesel told Polygon. “…[W]e’ve seen eBay auctions go for two, three, five times more than they should for the condition that they’re in.”

While nostalgia from older fans may be driving part of the fresh interest in throwback D&D sets — many of which were released in lavish custom packaging — newer fans also pursue vintage D&D guides in order to tap into a significant part of gaming’s deep roots. “I’d argue that these younger folks look at these books and sets like they’re fetish objects, or artifacts of a previous era,” Wesel explained. “It’s not actually about the game; it’s about owning a piece of history.”

Even if you don’t have tons of cash to spare on a wood-encased D&D set from the earliest days of pen-and-paper gaming, you can at least take a shortcut by watching the Hawkins gang take on the Demogorgon. All three seasons of Stranger Things are streaming now at Netflix.


Okami, the critically-acclaimed, fan-adored tale of a wolf who’s tasked with literally repainting the world, might be more than 13 years old. But it still routinely shows up on “best-of” lists — not only for PlayStation 2 titles, but for every game of every era, period. So when the creators behind the adventures of the four-legged Amaterasu begin making noises that suggest they’re interested in taking the wolf by the tail once more, longtime fans tend start freaking out a little. 

That’s just what happened last week after original Okami director Hideki Kamiya tweeted out a tease proclaiming “Okami is going to be back," adding that “We want to make [an] Okami sequel and fans are looking forward to it too. You guys want to see Kamiya’s Okami again, right, everyone? I want to work on it too!” 

While the tease of a new Okami sent fans into a frenzy, the gaming press mostly reacted with an incredulous side-eye, speculating that Kamiya’s simply trying to whip up support that could compel Capcom, the current license holder, to green-light a new game. Capcom’s stayed quiet on what the tease might mean, according to Polygon —  so for now, if you want to splash back into Okami’s Japanese folklore-inspired watercolor world, your best option remains snagging the HD-upgraded original, which is available now at the Nintendo Switch eShop.

 

Let's Unpack Watchmen's Explosive Premiere in This Spoiler Discussion Zone @ io9

HBO’s Watchmen is so packed with multiple meanings and pieces of social commentary about anti-black racism in America that it begs to be picked over and discussed, if only so that viewers can get a sense of how it’s possible that we all took completely different things away from the first episode.

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Here's A New, Appropriately Gruesome Look at Vin Diesel in Bloodshot @ io9

Blood. Shot. You know, those two words together conjure up an image. So, when scrolling down, you can probably imagine what you’re going to see.

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The Martian is getting eerily real, because Earth crops can actually grow in lunar and Martian soil @ Syfy Wire

1p>Whoever is going to survive on the Moon and Mars is going to have to eat. There’s just one problem. Much like astronaut Mark Watney in The Martian, astronauts and eventual space colonists who leave terrestrial soil are going to need to grow that food in extraterrestrial soil.

Our species has now proven that plants from Earth can actually grow and even thrive in Martian and lunar regolith. After planting seeds in Mars and Moon soil simulants prepared by NASA, a research team at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands were able to cultivate 10 crops that don’t grow naturally anywhere outside of this planet. Not only that—most of the crops, with the exception of spinach (which you probably wouldn’t care about anyway) were edible.

“Food can and will be brought along, but for a permanent stay, production of crops on Mars or the Moon to supplement or even supply the food demand could be a necessity,” said the team in a study recently published in Open Agriculture.

Andy Weir obviously did his research with The Martian. As he was writing the novel behind the sci-fi movie that could soon be more science than fiction, the author went to every length to make sure the movie was as close as you could get to being scientifically accurate, minus a few things about the spacesuits.

The Wageningen research team might have not used astronaut poop to fertilize their plants (yet), but they did add nutrients to the two soil simulants by using organic matter. Think stems and leaf cuttings from the first harvest to give the second generation a sort of multivitamin. Will poop be needed as legit fertilizer on Mars? Probably. Other than that, the garden cress, arugula, tomato, radish, rye, quinoa, spinach, chives, peas, and leeks generally did very well in both the Moon and Mars regolith, though there were a few differences.

By the way, all plants were grown in a greenhouse like any other, in normal levels of Earth gravity and light, with no change in the atmosphere.

Biomass ended up being highest for the organic Earth soil control group. So was the capacity to hold water. Those two things were kind of expected, but many of the materials lunar and Martian regolith is made of are actually very similar to what we have here on Earth. Mars beats the Moon slightly here. While lunar soil has trace amounts of nitrogen and ammonium, Martian soil contains both plus a boost of carbon. The radish, rye, and cress were the best at germinating, a major plus on a planet too far away to get regular shipments from Earth.

The downside of both simulants was that they had a high pH, with that of the lunar soil being so high that it could get in the way of plant growth. Also expected.

This is just more evidence that science is getting so close to sci-fi, it’s scary.

(via Wageningen University)

James Gunn defends Marvel movies again, this time against Francis Ford Coppola @ Syfy Wire

1p>James Gunn has become a guardian in his own right when it comes to superhero movies.

It’s been only a few weeks since Martin Scorsese spoke out against Marvel movies, calling them "not cinema" and comparing them to theme parks. Now a fellow director not only agrees with Scorsese’s comments but took it a step further.

Reported by EW, Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola spoke in Lyon, France, where he received the Prix Lumiere award. He said, “I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Much as he did with Scorsese, the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad director took to the internet to defend the movies that have been synonymous with his career since 2013. He posted the following on his Instagram feed:

 

 

Gunn is only one of many people quick to defend the MCU. Samuel L. Jackson and Karen Gillan have both spoken out, as has Avengers director Joss Whedon. It will be interesting to see who else "enters the fray" when it comes to the value of superhero movies.

 

The Next Into the Dark Holiday Extravaganza Is a Disastrous Thanksgiving LARP @ io9

Maybe just don’t dress up as a pilgrim. It’s not ever going to go well.

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Taika Waititi Still Plans on Directing Akira, Eventually @ io9

Western anime adaptations are always fraught and complex, but few have been as troubled in their development as Akira. Recently, it was delayed due to director Taika Waititi’s major commitments elsewhere. And while some viewed that as another death knell on another failed adaptation of Akira, Waititi isn’t so sure.

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The Batman Has a Composer, and All It Took Was an On-Stage Proposal @ io9

Most movies get their composers in normal, behind-the-scenes deals. Some calls, some emails, probably some demos. You know, business stuff. The Batman is a bit different.

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'Completely amazing': First reax to The Mandalorian on Disney+ are out of this galaxy @ Syfy Wire

1p>This weekend, members of the press got to view the first half-hour of The Mandalorian, and their initial reactions are very promising for the live-action Star Wars series that premieres on Disney+ in just a few weeks. We do need to underscore the fact that they only saw 30 minutes of an episode, but even with such a small taste of the highly anticipated project, they were able to discern that executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have made the real deal.

Taking place after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens, The Mandalorian is basically a space western, following the adventures of a lone gunslinger (Pedro Pascal) operating outside the purview of the fledgling New Republic. Pascal is just one sliver of the program's ensemble cast, which is comprised of: Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Ming-Na Wen, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi.

"I saw the movies in the movie theater as a child. We were the first generation with all of the toys and the bedsheets. To have someone as brilliant as Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to invite me into project of theirs that is breaking new ground ... I'm in good company," Pascal told us in August at the D23 Expo in California.

Based on the tweets below, you can expect some great production values and plenty of callbacks to the original trilogy, like Scout Troopers and possibly the laughing Muppet in Jabba's Palace known as Salacious Crumb.

Season 1 of The Mandalorian debuts the same day as Disney+, Tuesday, Nov. 12. While the series will normally air one episode a week as traditional TV shows do, its worldwide premiere will reward fans with two episodes on the 12th.

A second season is already in production.


Box office: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil bewitches the top spot with $36 million, knocks Joker to second place @ Syfy Wire

1p>Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil knocked Joker out of first place at this weekend's box office with $36 million domestically.

While this was enough to secure the Sleeping Beauty-inspired sequel the coveted top spot, the fantasy film was only able to muster half of what its predecessor made, which was just over $69 million, during its three-day debut in theaters back in 2014. In foreign markets, the project enchanted $117 million for a global tally of $150 million.

Helmed by Joachim Rønning (half of the directorial duo behind Pirates of the Caribbean 5), Mistress of Evil sees Angelina Jolie returning to the titular role of a classic Disney villain, who—thanks to the last movie—is now a tragic figure with multiple dimensions. Elle Fanning (Princess Aurora), Sam Riley (Diaval), Imelda Staunton (Knotgrass), Juno Temple (Thistlewit), and Lesley Manville (Flittle) also come back to play their original characters. New faces include: Harris Dickinson (replacing Brentown Thwaites as Prince Phillip), Michelle Pfeiffer (Queen Ingrith), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Conall), and Ed Skrein (Borra).

Despite being removed from the reigning slot to second place, Todd Phillips' dark and grounded take on the Joker is still going strong, with an added $29 million from North American theaters. To date, it has laughed its way to $257 million domestically and  $737.5 million globally.

As Forbes pointed out yesterday, Joker has already surpassed Fox's Logan ($619 million) in international grosses and is already one of the highest-grossing R-rated films of all time. If it continues to perform as it has these last three weeks, it could unseat the first Deadpool ($801 million) for the title of biggest R-rated money maker in history.

In third place, we have Zombieland: Double Tap, the long-awaited sequel to 2009's Zombieland, with $26.7 million domestically. That's a little over $2 million more than the weekend opening of the first film, which went on to feast on the brains of $102 million all around the world. The project brings back director Ruben Fleischer, writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, and the ensemble cast of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin.

Over the last 10 years, everyone involved with the initial Zombieland has gone on to do great things, be it winning Oscars (e.g. La La Land) or raking in hundreds of millions of box-office dollars (e.g. Deadpool and Venom). Double Tap expands the cast to include Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, and Thomas Middleditch.

Two smaller genre openings this weekend come in the forms of Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit (released by Fox Searchlight) and Robert Egger's The Lighthouse (released by A24). The former made $350,000 from a limited debut in New York and Los Angeles, while the latter made $419,764 from eight U.S. theaters. 

Based on Christine Leunens' novel, Caging Skies, Jojo Rabbit is a coming-of-age comedy set during World War II, where a member of the Hitler Youth (Roman Griffin Davis) learns to reject the bigoted ideology of Nazi Germany when he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Waititi, who co-wrote and directed the film, also plays the main character's best friend, an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler.

"[Charlie] Chaplin was doing it 80 years ago," Waititi told SYFY WIRE, addressing the question of whether one of the most evil men in human history can be portrayed as funny. "So I don’t know if it's too soon. Or is it not soon enough?"

Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Rebel Wilson, and Alfie Allen co-star.

Directed by co-written by Eggers (The Witch), The Lighthouse tells the story of two lighthouse keepers (played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who slowly begin to lose their minds in 18th-century New England. Adopting a black-and-white color palette as well as a smaller aspect ratio, the small-scale (not to mention bonkers) psychological horror film is an overt throwback to old-school cinema.

Credit: Fox Searchlight & A24

(via VarietyBox Office Mojo, & The Numbers)


NASA achieves first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch @ Syfy Wire

1p>NASA made history on Friday with the first all-female spacewalk conducted by American astronauts, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. This was Koch's fourth spacewalk and Meir's first.

The seven-hour mission resulted in the replacement of a defective battery charger on the International Space Station's truss structure, which brought back "power capabilities for station operations and ongoing research" for future manned trips to the moon and, eventually, Mars.

"For us, it's just coming out here and doing our job today," said Meir, the 15th American woman ever to spacewalk, in a statement from outer space. "We were the crew that was tasked with this assignment. At the same time, we recognize that it is a historic achievement and we do, of course, want to give credit to all those that came before us. There has been a long line of female scientists, explorers, engineers, and astronauts and we have followed in their footsteps to get us where we are today."

"I think it's important because of the historical nature of what we're doing and that in the past, women haven't always been at the table," added Koch (via CNN). "It's wonderful to be contributing to human spaceflight at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success. There are a lot of people that derive motivation from inspiring stories from people that look like them and I think it's an important aspect of the story to tell."

“Congratulations, Christina and Jessica, on this historic event," said President Donald Trump in a video message from the White House, which can be seen in the video above. "What you do is really something special. So first the moon, and then we go to Mars."

"Today's achievement paves the way for our #Artemis program that will send the first woman to the Moon in 2024!" wrote NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Twitter. He followed that up with "Ad Astra!"—a Latin phrase that means "To the stars," which served as the title for James Gray's recent spacefaring odyssey with Brad Pitt.

Koch and Meir will participate in a live, 30-minute press conference tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 21) to recap the momentous event. It is airing on NASA Television and the agency's website right here.


A Mom Rates All The Characters In Fire Emblem: Three Houses Based On Their Looks @ io9

I don’t know much about the Fire Emblem series, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying a Twitter thread that has recently gone viral. Created by Twitter user eiouna, the thread is all about their mom and what she thinks of all the men featured in the most recent Fire Emblem game, Three Houses. The thread is a…

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Exclusive: Brian W. Foster dishes on Critical Role’s new show UnDeadwood @ Syfy Wire

1p>Over the last year, Critical Role's growth beyond its humble beginnings as a home game-turned-weekly Dungeons & Dragons stream on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel hit new heights, fueled by the opening of a dedicated studio. Now fans don’t have to wait until Thursday for their weekly dose of Critical content —now they can enjoy a regular release of unique programming.

From short helpful series like Handbooker Helper to long-form interview programs like Between the Sheets, Critical Role is experimenting with formats and shows, providing a variety of options to fans and growing the brand. That expansion continues this fall with an impressive programming schedule that includes a new four-episode series called UnDeadwood.

UnDeadwood uses the Deadlands Reloaded RPG system for a show set in the town Deadwood. The series follows a group of characters “brought together to fight an evil they’ve never encountered—and will fight to save their souls in the process,” as the synopsis explains. Run by game master Brian W. Foster (Talks Machina, Between the Sheets), UnDeadwood features Ivan Van Norman, Khary Payton (The Walking Dead), Anjali Bhimani (Overwatch), and Critical Role cast members Marisha Ray, Matthew Mercer, and Travis Willingham.

The first episode aired Friday and will continue to air the next three Fridays on Critical Role’s Twitch channel, with the YouTube video available the following Sundays and a podcast form available the following Fridays.

SYFY WIRE has the first YouTube video of UnDeadwood that you can watch exclusively right now below.

We caught up with Foster to find out more about the show, what fans can expect as the series continues, and how this fits in with the growing Critical Role brand.

What sparked the creation of UnDeadwood?

I’ve been a fan of the Deadwood TV show since it was on back in the early 2000s. I loved the show so much, it’s one of the reasons why I became a writer and moved to L.A. in the first place. I always had a special place in my heart for it. Then Matt Mercer years ago had run a charity one-shot where he experimented with [Deadlands]. Deadwood is actually in the Deadlands setting. There is a version of Deadwood there that’s really fun and interesting. Matt did a mashup there. I thought that would be really fun to do, and he said, “You should do one of these because you’re such a Deadwood fan. You know all the lore and everything.”

I thought about it a little over a year ago, but we had just launched our studio and the only way to do this would be to do this very ambitiously. So I brought in Ivan Van Norman and I said, "Help me figure out how to do this," because he had done large-scale episodic high-production-value tabletop stuff before. I loved his work and knew he was the only person that could help us figure out how to make this go from a whiteboard to what you’re going to see. The two of us got together about eight months ago and started just talking story. Then building from there, he taught me the system and the rules and we started figuring out the cast. But it began with just my love of the show and then mashing that with both of us really love the Deadlands Savage Worlds system.

What about the system was appealing about using it for the show? How much did you test it out before jumping in?

We did a lot of testing. The folks at Pinnacle who publish the game were so awesome. We called them very early on and said, this is what we’re doing, but we’re going to homebrew some of it. We want to adjust it. For us, the story is the most important, and the players having fun while they’re doing it is the most important. That’s what translates to a good show. They gave us a lot of room to create what we wanted to. We played a few test games. Ivan played one with Marisha and I where we just made our characters one day in the conference room and ran through the game for a few hours.

What attracted me was that a lot of it is so success or failure. There’s not a lot of dice. You basically just use one or two dice the whole game and it’s a very “Can I do this?” “Well, roll and we’ll find out. Yes or no.” It’s very black and white. It’s almost very Western in that way. It’s very cause and effect. Very blunt. The dice act as an agent of chaos. They’re a blunt instrument in our world. They can give you the world or take it away from you in a moment, and with this game it’s so blunt. I just thought it’s the gritty harsh reality of a western and the wilderness. It made a lot of sense rather than making a version of a D&D fantasy where everybody plays a rogue or whatever. That wasn’t really appealing to us. The Deadlands system was exactly set up for people who wanted to play a game like we ended up doing.

What made you want to GM instead of being a player on the show, and what was the experience like?

I can tell you, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, as they say. I’ve been DMing a home game for about a year and a half of D&D, and I actually have a split-off game, so there’s two. That I’m used to and it was a small group. But this is a completely different thing because you’re on camera and it’s a completely different game system that I wasn’t as familiar with as I am D&D, so there’s a big learning curve. I knew that I also had Ivan with me and I had Matt Mercer at the table, so I was in very capable hands if there were moments where I felt like, “Am I doing this right?” We had mapped everything out pretty well.

It’s really funny because I hate watching myself back on stuff, and as we’ve been editing this show I am so into the performances that everyone’s doing that I look angry for half of the show because I’m not even paying attention to my notes or what I’m supposed to be doing, because I also never DMed for anyone at that table. I had collected this all-star cast of extremely capable people and then had never run a game for them before, so I found myself continuously getting lost in their performances. I would say that was and is the biggest takeaway for me from this, running that game, was just being able to sit there and in a small way facilitate the absolute undeniable chemistry and magic and hilarity and sadness and triumph that is the performances that you’re going to see in the show.

You definitely have a great group of players participating in the series. How did the group come together?

Travis, Marisha, and Matt are all big Deadwood fans as well. The only other person in the cast that I think is a huge Deadwood fan is Taliesin [Jaffe], but he was just doing Call of Cthulhu when we shot this so I wanted to give him a break. So I pulled the three of them in for it, and Matt rarely gets to play because he DMs a lot. I wanted him to get a chance to do it, plus Matt dressed up like a western character is going to get all the [McCree fans] in the world here for it. Then I knew I wanted to do two guests to mix it up and not have the same CR people on everything to give them a break.

With Anjali, I obviously love her in Overwatch and her work, but I had seen her specifically in Ivan’s other shows and I found her to be a magnificent roleplayer. Probably the top three of people I’ve ever seen do it. She has a way of immersing herself in a character and not stepping on what anyone else is doing while still being so in character. That’s so hard to do when you’re making everything up on the fly and reacting to what everyone else is doing. She does that in a way that blew me away. 

Then Khary I’ve known for years from the voiceover world and been a friend and a fan of his forever. He’s on Walking Dead and obviously a very super busy guy. I would have him in here every week if I could doing something with us because he’s such a good dude. He absolutely totally gets what we’re doing here, and he’s one of the best actors alive. He does such great work on Walking Dead, but I feel like people are going to see a whole different side of him on this show. We gave everyone free rein to make up whatever they wanted with their characters. We gave them no parameters.

We told them just come up with whatever you want, and Khary brought us a character that blew me away. It was like he had a binder's worth of info he had already come up with for this person. He was going to show up with his research, and I would say Khary turns in a performance that I think will profoundly impact people. He can do so much with just his voice. It’s so powerful. When you get to hear and see all of them and their chemistry all together, I think we picked the perfect group of people for this journey.

Credit: Critical Role

It sounds like there’s a lot for fans to look forward to, but now that you’re looking back at the episodes, editing them, and starting to release them, what are you most excited for fans to see?

When I was GMing it, my head is in a hundred different places, so when we went back and started to cut this I forgot so many moments that had happened. We shot this over two days. We shot episodes one and two in one day, then three and four in another day, and I don’t even know how many hours total of gameplay it was originally. We were there for a long time and I forgot so much. So I watched this and it’s very funny. Probably one of the funniest pieces of content consistently throughout the whole thing that we’ve put out and again, that goes back to the chemistry.

The other part of it is the depth that each character had before they sat down at the table. We were working on this for months and these people were thinking about and working on these characters for months. When they sat down at the table, it wasn’t like five minutes before we’re filling out a character sheet. They had sent us extensive backstories. Ivan and I then worked on how to bring those into the game. We had done a lot of work and you’ll [see], there’s no warm-up period when episode one starts. They are in character the second it starts. They are locked in. It doesn’t take until episode two for them to figure it out.

Also something that people don’t know that they’ll see in the premiere is this looks completely different than anything we’ve ever shot before. We used probably three times as many cameras. We added a lot of different effects anytime magic or anything like that is used. We’ve added some stuff that’s made it really unique and hopefully very easy and fun for people to watch and to follow what’s happening. That was the idea with this thing in the first place to make it something really unique and special so we’ve had a team of people working literally around the clock for the last two months getting this thing ready for everybody to see it.

How does this show fit within how Critical Role wants to continue to grow as a company and what you want to continue to offer fans with your programming?

Since the very beginning, a question that fans asked us was when are you going to do a second campaign running alongside the main Thursday night show? That’s not really something that’s ever appealed to us because we’re already asking people to commit to keeping up with one show and one story. It’s a lot of stuff and we knew with this channel we wanted to make a lot of different types of content, not just people sitting at a table playing games for every show.

When we launched the studio, we started making all the ideas we had and then knowing that we want to do other games, other systems, other shows, just not another regular weekly four-hour show. That doesn’t appeal to us. If we’re going to ask people to spend that much more time with us we want to make it really worth their while, so event series like this, some of the fun one-shots and stuff we’ve done are more in line with what we want to do here.

This type of thing is a short, four episodes, but a super high production value four episodes. That’s really more of the direction we’d like to go in rather than “OK, now we have three D&D shows all running at the same time and we’re just a studio that puts out people playing D&D.” We can do that, but if we’re going to ask people for their time, we want to make it very specific and provide something unique and different. With this, we just have never tried to do something like this before. It was, is, and will be an experiment. I think it’s going to work. We’re watching it, we’re thinking this is really good, but it was a way for us to challenge ourselves and to branch out a little bit too.

With this being only a four-part series, and of course we don’t know how it ends yet, but is this a system you’d like to experiment more with or a story you’d like to continue?

It's so funny because it took so much work for all of us to put together. You get tired and you go this is a lot of work. Then I think back to the night we finished episode four. I went home and I couldn’t sleep. I was wired. I was up until 6 am writing ideas for if this story ever continued and where I would want to go with it. I’m so glad we have this show because I miss those characters so much. I’m glad I can just pull them up on my computer and spend time with them whenever. I would love to do something like this again. We’ll see how the people like it and how it goes. As it is, it is a beautiful story and an amazing story as a standalone, but I think it could lead itself to more. We’ll see what the cast wants to do. I’m hoping it’s well-received. I know our fanbase for sure, it’s a mixture of so many things they love. I can’t wait to see all the art. I’m dying to see all the art.

Is there anything else about the show that you want fans to know or about what’s coming next for Critical Role as a whole?

I think that’s all I can tell you without spoiling anything! I can tell you this place is buzzing. We’re all really excited. I have never in my life worked with a group of people on a project and seen them work so hard and with so much heart at the same time. I think you’ll see that from frame one.

The second episode of UnDeadwood will air Friday at 7 pm PT on Critical Role's Twitch channel.

HBO Has Cast Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel in Station Eleven Adaptation @ io9

Station Eleven is a bestselling novel about how we preserve culture after the end. Now, it’s coming to HBO Max, and it’s got some great leads.

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Bureau’s Breakroom’s Television Table – Week beginning 20 October 2019 @ Bureau 42

I hope you didn’t have any other plans, as there is plenty of television to keep those of us unpopular enough not to have Halloween party invites busy. If the Dire Crisis of Batwoman, Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, and maybe Black Lightning and the Titans coupled with the horror of 1984, Riverdale, the return of Castle Rock and watching The Good Doctor try to get to second base is took much, Will and Grace also will return to lighten the mood.  Personally, The Blacklist cheers me up pretty well, too.

[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 More…)]

Batwoman – S01E03 – Down, Down, Down – As the city waits impatiently for another visit from who they think is Batman, Alice continues to taunt Kate with a secret but also sets her sights on Jacob and Catherine. Kate is visited by Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of her cousin who has finally realized his lifelong dream of being wealthier than Bruce Wayne and throws a party so all of Gotham can celebrate his success. Mary gets an unexpected new bestie when Sophie is assigned to protect her. Luke and Kate work together to uncover who may have taken a valuable weapon from Batman’s arsenal. And as Batwoman faces a new enemy, Kate realizes she must either walk away from her new role or fully embrace the mantle as Gotham’s new hope.

Supergirl – S05E03 – Blurred Lines – Kara attempts to mend her relationship with Lena. J’onn J’onzz takes a deep dive into his memories while Kelly tries to help an old friend.

Black Lightning – S03E03 – The Book of Occupation: Chapter Three – When Lynn learns that Jefferson brokered a deal with Agent Odell without consulting her first, it begins to put a strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, Anissa and Grace have an emotional encounter.

The Good Doctor – S03E05 – First Case, Second Base – Dr. Shaun Murphy has been assigned his first surgery by Dr. Audrey Lim. However, Dr. Marcus Andrews questions whether he is really ready. Meanwhile, as Dr. Claire Brown continues to avoid her complicated emotions about her mother, she and Dr. Morgan Reznick have a patient whose diagnosis has them doubting his story.

The Flash – S06E03 – Dead Man Running – Knowing that Crisis is only weeks away, Barry prepares a member of Team Flash for life without him while hunting a terrifying meta-human with an unquenchable thirst. Meanwhile, Ralph uncovers a family secret.

Arrow – S08E02 – Welcome to Hong Kong – Oliver, John, Laurel and Tatsu seek out an important person within The Monitor’s plan. Connor has a heart to heart with his brother.

Castle Rock – S02E01 – Let the River Run – A nurse gets waylaid in Castle Rock.

Castle Rock – S02E02 – New Jerusalem – The Merrills search for answers.

Castle Rock – S02E03 – Ties That Bind – Annie tastes her own medicine.

Riverdale – S04E03 – Chapter Sixty: Dog Day Afternoon – Things take a dangerous turn when Betty and Charles track down Edgar and his Farmies. Archie and Veronica hold a car wash fundraiser at Pop’s to raise money for the community center. Elsewhere, Jughead’s first day at Stonewall Prep doesn’t go as planned. Lastly, Cheryl learns a dark family secret from Nana Rose.

American Horror Story: 1984 – S09E06 – Episode 100 – With the horrors of the night behind them the survivors deal with the fallout of their choices.

Titans – S02E08 – Jericho – [No description given.]

The Blacklist – S07E04 – Kuwait – Cooper’s moral compass is tested when an officer whom he served with as a young man, long presumed to be dead, resurfaces as a POW.

Sunday's Best Deals: REI Outlet, Weighted Blankets, Omega Juicer, and More @ io9

An REI Outlet sale, a discounted Omega juicer, and a marked-down Ring Alarm Home Security System lead off Sunday’s best deals from around the web.

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Weekly New Releases – October 22, 2019 @ Bureau 42

90 Degrees in the Shade
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Action Diva Series
Amazon
  • Beyond Fear DVD: US, CAN
  • Personal Vendetta DVD: US, CAN
  • Pushed to the Limit DVD: US, CAN
  • Streets of Rage DVD: US, CAN
Angel of Mine
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Angels of Death
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Alex: Suspense thriller anime series about a heavily bandaged killer and an amnesiac girl banding together to get out of a building infested with horrible monsters.
Bakugan: Battle Planet
Amazon
  • Season 1 Volume 1 DVD: US, CAN
Billy Bathgate
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Blinded by the Light
Amazon
  • Digital: US
Comments Available on physical media on November 19.
Bloodline
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Brave Witches
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Alex: Spinoff anime series from Strike Witches, with the same premise but a similar group of characters.
Chambermaid
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Charlie’s Angels (2001)
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Chennai Circuit
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
  • Special Edition DVD: US, CAN
Comments At the time of this writing, the special edition is cheaper than the regular edition.
Covergirl
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Crimson Peak
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Dauntless: The Battle of Midway
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
David Crosby – Remember My Name
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Dead Center
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Don’t Be Afriad of the Dark (1975)
Amazon
  • MOD Blu-Ray: US
Double Decker! Doug and Kirill
Amazon
  • Complete Series + OVAs Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series + OVAs Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Alex: Anime series from the creators of Tiger & Bunny, following a pair of cops as they take on criminals hopped up on combat drugs – the series is noted for it’s very snarky narrator (like Arrested Development level snarky).
Eagle
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
FDR: American Badass
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Fish Tales
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Freshman Orientation
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Honeyland
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Hundred
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Alex: Anime adaptation of a light novel series about a teenage boy training to wield arcanotech weapons called “Hundred” to fight off mysterious invaders that are attacking Earth
Hussy
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Arrow of the Orion
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Blu-Ray: US
  • DVD: US
Comments Alex: Film tie-in to the anime series, with protagonist Bell getting roped into helping the Goddess Artemis with an epic quest.
James Bond: The Daniel Craig Collection
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Comments Includes Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre.
The Lion King (2019)
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
Comments Blaine: Once again, I don’t see a DVD listing, but I assume there is one.
A Man for All Seasons
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Comments Winner of Best Picture 1966. Subject of a podcast due for release on February 28, 2023.
Masterpiece: Press
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
NOS4A2
Amazon
  • Series 1 Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • Series 1 DVD: US, CAN
Other Story
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Parasite 3D
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Phobia
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Satanic Panic
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Shetland
Amazon
  • Season 5 DVD: US, CAN
Sprinter
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
The System aka The Girl-Getters
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Talking Walls
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Tamango
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Starring Dorothy Dandridge
Tone Deaf
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Trilogy of Terror II
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
Veronica Mars (2019)
Amazon
  • Season 1 Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • Season 1 DVD: US, CAN
Comments To be absolutely clear, this is season one of the new series, not the original.
When We Were Kings (Criterion Collection)
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Documentary film about the events leading up to the famous Ali-Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match, and the Zaire ’74 music festival around it, released the year before the Republic of Zaire dissolved and ended up becoming part of the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines
Amazon
  • 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
  • Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital: US, CAN
WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?
Amazon
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US, CAN
Rightstuf
  • Complete Series Blu-Ray/Digital: US
Comments Alex: Anime series set in a fantasy post apocalypse where humanity has gone extinct outside of one person, who has to protect a small group of fairy warriors from the magical beasts that wiped out the human race.
Wrestler: A Q.T. Marshall Story
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
WWE: Clash of Champions 2019
Amazon
  • DVD: US, CAN
Comments Featuring Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz for the WWE IC Title,
Zoltan… Hound of Dracula aka Dracula’s Dog
Amazon
  • Blu-Ray: US, CAN
  • DVD: US, CAN

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “The Arrow Video release of Crimson Peak is particularly appealing.” Blaine says, “of those I’ve seen, I’d go with James Bond: The Daniel Craig Collection, although A Man For All Seasons is on my ‘must see’ list.”

Yo Dawg, Anker Heard You Liked USB-C, So They Put an Extra USB-C Port On This USB-C Hub @ io9

Anker 7-in-1 USB-C Hub | $29 | Amazon | Promo code ANKER665

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Report: Venom 2 Is Diving Deep Into Symbiote Lore and Casting Naomie Harris as Shriek @ io9

Remember Shriek? You might not; the character, debuting in Marvel Comics in 1993, was created to be a love interest for Cletus Kassidy, aka Carnage. She’s a mutant with sound-manipulation abilities and a deep love for both killing and Carnage. And now we know who might be playing her in the Venom sequel.

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This Featurette Shows Off More Of the Impressive Tech Behind Gemini Man @ io9

Before the release of Ang Lee’s experimental, strange thriller Gemini Man, most of the talk was about the technology behind the film, which saw Will Smith playing opposite a younger, more babyfaced Will Smith. Since release, discussion has instead been about, like, is the movie any good or not, but the technology…

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Okay, Here's When the Last The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Drops @ io9

Don’t pretend you don’t want to know.

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March into a realm of magic, myth, and monsters in Boom!'s new fantasy series, Folklords @ Syfy Wire

1p>Reteaming on an ambitious new fantasy series for Boom! Studios dropping on Nov. 13, Matt Kindt (Black BadgeGrass Kings) and Matt Smith (Lake of Fire) are introducing readers to the colorful and chaotic kingdoms of Folklords — and SYFY WIRE has an expanded peek inside the debut issue.

Boom! Studios

Kindt and Smith previously collaborated on Boom!'s Planet of the Apes: When Worlds Collide, and here they embark on a five-issue quest-fueled miniseries set in a medieval world where a curious young man named Ansel sets out on a hazardous journey to chase down his visions of the Folklords, a mysterious tribe that local villagers speak of only in hushed tones.

The impressive creative team on this provocative title includes Dan Mora (Klaus, Once & Future) and Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy: Darkness Falls) providing stirring variant covers, absorbing colors via Chris O'Halloran, and all rounded out by letters courtesy of Jim Campbell.

"Folklords is like a breath of fresh air on a cool fall day -- the start of an epic adventure filled with thrills, mystery, and heart," Eric Harburn, senior editor at Boom! Studios, tells SYFY WIRE. "Matt, Matt, Chris, and Jim are building a world that you don't want to miss out on."

Credit: Boom! Studios

“Ideas usually sneak up on you. But this one came in a flash. As soon as my plucky editor, Eric said the word 'Folklords,' I had an image of this teenage kid in a black suit and tie ... walking through a small folk tale-style village full of gnomes, witches, and trolls," Kindt said in a statement. "It looked jarring, seeing that kid there. He was completely out of place. What's this kid wearing a suit for? Is he living in a fairy tale? Why is he there?

"I'm not sure why the word triggered that image in my head but I didn't question it," Kindt continued. "The question I did have? Who the heck are the Folklords? This kid ... in this suit and tie ... who doesn't seem to belong? He's going to find out.”

Credit: Boom! Studios

Now grab a delicious goat-curry pie and take a trek into the fantasy world of Boom!'s Folklords #1 in the gallery below, then tell us if you'll make a quest to your local comic shop for this imaginative treasure when it appears Nov. 13.

Facebook's Top Priority is Totally Its Government-Ordered Privacy Program @ io9

I can’t put an image in a headline, so just visualize the little eyes emoji there at the end.

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A Set Injury Might Mean Major Delays for Cowboy Bebop @ io9

John Cho, oh no! The star of the upcoming Netflix live-action version of Cowboy Bebop has had an on-set mishap, and it could mean that the series is a lot later than we thought it would be.

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Sam Raimi Is Making a New Horror Movie, Thank God @ io9

Some people are born to do certain things. Sam Raimi is born to make horror movies. And he’s back.

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Saturday's Best Deals: Thermapen Classic, Foot Massager, Neck Wallet, and More @ io9

A slip-on sale at Huckberry, a discounted wireless GameCube controller for Switch, and a steamer basket Gold box lead off Saturday’s best deals from around the web.

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These Deals on Halloween Decor and Onesies Are Scary Good @ io9

Give Your Tired Feet a Break With This $87 Heated Foot Massager @ io9

Help, I Can't Unsee These Faux-Flesh Phone Cases @ io9

We’re all too happy to scroll aimlessly on our phones for hours on end, but have you ever once stopped to think and ask that little device in your hands whether it feels held?

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WIRE Buzz: John Cho injury delays Cowboy Bebop; Star Wars marathon gives jump on TROS; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>The production of the upcoming Cowboy Bebop series is going on quite a long hiatus.

Netflix's live-action adaptation of the anime cult favorite is being stalled by anywhere from seven to nine months while star John Cho recovers from a knee injury. The Searching actor had seriously injured his knee while filming on location in New Zealand and was later flown to Los Angeles for rehabilitation. The show will resume production once Cho's prognosis is clear.

"Our thoughts are with John and he has our complete support as he recuperates from this injury," reads a statement from Netflix.

The injury is described as an accident that occurred during the last take of a routine, well-rehearsed scene. Production on the 10-episode series had only begun last week and was reportedly only a few episodes in when the injury occurred. Deadline "hears" that the accident occurred early enough into shooting that the lead actor could have been replaced, but Netflix is "fully committed to Cho in the title role, willing to wait until late spring/early summer to resume filming, along with the logistical challenges that presents."

(via Deadline)


Next up, there's a way you can catch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker an hour early, but it'll cost you 27 hours (and 21 minutes) of your time.

In anticipation of J.J. Abrams' definitive ending to the entire Skywalker saga, AMC Theaters has announced it's holding a nine-movie marathon, beginning with 1999's The Phantom Menace. The marathon begins Wednesday, Dec. 18, and will end with The Rise of Skywalker at 5 p.m. local time the next day — a full hour before the film officially opens in theaters.

As Collider points out, all nine Star Wars films fall short of the 27-hour mark, so it's assumed there will be some breaks where fans can get up and stretch between films. If you wanna properly prep for the end of an era and veg out to a full day of space monks fighting with laser swords, you can buy tickets from AMC's website here.

(via Collider)


Finally, after a tweetstorm earlier this week where Disney+ revealed its massive backlog of content, the Mouse House's new streaming service has started unveiling more of its upcoming nonfiction offerings.

This includes a documentary on Disney lyricist Howard Ashman due out in 2020. Titled simply Howard, the film will be helmed by Beauty and the Beast director Don Hahn. There's also an untitled Mickey Mouse documentary on the horizon, directed by Morgan Neville of Won't You Be My Neighbor? fame.

Other projects include the docuseries Marvel’s 616, about the role of women in the male-dominated comic book industry, and a series of shorts called People and Places, which finds people across the globe who "embody the Disney ethos." There's also the National Geographic offerings, including the award-winning doc Science Fair, which will be available to stream at launch, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Disney+ will launch globally on Nov. 12.

(via Disney)


Watchmen: How the comic ending affects the HBO series @ Syfy Wire

1p>This weekend, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof is taking fans back into the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic comic book series Watchmen. Fans may recall that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen film was released only a decade ago, and it was largely faithful to the comic. However, it made a few significant changes to the ending.

Regardless of what happened in the movie, the Watchmen TV series is treating the comic book as canon. That means there was a giant alien squid! The truth behind that incident may also play a big role on the show, as the new era of peace between the Soviet Union and the United States was built on a lie. There was no giant alien squid. It was an elaborate hoax played upon the entire world. That may have been the only thing that prevented the nuclear annihilation of mankind.

SYFY WIRE’s Jackie Jennings and Angelique Roche are taking a deep dive into Watchmen’s comic book ending to explain its potential impact on the show. Moore and Gibbons set up their twist early, by establishing that several scientists, artists, and special effects creators were missing. An ongoing subplot revealed that the seemingly kidnapped people weren’t kidnapped at all. Instead, their project was to create a lifelike alien that could stand up to scrutiny. Most of them believed it was for a film. And when their assignment was completed, they were all killed to prevent them from revealing the truth.

Within the movie, Snyder changed it so that the attack on New York wasn’t the sudden appearance of the giant squid. Instead, the godlike Doctor Manhattan was framed. That affected his decision to leave the Earth. But in the comic, the nearly omnipotent being simply left to find a new purpose and to perhaps create new lifeforms. On the show, it looks like Doctor Manhattan may be coming back. It remains to be seen if he’ll be happy with the way humanity has squandered its second chance.

Check out the entire video for more Watchmen details, then catch the series premiere on Sunday, Oct. 20, on HBO!

Aggretsuko's Rage Will Be Channeled Into a Furious Comic Book @ io9

The pure existential rage radiating from Sanrio’s Aggretsuko is so powerful that it can no longer be contained in the form of just an animated series.

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WIRE Buzz: Sam Raimi sets sail for horror island; Todd Phillips says no to Joker director’s cut; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Sam Raimi is reportedly dragging himself back to horror, teaming with a pair of fright writers for a new scary movie that takes place on an island — where there’s no place to run.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, the Spider-Man and Evil Dead mastermind is set to direct the untitled movie, his first turn at the horror helm since 2009’s Drag Me to Hell with Alison Lohman. Joining Raimi on the terror trail are writers Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, who co-wrote the Friday the 13th reboot from 2009 (and already have teamed with Raimi for a separate in-production project based on the Bermuda Triangle). The writing duo reportedly created the story for the island horror film, which is being produced via Raimi Productions.

Beyond the report’s description of the new movie as a cross between Stephen King’s Misery and Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away, details at this early stage are light. Misery (first a novel, and later a 1990 horror film starring James Caan and Kathy Bates) traps a novelist with one of his most adoring fans (as in psychotically adoring), while Cast Away traps a stranded survivor (played by Tom Hanks) in island isolation.

There’s no early word on casting or a release date, so for now we’ll keep the fire lit and await a signal for additional news.


When Joker inevitably shows up in its small-screen form, don’t expect an extended take. Director Todd Phillips evidently isn’t clowning around when it comes to director’s cuts that pack in deleted scenes that weren’t there in the first place, telling Collider recently that the only home-theater version fans should expect is the one they experienced in theaters.

Even though star Joaquin Phoenix already has teased that big chunks of footage never made the final edit in DC’s box-office-smashing reimagining of Joker’s origin story, Phillips said he’s no fan of bonus-footage releases after the fact. “I hate f***ing extended cuts. I hate deleted scenes … They’re deleted for a reason,” Phillips said. “The movie that exists is exactly the movie I want it to be, and I will never show a deleted scene.”

Not that missing out on bonus insights into Arthur Fleck’s coolly surging madness is likely to deter fans from lapping up Joker when it does arrive on Blu-ray and digital. Phoenix, who’s in nearly every scene in the theatrical version, has lit up both critics and fans, who feel his performance could be in next year’s Oscars conversation. And the movie’s currently sitting atop a $610 million global box office (and counting). So if you haven’t already seen Joker and want to catch it in theaters, at least you can rest assured, thanks to Phillips, that the version you’ll be seeing is also the one you’ll be able to own — eventually. 


Things are about to get Unsettling over at Hulu. According to Deadline, the streaming service has just picked up AwesomenessTV’s teen-themed horror series of the same name, and it’s already available to watch — just in time for Halloween.

The Unsettling follows 16-year-old protagonist Becca (Holly Taylor), who has a terror of a time adjusting to life as a new resident at a foster home located way out in the middle of nowhere.

Things get more intolerable for Becca not only because of the foster family’s sadistic biological son, but also because “strange things start to happen around her, and she is uncertain about who or what is responsible,” according to the show’s synopsis. Season 1 of The Unsettling is queued up and ready to scare now at Hulu.


A Very Good Teleporting Boy Is Easily the Goodest Toy of the Week @ io9

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular roundup of all things good, plastic, and expensive that we’ve been eyeing recently. This week, we’ve got a very sparkly RoboCop, a suitably separable Monty Python and the Holy Grail classic, and Mezco has not just one, but two fantastic offerings for its Marvel line. Check it…

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No lie: Robert Zemeckis may direct live-action Pinocchio for Disney @ Syfy Wire

1p>We assure you that our noses aren't growing when we report that Robert Zemeckis, the legendary director behind Back to the Future, is currently in talks with Disney to direct their live-action remake of Pinocchio.

According to Variety, Zemeckis is in "early talks" to master the puppet strings for the new film. Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz are set to produce through Depth of Field, and the script will come from Weitz. Paul King (Paddington) had initially been in the directorial mix, but he has since left the project for reasons unknown. David Heyman (Harry Potter) was also once involved in the production, but he too is no longer involved.

The deal is by not officially done yet, but Variety writes that Zemeckis has "been eyeing the project since this summer." Now that his current film (The Witches) is in post-production, Zemeckis may be in a place to make his next film the tale of a puppet who yearns to be a real boy (while getting flimflammed by a fox and trapped inside a whale). It is thought that the casting process will focus on Pinocchio's creator/father, Geppetto.

Last November, Variety reported that Oscar winner Tom Hanks was eyeing the plum part, but that may no longer be the case, as he wasn't mentioned in today's article. SYFY WIRE has reached out to Disney for clarification on Hanks, as well as confirmation on Zemeckis.

This marks the continuation of Disney's live-action remake train, which does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Both Aladdin and The Lion King were huge hits this year, and the only potential stumbling block to this method could turn out to be the Mouse House eventually running out of animated films to remake. 

Will Disney go from a lion who sings to Zemeckis directing a puppet with no strings? We will know soon enough, by Jiminy Cricket, we will know. 


Man, I Feel Bad for Star Wars' Squid People @ io9

Star Wars loves—loves—itself a single-trait environment. Whether that’s planetary biomes or species, if you’re a thing in Star Wars, you’re likely defined by a singular concept. This week’s new Rise of Skywalker prequel comic combines that love with another frustrating franchise love—cyclical storytelling—to pretty…

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Disney's Live-Action Pinocchio May Have Found a New, Forward-Thinking Director @ io9

Not to be confused with Guillermo del Toro’s long-awaited stop-motion version of the classic Pinocchio story for Netflix, the Pinocchio news of today is an update on Disney’s long-awaited live-action take on its 1940 animated version. Famed Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis is now said to be “in talks,” per…

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Writer-director Katrin Gebbe on Pelican Blood, psychopathy, and the power of mothers @ Syfy Wire

1p>When a child's having a tantrum, everybody has an opinion and (often unsolicited) advice — yet nothing seems to help when it comes to curtailing the violent outbursts of the kid at the center of the German horror-thriller Pelican Blood. To connect to her 5-year-old adopted daughter Raya, devoted mother Wiebke is willing to do anything, risking her career, her health, her bond with her older daughter, and even her sanity. But even she isn't prepared for the possibility that this may be more than a behavioral issue born from trauma. Could her daughter be possessed by a demon?

Following Pelican Blood's U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest, SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS sat down with its writer/director Katrin Gebbe to uncover her path to making this tale of motherhood and menace, as well as the secrets behind the force-of-nature performance of its captivating child actor, Katerina Lipovska.

Gebbe's path to filmmaking began in art school. She studied graphic design, sculpture, and painting abroad in the Netherlands and the U.S., where she fell in love with film. At Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, she took classes that had her dealing not just with the art form but the physical film stock. "The material of film and the smell of it," she recalled. "It really grabbed me there."

After earning her bachelor's degree in design, she attended film school back in Germany, but it wasn't exactly as she'd dreamed.

"It was like the opposite of an art school," Gebbe explained. "It was very focused on getting you into the market and especially also the German TV market. There was a lot of rules on how you would have to make a film and I felt like, 'F*** you guys!'" She laughed, then continued. "I want to do it my own way. I mean, I appreciated very much all the content they gave me, and I really found people I would love to work with and have continued working with. But I felt like what they taught me content-wise was not totally what I wanted to explore."

Her desire to explore led to her feature directorial debut, Nothing Bad Can Happen, a crime drama that delves into faith and psychopathy. Through the story of "a Jesus freak who is enslaved by a family," she sought to see how one's morals might be twisted by dilemmas beyond their imagining. And it was continuing this thought that led to her follow-up, Pelican Blood.

"After Nothing Bad Can Happen," Gebbe said, "I was very excited about people who become offenders, criminals, and especially psychopaths. Like what was important for their way? Were they born like this? Or was there maybe an incident that made them evil? A trauma, this can be healed."

This birthed the concept for Pelican Blood, which would focus on a mother's journey to save her child from a path of destruction. "The mother of a child ... would have so much power, but also so much weight on her shoulders. And I felt the ideal of motherhood is very much questioned in these situations."

The sacrifices demanded of a good mother are at the core of Pelican's Blood, in which Wiebke faces violence from her daughter, judgment from others, and an ambiguous but relentless threat lurking in the shadows. All of this pressure weighs on Wiebke. "They feel, 'Oh, I want to be a good mother and I don't want to give up on a child,'" Gebbe said, speaking of such mothers, "But they cannot handle it, and their life maybe starts to be destroyed."

So what's a mom to do?

To better understand these challenges, Gebbe did plenty of research, speaking to neurologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and reading books written by adoptive mothers about troubled children. She also read about child development, specifically how the brain works and how empathy evolves. "I researched everything I could find," she said, adding, "I talked to mothers. I met some real people, which was very touching. In the end, I think it was the most important input for the film. Because when you are sitting with a person who really has had history with something like this, and you feel all the pain and all the doubts, that is something that is so important to keeping to [true to life]."

Part of keeping the film true to its inspirations was to make clear that not all adopted children are traumatized or suffer from behavioral issues like Pelican Blood's Raya. That's why Gebbe decided both of her heroine's daughters would be adopted. "I was thinking one kid could be the biological child," she said. "But I believe it's so great, foster parenting and adoption. And if I would have only shown the bad kid and the problems of adoption, I felt I am not doing right [by those I spoke to]. I'd be harming something that is really important. I mean, of course, there is a lot of trouble, but also there are so many people who are thankful that they got a kid or that a kid got parents. I felt I needed to show that there is also one kid that had a good relationship from the very beginning, and that opened up, and that was healthy. And that was a choice I had to make also, because I think it's politically correct."

Gebbe went on to share how her concern for real-life kids extended to the film's production, as did her reliance on mothers' input. To prepare young Katerina Lipovska for this intense role, Gebbe worked with child-acting coach Simona Popova, who by "happy luck" also happens to be the child actor's mom. "For me, it was really important to not traumatize Kati when she was playing a traumatized kid," Gebbe insisted. "Simona had a lot of great ideas for how I could approach certain scenes and what we would tell Kati and whatnot."

One advantage they had in protecting Lipovska from the film's darker elements was that the girl didn't speak German. So a lot was blessedly lost in translation. In particular, there's one turbulent scene when her character throws down some seriously harrowing threats to her onscreen mother (Nina Hoss). But Lipovska was shielded from the brutality of her dialogue, as she learned her lines phonetically. "She doesn't know what she's saying," Gebbe said, explaining the girl was only taught the sounds and their motivation. "[Popova] told her that she would need to fight for something. She believes she's right. She's fighting for her right. And so we believe [Raya] is angry, but she has a child's anger. So she can scream, and we can protect [Lipovska]."

This collaboration with Lipovska and Popova proved absolutely crucial to eliciting the performance that has had audiences out of the Venice Film Festival, TIFF, and Fantastic Fest riveted and rattled. "That was really helpful, because then I was also feeling safe to demand more," Gebbe said. "Because otherwise I would maybe be not so sure about how far can I go with the kid. But we always found a way so the kid had really a lot of fun and felt very protected."

In this way, Pelican Blood's reality reflects its art. In both its making and its plotline a group of women and girls comes together to do something difficult — and a bit mad — to strive for something incredible.

Pelican Blood made its US premiere at Fantastic Fest.

We asked real clowns to review Joker and Joaquin Phoenix's clown performance @ Syfy Wire

1p>Very little hasn't been said about Joker, the Todd Phillips-directed take on the classic Batman villain. While he ultimately becomes the titular character, Joaquin Phoenix begins his journey as Arthur Fleck, a lowly working clown who slides slowly into madness as his buoys are snatched away one by one, leaving him adrift. When he ultimately succumbs to violence and inspires massive riots in a city that was already on the verge of bursting, the movie becomes a Rorschach blot, and it's sparked online discussions about politics, class, mental health, and a host of other divisive topics.

One of the few things that viewers can likely agree on is that Arthur is, at times, a very scary clown. He's not the first to scare people with his makeup and red nose — a 2016 Vox poll found that 42 percent of the 1,500 Americans surveyed reported a fear of clowns — but he stands alone as a disturbingly realistic homicidal clown. Even Pennywise from Stephen King's It has a supernatural origin.

SYFY WIRE spoke with three real clowns, Eric Schmalenberger, Pixel Witch, and Morgan Wilson, about their thoughts on Joker and, specifically, the way the film depicts clowns. They all saw something familiar in Phoenix's clown performance.

"I don't think that there's much [comparison] between horror movies and serious violent dramas and a clown's place in the world," Schmalenberger tells SYFY WIRE. Fear of clowns, he explains, is multifaceted but usually comes down to the uncanny valley, the point at which something is just off enough from our sense of realism that we find it disturbing.

What most people don't realize is that prototypical clowns — the ones you associate with children's birthday parties and balloon animals — are just one strain of the larger art of clowning. As the clowns we spoke to explain, clowning as performance art is about finding humor and emotion (or often both) in the world's weirdness, making a commentary through movement, costumery, and makeup.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Since emotion is such an enormous part of clowning — getting lost in the character you've created for yourself is not an unusual thing, Schmalenberger explains — the wild emotions and mental health problems Fleck faces throughout the film feel appropriate.

That's especially true for Witch, who was impressed by how unabashed the movie is about discussing mental health and the lack of resources for people who need them. "He realizes throughout this movie that he just has to be himself," Witch says. "A lot of things a clown does are dark in some way because you're taking the truth but then putting the truth on its head."

Witch continues: "It makes people uncomfortable — and that's why they laugh. They're uncomfortable because it touches on something funny but at the same time it's touching on the truth."

That discomfort, Schmalenberger explains, is similar to how "some people are worried about people in masks. You can't emotionally read [them]. And I think it's what makes the Joker such a great villain, because [he] does walk this very thin line between madness and brilliance. And you're never quite sure."

Credit: Lauren Coakely Weatherford (@coakelyweatherford) – Left to right: Allegra Meshuggah, Eric Schmalenberger, Pixel Witch – Photo courtesy of Pixel Witch

In Joker, Arthur accidentally becomes the literal face of a growing resistance against Gotham's upper class. That he begins the movie as a party clown for hire and, therefore, is commonly found roaming the streets in his red, white, and blue face paint becomes significant when he kills three men after they beat him on the train. The resistance adopts clown masks and face paint as a cultural signifier, taking up Arthur's clown persona as a sort of mascot.

In a way, that the resistance chose a clown makes perfect sense.

"My idea of what a clown is is that it's supposed to hold a mirror up to society and say, 'Look at what you're doing, isn't this ridiculous?' in either a sad way or a happy way," Wilson says. "But you make people think about stuff and get out of whatever their regular daily life is."

That's why, Wilson adds, so much of Fleck's clown is realistic — which could be what makes him so frightening. For what it's worth, Wilson says, he and many of his clown friends agree Phoenix could have a promising future as a clown if he ever gets sick of his current gig.

"The scene specifically where he's moving in the bathroom after he's killed the [three guys on the train], that dancing scene — it reminded me instantly of any of the exercises I've done in class," Wilson says. "He was doing stuff that I've done to train and get better at clowning."

Pulling faces in the mirror, slowly moving through a haunting, interpretive dance to convey emotion, painting an expression on your face that doesn't actually convey the person behind the makeup's emotions — those are the tools a real clown uses to get their point across. And in this case, the tools are used to commit murder.

"It is interesting that [Joker] is the first time that it's been one of those murdery, scary clowns that's actually using clowning techniques," Wilson says. "Like when he goes and starts using magic and all those things, all that works because I've learned it."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In the end, what's "scary" is just one person's point of view.

Schmalenberger says he finds it "hysterical" when people are scared of clowns. "I think it's a fun tool to have in one's belt," he says. When your job is to make people uncomfortable in order to, for all intents and purposes, teach them a lesson about the world, "scary" might not be the worst thing you can be.

"I think people watch these movies and read these books and see clowns as the villain. It's easy because you have that image in your head of 'Oh, scary clown. I should be afraid of that. That clown kills people,'" Wilson muses. "And then there's real clowns like John Wayne Gacy, who was a serial killer. So people are like 'Oh yeah, clowns are scary people,' which, in that case, was very true. I can't remember who caught onto it first, but it was like 'Oh, [clowns are wearing] a mask. This is something someone can hide their true emotions behind.'"

Will the fact that Phoenix made for such a believable clown actually cause more problems for the profession and practitioners of the art form?

"I don't think it will impact so much what professional clowns out there are already doing," Wilson says. "I mean, I'm not running around murdering people all day. That's not a part of my job ... I'm hoping that it doesn't mean that people will see real clowns doing those things and be like 'Oh yeah, I saw the Joker doing that' and then that's their first reaction. That would probably not be ideal."

 

 

 

 

Ranking the 20 Best Witchy Fashions Because I Have Magic Powers Now @ io9

There’s something I need to tell you all: I have magic. It’s true! Even I was surprised. Now, I can’t conjure flames or raise people from the dead—as much fun as it would be to reanimate Benedict Arnold and, I don’t know, light him on fire or something. What I do have is an otherworldly knowledge...of style.

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Ninja Streams A Game With A Woman; World Doesn’t End @ io9

On Wednesday, controversy surrounding Fortnite golden boy Tyler “Ninja” Blevins resurfaced after a high-profile callout of his apparent avoidance of streaming with female gamers. Blevins defended himself on Twitter and, on Friday afternoon, did in fact play Fortnite with a female gamer.

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Cosmic Rays May Have Blasted Gigantic Sand Dunes Into Existence on Saturn's Moon Titan @ io9

The equatorial dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan are among the most dramatic surface features in the Solar System, but scientists aren’t exactly sure how they formed. New experimental evidence suggests the dunes arose as a result of cosmic rays hitting Titan’s surface ice.

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The 10 Best Deals of October 18, 2019 @ io9

We see a lot of deals around the web over on Kinja Deals, but these were our ten favorites today.

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JoJo Rabbit director Taika Waititi on whether Hitler can be funny @ Syfy Wire

1p>This week, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is back in theaters with JoJo Rabbit, and it may be his most challenging film to date. Waititi wrote, directed, and co-stars as an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler who accompanies young JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) as he gradually realizes the true horror of the Nazis. Keep in mind, this is a comedy rather than a straight World War II drama. Hitler's atrocities before and during the war shouldn’t be forgotten. But as Waititi pointed out, comedians have been targeting Hitler for decades.

"[Charlie] Chaplin was doing it 80 years ago," noted Waititi. "So I don’t know if it's too soon. Or is it not soon enough?"

Waititi went on to address the idea that boundary-pushing comedy isn't possible in the age of "woke."

"What's 'woke'?" asked Waititi. "I've been asking someone what 'woke' is. I think I've realized, as I've come to the conclusion you can only know what woke is if you're 'woke.' I'll make up my own weird word [that] kind of means everything and nothing."

SYFY WIRE also caught up with Thomasin McKenzie, who portrays Elsa Korr, a young Jewish girl with a big role in the film. She shared her praise for her younger co-star, Davis, for his ability to handle the material.

"[Davis] was a 10-year-old kid, and he was handling a subject matter with such poise and professionalism," said McKenzie. "I don't think I would have been able to do that when I was 10."

For more JoJo Rabbit details from Waititi and McKenzie, check out the full video!

The Week in Geek: Batman vs Matrix vs Disney vs... Lady Gaga? @ Syfy Wire

1p>Congratulations, you've seen another week and lived. There's a chill in the air, we're all starting to layer, and much like your coat/hoodie/button-up combo, the news is also layered. Lots of things happening and happening in unexpected combinations.

So here's a special round-up where news stories go a little head to head. Here they are: the five biggest stories from ... The Week in Geek!

DISNEY+ UNLOADS ON TWITTER

This week, the Disney+ Twitter account unleashed a seemingly endless thread of tweets that listed every single piece of content that would be on the streaming service at launch. The list is exhaustive, including tons of properties from both Disney and Fox. It was a big nostalgia bomb, and people were demonstrably excited about Gargoyles, the '90s X-Men cartoon, the enormous backlog of Disney's animated film library, the Disney Afternoon lineup, and, of course, Rookie of the Year. (That last one may just be me.) The point is there's so many movies and series showing up on Disney+ at day one that it's equal parts amazing and terrifying.

Credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

KEVIN FEIGE'S MARVELOUS PROMOTION

And speaking of amazing and terrifying, how about that Kevin Feige guy, huh? He's been the man behind the MCU for over a decade. He's going to make a Star Wars movie (and then probably take over Star Wars, let's be real), but this week it was announced that Kevin Feige has a new title: chief executive officer for all of Marvel. All of it. Just ... alluvit. Whole thing.

It's hard to put into words how much power Kevin Feige wields at this point. It sounds silly to say that the character to whom he is most similar in the Marvel Universe is Thanos, but, honestly, Feige has more Infinity Stones at this point. It was one thing when he controlled the MCU, but now he's got control of all the television series as well, and Marvel's publishing arm, too (you know, like comics).

Anyway, Kevin Feige runs Marvel. He probably owns your soul and most of your left socks, too. That's the news.

Credit: Disney 

MALEFICENT VS ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

It's a weekend of sequels that no one was particularly expecting, but aren't necessarily unwelcome. On the one hand, you've got Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and on the other you've got Zombieland: Double Tap.

Both movies pick up several years after the last movie left off, both introduce new characters with blonde hair who act in some capacity as antagonists, both involve a trip to a new, magical destination, and both have epic, final battle scenes. Come to think of it: Are Maleficent and Zombieland the same movie?

They are not. Basically, though, if you only choose one, your choice boils down to wanting a movie where Angelina Jolie has sharp teeth and Chiwetel Ejiofor is shirtless or a movie where Jesse Eisenberg has noticeably square teeth and Woody Harrelson dresses like Elvis. Either way, you're coming out a winner.

Credit: Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

BATMAN AND THE MATRIX CASTING BOMBSHELLS

While most of the attention is on year-end big-budget movies and the debut of fall television, there's also this little matter of casting news. And there are two movies (one of them also an unexpected sequel) dominating the news: The Matrix 4 and The Batman.

On the Matrix front, we heard last week about the mysterious casting of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and the rumor is that he'll be playing a young Morpheus. This week, though, we found out about two more castings. Jada Pinkett-Smith is looking to return as Niobe, and then there's some buzz that Neil Patrick Harris is going to take the red pill. Maybe he'll wear a suit! Maybe he'll sing! Maybe Hedwig is in the Matrix and her wig in a box is a philosophical metaphor of some type? I mean ... I'm game.

Meanwhile, Matt Reeves' The Batman has some casting news that genuinely rivals what's happening in The Matrix. First up, we found out that Zoe Kravitz has been cast in the role of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. Everyone is very excited. Michelle Pfeiffer, who played Kyle back in Batman Returns, offered the always-important "make sure you can pee" costume advice. Let's be real, if the Bat-suit could have weirdly sexual nipples, that Catwoman suit should've had a strategic zipper of some kind. Honestly.

And while the rumors that Jonah Hill would be in The Batman did not pan out, we did find out that Paul Dano is officially set to take on the role of Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler. That role has been made famous by many actors, including Frank Gorshin, Jim Carrey, and, most recently, Cory Michael Smith on the beloved and missed Gotham.

LADY GAGA LEARNS ABOUT FORTNITE

Fortnite is an online battle royale game. It's also one of the most popular streaming titles in the history of streaming games. But as 2019 (and the 2010s in general) are set to come to a close, people were starting to watch less and less Fortnite.

And then Epic Games, which created the title, ended it.

This week in geek started on Sunday, when Epic Games debuted an event simply called "The End," which was just a black screen with a black-looking-hole in the middle. People couldn't play Fortnite anymore. But they sure could look at that hole.

And they did look at that hole. Whereas Fortnite had less than 1.5 million hours watched per day prior to "The End," Sunday saw that amount of time skyrocket to 8.6 million hours. People. Love. The. Hole.

Now, of course, this is just a (very effective) publicity stunt, and Fortnite's back with a new map and life will resume as usual.

But while there was nothing to do but stare at a hole, other things happened. Like, for example, Lady Gaga asked, "what's fortnight" to hilarious effect. Tens of thousands of people replied. Most made the "it's two weeks" joke, but also one of the world's top streamers, Ninja, prompted Lady Gaga to ask, "who are you?"

Who can say if Fortnite will maintain this upward momentum. For now all we can say for sure is that Lady Gaga is a delight.

Credit: Netflix

AN ALMOST INFINITE NUMBER OF INFINITE CRISIS RUMORS

As the Arrowverse hurtles toward its Crisis point, the question has ceased to be "Who will be in Crisis on Infinite Earths" and is now "Will anyone NOT be in Crisis on Infinite Earths?" Because, damn.

We'd already heard about Burt Ward's appearance with what appears to be Ace, the Bat Dog, but this week we heard a trio of wild rumors that extends the multiverse far further than any Arrowverse fan dreamed possible.

The first rumor is that Justin Hartley (of This Is Us fame) will be reprising his role as Smallville's version of the Green Arrow. Makes sense. Tom Welling is coming back. Granted, Hartley is pretty hot on TV at this point, but there's no reason for him not to return, schedule allowing.

The next two rumors are a little more shocking. The first word is that Tom Ellis was seen on set. That's right. Lucifer. From the Fox-turned-Netflix series Lucifer. The rumor is that ol' Morningstar will be helping out our boy Constantine. That's nuts, right?

Well not as nuts as this: Also rumored to have been seen on set is Robert Wuhl, who, if you dig back THIRTY YEARS, played the plucky reporter Alexander Knox in Tim Burton's Batman movie. You know — the movie that truly kicked off DC's success in the world of film. No big deal.

At this point, it feels like everyone but the current DCEU is gonna show up during the CW Crisis event. And that is just fine by us.

Anyway, that's the week. Let us know which of these stories grabbed your attention and what other stories out there were winning your week.

 

 

DeWanda Wise Will Fight Dinosaur Clones in Jurassic World 3 @ io9

After the middling reception Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom received, it seems as if Universal’s banking on the return of a number of classic characters from the Jurassic Park franchise to lure people back into theaters. But the studio’s also game to bring some fresh blood into the dinosaur-laden fray.

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Venom 2 after Naomie Harris to join Woody Harrelson's Carnage as villain Shriek @ Syfy Wire

1p>Venom 2 may have found its Shriek. This comes mere days after reports surfaced that director Andy Serkis and the rest of the Sony sequel team were looking to add the Marvel character as an accomplice to previously announced villain Carnage.

According to Variety, Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean series) is currently in negotiations for the role. Shriek debuted in the Maximum Carnage saga of 1993’s Spider-Man Unlimited comic as a fellow mental institution escapee alongside Cletus Kasaday’s Carnage. The two are romantically linked and become villainous partners — think Joker and Harley Quinn. Woody Harrelson will play Kasaday in Venom 2 after the symbiote reared his ginger head during the mid-credits scene of the first film.

While it’s unclear whether Harris would play the comic’s alter ego of Shriek, Frances Barrison, or a new version entirely, her powers will likely stay the same. They’re sort of built into the name. Manipulating sound and emotions, the supervillain will bring plenty to the table as she and Carnage face Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, aka Venom.

While previous reports suggested that Sony was “looking mostly at unknowns right now” during the casting process, Harris is a well-familiar face to the industry — she was nominated for an Oscar for Moonlight and can next be seen as Eve Moneypenny in Daniel Craig’s final ride as 007, No Time to Die.

The Venom sequel will hit theaters on Oct. 2, 2020.

DC Is Revealing Superman's Not-So-Secret Identity (Again) @ io9

Can you imagine? Turn’s out he’s not a bird. Or even a plane. Up there, it’s mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent!

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Look of the week: Power dressing on The Good Place @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

The final season of The Good Place has already thrown several twists into the mix: We expect nothing less from TV’s most inventive sitcom. As part of the experiment to save all of humanity from ending up in the Bad Place, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) has assumed the identity of the architect to the unsuspecting subjects. Jason (Manny Jacinto) is masquerading as Taiwanese monk Jianyu, and Tahani (Jameela Jamil) is free to be her celebrity name-dropping self. As the only one not reprising the role they took in the first season — when they thought this was the Good Place — Eleanor has a makeover with a pop culture twist.

Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Spoilers ahead for The Good Place.

Rather than mirroring Michael (Ted Danson) with his dapper bow tie, Eleanor chooses a different person to emulate. "It does make me feel authoritative, like that chick from Law & Order," she comments before striking a pose straight out of the long-running NBC crime procedural. Eleanor might not know what SVU means or that Olivia Benson is the name of her new style guru, but she is channeling her power dressing aesthetic as she introduces the test subjects to their new home.

It is notable that she only embraces this change after she has given Chidi (William Jackson Harper) his guided tour — her signature skinny jeans and an oversized striped shirt are no longer going to cut it. Even though he doesn't remember her, there is nothing quite like getting over a breakup than a wardrobe change. And in this simulation of the Good Place, Eleanor's options are endless.

Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Cosplaying as a TV detective only holds Eleanor’s interest for so long, and over the first four episodes her power dressing ensemble shifts. The black Theory suit is replaced by a less severe one in cornflower blue, switching out office-ready pumps for far comfier Adidas Stan Smiths. The sharp tailoring is a change to what we have previously seen, but the sneakers are more in line with the Eleanor we know.

Credit: NBC

“Casual professionalism” is how costume supervisor Alexis Jacks refers to this particular style choice on the weekly behind-the-scenes official Good Place podcast. “She wanted to put her own twist on a suit look,” Jacks explains in Chapter 41.

The masculine-meets-feminine trend is one that is (thankfully) not slowing down — especially as it is this versatile. Going full Marlene Dietrich on the red carpet, pulling a Joan Watson from Elementary, the '70s-leaning influence of Russian Doll, and delivering this casual Eleanor spin are all options.

This style shifts once again as she becomes accustomed to not only the team leader role but being around the love of her life (who has no memory of their shared love story). The suit jackets are replaced with bold sweaters that are reminiscent of her costuming from previous seasons. However, they are now fitted and paired with structured collars in a variety of patterns.

Credit: NBC

Costume designer Kirston Mann has incorporated an interesting visual link between Eleanor and Michael as they work together within the role of the architect. Whether Eleanor’s sweater is the same color as Michael’s bow tie or her floral collar is similar to the pattern of his signature neckwear or pocket square, the pair are tethered by their attire.

In this week's episode, “Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy,” she questions whether she can trust the reformed demon, but the color coordination reveals the answer before Eleanor does. This mirroring shows a level of confidence and care between these friends, long before Eleanor came to this conclusion.

Credit: NBC

As this is the final season, there are plenty of fun callbacks to the first year, when Michael was actually lying to the recently deceased gang, but now they are on the same page. Well, almost everyone — poor Chidi. The chaos that Eleanor’s lie supposedly caused in the second-ever episode included matching yellow-and-black zigzag outfits (the colors represent the University of Michigan). They replicate this incident in “A Girl From Arizona Part 2” as they try out this tactic on the terrible Brent (Ben Koldyke) in an effort to make some progress.

As it is October, this blazer is the perfect color combination for Halloween — sign me up if they ever do a Good Place clothing line.

Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The change in Eleanor from when we met her to now is also evident in the dress she wears to the “A Girl From Arizona Part 1” welcome party. In the pilot, her short black sleeveless Elizabeth and James frock is flirty and fun. When she drunkenly returned home with Chidi she angrily threw her stilettos across the house she hated: How things have changed! At the same event three seasons later, the strapless column JILL Jill Stuart midi dress is all business and is paired with some very sensible block heels. It looks like something out of Scandal rather than the Riverdale vibes of her first frock. Although nothing can beat what Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) wears to this event.

In this heightened landscape of the afterlife, any outfit is possible, but clothing also grounds the characters. As Michael puts on his best Dick Tracy look to go get Janet back — Kirston Mann explained this is how someone not of earth thinks someone should dress — along with a suited-up Jason, Eleanor has leaned into her new role. There were some doubts, but she has found her team leader style groove, and now it is time to save humanity.

Who Won the Week Episode 202: Zombieland, Maleficent, Batman casting and more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to the latest episode of Who Won the Week, a weekly podcast in which SYFY WIRE's Adam Swiderski, Dany Roth, and Karama Horne look back at the week that was and the stories that are blowing up the geek-o-sphere.

So much to talk about this week! The Zombieland and Maleficent sequels are now in theaters. Paul Dano and Zoe Kravitz are gonna play Batman villains. Kevin Feige is one step closer to being King of the World. And casting is in full swing with The Matrix 4.

Listen below!

Click here for the podcast's RSS feed.

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To contact us about the podcast, feel free to drop us an e-mail, or tweet at us with the hashtag #whowontheweek! And if you like what you hear, please be sure to rate and review us on iTunes! Let us know what you think the biggest stories going are, what you might want to hear in future episodes of the 'cast, and whatever else is on your mind.

Exclusive: The vile gangster Jabba the Hutt stars in new Return to Vader's Castle #4 @ Syfy Wire

1p>That slimy piece of worm-ridden filth known as Jabba the Hutt is cramming the pages of the penultimate issue of IDW's Star Wars Adventures Halloweentime weekly miniseries in Return to Vader's Castle #4 — and SYFY WIRE has a special extended look into the latest chapter arriving Oct. 23.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Creeping into comic shops for October, this weekly anthology series of nerve-rattling stories from a galaxy far, far away is written by Cavan Scott and presents a rotating roster of talented interior artists like Francesco Francavilla, Kelley Jones, Derek Charm, Nicoletta Baldari, Nick Brokenshire, Megan Levens, and Charles Paul Wilson III, with Francavilla providing main covers and a spooky framing story set within the ominous halls of Vader's Mustafarian fortress.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Return to Vader's Castle #4's "Vault of the Living Brains" delivers a thrilling tale from inside Jabba's palace that showcases the whimsical artwork of Nicolette Baldari bookended by Francesco Francavilla's story starring the lovable thief Thom Hudd. Here the notorious space slug welcomes a menagerie of bizarre creatures to his court on Tatooine, including his crafty Hutt cousin Crakka, who comes bearing a beastly gift in the form of a tusked Huna-Netre.

Credit: IDW Publishing

"From the moment I saw a B’omarr Monk scurry into the background of Jabba’s palace in the Return of the Jedi Special Edition I knew I wanted to write a story about the creepy brain-carrying droids," Scott tells SYFY WIRE. "This year I’ve told two -- one for the Star Wars Choose Your Destiny Alexa exclusive mini-missions and the second for this issue.

"It’s been a pleasure to work with Nicoletta, whose style I absolutely adore," he adds. "I now can’t imagine anyone else bringing life to Jabba’s bizarre court, surely one of the greatest creations in all of Star Wars." 

Credit: IDW Publishing

Now witness a heaping helping of Halloween horror in our sneak peek at IDW's Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader's Castle #4 in the full gallery below, then tell us how you're enjoying this slightly scary Star Wars minseries treat.

WIRE Buzz: Black Adam eyes summer 2020 shoot; Broadcast Signal Intrusion; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Shazam beware! Dwayne Johnson’s long-coming Black Adam film has finally nailed down when it’ll start shooting, which means the antihero will be sparring with other caped crusaders soon enough. While fans knew that after Johnson’s comic villain (who looks to take a moral turn in his standalone movie) failed to cameo in Shazam!, the film would be ramping up — now the star himself has spilled a more exact date on when production begins.

Posting on Twitter, Johnson revealed a little more about the movie thanks to a fan's appreciative art project. Check it out:

After a decade of planning and a decade of rumors about whether and when the DC character would make his big-screen debut, it all becomes real in July. The film, from director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows) and writer Adam Sztykiel, will add to the DCEU’s ever-expanding universe — and now the question is whether Billy Batson will make a cameo this time around.

Black Adam starts production in July of 2020.


Next, things are getting robotic in Chicago thanks to the upcoming film Broadcast Signal Intrusion. Based on some real disturbances of the airwaves back in the ‘80s, the movie, from director Jacob Gentry (Synchronicity) and writers Tim Woodall and Phil Drinkwater, is a techno-thriller sparked by footage of an imprisoned android.

Deadline reports that Harry Shum Jr. (Shadowhunters) and Chris Sullivan (I Trapped the Devil) have been cast as the movie’s leads, with Shum playing the video archivist who discovers the spooky robot clip. Is it real? Is it advanced hacking tech? Paranoia reigns as he investigates — and only finds a deep, dark rabbit hole awaiting him.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion is filming in Chicago now.


Finally, upcoming HBO Max show Station Eleven has cast its leads. The Emily St. John Mandel adaptation from Patrick Somerville (Maniac) will bring a post-apocalyptic show to the streaming service that traffics in big time jumps over the course of its flu-ridden story. After a pandemic rocks the world, humanity must rebuild. And now fans know who two of those rebuilders will be.

According to Deadline, Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Himesh Patel (Yesterday) will be two of the main cast. Davis plays Kirsten, a Shakespearean actor and Georgia Flu survivor, while Patel plays Jeevan, a man whom the plague helped turn from unemployed to a much-needed leader.

Hiro Murai will direct the speculative series, which does not yet have a production date.

Bloody hell! Iowa basement soaked with 5-inch blood flood @ Syfy Wire

1p>What a bloody mess! That’s certainly one expletive that could be used to describe the blood-soaked basement of an unfortunate family in Iowa.

But while there’s certainly nothing good about the situation for Nick Lestina and his family of seven in Bagely, Iowa, it could be worse: At least it’s not human blood flooding the basement of their home.

That’s straight from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which confirmed that the 5-inch-deep trough of soupy, festering slime was indeed animal blood, fat, and bones. And such a hazardous scene necessitated bringing in the Department of Health, too.

According to Nick Lestina, via NBC affiliate WHO-TV, that bloody mess came from his next-door neighbors, Dahl’s Meat Locker, dumping the dripping remains of hog and cattle down a floor drain, which just happens to be connected to the Lestinas' pipes. Pipes attached to a house that Lestina was hoping to put on the market — a plan that is currently on hold, for obvious reasons.

While Dahl’s might have seemed like a pretty obvious culprit, Lestina said that they had been far from responsive. “They haven’t reached out at all. In fact, they haven’t taken any accountability for it,” said Lestina. “They say it’s not their fault and told me ‘good luck.’ If I want to do anything about it, it’s on my dime and my schedule.”

 

That’s from WHO-TV’s report on Monday. Which elicited a public response from Dahl’s claiming miscommunication and hoping to “clear the air” about what happened. Apparently the meat locker has new owners, who had the place fully inspected and were just following a decade or so of precedent set by the previous owners — to disastrous effect.

"We're taking responsibility for it. It wasn't our fault, we didn't intentionally put the blood down there. We didn't want this to happen. We feel for them. I'd be just as mad as they are in their shoes," said co-owner Kaitlin Dahl in a WHO-TV report from Wednesday.

Literal concrete steps have been taken to ensure this kind of blood flood doesn’t happen again, and it sounds like Dahl’s is working with its insurance company to make sure the Lestinas aren’t out of pocket, and are willing to dip into their own if need be.

"We are arguing with our insurance company to try to get them to cover it; otherwise we will financially assist the Lestinas," she said.
 
Hopefully the Lestinas are made right by all parties involved, and still get the rights to the horror film based on this dreadful experience.


A Foolproof Guide To Escaping A Corn Maze @ io9

I love solving a good maze on paper, but it turns out real-life mazes can be trickier to solve. The biggest change is that you are down inside the maze and lose that coveted bird’s eye view. Outside of carrying a bag of breadcrumbs to mark your path, how do you escape?

Read more...

Alex Garland on the Look and Feel of Devs, and Star Wars Stealing All the Good Sets @ io9

You won’t be able to see FX’s Devs, director Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation) foray into television until next year. So allow him to explain it to you.

Read more...

Star Wars Weekly: Cassian Andor series hits hyperdrive, Daisy Ridley talks Reylo @ Syfy Wire

1p>Time again for STAR WARS WEEKLY, the SYFY WIRE series that rounds up the most important news of the week from a galaxy far, far away. Think of us as your own personal Star Wars Holocron.

RETURN OF THE TONY GILROY

When Rogue One was in trouble, Gareth Edwards stuck to the editing room and filmmaker Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Nightcrawler) was brought in to handle the rewrites and reshoots. Rogue One ended up being pretty successful, and it certainly holds its own against all the other brilliant Star Wars films. However, Gilroy made news in the last year when he said that he didn't particularly care for Star Wars and was more interested in the individual film's story.

In any case, it looks like he's coming back to the world of these characters:

All of the major entertainment outlets are reporting that he's been tapped to return and help shape the Cassian Andor television show that Disney+ is premiering sometime in the future.

With the show focusing on Cassian and K-2SO, it's easy to narrow down the time in which it takes place, with just a couple of years before Rogue One as its runway. Cassian and Kaytoo met first in a comic book tie-in that came out in 2017.

Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk, who played Cassian and K-2SO, respectively, will be reprising their roles for the show. It won't be the first time they've come back to these characters, either. Both feature prominently in the Secrets of the Empire VR experience that is available at The Void locations.

A LOOK AT ZORRI BLISS

Zorri Bliss is one of the most mysterious characters in the new lineup for The Rise of Skywalker. Little is known about her. We do know that she's played by Keri Russell, and we know she's connected in some way to Poe Dameron's past, but outside of that, information is thin.

Entertainment Weekly has a new look at her from the film, and she's holding some manner of disc. It could be anything, but the thing it looks the most like in the previous Star Wars canon is a mini-holoprojector like the one Qui-Gon Jinn uses to show Watto the Queen's ship in The Phantom Menace.

Oscar Isaac has also said that Zorri Bliss is a complicated character with no allegiance to the First Order or the Resistance.

The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.

REYLO WILL BE ADDRESSED

Daisy Ridley spoke to Entertainment Weekly about The Rise of Skywalker and, naturally, the subject of Reylo — a possible and popular relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren — came up. Ridley had a very diplomatic answer about the ship, explaining that it would be dealt with in the context of the new film.

"It's no joke," she told EW, "and I think it's dealt with really well because it's not skimmed over."

What that means is anyone's guess. Some are claiming that this is definitive proof that Rey and Kylo Ren are going to get together in The Rise of Skywalker, and others are claiming this is definitive proof that they're not. To think Daisy Ridley would give anything that big away at this point in the film's leadup is sort of absurd.

The only time we're going to get a definitive answer is when the film is out.

STAR WARS IN THE DICTIONARY

Words from the Star Wars universe have been part of everyday speech for a long time, but dictionaries are finally starting to catch up. The Oxford English Dictionary added a number of words, including padawan, Jedi, mindtrick, and "lightsabre." The spelling of lightsaber is owed to this particular dictionary being British, so they hewed to the British spelling.

It's no wonder the Star Wars social media crew called out Merriam-Webster for the American English treatment of the words.

Dictionaries are designed to reflect language as it's used, so new words are added constantly. Who among us hasn't used these words? It's great to know that future generations won't need to have seen Star Wars in order to head to the dictionary and understand what the hell we're all talking about.

STAR WARS RESISTANCE

The new episode of Star Wars Resistance, "Live Fire," airs on Sunday. A new clip is out and you should check it out.

The episode itself revolves around a really interesting idea. In racing, each racer is out to advantage themselves. When you have personalities with egos like Hype Fazon, this selfishness is a trait that makes him a great racer, but a fighter pilot needs to worry about all of their wingmates. If they're going to be fighting the First Order, that's going to need to change.

It's a great episode and one step closer to The Rise of Skywalker.

It airs Sunday on Disney and Disney XD.

REY'S PORSCHE

Apparently, Porsche has entered into a marketing arrangement with Lucasfilm for The Rise of Skywalker. They released the following tease, and I'll leave you with that this week.

How this is going to yield them any extra sales is beyond me, but it's a beautiful-looking spot.

Until next week, May the Force Be With You!

 

 

57 thoughts we had while watching Ghoulies @ Syfy Wire

1p>The movie Ghoulies does not deserve to be in the same space as Critters or Gremlins. The poster is a scam and I've been upset ever since the credits finished rolling. For years I'd avoided this movie because the box art of the VHS and DVD featured a slimy monster with abs boosting a carb-free diet sitting in a toilet. The movie I imagined in my mind based on the box art was far more gruesome than what I actually witnessed for the first time. The movie I imagined also didn't run out of money like this one did while in production. I wanted bathroom carnage and all I got was the prequel to the movie Eyes Wide Shut.

Thankfully I recorded my first-time reaction while watching Ghoulies: the movie I never wanted and selected by our Twitter followers. You did this.

1. Residential basement cult.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

2. Cult leaders who wear green contacts from the local beauty supply store are not to be trusted.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

3. This cult leader has LITERAL mind control, which makes me wonder can we even give him the title of a cult leader since it might be unearned.

4. Well, this cult sucks infinitely. They're sacrificing babies.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

5. I'm only six minutes in and I'm wondering where toilet trolls fit into all of this.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

6. The outside shot of the cult mansion looks like Ghoulies could possibly take place in the same universe as Eyes Wide Shut.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

7. I'm extremely disappointed the effects team wasted their time on this scene that involves one of those little monsters coming out of a woman's chest.

8. I could be watching Alien.

9. A caretaker named Wolfgang looks like someone who would enjoy binge watches of American Chopper.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

10. This place is littered with unappealing statues. No wonder it's still on the market.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

11. The lead is the little baby who was saved at the beginning. Why is he back?

12. Wow, this movie jumps more than a game of Frogger.

13. Ghoulies has now turned into a tragic diluted version of House Party.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

14. Is this a dinner party of a house party because someone is making a pot of mashed potatoes.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

15. No party that takes place in the '80s is complete without a sleazeball or two.

16. A house party can't be too good if you suggest performing a ritual and people say yes.

17. What is the age range of the partygoers because I am in confusion trying to figure it out.

18. Why would you summon something and then not dismiss the spirit before you all go back upstairs to your very boring house party?

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

19. Poor Wolfgang, this man has been trying to sleep all this time.

20. The lead wants to drop out of school and I sincerely want to know if it's grad school or not because he looks no younger than 41 years old.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

21. How did we get here? Like seriously why is it going on?

22. Here we are back in the cult basement.

23. House Hunters: We need a place to perform satanic rituals.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

24. The lead's name is Jonathan and he has lost whatever sense I doubt he ever had to begin with.

25. These monsters are hideous. This is more Critters than Gremlins. My apologies to Critters.

26. God bless this 80-minute runtime.

27. This went 0-100 so quickly. When did he become a cult guy? Was something calling to him?

28. One of these monsters looks like halfway dead Crash Bandicoot.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

29. The girlfriend doesn't have too much sense either, clearly. Girl! He is performing rituals!

30. Another jump in the movie. Now it's sexy time. He lit one candle.

31. One-candle sex is cult sex, check for a pentagram under your bed.

32. Note these monsters coming to watch them have sex.

33. Note the monsters assisting in the sex ritual.

34. Note him actually performing a ritual during sex.

35. Where did these satanic helpers come from? Did they come with the house?

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

36. Jonathan is a full-on satanist in less than a week.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

37. He is big trash too because he is doing things without people's consent.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

38. You get invited to a dinner party and you're forced to wear sunglasses the entire time, that doesn't seem weird to any of them?

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

39. Note these demon monsters all up in the food.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

40. I'm going to throw up before this movie is over.

41. Does Jonathan have teleportation powers?!

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

42. A screaming cult to wake the dead.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

43. Yikes!

44. When did this turn into an X-Men movie? Toad from the Brotherhood of Mutants showed up.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

45. Getting high during horror movies is always a bad idea.

46. I'm tired of watching people get bit in the face.

47. This is one of the worst tumbles down the stairs I've ever seen. How do you fall in slow motion?

48. Plot twist. Jonathan got played. The person he woke from the dead scammed him.

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

49. Satanist the scammer.

50. No! You may not drain the life from my lips.

51. I was wonder where Wolfgang was this whole time.

52. He is a wizard?!

53. It's a magic duel?!

54. All his friends are just dead?!

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

55. Oh, wait. They aren't, but how is no one mutilated?

56. Not one monster came out of the toilet. I was promised toilet trolls!

57. Would someone mind explaining to me like I'm 5 what this movie even was, please?

Ghoulies/Ghoulies Productions

HBO's Watchmen grapples with racism and police brutality in powerful, imperfect ways @ Syfy Wire

1p>HBO's upcoming Watchmen series was always going to be controversial, by virtue of its sheer existence. But, ahead of the premiere, the show is sparking some conversations that are, frankly, more important than how mad Alan Moore is about all this. Damon Lindelof's Watchmen is set three decades after the events of the original comic, and superheroes are no longer dealing with the Cold War. Instead, law enforcement is combating white supremacy. Watchmen is grappling with a sadly relevant set of topics — and a really delicate one too.

Sunday's series premiere begins with a gripping, horrifying scene set during the Tulsa Race Riot, an event that, sadly, will probably have many viewers Googling to find out if it was real or not. In 1921, white Tulsa residents attacked a thriving African-American part of town, known as "Black Wall Street," killing hundreds in fires, by gunfire, and from firebombs dropped from passing biplanes. Then Watchmen jumps to the present, where viewers are introduced to Angela Abar (Regina King), a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who, like all her fellow officers, wears a mask or costume on the job. The police hide their true identities following a deadly, targeted attack from the Rorschach-inspired Seventh Calvary, a white supremacist terror group that's seemingly active once more.

From the start, it's clear that Watchmen is going to engage with American racism in a pretty overt way, but the initial framing of the season's presumed conflict — cops versus racists — sparked concerns that Watchmen couldn't or wouldn't handle the full complexity of race in America.

"Watchmen wants to dig into the heart of American racism … by making you like cops," wrote io9's Charles Pulliam-Moore in a review of the first episode, which had an early screening at New York Comic Con. The review is more nuanced than the headline (and later episodes of Watchmen, which comes out only on a weekly basis, are more nuanced as well), but that headline isn't an unfair one. Add to this first impression an earlier story, prompted by an accidental game of telephone following an Entertainment Weekly story that falsely gave the impression that Lindelof "didn't want to moralize" with Watchmen, and the idea of the show earnestly tackling the full scope of American racism seemed dicey.

"May I state for the record: White supremacy is bad," Lindelof tells SYFY WIRE during Watchmen's New York press junket. "Is that moralizing?" He's a little defensive, which is understandable because he never really said that the show would avoid moralizing — those were EW interviewer James Hibbard's words, not Lindelof's.

"I think probably what I was trying to say, if I didn't say it in the first instance," Lindelof clarifies, is that "one of the things that drew me to [the original Watchmen] was that clearly Alan was moralizing about good and evil in the world."

"That said, you take a character like Adrian Veidt, there is moral ambiguity about the choice that he makes," he continues, alluding to the graphic novel's reveal that Veidt, the costumed hero Ozymandias, ended the Cold War by tricking the world into uniting against an extra-dimensional monster of his own making. "Is Adrian Veidt the bad guy because he murdered Edward Blake and 3 million innocent people, or is he the good guy because he saved the world?"

Credit: DC

"That's the kind of moralizing that I feel is more interesting in the realm of Watchmen, versus something like the Avengers or Justice League, where it's a little bit more, for lack of a better word, black and white. The real world that we live in, the decisions that we make, are much messier," Lindelof explains, later making a direct connection between the slippery slope of policing and vigilantism.

It's not that Lindelof is saying his Watchmen won't call a bad thing bad, it's that it acknowledges that things aren't always that clean-cut. And, crucially, as the show unfolds, the theme seems to be less that there are "very fine people on both sides" and more that there might not be any very fine people.

Still, from just the first episode — and frankly for the majority of the six advance episodes HBO offered to critics — the audiences' sympathies are mostly meant to be on the side of the law. That starts to change, though. There are dark secrets in seemingly upstanding police officers' closets, we see police brutality and enhanced interrogation (with mixed results), and if you're still watching by Episode 6, prepare for a stunner.

"The provenance of the title Watchmen is this idea of 'Who watches the watchmen, and what is a watchman, and who are the people that we appoint to have authority over our society? Are they worthy of our trust?'" Lindelof says. "The answer is, um, not entirely. Sort of? Or, to put a finer point on it, depends what you look like."

Credit: HBO

These are familiar themes for Regina King, who won major awards playing the mother of a victim of police violence and misconduct in both the Netflix series Seven Seconds and the film If Beale Street Could Talk. As Angela Abar (aka Sister Night), King is on the other side, playing a police officer. King, who previously worked with Lindelof on The Leftovers, is very aware of how Watchmen uses its alternate reality to "actually touch on things that are happening now, or how things that have happened to us got us to where we are in this universe we're in."

That said, she tells SYFY WIRE that playing a cop — even one who does encounter racism in unwanted, unexpected ways, as Angela does — was "a bit of a relief."

"It's telling another story that does involve law enforcement, but from a totally different lens," King says of Watchmen compared to Seven Seconds. "So, as while they both could be called dark, I still felt it was a relief to not be the grieving mom."

Credit: HBO

The internet was never invented in the world of the Watchmen TV show, so there's no 8chan or other online pits for resentment and white nationalist views to gestate and grow violent. And Donald Trump isn't president in Watchmen. Instead, the liberal actor Robert Redford is commander in chief and doing his best FDR impression, serving for far longer than two terms and passing a number of progressive bills, including one that gives reparations to victims of the Tulsa Race Riot. Despite (or more likely because of) that, there's still lots of racial unrest and resentment in the world. The racists in the Seventh Cavalry — who come pretty close to directly quoting the 14 words — are coming from a familiar place, one that was actually foreshadowed in Moore's original comic.

"I was just thinking about when Rorschach was talking about 'the elites and the liberals,'" Jean Smart, who plays Laurie Blake, the former Silk Spectre, tells SYFY WIRE. "I had never even heard people use that term 'elites' until towards the end of Obama's administration. And you suddenly realized that there are a lot of people in this country who I think have now found their voice, unfortunately.

"They were tired of being made to feel bad about being a sexist, or tired of feeling bad about being racist, or tired of feeling bad about not being very educated," she continues. "And now it's a matter of pride."

Those people exist in Watchmen, and though the show lightly examines where they're coming from, it doesn't excuse them, which seems important. As one character says in a later episode following a racist revelation about another character, "He's a white man in Oklahoma. What did you expect?"

For Tim Blake Nelson, who plays the mirror-masked cop Looking Glass, the line hits close to home, as Nelson is from Tulsa.

"When I grew up, there was just overt racism everywhere," he tells SYFY WIRE. "I don't look at my state now and say I come from a state of racist [white people]. I don't feel that way at all. I love Oklahoma and I love being from there. But there were aspects of that around me growing up."

Credit: HBO

There is still overt racism in America, and there's also a deeply damaging amount of institutional racism — like, say, in the justice system, where black Americans are disproportionately killed by police and imprisoned by courts. Watchmen is trying to explore one of the darkest and most integral aspects of American society while also telling an exciting noir-superhero story. That's a tall order.

Superheroes can be a nifty metaphor, exaggerating and simplifying complex themes as needed in order to make them accessible. Only problem is, sometimes those complex themes get exaggerated and simplified. Smart, Nelson, and Lindelof mean well. The writers' room, which is fairly diverse, means well. As the series goes on, it better and more fully explores the intricacies of its chosen topic. Whether that's enough is certainly a worthwhile debate. Perhaps, by the season finale, viewers will be able to say if Watchmen did right in the end.

Although, of course, "nothing ever ends."


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

 

 

The Good Place Played a Demonically Delicious Game of 'Guess Who?' @ io9

Things have seemed a little off in Eleanor’s experiment to determine the fate of humanity, and in the latest episode of The Good Place, we finally found out why. Thanks to some sleuthing from none other than...Jason Mendoza??

Read more...

Buy Committee: Which Mirrorless Camera Should I Buy? @ io9

Buy Committee, our favorite deal researcher and jack-of-all-trades, Corey, needs your help.

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WIRE Buzz: John Boyega cloned on Netflix; The Rock goes Han Solo in Jumanji; Escape Room 2 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Paul Rudd isn’t the only actor Netflix has an interest in cloning. Star Wars actor John Boyega is next in line for the sci-fi duplication treatment seen in the recently released series Living With Yourself, this time in the streaming service’s upcoming film They Cloned Tyrone.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Boyega (playing Tyrone) will be the subject of a mystery with sociological elements harkening to films like Get Out ... but in a down-home setting like Friday. Boyega will team with two other actors (yet to be announced) to form an unexpected trio facing extremely unexpected situations.

Before Star Wars cast him as reformed stormtrooper Finn, Boyega was known for another inner-city sci-fi spin: Attack the Block. Mix in some doppelganger goodness recently explored in Jordan Peele’s Get Out follow-up Us, and They Cloned Tyrone sounds like a good time — and certainly funnier than Us.

Boyega will reportedly be taking the role after negotiations with actor Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) didn’t work out. Creed 2 writer Juel Taylor makes his directorial debut with the film, which he co-wrote with Tony Rettenmaier. The film aims to begin production in early 2020.


Next, the second film in the rebooted Jumanji series may be going head to head with Star Wars once again this holiday season (as The Rise of Skywalker looms over theaters), but Jumanji: The Next Level star Dwayne Johnson isn’t shying away from the iconic sci-fi franchise. In fact, his character in the two films actually has a Star Wars reference built into his look.

Speaking to TotalFilm, Johnson explained that video game avatar Dr. Smolder Bravestone took visual inspiration from one of Star Wars' most smoldering characters: Han Solo.

“I am admittedly a massive fan of Star Wars,” the actor said. “And so much so that my costume for Jumanji — especially my belt, my holster — was just a small visual reference to Han Solo. So if you compare both of our holsters ... I said to our costume designer, ‘I want to pay homage to Han Solo in this film.’”

Perhaps now that the modern Jumanji films are entering their second film, Bravestone will continue the Solo references and become frozen in carbonite — or, seeing the chilly new images released from the film, frozen in regular old ice.

Jumanji: The Next Level is out on Dec. 13, a week before The Rise of Skywalker drops on Dec. 20.


Finally, that Escape Room sequel is ramping up, with the box-office surprise from director Adam Robitel and writer Bragi F. Schut casting its ensemble for its followup.

Deadline reports that Escape Room 2 is adding a slew of new faces to its cast, which includes returning stars Taylor Russell and Logan Miller. Joining the film are Holland Roden (Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block), Indya Moore (Pose), Thomas Cocquerel (The 100), and Carlito Olivero (Step Up: High Water).

Somewhere between the Saw and Cube franchises, Escape Room put its young cast through hell in a series of tricky torture rooms ... and made a bundle doing so. The cheaply produced film ($9M) took in over $155M worldwide — something the sequel will surely seek to replicate.

Escape Room 2 will be confined to theaters in August 2020.

Dream Casting: More Batman villains @ Syfy Wire

1p>Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

As Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is occupying theaters, we've just learned that Zoe Kravitz will play Catwoman in The Batman and Paul Dano will play the Riddler. Those are both great choices, and they got me thinking about the rest of Batman's illustrious rogues gallery.

I've cast most of Batman's major villains who don't have actors in the current movies. In addition to The Batman, I'm counting Suicide Squad as canon, so in addition to Catwoman and the Riddler, we've already got a Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and Deadshot, plus Black Mask in the upcoming Birds of Prey. I've put together a selection of actors I think would be great additions to future DC Batman movies.

Disney Picked a Hell of a Time to Announce Its Latest Attempt to Make Star Wars Big in China @ io9

Right now, amid a storm of protest movements in Hong Kong calling to liberate the area from its status as a special administrative region of China, scrutiny of Western companies seen as implicitly supporting the actions of the Chinese government is higher than ever. So, of course, the House of Mouse picked right now…

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Don't Be a Halloweenie, Get 25% Off Your Costume + Free Shipping From Party City @ io9

25% Off + Free Shipping | Party City | Promo code TREAT25

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J.J. Abrams promises Rise of Skywalker will wrap up 9-film arc: 'We're not screwing around' @ Syfy Wire

1p>J.J. Abrams is no stranger to massive narrative challenges. This is the guy who helmed a Star Trek reboot that created an alternate timeline in 2009, after all, and who launched the Disney era of Star Wars on the big screen with The Force Awakens in 2015. With that film, Abrams had to revisit a story that hadn't been touched by another filmmaker for more than 30 years, and somehow insert new characters into the landscape while also reviving old ones in a way that made sense. With The Force Awakens' second sequel, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he's somehow got to do that again while also putting the bow on top of a 42-year saga. 

We've known for quite some time, even before it had an official title, that Rise of Skywalker would serve as an ending to the sequel trilogy Force Awakens started four years ago, but now that we're in the midst of the film's promotional onslaught, it's even clearer that Lucasfilm views this as an ending to something bigger. The film will close out what's been dubbed "The Skywalker Saga," a saga that started with Star Wars back in 1977, and while there will be more Star Wars after Rise of Skywalker, this film is tasked with closing the curtain on one of cinema's most famous stories. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the inherent challenges of that task, Abrams made it clear that he and co-writer Chris Terrio approached The Rise of Skywalker with the goal of writing an ending to nine movies, not just one, and not even just three. 

“This is about bringing this thing to a close in a way that is emotional and meaningful and also satisfying in terms of actually answering [as many] questions as possible,” Abrams said. “So if years from now, someone’s watching these movies, all nine of them, they’re watching a story that is as cohesive as possible.”

Closing out the Skywalker Saga in a way that's satisfying to millions of Star Wars fans is a big responsibility, and one that Abrams wasn't expected to take on at first. Once upon a time he was signed on for only The Force Awakens, and left its two sequels open for another filmmaker to claim. Rian Johnson made Star Wars his own in a big way with The Last Jedi, and Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was originally set to do the same with what would become The Rise of Skywalker. Trevorrow ultimately backed away from Star Wars over creative differences, and Abrams stepped back in to conclude the saga.

Among the big ideas he and Terrio are bringing to the table this time around (that we know of) are working Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa into the film thanks to pre-existing Force Awakens footage and, of course, the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine alongside the evocative image of the Death Star wreckage. We don't yet know exactly how these ideas will figure in The Rise of Skywalker's plot, but it's all in service to the idea that Abrams and his team are creating an ending that spans an entire saga while also making room for interesting narrative opportunities. 

“While there were many things that were planned for and discussed — George Lucas himself said when he created this he saw it as three, three-act plays — that doesn’t mean there isn’t discovery, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that come up that make you realize, ‘Oh, here’s an opportunity,'” Abrams said. “It also doesn’t mean that there’s a list of payoffs that we have to do because of setups. But we also were very much aware this is the end of the trilogy and it needs to satisfy. We went into this thing knowing it has to be an ending. We’re not screwing around.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters Dec. 20. 

 

Engage: A Trek-style warp drive just became a bit less impossible @ Syfy Wire

1p>Trekkies everywhere (and Star Wars fans who have been wanting a hyperdrive) are going to shoot to the moon once they find out that an actual warp drive might fly straight out of Star Trek and into actual future space tech. Just don’t expect dilithium crystals.

Undergraduate researcher Joseph Agnew of the University of Alabama Huntsville, recently spoke about the possibility of warping spacetime to take a ship like the USS Enterprise to alien planets that would otherwise be millions and billions of years beyond human reach. Agnew argued that even though light is supposed to be the built-in speed limit of the universe, there is a way around it that wouldn’t flatten everyone on board the starship from shooting through space at speeds the human body can’t handle.

"People used to say, ‘You’re dealing in something that would be great, but it takes the mass of the entire universe to do it,’" Agnew said of his recent warp drive study while speaking at the American Institute of Astronautics Propulsion and Energy Forum. "Now, we’re down to where, it is still an immense amount of energy and exotic matter is still a problem, but if we had that energy, we could do it."

If you just move the bubble of spacetime around the ship instead of moving the ship itself through spacetime, you could theoretically get to some exotic planet faster than the speed of light. It’s a matter of catapulting the medium through space instead of flying through the medium, of warping spacetime so that the craft inside that bubble would go along for the ride. Spacetime would have to be compressed ahead of the Enterprise and expanded behind it.

Theoretical warp propulsion systems have been on the minds of scientists (some of them undoubtedly Trek-obsessed themselves) for several decades. The thing is, until recently, it was believed that the energy power requirements to catapult a starship through space would be as much as the total energy of the entire universe. There is no way we’d be able to harness that kind of power. Now that the positive and negative energy requirements are estimated to be closer to the size of Jupiter’s total energy, there is science where there was once only fiction.

"Mathematically, if you fulfill all the energy requirements, they can’t prove that it doesn’t work," Agnew said. But he did acknowledge that “warp drive theory is at the point where the mathematics needs more development and the technologies need more development.”

The question is whether we could actually create a bubble like this, however small, in a lab — and then scale it up to fit an actual spacecraft. How sensitive the instruments are, not to mention the level of power needed to pull this experiment off, may be limits, but advancements in tech (like bigger and bigger magnetic generators) could soon have somebody feeling like Captain Picard, even if there isn’t much of a reaction. Agnew believes that using an interferometer would be optimal for measuring the amount of energy it would take to warp spacetime. He is convinced any reaction at all would be mind-blowing.

"The initial experiment may be extremely difficult to do, and it may take a lot of energy to create a very tiny first result, but my hope is that as we refine it, we’ll get better."

Make it so.

(via University of Alabama Huntsville)


Rob Zombie's insane horror movies, ranked @ Syfy Wire

1p>Rob Zombie movies are ... divisive, to say the least. Scroll through any batch of comments, whether they be in articles about his movies or trailers for his films on YouTube, and you'll find people either passionately defending the man's work or passionately decrying him as the death of cinema. Me, I float toward the former category.

He's not a perfect filmmaker, but when I was a teen I saw his episode of MTV Cribs and watched this relaxed weirdo talk about loving horror and horror movies, and not caring about what anyone thought. That SPOKE to me, as usually "be yourself" advice came from typical celebrities, and very rarely felt applicable to me, a skinny kid who really liked 1930s Universal Monster flicks. And I just happen to really like some of Zombie's movies, so that helps my opinion of him as well.

In the spirit of Halloween, let's take a look back at Zombie's odd oeuvre, and see which films are worth revisiting in this most sacred of seasons, and which films might be better left alone.

WIRE Buzz: Daniel Kaluuya reviving Barney; Patton Oswalt joins The Boys S2; and more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Barney, everyone's favorite purple dinosaur, is getting a bring screen reboot from...Daniel Kaluuya? Today, Variety confirmed that the Get Out star has partnered with Mattel Films for a film adaptation of the iconic kid's character from the 1990s. However, this project won't just involve a dude in a suit on local access television. This is a wholly reimagined take on the IP.

“Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to Barney that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations,” said Mattel Films’ Robbie Brenner in a statement run by Variety. “The project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults, while entertaining today’s kids.”

Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank & Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for BET

“Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” added Kaluuya. “We’re excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of ‘I love you, you love me’ can stand the test of time.”


The Boys is going to get even funnier during its second season, because the Amazon series will feature comedian Patton Oswalt in a mystery role, showrunner Eric Kripke confirmed on Twitter. 

"Thank you @pattonoswalt, that was AMAZING!" he wrote, adding the tags and hashtags of "#TheBoysTV #Season2 #SecretRole@TheBoysTV #TheBoys @PrimeVideo #SPNFamiIy."

As Entertainment Weekly points out, fans are already theorizing that Oswalt might be playing The Legend, "a former comic book writer and editor with an encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes."

Whatever character the comedian is playing, he's just one of the new faces in Season 2 alongside Goran Visnjic and Claudia Doumit.

Based on the wildly violent and explicit graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson, The Boys follows a group of normal humans who exact revenge on superheroes when they step out of line. Karl Urban and Jack Quaid lead the cast as Billy Butcher and Hughie Campbell.


Doctor Strange 2 (aka In the Multiverse of Madness) has found its screenwriter in the form of Jade Barlett, writes Collider.

Since the film is described as the MCU's first horror movie, Barlett seems like the perfect fit, having co-written Floria Sigismondi's The Turning.

Credit: Marvel

The sequel will not only serve as a follow-up to the first Doctor Strange movie, but also serve as an epilogue to the events of Disney+'s WandaVision series. Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch is set to play a major role in Multiverse of Madness alongside Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange and Benedict Wong's...Wong.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will open a portal into theaters on May 7, 2021.


Chosen One of the Day: Daniel Kaluuya's Barney @ Syfy Wire

1p>So, this sounds like an actual fever dream but I assure you, it's real. Daniel Kaluuya, star of Get Out and Black Panther, will produce a live-action film about Barney the Dinosaur. Beyond that, his description is intense.

"Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” said Kaluuya. “We're excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of 'I love you, you love me' can stand the test of time."

When I tell you this is the movie we need, BELIEVE ME.

I was just too old for Barney so I avoided it in my youth, only to have a child. Here's the thing: when I had said child, Barney and Friends had ceased production years prior. And yet she found it. I don't know how but she found it. I don't remember turning it on. It was just...there.

For the unawares, Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination. That's literally the theme song. He's a stuffed animal that comes to life. Sometimes. Sometimes he's just a stuffed animal kids drag around and then he comes to life with a big sparkly flourish and HUZZAH he's a 6-foot-tall T-rex who talks and sings. And here's the thing — everyone can see him. Kids, adults, Demi Lovato, everyone. He is a collective hallucination happening in this one park, like, constantly. AND HE BROUGHT FRIENDS. Baby Bop, BJ, Riff, and the human children and adults have to teach lessons to THE IMAGINARY CHILD DINOSAURS. Like. What. 

Also Pandora's Box. That's a thing that happens.

Anyway, give me my intense-ass Barney movie. It's what we need. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you.

Black Panther’s Daniel Kaluuya Is Bringing a ‘Misunderstood’ Barney to the Big Screen @ io9

Barney is a dinosaur who we all know from TV, but now Mattel is bringing Barney & Friends to the big screen.

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