Twitter reacts to the premiere of Star Trek: Picard @ Syfy Wire

1p>After waiting for nearly two decades, Jen-Luc Picard is finally back in our lives! The CBS All Access series Star Trek: Picard premiered today with its first episode "Remembrance" and Twitter has been buzzing with fan reactions as far as the eye can see.

Sir Patrick Stewart's return as the iconic Jean-Luc Picard has been a moment many years in the making. The series takes a markedly different approach to what fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation may be used to seeing the beloved Captain (now Admiral) Picard. Instead of the self-assured, morally resolute man who can steer any ship, we see a very different man. Picard, now 92, is faced with difficult choices, both present and past, that he must now contend with.

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard, Season 1, Episode 1: "Remembrance."

For fans who have been waiting for actual decades for this moment, it was an emotional experience to see Jean-Luc on screen again. 

The 2002 Star Trek film Nemesis often invokes strong feelings in even the most mild-mannered Trek fan, with some feeling as if it did not give the crew of the Enterprise a proper send-off. It looks like the first episode has, for at least some fans, corrected this.

The first episode (you can read our recap here) isn't trying to be TNG and that's probably why it's striking the right chord with so many fans.

In the opening scene of the new series, Picard dreams of Lt. Commander Data. Later Picard can be seen telling his Romulan housekeepers that "the dreams are lovely... it's the waking up I'm beginning to resent."

The appearance of the usually aggressive Romulan species left some fans a little skeptical, or at the very least, with some questions!

The entire episode is packed and essentially serves as one massive gut punch. Not to mention the biggest twist of the episode. Just when we begin to get comfortable with newcomer Daj Asher (Isa Briones), she is killed by a Romulan bomb. The reveal that Asher, who is an android in the same make of Data, and that she's not the only one left fans and Picard reeling. 

Needless to say, we're all eagerly awaiting the next episode of Star Trek: Picard to stream on CBS All Access.

Kumail Nanjiani: The Eternals will be the ‘most sci-fi’ & ‘epic’ Marvel movie yet @ Syfy Wire

1p>What’s the most sci-fi Marvel movie moment you can think of? Is it the master of the mystic arts battling it out against Dormammu in the Dark Dimension at the end of Doctor Strange? What about Star-Lord and the Guardians gang stepping foot onto the lavish, self-propagating world that Ego calls his home in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Or maybe it’s Captain Marvel, blasting through space to pull off superhuman feats with nothing more than a blue suit —  and, of course, Yon-Rogg’s all-important blue Kree blood coursing through her veins?

Whatever you choose, it’s likely not as sci-fi — or as epic — as what we’ll see when The Eternals lands in theaters — at least, according to swole Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani. The crossover Silicon Valley and Men In Black 3 star tells Entertainment Weekly that, whether you’re talking science fiction themes or action and story on a epic scale, Marvel’s upcoming ensemble movie about demi-god-like Celestials protecting humanity eclipses anything we’ve seen on the MCU big screen yet.

“[I]t’s really such a science-fiction story. It’s a superhero story, but in some ways, it’s the most sci-fi of all the Marvel movies and it’s the most epic of all the Marvel movies,” enthused Nanjiani. “And the story spans thousands of years. So it’s really not like any of the other Marvel movies.”

Credit: Marvel Comics

But wait, there’s more: when Nanjiani says “epic,” he’s not just throwing the word around. After all, it’s not as if the MCU hasn’t delivered one epic memory after another, from Iron Man’s first suit fire-up to Thanos’ fateful snap to Captain America’s truly grand “Avengers, Assemble!” moment at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

“I don’t mean epic in the internet way, I mean epic in the old-school way,” he explained. “…It doesn’t look like any of the other Marvel movies. I was on set shooting, and the director showed me just a still of all of us together in the scene. And I was like, ‘I mean, look at all of us together.’ We all look so different. It’s me and a huge buff guy from Korea [Ma Dong-seok] and Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie and Gemma Chan and Lauren Ridloff. You don’t ever get to see people like this together in the same room, let alone in awesome superhero costumes.”

It’s obviously too early to speculate on exactly how all that epic-ness will translate from the big screen, but it sounds as though Nanjiani’s “old-school” remark may be hinting at the kind of movie that doesn’t merely rely on adrenal-crushing action and spectacular set pieces; but also one that invests a ton of weight in its characters. In fact, he even says as much.

“…in many important ways [it] still feels like you’re making an independent movie, in the sense that it really feels like a family and it feels like it’s really about characters and relationships and very small moments,” he confessed. “So while you have certain scenes where you’re hanging up on a wire fighting bad guys and you have all these superpowers, the rest of it does feel like you’re making something really small.”

Long praised for nailing key casting decisions for characters that’ve by now become as familiar as a dear family member to hardcore fans, Marvel has definitely sunk a ton of effort into slotting top-shelf actors into The Eternals’ new roles. Starring Nanjiani as Kingo, along with Jolie as Thena, Hayek as Ajak, Chan as Sersi, Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, and Lia McHugh as Sprite, The Eternals will breath new life into the MCU when the movie arrives in theaters on Nov. 6.

Patrick Stewart on what makes him 'squirm' about Picard @ Syfy Wire

1p>The return of Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard has been twenty years in the making. Fans haven't seen Captain (now Admiral) Picard since the 2002 feature film Nemesis. That's twenty years of anticipation, hopes, and expectations. It was a particular kind of pressure for Stewart who revealed reprising his role as the iconic character still makes him squirm. 

Appearing on the new Star Trek: Picard Podcast from Deadline along with executive producer Akiva Goldsman, showrunner Michael Chabon and EP and co-creator Alex Kurtzman, Stewart spoke intimately and passionately about the return of Jean-Luc. The podcast is heavy on spoilers for Star Trek: PicardStill, it is great to hear from the creators what it's been like to take on the monumental task of bringing Picard back into the Starfleet after so many years away.

Speaking about having the series named after his character, Stewart says “Initially I had proposed the title should be Jean-Luc. Nobody liked that idea at all!" He added, "I still feel a certain amount of pressure with that [Picard] in the title. When I see it driving alongside Sunset Blvd and there's this massive poster up there, I still kind of squirm a little bit.” 

The CBS All Access series premiered earlier Thursday with the Episode 1 "Remembrance" (you can read our recap here). The first three episodes were directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper and there is certainly no mistaking this Picard for the man we left at the end of The Next Generation or Nemesis.

Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman talked about what makes the show different and why the entire creative team feels excited about the different direction the series is taking. "It’s a different cusp of life, it’s a different frontier. Fundamentally we don’t get to the opportunity to tell stories about people at that juncture of life. Older, wondering what comes next. If loss isn't a compelling part of that mix, you probably haven't lived.”

Goldsman is referring to the loss of Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) which has weighed heavily on Picard. On loss, Kurtzman says "Picard has been sitting in this vineyard now for a decade, over a decade, just sitting there with this loss."

Kurtzman added, “For me, it was essential to the narrative that we had a Picard who was confused, who was unclear about what he had done, but at the same time suspecting that he got something seriously wrong and that he is responsible solely for what happened. Right from the getgo, we have been made uncomfortable with what his world has become.”

Stewart is pulling double duty as the lead character of the show and executive producer. He calls the experience "massively influential." He added it's allowed him to give the writers and production team with clear feedback for who Picard is, especially at this point in his life.

The podcast hosts (Senior Editor Dominic Patten and Genre Editor Geoff Boucher) asked Sir Patrick Stewart about how loss manifests itself physically in his character and he credited those decisions as ensemble choices made with the entire production team. Stewart went on to discuss some of the similarities between the character development of Picard and that of his character in 2017's X-Men feature film, Logan. "There were thematic strands. When Alex and our colleagues heard me talk about the significance of Logan to my relationship with the X-Men, they got it. They got it.” 

Stewart has previously credited the film with helping him to decide to return to Star Trek.

In the new series, Picard is 92 years old, looking back on his life and choices. The hosts asked the actor what it's like to have all your emotional guts on the table.

Stewart responded with the most poignant part of the podcast, "They are not only Jean-Luc’s emotional guts they are mine too. During the seven seasons of TNG, I found Jean-Luc and Patrick became closer and closer until they overlapped entirely." Adding, "So I came with this rucksack full of history which I had lived through, which I had shared. It wasn’t like recreating a character it was like beginning to write an autobiography.”

We can't wait to see what Sir Patrick Stewart, and the rest of the team behind Star Trek: Picard write.

You can listen to the entire Picard Podcast here.

Star Trek: Picard is streaming now on CBS All Access.


Garth Ennis Is Penning The Boys' Prequel Comic @ io9

By the end of its first season, it was obvious that Amazon’s live-action adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys was going to be a wildly different beast than the comics that inspired it, considering how it worked its way through most of the source material’s major plot points. But just in time for

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‘We are a man down’ - Bill Murray says Ghostbusters: Afterlife story acknowledges the late Harold Ramis @ Syfy Wire

1p>When Ghostbusters: Afterlife passes the specter-smashing baton to a new generation of intrepid young hunters, it’ll be doing so without the presence of the late, great Harold Ramis. When Ramis passed away in 2014, the then-untitled movie’s early script had to be reworked to account for his absence as OG Ghostbuster Egon Spengler.

With a key piece missing from the original Ghostbusters lineup, though, Spengler’s absence will itself be a sort of presence that fans feel when the new movie arrives this July 10, according to fellow slime fighter Peter Venkman — aka, Bill Murray

In a far-ranging Vanity Fair article about a recent visit at the Afterlife set, Murray said that, while Ramis can no longer be there in person, he’ll definitely be a part of the movie — no pun — in spirit. “Well, we are a man down. That’s the deal,” said a reflective Murray. “And that’s the story that we’re telling, that’s the story they’ve written.” 

The VF article also confirms that everyone who’s coming back from the original 1980s Ghostbusters movies — from Annie Potts to Dan Aykroyd to Ernie Hudson to Sigourney Weaver — will indeed be playing their familiar original characters, and not simply walking on for fan-service cameos (like Aykroyd’s cab-driving character in director the 2016 Paul Feig reboot).

Even if that’s the case, though, director Jason Reitman says that the story’s main focus will definitely be on the younger generation, affirming a hunch that many fans felt after the movie’s first trailer landed. But, he explained, there’s a really cool reason for that: he wanted to explore that sense of discovery that a 12 year-old kid might feel if they stumbled across a piece of half-forgotten, supernatural-leaning tech.

“Before I ever thought I could make a Ghostbusters film, the image of a 12-year-old girl carrying a proton pack popped into my head and just wouldn’t leave,” he explained. “…I’m floored by the idea of what it would be like to find a proton pack in your grandparents’ basement. What would that discovery reveal about who you are and what adventures you’re about to go on?”

Above all, there’s a balancing act between the nostalgia factor of luring in old-school  fans while setting the stage with new characters who, like many new fans in 2020, are discovering the franchise for the first time, said Reitman. Telling stories in the way he grew up hearing and living inside them — on the set of the older two films with his famous father, director Ivan Reitman — is, he said, at the heart of how he approaches the idea of endearing the Ghostbusters universe to a whole new audience.

“If I think about who I’m making this movie for, it’s my father,” he explained. “We all know what it’s like to be told stories by our parents. I’m really honored to get a chance to tell one back to him from the world he brought to life.”

Stock up on Vitamin-C! Scientists find new viruses frozen inside Tibetan glacier @ Syfy Wire

1p>While deep in the throes of a nasty cold and flu season here in America, be glad you're not infected with one of the ancient mystery viruses recently unearthed by scientists from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University, whose Tibetan glacial ice core samples date back some 15,000 years.

This discovery began back in 1992, then most recently in 2015, when a scientific team led by researchers from the United States and China journeyed to exotic Tibet for a frosty excursion to drill for fresh examples of the planet's oldest ice. 

Now after intense research and critical examination, they've finally completed and published a report at the online scientific journal, bioRxiv, which details the findings of 28 never-encountered virus groups that could be unleashed on Earth if climate change continues on its present course.

Credit: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, Ohio State University

Boring 164 feet down into the ancient glacier to acquire two ice cores from the Guliya ice cap on the Tibetan Plateau, the team scored a pair of perfect specimens. Since the cores were partly contaminated due to basic handling, the team later played it safe by putting the samples through a complex three-step decontamination protocol before scientists employed microbiology techniques to single out mystery microbes in the old ice.

To steer clear of tricky microbial contamination encountered during the core drilling, handling and transport, this included the utilization of a new system developed specifically to limit contamination and ensure ultraclean microbial and viral sampling. Carefully tapping into the virgin ice columns, researchers labored in a special cold room regulated at 23 degrees Fahrenheit, then used a sterilized band saw to shave off thin exterior layers and cleaned them with ethanol until they finally reached the uncontaminated ice below. 

Credit: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, Ohio State University

According to the chilling study, the many perils of a warming planet are seriously threatening Mankind's ability to keep up with and efficiently catalogue these myriad microscopic monsters and protect ourselves from potential lethal infections.

“At a minimum, [ice melt] could lead to the loss of microbial and viral archives that could be diagnostic and informative of past Earth climate regimes,” the team indicated in the paper. “However, in a worst-case scenario, this ice melt could release pathogens into the environment.

"The microbes differed significantly across the two ice cores, presumably representing the very different climate conditions at the time of deposition."

Report: Production halted on Obi-wan series at Disney+ @ Syfy Wire

1p>Disney and Lucasfilm have halted production on Ewan McGregor’s Obi-wan Kenobi Star Wars series in development at Disney+, according to a handful of new reports. SYFY WIRE has reached out to Disney for comment.

Citing “[t]wo independent sources with knowledge of the situation,” Collider reports that the series “has been put on hold” at its production location at London’s Pinewood Studios, and that Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy is reportedly unhappy with the state of the show’s current script. Both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety also independently confirmed the news late Thursday.

THR cites sources that reportedly say Disney and Lucafilm "jettisoned" the two scripts that have so far been written for the series, and that "Lucasfilm is now on the hunt for a new writer to pen the series," which may be retooled from a six-episode first season down to only four episodes. 

Collider's report states that on-location production on the series is being suspended “indefinitely” and that rather than scrapping plans for the hugely-hyped show, which delves into Obi-wan’s years between losing Anakin to the dark side of the Force and the beginning of the original 1977 Star Wars timeline, crew work on the series may be delayed as the scripts on the early Obi-Wan episodes go through a rework. 

Originally planned as a feature-length movie, Disney and Lucasfilm eventually revealed that McGregor’s Obi-wan vehicle would instead be getting the series treatment at Disney+. In addition to the smash success of The Mandalorian, the Obi-wan series would eventually join a DIsney+ live-action Star Wars lineup that also includes the planned Rogue One prequel, starring the earlier exploits of Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.

According to THR, McGregor is still attached to lead the Obi-wan spinoff, even as potential cast members were being screen-tested to star alongside him at the time production was suspended. Deborah Chow, who made waves by directing a pair of The Mandaolrian's most critically-praised episodes, is also still reportedly attached as the series' director. So far, there's no word on when the show, which was in pre-production before being halted, will resume production.

Report: Disney's Obi-Wan TV Show Is on Hold, for Now [Updated] @ io9

Obi-Wan Kenobi first fell on the Death Star. He may have just fallen again in a corporate boardroom.

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Japan announces its own Space Domain Mission Force to protect orbital assets @ Syfy Wire

1p> 

Following in the footsteps of President Trump's newly-formed Space Force and United State Space Command, the sixth branch of the military aimed at monitoring and guarding America's outer space interests, Japan has now unveiled ambitious plans of their own for a separate protective entity to watch over their nation's space-based assets.

On Monday, during a speech to kick off the year's parliamentary session, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed that his country will form a space defense unit to protect itself from potential threats as rivals continue to develop missiles and other advanced technology, while also indicating that this new enterprise will work hand-in-hand with its American counterpart launched by President Trump.

Credit: Getty Images

Officially named the Space Domain Mission Unit, this administrative and combatant command section will begin in April as a component of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force, operating off an as-yet unapproved 50.6 billion yen (U.S. $459.2 million) budget for future space-centric projects.

This newly-announced space division mirrors our own comprehensive plan detailed on Twitter back in December of 2018, when Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan indicated that Space Force and the Space Command were not the same entity, but will be unified companion divisions, with Space Force serving as a force provider for personnel, assets, and capabilities supporting space operations, and Space Command acting as the operational command that will employ space capabilities and head-up space operations.

Credit: Getty Images

Prime Minister Abe added that Japan needs to be vigilant in defending itself from cyberspace threats and dangerous electromagnetic interference targeted against Japanese-owned satellites.

“We have elevated the relationship to one in which each of us, the U.S. and Japan, protects the other, thereby giving further force to the alliance,” Abe explained during his speech. “Going forward, it is incumbent upon us to make it even more robust, to make it a pillar for safeguarding peace and security in both outer space and cyber space.”

The Space Domain Mission Unit and its lofty operations are destined to be folded into an existing air base at Fuchu in Tokyo's western suburbs, where it will be staffed by approximately 20 people in anticipation of a full-scale rollout in 2022.

What are your thoughts on Japan's new space branch and will their uniforms be more appealing than the boring camo-printed offerings recently revealed by the U.S. Space Force?

Credit: U.S. Space Force

Battle of the Draculas: Who is king of the vampires? @ Syfy Wire

1p>Bram Stoker’s 1987 novel Dracula is one of the most iconic stories in pop culture history as well as one of the most adapted for film and television. The tale of a Transylvanian count who reveals himself to be a vampire hellbent on taking over London has endured for decades thanks to its magnetic hook and the unignorable allure of that eponymous villain.

One of the reasons Dracula has stuck around for as long as it has while many of its contemporaries were resigned to the bargain bin of literary history is that it lends itself incredibly well to re-imaginings. Count Dracula can be a thematic or metaphorical stand-in for basically any idea or anxiety you want it to. He works on so many levels — as a merciless monster, as a conflicted anti-hero, as a romantic hunk, even as a pun-loving joke.

But which version of Dracula out of the dozens available reigns supreme as the all-time greatest? With BBC and Netflix’s most recent adaptation of the book now available to watch, we’re listing some of our favorites and the ones that should have stayed in the coffin. As with all such lists, this is in no way a 100% comprehensive post of every single version of the character, but we’ve covered a pretty solid cross-section of iterations covering the past century. Here’s to more vampires in the future!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Will Get a New Comics Anthology as the Series Comes to an End @ io9

Star Wars fans are preparing to say goodbye with the seventh and final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but it won’t be the only journey into the saga. According to the Hollywood Reporter, IDW Publishing will be releasing a mini-anthology series that follows some of the heroes’ other adventures.

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WIRE Buzz: Pixar's Soul consulted with clergy; Disney movies get interactive exhibit @ Syfy Wire

1p>This summer, Pixar will reach maximum meta-physicality with Soul, a movie about where our personalities come from before we're born. In order to treat the film's material with the utmost respect, the Disney-owned animation studio actually consulted with various religious communities in order to learn what the world's various faiths have to say about souls.

"We talked with a local Buddhist instructor, a rabbi, a number of different pastors in the Christian tradition ... we even spoke with a couple of shamans," director and co-writer Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Inside Out) told Empire for the magazine's March issue (now on sale).

Soul stars Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner, a middle school teacher with a dream of becoming a world famous jazz musician. Just as he gets the big break he's been waiting for, Joe falls into a sewer hole and dies. Instead of heading to the afterlife, Joe's life-force accidentally heads to "The Great Before," a plane of existence that precedes birth. There, he meets 22 (Tina Fey), a cynical soul who sees no point in being given a body. 

While the concept of death can be unsettling and hard to comprehend for a young mind, the film's creative team wanted to present one of life's macabre eventualities through a lens of comedy.

"Death has always been a great source of comedy!" said co-writer Kemp Powers. "I mean, do you remember Heaven Can Wait? Exploring death in a disarming, funny way is not unprecedented."

Featuring the voice talents of of Phylicia Rashad, Questlove, and Daveed Diggs, Soul enters theaters on June 19.


 

Disney movies are about to hit their next stage of evolution. According to intel from The Hollywood Reporter, the London-based company known as Secret Cinema will be adapting some of the Mouse House's most iconic films for "immersive experiences."

While details are still hazy at this point, we do know that Secret Cinema is working closely with Disney’s StudioLAB ("the studio’s tech-focused storytelling laboratory hub"). The first installation is expected to open in London later this year. Exhibits will eventually hit New York and Los Angeles in the hopes of expanding to other cities down the road.

Credit: Disney

"Working with The Walt Disney Studios is much more than access to a treasure trove of titles, it’s about bringing together a unique combination of skills and expertise to build ever more authentic and amazing experiences, raising the bar again for what we mean by ‘immersive cinema,’” said Secret Cinema CEO Max Alexander in a statement, per THR.

Secret Cinema previously built experiences based around Stranger Things, Alien, Blade Runner, and even Star Wars.


 

Ahead of The Boys' second-season premiere on Amazon later this year, IDW is digging back into the comic book universe created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, SYFY WIRE has confirmed.

Titled The Boys: Dear Becky, the new series will be written by Ennis and drawn by Russell Braun, the latter of whom is a veteran illustrator of previous issues. Robertson is drawing some of the covers. Set 12 years after Hughie's marriage to Starlight, the comic is said to focus on a document that derails the duo's relationship with shocking truths about The Boys.

Using extensive flashbacks, "Dear Becky will flesh out both the pre-history of The Boys, call back to classic moments, and move the story forward," says a press release. As its title suggests, the comic's real star is Billy Butcher's late wife, Becky.

"Originally I never intended to do more with The Boys at all, but for obvious reasons I’ve found myself thinking about the story and characters again over the past couple of years," Ennis said in a statement. "There was one aspect of the original story, and one character in particular, that I never felt got a fair shake — Becky Butcher, whose demise motivates her husband Billy to do the terrible things he does, but who only actually appears in two issues of the original book. I liked writing Becky very much, almost as much as Butcher himself, and I wanted to look in greater detail at how her relatively brief appearance cast such a long shadow."

Credit: IDW

Credit: IDW

"This comic has always been close to my heart and seeing the response to the show and the new drove of readers discovering the original material, makes the timing for this series a wonderful opportunity to bring fresh material to the new readers as well as a treat for the original fans," added Robertson. "Revisiting these characters is a nice feeling, and creating covers for the series and collaborating with Ennis again is a treat." 

The Boys: Dear Becky #1 is expected to go on sale in April.


Time’s up? World Doomsday Clock ticks perilously closer to midnight destruction @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welp, it’s been a good run. But now time’s almost up for the human race, at least according to the group of scientists who’ve been calibrating their metaphorical Doomsday Clock for the past 50-plus years to caution against mankind’s self-destruction.

Sure, we (or at least some of us) may already have survived locusts, disease, famine, flooding, wars, Thanksgiving table fights, nuclear proliferation, and maybe even an exorcism or a stealth alien abduction or two. But whatever we’ve done in the past to keep the Earth from imploding under the weight of humanity’s global burden just isn’t gonna cut it much longer, cautions the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. On Thursday, the group lit up media outlets everywhere with news that they’ve moved the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand to within less than two minutes ’til midnight — the zero hour when all the bad crap that we’re doing wrong leads to civilization’s ultimate destruction.

Party time, right? Begun in 1945 from the remnants of the Manhattan Project team, the nonprofit watchdog community of scientists has tasked itself with the job of keeping tabs on the approach of our self-wrought demise ever since first deploying its cautionary clock metaphor back in 1947. With Thursday’s reset, the Doomsday Clock now stands at precisely 100 seconds until midnight — 20 seconds nearer the apocalypse than its last reset in 2018, when the (thankfully forestalled) threat of nuclear conflict between the U.S. and North Korea prompted them to move the minute hand to 11:58 p.m.

Why, specifically, did the Bulletin decide 2020’s the time to tell the world we’re all only 100 symbolic seconds from going kablooey? Climate change, those pesky nukes, and the wild card of unchecked cybercrime, according to a lengthy statement on the clock’s reset from the nonprofit’s president and CEO, Rachel Bronson:

     'Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers — nuclear war and climate change — that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.'

Movieclips on YouTube

Well, if there’s comfort to be found there (and believe us, we’re looking for some), maybe it’s that those sound like such dystopian, high-level structural problems that all the average geek can really do is crack open a beer, dial up Dr. Strangelove, and watch Slim Pickens ride that warhead all the way to oblivion….while we keep one eye on the window as we await the blessed, sweet release of that real-world orange glow. 

Important Toy News: Funko brings back the '90s and meet the coolest Batman Beyond toy ever @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that shows you a week's worth of amazing new action figures and collectibles so tasty, you’ll forget that you have to wait 3 to 6 months to get many of these majestic bits of glory. Truthfully, you might even preorder some of them today, forget you did it, and get a nice little random package in the mail one day.

Christmas doesn’t have to wait anymore because this upcoming week is… say it with me... London Toy Fair 2020!

The industry trade show takes place next week, and so far, the only toy company smashing through the gate is Funko. And seriously, I think Funko has figured out how to time travel. Pop!s are like the Quantum Leap and Sliders of the toy world.

Credit: Funko

Feeling radical yet? You should be — because Funko’s pre-Toy Fair announcements are the most '90s thing that’s ever happened to my sensibilities (since the '90s, obviously). I’m not even fully sure where to begin, but since Dinosaur's Baby Sinclair is staring at me with his beady little Funko eyes instead of his big purple eyes, I guess we can start with that.

Included in its huge announcement of new vinyl toys, Funko has included Dinosaurs, the '90s sitcom that probably had arguably the most bummer ending of any TV show ever. Also rocking '90s face are new Pop! toys from Disney’s Gummi Bears, which ran from 1985-1991 and therefore will count as a property that was present in the '90s. We have figures for all of the girls from The Craft. And we also have Batman & Robin's Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman, as well as glow in the dark Gambit from the X-Men cartoon, and more!

You can see the entire (and newly announced) Funko collection and preorder them here.

Credit: Funko

 

 

All right, you might be sick of hearing about Funko Pop!s after that rambling monologue, but I have two more for you that are nothing short of delightful. Every once in awhile, Funko goes outside the realm of the 3.75 inch Pop! toys and taps into something really fun. Anyone who knows the Funko Pop! Ride toys know what I mean — you can get Batman and the Batmobile, Speed Racer and the Mach Five, Jon Snow riding a dragon… choices are endless!

But now, Funko has a new gimmick called Pop! Town. And today we are checking out The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary — Yoda's Hut. It costs $29.99, will ship 2nd quarter 2020 and can be preordered today. You get his little house! Like what’s next, the entire Dagobah system?! So cute!

Credit: Storm Collectibles

Okay, let’s move away from this cute nonsense and onto some badass, hardcore collectibles! And for me, nothing is more extreme (or '90s, actually) than Mortal Kombat! Readers of Important Toy News know how much I adore Mortal Kombat and therefore, this new Raiden action figure from Storm Collectibles just blows me away. Its figures are perfectly scaled (seven inches of warrior), beautifully articulated, and the paint and sculpt are always breathtaking. Raiden costs $69.99, will ship May 2020, and can be preordered today.

Credit: Mondo

And moving onto another franchise I’m obsessed with, let’s talk about The Iron Giant! More specifically, let’s talk about this incredible new one from Mondo. Mondo has created a new line called “Mondo Mecha."

Standing over 12 inches tall, the Iron Giant features over 35 points of articulation, and a lot of interchangeable hands, heads, and accessories! It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s amazing. And you can preorder it today for $199.99 – it will ship September 2020. I'm really excited to see what other robots Mondo adds to its new Mondo Mecha line!

Now, how this figure differs from Mondo's preexisting Iron Giant seems to be a little bit of a mystery. But at least this one's price tag is $100 less than its predecessor!

Credit: Mezco Toyz

Speaking of things that are big and strong, Mezco Toyz is showing off a new Conan the Barbarian figure in its One:12 Collective! Per Mezco: "The fearsome warrior is outfitted in an interchangeable loincloth and includes a removable crossbody battle axe harness, removable cape that drapes freely, belt that can hold his sword sheaths and dagger, and mid-calf boots."

He costs $90 and can be preordered today from Mezco Toyz.

Credit: Hasbro

We're nearing the end, my toy loving friends, but it wouldn’t be Important Toy News without some, you know it, Superhero Toys! And this week in Superhero Toys, Hasbro is showing off a new Deluxe Black Widow. She stands 6 inches tall, in typical Marvel Legends, form and comes with lots of accessories.

She will ship in April 2020 and costs $29.99, which is about $10 more than the average ML figure. Then again, this is deluxe. Black Widow comes with two pairs of alternate hands, two pistols, two climbing hooks, seven flake effects, two electric effects, and a figure stand.

Credit: Hot Toys

And to wrap it up premium style, let’s look at a new Hot Toys figure this week!

From the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Knight video game, Hot Toys is thrilled to unveil the stylish Batman Beyond suit which has taken inspiration from the great animation series. It costs $280, can be preordered today, and will ship Q4 2020.

Here's the official description: "The figure is masterfully crafted based on the Batman Beyond suit from the Batman: Arkham Knight video game, featuring a newly painted masked head sculpt with two interchangeable lower faces, a cutting-edge Batsuit overall appearance in metallic grey with battle damage and a bright red bat symbol on chest, a finely tailored black batcape to create dynamic flying poses, an array of detailed Batman’s signature gadgets including Batman Beyond-style Batarang, grapnel, disruptor, REC gun, freeze grenade and many more!"

Translation: That is one freakin' cool toy.


Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts' Casual Queerness Is Fantastic @ io9

Dreamworks’ Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is all about a group of (mostly) average kids making their way around a strange post-apocalyptic land. It’s been overrun with mutated, sentient animals who’ve driven most of humanity to live in hiding underground. On any given day, chances are good that you could run into a…

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Dark Shadows veteran John Karlen dies at 86 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Prolific TV character actor and recurring Dark Shadows veteran John Karlen has died at age 86. Karlen, who won his Emmy for playing Harvey Lacey on Cagney & Lacey, died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday, the Associated Press confirmed.

The actor’s genre fans likely know him best for his portrayal of Willie Loomis, the catalytic con-man-turned-vampire-servant that kicks off the supernatural events of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Karlen played multiple characters (like Carl and Desmond Collins and Kendrick Young) over the course of his four-year, 180+ episode run on the show, which even translated into film roles.

Karlen reprised his role as Loomis in the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows and played Alex Jenkins in its sequel Night of Dark Shadows. Between these, however, the actor was the male lead in Harry Kümel’s erotic cult vampire film Daughters of Darkness. Like anybody who's anybody in the world of genre, B-movie host Joe Bob Briggs had an anecdote about him — specifically, one featuring Karlen on the set of Daughters of Darkness:

Not to be typecast, Karlen continued guest starring across various TV shows — like Shazam!, Charlie's Angels, and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries — and films — like 1984 sci-fi Impulse.

Karlen’s final performances were reprising one of his most beloved roles in a series of mid-’90s Cagney & Lacey TV movies.

The Churn: Discussing The Expanse Season 4, Episode 6: 'Displacement' with Dan Drezner @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to The Churn! In this episode, host Ana Marie Cox is joined by political scientist Daniel W. Drezner to discuss the plot of The Expanse Season 4, Episode 6: "Displacement." Tune in to hear Ana talk about Eureka moments and Dan talk about high school social psychology... and of course they'll touch on tensions with the Belt and mishaps on Ilus..

Listen below!

Click here for the podcast's RSS feed.

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Subscribe on Stitcher here.

Click here for previous episodes of The Churn.

If you have questions for the cast and crew, tweet us @syfywire with the hashtag #TheChurn.

A New Toy Story Short Will Explore Bo Peep's Wild Life Between the Movies @ io9

Yes, it’s time for Bo Peep: A Toy Story Story.

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Why I Went Birdwatching at a Particle Physics Lab @ io9

We drove past the perfect-circle frozen pond delineating the Booster—the second in a sequence of Fermilab’s particle accelerators—and then onto the 2-mile ring road that traces the tunnel that houses the Main Injector accelerator. Along the road are unfrozen ponds filled with water used for cooling research equipment,…

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Trypophobia goes much deeper than a fear of holes, and it will have you writhing in disgust @ Syfy Wire

1p>Remember Sarah Paulson’s character Ally from American Horror Story: Cult and her crippling fear of holes, like the piece of coral in her psychiatrist’s office?

You would probably think Ally should have been more afraid of all the clowns in that season. Trypophobia literally translates to “fear of holes,” but a recent study has found that trypophobics actually showed more disgust toward images of things like coral and sponges and the new iPhone 11 than the fear response that might have been expected. Even people who didn’t think they had the phobia cringed. Turns out it isn’t just the holes themselves that trigger this response, but something much more … disgusting.

“It is unclear why the condition exists, given the harmless nature of typical eliciting stimuli,” psychologists Tom R. Kupfer and An Le said in a study published in Cognition and Emotion. “We suggest that aversion to clusters is an evolutionarily prepared response towards a class of stimuli that resemble cues to the presence of parasites and infectious disease.”

Think about it. Fear is a fight-or-flight response that is switched on when we are exposed to something, like a highly venomous spider, that could seriously harm us (or that we perceive could do harm). There’s a reason arachnophobia has crawled into so many creepy movies. Fear can also be a response to things we may have had a particularly terrible experience. You can get why a fear of dogs that started when the phobic person was bitten by the neighbors’ Rottweiler as a kid, but holes? They apparently do nothing more than silently terrorize the observer. This is why trypophobia has been so difficult to understand.

Psychologist Stella Lourenco believes trypophobia is a loathing that goes much deeper than the holes that set it off. She and her colleagues studied patients’ pupils as they subconsciously reacted to images of dangerous creatures, trypophobic images, and neutral images of things like coffee beans or butterflies. The subjects’ pupils expanded in a typical fight-or-flight response when they landed on a spider or snake, but actually shrank when they faced nightmarish visions of holes. This is known as the rest-and-digest response and indicates stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which has control over the body at rest and pretty much never sleeps. Fear can’t stimulate it — but disgust can.

“Whereas snakes and spiders are known to elicit a fear reaction, associated with the sympathetic nervous system, anecdotal reports from self-described trypophobes suggest reactions more consistent with disgust, which is associated with activation of the parasympathetic nervous system,” Lourenco said in the study, published in PubMed.

Though Lourenco describes the phobia as “the fear of an innocuous cluster of holes,” a scene out of AHS: Cult might give you a better understanding of how trypophobes see them. Ally’s aversion to holes really flared when she was examining her pores in the mirror, and suddenly she felt an overwhelming itch take over her neck. What is supposed to be a rash to the rest of the world is reflected as a zombie-ish epidermis infested with gaping sores that just keep expanding more and more as she scratches. Cut to her pychiatrist’s office, and you can see there are no sores on Ally’s neck. She completely imagined them.

Sores like the hallucinations in the mirror can be a symptom of potentially fatal diseases. It’s legit fear of these diseases that make some people freak out at the sight of holes, even if they aren’t seeing things like Ally. This could have been a lifesaving mechanism when diseases like smallpox and the plague ran rampant. Though modern medicine has virtually eradicated those, that same disgust can drive someone away from anything that could be contaminated by other germs almost as gnarly.

“Disgust … may instead allow for the avoidance of sources of disease such as rotten food or the visibly sick,” Lourenco said. “It has been suggested that a trypophobic reaction may be an extension of an intrinsic disgust for decomposing items, sores and scars.”

So holes are actually not scary to trypophobes, but disgusting, and that disgust could be partially responsible for human survival. Horror TV shows just won’t tell you that.

(via New Scientist)

12 nonbinary actors changing the face of genre @ Syfy Wire

1p>Five years ago, I didn’t know I was nonbinary. I knew there was something about the way I felt in my body, something about the way my skin crawled around gender essentialism, that meant I was different, but I just thought it meant I was queer. When I learned that Asia Kate Dillon was nonbinary and used multiple pronouns (at the time), I started to wonder what that could possibly mean for me.

Now I’m out of another closet and (mostly) happily living my effortlessly nonbinary life. As I’ve come to understand myself, though, I’ve found comfort, recognition, and courage in representations of nonbinary people on TV and film. Being able to see people onscreen who experience their gender outside of the binary has helped me understand what being nonbinary can mean. And the more visible nonbinary people become, the easier that makes the lives of folks like me.

Nonbinary isn’t just one identity. It’s a term that some people use to describe their gender identity, and it’s a term that describes all identities outside of the woman/man gender binary. Some nonbinary gender identities include: genderfluid, genderqueer, agender, transmasculine, transfeminine, androgyne, demigender, and so many more. Some people choose one label, some claim multiple, and some feel no label is quite right. Some nonbinary people use gender-neutral pronouns, some use multiple pronouns, some use no pronoun, and some use he/him or she/her. There is no one way to be nonbinary, and this list of 12 nonbinary actors changing the face of genre proves that.

Please note: The names, pronouns, and identities listed below are accurate at the time of writing this article. People change, gender is fluid, and eventually, some of these may no longer be accurate.

WIRE Buzz: Sonic's box office projections speed up; Pokemon GO, Harry Potter events; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Even with a new set of teeth (along with a full body makeover), Sonic the Hedgehog may still recoup his extensive cosmetic overhaul in his first cinematic outing. Projections for the film’s box-office debut are out, and they’re only speeding up in the wake of the classic Sega character’s VFX facelift.

Deadline reports that Sonic the Hedgehog is predicted to make anywhere from $41 million to $47 million on its opening four-day weekend. The weekend bookended by Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day is already prime moviegoing real estate: Black Panther and Deadpool both had massive openings in that same time span. But Sonic isn’t set to match these Marvel heroes’ heights. Instead, the blue speedster will be looking at a more reasonable debut alongside the likes of the Friday the 13th remake or Kingsman: The Secret Service.

That still sets Sonic up for a top 10 all-time finish for the four-day stretch, possibly in the top five if things really go through the roof (after zipping around a loop-de-loop, of course). Pretty impressive for a movie whose first poster and trailer were so poorly received by the internet at large that the studio decided to go back to the drawing board and redo the design of its central animated character, pushing the release date back months.

Sonic the Hedgehog hits theaters on Feb. 14.


Next, mobile AR gamers will be pleased that Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is learning and growing from its early forays into live events. This year looks to be a big one for the company’s move into festivals and gatherings, which have only gotten better after an early Chicago endeavor for its Pokémon Go crashed and burned.

According to Niantic’s new events page, the Windy City isn’t going to be getting all the fun this year. Pokémon Go is coming to Taichung from Feb. 6-9, for the Taiwan Lantern Festival; St. Louis from March 27-29, for a region-specific Safari Zone; Liverpool from April 17-19, for a Safari Zone of its own; and Philadelphia from May 8-10, for another Safari event. Ticketing for these events starts in late January.

The Wizarding World of augmented reality is getting a follow-up to last year’s Fan Festival — though the date is so far unannounced.


Finally, a new NBC pilot melds Quantum Leap and Criminal Minds — and it’s as crazy as that sounds. 

According to Deadline, Echo, from writer J.J. Bailey, sets up a series where a team of criminal investigators solve headline-hitting crimes from the inside out ... literally. They send people back in time into the bodies of the victims (also known as the Quantum Leap mechanic), so they can both escape the murders and figure out who killed them in the original timeline. Quantum Leap was also being talked about with regard to a reboot at Peacock, so perhaps fans will be blessed with two body-hopping time-travel shows in the near future.

Echo's synopsis, however, fails to explain how its timelines will be affected by this meddling — though with modern genre audiences already familiar with the concepts explained in Avengers: Endgame, maybe Echo will take a real stab at an alternate reality solution.

Echo’s pilot will come from Universal TV.

Inside the secretive world of mythical failed toys, like Krull and The Last Starfighter @ Syfy Wire

1p>Toys are often direct lines to our pasts, nostalgia triggers that bring on waves of happy memories. If you were a Star Wars or Superman fan as a kid, it was certainly easy to find your favorite characters on the toy shelves, and new lines with beloved characters are pumped out each and every week (as you'll find in our column Important Toy News). But if you grew up obsessed with less popular characters from movies and shows that bombed, you were unlikely to find toys that fit your niche.

Now, thanks to a new book series, you can at least see what those toys could have looked like.

As the author of Toys That Time Forgot Volume One and Volume Two, author Blake Wright is the go-to man when it comes to information about canceled toys and prototypes. A canceled toy line is a toy that never got past the planning stage and was never released. Planning is a loose term, as it can consist of just concept art or even built, sculpted, prototype forms. What causes a toy line not to get made? There are many reasons, including manufacturer bankruptcy, franchise flop, and the failure of a first line of toys leading to the cancellation of a second.

To learn more about these tragedies, SYFY WIRE hung out with Wright, who gave us the inside word on canceled toys.

Credit: Toys That Time Forgot

You’ve become the authority on defunct toy lines and prototypes. How did you gain enough clout and knowledge that you were able to write two full books on the topic?

I’ve always loved the toy industry. And being a toy collector and journalist by trade, I was really interested in the magazines from that field, like ToyFare. By 2014, there weren’t really any more regular action figure publications, so I wanted to start one up and fill that sphere. So I started up Little Plastic Men – The Magazine!, inspired by the online toy store I used to have. It was editorially very successful, but not financially. I started feeling disheartened by the commercial failure.

However, the reception to the magazine inspired me to do one final issue, and it was going to be completely dedicated to unproduced toys. There was a column in the magazine called “Prototypically Unproductive."

It was the magazine’s most popular entry and all about unproduced toys. It would be a couple of pages of me talking to sculptors or former toy executives about a line that didn’t make it. I think we’d covered Sesame Street from Palisades, Series 2 Sectaurs, Series 2 Earthworm Jim — all things that ended up in the first book and were then expanded on. But as soon as I started researching for that final issue, I realized that it needed to be more than just a PDF on the internet.

Credit: Blake Wright

During the time people were sending you images and documents with unproduced toy lines and figures, did anyone ever (accidentally or otherwise) send you a fake, or an urban legend, or mistake a bootleg/customized mockup with the real thing?

No, not anything that’s coming to mind. The closest thing to that was having to identify and confirm when six of the 12 prototypes from The Last Starfighter resurfaced. A lot of people were looking for those for a very long time and they were in a collector’s garage. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and got a call from a dealer in Northern California. I just so happened to be there and was planning on going to Los Angeles the next day. He told me about the collector who had these six prototypes and was going to bring them into his shop the next day and wanted me to take a look.

I postponed my trip to L.A. and went to the store to meet with the dealer and the collector. I had these Last Starfighter prototypes in my hand and I’m really pretty sure they were the real thing. You take the Galoob Toy Fair catalog from the year they were announced, 1984, and just do a lot of comparing on the paint and sculpts. I was able to come away with a fairly good feeling, and after speaking with former Galoob people, we confirmed they were the real thing. They were kitbashed, which means the toys were sculpted over existing action figures, and if you looked close enough, you could see they used Mego MASH figures a couple of times. It was one of the ways we were able to authenticate them.

Credit: The Toys That Made Us

Was there a toy line you found in your research that you had absolutely no idea existed and was a complete surprise?

The toy line from Volume One that I was most excited to find and had no idea that anyone had the license [for] was from the movie Krull.

With The Last Starfighter, even though they were rare, the toys had been announced in Toy Fair and images of them were all over the internet. Krull was a movie from 1983 that tried to capture the Star Wars mythos and was a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy film and had the coolest weapon. That movie from the start just screamed toys. There were Cyclops and stormtrooper-style soldiers and horses that shoot fire from their hooves — they were amazing. At the rate people were making toys in the early '80s, the golden age of boys’ toys, it surprised me no one ever made them.

Well, turns out someone did, and it was Knickerbocker. They had limited success in the action figure world at the time but had done the Lord of the Rings figures based on the Ralph Bakshi film. For Krull, they hired a pair of sculptors, paid them, but then at the 11th hour, it started falling apart.

Word was getting around that production of the movie wasn’t going well, and Knickerbocker was going through an unspoken acquisition by Hasbro. Therefore, the toy line was killed.

But then, almost 35 years later, I ended up with one of those figures in my hand. I got to see drawings of all of the figures that never got to be made. No one knew these Krull toys were even underway. It was really just amazing to see it. When it comes to failed toy lines, there’s almost never anything saved, especially with paper. It’s thrown out so easily. I found an official Knickerbocker document dated August 1982 that [confirmed] the Krull toys were being prepped for production. It was just amazing — that piece of paper had no business existing in 2017, but there is was!

Credit: Blake Wright

Why do you think it's so important to make sure people know about these canceled toys and defunct action figure lines?

Mostly, I like to hear the stories of the people who worked so hard to create prototype toys and sculpts. Think about it, all of these canceled toy lines and prototypes that never got to see the light of day, it was really nice to be able to go back and feature some of those hard-working people and recognize and share some of the work that they did.

If you were in your 30s making toys in the 1980s, you’re in your 70s now. We’re not going to have these guys much longer, and we have to get in front of them with a microphone and capture their stories. How this happened, why this happened, and when they’re gone, we can only hope that their families go through their archives and make sure it doesn’t just get thrown out. Shows like The Toys That Made Us are really great at showing you a little bit of what happens behind the scenes. Just remember, for every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Masters of the Universe, there is a Krull.

You've written two books about prototype toys. Do you have enough material for a third?

I do — I started getting emails from collectors and industry veterans who have pieces I might be interested in. Once Volume One hit the streets, those emails increased. People wanted to share with me what they’ve collected or what they wanted to see in the next book. For that first volume of Toys That Time Forgot, I barely relied on the collecting community. High-end prototype collectors can be a secretive bunch. But for the second book, the number of collectors with prototypes and concept art that I spoke with may have surpassed the number of industry folk.

They’ve been very gracious with their time, and a few have even invited me into their homes and let me hang out for the weekend!

Toys That Time Forgot Volume Two can be ordered today for $49.99.

 

 

In the Shocking Trailer for Vivarium, Home Buying Can't Get Much Worse Than This @ io9

All you really need to know about Vivarium are its cast and its premise. Once you have those pieces, odds are you’ll be interested. Unfortunately, movies also need trailers, trailers need footage, and the Vivarium trailer has a little too much footage. It spoils a lot. And yet, if the cast and premise get you…

Read more...

The Daily Bugle returns to its investigative roots in this exclusive preview @ io9

As the journalism industry goes through sweeping changes, the fictional newspapers of Marvel and DC’s superhero universes have transformed to reflect the times. The Daily Bugle has gone through major transitions in ownership and editorial agendas over the years, but with the rising need for good journalism in a time…

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Denis Villeneuve would revisit the world of Blade Runner, just not in sequel form @ Syfy Wire

1p>Making a sequel to a classic movie is never easy. The task becomes even more difficult when the original film came out more than three decades before the follow-up flick. But Denis Villeneuve did just that with Blade Runner 2049, which arrived 35 years after Ridley Scott's groundbreaking adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Villeneuve, who is known for making Arrival and Sicario, would have no problem returning to this richly futuristic mythos, although it would have to be through the conduit of a fresh story and cast of characters.

"It's such an inspiring space, the Blade Runner world," the director told Empire for the magazine's March issue. "The problem I have is the word 'sequel.' I think cinema needs original stories. But if you ask if I'd like to revisit this universe in a different way, I can say yes. It would need to be a project on its own. Something disconnected from both other movies. A detective noir story set in the future ... I wake up sometimes in the night dreaming about it."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Starring Ryan Gosling as a new android hunter by the name of K, Blade Runner 2049 was critically acclaimed and made a little over $260 million at the worldwide box office. Harrison Ford came back to play Rick Deckard. While the project didn't make a ton of money, it was (and is) a stylistic and narrative achievement that some fans consider to be better than its 1982 predecessor, which was also not an immediate or iconic success upon initial release.

"It was by far one of the most beautiful cinematic experiences," Villeneuve also said during his chat with Empire. "But I haven't watched the movie since the premiere. Making movies is a lot of joy and a lot of pain, and I have to make peace with all that. And I'm not at peace yet. It's gonna be a long time until I'm able to watch the film again."

The filmmaker's next big-screen release is Dune, another science fiction epic that also draws its main story from a celebrated genre author. Based on a script Villeneuve co-wrote with Eric Roth (Munich) and Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange), the big-budget and all-star adaptation of Frank Herbert's seminal novel opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, Dec. 18.


14 Women Directing Genre Movies We're Excited to Watch @ io9

The Oscars (and most Hollywood awards, for that matter) might be notorious for ignoring women directors but fortunately, genre cinema doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, some of our most anticipated superhero, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror films are directed by women. Imagine that!

Read more...

WIRE Buzz: Locke & Key S2 scripting underway; Space Jam 2 reveals uniforms; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Not long after Netflix unlocked the first trailer for its adaptation of the Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s graphic novel series Locke & Key did it lead to far more doors and far more keys for the family Locke. That’s because the supernatural show — which takes place in a house full of doors that lead to, well, everywhere, and involves a demon that would love to take hold of this particularly powerful keyring — has already begun production on its second season.

This comes not only before the premiere of Locke & Key's first season, but before the streaming service has greenlit a second season of the show ... officially, anyway. Speaking to Gamespot, executive producer and co-showrunner Carlton Cuse said that regardless, scripting is underway. "We're writing Season 2, even though it hasn't been greenlit. We're working in a room," said Cuse, who helms the show alongside Meredith Averill.

The source material has ended (it ran from 2008 to 2013), but that doesn’t mean Locke & Key has a set series finale in place. "I think by the time we get to the end of the season, we'll have a better sense of how much longer the show can go,” Cuse said. “We've spent a lot of time talking with Joe [Hill], and I think, in concert with Joe, we'll figure out the answer to that question. I mean, it is a cool ending, but again, the show's diverging from the comics and it becomes something [else]. We want to be sure that the ending works for the TV series and we're not just forcing ourselves into an ending for endings' sake. We want the ending to be something that really feels like it's the right conclusion for our story."

These tweaks could be simply practical (like modifying the timeline so that an actor’s age doesn’t necessarily have to stick to the slowed growth of that of a comic character) or more creatively inclined, but the fact that Averill and Cuse already feel comfortable tweaking their take on the material should make fans optimistic. If anything, it means that the endless iterations this adaptation has gone through have only given the forces behind it more flexible expertise.

The first season of Locke & Key hits Netflix on Feb. 7.


Next, fans can welcome some new duds to the jam. Space Jam 2 — the sequel to Michael Jordan’s basketball-meets-Looney-Tunes film from producer/star LeBron James and director Malcolm D. Lee — has some new uniforms to show off, allowing fans to preemptively choose whether they’re part of the dream team or the mean team.

Take a look:

The Nike collaboration with Space Jam 2 has given fans a glimpse at both the alien Monstar and heroic cartoon Tune Squad uniforms. While recognizable as growing from the original fashion choices, these new threads are both modern ... and heavily branded. I guess when LeBron is in charge, he’s making sure he makes his mark.

Space Jam 2 will star James, Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, and Diana Taurasi when it premieres on July 16, 2021.


Finally, a weirdo suburban dystopia film starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots (that got plenty of play at Cannes) has its first trailer. Vivarium, like the first feature film from David Cronenberg, is all about the horrors of heavily planned real estate. No, really. Director Lorcan Finnegan takes the idea of the perfect starter home, twists it into a nightmare, and lets all hell break loose.

Check it out:

“Raise the child and be released” is the worst thing you could find written inside your Amazon delivery box, but to this married pair stuck in Purgatory ... it could be their only ticket out. What a weird, weird ticket that baby will be.

Vivarium does not yet have a U.S. release date, but its worldwide theatrical dates start in March.

FANGRRLtopia: Boob windows for what? @ Syfy Wire

1p>Today, in FANGRRLtopia, we're talking about superhero costumes. They aren’t always practical, nor do they always make sense. Take, for instance, nipples on Batman and Robin’s suits in the movie Batman & Robin. They aren’t needed, but at least they’re bulletproof nipples, and both Batman and Robin need that protection. Now imagine if their suits had cutouts just to show their actual nipples. While it could be aesthetically pleasing, one shot to the chest and both heroes are reunited with their slain families.

Provocative but foolish is what cleavage windows are — but, more importantly, the lack of support they provide is downright cruel since those with the heaviest chest often are given suits with them. In our utopia, poorly designed boob windows don’t exist because they simply don’t make much reasonable sense.  

Let’s get into how unintentionally funny and absurd some of the suit designs are. The first one that will always come to mind is Power Girl’s suit. Her suit is described as having a cleavage cutout ... which is generous, to say the least. Call it what it is: a boob bay window. Kara Zor-L of Earth-Two might be an alien with superstrength, speed, laser eyes, and durability, but that doesn't mean she can just casually go without the chest support. How can anyone leap buildings in a single bound without fear of something not tightly secured popping up by the time they make it to the other side? That’s stressful!

To further affirm just how ridiculous it is that Power Girl has to fly around constantly one well-placed breeze away from a nip slip, let's remember her explanation in JSA: Classified #2. Power Girl’s parents didn’t slingshot her into space to land on Earth-Two so she could explain to her cousin that the cutout on her chest is there because she hasn’t earned a symbol yet. Girl, no. Not being able to fly has never stopped Batman from wearing a cape, so Power Girl not knowing what symbol to place on her chest doesn’t mean she has to leave the material cut out instead of just leaving it BLANK. As strongly independent as Power Girl is, her saying she wants the cutout because she likes how the breeze feels while flying faster than a speeding bullet is much more believable and relatable. 


 

JSA: Classified #2/DC Comics

Another boob window begging for Cardi B's ”WHAT WAS THE REASON?” is Sue Storm’s early '90s suit. While it looks as though it might provide just a touch more support than Power Girl’s, it still screams doing a lot for the male gaze. Sue’s suit has a number-four cut out in the chest area. A boob peek-a-boo of sorts. So Power Girl left her chest bare because she felt like she hadn’t earned a symbol, but Sue has one and it’s cut out of the suit. Yes, this all makes complete sense and is extremely reasonable.

At least Power Girl has bulletproof skin and a shot to the chest wouldn't mean much, but that is not the case for Sue. Sure, she can create force fields, but why even bother when she could just not have a hole in the middle of her chest in the shape of a four. To think Sue looked Reed Richards right in the eye and said, “Honey, cut the four out of the chest, I really want a flesh-tone four.” It's actually quite hilarious, all things considered. She makes way too many visits to Atlanis to not have a full suit anyway. Maybe that’s how Namor likes it, though: already wet. 

Fantastic Four #382/Marvel Comics

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So, there’s the boob bay window, boob peek-a-boo cutout, and then there are the boob holsters. You read that correctly and it’s whatever you might be thinking ... but somehow worse. At one point, Starfire’s entire suit just consisted of these modified holsters that only existed to cover her nipples. Alien or not, no one has double-sided tape strong enough to keep whatever that creation was in place.

Maybe the density of an alien breast is lighter than that of a human, but even still, it's hard to believe they’re light enough to go without any kind of support. Similar to Power Girl, Starfire is doing a lot of flying. The number of bugs or just dirt that would wind up on her body would be disgustingly high. The guns the Punisher runs around with have more support than Starfire’s suit could ever have provided her. Imagine a villain's plans actually working out due to lower back pain or the contracting of a terrible rash from flying around in mess. 

 

DC Comics

Now we also understand that it’s up to the wearer whether they want to have their business out. We fully, ahem, support the choice to do so. With that said, in our utopia, Savage X Fenty would team up with The Incredibles’ Edna Mode, who loves working with some top-tier material. Edna also knows how to make a sleek but sexy suit, especially if that’s something someone wants. She’s like the super suit whisperer, creating looks that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are supportive and functional. Edna did not one, but two suits for Elastagirl, both protected and showing off the wagon she drags around.

The point is that, in our FANGRRLtopia, Edna would create suits with cleavage windows that don’t leave everyone wondering how in the name of Galactus those breasts are not escaping like Arkham Asylum runaways after the first punch. Edna X Fenty for all your super suit needs. 

Fan Theory Madness: Morbius silliness, Finn's Force powers, and a terrible Black Widow theory @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to Fan Theory Madness, your guide to what fan theories, good and bad, are taking the internet by storm!

With so many fan theories floating around the web, it can be hard to know which ones to take seriously and which ones are wildly off the mark. Some theories are brilliant breakthroughs that reveal a whole new understanding of what a work of fiction means, or they're spot-on predictions about what's going to happen in the next installment. Others are specious bunk, deeply flawed theories that nevertheless get aggregated by some of the less scrupulous news sites.

This week, we've got a debunking of a Morbius fan theory, a somewhat ridiculous Star Wars theory, and then we'll finish with a totally ridiculous Black Widow theory. Folks, it's a rough one.

JARED HARRIS IS NOT PLAYING DOCTOR OCTOPUS IN MORBIUS

Personally, I find the existence of Morbius — a movie starring Jared Leto as a vampiric, second-tier Spider-Man character — somewhat unbelievable, but now one fairly believable fan theory about the film has been officially debunked. Jared Harris of Chernobyl and The Terror fame appears in the first trailer as an as-yet-unknown character. Many fans suspected that Harris could be playing a new version of Doctor Octopus, especially because Michael Keaton's presence implies that he’s returning as the Vulture. Perhaps the presence of these two iconic Spidey villains could be setting the stage for a Sinister Six team-up?

"No," Harris said when Variety asked him on the red carpet for the Screen Actors Guild Awards. "I love the imagination that the fans have, it’s exciting for me to think about the imagination that fans have. But yeah no, it’s not."

Assuming Harris isn’t just lying to avoid spoiling the movie’s big reveal (a possibility but one that doesn’t feel super likely), that’s probably fine. The continuity of Sony’s Spider-Man movies, like Venom before this, is already confusing enough without introducing even more classic Spidey villains.

FINN USED THE FORCE TO MOVE ROCKS IN LAST JEDI?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker implied that Finn is Force-sensitive, and director J.J. Abrams has confirmed that Finn's near-confession to Rey in the movie's first act would have been him telling her about his connection to the Force. (Never mind that it definitely seemed like Finn was about to confess his feelings, turns out he actually wanted to talk about the Force.)

Anyway, this theory posits that Finn actually displayed Force abilities earlier, at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. When Rey uses her Force abilities to lift away the rocks that had trapped the remaining members of the Resistance in a cave on Crait, Finn rushes toward her as they reunite. When he does so, the rocks move out of his way. Was this because Finn was subconsciously moving them as Rey levitated them?

No. Intentionally or not, this theory falls into the "Rey's a Mary Sue for being too good at the Force" line of thinking, as it implies that she couldn't be moving the rocks with such ease herself. The real reason the rocks move as Finn runs through them is that it made for a cooler visual than to just have Finn run through a group of static levitating rocks. Finn's latent Force abilities didn't manifest just so he could clear a path for himself and create a nice aesthetic.

Credit: Marvel

BLACK WIDOW DIDN’T DIE IN ENDGAME, SOME RANDO DID INSTEAD???

Black Widow sacrificed herself in Avengers: Endgame in order to recover the Soul Stone, but what this truly misguided fan theory presupposes is, what if she didn't? The theory notes how in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha wore a hologram-like mask that allowed her to sneak into Alexander Pierce's meeting and help foil his evil plan. What if, the theory argues, it wasn't actually Natasha who died in Endgame but someone else who was wearing a similar mask in order to look like Natasha?

... What?

Why are we doing this?! This is a terrible theory! Who was the other person? Where was the real Natasha? What possible reason would there be for someone who wasn't Natasha to go undercover on the Avengers' "time heist" mission and then sacrifice herself in order to save Clint? (Also, if it wasn't Natasha, would the sacrifice even be worthy of the Soul Stone, since Clint wouldn't actually have a deep connection with the deceased?) There isn't a shred of evidence suggesting that this theory is remotely true, and from a narrative level, it makes no sense. It totally and awkwardly undermines any sense of stakes that Endgame had.

This theory should not be aggregated. Yes, I'm partially complicit because I'm writing about it, but please know it's only so that I can rail on it, and to shame any outlet who did write this up without that intention.

"We acquiesce, there is very little proof for this theory actually being tenable," one aggregation wrote. "However, if Marvel threw the rule book entirely out of the window, it is technically possible."

This is incredibly cynical — a naked attempt to wring traffic out of a story that everyone involved knows is a baseless waste of time. Even if it's just about a fictional character from a movie, to write about this is to encourage both content for content's sake and to promote a flawed understanding of how to engage with art.

 

 


From conspiracies to eulogies, Twitter is going nuts over the untimely death of Mr. Peanut @ Syfy Wire

1p>Now that Mr. Peanut is dead, Twitter is remembering the famous Planters mascot with a slew of eulogies, conspiracy theories, and jokes. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine during the grieving process.

Did the anthropomorphic legume really die? Was he killed to cover up something sinister? Was the fancy-looking goober hiding dark secrets for the last 104 years? Was his soul sent to the Good Place or the Bad Place? All of these questions and more were explored in tweets over the last 24 hours, but we won't be getting any firm answers until the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Even other brands are coming out of their shells to get in on the action, while people with severe nut allergies are most likely breathing a collective sigh of relief. The avatar of their worst fear can no longer hurt them.

Whether you think Mr. Peanut selflessly sacrificed himself to save Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh or he was pushed off that low-hanging branch by someone hiding on the grassy knoll, check out some of the best Twitter reactions to the character's passing below ... (NSFW warning on a few of these!)


Don't Get Your Undies In a Twist, Snag a 4-Pack Of Fruit of the Loom Men’s Briefs For $13 @ io9

Fruit of the Loom Men’s Micro-Mesh Briefs, 4 Pack | $13 | Daily Steals | Promo code KJFOTL

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Inking the Dark Side: What This Artist Learned From 20 Years of Star Wars Tattooing @ io9

Many Star Wars fans are passionate, but few make their passion as permanent as Needles.

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Scientists Just Made a 3,000-Year-Old Mummy 'Speak' @ io9

Have you ever wondered what an ancient Egyptian mummy would sound like if it could talk? A wild new scientific experiment has finally answered this burning question, but the result is perhaps less impressive (and certainly less ominous) than you might think.

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Admiral Ackbar would have been in Rogue One if J.J. Abrams hadn't snapped him up @ Syfy Wire

1p>Admiral Ackbar, Star Wars’ fish-headed Rebel military leader whose squidish race (Mon Calamari) is only matched in silly brilliance by his beloved line of dialogue (“It’s a trap!”), is a fan favorite for a reason. He’s a perfect example of the original trilogy’s weird, imaginative charm. It’s no wonder those continuing the story of the Skywalkers wanted to include him in all their narratives. As it turns out, two Star Wars writers — The Force Awakens’ J.J. Abrams and Rogue One’s Gary Whitta — both wanted Ackbar in their films, but Abrams won out because he got there first.

Whitta explained his idea for Ackbar’s involvement in Rogue One, a film which is set even before the first Star Wars, on Twitter — along with the reasons it didn’t come to fruition.

Take a look:

Why no Ackbar? Well, Abrams had the leader (now of the Resistance) hanging out at HQ as the squad prepared to take out Starkiller Base. Disney decided that was enough Ackbar for the time being:

Until, of course, he died in The Last Jedi’s explosive prelude to Leia’s Force-driven spaceflight. But even in this scene, Whitta fought for his boy Ackbar. Whitta wrote the TLJ comic, in which Ackbar gets some final words (something omitted from his on-screen death): "Torpedoes inbound! It's been an honor serving with you all."

Whitta shared a few other behind-the-scenes details about Rogue One’s journey from script to screen, including the fact that — up until footage had been shot and trailer had been cut—the vault where the Death Star plans were kept was at a separate facility from the place Jyn needed to transmit them from:

Another, much earlier change involved a character that already got a defining moment in Rogue One: Darth Vader. Apparently, Whitta wanted Vader down on the planet’s surface, tearing through Rebel scum on his way to stop Jyn. It sounds awesome:

Thankfully, as Whitta says, fans got to see Vader at his most brutal in the film in any case — but just thinking about the possibilities that didn’t work out for the first Star Wars Story make future entries into the nooks and crannies of the canon even more exciting.

The real Monsters Inc.? Everything you didn't know about Aaahh!!! Real Monsters @ Syfy Wire

1p>Over 25 years ago, Nickelodeon happily traumatized a generation of children with the aptly named series Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. That’s right, triple A, double hh, and three exclamation marks are part of the show's official name. And as the title implies, the series follows the exploits of real monsters.

However, one of the most striking things about the series is the way that it seems to pave the way for Pixar's Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. Those movies had premises that were remarkably close to the show. But no one could possibly confuse Monsters, Inc.'s cuddly CGI monsters with the grotesque and stylized creatures of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is also the creation of Gábor Csupó and Peter Gaffney and was produced by Klasky Csupo, the company behind Nickelodeon's Rugrats. Csupo and his ex-wife, Arlene Klasky, were instrumental in the creation of Rugrats, but that seemingly unrelated show paved the way for their second series, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. While Rugrats hinted at childhood fears about monsters hiding under the bed, the followup series was actually allowed to run with that idea. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was also allowed to make its creatures truly gross and disturbing; it would be hard to imagine a kids' show getting away with a lot of these gags today.

The series also had memorable vocal performances by Hollywood legends Tim Curry and Jim Belushi, as well as series regulars Charlie Adler, Christine Cavanaugh. David Eccles, and Gregg Berger. Their collective voices gave the assembled monsters their humanity, while allowing them to still have the edge needed to gross out and occasionally traumatize kids watching at home.

For more details about Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's Everything You Didn't Know!

The Captain Marvel Sequel's Connection to WandaVision Could Be Growing Stronger @ io9

It was a given that Carol Danvers would return to the big screen in a sequel to last year’s Captain Marvel. But according to a new report, Marvel’s found a writer to pen the movie’s script who’s already been hard at work crafting another important part of the MCU.

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This Winter Running Gear is So Good That It Will Make You Forget You're Running @ io9

Running is hard. Winter is cold. When you put the two of them together, it can feel like a mishmash of the Seventh Circle of (Frozen) Hell. Amiright?

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Chosen One of the Day: Ahsoka Tano, period @ Syfy Wire

1p>There are few characters as beloved as Ahsoka freakin’ Tano. It was a slow burn of a love, to be sure (hoo boy Artooey, is the early Clone Wars era is r o u g h).

Yesterday, the trailer for the final season of the Clone Wars dropped and we’re reminded of what a bad*ss Ahsoka has consistently been in the face of absolute constant nonsense. 

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

She’s dealt with Anakin’s nonsense, with Obi Wan’s nonsense, with the whole-ass Jedi council’s nonsense. Jedi Master? No thanks. Ahsoka’s a Master at Dealing With Nonsense. 

She may have walked away from the Order, but in the latest trailer, she’s back in the thick of it on the Siege of Mandalore. And LOOK AT HER GO. 

“We were trained to be keepers of the peace,” she starts, when asked why anyone would leave the Jedi, “not soldiers.” 

Talk about a sick burn. Okay, it’s way more serious than that, but truly, Ahsoka sees what’s happening. Clone Wars is coming back on February 21 and just look at all the Ahsoka in this teaser. 

Ahsoka and explosions! We get Ahsoka on a space motorcycle!

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

[Ed. note: we know it's a speeder bike leave us alone and let us have this space motorcycle.]

Ahsoka WITH HER TWO FRIGGIN LIGHTSABERS I CAN. NOT. 

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Ahsoka Tano is the best of what Star Wars can be, and I want her in all things. Books, movies, TV shows, video games. Experiencing a new Star Wars thing only to find they haven’t included her is always the great sadness of my life in that moment. 

Suffice to say, we’ll take all the Ahsoka we can get. 

Picard: Critics praise Patrick Stewart, but note 'sluggish pace' slows down Star Trek action @ Syfy Wire

1p>It's been almost two decades since Star Trek: The Next Generation wrapped up for good (or so we thought) in 2002's feature film, Nemesis. With 18 years of hindsight at its disposal, CBS All Access returns to the world of TNG with Star Trek: Picard, a follow-up series that centers on an aged and jaded Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart returns!).

With Episode 1 ("Remembrance" - read our recap here) now streaming, critics are finally able to post their reviews of the first three episodes, which have been under embargo until today.

So, what's the general consensus among the usual suspects of pop culture outlets? Well, the new show seems to be splitting folks right down the middle. No one can deny the acting prowess of Stewart, but some reviews do point to tonal disjointedness and the fact that non-Next Generation fans may not find the nostalgia and Easter egg-filled Picard all that satisfying.

After giving up leadership of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc, who is still haunted by Data's death, leads a quite existence on a vineyard in France. Naturally, that doesn't make for a ton of quality entertainment, so the main story finds Picard leaving retirement for more cosmic adventures.

Alison Pill, Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd, Harry Treadaway, Evan Evagora, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis co-star.

Set your phasers to stun and find out what critics are saying below...

Picard’s great asset is its title character — as played by Sir Patrick Stewart, who, at 79, seems somehow yet more in command of his craft as an actor even as his character has ceded command of the Enterprise." -Daniel D'Addario, Variety

"Even by my tolerant standards found [the first three episodes] a little expositionally over-the-top. The events that get stretched over three, 40-minute episodes of Picard probably could have been dispatched in the opening 10 minutes of a feature and surely couple have been delivered in one or two TV installments without sacrificing room to breathe." -Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter

"The sluggish pace thus begins to drain interest, at least for those who didn't hang on Next Generation's every wrinkle. That leaves the prospect of upcoming Next Generation cameos ... as perhaps the best incentive to stay aboard, as opposed to where the story's ultimately heading." -Brian Lowry, CNN

"The arrival of a new Star Trek series (the seventh), especially one whose roots go back to the 1980s, is an obvious occasion for nostalgia and Easter egg-hunting, and Picard does not disappoint." -Mike Hale, The New York Times

"The series ... shares its lead character’s penchant for delving into history, but keeps its eyes trained forward, seeking out new ways to tell classic Trek stories—among them, exploring what it means to be human." -Danette Chavez, The A.V. Club

"It is a strange episode, paced to almost overwhelm with information that at this point doesn’t quite point in a consistent direction. Like all legacy sequels, it’s jam-packed with references to its predecessors ... In keeping with its sister show Discovery, it’s also rather cinematic, entirely shrugging off the visual identity of the comparatively stagey, beigey Next Generation." -Andrew Todd, Birth.Movies.Death.

"Does anyone want a bitter and brutal Star Trek, full of murder-sorrow flashbacks, swoopy-kinetic fights, and all-encompassing paranoia? So much of Trek since 2009 strains to resemble the dumbest version of cool ... Picard has flashes of eccentricity, and any science-fiction show with a Miguel de Unamuno shoutout demands a quantum of hope. But for now, this is another disappointing Star Trek. Should we give it a chance? My advice: Disengage." -Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly

"Stewart’s compelling enough to justify a relatively leisurely pace in the early going. There are a lot of new characters to introduce, and new circumstances for Picard, the Federation, and the Romulans. But it all feels cohesive and confident in a way that Discovery even in its good moments never quite has." -Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone 

"Surrounded by a new and intriguing supporting cast, Picard is more than just another rehash. It's the best continuation of the Trek universe since J.J. Abrams' 2009 film, with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. Like Next Generation and the original series, Picard explodes with heart, using its sci-fi trappings to tell a deeply human story about love lost and potentially found." -Kelly Lawler, USA Today


Thursday's Best Deals: Hot Sauce, AirPods Pro, Google Home, Backcountry, and More @ io9

A Cuisinel Gold Box, Vizio surround sound system, hot honey, and Harry Potter wands lead off Thursday’s best deals from around the web.

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Brave The Chalice Dungeon with Bloodborne: The Card Game For a Low $17 @ io9

Jodie Whittaker's Doctor Is Staying in the TARDIS for at Least Another Year @ io9

Richard Madden takes flight in even more new Eternals set pictures. Disney is turning to luchador superheroics. Winn’s getting a costume upgrade in new Supergirl pictures. Plus, a creepy new clip from Color Out of Space, what’s to come on Riverdale, and the new Saw movie might have a mysterious title. Spoilers go!

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Star Trek: Picard's first scene on a rebuilt USS Enterprise is meant to freak you out @ Syfy Wire

1p>The very first shot in the very first episode of Star Trek: Picard was designed to put fans on red alert. We see the '90s-era USS Enterprise, we see Picard and Data playing poker in Ten Forward, and we can't help but ask: Is this an episode of The Next Generation?

Star Trek: Picard is a decidedly different Trek beast than anything that has come before, and after over 50 years of space travel, the crew of this new show felt fans had to be eased into it. That meant something familiar at first — with a twist. For the director of the first three episodes of the new Star Trek series, Hanelle M. Culpepper, the goal wasn't to revel in fan service, but instead to make longtime fans feel wary of what was coming next.

Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard, Season 1, Episode 1: "Remembrance."

"I feel like there wasn't too much nostalgia. There couldn't be too much nostalgia," Culpepper tells SYFY WIRE of the very first shot of the first episode of Star Trek: Picard. "The idea was to make audiences feel like they were watching The Next Generation, but it was a little bit off. We rebuilt the set [of Ten Forward] exactly as it was, as best we could. But Patrick was not in his uniform."

Culpepper explains that initially she had pushed for Picard to appear in a Starfleet uniform in the first shot, to "complete" the pseudo-deception that we were "reentering" the world of The Next Generation, but that Sir Patrick Stewart didn't want to be in uniform for the very beginning. Turns out, the Captain still calls a few shots.

"We gave in to what he felt was best. And you do get that heartwarming feeling that you're back in The Next Generation before it totally turns." A longtime director of film and television, with credits ranging from various installments of the Arrowverse to pivotal episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, Culpepper's approach to cinematography in television is artistic and specific. And she was very aware, early on, that she did not want the cinematic tone of Picard to look anything like the Discovery episodes she directed. That so much of Picard was shot on location made that easier to achieve, but there was even more thought put into it from the perspective of the way the shots were framed.

 Hanelle M. Culpepper directs Patrick Stewart in 'Star Trek: Picard.' (Credit: CBS)

"I always wanted to distinguish it from Discovery. We moved the cameras less. We went handheld," she says. "And, because so much was shot on location, it limits the time you have, so that changes the craft. Before I was hired — because the script was so top secret — I had envisioned that Picard might be an ambassador on other planets, but it was nice to be able to shoot so much outside and in real places."

Trekkies who are planning their vacation to La Barre, France, to take a vacation at Jean-Luc Picard's wine vineyard, there's good news and bad news. For international fans and Americans who have booked non-refundable plane trips, know that the beautiful vineyard you see in Star Trek: Picard isn't really in France — it's in the United States.

"We shot Chateau Picard at Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez, California," Culpepper explains. "I loved The Next Generation but didn't feel like the house from The Next Generation felt like a chateau. It was crucial to me that felt like it was in France, after asking the producers; 'Can we shoot in France?' and getting a big fat 'No,' we ended up finding this spot in Santa Ynez which is made of brick that is imported from France. It's about as authentic as you can get!"

Credit: CBS

As you watch Picard, you'll see various mirror images play across the frame, as though the images and light are being glimpsed through real eyes, not the static lens of a TV camera. When we're in Jean-Luc's Chateau Picard, sometimes it feels like we're catching glimpses of the characters through wine glasses or bottles, which, it turns out, is exactly what Culpepper wanted. This isn't a clean version of Star Trek; things are a little rougher and unclear.

"I always want to dirty up my shots by finding stuff to shoot through. We shot that through bottles and crystals and stuff like that," Culpepper says. "And I liked that because I felt like he [Picard] was kind of dealing with two worlds; there's the life he's almost imprisoned himself, his life at his family's vineyard on the ground. And yet, he still feels a part of him that feels like he belongs somewhere else — that he belongs in the stars. He has unfinished business."

Star Trek: Picard is streaming now on CBS All Access.

 

 

 

 

Monty Python’s Terry Jones passes away at 77 @ Bureau 42

Terry Jones has passed away at the age of 77, after giving us some of our favorite quotes and most entertaining absurdist comedy.  Below the cut is a video to see some of his songs.  Rest well, Terry.

Did a two-billion-year-old monster impact save the Earth from being a snowball? @ Syfy Wire

1p>In what is now western Australia, but 2.229 billion years ago, catastrophe struck Earth. Literally.

A 7-kilometer-wide asteroid slammed into our planet, within minutes carving out a huge crater 70 kilometers across. It released vast amounts of dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere, creating a secondary catastrophe. The immediate effects of a large impact are legion and obvious, but this second effect was a climatic catastrophe: All those chemicals (like water vapor) warmed the planet. Earth got so much hotter so quickly that the entire surface changed drastically: it melted.

But this was a good thing. At that time, Earth was locked in a global ice age, so when I say "melted" I mean the ice melted, freeing the Earth from its frigid grip.

At least, this is possibly what happened then. But it all comes back to that number, 2.229 billion years. Here's how this happened.

In western Australia, near what is now Meekatharra, is a strange clump of rocks called the Barlangi granophyre (a granophyre is a type of granite). From the air, scientists have mapped the magnetic field of that area, and found a magnetic anomaly about 20x11 km in size. In that area they also found samples of quartz, the crystal structure of which indicates it suffered a severe shock, undergoing huge pressures applied very rapidly. They've also found shatter cones, which are cone-shaped rocks that are created, again, under huge and sudden pressures.

Put this all together, and you get an impact crater. The granophyre is what remains of the central peak of the crater, a mountain in the middle that forms suddenly when rock flows like liquid under the huge pressures generated by the impact, and splashes up in the middle (we see these sorts of things in big lunar craters). The magnetic anomaly is from melted rock, and the shatter cones and quartz are smoking guns, if you will, of a big impact.

Judging from the size of the granophyre, the crater must have been 70 km across, formed from an impactor (an asteroid or comet) roughly 7 km wide. That area of Australia is incredibly old, some of it dating back over 4 billion years. The impact site, called the Yarrabubba crater, is known to be pretty old, too, but the age until now has been uncertain.

Using a more precise technique, scientists have finally nailed down an age for the crater. They found zircon crystals there, tiny crystals made of zircon silicate. These are extremely stable crystals, and have the happy property of containing uranium in them. Uranium decays radioactively into lead at a known rate, making it possible to use as a dating technique.

Samples of crystals found in Yarrabubba crater show evidence of incredible pressure. Radioactive dating gives ages of the crystals (listed in Ma, millions of years ago). Credit: Erikson et al.

The better news is that when the ridiculous pressure and heat of an asteroid impact sweep through them, they lose the lead, which the crystals don't hold onto well, while keeping the uranium. That resets their radioactive clock; any lead in the crystal that forms must have done so after the impact. It was this that allowed the scientists to so precisely get the age of the crater: 2,229,000,000 years, with an uncertainty of only ±5 million years.

This makes Yarrabubba crater the oldest known impact structure on Earth, beating the Vredefort crater in South Africa by 200 million years.

Billions of years ago, the Earth may have been entirely covered in ice: Snowball Earth. Credit: NASA

But the timing is very interesting. There is a hypothesis, called Snowball Earth, which posits that there have been periods of cooling so severe that the Earth was essentially covered in ice, pole to pole (with at most some slushy seasonal stuff at the equator). This idea is by no means proven, but there is some pretty good evidence for it. One problem that some people have with it is how difficult it is to melt that ice once it forms. Ice is white and shiny, so it reflects sunlight back into space, keeping Earth cold.

There is evidence of deep glaciation in South Africa over two billion years ago, when that part of the continent was at low latitudes (nearer Earth's equator); this supports the idea that the entire Earth was ice-ridden at the time. This period ended something like 2.225 billion years ago, but nobody knows why.

But that date is within the uncertainty of the crater age! The scientists posit that the area the asteroid impacted was also covered in ice. Depending on the depth (several kilometers, most likely), the energy from the impact would have instantly vaporized something like 240 cubic kilometers (!!) of ice — that would weigh about 200 billion tons — and melted some 5,400 cubic km more.

A lot of that water vapor would have gone up into the atmosphere. Water vapor is an excellent greenhouse gas, so putting that much into the atmosphere (minus whatever rained/snowed out) may have been enough to warm the planet rapidly enough to unlock the ice age.

Mind you, this all supposition, but the new data giving the crater age supports it, and it all fits together. That's very interesting!

These sorts of impacts are scary, but the ones that happened in the past, even in the deep past (two billion years!) shaped our planet in a way that wound up eventually leading to us. So I'm selfishly happy they happened… I just don't want one to happen again. The last thing we need is even more warming from an impact, over and above the incredibly rapid warming we’re seeing now… and of course the immediate devastation from such an impact on us.

The past is the past. The future is, in many ways, up to us.

Star Trek: Picard's premiere reveals new Android life and digs deep into Trek canon @ Syfy Wire

1p>Philip K. Dick may have famously wondered if androids dream of electric sheep, but Star Trek: Picard is wondering why ex-starship Captains dream about dead androids. In the opening scene to the newest ongoing Star Trek series, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) dreams of the deceased synthetic life form with a heart of gold, Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Later, Picard tells his Romulan housekeepers that "the dreams are lovely... it's the waking up I'm beginning to resent."

Jean-Luc is waking up to a changed Star Trek world, one that has taken various stories about A.I. from Star Trek: The Next Generation and given that future a hard left turn.

But, fear not Trekkie purists! None of this means that the fragile Star Trek canon has been changed, and in fact, all this new android stuff has a precedent. Here's how the plot of Picard has reimagined Trek's androids, and in doing so, rediscovered the wonder of one of science fiction's oldest conundrums: What happens when you make the perfect synthetic human?

**Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers below for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 1: "Remembrance."**

After dreaming of playing poker with Data aboard the USS Enterprise-D, we find Jean-Luc Picard at his family's wine vineyard, in La Barre, France. In case you forgot, despite his English accent, the character Jean-Luc Picard is French, which is why he has a French name and loves red wine. Jean-Luc is having a rough time, and things get even rowdier as we cut from 24th century France to 24th century Boston. Here we meet a bright young student named Daj (Isa Briones), who is giving her boyfriend the good news that she just got accepted into the Daystrom Institute.

If you remember your Star Trek history, you might recall this is a really prestigious tech hotspot in the future. And, if you really remember your Star Trek history, you also might remember the Daystrom Institute gets its name from a guy named Richard Daystrom, who, in the original series episode "The Ultimate Computer," invented an A.I. that was supposed to run a starship — then, that A.I. started killing everyone until Kirk yelled at it. So, if hearing the word "Daystrom" makes you worried about rogue computers and killer robots, you're right! Because soon, Daj and her boyfriend are attacked by helmeted thugs who are worried about her "activating."

Pretty soon, she activates, and like Trinity in The Matrix, easily takes out all of her attackers. From that point, the writing's pretty much on the wall: Daj is some kind of android, and for some reason, she has visions of Picard. While this is going on, Jean-Luc gives a cranky interview to an interstellar news service that has promised not to ask him why he left Starfleet and then asks him why he left Starfleet. We're led to believe this news is for the people of the Federation, but really clever exposition for the audience.

See,14 years prior, Picard was all set to rescue the Romulans from a giant supernova (thanks for that, J.J. Abrams) but his plan got canceled after a bunch of Synths (a word now interchangeable with androids) went bananas on Mars and destroyed the rescue armada specifically built for this purpose. To this day, no one knows why the Synths went rogue, but all synthetic lifeforms were subsequently banned, and the Romulans were not rescued. Seemingly in protest, Picard left Starfleet, and at this point, is still clearly pretty ticked-off about all of it.

After walking out of the interview like a '90s British pop star, Jean-Luc has a glass of wine with his dog and quotes Shakespeare from All's Well That Ends Well.

Spoiler alert: Things do not end well.

Daj finds Picard, and fairly quickly he decides that he's going to take care of her. After everybody has some tea and wine, Picard goes to bed and again dreams of Data. This time, though, his former android shipmate is asking him to help finish paint an oil painting. When Picard wakes up (he wakes up three times in this episode to be clear), he realizes he has a version of this painting in his house, and another version of the painting hidden away in what can only be called a high tech storage unit at Starfleet Headquarters. Daj has mysteriously vanished, but Jean-Luc is way more interested in figuring out why he's dreaming of this painting.

In the one in his house, you can't see the face of the person in the painting, but when he hits up his storage unit, Picard finds another nearly identical painting, but this one has a face and its Daj. The painting is called "daughter."

Picard and Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) talk human-looking androids. (Credit: CBS)

Suddenly, Picard runs into Daj, who followed him from France all the way to San Francisco, presumably by beaming around, but we're not really worried about that. Picard is convinced she's an android, and basically tells her this. Daj doesn't accept it at first, but they don't have time to worry about it because pretty soon the thugs are back, and they're out to kill Daj.

In the episode's biggest twist, these thugs — who are revealed to be Romulans — are successful. Daj is blown up by a giant bomb. Jean-Luc wakes up for a third time, back at his house in France, but this time, none of that was a dream. It all really happened. Picard then hightails it to the Daystrom Institue in Okinawa where he meets a robotics expert named Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill).

Jurati's got nothing to do all day because studying actual androids has been banned, so Picard wants her to tell him how a flesh and blood android — who looks human inside and out — could be possible. She reveals to Picard that one of her colleagues, Bruce Maddox, was maybe fooling around with making secret fractal android clones. Bruce Maddox previously only appeared in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation"The Measure of a Man" — in which Maddox briefly tried to rob Data of his autonomy, so, yes, this is a very deep Trekkie cut.

Eventually, after Picard shows Jurati Daj's necklace, it's revealed that this special kind of android could be created in pairs; meaning, there is a second version of Daj out there somewhere. From there, we cut to Romulan space, where a young woman who looks exactly like Daj — and is called "Dr. Asher" — is working at some place called the "Romulan Reclamation Site." But, when the camera pulls back, this reclamation site is clearly a Borg ship. And cut to credits.

Data's "mom"; Dr. Juliana Tainer (Fionnula Flanagan)

The return of the Borg ship is a pretty neat cliffhanger, but it's also not the big news.

From the trailers, we knew the Borg would be back, so that wasn't much of a shock. What is a shock is that Picard is floating a new kind of Star Trek android that is nearly exactly like older androids with one big difference: Presumably, Daj (and her "sister" Soji) don't know they are androids, and would never be identified as such because any medical scan would make them look perfectly human.

Star Trek has come close to giving us this kind of android before, but not quite. Juliana Tainer (Fionnula Flanagan), a duplicate of Data's own human "mother" in the TNG episode "Inheritance," was similar: An android who believed she was human up until the moment the circuits in her head were revealed. In the original series episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?," the deranged Dr. Roger Korby makes an android duplicate of Captain Kirk before it is eventually revealed that he, too, is an android duplicate of himself, complete with wires hanging out of his damaged hand. Androids that are supposed to pass for humans are also employed by con-man Harry Mudd in both Short Treks and the original series episode "I, Mudd."

And, yes, Data has had a daughter before, the android Lal (Hallie Todd), who was constructed by Data in "The Offspring," but tragically "died" because Data couldn't figure out how to make her positronic brain stable. Lal also knew exactly what she was, and had no delusions that she was android.

So, all of these previous Star Trek androids are close to the idea of Daj and Soji, but with one crucial difference: They all had very visible circuitry once you got down to it. Other than her superhuman strength and classic Data processing speeds, Daj bleeds like a human and, perhaps more importantly, thinks she is human. This makes her more like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica or the replicants from Blade Runner than anything we've ever seen on Trek.

And yet, even those comparisons aren't quite right.

Two of these three people are androids. (Credit: CBS)

The episode begins with Picard wondering if Data has a "tell" during a game of poker. Most secret androids in all forms of science fiction tend to have a tell: circuits that spill out, robotic voices, or the deep need to say "affirmative" instead of "yes."

The Cylons on Battlestar had glowing red spines sometimes, and even the Replicants in Blade Runner were susceptible to the famous Voight-Kampff test that proved they were synthetic. Westworld hosts look human but underneath their skin, they all have very "robotic" exoskeletons and very obvious robot brains. So, although Picard is standing on the shoulders of all this Star Trek canon and a ton of other science fiction precedents that came before, these "flesh and blood" androids are the show's way of forging a path ahead.

With these robots, there's no "tell." At all. It's a small, subtle difference, but it is, in its own small way, a tiny bit of new blood in a long line of robot stories. These androids are virtually indistinguishable from humans. We can't tell them apart from us, and they're dreaming about humans.

The subtle change Star Trek: Picard has made to the robot formula is straightforward but smart. If robots were real, but there was nothing about them that was different other than their abilities and how they were made, would they still count as robots? It's not a new question per se, but Picard presents it in an innovative and elegant way. This may not be an entirely new, strange world of androids, but Star Trek: Picard is exploring it boldly.

Jean-Luc Picard Is Back, But Is the Star Trek He Left Behind? @ io9

He’s a little older. He’s not on a starship. He’s haunted by tragedies of years past. He’s drinking a lot more wine these days. But it would be fair to say that, deep down, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is not a man truly changed when we meet him again in the premiere of Star Trek: Picard. That’s not the question we should…

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Captain Marvel 2 going higher, further, faster with WandaVision writer @ Syfy Wire

1p>It looks like we'll be getting another chance to go higher, further, faster with Carol Danvers! The sequel to Captain Marvel is reportedly in the works with WandaVision writer Megan McDonnell behind the script.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that McDonnell, whose work will soon be seen in the upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision, "is in final negotiations to seal her deal." WandaVision is her first major writing credit.

Fans of Captain Marvel won't soon forget its iconic 1990s setting, or Carol Danvers' (Brie Larson) fashion, for that matter. However, the sequel reportedly moves us into the present day. 

The follow-up to Marvel's billion-dollar, female-led film has been eagerly anticipated, though the studio has been hush-hush about any details up until now. THR also notes Disney has its hopes set on a possible 2022 release, and that Marvel is looking for a female filmmaker for the sequel.

Captain Marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will reportedly not be returning for the sequel, but apparently aren't leaving the Marvel Universe as they're in talks to direct a "possible" Disney+ series.

Past comments from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige show a commitment to choosing directors who can bring their own spin and unique vision to films. 2019's Captain Marvel saw Danvers (Larson) become one of the world's most powerful heroes after she survived an alien engine explosion. Danvers later becomes involved in the war between two alien races, the Kree and shape-shifting Skrulls.

Last October, Larson told Variety about her love of Danvers, saying, "I love Carol Danvers so much and I love playing her and I love the way that she interacts with people and the way that she’s grown into herself. So, I’m excited to see where that goes."

Details are scant but we'll bring you more information as it becomes available.


WIRE Buzz: The Karate Kid kicks to Broadway; Werewolves Within bites into Veep star; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>We can pretty much all agree that it was a thing of real beauty, back in the day, to see Daniel crane-kick Johnny into shocked submission as The Karate Kid introduced a generation of ‘80s kids to their first true taste of big-screen martial arts. But now Broadway has its sights set on elevating The Karate Kid into the realm of actual art — in the form of a just-announced, coming-of-age musical.

Deadline reports that original Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen is on board to adapt the 1984 classic for the musical theater stage, with scoring and lyrics from contemporary composer Drew Gasparini. Casting is yet to be announced — but you can bet your headband we’re already letting our imaginations run wild on who might reprise iconic movie characters like Mister Miyagi (the late Pat Morita), Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue). 

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little movie would reach across generations the way it has,” said Kamen in a statement (via Deadline). “And [never] beyond my wildest dreams did I think what started out as a love letter to my devotion to Okinawan Karate and the man who taught me would become a full-blown Broadway musical... [H]ere is hoping that what comes to the stage brings the same joy and relevance The Karate Kid has brought to countless kids and their parents for the past 35 years.”

Japanese stage director Amon Miyamoto will reportedly direct the Broadway version, with production by Japanese company Kinoshita Group, alongside Be More Chill stage producer Kumiko Yoshii, and Gorgeous Entertainment’s Michael Wolk. There’s no word on a premiere date, so for now we’ll just be over here looping Joe Esposito’s "You're the Best," while repeat binging on Macchio and Zabka in their grown-up Karate Kid roles on YouTube’s Cobra Kai


It’s taken a little while, but game developer Ubisoft’s push into the world of television is beginning to take shape — just like an afflicted lupine-man howling in the light of a full moon. Deadline reports that Werewolves Within, the long-percolating TV series spawned from Ubisoft’s 2016 virtual reality game of the same name, has cast its big bad werewolf (or at least its first big name) with the pickup of Veep and Detroiters star Sam Richardson. 

Sam Richardson in Veep (Credit: HBO)

First announced back in 2018, Werewolves Within is one of two live action TV shows based on Ubisoft games (Child of Light is the other), and it’s part of the developer’s "Women’s Film and Television Fellowship" initiative. Aptly-named writer Mishna Wolff is still on board to script the horror-comedy, which in the game explores a whodunnit mystery to uncover the real werewolf walking among (and attacking) the citizens of a fictional medieval town.

Ubisoft North America on YouTube

There’s no word yet on where or when Werewolves Within will land on TV, but Richardson, who gleefully admitted to SYFY WIRE a couple of years back to being a lifelong nerd, is set to appear alongside Chris Pratt later this year in Paramount’s big-budget sci-fi action movie The Tomorrow War, which releases on Dec. 25.


What if the whole planet were nothing more than a Truman Show-style simulation, and all its inhabitants merely the unwitting performers for an alien race addicted to reality TV? 

While it may not be a perfect comparison, it’s the gist of the setup behind Channel Blue, the well-reviewed comedic sci-fi novel from Key & Peele showrunner and author Jay Martel. Now, Channel Blue is reportedly getting the full-length feature film treatment, with Martel himself set to adapt his original story for the big screen. 

Via The Hollywood Reporter, the plot hinges on a dreadful discovery made by (who else?) an out-of-work screenwriter, who comes across a mind-warping truth: Earth is “actually an ongoing reality show for an advanced race of aliens...and it's about to be blown up because of bad ratings.” 

Bad ratings, huh? C’mon. We don’t know what it takes to keep aliens entertained in 2020, but have they seen what we lunatics are up to down here? There’s no early word on casting or a release date, but hopefully humanity can stick around long enough to find out why we bore the extraterrestrials so thoroughly out of their ever-lovin' minds, when Channel Blue finally beams into in theaters.


Walking sharks are creeping around, and it’s weirder than a Sharknado plot twist @ Syfy Wire

1p>Because a tornado full of ravenous sharks obviously isn’t a bizarre enough way to get them on land, some sharks have evolved to walk. For real.

Sharknado and other horror movies starring monster sharks and human bait still don’t come close to a phenomenon stranger than science fiction. Hemiscyllum is now officially the newest phylum of sharks on Earth (9 million years old is pretty new when it comes to things like this), and they been able to adapt their fins to double as proto-legs when the tide gets too low. Walking fish like the mudskipper have already been a known thing for a while now, but sharks?

“These unique features are not shared with their closest relatives the bamboo sharks or more distant relatives in the carpet shark order including wobbegongs and whale sharks,” said Christine Dudgeon, a research fellow of The University of Queensland’s School of Biomedical Sciences who recently published a study in Marine and Freshwater Research.

Sharks have been previously observed flap-walking near the shore. It wasn’t unheard of, though still unusual — but this is the first time all known sharks exhibiting this behavior have been classified into their own phylum. Only five were thought to exist, until scientists just discovered four new species, which have almost doubled the number of sharks thought to belong to Hemiscyllum. Even weirder is that new species are supposedly still emerging in this phylum (more on that later). More of these unusual creatures may surface in the future.

Hemiscyllum species like the epaulette shark aren’t monsters with mouths full of knives. They are about a foot or two in length, don’t eat things much bigger than a snail, and live in the shallows around New Guinea and northern Australia. Unlike most of their prey, they can tolerate low oxygen levels and use their fins to literally walk over to small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks stranded on the reef at low tide. Anything that can’t get away fast enough is going to become dinner.

How did these sharks even evolve to waddle on land in the first place? The answer to that was lurking in their DNA. Dudgeon and her team closely studied the sharks’ mitochondrial DNA or mDNA, which is passed down exclusively through the maternal side and carries the code for mitochondria, which create energy for cells from incoming nutrients and oxygen. DNA sequencing helped the researchers find out how the walking shark species were related and what genes they share with other sharks. Hemiscyllum was found to have separated from their closest ancestors 9 million years ago —nothing compared to the 450 million years that sharks have been around.

“Data suggests the new species evolved after the sharks moved away from their original population, became genetically isolated in new areas, and developed into new species,” Dudgeon said. “They may have moved by swimming or walking on their fins, but it’s also possible they ‘hitched’ a ride on reefs moving westward across the top of New Guinea, about two million years ago."

This can also explain how and why speciation is thought to be still happening within Hemiscyllum. Isolation of one population of a species may result in that species adapting to very specific surroundings and eventually evolving into a separate species altogether, which is what happened with many types of birds found on the Galapagos islands. As sea levels fluctuate and tectonic plates shift, adaptations may be made by one population that are not made by another. These sharks also tend to live out their lives in the reefs they were born in, so there is no telling how much one population may differentiate itself from the others.

So humans don’t need to plan for doomsday anytime soon. Another Sharknado movie in the meantime, perhaps?

(via University of Queensland)

The New Trailer for The Lodge Promises a Snowy Getaway...To Your Doom @ io9

Remember Goodnight Mommy? If you saw the 2014 plastic-surgery terror trip from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, you’ve probably been haunted by it ever since. The Austrian writing-directing duo’s latest, The Lodge, is finally opening soon—and if this new trailer is any indication, many fresh nightmares will follow in…

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WIRE Buzz: Lamp Life lights up Bo Peep's backstory; Seth Rogen takes Fear Agent to Amazon; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>What exactly did Bo Peep (Annie Potts) get up to before the events of Toy Story 4? Lamp Life, a new short coming to Disney+ is looking to answer that question via Pixar's trademark animation and wit.

Hanging out atop a carnival ferris wheel with Woody and her sheep, Bo explains in the trailer below what kind of hijinks she got up to after leaving Andy's house for greener pastures. Before striking it out on her own, Bo was a simple kid's lamp, but it looks like she was forced into a life of independence when she caught fire one night and was tossed in the garbage.

As you probably realized from watching the trailer, Tom Hanks did not return to voice Woody for this short. The actor's real-life brother, Jim Hanks, took over the role for the project and gets a pretty good approximation of how the character sounds in the feature films.

Directed by Valerie LaPointe — who helped come up with the story for Toy Story 4 Lamp Life arrives on Disney+ next Friday, Jan. 31.

Having racked up more than $1 billion at the global box office, TS4 is currently nominated for two Oscars: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away").


Seth Rogen (Preacher, The Boys) is about to tackle his third comic book adaptation for television. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Rogen has teamed up with David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Shazam!) for an Amazon series based on Fear Agent by Rick Remender and Tony Moore.

According to THR, Amazon won a heated bidding war for the project. In addition to serving as an executive producer alongside Rogen, Sandberg will also direct from a script by The Batman co-scribe, Mattson Tomlin.

Published by Image Comics, Fear Agent tells the story of Heath Huston, the last "alien exterminator" on the planet, who must give up his love of alcohol and self-pity in order to stop a genocidal plot to kill off all of humanity.

Credit: Image Comics

THR's official synopsis for the show goes as follows:

Interstellar invaders. Time travel. Clones of clones of clones, and lots of whiskey. Whether he’s battling the scourge of of space, going back in time to stop the alien invasion that changed earth forever, or winning his ex-wife back, there’s nothing that Heath Huston won’t do to try to right the wrongs and gets his family back. He is, after all, the last Fear Agent.

Remender, Moore, Evan Goldberg, Lotta Losten, Matt Tolmach, and David Manpearl will produce as well.


After eight seasons, Arrow will come to an end next week on The CW.

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has certainly come a long way since he first picked up a bow and arrow to protect Star City, so it will be interesting to see how showrunners, Marc Guggenheim and Beth Schwartz, tie up the character's long-running story.

The bittersweet series finale (aptly entitled "Fadeout") now has a short promo, which you can check out below:

"The biggest thing I’ll take away from doing the show is my kiddo really admires what I do. She comes to the set all the time, and I know that won’t last forever, but she sits there in video village, and she wears her cans, and she calls action every once in a while. Honestly, that’s the coolest thing," Amell told Entertainment Weekly in October.

The most recent episode — "Green Arrow & The Canaries" — served as a backdoor pilot for an all-female spinoff of Arrow and became the most-watched entry in Season 8 beyond the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover.

Arrow ends for good next Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 8 p.m. ET.


George R.R. Martin Says Game of Thrones Could Have Ended With a Cinematic Trilogy @ io9

Game of Thrones’ series finale came, we watched it, and...that was that. But according to George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones’ final season could have potentially worked out much differently had an early pitch to HBO for the series gone differently.

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Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker confirms she'll wield the sonic screwdriver at least one more season @ Syfy Wire

1p>When it comes to Doctor Who, actors playing The Doctor come and then they go. Sometimes they'll play the titular role for years on end, and other times they'll wield the sonic screwdriver for just one season. Now, our current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, has made it clear that she'll be around for at least one more trip in the box. 

Whittaker, who SYFY WIRE recently caught up with at a Doctor Who red carpet event, told Entertainment Weekly that she'll be sticking with the series for at least one more season following the currently airing Season 12. Though there's been speculation before about how long Whittaker's Gallifreyan stint would last, this is the first official confirmation that she wouldn't be ditching her coat and suspenders come the end of this season. 

"Yes, I’m doing another season. That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say..." said Whittaker, "...but it’s unhelpful for me to say, because it would be a massive lie! I absolutely adore it."

It seems that though The Doctor always lies, Jodie Whittaker does not. Just because she's in for at least Season 13 (and hopefully longer), she makes it clear she's not The Doctor for life. 

"At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”

Long may Whittaker cling. This news makes us want to quote 13 herself: "Aw, brilliant!" 

Doctor Who airs on Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. on BBC America. 


Rosario Dawson Will Headline Her Very Own Comic Book Show @ io9

She’s voiced Wonder Woman and Batgirl, and appeared in Sin City, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders. And yet, despite that incredible comic book resumé, Rosario Dawson has never lead her own comic book project. Until now.

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Meet the women of Star Trek: Picard @ Syfy Wire

1p>Star Trek: Picard is one of the most anticipated series of 2020, and for good reason: It brings back a fan-favorite character in an entirely new situation. Jean-Luc Picard is no longer in Starfleet, and it's clear that his parting wasn't exactly amicable. He's on his own, on a new mission (the circumstances of which are quite unclear), but without the resources he once had.

Like any Star Trek show, Picard has an amazing supporting cast — and there are quite a few incredible women on the roster. (As an aside, I've seen the first three episodes, and there are quite a few more women than are listed here, but won't be spoiling anything for anxious viewers.)

Here's what we know about the major female characters in advance of tomorrow's premiere.

The Witcher's Haunting Soundtrack Will Be Available to Stream Soon @ io9

Despite having rather overwrought lyrics and being kind of annoying to listen to, people love the hell out of the Bard Jaskier’s tune “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” from The Witcher’s first season, and it would seem as if Netflix has been listening to the public’s desperate cries for more.

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Awards Contender: Inside Joker's insane bathroom and kitchen scenes @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to Awards Contenders. This month, SYFY WIRE is talking to the actors, directors, designers, and craftspeople whose work was featured in the best movies and TV offerings of 2019, and who are now the leading awards nominees. Today, we're speaking with the Oscar- and ASC-nominated cinematographer Lawrence Sher of Joker.

Lawrence Sher can tell you all about the camera (a large-format ARRI), the vintage lenses, the aspect ratio, and everything else he used to create the look of Joker. But the thing that interested him most about shooting the film was the improvisational jazz style used by director Todd Phillips — the ongoing dance between the camera and its subject, Joaquin Phoenix. Here, Sher chats about what it was like to discover the essence of the movie in real time.

How did you plan for different contingencies while shooting?

I think this is a philosophy that has grown out of working with Todd Phillips over the last six movies, in which we always like to plan. There’s no question that we’ve planned everything. I’m a big planner guy — I’ll create shot lists, we’ll come in with ideas about the character arcs that apply to lighting, camera, lens choices, and things like that in pre-production, knowing all the while that the movie is a sort of fluid, organic thing you’re discovering as you make it. And so the idea is that if you can plan for all these things, it also gives you the freedom to throw it all out, but still retain some of the big ideas.

The more preparation, the more ideas you have in advance, the more you can throw it all away. Todd is a real believer in that — rewriting the screenplay as you make the movie and discovering what Joaquin is bringing to it.

Credit: Warner Bros.

This started early on, with Joaquin’s bathroom dance scene…

It was written as a scene with plot devices. He was supposed to hide the gun, he was supposed to wash the makeup off his face. On the day, though, it was, “Let’s throw out the plan, let’s try something that’s a little more expressionistic.” It was a very small bathroom, with two stalls. I didn’t want our camera operator to know what was going to happen, so we just watched Joaquin do it, and just covered it with the camera, with the camera operator dancing around him in a 360-degree circle.

We probably only did three takes, watching that first little step he takes and then coming back up to him to watch his kind of metamorphosis dance. It was exciting — it excited me, it excited Todd, and it sort of excited Joaquin. But this process depended on the scene. If we were doing the Murray Franklin show [scene], there’s a certain convention, in that he’s sitting on a couch being interviewed on a talk show. It’s not like he’s going to suddenly leap up and take off into the audience. But if he did, we’d cover it.

Did you have more freedom in the apartment scenes? Did he surprise you?

That was about lighting the space in a way that allowed that freedom, and just allowed Joaquin to discover things. Dancing with his mom and putting her to bed after his comedy routine – the way we shot that was, we just moved the camera around him. It wasn’t about setting marks and rehearsing it. Sometimes we would start shooting the minute Joaquin walked into the room, so there could be things that would happen before and after the action we had planned. We didn’t know when the scene would be over. It was just exploratory filmmaking, like Joaquin going inside the fridge.

What happened there?

The fridge, that was truly exploring the idea of insomnia. What if this guy was just going down the path of madness? I think we wanted to explore some things in the apartment that would represent what you’d be doing all night. So we set up two cameras in the kitchen, one in the doorway far enough to be able to see what Joaquin would do, and one big camera through the little window that sort of connects the kitchen to the living room. We just waited. Literally, we just rolled the cameras when Joaquin walked in and we just witnessed it.

There’s not a lot of camera movement, but you can see at the end, there was this sort of odd little camera move that happens after he crawls in the fridge, like, “Well, what do we do now?” Even in there, in the messy, handmade way that the movie was, we wanted you to feel like you’re witnessing it for the first time, too. There was never an idea like, “Oh, should we get in the fridge with him?” because that would feel too planned. We would have to have known he was getting in there.

Were there other ideas he explored that didn’t make it into the movie?

Joaquin flirted with another idea in that same kitchen, where he was just washing the dishes and he was crying. It thought that was pretty stunning. And there was a scene where he was taking a bath and singing to himself — that was sort of cool. Near the end of the movie, we found a way to shoot what was in the script but also find opportunities to dig out stuff that could serve to inform the character. Some of this was a function of the space itself. It’s not like we would ever move set walls to pull the camera way back. We liked the constraint, as if we were shooting on a real location.

This idea of jazz filmmaking, or whatever you want to call it, means I almost don’t want to see a rehearsal now. There’s something about the pre-planning where you get too specific with your ideas, and you put blinders on yourself. You’re unable to see something outside of those blinders that might be even better than what you had in your head. It’s a different muscle for the crew, to be able to go from a real wide shot right into a close-up in the same shot, but we figured it out. You just have to be really present.


New 3-hour cut of Doctor Sleep shines a brighter light on its characters' backstories @ Syfy Wire

1p>For those of you who enjoyed the film Doctor Sleep but thought — at two-and-a-half hours — that it was just too short, you’re in luck! Warner Bros. has released a three-hour director’s cut of the film, available to stream now.

So what exactly is in it, and what does it reveal that we didn't see in theaters? In addition to new chapter headings (such as "CHAPTER ONE - OLD GHOSTS" and "CHAPTER TWO - EMPTY DEVILS"), this fuller, richer, and longer version of Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Stephen King's novel goes deeper with its main characters, allowing viewers to learn more about Dan Torrance's (Ewan McGregor) attempts to escape his literal and metaphorical demons and come to terms with his complicated feelings toward his late father, Jack. (True, the man did tried to kill Dan with an ax when he was 5. But more and more, Dan is realizing that he is indeed his father's son.)

Doctor Sleep serves as a sequel to both the novel and film of The Shining, and — with those 30 extra minutes — the director's cut  doesn't scrimp on character development. A new introductory scene with young Abra (Kyliegh Curran) further enhances the idea that her powers have alienated her from her parents ever since she was a small child. Meanwhile, extended scenes between Rebecca Ferguson's Rose the Hat and Zahn McClarnon's Crow Daddy from The Knot add to Rose's personal obsession with hunting down Abra and The Knot's desperation to find more life-sustaining steam from Abra (or any child with the shine). 

Ultimately, there are very few new or added scenes per se in this version, although there are some, such as a new scene introducing Abra playing the piano and an added scene in the red bathroom in the Overlook between Dan and the ghost of his father.

The bulk of the additions, however, come from extending and reediting scenes. Conversations between Dick Hallorann and Danny are longer. The scene where Dan gets drunk at a bar in New Jersey in 2011 and sneaks out from his one-night stand after taking her cash the morning after is longer (this sequence also adds a beat in which Dick lets Dan know that, while he can bury those creepy monsters from the Overlook alive, he can't bury bad memories or bad behavior the same way). And all the changes are seamless.

Credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

When this extended cut was originally announced, Flanagan admitted that this three-hour version was never intended to be released theatrically. Heck, even critics noted that the theatrical cut was already overly long. Despite that, Flanagan said that there was material he had cut from the theatrical version that he couldn't stop thinking about. 

The result is a fuller version of the film that takes its time getting to know its main characters ... even if that means it takes nearly a full hour before Abra first reaches out to Dan. 

The Director's Cut of Doctor Sleep is available to stream now. It will be available to buy on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on Feb. 4.

Rosario Dawson zones in on lead role in HBO Max’s DMZ comic book adaptation @ Syfy Wire

1p>She’s no stranger to showing up in streaming TV series set in the world of the comics, even if she’s usually there to lend a hand as a supporting character like Claire Temple, Daredevil’s ever-patient nurse. But now Rosario Dawson reportedly is getting set to step straight into the spotlight as the star of DMZ, the upcoming pilot bound for HBO Max based on DC's Vertigo comics series of the same name.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, Dawson has signed on to play Alma, a “fierce medic” and Manhattan mom who’s on a desperate search for her lost son. “As she contends with the gangs, militias, demagogues and warlords who now control the lawless island,” the report describes, Alma “becomes the unlikely source of what everyone there has lost: hope.”

Credit: DC Entertainment

Set in a dystopian, near-future version of New York in which Manhattan Island is a lawless zone — the literal namesake “DMZ” that gives the series its name — the DMZ comics come from writer Brian Wood, with art from Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. With both sides in a second U.S. Civil War pinching either side of Manhattan in their grip, the island serves as a lawless territory separating the United States and its secessionist offshoot, the Free States of America.

While only a pilot has been ordered, HBO Max appears to have the pieces in place to move forward if the pilot indeed spawns a full series order. Via Warner Bros. TV and her Array Filmworks company, Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) is already set to direct as well as co-executive produce the pilot, with Westworld executive producer Roberto Patino reportedly serving as the pilot’s showrunner.

There’s no early word on when DMZ might enter our home-binging zone with a premiere date, and there’s still plenty of casting news yet to come. HBO Max is set to launch sometime this spring. You can catch Dawson as Claire Temple in Netflix’s now-defunct (but still streamable) lineup of Marvel shows, as well as motel owner Nevada in Zombieland: Double Tap.

What the Bloodshot Movie Needs in Order to Stand Out and Succeed @ io9

It isn’t hard to understand the calculus behind multiple studios’ years-long attempts at turning characters from Valiant’s comics universe into the next big-screen draw. Comic book movies can and often do make outrageous amounts of money because people like watching them. But with each new super solo movie and big…

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Twitter Borked Its Own Platform Trying to Fix Its Nazi Ad-Targeting Problem @ io9

Like most companies in the tech realm, Twitter is no stranger to weirdly hollow apologies. Some of the company’s greatest hits happened when it was grilled on offensive trending topics (whoops!), leaking account info to hackers (oopsie!), and failing to deal with the harassment-filled cesspool a lot of us know the…

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WIRE Buzz: Netflix tosses coin to Witcher anime film; Stewart invites Whoopi back to Star Trek; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Season 1 of The Witcher was just the beginning, folks. Aside from a second season that's already been ordered, Netflix is also developing an anime feature film based on the fantasy universe by Andrzej Sapkowski, SYFY WIRE confirmed today.

Hailing from showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and producer Beau DeMayo, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is said to center around "a powerful new threat facing the Continent."

Credit: Netflix

Studio Mir, the South Korean animation house behind The Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender (the latter is a Netflix release), will bring the project to life.


With Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard already in the works at CBS All Access, Patrick Stewart is working to bring back even more familiar faces for the show's second outing. Like Danny Ocean planning a heist, the actor is going around putting together a crackshot crew of specialists.

During an appearance on The View earlier today, Stewart formally invited Whoopi Goldberg to reprise her Next Generation role of Guinan.

“There’s something I need to bring up, if that’s okay,” began Stewart. “I’m here with a formal invitation and it’s for you, Whoopi. Alex Kurtzman, who is the senior executive producer of Star Trek: Picard, and all of his colleagues — of which I am — want to invite you into the second season.”

“Yes! Oh yeah,” said Goldberg after hugging it out with Stewart as the audience went completely nuts. “Star Trek was one of the great experiences from the beginning to the end. I had the best time ever.”

“It was wonderful having you, and we cannot wait to have you with us again one more time,” added Stewart as Goldberg broke into emotional tears of joy.

Having appeared in almost 30 episodes of TNG, Guinan was a member of the El-Aurian race who "became the civilian hostess of the U.S.S. Enterprise's Ten-Forward lounge at Picard's invitation in early 2365, dispensing her trade's time-honored craft of advice while remaining mute about her own background," reads the Star Trek website's description of the character.

Before she comes back as Guinan, however, Goldberg will be playing Mother Abigail in the CBS All Access miniseries adaptation of The Stand by Stephen King.


Time to bundle up against the cold and watch the latest trailer for The Lodge, an isolation horror flick directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (the duo who previously made Goodnight Mommy).

Also written by Fiala and Franz, the movie follows two children (played by Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) dealing with unexplained horrors during a ferocious blizzard. All the while, they're trapped with their father's new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough), who just happens to be a former member of a religious cult that committed suicide.

Watch the latest trailer below:

"The script keeps us guessing, but blunders to an extent by providing some concrete evidence that more than one explanation might be the right one," Dennis Harvey wrote in his review for Variety when the project premiered at Sundance last year. "In the end, this tactic seems not so much mysterious as just tactically confusing. It’s also annoying that the writers utilize so much religious imagery and narrative references (several figures here are devoutly Christian) without actually saying anything on the subject."

The Lodge arrives in theaters sometime next month.


Star Trek: Picard Welcomes Back Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan for Season 2 @ io9

Sir Patrick Stewart asked, and Whoopi Goldberg said yes!

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A Tribute To Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aimé Kicks Off With A Terrific String Quartet @ io9

Former longtime president of Nintendo America Reggie Fils-Aimé received lifetime achievement honors at the New York Video Game Critics Circle award ceremony in Manhattan last night. He delivered a classy acceptance speech which followed a couple of moments Nintendo fans may enjoy seeing.

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Why Joe's baseball cap is the perfect disguise on You @ Syfy Wire

1p>Superman wears spectacles as part of his secret identity as Clark Kent, and the Marvel superheroes opt for baseball caps, hoodies, and sunglasses when they want to keep a low profile. In You, whenever Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) puts his cap on, you know he's got one thing on his mind: a heavy dose of stalking with maybe a dash of murder.

In each case, the light disguise is meant to act as a way for these characters to move about the world unseen, which is asking audiences to suspend their disbelief in a major way.

Warning: Spoilers for Season 2 of You within.

Credit: Netflix 

There are different levels of nitpicking the plausibility of storylines and costume choices regardless of genre. We are more likely to accept matters of superhuman strength than a person wearing a hat and instantly blending into a crowd. For characters like Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a ball cap is a way to avoid detection to protect their lives, but Joe is using this accessory for more nefarious means.

"What, because of hats and sunglasses? That's not a disguise, Hank. We look like ourselves at a baseball game," Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) snarks in Ant-Man and the Wasp when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) insists that no one will recognize them. It's a thinly veiled joke at the expense of movies like Captain America and the Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3, which resorted to this spy starter kit to conceal their identity. Even Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) wears the official baseball cap disguise in Captain Marvel after Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) tells her she looks like "somebody's disaffected niece" in her Nine Inch Nails tee. "Does announcing your identity on clothing help with the covert part of your job?" Carol quips when she notices the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.

Credit: Marvel Studios 

Scott does make a good point, though. If you are trying to stay invisible wearing a hat, a sports venue is probably your best bet. So when Joe attacks Peach Salinger (Shay Mitchell) while she is out for a run in the park in Season 1 of You, the sports apparel is an obvious choice to keep him camouflaged. Most people are not necessarily going to think a guy in a dark baseball cap is up to no good while out jogging; however, if they were to get a glimpse of his razor-sharp cheekbones and delectable curly locks, that handsome image is far more memorable. The curse of a conventionally good-looking face is one that Joe must endure — as well as obscure — if he wants to get away with all his crimes.

Wearing a hat enables Joe to protect his identity, and the Netflix drama plays into aspects of his attractive qualities not only to endear him to audiences but also to make him appear non-threatening (even if we know what he is capable of). In doing so, it pushes the boundaries of how much Joe can get away with while also asking the audience to question why we are rooting for him to succeed. The baseball cap reduces his greatest first impression asset — aka his face — but he doesn't want to be seen. If he did, he would be wearing a fedora, and no one wants that.

One of You's strengths is its self-awareness, and the second season has continued to break down the "nice guy" trope via Joe's appealing characteristics — murder and stalking aside. Despite all that he has done and the ever-increasing body count, there are still points in which I actively didn't want him to fail. He is very bad at committing crimes, and yet the only time he has been arrested was for having sex outdoors. Maybe if he had been wearing his baseball cap, he wouldn't have been caught with his pants down.

His ability to remain unseen while sitting in close proximity to those he is eavesdropping on also plays into this aspect of winking at the audience. It might seem like he should belong in the MCU with what appears to be superhuman hearing and a penchant for a light disguise that turns him invisible, but this covert look is part of the Stalker 101 handbook. Joe's initial hat choice in the pilot is a bold red shade, which is not a good color to blend into a crowd — plus there are also unfortunate political connotations he probably wants to avoid. Suspending our disbelief is one thing, but sticking a siren color on his head is a whole separate issue. Plus, the brim of that original hat looks like it has been nibbled at by moths, which could be part of his perceived Brooklyn hipster vibe but doesn't exactly scream low-profile. Steve Rogers would never.

In the following scene, Joe switches to a more subtle blue version: no logos, no fuss. However, he also wears it while sitting at a bar in a nice restaurant, which is enough to draw attention. Malls and the park are one thing, but this doesn't exactly blend Joe into his fancy surroundings. He is also close enough to hear what Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and her friends are discussing while somehow not drawing their gaze. This is an indictment of how self-absorbed they are when hanging out together, something Joe is banking on.

Credit: Netflix 

He also pulls the "spying on the friends of his crush" trick in the Season 2 episode "Just the Tip" when he bails on the original lunch introduction because he is dealing with the small matter of a finger that has been cut off — yes, you read that correctly, his pinky is being held as collateral. However, he does have time to swing by and eavesdrop, and the baseball cap doesn't look so out of place in this Los Angeles outdoor eatery. Unlike the New York restaurant, there is plenty of foliage for him to hide behind.

You is not a subtle show, but the baseball cap of implausible invisibility has become a signature item in the Joe Goldberg bag of tricks — but if you are still having trouble with this covert factor, then you are not alone. Badgley was asked about the cap in a recent interview with InStyle, and he understands the quandary. "Trust me, as an actor, I find it very challenging to sometimes suspend my disbelief when you're forced into a position that is just in the literal sense of the word incredible," he said. "That's the interesting thing about this show — it works."

The somewhat heightened element of Joe's story offers some wiggle room with how much they can get away with. You is not just breaking down tropes and archetypes of relationships and acts of horror, it's also leaning into them. Of course, Joe isn't a superhero, but the divided public and private aspects of his personality and actions do fall into a similar desire to remain hidden in plain sight. This accessory isn't going to make someone unseen, but it is costume shorthand for remaining incognito. Whether you are a superhero or a stalker, the best option for staying invisible is a plain baseball cap. Just don't expect the audience to ever fully believe this as a disguise choice.

Feral cats ate corpses in a research facility, so we can all have nightmares now @ Syfy Wire

1p>What if you were to die with your cat as the only witness, and your corpse was just hanging out undiscovered for a while? Would Fluffy find your flesh tempting until someone came for the body?

As grim as it sounds, Fluffy probably would feast on your remains, especially without anyone there to feed her, but it gets worse. Now cats have actually been caught in the act of eating human bodies. Feral cats recently managed to sneak into the Forensic Investigation Research Station in Whitewater, Colorado, twice and grab some fast food from the shoulders and arms of cadavers lying around. What makes this so shocking besides the my-pet-is-now-eating-me thing is that cats usually prefer hunting to scavenging.

Camera footage showed “preferential scavenging of the soft tissue of the shoulder and arm, differential consumption of tissue layers, superficial defects, and no macroscopic skeletal defects,” according to Sara Garcia, whose research team recently published a study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

Postmortem predation happens when creatures start consuming dead bodies. Some of these creepy crawlies are to be expected — like blowflies — but the thought of it being the same furry feline you sang “Soft Kitty” to is kind of unnerving. You probably wouldn’t expect this from any cat except the undead Church from Pet Sematary (above) if he had the opportunity. When you have some starving feral cats smelling death in a nearby research facility otherwise known as a body farm, something you never dreamed of could bare its teeth.

Body farms sound like they breed zombies, but are meant to study how human bodies (donated to science) decompose under just about every circumstance imaginable. It is with findings from such facilities that forensic science has advanced enough to solve some nearly impossible cases. Results even have uses in archaeology and anthropology. When you have a place where corpses are laid out to rot, even for science, you’re going to expect swarms of scavengers. The cats seemed to prefer fresh corpses. The bodies they were feasting on had been dead for two weeks and outside, unclothed, for five or six days.

What we can get out of this, besides nightmares, is a new way to look at unsolved cases. Scavenging can be mistaken for physical trauma and confuse scientists trying to determine the cause of death. It can also conceal physical trauma, which erases evidence and makes it that much more difficult to catch a perpetrator. Still, the thought of your cat gnawing on your face after you die is nightmare fuel.

“It all comes down to animals eating meat,” said mortician Catilin Doughty of the hit YouTube series Ask a Mortician, who was not involved in the study. “Like it or not, we are meat.”

(via Newsweek)

Who's cuter, Baby Yoda or Baby Jabba? Science says... @ Syfy Wire

1p>The debate is on! No, not the presidential debates, those only impact how we'll be governed for the next several years (and maybe forever?). We're talking about the much more important cultural debate: Who is cuter, Baby Yoda or Baby Jabba?

Baby Yoda, officially known as the Child, made waves across the internet when he debuted in the first episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+. Since then, he's been the inspiration for official merchandise, countless memes, and at least one rumored celebrity romance.

The Star Wars franchise is well known for giving us adorable creatures to obsess over. While it’s been going on since the OG-trilogy, the sequel trilogy has been particularly successful at it. BB-8, porgs, Babu Frik, and D-O are all weapons-grade adorable. Still, none of them hold a candle to the one true Champion of Charming, Baby Yoda. (Editor's note: I prefer Babu Frik.)

But another contender has entered the ring.

Leonardo Viti is a 3D artist based in London. His Instagram is filled with sculptures and images, many of which blur the line between cute and terrifying. Creating a baby Hutt is the artwork he was born for; taking something traditionally cringe-inducing and making it lovable takes a certain set of skills, and Viti has them.

Baby Jabba. Credit: Leonardo Viti

He first posted his images last year, where they've sat mostly dormant, incubating, waiting for the right moment to hatch inside our collective minds. That viral moment, thankfully, has come. There’s no denying the miniature Hutt is cute. Despite what he will inevitably become, you can't help but want to squeeze him and protect him from harm. Which is weird, because Hutts are undeniably slugs. They shouldn't be cute, and yet …

All of which raises the question, what is cuteness? What specific switches need to be flipped in our minds to activate that primal reaction? How does an artist take one of the vilest, most disgusting creatures in this, or any other, galaxy and make them endearing?

WHAT IS CUTENESS?

In the mid-20th century, zoologist and Nobel laureate Konrad Lorenz introduced the idea of the baby schema, a group of traits that stimulate a specific, positive response in our minds, namely that of cuteness. He suggested these traits elicit a caregiver response as we innately conclude the subject to be vulnerable and in need of protection.

While the cuteness response is still not wholly understood, there are a number of features that seem to trigger a positive reaction when we see them. The baby schema, as we know it, includes but is not limited to: large head-to-body ratios, large eyes, shortened noses, chubby cheeks, rounded limbs, and a high forehead.

This is likely an important evolutionary development, specifically because human babies require significant care during the first few years of life. Cuteness helps to override what is otherwise an objectively unpleasant relationship, at times. Babies can be loud, demanding, dirty, and selfish. In short, your brain is being hijacked by primal evolutionary overrides. You're being manipulated and, worse, you’re being made to enjoy it.

While this cognitive response was probably driven by an evolutionary need to protect and care for our vulnerable human offspring, it is co-opted by other things with similar traits. The brain isn't very good at distinguishing. It recognizes patterns and concerns itself only with accomplishing its intended goal, regardless of any collateral consequences.

It's why we see shapes in clouds, or faces in random noise. It's why optical illusions work at all. Your unconscious mind is making decisions and having emotional reactions to sets of stimuli that check boxes needed for some necessary survival process.

As a consequence, cuteness is not a purely human trait, it extends to all manner of things. The more obvious among them are non-human animals with similar features. Baby mammals are almost universally regarded as cute. But similar proportions result in similar emotional responses. It's why certain cars, like Volkswagen Beetles and Mini Coopers, are considered cuter than larger, boxier vehicles. And, obviously, it extends to artificial constructs like animated on-screen characters.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney+

Interestingly, our innate response to cuteness isn’t all good. While exposure to cuteness triggers a release of dopamine, which makes us feel good, many people also experience an unexplained urge toward violence. This phenomenon is known as cute aggression and might be linked to some crossed wires in the brain. It's your mind’s way of telling you not to be too overwhelmed by the sensations you’re feeling. Don't be taken in, it seems to be saying; that thing might be cute, but you also sort of want to smash it.

SO, WHO'S CUTER?

Given what we know about the baby schema, we should be able to analyze babies Yoda and Jabba and come to a conclusion about who better manipulates our meat machines.

At first glance, Baby Yoda is coming out ahead. He clearly has the larger eye-to-head ratio. His eyes take up nearly half of his total head space. He also has a larger forehead. Baby Jabba's eyes are set high on his face, with his eyebrows marking near the top of his head. But the game isn't over yet.

Baby Jabba might just win out when it comes to head-to-body ratio, and he clearly has the chubbier cheeks and rounded limbs on lock.

The question of noses is a little more ambiguous. Baby Jabba's is smaller, but only inasmuch as it doesn’t really exist at all. Instead, his nose is little more than a couple of holes in his face, which, for our purposes, though technically smaller, probably counts against him.

Moreover, there's something about Baby Jabba that, while cute, is also a little off-putting. Maybe it's the little bit of spittle at the corner of his mouth, or the texture of his skin; maybe it's just the background knowledge that he's a slug. Like a tiger cub, there's something deep-seated that says, you may be cute now, but that will end one day soon. But I don’t think that’s it, at least not entirely.

Credit: Lucasfilm

What makes Baby Jabba the lesser of two cute things is something simpler. Our cuteness response may be hijacked by non-human animals and objects, but it was designed in the evolutionary crucible to be fine-tuned for things that look like us. And Baby Jabba is just a little too different.

Baby Yoda, on the other hand, ticks almost all of the boxes our brains look for when seeking out a vulnerable, infantile child in need of our undying love and support. He's also got the added benefit of an entire live-action series filled with his adorable hijinks. We've seen him waddle in his oversized closed. We’ve seen him save the day. Cuteness might begin with an initial first reaction based on image alone, but it ends with a whole host of other stimuli including sounds and actions. In those regards, Baby Jabba just can't compete.

He may be kinda cute, if you put on an apron and squint a little, but Baby Yoda is unendingly cute, in both his features and behaviors.

Our cuteness response is evolutionarily tied to a reward system for a reason. Our lizard brains are telling us it will give us a bunch of extra dopamine if we just put up with the baggage for a few years. It does this because, in the end, you’re left with an individual who can meaningfully contribute to the group. Baby Yoda hits this mark, as well.

Baby Jabba, instead, is a potential threat. The cost-benefit analysis just doesn't weigh out. Maybe cute aggression isn't so crazy after all.

 

 


WIRE Buzz: Wyatt Russell becomes U.S. Agent; Game of Thrones most 'in-demand' show of 2019; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Thanks to a new tweet from Page Six, we now have our very first look at Wyatt Russell's take on U.S. Agent in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+.

Wyatt (who is the son of Kurt Russell, by the way) is playing John Walker, a military man who somewhat takes over for Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) once the iconic do-gooder retires from active superhero service following the events of Avengers: Endgame. Of course, this new version of "Cap" is backed by the U.S. government and may not embody the ivory white ideals held by Rogers.

Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) are both returning to play the show's titular heroes. As we all know, Sam is the true successor to Captain America, having been gifted the shield by Steve himself in the closing minutes of Endgame. Daniel Brühl (Zemo) and Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter) are also two familiar faces who are reprising their MCU roles for this particular project.

Like Russell, Adepero Oduye, Desmond Chiam, and Miki Ishikawa are newcomers to this comic book universe.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will fly onto Disney+ in the fall. Kari Skogland (The PunisherNOS4A2) is directing the miniseries.


The final season of Game of Thrones may not have been universally beloved by fans, but it was still big enough to be named the world's most "in-demand" TV show of 2019 at Parrot Analytics' 2nd Annual Global TV Demand Awards, the company announced this week.

HBO's high fantasy series was also awarded the title of Most In-Demand Drama Series in the World. Netflix's Stranger Things (last year's top winner) managed a win for Most In-Demand Digital Original in the World, while Disney+'s The Mandalorian collected the bounty for Most In-Demand Series Debut in the World. The CW's Flash sped over the finish line for Most In-Demand Superhero Series in the World.

Credit: HBO

Emily Swallow (the Armorer on The Mandalorian) and Esai Morales (Deathstroke on Titans) were among some of the award show's high-profile presenters.

“Parrot Analytics owns the world’s largest first-party content consumption and audience demand dataset, enabling the company to award the most comprehensive global ‘people’s choice award’ ever given to a TV show,” Rebekah Zabarsky, director of marketing, Parrot Analytics, and executive producer of the Global TV Demand Awards, said in a statement. “This year’s Global TV Demand Awards was incredibly exciting, and I want to thank our host Carson Kressley, our presenters, David Crane and everyone who participated in today’s celebration. Congratulations to Game of Thrones and all the winners.”


The official trailer for Sony's Alex Rider TV show has arrived, and it gives off some serious Kingsman: The Secret Service vibes.

Based on the books by Antony Horowitz, the series centers on the eponymous character (played by Otto Farrant) who discovers that his uncle was a spy for the British government. When his uncle (Andrew Buchan) "dies" under mysterious circumstances, Alex gets swept up in the dangerous world of espionage.

Take a look at the trailer below:

Adapted for the small screen by Guy Burt (The Borgias), Alex Rider also stars Brenock O’Connor, Stephen Dillane, Vicky McClure, Ace Bhatti, Nyasha Hatendi, Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Marli Siu, Earl Cave, Katrin Vankova, and Nathan Clarke.

All eight episodes are expected to premiere sometime this year. 

Horowitz previously adapted his own work into the 2006 screenplay for Stormbreaker. The poorly received project starred Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider.


Mr. Peanut, the legendary Planters mascot, just got roasted and died at the age of 104 @ Syfy Wire

1p>OH, NUTS! Mr. Peanut, the monocle and top hat-wearing mascot of the Planters food brand, has unfortunately died at the age of 104. The leguminous legend nobly gave his own life to save the lives of actor Wesley Snipes (Blade) and comedian Matt Walsh (The Hangover). And before you ask, no — we're not joking in the slightest. This is the actual direction Planters is taking for its 2020 Super Bowl ad, and it's just as nuts (pun very much intended) as it sounds.

"It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Mr. Peanut has died at 104. In the ultimate selfless act, he sacrificed himself to save his friends when they needed him most. Please pay your respects with #RIPeanut," wrote The Estate of Mr. Peanut account on Twitter, which has been around since December 2010.

Mr. Peanut's passing occurred when the Nutmobile careened off a precarious canyon road, throwing himself, Snipes, and Walsh onto a branch that could only support three bodies. Knowing what had to be done, Peanut let go of the branch without an ounce of hesitation and fell onto the wrecked vehicle, which promptly exploded around him, below. The fiery ball of death most likely incinerated Mr. Peanut into a charred paste...or butter, if you will.

Entitled "Road Trip," the teaser for Planters' Big Game spot is perfect down to the last detail. Read the fine print of words at the bottom of the screen and you'll see that they read: "Don't drive like a nut. Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt."

Since his birth in 1916 (two years before the end of World War I), Mr. Peanut remained one of the most iconic food brand mascots in history. Antonio Gentile, a young school student, first came up with his core design during a Planters icon contest. His trademark monocle, top hat, and cane would, according to the Planters website, be added later by a commercial artist.

Peanut, who first hit the television airwaves in the 1950s, will be sorely missed by his close friends, Tony the Tiger and Chester Cheetah. In more recent years, the character was voiced by such big names as Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame) and Bill Hader (Barry). 

Hopefully, his death is only temporary, something meant to drum up massive amounts of publicity for Planters. If ever we needed a comic book-style retcon of a beloved icon's demise, it's now.


Powerbeats Pro Headphones: A Rookie's Review @ io9

I’ve never bought trendy headphones.

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Your Cat Will Look Fancy As Hell Munching Out of This $15 Elevated Bowl @ io9

Elevated Cat Bowl With Stand | $15 | Amazon | Clip 25% off coupon

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The Most Important Thing The Rise of Skywalker Reinforces From The Last Jedi @ io9

On the surface, it’s easy to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as a rejection of the more subversive elements of The Last Jedi—it re-litigates the origins of our heroes, dredging up a past its predecessor was more than happy to move on from. It could, if you wanted to get a little bit conspiracy-brained, read as…

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What would Buffy Summers do? @ Syfy Wire

1p>In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the SLAYERRRRR.

Now that I've put that WB-era voiceover back in your head (you're welcome), it's time for us to dwell on none other than the OG Slayer herself, Buffy Anne Summers, for some incredibly helpful life advice and tips. It just so happens that the Buffster celebrated her fan-acknowledged birthday this past weekend, so the time is even more perfect to look to her life, her death (all two of them), and all the ups and downs in between.

In honor of FANGRRLtopia this month, we're looking to genre heroines who shaped us and molded us into the FANGRRLS we are today, positing what they would be doing if they existed today or any guidance they might have for approaching some of life's peskiest problems — and I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm faced with a tricky sitch, I can't help but ask myself: What would Buffy Summers do?

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