Category Archives: Television

Stargate Universe Finale and the Death of Syfy

The series finale of Stargate: Universe (SGU) aired earlier this week on the SyFy Channel. The finale of SGU heralds the end of not only the Stargate franchise, but a decade of quality programming on the only network dedicated to science fiction and fantasy. Care to take a sad look at where SyFy hyperjumped the shark? Then sit back, relax, enjoy and let The Beefboy do what The Beefboy does best… and that’s break it right on down for you!

The Golden Age

Over a decade ago The Beefboy caught a two-hour special broadcast of Farscape on NBC. I was impressed with the production design and quality of special effects, but I was particularly fascinated with the characters and writing of Farscape. I made the move to the Sci-Fi Channel and quickly became a fan of Sci-Fi Fridays. While Farscape was, and still is, one of my all time favorites, LEXX and Stargate: SG1 captivated me enough to take up that entire block of time and make that night special for me… and many other fans hungry for real science fiction.

Sure, we were subjected to the highs and lows of the Stargate franchise, and crapfests like The Invisible Man and Flash Gordon over the years, but then again we also got five years of the best television series of all time, Battlestar Gallactica! The Sci-Fi Network built a solid brand that kept me coming back every Friday night and, more importantly, courted my interest with new shows, no matter how wonderful or how abysmal they were.

Why Stargate Failed

Stargate: Universe was easily the most mature and developed of any previous incarnations. SGU gave us character development, modern direction, conflict and actors who were capable of delivering real drama. SGU deserved better, but was doomed due to series fatigue (Star Trek: Enterprise suffered from the same malady). What ultimately killed SGU though, was a failure of network branding and that goes straight to the nutsacks in charge of the SyFy network.

Syfy Executives Lose Their Mind

There are so many egregious examples of corporate ineptitude that I hardly have the time to list them all here. SyFy’s original programming has been in steady decline. Doctor Who and Torchwood rebroadcasts certainly propped-up their offerings for a while, but BBC America snatched new episodes for their own channel. Sanctuary is barely watchable and while Warehouse 13 and Eureka have some critical acclaim, they are largely forgettable. What is SyFy’s flagship program? Well now, it’s actually WWE Smackdown and that’s the biggest problem.

Before I get angry letters from pro-wrestling fans, I actually like the WWE, so save your breath. I realize that wrestling brings ratings to SyFy, but so would Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. Where do you draw the line? If you’re just looking for ratings at any cost then why not just create a cooking show with a science fiction theme? Oh… they did that?

SyFy executives are so anxious to spread their legs for anything that promises ratings that they have alienated their base (yes, I intended that one), and perhaps screwed away a decade of brand recognition. Seriously, what’s the difference between SyFy and any other network now? We should have seen the writing on the wall when they changed from “Sci-Fi” to “SyFy”.

Stargate: Universe suffered withering ratings because SyFy no longer had a flagship program, or even a predominant line-up that supported a loyal fan base. Science fiction fans didn’t leave Stargate: Universe, they fled SyFy, and will continue to do so.

The Death of Syfy

It’s with a heavy heart that I proclaim the death of the SyFy channel. As a sci-fi fan (small “s” and small “f”) I’m used to dealing with heartache over fat cats in leather chairs disrespecting the entertainment that I enjoy. However, the betrayal from what was, the network of science fiction and fantasy, is doubly pernicious because over the last decade sci-fi fans adopted the Sci-Fi Channel as our own guilty pleasure.

SyFy is the Sharktopus of cable television; a shitty pathetic knock-off enterprise, content to be nothing, to everyone. Congratulations SyFy, you have successfully captured the zeitgeist of the modern era. You have found a way to fragment and insult your loyal fans, and ultimately drive them to the internet, video games and anywhere else but your network.

I’m sorry to see SyFy become such a joke, but then again, I have so many other great entertainment options now it doesn’t really matter. Hollywood has discovered that geeks have deep pockets and a voracious appetite for fantasy and science fiction. It’s too bad that SyFy forgot that.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Video)

Jimmy Kimmel’s Response to the Super Bowl Tim Tebow Ad (Video)

Television Review: “Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series”

terminator-bloodgoodWhen I ran into “Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series” animated short, I instantly thought back to the “Animatrix” and “Batman: Gotham Knight” animated shorts, which were exceptionally well done and offered some very talented animators the opportunity to play in the worlds of The Matrix and Batman. “Machinima” was offered via On Demand, at a slight discount, so I pulled the trigger on the purchase. While I won’t be getting my money back for that decision, I can certainly use the power of my 5 million hits a month, to make sure you don’t make that same mistake!

“Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series” is a segmented computer animated series that follows Moon Bloodgood’s character Blair Williams as she looks for a “ghost” that is screwing up communications. What follows is a repetitive mundane story that literally put me to sleep. Frankly, if a hot chick gunfighting with robots can’t hold my attention then you’ve seriously got a problem!

What burns me most about this animated series has nothing to do with the writing. While watching “The Machinima Series” I couldn’t help but wonder why the animation was so exceptionally poor. The CGI looked like a video game. So, I got online and did a little research, and what do you know; it was created using the same graphics engine that the “Terminator: Salvation” video game used!

So, what we have in “Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series” is an insult of the highest order; a poorly-written visual wreck offered to steal your money. If these episodes were given to the public as a free bonus, or part of a viral campaign, then I’d be the first guy to positively acknowledge the gesture. But this is a flagrant attempt to remove you from your hard earned money and both the creators of “Terminator: Salvation” and the executives of Warner Brothers should be ashamed of themselves.

While I can save you from wasting your money, the only thing that will truly square things with the Beefboy is a date with Moon Bloodgood. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Television Review: “V”… or should it be called “O”?

morena-baccarin-v-tv-seriesAll good sci-fi uses the genre to explore current events, social and political issues in a way that allows the viewer to see the world in a new light. I’m not sure how this ever got past the network goons at ABC, but “V” has socialism, idol worship, a biased press and the Obama administration squarely in its sights! In fact, after seeing the first episode of “V”, the Beefboy is wondering if anyone has checked to see if Raum Emanuel has lizard skin beneath his human flesh suit!

Much like our socialist friends, the aliens in “V” are clearly reading Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. They have infiltrated positions of power and influence all over the world. By the time the alien spacecraft show up, they have already laid the seeds to destroy the human race. The Visitors promise peace and are proud of their one world government. They come as our saviors, offering us their technology, and literally promising to give us “Universal Health Care!” And no, I’m not making this up.

The Visitors have a charismatic leader too. “Anna”, played by Morena Baccarin, is one of the hottest aliens of all time! As an aside, I tried to create a good Beefboy Gallery of Morena, but for some reason there are almost no hot photos of her available. I’m not sure how, or why, someone as outrageously sexy as Morena hasn’t done a shoot with every men’s magazine on the planet, but it just hasn’t happened Beefanatics… now back to the review.

Much like our own President Obama, Anna threatens to cancel an interview if she’s asked any questions which don’t paint her and the Visitors in a positive light. She’s a hit with the Middle East and Europe too, since she can speak all foreign languages concurrently. She loves being on TV almost as much as Obama, but seriously, not even a fictional alien can keep up with his media schedule.

Besides being the first program on mainstream television that is willing to be critical of our current administration, “V” is smart and sexy sci-fi. The actors do a good job with their roles, the writing is tight and the direction is solid. While “V” is not necessarily exceptional in any aspect, it is much better effort than ABC’s “Defying Gravity.” Most series get better over time when the writers and actors find their voices. If “V” continues to improve (and it could go either way) then it could aspire to excellence.

I can see the possibilities of developing the plot of the “human ambassadors” who are enamored with the Visitors and will be asked to spy on their fellow man. The human resistance (Tea Party types) will have to ride the line between opposing the Visitors while having to fight their own media and government. The traitor Visitors, who sympathize with the humans, are another aspect that holds a lot of potential. Needless to say, there is a lot of room for intrigue and biting commentary, if ABC and the creators have the balls to follow through with the promise of their pilot episode.

And to the executives at ABC: If you can get Morena Baccarin in some lingerie for a Maxim magazine spread, it wouldn’t exactly hurt your ratings. Hell, send her over the Beefcave and I’ll take some pictures of her! Just saying…

Tricia Helfer and Grace Park show up in sexy Maxim photos!

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A couple of months ago, in the Beefboy’s Top 25 Sci-fi Babes of 2009 article, I placed Tricia Helfer as my number one pick and Grace Park as number ten. Well, the boys and girls at Maxim magazine know a good thing when they see it so they got BOTH Tricia Helfer and Grace Park together for a photo shoot that’s hot as a supernova, and an interview about SyFy’s upcoming Battlestar Gallactica special “The Plan”.

I have a few photos here (plus a video), but I encourage you to visit the Maxim site or to pick up the latest issue to see and read more.

Clone Wars Restoring the Force to the Star Wars Universe

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Last night’s second episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars made me feel like I was seven years old again. If seeing Obi Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu kicking ass together doesn’t stir something within you then you’re either not a Star Wars fan or you don’t have a pulse. The finale of the episode complete with saving babies while a secret base crumbles into lava is the culmination of everything that George Lucas intended back when he created Star Wars as a modern version of the Flash Gordon serials.

Clone Wars is so good that it threatens to overshadow the source material it was pulled from in the first place. It’s easily better than the recent trilogy of movies. The aging Star Wars universe is experiencing a small bit of revitalization through this animated series. Lucas would be wise to take that momentum and do the same thing that saved Roddenberry’s universe… hand over the keys to the kingdom.

Bryan Singer Eyes New Battlestar Gallactica Film

bryan_singer_battlestar_galacticaHitfix.com has reported that Universal hired Bryan Singer to do another re-boot of Battlestar Gallactica. Bryan Singer was just three months away from his version of Battlestar shortly before September 11th, 2001 and executives at Sci-fi (SyFy) were reluctant to launch a series that started with a devastating sneak attack. Now Universal wants Singer to produce and maybe direct his own version for the big screen.

I’m not sure where this idea came from but there are so many things wrong with this, particularly right now, that I’m not sure if I have the time to quantify all of them.

First off, the best version of Battlestar Gallactica just wrapped up. You’ll never top it, and you’ll never get close. Yes, fans of the original series were cheesed-off because it was not a faithful rendition of the original version… which is exactly why it was so much fucking better! Do you really want to resurrect a little boy running around a battleship with a fuzzy robot dog during a time of war? Do you really want episodes where Starbuck has a gun fight with a Cylon in a western town? Seriously?!! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the original Battlestar Gallactica got it’s re-imagining… it was called Galactica 80 and it sucked Daggit balls! ‘Nuff said!

Next… speaking of sucking Daggit balls, Bryan Singer is the new Franchise Killer (Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman and Robin and Batman Forever was the original Franchise Killer)! Singer left a successful X-Men movie franchise series to create the new Superman franchise series AND DESTROYED THEM BOTH IN THE PROCESS! Singer’s brilliant “vision” of Superman was a cuckolded pansy who never threw a punch and couldn’t say the line “Truth, Justice and the American Way!” The Man of Steel was reduced to using his x-ray vision to watch Lois get boned by some random fucking nutsack!

Bryan, you can take your Superman and cram him right up your ass! I think turning an American icon into a gelding is tantamount to treason!

I’ve got a suggestion for Singer and everyone else at Universal… do Battlestar Gallactica, your wallet, and our sanity a favor, and let it go. I refuse to believe that the human race has come to a point in our history where we’ve used up all the good movie ideas. Find something new to do with your time and money. Come up with a NEW CONCEPT. Is that too much to ask? If you don’t have any new ideas, then step aside for the fucking throng of creative people who have something fresh to offer.

What happened to the man who produced and directed The Usual Suspects? Find THAT Bryan Singer, get a new concept and then you’ve got something to be excited about.

Star Wars: Clone Wars – Season Two Preview

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Star Wars: Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network is the best incarnation of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Period. In fact, it’s the best thing that Lucas has had his name on for the past quarter of a century. Clone Wars is fun and clever, something the last three Star Wars movies seriously lacked. The Jedi battle scenes finally deliver what fans have been wishing for since Luke first turned on his father’s Light Saber.

And frankly, the cartoon version of Anakin Skywalker has more charisma than Hayden Christianson. That’s not necessarily a knock on Christianson. After all, Lucas managed to make Liam Neeson, Ewan McGreggor and Samuel L. Jackson into pieces of wood, and those guys are the best in the business!

The second season of Clone Wars is coming soon, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us! Here’s a preview of season two.

Defying Gravity Review

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Last Sunday was the two episode premier of “Defying Gravity” on ABC’s primetime line-up. If you’ve been following the Beefboy for a while then you will know that I’m a big fan of science fiction, and I’m particularly supportive of the big networks taking a shot at primetime sci-fi. However, I have a lot of reservations about “Defying Gravity.”

The overarching plot of “Defying Gravity” is a six year trip to Venus by a ship full of astronauts. It’s clear that they are trying to evoke moments of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Lost”, and those are good role models to have, but, just like space travel, it’s not as easy as it looks.

While I appreciate the heights the writers and producers are trying to achieve, the actual dialogue on the first two episodes is very pedestrian. I do like how they are telling the story by mixing up the sequential nature of the show and I like the where they are going with some of the mystery elements. However, I think I’ve already figured the whole thing out, and that’s not good at all.

The writing is not helping their cast out either. While these actors are perfectly fine in their roles, no one stands out as being particularly charismatic or extraordinarily talented. They really need the gravitas of a salty-dog veteran actor to anchor the show and it’s just not there. The cast is plenty attractive, and that’s something, but it’s not enough.

I have some questions about the science on Defying Gravity. The special effects are thin, and the production design is uninspired. The science, effects and design all seem to be the result of a low budget. I don’t know how the Sci-Fi Channel (or SyFy now) can have exceptional effects and production on a show like “Battlestar Gallactica,” but a major network turns in such a sophomoric effort. I suspect that a low budget was the only way this series was going to get made, so I can forgive them for that transgression.

All of this means that “Defying Gravity” is unlikely to be defying gravity for much longer. I’m far more gracious with science fiction than the average viewer. When compared to other shows that were legitimately good out of the gate (like “Firefly”) “Defying Gravity” just doesn’t measure up. While I sincerely hate to deride a primetime science fiction series on a major network, I also don’t want to prop up a show that degrades the genre. It’s possible that this series will improve over time, but I really think the cast and crew of “Defying Gravity” are over their heads, by several million miles.

Farewell Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

It’s taken me a few days to process the final episode of Battlestar Galactica and place it within the context of the series. The initial controversy over the changes they made to the 70’s series, and the subsequent controversies they encountered over the balance of the series all seem like hollow voices now. I feel like I’ve just witnessed something that will never be repeated again.

I still don’t know how the creators managed to keep such a dark tone throughout the series and present such adult themes without network executives or activist groups sticking their unwelcome and ignorant opinions into the mix. HBO and Showtime can get away with more, but I challenge you to show me a series that deals with the modern zeitgeist better than Battlestar Galactica. Torture, paranoia, the cost of war, religion, rape, cruelty, honor, deceit, sacrifice and the sum total of the human experience were all addressed in one way or another throughout the series. Galactica was very much a product of the mood in America following September 11th and they never compromised on that.

It was abundantly clear that everyone involved in creating Battlestar Galactica was heavily invested in what became a five year long movie. Galactica benefits from a level of cohesion that almost every series lacks. Every epic series I can think of either loses its way on the journey (X-Files), goes on too long (ER), or gets the plug pulled too early (Firefly). Galactica flew straight from the beginning and ended at the perfect time.

The series finale was deeply satisfying. The action of the first hour was intense and thrilling. In fact, it was better than most action movies, but even more importantly, because you knew this was the final episode, you knew everyone was vulnerable (not that Galactica ever had a problem with axing a character). The second hour was a pure character study that both wrapped up their lives and answered all questions. The answers to all the mysteries took Galactica to another level entirely.

I’ve purposely removed any indication of how Battlestar Galactica ended, in the hopes that if you haven’t seen the series that you will invest the time to see how good television can be at its height. I doubt if we’ll ever see a series that performs as well from beginning to end and absolutely represents the time it was created, better than Battlestar Galactica. The finale took a fantastic series and made it eternal. Thanks to the creators, cast and crew of Battlestar Galactica.

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