Category Archives: TV

Two “Alien” Series In The Works – One WIth Ridley Scott PRODUCING

They come mostly at night. Mostly. That is, the upcoming pair of live-action shows set in the Ridley Scott “Alien” universe. An enduring franchise that has somehow never had a TV show, it looks like that is about to change, and instead of getting just one, we may be getting a pair.

According to a report from HN Entertainment, details are minimal at best right now but it seems there will be two shows coming. While both are in the early developmental phase, one of them is rumored to be headed to Hulu, and Ridley Scott would be on board as an executive producer.

With the Disney and Fox merger taking place very soon, it seems Disney will be okay with Fox continuing to produce more mature content. Disney is headed down that route as well, although I doubt we will ever see Mickey and Donald on board the Sulaco.

The last major Alien project was “Alien: Covenant”, which was a bit of a flop. It seems TV could be a saving grace for this franchise, that truly deserves better than some of the schlock it’s been given.

At this point, there is no concrete news on anything so take this with a grain of salt. I would totally watch an episodic Alien series, and a franchise like this would absolutely benefit from that type of format.

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New “Star Trek” Animated Series Headed To Nickelodeon

It’s been over 40 years since there has been an animated Star Trek series on TV, but it looks like that’s about to change. Alex Kurtzman is now on board with CBS to create a new cartoon, but it’s home will not be a CBS network like the other Trek show. Instead, it’s potentially headed for Nickelodeon.

While there are no other details besides the fact that, yes, this is a real thing, this will be a Star Trek show aimed at children more than adults.

The show was first teased by Kurtzman earlier this year when he told the Hollywood Reporter that “there’s other animated things that we’re building that are an entirely different perspective and an entirely different tone [from Lower Decks]. What’s exciting about it is not only looking at each animated series as what’s the different tone, but what’s the different technology we can apply to these things so that visually they’re entirely different?”

Deadline first reported this news, which is very exciting for Trek fans of all ages. The series will be written by Kevin and Dan Hageman, who also wrote for the Lego Movie and the Lego Ninjago movie and cartoon series on Cartoon Network, and Hotel Transylvania. Most recently, they wrote the screenplay for Croods 2 (which will be out in September 2020), and Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming “Scary Stories” movie.

The Star Trek TV universe is growing by leaps and bounds. The new animated series will join Star Trek: Discovery, now in its second season, along with the unnamed Patrick Stewart-centric Picard series; animated series Lower Decks from Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty’s) targeted at mature audiences; and Section 31, which is in development with Michelle Yeoh attached to star as a spinoff from Discovery.

The Hageman-helmed animated Trek series will be the only one not a part of CBS All Access. There are signs pointing to Viacom and CBS merging, so this will certainly help push those plans forward.

No date has been announced yet for this, but perhaps we will hear something in a few months at Star Trek Mission in Vegas.

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Marina Sirtis Was Almost Fired From “Star Trek: The Next Generation” During First Season

The Star Trek franchise has survived many renditions, some better than others, but arguably the one that ensured the series would continue for decades on was “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. However, the show had a tumultuous first season where the future was never certain. One of the key cast members just spoke out about how her time on the show was nearly cut short very early on.

In an interview with the AV Club, Marina Sirtis (AKA Counselor Deanna Troi on TNG) talked about being cast on the show, and the legacy of being a part of the Star Trek universe. During this chat, they discussed whether or not the crew had any belief that the show would endure the way it has. Sirtis was not so optimistic at the time:

MS: I myself was hanging on by my fingernails, especially after the first season. I pretty much have only spoken about it recently because it was kind of awkward. I was never asked the question. When I was finally asked, I was like, “Well, actually, the reason why I wasn’t in a lot of those episodes in the first season was because I was going to get fired.”

She continued to expand on that topic, and explained how she was likely going to be cut from the cast:

MS: Well, Gene felt that there was one too many women on the show. And you need a doctor [Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher] and a security chief [Crosby as Tasha Yar], but you really don’t need a psychologist. It was as simple as that. Security chief is viable, a doctor is viable—a psychologist, not so much.

So I was getting fired. I asked Majel Barrett-Roddenberry straight out, because we were very close, and I asked her a few years ago, before she passed away, and I said, “I was going to get fired that first season, wasn’t I?” And she went, “Yep!” The irony of the whole situation is that at the end of the first season, I was the only one left out of the three.

The fact that Sirtis survived the crew cuts meant she could have a chance to become a more important player in the show:

So at Jonathan Frakes’ wedding, [Gene Roddenberry] took me aside, and he goes, “You know what, I just wanted to tell you that whenever it is that we go back to work after the strike, the first episode of the second season is a Troi episode.” And I just burst into tears. Because basically, I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails for that whole first season—not just professionally, but emotionally.

I had landed the best job ever, and I was going to lose it. I was so up and down. One minute, I was so happy to be working. The next minute, I was just in the depths of despair. So when he said that to me, it meant the world. Not only did I have a job, but the first episode after a six-month break was going to be a Troi episode. That’s how much they thought of me.

Sirtis’ character thrived along with the rest of the crew, and became part of the modern sci-fi zeitgeist. She opened many doors for other women in the genre, and remains active in the Trek community these days through convention appearances.

Hopefully, Counselor Troi makes a comeback in the upcoming Picard series! How could she not be in it?

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How “Star Trek: Discovery” Fixed One Of Their Biggest Mistakes Before Anyone Noticed

“Star Trek: Discovery” is the latest episodic Trek series, exclusive to the CBS All Access streaming service. It can be divisive among hardcore fans, especially when it comes to the visuals of the show. Personally, I’m a fan of the look, and I dig the uniforms they wear. But there was one massive error that no one noticed until it was too late to fix… and somehow, they still managed to fix it.

Costume designer Gersha Phillips spoke with about many things related to the wardrobe of the newest iteration of Star Trek. The discussion soon turned up to the season 2 outfits, which included the crew of Captain Pike’s Enterprise with their costumes that differ from the Discovery crew.

While the costumes do look very cool, one major detail was missed and had to be arduously fixed in post – the ranks. It’s the kind of thing that may be small to the average folk, but Trekkies like us would raise our pitchforks in an instant if it aired the way it was.

Here is what Gersha had to say about it:

The only thing that we didn’t actually think about was rank at the time, because in Disco, the rank was done with pips on the badges. So, when we first shot the first few days of Enterprise uniforms, we forgot to put rank on. So then, I forgot who told us, I think it was marketing, actually. John Van Citters saw that we hadn’t any indication of rank on our uniform.

And so, me and my team, we spent like a night of trying to figure out how we were going to add rank bars on their uniforms. So that was an interesting journey, and it all happened during one night, so we had to figure that out… Then they had to go back and CGI all the stripes on the days that we didn’t do it.

You know, it’s another sort of evolving situation, but I do feel like the version that we came up with sort of works within the world of our show, Discovery, and I don’t know if it’ll go throughout everything that’s coming up, because we’re doing other shows now that have been announced. I’m not sure what will happen and what will be used from then and what will not be used, but we’ll see.

It’s pretty amazing to think how much work in post-production went into this, and how seamless it really looked, especially when you compare it to the much larger budgeted project of Aladdin, who made Will Smith’s Genie look like something out of a Nintendo 64 game. Of course, now that you know, you’re probably going to go back to watch Discovery again and see if you can spot the fix. Good luck, let us know if you can find it!

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Michonne Ready To Hit The Dusty Trail – Danai Gurira To Leave “The Walking Dead”

AMC hit “The Walking Dead” has been as unstoppable as a herd of walkers, but it seems that’s been changing the past year or two. With major stars leaving the show (causing even more major deviations from the comics), one must wonder if the show will be on life support soon. Today, we found out TWD will take another big loss soon – the samurai-sword carrying lawyer, Michonne.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story, announcing Danai Gurira had signed a deal that would keep her on for one more season, and that would be it.

Under her new deal, Gurira will return in a limited capacity — described as only a handful of episodes — that will be interspersed throughout season 10. The actress, playwright and social activist will then likely segue to the three Walking Dead movies that AMC is planning with former leading man Andrew Lincoln. The latter has played the central role of Rick Grimes since the pilot and departed in the first half of season nine.

Gurira had been in talks with AMC for a new contract since well before season nine of The Walking Dead started. With the loss of other stars, AMC set their sights on doing their best to keep Gurira on the show, but it seems those plans fell through.

In the wake of this departure, it’s been reported that Gurira’s co-stars — Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Melissa McBride (Carol) — signed multiple-year “franchise/universe deals” with AMC to keep them on TWD for a long time.

Sources say those pacts will cover three years of the franchise as a whole, meaning if their characters are written off of the flagship and relocated to another property in the Walking Dead franchise — or depart completely — they would continue to get paid. Both received sizable raises. Reedus — who also hosts and exec produces AMC’s unscripted motorcycle series Ride With Norman Reedus — earns $350,000 per episode on top of additional guarantees and advances in a deal that sources say could be worth anywhere from $50 million to $90 million. McBride’s deal will see the actress score an estimated $20 million over three years.

Those deals allow Reedus and McBride to jockey between Walking Dead properties, including crossing over to companion series Fear the Walking Dead and, potentially, roles in the trio of TV movies. AMC, under chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, has further expansion plans beyond the movies for its billion-dollar franchise.

Gurira joined the cast in 2012 and became a breakout hit with viewers as the badass Michonne. Her name power continued to elevate every year, especially after her appearance as Okoye in “Black Panther”.

It may be the last time we see Michonne on TWD for some time, but fans will have to wait for the movies to see what happens when her and Rick cross paths again.

“The Walking Dead” returns for new episodes of the second half of season nine on February 10th at 9 pm ET on AMC. 

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Guinan Wants A Comeback – Whoopi Goldberg Wishes To Be in New Star Trek Picard Show

Captain Picard could always use some advice from his good friend, Guinan, and Whoopi Goldberg is all on board for that idea.

On David Tennant’s podcast, the former 10th Doctor suggested to his guest Whoopi Goldberg that now that Patrick Stewart is back in the Trek universe with his own new show coming soon, perhaps she too could be a part of that world once more.

Here is the transcription from that segment:

Tennant: You could presumably go back to Star Trek. Patrick Stewart is back at it.

Goldberg: I know, but, you know, they have not asked me.

Tennant: You need to ask them again. They would probably think you are kidding.

Goldberg: Well, I don’t know. Maybe. I will. I’ll put it out there.

Tennant: Well, this could be it. We are putting it out there.

Goldberg: All right. We are putting it out there right now.

Goldberg played Guinan on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” the bartender in ten-forward, who was also an El-Aurian, a mysterious race of empathic humanoids who aged at a much slower pace than the average species. She gave plenty of good advice to the TNG characters, including trying to help Wesley learn how to ask a girl out with the help of Commander Riker.

Earlier this week, we wrote about Goldberg’s appearance on Tennant’s podcast in relation to how she pitched the BBC to let her be the first female Doctor Who lead, years before Jodie Whittaker took that role.

You can listen to the entire episode of the podcast below:

The untitled Jean-Luc Picard-centric Star Trek series is currently in pre-production, and will begin filming this April.

What other characters would you like to see return in the upcoming Picard show? Personally, I want to see what happened to the DS9 crew!

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Whoopi Goldberg Could Have Been First Female “Doctor Who”

Academy Award winner and host of “The View”, Whoopi Goldberg recently revealed she tried to break ground by pitching the BBC to become the first female Doctor, years before Jodie Whittaker took the helm.

Goldberg was chatting with David Tennant, AKA the 10th Doctor, on his new podcast, and explained to him that she had pitched the idea of her picking up the sonic screwdriver some years ago, but was met with rejection.

“I wanted to be the first female Doctor … the American version of Doctor Who ends up in New York and it’s me”, she told Tennant.

“The idea of that so made me happy. But they were like ‘Um no.’ I was like, ‘OK, I’m cool. I ­understand.’”

Goldberg has been an active player in sci-fi media, known especially for her role as Guinan on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. She has cited seeing Uhura on TV, a black woman on the bridge who was contributing and being respected by others, was a huge inspiration to her as a child, not just for her acting aspirations but as a human being.

Whoopi spoke with the Radio Times way back in 2017, where she first mentioned that she wanted to star in “Doctor Who”.

“I always hope when I come to England, the BBC will say, ‘Hey we want you to do something.’ I would love that”, she told The Sun, while speaking about her love of British TV.

“You have a different quality now on television. The way you guys have always done shows has always been the smartest and we’ve finally just figured it out.

“I like the idea of doing things the way y’all do them, you do some really fun stuff like Black Mirror or, you know, I’m still dying to do Doctor Who.”

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WATCH – “The Twilight Zone” Superbowl Commercial Premieres

During Super Bowl LIII, the live telecast was suddenly interrupted it seemed. TVs began to glitch out, and it appeared that CBS was abruptly off the air… at least, that’s what they wanted you to think.

In fact, it was actually a commercial for the new Jordan Peele helmed “Twilight Zone”, giving us our first taste of the new series.

Check out the extended commercial in the video above!

Actors who will be appearing in the new series announced so far include Ike Barinholtz, John Cho, Lucinda Dryzek, Taissa Farmiga, Greg Kinnear, Luke Kirby, Sanaa Lathan, Kumail Nanjiani, Adam Scott, Rhea Seehorn, Alison Tolman, Jacob Tremblay, Jefferson White, Jonathan Whitesell, Jessica Williams, DeWanda Wise and Steven Yeun.

The series officially premieres on Monday, April 1 on their online streaming service, CBS All Access. Following the two episode premiere, new episodes will be available on demand weekly on Thursdays beginning April 11, exclusively for subscribers to the website. There is a free week long trial, so if you haven’t checked out what CBS All Access has to offer, between this and Star Trek Discovery it may be a good time to give it a shot.

Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg serve as executive producers along with Win Rosenfeld, Audrey Chon, Glen Morgan, Carol Serling, Rick Berg and Greg Yaitanes.

The “Avengers: Endgame” movie also debuted a new trailer tonight, check it out at this link here!

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How Adult Swim cartoon “TIGTONE” gets animated

Animation is not just drawing the same thing again and again to make a flat picture look like it’s moving. What it really comes down to is problem solving. Sure, you could repetitively doodle the same person jumping up and down, but how do you do it efficiently and convincingly?

One of my favorite new Adult Swim cartoon shows is “Tigtone”, originally created by  Andrew Koehler, Benjamin Martian, and Zack Wallenfang (the latter of whom is not involved in the current series but was part of the pilot). It combines “Dungeons & Dragons” fantasy settings with the insanity of your typical inane Adult Swim humor. It’s everything I love and more.

The element that absolutely drew me in the most was the animation style. It looked like nothing I had ever seen before, and if you don’t know what I am talking about – take a look at the pilot episode in the video below:

It’s clear to see why this got picked up by Adult Swim. It looks like someone took an illustration from a fantasy book or a Magic the Gathering card and somehow enchanted it so that it would become an 11 minute cartoon. Much like how Tigtone needs a quest, I too need one, and today that quest has been discovering how the heck they animate this show! After I saw the first Adult Swim episode aired, I started digging around but was unable to find much. Eventually, I found a video not from the creative team behind it, but from RedLetter Media AKA the home of everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly review, Mr Plinkett. Check out this video below to see a little of the behind-the-scenes production process:

This video revealed that the VO actors often perform their lines with the producer present, and do a very unique motion-capture. Clearly, that is just the first step, but it’s certainly a very big clue to what they are doing.

More recently, Adult Swim released the video below, likely due to folks like myself and readers like you who have been endlessly googling “How do they animate TigTone”?

All that SEO analytical data paid off, and we got more of an official look at how the hometeam produces their mo-cap sessions, involving a piece of apparatus that resembles a medieval torture device that I honestly would not be surprised to see in an episode.

The next big question was how do they take these mo-cap sessions and add it to the artwork?

The clues we got from the video was that they seem to be using Adobe After Effects, a very powerful (and accessible) app that you can get fairly easily if you don’t mind paying a monthly subscription fee.

I started to dig deeper, and stumbled upon this Youtube tutorial by Creativid Studios who seems to be doing something very similar to what the animators behind “Tigtone” are doing.

This form of AE motion capture combines a recording of the actors face with a series of masks, combining an illustration of the cartoon characters face with some holes in it to let the actor’s eyes and mouth peek through.

Once you have those features removed, you then use a Face Tracker that is built into AE to recognize a face, and then creates key frames to track the mouth as it moves. It’s easier to watch the video then have me explain it all, so take a look and see what you think.

Of course, this begs the question – why animate this show in such a time consuming way? In an interview with Little Black Book Online, Benjamin Martian and Andrew Koehler addressed those thoughts, and had this to say:

Andrew: An enormous part of what makes the humour work is the fact that the presentation takes itself seriously. It NEEDS to look like epic, hand painted, exquisitely detailed art in order for the total farce of the writing to work. 

Benjamin: Also the style and process came out of necessity and resourcefulness. When we realised we couldn’t produce these fantasy scripts live-action, Andrew used what he had at his disposal to make something work. That something was this 2D motion capture technique. Also, damn all convention.

They went on to discuss how this process came to be, and the hardships that ultimately led them to the one of a kind aesthetic that “Tigtone” has:

Andrew: It was a lot of trial and error, research and development, hurry up and wait, and blood, sweat, and tears. But really it was all about figuring out the practicality of it all – how do I warp his face without distorting his hair, how do I keep the teeth from floating around, etc. The answer always involved a lot of math and a lot of rendering. 

Benjamin: Andrew was like MacGyver, digitally duct-taping this process together with different programs and plug-ins. When we started production at Titmouse, the animation studio that produces the series, we had to completely reinvent the production process to accommodate this bizarre technique.

The famed “Torture Chair” with a DSLR ominously hovering above it

That same article also gives us some of the most exact specifics we have seen on the internet so far about the steps taken to animate in this style:

Benjamin: After we have all the lines recorded and cut into the animatic (animated storyboards) we isolate every line for each character and categorise them by shot angle. We then glue pearl craft beads onto our faces at specific points to track the movement of the entire face. For example, we put three dots over each eyebrow to capture the way the eyebrows bend.

Then we strap ourselves into our motion-capture bench with a camera mounted overhead. We play back every single line on a loop and perform the line, trying to perform in sync with the line.

After that, the motion of each dot on our face is attached to the corresponding dot on the characters’ face to create the motion. Then the animators do a TON of work to hone in the performances – so it’s not just our faces doing all the work.

One of the most important things about doing this with their “torture chair” is making sure the people reading the lines and being filmed are perfectly still. The mo-cap data must precisely match the angles of the characters being animated in order to register with the tracker. If they don’t – back to the torture chair for them to reshoot the scene.

Either way, it seems the technology is in your grasp, and now you too can attain that unique look with your own cartoons! If you give it a try, let us know how it came out and feel free to post it in the comments!

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Watch the Season 2 Premiere of “Star Trek: Discovery” for FREE – Make It So!

Want to see the new Star Trek series on CBS All Access, but not convinced it’s worth your money? Lucky for you, CBS has heard your complaints, and is throwing you a bone.

CBS just uploaded the entire Season 2 Premiere of “Star Trek: Discovery” to watch for free on their Youtube channel. Picking up where things left off last time (Spoilers), The NCC-1030 USS Discovery ended the war with the Klingons, and was about to embark for whatever was next. It just so happened to be a distress signal from a familiar ship – The NCC 1701 USS Enterprise, with Captain Christopher Pike at the helm! What happens next? You will have to watch this very exciting episode to find out!

Here is their official synopsis of the season:

After answering a distress signal from the U.S.S. Enterprise, season two of Star Trek: Discovery finds the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery joining forces with Captain Christopher Pike on a new mission to investigate seven mysterious red signals and the appearance of an unknown being called the Red Angel. While the crew must work together to unravel their meaning and origin, Michael Burnham is forced to face her past with the return of her estranged brother, Spock.

Check it out and let us know what you think of this episode in the comments below!

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