Archive for the ‘Pontificating’ Category.

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e03

[caption id="attachment_9238" align="alignright" width="300"]Kabuki Peacekeepers Farscape s1e03: On weekends, we're a KISS cover band[/caption]

"Exodus from Genesis" (season 1, episode 3)

Written by Ro Hume, directed by Brian Henson This'll be a truly fresh rewatch, because literally the only thing I remember offhand about this ep is "Kabuki Peacekeepers." Roll it... Dentics! Ah, I do remember Dentics. And here we begin the Farscape tradition of Putting Yucky Things in your Mouth. Crichton calls Aeryn "Miss Sun" here! And pronounces it "Soon!" Is this the one and only time in the series he calls her that? Zhaan touches Rygel! Is this the first time one of our actors touches one of our animatronics? We quickly discovered that "manhandling the puppets" really helped bring the latter to life as Actual Beings, so watch to see how much more often everybody "gets physical" with Rygel and Pilot as the series goes on... Zhaan as Flash Van Gogh. A cool notion that we never played again, as I recall. Not much plot use for superspeed painting, although maybe we could've used it in "I, E.T." ("Quick, Zhaan, as soon as Moya touches down, hop out and paint her in camouflage colors!") Critter! Love the Draks. Love Crichton jumping up on the table just as any sensible person would do. Crichton gets beat up by Aeryn*. Take a drink. Crichton gets beat up by Zhaan*. Take another drink. *Okay, it's not the real Aeryn and Zhaan, but still. Poor guy... Jonathan Hardy truly gets to shine with his Rygel voice work in the ep. Wonderful stuff. Rygel has a great Face of Shock and Disgust when he sees Mama Drak churning out eggs. Kudos to our outstanding puppeteers John Eccleston, Sean Masterson, Dave Collins, Graeme Haddon, Tim Mievelle, Mario Halovvas, and Damian Bradford for all their outstanding work. And here come the Kabuki Peacekeepers! I kept expecting them to break into a Gilbert & Sullivan tune. And D'Argo actually wins a fight! Go, Anth! Took out the slowest PK commando. Virginia does a nice job playing Drak Queen Possessed. Add this to the Drinking Game list: take a sip whenever any of our people plays someone other than their character; that's gonna happen a fair bit throughout the series. (But let's not take a drink for all the silent Drak clones in this ep, lest we die of alcohol poisoning.) While we're adding to the Drinking Game list, let's add "take a sip whenever Aeryn... ...wants to die, tries to die, asks someone else to kill her, or variant thereof, and... ...forces Crichton to promise her something outrageous." Ah, the Terrace! Great idea: a transparent 'bubble' outside Moya where we can stand and get amazing views of space. Except, natch, it's ridiculously expensive to shoot there because every shot is a visual effects shot... so don't expect to see a lot more of the Terrace. Aeryn smiles! Good heavens, the Crichton/Aeryn relationship is working so well already. Ben & Claude's chemistry is pure gold. Love Crichton's last line (on the Terrace, eyeing the view) that "there are worse ways to end a day." Cheryl & I quoted that line quite a bit while sipping excellent Australian wine and watching gorgeous sunsets from the balcony of our Sydney apartment. (Thank you, Farscape.)

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e02

[caption id="attachment_9221" align="alignleft" width="300"]Moya lifting off Farscape s1e02: At least Moya looks pretty[/caption]

"I, E.T." (season 1, episode 2)

Written by Sally Lapiduss, directed by Pino Amenta And to forestall a bunch of "what is the 'correct' episode order?" questions: I'm calling this ep 2 because it was production number 10102, so I always thought of it as ep 2. Yes, it actually was filmed "third" (well, in a block with "Throne for a Loss," ep 4), and it originally aired seventh on the Sci-Fi Channel and fourth on BBC2, but still. The fact that neither Sci-FI nor BBC2 actually aired it second might be taken as a hint that it wasn't one of our stronger episodes, so let's see how it holds up in the rewatch... We begin with Crichton doing an eye twitch that's as annoying to us as it is to him, in response to an even more annoying alarm sound that takes waaaaay too long to get shut off. Not the most inviting way to start an ep. Last ep, we had D'Argo saying "damn," and in this ep, we've got Crichton saying "What the hezmana is it?" Feels a bit early for Crichton to be echoing the local profanity... I don't know why D'Argo has to look in the Niche Where the Beacon Lives, and then Aeryn has to take a look, and then Crichton has to take a look. And now Aeryn says "I'm new to all this escaped prisoner crap." Everybody, get your swear words sorted out! Moya lands in a bog. Good golly, our CGI was fantastic. Still looks amazing. Props to the terrific artists of Garner MacLennan Design for their superlative work. If there's a drinking game for season one, we should down a shot any time somebody asks "How's Moya?" Aaaaand now we're on the planet surface looking at -- guys apparently wearing baseball caps and holding rifles. Cheryl enquires if Moya has accidentally travelled to Earth and landed in Louisiana. This is a charming little scene between Zhaan and Pilot, but it has zilch to do with the story. Must be one of our infamous season one "Euro scenes." Sci Fi wanted 43-minute episodes, but BBC2, having no commercial breaks, wanted 50-minute episodes. Those aren't the exact numbers -- networks specify delivery lengths to the second -- but close enough. So we needed to add about seven minutes to each ep for the BBC2 version... and yet our budget was already strained to the limit producing 43-minute episodes. What to do? Solution: write two or three rather lengthy talk scenes between two characters that could be easily shot and dropped into the BBC2 version to get it up to 50 minutes. We dubbed those extra yakfests "Euro scenes" in-house. (Thankfully, from season 2 on, BBC2 relented and allowed us to give them the same length eps as we gave Sci Fi, so the Euro scenes were solely a season 1 phenomenon.) For me, the Euro scenes in this ep stand out even more than usual because the rest of the ep is, let's face it, kinda talky already. Sometimes a Euro scene could be a nice breather from the mad action and weird goings-on of an ep, but... this time, not so much. Don't Get Me Started on the logic of how Translator Microbes work... yet in this ep, I was bugged then and am bugged now by the fact that the inhabitants of this planet, who've never left their planet, can nevertheless understand Crichton as if they all had Translator Microbes installed regardless. (Or that Lyneea, a scientist who's looking for extraterrestrial life, doesn't even seem to wonder why it is that she can talk to this 'alien' being...) It's not that this is a bad episode; it just doesn't much feel like Farscape to me. Though it's a cool idea to turn the tables on Crichton and make him the 'alien' outsider, this ep feels like it could very easily be rewritten to be a Star Trek ep or a Stargate ep or a you-name-it ep. And ep 2 feels way too soon to go to an Earthlike (much too Earthlike, if you ask me) planet. We saw the Premiere; we're on board for ALIENS! CREATURES! LIVING SHIPS! WEIRD CULTURES! SPACE BATTLES! And in our very next ep, we get guys in hats, driving cars and toting rifles. Not surprising that Sci Fi and BBC2 shuffled the airing order a bit... Ah, and now Rygel takes a big bite out of Aeryn's arm and then swallows the chunk of flesh he bit off. Now that, for better or worse, is Farscape! But then we're back on Planet Bog and D'Argo, our fierce Luxan warrior, has somehow let himself get captured by a bunch of Guys With Rifles, despite his superior weaponry, soldier's training, and his Stun Tongue. Yeesh. Poor D'Argo's 0 for 2 on fights in just two eps. Crichton suggests that (alien kid) Fostro shake hands with (alien) D'Argo. Cheryl, watching, suggests the kid probably wouldn't know what "shaking hands" was even all about, and points out that shaking hands isn't even a universal custom among humans on Earth. And off Moya goes, looking gorgeous. As Bogart once said to Bergman, "We'll always have CGI."  

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e01

[caption id="attachment_9208" align="alignright" width="300"]Ben Browder in Mambo shirt Farscape s1e01: Florida Man in Australian Shirt[/caption] It's 19 March, aka “Farscape Day”, and that strikes me as the perfect time to (finally) crack open the Blu-Rays and rewatch the series from the start... something I haven't done in, well, ever. I probably haven't watched most of these eps since they first aired, so this should be... interesting. (Well, interesting to me, anyway.) Gonna post some random reactions and thoughts for each. Nothing thorough, nothing of Deep Import, just some musings upon re-viewing something I worked on a Long Time Ago. My current wife Cheryl will be at my side for extra added snark, at least for ep 1. Off we go!

Premiere” (season 1, episode 1)

Written by Rockne S. O'Bannon, directed by Andrew Prowse And in our Very First Shot of the series, here's Ben wearing a Mambo Loud Shirt, an Australian brand that became the unofficial Official Shirt of the series. Most of us Yanks who had the privilege of working in Sydney got hooked on these shirts, but I think I claimed the record by buying somewhere around forty. (And I'm still wearing them, much to the puzzlement of my UCLA Extension students.) IASA, the International version of NASA. If I correctly recall, the show was trying to get permission from NASA to use the name/logo, but time ran out before it did (or didn't) happen, so IASA it was. (Which kinda bumps with a much later episode “Terra Firma” where the “IASA” folks are trying to keep all the alien tech that Crichton brings back to Earth for the U.S.A. only...) Oh, Lord, that darned “space” helmet. Made me wince then, makes me wince now. “Uh... Canaveral?” I'm going to be praising Ben's brilliant work A LOT, but never quite enough. I just love the way he throws that line away... Wow, I forgot that the first ep doesn't have Crichton's voiceover on the main title. Makes sense that it's not there, but it's weird not hearing it. (The first ep of the original Star Trek series didn't have Kirk's “boldly go” voiceover either.) No episode title either. We didn't start putting the episode title onscreen until season 2, if I recall right. Props to Rockne for titling ep 1 “Premiere” instead of the usual “Pilot.” Maybe it's because we had a character named Pilot? Folks might've thought it was all about him. Nice that Rockne's writing credit falls on a shot of Crichton saying “Oh my God.” One-Eyed DRD! First little yellow Roomba to make an appearance. Typical Rockne to give even a little skittering robot a distinguishing feature and a personality. Good heavens, Moya looks gorgeous, as does the Peacekeeper Command Carrier. Kudos to Ricky Eyres and his amazing designs. Seeing it after all this time, I marvel anew at just how astounding and alien both D'Argo and Zhaan look... and how wonderfully Anth and Virg brought the characters to life. And Farscape's fondness for bodily fluids manifests itself right from ep 1 as Rygel spits on Crichton. D'Argo says “This damned Leviathan has no idea where we are.” Whoops. One of the few instances of alien swearing that the Translator Microbes actually translated into English. (Hey. There's at least one time that Data used contractions in Star Trek: The Next Generation. These things happen.) Andrew does a lovely job of teasing each alien's first appearance; we and Crichton at first see Zhaan and D'Argo from the back, so we save the Full Alien Reveal for when they turn around. And here's Aeryn! Another nice reveal. Andrew loves to dolly the camera while shooting through foreground stuff. It's only Act Two and we're into helium farts. Yup, the series took a little while to settle down and find its best groove, but SO MUCH was right there in the first ep. Aeryn Has Attitude. I'm going to be praising Claudia's brilliant work A LOT . . . Ah, Rygel and the Proprietor. Every time I watch this scene, I give extra thanks to the late Jonathan Hardy, the amazing Voice of Rygel, because... well, I already told that story here. And D'Argo loses his first fight. That's gonna become a recurring theme, alas. Erp! Here's D'Argo's first vow. Sure had a lot of those. “Little yellow bolts of light” still gets a laugh out of me and Cheryl. Hmm, Crais is pronouncing Aeryn's surname as “son” rather than “soon” in this ep. Crichton fixing the DRD... ah, That's So Rockne. Lovely little character moment that quietly says a lot about our hero and his situation. The end! Wow. Gotta say, that's a pretty amazing pilot, and I think it holds up remarkably well after almost two frelling DECADES... One down, 87 to go...

Ricky Talks About… Fountain Pens!

Write Gear logo"Speculative fiction author and bad influence" (her self-description) K. Tempest Bradford hosts a podcast entitled The Write Gear in which she examines and chats about "all the gear, gadgets, writing implements, paper, and other tools writers use to get the job done." Everything from laptops to backup systems to distraction-blockers and more. Tempest's latest installment is something called "Episode 9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens – A Conversation with Richard Manning" in which she and I yak about "which TV star inspired him to buy his first fancy fountain pen, which pens are his current favorites, and where you can find all the info you need to get started with fountain pen nerditry." Have a listen!

“Liz Tells Frank” Gets a Foreword by Me

[caption id="attachment_1424" align="alignleft" width="187"]"Liz Tells Frank . . ." cover Click to embiggen.[/caption] For eight years on her blog, Liz Shannon Miller has been telling her friend Frank about TV series, movies, and books that he's missed, helping him catch up on the good stuff and avoid the less-good stuff. Two ebook collections of this noble work have already amused and thrilled countless readers around the globe. I was amused and thrilled myself when Liz approached me to write a foreword to her third "Liz Tells Frank" compilation, though I couldn't fathom why she chose me. (Perhaps because the book includes Andreanna Ditton's "Skip It/Watch It Guide" to Farscape, and writing a foreword would give me an opportunity for pre-rebuttal?) In any case, I leapt at the opportunity, and the result follows. Enjoy the foreword, and then go buy the ebook of Liz Tells Frank: The Skip It/Watch It Guides on Amazon! FOREWORD, by Richard Manning ((I write for television. I never get to use footnotes in scripts. I like footnotes. You've been warned.)) Tens of years ago, when typewriters ((Devices comprising a keyboard and printer but lacking CPU or storage; pressing a key imprinted a character directly onto a sheet of paper.)) still walked the earth and “personal computers” were clunky, cantankerous contraptions that could only beep annoyingly and display glowing pus-green text, when television was still in its infancy—well, okay, out of its infancy but still wetting the bed and refusing to eat its vegetables, when there were no InterNets and people had to walk miles in the snow ((Uphill both ways, naturally.)) to newsstands ((Retail outlets where one could purchase printed “newspapers” (daily or weekly compilations of advertising, comic strips, classified advertising, editorials, horoscopes, advertising supplements, and occasionally news) or “magazines” (weekly or monthly volumes of glossy advertising, fashion photos, gossip, or porn).)) to acquire their porn, the concept of “fandom” was all but unknown to We Who Work in Television. In those innocent yet rococo times, when “cutting a film” meant exactly that—chopping up and pasting together long strips of perforated celluloid, when broadcasters still respected their programming enough not to deface it ((The truly important portions of their programming, of course, remain pristine and untouched to this day; it's only the trivia in between the commercials that gets defaced.)) with logos and animated promos, and when the Great Viewing Public was only dimly aware that creatures such as “television writers” actually existed, WWWiT labored in a vacuum. ((Not literally, of course, because we'd've died, but there's a decent analogy rattling around in there somewhere about the lack of sound in a vacuum.)) Back then, the Creators and the Consumers ((Or, as I like to describe them, the “pushers” and the “junkies.”)) were twains that never met. ((Probably because they were on non-intersecting twacks. I agree that's awful, but the only other metaphor I could come up with was something like “shippers that pass in the night,” which seemed both too esoteric and not apt enough.)) WWWiT would conceive our ideas, birth our teleplays, nurture our episodes, and set them free ((Were this an audiobook, I would likely be singing “Born Free” at this point. Count your blessings.)) into the ether, to be met with a resounding silence. ((“Resounding silence” is a goofy phrase when you think about it, kinda like “a blinding darkness,” but folks keep using it, so who am I to defy the zeitgeist?)) No applause. No boos. No thoughtful exegeses. ((Nor even thoughtless exegeses.)) No floral bouquets nor shrieking groupies. In short, no feedback whatever. Sure, critics would review the pilot and perhaps a subsequent season opener or two, but beyond that? The audience may have been listening, ((As proclaimed by THX™.)) but its speech, if any, rarely reached the ears of WWWiT. However, when the mighty transcontinental series of tubes was completed ((The final connection, of course, took place at Promontory Summit, Utah and was commemorated with a Golden Power Spike. (This joke isn't quite as labored as it might seem; go look up “Golden Spike” and read about the U.S.'s first nationwide media event.)) and the World's Widest Web lurched to life, feedback sprouted everywhere. ((Like mushrooms... some edible, some poisonous. Now there's a nice metaphor. I could do something with that.)) We could now peruse countless discussion boards and discover that viewers had caught the obscure Monty Python reference we'd slipped into an episode... or that they'd mercilessly nailed us on some dubious plot logic we'd thought would pass unnoticed. We could lurk in chatrooms as our episodes aired and revel in real-time gasps and screams when characters kissed and/or killed each other. Some of us rebelled, not wanting feedback that was anything less than absolute worship. Some of us didn't react well, scolding our newly-voiced critics with accusations of “[writing] crap from behind the safety of anonymity” ((JMS v. Cronan, 1998. When they build the Fandom Hall of Fame, my first nomination will be Cronan Maliki Jamel Thompson... and my second will be Emily Salzfass who, like Cronan, left us far too soon.)) or “interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.” ((Rice v. Negative Voices on Amazon, 2004. Yes, it's from the world of literature, not television, but it's too delicious to leave out.)) However, most ((Well, many. Quite a few. Lots. Several. A not insignificant number. Well, me, anyway.)) of WWWiT ((Yes, I know, in this context it should be UWWiT.)) were (and still are) utterly delighted to sample the sprawling internet buffet of reaction and criticism. Some of it's tasty; some of it may be hard to swallow; ((But good for us anyway, like broccoli.)) all of it (yes, even the short and pointed reactions such as “YOU'RE SHOW SUCKZ”) is appreciated. We made something; you took the time to watch; you liked it or you didn't, and you made the effort to say why. Which, at long last, brings me to the motley and prolific Liz Shannon Miller, who's been serving up her own breezy brand of commentary since 2005. ((Good lord, that's a long time. As the Bible sort of says, “Greater love hath no fan than this, than a fan lay down and scan endless sludge so her readers don't have to.”)) Liz's critiques are packed with humor, taste, intelligence, plus a genuine love for the media she surveys—and the results are not only glorious to behold but also a hell of a lot of fun to read. So sit back, relax, ((Or stand up and be tense, if that's how you prefer to read.)) and enjoy Liz's third compilation of The Best of “Liz Tells Frank,” ((Okay, honestly, I don't know if it's really “The Best Of.” It might just be “Whatever Stuff She's Churned Out Since Volume 2.” You be the judge. (And then blog about it! “[Your Name Here] Tells [Some Other Name Here] About 'Liz Tells Frank!'”) )) as she and her outstanding sisters-in-snark Whitney Bishop and Andreanna Ditton ((Apparently they get to cover the stuff even Liz won't touch, like that weird frelling Fire Escape show.)) interrogate the text from the right perspective and separate the soaring eagles from the plummeting turkeys. ((Yes, this is a reference to “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”—one of the finest punch lines in the history of television.)) If this book saves you from wasting that hour on that “Very Special Episode” that isn't so special after all, ((Or prompts you at long last to go try out that book/series/movie/videogame you've never seen—and fall madly in love with it.)) the tireless labors of its valiant authors will have borne fruit, ((Were this an audiobook, I would definitely be singing “Borne Fruit” at this point, to the tune of “Born Free.” You are SO lucky.)) and I hope you'll join me in rewarding them with a hearty chorus of “YOU'RE BOOK ROCKZ!!!!1!”

The Elements of Television

[caption id="attachment_815" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Element Froonium. Click for details."]Element Froonium[/caption] I was channel-surfing with my obnoxiously precocious six-year-old niece Gabby (her full name is Gabrielle Callisto Aphrodite Zimbelman; she was conceived at a Xena convention) when we stumbled upon a rerun of Blaster Patrol. “My favorite show! Did you write this one, Uncle Ricky?” “No, Gabby, I never worked on Blaster Patrol, more's the pity.” On the tube, Sam and Janet, the series leads, were being chased by evil alien Greebs and were simultaneously firing blasters and exchanging witty yet affectionate banter. “Sigh,” Gabby sighed, “they're soooooooo in love. Are they married?” “Sam and Janet? No, they never got married, even though, much to everyone's amazement, the show ran for six seasons...” “Not the characters, silly. The actors.” “Oh. Yeah, she's married. Third or fourth time; I can't keep track. Him, he'll never get married unless the father of the bride owns a shotgun.” Gabby couldn't fathom it. “But... they love each other... don't they?” “You kidding? When the camera's not rolling, they can't stand one another.” I omitted mentioning that she thought he was a lecherous drunk who couldn't remember his lines, and he thought she was a ruthless, upstaging diva who despised television in general and sci-fi in particular. Gabby's lower lip quivered. She indicated Sam and Janet, who were celebrating their escape from the Greebs with much kissing and fondling. “Look at them. You're wrong.” “Honey, it's all make-believe. They're actors. They're faking it.” Her Bambi eyes clouded with doubt—but as Sam and Janet exchanged perfect loving gazes, her conviction returned. “Nuh-uh. Nobody could fake that.” And there, I reflected, was the biggest reason why that otherwise unmemorable show had run for six years. Separately, the actors playing Sam and Janet had been no more than competent—but together, they had the most elusive and valuable commodity in show business: chemistry.

When the Cast Clicks...

It's never easy to cast a TV series. Acting talent alone is no guarantee of chemistry. (But it does increase the odds. Just as luck favors the prepared, chemistry favors the talented.) As we narrow our casting choices, we also begin auditioning them in pairs, mixing and matching to see who “clicks” with whom. On Farscape, for example, Ben Browder and Claudia Black “clicked” immediately. And even though Claudia didn't exactly match the image of the “Aeryn Sun” character that Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper had in their minds, it didn't matter. Rock and DK knew a good thing when they saw it, and Claudia promptly won the role of Aeryn. Once we find chemistry, we fight to preserve it. The applicable showbiz buzzword is “UST”—Unresolved Sexual Tension—as in, “We don't dare let Castle and Beckett sleep together; it'll ruin that wonderful UST.” It's an article of faith among many in television that one should never take the “U” out of UST; proponents of that doctrine point to both Moonlighting and Cheers as two classic examples of how series risk losing their spark once the main characters finally “do the deed.” But the greater the UST, the harder the writers have to work to keep the characters apart—and the longer it drags out, the more artificial it feels. It's a tough call: when do we let them get together? Episode 10? 50? 100? Never? How long before the audience gets bored with the seemingly endless tease and wanders off? Of course, resolving the sexual tension doesn't have to settle the characters into a calm, uninteresting relationship. Nonetheless, one of TV's guiding principles is “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”—and when UST's nicely cooking along, who wants to risk it by tampering with it?

Compound Interest

We've been speaking of chemistry in its commonest definition: a romantic and/or sexual attraction between two characters that's palpable, believable, and fun to watch. But that definition's far too narrow. Other forms of chemistry—between friends, enemies, colleagues, and family—are equally important. Once again, you know it when you see it. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on the original Star Trek series had terrific chemistry of a completely non-romantic, non-sexual sort (and please do not send me any fanfic to the contrary). Even in Classic Trek's worst episodes, the interplay between those three characters—indeed, any two of them—was always worth watching. In fact, stop and think for a moment: how often have you sat through a bad-to-mediocre episode of a favorite series for no other reason than to watch the characters interact? How many times have you said (or heard) something like “Last week's episode was awful, but you have to catch it anyway—just for that one great scene between X and Y.” This is music to a TV producer's ears; we know we can't hit a home run with each and every episode, so we hope and pray that the audience's love for the characters will keep them from tuning out during our inevitable clunkers. And preservation of chemistry also applies to an ensemble cast. Once a series is comfortably underway and the characters are meshing well, making changes can be tricky. Adding a regular character always shakes things up—but will it be in a good way or a bad way?

New Girl

On Farscape, when we introduced the character of Chiana (in the episode “Durka Returns”), we quite deliberately hedged our bet. At the end of the episode, Chiana took an enemy bullet that easily could've proved fatal. And the keen-eyed viewer will also note that Chiana only appears in a very few scenes of the following episode, “A Human Reaction”—again by design, so that it would have been easy to write her out of it entirely if she hadn't survived that pulse blast. We didn't give ourselves the out because we were afraid Gigi Edgley couldn't act; we knew darn well she could. What we didn't know is how well the character of Chiana would work with Crichton, Aeryn, D'Argo, Zhaan, Rygel, and Pilot. But after a few days' dailies, it was clear that Chiana was a “keeper”—even though we were fully aware that the fans were going to hate her. Why? Because fans always hate new arrivals at first. That's understandable; over time, they've bonded with a particular “family” of characters, and the new kid on the block is seen as a stranger, an intruder, even a threat. (“Those stupid producers better not even be thinking about making her a new love interest for Crichton...”) But after a few episodes, if the chemistry's right, the audience will grow to like and accept the new character as part of the family. (And when the next new character arrives, the cycle begins anew. “Who's this Jool person? They'd better not be bringing her in to take Chiana's place...”)

Equal and Opposite Reactions

Even villains need chemistry. The charismatic “villain you love to hate” is a television staple. Great heroes need equally great villains; it's the worthiness of the foe that brings out the best efforts of the hero. That was an early problem with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Klingons were now our allies and the Romulans were being given a rest so the fledgling series could differentiate itself from Classic Trek. A new alien race of bad guys was needed—and the Ferengi were created. Trouble was, the Ferengi didn't come off as formidable villains, but as annoying leprechauns-gone-bad; you wanted to swat them, not shoot them. It didn't take long for the Ferengi to be stripped of their warships and relegated to comic relief. (In contrast, the character of “Q” came back again and again to butt heads with Captain Picard because John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart had—you guessed it—chemistry.) The quest for chemistry extends behind the scenes as well. Every good writing staff has its own peculiar chemistry, usually manifested in wildly disparate personalities who can yell and scream at each other all day long about trivial story points—and then all go out for beer afterward. Finding the right mix of people is vital for every department, because when creative people “click,” the whole becomes much greater than the sum of the parts. One might even say that TV producers are essentially chemists... that our main function is to assemble different elements into new, valuable compounds. But in truth, chemistry isn't the right word. Chemistry's a science. Television isn't; it has no infallible formulas, no hard-and-fast rules, no way to know in advance who'll click on screen and who'll clunk. We aren't chemists, we're alchemists—blindly casting spells and trying to transmute base metals into gold. When it works—when the characters come to life and light up the screen—it's not science at all. It's magic.

BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION

[caption id="attachment_381" align="alignright" width="332" caption="Actual whiteboard from FARSCAPE "Season of Death""]An actual whiteboard from an actual TV series.[/caption]

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And so it begins...

9:00 am Tuesday. A punctual Mary Sue happily looks around her first Writers' Room. Cheap, mismatched “executive” chairs surround a coffee-stained table strewn with old magazines, food wrappers, a Slinky, Baltimore, Maryland. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a broken water pistol, various Rubik's-type puzzles, and other toys. Austin, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, The walls are a crazy quilt of actors' headshots, set blueprints, costume design sketches, test photos of alien prosthetics... and three large whiteboards, Detroit, Michigan, San Jose, California.

Two are covered with multicolored scrawls, circles, arrows, renumbering, and crossouts – the story beats for Episodes 5 and 6, in impenetrable shorthand: “5, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. BRIDGE: G + A expo. K ng 10 min no Froonium. H/L payoff. Buy cheap Coreg no rx, AB: J zapped.” The third is frighteningly blank – a naked canvas awaiting a plot. It continues to await until:

9:40 am. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Two writer/producers saunter in: Madman Moe, a cheerful, inexhaustible fount of wild ideas, and Cyndi Cynic, a jaded naysayer who's great at untangling plot logic. They get coffee and make phone calls until:

10:15 am. Sam Showrunner dashes in. “Sorry. Problem on the set.” To Sam's surprise, Mary Sue proudly hands him a fifteen-page outline, Coreg 500mg. “Wow. Lot of work here, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Good for you.” He glances at the first page, tosses it aside forever, Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee. Portland, Oregon, and hands her a marker. “It's your story; you do the honors. Ready. Teaser's easy. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Fly through nebula, ship sparks, life support screws up. Act One –”

Sam stops, Coreg 5mg. Mary Sue's still neatly printing “TEASER” on the whiteboard. “Just put a 'T',” Cyndi suggests. San Diego, California. Dallas, Texas. San Antonio, Texas, “Then put 'Nebula, sparks, life support NG.”

“Act One, Beat One,” Sam continues, 400mg, 450mg. “Ramon runs diagnostics, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Technobabble. Thinks he's found the problem. Fixes it. Coreg snort, alcohol iteraction, All seems okay. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Beat Two. Spooky stuff begins. Suspense. Scary noises. Like a horror movie, purchase Coreg online. So.., BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. hmm... Maybe Trixie's below decks. Alone. Rx free Coreg, What's she doing?”

“Taking a shower,” Moe offers. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, “With Angela. And suddenly the lights flicker and the water turns cold.”

“That's good.” Sam turns to an aghast Mary Sue. “Put that up. T and A, Indianapolis, Indiana, San Francisco, California, shower, lights.”

“Can't do that,” says Cyndi, Where can i order Coreg without prescription, to Mary Sue's relief. “I've got Trixie showering with Ramon in ep 5.”

Moe's unfazed. “So make it the sauna.”

“What sauna?”

Sam likes it, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “The Cargo Bay, redressed and smoked up. That sauna.”

Cyndi considers, buy no prescription Coreg online. “We could do different color smoke because K'Vax is pumping in poisonous coolant gas or something.”

Sam's enthused. “Great. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, We're rolling now. We'll be done by six, Kjøpe Coreg online, bestill Coreg online, easy.”

6:45 pm. Act One has seven beats on the board, Act Two has five, Three and Four are still blank, and nobody likes any of it. “It's flat, order Coreg online c.o.d,” says Sam. “Bland and boring.”

“Excuse me,” quavers Mary Sue. Order Coreg no prescription, “But I, um... have a thought...”

“Jump right in,” says Sam, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “It's your story.”

“Well... maybe Beat Two should be a character scene with Griff and Angela... because we need to set up their unexpressed feelings for each other...”

All stare at her, buy Coreg no prescription. “We do. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Why?”

“Um... because later, when they mind-link with K'Vax, Boston, Massachusetts. Charlotte, Carolina, they confront their feelings and realize –”

“In episode seven?” Sam's incredulous. “Not a chance. Besides, this story's already way too soft. We need conflict, online buying Coreg. Drama is conflict.”

Mary Sue's getting crabby, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “Well, what I pitched had lots of conflict. Internal conflict.”

“This is TV, San Diego, California. Dallas, Texas. San Antonio, Texas, not some romance novel. I want external conflict. Action. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Danger.”

Mary Sue snaps. “Well, if K'Vax turning evil isn't enough danger, japan, craiglist, ebay, hcl, why don't we just throw in some nasty aliens with guns?”

Silence.

“She's nailed it,” says Cyndi. Buy no prescription Coreg online, “Problem is, we're missing a villain.”

Moe concurs. “Evil K'Vax is great, but our heroes have to cure her, not kill her, which means they don't get to defeat a bad guy.”

Sam nods. “But if a Gavork spy sneaks on board and brainwashes K'Vax, now we've got two problems – and somebody to fight in Act Four.” He slaps the table, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “That's it. Solved. Okay, everybody go home and think about it and we'll finish this tomorrow. Nine o'clock sharp.”

It'll take four more days of this to break Mary Sue's story. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Ultimately, Ramon, not Angela, will join Trixie in the sauna, to follow up on their shower scene in ep 5. Oh, and the mind-link with K'Vax will indeed force Griff and Angela to confront their feelings for each other – but once the mind-link's over, they'll forget it ever happened.

Mary Sue will grudgingly concede it's a cleaner, punchier story than the meandering fifteen pages she came up with on her own.

And then she'll have two short weeks to turn it into a script that makes it all work... but that's another tale.

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[caption id="attachment_359" align="alignright" width="180"] BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Case in point. Froonium isn't proto-nuclear. Case in point. Froonium isn't proto-nuclear.[/caption]

Science quiz! Which of these is the least scientifically plausible.


  1. An alien species can project heat rays that can fry humans dead... or serve as a powerful truth serum.

  2. A society has developed a liquid “litmus test”: just dab a drop on your lips and kiss someone, Invega for sale. If the kiss tastes sweet, your DNA is compatible for having healthy children.

  3. They've also got technology that can turn people into metallic statues.., BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. and back again. While you're a statue, you remain fully conscious, Invega 500mg, you can see and hear just fine, and you don't age. If your statue's head is lasered off, it can be reattached with no ill effects.

  4. A human wearing no protective gear jumps out of a spaceship in orbit, spends a minute in vacuum.., Austin, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee. and survives.


If you answered #4, you're not alone... BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, but you're incorrect. All the above are from Farscape's “Look at the Princess” trilogy of episodes, 0.4mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 2.5mg, to which a lot of viewers reacted “No way. That just couldn't happen!” And they weren't talking about #1 or #2 or #3... few even blinked at those. No, it was #4 that got people flustered, buy Invega without prescription.

(Well, okay, some of our fans were far more perturbed that our hero had sex with someone other than our heroine.., BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. but that's a different discussion entirely.)

Everybody “knows” you can't survive in outer space. But as it happens, #4 was one time – possibly the only time – that Farscape got its science more or less right. Where can i find Invega online, Humans exposed to vacuum do not promptly blow up like balloons and explode. Their eyeballs don't pop, their blood doesn't boil, nor do they instantly freeze solid. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, In fact, according to NASA, if you don't try to hold your breath, half a minute or so of vacuum exposure won't damage you permanently.

(EDITED TO ADDSlate's "Bad Astronomy" blogger Phil Plait also covered this topic.., Invega withdrawal. and check out these amazing drawings by Nathan Hoste of what doesn't happen to "Bodies in Space"!)

So why could viewers accept “truth rays” and living statues and DNA kiss tests, but not a suitless space walk. Because what's true is rarely what's believable. Comprar en línea Invega, comprar Invega baratos,

Mirror, Mirror


It's often said that “art holds up a mirror to life.” Well, if it's a mirror, it's a distorted funhouse mirror, designed not for accurate reflections but for caricature, Invega samples, exaggeration, and analogy. And one big difference between art and life is that art has to make sense, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION.

In a way, El Paso, Texas. Washington, D.C. Seattle, Washington, art has to be “more realistic” than real life. To borrow William Goldman's example (from his book Adventures in the Screen Trade): Let's say you're writing a story in which Nick, your square-jawed hero, must have a private talk with the Queen of England, and the only way Nick can do that is to sneak into Buckingham Palace at night and find the Queen alone, kjøpe Invega online, bestill Invega online. How would you plot it.


  1. Nick, in a high-tech radar-invisible ninja suit, Where can i buy cheapest Invega online, hang-glides onto the palace roof undetected, then silently renders the guards unconscious with tranquilizer darts or karate chops. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Nick must then circumvent a corridor crisscrossed with laser beams by crawling on the ceiling like Spider-Man or by contorting his body through the gaps or by diverting the beams with mirrors... etc.

  2. Nick follows Sir Smedley, a member of the royal staff, to his local pub, buy cheap Invega. Nick picks Smedley's pocket for his security pass, dons a latex face mask to disguise himself as Smedley, and... Invega 150mg, etc.

  3. Nick assembles a crack team. The Teenage Hacker disables the security system. The Hot Blonde puts the moves on the palace's security chief to distract him, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. The Crazy Demolitions Expert blasts a tunnel into the palace basement so Nick can... etc.

  4. Nick, in jeans and dirty T-shirt, order Invega from mexican pharmacy, climbs over the barbed-wired outer walls, strolls around the palace, and enters through an open window. Chicago, Illinois. Houston, Texas, But the inner door's locked, so he goes back out and keeps walking. This triggers two alarms – but Security assumes they're both malfunctions and does nothing. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Nick climbs a drainpipe, cuts through an empty office, and wanders the palace halls. There's a man posted outside the Queen's bedroom... but at the moment, order Invega online c.o.d, he's off walking the Queen's dogs, so Nick walks right in. The Queen awakes and tries to summon the palace police with her bedside phone. Baltimore, Maryland. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The operator passes on the message, but the police don't respond. Nick chats with the Queen for ten minutes before a chambermaid enters, sees Nick, and summons help...


I highly doubt you'd choose #4 for fear your readers would pelt you with fruit, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Who'd believe it. Yet #4 is exactly what happened on July 9, 1982, Invega over the counter, when 31-year-old Michael Fagan walked unchallenged into the bedroom of Queen Elizabeth II.

That's Incredible


Storytelling demands credibility, not truth. Invega from canadian pharmacy, We don't expect fiction to be true; we accept that it takes place in “parallel universes” (hey, kind of like Sliders)... BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, worlds that resemble our own, but aren't. In so-called “mainstream” fiction, the parallel universe often isn't all that different from ours... the only changes from “our” Earth might be the specific characters and events the author's invented, 400mg, 450mg.

In science fiction, however, some of the universe's underlying rules get changed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Phoenix, Arizona, It's arguably a defining characteristic of science fiction that it deals with “what would happen if” the rules were different. What if we could travel faster than light and encounter alien lifeforms, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. What if we could journey into the past or turn invisible or communicate telepathically.

If we change too many of the rules too drastically, we leave science fiction and enter the realm of fantasy. What if magic worked, Invega 75mg. What if dragons or sorcerers or faeries or unicorns existed. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Or, for that matter, Hobbits. Nobody mistook the Lord of the Rings films for documentaries, but they cleaned up at the box office. Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee. Portland, Oregon, Tolkien's world wasn't “true”... but it was, for storytelling purposes, believable. It felt real, buy Invega without a prescription.

What makes even a magical fantasy universe believable, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Part of the answer is logical consistency. It's usually not the altered rules we have difficulty buying; it's the exceptions to those rules.

As example, Order Invega no prescription, I'll make up a story about Superman. We already know the rules of the Superman universe, right. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, He's a nearly invulnerable alien being, but the radiation of a substance called Kryptonite is deadly to him. Well, in my story, buy Invega online no prescription, Superman chases a bad guy who pulls out a huge chunk of Kryptonite. But the Kryptonite has no effect whatever, so Superman jails the bad guy. Buy generic Invega, The end.

You're shouting at me, aren't you. “Whaddya mean, the end, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Why didn't the Kryptonite work. You have to explain that!” And you're absolutely right, purchase Invega online. If I expect you to like my Superman story, I do need to explain... not the rules, Australia, uk, us, usa, but the exception. BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Moreover, the explanation should feel consistent with the universe, and not just something I pulled out of my, uh, hat to get out of a jam. “Well, it's also been established that lead blocks Kryptonite's harmful rays, so I'll simply explain that Supes covered himself with a lead-based 'sunscreen'... and then in my next story, when I need Kryptonite to be deadly again, I'll explain that the villain's now using hyper-enhanced, Froonium-enriched Kryptonite that can penetrate Superman's sunscreen...” (And I'll bet you'll have tuned me out by then.)

Of course, one viewer's handwave (“It doesn't quite make sense, but I'll let it pass”) is another viewer's fanwank (“no, it works fine if you just assume facts X and Y and Z which the writers didn't bother to tell us”)... and yet another's “Teenage vampires. Jeez, can't we watch something real, like wrestling?” We all have different thresholds of disbelief-suspension, often depending how much we do know about the “real” rules. Cops, for instance, find CSI hilarious, BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Doctors guffaw at House and ER. And defense lawyers still explain how courtrooms actually work to prospective jurors, because too many of them expect the defense to not only prove the defendant's innocence but also to expose the actual guilty party like Perry Mason always did.

For this is a danger of fiction: that people get so familiar with its altered rules and dramatic conventions that they mistake them for truth. If you thought a human would instantly explode/freeze/perish in vacuum, it's probably because you've seen it happen that way in far too many movies and tv shows. (An exception for 2001: A Space Odyssey BUY Invega ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, ; they got the man-in-vacuum scene right.)

Drama can be entertaining, uplifting, cathartic, and inspiring. But educational. Put it this way: anything you “learn” from fiction demands a second opinion. Don't get your daily fruit and fiber from jelly doughnuts... don't take financial-planning advice from lottery commercials... and don't get your science from science fiction. As the liquor advertisements always say: “Please enjoy our product responsibly.”.

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[caption id="attachment_245" align="alignright" width="210" caption="Singing the praises of genre TV: The author (left) harmonizes with a Scarran named Wolesh (right)."]Ricky + Wolesh[/caption]

“Genre” television BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, — science fiction, fantasy, and other so-called “non-mainstream” shows — is expensive, tough to produce, and tougher to produce well.

The occasional breakout hit notwithstanding, Anti Flu Face Mask 75mg, it's also a niche product, constantly struggling to corral enough viewers to survive. And it's next to invisible at the Emmys or BAFTAs, Anti Flu Face Mask 800mg, 875mg, 900mg.

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It's fun. BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Now it's true that by the ninth week of production, we bleary-eyed producers will be swearing that the next series we work on will be Forty-Four Minutes of Two Actors Sitting Around Talking. Anti Flu Face Mask withdrawal, No aliens, no spaceships, no CGI, köpa Anti Flu Face Mask online, Osta Anti Flu Face Mask online, Jotta Anti Flu Face Mask verkossa, no prosthetics, Anti Flu Face Mask from canadian pharmacy, no pyrotechnics, no animatronics, no weird costumes, buy cheap Anti Flu Face Mask, sets, Comprar en línea Anti Flu Face Mask, comprar Anti Flu Face Mask baratos, makeup, or props . , buy Anti Flu Face Mask from canada. . Where can i buy cheapest Anti Flu Face Mask online, no weird anything.

Don't you believe it. We'd be bored out of our skulls in two acts flat, BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION.

You haven't lived until you've spent eight hours in a writers' room with six madmen and madwomen having a violent argument about the logic of time paradoxes.

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Or sat in a screening room during a final sound mix and been blown away by an episode that's finally all put together — with astonishing computer graphics, thundering sound effects, and a stunning musical score.

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  • A planet of primitive aliens mistakes a visiting human for a god — and prepares a human sacrifice.



  • A living spaceship gives birth to a dangerous, weapons-laden offspring with a bad attitude.



  • A person links minds with a wolf — and gets a rush from commanding it to kill.



  • A lost human traveler finally returns to Earth, only to find that: (1) this Earth is just a gigantic alien simulation; (2) he never left and it was merely a weird dream, Anti Flu Face Mask pharmacy, or; (3) Earth's real, Jacksonville, Florida, Columbus, Ohio, but it ain't home no more.


Really, there's not much one can't write in a genre show. A musical, where can i buy Anti Flu Face Mask online. Joss did it on Buffy. A Looney-Tunes-style cartoon, BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Fort Worth, Texas. Denver, Colorado, DK did it on Farscape. Horror movie. Fifties perfect-world sitcom, where can i order Anti Flu Face Mask without prescription. Existential surrealism. BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Cops. Anti Flu Face Mask over the counter, Bug-eyed monsters. Western with ray guns. Been there, online buy Anti Flu Face Mask without a prescription, done those, Buy Anti Flu Face Mask online cod, had a blast.

Oh, I suppose this is where I ought to blather on about speculative fiction speaking to the human condition as no other genre can, purchase Anti Flu Face Mask online no prescription, presenting societal analogies and archetypal myths and bla bla bla.

And, you know, all that term-paper talk is true enough, BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. San Diego, California. Dallas, Texas. San Antonio, Texas, The genre can pack a mean allegorical punch at times. There is actual nutritive value to be found now and again.

But that's part of what makes it fun: the ability to say Darned Near Anything, rx free Anti Flu Face Mask. To poke taboos with a sharp stick. BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, To extrapolate where no television has extrapolated before. To dream the impossible dream — sorry, didn't mean to turn this blog into a musical.

Okay, now that you've decided (correctly) that some (if not all) TV writer/producers are raving lunatics, let's talk about you.

Why do you watch this stuff.

(Assuming you do, of course. And other than the obvious reason that you possess above-average taste and intelligence, of course.)

I mean, folks, you're definitely in the minority, BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Far more people have seen Law & Order or American Idol than have ever seen Smallville or Pushing Daisies.

And watchers of The Office don't get stigmatized as “geeks” or “nerds.” NCIS fans aren't generally advised to get a life. Show up for jury duty in a dress Susan wore on Desperate Housewives, nobody blinks twice. (Well, unless you're male.) But show up in a Starfleet uniform — and it makes it onto CNN.

Granted, some of you are almost as loony as we are. BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, But having met a fair number of you online, in
print, or in person, something else is clear to me:

Compared to the Vast Television Audience, you Genre Fans may be relatively low in number — but you're unbeatably high in passion.

You don't just watch, you participate. You discuss episodes in online chat rooms as you watch them. You create websites, fanfic, and vids. You attend conventions for your favorite shows, long after they're off the air. And you organize sustained, elaborate, and heartfelt campaigns to get your favorite shows back on the air.

Why. Why such intense devotion, BUY Anti Flu Face Mask ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION.

I suspect that you could now blather about Futurism and Optimism and Romanticism and Escapism and Lotsofotherisms . . . but I suspect it would also boil down to this:

Sure, genre television can be challenging and inspiring and mind-expanding and all that, but first and foremost —

It's fun.

And, hey, that's a perfectly good enough answer for me.

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