All posts by Matt Dykes

Matt is a huge film and TV buff who studied film and moving image production at university. In his spare time he enjoys reading comics and books, the occasional gaming session and writing novels.

Pandemic Picks: Patient Zero

So, for today’s Pandemic Pick I’ve decided to go for something a little different. Because we all have a lot more time on our hands it is a good time to binge the latest TV show or get through that list of movies you wanted to watch for a long time. It’s also a good time to pick up a good book and I’m recommending the first entry in one of my favourite series of books. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry.

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Pandemic Picks: Sex Education

For my second Pandemic Pick I’ve chosen to go for something a bit more distracting from the horror of current world events. Sex Education. This series is a mixture of comedy and drama combining elements of teen movie fare like American Pie and giving it an honesty that films of that nature always lacked.

Set in the fictional English town of Moordale the series combines a lot of British and American high school tropes into a strange hybrid which sort of weirdly works. Have no illusions though, my American readers, there are no high schools in the UK that are like Moordale, we don’t have high school swim teams for the most part and our “jocks” don’t wear letterman jackets, very few, if any, high schools in the UK have rows of lockers like in American schools and we don’t have school swimming pools. Even if we did, swimming would probably be the last thing you’d want to do in them. Then again, I’m basing my knowledge of American schools on films and TV series so maybe this trope of a row of lockers in schools is just that, a film/TV trope.

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Pandemic Picks: Jericho

In this time of self imposed quarantine we need something to take our minds off of the awfulness that is occurring in the real world. Not surprisingly viewing habits seem to reflect the real world events, the number of people watching films such as Contagion has skyrocketed. So here is my Pandemic Pick for today which I have just finished binging for what is probably the fiftieth time. Jericho.

I’ll preface this with saying this is going to be a brief unspoilery overview of why it’s a good watch as I plan on doing a more in depth article about the series at some point. I’m keeping this spoiler free because it is a really good show that you should go into without having things spoiled for you if possible.

Jericho is the story of a small town in Kansas trying to survive the after effects of a series of nuclear blasts occurring all over the US which has crippled the country. Not only was the series about survival but it was also had an espionage twist and an aura of mystery surrounding several of the characters. It also has some very chilling images, one of the most iconic from the series was that of a young boy witnessing the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast. This image became heavily used in marketing and is on the cover of the Complete Series DVD Set in the UK.

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Endless Wonder: 10 Years of Warehouse 13

In 2009 the Sci-Fi Channel re-branded itself to SyFy to shift emphasis from harder science fiction series like Battlestar Galactica and the Stargate franchise. Along with the re-branding, a new series began that had a science fiction edge- mixing supernatural elements with comedy and a quirky feel that explored history in an interesting and unique way. This was not time travel (although time travel would feature in the series at one point); it was a modern day set series about agents whose sole mission was to retrieve items that were imbued with powers. These artifacts were things that ranged from the irritating to a world-ending weapon of mass destruction-but even the lesser powered artifacts had downsides to using them.

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The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai – 35th Anniversary

NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE!

In 1984, a film was released that was considered to be a flop at the time. It made very little at the box office, however, the film went on to become a cult classic. The reason for this is: nobody really knows exactly what the film is about. You can speculate; you can say what the story beats are,-you can even think that you know what the deeper meaning of the story is. The truth is- this is a film that is completely unique to everyone who watches it. It’s a film that could easily be dismissed as a cheesy product of the 1980’s. You would be so very wrong in your dismissal though. There is more to this film than it’s cheesiness- which there are moments of- there is no denying that. One of the biggest draws of the film is the fact that it dumps the audience into an existing universe and offers very little information about it up front. It tells the audience ‘this is the world, you’ll catch up.’ Treating the audience with respect, and treating them like the intelligent people that they are, was something that is very rare in film in general. It was especially rare in the early 1980’s.

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Star Trek Picard: What Do We Know?

It’s still a couple of months away, but the hype for Star Trek: Picard is in full swing. At the 2019 Destination Star Trek, I was lucky enough to attend the Patrick Stewart talk and in that he discussed a few things to expect from the new series. For more on my experience at Destination Star Trek see my article here.

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Destination Star Trek: My Experience Going Premium

WAS IT WORTH IT?

Last year, I attended my first Star Trek convention in Birmingham and I had an amazing time. I met the stars who-until then-I had only seen through the glass barrier that we call television. They were all so friendly and at the end of the convention I knew that I was going back, but I had decided that I needed to see what the more premium tickets were like.

Originally, I was considering the Admiral pass which costs a pricey £3,000 (which according to Google is currently worth $3851.02). After some deliberation , a trip to Los Angeles and another one coming next year I decided on the lower priced Captain’s pass which was only £800 ($1026.80). Only £800 he says- but compared to £3,000 it’s a significant reduction. So, was it worth it? What benefits did I get for the premium price? Well luckily for you I can tell you without it costing you £800.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 4

REACHING OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE AND BACK – STARGATE UNIVERSE, STARGATE ORIGINS AND THE LEGACY

With the cancellation of Stargate Atlantis and the announcement that the new series of Stargate would be going after a younger, sexier demographic; Stargate Universe was already on a back foot before a single scene had been shot. The loyal audience of Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis felt ostracized by the producers of Stargate Universe with the announcement. It didn’t help that they also decided to take the series in a darker direction, capitalizing on the success of the recent Battlestar Galactica remake which was getting high critical acclaim. Because they copied the grittier tone of Battlestar Galactica, the sense of humor was almost entirely stripped away from the series- this left the fans feeling like it wasn’t a Stargate series at all. Add to it that most of the characters in the series were seen as bland or downright unlikable, there was this feeling of disassociation from the brand that turned off many Stargate fans away from the series. The series also took too long to find its direction- many of the early episodes felt like their hook was literally just about what resource they needed to replenish this week.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 3

EXPLORING OTHER GALAXIES – STARGATE ATLANTIS

With the success of Stargate SG1 the producers started to think of ideas on how to expand the Stargate universe. They started coming up with several different ideas on how to continue the franchise. The initial idea was that SG1 would end and the spin off would pick up where it left off. The SGC would have relocated to an ancient base under Antarctica and the series would have taken place in our galaxy still. When they realized that there was no way they were going to be able to wait for SG1 to finish because it kept getting renewed, they decided to run both series concurrently and move the Atlantis series to another galaxy.

Moving the series to the Pegasus Galaxy freed the producers and writers up to tell different stories and introduce new and different races and cultures that were not bound by the canon that SG1 had established. It also meant that they needed to establish a new antagonist species to the series. They didn’t want to re-tread old ground on the type of enemy they had for Atlantis– they wanted something different from the Goa’uld. The Wraith were the result. Vampiric in nature, the Wraith feed upon human beings- draining their life energy and absorbing it into themselves. This makes them incredibly resilient to damage and allows them to heal quickly (especially if they have just recently fed). It was decided that the Wraith would have a matriarchal society with Queens being the top of the chain, much like bees. They took a lot from the hierarchy of bees in designing the Wraith.

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Stepping Through the Wormhole: 25 Years of Stargate: Part 2

Re-Opening the Gate – Stargate SG1

Due to the success of the original film, there was intention for Stargate to continue, the original creators of the film envisioned a trilogy of films-whilst others had a different idea. Producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner had been working on The Outer Limits together and both of them, independently from each other, approached MGM with the same idea: a TV series based on the Stargate film. Upon realising they had the same idea, they decided to work together on the project. They spent three months studying the original film to learn the mechanics of the Stargate and came to a conclusion: there was no way that the Stargate would only go to one place. From the idea that the gate requires 6 symbols and the point of origin to establish a connection (and there are 38 symbols on the gate itself, not including the point of origin), you can deduce that there are 1,987,690,320 different permutations of gate addresses possible. That’s a lot of potential addresses to go to. So, it makes sense that there are Stargates all over the galaxy rather than just two.

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