Tag Archives: Ron Moore

A few quick words about “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” (2017)

I was skeptical about “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” (2017), and I’m not sure why — maybe because I assumed it would be a failed and shameless imitator of “Black Mirror” (2011).  But I’m happy to be proven wrong — the first episode was damned good.  It isn’t quite as good as “Black Mirror” (the success of which doubtlessly helped this series reach fruition), but it looks like it could be a great show in its own right.  (None other than Ron Moore and Bryan Cranston are among the producers for “Electric Dreams,” so that should make us optimistic about the show’s quality.)

I’d rate the first episode a 9 out of 10.  (The entry I’m referring to here is the “Episode 1” with which Amazon Video audiences will be familiar — the episodes appeared in a different order when this series first aired last year on Britain’s Channel 4.)  It’s got a great cast, including Anna Paquin, Lara Pulver, and the incredible Terrence Howard.  (His acting skills are among the best I’ve ever seen.)  And its story is damned neat, even if it employs a Dick story device that we’ve already seen in some other adaptations.  (Can I write “Dick story device” without my Facebook friends snickering?)

This was good.  I recommend it.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Monogram’s “Battlestar Galactica” models (1978)

These “Battlestar Galacatica” models were released by Monogram in 1978, the same year the TV show debuted.  My older brother had all four of them hanging from the ceiling of our room.  (I was a first grader in 1978, and still a few years away from model building.)

I definitely had watched the show, but I wasn’t quite as into it as the other boys in my class.  (And that’s probably ironic, considering my sheer fanaticism as an adult for Ron Moore’s remake series between 2004 and 2010.)

The other boys were constantly screaming about it.  (Maybe I was just a quiet kid — it seemed to me at the time that they were endlessly hollering about whatever it was that they liked.)  I’m not sure why I was less enthusiastic — I certainly loved my “Star Wars.”   And a year after “Battlestar Galactica” hit the small screen, my best friend Shawn and I went nuts for a show that is now remembered by few — “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982)

Young people, let me try to explain what it was like for a kid who loved movies in the early 1980’s.

There was no trivia section for the Internet Movie Database.  There was no Internet Movie Database.  There was no goddam Internet.  This meant that information about new movies came mostly from other second-, third- or fourth-graders.  And that was one imperfect grapevine.

Sometimes the information was flat out wrong.  Brad Fisher told me at the beach in the summer of 1980 that Han Solo dies in “The Empire Strikes Back.”  (Yes, “Star Wars” fanatics, I am aware that Harrison Ford wanted the character to die.  Now grow up and watch Ron Moore’s “Battlestar Galactica.”)

Other times, the information was technically accurate, but confusingly articulated.  Such was the account of Jason Huhn, the kid across the street, of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.”  (That was a 1979 movie, but I wasn’t even allowed to watch the bowdlerized version that was on television a few years later.)  “Its head is like a tube.”  Jason told me thoughtfully.  “It has, like, two mouths.  It has a mouth, and then a mouth inside a mouth.”

Finally, the other boys’ reviews were occasionally just too spoiler-heavy.  In 1984, I had the entire rope-bridge scene in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” memorized in detail before I got to see the movie myself.  (Maddeningly, most of Mr. Greiner’s sixth grade class had seen it before I did, and Jason Girnius was particularly exuberant in recounting its climactic fight.)

“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” was something of a different animal.  None of the kids in the neighborhood could figure that one out.

“Michael isn’t in it!”  That was the buzz.  To a boy in the 1982, Michael Myers was an icon on par with “Friday the 13th’s” Jason.  (Leatherface was a bit before our time, and Freddy Krueger and Pinhead hadn’t arrived in theaters just yet.)  Even those of us who weren’t allowed to watch the movies had heard all about him.  It utterly confused us that that a “Halloween” movie could be made in which he was absent.

It … looked pretty scary, at least.  Its poster and tagline suggested that young trick-or-treaters would be victimized instead of teenagers old enough to babysit, so that was more frightening to a young boy.  (As an adult today, I suggest that this movie absolutely did not turn out to be a classic horror film, despite the pretty terrifying basic plot device revealed at the end.)

Today a simple Google search would inform us of John Carpenter’s plans — an anthology series in which every subsequent “Halloween” sequel was a standalone horror story with the holiday as a theme.  (I think I’d question the wisdom of that even as a kid; the studio wisely resurrected the slasher four years later.)

But the gradeschool grapevine was not so informed.  There weren’t even any tentative hypotheses among the kids on my street.  I think we just shrugged it off and returned to talking about “Star Wars.”  We just figured that adults sometimes did some really puzzling, really stupid things.  That’s a belief I still hold today.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I occasionally engender that belief in others.

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A review of “Parallels” (2015)

First, a clarification — “Parallels” (2015) is absolutely not a feature film; it’s an undisguised attempt at a pilot for an ongoing web-based series.  I think it’s pretty cruddy of Netflix to market it as a standalone film, as viewers expecting a conclusive story will doubtless be disappointed.  Its parallel universe-hopping premise also seems so similar to “Sliders” (1995-1999) that it just might approach the boundary between inspiration and ripoff.

With that said, however … dear LORD!!!  “Parallels” was frikkin’ FANTASTIC.  What we’ve got here is a far edgier, grownup version of “Sliders,” with a first episode introducing the same type of show-spanning mysteries as “Lost.”  But where “Sliders” was milquetoast primetime family fare, this looks like an excellent serialized thriller with plenty of pathos.

What a shame this thoughtful series never reached fruition.  I was hooked.  It’s smartly written by Christopher Leone; he’s visibly well acquainted with string theory, and has a hell of a lot of clever fun with it.  “Parallels” is a face-paced 80 minutes that follows a tragic, dysfunctional modern family embroiled in the mystery of the plot-driving “Building.”  The Building appears to be the nexus of countless parallel universes, a bit like the “The Dark Tower” links them in Stephen King’s multiverse.  The cast is uniformly good; the standouts were Eric Jungmann as the comic relief and Michael Monks as an understated but terrific bad guy.

I had only a few tiny quibbles.  Some of the family melodrama and the mysteries were a little forced and heavy-handed.  The ending (?) here, while really intriguing, also borrows a page or two from “Cube” (1997) and one particularly good episode of Ron Moore’s “Battlestar Galactica” (2004-2009).

I’m not sure how to rate this.  It fails as a standalone film, I think, because it simply doesn’t have an ending.  I suppose I’d give it … a 4 out of 10?  If you can forgive that fatal flaw, however, and want to enjoy some top-shelf science fiction, then I’d easily give it a 9 out of 10.

Dammit.  Why wasn’t this show made?

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