Let’s dispense with all of the pleasantries, fellow readers, and let’s get down to the brass tacks! If you’re here, then you’re here for This Week in Science Fiction! Enjoy yesterday’s past toward tomorrow’s blasts!
When the whole STAR WARS craze began back in 1977, the TV networks didn’t want to be left out of all the fun. Universal Television enlisted Glen A. Larson to create BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and the program premiered on ABC on this day back in 1978. With a budget estimated under one million dollars per episode, the “Saga of a Star World” quickly became the most expensive show of its time. When it was cancelled by ABC, CBS and NBC briefly flirted with acquiring the property – rumors suggest CBS seriously considered adding it as a mid-season replacement – but, alas, it wasn’t to be. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW launched on silver screens back in 2004. Auspicious birthdays include PLANET OF THE APES’ star Roddy McDowall (1928), X-MEN director Bryan Singer (1965), DISTRICT 9 director Neill Blomkamp (1979).
The countdown to “All Good Things” officially began on this day in 1993 when STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION premiered its seventh season in syndication. The opener concluded the epic Data/Lore two-parter, DESCENT (which was decent), but much of the final season felt tired, focusing instead on character-based stories with less sci-fi elements. While it was nice to see some modest attempt at resolving the Picard/Crusher possible love story in “Attached,” “All Good Things” threw it into disarray once more. So far as this writer is concerned, the only real stand-out to the last season was the Worf-centric “Parallels,” an impressive yarn that saw the Klingon head of security shifting between various timelines. Auspicious birthdays include FLASH GORDON’s Mariangela Melato (1941) and X-MEN actor James Marsden (1973).
Before he got all weirded out with monkeys, children, and hyperbaric chambers, Michael Jackson had a fondness for science fiction. On this day in 1986, CAPTAIN EO premiered at Disney’s Epcot. The 3D flick was directed by Francis Ford Coppolla, who based the name ‘Eo’ on ‘Eos,’ the Greek goddess of dawn. Produced by George Lucas and with a score from James Horner, CAPTAIN EO detailed the story of the captain and his Muppety crew on a mission to deliver a gift to the galaxy’s Supreme Leader, played by Angelica Huston. In typical Jackson flourish, singing and dancing (in space!) ensue. Auspicious birthdays include sci-fi author Damon [Francis] Knight (1922), BATMAN’s Adam West (1928), THE INVISIBLE MAN’s David McCallum (1933), and AVP’s Sanaa Lathan (1971).
Every now and then, TV producers come up with a pretty solid idea, but, for whatever reason, it never quite catches on with audiences. First example: 2002’s FIREFLY, which premiered on this day. The Joss Whedon-penned series caught fire after it was cancelled and available on DVD, and it even spawned a respectable motion picture follow-up and some comic book continuations. Second example: 2010’s THE EVENT (also premiered on this day). The story involved an alien race seeking to co-habit the Earth alongside mankind, but perhaps its ever-growing cast to solve an ever-growing political conspiracy (with too few answers) killed it in only one season. Auspicious birthdays include sci-fi and fantasy author George R.R. Martin (1948), sci-fi author James Blaylock, CRUSADE’s Gary Cole (1956), screenwriter Ben Edlund (1968), and FALLING SKIES’s Moon Bloodgood (1975).
Stephen King (1947) gets a lotta love for his horror stories, but quite a few of them have a solid grounding in science fiction. Take THE STAND, for example. The largely Biblical allegory starts out on the cusp of science, with a government-manufactured ‘superflu’ wiping out nearly all of mankind. His story, THE LANGOLIERS, delves into the possibility of pocket and/or parallel universes. And his latest opus – 11/22/1963 – explores the intersection of time travel and the chance to stop the assassination of President Kennedy. See there? All sci-fi at its finest. Besides that, King shares his birthday with none other than the legendary H.G. Wells (1866)! Top that, naysayers, if you dare …
No offense, ladies, but “babes” and “sci-fi” were a match made in genre heaven. All you gotta do is walk into a comic book store and cry out that there’s a chick out front as Slave Leia, and you’ll clear the place in a heartbeat. So it gives me great pleasure to share with you that September 22nd serves as the birthday for two of the latest lovelies to grace all of sci-fi-dom: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS’s Ashley Eckstein (1981) and DOCTOR WHO’s Billie Piper (1982). On this day in 2004, LOST premiered on ABC TV, and, pretty much, it changed programming as we knew it. Auspicious birthdays include author Jim Keith (1949), who spent his years exploring some of the most fascinating conspiracies of our time.
On this day in 1938, folks attending the World’s Fair in New York City watched as a woman’s hat, a man’s pipe, and over 1,100 feet of microfilm were deposited into a time capsule scheduled to be opened in the year 6939. Wonder what our inevitable descendants will think about those things, eh? Auspicious birthdays include BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Maren Jensen (1956), PUSHING DAISIES’s Chi McBride (1961), and director Alex Proyas (1963).