This Week in Science Fiction: Sept. 24 – Sept. 30

If “all the world’s a stage,” then I’d see it happily filled with spaceships, battlebots, and rayguns, because all the world loves science fiction.  And Unreality readers are no different!  In fact, one could argue that — with our varied interests of movies, television, books, and video games — we probably love sci-fi just a bit more than the average schmoe.  So, without further ado, here’s what came down the pike this week!

September 24

After the debacle that was the finale of LOST (can you tell I’m still upset?), ABC-TV raced to greenlight up – anything that promised to mirror LOST’s creative intensity and keep that audience on the sofa. In 2009, they launched FLASHFORWARD, the story of what happened that led to a global black-out of total human consciousness for two minutes. What happened? Well, some would call it “a black-out of total human consciousness” for an entire season. Ugh.  But, on this day in 1995, Fox Television spun SPACE: ABOVE & BEYOND into existence. Sadly, it also only lasted a single season, and it went out with a stellar cliffhanger that cried out for a sequel. (And can you tell that I’m still upset about that, too?!?!) Auspicious birthdays include DARK CRYSTAL’s Jim Henson (1936), HERCULES’ Kevin Sorbo (1958), and screenwriter John Logan (1961).


September 25

In life, it’s always important to strive for humble beginnings. That’s exactly what Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and their creative friends hoped by launching ENTERPRISE, the first Star Trek program to remove ‘Star Trek’ from its name. By taking viewers on a journey back before the founding of the United Federation of Planets – before the days of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy – they hoped to slip the shackles of the heavily continuity-laden franchise. Sadly, their experiment produced mixed results, as ENTERPRISE inevitably became STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE and mostly limped through four seasons. Though they tried mixing up their formula with a season-long war story and a fourth season that hinted of greater things to come, UPN called it quits … but ENTERPRISE began on this day back in 2001. Auspicious birthdays include STAR WARS’s Mark Hamill (1951), SUPERMAN’s Christopher Reeve (1952), and MEN IN BLACK’s Will Smith (1968).


September 26

Back on this day in 1973, the Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Washington DC to Paris in a record-breaking three-and-one-half hours. In 1989, the MPAA saw the shape of things to come, and it created the NC-17 rating for movies with strong adult themes. In 1991, the 2-year experimental Biosphere 2 began in Oracle, Arizona. This day in 1993 saw the premiere of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE’s second season, the first part of a underrated three-part opener that explored the political strife on planet Bajor. Auspicious birthdays include FARSCAPE’s Kent McCord (1942), THE TERMINATOR’s Linda Hamilton (1956), and FREQUENCY’s Jim Caviezel (1968).


September 27

In 1905, the physics journal ‘Annalen der Physik’ published Albert Einstein’s paper that introduced the equation E=mc2 to the world. In 1937, the first Santa Claus Training School opened in Albion, New York. 1963 saw the premiere of the fifth (and final) season of Rod Serling’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE.  In 1998, the future finally arrived when Google was launched. And, in 2008, CNSA astronaut Zhai Zhigang made history as the first Chinese person to perform a spacewalk. Auspicious birthdays include STAR WARS’s “Wedge Antilles” Denis Lawson (1947), THE X FILES’s Tom Braidwood (1948), and STARSHIP TROOPERS’s Patrick Muldoon (1968).


September 28

It remains perhaps the first and the best film to intelligently explore Earth’s responsibility to the greater galaxy at large: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL entered theatres on this day in 1951. Carl Sagan’s COSMOS premiered on PBS stations everywhere in 1980. Dr. Sam Beckett finally got back home when QUANTUM LEAP’s third season kicked off with the first half of a two-parter called “The Leap Home” in 1990. Auspicious birthdays include sci-fi author Michael Coney (1932), veteran character actor Marshall Bell (1942), DARK SKIES’s J T Walsh (1943), BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Herbert Jefferson Jr. (1946), and MIMIC’s Mira Sorvino (1967).


September 29

Maybe it ain’t sci-fi, but it certainly bears mentioning: on this day in 480 BC, the Greek fleet under Themistocles defeated the Persian fleet under Xerxes I (the emperor featured in the movie 300), thus making civilization as we know it today possible. Thus, centuries later in 1963, “My Favorite Martian” premiered on TV. In 1977, the group Meco hit #1 on the charts with their disco version of the “Star Wars Theme.” In 1985, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” returned to television, and Steven Spielberg brought “Amazing Stories” to the boob tube. Auspicious birthdays include TV composer Mike Post (1944), TRON’s Cindy Morgan (1954), E.T.’s Erika Eleniak (1969), and CHUCK’s Zachary Levi (1980).


September 30

Please tell me you’ve heard of Dan O’Bannon. No? What? Seriously? This amazing brain contributed to so, so many sci-fi properties. He did everything on DARK STAR. He wrote ALIEN. He worked on special effects for STAR WARS. HEAVY METAL? He wrote two installments on that. BLUE THUNDER? LIFEFORCE? INVADERS FROM MARS? Wrote those, too. He penned the script for TOTAL RECALL, and, in 2004, he contributed to the story for ALIENS VS. PREDATOR. ‘Nuff said, my friend. ‘Nuff said indeed.  Silver screens gave Joss Whedon a second chance with that whole ‘Firefly’ thing when SERENITY premiered in 2005. Other auspicious birthdays include EARTH 2’s Debrah Farentino, CAPRICA’s Eric Stoltz, and THE MATRIX’s Monica Bellucci (1964).

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