NEWS@theLogBook.com

Frank Herbert's Dune fast-tracked to home video. Having only premiered early last month, Frank Herbert's Dune - the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, that is, not the 1984 film - is already due out on video later this month. A DVD release is being prepped for March. Also, the Sci-Fi Channel has already begun preproduction work on a second miniseries which will cover the events of the second and third Dune novels, Dune Messiah and Children Of Dune, to air late this year. Thus far, we only have video release information for Frank Herbert's Dune for the U.S., but we will let you know if and when it becomes available overseas.

Source: Amazon.com

Who's that in your ear? Precisely! The BBC Radio Collection is issuing two classic Doctor Who adventures in a week. The Myth Makers double CD is the complete audio soundtrack to a 1965 four-part TV adventure starring William Hartnell as the Doctor, Peter Purves as Steven, and introducing Adrienne Hill as short-lived companion Katarina (who only survived into the next adventure, the legendary Daleks' Masterplan). Purves provides narration for this set, which has been lost on video or film since its first broadcast. Colin Baker stars in the single-CD reissue of the 1985 BBC Radio adventure Slipback, also starring Nicola Bryant as Peri and the late, great, thunder-voiced Valentine Dyall (also known to Who fans as the Black Guardian). Both are only available from Amazon.co.uk, but these titles can be shipped to the States.

Doctor Who: The Myth Makers

Doctor Who: Slipback

Source: BBC Worldwide

A little Cyberman music. In celebration of the long-awaited release of the classic Doctor Who episode The Tenth Planet on video next week in Britain, U.K. indie label Ochre Records is releasing a special limited edition Tenth Planet soundtrack CD containing the electronic music used in the 1966 adventure which introduced the Cybermen to the Doctor Who mythos. You can order the Tenth Planet soundtrack from Amazon.co.uk via the link above. Source: Ochre Records

Dune 2001. Westwood Studios, the developers of Dune 2000 (the Green household's favorite real-time strategy game of the past year), have announced a new game based in Frank Herbert's universe, Emperor: Battle For Dune. The new 3-D real-time strategy game will take place on the home worlds of the Atreides, Harkonnen and Ordos (in addition to Dune itself), utilizing over 30 maps and over 100 missions. As with Dune 2000, players will be able to choose which of the three sides to play, and will be able to forge alliances, do terrible and treacherous things to other players online or over a LAN, and all of that fun stuff - plus some new twists. In addition, Emperor's new movie sequences will star Musetta Vander (who appeared as a member of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood in Dune 2000), ubiquitous character actor Vincent Schiavelli, and none other than Michael Dorn of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine fame. Emperor: Battle For Dune is set for release in 2001. Source: Westwood Studios

Killer DVD of the week. Monty Python fans rejoice! A bizarre new addition to your library has arrived on DVD. The Life Of Python is a new two-disc release hosted by comedian Eddie Izzard, examining the Python phenomenon and presenting numerous unique features: a gallery of Terry Gilliam's mondo bizarro animations for the show, a "top ten" list of favorite songs from the series (hosted by none other than Meatloaf), and segments hosted by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. But the real holy grail - pun shamelessly intended - of this set is the first-ever release of one of the Pythons' two specially-produced episodes for German TV. Both of these shows are rarely seen outside of Germany, and contain new material which is unique to those programs. Life Of Python is no longer available in the UK, but our PAL-viewing readers can take heart - both German episodes are available in your part of the world on a tape titled Mothy Python's Fliegender Zirkus.

Sources: Amazon.com, BlackStar.co.uk

This is my boomstick! Gimme some sugar, baby! Bruce Campbell is back as Ash in Evil Dead: Hail To The King, a new game for the PC, Playstation and Dreamcast platforms. Combining elements from all of the Evil Dead flicks, Hail To The King follows the further misadventures of smart-ass hero Ash as he tries to destroy hoardes o' zombies summoned by the Necronomicon (that's the Book of the Dead, in case you've missed the movie trilogy). Not only is this new game approved by Evil Dead creators Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert (who are also the team behind Xena), but they consider the game to be the answer to all the fans who have been clamoring for a fourth movie. Don't just watch it, play it! Bruce is said to have provided some of his best ever voice-over work for this one.

Source: THQ


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WAR OF THE WORLDS
The original 1938 radio show that threw America into panic is now available - very inexpensively, I might add - on CD. Gather your loved ones, and anyone else who likes a little bit of fear, around the speakers and relive the red (planet) scare.

 

Week of January 1,  2001

Editorial

Should science fiction be heard and not seen? October 2000 marks the one-year anniversary of Big Finish Productions' license to produce original Audio Adventures based on the BBC SF stalwart Doctor Who. For a year now, Big Finish has been turning out well-produced radio-drama-style stories to the same length as the average four-part Doctor Who TV serial, and with only a small number of exceptions, I must say I'm impressed. Former TV Doctors Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker have turned in some of their best performances in the role...years (in Davison's case, a decade and a half) after they left the TARDIS behind on television. And starting in January, Paul McGann - the eighth Doctor from the 1996 TV movie - joins them as a regular fixture. Old enemies such as the Daleks, Ice Warriors and Cybermen hound the Doctors on their journeys, alongside such new foes as the elusive Fearmonger, the Spillagers, and a hoard of primordial horrors from The Land Of The Dead. The Big Finish CDs have also turned other conventions of the TV show on their head, reintroducing long-departed companions from the series' past (the pairing of Lalla Ward's Romana with Colin Baker's Doctor was intriguing) and canonizing popular companions from the novels and comics (Bernice Summerfield appears in this month's story, The Shadow of the Scourge, while Frobisher - a shapeshifter who happens to be stuck in the form of a penguin - travels with the sixth Doctor in November's Holy Terror. New companions exclusive to the audio plays have been introduced as well - the willful Evelyn Smythe, who aids and abets the sixth Doctor, and Charley Pollard, who will be joining the eighth Doctor next year.

The majority of the scripts have been excellent. The majority of the acting has been nothing short of extraordinary. Guest artists from Peter Miles to Babylon 5's Peter Jurasik to Gareth Thomas of Blake's 7 fame have turned in performances in the audio series, and Nicholas Courtney has reprised his role as the redoubtable Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart alongside the sixth and eighth Doctors - the only two incarnations he never officially appeared with on television. And beginning next spring, the dreaded Daleks get their own series of CD adventures, minus the Doctor's interference (who will save us now?).

Big Finish is working on a limited budget for each release. (Stories which would require paying more than one past companion for a single story are verboten - we won't be seeing anything set in the Tegan-Adric-and-Nyssa era of the TARDIS crew.) Writing for radio or audio is somewhat stylized, requiring the characters to describe what they see without it sounding like flat narration. And sound mixing is a delicate and oft-screwed-up art which the Big Finish crew manage to get right most of the time.

With all of this in mind, I wonder...should science fiction perhaps take a break from the tube and return to the transistor for a while?

One of the most acclaimed science fiction dramas of the 20th century, H.G. Wells' War Of The Worlds (as dramatized by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater Players 62 years ago this week), was achieved with nothing more than voices, sound effects, good scripting, and passion. And not a hell of a lot of cash. All elements that Big Finish has on its side.

With no visual razzle-dazzle to rely upon, no makeup requirements, and no gargantuan budgets to throw at every production problem, would much of the SF on television today stand up at all? Think about it: would Star Trek: Voyager soar or snore if limited to audio? (Sorry, Voyager fans, I know I keep picking on your show. Please bear in mind that I myself still watch it every week, wishing that the stories would be up to the standard of the cast and crew assembled to make them. I can understand why Robert Beltran is greeting his last year as Chakotay with glee.)

The thought occurs that the more cerebral shows - Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine and Crusade spring immediately to mind - would be the best candidates. Shows which are thick with verbal information - i.e. Red Dwarf - would also do well. Shows which throw tons of money at the fight choreographer and his stuntmen or at the CGI space battle scenes each week to fill in the thirty minute plot holes left open by the writers would likely not survive the translation.

Various other properties have dipped their toes into the waters: Simon & Schuster Audio produced a couple of Captain Sulu audio plays which were not available in print form, and the BBC has been steadily re-releasing a staple diet of past Doctor Who and Blake's 7 radio plays, as well as a series of CDs with the complete audio soundtracks of Doctor Who stories which no longer exist on video or film. There have even been some limited experiments with Red Dwarf as a radio show.

What are your thoughts on this possibility? We're running a double poll this week to find out what you think. Just fill in your preferences in the column to the right and let us know which shows (and we've rather arbitrarily chosen a selection of shows to which theLogBook.com provides episode guides, along with a few others) could make it if they were heard and not seen.

Earl Green
theLogBook.com webmaster/editor-in-chief

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