Frank Herbert's Dune fast-tracked to home
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.
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
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
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
Week of January 1, 2001
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
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.