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Week of August 20, 2001

Our last, best hope for the human adventure (on DVD) is just beginning. Pre-orders are once again being taken for the first Babylon 5 DVD, containing the movies The Gathering (in its TNT Special Edition form) and In The Beginning. Additionally, a November 6th release date has been announced for the feature-loaded double-disc DVD Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which will feature audio commentary from director Robert Wise, special effects wizard Doug Trumbull and John Dykstra, composer Jerry Goldsmith and actor Stephen "Decker" Collins, who took time out from 7th Heaven to offer his memories of the film. The second disc will include three retrospective documentaries on the movie, its restoration, and its place in Star Trek lore, all of the original theatrical trailers and TV promos (plus a new trailer just for this re-edited edition), outtakes, deleted scenes, and even some material on Enterprise. We'll let you know when pre-orders are being taken on this release. This fall/winter season is starting to look like the season of not-to-be-missed SF DVD titles - and a winter of discontent for my wallet! Keep an eye on the Upcoming Releases page to pre-order any or all of these titles.

Babylon 5: The Gathering / In The Beginning

Elwes joining X-Files cast? Actor Cary Elwes is now confirmed in a new recurring role in the upcoming season of The X-Files, which will also see many more appearances by Annabeth Gish (whose FBI agent character is a former flame of Elwes' new character) as well as a recurring part for former Xena star Lucy Lawless. There is speculation that the increased involvement of Gish and Elwes, alongside Robert Patrick (who joined last season as the replacement for David Duchovny's Mulder), could be taking X-Files into a "Next Generation" with a completely new cast. Source: Shoptalk

Majel abandons ship. Citing too many cooks in the kitchen, Majel Barrett Roddenberry is bailing out of Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, two weekly syndicated shows spawned by unfinished scripts and outlines written by her late husband, Gene Roddenberry. Barrett feels that star/producer Kevin Sorbo is in the driver's seat with Andromeda, a show she says is right on track, but she joins many fans in voicing disapproval with the newfangled direction of Earth's upcoming fifth season (which seems to be dispensing with a majority of series continuity and the show's mapped-out story arc), along with the fact that every guest appearance she made on the show meant a trip to Canada. Her recurring character on Earth, Dr. Belman, will not be reappearing (though it's unknown how this will be addressed in the show's storyline). Majel also confirms that while she thinks the upcoming Star Trek spinoff Enterprise has promise, it will be the first Trek series not to feature her as the voice of the ship's computer. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Sci-Fi Channel saves another SFTV staple. The Sci-Fi Channel is resurrecting an impressive number of the past several years' best-loved SF series. Latest example? It turns out that the "final season" of Stargate SG-1 isn't quite so final. The Sci-Fi Channel will pick the series up from Showtime for a new season of 22 episodes, set to begin filming in January 2002. Sci-Fi will also begin airing daily reruns of SG-1 starting late next year, possibly to coincide with the broadcast of the new episodes. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

SF favorites to populate Cube sequel. A number of fan favorites will be starring in the upcoming Hypercube: Cube 2, the sequel to the 1997 cult favorite Cube. Forever Knight's Geraint Wyn-Davies and Earth: Final Conflict's Kari Matchett will head the new cast of eight characters (the original film killed off all but one of its small cast). Shooting begins August 20th in Toronto. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Dalek master plan set into motion! Until 1986's Trial Of A Time Lord came along, it was - at twelve 25-minute installments - the longest Doctor Who story ever. And its length can be interpreted as the apex of Dalek-mania in Britain in 1966. But sadly, the master video copies of The Daleks' Master Plan no longer exist, aside from a mere two out the show's twelve episodes - so the BBC Radio Collection is releasing it as part of their restored audio archive of missing stories. The Daleks' Master Plan, set for release later this month, is a mammoth five-CD box set which also includes the one-off 25-minute episode Mission To The Unknown, which featured none of the regular Doctor Who cast, and was used not only to give those actors a break, but also to serve as an episode-length teaser for the Dalek epic to come mere weeks later. An extensive liner notes booklet on the making of the story will also be included. Pre-order your copy of The Daleks' Master Plan from today!

Doctor Who: The Daleks' Masterplan (5-CD box set)

Veteran cosmic alt-rockers. September is going to be a banner month for fans of a couple of the most popular alternative rock acts of the past decade. September sees the release of Tori Amos' cover album Strange Little Girls, featuring covers of songs originated by such acts as Depeche Mode, the Beatles and Eminem. Ben Folds, late of the recently-disbanded Ben Folds Five, takes a lighter tack with his first solo effort, Rockin' The Suburbs. Both are now available for pre-order.

Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls
Ben Folds - Rockin' The Suburbs

Is the ELO spaceship crashing? Things are starting to look dire for diehard ELO fans who've waited 15 years for the band's resurrection. The entire North American tour has been cancelled (including a show in North Little Rock that the webmaster had planned to attend) with no indication that it will be rescheduled for 2002 or at all. Additionally, the next wave of remastered versions of the band's classic albums has been delayed from August to "sometime after September," and a previously-announced 2-disc multimedia reissue of the band's first album may or may not be released in September after being pushed back at least twice. On an unrelated note, Not Lame Records' Lynne Me Your Ears multi-artist 2-CD tribute to ELO and bandleader Jeff Lynne (first reported here in July) is still on track, but has been delayed to November or possibly December, according to a rep from Not Lame. (That source also informs us that the above cover art is provisional, and not necessarily what will be seen when the compilation ships.) Sources: Showdown mailing list, Not Lame Records

Gambling with Time. Big Finish Productions' newest Doctor Who Audio Adventure, Project: Twilight is now available (complete with its stunningly moody sleeve, one of the highlights of this year's vastly improved cover art). Starring Colin Baker and Maggie Stables (who also headlined last month's Bloodtide), it's a modern-day drama set in a shady gambling den in southeast London. Project: Twilight is also notable for being the first to feature music by Jim Mortimore, who has himself written several Doctor Who novels for both Virgin and BBC Books. Source: Big Finish Productions

What would you do if you were on a lunar base when a massive nuclear explosion tore the Earth's only satellite out of its orbit? Well, if you didn't die and the moon didn't break up, you'd probably have some pretty wild (and occasionally just plain goofy) adventures like former Mission: Impossible regulars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain endured in Space: 1999. Volume 3 is yet another two-disc set with the first-season episodes Collision Course, Death's Other Dominion, Full Circle, End Of Eternity, War Games and The Last Enemy, while Volume 4 contains Dragon's Domain, Troubled Spirit, Mission Of The Darians (guest starring Joan Collins), Testament Of Arcadia and Space Brain. But wait, there's more! Volume 4 also has the original broadcast promos for the entire first season, as well as a documentary.

Space: 1999 - Volume 3 (2 DVDs)
Space: 1999 - Volume 4 (2 DVDs)

Borg Assimilator put into permanent sleep mode? It looks as though one of the most interesting new PC games based on Star Trek has vanished into subspace. Activision has reportedly ended development of Star Trek: Borg Assimilator, a real-time strategy title blending the world-building elements of SimCity with the combat/resource-gathering tactics of such games as the Command & Conquer series, putting the player in charge of the Borg Collective. (Truth be told, we were actually looking forward to this game!) But development was halted by Activision when the game was felt to be straying away from true Star Trek (whatever that means - it's not as if we know as much about the Borg as we do about the Klingons).

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