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Week of August 27, 2001

Star Trek: The Motion Picture DVD available for pre-order. Pre-orders are now being taken at and for the feature-loaded double-disc DVD Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, featuring commentary from director Robert Wise, special effects wizards Doug Trumbull and John Dykstra, composer Jerry Goldsmith and actor Stephen "Decker" Collins. The second disc includes 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. Also, UK fans, who normally lag many months or even a year behind US Star Trek DVD releases, will be elated to find out that this title will be available on their turf in early December. Help support by pre-ordering your copy through our links.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition DVD

Is that holosuite still running? It must be, because Vic Fontaine's still singing! Okay, so maybe it's not Vic, but James Darren, the multi-talented entertainer who brought Vic to life in the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - and he's got a new album of classic tunes out now. Because Of You picks up where 1999's almost universally-acclaimed This One's From The Heart left off, this time including swingin' covers of such numbers as Dream A Little Dream Of Me, A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, More Today Than Yesterday, and Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (among others). Because Of You is now available.

James Darren - Because Of You

TNG:DVD. Though it's not official yet, word has it that Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season will be available as a DVD box set in February 2002, with the second season right behind it in April (though our guess would be later in the summer, with the critically acclaimed third season to follow around Christmas '02). We'll keep an eye on this development - and, of course, you'll be able to support by pre-ordering your copy here. Source: TrekWeb

Daleks conquer and destroy! The other first Doctor is back! Peter Cushing stars as Doctor Who in the two big-screen feature films produced in 1964 and '65 - now available for pre-order on DVD! Both movies, Doctor Who and the Daleks (based loosely upon the original seven-part TV story that introduced the metal monsters) and Daleks: Invasion Earth, 2150 A.D. (based even more loosely on the second Dalek serial), have been digitally remastered, presented in glorious (and extremely colorful) widescreen, along with a special documentary, Dalekmania!, chronicling the Dalek craze that peaked with these two films. The Peter Cushing Doctor Who movies are available separately or as a two-disc gift pack, and will be released in November the week of the show's 38th anniversary.

Doctor Who - Peter Cushing Theatrical Films on DVD
Doctor Who and the Daleks
Daleks: Invasion Earth, 2150 A.D.
Doctor Who and the Daleks 2-DVD Movie Gift Set

Witchblade renewed. To the surprise of a great many fans who expected another Crusade-style debacle, TNT has renewed Witchblade for a second season, which will air next summer. Be on the lookout for the Witchblade LogBook real soon.

Luke's back - and boy, is he pissed. Director Kevin Smith - an admitted longtime Star Wars fan with a habit of working references to George Lucas' universe into his films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy - scored a real coup by getting Mark Hamill to turn in a lightsaber-swinging cameo in his new film, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. There's just one problem, though - Hamill didn't think his cameo would even be credited, let alone be used to promote the movie. (This could be because Jay and Silent Bob hasn't exactly been greeted favorably in pre-release movie reviews and the studio is looking for any way to get moviegoers to buy tickets to see it.) No word on whether or not the Lucasfilm camp has any comment on the matter. Source: Lew Irwin's StudioBriefing

Rise And Fall rises yet again. Scott Cohen's classic book on the peaks and valleys of a one-mighty corporate empire, ZAP!: The Rise And Fall Of Atari, has been reprinted for the first time in 16 years (though not updated). This reprint is rather timely, what with Infogrames having acquired the Atari name as part of their buy-out of Hasbro Interactive early this year. (And there are still persistent signs that Infogrames may ditch their own relatively unknown moniker and begin marketing all of their products under the Atari name to raise their visibility.) Cohen's book covers the founding of Atari through the spectacular crash of the video game industry that took place between 1982 and 1984.

ZAP!: The Rise And Fall Of Atari

Burton to reminisce on Roots. LeVar Burton is one of many stars of the groundbreaking miniseries Roots who is participating in a 25th anniversary TV documentary on the origins of the miniseries (and the acclaimed Alex Haley on which it was based) and the effect it had on television and our culture. Surprisingly, the documentary was turned down by ABC, which originally aired Roots. The documentary will instead air in January 2002 on NBC. Source: Shoptalk

Firesign Theatre reunites on CD and DVD. The four original members of The Firesign Theatre are reuniting once more for a new CD of original comedy material, The Bride Of Firesign, which they'll be chasing down almost immediately with the taping of a retrospective special for PBS which will likely air in or around December (translated: wherever the next pledge drive hits), to be followed by DVD and VHS release in spring 2002. The TV special will feature new footage and old, new interpretations of classic Firesign material, and even cameos by celebrity fans of the funny foursome. The Bride Of Firesign is now available for pre-order through

The Firesign Theatre - The Bride Of Firesign

OzFest. The WB has given a new series based on L. Frank Baum's Oz books the green light - but before you think Dorothy's back, look again, because we're not in Kansas anymore. The new show, said to be darker than the original Wizard Of Oz film, picks up the action over half a century after the Wicked Witch is dead, and involves new characters. No word on when the show will premiere - or, considering the fate that befell former Star Trek writer Ronald Moore's Dragonriders Of Pern series, if it will premiere. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Doctor Who DVD rumor sadly disproven. It happens to the best of us, sometimes - it turns out that the rumor of Warner Bros. Home Video releasing nothing-but-the-show DVDs of future Doctor Who home video releases in the U.S. are not true. Instead, we can expect VHS-only releases to resume in February 2002 with Attack of the Cybermen, though alternating months will see releases of DVD titles already released in Britain, probably starting with Remembrance Of The Daleks. However, the 1996 TV movie, which was recently released on DVD in England, is not on the schedule of U.S. DVD releases. Source: Outpost Gallifrey

Ark In Space lined up as next Who DVD with new effects. BBC Video has confirmed that the second Doctor Who DVD title slated for release in spring 2001 will be Tom Baker's second adventure, the all-time classic The Ark In Space, concerning the time travelers' fight to preserve the last remaining outpost of humanity from an all-consuming race of insects. In a first for the Doctor Who DVDs, Ark will feature the option of watching this four-parter in one of two ways: in its original form, or in a new version with newly rendered modern-day CGI effects. There will also be the obligatory audio commentary and a host of other features. Ark will likely be released in March in the U.K., with a U.S./Canada release likely later in the year. Source: Outpost Gallifrey

Actual footage of a tour that didn't happen. As we reported last week, the entire North American ELO tour has been cancelled, leaving fans crying foul (particularly those who had already paid Ticketmaster Online's exorbitant "convenience charges" and other fees) and leaving the band stunned (the cancellation wasn't their idea). But despite the cancellation of the U.S. tour, an ELO Zoom Tour DVD is still coming out later this year. How? It's a compilation of two west coast shows in May which formed the basis of a PBS special (which, adding to the band's streak of good luck this year, hasn't aired in many markets). We'll have pre-order information as soon as possible. Source: Showdown Mailing List

Paul still isn't dead. And the artists lined up to cover ex-Beatle Paul McCartney's solo songs on a new tribute CD are glad about that. Proceeds from Listen To What The Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute To The Music Of Paul McCartney will benefit breast cancer research in honor of the late Linda McCartney. Among those lined up to cover Paul's post-Beatles repertoire include They Might Be Giants, Matthew Sweet, World Party, Semisonic, Tim and Neil Finn, The Judybats, and SR-71. Listen To What The Man Said is due in early October, but you can pre-order it from now.

Listen To What The Man Said

Fancy a quick game of Quidditch? Or maybe a stroll around the Hogwarts "campus"? Based on the upcoming movie Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, Electronic Arts' video games give you the opportunity to hang out at Harry's favorite haunts, battle some evil, and work some magic. Like the movie, the games don't hit shelves until early November, but you can pre-order them here.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

What would any month be without another pair of classic Star Trek DVDs? Well, it'd force me to look for another Killer DVD of the Week. This month, the series slides firmly into its third season, which die-hard Trek fans either love or hate, depending on who you ask. Elaan Of Troyius marks the return of the Klingons, and one of only two appearances by the original D-7 class battlecruiser in the entire original series (and the other time that model appeared, it represented the Romulans - go figure), while the much-parodied Paradise Syndrome is a fan favorite. This month's second volume includes The Enterprise Incident, a rather slick spy thriller featuring the Romulans (in Klingon ships, natch), and ...And The Children Shall Lead, which is still creepy, despite the fact that the creepy-possessed-child plotline has been done to death by nearly every series, SF or otherwise, since, including the Home Alone films. (But we kid Macaulay Culkin.)

Star Trek: The Original Series DVDs
Elaan Of Troyiuus
The Paradise Syndrome

The Enterprise Incident
...And The Children Shall Lead

The Tripods are back! The BBC's classic SF series based upon John Christopher's White Mountains trilogy of novels has been remastered for DVD, and it's being released in full-season box sets. The first season tells the story of the coming of the Tripods, huge alien-controlled mechanical vehicles which stalk the surface of the Earth, "capping" humans at the age of puberty to keep them docile and subservient. The special effects were above average for mid-80s BBC fare. Sadly, this DVD set is being released only in the U.K., and as such the Region 2 discs won't play on North American machines (aside from all-region DVD players).

The Tripods - Season One Box Set

Seeking out new life forms, new civilizations, and better tunes. In some previous editions of the Logbook, I have shown little if any restraint in my frustration with the music of the Star Trek television series. It was something of a obsession of mine back in the early '90s to poke fun at the music, which had grown increasingly stale and boring after the third season of The Next Generation. Despite promises from the producers of more adrenaline in the music with the launches of DS9 and Voyager, the music remained, ultimately, as lifeless as ever.

This issue still baffles me - and it's been 10 years since I first spoke out about it! My only hope is that Rick Berman and company will loosen the rules a lot further for the next incarnation of Trek, Enterprise. Of course, I don't expect that to happen. Berman's answers to questions about the music have always been somewhat cryptic and open to wide interpretation. We'd all be better served if he'd simply come right out and say up front that the music will be pretty dull, which is always what it ends up being.

Why is the music of Star Trek so bad? Most of the blame can be placed on the producers, who seem to believe that melodic and energetic scores distract or somehow cheapen the episode. There have been other excuses like, rhythmic or percussive scores don't translate well in the complicated sound mixing process or they're too "hokey" - a reason frequently cited by Mr. Berman himself. So what we get, at no real fault of the composers themselves, is a sustained, ambient score that acts more like a social wallflower in the episodes than an active player.

The music of Star Trek has been as much a character in the show as the ship and its crew. The movies of Trek were clear examples of this. Berman, who took over the franchise after Gene Roddenberry passed away 10 years ago, wanted to make Star Trek a more "serious" show, taking away its hokey metaphors and cardboard rocks and replacing them with serious themes and complex character issues. The music, he felt, had to reflect this more sophisticated approach.

One of the Next Generation's original composers, Ron Jones, didn't take too well to the new rules, and was unceremoniously booted off at the end of the fourth season. In my opinion, Jones' departure signaled the death of Star Trek as an adventure show. Jones knew how to balance the show's elements of adventure and contemplation through music. Berman and fellow producer and scribe Michael Piller, wanted Star Trek to be less about physical exploration of space and more about intellectual exploration, and there was no room for snare drums and tympanis in that objective.

This new mandate alienated many fans, but since many of us pledged loyalty to the bitter end, we were willing to live with the changes. I was one of these people. But a lot of the enthusiasm I had for the show began to die. Maybe I got spoiled after seeing The Best of Both Worlds, a dynamic installment of the Next Generation that had the best music of any show before or since. Whatever the reason, it became harder to watch Star Trek.

I'm curious about the new series. It was nice to read that Berman wants to make this one more of an action-adventure series. But then, every series after The Next Generation has had its little hook or gimmick meant to engender interest and set it apart from previous series. None have has measured up to The Next Generation, in my opinion. At least up until its fourth season, TNG was the best thing on television, and much of that could be attributed to the music. Hopefully, I will be able to say the same thing about Enterprise, but I'm not holding my breath.

Robert Heyman correspondent

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