Week of January 8, 2001
Ray Walston, 1914-2001.
Actor Ray Walston, best known for his starring role as My Favorite Martian
but also famous for recurring roles on Picket Fences and both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager as Starfleet
Academy's crusty resident groundskeeper, Boothby. His appearances on Picket
Fences earned him two successive supporting actor Emmy awards in 1995 and 1996.
Walston also made countless appearances in other television shows, ranging from
both the theatrical version and the short-lived TV spinoff of Fast Times
At Ridgemont High, to the miniseries based on Stephen King's The Stand, to episodes of Buck Rogers, Mission: Impossible,
Amazing Stories, Night Court, Friday The 13th: The Series, Ally McBeal, and
Touched By An Angel, and even a one-off attempt to revive ALF. Walston's film
appearances included Addams Family Reunion, Popeye, South Pacific
and even a cameo role in the recent big-screen remake of My Favorite Martian,
but he seemed much more at home on the small screen, making him one of American
television's most venerable and best-loved character actors.
Sources: Daily Variety and
Black monolith appears in Seattle park.
It's no joke - a large black monolith appeared on New Years' Eve in a
park in Seattle. Made of steel, standing nine feet tall, five feet wide
and one foot deep (the same proportions as the mysterious monolith in
2001: a space odyssey), the
monolith hasn't begun testing humanity, but it has drawn quite a few perplexed
onlookers - and, no doubt, amusement from those "in the know." And at
least one visitor fessed up to the Associated Press that he walked up to touch
the monolith, just out of curiosity. And within 48 hours, the monolith was
gone. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the slab of steel, so I guess this
means a mission to...
Jupiter - and beyond the infinite!
Speaking of which, NASA's Cassini space probe successfully completed a
slingshot maneuver past Jupiter on December 30th, a necessary milestone
on the unmanned robot's long journey to Saturn. While it was in the
neighborhood, Cassini was used to conduct tandem studies of Jupiter with
the still-operational Galileo probe, which - despite numerous major
malfunctions - has still survived three years longer in Jovian space than
it was expected to. As large as Jupiter is, Cassini will still be lending
its electronic eyes and ears to studies of the largest planet will into
January. Cassini will reach Saturn's neighborhood in three and a half
years, at which point - if all goes according to plan - it will release
an indepedent probe called Huygens into the atmosphere of Titan. The
European-built Huygens probe will report back on Titan's surface conditions
and atmospheric chemistry, perhaps giving scientists a glimpse behind the
persistent veil that covers the solar system's second-largest moon. Many
believe that, with its thick atmosphere and its potential for organic
compounds, Titan could be a potential hotbed for primitive life.
Buffy takes on Dark Angel.
No, it's not the latest crossover between
series - it's this year's nominations for Best Actress in a TV Drama
at the Golden Globe Awards. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jessica Alba,
stars of the WB's Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Fox's Dark Angel
respectively, are facing off for the award, along with Lorraine
Bracco and Edie Falcon, both from The Sorpanos, Amy Brenneman of
Judging Amy fame, and Once And Again's Sela Ward. The winners will
be announced on January 21st.
They've got it covered.
Doctor Who fans are up in arms over BBC
Enterprises' plan to change the covers of upcoming novels beginning
in May. Why the complaints? Because apparently the BBC is planning
to revamp the covers to resemble the frightfully dull covers of the
Doctor Who DVDs released thus far in Britain. (Many fans actually
wish the Beeb would do the reverse, and give the DVDs more colorful
- and, some believe, more eye-catching and marketable - cover art.)
Jacqueline Rayner and Justin Richards, the editors of the BBC's
Doctor Who novels, have made it known that this change came down
from the top and they have no control over it.
Source: Outpost Gallifrey
Pluto? Anybody? Bueller?
It's not very often that the field is
opened for submitting ideas for a new interplanetary exploration
program, but NASA is doing just that in a last-ditch effort to
revive a Pluto mission. The agency's previous plans for a Pluto
probe to be launched in 2004 were scuttled last June when the
existing plans proved to be too expensive to realize. Naturally,
this means that NASA's looking for cheap innovations, as well as
a Pluto probe that won't take money out of the budget for an
upcoming mission to send a probe to Europa. NASA is accepting
ideas from just about anyone: universities, researchers, aerospace
contractors, and even employees of the agency itself who might not
otherwise be involved with the planning of an interplanetary
Who's on DVD in the States?
After much fan campaigning, word from Warner Bros. Home Video has it that the
feature-packed Doctor Who DVDs will begin appearing Stateside this September
with The Five Doctors, to
be followed shortly thereafter by Tom Baker's The Robots of Death. The
pattern may then take up a quarterly release schedule, with U.S. fans lagging
approximately one year behind the U.K. releases; by September of this year, fans
in England will already have Spearhead
From Space, Remembrance
of the Daleks and the 1996 TV
movie featuring Paul McGann on DVD. By the way, Paul McGann returns as the
Doctor this month in Big Finish's series of Doctor Who Audio Adventures.
Source: Outpost Gallifrey
George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
Marking the first title in his upcoming series
of remastered re-releases of his solo catalogue, ex-Beatle George Harrison will be issuing a newly
revamped CD issue (the first time this album has been available in that format)
of his 1970 solo debut All Things Must Pass. The new 2-CD set will
include all of the original triple LP's tracks, plus alternate versions of
several songs, unreleased material from the original sessions, and a brand
new remake of My Sweet Lord, Harrison's first solo hit which drew
a lawsuit from the Chi-Lites over similarities to their hit He's
So Fine. Other albums never released on CD, including Harrison's
Concert For Bangladesh, are slated for remastering later this
year. All Things Must Pass will hit store shelves in the U.S.
on January 23rd, and in the U.K. on January 29th.
You owe it to me to pick up this week's movie. Sean Connery and Kevin Costner
turn in stellar performances in the 1987 big-screen remake of The
Untouchables. I actually got into an argument with a girl I was dating
over whether or not this movie was well-directed a few years later - who woulda
thought one could break up over that? (For the record, though, this movie is
most excellently directed by Mr. Brian de Palma.) There's also an
excellent soundtrack (about which you can read more in our recently-remodeled SongBook Soundtracks review.