Links du Jour: Own the Time Bandits’ map, Star Wars Chicken, and why is fantasy more popular than scifi?

Mystery

Fantasy

  • I haven’t given this much thought, so I’m curious to hear what other people think. The Sci Fi Catholic speculates that maybe the reason fantasy is more popular than sci fi these days is that science is moving ahead faster than science fiction writers can keep up. There might be some merit to that, but I’m thinking that it also could have something to do with Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Thoughts?
  • Ever wanted to own a replica of the map from Time Bandits? Got $100?

Science Fiction

  • It was darn near a year ago when they started talking about releasing yet another Director’s Cut of Blade Runner for this year’s 25th anniversary of the film. According to Joanna Cassidy (who played Zhora the snake dancer), they’ve even been reshooting some scenes from it. Shouldn’t be much longer now.
  • My first exposure to Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken was a Star Wars sketch I saw on YouTube. When I checked out the show, it was funny, but I kept wishing that they’d do more Star Wars. Wish granted.
  • The Sci Fi Channel has announced the premiere dates for some of their summer shows. The third season of Doctor Who starts July 6; their new Flash Gordon series premieres August 10th.
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Links du Jour: Drive cancelled, Flash Gordon DVD, and Steve Niles joins the Borg

Flash Gordon DVD coverMystery

  • That cool Lost episode about Nikki and Paulo a while back wasn’t the original intention of the writers, according to an Entertainment Weekly article. “Originally, the diamond-swiping crooks were to have anchored a winking arc of stories … But faced with mounting disdain toward the abruptly introduced characters — and ramped-up viewer frustration with the show’s aggressively enigmatic storytelling — the producers decided in December to telescope their ideas into a single kiss-off episode.” The article also quotes producer Damon Lindelof as saying, ”Back when we had more good faith with the audience, we could have gotten away with these shenanigans. Given the backlash against (Nikki and Paulo), we had to clean up the mess.” There’s other good stuff in the link too, like teasers for the final episodes of this season and a reminder that the rerun-free fourth season probably won’t start until January 2008. There’s also an interesting quote from producer Carlton Cuse about how Lost has always been “a cult show at heart” and how this season’s drop in ratings may just be indicative of its finding its real audience again.
  • I’ve had Crime and Punishment on my bookshelf for years, but have never taken the time to read it. Now is probably a good time because I’m a sucker for sequels to literary works. In the case of Mr. Timothy it was because I love the characters, but for The Gentle Axe (thanks to Bookgasm for pointing it out) I think it may be the writer’s hubris in even attempting it that I want to see.
  • Dammit! FOX cancelled Drive.

Science Fiction

  • I’m not ready to watch it yet, but I’ve been a little worried that when I finally get around to wanting to revisit the 1980 Flash Gordon movie, it wouldn’t be available. As of August 7th, I’ll be in the clear. And nice cover art by Alex Ross, by the way.
  • At the end of an interview about 30 Days of Night, Steve Niles reveals that he’s working on a Borg story for IDW’s Star Trek comics. I gotta hug whoever came up with that idea. (He also talks about having “a couple new things brewing with IDW and a certain artist,” which makes me itchy to know what “certain artist” he’s talking about.)

Superheroes

  • One of these days, I’m going to have to get around to thinking about why I like Mary Marvel so much. She’s an appealing character, but why do I like her more than the other Marvel Family members or Supergirl (in any incarnation, not just the current one)? In the meantime, Newsarama has a nice article about the history of the character.
  • Steve Bunche found a frightening still from The Man Who Laughs that’s pretty much inarguable proof that Conrad Veidt’s character was the visual inspiration for the Joker. You have to see it to believe it.

Drive

Anyone watching Drive on FOX?

It started a week ago with back-to-back episodes on Sunday night before they showed another episode in it’s regular timeslot the next night right before 24. Tonight will be the fourth episode, but you can catch up on the show’s MySpace page. (Apparently. I can’t access MySpace from work, so I’m taking their word for it.)

Anyway, I haven’t been this into a new show since Lost debuted. The Coolest Man in the Universe Nathan Fillion was the initial attraction, but there’s a lot more to love about the show than just him. As far as actors go, there’s also Charles Martin Smith (who played Oscar the accountant in The Untouchables), Dylan Baker (Dr. Conners in the Spider-Man movies), Richard Brooks (Jubal Early from Firefly), and Mircea Monroe (whom I’ve never seen before, but Holy Moley).

Spoilers from here down

The plot is sort of like Cannonball Run and The Amazing Race, but with way more thrills and suspense. Most of the story centers around Fillion’s character, a Nebraska landscaper named Alex Tully whose wife is kidnapped. He gets a phone call telling him to be in Key West by a certain time if he wants to see his wife again. When he shows up, he finds out that he’s been entered into a secret, illegal, cross-country race and the only hope he has of finding his wife is to win it.

At first I thought that all the racers must have been similarly coerced into racing, but it turns out that most of them are playing for a $32 million prize. For some reason, the race’s organizers specifically wanted Tully in the event. And by the third episode the plot thickens when we learn that he’s not just an innocent landscaper.

Although the plot focuses a lot on Tully and his partner in the race (a woman whose parents were killed in a similar race 27 years ago), it’s really an ensemble show with lots of people racing for different reasons. There’s a dying man who’s hoping to really live for the first time; a soldier who — thanks to his dishonest wife — doesn’t realize that he’s been recalled to duty and is now AWOL; a rich kid and the ex-con half-brother he never knew he had, who are both driving to tick off their politician father; and there’s the mom who’s trying to escape her abusive husband and whose baby may or may not have been kidnapped a la Tully’s wife.

Like any reality show, the contestants don’t know all the rules of the race. They’ve all got cell phones provided by the race’s organizers through which they receive clues and instructions. So, we’re trying to learn the race at the same time we’re trying to learn the characters and their secrets. There’s a lot to pay attention to and it makes for an exciting show.

Of course, it’s on FOX, so if it doesn’t become a smash hit by the tenth episode it’ll be cancelled, but I can’t help getting hooked on it. I’m hoping it becomes the next House or 24 rather than the next Justice or Firefly.