Category Archives: Television

REVIEW: Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture

Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture ©2012 McGraw Hill Professional, all rights reserved.

This past weekend, over 130,000 people descended on the San Diego Convention Center to take part in Comic-Con 2012. Each year, a growing amalgamation of costumed super heroes, comics geeks, sci-fi enthusiasts and die-hard fans of more mainstream entertainment pop culture mix together to celebrate and share the popular arts. Some are there to observe, some to find future employment and others to do business, as beautifully depicted in this year’s Morgan Spurlock documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. But Comic-Con San Diego is more than just a convention or a pop culture phenomenon. It is a symbol of the big business that comics and transmedia pop culture has become. It is a harbinger of future profits in the entertainment industry, which often uses Comic-Con to gauge buzz about releases and spot emerging trends. And it is also a cautionary tale for anyone working at the intersection of television, film, video games and publishing about the meteoric rise of an industry and the uncertainty of where it goes next. We review Rob Salkowitz’s new book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, an engaging insider perspective on the convergence of geekdom and big business.
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New Comic-Con Documentary Celebrates Fandom and The Rise of the Geek

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope poster and all film stills ©2012 Wreckin Hill Entertainment, all rights reserved.

Every July, hundreds of thousands of fans descend upon the city of San Diego for a four-day celebration of comics, sci-fi, popular arts fandom and (growingly) previews of mainstream television and film blockbusters. What is this spectacular nexus of nerds? Comic-Con International, of course! From ScriptPhD’s comprehensive past coverage, one can easily glean the diversity of events, guests and panels, with enormous throngs patiently queueing to see their favorites. But who are these fans? Where do they come from? What kinds of passions drive their journeys to Comic-Con from all over the world? And what microcosms are categorized under the general umbrella of fandom? Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock attempts to answer these questions by crafting the sweet, intimate, honest documentary-as-ethnography Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. Through the archetypes of five 2009 Comic-Con attendees, Spurlock guides us through the history of the Con, its growth (and the subsequent conflicts that this has engendered), and most importantly, the conclusion that underneath all of those Spider-Man and Klingon costumes, geeks really do come in all shapes, colors and sizes. For full ScriptPhD review, click “continue reading.”
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REVIEW: Wide ‘Awake’: New Sci-Fi Series Takes on Sleep Science

Awake, and all images and screenshots, ©2012 NBC Universal, all rights reserved

As far back as last summer, when pilots for the current television season were floating around, a quirky sci-fi show for NBC called Awake caught our eye as the best of the lot. Camouflaged in a standard procedural cop show is an ambitious neuroscience concept—a man living in two simultaneous dream worlds, either of which (or neither of which) could be real. We got a look at the first four episodes of the show, which lay a nice foundation for the many thought-provoking questions that will be addressed. We review them here, as well as answering some questions of our own about the sleep science behind the show with UCLA sleep expert Dr. Alon Avidan.
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Interview: Michio Kaku and The Physics of the Future

Physics of the Future images and all content ©2011 Doubleday Publishing.

Dr. Michio Kaku recently consolidated his position as America’s most visible physicist by acting as the voice of the science community to major news outlets in the wake of Japan’s major earthquake and the recent Fukushima nuclear crisis. Dr. Kaku is one of those rare and prized few

who possesses both the hard science chops (he built an atom smasher in his garage for a high school science fair and is a co-founder of string theory) and the ability to reduce quantum physics and space time to layman’s terms. The author of Physics of the Impossible has also followed up with a new book, Physics of the Future, that aims to convey how these very principles will change the future of science and its impact in our daily modern life. (Make sure to enter our Facebook fan giveaway to win a free copy this week!) Dr. Kaku graciously sat down with ScriptPhD.com’s physics and astronomy blogger, Stephen Compson, to talk about the recent earthquake, popular science in an entertainment-driven world, and his latest book. Full interview under the “continue reading” cut.
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REVIEW: ‘The Science of Battlestar Galactica’

"The Science of Battlestar Galactica" ©Wiley Books and NBC Universal, all rights reserved.

Battlestar Galactica is one of the defining, genre-changing science fiction shows of its, or perhaps any, time. The remake of the 1970s cult classic was sexy, sophisticated, and set a new standard for the science fiction shows and movies that will follow in its path. In addition to exploring staple concepts such as life, survival, politics and war, BSG reawakened its audience to science and its role in moral, ethical, and daily impact in our lives, especially given the technologically-driven era that we live in. “Writers were not allowed to jettison science for the sake of the story,” declares co-executive producer Jane Espenson in her foreword to the book. “Other than in specific instances of intentionally inexplicable phenomena, science was respected.” In an artful afterword, Richard Hatch (the original Apollo and Tom Zarek in the new series) concurs. “BSG used science not as a veneer, but as a key thematic component for driving many of the character stories… which is the art of science fiction.” The sustained use of complex, correct science as a plot element to the degree that was done in Battlestar Galactica is also a hallmark first. This is the topic of the new book The Science of Battlestar Galactica, newly released from Wiley Books, and written by Kevin R. Grazier, the very science advisor who consulted with the BSG writing staff on all things science, with a contribution from Wired writer Patrick DiJusto. Now, for the first time, everyone from casual fans to astrophysicists can gain insight into the research used to construct major stories and technology of the show—and learn some very cool science along the way. Our review of The Science of Battlestar Galactica (and our 100th blog post!) under the “continue reading” cut.
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PODCAST: Science Careers in Entertainment

The quirky and fun, if unrealistic, laboratory of Dr. Walter Bishop on the sci-fi television show "Fringe." ©20th Century FOX, all rights reserved.

So ya wanna work in showbiz, eh kid, but all you’ve got is an astrophysics degree and the glint of stars in your eyes? Even five years ago, such a notion would have been unthinkable. Not only has sci-fi traditionally been regarded as a niche segment across all media markets, research into scientific accuracy and integrity, let alone in-house science advisors, were nonexistent. Today, with science content proliferating every year in mainstream film and television, and with sci-fi movies grossing better than ever at the box office (two of the biggest hits of the last six months were Inception and TRON: Legacy), careers for scientists in entertainment are more sought out than ever. ScriptPhD.com Editor/Creative Director Jovana J. Grbić and Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist/renowned television science advisor Kevin Grazier recently spoke at an Emory University career panel geared towards aspiring science advisors and consultants. We kick-start 2011 with podcasts of both talks. We hope you find inspiration, ideas, and that this year is one of immense success for all of our readers, collaborators and clients.
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PODCAST: Professor Brian Cox and the ‘Wonders of the Solar System’

Our solar system, a true wonder to behold! Image © NASA, all rights reserved.

“I think we’re living through the greatest age of discovery our civilization has ever known,” declares British physics superstar Professor Brian Cox as a preamble for each episode of The Science Channel’s BBC import Wonders of the Solar System. Episode by episode, Dr. Cox deconstructs our wondrous Universe one focus at a time—the Sun, the Big Bang, life on other planets. But he does something even more important. He infuses his own obvious enthusiasm and passion for his field in each experiment and factoid. As a viewer, you can’t helped but be absorbed in the intergalactic vortex of knowledge. The timing of this mini-series and emergence of Cox’s exuberant personality could not be better. Funding for NASA missions has been cut dramatically, with an ongoing re-evaluation the role space exploration should play in the national budget and science ambition. American viewers should get used to Cox as a modern-day Carl Sagan, because his star is rising fast. ScriptPhD.com was extraordinarily fortunate to sit down with Dr. Cox in Los Angeles for a one-on-one podcast about the show, the current state of space exploration, and what is possible to achieve experimentally if we only try. My conversation with the inspirational, eloquent and brilliant Brian Cox, along with our review of Wonders of the Universe, under the “continue reading” cut.
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Comic-Con 2010: Day 3

Street signs adorning the City of San Diego for Comic-Con 2010

Day 3 was Star Wars Day at San Diego Comic-Con International and we have something shocking to report, ladies and gentlemen. We did not see a single light saber, not one! Since we almost incurred an unfortunate eye injury last year due to an overenthusiastic Jedi, this was most welcome relief. For ScriptPhD.com, today was all about science and technology. In a day that could not have been more tailor-made for our website, we enjoyed panels with the eminent sci-fi television writers of today discussing writing for genre TV (a must-read for any aspiring TV writers out there!), a visit from the greatest science fiction writer in the history of science fiction, Ray Bradbury, a preview of next season’s sci-fi show The Event, and a panel on how exactly shows like CSI “tech” out with gadgets galore. Oh, yes, did we mention we got to hang out privately with the MythBusters?? With the help of our intrepid reporter Bryy Miller, we bring you the most complete Comic-Con coverage on the web. Plus, our Costume of the Day, after the “continue reading” cut!
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Comic-Con 2010: Day 2

Day 2 of Comic-Con is over and now, the Convention is really underway! Today’s ScriptPhD.com coverage has a heavy focus on television, and sci-fi television to be specific. Really, is there any other kind? We spent time in the press room with the stars and producers of SyFy Channel hits Caprica and Stargate Universe, our favorite geeky physics show Big Bang Theory and the exciting (first-time ever!) Comic-Con Discovery Channel unveiling of their new scripted series Reign of the Dinosaurs. As always we try to pay hommage to the roots of Comic-Con with coverage of the design tricks behind comics and graphic novels. Additionally, we provide pictorial documentation of the costumes and happenings of the Con, and our Day 2 Costume of the Day. Complete coverage under the “continue reading” cut.
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Comic-Con 2010: Day 1

Greetings from sunny San Diego, everyone! ScriptPhD.com is in the absolute epicenter of sci-fi, comics and the illustrative arts: Comic-Con 2010. Armed with a press pass, our wonderful correspondent Brian Stempien of Lefty Films, and an industrial-sized vat of Purell, we are proud to bring you four-day coverage that spans the nexus of sci-fi, graphic arts, design, technology, film, television, and of course, the forum that started it all, comics. Day 1 coverage includes an array of panels covering the origins that drive an artist’s imagination, the future of cultural arts in a digital age, the future of space exploration with Iron Man’s Stark Industries as a model, good sci-fi, bad sci-fi, sci-fi that will change your life, and a conversation with two leading visionaries of the sci-fi genre, J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon. ScriptPhD.com also got to chat with the stars and producers of our favorite forensics show, Dexter. Plus, we have a little secret teaser interview with a certain MythBusters star that we’ve been teasing for a good while now! As we always do at Comic-Con, we pick our Costume of the Day as part of our compete Day 1 coverage, under the “continue reading” cut.
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