The biggest threat to mankind may not end up being an enormous weapon; in fact, it might be too small to visualize without a microscope. Between global interconnectedness and instant travel, the age of genomic manipulation, and ever-emerging infectious disease possibilities, our biggest fears should be rooted in global health and bioterrorism. We got a recent taste of this with Stephen Soderberg’s academic, sterile 2011 film Contagion. Helix, a brilliant new sci-fi thriller from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, isn’t overly concerned with whether the audience knows the difference between antivirals and a retrovirus or heavy-handed attempts at replicating laboratory experiments and epidemiology lectures. What it does do is explore infectious disease outbreak and bioterrorism in the greater context of global health and medicine in a visceral, visually chilling way. In the world of Helix, it’s not a matter of if, just when… and what we do about it after the fact. ScriptPhD.com reviews the first three episodes under the “continue reading” cut. Continue reading REVIEW: “Helix”→
Day 2 of Comic-Con is over and now, the Convention is really underway! Todays 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. Continue reading Comic-Con 2010: Day 2→
ScriptPhD.com is extraordinarily proud to present our first ever Science Week! Collaborating with the talented writers over at CC2K: The Nexus of Pop Culture and Fandom, we have worked hard to bring you a week’s worth of interviews, reviews, discussion, sci-fi and even science policy. We kick things of in style with a conversation with Professor Malcolm MacIver, a robotics engineer and science consultant on the SyFy Channel hit Caprica. While we have had a number of posts covering Caprica, including a recent interview with executive producer Jane Espenson, to date, no site has interviewed the man that gives her writing team the information they need to bring artificial Cylon intelligence to life. For our exclusive interview, and Dr. MacIver’s thoughts on Cylons, smart
No one has been more excited about the premiere of Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica than ScriptPhd.com. We eagerly joined the cast and crew of both shows last May during their joint panel at the Los Angeles Paley television festival. We were also one of the first sites to review the Caprica 2 hour pilot. And now, at long last, one of the most anticipated sci-fi prequels ever will premiere on the SyFy Channel this Friday. ScriptPhD.com’s Bryy Miller reviews the first three episodes and talks about the show’s early conceptualization and long-term promise. We are also extraordinarily fortunate and proud to bring you an Editor’s interview with series executive producer and show runner Jane Espenson, in which she talks about what we can expect from Caprica. Please click “continue reading” for full content.
It seems like we just can’t seem to stop saying goodbye to Battlestar Galactica. Perhaps the defining science fiction show of my generation, BSG’s post-finale swan song has included a bevy of cast appearances, an issue of the complete series on DVD and Blu-Ray, a recent Bryan Singer-helmed feature film announcement, and now, an upcoming two-hour television movie event. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan takes viewers on a journey of the events that transpired two weeks before the Cylon colony attacks, and their subsequent war with the humans, all from the Cylons’ viewpoint. Compiled with a combination of new footage and key plot highlight clips over the course of the show’s run, The Plan is designed to be the ultimate retrospective with a different perspective. ScriptPhD.com review + trailer under the “continue reading” jump. Continue reading REVIEW: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan→
Greetings from hot, humid, Atlanta! Im thrilled to be able to provide Dragon*Con four-day coverage on behalf of ScriptPhD.com. Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the United States. I will be bringing you my take on the panels and events, with tons of coverage of Battlestar Galactica‘s final year of significant presence and panels, but with also incorporating some of Dragon*Cons science and skeptic panels and other exciting happenings as much as possible. As during ScriptPhD.com’s coverage from Comic-Con there will also be a daily Dragon*Con costume of the day. Full coverage under the “continue reading” jump. Continue reading Dragon*Con Coverage→
Greetings from sunny San Diego, California! The geekiest of the geeky have gathered at this oceanside oasis for a non-stop four day celebration of comics, television, film and gaming. As Comic-Con gets underway, we here at ScriptPhD.com hope that our comprehensive coverage gives you a slice of the action (especially pertaining to our forte, science and technology in entertainment) and that through our words and pictures, you feel as though you achieved Nerdvana right here with us. Today’s coverage kicks off with Warner’s highly anticipated motion comics panel, where they debuted world premieres of several motion comics and rounded up top talent in graphic novels to atlk about the direction of modern comics. From there, we will segue to some Battlestar Galactica nostalgia, courtesy of Richard Hatch’s popular yearly panel. This year was devoted solely to fan questions! Our press room coverage of popular shows Psych and Burn Notice will quell your burning curiosities about what’s in store for those shows, and we end the day with Discovery Magazine’s panel Mad Science: The Science of Science Fiction (co-sponsored with the Science and Entertainment Exchange), including writers from Fringe, Eureka and much, much more. We also have our first ScriptPhD.com Comic-Con Costume of the Day, a complete pictorial roundup on our Facebook page and insider interviews gallore from your favorite writers and actors! To read Day 1 coverage, please click “continue reading”. Continue reading Comic-Con 2009: DAY 1 Coverage→
Remember earlier this summer when ScriptPhD.com covered the Battlestar Galactica cast and crew’s appearance at the Paley Television Festival and promised you a very special look at the science of Battlestar in commemoration of the DVD box set release July 28th? Well, when we promise something, we deliver. ScriptPhD.com was proud and extraordinarily fortunate to sit down with Dr. Kevin Grazier, the man who made the FTL drive and Galactica’s space endeavors possible. In a candid, thorough interview, we talk about the physics of BSG, the inside secrets behind some of your favorite moments from the show, answer burning fan questions and address some of the controversy surrounding the series finale. Honest, witty, and informative, this is an interview you don’t want to miss! To read it, click “Continue Reading”. Continue reading The Brains Behind Battlestar’s Science: A Conversation With NASA’s Kevin Grazier→
From Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore and writer Michael Taylor comes an exciting new science fiction thriller, the two-hour special TV movie event Virtuality. “Our goal was to tell a story outwardly very different from Battlestar Galactica,” Moore explains, “but similar in its intent to explore the human character in an extreme setting.” In this case, the extreme setting is the outer border of previously explored space aboard the modern, self-sustaining spacecraft Phaeton. Helmed by intrepid, determined Captain Frank Pike (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the original goal was a 5 year exploratory mission to look for intelligent life beyond Earth. Early into their mission, however, the 12-person crew learns that due to the catastrophic effects of environmental ravages and global warming, Earth will become completely uninhabitable in 100 years. They are humanity’s last hope to seek out another planet deep in the cosmos capable of supporting life. A perilous slingshot around Neptune will lengthen the mission to 10 years, and propel Phaeton towards the distant star Epsilon Eridani in search of a new home. But as the ship nears the point of no return, the crew must decide whether to retreat home to Earth or thrust deeper into outer space, and the unknown, to answer the ultimate question: go or no go?
Psychological impacts of long-term missions in constrained environments have been limited to two years or less. To assuage the crew emotionally during their extended mission, and to provide the only source of privacy aboard Phaeton, they are provided with virtual reality head modules, with which they may realize any fantasy or simulated environment. Some people become rock stars, climb the Himalayas, enact Civil War battles; others recreate the family they left behind on Earth. But the technology remains imperfect, unexplored, especially in relation to the human mind. Present throughout the virtual worlds is a malfeasant, mysterious green eyed man (Jimmi Simpson), whose existence and motivations remain unclear. Does the avatar represent a virus, the inner conflict of each individual’s sublimated psyche, or a sabotage of the mission by a larger force? No one is certain. The presence of this escapist alternative universe, and the turmoil experienced therein by the crew of 12, raises important psychological and technological quandaries. What is real? A virtual “affair” between Captain Pike and a married crew botanist (Sienna Guillory)? A virtual rape? Virtual mental torture, whether self-imposed or at the hands of the green-eyed man? Says Moore, “It’s in this nexus of reality and “virtuality” where our characters’ shared and private worlds collide that we intended to find the drama of the show.”
Indeed, Virtuality bears several trademark Ronald D. Moore stamps: great science, terrific characters, and humanity-driven conflict and desperation. While Battlestar Galactica’s primary science angle focused on Cylon artificial intelligence, in Virtuality, astrophysics, geology and astrobiology take center stage. Especially pertinent amidst NASA’s recent exploratory missions, the Phaeton module employs top of the line physics to propel itself to far reaches of outer space, while self-contained greenhouses and laboratories analyze evolutionary life origins and biological compositions of space. Colorful characters abound on the Phaeton crew, including lead navigator/designer with a painful past Jules Braun (Erik Jensen), aggressive, self-destructive pilot Sue Parsons (Clea DuVall), paraplegic, self-doubting co-pilot Jimmy Johnson (Richie Coster), gay couple Val Orlovsky (Gene Farber) and Manny Rodriguez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) providing an infusion of hope and optimism, and married astrobiologists Kenji Yamamoto (Nelson Lee) and Alice Thibadeau (Joy Bryant) debating the pros and cons of raising a child aboard the confined ship. Compounding the stress and importance of Phaeton’s mission are your basic everyday problems: the ship’s only doctor (Omar Metwally) has Parkinson’s Disease, there aren’t enough medical supplies to sustain a ten-year mission, an escalating conflict of personalities and strategies between Captain Pike and his co-pilot, and the rampant obliteration of Earth by natural disasters. As he did in Battlestar, Moore does an exemplary job of using the scientific questions of our time as a platform to probe deeper into the meaning of life, humanity, and the ethical limits of an imminent fight for survival.
The most attractive aspect of Virtuality is how hip, modern and current it feels. With sleek, bright sets, fast-paced camera action from director Pete Berg, and gorgeous computer generated imaging of outer space and the virtual reality scenes, the show departs visually from the austerity that is often a sci-fi staple. It is also a shrewd, tongue-in-cheek satire about our obsession with “celebrity” against the backdrop of an all too plausible environmental reality here on Earth. The action aboard the Phaeton is being broadcast back on Earth as the most popular reality show of all time, “The Edge of Never,” being seen by billions every week. Orchestrated by Dr. Roger Fallon (James D’Arcy), whose simultaneous roles as reality show producer and on-board psychologist come into conflict, the show combines the drama of Earth’s impending doom and the search for other habitable planets with our modern televised voyeurism. Hosted by the well-meaning but invasive Billie Kashmiri (Kerry Bishé), the show meticulously follows every facet of the crew’s quotidian existence, complete with ubiquitous cameras throughout the ship, Big Brother-style confessional rooms, and manufactured conflict to entertain the masses. Combining Star Trek and The Hills, Virtuality adds yet another layer to the confounding question of what is real, what is virtual, and where the twain shall meet. All of this action and philosophy culminates in a shocking surprise twist that you will never see coming. It will test the sense of trust and camaraderie aboard the vessel, raise questions about the boundaries of escapism in a virtual world, and put in danger the crew’s psychological capacity for their ten-year mission in outer space.
As wonderful and suspenseful of a setup as the VirtualitypilotTV movie is, it does not necessarily augur well for its prospects of a series pick-up. It was not announced as a part of Fox’s upcoming fall schedule (a schedule brimming with scientific content such as Fringe, Dollhouse, Bones, House and Lie to Me), but Ronald D. Moore has not ruled out the possibility, saying that “Fox executives have never said “It’s over”” and that the two-hour movie had always been designed as a pilot. Nevertheless, despite their long history of fascination with science fiction, FOX has also managed to prematurely cancel some of its brightest gems in the genre, including Space Above and Beyond, Wonderfalls, and Firefly. So if you are passionate about Ronald D. Moore’s shows, and the presence of sophisticated, complex sci-fi that explores important existential questions, watch Virtuality on Friday night, and then get vociferious and get involved. Never underestimate the power of bloggers and fans to effect change. At last year’s Comic-Con, I personally witnessed the inception of pre-emptive petitions to rescue Dollhouse, which had not even aired a single episode. The result? It’s been renewed for a second season. If you like the show, write to FOX. Who knows? You could help turn Virtuality into a reality.
The Virtuality 2-hour movie premieres this Friday night, June 26th, at 8 PM ET/PT on FOX.
Incidentally, coming in July, we will be interviewing Dr. Kevin Grazier, the brilliant physicist who has acted as science advisor on Virtuality, Battlestar Galactica, and Eureka as a part of our celebration of the release of the BSG series box set and Comic-Con 2009. Stay tuned!
I’m honored to be joining ScriptPhD.com as an East Coast Correspondent, and look forward to bringing you coverage from events in such exciting areas as Atlanta, Baltimore, and New York City – as well as my hometown of Washington, DC.
And to that end, here is a re-cap of the World Science Festival’s panel “Battlestar Galactica: Cyborgs on the Horizon.” For anyone interested in the intersection of Science and Pop Culture, I cannot promote this event enough. In addition to the panel I’ll be describing, some of the participants included Alan Alda, Glenn Close, Bobby McFerrin, YoYo Ma, and Christine Baranski from the entertainment sector. Representing science were notables like Dr. James Watson (who along with Francis Crick was the first to elucidate the helical structure of DNA), Sir Paul Nurse (Nobel Laureate and president of Rockefeller University), and E.O. Wilson (who is celebrating his 80th birthday in conjunction with the festival).