Streaming TV Show of the DAY : Star Trek CONTINUES

ep2-scene

I’ve covered quite a few fan projects on this blog, some really exceptional ones. Among the best are those related to the Star Trek universe. STAR TREK CONTINUES is a web series that the term fan project does a bit of a disservice to.

This is a full fledged production as smooth and polished as the Original Star Trek series that it revives. Not simply a homage this web series continues the unfinished five year mission of the original series (which was cancelled after three seasons). STAR TREK CONTINUES conceit is that it starts off in the 4th (never seen) season of The original Star Trek.

And going along with this conceit, STAR TREK CONTINUES first episode PILGRIM OF ETERNITY, before watching you really should watch the season two episode of the original series, titled WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS. STAR TREK CONTINUES premiere episode is a direct follow-up to that 1967 episode, complete with the actor who played in that episode, reprising his role here.

You’ll have so much more appreciation for exactly how wondrous STAR TREK CONTINUES is, if you precede it by watching that 1967 episode. You’ll also have a far better understanding just how excellent Vic Mignogna is, largely the driving force behind this labor of love, in his role as the iconic James T. Kirk. Vic Mignogna has Shatner’s Kirk down to an alchemy, it’s not science, it’s magic.  From the walk, to the pauses, to the lift of the chin, to the way he sits, this isn’t mimicry, or mockery, it is acting of a very high and compelling level.

lolani-poster

Vic Mignogna understands and loves the role, and that comes across, as does his passion and expertise for the original series. Wearing an insanely impressive number of hats from director, to editor, to writer, to producer, to star, Vic Mignogna has put together an impressive production and a large and varied cast.

From Christopher Doohan reprising, excellently I might add, his father’s role of Mr. Scott, to Kim Stinger doing a lovely Uhuru, to Michele Specht ravishing in her role as new character Dr. Elise McKennah, to the towering 84 year old Michael Forest (with many movie and tv credits to his name) reprising and bettering his 1967 performance of Apollo, it is a series that would have made Gene Roddenberry proud, and makes this fan of Roddenberry’s endearing dream…  incredibly impressed and happy.

Now not everything works of course. Not all the actors do as well a job of bringing to life their characters as the above actors do. But considering everyone is largely doing this for the love, the general level of performances is fantastic, and the costumes, and makeup, and sets and special effects and writing is jaw droppingly good quality! Every bit professional level. Hell, this show is easily better than most of the post-DS9 Star Trek television shows that Paramount paid small fortunes to produce.

Now I like the JJ Abrams STAR TREK movies, I think they both were fantastic. That said, I think there is a place in this digital world, for Chris Pine on the big screen, and Paramount backing the STAR TREK CONTINUES series and having Vic Mignogna on the small screen.

Okay enough praising this series. Go watch the 1967 episode WHO MOURNS FOR ADONAIS courtesy of Amazon Prime for free, then go to the STAR TREK CONTINUES website to view the existing three episodes. If you have Roku, you can go to the Vimeo Channel here for an easy way to view it on your tv.

And once you are as impressed with the series as I am, help them keep it up by swinging by their web page and sharing the love and donating; so that you can help keep this great project coming! And tell em HT sent ya! 🙂

Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

THEATER REVIEW: CSC’s Movable Shakespeare’s RICHARD III

“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.”
― William Shakespeare, Richard III

There is no shortage of villains in the oeuvre of the writer known as William Shakespeare. From the machinations of Hamlet’s Uncle-cum-Father who puts Hamlet ‘too much in the Sun’, to the deviousness of Othello’s ‘trusted’ Iago, to the bloody, eye-plucking Cornwall in King Lear, but none are so ever quotable, and perhaps as eminently watchable as Richard III, who is of such expanse in his villainy that he is the star of his own self-titled play, rather than just a player in another character’s tale.

And this comes to life in florid detail in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s unique production of RICHARD III. Directed by Ian Gallanar, one of the CSC’s founders, RICHARD III is presented in a ‘movable’ style that puts the audience, truly in the heart of the action and makes them mute(and not so mute) chorus to this tale of treachery and tragedy.

Taking place in the ‘haunted’ ruins at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, Maryland, beneath the stars and the eyes of God, it is truly a presentation to remember. Particularly on a good, clear fall night (which we were blessed to see it on) with the wind picking up just a little, and showering Richard III with leaves, almost on queue, as he woos a man’s widow over his corpse. Ay, it’s a great thing, when the heavens provide your special effects.

And the whole play went thus, as a crowd of over 100, moved from picturesque room or steps or courtyard, moved from scene to scene, and watched actors of talent and temper… a tale unfold.

And before getting into the actors, a bit more on the setting.

Ellicott City is a 30 square mile area, more loose community than incorporated sub-division, that traces its history back to its founding as a Flour Mill back in 1772 by Quaker Brothers named Ellicott. Nestled in the Baltimore-Washington bosom, the area is rumored to, like Rome, be built on seven hills.

So this is no concrete jungle or ‘great white way’ for your theatrical experience, it is a beautiful and languid tree-lined drive, followed by a pretty spooky uphill walk to make the (typically) 8pm showing, that takes place in the Grecian tinged ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute.

So that is the stage, not New York, or Charlotte, or DC or LA, but the woodlands of Ellicott City; and the PFI Historic Park is a stage worth traveling to see.

Now for those who prance upon that stage.

While there are many strengths to an outdoor production, there are also obvious weaknesses. There are minor moments of congestion and confusion inherent in herding a hundred people to and fro, and that very act of going in and out of the ‘reality’ of the play, perhaps can limit how engrossed the viewer can get into the play.

However I think the immediacy of being ‘in’ the play, and viewing that closely the actors and interacting in their space, compensates for any loss of concentrated immersion in the piece.

However one other weakness of an outdoor production, is the sound. Without the acoustics and sound system of a real theater the actors have to project to be heard, particularly should the weather pick up. Some actors were better at doing this than others. Some actors needed to project better. And some actors were stellar.

The word stellar has to be kept close to the name Vince Eisenson who stars as the titular Richard the IIIrd. He has, as expected, to carry much of the play, much of the language, much of the energy. It is a ponderous role to undertake, and Eisenson manages not just to suffer the weight of the role, but to carry it as if he was born to it.

Part of this may have to do with his youth, but more than that Eisenson’s Richard is a far more vibrant and lively Richard, no less tortured than other actors who have portrayed the character, but there is a sophistication there, a deft touch to his portrayal, that eschews mustache twirling, that makes the character’s ability to charm and deceive, more believable here.

Also of note is the performance of Associate Director Scott Allan Small, as he makes the role of Buckingham, that I think can often come off as no more than a yes man, into one of the formidable figures of the play. He particularly just shines in the scene where he mixes with the audience as he ‘attempts’ to get Richard to accept the crown.

Also the scene where Buckingham draws the line at the slaying of children, and demands his due of Richard, I thought was just played beautifully between the two actors of Eisenson and Small. The physicality of how they played that role, with Buckingham played as the brick wall in that scene (like Marvel Comics’ Kingpin transplanted to Shakespeare), against Richard’s flowing water, that seeps into the brick… and breaks it all to pieces.

And the CSC performance is filled with such capable actors, among them Dave Gamble, Greg Burgess, and Jamie Jager in a passionate performance as Richmond. Another highlight scene is with Ron Heneghan delivering a very captivating performance as the imprisoned Clarence; it takes place in a fireplace dominated prison opposite equally entertaining performances by Bart Debicki as Brackenbury (the lieutenant of the tower) and the actors playing his assassins (Rebecca Dreyfuss and Jared Murray).

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and recommended production, by a theater company I do not think you would be wrong, in calling world class. And this is typified by the fact that the last few performances of their RICHARD III (ending the weekend of this writing) are all sold out.

But don’t mourn too much, if moved by this review to sample the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the future and will be visiting the East Coast, 2013 brings new CSC productions of Shakespeare’s classic plays, among them ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

And If RICHARD III is a gauge, both shows will be much labored over in their construction, and much loved in their delivery.

Accolades go out to communications Director Sandra Maddox Barton for all her assistance, in making this review possible.

News of the Day!

Confirmed: US and Israel created Stuxnet, lost control of itYeah, so those viruses you’re getting? Courtesy of your tax dollars at work. Nice.

Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise In 20 YearsThis person maybe more than a bit over-ambitious and slightly insane. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂 . How about something simpler buddy, an effective and affordable alternative energy car so I can stop spending a fortune on petrol? 🙂

Google dealt blow in book scanning lawsuitI have this whole despise, defend, despise thing going on with Google. I think monopolistic companies are bad, and Google is a bit too omni-present and in everybody’s business for my liking. The bastard killed my favorite search engine! (See my rant on Scroogle).

That said I think Android and their defense and support of it, is one of the most hopeful pieces of news to come out in years. And I see Android as a defense against the entrenched proprietary monopolies of Microsoft and Apple. And as a public domain advocate, I think public domain books should be readily available, where Google is getting in hot water is they were perhaps overzealous in digitizing works no longer in public domain. And a few authors are seeking a payday. Should be an interesting case.

Between Microsoft, and Oracle, And Apple, and just about every other billion dollar company in the world suing Google, I’m actually starting to feel sorry for them. Mainly because I don’t want to see Android go away, or get crippled with licensing fees to alleged software patent holders. But yeah, end of the day, it will be interesting.

New concerns over safety of arsenic in drinking water First sign of a corrupt, despotic government… lack of trust in the utility companies. Namely local Water treatment plants for your municipality. Hence the boom in people buying bottled water, because we don’t trust our government to deliver safe, pure, clean drinking water to our taps.

That’s all the News you can use for now. 🙂

Movie Review: Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS 2012

Movie Review: Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS 2012

Well today I got the chance to see Tim Burton’s 23rd feature film, DARK SHADOWS. Starring Tim Burton’s actor of choice Johnny Depp, the film is a humor tinged send-up of the long running Gothic soap opera of the same name, DARK SHADOWS.

Rather than go for the Gothic horror element of the original, Tim Burton instead crafts a horror tinged comedy set in the 70s. There’s more of TEEN WOLF in this film than of THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

Add a soundtrack laced with the popular songs of the 70s, that seemingly has nothing to do with the film in question, some broad humor that misses rather than hits, and some groan inducing product placement (MCDONALDS, WHEETIES, MS. BUTTERWORTH all three product placements wasted on me, since I don’t like or purchase/patronize any of those) and you have a film that doesn’t exactly scream… hit.

That said, it’s innocuous enough, and works its way eventually to a satisfactory if unremarkable ending.

It’s not a movie you’re going to consider much if at all when you leave the theater, and in that way it’s like more than a few Burton films. I think both Burton and Depp together have gotten into this habit of making films of a type, with Depp playing these increasingly buffoonish and foppish characters, set in fairytale worlds that are variations on a, possibly, overused theme.

But these are the films Tim Burton likes to tell, so you get what you get. However for my tastes when Tim Burton tries to play it straighter and more serious, as in films such as BATMAN and SLEEPY HOLLOW, is when his films are at the most effective.

Also Johnny Depp is too fine an actor to continually play nothing more than the outlandish fool in successive Burton roles, I would love to see him play a role straight, or explore a character without winking at the audience. Watching Depp in these Burton roles is often like watching a sharp blade continually and purposely… being dulled.

I think DARK SHADOWS would have benefited from more Gothic and less comedy. But we have what we have. And even in a weaker effort, Tim Burton’s set design and visuals are always cinematic feasts.

So DARK SHADOWS isn’t necessarily a bad movie, it’s just not one I would suggest paying to see in the theater, or even being in a hurry to catch on rental, unless you’re a Burton fan, then by all means. But for the rest of you, DARK SHADOWS is a film you can afford to leave… in the shadows.

Grade: C-.

AVENGERS vs PEPSI vs MICHAEL JACKSON?? Star forced to continue dancing after his death??!!

Okay so on this big AVENGERS day, what could bump the AVENGERS from the top spot on my blog? Would you believe a dead Michael Jackson?

Okay it has recently been announced that Pepsi bought the use of Michael Jackson’s image from his estate.

It reads:

“On Thursday [3 May 2012], Pepsi announced a deal with the late King of Pop’s estate that allows the brand to use his image for its new global marketing push.

READ: Will Michael Jackson Be Back in Hologram Form?

According to PepsiCo, the nature of the promotion will vary by country, but will include a TV ad, special-edition Pepsi cans featuring Jackson’s image and chances to download remixes of his biggest hits.

Pepsi’s chief creative officer, Brad Jakeman, said the broader Live for Now campaign took 10 months to develop and its aim is to amplify the company’s strong ties with pop culture.”— Eonline

I am not a fan of Pepsi to begin with, high-fructose corn syrup filled muck, but this… this is something scummy… even for them. It’s like the John Wayne and Fred Astaire commercials. Or the recent CASABLANCA footage, co-opted into an ad… it’s an abomination and a violation.

An image isn’t something like a car or a house, like talent it is not something that can or should be bequeathed from or to someone else, not something to be sold.

His estate sold his image???

An image, like talent, is not the estate’s to sell. And it is not Pepsi’s to buy.

If at any time you had called yourself a fan of Michael Jackson, either the boy star, or the teen phenomenon, or the young adult superstar, or even the confused/tragic/and beleaguered but no less talented Hughsian adult he left this world as, then honor him by letting Pepsi know your displeasure with their 21st century digital slavery plans.

How do you let a multi-billion dollar company know you’re not happy? You cut into their bottom line.

You stop giving them money.

In Pepsi’s case it means finding alternatives to the following:

Pepsi-co Assets:

Frito-Lay
Gatorade
Quaker Oats
Tropicana
Elma Chips (Brazil)

Products[1]

Breakfast Bars
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
Quaker Chewy Granola Cocoa Bars
Quaker Dipps Granola Bars
Quaker Fruit & Oatmeal Bars
Quaker Life Bar
Quaker Oatmeal to Go Bars
Coffee Drinks
Seattle’s Best Coffee
Starbucks DoubleShot
Starbucks Frappuccino
Starbucks Iced Coffee
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Dr. Pepper
7up
Squirt
A&W Root Beer
Canada Dry
Crush
Hawaiian Punch
Deja Blue
Diet Rite
Country Time (Under license from Kraft Foods)
Gini
Hires
IBC Root Beer
Orangina (Only owned by Pepsico everywhere else Suntory owns it)
Welch’s (Under license from Welch’s)
Peñafiel
Margaritaville
Mistic
Mr. & Ms. T
Mott’s
Nantucket Nectars
Nehi
RC Cola
ReaLemon
Rose’s Lime Juice
Schweppes
Snapple
Stewart’s Fountain Classics
Sun Drop
Tahitian Treat
Venom Energy Drink
Vernors
Yoo-hoo
Energy Drinks
AMP Energy
No Fear Energy Drinks
Rockstar Energy
SoBe Energy Drinks
Cap’n Crunch Cereal
King Vitaman Cereal
Kretschmer Toasted Wheat Germ

Quaker Life Cereal

Mother’s Ready-to-Eat & Hot Cereals
Quaker Essentials
Quaker Grits
Quaker Instant Oatmeal
Quaker Natural Granola Cereal
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
Quaker Oh!s Cereal
Quaker Puffed Rice
Quaker Shredded Wheat Cereal
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal
Quisp Cereal
Other
AMP Energy Gum
Aunt Jemima Mixes & Syrups
Quaker Baking Mixes
Rice Snacks
Quaker Large Rice Cakes
Quaker Mini Delights
Quaker Quakes
Quaker Tortillaz
Side Dishes
Near East Side Dishes
Pasta Roni Side Dishes
Rice-A-Roni Side Dishes
Snacks
Baked! Cheetos Snacks
Baked! Doritos Tortilla Chips
Baked! Lay’s Potato Crisps
Baked! Ruffles Potato Chips
Baked! Tostitos Tortilla Chips
Baken-ets Pork Skins and Cracklins
Cheetos Cheese Flavored Snacks
Chester’s Flavored Fries
Chester’s Popcorn
Cracker Jack Candy Coated Popcorn
Doritos Tortilla Chips
El Isleno Plaintain CHips
Frito-Lay, Fritos, and Tostitos Dips & Salsas
Frito-Layngh Nuts & Seeds
Fritos Corn Chips
Funyons Onion Flavored Rings
Gamesa Cookies and Wafers
Grandma’s Cookies
Hickory Sticks
Hostess Potato Chips
Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
Lay’s Potato Chips
Lay’s Stax Potato Crisps
Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips

Meat Snacks

Maui Style Potato Chips
Miss Vicky’s Potato Chips
Munchies Snack Crackers
Munchies Snack Mix
Munchos Potato Crisps
Natural Cheetos
Natural Lay’s
Natural Ruffles
Natural Tostitos
Nut Harvest Nuts
Rold Gold Pretzels
Ruffles Potato Chips
Sabritones Puffed Wheat Snacks
Santitas Tortille Chips
Smartfood Popcorn
Smartfood Popcorn Clusters
Spitz Seeds
Stacy’s Pita and Bagel Chips
SunChips Multigrain Snacks
Tostitos Artisan Recipes Tortilla Chips
Tostito’s Tortilla Chips
Soft Drinks (original Pepsi brands)
Diet Pepsi
Diet Mountain Dew
Diet Sierra Mist
Mountain Dew
Mug Soft Drinks
Pepsi
Pepsi Max
Mirinda
Sierra Mist Natural
Sports Nutrition
Gatorade G Series Prime 01
Gatorade Thirst Quencher – G Series Perform 02
Gatorade G Series Recover 03
Gatorade G2
Gatorade Natural
Gatoradgfne G2 Natural
Gatorade G Series FIT Prime 01 Pre-Workout Fuel
Gatorade G Series FIT Perform 02 Workout Hydration
Gatorade G Series FIT Recover 03 Post-Workout Recovery
Gatorade G Series PRO 01 Nutrition Shake
Gatorade G Series PRO 01 Nutrition Bar
Gatorade G Series PRO 01 Carbohydrate Energy Formula
Gatorade G Series PRO 02 Endurance Formula
Gatorade G Series PRO 02 Perform Gatorlytes
Gatorade G Series PRO 03 Protein Recovery Shake
Gatorade G Series PRO Prime +
Gatorade G Series PRO Recover +
Water Products
Aquafina
Aquafina FlavorSplash
Propel Zero
SoBe Lifewater

Long list, but considering I don’t eat corn chips or most corn based products or msg or any modified corn-starch laced products, or drink high-fructose filled beverages (ie stuff not known for its health benefits); it’s incredibly easy for me to avoid everything on this list.

Only stuff I was getting was occasionally Tropicana and Aquafina and now that I know they are owned by Pepsi, I can definitely do without them.

And no, I’m not suggesting this boycott of Pepsi because I’m a Michael Jackson fan. It’s about more than that.

I haven’t been a music follower for a while, or heard anything by Michael Jackson in a while, but I respect that a man’s image, not his likeness (ie caricature, or drawing, or performance) but a man’s actual image, is not something to be owned by another man. This country has an unresolved history with trying to own what is not theirs to own.

Utter nonsense, you say. Utter fiction.

Unfortunately we live in a time, where technology is every day making of our fiction… facts.

This precedent set, can affect any actor, any person. Robert Downey Jr or Jeremy Renner or Samuel L. Jackson sold by their estates after their deaths; to speak lines or support causes or candidates they would have never done in their life.

Isn’t that a violation, for anyone?

For you, and you, and you over in the corner?

And because they are actors it should be no less a violation. You offer not your soul, when you offer a performance.

You do not lose… the rights of man.

Except Pepsi says… perhaps you do.

So Pepsi should be reminded of the… tactlessness of their plan.

The products above… stop purchasing them.

Ingredients wise, you’re not going to be missing much, as they are labeled junk food for a reason.

And I would love to know the money grubbing member of Jackson’s estate who got rich, selling the image, and no doubt if they could, the soul of Michael Jackson to the highest bidder.

Send a message, that there is such a thing… as decency, as propriety.

Send a tweet, or email (or whatever you kids do) to Pepsi, saying…”boycotting you because of Michael Jackson ad plans.”

Let them know.

Let them all know.

That there is such a thing, as the rights of man.