Tag Archives: tv

‘The Expanse’ vs Syfy

The current third season of The Expanse will be the space drama’s last one on Syfy. The cable network has decided not to renew the show for a fourth season, with the last episode slated to air in early July. Alcon Television Group, which fully finances and produces the critically praised series, plans to shop it to other buyers.

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The Expanse is one of the most well reviewed sci-fi series on TV, with the current third season scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (vs. 95% for Season 2 and 76% for Season 1).

The cancellation decision by Syfy is said to be linked to the nature of its agreement for the series, which only gives the cable network first-run linear rights in the U.S. That puts an extraordinary amount of emphasis on live, linear viewing, which is inherently challenging for sci-fi/genre series that tend to draw the lion’s share of their audiences from digital/streaming.

Source: ‘The Expanse’ Canceled By Syfy After Three Seasons, Will Be Shopped | Deadline

After Dark Matter was cancelled last year, I really wondered if the Expanse would suffer the same fate. The cancellation has more to do with the set of deals Syfy made a few years ago when it was trying to get back into science fiction.

They wanted to get back on the map, but because they had been out of it for so long they mostly made deals where they bought the rights from a production company for television broadcast, but left the rest of it on the table. This let them get a full slate of shows more or less overnight, without having to foot the whole production cost for all of them. Fast forward 3 years, the sci-fi genre shows are doing really well, but mostly on the streaming / digital front. Syfy gets none of that. So their return on investment on those shows is pretty low compared to the shows they funded fully. In an attempt to up their ROI, they have been dumping the shows they don't own, to do new ones they do. Like Krypton.

It all makes sense in a spreadsheet, but sucks for fans of the genre. I'm hopeful that Alcon will find a new home for the Expanse because it really is one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen. And it massively rewards rewatching. There are still 8 more episodes of Season 3 yet to air. And it's been one of the best so far. So go buy and watch the Expanse on Amazon or iTunes to further nudge Alcon and any potential broads partners that it's worth their while to support it.

Continuum

I just finished Continuum, and it had one of the more satisfying series endings that I've seen in a while. Spoilers will be saved for a bit later. Seasons 1 - 3 are up on Netflix now, and Season 4 (which recently ended) will probably make it's way there later this year.

Continuum is about a set of time travelers that come back from 2077 to change the future. From the beginning it sets up an interesting set of axes. Our protagonist is part of a militant protection services body, chasing a set of terrorists called Liber8. Except those terrorists are what you'd recognize as people standing up for civil liberties and basic freedoms.

The first season is brilliant, and while it dips and weaves a little in season 2, season 3 and 4 pulled it back together for a solid ride.

Minor spoilers beyond this point, you've been warned.

In thinking back through the series, ever season folds over a new timeline on the ones before it. We end with a time travel event that causes a new twist in an interesting way. Apparently the creators originally had between 7 to 10 seasons worth of layers they were thinking about. The rather abrupt introduction of the time traveler at the end of season 3 and early in 4 definitely feels a little rushed, and something they would have held onto for another year or so if the end was not in sight.

But, at least they got season 4 to wrap it up. And while it felt like we were marching a bit faster, it didn't feel forced. Pacing was one of the things that Continuum was always quite good at. Time wasn't just the plot, it was also a key part of the art of this show.

If you are looking for good new Sci Fi, definitely give this one a shot. It stays quite true to itself to the end, and stays firmly on it's rails the whole time.

 

The Expanse

Early in January I found out that the SyFy channel has a new TV series coming this year, called The Expanse. It's a story that takes place 200 years in the future. Humanity has colonized Mars, which has become independent, and set up mining / science operations on a number asteroids and moons. It's all based on a series of books that started publishing in 2011.

I decided to not wait for the series to air, and dive in on the books. 4 have published so far, and they all follow a narrative style, where the chapters flip back and forth between different character's perspectives. The first book is two character perspectives, all the later ones are four. Some people that have distinctly small sub roles in early books become a main point of view later. The way it's done makes it feel like a rich environment, you'll never know when players will return in the future.

I've really enjoyed the series so far, can't wait for book 5 to come out this summer. There are lots of really neat ideas in the books so far. The time delays on communication throughout the solar system, and what that causes. The "spinning up" of Ceres and Eros to provide centripetal artificial gravity on the inside. The use of Ganymede as both a Farming Planet, and where all the Belters go to carry their children to term (because it has a magnetosphere). And many more really interesting ideas that provide spoilers to  the big story arc.

Definitely worth a read.  And check out the trailer below for this coming to TV later this year.

A new Cosmos

Even though I was only 4 at the time, Cosmos left a distinct impression on my when I was a kid. My path into science and engineering probably can be traced back to being filled with things like Cosmos and NOVA during my formative years by my parents, something made easier by the fact that PBS was one of only 3 channels we got over the air on our 13" TV.

A few years ago I watched through all of Cosmos again. There were things I remembered, things that I didn't. And, while certain things look dated, the material surprisingly holds up quite well. More importantly, it was still inspiring, and still held really interesting ideas to ponder.

So I am incredibly excited that we're going to get a new Cosmos this spring. The teaser for this was released at Comic Con this year and is amazing

I seriously can't wait. I love the fact that they kept the starship of the mind as part of this, and the cosmic calendar. And I love that this is going to be network TV, not hidden off in a specialty cable channel.

What I learned from the Revolution Pilot

What I learned from watching the Revolution pilot:

1. When the power goes out all planes immediately go into a flat spin and kill everyone in them, but cars nicely stop, and no accidents.

2. 15 years in the future no one has figured out how to make a steam engine or a windmill, but there are plenty of brand new skinny jeans, leather jackets, freshly pressed t-shirts, and hair product. The grand tradition of distilling is still alive though.

3. Bullets require electricity, so everyone is using muskets. Except pistols, those are fine.

4. There are giant old growth forests (with RVs in them) a couple days walk from Chicago.

5. Magically USB keys not only power computers after the crash, but also cause near by light bulbs to come to life. And apparently the ham community is still running and eagerly awaiting with their own magical USB key somewhere else eagerly typing at their keyboard.

Yes it's just a TV show, but there was so much laziness in the story telling that any promise of their being a real payoff to this story seems very low. The throw away "physics went crazy" is just a cop out to explain any of this stuff. That level of laziness means there never is going to be payoff on the actual story. And the characters are pretty flat. Having been along for the ride with Lost, and then getting the steaming pile that was the sideways universe in Season 6, I'm not giving J J Abrams the benefit of the doubt here.

For a much more interesting, and less intellectually lazy, take on what a post power fail future looks like, check out Jericho. The bonus being the pilot episodes end with basically the same scene in front of a computer.

Olympic Fever

The London games have swept me up in an Olympic Fever that I haven't had since Sydney (when I was there). The live extra streams (even with all there problems) take me back to being in the command center, with a bank of 16 screens all running live feeds off the venues. These are the same cameras, same floor coverage, with no commentary that I remember. The olympics raw. Love it.

That being said, the streaming has it's issues. There is the cable requirement, that made me bump my programming up by $15 for the month. Annoying, but not a big deal. Our $60 satellite bill this month is something I'd gladly pay fully for Olympic coverage.

Device support, is less cool. I've yet to get Linux working with their live streams. Given that it's all flash, that wasn't supposed to be an issue this time around. I did just get the Nexus 7, and the Samsung S3, both of which are streaming fine. As I write this I'm watching the women's bike race, in all it's raw glory.

But, NBC is making is difficult to get this raw form onto your TV. The live extra app doesn't work on Google TV. No Roku solution. So if you want streaming TV coverage you pretty much need to hook a full computer to it. The fact that MSNBC and NBC have been completely taken over for broadcast means we've got enough content to keep us busy, and can even fast forward through the fluff and commercials, but on principle I'd love to just have the road race up on the set instead of next to me on the Nexus 7.

And then there are the NBC chuckle heads, the ones that don't know who Tim Berners-Lee is. It is truly amazing how horribly ignorant they all are. My only consolation is that the rest of the world is watching BBC coverage, and not seeing NBC's american ignorance. After paying a couple billion dollars for these games, you'd think NBC would find more reasonable on air "talent".

I really wonder how this will evolve for 2016. The right steps were taken this time around, but there is still so much more potential here. Just imagine if NBC ran multiple commentaries on the opening games, user selectable. You could then have the kind of commentary you were looking for. My vote would be for Peter Sagal and John Hodgeman. And let me stream to my TV if I'm allowed to stream to my tablet.

So it's not all Unicorns and Rainbows, but for the first time since Sydney I did get to watch a Handball match, so I'm pretty happy.

Rewatching Buffy

Note: minor spoilers ahead, don't read if you care.

Susan and I are going through Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix instant, and just finished Season 3 last night. I haven't watched Buffy since it was first on, and Susan hasn't really ever seen much of it.

One thing that most sticks out to me is how the casting director managed to keep getting the same actors back as extras and bit characters over the years. The fact that Johnathan is seen wandering the hallways from quite early in the series, well before he gets speaking parts, is something I hadn't noticed before. I also really appreciate how gradually characters are introduced, Anya being a good example, and how organic that makes the whole show.

I also started laughing last night when they were investigating the "Volcanologist" office, which sets up one of my favorite scenes in all of Buffy.

Definition of SyFy

Definition:

  • Sci-fi Channel: Short for 'science fiction', it was a channel where old sci-fi shows were displayed for fans of science fiction, including classic movies, B and otherwise.
  • Syfy Channel: Short for 'syphilis for you', it is a channel where new sci-fi shows are created based on old sci-fi shows, retreaded and reassembled like crusty multi-colored play doh that is drying out. Also includes new movies where giant CGI animals are sent on a rampage after actors with no will to live (or act).

and a continued amusing rant with pictures at cracked.com.