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Adding to my TiVo, er, DVR

Here's something I'm adding to our DVR's list of things to record (we recently cancelled our TiVo and took up our cable company's DVR as it wasn't very compatible with the cable service here in ole Virginie): ABC's Masters of Science Fiction series. I've mentioned the series before, but now here's the skinny (via on the four eps they're running on consecutive Saturdays in August:
First up, at 10 p.m. Aug. 4, is "A Clean Escape," based on a short story by Nebula Award-winner John Kessel ("Another Orphan," "Buffalo"), written for TV by Emmy nominee Sam Egan ("The Outer Limits," "Jeremiah") and helmed by Oscar-nominated director Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond, For the Boys). A dying Dr. Deanna Evans (two-time Oscar nominee and double Emmy-winner Judy Davis; "Life With Judy: Me and My Shadows," Marie Antoinette) refuses to believe that her patient, Robert Havelmann (Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Sam Waterston; "Law & Order," The Killing Fields), cannot remember the last 25 years of his life. It remains unclear why she has been so obsessed with this particular patient until the final, shocking conclusion that may just have resonance with the current global crisis.

It's followed at 10 p.m. on Aug. 11 by "The Awakening," based on a short story by Howard Fast (Spartacus) and written and directed by Michael Petroni (The Dangerous Life of Altar Boys). It stars Emmy nominee Terry O'Quinn ('Lost," Stepfather) and Elisabeth Rohm ("Law & Order") in a story set in the middle of a ferocious firefight outside of Baghdad, where U.S. soldiers discover a mysterious body one that they can't even identify as human. Swiftly, all over the earth, more such creatures appear and begin to communicate. With this contact, the world is forced to choose between peace and destruction.

Next, at 10 p.m. on Aug. 18, is "Jerry Was a Man," from a short story by seven-time Hugo Award winner Robert A. Heinlein ("Stranger in a Strange Land," "Starship Troopers"), written and directed by Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Michael Tolkin (The Player, The Rapture). It tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Van Vogel (Golden Globe nominee Malcolm McDowell; A Clockwork Orange, "Heroes"; and Emmy nominee Anne Heche; "Men in Trees," John Q), a wealthy couple for whom pleasure is their only work; mundane or dangerous chores are done by anthropoids. Somehow, Mrs. Van Vogel's dormant compassion is awakened by an anthropoid named Jerry. What traits would prove that Jerry is, indeed, a man?

Rounding out the limited series at 10 p.m. on Aug. 25 is "The Discarded," which is based on a short story by seven-time Hugo Award winner, three-time Nebula Award winner and Science Fiction Grand Master Laureate Harlan Ellison ("A Boy and His Dog," "Star Trek"), written for the screen by Ellison and Oscar nominee Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and directed by Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: First Contact). It stars James Denton ("Desperate Housewives"), two-time Oscar nominee John Hurt (V For Vendetta) and Emmy and Tony Award-winner Brian Dennehy (Assault on Precinct 13, Cocoon) in a story of despised minorities forever adrift in the darkness of outer space. As a last resort born out of their loneliness and despair they are forced to make an ominous pact with those responsible for their plight, in the hope that they will finally be offered refuge at home on Earth.
So, why the fuss about sci-fi on a God-talk blog? As I've said before, the sci-fi genre often touches on relevent themes and issues regarding what it means to be human, which inevitably gets to themes of religion or faith--and that brings God-talk into open spaces. Some of my favorite films and novels are in this genre for that very reason (i.e., Bladerunner, Chronicles of Riddick, Battlestar Galactica and even the Brit's fabulous export Dr. Who). The Masters of Science Fiction seems to promise the same opportunities.

By the way, if you are a sci-fi fan, check out Mir's exposition on the Dresden Files novels (which have become some of our favorite reads as well).


Mirtika said…
It's a real shame that the Sci-Fi Channel decided to do DF as a tv show (and a bland, boring one at that) rather than do it right: a series of feature films for TV or miniseries. The sort of complex plotting and rising tension of the novels doesn't translate to a tv show of one hour.

Ah, well.

Maybe they'll cancel the show and do it right starting with, I hope. GRAVE PERIL.