Doctor Who: Season 7
(Saturday, BBC One at 7:20pm; BBC America at 9/8c)
You might notice that our picks for this week peter out on Wednesday. That’s because the second half of the week is a virtual dead zone when it comes to cool SF stuff. It’s almost as if anything science fiction-y has scrambled to escape the path of some oncoming juggernaut of awesomeness. But what could that possibly be…? Perhaps something vaguely in the shape of a flying police box?
Yes, Doctor Who returns for its seventh season this Saturday, airing on the same night on both sides of the Pond. “Asylum of the Daleks” looks to be bringing a lot to the table, and by “a lot” I mean “a lot of Daleks.” An entire Parliament of them if we’re getting particular, and this time instead of trying to murderize the Doctor they seem to be…asking for his help?
“Asylum” will kick off a five-episode run that will wrap things up for the Ponds (and possibly not in a “happily ever after” kind of way, either). After that, the show will return to the timestream, not to re-emerge until it’s time for the Christmas special.
That may seem like far too few episodes for die-hard fans who have been waiting impatiently for the show’s return, but it’ll just have to do. The good news is that the episodes promise to be packed with goodies. Daleks! Weeping Angels! Dinosaurs on spaceships! Ben “Somebody give this man a regular series role for god’s sake” Browder from Farscape! Is it Saturday night yet? No, it’s not, but here’s our weekly list of groovy science fiction stuff to tide you over.
Alphas (Syfy, 8/7c) – “Alphaville”
Whedonite alert! There’s one more good reason to watch tonight’s Alphas, because the lovely and all-around badasss Summer Glau is guesting as a “tech whiz [who] helps Rosen learn the purpose of an Alpha-enhancing technology.” Make her a regular, dammit!
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9/8c) – “Fractures”
The warehouse agents have a close encounter with Wonderland: “The murderous spirit of Alice Liddell escapes after Lewis Carroll’s mirror is stolen from the warehouse.” Will there be a Jabberwock, my son?
Battleship (Blu-Ray & DVD)
The fact that Americans thumbed their noses at Battlship has restored a tiny sliver of my faith in humanity. The fact that, in spite of disappointing domestic business, it has still gone on to make $302 million worldwide…well, I can’t explain the European fondness for David Hasslehoff either. At any rate, Battleship hits Blu-ray and DVD today, so if you absolutely must watch it, at least wait until it hits the bargain bins.
“Bloodstar: Star Corpsman Book One” by Ian Douglas
Here’s a fun fact about Ian Douglas: he’s a pseudonym for writer William H. Keith, Jr. Back in 1999, Keith co-wrote a book called Diplomatic Act with actor Peter Jurasik…who played Londo Mollari on Babylon 5. This has been your daily installment of Six Degrees of Peter Jurasik. We now return you to your regularly scheduled synopsis:
In the 23rd Century, war is still hell…
Navy Corpsman Elliot Carlyle joined up to save lives and see the universe. Now he and Bravo Company’s Black Wizards of the interstellar Fleet Marine Force are en route to Bloodworld—a hellish, volatile rock colonized by the fanatical Salvationists who desired an inhospitable world where they could suffer for humanity’s sins. Their penance could prove fatal—for the Qesh, a strange alien race detected but still mysterious for six decades, have made violent first contact.
Suddenly countless lives depend upon Bravo Company—perhaps even the fate of homeworld Earth itself—as the Marines prepare to confront a vast force of powerful, inscrutable enemies. And one dedicated medic, singled out by an extraordinary act of valor, will find himself with an astounding opportunity to alter the universe forever…
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Jim Carrey stars in the trippy tale of a man who decides to erase all memory of his ex…and then changes his mind. Sunshine is getting a new Blu-ray release as part of Universal Studios’ 100th anniversary celebration.
Fringe (Amazon Prime)
If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you get free access to a decent catalogue of streaming films and TV shows, including Fox’s brilliant mad-science show, Fringe. If you start now, you might just be able to get through the four previous seasons before the show’s fifth season premiere on September 28th.
“The Highest Frontier” by Joan Slonczewski
This one is being compared to Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels (Have Space Suit — Will Travel, Tunnel in the Sky, etc.), and that alone is enough to get my attention. This might be one to suggest to any young SF fans in your life. Here’s the synopsis:
In the 22nd Century, Jennifer Kennedy, the shy and tongue-tied counterpoint to her charismatic brother Jordi, is left stunned when Jordi drowns in a flood brought on by advanced climate change. Bereft and fearful, Jenny departs Earth to enter her freshman year at Frontera College, based in the world’s first permanent and self-sustaining space habitat.
In a future when the deadly microbes that caused AIDS and anthrax have been modified to power elevators and cure disease, Jenny just wants to study and play slanball in peace. But as the endless war on the ultraphyte, an invasive alien organism, rages on, Jenny begins to notice that things aren’t quite right—not with her socially disabled roommate, nor at the college, nor in American politics. An accidental discovery reveals that “ultra” has infiltrated to shocking levels of society. Reluctant as she is to enter the spotlight, Jenny must step up to save her school, her country, and the world.
Neil Armstrong documentaries (History Channel)
The History Channel will be honoring the late Neil Armstrong by airing documentaries about the heroic astronaut all day long. How will alien-astronaut enthusiasts cope with that break in programming?
Stargate SG-1 (Amazon Prime)
Netflix subscribers who were in the midst of watching any of the Stargate series found themselves up the creek without a wormhole when Netflix yanked Stargate a couple of weeks ago. If you happen to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, however, you can stream all episodes of Stargate SG-1 and its two spin-offs Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe.
Starship Troopers: Invasion (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Set in the same continuity as Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and the lesser-known sequels, Invasion has the writer (Edward Neumeier) and star (Casper Van Dien) on board as executive producers, but not in the roles they filled on the earlier films. So the characters of Johnny Rico, Carl Jenkins, and Carmen Ibanez return, but voiced by different actors. And none of this has anything to do with the Starship Troopers reboot currently in the works. Here’s the official synopsis:
A distant Federation outpost Fort Casey comes under attack by bugs. The team on the fast attack ship Alesia is assigned to help the Starship John A. Warden stationed in Fort Casey evacuate along with the survivors and bring military intelligence safely back to Earth. Carl Jenkins, now ministry of Paranormal Warfare, takes the starship on a clandestine mission before its rendezvous with the Alesia and goes missing in the nebula. Now, the battle-hardened troopers are charged with a rescue mission that may lead to a much more sinister consequence than they ever could have imagined….
“Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi #7: Conviction” by Aaron Allston
I’m waaaaay out of touch with the byzantine Star Wars Expanded Universe continuity, so I’m just going to leap straight into the synopsis for this one, which releases a paperback version today. Suffice to say, there are some Jedi involved:
Chief of State Natasi Daala has been overthrown, and the Jedi Order has taken control of the Galactic Alliance. But while the new governors dismantle Daala’s draconian regime, forces still loyal to the deposed official are mobilizing a counterstrike. And even the Jedi’s new authority may not be enough to save Tahiri Veila, the former Jedi Knight and onetime Sith apprentice convicted of treason for the killing of Galactic Alliance officer Gilad Pellaeon.
Meanwhile, Luke and Ben Skywalker are relentlessly pursuing Abeloth, the powerful dark-side entity bent on ruling the galaxy. But as they corner their monstrous quarry on the planet Nam Chorios, the two lone Jedi must also face the fury of the Sith death squadron bearing down on them. And when Abeloth turns the tables with an insidious ambush, the Skywalkers’ quest threatens to become a suicide mission.
Super 8 (Netflix)
If you missed J.J. Abrams’ ode to all things Spielbergian, Super 8 has just been added to Netflix’s streaming catalogue.
The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season (Blu-Ray & DVD)
With The Governor and Michonne joining the show, not to mention covering one of the bleakest storylines from the comics, season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead is primed to make us forget how much time we spent on that damn farm. In the meantime, if you’re curious to see if it plays better when the episodes are watched back-to-back, you can pick up the second season on Blu-ray and DVD today. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to get your hands on one of these gruesome suckers.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) – “31st Century Fox/Naturama”
The show reaches its mid-season finale with Bender being hunted after saving a robotic fox. He even becomes the subject of a nature documentary!
Ghostbusters #12 (IDW Comics)
It’s still even odds if we’ll ever actually get a Ghostbusters 3. If you’re suffering lack of good feelings caused by ‘bustin’, check out IDW’s ongoing Ghostbusters series. It picks up after the movies and the tie-in videogame and has been consistently fun over the course of its short run. This issue concludes the “Haunted America” road trip the guys have been on for a few issues now.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who – Assimilation2 #4 (IDW Comics)
Also from IDW, universes continue colliding in this high-profile crossover, now reaching the halfway point of its eight issues. The Cybermen and the Borg have united in an unholy alliance, and the only thing that could save the day is a partnership between the Doctor and Captain Jean-Luc Picard!