Firefly 10th Anniversary Special: Browncoats Unite
Science Channel, Sunday Night at 10/9c
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we were introduced to the odd and unforgettable world of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. While its airing on the Fox network was more or less an inevitable death sentence, the show’s 14 episodes earned a die-hard fanbase just as devoted as any gathering of Star Wars or Star Trek fans. And what a strange trip it has been since then, with Firefly getting a movie no one would have expected and surviving via occasional comics and the fond memories of Browncoats everywhere. In the aftermath of his Avengers movie making $1.5 billion worldwide, Joss Whedon has been catapulted straight to Hollywood’s A-list, a strange thought for those of us who have been following him since the early days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Will Joss’ newfound Hollywood clout bring about the Firefly resurrection fans have been dreaming of for a decade? While we’re waiting for that question to be answered, Firefly fans have one more reason to celebrate their beloved and short-lived trip through the ‘verse: this Sunday night the Science Channel will air the Firefly 10th Anniversary Special. For those of us who weren’t at San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, it’s our chance to finally see the cast and creators together again, talking about their love of the show, the devotion of the fans, and what it’s all meant to their lives and careers. And whether we eventually get more Firefly or not, let’s be thankful that, even 10 years later, Firefly is such a huge part of the landscape of fandom that it actually merits a 10th anniversary special. Shiny.
Castle (ABC, 10:01/9:01c) – “The Final Frontier”
Why do we include Castle in our picks this week, but not others? Well, aside from always present SF icon Nathan Fillion in the title role, this week’s episode involves a murder at a science fiction convention. But that’s not all! Star Trek: The Next Generation vet Jonathan Frakes is directing the ep, and and both he and Deep Space Nine’s Armin Shimerman are putting in appearances. Overload!
Revolution (NBC, 10:01/9:01c) — “The Children’s Crusade”
What’s that? Charlie and Miles are disagreeing about whether to do something decent? We’re in the undiscovered country, people! Seriously, though, this season of The Walking Dead has raised the bar for post-apocalyptic drama in a big way. Revolution needs a “wow” episode, stat.
CHARLIE MUST CONVINCE MILES TO HELP A VILLAGE OF LOST CHILDREN – When Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) meets a boy who’s suffered a plight similar to her own, she relates and longs to help him and his young friends. First, she must convince Miles (Billy Burke). Meanwhile, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) grows weary of General Monroe (David Lyons) as she meets someone from her past.
“Apollo’s Outcasts” by Allen Steele
I’ve never read anything by Steele, but the book description reminds me of Heinlein’s “juvenille” books, and I mean that as very high praise.
Jamey Barlowe has been crippled since childhood, the result of being born on the Moon. He lives his life in a wheelchair, only truly free when he is in the water. But then Jamey’s father sends him, along with five other kids, back to the Moon to escape a political coup d’état that has occurred overnight in the United States. Moreover, one of the other five refugees is more than she appears.
Their destination is the mining colony Apollo.
Jamey will have to learn a whole new way to live, one that entails walking for the first time in his life. It won’t be easy and it won’t be safe. But Jamey is determined to make it as a member of Lunar Search and Rescue, also known as the Rangers. This job is always risky but could be even more dangerous if the new US president makes good on her threat to launch a military invasion. Soon Jamey is front and center in a political and military struggle stretching from the Earth to the Moon.
“Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” by Lois McMaster Bujold
Another entry in Bujold’s “Vorkosigan Saga,” the last of which was 2010’s Cryoburn, which was nominated for both a Hugo and a Locus Award.
GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD INTEL
Captain Ivan Vorpatril sometimes thinks that if not for his family, he might have no troubles at all. But he has the dubious fortune of the hyperactive Miles Vorkosigan as a cousin, which has too-often led to his getting dragged into one of Miles’ schemes, with risk to life and limb—and military career—that Ivan doesn’t consider entirely fair. Although much practice has made Ivan more adept at fending off his mother’s less-than-subtle reminders that he should be getting married and continuing the Vorpatril lineage.
Fortunately, his current duty is on the planet Komarr as staff officer to Admiral Desplains, far from both his cousin and his mother back on their homeworld of Barrayar. It’s an easy assignment and nobody is shooting at him. What could go wrong?
Plenty, it turns out, when Byerly Vorrutyer, an undercover agent for Imperial Security, shows up on his doorstep and asks him to make the acquaintance of a young woman, recently arrived on Komarr, who seems to be in danger. That Byerly is characteristically vague about the nature of the danger, not to mention the lady’s name, should have been Ivan’s first clue, but Ivan is no more able to turn aside from aiding a damsel in distress than he could resist trying to rescue a kitten from a tree.
It is but a short step down the road of good intentions to the tangle of Ivan’s life, in trouble with the Komarran authorities, with his superiors, and with the lethal figures hunting the mysterious but lovely Tej and her exotic blue companion Rish—a tangle to test the lengths to which Ivan will go as an inspired protector.
But though his predicament is complicated, at least Ivan doesn’t have to worry about hassle from family. Or so he believes . . .
“The Cassandra Project” by Jack McDevitt & Mike Resnick
It’s a team-up! Like when Superman and Batman beat the shit out of Strawberry Shortcake together! That never happened? That may just be a thing that I made up. At any rate, The Cassandra Project begins with an all-too-real premise: a NASA public relations director who feels like he’s the only one still passionate about space exploration…
Early in his career, Jerry Culpepper could never have been accused of being idealistic. Doing public relations—even for politicians—was strictly business…until he was hired as NASA’s public affairs director and discovered a client he could believe in. Proud of the agency’s history and sure of its destiny, he was thrilled to be a part of its future—a bright era of far-reaching space exploration.
But public disinterest and budget cuts changed that future. Now, a half century after the first moon landing, Jerry feels like the only one with stars—and unexplored planets and solar systems—in his eyes.
Still, Jerry does his job, trying to drum up interest in the legacy of the agency. Then a fifty-year-old secret about the Apollo XI mission is revealed, and he finds himself embroiled in the biggest controversy of the twenty-first century, one that will test his ability—and his willingness—to spin the truth about a conspiracy of reality-altering proportions…
“The Creative Fire” by Brenda Cooper
This one is described as “character-driven, social science fiction inspired by the life of Evita Peron.” As long as Madonna doesn’t make an appearance, I’m all for it.
Nothing can match the power of a single voice…
Ruby Martin expects to spend her days repairing robots while avoiding the dangerous peacekeeping forces that roam the corridors of the generation ship the Creative Fire. The social structure of the ship is rigidly divided, with Ruby and her friends on the bottom. Then a ship-wide accident gives Ruby a chance to fight for the freedom she craves. Her enemies are numerous, well armed, and knowledgeable. Her weapons are a fabulous voice, a quick mind, and a deep stubbornness. Complicating it all—an unreliable AI and an enigmatic man she met—and kissed—exactly once—who may hold the key to her success. If Ruby can’t transform from a rebellious teen to the leader of a revolution, she and all her friends will lose all say in their future.
Like the historical Evita Peron, Ruby rises from the dregs of society to hold incredible popularity and power. Her story is about love and lust and need and a thirst for knowledge and influence so deep that it burns.
They Live (Blu-Ray)
Below: pretty much everything you need to know about why you should buy They Live on Blu-ray.
The Neighbors (ABC, 8:30/7:30c) – “50 Shades of Green”
The Neighbors and Fifty Shades of Grey. Thanks a lot, ABC, you’ve managed to combine two things I do my very best never to think about. Jerks.
Nova: ScienceNow (PBS, 10/9c) – “What Are Animals Thinking?”
I’m presuming they’re looking for an answer more complex than “Squirrel!”
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8/7c) – “The Habitation Configuration”
As a general rule I can’t stand this show, but I mention it here solely to inform you that both Wil Wheaton and LeVar Burton will be guesting.
“Flash Point” by Nancy Kress
Sounds like another trip to the Running Man/Battle Royale/Hunger Games well. You’d think that well would have run dry by now.
Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America–and the fame game is on!
Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby–You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life–on and off camera.
Person of Interest (CBS, 9:01/8:01c) – “The High Road”
“Reese takes on an undercover assignment in a suburban neighborhood.” Damn it, this better not be a crossover with The Neighbors
Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) – “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There”
“A team member assumes a new role, while Walter searches for a vital object to help in the fight against the Observers.” I almost want to stop reading these synopses, because I’d love to finish up the season with no idea at all what’s coming. These are the sacrifices I make for you people!
Tron: Uprising (Disney XD, 7:30/6:30c) – “Grounded”
“The Renegade is challenged by Tesler to a showdown, but Beck is grounded at the garage by Able. The situation forces Beck to choose between his duty to Able and his responsibilities as the Renegade.”
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, 9:30 AM/8:30 AM) — “A Test of Strength”
“The younglings fight pirates with improvised traps after they’re attacked on their way home from Ilum.” I’m still not on board with that word. “Younglings.” Eh.
MythBusters (Discovery, 8/7c) — “Cannonball Chemistry”
“A mattress myth is examined; Kari, Tory and Grant conduct a cannonball test.” Could this be the episode that resulted in the ‘busters lobbing a cannonball into and through a suburban neighborhood? I’m pretty sure they promised never to use that footage, so they must have worked up the courage to investigate another cannonball-related myth. Hopefully nowhere near anyone’s houses.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9/8c) – “Say the Word”
How the hell do you follow up last night’s episode? I have no idea, but I’ll most definitely be tuning in to find out. “Rick struggles after experiencing another loss; Michonne has her suspicions about the Governor, who throws a party for the people of Woodbury, but gives it an unusual twist.”