The Hunger Games
(On Blu-Ray & DVD Saturday)
As many will be screaming in comments sections around the web this week, The Hunger Games is similar in storyline to the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale, both featuring casts of teenagers forced to fight to the death for society’s amusement. In the case of The Hunger Games, that ugly ritual is part of a post-apocalyptic future where the wealthy, powerful Capitol district rules over the 12 less-powerful districts with an iron fist. As punishment for rebelling against Capitol, each year one boy and one girl are chosen as “tribute” and forced to fight until only one teen remains. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers, not in hopes of the wealth and fame a victory will bring, but to protect her younger sister, who had been chosen by lottery to be one of the year’s contestants.
The first Hunger Games movie has brought in over half a billion dollars worldwide, so I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood has found their next Harry Potter/Twilight. And with mostly positive reviews for the flick, thankfully it sounds like the Hunger Games franchise will be more of the former than the latter. While I haven’t sampled either the film or the movie, I’m thrilled by anything that can get kids excited about reading these days. I’m doubly thrilled if the book in question is better than the Twilight novels (not a high bar to surmount, I grant you). Hopefully the Hunger Games, both film and novels, will inspire a few teens out there to venture deeper into the science fiction world and discover names like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ben Bova, Vernor Vinge, and others. In the mean time, hey, it’s a movie you can watch with your teenage daughter that won’t make you want to scoop your eyes out with a melon baller!
The Hunger Games hits Blu-ray and DVD this coming Saturday, oddly enough, with a midnight release happening in numerous places.
Alphas (Syfy, 10/9c) — “When Push Comes to Shove”
The team is on the heels of an unexpected target: their missing teammate, Nina. Why all the hubbub? It sounds like Nina may no longer have control of her powers. Ruh roh.
MythBusters (Discovery, 10/9c) – “Jawsome Shark Special”
Yes, it’s that time again. Discovery is once again celebrating their annual Shark Week, and the MythBusters are joining the fun and counting down their 25 favorite shark-related myths. For instance, it is absolutely impossible to get a shark to floss properly after every meal.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9/8c) – “There’s Always a Downside”
An artifact “threatens the life of a musician in New Orleans.” Is it a set of beads that kill you if you don’t flash people?
“Bullettime” by Nick Mamatas
The author of the intriguing Move Under Ground, which mashed up the Lovecraft mythos with Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac (you heard me), returns with his second novel. And this one sounds just as trippy. From Amazon:
David Holbrook is a scrawny kid, the victim of bullies, and the neglected son of insane parents. David Holbrook is the Kallis Episkopos, a vicious murderer turned imprisoned leader of a death cult dedicated to Eris, the Hellenic goddess of discord. David Holbrook never killed anyone, and lives a lonely and luckless existence with his aging mother in a tumbledown New Jersey town. Caught between finger and trigger, David is given three chances to decide his fate as he is compelled to live and relive all his potential existences, guided only by the dark wisdom found in a bottle of cough syrup. From the author of the instant cult classic Move Under Ground comes a fantasy of blood, lust, destiny, school shootings, and the chance to change your future.
Collection Intervention (Syfy, 10/9c) – “A Disturbance in the Force”
Syfy continues its bizarre metamorphosis into a network that shows nothing but vaguely SF-related reality programming. This time it’s a show focusing on fans who have taken their love to hoarding, house-buckling extremes.
“Crackpot Palace” by Jeffrey Ford
Ford, whose writings run the gamut from fantasy to science fiction to mystery, has packed this volume full of stories that are just as eclectic. Here’s the skinny from Amazon:
From the unparalleled imagination of award-winning author Jeffrey Ford come twenty short stories (one, “The Wish Head,” written expressly for this collection) that boldly redefine the world. Crackpot Palace is a sumptuous feast of the unexpected — an unforgettable journey that will carry readers to amazing places, though at times the locales may seem strangely familiar, almost like home. Whether he’s tracking ghostly events on the border of New Jersey’s mysterious Pine Barrens or following a well-equipped automaton general into battle, giving a welcome infusion of new blood to the hoary vampire trope or exposing the truth about what really went down on Dr. Moreau’s Island of Lost Souls, Jeffrey Ford has opened a door into a dark and fantastic realm where dream and memory become one.
Destination Truth (Syfy, 9/8c) – “Hanging Coffins/Kazakh Monster”
The show reaches its fifth-season finale, and the trailer boasts that the episode includes “the most compelling evidence” they’ve ever aired on the show. I’m presuming that means they got a sit-down interview with the aforementioned Kazakh Monster. He’s not that bad if you give him a chance and pick up the tab for dinner.
Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (DVD)
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) takes his companion, Ace, to a “Psychic Circus.” Given that Ace is deathly afraid of clowns, I’m sure nothing nasty will happen to them.
Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space — Special Edition (DVD)
Freshly regenerated, the third Doctor stumbles onto a mystery involving a crashed meteorite, a sinister doll factory, and the creepy Autons (more recent fans of Who will remember the walking mannequins from “Rose,” the first episode of Christopher Eccleston’s run as the Doctor).
Iron Sky (Blu-Ray & DVD)
In the final hours of World War II, some of the Nazis escaped to a place no one would think to look: the dark side of the Moon. No, not the Pink Floyd album, the actual dark side of the actual Moon. After 70 years of hiding and preparing, the Moon Nazis are headed back to Earth with conquest on their minds.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) – “Near-Death Wish”
Good news, everyone! Fry and Professor Farnsworth have some other relatives still kicking around! Specifically Farnsworth’s parents, who are coming out of virtual retirement on the Near-Death Star.
Saga #6 (Image Comics)
Comics maestro Brian K. Vaughn’s deeply weird, thoroughly addictive mash-up of science fiction and fantasy tropes continues, with Alana and her baby finally reaching the legendary Rocketship Forest. Yes, I said Rocketship Forest.
Star Trek 100-Page Spectacular Summer (IDW Comics)
The mega-sized issue packs in two different Trek stories, and clearly there’s no shortage of exclamation points in the future.
First, the crew of the starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, finds itself in a very unusual setting — in Embrace the Wolf! Plus, Captain Janeway, Seven of Nine, and the rest of the crew of the U.S.S Voyager have a close encounter of the Borg kind in False Colors!
Misfits (Logo, 10/9c) – “Episode Five”
Misfits continues to serve up superheroic drama and a stubborn refusal to include episode titles. Here’s what is going down this week: “Determined to prove that the gang were involved in Tony’s disappearance, Sally focuses her investigation on Simon. Meanwhile, Nathan becomes strangely infatuated with a baby he finds at the community center.”
Dark Matters: Twisted But True (Science, 10/9c) – “Creative Evil, Curiosity Killed Dr. Katskee, Bat-Bomb”
It’s the season finale for Dark Matters, and they’re taking a look at the infamous “Stanford Prison Experiment,” wherein it was scientifically proven that humans are really kind of a bunch of dicks.
Doctor Who: The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who (BBC America, 9/8c)
BBC America continues their run of Who-related specials with a look at the core idea of the show: time travel. Assuming it was possible in the first place, would time travel be anything like the version we’ve seen in Doctor Who? (Hint: probably not.)
The Nerdist: Tribute to Time Travel (BBC America, 10/9c)
Sticking with the time-travel focus, Nerdist host Chris Hardwick and company celebrate the Doctor’s shenanigans through the centuries.
Falling Skies (TNT, 9/8c) — “A More Perfect Union”
Another season finale, this one for TNT’s alien-invasion drama, which has been taking a few steps toward greatness this season with plot twists involving the aliens’ motivations and a civil war amongst their ranks. Will the finale find Falling Skies finally living up to its potential? Either way it’s already been renewed for a third season, so they’ve got at least one more season to hit their marks and join the pantheon of great science fiction shows. Here’s what to expect:
When skitters approach the newly combined resistance force, the groups’ interaction surprises everyone. Meanwhile, Tom finds out life-changing news just as the 2nd Mass comes face-to-face with their most dangerous threat to date.