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Science Fiction’s Most Memorable Moments Of 2013 – Nick’s Picks

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With 2013 in its final hours, we decided to look back on the year that was, and remember the moments from science fiction TV and television that really stuck with us, that we’ll still be thinking of years from now. Needless to say…

SPOILERS BELOW!

OBlackOrphan Black’s “Variations Under Domestication”
From the very first scene, BBC America’s clone-centered Orphan Black instilled almost every moment of the series with mystery and suspense, with a healthy portion of dark wit sprinkled all around. It’s one of the most stellar first seasons of any series I’ve ever seen, and it definitely shined the brightest in the hilariously tense sixth episode, “Variations Under Domestication,” in which actress Tatiana Maslany solidified her position as one of the strongest performers of the year.

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Under The Dome Gets Reupped For A Second Season With Stephen King To Write The Premiere

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under the domeWell that’s one question answered. CBS will indeed bring it’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome back for a second season. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always kind of viewed it as an extended miniseries. After all, King is known writing books so big you could club a zombie to death with one, so it made sense that it would take 13 hour-long episodes to get through one (the book does clock in at over 1000 pages). The network, apparently, has longer-range goals in mind. The ratings have been great, so of course they want to keep that momentum going. In addition to another 13 episode run, Under the Dome will also have at least one high-profile guest writer, a little guy named Stephen King.

We heard rumblings that there could be more. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler says, “We’re excited to tell more stories of the dome and the secrets in Chester’s Mill, and are thrilled to have the master storyteller himself, Stephen King, tell the first one of next season.” I haven’t read the book, but can I assume that the fact that we’re getting a second season means that they don’t find a way out from under the dome?

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Stephen King On The Changes To Under The Dome’s TV Version

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DomeLast Monday, the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome premiered on CBS. While the series premiere has its fair share of problems (I want to kill that annoying Joe McAlister kid now!), Under the Dome shows a lot of promise. There’s a central mystery — the Dome — that will surely bring people back to CBS on Monday nights. But while the premiere did really well in the ratings, there is already some fan backlash about how writer Brian K. Vaughn and showrunner Neal Baer handled the book’s translation to the TV screen.

Stephen King, the author of the best-selling novel the TV series is based on, recently wrote a letter to his fans on his personal website, explaining his feelings about what was changed for the TV version. Apparently, some of King’s fans are not happy that the TV show is not exactly like the book. King writes:

Near the end of his life, and long after his greatest novels were written, James M. Cain agreed to be interviewed by a student reporter who covered culture and the arts for his college newspaper. This young man began his time with Cain by bemoaning how Hollywood had changed books such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. Before he could properly get into his rant, the old man interrupted him by pointing to a shelf of books behind his desk. ‘The movies didn’t change them a bit, son,’ he said. ‘They’re all right up there. Every word is the same as when I wrote them.’

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Under The Dome Blu-Ray Set Sets Blu-Rays Under The Dome

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dome setSome TV and movie projects seem to have their promotional material built in. Like the head-filled aquarium Blu-ray set for the third season of The Walking Dead. That was a total no-brainer. Somebody give me a rim shot after that one. No, a rim shot.

The same goes for CBS’ adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome. There are two ways you can market an Under the Dome Blu-ray set. You can either construct a temporary dome around every store where the set will be sold — which may offset any profits said set would offer — or you can just sell people an actual mini-dome. Hey, what do you know? They went the mini-dome route.

With all the early-bird glory they could muster, Amazon has already begun the pre-ordering process for Under the Dome‘s Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, which, as you can tell, is a representation of the trapped town of Chester’s Mill. It’s a pretty sweet-looking product, and reminds me of the dice poppers used in board games. (Do those still exist?) And while I like Barbie’s big, bloody handprint right on top, can you imagine how big that handprint would be if this were scaled out to size? That would be more frightening than a dome I think.

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Under The Dome Premieres To Huge Numbers

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under the domeI love the way TV programming has evolved in the last decade, with the quality of both regular and pay cable TV often surpassing that of the standard networks, and the baby brother Internet slowly becoming an unstoppable force where original projects are concerned. But again, that’s just about quality. When it comes to ratings, the networks still usually win out (though exceptions like AMC’s The Walking Dead have begun to wrangle away key demographics). Even primetime re-runs of The Big Bang Theory draw in more people than a lot of better shows out there. (That’s right, I said it!)

Following Monday night’s double dosage of Big Bang, CBS’ Under the Dome premiered to huge numbers, proving that Stephen King and savvy marketing are huge draws, even when the subject matter isn’t the most mainstream material. Of course, CBS mainstreamed the shit out of said material, and the script from comic genius Brian K. Vaughan was as corny and stereotypical as anything else on the network, but that’s what people are clamoring for these days. Not that the show was bad, necessarily; it would have been positively breathtaking had it come out at some point in the late 1970s.

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Cross The Streams: Under The Dome And To The Red Planet We Go

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Good streamvening, readers. I was away on vacation last week and wasn’t able to write a new installment of Cross the Streams, which was fine, since most streaming websites decided to give sci-fi releases a week off as well. In fact, I think they’re still on some kind of extended break, but we’ve got a handful of decent offerings for you guys, as well as a possible guilty pleasure or two. Of course, if you want to just skip all this and go watch The Avengers, which hit the streaming rounds in the past week, you’re more than welcome to. (Spoiler: the good guys win.)

under the dome
Under the Dome (CBS)
Even though the small-town drama of CBS’ Under the Dome relies more on character tension than straight science fiction, we’ve been anxiously awaiting this thing for months here at GFR, and CBS was kind enough to pull the pilot episode from beneath the dome for everyone to see. Since it just premiered this week, we’ll avoid going into spoilers here, but just expect some changes from Stephen King’s original novel. I mean, it would be stupid not to do that anyway, but I’m just saying. It seems like the only things getting stuck on when this show comes up is that it was in The Simpsons Movie, so hopefully that blindingly unoriginal non-argument can cease to be now that the show is actually on the air. And F.Y.I., Amazon Prime will also be hosting episodes four days after they air, just in case you didn’t want to give CBS your personal attention. (But always give show writer/comic creator Brian K. Vaughan — along with anything he’s involved with — your attention.)