The Orville : Episodes 3 & 4

It’s been a while but I am finally back to my review of the episodes from The Orville. Episode number 3 is one of my fav scifi episodes of all time. It is just wonderful the way they spun the story.

When Dr. Finn refuses Bortus and Klyden’s request to have their daughter undergo sex reassignment surgery, which is standard practice for Moclans on the very rare occasions when a female is born, the parents petition Mercer to order the procedure. Mercer refuses, as he (and the rest of the crew) object to performing such a procedure on a healthy infant, so Bortus and Klyden arrange to have the procedure performed on a Moclan vessel. Gordon and John change Bortus’s mind by showing him Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but Klyden still wants to proceed, revealing that he was born female.

The case is arbitrated on the Moclan planet, Moclus, where Grayson represents Bortus; she casts doubt on the idea of male superiority by demonstrating that Alara is physically strong and Gordon is stupid. Ed locates a female Moclan of advanced years, Heveena, who testifies that she lived a happy and fulfilling life in seclusion, and reveals that under the pseudonym “Gondus Elden”, she has become an esteemed novelist on Moclus. But Klyden and the tribunal are unconvinced, and the baby undergoes the surgery. Despite their disagreement, Bortus and Klyden are committed to one another and to giving their son, Topa, a good life.

Talk about a deep subject in the midst of the comedy. This is scifi tv at it’s best, using a futuristic setting to talk about humanity’s issues which are happening now and have happened before and will probably still continue. The way it ended, sad for me, was brilliant – if the Moclan had come to the decision to not have the baby undergo the sex change operation to turn it into a male, it would have been cheesy and predictable. The ending was touching and realistic. Very good writing. This episode is a perfect 10 for me, considering that the show is basically a spoof.

The Orville encounters a huge, 2000-year-old derelict ship drifting into a star. Mercer, Grayson, Kitan, Finn, and Isaac enter, discovering an artificial biosphere and a civilization of 3 million who worship an entity called Dorahl, and do not know they are on a ship. Grayson is held prisoner by their theocratic dictator Hamelac, who imposes a death penalty on “Reformers” who believe anything exists beyond the known world. While Bortus takes the Orville to save a colony ship from a Krill attack, Grayson’s crewmates rescue her and lead a group of Reformers to the alien ship’s bridge.

An ancient recording from Captain Jahavus Dorahl (a surprise cameo by Liam Nesson) reveals that it was a generation ship disabled by an ion storm. Isaac initiates repairs and opens the hull’s window, enabling the populace to see stars for the first time, moving even Hamelac. Mercer makes arrangements for the Union to train the people to operate their ship. Meanwhile, Klyden is frustrated that Bortus’s duties leave him little time for family.

This type of storyline has been done before in Star Trek yet the context is still done well. No doubt a dig at totalitarian regimes, religious dogma and societies unwilling to change, this is also Scifi at it’s best. And they kept the comedy to a lesser degree in an episode in which Alara is seriously injured and in which Kelly is captured and tortured. The Liam Neeson appareance threw up for a loop. Expecting more such surprises and oh we are getting a hot super star in the next episode. A 7 outta 10 for me.

Star Trek : Discovery – The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For The Lamb’s Cry

With an awesome title, I had hoped that episode 4 will be just as awesome in it’s delivery as well. It was pretty good but I felt that it didn’t match upto the previous episode. And also, they kill off the Indian female connection in the show. Bad Star Trek!

Episode Synopsis:

Lorca assigns Burnham to study the creature from the Glenn to find a way to use its biology as a weapon. Starfleet orders Discovery to relieve the dilithium mining colony of Corvan II which has come under Klingon attack. Stamets is reluctant to make such a long jump using the spores, and when the drive is activated the ship nearly collides with a star. Commander Landry is sent to keep the research on track, and attempts to sedate the creature to cut off its claw, but it escapes and kills her. Burnham approaches the creature with a spore cannister and it remains calm. Noticing the creature’s reaction to the jump and its symbiotic relationship to the spores, Stamets and Burnham transport the creature to Engineering, where it connects to the drive and calculates the navigation coordinates, allowing the ship to jump to Corvan and save the colony. On T’Kuvma’s flagship, Voq and L’Rell scavenge the dilithium processor from the Shenzhou. On their return, Klingon commander Kol has convinced Voq’s crew to mutiny and exiles him to the Shenzhou to die. L’Rell transports aboard and tells him they can win the war themselves.

Faced with the unenviable task of recusing the miners of Corvan II is the big challenge for the crew of the Discovery. As Lorca notes, if the planet fell to the Klingons or got destroyed then a lot of Starfleet’s dilithium supply would be lost. The closest ship was 84 light years away so Lorca’s quest to use the spores and the mega-tardigrade to get the spore drive online and reach the planet in time to fend off attacking Klingon ships.

The thing I hated about this episode was the rather dumb choice that Commander Landry did – one of the demands Lorca had for Michael and Landry was to figure out how to weaponize the tardigrade’s talons or whatnot, since the animal received no damage from Klingon weapons. Letting the creature loose and then trying to stun it did not go down well. She was attacked and mauled to death. Killing off my Indian connection to the show pissed me off, though I kinda knew that her role would not last long.

Stamets gets a talking down from his captain, who clearly hates him and boy is the feeling mutual. In front of his mate, Dr. Hugh Culber, Lorca berates his officer to the point of us feeling sad for this character. Stamets didn’t sign on for war and looking for ways to win at war – he came on to peacefully explore and study. But in a time of war, especially with such a formidable enemy as the Klingons, all exploration and pursuit of science for knowledge goes out the airlock and science is used to make weapons or make weapons more efficient. In this case, also to speed up the ship’s transport.

With Voq’s leading T’kuvma’s people on the ship which requires repair and them starving as their supplies run out, his stubbornness about scavenging the Shenzhou for power has put his followers at even greater risk. A rival Klingon name Kol from the House of Kor, takes advantage of the situation and taunts Voq – is that a little racism I hear – and brings food and supplies to the rest of the ship. L’Rell too seems to have abandoned Voq as she sides with Kol but after the albino is beamed abroad the Shenzhou to starve to death, she secrtely beams herself in as the other leave.

She tells him that she did it to save him; the deception as all to keep Voq alive so she could transport him to the matriarchs of her clan. With them, Voq can learn everything he needs to know about leadership. But he’ll have to give up everything. At the end of the episode, Michael learns that she has been willed Captain Georgiou’s family heirloom, an old telescope that she clearly cherished.

What is in store for Voq, Burham and the Discovery’s crew. I have become so entranced by this show – despite it’s flaws and all – and want to know more and more.

Star Trek : Discovery – Context Is For Kings

Episode 3 is the actual pilot for the show because episodes 1 & 2, as a two parter, serves as a prologue to Discovery in a way. We finally get the see the ship in question and which shares it’s name with the title of the show.

Episode Synopsis:

Six months into her sentence, Burnham is on an unexpected prison transfer when an emergency forces her shuttle to be rescued by the USS Discovery. Spending several days on the ship, Burnham is ordered by its captain, the mysterious Gabriel Lorca, to assist with a scientific assignment. Burnham overhears Lieutenant Paul Stamets, an astromycologist who is leading the assignment, discuss an upcoming experiment with a colleague serving on another starship; Lorca is soon informed of an incident on the Discovery’s sister ship, the USS Glenn, that has killed the entire crew. Stamets leads a boarding party to investigate and finds the dead crew hideously twisted and malformed, as well as a group of Klingons killed by an unknown creature. Lorca later asks Burnham to work for him, despite her sentence, explaining that he organized the circumstances that led her to him so she could help develop a new way to fly that could win the war she started by killing T’Kuvma. He also secretly has the creature transported aboard the Discovery.

A shell of her former self Burnham is a defeated figure having accepted her fate and her imprisonment. She is though still a badass and takes no nonsense from two of the prisoners who seem to want to attack her as family of one of the prisoner’s were killed in battles with the Klingons. The shuttle carrying her and three other prisoners being attacked by a space spores and the pilot is lost but the shuttle is rescued by the Discovery – there is no way that captain Gabriel Lorca did not plan it? He is dark and mysterious, with the onset of war perhaps only enhancing what was already there.

This episode marks the first appearance of series regulars Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), and Jason Isaacs (Gabriel Lorca). Conrad Pla, Elias Toufexis, and Grace Lynn Kung, who respectively play prisoners Stone, Cold and Psycho in this episode, all play or have played roles in The Expanse, another science fiction TV series. The Discovery is working on a faster way to move through space or atleast Stemets is heading the project and Lorca wants Burnham to help as she is, in Saru’s words, the smartest person Saru ever met.

We are introduced to the bubbly Cadet Tilly, who seems to be autistic perhaps (She mentions “special needs” ) and who is assigned to bunk with Burnham. Tilly is a quick fan favourite as an adorkable character but one who also is more than she seems and is aware of the darkness in the ship. We also meet Landry, Discovery’s badass, no-nonsense, tough as nails head of security. Her colourful language when referring to the prisoners may not be what we have come to expect off from Starfleet officers but she definitely is a badass.

We also meet Stamets who is the gay main character and who is the arrogant scientist who rues Starfleet and the military’s stranglehold on scientific experiments in the name of creating weapons and in the face of war. He also butts heads with his captain, who he clearly does not like. The question on many fan’s minds is – is the Discovery part of a covert operation run by Starfleet’s secret/black ops division, Section 31? That would totally make sense with the way things have been depicted. e also see a lot of black insignia on the ship, which is leaving many to speculate about Section 31’s involvement.

Lorca certainly has charm to boot along with his dark persona and he is the kind of captain who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. But are they his alone or his superiors’ too? We also get to see the Discovery’s sister ship, the doomed USS Glenn, on which Stamet’s work partner was stationed, Starfleet having separated them to get them to work more efficiently and to make room for more experiments. The experiments go badly and a boarding party which includes Landry, Burnham, Tilly & Staments along with secruity personnel is sent to investigate.

No crew has survived and they also find several dead Klingons. Tilly sees a live Klingon who sushes her and is then attacked by a large dangerous creature. The crew minus a few security personnel manages to escape but Lorca has the creature secretly transported aboard the Discovery and held behind a forcefield, before having the Glenn destroyed. Lorca also reveals some of his intentions to Burnham, enough to keep her on the ship (and he seems to have enough clout to keep a convicted prisoner sentenced to life on his ship and working on secret projects) and entices her by asking if she didn’t want to help him end a war that she started. He is working on not a weapon to kill, but an organic propulsion system that would allow them to travel galaxies in a mere instant. This, he believes, will allow them to win the war. To prove his point, he has her step into a chamber and takes her on a journey around the galaxy in a matter of moments.

So what’s up with Lorca? What mysteries will unfold as the season goes on. The ratings have been pretty good for this episode and I too really enjoyed it. It’s not my vision of Star Trek – or most fans vision either – but it looks to be a good show. 8.5 outta 10!

Star Trek : Discovery – Battle At The Binary Stars

Discovery’s second part of the pilot episode is Battle At The Binary Stars, which serves as the second in the series’ two-part premiere that act as a prologue to the rest of the series, setting up a season-long story arc for Burnham.

Episode synopisis:

T’Kuvma convinces the majority of the Klingon leaders that he can lead them to victory over the Federation, as reinforcements for the Shenzhou arrive. Georgiou offers to resolve the situation peacefully, but the Klingons immediately open fire. Starfleet Admiral Anderson arrives and again offers peace to the Klingons, but his ship is rammed by another cloaked Klingon vessel. Anderson has his ship self-destruct, destroying the Klingon ship as well. Starfleet retreats, leaving the Klingons to collect their dead. In the remains of the Shenzhou, Burnham escapes her cell after encouragement from her guardian Sarek via a telepathic connection. She convinces Georgiou to try to take T’Kuvma prisoner, and they create a distraction by sending an explosive into his ship with a Klingon corpse. Boarding the vessel, Burnham overpowers Voq. Georgiou attempts to capture T’Kuvma, but is killed. T’Kuvma is fatally shot by Burnham, who is transported to safety. Voq promises that T’Kuvma’s legacy will live on. Burnham is later sentenced to life in prison for her mutiny.

We see Burham’s warnings come true but because of her actions, Captain Georgioua is forced to put her in the brig. Our flawed heroine raised in the most logical of cultures, the Vulcans, is acting out illogically due to her feelings about losing her family to the Klingons. After the Shenzhou is attacked Burham manages to convince the computer’s security features that she needs to be freed from her cell as the shield may collapse at any minute.

She is now able to rationally convince the captain. The brig scenes are well done as is the fight scene and the transportation. However I do have an issue with the ships going into warp and they way they do a hard stop when they come to a point and come out of warp. It’s a dumb effect and makes for a rather abrupt halt. Also what is with the hologram? What the hell, it is way too advanced for this point in the Star Trek timeline. And also how the hell is it possible to logically have the admiral’s hologram walk onto the bridge and interact with the settings?

And Sarek too – his hologram sitting on a desk in Michael’s room but how in the world – aargh, this just infuriates me. There are two many flares as well but the rest of the special effects are stunning to say the least. Communicators are awesome and done well. Ofcourse my biggest reason to knock off points for the show is the Klingons! There is no reason for the show to reboot the Klingons or atleast redesign them. Leave the Klingons alone. Haven’t their look been tampered with enough?

I think the ships look awesome and the battle scene was done well. Michael and Phillipa beam over to the sarcophagus ship and try to capture T’kuvma but Phillipa ends up getting killed by the Klingon leader and Michael kills him with a phaser shot to the chest. Her fear comes true; after she is beamed back aboard the Shenzhou, a dying T’kuvma is told that his words and vision will live on making him a legend. The Klingons have a figure much like Kah’less now and the war between the Federation and the Klingons is on.

Michael accepts her fate to be sent to prison on a lifelong sentence. She makes no excuse and is devastated that she could not save her captain and mentor. This prologue of a 2 part episode sets up the remaining 13 episodes of the show in which the Discovery, not seen till now will take center stage. I give this episode an 8 outta 10; though I thought that the battle scene could have been done better.

RIP Tom Alter

Veteran Indian film, television and theatre actor and Padma Shri Tom Alter has died aged 67. The renowned actor and one-time sports writer and author had been battling stage four skin cancer. Alter acted in over 300 movies apart from numerous TV shows, most famously as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon which ran for a record five years during the 1990s. In addition to acting, Alter also ventured into direction and was a sports journalist in the 80s and 90s.  Alter has written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction, and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government in recognition for his services to the field of arts and cinema.

Born in the hill station of Mussoorie in 1950, Alter was a third-generation American in India who studied at Woodstock School in the Himalayas and then briefly at Yale University in the USA, before returning to India in the early 70s. In 1972, he was one of three men – the others being Benjamin Gilani and Phunsok Ladakhi – chosen from over 800 applicants across north India to be enrolled in at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, where two years later he graduated with a gold medal diploma in acting. Among his notable roles during the first decade of his acting career were Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benega’s Junoon (1979), Manoj Kumar’s magnum opus Kranti (1981) and Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985).

Other notable directors he worked with during the 70s and 80s were V Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand – who gave him his first break in the Dev Anand-starrer Saheb Bahadur – and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who gave him the pivotal role of the gangster Musa in the critically acclaimed hit Parinda. n the 90s, Alter was seen in many films, prominent among them Mahesh Bhatt’s Aashiqui, Junoon and Gumrah, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar and Priyadarshan’s Kala Pani. During this time, he also acted in regional cinema – Bengali, Assamese, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and One Night with the King, in which he acted opposite his idol, the legendary Peter O’Toole.

On TV, Alter’s leading work came in Junoon, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jugalbandi, Bharat EK Khoj, Ghutan, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. Most recently, he was seen in a pivotal role in the ongoing serial Rishton Ka Chakravyuh on Star Plus. At the time of his death, Alter had approximately 16 unreleased films lined up as well as a web series by Eros Now titled Smoke. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie, and daughter Afshaan.

Star Trek : Discovery – The Vulcan Hello

Long awaited and long anticipated, Star Trek : Discovery debuted with a double episode. Like I mentioned earlier, I am following the show and plan to do a recap/review of each episode.

Episode synopisis:

Investigating a damaged satellite near a binary star system on the edge of Federation space, the crew members of the USS Shenzhou discover an object obscured from their sensors. First Officer Michael Burnham volunteers to investigate the object herself, and finds an ancient, carved vessel. She is attacked by a Klingon, and when trying to escape she accidentally kills him. A group of Klingons mourn the death of their soldier, dubbed the “Torchbearer”, before the outcast Voq volunteers to take his place. The Klingons, lead by T’Kuvma, reveal themselves in a cloakable ship. T’Kuvma preaches to his followers of the Federation’s attempts to usurp the individuality of the Klingons and their culture, and plans to fulfill an ancient prophecy by uniting the 24 great Klingon houses as was once done by Kahless. Voq activates a beacon that summons the Klingon leaders. Burnham, desperate to prevent a war, attempts to fire on the Klingons first, against the wishes of Captain Philippa Georgiou. Burnham is arrested for mutiny.

We start off the show with T’kuvma declaring to his people as a warning of the threat of the Federation who he views as outsiders who pretend to come in peace and yet spread their way of live everywhere. He wants the 24 great houses of the Klingons to set aside their differences and unite to battle the Federation. We then flip to Captain Philippa Georgioua and her first officer Commander Michael Burnham who are on a planet which has had a drought for 89 years. After they sort out the problem, they are beamed aboard to the USS Shenzhou – that is a wonderful scene that I have to watch again and again.

The rivalry (close to sibling bickering almost) between science officer Saru & Burnham is fun to watch. Burnham’s history shows us why she would be wary and even aggressive towards Klingons, as her parents were killed by them and she was found and raised by Sarek as his adoptive child (and a sister to Spock). She is the only human to have studied at the Vulcan Science Academy but over the course of 7 years she seems to gain most of her human passion. Despite her initial cool and logical reasoning, when it comes to the danger to the ship and the Federation by the Klingons, she gets passionate and even reverts to mutiny when her captain doesn’t seem to agree with her.

After she eagerly explores the hidden outpost and is attacked by Klingon torchbearer Rejac, she is able to kill him. Burnham is put to the test shortly after killing Rejac. Against the wishes of Shenzhou medics, she returns to the ship’s bridge after her fateful encounter with the Klingon, urging Georgiou to raise defenses — just as T’Kuvma’s ship uncloaks. Because of her history with the Klingons, Burnham’s warnings are ignored by both her captain and Admiral Brett Anderson (Terry Serpico) – this rattles her so much that she temporarily incapacitates Georgioua and pretends that her orders are to attack the Klingon ship before they can attack us. The captain recovers before Burnham can carry out her attack and points her phaser towards her first officer and as the latter tries to convince her commanding officer – more Klingon ships appear on the console and in front of the Shenzhou.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with our ship in a dangerous situation and Burnham’s fears and warnings come true, setting things up nicely for the second episode. Though I do think that visually the show reminds me of Kelvinverse Star Trek, it does look a whole lot more interesting and intriguing that anything JJ’s version can come up with. I am looking forward to more from this show. But the new look for the Klingons hasn’t yet convinced me (but having whole conversations in Klingon language is awesome). I give this episode a 7.5 outta 10!

The Orville : The First 2 Episodes

Ok, so as a lot of you fellow scifi nerds may know, the Orville  is an American science fiction drama created by and starring Seth MacFarlane that premiered on September 10, 2017. The show is reminiscent of and is both an homage and a light-hearted parody of Star Trek, and as Seth has mentioned in an interview, also inspired by The Twilight Zone. Along with MacFarlane as captain Ed Mercer, we have Adrienne Palicki who plays his his ex-wife  Commander Kelly Grayson and the first officer assigned to The Orville, a mid-level exploratory ship, that operates for The Union, an inter-planetary group. The show is set 400 years in the future.

We also have Penny Johnson Gerald (who had a recurring role in Star Trek Deep Space Nine) as the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn, Scott Grimes as Lt. Gordon Malloy the helmsman and best friend to Mercer, Peter Macon as Lt. Commander Bortus, the second officer and an androgynous alien, Halston Sage as Lt. Alara Kitan, 23-year-old Chief of Security, J. Lee as Lt. John LaMarr, the navigator & Mark Jackson as the voice of Isaac, the Science and Engineering Officer who is a member of the artificial, non-biological race from Kaylon-1 that views biological lifeforms, including humans are inferior.

So far we have had two episodes aired and I like it a lot. The second episode had a lot more depth to it than the first which was a bit of a let down.

In the pilot, 25th-century space pilot Ed Mercer, who has a promising career, divorces his wife Kelly Grayson after he catches her cheating on him. He starts drinking too much and turns up for work hungover. A year later, he accepts a position as Captain of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory ship, which came as a surprise even to him. But he is informed that due to the size of the fleet and the retirement of the former captain, the Orville, was in need of a new commanding officer. He also finds to his dismay that his ex-wife Kelly will serve as his First Officer. During the Orville’s first mission, the hostile alien Krill Captain attempt to steal a device that can accelerate time, which has both beneficial and dangerous applications. Mercer and Grayson rig the device to destroy itself and the Krill vessel.

In the second episode the technologically advanced Calivon imprison Ed and Kelly in a replica of their former home as a zoo exhibit. Alara is left in command of the Orville as Bortus has laid an egg and must incubate it. Alara is unsure of herself, but gains confidence with the help of Dr. Finn’s mentorship. Ed and Kelly wonder if they could have made their relationship work, but finally conclude that they were never compatible for a long-term romantic relationship, despite their strong camaraderie. Admiral Tucker orders Alara to return to Earth instead of approaching the powerful Calivon; Alara violates these orders and rescues Ed, Kelly, and an alien child by trading an archive of Earth’s reality television for them. Ed presents Alara with a medal of honor and believe he and Kelly can prevent her from being punished for insubordination. A female offspring hatches from Bortus’s egg, stunning him and Klyden as this is thought to be biologically impossible for the single-sex Moclans.

The show is scheduled for a 13 episode run during the first season and I hope we get a lot more. We could use some light-hearted comedic scifi and this Star Trek like show is the humurous offspring of the comedy classic Galaxy Quest.

RIP Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Raymond Louis Heenan, better known as Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, was an American professional wrestling manager, wrestler and color commentator, best known for his time with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He was known for his skill in drawing heel heat for himself and his wrestlers, and for his on-screen repartee with Gorilla Monsoon as a color commentator. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, by Blackjack Lanza. Heenan, 73, who worked as a wrestler, professional wrestling manager and commentator for more than 40 years, was “regarded by many as the greatest manager in sports-entertainment history,” the WWE said in a statement. It was reported in May 2016 that Heenan was hospitalized following a fall. After early success in the World Wrestling Association (WWA) and the American Wrestling Association (AWA), Heenan was signed by the WWE in 1984. His first managerial client as part of the promotion was WWE Hall of Famer Big John Studd.

Throughout his years as a manager, Heenan formed what would come to be known as the Heenan Family, a group of superstars whom he managed. Among them were Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Paul Orndorff, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect and Harley Race. All of those names also hold their rightful places in the WWE Hall of Fame. Heenan himself was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. The undeniable charisma and wit displayed by Heenan as a manager soon transitioned to the commentary table, where he formed an acclaimed pairing with Gorilla Monsoon. Their verbal exchanges, which included Heenan’s one-liners with Monsoon’s flabbergasted responses, set the standard for professional wrestling commentary.

Heenan left the WWE and joined WCW in 1994 but returned to the WWE when Vince McMahon bought out WCW in 2001 at WrestleMania 17 alongside Mean Gene Okerlund. They served as guest commentators for the Gimmick Battle Royal, a match featuring 19 WWE alumni. He has written two career memoirs, 2002’s Bobby The Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All, and 2004’s Chair Shots and Other Obstacles: Winning Life’s Wrestling Matches which has an introduction by Ric Flair. Both books were co-written by Steve Anderson. In 2004, he joined former WCW commentators Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko in providing commentary for the video game Showdown: Legends of Wrestling. He also appeared in interviews for The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD in 2005. WWE released a retrospective two-disc DVD set of his career on December 28, 2010.

This Trekkie Is Ready For Star Trek Discovery

I just cannot be more excited for a tv show to start airing. In a few days Star Trek Discovery, the 6th live action Star Trek series and 7th overall (if you count The Animated Series) will air the pilot episode. But it won’t be on a tv channel ofcourse. It will be available for streaming on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix in some countries. India will have to wait and see – we might get it on Netflix though I don’t see it in the upcoming shows list.

I don’t care about the new uniforms – they look good and uniforms can change every few years if needed. I don’t care if there is supposed to be conflict among the crew members – that makes for good television and yes Star Trek has had some conflict amongst the Starfleet crew before. I got over the change in appearances for the Klingons – whatever I have heard and read about them is enough to satisfy me! Fuck any racist asshole who complains about diversity – this Trekkie is Indian! And Star Trek has always been about diversity and inclusion. The look and design of the technology involved in the show – yes it looks more like the Kelvin-verse but the upgrade in design is the least of my concerns as Star Trek TOS was made 51 years ago.

I like some of the cast though I feel they could have tried out for more know actors in some of the other roles. But nevermind; just having Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh (though she is supposed to be a recurring character or gets killed in or just post the pilot episode) & Doug Jones is awesome! Plus we also get Rekha Sharma in a recurring role as well as Kenneth Mitchell. You also have Rainn Wilson & Jason Issacs, two well known names but who I have only seen in one movie each. A big bonus in the casting is Indian origin actors; other than Sharma we have Maulik Pancholy as well.

So forget about the bad publicity, the delays, the negativity surrounding the show. Forget about the idiots who don’t like that there are two main characters shown in the trailers both of whom are women of colour, forget the Klingon controversy and let’s check out the show. We need more Star Trek in our lives and this is the Prime Timeline Star Trek. May it live long and prosper and who knows; the start of more shows to come. Beam me up!

I plan to post a blog about each episode of the show.

Dark Matter Cancelled

Dark Matter” has been cancelled after three seasons at Syfy. The third season finale, which aired last week, will now serve as the series finale. The series centered on an intergalactic crew who awaken on a derelict spaceship with no memories of who they are or how they got there. It starred Marc Bendavid, Melissa O’Neil, Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross, and Zoie Palmer. Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie created the series, which is based on their Dark Horse graphic novel of the same name. Prodigy Pictures produced.

Syfy declined to comment. With the cancellation, Syfy’s scripted original lineup now consists of:  “Killjoys,” “The Expanse,” “12 Monkeys,” “Z Nation,” “Wynonna Earp,” “Van Helsing,” “Channel Zero,” and “Blood Drive.” This fall, the network will debut “Happy!” starring Chris Meloni and Patton Oswalt as well as “Superstition” with Mario van Peebles and “Ghost Wars” with Vincent D’Onofrio. They are also prepping the release of Superman prequel series “Krypton” for a 2018 launch.

Syfy is also developing a follow-up series to the cult classic movie “Tremors” with original film star Kevin Bacon, and have ordered a pilot for “Nightflyers,” based on the novella by George R.R. Martin.

RIP Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

Mr. Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly. Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after World War II with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Mr. Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Mr. Martin’s supremely relaxed ego. After his break with Mr. Martin in 1956, Mr. Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films. As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mr. Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, “Jerry Lewis: In Person,” give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography “King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis,” unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome. In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons, Gary, who in the 1960s had a series of hit records with his band Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The couple divorced in 1980.

Between his first date with Ms. Palmer and the birth of his first son, Mr. Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. The two men made many appearances on early live television, their first on the June 20, 1948, debut broadcast of Toast of the Town on CBS (later officially renamed The Ed Sullivan Show on September 25, 1955). This was followed on October 3, 1948, by an appearance on the NBC series Welcome Aboard, then a stint as the first of a series of hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1950. Just before appearing on The Colgate Comedy Hour, Lewis hired Norman Lear and Ed Simmons to become regular writers for the Martin and Lewis bits. The duo began their Paramount film careers as ensemble players in My Friend Irma (1949), based on the popular radio series of the same name. This was followed by a sequel My Friend Irma Goes West (1950).

Starting with At War with the Army (1950), Martin and Lewis were the stars of their own vehicles in fourteen additional titles, That’s My Boy (1951), Sailor Beware (1952), Jumping Jacks (1952; also appearing in the Crosby and Hope film, Road to Bali as cameos), The Stooge (1952), Scared Stiff (1953), The Caddy (1953), Money from Home (1953), Living It Up (1954), 3 Ring Circus (1954), You’re Never Too Young (1955), Artists and Models (1955) and Pardners (1956) at Paramount, ending with Hollywood or Bust (1956). All sixteen movies were produced by Hal B. Wallis. Attesting to the comedy team’s popularity, DC Comics published the best-selling The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comics from 1952 to 1957.  As Martin’s roles in their films became less important over time, the partnership came under strain. Martin’s participation became an embarrassment in 1954 when Look magazine published a publicity photo of the team for the magazine cover but cropped Martin out. The partnership ended on July 24, 1956.

Lewis remained at Paramount and became a comedy star in his own right with his first film as a solo comic, The Delicate Delinquent (1957). Meanwhile, DC Comics published a new comic book series titled The Adventures of Jerry Lewis, running from 1957 to 1971. Teaming with director Frank Tashlin, whose background as a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon director suited Lewis’s brand of humor, he starred in five more films, The Sad Sack (1957), Rock-A-Bye Baby (195, The Geisha Boy (195, Don’t Give Up The Ship (1959) and even appeared uncredited as Itchy McRabbitt in Li’l Abner (1959). By the end of his contract with producer Hal B. Wallis, Lewis had several productions of his own under his belt. In 1959, a contract between Paramount Pictures and Jerry Lewis Productions was signed specifying a payment of $10 million plus 60% of the profits for 14 films over a seven-year period.[21] In 1960, Lewis finished his contract with Wallis with Visit to a Small Planet (1960) and wrapped up work on his own production Cinderfella, which was postponed for a Christmas 1960 release and Paramount, needing a quickie feature film for its summer 1960 schedule, held Lewis to his contract to produce one.

Lewis came up with The Bellboy (1960).  Lewis followed The Bellboy by directing several more films that he co-wrote with Richmond while some were directed by Tashlin, including The Ladies Man(1961), The Errand Boy (1961), It’s Only Money (1962) and The Nutty Professor (1963). Lewis did a cameo appearance in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Further on, more Lewis films were Who’s Minding the Store? (1963), The Patsy (1964) and The Disorderly Orderly (1964). Also in 1961, Lewis guest starred in an episode of The Garry Moore Show. Lewis hosted two different versions of The Jerry Lewis Show (a 1963 lavish, big-budget 13-week show for ABC and a 1967 one-hour variety show for NBC). Lewis directed and co-wrote The Family Jewels (1965) about a young heiress who must choose among six uncles, one of whom is up to no good and out to harm the girl’s beloved bodyguard who practically raised her. Lewis played all six uncles and the bodyguard. Lewis would next appear in Boeing Boeing (1965).

Also in 1965, Lewis made television appearances on Ben Casey, The Andy Williams Show and Hullabaloo. Lewis packed up and went to Columbia Pictures, where he made Three On A Couch (1966), then appeared in Way…Way Out (1966) for 20th Century Fox. During 1966, Lewis guest starred in Batman, Password and in a pilot for Sheriff Who. Lewis continued with more movies, such as The Big Mouth (1967) and Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (196. He continued to act in the 70s but didn’t appear in a film for 11 years returned to film in Hardly Working (1981), a movie in which he both directed and starred. Despite being panned by critics, it eventually earned $50 million. Lewis next appeared in Martin Scorsese’s film The King of Comedy (1983). Lewis guest hosted SNL and also appeared in Cracking Up a.k.a. Smorgasbord (1983) and Slapstick (Of Another Kind) (1984). In France, Lewis starred in both To Catch a Cop a.k.a. The Defective Detective (1984) and How Did You Get In? We Didn’t See You Leave (1984).

In 2012, Lewis directed a musical theatre version of The Nutty Professor at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville from July 31 to August 19 over the summer. In Brazil, Lewis appeared in Till Luck Do Us Part 2 (2013). He then next starred in a small role in the crime drama The Trust (2016). Lewis made a comeback in a lead role in Max Rose (2016). Lewis was married twice: Patti Palmer, a former singer with Ted Fio Rito; married October 3, 1944, divorced September 1980; SanDee Pitnick; married February 13, 1983; a 32-year-old Las Vegas dancer; married in Key Biscayne, Florida. He had six sons (one adopted) and one daughter (adopted).

TV Shows: Binge Watch?

Do Your Television Viewing Habits Include ‘Binge-Watching’?

Yes they do. However, I must say that I can only binge watch certain types of shows. And I don’t mean genres! I mean certain types, depending on the pace and storylines. I also feel like I can easily binge watch a new show (one that I haven’t seen at all, irrespective of the year it first came out) easier than I can one that I have watched once or many times before.

Let’s take scifi itself, which is my fav genre: I have binged watched Battlestar Galactica (the reboot) to the point of 6 to 8 episodes a days and finished the show in a few days the first time I watched the show, which was in 2010 when I tore ligaments in my right foot and had to take off work for about a week to 10 days. Having never seen the show during it’s first run on tv here, I was dependent on dvds that were given to me by a friend. It is a compelling show and well acted and well written but it was also aided by the fact that I was mostly off my feet due to resting my injured foot and hence changing shows after one or two episodes isn’t the best idea.

Another show that I can easily binge watch from the scifi genre is Stargate Atlantis or even Stargate SG-1 to a certain extent. Although I find that serialized shows are easier to binge watch, I can binge watch non-serialized ones. Comedy too is one that I have watched many episodes of at one time. FRIENDS or Frasier or Corner Gas. Though to be honest, if I had 6-8 hours free during a Saturday or Sunday and just wanted to watch tv shows, I would watch 2-3 episode of one show and then move onto another and then another.

On the other hand, my fav franchise is Star Trek and I find it difficult to binge watch most of it. Maybe Voyager is an exception but even that, the most lightest of all the 5 Trek shows so far, is hard for me to binge watch at times. It’s because I always want to analyze the story and the meanings and the morals and ethics it brings in some of the episodes. So I will watch 2 or maybe 3 of TOS, TNG, DS9, Ent or Voy and then think about it, go to Wikipedia or Memory Alpha and read about the storylines and go in depth into the analysis. That’s Star Trek for you – or for me and all other Trekkies!

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Jinder Mahal

I haven’t been watching WWE or any wrestling since 2007. I used to be such a big fan of the sports entertainment shows like WWE and WCW (which for a while I even preferred to WWE) but events from 2007 soured my taste for the wrestling showbiz. Still I kept in touch for a while until completely ignoring it and almost forgetting to keep tabs on stuff. I just found out a few minutes ago that a wrestler of Indian origin is the current WWE Champion. So after a stint as a promoter for the Great Khali and being released from his contract, Jinder came back in 2016, improving his body condition and received a push after WrestleMania 33, culminating with a win over Randy Orton at Backlash in May 2017 for the WWE Championship, making him the 50th WWE Champion and the first wrestler of Indian descent to win the title.

Jinder Mahal is the stage name for Yuvraj Singh Dhesi a Canadian of Punjabi origins from Calgary, Alberta, Canada who began his professional wrestling career at the Martial Arts Fitness Center in Calgary, Alberta, training with Rick Bognar. At Money In the Bank in May, with WWE Hall of Famers Ric Flair and ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton Jr. at ringside, Mahal defeated Orton, successfully retaining his WWE Championship in the process. When an irate Orton demanded another match, Shane McMahon granted it, but Mahal was allowed to choose the stipulation, and made it a Punjabi Prison match. During this promo, Mahal referred to The Great Khali as his “personal hero” and ignored their past animosity. At Battleground, Mahal defeated Orton to retain the WWE Championship after interference from Khali, who made a surprise return to WWE.

RIP John Heard

Actor, John Heard, best known for his role as Peter McCallister in Home Alone, has died at the age of 72. TMZ reports the beloved star of several mega ‘80s and ‘90s films died on Friday in a Palo Alto, California hotel. The news agency reports via family sources that Heard was “found dead in a hotel by the maid service.” While authorities were called to the scene for a medical emergency, he was pronounced dead on the scene.

He was probably best known for his lead roles in several films, including Chilly Scenes of Winter, Heart Beat, Cutter’s Way, Cat People, and C.H.U.D., as well as supporting roles in After Hours, Big, Beaches, Awakenings, Rambling Rose, The Pelican Brief, My Fellow Americans, Snake Eyes, and Animal Factory. He also played Peter McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, as well as appearing in Sharknado. Heard was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1999 for guest starring on The Sopranos. and he also had a guest role on Battlestar Galactica as Commander Barry Garner.

Heard married actress Margot Kidder in 1979. He has a son, John Matthew “Jack” Heard, with ex-girlfriend Melissa Leo. He has two other former wives, Sharon Heard and Lana Pritchard. Sharon and Heard have two children together, son Max and a daughter named Annika.

RIP Nelson Ellis

True Blood, has died at the age of 39 after complications from heart failure. “Nelsan has passed away after complications with heart failure,” the actor’s manager Emily Gerson Saines, told the Hollywood Reporter. “He was a great talent, and his words and presence will be forever missed.” A graduate of Julliard, Ellis’ first major role was as Lafayette Reynolds, a short order cook and vampire blood dealer on the hit HBO series. Ellis’ portrayal of the character was so beloved by True Blood fans of the series that even though Lafayette was killed off early in the Sookie Stackhouse book series, the character lasted the entirety of the show.

In addition to True Blood, Ellis appeared Lee Daniels’ The Butler (as Martin Luther King, Jr.), Secretariat, The Help, The Stanford Prison Experiment and as singer Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get On Up. Most recently, Ellis had a reoccurring role in the CBS detective series Elementary. Ellis was born in Harvey, Illinois, near Chicago. When Ellis and his siblings were younger, their mother, a single parent after her divorce from her husband, broke down over the death of her brother. Ellis and his siblings became wards of the state as a result. They were then raised in Bessemer, Alabama, by their grandmother. In Alabama, Ellis attended Jess Lanier High School for a year, then transferred to McAdory High School. He moved back to Illinois at age 15, where he lived with his maternal aunt, and in 1997 he graduated from Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois. He joined the United States Marines at the age of 17, but quit not long afterwards. Following this, Ellis attended Illinois State University.

RIP Stephen Furst

Stephen Furst, perhaps best known as Flounder in Animal House & Vir Cotto in cult scifi tv show Babylon 5, died Friday from complications with diabetes, the actor’s rep told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 63. His two sons Nathan and Griffith Furst announced the news on the actor’s Facebook page, paying tribute to their “brilliant and prolific actor and filmmaker” father. The actor was also known for playing the role of Dr. Axelrod in the 1980s medical TV drama St. Elsewhere, and he also directed a few episodes of B5. After his breakout role of Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in 1978’s Animal House, he had several guest appearances on TV shows such as Newhart, CHiPS and The Jeffersons until he landed the role on St. Elsewhere, which aired from 1982-1988.

In 1979 he played the role of an overweight high school tuba player coerced onto the wrestling team in Kieth Merrill’s feel-good underdog film, Take Down. Also in 1979, as pointed out above, he reprised the Flounder character in the ABC sitcom Delta House. He also reprised the character and repeated his famous line, “Oh boy, is this great!” in the Twisted Sister music video for “I Wanna Rock.” In 1980, he played the character of Harold in the cult classic movie, Midnight Madness, and the character of “Junior” Keller (the unseen) in the horror movie The Unseen. In 1983, he also appeared in a supporting role as Aldo in the provocative ABC TV movie The Day After. In 1989, he played the character of Albert Ianuzzi in the film The Dream Team. Although not a regular, he also appeared in the short-lived 1992 TV series The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys.

In the 1995 animated TV series Freakazoid!, he voiced the character Fanboy. Also in 1995, he took a hiatus from Babylon 5 to star in a short-lived TV series, Misery Loves Company. In 1997, he played Derby Ferris in Little Bigfoot 2: The Journey Home. He also voiced a young Colonel Hathi in Season 2 of Disney’s Jungle Cubs, had a starring voice role as Booster in the 2000 series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, and also played a hulky walrus named Dash in the 2000 Disney movie The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. He starred in Magic Kid and its sequel. In 2002, he guest starred in an episode of Scrubs. Furst directed many independent and/or low-budget movies, including the low-budget movie Title to Murder starring Christopher Atkins and Maureen McCormick in 2001, and the direct to video children’s movie Baby Huey’s Great Easter Adventure.

Furst directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel, Dragon Storm in 2004; and Path of Destruction and Basilisk in 2005; he also co-starred in both of the latter two films. Furst produced My Sister’s Keeper based on the Jodi Picoult novel starring Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin. Furst produced other several films under his production company Curmudgeon Films. Atomic Shark aired in August of 2016 on Syfy during Sharknado Week. Christmas in Homestead premiered on the Hallmark Channel during the holiday season of 2016. Cold Moon, a psychological thriller based on the Michael McDowell book, is set for a theatrical release in October 2017 in the United States. Cold Moon won “Best Horror Film” at the 2016 Laughlin Film Festival. Furst had two sons, both in the entertainment business. His older son, Nathan Furst (b. 197, is a television and film composer. His younger son, Griff Furst (b. 1981), is an actor, director and musician. He was married to Lorraine Wright, an entertainment lawyer.