Sunday, May 31, 2009

Torchwood and Who -- good times ahead!

There's a new extended trailer of Torchwood's "Children of Earth" feature, which is slated to air this July. Looks creepy...and I mean that as a compliment.

Speaking of things that fall out of Russell T. Davies' head, the BBC America air dates for the first two Season Five "Doctor Who" episodes have been announced: "The Next Doctor" will air at 9 p.m. on June 27 and "Planet of the Dead" will make its American debut in July.

Oh, and in a tiny bit of other "Doctor Who" news, the new companion for Matt Smith's Eleven has been announced. I'm afraid of anyone considering it spoilery, so I'm just offering up the link. All I'll say is, hey, at least she's age appropriate!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nerd Men of the Month: The (New) Men of Star Trek (Sorry, Uhura)

Sadly, Mr. Quinto was getting tweezed during the taking of this photo.

First, I was going to go with Zachary Quinto. And then Chris Pine. And then John Cho, but then what about saucy Mr. Karl Urban as Bones? Choosing one cast member of the new "Star Trek" movie to be Nerd Man of the Month is like trying to take just one potato chip out of the bag when absolutely no one else is there to judge: it just ain't gonna happen. So this month's Nerd Man selection is a whole gaggle of Nerd Men...and in this case, quality and quantity go quite well together.

As we all know, "Star Trek" rocked in innumerable ways, not the least of which was the assembling of a cast that paid homage to the original "Star Trek" actors and characters without miming or mimicking, creating a vibrant new look and feel for a franchise that sorely needed it. Chris Pine as James T. Kirk channeled his inner Shatner with all of the "I'm more awesome than pants"-ness and none of the cloying hamminess that sometimes threatened to turn Kirk from hero into that uncle you're sort of embarrassed by at Christmas. Zachary Quinto as Spock erased every thought of "Heroes" from my brain (thank you!) by building a quietly powerful portrait of a man trying to find the balance between head and heart. As for John Cho, well, what can I say except "sword fight!" Cho made Sulu the bad-ass he's always been and always will be. Simon Pegg, the first two-time Nerd Man honoree in The Park Bench's esteemed and consequently history, brought the funny and the frenetic, crafting the perfect spazzy Montgomery Scott for the ADD generation. And finally, what can you say about Karl Urban except "yowza," a term I believe was first invented by Shakespeare to describe "a dude I've never seen before but hey, he's really hot and funny in that dry way that makes women want to have mixed cocktails and sophisticated conversation with him." Yeah, you know what I mean.

I'm also going to throw Eric Bana into the mix here because the man is the kind of eye candy that makes dentists go rogue. Sure, in "Star Trek" he was covered in mountains of latex but honestly, look at the man sans prosthetic and I think we can all agree he upped the pulchritudinal tally:

So, for helping resurrect a pop culture icon, for channeling new energy into beloved characters and for generally being able to flex and look good, The Park Bench is pleased to name the cast of "Star Trek" as its Nerd Men of the Month.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The word geek Super Bowl

It was that time of year again, when the spelling bee fans were out tailgating in the Grand Hyatt parking lot, sucking down alphabet soup and throwing long Scrabble tile passes to prep themselves for the big event. Yes, the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion was crowned last night and this year's winner is 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar who spelled the word "Laodicean" to clinch the title.

Other words these children spelled effortlessly in order to make every adult in the world feel stupid? "Geusioleptic," which is a word describing flavorful food, according to Yahoo. And "apodyterium," which has to do with Greek baths. One poor child misspelled "maecenas," which I always thought was a Greek king but which today apparently means some sort of cultural benefactor. The young man was duly booed by classical Greek enthusiasts who'd snuck in from watching "Troy" in the suite next door.

I love watching the spelling bee for the very simple reason that these kids rock. They're total geniuses and they work their tails off to get to this stage of the competition. It's massively nerve-wracking, and difficult and they deserve all the credit they get. Also, you gotta love how endearingly spazzy half the field is. It brings back many a fond childhood memory...and also reminds me I need to crack a dictionary every now and then.

On a totally different note, Nerd Man of the Month will be announced tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An idea so bad it brings shame and dishonor to the other bad ideas of the world

Remember that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie that made Baby Jesus and Kristy Swanson cry? Yeah, its original director Fran Kazui, who apparently owns the rights to "Buffy," is thinking of doing a new "Buffy" movie without the involvement of Joss Whedon or anyone else associated with the "Buffy" TV know, the one that was a contemporary classic. They want to do it the way J.J. Abrams has relaunched "Star Trek," so that it would complement what was done in the TV series but give it a new, darker turn that could stand alone as a new movie franchise.

The article adds that Kazui and her co-producer husband may try to reach out to Whedon and get him involved but wow, it still sounds like a really, really dicey proposition. Isn't it better just to forget that "Buffy" the movie ever happened and just move on, never looking back and never even opening up to our therapists about it?


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Something to cute up your day...

To steal a line from Jon Stewart, here is your moment of Zen: two talking cats. And yes, I think they might be aliens....from Planet Adorable.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"V" is for "very possibly not bad"

I'm getting more and more intrigued by this whole "V" remake. Check out this preview:

A giant Morena Baccarin in the sky? How many "Firefly" fanboys have had that dream, I wonder?

Odds and Ends: TV renewals galore, the Martha Stewart of Star Trek interiors, 19th-century robots and Tracy Jordan

+ The verdicts came in on a whole bunch of nerd-favorite TV shows this week and, well, there's good news and there's bad news. But mostly, good news! Going against fate and all things holy, "Dollhouse" actually got renewed for a full second season. Of course, it'll still be trapped on Friday nights but goodness, who among us really thought FOX would renew a Whedon show in our lifetimes? Now I know how people felt when we went to the Moon for the first time. In other good news, "Castle" got renewed as well, prompting Nathan Fillion to tweet, "I can't remember the last time I had a second season of ANYTHING. I don't know if I remember what to do. Step one: go to Canada. Relax." Step Two? "See Star Trek a second time." In other news, "Bones" got renewed for two seasons and "The Big Bang Theory" will return next year as well -- not a shock there! And now for the bad news, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" got canceled. I didn't really watch the show, but the absence of robots from the TV screen is a loss any way you look at it.

+ This man in Leicestershire, England has turned his flat into a dead-on replica of the "Star Trek: Next Generation" Enterprise. The newscaster sounds shocked that it cost him four thousand pounds -- given the detail, I'm astonished it cost that little.

+ io9 has an interesting item about William Douglas O'Connor, friend of Walt Whitman and apparently the author of the first "robot revolution" story. Called "The Brazen Android," it revolves around the creation of an omniscient brass head. The story, which was started in 1857, is available in its entirety as an audio book here.

+ And finally, to brighten your day, a list of everything Tracey Jordan has said this season on "30 Rock." My personal favorite? “I watched Boston Legal 9 times before I realized it wasn’t a new Star Trek.” Hee.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Odds and Ends: Tennant, NPH, V and Lost

+ America will get to savor a bit more David Tennant after "Doctor Who" ends. My imaginary Scottish boyfriend will be hosting PBS' "Masterpiece Contemporary" when the show returns this October. Seriously, click the link for a dreamy Tennant photo. It'll make your Friday even better.

+ Speaking of dreamy slim men, Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting this year's Tony Awards. Is it wrong to pray that he breaks into a few numbers from Dr. Horrible while he's got the spotlight? C'mon, it'll be better than the "Shrek the Musical" interlude.

+ I wasn't at all interested when I heard that "V" was getting new life as an upcoming TV pilot, but now that I've learned more about the cast, I'm feeling positively giddy. So far, the cast includes two "Firefly" alumni: Alan Tudyk (Wash) and Morena Baccarin (Inara). Elizabeth Mitchell, Juliet from "Lost," will bring her magnetic personality to the show. (See what I did there? Yes, I'm sorry.) Also starring Laura Vandervoot from "Smallville," a show I had no idea was still on the air. (Oops.) Someone hand me a rat, I'm feelin' peckish with glee!

+ So, "Lost." I love a show that I can't understand until I read about seven different analyses of what I just saw. I'm excited for next season, though, and can't wait to see what kind of reset they have in store for us. Also, let me just declare my love of Michael Emerson's Ben one more time. Honestly, I perk up every time he's on screen. He and Locke are my new One True Pair. Anyway, if you're still fuzzy on what exactly happened on Wednesday night, check out Jeff Jensen's terrific recap (also known as a graduate thesis) of the season finale. It'll offer up a lot of "ohhh, so that's what that meant."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In Which I Talk About "Terminator Salvation" and Am Forced to Turn in My Nerd Membership Card

I have a confession to make: I'm not at all interested in the impending arrival of "Terminator Salvation" next week. Like not even remotely. I'm afraid something in my nerd core may be broken because I really can't understand my lack of enthusiasm. For one thing, I love robots. For another, I love angry, menacing, scary robots. And for another, I love cylons human-shaped robots who don't know they're robots. But I just can't get my geek antennae humming for this one.

I'm a huge fan of the first two "Terminator" movies, especially the second one with a liquid-y Robert Patrick and special effects that blew my young, impressionable mind at the time. Both of Cameron's early epics were groundbreaking and original, and maybe that's why this new version doesn't stir my coffee. (How many euphemisms will I come up with for a lack of enthusiasm? I don't know. Let's count along and see!) It just looks like your average ordinary apocalyptic dark grainy "Children of Men"/"28 Days Later" flick. With just a hint of "Transformers" thrown in for good measure.

Also, my burro refuses to go up the mountain for this film because I will never forgive McG for the "Charlie's Angels" movies. I know it's shallow and petty of me, but he never sent me an apology letter and my eyes still bleed a little bit when I think of those movies, so I've kept hold of my inner rage. (Okay, on the plus side, he's given us some good "Supernatural" and "Chuck" episodes but that's TV and because I'm feeling stubborn, it doesn't count.)

I think, too, that my giraffe won't bite because I'm not terribly fond of Christian Bale. Why? Well -- and again, I'm totally breaking the geek code of honor here -- I don't like him in the "Batman" movies. He's just got that monotone thing going and the Jack Bauer angry whisper and he makes me sleepy just looking at him. That's not to say I think he's a bad actor -- I'm looking forward to seeing him in "Public Enemy" opposite Johnny Depp, actually -- but I don't believe he's a good action hero actor. Also, dude, he's so angry. All I'm going to be thinking about while watching him battle robots is how he probably beats his caddy. (That was not a euphemism for anything.)

Anyway, I'm sure I'll end up watching "Terminator Salvation" and enjoying it but I'm going to be dragging my beagle all the way through the lobby, not feeling happy about it at all. I would, however, think it's awesome if the robots sang and did magic tricks. Someone needs to make that movie right now, please.

Are you looking forward to the new "Terminator?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

I love you, "Star Trek" movie!

I got a chance to see this in Toronto this weekend amidst very polite Canadians, which meant that for the first time in years, I was able to watch a movie without a teenager talking on her cell phone next to me. Yay, Canada! I heart you, maple-leaf style! (I don't know what that means.)

So what can I say about "Star Trek" except that I loved it, I loved it and then I loved it so much more that I made it uncomfortable and it tried to leave the room. All of my hopes for this movie were not only met, they were exceeded. The tone was just right -- it was fun and action-packed but it maintained that certain moral center that's always been a trademark of the "Star Trek" concept.

The characterizations were dead-on. Chris Pine did a great job of making Kirk the reckless but brave and good-hearted prick we all know he would have been as a young man. I loved the fact that even though Kirk was smart, there still was no doubt that Spock was smarter and that's what made them such a good pair right from the start. And speaking of Spock, Zachary Quinto was terrific as the young half-human, half-Vulcan...which takes a lot for me to admit because I can't stand Zachary Quinto on "Heroes." My two favorites, though, had to be Karl Urban who channeled DeForrest Kelley's Leonard McCoy beautifully, updating him without a hint of parody, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, who cracked me up every second he was on screen. Perfect -- the whole cast was exceptional.

(Spoiler ahead in this paragraph.) The movie truly was a perfect summer film with just the right mix of action, adventure and yes, humor. Lots and lots of humor, which kept things bouncing around nicely. The serious bits were done equally well. Eric Bana, tragically hidden under pounds of latex and tattoos, made for a fine villain who didn't get many scenes to himself but still made an excellent foil for our heroes. And the bits with the older Spock -- well, I'm woman enough to admit that I got choked up toward the end with his conversation with his younger self. (Plus, you gotta love his line about his usual farewell being "oddly self-serving right now." Paradox humor!)

Plain and simple, I really, really enjoyed this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again. Thanks, J.J. Abrams and crew, for making this Next Generation fan actually get misty-eyed over the original series. I never thought it could be done, but this flick pulled it off gloriously. Now bring on the sequel!

Tell me what you guys thought of it...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Odds and Ends for Friday

+ Some time in the 1990s, I visited Ottumwa, Iowa against my will so that the guy I was traveling with could visit an ex-girlfriend. All I remember is that there was a chicken processing plant and we went to a weird house where the only furniture was a tanning bed. Anyway, this town keeps turning up in the oddest places. A few years back, it turned out to be the site of the largest book theft in the United States and now it's lobbying to become the Official Video Game Capital of the World...which would no doubt give the guy with the tanning bed a reason to go outside. Actually, Ottumwa has a long and storied history in the video game world. Also, they have a Wal-Mart. I know because I bought a day-glo tennis racket there. Just FYI.

+ Do you like comic books? Have I got a site for you! Some fine gentlemen friends of mine have created a new blog called SeeBelow* which is chock full of news and opinion on all things comic book-y. Check it out if you have a few free moments today...

+ USA Today had a cool preview of the Robert Downey-Jude Law "Sherlock Holmes" flick scheduled for release this Christmas. I don't know why I'm so excited about this movie but I really, really can't wait to see it.

+ Speaking of movies, here's a new preview for "Transformers," one that just confirms my belief that if ever left in Shia LaBeouf's presence, I would become the world's worst cougar:

+ I leave you with this gift of awesomeness: "My Little Pony: Reign of the Buttercup Sprinkles." Oh my God, this cracked me up. You'll notice more than a few passing nods to the "Transformers" preview above. "They shall come in a rainbow of colors..." Hee.

Have a great, "Star Trek"-filled weekend everyone! Look out for ponies!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Odds and Ends

+ Well, no news on whether "Chuck" has been renewed by NBC yet but here's a bit of good news in the interim: Fox has renewed "Fringe" which makes me very happy indeed. Why? Pretty Joshua Jackson and highly entertaining John Noble, whom I'm certain I would have an inappropriate crush on if he was my college professor

+ A whole bunch of Hollywood actors earned legitimacy today -- yes, the Tony Award nominations were announced! I feel like I've already seen two of the nominated plays. They're called "Billy Elliot" and "Shrek the Musical." Oh Broadway, isn't it bad enough that Hollywood keeps remaking the same movies? Now you're doing stage adaptations of films? Cut it out! On the plus side, a big Michigan whoo hoo for our native son Jeff Daniels and his nomination for "God of Carnage," which I'm guessing is a remake of "Towering Inferno" or some such thing.

+ There's legislation in the works to imprison bloggers whose "electronic speech is meant to 'coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person.'" No, really. Which means I'm totally going to have to speed up the timeline on my "CheerleadersPandas Are Whorish McWhore Whores" blog launch. Damn.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Will my nerdy "Star Trek" dreams come true?

I'm back and I missed you! I've been squirreling away my geekiness during the past couple weeks and am ready to unleash it once more. And what better way to go nerdy than by talking about "Star Trek?" I've decided I have five sci-fi wishes for this week's premiere of the new "Star Trek" movie, and they are this:

1) Please don't let it embarrass me in front of the normal people.
-- There's nothing worse than going to a movie with your non-geek friends, promising them up and down the street that "I heard this was really good and will totally appeal to non-Trek fans" and then have some guy in a giant lizard suit with the zipper on the back get a phaser to the gills while trying to leg hump some three-breasted woman. And let's face it, some of the "Star Trek" produced over the last few decades have come pretty damn close to that scenario and every single time, it just makes me want to crawl under my seat, muttering, "I swear it can be good." I really, really want non-Trekkies to be able to appreciate this movie.

2) Please let it retain its "Star Trek" soul. -- Because I am a woman, it's my prerogative to want things both ways and my antithetical wish for this week is for "Star Trek" to appeal to non-Trekkies BUT also retain the optimism and wide-eyed belief that the future can be better that has made this fictional universe so appealing for so long. Gene Roddenberry, even though I'm pretty sure he was a nut, created something special when he imagined a future where people live not just to survive but to strive and live up to their potentials. Especially in this day and age, we could all use a little positivity. "Star Trek" is a great vehicle to provide that.

3) Please let Eric Bana's Nero be a bad-ass villain.
-- Save for Khan and the Borg, "Star Trek" has suffered from some pretty anemic villains over the last few decades. I'd like an actually bad villain, one who has a deep dark mission, ideally one that actually makes sense and can drive a storyline. On a personally shallow note, I'm already upset that they've hidden Bana's tall, dark and handsome good looks under a Telly Savalas hat but I can forgive and forget as long as his character provides a worthy adversary for Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew.

4) Please let it be funny, preferably intentionally so. -- I'm not talking slap-stick funny or people pointing at the weird-looking Vulcan funny. I mean, let's have Scotty crack wise every now and then and maybe Sulu get in some dry bon mot here or there. Or Bones toss out a few of those cranky pants witticisms we loved so much in the original series. These are smart characters and smart people tend to be able to throw out a good joke every now and then. Don't let these characters be dry, dull action heroes. Let 'em have more dimension than that, okay?

5) Please revive my faith in "Star Trek."
-- When I was a little kid, my Saturdays were filled with "Star Trek" reruns. When I was in college, my friends and I faithfully watched "Next Generation" every weekend. I hung around for "Deep Space Nine" and even watched "Voyager." But by then, the shine was off the penny and I'd lost my passion for going where no man (or one) has gone before. I want that passion back. I really want to love "Star Trek" again. And I want to believe in its quality and believe it's worthy of its longevity. I have faith in J.J. Abrams. He's always entertained me and from what I've heard about this film, I think he has a good chance of doing exactly that this time out. If he can somehow re-spark my lifelong passion for this wagon train to the stars, my nerdy heart will be eternally grateful.

See, now is this too much to ask? Five very simple requests. Should be a snap, right? I've got my fingers crossed that the answer is a great big yes. Only five more days until we found out. Please nerdy gods, please....