SyFy Archive

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First Impressions: Dark Matter

My week in review of middling TV science fiction continues with some first impressions of Dark Matter.

Watching the first episode of Dark Matter is a bit like going to the gym for a hard cardio workout. At some point I always ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Where is this going? Surely there must be better ways to get what I want out of life?” But by the end of the workout my tone changes to, “you know, that wasn’t quite so bad. I don’t really want to do it again right now, but maybe I will in a day or two.”

Even though Dark Matter offers a few interesting narrative tidbits, watching its first hour felt like work. Specifically, the work of not rushing off to rewatch Deepwater Black, a little known show from the mid 90s which, as far as I recall, did a better job working with the “crew wakes up in a space ship and doesn’t know who they are” gimmick.

Dark Matter is also exhausting for its attempt to be racially diverse while still catering to the stereotypes of racialized characters e.g. the Asian guy is a master of the Japanese sword.

And lo, the writers, lost for ideas on how to build a cast, did turn their eye upon the Big Book of Character Clichés. From within the pages of this most sacred text did they find the following…

The can-do lady boss

The rogue with a heart of gold

The weird teenager girl with brain powers

The asshole American

The Asian character who is an expert of every martial art ever

The black guy in a science fiction show played by Roger Cross

As it was in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, so too shall it be today. Blessed be the Book.

Even in the face of these issues, I remain somewhat interested in seeing where the story goes. As lazy as it is to give the primary cast amnesia, it does create some potential for a dialogue on who the characters are supposed to be versus who they want to be. The big plot twist (what a twist) revealed at the end of the first episode finds our crew of brain scrambled sleeping beauties as a gang of vicious murderers and thieves.

Despite hooking me for a few episodes – unlike Killjoys, which I now watch only out of a sense of critical noblesse oblige – I see Dark Matter’s greatest challenge in proving it is capable of finding its own direction. Rugged miner-folk trying to survive on the raggity edge of space with the threat of an evil corporation looming large in the background is about as well trodden as it comes. Moreover, I’m tired of science fiction setting up “the company” as the go to bad guy. It’s too easy and too much of an effort to pander to “main street.” At least the likes of Continuum took corporations as antagonists to an interesting place with corporations-as-government. If Dark Matter can humanize “the corporation” into something that seems even half legitimate, I think it will find some success.

Ultimately, I see Dark Matter as something that is either going to get much better or much worse in very short order. There’s a lot of promise, but the writing needs to get to a place where it can tell a story without all the foreplay. I’ll let forty minutes of hand wringing followed by five minutes of forward motion slide for the first episode, but the series had best lock its shit down.

Also, I’d be thrilled if the writing would ease off on the hackneyed depictions of people of colour.


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First Impressions of Ascension

In deference to my policy of giving a television series three episodes before putting pen to paper on a review, I won’t go so far as to say if I think SyFy’s Ascension is either good or bad. Bearing in mind this is a six-episode mini-series, I’ll probably watch the whole thing before daring to offer a review. However, I feel no reason to hold back on expressing all the ways Ascension’s premiere episode felt like a terrible first date.

It’s not you, Ascension. It’s me, I don’t like you. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t bother seeing you again, but my good friend Battlestar Galactica is telling me I should get to know you a little better.

Sexy sex is sexy, except for when it isn’t sexy.

There’s nothing more un-sexy than the implied nudity and simulated sex of prime time television. Though I left the room a few times to refill my drink, I recall three scenes of grunting and dry humping. As I don’t watch soap operas, I leave it to the internet to tell me if Ascension’s sex to non-sex ratio is in the neighborhood of daytime television.

Sexy sex tells us things about the story.

I suppose Ascension puts half the speaking cast in bed together as a juvenile attempt to show the series’ edge – like a fifteen-year-old who speaks like they are fresh off the set of The Departed. For my part, and in light of exposition telling me the ship’s complement is 600 people, I’m left to ponder if Ascension is crewed by swingers. We should also make note of Tricia Helfer’s character – I can’t be bothered to learn names at this point – running an executive escort service under the guise of ship’s stewardesses. The concept worked so very well in Pan Am, and that’s why the show is still on today, right?

Since Ascension’s narrative motif is modeled after America absent civil rights and second wave feminism, objectification of the female body is presented as standard fare – up to and including a two-girl one-guy threesome. Make no mistake, there’s no subversive commentary during this scene. The series is wanking walking on the knife’s edge of good taste, culminating in a faux-naked Tricia Helfer lifelessly faking an orgasm astride a man old enough to be her father. The whole proceeding lands somewhere between sad and hilarious.

In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Derp.

Here’s the thing about setting a show in space; the more a series bites its thumb at science, the harder I have to work to keep my suspension of disbelief from shattering. With my brain in gear, I’m much more likely to catch the little things a series does wrong. You may call it pedantry, I call it a series failing to keep me in the moment.

We’re told the good ship Ascension was built using 1960s technology, modeled after the Orion engine – a system where controlled nuclear explosions would propel a ship forward. Ascension, however, is built and organized like a skyscraper. The command deck is the penthouse suite, and each floor below it houses some instrumentality of the ships function. Does anybody see where I’m going with this?

There is no way to have gravity on Ascension given the way the ship is built.

Conventional wisdom says rotate the ship along its long axis to make simulated gravity. The crew would then live in a series of concentric rings inside the ship a la Babylon 5. The only other alternative for creating gravity on Ascension would be to have the ship’s engines burning at a constant 1G of thrust for half the journey to Proxima Centuri. The second half of the trip would have Ascensions burning its engines in the opposite direction. Even if nuclear explosions could generate a consistent 1G of thrust – they can’t because NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS - the amount of fissionable material necessary to executive a maneuver like that boggles the mind.

Irrelevant of if details like this matter to an individual viewer, they speak to the depth and complexity invested in the series’ writing. If the creators and writers are content to fly free and loose with the laws of physics, I have no reason to believe they will do any better crafting the murder-mystery that seems to be the only driving force in the show.

Never mention Fallout

To call Ascension unoriginal is to engage in a crime of understatement. Everything, and I mean everything, this show does stems from a better work of science fiction. Therein, a considerable source of inspiration is the video game Fallout.

Fallout posits an alternate timeline where the atomic age brought about a technological evolution through fusion power. It also fixated American culture on the 1950s. Ascension is doing the exact same thing albeit with the 60s. Unlike Fallout, Ascension isn’t giving us any sense of a unique culture emanating from the familiar touch stone. Is it so hard to believe that a closed community would develop and evolve along a new trajectory? Am I to believe the ship’s harem stewardesses, for example, would be content with their lot after half a century of listless banging and putting on pretty clothes? Nonsense.

Humans, even humans removed from Earth, are creatures of story and flux. The ship’s crew would build its own rites, rituals, traditions, and culture. Ascension’s library should be filled to bursting not with the tripe of 20th century pulp fiction, but with two generations of stories, art, and music. The idea that they are somehow stuck in the 60s is as laughable as amusing as the Brendan Fraser movie with the bunker.

Meanwhile on Earth

A dad gives his son a stern talking to about telling someone to “die in a fire” via text message.

“Every message you send contributes to the greater world,” says Father Knows Best.

I wonder, when does a member of GI Joe come out of nowhere to warn me against the dangers of using the stove when my parents aren’t around?

We who are about to watch terrible television, salute you

Rarely does a single hour of television offend my sensibilities so fully and completely. Perhaps Ascension will get better. Certainly, it would have to make an effort to be worse.


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Guest Post: K.W. Ramsey on the Many Sins of SyFy’s Defiance

Let’s be blunt. Despite reports that it’s getting better, Defiance sucks as much if not more than it did when it first premiered. It sucks harder than a Tim Taylor souped-up vacuum cleaner. It sucks more than a black hole that’s so big it eats other black holes for breakfast. It sucks more than Twilight. (Okay, maybe that last one was a bit harsh. Sorry, Twilight, you don’t suck as much as Defiance.)

Defiance is quite possibly the worst bit of television SyFy has produced in the last decade. Yes, I’m calling this the worst thing on a channel that gave us Sharktopus. At least with Sharktopus they didn’t drop a hundred million dollars like a lead weight.

The sad part is, it could have been glorious. It could have been a show to captivate and draw me in. I love sci-fi Westerns. I’ve been a Browncoat from the very first episode of Firefly. Heck, I even enjoyed Cowboys & Aliens. I was inclined to like Defiance from the beginning, but it has sinned early and often.

Chief amongst Defiance’s sins is lazy writing. It’s as if the writers’ room opens up TvTropes in a browser window each day and asks “What can we steal from today?” The characters they’ve created are all stereotypes: from the gruff lawman to the evil robber baron, from the dutiful homesteader wife acting as mayor, to said mayor’s sister, the prostitute with a heart-of-gold.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stock/stereotype characters. They can be a great starting point for characterization, a foundation to build upon, but five episodes in and Defiance has failed to even pretend its characters have any depth.

Let me illustrate this by comparing the gruff lawman, Joshua Nolan, played by Grant Bowler, with Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion. Both are former military men, Nolan a Marine and Reynolds a Sergeant with the Independents. Both have daughter figures in their lives, Nolan with Irisa and Reynolds with Kaylee. In fact, one might say that Nolan shares a lot of similarities with Reynolds, perhaps too many? (See what I mean by lazy writing.)

The main difference between the two is that by the end of Firefly’s first aired episode, The Train Job, we had a decent idea of who Malcolm Reynolds was and could tell this was a character with depth. The very end of that episode, when he kicks Crow into the running engine, was a wonderful, if brutal, character-defining moment. It is a perfect example of showing rather than telling.

Five episodes in and Defiance has failed to give Nolan anything close to that kind of moment. In Firefly’s first episode, one that was quickly revised to serve as a pilot after Fox nixed airing the proper one, Whedon and co. were able to define the characters’ relationships and bring across the idea that these were complex, real people. It wasn’t perfect, and the show hadn’t quite hit its stride, but it did more in one episode than Defiance seems capable of doing in an entire season.

At this point it no doubt sounds like I’m writing this as an excuse to praise Firefly and bash Defiance. Honestly, the two shows are cut from the same cloth and comparisons between them are inevitable. Both feature ensemble casts and both occupy the same genre stomping grounds. Defiance, however, lives in Firefly’s shadow and has failed to do anything to break out of it, which is another of its sins.

A prime example of this is the last episode I watched, and likely the last episode of the show I’ll ever watch, The Serpent’s Egg. It featured two different plot lines (and this will be part of the next sin I illuminate), one where Nolan and the lady mayor, played by the lovely Julie Benz, are on a transport/stagecoach that’s robbed and another where Nolan’s daughter Irisa ties up and tortures a man she believes tortured her as a child. Hmmm…sounds like a mash-up of The Train Job and War Stories to me. First off, there is no good reason for the mayor to be on the transport. We are denied even a half-hearted attempt to explain her presence. It just happens and we’re expected to accept it. Hoookay. Next, Irisa kidnaps and hides a screaming man in the middle of Defiance, not that far from populated areas, and then tortures him until he confesses he was the one who tortured her as a way of proving she was the “Chosen One” ( this is a whole other matter that could be a rant in and off itself, but then this article would be five times as long, so I’m just going to let it go).

Sigh. The stagecoach robbery is pretty much standard fare for Westerns, and in this case not much is done with it. Nolan and the mayor are put into danger and find they can rely on each other. Yawn. Already been done and it doesn’t add anything to their relationship. On the flip side, the torture scenes are just as boring and predictable, but become truly disturbing when you realize Irisa is a deputy of the law. Not only does she get away with it, but by the end she has another deputy convinced she was right to do it. Then they have sex. (No, I’m not making that up.)

So here we have two standard plots that really don’t do anything towards building or revealing characters and also feel lifted from other sources. Oh, joy. This ties into another of Defiance’s sins. In nearly all of the episodes aired so far there have been multiple simultaneous plots to the point where none of them are given enough time in the spotlight. The torture plot from The Serpent’s Egg could have been a wonderful character building/establishing moment for Irisa and her relationship with Nolan, like War Stories was for Wash, Mal, and Zoe in Firefly. This could have been the character driven episode I’ve been craving from the very beginning, chock full of moments that show rather than tell me who these people are and why they love each other. Instead it fell out of the air like a lame duck because the stagecoach plot took vital time away from it.

The sins already mentioned could be mitigated if the actors in Defiance were up to the challenge. They’re not. It’s not only a failure on the part of the cast, it’s a failure on the part of everyone involved in producing the show, and there is no excuse for it. Firefly proved that it’s possible to get top-notch actors to play genre roles, and I highly doubt that hiring them broke the bank for Fox. Defiance, however, has failed to attract the same level of talent and/or failed to provide that talent with a level of writing that could allow them to shine. Looking at the cast list on Wikipedia I can see some familiar names, people who’ve been around genre works before, but no big names. It’s obvious that very little cash was put into finding competent much less good talent.

Defiance final sin relates back to the lazy writing and multiple plots, but I’m going to let it stand on its own. As I’ve mentioned, the show fails to show rather than tell, and this has been apparent from the pilot onwards. Reading the Wikipedia entry on the show reveals a great deal about the world of Defiance and how Earth has changed, as well as providing a plethora of background material on the races. Almost none of this appears in the show, or if it does it’s introduced in the most ham-fisted way possible. The audience, namely me, should be captivated by the world the writers’ have created, but instead I’m bored and irritated.

And in spite of all its sins, Defiance has secured a second season. I could blame this on a deal with the Devil, but the truth is that the genre audience is hungry for a show like Defiance. We want something high-concept with aliens, technology, and a world unlike anything we’ve seen. We want shows with heroes and villains living on bold new frontiers. We thirst for them so much, like a man wandering the desert, that we’ll drink just about anything no matter how foul the taste. That is the secret to Defiance’s current success, and as soon as someone comes along with a cleaner, more refreshing drink I have no doubt Defiance will be tossed aside like the dirty ditch-water that it is.


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SyFy’s Defiance: A Gamble in Transmedia Storytelling (and Marketing)

A few days ago my friend Will and I were talking about the upcoming SyFy original series Defiance. When we began speculating on why SyFy would opt for a transmedia approach to Defiance, releasing both the TV series and a tie-in video game at the same time, we defaulted to snark. “They like money, that’s why.”

But what if there is more to Defiance than a shameless cash grab?

Premise: The management at SyFy recognizes that their original programming (movies not withstanding) has more critical appeal than popular. Consider the recently cancelled superhero series Alphas as people’s exhibit A.

Exhibit B: The most recent trailer for Defiance (the series).

 

Assuming the trailer is an honest representation of the show, Defiance seems like the perfect series to win over critics. An alien channels Tony Soprano with his Mafioso rationalization, “I’m doing this for my children.” A single line of dialogue from Graham Greene manages to bring the entire conceptual framework of indigenous rights into a science fiction setting. What sort of savvy media consumer wouldn’t pay attention to the poignancy of having a native American actor paint humanity at large as a marginalized people in the face of a technologically superior colonial power? At the same time, I’m not so delusional to think that near future alien-human politics is universally appealing; we learned that lesson from Babylon 5. It sounds to me like Defiance is the perfect sort of show to win over critics while boring the broader audience with its weekly discussions of individual rights versus the collective good. Hey, I think we just re-invented Outcasts.

Enter Defiance (the game)

 

Other than the name and SyFy branding, is there anything to indicate these two things are related? The series looks like Mad Max meets Firefly featuring Farscape; whereas the game channels Lost Planet and Mass Effect. Even the cover girl for Defiance projects a FemShep vibe.

Left: Female Commander Sheppard as seen on the cover of BioWare's Mass Effect 3. Right: Promotional cover art red head pulled from Defiance's homepage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we peel back the layers on Defiance’s video game it further seems to be positioning itself as an amalgam of everything that is popular in gaming.

“Join the futuristic online open-world shooter where thousands of players scour a transformed Earth competing for alien technology. Hunt alone or with others as you improve your skills and level up, unlocking powerful weapons that will help you survive the massive battles that await.”

So there’s the Borderlands franchise covered with just a hint of Planetside tossed into the fray.

“Fight for survival in a constantly evolving environment with regular content updates and dynamic events. Play solo, or join tens of thousands of simultaneous live players in a futuristic San Francisco Bay Area that’s a fully-realized open world. You’ve never imagined a 3rd-person shooter this huge.”

World of Warcraft? Check. Gears of War? Check. Now here comes the clincher.

“Experience dynamic missions, massive co-op battles, and endless exploration across a gigantic game environment. Plus, brought to you by Syfy, the Defiance TV series is a revolutionary weekly drama that impacts the game, and gives you the chance to change the show.”

Play the game, and change the show. Wasn’t that the slogan for Heroes’ terrible third season? Considering the game is set in San Francisco and the series in St. Louis, I expect the changes will probably be of the blink-and-miss-it variety. Otherwise, SyFy had best be prepared for a whole lot of 4chan inspired trolling.

This combination of television and gaming amounts to an interesting gamble on the part of SyFy. On a cable channel where a few hundred thousand viewers can make the difference between renewal and cancellation, a cross branded video game might just be enough to bring in an audience for a show which already looks to draw on conceptual themes from other one season wonders.

The down side of gambling is that the consequences can often be ugly. Case in point, it would not take much to turn Defiance into Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. Shitty light gun games built into Captain Power’s action sequences doomed an otherwise well written series after one season. If Defiance (the game) is anything but a masterpiece it’s going to make the show look bad in the eyes of gamers. And at a $60 price point – $100 for the deluxe edition – god help the series and everybody who works on it if the game turns out to be a turd. If SyFy thinks it has an image problem for its dedication to low cost reality TV and syndicated wrestling, imagine how bad it will get when the internet accuses the network of pandering to/plagiarizing from A-list of video games as a means of raising capital. The same problem emerges if the show is garbage and the game is great; TV wonks could accuse SyFy of throwing a series under the bus to leverage itself into the video game market. Though if SyFy was intent on making a fast buck they would have revisited the free to play model of Battlestar Galactica Online.

Whatever else it is, it’s hard to see Defiance’s transmedia experiment as anything but an all-in bet. Both the game and the series need to resonate with their respective audiences while also seeing some of the game’s following tune into the show. It’s a risky proposition on all fronts, but if it works Defiance could be at the forefront of a new evolution in genre entertainment. At the very least, April will see a renewed discussion in the ongoing “video games as art” debate.


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Movie Review: Zombie Apocalypse

Summary Judgement:  Being better than Sharktopus doesn’t make this is a good movie.

Starring: Ving Rhames, Taryn Manning, and Leslie-Ann Brandt

Written by: Brooks Peck and Craig Engler

Directed by: Nick Lyon

Despite an outpouring of social media support for this SyFy Channel original movie, it does not live up to the hype.  However, it is a vast improvement from the likes of Sharktopus, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, and other titles whose names alone make me want to go blind. We can also view it as a gesture from the management of the SyFy channel that indicates they still care about original genre programming that isn’t wrestling or reality television.  All that said, Zombie Apocalypse stands as a wholly average and slightly bland zombie movie.

Though the plot is of the basic, “Get from here, where there are zombies, to there, where there are no zombies” variety, it started out rather strong.  A group of moron survivors in Southern California draw the attention of a shambling zombie horde.  Therein some people who have actually read a Max Brooks book rescue the moron survivors, and they all set out for Catalina – a supposed safe zone.  ZA got my hopes up with early outpours of emotion and the recognition that killing a zombie is still killing a person.  Indeed, I was quite interested until the introductory plot repeated itself half way through the movie.  By the end, there were so many plot holes and so little tension that I just didn’t care.  The one absolute rule of zombie story telling is that the audience MUST care about the survivors; even if that care manifests itself in a viewer hating a character to the point that they want the zombies to eat them, it’s still a win.

Visually, the movie is a toss-up.  The makeup and prosthetics on the zombies are fantastic – not Walking Dead fantastic but still pretty damn good.  However, the special effects and fight choreography are awful.  Omnipresent CG blood splatters look like a bad impression of something out of a Tarantino picture.  Countless cut aways and odd camera angles mute any of the expected intensity that would come with hand to hand combat.  It’s also pretty evident that nobody in the crew knew anything about the mechanics of sword play or else there wouldn’t have been a cute girl twirling a katana and decapitating zombies like she had a lightsaber.

That gives me an idea for a movie pitch: Jedi vs Zombies.  The rest writes itself.

While the acting is decent enough, Ving Rhames offers a performance that I would rate as quite convincing, I could almost see the cast wincing as they elucidated and acted upon the various and sundry plot holes.  Case in point: the US government creates a series of EMPs with high altitude nuclear explosions.  Sure it cuts down on the cost of the movie if there are no working cars (pay no attention to the still working boats) but it also makes no sense since grounding air travel and imposing martial law are more efficient means of restricting travel and thus limiting the spread of the virus. NB: evidently these are special nukes that don’t make fallout.  Then there’s the machine gun that can fire forever on what looked like fifteen bullets – that was fun.  Let’s not forget about the stealth zombies.  In playing with zombie mutation/evolution as a plot device, the shambling hordes are really good at conveniently sneaking up on people in vast numbers.  I don’t have a problem with exploring smart zombies but consistency is word one if that’s the way a story is going to go.

In the end, the flaws of Zombie Apocalypse really come down to a marked lack of consistency.  I get that this movie was made on a budget.  But if there’s no money for decent SFX/VFX, then make sure the story is a little more seaworthy.  Further extending the previous metaphor, once he hull is sound, pick a course and stay with it.  This movie could have been so much better if it wasn’t an amalgam of numerous zombie movie tropes.  Trying to be a movie that simultaneously explores survivor guilt, zombie evolution and basic survival doesn’t work.  Zombie Apocalypse might be a step in the right direction for SyFy Channel original movies, but at best it is a step that lands firmly in the realm of mediocrity.

Overall Score: 0


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Geek News: May 5 2011

Today in geek news, Mr. Sulu has some things to say about the upcoming Akira movie, Ubisoft lays the foundation for some epic movie making, the SyFy channel does another stupid thing, Mortal Kombat’s web series doesn’t suck and the internet makes me feel strange feelings about mac and cheese.

First up, George Takei on Akira. On Monday, George Takei brought his fight against Hollywood whitewashing to Canada.  Appearing on CBC’s arts and culture program Q, George sneered at Warner Brothers for considering Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake as candidates for the ethnically Japanese roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo.  Takei was quick to point out that Akira has a huge global following and relocating the movie from post-apocalypic “Neo-Tokyo” to New York and filling it with unaccented white actors will likely create the sort of flop that Paramount Pictures saw in The Last Airbender. With all due deference to Mr. Takei, that movie had bigger problems then its all white cast.

Takei also spoke on the larger issues of race within Hollywood casting decisions.  While proud of the strides made by Asian actors, notably his spiritual successor John Cho, Takei suggests that Hollywood is not offering ethnic Asians the leading roles that they deserve.

You can listen to full audio of the interview here.

 

Ubisoft, the video game publisher that brought you Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and the Silent Hunter series, is opening the doors on Ubisoft Motion Pictures.  Variety reports that the Paris based studio could be used to make film and television adaptations of Ubisoft’s properties.  Considering the fantastic job that Ubisoft did with Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, the 30 minute prequel movie to AC2, I think we can put this in the category of “good thing”.  Furthermore, we should all take a moment to thank Jerry Bruckheimer for ensuring that Ubisoft will retain creative control over any future game-to-movie adaptations.  If he hadn’t cocked up Prince of Persia with his white actors and pointless script then this may have never happened.

 

The SyFy channel released a trailer for their upcoming Red Faction movie, Red Faction Origins.  Inspired by THQ’s video game series of the same name, this movie will tell a story about a civil disagreement between Martian colonists, twenty-five years after they won independence from Earth.  Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the dumbest thing ever.  How the hell do you do an “origin” story twenty five years after the events that defined the Red Faction video games?  I would have liked to sit in on the production meeting where somebody said, “No thanks we don’t want to tell the story of Martian rebellion against Earth.  We’ll just assume that our target audience has played all three Red Faction games and is familiar enough with the back story that we can do something new.”  If SyFy had problems getting people to watch Caprica and Stargate Universe, I have to wonder what sort of ratings Red Faction Origins will pull in.

Red Faction Origins airs June 4th at 9PM on SyFy.  It stars Robert Patrick and a whole bunch of supporting cast from other shows including Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Universe and Torchwood.

Meanwhile, the internet continues to show us just how good television can be when networks aren’t total asshats.  Mortal Kombat: Legacy, released its fourth episode this week.  Written and directed by Kevin Tancharoen, a former choreographer for Madonna and Britney Spears, the web series examines the mythology surrounding the Mortal Kombat tournament and its most notable fighters.  The show’s rather impressive cast includes Star Trek’s Jeri Ryan, Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Pinikett and Spawn himself, Michael Jai White.  In my editorial opinion, Mortal Kombat: Legacy boasts surprisingly good fight scenes and special effects as well as solid acting.  Moreover, the show feels like something that is self-contained, rather than a cheap promotion for the video game.  Good on Warner Brothers for embracing web television.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy airs directly on youtube.  Here’s the first episode for your viewing pleasure.

Finally, the web series Epic Meal Time has left me at a loss for words.  I don’t really know what to say other than I think this is the sort of stuff that Caligula would use as masturbation fodder.  I’ll let you watch the video and decide for yourself if humanity is worthy of expanding its reach beyond this planet.

That, such as it is, is your geek news for May 5, 2011.  I’ll be going to the gym to punish myself for the next two hours as that Epic Meal Time actually made me a little hungry.  Force be with you.

Today’s Geek News was brought to you by Chris Noon Graphic Designs.  See more of Chris’ work at www.chrisnoon.com