Faster Than the Speed of Light

CK-12_spaceship

Is it possible that future spacecraft with “warp drive” could travel faster than the speed of light? Check out this article on Decoded Science and read about NASA’s latest experiment: http://www.decodedscience.com/faster-speed-light-nasa-looks-warp-drive/40698

 

Copper Killed for Orphan Black? BBC America Clearly Does not Like American Viewers!

Kyle_Schmid_March_2008Kyle Schmid at Megacon, Orlando Florida, March 2008. Schmid plays Robert Morehouse in Copper. Photo by Anne Petersen.

I do not watch the BBC on a regular basis. They rarely offer shows that appeal to me, other than Dr. Who. However, when a friend recommended the show Copper, produced by BBC America (and a list of others) I thought I would give it a try. In addition to my obsession with supernatural television, I also study American history and write a popular blog called Wild West History, so the theme of Irish immigrants trying to survive in Five Points New York during post American Civil War Reconstruction in Copper appealed to me.

This is a topic I know, a subject I’ve studied, and coming from a family of Irish immigrants, I connected. Copper premiered on Sunday, August 19, 2012. I truly enjoyed watching the show. I was more than happy with the show, Copper, I was thrilled. I told my friends about the show, my family, posted weekly comments on Facebook, and had lengthy discussions about the episodes.

Then, in mid-September, one of my friends said, “Another great aspect of Copper is the fact that it’s produced by BBC America, so you know they’ll give the show a fair chance.” The next night we watched the show, and when I logged onto Facebook to discuss it with my friends I discovered it was cancelled.

To make matters worse, it was cancelled with open endings! Copper is a show with multiple story lines. The finale introduced a new story line with the assassination of President Lincoln and left all other story lines open. I can’t think of an easier way to disappoint and anger viewers than to leave open story lines.

There are so many aspects of Copper that I could discuss here, such as the representation of the Irish in the show, and the risk of BBC America presenting anything about the Irish without obvious prejudice, but this blog is about Supernatural Television, and the only reason I am discussing Copper here is because it was supposedly dumped due to a supernatural television show that I do not believe has the same quality of writing.

Orphan Black

I was stunned. Finally, the BBC had a show that appealed to many Americans with its honest, brutal portrayal of American history, and it cancelled the show? Not only was it cancelled after only two seasons, but according to Deadline Hollywood, the show was cancelled because it was “overshadowed by “BBC America’s second drama series, the buzzy Orphan Black.

Tatiana_Maslany_(derivative_image)Tatiana Maslany at a barbecue hosted by the Canadian Film Centre founder Norman Jewison. 

As you may recall, I reviewed Orphan Black in May. After only one episode there wasn’t much I could say for the future of Orphan Black, but to be honest, I was too nice. While it’s true that the show has fine acting, particularly with Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris, I was a bit put off by the graphic sex scene in the first few minutes of the show.

The lead character (there are many lead characters, all played by Maslany), is trying to figure out if she is a clone, or a twin, or a doppleganger, or something else–this is supernatural television, remember–and is raiding the house of a woman who committed suicide in front of her hours before.

The other woman’s husband comes home and starts to question her about her clothing choice so she tries to distract him by attacking him. She pretty much rapes the man in the kitchen (remember, it is not her husband) in one of the most graphic scenes I can recall on television.

It was not the sex that bothered me, it was the writing. There was no need for the graphic sex scene and gratuitous sex is boring and irritating. That moment, that scene is what separated Orphan Black from Copper. As I told my husband, friends, and other Copper fans, one of the many aspects of Copper that I truly enjoyed was its clean writing.

When I say clean I’m not referring to sex. By clean writing I mean that when something happens, although it may seem minor at the moment, you know it is important to the plot. The Orphan Black sex scene did nothing to further the plot. It was gratuitous sex, plain and simply.

The Request

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m not the silent type. So, I decided to send an email to BBC America via their website, which they claim is the only way to communicate with them. I explained that I enjoyed the show and was extremely disappointed that it was cancelled, particularly with so many open story lines. I received this response:

Dear Darla,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us  – we appreciate your support of COPPER.  The show, however, concludes at the end of its second season. We recommend visiting the TV Schedule page on our website, BBCAmerica.com/schedule regularly for the most updated information about new and upcoming shows on the channel such as Burton and Taylor on Wednesday, October 16th starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West and Ripper Street which returns this December.

Regards, Robert

Viewer Relations

My Response

BBC America, could you be more cold to your viewers? Seriously? So they call themselves BBC America, but they killed the show about American history and are suggesting we replace it with a history show from the same time period set in England–Ripper Street. (I must say, though, I adore Matthew Macfadyen). In addition to everything else, neither one of these shows is offered by my cable company.

Removing Copper and BBC America’s response is a slap to the faces of Americans, particularly Irish Americans. Frankly, aside from Dr. Who, the BBC has nothing worth watching to offer Americans.

Asking for Copper’s Return

One of my friends told me she tried to post on the Copper Facebook page and her comment was deleted. I found that rather odd since she is not the confrontational type and I felt certain her comment would express nothing more than disappointment. I also tried, repeatedly, to post on the Copper Facebook page and the same thing happened–my comments were deleted. I suspect BBC America is trying to downplay the large number of disappointed viewers.

I am not alone in my feelings about Copper‘s cancellation. There are many people angered by BBC America’s abrupt cancellation of the show, as well as by the way they left so many open story lines. It seems clear to everyone that BBC America could care less about what its viewers wish to see on television and the focus has shifted to trying to convince another network to pick up the show.

There are letter writing campaigns weekly and tweet storms focused on bringing back Copper. If you’d like to learn more and become involved in the effort to bring back Copper there are two Facebook pages–check the Bring Back Copper page regarding a letter-writing campaign that starts tonight, October 17:

Bring Back Copper

Save Copper

You can also contact BBC America and voice your opinion.

There is a Save Copper video on You Tube.

There are also petitions requesting a third season of Copper:

Change.org BBC America to Renew Copper for a Third Season

Change.org BBC America Bring Back the Show Copper

Change.org BBC America Renew Copper TV for Season 3

 

Orphan Black, Starring Tatiana Maslany

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Welcome to Supernatural Television’s A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Oh yes, I am behind, and I probably will not catch up before they finish, but I will finish! Thank you for reading my posts. I appreciate your comments and I’ve enjoyed the conversation and comments.

Tonight we are watching Orphan Black, an intriguing sci fi show that premiered at Wondercon. (Wondercon is a yearly comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention held in California.) Orphan Black, developed at the Canadian Film Centre by Graeme Manson was produced by Temple Street Productions and distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide. The ten episode American premiere was on March 30, 2013, and I was watching. I think it’s great.

Tatiana_Maslany_(derivative_image)

Tatiana Maslany stars in Orphan Black. Image by Geo Swan.

The show stars Tatiana Maslany who I recognized immediately. She also played Kit on the Canadian television series Heartland, one of my favorite shows, and I was impressed by Maslany’s performance from her first appearance on that show. I was intrigued when I saw her name connected with Orphan Black, and even more intrigued when I continued to read the list of actors on this show–Maslany stars as Sarah Manning, Elizabeth Childs, Alison Hendrix, Katja Obinger, Cosima, and Helena.

Yes, you read the list correctly. Sarah Manning’s identity is the basis of the plot. Sarah Manning discovers she was cloned. Or perhaps Sarah is a clone. Like all great mysteries, the show begins with more questions than answers.

“Natural Selection”

The premiere episode is “Natural Selection.” From the moment she leaves the train certain clues fall into place. We know that Sarah hasn’t seen her daughter in a year because she stops to make a phone call at the train station and ask to speak to the child. Whoever she speaks to on the phone is crying and refuses access to the child and hangs up on Sarah. Sarah tries to find more coins, then gives up. She picks up her bags and starts to walk through the station then notices a well-dressed woman in front of her has dropped her purse and is removing her shoes. The woman turns to face her. She looks like Sarah’s twin.

The special effects here are fantastic–it is a truly eerie scene. The woman is crying–her makeup is smudged around her eyes. She is clearly distraught. The next train is coming toward the two women and Sarah–and the viewers–realize what the woman intends to do. Sarah rushes forward to stop the woman, but she throws herself onto the tracks in front of the train. Sarah, stunned, keeps walking toward her. The train conductor jumps off the train and stops Sarah, waving her back, then looks beneath the train at the woman’s body.  From the start this show has great tension and nonstop action.

A New Identity

Sarah takes the woman’s clothing, shoes and purse and heads for a local bar where she meets up with Felix (Jordan Gavaris) who spent time with her in a foster home.  Felix examines the identification of Elizabeth Childs and admits the resemblance is uncanny. Sarah mentions her daughter, Kira (Skylar Wexler), and Felix reminds her that she abandoned the child with Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and disappeared for ten months. There is no mention of where Sarah was for the ten months.

Sarah decides to take on Elizabeth’s identity. At Elizabeth’s apartment, she tries on her clothes and searches through her possessions to learn more about her, then she drives Elizabeth’s car to the bank to access her money. She makes arrangements to withdraw $75,000 from the woman’s savings account the next day then finds multiple identification cards in a safe deposit box.

When Sarah leaves the bank she is grabbed by a man who practically shoves her into a car, angry that she is running late for an appointment. The man is her partner, Art (Kevin Hanchard), calls her Beth, and eventually expresses his surprise that she hasn’t referred to him as “dip-shit.” Art drives her to the police station and Sarah makes another discovery, but this one is not as pleasant. Elizabeth is a police officer under suspension for shooting an unarmed person, Margaret Chen.

Before the hearing, she tries to excuse herself to go to the restroom and nearly gives herself away because she walks off in the wrong direction. Her supervisor points her in the right direction and she waits for an officer in the restroom to leave, then drinks soap, which she vomits all over the table before the hearing can begin.

Jordan

Jordan Gavaris plays Felix in Orphan Black 

In the mean time, Felix is at the morgue identifying the body of Elizabeth Childs as Sarah. He does this for two reasons. First, he is trying to convince Sarah’s obnoxious boyfriend, Vic (Michael Mando), that she is dead. He is also trying to help Sarah become Elizabeth Childs. Felix takes Vic to the morgue to prove to him that Sarah has committed suicide and Vic is distraught. Felix convinces Vic that his obnoxious, abusive ways caused Sarah to kill herself. Jordan Garvaris is outstanding in his role as Felix, very impressive.

Pieces of a Life

Felix and Sarah meet, trying to piece together the life of Elizabeth Childs. Felix notices the birth dates on the identification papers found in the safe deposit box are all within a month of each other. Sarah doesn’t see a connection. She is still trying to find a way to see her child and Felix reminds her that she disappeared for ten months. Sarah insists she’s trying to fix it, and Felix comes back with a great line. “Talk to the angels, Sarah,” he says. “You’re already dead.” He has made a great point–how can she see Kira when she has now become Elizabeth Childs?

The irony is fantastic. She has found a woman who resembles her physically in every way, but whose life is completely opposite of her own. She takes on the woman’s identity, and her own life becomes fragmented. In a way, she has become two people, living the life of two people. It is impossible for her to stop being Sarah completely because she still has a child and her foster brother, Felix. On the other hand, she’s already gone too far in taking on the identity of Elizabeth Childs. She is living the life of two women, one who is dead, and one who everyone believes is dead. This has all happened with 24 hours, so quickly that Sarah hasn’t even had time to rest, think, plan. She is also receiving non-stop calls from an anonymous number on Elizabeth’s cellphone.

As if matters couldn’t get worse, Child’s boyfriend, Paul (Dylan Bruce) who was out of town, comes home early to show her support during the hearing. He is surprised to see her at home and asks too many questions about the hearing, so she finally silences him by having sex with him on the kitchen counter–there is a lot of graphic sex, violence, and drug use in this show.

A Funeral

Vic decides Sarah needs a funeral and visits Felix to make arrangements. He needs closure. Felix likes the idea of a wake and promises to make arrangements. Sarah/Beth asks to borrow Paul’s car because she can’t find her keys and he looks confused, reaches into a box and hands them to her. Elizabeth drove a very nice car. However, as Sarah gets into the car we see Al watching her from across the street–either Al is not on the level or he does not trust Sarah/Beth.

Sarah returns to the bank to pick up the $75,000 in cash. She stops by Felix’s apartment and finds notices for the wake. While she’s  inside, Al breaks into the trunk of her car and finds the money.

Sarah shows up at the wake, watching from a distance. Felix is speaking to her on the phone, which is a bit unbelievable. He was her foster brother and the other members of the mourning party would certainly have noticed him chatting, smiling and laughing on the phone. Sarah reveals that her plan is to start over with Kira, Felix and the money.

A Clue

Vic finally asks Felix to shut up. Felix tells Sarah he has to get off the phone and suddenly Sarah notices Mrs. S driving up to the wake with her daughter, Kira. She is stunned. She walks back to her car, crying, trying to figure out what to do when another woman climbs into her back seat asking “Beth” why she hasn’t responded to her calls. She had red hair and speaks with an accent. She introduces herself as Katya and tells Sarah she brought the samples, the suitcase for Beth’s friend. She continues to introduce herself. Sarah says, “Yes, I get it, you’re German, I’ve seen your birth certificate.”

The woman is coughing up blood. She begs to see Beth’s “scientist friend.” Sarah tells the woman she cannot help her and gets back into her car. The woman opens the back door and climbs into the car behind her. Sarah tells her to leave. Katya tells Sarah that Beth’s partner, Al, is following her. Sarah tells her again to leave and she says, “Just one. I’m a few. No family, too. Who am I?” Sarah is stunned and is staring at Katya when someone shoots Katya in the forehead through the front windshield. Sarah ducks down and tries to drive with her head down. Elizabeth’s phone is ringing. She answers the phone, and the episode closes.

The Future of the Orphans

In the next episode, “Instinct,” Sarah of course will be forced to continue the charade, pretending to be Elizabeth Childs, but now she is also trying to stay alive as it is obvious someone is trying to kill her and the other women whose identities were in the safe deposit box as it becomes increasingly clear that one or all of the remaining women are clones. Obviously, eventually, Sarah will question whether or not she is real.

I believe this show will do well. I am impressed by the acting, writing, and plot, though the graphic sex is a bit much for me at times. I am interested to see if it will be picked up for another season.

Source:

  • “Natural Selection.” Orphan Black. Writer: Graeme Manson. Dir. John Fawcett. Perf. Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard. BBC America. Running Time: 60 min.

The Twilight Zone: “Nightsong”

Gilera 4 classic motorcycle. Image by  Gérard Delafond.

Gilera 4 classic motorcycle. Image by Gérard Delafond.

 

Love unrequited, or so she thinks. Andy Fields is a woman with a broken heart. She believes she was abandoned by her childhood sweetheart and appears to be doomed to spend the rest of her life alone, playing records late at night as a DJ in The Twilight Zone episode “Nightsong.”

The Revival of The Twilight Zone, and Andy’s Lover 

Rod Serling was the creator of the original The Twilight Zone and writer of most of its scripts. “Nightsong,” however, was created for the revised series of The Twilight Zone, which made its appearance in the 1980s. The show aired on October 11, 1986, and stars Lisa Eilbacher, Kenneth David Gilman and Antony Hamilton. This episode was written by Rockne S. O’Bannon and Michael Reeves. Serling is listed on IMDb as a contributor, though he had died 11 years earlier. The show was produced by Philip DeGuere.

In the opening scene we find the 96.3 KGRR night DJ, Ace Campbell, saying goodbye to his listeners. (Ace is played by Kenneth “Kip” David Gilman, who not only has an extensive list of television appearances on his resume, but is also known as “one of theater’s most important actors,” due to his versatility and talent, according to his IMDb bio.) Ace introduces the midnight D.J., Andrea Fields, or “Andy,” played by the beautiful Lisa Eilbacher. Lisa Eilbacher became famous through her early appearances on Western television shows, such as GunsmokeBonanza, and Wagon Train. In 1984 she starred as Jenny Summers, who assists her friend, Eddie Murphy, in his investigation of a murdered friend in Beverly Hills Cop.

Back in the DJ booth, as Ace Campbell rises from his seat to leave, Andy (Eilbacher) enters the room and prepares for her shift. Of course, the first thing the viewer should notice is the floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with record albums–this is truly a classic show! As Andy sorts through the albums, Ace Campbell flirtatiously asks her why they are no longer dating, Andy doesn’t have an answer. “I guess I’m just not ready for more than a few laughs,” she replies. Ace, now a compassionate friend, advises her that she needs someone in her life besides herself.

The Campbell walks out the door at the same moment Andy finds an album by her former boyfriend. Andy follows Campbell out the door and asks how the album appeared in the studio. Campbell, confused, explains he found it in a dumpster. Andy mumbles that she promised herself she would never listen to the album.

Apparently Andy changes her mind. She returns to the broadcast room and places the record on the turntable then introduces “Nightsong” by Simon Locke. As she is listening to the music she suddenly notices a shadow on the wall. A man appears in the room. The man is Simon Locke, (played by Antony Hamilton, who also played Max Harte in the 1990 revised television version of Mission Impossible.) Andy, shocked, approaches him slowly, then slaps him. Locke begs her not to be angry. “After five years, isn’t it a little late?” she asks. Locke patiently explains that he needs to speak to her. Andy screams at him to get out, holding her face in her hands, sobbing. When she looks up, he has disappeared.

Andy is distracted when she leaves her shift and is almost hit by a motorcyclist, then Locke appears out of nowhere to save her. Her car is dead and he offers to help, but she angrily slaps him away. As they walk down the street, arguing, Andy confronts him with her knowledge of his many affairs. Locke has no excuse for his behavior or treatment of her. “I just got lost,” he says quietly.

In the next scene, we see the two of them in an all-night diner discussing his two cancelled record contracts and his failed band. As they talk, we realize they not only dated, but grew up together. She reminds him of how he once wanted to be a comic book hero, the Golden Condor. (The Golden Condor could be a reference to a 1980s cartoon The Mysterious Cities of Gold and film remake starring Tyrone Power.)

Once again, Locke and Andy argue and he leaves the diner. Later, when she’s lying in bed and listening to his album, she calls out his name and he suddenly appears by the window in her bedroom. By this time the audience is clear that they are witnessing the appearance of a ghost, but Andy seems oblivious to this detail. She tells Locke she realizes all of his songs were about them and they start to dance.

This time, it’s Locke who pulls away as he tries to explain that he can no longer have a relationship with her. Andy begs him to try. “Maybe it will work this time,” she says.

He shakes his head. “This time there’s no coming back,” he replies, but Andy shouts at him, refusing to allow him to explain what the audience already knows. “There’s something you just don’t understand,” he tells her, then asks her to follow him.

They drive out to the desert on his motorcycle. Locke explains that this is where he went to run away from life. He is speeding on a dirt road and Andy is frightened and tells him so, but Locke drives faster. He shouts back to her that he was afraid of failure, that he panicked, just took off, but he is not slowing the motorcycle. They finally reach the top of a cliff and Simon takes her hand, then drags her down, past the rocks and tall grasses, to the bottom of the cliff.

“All this time, that one obscure album that no one heard. No one cared. Then you played that album. I felt stronger and came back,” Locke explains as they continue to climb down. He also tells her that he was the man on the bike that almost killed her at the station. Then he tells her to forget Simon Locke, that she can do better.

“I never stopped loving you,” Andy replies.

“Well you can stop now,” Locke explains. “You can start living again,” he tells her. He moves some brush aside and exposes a crumpled motorcycle with a skeleton tangled in the twisted metal. Yes, Simon Locke is a ghost. “Forgive me,” he whispers. “Forgive me, please,” and just as suddenly as he appeared in the studio, he has now disappeared.

In the next scene, Andy is back at the station taking requests when a young woman calls and asks for Simon Locke’s “Nightsong.” Andy complies and dedicates the song “from Andrea to Simon, with love.”

The Problem

This episode seems to represent the problem with the revised version of The Twilight Zone. The original Twilight Zone was often intense, spooky. The shows are cautionary tales, warning us that everything is important, and nothing is as it seems. Later versions seemed to lose that focus. They were often well-written, but lacked the eeriness of Serling’s stories, something Serling took great pride in with his original series. Supernatural television had changed. Along with horror films, directors suddenly decided that more was better, and audiences felt that more was too much. Instead of leaving the horrific details to the imagination, they often treated audiences as if they lacked the intelligence to understand the subtleties of plot and dialogue and spelled it out. In this particular episode, it wasn’t enough to show a mangle motorcycle, they had to show Simon Locke’s skeleton, as well.

Serling is credited with introducing the paranormal to family viewers in an acceptable manner, making it clear to viewers that what they may consider to be strange and abnormal is actually a common and accepted part of their lives, and they would know this if they paid closer attention. In this respect, “Nightsong” stays true to Serling’s goal. Although it is clear to the audience that Simon Locke is a ghost, Andy doesn’t see it until the end of the show. Nevertheless, it is obvious from the start that this show lacks the skillful touch of Rod Serling.

Resource:

  • “Nightsong.” The Twilight Zone. Original air date: October 11, 1986. Season 2, Episode 27b. Dir. Bradford May. Writer: Michael Reaves. Players: Lisa Eilbacher, Antony Hamilton, Kip Gilman