I call them “cop shows” or, if I’m feeling a bit cutesy, “badge operas.” A screenwriting acquaintance says they’re “procedurals.” But never mind the label: by whatever name, they’re what constitutes most of the bread-and-butter television programming and you probably don’t have to go further than your nearest remote to find one.
There will be a pseudo family of protagonists – police, doctors, lawyers, feds, the occasional fire fighter or paramedic – and these people will be presented with a problem, usually one that involves injury done to an innocent party, and, using their skills and wit and such facilities as are provided to them, they will solve the problem. Usually, but not always, there is a happy ending appended to the story and once in a very great while, things end badly.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for that episode. Usually, by the rolling of the end credits, righteousness and harmony have been restored, justice has been done. The message, which we get over and over and over and over again, is that the system works to assure that the good guys win. Those good guys may have their quirks and eccentricities, but they’ve got each others’ backs and they will get the job done!
Do you believe that? Do I? Well, no, not consciously. That’s not the message real life has delivered. But it is the message that we hear every day, constantly. And I suspect that it registers with most people, at least subliminally, and we are cheery and optimistic enough to hit the mall and, you know, buy happy-making stuff.
Many of the world’s religions have been offering similar palliatives for centuries. No matter how wretched your life is, be patient and do what we say and eventually you’ll go to the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
But procedurals aren’t all that television provides. Lately, if you’ve surfed your way onto a news channel, you’ve seen images of fire and chaos and violence. That little town outside St. Louis – Ferguson, is it? And a couple of hundred miles or so south of where I’m sitting, a favorite city, Baltimore. Riots and looting and pain and terror. None of it scripted.
More to come? Almost certainly.
Maybe something can be done. But…the situation isn’t really that bad, is it? Oh, that business in Ferguson and Baltimore and maybe a few other locales here and there, now and then – that’s certainly disturbing. But fundamentally, everything’s okay. Nothing broke that won’t be fixed.
Now, what’s on tonight? Law and Order SVU? One of the CSI shows? Oh, and Bones. Bones is always good.
He’s “That Guy” – the funny one! Ron Funches is making a big name for himself, taking his unique style of comedy to NBC’s UNDATEABLE and @MIDNIGHT on Comedy Central. So what makes HIM laugh? We find out, then we explore the CSI reality show that started it all. MEDICAL DETECTIVES is headed back to cable and we talk to the guy who is guiding it there – plus Rosario Dawson becomes a part of DAREDEVIL.
The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the Scribe Award nominees for 2013.
Acknowledging excellence in this very specific skill, IAMTW’s Scribe Awards deal exclusively with licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. Gunsmoke, Murder She Wrote, CSI, Star Trek, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Resident Evil, James Bond, Iron Man, these represent just a few.
The Scribe Awards are presented at ComicCon San Diego.
IAMTW congratulates the following nominees:
ORIGINAL NOVEL Darksiders The Abomination Vault – Ari Marmell Pathfinder City of the Fallen – Sky Tim Pratt Mike Hammer Lady, Go Die! – Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins Star Trek The Persistence of Memory – David Mack Star Trek Rings of Time – Greg Cox Tannhäuser Rising Sun, Falling Shadows – Robert Jeschonek Dungeons and Dragons Online Skein of Shadows – Marsheila Rockwell
ADAPTED NOVEL Poptropica Astroknights Island – Tracey West
Clockwork Angels – Kevin Anderson Batman: The Dark Knight Legend – Stacia Deutsch Batman: The Dark Knight Rises – Greg Cox
AUDIO Dark Shadows Dress Me in Dark Dreams – Marty Ross Dark Shadows The Eternal Actress – Nev Fountain Doctor Who Companion Chronicles Project Nirvana – Cavan Scott and Mark Wright
The winners in each category will be announced during a ceremony at the 2013 Comic-Con International, held July 18-21 in San Diego, California.
As far back as when Tom Baker announced he was leaving the title role of Doctor Who, and at every period of transference since, tabloids would float the “rumor” (a word which here means “collection of words concocted out of thin air”) that the new Doctor might be a woman. And with it would come the requisite shaking of heads and rending of garments, not to mention the follow-up news articles with headlines that all circled around “Nurse Who?” and the like. People associated with the show, if ever actually asked, would rarely deny such stories, because as soon as you do that, the publicity train stops, and who wants that? So we get an infuriating round of winks and “You never know”s and another cycle of articles from people on both sides explaining why either it could or should never happen, or that not only should it happen, but the time is right.
It’s a question that couldn’t be rationally asked about almost any other fictional character. You can swap stars and characters out of a show – the longer a show goes, the easier it becomes. M*A*S*H, CSI, the list goes on. You can even re-cast main characters; James Bond has gone through a half-dozen changes already. But to suddenly turn a well-known male character for a female (or vice-versa) would normally be ridiculous. But in the world of science-fiction, anything can happen.
One of the sublime wonders of The Doctor is his ability to regenerate – to completely change his form, his personality, and most importantly, the actor playing him. It’s what’s allowed the show to continue for going on fifty years, changing tone and direction with each change of main actor. And with each change, a growing part of the audience asks the question that Chris Claremont used to ask so often when creating comic characters; “Is there any reason this character can’t be a woman?”
The simple answer is no. When Matt Smith took the role, as the Doctor did a quick anatomical inventory, he felt his long hair and thought for a moment he’d regenerated into a female. A couple years later, Neil Gaiman set the concept in stone – he created The Corsair, another renegade Time Lord whom The Doctor knew very well. He described him as a “A good man… a couple of times a good woman”. So there it is, a Time Lord can change their gender during regeneration. You gonna argue with Neil Gaiman, cause I’m not.
The current Doctor, Matt Smith, while assuring us that’s he’s not going anywhere anytime soon (and quite right too, IMHO) has gone on record that he thinks there’s any number of actresses who would make a fine Doctor. In an interview with The Mary Sue, he named Charlize Theron specifically. Late last year, Helen Mirren famously announced that she’d love to play the role as well.
Some people forget that showrunner and Twitter-bailer Steven Moffat has ALREADY brought us a female Doctor. In his Comic Relief story The Curse of Fatal Death, after burning through a staggering number of regenerations, The Doctor finally stands as Joanna Lumley, co-star of Absolutely Fabulous (and for those of us who care to show their age, Sapphire and Steel and The New Avengers). Yes, it was a comedy adventure, and out of continuity (I assume), but the moon did not fall from the sky when it happened.
So we’ve got the “can” out of the way. We now advance to the more complicated question…should he? The show has been amazingly good about representing same-sex relationships. From the beginning of the new series we’ve seen numerous characters in various “non-traditional” pairings, all portrayed as being spectacularly unimportant to the plot. The underlying message, if one had to spell it out is “There are a lot of the people in the universe, and some of the like men, and some of them like women, and it doesn’t make them any more good or bad as people.” So surely making the main character a woman would make that message even more powerful – it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you can still make an amazing difference in the world.
Of the people who argue against such a change, the arguments tend to circle around a small number of talking points.
YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO MAKE A STATEMENT Sadly, no matter how good an actress they would find, no matter how good the stories, there would absolutely be a part of the audience who would insist that the only reason the change was done for some socially-motivated reason, likely involving the phrase “Political Correctness.” It’s the same argument made in comics when a character is brought back as a new gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, etc. The argument seems to rule out the idea that the new/changed character could possibly be good, based on that ulterior motive. Any storyline or even dramatic moment that involves something unique about being that type of person is quickly pointed at as “proof” that the character exists solely to further the various agandae of that group, and any other group they can associate them to.
There’s an inherent issue with this argument, in that it suggests an attempt to diversify the types of characters out there must by definition be based on “cramming them down our throats” and not simply an attempt to show that there are more types of people out there, some bumpier than others. It can be tempting to make those characters ciphers for getting a writer’s pet viewpoints across, yes, and when proselytizing takes precedence over entertainment, the show can suffer. But considering how well the show has already brought alternate partnerships in with no massive shift in tone, I suspect this issue would not be a problem.
THAT’S NOT WHO HE IS The character has been a man for almost five decades – he sees himself as male, his friends, the universe in general see him as such. For him to become female is too large and fundamental change to the character, one that the characters in the narrative world, and certain the ones in the real world, could not accept. This is more an argument based on tradition than anything else, a general sense of what the character “is”, and an attempt to change that is more than they wish to stand.
It’s rather like “New Coke Syndrome” – when the soda chose to change its recipe, they experienced a pushback from the public far more than they’d expected. It wasn’t a problem with the taste – indeed the new formula tested better than the original. It was a basic resistance to a change to something people knew, and simply expected to be there. People who hadn’t drunk Coke in years were coming out against it. They realized it wasn’t the soda people were coming out for, but the memory of it, the way it affected their lives.
The people who make this point would likely be as against the idea of making The Doctor an American, or if they chose to change the look of the TARDIS. It’s BEEN that particular thing for so long, that to suggest it be changed is simply unthinkable.
IT’D CHANGE TOO MUCH Smith very cogently pointed out in the aforementioned interview that a female Doctor would result in a dynamic change in how he (she) interacts with the world. “It would change the role,” he explains, “because she would be a woman so when you put her in a room full of men, it’s a different scenario than if you put a man in a room full of men, because she’s a different sex.” This is not, I believe, necessarily a bad thing. It could very definitely challenge the writers to find ways to combat that mindset with the people she meets, or result in creating a character so strong and forceful that she just takes control of a room so quickly, the question of “who the heck are you?” tends to get forgotten. Indeed, that’s exactly how the character works now.
BOYS DON’T WATCH SHOWS WITH GIRLS IN It’s an old chestnut, but it’s been stated as gospel since time immemorial, and no matter how many examples disprove it (where my bronies at?) it’s seen as an inarguable fact by marketing and programming executives alike. The idea is that young boys (the primary audience of the series) will “only” watch a show with a male lead, in the same way girls “only” watch shows with a girl lead, preferably wearing a tutu, and with a talking lhasa apso as a sidekick. Of course the problem is, Doctor Who is a show with very strong female characters, sometimes stronger than the male ones, and it doesn’t seem to have affected the audience much at all.
From a narrative and social point of view, there’s very little that seems to be stopping such a move. Sadly, the real reason we likely won’t see such a change is based simply in money. Change is risky, and the larger the change, the greater the risk. Switching to a female lead would be quite risky indeed. No matter how questionably valid each of the above arguments are, they are all held by some people, and likely Auntie Beeb have a better idea of how many than anyone outside of Television centre ever could. And they likely have good estimates on what sort of an effect such a change could have on the audience, and until their research shows it’ll have almost no negative effect at al, we’ll not see such a dramatic move made.
Odds are it’ll happen someday, if the show stays on long enough. And odds are there will be a hue and cry, and everyone will tune in, just to see what happens. And in a perfect world, they’ll be so impressed that they’ll be back the next week. And who knows, someday we might be reading articles on whether or not it’ll make sense to to switch back to a male character.
Award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia returns to his villainous roots as the voice of Lex Luthor in All-Star Superman, the highly anticipated 10th entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies coming February 22, 2011 from Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video.
LaPaglia is known far and wide for his lead role on the CBS drama Without A Trace, but his fame goes well beyond those 160 episodes over seven seasons on the primetime series. LaPaglia’s career highlights include an Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Simon on Frasier, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series/Drama for Without a Trace, and the 1998 Tony Award for Best Actor (Play) for the revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. He has also been honored with two AFI Awards as Best Lead Actor in the films Balibo (2009) and Lantana (2001).
LaPaglia takes the villainous lead in an All-Star Superman cast that includes James Denton (Desperate Housewives) as Superman, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as Lois Lane, seven-time Emmy® Award winner Ed Asner (Up) as Perry White, Golden Globe® winner Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) as Ma Kent, Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Jimmy Olsen and Linda Cardellini (ER) as Nasty.
In All-Star Superman, the Man of Steel rescues an ill-fated mission to the Sun (sabotaged by Lex Luthor) and, in the process, is oversaturated by radiation – which accelerates his cell degeneration. Sensing even he will be unable to cheat death, Superman ventures into new realms – finally revealing his secret to Lois, confronting Lex Luthor’s perspective of humanity, and attempting to ensure Earth’s safety before his own impending end with one final, selfless act.
There’s a certain grisly reality to CBS’ collection of [[[CSI]]] series that does the procedural part well, but depicts its characters as a particularly colorless bunch, overly serious and making the shows just a tad less engaging. Fox, wisely jumped on the police procedural bandwagon with something similar but certainly livelier.[[[Bones]]], based on Kathy Reichs novels, is a veritable rainbow of character types that has kept things captivating for six seasons now.
The fifth season, now out on DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, takes a mature set of characters and stirs the pot a bit as the season progresses. The basic set-up has a team of forensic anthropologists working for the Jeffersonian, standing in for the Smithsonian, handling cases for the FBI, led by Special Agent Seely Booth. The title character is the nickname of Dr. Temperance Brennan and while she’s the focal point, the series has evolved into a wonderful ensemble. Over the previous four seasons, we’ve seen the cast grow as we’ve met friends and family of each of the core characters, most of whom serve to counterpoint the actual cases being investigated.
Since the third season, the series has also been having a rotation of interns working for Brennan, each with their own personality and quirks, so they also serve as a constant freshening of the characters and situations. Hart Hanson, who has adapted the novels for television, has done a strong job with keeping the series fresh and never less than entertaining. He also allows his characters strong points of view so Brennan, who is so literal minded she has trouble interacting with most people, is constantly trying to understand why people do what they do. Booth, on the other hand, is a practicing Catholic and dislikes having his faith challenged but also explains the world to Brennan in ways that make her reconsider the world.
Hanson did a great job casting David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel as the leads since they not only play well off one another, but have grown as performers. The remainder of the cast has also been well populated with a strong group of characters. They spark off one another quite well.
Association of Media-Tie-in Writers presented the fourth annual “Scribe” awards,
honoring such notable franchises as CSI, Criminal Minds, The X-Files, Star
Trek, Stargate, Star Wars, and Dr. Who. Nominees on hand include Alina Adams
(As the World Turns), Max Allan Collins (G.I. Joe), Keith R. A. DeCandido
(Star Trek), Stacia Deutsch (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), Jeff
Mariotte (CSI), Nathan Long (Warhammer), and Dayton Ward (Star Trek). The event was hosted by
moderator Collins and awards presenter Lee Goldberg (Monk).
Following are the nominated works. Winners are highlighted in bold.
BEST NOVEL (GENERAL FICTION)
As The World Turns: The Man From Oakdale by “Henry Coleman” & Alina Adams CSI: Brass In Pocket by Jeff Mariotte Psych: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Read by William Rabkin
BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL (SPECULATIVE FICTION)
Star Trek Vanguard: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward Star Trek: A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. Decandido Warhammer: Shamanslayer—A Gotrek and Felix Novel by Nathan Long Terminator Salvation: Cold War by Greg Cox (Tie) Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson (Tie)
BEST ADAPTATION (GENERAL & SPECULATIVE)
Countdown by Greg Cox GI Joe: Rise Of The Cobra by Max Allan Collins The Tudors: Thy Will Be Done by Elizabeth Massie
BEST YOUNG ADULT (ORIGINAL & ADAPTED)
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Stacia Deutsch And Rhody Cohon Bandslam: The Novel by Aaron Rosenberg Thunderbirds: Deadly Danger by Joan Marie Verba
GRANDMASTER: WILLIAM JOHNSTON
Congratulations to all the winners, including ComicMix’s own Aaron Rosenberg!
The third annual presentation of the International Association of Media-Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) “Scribe” awards just went down at San Diego Comic-Con, honoring the best and the brightest in the world of property tie-ins. Awards are voted on by members of the organization.
“These writers, highly prized by fans, receive few reviews and
little acclaim, and the Scribe Awards are designed as a step toward
properly honoring them,” said Max Allan Collins, president of IAMTW, in a press release.
I know this is what you’re waiting for, so here’s the list of winners:
Best General Fiction
Original – CSI: Headhunter
by Greg Cox
Best General Fiction
Adapted – Indiana Jones and
the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Rollins
Best Speculative Fiction
Original – Star Trek Terok Nor:
Day of the Vipers by James Swallow
Best Speculative Fiction
Adapted – Hellboy II: The Golden
Army by Robert Greenberger
Best Young Adult Original – Primeval: Shadow of
the Jaguar by Steven Savile
Best Young Adult Adapted – Journey to the Center
of the Earth 3D by Tracey West
The Grandmaster Award – Keith R.A. DeCandido
DeCandido, the recipient of the Grandmaster Award, is the writer of several Star Trek, CSI, and Supernatural books, just to name a few.
“Things like this make all the difference, there are plenty of days when I don’t feel up to my job and my belief in my own words is shaky at best, but now, when I’m down there, I will just have to look at the shelf and see this incredible gift from the guys in the trenches, and I’ll be able to shut up the doubting devils and get back to work,” said Steven Savile in an e-mail to the IAMTW mailing list after finding out about his win.
“This means a lot to me, coming as does from my fellow laborers in the tie-in trenches,” wrote Greg Cox to that same list. “But, boy, now I really wish I could have swung a trip to San Diego somehow…”
Congratulations to all the winners– and to ComicMix contributor Robert Greenberger, happy birthday!
IDW Publishing is pleased to announce the
upcoming launch of the first series of ComicMix.com properties, GrimJack: The Manx Cat. For the first time in print, fans can now enjoy
the adventures of GrimJack in 26 full color pages published straight
from the online comic. Writer John Ostrander and artist Timothy
Truman skillfully return to the grim and gritty interdimensional land of
Cynosure, in which gun-for-hire GrimJack holds court in the fabled
“We’re excited to be bring some of the best ComicMix properties to
real-world books, and GrimJack is a great way to start,” said Greg
Goldstein, chief operating officer of IDW. “The new books are a great
new way to enjoy ComicMix fans to enjoy their favorite comics, and
expose the properties to new fans.”
GrimJack debuted in the mid-80s and rapidly became one of First
Comics’ best-selling titles. Created by Ostrander and Truman, the
series was revived in 2005 for the graphic novel Killer Instinct,
published by IDW, which is also home to the trade paperback reprints of the First Comics’ material.
“It’s sort of a homecoming for us,” GrimJack and ComicMix
editor-in-chief Mike Gold notes. “We’ve had a long and productive
relationship with IDW – absolutely the best I’ve had in my career.
There’s no better choice to restart at the place we took off initially,
with a brand-new GrimJack mini-series.”
GrimJack: The Manx Cat #1 will be available in stores in August. Diamond order code JUN09 0951
About IDW IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books,
graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. As
a leader in the horror, action, and sci-fi genres, IDW publishes some
of the most successful and popular titles in the industry including:
television’s #1 prime time series CBS’ CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation; Paramount’s Star Trek; Fox’s Angel; Hasbro’s The Transformers, and the BBC’s Doctor Who. IDW’s original horror
series, 30 Days of Night, was launched as a major motion picture in
October 2007 by Sony Pictures and was the #1 film
in its first week of release. In April 2008, IDW released Michael
Recycle, the first title from its new children’s book imprint,
Worthwhile Books. More information about the company can be found at http://www.idwpublishing.com.
The original CSI series has a habit of setting episodes in the worlds of various subcultures — they’ve had cases about furries, vampires and the BDSM scene. Surprisingly, it’s taken until the ninth season for them to get around to solving a crime at a science fiction convention.
Tune in tonight to CBS at 9 PM EST for the episode "A Space Oddity," where two of the lab rats, Hodges and Wendy, go to blow off steam at a convention for a fictional show called, "Astro Quest" (that bears a striking resemblance to a Certain Program about a 5-Year Mission) and find their work following them when a murder takes place.
This episode is going to be a field day for TV SF fans — behind the scenes, it’s a Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica reunion party (with quite a few other series represented). If you’re a credits reader, you may recall that CSI executive producer Naren Shankar worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (as well as other shows such as Farscape). The CSI episode is written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, who wrote for DS9 and most recently, BSG. The episode will be directed by Michael Nankin, who has also worked extensively on BSG. Joshua Cox will play the star of the fictional "Astro Quest" show (TV SF fans will remember he played the bridge officer on Babylon 5).
Keep your eyes open for cameos by BSG (and former Star Trek) producer Ronald D. Moore, as well as BSG stars Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh) and Grace Park (Cylon "Skin Job" Model 8 — I’ll leave it to the reader to keep track of how many names she went by). There may be other cameo appearances too, so get that freeze-frame button ready.
Finally, in the category of "Hey, it’s That Guy!" Arne Starr will show up as an artist guest at the convention, which we understand will be quite a stretch for him.