Category Archives: Television

Television: R2-D2’s Inner Workings Revealed in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

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R2-D2 and R3-S6 (AKA Goldie)

Have you ever wondered what is R2-D2 made of? Well audiences and Star Wars fans will find out, both literally and figuratively, as Duel of the Droids, an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiers at 9 PM EST on Friday, November 14th on Cartoon Network.

Duel of the Droids which was written by Kevin Campbell (“Disney’s House of Mouse,” “Jackie Chan Adventures”) completes a two-episode story arc. Anakin, Ahsoka and replacement droid R3-S6 (aka “Goldie”) must embark on a dual rescue/sabotage mission when they discover R2-D2 is being held at General Grievous’s secret enemy listening post. In writing this script, Campbell created a little extra work for the Lucasfilm Animation crew when he used the unusually vivid word “splayed” to describe how R2-D2’s internal mechanisms would be removed and exhibited across an examining table. That gave the production team ample opportunity to delve into Artoos’s inner workings and have a little fun with director Rob Campbell to boot.

According to director Rob Coleman, R2-D2 is the ultimate Swiss Army knife. “We all love the myriad things that come out of him, but having to build and animate all of that is another story”, He say of the challenge of animating the ‘splayed out’ scenes for R2-D2.

To achieve the effect and have it stay true to the films and the history of this particular droid, they turned to Lucasfilm Animation’s Gary Scheppke, who got a box full of ‘Artoo bits’ and to the modelers who began basing all of their work off the actual hardware that has historically been shown as being part of R2-D2.

“We crammed it into the model inside the computer. There are definitely some recognizable pieces on that table from the films, as well as all the things that show up for the first time in this episode – a cutter wheel, suction cups, etc.,” Coleman says of the process. “Then they animated in a few things like a pea shooter and a boxing glove just to get my attention. They’re funny guys.”

As for getting the opportunity to write this episode, Campbell says he took pride in the chance to add some history for Artoo and his capabilities, showing some aspects of the droid that audiences haven’t seen before. “I love that we’re adding back story to the back story,” Campbell explains with enthusiasm. “We discover that when Princess Leia hid the Death Star plans inside Artoo in Episode IV, it’s not the first time he’s been entrusted with important information.”

Campbell says he also enjoyed that he and the production team get to play with Anakin’s emotional side. “The other Jedi are saying he gets too attached, that he’s willing to risk everything to get Artoo back. He’s a Jedi, and yet he assigns sentimental value to an inanimate object. I can relate to that, because that’s real loyalty.”


TELEVISION: Estate of Panic: Just a Bit Too Late For Hallowe’en!

By now, you, my loyal readers, will know that I tend to despise/loathe/abominate reality TV – which is why I am surprised when I find myself liking a reality series like Cha$e, where the format is more game show than anything else, and relies on contestants being capable of utilizing their intelligence [and some spiffy effects work]. Then there are the shows that stress endurance of the loathsome in the service of greed – like Fear Factor. Estate of Panic [Sci-Fi, Wednesdays, 10/9C] is such a show; a mix of Fear Factor and a haunted house.

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Seven contestants are gathered in a spooky mansion where host Steve Valentine [Jordan’s Crossing] explains the rules as a Karloff-wannabe butler looks on. The rules are these: the contestants will enter three rooms/areas of the estate where they will find lots of money; these rooms/areas will be booby-trapped in some way and thus present a challenge to the contestants; the person with the least money and the last person in the room/area will be eliminated.

In the premiere, the tests/challenges/tortures are: snakes and flooding; walls and ceilings that close in on the contestants, while crabs and worms are freed from their aquaria by the ceiling dropping, and a garden area looped with wires that give the contestants varying degrees of electrical shocks. But wait! There’s more!

Following each challenge, two contests are dropped from the game [for the reasons described above] and the last person standing gets all the money collected – if they can overcome one last test – a vault with two hundred safety deposit boxes. There’s a timer that will lock the vault in a specified time, so the finalist must work quickly. As an added incentive to hurry, the finalist is shackled to the floor of the vault and must also look for keys or implements that help free them. There are also some less friendly contents in some of the boxes.

The challenges will, naturally, vary from episode to episode.

Estate of Panic might have worked as a one-off for Hallowe’en, but as a series, it would seem to be the logical successor to Fear Factor. If you like watching real people willingly being scared and/or tortured, this show will appeal to you. In spite of Johnson’s suitably creepy presence as the host – and Rupert, the butler – Estate of Panic revolted me. Not as much as Fear Factor, but close.

Final Grade: D

TELEVISION: Cha$e – The Sci-Fi Channel Brings Video Games to Life!

With Cha$e [Tuesdays, 10/9C], The Sci Fi Channel adapts a highly successful Japanese game show format for American audiences. The rules are simple enough: ten runners must avoid capture by five hunters on a specified game zone for one hour – while finding devices to help avoid, misdirect or otherwise thwart the runners. Even the map of the zone is acquired through a test. Host Trey Farley explains the rules and gives the runners updates on various challenges – and the surprising nature of the fifth hunter – before eventually revealing the mystery exit point. Although runners must work together at times, only one can win – the prize is twenty-five thousand dollars.

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There will be CG effects touches to make the show more closely emulate the feel of a video game. There are graphics that show the locations of the runners and the hunters; the hunters will be CG-enhanced figures [instead of just the already creepy men in black with designer sunglasses that appear on the screener]. Runners are shown in electronic “cards” each of which flashes their basic stats, and the equivalent of power gauging bars appear on the bottom third of the screen to show what devices the various runners have/have used/have failed to obtain. The actual gameplay is not especially exciting, though I expect that when all the CG effects are laid in, that will be an improvement.

What is interesting, though, is the way the runners think before, during and after gameplay. One losing runner says, “I thought I wouldn’t care, but I do” – another is quite expressly angry about having failed. Others are more philosophical.

In fairness, I should probably point out that – while Cha$e is based on the aforementioned successful Japanese game show format – the game should really carry an “inspired by” credit for the late Robert Sheckley, whose short story, The Seventh Victim, was adapted into the hit movie, The 10th Victim. With the exception that Sheckley’s hunters and hunted were a stand-in for large scale war – and the principles of his much more violent game [including being televised] are pretty much present here. Sheckley was right, too. The game makes for intriguing – if not brilliant – television.

Final Grade: B-

Television: SUPERNATURAL "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Teaser Clips

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The hit CW Network/Warner Bros. series Supernatural, which stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester: two monster hunting, demon fighting brothers – seems to be really hitting its stride in it’s fourth season with this week’s episode, Wishful Thinking, getting 3.73 overnight rating.

Next week, Supernatural heads into ‘Sweeps Weeks’ with one of two highly anticipated episodes of the fourth season. In this first episode, a tip from Ruby (guest star Genevieve Cortese) sends Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on the trail of Anna (guest star Julie McNiven – “Mad Men”), a mysterious young woman who is being hunted by both demons and angels.  Fans will also learn the long-awaited answer to the question of what happened to Sam (Jared Padalecki) during the four long months following his brother Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) death.  Additional guest stars include Misha Collins as ‘Castiel,’ Robert Wisdom as ‘Uriel’ and Mark Rolston as ‘Alastair.”  “I Know What You Did Last Summer” was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Charles Beeson.

Check out the two teaser clips provided for us by Warner Bros/The CW Network and then check out Supernatural next week on the CW at 9PM EST.

Television:R2-D2 Takes Center Stage in All-New Episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

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In “Downfall of a Droid,” an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Nov. 7, on Cartoon Network, R2-D2 is lost during a fierce space battle and Anakin must find him before the Separatists discover the Jedi military secrets locked in the droid’s memory banks.

Directed by Rob Coleman and written by George Krstic, “Downfall of a Droid” is the first episode to feature the beloved astromech droid who has been with the Star Wars Franchise since the very beginning, first appearing the 1977 release of Star Wars: A New Hope. Krstic, the creator of Cartoon Network’s “Megas XLR,” says that R2-D2 is his favorite STAR WARS character.

“Artoo is very childlike and inquisitive, there’s no subterfuge to Artoo,” Krstic says. “He’s got loyalty and bravery and, while he doesn’t speak English, I think everyone understands what he’s saying. The wonderful sound design work and the incredible characterizations for Artoo have made it so that it doesn’t matter what language you speak, or where you’re from — you can relate to Artoo and what he’s about.”

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and current resident of Los Angeles, George Krstic has written three episodes for STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS and says his ultimate “nerd moment” came when he discovered there would be merchandising on some of the characters he’s worked on for the series.

“A few of the characters I wrote for on the series are being made into action figures and, as a fan, that’s pretty much the pinnacle of my career,” Krstic said with a laugh. “I can die happy now because it’s not going to get better.”

Dave Filoni is the supervising director of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. George Lucas is executive producer and creator of the series, and Catherine Winder is producer.

Trademark information for Star Wars: The Clone Wars images:
TM & © 2008 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Television: Supernatural Behind the Scenes- Todd Stashwick Talks Episode 4.05 Monster Movie

On Thursday October 30th at 9PM EST the hit Warner Bros/CW Network series Supernatural will air it’s Halloween episode, titled ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester’. As the Winchester’s say, every day is Halloween for them when it comes to dealing with all manner of beasties, demons, ghouls and witches. Plus this season there is even an angel or two thrown in for good measure. Those Winchester boys sure have their work cut out for them! 

In this spooktacular frightfest, which was written by Julie Siege and directed by Charles Beeson, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles): the two monster hunting, demon fighting brothers will be facing off against every type of horrific creature they have every encountered as they investigate some strange Halloween-related deaths that are taking place in a town during the days leading up to the holiday itself. As they begin to solve the mystery, they also learn the real origins of Halloween and find themselves trying to save the entire town itself from a surprising pair of would-be assassins. The episode also guest stars Misha Collins (“24”) as ‘Castiel’ and introduces Robert Wisdom (“The Wire”) as ‘Uriel.’

Continue reading Television: Supernatural Behind the Scenes- Todd Stashwick Talks Episode 4.05 Monster Movie

TELEVISION: The Ghost Hunters do it Live, this Halloween!

As Bill O’Reilly would say, “We’ll do it live, we’ll do it live!” My boys Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, Sci-Fi’s The Ghost Hunters, will actually be in my neck of the woods this weekend doing a live 7 Hour Halloween Hunt at the historical Fort Delaware. This special event will be hosted by Destination Truth’s Josh Gates & Steve Valentine with special guest hunter Amanda Tapping. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with this, Sci-Fi is promoting this as a live event, but I’m pretty sure it’s being taped Wed night (tonight). Because they aren’t letting press attend – not even little ol me.  I was invited to lunch, unfortunately my day job keeps me from going. Either way, I love the Ghost Hunters, the show and the guys, after going on a hunt with them and Amanda a few weeks ago, I’m a believer in all ghostly things. Even ghost farts.

Who knew that I lived an hour and half away from one of the most haunted places in the country  Fort Delaware, commonly referred to as the “Black Hole,” Fort Delaware was used during the Civil War as a POW camp that housed over 33,000 Confederate soldiers. Ravaged by epidemics and torture nearly 2,400 failed to escape and died on the island. The restless spirits have never left.  Join the exclusive seven-hour hunt from home with access to thermal imaging camera feeds and live Q&A with TAPS team members and host Josh Gates. Watch carefully for anything out of the ordinary — you’ll be able to send instant alerts of any sightings you make straight to the Ghost Hunters!  Brace yourself this Halloween when TAPS takes you on the ultimate ghost hunt. The team returns to the Fort Delaware scene of this season’s most jolting and revealing episode.

Television: Supernatural 4.07 It’s the Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester Teaser Clips

Supernatural season four continues to be going great guns in the ratings, with this past week’s episode, Yellow Fever receiving a 3.25 in the overnight ratings.

Now, ALL-NEW CLIPS of next week’s Halloween-themed episode have been made available for Eclipse Magazine readers by Warner Bro. Television. Supernatural stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester: two monster hunting, demon fighting brothers. The episode, titled “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” will air on Thurs., 10/30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

In the episode, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) investigate some strange Halloween-related deaths that are taking place in a town during the days leading up to the holiday itself.  As they begin to solve the mystery, they also learn the real origins of Halloween and find themselves trying to save the entire town itself from a surprising pair of would-be assassins.  Introducing Robert Wisdom (“The Wire”) as ‘Uriel,’ the episode also guest stars Misha Collins (“24”) as ‘Castiel.’  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” was written by Julie Siege and directed by Charles Beeson.

Check out the clips and tune into the CW Network Thursday nights at 9PM EST to catch new episodes of the hit series Supernatural. Supernatural.

Television: Supernatural Creator Eric Kripke Clarifies A Comment Made About Dean Winchester in Yellow Fever

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In this past Thursday’s episode of Supernatural titled Yellow Fever, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) was infected with something called Ghost Sickness. In an exchange between Dean and his brother Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) a comment was made by Sam that the others who had died from this were considered ‘real dicks’. Dean responds ‘so I’m a dick’?

Within minutes of the episode ending, the internet was filled with fans going to Supernatural forums and Live Journals to protest this apparent denigration of the character of Dean Winchester by the writers of Supernatural. Today, Supernatural Creator Eric Kripke has released the following statement to clarify the issue and assure fans that no denigration of Dean Winchester was ever truly intended.

Eric Kripke:

So I’ve never before responded directly to the fandom’s comments about an episode, and I don’t plan to make a habit of it, but I couldn’t resist dropping in a thought about the episode “Yellow Fever.”
Which is this:

Dean is not a dick.

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None of the writers, or anyone on the creative team of Supernatural, think Dean’s ever been a dick, past, present, or future.  He’s a hero.  Dean did NOT contract the ghost sickness because he’s a dick.

Victims contract the illness because they use “fear as a weapon.”  Dean asks Lilith at the episode’s end, “why did I get infected?”  And she cryptically responds, “you know why.  Listen to your heart.” 

We, as the writers, probably should have emphasized this mystery more, I take responsibility for that omission.  But the point is: the reason he was infected is because of a SECRET he’s keeping.  A dark secret that will be revealed in Episode 10.  And not at all because of any dickishness, implied or otherwise.

Thanks, gang. “

Eric Kripke, Creator Supernatural

TELEVISION: The Ex List – Still Unbalanced – And Not In a Good Way!

Tonight’s episode of The Ex List [CBS, 9/8C] – Do You Love Me, Do You, Surfer… Boy” is the fourth of the show’s first [and quite possibly last] season and, despite several ingratiating performances [and a wide variety of ex-boyfriends], it isn’t a substantial improvement over the pilot.

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Bella [Elizabeth Reaser] is following her plan to revisit her past boyfriends as per the fortune teller’s [Anne Bedian] prophecy that her soulmate is someone with whom she’s had a romantic relationship – and that if she hasn’t found him within a year, she’ll never marry. As a result, she’s encountering – in various unexpected ways – past boyfriends by the bucket load. This week it’s Shane [Brian Van Holt], a surf bum who has “grown up” to be famous and surprisingly business savvy.

The episode begins when the two meet cute and begin to see each other. We get a token look at Bella at work and there are arcs involving her engaged sister, Daphne [Rachel Boston], getting some photos done; her roommates, Augie [Adam Rothenberg] and Vivian [Alex Breckenridge] having some relationship problems [a showerhead and little to no imagination are involved], and Cyrus [Amir Talai] trying to scam a free board to teach a gorgeous woman to surf.

Although the subject of Bella’s quest is different, the pattern is pretty much beat for beat the same. The reconnect; they feel the generated chemistry; they learn how each changed over the years, and they fall apart just as things might be getting serious. The only difference here is that Shane has the potential to reappear in her life. Of the rest of the arcs, the only one that works is the showerhead one. Daphne might as well not have appeared in the ep, and Cyrus has gotten really old, really quickly.

In the pilot, written by series creator Diane Ruggerio, there were suggestions that we would see more of Bella’s life than just the fun parts and the ex-boyfriend parts. It seemed like we were going to get to see her at work as well as at play – and that her friends were going to actually be characters. The network, apparently, thought that the show should focus on just the play and romance and not the other [biggest] part of her life. The result is a show that entertains only sporadically, held aloft by the sheer charisma of Reaser and the characters of Augie and Vivian.

Given the potential in the pilot, this simply isn’t good enough. After invoking The Three-Ep rule, I was ready to stop watching, but CBS made a screener of the fourth ep available for review, so I asked for one. Sadly, it shows improvement only insofar as the ex of the week has the possibility of returning. In every other respect, The Ex List has not found the balance it needs to make it worth continued viewing.

Final Grade: C

TELEVISION: Dexter – TV’s Peabody Award Winning Serial Killer Renewed For Two More Seasons!

Dexter, the eponymous Showtime series about a serial killer who only targets other serial killers, is going to avoid capture for at least two more seasons. Showtime announced today that the Peabody Award-winning series has been renewed for seasons four and five. The series is in the midst of broadcasting its third season. Season four will begin shooting next spring.

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The series, which is Showtime’s highest rated drama series, is built around the character of Dexter Morgan [Michael C. Hall], a blood spatter expert for the Miami-Dade Police who moonlights as a serial killer who targets serial killers who have avoided capture, or been freed on technicalities.

Based on the first of a series of best-selling novels by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter has taken the novel’s characters into different – if equally intriguing – directions. Besides winning the Peabody Award, the series has also received two Emmy Awards and several other nominations [including Hall for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, this year], four Saturn Award nominations – with Hall winning for Best Actor in a Television Program; two TCA Awards nominations – with Hall taking the award for Individual Achievement in Drama – along with nominations for Alma Awards, Edgar Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Vision Awards. Dexter has also been twice named one of AFI’s top ten television programs.