Star Trek: Discovery Collector’s Edition published

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The Official Star TrekDiscovery Collector’s Edition is an in-depth look at the new series written by myself (Chris Gardner), Kristin Baver, Ian Spelling and Karen Stoddard-Haynes.

It includes detailed character profiles, most of which I wrote,  and interviews with key cast members, exclusive photographs, and behind-the-scenes facts on the making of Star Trek’s new voyages.

Also featuring guides to the Klingon Empire, again by me, and the United Federation of Planets, an exclusive look at Star TrekDiscovery’s props, costumes, weapons, and concept art, plus a complete Star Trek timeline.

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Doctor Who Christmas Special Cinema Release

TUT

Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker will debut on the big screen in Australasia with some exclusive content.

Twice Upon A Time, the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special, featuring 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi’s regeneration into Whittaker, will get a cinematic showing on Boxing Day. Whittaker is the first woman to play the Doctor.

It’s evident, from the last episode of Season 10 The Doctor Falls, that David Bradley will reprise the first Doctor introduced to television audiences in 1963 by William Hartnell. Actor Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who scriptwriter and Sherlock co-creator, will also appear in Twice Upon A Time.

The screening will include bonus pieces celebrating Capaldi’s three seasons as the Doctor, and departing show runner Steven Moffat who took over the show in 2010 with 11th Doctor Matt Smith.

BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand and Sharmill Films are behind the cinematic screening.

BBC Worldwide ANZ Live Entertainment Executive Louise Hill said: “Doctor Who fans love watching the show on the big screen and with Peter Capaldi regenerating into the first female Doctor, this promises to be an iconic episode.”

Sharmill Films Marketing Manager Jacinta Palmer said: “There’s nothing quite like the big screen experience, and we’re thrilled to give fans the opportunity to bid farewell to the fantastic Peter Capaldi in cinemas nationally, and to usher in Jodie Whittaker’s hugely anticipated debut as the 13th Doctor”.

As well as this great chance for fans to come together and watch Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time on the big screen, the episode will also be available on ABC iview immediately after the UK broadcast and will air on ABC at 7.30pm December 26th. Straight afterwards fans can join Rove and his guests for a special regeneration episode of WHOVIANS. 

For more information see: www.sharmillfilms.com.au/allfilms/doctor-who-xmas

As well as the Doctor Who films of the 1960s, starring Peter Cushing, Doctor Who has enjoyed a handful of cinematic outings. The 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, was shown in November 2013. Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath, also showed on the big screen as well as the 2016 Christmas Special: Return of Doctor Mysterio.

 

Review: STM Goods Kings 15 Inch Laptop Backpack

The king of laptop bags

The trusty business laptop needs to travel in safety if it’s to be relied upon in that deal clinching meeting.

One careless impact between your office and your meeting venue could turn the latest and greatest in laptop technology into the most expensive door stop you’ve ever known, and so prevent the presentation of that contract winning presentation.

Slingtech Protection has been incorporated into Australian manufacturer’s STM Goods’ laptop messenger bags and backpacks for a while now. Slingtech ensconces the laptop in a padded sling which suspends the device from the bottom and sides of the bag where it might get damaged from an impact. It’s just the sort of innovation you’d expect from a company whose mission statement is to provide stuff that matters for the doers of the world, a group they refer to as “Generation Do”.

The STM Goods Kings 15 Inch Laptop Backpack is among the latest to be released by the Sydney company with Slingtech Protection.

STM Goods Kings 15 Inch Laptop Backpack

The backpack has two main compartments.

The main compartment is reasonably spacious. As well as having a document pouch, and a small pocket fastedned by Velcro for the likes of medication or an asthma inhaler, I managed to fit a small extendable umbrella, raincoat in a pouch, large lunchbox and a banana in to it, with a little leftover space.

The zippered flap which gives you access to the main compartment opens to reveal a zippered pocket on the inside which is fleece lined for your mouse or other peripherals, STM’s website suggests sunglasses. Another zippered pocket is on the outside for business cards or other items you need quick access to.

The Slingtech solution, for laptops of up to 15 inches, is at the heart of the second compartment. The comparted also includes a couple of quilted pouches for either documents or smaller mobile devices like a tablet or smartphone.

There’s a couple of hidden compartments to the side, big enough for power cables or mobile device chargers. There’s also a series of small holes allowing you to snake your charging cable from one pocket to any compartment to ensure your mobile device is charged when you arrive.

The STM Goods Kings 22 litre laptop bag is available in botanical green, china blue, desert brown or tornado grey. Heathcotes, JB Hi-Fi, OOBE and PB Technologies are among the New Zealand stockists of STM Goods bags.

Star Trek Magazine #63 is out

When the original Star Trek series was threatened with cancellation by NBC, it was Bjo Trimble and her husband John that organized the unprecedented letter-writing campaign that saved the show.

The success of that campaign should never be underestimated, as without it Star Trek would be but a dim-and-distant memory.

In the first part of a two-part interview with me (Chris Gardner) in Issue 63 of Star Trek Magazine, Bjo remembers the highs and lows of campaigning to keep Trek on TV. (Pages 48 to 53)

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In the world of entertainment, success breeds sequels, and with Star Trek guaranteeing big audiences in both cinemas and on TV with The Next Generation, it was only a matter of time before commissioners came looking for another Trek TV series.

So, it was that Deep Space Nine stepped into the limelight, and with it a myriad of opportunities for make-up supervisor Michael Westmore to create countess new aliens.

Michael remembers Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise in the conclusion of his two-part interview with me on pages 54 to 61.

Review: Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock Bluetooth Speakers by Fametek

Set phasers on fun!

For that’s exactly the feeling this pair of Bluetooth speakers from Fametek evoke.

It feels like the American manufacturer have gone for a Pop! Vinyl sort of feel with this pair of speakers inspired by William Shatner’s portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series. Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock is at Kirk’s side, as if he’s always been there and always will.

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Kirk carries a drawn Starfleet Type 2 Phaser with a Type 1 Phaser correctly inserted in his right hand and a tribble in his left hand.

Spock gives the Vulcan salute with his right hand while holding his left hand, fist clenched, behind his back. A Tricorder hangs around his neck and across his chest.

The speakers include a built in Lithium-Ion 500 mh rechargeable battery. They are charged by plugging the supplied micro-USB charging cable into the back of the speaker and into a computer USB port or 1A/5V charging block. The speaker’s red LED glows while it is charging, tuning off when it is charged.

A three-way switch on the rear of each speaker allows you to switch from off to Auxiliary Mode, allowing you to plug in any audio device via its headphone socket and the supplied auxiliary 3.5mm line-in cable. I tested this function with Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast from my iPhone 5S and it was delivered clearly and crisply on the 1.5”/38mm Massive Audio driver. They sounded just as good in Bluetooth mode.

Bluetooth Mode is a flick of the switch to the left. On Kirk you get Shatner: “This is Captain James Kirk of the USS Enterprise”. On Spock it’s: “Live long and prosper”. Phaser fire accompanies Kirk’s pairing with your device and “Full ahead, Warp Factor One” when you disconnect. For Spock it’s the whir of a Tricorder and “Captain, I suggest the Vulcan mind probe”. There’s nine sound effects for each of the speakers, in all, which play in different scenarios. Or you can play them directly by pressing the SFX button for two seconds.

I made a call with the speakers, when connected to my smartphone. I could hear the recipient fine, but my voice was too quiet. Not a deal breaker.

Captain Kirk (Model FT-KRK) and Mr. Spock (Model FT_SPK) are available at a recommended retail price of US$49.95.

 

Review – Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series

Review – Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series

Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series

(BBC, PG)

Matt Smith’s final season as the Doctor arrived on DVD in late 2013.

It seems hard to believe that we were first introduced to the 11th and 12th Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) in the first episode of the series which aired in 2012.

We wondered, back then, what the heck show runner Steven Moffat was playing at when he introduced the Doctor’s new companion within a Dalek travel machine and then killed her at the episode’s conclusion.

The episode was called Asylum of the Daleks and aired on the BBC on September 1, 2012.

It was as epic as the movie style poster created to advertise it, showing the Doctor carrying an unconscious Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) through the flames of a Dalek mad house.

Not everyone liked Amy, for her over impulsiveness, but I loved her relationship with the Doctor and husband Rory (Arthur Darvill) and was genuinely upset when they departed the show half way through the season.

The Angels Take Manhattan was a fitting swan song for the Ponds and, once again, Moffat showed what an excellent writer he was as he tugged on the heart strings again and again throughout this episode.

There’s so many great moments in it. The idea that the Statue of Liberty was a massive Weeping Angel was genius and obvious at the same time. The closing scenes are throat lump inducing.

In the middle of that first half of the season we finally met Rory’s dad, Brian, who has a wonderful workman moment in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. He is glimpsed with his feet hanging out of the front door of the TARDIS, packed lunch and flask of tea in hand, admiring the wonders of the universe as she flies through space. Modern Doctor Who is made of great, crazy, moments as these. I dearly wished we had seen more of his character, who shines brightly in The Power of Three.

Clara, of course, returned in 2012’s Christmas special The Snowmen and died in that before returning in The Bells of Saint John which aired on March 30. It was a long time to wait for new Who so thank the Time Lords for the BBC’s release of classic Who on DVD and Big Finish Productions’ new audio plays in the meantime.

The second half of Season 7 was more of a mixed bag than the first with some true classics like Wellington writer Neil Cross’s musical extravaganza Rings of Akhaten (Murray Gold’s brilliant score is now available on CD) and ghost (or is that love?) story Hide. There’s also a few clunkers, which is a shame, but you can’t win them all.

Because of its premise, about the adventures of an alien adventurer who travels through time and space in a police box which is bigger on the inside, Doctor Who can be set anywhere and tell any genre of story. So some are bound to work better than others and some will not appeal if they are made in genres you are not a fan of.

I found some of my favourites were loathed by others, and vice versa, but we were all agreed that the best episode of the season was the finale The Name of the Doctor which came packed with surprises. It explained how Clara could appear in so many past stories, including with all 10 of Smith’s predecessors, and was a real love letter to fans. And boy, what a cliff hanger, introducing John Hurt as the Doctor. But where, oh where, does he fit in. Spoilers.

But there’s more reasons to buy this boxed set than just having the whole season in one five disc set and that’s the extras.

There’s more than three hours, some of which are little prequel webisodes which feed into key episodes. Yes, some of them are already online, but here they are in one place in this set, and they do help set up some of the stories.

There are also three good documentaries on the Doctor’s companions, the science of the show and how the series is viewed in the US.

Toruk – The First Flight (Cirque du Soleil) at the Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Toruk – The First Flight (Cirque du Soleil) at the Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand

Cirque du Soleil set itself an ambitious target when it decided to attempt a show based on James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar. But Toruk – The First Flight took off in so many ways.

The show tells the story of the first blue skinned na’vi of the planet Pandora to ride a killer Toruk bird, an event probably as momentous as the invention of the wheel in our own history.

Before the climactic flight Toruk’s rider, and his friends, must go on a quest as they collect artefacts from five tribes living in five quite different environments on the almost untamed planet.

One of the many highlights of the performance is the evolving of the laser projected sets as they change from one environment to the other. During one transition cliffs appear, water cascades down them and pool on the ground where rocky outcrops remain dry as the characters on the quest traverse the landscape. It was close to photo real, and amazing to behold.

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Avatar – The First Flight is the classic hero’s journey identified by mythologist Joseph Campbell, more comparable to the 1978 Doctor Who story The Key to Time than The Lord of the Rings or the original Star Wars trilogy.

But the hero’s journey in Toruk – The First Flight will change the world as much as Luke Skywalker’s or Frodo Baggins’s quest to topple the Empire and defeat Sauron. All that said, The First Flight is a simple story told through a little narration in English as every word uttered on stage by the performers is in the Na’vi tongue.

Because this is also a Cirque du Soleil show the journey is infused with death defying feats including breath taking aerial rope work, well choreographed native dance and a plethora of other indescribable na’vi antics.

The story is at the forefront at times, particularly at the beginning of the show during the set up, but most of the time it is about the physical feats of the performers.

But they are mostly worked into the story in such a way that they feel natural to the na’vi.

Complaints of the show being too much about Avatar are, frankly, bonkers. This is an Avatar prequel, true and blue, which happens to be put on by Cirque du Soleil. And James Cameron is, evidently, proud.