Planetary Explorers Confounded By Giant Enigma

Don’t mess with the Giant.

We learned that fundamental rule very early in our stay here. The natives take their god seriously.

“Do Not Touch” is a simpler way to put it.

Our lesson came the hard way. Six of our best people were killed on the first expedition to the Giant – felled by the otherwise most congenial people we have ever encountered on our planetary explorations.

0025sign Signs of Trouble

We don’t know whether the Giant is animal, vegetable or mineral. It was visible from orbit upon our arrival, which was the primary reason we set down here. The giant rules the horizon, driving us crazy with its nearby unknowability.

The giant appears to be worshiped by the planet’s primitive humanoids. We’ve been close enough to see the structures erected at its feet. Temples?

We’ve observed that some of those who march, single-file to the temples every four planetary rotations don’t always come back. Sacrifices?

Theories about the nature of the Giant abound, as one might expect in a scientific community denied access to the focal point of its curiosity and further hampered by an incredibly hostile environment.

A few of us speculate that the Giant is a natural landscape feature, mindlessly forged by the same forces that shaped the planet as whole.


The least discerning eye cannot escape the detail of the Giant’s sagging face and posture. Random elements of nature could not create that figure.

More likely. The Giant is a mountain, painstakingly transformed, Mount Rushmore-style, as a tribute to some fallen hero from the planetary past.

Yet, the inhabitants to not appear to have the technological means to create such a monument.

That leads to my pet theory: The giant was a living being. He was a member of a king-sized race which preceded the current dominant species.

Slumped in despair at the demise of the rest of his kind, he was the final victim of an ice age that suddenly engulfed his world.

I am alone in this flight of fantasy. Most scientists, meaning those who are not me, require empirical data to support a hypothesis and form a theory. I had gone straight to theory.

I argued that, completely lacking scientific evidence for any theory explaining the giant’s existence, my conclusion was as valid as any other. As highly-educated and rational people, my fellow expedition members refrained from burning me at the stake, but I could read the look of dismissal in their eyes whenever we met.

Then came the awakening.

I had taken advantage of a toasty, minus 40-degree day to make a solo trek to an ice ridge about a quarter-mile from camp when the ground abruptly heaved and tossed me on my face. Somehow, I did not feel surprised when I looked back to see that the giant had risen and was facing the camp.

He did not look pleased.

I watched in horrified fascination as the giant strode purposefully toward the camp. The ground shook with each step.

When he reached the camp, he paused to look down on those who had invaded his domain. The entire expedition had grouped at the edge of the camp, staring up at the giant with, I assumed, an intense, scientific thirst for knowledge.

I cupped my hands and shouted in their direction.

“Ha! I told you so!”

Big mistake. As my words of vindication still echoed across the barren landscape, the giant squashed all of my colleagues with one well-placed foot.

Now, he’s coming in my direction. I wonder if I can somehow convey “I believe in you, Mister Giant,”  when he gets here.



Suspected Alien Device Found

       (Dexter, New Mexico, Aug. 13, 2343)– Archeologists sifting through a late 20th century landfill site here near Roswell have discovered possible evidence of a past extraterrestrial presence on earth.

Archaeologists remain locked in debate over the possible purpose of a strange object recently discovered in New Mexico, but they have thus far been unable to reach consensus.

“We don’t know, at this point, exactly what it might be,” said a clearly excited Adolf Bingham, the archeologist in charge of the Dexter dig. “We’ve never seen anything like it before on earth. Nothing in our records even hints of such a strange mechanism.”

Well preserved by the arid climate of New Mexico, the gumdrop-shaped device appears to be made of an otherworldly, greenish-blue, plastic-type material, lending further credence to theories of its alien origins. Plastic manufacturing has been banned from this planet for more than three centuries.

An insignia of some sort is emblazoned on what finders believe to be the front of the object. The marking resembles a partially-eaten apple, which has left analysts espousing a variety of theories.

“Some of us think it might have been a juicer used to process an alien fruit resembling our apples,” Bingham ventured. “Others believe it may have been a vacuum cleaner.”

“We haven’t dared to attempt disassembling the device,” Bingham added, “but we have noted several small apertures its exterior, indicating that limited attachments were possible. We may know more once we get inside.”

An obvious handle atop the artifact supports the vacuum cleaner theory. However, the device weighs more than 17 kilos, limiting its portability, unless it had originally been equipped with wheels.

“Another theory is that the makers of this device were significantly bigger than humans,” Bingham said. “It’s entirely possible that this object served as nothing more than a decorative, albeit gaudy, paperweight on some Amazonian alien file clerk’s field office desk more than 200 years ago.”

       The paperweight theory is currently the leading contender, according to a reliable source involved in the archeological analysis.



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As an added bonus with any purchase, you’ll get that inner glow and sense of well being that comes with helping an old man retire. Everybody wins.


Expounding on The Expanse



Syfy has another contender for its winners column with The Expanse.

The new series made an impressive double debut Dec. 14 and 15. The show is Dark Matter done right — mixed with a little Killjoys to produce something that might even rival the gritty, dramatic appeal of Battlestar Galactica.

Blasphemy, I know. Also going out on a limb for an unproven series, but the first two episodes have been that good. Besides, I’ve been out on that limb before (Dark Matter, Zoo), and I know that the fall won’t kill me.

The Expanse encompasses a large swath of our solar system — from Earth to the asteroid belt. I was excited to see that the Human Race had colonized all the way out to Ceres. I was disappointed that greed and war had been taken along for the ride.

But, hey. What’s a plot without conflict?

We’ve got conflict aplenty, here. It’s Earth vs. Mars vs. The Belters. Earth, run by a sinister United Nations which has somehow grown very sharp teeth, is at the top of the pecking order. Coming in second are the rival Martians, a name requiring some mental adjustment knowing that they are humans who are neither green nor small. At the bottom are the rebellious Belters, who mine the asteroids and are heavily dependent on the kindness of the “Inners” for little things like water and air.

The war drums are pounding, and the Martians seem to have the biggest drumsticks.

In the premier episode, an asteroid mining ship, the Canterbury is taking a load of precious ice back to Ceres when it reluctantly responds to a distress call from another ship. The Canterbury is nuked for its trouble, vaporizing 50 crew members and leaving only the five who had been sent to investigate the disabled freighter alive. Things go downhill from there.

The world-building gets off to a fast start. Viewers get looks at life on Ceres and the political structure on Earth. It seems that UN officials are not above “gravity torture” when it comes to extracting information from off-world terrorist suspects.


The characters develop nicely for an opening episode. On Ceres, we’ve got Josephus “Joe” Miller (played by Thomas Jane), a hard-nosed Star Helix Security detective with a heart. Lost in space is Canterbury second officer and reluctant acting ship’s executive officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait); and fellow Canterbury crew member Naomi Nagala (Dominique Tipper), the captain Holden will never be. Back on Earth, we get a taste for UN authority with Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), nasty deputy undersecretary.

The special effects are great — from tiny details like how birds might fly on a low-gravity dwarf planet to exterior scenes in deep space. The plot, with its world-building and political intrigue, has me anxiously looking forward to learning more in episodes to come.

Syfy has pulled out all the stops in its website supplements to The Expanse, including this very cool interactive page:

It’s almost as impressive as the premiere. Check it out, then check out the series.

Compression Confession Dial: Who Knew?


Holy dimensional dementia!

When I saw the entire prison castle comfortably sitting inside the Doctor’s Confession Dial, as “Heaven Sent” concluded last week, I dismissed it as part of his delusional state of mind.

Talk about being bigger on the inside! Or did the Time Lord teleportation device turn him into a teeny, tiny micro-Doctor?

It all really happened. The Doctor did spend 4.5 billion years taking “the long way ’round” to the outer edge of space, time and Gallifrey. But were those real years, or itty-bitty micro-years?

No matter. What a gala homecoming it is for the Doctor in the season finale, “Hell Bent,” presented Dec. 5

welcoming committee
Welcome to Gallifrey, Doctor

The Doctor returns to his ancestral home, a barn that doesn’t seem to be associated with any other traditional farm buildings. His people silently gather to gawk at him eating soup. The hero of the Time War has returned. Everything he does is gawkable.

With all the trash talk about the Doctor always running away, it seemed more like Gallifrey should be running from him. In the dial, he had confessed to being scared, but he was not scared for himself. He was scared about what he might do to Gallifrey. He is as angry as a Time Lord who has just spent billions of years beating his fists on a harder-than-diamond wall can be.

High Council efforts to rein the War Doctor in are almost comical. He goes unblinkingly nose-to-nose with a heavily armed Gallifreyan Sky Tank. He scrapes a line in the sand with the heel of a shoe and walks away. When an exasperated Time Lord High Council President Rassilon finally comes to take him out, he has a one-line greeting.

“Get off my planet.”

And Rassilon the Redeemer, Rassilon the Resurrected, Rassilon the Not Timothy Dalton, does. Well, after his firing squad mutinies, and he is surrounded by a squadron of Sky Tanks summoned by the Doctor, he does.

The Time Lords are still keen to find out what the Doctor knows about the fabled and dreaded Hybrid, which was their purpose for putting him in the Confession Dial Fun House. At the end of “Heaven Sent,” the Doctor had laid claim to the name himself.

Rassilon and the rest of the High Council did not buy that statement. Maybe what the Doctor really meant was why worry about The Hybrid when he was already on his way to personally deliver a thorough ass-kicking experience?

The Doctor fails to deliver on that threat. His real purpose is embarking on a desperate, reckless attempt to resurrect Clara. The Time Lord bag of tricks includes an Extraction Chamber, a device capable of pulling someone out of the space-time continuum at the precise moment of death. Clara has information about the Hybrid, he tells the council, so they arrange an extraction.

Presto! Clara steps through a door from her death scene into the chamber, dazed and confused.

Without a pulse, Clara is still not quite alive. She is talking, walking much more skillfully and looking much better than any other reanimated corpse I’ve seen on the weekend television screen.

The Gallifreyan general who has been aiding the Doctor in his quest for Clara makes the mistake of getting in the Doctor’s way, insisting that Clara be told of her status and fate. In a totally out-of-character move, the Doctor grabs a gun.

Wildly waving the weapon, he orders everyone to not to move.

“On pain of death, no one take a selfie,” he commands.

When the general refuses to allow them to leave, the Doctor blasts the poor guy. The general was only trying to do the right thing.

What? Who is this Doctor? As an anti-gun guy for what, 4,500,002,000 years, now, thanks to his stay in the Confession Dial, he is rather nonchalant about the deed. The general was on only his tenth regeneration, so he wasn’t going to stay dead.

“We’re on Gallifrey. ‘Death’ is Time Lord for ‘man flu,’ ” he tells a shocked and appalled Clara.

The shooting is a measure of how passionate the Doctor is about regaining his companion. He is breaking all the rules, including his own. He is ready and willing to fracture time itself to accomplish his objective.

Following the tradition established by the first Doctor, the12th Doctor steals a TARDIS. He and Clara make their escape. The sense of deja vu is intensified by the TARDIS interior decor, which matches that of the TARDIS stolen by the first Doctor.

When it comes to TARDIS color schemes, white on white is apparently the Ferrari red of the Time Lords. It does make one wonder. Have the Doctors spent a lot of their weekends customizing the original TARDIS?


The Doctor and Clara sort things out. She’s more than a little miffed that he dedicated 4.5 billion years to bringing her back. He’s concentrating on getting her a new pulse. Their discussion is interrupted by four knocks — the tell-tale, Time Lord, double heartbeat pattern — on the TARDIS door. That’s never a good thing.

The Doctor, ever the protective father figure and mindful of his “duty to care,” is the one to investigate. Outside, as he already knows, is Ashildr/Me, the eternal persona non grata Stark from Hell, waiting to chat.

They are still on Gallifrey, in the dark and dank cloister subterranean level which serves as housing for “Sliders” and the central location for the deceased Time Lord Matrix. The Universal End of Everything is only five minutes away.

Items of discussion include the real identity of The Hybrid. It’s not Me, as she’s less than half Mire and mostly Human. It’s not me, the Doctor claims, although he has a suspicious look on his face when he makes the denial and asks if it really matters. It’s not Team Doctor and Clara, which would be really stretching the definition of a single hybrid creature. Will the real Hybrid please stand up?

They also talk about the Doctor’s plans to take Clara in a safe place on Earth and to wipe her mind of all Doctor-related memories because they could use them to find her. Huh? I don’t know who “they” are, (the Time Lords?) or why they would want to find her.

Unknown to the Doctor and Me, Clara has been eavesdropping on their conversation through the TARDIS. She is not cool with the memory wipe plans.

“These have been the best years of my life, and they are mine,” she says. “Tomorrow is promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past. I am entitled to that.”

They compromise. Both will put a finger on the neural block memory zapper at the same time. Only one will walk away with memories intact. They do, and the Doctor begins to black out; but not before tearful good-byes and final words of wisdom for Clara.

“Never eat pears,” he advises. “They’re too squishy, and they always make your chin wet. That one’s quite important. Write it down.”

The Doctor hits the floor. His eyelids flutter, and his eyes close. Is he unconscious, or has he died?

He’s alive, we quickly learn. He awakens lying in the desert, attended by a guy Clara has posted to aid his recovery.

At this point, I need to apologetically backtrack.


In the opening scene of the episode, the Doctor is piloting a pickup down a Nevada highway and comes to a diner just west of nowhere. He walks in, wearing his sonic shades and carrying his guitar, the very personification of the 1950s icons adorning the diner walls. Inside is a lone waitress, who, much not to my surprise, is Clara. The entire narrative of his return to Gallifrey are flashbacks, as he tells his story to Clara, a story about going back to his hometown, “Space Glasgow,” and the gang who wanted to kill him.

“You’ve been traveling,” Clara says, shortly after he appears.

“Yeah,” the Doctor replies, “from time to time.”

Like everyone else who watched the show (and isn’t lying), I believed, throughout the episode, that Clara was the one who had her memory wiped. I was flabbergasted to learn the Doctor had no idea that he was talking to Clara. I thought that the Doctor was just trying to determine if the memory wipe had been successful.

Very nicely done, Steven Moffat.

While the Doctor’s back is turned, and he is strumming the “Clara Theme” on his guitar, Clara slips though the diner back door and into the stolen TARDIS control room to join Me. The diner dissolves around the Doctor as the TARDIS dematerializes, leaving him alone the desert, but also leaving him with his missing TARDIS.

The memorial to Clara painted on the TARDIS exterior includes her likeness, the likeness of the waitress in the diner, the Impossible Girl. Inside, on a chalk board, are the words “Run, you clever boy, and be a doctor.”

This was an exponentially more satisfying way to say farewell to a dear companion than her quick death on Trap Street in “Face the Raven.” I got a little misty-eyed whenever the “Clara” theme was played.

Oh, yeah!

All of that, and the Doctor gets a totally cool new sonic screwdriver. I want one.

Oh, I forgot to mention … aboard the vintage TARDIS, Me and Clara discuss plans. Time is not healing — what with Clara missing from her “fixed point in the Universe” moment of death and all. She is still without a heartbeat and knows she must go back to Gallifrey to be reinserted into her time stream.

Clara notes that they have some “wiggle room.” They opt to take the “long way around” to her destiny.

That would be another story. Not part of this one.



‘Heaven Sent’ Poses Puzzle



What do Peter Capaldi, Bill Murray and Tom Cruise have in common? They have all have all played characters trapped in an endless loop requiring that they get things right before they can continue.

For Murray, it was Groundhog Day; for Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow. For Capaldi, it was “Heaven Sent,” the captivating Doctor Who episode presented Nov 28.

As the two films, a puzzle must be solved before the Doctor is freed from the repeating sequence of events. Unlike the films, this puzzle has been created within the grief-stricken Doctor’s own mind.

I’m not certain whether the trap has been projected into his mind by his captors, or he  has constructed the trap himself. Maybe a little of both.

The story continues from the end point of the previous week’s episode, “Face the Raven,” in which Clara, the Doctor’s companion is killed. In the final scene of that episode, the Doctor has a teleportation device attached to his wrist at the hands of Me/Ashildr, who is apparently acting in a bounty hunter capacity for unknown masters.


The Doctor rematerializes in a teleportation chamber in mysterious, rotating, medieval-looking castle equipped with anachronistic video monitors on the walls. He hasn’t clue as to whether he’s in a trap, prison or torture chamber. As it turns out, all three possibilities are somewhat correct.

The Doctor is initially very combative. Despite Clara’s dying request that he not journey to the dark side, he’s on a mission to avenge her death. He demands that his captors show themselves.

“I just watched my best friend die in agony,” he declares “My day can’t get any worse. Let’s see what we can do about yours!”

The monitors soon reveal to the Doctor that he is not alone in the castle. His anger turns to fear when he sees that he is being relentless stalked by a hulking, veiled death figure accompanied by large squadron of flies (who are not listed in the end credits for their pivotal supporting roles in this episode). To be touched by the figure brings death.

I had to watch this one more than once to gain what I think is an understanding of the story being told. Clues that the Doctor was actually in a “mind trap” begin early. The death figure is drawn from from his most horrific childhood memory. The Doctor is able to “talk” a door into unlocking itself. Where were his sonic sunglasses? No answer there. Later, he dons them.

In the midst of all the action, including a plunge to his death into the waters surrounding the castle, the Doctor is able to retreat to his mental “storeroom,” the TARDIS. There, he finds Clara, with her back to him in all but one scene, coaching him on his next moves by writing on a chalkboard. Even in the Hereafter, she’s still a teacher.

The Doctor notices that each of the rooms he visits resets itself to its original state when he is not present. This proves to be the key to deciphering the trap.

Telescoping the narrative, the Doctor runs through 4 billion (give or take a few dozen) years, of repeating sequences in which he burns his dying body to re-energize the teleporter and reinitialize the cycle. The cycle ends when the death figure reaches him and grasps his head.

At the start of each cycle, he returns to a barricade blocking the exit from the castle. The wall is tantalizingly labeled “HOME” upon his first encounter.

He interprets the lettering as meaning that the TARDIS is on the other side of the barricade and reduces his hands to bloody pulp by painfully beating his fists on the wall. In each cycle, he does minimal damage. His sonic sunglass analysis reveals the barricade to be a 20-feet thick of slab Azbantium — 400 times harder than diamond. Ouch!

Watching the Doctor crawl and stagger back to the teleportation chamber, leaving a trail of blood, was difficult to watch. He knows that he has plenty of time to get to the top of the castle because Time Lords take a very long time to die.

“It’s why we like to die among our own kind,” he quips. “They know not to bury us early.”

Despite the dark tone of the episode, the Doctor manages to get off a few other humorous comments.

“I can’t wait to hear what I say. I’m nothing without an audience,” he says early in the episode, with a sly glance at the camera.

“Working hypothesis,” he reasons aloud. “I’m in a fully automated haunted house, a mechanical maze.”

“It’s a killer puzzle box designed to scare me to death, and I’m trapped inside it. It must be Christmas,” he adds with a chuckle and a grin.

“Or maybe I’m in Hell. That’s OK. I’m not scared of Hell. It’s just heaven for bad people,” he observes in another flash of humor.

Death symbols run rampant throughout the episode. Along with the ominous death figure, we have a lilies, a fresh grave, a peeling painting of Clara, and skulls, skulls, skulls. Skulls are found in the teleportation room and piled high on the floor of the sea surrounding the castle; and they all belong to the Doctor.

Then, there’s Room 12. Does that mean that the Doctor’s number is up?

I sincerely hope that Peter Capadi’s time as the Doctor is not coming to an end, as he has really risen to the role this series. The Doctor is clearly is having an extremely difficult time coming to grips with Clara’s death, so maybe that’s what the symbolism is all about.

“It’s funny. The day you lose someone isn’t the worst,” says. “At least you’ve got something to do. It’s all the days they stay dead.”

Calculating how many times the Doctor went through the cycle is beyond my ken.  I guesstimate that he completed a cycle every 90 minutes for 2 billion years. You do the math.

The Doctor finally breaks through the barrier and discovers that “HOME” is not the TARDIS. It’s his home planet, Gallifrey. His fellow Time Lords are his tormentors.

A small boy appears to be his only welcoming committee. He sends the lad back to the city with a message.

“Tell them I came the long way around,” he instructs the boy. “The Hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins is me.”

So, the prophesy was wrong. The Hybrid (I capitalize it because it is not “a” hybrid, but “the” Hybrid) is not half Time Lord and half Dalek.

My bet is that the Doctor’s mystery half is Human. I’ll guess we’ll find out when “Hell Bent” is presented this Saturday, Dec. 5.

Science Fiction Television Experiencing Renaissance?

Is the sun rising on a new era in television science fiction programming? Yes. Yes it is.

Renaissance might be too strong, but it does seems like science fiction offerings on the small screen are increasing in quantity, if not always quality.

Long, long ago, in the primitive years before cable (B.C.), television science fiction was doled out in small doses by the Big Three broadcast networks. Its artistic merits were not an issue. Good or bad, like it or not, if you were a science fiction fan, you watched what was available — and you were grateful.

Fast forward to 2015 A.D. (after digital). Science fiction offerings are so plentiful that you can actually pick and choose what you will watch. Quality and personal taste have come into play.

Take the barrage of programs you got this summer. Some, including Killjoys (Syfy) and Humans (AMC/Channel 4)have been gems. Others, like Dark Matter (Syfy) and Extant (CBS), have been just so-so. Still others, including Zoo (CBS) and The Whispers (ABC), have been abysmal.

I usually give each new series several episodes to win my heart before I decide if they stay on my DVR recording schedule. Getting a feel for the settings and characters often takes a bit.

I have given some shows extended opportunities to convince me that they are watchable. I so badly wanted to like Defiance (Syfy) that I stuck with it for the first half-season. I could not bring myself to like any of the characters, and the show suffered from alien overload.

I watched and enjoyed Continuum (Syfy) for its first full season. I had to bail midway though season 2 when the time travel paradoxes became too mind-boggling.

I didn’t quite make it to the opening season halfway mark of 12 Monkeys (Syfy version of the Bruce Willis movie) for the same reason. Time travel is an entertaining concept, but it really needs some basic rules. I suppose that if I were able to turn off my brain’s logic function, I might enjoy it more. I can’t, so I don’t.

On occasion, a show has gotten the ax before my first episode viewing has ended. The show which most recently got that reaction was Syfy’s Z Nation, which is such an obvious cheap rip-off of The Walking Dead (AMC) that it is a global insult to zombie fans — and zombies.

Some shows have such a dumb-ass premise that I don’t give them a shot. These have included Under the Dome (CBS), an up-sized version of Big Brother (CBS – coincidentally?). Let’s trap a bunch of people in an mysterious forcefield and see what happens. Frustration? Personality conflicts? Drama, drama, drama? Oh, my!

Another that went into this category was Revolution (NBC). The world suddenly loses its electricity, and nobody knows why? The trailers for this offering did their best to jump on the Hunger Games blockbuster film bandwagon, but I was not tempted.

Regretfully, I made an exception for Zoo (CBS). Animals organizing to rid the world of planet-destroying humans, as appealing as that premise may have been to animal rights groups, was a dumb human trick the show could not perform.

I’ll try anything featuring zombies, my favorite showbiz monster; but I have little interest in shows featuring vampires or werewolves. I tried True Blood (HBO) after it was recommended by a friend, but I just couldn’t get into a supernatural soap opera romanticizing blood-sucking killers.

One exception was the wittily comical Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN), but even that show eventually fell prey to a soap opera element. Sorry, Sarah Michelle Gellar, your schoolgirl crush on David Boreanaz was the low point of an otherwise stellar show, although that star-crossed love had tough competition from Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green as cutest witch and werewolf couple  — ever.

So much for grousing over the past. Several promising new series are on, or just over, the horizon.

The Syfy will continue to churn out bona fide science fiction offerings in the next few months. These include Childhood’s End (, a mini series slated to launch in December. With a great book author source in Arthur C. Clarke and a cast which includes Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation), fans could be in for a super-sweet sci-fi treat.

The Expanse (, another series with potential, is also scheduled by Syfy in December. Based on the works of a pair of best-selling sci-fi authors, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franc, jointly writing as James S.A. Corey, this series might fulfill the promise of Ascension, had that Syfy mini-series ever gotten off the ground.

AMC will add Into the Badlands ( to its high-quality program schedule in November. Think Mad Max meets Bruce Lee. Well-choreographed martial arts scenes are always entertaining, and AMC has an admirable habit of doing everything well.

HBO plans to present Westworld (, a remake of the 1973 film thriller, “coming in 2016.” Alas, this will be more than 30 years too late for the late great Yul Brynner to make a cameo appearance. Maybe through the miracle of CGI?

Broadcast networks are also bellying-up to the sci-fi happy hour bar via the film rehash route.

Fox will begin airing its series reincarnation of 2002’s Minority Report (, set for launch, Monday, Sept. 21. Can the network that killed Firefly and Almost Human, after running episodes of both shows out of order, redeem itself? I won’t be holding my breath.

CBS will take another shot at sci-fi with 2011’s Limitless (, scheduled to debut on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Something tells me that Bradley Cooper’s screen time in this series will be somewhat less than limitless.

Other new shows in the fall channel lineup include Heroes Reborn (NBC. Sept. 24) and Supergirl (CBS October). No doubt I have missed some, but a quick Google search should unearth any additions for die-hard couch potatoes who thinks they need more shows to fill their time.

Think of this season as a sci-fi potluck dinner. Everybody is going to bring something to put on the table, but not all of these dishes are going to bring you back for second helpings.

Killjoys Overjoys

Syfy’s Killjoys started strong and got stronger with every episode.

The show is a masterful blend of character development, action and world-building. The three musketeers who form the main team, Dutch, John and D’Avin, were easy to like from the beginning.

Dutch checked in as your standard, drop-dead gorgeous, kick-ass, La Femme Nikita-style assassin. That image immediately began to soften as we got glimpses of her mysterious background, vulnerability and heart of gold.

John is the glue of the trio. He is what you might call a stealth geek, a guy who has all the technological smarts but is unmarked by taped glasses, pocket protector and any of the other outward signs that might signal his abilities. Lucy, the AI in charge of their ship, is clearly in love with him. John has an endearing brotherly affection for Dutch that is as heartwarming as it is unbelievable. I did note that Dutch is drop-dead gorgeous, did I not?

D’Avin, John’s estranged brother, is the latecomer to the team, and by that I mean he did not show up until partway into the first episode. Brotherly affection is a strained commodity in his case, but we eventually learned that his actions are not entirely under his control. Although a heroic figure, D’Avin, despite being warned by John, does not share John’s brotherly attitude toward Dutch.

As duly sworn agents of the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC), better known as “The Rack,” the threesome get into plenty of tense situations in the course of executing their bounty hunting warrants. Firefights and more advanced methods of dealing out death abound, but the show avoids becoming mired in gore. A rich mixture of plot elements includes social injustice, economics, politics, rebellion, drug addiction, mind control and genocide. Throughout the episodes, we saw Dutch’s past chasing her. The series has presented few, if any, dull moments.

The setting for the series, “The Quad,” consisting of a home planet and three moons, is so complex that Syfy has generously included a web page guide to the world of Killjoys. Homeworld Qresh is at the top of the social structure, which is ruled by the Nine Families. The families created the Company to keep their world in order, and the Company uses the RAC to do its dirty work.

In descending order of status come the moons Leith, home to unlanded members of the Nine Families; Westerley, the Quad’s version of the American Wild West and base of operations for Dutch, John and D’Avin; and Arkyn, a colonial failure now being used for mysterious and sinister purposes.

Nobody is overly happy with their status, other than the inhabitants of Qresh, particularly the Nine Families. The Syfy page summarized the differences among the planetary residents with “If those on Westerley dream of life on Leith, those on Leith dream of life on Qresh.” The potential for conflict is infinite.

The first season of this superlative series barely scratched the surface of the possibilities created by its incredibly imaginative and talented writers. If ever a new series deserved another dozen seasons, it’s Killjoys.