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Sci-Fi’s Turkeys … Just In Time For Thanksgiving

What were the eye-rolling duds of 2011 so far in this great genre?

It’s time for Thanksgiving in America, celebrating the legend of New World settlers making nice with the natives who had possession of the land first.

But really, it’s about football and turkey.

Since Airlock Alpha is a science-fiction site, you won’t find much football here, unless William Shatner becomes the new coach of the Miami Dolphins. But there are plenty of turkeys to share in the genre, really more than we care to admit.

Here is what we see as this year’s turkeys. Do you agree? Disagree? Did we miss something? Make sure you log-in at the top right-hand corner of the screen, and share your comments here.

In the meantime, grab your forks and put those napkins in your lap. We’re going to dig in to the biggest turkeys our genre has seen this year, in no particular order.

‘Battlestar Galactica,’ ‘Doctor Who’ as standalone movies
Fair enough, the Syfy version of “Battlestar Galactica” is off the air. But “Doctor Who” is not.

So why are there attempts to bring standalone versions of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Doctor Who” to the silver screen?

Your guess is as good as ours.

It just doesn’t make sense. Why put out movies that are the antithesis to what fans — and even mainstream audiences — might be most familiar with. Why create such confusion?

At least for “Doctor Who,” wait until they are not making new episodes before you jump in and do a big screen version that has nothing to do with it.

It’s not unheard of for television shows to go into the movie theater and tie that production to their overall mythology. “The X-Files” did it. Hell, so did “The Simpsons.”

But it doesn’t have to happen here.

NBC should’ve listened to everyone else about ‘Wonder Woman’
Yes, the comic book character Wonder Woman is very popular, and so was the man trying to bring it back to television, David E. Kelley.

Yet, NBC could not see what every other network saw, which was that this series was dead before it even started.

NBC, however, likes nostalgia (see: “Knight Rider,” “Bionic Woman,” “The Munsters”), and thought they would give “Wonder Woman” a chance, even ordering a pilot. Instead, the show never made it to series, and picked up a lot of negative publicity along the way — not just for the costume, but also for the pilot story and concept, which faced ridicule by critics.

‘Akira’ live-action remake light on the Asian actors
In July, “Star Trek” legend George Takei was celebrating what was believed to be the end of efforts to bring a live-action version of the popular anime “Akira” to the big screen.

However, those rumors were wrong, and “Akira” is going forward.

It’s a Japanese masterpiece, and Takei is Japanese, so why would he be against such a project? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that none of the primary cast is going to be Asian. Yeah, that’s right, a uniquely Japanese story, told from the Anglican view, not the Asian.

What’s next? Robert Wagner replacing Tyler Perry as Madea?

Syfy gives the ax to ‘Eureka’
There have been many great things to celebrate on Syfy over recent years, but how they handle cancellations is certainly not one of them.

The demise of “Eureka” was first leaked to trade publications, forcing NBC Universal to respond with the hope of a final season with six more episodes. But as quickly as they offered that olive branch to “Eureka” fans, Syfy yanked it away, saying this would be the final season and that’s that.

It’s funny how even old wounds (remember “Farscape”? “Caprica”?) pop up when something like this happens, and fans won’t forget.

It was a poor way to honor the cast and crew of “Eureka,” who were one of the first to show how successful a funny yet serious grounded genre show could be for Syfy, only to have the rug yanked out from under them when they weren’t even expecting it.

I am quick to defend Syfy on its programming decisions and celebrate its success, but in this case, the fan backlash was well deserved.

‘Blood & Chrome’ rises and falls before anyone sees it
It’s amazing how that circle of life sometimes works on Syfy. “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” was originally intended as a Web series. But when another “Battlestar” prequel “Caprica” was cancelled, Syfy decided to promote the Web production into an actual series.

But now it’s back to the Web, and no one really knows why. The pilot went before the cameras many months ago, and yet Syfy still has not announced a premiere date, or even where fans might be able to see it.

Officially, “Blood & Chrome” has been hampered by post-production problems. Like “Sanctuary,” many of the environments are CGI-created. But few observers believe that’s actually the case, and feel there are other things holding it back. For example, “Sanctuary” somehow is able to pull off this post-production process with ease.

Plus Doug Drexler, who is handling special effects (and is known for his revolutionary special effects work in franchises like Star Trek) tells Airlock Alpha special effects for “Blood & Chrome” are not only done, but they look amazing.

So why is “Blood & Chrome” really in purgatory then? If we ever find out, it might have to be through the same channels we learned of “Eureka’s” cancellation.

‘Outcasts’ lives up to name, dumped by BBC
Did BBC ever give “Outcasts” a chance to shine? No one will ever know.

Despite a solid premiere with more than 4 million viewers in Great Britain, the tax-operated channel bumped the series into a graveyard slot and then cancelled it.

“Outcasts” was costly to make, needing to be filmed on location in South Africa, and spending more than three years in production. But it did include Jamie Bamber from “Battlestar Galactica” fame, and that alone might have made it worth watching to some, even if critics hated it.

3-D movies at the box office
We here at Airlock Alpha were a little surprised this week to learn that the next Star Trek movie would be filmed in 3-D. Why? Because we thought the eulogy of 3-D had already been shared.

The box office might of 3-D just isn’t there anymore. After “Avatar,” many films were taking the 3-D route — even though many of them were not filmed in 3-D, but had 3-D added in post-production. The reason? Studios could charge a premium to movie-goers and get more money back thanks to offering a little film tweaking and a pair of plastic glasses to see it with.

But the crappy versions of 3-D have hurt quality productions that made 3-D look good. That, and probably the economy.

“Star Trek 2” is moving forward with 3-D, but there’s a good chance there may not even be 3-D by the time the film premieres in 2013.

’17th Precinct’ never makes it to television
Maybe Bamber is not having the best luck in the world. Capt. Apollo teamed up with modern “Battlestar” developer Ronald D. Moore for the series pilot “17th Precinct,” a magical series that was under consideration by NBC.

Yet, the Peacock decided shows like “Prime Suspect” and “The Playboy Club” were better, and took that route, leaving “17th Precinct” in the dust. We see how well that worked out.

Brannon Braga gets wishy-washy on gay characters in Star Trek
He helped run the Star Trek franchise so deep into the ground that it took the genius of J.J. Abrams to rescue it. Yet, Steven Spielberg didn’t have any qualms putting Brannon Braga in charge of “Terra Nova” on Fox, which is scratching and clawing at a chance for a second season after premiering to less-than-stellar ratings.

But that’s not what fanned old flames in the dissent camp for Braga. When asked by a gay entertainment site about the lack of gay characters in nearly 30 seasons of Star Trek, Braga took the 2011 approach that he should have done just that, and he wasn’t really thinking forward then.

Yet, that pretty much contradicts his position back when he had a chance to add gay characters. During the run of “Star Trek: Enterprise” on UPN nearly a decade ago, Braga spent more time joking about “gay” characters like Jonathan Frakes’ William Riker, then addressing a serious issue.

When he did address it, he simply took the tired position of not just putting in a gay character for the sake of putting one in. He, however, had no problem putting large-breasted women in the tightest costumes he could find, and adding heels.

Lawyer for ‘Teen Wolf’ actor using heavy-handed tactics to protect privacy
Is an actor gay or not? Does it really even matter anymore?

It does in a way. There is a lot of bullying out there, and just as Harvey Milk once said, the more straight people who actually know and love a gay person, the more apt they are to support causes of equality.

Zachary Quinto of “Heroes” and “Star Trek” fame, and Sean Maher of “Firefly” came out publicly this year, yet even the mention of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” actor Colton Haynes’ sexuality will result in an angry letter from his attorney.

At issue in June were the republication of photos Haynes appeared in some years ago in a gay youth magazine, where Haynes is seen making out with another boy.

Haynes’ attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, sent letters to various websites like DoorQ that posted the pictures, demanding they remove them because they were invading Haynes’ privacy and were child pornography. He then threatened further legal action if his request was not handled quietly.

DoorQ did not fall for that tactic, and made the letter known to Airlock Alpha, who had no problems not only publishing the threat, but trying to get Freedman to defend his claims that Haynes participated in child pornography (he didn’t). Freedman was tongue-tied, and never called back, and the threats stopped.

Guess so-called Hollywood lawyers can’t win every time.

Germany can’t make up its mind about Nazi Star Trek episodes
It was great news when Germany announced it would finally air the classic “Star Trek” episode “Patterns of Force” 43 years after it originally aired. The episode, which featured heavy references to the Nazi movement, had been banned from German televisions for decades.

When the episode did air, it was treated the same as any other show intended only for a very mature audience with every effort to keep children away from seeing it.

Such a big brouhaha over an episode with Nazis in it. Yet, a two-parter “Star Trek: Voyager” episode featuring the Hirogen as Nazi soldiers in a historical holodeck recreation aired in Germany soon after its American broadcast, and happened in the middle of the day.

So which is it, Germany?

‘The Event’ becomes a confusing mess
Does anyone know what “The Event” was about? I tried watching through the first handful of episodes, and I was so confused, I decided to take up a course in temporal mechanics instead.

“The Event” was one of those shows NBC was depending on to get it back on the map, but it quickly found that complex storytelling at a dizzying pace just was not going to connect with audiences.

You have to give NBC points for trying, however. The concept of the show seemed interesting. But complexity and confusion does not equal smart television. It instead equals quick cancellation.

Actor Trevor Eve says BBC spends too much money on ‘Doctor Who’
OK, so tell me … how many non-Brits are familiar with “Waking the Dead,” and are willing to go right now and buy it on DVD? Now, how many of you are familiar with “Doctor Who” and will go buy it on DVD right now?

You might understand this. I might understand this. But “Waking the Dead” star Trevor Eve doesn’t understand this. He took time in January to blast BBC for spending too much money on “Doctor Who,” despite the fact the franchise makes BBC a lot of money in other countries.

Eve reminded those listening that “Doctor Who” was created for children in the early 1960s, and thus must not be taken seriously apparently.

But don’t worry. He doesn’t like “Top Gear” either, yet another BBC success story.

Maybe Eve just has some jealousy issues?

‘The Cape’ lands flat on NBC
It was supposed to be the best thing since the premiere of “Heroes.” Instead, “The Cape” was nothing more than a giant dud for NBC that just can’t seem to get its footing.

It’s not that the series, which starred David Lyons, Keith David and Summer Glau, didn’t mean well. It just didn’t mean the kind of sophistication that both genre and mainstream fans expect to see on television these days. Instead, a good concept was lost in almost a juvenile execution that never connected well with audiences. It’s no surprise that “The Cape” didn’t stick around for long.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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