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Opinion

Portal Awards: Best Web Site, Best Web Production

Voting begins June 25!


A few years ago, Airlock Alpha thought it would be good for the Portal Awards to recognize how mainstream media is really moving to the Internet by honoring some of the great work that is done through the Information Superhighway (do people still call it that?)

So the categories recognizing Best Web Production and Best Web Site were added. This was a bit touchy for us, however, especially in terms of Web sites, because we didn’t want our own work to be eligible (that would be a bit unfair to everyone else), but at the same time, the sites recognized are technically our competition.

But it’s perfectly OK because we knew that our nominating committee would only pick the best of the best, and in fact, there are so many good sites that received votes, and we could only choose five. It was tough.

The nominees for Best Web Site this year include three past winners: Whedonesque, GateWorld and SupernaturalTV.

We also have a couple of newcomers this year including Dollverse and the popular TrekMovie

A year ago, when we last hosted the Portal Awards, TrekMovie was still finding its legs, but growing rapidly. Today, with “Star Trek” one of the highest grossing movies of the year so far, it’s overflowing with people.

Anthony Pascale, the founder and editor of TrekMovie, said he started the site in Summer 2006, just after Paramount Pictures announced it would have J.J. Abrams take over the franchise and create a new “Star Trek” feature film. However, the site quickly moved to cover other aspects of Star Trek, including merchandise and the remastering project of the original “Star Trek” series.

“It is an honor to be recognized along with a number of excellent sites, which share the dedication of keeping fans informed,” Pascale said.

Darren Sumner, who founded GateWorld in October 1999, felt the same way about being honored as a finalist again for the Portal Awards.

“It is very gratifying to have our work recognized by our fellow fans,” he said. “I’m committed to the notion that GateWorld and sites like it are done by fans, for fans. All of our contributors and moderators, plus David [???] and I, pour our lifeblood into the site on a weekly basis, and the Portal Awards are a great way for their efforts to be cheered.”

GateWorld, which covers the Stargate universe, has been busy with 10 years of “Stargate: SG-1,” five years of “Stargate: Atlantis,” and the upcoming launch of “Stargate: Universe.”

“A site like ours has to start from nothing but love for our favorite show,” Sumner said. “Ten years ago, this quiet little cable show was telling fantastic stories and turning heads, and today it rivals just about anything out there for quality and longevity. We want GateWorld to give other fans ways to delve deeper into Stargate’s mythology and its extended universe, and to connect with others in the fan community.”

By the way, they do it with a message board forum complete with 37,000 members. They also have a Stargate omnipedia, and a new weekly podcast that they should invite me onto someday. All of it is worth checking out!

In terms of the other nominees, Dollverse has focused on the series “Dollhouse” since it was started up, and even got itself into some problems with Fox over reports of when the network would ever show the lost 13th episode of the series.

They have become a primary source of fan news for the show as it gears up for a surprising second season despite low ratings this past spring.

SupernaturalTV is just that … a fan site that is focused on The CW series “Supernatural.” The fanbase for that show is solid, and it’s not expected to falter at all coming into the new season when “Vampire Diaries” replaces “Smallville” as its lead-in.

The site was the winner of a Portie last year, and could be poised to do it again.

FInally, Whedonesque has been around forever, and is a clearinghouse of stories that involve the universe of Joss Whedon. That includes talk of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and the new series “Dollhouse” on Fox. It also has a lot to chat about with Whedon’s writers strike project, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”

Speaking of “Dr. Horrible,” that production is among the five nominees for Best Web Production. The total list includes “Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy,” “Heroes: Going Postal,” “The House Between” and “Star Trek: Phase II.”

We changed the parameters a little bit for this category this year, focusing more on the overall series rather than individual episodes. So as long as a Web series was active during our eligibility period, the entire body of work could be considered.

“Dr. Horrible” had some familiar Whedonverse faces like Nathan Fillion, but also some popular actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day.

The series, which was meant to really entertain diehard Whedon fans, was a smash hit mainstream, and its DVD release has been eaten up so quickly, shelves can’t even be restocked fast enough.

“Face of the Enemy” was a Web series written by Jane Espenson that was filmed following the end of production for the main “Battlestar Galactica” series on SciFi Channel, but distributed just before the final 10 episodes aired. It featured two other Portie nominees (in different categories) Alessandro Juliani and Grace Park.

It was a good standalone story, almost like “Murder on the Orient Express,” but also had the outing of Felix Gaeta. Unfortunately, there is word that the Webisodes will not make the final season DVD set.

“Heroes” may have struggled a bit in its third season on NBC, but fans continue to enjoy the Web versions of the show, including this past season’s “Going Postal.”

The three episodes, which were released in Summer 2008, were directed by Yule Caise, and featured the character Echo de Mille, who has the ability to manipulate sound. He has a few run-ins with a Company thug called the Constrictor. And, well, you can guess how all that ended.

“The House Between,” which was not produced by a studio but instead by author John Kenneth Muir, wrapped up its final season in recent months and was very popular with fans.

This is the second time it was nominated for a Portie, almost winning last year. Muir stepped it up for the show’s final season, and even named characters after me and former Airlock Alpha writer Marx Pyle.

Finally, “Star Trek: Phase II” continues to wow fans with its portrayal of the continuing missions of the U.S.S. Enterprise, this time taking on homosexual themes with David Gerrold’s lost “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Fire and Ice.”

There was some controversy in how much a gay relationship should be shown … but it was great to see Gerrold’s story move from script, to one of his book series, and now in visual form through the “Phase II” project.

Voting for the 2009 Portal Awards begins June 25 at www.AirlockAlpha.com. For a full list of nominees, click here.

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