Comic Con At Home 2020 and Justice Con Reactions (Star Trek Lower Decks, Zack Snyder's Justice League & More)
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In this episode of Nerd Heaven, I geek out over the things that stood out to me at this year's Comic Con At Home event, along with the Justice Con, which was dedicated to Zack Snyder's Justice League. I give my unfiltered thoughts on the lack of announcement for international distribution for Star Trek Lower Decks. I also talk bout Farscape, Bill & Ted Face The Music, Red Dwarf The Promised Land and NASA's Artemis Program which will take us back to the moon.
Welcome to Nerd Heaven.
I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars
And I am a nerd
This is episode #31 of the podcast.
Today, we’re taking a brief break from the DC extended universe so I can talk about some of the highlights that stood out to me from Comic Con and Justice Con.
While Covid 19 has introduced a lot of new problems in life, there have been some unexpected blessings. One of these was the transformation of Comic Con from an in-person event into a free online event. And while that has a number of disadvantages for those who were hoping to attend physically, it opened things up for everyone in the world, regardless of geography and finance to take part.
It may not be feasible for me to fly half way around the world to America, but I can watch the panels on youTube just like anyone else.
So, let’s get Nerdy and talk about what stood out to me.
We’ll start with Star Trek.
To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from the Star Trek Universe panel. I think a lot of people were. The only real solid announcement we got was confirmation of the title and logo for the kids animated nickelodeon show currently in production.
The name is Star Trek Prodigy. But we already knew that.
Interestingly, I’ve always said that word as Progidy. Not prodigy. With the d and g swapped. Is that just an American pronunciation, or have I been saying it wrong all these years? It looks like I’ve been saying it wrong all these years. It’s a little unsettling at 42 years of age to suddenly realise you’ve been making a mistake like this your whole life. But there it is. It’s about a group of delinquent teenagers who find a starship and decide to crew it. That may give the show something of a Farscape-esque feeling, where the cast are not a crew as such, with Starfleet discipline. They’re just a bunch of random people on a space ship, but contained within the Star Trek universe. Obviously, I’m not a kid, and I’m not the target audience for this show, but if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll check it out. It could be a great show to watch with my son.
We learned nothing from the Discovery panel. The table read of the final episode of season 2 was kind of interesting, from a film-making point of view, nice to see what a table read looks like, but ultimately, if I want to watch the episode, I’ll watch the episode.
We did, however, get an official release date for season 3 a few days later. Why they didn’t include this in the panel is a mystery to me. But I’m sure they had their reasons. Anyway, the show goes live on the 15th of October, just after Lower Decks will finish. Which, of course means, that North Americans will have 23 consecutive weeks of Star Trek.
As for the rest of the planet, we’ll just have to wait until October, because honestly, it’s not looking like we’ll be getting Lower Decks. The show is releasing in less than a week.
I’m sure it’ll appear on a streaming service somewhere, at some point, but by then the conversation will be over. I won’t be a part of that conversation. The best I’ll be able to do is talk about it in retrospect, like I do with TNG, and the DC movies, but honestly, I don’t think it will have been long enough for anyone to want to look back nostalgically on the show.
Here’s my real problem. I want Alex Kurtzman to just be honest and say to the world, “I’m sorry, guys. We don’t have an international distribution option for you at this time. You won’t get to see it.” At least then he’d be acknowledging out existence.
But this silent treatment, this complete ignoring of us, the failure to acknowledge that we even exist or matter. I gotta say, it’s a little hurtful. It shows the people behind Star Trek really don’t have any regard for us. They don’t care about us. We don’t matter.
Back in the 80s, you coil get away with showing a TV show to Australia years after it was shown in America. We didn’t know any different. But this is 2020. There’s a little thing called the internet. We’re a global community now. We’ve been following the progression of these shows from day 1, and supporting them in any way we can. You can’t get away with excluding people based on their geography any more. It just doesn’t fly.
Now, I realise there are practical and business concerns. The industry is still very old fashioned in the way it works. Still very focussed on country borders. They may have tried and failed to secure an international distribution deal, maybe nobody wants to buy the rights to the show. They might want to see how well it performs before committing.
But that comes back to what I said earlier. I think Alex Kurtzman should make a little statement. “Hey, guys, we tried, we failed. I’m sorry.” That’s all I need. But by not addressing the issue at all, it’s like a giant gormagander in the room. It’s looming over him and he’s just pretending it’s not there.
Okay. That’s my rant.
We did get a trailer for the show just before Comic Con, and an extended look at the first scene during the panel, plus an interview with the cast. This was definitely the meatiest part of the Star Trek Universe panel, and I quite liked it.
So what do I think of what I’ve seen. Well, it’s complicated. Comedy is a tricky thing to do. Humour is very subjective. To be honest, I generally prefer British humour to American humour. How well will an animated comedy show work in canon. I have no idea, but I’m fascinated to find out. One thing I really noticed, looking at the footage is that in animation, everything is ramped up. When Mariner is trying to get the pad from Boimler to read his fake captain’s log, she’s practically combing on top of his shoulders. She’s screaming like she’s deranged. IF we were to transpose this performance frame for frame into live action, it would look absurd and ridiculous. I think they ramp things up like this because they can’t portray subtleties in animation like they can with a human actor. I guess you have to interpret animated shows through that filter. But Boimler actually having his leg sliced in two by Mariner’s bat’leth like that. It seems too extreme a situation to believably happen were this not an animated show. So, like I said, tricky in terms of canon. But not insurmountable. Ultimately, I think the way I’d like them to handle it, is to have Lower decks pay attention to canon and respect it, but without the need for other shows to have to be impacted too much by it.
And honestly, from looking at what we’ve seen, I think this show is gonna honour canon much greater than Discovery ever has. Which is pretty ironic.
The one thing I wish is that they’d kept the First contact / Nemesis uniforms. Not only is that my favourite uniform, but it would give the show a much firmer sense of placement in history. Tho show is set in the TNG movie era, not the TNG tv era. They’re different. I guess it’s sad to know that directly after Nemesis, Starfleet abandoned the gray uniforms and went straight back to these colourful things. Although the people behind the show have made a cryptic remark about maybe not every ship has the same uniform, so not sure what they’re doing there. Perhaps if we see a TNG cameo, they’ll be wearing the gray uniform. Dunno.
But personal taste aside, the big problem is the com badges. These uniforms have the delta without anything behind them. But Picard established that up until the time Jean Luc was booted out of Starfleet, they still have the TNG movie era com badges. I imagine the animators went with the simple delta because the true com badge was too much find detail to work in animation.
Maybe we just need to assume that in reality, they’re wearing the proper com badge, even though we can’t see it.
There is a very clear love of Star Trek coming through in this show. And it really does feel like the Star Trek universe. They’ve got the 24th century aesthetic nailed down. The look of the okudagrams, the sound effects. It’s actually pretty impressive.
Ultimately, I think what I’d want to watch this show for is all the Star Trek trappings, rather than the comedy itself, which may be hit or miss for me. It’s hard to tell.
Kinda like how I like to kick back with The Big Bang theory, when my brain is tired. I watch that show for the character development and the nerd references first, and the comedy second.
I think Lower Decks is probably a show that I could really enjoy, even though there may be some things I have issue with.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds. We learned that all 10 episodes have been broken in the writers room, but they still need to write the scripts. That’s a lot more progress than I would have expected. And I’m not downplaying the time needed to write all those scripts, but that means, whatever the show is gonna be, good or bad, it’s already nailed down. The stories have been decided. Amusingly, I find myself a little nervous about that. Which is kinda weird.
Okay. Now let’s talk Farscape.
I enjoyed the Farscape panel, listening to the actors and writers share their stories.
They said that Rockne O'bannon and Brian Henson are still actively working on ideas for revive the show. This isn’t really new information, but it’s nice to know that they’re still trying.
They did make it clear that if there ever was to be a new Farscape show, they’d definitely want to come back here to Australia to shoot it, using the old cast and crew. That’s really cool, and I think for it to truly be Farscape, it needs to be shot here. So much of what made the show what it was came from that Aussie spirit.
Australia had never done a show like this, so we didn’t know it impossible. Therefore, we just went for it, and made it happen. And by We I mean out country. Obviously I had nothing to do with it.
The writers were all told to really push it, to go places you woldn’t think you can go on television.
They talked about the different work ethics between Australian and American crews. The aussie crews threw themselves into the work 100% until home time. They they were done. Overtime just wasn’t a thing. Apparently, American TV crew kill themselves with overtime.
Gigi Edgley talked about how American actors get pidgeonholed into genres. You’re a sci-fi actor, or you’re a comedic actor. But Australian actors are all-rounders. They do everything.
The panel closed with the actors sharing their thoughts on where their characters might be now, after all these years, at the time of a new series’ first episode. It was fun to hear their speculations.
In addition to Comic Con at home, we were treated to an entire convention devoted to the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League at the same time. Zack had some interesting things to say. He confirmed he would not use a single frame that was not shot by him, so no Joss Whedon scenes will be in his movie. This will give us some interesting insight into which directors were responsible for which scenes in the theatrical cut.
Zack voluntarily made the decision to leave the project after the tragic death of his daughter, but he had no say in who was brought in to replace him. As he said, he was quite distracted at the time.
Zack showed a little clip of superman coming to meet Alfred, while dressed in his iconic black suit. Apparently, the studio were not at all keen on Snyder using the black suit in the movie, so he shot it with the blue suit, in a way that he could colourise it later. Smart bloke.
There is another DC fandom event coming up in the next month or so. At that event, we’ll have confirmation of the title (Zack wants it to be “Zack Snyder’s Justice Leaue” but there are some legal issues to work out), we’ll have confirmation of whether it’ll be a movie or a series, and we’ll get a teaser trailer. So lots more to still look forward to.
I haven’t seen all the panels from Justice Con yet. There was an entire panel devoted to suicide prevention, which is great. Zack said that because of the ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign, lives have been saved. People are alive today who would otherwise be dead. And that’s so much more important than a movie.
We also learned that Zack Snyder is making this movie for free. It really is a labour of love for him.
Back to comic con, I watched the Red Dwarf Promised Land panel.
This is a feature-length movie in the works. They showed a couple of clips from the movie, and it looks pretty funny.
It’s going to address a question that was raised all the way back in the first episode of the show, in 1988. What happened to the cat people?
Doug Naylor’s use of science is interesting. Sometimes he uses real science, sometimes he uses speculative science, and sometimes, he uses made-up science. But he draws from a lot of the latest real-world discoveries.
He also revealed that he never wants to do a big grand ending to the show. He feels that endings like that usually fall flat. So he just wants Red Dwarf to simply stop one day, with no great fanfare.
I get what he’s saying here, and I respect it, but I don’t really agree. As a writer, a reader, and a viewer, I prefer stories to have a definitive satisfying ending.
Next, I checked out the Bill & Ted Face The Music panel.
The moderator said that this movie, despite being a comedy, was very emotional. In fact, it moved him deeply. He called it a beautiful movie. And that really gets me excited for it.
I learned some fascinating stuff about the history of the franchise. The writers of the movies actually started playing these two characters themselves, as improv comedy.
They weren’t responsible for the casting of the characters, but they were waiting in line at Maccas one day, and two young people were in front of them in the line. The writers thought, these two guys would be perfect to play Bill and Ted.
When they got to set the next day, it turned out, those two people were Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter.
Turns out that Bill’s daughter Thea is played by an Austrlaian actor, Samantha Weaving, who happens to be the neice of Hugo Weving, so...Aussie Aussie Aussie.
Oh, and I learned that death in the Bill and Ted movies was played by none other than William Sadler, who, of course, portrayed the section 31 agent Sloan in Star Trek Deep Space Nine. How awesome is that?
The final panel I want to talk about was the “Back to The Moon” panel by NASA.
William Shatner moderated this, talking to real life NASA astronauts and scientists about the plans to return to the moon this decade, and I gotta say, it was really exciting stuff.
I can’t believe William Shatner is 89 years old. He’s still so active. He looks a lot younger than his years.
So they talked about the Artemis program, which is the new moon program. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, so that makes sense.
They plan to send a robot mission to investigate the south pole of the moon in 2023. They know there is ice there, but they don’t know if it is safe to drink.
Then, in 2024, they’ll be sending humans in an Orion vehicle. The first woman and the next man will set foot on the moon. They’re also going to build an orbital space station above the moon, called Gateway.
And then from 2028 into the 2030s, they plan to make moon habitation sustainable. That means they’ll have a base where people can actually live on the moon. Not just go in for a quick visit, but to stay.
This stuff is amazing. I mean, it’s like science fiction is actually happening around us. This isn’t just fictional space exploration, it’s real space exploration. It’s an exciting time to be alive.
Shatner’s excitement was infectious. He was so into it and kept interrupting them just to marvel at what they were saying.
The NASA people talked about how science fiction had inspired them into their fields.
Which is interesting, because as a science fiction writer, their real-life eveavours inspire me.
So that was my first comic con experience. Lots of cool stuff gooing on at the moment.
Did you watch any panels? What did you find most exciting? I’d be interested to know. Leave me a comment on youtube, or wherever you listen to the podcast, or even drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next time, we’ll be talking about Wonder Woman, and then the episode after that, we’ll look at Justice League, the theatrical cut.
I’ll catch you next time, out there, in nerd heaven.