Showing posts with label TV Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TV Series. Show all posts

1 July 2021

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters

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Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Nichelle Nichols
On September 10-12, 2021, Nichelle Nichols will meet with fans for autographs, photos and other activities during her trip to Northwest Ohio to officially christen the headquarters of the International Federation of Trekkers on Cleveland Road in Huron.
  • The Federation is the only Star Trek fan club founded with the approval of series creator Gene Roddenberry. After 36 years of service, the organization moved into its new headquarters facilities in fall of 2020. Fans, donors, volunteers and tourists are welcome to visit the new facility.
"The new facility is the culmination of a dream. It is a testament to the selfless work and gifts of our volunteers and donors over these many years," mentioned Russ Haslage, cofounder of The Federation. "And there is nothing more fitting than to have my long-time friend and 'adopted' showbiz mom here to officially christen the location."
Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Lt. Uhura (screengrab)
In a career spanning seven decades, Nichols has been a singer, dancer and actress on stage, television and movies, but is best known in her groundbreaking role as Lt. Uhura, the communications officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek, the original series, and six subsequent movies.

While at Federation headquarters, Nichols will sign autographs and pose for photos with fans in the replica of Captain James T. Kirk's chair on the Enterprise bridge. An opportunity to have dinner with Nichols is also available. All proceeds from the meet-and-greet will benefit Nichols' retirement fund.

Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
Star Trek, the original series (screengrab)
The Federation was founded in 1984 by fan Russ Haslage and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the show. Its mission is to maintain shared interest in the Star Trek universe and, in keeping with the mission of the United Federation of Planets, to help others.

  • The Federation has more than 30 chapters with a total of more than 2,100 members, with charitable works including the funding of local museums, offering food, clothes and school supplies to local children, feeding the homeless and much more including even a mission in Zimbabwe.
Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to Christen the Real World Federation Headquarters
The visitor's center at Federation World Headquarters.
The organization's new world headquarters facility features a visitor's center, gift shop and much more. It is open to fans and visitors and can be found at 501 Cleveland Road West, in Huron, Ohio. 

Their website can be found at trekfederation.com.
  • The Federation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.
SOURCE: The Federation

Related Star Trek Stories:

17 June 2021

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On

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Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Lucy Lawless as the fierce Xena, the warrior princess (AF archive / Alamy)
Xena the warrior princess, played by Lucy Lawless, captivated audiences around the world for six series with her high kicks, sword skills and distinctive war cry. The series followed her as she fought her way through armies, monsters and gods, alongside her soul mate and moral compass, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor).

Xena travelled across space and time, taking us from ancient Greece to Rome, Egypt, Britain, China, India, Scandinavia and finally to Japan, where it all came to an end 20 years ago on June 18 2001.

Starting life as an antagonist of Hercules in three episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was so popular as a character that she was given her spin-off series that ran from 1995 to 2001. At the time, Xena: Warrior Princess was considered groundbreaking as it started a strong female action heroine and was the only popular adventure, action, science fiction or fantasy show that featured female leads without male counterparts.

On the 20th anniversary of the final episode, it worth revisiting this great show and exploring why it was loved by a truly broad spectrum of viewers, from young girls drawn in by an active female role model and ancient history buffs to sci-fi fans and the LGBTQ community.

Xena and the Amazons

A reformed warlord from ancient Greece, Xena was not an Amazon but a friend to the tribes of warrior women. To ancient Greek writers, the Amazons were women who fought and behaved like men and were unnatural barbarians. They have since been adopted as positive female role models who break with misogynistic stereotypes of womanhood – they live in a self-sufficient, female-dominated society as warriors and intellects. The term Amazon feminism is now used to describe a branch of feminism that promotes female physical prowess as a way to achieve gender equality.

Before Xena, the Amazons featured in the 1970s Wonder Woman series. Not quite the feminist icons we expect today, these women wore pastel-coloured negligees as they adopted a peaceful life without men on Paradise Island.

In Xena, while the Amazons may also have been attired in revealing costumes made of furs and skins, their separatist society values martial as well as academic skills. An Amazon tells Gabrielle that the Amazon world is based on “truth and an individual woman’s strength”.

The Amazons from Greek mythology lived apart from men, at the edge of the known world, and fought bravely against male heroes such as Hercules, Theseus and Achilles. In Xena, the Amazons also live in a matriarchal society and are skilled fighters who can hold their own against men.

The Amazons in Wonder Woman (2017) can be seen as Xena’s big-screen descendants. The costumes and fighting prowess of Penthesilea (Nina Milner) in the BBC drama Troy: Fall of a City (2018) has tinges of Xena. While the leadership ability of the immortal Amazon Andy (Charlize Theron) in the Netflix film The Old Guard, can also be seen as inspired by Xena.

But while Troy: Fall of a City and The Old Guard are aimed at older audiences, Xena was popular across all age groups. For instance, episodes of Xena were broadcast in the UK on Channel Five’s Milkshake! Saturday morning slot in the 90s and early noughties for young viewers. This led many young girls to adopt Xena as their role model.

Amazons And Warrior Princesses On Screen – The Legacy Of Xena 20 Years On
Xena and Gabrielle (Screengrab)

The Xena subtext

Xena was also popular with gay and lesbian viewers. In the 1990s, openly gay relationships were mostly missing from popular US television series. However, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle was interpreted as much as that of hero and sidekick as it was friends and lovers. Series producers began to play with this idea, for example, putting Xena and Gabrielle together in a sexy bath in season two fan-favourite episode A Day in the Life, so that for many, the subtext became the main text.

Although a lot of fans were dismayed that Xena died in the final episode they were treated to a long goodbye kiss between Gabrielle and Xena’s ghost. Series producers never openly made Xena and Gabrielle a lesbian couple. But LGBTQ+ fans championed their relationship, which is believed to have paved the way for openly gay relationships we see in television series today.

One of the joys of looking back at Xena 20 years on is its playfulness when compared with dark fantasy sci-fi fantasies like Game of Thrones. It features seriously badass female characters, and at times offers a serious message about female solidarity and feminism, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the special effects may now seem dated, but the storylines still ring true and the characters of Xena and Gabrielle can continue to be inspirational for a new generation of young female viewers.

About Today's Contributor:

Amanda Potter, Visiting Research Fellow, The Open University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

9 April 2021

The New Hit Animated Comedy TV Pilot 'Daddydelphia' Awarded Its Sixth Festival Win and 25th Official Selection [Trailer Included]

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The New Hit Animated Comedy TV Pilot 'Daddydelphia' Awarded Its Sixth Festival Win and 25th Official Selection [Trailer Included]
“Daddydelphia” Awarded Numerous Festival Wins and Nominations, Including “Best Series Pilot,” “Best Comedy Short,” “Best Web/TV Series,” and “Best Animation Short”
The critically acclaimed animated comedy television pilot, Daddydelphia, was recently awarded its sixth festival win and 25th official selection—all within one month of the pilot premiere. 
  • The newest additions to this winning tally include the New York International Film Awards and Oniros Film Awards, which awarded the new half-hour comedy the title of "Best Series Pilot." Other wins include "Best TV Series" by the Imagine Rain Independent Film Awards, "Best Animation Short" by the New Jersey Film Awards, and "Best Comedy Short" by both the New York Independent Cinema Awards and Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival.
The New Hit Animated Comedy TV Pilot 'Daddydelphia' Awarded Its Sixth Festival Win and 25th Official Selection [Trailer Included]
'Daddydelphia' (screengrab)
The Daddydelphia cast and team certainly have quite a lot to be proud of. In its announcement of festival winners, the Imagine Rain Independent Film Awards described the pilot as "fantastically funny" with animation "similar to that of early Simpsons or Family Guy." 

Digitally accepting these awards was actor, producer, and show creator, Harold Eric (known for appearances on Search Party and Gotham), who critics have referred to as the "millennial Seth MacFarlane." 
Regarding these recent wins, Harold Eric stated, "Daddydelphia began simply as an opportunity to foster some form of levity during peculiar times. However, as the show developed from concept to completed production, it became increasingly apparent that there was something special about this pandemic-prompted creation. Our New York-based cast and international team—which include veteran talents and newcomers alike—couldn't be happier about the wonderful public reception and recent critical acclaim we've received."
The New Hit Animated Comedy TV Pilot 'Daddydelphia' Awarded Its Sixth Festival Win and 25th Official Selection [Trailer Included]
Harold Eric (image via IMDb)

Daddydelphia, which was written, directed, and produced by Harold Eric, focuses on five twenty-somethings who become lost while on a road trip to a weekend getaway due to their navigator's alcohol-fueled gross negligence. As a result, they become relegated to life in a small, peculiar town filled with inhabitants who hold mysterious beliefs, strange traditions, and a determination to burn them at the stake. 

  • Originally intended for a January 2022 public release following completion of a full festival run, Daddydelphia instead premiered publicly during March 2021 in an effort to offer new content to a pandemic-stricken populace. 
On the decision, Harold Eric noted, "Although we recognize that public availability limits our festival eligibility to a certain extent, this pilot wasn't created for critical acclaim—more than anything, it was created to make people laugh. That's a tradeoff I'll make any day."

The Trailer:


  • Daddydelphia is currently streaming online for a limited time. To learn more about Daddydelphia, visit daddydelphia.com.

SOURCE: Cityledge

12 February 2021

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!

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Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
Britt Reid - The Green Hornet (by marvelmania)
The last day in January 2021 marks the 85th anniversary of the first appearance of The Green Hornet. A year-long virtual celebration to one of America's earliest superheroes, his most powerful sidekick Kato, and the world's first supercar, the Black Beauty.
George W. Trendle wanted a timely, relevant, hero character on the radio at WXYZ-Detroit to appeal to voting age Americans, as opposed to his earlier creation, The Lone Ranger, created for children.

In an era without television or internet, news traveled slowly, primarily printed in a newspaper. Britt Reid, the alter ego of The Green Hornet, published such a newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, where he receives inside information about corruption and organized crime from his reporters' sources. With his sidekick Kato, The Green Hornet uses his non-lethal weapons to subdue the criminals and leave them for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute. Because police see The Green Hornet as a vigilante, therefore a criminal, both sides of the law are after him, which forces him to wear a mask, so no one discovers his true identity.

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet (by StevJVaz72)
Whether it is an original radio broadcast, one of the serials, a tv episode, an issue of a comic book or a movie; the plot usually consists of corrupt government officials or organized crime leaders who seem innocent and above reproach.

George W. Trendle's creation of The Green Hornet introduced many firsts to the American audience. The masked avenger in a modern city, Bruce Lee as a martial arts sidekick, and a black stealth supercar to keep Americans safe.

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet:(by voyageYOUKOH )

More About The Green Hornet:

(Via Wikipedia)
Though various incarnations sometimes change details, in most versions the Green Hornet is the alter ego of Britt Reid, wealthy young publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper by day. But by night, clad in a long green overcoat, gloves, green fedora hat and green mask, Reid fights crime as the mysterious vigilante known as "The Green Hornet," and is accompanied by his loyal and similarly masked partner and confidant, Kato, who drives their technologically advanced car, the "Black Beauty." Though both the police and the general public believe the Hornet to be a wanted criminal, Reid uses that perception to help him infiltrate the underworld, leaving behind for the police the criminals and any incriminating evidence he has found.

In the original radio incarnation, Britt Reid is the son of Dan Reid, Jr., the nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger, making the Green Hornet the grand-nephew of the Ranger. The relationship is alluded to at least once in the radio shows, when Dan Reid visits his son to question him on why Britt has never captured the Hornet. On learning the truth behind his son's dual identity, Dan Reid recalls his days riding in Texas with his uncle, as the William Tell Overture plays briefly and softly in the background.
 
[Click here to read more....]
Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
Green Hornet - Inked (by zanthiel)

Trivia:

(From IMDb)
A poster for The Lone Ranger can be seen in Britt Reid's room. In the original radio program, Reid was the The Lone Ranger's grandnephew. His father rode with The Lone Ranger on some of his adventures, and they shared the family name of Reid. Both radio programs were created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker. [Click here for more trivia...]

Happy 85th Anniversary, Green Hornet!
The Green Hornet: TV logo

22 January 2021

Poirot at 100: The Refugee Detective Who Stole Britain's Heart

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Poirot at 100: The Refugee Detective Who Stole Britain's Heart
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.(ITV)
A hundred years ago, Agatha Christie introduced British readers to a small man with an impeccably maintained moustache who, with the help of his “little grey cells”, was very good at solving crimes. That man, of course, was Hercule Poirot, who made his debut in Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1921.

Though potentially the second most famous detective in British culture (after Sherlock Holmes), Poirot is not British at all but a refugee. Coming to England as part of a group of Belgians displaced by the first world war, his origins lie in Brussels. Writing about this retired Belgian police officer solving cases around the UK and across the globe, Christie was able to explore (and at times poke fun at) the complexities of Englishness and its relationship to continental Europe.

European flair

On the surface, Christie’s novels resemble a nostalgic retreat to the pastoral and to the English stately home. They can be read as a possible turning-inwards thanks to an emphasis on closed rooms and detailed floor plans of grand buildings. But such appearances are deceptive.

The opening of borders, both literal and intellectual, shapes Christie’s England. It was her understanding of the work of European thinkers that gives her detective an edge. Where an English detective, like Sherlock Holmes, looks for external pieces of evidence that can be analysed, Poirot solves the case by realising the hidden implications of people’s behaviour – including his own. Poirot’s Freudian focus on the psychology of suspects enables him to see that simple mistakes and slips of the tongue can hide deeper meanings. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a crucial clue is revealed when Poirot realises the importance of his own almost unconscious instinct to tidy.

In Christie’s world, the typically English common sense of policemen is not enough to solve the mystery. Instead, a dash of continental theory sheds light on what lies beneath the surface.

Another of Poirot’s trademarks is his occasional struggle to find the correct English word or idiom. In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, he even misquotes Hamlet. Yet it would be a mistake to read these moments as simple errors. Instead, Poirot knowingly plays into the trope of the “funny foreigner”, using difficulties with language to disarm suspects and allay fears of suspicion (how could such a comic figure be so great a detective?). In the famous scenes where Poirot explains the truth, his English becomes markedly more fluent. In this, Poirot represents the outsider perfectly placed to see through English deceptions.

Little England

The success of the “funny foreigner” schtick with unsuspecting English plays into Christie’s larger exploration of Englishness in her books.

Poirot is an enthusiastic devotee of England. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd he comments that England is “very beautiful, is it not?” But this enthusiasm is not always returned. A running joke of the Poirot novels and adaptations is that he is often mistaken as French. In Ackroyd, he is described as looking “just like a comic Frenchman in a revue”. But in a genre that demands close attention to detail, the joke here is at the expense of a particularly inward-looking type of Englishness, those who cannot tell the difference between the French and the Belgian.

Likewise, as literary scholar Alison Light notes, Poirot’s popularity coincides with the expansion in travel, as the English increasingly saw themselves as tourists abroad. Several of Poirot’s most famous cases occur on modes of transport and in exotic locations, like Death on the Nile. However, while the English in these stories might be abroad, class relations from home still manage to play out wherever they might be. England follows them, and that inward-looking Englishness runs deep.

While Christie might have poked fun at England and Englishness, she managed to capture the hearts of British readers with her small, smart Belgian. Poirot was so loved by readers that Christie wrote 33 novels, two plays, and more than 50 short stories about him between 1921 and 1975. ITV’s adaptation of many of these stories, Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet, ran for 25 years (1989-2013) and is also now considered a classic of British TV. Few fictional detectives have had their complete adventures adapted for the screen. In this regard, Poirot makes a strong claim to being Britain’s most loved detective.

Poirot at 100: The Refugee Detective Who Stole Britain's Heart
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.(screengrab)

About Today's Contributor:

Christopher Pittard, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Portsmouth

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

30 November 2020

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes

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Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Some Ms. Marvel comic storylines have revealed her as a well-rounded character while others have advanced Islamophobic themes. (Marvel)

Amid the stress of a rising second wave of COVID-19, comic book fans found something to celebrate this September. Marvel Studios announced the casting of its first on-screen Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan, the alter-ego of Ms. Marvel.

Much like Canadian teen actress Iman Vellani who was plucked for this role, Kamala has been a virtual unknown outside of comic fandom despite being a sensation since her series debut at the top of comic book sales charts in 2014.

It should be no surprise then that Marvel Studios decided to capitalize on this success and signed Kamala for her own TV series on Disney+ for an anticipated debut in late 2021 or early 2022.

As a researcher who has examined Muslim superheroes in American comics, I find Kamala to be the most intriguing of all American Muslim superheroes. She has an ability to destabilize stereotypes of Muslims while reinforcing ideas about American exceptionalism. In the hands of different writers in various comic iterations, she has appeared as multi-dimensional and stereotype-breaking, but also as a one-dimensional figure that advances Islamophobic themes.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American who speaks Urdu. Panel from Volume 1, digital edition. (Marvel)

Muslim characters post 9/11

It may seem that Marvel Studios is taking a big risk spotlighting a Muslim character when we are living in a time of rising anti-Muslim hatred in the West. But while there has been a resurgence of Muslim superheroes in American comics after 9/11, some of these representations reiterate stereotypes.

Muslim characters underwent a mini-makeover in popular culture after 9/11. Characters emerged from being buffoonish villains to figures who gave off the appearance of depth while simultaneously regurgitating stereotypes. American studies and ethnicity scholar Evelyn al Sultany coined the term “simplified complex representation” to describe this approach in her book, Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation After 9/11.

Certainly, Muslim superheroes were a thing before 9/11. But after 9/11, a spate of Muslim superheroes emerged, including characters like the orientalized Sooraya Qadir (Dust), who appeared in New X-Men in 2002, Simon Baz, member of the Green Lantern Corps featured in Green Lantern, and Josiah X who first appeared in The Crew. This is fascinating to me since superheroes often function as patriotic symbols, and Muslims are regarded as the quintessential “other” because Islam is usually framed as incompatible with the West.

After reading Sooraya Qadir’s debut, it became obvious to me that comics found a new way to sensationalize Muslim representation.

Enter Kamala Khan

To me, Kamala seemed to be the rare glimpse of hope that existed on the other side of the rainbow if we just characterized Muslims — who make up almost one-quarter of the world’s population — as something more nuanced. And she delivered on that front, particularly in her early days.

Readers met her as a Pakistani American that spoke Urdu. This means we saw representation of Muslims in the West escape the frequent stereotypical assumption that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
This panel from Ms. Marvel, Volume 1, digital edition, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona, depicts Kamala Khan as a believable character in a possible real-world setting. (Marvel)

Later in Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13, written by the Arab American writer, Saladin Ahmed, the sole focus shifted away from Kamala Khan when an Arab American sidekick named Amulet was introduced.

Successful sales, popularity

In Ms. Marvel’s earlier volumes written by the Muslim writer, and white Muslim convert, G. Willow Wilson, we saw Kamala anointed with her superhero mantle to the tune of Amir Khusro’s poetry. We saw her juggle her schedule between battles and mehendis, and even got a glimpse of her great-great grandmother’s move from India to Pakistan during Partition.

Back then, I remember comic book store clerks telling me how popular Ms. Marvel was with customers. The print collection of the series sold half a million copies alone. As Wilson notes, the first issue had had eight separate printings and its digital edition became Marvel’s best-selling digital comic of all time. Its first volume, released in 2014, was ranked again amongst the top five in sales rankings in September 2020.

I remember thinking that this Urdu-speaking Muslim powerhouse could be the start of a new type of Muslim character. She was proof that creators didn’t need to recycle the tireless oppressed Muslim woman or terrorist Muslim male tropes for sales.

G. Willow Smith discusses Kamala Khan as ‘A Superhero for Generation Why.’

Introducing Islamophobic themes

But following the success of the Ms. Marvel series, Kamala appeared in Marvel’s Champions series about a team of teenage superheroes. Perhaps Marvel intended to further boost the popularity of the already-successful Ms. Marvel series by bringing in Mark Waid, a high-profile non-Muslim white writer, who authored the popular comic series (and award-winning graphic novel) Kingdom Come and others.

In Champions, some tired stereotypes surfaced. In the third issue, the team flies to a fictional South Asian country. There, they rescue hijabi Muslim girls from violent men who conform to stock villain Muslim stereotypes like the terrorists seen in Hollywood movies such as True Lies.

Here, Kamala is effectively used as a racist weapon against brown men and is depicted to suggest proof of western superiority. Sadly enough, I was concerned she could be used this way before she actually was.

I was reminded that such tropes may exist simply because of implicit bias as opposed to profitability.

Celebrate and watch

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala’s selfie with Wolverine, from ‘Ms. Marvel’ Volume 2, digital edition. (Marvel)

For now, we should celebrate the debut of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Muslim superhero. I have hope that the Disney+ series will do her justice as its showrunner is the stand-up comedian and writer Bisha K. Ali, known for incisive commentary.

However, Marvel plans to move Kamala eventually to the silver screen and there’s already talk of a Champions type of superhero team series featuring Kamala.

If anything of the likes of Kamala as a racist weapon to prove western superiority is featured, I can’t say there will be much cause for celebration.

About Today's Contributor:

Safiyya Hosein, PhD Candidate in Communication and Culture, Ryerson University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

16 November 2020

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen

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Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
Michael Fassbender in the Assassin’s Creed film. (20th Century Fox/Youtube)
The Assassin’s Creed franchise is leaping forward (off the top of a building, presumably) with the release of the 12th game in the series – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – and the recent announcement of an upcoming Netflix show.
While the games are hugely popular, we will have to hope this new show is an improvement on the 2016 film. It had great actors playing bland characters, and perfectly adequate action scenes but no discernible narrative content. Indeed, Assassin’s Creed provides a classic lesson on the difficulties of turning even an expansive, multi-dimensional gaming world into a story that’s suitable for other formats.

The Assassin’s Creed games use the framing device of a present-day conflict and the dramatically recreated memories of the characters’ ancestors in historical periods. These memories form the main action of the game and its main appeal. If anything, the present-day plot elements seem rather odd and superfluous by comparison.

For instance, in the first game (2007), the player controls a 12th-century Levantine assassin named Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad during the Third Crusade. His 21st-century descendant, Desmond Miles, is forced to experience Altaïr’s life so that the present-day Templars can find prehuman artefacts known as Pieces of Eden. If that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, well, it doesn’t.

This is no Shakespearean play-within-a-play device with two separate narratives that merely reflect and comment on each other. Rather, the stories directly affect one another – you must go into the past to uncover the secret locations of present-day artefacts.

Incoherent narrative

Assassin’s Creed never really attempts the moral depth and world-shaking decisions of, say, the critically-acclaimed Deus Ex videogame franchise. Deus Ex’s background of warring conspiracies is nuanced enough that the player feels that real choices are being made.

The 2016 Assassin’s Creed movie was bad partly because the entire franchise – despite its many genuinely brilliant qualities of gameplay, atmosphere, and graphics – is narratively incoherent. This might be forgivable in a game built around atmosphere, cool weaponry and stylish moves, but it’s not enough for a viable film.

There are great examples of transmedia storytelling across multiple formats, such as the Marvel cinematic universe, Tolkein’s Middle-Earth or, indeed, Deus Ex. In these cases, each new book, film or game builds on the narrative of the previous ones while maintaining a sense of wonder and the unknown. But the Assassin’s Creed franchise doesn’t bother making the effort, as though its creators Ubisoft believe the occasional media studies experts who suggest that videogames should stay in their lane and not even try to tell stories.

It seems snobbish to assume that video games are just no good at narrative, but it’s almost as reductive to believe they should emulate filmic storytelling instead of embracing videogames’ unique strengths. Interactivity, agency, emotional engagement and immersion combine to provide players with experiences that would be impossible to achieve in purely linear stories.
The structure of games is inherently different from that of films, and this is most apparent when it comes to endings. Writing a narratively satisfying ending for a novel or film is notoriously tough – and even tougher if you also have to give your audience the choice of how to finish the story.

Every time you let the player make a significant yes or no decision in gameplay, you double the number of possible endings. No storyteller wants to have to come up with hundreds of satisfactory endings.

Game designers have a variety of tricks available to reduce that number, giving the illusion of choice while gradually steering the player back onto the main plot. Still, most players will be happier if the series of interesting decisions include more than just selecting tactical options to overcome challenges. They need ethically weighty choices that empower them to playfully explore their value systems.

From winging it to fixing it?

The Assassin’s Creed franchise seems to have been winging it with its worldbuilding since the start, each story building haphazardly on the previous ones. I see three ways forward.

They could continue to ignore concerns about coherence, concentrate on cool stunts and environments, and hope that fans will accept new instalments as merely each new creative team’s take. But the narrative threads sprawl so much that it’s going to be a tough sell.

Assassin's Creed TV Series: Why It's So Hard To Adapt Video Games For The Screen
A still from the very first Assassin’s Creed (2007). (Ubisoft/IGDB)
If the new series is going to be any good, it would be better to bring in a good universe runner. Someone who can work out how most of the universe hangs together and cut out the bits that don’t.

Alternatively, they could start again, with a worldbuilding process not just a story idea. Videogames can tell amazing stories, despite what their detractors may think, but they do need a consistent background in which to set those stories. Creating a believable world first, would only make the next franchise stronger.

About Today's Contributor:

Ian Sturrock, Senior Lecturer in Game Design and Games Studies, Teesside University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

22 October 2020

Sesame Workshop's First-Ever Animated Sesame Street Special 'The Monster at the End of This Story' Launches On HBO Max On October 29

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Sesame Workshop's First-Ever Animated Sesame Street Special 'The Monster at the End of This Story' Launches On HBO Max On October 29
Sesame Workshop's First-Ever Animated Sesame Street Special 'The Monster at the End of This Story' Launches On HBO Max On October 29 (image courtesy of Sesame Workshop)
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind half a century of award-winning children's television, will launch its first-ever animated Sesame Street special "The Monster at the End of This Story" on Thursday, October 29 on HBO Max – and its star, Grover, is begging fans not to watch!
A reimagining of Sesame Street's all-time best-selling picture book "The Monster at the End of This Book," the special follows Grover's reluctant journey to the end of the story, where, based on the title, he believes a monster awaits. 

Drawn in the unmistakable style of the beloved book first published in 1971, the special adds new sequences, songs and surprises, and introduces other familiar Sesame Street characters, including Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, and Rosita, to the tale.
"After nearly 50 years, the lesson in 'The Monster at the End of This Book' remains timeless: It's okay to feel afraid, but also important to have courage and keep moving forward in spite of those fears," said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop's Executive Vice President of Creative and Production. "We brought this classic story from page to screen in a way that will feel familiar to longtime fans and exciting and engaging for young viewers. By expanding the original narrative and adding new layers, we share a strong lesson in friendship, showing how Grover learns to manage his fear with the support of his friends."
In celebration of the upcoming special, Sesame Workshop today released a new video of "The Monster at the End of This Book" being read aloud by celebrities Kelsea Ballerini, Sofia Carson, Ciara, Stephen and Ayesha Curry, Josh Groban, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Lil Nas X, Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Jordin Sparks, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Sudeikis, Jonathan Van Ness, and Olivia Wilde


"The Monster at the End of This Story" is the official special of Sesame Street's 51st season, set to launch on HBO Max later this fall.

This special caps off the release of Sesame Workshop's series of "Monster"-themed content, digital activities, and product releases, which to-date have included an interactive "The Monster at the End of Your Story" video on Sesame Street's YouTube page (watch below), a "Monsterize Me!" avatar creator, the release of new editions of "The Monster at the End of This Book," and more. 


About Sesame Workshop:

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We're present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. 

For more information, please visit sesameworkshop.org.
SOURCE: Sesame Workshop

10 October 2020

MHz Networks Announces Premiere Dates for International Emmy Award Winning Series ‘Spiral’ ('Engrenages') Seasons 7 & 8

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MHz Networks Announces Premiere Dates for International Emmy Award Winning Series ‘Spiral’ ('Engrenages') Seasons 7 & 8
MHz Networks Announces Premiere Dates for International Emmy Award Winning Series ‘Spiral’ ('Engrenages') Seasons 7 & 8 (image via MHz Networks)
MHz Networks announces its premiere dates for the final two seasons of the French television police procedural and legal drama, Spiral

  • The first two of twelve episodes of the penultimate Season 7 will premiere on November 17 on MHz Choice, followed by a weekly release of two episodes. 
  • Spiral: Season 8 will premiere on January 5, 2021 and will follow the same release format.
Created by Alexandra Clert and Guy-Patrick Sainderichin and originally released in France in 2005 as Engrenages, Spiral became a sensation across Europe and Australia, winning awards and commendations from TV France and The Royal Television Society in the UK, among others, and won the International Emmy Award for Best Drama Series. 

The series features an all-star cast including Audrey Fleurot (A French Village) as attorney Joséphine Karlsson, who often finds herself at odds with Police Captain Laure Berthaud, played by Caroline Proust (The Tunnel), and Police Lieutenant Gilou Escoffier, played by Thierry Godard (A French Village, The Chalet).

MHz Networks Announces Premiere Dates for International Emmy Award Winning Series ‘Spiral’ ('Engrenages') Seasons 7 & 8
Caroline Proust (Laure Berthaud) in Spiral Season 7 on MHz Choice.
"Spiral has been part of the MHz Choice DNA since our creation so it will be a bittersweet event for us when the series comes to an end," said MHz Networks president and CEO Frederick Thomas. "It's remarkable how large of a fan base Spiral has garnered throughout the years. Our audience will not be disappointed with these final two seasons."
Thierry Godard (Gilou Escoffier) and Caroline Proust (Laure Berthaud) in Spiral Season 7 on MHz Choice.

More About 'Spiral':

(Via Wikipedia)
Spiral is a French television police procedural and legal drama series following the work and the private lives of Paris police officers and lawyers and judges at the Palais de Justice, Paris.

  • The first series of eight episodes started broadcast on Canal+ in France in December 2005. The series was shown in the UK on BBC Four during the summer of 2006. It was the channel's first French-language drama series, attracting a modest but loyal audience (around 200,000) and firm critical approval.
  • The second series, also with eight episodes, was broadcast in France starting in May 2008, and in the UK on BBC Four starting in September 2009.
  • The third series consisted of 12 episodes and was shown from April 2011.
  • The fourth series was broadcast in February 2013.
  • The fifth series was broadcast in France in late 2014 and in the UK on BBC Four from January 2015. 
  • The sixth series was broadcast in 2017.
  • The seventh series was broadcast in France in February 2019.
[....]

The original French title is Engrenages. This word carries various meanings in French. Although it literally translates as either "gears" or "gearing", it is also used in various idioms and the official translation of the title picks up the phrase "a spiral of violence" (engrenage de violence), though it also carries overtones of "getting caught up in the works" (mettre un doigt dans l'engrenage), "getting some grit in the works" (un grain de sable dans l'engrenage) and even "the cycle of drug abuse" (l'engrenage de la drogue), or "gearing" in the sense of "intensification".

MHz Networks Announces Premiere Dates for International Emmy Award Winning Series ‘Spiral’ ('Engrenages') Seasons 7 & 8
Caroline Proust (Laure Berthaud) in Spiral Season 7 on MHz Choice.
  • In addition to Spiral: Season 7, MHz Networks will also premiere new seasons of audience favorites Magellan and Murder In…, as well as the two-part police thriller The Informer.

About MHz Networks:

MHz Networks offers viewers access to a library of the best television mysteries, dramas, comedies and documentaries subtitled in English through its subscription streaming service, MHz Choice. Select MHz Networks content is also available on DVD and on its free ad-supported service MHz Now available on Samsung TV Plus.

  • New MHz Choice customers receive a free 7-Day Trial. For more information, go to mhzchoice.com.
SOURCE: MHz Networks

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3 October 2020

Peanuts Worldwide Launches Global "Take Care With Peanuts" Initiative As Charles Schulz's Comic Strip Celebrates its 70th Anniversary

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Peanuts Worldwide Launches Global "Take Care With Peanuts" Initiative As Charles Schulz's Comic Strip Celebrates its 70th Anniversary
On October 2, 1950, Charlie Brown first appeared in the comics pages of seven American newspapers. In the following days and years, he was joined by friends Lucy and Linus, his sister Sally, and, of course, everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy. Seven decades later, the Peanuts gang has left an indelible mark on global pop culture around the world.
Drawing inspiration directly from Charles Schulz's beloved comic strips, Peanuts Worldwide announces a new multi-year initiative, Take Care With Peanuts, a campaign of caring that reminds all of us to be good global citizens.

The initiative launches on October 2, 2020, as Peanuts celebrates its 70th Anniversary.
Take Care With Peanuts features three vital messagesTake Care of Yourself (focused on physical and mental wellness), Take Care of Each Other (community and philanthropy), and Take Care of the Earth (nature and sustainability)—that inspire a major worldwide philanthropic endeavor, among other components.
"Take Care With Peanuts is an initiative after my own heart, as it celebrates all the themes that my husband featured regularly in his comic strip," says Jeanne Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. "Sparky shared messages of taking care of each other and respecting nature for years—he was always a man ahead of his time!"
Peanuts Worldwide Launches Global "Take Care With Peanuts" Initiative As Charles Schulz's Comic Strip Celebrates its 70th Anniversary
Tools of the Happiness Trade, Peanuts-Style: At The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia, patient Bella Conciatore celebrates the new Snoopy and Woodstock mural she helped paint, which will hang in the hospital as a gift from Peanuts Worldwide and the nonprofit Foundation for Hospital Art. The mural is one of 70 being donated to hospitals worldwide as part of the global “Take Care With Peanuts” initiative, launched October 2 in conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of Peanuts.

Philanthropy: Taking Care Worldwide

Philanthropic projects will be a key component of the initiative, starting with the Take Care With Peanuts Hospital Mural Program, a global collaboration between Peanuts Worldwide and the nonprofit Foundation for Hospital Art (FFHA). As part of FFHA's mission to bring joyful art to hospitals around the world, Peanuts is donating 70 Snoopy-and-Woodstock murals to hospitals on six continents. 

  • Among the international participating cities are Beijing, Bogotá, Cape Town, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, and Toronto (to name a few), along with 12 U.S. cities.
The program debuted on October 1 at One Brooklyn Health at Brookdale Hospital in New York, and at CHOC Children's Hospital in Orange, California. A combination of volunteers, hospital staff, and patients at both hospitals joined together to paint the 49" x 56" murals, which feature an easy-to-follow template creating a cheerful image of Snoopy and Woodstock enjoying a hearty laugh atop Snoopy's red-roofed doghouse. 

  • Each hospital around the world will feature the same mural, creating a global bond of community and caring.
The Foundation for Hospital Art project is just the beginning of a multi-year philanthropic enterprise, with charity partners in each Peanuts Worldwide territory joining the Take Care With Peanuts initiative.

Peanuts Worldwide Launches Global "Take Care With Peanuts" Initiative As Charles Schulz's Comic Strip Celebrates its 70th Anniversary
Flying High with Woodstock: Young patient Za’Naii Roundtree shows off her awesome painting skills as she contributes to a new Snoopy and Woodstock mural at Gillette Children’s in St. Paul, Minnesota--hometown of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. The mural is one of 70 being donated to hospitals worldwide by Peanuts Worldwide and the nonprofit Foundation for Hospital Art as part of the global “Take Care With Peanuts” initiative, launched October 2in conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of Peanuts

Social Messaging Videos: Animated Stories Of Caring

Original 1-minute animated videos featuring the Peanuts characters will highlight Take Care themes throughout the initiative. The videos kick off on October 13 with Charlie Brown's sister Sally singing an original song, "Take Care." 

  • Starting in February 2021, ten original videos will be released each year, all­­­ dubbed into 10 languages.

Lesson Plans: Teaching Kids To Take Care

Starting November 2020 on peanuts.com, teachers and parents can download free standards-based lesson plans in 11 languages from the curriculum experts at Young Minds Inspired (YMI). Designed for students ages 4–11, the lesson plans will feature the Peanuts characters and Take Care themes will helping kids sharpen their STEM, Language Arts, and Social Studies skills.


Peanuts Worldwide Launches Global "Take Care With Peanuts" Initiative As Charles Schulz's Comic Strip Celebrates its 70th Anniversary
"The Snoopy Show".

Apple TV+: Taking Care With "The Snoopy Show"

A new Apple Original series, "The Snoopy Show," will debut globally February 5, 2021 on Apple TV+. Starring Snoopy and his many personas, one-third of the episodes will feature Take Care With Peanuts themes. 

  • "The Snoopy Show" is produced by WildBrain.
The Peanuts characters and related intellectual property are 41% owned by WildBrain Ltd. (TSX: WILD), 39% owned by Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc., and 20% owned by family of Charles M. Schulz.

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