Yesterday, I began discussing the explosive news that hit Trek fandom like a warp core breach over this past weekend: SIR PATRICK STEWART will be returning to play Jean-Luc Picard in a brand new Star Trek television project. It’s not known yet if this will be an ongoing series, a mini-series, or just a made-for-TV movie or pilot. No scripts have been written, and indeed, there are no real details yet detailing whether this will be Captain Picard, Admiral Picard, Ambassador Picard, or just some bald guy who used to fight the Borg now running a small winery in eastern France.
But one thing is for sure: CBS is now committed to the project because it’s been officially announced to both Trekkies and the world at large. Nearly all major entertainment media magazines were carrying the news on their websites within 24 hours. It’d be tough for CBS to back out now.
But is this a good thing?
After all, in an interview on StarTrek.com back in 2010, Sir Patrick himself said of Next Gen: “I remain very proud of the work that we did, very proud of the series and the movies, but I do not wish to return to it.” In a convention appearance around that same time where I saw him, Stewart explained that he felt he’d thoroughly examined every aspect of Picard creatively as a actor and was okay moving on.
Is CBS just desperately going back to a well that’s already been mostly tapped…rather than working to create something fresh and new? Are they relying on Patrick Stewart as “stunt casting” to help draw in more viewers?
The Star Trek world was rocked this past weekend when news arrived from Las Vegas that not only will there be a second new live-action Star Trek series going into pre-production (rather than just being proposed), but it will feature none other than Sir Patrick Stewart himself reprising his role of Jean-Luc Picard! I’ve seen the word “nerdgasm” bantered about over the past 48 hours, and I must admit to being more than a bit excited myself over the news.
I was also intrigued (although not necessarily surprised) to find that some fans had more…shall we say…pessimistic reactions. One friend of mine wrote me, “To be honest, this terrifies me and is the worst thing they could have done. They will build up unrealistic hype over it and finally break the backs of the majority of the deep fandom with disappointment.” Interestingly, he didn’t say this because he thought Star Trek: Discovery was/is terrible. In fact, he added, “I was hopeful with Discovery and it turned out somewhere between ok and good…”
Conversely, it seems that a lot of Discovery detractors are using this news to cross their fingers and predict/hope/pray that “this time, they’ll get it right.” And many Discovery supporters are thinking, “Hey, it’ll be another great new Trek series AND it’ll have Picard…win-win!”
I probably fall more into the former group, but in my mind, there’s a much more interesting question to ask: What is CBS thinking???
I do not mean this in a “What in the world are these clueless idiots possibly thinking?” kind of way. Instead, I’m really, truly curious what is going through their minds right now. And I’d like to share some conjectures with you…realizing that this is purely speculation on my my part. But I think it’ll be a fun little thought experiment…
Okay, San Diego Comic Con 2018 is now in the history books, and nearly every Trekker is now talking about Season Two of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
Fans now know that, in addition to Anson Mount playing Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn (who played the shape-shifting Mystique in the early X-Men films) will play Number One, and yes, we will be seeing Spock at some point this season. Other new characters, like Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno, are also being added (not sure as regulars or guests stars), plus at least one actor whose character died during Season One will be returning in some undisclosed way.
In addition to the debut of Season Two of Discovery sometime in early 2019, four “Short Treks” (about 10-15 minutes each) will tell stories focusing on the histories of established characters like Tilly and Saru plus a new character named Craft, and a fourth featuring Harry Mudd (played by Rainn Wilson, who will also direct his mini-episode). Reportedly, one of these four shorts will be released each month leading up to the January premiere of Season Two. Whether these “Short Treks” will be exclusive to CBS All Access (and Netflix outside of America and Canada) or posted for free on the Internet has not been made clear yet. Personally, I think they should be posted publicly to draw in more viewers to the subscription service…but what do I know?
(Side/snide note – for any fan filmmaker who’s been complaining, “You can’t tell a decent Star Trek story in less than 15 minutes…” well, CBS is about to either prove you right or wrong. Stay tuned!)
But by far, the most excitement came from this intriguing Season Two trailer. And for the 1% of you out there who haven’t seen it yet, here ’tis…
Not bad, huh? But there was something oddly familiar about it…
Last time, I discussed the new GoFundMe campaign implemented by ComicMix, LLC to assist in paying legal fees associated with an infringement lawsuit filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) back in late 2016. The lawsuit has been a very active one, with 13 notices, 14 motions, 7 responses, 6 replies, 28 judicial orders, and 1 amended complaint (so far)…and the date of trial isn’t until next spring! The lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy…which is mainly why this lawsuit is costing so much.
Things are going well for both sides at the moment, and it’s far from clear how this lawsuit will turn out once it goes in front of a jury (assuming it doesn’t settle, which isn’t looking likely at present…but who knows, right?)
Most recently, Hon. Judge Janis Samartino of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego made two very significant rulings that will likely have a major impact on this case. One was clearly a win for the defense (“Team Mash-up” as I call them) and was actually covered by The Hollywood Reporter (and other media outlets) two months ago with the headline: “‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Creator Beats Trademark Claims.” That made it almost sound like the case was over. Not even close! The “victory” by Team Mash-up was only partial, albeit important. I’ll explain that shortly.
Then last month, another ruling came down striking 11 affirmative defense claims that Team Mash-up intended to use to argue their case. That’s the legal equivalent of taking 11 arrows away from an archer going into battle who only has 37 arrows to begin with. So this time, it was a victory for the plaintiff…although, again, only a partial one.
This lawsuit—a very important case that could set a significant precedent in the emerging art form of the “mash-up”—has turned into a fascinating game of chess. And as I’ve done before on this blog, I’d like to translate all the boring legalese into enjoyable English so you folks who are interested can get a layperson’s update on this fascinating case.
Welcome back to another emotionally-charged episode of “As The AxaCon Turns”…the fan film controversy that asks the eternal question: Is Lane ever gonna stop blogging about this crap???
Well, I thought I was finished on Monday when I posted this blog about the detractors trying their darnedest to interfere with any chance of success for AxaCon by inundating the host convention, SphinxCon, and its chairman, DAVID WEINER, with all sorts of negative public and private comments about ALEC PETERS, AXANAR, and the invited guests (including yours truly).
Because it’s important to today’s blog, let me remind you what started the whole upheaval. Noted Axanar detractor and frustrated New York Mets fan SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN posted this lovely comment onto the SphinxCon Facebook page…
Yeah, that happened. Then everything else happened. Then I blogged about it. That lit up the fan film quadrant of the Internet for many hours on Monday while I took my son to see the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center. There were literally hundreds of comments waiting for me to read when I got home!
But one message stopped me in my tracks. It was an APOLOGY from Shawn O’Halloran to Dave Weiner for disrupting his convention page!
It’s probably best if I let Shawn speak for himself with this screen cap that Dave sent me…
Perhaps “torpedo” isn’t the right word. Sabotage? Interfere with? Mess up? Mock? Belittle? Bash? Brutalize? Bully? Eliminate?
Whatever you call it, at least a couple of dozen AXANAR detractors (possibly more) seem to be making a concerted effort to convince the organizers of SphinxCon in Atlanta not to host the first AxaCon as a “con-in-a-con” on November 2-4. Earlier this year, detractors had made similar efforts to pressure Eric L. Watts of Treklanta to disinvite ALEC PETERS as a guest…so much so that Eric asked to write a guest blog addressing their behavior.
The same day I was conducting my interview with ALEC PETERS about AxaCon and how it came to be an “add-on” to SphinxCon, the detractors were descending on the SphinxCon Facebook page with a wave of attempts to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Last time it was Eric Watts. This time they needed to get their message out to DAVE WEINER, the organizer and chairman of SphinxCon 2018.
Dave lives in Decatur, GA with his wife Joanna and what he refers to as the “two house cats of the apocalypse.” He has been active in The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association since 2014. He is responsible for TRMN’s online infrastructure and branding.
TRMN has held two conventions a year for the past 5 years–one in Raleigh, NC called HonorCon and one in Minneapolis, MN called MantiCon. SphinxCon will be their first in Atlanta, although Dave and many of the directors and deputies have experience running and working on other cons (including Dragon*Con).
Dave wanted to share what’s been going on since this past Friday because it has been very disturbing to him as a fan and as a convention organizer. Having now observed the detractors firsthand and their attempts to try to put a positive “spin” on their actions, Dave would like set the record straight on exactly what has happened.
To do this, he has provided me with a large number of screen caps of posts, messages, and other communications…and those will make up the majority of this blog. You can then decide for yourself how you feel about all of this…
In Part 1, I looked at some of the striking similarities between the two franchises LOST IN SPACE and STAR TREK. And then I shared how my seven-year-old son and I absolutely LOVED the first season of the new Netflix reboot of Lost in Space, while I personally have been mostly disappointed with the new Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access (which I don’t let my son watch).
Yesterday, I provided an overview of why Jayden and I enjoyed LiS so much. It made us cheer. We rooted for the characters and wanted to see them get out of trouble and win. On the other hand, during the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, I found myself caring very little about any of the crew or nearly all of the other characters on that show.
But enough with the generalities! It’s time to provide some specifics of what I think LiS is doing right that Discovery is failing to do. So let’s dive right in…
Like Star Trek, LOST IN SPACE recently returned to television after a long absence with a new series…available only through a paid subscription service. Both shows are “darker” than their original versions, very expensive to make (about $8-$8.5 million per episode), and both are produced entirely in Canada (Star Trek: Discovery in Toronto and Lost in Space in British Columbia).
Both series debuted to very strong viewership numbers. When the first two episodes of Discovery premiered on the CBS network, 9.6 million people watched. When LiS debuted on Netflix, Nielsen estimated that 6 million people watched it in the first three days alone and that 1.2 million binge-watched all ten episodes during that time. More viewers—such as myself and my 7-year-old son Jayden, watched LiS several weeks later over the course of many nights.
While it’s not known how many people are watching Discovery (CBS keeps those numbers locked up tighter than the gold in Fort Knox!), estimates are that about 300,000-500,000 subscribers view Discovery on All Access with more watching on Space TV in Canada and on Netflix in other countries around the world. And despite mixed reviews from both critics and fans, both series have now been renewed for a second season.
So those are their main similarities. But what about their differences? And what is it about those differences that leaves me so much MORE enthusiastic about the new Lost in Space than I am about Star Trek: Discovery?
Today, please welcome special Guest Blogger ERIC L. WATTS, Chairman of the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA and the organizer of the BJO Awards that honor the top Star Trek fan films each year. Eric and Treklanta have been an important and integral part of theTrek fan film community for many years now—screening fan productions, featuring fan film panel discussions and guests, an generally giving support and validation to the genre.
Treklanta 2018 took place over the Memorial Day weekend and featured a couple of panels focusing on fan films. Everything was going great until it was announced that ALEC PETERS of AXANAR would be taking part in these panels. Then the shat hit the fans, and Eric was berated by angry e-mails and Facebook posts and even a phone call telling him how wrong he was for letting Alec Peters anywhere near his convention…let alone allowing Alec to be an announced guest on two panels.
The blowback both privately and on social media blasting Eric over Alec’s presence at Treklanta became so intense that I asked Eric if he’d like to comment on it here on Fan Film Factor in a blog I was preparing last week about the Bjo Awards.
Eric agreed, but his comment was so thorough and heartfelt that I decided it would be better to let it stand in its entirety as a separate guest blog. My apologies to you and Eric for the delay in getting it posted (one week), but with two different crowd-funders ending, it’s been a very crowded seven days of blogs (and I was away in Santa Barbara over the weekend).
Anyway, here’s what Eric had to say about Alec Peters and panels at Treklanta…