Falling Skies - Sneak a Peek at the Show Via the Press Kit

If there's one thing Spielberg does well, though there's obviously more than one, it's that any material he's associated with includes in-depth character development.

Yes, he deals in genre, but his films and shows always dig deeper into the human condition and how it's affected by aliens or ghosts or dinosaurs or war. 

Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances is his domain. Needless to say, I was happy when I arrived home last Wednesday to a surprise propped up against my door...

Here's the deal with me and press kits...I either love them or I hate them. They are simultaneously wonderful and awful.

Wonderful because I'm very connected to that part of myself that screams, "Cool! If when you were a little kid someone told you that as part of your job, networks and movie companies will send you cool stuff to get you to watch their shows and movies and then talk about them, you know you'd be so happy you'd shoot through the roof!"

Which is true. I love my job.

However, once you start getting them as a journalist, people can accuse you of letting the neat stuff you get in the mail inform your reviews. It doesn't happen with me. Trust me. I've been kicked off of many press lists for negative reviews.

Of course, I can't be certain of this. But whenever I post a negative review, though I never want to be merciless or cruel, I seem to stop getting screeners and press kits from said parent company. Just ask SyFy who recently posted a review I wrote of "Fact or Faked" on their Facebook page without reading it. Suffice it to say, it was a critical review and after over a hundred comments from angry fans questioning why SyFy would post a negative review of their own show, it was taken down. My brief brush with my beloved SyFy left me elated. Then bummed. Such is life as a critic.

The entire press kit arrived in this
messenger bag with the tag "If You Had
To Start Over, What Would You Bring?"
Makes me wonder what the press kit
for "The Stand" was like back in the day.
Germ vials?
The other thing about press kits is the fact that sometimes they're awful. I'll put it this way, I've had my fair share of tiny Nerf footballs with logos printed on them sitting in my mailbox.

And I've never reviewed a show about football.

So, take this entry as nothing more than a "Hey, check out this cool press kit!" just because I'm so elated to get one so detailed and topically relevant.

I also have screeners for the show, but I won't post my review until the day after it premieres. Embargoes and all that.

After all that "blah blah blah" about press kits and objective reviews, can I just say that I'm genuinely excited about Falling Skies? It looks like a blast, and admittedly, like the majority of female geeks everywhere, I have kind of a thing for Noah Wyle. (I am not ashamed of The Librarian!) Combine that with the Spielberg sci-fi, the fast-paced previews and the character-driven plot line and I'm very excited to preview the show this weekend.

Check out the preview below and tell me what you think in the comments section. Will you watch?


The Fall of Sam Axe - Bruce Campbell the Icon vs. Bruce Campbell the Actor

This is a biased review. I think it's fair you know that now. I'm a total Bruce Campbell fangirl. Naturally, this informs my opinion of the Burn Notice movie that premiered on USA recently.

I was running around EPCOT when it aired, otherwise I would've been glued to the TV like every other Campbell/Burn Notice follower out there.

For a summary review, click READ MORE and scroll down to "Get to the Point". For the whole rambling mess, continue on. (That's you Deadites.)

When I finally watched Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe today as a re-run (at 10:00 a.m. no less) I was pleasantly surprised. Jeffrey Donovan, the actor who plays Michael Weston, directed this prequel. It gives us the back story of everybody's favorite margarita-guzzling retired Navy Seal, Sam Axe.


Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files - Beware the Shark

UPDATE: SyFy.com linked to my article on their FB page. When commenters began to point out my criticisms, they took it down. It was a brief brush with going viral, but it was a fun one!


Beware the shark, you are awfully close to jumping it. And far too soon.

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files is a SyFy Channel original show that offers viewers a refreshing premise. Instead of so many other paranormal shows, this one aims to immediately debunk popular internet videos of ghostly encounters, mysteries or UFOs. (Think Scooby Doo meets the Ghostbusters) As a natural skeptic, I rather enjoy the flip. More on that later.

Instead of jumping in head first like any of those ubiquitous ghost hunting shows, running off to investigate with enough night vision cameras to make Jurassic Park jealous, (Look at me and my twenty year old jokes! Hi-Oh!) this group of experts instead attempts to recreate videos to get closer to the actual truth behind their origins. Hooray for reverse-engineering and countering mass online hysteria!

The first season was a blast. I latched on to it quickly, mostly because I think I'm SyFy's ideal demographic. A skeptic with a heart of gold. Raised on Godzilla, Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Spielberg movies, and Ghostbusters, I tend to gravitate toward sci-fi and fantasy. I don't believe in ghosts or aliens, but I love the movies that make them famous pop culture fascinations. (I also watch Destination Truth, Face Off and Brad Meltzer's Decoded for similar reasons. I'm an adventure genre junkie.)

Like other shows that catch on quickly, it seems that Fact or Faked has changed some of what made it so initially engaging. This current season seems more rehearsed. Right off the bat, I want to be clear, I don't blame the cast for this. There's something wonky about the production.

Here are five potential misfires that could bring the show down before it ever really gets off the ground...


PLOT vs STORY: Why "Monsters" May Be the Perfect Screenplay (Spoiler-Free)

I rented the indie film "Monsters" a few weeks ago. It was just one of those lazy Sunday afternoons and I'll watch just about anything with "monster" in the title.

What I thought might be a fun escapist flick turned out to be more. So much more that I ended up teaching it in my Intro to Creative Writing class. So much more that I found myself shedding tears at the touching and meaningful ending.

Monsters might be the perfect screenplay. It's a prime example of literary (meaning character-driven) storytelling. One of those movies that film-lovers can use to justify their dollars spent at the multiplex, their hours wiled away in front of the television searching for that emotional high only a really great story can provide.

Let's talk specifics...

Little Girl Joins the Dark Side (Star Wars Jedi Training Academy)

I bet the folks who write the live shows over at Walt Disney World didn't count on a kid wanting to participate who would join the dark side...she even kneels before Vader. Priceless.


Padme Eats a Pear with a Fork (and So Does Audrey)

I was eating a pear with a fork and knife tonight, when...no seriously, Because pears have inconsistent textures and little hard spots where you least expect them. Cutting them with a fork saves you some unexpected gum pain. The fact that I dreamed up this entire justification for eating a pear with a fork while thinking of Padme Amidala grabbing a levitated pear out of the air during dinner with Anakin in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones? Well, I'd say that qualifies as a geek moment. Wouldn't you?


First Look: New Haunted Mansion Special Effects

As many of you know, lots of big changes have been made to The Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World. There's a new interactive queue. The video below shows an impressive slew of new hitchhiking ghost special effects.

Where a ghost once appeared in your Doombuggy, you'll now have a much more interactive experience. You'll notice that in one instance, the ghost takes off his beard and puts it on a guest and as the guest moves his head around, the illusion of the beard stays on his face. Disney is using some pretty major motion tracking technology. (Makes me want to watch Jurassic Park again...spare no expense.)

Watch the video below from www.InsidetheMagic.net

I can't help but think of author Cory Doctorow's book, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom". The story is set in a distant Utopian future where a battle is waged over the wiping out of traditional Disney rides in favor of just having the experience of the ride flash-baked into your brain. (Kind of like "the box" from Batman Forever. Yeah...I just referenced Batman Forever.) 

While I usually enjoy ride updates, I admit that it does make me a little squeamish seeing The Haunted Mansion messed with, though the original still stands at Disneyland. 


Retro Orlando - Wherefore Art Thou Dreamfinder?

My column this month on Dreamfinder from the half lost/original version of EPCOT's ride "Journey into Imagination" has stirred some fun and sweet responses.

In one of those great journalistic moments of connection, I was even able to get in touch with the actor who originally portrayed Dreamfinder via writer Jeff Heimbuch of Disney Dispatch.

I'll be interviewing him soon. If you want to know what all the hullabaloo is about, read on...