Pixel Scroll 1/23/20 No-One Expects The Scrollish Pixelation!

(1) THE DOCTOR IS STILL IN. Entertainment Weekly confirms “Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker will play time traveler for at least one more season”.

… “I’ve seen loads of fan art, which I always love,” she says. “But it’s never been that great for me to immerse myself in noise that you can’t control, good or bad. I think both are a rabbit hole that you shouldn’t necessarily go down. We know that we work really hard for the show to be the best it can be in this moment. Once it’s out in the ether, how people feel, in a way, is kind of irrelevant.”

But Whittaker isn’t going anywhere. The length of time an actor has played the Doctor has varied over the years — back in the ’70s and ’80s, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor piloted the TARDIS for seven seasons; in the aughts, Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor survived just one. So, will Whittaker return for a third run of shows? “Yes, I’m doing another season,” she confirms. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”

(2) GUINAN. Patrick Stewart, while appearing on The View, extended an invitation to host Whoopi Goldberg to appear in Picard’s second season. See 4-minutue video here. Stewart said —

“I’m here with a formal invitation, and it’s for you, Whoopi.  Alex Kurtzman, who is the senior executive producer of Star Trek: Picard, and all his colleagues, of which I am one, want to invite you into the second season.”

The crowd delivered a standing ovation as Goldberg and Stewart hugged, and Goldberg replied, “Yes, yes, yes!” 

(3) THE PEOPLE ALL RIDE IN A WORMHOLE IN THE GROUND. The New York Post tells readers “Here’s where to get ‘Star Trek: Picard’ MetroCards featuring Patrick Stewart”.

“Star Trek: Picard” is beaming to a subway station near you.

For three weeks starting Thursday, when the show premieres on CBS All Access, the series will be promoted on special MetroCards available at six MTA stations in Manhattan.

In the drama, Sir Patrick Stewart, 79, reprises his “Star Trek: The Next Generation” role of Jean-Luc Picard, the retired Starfleet admiral and former captain of the Starship Enterprise who is living out his latter days on his family’s vineyard in France. Fittingly, the subway promotion will showcase two different cards — one featuring Picard on the front and his family’s sweeping vineyard on the back, the other with Picard’s dog, No. 1, on the front and several planets on the flip side.

(4) IS PICARD MESSAGE-HEAVY? The Daily Beast argues “‘Star Trek: Picard,’ With Its Refugee Crisis and Anti-Trump Messaging, May Be the Most Political Show on TV”.

…At the crux of the Picard premiere is a devastating monologue Stewart delivers recounting a catastrophic event that happened years before, triggering a refugee crisis and driving Picard to quit his position in the Starfleet, disgusted by what the organization and the Federation now stood for. 

It might sound in the weeds if you’re not a Trekkie, but the basics of the plot are refreshingly simple. 

A supernova blast threatened the planet Romulus. Despite their antagonistic relationship, the Federation agreed to rescue the Romulan people. But in the midst of the rescue mission, synthetic lifeforms like Data, who helped Picard pilot his ship, went rogue and destroyed the Federation’s base on Mars, killing over 90,000 people. In the wake of the incident, synthetic lifeforms were banned, a decision that appalled Picard and caused him to quit before he carried out his Romulan rescue mission. 

“It has always been part of the content of Star Trek that it will be attempting to create a better future with the certain belief that a better future is possible if the right kind of work and the right kind of people are engaged in that,” Stewart told reporters. “And my feeling was, as I look all around our world today, there has never been a more important moment when entertainment and show business can address some of the issues that are potentially damaging our world today.” 

(5) CLONE WARS TRAILER. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars starts streaming Feb. 21 on DisneyPlus.

One of the most critically-acclaimed entries in the Star Wars saga will be returning for its epic conclusion with twelve all-new episodes on Disney+ beginning Friday, February 21. From Dave Filoni, director and executive producer of “The Mandalorian,” the new Clone Wars episodes will continue the storylines introduced in the original series, exploring the events leading up to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

(6) HAVE SPACEWORTHY 3D PRINTER, WILL TRAVEL. Daniel Dern looks into “NASA’s 3D Printing Space Initiatives” in an article for GrabCAD.

…The SLS [Space Launch System] is intended to be the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space. By manufacturing as many of the engine’s parts as possible (like the fuel injectors, turbo pumps, valves, and main injectors) with 3D printing, NASA can significantly reduce time and money spent.

“NASA is on track to reduce the number of individual parts by an order of magnitude — from hundreds to tens — and reduce the cost of the entire engine by 30% and later by 50%, and the build time by 50%,” John explains.

Dern notes, “This is the 3rd or 4th NASA-related article I’ve gotten to do over the past six months. I had a lot of fun researching and writing this, and hope find more assignments on this stuff over the coming year.”

(7) WHAT IT TAKES. “Oscar-nominated filmmaker Chris Butler’s top animation tips” – BBC video.

Film writer and director Chris Butler, who has been nominated for an Oscar, has said anyone who wants to be an animator needs to be prepared for “hard work”.

His film Missing Link is up against Toy Story 4 in the Animated Feature category, but Butler, from Maghull, Merseyside, has already beaten it – and Frozen II – to a Golden Globe.

He said he was “shell-shocked” when it was announced as the winner earlier this month – so much so that he cannot remember going on stage to collect the award.

Butler said making animated films was “not easy” and warned that budding filmmakers have to “put in long hours” to make it in the industry.

(8) STONE AGE. First Fandom Experience not only remembers when — “In 1939, Lithography Came To Fanzines — But Why?”. Zine scans at the link.

Beginning in 1932, Conrad H. Ruppert reshaped the world of fan publications with the printing press he bought with money saved by working in his father’s bakery. He printed issues of the most prominent fanzines of the period, including The Time Traveller, Science Fiction Digest, and Charles D. Hornig’s The Fantasy Fan. It’s not unreasonable to assert that the professional appearance of Hornig’s leaflet-sized ‘zine contributed to his ascension to the editorship of Wonder Stories at the age of 17….

(9) THOSE DARN FANS. RS Benedict posted a new episode of the Rite Gud podcast — “This is the first of a two-part series about the dark side of fandom. Why does fandom turn toxic? Can over-investment in fandom stunt your social and artistic growth?” The first episode is here: “The Dark Side of Fandom, Part 1: Have You Accepted Spider-Man as Your Lord and Savior?”

Tim Heiderich of Have You Seen This took the time to talk to us about the creative perils of fandom. Fandom can be fun, but it can also turn ugly too, or it can keep us so busy focusing on someone else’s work that we fail to develop our own talents.

This was a huge conversation, so we split it into two parts. In the first installment, we talk about toxic fandom, simulacra, and the siren song of nostalgia.

(10) EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey’s TAFF win attracted local media attention: “From Chester County High School to Stockholm and Birmingham (England)” in the Chester County Independent.

…Lowrey has been attending these conventions since 1975 and loves it. He said he loves how the conventions are filled with interesting, intelligent people. The interaction of science fiction fans overseas is awesome as well he said.
“I got people I consider good friends that I never met before,” he said.
He actually met the woman whom he would spend his life with and marry, C.K. “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe of Bertram, Iowa, at the local Milwaukee science fiction convention in 1981.
Lowrey graduated from Chester County High School in 1971 and earned a magna cum laude degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition to his job with the State of Wisconsin, he’s been working as a writer and editor since 1984.
He is also a bookseller, serves as a local president and state executive board member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and acts as a volunteer administrator for Wikipedia. He has had book reviews published and also Dungeon and Dragon articles published in Dragon magazine.

(11) KARLEN OBIT. John Karlen , the actor who played multiple roles (Willie Loomis, Carl Collins, William H. Loomis, Desmond Collins, Alex Jenkins and Kendrick Young) on the ABC serial Dark Shadows died January 22 at the age of 86.


  • January 23, 1954Killers From Space made it to your local drive-in. It was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of Billy Wilder. It has a cast of Peter Graves, Barbara Bestar and James Seay. We should note that Killers From Space came about as a commissioned screenplay from Wilder’s son Myles Wilder and their regular collaborator William Raynor. How was it received? Not well. There was, in the opinion of critics, way too much too talk, too little action, poor production values… you get the idea. Though they liked Graves. Who doesn’t? Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a decidedly unfavourable rating of just 24%. 
  • January 23, 1974 The Questor Tapes first aired on NBC. Created and written by Roddenberry himself with Gene L Coon as co-writer, it was by Richard Colla. It starred Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell and John Vernon. (Fontana’s novelisation would be dedicated to Coon who died before it aired.) though it was intended to be a pilot fir a series, conflict between Roddenberry and the network doomed the series. It would place fifth in the final Hugo balloting the following year at Aussiecon One with Young Frankenstein being the Hugo winner.
  • January 23, 1985 — The Rankin-Bass version of ThunderCats premiered in syndication. Leonard Starr was the primary writer with the animation contracted to the Japanese studio Pacific Animation Corporation, with Masaki Iizuka as the production manager. It would run for four years and one and thirty episodes. Need we note that a vast media empire of future series, films, comics, t-shirts, statues, action figures and so forth have developed since then?


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered  for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both digitally and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1932 Bart LaRue. He was the voice of The Guardian  of  Forever in the “City on the Edge of Forever” episode of Trek as well as doing voice roles in “Bread and Circuses” (on-screen too) “The Gamesters of Triskelion” as Provider 1 (uncredited) “Patterns of Force” as an Ekosian newscaster (Both voice and on-screen) and “The Savage Curtain” as Yarnek. He did similar work for Time Tunnel, Mission Impossible, Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea, The Andromeda StrainWild Wild West, Land of Giants and Lost in Space. (Died 1990.)
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg’s aged eighty one years, and Tim passed in 2006. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s  A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice.
  • Born January 23, 1942 Brian Coucher, 78. He appeared in three genre series — first  the second actor to portray Travis in Blake’s 7 and also as Borg in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Robots of Death”. Finally genre wise he appeared in a Doctor Who spin-off that I’ve never heard existed, Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans. No Who characters appeared though Sophie Alfred played someone other than Ace here. 
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 77. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really a truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination regarding titles that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 70. Unless you count MacGyver as genre which I can say is open to debate, his main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate Universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. And damn it should’ve caught on. 
  • Born January 23, 1976 Tiffani Thiessen, 44. Better known by far by me at least her role as Elizabeth Burke on the White Collar series which might be genre adjacent, she did end up in three films of genre interest: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th (a parade of the Friday the 13th films) and Cyborg Soldier. They’re average rating at Rotten Tomatoes among reviewers is fifteen percent in case you were wondering how good they were. 
  • Born January 23, 1973 Lanei Chapman, 47. She’s most remembered as Lt. Vanessa Damphousse on Space: Above and Beyond, a series that ended well before it should’ve ended. She made her genre debut on Next Gen as Ensign Sariel Rager, a recurring character who was a conn officer. 
  • Born January 23, 1977 Sonita Henry, 43. Her very first was as President’s Aide on Fifth Element. She was a Kelvin Doctor in the rebooted Star Trek film, and she’s Colonel Meme I the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Time of The Doctor”.  Her latest is playing Raika on Krypton.


(15) AND SPREAD HIM OUT THIN. Adweek says “Rest in Peace, Mr. Peanut—Planters Kills Off Iconic Mascot in Lead-Up to Super Bowl”.  

… In a shocking move, Planters, the Kraft-Heinz-owned snack brand, has killed off its iconic mascot in a teaser for its Big Game spot. Mr. Peanut’s untimely demise began with a Nutmobile crash, followed by falling off a cliff and ending in an explosion.

… And when will the classic mascot be memorialized? During Super Bowl 2020, naturally.

…The loss of Mr. Peanut is a major moment for the brand. Planters first introduced Mr. Peanut to audiences in 1916, meaning that the mascot has been around since the midst of World War I, making him of the longest-standing brand mascots of all time.

The spot, which will air during the third quarter of the Big Game on Feb. 2, was produced by VaynerMedia. Planters also has several promotions and activations to honor Mr. Peanut’s life, including commemorative pins for fans who spot the Nutmobile on the streets and a hashtag, #RIPeanut, for fans to share their sympathies.

(16) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCE. “Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat ‘turned man’s brain to glass'” – BBC has the story.

Extreme heat from the Mount Vesuvius eruption in Italy was so immense it turned one victim’s brain into glass, a study has suggested.

The volcano erupted in 79 AD, killing thousands and destroying Roman settlements near modern-day Naples.

The town of Herculaneum was buried by volcanic matter, entombing some of its residents.

A team of researchers has been studying the remains of one victim, unearthed at the town in the 1960s.

A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said fragments of a glassy, black material were extracted from the victim’s skull.

Researchers behind the study believe the black material is the vitrified remains of the man’s brain.

(17) YOUR PAL IN SPACE. “Meet Vyom – India’s first robot ‘astronaut'” – BBC video.

India’s space agency has unveiled a robot that will travel to space later this year as part of an unmanned mission

Scientists hope that it will be able to later assist astronauts in a manned space mission called Gaganyaan, which is scheduled for December 2021.

Isro will conduct two unmanned missions – one in December this year and another in June 2021 – before the Gaganyaan mission.

The robot, which has been named Vyom Mitra (which translates from the Sanskrit to friend in space) is designed to perform a number of functions including responding to astronaut’s questions and performing life support operations.

(18) DO IT FOR SCIENCE. Public spirited citizens arise! “Wanted – volunteers to monitor Britain’s growing slug population”.

Citizen scientists are being sought to help carry out the first survey in decades of Britain’s slug populations.

To take part, all that’s required is curiosity, a garden, and a willingness to go out after dark to search for the likes of the great grey or yellow slug.

The year-long research project will identify different slug species and the features that tempt them into gardens.

The last study conducted in English gardens in the 1940s found high numbers of just nine species of slug.

Many more have arrived in recent years, including the Spanish slug, which is thought to have come in on salad leaves. Less than half of the UK’s 40 or more slug species are now considered native.

(19) TRANSMUTING GOLD TO LEAD. Iron Man never had days like this. GQ asks “Does Dolittle’s Box Office Flop Spell Trouble for Robert Downey Jr.?”

For over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. played MCU pillar Tony Stark, a billionaire superhero who would almost certainly consider Dolittle’s abysmal opening weekend earnings to be little more than pocket change.

Despite opening on a holiday weekend, RDJ’s Dolittle made just $29.5 million over the four-day period, and only an additional $17 million internationally. Dolittle cost a jaw-dropping $175 million to make, so those box office numbers are kind of catastrophic, with Universal expected to lose $100 million on the movie, according to The Wrap. Universal, it should be noted, also took a bath last month when the furry fever dream that is Cats flopped, but at least Cats only cost $90 million to make, so the loss isn’t quite as terrible.

The only slim hope for Dolittle’s prospects is a higher than expected haul in the international markets where it hasn’t opened yet—including China—but maybe don’t hold your breath.

It took the strain of wielding all six Infinity Stones to kill him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Robert Downey Jr. will probably survive Dolittle’s bomb. Still… yikes.

(20) I SPY, AGAIN. “Twitter demands AI company stops ‘collecting faces'”

Twitter has demanded an AI company stop taking images from its website.

Clearview has already amassed more than three billion photographs from sites including Facebook and Twitter.

They are used by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and more than 600 other law-enforcement agencies around the world to identify suspects.

In a cease-and-desist letter sent on Tuesday, Twitter said its policies had been violated and requested the deletion of any collected data.

…US senator Ron Wyden said on Twitter Clearview’s activities were “extremely troubling”.

“Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial-recognition database,” he said.

“Every day, we witness a growing need for strong federal laws to protect privacy.”

(21) PYTHON PASSPORT. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] A fitting (and unintentional) tribute to Terry Jones. I’d vote for a Brexit for this one if I could.


Sad to say, the Express graphic is fixed now — “Britons will fly to 2020 summer holiday destinations on classic BLUE passport”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Model Citizen” on YouTube, David James Armsby portrays what seems to be the perfect nuclear family–but why is it controlled by evil robots?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/23/20 No-One Expects The Scrollish Pixelation!

  1. Goobergunch says to me: Yeah, I did not mean to indicate any disagreement with the Note.

    I can’t speak For Mike but my part of a Post is a more an art and much less of a science, so I really aren’t concerned that it’s perfect. Add in that my brain trauma has some, errr, interesting quirks to it and not everything will always be what is should be be. My main intent is always an emphasis on entertainment, and that all of you find some interesting to talk about.

  2. Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th was a parody of a number of horror films. (Yes, I saw it.) The title alone contains references to Scream (Shriek), I Know What You Did Last Summer (which may be—mercifully—somewhat forgotten these days, but was a big hit at the time), and, of course, Friday the 13th. The movie itself contained elements from a number of other franchises, including Nightmare on Elm St. and Halloween and probably more I’ve forgotten.

    That said, Thiessen is possibly best known for the TV series Saved by the Bell, which is genre according to some popular fan theories, due to Zack’s amazing abilities to freeze time and manipulate reality. 🙂

  3. Xtifr says That said, Thiessen is possibly best known for the TV series Saved by the Bell, which is genre according to some popular fan theories, due to Zack’s amazing abilities to freeze time and manipulate reality. ?

    None of the standard write-ups referred to anything that made me feel it should be included. I’d included it if I’d known this.

  4. Oh, I wouldn’t call them particularly credible theories, or theories anyone should take seriously. I certainly don’t think anyone actually thinks Saved by the Bell was intended to be genre. Nevertheless, the evidence I’ve seen is surprisingly compelling, if you are willing to place your tongue firmly in your cheek and view things a certain way…. 🙂

  5. I thought of that theory too when I saw the mention of Thiessen. There are also robots in Saved By the Bell as I recall.

  6. Steve Green: As for my alleged “axe”, all i’m after — as a fan of the show since the 1960s — is intelligent, imaginative writing and solid acting. For the record, I thought much of Peter Capaldi’s tenure was a mess, too.

    You’ve chimed in every time — dozens of times, now — that Doctor Who has been mentioned in a File 770 post in the last couple of years, to express just how much you hate it and how it is dying, dying, dead… even though its viewership is high and it’s doing just fine.

    Just get over it, already. Your broken-record schtick just makes you look sad and in dire need of a hobby which involves something you enjoy — assuming that such a thing actually exists, which is deeply doubtful.

  7. Mike Glyer: perhaps they have a plan to keep it going by capitalizing on a current trend– Baby Groot, Baby Yoda, next, Baby Mr. Peanut!

    I am totally here for Baby Peanut. Etsy entrepreneurs, start creating your designs now! 😀

  8. @Xtifr: I remember …Summer solely because of Gellar’s blunt retitling of it in an interview describing what work in hot weather did to the actors’ physiques

  9. @Dann665

    I’m constantly amazed by entertainers that go out of their way to alienate half of their potential audience. There’s a way to engage issues thoughtfully. And there’s preaching to the proverbial choir.

    If CBS is counting on subscriptions, then they (and their talent) might want to think more about the former than the latter.

    I hate to break it to you, but Star Trek always was political and always had a progressive leftwing slant.

    And conservative US viewers can still watch umpteen seasons of pro-military and pro-law-and-order conservative programming like the various NCIS shows, JAG, the various CSI shows, the various Law and Order shows, etc… on CBS All Access. And oddly enough, no one was ever worried about those shows alienating half of the viewership, though some of them certainly alienated me.

  10. Dear Dann,

    Y’know it constantly amazes me (as a content creator) that content consumers imagine our objective is to reduce the number of people we annoy. That’s rather like describing a business’ job as being to minimize expenses.

    No, not even that close (or wrong).

    If the potential audience merely doesn’t dislike me, I will starve to death. I need people who actively like me, enough to spend their money on me as opposed to a thousand other entertainers clamoring for their bucks.

    In other words, our objective is to develop a following. That has absolutely nothing to do with minimizing annoyance. Really, no. If you think it does, well… don’t quit your day job.

    pax / Ctein

  11. Doesn’t all this new STAR TREK material have to be different in some visible way from the original material because of the legal contract between the people making it and the company holding the copyright on the old episodes?

    No idea, but…

    How are they going to make Picard and Guinan etc different so that viewers will notice?

    Well, for one thing, they’re considerably older, and will likely be wearing different clothes, right?

    Data looks different in the clip played on THE VIEW, but I assume the actor has just put on a bit of weight on since he was last in the show.

    If gaining weight is enough, then aging should be, too. Whoopi Goldberg has done both.

  12. I’m constantly amazed by entertainers that go out of their way to alienate half of their potential audience. There’s a way to engage issues thoughtfully. And there’s preaching to the proverbial choir.

    If CBS is counting on subscriptions, then they (and their talent) might want to think more about the former than the latter.

    They dont. The politics of Picard is no different than the one from TNG. If you are offended by the thought of an altruistic society, than you would have not watched TNG and are unlikely to watch Picard anyway. So you are not alienated.
    The “potential audience” are the ones that like Star Trek, not the ones that dont. If there would be sudden switch in character (of the series, of Picard) you alienating the very people that actually watch the show.

  13. Honestly, I’m amazed at the constant whining about the fact that liberal views are allowed to be expressed anywhere in public. Including on a show that’s part of a franchise that started expressing its liberal views when it first went on the air in 1966. Apparently, we are supposed to hide our icky liberal views in dark rooms, and all popular media should cater to the views of the hard right.

    Nope. Not going to happen. Not yet, anyway.

  14. There is a business in my town called The Lord Jesus Plumbing Supply and I’m sure they alienate people just by their name, but they feel strongly enough about it, and find enough other people who want to pay them money, to keep using it.

  15. Cora says And conservative US viewers can still watch umpteen seasons of pro-military and pro-law-and-order conservative programming like the various NCIS shows, JAG, the various CSI shows, the various Law and Order shows, etc… on CBS All Access. And oddly enough, no one was ever worried about those shows alienating half of the viewership, though some of them certainly alienated me.

    Huh. I never actually thought of the CSI and NCIS shows as conservative in nature. Being pro-military and pro-law and order doesn’t necessarily make one a conservative as I’m liberal and I‘m both. That mantra has been used against Democrats in the States for years by Republicans (“Democrats hate the military”) and it simply isn’t true.

    I’m sure that it’s not even correct to put any of the Trek characters including Picard on the traditional conservative to liberal political spectrum. He’s a military officer with the inclination to use deadly force if need be on a scale we can’t even conceive when need be. Humanist, yes. Liberal, maybe.

  16. @Cat Eldridge
    From a German POV, a lot of those shows, particularly the blatant pro-military NCIS shows and the pro-death-penalty propaganda of the original Law and Order (SVU seems to be better and maybe even the original mellowed eventually, but the death penalty stuff was a dealbreaker for me), clearly slant conservative. That doesn’t mean that they’re monolithic, of course. Hawaii Five-O is very pro-military and also has a highly diverse cast. NCIS Los Angeles features several positive Muslim characters and even the original NCIS is a lot more diverse these days than it used to be. Though the anti-Asian racism is still strong in the NCIS shows to the point that if an Asian character shows up, you can pretty much guarantee that they will turn out to be the killer/spy/terrorist. A lot of these shows also have likeable characters and are generally entertaining enough that you could do worse than watch an episode, if you have an hour of time to kill. But the target audience are conservative leaning Americans.

    As for Star Trek, we know that there are people who assumed that the original Star Trek was about cool sliding doors and are now shocked to find that there are icky progressive politics in there. But Star Trek was never particularly subtle about its politics – “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” anyone? But isolationist Trump voters and Brexiteers are not the target audience and never were, no more than misogynist alt-right fanboys were ever the target audience of Star Wars.

  17. Cora, I’m really puzzled. There’s no death penalty aspect of Law & Order as the script that Dick Wolf devised stops with the verdict. In American law, the death penalty phase is seperate from the Jury finding the defendant guilty. So where did get the idea that this series was pro-death penalty?

  18. @Cat: There are a few episodes where the cases go to sentencing, up to and including the death penalty and the threat of execution is frequently used as a ploy to obtain a plea.

  19. Andrew notes There are a few episodes where the cases go to sentencing, up to and including the death penalty and the threat of execution is frequently used as a ploy to obtain a plea.

    Ok, that sounds like an accurate depiction of the criminal justice system, circa thirty years ago in New York City. This is not pro-death penalty, that’s being true to what was happening. A person convicted of a capital crime was automatically sentenced to a life sentence without chance of parole.

  20. @Cat: I should have been more specific. L&O portrays actual executions as occurring, in several episodes – even though that couldn’t have happened in New York State during some of the period the show was on.

  21. Re: Star Trek: I think what a lot of fanboys want is for a show that was “progressive in 66” to still be espousing the exact same politics in 2020, not the same kind of political slant as related to the modern day.

    I also want an example somewhere of a show so universal it doesn’t alienate some members of the public in its quest to attract an enthusiastic audience. I literally cannot think of one. And that includes ones with no (obvious, stated) political leaning, as there are plenty of other ways to annoy or alienate people besides politics. (Political leaning, for example, had nothing to do with why fans of the first few seasons of Game of Thrones often feel the last one or two were not to their taste. The show had political leanings but those political leanings themselves did not change between seasons.)

    Steve Green: As noted, you almost cannot ever let a reference to Doctor Who pass by without talking about how much you think it’s trash today. It is at this point literally the one thing I can remember you posting about. (I have a recollection of you posting on other topics and of noticing and being surprised… but no recollection of what.) If that is the branding you want, do continue. If you would rather we saw you as a well rounded fan, or even as someone who likes something, maybe consider leaving that particular trait further in the background.

  22. @Lenora Rose
    I think they want it to be like what they remember, not even like what it really was. they don’t want reality, but a pleasant dream.

  23. @Cat Eldridge
    Regarding Law and Order, it was a long time ago, but I remember that suspects were threatened with the death penalty all the time, particularly by the Angie Harmon character who also informed the suspects how cheerfully she would watch their executions. Also, there was an episode around the same time, where a nun who’d killed a kid via an exorcism, the one person I’d really would have loved to see behind bars, was acquitted, because apparently religious freedom allows her to kill kids via exorcism. That was the last straw and I never watched that show again. It’s also notable that Law and Order initially didn’t do well in Germany at all, only that there was so much of it that cable channels started using it as late night programming and summertime fillers.

    Also, in the 1980s and early 1990s, US TV crime dramas hardly ever mentioned the death penalty and TV cops didn’t threaten suspects with execution – or if they did, such moments were removed in the German dubbing (they did this a lot at the time, e.g. a lot of the pro-military stuff was edited out of the original Magnum PI). We also never saw the trial and sentencing until Law and Order, so we never learned about the exorbitantly high sentences.

    A protagonist in a crime show threatening a suspect with the death penalty was a very strong dealbreaker for me, when I was younger, as in “No matter how much I enjoyed this show before, I will not watch this stuff again ever.” And you hardly ever saw scenes like that before Law and Order. Afterwards, they started showing up everywhere, e.g. in the various CSI shows, so I eventually had to modify my “no death penalty threats” stance or I wouldn’t have been able to watch anything at all. And yes, I imagine that such things really happen in police interrogations in the US, but it’s not as if TV shows are accurate in other aspects. And with Law and Order and later the various CSIs, it always seemed to me as if the narrative endorsed that sort of thing.

    At any rate, it seems to me as if US TV shows took a turn towards the right in the 1990s (hard to tell when, because I was mostly watching SFF shows in the 1990s and only saw the cop and doctor shows on occasion, because my parents watched them) and got really bad post 2000.

  24. @Cora
    There are a couple of things involved here. One is the assumption that if one or two shows in a particular style are popular, there’s room for several more. The other is that, yes, US entertainment got more conservative, particularly after 9/11. (I was relieved when “24” ended. It made getting to my train station easier – some of those working on that show tended to assume there wasn’t anyone else out at 6am.)

  25. I wish I could say that I am surprised at the assumptions being made about my comment relating to ST:P’s show/script/theme. It was in reference to Sir Patrick Stewart’s somewhat pointed declaration that the show “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”

    Why not just let the show carry the theme and leave it up to the viewer to interpret the message? I’ve only had a single experience where an “artists’s statement” was useful.

    FWIW, many of my conservative/libertarian friends thoroughly enjoy being ST fans. At least one has seen ST:P and found it to be very entertaining. I frequently enjoy the politics even when I find the plot to be carefully contrived to frame an issue in a certain light, or when it is bereft of subtlety a la Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.

    (Also, FWIW, I also find the “own teh libs” crowing on the right to be irritating as well.)

    One of the reasons why I thought Isabel Fall’s story was brilliant was because it invited the reader into the protagonist’s world to see things through their perspective. There was a subtle “you are welcome here” aspect to the story that cannot coexist with an author/actor/director/etc. says “my work is intended to p*ss off you lot”.

    Most (clearly not all) people can live with an episode or two that directly confronts their closely held beliefs. I give excellent ratings to books that have some ideological baggage when the story is otherwise told well.

    @Cora Buhlert

    Also, there was an episode around the same time, where a nun who’d killed a kid via an exorcism, the one person I’d really would have loved to see behind bars, was acquitted, because apparently religious freedom allows her to kill kids via exorcism.

    The L&O franchise isn’t one that spent any time with. Was this the episode? The nun in that episode was found guilty.

    TRC eht edisni deppart ma I !pleH

  26. As a dual US and British citizen, Sir Patrick Stewart feels very strongly about Brexit and Trump. Should he remain silent about his views, just because they might cause some Brexiteers and Trump voters not to watch a show that probably wouldn’t be to their taste anyway? Never mind that Brexiteers are probably way too busy watching Love Island or some such nonsense. And Trump voters are far more likely to be offended by the much more blatantly political legal drama The Good Fight, which is also streaming on CBS All Access.

    Regarding Law and Order, all I remember is that the nun was played by the actress who played the mother in Six Feet Under. Apparently, her name is Frances Conroy.

  27. Everyone…including Sir Patrick…is entitled to their opinion. I am suggesting that if he wants more people to watch his show…perhaps even people that he thinks could benefit more by hearing its message….then maybe taking a more diplomatic approach might be a better choice. That is particularly true when watching the show involves signing up for yet another subscription service.

    And yes…that appears to be the episode as the actress that played the nun also played the mother on Six Feet Under. In the L&O episode, she was found guilty of second-degree murder. The prosecutors make a point of saying that while she may hear God, she may not play God.

    Every socialistic type of government… produces bad art, produces social inertia, produces really unhappy people, and it’s more repressive than any other kind of government. – Frank Zappa

  28. Cat Eldridge:

    “Being pro-military and pro-law and order doesn’t necessarily make one a conservative as I’m liberal and I‘m both.”

    I wouldn’t say it makes you a conservative, but it absolutely makes you a rightwinger to be pro-military or pro-law and order in US. But then again, liberalism has always been seen as a rightwing ideology in Sweden. Of course, both pro-military and pro-law and order lean away from liberalism and towards authoritarianism on the GAL-TAN-scale.

  29. I wouldn’t say it makes you a conservative, but it absolutely makes you a rightwinger to be pro-military or pro-law and order in US.

    Oh, bullshit.

    Hampus, you’re fond of telling us how Sweden works, but your declarations about what is “absolutely” the case is the US are faulty. The idea that only right-wingers are pro-military or pro-law-and-order is something right-wingers like to claim, but it’s not remotely true.

  30. I hear what you say and find it pure bullshit. The military in US is an instrument for invasion, occupation and oppression. It is a part of US exercise of geopolitical power to put pressure on other countries to comply or face regime change. All tied to the military industrial complex, interwoven with capitalist concerns and needs.

    War is a racket. The military is part or that racket. You can’t say you are pro-military and then ignore what the military is used for. Especially in a time where pro-military Democrats voted to increase military spending as a forerunner to new wars in the Middle-East.
    You can’t be positive to US military and call yourself part of the left. You aren’t part of any resistance if you are Pro-military. You are part of the problem.

  31. You can’t be positive to US military and call yourself part of the left.

    There are a lot of people who call themselves part of the left, vote on the left, support leftist causes and more, who don’t give a shit whether you think they can do that or not.

    But I didn’t realize you were making a personal judgment. If what you’re saying is that you, Hampus, consider anyone pro-military in the US to be right-wing, well, it won’t hurt anyone for you to think so.

  32. Right now there is a Democratic lovefest for war mongers among my friends. They retweet Iraq War cheerleader David Frum because he’s against Trump. They retweet genocidal racist Jennifer Rubin because she’s against Trump. The Obama’s are cuddling slaughterer Bush.

    Democrats has seen what they deem to be a weakness among Republicans with the Russia-scandal, trying to exploit it by painting themselves as the Patriots, those who care about Military and the Intelligence Service. They see it as exploiting a weakness. I see it as they moving to the right, adopting the Republican worldview, becoming Republicans.

    A lot of Americans think they are leftists because they oppose Trump. But you can’t be a leftist by only showing solidarity for citizens in your own country while throwing the rest of the world under the bus.

    When a Democrat wins, you will fall quiet. Just as the Anti-War movement died when Obama was elected, even though Obama went forward with a Military Coup in Honduras, with the disastrous attack on Libya, with his Drone assassinations.

    If you only care about solidarity within your own country, while gladly enabling regime change and massbombings of others, then you are hardly a leftist.

  33. I think you’re trafficking in cartoons, Hampus.

    You have a cartoon image you want to apply to anyone who does things you disapprove of, regardless of whether it fits them or not. It’s the same kind of thing as the Puppies declaring people to be SJWs, then larding up the term with nonsense that didn’t actually fit the people they were using the label for.

    I think that’s stupid and counterproductive, because it means you’re not actually communicating, just labeling and then pretending that everything you’ve attached to the label is accurate, regardless of whether it is or not.

    If you only care about solidarity within your own country, while gladly enabling regime change and massbombings of others, then you are hardly a leftist.

    And if you think that applies to everyone who would call themselves pro-military in the US, well, that’s your set of blinders and you’re strapping it on voluntarily. But I do note that you’ve already moved your goalposts from “absolutely a rightwinger” to “hardly a leftist.” So presumably, there’s room for someone to be a centrist and be pro-military, whether they fit your cartoon or not.

    Beyond that, if you think that’s a judgment we would make of anyone who calls themselves pro-military in the US, then I think you’re extremely mistaken. The right wing, over here, isn’t even welcoming of many of the folks you’d declare to be absolutely right-wingers.

    But certainly, feel free to make declarations; it’d probably be useful to specify that it’s how you would label people, and not necessarily how Americans would. Because it’d get you laughed out of the room over here.

  34. Kurt Busiek:

    If you call yourself a pro-military in US, you should care about what the US military is used for. Not a little dream version of nice people doing nice things for others.

    US has military bases in two thirds of the worlds countries. If a country asks US to leave, it is ignored or answered with a regime change coup. US is regularly used to invade other countries, to help train the armies of dictators, sending them armaments and help to strike down protests. This is what US military does.

    Words have meaning. In a US where Democrats helped increase military spending, where military spending is used as a replacement for social services, where people are forced into service because of poverty, forced to fight in illegal wars, saying you are Pro-military means something.

    If you want to take issue with something, do it with people using the expression “Pro-military” as if it was something good that should be normalised.

    And to be clear, I am not using US definitions of what is right and left. Your country is such an extreme that our most rightwing party still wouldn’t be far from Obama.

  35. Yes, words do have meaning, but not necessarily the meaning you want to invest them with. You may want to be Humpty Dumpty, but he didn’t get anywhere.

    You declared to Cat that she is absolutely a right-winger in the US seemingly without even considering whether what she means by “pro-military” and what you mean by it match up; you went on and added a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t know whether she supports or not and declared it to be what everyone pro-military thinks.

    And it’s all pretty absurd, because Cat is in a better position to know whether she’s a right-winger in the US than you are, so telling her from your distant vantage point what wing she’s part of is just nonsensical.

    If you want to take issue with something, do it with people using the expression “Pro-military” as if it was something good that should be normalised.

    Sorry, Hampus, but I’ll take issue with what I choose to take issue with, and not what you tell me to take issue with. I don’t share your definitions, and I don’t buy your cartoony labels.

    I can see that you want to shift the argument to your particular view of the American military, but I’m not going there with you. I’m taking issue with what I took issue with from the start — your absurd statement that anyone who calls themselves pro-military or pro-law and order is absolutely a part of the US right wing.

    And to be clear, I am not using US definitions of what is right and left.

    The right wing, in America, is defined in American terms. If you’re going to tell someone that they are absolutely a right-winger in the US, then you’re saying they’re a member of the US right wing, which is defined by its relationship to the US center.

    So yeah, you’re using American definitions, even if you didn’t intend to. You can’t, say, declare Bernie Sanders to be the center in the US and everyone to his right the right wing, even if he would be a centrist where you are. He’s not a centrist in the US.

    Our left wing may be rather dramatically more to the right than yours, but when you say that someone is absolutely a right-winger in the US, you’re saying they’re on the right by the US yardstick.

    If that’s not what you meant to say — if you meant to say, for instance, that Cat would be considered a right-winger in Sweden for calling herself pro-military — then you misspoke badly.

  36. Let me make myself clearer. What I meant to say was that if you are Pro-American Military, then you are a rightwinger. Regardless of if you live in France, US or Germany. I do not use American definitions for left and right here, regardless of how much you pretend it.

    And as you are totally avoiding talking about what the US military is used for, you have totally lost your right to say if it is rightwing or leftwing to be positive to it.

  37. You don’t get to decide what my rights are, hoss. And declaring that someone can’t comment unless they’re willing to join you as you try to digress from your original point is stupid.

    Plus, you’re misusing the language badly when you try to define “-winger” without a context. Not to mention attempting to retcon your own earlier statement.

  38. No retcon whatsoever. Regarding misuse of language, that might be true. It is my second language and it happens.

  39. @Kurt Busiek

    I know we have our differences. I agree where you are coming from here. Thank you.

    I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

  40. This discussion is an example of one of the many reasons why simplistic “right” and “left” divides are such a thoroughly misleading way of describing the complex, multi-dimensional, non-Euclidean manifold that is human politics. (The simplistic two-dimensional political map distributed by the Libertarians is ever so slightly better, but still appallingly misleading and blatantly propagandistic.)

  41. I think a lot of people in the US are unaware how the uncritical veneration of the military in the US comes across elsewhere. And yes, I know that there are people who would otherwise be considered leftwing by US standards who are still pro-military. Just as there are people in the US who would otherwise be considered leftwing and are pro-nuclear-power, which in Germany would put them on the far right.

    To take this back to TV programs, a lot of international TV viewers do feel alienated by the relentless pro-military stance or pro-law-and-order stance of US TV shows. “Yes, this US film/book/TV show is about the military, but it’s actually good” is a common recommendation I have given or have been given by other German folks.

    I doubt that the producers of the umpteen NCIS shows or the umpteen Law and Order shows or Hawaii Five-O or whatever care, because their programs are produced for the domestic US market. Foreign rights sales are gravy. Which is perfectly fine, except that I have been noticing that German TV productions have started to conform to international and specifically US expectations in recent times, because they hope to sell the rights to Netflix or some other streaming service.

    BTW, it was an American TV show – The A-Team – that persuaded my much younger self that soldiers could actually be good people, because previously my only media exposure to the military had been WWII movies and documentaries.

  42. Speaking as an American leftist, I cringe every time I hear otherwise sensible people’s uncritical trust in the FBI, Robert Mueller, and all that jazz. And I double cringe when I hear use “draft-dodger” toward Trump as though it were an insult. I have friends who went to Canada or to prison rather than obey their draft orders.

    I’m afraid I’m not a very good American.

  43. @John A. Arkensawyer–In Trump’s case, it is an insult. What he did was no principled protest against the war, or a commitment to something else, anything else, that reasonable people could think well of. While some young men were in Vietnam doing what they considered their duty to the country whether it not they approved of the war, and others were in jail or in exile because they were willing to pay that price not to fight in a war they believed to be wrong, what was Trump doing? His daddy paid a doctor to say Donny had bone spurs, so he could carry on his wild sex life.

    If you don’t like draft dodger, how about chickenhawk? He’s happy to send other people’s sons and daughters off to get killed or badly wounded, and then mock them if he doesn’t understand phrases not found in what he probably still calls the Sunday funnies, like “traumatic brain injury.”

    Vietnam was an awful war, that divided the country. Trump insults both those who served, and those who didn’t serve for far more serious reasons than his own frivolous selfishness.

  44. Dear John,

    Here, here!

    I was (legally, still am) a Resistor. You’re old enough to know what that means. But for those who don’t:

    Sent back my selective service card. Got put on trial. Got acquitted due to government incompetence. Got sent another card. Sent it back. Haven’t heard from them since.

    When someone — happily, not often — suggests to me that what I did was morally acceptable, but those “draft dodgers” were cowards, I ever-so-politely tear them a new one. Because, any way you can get out of a system that wants to force you into a kill-or-be-killed situation, to demand you become a murderer, well… that’s a good way. By hook or by crook, by confrontation or by stealth, by whatever means necessary, it is right and it is just and it is moral to get yourself out of that trap.

    I’m not sure Trump ever did one single other smart thing in his life, but managing to stay out of the draft? Oh, bravo, sir.

    Not so by-the-way, I have been called a “traitor.” My response is, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

    pax (been my sign-off for half a century)

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  45. Dear Lis,

    Apropos my previous post, how dare you declare yourself to be the moral judge of whether anyone should allow themselves to be forced into harm’s way, to not escape from that for whatever reason and by whatever means.

    What hubristic effrontery on your part.

    Any way you can avoid the draft, any way, is a good way. I say that as one of those who was at immediate risk.

    And you?

    You think Trump lacks legitimacy for putting people in harm’s way because he was not in harm’s way himself? Well, neither were you, and you lack legitimacy to criticize those who were.


  46. @Ctein–Not because he didn’t put himself in harm’s way. Because he never gave the matter a single second’s serious thought. Because he took it for granted that he shouldn’t have to go, while both judging harshly other people who didn’t go, and gleefully mocking those who did.

    An actual example of Trump making a rare good decision is looking at what alcohol did to his brother Fred, and deciding he wasn’t going to drink alcohol. (Note: I’m not saying no one should drink alcohol. There seems to be a genetic component to alcoholism, though, and having a sibling die of it at a relatively young age is a completely sound basis for a person deciding not to drink.)

    On Vietnam, though, Trump on the one hand wanted to keep screwing around, and on the other hand hasn’t hesitated to call those who served losers, and those (other than himself) who didn’t, cowards. Currently, he’s holding up a war criminal as a sterling example of the American serviceman, and condemning those who reported his crimes, who prosecuted his crimes, and attempted to impose some accountability for his crimes, losers.

    And he says the American servicemen who suffered traumatic brain injuries in the retaliatory bombing after the assassination of Suleimani “have some headaches” and that he doesn’t consider that serious.

    Damn right I’m judging this cowardly, corrupt, entitled, ignorant fool, for his actions in combination with his words, stated reasons, and attendant hypocrisy and corruption.

  47. Dear Lis,

    I don’t know where you were during the Vietnam era, but if you were in college then you know that most of the boys didn’t give the matter serious thought. They took their student deferments and they were grateful they had them, that’s as far as it went.

    Some of them, a minority, did give serious thought to the fact that others less privileged than them were being forced into the meat grinder. That still didn’t stop them from taking the out. They had privileges, they used them to stay out of the death machine, and that was fine and right.

    You do not ever get to judge them otherwise.

    Your criticisms of Trump’s behavior today are 100% spot on, but those behaviors would not be any less reprehensible if he had allowed himself to be drafted or even volunteered to join the military. (If anything, they could well be considered more so.)

    Accordingly, how Trump stayed out of the death machine has no bearing, except for the implicit criticism that he is somehow morally deficient for having done so. That is what I take strenuous objection to. You have no right.

    And furthermore, you have no standing. You were never in the crosshairs. But even if you were, you still wouldn’t have the right.


  48. the uncritical veneration of the military

    otherwise sensible people’s uncritical trust in the FBI

    Someone describing themself as “pro-military” doesn’t have to involve veneration, uncritical or otherwise, just as being pro-law-and-order does not require being in favor of consequence-free murders by police, something that’s unlawful.

    But even if you were, you still wouldn’t have the right.

    Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

    There’s been a spate of people trying to decide what rights other people have here, and it’s condescending bullshit every time.

    Don’t agree with someone? Fine. Want to tell them they don’t have the right to speak their mind? Bullshit.

    Naturally, people have the right to say that, even if it’s bullshit. But it’s still bullshit.

  49. Dear Kurt,

    On the matter of the military, a great deal of the world sees 90% of what the US military is doing as “consequence-free murder.” As such, it is not unreasonable of them to view Americans who don’t have that first and foremost in their analysis of the US military as being not unlike our Dear President declaring that “there are good people on both sides.”

    On the other matter — I will decide whether someone has the right to hold an opinion about something that directly threatened my life. Especially so when it never threatened theirs, thank you very much.

    If you, or anyone else believes you have the right to express such opinions and be immune from being told what you can do with them, well you are living in a fantasy world. The right to speak also includes the right to tell you you’re full of bullshit, as you seem to be especially fond of doing in this thread.

    Back at you.


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