Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Doctor Who Robot

The first episode of the Doctor Who story Robot was broadcast 28 December 1974. Starring Tom Baker, Elizabeth Sladen Nicholas Courtney amd Ian Marter. It starts shortly after the Doctor’sthird regeneration, The Doctor is still rather disorientated so Sarah Jane Smith and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Lieutenant Harry Sullivan of UNIT keep their eyes on him. The Doctor tries to sneak off in his TARDIS, but the Brigadier and Sarah Jane stop him. The Doctor then learns abouat the theft of top secret plans for a disintegrator gun. The Brigadier takes the Doctor to the Ministry of Defence advanced research centre where the plans were stored, and the Doctor notices a strange footprint. So UNIT is dispatched to protect factories where critical parts for the gun are manufactured, but they are outwitted by the culprit.

Elsewhere Sarah Jane investigates the National Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, colloquially known as the “Think Tank” and discovers that director Hilda Winters and her assistant Arnold Jellicoe are developing a robot, Experimental Prototype Robot K1, to be used to perform tasks in hazardous locations in place of humans. Sarah Jane learns that K1 was originally built by Professor J.P. Kettlewell, a former member of the Think Tank who has now turned his sights on alternative energy. Kettlewell asserts that Winters, Jellicoe, nor anyone at the Think Tank have the capacity to program it correctly, and that if they have tampered with the robot it could have disasterous results. Sure enough the Corrupted K1 attempts to kill Kettlewell, however the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and UNIT intervene

Unknown to UNIT, Winters and Jellicoe have programmed K1 to kill Cabinet Minister Joseph Chambers as “an enemy of humanity”, and to use the completed disintegrator gun to steal papers from his personal safe. UNIT discovers this death, and the Brigadier explains the importance of Chambers; the stolen papers were launch codes for the nuclear weapons of the major nations, given voluntarily to British as a neutral entity to only be released in the time of great need. Winters, Jellicoe, and others of the Think Tank are also found to be members of the Scientific Reform Society, who seek to put scientists in charge of the world believing they can make better decisions for humanity than the current governments. Learning of a Reform meeting that night, UNIT prepares to move out, while Sarah Jane, discovers that Kettlewell is also a member. At the meeting, Sarah Jane is stunned to learn that Kettlewell is the mastermind behind an dastardly plot involving K1 which could wipe out humanity, then Sarah Jane finds herself in mortal danger. Then UNIT arrives, however Winters, Jellicoe, Kettlewell, and K1 escape with Sarah Jane as their hostage. Harry, having entered the Think Tank under the guise of medical inspections, sees the group enter a bunker and warns UNIT before he is captured.

Winters Blackmails the world governments into complying with the demands of the Scientific Reform Society and gives them thirty minutes to comply. Then he orders Kettlewell to hack ino the World’s defence networks and launch their Nuclear Missiles if the demands of the Scientific Reform Society are not met. Repentant Kettlewell tries to help, Sarah Jane and Harry to escape but is killed by K1. Meanwhile Winters takes matters into his own hands and with the fate of the world hanging in the balance he instructs K1 to destroy the Doctor and UNIT while he Tries to cause Armageddon.

Posted in books, Fantasy, films & DVD, Humour, Television

The Hogfather

I have recently watched the entertaining two-part Television adaptation of Terry Pratchetts 20th Discworld novel “The Hogfather” Which was nominated for a British Fantasy Award in 1997. It stars Joss Ackland, David Jason, Michelle Dockery and Marc Warren. It begins when The Ghostly Auditors of Discworld decide to eliminate the Hogfather, because he no longer fits into their modern view of the universe. The Hogfather is the Discworld equivelent of Father Christmas, granting children’s wishes on Hogswatchnight (December 32) and bringing them presents. So The Aditors meet with Lord Downey, head of the Assassin’s Guild, and commission the services of an Assassin named Mr Teatime, (pronounced Tee-Ah Tim-aye) to “inhume” the Hogfather and other anthropomorphic personifications such as the tooth Fairy and the Verucca Gnome whom they also deem surplus to requirements.

Elsewhere Death discovers that an unusually large number of people are dying before they should and when the Hogfather mysteriously vanishes. People then stop believing in the Hogfather, however this lack of belief could have a catastrophic effect on Discworld and the very survival of Discworld itself depends upon Death’s intervention, so he decides to take over The Hogfather’s job by donning a red cloak and a beard, in order to make people continue to believe in him. However Death being Death, doesn’t quite get the Subtle nuances of being the Hogfather and this has some rather strange and amusing consequences. Elsewhere Death’s granddaughter Susan Sto Helit Tries to locate the real Hogfather. She visits his Castle of Bones only to find the hung-over Bilious, the “Oh God” of Hangovers, whom she rescues before the castle collapses due to the lack of belief.

Susan then visits the Unseen University, where it is discovered that several small gods and other beings are being created by the Unseen University’s thinking machine, Hex, because there is ‘spare belief’ in the world – due to the absence of the Hogfather – and this is enabling Hex to create new gods. Susan and Bilious then travel to the land of the Tooth Fairy in pursuit of Jonathan Teatime and the Hogfather. Here they discover that he has ‘killed’ the Hogfather by collecting millions of children’s teeth which he is using  to control the children, and is forcing them to stop believing in the Hogfather. So Susan pursues the assassin Mr Teatime and tries to rescue the Hogfather and learns that it is all part of a sinister agreement between Teatime and the Auditors.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television, Uncategorized

Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)

Grace Dell Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, near Chicago, to Samuel Earl Nichols, a factory worker who was elected both town mayor of Robbins and its chief magistrate, and his wife, Lishia (Parks) Nichols Later, the family moved to Chicago.
She studied in Chicago as well as New York and Los Angeles. Her break came in an appearance in Kicks and Co., Oscar Brown’s highly touted, but ill-fated 1961 musical. In a thinly veiled satire of Playboy magazine, she played Hazel Sharpe, a voluptuous campus queen who was being tempted by the devil and Orgy Magazine to become “Orgy Maiden of the Month”. This attracted the attention of Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, who booked her for his Chicago Playboy Club.
While still in Chicago, she performed at the “Blue Angel”, and in New York, Nichols appeared at that city’s Blue Angel as a dancer and singer. She also appeared in the role of Carmen for a Chicago stock company production of Carmen Jones and performed in a New York production of Porgy and Bess.

In 1967, Nichols also was featured on the cover of Ebony magazine. Nichols toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands. she also appeared in The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, For My People, and garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play Blues for Mister Charlie. Prior to being cast as Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek, Nichols was a guest actress on television producer Gene Roddenberry’s first series The Lieutenant (1964) in an episode, “To Set It Right”, which dealt with racial prejudice.

Following her appearance On Star Trek, Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant; her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the show, as she wanted to pursue a Broadway career; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a fund-raiser at the NAACP changed her mind when King personally told her he was her biggest fan and encouraged her to stay on Star Trek because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see blacks appearing as equals. In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols famously kissed white actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has cited Nichols’ role of Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut and Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols’ influence. Goldberg asked for a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation,and the character of Guinan was specially created, while Jemison appeared in an episode of the series.

Sadly Star Trek was cancelled in 1969. Despite this, Star Trek lived on in other ways, and continued to play a part in Nichols’ life. She again provided the voice of Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series; in one episode, “The Lorelei Signal”, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. Nichols has also co-starred in six Star Trek films, the last one being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Following the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA called Women in Motion which recruits minority and female personnel for the space agency. Members of Women in Motion included Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Recruits also included Charles Bolden, the current NASA administrator and veteran of four shuttle missions, Frederick D. Gregory, former deputy administrator and a veteran of three shuttle missions and Lori Garver, former deputy administrator.

Nichols is An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, and has served since the mid-1980s on the board of governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun. In 2015 Nichols flew aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission. She was also a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in 1976, to view the Viking 1 soft landing on Mars. She also attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California together with other cast members from the original Star Trek series.

In 1994, Nichols published her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. Between 1970 and 1979 Nichols appeared in small television and film roles Such as a secretary in Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding! (1967), and a foul-mouthed madam in Truck Turner (1974) opposite Isaac Hayes. Nichols appeared in animated form as one of Al Gore’s Vice Presidential Action Rangers in the “Anthology of Interest I” episode of Futurama, and she provided the voice of her own head in a glass jar in the episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”. She voiced the recurring role of Elisa Maza’s mother Diane Maza in the animated series Gargoyles, and played Thoth-Kopeira in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In 2004, she appeared in animated form in The Simpsons episode “Simple Simpson”. In the 2002 comedy Snow Dogs, Nichols appeared as the mother of the male lead, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. In 2006, she appeared as the title character in the film Lady Magdalene’s, the madam of a legal Nevada brothel in tax default. She also served as executive producer and choreographer, and sang three songs in the film, composing two. Nichols is also an accomplished dancer and singer.

She has twice been nominated for the Chicago theatrical Sarah Siddons Award for Best Actress. The first nomination was for her portrayal of Hazel Sharpe in Kicks and Co.; the second for her performance in The Blacks. Nichols also played a recurring role on the second season of the NBC drama Heroes. Her first appearance was on the episode “Kindred”, aired 2007. She portrayed Nana Dawson, the matriarch of a New Orleans family financially and personally devastated by Hurricane Katrina, who cares for her orphaned grandchildren and her great-nephew, Micah Sanders. In 2008, she starred in the film The Torturer, playing the role of a psychiatrist. In 2009, she joined the cast of The Cabonauts, a sci-fi musical comedy that debuted on the Internet. Playing CJ, the CEO of the Cabonauts Inc, Nichols is also featured singing and dancing. In 2010, she toured the space shuttle simulator and Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center and In 2016, she was introduced as the aging mother of Neil Winters on the long-standing soap opera The Young and the Restless. She received her first Daytime Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series” category for this role March 22, 2017. Nichols has also released two music albums. Down to Earth which is a collection of standards released in 1967, during the original run of Star Trek and Out of This World, released in 1991, which is more rock oriented and is themed around Star Trek and space exploration.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction, Television


American comic book writer editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and Founder of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee was born 28th December 1922 in New York City. As a child Lee was influenced by books and movies, especially Errol Flynn, He was also A voracious reader who enjoyed writing as a teen. During his youth he worked such part-time jobs as writing obituaries for a news service and press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center; delivering sandwiches for the Jack May pharmacy to offices in Rockefeller Center; working as an office boy for a trouser manufacturer; ushering at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway; and selling subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune newspaper. He graduated high school early, at age 16½ in 1939, and joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project.Lee became an assistant at the new Timely Comics, which evolved into Marvel Comics. He made his comic-book debut with the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in Captain America Comics #3, Which introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield-toss. He graduated from writing filler to actual comics & two issues later. Lee co-created his first superhero the Destroyer.

Other characters he created include Jack Frost and Father Time. He showed a knack for business that led him to remain as the comic-book division’s editor-in-chief, as well as art director for much of that time, until 1972, when he became publisher. During In the mid-1950s, Lee wrote stories in a variety of genres including romance, Westerns, humor, science fiction, medieval adventure, horror and suspense.In the 1950s Lee was assigned to create a new superhero team in response to DC Comics Justice League of America. Lee responded by giving his superheroes a flawed humanity, a change from the ideal archetypes that were typically written for preteens and introduced complex, naturalistic characters who could have bad tempers, melancholy fits, vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or even were sometimes physically ill. The first superhero group Lee and artist Jack Kirby created was the Fantastic Four.He also collaborated with several artists, most notably Steve Ditko, and co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and many other fictional characters introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox,” and wrote endless promotional copy, often signing off with his trademark phrase “Excelsior!”

Lee also supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with issues of discrimination, intolerance, prejudice, racism and bigotry. Lee became the figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics & made appearances at comic book conventions around America. He has also been an executive producer for, and has made cameo appearances in various Marvel film adaptations. In the 2000s, Lee did his first work for DC Comics, launching the Just Imagine… series, in which Lee reimagined the DC superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash.In 2006, Marvel published a series of one-shot comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with many of his co-creations, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom. In 2008, Lee wrote humorous captions for the political fumetti book Stan Lee Presents Election Daze: What Are They Really Saying?. Lee also collaborated with Hiroyuki Takei on the manga Karakuridôji Ultimo. In 2009, he collaborated with the Japanese company Bones to produced its first manga feature, Heroman, and In 2010 The Stan Lee Foundation was founded which focused on literacy, education and the arts. In August 2011, Lee announced his support for the Eagle Initiative, a program to find new talent in the comic book field. He was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.