Trek News Dispatch, part 2 of 2

Last week, we started looking at recent Star Trek news, so now we continue….

As for the small screen, we’ve seen a few news updates about season 2 of “Star Trek: Discovery”. For example, we know that Anson Mount will portray the Enterprise’s ‘Capt. Christopher Pike’, who then takes command of Discovery for their next big mission. I wasn’t impressed with him in Marvel’s “Inhumans” mini-series, but my initial impression from the Season 2 trailer is that he’ll do a good job. (Plus, it helps that Mount is a huge fan of TOS, so he has respect for the legacy.) I just hope they don’t write the character as too… jokey. Oh, also, Rebecca Romijn has been cast as ‘Number One’, and I can certainly see her in the role.

Early Spock / Ethan Peck

There has been a bit of controversy over the new ‘Spock’ (whenever he might show up) being “very different” from the character fans are familiar with. As new showrunner Alex Kurtzman explained,

“This is not entirely the Spock who has been formed enough to be the Spock that we know from TOS. There’s a lot of story about who Spock was before he becomes the Spock that is the yin-yang to Kirk. What I’m so excited about is that we have an opportunity to present a version of Spock that’s both totally consistent with the Spock everyone knows but very, very different. And it’s all gonna tie to how we sync up with canon.”

That makes total sense to me. For example, as we saw in “The Cage” / “The Menagerie”, Spock was a bit less… emotionally disciplined at that time.

Kurtzman has also said that we’ll get an explanation for why Spock never mentioned his adopted sister, Michael Burnham, in any previous productions. According to Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Burnham,

“We’re certainly gonna see Spock and we’re gonna be exploring those family dynamics. We’re gonna see a lot between them.”

I am intrigued and so will withhold judgment, but I look forward to seeing how they do this. (Especially since Spock is currently only scheduled to appear in two episodes. Maybe some will be done with flashbacks of younger versions?) I see that they also just cast Gregory Peck’s grandson, Ethan Peck (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), as Spock. He looks like a decent choice physically, but I’ve never seen him in anything and can’t give any opinion on his acting.

Another “Discovery” news item involves those pesky, ever-changing Klingons. As per makeup designer Glenn Hetrick:

“As we move into season 2, it has been a while since we have been with our characters. It has been a while since we have seen our Klingon friends. So, everything keeps evolving. The story has evolved. And I can guarantee you this, you are going to be blown away that they have a completely new look, yet again, going into season two.”

I can hear the collective groan and assorted expletives from some of you, but hang on. We’ve been promised that many questions re canon will be addressed, and this is one of those things. Hetrick continues…

“In season two, you are going to see much different designs. You are going to see different houses you haven’t seen before. One of the most important things to us was that at this point in canon, as we head towards the current version of unification, the houses really each grow up on different planets. It is an Empire, it is not just Qo’noS…. We have seen six of the great houses in close up in season one. As we move forward into the next season, I promise that we will continue exploring and unpacking and unfolding that infinitely interesting story of what the Klingon culture looks like on a wider level.”

This is actually in line with my thoughts. In my review of Season 1, I suggested that one way to resolve the Klingon issue was: “Perhaps the Klingon houses we’ve seen represented are one Klingon race, while the STIII/TNG version make up the other houses. Wipe out the former, and the latter can take over.” Sounds like I was on the right track with that one….

Finally, there is the return of Jean-Luc Picard to the prime(?) Star Trek universe. As you may be aware, Kurtzman and his Secret Hideout production company were awarded a 5-year, multi-million dollar deal with CBS TV Studios back in June. Part of Kurtzman’s focus will be to “oversee the development of new Star Trek series, mini-series and other content, including animation.” Since then (and even before), there have been rumors of spinoffs focusing on Captain/Emperor Georgiou, Captain Lorca, Harry Mudd, Khan Noonien Singh, the Vulcans, Starfleet Academy, et al. Perhaps most intriguing was the possibility of bringing Jean-Luc Picard back — with Patrick Stewart returning to the role, of course.

Early reports were that fans would “see Stewart return to Starfleet as Captain Picard…. The report also refers to the project as a ‘reboot,’ leaving it unclear as to whether this project could be a reboot – more likely a continuation – of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’.” But, that was rather early in the development, and Stewart hadn’t even officially signed on, yet. Earlier this month (Aug. 2018), though, CBS announced (via Stewart at the 2018 Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas) that a Picard-based show starring Patrick Stewart, who will also exec produce along with Kurtzman, is now official.

One idea I’ve heard tossed around would be to have Picard in charge of Starfleet Academy. Not a bad idea for the character, I suppose, but not if we want to see a Picard-centered series. An academy-based series will likely focus on students. (I hope it isn’t too teen-angsty.) I’ve often thought that Picard might return to his archaeological interests and spend his later years on one or more digs. This could have potential for a series, but nothing I’ve read makes me think they’re considering this. (Otoh, who knows?) I think it is most likely that they will bring Picard back as either an Admiral or an Ambassador, both of which take advantage of his strengths in diplomacy and leadership. Of course, they may need to coax him out of retirement first. Given a compelling storyline, I’m definitely up for that.

The only thing that concerns me at this point is the rumors that CBS/Kurtzman want to wipe out the Prime timeline and merge the Kelvin timeline with the DISC timeline. Depending on how/when they would do it, it could allow for an “alternate” version of Picard (among many other things), too, and I don’t think the fans (including myself) want that. (Remember that mention of ‘reboot’ in the early discussion of a Picard series?) I don’t know how much validity there is to this rumor, though, so I’ll set it aside for now.

CBS TV Studios president David Stapf has stated that they want year-round Trek content on CBS All Access. DISC’s second season won’t debut until January 2019, and Picard’s so-far-untitled series is tentatively due in late 2019. So, while we wait for them and the (up to four) additional series being developed, they have something else to tide fans over.

“CBS All Access will fill the gap in late 2018 Star Trek programming with Star Trek: Short Treks, a series of four 15-minute short films spotlighting characters from Star Trek: Discovery [including one about Harry Mudd and directed by Rainn Wilson]. <Star Trek: Short Treks> will debut in the fall and new installments will release monthly leading into the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.”

Cool!

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Assessing the Casting of ABC’s Inhumans

Inhumans Royal Family

Don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard/read all that much about this upcoming series. I mentioned several facts that came out earlier in a post last November. Recently, though, there have been a few cast announcements and a couple of on-set pics from where they are shooting the show in Hawaii.

I’ve liked the Inhumans since I first read about them in “Fantastic Four” comics back in the 1970s. They had an interesting and isolated culture, cool powers & appearances, and an on-again/off-again, quasi-frenemy sort of relationship with our heroes (sort of like Namor has). I especially liked the core group of the Royal Family, which fortunately look to be central to the new show. So, of course, I want to see live-action versions that are faithful adaptations from the source material. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the actors who will be portraying these beloved characters. Here are my 2 cents…

Anson Mount as Black Bolt: I am not familiar with Mount (6′,b.1973). He has appeared in episodes of series I watched (e.g., “Smallville”, “CSI: Miami”, “Lost”, “Dollhouse”), but nothing stands out in my memory about him. He has been a regular in other series, most recently starring in the drama/western “Hell on Wheels”, but I am unfamiliar with them, unfortunately. Physically, though, Mount appears to be a pretty solid choice, both in face and build. Having looked at some photos, he often appears to have an intense and/or weary look, which should work well for the silent, burdened King of the Inhumans.

Serinda Swan as Medusa: The lovely Miss Swan (5’7″,b.1984) is quite a bit shorter than the comics version of Queen Medusa (5’11”). But, I think she has both the beauty (and curves) and physicality to do right by the role. You may remember her as the sorcerous Zatanna on “Smallville”, which I thought was terrific casting! She has also been on “Supernatural”, “Breakout Kings”, “The Tomorrow People”, “Chicago Fire”, “Graceland”. I don’t know that she has ever had to stretch her acting skills much, so I hope she can get a handle on the Queen of the Inhumans. I assume they will need to do her mass of prehensile hair via CGI, so it shouldn’t be a problem coloring it red.

Ken Leung as Karnak: The first time I remember taking note of Leung (5’7″,b.1970) was with his role in “Lost”. Of course, he has also been in such genre fare as Rush Hour, Spy Game, Saw, X-Men: The Last Stand, “Person of Interest”, “Zero Hour”, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, et al. He is the exact height that Marvel’s wiki lists for Karnak, and I think the martial-artist character is supposed to look like an Asian human. (He’s also supposed to have an unusually large cranium. I wonder if they’ll use CGI, prosthetic, or ignore that particular characteristic. Same question re the body tattoos the character acquired in later years.) Leung will need to portray a much more physical, analytical, and self-assured character than he usually does, but he may be able to pull it off.

Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon: I don’t believe I am familiar with Ikwuakor (6’3″,b.1984), though he has had small roles in “Castle”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Extant”, “Colony”, “NCIS: Los Angeles” and appeared in a few movies (e.g. Ink). The comics version of Gorgon is Caucasian-looking but often with dusky complexion; so, if they’re going to make one of the characters black, Gorgon makes the most sense. (Note: “Black Bolt” is a shortening of “Blackagar Boltagon”, plus that character usually wears a black costume.) Ikwuakor isn’t as tall (6’7″) or bulky as Gorgon is usually made to be, but he is fairly tall and muscular. Maybe he’ll bulk up even more for the part? I hope he does a good job, since this could be a breakout role for him.

Mike Moh as Triton: As an Asian with martial arts expertise, Moh (5’9″,b.1983) would have been a good choice for Triton’s younger brother, Karnak. But, maybe his muscular-yet-lithe “swimmer’s body” was what they really wanted for the scaly, aquatic Triton. His genre credits include “Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight”, “Supah Ninjas”, “Castle”, “Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist”, “Street Fighter: Resurrection”, as well as the non-genre “Empire”. Who knows, maybe he’ll really “own” this part. I wonder how long he can hold his breath….

Isabelle Cornish as Crystal: This role calls for an attractive, young blonde woman about 5’6″ or so, and that’s what they found in Cornish (5’8.5″,b.1994). She doesn’t have near the resume of her sister, Abbie, nor has she been in any genre stuff. But, she was in several episodes of a couple of Australian dramas: “Home and Away” and “Puberty Blues”. I’m rooting for Cornish to make her mark with this role. It may seem like a small thing, but I just hope they make her hair the strawberry blonde color that Crystal is known for having. (That said, I realize that red-headed comic characters tend to end up as brunettes on TV. Grr! At least keep her blonde, OK?)

Iwan Rheon as Maximus: Rheon (5’8″,b.1985) is the guy who played the sadistic bastard Ramsay Bolton on “Game of Thrones”. Other than being shorter (5’8″) than the comics version (5’11”) and thus a little shorter than I’d prefer, he is perhaps the most perfect casting for Black Bolt’s scheming younger brother, Maximus the Mad, as I can think of. We already know Rheon can play a great, psychotic villain. Though also a ruthless prince trying to gain power, Maximus is a very different character in a very different situation. I just hope Rheon has the talent to keep them quite separate in both his and the audience’s minds. (Come to think of it, Maximus is quite Loki-like, and Tom Hiddleston might make a good candidate for him, as well.)

Lockjaw stand-in on Inhumans set

‘Lockjaw’ as Lockjaw: From the leaked tweet-pic (seen here, sort of), it looks like the most beloved Inhuman character, the huge, teleporting canine named ‘Lockjaw’, will be handled with CGI. Makes sense to me! I certainly wouldn’t want to be the casting director tasked with finding a real, live dog that size (let alone who can act), ‘cuz they don’t exist.

Well, that’s that. I wish I was more knowledgeable about some of these actors, so I could make better guesses about their suitability talent-wise. But, I guess we’ll see soon enough, come September. Here’s hopin’ that ABC/Disney puts out a quality mini-series that Inhumans fans can enjoy!

Oh, and here’s a CBR article you might like, too!: “Inhumans: 15 Things We Want From The TV Show”