Star Wars: Loading the Canon

By Tom Holste

Mar. 13, 2019

There is a great disturbance in the Force.


HEIR TO THE EMPIRE is legitimately great, but Disney now says it never happened.

An increasingly large (or maybe just increasingly vocal) number of Star Wars fans insist that nothing has been right in the franchise since Disney abolished the old Expanded Universe in 2014. For those not in the know, the Expanded Universe (EU for short) refers to all the non-film material that was created for the saga: the novels, comic books, video games and so forth.

And to a degree, I get it. I haven’t been very excited with a lot of the new books and comics, the few which I’ve bothered to read. If you don’t like the new stories, that’s perfectly O.K. But there’s a false narrative gaining traction in fandom, and I think it’s time to set the record straight.

This false narrative claims that there was only ever one canon from 1976 to 2014. (“Canon,” originally a term for scripture, is now often used to refer to any event that officially happened within a fictional universe. With Star Wars, the movies are clearly canon; C-3P0 and R2-D2 visiting Sesame Street, while entertaining, clearly isn’t canon. But novels, comics and video games tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.)

EU defenders further say that the continuity was always internally consistent, that George Lucas was aware of and involved with every aspect of it, and that Disney cruelly flushed it all down the toilet despite Lucas’ objections just so they could cynically sell more books.

There are so many problems with this argument, I barely know where to begin, but let’s start anyway. (Spoilers ahead!)

None of it was ever canon. Otherwise, why call it the Expanded Universe in the first place? Admittedly, pre-Disney Lucasfilm is responsible for part of the confusion here, since they eventually adopted a tiered level of canonicity. “G-canon” was the primary source, anything created by George Lucas himself; “C-canon” referred to the recent comics and novels; and “S-canon” referred to secondary material like the old Marvel comics. EU fans point to the use of the word “canon” to prove their point, but the fact that “G-canon” trumped them all and could contradict them at any time meant that the others weren’t really canon, just as internally consistent as possible.


“What do you mean, Jedi don’t get married? I was married. . . in the comics!”

The movies frequently contradicted the other sources. At one time, the novels said that Luke’s “Uncle” Owen was actually Ben Kenobi’s brother in hiding, until the prequels came along and showed Owen to be Luke’s uncle after all. Boba Fett was a member of the Mandalorian Army, until Lucas decided that he was actually just a clone of his “dad” Jango Fett. Many of the early novels about the Clone Wars got contradicted by the later TV series that Lucas was more involved with. These examples, among others, indicated that the spinoff media was never that important to Lucas, and that the movies (and the later TV shows) were always top priority.

There was already an earlier break in the timeline. As noted in the earlier mention of “S-canon,” the Marvel comics from 1977-86 were contradicted once the new series of novels and comics started in 1991. (In fact, the term “Expanded Universe” was never used prior to that date.) Other media, such as the Ewoks and Droids cartoons of the ‘80s, were quickly ignored. Lucas himself struck certain characters and storylines from official continuity long before 2014, including a talking rabbit named Jaxxon (seen in the header image) and the infamous Holiday Special. Only one character created for spin-off media before 1991 ever made it into the later EU.

Lucas was never that involved. EU fans point to Lucas’ hatred of the character Mara Jade as evidence that he was keenly aware of the spin-off media. But if that was the case, why did he let her keep appearing, and even get married to Luke Skywalker? When she was finally killed off, why was Lucas surprised to learn that?


Lucas didn’t care for fan-favorite character Mara Jade…with what little time he spent thinking about her.

In 2005, when Starlog magazine asked George Lucas how he kept everything straight with all the novels and comics, he replied, “I don’t read that stuff. I haven’t read any of the novels. I don’t know anything about that world. That’s a different world than my world” (emphasis added).

How fans continue to insist that Lucas was deeply involved in the EU after reading that quote is mind-boggling to me.

Disney did not break into Lucas’ house and steal Star Wars from him. He sold the company himself. He approached Disney CEO Bob Iger about the sale, not the other way around. And I doubt he cries himself to sleep on the bags of 4 billion dollars that Disney paid him. (Yes, I imagine Lucas keeps the money in physical form and plays with it Scrooge McDuck-style.) Lucas could have stipulated in the contract that he didn’t want the EU to be written out of existence, but he didn’t.

There were a lot of bad stories in the old EU. Fan reaction to the Jedi Prince series of young-reader books was so negative that the books were eventually contradicted by later novels. And while fans say that Luke in The Last Jedi was written too dark and out-of-character, there was an EU story where Luke Skywalker fell to the Dark Side under a clone of the Emperor, and Leia had to rescue him.  (I actually liked that one, to be fair, but it doesn’t fit into the fans’ current “Luke would never do anything wrong!” narrative.) Fans also complained that the stories had gotten stale and predictable. It’s only been after the Disney reset that suddenly fans behaved as though every prior story was a flawless work of art.

Getting rid of the old EU didn’t help Disney sell more books. They could have easily kept telling stories at different points in the timeline without eliminating anything. They also make a profit off of sales of EU books. The old timeline was eliminated so that filmmakers could have a free hand when making the new trilogy, and to create an easier point of entry for new fans. Thanks to Disney, there is now one consistent canon across all Star Wars media.


Okay, THIS moment isn’t canon. But it is adorable!

Again, if you don’t like the new stories, that’s perfectly valid. But I don’t think revisionist history is the way to make one’s point.

To be fair, I also think that Disney went too far in eliminating everything. There were a lot of stories they could have kept (maybe I’ll write another article about that). But at the end of the day, the important thing is whether or not the stories entertained you. If they did, then it doesn’t matter who says it’s canon or it’s not. But if they didn’t, then keeping them just so fans could say they “really happened” is pointless, because none of Star Wars “really happened.”

Disney has, however, made the first step towards reaching out to disenfranchised fans, with the announcement that there will be a new comic book story set in the timeline of Marvel’s Star Wars from 1977 to 1986. If this trend continues, maybe the fans will calm down, and there can be peace and justice in the Republic…er, the fandom…once again.


Disney/Fox Sale: Quick Update

The deadline fluctuates for when the Disney/Fox merger deal will be completed. On Jan. 1, employees got a company letter with both the Disney and Fox logos on it. Then, for a while, complications looked to push the merger back to June.

Now, Variety reports that Disney has settled its legal issues with Brazil, one of the few remaining holdout territories, by agreeing to sell its stake in Fox Sports there. Assuming everything goes according to plan this time, the deal may be finalized as soon as the first week of March.

In such a case, the June release of Dark Pheonix would be the first Fox movie under Disney ownership.

(Photo source: Entertainment


Netflix Opens the Door to Narnia

By Tom Holste

Oct. 10, 2018


(Image source above:

Last week, Netflix and the C.S. Lewis Estate made a surprising announcement: The late author’s Chronicles of Narnia book series is getting a fresh set of adaptations to be released on the streaming service.

In a sense, the news wasn’t that unexpected: Despite the good box office and positive reviews for the initial theatrical adaptation, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), the following films struggled to maintain an audience. The lukewarm reception for Prince Caspian caused Disney to end its development deal with the Lewis estate. The most recent entry, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (from Fox), sunk eight years ago already. So the notion of a reboot wasn’t out of the question.

In another sense, though, the announcement was surprising because the company had been working on the next theatrical film, The Silver Chair, for some time. Joe Johnston was brought on as the director in the spring of 2017. (Johnston’s previous work includes such family-friendly adventures as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Captain America: The First Avenger.) Johnston had been sidetracked when Disney asked him to complete the upcoming Nutcracker and the Four Realms after the previous director was fired, but it was reasonable to imagine that Johnston would refocus his efforts on Silver Chair once Nutcracker was finished. With the new announcement, however, it seems likely that Silver Chair has been shelved. When it’s adapted for Netflix, the producers will likely start from scratch.


Aslan tells Lucy not to despair as she waits ages to see the SILVER CHAIR movie.

This is a smart move for the Lewis estate; while I’m sad that I won’t get to see Johnston’s vision for Narnia come to life, the movie series had been flailing for some time. And Netflix is a service with a lot of quality original programming, including Stranger Things and Marvel’s Daredevil. A lot of people who wouldn’t pay to see another Narnia movie in the theater might give the new versions a chance since Netflix is taking a shot at it.

This is also a smart move for Netflix. Despite sitting near the top of the entertainment industry — it’s now more popular than broadcast, cable, Hulu or YouTube — the service has gotten into trouble in the past few months for certain shows and movies with objectionable content targeted to younger viewers, leading to online protests and service cancellations. Bringing a family-friendly series like Narnia to the service could stem the tide.


If “Eleven” from STRANGER THINGS goes into the wardrobe and starts throwing centaurs around with her mind, though, that might be a step too far. (Image source:

On that same note, some within the Narnia fan base are concerned that the streaming service may want to inject unsavory content into the scripts for this franchise. While anything is possible, it’s worth noting that C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, is still actively involved in the production. Gresham has fought hard in the past to make sure that previous adaptations retain the tone and themes of the original stories, and even outright prevented certain productions from moving forward. I’m hopeful that he can continue to make his voice known.


Douglas Gresham holds the keys to Narnia. (Source:

One of the more puzzling statements in the press release is the assertion that the streaming service plans to develop movies and series around the world of Narnia. There are only seven relatively short, tightly-written books; how can those be turned into the sprawling “universe” described in the press release? It’s possible that some of the books with a more episodic nature (such as Dawn Treader) might be turned into miniseries while other entries might remain as films. One certainly hopes that Netflix doesn’t develop a bunch of pointless filler material, or that any additional content they create keeps in line with Lewis’ writing.

As for what order they should go in, I’m a firm believer that the best reading order is published order, since it maintains the surprises of the series when you get to the prequels. However, a small part of me hopes that The Magician’s Nephew (the first story chronologically) gets adapted first, as it’s one of the best books in the series, and it’s never gotten a single filmed adaptation. People already know Lion very well from multiple adaptations; not enough people have experienced Magician’s Nephew.


Of course there can’t be a fandom without some confusion about the timeline. (Image source: Glumpuddle, YouTube)

Nonetheless, after years of production delays, Narnia is moving forward again with one of the most exciting content producers out there. Here’s hoping for the best!


SOLO: What Happened?

By Tom Holste

Sep. 26, 2018

The Internet has been buzzing about the unexpected low box office of Solo, the latest Star Wars film from Disney that shows us an adventure in the life of a young Han Solo (which came to video this past Tuesday). All of the previous Star Wars films from the House of Mouse have wound up as the highest-grossing film of the year, with The Force Awakens making over $900 million, while Solo has only made around $200 million at the time of this writing. So what went wrong? Here are my thoughts on that:

Disney Competed Against Itself. Let’s say you could only see one movie this past summer. One film is Avengers: Infinity War, featuring more superheroes than ever before in one movie, widely touted as the beginning of the end for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. The other is a Star Wars spinoff that fills in a little bit of backstory and doesn’t affect the ongoing saga. Which would you choose? Even though Infinity War was released four weeks earlier, I think Disney underestimated how much thunder it would steal from other movies, including their own.

May Day! Solo released in May, as the original six movies did. That sounds logical, but it backfired. Reportedly, Disney didn’t want Solo to compete against the upcoming sequel Mary Poppins Returns, but Star Wars and Mary Poppins don’t have as similar of an audience as Star Wars and Avengers do. And there’s another problem with the May date…

Too Soon. It used to be that a new Star Wars movie was an event. In the first 38 years of its existence, Star Wars trilogy movies came out 3 years apart, and then there was a gap of 10-15 years between trilogies. But Disney is trying to adopt the Marvel strategy of having multiple films come out within a short release window, meaning that we’ve now had four Star Wars films in 2 ½ years. Star Wars isn’t like Marvel; it feels less special when it comes out too often.


“Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.” “Kid, how do you think Han Solo feels right now?”

That’s Not My Han Solo! Alden Ehrenreich may be a good actor, but he doesn’t look or sound very much like Han Solo, a factor that more than one person mentioned to me in explaining their reluctance to see the film. Another iconic Harrison Ford role, Indiana Jones, was recast on more than one occasion, but each time it was for actors playing kids or teenage versions of the character. This Han seems close enough in age to the Han Solo we met in 1977’s Star Wars that the differences are distracting. Surprisingly, there was more praise for the CGI Peter Cushing in Rogue One than there was for a simple recast.


Darth Vader beams aboard the Enterprise, demanding to know why Chris Pine had such an easier time with all of this.

That’s Not My Lando Calrissian! Just before the film’s premiere, co-screenwriter Jon Kasdan said that he saw Lando Calrissian (who appears in the film) as pansexual. While reportedly the film’s references to this subject matter are very vague, some fans were offended at Kasdan’s interpretation of the classic trilogy character. Speaking of being offended…

Last Jedi Fallout. Many fans who were incensed about The Last Jedi for one reason or another have lost faith with Disney’s handling of the brand. Actually, I thought that fans’ frustration with the sequels would bring them out in droves for a film highlighting an Original Trilogy character, but instead their overall frustration kept them away.

Revolving Door for Directors. Lucasfilm has had much-publicized difficulty keeping directors on their Star Wars projects, and this film was no exception when they fired Phil Miller and Christopher Lord (the duo behind the popular and acclaimed Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street films), and brought in Ron Howard (a dependable but perhaps too safe choice) as their replacement. This point wouldn’t affect people who don’t follow movie industry news, but those in the know lost interest when Disney canned this creative team.


Personally, I just hoped that the scene where Batman met Han Solo would become canon.

The Reviews are Resoundingly…Okay. Despite all of the above issues, great reviews could have propelled the movie past audiences’ hesitation. (For example, Ready Player One overcame early negative buzz to become a huge hit.) Unfortunately, the reviews for Solo have been lukewarm. While few critics outright hate the film, most of the reviews only say, “It’s not as bad as you might think.” The middling reaction to the film has not helped.

But one should keep this in mind…

Adjusted Expectations. When attempting to copy the Marvel mold, Disney seemed to forget that not every movie in the franchise makes Avengers-level money. Some make only Thor: The Dark World level of money. And in fact, Solo made $213 million, a little more than Thor: The Dark World (at $206 million). In comparison to that, the box office returns suddenly don’t look so bad. And the film may do better on home video. But Disney needs to have more realistic expectations for its spinoffs.

At any rate, Disney CEO Bob Iger says that they’re slowing down development of Star Wars movies, and that’s an encouraging trend. If Disney takes the proper steps, the franchise may have a bright future after all.


DOCTOR WHO: 13 Essential Episodes

By Tom Holste

Sep. 19, 2018

Yesterday I gave you a quick overview of what Doctor Who is all about. Today, in honor of the 13th Doctor, I’m picking 13 stories that will give you a good overview of the series.

To be clear, I’m not recommending that you skip all the episodes other than the ones I’m going to name. As it is, the Doctor Who purists would probably be livid with me that I’m not insisting that you start from the beginning. But I’m just trying to give you a quick sampling to see if you want to start watching the show with the new season. If you like what you see, I highly recommend you go back and watch the earlier episodes for greater context, and just because a lot of them are really terrific.


A rogue’s gallery of DOCTOR WHO villains. The Doctor’s oldest foes, the Daleks, are the ones in the middle.

The modern episodes are available on Amazon; the classic episodes are available on the Britbox streaming service. (Alternatively, many libraries have episodes available for rental.)

Note: With the relaunch in 2005, the numbering of the seasons got reset to keep things simple for new viewers. So episodes from 2005 are referred to as “Season 1.” That system worked for me until I could grasp the bigger picture, so I’m also going to use modern Who numbering unless otherwise indicated.

  1. “Father’s Day” (Season 1, Episode 8) – Here’s a sweet time travel story where new companion Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper) asks the Doctor (played here by Christopher Eccleston) for a chance to see the father she never knew, only to learn the consequences of messing with history. 


    The Doctor and Rose Tyler outside their ship, the TARDIS, which disguises itself as a police telephone booth.

  2. “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” (Season 1, Episodes 9 and 10) — The Doctor and Rose find themselves in World War II London, trying to fend off a mysterious child with bizarre powers. In addition to being a fan-favorite storyline, this two-parter introduces Captain Jack Harkness, a rogue time traveler with omnivorous sexual tastes. If you’re not sure how appropriate the family level of viewing is for this series, this storyline will be an effective barometer for what’s to come.
  3. “Bad Wolf”/”The Parting of the Ways” (Season 1, Episodes 12 and 13) — In the exciting season finale, the Doctor, Rose and Jack travel to the future where they must fight the Daleks, the Doctor’s oldest foe (introduced in 1963, the first year of the show). This storyline also gives essential information on the Time War, an event that shaped the Doctor as we know him today.
  4. “Genesis of the Daleks” (Classic Series) — Let’s jump back a bit to the 1970s, and DW-Genesis-of-Dalekswatch a storyline featuring Tom Baker, the most popular actor from that era to play the Doctor. In this story, representatives of the Doctor’s home planet send him back in time to Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks, with a mission: Destroy the Daleks before they ever come to be. In addition to giving you a feeling for the classic show, this is one of the series’ most acclaimed storylines. (Instead of hour-long episodes, the classic series aired stories in half-hour multi-part serials. If the pacing is too off for you, you might want to try the recent director’s cut.)
  5. “School Reunion” (Season 2, Episode 3) – The first episode that I’ve selected with the

    Rose and the Doctor, played here by David Tennant. This is arguably the most famous duo of the new series.

    next Doctor, played by David Tennant, is set on Earth in modern times. While investigating an alien invasion at a school, the Doctor runs into a familiar face from his past: Sarah Jane Smith, a former companion who you just met in “Genesis of the Daleks” (and part of the reason why I recommended that story). In addition to being a fun story, this episode shows that the writers really do care about the history of the series, and Tennant’s enthusiastic performance does a lot to sell the importance of this reunion.

  6. “The Girl in the Fireplace” (Season 2, Episode 4) — A time-twisting tale that takes place in both the past and the future, as the Doctor attempts to unravel the mystery of why robots from an abandoned spaceship in the 51st century are stalking Madame de Pompadour in Paris in the 1700s. This episode highlights how clever and ambitious the new series could be (and also how heartbreaking).
  7. “42” (Season 3, Episode 7) — The Doctor and his new companion Martha Jones are stuck on a spaceship in the future that’s getting pulled into the sun, and they have exactly 42 minutes (the length of the episode) to figure out how to stop that from happening. While not usually cited as a fan favorite episode, this story plays with the show’s format in an innovative way. This tale is from Chris Chibnall, the head writer of the new season, and gives you an idea of what you might expect from him.


    The Doctor with his next companion Martha. The frequent cast shakeups keep the show fresh.

  8. “Blink” (Season 3, Episode 10) — Another unusually formatted episode seen entirely through the perspective of Sally Sparrow, a young woman investigating the disappearance of her friends at the hands of aliens who disguise themselves as statues known as Weeping Angels. Even though the Doctor is barely in the story, this is considered one of the finest Doctor Who scripts ever written. For that, you can thank Steven Moffat, who also wrote the “Empty Child” two-parter and “The Girl in the Fireplace.”
  9. “The Fires of Pompeii” (Season 4, Episode 2) — Although touched on in a few episodes you’ve already seen, rarely have the ethics of time travel been so well debated by characters as they are in this episode, when the Doctor and his new companion Donna Noble land in Pompeii just a day before a volcano will erupt and destroy the city. The Doctor insists that history must stay on track, so they can’t interfere or save anyone; Donna insists that it’s inhumane to leave these people with the knowledge that the time travelers have. It’s exciting, suspenseful, and touching, and both characters make the case for their respective points more eloquently than I’ve heard before or since in any piece of time travel fiction.


    The Doctor and Donna

  10. “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead” (Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9) — The Doctor and Donna land in a planet-wide library that’s become mysteriously deserted, and when a crew lands to investigate, the Doctor must save them all from the threat that lurks in the shadows. This brilliant, chilling story introduces River Song, another time traveler with an unexpected connection to the Doctor.
  11. “Vincent and the Doctor” (Season 5, Episode 10) — Now we’re shifting over to another new actor to play the Doctor (Matt Smith) and another new companion (Amy Pond). When the Doctor discovers an alien presence unintentionally lurking in a painting by Vincent van Gogh, he and Amy go back to try to stop the alien with Van Gogh’s help. Smith’s brilliant comedic performance is on full display in this episode, while at the same time the show deals sensitively with the issues of depression and suicide that plagued the famous painter. (This is a good stand-alone episode, but it’s even more moving if you watch it again in the context of the full season.)


    The Doctor (now played by Matt Smith, center) and Amy (played by Karen Gillan) meet Vincent van Gogh.

  12. “The Doctor’s Wife” (Season 6, Episode 4) — Even though we haven’t spent much time in this list on episodes involving the Time War, that event and the tragic choices the Doctor made there inform much of the new series. In this fascinating tale, the Doctor responds to a distress call that may lead him to some surviving members of his race, but he isn’t prepared for what he and Amy and her husband Rory (long story) find there. This is one of the episodes that dives into something frequently hinted at but rarely so directly addressed in the series: The TARDIS knows where to take the Doctor and his companions because it’s actually sentient.


    Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, explaining the complexities of time travel to Clara (Jenna Coleman).

  13. “Flatline” (Season 8, Episode 9) — Skipping ahead a bit, here’s an adventure with the Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi, with a companion named Clara Oswald. In a fun and unusual story, the Doctor gets stuck in the TARDIS when the exterior shrinks, so Clara must find a way to get it back to regular size while fending off an invasion by an unusual group of aliens that can inhabit two-dimensional wall paintings.


So that does it for my list. I can hear outraged Doctor Who fans now: “Where’s ‘Army of Ghosts’/’Doomsday’? Where’s any story featuring his great nemesis, the Master? Where’s the 3-part ‘Journey’s End’ Season 4 finale? Where’s the 50th anniversary special, ‘Day of the Doctor’? Where’s…” (Fill in the blank here.)

To that, I can only again say: This is not a definitive list of the only Doctor Who that new viewers ever need to see. This list is the equivalent of a taste test at Baskin-Robbins to whet their appetites. Also, many of the episodes listed above only have their greatest emotional impact after you’ve been on a much longer journey with these characters. They work best in their original context, in the proper episode order.

If this blog post is successful, perhaps I’ll do a list of another 13 great stories, mixing in some more classic tales as well. But hopefully this list will get any new viewers out there interested in the upcoming season, where Jodie Whittaker takes over the role.

So, fellow Whovians: Which 13 episodes would you pick?

DOCTOR WHO: A Beginner’s Guide

By Tom Holste

Sep. 18, 2018

With the announcement that the upcoming season of Doctor Who will premiere Sunday, Oct. 7, I thought I would take the time to help anyone who’s been curious about the fandom but never dipped their toes in until now. 

The good news is that, if you’ve never watched Doctor Who before now, the new head writer (Chris Chibnall) is starting with a clean slate. It sounds like he wants this to be a good jumping-on point for new viewers, so he’s not going to lean too heavily on old continuity.

That makes my job a little easier, since I don’t have to guess what storylines or characters from the past are important for this season. So I’ll just give you a broad overview of what the series is like. 


Doctor Who is a British TV show about a human-looking alien who travels through both space and time, helping those in need. The character is known simply as “the Doctor”; part of the mystery of the character is that we’ve never learned his real name. (His last name is not “Who”; the title of the show is a question: “Doctor who?”) The Doctor usually travels with a human companion or two that he happens to run into on his adventures.

The Doctor’s mode of transportation is a spaceship called the TARDIS. The TARDIS is supposed to be able to change itself to fit into any environment: If it landed in ancient Egypt, it could disguise itself as a pyramid; if it landed on the moon, it could disguise itself as a moon rock. However, in the very first story, the TARDIS accidentally got stuck in its then-current disguise (a 1960s British police telephone booth), so now (humorously) that’s what it looks like wherever it goes. Since the outer shell is only an illusion, the ship is actually much bigger than just a phone box inside.


For those of you wondering, this happened long before BILL & TED.

The show has stayed on the air for years in part because of the extreme flexibility of its format (the characters can go anywhere in all of time and space), and because the cast constantly changes up to keep things fresh. In fact, even the Doctor himself can change his appearance. Think of all the actors who have played James Bond or Batman, except in this case there’s a sci-fi explanation for why the character looks so different (since he’s an alien, one of the things he can do is recover from a mortal wound by getting a whole new body). Twelve actors have played the Doctor on a regular basis; the latest actor, Jodie Whittaker, is the first woman to take on the role.


Much to the consternation of anyone trying to summarize the series, the lead character can look like any of these folks. (Source: BBC / YouTube)

A couple of caveats:

–The show was off the air for many years before successfully re-launching in 2005. The first episode of that new season, titled “Rose,” is probably still the best place for new viewers to begin, as it lays out everything you need to know. Each new important element of the series is laid out only at the time when you actually need to understand it. (That’s what most people mean when they say “start at the beginning,” although ironically that’s still skipping 26 years of stories before that!) Also, the modern pacing, the acting, the film quality, etc., are all what you expect from modern TV and film. After you’ve caught up with the new series, it’s always fun to go back and watch some of the classic material.

–The series has great kid appeal, and families have been known to watch the show together. However, sometimes the monsters can be quite scary for kids (or sometimes for adults), and the modern writers working on the show have made it a typical prime-time show, which means that sometimes there’s sexual dialogue or storylines. The show veers between a TV-PG and a TV-14. Either watch the episodes before showing them to your kids, or be prepared to answer tricky questions afterwards.

In the meantime, watch this fun trailer made by a fan:


Disney-Fox: The Deal Looms

(Above image source: Dark Mamba, DeviantArt)

Article by Tom Holste

Aug. 13, 2018

I’ve reported a couple of times about Disney’s ongoing attempts to buy 20th Century Fox (here and here). There have been a lot of new developments since then.

Some of this is old news, but has not yet been reported on my blog. So just to quickly make sure everyone is up to speed:

Comcast (which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, and is a top rival to Disney) and Sony both put in a competing bid for Fox. They both dropped out, but then Universal showed renewed interest and ultimately put in a $65 billion dollar bid for Fox. But Disney upped its bid to $71 billion, and Fox accepted that. Comcast could have bid even higher, but instead have now bowed out of the running. And the antitrust issues that seemed to be crucial went away rather quickly. (Surprisingly, the government seemed more concerned about Comcast’s acquisition of Fox than Disney’s.)


Now that brings us to two weeks ago…

One of the last remaining hurdles to clear was that the board of directors at each company had to accept the deal. But now, both companies have accepted the merger, in meetings that had so few objections that they lasted less than 15 minutes apiece.

All along, I’ve been trying to caution people against believing that the deal was done yet, for better or for worse. But with the only remaining issue being to clear the deal in a few foreign territories, I would say that the deal is about 90% done at this point. (Yes, I did just make up that statistic. Thanks for asking.)

The lawyers on both sides will probably take about a year to get everything settled, and much of the next year will involve planning the new corporate structure. But things are so close now that I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an X-Men reference in the end credits scene of next year’s Avengers movie.

It’s astonishing that Fox has been brought this low in the first place. For many decades of recent history, a Fox film was at the top of the all-time highest grossing films, unadjusted for inflation (1977-82 for the original Star Wars, then again in 1997 after its re-release; Titanic from 1997 to 2009; and then Avatar from 2009 to 2015). Disney never had a film at the very top during that period until 2015 with–you guessed it–Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And now Disney will own all of those films. I suppose it shows that even the occasional huge success can’t compete with the reliability of Disney’s hit-making machine.

Other new wrinkles in the story:

–Even though it often takes years to develop movies, 20th Century Fox is at a bit of a standstill as they don’t yet know what films will be kept or killed by the new administration.  (Despite such difficulties, there are two completed X-Men movies, Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, heading to theaters in 2019; new Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers movies in the works; and TV reboots for Buffy and 24 in development.)

–Since Fox and Disney each own a third of streaming service Hulu, the combined corporation would own 2/3rds of the service, giving them a controlling interest in the company. (The other third is owned by Universal.) With Disney making plans for a streaming service next year, It’s possible that Hulu could morph into that Disney-exclusive service, with Disney’s and Fox’s extensive TV and film libraries providing the content.

–It remains unclear what Disney will do with Fox’s non-family-friendly franchises such as the Alien and Die Hard movies. Again, not a single article I’ve read states whether Disney gets the Fox logo, or if that stays with the New Fox TV stations, and Disney just owns the titles. If not, they could release those films under a revived Touchstone brand. But at $71 billion, Disney is probably getting the logo.

–While many have talked about the non-family-friendly films, there’s been little talk of how Disney will brand classic Fox movies that are family-friendly. Will Disney put their logo in front of Miracle on 34th Street, The Sound of Music, Home Alone and others, and just pretend like they always made those movies in the first place?

–Yes, Anastasia will now technically be a Disney princess. So will Princess Buttercup, although Fox only retains theatrical rights to The Princess Bride. (MGM owns the home video rights.)

–Perhaps the craziest part of all of this? Back in June, AT&T bought Time Warner…and there was hardly a peep out of the news media about that.

One of the sadder things that also hasn’t got much press about this story is that there will undoubtedly be a lot of layoffs in the company, as many jobs are about to become redundant. (I feel bad that it didn’t occur to me sooner either.) Part of me still wishes this could have played out differently, but there will undoubtedly be some positives to come from this merger. And since I have no control over it anyway, all I can do now is watch and continue to report on both the good and things that happen as this fascinating deal continues to unfold.