Chromakey Issue 7

Chromakey 7 - MediumCHROMAKEY ISSUE 7 | JULY 2022

The latest issue is now available and includes:

The Expanded Universe of THE WALKING DEAD
Martin Montague examines the wider Walking Dead universe

LOKI: Trickster Television
David Johnson looks at the first season of this MCU spinoff

SNOWPIERCER: Is This A Dystopian View of our Future?
Aidan C Matear tries to answer this question

STAR TREK: PICARD Season 2 Overview & Review
Martin Montague examines the latest season

GOOD OMENS: How To Build a Televisual Apocalypse
Tony J Fyler delves into the popular series to learn what makes it tick

STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS
David Johnson gets to know Starfleet’s everyday people

Why Is STRANGER THINGS So Popular?
Martin Montague goes behind the scenes to find out why

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
Kathy Spoon goes where no Star Trek has gone before

STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS
Don Klees examines the first two episodes of this new series

UPLOAD
Tony J Fyler investigates

Inside THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY
Aidan C Matear learns more about this secret society

DOCTOR WHO, BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY, THE PRISONER, RANDALL & HOPKIRK (DECEASED), COLUMNS, REVIEWS and MORE

76 PAGES | TRADE PAPERBACK FORMAT | $9.99 CAD | ORDER HERE

Issue 7 Preview

As a treat, here is the cover for the next issue of Chromakey.

Chromakey 7 - Medium

Issue 7 has now been completed and gone to the printers.  A proof copy has been ordered, and once we’ve received it and everything looks good, the issue will go on sale.  Issue 7 features articles on: The Walking Dead, Loki, Snowpiercer, Star Trek: Picard, Good Omens, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Stranger Things, Upload, The Umbrella Academy, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; The Prisoner and Doctor Who.

Keep tuned to the blog for release details.

New Who Book Forthcoming from Pencil Tip

Pencil Tip Publishing revealed the cover for their forthcoming Doctor Who charity short-story anthology, The Temporal Logbook III: Changed Lives today.

The gorgeous new cover is designed by the splendid John Gordon, and carries on the theme from the first two Temporal Logbook. The collection features some brilliant writers with a foreword from Yee Jee Tso (Chang Lee from the 1996 TV Movie) which will be released later this year. Proceeds will be donated to Settled, the UK charity which provides information, advice and support services to help EU citizens who have made a home in the UK.

STAR TREK: Miri Reviewed

Star-Trek-Miri-211Reviewed by Daniel Tessier

“Miri” is an episode based on two ingenious science fiction concepts: a duplicate planet Earth and ageless children. The latter is explored to some degree, but is mostly used to provide a creepy and unnerving atmosphere. The former is forgotten about almost as soon as it’s introduced.

Star Trek frequently used time travel or suspiciously Earth-like planets to explore past or alternative versions of human society. Indeed, it often seemed quite uninterested in space travel, more involved with parallel Earths than alien worlds. However, none was quite so blatant as the literal duplicate of Earth that is discovered in the opening scene of “Miri,” to the shock and awe of the crew. Yet, once Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Rand beam down to the surface, the mystery of this world’s existence is completely ignored, in favour of its difference from the “real” Earth.

How did this duplicate world come to be? Is it some kind of copy, terraformed to match the real Earth, or is it in some way an actual alternative Earth, somehow existing in our own Galaxy? The episode is bizarrely uninterested in answering this, and it is never picked up in future episodes.

The script is more interested in the parallel world angle, presenting us with a desolate future that seemingly diverged in the 1960s, three hundred years earlier. While the “real” Earth went on to give rise to Starfleet (or “Space Central” as it’s referred to here), this Earth suffered the results of a catastrophic experiment in life prolongation. At least, this version of America did; we can only guess what’s happening on the rest of this world. The experiment led to a virus that slows the ageing process of children down to a crawl, but in adults causes disfigurement, madness and death.

09Through the character of Miri, and the landing party’s brief interaction with the rest of the “Onlies,” we get some idea of what a society of children would be like after three hundred years with no adult supervision. There are some intriguing hints at a degenerating culture, particularly in the shifted version of English they’re speaking: “grups” for grown-ups, “foolies” for games. They’re essentially feral, while the older children are clearly in charge, as much as anyone is. The food is now running out, but we don’t get any real idea of how these people have been supporting themselves for three centuries. There’s also no real sense of what three hundred years of childhood would do to a person’s psyche. Miri, for all her distrust of adults and fear of growing up, doesn’t seem that different to any twelve-year-old girl with a crush.

The relationship between Miri and Kirk is pretty uncomfortable to watch now. While her feelings for the older man are understandable, the Captain uses this to bring the girl onto his side, albeit in a way that backfires when she gets jealous of his connection with Rand. While Kirk’s behaviour is rooted in the survival of his crew and mission, he does display real concern for Miri’s wellbeing. Nonetheless, he’s still flirting with a twelve-year-old – albeit one who’s lived for hundreds of years, and, to confuse matters further, is played by an actress who’s almost twenty.

The episode is mostly concerned with the interplay between the characters and the emotional strain the situation takes on them, and the cast are all well up to the task of shouldering this. Kim Darby is really rather excellent as Miri, making the character extremely sympathetic while ensuring that the audience never fully trusts her. Shatner, in spite of the questionable elements to their interaction, displays a real charisma and strong chemistry with Darby. Nimoy is as brilliant as ever as Spock, even convincingly making the stoic Vulcan visibly rattled by the scurrying, unseen children in the ruins of the city. McCoy, bearing the brunt of the pressure to find the cure for the disease before it finishes them off, is the most strained by the situation, and DeForest Kelley sells it all brilliantly. The most praise, though, should go to the often-underrated Grace Lee Whitney, who leaps at the chance to really explore Rand’s character, her developing feelings for Kirk, and her terror at a situation she was wholly unprepared to meet. It’s a shame that she had such little time on the series, as her character really had the potential to become one of the show’s strongest.

downloadThe kids themselves are made up of a mix of actors and the children of the cast and crew, and, being perfectly blunt, the decision not to have uniformly cute and pretty youngsters was a wise one. Most notable among them is Jahn, the elder of the group, played by Michael J. Pollard. Immediately recognisable and famous for appearances in films including Bonnie and Clyde, Tango & Cash and the Christmas classic Scrooged, Pollard was well into his twenties when he filmed the episode. Jahn, however, is surely meant to be no older than fourteen, essentially the leader of a children’s cult, but surely one in a long line who’s own days are numbered.

While the bones of the children’s society are underexplored, the scenes of the chanting kids are among the most effective in the episode, and offer one of early Trek‘s occasional flirtations with horror. Their repeated refrain of “Bonk! Bonk! On the head!” comes across as silly at first, but it becomes a very real threat when the kids gang up on Kirk, leaving him bloody and bruised. This sinister, creepy atmosphere is the episode’s greatest strength, and the character work is effective, but the fifty-minute runtime means the world of the Onlies remains frustratingly two-dimensional.

It changed my view of the classic Star Trek forever!

FARSCAPE: Premiere (Episode 1) Review

Season-1-farscape-32199019-2071-1367Reviewed by Richard Peevers

The way the cold open to the first episode of Farscape plays out, I was certain we were in for an old-fashioned piece of sci-fi. You know, something reminiscent of Buck Rogers or the original Battlestar Galactica. The scenes on Earth could have been the opening of almost any generic sci-fi show from the seventies or eighties—and not in a good way. By the late nineties, this approach feels safe and unadventurous. It also feels slow. Even though the cold open was only six minutes long, the opening sequence dragged.

I’m not a fan of movies or episodes that dwell on backstory—you know, those movie-length pilots that tell how Bruce Banner became the Hulk or how Peter Parker got his spidey powers. As a rule, they’re boring to watch—the audience already knows the backstory and wants the show to get to interesting, new stories. I felt my heart sinking during these early sequences. The way things were playing out, I was looking at a tedious 50-minute episode—“How John Crichton ended up at the other side of the universe.” Yawn. Right when the space shuttle took off, that’s when I contemplated apologizing to Bob and saying I didn’t have time for the review.

But then, the space shuttle took off. And with it, we heard incidental music that sounded almost entirely out of place. The weird electronica didn’t fit the tone of the opening (I was expecting something more orchestral). This was a first indication that perhaps all was not what it seemed. I was intrigued.

Then—about 45 minutes earlier than I expected!—John Crichton finds himself at the other end of the wormhole. He sees the Leviathan, says “That’s big,” and everything changes. I forgot those dull few minutes on Earth and was gripped.

The way the rest of the episode plays out is quite distinctive. In many sci-fi/fantasy shows, the opening episode consists of a lead character being introduced to a whole new world by a guide. Think of the Doctor Who episode “Rose.” Here Rose is brought into a whole new understanding of the world, and the Doctor is her guide. The audience sees the new world through her eyes, but it is the Doctor who gives her introduction to that world structure.

Farscape-image-farscape-36754743-1920-1080Here, Crichton is Rose, but there is no Doctor to give any structure. We are introduced to this new world entirely through the eyes of someone who knows nothing about it. Crichton appears in the middle of a space battle. We have no idea who is good or who is bad. We have no idea where we are. It isn’t even obvious with whom he will ally himself.

Just as Crichton knows nothing, neither does the audience. There’s no handholding here. The effect is disorienting. Sure, by the time the closing credits roll, the episode has done its job setting up the characters and overarching story of the show, but the way we are introduced to the world of Farscape is quite unusual. It’s pretty daring to trust you can bring the audience along with you without explaining anything.

This approach is even more daring when you consider the nature of the alien races we’re dealing with. For the most part, the alien races we meet in sci-fi TV shows are either identical or almost identical to us. Think of Vulcans in Star Trek or the Goa’uld, Jaffa, or Ancients in Stargate. Famously, only one Doctor Who—“The Web Planet” story features no human roles beyond the central cast. Human beings pretty much always make up the main recurring cast of any  sci-fi show. I don’t mean to oversimplify this: of course Star Trek, Stargate, and Doctor Who each feature a cornucopia of alien races, but so often, the main characters are all human. Look, for example, at Babylon 5. The show goes to pains to create alien species unlike humans—and it gives each one a culture and society that is impressive. Nonetheless, the main three or four recurring characters are all human.

What makes Farscape immediately distinctive is how alien-looking species are clearly going to be central to the show. This seems like another break from sci-fi norms. Sure, the extremeness of this is dialed back slightly once it’s clear Aeryn Sun is going to be one of the core team (so there’ll now be two humans in the main cast, only a little less than Babylon 5), but it’s an impressive development nonetheless. On a related note, it’s interesting how the actual humans here are clearly the bad guys.

“Premier” covers an awful lot of ground. Once Crichton had gone through the wormhole, I found myself wanting the episode to slow down. I wanted a leisurely 90-minute pilot so I could soak it all in. This, however, clearly isn’t the Farscape way. The pilot episode not only gives a bold statement in terms of its cast, it also gives a bold statement in terms of its storytelling. Pretty much anything unnecessary is pared away. Only the essentials necessary for us to grasp the basics of the situation are given.

On the whole, this is successful—instead of a flabby 90-minute episode, we have a terse 50-minute one. The drawback is that, at times, it’s exhausting to keep up with the episodes’ breakneck speed—it’s as if the production team wanted to introduce us to every possible alien race, planet, area of space, and political grouping in the episode. The pudding sometimes feels overegged at the expense of letting us build a relationship with the characters. Compare how Blake’s 7 introduced itself to audiences—the first episode focuses on Blake’s story on Earth, and the show gradually introduces other planets and people over the course of the next several episodes.

This telescoped storytelling leads to the episode’s weakest moment. The death of Bialar Crais’ brother is clearly an accident, and yet it leads Crais into an immediate and personal vendetta against Crichton. The moment is fundamental, sure, but it’s rushed and unconvincing. I just don’t buy he’d react so extremely so quickly. It’s a moment of cartoon sci-fi in the middle of a more thoughtful show. Compared the crew of Moya, Crais is already a relatively one-dimensional character. This moment serves to flatten him even more. I wanted to see him twirl his moustache.

“Premier” was made at an interesting point in genre television. Shows were moving away from disjointed “monster of the week” stories that ultimately led nowhere. Instead, led by the examples of Babylon 5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, genre TV shows were developing more coherent narratives that spanned seasons or even the entire run of a show. “Premier” dives headfirst into this—introducing countless plotlines in 50 minutes and resolving none of them. This is a show that is interested not in explaining anything to us at the outset, but instead wants to intrigue us so we come back for more. As pilot episodes go, this is dissatisfying on one level; on the other it’s almost guaranteed to keep us coming back for more.

“Premier is not a perfect opening episode, then. It’s disorienting and overwhelming. The cold open feels out of place. A few moments throughout the episode are over-telescoped so the production team can cram everything possible into the short run time. That said, the good far outweighs the bad in this episode. About a quarter of the way through the episode is when I knew Farscape would be good—that’s when I thought to myself, “I haven’t noticed the incidental music since the cold open.” The music remains a little odd, sure. A little weird. But it fits perfectly with the show. It was the cold open—with its retro-storytelling and glacial pace—that was out of place. Everything else in “Premier” is intriguing, and I’m thirsty to see where the story takes us.

Submissions Open

Submission Now Open

Chromakey is now accepting submissions for Issue 7.

The theme for issue 7 is modern sci-fi and fantasy television.  Series that are currently broadcasting on network, syndicated, cable, streaming services and airing new episodes in 2022, forthcoming new series and recently finished series (2021).

This includes series such as: Snowpiercer, Superman & Lois, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow , Resident Alien, Peacemaker, Raised By Wolves, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Below Decks, Servant, Severance, A Discovery of Witches, The Walking Dead, Legacies, Space Force, Viking Valhalla, The Flash, The Last Kingdom, Charmed, Halo, Fear The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Stranger Things, The Orville, The Boys, Good Omens, Ghosts, Loki, Avenue 5, His Dark Materials, The Nevers, Westworld, Pennyworth, Roswell New Mexico, Ms. Marvel, Stargirl, La Brea, Locke & Key, 4400, The Expanse, Hawkeye…

We are looking for the following types of material for publication:

  • Series overview/history (in-depth overview of the TV series)
  • Opinion Pieces
  • Topical Discussions
  • Point-of-View
  • Themed based articles (e.g. minorities in television, etc.)
  • Series/season overviews/assessments
  • Other similarly written material

Articles should be insightful, informative, grammatically correct and well-written, but should not read like something from a college textbook. Material should still retain that element of ‘fun.’

If you’ve got an idea for article, please drop us a quick note and let us know what your idea is about.

Submission Deadline:  May 21, 2022

Please note Chromakey is a fan magazine and we do not pay for submitted articles, but contributors will receive a contributors copy of the issue that their material appears in.

Further information on submission guidelines can be found here.

Editor: Chromakey Magazine

EDITOR
CHROMAKEY MAGAZINE

Chromakey is looking for an enthusiastic, imaginative, and creative person as Editor.

Chromakey is a 6×9″ trade paperback sized fan magazine dedicated to science-fiction, fantasy, telefantasy, and cult television. Each issue delves into aspects of specific television series through original in-depth and informative articles, reviews, analysis, and much more. Each issue publishes a variety of written material including articles, reviews, opinion pieces, interviews, analysis, features, etc. that is informative, in-depth, detail orientated and retrospective featuring American, Canadian and British television series of the 1960s right up to today.

Duties include:

 Works closely with the Senior Editor and Publisher.
 Commissioning articles/features and stories from in-house writers or freelancers.
 In conjunction with the Senior Editor, helps develop and draft theme for each issue.
 Generating ideas for articles and features with writing staff.
 Selecting articles for issues and planning publication contents.
 Selecting feature articles for each issue.
 Reading, writing and researching features and articles.
 Editing and re-writing articles, some of which may be rejected or returned to the writer for revision.
 Proofreading all pages before going to press (this includes proofing PDF proof copy).
 Read copy or proof to detect and correct errors in spelling, punctuation, and syntax.
 Receive draft articles; edit draft articles according to Chromakey house style and guidelines; return edited drafts to writers; receive green light/final edits from writers; proof final drafts and upload finalized articles to Dropbox.
 Solicits new writers, artists.
 Supervising staff, including freelance writers, and setting deadlines.
 Assists in helping to raise the profile of the magazine.
 Assist in the writing of promotional materials.
 Other duties as assigned.

Requirements:

 Be able to work well with others.
 Excellent editing skills.
 Familiar with science-fiction, fantasy and cult television, its history, its characters, etc.
 Familiar with using social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, message boards, etc.).
 Imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, open to innovative ideas, resourceful.
 Must be able to meet and adhere to deadlines.
 Possess a good command of the English language; speaks and writes English fluently.
 Prior experience with editing, preferably in editing magazine articles (optional).

Please reply with your full name and email contact, outlining your past editing/writing experience and why you feel you would be an ideal candidate for the post.

Applicants should include sample(s) of their writing in Word or PDF format.

Please Note: Chromakey is a fan magazine. The position is volunteer.

This position is now closed.

RANDALL & HOPKIRK (DECEASED): That’s How Murder Snowballs Review

randall11Review by Gary Phillips

That’s How Murder Snowballs was the fifth episode of Randall and Hopkirk and is an entertaining whodunit written by stuntman and director Ray Austin.

The story’s premise involves Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and his ghostly partner Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope) attempting to solve the murder of variety revue mind reader Fernandez (Tony Thawnton), one half of a famous mind-reading act Fernandez and Abel as he and Jeannie watch a variety show at the Palace Theatre, actually the Palace Theatre in Watford, Hertfordshire England, Abel being an early cameo role for David Jason.  Jeff and Marty’s widow, Jeannie (Annette Andre) witness the killing where Fernandez is shot dead during a part of the act whereby Abel presents the gun used in this part of the act to a member of the audience.  Fernandez has to guess which part of the gun the bullet (supposedly a blank will be fired from.

It is here that writer Ray Austin and the usually superb director Paul Dickson slip up.  The murderer is so obvious than anyone watching really closely can solve the mystery before the opening credits.

download (1)For all that the story has a collection of fascinating characters including Fernandez’s ex wife singer and dancer Gloria Marsh (Grazina Frame who would make regular appearances in the Frankie Howerd comedy series UP POMPEII) who had had a hit LP in 1961, the rather camp Chirographer Kim (Stuart Hoyle), dancer Kay (Valerie Leon who was known for advertising the aftershave Hi Karate in the 70s), David Jason later famous for such series as Open All Hours, Only Fools and Horses, Darling Buds of May and A Touch of Frost Fernandez’s partner Abel who is wrongly arrested for his murder, Patrick Holt who four years later who find fame as the Squire of Beckindale Mr Verney in the early years of the British soap opera Emmerdale Farm as Jeff Randall’s old school friend and now a top reporter called Barry Jones.

Jones gives the story an interesting aspect which offers a pleasant distraction from the simplicity of the actual Whodunnit in the question of morality as Jones pays Jeff well for the information he has provided.  Jeannie displays distaste for this by snapping at Jeff “Well did you get your blood money?” to which Jeff merely replies “The Rent’s due”.  The fact that Jeff displays no compunction in indulging in a bit of skulduggery is also clearly displayed when his old nemesis Inspector Nelson (Michael Griffiths) appears at the Palace Theatre.

With Marty’s help Jeff goes undercover as Abel and Fernandez’s mind-reading replacement described by theatre manager Lang (Harold Behrens) as the best mind reading act he has ever seen.  As Jeff searches the two hampers used by Fernandez and Abel we see the attractive legs of a blue skirted woman, (or is she?), slowly approaching the room where Jeff is having been directed there by stage manger Snowy (Are you Being Served’s Arthur Brough).  Jeff’s investigations are interrupted when the woman sends a shelf falling towards him.

Jeff’s investigations reveal that Fernandez and Gloria had once been man and wife. Some years ago she had been involved in a drunken car accident whereby she had killed someone and Fernandez took the blame to save her from prison. With this hold over her, he refused to allow her a divorce when they grew apart, and demanded money from her while cheating on her with a string of other women. When Gloria takes a lover of her own.

maxresdefaultWorking out who the murderer is Randall, with Inspector Griffiths in tow asks the cast and staff of the revue to be on the stage in half an hour.  The murderer goes on a rampage attacking Kay, and putting her in hospital with a dire warning from the doctor at the moment she has a greater chance of dying than living. Having attacked snowy by punching him viciously in the stomach.  It is one of the faults of the story that we see Kay unconscious in her hospital bed with an intravenous drip but we do not find out whether she recovers or not although Marty is standing over her.

Back at the theatre the murderer fires at Jeff several times and he falls from a stage rope to which he had been clinging.  With the murderer under arrest Barry Jones visits Jeff in hospital followed by Marty who although he can’t eat has developed a fondness for dining out, having been at table in the Savoy Hotel with the British Prime Minister of the time Harold Wilson.

That’s How Murder Snowballs is one of the most enjoyable episodes of Randall & Hopkirk despite the fact that it is incredibly easy to solve.  The characters are all very entertaining and we see an unusually unscrupulous side to Jeff Randall which shocks even Jeannie.  Paul Dickson’s direction is both subtle and skilled and he is not to blame for the fact that the murderer is obviously seen within the first couple of minutes.  The story ranks up there with My Late Lamented Friend & Partner, Murder Ain’t What It Use To Be, and The Ghost Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo as one of the very best episodes and stands up to continued rewatching.