Archive for August, 2011

My kind of franchise

For over a year now I’ve been thinking about a TV series “franchise”, but a conversation about it I had with JBQ today made me decide to write about it. I hope some TV exec reads about it, likes it, and materialize it — given enough funds.

The idea is to have five one-hour TV series (Mon to Fri), 12 episodes per season each, for 3 seasons (hard deadlines and concrete stories, no fillers). The year is somewhere around 2230.

Series 1: Takes place on Earth. The old country tries to hold together both the planet, its colonies, its corporations, and a new (perceived) enemy for human kind: the transcending to complete cyber entities.
Series 2: Takes place in orbit, between a space station that it fights to not get out of commission, and a space Elevator. The two compete as to which one will be the main hub for commerce and supplies.
Series 3: Takes place on the Moon, on a mining colony. It’s the oldest space colony, out of fashion, and therefore it doesn’t get enough favors from Earth’s government.
Series 4: Takes place on Mars. The machinations and politics of a colony of 250k people trying to gain independence.
Series 5: Takes place on Io. The orbiting spaceship and research colony on the surface are on the farthest reach in our solar system, almost forgotten, but they hold an ace on their sleeve regarding the next big step of the human kind.

Each series will have its own storyline and characters, but the bigger issues will be inter-connecting, as everything usually is when it comes to politics. Every episode title would also include the date, so future viewers can find the correct order of how to view all 5 series in a way that it’s most satisfying and logical. In terms of atmosphere I’d gun for something between the third season of Babylon 5, LOST, and SGU. Many different topics would have to be explored, including genetics and eugenics, the role of politics, corporations and military in any decision made and how this affects everyone, what it means to be human etc, etc.

I want to challenge my viewers. For example, when one decision is made by some figure of authority, which might be the correct decision for his/her people, it might have devastating consequences for the people of the other series. In politics, often there is no black and white, and usually what’s good for one country it might be bad for another (e.g. lobbying on keeping low wages for Haitians in order to keep having cheap Levi’s in the US). I want people to think about these things, and such TV series can help with that if done right.

At the very end of the series, I’d like to show what sacrifices must be done, what alliances, destruction, and even… DNA changes must happen to get to that next step of the human kind: the new ability to create stable wormholes, and explore & colonize the galaxy. But this won’t come cheap. I can promise this much.

Update, 5th Oct 2013: Production-wise it’d probably be overwhelming to have that many series with interconnecting characters and storylines, where everything has to check out between all of them. I think that 3 series, with 8 episodes each, for 3 seasons, is a much more realistic goal: Earth + space station, Moon + freighters, Mars + Io.

A smart way to emulate the “flashbacks” from LOST would be to show in one of the series that something happened on the other, but without knowing the details, until that series goes live a few weeks later. For example, in a videoconferencing with Moon taking place in the Earth series, it’s mentioned that 5 people died, one of them high ranking. But only when the Moon series goes on air, we find what happened, and who exactly died. Or, we could have a main character officially quit, or arrested, but again, we won’t know what happened, until we see their point of view a few weeks later.

So basically, the storylines can intertwine in a smart fashion to create suspense, mystery, and a believable universe where every decision or action in one place, can affect other places, so far away.

Another thing to mention is that I’d expect a huge cast for each series, not the usual 6-8 characters per show, but more like 8 main characters, plus another 30-40 recurring ones (plus guest stars from the other series, when the storyline warrants it). Kind of like LOST, that is. It’d be a complex, deep show, but that’s exactly its beauty.

Finally, for all this to work as intended, the story must be worked out from the very beginning. Not made as they go along, but rather, most details have to be worked out from the beginning of the whole story until its end — before filming even starts! The studio must guarantee these 3 seasons for each series (72 episodes overall).

The Moon

The moon last night, captured by my husband’s telescope and my Canon SX200 IS digicam (shot handheld, through the eyepiece).

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0/US.

The David Bowie of cats

A male cat in our neighborhood, in Greece


I think the last 10 years have been detrimental to Greece’s family values, at least at the parts I’m from. The ’80s were the times where our status from third world country changed to almost-first, the ’90s were the establishment of that new status, and the ’00s was all about the decline of the public ethos. Just like a newly-rich person frantically dives himself into whores and cocaine.

All I hear now over here is about how drugs have taken over the youth. When I was a teen I’ve never seen any hard drugs in my area, and only very few youngsters that we knew smoke a joint every now and then. Now, children as young as 12 are having sex, and stay out partying up to 3 AM. In comparison, I was 16 when I started going out with friends, I was always back by 11:30 PM, and I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 19 (to a fiance no less).

An even more common gossip than the youth pAArtying, are about the adults. I’ve never heard of so many cases of spouse-cheating than I do now. I really don’t think we ever had so many cases of cheating in our town and surrounding villages. There were always some such cases (heck, I always considered my own dad a womanizer, for example), but definitely not to the degree that I hear these days. I hear about teenagers getting into the middle married couples (often with children) and ending up divorcing them. I hear about middle-aged married men with children sleeping with 75 year old women for money or for fun. I hear about previously fine 45-ish year old married women suddenly charging for sex at this age. Not to mention the porn movies some women from a nearby village shot, that I heard about. I’m truly shocked about what’s going on in the last few years over here, and I’m not a person that gets shocked easily.

There were many times in the past when Greeks made fun of the divorce rate in the US. They portrayed the Americans as people without family values. Now, Greece’s divorce rate is as high, if not higher. Sure, I had two failed engagements myself in the ’90s, but I never cheated, and I’d like to think that I wasn’t cheated upon either. In fact, I’m still friends with my second fiance, and there’s no bitterness between us. We just fell out of love, and we took our separate ways. Since then, I got married, happily for over 10 years now, with an amazing French guy. Instead, all the couples I’ve heard that they divorced around my Greek parts in the past few years, were almost all cases of known cheating.

To me, that’s pure and plain declining. People with too much money or time on their hands. Boredom even. I might be sounding “old”, evangelizing the good old days, but it’s not so. I always saw myself as a moderate, so I always try to keep the best parts of each lifestyle: the freedom of the modern lifestyle, but also the family values of the old ways. Besides, the good old days were not that good either, there were constantly problems of money and convenience. But I prefer a whole village in poverty, eating nettle soup & wild amaranth greens and herding goats, than women soliciting and charging 20 Euros for a blow job, just because they find it easier to do just that rather than go and find real work.

Remember, these are lands where everyone knows everyone else. Reputation is everything. It’s your make and your unmake.

The Revolution of Skype

One of the top-3 features I check when I buy new laptops or smartphones is the availability and quality of their webcam. Every time I comment about it people keep telling me that they never really use their webcam and that I overreact about them.

Not so. I actually use the feature extensively. When I’m in the US, I Skype with my mom, and cousins in Greece & Germany extensively. Now that I’m in Greece, we actually still use this small Ubuntu netbook I had given my mom to video-chat with my cousins and their small kids who live on the other side of Greece. My uncle and aunt, who live close to us, visit us a few times a week, and then we call them in order for them to see their grand kids and chat.

Each session takes from 30 mins to 45 mins, and while they have a free call to each other via Vodafone, they much prefer the video chat, by far. It’s so nice to see them happy, and embrace the wonders of technology (especially since my cousins’ webcam is of higher quality and they’re crystal clear in our screen). My aunt is now considering of learning to use a computer and install an internet connection, just for the video chat (just like my mom did last year at the age of 55). I suggested the iPad 2. When my mom’s Linux netbook goes kaput, I will get her an iPad too. It’s a much more suitable option for her kind of usage (light browsing, email, facebook, video-chat).

I was considering myself the new Macbook Air, to replace my DELL ultra-portable laptop which has touchpad driver problems, but while all new Apple products got an HD webcam this year, the new Macbook Air didn’t (the quality difference between 720p HD and VGA Apple webcams was demonstrated on youtube and was significant). Since a webcam is a vital feature for me, I won’t get a Macbook Air. At least not this year’s model.