Masters of Science... Episodes

2007, TV Show

Masters of Science Fiction Season 1 episodes

Watchbird Season 1, Episode 6

Robot birds anticipate and prevent killings before they can take place in the not-too-distant future. James Cromwell, Sean Astin. read more

Little Brother Season 1, Episode 5

Automated justice is served in this tale set in a future where courtrooms lack judges and juries. Based on a Walter Mosley short story. read more

"The Discarded" Season 1, Episode 4

Tonight's episode is the fourth and last of the six that were produced that ABC intends to run. (All six will be seen in Canada, at least, on the cable channel Space, starting in November). And it was the episode a number of viewers were most eager to see, I suspect, since it was based on a short story by Harlan Ellison, who has established himself as a major figure in both fantastic fiction (among other sorts of prose) and in screenwriting, as well as being responsible for some notable comics scripting and work in other media. Apparently Ellison gave executive producer Keith Addis strong support when they resisted the attempts by ABC to call the series "Masters of Sci-Fi," which would be comparable to calling its Showtime sibling series Masters of Horror something like "Masters of Spookiness" (ABC chose to slip "scifi" into the URL for the series' pages on abc.go.com, anyway... perhaps the smallest of many hostilities the network has shown toward this project). And the story was ad... read more

"Jerry Was a Man" Season 1, Episode 3

“Jerry Was a Man” is the slickest and most handsomely produced of the three episodes shown by ABC so far, and it’s based on a short story by probably the most influential of 20th-century American science-fiction writers, Robert A. Heinlein; 2007 is the centennial of his birth. He wasn't the best American sf writer of the century (though many would give him that, too), but the most influential in part because he demonstrated the ease with which one could sketch in details to give a sense of otherness in fiction — but an otherness in which the characters were entirely at home (unless there was some reason they shouldn’t be). And ingenuity, both in sociological speculation and in story construction, was often his strong suit, particularly in the work he published in the first decade or so of his sf-writing career, beginning with a story in John Campbell’s magazine Astounding Science Fiction in 1939. This story was first published in a competing magazine, S... read more

"The Awakening" Season 1, Episode 2

Like the characters in tonight's episode, we can live in the hope that "The Awakening" remains the weakest installment of this series. In fact, we might even wonder why this arguably religious fantasy was included in a series devoted to science fiction at all; more importantly, we can wonder why, if this obviously heartfelt production was to be included, they executed it so poorly, with so many goofy little details that pull the viewer out of the drama.Based, presumably rather loosely, on Howard Fast's short story "The General Zapped an Angel" (the producers were so concerned that the not-exactly-surprising ending would be given away that they credited the story in the opening as "The General Zapped... "), it's squarely in the tradition of attempted mystical uplift in science fiction drama. As I mentioned in my first post, Howard Fast is best known for his historical fiction, the field to which he contributed most often and most importantly; like sf, historical fiction is a field th... read more

"A Clean Escape" Season 1, Episode 1

Well, as John Kessel (the author of the short story adapted for this first broadcast episode of the series) advised us, the acting by Judy Davis and Sam Waterston in "A Clean Escape" was excellent; it was particularly good to see Waterston away from the harness of Law and Order (and he even got to be the U.S. president in this one, as opposed to district attorney or ADA for NYC). Good performances are crucial in this kind of context; as several have noted elsewhere, this was largely a two-character drama, one which with not much revision could be nearly as powerful as a "legitimate" theater/stage play, particularly given the stark and sweeping ethical dilemmas involved: personal responsibility, the (necessary?) abuse of (always corrupting or at least reason-distorting?) great political and military power, real and metaphorical losses reinforcing one another as the drama plays out. Literary sf (along with other forms of fantastic literature, such as fantasy and surrealist fiction) an... read more

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Premiered: November 11, 2007, on Space
Rating: None
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Premise: A sci-fi anthology featuring adaptations of stories by noted writers Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein, Howard Fast and John Kessel. From IDT Entertainment (Showtime's `Masters of Horror').

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