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Hugo Awards 2012: Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

The Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category was begun in 2003. Even though many TV shows and other media had been nominated and even won a number of times before the split into long-form and short-form categories, the feeling was that just as novels are different from short stories, movies are different from TV episodes. A Doctor Who episode has won every year since 2006, with the exception of 2009’s Internet sensation, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) Nominations (524 ballots cast [compared to 394 ballots cast in 2011])
(The titles in bold are the ones I nominated.)

162 “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (30.92%)
76 “The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (14.50%)
73 “Baelor” (Game of Thrones), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; Directed by Alan Taylor (13.93%) [Ineligible – Nominated in Long Form]
60 “The Pointy End” (Game of Thrones), written by George R.R. Martin; Directed by Daniel Minahan (11.45%) [Ineligible – Nominated in Long Form]
53 “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (10.14%)
49 “Fire and Blood” (Game of Thrones), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; Directed by Alan Taylor (9.35%) [Ineligible – Nominated in Long Form]
38 “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (7.25%)
36 “A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (6.87%)
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35 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (6.68%)
31 “Winter is Coming” (Game of Thrones) (5.92%)
32 “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” (Fringe) (5.53%)
28 “A Golden Crown” (Game of Thrones) (5.34%)
28 “The Wedding of River Song” (Doctor Who) (5.34%)
20 “The Day We Died” (Fringe) (3.82%)
18 “The Wolf Shaped Bullet” (Being Human – UK) (3.44%)
15 “The French Mistake” (Supernatural)(2.86%)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) Final Ballot Results (1395 ballots [compared to 1466 ballots cast in 2011])

My Ranking Title Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
2 “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who) (WINNER) 585 586 645 671
1 “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community) 299 301 314 365
4 “The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who) 156 156 201 211
6 “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech” 142 145 152
3 “A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who) 136 136
5 No Award 77

No Award Tests:
• 1036 ballots ranked “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who) higher than No Award; 163 ballots ranked No Award higher than “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who) – PASS
• ((1395-77)/1922 )*100 = 69% – PASS

The remaining places were then calculated to be:
2nd Place – “The Girl Who Waited”
3rd Place – “A Good Man Goes to War”
4th Place – “Remedial Chaos Theory”
5th Place – “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”

Analysis

Thirteen short-form dramas made the 5% cutoff. Three episodes of Game of Thrones were ruled ineligible since the series as a whole was nominated in the long-form category. Doctor Who and Game of Thrones will undoubtedly dominate the Hugos for the foreseeable future, because most TV science fiction is fairly mediocre. It was nice to see Fringe getting some recognition—I really must go back and watch it. My biggest disappointment was that the Academy Award winning animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was not nominated. Told sans dialog with a Chaplinesque character, this thoroughly charming fantasy is a love letter to reading and the value of books.

Mini-Reviews

“The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)

With more than twice the number of nominations as any other contender and only taking four rounds to be declared the winner, this episode by fan favorite Neil Gaiman had huge support. It was an exciting and entertaining hour that managed to turn almost fifty years of Doctor Who lore on its head. The episode is notable for contriving to have the consciousness of The Doctor’s TARDIS transferred into a sentient being that can converse with him. In doing so, the audience learns some interesting history of The Doctor’s origin.

“The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)

Chris Garcia’s many friends evidently thought it would be funny to nominate his histrionic acceptance speech. The speech was certainly dramatic, and it was a presentation, but this had no place on the final ballot. Thankfully, the voters agreed with this assessment, but its inclusion on so many nominating ballots meant a worthy work such as The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was left off.

“The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)

This episode focuses entirely on The Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, who is inadvertently left behind on an alien planet for 36 years before The Doctor returns to rescue her. Rife with time travel paradoxes, the episode nevertheless delivers an opportunity for actor Karen Gillan to flex her acting muscles as both young and old Amy (with the help of excellent make-up).

“A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)

This was really the first part of a two-part episode that concluded with “Let’s Kill Hitler,” so I’m not sure why it was not nominated as such. The Doctor’s pacifist philosophy is severely tested when his companion Amy Pond is captured and held at a secret military base. He builds an alliance of confederates to help break Amy out of prison. This episode is notable for revealing the true identity of The Doctor’s sometimes love interest, River Song. This somber episode revealed a dark side to the usually happy-go-lucky Doctor; a side that had repercussions later in the season.

“Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

Community is consistently pushing the envelope for a sitcom, and this episode in particular was a tour de force of humorous science fiction, exploring the many-worlds theory of existence in a clever and delightful way. It’s unfortunate that Community is not more widely seen, and I suspect the Hugo voters who didn’t see it instinctively dismissed it as a triviality compared to their beloved Doctor Who (that is often just as jokey and irreverent).

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2012 Hugo Award Nominations

The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) announced the nominees for the 2012 Hugo Awards and the nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. The complete list may be found at the Chicon 7 website.

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Novel

There were only two novels nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula this year, Among Others by Jo Walton and Embassytown by China Miéville. George R. R. Martin is a huge fan favorite, and with his hit Game of Thrones TV series it was all but certain that A Dance With Dragons would be nominated. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey was on a fair number of best-of lists, so it’s presence on the Hugo ballot is not a big surprise. The bigger surprise is Deadline by Mira Grant, which I don’t think was on too many best-of lists, but the author (real name Seanan McGuire) is very active in SF fandom and Deadline is a sequel to her book Feed that was nominated last year. Embassytown has been raking in most of the awards so far, but I wouldn’t count out Martin’s popularity to make him a dark horse favorite.

Graphic Story

With only 339 ballots, this category continues to be one of the least popular. Nevertheless, the nominees this year are markedly better than in years past. Perennial nominees Fables and Schlock Mercenary made the list again this year. The fannish Girl Genius was replaced by the fannish Digger by Ursula Vernon, which was begun in 2007 and completed in 2011. Coming in at over 700 pages, it will be interesting to see who has the stamina to wade through the whole thing. This is a comic that I had never heard of before, but I just read the first 20 pages and it looks intriguing, at least. My favorites, by far, are Locke & Key and The Unwritten. It’s unfortunate that terrific graphic stories such as Habibi by Craig Thompson, Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory, Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, and The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman didn’t make the ballot.

Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Game of Thrones has to be the odds-on favorite, what with its pedigree and ability to tell a 10-hour, fully realized story. I wouldn’t count out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 due to the immense popularity and sentimentality for this final installment of the Harry Potter series, but it seems a long shot, nevertheless. Hugo might also sneak in as the winner, but as good a film as it is, it really is not science fiction or fantasy, except in the broadest sense. Source Code was a fine follow-up to Duncan Jones’s Moon, but it is not nearly as good. Captain America: The First Avenger has no chance to win (and in my opinion, X-Men: First Class was the better superhero film last year). I’m a little surprised that Midnight in Paris wasn’t nominated, but I suspect it’s a bit too mainstream for the Hugo voters. I’m also a little surprised neither Puss in Boots nor Rango were nominated, but animated films seem to be less well regarded. The biggest surprise, by far, was the omission of Rise of the Planet of the Apes from the ballot.

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

Doctor Who dominates the category, as usual. I give Neil Gaiman’s episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” the edge due to Gaiman’s popularity among Hugo voters. I suppose Chris Garcia’s Hugo acceptance speech was dramatic, and although it was certainly moving, it really does not deserve to be nominated. My choice, which I admit is a long shot, is the Community episode “Remedial Chaos Theory,” which is a clever and hilarious meditation on parallel world theory. My biggest disappointment was that The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the Academy Award winning short film, was not nominated.

Summary

Overall, it looks like most of the nominations are deserved. With a record number of nominations (1101), one can assume that most of the nominees have a goodly amount of support and that frivolous entries are minimal. I am looking forward to reading, listening to, and viewing as many of the nominees as possible.

WonderCon 2012, Part 2

Arno Axolotl gets skewered in support of HBO's Game of Thrones.

TV

There were a number of panels relating to TV programs. Prime-time series Person of Interest, Alcatraz, Once Upon a Time, and Community all had well attended presentations. Since WonderCon came before the Fall schedule was announced, there were few new shows in evidence. I didn’t see it, but I think there were some teasers from the new Arrow program that is replacing Smallville.

There were several panels devoted to TV animation. I was unable to get into the Adventure Time panel, the only presentation I missed due to the room being full. I did see the DC Nation panel that previewed clips from Green Lantern: The Animated Series and the second season of Young Justice, as well as some of the short-shorts that they are playing on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, there was no real mention of the new Batman series or any other possible offerings that may be in development.

Alcatraz panel with stars Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones, Parminder Nagra, Jonny Coyne, and Robert Forster, plus some of the writers and producers.

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Movies

One of the more fun panels during the convention was a retrospective of the movies from 1982. With such science fiction and fantasy classics as Star Trek II, Blade Runner, E.T., Tron, Poltergeist, Conan, and The Thing, not to mention cult classics like Megaforce, the panelists had a good time reminiscing and joking about their favorites.

Damon Lindelof and Ridley Scott discuss Prometheus

There were a number of previews for this summer’s blockbusters. Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof were there in person to introduce the latest trailer for Prometheus. I still don’t really know what the movie will be like, but I expect an intelligent, thrilling adventure.

One of the highlights was the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, this looks to be a wild and exciting movie. Who knew Lincoln was such a bad-ass vampire killer!

Other previews included Battleship, which doesn’t look quite as lame as the first trailer made it look, but think it’s basically Transformers in sheep’s clothing—lots of explosions, but nonsensical. The preview for Snow White and the Huntsman looked interesting—certainly Snow White herself should be a strong female lead.

The weirdest preview was for a film called Sound of My Voice. They showed the first ten minutes of the film that introduced us to a cult based on a charismatic female time traveler (or perhaps a charismatic con artist). After the clip, two supposed members of the cult came on stage in a piece of performance art that I don’t think was well received. Finally, writer/director Zal Batmanglij and writer/lead actor Brit Marling came out to expound on the film a little. It is an ultra low-budget independent film that has been shown on the festival circuit to reasonable success. The film will be widely released in late April. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced to seek it out.

Rounding out the movie previews was a screening of the next DC animated film, Superman vs. The Elite, which comes out in June. I will have a full review later; the snapshot is that this is quite good. DC Animation consistently comes up with good to excellent features, something their live-action counterparts do not. They also teased Batman: The Dark Knight Returns with some short clips. It looked awesome. (Rumors are that the story will be split into two parts, which if true is a good sign that it will not be compromised from the graphic novel by Frank Miller.)