On August 5, Anchor Bay will be releasing a 2-disc DVD set of the short-lived series, which aired last year on ABC. A sort of companion piece to Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR, MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION features episdoes based on stories by classic science fiction writers such as John Kessel (“A Clean Escape,”), Harlan Ellison (“The Discarded”), Robert Heinlein (“Jerry Was a Man”), and Robert Sheckley (“Watchbird”). Screenwriters included Walter Mosely (author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries), J. Michael Straczynski (BABYLON 5), and Micheal Tolkin (THE RAPTURE).
The episode I saw, “The Awakening,” starring Terry O’Quinn, failed to excite interest in the rest of the series, but the DVD release will provide an opportunity to sift through the remaining episodes for any hidden nuggets of gold. Other stars include Judy Davis, John Hurt, Brian Dennehy, Anne Heche, Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell, and Sally Kellerman.
Read the official press release below the fold.
BURBANK, CA (June 11, 2008) – Science fiction has long been the genre for some of the most innovative stories ever created, propelling fans into fantastic realms that can inspire – or instill fear. Now, some of the world’s most highly regarded science fiction writers and a lineup of top actors – along with one of the greatest living scientists – have joined forces to reach the outermost limits of human imagination, while tackling many of the most powerful and controversial social issues in the process. On August 5th, Anchor Bay Entertainment will release the critically acclaimed Masters of Science Fiction anthology series on DVD as a 2-disc set. The Masters of Science Fiction DVD contains the entire series – including the world premiere of two episodes never-before-aired! SRP is $29.97.
Originally broadcast last year on ABC, Masters of Science Fictionadapted short stories from some of the genre’s greatest practitioners, including Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Robert Sheckley and John Kessel. Mark Dawidziak of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: “I’ve seen what may be the best futuristic anthology series since the glory days of ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits.’ It’s called ‘Masters of Science Fiction.’“
The all-star casts feature Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), Sean Astin (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), James Cromwell (The Queen), Terry O’Quinn (“Lost“), Judy Davis (Marie Antoinette), John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and directors including Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Insurrection), Harold Becker (Sea of Love), Mark Rydell (For The Boys, On Golden Pond) and Michael Tolkin (The Player, The Rapture). Just as impressive is the series host – Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time).
The following six unique flights of imagination observed under science’s microscope are included in the Masters of Science Fiction DVD:
- “The Awakening”
In the middle of a ferocious firefight outside of Baghdad, US soldiers discover a mysterious body-one that they can’t even identify as human. Swiftly, all over the earth, more such creatures appear and begin to communicate. With this contact, the world is forced to choose between peace and destruction.
Teleplay by Michael Petroni, based on a short story by Howard Fast (Spartacus, The Crossing). Directed by Michael Petroni (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys). Starring Emmy®-nominee Terry O’Quinn, Elisabeth Rohm (“Law & Order,” “Angel“).
- “A Clean Escape”
A dying Dr. Deanna Evans refuses to believe that her patient, Robert Havelmann, cannot remember the last 25 years of his life. It remains unclear why she has been so obsessed with this particular patient until the final, shocking conclusion.
Teleplay by Emmy®-nominee Sam Egan, based on the short story by Nebula Award- winner John Kessel. Directed by Oscar®-nominee Mark Rydell. Starring two-time Oscar®-nominee Judy Davis and Oscar®-nominee Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, “Law & Order“).
- “The Discarded”
The ultimate story of despised minorities forever adrift in the darkness of outer space. As a last resort – born out of their loneliness and despair – they are forced to make an ominous pact with those responsible for their plight, in the hope that they will finally be offered refuge at home on Earth.
Teleplay by Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Harlan Ellison (A Boy And His Dog, “The Outer Limits“) and Oscar®-nominee Josh Olson (A History of Violence), based on a short story by Harlan Ellison. Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Starring two-time Oscar®-nominee John Hurt, Emmy® and Tony®-winner Brian Dennehy (Assault on Precinct 13, Cocoon) and James Denton (“Desperate Housewives,” “The Pretender“).
- “Jerry Was A Man”
Mr. and Mrs. Bronson Van Vogel are the seventh-richest couple in the world. Pleasure is their only work; mundane or dangerous chores are done by anthropoids. All the anthropoids-a few strands of human DNA, grown into a baby and fused with plastics-are named “Joe.” Somehow, Mrs. Van Vogel’s dormant compassion is awakened by a Joe named Jerry. What traits would prove that Jerry is, indeed, a man?
Teleplay by Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe®-nominee Michael Tolkin, based on the short story by seven-time Hugo Award-winner & Science Fiction Grand Master Laureate Robert A. Heinlein. Directed by Tolkin. Starring Emmy®-winner Anne Heche (John Q, “Men in Trees“), Golden Globe®-nominee Malcolm McDowell.
- “Little Brother” – DVD Exclusive!
In a future world where courtrooms exist without human judges or juries, automated justice is the law of the land. Sitting before a kiosk which is the judge, jury, and executioner of the future, Fredon must find a way to convince the machine of his innocence – or find some other way to save himself before time runs out.
Teleplay by Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress, Always Outnumbered), based on a short story from Mosley’s novel Futureland. Directed by Damell Martin (“Grey’s Anatomy,” Their Eyes Were Watching God). Starring Clifton Collins, Jr. (Capote, Traffic), Kimberly Elise (“Close to Home,” The Manchurian Candidate).
- “Watchbird” – DVD Exclusive!
It seems the perfect solution to a ballooning crime rate – filling the skies with flying robotic droids that can prevent murder before it takes place. However, nobody told these “Watchbirds” that all life depends on a formula of carefully balanced killing. Robert Sheckley’s renowned story examines one of the most important questions of our time – is it wise to sacrifice our liberty in the name of our security?
Teleplay by J. Michael Straczynski (“Babylon 5,” “The Twilight Zone“), based on a short story by Robert Sheckley (Freejack, Escape from Hell Island). Written by Hugo Award-winner Sam Egan. Directed by Harold Becker. Starring Sean Astin, Oscar® and three-time Emmy®-nominee James Cromwell and Oscar® and Golden Globe®-nominee Sally Kellerman as the voice of The Watchbird.
The executive producers of Masters of Science Fictionare John W. Hyde, Brad Mendelsohn, Andrew Deane and Keith Addis, with Lisa Richardson, Mick Garris and Sam Egan as Co-Executive Producers. Adam Goldworm and Ben Browning are co-producers on the series.