Thursday, August 09, 2018

Check out Radio Free Krypton's New Documentary about Prisoners of Gravity

Check out Radio Free Krypton's new documentary about the immensely important science fiction- and fantasy-related TV show of yesteryear, Prisoners of Gravity, called "Inside the Orbit of 'Prisoners of Gravity'".

For those who missed it in its original run on TV Ontario (or on BC's Knowledge Network, which picked it up, as did some PBS stations; or on Canada's Space channel, which rebroadcast it years later), Prisoners of Gravity was a science fiction-, fantasy-, horror-, and comic-related TV show that ran from the late 1980s through the early 90s. The premise was a wacky, yet brilliant, combination of fact and fiction: the host, a fictional character named "Commander Rick" (played by comedian and actor Rick Green) was a fanboy who got fed up with all of the horrible things happening in the world and one day converted his car into a spaceship. Loading his stash of comics, books and other nerd treasures into the car, Commander Rick blasted off into orbit, where he promptly crashed into an abandoned space station, befriended its AI, Nancy, and began pirating TV signals. And that's just the show's intro (delivered as a set of comic book panel illustrations, after the pirate signal interrupts a sedate Canadian nature show [itself entirely fictional]). On the non-fictional side of the show's content, the program revolved around Commander Rick interviewing several sf authors, editors, artists and others about issues ranging from gender representation to the rise of artificial intelligence, to the fan community itself. The guests ranged from titans of the past, like Ray Bradbury, to then-up-and-comers (now giants themselves) like Neil Gaiman, to comic legends like Jack Kirby, to directors like James Cameron. It's been years since the show's been rerun, but many Prisoners of Gravity episodes are now available on Youtube.

Fast-forward to a couple of months ago when the team at Radio Free Krypton radio show/podcast (which is a good show and you should be listening to anyway) decided to put together a four-part doc about the creation, airing and legacy of PoG. Part One of "Inside the Orbit of Prisoners of Gravity" has just hit the air/been uploaded, so I'd highly recommend you follow the link above and give it a listen. It's well put together and contains interviews with Rick Green and PoG producer Mark Askwith about the show's genesis, along with comments from authors Robert J Sawyer and Cory Doctorow about what it meant for sf writers to have a legitimate platform where they were taken seriously as literary professionals and could talk about important issues in the genre and in society as a whole. There are also clips from fans talking about what the show meant to them — including me (but don't let that prevent you from listening [even if my voice was particularly husky that day, making me sound a bit like Rowlf the dog from the Muppets] because everyone else has interesting stuff to say). Really, I'd be recommending this doc even if I wasn't in it because PoG was such an important show and any examination of it is worth listening to.

If the rest of the miniseries is as good as the first part, the cats at RFK should definitely get a nomination for an Aurora Award, or even a Hugo.

Looking forward to listening to the rest of "Inside the Orbit of 'Prisoners of Gravity'" as the episodes become available.

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