HBO: New Documentary News Series, ‘Vice’ To Air In April

VIce

Again, here’s one of those situations where we normally wouldn’t have given a crap about making anything other than an announcement but unlike the silliness associated with Hawaii Five-O‘s “Choose Your Own Adventure” ending gimmick scheduled for January 14th, this press release actually caught our attention for something positive and that’s a rare thing because we normally don’t even bother with HBO news/documentary series as they are usually incredibly biased propaganda pieces.

This is not the case with the latest series, Vice, from HBO which we are enthusiastically recommending.  We became familiar with the folks at Vice through their DVD series The Vice Guide To Travel from 2006 that until recently was on Netflix streaming.  The Vice team covers the most unique news stories we’ve ever seen that are gritty and raw and would never make it to network or cable news.  Not sure what we’re talking about, well how about going to Chernobyl – as in literally IN Chernobyl – to document the devastation on the infamous nuclear disaster’s 20 year anniversary?  How about sneaking into North Korea or following the illegal gun trade in Pakistan.  These don’t kid around and they put themselves in highly dangerous situations to bring to the world these stories through an unbiased lens.  And don’t get us wrong, it’s not all heavy stuff.  Vice also does some great fun pieces like “The Wodka Wars” where they try to get to the bottom of who invented Vodka, the Russians or the Poles.

Before we get to the press release, avail yourself of this great content in advance by going directly to their site, here, where you can watch full episodes.

Vice  will premiere on HBO on April 5th at 11:00 p.m.

Via Press Release:

VICE, NEWS SERIES FEATURING STARTLING,

GROUNDBREAKING STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD,

DEBUTS THIS SPRING, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO

——–

SHANE SMITH HOSTS;

BILL MAHER, SHANE SMITH AND EDDY MORETTI EXECUTIVE PRODUCE;

FAREED ZAKARIA IS A CONSULTANT

As U.S. troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban stoops to an all-time low by recruiting confused, innocent kids as young as six to be suicide bombers.

A kindly South Korean preacher runs an underground railroad to rescue young North Korean women from sex slavery in China.

A hallucinogen is so powerful that it’s banned by the U.S. government, but is the key ingredient in a witch doctor’s bizarre ritual designed to cure heroin addicts.

These are the kinds of stories – usually overlooked by mainstream media outlets – that will be presented on VICE, the news magazine series debuting this spring, exclusively on HBO. Hosted by Shane Smith, founder of the revolutionary newmedia company of the same name, the weekly show will be executive produced by Bill Maher, Shane Smith and EddyMoretti, VICE’s chief creative officer, with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria serving as consultant.

“VICE’s savvy, fearless irreverencehas made it a premier new media brand,” notes Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “Their groundbreaking style of news coverage guarantees a show that’s like nothing else on TV.”

Founded by Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi in 1994, VICE now operates in 34 countries worldwide and attracts tens of millions of viewers and readers to its network of online channels dedicated to music, fashion, travel, news and sports. VICE’s international digital platforms and magazine are Gen Y’s most popular and entertaining source for news, part of a global media powerhouse that also includes a television production studio, a record label, an in-house creative services agency and a book-publishing division.

Hosted by Smith and two VICE correspondents, former intern Ryan Duffy and “Dos & Don’ts” book editor Thomas “Baby Balls” Morton, VICE smashes barriers of decorum to cover such stories as out-of-control political assassinations in the Philippines, the sumo/Mixed Martial Arts craze that has swept Senegal and the precarious nuclear stare-down in Kashmir.

Shane Smith says, “We’ve always been a little more raw in the content we make. When you’re presenting a variety of totally insane stories from around the world, when you’re showing some of the scariest, weirdest and most absurd customs and practices known to humanity, then that’s the only style that really works. You can’t present these stories in a teacup. You have to tell the story in a way that grabs the viewer and delivers a punch in the face.

“We are thrilled that VICE has found a home on HBO,’’ he adds. “HBO is perfect for us because it’s intelligent, independent and bold. We won’t have to dumb things down or put them in sound bites, and we won’t have to shy away from topics or modify our approach. On HBO, we will have all the freedom and creativity weneed. HBO is the gold standard of TV, and we want to be the gold standard on HBO. Oh…and we get to swear.”

As Bill Maher notes, “If a show is willing to do a segment on a guy who calls himself General Butt Naked, you have to watch. You can’t go to your grave without having that experience.”

Series consultant Fareed Zakaria observes, “VICE brings a new energy to television. Its stories mix a sense of adventure with compelling, high-quality journalism. The combination will engage a new generation of viewers.”

ABOUT VICE

VICE is a leading youth entertainment company operating in more than 34 countries, and includes vice.com, the world’s premier original online video destination; an international network of digital channels; a television production studio; a print magazine; a record label; an in-house creative services agency; and a book publishing division.

VICE is executive produced by Bill Maher, Shane Smith and Eddy Moretti; Fareed Zakaria is a consultant.

VIC’S REVIEWS: ‘Alaska State Troopers’ (National Geographic – Sundays, 8:00 p.m.)

Follow one of the toughest law enforcement agencies in the nation, patrolling alone on unforgiving terrains. Responding by land, air, and sea—with backup sometimes days away—these troopers patrol hundreds of miles of rugged terrain in bone-chilling temperatures to protect the people and wildlife of Alaska. Whether it’s overturned snow machines in 22-degree weather, violent chainsaw crimes, volatile fishermen zigzagging down waterways, thieves stealing essential village items, moose-hunting checks, gunman confrontations in the wilderness, or intoxicated gold miners blocking roads—being prepared for anything is just part of the job.

Cameras ride along with Alaskan State Troopers as they keep the streets safe and hunters honest while at the same time taking advantage of the breathtaking landscape that Alaska State Troopers are lucky enough to call “their office.” -NatGeo

Score:     80 out of 100

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I have to give credit to NatGeo for providing several episodes of Alaska State Troopers on YouTube, uncut and for free (they also charge on YouTube for full seasons, so that’s saying something).  While we can’t post them to our channel without a guarantee of a copyright strike against us, we have posted them at the end of this review for you to enjoy while they are still up.  At the time of publishing there was one episode from season one and nine episodes from season two.  Enjoy!

NatGeo’s Alaska State Troopers is not just another pedestrian Cops knock-off… y’know, like the kind of crap that permeates Spike TV on a regular basis; the typical police cruiser/fleeing suspect chase show where we see endless loops of speeding perps and footage consisting almost entirely of bad dash-cam video.  No offense to Spike (you guys do air the Star Wars films, after all), and I can see where some might offhandedly dismiss it as Cops in Alaska, however, I think that comparing AST to its well-known predecessor and  less-than worthy successors does a disservice to this very original series. I grew to enjoy the show and I became a steady viewer of it after the first season which aired back in 2009.  At first, it was just a show that would serve as background noise while I would write or do some studying (something I still do with Ancient Aliens or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), but every now and then I’d glance over at the TV and get pretty involved with the way the show was delivered to the audience, with the first feature being the obvious: the photography.

Done in documentary style,  AST is beautifully filmed by a host of well-known cinematographers including Josh Becker and Jason Fierst, whose credits include Frontier Force and I (Almost) Got Away With it. The audience is regularly treated to beautiful aerial shots of surrounding snow-covered mountains, hills, valleys and lakes that are scattered across the Alaskan landscape, in locales such as Wasilla and Anchorage. The camera coverage of Alaska is absolutely stunning and amazing to watch, so there is never any wasted “filler” footage, there. We are drawn into the show by the different locations that the brave troopers cover. Usually, an episode will alternate between these locales and we ride along with a variety of troopers, each with their own unique personalities, incredible tales and history. These troopers are diligent, strong and have amazing stamina to not only weather the climate that Alaska beats down on them but to have to deal with hunters, roadkill, drug dealers, meth addicts and even the occasional inebriated Alaskan or two.

Veteran voice actor Marc Graue (Fallout, Resistance 3) provides the narration for AST and is pitch perfect here. Graue has a great voice and he can pull us into the drama with that velvet tenor of his. He carries the show’s narrative as we meet up with the various troopers that include troopers Howie Peterson, Dan Cox, Abraham Garcia and Lance Ewers who represent just a few of the troopers from different regions of the great state.

As far as the “main cast of characters” goes and what I truly appreciate about AST, these guys are hardcore, real and they have an amazing capacity for taking what Alaska dishes out… even when it’s not from a human. Snowstorms, ice storms, fog, moose, bears, etc., they see it all. At times they are dispatched to move hurt animals from the side of the freeways. They do it mercifully, with compassion and are not shy about displaying emotion. In one episode  a trooper even tracks down an injured Moose and has to put it down. This is pretty heavy stuff from an unscripted police show.

Sometimes, our heroes are dispatched to chase wanted felons and criminals while enduring poachers and moose season. Some of the braver troopers get called out with frequency to very isolated areas and deal with arrest warrants and dangerous felons that hide out in log cabins, run down shacks, mountains and rusted-out trailers. These are usually the very militant types that don’t take too well to trespassers… even if they are the law.

DUI on the 4th of July is one of the many standout episodes of the series. The troopers have to contend with some very rowdy party goers who are enjoying themselves a bit too much and as usual, we see our troopers handle stressful situations with professionalism and grace. Then, some other troopers handle a very precarious search and rescue on melting ice. I have to really give these officers credit and respect for all they do. What differentiates this show from Cops and the rest is that the show’s director,  Brian Michel,  gives us raw, real and very visceral footage here and no two episodes are the same. We get some fun and frivolous stuff like a dude trying his damndest to hide from the troopers while he is clearly in plain sight to some more serious stuff like when a poor meth-addicted girl cries for help from her addiction. It’s all very emotionally gripping.  So all in all, AST is a very engaging series from NatGeo. Kudos to them for making me look up from my laptop and involving me in some captivating TV.  

As an aside, in an awesome display of the show’s popularity, some puppies were dropped off at dog Shelter in Kentucky and two pups were named Trooper Dahl and Trooper Peterson after the brave officers from the show.  Read about it here.

Season four of Alaska State Troopers starts this Sunday, October 7th.

EXCLUSIVE: First Look Trailer Of Roddenberry Productions’ Trek Nation

A couple of years ago at the 2008 Creation Entertainment Star Trek Convention, we had the pleasure of getting a first-look preview of about ten minutes of a documentary feature produced by Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, Jr. (Roddenberry Productions), son of the late Gene Roddenberry, known the world over as the visionary creator of the Star Trek franchise.

Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, Jr.

We were absolutely blown away by this very serious and cerebral approach to Trek Fandom as presented in Trek Nation,  because as much as we’ve always liked the Roger Nygard Trekkies documentaries, they were done a lot more tongue-in-cheek with kind of a “F*ck you! That’s right, I’m a Trek fan and I’m a big f*ckin’ geek and there are millions of us all over the world and we don’t care what you think!” mentality that understandably did bother some fans because they felt it perpetuated the worst stereotypes regarding Trek fandom.  While we admit that there is some of that, the truth is that Nygard’s intentions were always to portray Trek fandom as something that isn’t just a fringe movement but something universal that everyone can relate to.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Unfortunately, that message was kind of lost on a lot of people, both Trek fan and non-Trek fan alike, which is why what little we saw of Trek Nation three years ago was so refreshing in terms of documenting the true nature of Trek fandom, its cultural significance, as well as its impact on everything from technology to philosophy.  Moreover, it provides a window into an understanding of what actually drives the average Trek fan… and not just the guy who had his ears surgically altered to look like Spock’s, the guy who is retro-fitting his whole house with Jefferies Tubes, the guy who requested a vial of blood from James Doohan or the cross-dressing Science Fiction folk singer (which we find out during Trekkies is called “filking“).

SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE ENTIRE FILM OF TREKKIES!

Trek Nation is a sincere and thoughtful approach to Trek fandom and today Roddenberry Productions released the first-look trailer for the feature-length documentary which will premiere on the Science Channel on November 30, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.

For more information about Trek Nation, here’s the official press release that was released in July by Discovery Communications:

Via Press Release:

Science and Star Trek Join Forces With Feature Length Roddenberry Documentary Trek Nation

TREK NATION Is produced by Star Trek Heir, Rod Roddenberry, and Roddenberry Entertainment set for release in 2011.

Silver Springs, MD (July 23, 2011) — With the 2011 Comic-Con International in San Diego as the backdrop, SCIENCE today announced its partnership with science fiction royalty, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, and Roddenberry Entertainment on the upcoming the feature-length special, TREK NATION, scheduled to air in fourth quarter 2011. TREK NATION explores the popularity and appeal of Star Trek through the man who created it all – the late Gene Roddenberry.

Rod will take SCIENCE audiences along with him as he explores his father’s work and the impact of his legacy that still resonates today. Through interviews with his most devoted fans, including George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Stan Lee and many others, TREK NATION is the story of a son trying to learn more about his father by unraveling the intricacies of Star Trek.

The film demonstrates how Gene’s work not only captivated legions of fans across the globe, but also generated a movement which has influenced entertainment, politics, space travel, social morality and much more. Fostering a timeless understanding of the human condition and capturing man’s constant search for a better world defines everything that is TREK NATION.

“This project is very personal for me, as it literally documents my education on Star Trek, my father, and the Roddenberry legacy. Because of that, I can’t tell you how happy we are to have found a network that shares our vision for it,” said Rod Roddenberry “TREK NATION strikes a strong balance between exploring a science fiction phenomenon and relating a very universal story between a son and his father. I have every confidence that Star Trek fans and non-Star Trek fans alike are going to enjoy the film.”

“Star Trek isn’t just a television show; it is a global phenomenon, a way of life, which has shaped so many facets of how we define our world today,” said Debbie Adler Myers, general manager and executive vice president of SCIENCE. “We are honored to carry on the Roddenberry mission by continuing his legacy with TREK NATION.”

TREK NATION is produced for SCIENCE by Roddenberry Entertainment. Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry is an executive producer and Trevor Roth is a producer for Roddenberry Entertainment. Bernadette McDaid is vice president of production and executive producer for SCIENCE. New Animal Productions producer is Nicole Rittenmeyer and Scott Colthorp produces for Atmosphere Pictures.

About SCIENCE

SCIENCE, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), is home for the thought provocateur, the individual who is unafraid to ask the killer questions of “how” and “why not.” The network is a playground for those with audacious intellects and features programming willing to go beyond imagination to explore the unknown. Guided by curiosity, SCIENCE looks for innovation in mysterious new worlds as well as in its own backyard. SCIENCE and the SCIENCE HD simulcast reach more than 68 million U.S. households. The network also features high-traffic online and social media destinations, including ScienceChannel.com, facebook.com/Science Channel and twitter.com/Science Channel.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in 210 countries and territories. Discovery is dedicated to satisfying curiosity through 130-plus worldwide television networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, SCIENCE and Investigation Discovery, as well as US joint venture networks OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, The Hub and 3net, the first 24-hour 3D network. Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools and owns and operates a diversified portfolio of digital media services, including HowStuffWorks.com. For more information, please visit http://www.discoverycommunications.com.

About Roddenberry Entertainment

Roddenberry Entertainment is a science-fiction leader with a tradition of groundbreaking entertainment. Originally founded in 1967 by Gene Roddenberry, the company has since led a steady stable of science-fiction successes including Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and, most notably, Star Trek. Roddenberry Entertainment continues to produce entertainment for all audiences, employing a viewer-centric creative process and resulting in insightful explorations of humanity. The company’s mission is to make good on its namesake’s promise of superior science-fiction while utilizing new and varied vehicles of delivery. Building on its television roots, this entertainment pioneer has also successfully ventured into graphic novels, documentaries, and comic strips, all the while continuing a long and unique tradition in quality merchandising. Roddenberry Entertainment has set itself apart by creating content that surpasses mere entertainment; it challenges its audiences to think, question and explore the world, as well as those beyond. For more information on Roddenberry Entertainment please visit http://www.Roddenberry.com Roddenberry Entertainment can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/roddenberrycom) and Twitter (twitter.com/roddenberry).

AS PROMISED:

(To enjoy in Full-Screen, click on the DailyMotion logo in the lower right of the video to view the video on the DailyMotion site.)