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We revisit some great highs and serious lows in 2004, the year that brought us the return of Thunderbirds and the news that the Daleks are back!

As the chimes ring out for the start of 2004, we look forward to bringing out another year’s worth (that’s roughly equivalent to 20 issues in old money) of the mighty Starburst. Little do we know, however, what the year is to bring!
The final part of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – Return of the King – is still doing great business early in the New Year, but there is a hint of sadness that one of the greatest epics in cinema history has just about come to a close. Sure, the DVD will be around in another 10 months or so, but the big event everyone looked forward to over the last three years is soon to be gone. Still, it won’t be long before Jackson is announcing his next project: a very large project...

Angel cancelled! This is a grim piece of news so early in the year, especially as many people are sounding the death knell of TV Sci-Fi and Fantasy series. As soon as the announcement is made by network The WB, fans rush into action and organize an online petition to try to save the show. Co-creator of Angel David Greenwalt said: “It’s official enough to be real... it makes Mr Joss Whedon and myself very sad. We just wish it could have gone on forever. Apparently, it’s not going to...”

Less of a boss, more of a chilled-out entertainer... and bomb-maker. Stranger things may have been seen on TV over the years, but the sight of David Brent alter-ego Ricky Gervais as a terrorist in an episode of Alias is definitely in the Top 10. Alias creator JJ Abrams is a big fan of The Office and wrote a part for the actor/writer in the Alias episode Facade. Gervais later says it was the hardest work he’s ever done...

It’s official! Christopher Eccleston is the new Doctor Who. The actor is well-known for roles in Gone in 60 Seconds and The Others, and had recently starred as the Messiah in the TV drama The Second Coming (written by new Who scribe and executive producer Russell T Davies). Appearing on BBC TV’s Breakfast show on the second of the month – lucky it wasn’t the previous day) – Eccleston is very lightly grilled by the smiling presenters.

There is something of an 11th-hour reprieve for the beleagured Star Trek: Enterprise. Falling viewing figures for 2003’s Season Two had seen doubts cast on the future of the franchise, but following an overall improvement in the third season’s epic Xindi threat storyline with its 9/11 overtones, figures picked up. So, the network decides to let Archer and co live for a little longer.

It’s Mr Harry Potter! The young wizard flies back in on the tails of his latest film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third movie in the series so far. This is a dark, more mature film that contains enough moments of ‘peril and Fantasy violence’ to put the wind up the under-10s. Director Alfonso Cuaron took the franchise away from the cosy style Chris Columbus had introduced and made this movie one that relied more on fear and characterization than endless Quidditch matches. The result was, as ever with the Potter films, somewhat overlong, but more satisfying.

by Simon J Gerard

Read more from each month and the rest of the year in
Starburst Special #67

Image © Visual Imagination
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Starburst Special #67
Yearbook 2004
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