Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ABC "Millionaire" presents unusually gifted college students this week; others with unusual accomplishments (like a volunteer surgical nursing assistant)

The “Off to College” series this week on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” continued today with Colin Yost, a valedictorian from a high school in Portsmouth NH, headed for Princeton University.
What was unusual was that paired his valedictory with a flash mob act that parodied Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.  One of the videos got over 2 million hits, the longer one, 150000.  He calls himself “the undercover nerd”.
Yost says he wants to go to medical school and become a heart surgeon (not an oncologist) but the parallel to Jack Andraka at Stanford is interesting  But he also had an unusual project, first observing heart surgeons and then volunteering as a nurse’s assistant.  I wasn’t aware this was even possible without at least being in nursing or medical school already.  It sounds demanding, to say the least.
Either Jack or Colin (or both) could be Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s physician ten years from now.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Matt Damon makes "controversial" comments about actors today on Ellen (should they "come out" when gay?)

Matt Damon appeared on the syndicated Ellen show today (with Ellen DeGeneres) and created controversy when he suggested that actors should keep their private lives mysterious.  That got interpreted as meaning gay actors shouldn’t disclose sexual orientation.

But Damon says he meant that actors are more effective if audiences know less about them. But in the days of social media, some actors (especially 35 and younger) are quite open to interacting with “ordinary” people about a variety of things.  But, true, audiences who feel bonded to actor persona tends to see underlying similarities in every movie, rather than the character portrayed.  (Who would want to imagine the Johnny Depp in the "Pirates" movies as really a mobster?) 

The link for the Ellen clip is here. The Guardian has a story about Damon’s comments here. There were some comments about the Project Greenlight screenwriting and movie direciton contests of 2002 and 2004;  perhaps this suggests there could be another contest in the reasonably near future (2016?) -- for me, this bears watching. 
Also, today, a 17-year-old male college freshman at Stanford appeared on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.  He seemed to have a background in both software development and physics.  He certainly reminded me of both Andraka brothers (Jack has just started at Stanford).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fox adapts "Minority Report" to TV series; "Dash" has to detect pre-crime in a straight bar in DC's gay neighborhood

Fox (“conservative”) has now aired two episodes of its “Minority Report”, with a concept adapted from Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film. 
The series is set in Washington DC in 2065, and apparently Washington has ended its building height limit, as there are many skyscrapers, making the city look more like Charlotte or Atlanta.
The police have this holographic device, rather complicated to operate, that allows trained officers to encapsulate digital avatars of potential suspects and play out the crimes they intend to commit.
Episode 2 is called “Mr. Nice Guy”,   The sentient police officers include Dash (Texas-raised Stark Sands, trained as a classical musician) and Lara (Meagan Good).  As with all such shows these days, the producers are committed to a certain diversity.  It appears that Dash is in a male relationship (which by 2065 really would be everyday stuff).  He’s rather proud of his skills as a cop despite his nice-guy and “smooth” image.
He goes into a straight bar near Dupont Circle (the script doesn’t talk about 17th Street or U Street for that matter) and encounters a potential suspect.  A bit awkwardly, he makes a pass at a young woman with nice shoes to get her away from a potential suspect.  When the boyfriend realizes there is a problem (I’m reminded of a woman named Laura in a Minneapolis bar back in 2001) the boyfriend resists, of course. Dash tases him, and the guy vomits all over the girl’s shoes.  And he gets the wrong guy.
The show may have something in common with “Flash Forward” and even “Quantico” (Sunday) in that the future is in some sense already determined, something that physics might disagree with.
The official site from Fox is here

Do we need to retread old ideas?  I still hope “Imajica” shows up soon. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ABC's "Quantico": An FBI class plays Trump, with a flash forward to a major terror attack

ABC’s new series “Quantico” takes the Trump-style reality contests into fiction.
I don’t know if the FBI Academy at Quantico VA (30 miles south of Washington) weeds out one recruit a day, but the series starts when each recruit (in a class built on diversity) is told by their teacher (Aunjanue Ellis) to find a deeply redacted secret about a fellow classmate within the first day or go home.  Polygraphs are used.

One of the candidates, a conservative gay “Jew” from New York, is told that homosexuality doesn’t count as a secret anymore.  (The FBI accepted gay recruits long before the military DADT was ended, although there is Frank Buttino’s book “A Special Agent” from the 1990s).

The media has hyped the role of Priyanka Chopra’s character Alex Parrish, as well as the Mormon boy (Brian Smith), and a devout Muslim (Yamine al Massri). 

The Pilot (titled “Run”) uses a plot device from “Flash Forward”, to show a terror attack in New York in the future, where at least one candidate is involved.  So who is he or she?

Here is ABC’s official site, link 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brian Williams returns, covering the Pope's visit on MSNBC

Brian Williams has returned to television, on the MSNBC news channel, first on Tuesday September 22  by covering the Pope’s visit to Washington, according to a CNN story here. The Los Angeles Times reported that his coverage had lifted ratings for MSNBC, here

Williams will apparently occur frequently as a news anchor on cable to help strengthen the separate brand for the cable service, which competes with CNN.  But in my own market, I don’t think it has an HD channel.

Brian Williams’s reputation had been tarnished by embellishments of his own participation in conflict journalism.  It is hard to understand how this behavior would creep into the work of a veteran journalist who had “paid his dues” many times.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CNN: "The People's Pope"

Tuesday night CNN aired a Special Report, “The People’s Pope”, to complement the Pope’s visit this week to Washington, Philadelphia and New York, trailer here.   Chris Cuomo hosted.

The film was a straightforward biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  His personality today is much like that as a teen. He had a girl friend as a teen and was apparently headed for a career as a physician as a typical heterosexual married male with his own kids, but at 16 had a sudden religious conversion which is hard for a lay person to explain.

He was quieter than most teens, though, and more reflective.

Early in his career he was fairly authoritarian in his leadership style. Because of his dissent from the established hierarchy, he was “exiled” for a while, before his career resumed.  He did not want to be elected Pope and was relieved when Benedict took over, but was in clear line when Benedict resigned.

The film showed the black and white smoke during the Papal election, as in the 1968 film “The Shoes of the Fisherman”.

Pope Francis has emphasized humility and walking in others’ shoes. He has also emphasized non-judgmentalism, on issues like sexuality and the LGBT community.
The documentary pointed out that many of the old establishment felt that the conservative hard line rules on the teachings of the Church gave Catholicism an “identity”, which might become less distinct under Francis.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NBC's "Blindspot": The Illustrated Lady

Blindspot”, the new series on NBC, starts with the finding of a Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) wrapped in a swaddling duffel bag in Times Square.

Her body is covered in tattoos, and she has no memory of how she got them or how she wound up there.  But she is entirely intact.  For her, life is really a dream.

It this had been done to a white male, the cosmetic consequences would be provocative.
Slowly, some memories come back.

Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) is the detective who will figure this out.

In the Pilot, one of the tattoos uncovers a plot to cause an explosion in the NYC subway, rather like “The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three”.  It would also have involved the Statue of Liberty.

There is a quote of the usual radical stuff, that Americans enjoy their lives on the backs of the poor in the rest of the world, something that sounds more Marxist than Islamist; you used to have

The NBC site is here


Saturday, September 19, 2015

"What the Doctor Ordered": Bizarre mystery doctor's case in Indiana on 20-20

ABC 20-20 “What the Doctor Ordered”, Lindsay Janus reports first from Peru, Indiana.
Allison C. Vance, a local reported, investigated. This is one of the most bizarre crime stories ever reported on 20-20 (or the similar Dateline).

Bruce Embry prosecuted Dr. Gregory Konrath, mountain climber and author of “The Children are Finally Safe”, for plotting his ex-wife’s murder, ABC News story by Eric Strauss and Alexa Valiente, link here.  Konrath had been a well-respected orthopedic surgeon who had volunteered in Haiti, so the apparently two-faced personality (as reported) is perplexing.

When on a vacation to Puerto Rico with a relatively new female friend Joannah, Konrath allegedly started talking to Joannah (would be fiancĂ©e in a “whirlwind romance”) about a plot to eliminate his former wife, Ana.  Joannah secretly recorded the conversation.   But Joannah took the money out of a joint account and went back to Indiana and showed the recording to police.  Police questioned him; but because of the way Indiana law works, he could not be convicted for a “thought crime” or fantasy.  But he did get put on probation for lesser charges.
Konrath, however, would stalk Ana again (despite orders) and then flee, get arrested in Arizona, and wind up serving 10 years.  His manner in the reporter’s interview in an Indiana jail was dispassionate. Remember the 1970 song, “Indiana wants me, but I can’t go back there” with police sirens at the end.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

GOP 2nd Debate at Reagan library underwhelms, if long; "vaccine debate" was out-of-order

I have to admit, I was on the road during the GOP debates, and I wasn’t prepared for the bottom of the ninth. That is, I never found a station playing the debates on my car radio while on the Interstate.  I caught a glimpse of the debates at a service plaza, next to ESPN baseball, which most visitors would rather see.

ABC News has a story on the seven most important changes – that is, in a “World According to Garp” point of view, link here

It seems as though Trump’s sound bites are wearing thin. I think there is something scary about someone obsessed with calling out individual people as “losers” (not just Rosie O’Donnell or even Omarosa) being in office. It's hard to imagine what he will think about the Syrian refugees (or it isn't hard).
Yet, no one else, except maybe former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, gained much.  There is something to be said for having someone who knows the world of Mark Zuckerberg (who is too young) and me (who is too introverted) – in fact, her business knowledge covers the world before the Internet (including EDS, which HP acquired), when technology project management was more “classical”.  Only Fiorina would understand Jack Andraka's idea of revolutionizing health care by teaching programmers how to "code DNA" and implement nanobots. 
Jeb Bush won’t be able to shake the taint of his participation in the 2007 Florida real estate 
meltdown.  Rubio is charismatic, young, and maybe more reasonable. My own choice would be Rand Paul, a "leave you alone kind of guy". 

But all the candidates need to get off the one-liner of ending Obamacare and propose something that will cover everyone.  Even Trump says we have to take care of our sick.  (By the way, real estate and startup business consultant Barbara Corcoran discussed her litigation against Trump tonight on “Access Hollywood”.)

Imagine an all female presidential race in 2016: Fiorina v. Clinton.  
There was something sickening about the vaccine issue coming up.  Trump acts like he believes vaccines really cause autism, and plays on some parental fears. Even Carson said vaccines should be spread out – but reputable medical sources maintain this is not so.  Check out ABC’s sublink on the vaccine debate.

On Thursday, Trump spoke in New Hampshire, and didn't deal with a stupid question about Obama's being a Muslim (which an amazing number of ["stupid"] "white people" believe).  Andersoon Cooper said Trump is afraid to contradict anyone in the audience (except a known opponent, who "wasn't called on"). 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meredith Vieira show depicts beauty contest for women with disabilities

The Meredith Vieira Show, syndicated now on NBC, offered a couple of interesting ideas and guests on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, link here.

One was the appearance of former ‘Nsync singer Lance Bass, author of the autobiography “Out of Sync” in 2007  (Books blog, Nov. 2, 2007).

In the second half of the show, Mel B., from “America Got Talent” joined Meredith to present a beauty pageant for young women with disabilities.


I’ve always found personally supporting an event like that (as if it could be part of my own “calling”) a bit off-putting.  I always had a “take it or leave it” attitude.  Twenty years ago, such events didn’t get much traction, but social media have changed the moral climate to such an extent that support for these events is coming to be anticipated.  Not required but, as Jonathan Rauch says about other things, “expected.” 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"A Path Appears": Episode 1 is "Sex Trafficking in the USA", seems off track for the whole series

Episode 1 of “A Path Appears” (as originally aired on PBS Independent Lens in February 2015) is “Sex Trafficking in the USA”, and it seems more distant from the Kristof-WuDunn notion of providing charity directly to children at the earliest stages of life.

The 75 minute episode covers prostitution in Nashville, TN, Chicago IL, and finally Washington, DC.

Early in the episode, before Kristof appears, even actor George Clooney makes a comment blaming “john’s” as the cause of the problem.

The documentary claims that most women who work in the sex industry were actually brought into the business against their will, often when they were underage.'  

The film mentioned Washington DC as particularly determined to arrest johns. Ashton Kutcher ("A+K") has often run the campaign "Real men don't buy girls". 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NBC Today visits Glacier National Park, Montana (and the ice rivers are shrinking fast)

Sunday morning, NBC Today show aired a report on Glacier National Park in Montana, in a segment called “Harry’s Travels”. 
The focus of the report was on the rapid melting of glaciers, which are shrinking and becoming filled with debris.  In ten years, some of the glaciers will be gone.
There was one hiking trail which looked out directly over a 2000 foot cliff.  But the highest elevation in the park is less than 11000 feet.
I tried to visit the area in May 1981 and found the “Going to the Sun” highway still closed by snow, but probably wouldn’t happen now.
Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. photo by Lindsey Bingston, showing a Grinell Glacier in 2009.  There are comparative photos going back to 1938.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

CBS brings down "The Dome" a bit early, and what's left looks more like the North Carolina coast than Maine's.

It appears that CBS concluded it’s “Under the Dome” series, as an increasingly loose adaptation of Stephen King’s 2009 novel, with a finale called “The Enemy Within”.   The town will have a “new queen”, born under the Dome just before the end.

In some departure from the book, an “experiment” surrounding the complex 1980’s alien artefact (after a fatal fight) creates a chain reaction that brings down the “calcified” Dome.  In another scene, we see some characters “go up” (just as in “Whispers”).

The government has the typical duty to hide the extraterrestrial truth. In one scene, an Army general is advising a young man to sign a “confidentiality agreement”. The camera focuses on the young man’s arms, which suddenly become hairier as the face transforms into an older character.

Then it seems that some of the characters in the “morgue” survived after all.  In the final scene, what looks like a female alien is supervising some boys at play near one of the alien “eggs”. The fact that the series was shot near Wilmington NC is shown by a palmetto in the scene, out of place in Maine.
It’s already been reported that CBS canceled the series, as of the end of this season.  That’s a problem with taking a novel and trying to make an open-ended series, which varies from the book.  Authors sometimes have little control of what happens to the integrity of their work after it is adapted. One reason that this novel is serialized is the huge number of well-developed character with complicated back stories (some reaching back to the earlier hidden 1980’s alien contact).  I wonder what will happen with Clive Barkers “Imajica”, with its comparably sized list of characters (and doppelgangers).

Yes, this series reminds me of "The Truman Show". 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

"A Path Appears": Episode 3 visits one of Africa's biggest slums ("Violence and Solutions")

Episode 3, “Violence and Solutions”, of “A Path Appears”, based on the book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WeDunn, visits two locations:  Atlanta, and Kibera, Kenya.

In Atlanta, Nicholas Kristof and Regina Hall visit the Women’s Resource Center, to meet with Ayonna Johnson, and learn how the legal system creates hurdles for women to escape from domestic violence. A psychologist and educator, Sulaiman Nurridin, representing Men Stopping Violence, works with the male abusers.  This is a problem that happens in every community, but Atlanta (the home of CNN) gets a lot of attention these days in the media for its big-city social problems, even while having many areas of very affluent African-American homeowners. The last time I was landing in a plane there (in 2014) myself, a woman in the next seat pointed to the north, to Marietta, where the Braves baseball team will build an unnecessary new stadium, away from the city and mass transit. You can see into the current system and games in progress while driving down I-75.

But the most interesting part of the film happens in Kibera, Kenya, a “suburb” near Nairobi, and one of the largest slums in Africa (even allowing for apartheid South Africa). There are no utilities, and residents make desperate attempts to divert clean water intended for wealthier areas. Trash and squalor abound everywhere, and the film has many “landscape” and intimate street scenes showing “what it is like”. The weather is cloudy and drizzly, and journalists wear raingear, in a warm climate (but the elevation is about 6000 feet).  Mia Farrow joins, along with her young adult son Ronan Farrow, now building a career as a journalist. The star of the episode is Kennedy Odede, who had won a scholarship for education in the US but returned after getting his degree.  He is married to Jessica Posner Odede, who helps run the “blue-box” Kibera School for Girls. The latter part of this section concerns the abuse of a 4-year-old girl, who turns out to be a 12-year-old boy.
About ten years ago, a young gay male couple, one of whom attends a local Presbyterian church, went to Kenya on a mission.  They had to keep their relationship secret while there but did not encounter problems.

However, we all know the violence in the country, with the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. On the other hand, Prince William of England had vacationed there with Kate well before their marriage, so the rich “play” there on safaris, with little interaction with the people. Next door, Uganda has a horrible record on gay rights (more publicly reported than Kenya’s).

It is difficult for “privileged” young adults to go to countries like this and work there (for mining or oil companies, or for charity groups).  This may become a as big a challenge – in the context of maybe a national service initiative in the future – as conventional military service and deployment (in a world where we no longer have a draft).

I personally don’t connect to “women’s issues” as something apart from everything else – poverty itself and general economic inequality is much bigger (as well as “inequality of opportunity” as in episode 2). I also don’t react immediately to problems caused by “other people’s crimes” – but when things come one’s way, at some point one has to “step up.”

Bill Clinton and Susan Sarandon comment at the end of the episode (as George Clooney does so at the beginning).
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Kibera by Screibkraft (Germany), under Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 License   First picture – Atlanta gay pride parade in 2004, personal trip.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

"A Path Appears": PBS Independent Lens series: Episode 2 ("Breaking the Cycle of Poverty") deals with "inequality of opportunity" in rural West Virginia, Haiti, and Colombia (Kristof and WuDunn)

I discussed the work of journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn on the Books blog Saturday (Sept. 5), after their appearance at the National Book Festival for their new book “A Path Appears” . But viewers may want to watch the three-part series on PBS Independent Lens (ITVS and the "Women and Girls Initiative").  It is “free” on Amazon to Prime members, and rather inexpensive to purchase online. Each episode is about 85 minutes, so it’s close to 4-1/2 hours of viewing time to invest. The husband-wife team had previously authored “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” regarding female participation in developing countries.

I first watched Episode 2: "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty" this morning, directed by Maro Chermayoff.  Kristof and WeDunn examine poverty (particularly for young mothers) in West Virginia (centered around Pt. Pleasant), Haiti, and Colombia.

The episode begins with a prelude (which may exist in all three of them) where George Clooney appears and talks about the natural need within human beings to find meaning in helping those who are least able to take care of themselves.

In his appearance at the Book Festival (as sponsored by the Library of Congress) Saturday, Kristof talked about the fact that a lot of “poor” or disadvantaged people compound their problems with bad decisions.  But one reason is that in these communities babies and toddlers lack the attention needed to develop “normally” so that they can learn to make responsible choices as teens and then adults.  Kristof and WuDunn summarize this specifically as “inequality of opportunity”. 

The first 30 minutes focus on low income residents of trailer parks in West Virginia, near the Ohio River, filmed in winter with snow.  Talking about environmentalism and cutting down on coal is not appreciated (it’s a “thought crime”). Save the Children, one of the largest secular charities, helps run the outreach for poor families and single mothers.  Many people are one car repair away from total destitution and eviction.  But many people are also tempted into the world of drugs, especially meth. Johnny Weethee, op-ed columnist, has written about this part of the report for the New York Times, "When even the starting line is out of reach",  here. 

It’s interesting that Point Pleasant is the location for the 2002 movie “The Mothman Prophecies” (Sony Screen Gems, directed Mark Pellington, with Richard Gere playing a journalist investigating a mystery, also with Laura Linney).

The filmmakers point out that Hurricane Katrina probably woke up a lot of people to domestic poverty, and I suspect they will film another episode about the Gulf later. 

The next segment presented Haiti, a few years after the earthquake. The segment showed aerial or drone photos of the shantytowns on hillsides (with pastel colors), and of the countryside, where most people don’t have electricity or Internet. The episode focused on rescuing a particular girl who had been trafficked into a kind of slavery, in a process called “restavek”.

The last section concerns Colombia, where a businesswoman organizes a home for young single mothers and their children, with the idea of giving the children the necessary head start.

Since Kristof and WuDunn are journalists (WuDunn is viewed as a business executive on Wikipedia) they, by definition, have to keep a certain emotional distance from the people about whom they report.  This is always an “ethical” problem: journalists feel that they “pay their dues” with conflict reporting overseas, or by reporting and going a certain but still circumscribed distance with the people upon whom they report.  But they are professionals.  It’s with “amateurs” like me that the ethical dilemmas really get interesting.

Pictures: Mine, 2012 trip, near the Kayford coal mine in southern W Va.


Friday, September 04, 2015

"Pope Francis and the People": ABC 20-20 with David Muir conducts Internet town hall from the Vatican

Pope Francis and the People”, moderated by David Muir aired on ABC 20-20 Friday evening. The main link is here.

David Muir set up a town hall from the Vatican where Catholic congregations from Los Angeles, Chicago, and McAllen TX could ask questions.  

The Pope lives in a simple apartment rather than the traditional residence, and encourages humility among the cardinals. He does not own a computer or use a cell phone, but he does have a twitter account.  

One question was, “How can I help those in need when I am in need?”  

Muir asks, “do you have a message for the people of the United States”, and he says, “A big Hello.”  
A girl from Chicago asks about bullying. She also sung a rosary solo without accompaniment. 
A single mother was told to find comfort that she had courageously allowed her children to come into the world instead of having abortion.  This did not come across well.  

But then it got really interesting from a moral perspective, at least in my mindset. In McAllen a 17-year-old told about supporting his family and siblings with his father ill. The Pope referred to this is “his family” even though he had not himself caused the children to be brought into the world.   The Pope said “No one can say this is as far as my responsibility goes. We are all responsible for everyone. “  But then a libertarian would say, no one is responsible for anyone.  

Then a girl told of her journey from El Salvador.  

Then Muir visits the locations in New York, Philadelphia and Washington that the Pope will visit this month (September, 2015). The Pope will be the first to address a joint session of Congress.  Expect him to hit inequality.  

The parting message: “I pray for you all, and please pray for me.”

At one point, the Pope said it still was not up to him to judge those who are gay and lesbian. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"Murder on Cape Cod: Who Shot Shirley Reine?" on CNN

Murder on Cape Cod: Who Shot Shirley Reine?” aired on Wednesday night (one hour) on CNN, link here  and here  (Danielle Sloane).

This is an unsolved murder mystery of the shooting of Shirley outside her home in a garage in May 2005 in Falmouth. MA. She was married to Melvin Reine, who had controlled a family trash-hauling business in the southern part of Cape Cod.  He had a controversial history with crime.

Reine would be committed into assisted living involuntarily when he developed dementia.  The ability of family to do that with the court system would itself be controversial (I could speak from my own experience).  What’s more interesting is that step-children had been cut out of his will, setting off a complicated chain of events including a burglary of paperwork in late 2002.  Family inheritance battles can always involve touchy questions.

John Rams was acquitted of the murder, but pleaded guilty to the burglary for “Todd”. 
I drove through some of the nearby area in early August on Route 6, on the way to Provincetown.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

ABC's "The Whispers": When the grownups "go up" the game is over

ABC’s “The Whispers” came to a curious close with Episode 13, “Game Over” Monday night.  (That’s what you say when you get the final out and win a baseball game on the road.)
First, one of the kids most targeted by Drill is protected by a Faraday Cage (a military defense to an EMP attack that a civilian homeowner conceivably could build).  The aliens seem to be something like ball lightning, balls of plasma and energy. 

Soon the Pentagon sees “thousands of points of light” (as per the first George Bush) in the sky.  It tries some sort of flux device to disable the invading aliens, which seem to be riding in on meteorites.

The kids all go out into a field, and the grownups, the parents, all run out, and displace them to save the young.  So a lot of grownups wind up “going up” (like that jogger near Lander, Wyoming in 1997) and getting abducted instead.

So the ending of the series seems to invite a sequel.  What was the aliens’ home planet like?