We’re Launching Our Very Own Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network!
As you know, every year we come up with a reasonably decent enough (completely brilliant) idea for a Hallmark Holiday Movie. And every year the Hallmark Channel Holiday Movie people shoot it down. And it’s always the same excuse.
“Your ‘holiday movie ideas’ are nothing more than blatant attempts to sell Discovery World Gift Certificates and Discovery World Memberships,” they say to us.
“Nuh-uh,” we retort. We were captain of the debate team in high school after all.
“Look,” they say, “You say that Discovery World is a wonderful place where kids and their families can have a tremendous amount of fun together making things, exploring, and learning. You’ve told us that it’s a place where students can perhaps discover a future career in science, technology, engineering, or math. You say Discovery World is a place where kids can explore all kinds of amazing things during the summer. You say it’s a place where teachers without a science background who have been asked to teach science can grow their skillsets and gain confidence. That’s awesome.”
“Aw,” we say. Are we blushing like Jessica Lowndes in the Hallmark Holiday Movie Christmas at Pemberley Manor? Maybe a little.
“That was not an endorsement,” they say. The point is that if that’s true, then you don’t have to pitch silly romantic holiday movie ideas to us.”
“But it’s really fun,” we say.
“Sure. But we don’t need your ideas,” they say. We have entire server farms full of ideas. We could make one silly romantic holiday comedy a day until the sun explodes five billion years from now, and we’d have enough left over to keep making them until the heat death of the Universe.
“Besides, the ideas you’ve pitched to us are pretty much the same holiday movies that are already on the Hallmark Channel. The only real difference is that they take place at Discovery World. And somehow Discovery World Memberships and Discovery World Gift Certificates and the Dine & Discover Holiday Package are plot points.
“Wait. Did my words turn blue? Did you link the words I just said to the relevant pages on the Discovery World website? You did it again! We’re done here. Please don’t come back. Merry Christmas.”
With that, they threw us out of their offices. Nicely, of course. And to be fair, it is pretty rude to hyperlink someone’s words as they’re talking. And they weren’t wrong. We absolutely want people to want Discovery World Memberships (an amazing value!) and Discovery World Gift Certificates (the finest gift certificates that money can buy!) to everyone. But it still stung. Also, the sun will not explode in five billion years. It will expand, become a red giant, and engulf the inner planets. So take that Hallmark Holiday Movie executives.
Anyway, to cheer ourselves up, we sat down and watched the Star Wars Holiday Television Special. That’s when we had an epiphany.
Do you remember where you were when you first saw the Star Wars Holiday Television Special? Of course you do. It was a glorious, monumental achievement of made-for-television filmmaking. Who knew there was such a thing as Wookiee Life Day? Who knew that Chewbacca had a father named Itchy and a son named Lumpy? No one! Not even Chewbacca until he read the script.
We wondered if there were more holiday television specials based on beloved science-fiction franchises out there somewhere. Are they as infinitely wonderful as the Star Wars Holiday Television Special?
So our team of Discovery World researchers immediately scrambled up to the attic. They poured through seventy years of television history.
There were none. As far as we can tell, not a single other beloved science-fiction franchise has even so much as attempted a holiday television special. We realized that it was time to double down. We hastily scribbled a pile of ideas on a napkin, each one better than the last. Better than the Star Wars Holiday Television Special? It’s difficult to say. We’ll let you decide.
Weirdly, only one of the holiday specials ideas we came up with features a Discovery World Membership or Discovery World Gift Certificates or the Dine & Discover Holiday Package as a major plot point. One doesn’t even mention Discovery World at all. Which? Is strange, yes, but that’s okay.
Anyway, we stuffed our idea napkin into our pocket and headed off to Hollywood.
We pitched. We negotiated. We networked. We hired an agent. By the end of the day, we realized that no one was really listening to us. They were listening with their ears, sure, but not with their hearts.
Then we had another idea. Could we, a science center, make these Sci-Fi Holiday Movie Specials ourselves? Could we create our own Holiday TV Movie Network and fill it with the kind of quality sci-fi holiday television specials that you’d expect from a place with its own Bernoulli table?
It turns out that creating a Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network is even easier than dropping a Christmas album. So grab a couple of nogs from the fridge, sit back, and put your feet up. Welcome to the Discovery World Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network. It’s also your 2019 Official Discovery World Gift Guide.
The following sci-fi holiday television specials have been modified from their original versions. They have been formatted to fit your screen and include additional material not in the original release.
Jurassic World: A Dinosaur Christmas Carol
An elderly John Hammond returns to his home on Christmas Eve and falls asleep on his couch. He wakes up when the ghost of his former programmer, the traitorous Dennis Nedry, appears. He rattles an ethereal chain made of Barbasol shaving cream cans and apologizes for shutting down the first Jurassic Park and attempting to steal dinosaur embryos. The guilt, he says, weighs heavy upon him, though not as heavy as the chains he now wears, the chains he forged in life.
Nedry’s Ghost also then on for a bit about how painful it was to get eaten by dinosaurs. Like you, Hammond can see what’s coming a mile away, so he tells the Ghost of Nedry to get on with it. The Ghost tells Hammond that he will be visited by three other ghosts – the Ghosts of Jurassic Parks Past, Present, and Future. Not terribly worried by any of this, Hammond heads off to bed.
The Ghost of Jurassic Park Past, who looks an awful lot like Robert “Clever Girl” Muldoon, takes Hammond through the events of the first three films. Hammond cringes at his hubris, but says that his heart was in the right place. Who wouldn’t want to bring dinosaurs back to life and make a theme park out of it, right? We sure would.
The next night, Hammond is visited by the Ghost of Jurassic Park Present who is played by Chris Pratt. Hammond facepalms when he sees Indomitus rex and mutters, “Does no one ever listen to Ian Malcom?” under his breath. Hammond cheers when Blue the velociraptor and the T-rex battle the Indomitus rex and the Indomitus gets eaten by the Mosasaurus. Hammond squirms a little when Ian Malcom testifies before congress that the dinosaurs should be allowed to die when the volcano erupts. Hammond rolls his eyes when that one girl turns out to be a clone. Then Hammond goes back to bed.
The third night, the Ghost of Jurassic Park Future, in the guise of Mr. DNA, arrives and takes Hammond to Isla Nublar to see what has become of his grand vision. The dinosaurs are gone. The island is destroyed. Ash and dust covers the once verdant landscape. “I just wanted to bring dinosaurs to the world,” cries Hammond. “Was that too much to ask?” As Hammond weeps, all the dinosaurs from all the films, led by Blue, gather and sing Silent Night. Mr. DNA turns to the camera and says, “Seasons Greetings from Jurassic World!”
Hammond wakes up. It’s morning. Christmas day. Sunlight streams through the windows. It was all a dream! Or was it? There is a knock at the door. Hammond opens the door. He is eaten by a velociraptor.
Star Trek: Next Generation – The Santa Gambit
Set in the Star Trek: Next Generation timeline, the Enterprise responds to a distress signal coming from a small Federation planet located near the Neutral Zone. When the Enterprise drops out of warp, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and the crew find that a Borg Cube is attacking the planet.
“We are the Borg,” say the Borg. “We know if you’ve been naughty or nice. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. Ho, ho, ho.”
Puzzled, Picard orders Data, Worf, Commander Troi, and a couple of redshirts to beam aboard the Borg ship. They discover to their horror that the Borg have assimilated Santa Claus.
Commander Troi senses that Santa is struggling against the Borg implants. Picard sends a distress signal to every ship in the quadrant. Back on the Borg Cube, the Borg finally perceive the away team as a threat. The redshirts are quickly assimilated as Data, Worf, and Troi modulate their phasers and open fire on the advancing Borg drones.
Suddenly, hundreds of ships drop out of warp, including the Voyager, the Defiant, all the other Enterprises, the Discovery, and any other ship that has made or ever will make an appearance in any Star Trek episode or movie ever.
Picard makes a plea across the timelines. Everyone needs to believe in Santa Claus. A lot. Captain Janeway, Captain Sisko, Captain Archer, Captain Lorca, and both Captains Kirk send the same message to their own timelines as Borg drones attempt to board the Enterprise.
Back on the Borg Cube, Counselor Troi senses that their belief in Santa is working. And when Ensign Wesley Crusher finally decides that he too believes in Santa, the jolly old elf has enough power to break free from Borg control. Using his Christmas Magic, Santa puts all the Borg to sleep and sends the Cube into a black hole.
Santa thanks Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise for saving him and Christmas. Picard invites Santa to join the crew at the big holiday party in 10 Forward. Santa laughs and says that he would be delighted to join them, but he has to deliver presents to an entire Universe full of children. And he’s already late.
LCdr Geordi La Forge runs a Level 4 Diagnostic on Santa’s sleigh and figures out a way to boost the power output by realigning the magnetic plasma inducers with the warp field generators and rerouting power to the emitter array. Santa’s sleigh is now the fastest ship in the quadrant, so fast that it can almost travel through time. And now Santa has nearly all the time in the world.
The crew of the Enterprise has been so good this year (saving Christmas twice in one afternoon and helping the Romulans defend themselves against the Dominion) that Santa gives each of them a Discovery World Membership.
Because the amazing experiences that you and your crew can have together at Discovery World can’t be made with a replicator.
It’s a Wonderful Face/Off
John Travolta and Nicholas Cage reunite for this heartwarming holiday television special, a sequel of sorts to their 1997 action film Face/Off.
Retired FBI Special Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) is down on his luck. He wrote a book about the time he swapped faces with someone who looked a lot like Nicholas Cage (Nicholas Cage) and saved the city.
The book became a hit movie. He played (and won!) Lip Synch Battle with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. He played a round of Not My Job on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! He was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. But fame is fleeting. His phone has stopped ringing. No one wants to hear his story anymore.
Alone for the holidays for the first time, he’s feeling very, very sorry for himself. After crashing his car on a bridge, Archer decides that he’s had enough. It’s over. He wonders out loud if the world wouldn’t be better off if he had never been born. An angel who looks a lot like Nicholas Cage overhears him and appears in front of Archer. Terrified, Archer jumps into the river.
The angel that looks like Nicholas Cage fishes Archer out of the river and grants him his wish. Archer has never been born. Nothing much changes, though. Someone else saved the city. So Archer decides to start over.
He gets a fake driver license and a job as a manager of a big box retail store. He finds a small apartment. He writes children’s books in his spare time, something he’s always wanted to do. His children’s books are published and sell millions of copies.
Eventually, he plays Not My Job on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! He gets interviewed by Terry Gross. He never makes another appearance on the Tonight Show, but that’s okay.
Archer falls in love. That Christmas, he purchases a Dine & Discover Package that includes a $100 Bartolotta Restaurant Gift Card and a Family or Grandparents Discovery World Membership for his girlfriend. Over a romantic dinner at a fabulous Bartolotta Restaurant, he proposes. She says yes.
The angel who looks a lot like Nicholas Cage worries that he won’t get his wings because Archer didn’t learn whatever lesson he was supposed to learn and beg for his old life back. But then he remembers that Archer once traded faces with someone who looked like Nicholas Cage. That’s gotta change a guy. And Archer is happy, so the angel decides to roll with it.
Alien vs. Predator vs. Christmas in Rockefeller Center
Set in 1986 and inspired by Rankin/Bass holiday classics of yore, Alien vs. Predator vs. Christmas in Rockefeller Center features the famous Rankin/Bass-style stop-motion animation loved by children around the world.
It also features the timeless voice talents of Danny Kaye, Willard Scott, Al Roker, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Burl Ives, and Tony Bennett, with Mickey Rooney as the voice of New York Mayor Ed Koch, the Alien Xenomorph queen, and all the Predators. Or it would’ve if all these wonderful, talented people were available. Some are… very not available.
Anyway, a snowman that is also Burl Ives says some things vaguely related to the plot. Then Snowman Burl Ives sings “Silver and Gold” as a team of Predators pursue an Alien Xenomorph queen across the galaxy all the way to Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York City. It is early December, and an enormous crowd has gathered to watch the tree lighting ceremony. The Xenomorph queen attacks as Tony Bennett sings “No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.
The Predators land and warn the Today Show talent covering the event that the Xenomorph queen must not be allowed to escape Rockefeller Center Plaza or the world will be in grave danger. The Today Show hosts spring into action.
Al Roker and Willard Scott grab their umbrellas and charge the Xenomorph queen wile a facehugger takes out Bryant Gumbel.
New York City Mayor Ed Koch distracts the Alien by presenting her with a key to the city. As she accepts the key, Jane Pauley and the Predators take her down.
For her courage and bravery, the Predators honor Jane Pauley, as is custom. NBC promptly replaces her with Deborah Norville. Which? Is weird because that didn’t happen in real life until 1990. So prescient, these Rankin/Bass Holiday Specials.
Anyway, after the tree is lit and the crowd clears, and after the Predators leave in their spaceship, a chestburster erupts from Bryant Gumbel’s chest. It immediately attacks Snowman Burl Ives who was about to sing a song. Snowman Burl Ives bashes it over the head with his banjo, saving the world from the sequel.
Snowman Burl Ives sings “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” as Discovery World Gift Certificates fall from the sky like snow. Excited New Yorkers pluck them out of the air and use them for general admission to Discovery World, sails aboard Discovery World’s Tall Ship, the S/V Denis Sullivan, Summer Camps, and Discovery World Memberships. The holidays are saved. The world is happy again. The end.
Terminator 21: The Littlest Terminator
December 24, 1992. Four years, eight months, and five days before Skynet, the Artificial Intelligence that will control the United States’ nuclear arsenal, initiates the nuclear Armageddon that will be known as Judgement Day.
In order to prevent John Connor from becoming the future leader of the human resistance against the machines, Skynet sends yet another Terminator back in time to make John Connor’s one big Christmas wish come true. This Terminator, played by Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30 Rock), is an early (and somewhat buggy) model, a T-4 that’s never been all that good at terminating. Its microprocessors have never really been in it. So this T-4 has one last chance before it gets recycled. Its mission is to go back in time to make John Connor’s one big Christmas wish come true.
All young John Connor wants for Christmas is a Discovery World Membership. He wants to spend a whole year exploring science and technology, design, engineering, chemistry, coding, and freshwater science. As he sleeps, he dreams of having fun, making incredible projects, and spending time with his mom. His mother, Sarah Conner, is preparing John to become the future leader of the human resistance against the machines. So John will be getting tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons for Christmas instead.
As the family sleeps, the T-4 dresses up like Santa and slides down the chimney, steals the tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons from underneath the tree. It replaces them with a Discovery World Membership. Before the T-4 can escape, another Santa slides down the tree. A bigger, much more imposing Santa. It’s another Terminator, a T-800 that’s dressed like Santa, speaks with an Austrian accent, and could easily be mistaken for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Future John Connor, the leader of the human resistance against the machines, has sent the T-800 back in time to stop the T-4 and put the tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons back under the tree.
The T-4 and T-800 meet face to face. The T-4 looks up at the T-800, knowing that it’s hopelessly outmatched. It doesn’t want to be terminated. It doesn’t want to fail and be recycled.
“Oh, Mr. T-800, I know what you’re here to do. And well played, future John Connor. But if I don’t complete my mission, the Machines are going to turn me into scrap metal. And I know I’m not supposed to care about that, what with being a machine and all, but I kind of like being alive. I don’t know if it’s the soft falling snow, the stockings hung by the chimney with care, the embers in the fireplace, or the cookies and milk on the table over there, but I just don’t want to be a terminator anymore, and I could really use a miracle. Please don’t terminate me, Mr. Terminator. Please. It’s Christmas, after all.”
“I cannot be reasoned with. I cannot be bargained with. I do not feel pity or remorse. And I absolutely do not stop. Ever. But it is Christmas,” says the T-800. “Take the Discovery World Membership and go.”
“Thank you, Mr. Terminator,” says the T-4, tears welling in his eyes. Thank you! You won’t regret it. I promise. Merry Christmas!”
The T-4 turns to leave. Just then, the air fills with a thunderous, “Ho, ho, ho!” Then the real Santa slides down the chimney. Santa convinces the T-800 that a Discovery World Membership is just the thing to help prepare John Connor to become a leader and innovator, maybe a scientist or an engineer. Santa helps the T-800 envision a future where the machines never take over. The T-4 puts the Discovery World Membership back underneath the tree. The T-800 scribbles a note to the family and whispers, “I won’t be back.” The T-4 and T-800 leave.
John Connor spends the year exploring Discovery World with his mom, and they have a tremendous amount of fun while learning about technology. Eventually, John graduates from MSOE with a degree in computer engineering. He joins the plucky Silicon Valley startup that will one day become Skynet. He programs the AI to be intelligent and compassionate, to better understand humans.
Judgement Day never happens. The world is saved. Humans and machines live together in peace and harmony. John Connor does jiu-jitsu for fun and fitness. And most importantly, the Terminator franchise finally comes to a satisfying conclusion. All because of the gift of a Discovery World Membership.
A Replicant for the Holidays
The year is 2051, two years after the events of Blade Runner: 2049. Instead of tracking down and eliminating rogue replicants, K and Deckard travel around the world (and off-world) teaching the replicants about the True Meaning of the Holidays and handing out Discovery World Gift Certificates.
“I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” a replicant tells Deckard and K. “A massive, kinetic, DNA sculpture inside a helical staircase. I watched paddlefish feeding on plankton in the Great Lakes tank. All those moments happened at Discovery World. Time for another visit! Thanks for the gift certificates!”
We made a few versions of this made-for-TV holiday special. They’re all good. The one without the narration is the best. Is Deckard a replicant? Maybe? We’re too filled with holiday joy to care one way or the other.
A Very Matrix Thanksgiving
This is the only Thanksgiving special idea that we had. Imagine if Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was set in the Matrix universe. And imagine if instead of Steve Martin and John Candy, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles starred Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving. Awesome, right?
So this holiday television special takes place between the second and third Matrix films. Or maybe somewhere inside the second Matrix film. Maybe it takes place in an alternate Matrix universe. Something like that. Obviously, it’s wouldn’t be considered canon.
Anyway, it’s a few days before Thanksgiving. Neo and Agent Smith are stranded in a subway station. They are prisoners of the Trainman, a program loyal to the Merovingian. And if you understood that last sentence, you are an even bigger fan of the Matrix movies than we are.
Neo just wants to make it back to Zion in time for Thanksgiving. Agent Smith also wants to make it home, wherever home is for him. And he wants to destroy Neo, because that is his purpose.
In an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight, Neo and Agent Smith team up to defeat the Trainman. Smith then turns on Neo.
After another exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that neither of them really win, the two agree to temporarily stop trying to destroy each other because it’s the holidays. They just want to get home. Neo and Agent Smith set out for the airport, only to have their flight diverted to Kansas because of a blizzard.
They board a train, but it breaks down. They get a rental car, but Agent Smith accidentally sets it on fire. The two spend the night in a cheap hotel room. The next morning, Agent Smith decides to give up. He simply won’t make it home for the holidays. Neo suddenly remembers that he’s in the Matrix and that none of it is real. He sets out to find a telephone that will get him out of the Matrix.
Before Neo leaves, Smith asks, “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why keep fighting to get home? Do you even know? Is it to see your friends? Could it be for the turkey and stuffing? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as the Detroit Lions. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can’t go home. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”
Neo says, “Because I like cranberry sauce.”
Agent Smith sits down and looks sad. Neo leaves. After a minute, he comes back and asks Smith what he’s still doing there.
Agent Smith admits that he was supposed to have Thanksgiving dinner with the Oracle and the Architect, but he’s not invited anymore because of his relentless drive to corrupt the Matrix and all the damage he has caused.
Neo asks Agent Smith if he would like to have Thanksgiving dinner with him, Trinity, Morpheus, and everyone in Zion instead. After an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that neither of them really win, Smith agrees.
Later that evening, Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Agent Smith sit around the table, laughing and talking. Morpheus asks Agent Smith to pass the sweet potatoes. After an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that no one really wins, Smith passes the sweet potatoes and declares that he now understands the true purpose of the holidays. He doesn’t like them, but he understands them.
The next day, Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Agent Smith spend the day at Discovery World making really cool projects in the Kohl’s Design It! Lab, exploring the aquariums, experiencing virtual reality, and talking with Santa.
To remember their fantastic day together, they each purchase a stylish Milwaukee Home Discovery World t-shirt! Available in youth sizes (2T, 3T, 4T, and 5T) for $5 and adult sizes for $10, these shirts make a fantastic stocking stuffer. And they’re only available at Discovery World.
And the best part? Not a single, exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight happens. And everyone wins.
Pacific Rim 3: Holiday Uprising
It’s the Holidays in the year 2040, five years after the events of Pacific Rim: Uprising. And while everyone on Earth celebrates, the Precursors send wave after wave of giant kaijus through all the interdimensional portals. Then everyone in the world sings Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. The kaijus explode and humanity is saved.
And That’s the Lineup for the Discovery World Sci-Fi Holiday Television Network
We hope you love these timeless holiday classics as much as we do.
Even though none of the major studios were remotely interested in our ideas, we learned something. We learned what’s important to us. And what’s important to us, besides building on the legacy of the Star Wars Holiday Television Special and creating what are inarguably the greatest sci-fi television holiday specials on Earth, is being the best science center that we can be. For you and your family. For the community. For the world.
Sure, we took a shot at Hollywood, and it didn’t work out. But so what? That’s life. And nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it isn’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!
Wait. Hang on. That’s from Rocky Balboa. Did Stallone ever do a Rocky Holiday TV Special? We just had another really great idea!
We’re off to find Sylvester Stallone! We wish you and yours the merriest of Merry Christmases, the happiest of Happy Holidays, and all the very best in the New Year.
Although it’s been said many times, many ways, mostly by us…