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To The Producer of

by B. Russell

Dear Mr. David Schlepowski,
Producer of ENERGY BLOCK:

First off, I would like to say that I am the biggest fan of your show. I have all 22 episodes of the first season of ENERGY BLOCK taped (only for personal use, of course; I would never do you the dishonor of distributing illegal copies to my friends), as well as the official first-season ENERGY BLOCK episode guide, the official ENERGY BLOCK technical manual, the full set of collector's figurines and the Burger King Limited Edition Energy Cups. If anything, I am left wanting more products related to your show; you can rest assured that as long as ENERGY BLOCK continues to provide the quality entertainment I have come to expect every Friday at 10:30PM, I will continue to shell out my hard-earned cash to support this most worthy of shows.

That being said, this new season, while it has brought many surprises (and delights, I might add), has also brought an unwelcome change. Again, I must add that you have done a brilliant job adapting ENERGY BLOCK as a Sci-Fi Channel original series from its humble origins as a video game (and before that, a graphic novel). I am not writing to criticize the overall show, which I think has been amazing, and in general the slight changes in cast and set design have been for the better. But I must put my foot down, and I think other die-hard fans would agree, that Johann Brenner was not the appropriate replacement for the role of Dr. Georg Feldefesh.

Believe me, I understand the situation ENERGY BLOCK was in. Anyone who had been following the discussions on Slashdot would know about the concern over sluggish ratings (I would comment that many science fiction series struggle in their first season; it takes a while to build a loyal fanbase, but once they come they will serve you well. Hang in there!), and who does not know about the nasty contract dispute you had with the role's former actor, Leon Chopar. Nevertheless, your desire for a quick ratings fix and the subsequent hiring of former Listerine model Johann Brenner was a terrible mistake, as it discredits the integrity of the show. What were you thinking?

It's true that Johann is a young and attractive actor whose sex appeal is likely to bring in some female viewers in the short run. But Dr. Feldefesh was not meant to be a sex object; he is the strange and eccentric genius that helps configure the strange ENERGY BLOCK and harness its powers. Leon did a brilliant job with the part, adding the eye-twitch and slight limp that put him in just the right contrast to the other team members. Leon was not a looker, but he didn't have to be: he made his character gritty and real, and that is just what the role demands.

In contrast, Johann has literally mangled the part. Appearing in the second season without warning, he made the Doctor almost unrecognizable; the eye-twitch and limp are gone, and the brown curly locks have been replaced by spiked blonde hair and an ivory-toothed smile. When I watched the season premiere I had no idea who this person was supposed to be for the first few minutes. If it weren't for the complex system of clicks and grunts that the Doctor uses to communicate with the crew, he would have been completely unrecognizable. The fact is, ENERGY BLOCK isn't Baywatch, and it shouldn't be cast that way.

It is my firmest conviction that this is the wrong path to take. ENERGY BLOCK thrives on a delicate chemistry between the three main characters, and this obvious bid for ratings will upset that chemistry and ultimately cost the show fans in the long run. You should make every effort to Re-hire Mr. Chopar, and if you insist on keeping Mr. Brenner on, make him the Doctor's Bitch (This has precedent, for instance in Episode 13, The Domestic Dispute).

This is not to say that every cast change on ENERGY BLOCK has been for the worse. When you replaced Stacey Valencia, who plays Marcy Walther, the beautiful and street-savvy waitress who first encounters and bonds with the mysterious cube of energy, with former Playboy model Ilana Boblans, it worked. I was skeptical at first, but then I realized, as I'm sure you did, that Marcy Walther has to be the attractive bombshell that drives the sexual dynamics of the show. (Ilana has a fantastic stage presence, by the way, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her on the big screen. Perhaps in a full-length feature of ENERGY BLOCK? Here's hoping.) It was a brilliant re-casting that noticably enhanced the character interactions, and I commend you for your decision.

But sometimes the best casting decision is to keep what you have. This is especially the case for Fel Jender, who is as you know played by the multi-talented former Broadway star Peter Bohr. Peter is the glue that holds ENERGY BLOCK together, and I am not alone in contending that he is indispensable. His brilliant portrayal of the witty, roguish team leader (along with the show's clever writing, I might add) is what has earned the program its small but tirelessly-loyal following. (If you could tell him I said hi, I would greatly appreciate it, by the way.) While I would not say Leon is a deal-breaker in the same sense, it has certainly cost the show to have him gone. 'Kudos to you, Mr. Lexington. BAD Kudos,' as Fel likes to say. ENERGY BLOCK just isn't the same without Leon.

So in closing, please bring Leon Chopar back to ENERGY BLOCK!!! I want to reiterate that I absolutely adore the show, and I hope you will take my well-placed points of criticism to heart, as I am sure that we both want what's best for your Nebula-Award-winning series, ENERGY BLOCK. I am eager to watch the rest of ENERGY BLOCK's second season, which hopefully will reveal the strange origins of that block of weird energy of alien origins which transports the team through space and time. I just hope the real Dr. Feldefesh will be there to see it.

Best wishes,

Bayard Russell
ENERGY BLOCK's biggest fan


 go back, i guess