ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
While we're on the subject of reinvention, science fiction geeks were thrown into a tizzy of intergalactic proportions yesterday because of this news. Director J.J. Abrams is set to direct the next movie in the "Star Wars" franchise. NPR's Neda Ulaby says this is a perfect storm for fans.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: A perfect storm because we're talking about J.J. Abrams. His TV show "Lost" drove fans to obsessive distraction with its arcane mythology.
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ULABY: Then, he thrilled even hardcore Trekkies with his reboot of "Star Trek" a few years ago.
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ULABY: But here's how cultural critic Alyssa Rosenberg describes her response to the news.
ALYSSA ROSENBERG: I will admit to doing a somewhat Dart Vader-like wail of despair.
ULABY: J.J. Abrams is a safe choice, but so, so boring, Rosenberg says. They could have picked Chris Nolan, who brought such style and unsettling intelligence to "The Dark Knight" or fanboy favorite Joss Whedon, who resurrected "The Avengers." She blames the corporate media consolidation that happened when Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm.
ROSENBERG: This is making decisions on directors as quality control.
ULABY: And how unfair, Rosenberg says, for one person to control two of the biggest science fiction franchises in the world. And especially since she does not think that Abrams seems interested in plumbing issues science fiction has explored so brilliantly.
ROSENBERG: Torture and commitment to causes and what happens when people have access to certain kinds of weapons, as well as about magic and small furry creatures running around Moon-like planets.
ULABY: Look on the bright side, says comedian Andre Meadows. J.J. Abrams could unleash the ultimate fan fiction crossover. Just imagine, "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" mashed up together.
ANDRE MEADOWS: Make Kirk a Jedi and then just all of a sudden the Enterprise goes by, like you don't even mention it. Like, you just - it just flies in the background. You're just like, what, wait a second. What was that?
ULABY: Meadows says no matter what, Abrams is sure to deliver a better picture than the last three "Star Wars" disasters. Still, Abrams would not have been his first choice.
MEADOWS: I would love to have seen Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Star Wars, Madea the Jedi.
TYLER PERRY: (As Madea) Say something. Say one more thing. I will pimp slap you. Say it again.
MEADOWS: I think there is some good story lines in that, you know. I'm just saying, if this doesn't work out, if episode 7 ends up being a disappointment, Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Space.
ULABY: May the force be with her. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.