SciFi Friday: More Heroes Cast Additons, Doctor Who, and Jerry Was a Man

The cast of Heroes has been expanded for next season to include the population of the planet Earth. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but they sure are adding a lot of cast members. At one time Boston Legal appeared like a home for former Star Trek cast members in having both William Shatner and Rene Auberjonois (Odo) in the regular cast along with Armin Shimerman (Quark) appearing in an arc. Next season only Shatner will remain as a regular, but Heroes is moving well beyond Boston Legal’s record. Heroes started with George Takei (Sulu) last season and then actually made their own Star Trek star when Zachary Quinto (Sylar) was chosen to play Spock in next year’s Star Trek movie. Next season Heroes is also adding Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed from Enterprise).

I’ve already posted on the addition of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars). Heroes will also be adding a second former star of Alias, David Anders (Sark), to join Steve Grunberg. Other additions include Stephen Tobolowsky of Deadwood and Jessica Collins of The Nine.

With all these additions to the cast of Heroes, The Boston Globe asks if the show is overreaching.

USA Today has interviewed Zachary Quinto regarding his upcoming role as Spock. Quinto appears to verify rumors that the movie will take place before the events of the original television show:

“I really identify with Spock’s struggle,” he says. “We’re going back to a time before anything (Nimoy did in the original series) was established. These characters are in a completely different stage of their lives.”

Heroes isn’t the only show to make news with new cast members this week. I’ve recently posted on the controversial addition of Janeane Garofalo to the cast of 24.

Doctor Who might be having an old cast member joining for an episode next season. While it is unconfirmed, Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh Doctor, apparently let it slip that Peter Davision, the fifth Doctor, will be appearing in a multi-doctor episode. As time travel is an integral part of the show, it has long been a staple to have periodic episodes in which several different versions of The Doctor meet each other.

This week SciFi Channel shows Human Nature, the first part of one of the best episodes of Doctor Who ever produced. I’ll avoid any spoilers for those who have not seen both parts of this story this yet. (I have previously discussed both parts of this two-part episode here for those who have already seen them).

The third of four episodes of Masters of Science Fiction last week featured an adaptation of a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, Jerry Was A Man. The original story dealt an attempt by a genetically modified chimpanzee to achieve human rights. The story was altered to deal with a robotic being which also contains a small amount of human DNA. Instead of a serious story on human rights, the episode was played largely as a comedy decreasing its impact. Star Trek: The Next Generation handled this topic much better when Data went on trial to argue that he was not property which could be disassembled. With some believing we might have the potential to develop intelligent self-aware robots in the foreseeable future, the issue of robot rights has received serious attention.

With so much to watch, and much of it available on high definition television, those regular DVD’s just are not looking as great as they did when the format was new. I’ve held off on going to a high definition disc format to see how the war between HD DVD and Blue-ray would pan out. There were developments this week when Panasonic and Dream Works went with HD DVD and Fox went with Blue-ray. Unfortunately this only confuses the matter even more.

Obama Makes Up For Loss of “Obama Girl” With Major Endorsement

Hillary Clinton might have picked off the support of The Obama Girl, but Barack Obama did get a significant endorsement of his own today. Zbigniew Brzezinski has endorsed Obama, saying he has a better global grasp.

Obama “recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America’s role in the world,” Brzezinski said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt.”

“There is a need for a fundamental rethinking of how we conduct world affairs,” he added. “And Obama seems to me to have both the guts and the intelligence to address that issue and to change the nature of America’s relationship with the world.”

Brzezinski also sided with Obama, who was criticized by Clinton as being “irresponsible” and “naive” for saying he would meet in his first year as president with leaders of adversaries such as Iran and Syria. “What’s the hang-up about negotiating with the Syrians or with the Iranians?” Brzezinksi said. “What it in effect means” is “that you only talk to people who agree with you.”

Unlike Obama Girl Amber Lee Ettinger, who announced her decision to switch her support to Clinton, Brzezinski has not announced any plans to pose for Playboy.

Obama Girl Posing For Playboy, Voting for Hillary

Amber Lee Ettinger, better known as The Obama Girl, tells Stepping Out that she is voting for Hillary. In an interview she stated, “I have to say I’m very impressed with Hillary Clinton. I watched the recent debates and I liked a lot of her answers!”

Maybe she is offended by Obama’s recent comments which I quoted here.

Amber’s video has been viewed well over three million times. She will also be in the October issue of Playboy.

Update: Amber has returned to support Obama with a new video.

Clinton Claims Superiority on Political Debate over Terrorism

Hillary Clinton has made the controversial attack of the day on her rivals for the nomination without naming anyone by name. Clinton speculated that a terrorist attack before the 2008 elections might help the Republicans:

“It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself, ‘What if? What if?’ But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world,” Clinton told supporters in Concord.

“So I think I’m the best of the Democrats to deal with that,” she added.

The former first lady made the surprising comments as she explained to supporters that she has beaten back the GOP’s negative attacks for years, and is ready to do so again.

The underlying presumption is at least partially correct. If there is a terrorist attack there is no doubt that the Republicans will use this as an argument for why they must remain in power. That does not necessarily mean this will work.

Due to political posturing which was as masterful as their actual response to terrorism was incompetent, the Republicans won victories in 2002 and 2004 by convincing voters that they could do the most to keep the country safe. In reality, George Bush made the wrong decision virtually every step of the way, from ignoring the pre-attack warnings and recommendations from the Clinton administration for dealing with al Qaeda to ultimately attacking the wrong country. Bush both assisted bin Laden with one of his major goals of overthrowing secular middle east governments and in increasing recruitment for al Qaeda. If George Bush had been a sleeper agent for al Qaeda he couldn’t have done very much more to help bin Laden and undermine our national security short of openly taking direct military action against the United States.

While Republicans received undeserved credit for fighting terrorism in the 2002 and 2004 elections, an increasing number of voters have realized that Bush’s actions have made us less safe. While there is the possibility that some might return to voting for the Republicans due to believing their empty rhetoric on terrorism, it is also possible that even more would see another terrorist attack as a failure of Republican policies on terrorism. A second terrorist attack on their watch could doom the Republicans in 2008 as Katrina did in 2006.
Hillary Clinton is correct that it will be necessary for the Democratic candidate to beat back the Republican claims about terrorism, which is actually the case regardless of whether there is another attack. It is far from clear that Clinton is the best person to do this.

This isn’t the first time that Clinton claimed an unsubstantiated advantage over Democratic rivals on terrorism. In February she repeated right wing talking points on terrorism:

Clinton also sought to draw a contrast with some of her Democratic rivals on the issue of terrorism. “Some people may be running who may tell you that we don’t face a real threat from terrorism,” she said. “I am not one of those.”

This not only misrepresents the views of Clinton’s opponents but plays right into the right wing talking points. Clinton also played into the right wing talking points when she accepted the claims from the right that John Kerry’s botched joke about George Bush getting us stuck in Iraq was an attack on the troops.

With this history of playing into right wing talking points, it is far from clear why Clinton might be the best Democrat to face the right should there be another terrorist attack. Her assumption that such an attack would benefit the Republicans can be taken as yet another example of playing into their talking points.

Clinton would face yet another obstacle in taking on the Republicans over terrorism in light of her previous support for the war. We saw John Kerry struggle with this in 2004 following his vote in favor of the Iraq War Resolution. Even Kerry’s many public statements advising Bush against going to war did not prevent the Republicans from portraying him as a flip flopper by distorting the meaning of the IWR. Clinton, lacking Kerry’s track record of opposing the war before it began, would have an ever harder job of credibly attacking the full Bush foreign policy.

Should the 2008 election come down to a battle over who is more qualified to handle terrorism, regardless of whether there is another attack, Democrats would be best off with a candidate who opposed Bush’s policy from the start. This leaves Barack Obama as the strongest of the major candidates, and also provides an argument for Al Gore should he decide to enter the race. Even Bill Richardson would have an advantage over Clinton in light of his foreign policy experience. Clinton has no argument beyond her claims of being more experienced in attacking the right wing noise machine but, as I note above, her record has been imperfect in this battle.