SciFi Weekend: Seven Doctors; Star Trek Backs Hope & Change; The Week’s Shows; and Candidates Meet SciFi

All the surviving actors who have played The Doctor are reportedly going to appear together in a Doctor Who will return for a special mini-episode for the Children In Need charity night. Last year Peter Davison appeared with David Tennant in Time Crash (video here). Comic Book Resources has some rumors about Doctor Who, including Tom Baker returning to a role on the show and a possible name for the next Doctor:

My last couple of Doctor Who leaks were fairly solid — Neil Gaiman to write 2010 “Doctor Who” and Tom Baker returning to the series proper in an unnamed role. Both have been bubbling under ever since. The next one is not so tied down. It’s still rather up in the air. But it’s quite a possibility.

The sixth series of “Doctor Who” (2011) will star Paterson Joseph as The Doctor.

Previously playing Roderick in the “Doctor Who” episodes “Bad Wolf”/”Parting Of Ways,” Joseph is known for fine upstanding and terribly-well-spoken-dontcha-know roles as Johnson in “Peep Show,” the Marquis De Carabas in “Neverwhere,” Space Marshall Clarke in “Hyperdrive,” Lyndon in “Green Wing”…

…and more importantly Benjamin in “Jekyll.” Written and produced by upcoming “Doctor” Who showrunner, Steven Moffat.

If true, it’s a great call on Moffat’s part. A damn fine call. Paterson has a very British Authority approach to many of his characters, comparable with Jon Pertwee. It’s not a traditional choice, but then neither was Christopher Eccleston. And, like I say, it’s bloody brilliant.

The upcoming Star Trek movie made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Considering how far Star Trek has fallen in recent years, the reboot by J. J. Abrams is probably our best shot of reviving the series. Still, I have reservations about how he will go about it. These reservations were increased by this passage:

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ”All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” he says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience.” Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount’s offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ”that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ”We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,” says Weston. ”Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn’t going to work.”

Star Wars type action would do better at the box office, but that is not what Star Trek is about. If Star Trek is turned into this type of mindless entertainment it is not worth reviving. Still, having a major movie might lead to a revival as a television series. Star Trek has always been at its best as a television series, and a revived series has a far better chance of being true to Gene  Roddenberry’s vision than an individual movie. There is also some hope for the movie as the paragraph after the one quoted above goes on to say:

Abrams says he was also drawn to the project because he believed in — and wanted to evangelize — Trek‘s unabashed idealism. ”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams, whose infectiously upbeat energy and disdain for cynicism are among his most marked attributes.

There are some spoilers regarding the plot of the movie:

Star Trek‘s time-travel plot is set in motion when a Federation starship, the USS Kelvin, is attacked by a vicious Romulan (Eric Bana) desperately seeking one of the film’s heroes. From there, the film then brings Kirk and Spock center stage and tracks the origins of their friendship and how they became officers aboard the Enterprise. In fact, the movie shows how the whole original series crew came together: McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoë Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The adventure stretches from Earth to Vulcan, and yes, it does find a way to have Nimoy appearing in scenes with at least one of the actors on our cover — and maybe both. The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu’s swordsmanship to classic lines like, ”I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” More ambitiously, the movie subversively plays with Trek lore — and those who know it. The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling ”Heresy!” But revisionism anxiety is the point. ”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”

The message of Star Trek is also tied into this year’s presidential election:

Is the world ready again for Trek‘s optimistic vision of the future? Some involved with the film suspect the presidential election may have a dramatic effect on how Star Trek will be perceived. ”This is a franchise that offers hope for unity — and so does Barack Obama,” says Quinto, who has stumped for the Democratic presidential nominee. ”When this movie comes out, and Obama is president, hopefully there will be some parallels.” Perhaps, but the elder Spock knows that moments of unity can be fleeting. ”My only regret is that the movie can’t come out sooner,” Nimoy says. ”I think the world could use it. Don’t you?”

Life on Mars hasn’t been doing too well in the ratings but has been receiving excellent reviews. The second episode, like the first, was based pretty closely on the BBC episode, with the show reportedly going to begin diverging more. The potential science fiction aspects of the show are maintained by having Sam consider the various possibilities as to how he is now living in the past. His theories include the eventual explanation in the BBC version, which I won’t mention to avoid spoiling the series. For those who are aware of the explanation on the original, there have been reports that the American version might wind up with a different explanation. This week’s episode also also included brief connections between past and present, from messages in the clouds to a small robotic character.

We had a major advance on the plot, and a major revelation, on Heroes. It appeared that  Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) hired Daphne (Brea Grant) to steal the formula, except it turned out that Maury Parkman (Alan
Blumenfeld) was responsible for both this appearance of Linderman and Nathan Petrelli’s visions of Linderman. This was orchestrated by Arthur Petrelli (Robert Forster) who is on the opposite side of the battle from Mama Patrelli.

The second half of the season will be entitled Fugitives and will add a new member to the cast–Zeljko Ivanek, who won an Emmy for Damages. He will appear as a character named the Hunter who presumably wind up hunting the other heroes, making them fugitives.

On Fringe, Olivia Dunham has visions of John Scott (Mark Valley). While his appearances turned out to solely be in her mind (perhaps similar to Six in Baltar’s mind on Battlestar Galactica.) While only being in her mind, his messages had too much bearing on current concerns to be written off as mere hallucinations. Walter provides a possible explanation that a previous experiment connecting her to Scott’s mind may have imprinted her with his consciousness, experiences, and thoughts.

Is a few brief news items, nine more episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been ordered to complete the season this year. Mad Men has been renewed for a third season. The concluding ten episodes of Battle Star Galactica will begin airing on January 16.

And finally, there are science fiction connections to the candidates this year. Gawker reports that Sarah Palin  appears in Tales From the Crypt (cover above.) We also learned of a science fiction/comic connection for Barack Obama. At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Obama joked, “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”

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