SciFi Weekend: True Blood Season Finale; Super Geek to Guest on Big Bang; Patrick Stewart Closes Door on Jon Luc Picard; Megan Fox on SNL; and Dollhouse Sneak Peak

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The season finale of True Blood has aired, resolving the major storyline but leaving many open for next year. (I’ll leave out the specifics for those who might not have viewed the episode yet.) The finale ended by setting up season three, the search for Bill.  Before the finale aired, TV Squad interviewed Alan Ball. Here are some of the questions:

I asked my TV Squad readers what they wanted me to ask you, and one of their main questions involves the books. Some feel the show doesn’t follow the books closely enough. Your thoughts on that?

I think a book and a television show are two different mediums. If I were to follow the books, it would be all about Sookie, because Sookie narrates the story, and the other characters would rarely even show up. Jason would come into the bar and hug her in an attempt to make people think he loves his sister so he can pick somebody up. Tara wouldn’t even have existed until this season, and she’d be white. Lafayette would be dead.

So all I can say to those people is, it’s based on the books, but it’s not a literal adaptation of the books. I’m doing what I think is the best way to turn that story into a television show. Also, if I just stuck to the books, there would be no surprises. You could go pick up the books anywhere and know exactly what was coming. So personally, I don’t see any benefit of making a carbon copy of the books for TV.

Will Eric be a bigger part of the show in season three? Will he and Sookie get together?

I can’t tell you if they’re going to get together, because that’s going to ruin the anticipation. But, if you’ve been following season two, he’s definitely been doing things to make her more vulnerable and more susceptible to him. And he does want her, he’s just not sure why. I think it’s deeper than just, “I want her because Bill Compton has her.” Although that’s part of it, because Eric is a total alpha-dog.

Yeah, that opening scene in “Frenzy” [of Eric and Sookie in bed together] was cool, but it kind of made me feel bad for Bill. I’m as big a fan of Eric as the next girl, but between him and Bill, it would be a tough choice!

They’re both vampires, and they’re both deadly, so there’s that. It’s the classic good boy/bad boy. The good boy, he’s great, but the bad boy … you can’t stop thinking about him.

I’m always prepared to be shocked and awed every episode, and I am. Can you tell us anything about season three?

Well, the book is out there, so I’m not giving anything away when I say that we’ll meet the Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington. And we’ll encounter werewolves for the first time in the flesh; we’ve heard about them, but we’ll meet them. I’m very excited about the character of Debbie Pelt. She’s bad news.

Since I haven’t read the books, who is that?

Debbie Pelt is the ex-girlfriend of a guy who’s helping Sookie try to find Bill, and she is just hard ass, white trash bitch on wheels. She’s so much fun. But there are other great characters, too. Everybody is struggling with identity in season three – What am I? Who am I? What is my life? Is it what I want it to be? How do I make it what I want it to be? What are my real values? And some people are like, “Am I human? I always thought I was, but maybe I was wrong.” In one particular case, its like, “Yes, honey, you were wrong.”

Is that Sookie? Is she part faerie? Can you tell me that?

I can tell you that Sookie is not 100 percent human. She is now aware of that.

After the white-light thing with Maryann.

Yes. She doesn’t know what she is, but she knows that it’s not totally human.

Do you believe in the supernatural?

I certainly believe that what we perceive as humans is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t necessarily believe in vampires or werewolves or that kind of thing, but I believe there is definitely a realm we don’t necessarily have access to. I don’t know what it is, and I hesitate to articulate it further than that, because I have no idea what it is, but I know it’s there.

TV Guide interviewed Michele Forbes who gave some clues abut the finale before it aired:

So, we learned from Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne that Maryann is actually a maenad. What the heck is that?
A maenad is also known as the raving one or the wild one. They’re mythic creatures in Greek mythology who followed Dionysius and Bacchus and revel in chaos and destruction. They drink wine, have sex and have no boundaries. That excess is their quest for purity. As they sing their praises to their god, they hope that he comes.

And how can she be destroyed?
Once she believes the god is finally coming, that will be her vulnerability. Or shall I say her Achilles’ Heel.

The whole town of Bon Temps is gunning for Maryann. Should we be worried for her?
Sure. The whole town does want her gone. She has the whole town in her clutches except for a few stray ones like Sam and Sookie. Her final goal is to grab everyone so that she can achieve her goal. But she should have cause for caution.

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Wil Wheton announced on Twitter that he will be guest staring in an episode of The Big Bang Theory: “An announcement of extraordinary magnitude: I will be on an episode of #thebigbangtheory this season. That’s all I’m allowed to say. GLEE!”  Wheton played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation (but don’t hold that against him–he didn’t write the role) and is author of Just A Geek, making him a natural for the show.

Ain’t It Cool News reports that Iron Man 2 might be filmed in 3D.

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USA Today took a look at Flash Forward, the upcoming show based upon Robert Sawyer’s novel:

The premise centers on a two-minute, 17-second blackout that strikes the world’s population, followed by crashes, deaths and other disasters that result from the global unconsciousness. During the blackout, almost everyone has a vision — a flash-forward — six months ahead, to April 29, 2010. 10 p.m. PT, to be exact. Some are welcome, and some, including the wife’s vision of the lover, are not.

The task is to find out what happened and if the flash-forward prophecies will, or must, come to pass.

“We are the only species that thinks about the future,” says executive producer David Goyer, whose writing credits include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. “It’s the blessing and curse of being human.”

Joseph Fiennes, who plays FBI agent Mark Benford, centers a team assigned to solve the blackout that includes partner Demetri Noh (John Cho); colleague Janis Hawk (Christine Woods); and their boss, Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance). They and the other characters, including Benford’s surgeon wife, Olivia (Sonya Walger), share their visions, but viewers see only bits and pieces at first, leaving twists and turns to be explored.

And “some people lie about their flash-forwards, so it’s a little misdirection happening,” Vance says. “It leaves the writers enormous latitude to tell stories.”

Of fall’s new shows, FlashForward most closely fits the definition of the serialized epic, a sweeping tale mixing action, suspense, mystery, romance and melodrama. “It’s a buffet,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone) says. “To reach the widest audience possible, you need to have that spice. You have to have that wide variety.”

The best current example of the big, bold serialized mystery: ABC hit Lost. Fox’s 24 incorporates many of those elements, though each season is self-contained. Fox’s paranormal Fringe tries to temper its serialized elements, mixing long-term story with shorter, weekly ones. And ABC launches a remake of alien-invasion serial V in November.

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Patrick Stewart says he might play Professor Xavier again but not Jon Luc Picard:

In a talk show interview setting, Stewart fielded questions about his career and memories of his tenure as captain of the Enterprise. He was barely aware of “Trek” when he got the role and was “guaranteed” by friends and others that the show wouldn’t work.

He discussed how horribly uncomfortable the show’s uniforms were originally, leading his doctor to contact the production office demanding that they be changed.

When asked about fellow convention guests Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, Stewart talked about how much he respected Nimoy. As for Shatner, he paused and said, “He’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”

He was also particularly pleased to be able to recall the plots of some favorite episodes mentioned from the titles.

When the discussion turned to “X-Men,” Stewart, who had a cameo as a younger Professor Charles Xavier in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” said that from what he had heard, audiences have probably not seen the last of the professor. He mentioned he recently co-starred in a production of “Waiting for Godot” with Ian McKellen and the two agreed that they would like continue exploring the relationship between Xavier and McKellen’s “X-Men” character Magneto.

As for that other franchise, Stewart thought that this summer’s reboot of “Star Trek” was “terrific,” but didn’t see a future for Jean-Luc Picard in the franchise, leaving open only the possibility that he would agree to do a cameo in a sequel. Stewart mentioned a proposed final “Next Generation” film, but after the disappointing box office for “Star Trek: Nemesis,” it never materialized.

“I feel that I have left behind a legacy as Picard,” he said. “In my head and heart, I’ve moved on.”

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Megan Fox of Transformers will be guest host of the season opener of Saturday Night Live on September 26.

A sneak peak has been released of the second season of Dollhouse:

Pictures From the Tea Party Protests

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There’s lots of pictures of the nuts at the “tea party protests” yesterday being posted around the blogosphere, but this kid might best represent what rational people of the country are up against (hat tip Andrew Sullivan). Here’s what his sign says (also from Sullivan):

Arrest Communist Fascist

So Obama is both a Communist and a Fascist. As all they care about is insults, the specifics don’t really matter. Who know what he means by “Nazi Youth Militia.” This makes no more sense than another picture which Andrew Sullivan posted which compares health care reform, which gives people the ability to purchase affordable health insurance which will not drop them when they get sick, to a Nazi Euthanasia Program. Not all that long ago the right wingers were attacking Nancy Pelosi for noting all the references to Nazis in the signs carried by right wing protesters. She has repeatedly been proven to be right.

These people are totally out of touch with reality and the right wing blogosphere is embracing their insanity.

Tina Fey Wins Emmy For Portrayal of Sarah Palin

Tina Fey has won an Emmy as guest actress in a comedy series for her portrayal of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. In accepting the award Fey said, “Mrs. Palin is an inspiration to working mothers everywhere because she bailed on her job right before Fourth of July weekend. You are living my dream. Thank you, Mrs. Palin.”

Several video clips of Tina Fey have been posted in the past. These include Fey and John McCain last November, Fey with Will Ferrel in October, Fey with the real Sarah Palin, Fey portraying Palin in the vice presidential debate, Fey’s second appearance as Palin which included comments from the Katie Couric debate, and Fey’s initial appearance with Amy Poeler who portrayed Hillary Clinton. This is the one which includes the classic lines including “And I can see Russia from my house” and Poeler as Clinton saying, “it is never sexist to question female politicians credentials.  Please ask this one about dinosaurs.  So I invite the media to grow a pair.  And if you can’t, I will lend you mine.”

Despite the humor, there was considerable truth in Fey’s sketches. I would hope that most Americans would have figured out the danger of electing Palin even without Tina Fey, but Fey’s impersonations certainly were helpful. You betcha, this is a well deserved award.

Right Wing Craziness: Something Old or Something New?

There has been a lot of talk lately from some Republicans about the manner in which the crazies have taken over the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Most recently I’ve noted this in citing David Frum. Glenn Greenwald and The Daily Howler make similar arguments that the current craziness is not anything new but has been characteristic of the conservative movement for a long time.

Greenwald argues that “here is nothing new about the character of the American Right or their concerted efforts to destroy the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.” He begins by citing events during the Clinton years and then writes:

This is why I have very mixed feelings about the protests of conservatives such as David Frum or Andrew Sullivan that the conservative movement has been supposedly “hijacked” by extremists and crazies.  On the one hand, this is true.  But when was it different?  Rush Limbaugh didn’t just magically appear in the last twelve months.  He — along with people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol and Jesse Helms — have been leaders of that party for decades.  Republicans spent the 1990s wallowing in Ken Starr’s sex report, “Angry White Male” militias, black U.N. helicopters, Vince Foster’s murder, Clinton’s Mena drug runway, Monica’s semen-stained dress, Hillary’s lesbianism, “wag the dog” theories, and all sorts of efforts to personally humiliate Clinton and destroy the legitimacy of his presidency using the most paranoid, reality-detached, and scurrilous attacks.  And the crazed conspiracy-mongers in that movement became even more prominent during the Bush years.  Frum himself — now parading around as the Serious Adult conservative — wrote, along with uber-extremist Richard Perle, one of the most deranged and reality-detached books of the last two decades, and before that, celebrated George W. Bush, his former boss, as “The Right Man.”

It’s also why I am extremely unpersuaded by the prevailing media narrative that the Right is suddenly enthralled to its rambunctions and extremist elements and is treating Obama in some sort of unique or unprecedented way.  Other than the fact that Obama’s race intensifies the hatred in some precincts, nothing that the Right is doing now is new.  This is who they are and what they do — and that’s been true for many years, for decades.  Even the allegedly “unprecedented”  behavior at Obama’s speech isn’t really unprecedented; although nobody yelled “you lie,” Republicans routinely booed and heckled Clinton when he spoke to Congress because they didn’t think he was legitimately the President (only for Ted Koppel to claim that it was something “no one at this table has ever heard before” when Democrats, in 2005, booed Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal during a speech to Congress).

If this argument is whether the conservative movement suddenly became crazy in the last several months then there is no doubt that Greenwald is right. The conservative movement turned into its present form during the Clinton and Bush administrations and their current craziness is a continuation of those trends.

I find the more interesting question to be whether the conservative movement and Republican Party have been crazier since the Clinton years as opposed the the preceding decades. The answer is not a simple yes or no. There is a long history of right wing extremism. A major difference is that in the past this was often separated from the right wing establishment. The problem today is that the extremists who would have been in the John Birch Society and the KKK are now the ones dominating the Republican Party and conservative movement.

There have been moments when the extremists dominated the Republican Party in the past, such as the McCarthy era. Even then the Republican President was the moderate Dwight Eisenhower. A major difference between the Republican Party of the past and the party of today is that there was a strong moderate wing and even a liberal wing. In recent years most of the liberals and moderates have been driven out, pushing the Republican Party further to the right. In addition, the dominance of the religious right has greatly changed the character of the GOP and the conservative movement. For years the Republicans would give rhetorical support to the religious right to get their votes but once in office they would ignore what even the mainstream Republicans realized were the nut groups of the right.

As the religious right increased their influence of the conservative movement, more rational voices were often driven away. Even Barry Goldwater considered himself a liberal in his later years in opposition to the growing influence of the religious right. With the Republican Party increasingly dominated by the wing nuts by the Clinton years, the election of George Bush in 2000 was the final straw in turning the GOP into a reactionary, theological party. Neither Barry Goldwater or even Ronald Reagan would recognize the modern Republican Party.

The conservative movement had essentially taken on its present form by the time of Obama’s election, but the election of Obama has exacerbated such tendencies. Both racism and xenophobia have always been common, although by no means universal, tendencies in the conservative movement. The election of a president who not only is black but is also claimed to be a foreigner by the far right has greater excited the conservative base. Economic worries also exacerbate extremism.

To a certain degree the craziness of the right is amplified by changes in the media. The right wing media has always been a tremendous source of  misinformation. I read National Review and  Human Events in the late 1960’s and 1970’s and found them to be spreading misinformation which is comparable to that spread by Fox. The difference is that while these publications were primarily read by conservative true believers, the right wing noise machine now spreads their misinformation to the general public. Fox, which was not even around in the 1970’s, is now even  larger than it was during the Clinton years. Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine under Reagan also enabled the development of conservative talk radio.

Conservatives have greatly outweighed liberals when new people were brought into CNN since it was sold by Ted Turner, and conservative influence has also increased over many other portions of the media. While the far right denounces the conservative-leaning mainstream media because it does not promote their entire fantasy world, the mainstream media still acts to reinforce the messages from the far right. The mainstream media helps the far right when it provides their misinformation with equal coverage along with truthful information from other sources due to a false idea of fairness. Sometimes, in reporting what is being said by the far right, the media should also note that those saying this are crazy–or at least clearly provide the facts.

Besides changes in the mass media, the internet provides echo chambers which make insane ideas and misinformation appear to be true. Some believe that if they can pull something up on the internet to defend their views it must be true, even if the facts cited are actually fiction. The echo chambers of the right also increase ideological purity and extremism on the right. This is also true among some portions of the left, but they are on the outside of the Democratic Party as opposed to the extremists who now dominate the GOP. The internet, along with having extremist kooks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in positions where they can speak to large audiences, makes it easier for the far right to mobilize and create news as they did yesterday.

Update: Barack Obama touches on this topic in his interview on Sixty Minutes which is to air tonight:

President Barack Obama said in an interview to be aired Sunday night on “60 Minutes” that he sees “a coarsening of our political dialogue.”

“The truth of the matter is that there has been, I think, a coarsening of our political dialogue,” Obama told Steve Kroft in an interview taped at the White House on Friday evening.

“I will also say that in the era of 24-hour cable news cycles, that the loudest, shrillest voices get the most attention. And so one of the things that I’m trying to figure out is: How can we make sure that civility is interesting?”