SciFi Weekend: J.J. Abrams Gets Star Trek; Nimoy Returning to Fringe; Is Flash Forward Science Fiction; Dollhouse News; Megan Fox on the Cover of Rolling Stone and Olivia Wilde in GQ


J. J. Abrams has done a fantastic job of reviving Star Trek and bringing in a new audience. There has been concern that Abrams might go for the big special effects but fail to revive what made Star Trek special. From what he told Hero Complex, it sounds hopeful that Abrams does understand what Roddenberry intended in using science fiction to make statements which could not be made on television during the 1960’s:

“The ambition for a sequel to ‘Star Trek’ is to make a movie that’s worthy of the audience and not just another movie, you know, just a second movie that feels tacked on. The first movie was so concerned with just setting up the characters — their meeting each and galvanizing that family — that in many ways a sequel will have a very different mission. it needs to do what [the late ‘Trek’ creator Gene] Roddenberry did so well, which is allegory. It needs to tell a story that has connection to what is familiar and what is relevant. It also needs to tell it in a spectacular way that hides the machinery and in a primarily entertaining and hopefully moving story. There needs to be relevance, yes, and that doesn’t mean it should be pretentious. If there are simple truths — truths connected to what we live — that elevates any story — that’s true with any story.”

Robert Orci added:

“We’ve literally had two meetings now. We haven’t decided anything but we’re starting to circle around some ideas. We got a lot of fan response from the first one and a considerable amount of critical response and one of the things we heard was, ‘Make sure the next one deals with modern-day issues.’ We’re trying to keep it as up-to-date and as reflective of what’s going on today as possible. So that’s one thing, to make it reflect the things that we are all dealing with today.

The show obviously cannot be political message alone. Star Trek worked best when it combined allegory with a good story and concentration on the characters. Abrams has showed he already understands the importance of story and characters. Hopefully he won’t feel compelled to further divulge from Star Trek cannon to the degree he did in destroying Vulcan.


Leonard Nimoy has said he does not expect to return to Star Trek. It would be a mistake to continue to show two Spocks. Having him on might have helped with the transition from the Roddenberry Trek universe to the Abrams universe, but now that Star Trek has been rebooted we should have one Spock to go along with Kirk and the rest if the crew.  William Keck reports he will be returning to Fringe:

An eerie procedure will allow Olivia to flashback to her season-finale alternate-reality encounter with Leonard’s William Bell to obtain a “further understanding of what Bell and Walter Bishop hoped to accomplish when they experimented on her as a child,” says executive producer Jeff Pinkner. During the same episode, viewers will also meet another woman (played by Theresa Russell) who was also experimented on by Bishop.

For more on Fringe, Blend Television has an interview with Joshua Jackson. He discussed Peter’s role in the series:

The Peter storyline, what I love so much about that, beyond the “ain’t-it-cool factor,” is now the audience knows something about Peter that he doesn’t know about himself, something crucial about him that he doesn’t know about himself. We come to find out that this is a large part of the guilt that Walter carries around, is that he baby-snatched Peter as a young boy. Inevitably, that information had to come out, so while I don’t know the particulars much further than the episode that I’m shooting right now, I do think eventually that has to come to a head, and it will lead to a conflict between the two guys.

The entire first season for Peter and Walter was about this father and son reconnecting through the craziness of their circumstances and actually becoming something of a family, a very dysfunctional family. And season two has carried that forth. In the beginning, Peter is really invested now in being part of this team and actually belonging to this Fringe family, but eventually he’s going to find out that this horrible [thing] happened to him as a child, and that’s going to blow up his relationship with Walter and probably with Olivia, I would imagine. To me, that’s the great thing hanging over Peter the entire season, and it gives me something to move toward as they go forward.

Reportedly future episodes of Fringe will be split with about half involving mythology shows and half devoted to stand alone mysteries similar to The X-Files.


David Goyer, co-creator of Flash Forward, has provided more information on the show to SciFi Wire. Among the points:

It’s not a science fiction show.


“I mean, there’s one [sci-fi gimmick], the flash-forwards,” Goyer says. “The audiences won’t know for a couple of years what the ultimate cause of them were, so I don’t think it really matters.”

Beyond that, says co-star Davenport, who plays physicist Lloyd Simcoe (the only character carried over from Sawyer’s book): “The high-conceptness of this is kind of gotten out of the way very quickly. The event occurs, and then we’re kind of left with the repercussions of it. The phrase that David used was an intimate epic, and I thought that was very elegantly put. And it is that because one of the things that we find we can’t when we get new episodes is the parameters of the stories is sort of unlimited. You basically have 6 billion people with knowledge about their futures. You can do anything you like with that.”

(Between us, it really is a science fiction show in the same way Lost is, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.)

The first eighteen minutes of the pilot have also been released and are posted on many web sites such as here.  Personally I’ll wait to watch the entire episode in HD on a big screen as opposed to watching just the beginning on a computer.


Io9 has news on the upcoming season of Dollhouse. The first episode will help new viewers catch up. Summer Glau and Ray Wise will have roles during the second season:

In today’s conference call with reporters, Whedon explained exactly what Wise (the devil from the show Reaper) and Glau would be doing when they appear in the season’s sixth episode. Wise is the head of another Dollhouse — sort of a counterpart to Adelle DeWitt, with whom he’ll be butting heads. And Glau is the other Dollhouse’s programmer — so she’s the counterpart to Topher. And Glau’s part is “eccentric” and totally different from anything you’ve seen before. The writers worked extra hard to make her character “pop” because they knew what Glau was capable of, said Whedon. And yes, this new Dollhouse will be much cooler than “our” Dollhouse, thanks to Wise and Glau.

Ausiello adds:

“At the end [of the premiere], there is a very important conversation between Echo and Paul where she lets me know that she’s functioning with all these personalities in her mind at once and that she knows what is going on. It changes the playing field if the main doll has awareness of her situation. I like that it isn’t all damsel in distress, and Paul is starting to realize that.”


Broadcast of  the Battlestar Galactica television movie, The Planhas been postponed until 2010 but they still plan to release the DVD on October 27.  I would recommend watching on DVD instead of television even if not for the wait. The DVD of Caprica contained scenes which cannot be shown on television and reportedly the same is true of The Plan.


Cinematical warns that the rise of the machines might be closer than you think:

It’s a plotline straight out of the Terminator films: a highly evolved computer program controlling U.S. government weaponry goes rogue, defies its human masters, and sets out to exterminate all of humanity. Think it’s just fiction? While humankind has yet to suffer a Judgment Day-style nuclear holocaust, the U.S. Air Force battled its own sentient SkyNet adversary this week when an MQ-9 Reaper combat drone broke free from human control during a mission over Afghanistan. The unmanned aerial vehicle, charmingly classified as a “hunter-killer,” had to be shot down by a manned aircraft before it continued on its merry way – headed, according to an Air Force press release, “on a course that would depart Afghanistan airspace.”

Now, I’m no weaponry expert, but I’m certain of one thing: that’s not supposed to happen. Like, ever. Sure, technology goes awry from time to time, but only in the movies, right? Maybe not. Below, we pick five fictional pieces of movie science with actual real-world counterparts, and the terrifying implications that they bring for the future of humanity.

IO9 reviews seven science fiction bars they’d like to visit.  The Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars in the above video is probably the most famous. Club Hel from The Matrix came in first. The most notable bar missing from the list was Quark’s from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


Megan Fox, who will be hosting the first episode of Saturday Night Live this season, made the cover of Rolling Stone. I especially hope that the presence of Fox on the cover gets more attention for the cover story on The Lie Machine: The Plot To Kill Health Care Reform.


Olivia Wilde of House, who received considerable attention for her topless pictures in Maxim, now has some nude and bikini pictures coming up in the October issue of GQ. Sorry, you’ll have to settle for a sample bikini picture here.

Obama All Over Television

Barack Obama has become the first president to pull off  the “Full Ginsburg.” This is named for Monica Lewinsky’s attorney William Ginsburg who appeared on all five Sunday interview shows. Obama appeared on five today but limited himself to the legitimate news outlets as he substituted Univision for Fox. Here are links to the transcripts of four major interview shows: This WeekMeet the Press, Face the Nation, and State of the Nation.

George Stephanopoulos and others have posted video clips.  FDL highlights portions of the interviews.

Cable viewers might also see the new add from the Democratic National Committee which uses  Obama to promote health care reform (video above).

Monday night Obama becomes the first sitting president to appear on Late Night with David Letterman and will be the only guest for the show. Will the tea-baggers now start their own Fire Dave rallies? Obama had appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last March.

The New York Times Reports on The Edwards Scandal

The New York Times story on John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter yesterday  didn’t really contain anything more than I’ve noted in previous posts. Perhaps just appearing in the Times gives this story more prominence as it remains highly ranked on Memeorandum and has received numerous blog links. The story reports on the grand jury investigation into whether the hush money paid to keep the affair quiet violates campaign finance laws and states that “he is considering declaring that he is the father of Ms. Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter.”

While this is all material which has come out earlier, for those who have not been following the story, here’s the juicy parts:

Wade M. Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Mr. Edwards, declined to comment on the paternity issue directly, but said in a statement that “there may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

The notion that Mr. Edwards is the father has been reinforced by the account of Andrew Young, once a close aide to Mr. Edwards, who had signed an affidavit asserting that he was the father of Ms. Hunter’s child.

Mr. Young, who has since renounced that statement, has told publishers in a book proposal that Mr. Edwards knew all along that he was the child’s father. He said Mr. Edwards pleaded with him to accept responsibility falsely, saying that would reduce the story to one of an aide’s infidelity.

In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, Mr. Young says that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

I’ve heard of the promises to marry Hunter before, but the promised appearance of the Dave Matthews Band is a trivial but new point to me.

Not surprisingly many conservative blogs have linked to the story. When this story first broke it often seemed like Liberal Values was the only liberal blog following it. As Edwards’ initial denials were admitted to be untrue, even many liberal  bloggers are now discussing this, sometimes denying the full extent of the scandal. Talk Left complains that the Times story “mixes factual reporting and hearsay from a tabloid-type.” The fact of the matter is that, from the start of this story, the information has first come from the tabloids, and the tabloid accounts have later been shown to be correct.

Many liberal bloggers are primarily disappointed that Edwards was willing to run for the nomination despite the risks that this scandal would break during the 2008 campaign, likely allowing the Republicans to remain in office if Edwards had won the Democratic nomination. MyDD writes:

John Edwards is a persona non grata in the Democratic party. This sad and sordid episode continues to devolve simply because John Edwards cannot admit to the truth. Instead, Mr. Edwards choses willfully to save whatever grace he may yet possess. It is not as much the affair nor the child out of wedlock, though there is that, but the hubris with which Mr. Edwards has acted since the allegations were proven to have a certain validity. Moreover, how does one even contemplate a run at the Presidency given a personal life in disarray?

That is true, but I continue to think that the real moral of the story is that there is a need to recognize that there are dishonest and opportunistic politicians on both sides of the aisle. I had described John Edwards as one of the slimier politicians around well before the Rielle Hunter scandal surfaced. There has been plenty of evidence of this throughout his career. This began when he was an attorney who made his fortune by convincing southern juries that birth defects were caused by medical malpractice and was again seen at multiple points in his political career (which I’ve mentioned in several previous posts).

Irving Kristol’s Death Highlights Growth of Anti-Intellectualism in Conservative Movement

The recent death of Irving Kristol has led many conservatives who are trying to fight the lunacy which has taken control of the conservative movement,  such as Andrew Sullivan, to note how the conservative movement has deteriorated. Sullivan refers to Bruce Bartlett:

Commentary is now just a highbrow version of National Review, which is just a glossy version of Human Events, which has become a slightly less hysterical version of nutty websites like WorldNetDaily. The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Weekly Standard, founded by Kristol’s son Bill, just parrot the Republican Party line of the day.

The intellectual bankruptcy of conservatism today is even greater than it was when Irving Kristol founded The Public Interest in 1965. What passes for a conservative movement these days wears its anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor. But as Kristol correctly understood, right-wing populism has no future and fundamental changes in the direction of government policy must be based on serious research and analysis that is grounded on hard data; that is to say, reality.

This leads back to the question of whether right wing craziness is something old or something new. Human Events might be even nuttier today as it echos WordNetDaily, but I recall it containing a lot of right wing nuttiness when reading it thirty years ago. Still, there were signs of actual thought in the conservative movement in the past which are becoming harder and harder to find today (other than from those conservatives who have rejected the movement and share my view of it).