SciFi Weekend: We Are At Peace, Always; Changing Fate; Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars; Wolowitz in Bath Tub With Katee Sackhoff; Lost Final Season

V premiered with terrific ratings and mixed reviews. Being a remake of an old series gives it an advantage in already having people interested in the show. This is also a disadvantage as many viewers already know the surprises which were developed in the original. The show would be more effective if the fact that the aliens are evil was gradually revealed but this could not be done when this is known from the original. Even without revealing this it should have raised suspicions when the alien leader repeatedly told humans that we are at peace–always. In repeating this she almost seemed to be attempting a Jedi mind trick to influence the listeners (as in “these are not the Droids you are looking for”).

By the end of the first episode we knew the Visitors were plotting the destruction of the human race, that they are really lizards who hid their appearance with genetically engineered human skin, and the broad outlines of the series. The original series used allusions to a Nazi take over and World War II. The new series has been updated to be based more on the war on terror.

The Visitors in the new series continue to be lizards disguised as humans. The two series differ as the Visitors had non-human sounding voices in the original but now look and sound completely human (unless one cuts through their skin to reveal the reptilian skin). This allowed advance sleeper cells to be set up on Earth prior to the public arrival.

One of the most monumental periods in the history of the planet is shown through the eyes of a small handful of people which the show is centered around.  FBI agent Erica Evans, played by Elizabeth Mitchell of Lost, spent a large portion of the show tracking down a terrorist sleeper cell. Initially I was questioning why they devoted so much time to what appeared to be her usual FBI duties as opposed to the arrival of the aliens but ultimately the connection between the sleeper cell and the aliens became clear.

The aliens set up a group of Peace Ambassadors and utilized their ability to not only appear human but appear as extremely attractive humans to enhance recruitment. It did feel contrived to find that not only was Erica’s son recruited but that the attractive blond recruiter was especially interested in recruiting him. His significance to the show is that he is the son of the main character–not something which the aliens would mean anything to characters within the show.

The Bush administration had Fox to willingly provide favorable news. The Visitors were concerned about favorable news coverage and convinced a television journalist to avoid asking any questions which might place them in a bad light in return for the fame of being granted exclusive interviews. The episode also revealed that the Visitors who had been hiding on earth had infiltrated the government and were responsible for current turmoil, such as starting unnecessary wars.  I’m surprised that they hadn’t also concentrated on infiltrating the news media to guarantee the presence of reporters who would always provide positive coverage.

The question is what they will do with the series now that the premise has been laid out. The initial mini-series was excellent but the subsequent television series couldn’t maintain the quality. There are already signs of possible trouble in sustaining this series such as reports of already changing the show runner. The show will need to establish itself quickly as ABC is airing only four episodes and then showing the remaining nine later in the season.

The pilot of the new series along with episodes of the original series are available for viewing on line here.

Flash Forward The Gift

Previous episodes of FlashForward have teased viewers with the possibility of seeing events take place which differ from those in the flash forwards of the major characters. In the original novel it was shown that the future could be changed but we did not know for sure if the same rules applied on the television show.

This week’s episode, The Gift, finally made it clear that the future can be changed. A character jumped to his death in order to prevent a tragedy he discovered he will cause in his flash forward. (It is amazing that for so many characters the moment of their flash forward is at a major point in their life).

The discovery that the future can be changed  has a profound effect on some of the characters who had been acting as if they were inevitably heading towards the situation in their flash forward. Rather than being shown an inevitable future, it is increasingly likely that knowledge of the future will change the behavior of some characters to attempt to give themselves a different future. Now Dimitri can work to prevent his murder, and perhaps it really is Dimitri in Zoey’s flash forward of a wedding on the beach. Last week it appeared that Mark and Olivia were acting to make their visions of the breakdown of their marriage come true. Now they have motivation to really work to save their marriage, knowing it is possible.

The most frustrating aspect of the episode to me was seeing Mark and Olivia at home with Charlie. All I could think of while seeing them all together is to wonder why Mark doesn’t simply ask her what she knows to make her say that “D. Gibbons is a bad man.”

Aaron’s daughter had a prominent role in this episode as we learned more about how she was apparently killed. Rather than finding her at the time of the flash forward, Aaron returned home to find his daughter alive at the end of the episode. This appears to be a second situation where things are playing out different than in the flash forward.

A trailer has been released for the next Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars (video above). This will first air on the BBC on November 15 and December 19 on BBC America. Blogator Who has posted a synopsis of the episode:

Starring David Tennant as The Doctor and guest starring acclaimed British actress Lindsay Duncan – best known for her roles across stage and screen (Margaret, Lost in Austen) – The Waters Of Mars is set to be one of the most terrifying episodes of the series to date.

Lindsay Duncan stars as Adelaide – the Doctor’s cleverest and most strong-minded companion yet.

She and The Doctor face terror on the Red Planet as they battle against a mysterious alien living within the terrarium of life on Mars’ surface which infects its victims using a water compound it creates.

Neighbours, Flying Doctors and Casualty star Peter O’Brien also guest stars as Ed, Adelaide’s second-in-command at the base

According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Tennant might be seen more by US audiences after he concludes his role as The Doctor. Tennant has been cast in the title role of a pilot for NBC entitled Rex Is Not Your Lawyer.

Written by Andrew Leeds and David Lampson, “Rex” centers on Rex Alexander (Tennant), a top Chicago litigator who begins suffering panic attacks and takes up coaching clients to represent themselves in court.

David Semel, who directed the pilots for “Heroes” and “Life,” has come on board to helm the comedic legal drama from Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun.

Kateee Sackhoff Big Bang

A picture has been released of Katee Sackhoff’s upcoming appearance on the November 23 episode of The Big Bang Theory.

“The story is about how Wolowitz has this wonderful woman in his life” after a double-date with Leonard and Penny and one of her co-workers from the Cheesecake Factory, Lorre says. “But he can’t recognize what’s right in front of him because he’s mesmerized by fantasies about women from sci-fi. The scene is his mental image of Katee, but she’s telling him the truth, that he’s missing out on real life.”

For her part, Sackhoff enjoyed the rub-a-dub-dub so much that she says she hopes it leads to a recurring role as “Wolowitz’s Number Six” (a Battlestar reference), returning from time to time in his imagination to offer advice – for instance, disabusing him of the notion that he’s a ladies’ man.

Lorre says he could get on board with that idea. “That would be terrific – she could definitely be Number Six in Wolowitz’s head – his muse, the magnificent woman who tells him the truth. We should all have a conscience that looks like Katee Sackhoff.”

Sackhoff’s guest appearance follows previous guest spots by Summer Glau and more recently Wil Wheaton. Wheaton revealed on his blog that he his voice was used in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie.

Katee Sackhoff will have a role in the upcoming season of 24.  Gregory Itzin will also be returning next season in his role of former President Charles Logan.

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E! Online interviewed Damon Lindelof about the final season of Lost:

For those fans of Lost who are invested in the romance on the show, will there be anything for them this year, or is this primarily a mythology season?
That’s an excellent question. Our focus remains where it’s always been: on the characters. And there are significant and emotional bonds, from both the friendship and the romantic angle, that we would be remiss in not exploring; we probably won’t be exploring them in the way that you think. That’s my official answer.

All right, last night you tweeted about this event, and you said that you would address the numbers question.
Oh, well that was just to get people here. [Laughs.]

Are we going to get an answer on the numbers this season?
When someone asks what the numbers mean or are you going to answer the mystery of the numbers, it’s a very interesting phrasing of a question, because I would pose it back to them: Well, what does an answer to “what do the numbers mean” look like? The answer that I’m giving now, my political answer, is that we’ve made a lot of the numbers in this show, so the idea that in the final season of the show we are telling everybody that we’re in answer mode and you’re never going to see the numbers again, or you won’t understand a lot more about the numbers than you do now, would be a cop-out. You would legitimately tar and feather us. But the one question that I can’t answer is what someone’s own level of personal satisfaction is going to be when all is said and done. We’ve gotten a sense from some people that there’s no such thing as a definitive answer to a question, you know? You say that this is the definitive answer and sometimes fans do like, “No, it’s not, I still think that there’s more there.” So all we can do is basically tell the story that we want to tell and answer the questions that are relevant to that story and hope that the audience leaves with some degree of satisfaction. But Lost wouldn’t be Lost if there wasn’t an ongoing debate as to whether or not questions were answered satisfyingly or not.

Word has been spreading this week that Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) does appear during the final season but does die. Entertainment Weekly has quotes from the producers:

CUSE: “As the story is now nearing its conclusion, some characters just aren’t going to make it all the way to the end. Even beloved characters aren’t going to make it all the way to the end. And sometimes we have to do things that are really painful, like killing Juliet, because that’s what makes the story feel like the stakes are genuine, and people feel invested that characters who are beloved can actually perish on our show. It was an enormously powerful story that concluded the entire season of the show. So she was sacrificed in service of the story, and I think was hugely responsible for the season being viewed as successful because that was how it ended.… But she will always loom as one of our favorite characters, and even more importantly, favorite people that we’ve ever worked with on this show.”

LINDELOF: “What always gives us pause—especially in this instance—is we just love working with Elizabeth. And she always brings it, she always gives more than we expected, and transcends the material. She has always been so gracious and sweet and lovely…. That conversation [in which he and Cuse delivered the bad news] went the same way that the entire relationship did, which is Elizabeth was completely understanding, sweet, and wonderful. And she was bummed, as were we.”

MITCHELL: “I really only thought [the job] was going to be a year. I didn’t in any way think that that character would be liked because I didn’t think of her as a likable person.  I was just in love with her, so that was what was fun.  She didn’t have to be beautiful. She didn’t have to be sexy. She was someone who we really haven’t seen. It was new, it was virgin ground.… [But after season 3], I was told many, many times that they weren’t sure what to do and that they wanted to keep her a mystery.  Which I thought was great, to keep her a mystery.  I’m glad they didn’t go the other way, and make her completely nothing. In many ways a lot of it was just inevitable. [Season 4] wasn’t as exciting as season 3 was, but I was still pretty grateful to be there, to be honest with you.  They’d done a lot for me, so I still felt pretty good about it and I still loved her. Even if I was just walking around in the background, I was still having my Juliet thoughts…. [In a phone call right before the end of season 5, Lindelof and Cuse] said they didn’t have any story left to tell, and they didn’t think there was anything left for her to do… They were very open and honest and kind about it. And they seemed to be sad about it.”

CUSE: “There are so many characters in the weave of the fabric of Lost that at various times certain people get to shine and other people are forced into the background. Juliet’s character had that kind of an arc on the show: She burned brightly, but then we moved on in the storytelling and other things became more important. And it’s always painful. It’s like having a garage full of the most beautiful cars in the world but you only can drive one to work every day. And it was frustrating for us, too, because we were pursuing other stories which rose to prominence and hers ended up taking a little bit of a backseat. But Damon and I came to a place where we came up with a fantastic ‘ending’ [for Juliet]. And ending is in quotations, of course, because just because a character’s died doesn’t mean that their story’s over on Lost.”

LINDELOF: “Juliet basically birthed season 6 by the actions that she takes in the final seconds of season 5. She is completely responsible for the endgame of the show. So the character is going to be seen in a slightly different light this year. We gave her that action for a reason, and that’s because she’s so important to the fabric of the story.”

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Those who might want more of Hayden Panettiere beyond seeing her fight a deadly sorority and share a lesbian kiss with Madeline Zima on Heroes might check out her spread in Elle.

The identity of the character to be killed off this season of Heroes has been revealed by TV Guide. They report it will be Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering that he was already killed at the end of the last season and the manner in which he returned does  not appear permanent.

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