SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Christmas Special; Fringe’s Best Episode Ever; Clues As To Conclusion of Dexter

Radio Times Cover Doctor Who Christmas Special A Christmas Carol

Doctor Who receives far more attention in the United Kingdom than in the United states, with the upcoming Christmas special making the cover of magazines such as above and below. Here is a clean copy of the Radio Times cover without the text:

Doctor Who Christmas Special A Christmas Carol Radio Times Clean Cover

The BBC has released a synopsis of the Christmas special:

Its the deepest part of winter, the exact midpoint, Christmas Eve – halfway out of the dark. Amy and Rory are trapped on a stricken space liner that’s plummeting through banks of thick icy fog to the surface of the planet below.

Only one man has the power to save them; only one man is in possession of a machine that can clear the fog and let them land safely.

That man is Kazran Sardick, a rich but lonely old miser who rules Sardicktown with a sky-mast of iron.

The Doctor’s only chance of rescuing the ship’s four thousand passengers is to save Kazran’s soul and show him that life is worth living. For this he needs to go back, way back, to when Kazran was a boy with a life full of promise.

But can the Doctor put a song in Kazran’s heart and love in his life, in time for Christmas? Can he bring him out of the dark?

The Christmas TV Guide cover was obtained by TheSkaroRevenger and enhanced by Combom:

Doctor Who Christmas Special Cover

More information from the BBC on the special here and more on Matt Smith and Karen Gillan celebrating Christmas here. Unlike previous years when markets outside of the UK had to wait, the Christmas special will air in the United States and some other countries on Christmas Day. It will also be released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 24th 2011.

The Independent had a recent interview with Karen Gillan (Amy Pond).

On Fringe, although Peter was oblivious to all the clues that Olivia was not the Olivia from our universe (or as Walter put it, “He fell right into her vagenda”) the call on Peter’s Droid (how much did they pay for that product placement) finally got Peter to get out of bed a couple of hours later and check out Fauxlivia’s Mac (yet more product placement). I imagine that a call that someone saw Olivia appear with a message and then disappear was more jarring than finding the woman you’re in bed with has no idea about what happens in Casablanca.

The episode got both Olivias (Anna Torv) back to their own universe. The episode was great payback for those who have followed the series, including aspects such as the typewriter which is used to communicate with the other universe and a fantastic scene where Peter realizes that the woman who Fauxlivia is holding at gunpoint is a shape shifter. (If only he had been thinking more clearly up until this point). Our Olivia’s return home seemed a little too easy, but that is my only minor complaint about the episode, although it was a shame that the alternate Boyles did not survive.

While the arc for the first half of the season centered around Olivia, ultimately Walter is the key character in the war between the universes. The problem began when Walter took Peter from the other universe, but matters  have been made much worse by Walternate’s overreaction and failure to see possibilities other than an attempt by our universe to destroy his universe.

While Walternate sees the situation as coming down to only one universe surviving, it seems like this all could be easily resolved if the two Walters could only get together to explain their positions to each other and search for a mutually beneficial solution. If these two warped geniuses put their heads together I bet they could put an end to the disruptions in the other universe. As we recently found out that those in the containment fields are actually in a form of suspended animation and not dead, the consequences of the “war” could even be minimized.

Besides the big questions of the war, there’s also many questions regarding Olivia’s relations with coworkers. It appears possible that Peter might continue his romance with Fauxlivia with the real Olivia. On the other side, Fauxlivia has returned to the alternate Fringe unit, with her coworkers unaware she has been gone. Will she run into problems due to lacking knowledge of what happened when Olivia was there instead? More importantly, will her experiences on our side lead to her questioning Walternate’s version of the conflict?

Fringe Peter and Faux Olivia

Following what was perhaps the best episode of Fringe to date, Jeff Pinker and J. H Wyman have discussed what is to follow:

Just how explosive is tonight’s episode and is it at all accessible for new viewers who may be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon this far into the series?
Jeff Pinkner: Actually if the only episode of FRINGE you ever tune into watch is this one — sure it’s going to take you five minutes to sort of catch up — but you will feel what’s going on. It’s a great entry point and you will understand the relationships. The truth is the one right afterwards, which is the falling out of this episode and sort of the picking up the pieces episode, is equally a great place to join both because it’s a reset episode. Olivia will be home and sort of like dealing with the consequences. It’s Rip Van Winkle dealing with the consequences of everything that she missed. Both of these episodes are actually a great place to join in.

What can you tease about what’s in store for fans when FRINGE returns in January of 2011?
J. Pinkner: Well the first half of the session was sort of like the condition of Olivia being trapped on the other side over there and Bolivia being among our characters. Now with this episode we’re sort of—the remainder of this season, I don’t know how much we want to spoil, but this episode sort of like brings the first half of the year to an end. Then the rest of the year will be the consequences and the fall out of what happened both emotionally and plot wise for all our characters. As we’ve said from the beginning, like we’re committed to telling stories over there and the first half of the season will dramatically change the conditions over there as well. Once Olivia returns to our side, the storytelling’s not just going to be contained on our side.
J.H. Wyman: Yes, I mean we’re going to sort of like come to a crescendo using both sides.

Would it be fair to say that questions, such as the endgame in terms of “the machine” will be answered?
J.H. Wyman: We don’t want to drive things out and make people frustrated with what that machine is and what it means to the series and the characters themselves. By the end of the session you’re going to fully understand what that machine is and what it’s purpose is. What it’s for. Meaning for this universe and that universe and what it means to our characters. We definitely are going to have some sort of resolution.

Dexter and Jordan Chase

Dexter is down to two episodes. (Spoilers regarding tonight’s episode follow). We assume that he will ultimately kill Jordan, but what about Quinn, Liddy, and Lumen? We know that Dexter finds out he is under surveillance. It is doubtful Liddy will survive with his knowledge, and the big question is what happens to him as killing him would violate Dexter’s code.

There are many possibilities but I would like to see Lumen take Liddy out to protect Dexter. Before that happens, clips from the show indicate that Dexter, tracking down the surveillance equipment, finds Quinn’s name on the requisition leading him to think that it is still Quinn who is spying on him. There’s also other indications that Quinn is in trouble.

Dexter Lumen Sex

The biggest question is Lumen’s fate. In the past Dexter wound up killing those who got too close to him and knew his secret, but this season does not look like it will turn out that way. I can easily see her getting killed by Jordan Chase before Dexter gets to him, but would they really do that to Dexter after last year’s finale in which Trinity killed Rita? Perhaps Lumen will just return home, with Dexter feeling confident she would never betray him.

Besides Lumen possibly surviving the season with this knowledge, there have been close calls in which Deb has come close to finding out more about her brother than she would probably like to know. Will she find out everything this season? It is possible, as in the book series she did find out at the conclusion of the first novel, which was very similar to the first season of the show. They have even set up the possibility of Deb accepting this with her realization that a vigilante was tracking down the murderers and with her accepting that idea.

Sarah Palin vs. John F. Kennedy On Separation of Church and State

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has challenged Sarah Palin’s lack of religious tolerance and failure to support our Constitutional guarantees of separation of church and state in an op-ed in The Washington Post. This was in response to Palin’s criticism of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech which explained the separation of his private religious beliefs from his public policy positions as a potential president:

Palin’s argument seems to challenge a great American tradition, enshrined in the Constitution, stipulating that there be no religious test for public office. A careful reading of her book leads me to conclude that Palin wishes for precisely such a test. And she seems to think that she, and those who think like her, are qualified to judge who would pass and who would not.

If there is no religious test, then there is no need for a candidate’s religious affiliation to be “reconciled.” My uncle urged that religion be private, removed from politics, because he feared that making faith an arena for public contention would lead American politics into ill-disguised religious warfare, with candidates tempted to use faith to manipulate voters and demean their opponents.

Kennedy cited Thomas Jefferson to argue that, as part of the American tradition, it was essential to keep any semblance of a religious test out of the political realm. Best to judge candidates on their public records, their positions on war and peace, jobs, poverty, and health care. No one, Kennedy pointed out, asked those who died at the Alamo which church they belonged to…

She continued to contrast Kennedy’s position with Palin’s preferred position as promoted by Mitt Romney which was contrary to the views of the founding fathers:

Palin praises Romney for delivering a “thoughtful speech that eloquently and correctly described the role of faith in American public life.” But if there should be no religious test in politics, then why should a candidate feel compelled to respond to misplaced questions about his belief in Jesus?

When George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was a presidential candidate in 1968, he felt no such compulsion. Respect for the Constitution and the founders’ belief in the separation of church and state suggests that those kinds of questions should not play a role in political campaigns.

Palin contends that Kennedy sought to “run away from religion.” The truth is that my uncle knew quite well that what made America so special was its revolutionary assertion of freedom of religion. No nation on Earth had ever framed in law that faith should be of no interest to government officials. For centuries, European authorities had murdered and tortured those whose religious beliefs differed from their own.

To demand that citizens display their religious beliefs attacks the very foundation of our nation and undermines the precise reason that America is exceptional.

Palin’s book makes clear just how dangerous her proposed path can be. Not only does she want people to reveal their beliefs, but she wants to sit in judgment of them if their views don’t match her own. For instance, she criticizes Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), a Democrat and a faithful Catholic, for “talking the (God) talk but not walking the walk.”

Who is Palin to say what God’s “walk” is? Who anointed her our grand inquisitor?

This is a woman who also praises Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, even though Lincoln explicitly declared, “But let us judge not that we not be judged.” The problem for those setting up a free-floating tribunal to evaluate faith is that, contrary to Lincoln, they are installing themselves as judges who can look into others’ souls and assess their worthiness.

Townsend wrote further on the importance of separation of church and state:

John F. Kennedy knew that tearing down the wall separating church and state would tempt us toward self-righteousness and contempt for others. That is one reason he delivered his Houston speech.

Palin, for her part, argues that “morality itself cannot be sustained without the support of religious beliefs.” That statement amounts to a wholesale attack on countless Americans, and no study or reasonable argument I have seen or heard would support such a blanket condemnation. For a person who claims to admire Lincoln, Palin curiously ignores his injunction that Americans, even those engaged in a Civil War, show “malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Palin fails to understand the genius of our nation. The United States is one of the most vibrant religious countries on Earth precisely because of its religious freedom. When power and faith are entwined, faith loses. Power tends to obfuscate, corrupt and focus on temporal rather than eternal purposes.

Somehow Palin misses this. Perhaps she didn’t read the full Houston speech; she certainly doesn’t know it by heart. Or she may be appealing to a religious right that really seeks secular power. I don’t know.

I am certain, however, that no American political leader should cavalierly – or out of political calculation – dismiss the hard-won ideal of religious freedom that is among our country’s greatest gifts to the world. As John F. Kennedy said in Houston, that is the “kind of America I believe in.”