SciFi Weekend: Awake; Old vs. New Monsters on Doctor Who; Sherlock vs. The Doctor; The Avengers; Scarlett Johansson’s Shower Scene; Follow STTNG Season 8 on Twitter; Community; Nimoy on Big Bang Theory

In a year when genre television shows are struggling to survive, it was a good sign that a new well-written genre show, Awake, has been receiving excellent reviews.  The Christian Science Monitor calls it one of the best dramas on television. Awake is about detective Michael Britten who wakes up after an auto accident in which his son or wife were killed. He alternates between realities in which one has survived and the other is alive. In each reality he remains a detective but is forced to see a psychiatrist. In one reality the psychiatrist is a woman (played by Cherry Jones of 24) who possibly represents the wife he lost while in the other the psychiatrist is a younger man, possibly representing the lost son. His partner is also replaced by a young man in one of the realities.

The show is more a police procedural than a science fiction show which attempts to explain what is happening. In style it reminds me a lot of Life on Mars in which the explanation for the police officer going into the past was a minor matter compared to the individual stories. Explanations were added in the end, with the British and American versions providing entirely different explanations, showing how little the explanation mattered during the shows’ run. The pilot also set up a mystery about the accident which precipitated events of the show. The pilot began with the accident, and Britten has no recollection of events leading up to this point.

From the first episode I don’t believe that finding an explanation will be significant in this show. Should an explanation ever be given, I bet that each reality will be equally valid. The pilot certainly gave no reason to believe one as opposed to the other. I bet either both realities are a dream-like state or there will be two alternative realities which Michael Britten is shifting between. Britten’s lack of recollection of events leading up to the accident do raise the possibility that none of the events are real (within the show), as was also the case in Life on Mars. Britten made it clear he wants no “cure” for the situation as he wants to preserve the situation in which he still has both his wife and son–a decision which certainly makes sense for him.

An interview with executive producer Howard Gordon and creator Kyle Killen was posted in Blastr, discussing comparisons between Awake and Inception and addressing Britten’s desire to live in both worlds:

“The show is really about a man who has decided and desperately wants to live in both of these worlds. Who refuses to acknowledge which is real and which isn’t,” said Killen. “And as you try to live two lives in parallel and you see them start to go in dramatically different directions, I think the idea is that hopefully the audience, like the character, becomes invested in not wanting to let either of those go.”

“Because as long as he has got both of them, he has got access to his wife and his son, then he hasn’t really lost anything. And the upshot for a detective living across two worlds is that he discovers that the cases in one seem to sort of be reflected or replicated in the other. And that provides him with insight and clues that allow him to do his job differently than he did before, and differently than any other detective that we have gotten to see on television.”

It is too soon, after only seeing the pilot, but with Fringe (while still worth watching) not reaching the quality of last season, Awake does have a shot at becoming both the best genre show and drama shown on American network television. Competing with the top shows available on  cable will be far harder.

Radio Times on the monsters and villains of Doctor Who:

Fans of perennial Doctor Who villains such as the Daleks and the Cybermen may disagree but Steven Moffat says new baddies are the best.

The Doctor Who and Sherlock writer says viewers develop a connection with villains when they first meet them and that continually bringing them back can hamper a show’s growth.

“One of the temptations, particularly if it’s a success is to keep repeating your hits, which means you hear it again and again and again,” said Moffat.

“I always say new monsters are better in Doctor Who because you fall in love with monsters when they’re new,” he told Le Village.

It’s an admission that may surprise some viewers, given that Moffat resurrected the Daleks within three episodes of having taken over the show for its 2010 series, but it suggests the Doctor will be facing some new foes in series seven.

Meanwhile, the show’s producer Marcus Wilson told Doctor Who Magazine that two monsters from “classic” Who would be back in the new series.

The final link above provides further information on next season.

Besides discussing old versus new monsters, Steven Moffat tweeted the above video showing Sherlock vs. The Doctor. Actually the leads on both of Steven Moffat’s shows are pretty similar. Just how did Moffat manage to become show runner for not one but two of the top fictional characters of all time?

It only makes sense that the tenth Doctor be on the ten dollar bill. (Similar changes should be made for the $1 and $5 dollar bills.)

Marvel has uploaded the official trailer to The Avengers, which opens in the United States on May 4 and in the U.K. on April 29. (Official UK trailer here). The movie is packed with super heroes and beautiful women. More pictures of Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) as Maria Hill can be seen here. Besides appearing in The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson has recreated the classic Janet Leigh shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Entertainment Weekly reports that it took seven days to film the nude scene. It probably actually took a half day to film and then someone wanted to have her do it over and over again.

Saturn Award  Nominations were released in the past week.

Follow an imaginary eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Twitter.

The trailer above combines Community with The Dark Knight Rises. The producers of Community are optimistic that the show  will be renewed for a new season. I sure hope so. The cast will also appear in three animated short features on NBC.Com and Hulu.

The Big Bang Theory got a huge genre coup this week in getting Leonard Nimoy to come out of retirement to appear in Sheldon’s dream.

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