SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Iron Man 3; Avengers; SHIELD; True Blood; Gillian Anderson; Person of Interest; The Americans; Firefly

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The Crimson Horror is perhaps the sweetest episode of Doctor Who ever, and starts out without the Doctor. The episode provides a vehicle for two sets of characters: 1) Jenny, Vastra & Strax and 2) characters played by Diana Rigg and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling. This is the first time that the mother-daughter combination have ever worked together. Bringing back Jenny, Vastra, and Strax also helps with the continuity of the season. Jenny even had a scene which reminded me of Diana Rigg’s old  character Emma Peal from The Avengers, combining the two sets. Victorian England episodes tend to have the most realistic look of episodes taking place in different places or times. Undoubtedly appropriate sets and costumes are easiest to obtain.

The Doctor, and even later Clara, don’t become involved until later, but their absence in the early portions of the episode is handled well. There was a far better payoff to find that the Doctor was the monster when we did not see what happened to him until later. We were brought up to date by a sepia-toned sequence which gives the information viewers need without taking  time to provide excess detail.  Going through the earlier aspects of the Doctor’s involvement in a condensed manner was also helpful because Mark Gatiss had so much going on this episode that he already had to wrap it up too quickly. This would have worked better as a Sherlock-length story.

Being Doctor Who, there are invariably some things which seem unbelievable even if we believe in the Time Lords and the rest of the mythology surrounding the Doctor. It is hard to believe that a rocket of this type could have been built back in that era. The kid, Thomas, who sounded like my phone’s GPS raising further questions. I suspect this one might be cleared up in the season finale when we return to the Doctor’s friends. (As I also went to see Iron Man 3 Saturday night after watching Doctor Who, it was a big night for kids getting into the action.)

The reference to past Doctors was more subtle this week. When the Doctor wound up in Yorkshire instead of London he mentioned his past difficulties in making it to the right place, including problems getting an  Australian to Heathrow, referring to the fifth Doctor and Tegan. I suspect that I missed the meaning of some of the references to Yorkshire versus London which would mean more to those living in the U.K.

When Clara returned home, the kids she cares for had found old pictures of her, demonstrating her travels in time. It is highly unlikely for either these pictures to exist and for the kids to realize they are of Clara (as opposed to someone who might look like her) but this was probably done for two reasons. First Clara was surprised by seeing a picture of her from London where this Clara has not been. Secondly this was probably done to lead into next week’s episode, Nightmare in Silver, which includes the kids. I wouldn’t be all that upset if the kids wind up being assimilated by the Cybermen (who have been looking increasingly like the Borg). Nightmare in Silver will reportedly also include stock footage of William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee.

Quote of the episode: “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m going to stop you.”

The Behind the Scenes video is above

Jenny, Vastra & Strax will be returning in the season finale, The Name Of The Doctor. The episode will also include River Song, post-library. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Every journey taken by a time-traveller tears a wound in the fabric of reality, and the Doctor has time-travelled more than anyone. But the trail runs cold in Trenzalore, the one place in all of time and space that he should never go. The most dangerous place in the universe…

This quote from the episode was also released:

“The path I carved through time and space, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. My own personal time tunnel, leading back to every moment I ever lived. Every step, every tear, every kiss. Even the days I haven’t lived yet. Which is why I shouldn’t be here. The paradoxes… very bad…”

Trenzalore has been linked with the fall of the eleventh and thought to mean the time when the eleventh Doctor regenerates. If we are to see the fall of the eleventh it must mean something different. Moffat says someone will die in the episode. As they are only seen occasionally, they could easily kill off one of the three Victorian detectives. As this is a p0st-library River, she can also die. Considering that the Doctor and River meet in a mixed up order, this wouldn’t prevent the Doctor from running into River in the future, at an earlier point in her time line.

David Tennant will be the only former Doctor on the 50th Anniversary episode but there will be an  homage to the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child.

The Guardian has an interview with Steven Moffat here.

One of the more implausible scenes in The Angels Take Manhattan was having the Statue of Liberty, as a Weeping Angel, travel across Manhattan. Among the many problems raised by this scene is the question of how the Statue of Liberty could make it very far since Angels freeze if anyone is watching. Most fans probably just let this pass as a good scene regardless of whether plausible. Steven Moffat has now provided an explanation (but I’m not sure this is any more plausible):

“The Angels can do so many things. They can bend time, climb inside your mind, hide in pictures, steal your voice, mess with your perception, leak stone from your eye… New York in 1938 was a nest of Angels and the people barely more than farm animals. The abattoir of the lonely assassins!

“In those terrible days, in that conquered city, you saw and understood only what the Angels allowed, so Liberty could move and  hunt as it wished, in the blink of an eye, unseen by the lowly creatures upon which it preyed. Also, it tiptoed.”

I’ll go with “it tiptoed.”

It has been ages since I finished watching Merlin by downloading episodes, but they have just resumed broadcasting the final episodes in the United States. While much of the final season was weaker than earlier seasons, the final few episodes did provide an excellent finale for the series. There has been talk of a movie version of MerlinColin Morgan is moving on to other projects and isn’t interested in playing Merlin again.

As Iron Man 3 breaks box office records, there is lots of attention on the future of the Marvel movie universe. There are conflicting reports as to whether there will be an Iron Man 4. I don’t think I am spoiling anything by saying that Iron Man 3 could easily serve as a conclusion of a trilogy, or the lead in for the probable future movies.   Robert Downey, Jr. has even left open the possibility of appearing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will most likely return to The Avengers 2. The next Avengers movie reportedly will add Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These reports must be taken cautiously as there is the possibility of characters winding up on the cutting room floor at this stage.

Above is the trailer for True Blood Season 6 which returns on June 16. Humans are fighting back, which provides for a change from previous seasons. I hope that this, plus a new show runner, solves some of the problems plaguing recent seasons.

Gillian Anderson of The X-Files is appearing in a five part thriller for the BBC 2 entitled The Fall. A review can be found here.

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I’ve been undecided as to whether to consider Person of Interest true science fiction or a mystery series with a science fiction element. The two-part season finale, which we are in the middle of, moves the series much further towards science fiction as the machine takes on a more active role beyond spitting out the numbers. Plus there’s the return of Amy Acker.

The Americans ended the season well. I’m glad they avoided a true cliff hanger. As we can assume Elizabeth will recover from her injuries, the finale leads us back pretty close to how the series began. Besides the danger of being exposed by their FBI agent neighbor, their daughter Paige is becoming suspicious. After having viewers root for having Claudia reassigned, I bet most changed their mind during the finale. Margo Martindale has been cast in a comedy pilot so the episode leaves open the options of her leaving or Philip and Elizabeth plausibly requesting that the decision be reversed. Show runners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg discussed the finale with Salon.

With Netflix bringing back Arrested Development, there has been hope that they might bring back some genre shows such as Firefly which didn’t survive more conventional television runs.   Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, gave this reason for not remaking Firefly:

“Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was canceled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.”A

Arrested Development probably would have more viewers than Firefly, but I don’t buy his explanation. I think that many others interested in this are more like me. I didn’t watch Firefly when it was on, but did buy the CD’s due to all the buzz after it was off the air.  I’m not super-passionate about the show, but I did enjoy it and if Firefly came back I would watch. I bet many other people have become fans after the initial run ended, providing for a larger audience in a remake than was present when on the air. Besides, Joss Whedon is now one of the hottest (perhaps the hottest) names in entertainment right now. I don’t think anything with his name attached should be ignored.

Other possibilities I’d suggest would be The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which ended at a point which begs for a conclusion, and Jericho which has some similarities to Revolution but did it much better.

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