It has been a day for bad news related to Ebola. The more serious concern is the apparent transmission of Ebola to a nurse caring for the patient in Texas despite wearing protective gear. It is of concern that these precautions did not prevent the spread to this individual (although it now is reported to have been due to a breach in protocol), but it is at least encouraging that surveillance efforts were successful and the person was quickly identified and precautions taken against further spread.
John McCain, a member of the party which has been protesting the number of czars in the Obama administration, has now called for an Ebola Czar. Perhaps as a first step, the Republicans should reconsider their actions in blocking the appointment of Obama’s nominee as Surgeon General.
On top of this is the news that Ebola could affect supplies of chocolate:
Ebola is threatening much of the world’s chocolate supply.
Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cacao, the raw ingredient in M&M’s, Butterfingers and Snickers Bars, has shut down its borders with Liberia and Guinea, putting a major crimp on the workforce needed to pick the beans that end up in chocolate bars and other treats just as the harvest season begins. The West African nation of about 20 million — also known as Côte D’Ivoire — has yet to experience a single case of Ebola, but the outbreak already could raise prices…
The market is worried, too. Prices on cocoa futures jumped from their normal trading range of $2,000 to $2,700 per ton, to as high as $3,400 in September over concerns about the spread of Ebola to Côte D’Ivoire, noted Jack Scoville, an analyst and vice president at the Chicago-based Price Futures Group. Since then, prices have yo-yoed down to $3,030 and then back to $3,155 in the past couple of weeks.
While not yet time to panic, are we now in danger of seeing riots at the supermarkets and hoarding of chocolate?
(Original post updated with further information on the case in Texas and John McCain’s call for an Ebola Czar.)
Yesterday I posted the videos of Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Here’s one for Star Trek fans in which Patrick Stewart shows the right way to do this.
My wife and I had sort of the same idea yesterday. We both mixed up a couple of glasses of gin and tonic and sent in a contribution.
Contributions to the ALS Association can be sent through their web site.
Paul Krugman is leaving Princeton next year to join the faculty of the Graduate Center, City University of New York and be near Zabar’s. I don’t blame him. If I was nearer to retirement I might consider moving back towards Ann Arbor to be closer to
the academic atmosphere of the University of Michigan Zingerman’s.
BBC America will air a farewell to Matt Smith at 8 pm on December 25 prior to airing The Time of the Doctor. Trailer above. That means that for many US fans, this will air a few hours after downloading and viewing the Christmas episode.
Steven Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine (via Doctor Who TV) what he thinks the John Hurt Doctor was up to:
I assume what’s been happening during the John Hurt years that we never saw, is that he battled hard and fiercely in a way that the other Doctors would not have done, and that he was a dangerous and difficult man. But in his view he was not living up to the standards. I mean, by involving himself in an ongoing war – I always thought that sounded odd.
He adds: “I remember when David Tennant said, ‘I fought in the Time War’. I thought, ‘The Doctor in a war?’ I mean, the Doctor may be saving people at the fringes of a war, or stopping a war, but I could never imagine him being in one. But John Hurt’s Doctor is the one who was.”
He spoke with SFX about wrapping up mysteries:
Moffat told SFX magazine: “It will be tying up various elements of the Eleventh Doctor’s story, some of which people have asked about before, some of which people haven’t bothered to ask about!”
He adds: “From [Matt Smith’s] first to his last episode, there will be elements. And it should be obvious they were fairly carefully planned.
“It’s not obstructive – if you didn’t remember any of that stuff or care about that stuff it would still be fine. If you’ve been sitting there saying, “Who blew up the TARDIS?” then you’ll get it.”
He has also discussed the female character from the Doctor’s past which will appear in Time of the Doctor.
Wholock–Sherlock Meets the Doctor. Video above.
The BBC has released the synopsis for the third episode of season three of Sherlock, to air on January 12:
In the final episode of this new series, written by Steven Moffat, a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates.
But how do you tackle a foe who knows the personal weakness of every person of importance in the Western world?
There are no plans for Lara Pulver to return to Sherlock but Natalie Dormer will be returning to fake Sherlock (CBS’s Elementary) to reprise her role as wrong-sex Moriarty when the show returns in January.
Barry Allen was exposed to chemicals from beakers and lightening on the mid-season finale of Arrow. We all know what beakers full of chemicals mixed with lightening will do–basic superhero science. I also liked how there is yet another major tie in to events back on the island. Executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Grant Gustin (who plays Barry/the Flash) discussed plans at BuddyTV. A portion:
Barry’s Profound Effect on Oliver and Felicity’s RelationshipAndrew Kreisberg: I think for Oliver, he knows he feels something for her but can’t quite define it and I think he’s sort of surprised to find in [Episode 9] when Dig points out to him, “What you’re feeling right now might actually be termed jealousy.” And for Felicity, I think she doesn’t want to like Oliver in a way because she finds him unattainable and in a way he is unattainable. Especially after you saw at the end of Episode 6, when he said “It’s probably better if I’m not with somebody I care about.”So while she really does like Barry, I think she probably throws [herself] even more into it because now he’s somebody who’s available. And Barry, being as smart as he is, because [as we allude to] is familiar with liking somebody who doesn’t like you back – which is something that will probably be explored further down the road – he sees that about her.So I think at the end of this episode, and certainly as something we pick up in Episode 10 – because the fallout from Episode 9 carries over into the next episodes, as far as the Oliver and Felicity relationship is concerned – Barry has had a profound effect on them and that will carry through.Flash’s Presence Will Be Felt on Arrow
The mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD brought back old allies and enemies, but was yet another disappointing story. There are hints as to the significance of Coulson’s recovery which we should learn more about in the second half of the season, if anyone is still watching.
Game of Thrones already has one Sarah Connor in the cast–Lena Headey who stared in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles plays Cersei Lannister. Emelia Clarke, (above without the albino look) who plays Daenerys Targaryen, will has been cast to play Sarah Connor in the planned reboot.
Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor, who play Brody’s wife and daughter on Homeland, will not be returning as regulars in season four, probably because there was not much use for either character in season 3.
Teaser above for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar above–to be released in November 2014.
A study in the British Medical Journal found that James Bond drinks too much alcohol:
James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol related diseases and an early death. The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental, and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol. We advise an immediate referral for further assessment and treatment, a reduction in alcohol consumption to safe levels, and suspect that the famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred” could be because of alcohol induced tremor affecting his hands.
Bing watching is common among Netflix subscribers.
It appears that the previously-discussed Friday Night Lights movie is not going to happen.
For today’s hard science section, we look at Scientifically Accurate Santa Claus:
Matt Smith and David Tennant worked very well together during filming of The Day of the Doctor according to Steven Moffat:
Matt Smith and David Tennant got on so well while filming the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special that they hatched a plan to continue working together on the show, says Steven Moffat.
“They got on like a couple of old women. They just say in the corner and gossiped the entire time,” revealed the Doctor Who showrunner.
“By the end of it, Matt told me that he’d worked out this plan that they’d both continue in Doctor Who: do five individual episodes each and three together – would that be ok? It was a nice plan. I think if I’d said yes they’d have gone for it.”
However, Moffat admitted that neither star had started out completely confident about bringing their two Doctors together.
“David and Matt, I think… were both quite apprehensive of the other,” Moffat told the audience at a Radio Times event earlier this month. “David’s continued to watch Doctor Who like the sad old fan he is and so as far as he’s concerned Matt’s the Doctor. And of course for Matt, you don’t believe yourself you’re the Doctor, you just think David’s the Doctor. So they were both slightly nervous and slightly apprehensive.”
Steven Moffat also told Radio Times that John Hurt would steal scenes with his eyes:
“It was great fun,” said Moffat. “You’d have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go ‘That’s it – he’s got the scene now hasn’t he?'”
Moffat has also discussed the return of the Zygons:
Steven Moffat says bringing back the Zygons has been an ambition since he took over Doctor Who – and that the classic monsters are so well designed he hardly had to change a thing for their return in the 50th Anniversary Special.
“Every year since I took over I’ve been trying to get the Zygons in,” says Steven Moffat, “and then I thought ‘Well, it’s the 50th…’
“The Zygons are beautifully designed monsters, they are so wonderful… We barely changed the design at all because it was so good.”
The classic Who foes have appeared just once before, in 1975 adventure Terror of the Zygons, yet remain a firm fan favourite.
Cult Box interviewed Doctor Who composer Murray Gold. H:ere is just one question on the show’s theme, which has changed with the lead actor:
Have you started thinking about what the 12th Doctor’s theme will sound like? Are you going to miss using the 11th Doctor’s wonderful theme?!
“I’m not 100% certain they will let me drop that theme entirely… but yes, I have started to think about it. I really need to see Peter in the role to get it all firing up.”
Peter Salus looked at the history of computers in Doctor Who.
Sherlock season 3 will premiere in the United States on PBS on January 19 at 10 p.m. This means it will air back to back with Downtown Abbey, which starts on January 5 in the United States. Downton Abbey is already well into the season on ITV (with a rather major event for Anna at one point during the season so far). The BBC has not announced when Sherlock will return in the U.K.
Atlantis (the replacement for Merlin) will premiere in the United States on November 23, after The Day of the Doctor.
Agents of SHIELD and Arrow are extending further into the Marvel and DC universes respectively. SHIELD has come up against Centipede, plus expect more connections to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On Arrow, Oliver was saved by the Black Canary, who turns out to have been working in the past for Ra’s al Ghul, ultimately tying into Batman. We will see more of this Black Canary next week, and will have to wait and see how things play out regarding the discrepancy with her identity in the comics. Situations and characters do tend to evolve gradually on Arrow.
Arrow, while well-done and quite entertaining for its genre, does trace back to the teen/young adult form of genre common on CW. In this vein, CBS is considering a reboot of Charmed.
I think that Once Upon A Time would have worked better if they stuck to the first season’s story as opposed to trying to stretch it out into a conventional multi-year television series. American television often is of a lower quality than British television due to the usual format requirements in the US. Once Upon A Time In Wonderland shows promise partially because it is planned as a single season story. Last week Alice learned more about the White Rabbit but the story is not limited to Wonderland. Any Disney fan has to just love to see Robin Hood and his Merry Men rob Maleficent’s castle, as occurred on last week’s episode. Then there was the revelation that Will’s girlfriend Anastasia becomes the Red Queen.
I was happy to see that last week’s episode of The Blacklist delved more into Elizabeth and her husband, with implications that more is to come next week. I do hope the series concentrates more on this mythology as opposed to being a villain of the week series. According to E!, episode eight is also major:
Episode eight is a big one. Don’t miss it. Oh, you want more than that? Fine. Not only does someone on the team get severely injured in the episode, but Red comes face to face with one of his mortal enemies. Someone Red is scared of? This we can’t wait to see!
Showtime has renewed Homeland and Masters of Sex. The big revelation on Homeland last week didn’t come as very much of a surprise. In many ways it is more plausible that Saul and Carrie are working together consider the past working relationship between the two and the fact that Saul knows that Brody’s confession tape had to be a set-up. On the other hand, Carrie sure played her role at all times she was seen on television. I would have to go back to past episodes to verify this, but I believe this includes times in which there was nobody else watching her beyond the television audience. Alex Gansa discussed the revelation with TV Guide:
In your mind, when did Carrie and Saul hatch this master plan?
Alex Gansa: I think they decided the very next day after the bomb went off. Carrie and Saul were culpable in what happened, and they were looking for some way to make good, to make it right, to get the guy who was ultimately responsible. They began to hatch the plan right then to figure out how to lure the bad guy of the season, Javadi, out of his anonymity in Iran.
So, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) don’t know about this?
Gansa: For the first four episodes they were totally outside the circle. This was a ruse and a plot that was hatched just between Carrie and Saul.
There were a lot of machinations to this plot. Saul continued to pursue Javadi on his own, for example. Was that just to throw the audience off or was it a backup plan?
Gansa: One of the things that our intelligence officer consultants [told us] is that the most effective intelligence operations are 95 percent true. Carrie and Saul were largely to blame for what happened and [they knew] the CIA would be looking for a scapegoat to take the blame. How would they turn that into a silver lining? This was a huge gamble, and Carrie was asked to sacrifice a lot in that gamble. It’s not a sure thing, so Saul was really playing all sides of the equation here. And you will see that he’s got a Phase 2 of the operation in mind, which he is not sharing with Carrie. Saul is very much the puppeteer here. He’s the maestro.
Why would Carrie react the way she did to Saul “outing” her during his senate testimony if she knew this was all a scam?
Gansa: Saul is the one who leaked the idea that she was having a sexual relationship with Brody to the committee. Carrie was aware that he was doing that. However, it doesn’t diminish the reality of it when it’s actually presented in front of you. When we were shooting it, we were talking to Claire about, “This moment is going to have to play two ways. It’s going to have to play one way if the audience is watching it for the first time not understanding that this is a ruse.” But when you go back and look at it again, you’ll understand that she’s not surprised by what she’s hearing. She’s amazed at how it affects her to understand that she is to blame for what happened. That’s where the emotion catches up with her in an unexpected way.
There’s more at The Hollywood Reporter, including how Brody will fit into the storyline:
How will Brody figure in to all of this?
I will say that Brody becomes a principal player in the architecture of the last sweep of episodes. His predicament down in Caracas and his separation from Carrie and Saul is really paramount as we move into the next two movements of the season.
Did you have any reservations about having an episode (“Tower of David”) that was almost exclusively from Brody’s point of view?
It was really a function of how much story was to be told there. Just anecdotally, some people felt we were with him too much and others felt we were with him too little. It felt right to us to establish his predicament and to parallel his plight with Carrie’s. These are two people in some very desperate circumstances. The show has paralleled their stories before and some of the most successful episodes that we have done have drawn comparisons between their predicaments.
I just saw this commercial from May. It has to be the best car commercial ever. Spock v. Spock. May the best Spock win.
I don’t find it to be a good sign when there is a need to change writers for Star Wars VII.
The National Geographic Channel is airing a fictionalized account of the consequences of a catastrophic ten day cyberattack:
As the power grid goes down across the country, the streets quickly descend into chaos while consumers ransack stores for bottled water and canned goods.
Those without sufficient cash handy are quickly in dire straits, since no electricity means no credit cards or ATMs, either.
Meanwhile, the heroes of the day are “doomsday preppers” who have had the foresight to stockpile a couple years’ worth of bottled water, batteries, and military-style meals-ready-to-eat in secret underground bunkers.
This is the scenario explored in “American Blackout,” the National Geographic Channel’s fictionalized account of a 10-day-long power outage precipitated by a cyberattack.
What Culture has ten alcoholic drinks from Mad Men which you must try.
Screen Rant reports that X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Trailer Preview Includes a Time-Traveling Wolverine
Is time travel even possible? See the above video from TED-ED. No X-Men but it includes plenty of scenes with a TARDIS. It only deals with time travel into the future. No hope we will be visited by Kiera Cameron of Continuum.
Some people think that TED Talks fail to deal with real problems. The above DED Talk might be more practical after a zombie apocalypse.
Google names each Android operating system with the name of a dessert in ascending alphabetical order. Previously Android 4.4 was scheduled to be named Key Lime Pie but today Google announced that instead it will be named KitKat. The Verge has the story behind the decision for this delicious partnership:
There’s no exchange of money involved, but there is a significant promotional element: 50 million KitKat bars in 19 countries will have prominent Android branding and offer buyers the chance to win a Nexus 7 tablet and Google Play gift cards. All those wrappers started production two months ago in secret so they would be ready for the promotion; not even Google employees knew about the new name. “We kept calling the name Key Lime Pie internally and even when we referred to it with partners,” Lagerling told the BBC. Adding to the air of intrigue, Nestle is commemorating the partnership with 500 specially-produced KitKats in the shape of the Android logo that the company claims took “weeks” to create in “a secret location in Europe.”
But secret meetings in Barcelona and commemorative chocolates aside, the deal did have some wrinkles. Nestle owns and control the KitKat brand throughout the world, but Hershey’s licenses the brand and manufactures the candy in the United States — obviously a key market for Google and Android. As the deal began to take shape with Nestle, Google also had to reach out to Hershey’s and work out an arrangement. And while sources say the final deal is entirely between Google and Nestle, Hershey’s KitKats and new KitKat minis in the United States will indeed carry the Android logo and giveaway information.
So why the name change? A Google spokesperson tells The Verge that KitKats have long been Android engineering head Hiroshi Lockheimer’s favorite candy bar — his Gmail avatar was a KitKat icon several years ago. At one point in 2010, the Android team even decorated Lockheimer’s entire office door with KitKats, pictured here. Given the wide variety of new wrappers and branding that will appear on KitKats throughout the world, it appears that another opportunity will soon be well at hand.
Well, I do like KitKats more than Key Lime Pie so I’m fine with the change. I had wished for a very slight difference under J, instead of jelly bean. Approaching the 50th Anniversary year of Doctor Who I had thought the obvious choice for J would be jelly bellies. That would also go along with the start-up animation on my rooted Galaxy Nexus: The TARDIS flying in the time vortex.
Now that K is settled we can start looking forward to L. I suspect lime is out. Will it be lemon drops, lollipop, licorice, or something else?
When going out for coffee, more often than not I will get dragged into Star Bucks, but if given a choice I’ll choose a local coffee shop. Maybe I should reevaluate this after reading this blog (especially if in Boston):
A trio of anthropologists from the University of West Virginia recently published an article based on observations at six coffee shops in and around Boston—three that are independently owned, and three Starbucks locations. Their intention was to determine how effectively Starbucks outposts are able to provide the same community-based social environment associated with traditional coffee shops (or, to pull from a different realm, a place where “everyone knows your name”).The anthropologists conducted their observations at Pavement Coffee House in Copley Square, 1369 Coffee House in Central Square, Diesel Café in Davis Square, and in three nearby Starbucks locations. They focused their observations on five categories, derived by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, that describe how urban, social spaces function: how social and welcoming a place is; the arrangement of seating; the activities taking place there (work, socialization, leisure); amenities (like wi-fi and power outlets); and the overall atmosphere, as measured by music volume, volume of chatter, wall color, lighting, and décor.
The biggest surprise was that, on the whole, Starbucks actually provided a more welcoming environment than any of the three local coffee houses. They credited the Central Square Starbucks with having the most vibrant sense of community, and observed that the baristas there knew many patrons by name and could anticipate their orders. The anthropologists also noted that the Starbucks baristas were friendlier to new customers than the bespoke hipsters behind the counter at the local places: “The Starbucks baristas would help customers by explaining the many options available and even offering suggestions. In contrast, the baristas at the independently-owned coffee houses were more aloof and would just wait or sometimes stare at a customer, offering minimal assistance.” The Starbucks friendliness advantage was further accentuated by its greater amenities. In particular, the locally owned coffee shops were more restrictive with their Internet policies, either charging for wi-fi access (Diesel Café and 1369 Coffee House) or setting a cap on daily Internet use (Pavement Coffee House)…
On the other hand, this doesn’t address a rather important issue–the taste of the coffee
This story about drones being used to deliver beer in South Africa provides a good example about the dangers of generalization, such as believing all drones are bad:
Revellers at a South African outdoor rock festival no longer need to queue to slake their thirst — a flying robot will drop them beer by parachute.
After clients place an order using a smartphone app, a drone zooms 15 metres (50 feet) above the heads of the festival-goers to make the delivery.
Carel Hoffmann, director of the Oppikoppi festival held on a dusty farm in the country’s northern Limpopo province, said the app registers the position of users using the GPS satellite chips on their phones.
“The delivery guys have a calibrated delivery drone. They send it to the GPS position and drops it with a parachute,” he explained.
Even Rand Paul has tweeted that he’s not against all drones in response to this story. Alcohol appears to be the common denominator when Paul considers the use of drones, such as with his previous statement in support of using drones against someone robbing a liquor store: “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” Paul is also having difficulty in using numbers and coherently discussing economic issues.
As I discussed last week, Star Trek Into Darkness was a enjoyable action movie which hopefully serves to keep Star Trek alive in some form, but does not live up to the quality of the show. The producers ignored plot development to deliver a series of action scenes, while using the gimmick of an alternative timeline to avoid the need for consistency. Major spoilers do follow. Startrek.com interviewed Star Trek Into Darkness co-writers and co-producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. One question dealt with the alternative timeline:
Zoe Saldana has been quoted in interviews as saying that the Uhura (Saldana)-Spock (Zachary Quinto) romance will not work in the long run because that’s not what ultimately happened inThe Original Series. Given the alternate timeline, can’t this relationship go anywhere? Can’t you do… anything, really, with any and all of the characters?
ORCI: If she says that, I think she’s wrong. We can do whatever we want. However, the rule that we have for ourselves is that it has to harmonize with canon. This is going to get way too geeky, and I apologize ahead of time… Quantum mechanics, which is how we based our time travel, is not just simple time travel. Leonard Nimoy didn’t just go back and change history (as Spock Prime in the 2009 film), and then everything is like Back to the Future. It’s using the rules of quantum mechanics, which means it’s an alternate universe where there is no going back. There is no fixing the timeline. There’s just another reality that is the latest and greatest of time travel that exist. So, on the one hand we’re free. On the other hand, these same rules of quantum mechanics tell us that the universes that exist, they exist because they are the most probable universe.
Star Trek actually dealt with alternative timelines in different ways. Frequently when something changed history, as in The City On The Edge of Forever, members of the Enterprise crew would go back in time and would fix the timeline. The mirror universe which featured in several episodes did continue on its own with major differences. In Parallels, Worf saw several parallel realities which varied in how different each was for his original reality. This came closest to the timelines of quantum mechanics which Orci discussed but the specific situation of one person changing history was more commonly treated as having a single timeline which can be changed and later repaired.
Now that we have the situation of Spock and Uhura having a romance, there is no reason it cannot continue despite this not occurring in the original timeline. The bigger question is why this romance ever could start at all. Saying the timeline has changed has been an easy way to keep what they want in Star Trek and change other things. We have a Spock who handles emotions differently, but it is not clear why that is the case. One of the advantages of a weekly television show over movies is that they could have episodes detailing how this Spock handles emotions as compared to the original Spock. The emotions and humanity of Spock, Data, and the Voyager Holodeck Doctor were common themes of three of the series which would not work in the action movies.
My biggest fear in this new timeline is that nothing seems to have consequences and there are no limits. Vulcan was destroyed and now they are developing New Vulcan, as if an entire planet can be easily repopulated. If they have questions, future-Spock has the answers. There no real need for Starships as it is possible for Khan to transport himself from Earth to Kronos. If there are battles to be fought, the Entreprise is bigger than the one in the Roddenberry universe. If that isn’t enough, even bigger Starships can be built. Distance is not an issue in space as it takes no time to travel back from Kronsos to Earth, and Kirk has no difficulty communicating with Scotty from light years away. Kirk dies and is quickly brought back to life with blood from Khan, and there is a tremendous supply remaining with Khan and the others who are frozen. Theoretically there is no limit to a cure synthesized from Khan’s blood. The television shows certainly took liberties with what is scientifically possible, and would show abilities in some episodes which were forgotten when they might have been used again, but not as flagrantly as this movie.
If they were not content with a series of action scenes they might have placed some limits to keep this and future stories more plausible. Perhaps the curative powers of the blood are not present immediately upon awakening from suspended animation, which would also explain why Khan needed to be captured as opposed to awakening another. We could also imagine the Federation, which has always had lots of restrictions (primarily to promote drama and limit easy solutions), banning the awakening of Khan and the others. Unfortunately such explanations would results in breaks in the action which would not be consistent with the all-action type of movie being produced, but which made the television shows far better.
Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci discussed the various Easter eggs placed in Star Trek Into Darkness in this interview.
Bob: The biggest addition was Benedict Cumberbatch. He was so compelling on the set that the other actors brought extra energy and extra attention to their roles. He was a force of nature. In terms of his character, we wanted to make sure that the audience did not need any previous knowledge to understand him. So the big debate was: should he or shouldn’t he be Khan?
Alex: We agreed he can be Khan as long as the audience doesn’t have to know that back story. Our challenge was to define a story that doesn’t rely on previous knowledge, or love of Khan or “Star Trek 2.” We thought if we can do that, then we can think of using that great character Khan.
Bob: Once we had that standalone story, we wondered: are there details from Khan’s history that fit? We returned to our Easter eggs at the back of the fridge: there were those seventy-two torpedoes that happened to house his crew. If we can use the details of Khan’s back story given our structure to make the movie more specific and more relevant, then that works.
Alex: We couldn’t use Khan just as a gimmick, as an excuse to get fans into the theaters. Once we developed the story, suddenly the details of Khan’s life became an even better way to tell it. Only when we decided that Khan really does fit here – and the fans know that Khan is to the series what The Joker is to “Batman” – that’s when we decided we earned it.
Bob: And that’s when we went for it. Khan is the ultimate Easter egg.
I saw them more as dropping a few lines to tie the movie into Star Trek’s past without really trying to do what made Star Trek great. Khan is hardly to the series what The Joker is to Batman. Khan appeared in exactly one episode of the original series and one movie. Plus each of these did a far better job of presenting Khan as a person with motives.
While Star Trek fans might be concerned about the types of issues I raised, the media has paid more attention to controversy over the scene with Alice Eve in her underwear which I posted last week. In interviews, Alice Eve didn’t seem terribly concerned. After all, as Seth MacFarlane would put it, we saw her boobs in movies such as Crossing Over (pictures not safe for work). Putting aside the arguments of sexism, tamer scenes such as in Star Trek Into Darkness have been common throughout the history of Star Trek from Kirk’s conquests in the original show, Seven of Nine’s “Borg enhancements” on Voyager, and those scenes of T’Pol in the Decon Chamber on Enterprise. Hoshi Sato also had difficulty keeping her clothes intact on Enterprise. Scenes of sexual exploitation aren’t all one-sided. Kirk was seen with his shirt off and J.J. Abrams showed a cut scene had been filmed with Benedict Cumberbatch in the shower while on Conan.
Steven Moffat shows far more attention to plotting than in the new version of Star Trek. He will show little things in many episodes of Doctor Who which don’t become important to a later date. Unfortunately he also leaves some questions unanswered. Some of these questions actually do have answers but wind up on the cutting room floor. One of many questions from The Name of the Doctor is how Clarence came about the information which saved his life and directed his friends towards Trenazlore. This is explained in the deleted scene above.
I had previously called The Americans the best new show of the season, but must revise that view after watching the first several episodes of Hannibal. Here are seven reasons you should be watching. Bryan Fuller was interviewed about the show he created based upon novels by Thomas Harris:
I want to ask about the level of gore and violence on Hannibal. Let’s start at the beginning when you first starting thinking about the show. How did you figure out its tone?
Bryan Fuller: What was always interesting about Thomas Harris’ books is they were a wonderful hybridization of a crime thriller and a horror movie. So I felt like we had to be true to that. Because Silence of the Lambs and Manhunter and Red Dragon have a certain pedigree of crime horror/thriller, in order to be true to that genre, we had to have a certain amount of graphic content to honor the source material, and also honor the expectations of the audience who are approaching the material realizing this is a horror icon. If we didn’t have certain ingredients for that dish, then it really wouldn’t be that dish.
What did you think were the keys there?
BF: Well, what was always fascinating with the villains of Thomas Harris’ books is they have this purple, operatic quality to them. They were also strikingly visual and cinematic. I think it was always our goal to honor the source material, because as a fan of the Thomas Harris books — I read Red Dragon in high school — I wanted to make sure that the loyalist in me and the loyalists out there were being delivered what they were being promised in calling the show Hannibal.
Fuller was later asked about network restrictions:
In terms of how you decided how to show the dead bodies in the pilot, was NBC fine with it? Did it get edited at all?
BF: The only restrictions were mostly nudity. Then other things would be a matter of frames and trimming: a concise method of delivering the imagery that didn’t rely on overt gore. There were times that were like, “OK, you can see the intestines, and you can see the abdominal wound, but you can’t see the intestines coming out of the abdominal wound.” Which, to me, felt perfectly reasonable! There were never any huge battles about gore. The conversations that we had were very much about, “These few frames here tip it, so can you remove those shots?” Or “Can you limit that shot?” They let us go a good distance at having striking visual imagery that wasn’t exploitive porn violence but actually had a great psychological impact to them.
Other than for the absence of nudity, Hannibal does feel much more like a cable show than a network television show. It does follow the pattern used successfully by many other shows in both having a continuing storyline and having each episode deal with a monster/crime of the week. Fuller begins with characters from Thomas Harris’s book Red Dragon, making significant changes in some of the characters for the television series. Besides Hannibal, the other major figure is Will Graham, who has the ability to see crimes from the killer’s point of view. So far they have used this to provide information to propel episodes without giving away too much to make investigation unnecessary.
Fuller has planned stories taking place over seven thirteen-episode seasons, taking Hannibal from a psychiatrist who is helping solve murders (while commuting some of his own) to the incarcerated mad genius of Silence of the Lambs. It is questionable if the show can last for seven years on network television, and Fuller’s track record is not very good in terms of getting his series renewed. The show is receiving excellent reviews from the critics but not spectacular ratings. If NBC decides not to renew the show, both cable channels and Amazon have expressed interest in continuing it. Amazon has already purchased exclusive rights to reshow first season episodes. They might find it beneficial to add new episodes to those of the first season, as Netflix is doing with Arrested Development.
Netflix just released fifteen new episodes of Arrested Development. It has been seven years since the third season ended (with many of us watching a little more recently on DVD, and others even more recently on Netflix). Den of Geek brings us up to date on the story lines. Popwatch recommended five episodes to rewatch to prepare for the new episodes. Watch With Kristen tells us a little bit about what we will be seeing. More interviews here and here.
Game of Thrones producer Frank Doelger is also looking at a seven year series:
Speaking backstage at the Baftas – where Game of Thrones was also nominated in the International category – Doelger said: “[The number of series] is being discussed as we speak. The third season was the first half of book three, season four will be the second part of book three. George RR Martin has written books four and five; six and seven are pending.
“I would hope that, if we all survive, and if the audience stays with us we’ll probably get through to seven seasons.”
The second episode of season three of Sherlock. The Sign of Three, has completed filming:
Filming has completed today on the second block of Sherlock filming – largely comprising Sherlock S3E2: The Sign of Three – after four weeks of work which began on Monday April 22 2013. The second episode of the third series is written by Stephen Thompson and directed by Colm McCarthy.
Filming of The Sign of Three has taken place in cities in England and Wales familiar to the Sherlock production team, including an extensive period of work in Bristol at the beginning of the schedule. London also once again paid host to the series towards the end of the shoot, while filming itself wrapped on stage in Cardiff just before 20:00BST this evening.
Additional material for S3E1: The Empty Hearse was also shot during the latter stages of this second block of filming, under the direction of Jeremy Lovering.
Production on Sherlock Series Three will now take a scheduled break, to allow cast and crew to fulfil other long planned obligations.
Cast and crew are due to fully reconvene in late July 2013 for filming on the third episode of the series, written by Steven Moffat.
I included the full text of the post primarily to give the feeling of how much time and effort goes into each episode of Sherlock, as compared to an American network television series. I stopped watching CBS’s Fake Sherlock series early in the season, feeling that Elementary, as they call it, was simply an average network crime of the week series which applied the names of Holmes and Watson. After reading that Natalie Dormer would be playing Irene Adler and the final episodes would include Moriarty I decided to watch the last few episodes of the season. The back story, for those who have not been watching, is that Sherlock Holmes fell in love with Irene Adler, who was apparently captured and killed by Moriarty. Sherlock got hooked on drugs. He received treatment, moved to New York where he was quickly trusted by the NYPD, and a female version of Watson became his caregiver. Over the course of the season it appears that Watson moved on to become a detective as opposed to caregiver, and Moriarty was behind some of the criminals they apprehended.
The final episodes of the season dealt with Moriarty having Sherlock work on a case, with information to be provided in return. This led to Sherlock finding Irene Adler alive, and their story was told in flashbacks. There were more twists involving Moriarty but I will not spoil those in case others decide to watch these now that most network shows have concluded. The twist would not be acceptable if this was a more definitive retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories in modern times, as with the BBC version, but for a series which is only loosely based upon Sherlock Holmes this provided an interesting new story. Needless to say, the quality was what we would expect from most network television shows (not up to that of Hannibal) and far below that of Sherlock.
This sign should keep trespassers out.
And finally, in honor of the release of a new movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby, E! has recipes for ten top roaring ’20s cocktails.