Paul Krugman Leaving Princeton To Be Closer To Zabar’s

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.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Arrow; The Flash; SHIELD; Sarah Connor; Homeland; Interstellar; James Bond; Binge Drinking; Binge Viewing; Santa Claus and Science

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.

More at Screen Rant and the BBC.

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.

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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 Relationship 
Andrew 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
Greg Berlanti: In the back half of the year, you definitely hear about what happened to [Barry] in the way that you’re hearing now about Star Labs and things like that – in the periphery and certainly in terms of Felicity since she has a connection with him.

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.

Emilia Clarke

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:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Atlantis; SHIELD; Arrow; Last Week’s Revelation on Homeland; The Blacklist; Once Upon A Time In Wonderland; Star Trek; Star Wars; American Blackout; X-Men; Time Travel; Dealing With A Zombie Apocalypse

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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.

black canary arrow

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.

Anastasia and Will Wonderland

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!

Episode 304

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.

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Google Surprises Android With KitKat

Android KitKat

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?

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Choosing A Coffee Shop

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

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Not All Drones Are Bad

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.

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Into Darkness; Doctor Who; Hannibal; Arrested Development; Game of Thrones; Sherlock and Fake Sherlock; Roaring ’20s Cocktails

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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?

Roberto Orci talk about Star Trek Into Darkness

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.

Cumberbatch Shower

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.

Hannibal Family Dinner

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.

banana_stand_1

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.”

elementary-jonny-lee-miller-natalie-dormer-cbs

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.

Daleks Trespassing

This sign should keep trespassers out.

Great Gatsby

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.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Person of Interest; Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver; Don and Megan in Hawaii; Downton Abbey; The Hour; Klingon Wedding

There was not a new episode of Fringe this week, but we do have the video above and some information on upcoming episodes:

Friday, October 26 at 9pm: “The Bullet that Saved the World”

When the Fringe team tracks a lead into a hostile and heavily guarded location, Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) resurfaces – but can he be trusted?

Friday, November 2 at 9pm: “An Origin Story”

In the aftermath of devastating events, the Fringe team reels and someone makes a pivotal and shocking move.

Friday, November 9 at 9pm: “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There”

A Fringe team member takes on a new role, and Walter (John Noble) follows leads to a key piece in their battle against the Observers.

Friday, November 16 at 9pm: “Five-Twenty-Ten”

As the fight for the future intensifies, a member of the Fringe team orchestrates a Fringe event of his own.

Amy Acker didn’t return on this week’s episode of Person of Interest but above is a video of her talking about the season. On the show, Finch is still feeling the effects of being kidnapped by Root, while Carter ran into Snow. At the conclusion of the episode we found that Snow is being controlled by Reese’s old partner Kara Stanton, who has strapped a bomb vest onto Snow. I’m now sure if Kara is simply going after those who had tried to have her killed (along with Reese), if she is also involved in going after the machine as Root is, or if she has some other agenda. Unfortunately, as the mythology segments are often interspersed into episodes about the person of interest of the week, it is getting hard to keep track of all the conspiracies going on.

Above is the teaser for a longer preview to be released on Tuesday for Iron Man 3. Here’s the description of the movie:

Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

It appears that Benedict Cumberbatch liked what he saw in Lara Pulver’s nude scenes when she played Irene Adler in A Scandal In Bohemia (an episode of Sherlock last season). The two are now rumored to be dating:

Love mystery of Holmes and his naked co-star: TV seduction ‘turns to real romance’ for star couple

As a whip-wielding dominatrix, she played the only woman capable of seducing the emotionally detached Sherlock Holmes.

Now life is imitating fiction for actress Lara Pulver, who has struck up an ‘affectionate’ relationship with Benedict Cumberbatch, who played the troubled detective in BBC1’s latest adaptation.

The pair, both 36, radiated an on-screen chemistry in the sexually charged episode A Scandal In Bohemia, in which Pulver appeared naked as Irene Adler.

And last Thursday they were openly flirtatious when they attended the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards together.

Cumberbatch brought his former co-star along as his ‘plus one’ as he collected the Best Actor award.

Last season Mad Men ended with Don at a bar, being asked if he was alone. At least it doesn’t appear that things are over yet between Don and Megan. Jon Hamm and Jessica Pare have been sited filming a scene together in Hawaii which is thought to be for the sixth season premiere.

Downton Abbey fans are still shocked by the events of last week (no spoilers for American viewers who are waiting until the show season begins in January). It now looks like the show will be extended for a fourth season, and then followed with a movie.

HIT drama Downton Abbey could be heading to cinema screens after cast members revealed plans to turn it into a Hollywood movie.

The worldwide phenomenon was originally ­­ supposed to finish after the third ­series, currently showing on ITV1.

But cast members now believe a fourth series will be commissioned, before the Crawley family’s story ­concludes with a feature film.

A show source said: “Hollywood bosses are especially keen to make a film adaption due to the show’s success in America.

“A fourth series is now 99% certain but the worry is ­leading cast members will soon leave and follow film ­careers to capitalise on their new-found fame.

“One option is to conclude the drama with a feature film after series four, which would be a huge box office hit.

“It would end the show on a high and then free up the cast to pursue Hollywood careers.”

The Hour returns for a  second season in November. Above is Romola Garai.

“What happened with The Hour,” she tells me, “was basically that I picked up the script and the first line I read was, ‘Bel is sitting at her desk.’ And I was like, well, this is fucking amazing. This part is mine. Because how often are you ever introduced to a young female character and she’s sitting behind an actual desk? The main thing I’m interested in is that I don’t want the women I play to be defined by their romantic involvement with the male lead. I want them to have a job. So the fact that Bel having a job is the first thing we know about her was a huge deal for me.”

Garai says she recognises a lot of Bel’s character in herself. “We are similar in being ambitious, young women who love our jobs and are truly passionate about them. And who are interested in the world around them, and in politics. But we are different in that Bel is a real diplomat with people, which I’m not at all. I say what I think, and then get into trouble.” She tries to look sheepish about this, but it’s not particularly convincing. “Actually, I think it’s OK to fight for what you care about. The best piece of advice I was given about work was by someone who told me that it’s OK to have conflict. I think sometimes women need to be reminded of that.”

Maybe its the first wedding with a Borg cube for a wedding cake, but I don’t believe this is the first Klingon wedding to occur in the U.K.
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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Awake; Lost-Style Reset on Once Upon A Time?; Mad Men, The Beatles, and Rory Gilmore; Damage to Manhattan from The Avengers; Why Companions on Doctor Who Are Usually Young Women

The season finale of Fringe, Brave New Worlds, could easily have been the series finale if the show was not renewed. While there will always be questions remaining on Fringe, the major story lines of the season were resolved. Knowing both of September’s warning and that Olivia was the source of power needed by William Bell, it came as no surprise that Olivia was shot. We also know that death is not necessarily permanent on Fringe, and her recovery due to high levels of cortexiphan around her brain was also predictable.

The season finale set up the situation for next season which we saw in Letters of Transit. We learned that Olivia was pregnant, William Bell was still around (explaining why he was in the Amber), and received the warning at the end of the episode that “They’re coming.”

Things will probably be more complex. Olivia seemed to hesitate before telling Peter that she was pregnant. At the time I was wondering if Olivia would say something suggesting she no longer had her old memories of Peter (or feelings for him). There is clearly something which Olivia held off on saying.

Was the timing of this warning just after William Bell’s failure to start a new universe for dramatic effect to set up the next season, or was there a connection between Bell’s actions and the plans of the Observers? Multiple explanations are possible. Perhaps the Observers had planned to live in Bell’s new universe and decided to conquer our world after this failed. Perhaps Bell knew of the plans and this was his attempt to save humanity the fate of living under oppressive rule by the Observers. Perhaps the Observers justified taking over the earth as a means of protecting them from mad scientists such as William Bell.

TV Guide has an interview with J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner on how the season finale leads into season 5:

“They are coming!” Can we assume that the “they” is the Observers, and you’re lining up with what we saw in 2036?
J.H. Wyman: Yes.

Are you going to stay in the current timeline, or will we see some flashing forward and backward next season?
Wyman:
Well, let’s say that basically 2036 is extremely important to Season 5. It’s crucial, but having said that, everything that you have seen in Fringe from Season 1 all the way to 4 is really, really, really, really important to what’s going on in Season 5, and 2036 is part of that. It’s a 13-episode sprint; there’s no filler episodes. It answers some very bold questions. It culminates with a very satisfying type of crescendo that really is so important for the fans, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the only thing that’s really important is to make sure that they feel absolutely satiated.

Because Olivia did technically die in the finale, does this mean that was the moment September had envisioned? And, will she always heal rapidly and now never die?
Wyman:
At the end of every season, we close a chapter, and you’ve heard us say that before, but this chapter being closed is a gentle closing for a reason.  We wanted to allow the characters to be in the emotions that they fought for and deserved and allow them to experience a little bit of peace and understand where they are.
Jeff Pinkner: Part of the answer to your question is yes, Olivia healed because of all the cortexiphan. At the end of Season 4, as Walter said on the screen, because of the wildly activated cortexiphan in her body, this experiment to heal her brain tissue would work.  Because that’s not constantly the case, because that’s just a fleeting condition, absolutely, she could be killed.
Wyman: They don’t know if anything is over.  So they’ve been given that warning. I think that it’s best to have the audience not know either and be with them in that trepidation of going forward, going, “Well, maybe.” That’s more like real life, isn’t it?

Especially because the “X Man” who was supposed to kill her — as we saw in last season’s trippy animation episode — wasn’t very obvious.
Wyman:
Basically, when Walter was going through the Nanites. From that episode when she was in William’s head, she said, “I know that’s the man who’s going to kill me.” She had a feeling that when she was in William Bell’s head, that there was a man and it manifested itself as a character in William Bell’s head in the comic that they’re experiencing and it had that emblem on it.

Then, ultimately, in this episode, you saw in the in the Nanites they had the emblem on it. When Walter recognized that that was William Bell’s creation by that mark, because that was the mark that William used to mark things with. So really, in a sense, it was William Bell who killed Olivia. You could argue, saying when she came out of William Bell’s head, she said, “That’s the man who’s going to kill me,” it was actually William Bell.

Now that Olivia is pregnant, will she worry about putting herself in the line of fire, or will Peter be worrying about her?
Wyman:
You’ll probably understand that a lot more when you see Season 5, without spoiling stuff. That’s not something that’s going to be examined in the way you just laid it out. But keep in mind that in Fringe, when we say, “There’s going to be a love triangle,” it’s a weird show, so you can have a love triangle with two people, like two Olivias in the love triangle. So we can do some pretty freaky things, but it’s not going to be big issue.

Can we look forward to seeing the two universes bridged back together again? I actually like the other side now!
Wyman:
We really appreciate you saying that because I think, no secret, that it was a really tough endeavor for us to actually introduce that. We fell in love with them and we were hoping that the fans would and we’re so glad to hear when people say that they missed them.
Pinker: We had a conversation with Fox earlier in the season while we were closing the door, one of our Fox executive partners said, “I was so sad.  I had tears in my eyes when we closed the door, and we said, “Yeah, these were characters that you never wanted us to introduce in the first place because you were afraid that nobody would care about them.”  She said, “I was so wrong.”
Wyman: Everything is a possibility on Fringe.

Will Walter feel a sense of responsibility for William Bell trying to destroy the two universes? Is that something he will be dealing with next season?
Wyman:
We’ve always said that science is science and knowledge is knowledge; it’s how you use it that’s the evil. So while I don’t think he feels responsible, there’s many lessons Walter is learning and has learned since the first time we met him. If anything, it’s going to actually make him very positive that he did the right thing all those years by cutting a portion out of his brain.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, and hubris out of control like that is surely the end. Every civilization that’s ever fallen basically is because of some sort of hubris. It’s the overreaching of man, which is a huge, huge, huge thing in science fiction. How much knowledge is too much knowledge? He just feels, at this point, that they’ve made it through and averted this incredible disaster.

Before Olivia revealed to Peter that she was pregnant, she seemed to hesitate. Is there something she saw or something she learned when she died that will play into next season?
Wyman:
You’re very perceptive. Let’s just say you will understand the hesitation.

There’s an indication that the Fringe Division will grow next season. What can you tell us about that?
Pinker:
You will see changes, but you will see things that are familiar, as well.  I know that’s a terrible answer, but the truth is, I just can’t say in specificity what exactly is going to happen.

Now that you know this will be your final season, what are you guys doing differently in your approach?
Wyman:
We’re so thankful. Four years of everybody working incredibly hard, people have put their heart and soul in this show, and by some amazing miracle, we get a chance to get more canvas to paint on, and it’s like the biggest thrill and honor, and we’re just going into it knowing that we’re very fortunate.

The main concern is in no way shape or form are our fans going to be let down. That makes us feel really good that they’re going to be able to see a conclusion that is emotional, that is epic, that is going to make sense, that they can emote with and go through our characters and watch them on their final journey and put this show away in a manner that is worthy to all the hours they’ve invested in our characters. The only thing it does is make the pencil be a little bit more sharp, that’s all.

Leonard Nimoy says he returned to Fringe largely due to enjoying the idea of playing a villain, and might return next season.

Two additional genre shows deal in different ways with alternate realities–Awake and Once Upon A Time. Last week’s episode of Awake, Say Hello To My Little Friend, had Britten unconscious in the Rex world. He spent most of the episode in the world where his wife remained alive, unable to return to the other world until he figured out that the little friend he was having visions of was actually another police office who was involved in the conspiracy to kill him. Realizing there was a conspiracy sets up the two-part series finale.

There were a number of points of significance in this episode. It now looks more certain that the conspiracy was part of both worlds, but there is still no explanation as to why we have only seen talk of finishing the job in the Hannah universe should he not move to Oregon. Visions were once again a key part of an episode and the visions of Detective Hawkins were not completely limited to information which was already in Britten’s head. In one scene, the vision of Hawkins told Britten that the real world version of himself was outside, giving Britten information he otherwise would not have had. Another aspect of the series which has never been explained is timing in the two worlds. After living through a Monday in one world and going to bed does Britten then live through Monday in the other? In this case, Britten spent a long time in the Hannah world and then returned to the Rex world right after he passed out, by now on a previous day.

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Once Upon A Time moves between our world and a fairy-tale world, where the stories are sometimes different from those we have heard. Since the start of the show I’ve feared that the premise could not survive several years, as should Emma ever be successful the story would be over.  Over time the format could get tedious if we always knew that Emma could not reverse the curse. However, the show comes from the creators of Lost, raising speculation that there could be real game changers to rejuvenate the show each season. This is suggested in the video interview with Raphael Sbarge above. The show’s co-creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz also suggested a Lost-style reset in this interview:

TVLINE | What other drama is going on in Storybrooke outside of the Henry thing?
KITSIS | All of the stories in Storybrooke are going to be stemming from Henry falling.
HOROWITZ | They all kind of converge around that pivot point. And the intensity does grow.

TVLINE | How is August doing? Is he flipping through termite control ads?
HOROWITZ | We do check in on August and his condition, and that does play a part in the finale. Everybody’s agendas – Regina’s, Gold’s, August’s – all sort of intertwine around this crisis point.

TVLINE | What is Mr. Gold’s particular take on the Henry situation?
KITSIS | We got his take in the last episode, where Regina says she came up with a sleeping curse, and he says, “All magic has a price.” So… magic has a price! It’s just a question of who pays it.

TVLINE | We’ve kind of come full circle on the Snow White story – she’s bitten the apple, and in the pilot Prince Charming rescued her. Or will the fairytale land be subject to a finale twist of its own?
KITSIS | The finale will kind of tie up some loose ends to their story, and at the same time present a new avenue for Season 2. But…. Well….
HOROWITZ | “We don’t want to tell you,” is what it is. [Laughs]

TVLINE | I guess my bigger question here is: Should we prepare for some Lost-style “reset”? Will this be an instance of the playing field changing Sunday at 8:59 pm?
HOROWITZ | How the audience perceives it, we can’t anticipate, but for us it does change the playing field. We like to think what we’re doing is evolving the show so that it remains true to what it’s been this year, but it takes a step forward into something new.
KITSIS | I feel like the best way to experience the finale is to say, “What the hell are they going to do?”
HOROWITZ | And one of our other goals with the finale – you’ll tell us whether we succeed or not – is that at the end of it you say, “What the hell are they going to do next?”

TVLINE | Will the finale introduce any new players to the canvas?
KITSIS | It will introduce some new… story ideas. But as far as new characters, if you’re talking, like, Michelle Rodriguez showing up at the end of a Lost finale, no. That’s not to say there won’t be new characters next year; but this finale is about the characters we’ve introduced.
HOROWITZ | And there may be some old characters seen in a new way.

TVLINE | What gamut of emotions will viewers be going through during, say, the final 60 seconds?
KITSIS |All of them.
HOROWITZ | Our hope is that in those final moments, there is a combination of satisfaction and also intense surprise.
KITSIS | The emotion you’ll be feeling is, “Holy, holy, holy s—t.”

The Beatles have been mentioned on Mad Men in the past, but this week they managed to have a Beatles song played during the show. While Matthew Weiner has denied the exact figure, there has been speculation that it cost around $250,000 to get the rights to play Tomorrow Never Knows during the episode. Different articles on the subject quoted prices between $50,000 and $100,000 as typical for getting song rights for a television show. If Mad Men is going to provide a strong presentation of the 1960′s, it makes sense to pay what it takes to include the Beatles, considering  how important they were to music of the era.

The big question after last week’s episode, beyond how they got the rights to a Beatles song, was why Rory Gilmore would hook up with Pete Campbell. Pete showed how creepy he could be when he returned to her house with her husband, but at least this was not as bad as when he tried with that high school student in a recent episode. You would think he would be satisfied with Alison Brie.

The Avengers showed considerable destruction in Manhattan (with much of it occurring just down the block from a hotel on 5th Avenue where I had stayed a few years ago). The Hollywood Reporter obtained the opinion Kinetic Analysis Corp., one of the leading disaster-cost prediction and assessment firms in the nation, as to the cost of the damage:

In an exclusive report for THR, KAC, led by Chuck Watson and Sara Jupin, employed computer models used for predicting the destruction of nuclear weapons and concluded that the physical damage of the invasion would be $60 billion-$70 billion, with economic and cleanup costs hitting $90 billion. Add on the loss of thousands of lives, and KAC puts the overall price tag at $160 billion.

For context, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cost $83 billion, Hurricane Katrina cost $90 billion, and the tsunami in Japan last year washed away $122 billion.

Although many buildings in the fight’s East Midtown arena suffered extensive structural damage, most were limited to the more superficial destruction of windows, facade and some interiors. Those buildings that had their tops crushed, though, would be especially costly and time-consuming to fix, as would be Grand Central Station, through which a warship crashed.

“The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive, depending on the subsurface damage to the subway system,” KAC notes. “Although such damage is unlikely, as the 9/11 events showed, collapsing buildings can cause significant damage to subsurface infrastructure such as gas, communications and electrical systems. Detailed site surveys will be required to assess the state of the subterranean infrastructure.”

KAC also predicts that liability would be a major issue. Who, exactly, will have to pay for the damage? S.H.I.E.L.D., they note, is likely protected as a government agency, though probes eventually will look into its role in predicting, preventing and responding to the invasion — just as they looked into the Ghostbusters.

“Most insurance policies have special provisions for acts of war, civil unrest or terrorism,” KAC adds. “Given the involvement of individuals considered deities in some cultures (Thor, Loki), there is even the potential to classify the event as an ‘act of God,’ though that designation would be subject to strenuous theological and legal debate.”

Watson said he was surprised by a lower-than-expected total. “Compared to the aliens in Independence Day, for example, these guys were amateurs,” he told THR. “Of course, the Chitauri/Loki alliance were more interested in conquest and ruling, whereas the ID aliens were just looking for lunch or something.”

Despite the damage, The Avengers has helped in the sale of one type of food–Schwarma. If you saw the movie and do not understand this, you failed to stay for both scenes during the credits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EgB6IVsuc0A#!

Craig Ferguson is returning to Scotland for a week of shows. From the promo it looks like he might have used a TARDIS to get there.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have left the TARDIS. Here is a video of them leaving the set of Doctor Who for the last time. Jenna-Louise Coleman will be taking over. Steven Moffat has commented on the next companion, and what type of person becomes a companion:

Moffat has said that while the new character will “shock”, there will be familiar elements. He said: “I’ll answer you in the show about how it’s going to be different. But because it is going to be different. It’s going to be a shock, I think. In terms of the companions all being ‘the same’ – that’s not as phony or artistically crap a thing to say as it sounds.

“What is the base group of people who would run away with the Doctor? They’re all going to be a bit mad. A bit dislocated. Not happy with where they are. Are they yearning for outer space? They’re going to be people who feel like they can take on the Doctor, who’s quite an intimidating sort of person. So, they’re going to be feisty – they’re going to be all those things. He sort of defines the people who are going to travel with him. The distinction comes very much from the various actors and actresses. So, you know, they’re the ones who create the differences between them. But you are always going to have the same sort of person, just because it’s the same man choosing them, and it”s the same person being chosen.”

Moffat also addressed the trend for the companions usually being young women. He said: “I think the function of a companion is pretty simple. I don’t think that’s very difficult. It’s just a question of who credibly is going to agree to go in the TARDIS? Who’s going to do it? Is it going to be a mother of 15 children? No. Is it going to be someone in their 60s? No. Is there going to be a particular age range? I mean… who’s going to have a crush on the Doctor? You know, come on! It’s more than a format. It’s evolved from good, dramatic reasons.”

This has not been a good time for renewal of genre shows on network television. Fringe is coming back for one final abbreviated season but shows including Alcatraz and Awake are not returning. Community also returns for a short season. While there is not official word as to whether this will be its final season, moving the show to Friday probably places it at greater risk.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Convention News; Jenna-mania; Sherlock; Emma Stone on Spider-Man; Star Trek Secrecy; Fringe; Awake; Mad Men; Leonard Nimoy on Big Bang Theory

The first ever official Doctor Who convention took place this weekend, and Steven Moffat discussed the event in the video above. More videos can be found here, here, and here.

The biggest news out of the convention is that the fifth episode next season, which has the final encounter with the Weeping Angels (and final appearance of Amy and Rory) will take place and be filmed in New York City. While in New York, the cast might feel at  home in this TARDIS-themed bar which Karen Gillan mentioned in an interview.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HEPZRZ5P6po

Low-quality versions of trailer for the new season, taken while shown at the convention, have also been posted on many sites, as above. Hopefully we will have an official release early next week. Steven Moffat’s promotion of the season: “Amy and Rory leaving, tragedy, heartbreak and a Western, what more do you want out of Television. Come on Downton take that on!”

The biggest Doctor Who news of the week came on Wednesday before the convention with the naming of Jenna-Louise Coleman as the next assistant, beginning with the Christmas 2012 episode. The initial announcement, along with news on the upcoming season, were first posted here. In a follow-up post later in the day I had interviews with Jenna and Steven Moffat. A post on Thursday concentrated on her roles in Captain American and Titanic, along with advice from Matt Smith. On Friday we had the first official BBC picture of Jenna in front of the TARDIS, information on another series she is appearing in, Dancing on the Edge, and a report of links to an alleged sex tape with Jenna-Louise Coleman which actually lead to a malicious site. There’s also a brief video of what Matt Smith might say to people searching for sex tapes of Jenna.

Steven Moffat spoke to Radio Times about Doctor Who and Sherlock. He dismissed internet rumors that Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the Master and reports that he has not started writing season three of Sherlock yet:

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has dismissed reports that Benedict Cumberbatch is to play the villainous Master on the sci-fi series.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com at the Royal Television Society awards, Moffat said: “People really do sit in rooms and make that stuff up. Look at the filming schedules for Doctor Who and Sherlock – those two shows tend to shoot at the same time. We’d have a problem and there’s only so much I can arrange.”

But he then added, as a quick afterthought: “But who knows what could happen in the future…”

Moffat also told RadioTimes.com about plans for the forthcoming series of Doctor Who. Asked whether there would be a large story arc running through the episodes, or if we could expect self-contained adventures, he said: “As ever, there’s a bit of both. But this time we’re moving closer to stand-alone stories. At this point, we’re not planning any two-parters. So, every week is going to be like a different mad movie.”

He added: “We went quite ‘arc’ last time and we’re going stand-alone this time around. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those things creeping in. You’ve got to find a way to make the last episode special, and by God that worked ratings-wise last year. We don’t want to abandon that idea.”

Asked for any teasers he could offer, the ever-evasive Moffat replied: “Watch out for the title of episode two. I think that’s a belter. It’s one of my favourite titles ever.”

As for his other hit BBC1 series, the detective drama Sherlock, Moffat had this to say about series three: “Mark [Gatiss] and I have planned it out. We haven’t started writing it yet because I’ve got God knows how many episodes of Doctor Who to get sorted first. But the way it works with Sherlock is that we starve you and then we give you a short burst and then we starve you again. It’s worked so far, we’re not going to change it.”

On the scheduling of future episodes, Moffat said: “I don’t actually know. Given that this is a show that I haven’t started writing yet, it’s a bit early to suggest scheduling. Once we hand them over, they’ll be on television quite quickly.”

Moffat remains unhappy about the planned CBS version of a modern-day Sherlock Holmes:

CBS announced earlier this year they would be filming a pilot called Elementary.

The US programme will feature Sherlock in New York and Watson will be played by 43-year-old Lucy Liu.

Steven Moffat says he hopes it will be good or it may degrade the Sherlock brand.

“It isn’t a version of our show,” he said. “They’ve just decided to go off and do one of their own, having been turned down by us to do an adaptation of our version.

“So how do you think I feel about it? Annoyed is in there.”

‘Rogue version’

The US Sherlock will be played by British actor Jonny Lee Miller.

If the pilot is successful, it will be turned into a TV series which will air on US television in the autumn.

“The bigger problem for us with Elementary is, what if it’s terrible? What if it’s awful? Then it degrades the brand,” he said.

“I remember there was a legitimate American version made of Coupling, actually adapted from our version.

“It was terrible and it was a disaster and it did sort of diminish the original.

“So if there’s this completely unrelated rogue version of Sherlock going around and it’s bad, it can be bad for us.”

So far CBS hasn’t revealed which Arthur Conan Doyle stories will be made.

Talking at the Royal Television Society Awards, Moffat dismissed the idea that legal action had been taken over copyright.

“We don’t own Sherlock Holmes,” he said. “We don’t even own the idea of updating it. It’s been done before.

“I hope they know their Sherlock Holmes very, very well indeed because we know what’s in our show and wasn’t in the original.

“So if we did discover our material had made it into somebody else’s show we would have a problem with that. If there is no such incidence of that, then there’s nothing we can object to.”

When asked about a possible fourth series, Moffat revealed that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was keen to continue playing the lead role.

A new internet meme–Otters who like like Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch also spoke about his fan base to Now.

Emma Stone talked about her initial reluctance to appear in Spider-Man:

“I heard about Spider-Man and I didn’t think it was something I would want to be a part of. I just thought that probably isn’t right for me. Then I [auditioned with Andrew Garfield] and realized that this was a really interesting, fantastic relationship between two people and that I was being really closed-minded,” she said.

The actress, who wore her naturally blonde hair for the part, went on to discuss how her character finally changed her mind about the film: “[I] started learning more about Gwen Stacy and her history and just fell in love with the character and with the fans, too. I started reading forums and getting involved more in the comic book universe and it just became something I really wanted to be a part of, just because of all those elements.”

Emma Stone discussed Spider-Man further in this interview. Here is a brief excerpt:

You went from playing a literary character in The Help who was in a much beloved book with its own kind of following, to a comic book character who’s iconic and has this rabid following. Was there a big difference for you between those characters and how they’re treated by their fans?Well of course the characters themselves are incredible different and there seems to be a different fan base between Spider-Man fans and fans of The Help. There are conventions for Spider-Man fans and there aren’t for The Help fans, although I would love to see a convention of The Help fans. It could be like the big Lebowski Fest. But they’re two tonally different worlds to me even though they both had such a rabid following. There’s a difference just in terms of bringing the material to life. There are different incarnations of Gwen Stacy and of Peter Parker throughout comic book history, all these different storylines to pull from depending on what kind of script you’re going to patch together. With The Help, it was such a distinct story that kind of needed to be matched line for line in a way. It felt different just in terms of becoming part of it and the way the material was adapted. But I’m so excited to be part of a movie with a built-in fan base in that way. You go to Comic-Con and there’s so much passion in one room. Everybody’s so passionate about these characters and how they’ve affected their own loves. It’s a really cool thing as an actor to know that you’re part of something that’s so much bigger than you. You’re not creating it from the ground up, you’re trying to fill the shoes of someone that’s been around a lot longer than you. It’s really exciting. I love that aspect of it.>

Why do you think the producers and writers went with Gwen instead of Mary Jane?Well, Gwen’s story happened before Mary Jane’s, and I think that coming back to their roots, it was interesting to explore the woman who came before Mary Jane. I think she’s such a definitive part of Peter Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane ultimately, who is literally the polar opposite in personality of Gwen Stacy. I think just building that into Peter’s life and seeing that story from the very beginning was really interesting. And of course Gwen’s story is so beautiful and important to that story of Spider-Man that I think they wanted to come from that angle at this time.

There might be less to report about the upcoming Star Trek movie as J.J. Abrams has built a wall around the set for secrecy.

I remain shocked that JJ Abrams destroy Vulcan in his Star Trek movies. That would be like eliminating Gallifrey and most of the Time Lords on Doctor Who.Oh, never mind.

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This week’s episode of Fringe, A Short Story About Love, cleared up Peter’s confusion about the meaning of a changed time-line. When Peter began searching for a way to get home, and rejected the Olivia in this time line even when she gained memories of “his” Olivia, I questioned this. Peter was treating the changed time line as if it was another form of alternative universe, but a changed time line would imply that it is the same universe in which things have changed. Olivia would be the same Olivia, but with different experiences due to the changes in the time line. Although I was thinking these things while watching, I also considered the possibility maybe Peter could be right as we really don’t have established rules for dealing with different time lines. Last night we found out that the interpretation I first had was actually correct, and Peter had been wrong. Peter also realized that reuniting with the Olivia in this time line was fine–not like sleeping with the hotter Olivia from the alternative universe (especially as we found out in the previous episode that having a baby with Altlivia led to bad consequences).

Awake didn’t address the show’s mythology this week, but once again showed a character whose life was different in each world even before the accident. Again this rules out the possibility of the universe splitting into two different paths at the time of the accident (unless we really get complex and have time move in both directions, which would be way too confusing).

Mad Men returns tonight. Here are some stories about the show:

Matthew Weiner spoke about Betty Draper’s reduced role and things which fans might hate in an interview with Huffington Post.

Stephanie Newman looked at what Mad Men might look like if it took place today. (Wouldn’t that defeat the whole idea of the show?)

All Things Considered looked at the influence of Mad Men.

ABC compared Betty with Don’s fiance, Megan.

January Jones discussed her absence from the premier with The Hollywood Reporter.

Today wonders whether Don Draper can finally be happy.

USA Today has a Mad Men quiz and reviewed where the characters left off last season.

Leonard Nimoy appears on The Big Bang Theory. Hopefully he does more than lend his voice to the toy version of himself (which might be the case considering how he only appeared in cartoon form in his last appearance on Fringe.) Following is an ad for the episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YbDraRwVTU&feature=player_embedded

And, on the topic of toys based upon science fiction shows:

Karen Gillan playing with herself.

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