SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Starts Filming; Karen Gillan Takes Manhattan; Sophia Miles Rumored To Replace Gillan; Game of Thrones and Man Men Returning Soon; Star Trek Sub-Plot On Big Bang Theory’s100th Episode

Filming on the second Star Trek movie by J. J. Abrams began on Thursday with a scheduled release date of May 17, 2013.

Paramount Pictures announced that principal photography has commenced in Los Angeles, CA on the sequel to STAR TREK from director J.J. Abrams. The film will be released on May 17, 2013 in 3D. The 2009 re-launch of the “Star Trek” franchise by Abrams was met with critical acclaim and a worldwide gross of over $385 million at the box office.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions present a Bad Robot Production of a J.J. Abrams Film. Returning to their posts on the Enterprise are John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, and Anton Yelchin. They are joined by new cast members Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Peter Weller.

Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry, the film is produced by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The script was written by Alex Kurtzman & Robert Orci & Damon Lindelof.

More information is available at TrekMovie.com.

While waiting for the movie, here’s a way to make your house sound like the Enterprise. Or perhaps you’d prefer to work on developing a working Tricorder and win a prize.

We’ll Take Manhattan, a movie about 1960’s model Jean Shrimpton, will broadcast on BBC4 in January. The trailer is above. The Guardian had a feature on both the movie and its star–Karen Gillan.:

We’ll Take Manhattan is a portrait of a photogenic love affair, but lit with flashes of class anxiety and period misogyny. While Shrimpton is portrayed as a beguiling ingénue, a muse who says little but looks great, Bailey (played by Aneurin Barnard) is the domineering, hostile “artist”, who shouts threateningly at women, uses Shrimpton and forgets his wife. I’ll say it – Bailey comes off like a bit of a dick, doesn’t he? Gillan’s eyebrows raise. “Oh!” she says. “Umm. Well. He’s not polite,” she agrees. “He’s cocky, he’s arrogant. But he adores her. He puts her on a pedestal. He likes her imperfections.”

When David Bailey himself shot Gillan and Barnard for a Vogue feature last year he sent her back to the make-up chair twice, saying: “Her eyes should be rounder and sadder.” In the film he tells her he likes her eyes with shadows underneath, after she’s been awake all night crying over him. “Like I said, as a model you are powerless, but the two of them collaborated on the work.”

Does Gillan think Shrimpton comes off as strong, in the relationship? “Models are talked about, not to. That’s still the way it is. But Jean walked out on her dad [when he objected to her affair with a married man] which shows she had bite. I think she was fierce. Quietly fierce.” Gillan grins. She says she identified most with the pre-Bailey Shrimpton, “a girl on the brink of becoming a woman. Playing her has taught me I’m stronger than I thought I was, and to appreciate the opportunities I’ve got – she was one of the ones who pursued a career, one of the ones who changed things for people like me.”

A missing radio script for a proposed Doctor Who radio series from the 1960’s has been found. More information here. Russell T. Davies is working on a new show which is being described as Doctor Who meets Harry Potter.

There are rumors flying on Twitter regarding the next companion for the Doctor after Amy Pond leaves. Sophia Myles from The Girl In The Fireplace is rumored to be returning. It would not be the first time someone has returned to play a different character on Doctor Who. From Blastr:

As all of us Whovians know, the Doctor, played by Matt Smith, lies (that’s rule number one). And so does Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. So when this one tweet teases hints at a (possible) character’s return to the long-running sci-fi series, we should take it with a pinch of salt, right?

The Daily Star is reporting that actress Sophia Myles (Moonlight, Spooks, Thunderbirds) is now being touted as the Time Lord’s next companion.

Why is that?

As we said, the whole thing started when Steven Moffat tweeted this tiny bit here: “Right EVERYBODY who follows me, go and follow @SophiaMyles – spin that fireplace. NOW.” He also added “I’ll explain later. Or not.”

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If that wasn’t enough, the whole thing became even more mysterious when Myles herself tweeted back: “Watch this (fire)place,” and “The plot thickens…”

HBO has announced that Game of Thrones will return on April 1. Mad Men will resume on AMC on March 25.

TrekMovie.com has some spoilers about the 100th episode of The Big Bang Theory which includes a Star Trek sub-plot:

In The Big Bang Theory’s 100th episode “The Recombination Hypothesis” the main focus is how Leonard and Penny may get back together. However Sheldon has his own subplot, focusing on how his order for some Star Trek merchandise has gone wrong. According to a tipster, Sheldon orders a Star Trek Spock life-size cutout, but when it arrives he is not happy. Sheldon was expecting it to be a cutout of the Leonard Nimoy Spock, but he gets Zachary Quinto’s Spock instead. Apparently Sheldon isn’t a fan, exclaiming “Zachary Quinto!? Live long, and suck it!” Sheldon’s disappointment factors into a later scene, when he tries to accept the new Spock.

Doctor Who, Star Trek, Avatar Among Hugo Nominees

The Hugo Award nominees are out. As I’ve discussed science fiction television and movies far more than novels here I’ll just note those categories in this post.  There’s a number of excellent choices for among movies including blockbusters like Star Trek and Avatar:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Avatar Screenplay and Directed by James Cameron (Twentieth Century Fox)
  • District 9 Screenplay by Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell; Directed by Neill Blomkamp (TriStar Pictures)
  • Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)
  • Star Trek Screenplay by Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman; Directed by J.J. Abrams (Paramount)
  • Up Screenplay by Bob Peterson & Pete Docter; Story by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, & Thomas McCarthy; Directed by Bob Peterson & Pete Docter (Disney/Pixar)

Doctor Who dominated the nominations among television shows:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who: “The Next Doctor” Written by Russell T Davies; Directed by Andy Goddard (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who: “Planet of the Dead” Written by Russell T Davies & Gareth Roberts; Directed by James Strong (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who: “The Waters of Mars” Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
  • Dollhouse: “Epitaph 1″ Story by Joss Whedon; Written by Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon; Directed by David Solomon (Mutant Enemy)
  • FlashForward: “No More Good Days” Written by Brannon Braga & David S. Goyer; Directed by David S. Goyer; based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer (ABC)

In recent years it was easy to pick a single episode of Doctor Who to honor–which ever one Steven Moffat wrote that year. With Moffat not having written any episodes last year, this is divided between three episodes by Russell T. Davies. If I had to pick one of them quickly without reviewing them I’d go with The Waters of Mars.  Of the entire set I’d vote for Epitaph 1, which I previously discussed here. I also suspect that dividing the vote between three episodes will decrease the chances of any of the Doctor Who episodes winning. The pilot episode of FlashForward was also excellent, making it a shame the show has not lived up to this potential.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Sequel; Dollhouse; New Shows; Next Doctor Who Companion in a Bikini

Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman deny the predictions made by Zoe Saldana that the script for the next movie is half way done.  They did discuss possibilities for the sequel with SciFi Wire:

Developing a worthy sequel to this year’s generally acclaimed and certainly lucrative Trek reboot will take much more time, Kurtzman said. They have to exhaust every possible idea to find the best ones.

“We take nothing for granted at this point,” Kurtzman said. “We’re only going to do it when it’s really right.”

The discussions include brainstorming classic Trek missions, which could be revisited with a new timeline established thanks to Spock and Nero’s time travel. Even generating new ideas brings up past Trek episodes, Orci said.

“Even when you pitch stuff, sometimes someone will be like, ‘Wow, that’s like that one episode,'” Orci said. “So even in trying to stay away from it, you can crash back in there.”

They hope to get some more of the classic catchphrases into the next movie:

One thing Orci does want to do is get more classic catchphrases into the sequel. Memorable moments in Abrams’ Trek included Spock Prime’s “Live long and prosper” and young Bones’ saying, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a … .” An example of a possible catchphrase to come? Bones has yet to say “He’s dead, Jim.”

“I noted that,” Orci admitted. “I was watching cable the other night, watching Star Trek. It’s been on rotation, the original series. He said, ‘He’s dead, Jim.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that has to go [in the script].'”

Getting that into the movie is fine, as long as they don’t screw up a script purely to give excuses to fit in such phrases.

Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry,  gave his views on a sequel to Star Trek in an interview in The Los Angeles Times:

HC: Is there anything you would like NOT to see in the sequels? Or anything specific you WOULD like to see?

RR: Well, not that this is factual information, but we all know they’re going to make another one. They would be crazy not to. So we all know that that’s going to happen. I’d like to see that the same team stays onboard. What tends to happen is someone comes in, they make their mark, now they’re gonna bring in someone else, and it becomes generic sci-fi action. That’s not “Star Trek.” “Star Trek” was never science fiction. “Star Trek” was about people, humanity, characters. That was just thrown into the bubble of science fiction.

Airlock Alpha reports that Epitaph One, the unaired episode of Dollhouse which I discussed here, will be critical in the upcoming season. The series will move towards the apocalypse seen in the episode, but details might not be as the memories restored in the episode described them.

Two of the promising new science fiction series for next season are a remake of V and FlashForward based upon Robert Sawyer’s novel. Spoiler TV has videos of a panel and interview regarding V. FlashForward executive producer David S. Goyer has discussed the show:

“FlashForward” executive producer David S. Goyer said that almost all of the mysteries presented in the show’s pilot will be solved by the end of the first season. But “to do the show justice” the serialized ABC program should run at least three seasons.

The only major question from the pilot that will be left unanswered by the end of S1 is what’s behind the blackout, which Goyer says will remain the central question of the show’s mythology.

“I really like to feel like storytellers need to know where they’re going,” Goyer said. “We have an obligation to know.”

Asked if he’s learned any lessons from ABC’s “Lost,” Goyer said, “it proved to me there could be a place on network television for a show like that … ‘Lost’ taught me that you could do a show with a large ensemble cast and tell a big cinematic story.”

In the show, everybody in the world blacks out and sees a glimpse of themselves six months in the future. Goyer says the first season will extend past that point in the story, revealing whether the characters’ prophesies come true.

And, finally, the latest pictures to gain attention in the blogosphere (beyond yet more nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens) are recently resurfaced pictures of the next Doctor Who companion, Karen Gillan, in a bikini (picture above).

SciFi Weekend Part II: Star Trek; Alternate Realities on Lost and Fringe; Girl on Girl Action and Other Spoilers From Heroes

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Some more news from Comic-Con with some Spoilers included.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are talking about possibly writing Star Trek XII and XIII as a two movie arc, similar to the the second and third movies, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Search for Spock. Zoe Saldana quotes the writers as saying they are “germinating a script” which she interprets as meaning the script for the next movie is half done.

Juliet Lost

The reports on Lost are, as usual, vague and confusing. Juliet and Daniel Faraday will be back next season. Charlie and Boone will also be among first season characters who will return. Reportedly there will also be no more flashbacks or time travel and hints that the season will deal with alternative time lines.

Without flashbacks having an alternative time line seems like the most likely explanation for the return of dead characters. There will also be information on Richard Alpert’s back story (which would seem to be told best with flashbacks). Confusing matters even more, in other reports Faraday is described as “kinda dead” and Sawyer is said to give up the role of leader in response to losing Juliet. (Update: Other sources are saying there will not be further flash forwards but there will be flashbacks, including Richard Alpert’s back story. This sounds more plausible).

Fringe2

We have a new time line created in J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek. Lost might be dealing in alternate realities. Another Abrams show, Fringe, also revealed an alternative universe at the conclusion of the first season. Star Trek actually has shown multiple realities and we do not yet know how many alternative realities might exist on Lost. At least we have a count for Fringe. When asked about multiple realities, show runner Jeff Pinkner said there will only be the two different realities:  “our reality and alternate reality.”

Peter Claire Heroes

Next season Heroes joins a carnival. Claire engages in girl on girl action. Sylar’s personality will become dominant in what appears to be Nathan’s body leading to a scene where Nathan is shot, dumped in a garbage bin, and reemerges as Sylar. Hiro deals with a potentially fatal disease and travels back in time to correct mistakes he’s made in his life.

SciFi Weekend: The Next Star Trek Movie; Extra Hour For Lost; Harry Potter and Atheism; & Another Kristen Bell Bikini Movie

enterprise

With the first Star Trek movie by J.J. Abrams turning into such a hit, there has been a lot of speculation about his next Star Trek movie. In an interview with Colllider, Abrams says he is  open to anything:

Q:  I just interviewed Bob and Alex… they were talking about not having the typical movie villain but maybe having nature or…

Abrams: Oh! I see what you’re saying.  Well, I’m open to anything.  We’ve had some really interesting discussions so far but, you know – you have to be open to everything to find the right thing so the answer is sure, I’m open to that.  I think in a story it’s important to personify, somehow, what you’re up against so it’s a tricky one to figure out how to, like, fight evil wind! (evil look for emphasis).

Star Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have also mentioned the possibilities open to them in recent interviews:

At issue: do they create a fresh plot with never-before-seen characters and scenarios or — because young Kirk and Spock are now part of an alternate timeline where the past has been altered — do they introduce 2.0 versions of such popular villains as the Klingons or Khan? Orci recognizes each approach has its own merits.

Rebooting familiar elements appeals instantly to fans and attracts the attention of “the media-sphere,” as he calls it.

Meaning that if you cast, say, Javier Bardem as the new Khan opposite Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, you’ve automatically excited fans and attracted the attention of the moviegoing public.

“But on the other hand,” he adds, “who doesn’t love an original story?”

That they’re even having this discussion is, they know, is no small feat. But the J. J. Abramsdirected Trek has rejuvenated a franchise once believed dead, grossing more than $245 million so far in North America. (Compared to the $49 million 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis earned.)

“We’d hear that people thought Star Trek was too cold, that women didn’t like it,” Orci says. “But if you look at that period in the 1980s — from Wrath of Khan to the Voyage Home — those movies were very warm; they were about a family.”

Using the Klingons makes sense as they were frequent enemies in past television episodes and movies. There has been a lot of speculation about retelling the stories with Kahn but there is less point in this. Kahn was the villian in one television episode of Star Trek and returned for one of the movies. I would rather see a new story than to retell the original television episode, and the movie with Kahn takes place far later in Kirk’s career.

IO9 discusses the possibility that the next Star Trek movie could include Yeoman Janice Rand:

…co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman tell io9 the next film could feature one of Trek‘s most iconic women.

Yeoman Janice Rand, with her imposing blonde beehive, only appeared in a handful of Trek episodes before disappearing (reportedly because star William Shatner wanted Kirk to have more the opportunity to mack on different women every week.) But since she has a fairly major role in “Charlie X” and “The Enemy Within,” she’s always stood out as one of the most significant female characters on the show, up there with Uhura and Nurse Chapel.

Lost paddle

Lost ended the fourth season with a lot of subplots to tie up. There are rumors that some of the characters who died will be returning. This could be in flashbacks or could be a consequence of the atomic bomb which might have changed history. The Hollywood Reporter says that they will be adding another episode on to the final season.

HarryPotter30131

The Harry Potter books and movies have already come under frequent attacks from the religious right. Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, has given them another reason in an upcoming interview to appear in Esquire. The Telegraph reports:

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.

In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.

He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.

Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”

He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”

JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.

Conversely, the Church of England published a guide advising youth leaders to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message, as the characters face “struggles and dilemmas that are familiar to us all”.

Prof Dawkins, author of best-selling book The God Delusion, is no fan of Harry Potter, once remarking that tales of witchcraft are “anti-scientific”.

Harry Potter does show a world in which magic is used in ways which defy the laws of science, but this is presented as fantasy and certainly should not be taken as a claim for the validity of magic.

Couples Retreat small

I’m not certain about the story in an upcoming movie from Universal but the movie reportedly has a lot of scenes with Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis in bikinis and lingerie. Here is the synopsis:

Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Faizon Love star in Universal Pictures’ upcoming comedy Couples Retreat. Based on an original idea of Vaughn’s, the comedy follows four Midwestern couples who embark on a journey to a tropical island resort.  While one of the couples is there to work on their marriage, the other three set out to jet ski, spa and enjoy some fun in the sun.  They soon discover that participation in the resort’s couples therapy is not optional.  Suddenly, their group-rate vacation comes at a price.  What follows is a hilarious look at real world problems faced by all couples.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Timelines; Olivia Munn in Playboy; Topless Thirteen; and Kristin Bell

stotimeline

J.J. Abrams made things simpler for himself in developing an alternative timeline, but this makes the overall Star Trek universe more complicated. Above is a view of the timeline, with the Abrams timeline included (click on image to enlarge). Star Trek Online discussed the significance of the two time lines:

In the movie, two characters travel back in time from the year 2387. When Nero arrives in the year 2233, he disrupts the time continuum, creating an alternate reality from the point of his arrival. Star Trek (the new movie) takes place in this alternate reality. This is explained in the film in a conversation between Uhura and Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Star Trek Online is set in the “prime” Star Trek reality. This is the timeline of the five television series and the first 10 movies. It is the world in which the Gorn attacked Cestus III, Kirk fought Khan in the Mutara Nebula, Picard explored the galaxy, the Federation fought the Dominion War, Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant and Captain Archer and the crew of the NX-01 showed us how it all began.

Events in the movie that happened in the prime timeline (the destruction of Romulus, and the disappearance of Spock and Nero) have affected STO. You can learn more about the aftermath of these events in the Path to 2409 and in STO itself.

So how can the movie and STO be in different realities? When working on Star Trek, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman referenced the theory of quantum mechanics, which allows for the simultaneous existence of parallel timelines and universes. Parallel universes are self-contained, separate realities that exist as a consequence of different choices and outcomes. This concept was explored in the TNG episode “Parallels,” in which there were thousands of alternate timelines (and thousands of Enterprises!). It also is seen in the Mirror Universe, which is a darker take on the world of the Federation.

There are many, many stories to tell in the prime universe. The fallout of the destruction of Romulus and the upheaval that causes in the Alpha and Beta quadrants creates storytelling opportunities that we at Cryptic didn’t even imagine when we first began working on STO. We’re excited by the possibilities, and fans should be as well. The best is yet to come.

Star Trek has been inconsistent in its handling of changes in the timeline. In many episodes involving alternative timelines, when something changed the timeline the timeline we know was obliterated and the episode centered around restoring the original timeline. Other episodes, as in those of the Mirror Universe, showed the alternative timelines as existing in parallel to the one we know. The new timeline created in the last movie is clearly intended to represent an example of a timeline in parallel to the one of the television series and previous movies.

If we are to have a totally different timeline, there is another way that I would like this to have been done. Previous Star Trek shows existed in a timeline different from our own as the history presented in Star Trek is inconsistent with late 20th century history. If we must have a new timeline created for a  new movie series, I would have had the difference from the original timeline occur in the 20th century to create a timeline which includes both our history and a Star Trek universe.

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If we are looking at science fiction timelines, Dan Meth has made the above timeline of multiple science fiction movies. In discussing this project he wrote, “This is by far the geekiest thing I’ve ever done.”

JUL Cover Olivia FA.indd

Olivia Munn of G4’s Attack of the Show has a role in Iron Man 2. She will also appear in Date Night with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. In addition to additional movie roles Munn has made the cover of Playboy (picture above).

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While Olivia Munn wears a bikini in some of the pictures and doesn’t reveal much in Playboy, another Olivia revealed more. Olivia Wilde, who plays Thirteen on House, posed topless in Maxim.

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The beginning of summer also seems like a good time for a picture of Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars and Heroes) in a bikini. There’s no good reason for including this picture, but is it really necessary to have a reason to post a picture of Kristin Bell?

The Real Kirk and Spock Would Have Fixed The Time Line

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John Podhoretz shares my discomfort with the manner in which J.J. Abrams wiped out all previous Star Trek canon in making the new Star Trek movie. (Major spoilers here). He compares the movie to City on the Edge  of Forever, one of several Star Trek episodes involving changes to the time line discussed in my review of the movie:

Without the plot discipline that requires a time-travel scenario to leave the past as it was, the whole business just becomes a Rube Goldberg machine, with characters simply jumping backward whenever they want to make the present-day reality more appealing to them. That is suitable for comedies involving time travel, like the two Bill and Ted movies and Back to the Future, but not for science fiction. For science fiction to work, and work memorably, it has to offer a believable reason for every alteration in the nature of reality.

The writer-producer-director J. J. Abrams seems intent on ignoring the need for rules–any rules. On his beautifully made and insanely exasperating science-fiction TV show Lost, people travel forwards and backwards in time whenever it suits the show’s fancy, can occupy the same time and space with their younger selves so that they literally exist in two places at once, and in general, make a hash of any coherent plotline.

Abrams has decided to imitate himself on the big screen. He has now produced and directed a new Star Trek movie, the 11th big-screen feature in the series and a deliberate attempt to relaunch it with a new cast of younger actors playing the Star Trek crew. All the trappings are good. The movie is dynamic and propulsive, and the new cast is terrific. It will surely be a hit.

But it’s a mess, and a disgraceful mess at that. That’s because Abrams and his screenwriters, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, simply discard all fealty to the iron rules of time travel that made “City on the Edge of Forever”–the episode that was one of the key reasons the show so captured the imaginations of its viewers and became the phenomenon it did–such a haunting and memorable hour of television.

A gigantic alien spaceship from the future decides to rewrite history to its liking. That changes the past, but nobody seems all that interested in going back and fixing things, which is what would have happened on the show. Instead, we are asked to accept that a planet well known in Star Trek lore can be destroyed at a cost of six billion lives, and the event is simply accepted. Instead, Abrams and company also devise a deus ex machina in the form of one of the show’s most beloved characters. He won’t do anything to fix things, either, except try to turn young Kirk and young Spock into friends.

I still had a favorable view of the movie and felt that in many ways it remained true to Star Trek as I pointed out in my earlier review. I could easily overlook some minor changes from the past to reboot the series for a new era, and can understand why Abrams wanted to avoid having to follow every element of Star Trek canon, but there was no need for Abrams to change Star Trek as radically as he did. There were people doing Star Trek before Abrams and there will hopefully be people doing it after him.  Abrams wanted to leave himself free to kill off any characters or change the history of the Enterprise but to a certain degree living within the confines of the known Star Trek universe is part of writing Star Trek. Abrams is always free to exercise his creativity in writing other shows.

If Abrams had settled for only minor changes involving the Enterprise crew of the Kirk era, this would still leave people free to write of future generations while sticking to the main history presented in the previous shows. After all, slight changes in Kirk’s Enterprise would not have to have any bearing on a future show done along the lines of  Star Trek: The Next Generation. By making changes as radical as destroying a major planet, any future shows will be forced to choose between the original and the Abrams time line.

While Abrams simplified things for himself, he actually made Star Trek more complicated when looking at all the television shows and movies. Will we wind up with a situation as confusing as the multiple universes of the D.C. comics? Will discussions of Star Trek involving events which differ depending upon the time line make Star Trek appear as convoluted as Lost?

Abrams thought he was being true to Star Trek by using a plot device which was often used on the television shows. Matthew Yglasias accepted this writing, “Handling the desire to ditch elements of the established history through the mechanism of a goofy time travel plot is very much in the spirit of a franchise that’s full of goofy time travel plots.” This goofy time travel plot differed from the typical goofy Star Trek time travel plot by remaining in the altered time line.   As Podhoretz notes, if they were true to the show they would have fixed the time line and saved everyone who died.

As I pointed out in the comments to my earlier review, there are a couple of solutions (which I expect will show up somewhere in fan fiction). They could have the Enterprise and old Spock go into the future to prevent these events. Perhaps they could prevent Romulus from being destroyed, or otherwise intervene to prevent Nero from going back in time.

A second possibility, if they want to avoid further time travel, would be to launch an undercover operation on Romulus at the time of the movie and kill Nero’s ancestors.

Yet another possibility would be for Spock to go take a shower, and when he comes out be on Vulcan talking about the illogical dream he just had.

Comparisons to how time travel is also being used in Lost are inevitable. The comparisons are not as significant as above as Abrams isn’t actually involved with the current plotting of Lost, but it is still hard to ignore the comparison as we head into the season finale. On Lost, Jack is trying to prevent the event which caused Oceanic Flight 815 to crash on the island. We will find out what happens on Wednesday, but I have a feeling that, after being led to believe that what happened cannot be changed, Jack just might be successful.

We have been told that the finale of Lost will be a real game changer. Imagine if the episode ends with Oceanic Flight 815 arriving safely in Los Angeles and never crashing on the island. The main characters wouldn’t even know each other despite all the ways in which their lives turned out to be interconnected. This would really leave fans guessing as to where the show is going in the final season. They can easily get themselves out of  such a change next season  by having Ben or someone else change the time line yet again. I suspect the writers of Lost are capable of throwing something like this at us for the summer, or perhaps something even more bizarre.

It is one thing for Lost to play around with time lines which change back and forth, but fans expect more internal consistency to Star Trek.  On Star Trek the goal has always been to repair the time line and make sure things are as they were  intended to be.

SciFi Weekend: Return of Tribbles, the Shadow, and Red Dwarf; and Sleeping With The Boss’s Daughter

J.J. Abrams was interviewed by The Los Angeles Times. Some excerpts:

GB: You know that no matter what you do, you’ll get an earful from hardcore fans.

JJA: The key is to appreciate that there are purists and fans of “Star Trek” who are going to be very vocal if they see things that aren’t what what they want. But I can’t make this movie for readers of Nacelles Monthly who are only concerned with what the ship’s engines look like. They’re going to find something they hate no matter what I do. And yet, the movie at its core is not only inspired by what has come before, it’s deeply true to what’s come before. The bottom line is we have different actors playing these parts and from that point on it’s literally not what they’ve seen before. It will be evident when people see this movie that it is true to what Roddenberry created and what those amazing actors did in the 1960s. At the same time, I think, it’s going to blow people’s minds because its  a completely different experience than what they expect.

GB: Last time I saw you, you mentioned there would be a tribble in the movie. That’s fun.

JAA: Yes! There is a tribble in there. But you have to look for it. And there’s that other surprise I told you about but please don’t write about that one.

GB: How much did you go back to the various “Trek” shows, films, novels, etc., to research the mythology? I imagine at some point sifting through all of it would become a counterproductive exercise.

JJA: I looked at a lot of the episodes of all the series that came after the original “Star Trek” but because we are focusing on the original series I didn’t really need to know every episode of “Deep Space Nine” or “Voyager” or even “Enterprise.” But, yeah, I watched episodes, I read up a lot, I watched the movies, I talked to people, whether it was our “Trek” consultant or one of the two writers [Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci] about what it would mean to do what we wanted to do. We have one producer, Bob [Orci], who is a complete Trekker and another in Bryan Burk who had never seen an episode of the show ever. And it was a great balance. We could make sure it passed the test of the ultimate fan and the ultimate neophyte and make sure that it was equally entertaining to both parties.

GB: It’s awkward to talk about sequels for a film that has not even been released but there is such a Hollywood emphasis on tent pole properties that it’s impossible to ignore. So, given that, where do you see yourself going if the movie this May is the success you hope for?

JJA: I’d rather not be presumptuous that this will go on — I mean we’re still finishing up this movie. I have to say I sort of feel like I’m in the middle of lunch and someone asks, “What do you want for dinner?” I have no idea. But I gotta say that the idea of seeing this cast and these characters live on and go on further adventures — it’d be a shame not to do. Obviously the story would need to be great. But the beauty of what Roddenberry created is there is such an abundance of opportunities with these characters and [deciding] which elements of the original series we want to revisit. There’s this great opportunity there for further stories and I would definitely be involved in that. Whether I’m directing or producing, whether Bob or Alex are writing, obviously all that remains to be seen. Paramount is hungry to get going on that, but we’re still finishing up the first one.

GB: “Star Wars” vs. “Star Trek” is sort of a classic Beatles vs. Stones debate for sci-fi fans of a certain age. You have said you wanted to infuse your “Trek” revival with some lessons learned from the George Lucas universe. Can you talk about that?

JJA: Well, I’m just a fan of “Star Wars.” As a kid, “Star Wars” was much more my thing than “Star Trek” was. If you look at the last three “Star Wars” films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing “Star Trek” — despite the fact that it existed before “Star Wars” — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.

GB: How do you overcome that?

JJA: The key to me is to not ever try to outdo them because it’s a no-win situation. Those movies are so extraordinarily rendered that it felt to me that the key to “Star Trek” was to go from the inside-out: Be as true to the characters as possible, be as real and as emotional and as exciting as possible and not be distracted by the specter of all that the “Star Wars” film accomplished. For instance, we needed to establish that there are aliens in this universe and yet I didn’t want it to feel like every scene had four new multi-colored characters in it. That is something “Star Wars” did so well with its amazing creature design. The question is how do you subtly introduce the idea that there are different species here. And to also do it differently than the [“Trek”] TV shows, which basically had someone wearing a mask sitting in a chair [in the background]. It was the balance of doing what the story needed us to do but also not feeling like we were trying to rip off or out-do what Lucas did.

GB: It is a challenge. There’s an early scene in your film where you have a crowded bar, music is playing and your callow young hero walks in, rubs shoulders with aliens, and then ends up in a brawl. You have to know that a chunk of your audience will be thinking about the “Star Wars” cantina scene…

JJA: That cantina scene is obviously one of the classic scenes in “Star Wars” and it was such a wonderful introduction to how amazing, how diverse and how full of possibility this “Star Wars” universe was going to be. In the subsequent films, especially the last three, so many scenes have that feeling, that they are just expanding and expanding the worlds. That was definitely something where I felt the burden of “My God, they’ve done it all.” And the challenge is how do you do it where it feels real and meaningful and not like you’re borrowing from someone else. That’s just one of our challenges.

Another remake of The Shadow is in the works which promises to be different from the 1994 attempt  staring Alec Baldwin.  MTV interviewed producer Michael Uslan:

“I think the one thing going in is we all see The Shadow as more of a force of nature than a specific person in a secret identity,” Uslan told MTV in an exclusive interview. “The Shadow may actually be many people.”

“We’ve gone back to the pulp roots, the comic book roots of The Shadow, with a dash of the radio roots,” added Uslan. “But we’ve deeply ensconced ourselves in the world of pulps and comics.”

Sounds cool to us, but that begged the question of when we’ll see this “Shadow” revamp hit the multiplex.

“Sam [Raimi] and Josh Donen are my partners and we have it set up Sony, and a wonderful writer named Siavash Farahani who has worked for me before is writing the screenplay,” Uslan said. “It’s coming along great, we’re very excited about it. You know, it takes time to nurture these things. You probably know all the stories. The first ‘Batman’ film took me 10 years to get made.”

The BBC reports that Red Dwarf will be returning for a two-part special airing Easter weekend entitled Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. I hope that their return to Earth turns out better than on Battlestar Galactica.

While Red Dwarf and Galactica are interested in returning to Earth, one couple might be leaving. There are plans to send the ashes of Gene  and Majel Roddenberry into deep space.

Life on Mars returned after a two month hiatus. The fall season ended with a cliff hanger in which Sam received a phone call to go down into the basement of the house he was in. Would this provide some clues as to why he is back in the 1970’s? Who knows. They returned by airing an episode out of order, saying nothing about this cliff hanger.

The episode was one of the lightest yet, but did add another potential complication to Sam’s life. Sam, without realizing it at the time, slept with his boss’s daughter. We also got a mini-Sopranos reunion with Johnny Sack joining series regular Michael Imperioli.

The idea might have been to return with a stand a lone episode so that new viewers would not have to know about the mythology of the show. Considering that Life on Mars was placed after Lost this made little sense. Lost fans would be far more intrigued by the question of how a cop from the present wound up in the 1970’s than in a standard police story.

As for Lost, in the present Desmond (now living happily with Penny and a child) starts a hunt for Daniel Faraday’s mother. This led to a connection to Charles Widmore, and Desmond is off to Los Angeles where he will presumably run into the others who left the island. Meanwhile back on the island, we had many pasts as the characters jumped around in time. We saw Richard Alpert appearing exactly the same regardless of year and a young Charles Whidmore who was living on the island as one of the Others. Knowing that Whidmore had been on the island when young gives some hints as to his interest in the island, but raises many questions. My suspicion is that Ben was responsible for Whidmore leaving he island and not being able to return.

SciFi Friday: Why Heroes Is A Better Monday Night Serial Than 24

There had been rumors that J.J. Abrams was going to produce but not direct Star Trek XI, but The Hollywood Reporter tha an official announcement was finally made. Abrams will be directing, with a Christmas Day 2008 release date. Matt Damon is still rumored to be the top choice to play James Kirk. IGN has further information:

It has been widely reported that the next Star Trek film would be a Starfleet Academy story recounting how a young James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock first met as cadets. But, according to IGN’s insiders, that is not quite the case.

IGN was informed that Trek XIto be directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci — will be more of a “first adventure” for Kirk and Spock rather than their first meeting. It is possible that they met while at the Academy — didn’t it seem like Jim Kirk served with every young officer’s father at the academy? — but the movie will explore their first mission together.

SciFi Wire interviewed Tim Kring and obtained information regarding plans for the second season of Heroes:

Tim Kring, creator of NBC’s hit series Heroes, told SCI FI Wire that the upcoming second season will constitute a new volume in the multi-volume series, with new characters and an entirely new storyline. “If you remember, the opening of the pilot pronounced the episode as the beginning of Volume One,” Kring said in an interview. “Volume One comes to a conclusion at the end of episode 23, and Volume Two starts with the opening of season two. And Volume Two is a different story.”

Kring added: “We could have new people and new storylines and new ideas and new threats and new bad guys and new heroes. So I would prepare the audience for that idea, that it’s not just a continuing serialized storyline about only these people. It’s a little more the 24 model than the Lost model.”

The first season of Heroes is exploring what happens when a disparate group of ordinary people discover they have extraordinary abilities and attempt to save New York from disaster.

Heroes needs to evolve, and if we are positing an idea that this is happening all over the world to many, many people, then we get to see some of those people and see how their story fits in.”

Kring also confirmed that some of the current heroes just might not survive this season, but added: “Many of your favorites will live to fight again.”

Heroes is coming off what many regard as its best episode of the season this week, also showing why it has become better than the other Monday night serial, 24. While both try to get the audience to come back with a cliff hanger, 24‘s cliff hangers just don’t leave you sometimes wondering just what is going on. You know that Jack will always find a solution for the latest problem and slowly get at the ultimate perpetrators. On Heroes, even when predictable, they manage to throw in twists. I fully expected HRG’s motivation to be partially to protect his adopted daughter, but the story remained compelling as this was verified and we were left with new questions as old ones were answered.

While 24 will periodically show that people have a different agenda than initially suspected, it often seems either too predictable or is forced. On the one hand, there was little doubt that Jack Bower’s father wasn’t going to turn out to be behind many of the conspiracies. On the other hand, for the writers to decide after many stories were already done that Nina Myers or Charles Logan would really be evil was contrived and didn’t fit in well with previous stories. On Heroes, The revelations about Claude and Nakamura, while surprising, fit in well with what we know so far and clearly were planned from the start. While we learned more about the relationship between Claire and HRG, we were left to wonder about whether Hiro is really Nakamura’s son, and whether Nakamura realizes Hiro has powers.

The flash back episodes have been among the best on Heroes, but 24 has become stuck in a format which prevents such stories, as well as preventing any drawn out plot development. It was a good gimmick for the first couple of times, but now it is too restrictive, leading to similar stories every season. Knowing commercial television, it is safe to predict they will stick with the same formula until it stops making money. Having 24 as the name would also make it harder for them to change the format, but perhaps they could do a different type of story over 24 days or weeks.

There is one other reason why Heroes has become better than 24. They might threaten to blow up New York City, and have a character who brutally kills others and removes their brains, but at least they don’t feature torture week after week.