SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sleepy Hollow; More on the Continuum Series Finale; Sherlock; Supergirl; Gilmore Girls; Married Canceled; Beware of Cats; Fred Thompson Dies At 73

Doctor Who Zygon Invasion

The Zygon Invasion picks up on the Zygon plot of The Day of The Doctor which was left hanging. The episode of Doctor Who included three doctors, and if we include the Zygon version, two Osgoods, allowing for her return after being killed by Missy in Death in Heaven. It was not so simple as a totally separate human and Zygon version, leading to yet another mention of a hybrid this season.

The two presented this message regarding the peace treaty between humans and Zygons:

“Every race is capable of the best and the worst.”

“Everyone is peaceful and warlike.”

“My race is no different.”

“And neither is mine.

Unfortunately the peace has fallen apart, leading to yet another threat of aliens taking over the earth. This led to the return of UNIT, and the Doctor to his role of president of the world:

Clara: I thought you didn’t like being president of the world
The Doctor: No but I like poncing about in a big plane

I’m not so hot on continuing the idea of president of the world, and like the idea of “Doctor Disco” even less. Fortunately these moments did not harm an otherwise excellent episode.

The episode was better than the typical alien invasion show by the efforts to maintain peace and to understand the aliens. This included the message above, along with the Doctor trying to prevent further killing:

Kate: You left us with an impossible situation Doctor
The Doctor: Yes I know its called peace

There were moments when characters did not act all that wisely. It is debatable whether the soldiers in Turmezistan were showing humanity or acting foolishly when deciding not to kill the Zygons who had taken on the form of members of their family, despite the evidence that they were fakes. It was even more questionable that Kate went to Truth or Consequences alone, without any backup, and failed to suspect that the other woman was actually a Zygon. It was not surprising that Clara had memorized Trivial Pursuits cards, and was therefore aware of this American city named after a television show.

This all led to the cliff hanger with a missile being shot towards the plane carrying the Doctor and the Doctor being told, “Clara Oswald is dead, Kate Stewart is dead.” Most likely they both can be rescued from the pods, but the knowledge that Jenna Coleman is leaving this season leaves just a tiny bit of doubt.

Videos from Doctor Who Extra can be seen here.

Sleepy Hollow Bones Cross Over

There are a couple of crossovers in genre shows last week and in the upcoming week. Sleepy Hollow has done their cross-over  with Bones.If the purpose was to get fans of Sleepy Hollow to watch Bones, it did not impress me. While Sleepy Hollow  remains weaker than its first season (but better than last year), the little I saw of Bones did not tempt me at all to watch any more. For that matter, for those who are holding out to determine if it is necessary to watch Bones to follow the plot on Sleepy Hollow, you don’t have to bother. Spoiler: The episode deals with the exhumation of General Howe’s corpse (which is more important on Sleepy Hollow) and basically keeps it in the background until Crane and Abbey are able to take the body at the end of the episode.

Bones showrunner Michael Peterson discussed the cross over with Assignment X. Here is a small portion:

AX: And how is the SLEEPY HOLLOW crossover going to work? There have been hints of ghosts and an afterlife on BONES, but no Headless Horsemen.

PETERSON: I’ve been saying that it’s like X-FILES – we’re the Scully hour, they’re the Mulder hour. We make sense of what seems to be supernatural, but there’s always logic behind it. Our people will not see ghosts, they will not see vampires, they will not see zombies. We’re not that show. We do science-based, but it’s going to be a handoff. There will be one mystery that leads to another, and we think it’s going to work pretty nicely. But it’s going to be very much a BONES show, with elements of SLEEPY HOLLOW.

AX: So the BONES characters are going to step into and out of the more exotic SLEEPY HOLLOW universe without realizing what they’ve been in and out of?

PETERSON: Exactly. And part of the fun is that we get to do it on Halloween. So that leaves it open to a lot of things that are going on. We have costumes, we have superstitions that are going on, but we’re going to handle it in the BONES way. It’s worked for over two hundred episodes, it’ll work for this one.

Meanwhile Arrow has recently had  Sara Lance’s resurrection in the Lazarus Pit, but with rather unfavorable results. This leads to the crossover with Constantine next week (and ultimately leads into DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Following the series finale of Continuum, (which I discussed in greater detail here), Simon Barry both answered questions from fans (video above) and had an interview with Blastr. In the interview, Barry described the rules of time travel established for the series:

In Season 1, I addressed the writers’ room with a simple set of guidelines.

1. Time travel could not exist in a closed loop, because it would remove stakes from the show if everything was simply preordained to happen and our characters were fighting windmills.

2. We needed to preserve the stakes of guideline #1 for as long as possible to keep the characters and audience wondering what the consequences were of changing history.

3. Kiera was going to be able to change history and return to a better future as a result.

It became obvious once we dispensed with paradoxical time travel that anything was possible with multiple timelines. The only way to not get lost in this was to limit the number of time-travel events in the show. This way you couldn’t just hit reset with your characters to fix things. And even if you thought you could, as Alec did at the end of Season 2, there had to be unforeseen consequences to these choices that made you wish you hadn’t.

By making time travel as rare an event as possible, by making it difficult, we could minimize the impact of this technology. It’s also about perspective. Time travel is a purely relative process. It means nothing to those that aren’t themselves traveling, so we had to ensure that the only characters who would have access to the technology were characters whose perspectives were relevant in the show. Kiera and Alec are therefore the only perspectives we wanted to experience, because it’s really their journey.

I listened to the above Q&A in the above video on an audio podcast in the background soon after it came out and have to rely on notes I took after the fact, so there very well could be other things of interest which I’m leaving out. Regarding time travel, Barry discussed, as he made up his own rules, how incredibly difficult and unlikely actual time travel would be. He pointed out how rapidly the earth is moving around the sun, making it quite difficult to have the earth in the same location when you get back in time. (So, if the goal was to kill Kellogg off at the end, he could have wound up in empty space).

As we know would happen, once the series was canceled and Barry had only six episodes to wrap things up (which were definitely better than ending without even a rushed conclusion), many planned  plot threads were left out. “Emily, Julian, the Traveler were all supposed to get larger stories. We had also discussed an entire season set in 2077 to really get to know each member of Liber8 and how they eventually got signed up with the cause.”

In both interviews, Barry talked about a desire to tell more about this universe in other medium. This was also raised in this Reddit AMA which took place before the final six episodes aired. In the podcast, he talked about how difficult this could be to get on television. Stories left to tell ranged from the Traveler to what happened to Kellogg after winding up in the past. Barry had wanted to send him even further back to be among dinosaurs, but the budget did not allow this.

During the podcast, Barry said he had worked on a scene which took place five years from now, which would include Emily, showing what the characters who remained in the present were doing. Unfortunately the scene was never filmed. The story of the Traveler might have done to religion what the show in general did to corporate greed. Barry described the Freelancers as being like religious fanatics, who thought they were following the Traveler, but got the message wrong.

It was necessary to tie up the story of how Alec sent people back into the past way too quickly. This could have included reasons for sending back Kiera beyond young Alec mentioning her name. Among ideas which might have been presented if time permitted was that Alec sent Kiera into the past because of the manner in which she investigated a murder at Sadtech. This both gave Alec reason to see her as an effective cop, along with giving him reason for wanting to get rid of her.

Sometimes the show was affected by the availability of actors. Escher was written out of the show earlier than planned for this reason. The original plan was still to ultimately kill him off, except Kellogg would have been the one to kill Escher. The actor who played Kiera’s husband was not available for the final season, which is why he did not appear. I still think it would have made more sense to have mentioned him. While it is obviously necessary to ignore some scientific implausibilities in a show such as this, I also find it hard to believe that, if Kiera had changed the future, her parents were in the same place at the same time to conceive her, and that the same happened to conceive her son. A more plausible version of the ending might have had Kiera return to her time and find that she had never been born, as opposed to having a duplicate there who never traveled back in time. Instead we will allow Barry to make up his own science, knowing that everything was implausible anyways.

It is unfortunate that such an excellent series could not have been completed as envisioned by Simon Barry. Under the circumstances, he did do an excellent job of tying  up as much as possible in the final six episodes.

An extended trailer for the Victorian era episode of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, has been released (video above). The episode will air in the US and the UK on January 1. They apparently don’t understand about college bowl games in the UK.

If you missed the excellent Supergirl pilot, or want to see it again, it remains widely available on line, as it has now been for several months. Plus you can stream it for free (and legally) from Vudu, iTunes and Amazon  (Hat tip to ComicBook.com). These sources will charge for subsequent episodes, so it makes more sense to catch them as they air on CBS.

The recently announced new episodes of Gilmore Girls to be presented on Netflix will each deal with a different season. This leaves room for a lot of Stars Hollow seasonal festivals, and perhaps a June wedding for Lorelei.

Married was much better in its second season, but apparently did not bring in enough new viewers as FX has canceled the show. This is leading to speculation as to whether You’re The Worst might also be in trouble. Both comedies premiered at the same time on FX  summer of 2014, with You’re The Worst moving to FXX and currently being shown in the fall. While also not doing well in the ratings. You’re The Worst has received far more critical attention and hopefully will survive because of this.

Researchers found that cats are neurotic, and are probably planning how to kill you.

In joint political and entertainment news, former actor and Senator Fred Thompson has died. From The Tennessean:

Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator for Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and longtime “Law and Order” star, died on Sunday. He was 73.

Mr. Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to a prepared statement issued by the Thompson family.

“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement reads.

“Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life.  Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility.  Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.

“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people. He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life. “

On his acting career:

In 1977 Mr. Thompson found himself representing the whistle-blower in one of Tennessee’s biggest political scandals. In her role as a parole administrator, Marie Ragghianti refused to release inmates granted pardons after paying then-Gov. Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson successfully represented Ragghianti in a wrongful termination case, helping her win a settlement and a return to her job in 1978.

That case eventually became the subject of a book and launched Mr. Thompson’s acting career. Mr. Thompson played himself in the 1985 version of the movie “Marie.” Critics praised his performance, and more roles soon followed.

Five years later, Mr. Thompson had roles in three of the biggest films of 1990: “Days of Thunder,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2.”  He also enjoyed a five-year run on NBC’s “Law and Order” as District Attorney Arthur Branch from 2002-2007.

Though he took a break to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, acting remained a constant in Mr. Thompson’s life.

He appeared in box office hits as recently as 2012, with a role in the horror film “Sinister,” and had a recurring role on NBC’s short-lived 2015 series “Allegiance.”

Update: News came out on Monday that CBS is planning a new Star Trek television series to be streamed on their All Access service. The show, to be produced by Alex Kurtzman, is to start in January 2017.

SciFi Weekend: Black Widow; Arrow; Continuum; House of Cards; Fantastic Four; Hannibal; Man From UNCLE; The Americans; Two More US Remakes Of British Shows; Karen Gillan; If Ikea Sold A TARDIS

Black Widow

Variety reports that Black Widow will continue to have a major role in upcoming Marvel movies and then Scarlett Johansson will star in her own stand-alone movie:

According to Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, Black Widow’s storyline in “The Winter Soldier” revolves around “her coming to terms with her history, that she’s been a spy, and spies aren’t necessarily trustworthy,” he told Total Film.

That will be further explored in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out in 2015. Film starts production in March.

“(Black) Widow’s part in that is very big,” Feige said. “We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that. When we meet the Avengers at the top of ‘Age of Ultron,’ it’s a very different landscape than we left them at the end of the first film. Partially, that’s because we love the rhythm that the comicbooks have developed — each of the characters appear in their runs, occasionally they get together for a big event or crossover series, they part again, and then they come back together again.”

It’s unclear whether Marvel hopes to have a Black Widow movie become part of its third phase of films, which so far includes “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” and the third installments of “The Avengers” and “Captain America.”

Phase two includes “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Bringing Sarah into Team Arrow raises questions as to Felicity’s role. That is answered with a Felicity-centered episode. Preview above. More about Arrow here.

After Arrow, I’m far more willing to take a show on CW seriously. They have ordered  pilots from the creators of Sleepy Hollow and Veronica Mars:

The CW has given pilot orders to dramas Identity, from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Jane the Virgin, from Jennie Snyder Urman, and iZombie from Rob Thomas, TVGuide.com has learned.

In Identity, when a young woman in need of a transplant learns she is related to a powerful family whose son is her only hope for a donor organ, the CIA approaches her to investigate the family’s involvement in domestic terrorism and to infiltrate their rarified world.  Her loyalty, morality and ethics are tested as she’s forced to slowly build a case against the family who saved her life. Sleepy Hollow‘s Kurtzman and Orci will executive-produce with The Good Wife‘s Corinne Brinkerhoff, who will also write. Heather Kadin, Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya are also attached as executive producers…

Based on DC Comics’ series, iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural about a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to obtain the brains she must eat to maintain her humanity. However, with every brain she consumes, she also inherits the corpse’s memories. In order to silence those disturbing voices in her head, she solves homicide cases along with her medical examiner boss and a police detective. Veronica Mars‘ Thomas and Diane Ruggiero will write and executive-produce with Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.

Showcase has released another trailer for the third season of Continuum. It returns on  March 16  or you can wait until April 4 and see cut episodes on SyFy. Guess which version I plan to watch.

If you haven’t seen the first episode of season two of House of Cards yet, you just better get off the Internet if you don’t want to see spoilers. It turns out that the shocking event from the first episode was planned from the start with a similar event in the season finale of the first season of the U.K. version. How realistic is the show? A star such as Robin Wright may or may not know very much about actual political life, but it is easy to have their opinion covered by being a bit titillating:

During a Q&A in the upcoming issue of Capitol File magazine, a reporter asked whether Wright’s White House source thought the fictional events depicted in the Netflix series were close to the mark.

“Did she think reporters sleeping with sources and members of Congress was factual?” the reporter asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the actress replied. “D.C. is more corrupt than Hollywood. It really is. It’s more sleazy than Hollywood… how much infidelity goes on.”

Kate Mara might soon become better known for another genre role. The cast has been announced for the Fantastic Four reboot, with Mara playing Sue Storm. Think how House of Cards might have turned out differently if Zoe Barnes also had Sue Storm’s power to turn invisible.

Orange Is The New Black returns on Netflix on June 6. No relation to Black Widow, Black Canary, or Orphan Black.

Hannibal returns on February 28, with the first season available to binge on Netflix and Amazon. Here is some more information on  the second season.

man-from-uncle-henry-cavill-set-filming-3

Open Channel D. The Man From UNCLE movie opens on January 16, 2015. The movie stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant and Luca Calvani. One of the key things I remember from the original show was the use of cigarette cases and pens as communication devices. Is there any point in this with smart phones? But if these are not used, will the movie really feel like UNCLE? It might be fun to go back and look at some of the old episodes to see how they stand up today. My guess is that they would be better than SHIELD.

Actually Agents of SHIELD has improved. They did try experimenting with storytelling a little in the last episode, TRACKS, telling the same story from the perspective of different characters. I also enjoyed seeing a train heist as it reminded me of one of the first Joss Whedon shows I had ever seen, The Train Job episode of Firefly. (Yes, I have never seen Buffy). The episode ended with a cliff hanger but I doubt Skye is really dead considering how they appear in the midst of developing her back story. Besides, people on comic-based shows are rarely ever dead. A clue to this is that the next episode when SHIELD returns from hiatus will be entitled  TAHITI. Bill Paxton will be joining to assist in saving Skye.

Producer Joel Fields answered questions about the second season of The Americans, which returns this week. One of my favorite moments from the first season was when Reagan was shot and the Russians saw it as a coupe attempt by Alexander (“I am in control here”) Haig. Fields was asked if any real life events will be included in the second season:

Season two will begin in early 1982 and, as our show was last season, it will be informed – but not shaped – by real life events. Philip and Elizabeth will deal with threats ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the covert American assistance taking place in Nicaragua, and everything they do will happen under the specter of constant brinkmanship that was a hallmark of US-Soviet relations at that time.

Last year it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was really a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. She has a second novel about Cormoran Strike coming out on June 19. With character names such as Cormoran Strike, we should have guessed who the author was.

Joel McHale of Community will be hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner on May 3.

Broadchurch US

The first pictures have been released from filming of Gracepoint, the US remake of Broadchurch. David Tennant reprises his staring role from the ITV version, along with Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad.

An American adaptation of Utopia is being planned by HBO and is to be written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Both Broadchurch and Utopia have completed their first season in the U.K. and will be returning for a second season. The first season of each was excellent, but as accustomed as I have become to downloading shows from the U.K. I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just show the original versions here. Yes, there are references which Americans might not understand, and David Tennant’s accent was a bit thick in the ITV version, but I think American audiences can cope. Look how popular Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife are becoming here without need to remake them for American audiences.

The above trailer has been released for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen-Gillan-Joins-Selfie-Comedy

Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan has been cast in an American sit-com, Selfie:

The actress, who next appears in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus, has been tapped to star in ABC’s Emily Kapnek comedy Selfie, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The modern take on My Fair Lady is inspired by the musical and tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan) who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She then enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

The casting marks the Scotland native’s return to TV following Doctor Who — where she played the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, for more than 30 episodes on the show’s fifth through seventh seasons — and Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SUV

No word as to whether Karen Gillan will be doing any nude writing or baking as in  Not Another Happy Ending.

I’ve seen a number of posts about people building their own TARDIS. With so much interest, it is only a matter of time until Ikea comes up with a kit. This is what the experience might be like:

TARDIS Ikea

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

star-trek-into-darkness-pstr07

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.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Returns in The Bells of St. John; Hugo and Other Award Nominations for Doctor Who

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B EPISODE 1

Doctor Who returned with The Bells of St. John, picking up with the Doctor having gone to a quiet place as advised by a young Clara Oswald as seen in a web-episode prequel. The bells turn out be from the phone on the TARDIS with Clara having received the Doctor’s number from an unidentified person, saying it was  for tech support. I wonder if this is another explained event which sometimes pop up in Moffat’s stories, or if we will find that someone significant (perhaps River Song or another version of Clara) gave it to her.

The plot, as is often the case on Doctor Who, was not terribly compelling but the character interaction more than made up for it. The danger in Moffat’s stories often comes from unexpected, or everyday items. In this case the danger struck over WiFi, so be careful of what you click on. The episode took advantage of the London background to provide a more realistic setting than usual, and a trip in the TARDIS to an out control airplane was more exciting than many of the trips to alien planets in other episodes. It is necessary to watch closely to pick up the many subtle references to other aspects of Doctor Who, such as an old book written by Amelia Williams. Others were more obvious, such as the scene with UNIT.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B SERIES PREVIEW IMAGES

While this season is primarily made up of stand-alone episodes, The Bells of St. John can be seen as part of at least two arcs: the mystery of Clara Oswald and another attempt by the Great Intelligence to fight the Doctor. We learned very little about Clara, but she did have some similarity to the Clara of The Snowmen as she once again was a governess. She also acquired considerable computer skills in this episode, perhaps foreshadowing her abilities in Asylum of the Daleks. We also saw how the Doctor comes up with money and Moffat got in a dig at Twitter.

There is no longer a Doctor Who Confidential, but the BBC did release this behind the scenes video.

Steven Moffat says we will learn who Clara is this season. More from Moffat in the text of a press conference posted here. Other major news from the past week is that David Tennant and Billie Piper will be returning for the 50th anniversary episode. John Hurt will also be appearing in the episode.

Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of next week’s episode, The Rings of Akhaten.

The week of Doctor Who‘s return was also a big week for awards and nominations, including receiving a Peabody Award: “Doctor Who,” the ever-evolving, ever-clever BBC science fiction series now entering its second half century, was awarded an Institutional Peabody.

Doctor Who was also nominated for two BAFTA Awards:

Musical composer Murray Gold was nominated in the Original Television Music category for his, as the ninth Doctor would say, “fantastic” music score featured in the Series 7 episode, Asylum of the Daleks. This is the second time Murray Gold has been nominated for a BAFTA award.

The show was also nominated for a BAFTA in the Visual Effects and Graphic Design category. The Mill, which has recently announced it will be closing, was nominated for the wonderful Craft Visual Effects it has created in their recent episodes.

The Mill has been nominated for a BAFTA every year since 2007. They received a BAFTA in 2009 for their work in The Fires of Pompeii.

Other Doctor Who related BAFTA awards include the Editing Fiction award in 2008, The Television Drama Series in 2005, and the Craft Writer award went to Steven Moffat in 2007.

Three episodes were nominated for Hugo Awards:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (597 nominating ballots cast)

  • Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks”, Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “The Snowmen”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
  • Fringe, “Letters of Transit”, Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
  • Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

The Avengers were among the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (787 nominating ballots cast)

  • The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
  • The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
  • The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
  • Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)

 

SciFi Weekend: Dexter; Star Trek; Total Recall; Spider-Man

The seventh season of Dexter (preview above) begins where the previous season left off–with Deb finding out about her brother. There are some hints about the upcoming season in this interview with executive producer Sara Colleton:

Since the season is picking up right where we left off, just how many curse words will Deb use when the show returns?
Sara Colleton: [Laughs] It rocks her world so there are a few classic Deb-isms. If the series-long quest for Dexter was to finally have someone who really knows him — well, be careful what you wish for because Deb now knows everything and that’s a game-changer.

If last season was about finding faith for Dexter, what is this season about?
Colleton: It is about things he’s never experienced before, which are regret, responsibility, shame, betrayal, all of those things. Also, it’s the flip side of wanting to be known, and then once you are known, there’s a loss of freedom. It comes with heavy responsibility, so he’s dealing with a lot of emotions that he’s never had before, and never been allowed to feel before or allowed himself to feel before.

Deb only saw Dexter kill Travis on the table, but will she learn everything this season?
Colleton: Yeah. Obviously this whole season we’re going to have great fun playing with every permutation that can be played between Debra and Dexter in their relationship now that this information has come out. She was on her way to the church at the end of the last season because she had come to realize that she not only loved her foster brother Dexter but she is in love with him. So now what does she do? Does she turn him into the police? Is she repulsed by him? Can she continue to love him? Does she feel an odd relief that finally she understands some fundamental part of him that always felt elusive? Dexter was always elusive and Debra always thought it was because of her, and now she knows it wasn’t about her, it was about him really protecting her.

But she is the head of the homicide division and so it has to really affect her sense of justice and the whole system. It’s a really challenging year for her to juggle. And Dexter, of course, his world is equally rocked. He’s never had to deal with these kinds of emotions — regret, guilt, a sense of having let Deb down and also, obviously, the gnawing suspicion that at any time, she could have him arrested.

Given what Deb learns about Dexter, how will that change her sudden revelation that she has feelings for him?
Colleton: It will be explored. It has to explored, because one doesn’t come to a realization like that and then completely change. But obviously what she learns is going to affect it, so all of the things that have been the bedrock of Deb’s life get moved around. That’s part of what we hope will be fascinating for our fans, is to watch and see how we play out all of those various interpretations.

Will we see a vulnerable side to Dexter this season?
Colleton: Oh, yes. It is like Superman’s cape has been taken off. He’s extremely vulnerable and that is very interesting to see and to explore.

Is there a sense of relief knowing if he’d let anyone in like he did with Lumen (Julia Stiles), he’d want it to be Deb?
Colleton: I think that’s part of it because [the relationship with] Lumen was certainly almost like acting out for his guilt in Rita’s (Julie Benz) death. But Deb has been the rock in his life from the time he was taken in by Harry. I always go back to one of the very first scenes in the pilot when he goes, “Oh that’s my foul-mouthed sister Deb and if I could love anyone it would be Deb.” They have had an incredible closeness. So that, in some ways, is a relief, but it comes with a whole new set of responsibilities.
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Speaking of Harry (James Remar), he’s always helped Dexter with his Dark Passenger, but now that Dexter’s issues involve Debra, how will his advice to Dexter differ from what we’ve seen before?
Colleton: It’s very upsetting to Harry. For Deb, she’s always suffered from feeling like Daddy’s second best. She realizes now, too, that this was never her being second best. She will learn all about Harry training Dexter and that is another thing that is going to rock her world. Again, in the pilot, when Harry tells Dexter that people deserve to die, and [in Season 5], when Deb hated Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller) and she says, “Maybe there are people who deserve to die.” It’s a very complicated year on that level.
We’re really enjoying exploring all of these things because now it’s all out in the open.

What other obstacles will Dexter face because of Deb’s discovery?
Colleton: There are other complications that will come in because, at the crime scene, Dexter’s blood slide gets found by Lieutenant LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) because he loses it in the chaos that ensues and she immediately recognizes it’s his. The only other time that she had seen this blood slide was in the copy case of the Bay Harbor Butcher. Her dear friend Sergeant Doakes, everyone thought he was the Bay Harbor Butcher, and thought that when he died, the Bay Harbor Butcher died with him. Now, she begins to suspect, “Is the Bay Harbor Butcher still alive and how can I set about proving the innocence of my friend Sergeant Doakes?” That is something that’s a silent thing at the start, but it’s, again, going to be eventually working its way back to Dexter. It’s going to be very interesting to see if she can exonerate him.

What can you tell us about the new castmembers?
Colleton: We have Ray Stevenson, who — oh my God — he is such a fantastic actor. He plays the head of a crime syndicate who owns many nightclubs in Miami. Jason Gedrick plays George, the U.S. manager of all of his clubs. Ray Stevenson’s character, Isaac, comes to Miami when his very close personal lieutenant is accused of killing a Miami cop and then suddenly disappears. So Isaac wants to find out what happened to his friend and how he disappeared. The fact that it was a cop will bring them all around the Miami Metro police system. That is going to be a long story arc.

Also, we have Yvonne Strahovski. She is fantastic. She plays this woman named Hannah, who took off from this small rinky-dink Florida town and ran off with this older guy and they went on this wild killing spree. So when they got caught, she turned state’s evidence on the boyfriend, he went to jail for life and she started a new life. Years later, she’s in her 30s and she will intersect with Dexter. I would say Hannah is a still water that runs very deep and is quite unlike any woman Dexter has ever known.

How does Hannah compare to Lumen? And is there a possibility of a romance transpiring between Dexter and Hannah?
Colleton: There’s always the possibility. Whenever there’s a man and a woman, there’s always that possibility — or a man and a man or a woman and a woman or any configuration. There’s nothing needy about Hannah. Every woman that Dexter’s ever come to either the rescue of or been involved with have been incredibly needy. Lila (Jaime Murray) was one of those borderline women who other women take a look at and say, “Stay away!” but men can never resist them. You just know that they are bad news. Rita was damaged goods just like Dexter. And Lumen, when she appeared in his life, she was severely damaged. Hannah has a cool aloofness, but there’s something about her that will intrigue him.

Since the show has been renewed for two more seasons, is this definitely the end?
Colleton: This was definite. We wanted to end it this year, but the network convinced us that it would be best to do it in two years. In some ways, this is a two-season series-ender. We have worked that out and know where it’s going to end. Next year will definitely be the last year of Dexter. Absolutely.

Are you guys ready to say goodbye to Dexter?
Colleton: From the very beginning, when I first started developing the pilot, I always knew it would be a seven-year arc for this series. I feel easily that we can be an eight-year show, but I never want it to get old and stale. I want us to go out on a high and everybody on the show is determined to keep the level of it up to the very end. It’s always wise to know when it’s time to leave the stage before you’re asked to leave the stage.

Do you think Dexter has to die at the end?
Colleton: [Laughs] I would never answer that question.

Do you know what the final scene is?
Colleton: We don’t know what the final scene is, but we know where it’s going. We know now exactly how it’s going to end and how the series will end.

Alex Kurtzman warns of further bold moves in the next Star Trek movie:

Capone: So we are still in that place where they’re bonding?

AK: One-hundred percent. They only really came together as a team at the end of the first movie as a function of story. But the bridge crew from the original series, they aren’t those people yet, neither in age nor in experience. So I think the worst mistake that we could have made was to assume that they were there already at the top of the movie and skip that stuff. And the other thing I’ll say without revealing too much is that in the first TREK, we made choices–in our invention of the story–that were extremely controversial. Blowing up Vulcan, hugely controversial choice, and we knew that die hard Trekkers were either going to skewer us or accept it based on the emotional architecture around that choice. I think for us, TREK is at its best when it is making hugely bold moves like that, and there will be hugely bold moves in this one.

Last time they destroyed Vulcan. What to they do next, destroy Earth? Star Trek has a rich future history. I can see where they would not want to be locked down to every continuity detail, but I do not agree with the idea of making bold moves for the sake of being bold moves. Trek is at its best when it is Star Trek.

Robert Orci was asked about reviving the television series:

There are two major issues. Alex and I and Bad Robot want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the movies, but number 2, Paramount controls the movies and CBS controls TV. So there is a little bit of power struggle there in terms of what happens. I have mentioned to CBS the idea of a Star Trek series and they are interested in it, but they would have to coordinate with Paramount and they would have to coordinate with Bad Robot. It is something we we are trying to figure out. If we can figure out a beautiful timing for it, it is something we would all love to do. It is tricky, with multiple chefs in that kitchen. It is something many of us are thinking about and I want to see one too.

Regarding the setting:

We haven’t even got to that point. We haven’t even gone in to pitch, because the rights of how to get it done are so complicated that we are sort of waiting to see what can really happen. And see where the avenues of freedom are. For all I know maybe it would be better to make it separate or maybe it is better to tie it into the [movie] universe. I don’t know yet.

Star Trek was always better as a series which allowed characters and events to develop gradually. I would like to see a future series back in the Roddenberry universe taking place after the events already aired, but I doubt that will happen

I’m not sure if there is any reason to do a remake of Total Recall, but at least it will have a three-breasted sex worker. (Trailer above).

The BBC looked at which predictions came true from two other movies based upon the work of Philip K Dick, Blade Runner and Minority Report.

I was already interested when HBO announced that it was adapting Tom Perotta’s novel The Leftovers for a television show. I’m even more interested now that I hear that Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof  will be producing and co-writing the series. Perotta’s novel is about those left behind after millions of people disappear from the earth in a situation similar to the rapture but without ties to Christian ideas on the event. Maybe he could tie this into the last season of Lost.

More clips from The Amazing Spider-Man have been released, such as the one above. My favorite scene is the one below:

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.”

StevenMoffatTweet.jpg

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

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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.