SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Agents of SHIELD; New & Returning Shows; Community; Person of Interest; The Newsroom

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Neil Gaiman’s second episode of Doctor Who, Nightmare in Silver, was weaker than his first episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Like so many  episodes this half-season, it wasn’t bad but came up short of what it might have been. The good thing about the episode is that Gaiman updated the backstory for the Cybermen which might be used in future episodes. He had less to say about the Doctor’s history than in The Doctor’s Wife except to reveal that it is foolish to try to beat the Doctor at Chess as The Timelords invented chess.

Gaiman accelerated the trend of making the Cybermen more like the Borg. (There has also been speculation that the Borg were originally based upon the Cybermen but I have never seen confirmation of this). Instead of assimilation, they upgrade. They upgrade humans, and now other species, with cybermites, and upgrade themselves to counter attacks. One problem with the episode was that upgrades were only used for dramatic effect in limited circumstances. The Cybermen upgraded to be faster, but in most scenes they continued to move slowly.

These Cybermen were shown to be far more dangerous. They are so dangerous that the standard reaction to finding one a a planet is to destroy the entire planet. Even an entire galaxy was destroyed to prevent the Cybermen from advancing. The problem with making an enemy this powerful is that ending each episode by imploding the planet would be tedious, and having the Doctor repeatedly defeat them in under an hour would be unrealistic–sort of how the Borg gradually changed from an unbeatable force when introduced on Star Trek The Next Generation to a race easily defeated by a lone starship on Voyager.

Warwick Davies stole the show as Porridge, later revealed to be Emperor Ludins Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff the 41st. It was unrealistic for the Emperor to just happen to be hiding on this planet, but now that the Doctor has met him it would be a shame for the two not to meet up again.

The episode has the obligatory (this season) homage to past Doctors with images of them displayed. There’s more to come next week, including a scene with Bessie driving by. There were not any obvious clues to the Clara mystery but Clara did learn that the Doctor considers her to be the impossible girl. We should be getting the answers next week, with this prequel released leading into The Name of the Doctor:

A Radio Times interview with Neil Gaiman is posted here. Gaiman’s interview with the official Doctor Who site is here.  Blastr has the story of how Steven Moffat got Neil Gaiman to update the Cybermen and make them scary.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

The Doctor found a BAFTA in the TARDIS (video above). There is also more at the awards ceremony to honor Doctor Who:

Doctor Who is to be honoured with a special tribute to be shown at Sunday’s BAFTA television award ceremony.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will be marking the programme’s 50th Anniversary year by showing a video montage celebrating the long history of the show.

Current companion Jenna-Louise Coleman will also attend the ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London and will present one of the night’s awards.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said:

There are only a handful of programmes that have the quality and longevity of Doctor Who and the ability to put the nation on their sofas – or indeed behind them – year after year. BAFTA raises a toast to Doctor Who on its 50th birthday this year.

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said the production team would be sending Daleks to patrol the red carpet:

This is a massive and exciting year for Doctor Who, so I’m thrilled that BAFTA are including a special tribute to the show. So thrilled, in fact, we’re sending the Doctor’s best friend, Jenna Coleman, to present an award. We’re also sending the Doctor’s worst enemy, the Daleks, to exterminate lots of innocent people. Sorry, it’s just what they do. Let us know if it’s a Health and Safety issue.

Doctor Who won the main BAFTA award for Best Drama Series in 2006 and has won many BAFTA Craft Awards since the series returned in 2005.

Watch out for spoilers this week. An error was made and some Blu-Ray sets with The Name of the Doctor has been shipped early and some copies of the episode are starting to appear on line. Some people are intentionally spoiling the show on Twitter so be careful in reading messages in response to mentioning Doctor Who.

Speaking of spoilers,  John Hurt may have revealed his role in the 50th Anniversary episode:

Mr Hurt, who lives near Cromer, earlier told the EDP he had just finished shooting a Dr Who 3D special in which he plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” which includes David Tennant.

Not surprisingly, ABC has picked up Agents of SHIELD, along with additional genre shows for next season. More on the cast of Agents of SHIELD here. Defiance and Revolution have both been renewed. In the overkill department, Once Upon A Time is both returning and getting a spin-off. Blastr has a run down of eleven new genre shows.24 might return as a 12 or 13 episode mini-series. Does this mean that the story will take place in real time over a shorter period of time or that the show will move faster than real time?

Community - Season 4

Community was also picked up for a fifth season and there are some rumors that Dan Harmon might return. (I’m not holding my breath, but hope it is true.) Chevy Chase is gone, and he was not missed in the episodes where he did not appear at all or only had minor roles. The finale showed once again that show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port may be sincere in their desire to continue the creative ideas of Dan Harmon but just do not understand how to carry this out.

Compare the season finale, Advanced Introduction to Finality, with Basic Human Anatomy, the episode written by Jim Rash which most critics consider the best of the season. The finale brought back The Darkest Timeline with a story which was ridiculous on so many levels. It centered around the impossible situation of people crossing over from The Darkest Timeline with the use of paint ball in a story which didn’t make much sense even if you accept this. Then it ended by revealing it all to be Jeff’s daydream. A daydream (if the story was good) would be fine as part of a story. It might have even worked earlier in the season, but the finale should not be almost entirely a day dream (especially when the dream storyline wasn’t all that good).

Dan Harmon would have been more subtle with the use of an alternative time line, as with Jim Rash with the body swaps in Basic Human Anatomy. If there were true body swaps, or if it was all a dream, I doubt the story would have worked. Instead Rash had characters behave as if they had swapped bodies to reveal more about the characters. Troy acted as Abed because he couldn’t cope with a relationship he is too immature to handle. Abed reciprocated by acting as if he was Troy to end the relationship. Of course we know why the Dean pretended to change bodies with Jeff. The flashing lights weren’t magic but just someone flipping the switches. While not plausible, it was all possible.

Next season is expected to pick up with the remaining members of the study group in their final semester. Jeff and Pierce have graduated. Presumably Pierce is gone forever, but they now have a more difficult job of getting Jeff into the episodes when he should no longer be at the study group’s table. Perhaps they will come up with another reason why Jeff needs another class, but that would make last season appear even lamer in retrospect.

Person of Interest finale

Person of Interest concluded the season with a strong two-part episode which more firmly establishes the show as science fiction. In earlier episodes the machine was simply a gimmick to set up a more conventional crime show of the week, but now the machine is an integral part of the show. Plus Amy Acker was back and Sarah Shahi is an excellent addition to the show. In some ways the show reminds me of Fringe, which gradually set up its mythology in earlier stand-alone episodes.

Aaron Sorkin’s show, The Newsroom, returns on July 14, with changes made to hopefully fix some of the problems from the first season. A promo video is below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Behind the Scenes video is above

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

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

This quote from the episode was also released:

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

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

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

The Guardian has an interview with Steven Moffat here.

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

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

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

I’ll go with “it tiptoed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Daleks; Community and Inspector Spacetime; Sherlock as Cartoon; Person of Interest; The Americans; Utopia; Downton Abbey; Batwoman’s Gay Marriage; Captain America

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Steven Moffat discussed the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who in a recent interview. Doctor Who returns March 30 with the final eight episodes of the season. Next fall we will have the 50th Anniversary episode (which will also be in 3D and released at movie theaters). In addition there will be the usual Christmas episode and An Adventure in Space and Time about the making of Doctor Who. This would still leave us with less Doctor Who than last fall, but Moffat does say there will be even more than these shows.

Ray Cusick who designed the look of the Daleks in 1963, died at last week at age 84.

The video above has an interview with Jenna-Louise Coleman on The Last Leg.

Last week’s episode of Community  featured a trip to an Inspector Spacetime convention and ended with how an American version of this Doctor Who parody would appear, after the producers received advice from Pierce. Here’s another take on how an American version of Doctor Who might have turned out.

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Angela Taratuta has re-imagined Sherlock as a cartoon series with pictures such as the one above.

Revolution returns on March 25. NBC is launching a prequel web series tomorrow which starts eleven years after the blackout:

In this webseries, premiering Feb. 25 on NBC.com, we flashback to 11 years after the blackout and the night Miles (Billy Burke) first tried to assassinate Gen. Monroe (David Lyons). The story will follow Capt. Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) on a mission to hunt down and kill and those who had a hand in the attempt to assassinate Monroe. While on his journey, however, Neville will apparently stumble “upon an even greater conspiracy that could change the course of the Republic forever,” according to a description.

Person of Interest Relevance

Person of Interest had an excellent episode, Relevance, in which we saw the machine used as intended. There was another team receiving numbers from the machine to fight actual terrorist threats, but they believed the information came from more conventional sources. They went after people found by the machine to be relevant, as opposed to the cases investigated by Finch and Reese not involving terrorism, and therefore considered irrelevant. One member of the team started to get too close to what is actually going on so both were set up to be killed. The female member of the team, Shaw, survived, with a little help from Reese after Shaw and her partner came up as the new numbers for Finch and Reese.

Shaw is quite a fighter on her own, and stated she has an “Axis II personality disorder,” meaning  she “doesn’t really feel anything” when she kills people. Her best moment was when she showed she was still a loyal soldier in fighting terrorism and also remained determined to avenge the killing of her partner. “A good soldier does both.” She initially refused to take Finch’s card, but later agreed after they saved her from poisoning, leaving her old superiors believing she was dead.

Shaw will make a welcome addition to the reoccurring cast of Person of Interest (assuming this as she was too good a character to only use once). Making the episode even better, Amy Acker  returned to reprise her role as Root (actually starting in the final moments of last week’s episode). Now, besides the team of Finch and Reese, we have the group involved in using the machine to fight terrorism as part of the show, with these people portrayed as both being engaged in an important task and as being somewhat evil. Having them infiltrated by Root will make matters even more interesting.

The Americans

FX has renewed The Americans for a second season. The series is about Soviet spies embedded in the United States during the Reagan years. Last week was their best episode to date, taking place at the time of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. The Russians were worried about whether the attempt would be pinned on the KGB. Some of the Russians also were concerned that generals led by Alexander Haig were carrying out a coup following Haig’s “I am in control” statement.

Utopia completed its first season last week, and hopefully will receive a second season. While not reducing my recommendations to watch the entire series or my hope for a second season, the first season finale was not up to the level of previous episodes. It was probably harder to write this episode because it had less mystery many of the secrets of the first season already revealed but also having to keep some things unresolved for second season. Major spoiler in the rest of this paragraph: I did have one problem with the explanations in the finale. If the manuscript didn’t really matter and the search was all to get Jessica out in the open, what were they doing with the interrogation of Grant and what did that chemical diagram mean? Perhaps the explanation to Jessica wasn’t entirely honest and there was information on recreating Janus to be found in case Jessica wasn’t captured.

The BBC has canceled The Hour after its second season. Hypable explains why you should watch the show despite being cancelled.

As expected following the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, Lily James will become a regular member of the cast next season. With two members of the cast dying last season, her addition serves much the same purpose of Lesley Anne-Down joining Upstairs Downstairs as Miss Georgina. Vulture gave several reasons why ITV and PBS won’t both broadcast the show at the same time. I was especially interested in this point:

Editing episodes for PBS more quickly would also be more costly.
The version of Downton that airs in the U.K. is slightly different than the one that airs in the U.S. ITV is a commercial network that ran season three over eight installments, while commercial-free PBS ran the same season in just six. That requires some “stitching together and filling out” for the American version, Hoppe says. And because the editing is done entirely by the creative team in the U.K., “what it would mean in order for us to go simultaneously with them is that we’d have to have two editing rooms going at the same time during postproduction, one for our version and one for theirs,” Hoppe says. “It’s not one of the main factors in the decision, but it’s not an insignificant financial implication.”

I downloaded the series when it first aired on ITV and then, based upon following media stories, the series seemed to go by much faster when aired on PBS. This explains that it really did go by faster, with fewer episodes in the US. I wonder if some things were taken out of the US version. For example, there hasn’t been much discussion in the United States about the arc involving the Dalek invasion of Downton.

The Saturn Award nominations have been released–full list here.

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Batwoman is entering into a same-sex marriage but Alyssa Rosenberg says this  portrayal of a gay marriage is not enough to make up for DC hiring homophobe Orson Scott Card:

Something I wish I’d said more clearly the first itme I wrote about DC’s decision to hire Card to write Superman is that calls to fire him don’t appeal to me that strongly because it separates out his hiring from DC’s other hiring practices, which among other things, have produced a staff with very few women and no lead African-American writers on any comics titles. A decision by comics stores not to stock the title, demonstrating that Card’s values turn them off from a product that otherwise might have been profitable for them, makes more sense. And what would be most interesting to me is an explanation from DC about what process lead to Card’s selection. What made his pitches’ stronger than other writers? How did they weigh the likely publicity challenges from his employment against what appears to be a larger institutional imperative to modernize the brand by telling stories about committed gay couples? If DC Comics wants its image to be gay-friendly, then it should have been expected to be evaluated for consistency. More same-sex engagements doesn’t eliminate the appearance of a glaring contradiction in DC’s image.

If all DC wants is our money, rather than our social approval, that’s fine. But it needs to recognize that fishing for money on the grounds that it’s producing progressive and game-changing content is going to be a more difficult task if there’s a disconnect between what the content is, and who the money spent on it ends up going to.

The next Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, will differ from the first, and from The Avengers, in being more of a political thriller according to Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios:

The challenge is not the number of projects but rather making sure that each is a fresh take on the genre. Being able to populate the films with rich, three-dimensional characters and employing a wealth of storylines that have been developed over the decades in print makes it much easier to pull off, Feige says.

And when it all comes together, the results are boffo: “The Avengers” was one of 2012’s most popular pics, according to Rottentomatoes.com, and with more than $620 million in ticket sales it was the year’s box office champ by a large margin.

As long as Marvel stays on its game, Feige believes its pics will continue to do well in a genre that is far from a passing trend.

“If it is a fad, it’s one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different,” he says. “There’s an opportunity to graft almost sub-genres onto them. Our first Captain America film was a World War II picture, and the next is a political thriller. They all have their own textures and patinas, and that’s what is exciting about it.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe its the first wedding with a Borg cube for a wedding cake, but I don’t believe this is the first Klingon wedding to occur in the U.K.

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; Fringe; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Merlin; Captain America; Black Widow; Torchwood; Star Trek Into The Darkness Clip; and More

Returning genre shows such as Person of Interest, Fringe, and Dexter were far stronger than the new series. On Person of Interest I was almost disappointed to see Finch escape from Root, but it looks like Amy Acker’s character will be returning after this extensive development of her back story. I do hope that future episodes involve the machine and Amy Acker’s plotting along with the person of interest of the week. The dog will remain on the show according to this interview with show runners and cast from prior to Friday’s episode. There were also these comments on Root:

TVLINE | Have we just seen Root (played by Amy Acker) at her most ruthless, poisoning that lady in the restaurant? Or is the worst yet to come? GREG PLAGEMAN | She just scratched the surface there. NOLAN | Root is stone-cold but it’s considered. We don’t think of her as a psychopath but someone who is in her own way sympathetic. And the case she is trying to make is, in many ways – though not the killing people part! – something Finch can relate to. You have all these people who want to manipulate [the Machine], and Root wants to set it free. What that means, and how her plan ultimately plays out, is something that we’re going to see through the course of the season. EMERSON | Once Mr. Finch sees a few of the things she’s capable of, he needs to bring her down.

This week on Fringe we got a look at how the Observers will probably be defeated. Although the solution was wiped from Walter’s mind last week, we found that Walter left information on a series of recordings–recorded on old Betamax tapes as opposed to digitally, or even VHS. Astrid will be important in figuring out Walter’s clues according to this interview with Jasika Nicole. While getting this information in Walter’s old lab, the episode also centered around torture and the question of whether the resistance can retain its humanity while fighting the Observers. I am hopeful that remaining episodes will deal with such issues as opposed to being simple quests for tapes with clues. It does look like it is safe to predict that Etta’s former partner Simon will not be returning. Interview with Anna Torv here.

On Dexter, Deb has finally found out about her brother’s habit. Dexter tried to convince Deb that the killing she witnessed was a one-time event. It was only a matter of time until she figured out everything, so I am happy they got it over with in the first episode of the season. Jennifer Carpenteron what Deb learned:

Deb has uncovered everything! What’s her first reaction in the second episode?
Jennifer Carpenter:
I think audiences, especially our Comic-Con audience, wanted to me to say, “Oh, she’d rage or explode or fire a round from her gun,” but all [her] senses are firing and [her] brain is kicking up. I have this written history with this character for seven years, and there’s landmines everywhere. It’s rich. It’s dangerous for everyone involved. There’s no such thing as a filler scene this year. Everybody is involved in a weird way.

The Ice Truck Killer hand was on the table. What’s going on inside her head as she makes these connections that Dexter was present when she was on the Ice Truck Killer’s table?
Carpenter:
It’s too hard to process it all at once. All of those things were in the room at the time, but that realization that those things are connected has its own turn. There was a moment when I was scanning the table while filming and thinking, “That sucks.” At some point, your body just can’t play Tetris anymore and find room for everything. There’s some paralysis that takes over, like, “I’ll get to that in a minute.”

How does Deb finding out that Dexter is a serial killer change her as a person?
Carpenter:
Instantly, the fantasy of being in love with this man falls away, or at least is snuffed out. It’s a slap in the face that wakes her up in a weird way. Suddenly, she can see all the manipulation and redirection that he’s handed her. It’s changed everything. It’s made her job so hard. In a weird way, I think I was afraid it was going to paint us into a corner when she one day found out, but it’s endless space to work in.

How does it affect her job since he’s putting her in a difficult position?
Carpenter:
What I appreciated from the writers is that its unfolding how I imagined it would in real life. It’s not some swift hammer that falls with her saying, “This is how it’s going to be.” It’s, “I need to collect information about how many [people he’s killed] and who taught [him].” All of that stuff will play into how she chooses to proceed.

More on what this means for Dexter from show runner Scott Buck:

Do you think Dexter is partially happy that his secret is finally out?
Buck:
Happy is not necessarily the right word, but he’s relieved. It’s a huge burden off his shoulder. He’s lived with this secret his entire life. In one sense, it’s a little scary not to have this secret anymore. He’s always sought comfort in his own private little world, and now to be exposed this way, it’s kind of frightening for someone who’s not used to being frightened. [But] yes, it’s a huge stress relief to finally be able to tell someone who you are.

Isn’t he now in ever-present danger that she might turn him in?
Buck:
It’s a real risk. It’s one thing [for Deb] to learn that [he] used to do this’ it’s another thing to learn that [he’s] still doing this and doesn’t intend on stopping.

Dexter is a great liar, but Deb’s not good with that. How will that start to weigh on her conscience?
Buck:
It gets very aggravating for her because she never knew. To learn that your brother has been lying to you your whole life, suddenly you’re wondering what’s true and what’s a lie. Not just all the things he said in the past, but everything that comes out of his mouth now makes her wonder. It becomes very difficult for Deb to deal with.

Once Upon A Time added yet a third location to its storyline as Mary Margaret and Emma wound up in fairytale land after most inhabitants were brought to the modern world. It looks like we will also learn that the modern day story is generally confined to Storybrooke with the townspeople being unable to leave. From the description of tonight’s episode:

While Regina continues to find a way to regain her magical powers, David continues his quest to uncover the whereabouts of Mary Margaret and Emma; and the seven dwarves discover what happens when any of the townspeople try to step past the city limits of Storybrooke. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, as her wedding day to King Leopold approaches, Regina is confronted by a man of magic who promises to help her become independent and break free from her mother Cora’s clutches.

I finally caught the first two episodes of Fake Sherlock (i.e. Elementary) last night. The show didn’t show anything near the brilliance of Moffat’s version. The show was more a standard U.S. police procedural with an eccentric detective. Elementary’s Sherlock Holmes reminded me more of a toned-down House than Sherlock Holmes, and they even have Lisa Edelstein guest-staring in the seventh episode. Benedict Cumberbatch has a little (far too little) to say about both his show and Elementary in this interview.

Merlin Season 5 began in the U.K. yesterday. I don’t want to spoil episodes for U.S. viewers who are not downloading the show, but above is an extended trailer. A review of the first episode can be found here.

For American fans of British shows who do wait, Upstairs Downstairs Season 2 (of the remake) is finally airing in the U.S. Alex Kingston plays an archeologist in this period piece. She fits in quite well, but her presence did make me look around for a police box. The show has not been renewed for a third season.

Iron Man 3 has resumed filming. Reportedly Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) will not be appearing in this movie, but will be in the sequel to Captain America.There is also a rather intriguing list of candidates for the lead female role:

Five actresses are reportedly vying for the lead female role in the Captain America sequel, which is widely assumed to be that of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, who would be some form of relative of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter (which relative, in particular tends to vary). The five candidates are Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay, I Am Number Four‘s Teresa Palmer, Fright Night‘s Imogen Poots, and Community‘s Alison Brie.

John Barrowman has his opinion of the perfect story for the next season of Torchwood (which may or may not ever be filmed)–his own novel:

Torchwood and Doctor Who star John Barrowman has teamed up with his sister Carole to pen his first Torchwood novel, Exodus Code, and he’s so pleased with it, he’d like it to become the fifth series.

“I’d love to see this book become the series or to become something in the future that could be done on screen with Torchwood,” John Barrowman tells us, “and that is why it was important for [Exec Producers] Russell [T Davies] and Julie [Gardener] and the BBC to have their input, because if the show did continue then this must make sense.”

The plot follows the events of Miracle Day, the fourth series of Torchwood, and Captain Jack [Barrowman] and Gwen [Eve Myles] are racing to save humanity. Women are being driven insane by heightened and scrambled senses, leaving governments and scientists baffled.

This global scale is the direction Barrowman would like to see Torchwood take if it were to return. “I think every time Torchwood comes back it has to be something different,” he says. “We’ve always been challenged; we’ve been moved from network to network each series so we always have to build from scratch so I think if Torchwood comes back it needs to be on a bigger, global scale.”

The future of the show is still uncertain, however. “We haven’t been told no or yes, we’re in limbo.” But Barrowman is ready if it ever does: “Listen, I’ve always said if they ask me to put the coat on I will do happily because I love Jack,” he says. “I have it here ready!”

J.J. Abrams had a brief clip from Star Trek Into The Darkness on Conan. Yes, this does appear dark.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Angels Take Manhattan (plus Amy and Rory) Plus Other New and Returning Shows

We knew that the ending was coming even before the point early in The Angels Take Manhattan when the Doctor said he hated endings, Despite the few moments of hope after everyone returned safely to the present, we knew that this episode would mark the end of Amy and Rory on Doctor Who. Rory died three more times and Amy died twice, but the two ended the episode to live out their lives together in the past.

Having the episode take place around landmarks which are familiar to me made the episode even more meaningful. On future visits I will be much more cautious when running out for coffee, and have always thought there was something odd about seeing a Starbucks on virtually every block in much of Manhattan. (Perhaps the Doctor will investigate that in the future.) I will certainly be more suspicious of any statues on future visits to New York, and will be certain not to blink around that fountain in Central Park which I have passed several times in the past.

In other ways this was an alien world to me, stranger than any of the alternate worlds seen on Fringe. I can’t imagine The New York Times having a headline saying the Detroit Lions Win Superbowl. New York also seemed quite warm for that time of year.

Once the decision was made to have the statues in New York become Weeping Angels, it was obviously far too tempting for Moffat to resist making the Statue of Liberty an Angel. Until the time paradox which wiped out the Angels occurred, I couldn’t imagine that there would be no historical record of the statue moving across Manhattan on at least two nights in the city which never sleeps. When all the Angels were removed from New York, why was the Statue of Liberty still standing? Perhaps the Angels were inhabiting pre-existing statues, and the statues returned to their previous inanimate forms. Of course if Angels take over other statues, there might not be the need for those babies in the basement.

The bigger question is why Amy and Rory cannot ever return. Clearly this is more a matter of whether the actors and producers should decide to have them back for an episode as there are numerous weaknesses to the reasons presented in the episode. This notion of fixed points in time has been rather ambiguous and hardly something the Doctor couldn’t work around. Perhaps the TARDIS could not return to that precise spot in 1938 but what about having Amy and Rory meet him elsewhere and at a different time? We know that River could go back and give Amy the manuscript and a message, presumably with the contraption on her wrist. Besides, why not use those instead of the TARDIS to save them?

If it is simply a case that time has been written, and cannot be rewritten here, there are still loopholes which are far larger than ones the Doctor has used in the past. The tombstone changed once to add Amy. Even if it could not be changed again, there were many years between 1938 and their eventual deaths. Why couldn’t some of those years again be with the Doctor, as long if the wound up returning to die as in the rewritten version of history? Why not have Melody Malone’s book include a series of mysterious absences by Amy and Rory after the events already written?

While Amy and Rory are gone, River Song will be traveling with the Doctor, at least for a short time longer. We found that she was released from prison because it turned out that the man she was accused of killing never existed, as evidence of the Doctor was wiped out. I had expected that she would ultimately get released for the opposite reason as people realized that the Doctor was still alive. The elimination of knowledge of the Doctor is one recurring storyline from this season. The Angels Take Manhattan also continued this season’s use of light bulbs, as the bulbs blinked on and off in the corridors of the Winter Quay.

Relive The Last Days of the Ponds in the video above.

In this video, Steven Moffat and the crew of Doctor Who discuss the making of The Angels Take Manhattan.

We know Doctor Who will be returning on Christmas, with a new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. How does her character tie in with her role on Asylum of the Daleks? Is she the same person? How important will her character be in the ongoing theme of the removal of knowledge of the Doctor? There’s no doubt there will be Christmas lights. Will light bulbs become even more important as the season goes on?

Doctor Who was about separation, but also about Amy’s decision to remain together with Rory. Fringe returned with the reunion of another family. There was not only the reunion of Etta with Olivia, but we also found that Olivia and Peter had split after Etta was taken. The episode has yet another case in which Walter’s memories fail him. This time his memories of how to fight the Observers received from September were destroyed.

I am a bit confused as to how the Observers could be said to have evolved from humans yet come from 2609. That would hardly be enough time for such evolution, but Fringe has often invented ways to get around conventional science. Apparently after destroying the planet once before, they are working towards doing so again, even if just for humans and presumably not themselves.

Person of Interest showed that the machine did have a contingency to work on after Finch was captured, but it was limited to having someone else take over saving people of interest and not saving Finch. I won’t mind if Finch remains a captive if this keeps Amy Acker on the show longer. I am also curious as to what her character means by setting the machine free.

Revolution is setting up for a family reunion. As I (and probably most viewers) predicted, Elizabeth Mitchell’s character remains alive. This raises questions as to why things weren’t handled differently in the first episode’s attempt to capture her husband. I will give Revolution a little longer but so far this looks like it might join the long list of other recent genre shows to die in its first season.

There are several shows returning tonight. There is a new world situation to deal with on Homeland. Dexter returns with Deb knowing about her brother’s dark secret. The curse is broken but magic has returned on Once Upon A Time with a more intense season promised. Revenge returns with an expanded world and more family. There is also one new genre series as 666 Park Avenue premieres tonight.

Earlier this week Michael O’Hare, who played Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5, died following a heart attack at age 60.

SciFi Weekend: News From San Diago Comic Con

The best news so far out of Comic Con is that there is hope that NBC won’t force the new show runners to destroy Community after firing Dan Harmon. Here’s good news from David Guarascio and Moses Port:

“Listen, a couple of months ago, we were a lot like most of you, just huge fans of the show who thought it was one of the most special things on television,” Guarascio said. “The only thing we care about is keeping it this weird, wonderful gem … That’s not gonna change.”

“Like no other show, the fans influence what [gets on the show],” he continued. “So, thank you, it’s been a beacon.”

Added Port: “It’s not us coming in and taking it on by ourselves. It’s the best cast on television.” “We could be really, really crappy and this would still be a great show,” Guarascio said.

To that end, here’s what the pair has already planned for Community’s fourth season: a visit to Pierce’s mansion (“We’ll get to see the twisted world where he lives,” Guarascio said), a trip to the Inspector Space Time convention, and, yes, more inventive animation is on the way.

As for graduation? It will definitely happen, and it will definitely be emotional. “We’ll explore some new relationships, some real significant relationships. One might involve the dean and Jeff,” Guarascio said. “And the show will keep going, even if they’re not all at the school at the same time. They’ve become this real family that will exist no matter what happens.”

Inspector Space Time convention? It still sucks that Harmon got fired, but I am certainly interested in seeing the upcoming season. #sixseasonsandamovie

More on Community from IO9:

Then, all our suspicions about the show were confirmed when executive producer Russ Krasnoff said, “When Dan Harmson first talked to us about a show, he pitched time travelers and aliens from space, and then this one . . . but we didn’t know he would put it all in Community.” So even the execs have figured out that Community is basically a science fiction show.

McHale also dropped a hint about his father. “Eddie Murphy will be playing Jeff’s father,” he joked. “Pluto Nash himself.” Was he joking? You never know.

A gag reel is posted here.

There’s a lot of couples news regarding The Big Bang Theory:

Howard and Bernadette
Astronaut Howard “Fruit Loops” Wolowitz will spend the first few episodes in space, exec producer Bill Prady says, noting that his living arrangements with new bride Bernadette will come up relatively quickly upon his return to Earth. “All of those things that we thought might happen at the end of Season 5 are happening in Season 6,” he says. Exec producer Steve Molaro noted that the issue — whether the couple will continue to live at home with the nagging Mrs. Wolowitz or find a place of their own — won’t be resolved quickly. “He’s torn between two really powerful, strong women who both adore him,” Prady says, noting that he doesn’t want to disappoint his mother or let his new bride down. Says Helberg: “He’s going to piss someone off a lot, whether it’s his wife or his mother. He’s got growing up to do. … Either way there’s going to be someone yelling at him from another room.”

As for his outer space experience, it won’t all be smooth sailing for the Mama’s Boy. “Howard learns that even though he makes it all the way to space, all the issues of life that plague him won’t stay on Earth and have a way of following him all the way up to the space station,” Molaro warns. Meanwhile, Helberg notes that Howard will encounter some rough space travels as he’ll bear the brunt of the jokes on his mission — both from his fellow astronauts as well as from home. In terms of what will happen once he does return home? Expect a boosted ego from the former leader of the wolf pack. “I don’t think he’s going to burry [that he was in space] and it sounds like he’s going to be bullied in space,” Helberg says. “He’s definitely going to hype [having gone to space] … he’s going to wear the NASA shirt to take the trash out.”

So could kids be something that comes next for the new Mr. and Mrs. Wolowitz? Melissa Rauch said the union could make for some noisy offspring. “With the vocal tone of Bernadette and the Wolowitz family, that baby’s cry would break glass,” she said with a laugh.

Leonard and Penny
“They have a complicated road,” Prady warns of what’s to come for the fan-favorite couple following Leonard’s spur-of-the-moment proposal. “If Sheldon and Amy’s relationship is baffling and Howard and Bernadette’s is traditional, Leonard and Penny’s is rocky,” he says. “They adore each other as people and friends and it keeps drawing them together and when they get together, they keep being unsure how to proceed there.” Adds Cuoco: “I hope down the line, at the end of the show, that they’re together but right now it’s probably not right.”

For his part, Galecki says timing continues to be a problem for Leonard, with Penny facing an entirely different issue. “I don’t know that emotional maturity is Penny’s strong suit right now; she seems to run away right now to any kind of proposal — like when Leonard professed his love for her and she shut it down,” he notes.

Sheldon and Amy
“A lot of the Sheldon-Amy relationship has to revolve around Sheldon, so in terms of [their relationship] expanding, that has to foster from Sheldon; whether that means he’ll learn new things about himself, learn new limits to his boundaries or new boundaries, it’s unclear. But I love the sparring that Amy and Sheldon have and the non-romantic elements of their relationship,” Bialik. “There’s never been any mention of Amy’s attractiveness — or lack of attractiveness — to him; he likes her as she is, it’s irrelevant to him and he’s truly in love with her mind.”

Raj, the Odd Man Out
Executive producer Chuck Lorre teased that there would be a new romance for Raj during Friday’s Comic-Con panel in Hall H, but that was news to his portrayer, Kunal Nayyar. “That was the first time I heard it at the panel,” he told THR. “He did say, ‘Excited to see it,’ so I don’t know if it is the person or thing he’s going to fall in love with or the actual relationship.” Raj always used Howard as his crutch and he’s going to have to lean on something, so whether he actually goes out there and risks his heart on some love, we’ll see. As for who he’d like to see as his potential love interest, it’s a short list: former Big Bang Theory guest stars Danica McKellar and Summer Glau or any “geek icon” since “Mayim Bialik is taken,” he joked.

More from the Big Bang panel here.

No confirmation from the BBC yet, but Matt Smith said at ComicCon today that Doctor Who will resume airing in August. A Doctor Who cast interviews can be seen above, the second interview conducted by John Barrowman.

Karen Gillan will be staring in a horror film named Oculus:

The plot begins 10 years after a horrifying family incident left two young children orphans. Although authorities charged the brother with murder, his sister, Kaylie, believed that the true culprit was a haunted antique mirror. Now rehabilitated and in his 20s, the brother is ready to move on but Kaylie is determined to prove that the mirror was responsible for destroying their family.

Last week we learned that Diana Rigg will be appearing in Doctor Who. She is also to have a role in Game of Thrones. She play Olenna Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns, the grandmother of Margaery Tyrell. More on the Game of Thrones panel here.

News on Dexter which returns September 30:

“New” Big Bad: Another Trinity killer is on the loose! Not exactly. In Season 7, Dexter is stalking a killer who “ritually murders on New Year’s Eve.” Whatever happened to resolutions like joining the gym?

A Little Help From a Friend: Strahovski is guesting as Hannah McKay, “a woman of mystery with a dark past,” explained the beautiful Aussie actress explained. “She meets Dexter and helps him with an investigation in an old murder mystery” — presumably the NYE killer. “She’s not working with the police,” Strahovski clarified to Zap2it at a Showtime party following the panel. “This is why the role was so enticing to me. The last five years I’ve played a CIA agent on ‘Chuck — it’s the complete opposite.”

No Seconds Wasted: Season 7 picks up immediately from last year’s shocking finale: Deb discovering her brother murdering Travis (Colin Hanks). Dexter tries to justify it as an act of self-defense, but considering Travis is “wrapped in plastic on an altar,” he has some splaining to do to his incredulous sister.

Incest Is Best:[Why!!!!!!] Sorry, it doesn’t look like “Dexter” producers have any plans to course-correct the show’s new controversial storyline: Deb realizing she has romantic feelings for Dexter. “There was certainly a fascination that I thought Deb had with Dexter, so it didn’t feel like it was so bizarre to play that last season,” Carpenter reasoned, before adding, “I think him stabbing somebody trumps those thoughts.” [I hope so].

Daddy Dearest: Dexter’s son, Harrison, is still “in the picture” this season, Hall confirmed. (And “very cute,” Carpenter piped in.) Being a serial killer parent to a growing boy “becomes a dicier proposition every day,” said Hall. “As someone who is also Harrison’s guardian, Deb now has a sense of what she’s dealing with her brother that changes things as well. He has someone encouraging him to face what he is trying to pull off as a parent.

“Dexter’s powers of denial are pretty strong, but he would be hard pressed to really argue that being a serial killer is an ideal hobby for a parent,” Hall concluded drily.

Neil Gaiman announced he is doing a Sandman prequel in the video above:

Twenty-five years after The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed series of graphic novels, first appeared, the award-winning author is returning to the books that helped make his name.

The very first Sandman comic, published in 1988, tells the story of how Morpheus, or Dream, is captured and imprisoned by an occultist. Gaiman stopped writing the popular and award-winning books more than 10 years ago, but announced yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con that, in 2013, a new mini-series will tell the story of Morpheus before he was captured. JH Williams, who has worked on Batwoman and Promethea, will illustrate the new stories, which will be published by DC Comics’ imprint Vertigo.

“When I finished writing The Sandman, there was one tale still untold – the story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in The Sandman No 1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war. It was a story that we discussed telling for Sandman’s 20th anniversary … but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman’s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told,” said Gaiman.

The producers of Elementary defended the decision to make Watson a woman. (No way the show will be as good as Sherlock.)

Joss Wheden is uncertain as to whether he will return for the sequel to The Avengers. More from the Firefly panel here. More on Marvel super hero movies here. Iron-Man news here. A movie is also to be made of –info here.

Footage shown from Man of Steel shows a more alienated Superman.

Bad things are still happening in Storybrook even after the curse was broken. Once Upon a Time season 2 preview above. Information from the panel here.

Person of Interest has big plans for Amy Acker.

More to come on Sunday–update here.

SciFi Weekend: Season Finales and Reboots; Dan Harmon Fired From Community; Moffat Wins Special Bafta; Doctor Who Wins Nebula Award; Karen Gillan At Cannes; Farewell to Kristen Wiig

J.J. Abrams has been highly successful in keeping shows interesting by rebooting them over time so that each season isn’t a rehash of the exact same format as previous seasons, and viewers cannot assume that fundamental changes cannot occur. This worked with Lost and Alias in the past. It worked a little less well on Fringe, with the fourth season failing to maintain the quality of the second and third seasons (with the show still worth watching). If Alcatraz survived, it was clear from the finale that it would also have been a different show. I had concerns as to whether Once Upon A Time could be successful over multiple seasons if left with a situation where Emma must always fail to break the spell. As was rumored before airing, Once Upon A Time had a major reboot, with Emma breaking the spell, followed by Rumpelstiltskin bringing back magic. The highlight of the week was the appearance of Amy Acker on Person of Interest, also shaking up this show.

Amy Acker’s character, who turned out to be the hacker Root, surprised Finch and Reese, and from reviews it appears also fooled most viewers. While this was the second time that the person they were protecting turned out to be far different from what the person seemed, the set up was done so well that we were fooled again. The series began with a simple format of the machine giving Social Security numbers. A simpler show would have continued the format, failing to raise the underlying questions of what it would mean to have such a powerful computer. The episode ended with Finch in danger and a phone call to Reese which just might be the machine, making it likely that the machine will be more significant next season. I hope that Amy Acker’s character also becomes a recurring character next season. Seeing how this show has evolved, it would most likely be as a protagonist to Reese and Finch, but not being sure of Root’s agenda, she could also turn into an ally over time.

Awake is in the midst of a two-part series finale so I will wait until it is completed before saying much about the show, but what is the deal with Britten visiting Britten in the preview? I do hope they end this series with a satisfying explanation as to what has been happening with the two realities.

If seeing Amy Acker on Person of Interest was the network television highlight of the week, the low point was the firing of Dan Harmon as show runner of Community. Producing a season of Community without Dan Harmon as show runner is like doing West Wing without Aaron Sorkin or Gilmore Girls without Amy Sherman-Paladino. Neither show was as good as when their creators ran the show, but in this case the consequences will be far worse. Those who took over West Wing and Gilmore Girls still attempted to do a similar show without breaking from the past. In this case I fear that the goal is to make Community a more traditional sit-com about a group of people going to school together. The show has an excellent cast and might still be an above-average sit-com, but it will not be the same without Harmon’s variations from the normal sit-com formula.

As is usually done in such situations. Harmon was given a title, but it is doubtful he will have any further influence on the show. He explained how he learned about being fired after getting off a plane and turning on his phone, without any previous discussion with Sony.

Apparently great show runners are treated better  Great Britain than here. Steven Moffat is to receive as special Bafta award for “outstanding creative writing contribution to television.” One of Moffat’s current shows, Sherlock, is now running in the United States while Doctor Who recently filmed the final scene with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Gillan is seen in the picture above taken at Cannes, and will soon start filming Not Another Happy Ending, a movie about an eccentric author with writer’s block. She did manage to steal something before leaving the TARDIS for the last time.

An episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor’s Wife, was awarded the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation at the Nebula Awards. That was quite a major accomplishment, beating Midnight in Paris, Hugo, Captain America, Source Code, and The Adjustment Bureau for the award.  Among Others by, Jo Walton won the Award for Best Novel.

Someone is demonstrating for time travel in the real world, but is being patient about it.

Besides the recent finales in genre shows. Saturday Night Live concluded its season last night, with quite a farewell to Kristen Wiig–video above.

SciFi Weekend: Excellent Episodes for Dollhouse, FlashForward, Glee and Friday Night Lights

Friday’s two episodes of Dollhouse were well worth the wait. (Spoilers included here). The show  became far more political, dealing with a plot by Rossum to both control a Senator and exonerate themselves from the charges against them by those who have a little knowledge of the doll houses. It worked out particularly well to air these two episodes the same night as they presented a coherent two hour story.

The big twist of the show was that Senator Daniel Perrin was a doll to further Rossum’s goals as opposed to really trying to expose them. There were suggestions that his wife was a doll but she seemed far too much in control for me to buy that. I suspected that the twist would be that she was a human planted by Rossum instead of a doll, but in retrospect her scenes with the Senator did point to him being a doll.

Perrin ultimately faced the same type of choice as Sierra and chose to allow Rossum to reprogram him. Apparently the knowledge that his past success was a fake and his role in the death of his wife were too much for him to take.

The portions with Summer Glau turned out to be far less impressive than many other portions of the episodes. Apparently Caroline was responsible for an injury to her arm in her days as an ec0-terrorist before her mind was wiped. This bit of Caroline’s back story didn’t seem very meaningful unless they are going to do more with this. Meanwhile Echo appears to be realizing that if Caroline returns her identity is gone.

Other positive aspects of the episodes included Ballard’s interaction with the real Madeline, who doesn’t seem that grateful to Ballard for her release (if she truly has been released). The best acting job was by Enver Gjokaj (Victor) who was imprinted with Topher’s memories and did an amazing imitation of him.

Unfortunately the ratings were not very impressive, and I wonder if they would have been even worse if not for the guest appearance by Summer Glau. Perhaps the show would be doing better if it was not hidden on a Friday night, and if we had similar quality from the start.

Creative interference from Fox has been blamed for the lower quality of the earlier shows.  It has been widely believed that the dispute was based upon Fox wanting more stand alone shows of Echo’s weekly adventures but in an interview in the Chicago Tribune Joss Whedon described the disputes as being more over sex:

“The problems that the show encountered weren’t standalone versus mythology [episodes],” Whedon said. “Basically, the show didn’t really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it. And then ultimately, the show itself is also kind of odd and difficult to market. I actually think they did a good job, but it’s just not a slam-dunk concept.”

Midway through its first season, “Dollhouse” hit upon a espionage-thriller format that seemed to be a better fit than the standalone, engagement-oriented episodes that aired early in the show’s run. But Whedon said he always wanted look more closely at the desires and fantasy lives of the Dollhouse’s clients. Even into the show’s second season, however, that idea made Fox “twitchy,” according to Whedon.

Part of the show was going to be about “what we get from each other in our most intimate relationships, be they sexual” or whatever else, Whedon said. But “the interest in the client kind of moved away.”

“When you’re dealing with fantasies, particularly sexual ones, you’re going off the reservation,” Whedon said. “You’re not going to be doing things that are perfectly correct. It’s supposed to be about the sides of us that we don’t want people to see…. The idea of sexuality was a big part of the show when it started and when that fell out, when the show turned into a thriller every week, it took something out of it that was kind of basic to what we were trying to do.”

“We got the espionage that the network wants, but it’s the questions about identity that we want,” he noted. “There are other things about the show that never came back, and I didn’t really realize it until the second season — [there were] things that we were ultimately sort of dancing around…. We always found ourselves sort of moving away from what had been part of the original spark of the show and that ultimately just makes it really hard to write these stories.”

I told him I had trouble wrapping my head around the idea that Fox wanted less sex.

“This is the thing that caught me off guard,” he replied. “First of all, network television has taken great treads backwards in terms of dealing with sexuality or the body or anything. I mean, now on cable everybody is prancing about naked and whatnot. On the networks, it’s gotten different since I was last making TV.

“Fox sort of has that reputation for ‘sexy’ or ‘edgy’ or blah blah blah, but they don’t actually want that and it frustrates me,” he continued. “It’s the classic American double standard: torture — great. Sex — oh, that’s so bad!”

Whedon was careful to point out that he could understand the wariness of both the network and the viewers. After all, the dolls, including Echo (Eliza Dushku), aren’t exactly in a position to give what we think of as informed consent to specific engagements (which can range from bank heists to marriage to the kind of heartbreaking exploitation seen in the recent, wonderfully written episode “Belonging”).

“People responded to [‘Dollhouse’ by saying], ‘This is trafficking. This is sex for money.’ It wasn’t just sex,” Whedon said. Part of the problem was “the other implications of what was originally supposed to be somewhat more of a fantasy. The real-world version of [this kind of activity] was I think what made the network really twitchy and I can’t really fault them for that. I just thought when I went in and pitched it …you know, it frightened me too [but I thought] we all got that that was what we were doing.”

The article suggests dissatisfaction on Whedon’s part with the broadcast networks. I’ve suggested in the past that Dollhouse would have been a better fit for HBO or Showtime where the sexual content wouldn’t have been a problem and many of the scenes could have been more explicit.

The article includes further information on the final episodes. Alpha returns next week. Amy Acker will be returning to the January 8 and January 15 episodes. The finale, Epitaph Two: Return, airs on January 22 and returns to the apocalyptic future seen in Epitaph One.

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Dollhouse had poor ratings after returning form its hiatus, and I hope that going on hiatus does not harm shows such as FlashForward and V.  The final episode of FlashForward until March at least partially answered some questions but far bigger ones were raised. We were teased about the possibility that the future was not definite by Zoey’s vision of Demetri at their wedding. Now that we know that the future is not set (and even a suggestion of multiple possible futures was raised) we found that Zoey’s vision was not of their wedding but of Demetri’s memorial service.

Lloyd has confessed to his actions which might have led to the flash forwards over Simon’s objections. This confession led to Lloyd’s kidnapping. Seeing Simon’s surprise over the photographs of his design, especially as they predated his work, leads me to believe Simon that they were not really the cause.

I’m not sure what to make of Nhadra Udaya or her statement that Demitri was murdered by Mark. Do actions such as Mark getting thrown out of the FBI and Lloyd’s kidnapping totally change the future as seen in the flash forwards or are these steps which lead to the conditions shown?

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The other major event on genre shows this week was Nathan’s death on Heroes. I had a separate post last week on the news that John Borrowman has confirmed he will be returning to Torchwood for a full thirteen episode season. Beyond genre shows, Glee and Friday Night Lights each had one of their better episodes of the season. This week’s episode of Glee sets up the fall finale, with the show also going on a hiatus.

I don’t want to say much about Friday Night Lights as many might not be viewing it until NBC airs the season this winter. As there has already been articles on this, I will mention that the events of the episode (which I will not reveal) give a reason for Lila (Minka Kelly) to return. She did not have much contact with Tim Riggins yet but I suspect she will create further complications for Riggins, who is currently involved with both a mother and daughter. The mother is played by Alecia Witt. Somehow I have difficulty thinking that Alecia Witt is now playing the other character rather than daughter, and have visions of Zoey, her character on Cybill, mocking the Texas town and the beauty pageant scene the daughter is into.

Scrubs returned with two episodes lat week as they attempt to transition to a new cast. Zach Braff will only be appearing in six episodes and I wonder if they wouldn’t have been better off allowing the show to come to a dignified end last season. At least it wasn’t as bad as the final season of Seventh Heaven after they tried to return the show for an additional year with a reduced cast.

SciFi Weekend: Hot Vampire Sex; SciFi on 30 Rock and Other Shows; Dr. Who Interview; Summer Glau on Dollhouse

The second season of True Blood is approaching its finale. Help is needed to defeat Maryann and they turn to the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. Reportedly this means more hot vampire sex–in this case between Queen Sophie and Sookie’s cousin, Hadley Hale (Lindsey Haun). Ausiello has additional spoilers about the season finale.


True Blood has been a success due to excellent writing, interesting characters, a compelling plot, and a lot of nude scenes with Anna Paquin. She discussed this in an interview with Nylon:

Anna Paquin, on her Nude Scenes:
“I don’t think a naked body is particularly shocking or interesting… It’s not the culture I was raised in.  I was not brought up in the United States.  I don’t share the [attitude] that you can have graphic violence, but – God forbid – you see someone’s nipples.”

On Going Blonde for Sookie:
“I don’t look like a Barbie doll, and probably never will.  People are incredibly literal in how they view you.  You have dark hair and pale skin?  You must be brooding.  The second you dye your hair blonde and get a spray tan, people treat you as if you’re a bit stupider and happier.  Suddenly, it’s like you’re hot and sexy.”

On TV Acting:
“It never occurred to me that one form of acting was better than another.  I think if you approach your career like that you’re limiting yourself to a very boring path.  For me, it’s about the material.”

Epilogue:  Stephen Moyer, on Vampire Sex:
“The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it’s an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, ‘I want my man to be physical with me.’ How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that?  It’s one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it’s OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?… It’s difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that’s the attraction of the show – it’s looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming.”


Liz Lemon doesn’t do any nude scenes on 30 Rock, but she has frequently brought science fiction into the show. Io9 has put together a clip with the scifi scenes from the show. The post also includes scifi clips from other television shows including Veronica Mars, The Big Bang Theory, The Office and How I Met Your Mother.

IO9 Has also put out their list of The Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy Shows of All Time. The original Star Trek tops the list. Doctor Who is runner up.

BoingBoing interviewed David Tennant and Russel T. Davies following the filming of their last episode of Doctor Who together–video above.

Stills are being released from the second season of Dollhouse, with an example above. As expected, now that Summer Glau is available, she will have a recurring role in the show, along with a couple of actors from Battlestar Galactica. From the press release:

Summer Glau (“Firefly,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) reunites with Joss Whedon when the actress joins the cast of DOLLHOUSE this fall in a recurring role as BENNETT, a Dollhouse employee who shares a past with ECHO (Eliza Dushku). The second season of DOLLHOUSE premieres Friday, Sept. 25 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Additional guest stars appearing throughout the upcoming second season include Alexis Denisof (“Angel”), Jamie Bamber (“Battlestar Galactica”), Michael Hogan (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Keith Carradine (“Dexter”). DANIEL PERRIN (Denisof) is a U.S. senator leading a witch hunt to track down the underground organization. Mysterious, charismatic businessman MARTIN KLAR (Bamber) is Echo’s new husband. BRADLEY KARRENS (Hogan) comes to the Dollhouse hoping to stop a psychotic family member’s killing spree, while MATTHEW HARDING (Carradine), a nemesis of Dollhouse leader ADELLE DEWITT (Olivia Williams), stirs up trouble. Additionally, DR. CLAIRE SAUNDERS/WHISKEY (Amy Acker) and MADELINE/NOVEMBER (Miracle Laurie) return this season in multiple-episode arcs.