SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sex in Game of Thrones; Homeland; Dexter; Elementary v. Sherlock; The Avengers; Merlin; Blake’s 7 Reboot; Amy Sherman-Palladino Interview

Doctor Who has become the first British television show to make the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

How do you know when a TV show has become a cult phenomenon? When its (often comparatively small) ratings are eclipsed by the wild ardor of its fans. Take the case of the British science fiction show Doctor Who, whose current lead, Matt Smith, is this week’s cover star. The now 49-year-old Who is hugely popular in its homeland but has always enjoyed a more select appeal here — not that you know that from the devotion of U.S.-based “Whovians.” In 1983, 7,000 people attended a Doctor Who convention in Chicago and over the past couple of years the time-traveling “Doctor” has received a bordering-on-the-absurd number of onscreen shout-outs from Community, Criminal Minds, Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show, Supernatural, and Grey’s Anatomy, whose creator, Shonda Rhimes, describes herself as a “psychotic” follower of Matt Smith’s time travel adventures in this week’s cover story. “It’s not an obscure show anymore,” says executive producer Steven Moffat. “It’s not even a ‘British import.’ It’s just Doctor Who.”

Has the time finally come for the so-called “Time Lord” to break big in America? Could be. The Doctor Who team has assiduously courted fans here with a succession of publicity appearances, including a panel at this year’s Comic-Con where Whovians paid homage to Smith’s red-haired costar Karen Gillan by donning ginger wigs. (No. 2 way you know  a TV show has become a cult favorite? When fans start dressing as characters.) In June 2011, the show’s U.S. broadcaster BBC America enjoyed its best ever ratings with the premiere episode of the sixth season since Doctor Who was revived in 2005, following a 16 year hiatus. The new season, which debuts later this summer, may well be the most eagerly anticipated ever as the Doctor prepares to say goodbye to his two trusty and beloved-by-fans “companions,” Gillan’s Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams. In the cover story we track the ups and downs of the show’s remarkable half-century history and preview the new episodes with help from Smith, Gillan, Darvill, and  exec producer, Steven Moffat.

Mary Tamm, the first actress to play Romana as companion to Tom Baker on Doctor Who died during the past week at age 62. Regret ably she was not able to regenerate like the character she played. A video tribute to Mary Tamm follows:

BBC America will be broadcasting four documentaries about Doctor Who in August:

The Science of Doctor Who: explores the real life science behind the biggest concepts and most iconic ideas in Doctor Who. The Science of Doctor Who premieres Saturday, August 4, 11:00 pm ET.

The Women of Doctor Who: Behind every great Time Lord there’s a great woman. Whether they’re busting Daleks or the Doctor’s ego, the women of Doctor Who prove that you don’t need testosterone to save the universe. Premieres Saturday, August 11, 9:00pm ET.

The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who: When the Doctor’s around, tomorrow is yesterday, yesterday is tomorrow and 18th century France is in your fireplace. Confused yet? You’ve already seen it in the future. The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who premieres Saturday, August 18, 11:00pm ET.

The Destinations of Doctor Who: Leave the beach towel at home and take a trip to the end of the Earth – literally. From the Starship UK to one very haunted hotel, you won’t find the destinations of Doctor Who in any guidebook. This final instalment premieres Saturday, August 25, 9:00pm ET.

George R. R. Martin commented on the reaction to the sex in Game of Thrones during an interview with the Daily Star:

Martin, who has a blue collar background in an industrial suburb of New Jersey said he has been surprised with the reaction against explicit sex scenes coming from some American readers.

“I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off,” he said.

“To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.”

Above is a trailer for the second season of Homeland, which returns on September 30. Showtime has released this press release:

In the wake of Israeli air strikes against Iran, the Middle East threatens to erupt in fresh violence. In Beirut, flags bearing the Star of David, and the Red, White, and Blue, burn in the streets. A woman swims through the chaos towards the American embassy, trying to make contact. The abused wife of a Hezbollah commander, she carries information about an attack – retaliation against Israel’s ally, the United States. But this would-be informant insists she will only speak to her one-time CIA handler: Carrie Mathison.

The problem: Carrie Mathison is no longer with the Agency. The disgraced ex-officer is on the slow path to recovery, after her manic flight in Season One nearly crashed the political career of American hero Nicholas Brody. Months after her expulsion from the CIA, the adventure and turmoil that once defined Carrie’s life is now a dull memory, replaced by regular ECT treatment and her father and sister’s protective cocoon. It’s this fragile new existence that Carrie’s former colleagues Saul Berenson and David Estes threaten to shatter, when they come to her door asking for help.

Meanwhile Nicholas Brody, several months into his inaugural term as a freshman Congressman, finds himself buffeted daily by competing agendas. Everyone has a plan for him – whether it’s Vice President William Walden, fellow Marine Mike Faber, or terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir. While Brody strives to change the face of American foreign policy without bloodshed, he learns that doing so may not be good enough for Nazir. And with every lie he tells, the walls around him close in a little tighter, threatening to bring Brody down, along with his family and everything they’ve achieved since his return.

As the situation at home and abroad escalates, Carrie and Brody’s worlds will collide yet again, deepening a relationship built on lies, suspicion and longing. Will Carrie finally be vindicated for the truth she was so close to uncovering? Can Brody keep his head above water, as opposing powers play him like a pawn? Whoever gains the upper hand in this dangerous pairing, neither Carrie nor Brody will come out of it unscathed.

They also released this press release about the seventh season of Dexter:

Season 7 returns in explosive fashion, as Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is finally forced to confront his greatest fear, as Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) witnesses his insatiable, ritualistic slaying of a killer. Now Deb knows the secret of his Dark Passenger, his undeniable thirst for blood, and the Code that their father Harry (‘James Remar’) instilled in him as a young boy.

But as Deb tries to reconcile the unfathomable idea that her beloved, mild-mannered brother is Miami’s most notorious serial killer, Dexter is still pulled by his natural impulses to seek out the guilty and exact his brand of vigilante justice, which leads him on the trail of a brutal Ukrainian mobster (Ray Stevenson).

Along the way, Dexter meets Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), a strong, independent woman with a past that she’s struggled to put behind her. As a turn of events leads Miami Metro Homicide to ask for her help in solving some old cases, Dexter works with her and begins to wonder if there’s more to this woman than she’s professed.

The producers of Elementary and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch discussed comparisons with the other show and the choice of a female Watson on Elementary. Elementary‘s executive producers Robert Doherty and Carl Beverly answered these questions at Comic Con:

Can you talk about how it came about that Watson is a woman in this show?
Robert: “[In preparation for the show], I read a handful of psychological assessments of [Sherlock] that real doctors have written up over the years. Somebody classified him as bipolar, somebody else said he had a mild form of Asperger’s, and one of them happened to mention that he was classified as a gynophobe – he had just not a terribly healthy relationship with women, he was a little suspicious of them.

“And it just sort of made me laugh when I read it because I was like, ‘Well, what would make him crazier than Watson is a woman? He’s actually living with someone who’s monitoring him who’s also a woman’. All of that said, our Holmes is not a gynophobe, he’s not a misogynist – it’s just sort of what got that ball rolling.

“I also was sort of up for the challenge. I knew it would be inevitable that people would be fascinated by the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ that would come up and I like that the question is there and it exists, but I also don’t feel any rush to… In fact, let me be blunt – I don’t want them to end up in bed together. That’s just not what the show is for.

“I don’t think that would be true to the spirit of the original relationship between the two characters, and that’s important to me. I’d like to show that a man and a woman can be friends and go to work and live together and not end up romantically entangled.”

Carl: “Robert often calls it a bromance, but one of the bros just happens to be a woman.

“I think it’s a really apt description because there’s this idea that a man and woman can’t be together – on a show, especially – without needing to be together sexually or in love or whatever. And this is really just about the evolution of a friendship and how that happens. Watching that should be as much the story of this show as the mystery you see week in, week out about who killed who.

“You know, we love that and those stories will be great, but the mystery of this relationship and how the friendship comes into being, that should be something that draws people in too.”

Obviously there will be comparisons to the BBC’s Sherlock
Carl: “We think it’s fantastic.”

Robert: “It’s an incredible show. I have nothing but the highest regard for that show and Steven as a writer. I think sometimes we catch flak because we are a contemporised Sherlock. Sherlock has been contemporised dating back to the ’40s. There were movies with Basil Rathbone set in the Victorian era and then suddenly there were movies with Basil Rathbone in World War II where they’re fighting Nazis, so the idea’s been around a long time.

Sherlock has done it extremely well – I think it’s a brilliant show. I’ve only seen the first series but I hear the second series is just as excellent. But as far as taking from the show, I just don’t think that’s true. Because he exists mostly in the public domain, many hands have handled Sherlock over the years.

“He’s been everywhere – he’s been to the future, he’s been to the past, I’ve seen him in comics, I’ve seen him in books, I’ve seen many, many, many different takes and interpretations of the character and the franchise. They’re all great. I don’t think any of them hurt any of the others. Sherlock the character has big shoulders and I think he can carry all of us.”

Answers from additional questions suggested a couple of ways in which Elementary might differ from Sherlock. They do not plan to update original Sherlock Holmes stories as has been done on Sherlock. Mycroft will probably wind up on the show eventually, but not initially. Sherlock’s father will probably appear first.

Benedict Cumberbatch expressed these views on Elementary:

“If I were the [producer], I’d be frightened of the dynamic of male friendship that you’d lose,” he confesses to TVLine, “because that is obviously the bedrock of the books as well. [Now] there might be sexual tension between Joan [Holmes] and Sherlock, which is [a different dynamic than you’d have] between the two men. So, that’s a new thing to explore.”

And not necessarily a bad thing to explore. Cumberbatch – who is friends with Miller and even appeared opposite him in the UK stage production of Frankenstein – believes the world is big enough for multiple interpretations of Sherlock. (And, having seen the jolly good pilot, I’m inclined to agree.) “I wish them luck, I really do,” the actor insists. “I think it will be great. It will be a different spin on it, because obviously, theirs is modern-day as well, so it needs to be different from ours, and I think the more differences, the better, to be honest.

“I don’t see why they shouldn’t co-exist with us,” he adds, “I don’t think they’ll steal our audience. I think people who are Holmes fans who think they do a good job of it will have a treat in watching ours and the films. So I wish them good luck!”

I’m not exactly sure what a television show set in the Avenger’s universe but without the superheroes would be like, but such a show is being considered:

After scoring huge at the box office with its Avengers movie, Marvel is looking to explore the mythology on the small screen too. I’ve learned that Marvel’s TV division is in conversation with ABC and ABC Studios about doing a drama series in the Avengers world. I hear that the connection to the Avengers franchise would be light as the project is expected to be set in the universe and feature some of its themes and feel, but may not include any characters from Joss Whedon’s blockbuster. I hear the project is in a nascent stage, described as “a kernel of an idea,” with a number of scenarios being explored, including a high-concept cop show. Marvel has already given the Avengers the animated treatment with Disney XD’s The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the upcoming Avengers Assemble.

Establishing a primetime foothold has been a priority for Disney-owned Marvel. The company has developed several projects for ABC Studios over the last couple of years, one of which, a Hulk series, is still in the works. Search is under way for a new writer to pen the project.

Perhaps they could start with repairing all the damage to New York. Actually I stayed on Park Avenue in New York last weekend for the first time since the damage depicted in the movie and everything seems to have been restored. I did pass a couple of shawarma restaurants, but no sign of any superheroes.

The above trailer has been released for the fifth season of Merlin. The show was originally envisioned as running for five seasons but now there is talk of extending to a sixth season, along with a movie.

William Shatner’s new documentary Get A Life! premiers this weekend on Epix. Trekmovie.com has a review.


A reboot of Blake’s 7 is in the works, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royal). A reboot makes the most sense considering how much time has gone by and how the original ended, but I’d love to see them try to continue the series from the point of the finale of the original series.  The opening to the original series is above.

Amy Sherman-Palladino was interviewed by Deadline Hollywood about her new show, Bunheads, and inevitably Gilmore Girls came up. No word on her planned final four words for the series and she is quite pessimistic about the chances of a Gilmore Girls movie:

DEADLINE: Well, Gilmore Girls worked — until you left. Right now, Gilmore Girls is back in the news because journalists are comparing your departure to the situation at NBC’s Community, predicting that series won’t survive the ouster of creator Dan Harmon as showrunner. Can a series successfully outlive its creator?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: I think certain shows can. Great shows like Cheers went on and on after the original guys left, but you have to be able to train people in the style. I think procedurals can go on because you are doing cases. When a show is about a singular voice or a singular relationship, I think it’s a lot harder. When you’ve got the guy who basically was Community, and you get rid of him in year four, I don’t understand that position. You either keep the guy for a fourth season, or maybe you just don’t pick it up. I don’t know Dan Harmon; some people say terrible things about him. I don’t know, maybe he is Lucifer. But if we based everything in Hollywood on who was a nice guy, holy moly, we would have no movies. No actors would work. This is not an industry that is ruled by kindness and generosity. But maybe Community will be a fucking phenomenon this year, who knows? I didn’t watch Community, I don’t have a dog in this race, but all the things I read about it just felt weird.

DEADLINE: Was the end of Gilmore Girls inevitable after you left?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: Gilmore was tough and the cast was tired. It was a hard show, and I think that once I left there were pressures to do it cheaper, to really streamline it, to do things that they could not get me to do. But there are practicalities. If you are new, and they are telling you to do something and you would like to remain in your job, you need to do that. I think Gilmore Girls could have gone on another couple-three years. I was sad the way it went down and I don’t think it had to go down that way. But I don’t control the business, although I would like to. It was a great and wonderful experience, and I was lucky to have it.

DEADLINE: Sounds like that’s TV.
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: It is TV. If I had any other transferrable skills, any other way to make a car payment, I would do it. It’s the one thing I can do. You talk to people and they say, the business is changing and it sucks and it’s awful. Well OK, but what’s my option? This is it. It may suck, it may be awful, but you’ve got to just keep going.

DEADLINE: Any chance of a Gilmore Girls movie?
SHERMAN-PALLADINO: I thought so for a long time, I was into it, Lauren [star Lauren Graham] was into it, but the studio just does not seem to want to discuss it, so I’m thinking it probably won’t happen. She and I were totally there, we were game, I had stories, I had a way that I thought would have worked for fans and non-fans alike, but Warner Bros right now is not interested in doing that kind of movie.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who News; Fringe; Emilie de Ravin; Spider-Man; Star Trek; Game of Thrones; The Newsroom; Rory Gilmore; Cards and Cake

Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw, died at age 71 last week. Liz Shaw was a companion to the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee during the seventh season of Doctor Who in 1970. Here are some clips from her first appearance when she was recruited by U.N.I.T.

Additional clips can be found here.

Did Matt Smith give away a hint as to Amy Pond’s fate:

There’s something coming up in the final days of the Ponds that was in The Eleventh Hour,” he said. “There’s a shot in that. [Moffat’s] been thinking about it that long. He always knew how she was going to… I’m saying too much already.”

Entertainment Weekly interviewed John Noble about Fringe:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about some of your favorites.
JOHN NOBLE: I had some favorites. I loved the “Letters of Transit” episode, which was the one where we went into the future. I thought that was really a beautiful looking episode, beautifully told. I very much liked “Return to Westfield” because it was the first time that really the old team had got back together again — Walter and Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson). It was a very interesting story for all sorts of reasons. Those two stand out.

Episode 20, where the two worlds were bridged was also a fan favorite.
I loved the final conversation between Walter and Walternate where they’re in the corridor together. I waited a long time to see how that would be handled, and I thought the writers really handled it beautifully and eloquently. I loved doing that scene.

Tell me what it was like filming that.
I think I was so ready for it. For me, I realized there needed to be a payoff between the fellows. And I’ve always seen them as two shades of the one man. You know, he’s the same man, but circumstances took him in a different direction. So it was like a personal reconciliation for Walter, Walternate. I was really touched by the way they were able to be so kind to each other. I found that encouraging, and it was the way that I would have wanted it to happen. There had been plenty of abuse flying around, previously. But it was just like a human being finally coming to some sort of resting point in their life and saying, “OK, let’s stop fighting.Let’s just agree on what we can agree on.” So, on a much larger scale, I thought it was beautiful. The whole sequence was beautiful. Looking back on it now, it was really sad that separation of the two worlds. No one kind of expected it to be because I have to tell you, they’re brutal to film, those doppleganger sequences. They are really demanding, and they take forever and ever and ever and ever. But I loved that scene.

Was it hard for you to say goodbye to that character?
I always had a soft spot for Walternate. I always figured that if my world was in trouble — I mean, really in trouble — he’d be the one I’d want to be in charge. And obviously he was painted as the baddie, initially. But I never personally took it that way. I took it as a man with a job to do and a huge burden and very good reason to be incredibly angry and vengeful should he choose to go that way. But he never did take that these actions; he just wanted to save his world. And then I got the chance — I think it was maybe last season– to humanize him a bit.
Look, Walter…Walternate, I don’t really think he’s gone. I think he’s just one suit away — just put another $2000 dollar suit…

Well, let’s keep you away from suits, then — for the good of the universe.
[Laughs]

Peter and Walter had an amazing scene in the finale, right after he shot Olivia and he was working to save her. Did you actually slap Josh?
There is a little story to that. When we were doing it, it was very complicated. What Josh had realized was that his girl was lying there dead — hurt — and then [Walter] had just come trying to reason with him. There was just no way he would have done anything except strangle Walter really. So I said to [Josh], “We need [him] to snap on this one.” And we’d never done it; there’d never been any physical contact between the men. So I said, “How about if I slap you?” And he said, “Yes, that’s what it needs.” So we put that in. And it did; it was very powerful. When a person’s in distress, sometimes they slap them. So we put that in, and it was terrific. It was effective. And it was dramatically right for what we needed to do.

It appeared from the season finale of Once Upon A Time that it only made sense for Emilie de Ravin’s version of Belle to reappear frequently next season. Her pilot for ABC, Americana, didn’t get picked up, leaving the former Lost actress free to become a regular on Once Upon A Time.

The Amazing Spider-Man will be out soon. Links to early reviews can be found here. Emma Stone discussed how scary the Lizard was.

While Star Trek‘s greatness really came from the television series, it lives on in the movies. Geek Tyrant notes that with the release of the movie currently in production, Star Trek will tie (with the Friday the 13th movies) for second in number of movies made.  Both series will have twelve movies but they have a long way to go to catch up with James Bond who is going on twenty-four. As I pointed out several weeks ago, Bond director Sam Mendes has compared the James Bond franchise to Doctor Who.

What if there were SuperPAC ads in Kings Landing like those we have here? See one example above, and more here.

The Newsroom premiers tonight and most of the ads are negative. It doesn’t matter to me. If it is written by Aaron Sorkin I’ll watch every episode and enjoy them, just like Studio 60. (I probably agree with every criticism of Studio 60 out there, but still enjoyed the show.)

Seeing Rory Gilmore lower herself to having an affair with Pete Campbell on Mad Men before undergoing the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treatment makes me nostalgic for Rory before she became corrupted. This is how Rory should be remembered: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. And how did Amy Sherman-Palladino manage to get a young clone of Rory for Bunheads?

I don’t think that the flaws in the science will affect whether audiences enjoy the recently released movie, Seeking a Friend For the End of the World.

Last week was Father’s Day. Here’s a couple of kids out shopping for a card for their famous but evil father.

Or if you are in need for a birthday cake, this recipe can be found here. Extermi-cake?

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek; Bush’s Decapitated Head (Game of Thrones); Sane Republicans Only Found In Science Fiction; Mad Men Finale

Steven Moffat give some hints (or perhaps misleads) about Jenna-Louise Coleman’s role as the new companion on Doctor Who during a recent radio interview:

The new companion will, again, be a human from contemporary earth. This is necessary for audience identification and a ‘jumping on’ point for new viewers

How the companion gets where she is and what that means for the character is what will make her utterly different and fascinating

The new companion will not have any links to any previous characters

Her ‘journey’ will be shocking and intriguing. The Doctor has never met anyone quite like her before

Her very presence in the TARDIS will change the Doctor and there’s something different about her that will have a knock-on effect for the Doctor/companion dynamic

Or how about Jon Luc Picard as a companion? Above is from the comic miniseries  Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doctor Who: Assimilation².

The two greatest science-fiction properties of all time cross over for the first time in history, in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION²! Captain Jean-Luc Picard faces one of the most difficult decisions of his life, but the fate of the galaxy may depend on it! Can the Doctor convince him to make the correct choice?

Another example of cover art from the miniseries can be seen here.

There was controversy this week when it was revealed on the DVD extras that one of the heads used on Game of Thrones during the first season was that of George Bush. It sounds like it was just a matter of using  materials which were handy and nobody would have noticed if this was not mentioned during the commentary. From the DVD commentary:

“The last head on the left is George Bush. George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It’s not a choice, it’s not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around.”

The full scene is above.

This was an interesting bit of trivia about the show which apparently nobody noticed when it aired,  but once revealed HBO really had no choice but to have this edited out. In a nation split near 50:50 it is understandable that a media company would not want to alienate a large percentage of the country in such a manner. The season finale was taken down and DVD sales stopped to allow for digital removal of Bush’s head–which would create a problem for those desiring to watch the first season. I just checked HBO GO and found that the episode is back up. The scene with Bush’s head is unchanged except that there is now hair digitally inserted over much of the face making it unrecognizable.

One of the biggest puzzles about the first season of Once Upon A Time is why they didn’t use Meghan Ory more often. The producers apparently agreed and are making her a regular for the second season, along with adding new characters.

The two top writers of rapid-paced dialogue are back on the air this summer–Aaron Sorkin with The Newsroom and Amy Sherman-Paladino with Bunheads. Sorkin discussed his work in an interview here–but I would give higher grades to Sorkin’s previous shows than he gives himself. Another interview with Sorkin  touches on science fiction as well as politics:

In one episode of Newsroom, we hear Will say, “I’m a registered Republican—I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high ­barometric pressure and not by gay marriage.” So—

Your question is “Are hurricanes caused by high barometric pressure or low barometric pressure?” The answer is both. Hurricanes are caused when a high-pressure system surrounds a low-pressure system. That wasn’t your question, though. Your question is, why is Will a Republican?

No. My question is, if he really is a ­Republican with moderate-to-liberal beliefs, when did you become interested in science fiction?

You’ve answered the question I thought you were asking, which is, why is he a Republican? There are several reasons, but the biggest is: I haven’t seen this guy on TV.

Or anywhere, lately.

For the last year or so, but really since Obama got elected, I’ve found the most interesting op-ed political writing to be from Republicans who are looking at the extreme right and saying, “Those guys aren’t with us. I don’t know what happened here, but they’ve kind of co-opted our brand name. But these aren’t Republican values.” Guys like David Frum, Mark McKinnon, Andrew Sullivan. Even George Will. I hadn’t seen that guy on television. There’s CNN, which tries very, very hard either to not be anything or to be both things. And then, of course, there’s Fox and there’s MSNBC, on either side.

Amy Sherman-Paladino’s new show Bunheads premiered last week, with many similarities to Gilmore Girls. Inevitably interviews about the new show led to questions about Gilmore Girls, including the mysterious four words which she had intended to conclude the series with:

You always said you knew the four words that were going to end the last Gilmore Girls episode, and you obviously never got to have them said. Any chance you’d share them now?
To me, because I didn’t have control of that last year and [whispers] I still haven’t seen the last year … Here’s the deal. All the people who ran the last year, David Rosenthal, I hired him, he’s good people, he’s a good writer, I really like him. I don’t think he thought Dan and I were going to leave. We didn’t think we were going to leave. Everyone was caught unaware. It was literally a situation of bad negotiating. Our interests were in staying and keeping the show going. Once the CW bought it, we called Warner Bros. and said the CW is going to need this show to launch new product for the next couple of years. You don’t want the show to go down this year. We instigated that. When the negotiations got so crazy we thought, Maybe we’re high? Maybe they don’t want it for the next couple of years. But by not having control of that, it shifts the focus of what my last words would have been. I was also holding on to it for a long time because I was thinking if we did do a movie, I would be able to use it there. I don’t think that’s ever going to happen so, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll eventually say the four words. I feel like now I’ll let people down because it’s been so built up. “Really? That’s what we waited all these twelve years for? Well, thanks so much.”

Maybe the four final words were, “Rory, you were adopted.”  Doubtful, but amusing speculation.

Alexis Bledel’s appearance on Mad Men this season also came up:

I’m sure you know a very grown-up Alexis Bledel was on Mad Men a few weeks ago.
We have a place in Brooklyn and she lives right around the corner from us. I have to say she is taking a very thoughtful, interesting approach to her career post-Gilmore. She’s being very particular. I think it’s very smart. She’s not rushing. I applaud it. She did have her shirt open, however, and her boobs hanging out. I was behind. I’m behind on everything that’s not Game of Thrones. And then I read some headline that said, “Most Boring Mad Men Ever Except for Rory Gilmore Getting Naked!” I thought, Holy shit, is she naked? She wasn’t. She had a fur and some underwear. When you’re young and your boobs look like that? Why not?

Speaking of Mad Men, I noticed that critics were generally dissatisfied with the season finale last week. I disagree. Certainly there was more drama in the previous episode in which Lane committed suicide, but the finale did an excellent job of tying up some loose ends and presumably setting the stage for next season. They might have saved the suicide for the finale, but handling it this way allowed viewers to see the aftermath of the act.

The finale included Pete Campbell getting punched, not once but twice, making this twice as good as the previous episode in which this occurred. Pete seemed to becoming too successful at SCDP, but we learned of his dissatisfaction with his life during his visit to the hospital. Perhaps he was demonstrating even more self-understanding when he told the conductor, “I’m president of the Howdy Doody Circus Army.” There was an Eternal Sunshine Of Spotless Mind conclusion to the Rory Gilmore storyline. We saw that SCDP has become a successful firm, suggesting an end to the new company struggling to survive story lines which can become tedious. Most importantly, we may have seen the beginning of the end of Don and Megan. The episode contained clues, such as Don telling Peggy, “That’s what happens when you help someone. They succeed and move on.”  Don warned Megan against taking  help from him, telling her she would be better off being “someone’s discovery than someone’s wife.” Don might now believe that Megan will move on as Peggy did. Now that Don has helped Megan get the role in the ad, she has become too much like Betty when they met, and might ultimately suffer the same fate.  The episode ended with what might be the old Don Draper going into the bar to order a highball. We don’t know how he answered the question, “are you alone” but things will never be the same between Don and Megan.

The Avengers ended with the heroes going out to a shawarma restaurant after saving New York. When watching this scene (at the end of the credits) did you wonder where Loki was? The answer is above.

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: Enterprise; The Plan; Landing in LA; Hugo Awards; Rory Gilmore All Grown Up (with Matt Saracen); and Racy Pics of Doctor Who Companions

TrekMovie.com reports on a panel held by Manny Coto and Brannon Braga at the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. While I think there were far more problems with Enterprise to worry about than this, some fans were upset with the way the show ended. The final episode was intended as an homage to the previous shows involving the Enterprise and ended with Will Ryker and Deanna Troi looking back at the events of  Archer’s Enterprise on the holodeck. Braga took the blame for this:

I will take full blame for that episode, for those that didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was a very cool idea, that in the end was a mistake. The concept was was to have Manny do a final two-part finale, but then have a final final episode send a valentine to all of Star Trek over the last eighteen years. We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.

While the show had many faults, it was finally staring to show some promise in its fourth season when Coto took over as show runner. The show was at its best when it had episodes foreshadowing events of the earlier Star Trek series (which took place after the events of this prequel series).  There was talk of what was planned if the series had survived for a fifth season:

  • Coto wanted to revisit the Mirror Universe on a regular basis with four or five episodes spread through the season as a “mini-series within a series.” Mike Sussman and Coto had discussed places to go with it and it was “big regret” not getting chance
  • The two main things they wanted to do with S5 was the “origins of the Federation” and the “begin whispers of the Romulan War”, and tying those two together
  • No other major villains were planned to be introduced, the Romulans were going to be the big villain, but would have new ones within new ‘mini-arcs’
  • Rick and Brannon thought Future Guy was “probably going to be a Romulan” and would tie into the Romulan War with a future Romulan trying to “instigate” things
  • They wanted to make Shran a regular character

I think spending so much time in the Mirror Universe would have been a mistake unless they had some really fantastic stories for this, but I do like the idea of tying the show into the Romulan war which has often been mentioned as past history in other Star Trek series.  It would have been best to stay away from the temporal cold war, but a brief arc tying it into the Romulan war would have at least provided some rational for that aspect of the series. Of course we’ve now seen another major Star Trek story involving a Romulan changing history in the latest Star Trek movie.

I always hate it when a few days following a major television event a DVD is released with an expanded version. It’s not that I mind paying for the DVD but that after watching a show once there is far too much to do for me to be likely to watch an expanded version of the same show soon afterward. They are doing it the right way with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The episode will premier on DVD and Blu Ray on October 27, 2009 including “some great footage that we are not able to show on TV.” The pilot for Caprica has been released on DVD with scenes which definitely cannot be shown on TV. I’m sure hoping that the scenes from The Plan which cannot be shown on television involve Six (Tricia Helfer). An added plus is that, as I do not receive the SyFy Channel in high definition, I’ll be able to watch the show in Blu Ray without waiting until after it is aired for an HD version.

There has been considerable speculation that the bomb which was detonated in the season finale of Lost did work, changing the timeline. In theory if the bomb did work Oceanic 815 would not have crashed and the flight would have landed in Los Angeles. TV Guide reports that Greg Grunberg (of Heroes), who pilot Seth Norris of Oceanic flight 815 in the first episode, has been asked to return to the show. Grunberg’s character did not survive, but would still be around if the plane did not crash. Grunberg says he was given no information as to what they are planning for his character.

There are also unconfirmed rumors that the title of the two hour season premier is LA X. This presumably refers to landing in Los Angeles, but there also might be significance to placing the space between LA and X.

The 2009 Hugo Award winners have been announced:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

The above trailer is out for Post Grad, which is most notable for combining Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls and Sin City) with Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen of Friday Night Lights–what would Julie say?) Rory Gilmore has sure grown up. Besides appearing as a doctor in the series finale of ER, she is on the cover of WWD:

Old posts about Gilmore Girls continue to receive attention, with many wondering what Amy Sherman-Palladino had planned for her final four words to the series if she had not left for the final season.  Here’s one report as to the final four words: “Rory, you were adopted.”

No, don’t freak out. Amy Sherman-Palladino was just joking about this possibility.

Besides the sort of couple of Rory Gilmore and Matt Saracen, there is another couple of interest on television tonight. It took a while to recognize her, but Jemma, Ray’s love interest on Hung, is played by Natalie Zea. She recently played Karen Darling on Dirty Sexy Money. I guess things didn’t work out with Nick (Peter Krause).

Besides Hung, there are two even more significant shows on television tonight. True Blood has been fantastic all season creating a tough choice between this show and Alan Ball’s previous series, Six Feet Under (with cast including Peter Krause) for best show ever on television. The really big even of the night is the start of the third season of Mad Men.

Looking back on the shows mentioned shows how things have changed for broadcast television. It is common for shows on HBO and Showtime to surpass network shows in quality and any list of the best shows in recent years would be dominated by pay cable. Even basic cable is often beating out network television in quality with recent shows including  Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, the various Star Trek series, and Gilmore Girls. Even Friday Night Lights, often considered the best written network series couple seasons, has had to work out a deal with a satelite network to survive.

Since I posted pictures of Karen Gillan, the next companion on Doctor Who, in a bikini last week more scantily clad pictures of Gillan have surfaced on the internet, such as the almost topless one above. Finding on line pictures of The Doctor’s companions is a way in which following the show has changed from the early days of the show when there was no internet. I guess it is only appropriate that this has become commonplace with Steven Moffat taking over as show runner. Steven Taylor, Moffat’s alter ego on Coupling, has noted how the internet was formed to become the world’s largest repository for porn. If someone had a real Tardis the could really create excitement by posting some of the pictures of Billie Piper (Rose Tylor) in her role as Hannah/Belle on Secret Diary of a Call Girl after she left Doctor Who (especially if going beyond the very tame ones in the examples below).

Amy Sherman-Palladino And The Real Ending To Gilmore Girls

Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t revealing her planned ending, and four final words, for The Gilmore Girls yet. If this is true, it will be worth waiting to find out what those words are. Michael Ausiello reports in Wednesday’s column that she is looking at making a two-hour movie to properly tie up the series. From the column:

OK, here’s the deal: Yes, I tracked her down, but, no, she did not cough up those elusive four words. But wait — there’s more. And it’s good. No, amazing. No, un-frakkin’-believable. Amazing, even. Wait, did I say that already? Well, it’s true. Because just as I was about to brand her a big ol’ promise-breaker right there in front of all those industry types, Amy explained why she couldn’t divulge her long-ago-planned Gilmore ending. (Gilmore fanatics: This is the time in Sprockets when you either lean on a heavy object or just sit down.) In the next year or two, she hopes to make — wait for it — a two-hour Gilmore Girls TV-movie that ties up all those loose threads! I nearly fell over when she said it — especially given what she told me back in December. (BTW, lest you think Amy was pulling my leg, her partner in life and in showbiz, Dan Palladino, confirmed that a GG reunion pic is something they’re interested in pursuing.) And I wasn’t the only one floored by this development. “She said what?” gasped Scott Patterson after I relayed the information to him over the phone. “I didn’t think she would be interested in doing something like that. But if she says she is, I would seriously consider it.” Alexis Bledel was equally stunned. “A Gilmore Girls reunion?” she said with a laugh. “That’s certainly not something I had thought of doing. That’s really funny, I have no idea how I would feel in a few years. I don’t know, I’m sure the script Amy would write would be great, but I guess I’d have to read it and see how I felt at the time.” Last but not least, Lauren Graham e-mailed me late last night to say, “Could be a fun idea if everyone wanted to do it. I would do it just to get the four final words out of Amy. They torture me.”

Update: One possibility for the final four words is posted here.

Update II: The status of a possible movie and Amy Sherman Palladino’s vague comments on taking Rory on a different path (November 2009).