SciFi Weekend: Matt Smith Leaving Doctor Who–The Fall of the 11th on Trenzalore; Karen Gillan Gets Marvel Movie Role; Hannibal Renewed; Dan Harmon Returning To Community; Revolution Finale; Is Megan Draper Sharon Tate?; RIP (And Return Soon) Selena Kyle

Times Matt Smith

The big genre news of the week was also front page news on many newspapers. After months of rumors that this would be his last season, Matt Smith has announced that he will not be returning to Doctor Who after the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode and Christmas episode:

“Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

“Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven – he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before.

“Your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number 11, who I might add is not done yet – I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special.

“It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

This makes me wonder if we will really see how the fall of the Doctor plays out on Trenzalore and to what degree his final two episodes are a continuation of the story started in The Name of the Doctor. As Moffat has said that John Hurt will return in the eighth season, this episode might have long lasting ramifications.

Steven Moffat had this to say about Smith: “Great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break as we say goodbye to number 11. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.” Smith won several awards for his role:

Smith has been nominated for nine different awards over his time on “Doctor Who,” winning three of them — two SFX awards in 2011 and 2012, and a National Television Award in 2012. Smith was the first actor in “Doctor Who” to be nominated for a BAFTA, which he earned in 2011.

There has been immediate speculation as to the next actor to play the Doctor. Bookmakers are already setting odds. Per Steven Moffat: “A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again. After 50 years, that’s still so exciting.”

The 11 Doctors

1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5. Peter Davison (1982-1984)

6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)

8. Paul McGann (1996)

9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)

10. David Tennant (2005-2010)

11. Matt Smith (2010 – 2013)

While the most likely choice will be from one of many British actors, who may or may not be on lists of possibilities on various blogs, three less likely choices are the most interesting to consider:

Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch appeared like a potential lead on Doctor Who from his first appearance on Sherlock, also written by Steven Moffat. There is no doubt that he would be an excellent choice, but this is highly unlikely. I recall old interviews in which Cumberbatch said he was not interested in taking on a time-consuming commitment of this nature. The chances are far less now that he is a much bigger star.

David Tennant
Tennant is returning to the 50th anniversary episode and perhaps had so much fun in his old role that, while also unlikely, perhaps he would reconsider returning to the show. There are possible ways to make this happen, from a reverse generation following the fall of the Doctor on Trenzalore to something stemming from his reappearance in the 50th anniversary. One problem with continuing from his reappearance is that, as Billie Piper will also be present, this is apparently the Doctor from earlier in his time line. With the eleventh and Clara messing around in the Doctor’s time line anything might happen, including a revitalization of the tenth or perhaps even the next possibility:

Jenna-Louise Coleman
It has been common to speculate on having a female Doctor whenever there is a regeneration. Doing so now might create problems with the dynamics of the show as Coleman will be returning and they might not want to do a show with two female leads. One way around this would be to have Clara, perhaps as a consequence of having been intertwined in the Doctor’s time line, become the form taken when the Doctor next regenerates, perhaps merging with a Clara who is dying for the same reason the Doctor is at time of regeneration. The new Doctor could then add a male companion. Ironically I think that more female fans would be upset by this than male fans. One strength of Doctor Who as a science fiction show is that its viewers aren’t limited to nerdy males and the smaller number of female science fiction fans. Chicks Dig Time Lords (according to a Hugo-award winning book).  There is a large contingent of female viewers who watch and display a crush on the Doctor in many places on line. They might not like seeing a change to a female Doctor.

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Smith will have more time to spend on his film career, perhaps joining another recent costar who is having some success. Karen Gillan has been cast as the lead female villain in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen Gillan, who starred as Doctor Who’s companion for several seasons on the hit BBC show, is joining the cast of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy.

The movie is barreling towards a late-June shoot in the U.K. with James Gunn behind the camera.

The movie is in casting mode, with Glenn Close joining the roll call earlier this week. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista lead the cast of Marvel’s space adventure movie, which has Lee Pace and Michael Rooker as villains.

Details for Gillan’s role were not revealed, although it is known she will play the film’s lead female villain.

The Scottish actress played companion Amy Pond in Doctor Who‘s fifth through the recently ended seventh series. The character was hugely popular and appeared in Doctor Who books, apps and video games. Gillan has several indies in the can, including Oculus, a horror flick with Katee Sackhoff.

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NBC has renewed Hannibal. The press release follows:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — May 30, 2013 — NBC has given a 13-episode second-season renewal to its critically applauded drama “Hannibal.” The new season will air no earlier than midseason.

“Hannibal” is based on the characters from the novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris and was developed for television by Bryan Fuller, who also serves as writer and executive producer.

The announcement was made by NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.

“We’re so proud of Bryan’s vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling,” Salke said. “There are many great stories still to be told.”

Critics have strongly embraced the series. Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com said “Hannibal” “is the last of this season’s serial killer shows. It’s also, by a very wide margin, the best.” Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly called “Hannibal” “finely acted, visually scrumptious and deliciously subversive” while Matt Roush of TV Guide said the show is “feverishly twisted, fascinatingly macabre and visually remarkable.”

The series stars Hugh Dancy as expert criminal profiler Will Dancy, who has a unique ability to peer into the mind of serial killers. Mads Mikkelsen stars as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who is helping with the cases and, unbeknownst to Will, is also a serial killer himself.

Laurence Fishburne stars as Jack Crawford, the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Caroline Dhavernas and Hettienne Park also co-star.

Through its eight original telecasts to date, “Hannibal” is averaging a 2.0 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 4.7 million viewers overall in “most current” results from Nielsen Media Research. ”Hannibal” is the youngest drama on ABC, CBS and NBC, with a median age for its audience of 45.7. It’s also an upscale drama, indexing at a 111 among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100K+ incomes (with 100 indicating an average concentration of those homes).

Additionally, “Hannibal” is heavily time-shifted, with its 18-49 rating growing by 75% going from next-day “live plus same day” ratings to “live plus seven day” results.

In addition to Fuller, Martha De Laurentiis, Jesse Alexander, Chris Brancato, Sara Colleton, Katie O’Connell, Elisa Roth, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee also serve as executive producers.

The series is produced by Gaumont International Television, Dino De Laurentiis Company and Living Dead Guy Productions, and co-commissioned internationally by Sony Pictures Television Networks.

I have my doubts that the show will survive on network television for Bryan Fuller’s full seven year plan, but hopefully it will either last long enough to tell enough of the story and receive a proper ending or move onto cable in the future. I will avoid any significant spoilers in the hopes that others are starting to watch the show from the beginning, but to comment briefly on this week’s episode, it is clearer than ever that Hannibal is playing games with Will. This should come as no surprise as Hannibal must realize that Will is capable of figuring out Hannibal’s secret and exposing him. If not for the needs of an ongoing story, it is questionable why Hannibal hasn’t just killed him already or ensured that Will was removed from the FBI (which I believe he is still planning to attempt this season). As a relatively minor spoiler, we also found that when Hannibal was sniffing Will in a previous episode, it wasn’t  to try to decide what type of sauce to serve him with.

Community

In yet a second move to enhance quality television, NBC has also brought back both Dan Harmon and writer Chris McKenna to Community after the failed experiment of turning it over to others last season. Harmon has given some credit for his return to series star Joel McCale. I wonder how Harmon will handle last season’s finale with Jeff graduating. While last year’s show runners might have had a plan, having him out of the study room with the others does seem like a mistake. Perhaps something will come up forcing Jeff to take one more class, possibly even a decision that he no longer wants to be a sleazy lawyer and he returns to school to later move on to a new field. There are other ways he could still interact with the others, from social visits to being hired to teach a pre-law class at Greendale. These could work, but his interactions are the best with the rest of the cast when he is “studying” with them in the library.

Revolution - Season 1

Revolution will be airing its season finale tomorrow and remarkably it has been renewed. The one good thing I can say about Revolution is that it does have an ongoing storyline which does receive a conclusion. The first half of the season dealt with the rescue of the son. The second half dealt with going to the tower, and they have now reached it. However reaching a conclusion and reaching a satisfactory conclusion are two different things. It is really not worth the space to itemize all the unrealistic things about the storyline. Among the questionable discoveries, there are people living in the tower who have dedicated their lives to prevent anyone from getting to the twelfth level, where the electricity can be restored (with a contrived risk of burning up the planet). They have never been outside, which makes little sense since they could easily retreat inside as needed, and it is questionable that their food supply would have lasted this long even if this is where Dick Cheney supposedly hid out. They also feel more secure guarding the twelfth level than making it impossible to reach it or destroying the controls. While all electricity on earth is stopped (not counting that needed for operation of nervous systems in living things), somehow satellites remain functioning in orbit well beyond their normal life spans.

It appears from the previews that power will be restored, but we don’t know if this is temporary or whether it will extend into next season. At least it is likely that the storyline will move onto a new quest for next year avoiding a complete repeat of what we have already seen. It does seem safe to predict that we will be dealing with the same characters but new destination. Hopefully the quality is improved.

Renewing Hannibal, having Dan Harmon return, and renewing Revolution might partially be due to a shortage of hits to fill the prime time spots at NBC, complicated by The Office and 30 Rock concluding. Regardless, the first two at least are great moves for providing quality prime time shows.

mad-men-megan-draper-sharon-tate-red-star-white-t-shirt-esquire-amc

It is risky to try to predict where Mathew Weiner is going with Mad Men. There is a compelling theory making its rounds on line that Megan Draper’s storyline is a parallel to that of another aspiring actress, Sharon Tate. We have already seen signs of violence this season including an attempted robbery in Don Draper’s apartment and the Peggy accidentally stabbing Abe.  A review of the evidence for this theory can be found here and here.

Bruce Wayne Selina Kyle

RIP Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Fortunately death is not necessarily a permanent condition in the comics, and cats do have nine lives. I prefer to think of her eating in an outdoor bistro with Bruce Wayne as in the end of Dark Knight Rises.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Into Darkness; Revolution; Superman; Thor; Captain America; Elementary; Sherlock; New SciFi Series; The Newsroom; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who Ice Warriors

Doctor Who brought us to the Cold War and the return, after forty years of the Ice Warriors. The episode provided a good, suspenseful submarine/Aliens drama until the problems got wrapped up too easily. At least this time the Doctor didn’t solve everything with the Sonic Screwdriver alone. He also gave a speech like many that James T. Kirk used to convince aliens to play nice on Star Trek. The cold war backdrop and idea of mutually assured destruction did provide a good backdrop for the discussions with Grand Marshall Skaldac over whether he would destroy the earth. (Spoiler: Earth was spared.) Professor Grisenko provided a second surrogate Doctor.

Mark Gatiss showed us what is inside of the Ice Warrior’s suit and solved the perpetual problem which is present in many episodes of why the Doctor doesn’t use the TARDIS during a crisis to overcome a problem. There was some mumbo jumbo about the TARDIS’s Hostile Action Displacement System (not seen since the Patrick Troughton) has been reactivated to take the TARDIS elsewhere to remain safe. This raises two other problems. How does the TARDIS’s translation matrix continue to work after the TARDIS is gone and  how does the Doctor get to the South Pole, where the TARDIS rematerialized? Will there be reference to their adventures getting to the South Pole next week?  (I’m still wondering how Amy and Rory got back to earth after the Doctor left them behind at the end of A Good Man Goes to War.)

There were no clear clues to the Clara mystery but one exchange might be significant. When faced with the threat of World War III being set off Clara pointed out, “The world didn’t end in 1983, or I wouldn’t be here?” The Doctor responded, “History’s in flux, it can be unwritten.” Does that apply to the fate of the girl who died twice?

This week’s behind the scene video is available here.

Jenna-Louise Coleman had some hints on the Clara mystery in an interview with TV Guide:

In a way, Clara is connected with the 50th anniversary. We saw in the Christmas episode that her birthday is Nov. 23, the same date that Doctor Who first aired.
Coleman:
  In the Christmas episode, I didn’t know why that was the case. But again, we will find out by the end of this series. But it’s really exciting — [the season finale] is phenomenal.  My spine was tingling when I read it. Again, I’m teasing your so badly here, but there’s the beginning opening sequence, which [is]  kind of building up into the 50th. It’s just huge.

She also discussed her relationship with the TARDIS:

You get to pilot that TARDIS in one episode. What does driving it entail?

Coleman: There’s a certain part of the TARDIS you go to, that liftoff thing. But you know, the TARDIS and Clara have a relationship. Actually I don’t think we’ve talked about this in interviews before. It’s something that’s running through the series. Instead of it being like, “Does so-and-so like Clara?” The TARDIS and Clara have a bit of a face-off. So, the Doctor is obviously bringing back somebody new. I think we’ve done a whole additional content scene of me talking to the TARDIS, and the TARDIS is making fun of Clara. They kind of have an argument. They’ve got a relationship individual to the Doctor where they have a dialogue.

nF7Metg

Doctor Who is filming the 50th Anniversary episode in Trafalgar Square as pictured above. Another cast member  has been announced:

Jemma Redgrave will be returning to Doctor Who for the show’s fiftieth anniversary special. She previously appeared in 2012’s The Power of Three playing Kate Stewart, daughter of the legendary Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Jemma is part of a brilliant cast that is already known to include Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman who are joined by the returning David Tennant and Billie Piper plus screen legend John Hurt and Joanna Page. Filming is underway on the special which will be a 3D spectacular shown later this year.

startrekintopostersmallnew

There’s a new poster for Star Trek Into Darkness and a new trailer will be out on Tuesday. There are still rumors that, while named John Harrison, Benedict Cumberbatch’s character will turn out to be Khan. Cumberbatch won’t respond to the rumors saying, “Umm, I play a character called John Harrison. I can’t say more.” Some fans who believe this will be a re-imagining of the Khan story are upset since the change in the timeline in the first J.J. Abram’s Star Trek movie wouldn’t account for a different version of the Khan story. Of course the same might be argued about many other changes from the Roddenberry universe.

On last week’s Revolution, after lots of hype, Juliet finally told Google Guy what was going on. Something about how they all died on the island and are in purgatory, with no explanation of the flash forward. Actually there was something about viruses which only eat electricity and reproduce, sort of like Tribbles. I’m not very hopeful about the show, seeing it take a trajectory closer to that of FlashForward than Lost.  I do wonder what type of genre show Elizabeth Mitchell will be in next and what type of doctor or scientist she will play.

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Man of Steel is featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, along with mention of other genre (and non-genre) movies:

This week’s cover story reveals how the new film (out June 14) attempts to humanize the superhuman by finding new flaws and vulnerabilities. The most common one, however, was off the table: “I’ll be honest with you, there’s no Kryptonite in the movie,” says director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) Those glowing green space rocks – Superman’s only crippling weakness – have turned up so often as a plot point in movies, the only fresh option was not to use it. Anyway, if you want to make an audience relate to a character, a galactic allergy isn’t the way to do it.

Henry Cavill (Immortals), the latest star to wear the red cape, instead plays a Superman who isn’t fully comfortable with that god-like title. This film reveals that even on Krypton, young Kal-El was a special child, whose birth was cause for alarm on his home planet. (More on that in the magazine) And once on Earth, his adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), urge him not to use his immense strength – even in dire emergencies — warning that not every human would be as accepting of him as they are. So Clark Kent grows up feeling isolated, longing for a connection to others, and constantly hiding who he is. As a result, Man of Steel presents the frustrated Superman, the angry Superman, the lost Superman. “Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties,” Cavill says.

That’s just the set-up. Once the Kryptonian villain General Zod (Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon) arrives to threaten the Earth, eventually the passionate Superman steps forward, too. It helps that he has a reason to care about the home he’s defending, and we can all thank Amy Adams’ Lois Lane for that. “I think she’s very transient. She’s ready to pick up and go at a moment’s notice,” Adams says of the hard-bitten journalist. “I think that definitely could be part of what she sees in Superman — not really laying down roots, not developing trust.”

Iron Man 3 will include a trailer for Thor: The Dark World. Screenrant has some information on Thor 2 along with Captain America 2.

natalie-dormer-kb-media-media-722507422

I gave up on watching Elementary earlier this season but might return to it after reading that Natalie Dormer of The Tudors and Game of Thrones will be playing Irene Adler in a three episode arc which begins May 9. It will be interesting to see how she compares to Lara Pulver’s (often nude) portrayal of her in Sherlock. Dormer has shown in The Tudors that she would have no qualms in topping Adler’s scenes if allowed on broadcast television. Henry Cavill, who is staring in Superman, also had a major role on The Tudors.

It was previously announced that the first episode of season 3 of Sherlock will be entitled The Empty Hearse. It has now been announced that the second episode will be entitled The Sign of Three.

Syfy has seven new series being considered, some of which are hard science fiction. These are in addition to Ron Moore’s upcoming series about a disease outbreak entitled Helix.

Orion
The space opera centers on Orion, an adventurous female relic hunter who tracks down valuable artifacts while trying to piece together her past. Set amid an intergalactic war pitting humans against a terrifying alien race, Orion must decide whether to use her abilities to save herself or commit to the cause and unearth long hidden artifacts that could free all of humanity from a horrible fate. Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes Burton (Alphas) will write and executive produce, with George Krstic and Ryuhei Kitamura on board as co-executive producers. F.J. Desanto will serve as a supervising producer on the UCP project.

Sojourn
The first detective ever in space is tasked with investigating a murder on a starship — headed to colonize another planet –­ and instead becomes embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving a mysterious terrible crime dating back to the original launch of the ship 50 years ago. Phil Levens (Smallville) will write, with Blum (Paranormal Activity) on board to produce the Lionsgate entry.

Clandestine
After a clan of bandits are nearly destroyed and left for dead by Coalition forces, they take refuge in the nearest safe haven, a derelict Coalition starship floating in space. Once onboard, they masquerade as Coalition officers while continuing their criminal ways ­– until they stumble upon a shocking realization about the true nature of the Coalition. Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero will write, with Hurd (The Walking Dead) and John Shiban (Hell on Wheels) attached to executive produce the UCP project.

Infinity
When an alien armada is sighted in the region of Pluto, the Earth government turns to a young billionaire industrialist — who has the only ship ready for interstellar travel — to greet the aliens and avoid a catastrophe. Powered by secret alien technology discovered on Earth in the 1960s, the ship engages in a firefight that sends them spinning through a wormhole into an uncharted region of space. Lost in the universe, the team struggles to survive as they encounter new planets and alien species, searching for a way back home. Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) will write the Berman/Braun produced entry from Universal Television.

Silver Shields
When his father is slain by assassins connected to the government of the large nearby city of Pont Royal, farm boy Caymer journeys there to continue his father’s legacy as a member of the local police force — and to solve the mystery of his father¹s death. He discovers that his simple country view on life is at odds with the big city, filled with orcs and other magical creatures. Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Alphas) will write and executive produce the UCP effort alongside producer Aaron Kaplan.

Shelter  
A massive meteorite is headed toward Earth, forcing 30,000 hand-picked humans to live underground in a government-funded shelter in order to start a new society. What begins as a Utopia quickly succumbs to the old human faults and jealousies as certain members of society create alliances to gain favor and power. Meanwhile, things on the surface are not what they seem. Humans slowly realize that this event may have been fated and the survivors meant for a greater purpose in rebooting life on Earth. Bruce Joel Rubin (Deep Impact) will write and executive produce the UCP project with writer/co-executive producer/writer Ari Rubin.

Dominion (working title, formerly known as Legion)
The effort, based on the feature film Legion produced by Bold Films, is set 20 years after evil angels have descended from heaven to lay waste to the human souls they felt God had favored over them. A reluctant “savior” must arise to protect Vega, the last remaining stronghold of humanity. The savior has more to fear than just angels, as the elites of this new society conspire to gain power for themselves. Vaun Wilmott (Sons ofAnarchy) will write and co-executive the Sony Pictures TV project, with ScottStewart (Defiance) attached to direct and executive produce. David Lancaster will EP as well.

The reboot of Blake’s 7 has also been received a thirteen episode order. I’m surprised that it has taken this long to bring this classic back. A reboot does make more sense than continuing the original but I would have loved to see how they might have managed to continue after the events of the original show’s finale.

yvonne-strahovski-dexter-season-7

Yvonne Strahovski will be reprising her role as Hannah McKay on the final season of Dexter. We can expect lots of flowers and murder.

HBO has announced that Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom will return on July 14.

Last month I mentioned contributing to the Kickstart campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie. They wound up raising 5.7 million. The bulk of this came from people other than myself.

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

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B EPISODE 1

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

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

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B SERIES PREVIEW IMAGES

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Who was also nominated for two BAFTA Awards:

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

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

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

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

Three episodes were nominated for Hugo Awards:

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

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

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

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

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

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Benedict Cumberbatch; Person of Interest; Thor; Building the Starship Enterprise

doctor-who-50-cal

Doctor Who TV has summarized many of the reports to date on the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who:

The format of the anniversary is still to be confirmed. Steven Moffat originally said: “Why talk in the singular?” Matt Smith also hinted at multiple episodes, but more recent rumours seem to suggest a feature-length outing.

In another interview Moffat said: “I’ve got various plans, but all I can say emphatically is it will be huge. It won’t be just one thing…. We’ll be doing lots of stuff. The plans are quite extensive, and changing all the time. Oh my God, we will hit that year very, very hard indeed.”

Moffat on multi-Doctor stories:

“It’s slightly difficult to do them all now. I’m not against it but I think as a gimmick it outlives its usefulness quite fast. “Doing Time Crash with 8 minutes of Peter [Davidson] and David [Tennant] was about right. If you have a really good story that motors on the fact that this is one man experiencing the same adventure at several different points of his life, that would be worth doing. But you can’t do a special or an episode as a reunion party. That’s not a story, that’s a party. Nothing wrong with parties but they’re not great fun to watch. But with a really good story, then yes.”

And in a later interview: “Possibly…. It’s so far in the future, it’s only a set of notions.”

Neil Gaiman wants The Eleven Doctors:

“The real dream story is the one you cannot do because technology is not there and people have died — It would be The Eleven Doctors,” he explained. They made The Three Doctors. They made The Five Doctors. It’s the 50th Anniversary, you’d make The Eleven Doctors and you’d have William Hartnell in it. The trouble is do you have actors playing these people? Do you have someone doing a Tom Baker? How do you do that? I trust in Moffat enough to think that whatever he’s going to give us, it will be worth it.”

A live episode?

Matt Smith: “It won’t just be a televised event, I think it will be a live event. The way it’s transmitted on TV will hopefully be an inventive thing–something different.”

More in the full post.

The BBC has announced a set of short stories will be written about the eleven Doctors.

The 11 tales, known as “eshorts”, will each be written by a well-known children’s author.

Each story will feature one of the various regenerations of the Doctor, starting with William Hartnell, who played the character from 1963-1966.

A paperback of the stories will be published by Puffin in November.

The first children’s author will be revealed on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who Facebook page on Monday 7 January, followed by the first story on Wednesday 23 January.

A promotional video of each author will also be available each month on the BBC Worldwide YouTube channel starting on Friday 11 January.

There has been speculation that J.K. Rowling is one of these authors.

Billie Piper discussed the 50th anniversary on the Graham Norton Show (video available here). She denies rumors that she will be appearing: “No. I’ve not been asked. I think Matt Smith said something in passing or in jest like, ‘That would be nice,’ and it became something, but no.”

In an interview last night, David Tennant said he knew nothing about the 50th anniversary plans.

episode-4-merlin-mithian-morgana-copy

It seems like Merlin and Downton Abbey just ended, and now they are starting up again in the United States.

TV Addict has an interview with the cast. This selection helps set up the final season:

Is there anything you can share about what’s upcoming in the 5th season?  Maybe just a few teasers?
BRADLEY:  Mordred’s back – I’m not sure what I can tell you without telling you what happens in the show!

We know there’s the 3-year gap.  You can surely talk about what happened during that time period for our heroes?
BRADLEY:  Yes, three years have gone by.  That’s what I can tell you.
KATIE:  I can tell you what happens with Morgana.  For two years of that period, Morgana has been held captive because of her magic and it is a very important storyline for her in season five is that everything she has feared her whole life about being persecuted for having magic has all come true.  She has been persecuted.  She has been tortured.  She’s been kept locked up.  I think that the fact that her fears have actually happened means that she feels vindicated in removing Arthur from power and in taking over because she’s protecting people like herself.

More from the cast at The Los Angeles Times and Blastr.

Parades End

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be in everything these days. Besides Sherlock, The Hobbit, and Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch will be staring in Parade’s End, a five part mini-series on HBO in February:

From the reliable comforts of Edwardian England to the chaos and destruction of the First World War, the early 20th century was a defining era in history, a time of unprecedented change, when old certainties were being torn down. The long golden afternoons of the pre-war years would be shattered by the most destructive war the world had ever known, and countless lives would be changed forever.

Set against this backdrop of impending catastrophe is the story of English aristocrat Christopher Tietjens, trapped in a marriage to an unfaithful wife, and caught between his commitment to the values of Toryism and his unspoken love for a fearless young suffragette.

Spanning the glittering, shallow world of London high society, the trench-scarred battlefields of France, and the breathtaking English countryside, the sweeping five-part HBO Miniseries presentation PARADE’S END debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 26 (9:00-11:05 p.m. ET/PT), WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27 (9:00-11:05 p.m.) and THURSDAY, FEB. 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m.), exclusively on HBO. Adapted from Ford Madox Ford’s groundbreaking novels by Sir Tom Stoppard (Oscar®-winner for “Shakespeare in Love”), the drama was directed by Susanna White (HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Generation Kill”).

Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock,” “War Horse”), Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “The Town”) and Adelaide Clemens (“The Great Gatsby”) star in PARADE’S END, a Mammoth Screen production for the BBC in association with HBO Miniseries and Trademark Films and BBC Worldwide and Lookout Point; co-produced with BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fund and Anchorage Entertainment; filmed with the support of the Belgian federal government’s Tax Shelter Scheme. The executive producers areMichele Buck and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Ben Donald for BBC Worldwide, Simon Vaughan for Lookout Point TV, Judith Louis for ARTE France and Tom Stoppard. David Parfitt and Selwyn Roberts produce.

A spoiler-free review can be found here.

Firewall

Person of Interest returned with Reese in custody, but with a four-way complication for the FBI. Here is a portion of a press conference with executive producers Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman, posted prior to Friday’s episode:

Do you ever come up with a storyline and then think, “No, we can’t go that far”?
JONAH:  Every day.  Our writers come up with incredibly bold and great and sometimes subversive and odd pitches.  There’s a heightened aspect to the show.  I talked a lot about THE X-FILES, in developing the pilot, and Greg and I have referred back to it frequently, because it had a great balance between the case-of-the-week and a serialized, larger mythology that they were telling.  But, what they also had was this great dove-tailing connectiveness between the case of the week and that mythology, in the way they interacted with each other.  So, we always want the show to reach out as far as it can, as far as jumping from one unexpected world to the next, but with a common thread that emerges from that and giving the sense of a larger, corrupt, weirder universe around them.  I was a huge fan of James Ellroy’s books, “American Tabloid” being one of them.  There’s a sense that you get from Ellroy’s universe that there are weird machinations at play underneath everything, with his dark gaze on the CIA, on the events of the 1960′s, and on the connection with heroin out of Vietnam.  The darker lens that our show takes, looking towards government surveillance and all those sorts of things, is not all that different from THE X-FILES.  THE X-FILES universe was a very dark one, in the direction of alien conspiracies.  Ours is really about surveillance technologies and the pending odd moment when a number of different entities know more about your life than you do, and I think we’re kind of there.  We keep being interested in the larger universe of that, and what impact that has upon our relationship to our government.
GREG:  A perfect case in point is that one of our writers saw an article about the massive new surveillance program uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, in terms of predictive pattern matching.  It’s a constant steady drumbeat of these types of stories.

Are you going to be returning to the issues with the machine’s growing artificial intelligence?
JONAH:  One of the problems we have with the show is that our incredible writers have come up with so many compelling storylines and villains, at least to me.  From the beginning, one of the ideas with the show was compelling villains.  I love writing villains, and we’ve embraced that.  It was one of the first questions J.J. [Abrams] had about the show because he wanted to have that tapestry of villains.  They’re so fun, in the way that they drive the plot forward.  We have an absolute wealth of them, at this point, with some amazing actors, like Enrico Colantoni, Robert John Burke, Clarke Peters and Amy Acker.  I want to keep exploring, and I know our writers want to keep exploring, all of those different storylines, to the degree that we can and to the degree that the audience is willing to go along for the ride.  We tend to tell our stories in chapters.  Not explicitly because we don’t draw attention to it, but the story keeps a steady simmer going, on some elements.  At this point, the A.I. of it all is poised to erupt back into view.  But, when you have fantastic actors playing great characters, you want to go back and service those storylines again.  None of our villains are ever too far from surfacing, but we like to keep the audience guessing, as to how all these storylines connect together.

For the first time, the characters were following their own divergent interests, even if it was to their own detriment.  Is that something that will continue to happen, in the second half of the season? 
JONAH:  It’s all falling apart.
GREG:  I think it’s fantastic that we have two characters who are largely cognizant of the machine and its capabilities, but more so Finch than Reese, obviously.  Carter and Fusco are a little bit on a need-to-know basis, and the collision that they have encountered, up to this point, has been more on a municipal level, with HR, Quinn and Simmons.  And then, there is the larger nemesis of Root (Amy Acker), who is interested in freeing the machine.  When we last saw her, she got away, but we will hear from her again.  The great part of all these characters is that they come and they coalesce in interesting ways, on our show, and bump up against each other, all in the fine city of New York.  It gives each of our characters their own dilemmas, but they often bump up against each other and need each other’s help.

Thor-Jaime-Alexander-as-Sif

Jaimie Alexander discussed Thor: The Dark World.

“It’s going to be a bit of a darker feel, and obviously a lot more action. We get to explore the different Realms a lot more and you see a lot more Asgard, and you get to know the people of Asgard. We sort of explore the Thor-Sif relationship a little bit. It’s more like getting a feel of who these people are, and the way they are with each other. It was fun for me and fun for Chris. Again, he and I are almost like brother/sister types too, so I was like ‘maybe that translates into ooh they love each other on camera.’ [laughs] We had a good time making that movie.”

Many genre shows have started in the U.K. and later received followings in the United States. It sounds like Utopia might be a new show worth watching for.

Last month their was the petition to the White House to build the Death Star. Now there is a petition to build the Starship Enterprise:

An engineer is petitioning the White House to study the possibility of building a real-life starship Enterprise like the fictional vessel in television’s “Star Trek.”

The proposal was submitted through the White House’s official “We the People” channel, which promises an administration response to any petition that gathers at least 25,000 signatures. Just last month, a petition to build a Death Star like the spherical spaceship in the movie “Star Wars” garnered that critical mass, and is currently awaiting its official response.

The Enterprise proposal comes from an engineer who goes by the name BTE Dan, who detailed plans for constructing a life-size, flyable starship Enterprise on his website last year.

“We have within our technological reach the ability to build the 1st generation of the USS Enterprise,” BTE Dan wrote in the petition, viewable here.

As of this writing, the petition had 3,335 signatures, with more than 21,000 to go.

The project, BTE Dan maintains, wouldn’t be a vanity exercise, but rather a practical step forward for space exploration. [The Top 10 Star Trek Technologies]

“It ends up that this ship’s inspiring form is quite functional,” he wrote. “This will be Earth’s first gigawatt-class interplanetary spaceship with artificial gravity. The ship can serve as a spaceship, space station, and space port all in one. In total, one thousand crew members & visitors can be on board at once.”

Make it so.

Jenna-Louise Coleman To Play Next Companion On Doctor Who

Jenna-Louise Coleman has been chosen to play the next companion on Doctor Who after Karen Gillan leaves the TARDIS during the upcoming season. The BBC confirmed the story this morning after British tabloids ran stories on the choice. There are unconfirmed rumors that her character will not be from earth.

Coleman will make her first appearance in the 2012 Christmas episode.

“I want to get started already,” says Jenna. “I’m a huge fan of the show”.

“Matt Smith did my audition with me. It was fun and I felt like we were in it together.”

Steven Moffat said: “We saw a lot of brilliant actresses. But Jenna was the only person going faster than Matt – he had to keep up!”

On her favourite companion: “Between Billie Piper and Karen Gillan”

Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England on April 27, 1986. She played the role of  lesbian Jasmine Thomas on an  ITV soap, Emmerdale in 2005. She joined the cast of the BBC’s Waterloo Road in 2009. Coleman had a small role in Captain America: The First Avenger and appears in an upcoming ITV mini-series Titanic (picture below). Coleman has been nominated twice for ‘Sexiest Female’ at the British Soap Awards

Steven Moffat had been tweeting about Sophia Myles, who previously appeared in the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace, creating speculation that she would play the next companion. Perhaps she will have another role in the upcoming season. While her character did die, others (including Karen Gillan who appeared in The Fires of Pompeii prior to playing Amy Pond) have returned to the show in different roles.

Update: More news on the upcoming season

The BBC has confirmed rumours that Doctor Who Series 7 will be split over two years. They will only air six episodes in 2012.

“There will be 6 episodes this year, including the Xmas Special. Then 8 next year,” says the BBC.

Amy and Rory will leave after five episodes. Steven Moffat revealed: “Amy and Rory will leave in a final encounter with the Weeping Angels in episode 5.”

Adding: “Not everyone gets out alive. And I mean it this time!”

The Daleks have also been confirmed to appear in the Autumn run.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Star Trek Cross Over; Lost’s Emilie de Raven as Belle; Olivia’s Memories on Fringe; Space 1999 Remake

Among the unusual items in my library is a fan published book from 1982, The Doctor and the Enterprise, featuring a cross over between the Doctor as played by Tom Baker and  Star Trek: The Original Show. Since then there have been other fan crossovers between Doctor Who and Star Trek, but the first officially sanctioned cross over will be coming out the May, in comic form. This will feature the current Doctor, along with Amy and Rory, on the Enterprise of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

If you are not interested in this cross over, how about Doctor Who and Peanuts? Teefury had a one day limited edition shit yesterday featuring the eleven Doctors as Peanuts characters.

Matt Smith said in a recent interview that he is willing to do nude scenes. We can be certain that will not occur on Doctor Who. Knowing what is in the mind of many readers, I’m not aware if Karen Gillan has ever answered the same question, but Billie Piper has done lots of nude scenes since leaving the show.

Once Upon A Time has a guest appearance from Emilie de Ravin of Lost. She plays Belle of the Beauty and the Beast, with a video preview above . The Hollywood Reporter interviewed deRavin about her role:

“There are obviously a lot of similarities,” de Ravin tells The Hollywood Reporter about the show’s take on the well-known character. “Obviously, she’s quite a bit more, shall we say ballsy, than I suppose in the past versions, but she’s really brave and really forthright with her opinions and all she wants to do.”

In the world of the ABC series, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) steps into the role of the “beast” when he helps Belle’s father in a raging war with ogres. But, there’s always the payback. In this case, it’s Belle or her father’s life.

“She would do anything basically for her father, but also her friends and family in general, and that’s what she does,” the Australian actress says. “She has this chance where she’s always wanted to be brave and make a change and do something different and not just sit around in the confinement of her castle and her simple life.”

Of course, Rumpelstiltskin may prove a harder challenge than what we’ve seen on Disney movies.

“There’s a point where Belle is a very giving, caring, passionate, nonjudgmental person,” de Ravin, 30, tells THR. “But, there’s also a breaking point, and sometimes enough is enough. And as much beauty as she can see in anyone, you know in Rumpelstiltskin slash the beast, if it can’t be believed by the other person or accepted, then you know, you can’t force somebody to feel something.”

“There’s possibly the opportunity for him to lose power and to gain love, and so does the old question of what will you choose?” she continues. “Love over power or power over love? And that’s a big struggle for him because it’s been so long of him being such a powerful, cruel person, that you know it’s almost, it’s completely hard to fathom that A, somebody would be able to care for him and B, that would be better than power.”

Emilie de Ravin will be returning later this season to continue this storyline.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SD9XlycwmtM

Fringe is getting more interesting as the season progresses. Olivia’s memories from the original time line are now bleeding over into the show’s current time line.  This week’s episode, Welcome to Westfield began with the above dream sequence. It was one of the better episodes of the season, with Olivia, Walter, and Peter once again acting as a team in an episode in which both universes were mixed together. Olivia also displayed memories of cases which occurred in our time line. The episode concluded with Olivia kissing Peter and making dinner for him as she would normally do in the original time line. I will be very disappointed in Peter if he doesn’t make Olivia’s dream at the beginning of the episode come true.

An updated version of Space 1999 is being planned. Space 1999 was a flawed science fiction show of the 1970’s making me wonder why someone would want to do a remake, until I thought that the same could have been said about Battlestar Galactica before its excellent remake. The new series, Space 2099, re-imagines the original series and takes place a hundred years later.

Doc Soto has a second tour of Alcatraz.

So Long, Sarah Jane–Elisabeth Sladen Dies Of Cancer

Time Lords might live forever but their companions eventually die. The news came earlier today from the BBC:  “It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63.”

Sladen, pictured above before taking on the Daleks in 1974, played Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, and the fourth, played by the legendary Tom Baker. Despite strong competition from more recent actresses such as Billie Piper and Karen Gillan, Elisabeth Sladen is widely considered to be the best actress to  have played the Doctor’s companion.

Sladen was first seen as Sarah Jane Smith in this scene in 1973:

She remained on the show for three of the best years in its history, ultimately leaving the Doctor (who had regenerated since she first met him). Here is Sarah Jane’s last scene  with Tom Baker before leaving as a regular on the show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thjWMWzUa30&feature=player_embedded

While sadly Elisabeth Sladen will not be here for Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013, she did return to appear on the twentieth anniversary show in 1983, The Five Doctors.  She also appeared in a 1993 Children in Need special and in a 1995 independent film.

Sarah Jane returned to Doctor Who in  the 2006 episode, School Reunion. David Tennant greeted her with the simple but memorable,” Hello Sarah Jane.” Here is a report from Doctor Who Confidential which includes clips from the episode:

Elisabeth Sladen appeared opposite David Tennant in three more episodes. She had a major part in the two-part season finale for the fourth season, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. She also appeared briefly in David Tennant’s final episode, The End of Time. Sladen  stared in a recent spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures where she also had the opportunity to appear with the current Doctor, Matt Smith. This makes seven Doctors who have had at least one appearance with Sarah Jane. Four seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures have aired and a fifth was in production. There is no word yet as to what will happen with the fifth series.

Digital Spy has some reactions to Sladen’s death:

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who executive producer::
“There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma – but I can’t think of one other who’s done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. “But that’s Sarah Jane,” he said, confused “In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?” It’s not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that 50 years from now.”

John Barrowman, actor:
“Elisabeth Sladen Matriarch of Dr Who – I loved my time on the Tardis with her. I am proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci fi world. Your Dr Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile. RTD (Russell T. Davies) called me this morning when I woke up. She lived in my flat in Cardiff when she was filming SJA. She was a delight. Can’t tell you how sad I am. I wanted to let you know I got the news as a lot of you were concerned. I’m off to chill, I hope you understand. Will tweet this weekend in PS. jb.”

Mark Gatiss, writer:
“‘A tear, Sarah Jane?’ Farewell to the wonderful, irreplaceable Lis Sladen. The best.”

Nicola Bryant, Doctor Who companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown:
“I’m so sorry to have to say I’ve just had a call to say Liz Sladen has died. It’s too much to take in, but it’s true. How tragically young.”

Neil Gaiman, writer:
“Lots of reports that Lis Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith, has passed away. It looks like the Lis Sladen news is official. Big sadness. Rest in Peace.”

Alexander Armstrong, actor and comedian, voice of ‘Mr Smith’:
“Just heard news of Elisabeth Sladen’s death. A wonderful actress – devastating news for all Doctor Who and Sarah Jane fans. Sad for Mr Smith too.”

Noel Clarke, actor:
“Not the best news to come home to, But I hope that Elisabeth will RIP. As someone who knew her, I always found her lovely. she’ll be missed. #SARAHJANESMITHLIVES because Elisabeth Sladen made her Great. -Liz, you were awesome and will be missed. (no more to be said tonight) NC.”

Paul Cornell, writer:
“Very sorry to hear about Elisabeth Sladen, a great actor, special to everyone of my generation and a whole new one.”

Tracy-Ann Oberman, actress:
“Oh no! Just on Twitter and saw sad news about Liz Sladen. I knew she was ill, but what happened. Rip Sarah Jane. You were THE assistant. #dw”

Stephen Fry, actor/writer:
“What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen – her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family.”

Jonathan Ross, broadcaster:
“RIP Elisabeth Sladen aka Sarah Jane . Sad news.”

Finn Jones, actor (Santiago Jones in Sarah Jane Adventures):
“Saddened to hear Elisabeth Sladen has passed away. A truly beautiful, talented and wonderful woman – a pleasure and honor to work with.”

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Karen Gillan Takes Manhattan; Billy Piper Beat Her There; Californication; Big Love; Merlin and Camelot; Mad Men; The Borgias

BBC America has released its trailer for the upcoming season of Doctor Who (video above) which starts out with a two part episode in the United States. The BBC America trailer does contain different scenes compared to the BBC One trailer previously posted. The season will have a hiatus over the summer, but we will still be able to see Karen Gillan. During the summer she will be staring in We’ll Take Manhattan:

The BBC has announced the commission of single drama, We’ll Take Manhattan, which explores the explosive love affair between photographer David Bailey and sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton.

Focusing on a wild and unpredictable 1962 Vogue photo shoot in New York, the drama brings to life the story of two young people falling in love, misbehaving, and inadvertently defining the style of the Sixties along the way.

Karen Gillan will play Jean Shrimpton, in her first lead role since starring alongside Matt Smith as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. The drama is produced by Kudos Film and Television for BBC Four.

Karen said: “Jean Shrimpton is an icon of the Sixties and I am so excited to be playing somebody who had such a lasting impact on the fashion world. I can’t wait to take on the challenge of bringing Jean and Bailey’s fascinating love story to life. Sixties here I come!

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: “The story of David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton is classic territory for BBC Four – a moment in time, a fusion of talents, that had a huge impact on cultural life. It is a drama that is all about being alive and taking a chance, being young and kicking down the statues, and yet it is also a beautiful love story. And if you want to know why our world looks like it does, then this is the drama that tells you.”

Set predominantly in 1962, but also exploring the story of how Bailey and Shrimpton first met, this one-off drama reveals how a young, visionary photographer refused to conform. He insisted on using the unconventional model Jean Shrimpton on an important photo shoot for British Vogue and, over the course of a freezing week in Manhattan, threw out the rule book and made startling, original photographs.

We’ll Take Manhattan is the story of that wild week, of Bailey and Jean’s love affair, and of how two young people accidentally changed the world forever.

About the drama, Claire Parker of Kudos Film and Television, says: “In Jean, Bailey found someone that he and his camera fell in love with. We’ll Take Manhattan captures the essence of their dynamic affair and how they unwittingly changed the face of a decade. This is a really exciting opportunity to tell an intimate love story that plays out against the backdrop of Britain on the cusp of huge social and cultural change. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to make another film for BBC Four and are thrilled to have Karen Gillan on board as Jean.”

Billy Piper

An actress who previously stared as a companion on Doctor Who has  beaten The Doctor to America and has beaten Karen Gillan to Manhattan. Billie Piper’s character on Secret Diary of a Call  Girl had an episode taking place in New York City concerning making a movie of the book written the previous season. The fourth season recently completed its run in Great Britain and resumes on Showtime on April 7.  The relationship between Belle and Ben was a major component of the season. Other major characters in the fourth season include Lily James as Stephanie’s teen-age daughter, Paul Nicholls as a vice cop who becomes interested in Belle, and Genna Chan as a dominatrix.

Also on Showtime, Californication and Big Love recently concluded, with statutory rape becoming a major issue on both last season. Californication might resume three years in the future, after Hank has written a successful book about his life in California,  while Big Love has concluded the series. I was disappointed with the ending of Big Love. I didn’t object to Bill’s fate, but didn’t like that his murder occurred leaving major story lines unresolved. The charges of statutory rape dominated the season. The pressure’s on Bill’s business even were escalated during the final episode, but suddenly these problems were made irrelevant with Bill’s death as opposed to resolving them.

Also on cable television, the contract battles between Matthew Weiner and AMC were resolved, somewhere between the positions of both. Mad Men has been renewed for two more seasons, with Weiner also getting an option to do a seventh. This would provide time for Weiner to plot out where he wants to take the show long term. Mad Men will return in early 2012.

Starz began Camelot, its racier version of the King Arthur legend, while SyFy is in the midst of the two-part season finale of Merlin. The end of the season of Merlin has brought the story far closer to the more traditional legends and the two-part season finale was among the best episodes of the series. The stories are quite different, with Arthur actually living with his father in Camelot on Merlin, but  Merlin has now reached a situation comparable to where the Starz version of  Camelot is starting with the conflict between Arthur and his half-sister.

Showtime is starting The Borgias tonigiht. As has occured with other series on Showtime, the first episode “leaked” out early and I watched last night. The series shows promise as a new version of The Tudors, this time taking place in the Vatican.

SciFi Weekend: The Hottest Doctor Who Companions; Sherlock; Merlin; Zephram Cochrane and The Budget; Caprica; Dexter; And Amy Pond Goes Over The Rainbow

Topless Robot has chosen The Top Ten Hottest Doctor Who Companions.:

10. Rose Tyler
9. Susan Foreman
8. Leela
7. Peri
6. Martha Jones
5. Zoe Herriot
4. Sarah Jane Smith
3. Romana I
2. Amy Pond
1. Romana II

I can’t agree with the entire list. When I think of hot Doctor Who companions Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) is the first I’d think of.  She was definitely the most scantily clad companion in most episodes. The above video is from the first episode featuring Peri’s breasts, Planet of Fire. They should be ranked higher, even if not first.

Romana Doctor Who

I can accept Lala Ward’s Romana leading with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) second but I might have led with the younger Romana (age 139) played by Amy Tamm.  The above picture manages to include both actresses who played Romana. (It’s complicated.)  I would also rank Rose Tyler (Bilie Piper) higher. Amy Pond might be a kiss-o-gram girl, but Billie Piper has even played an actual hooker. Everyone likes Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), but I never really thought of her as hot. The same goes for some of the others on the list. At least they didn’t rank Tegan.

Sherlock, a modern day reimagination by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, is receiving excellent reviews, such as here. It looks like another BBC show which I’ll have to check out. There have been three 90 minute episodes of the show and more have been ordered.

SyFy has announced they will be broadcasting season three of Merlin in early 2011, shortly after the episodes air on the BBC.

Sherlock

Matthew Yglesias used the fact that Zephram Cochrane is projected to master faster than light travel by the 2060s to explain long term budget projections. I’m glad he explains economics in terms I understand.

The first half season of Caprica will be released on DVD in October.

Producer Scott Rosenbaum agrees the first season of V was inconsistent. The original series started out much better, but went downhill over time. Hopefully in the case of the remake we will see an upwards trajectory.

Julie Benz

Julie Benz gave revealed how Rita will be returning to the first episode of the upcoming season of Dexter along with talking about her upcoming role on No Ordinary Family.

Amy Pond might have only come in second place in the rankings above, but she did get to go Over The Rainbow:

Great video but there is one important scene missing. Here’s one more video with Karen Gillan before concluding: Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue:

SciFi Weekend: The Lodger, Torchwood Filming News; A New Series From Alan Ball; and Another Recreation of Princess Leia as Slave Girl

Matt Smith Nude Scene

This week BBC America broadcast The Lodger, the last episode of Doctor Who before the two-part season finale. Spoilers are included for this episode only as I impatiently wait for BBC America to get caught up so I can write about the season finale and fez hats.

This was unfortunately an Amy Pond-lite episode, but still an entertaining one. The Doctor was stranded on earth and had to figure out what was messing with time to save Amy from being lost in the Tardis forever. Fitting in was not easy for the Doctor, but he did turn out to be a fantastic soccer player (with the episode airing just before World Cup coverage on the BBC).

The episode was largely a stand alone episode but it did include references to other evens of the season. The house where the Doctor rented a room had a card for the Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay on the refrigerator. Many reviewers have noted that a crack on the wall was shown at the end. While it was shown most prominently at the end of the episode, I also noted that it was shown briefly earlier. The most significant event was that Amy, while searching for a pen, found the engagement ring from Rory. Clearly this story line did not conclude with Rory being pulled into the crack and disappearing from time.

Matt Smith had one of the rare nude scenes in Doctor Who history, appearing dressed in only a towel, creating some controversy Ironically Smith has previously appeared on television undressed in such a manner, and it happened to be in a scene with a former companion of an earlier Doctor. Smith played one of Billy Piper’s clients in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, also dressed only in a towel.

Van Gough Card in Doctor Who: The Lodger

The Doctor In The Tardis has some limited news, and a bit of speculation, on the filming of the next season of Torchwood:

It has been confirmed by Gavin Barker Associates that John Barrowman will only be filming Torchwood in the US from January to June. That’s roughly about 16 weeks worth of filming, before coming back to the UK.

Assuming Eve Myles was correct in her statement earlier this week about a 7 and a half month shoot, it could mean that the other 3 and a half months shooting will be taking place in the UK, especially as John Barrowman has previously stated he will be appearing in all episodes of the new series.

Alan Ball already is responsible for two of the greatest television shows of all time, Six Feet Under and True Blood. Both deal with death, and if HBO wants another series on this topic Ball is obviously the person to turn to. Deadline Hollywood reports that HBO has ordered another pilot from Alan Ball:

HBO has greenlighted a pilot for All Signs of Death, a dark comedic drama based on Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Ball is executive producing and directing the pilot, which was written by Huston. The project, which is now casting for an August production start date in Los Angeles, centers on an inveterate twenty-something slacker who stumbles into a career as a crime scene cleaner, only to find himself entangled with a murder mystery, a femme fatale and the loose ends of his own past. “It’s not so much about the crime, it’s about the personal story of the central character and his journey back to being fully connected with his life after some very traumatic things,” Ball said.

As a director, Ball will experiment with smaller, portable cameras for a cinema verite style. “The show is about contemporary Los Angeles, but not the glamorous LA, it’s about the dirty underbelly of LA,” Ball said. “We’re going to try to go against the grain, away from the overlit, stylized noir for a more frantic, contemporary, naturalistic style.” Ball is executive producing All Signs of Death through his company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, under his overall deal at HBO. Huston is co-executive producing, with Your Face executives Christina Jokanovich and Peter Macdissi also producing.

Kelly Brook dresses in the Princess Leia slave girl outfit

Many actresses have dressed in versions of the Princess Leia slave outfit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, including Kristin Bell and Olivia Munn. Pictures of these two can be seen here, and a picture of the original is here. Kelly Brook has created several Princess Leia poses for Total Film, including the Leia slave girl pictured above.