SciFi Weekend: Harry Potter; Torchwood; Spock; Hayden Panettiere; and Anna Friel

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The sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a box office success but I found it to be a huge disappointment. There is always a problem turning the full novels into a movie-length story but this movie did the poorest job of the six movies out so far. I felt like I was seeing a succession of excerpts from the novel being placed on screen as opposed to a coherent story. We got a small feeling for the effects of teenage hormones now acting on the main characters and some bits and pieces to lead up to the upcoming final battle against Voldemort in the final installment, but it didn’t work as a coherent story as the novel did.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger did have a few good scenes as she felt like vomiting at the site of Ron Weasley with other girls, and Ginny Weasley looked far more grown up than I had pictured her. I thought that, while imperfect, at least the conclusion captured much of importance from the novel. I09 was also disappointed in the ending.

Children of Earth

The Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries which begins on BBC America is one of the best science fiction stories to appear on television in recent years. (Reviewed here but do not read until after viewed due to major spoilers). AOL Canada interviewed Russell T. Davies:

What was the inspiration behind ‘Children of Earth’? It’s a very scary concept.

I wanted it to be a big event. In Britain, it was moving to BBC1, the biggest channel in the country. They wanted to show it across the week, from Monday to Friday. The stakes were high, and I knew I had to make a big impact. I also wanted it to work on an international level, but again, relating it to the domestic story as well – the government, the police, the Army. Then there’s America, the United Nations…that’s the world, but you’re still talking to people in their living rooms, their kitchens. Ordinary lives being changed by huge decisions.

Big events like all the children being affected, and the invasion of Species 456…truly exciting and terrifying. Writ large, yes. But I think I had something to say about the world, and I think that’s the point.

Did you choose children as the victims deliberately?

Quite frankly, I didn’t put too much thought into it. I simply had the idea. I was just like, what if we have all the children suddenly stop and scream? Now, with hindsight, I look back and think, well that was a great idea. I don’t think it would have been as frightening if I said every man should stop and scream. Children are precious and vulnerable, and dramatically represent the innocent.

Did the BBC think they were taking a risk with the bleak ‘Children of Earth’?

They didn’t worry about the bleakness for a second. I think the bigger risk was running it from Monday to Friday. We all took a big breath with that one, and it worked! That week, we had the biggest audiences that we’ve ever had, and we were the number one drama for the entire week. We won every single night.

Will you miss ‘Doctor Who’, now that you’re moving on from it?

Enormously. They’re gearing up for their next season right now, and I’m slightly turning into their stalker. I keep emailing them, ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘What’s happening?’ I can’t wait to be a viewer, to sit back and watch their series. It’s the first Doctor Who series that I get to watch for the first time in 21 years.

‘Children of Earth’ had the feeling of a series ender. How is ‘Torchwood’ supposed to return to its alien-of-the-week format?

I’m not sure it will ever return to its alien-of-the-week format. I think we’ve proven that the show can work really well with this continuous-story format. I think we’ve set a new benchmark for Torchwood. Let’s be honest, though: if they gave me a pile of money and tell me to make a monster-of-the-week, I would go and do it. But the story never ends. It looks like an ending because it was the perfect ending to the story, but I could easily write the next five scenes of what happens next. I won’t run out of stories, not until the day I die.

Spock Prime

Starland.com interviewed Leonard Nimoy regarding playing Spock once again, his possible future as Spock Prime in future Star Trek movies, Barack Obama’s interest in Star Trek, and his role in Fringe. Here are some of the questions from the interview:

DM: Do you feel a sense of completion with the Spock character after this film or is this the beginning of a new era for you and Spock?

LN: Both! I don’t know about me and Spock. It certainly is the beginning of a new era for Spock! It is impossible to predict about me and Spock. I have no idea where they want to go next and I feel very comfortable either way. I feel very gratified that I have been able to have some kind of closure. If this is the closure, then I am very comfortable with it. I was not happy at all with the closure that was imposed on the Spock character some years ago when Spock was just simply abandoned and Kirk was killed all in one fell swoop! I felt both were great losses to Star Trek. There was no reason to kill Kirk and there was a neglect of the Spock character. It seemed intentional. It seemed as if someone was saying, “Well, we have to put a stop to that and start with a whole new era here.” Having had this movie and this experience as Spock and seeing Zachary Quinto in the role now, I feel the character has a potentially wonderful, new life and certainly the success of the movie is just so terrific! It is so wonderful to see this happen and to see Star Trek have a chance of a reinvention and a revival. It was certainly in need of a revival.

DM: Can you describe for me, from your perspective, how Spock has changed over the years, from the first pilot to this latest film?

LN: In a lot of ways I feel closer to Spock personally than I ever have.

The Spock that I played in this movie is closer to me, in my personal life condition, than he has ever been before. It was a “performance” during the series years and during the film years because I was far more human and emotional, in the broadest terms, than the Spock I was playing – now that doesn’t mean that Spock had no emotions; as we all know, Spock had his own inner life. But what I was playing was a very logical, very cool, rational Spock. In this movie, my Spock has come to terms with himself in a very comfortable way. So I see myself up there as Spock now whereas Zachary did a wonderful job bringing us a Spock character before the Spock that I played in the original Star Trek series. And, finally, at the end of this movie, we see him arriving at the Spock that I played during the original series.

DM: What do you believe is Spock Prime’s future after this film?

LN: My sense is that he has some work to do. He talked about establishing a new Vulcan colony and I think he will be very involved in that. If we never see him again that is what I would imagine he is doing. He is busy rebuilding the Vulcan story.

DM: There has been a lot of talk of President Obama being an admirer of Star Trek and being compared to the Spock character. He even said he saw the new film and really liked it in a recent Newsweek interview and he mentioned the Spock connection. Have you ever met the President and discussed Star Trek with him?

LN: I met him twice. We didn’t actually talk Star Trek but the first time I met him he gave me the Vulcan salute when he first saw me! My wife and I were at a luncheon for him a long time ago. It was just at the very earliest stages of his beginning to campaign for the nomination for the Presidency. He came through a group of people – it was a small crowd – maybe 60 or 80 people and he saw me and raised his hand in the Vulcan gesture and said, “They told me you were here.” I gave the Vulcan salute back to him and that was the beginning of our relationship. I understand he grew up watching Star Trek.

DM: I assume as well that you are very open minded to appearing as Spock again should they ask you?

LN: I have no illusions on whether or not they need me. They decided that they wanted to make this film using Spock as kind of an anchor for the story, which I think worked very, very well. They don’t have to do that again. If they decide they have a role for me to play I would be very interested in talking to them about it. But I have every reason to believe that they have established a whole new set of characters and they can sail very well without me and that’s fine. Either way is good with me. I am very gratified that this has happened.

DM: Are you going to be a regular on the TV series Fringe now?

LN: I have committed to at least two episodes for next season. That’s the beginning. Then we will see how it goes. The character I play on that show is just being given birth so we’ll just have to see how it evolves.

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Hayden Panettiere of Heroes has attracted attention for her fairly tame topless scene in I Love You, Beth Cooper. I find the pictures of her in an upcoming book entitled Room 23 (such as above) to be far more interesting.

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Seeing the pictures of Anna Friel in Vanity Fair has me wondering why it was that I stopped watching Pushing Daisies after a handful of episodes and why I have not gotten around to seeing Land of the Lost.

SciFi Weekend: “Torchwood: Children of Earth”

Instead of a usual thirteen episode season, Torchwood was presented as a five part miniseries for five constructive evenings. Torchwood: Children of Earth was broadcast on the BBC last week and will appear on BBC America later this month as well as becoming available on DVD. The miniseries was a tremendous success both creatively and in terms of ratings and can be enjoyed by those who have not followed the first two seasons. After this recommendation, I must warn that this review contains major spoilers and I recommend that it not be read if you plan to watch the miniseries at a later date.

The miniseries was stronger by having to come up with only one alien menace and having time to both tell the story and develop the back stories of the characters. The romance between Jack and Ianto was further developed, making Ianto’s death in the fourth installment even more shocking. We also saw relatives of both, including Jack’s daughter who appeared older than the immortal Captain Jack, and a grandson. Gwen’s story was advanced as she learned she is pregnant.

The story began with aliens speaking through the children of earth and it came as no surprise to find that the conflict was over the alien desire to take ten percent of the children. As with many science fiction shows it is necessary to enjoy the story without giving too much thought to all the specifics, but such thoughts cannot be helped after wards. If the alien 456 could control the children, it would have been much simpler to have them march off to rendezvous points as opposed to forcing the governments to round them up.

The story had the feeling of The X-Files in dealing with government involvement with the aliens and attempts to cover up their past dealings with them. The decision of the government to kill those with knowledge of their previous deal with the 456  showed questionable judgement but it was easy to believe they would make such a choice. It would have been far smarter to enlist Torchwood to help find a way to fight the 456 as opposed to trying to kill an immortal such as Jack. We saw the members of Torchwood on the run from the authorities, also similar to portions of several seasons of 24.

Torchwood has always been a far darker series than Doctor Who, and this was even more the case with Children of Earth. Sacrifice and loss was a major theme. First Jack watched Ianto die.  Much of the show was seen from the perspective of Frobisher, a civil servant placed on the front lines in dealing with the 456 (primarily as this placed him as opposed to the Prime Minister at risk). The Prime Minister told Forbisher he must publicly turn his children over to the 456 so that others will see this as safe. The cover story was that the children were to receive inoculations to protect them, but actually the 456 use children to extract drugs which bring them pleasure.

Like the decision to try to destroy Torchwood, this was a poor choice as, knowing their fate Forbisher was unlikely to comply and might have jeopardized the transfer by going public with is knowledge. It is also questionable if seeing a  single civil servant send his children for the inoculations would have calmed any parents who were skeptical. While a poor choice, this was foreshadowed by the attitude of the Prime Minister towards Forbisher in previous meetings.  Instead of  going along, Forbisher killed his children, his wife, and then himself to spare his children the horrible fate. His decision was also ultimately the wrong one as the transfer of the children was stopped.

Stopping the transfer and defeating the children called for yet another sacrifice as a child was needed to beat the 456 by using the children of earth to transmit a reverse of the frequency that the 456 used to control the children. Jack knew the primary child used would die and the only child available at the base where he was working was his own grandson. This sacrifice meant the loss of his grandson, and probably the loss of any chance at reconciling with his daughter.

While this defeated the 456 for the moment, we do not really know whether they remain a threat. We only saw those already on earth be defeated, but we do not know if more will be coming. Perhaps this is just a renegade group after drugs and there are no more to threaten earth. It is also possible that there are other planets where they obtain similar children and, having been defeated on earth, will stick to easier targets. It is also questionable if the deal with the 456 would have turned out well. The 456 first came in 1965 and settled for twelve children. This time they said they would destroy all life on earth unless they received ten percent of the children. If they broke their promise and returned a second time, it is likely they would return again for more.

The miniseries leaves open the future of Torchwood. The series started with only three surviving members after the events of last season. This year Ianto died, Gwen may or may not continue working after having a child, and the final episode ended with Jack leaving earth. Even their headquarters was blown up. Some see this as the end of Torchwood but, considering the high ratings, I suspect there will be another series.

Most likely Jack will return, perhaps just as a new danger to earth is revealed, and  Gwen will join him. Lois Habiba, who assisted Torchwood during this episode, could easily join the team. Early on I thought that Dr. Rupesh Patanjali (seen in the above video clip) was going to be an addition to Torchwood but he did not survive. Martha Jones could  return if Freema Agyeman is available. They used the excuse of her honeymoon to explain her absence from this episode. If they return with a full season as opposed to a miniseries they could also develop new characters.

While the miniseries worked very well this year, it might be best to return to a regular thirteen episode format to rebuild both their facilities and a new team. If this does turn out to be the end of Torchwood, it was an excellent way to end the series.

SciFi Weekend: The Doctor’s Next Companion; Star Trek Sex Symbol; Summer Glau and Dollhouse

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The identity of the next companion when Doctor Who resumes under Matt Smith has been announced. Karen Gillan, who previously appeared in the fourth season episode The Fires of Pompeii as one of the Soothsayers, has been given the role. It isn’t unusual for actors to make guest appearances on the show and wind up with other roles in the future. This could be a more difficult transition as this will be the first time since the show returned that both The Doctor and his main companion have changed at the same time. When Christopher Eccleston left, Billy Piper remained as his The Doctor’s companion, and when Piper left the show still had David Tennant returning.

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American audiences will soon be able to see this year’s Doctor Who specials (assuming they have not already downloaded them). BBC America has outbid the SciFi channel for the rights to the show, including this year’s specials.  They will begin airing them on June 27 with the Christmas special, The Next Doctor. The Easter special, Planet of the Dead, will air in July. The specials planned to air on the BBC later this year will air on BBC America in late 2009 and early in 2010. BBC America is also showing a couple of other genre shows this summer, Being Human and Survivors.

We are also going to have more of David Tennant than first expected when he decided to leave Doctor Who. He will have a major role in two episodes of the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Tennant will also be supplying the voice of The Doctor in Dreamland, a seven part animated series. Each episode will run for six minutes, and others supplying voices include Georgia Moffett playing a character named Cassie Rice. A Doctor Who movie is also being considered but it is not known if Tennant will be in it.

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A new trailer is out for the upcoming Torchwood miniseries, Children of Earth (above).

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Star Trek is now the top grossing movie of 2009 and has entered the list of top 100 films of all time.  There are interviews with the cast virtually everywhere. Here is Zoe Saldana on playing a Star Trek sex symbol as Uhura, and possibly becoming involved with Captain Kirk in the future:

You’re in Star Trek. So you’re a geek, right?
I am actually! I’m very proud to say I am a geek. But I’m kind of a cool geek. I grew up in a very sci-fi home so I’ve seen a lot of sci-fi movies, from Dune to Alien, 2001, ET, Batteries Not Included… All these films I go crazy for. But never Star Trek.

Was that why you weren’t sure whether to accept the role of Uhura?
Even though I’ve wanted to work with JJ Abrams, I was worried that it could have backfired on my career. But when JJ told me the kind of Star Trek he wanted to make, I wanted to be a Star Trek fan now. He writes amazing roles for women.

He wasn’t afraid to put you in a very short skirt either…
Oh, no, no, no… He was not afraid at all! That was a combination of JJ and the costume designer wanting to keep the trendy ’60s style of the original show.

How does it feel to be a sex symbol for Trekkies?
Oh God, I don’t know! Now I’m a sex symbol for geeks? What have I done…

Any freaky moments with Trek fans?
Not yet, no… I’m very happy to say not yet. But I did have a driver that I had to spend the day with. And he opened his trunk of his black sedan and it was filled with Star Trek memorabilia.

That does sound a bit weird…
I don’t go that crazy when I think about those sort of things happening at the time. But I’m thinking ‘Okay, is this normal for a man to drive around in a sedan with Star Trek memorabilia in his trunk?’ No. Freaky!

Who do you prefer, Kirk or Spock?
Oh God… It depends! I suppose it would have to be Spock for now.

So pointy ears are a bonus?
Hmm, I don’t know… Maybe in the sequel, I wouldn’t mind giving it a go with Kirk. He’s has those dreamy blue eyes. He brings a very interesting, rebellious manliness to the part.

Is that the kind of guy you go for?
I tend to be very picky, so I look for the perfect man! So it Spock and Kirk can mix, they’d become my perfect man. That’s the kind of guy I’d go for. I don’t only go for muscles, I don’t only go for brains. You just need to have a little bit of a bad boy and a geek and then you’ve got the perfect guy.

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Bruce Greenwood, who played Captain Christopher Pike, discussed his thoughts on future Star Trek movies:

I have to ask an obvious question. What do you know about plans for any sequels to the latest “Star Trek” movie?

They’re bouncing around story ideas right now. I think, from what I gather, the intention is start shooting next summer.

What would you like to see happen in any of the sequels?

I think these guys are clever enough to do at least two more and have the final one do a really hard dovetail into the beginning of [the storylines] for the original [“Star Trek”] series. My expectations are very high for them. The only thing I’d like to see, from a personal standpoint, is the mentor relationship between Kirk and Pike to continue.

I like the idea of the movies dovetailing into the beginning of the original Star Trek series but there is a problem. Abrams changed the time line in ways which prevent this from being entirely possible. I generally loved the movie and don’t want to sound like the hard core Trekkies who object to the film but I do think that the major changes made by Abrams were both unnecessary and counterproductive in the long run.

For those who aren’t up on the specifics of the original series, the show was written to begin with the Enterprise already having a history. The Enterprise was first seen at some point during a five year mission. At the start of the series Captain Kirk has already been captain for an unspecified period of time. The Enterprise had two previous captains, Robert April and Christopher Pike. The original series was canceled before the conclusion of the original five year mission, and the movies take place at a later point in time.

Abrams could have limited conflicting with Star Trek canon by placing his movies before the episodes of the original series. As the actors aged he could have also done stories later in the five year mission. It is now impossible to have the Abrams movies dovetail completely into the original series as the changes in the time line now make many of the stories impossible. We cannot have any of the episodes involving Vulcan such as Amok Time. Nor could we have the episode featuring Spock’s mother, Journey to  Babal. The two part episode, The Menagerie, would also not be possible as it dealt with flashbacks to the time when Christopher Pike was captain (actually using footage from the original pilot, The Cage, which NBC rejected as too cerebral). Balance of Terror would no longer be the same as a major aspect of the show involved Star Fleet not knowing that Romulans appeared similar to Vulcans.

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Summer Glau, shown above in a picture from Vanity Fair, is now available following the cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. As Glau previously appeared in Joss Whedon’s series Firefly there has been speculation that she will wind up with a role on Whedon’s current series, Dollhouse. Ausiello writes:

The noise you’re about to hear is the sound of the Whedonverse exploding. Joss confirms to me exclusively that, well, he’s one step ahead of you. “If anybody thinks [bringing Summer onto Dollhouse] hasn’t occurred to me already then they have not met me,” he says. “I mentioned it to her before [SCC] was canceled. I was like, ‘You know, we should get you in the ‘house.’ But first we have to come up with something that works.” And casting her as a doll would not work, insists Whedon. “Summer would be perfect to play an active, but she’s done that [type of role] a lot,” he says. “I’d rather see her play someone who talks too much. The most fun I have is when I get somebody who’s good and comfortable at doing something, and then I make them do something else. Summer said to me, ‘I would like to play a normal girl before I die of extreme old age.

SciFi Weekend: Improving Heroes; Torchwood Not Sanitized; True Blood Season Two; Terminator Times Three; And Actresses Doing Their Job

With Pushing Daisies being canceled, Brian Fuller is returning to Heroes. He discussed his ideas on improving the show and gives some information on the arc for the second half of the season in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

AUSIELLO: Where did Heroes go wrong, in your opinion?
BRYAN FULLER:
It became too dense and fell into certain sci-fi trappings. For instance, in the “Villains” arc, when you talk about formulas and catalysts, it takes the face off the drama. And I think the goal for everybody is to put a face back on the drama. You have to save something with a face; otherwise you don’t understand what you’re caring about. I thought the “Villains” arc started out very interestingly, and then became sort of muddy and dense and I couldn’t get my hooks into the characters to understand their motivations. I also started to feel confused about what people’s abilities were. One of the great things about the first season is that the metaphor for their abilities was very clear. Those metaphors seem to have gotten complicated in the past two seasons. I share that concern with everybody on the writing staff. It’s not like I’m coming in and saying, “This is what you need to do to fix it!” Everybody knows what needs to be fixed and everybody is sort of rowing in that direction.

Your work starts with episode 19, yes?
Yes. I’m fortunate to be coming into a very exciting story line. [Former co-exec producers] Jeph [Loeb] and Jesse [Alexander], before they left the show, set so many great events in motion with the “Fugitives” arc [kicking off Feb. 2]. It really is a fresh start. All of the characters are back in their real lives. You see Peter as a paramedic. Claire is looking for colleges. We get away from the world of formulas and quasi-magic.

Are the “Fugitives” episodes leading up to 19 solid?
Yes. Episodes 14, 15 and 16 are amazing. The whole “Fugitives” arc starts out very strongly, and then it gets a little dense in the middle in terms of the mythology. So I came in right at the point where everybody was realizing, “Oh, we’re getting too dense here and we need to put faces on stories because there is no face to a formula; there is no face to saving the world.” So it’s turning this big ship back into a character stream, and everyone on the writing staff shares that desire. We need to get back into a character place, because that’s where this story started: Very clean, superhero metaphors to everyday life. That’s the path that we’re taking. But it is a big ship so it’s going to take a little while to turn it.

Any plans to trim the sprawling cast?
People will die. And some will return. Matt’s wife [Janice] comes back. We’ll find out what happens when you have a superbaby. We’re also going to tell fewer stories per episode. We’re going to limit it to three or four with one big one that you can wrap the stories around. We’re altering the structure of the show so that there’s a very clear A story that takes up a larger percentage of the show so that that story gets traction.

Are you looking at Season 4 as a complete reboot of the series?
It’s not necessarily a reboot as much as it is going back to the basic spirit of the show and pulling people back in. I don’t think the issues with the show have been about the serialization as much as about the density of the stories that have been serialized.

The second season of Torchwood seemed a little tamer than the first, and there were fears that having this season’s Torchwood miniseries on BBC 1 would result in it being toned down even more. SyFy Portal reassures us that this is not the case:

“We certainly haven’t neutered or sanitized it in any way,” Lyn told the official Torchwood magazine. “We want appeal to a bigger audience than ever, but it’s not been turned into a Children’s BBC show to achieve that. The key thing for Season 3 is that, no matter how dark it gets, we still want to keep the warmth ‘Doctor Who’ has in abundance.”

The third season, otherwise known as “Children of the Earth,” will run over five nights and collectively will tell an epic tale that will test the Torchwood team like never before.

“‘Torchwood: Children Of Earth’ is about how human beings behave when they’re faced with an unstoppable force, something so much bigger than they are,” Lyn explained. “Some of them turn out to be heroes, and some of them turn out to be shits. I think that describes at least one of the dominant themes of these episodes.

“Also, the love story between Captain Jack and Ianto continues to unfold, as does the story of married life for Gwen and Rhys, as Rhys’ character comes into play a lot more, and he becomes almost the fourth member of the team, largely by accident. It’s hard to have perspective on it when you’re right in the middle of filming, so I think I’ll just say it’s going to be brilliant.”

24 returns with a four hour season premier over two nights starting on January 11. Of course the best way to watch 24 is on DVD, catching several hours in a row in real time. Getting the first four hours quickly will give a bit of this experience. While the show now takes place in Washington, D.C. and CTU is gone, there will be some familiar faces, such as Chloe returning to help Jack hack into some computers.  Spoiler TV has pictures showing the return of Elisha Cuthbert, along with a brief teaser of the premier.

The Live Feed has picked up some information on the second season of True Blood:

Jason goes into the Fellowship of the Sun church in a big way and is surprised by what he finds there. There’s a new creature in town that is unlike any other. Nobody knows what this creature is, I’m not sure if it will be entirely explained in the show — it’s not a werewolf. There are new romances for Tara, Jason and Sara. Bill and Sookie have a lot of issues to sort out — including having made a new teenage vampire that’s living in their house. Bill and Sookie also go to Dallas to find one of their own who has gone missing.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles continues to take advantage of the time travel aspects of its premise. We are accustomed to shows such as Lost in which episodes show events taking place at two different points in time. This week’s episode of Sarah Connor, Alpine Fields, takes this further in having the episode involve three different times. In the present Derek assists with the birth of a child. Interspersed is one story from six months earlier showing Sarah save the family from a Terminator. A third story line shows why the birth is important. We find that the child grows up to have a rare immunity to a plague which Skynet attempts to use to kill the remaining humans, allowing a cure to be developed. In many ways the story of the saving of this child is a close parallel to the entire Jon Connor story.

I wonder if this is all a way for Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) to obtain a ton of publicity without having to do (or remove) a thing. Her interview with the Times of London received tons of links due to this exchange:

She still loves acting, naturally — she would even, steady chaps, go nude. “Yes,” she says. “For Bernardo Bertolucci. It . . . depends. I’m not getting my kit off any time soon, but it is part of my job.”

I imagine that appearing nude on the cover of the January GQ is also part of Jennifer Aniston’s job.

Now on to catching up to tonight’s shows on my DVR. It is the season finale of both Dexter and Californication. Fortunately only the star of one of these shows suffers from the psychological flaw of its main character in real life.

SciFi Friday: Doctor Who and Its Spin Offs

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This week’s installment of SciFi Friday will deal with Doctor Who and some of its spin offs. First let’s get everyone up to date. The video above contains the entire history of Doctor Who in under eight minutes from the first episode in 1963 through this season’s two-part finale, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End, and even covers the spin offs.

Tardis and Torchwood Treasures reports that David Tennant has bee named the planet’s greenest star:

David Tennant has been named the Planet’s greenest star in this year’s Playing for the Planet Awards. The poll was carried out by Playhouse Disney and David was nominated for the award as he drives a hybrid car. Peter Duncan, awards judge and ambassador, said this about David winning the award:

“I am delighted that David Tennant has won the Greenest Star award – he’s a great role model for kids everywhere and clearly is as passionate at saving the planet as his character ‘The Doctor’.

Torchwood will be returning as a radio play on September 10. Here is a description of the planned show:

“Somewhere out there in that chaos of darkness and light, of science and protons, of gods and stars and death… somewhere there’s an answer.”

The Torchwood Institute was founded by Queen Victoria in 1879 to protect the British Empire against the threat of alien invasion. By 2008, all that remains of the organisation is a small team based in Cardiff. And now, following the tragic deaths of two of their colleagues, the remaining three – Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones – have to protect the human race against another unknown force from the darkness.

Martha Jones, ex-time traveller and now working as a doctor for a UN task force, has been called to CERN – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva – where they’re about to activate the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The LHC is a particle accelerator which has been built deep underground in a 27km tunnel under Switzerland and France. Once activated, the collider will fire beams of protons together, recreating conditions a billionth of a second after the Big Bang – and potentially allowing the human race a greater insight into what the Universe is made of.

But so much could go wrong – it could open a gateway to a parallel dimension, or create a black hole – and now voices from the past are calling out to people and scientists have started to disappear…

Where have the missing scientists gone? What is the secret of the glowing man? What is lurking in the underground tunnel? And do the dead ever really stay dead?

Torchwood is a spin-off from the award-winning BBC Wales TV production Torchwood. Written by Joseph Lidster, it stars John Barrowman, Freema Agyeman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Lucy Montgomery (of Tittybangbang) and Stephen Critchlow.

The television show will be limited to a five-part miniseries next season entitled Torchwood: Children of Earth, but it has been promoted to BBC-1. Hopefully this will give the show greater exposure and perhaps it will be shown for longer periods in future years.  While BBC-1 might not allow some of the material from earlier seasons on BBC-2 and BBC-3, fortunately it will air after 9:00 p.m. where some naughtiness is still allowed.  The miniseries is rumored to be about the sleeper aliens from the second season.

The final story technically isn’t about a Doctor Who spin off but there is a close connection. Coupling, which I’ve previously posted about here and here, was written by Steven Moffat who will be taking over as producer of Doctor Who in 2010. Moffat had a couple brief references to Doctor Who and Daleks in the first three seasons. In the fourth season Jeff was replaced by a new character named Oliver. In order to demonstrate his geekiness, he was made the owner of a science fiction book store, and in one scene he was seen with a full sized Dalek.

I completed watching the series this morning and then attempted to read a post at a Doctor Who forum mentioned in the shows Wikipedia entry in which Steven Moffat answers a fan’s request for closure by giving a run down of what will happen to the characters. The link given is to a forum which is now closed to new registration and therefore is no longer visible to many people. I finally tracked it down at a newer version of the forum and even found there were some fights at Wikipedia over the post’s inclusion.

As Steven Moffat’s post on the fates of his characters is not  easily available I will post it below. It does reference events in episodes of the show which will not mean anything to those who have not seen it. It also contains spoilers which those who plan to watch the show should avoid until they have seen the complete series. Beware the first line contains a major spoiler.

Sally said yes to Patrick, they got married and are very happy. Especially as Sally beat Susan to the altar, and finally did something first. Patrick is now a completely devoted husband, who lives in total denial that he was anything other an upstanding member of the community. Or possibly he’s actually forgotten. He doesn’t like remembering things because it’s a bit like thinking.

Jane and Oliver never actually did have sex, but they did become very good friends. They often rejoice together that their friendship is uncomplicated by any kind of sexual attraction – but they both get murderously jealous when the other is dating. Jane has a job at Oliver’s science fiction book shop now – and since Oliver has that one moment of Naked Jane burnt on the inside of his eyelids, he now loses the place in one in every three sentences. People who know them well think something’s gotta give – and they’re right. Especially as Jane comes to work in a metal bikini.

Steve and Susan have two children now, and have recently completed work on a sitcom about their early lives together. They’re developing a new television project, but it keeps getting delayed as he insists on writing episodes of some old kids show they recently pulled out of mothballs. She gets very cross about this, and if he says “Yeah but check out the season poll!” one more time, he will not live to write another word.

Jeff is still abroad. He lives a life a complete peace and serenity now, having taken the precaution of not learning a word of the local langauge and therefore protecting himself from the consequences of his own special brand of communication. If any English speakers turn up, he pretends he only speaks Hebrew. He is, at this very moment, staring out to sea, and sighing happily every thirty-eight seconds.

What he doesn’t know, of course, is that even now a beautiful Israeli girl he once met in a bar, is heading towards his apartment, having been directed to the only Hebrew speaker on the island. What he also doesn’t know is that she is being driven by a young ex-pat English woman, who is still grieving the loss of a charming, one-legged Welshman she once met on a train. And he cannot possible suspect that (owing to a laundry mix-up, and a stag party the previous night in the same block) he is wearing heat-dissolving trunks.

As the doorbell rings, it is best that we draw a veil.