SciFi Weekend: Ascension; Person of Interest; Daredevil; Orphan Black; Hannibal; Fargo; Doctor Who Easter Eggs On Gracepoint; The Newsroom; The Fall; The Interview

Tricia-Helfer-in-Ascension

Ascension was billed as  Syfy’s big attempt to return to outer space based, hard science fiction, including the return of Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica. It didn’t exactly do that, but despite some flaws it was mostly a success. Major spoilers here if you plan to watch this at a later date.

The show was billed as sort of Mad Men in space with the advertised premise being of a multi-generational ship sent from earth in the 1960’s. It would have been a lifeboat for the human race during the height of the cold war. The show took place in current time, half way through the ship’s one hundred year journey, with the mission complicated by their first murder. This allowed them to show a culture which did not move beyond the 1960’s, complete with a beach and stewardesses to provide sexual favors for the upper class. It was never clear why such a class difference developed in such a short period of time, but if did make it feel more like the true 1960’s.

During the first episode there were scenes on earth which did suggest that things were not as they seemed, but the big reveal wasn’t until the end of the first two hours. They never left earth with those on board being part of a huge experiment, unaware that they were still on earth and under constant observation. Nobody on board thought it was odd that they never had any jobs to perform outside of the ship.

If this reveal wasn’t until the end of the series it would feel like a cheap cop out, but coming relatively early it did work to provide additional drama for the remaining four hours. I did actually like this development because it was far more plausible than the billed premise. If a science fiction show is set in our future, I don’t mind if they invent technology which is well beyond us such as artificial gravity. However, as the show claimed to have developed this space ship fifty years in our past, I didn’t find it credible for them to have technology which we do not currently have. I could accept them fooling people on board to accept this when they were actually under earth’s gravity.

This twist also allowed for the earth-bound drama to be as significant as the drama on board Ascension, including the well-developed schemes to not only keep this secret but to control those who suspected the plot, or who knew and wanted to take action. While I did like the twist leading to Samantha’s betrayal, I also would have liked to see them succeed in going full Snowden.

I do have mixed feelings about the ending’s almost paranormal nature. However once they did establish that this was an elaborate trick, they did need a big reason for doing it. An experiment as to how people would react to being on a multi-generational space mission would not justify this, but the eugenics experiments which resulted in the creation of someone with Christa’s powers would provide a more plausible reason. Once we saw Christa teleport Gault to an alien world it all made sense. The ability to transport across the galaxy immediately would provide a far better lifeboat for humanity than to send people out on a one hundred year perilous mission in space, in which those who start out would never see the end of the trip. Unfortunately this all ended much too abruptly, and Ascension works better as the first six hours of a series than a self-contained mini-series. I bet that the plan was never to end the story here and those who believed this was a six-hour miniseries were being fooled, just like the crew of Ascension.

The Cold War

The last episode of Person of Interest was far heavier into the show’s mythology. Zap2it discussed Person of Interest, and the trilogy which began before the midseason hiatus, with Amy Acker. Here are some questions from the beginning and end–check out the full post for the rest of the questions:

Zap2it: I don’t know if you feel the same way, but I have been waiting for Samaritan and the Machine to face off all season.
Amy Acker: It was funny because when we got that script everyone was kind of like, “Wait, this is happening now?” It did feel like that’s what this season was about, that Samaritan and the Machine are going to meet. I think that’s what the writers and Jonah [Nolan] and Greg [Plageman] really continuously do with this show is they bring up these things that would be a great season finale and they put them in the middle of the year. It really makes the whole second half of the season go in a different direction. I thought it was kind of cool that they did that when they did.

That scene was so great, and Oakes Fegley, who played the little boy Gabriel that Samaritan speaks through, was amazing.
Isn’t he so good? I have a 9-year-old, almost 10, that’s like the exact same age as him. I just kept looking at him going, “My son would never memorize some of those lines and then be able to deliver it.” [ laughs] He was very impressive. He was so smart and great, and he was excited about doing the scene and had ideas. The director [Michael Offer] was great with him too. He’s just really a special kid, and he was fantastic — and super creepy — as Samaritan.

There’s a little bit of a break until “Person of Interest” returns, so what can you offer as a tease for the next part in this three-part arc?
This is the second part of this trilogy of episodes which we’ve seen the beginning of. I would say this is the most dangerous of the three episodes. It’s a really unique episode. There’s not been a “Person of Interest” like this. When we all got the episode we were like “this is really cool,” and it was a really, really hard shoot. But as they’ve been putting it together, people have been saying this is their favorite episode that we’ve had. I’m excited to see it all together because it was kind of hard as we were shooting it to imagine how it was going to turn out.

The promo for the next episode makes it look like a lot of characters are in life-or-death situations. The last time “Person of Interest” had a big three-parter Carter died, so can we expect a similar game-changer this year?
Well everyone’s definitely in danger in this episode. With the beginning of the new year and the second half of the season, I think it’s going to really affect everything that happens from this point forward.

“Person of Interest” Season 4 returns on Jan. 6 with “If-Then-Else” on CBS. The synopsis reads: “Samaritan launches a cyber-attack on the stock exchange, leaving the team with no choice but to embark on a possible suicide mission in a desperate attempt to stop a global economic catastrophe.”

DAREDEVIL-NETFLIX

Marvel told Entertainment Weekly that the upcoming Daredevil series will be more about crime fighting than superheroes:

Forget Ben Affleck. Netflix’s Daredevil is ”the exact opposite” of Affleck’s much-maligned 2003 bomb, promises showrunner Steven S. DeKnight. Expect the classic origin story to remain unchanged: Blinded as a child, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a lawyer by day who hunts criminals by night (he apparently doesn’t get much sleep). But this new iteration of Daredevil is more influenced by 1970s mean-street films like The French Connection and Taxi Driver than traditional superhero titles. ”There aren’t going to be people flying through the sky; there are no magic hammers,” says Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb. ”We’ve always approached this as a crime drama first, superhero show second.” There’s also more grown-up content here. ”It’s a little grittier and edgier than Marvel has gone before,” says DeKnight, ”but we’re not looking to push it to extreme violence or gratuitous nudity.” The ‘devil will eventually get his iconic red costume, but first he’ll wear black duds inspired by Frank Miller’s comic Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.

The above trailer for season three of Orphan Black, which returns on April 18, indicates that there will be war. I wonder to what degree it might be between the male and female clones or, probably more likely, between some clones and the groups which try to control them.

 TVOverMind has a round table discussion on season three of Arrow.

Michael Pitt is leaving Hannibal and Joe Anderson will replace him in the role of Mason Verger.

Fargo Season 2

Entertainment Weekly has more information on season two of Fargo:

Fargo is going back in time to 1979 for season two, and EW has a first-look at a page from the season premiere script.

Expect another snow-swept rural crime drama loosely inspired by the Coen brothers’ film, only this time the action is set in Luverne, Minnesota, where humble married couple Peggy and Ed Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons) find themselves caught in an escalating war between a local crime gang and a major Mob syndicate. (A character in season one cryptically described the 1979 case as “savagery, pure and simple,” with a massive pileup of bodies.)

“The scope of the story- telling this season is a lot bigger, it has more of an epic feel to it,” says showrunner Noah Hawley, who adds that the earlier time period and even more rural setting gives the show an almost Western-like quality. “It’s not the ’70s in a Boogie Nights kind of way,” he assures.

Gracepoint Easter Eggs

Gracepoint took advantage of staring David Tennant by including a few Doctor Who Easter eggs. Look at who the messages were from which were left on David Tenant’s desk–D. Noble, Martha Jones, and R. Tyler.

Keifer Sutherland told The Telegraph that he doesn’t see going back to do another season of 24. Obviously this is not the equivalent of a Sherman statement.

The Newsroom ended last week with a mixed series finale. The episode largely contained flashbacks inspired by Charlie’s funeral but the plot did also advance in scenes between flashbacks. Unfortunately much of the plot advancement from this short season came from random events. Previously the storyline with Will in jail for refusing to reveal the identity of a source ended too easily when the source committed suicide. The finale too easily resolved the conflict from the changes made by then owner when scandals, which came out of nowhere, led to MacKenzie being named the new president of ACN. Despite these faults, Sorkin left me wanting to see another season with MacKenzie as ACN president, and even with Jim and Maggie trying to make a long distance relationship work.

The Fall completed its second season with a mixed ending which, like Ascension, ended too abruptly. It did not work completely because of relying on minor characters who have not been seen in recent episodes.  The show would probably work better for those binging on both seasons at once, as opposed to watching the second season over a year later when some key events have been forgotten by most viewers. There is hope of them redeeming themselves as there is talk of a third season. It is not known if Paul Specter survived and whether Jamie Dornan will be returning, but Gillian Anderson has expressed interest.

The top show business story of the week, greatly transcending show business, was North Korea’s hacking of Sony and intimidation resulting in Sony deciding against the release of The Interview. On the one hand, the problems faced by Sony in releasing the movie under the threat of terrorist attacks are obvious, but we hate to such such intimidation succeed. Today on CNN’s  State of the Union, President Obama called this an act of cybervandalism (video above):

President Barack Obama says he doesn’t consider North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures “an act of war.”

“It was an act of cybervandalism,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley that aired Sunday “State of the Union.”

But he stuck by his criticism of Sony’s decision to cancel its plans to release the movie “The Interview,” which includes a cartoonish depiction of the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after the country threatened attacks against theaters that showed it.

Obama said in a Friday news conference that Sony made “a mistake,” and that he wished the company had called him first. That led Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton to tell CNN that Obama and the public “are mistaken as to what actually happened.” He blamed movie theater companies that opted not to show the film, saying they forced Sony’s hand.

Obama shot back, saying: “I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have business considerations that they got to make. Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.”

The President told Crowley that his problem wasn’t with Sony specifically, but with the precedent the company’s decision set.

Ideally the movie will be released in some way to ensure that North Korea is not successful in preventing the release of a movie they dislike. Many solutions have been discussed. There are now reports that Sony might release it for free on Crackle. Such a free release, along with all the publicity this has received, would probably lead to The Interview being seen by far more people than it would with a conventional theatrical release.

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SciFi Weekend: The Flash; Arrow; Gotham; Sleepy Hollow; Agents of SHIELD; Person of Interest; Doctor Who; Selfie; 12 Monkeys; Renewed Shows; Utopia; Gracechurch; Red States & Pornography

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 The Flash was off to an excellent start last week. It looks like it will be a lighter version of Arrow but has started to set up an interesting back story. There’s the death of Barry’s mother in the past and the episode ended with a look into the future which raises the question if they plan their own version of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. We don’t know for certain that the future will play out as suggested:

“Time travel is going to play a big part in the overall series, but one of the things that we will discover is that time is mutable,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “As the good Doctor says, time can be rewritten, so not everything you see on the show is necessarily what’s going to come to pass and not necessarily everything that’s happened is fixed.” In other words, that newspaper’s headline could change.

Presumably their version will not include the death of Barry Allen. The final scene also revealed that Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) can walk, contrary to what was previously suggested. Is his name supposed to bring H.G. Wells and time travel to mind? With Tom Cavanagh’s character able to walk, this also leaves open the possibility of returning to his bowling alley (Ed).

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Returning genre shows such as Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of SHIELD, and Person of Interest have all returned to strong starts. Arrow returned with a very brief romance between Oliver and Felicity along with  (major spoiler ahead)  an unexpected death, which I bet will ultimately lead to Laurel taking over as Black Canary. Thanks to flashbacks, this won’t be the last we see of Sara. The episode also introduced Ray Palmer, who has now taken control of Queen Consolidated. While Gotham has premiered, Arrow remains by far the best television adaption of Batman ever aired.

While still early, Gotham does look  promising. It essentially feels like a comic book world without the superhero. Jim Gordon serves as the superhero, even if lacking either superpowers of the special abilities of characters such as Batman or Green Arrow. In a city where virtually everyone else appears corrupt, just fighting for justice and being the rare good guy is enough. Hopefully the can continue to work in a storyline with young Bruce Wayne without it appearing too contrived.

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What makes Sleepy Hollow so much fun is how theye can have both a conspiracy linking Judas, Benedict Arnold, and events in the current episode, mixed with such humorous scenes as last week with Ichabod learning about how our banks work and getting confused about men wearing hats indoors (but not gays).

Ichabod : Is that considered acceptable now?
Abbie : Oh, lots of attitudes have changed since your days, not everyone’s but supreme court has upheld the constitutional right of same sex couples, and more and more states are even legalizing gay marriage
Ichabod : I meant gentleman wearing hats indoors, I know about homosexuals thank you, I trained under Baron von Steuben. His affections for his own sex were well known. Also, I watches the finale of Glee.

Even when in the midst of the big conspiracy they still don’t take things too seriously, such as with Nick Hawley not getting too worried about the apocalypse they were trying to prevent. After all, every civilization has their own apocalypse story.

Last week had another strong episode of Agents of SHIELD with a new role for Simmons. They are making far better use of both Fitz and Simmons than last year. Presumably the real Simmons, as opposed to the one in Fitz’s head, will appear intermittently while undercover at HYDRA. It would probably appear too contrived if they run into her every episode.

Person of Interest is also off to a great start after a semi-reboot, placing the major characters in new situations. I am hoping they do more with the big issues of surveillance and artificial intelligence as the season progresses, rather than number of the week shows.  There is the danger that the reboot won’t matter as they have quickly made things similar to before with the establishment of a means to communicate, a new base, and a new source of money.

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Steven Moffat had a line in The Big Bang with a call about an escaped Egyptian goddess on the Orient Express in space. With the substitution of a mummy for the Egyptian goddess, this premise turned into this week’s episode of Doctor Who, Mummy On The Orient Express. Perhaps some of the plot holes and unanswered questions from Moffat’s stories will ultimately be answered if we wait long enough.

We don’t know who Gus, who masterminded the situation, really is, but perhaps this will be answered at a later date. I also wonder if there is more to Perkins, and if he will be seen again. I am also curious as to whether this episode was planned at the time of The Big Bang. I suspect that it might have just been an idea in Moffat’s mind, which he later altered because he could not resist the line, “Are you my Mummy?”

The episode also included themes from previous episodes, including jelly bellies and the Doctor talking to his previous regenerations. In keeping with themes from this season, the mummy was a soldier. There was progression in the Capaldi Doctor’s attitude. He still had no qualms about watching people he considered to already be doomed die in order to gain information, (“Old ladies die all the time.It’s practically in their job description.”). However, he also substituted himself for a potential victim. In the end, he used the TARDIS to save everyone.

The Clara storyline was handled in a strange manner. Last week it looked like she was done with the Doctor, leading to speculation that this might have been done to set up a solo adventure. Instead Clara was present, yet they teased that this might be their last trip together. If Clara was planning to leave the Doctor, why did she go with him on the Orient Express? After so much teasing that she would no longer travel with the Doctor, she changed her mind quite quickly at the end. I also continue to wonder what type of cell service the Doctor and his companions have which allows them to communicate not only with each other regardless of where they are, but back with earth in the present. Personally I can lose cell service if I wander too far from the cell extender I found necessary to purchase to set up a cellular hot spot in my own house.

The Doctor Who Extra is below:

I had mixed opinions from the pilot of Selfie but obviously I was going to give any show staring Karen Gillian and John Cho a second chance. I’m glad I did as the second episode was much better. Pilots can be a poor way to judge a series as the pilot has the burden of setting up the situations. In addition, changes for the better are sometimes made in shows between the time a pilot is shot and the show goes into regular production.

While there are some excellent genre shows in the fall, summer was weaker on broadcast television. CBS has shown a commitment to mediocre summer science fiction, renewing both Under the Dome and Extant.

Still no word from Showcase regarding Continuum.

ABC has given a full season pick up to two of their better new shows of the season, How to Get Away With Murder and Blackish.

12Monkeys

IO9 reports that Syfy’s television version of 12 Monkeys, which begins in January, will be different from the movie, taking the aspects they like and changing others, like their previous reboot of Battlestar Galactica. It sounds like it might be an intelligent time travel series based upon their review of the pilot:

What the pilot really proved was that this is a show not afraid of the complications of time travel. It does not slow down and explain to the audience its fractured timeline, save for a few title cards in the beginning. Ivanek gives a speech at the end of the episode that wholly relies on the audience being quicker on the uptake about time travel tropes than the characters.

The pilot also builds in a lot of space in the characters’ backstories to fill in later. And you actually want to know about them. you want to know how Stanford got to be in a position where he was picked for his mission. You wonder endlessly about how Railly can get from where we meet her to where she ends up. There’s more than enough to carry more episodes.

An old CBS science fiction series us returning. Legendary TV is working on a rebooted series of Lost in Space. Hopefully they can improve upon the original with the reboot as Battlestar Galactica did.

Utopia Jessica Hyde

Channel 4 has canceled Utopia after its second season, which was one of the better genre shows over the past summer. HBO is planning a remake with David Fincher directing. He is again working with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), who has written the scripts for the new series. While I often question making US remakes of recently aired British shows, such as with Broadchurch,I am curious to see Flynn’s take on this story.

As a consequence of lacking the time for all the genre and quality television shows now on (a welcome problem and change from the past), I have not watched Gracepoint, having already seen Broadchurch. For the benefit of others in this situation who are debating whether to watch, I have found that most reviewers are saying that the early episodes of Gracepoint are very similar to Broadchurch, and where they differed Broadchurch did it much better. Both version star David Tennant. Reviewers are also saying Gracepoint begins to diverge from Broadchurch in the seventh episode. The producers have teased that the ending might be different, so at this point the reviewers I have read (who have not seen beyond this point) do not know how significant the difference from the seventh episode will be.

And, finally, yet another study shows that people in red states are more likely to search for porn:

A new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, produced by researchers from Canadian Universities, found American states that identify as more religious and conservative are also more apt to search for sex online. Of course, the study makes a point of separating the religiously conservative from the politically conservative. The latter is more likely to look for sex specific terms, such as “gay sex, free porn and xxx,” whereas those that consider themselves religious were looking for generalized sex terms that could’ve theoretically fallen under the “health and wellness” category.

In heavily religious states, abstinence is often pushed as the only safe sex, with very little to offer in the way of sexual education. Unfortunately, that leaves a growing number of people with questions about sex but no answers. Enter Google: the best way to find an answer to personal, possibly embarrassing questions without calling attention to yourself. So of course the study finds that religious communities have a higher percentage of sex-related searches. That’s what happens when you can’t find it elsewhere.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sleepy Hollow; Outlander; Agents of SHIELD; Gracepoint; Blacklist; Arrow; Supergirl; The DC Cinematic Universe; Revenge; How I Met Your Mother Alternate Ending

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Doctor Who‘s third episode of the Capaldi era, Robot of Sherwood, was the lightest of the season. The episode, written by Mark Gatiss, almost seemed to be outside of the continuity of the season, being a story which could be watched at any time and which could easily have happened under Matt Smith or an earlier Doctor. The episode begins with Clara on the TARDIS, showing nothing of her home life, ignoring the recent addition of Danny Pink to the show. There are no scenes of Missy, but there was a brief reference to a space ship searching for the Promised Land.

The episode does have several references to classic Doctor Who. For example, the black and white still of Robin Hood from the TARDIS database is from a 1953 BBC show in which Patrick Troughton played Robin.

Despite the Doctor’s insistence that “I am totally against bantering,” the episode is amusing for its banter between the Doctor, Clara, and Robin Hood, along with its mocking of the traditional tropes of the action/adventure show. This was best seen in the dungeon scene as the Doctor and Robin discussed their plans to escape. They  included the classics: “get interrogated and turn the tables” and “pretend to be sick so the jailer will come in.” Clara excluded one Doctor Who solution which is utilized too often: “Can you explain your plan without using the words ‘sonic screwdriver'”? For once, an enemy took the sonic screwdriver away.

The Doctor had his own unique answer to the hero who fights but carries no weapon: “I don’t need a sword. Because I am the Doctor. And this is my spoon.” There was also a look at the nature of legends and heroism. Instead of being compared to the Daleks in Into the Dalek, this week the Doctor was compared to Robin Hood, even if it took a while for the Doctor to acknowledge Robin’s”reality” within this universe. We knew from the title that robots were involved, but it was not clear until the end as to who would be real and who would be robots.

Above is the Doctor Who Extra for Robot of Sherwood. While I posted the Doctor Who Extra for Into the Dalek with last week’s review, I initially did not post the video for Deep Breath as initially it was available for view within the U.K. only. Doctor Who Extra has since been made available internationally. The video for Deep Breath can be viewed here.

One scene was cut from the broadcast episode involving a decapitation in response to the recent decapitation of two journalists by ISIS. DoctorWhoTV described the cut scene:

In the original version of the final sword fight, the Sheriff gets the upper hand on Robin disarming him and putting his sword to his neck. Robin looks doomed but the Doctor throws a cloth tapestry over the Sheriff blinding him. Robin picks back up his sword and decapitates the Sheriff. His head rolling across the floor.

Clara congratulates Robin on his apparent victory, but the Sheriff’s severed head suddenly starts talking! He reveals that the skyship fell on him and the knights made him half-robot.

Behind Clara the Sheriff’s body gets back up and puts a sword to her throat ordering the Doctor and Robin to surrender. Robin picks up the Sheriff’s head and throws it back to the Sheriff’s headless body. He puts his head back on. And the fight scene resumes as was shown.

In total about a minute of footage was lost and of course the reveal that the Sheriff was a robot.

Next week’s episode, Listen, sounds much darker, despite reportedly containing Clara and Danny’s first date. The episode is being compared to perhaps Steven Moffat’s greatest episode so far, Blink. Trailer above.

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Sleepy Hollow had poor timing with their National Headless Day promotion, and did not manage to get this canceled before seen as Doctor Who did with its beheading scene. For more mundane promotion, here is the official synopsis of the first episode of season two:

Episode 2.01 – This Is War (22-Sep-2014)
In Sleepy Hollow, it would seem as though the status quo has been restored, but things in the formerly quaint town are never truly as they appear. Even now, how Crane managed to escape being betrayed and buried alive by his son, Jeremy (aka Henry Parish, aka the newly minted Horseman of War), or how Abbie freed herself from Purgatory, remains a mystery… even to them. What appears certain however is that while both Katrina and Jenny have apparently been lost, the Two Witnesses have not abandoned their quest to fight tirelessly against Moloch and his minions. Meanwhile, Moloch’s malevolent forces use all the powers at their disposal in an attempt to locate a key – once belonging to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin – which is capable of unlocking the gates of Purgatory. After using his unique skills on an unanticipated prisoner, Sin-Eater Henry Parish discovers a clue which points him in the direction of the valuable artifact, but Crane is intent on finding it first. While in Purgatory, Moloch works to raise a demonic army in preparation for his invasion, but those who would prevent the hoard’s advent get help from an unexpected source. Meanwhile, we learn that Jenny and Katrina are both still alive, though each is being held prisoner for vastly different reasons, and Crane takes the inadvisable action of re-entering Purgatory in order to fulfill a promise.

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Doctor Who is no longer the only time travel show on Saturdays. Even before Outlander began, critics who received the first six episodes were saying the sixth was by far the best. With the cliff hanger last night,next week’s episode, The Garrison Commander does look like it could be a major episode.

Claire was left with a big decision. She could tell the Red Coats that she was willingly with Dougal and stick with the enemy she knows, knowing she does have Jamie to protect her, or risk the unknown of seeing whether the British would really treat her any better. From the previews it looks like she does wind up with the Red Coats, but that doesn’t explain the situation under which this occurs or what her answer is. The episode also had added interest when Claire understood that Dougal’s motives were more noble than she first thought, but that he and his clan were ultimately doomed. She experienced the  frustration of being a time traveler and being unable to do anything about the future.

ABC has released a synopsis for the second season of Agents of SHIELD:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns for a dynamic, action-packed second season, with newly appointed Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – now the keeper of the secrets — charged with rebuilding and restoring government and public trust in S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of the events of “Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” where it was revealed evil Hydra agents had infiltrated the organization. Ever since the existence of super heroes and aliens became public knowledge after the Battle of New York, the world has been trying to come to grips with this new reality. Agent Phil Coulson, who had died at the hands of Loki during the battle, was resuscitated and brought back into action, assembling a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission: to protect those who cannot protect themselves from threats they cannot conceive.

But the biggest threat was growing from within, as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s old enemy, Hydra – a dangerous extremist group Captain America fought against in World War II – had secretly infiltrated and infected the organization at the highest levels. Once revealed to the public, S.H.I.E.L.D., including Coulson and his team, was discredited and made to look like the enemy. The world now views S.H.I.E.L.D. as untrustworthy, and it’s Coulson’s job to change that opinion.

After helping to thwart Hydra, Coulson was appointed as Director and tasked with rebuilding the agency. This won’t be an easy job to accomplish with the majority of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents either killed, secretly working for Hydra or free agents. Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), expert pilot, martial artist and longtime friend, will continue to look after Coulson in the wake of the mysterious etchings he’s been carving into walls. What do these etchings mean, and can Coulson be trusted? Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), highly trained in combat and espionage, was found to be a Hydra mole and a traitor to S.H.I.E.L.D. and locked up away from the world and his former teammates. But this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him… After being left to die in the middle of the ocean by Ward, Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), brilliant engineer, and Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), genius bio-chemist, found a way to escape their watery grave. But all did not go well for Fitz, who was left in a coma and may never regain his full cognitive functions; a devastating blow to Simmons. And computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet), now a full-fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, discovered her origins as a 0-8-4 — an object of unknown origin – and that her parents were considered “monsters.” Could Skye have darkness lying dormant inside of her? Also joining Coulson’s core team is Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), a dashing mercenary sharp shooter with a quick wit. Since he didn’t rise up through the ranks, does he have an ulterior motive for helping out the team?

Who can Coulson trust?

Fox has released a teaser for Gracepoint, staring David Tennant and Anna Gunn. It just feels like Broachchurch where they got things wrong.

There are some spoilers for season two of The Blacklist here.

Arrow has cast Matt Nable in the role of Ra’s Al Ghul. Thea will also have a new love interest.

Supergirl might be the next DC character to get her own television series.

The Nerdist has a look at what is known about the planned DC cinematic universe which follow Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. Future movies include the Justice League of America, Shazam, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. AV Club has more on Shazam on how it will differ from other DC movies.

There’s further talk about a movie version of 24.

Syfy is planning a six part miniseries adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. If done well, this could be one of the network’s greatest features to date.

Revenge tried to drag out the storyline from its first season way too long, and it looks like they are making the right decision in changing the show around. BuddyTV has some spoilers as to what will change next season:

With David Clarke’s name cleared, will Emily’s quest for revenge be over? Conrad was imprisoned and is now presumably dead and the great Victoria Grayson has been left to rot in a mental institution. Plus, Emily’s father is actually alive!

That will be an awkward reunion. Emily went against her father’s wishes and left the sweet Amanda Clarke behind and became a ruthless killer instead. Her life will be turned upside-down with the news.

Executive Producer Gretchen J. Berg teased, “The drive of season four will be Emily discovering who Amanda Clarke is and Emily figuring out her new life with her father in it. I don’t want to say when she’s going to discover that, but that’s going to be our arc for the season.”

In addition to Emily unraveling her true identity, it looks like she’ll have to contend with being the target of someone else’s revenge. The tides have turned!

Victoria does the voice over for the first Revenge Season 4 Trailer, “My name is Victoria Grayson and I have a story to tell. Over the past three years my family was destroyed, the love of my life murdered, my freedom taken away. When everything you love has been stolen from you, someone has to pay. Emily Thorne, I’m coming for you.”

…When we last saw Jack, he was being arrested for Charlotte’s kidnapping. He’ll take the cuffs off and become the one putting them on others when he becomes a cop. Yes, Jack likely will be donning a uniform!

What will happen when Emily and Victoria find out David’s alive? Executive Producer Aaron Harberts told EOnline, “He may not be the most emotionally and psychologically stable and if Victoria is the first person to get to David, she might be in control of that guy, which sort of presents her power running through the season,”

Copies of the promised alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother have been appearing on line but have been taken down. I don’t know how long it will be here, but at the time of posting I have found the above video of the entire final episode, with alternate ending to the finale starting around 37 minutes in. The options are somewhat limited as it can only contain what was already filmed, but it does have new narration from Bob Saget. While the alternate ending therefore could not show any new scenes of Ted and Tracy in the future, it was still a far better ending for the series than the one that aired.

As I discussed in my review of the finale, the ending made sense when first filmed early in the series run, but no longer made sense from where the show ultimately wound up. Viewers had too much invested in Tracy in the final season to just see her quickly die. Having Ted and Robin ultimately get together was the obvious ending during the first season, but it no longer made sense to have Robin and Barney break up for this to occur after spending so much time making this implausible relationship make sense, and spending the entire final season at their wedding.

While we were denied more scenes of Ted and Tracy leading up to the moment when Ted was telling the story to his children, there remains the opportunity to see Cristin Miloti alive, but in a different relationship, on the upcoming sit-com, A to Z. The pilot has been released for early viewing.

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Agent Carter; Under The Dome; True Blood (vs. Sarah Palin); Utopia; Sleepy Hollow; Doctor Who (and flirting); Big Bang Theory;Allison Williams as Peter Pan

Arrow Selfie

This picture of the cast of Arrow might very well be the best selfie to come out of Comic-Con last weekend. The latest news on Arrow is that Charlotte Ross  has been cast as Felicity’s mother. Last week Collider asked Stephen Amel about topics including the Justice League and Oliver’s true love at Comic-Con:

Are you happy you don’t have to answer any more Justice League questions?

Stephen Amell: Yes — and by the way, there’s a The Flash show, we have Firestorm, we have Canary, we have The Atom… The actual Justice League film — I don’t know when that’s coming out. You can watch The Justice League on television now. But the reason I’m happy to not have to answer the question anymore is because I think it undersold what we did on TV. I would put our degree of difficulty – having to produce twenty-two episodes of television every year, spinning off the show, giving people the confidence to green-light other DC properties — up there with producing a two hundred million dollar film. They’re very different things. I never want to feel as though our existence is only going to be justified by being part of the cinematic universe. That has nothing to do with anything. We are stamping out our own spot.

[What is the romantic situation like for Oliver this season?]

Stephen Amell: There’s one lady in Oliver’s life.

Just one?

Stephen Amell: Just one. There’s one woman in Oliver’s life this year.

Is that his sister?

Stephen Amell: No — it’s Felicity.

It just seems he’s got Sarah out there and Laurel…

Stephen Amell: The ship has sailed on those romances. I don’t think we’ll ever see Oliver & Sarah or Oliver & Laurel together again. I mean – they’ll be together but just not ‘together-together’. They’ll be teammates. We discover in the premiere the way that Oliver feels about Felicity. Because of that — if we just introduced random love interests, it would undersell what we do in the premiere.

How aware are you of the direction of the character throughout this season and for future seasons as well?

Stephen Amell: I really do think we are moving to a spot where we will refer to my character as ‘The Green Arrow’. We are moving to a spot where we will continue to embrace the fundamental classic elements of the character. Because we have that license now. We’re 46 episodes in. People like it. They buy into it. But unless this character is evolving — The Hood to Arrow to The Green Arrow — then people are going to lose interest. So I always want there to be a journey for him. And this year’s journey is really interesting.

Does that evolution involve the goatee?

Stephen Amell: No.

There’s more information on Agent Carter in the above interview with Hayley Atwell. The show is being described as being like Fargo or True Detective in being like an eight hour movie, and it sounds like it takes place before the formation of SHIELD. It might also contain one major Marvel villain who is unnamed. Also above is the full Agent Carter panel from Comic-Con.

Under the Locker

After True Blood, Under the Dome has to be the worst show I watch. Among its many faults, anything can happen with no apparent rules. In one recent episode there was reason to have a character get a message from outside to propel the plot so for an unknown reason email briefly went through, and then stopped again. Last week they checked out the locker at the site of the death of a character and found that there was a tunnel coming out of the locker. Does it go deep enough underground to get under the dome?

I’ve also wondered since the start of the show why there is not major activity going on outside the dome to try to both figure out what it is and how to get through it, including an effort to tunnel underneath from outside.

Despite all the implausible things which happen, the show somehow remains interesting to watch. On the other hand, I primarily stick with True Blood because I’ve gone on this long and want to see the ending. I had hoped that with this being the final season they would come up with a better storyline to end the series, but so far they have not done this. I can’t even blame Sarah Palin for her snub of the show in response to attacks such as calling her type of people (even if more monstrous than many of the characters on True Blood) Republic*nts.

Utopia has been the best summer genre show on, but as it has not aired in the United States I will avoid any spoilers. I was concerned by the end of the first season whether they could keep up the quality of the show once they began to reveal the secrets behind the conspiracy. They are pulling this off well in the second season. The first episode was a flash back which fills in may of the details about the conspiracy and how the major characters are interconnected. From there, instead of being a mystery about what is going on, the series has done an excellent job of moving on with the story now that we understand the full setup.

New trailer for season two of Sleepy Hollow above. More videos here.

Doctor Who Entertainment Weekly Capaldi

Back in July, 2012 Doctor Who made news by being the first British television show to make the cover of Entertainment Weekly. The show has returned several more times as it has become a bigger hit in the United States, including this week as we head towards the introduction of a new Doctor.

On August 23, Peter Capaldi will begin his first season starring in Doctor Who when the long-running British science-fiction show returns to BBC America. But it wasn’t so long ago that the Scottish actor and lifelong Who fan was certain he would never get his hands on the controls of the Time Lord’s TARDIS. “I wouldn’t have thought I would be the guy,” Capaldi says. “I wouldn’t have thought it would be me.” Why not? “Because of my age. I would have thought they were automatically heading younger.”

It was a reasonable assumption to make. At 56, Capaldi is roughly the same age as William Hartnell when he originated the role of the two-hearted, monster-battling alien way back in 1963. But since the BBC relaunched Doctor Who in 2005 after a lengthy hiatus, the actors playing the lead role have all been younger than Capaldi—and have gotten younger over time. The first of the new Doctors, Christopher Eccleston, was 41 when he first appeared on the show, while his successor David Tennant was 34. Capaldi’s immediate predecessor Matt Smith was just 26 when he was cast in the role.

But what Capaldi saw as a barrier to him playing the Doctor was actually an asset as far as Doctor Who executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat was concerned. “I did say, ‘No, we probably won’t end up with another quirky young man,’” says Moffat. “I didn’t think there was any space around Matt to have another Doctor of that kind, because he sort of sums up what you could do with that. I very very quickly, very quickly just thought about Peter. There is no right age to be the Doctor.”

Capaldi agrees. “I’m technically too young for the part,” chuckles the actor. “Because he’s over 2,000 years old.”

In contrast to Matt Smith and David Tennant, Peter Capaldi will not be flirting with his companion:

Incoming Doctor Who Peter Capaldi has revealed there will be no flirting with co-star Jenna Coleman in the new series.

The previous Doctor was engaged in a close relationship with his sidekick Clara that even led to a passionate kiss.

But Capaldi, 56, insisted his Time Lord would not be following in Matt Smith’s footsteps by getting intimate with 28-year-old Coleman’s character.

“There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure,” he told the Sunday Times Magazine. “It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with. It’s quite a fun relationship, but no, I did call and say, ‘I want no Papa-Nicole moments’. I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.”

The Papa-Nicole comment relates to a series of 1990s Renault Clio car adverts which hinted at a romance between an older man and a younger woman, before they were revealed to be father and daughter.

Capaldi also had good news for those Doctor Who purists who believe the show’s storylines have become over the top.

“It’s going to be a bit different from what we’ve seen over recent years. A bit more gravity,” he said. “Some situations are more sombre and I think there are more rooted dramatic scenes. Over the past two or three years, which I’ve loved, there has often been a breathless vigour; we still have that attack, but we have another level of drama, another tone. And the scenes are longer.”

Big Bang Theory Cast

There’s optimistic news that the contracts will be settled with the cast of The Big Bang Theory. While filming has been postponed due to the lack of a contract, I don’t think anyone doubts that it is has just been a matter of haggling over exact dollar amounts and this will ultimately be settled, whether or not the stars get the full one million dollars per episode they are demanding. Both sides have have good reason to eventually come to an agreement.

Allison Williams

NBC is following up their live broadcast of The Sound of Music with Peter Pan. Allison Williams of Girls has been cast in the title role. She says she has wanted to play Peter Pan since she was three years old. While she very well might have obtained the role without any help, it might not have hurt to have some major connections with NBC. While excited about the role, Williams wonders, “what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?”

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BBC America Renews Orphan Black

orphan black renewed

BBC America has announced that Orphan Black has been renewed for a third season. Filming begins in September with another ten episode season starting next spring.

Now hopefully Showcase will have a similar announcement in the near future regarding renewal of Continuum.

BBC America has also announced that Broadchurch will be returning for a second season. In addition to David Tennant of Doctor Who reprising his role, Eve Myles of Torchwood will be joining the cast.

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SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Walter White Possibly Still Alive; Eva Green In Controversial Sin City Poster; Lost & The Leftovers; Save Community; Under the Dome; Doctor Who; Karen Gillan; Ann B. Davis Dies

Orphan-Black Rachel Leakey

Most of this week’s episode of Orphan Black, Knowledge Of Causes, And Secret Motion Of Things, seemed like a lighter episode with less actual changes to move the story compared to other recent episode, until the end. Several characters did learn significant things they did not know before.

The episode introduced Marian, played by Michelle Forbes, as someone  high up in Dyad, but without the ambiguity as to whether he is good or evil seen in Leekie’s character. There was also a reunion between Sarah and Allison, with Tatiana Maslany once again having the opportunity to play one clone playing another. This situation was set up by Allison calling in Sarah for help after she made the mistake of trusting Vic with the truth about what happened to Aynsley before discovering he was spying on her for Angie. Sarah wound up filling in for Allison, both giving a speech for family day to the booze hounds and the pill poppers, and then engaging in role playing in which she pretended (not all that well) to be Allison playing Donnie who was speaking with Allison.

The same evening included additional comedy with Sarah and Felix carrying around Vic’s body Weekend at Bernie’s style after Felix spiked his tea with benzodiazepines. Donnie ultimately saw Sarah and Allison together and it became clear that despite being Alison’s monitor he had no idea that they were clones or what Leekie was really up to. Yes, I could believe Donnie is stupid enough to think he was helping a long term social metrics study. Needless to say, he became quite angry when he learned how he was being duped.

Donnie wasn’t the only one to learn the truth. Cosima found out that the stem cells were from Kira and was not happy about this either. She threw Delphine out of the lab saying, “This is my lab, my body. I’m the science.” Kira was the only one to learn something this episode without getting angry. Finding out that stem cells taken from her tooth were somehow significant, she calmly got a piece of string and pulled out another loose tooth.

Rachel found out that the first father to raise her was still alive and that Leekie had set the fire which killed her mother. Marian sided with Rachel, but Rachel did give Leekie a chance to survive on the run, with warnings not to get in his car or to go home. At first it looked like he was safer with Donnie finding him (although I’m not sure how he did it) before Dyad. Donnie happened to be holding a gun and accidentally blew Leekie’s brains out. Apparently keeping Leekie, Rachel, and now Marian around would have left too many at the top.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed John Fawcett about the decision to kill off Leekie:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with some words for the dearly departed Aldous Leekie.
JOHN FAWCETT: We knew Dr. Leekie was going to die in season 2. And we knew that was something that we wanted to work towards and was going to be a big part of the Rachel/Dr. Leekie story and be a big part of why we’ve been telling a lot of this backstory. Ultimately, I think we didn’t really know how we were going to do it. We knew we were going to do it, we just didn’t know how we were going to do it. And [co-creator] Graeme [Manson] early on had this idea that Donnie should kill Dr. Leekie. It’s funny because my initial reaction was “that’s ridiculous.” Then we sort of kind of went at it a bunch of different ways: Who would kill him? How would he die? And ultimately we came back to Donnie. We wanted to do it in a surprising sort of strangely comic fashion, and that was the result.

EW: And to have Donnie be an accidental triggerman is kind of perfect.
FAWCETT: Yeah, we wanted it to be surprising. And you know that Leekie’s life is in danger at the end of the episode. Rachel in a way kind of lets him escape, but there is a very real threat to his life, and Donnie just happens to step in the wrong place at the wrong time. The gun goes off.

EW: Obviously when you kill off a main character, that’s a big deal and you have to walk through the pros and cons of doing that. So why Leekie and why now?
FAWCETT: Well, I think that obviously Dr. Leekie and Matt Frewer are a big part of our show and it is a very big decision to decide to eliminate a character. We don’t want to just make those decisions lightly, and it really has to have a bearing on not just story structure of the season, but really the big picture also. It has to work towards our end goals. So we designed the first part of the season all the way to episode 7 knowing this was going to come to a head and that Leekie was going to die. We used that as building blocks for that character, and by the time the end came for him, he wanted to build a character that we actually had grown to like and maybe couldn’t entirely trust, but were having some sympathies for. And he wasn’t just a kind of a bad guy. He was kind of in a weird way helping. It’s interesting then to kind of kill off someone that actually the audience and the fans are sort of starting to like and care about. I think it was an important element to building that character and using his death to actually mean something at the end of episode 7, and going forward in the next bunch of episodes. Because Dr. Leekie’s death…the fact that he’s gone or missing or presumed dead or whatever — that informs a bunch of story in the coming episodes.

Fawcett made it sound pretty definite that Leekie is dead after we saw “brains on the window.” However this week there was a hint of another character possibly surviving an apparent death. Bryan Cranston suggested that Walter White might still be alive. He pointed out, “You never saw a bag zip up or anything.” Theoretically they could have him return on Better Call Saul, which sounds like primarily a prequel series but which might jump around in time. They better have a really good storyline to justify saying Walter White is still alive as otherwise his death in the series finale of Breaking Bad would be the best way to end his story.

Eva Green Sin City

The Motion Pictures Association of America is unhappy about this poster for the Sin City sequel, feeling it reveals too much of Eva Green.

The New York Times Magazine looked at Damon Lindelof, discussing both Lost and his new show,The Leftovers. His upcoming show is based upon the Tom Perotta novel:

The conceit of “The Leftovers” is also a kind of trick: 2 percent of the earth’s population disappears one day with no explanation. There appears to be no common denominator to the people who go missing. Condoleezza Rice is gone. The pope is gone. So is Gary Busey. It may be the Christian Rapture — when believers ascend to heaven — or it may not. The story begins on the third anniversary of what has become known as the Sudden Departure, and focuses on characters living in a world that is trying to figure out how to move on.

It’s a compelling but tricky premise for a TV show, because the show’s central mystery may (or may not) be teased out indefinitely. Perrotta’s novel wrapped up its story after 355 pages, but a successful HBO series has to sustain several seasons of intrigue. And because it is Lindelof’s first TV project since he was a creator of “Lost,” the ABC show that famously drew out several mysteries for many seasons — only to end with resolutions that many people found, to put it mildly, unsatisfying — this may be a good time to remember how comfortable Lindelof is with the whole idea of mystery. The short answer: very, despite everything.

Save Community

The most disappointing cancellation from last season was for Community. Now Deadline gives hope that Hulu might keep the series alive.

There is a glimmer of hope that there could be a sixth season of cult comedy series Community. I have learned that Hulu is in talks with Community producer Sony Pictures TV for more original installments of the show, which was cancelled by NBC earlier this month. Sources stress that conversations are preliminary and it is unclear whether they would lead to a deal, but I hear there is will on both sides. That includes Community creator Dan Harmon, who confessed on his blog that he had warmed up to the possibility of continuing the show elsewhere, changing his stance from “eh” when Sony TV called him with the news of the series’ cancellation by NBC to “sure, let’s talk” two days later. Said Harmon, “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels cancelled Community.”

My review of last week’s episode of Mad Men, the last until next year, was posted here.

under-the-dome-image

Collider discussed the second season of Under the Dome with Neal Baer:

Question:  What can you say about what viewers can expect from Season 2?

NEAL BAER:  We are really excited about Season 2.  It is the season of transformation.  Last season was the season of secrets being revealed.  Our characters were trapped under this impenetrable Dome, where no one could get in and no one could get out.  And because they were trapped in this hot house, their secrets started to come out.  This is the season where we will find out what they are truly made of.  One of our characters met a very untimely death, and so will another beloved character.  That doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily see them again, because anything is possible under the Dome.  But, we are very excited to continue our journey with these characters, and we have so many surprises in store, this season.

Are you going to deal with the practical aspects, this season, of how they are getting food, what happens when they run out of toilet paper, and things like that?

BAER:  That’s a huge part of it, and it really puts Julia and Big Jim at huge odds, in Episodes 3 and 4.

What new capabilities does the Dome have?

BAER:  It’s certainly magnetic.  We just love the butterfly metaphor. This is a season that’s almost about impending ecological disaster.  That magnetism has caused many things to happen.  So, you will be seeing, in the early episodes, our characters, and particularly Big Jim, confronting the almost Biblical problems of pestilence and bloody rain.  Our characters haven’t been the stewards that maybe they should be, protecting the land and protecting each other.  They have a lot to learn this year, and I guess the Dome is teaching them.  That’s what Julia keeps talking about.  We have to understand the message that the Dome is trying to give us, and what it is trying to teach us.

How many years do you think this can continue, given the structure of the book? 

BAER:  Well, I’m glad you brought up the book because Stephen King wrote the first episode, so he’s certifying that he is very much involved in this show.  The book is there for those who want to read it, if they haven’t, at this point.  But, we are way past the book.  The book is really only about the first week under the Dome, and we are already two weeks in.  This season, we will be going for two more weeks.  We really go day-by-day under the Dome.  If we lasted 15 years, that would really only be a year under the Dome.  So, I think it’s certainly possible to keep going because we have so many stories to tell. 

We have new characters, as well, who shake things up.  We’ve got Eddie Cahill coming on as San Verdreaux, who is Big Jim’s brother-in-law.  He has been a recluse for the 10 years since his sister died, and was an alcoholic.  We have Karla Crome coming on as Rebecca Pine, who is a school teacher.  We are really getting into the science versus faith elements this season.  Rebecca represents scientific explanations for what’s going on, versus Rachelle’s character, Julia, who is really much more about faith.  And Big Jim is in the middle, trying to figure it out.  We have Grace Victoria Cox, who is the young woman that Julia pulls out of the water.  She is a pivotal character whose connection will be revealed.  And we have Sherry Stringfield, my dear friend who I worked with on ER.  We have a reunion this season because Eric LaSalle will be directing Sherry in Episode 10.  We are excited about that.  So, Stephen writing the episode is really sending us off into a place that he feels really proud of and really loves.  It’s his ideas of how to go beyond the book.  It’s really special for us to have Stephen launch us this season.

Maybe Stephen King can get the show back on track.

Town Called Mercy

BBC and BBC America are running teasers announcing that Doctor Who will be returning in August with a new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. Steven Moffat revealed that the BBC had considered canceling the show after David Tennant left but Russell T. Davies pushed to keep it going, giving us Matt Smith along with Karen Gillan. Not only does Karen Gillan have an upcoming sit-com, Selfie, she will also be staring in a Western, In a Valley of Violence. According to BBC America, “She joins Ethan Hawke, John Travolta and Taissa Farmiga in the story of a drifter (Hawke) turning up in a small town in the 1890s, ready to find and punish the people who murdered his best friend. Karen and Taissa play sisters that run the local hotel.” She has previous western experience in the Doctor Who episode, A Town Called Mercy.

Ann B. Davis, best known for playing Alice on The Brady Bunch, died on Sunday.

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; The Fall; Crisis; Orphan Black; Continuum; History of Science Fiction; HIMYM; Gotham; Agent Carter; SHIELD; The Americans; Under The Skin; Under The Dome

Hannibal-Season-2-Episode3

Hannibal has now become a courtroom drama, with Will Graham on trial for the murders committed by Hannibal. We appear to have another murderer out there, but without Will investigating we never get into the new murderer’s head and do not even know their identity. Is Hannibal also committing these murders in an attempt to free Will and regain him as a (manipulated) friend? Hannibal was forced to admit that there were some differences in how the murderer was operating. Hannibal would know better, unless this was part of a bigger plan.

Another favorite scene in the trial was the return of Freddie. She first seemed to bury Will by saying that Abigail had confided in her that she was afraid Will  might kill and cannibalize her. The defense then asked Freddie how many times she was accused of libel (six) and how many times she settled (six), quickly discrediting her testimony.

Assignment X has an interview with Mads Mikkelsen:

AX: Did you watch any of the earlier incarnations of Hannibal?

MADS MIKKELSEN: I think we all watched that, growing up, right? We were certain from the beginning that we could not detach ourselves from the character. Obviously, he’s a man who loves anything beautiful – beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful wine – so we had to address that, but we had to detach it from what Anthony did. Obviously, it would be creative suicide to go down his path. He was so wonderful, and if you try to copy something like that – but I think any actor would make it his own, regardless of if it’s me or somebody else, but it was a conscious choice that detached us.

AX: Can you say what you’re bringing to Hannibal?

MIKKELSEN: A lot of it is already in Bryan’s scripts. He’s already given life to the character to a certain degree, and then it’s up to me to step into those shoes. As I said before, any actor would color it somehow, and I’m coloring it – I’m trying, to a degree, to make him human. What he does is absolutely not human, but his emotions are true and honest.

AX: You’ve compared Hannibal to Lucifer. Is he becoming more Luciferian or less Luciferian as you go along?

MIKKELSEN: He is Lucifer. He is the fallen angel. The thing about him is that he’s honest – he’s honest with his emotions regarding Will. He’s having a hard time here trying to regain his friendship. That’s uphill, of course. But that’s his main target in this season.

AX: Do you think Hannibal qualifies as a psychopath by regular psychiatrist standards, or is he something else?

MIKKELSEN: I don’t think he is a psychopath. I mean, reading about psychopaths, they normally have a traumatized childhood or something they’re struggling with. He doesn’t have that. He’s as happy as you can get. He’s a happy man. I have rarely given life to a character that is as happy as him, I must say.

AX: What would you say Hannibal’s relationship is like with his erstwhile psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson?

MIKKELSEN: That’s obviously a very unique and kinky relationship that they have, and we will address it a little more in this season. I think she has been a very important partner for him, in a sense that we will see a different side of Hannibal, and he will be quite emotional with her to a degree. Why he’s doing that, we don’t know. And I think that’s just his little space of freedom where he can be what he is.

Gillian Anderson is gone from the series for now, busy with two other series. She has begun filming the second season of The Fall for BBC2, a series well worth watching (and available in the United States on Netflix). Another series, Crisis, begins on NBC tonight with some  initial reviews being very favorable. Entertainment Weekly has more on the show.

Gillian Anderson had a great response to a question posed on Reddit:

Question: My question is assuming your character is made into a gourmet meal by Hannibal what type of food would you want to be made into?

Gillian Anderson: Something so rich that he’d choke on it and die.

EW Orphan Black

Orphan Black has put BBC America on the map (and cover of Entertainment Weekly) with one of the top genre shows of all time.Tatiana Maslany spoke about one of her clones being gay:

Even while Orphan Black received praise for the diversity of its characters, there was some debate online about the decision to have Cosima be gay, because If she has the same genetic code as her clone sisters, does that mean the show is implying that she chose to be gay as opposed to being born that way (since other clones like Sarah and Alison appear to be heterosexual)? Absolutely not, says the woman who plays her. “By no means are we saying that Cosima chooses to be gay,” says Maslany. “It’s by no means that. It’s just that there are so many biological factors into the mother’s womb, into the conditions of the womb. So much of the research I was doing about clones was about identical twins, right? Identical twins would actually be closer in expression than clones because clones are birthed from different wombs. And there’s so much information that gets fed through the mother. I think we’re not saying anything about that in terms of choice and biology or whatever. We’re saying more that everyone could be anything.”

I think we have to give the show some leeway being fiction and not try to use it as actually revealing anything about the genetics of sexual preference. More from the interviews at Screen Rant.

Spoiler TV has information (and video) on a new clone to be introduced in the second season:

A brand new season of Orphan Black means a brand new clone. And we have all the intel on said clone right here! Meet Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a 28-year old teacher and swim coach. And you are about to meet Jennifer the same way Cosima does, through a series of video diaries that Cosima discovers while researching her own respiratory illness.

Amazon has obtained exclusive streaming rights to Orphan Black, along with Hannibal, and the first season is available if you missed it.

Besides their science fiction drama, BBC America will also be airing a show on The Real History of Science Fiction beginning April 19:

From Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and from Jurassic Park to Doctor Who, each program is packed with contributors behind these creations and traces the developments of Robots, Space, Invasion and Time. Narrated by Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who writer, actor, and co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, the series determines why science fiction is not merely a genre… for its audience it’s a portal to a multi-verse – one that is all too easy to get lost in.

Among those taking part are: William Shatner (Star Trek), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness), Syd Mead (Blade Runner), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Peter Weller (Robocop), Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica), and many more.

The four part series will be divided into episodes on Robots, Space, Invasion, and Time.

Continuum - Episode 3.01 - Minute by Minute - Promotional Photos (5)_FULL

Continuum returns tonight on Showcase, but American audiences who resist the temptation to download the episode will have to wait until April 4. I certainly intend to get a hold of the earlier (and uncut) episodes after aired on Showcase. I will warn of any spoilers before the American showing. Some Spoilers have already been released prior to the first episode of the season, but presumably nothing which truly spoils the episode. Those who want to know nothing might want to skip the rest of this section which discusses what I have already heard.

The first episode, Minute By Minute reportedly reveals who the Freelancers really are, and someone new  joins up with them and gets the tattoos. Kira teams up with Garza, which comes as little surprise considering the changing alliances we have seen. As suggested in the second season finale, Alec goes back in time to try to save Emily, and reportedly there is a lot of timey wimey stuff with potential end of the world consequences. With time travel involved, other dead characters do return. The first ten minutes have already been released in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbdOVrqHuCU

The Marvel vs. DC feud will heat up next year, this time in the movie theaters. Both Captain America 2 and the next Superman vs Batman movie will be released the weekend of May 6, 2016.

CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory for three more seasons. Bazinga!

Cristin Milioti has called the theories that her character dies on How I Met Your Mother “some crazy conspiracy theories, which actually just makes me really love the fans more,” but never actually denied the rumors.  The show runners also dodged the question at PaleyFest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is intentional misdirection, but if there is some other surprise at the end. The cast will also be appearing on Inside The Actors Studio later this month prior to the series finale on March 31.

Gotham

Fox has released more information on their upcoming series, Gotham:

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

“Gotham” is an origin story of the great DC Comics super villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist,” “Rome”), “Gotham” follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.

Growing up in Gotham City’s surrounding suburbs, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) romanticized the city as a glamorous and exciting metropolis where his late father once served as a successful district attorney. Now, two weeks into his new job as a Gotham City detective and engaged to his beloved fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards, Open Grave, “Breaking In”), Gordon is living his dream – even as he hopes to restore the city back to the pure version he remembers it was as a kid.

Brave, honest and ready to prove himself, the newly-minted detective is partnered with the brash, but shrewd police legend Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” “Vikings,” “Copper”), as the two stumble upon the city’s highest-profile case ever: the murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne. At the scene of the crime, Gordon meets the sole survivor: the Waynes’ hauntingly intense 12-year-old son, Bruce (David Mazouz, “Touch”), toward whom the young detective feels an inexplicable kinship. Moved by the boy’s profound loss, Gordon vows to catch the killer.

As he navigates the often-underhanded politics of Gotham’s criminal justice system, Gordon will confront imposing gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix films, “HawthoRNe,” Collateral), and many of the characters who will become some of fiction’s most renowned, enduring villains, including a teenaged Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (acting newcomer Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, “The Walking Dead,” Another Earth).

Although the crime drama will follow Gordon’s turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, “Camelot,” “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he’s destined to be.

captain-america Agent Carater
Collider has spoken with Captain America screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeel  about how they envision the planned Agent Carter series. From this description, I’m more hopeful about this show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Here are the key points reported:

  • ABC has the script for the pilot but nothing is greenlit yet.
  • Markus and McFeely have recently spoken to Hayley Atwell and she is very interested in doing the show.
  • Howard Stark would be a recurring character, not a series regular.  This is assuming Dominic Cooper would be willing to continue to play the role.  I’ve spoken to him about this and he seemed very interested.  But this was a few months ago and things change.
  • The show would start in 1946, sort of in the middle of the timeline of the One Shot.  McFeely said, “We can’t get her to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. that fast.  We wanna stay in that world longer where people are disrespecting her and she’s proving herself and going on missions and things like that.”
  • Unlike most network shows that are 22 or 23-episode seasons, Markus and McFeely think Agent Carter should be a limited series with a maximum of 13 episodes per season.  McFeely said, “[13 episodes] is how this is envisioned, maybe even less… That’s my hope, is that it would be something like [Under the Dome].  Our case would be that it would be a limited series and you would wrap up that one bad guy and that one case, and then if you like it we’ll do it again next year and it’s 1947.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did have one of its better episodes of the season with the Thor crossover, guest staring Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif. While both a big event for the show and entertaining, the storyline still showed the weakness of the show. If they knew that Lorelei had the ability to control men, why would they have not one but two of their male agents wind up in a position where she could so easily take them over. Plus that plane of theirs has to be the least secure government facility in existence. Last week’s episode did also advance the storyline of Coulson’s return from the dead and this continuing storyline is a plus for the show.

THE AMERICANS -- The Walk In -- Episode 3 (Airs Wednesday, March 12, 10:00 PM e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings -- CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

While entertaining, S.H.I.E.L.D looks like a bunch of armatures compared to the KGB in 1982. The Americans had another solid episode. Elizabeth showed she can be far more threatening than any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as she terrified a janitor into getting her some information. Luckily for him, he stumbled upon Elizabeth’s weak spot when he showed her pictures of his children. It saved his life, but I doubt he will ever talk. Paige went do track down “Aunt Helen,” who Elizabeth was supposedly with while recovering from her gunshot wound. While the KGB was ready for this with a fake Aunt Helen complete with a picture of Elizabeth and Paige on the wall, I wouldn’t put it past Paige to ultimately bring down their entire spy operation. The episode also had a satisfying answer to my question last week as to why Nina told Stan about the walk-in by Bruce Dameran. Building up Stan by allowing him to kill Dameran is expected to be of more value to the KGB than any information they might have obtained from Dameran.

The episode also showed why the series works despite having KGB agents as the protagonists. Much of the episode dealt with family matters, including a letter from Leanne to Jared written years earlier in the event that she and Emmett were killed, so it didn’t matter that it was dealing with Russians. The subplot with Stan and Dameran, while a victory for the KGB, also involved Stan preventing an assassination, something which American viewers could root for. The scenes with Elizabeth and the poor janitor were so dramatic that it was easy to ignore the fact that they also involved American secrets falling into KGB hands.

Scarlett Johansson

The Guardian has an interview with Scarlett Johansson about her role in Under the Skin. In this portion she discussed why she wanted to take the role:

It’s one reason, presumably, that she took the part, though I’m curious to know the details. There’s only about three lines of dialogue in the entire film, so it can hardly have been the standout script. The main point of her character is that she doesn’t actually have a character. She’s an alien. She doesn’t do emotion. And it was filmed in Scotland. In winter. And most of the film consists of her standing around in wet boots and a too-thin coat. Or stripping off her clothes in a derelict squat and luring men into a vat of black ectoplasm. (At one point, she appears naked. Johansson fans, of which there are many, most especially the male variety, have been lighting up message boards for months with discussion of this particular fact.)

So why, of all the scripts she must get sent, did she decide to do this one? “I heard Jonathan was making a film and originally it was a very different story. But I met him, and it was very clear that he was struggling to figure out what he was doing with it, and what had attracted him to it. It wasn’t his passion project but there was something in the idea of having a character that was an alien that could give him the freedom to be completely observant without any judgment. I think we were both interested in that. I thought it would be incredibly challenging to play a character that’s free of judgment, that has no relationship to any emotion I could relate to.

“And for me, at this point, I think it much more interesting for me to look at something and know that I can play it, but not know how, rather than to look at something and go, ‘Ah, I can do that.’ And then just do it.”

The story also touched on other roles, including genre movies such as Captain America and Her.

The above trailer has been released for the second season of Under the Dome. The first episode will be written by Stephen King–hopefully he can get the show back on track. Executive producer Brian K. Vaughan says “The second season is going to take us to places where the book never got to go . Stephen King gave us some ideas we never imagined.” Two new characters will be introduced, Junior’s uncle who had been hiding out and a young school teacher. Two characters from the first season will be killed in an apparent law of conservation of characters. Early opinion from fans is that killing off just two characters is not enough. Maybe they could do this every week.

john_cho

John Cho of the two Star Trek remakes and Sleepy Hollow has been cast as the male lead in Selfie, the upcoming sit-com staring Karen Gillan of Doctor Who.

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

Cho will play self-assured, successful marketing expert Henry, who is a different breed from today’s social media-addicted society. As a challenge, he decides to “remarket” his coworker Eliza. He joins an ensemble that already includes Allyn Rachel, Tim Peper, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and David Harewood. Casting for the regular roles is now complete.

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

Black Widow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broadchurch US

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

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

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

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

Karen-Gillan-Joins-Selfie-Comedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

TARDIS Ikea

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SciFi Weekend: Raggedy Man Goodnight–The Time of the Doctor

Time of the Doctor1

The Time of the Doctor tried to do many things at once: be a Christmas episode, be an action story, tie up questions from the Matt Smith era, be a regeneration story, and be an homage to the Matt Smith era. It succeeded or failed to various degrees in each, but in the end managed to do enough to be a memorable chapter in Doctor Who, especially as a proper way to end the story of the eleventh Doctor.

After recent Christmas episodes which were more clearly based upon Christmas stories or themes, The Time of the Doctor resorted to naming the town where the Doctor spent centuries Christmas, along with brief scenes of Christmas dinner at Clara’s home. There were far too many other things to accomplish to get bogged down with a true Christmas story, but this sure gave a new meaning to the War on Christmas.

Sometimes if felt like he has been making new interpretations up as he went along, but Steven Moffat did try to tie up loose ends from not only the Matt Smith years but, in dealing with the Time Lords and the regeneration limit, the entire series. He handled the regeneration limit well, explaining the situation for those who have not already read about it on the blogs and without dwelling on it too long for those who have already heard the discussion. Matt Smith quickly explained to Clara that he was on his last regeneration once you counted the John Hurt Doctor:

CLARA: “But you don’t die. You change – you pop right back with a new face.”
THE DOCTOR: “Not forever. I can change 12 times. 13 versions of me. 13 silly Doctors.”
CLARA: “But you’re number eleven, so -”
THE DOCTOR: “Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy? I didn’t call myself the Doctor during the Time War, but it was still a regeneration.”

Explaining yet another previously uncounted regeneration, the Doctor pointed out that “Number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face – I had vanity issues at the time.”. Of course we knew that somehow he would not die at Tranzalor any more than he died at Lake Silencio, but instead would regenerate despite the previously established and easily broken regeneration limit.

Before nearly dying of old age, the Doctor spent over 300 years on Tranzalor fighting the Daleks and others at a standoff. Several other enemies were also thrown in, often quickly. The Weeping Angels were present only to briefly grab Clara’s ankle (without sending her back in time). The Cybermen had a cameo, with far more memorable scenes from Handles, a severed Cyberman head who chronologically  became the companion to spend the most time with the Doctor and was reminiscent of K-9. These cameos would have been pointless, and even distracting, in a normal story, but were present as part of the homage to the many events of the Matt Smith years.

After frequently throwing out the question, Doctor Who? into many stories, Moffat made the answer a key point of this story. Unfortunately the explanation makes little sense once you think about it. The Time Lords were hidden in a pocket universe and would not return until the Doctor said his real name. It doesn’t make much sense as to why this would be so important and why the Time Lords would even think that the Doctor would want them to return. Many events during the Matt Smith years have been revealed as being based upon attempts to prevent the Doctor from bringing back the Time Lords. Why would they think that the Doctor would do so after he was the one who made them disappear? Gallifrey was hidden behind the cracks in time which have been present in multiple episodes. Why didn’t the issue of the Doctor’s name or the return of the Time Lords come up around prior cracks.

Time of the Doctor2

I fortunately downloaded the BBC broadcast as I hear that at least one key explanation was cut from the BBC America version for commercials. The Silents were revealed to have been genetically engineered priests. Once someone gave their confession, they would forget about the confession. A cool idea until you question why. The key line which I heard was cut from the US showing was that Madame Kovarian led a renegade offshoot of the Silents from the Papal Mainframe which was dedicated to killing the Doctor as the way to prevent him from speaking his name and allowing the Time Lords to return.

Moffat managed to tie in many previous events into this narrative, including the explosion of the TARDIS. River Song was created as a perfect psychopath to kill the Doctor (but he wound up marrying her instead). The Doctor’s greatest fear behind a door in The God Complex was revealed to be a crack in time. The episode included other references to earlier in this regeneration, such as eating fish fingers and custard before regenerating, as the Doctor did after regenerating from Ten to Eleven. There were also references to earlier regenerations, such as using “reverse the polarity to the neutron flow.” Eleven has now said this more often than the Third Doctor actually did. The Doctor also referred to The Five Doctors with use of the“Seal of the High Council of Gallifrey – nicked it off the Master in the Death Zone.”

Moffat created a memorable new character in Tasha Lem. She seems to have had a romantic history with the Doctor and can even fly the TARDIS. She explained to Clara,”Flying the TARDIS was always easy. It was flying the Doctor I never quite mastered.” Such dialog could easily come from River Song, the only person other than the Doctor who we previously saw fly the TARDIS. The Doctor told Tasha Lem, “You’ve been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life,” reminding us of how River Song was called a psychopath in the same episode. Perhaps the episode was written with thought of including River Song. There has been some speculation that Tasha Lem is yet another manifestation of River Song, possibly taking a new bodily form after leaving the library.

Moffat also has a habit of bringing up themes and then dropping them (but you never know if he will one day return to them). The Doctor faking his death at Lake Silencio had no long term meaning as subsequently everyone still seems aware that he is alive. Clara’s wiping of the Dalek memory of the Doctor in Asylum of the Daleks has been forgotten. Moffat played with the meme that the Doctor lies by putting him in a truth field in this episode. This was also forgotten. The Doctor lied to Clara when he said he told her he would not send her away and lied at the end about having a plan.

Time of the Doctor Wig

Moffat even took advantage of Matt Smith having cut his hair for a movie role. The Doctor hid a spare key to the TARDIS under a wig. The scene only worked because of the knowledge that Matt Smith was actually wearing a wig during the filming of the episode. It also reminded me of when Sam Malone revealed he was wearing a wig on Cheers after word got out that Ted Danson actually wore one.

The episode might have been improved by making it longer than an hour and providing a more sensible conclusion. The Time Lords sat behind the crack and did nothing for years. Then Clara said, “His name is the Doctor. All the name he needs, all you need to know about him. And if you love him… help him.” This was enough to get the Time Lords to act. While questionable, it is at least consistent with the Doctor Who theme of often having the companions perform important actions to save the Doctor.In a way it also resolves the issue of the Doctor’s real name by pointing out that it doesn’t really matter.

The Time Lords gave the Doctor a new regeneration cycle. Previous episodes have established that this is very rare, but not without precedent. It remains to be seen whether twelve more regenerations will be enough to keep the Doctor alive as long as the show continues or if another way will need to be found to grant additional regenerations in the distant future. The regeneration energy was enough to enable the Doctor to easily shoot the Dalek ship out of the sky. If the Time Lord’s possess this much power, it is hard to believe that they were ever seriously threatened by the Daleks during the Time War.

Time has been rewritten and the Doctor did not die on Tranzalor. This would also mean that there is no tomb where Clara was fragmented into multiple copies to save the Doctor from The Great Intelligence. Yet another of those timey wimey paradoxes.

The regeneration was drawn out, enabling Matt Smith to appear yet again as a young man, eating custard. The episode showed growth for the Doctor. Ten didn’t want to go and Eleven hated endings. Finally Eleven was ready and accepted his fate as “times change, and so must I.” As he saw Amelia Pond, the first person he saw as the Eleventh, he said, “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

Time of the Doctor Amy Pond

Karen Gillan will always be the companion most closely thought of  with Matt Smith. Like David Tennant visiting Billie Piper for one last time before he regenerated, a vision of Amy Pond got to say to the Doctor, “Raggedy man. Goodnight.” Ironically both Karen Gillan and Matt Smith were wearing wigs in this picture, having cut their hair for movie roles.

Some fans have been disappointed because the regeneration scene did not show a prolonged transformation of the face from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi. I suspect this might have been for budgetary reasons. I thought it was far more symbolic to have Matt Smith remove his bow tie just before changing. Bow ties and fez hats belong to the Eleventh. Others might wear them in his honor, but it will always be remembered that it was Matt Smith who said, “Bow ties are cool.”

As with previous regenerations, Twelve was observant of his bodily changes.”I’ve got new kidneys! I don’t like the color!” There are bigger concerns when the TARDIS alarms go off and he asks Clara, “Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?” It sounds like we might have another crash scene coming up, unless either he is either messing around with Clara or soon regains his memory.

Unfortunately we have to wait until next fall to find out.

Time of the Doctor Peter Capaldi

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Homeland; Hannibal; The Americans; Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series; Welcome To Yesterday

BBC America has released the above extended trailer for The Time Of The Doctor.

With the regeneration almost here, see the above video in which David Tennant tells Matt Smith about the inevitable fate of every actor to play the Doctor.

Steven Moffat felt it was wrong to kill off the Doctor (not that this is stopping him from doing it:

“Regeneration scenes are the toughest but most exciting part of Doctor Who – you don’t really know the show until you’ve written one.

“Previously, I’d only written Matt’s end of David’s regeneration – this is the first time I’ve actually killed off a Doctor. “It feels like a very wrong thing to do to your childhood, not to mention one of your friends!”

Above is a clip from The Time Of The Doctor in which Clara and the Doctor find that they need a time machine to finish the Christmas dinner turkey

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Besides scenes of cooking a turkey, the Christmas special includes a nude scene. Regrettably it is of Matt Smith and not Jenna Coleman. At least having Jenna Coleman’s name and nude scene in the same line should be good for several additional hits.

Moffat has discussed what would have happened if Christopher Eccleston had been willing to return for the 50th Anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor:

In the latest DWM, Moffat confirms that Eccleston would have filled what became John Hurt’s role: “Yes, but I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings. So instead we had the challenge and excitement of introducing a BBC audience to a brand new Doctor.”

Asked if it would have been Eccleston ending the Time War instead: “Yes, but do you know, I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn’t fit with [2005’s] Rose at all.

“[Eccleston] is a brand new Doctor in Rose, he’s absolutely, definitely new. It couldn’t have been is who pushed the button in the Time War, cos that’s a new man, very explicitly, in that episode. I also had trouble, I have to be honest, imagining it being Paul McGann’s Doctor.

“So all of this led me to the idea that if you’re going to sell to the Not-We audience a Doctor who essentially they haven’t seen before, then you have a freer hand than saying it has to be one of the ones you’ve already had. And it was predicated in getting an enormous star to be able to do it. We got John Hurt, so that was cool! Think of the fuss it’s created for us!”

Strax has issued a field report on Christmas in the video above.

Homeland Carrie Pregant

The season finale of  Homeland was essentially a reset for the entire series. (Mayor spoilers here for those who have not seen it yet). During the first season of the show, I had wondered how they could possibly do a second season with Brody. We learned later that the producers had planned to kill him off but Showtime intervened. They managed to find a way to do a second season with him, but it was not as good as the first season. There had to be a limit to how long they could base a show on questions of Brody’s loyalties. They even managed to drag this out into a third season, but the quality suffered.

They did manage to have a moment of suspense in which we weren’t sure whether Brody would seek asylum in Iran or complete the mission. The finale allowed for even more suspense as this was a rare situation in which viewers really could not be certain if the star of a show would live or die. We had hints that Brody would not make it. The show runners discussed in interviews how Showtime had not allowed Brody to be killed off earlier, but did agree he could die at some point. Shortly before the finale aired we learned that the roles of Brody’s wife and daughter would no longer be series regulars. Despite these opportunities, the past season was a disappointment compared to previous years.

Next season we will no longer face questions of Brody’s loyalties. Other aspects of the show were also reset. Carrie gave up her baby, and her mental illness does not appear to be an issue, at least for the moment. Even her disputes with the new CIA director are forgotten with Carrie being made a section chief. It remains to be seen whether Claire Danes can continue to carry the series, but it was clear they could not redo the first season yet again.

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Two of the best new series from last year return in February. NBC has released the above poster along with the release date for Hannibal Season 2–February 28. The Americans also returns in February–teaser below:

At the time of his death, Stieg Larsson had been at work in the fourth entry in his Millennium series which included The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. There had been hopes that someone else would complete the book but so far this has not been possible. It was announced last week that the series will continue with a new author:

With Larsson’s own fourth book unlikely to be completed soon because of a dispute between Larsson’s partner, Eva Gabrielsson, and his family, the publisher, Norstedts Forlag, has sought another author to take up Larsson’s standard. On Tuesday the publisher said that it has found its man in David Lagercrantz, a journalist and author who has published several novels and biographies, and is the co-author of “I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic” (2011) the autobiography of a Swedish soccer star.

Larsson’s unfolding tale of the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and the journalist Mikael Blomkvist has sold more than 73 million copies worldwide. Film versions of the first three books were produced in 2009, followed by David Fincher’s 2011 English language version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.

The next book in the series is scheduled to be published in August 2015.

Welcome to Yesterday trailer is above. Looks like fun, even if not an original idea, with the movie set for release on February 28. I will be watching Hannibal that night, but if reviews are at all decent I will catch this movie eventually.

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