SciFi Weekend: Breaking Bad; Dexter; Hannibal; The Blacklist; Sleepy Hollow; The Americans; Community; True Blood; Broadchurch; Doctor Who

Breaking Bad Series Finale Elliot and Gretchen 1

Vince Gilligan ended Breaking Bad just as most would have predicted if not for feeling that this was too obvious and trying to throw in a twist. In the end, Walt killed the Nazis, rescued Jesse and then died. Jesse escaped, Lydia was killed, and plans were made to get money to Walt’s family. Realistically Walt’s death was the most probable end-point for the series since the first episode. Initially it might have been from the cancer. Events since then changed how it most likely to occur. It became inevitable that he would face a violent death, but also achieve some measure of victory.

The only surprises in the finale were the details in how everything would be accomplished, such as threatening Elliott and Gretchen with assassination by “the two best hitmen west of the Mississippi” who were really Skinny Pete and Badger armed only with laser pointers. There was no need for a surprise ending, and certainly not a gimmick such as a dream or fading to black. Breaking Bad feels more like a continuous story in a novel, leading to the most likely conclusion. The finale has received universal praise, showing that no gimmicks were needed. Hopefully writers of future series will learn from this.

The success of the finale of Breaking Bad led to inevitable comparisons to other finales. To be fair to other show runners who fell short, the structure of Breaking Bad lent itself to coming to such a definite and obvious conclusion. While I was not satisfied with the ending to The Sopranos, an ambiguous ending was more in line with that show than Breaking Bad. After the full run of the series, it was realistic that Tony Soprano had made enough enemies that one would just walk up to him and shoot him in a diner. It would similarly be realistic to interpret this otherwise and see Tony Soprano continuing as he had for years, as with Sam Malone on Cheers. Breaking Bad had a clear storyline leading to an inevitable conclusion.

Damon Lindelof was blasted on Twitter during the Breaking Bad finale for not providing such a satisfactory conclusion to Lost. While I think they could have done better with Lost, a key difference here is that Lost had developed such a complex mythology that there was no realistic way to end the series. Lindelof defended his ending in The Hollywood Reporter, which was more a plea for everyone to stop talking about it.

The remaining questions are trivial compared to the questions raised by Lost. There was no question to the motivations of the main character. Walt revealed to Skyler that he was doing this all for himself. Did Walt initially plan to kill Jesse, and then change his mind when he saw how he was enslaved? That change in motivation is suggested in several interviews where Vince Gilligan compared the ending to The Searchers:

On the story inspiration for Walt, who was hellbent on killing Jesse, saving his ex-partner out of sudden instinct 
“A lot of astute viewers who know their film history are going to say, ‘It’s the ending to The Searchers.’ And indeed it is. The wonderful western The Searchers has John Wayne looking for Natalie Wood for the entire three-hour length of the movie. She’s been kidnapped by Indians and raised as one of their own, and throughout the whole movie, John Wayne says, ‘I need to put her out of her misery. As soon as I find her, I’m going to kill her.’ The whole movie Jeffrey Hunter is saying, ‘No, we’re not — she’s my blood kin, we’re saving her,’ and he says, ‘We’re killing her.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh my god, John Wayne is a monster and he’s going to do it. You know for the whole movie that this is the major drama between these two characters looking for Natalie Wood. And then at the end of the movie, on impulse, you think he’s riding toward her to shoot her, and instead he sweeps her up off her feet and he carries her away and he says, ‘Let’s go home.’ It just gets me every time — the ending of that movie just chokes you up, it’s wonderful. In the writers room, we said, ‘Hey, what about the Searchers ending?’ So, it’s always a matter of stealing from the best. [Laughs]“

Did Walt have any plan for after he killed the neo-Nazis if he survived? It did not appear that he did. If not for the last-second decision to save Jesse, I wonder if he had planned to jump to the floor, or remain standing and die with everyone else in the room.

We know Jesse is free but from there it is all speculation:

“We always felt like the viewers desired Jesse to get away. And it’s up to the individual viewer to decide what happens next for Jesse. Some people might think, ‘Well, he probably got two miles down the road before the cops nailed him.’ But I prefer to believe that he got away, and he’s got a long road to recovery ahead, in a sense of being held prisoner in a dungeon for the last six months and being beaten to within an inch of his life and watching Andrea be shot. All these terrible things he’s witnessed are going to scar him as well, but the romantic in me wants to believe that he gets away with it and moves to Alaska and has a peaceful life communing with nature.”

Unfortunately it wasn’t realistic to have Jesse wind up raising Brock, providing him with a true happy ending.

What was going through Jesse’s mind when he didn’t shoot Walt? Was this the outcome of Jesse previously saying he would never do what Walt told him to do again, a desire to be done with killing, or did a remnant of his old respect for Walt prevent him from pulling the trigger? Would he have shot Walt if he didn’t see that Walt already had a gunshot wound?

Will Walt’s scheme work and will Gretchen and Elliott really get the money to Walt, Jr.? There’s no way to know. On this show many elaborate schemes have worked well. It was quite fortunate for Walt that Lydia kept to her old schedule and was the one to take the pack of poisoned Stevia. Everything also had to go right for his plan to kill the neo-Nazis to succeed. While throughout the series many elaborate plans were successful, not everything went right for Walt. Most notably, Walt ruined his plans by leaving the Walt Whitman book out in his bathroom, and easily fell for Jesse’s plan to lead the DEA to the money. We also do not know if his plan for Skyler to negotiate with the coordinates of  Hank and Gomez’s bodies will save her, with his previous phone call not appearing to have helped her very much.

In comparing the recent finales of Breaking Bad and Dexter, it seems like the Breaking Bad finale was planned from the start while Dexter‘s finale decided late in the series. The opposite turns out to be true. Vince Gilligan had no idea about some major aspects of the ending, and has revealed other endings under consideration.

Dexter and Hannah

It was the opposite for Dexter. While Clyde Phillips, the original show runner, had a different idea, current show runner Scott Buck and longtime executive producer Sara Colleton told Entertainment Weekly that this ending had been planned for years:

Before the season started, you said the core idea behind this finale has been in the works for years. What was the original concept?
BUCK: The kernel idea were the last few scenes. They were what I pitched a few years ago. The main idea was Dexter is forced to kill Debra. And there are many ways that could happen. But those final scenes were pretty much unchanged.
SARA COLLETON: From the very beginning the paradox was here’s a guy who doesn’t feel he’s a human being, who has to fake it. But in faking it, he’s a better brother, boyfriend, colleague that most real people. People think of him as a monster, but he yearns to be human. We’ve seen him go forward on this journey every year. Now we found out what the final price was. What sums up the entire journey was the scene on balcony of his apartment before going on the boat to put Deb down — that’s horrible to say aloud. The voiceover: “For so long all I wanted was to feel like other people … now that I do just want it to stop.” It’s the horrible awareness of what it was to be a human being and how overwhelming that is for him. His punishment is banishment. He sends himself into exile. Killing himself is too easy. When he turns and looks into the camera at the end he’s stripped everything away.

Were there any other versions of the ending that you rejected?
BUCK: The only real variation was what he would be doing. I knew he would be in a self-imposed prison that would be as far from Miami as possible. We’d find him working in some solitary environment where even if other people were around he would make no contact and not talk to anyone. We would follow him home and he would have no human contact.

In a way that’s his new code — avoiding human contact.
BUCK: Yes. For us, that’s the tragedy. The one thing we felt Dexter wanted more than anything was human connections. Even in the first season we see him trying to get with Rudy. Now that he’s finally made that journey and he’s almost poised to have a real human life, he has to give all that up to save Harrison and Hannah.
COLLETON: He went into an absolute shutdown. He no longer has even his voiceover.

 Hannibal Season 2

The above poster was released for the second season of Hannibal. Bryan Fuller explains: “After a horrifying descent into madness in season 1, this image ironically represents the perspective of a scrappier, clearer-minded Will Graham in season 2.  The scales have fallen from his eyes and he finally sees Hannibal Lecter for the monster he is.”

The Blacklist remains the best new network show so far, and has become the first to receive a full 22-episode pick-up.

Sleepy Hollow will remain with a thirteen episode run this year, and has been renewed for a second 13-episode season.

The Americans was one of the best new shows last year. Creator/executive Joe Weisberg and executive producer Joel Fields discussed the show at PaleyFest.

Nathan Fillion will guest star on Community, making Firefly references inevitable.

Rob Kazinsky says True Blood “kind of ran out of ideas and now they’ve got an idea again and they’re trying to finish stronger than ever… which they’re going to do next season!”

David Tennant will reprise his role as star of Broadchurch for a US adaptation from Fox. It was an excellent show, but I’m not sure why we need a second version. I imagine that many US viewers neither have a way to  pick up British shows and don’t watch BBC America, leaving an untapped audience for Fox.

David Tennant will also be staring in Day of the Doctor, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. Current plans include simulcasting the show in 75 countries.  Steven Moffat has also discussed the upcoming regeneration from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi:

If you haven’t seen it, there is a particularly fine interview Steven Moffat has given to Nerd3 in which he discusses, well, a lot of things you don’t often hear Steven Moffat discuss.

One section is devoted to regeneration, and the fact that it would not be a break with Whovian tradition for the Twelfth Doctor to look a lot like someone the Doctor has already met. In fact Peter Capaldi has been in Doctor Who (as Lucius Caecilius Iucundus in “The Fires of Pompeii”) and Torchwood: Children of Earth, and Steven has already had a chat with Russell T Davies over how this will all work.

He said: “We are aware that Peter Capaldi’s played a part in Doctor Who before and we’re not going to ignore the fact. I’ll let you in on this. I remember Russell told me he had a big old plan as to why there were two Peter Capaldis in the Who universe, one in Pompeii and one in Torchwood. When I cast Peter, [Russell] got in touch to say how pleased he was, I said ‘Okay, what was your theory and does it still work?’ and he said ‘Yes it does, here it is’. So I don’t know if we’ll get to it… we’ll play that one out over time. It’s actually quite neat.”

If they try to be too clever I  suspect they might run into problems analogous to explaining why the Klingons look different in different versions of Star Trek. There’s a simple explanation–the same actor played three different roles. Sure, you could come up with an explanation which includes the Doctor taking the form of people he encountered in the past when regenerating. Then how do we explain Karen Gillan’s appearance, as she also appeared in The Fires of Pompeii as a different character before playing Amy Pond?

J.J. Abrams has apologized for all the lens flairs in Star Trek Into Darkness.

And finally, this video on the finale and a farewell video from the cast of Breaking Bad:

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SciFi Weekend: Breaking Bad; Dexter Finale; Sleepy Hollow; The Blacklist; Agents of SHIELD; Orphan Black; How I Met Your Mother

breaking bad granite state

If the television shows I watched this week really reflected reality, many of the characters would be talking about the Breaking Bad finale, with some catching up on Netflix and the AMC marathon. Breaking Bad has done what few shows can do in increasing interest, and ratings, as it approached its finale. Breaking Bad has succeeded against its rivals the same way that Walter’s blue meth has–being superior to the competition. The show has also become as addictive as blue meth. This is primarily due to basics such as high quality acting and writing, but Breaking Bad has also been assisted by modern technology. The ability of many people to catch up at no additional cost on streaming services such as Netflix has helped increase the audience over past years. High definition big screen televisions are necessary to fully appreciate the camera work.

Things appeared to be as bad as possible for Walt and Jesse at the end of Ozymandias. Matters got even worse in Granite State. Walt lived alone in isolation in New Hampshire, unable to spend his money on anything other than supplies from Ed, along with an extra hour of his company for $10,000. Couldn’t they at least give him a pile of good novels and a radio to listen to? Ed even provided chemotherapy. I wouldn’t expect such intermittent doses with no monitoring to be the best way to treat his cancer, but Walt did appear far stronger when he returned home than on his first attempt to walk into town, even if he became so thin that his wedding ring slipped off his finger. Walt’s attempts to save his family have failed, and he hit bottom with the the total rejection from his son, who wished he was dead. This was enough to get Walt to decide to surrender, until his pride took over when he heard Gretchen and Elliot deny him credit for his work creating Gray Matter Technologies on television.

Meanwhile things were so bad for Jesse that he wished Todd and the neo-Nazis had killed him rather than keeping him alive as a slave to cook blue meth. At points Todd appeared to be less than 100 percent evil when he spared Skyler’s life and gave Jesse some Ben and Jerry’s but showed what a psychopath he really is by so coldly killing Andrea (nothing personal).

This brought us to the scenes which started both halves of Season 5. So far we have seen a couple of possible endings–Walt living happy and retired from the meth business at the start of Season 5, and more recently exposed and arrested by Hank. Now we will see a third, and final, ending. We know Walt is well-armed and has retrieved the ricin from his old home. There are many predictions as to what will happen. The overall arc of the show has been for Walt to become increasingly evil, but some signs of goodness have remained from trying to save Hank to his continued concern for his family.  Will Walt be punished for his crimes, or will he survive? Vince Gilligan left us to wonder with comments on the ending such as “I feel like this ending represents on some level, however small, something of a victory for Walter White.”

Beyond coming out of this alive, the biggest potential victory for Walt would be to find a way for his family to be cared for and Skyler to escape prosecution. Perhaps he will force Gretchen and Elliot to give his family the money from Gray Matter which he believe should have been his (although he certainly was not interested in their money back in the first season).

Presumably Walt will get his revenge over Uncle Jack and Todd. The neo-Nazis must be punished. However, as this is so predictable, either it will occur quickly and the finale will concentrate on other things, it or the outcome will include an unexpected element. How Jesse and Walt will react to each other remains a big question. Perhaps Todd’s demise will involve Lydia as opposed to Walt or Jesse. Unlike on his role of Landry on Friday Night Lights, Jesse Plemon’s character is unlikely to get the girl this time. It would come as no surprise if either winds up killing the other.

What is Walt planning to do with the ricin? Perhaps it is intended for Gretchen and Elliot. Maybe we will even see a flashback which more clearly shows what happened between them and Walt. If a flashback does show them screwing Walt out of what should have been his share of the company and a fortune, I would assume that the two wind up dead.

The ricin might also be for Lydia, should Walt want to undo what he has done and shut down the distribution of blue meth. Yet another possibility is that Walt saved it for himself to ensure that he will not wind up living in prison, after being in a situation as bad as imprisonment in New Hampshire. Maybe he will take the ricin, and then arrange a deal where he goes to prison in return for a deal not to prosecute Skyler. There are also several other characters who might knock off Walt sparing him from going to prison beyond the obvious ones, including Skyler, Marie, and perhaps even Walt, Jr. Perhaps Marie deserves the honors, considering how much she was hurt by Walt while never becoming tainted as was the case with Skyler.

At this point I suspect viewers are mixed regarding their hopes for Walt. If the evil characters are punished, this should include Walt, but the show has always been about rooting for Walt to triumph. Jesse wasn’t initially intended to survive past the first season, and now having Jesse survive would be welcomed by fans. Jesse’s survival could also provide an answer to Brock’s fate. There are lots of other characters to wonder about. Will Saul return from Nebraska? At least we know why Better Call Saul will have to be a prequel show. Did Huell ever get out of that room? Is Baby Holly fated to one day take up chemistry?

While we won’t know what happens to Walt and Jesse until Sunday night, we do know what is next for Vince Gilligan. He will be doing a crime series for CBS next season taking place in Battle Creek. I’m not sure if I’m more disappointed that he will be on network television or that it takes place in Battle Creek, but most likely Gilligan will exceed expectations for such a scenario.

Dexter Ending

While most have high hopes for a satisfactory ending to Beaking Bad, the series finale of Dexter was a disappointment–as was much of  the final season. The two problems are interconnected. A better ending would have meant a better lead up during the season. There were two possible satisfactory scenarios. Dexter could have been caught at the end and the final season could have been about Dexter desperately trying to cover his tracks while at risk of being uncovered. Alternately we could have had a big bad who eventually killed Dexter, but there was nobody this season who was big enough to provide a satisfactory conclusion in this manner. A variation of this would be Hannah being the enemy who kills Dexter, but the season did not play out in a way to make that plausible. Instead we saw a number of potential menaces pop up during the season, but none provided a compelling enough story to justify them being the one who beat Dexter.

The finale was disappointing on a couple additional levels. Having Dexter survive at all seemed implausible until we were reminded that Dexter did have a small life boat available on the Slice of Life. While the final episode did blatantly foreshadow the fact that Dexter would never see his son again and that Hannah would be raising him, they might have given a small clue that the life boat existed nearer the conclusion.

The big disappointment is that Dexter’s decision just made no sense. He has brought doom to some people around him, especially Deb, but Deb died because he changed and did not kill Saxon, not because of his dark passenger. His decision would have made more sense if Dexter’s killing someone is what had led to Deb’s death. Besides, leaving the country with Hannah and getting a fresh start would seem to be a reasonable solution, while still allowing him to be with his son. Even after having Dexter fake his death, it would have been more satisfactory if the ending was like The Dark Knight Rises and Dexter was eating with Hannah and Harrison in an outdoor café in Buenos Aires.

There were so many implausible elements in the finale beyond Dexter’s decision to lead a solitary life. He spared Saxon, leaving him to be killed by the state, and then risked everything to kill him. There was no guarantee his connections with the police would lead to those viewing the film to so easily go along with Dexter’s story. I predicted that Saxon would cut off the guy’s tongue after he said he knew he would not speak, but how did Saxon avoid getting covered in blood? A hospital might be in chaos during an evacuation, but not likely to the point where Dexter could turn off Deb’s life support and carry her out of the hospital. Is it really wise to trust that Hannah will give up killing forever and make a good mother for Harrison?

Scott Buck defended his idea for the finale in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Clyde Phillips, show runner in earlier seasons, had a better idea as to how the show should end:

“In the very last scene of the series,” Philips explained, “Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, ‘Oh, it was a dream.’ And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, ‘No, it’s not a dream.’ Dexter’s opening his eyes and he’s on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They’re just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery.”

And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing, Doakes who he’s arguably responsible for, Rita, who he’s arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there.

“That’s what I envisioned for the ending of Dexter. That everything we’ve seen over the past eight seasons has happened in the several seconds from the time they start Dexter’s execution to the time they finish the execution and he dies.  Literally, his life flashed before his eyes as he was about to die. I think it would have been a great, epic, very satisfying conclusion.”

Phillips further explained that his idea for the ending was inspired by An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, the 1890 story by Ambrose Pierce about a Confederate soldier that is famous for its time-altering, plot-twisting ending. When the soldier is hanged, the rope breaks, he falls into the river, swims to shore, runs toward his family, see his wife and children and right before they are reunited, the rope catches and he dies. It turns out that the entire story takes place in the two to three seconds between the soldier’s initial drop and his neck snapping.

As SciFi Weekend is supposed to be about science fiction (even though I frequently cover other show) it is time I returned to science fiction in the video above. It is an animated version of Badger’s idea for an episode of Star Trek as presented at the start of the second half of the final season of Breaking Bad. The humor as well as the drama of Breaking Bad will be missed.

I will wait a while longer to come to any conclusions about the new season. Sleepy Hollow showed promise in the first episode, but after the second I’m not sure that I really want to devote an hour a week to it. One thing which might keep me interested is that John Noble will have a recurring role. Nicole Beharie answered questions about the show here.

So far The Blacklist looks like the best new show, with all the twists providing a perfect vehicle for the talents of James Spader. The show does remind me in some ways of Hannibal. A key difference is that with Hannibal we know the broad outline of where the show is going. We were left with lots of questions on The Blacklist.

SHIELD premiere

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a recurring mystery of its own regarding what really happened to Agent Coulson. In some ways it is a light, Disneyized version of Torchwood. Torchwood, in the early seasons, dealt with a team working in a universe where people knew about the Doctor and experienced alien invasions, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a team working after the events of The Avengers. Both introduced their agents by recruiting from the outside–Gwen on Torchwood and Sky on SHIELD. Both pilots even used a sci-fi serum at a pivotal point but in far different ways–Retcon to cause amnesia on Torchwood and a truth serum on SHIELD.

I do have one nitpick about the pilot for SHIELD. (Two if I mention how obnoxious Fitz is). I realize that we must accept a lot of implausible things related to fictitious science and superheroes. There are things which none of this should change from our reality. I have been in many hospitals and have never seen one with big open windows in patient rooms which would allow someone with superpowers to leap out and jump to the ground.

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Orphan Black has started filming for the second season, with Sarah once again trying to get reunited with her daughter.

Lilly met the mother on  How I Met Your Mother and we got a scene from a year later showing her with Ted. She does look like the right woman for Ted to wind up with, and now that it has started I think that a season long wedding will work out fine.

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SciFi Weekend: Under the Dome Finale; Atlantis; Agent Carter; Breaking Bad; AMC Spin Offs; Downton Abbey Premiere; Orphan Black; Revolution and Blacklist

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The season finale of Under The Dome has been widely criticized by reviewers. We were promised some answers about the dome but instead we got what felt like a bunch of random scenes. After more meaningless butterfly scenes, the big revelation was that Julia is the Monarch, not that we know what that really means. The beings behind the dome spoke in the body of Norrie’s dead mother and declared that the intention was to protect them and apparently we are to believe they are good because they say they are. (They really are intended to be protecting the humans per this interview with executive producer Brian K. Vaughan).  There is no indication of what the dome is protecting Chester’s Mill from, and they show a funny way of providing protection when the dome turns black. Of course we don’t have to worry for long because somehow Julia was right in deciding that the way to protect the egg was to dump it at the bottom of the lake, leading to pink stars rising and the dome turning white. There was no explanation as to why the beings behind the dome even require a human to protect the egg.

The interview noted above tells more about the plans for the series but beware that it also spoils aspects of the book if you intend to read it between seasons. That is pleural seasons. There was a limit to how satisfying any revelations about the dome might be with a plan is to continue the series for several years. This would probably work much better as a single season show with a clear ending, but that is not how network television operates. Regardless, the writers knew there would be a break for the season and might have come up with something more sensible.

Ultimately the dome is just a mechanism to drive the conflict between the various human characters. We might have forgiven holes in the mythology if it actually drove good stories, as with Lost and Fringe. I already discussed many of the flaws in the story here. The cliff hanger hardly provides any suspense, knowing that they will not kill off Barbie as they have killed off less important characters. Potentially better writing might have made the plot line more  believable. Stephen King will be writing the second season premiere. Hopefully he can get the story back on track, and the show’s regular writers can carry on from there.

Atlantis

With Merlin finishing its run last year, The BBC is starting Atlantis, which reimagines Greek mythology.

The action packed series brings to life the vast store of Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation.

From the creators of the hit show Merlin and the creator of BAFTA award-winning series Misfits comes a thrilling new thirteen part adventure series: ATLANTIS.

When Jason sets out to find his father, he could never have anticipated where his journey would lead…

Far from home and desperate for answers, Jason washes up on the shores of an ancient land. A mysterious place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired Goddesses and palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants – this is the city of Atlantis.

But under the surface of this enticing place is a dark and simmering past, a complicated web of treachery and deceit, with which Jason himself seems inexplicably bound. He soon finds himself embroiled in a perilous game of politics and power from which there is no escape.

Aided by the studious young Pythagoras and the overweight, overbearing Hercules, Jason embarks on a voyage of discovery and salvation which sees him brush shoulders with Medusa, come face to face with the Minotaur and even do battle with the dead.

As the series’ progress, this unlikely but engaging trio will take us on a journey through the vast store of Greek myths and legends, which provide the bedrock of western literature. A treasure trove of extraordinary tales re-imagined in a thrilling and unexpected way for a new generation.

Atlantis was created by Julian Murphy (Merlin, Hex, Sugar Rush), Johnny Capps (Merlin, Hex, Sugar Rush) and BAFTA award winning Howard Overman (Merlin, Misfits, Dirk Gently). BBC Executive producer is Bethan Jones.

Starring Mark Addy, Jack Donnelly, Robert Emms, Sarah Parish, Juliet Stevenson, Jemima Rooper and Aiysha Hart.

Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review of the first episode.

Agent Carter

The Flash is being introduced as a potential DC Comics television spin off of Arrow, and Marvel isn’t far behind. Although the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t air for a couple more days, a second Marvel television series is under consideration. The second one is on the career of Agent Carter after her boyfriend Steve Rogers (Captain America) gets frozen in ice.

AMC is especially interested in spin off shows with two their major shows concluding soon. With Breaking Bad ending next week, they are developing a spin off, Better Call Saul. There had been talk for a while of a Mad Man spin off, potentially based upon the California office opened last season, but this plan is off. AMC will at least drag out Mad Men for another year, dividing the final season into two seven episode parts. At least they might extend it to eight as Breaking Bad has done. AMC is also working on a companion series to Walking Dead based upon another group in the same universe.

I do wish they weren’t airing the Emmy Awards opposite the final episode of Dexter and the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad. That was quite an episode last week as Walt lost virtually everything, including his family, Jesse, most of his money, and even his identity. We knew since the start of the fifth season that he would ultimately return with a new identity and lots of weapons (including returning home to retrieve the ricin).

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Presumably the major remaining business for Walt is go go after the neo-Nazi’s and possibly save Jesse in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t found that Jesse is being forced to cook for the neo-Nazis. Perhaps while hiding out in New Hampshire he finds out about pure blue Meth still being produced and realizes that only Jesse could be cooking it. There remain many other questions such as what becomes of his home and family and whether Skylar will follow Walt if he survives in light of how he acted to protect her in that phone conversation. Last week we also saw that there was still some good in Walt as he tried to save Hank along with Skylar. On the other hand, he also turned Jesse over to the neo-Nazis and unnecessarily told Jesse about watching Jane die. Of course if Walt thought more, he wouldn’t have fallen for the fake pictures of the money, and previously wouldn’t have left that Walt Whitman book sitting around where Hank could find it. Considering the nature of the relationship between Walt and Jesse, it wouldn’t surprise me if either the two join together against the neo-Nazis or if one kills the other. I’m also sure we haven’t seen the last of Lydia, and Saul might have some role in how this all ends. Finally, is Huell still sitting in that room, afraid to answer the phone?

Michelle Dockery

Besides Dexter, Breaking Bad, and the Emmy Awards, tonight also marked the season premiere of Downton Abbey. Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) didn’t look as good on the show as she did in this photo shoot to commemorate the fourth season premiere. I’ll avoid any real spoilers. It should come as no surprised that Lady Mary starts out the episode quite depressed in an era where Prozac has not yet been invented. Very early in the episode viewers also learned about the first major crisis of the season as a servant left without giving notice. At least two of the characters were quite unlikeable.

Orphan  Black recently started on BBC Three. Digital Spy asks if it lives up the hype. After seeing the full first season, the answer is yes.

Trailer for the second season of Revolution above.

With James Spader staring, Blacklist is high on the list of new shows to try.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Batman, Star Wars, JK Rowling, SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, Utopia, Breaking Bad

Doctor Who

The BBC has released the above poster for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, to be named The Day of The Doctor. It will be the second from last episode staring Matt Smith, also staring David Tennant and John Hurt.

Steven Moffat discussed filming the final episode with Matt Smith at the TV Choice Awards, where Doctor Who won for Best Drama Series. David Tennant won the Best Actor award for his role on Broadchurch. Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife won for Best Actress. (Jessica Raine,who plays Jennie Lee on Call the Midwife, played Emma Grayling in the Doctor Who episode Hide and has a role in the upcoming movie on the development of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.)

Peter Davison

Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While he has confirmed the appearance, he states he is unable to give any specifics. My suspicion is that he has a cameo role in the special but does not reprise his role as the Doctor unless the story can give a plausible explanation for showing a former version of the Doctor who has also aged. Pictures appeared on line of Tom Baker in his scarf starting rumors that he would also appear but it turns out it was to film a skit for another show.

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In follow-up of the controversy I mentioned last week, TrekMovie.com has posted another opinion arguing that Star Trek is Not  Broken. Those who are not happy with how J.J. Abrams is handling Star Trek might be happy to hear that he will not be directing the next Star Trek movie now that he will be busy with Star Wars. I fear that this won’t change many of the problems cited by fans but at least it might mean less lens flare.

There has been even more controversy over the choice of Ben Afflect to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. The CEO of Warner Brothers defended the choice, describing this Batman as “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while.”

Besides the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Disney is going to take advantage of buying the rights by putting out additional movies. Variety reports that they will be origin movies. There will be a lot of Star Wars as “one ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film or ‘origin story film’ would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”

Warner Brothers is returning to a recent major source of income for the studio. J.K. Rowling is going to write a new movie series taking place in the Harry Potter universe. After recently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I think she does have a better future in writing such movies then detective novels, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I read several far more entertaining novels over the summer, and there are plenty of similar mystery series already out there.

Grant Gustin of Glee will play The Flash on Arrow, and potentially on a spinoff show.

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Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gawker reports that some of the scripts were not very good and Joss Whedon had to rewrite them. The web site for the series is now on line.

The Detroit News reviews another new genre show, Sleepy Hollow. More on the show at TV Line.

ABC is working on an alternate reality series which sounds interesting. The show, entitled The Thirteen, takes place in an alternative present day in which the colonies did not win independence from England and are still fighting the English for independence.

Paul Krugman and John Amato both recommend Orphan Black, which I certainly agree with.

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Utopia writer Dennis Kelly has discussed conspiracy theories, over population, and the second season of the series:

There’s going to be a second series of Utopia isn’t there?

There is. It’s currently being written. It’s being filmed in two months [speaking on the 22nd of August]. I’ve got two months before the first block. You film it in two blocks so episodes one, two and three, and then four, five and six. Marc Munden who directed one, two and three, and really set up the look for Utopia – and that’s what people talk about a lot when they talk about Utopia – he’s a brilliant director, more like a filmmaker than a TV director really, and he’s fantastic to work with. He’s come back and he’s going to do the first block again. He has a much more involved role in the whole series, which is great.

Can you give us any ideas about what series two might contain?

We’ve got a very odd first episode, which people are either going to really like or really say ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ and I’ve got no idea what the reaction’s going to be. Some of the characters are coming back, you’ll definitely see Arby again, and Jessica. There’s a lot of people dead unfortunately and a lot of people will die [laughs].

Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?

I think I do, I think so, yeah. Not necessarily a good one. [Laughs].

Luc Besson is interested in doing another movie in the world of The Fifth Element.

Trailer for Last Days on Mars posted here.

The cast of Dexter teased the finale.

Joking Bad, Jimmy Fallon’s parody of Breaking Bad, can be viewed above. The series ends this month. A spinoff is being considered based upon Saul Goodman before he became Walt’s lawyer. The Hollywood Reporter lists Saul’s top moments.

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SciFi Weekend: The 12th Doctor; The Next Batman; SHIELD And The Avengers; Captain America; Star Wars; Star Trek; Homeland; Dexter; The White Queen; Piracy

Last week white smoke emerged from the BBC and soon afterwards Peter Capaldi was introduced as the 12th Doctor on a show simulcast in the U.K., the United States, Canada, and Australia (video above). BBC America has a run down on the news coverage. The Guardian introduces Capaldi to non-Brits.

Every time there is a regeneration, there is speculation that the next Doctor might not someone other than a white male. Neil Gaiman claims that a black actor has turned down the role. Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, and Jenna Coleman discussed the transition in this interview. An excerpt:

Is writing that final story for Matt Smith’s Doctor the biggest pressure you’ve faced, in doing this show?

MOFFAT:  The biggest pressure will always be introducing a new Doctor.  And I can’t imagine it will ever be tougher than with “The Eleventh Hour” because everything changed.  It’s not an ideal way to run television.  It really isn’t.  That was mad.  All the execs left, the producer left, and all the stars left.  You think, “Christ, how do you get away with that?!”  We’re not in that situation this time, and it’s good that we’re not.  People say, “It must have been great and exciting and marvelous that you had all that new stuff,” but not really.  But, we got away with it.  I just remember thinking, “Are people going to buy that this is the same show, when it clearly is not?”

Do you wish that you could just introduce the new Doctor via the show, when he finally shows up?

MOFFAT:  I’d love to, but that’s physically impossible.  It was Russell’s plan not to tell anyone that Chris [Eccleston] was going to change in the last episode, but it leaked after one week.  I wish it were possible.   The fact is that those actors’ agents have to say that they’re available.  They have to take jobs.  It’s going to leak, so you have to take command of that story.  It’s annoying.  I’d far rather not tell anybody anything, seriously.  If you’re telling a joke, you don’t want anybody telling the punchline before you get to the end.  Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible now.  Everybody wanders around with cameras now.  A few years ago, no one had a camera on them.  Now, every little human being goes around with a camera on their phone.  How am I going to keep secrets with that?!  It’s tough.  It can be irritating, but what can you do?

Moffat started with a new cast with both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. With Jenna Coleman still being relatively new to the series, the show with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman will have a different feel than during most of Moffat’s tenure with Matt Smith and the Ponds.

Now that we know who will play the next Doctor, the next major succession is who will play Batman when he appears in the next Superman movie. Rumor has it that Orlando Bloom is the leading contender.

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Joss Whedon discussed synergy between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the universe of The Avengers:

Speaking at the recent TCAs, Whedon said fans will spot some synergy in the run-up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World. “There will be as much as we can allow,” he said. “We’re still working that out. It’s a fun opportunity, but it’s not the reason for the show. It’s not an Easter egg farm, we want people to come back.”

The pilot kicks off with Angel alumnus J August Richards as an “unregistered gifted” that the SHIELD agents must track down. Don’t expect a superhero-of-the-week show, though, “There could be a device, a mystery,” Whedon continued.

“There’s so many aspects as to what’s happened since everybody in the world found out there’s a superhero team and aliens invaded New York. We want to be able to change it up every week: spy stuff, hero stuff, heartfelt stuff. We want to make sure the humor is there, but every week, you get something that feels a little bit different.”

Disney has also released a full synopsis for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

These Avengers-themed sex toys will definitely never be sold at the many stores around the Disney theme parks, even should the Avengers characters be moved from Universal to WDW in the future.

ABC is in talks to bring another genre show to television–a live action Star Wars show. I really hope this happens, not because I care whether there is a weekly Star Wars show but because maybe this would lead CBS (who appears to own the rights, but it is somewhat murky) to counter by returning Star Trek to television. Star Trek worked far better as a weekly series than intermittent movies which are forced by market demands to be big action movies.

After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, there was talk of expanding the Star Wars presence at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. I expressed skepticism over speculation that they would  get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground for this expansion. Earlier in the week I was looking at the refurbishment schedule at Walt Disney World and noticed that Muppet Vision 3D is closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment. In addition, the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground will be closed September 3 through November 19 for refurbishment. They might not be around forever, but it doesn’t appear likely that they plan to remove them in the near future. As is usually the case at WDW, other areas will also be closed during these times. The most significant is that Spaceship Earth will be closed August 18-24.

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On Orange is the New Black, Kate Mulgrew ran the prison kitchen instead of the Starship Voyager. She was interviewed by Vulture, and told about one Star Trek reference thrown into the show:

At one point Natasha Lyonne has a line, “I thought I was your Spock.”
Yes, they threw that in. I’m sure they’ll do some more of that. I think that was intentional and very clever!

Speaking of Star Trek, Blastr describes how the show was saved by Lucille Ball.

In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage.” It was rejected by the network, reportedly because it was “too cerebral,” and for most shows that’s where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that she still thought the Star Trek idea had legs, and used her considerable influence in television to push for NBC to give Roddenberry a second chance. The network made the exceedingly rare move of ordering a second pilot from Roddenberry, who overhauled almost the entire cast of characters from “The Cage” and eventually produced “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” That pilot was accepted, the show was given a series order, and the rest is history.

Damian Louis interviewed about his role on Homeland in the video above.

Anna Torv returns to television following Fringe in a show expected to air on HBO next year. Torv will play a lesbian yoga instructor.

Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay (Season 7, episode 6) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: dexter_706_0087

We don’t know yet how Dexter will end but executive producer Sara Colleton realizes that she can’t make everyone happy.

“This has been the ending that we have talked about for years,” she said. “So to us, it feels right for our show and how we feel about it. I hope fans will think it’s right [too].”

The exec conceded that there is no way to make “everybody happy” with the conclusion of the Michael C Hall series.

“At the end of the day, we know that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” she said. “There will be people who hate it, but we can’t try to anticipate that or put it through the lens of any other show’s finale – because that was another show.

“This is our show. This is Dexter.”

It is hard to believe that things will end well for Dexter Morgan. Multiple routes to doom have arisen this season. So far this has included Dr. Vogel and Deb when she is in a crazy mood. Last week episode showed two additional threats. He has decided he wants to be a mentor to Zach Hamilton, but Zach appears unhinged enough to turn on Dexter. Then there was the return of Hannah McKay.

Having a hard time waiting until Game of Thrones returns? The White Queen on Starz might help.

Piracy drops when there are legal ways to view shows. It comes as no surprise that piracy has spiked in response to the Time Warner cable blackout of CBS.
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SciFi Weekend: SDCC Part 1–SHIELD, Matt Smith, Sherlock, Big Bang Theory, Hannibal, Dexter, Orphan Black, Veronica Mars, Game of Thrones, and More

There’s a lot of news coming out of San Diego Comic Con. Here’s some reports on panels held so far, with more to come.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel is above. They also showed the pilot at ComicCon.  A description of the pilot can be read here.  Cobie Smulder will be reprising her role as Maria Hill in the pilot, and will have further appearances throughout the season.

Blastr has more:

The unofficial gag order surrounding the details of ABC/Marvel’s new drama, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., finally lifted at San Diego Comic-Con. With the unveiling of the pilot episode and the first press tour at the Con, we have a better sense of what the show will revolve around, aside from the mysterious return of assumed dead Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

According to executive producers Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb, the series will focus on the humanity and smaller scale heroics dished out daily in the S.H.I.E.L.D trenches.

“To me, the movies have always been about people,” Bell explains. “There are all these giant monsters and heroes, but there have always been really interesting humans. Nick Fury is just a guy.”

Loeb adds, “Out tagline is “not all heroes are super” and that’s really important to us. It’s not just a tagline but it talks about the human condition in a way that is really important.”

Bell continues, “Jeph has a thing that I really like, although we can’t say [mutant] on our show because that’s not part of our world, but he says every person has a mutant gift and your job in your life is to figure out what your mutant gift is and how best to use it. I think that’s really cool.”

The embodiment of that everyday heroism is Coulson, a character that has become beloved to audiences.

Why? “Easy,” says Bell. “Clark Gregg. He showed up in the first Iron Man with a couple of lines and people watching said he was interesting. Along the way, he got in a little bit more. In The Avengers they made him a fan. He liked the cards and S.H.I.E.L.D. history. He was the audience surrogate in the movies. You could be this guy who shows up and does his job around these superheroes and is taken for granted. The way Clark presents the lines, people love it, so he is our way into the world.

Matt Smith makes his final appearance as the Doctor at the Brave New Warriors Panel.

Geek Tyrant on the Sherlock Panel:

They dove right into last season’s cliffhanger: How did he survive? They aren’t telling, but they did know how it worked before they filmed it, so they aren’t just flying by the seat of their pants. It is a rational answer, not black magic. Depsite reports that Andrew Scott was back on set to film scenes for the third season, they swear Moriarty is actually dead. “What, did they fake suicide at each other? Were you faking? I was faking, too!” That’s not going to happen. As for speculation that he can’t be dead because they didn’t show the back off his head come off–sorry to say they just aren’t allowed to show that level of violence on BBC1.

Moffatt knows people are excited to learn how Sherlock managed it, but he doesn’t think it’s that interesting. That’s just an answer. But when John Watson realizes that Sherlock is alive, when they come face to face again? “That moment is electrifying.” And it’s funny. Moffatt calls it “the showstopper of the season.”

Moffatt always gives hints about what Sherlock Holmes stories the next season will hit, and for Season 3, he’s said, “Rat, Wedding, and Bow.” The first episode is called “The Empty Hearse” and is very slightly based on “The Adventures of the Empty House.” It is mostly an exploration of the affect of Sherlock’s “death” and reappearance on the people who loved him. The writers realized that there would be a lot of fallout from the events of last season, but they couldn’t spend all of this season talking about last season, so it sounds like they’re going to deal with it in this episode.

Episode 2 is called “The Sign of Three,” and seems to focus on Watson’s wedding, and you guys? They showed us a clip, and it was amazing! They asked us not to even tell anyone about it, but eff that noise! We’re at Watson’s wedding reception, and Sherlock is beginning his toast. Yeah, amazing. He begins awkwardly (of course), “John… John Watson…” and explains that when Watson asked him to be his best man, he was confused. Then it flashes back, to Watson walking in on Sherlock appleying a blowtorch to a disembodied eyeball, which he promptly dips in his cup of tea. Watson says that they need to talk about the best man, and Sherlock starts going on and on about who he thinks the best man is. Watson interrupts and says he means the best man at his wedding. Sherlock starts talking about one of Watson’s friends, Watson says not him, then another, Watson says that he isn’t his best friend, and says that at his wedding he wants the two people who are closest to him and mean the most to him by his side, and tells Sherlock that it’s him. Sherlock’s jaw drops. Cut back to the wedding, and Sherlock is explaining his reaction, how he told him how he was touched and honored… cut back to Sherlock still standing there, speechless. He knew it would be an important and difficult task… cut to Sherlock, still standing there, speechless. Sherlock says he then realized he hadn’t said anything out loud. Sherlock accepts, and promptly drinks the eyeball tea.

There wasn’t much information on the third episode but it was subsequently revealed that the title will be The Last Vow.

Mark Gatiss will be appearing in Season 4 of Game of Thrones. If this sort of combines Sherlock and Game of Thrones, how about combining two other genre franchises? What if Ned Stark and Tony Stark were brothers?

There were reports that the cast of  The Big Bang Theory wouldn’t be present at SDCC due to other commitments but Johnny Galecki made a surprise appearance, posing as a fan in costume waiting to ask a question and Melissa Rauch hosted the panel. Steven Hawking had the recorded message above.

The Hannibal DVD and Blu-ray will be released September 24 (same day as the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs), including  a gag real (video above)  and an unaired episode. No specific news on the unaired episode, but I want to see it. Screen Rant has this news from the panel:

HitFix kept a comprehensive live blog of last night’s Hannibal panel at SDCC, which featured show creator Bryan Fuller, director David Slade, producer Martha De Laurentiis and stars Hugh Dancy and Aaron Abrams. The team were pretty brave going up against an audience of fans after the rage-inducing season finale that left poor Will Graham behind bars, Hannibal Lecter smiling at him from the other side, and a whole lot of people throwing objects at their televisions. If you think that Bryan Fuller was enjoying Will’s pain, you’re absolutely right:

“Will knows something no one else knows, and it’s a great place to put a character. One of the things I was most excited about in Season 2 was seeing Will Graham hit rock bottom.”

Given the fact that Will spent most of season one hallucinating, perspiring, or doing both simultaneously, it will be interesting to see what happens when he really hits rock bottom. Apparently he will be “scrappy” and “feisty,” though, so that’s definitely something to look forward to. Season two will begin with a two-parter that will serve as “a new pilot for what the season can be” now that the old dynamics are gone and Will is in jail, and the third episode, according to Fuller, “will be a trial.” That sounds ominous.

Video of the full Hannibal panel follows:

The Dexter cast made their final appearance before the show ends and, not surprisingly, there were no hints as to how the show ends.

Walking Dead stars on a bigger season.

The Federal Express truck pulled up with my copy of the Blu-ray of the first season on Orphan Black. I haven’t seen any of it, but the reviews I’ve read this week have sounded fantastic. I’m avoiding the details to limit spoilers, but here’s a report on news of the second season of the show. More here and here. Video of the panel above. (I’ll come back and watch after I finish the first season).

Report on the DC Comics Panel here.

DC has its greatest success in movie adaptations with Superman and Batman. It will be necessary to reboot Batman once again for him to appear in the Justice League of America and in further solo films. It now appears that Batman might return in a joint movie with Superman. As for the last reboot of Batman, a panel even considered the question of whether Bruce Wayne was crazy for dating Catwoman. The Flash is the next DC character to get a solo film.

The Marvel universe is divided in the movies, with Sony holding the screen rights to Spider-Man. Information on plans for this series here and here.

Sneak peak at the Veronica Mars movie above. Those of us who donated through Kickstarter to make this movie possible are acknowledged in the clip. More on the movie here.

In Memoriam–Those who died on Game of Thrones.

Update: More Comic Con news posted here.

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SciFi Weekend: Dexter Returns; Prince Charles Does Dalek Impersonation; The John Hurt Doctor

Episode 801

There will be a short edition this week as I continue to vacation in the location of Somewhere In Time (although not because of the mediocre time travel movie).  I haven’t seen hardly any genre television, but did download the first episode of the season of Dexter and watched one night over the past week.

Dexter resumed six months after Deb shot LaGuerta, with Dexter holding up much better than Deb. However, as we know that this is the final season, there are a few possible situations developing which could lead to Dexter’s downfall. Deb says she shot the wrong person and, while so far I wouldn’t make this my top prediction, this could lead to her ultimately either killing Dexter or turning him (and possibly herself) in. Dexter killed the criminal which Deb was investigating/living with and didn’t dispose of the body in his usual manner, possibly leading him to become implicated either for this crime or becoming at risk from the criminals after the jewels. The biggest risk to Dexter may come from Dr. Vogel, who knows about Dexter’s past, having assisted Harry in developing the code. She is overly confident over her own safety, telling Dexter he cannot kill her because she doesn’t fit the code, considering that Dexter has broken it several times. From the previews it appears that she wants to use Dexter to kill off someone else, which is yet another potential source of danger for Dexter.

Vulture has an interview with Charlotte Rampling, who plays Dr. Vogel.

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Prince Charles did a Dalek impersonation and The Telegraph had some potential spoilers about the identity of the John Hurt (nothing which hasn’t already been speculated about on line).

Costume designer Howard Burden, who showed the royal couple a selection of costumes from the show, disclosed that the anniversary episode will feature John Hurt, who will play a “dark Doctor” seen briefly at the end of the last series.

He said: “There was a gap between Paul McGann playing the Doctor and Christopher Eccleston, when we didn’t see a regeneration, and John Hurt will fit into that gap. He is a past Doctor, not a future Doctor.”

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SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; American Gods; Dexter; Under The Dome; Terminator; Nudity in Game of Thrones; Catwoman; Put A TARDIS In Space

Hannibal - Season 1

Bryan Fuller has offered David Bowie a role in Hannibal, and revealed more about his plans for the second season:

“We have reached out to David Bowie to see if he’s interested and available,” Fuller reveals. “We would love for him to play Hannibal’s uncle, who is a character from the literature and in the books.”

Fuller explains “we don’t have an answer yet,” but is hopeful Bowie can join the NBC series, which resumes production in August in Toronto.

Hannibal’s uncle, Count Robert Lecter, was killed by Nazis in the books, but “since our timeline is a little more present,  there’s a little bit of J.J. Abrams-style alternate universe storytelling where he could still be alive,” Fuller explains.

Another pivotal role in season two will be that of Barney, an orderly at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where Will Grant (Hugh Dancy) will be kept captive. “That will be some fun stunt casting,” says Fuller. “I would love to bring in Chi McBride, if he’s available. There are so many great actors I would love to work with.”

Not much of season two will be taken from the literature, according to Fuller. “We’re going to see Will Graham [Dancy] institutionalized and what we know from Red Dragon, the backstory that is given, which is very, very thin, explains that Will Graham was so psychologically compromised from investigating the Minnesota case that he had to be institutionalized. And that’s sort of one sentence that we can do quite a bit with. As you can see from the first season, we held true to that backstory in a very faithful way, but obviously we took huge liberties in how we interpreted that one sentence. So right now, for season two, we are in fresh territory with a chapter that hasn’t even been written by Thomas Harris. It’s exciting.”

SIT Blog

I’m pretty much limiting to links for now as I’m on vacation and will be at our summer offices at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island this weekend through next. Considering where SciFi Weekend is currently coming from, I must note the recent death of Richard Matheson. Among his many works is Bid Time Returns which was turned into Somewhere in Time which was filmed here at Grand Hotel.

HBO plans to devout six seasons to an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. This makes me wish that Bryan Fuller had taken Hannibal to HBO. It is hard to see it surviving on NBC to complete Fuller’s seven year plan.

Michael C. Hall interviewed on the end of Dexter.

Under the Dome will (not surprisingly) differ from Stephen King’s novel.

The Terminator series is being rebooted as a new trilogy. This isn’t encouraging:

Another interesting factoid added by Deadline is that the rights to Terminator will eventually revert back to James Cameron in 2019, who has yet to be satisfied with any of the follow-ups and spin-offs that came after his two films. So they’re hauling ass to make three movies before that happens. Always a recipe for a quality product.

The Mary Sue recommends thirteen independent science fiction and fantasy movies.

Lena Headey on nudity in Game of Thrones:

I’ve said from day one that I’ve got no problem with nudity. I’ve done it throughout my career. But for this character, it’s been better for her regality and her feistiness to not bare her flesh until she has to. When it’s out of her control. And if that ever happens, it won’t be Cersei being seductive or sexy. She’ll be stripped. That kind of a scene will have more power if it’s not an everyday occurrence.

Here’s a rundown as to how the third season of Game of Thrones differed from the novel.

Starz has ordered a full season of Ronald Moore’s series Outlander.

I’m certainly not surprised that Catwoman isn’t really dead.

Here’s a device to convert your currency from different genre sources.

There’s a Kickstarter campaign to put a TARDIS in orbit.

Modern Family is considering a gay wedding following the recent Supreme Court ruling

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SciFi Weekend: Star Wars at Disney World; Lost Doctor Who Stories; Game of Thrones; Obama Cut From One Genre Show And Influenced Another; Emma Watson; Mad Men; True Blood; Dexter; Hannibal; Man of Steel

star-wars-theme-park

Disney makes it profits by using each of its holdings to promote its business. The theme parks promote the television shows, movies, and merchandise and vice versa. Disney has long  had an arrangement with Lucasfilms  with Star Tours at the Walt Disney Studios at Walt Disney World. Now that Disney owns the rights to the upcoming Star Wars movies, it is likely that there will be even more promotion in the parks. The latest rumors are of the addition of a Star Wars Land:

The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours ride. From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones stunt show theater. Given that the Indy theater’s used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.

This appears to be a five-year project, putting completion in 2018, though Disney could choose to throw money at it and accelerate it by a year.

I wonder if they will really disrupt much of what is already there as opposed to mixing more Star Wars throughout the park. It is common for Disney to mix up different things from different movies throughout their parks. Will they really get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids park? While perhaps not as major as The Great Movie Ride or Tower of Terror, I’ve always seen Muppet Vision 3D as one of the icons of the park. Besides, Disney still has plans for those Muppets, such as a live stage show. We are long past the prime for the movie version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and I could see them remove this exhibit, but it is the best item at the Walt Disney Studios Park for small children.

A Star Wars Cantina would probably be the major addition, but this could be added at various places if there is not room near Star Tours. Increased character involvement in parades and character meets would not require removal of older attractions.  Increased use of Star Wars might not even be limited to Disney Studios.  I wouldn’t put it past Disney to create an exhibit at Animal Kingdom with creatures from the Star Wars Universe or turn Spaceship Earth at Epcot into a replica of the Death Star in time for the release of Star Wars VII. There’s little doubt that the monorail will be used to promote the movies.

In case you are wondering why characters from the Marvel movies are not flooding the Disney theme parks, Universal still owns the theme park rights to these characters. In addition, the movie rights to some Marvel comic characters, such as Spiderman, are owned by other studios. Of course we sort of got to see Iron Man at Epcot in Iron Man 2. The Stark Expo was clearly built in the image of Epcot and the film of Tony’s father looked considerably like old footage of Walt Disney discussing his idea for Epcot.

Joss Whedon isn’t “going Nolan” with Avengers 2.

Bleeding Cool reports on rumors of more lost Doctor Who stories which have been found–an added surprise for the 50th anniversary. This might include the lost first regeneration story. (Update: This may be a hoax. Awaiting further information).

Den of Geek gives a round up of this week Matt Smith replacement rumors.

Jaime Graphic

Now that Game of Thrones has concluded its third season, here are some amusing info-graphics to help explain what is going on. One example above.

Here’s an update to the relationship chart from Person of Interest. While I was initially fearful the show would just use the Machine as a gimmick for a crime of the week show, they have certainly developed a complicated mythology over time.

UNDER THE DOME

An adaptation of Steven King’s novel, Under the Dome, sounds like it might be the biggest genre television show of the summer. Barack Obama was initially heard on the first episode but the scene was cut. They had used a clip from Obama’s speech following Hurricane Sandy but decided against using real life events:

President Obama has been left on the cutting room floor of CBS’ new summer series “Under the Dome.”

An audio clip of the president that was in the first hour of the series that CBS sent to critics earlier this month will be cut from the episode that will ultimately air, a CBS spokesman said. The show, based on a Stephen King book, is about a small town that for mysterious reasons becomes enclosed under a huge transparent dome.

In the scene, which comes at the end of the first hour, Obama is heard amid a slew of fake reports talking about what is going in the town. The audio of the president is actually from his remarks following Hurricane Sandy when he said the nation feels “profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended. The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you and we are going to do everything we can…”

Although the standards and practices department at CBS had approved the use, a decision was made to cut it anyway on Thursday. While use of audio from actual news events for a fictional TV show is not unusual, the network and producer Amblin Television decided that having these remarks from a real tragedy inserted in an entertainment show was inappropriate.

Emma Watson at the premiere of The Bling Ring in Los Angeles

 Emma Watson returns to fantasy movies, and Barack Obama’s name comes up once again:

Harry Potter star Emma Watson is returning to fantasy cinema after signing on to play the lead in “Game of Thrones-style” saga Queen of the Tearling, reports Variety.

Watson will play 19-year-old idealistic princess Kelsea Glynn, created by Erika Johansen after the author heard a 2007 speech by a pre-presidential Barack Obama. Johansen signed a seven-book deal in February and the first novel in the series is due next year. It is set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe, when a malevolent Red Queen reigns over the kingdom of the Tearling. Glynn must defeat the monarch to reclaim her deceased mother’s crown, and publishers have compared the tone of the series with that of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which is being adapted by US network HBO as Game of Thrones.

Despite the comparisons between Megan Draper and Sharon Tate, Matthew Weiner says that Megan will not die this season. After last week’s episode, the question has now become whether/when Megan will find out what Sally saw and how she will react.

True Blood returns tonight with a new show runner. This might be better because the show really needed a change in direction. On the other hand, we might wind up with the same show but with a show runner who isn’t as good as Alan Ball and have an even worse show.

Dexter returns June 30 and we meet the woman who helped Harry develop The Code. Will bringing in someone who could figure out what Dexter has been up to lead to his end?

Just one more episode to go this season on Hannibal. Lase week we saw how a comb could be turned into a murder weapon, and the murder of another recurring character looks likely. For those who haven’t been watching from the start, it was a very good show for binge watching and highly recommended.

Da Vinci’s Demons is less compelling but I have now made it through the second from last episode and will try to catch the finale this week. I might give up on Defiance after four episodes. Even though SyFy had hoped this would be the next big thing after Battlestar Galactica,  there is little in the show so far to promote any long term interest in what happens to the new town. Moving beyond genre, I just finished the first season of Mr. Selfridge from ITV, also broadcast by PBS on Masterpiece Classic. It is more soap opera than serious historical fiction and fans of Downton Abbey should enjoy it. The show was light and entertaining to watch, and did an excellent job of utilizing plot threads from throughout the season to set up its finale.

I couldn’t make it to Man of Steel this weekend and will limit coverage to this link on the movie (which also gets back to Chris Nolan’s Batman, as in one of the links above).

Have a Happy Captain Picard Day

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Defiance; Continuum; Community; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Zooey Deschanel, Terrorist; And A Warning From The Future

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Hide looked like a ghost story, but this week’s episode of Doctor Who was actually a love story involving two couples (or maybe a third). The young assistant Emma was the real reason for Doctor showing up where he did, to see if the clairvoyant Emma could detect anything unusual about Clara, “the only mystery worth solving.” While nothing unusual was revealed about Clara, Emma did warn Clara about the Doctor’s icy heart. I suspect this will play a part in whatever is revealed in the season finale.

The episode picked up on the theme of the TARDIS not yet accepting Clara, but by the end they worked out their differences and went on to save the Doctor. Last week in Cold War it was necessary to contrive a way to get rid of the TARDIS to avoid a simple solution to being trapped in the submarine. This week did something which few too many episodes do–use time travel as part of a story. This did wind up leaving one time traveler just hanging around, possibly a loose end to come up in  a future episode. It also showed Clara the full meaning of time travel and the Doctor:

Clara: “To you I haven’t been born yet, and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years. Is my body out there somewhere, in the ground?”

The Doctor: “Yes, I suppose it is.”

Clara: “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”

The behind the scenes video is above.

This was actually the first episode filmed with the modern Clara Oswald, written by Neil Cross, who subsequently wrote The Rings of  Akhaten. Cross did better with his first attempt in Hide.  Like previous episodes since Doctor Who returned, there is an homage to a previous Doctor. This time it is John Pertwee’s Doctor, from a scientist with assistant (or is it companion?) using 1970′s oscilloscopes to the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. Will next week’s Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS include references to Tom Baker? I suddenly feel like some Jelly Bellies.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B

Hide played with Doctor What while Steven Moffat has made the question Doctor Who? a recurring theme.  The official synopsis for The Name of the Doctor, the final episode of the season is “Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him towards the one place in all of time and space that he should never go.” Moffat says we really will learn something we haven’t known about the Doctor, telling Radio Times: “There’s going to be a revelation. I’m not teasing. I’m not wrong-footing you – you’re about to learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before. And I think you’re in for a shock.”

River Song, who proved her relationship to the Doctor by being the only person to know his name in Forest of the Dead, will be returning in this episode. The Wedding of River Song included this warning:

“The Fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the eleventh and the question. The first question, the question that must never be answered hidden in plain sight, the question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? DOCTOR WHO?”

The fall of the eleventh has been interpreted as meaning the time of his regeneration, but it might mean something different if the Doctor’s name really s revealed, or this might not be the secret which is revealed. Even if his name is revealed, there would have to be more to the secret for it to be meaningful. Finding that his name is the Gallifreyan equivalent of John Smith would not mean very much. Perhaps the Grammar Daleks have been correct and  his real name is Doctor Whom.

There is yet another possible clue to a secret in this rumor about the 50th Anniversary episode:

…there are several sites claiming that two very reliable sources have independently revealed that John Hurt will be playing the real 9th Doctor :O Basically Eccleston, Tennant and Smith’s Doctor have either forgotten or have repressed Hurt’s incarnation for some unknown reason, and it is very possible that the secret due to be revealed in the season finale next month is that Smith is the 12th Doctor rather than what his real name is.

I suspect that if this is the case John Hurt’s character might not really be the Doctor, similar to the misdirection in The Next Doctor. The order of the Doctors has become ingrained too much to disturb this chronology. If Matt Smith’s Doctor really is the twelfth, it might give Moffat an opportunity to answer the question of the number of regenerations. Originally Time Lords had thirteen but obviously they will not end the show when this limit comes. There was a throw away line when David Tennant was in an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures claiming 507 but the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. They already have had two events in the new episodes which could alter the original limit. As the Time Lords have been overthrown, nobody knows if the old rules apply. There is also the possibility that the Doctor obtained additional regenerations when River Song gave up her future regenerations to save the Doctor’s life in Let’s Kill Hitler There is plenty of precedent for transfer of regenerative powers in Doctor Who, giving Moffat a number of possible routes. Plus, unless the number is extended, where will the Valeyard fit into this–or has the Doctor managed to avoid that fate?

Clark Gregg has a lot of information on S.H.I.E.L.D in the video above. Transcript below via Bleeding Cool:

If you watched The Avengers it was hard to miss the moment where that Asgardian bastard stabbed me quite thoroughly. And I died in The Avengers and it was a sad day because I loved Agent Coulson, and I loved going to the cons and hanging out with the Coulson fans. I was a little heartbroken. The Marvel guys said “You’re dead. You’re dead. But it’s the comics so it’s a different form of dead. Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again some day.”

I thought “You know what, I had a hell of a time playing this guy, I loved the death scene, I loved what Joss did so much,” to want any more of it felt greedy. So when I got a call a couple of months ago to say ‘We want you to come to New York Comic-Con. We’re going to announce that perhaps Coulson lives” I was very curious but also wasn’t sure that I was necessarily down with it.

I didn’t want to do anything to undermine the integrity of The Avengers and Joss didn’t either. So I had a conversation with joss and he explained to me that this [show] takes place after The Avengers, after ‘The Battle of New York’. I’m from New York, I’ve lived in a world after somebody has attacked New York, I know that there’s fall out.

The Avengers version of that world is a world that has superheroes and doorways to other dimensions and chaos. And the way Joss described to me the mystery that takes place in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in.

I don’t know you could not change going through what he went through in The Avengers. If he hadn’t gone through some kind of change it wouldn’t be any good. That said, I don’t know if he understands how much he’s changed.

It would be surprising to me if this was a world where there wasn’t some reckoning…the fact that there was some level of deception must have been perpetrated on The Avengers. It must have been.

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Defiance has been billed as the next big thing from Syfy but I was not very impressed. The computer-generated special effects looked fake and I just don’t see the point in computer generated graphics which fail to give a sense of reality to scenes which could not otherwise be filmed. The town of Defiance, which is St. Louis around thirty years after a war which has altered earth, provides a scene which could just as easily be an alien planet or a spaceship which contains civilians. Julie Benz is the mayor (or if this was a spaceship, she fulfills the traditional science fiction role of the Captain). In this case, the future looks like the old west, but is far less fun than Firefly. The backdrop will allow for a wide variety of stories, with stories which felt very familiar filling the two-hour premier. Now that we have the setting down, perhaps the series can move onto more original stories.

Continuum is returning to a second season. Star Rachel Nichols was interviewed here. An excerpt:

What can we expect from the new season?
The second season is very interesting. Obviously the first season was very centered on getting home. I wanted to go home. I would be friends with the baddies, I would partner up with Liber8, whatever it took to get home. It’s obviously still important to me in the new season. However, the theme of Season 2 is responsibility. Kagame had a speech at the end of the last season about how, if you drop a pebble on one side of the world, it will become a tsunami on the other. For Keira that’s very, very important, because she wants to get home to her husband and her son. Very early on in season 2, she starts asking questions: what am I going to be returning home to? Am I costing my husband and son their lives? Will they never be born? Will I never be born because of what I’m doing now? It’s a lot to wrap your head around!

This week’s Community brought up the dark timeline. There was also a lot of nonsense such as the group believing they failed, with the grade changing to a C to an F and back again, and a knot which was not a knot. It is clear that new producers David Guarascio and Moses Port do want to keep this show as offbeat and original as it was under Dan Harmon. They just don’t have the ability to pull it off.

Dexter will be returning for its final season. A sneak peak at part of the first episode is above. The final trajectory for the series is in motion, but a spinoff isn’t ruled out.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost teased tonight’s episode of Once Upon A Time by describing her character (after losing her memory) as “young, scantily-clad chick, Lacey.” Okay, she sold me on watching, even if it is on network television.

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Zooey Deschanel was identified on the closed captioning as the suspect being chased in Boston on Friday by one television station. Needless to say, it was a Fox channel. This is no more ridiculous (and false) than most of the type going by while watching Fox, such as identifying Barack Obama as a socialist from Kenya.

From 2068, above is a documentary on The Internet: A Warning from History. The Internet was one of the greatest disasters to befall mankind…

 

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