SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Inspector Spacetime, Karen Gillan, Elisabeth Sladen’s Daughter, The Future of Torchwood, Fringe, Downton Abbey

Last week two videos from the wrap party following the last episode of Doctor Who of the David Tennant/Russel T. Davies era surfaced on line. The first, which I posted last week, showed the cast and crew of Doctor Who set to I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3s4Czla6tXc

A second video, “The Ballad of Russell and Julie,” features David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman in a musical act to thank Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner for their excellent work on the series:

I have subsequently found this video, also set to 500 Miles, which contains clips from the show:

Earlier in the season, Community did a parody of Doctor Who entitled Inspector Spacetime, which was claimed to be a British science fiction show which started in 1962, one year before the real Doctor Who started.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRPeqaZiQ-M&feature=player_embedded

In light of all of the interest seen in Inspector Spacetime on line, it comes as no surprise that Community returned to Inspector Spacetime on this week’s episode:

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

If anyone is still trying to figure out the timeline for the relationship between River Song and the Doctor, BBC America has put out a helpful (but confusing) chart.

Bernard Cribbins has received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) medal for his contributions to drama. His roles include Wilfred Mott on Doctor Who in recent years. He also had a role in in the 1966 Doctor Who movie, Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

Sadie Miller, daughter of Elisabeth Sladen, was interviewed on BBC Breakfast about her mother and Sladen’s autobiography, which has been published posthumously:

Karen Gillan told The Mirror that when she completes her run on Doctor Who, she would like to have Amy Pond die:

DOCTOR Who star Karen Gillan wants her character Amy Pond to die.

The actress, 23, said: “Death would be an option. I don’t want Amy to pop up again every so often, because for me it would take away from the big, emotional goodbye.”

Karen reckons the next series could be Amy’s last – and she hinted that she could become the first doctor’s sidekick to die on screen.

“Once she’s gone, she’s gone,” said Karen. “I want people to remember the Amy Pond era as a good one.”

John Barrowman says the future of Torchwood remains in limbo:

Will there be a fifth season of Torchwood? Barrowman is briefly stumped. “If there’s a pause button, we’ve pushed the pause button now because we don’t know what’s happening”, he says. “I would love to do a new series and I will play Captain Jack as long as they want me to play Captain Jack, but it’s in limbo at the moment and beyond my control.” He’d love to see his creation on the big screen. “I think that Torchwood, more so than Doctor Who, lends itself to being a big film because it’s more adult”, he says. “Now if it was Doctor Who with David (Tennant) playing the Doctor – I’m going to get in trouble for saying this – I’d happily do a film with him.”

Fringe has returned after a hiatus for baseball. Peter Bishop is back, but to a timeline where he died as a child, nobody knows who he is, and several things have changed due to Peter not surviving. From interviews, such as the one below, it appears that they will be continuing in this timeline for a long time to come. Anna Torv also confirms that, as would be expected, Altlivia’s child does not exist in a timeline where Peter didn’t exist to get her pregnant:

Peter Bishop won’t have the reunion he was hoping for. His lady love, Olivia, doesn’t remember him, so his reappearance has no effect on her life. Anna Torv, who plays Agent Dunham, revealed, “He’s never existed and doesn’t exist in this universe. He’s the one entering this world … whereas Walter and Olivia and Astrid have made do. This is how we’ve always known [life] to be.” Can you say odd man out?

With the timeline change, certain events have been put on the back burner or erased completely. For example: Whatever happened to baby Henry? The child of Alt-Olivia and Peter just wasn’t meant to be. Torv says, “There’s no possible way that Henry could happen in this timeline, because Altlivia never met Peter.” We knew that would happen, but part of us still wondered if he had a shot.

As for Walter, he won’t embrace Peter with open arms. It might take a whole season (or more) for the duo to return to normal. Walter’s portrayer, John Noble, claims the pair’s relationship “might” get back on track “if Walter acknowledges this is his son from a different dimension,” which sounds like a tough pill to swallow. Considering the amount of time Walter’s spent mourning his death, we don’t expect him and Peter to become a big, happy family overnight.

The second season of Downton Abbey concludes tomorrow and a third season has been announced. The second season, largely taking place during World War I, has been excellent–far too good to wait for it to air in the United States. PBS has this preview for those who are waiting for the US airing:

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who? The Wedding of River Song

Like last year’s season finale, The Big Bang, Doctor Who ended the season by resetting the universe and with a wedding. The Wedding of River Song mostly answered the questions raised over the past season of Doctor Who. Earlier episodes of the season provided two possible ways in which there could be a replica of the Doctor who might be the one to die at Lake Silencio. A two-part story  earlier in the season (The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People) dealt with doppelgangers, including one who had replaced Amy Pond. Let’s Kill Hitler introduced the Teselecta, a time traveling ship with miniaturized people which takes the shape of a person. I thought that the Gangers were a more plausible explanation for who took the Doctor’s place, believing that a Ganger would be more likely to go into a regeneration cycle than a Teselecta if shot, but apparently Steven Moffat didn’t see it this way. I imagine that the Doctor, knowing that the Teselecta was going to simulate his death, managed to develop the appropriate special effects to make the death scene look convincing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqFB7I14VIY&feature=player_embedded

In order to create the drama for this season, as well as to prevent the Doctor from changing history to solve other problems,  the concept of a fixed point in time was established. The Doctor revealed in The Fires of Pompeii that he couldn’t change the events of history as this was a fixed point. Similarly the destruction of the base in The Waters of Mars was a fixed point in time which could not be changed. But what happens if a time traveler does change the events of a fixed point?  The Wedding of River Song showed what happened when River Song did change a fixed point by initially failing to kill the Doctor. When River failed to kill the Doctor, there was a bizarre traffic jam in time, in which events from a variety of eras got lumped together:

The description of a time traffic jam in the above video is preferable to the description given by Winston Churchill of all of history happening at one time. Even though the clocks did not move, there was obviously a concept of time as events were occurring. We saw Charles Dickens being interviewed about his upcoming Christmas story despite the fact that the calendars were not moving towards December 25, and we saw the Holy Roman Emperor (Winston Churchill) seek out the Doctor, who had previously been imprisoned. All of history could not have been happening at once or we would have seen every British leader in history, along with everyone else who has every lived in London.

Seeing time getting messed up made for memorable scenes, regardless of whether it made sense. Additional highlights of the episode included an homage to Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) while an off-screen homage to Elisabeth Sladen started the season, the homage to the Indiana Jones movies, River seeing the Doctor in the eye of the Teselecta, and “Pond, Amy Pond.” It seemed totally consistent with her character to have Amy remember the Doctor as opposed to wasting time in the episode finding a way to restore her memory, but I wonder what the people around her thought of all the weird pictures on her wall. In other revelations, the eye patches turned out to be “eye drives,” a way in which to store memory of the Silence, and there was more foreshadowing of the Doctor’s future. Some questions have not been answered, such as where the picture of Amy holding Melody in the orphanage came from.

Some of the key events of the episode, such as the wedding of River Song and the death of Madame Kovarian, occurred in an time line which was reset. It appears likely that the wedding remains real based upon events in other episodes.  The major change to occur in this episode is that, after becoming too prominent a hero in earlier episodes, the universe must now think that the Doctor is dead. One possible explanation is that the Doctor can cheat the fixed point in time as he did  by remaining alive, but the history books must still record that he died at Lake Silencio. Presumably, if the Doctor could later reveal it was all a trick and he is alive he would have done so to save River from going to prison. Instead River must spend her days in prison and nights traveling around the universe with her husband, the Doctor. There is another possible interpretation below. More on River Song’s story was reviewed on Doctor Who Confidential, with a copy of the video posted here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXR3Jw4U0s4&feature=player_embedded

The God Complex gave the Doctor reason to question the prominence of his role. This episode caused him to realize that, “My friends have always been the best of me.” Besides changing the character of the Doctor into a hero who must act behind the scenes, the episode seems to foreshadow the Doctor’s future. Presumably talk of when the Eleventh will fall refers to the Eleventh Doctor, while the question in plain sight has been asked before: “Doctor Who?” Does this foreshadow the next regeneration, or just another moment in which the Doctor must cheat destiny and prevent his fate from taking place? Perhaps the survival of the Doctor ensures that it is the Silence who will fill at the fields of Trenzalore. The Doctor pretended to be trapped in order to surprise the Silence in Day of the Moon. I wonder if the real reason the Doctor must now appear dead is to once again surprise the Silence, to ensure that it is the Silence who fall and not the Eleventh.

Other than the Christmas episode, which has started filming, we will probably have to wait around a year for more new episodes. Doctor Who Confidential will not be around when the series resumes, having been discontinued due to BBC budget cuts. There is this one brief episode of Doctor Who to watch. The winner of a writing contest held among school children was filmed as a mini-episode, Death Is The Only Answer:

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SciFi Weekend: Scheduling for Doctor Who and Spin Off Shows

Last week’s news that Doctor Who had been renewed for fourteen episodes in 2012 turned out to be far less straight forward than initially believed. Word came from the BBC that many of the episodes will be held back until 2013, sparking a lot of rumors and speculation with no definite answer.

The current season will conclude in the fall of 2011, but it is not clear what will happen after that. Initially there was speculation that episodes would be held back in order to have around twenty episodes in 2013 for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.

My suspicion is that this move might be to shift the entire series back for future seasons, beginning in the fall as opposed to the spring. They might stick to the same pattern with two half seasons along with a Christmas episode, except we would have to go longer without episodes in the spring of 2012. In that case there would be fewer episodes airing in 2012 while returning to the usual number in 2013.

Yet another possibility is that the regular season might be an episode or two shorter in order to have specials before the fall of 2012 to break up the hiatus.

Steven Moffat has denied initial claims from the BBC that the schedule for Sherlock has anything to do with delaying Doctor Who. Beyond this, he has been vague regarding future plans, recently tweeting: “Dr Who: misquotes and misunderstandings. But I’m not being bounced into announcing the cool stuff before we’re ready. Hush, and patience.”

Meanwhile, Torchwood: Miracle Day begins in the United States on July 8 and in Canada on July 9. After years of being behind the U.K. on several shows, reportedly Torchwood will be aired on the BBC after the United States. The exact date has not yet been announced.

The final three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures filmed before the death of Elisabeth Sladen will air this fall on CBBC. There are no plans, despite some rumors, to continue the show with a different star.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut; Elisabeth Sladen; More Doctor Who News; Surviving Judgment Day; A New Roommate For Sheldon Cooper

Unless you were locked up in the Pandorica, you should know about the two big stories of the week: the season premiere of Doctor Who and the death of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). A video on Sladen’s career is posted above. My initial post on Elisabeth Sladen, which includes some major scenes from her career and tributes, was posted here. This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut, began with a message in memory of Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC broadcast. A memorial show was broadcast afterward on CBBC. The full video of My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen is posted here. David Tennant had this to say about Elisabeth Sladen on BBC Breakfast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkKUcf_HvKM&feature=related

More of the interview with David Tennant can be seen here. Tom Baker has a tribute on his web site.

Those who need a refresher coarse on forty-seven years and eleven Doctors before beginning this season can check out this video which recaps it all in just six minutes:

Both NPR’s Morning Edition and The New York Times had stories about how this season is starting on the same day in the United Kingdom, The United States, and Canada (and soon after in Australia) to reduce pirating of the show. When there was a several month delay, there would typically be 200,000 illegal downloads the week an episode aired. The article reports that BBC America will not air a new episode on Memorial Day weekend, and then be a week behind for the remaining June episodes.  That will get many US fans to resume downloading on the day it first airs.Even the several hour delay between airings will make downloading irresistible. I had a high definition copy hours before I could have watched a standard definition version on cable, but if I ever get a Nielsen box I promise to turn on BBC America when Doctor Who is on.

The Impossible Astronaut began both what is probably a season-long arc and a two-part story with events of a magnitude which is more characteristic of a season finale. Now that there is no longer a gap before the U.S. version airs, posts here on completed episodes will no longer avoid spoilers.

The episode began with a few minutes of fez hats and other fun before bringing Amy, Rory, and River Song to a meeting with the Doctor (now wearing a stetson) in Utah. While breaking out of prison was no surprise, I’m not certain as to how River Song managed to get to Utah in 2011, but she always has been a resourceful person. Soon afterward the Doctor was killed, and then shot again during the regeneration cycle by someone in an astronaut outfit, leading to the Doctor’s actual death. This left the three with no choice but to burn the Doctor’s body as it goes out into the lake.

Doctor Who Regenerates The Impossible Astronaut

Obviously we knew that the Doctor could not really be dead, and figured that it was all part of some sort of plan, considering that the Doctor clearly knew what was going to happen and told the other three not to interfere. He even arranged for gasoline to be delivered for his funeral pyre. This was delivered by ex-FBI agent Canton Delaware, played by the father of Mark Sheppard who played the ex-agent in the 1969 portion of the story.

Moffat used some of his “timey-wimey” stuff to continue the story with a younger version of the Doctor, which was anticipated after a point was made of the Doctor’s age when he first met up with his three companions. Theoretically the story could continue after establishing that the Doctor would die when two hundred years older, but this would mean no further regenerations and that Matt Smith would be the last actor to play the Doctor. It is more likely that they will resolve this by preventing the Doctor from actually dying, and this was confirmed in an interview with Matt  Smith.

While we generally know when watching a show that the main character will not be killed, Doctor Who has always appeared to place the main character in less danger  due to his ability to regenerate. This episode shows that the Doctor can be killed, and that the character can feel he is at risk when taking actions which might endanger his life.

Knowing this detail of the Doctor’s future changes the dynamics as this time it is the companions who knew more, leaving the Doctor feeling very uncomfortable. He finally agreed to trust his friends and do what they say when Amy swore on something very important to her, “fish fingers and custard.”

They traveled back to 1969, with the TARDIS materializing in Richard Nixon’s oval office. I had expected that they would make use of a pre-existing set, but Doctor Who Confidential showed the crew actually building their version of the oval office. The Doctor wound up getting involved with the mystery of a young girl calling Richard Nixon every night, regardless of where he was. A new villain, which Amy first got a glimpse of  in Utah, was present–The Silence. With the Weeping Angels, Steven Moffat created a threat which would kill you if you blink and stop looking at them. The Silence is even harder to fight as the moment you look away you forget that you even saw them. They were presumably behind the destruction of the universe last season, and Doctor Who fans are reporting evidence of their appearance in several previous episodes.

The Silence told Amy that she must tell the Doctor something, which probably explains why she suddenly told him that she is pregnant at what was not a very convenient time. Presumably their instructions, while forgotten the moment Amy looked away, remained somewhere in her mind. The episode ended with a cliff hanger in which we found that the little girl who had been calling Richard Nixon was in an astronaut suit. Amy, assuming this is the same person who had killed the Doctor, shot the girl.

The cliff hanger left a lot to speculate about. Was the little girl in 1969 the same person in the astronaut suit who killed the Doctor in 2011? Could the girl be Amy’s daughter? Perhaps it was River Song who was in the astronaut suit and killed the Doctor. We were reminded of River’s story (presumably to allow new viewers to catch up) and the Doctor even asked her who she killed.  (“No spoilers.”)  In Flesh and Stone River said she had killed “the best man I’ve ever known.” She also foreshadowed her own “death,” at a time when the Doctor would no longer know her, in Forrest of the Dead. Perhaps River is even Amy’s daughter. Someone known as Pond just might name a daughter after another type of body of water. Hopefully we will get some answers next week in Day of the Moon:

Karen Gillan does say there will be a lot of revelations in an interview in the Scotsman.com:

“There are going to be a lot of revelations,” she suggests tantalisingly. “There’s one huge one that will change everything. Steven Moffat went around everybody and only told them the bits they needed to know, and we’re not allowed to discuss it with each other, which is really relevant for the whole story.”

Karen Gillan Amy Pond Doctor Who

In an interview with The Telegraph, Karen Gillan said she wanted to be like Robin Williams, or perhaps Birttany Murphy.  Karen Gillan’s interview with Craig Ferguson aired on Friday–a video is posted here.

In other Doctor Who news, Meredith Vieira and The Today Show will be traveling to the set of Doctor Who in May. Vieira will have a cameo role on the show.

Doctor Who has been nominated for three Hugo Awards, including two stories written by Steven Moffat, A Christmas Carol and The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang. A third episode of Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor written by Richard Curtis also received a nomination. In addition, a nomination went to a book entitled Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea.

Steven Moffat is vague in talking about Neil Gaiman’s script, but does tell us he is giving the Daleks a year off:

The TV boss and lead writer has opted to give the aliens a rest in 2011.

He wants to give them another make-over and bring them back with a bang next year.

Diehard fans hated the multi-coloured fat Daleks from the last series and dubbed them Dipsy, Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa and Po after children’s favourites the Teletubbies.

Moffat said: “We will bring back the Daleks.

“But there will be lots of different kinds.

“I want them to come back in a really brilliant way.

I started the post by noting there were two important events this week. Fortunately we escaped a third. According to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, April 21, 2011 was Judgment Day, when the machines rose up to destroy most of humanity. We might have already been on borrowed time as the original Terminator movie set Judgment Day on August 4, 1997.

And, finally, there is news that Sheldon Cooper is getting a new roommate on Big Bang Theory. It will be someone we already know:

As teased in the new issue of EW, everyone favorite creature of habit is parting ways with his longtime roomie, Leonard.

“You have a situation where Priya is staying with her brother, and Leonard is spending time with Pryia,” executive producer Billy Prady says. “The current sleeping arrangement isn’t the best one. I think a little experimentation with people in different spots [is necessary].”

But who is the (un?)lucky soul to take Leonard’s spot in the apartment? Prady wouldn’t say, specifically, but guarantees, “It will be a human, and it will be someone we know.” Prady elaborates: “One of the things that Sheldon will [learn from] his new roommate — temporary or permanent, we don’t know — is just how long Leonard has been skating by. He’s going to have a terrific experience with this new roommate.”

The author speculates that it will be Amy Farrah Fowler. That is a definite possibility, but the two are so much alike. There could be far more conflict if Penny moves in with Sheldon to save money. There is already a bizarre chemistry between the two.

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My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen–Full Video

My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen as aired after the season premiere of Doctor Who. The episode on BBC One also began with a dedication to Elisabeth Sladen. We’ll have to wait another 30 minutes to see what BBC America does.

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So Long, Sarah Jane–Elisabeth Sladen Dies Of Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Spy has some reactions to Sladen’s death:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Immortal, But Could Have Been a Woman; Next Season To Begin In US; Sherlock To Air In US

Tom Baker Doctor Who

This week I’m taking a break from the currently airing shows and will catch up on some Doctor Who news, extending to another work by current Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat. Incidentally, note how much of the Doctor Who news comes from leading newspapers in Great Britain, where events on the series often is big news.

Doctor Who has been able to continue since 1963 by having the lead character be able to regenerate should he die, paving the way for another actor to play the role. In a 1976 episode, The Deadly Assassin. the fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) revealed that he can only regenerate twelve times. The writers never suspected that he could use up all thirteen lives. Now that we are up to the eleventh Doctor and it appears the show will continue for several years, most fans have probably assumed that they would work in a way around this limitation.

With current show runner Steven Moffat being a big fan of the original episodes, I had hoped Moffat would stick to canon here (not that the show has ever been that consistent) and have the Doctor find a way around this limitation. There is precedent for this, as the Time Lords once gave the Master a second set of lives for helping the Doctor. Instead of trying to find a way around the limitation, the show is simply ignoring the old limitation. The Guardian reports:

Fans have always thought that the 13th doctor would be the last, thanks to a 1976 Doctor Who episode, The Deadly Assassin, featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor in his fourth incarnation, and revealing for the first time the regeneration limit. But a passing comment in a children’s television programme later this month is set to rewrite history and cast the Doctor, iconic hero of the world’s most successful and longest-running science fiction series, as immortal.

The moment comes in the CBBC spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which stars former companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Matt Smith, who plays the current Doctor Who, guest stars in a two-part episode called The Death of the Doctor, to be screened on October 25 and 26. While the Doctor and Clyde Langer, played by Daniel Anthony, are in the process of outwitting spooky vulture undertakers the Shansheeth, Clyde asks how many times he can regenerate. The Doctor indicates that there is no limit. The action continues.

Fans of the show have been expecting an official moving of the goalposts for some time, but it was anticipated as part of the Christmas special, rather than in an after-school slot on the CBBC channel.

Back in 1976, 12 regenerations must have felt like a safely distant number to pluck from the ether. Now, however, with Smith playing the character in his 11th incarnation, circumventing the rule has begun to feel rather urgent. As JK Rowling hinted last week, once a hero has conquered the world, it is hard to put him away for good: we may also see an extension to the seven-book Harry Potter franchise, despite its very final ending and Nineteen Years Later epilogue.

All of the regenerations have been male, but at one time there actually was consideration of having a female Doctor according to The Telegraph:

Sydney Newman, who devised the long-running science-fiction show when he was head of BBC drama in the 1960s, was asked to help after the show suffered a slump in ratings in the 1980s and was taken off air temporarily.

He told Michael Grade, then the controller of BBC One, that the ailing series could only be saved by regenerating the Time Lord into a Time Lady.

Mr Newman criticised the direction the show had taken, but insisted that it could be revived by turning the lead character into a heroine.

Had the advice been accepted, actresses who could have been considered for the role include Frances de la Tour, Joanna Lumley and Dawn French.

Instead, the BBC played safe and replaced the incumbent Doctor, Colin Baker, with another male actor – Sylvester McCoy, a little-known children’s entertainer.

The idea included a transition period, returning Patrick Troughton to the role.

Mr Newman urged the controller to temporarily reintroduce Patrick Troughton, a former Time Lord, to steady the TARDIS and pave the way for the most radical change in the show’s 23-year history.

He wrote: “At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman.

“This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.

“Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character.”

He called for the female time traveller to be accompanied by a trumpet playing schoolgirl in “John Lennon-type spectacles” and her graffiti-spraying “yobbo” elder brother.

The plan was not tried, and the full idea wouldn’t have worked as Patrick Troughton died six months after the letter was written.

Matt Smith Doctor Who

The show took years to recover, with Matt Smith being the third Doctor since the show was revived. The duration of Smith’s tenure has been a subject of rumor ever since he started playing the role.  Nobody knows how long he will stick around, but he has expressed interest in doing a movie (although the BBC says this is unlikley for budgetary reasons):

Matt Smith has revealed that he would be thrilled if the BBC decided to make a Doctor Who movie.

The actor, who joined the show at the beginning of the year, admitted that he would love to star in a film adaptation of the BBC One show.

He told the Daily Star Sunday: “I’d definitely be up for staying on if they did a film –
hell yeah. I would be thrilled if there could be a movie version – I want them to do it.

“There is something brilliantly televisual about Doctor Who but I think it could definitely work as a film.”

The sixth season (since the show was revived) will start with a two-part episode taking place in the United States in the 1960’s. It will be written by Steven Moffat and Alex Kingston will be returning as River Song. The BBC reports:

Scenes will be filmed in the Utah desert for a story set in the late 60s in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves on a secret summons to the Oval Office.

The episodes have been written by new series boss Steven Moffat and co-produced with BBC America.

Production starts in Cardiff this month with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

Alex Kingston will reprise her role as River Song.

Moffat said: “The Doctor has visited every weird and wonderful planet you can imagine, so he was bound to get round to America eventually.

“And of course every Doctor Who fan will be jumping up and down and saying he’s been in America before. But not for real, not on location – and not with a story like this one.”

It has been announced previously that series six has been split into two blocks, with the first airing on BBC One in spring 2011 and the second block showing in autumn 2011.

Sherlock

Another BBC series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be premiering in the Unites States this month (although I bet most Doctor Who fans have already found ways to get a hold of the BBC episodes). Masterpiece Mystery on PBS will start airing Sherlock on October 24. Three episodes (and an unaired pilot) were done for the first season, with the show renewed for a second.

The series updates Sherlock Holmes stories to modern times but manages to remain faithful to the originals. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the title role, also seems remarkably like Doctor Who, leading to rumors he might be given the role should Matt Smith leave. He lacks a Tardis, but does have a companion. In this case Dr. Watson has a blog instead of a journal. Sherlock especially seems like The Doctor in the first episode, A Study in Pink, which is based upon early story in which Sherlock Holmes was more eccentric. I’ll avoid talking about any specifics of the stories which have not yet aired in the United States.

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

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

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

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

Romana Doctor Who

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

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

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

Sherlock

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

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

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

Julie Benz

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

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

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

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SciFi Friday: Journey’s End On Doctor Who For Russel T. Davies, Billy Piper, and Catherine Tate

Russell T. Davies brought together all of The Doctor’s companions from the past four years as he concluded his final regular season as show runner in Journey’s End. This post contains many spoilers and I advise those watching on the Sci-Fi Channel to hold off on reading until they have aired the episode.

The episode was written as a vehicle to bring together the various companions, and tie up at least one loose end. It concentrated far more on creating a series of big scenes as opposed to a really coherent story. There was a tremendous number of faults, from the Daleks not noticing their captives escaping to the earth being literally dragged through space. There were scenes of Daleks attacking the earth but it turned out that they were irrelevant once their final plans were revealed. There was no need to be attacking in this manner when, if their plan succeeded, all non-Dalek life would have been exterminated when the reality bomb was activated.

The cliff hanger from The Stolen Earth was along the lines expected but the specifics were different from what many predicted. The Doctor did not regenerate into a new form as he used the severed hand to the regeneration once he was healed. While the possibility of two Doctors being created was considered, it was a surprise to see both of them being in the form of David Tennant, with one being half-human. This did serve as a conclusion for the love story which gradually developed between Rose and The Doctor as Rose would now be able to have a half-human version of The Doctor who could both return her love and grow old with her. American audiences are now seeing Billie Piper (and quite a bit of her) on the Showtime series Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Donna’s fate was not as happy. She had several minutes of glory as a Time Lord but she had to have her memory of her time with The Doctor erased.

Elisabeth Sladen has stated she believes this will also be the last time she will be appearing on Doctor Who, but she will be continuing on with The Sarah Jane Adventures.  The episode ended with Martha and Mickey leaving with Jack. Jack did offer Martha what he billed as a better job than returning to U.N.I.T. Perhaps Martha, and possibly Mickey, will join Torchwood following the death of two regulars at the end of last season, assuming Freema Agyeman’s new role does not interfere with this.

Next season David Tennant will be appearing in Hamlet with Patrick Stewart and instead of a regular season there will be four Doctor Who specials, beginning with the usual Christmas episode. Teasers airing at the end of Journey’s End reveal that it will feature the Cybermen. Being free from a weekly series, Russel T. Davies can move on to other projects, as he told The Daily Mirror:

“I have got about 27 ideas boiling in my head and that is the main reason why I’ve left,” he says. “I love Doctor Who and I never want to go off it or get bored. Right now I want to go and work on series five, but I know that means it is the right time to leave.

“I get a lot of people who want me to come and make a family drama for them. But having done Doctor Who I have done the best – anything else would pale in comparison.

“I have almost got to go and do adult stuff, something a bit cheeky or sexy.

“I will just see which thing comes to the front of my mind first and start with that.”

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SciFi Friday: Doctor Who Conclusion (Spoilers for US Viewers)

It is a slow week in the United States with the 4th of July holiday. The SciFi Channel is taking a week off from Doctor Who due to the holiday, but this has been a very interesting week for those watching in the U.K. and those of us downloading the episodes after they are shown there. This post contains very major spoilers and those watching on the SciFi Channel might want to hold off on reading. The spoilers are far more significant than the news which leaked ahead of time that the Daleks play a major part and that Davros has survived. If you read further, you have been warned.

The Stolen Earth is part of an effort of Russell T. Davies to really go out with a bang as he concludes his tenure as show runner. The earth is literally stolen and then attacked by a new Dalek race cloned directly from Davros. The story brings together all of the supporting characters who have been companions to The Doctor since the series returned: Torchwood’s Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Dr. Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) unite to battle the Daleks.

The Doctor is reunited with Rose in the final moments but gets mortally injured, setting up the tremdous cliff hanger for the finale, Journey’s End. The episode will be an extended sixty-five minute show. Having the earth in danger is not a big enough cliff hanger for Davies to end on as viewers would have no doubt that The Doctor would manage to save the earth. Instead Davies came up with the biggest cliff hanger possible as The Doctor began to regenerate.

There are many possible ways for this cliff hanger to play out. It could turn out to be a failed regeneration and The Doctor might remain in the form of David Tennant. The other extreme is that David Tennant really is leaving and they have done an incredible job of keeping this a secret in Great Britain, where a change in the actor playing The Doctor really is big news.

I suspect that something in between these two extremes might occur. There very well might be a new Doctor formed from the regeneration, but the question would be how long he (or she) would be around. The episode might end with a cosmic reset, which would be easy to do with the current story possibly occuring outside of normal time.

Another consideration is that there might be two Doctors for some time. We might both have a new Doctor for the regeneration and there has been speculation that the David Tennant form will be cloned back from the severed hand in the Tardis. This would be a way around the limit in regenerations which are possible, allowing the series to continue for many years to come. If there are two doctors, this might even last through next year as instead of a regular series there will be special episodes, with Tennant not necessarily staring in all. Perhaps whatever happens in the season finale will not be totally resolved for another year.

The fate of David Tennant’s Doctor is not the only question. Donna is not expected to return as a companion next year. She might simply return home with her family, or other possibilities exist. There has been speculation that the reason Donna has been able to control The Tardis is that she is actually a Time Lord, possibly The Rani. Maybe Catherine Tate will regenerate herself by the end of the season but her character will remain in the series.

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