SciFi Weekend: Revolution Finale; Doctor Who; Star Wars; SHIELD; Once Upon A Time; Hannibal; The Fall; Game of Thrones

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Revolution concluded its first season with what was essentially a two-part finale. They reached the Tower and found multiple excuses for changes in alliances and lots of fights. There were far too many implausible aspects to the story to discuss, including a drainage system several levels underground which leads to the outside and a door which was built to stand up to nuclear attack but which was easily penetrated when in door fights were on the filming schedule.

Aaron, the Google Guy, turns out to have written the operating system for the Tower as a student and it was sold to the Department of Defense, making it easy to turn the world’s electricity back on near the end. Remarkably the lights in buildings around the world are still on and waiting, with all wiring still intact. The president of the Georgia Republic calls on her staff to get their tanks and helicopters ready now that they have power. Was she collecting them in the years with no power anticipating such a moment?

Nora was killed off to make room for a Rachel/Myles romance with a triangle too complicated a concept for this show. Sawyer might also reunite with Juliet. I’m not sure how Grace fits into this, being with those guarding the Tower after having been captured.

Randal apparently has been planning for this moment all along, even though he never gave any indication of wanting to get to the Tower until Monroe found out about it. As he was surprised that the security system didn’t allow him in, it isn’t clear why he didn’t just go there earlier on his own or with allies (considering how many back doors there appear to be). He then revealed a rather drastic plan of launching ICBM’s towards Philadelphia and Atlanta and then shooting himself. He says he is a patriot and you can’t have a house divided against itself. Apparently only these two areas are considered a threat to the old United States government which is in hiding at Gitmo and now planning to return.

Presumably having the guy who wrote the operating system will allow them to take control and prevent the ICBM’s from hitting their targets. Perhaps this will cause the electricity to go off again. Or maybe they will even allow for Philadelphia and/or Atlanta to get destroyed and center the story in other parts of the country. While it is a plus that the story keeps advancing, one problem with the show is that nothing really seems to matter. We have a setting with the United States destroyed. Add a city or two which are bombed, or have the electricity on or off. The show just is not well written enough to really make me care about these outcomes (but does have me curious enough to keep watching despite all the faults in the show).

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If you read the speculation and rumors on line it seems like everyone except Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman know which actor (or actress) will play the Doctor when Matt Smith leaves. Supposedly Wil Wheaton knows. Today The Telegraph claims the part was offered to Rory Kinnear, who denies any knowledge of this.

Jenna-Louise Coleman  got to meet the Queen and discuss time travel with her.

Before Guardians of the Galaxy (and after Doctor Who), Karen Gillan is staring in the romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending. Trailer above.

J.J. Abrams discussed plans for Star Wars Episode VII:

Abrams spoke in only general terms about how he’ll approach the latest “Star Wars” and would not comment when Hudlin pressed him on whether the film will be derived from any of the “Star Wars” novels.

“It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”

Star Wars fans might be wary after how Abrams handled Star Trek. Destroying Vulcan did not revere what came before, and I don’t think it was honoring it either. At least Abrams couldn’t possibly do as much harm to the franchise as Lucas did with the three prequel movies.  Time will tell whether more Star Wars is a good thing, but sometimes it is best to stick with a classic as opposed to trying to turn one into a series of less successful movies. It is possible that Star Wars might wind up the best if left as a classic trilogy.

New promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. above. Samuel L. Jackson has expressed interest in guest staring. It would be a good way to enhance continuity between the show and the Marvel movies. More about the Whedon universe from an  interview with Joss here. Cast interviews here.

Once Upon A Time’s audience is probably not primarily hard core genre fans, but with so many genre shows being canceled or ending their run it is now one of the most successful currently on network television. Here’s some news on how season three begins.

At times I think Hannibal is plotting to destroy Will, seeing him as a threat, but this week it looks like he wants Will for a friend. I also think that having Hannibal for a friend can turn out to be quite dangerous.

One of the many reasons to watch Hannibal is that Gillian Anderson appears on the show as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is a minor role which won’t completely satisfy Scully fans, but more of Gillian Anderson can be seen in The Fall. After hearing favorable things about this BBC 2 show I decided to watch this weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that Netflix has the entire series even though the finale has not yet aired in the U.K. The series trailer is above.

The show involves a serial killer, whose identity is revealed from the start, with Gillian Anderson’s character brought in to handle the case. The concept certainly isn’t anything new, but it is handled very well. In a review after the third episode, The Telegraph calls this the sexiest show on TV:

It’s taken a while but, at last, British TV cop drama has caught up with The Killing. As DS Stella Gibson in The Fall (BBC Two), Gillian Anderson gives us our own incarnation of Denmark’s Sarah Lund: cold, distant, brilliant, flawed but, above all, crackling with sex.

In fact, The Fall is the sexiest show on TV at the moment, which isn’t what you’d expect from BBC Two on a Monday. It’s also the most contrary: we’ve known from the outset, two weeks ago, that Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) is the killer. This is a whydunit, and a canhegetawaywithit, not a whodunit.

Unless British television is devoid of sexy situations I doubt this is really the sexiest show on television. It does go further than American network television can, and at least this characterization demonstrates that it isn’t just a dull police procedural. I am happy they already announced renewal for a second season as they leave a lot of things hanging in the finale (which airs tomorrow on BBC 2 and is already up on Netflix). The season ends with a change in the interplay between Gillian Anderson’s character and the serial killer, but things are far from resolved. After Doctor Who and Sherlock, this is now the British show I’m most anxiously waiting for the next season of. (Even more so than Utopia)

Continuum has been renewed for a third season.

Last week’s Game of Thrones was quite a shock for those of us who have not read the books. George R.R. Martin discussed the historical roots of the Red Wedding here. More at Entertainment Weekly.

 

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

Doctor Who Ice Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

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

She also discussed her relationship with the TARDIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SciFi Weekend: Larry Hagman Dies; Chevy Chase Leaves Community; Fringe; Revolution; When’s The Doctor?

The story which must lead over any other entertainment stories this week is the death of Larry Hagman. He is best known for the part of J.R. Ewing. In 1980 Dallas received a remarkable amount of publicity with a cliffhanger in which J.R. was shot (and recovered). The episode which resolved the mystery remains the second highest rated television episode of all time, and with increased fragmentation of the television audience in the age of cable, Dallas might hold onto this position.

Larry Hagman got to reprise the role of J.R. Ewing on a remake of Dallas which began last summer on TNT. Younger stars dominated the series (sometimes making the series feel too much as if it were Dallas 90210), but the presence of Hagman got the series off the ground. J.R. Ewing slipped into the background during part of the first season to open the way for the next generation, including Josh Henderson as John Ross Ewing III and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher Ewing, to battle each other. Hagman had filmed six of fifteen episodes of the second season, which begins on January 28. There is no doubt that the show will be rewritten to take J.R.’s death into account. A storyline about the death of J.R. Ewing in March is bound to be a ratings success.

This is not the first time that Dallas has had to deal with the loss of a major character, with Jim Davis (Joch Ewing) dying and Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing) leaving the series for health reasons. (Donna Reed also played Miss Ellie for one year, with Bel Geddes subsequently returning for an additional season). Bobby Ewing died in the eighth-season cliffhanger, with Bobby returning in Pamela’s shower at the start of season ten, making all of season nine a dream.

While J.R. Ewing could never be replaced, the remake of Dallas does feature other characters from the original series, with Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing) having regular roles. Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) have had recurring appearances. Joan Van Ark and Ted Shackelford are returning as Valene and Gary Ewing, roles which were primarily seen in the Dallas spinoff Knots Landing.

Hagman had many other roles, including some which could be classified as genre. The most notable of his other roles was as Major Anthony Nelson, an astronaut who was the owner of a 2000 year-old super being on I Dream of Jeannie. Other genre connections include a role in the first Superman movie and directing a low-budget sequel to The Blob, called Beware! The Blob.

Reactions from many who have worked with Hagman can be found here.

Community will also have to deal with the loss of a leading character. Chevy Chase (Pierce Hawthorne) left the show late in the filming of the fourth season. It was an abrupt departure so it is not known how it will be dealt with on the show. There might not be any need for an explanation unless the series makes it to s fifth season. The episodes were being filmed out of order with Chase present in the finale.

Chevy Chase had highly publicized conflicts with former show runner Dan Harmon, and his problems with the show were obviously not resolved after Harmon was fired. Chase’s character also often had a rocky relationship with other members of his study group, and the remainder of the ensemble cast could easily carry on without him should the show get renewed for a fifth season. #sixseasonsandamovie.

Fringe wrote a character, Peter Bishop, out of existence and brought him back during the fourth season. This was not one of the better arcs on the series. Show runner Joel Wyman agrees that this “didn’t work.”

“I get so much support from the media and from fans [and] I can’t be upset if they don’t like [something],” Wyman explained.

“Like the whole [season four] disappearance of Peter, I learned a great deal from that. It didn’t work. People didn’t like it and felt it was sort of stupid and didn’t get it.”

Wyman admitted that he now “totally” agrees with fan criticisms of the plot, adding: “I look back at it and consider it one of our missteps.”

“It didn’t work as well as we all thought it would,” he confessed. “We liked it and thought it was cool. But no matter how many times we told people, ‘No, Peter is still part of the show…’ everybody was saying, ‘Peter is not on the show so I’m not watching anymore!’ They didn’t get it.”

Revolution had a great scene last week in which Rachel made sure that she will still be needed by Monroe. She did kill a former coworker, but on the other hand he did betray Rachel in telling Monroe that it was a bomb which she was building. In the mid-season finale, all the major characters will be reunited in Philadelphia. TVLine interviewed co-executive producer David Rambo about the mid-season finale. He said that, “The finale will answer some questions, but it will pose even more because it is a really good cliffhanger. One of the big things that will be revealed actually, I believe, is what Monroe’s plans really are.” The second half of the season might also show what is occurring in the other republics.

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You might ask Where’s Waldo, but the question with the Doctor is not where but when. Flick Filosopher presented some pictures from this Gallifreyan Where’s Waldo?

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Angels Take Manhattan (plus Amy and Rory) Plus Other New and Returning Shows

We knew that the ending was coming even before the point early in The Angels Take Manhattan when the Doctor said he hated endings, Despite the few moments of hope after everyone returned safely to the present, we knew that this episode would mark the end of Amy and Rory on Doctor Who. Rory died three more times and Amy died twice, but the two ended the episode to live out their lives together in the past.

Having the episode take place around landmarks which are familiar to me made the episode even more meaningful. On future visits I will be much more cautious when running out for coffee, and have always thought there was something odd about seeing a Starbucks on virtually every block in much of Manhattan. (Perhaps the Doctor will investigate that in the future.) I will certainly be more suspicious of any statues on future visits to New York, and will be certain not to blink around that fountain in Central Park which I have passed several times in the past.

In other ways this was an alien world to me, stranger than any of the alternate worlds seen on Fringe. I can’t imagine The New York Times having a headline saying the Detroit Lions Win Superbowl. New York also seemed quite warm for that time of year.

Once the decision was made to have the statues in New York become Weeping Angels, it was obviously far too tempting for Moffat to resist making the Statue of Liberty an Angel. Until the time paradox which wiped out the Angels occurred, I couldn’t imagine that there would be no historical record of the statue moving across Manhattan on at least two nights in the city which never sleeps. When all the Angels were removed from New York, why was the Statue of Liberty still standing? Perhaps the Angels were inhabiting pre-existing statues, and the statues returned to their previous inanimate forms. Of course if Angels take over other statues, there might not be the need for those babies in the basement.

The bigger question is why Amy and Rory cannot ever return. Clearly this is more a matter of whether the actors and producers should decide to have them back for an episode as there are numerous weaknesses to the reasons presented in the episode. This notion of fixed points in time has been rather ambiguous and hardly something the Doctor couldn’t work around. Perhaps the TARDIS could not return to that precise spot in 1938 but what about having Amy and Rory meet him elsewhere and at a different time? We know that River could go back and give Amy the manuscript and a message, presumably with the contraption on her wrist. Besides, why not use those instead of the TARDIS to save them?

If it is simply a case that time has been written, and cannot be rewritten here, there are still loopholes which are far larger than ones the Doctor has used in the past. The tombstone changed once to add Amy. Even if it could not be changed again, there were many years between 1938 and their eventual deaths. Why couldn’t some of those years again be with the Doctor, as long if the wound up returning to die as in the rewritten version of history? Why not have Melody Malone’s book include a series of mysterious absences by Amy and Rory after the events already written?

While Amy and Rory are gone, River Song will be traveling with the Doctor, at least for a short time longer. We found that she was released from prison because it turned out that the man she was accused of killing never existed, as evidence of the Doctor was wiped out. I had expected that she would ultimately get released for the opposite reason as people realized that the Doctor was still alive. The elimination of knowledge of the Doctor is one recurring storyline from this season. The Angels Take Manhattan also continued this season’s use of light bulbs, as the bulbs blinked on and off in the corridors of the Winter Quay.

Relive The Last Days of the Ponds in the video above.

In this video, Steven Moffat and the crew of Doctor Who discuss the making of The Angels Take Manhattan.

We know Doctor Who will be returning on Christmas, with a new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. How does her character tie in with her role on Asylum of the Daleks? Is she the same person? How important will her character be in the ongoing theme of the removal of knowledge of the Doctor? There’s no doubt there will be Christmas lights. Will light bulbs become even more important as the season goes on?

Doctor Who was about separation, but also about Amy’s decision to remain together with Rory. Fringe returned with the reunion of another family. There was not only the reunion of Etta with Olivia, but we also found that Olivia and Peter had split after Etta was taken. The episode has yet another case in which Walter’s memories fail him. This time his memories of how to fight the Observers received from September were destroyed.

I am a bit confused as to how the Observers could be said to have evolved from humans yet come from 2609. That would hardly be enough time for such evolution, but Fringe has often invented ways to get around conventional science. Apparently after destroying the planet once before, they are working towards doing so again, even if just for humans and presumably not themselves.

Person of Interest showed that the machine did have a contingency to work on after Finch was captured, but it was limited to having someone else take over saving people of interest and not saving Finch. I won’t mind if Finch remains a captive if this keeps Amy Acker on the show longer. I am also curious as to what her character means by setting the machine free.

Revolution is setting up for a family reunion. As I (and probably most viewers) predicted, Elizabeth Mitchell’s character remains alive. This raises questions as to why things weren’t handled differently in the first episode’s attempt to capture her husband. I will give Revolution a little longer but so far this looks like it might join the long list of other recent genre shows to die in its first season.

There are several shows returning tonight. There is a new world situation to deal with on Homeland. Dexter returns with Deb knowing about her brother’s dark secret. The curse is broken but magic has returned on Once Upon A Time with a more intense season promised. Revenge returns with an expanded world and more family. There is also one new genre series as 666 Park Avenue premieres tonight.

Earlier this week Michael O’Hare, who played Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season of Babylon 5, died following a heart attack at age 60.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Power of Three; Merlin: Revolution

The Power of Three refers to both the power of the alien cubes and to the power of the three stars of Doctor Who. This week’s episode was primarily a last look at the Doctor’s relationship with Amy and Rory before their final episode next week. The slow invasion allowed the three to spend a lot of time together,  and we learned it has now been ten years since Amy first went off with the Doctor. Now Amy and Rory are starting to live normal lives, making commitments for the future which they would not have made in the past in case they were off somewhere with the Doctor.

The episode also provided a reunion with UNIT. It came as no surprise that the new head of UNIT,  Kate Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave, turned out to be the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate, apparently unaware that to most of the universe the Doctor has died, recognized him by his manner of dress and verified the presence of two hearts. Scientists are also now in control of UNIT.

Rory’s dad Brian asked the Doctor about the fate of his previous companions. The Doctor answered,  “Some left me. Some got left behind. And some… not many but… some died.” While this could be preparing the viewers for next week’s episode, this did not stop Brian from encouraging Rory and Amy to go off once again with the Doctor.

The invasion story provided an amusing backdrop as we saw the cubes become assimilated into day to day life over the course of the year. They were used for mundane tasks such as holding up menus in restaurants and had a thousand different Twitter accounts. Did the disparaging comment on Twitter reflect the views of either Matt Smith or Steven Moffat? The episode, like all the earlier episodes of the season, also included light bulbs–this time Christmas lights.

Unfortunately the ending was rushed and made little sense. The Doctor solved everything too easily with a wave of the Sonic Screwdriver. I can accept that the cubes were able to emit electric shocks to stop the hearts of those around them. After all, this is alien technology, and who are we to question what an apparently empty alien cube might be capable of? It is harder to accept that reversing the shock would restart the hearts of those around them as here we are dealing with human physiology. Once a heart has stopped and the person has died, a second shock would not reverse this. Even if this was possible, the the people should all be brain dead and not capable of just getting up again as if nothing had happened. (Or is this now a Zombie invasion to be dealt with in a future episode?)

Next week, The Angels Take Manhattan. The Space video promo is above. The BBC press release confirms what we already knew:

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan

The Doctor’s heart-breaking farewell to Amy and Rory – a race against time through the streets of Manhattan, as New York’s statues come to life around them…

With Rory’s life in danger, the Doctor and Amy must locate him before it’s too late! Luckily, an old friend helps them and guides the way.

Guest stars: Mike McShane, Alex Kingston and Rob David

Written by Steven Moffat

Executive produced by Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner

Directed by Nick Hurran

Produced by Marcus Wilson

And above are two promos from the BBC.

A new promo for Merlin is above.

Despite the failure of multiple genre shows over the last couple of years, NBC is heavily hyping Revolution. If it succeeds I fear it will be because enough people like the gimmick of people fighting without modern weapons in a background which almost looks like our world. A sword fight in a Chicago hotel might be cool, but can this idea remain fresh for long? The special effects of a modern world destroyed without power were well done, but far too many genre shows try to succeed with special effects as opposed to a good story.

The science fiction aspects do remind me of FlashForward and Jericho. As on FlashForward, we have a change in the rules of physics with some unknown people responsible. Instead of jumping forward in time, on Revolution all devices dependent upon electricity suddenly stop working (but some people still have access to working electricity, appearing to have downloaded it to a fancy USB drive). Like on FlashForward, planes dropped from the sky and Elizabeth Mitchell has a role. I do question whether she is really dead, limited to appearing in flashbacks. When asked about this by Entertainment Weekly she responded, “I am not allowed to say one word. I’m not even allowed to tease.”

The show is also reminiscent of Jericho in showing people living after a tremendous disruption to normal life. It is more like the final episodes of Jericho, showing the battle for control of the country. The pilot might have felt more plausible if it was more like the early episodes of Jericho, showing how people survived and established a civilization. Perhaps we will see more of this in flashbacks on future episodes.

Like Lost there is a big mystery (along with Elizabeth Mitchell) , but according to J.J. Abrams the show will not feature long, drawn out mysteries as on Lost. The show’s writers do know why the power went out, and hopefully it doesn’t involve a man in black or turning the power back on with a donkey wheel. As it appears that this was intentional, there are two possible motives which I sure hope do not turn out to be the explanation. I hope it is not a case of environmental radicals turning out the power to reduce carbon emissions. Anyone capable of stopping all electricity in the world would probably be able to come up with a more sensible solution to global warming such as a clean energy source or a way to cool the planet. I also hope this is not a reaction to the situation seen at the start of the pilot, showing signs of too much technology invading our lives. If someone with advanced technology wanted to act upon this, it would make more sense to knock out television and cell phones, as opposed to all electricity which would cause massive deaths.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Lost Premiere; Heroes Finale; Neil Gaiman Writing For Doctor Who; Julie Benz Remains on Wisteria Lane

LA X, the season premiere of Lost, gave two answers for what happened after the bomb went off. The show first showed a scene aboard Oceanic Flight 815 in which the plane did not crash on the island. The real surprise here was that more changed than just the fate of the characters we have been following. The entire island was under water.

Rather than alternating between present and flashbacks, the show alternated with views of one reality in which the plane did not crash and another in which the explosion threw everyone from the past to 2007 after the hatch was blown up. It is not clear why an explosion would do this as opposed to either changing the time line or killing everyone, but this is Lost.

In what might be another key scene, Juliet had some last words: “It worked.” I take this to mean that the other time line is equally real as the one on the island but wonder how Juliet would know this. If it was Desmond I would have an easier time seeing how a character would be seeing two different realities.  As we’ve often seen the dead interacting with the living, perhaps being near death is what allowed Juliet to see both realities.

The episode reveals more about the smoke monster, showing it is also the Man in Black. Questions remain as to his actual role and relationship to Jacob. I’ve seen reports that his actual nemesis is someone other than Jacob (who did not really seem to object to getting killed). The scene at the temple also revealed what happened to some of the passengers from Oceanic 815 who have not been seen in quite a while.

In the other reality we are reminded that, despite their eagerness to return home, many of the passengers were better off on the island. Jack’s life is still a mess, and now there’s the added complication that his father’s body is missing. I suspect that means he is still alive. Kate is on the run from the law (and reportedly Sawyer is a cop). Rose presumably still has cancer. Locke cannot walk, but perhaps he will take up Jack’s offer and be cured. One major difference is with Hugo who describes himself as the world’s luckiest man in this reality. TV Overmind has posted the above picture which also shows that Hugo had played a different set of numbers when he won the lottery. This returns to the question of the significance of the numbers. Perhaps Hurley’s luck all depended upon which numbers were played.

With the island under water people will be in different places in this reality. We already saw that Desmond is somehow still connected to the other passengers. With no hatch for him to be busy pushing the button in he wound up as another passenger on Oceanic 815. There’s no indication as to whether he is involved with Penny in this reality. Ben would be entirely different if he hadn’t lived on the island. Elizabeth Mitchell has a new show to keep her busy, but there are reports she will return as Juliet later in the season. It is not clear how she would interact with characters that in this reality she would not know (unless the two realities are merging together by then).

Tomorrow night is the season finale of Heroes. There has been talk that NBC plans to end the series but reportedly the episode was not written to be a series finale in the hopes that the series would be renewed.  I sure hope that they don’t end with a cliff hanger if the show is not returning. Masi Oka  told Fancast that possibly the episode could have been edited to be a series finale:

“They could probably edit it [to provide closure],” Masi Oka told me. “But whatever the case, I really hope that we get an opportunity to at least give the show a proper ending in one way or another. We want to pay respect to the fans who have been with us since Day 1.”

Neil Gaiman has verifed rumors that he is writing an episode of Doctor Who but it won’t be appearing until the second season under Steven Moffatt.  SFX reports:

In a special message sent to the SFX Weekender in his acceptance speech for winning Best Comic at the SFX Awards, Neil Gaiman has confirmed that he is writing an episode for the second Matt Smith season of Doctor Who.

Although not present personally, Neil Gaiman sent the following message:

“Over the years SFX, and its readers and their votes in the polls, have always been very kind to me. I thought I’d return the favour with what used to be called, in journalistic circles when I was a boy, a scoop.

As anyone who’s read my blog knows, I’m a big fan of a certain long-running British SF TV series. One that started watching — from behind the sofa — when I was three. And while I know it’s cruel to make you wait for things, in about 14 months from now, which is to say, NOT in the upcoming season but early in the one after that, it’s quite possible that I might have written an episode. And if I had, it would originally have been called “The House of Nothing”. But it definitely isn’t called that any more.

Countdown. You’ve got about 14 months.”

Julie Benz was originally signed to appear on three episodes of Desperate Housewives after she concluded her role on Dexter. TV Squad reports that her character was so well-received that she will be remaining longer. Their post gives some spoilers as to upcoming story lines.

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SciFi Weekend: We Are At Peace, Always; Changing Fate; Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars; Wolowitz in Bath Tub With Katee Sackhoff; Lost Final Season

V premiered with terrific ratings and mixed reviews. Being a remake of an old series gives it an advantage in already having people interested in the show. This is also a disadvantage as many viewers already know the surprises which were developed in the original. The show would be more effective if the fact that the aliens are evil was gradually revealed but this could not be done when this is known from the original. Even without revealing this it should have raised suspicions when the alien leader repeatedly told humans that we are at peace–always. In repeating this she almost seemed to be attempting a Jedi mind trick to influence the listeners (as in “these are not the Droids you are looking for”).

By the end of the first episode we knew the Visitors were plotting the destruction of the human race, that they are really lizards who hid their appearance with genetically engineered human skin, and the broad outlines of the series. The original series used allusions to a Nazi take over and World War II. The new series has been updated to be based more on the war on terror.

The Visitors in the new series continue to be lizards disguised as humans. The two series differ as the Visitors had non-human sounding voices in the original but now look and sound completely human (unless one cuts through their skin to reveal the reptilian skin). This allowed advance sleeper cells to be set up on Earth prior to the public arrival.

One of the most monumental periods in the history of the planet is shown through the eyes of a small handful of people which the show is centered around.  FBI agent Erica Evans, played by Elizabeth Mitchell of Lost, spent a large portion of the show tracking down a terrorist sleeper cell. Initially I was questioning why they devoted so much time to what appeared to be her usual FBI duties as opposed to the arrival of the aliens but ultimately the connection between the sleeper cell and the aliens became clear.

The aliens set up a group of Peace Ambassadors and utilized their ability to not only appear human but appear as extremely attractive humans to enhance recruitment. It did feel contrived to find that not only was Erica’s son recruited but that the attractive blond recruiter was especially interested in recruiting him. His significance to the show is that he is the son of the main character–not something which the aliens would mean anything to characters within the show.

The Bush administration had Fox to willingly provide favorable news. The Visitors were concerned about favorable news coverage and convinced a television journalist to avoid asking any questions which might place them in a bad light in return for the fame of being granted exclusive interviews. The episode also revealed that the Visitors who had been hiding on earth had infiltrated the government and were responsible for current turmoil, such as starting unnecessary wars.  I’m surprised that they hadn’t also concentrated on infiltrating the news media to guarantee the presence of reporters who would always provide positive coverage.

The question is what they will do with the series now that the premise has been laid out. The initial mini-series was excellent but the subsequent television series couldn’t maintain the quality. There are already signs of possible trouble in sustaining this series such as reports of already changing the show runner. The show will need to establish itself quickly as ABC is airing only four episodes and then showing the remaining nine later in the season.

The pilot of the new series along with episodes of the original series are available for viewing on line here.

Flash Forward The Gift

Previous episodes of FlashForward have teased viewers with the possibility of seeing events take place which differ from those in the flash forwards of the major characters. In the original novel it was shown that the future could be changed but we did not know for sure if the same rules applied on the television show.

This week’s episode, The Gift, finally made it clear that the future can be changed. A character jumped to his death in order to prevent a tragedy he discovered he will cause in his flash forward. (It is amazing that for so many characters the moment of their flash forward is at a major point in their life).

The discovery that the future can be changed  has a profound effect on some of the characters who had been acting as if they were inevitably heading towards the situation in their flash forward. Rather than being shown an inevitable future, it is increasingly likely that knowledge of the future will change the behavior of some characters to attempt to give themselves a different future. Now Dimitri can work to prevent his murder, and perhaps it really is Dimitri in Zoey’s flash forward of a wedding on the beach. Last week it appeared that Mark and Olivia were acting to make their visions of the breakdown of their marriage come true. Now they have motivation to really work to save their marriage, knowing it is possible.

The most frustrating aspect of the episode to me was seeing Mark and Olivia at home with Charlie. All I could think of while seeing them all together is to wonder why Mark doesn’t simply ask her what she knows to make her say that “D. Gibbons is a bad man.”

Aaron’s daughter had a prominent role in this episode as we learned more about how she was apparently killed. Rather than finding her at the time of the flash forward, Aaron returned home to find his daughter alive at the end of the episode. This appears to be a second situation where things are playing out different than in the flash forward.

A trailer has been released for the next Doctor Who special, The Waters of Mars (video above). This will first air on the BBC on November 15 and December 19 on BBC America. Blogator Who has posted a synopsis of the episode:

Starring David Tennant as The Doctor and guest starring acclaimed British actress Lindsay Duncan – best known for her roles across stage and screen (Margaret, Lost in Austen) – The Waters Of Mars is set to be one of the most terrifying episodes of the series to date.

Lindsay Duncan stars as Adelaide – the Doctor’s cleverest and most strong-minded companion yet.

She and The Doctor face terror on the Red Planet as they battle against a mysterious alien living within the terrarium of life on Mars’ surface which infects its victims using a water compound it creates.

Neighbours, Flying Doctors and Casualty star Peter O’Brien also guest stars as Ed, Adelaide’s second-in-command at the base

According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Tennant might be seen more by US audiences after he concludes his role as The Doctor. Tennant has been cast in the title role of a pilot for NBC entitled Rex Is Not Your Lawyer.

Written by Andrew Leeds and David Lampson, “Rex” centers on Rex Alexander (Tennant), a top Chicago litigator who begins suffering panic attacks and takes up coaching clients to represent themselves in court.

David Semel, who directed the pilots for “Heroes” and “Life,” has come on board to helm the comedic legal drama from Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun.

Kateee Sackhoff Big Bang

A picture has been released of Katee Sackhoff’s upcoming appearance on the November 23 episode of The Big Bang Theory.

“The story is about how Wolowitz has this wonderful woman in his life” after a double-date with Leonard and Penny and one of her co-workers from the Cheesecake Factory, Lorre says. “But he can’t recognize what’s right in front of him because he’s mesmerized by fantasies about women from sci-fi. The scene is his mental image of Katee, but she’s telling him the truth, that he’s missing out on real life.”

For her part, Sackhoff enjoyed the rub-a-dub-dub so much that she says she hopes it leads to a recurring role as “Wolowitz’s Number Six” (a Battlestar reference), returning from time to time in his imagination to offer advice – for instance, disabusing him of the notion that he’s a ladies’ man.

Lorre says he could get on board with that idea. “That would be terrific – she could definitely be Number Six in Wolowitz’s head – his muse, the magnificent woman who tells him the truth. We should all have a conscience that looks like Katee Sackhoff.”

Sackhoff’s guest appearance follows previous guest spots by Summer Glau and more recently Wil Wheaton. Wheaton revealed on his blog that he his voice was used in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie.

Katee Sackhoff will have a role in the upcoming season of 24.  Gregory Itzin will also be returning next season in his role of former President Charles Logan.

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E! Online interviewed Damon Lindelof about the final season of Lost:

For those fans of Lost who are invested in the romance on the show, will there be anything for them this year, or is this primarily a mythology season?
That’s an excellent question. Our focus remains where it’s always been: on the characters. And there are significant and emotional bonds, from both the friendship and the romantic angle, that we would be remiss in not exploring; we probably won’t be exploring them in the way that you think. That’s my official answer.

All right, last night you tweeted about this event, and you said that you would address the numbers question.
Oh, well that was just to get people here. [Laughs.]

Are we going to get an answer on the numbers this season?
When someone asks what the numbers mean or are you going to answer the mystery of the numbers, it’s a very interesting phrasing of a question, because I would pose it back to them: Well, what does an answer to “what do the numbers mean” look like? The answer that I’m giving now, my political answer, is that we’ve made a lot of the numbers in this show, so the idea that in the final season of the show we are telling everybody that we’re in answer mode and you’re never going to see the numbers again, or you won’t understand a lot more about the numbers than you do now, would be a cop-out. You would legitimately tar and feather us. But the one question that I can’t answer is what someone’s own level of personal satisfaction is going to be when all is said and done. We’ve gotten a sense from some people that there’s no such thing as a definitive answer to a question, you know? You say that this is the definitive answer and sometimes fans do like, “No, it’s not, I still think that there’s more there.” So all we can do is basically tell the story that we want to tell and answer the questions that are relevant to that story and hope that the audience leaves with some degree of satisfaction. But Lost wouldn’t be Lost if there wasn’t an ongoing debate as to whether or not questions were answered satisfyingly or not.

Word has been spreading this week that Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) does appear during the final season but does die. Entertainment Weekly has quotes from the producers:

CUSE: “As the story is now nearing its conclusion, some characters just aren’t going to make it all the way to the end. Even beloved characters aren’t going to make it all the way to the end. And sometimes we have to do things that are really painful, like killing Juliet, because that’s what makes the story feel like the stakes are genuine, and people feel invested that characters who are beloved can actually perish on our show. It was an enormously powerful story that concluded the entire season of the show. So she was sacrificed in service of the story, and I think was hugely responsible for the season being viewed as successful because that was how it ended.… But she will always loom as one of our favorite characters, and even more importantly, favorite people that we’ve ever worked with on this show.”

LINDELOF: “What always gives us pause—especially in this instance—is we just love working with Elizabeth. And she always brings it, she always gives more than we expected, and transcends the material. She has always been so gracious and sweet and lovely…. That conversation [in which he and Cuse delivered the bad news] went the same way that the entire relationship did, which is Elizabeth was completely understanding, sweet, and wonderful. And she was bummed, as were we.”

MITCHELL: “I really only thought [the job] was going to be a year. I didn’t in any way think that that character would be liked because I didn’t think of her as a likable person.  I was just in love with her, so that was what was fun.  She didn’t have to be beautiful. She didn’t have to be sexy. She was someone who we really haven’t seen. It was new, it was virgin ground.… [But after season 3], I was told many, many times that they weren’t sure what to do and that they wanted to keep her a mystery.  Which I thought was great, to keep her a mystery.  I’m glad they didn’t go the other way, and make her completely nothing. In many ways a lot of it was just inevitable. [Season 4] wasn’t as exciting as season 3 was, but I was still pretty grateful to be there, to be honest with you.  They’d done a lot for me, so I still felt pretty good about it and I still loved her. Even if I was just walking around in the background, I was still having my Juliet thoughts…. [In a phone call right before the end of season 5, Lindelof and Cuse] said they didn’t have any story left to tell, and they didn’t think there was anything left for her to do… They were very open and honest and kind about it. And they seemed to be sad about it.”

CUSE: “There are so many characters in the weave of the fabric of Lost that at various times certain people get to shine and other people are forced into the background. Juliet’s character had that kind of an arc on the show: She burned brightly, but then we moved on in the storytelling and other things became more important. And it’s always painful. It’s like having a garage full of the most beautiful cars in the world but you only can drive one to work every day. And it was frustrating for us, too, because we were pursuing other stories which rose to prominence and hers ended up taking a little bit of a backseat. But Damon and I came to a place where we came up with a fantastic ‘ending’ [for Juliet]. And ending is in quotations, of course, because just because a character’s died doesn’t mean that their story’s over on Lost.”

LINDELOF: “Juliet basically birthed season 6 by the actions that she takes in the final seconds of season 5. She is completely responsible for the endgame of the show. So the character is going to be seen in a slightly different light this year. We gave her that action for a reason, and that’s because she’s so important to the fabric of the story.”

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Those who might want more of Hayden Panettiere beyond seeing her fight a deadly sorority and share a lesbian kiss with Madeline Zima on Heroes might check out her spread in Elle.

The identity of the character to be killed off this season of Heroes has been revealed by TV Guide. They report it will be Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering that he was already killed at the end of the last season and the manner in which he returned does  not appear permanent.

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SciFi Weekend: Flashforward; V; Returning Shows and Shows in Trouble; Sookie’s Future; The Plan

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FlashForward didn’t continued to advance the mythology of the series with Dominic Monaghan becoming a series regular. While there are many gaps to fill in, we find that he knows Lloyd Simcoe and the nature of their relationship is hinted at when Lloyd says to Simon (Monaghan): “Our experiment killed 20 million people, Simon.”

Lloyd’s involvement with Olivia and her family took a major move forward as his autistic son, unable to separate future memories from the flash forward with past memories, remembers that Olivia’s home is his home too, and shows up there. It now is pretty clear that Charlie’s flash forward took place in the house where she saw both Simcoe and his son. She also saw something that makes her believe that “D. Gibbons is a bad man.” If she picked this up from Lloyd Simcoe during her flash forward it is not even certain if this is an accurate fact.

The meeting in their house, along with Oliva’s knowlege that Mark is drinking in his flash forward, exacerbated the conflict between the two and might be moving them towards the situation in their visions of the future.

In other developments, Janis survives so we don’t yet have a definite case of a vision not coming true. The blue hands of Mark’s board make an appearance. There was even another sighting of the kangaroo.

V-2009

The remake of V starts this week and reviews are coming out. Variety writes:

At least initially, the real breakout here is Baccarin, who might be TV’s coolest alien since the invention of the Vulcan nerve pinch. The idea, moreover, that extraterrestrials would come wrapped in an attractive package and shrewdly manipulate the media feels especially eerie given the state of our media today (though there is one unfortunately clunky line of dialogue about “universal health care”).

For the most part, though, writer Scott Peters and company — updating Kenneth Johnson’s original — have assembled an appealing and diverse cast that highlights the “We’re all in this together” aspect of dealing with such a fantastic threat. And the idea of being unsure who to trust deftly taps into the same vein of malevolent foes and “sleeper cells” hiding in plain sight that “Battlestar Galactica” mined.

The best science fiction always has something to say about the present, and the show does that without skimping on the soapy or dramatic elements. Whether the serialized storytelling can be sustained is potentially another matter (witness the growing pains experienced by ABC’s “FlashForward”), but at least in terms of the acrobatics that go into a polished launch, “V” sticks the landing.

The Hollywood Reporter writes:

This latest update, with a teleplay by Scott Peters, preserves the original framework but shifts the atmosphere to accommodate contemporary concerns. Based on the pilot, the militaristic notes will be more subdued. Instead, there will be more of a post-Sept. 11 emphasis on questions of trust and terror.

“V” is short for Visitors, which is what the aliens call themselves. They announce their presence while simultaneously hovering in huge unassailable spaceships above 29 of Earth’s major cities, including New York, where the series is set.

Alien leader Anna (Morena Baccarin), the very picture of sweetness and innocence, promises to share advanced technology and live in peace. Many Earthlings are eager to believe her, including young adults who sign up for the Peace Ambassador program (analogous to Hitler Youth).

But there are skeptics. These include FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell), whose son joins the Ambassador program, and Father Jack (Joel Gretsch). Complicating things is the wave of Visitors who came to Earth years earlier and are working incognito. At the same time, though, other secret Visitors have become disillusioned and join the resistance.

Somewhere in between is news anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf). In exchange for exclusive interviews with Anna, he makes an uncomfortable bargain to ask only softball questions.

It could be complicated, but Peters’ tightly written teleplay makes it easy to follow. In addition, the pilot raises provocative issues without getting didactic. That, combined with mythology less dense than, say, ABC’s “Lost,” should make this an attractive viewing option.

Kenneth Johnson, creator of the original series, sees the remake as a way to profit from his own movie version of the show.

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A couple of shows are coming back in December. Scrubs returns December 1 with hopes of  phasing into a new cast, which is generally risky for an established show. Better off Ted returns on December 8. In a move guaranteed to promote file sharing sites, The Waters of Mars, the next Doctor Who special, will air on the BBC on November 15. It will not air on BBC America until December 19. The two part final episode with David Tennant will probably air on the BBC on Christmas Day and sometime around New Year’s Day. Those wanting to see more of David Tennant can also see him on The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.

A couple more genre shows appear to be in trouble. I’ve already expressed skepticism whether Dollhouse will be picked up beyond thirteen episodes. Now NBC is telling the producers of Heroes to think about wrapping up the series. It might actually be better for the show to have an end point to work towards. Heroes would have been remembered far more fondly if the first season was produced as the complete series. The current season has been mixed. I am looking forwards to tomorrow night’s episode to see if Hiro can save Charlie, but it is not a good sign when they have to rely upon revisiting past events to keep the show interesting.

Fringe is also on the bubble according to TV Guide.

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Alan Ball was interviewed about upcoming plans for True Blood:

Bon Temps is going to be very crowded for True Blood’s third season, what with all the new vampires walking around. Executive producer Alan Ball, and several of True Blood’s writers and producers, sat down with fans of the show Wednesday at the Paley Center for Media to discuss the new residents of Bon Temps, Bill and Sookie’s future and a naked Alexander Skårsgard.

So where does the action pick up at the beginning of Season 3? “I believe [Eric] appears without most of his clothes in the very first episode,” jokes Ball. (But seriously, he says, fans of Eric’s amnesia story line from the books will have to wait until Season 4.)

“Sookie [Anna Paquin] is going to go off in search of Bill [Stephen Moyer], and she will find him,” Ball tells TVGuide.com. But Sookie is in search of much more than just Bill. “There will be more conjecture about what she is and she will be more driven to discover what she is,” said Ball. “She will get closer to the answer.”

Will her brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) help her? Not likely, as Ball explains that he doesn’t share his sister’s magical gifts. “It’s a DNA thing, it’s a genetic thing and skips some people and gets in some others,” he says. “Jason has vestiges of it, in that he’s such a fantastic athlete and he’s a perfect shot, but he’s still human, whereas Sookie is definitely a half-human, half-something else that we’re waiting to reveal.”

Good news for Bill fans: He won’t be going away for an extended period of time, as he does in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Ball reports that the TV series won’t be telling the same story. “Stephen Moyer will not be marginalized. Bill and Sookie may go through some rough patches that last maybe a little longer than Team Bill fans might like, but Bill and Sookie have a connection that will never die.”

So what about Bill’s big secret, that he only went to Bon Temps and became close to Sookie on the orders of Queen Sophie-Anne? Will that ever be revealed? Ball says yes. “I can’t say when it will be discovered, but it definitely will be,” he says. “We are definitely aware of that as we’re breaking the stories, and have been from the beginning of the show.”

Ball says that marital bliss is not in the cards for Sookie and Bill. “There is somebody who wants a wedding, but it’s not who you think it is,” teases Ball. “I don’t think you’ll see that wedding actually happen.”

What you will see is another human-vampire romance, when Tara meets the still-to-be-cast Franklin Mott. Their relationship will be unlike any other on the show. “I don’t even think they’re in the same ballpark,” producer Raelle Tucker tells us. “He’s more dangerous than any of those other [vampires]. She’s definitely playing with something that’s a lot more deadly.”

And Mott won’t be alone. “You’ll find a range of vampires,” supervising producer Alexander Woo says. “The vampire world really opens up. You’ll see that there’s as much of a variety and diversity among vampires as there is among human beings. There’s going to be extremely cruel and extremely kind. I think you’ll see there isn’t one archetype; there is a panorama.”

We don’t know how long Sookie’s adventures will continue on HBO but they might come to an end in the novels. while promoting a current book of short stories, Charlaine Harris has said that her Sookie Stackhouse series might come to and end after three additional novels. This would make for a total of a dozen books.

Dexter Rita

I’ve already reported that Julie Benz, who play’s Dexter’s television wife, has warned about a shocking end for the season. Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall’s wife in real life (and sister on the show) has more:

Dexter fans should stop crying over the shocking October 18 death of Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) and brace themselves for something far worse. “Everything changes at the end of this season,” Jennifer Carpenter (Deb) said at the 2009 Scream Awards. “Dexter will never be the same.”

The actress told me the Showtime series was so protective of its top-secret December 13 season finale that she had to sneak on set to witness the gruesome climax of John Lithgow’s bloody reign of terror as the Trinity Killer. “I was so curious that I showed up at 1:30 in the morning to see what they were shooting, so I know!” says Jennifer (who probably could have wrangled the secret out of her real-life husband and Dexter star, Michael C. Hall). “Let’s just say maybe all of our trailers won’t be there next year.”

The obvious speculation is over whether Rita, who does get in Dexter’s way this season, will be John Lithgow’s final victim this season.

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Edward James Olmos was interviewed by Io9 and about The Plan and discussed other questions which might be addressed in future Battlestar Galactica movies:

Simple questions, like what happened to the [final] five during this period of time? Where were they coming from 2,000 years ago? How could they be around for 2,000 years, and yet the understanding of Caprica is that the robotic trend on Caprica was started 57 years ago? How did that work? That question comes into play, and I would love to see how they answered it. That, to me, would be explosively unbelievable. I would love to have that question answered. I would also love to know what is going to happen to the people on the Earth. What is going to happen to Adama and all the different people? What happened to the Raptor that got them to the point of finding their dream space? That, to me, is just two simple ones I can think of off the top of my head…. To me, there’s still a lot of beautiful story that’s waiting to be unleashed in this world.

Olmos expressed displeasure about the degree to which The Plan was downloaded once it leaked out on line during the week before its release on DVD:

People don’t understand that if they want to see this universe again, they have to participate by voting, by casting their dollars. If they don’t cast their dollars, they won’t see any more of these.

That is understandable, but I also think that sales would be much better, regardless of whether copies were downloaded, if the product was better.  Many of those hard core fans who couldn’t wait to see the show would still purchase copies if this was a better product. Instead, many of us who viewed the episode early, both from downloads and early purchases, have been advising that there is really no need to get a copy now as opposed to waiting until it airs on television. I reviewed The Plan here. Unless they can do a better job, I would prefer to remember Battlestar Galactica for what has been done as opposed to having more second rate DVD and television movies.

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SciFi Friday: Star Trek, Cylons in Bikinis, Saturn Awards, and Casting News

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Ain’t It Cool News got a brief look at the upcoming Star Trek movie:

He showed me a scene of Ben Cross (Sarek) & Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson) cradling a baby Spock on the surface of Vulcan. A baby with Spock ears is kind of amazing to look at. But there was no dialogue here, and Vulcan wasn’t really there yet – what was there was a great rock formation that kinda reminded me of that wonky mountain/cliff thing from ARENA / BILL & TED. That said, it wasn’t the ARENA formation – and JJ said that zero effects had been done on this yet – so the lighting wasn’t right, the sky wasn’t right and there were no angry volcano type things or structures in the background, but he assured me… it’ll all look very Vulcan when it is done.

The next scene was a really nicely completed visual effects pass of a pre-Enterprise Federation ship from about 25 years before the Enterprise. I’ve no idea how this fits into the larger story, same with the Spock baby stuff. But this effects shot had a completely different space feel than anything I’ve seen before from STAR TREK or STAR WARS. The shot began on a small part of the ship, then craned back and over to reveal the ship coming into a larger shot of the ship seemingly orbiting a really angry sun. The shot was absolutely dynamic as the star was seemingly raging – and we cut to the interior of the ship – it was very shadowy and very much like that of an old diesel submarine – JJ told me that the look was an evolving look for Star Fleet – so that you could get a sense of the passage of decades here. Once again though – I didn’t see the end of the scene or really get a sense for what was going on.

We might have to wait several months to see it, but the Battlestar Galactica series finale has been lengthened to three hours. The second half of the fourth season will be a total of four hours (not counting at least one made for television movie). In the meantime you  could buy your own Cylon to provide entertainment for only $7900. Unfortunately they only sell the toaster variety. They might have better sales if they use a different type of Cylon. After all, two of the three below are Cylons, and I’m not entirely certain about the third:

It seems that a Japanese firm is thinking more along these lines, but they have a long way to go from this robotic girlfriend.

The actresses of Battlestar Galactica are not the only ones to spend the summer posing in bikinis. Ali Larter of Heroes appears in Allure:

Heroes returns on September 22 and Tim Kring told SciFi Wire a bit about the upcoming season:

“You’re going to see a lot of bad guys in this one,” Kring said. “The idea, also, is we’re playing off the idea of our characters as heroes or villains. So it’s really the duality of good and evil. … We’re playing off of this duality of good and evil. All of our characters were given these powers and possess these powers, and at some point it becomes sort of free will and human nature as to what you’re going to do with that. And all of us are given the choice to make decisions that lead us down very dark paths or towards heroic ends. And so, literally, every one of our characters gets faced with that dilemma.”

Kring told SciFi Wire that the third season of the show will delve further into the characters and their backgrounds.

“One of the things that this volume is going to do that, I think, is really going to be fun for the audience is that there were very initial sort of primal questions that the show asked,” Kring said. “Who am I? What’s happening to me? How am I connected? Where are these powers coming from? All of those questions get reframed and turned on their head in a very interesting way in this volume.”

The third season will be divided up into volumes in keeping with other seasons. The first volume will focus on the villains of Heroes, including popular bad-guy Sylar.

“Well, we have no plans of saying goodbye to Sylar right now,” Kring assured fans. “I mean, that was yet another silver lining for the strike, was Zach Quinto’s availability to us in the third volume. I mean, that was a huge thing for us to be able to have him back. As you guys know, he would have disappeared for a large chunk of the second half of season two. And so, for us, it was a big, big deal.”

Heroes will also include a Veronica Mars reunion. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra (Weevil) will be reunited in the same series as Capra plays a villain named Jesse. So as to not leave her out of the summer bikini edition, a picture of Kristen Bell in a bikini from Forgetting Sarah Marshall is here,  Kristen Bell as Princess Leia slave girl is here, and another picture of her has been posted here.

Lost has been nominated for an Emmy Award and won four times at the Saturn Awards on June 24. Lost won for best network television series, best actor (Matthew Fox), best supporting actor (Michael Emerson) and best supporting actress (Elizabeth Mitchell). Cloverfield won for best Science Fiction Film and Enchanted won as best Fantasy Film. Amy Adams (above) won the Best Actress Award for her role as Giselle, the newest Disney princess in Enchanted.

Two cast members of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip have been signed for new roles. Amanda Peet will be the female lead in 2012:

2012 revolves around a global cataclysm and the heroic struggle of the survivors. Peet is playing Cusack’s ex-wife, newly married to a wealthy man. Cusack plays a divorced father trying to become a writer while holding a job as a limo driver.

Matthew Perry of Studio 60 and Friends will be returning to television, and get to swear a lot, in The End of Steve. From the description I assume that this will be on premium cable and not network television.

Christopher Eccleston of Doctor Who and Heroes will once again appear in a role with a female companion, but this time he’ll be playing second fiddle. He will play Amelia Earhart’s navigator Fred Noonan in Amelia. He will also play a villian named Destro in G.I. Joe.

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