SciFi Weekend: Star Trek, Torchwood, and The Week’s Genre Shows

The upcoming Star Trek movie will reportedly be completed in the next one to two weeks. J.J. Abrams was interviewed by The BBC. One recurring topic was to avoid making the movie appear campy:

The goal of this movie, despite it being called Star Trek, despite the pointy ears and all the established fans and hundreds of hours and almost a dozen movies and all that kind of stuff, we actually feel this is kind of a new thing and this is legitimate. Which is probably the biggest challenge, because it is by default so close to being campy. Like you see Galaxy Quest, which is such a great movie, and it is so — when you are actually on the set doing Star Trek, there are these moments that are like ‘dear God, how do I not make this bad?’ You see how easily you could go the wrong direction and suddenly you are mocking your own world.

This topic came up again later:

There were moments where I thought ‘the biggest challenge of this moment is make it not suck.’…To make it not be the version that in Ben Stiller’s hands or someone, which would be hysterically funny, and yet that is not the result you want for this moment.

MTV Movies Blog reports that Bryan Fuller, writer for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Pushing Daisies, is interested in bringing Star Trek back to television.

Fuller says he would want to break the mold and have more fun with the series — you wouldn’t have to be on the same ship or have the same characters as the original ‘Star Trek,’ but you could be in the same timeline and universe. From what Fuller’s seen so far of J.J. Abrams’ version, he’s impressed — “boy oh boy!” he gushed about the costumes – but he thinks Kirk, Spock, and McCoy should stay in the movies for now.

“’Star Trek’ has to recreate itself,” Fuller said. “Otherwise, all the characters start to feel the same. You always have a captain, a doctor, a security officer, and you have the same arguments based on those perspectives. It starts to feel too familiar. So all those paradigms where it takes place on a starship have to be shaken up.”

I’ve commented before that it makes sense to use the original cast for the movies as many people beyond Star Trek fans are familiar with them. If they were to develop a new series it would make more sense to develop a new cast and new situations. I would prefer to have it take some time in the future after Deep Space Nine and Voyager concluded, being true to the past history but taking place far enough in the future that it doesn’t get bogged down with every detail established in previous series.

Branon Braga, co-creator of Enterprise and currently co-executive producer of 24, has sold a science fiction pilot to ABC based upon the novel Flash Forward by Robert A. Sawyer. The premise of the novel is that an experiment at CERN to search for the Higgs boson causes everyone on Earth to blackout for 2 minutes and 17 seconds during which they flash forward to view the world through their selves twenthy-one years in the future.

Leonard Nimoy appeared on the Not My Job segment of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me this weekend. The audio is available here.

Tardis and Torchwood Treasures has this report on the release of a CD of a recent BBC radio drama of Torchwood:

Lost Souls, a special audio episode of Torchwood, was released on CD today and has now also become available for download. The CD has a running time of 75 minutes and is now on sale in all good entertainment stores at an RRP of £9.99. Lost Souls aired last Wednesday and stars John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Gareth David Lloyd as Ianto Jones and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones. Among the guest stars are Lucy Montgomery and Stephen Critchlow. As well as featuring the episode, the CD also features a behind the scenes documentary called Torchwood: All Access. This is exclusive to the CD as the download doesn’t feature this documentary and only features the episode itself.

I’ll be looking for a copy to download after I complete posting here. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find.

This week had another strong episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I did like the second episode of Fringe better than the pilot, with the episode concluding with a little information on the unusual background of one of the main characters. I’m still not certain that it will live up to the quality of Lost and Alias, but IO9 does consider it science fiction TV’s most reassuring show. True Blood has already been renewed for a third season, which is to air next summer as opposed to waiting until fall.

SciFi Friday: Doctor Who and Its Spin Offs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Friday: Deaths, Spoilers, And It’s Very Stressful Being an Other

There’s some major spoilers here in case anyone is behind with their television watching, especially with regards to Jericho. The show is increasingly becoming a conflict between the people of Jericho and the Cheyenne government. We find that Jennings & Rall (think Halliburton) was involved in the nuclear attacks, setting themselves up for future success. The first battle of the rebellion against Cheyenne took place with Bonnie getting killed, but not before she did shot several of Goetz’s people. The final three episodes should be interesting.

Another female lead might also have been killed on another show. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wrapped up the season with a cliff hanger in which Cameron is in an exploding car. I can’t get too worried about her fate. If she isn’t successful in rebuilding herself after the explosion, another cyborg of the same model could be sent back in time to replace her. I’d be far more worried about the fate of Kyle Reese, now that we’ve seen him as a child if Skynet should ever find out who John’s father is.

Lost returns to flash backs as opposed to the recent flash forwards. The episode is officially about Juliet, but in many ways provides more information about Ben. Just when we thought he was as creepy a guy as possible, he out does himself in taking Juliet to see Goodwin’s impaled body. The best line of the night had to be when Juliet explained why she was seeing a therapist by explaining, “It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.”

We also learn why some of the people from the freighter have gas masks, and fortunately it turns out that Ben was misleading everyone else about their plans.  Next week we will learn who Ben’s spy on the freighter is, and it is made clear that we know who it is. The most likely candidate is Michael, but I wouldn’t rule out Walt considering how time is different on the island compared to the outside world.

Recently the actors had the opportunity to ask the producers some questions and some minor spoilers were revealed.  The season will end by revealing the deal the Oceanic Six makes to get off the island, and we will also discover the identity of the person in the coffin at the end of last season.

There are a number of rumors floating around regarding Doctor Who and Torchwood. Rumor has it that if David Tennant leaves after next season, The Doctor will regenerate into Robert Carlyle of The Fully Monty. 

I really hope this rumor regarding Torchwood is not true. They’ve been trying to make the show more “family friendly” with the move to BBC-2 this season. The rumor is that they are going to make it even more family friendly for season three and write out regular cast members including John Barrowman, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori. Eve Myles would return as Gwen and Freyma Angeman would return to Torchwood as Martha Jones.

There’s also a minor spoiler about Heroes. Eriko Tamura, who played  Hiro’s 16th-century love interest, is going to be brought to the present for next season. The plans were delayed by the strike.

24 was also delayed by the strike, with the entire season postponed until next year. Due to the long gap there are now plans for a two hour television movie to air next fall to bridge the two year gap between seasons six and seven.

There is another movie being rumored. The owner of the strip club which was used to film the scenes at Bada Bing on The Sopranos  says he is holding off renovations on the club after getting a tip that there might be a Sopranos movie. HBO denies this, and we don’t even know if Tony remained alive after the finale.

And, finally, Ausiello has a guess as to who ultimately becomes the mother on How I Met Your Mother. He reports that Alicia Silverstone has been cast in a multi-episode arc, playing a doctor who dates Ted. The show has not officially been renewed for next season, and the produces have promised that we will see Ted’s eventual wife before the series ends. He speculates that Silverstone will be identified as his future wife, keeping the promise to show her before the series ends should it not be renewed. Knowing Ted, I wouldn’t be surprised if he dates Silverstone, breaks up, and then meets his eventual wife at the time of the break up. 

SciFi Friday: Torchwood Returns; Annie Leibovitz Returns to Fantasy Land; How George Costanza Would Respond to the Clinton Smear Campaign

Torchwood has had two episodes air in the UK but American fans no longer have to wait very long to see the show. Torchwood premiers tomorrow night on BBC America. The first season DVD set was also released this week. While there have been cast changes and questions as to how long David Tennant will remain on Dr. Who, Torchwood should not have this problem. SciFi Wire interviewed John Barrowman who says he will stick with the show:

John Barrowman, who stars in the Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood, told SCI FI Wire that he’s open to playing omnisexual time traveler Capt. Jack Harkness for years to come.

“If I was asked to do Jack for the next five or six years I would do it with a big smile on my face, because I absolutely love playing him,” Barrowman said in an interview. “When the time comes for us to close the page on Torchwood and Jack Harkness, I’m also then happy to do that when that decision is made. But I think it’s got a bit of a life out there. Let’s hope we get [season] three, [season] four and, hopefully, [season] five.”

“You’re going to learn an awful lot more about Toshiko [Naoko Mori], Owen [Burn Gorman], Ianto [Gareth David-Lloyd] and Gwen [Eve Myles],” Barrowman said. “You’re going to also see much more of Jack’s history. Our time travel in Torchwood is different. [In] Doctor Who, the Doctor gets in a TARDIS and travels. Our time travel is done through memory. So you’re going to go back in time with Jack through his memory. You’re going to see the future through what he’s seen in his memory.”

Lost returns on Thursday nights. USA Today has some information on the upcoming season.

Last week the trailer to the upcoming Star Trek movie was shown with the opening of Cloverfield and low quality copies quickly popped up on line. A high definition version is now available here. Also click on the red dot for further views.

Last year I posted some of Annie Leibovitz’s photographs of stars portraying Disney characters. A new set is now available. Here is Jessica Beil as Pocahontas:

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This photo has Gisele Bundchen portraying Wendy Darling, with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan and Tina Fey as Tinker Bell. A close up of Tina Fey is available here.

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411mania argues that Barack Obama needs a friend like George Costanza to help respond to the Clinton smear campaign:

The Clintons want to play dirty, to quote George Costanza “Well, there’s nothing dirtier than a giant ball of oil.” George Costanza may have been a fictional character from Seinfeld, but he was the sort of guy that would poison his boss, run down Lloyd Braun for being in a mental hospital, encourage Jerry to have a revenge date, and to torment an employer by dropping a giant ball of oil all because this employer discovered he had faked a disability. A friend like this could do the same thing to Hillary that Bill is doing to Obama. The thing is a Costanza type might take each of Bill Clinton’s smart barbs and media explosions as a challenge to drive the Clinton campaign to a fake house in the Hamptons with two solariums and horses named Snoopy and Prickly Pete. In short, Obama needs an attack dog that would relish a fight and not know when to quit.

Several suggestions for attacking Hillary are provided in the post.

Actress Beth Broderick also commented on the Clinton smears at Huffington Post:

It is unseemly for a former president to be sniping at reporters and railing against caucus rules and Primary dates. It is heartbreaking to watch him degrade and attack Barack Obama … deliberately obscuring the facts and going for the cheapest of shots. During an election season this is referred to as ‘throwing elbows”. Any other time this would be called ‘lying’ and ‘race-baiting”.

My friends on the ground in the primary states report to me that the behavior of the Clinton campaign is appalling. Many of them are former supporters and it is truly upsetting for them to witness the “anything to win” tactics of the Clinton folks. I knew from the beginning, when Terry McAluffe arrived in LA and threatened “You are either with us or against us”, that there was cause for concern. Now there is cause for alarm. This is not good for the Country and in the end it is not good for Hillary Clinton. They are at risk of fracturing the party that they hope to lead. There are some wounds that will never heal.

There is a war going on for the soul of the Democratic Party and there are arguments to be made on both sides. The Clintons have been sowing the seeds of a Hillary presidency for years. They are surely and rightfully anxious about the ascendance of the young man from Illinois. The Clintons have dominated the party for decades and not always for the good. The Bushes have embarrassed and exhausted many of the staunchest supporters of the right. That is why we must look at this election in the wider context of the state of the union. For the first time since 9/11 we have an opportunity to bring this country together. To do this Americans may well be wise to choose the new guard over the old.