SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Agents of SHIELD; New & Returning Shows; Community; Person of Interest; The Newsroom

uktv-doctor-who-nightmare-in-silver-14

Neil Gaiman’s second episode of Doctor Who, Nightmare in Silver, was weaker than his first episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Like so many  episodes this half-season, it wasn’t bad but came up short of what it might have been. The good thing about the episode is that Gaiman updated the backstory for the Cybermen which might be used in future episodes. He had less to say about the Doctor’s history than in The Doctor’s Wife except to reveal that it is foolish to try to beat the Doctor at Chess as The Timelords invented chess.

Gaiman accelerated the trend of making the Cybermen more like the Borg. (There has also been speculation that the Borg were originally based upon the Cybermen but I have never seen confirmation of this). Instead of assimilation, they upgrade. They upgrade humans, and now other species, with cybermites, and upgrade themselves to counter attacks. One problem with the episode was that upgrades were only used for dramatic effect in limited circumstances. The Cybermen upgraded to be faster, but in most scenes they continued to move slowly.

These Cybermen were shown to be far more dangerous. They are so dangerous that the standard reaction to finding one a a planet is to destroy the entire planet. Even an entire galaxy was destroyed to prevent the Cybermen from advancing. The problem with making an enemy this powerful is that ending each episode by imploding the planet would be tedious, and having the Doctor repeatedly defeat them in under an hour would be unrealistic–sort of how the Borg gradually changed from an unbeatable force when introduced on Star Trek The Next Generation to a race easily defeated by a lone starship on Voyager.

Warwick Davies stole the show as Porridge, later revealed to be Emperor Ludins Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff the 41st. It was unrealistic for the Emperor to just happen to be hiding on this planet, but now that the Doctor has met him it would be a shame for the two not to meet up again.

The episode has the obligatory (this season) homage to past Doctors with images of them displayed. There’s more to come next week, including a scene with Bessie driving by. There were not any obvious clues to the Clara mystery but Clara did learn that the Doctor considers her to be the impossible girl. We should be getting the answers next week, with this prequel released leading into The Name of the Doctor:

A Radio Times interview with Neil Gaiman is posted here. Gaiman’s interview with the official Doctor Who site is here.  Blastr has the story of how Steven Moffat got Neil Gaiman to update the Cybermen and make them scary.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

The Doctor found a BAFTA in the TARDIS (video above). There is also more at the awards ceremony to honor Doctor Who:

Doctor Who is to be honoured with a special tribute to be shown at Sunday’s BAFTA television award ceremony.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will be marking the programme’s 50th Anniversary year by showing a video montage celebrating the long history of the show.

Current companion Jenna-Louise Coleman will also attend the ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London and will present one of the night’s awards.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said:

There are only a handful of programmes that have the quality and longevity of Doctor Who and the ability to put the nation on their sofas – or indeed behind them – year after year. BAFTA raises a toast to Doctor Who on its 50th birthday this year.

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said the production team would be sending Daleks to patrol the red carpet:

This is a massive and exciting year for Doctor Who, so I’m thrilled that BAFTA are including a special tribute to the show. So thrilled, in fact, we’re sending the Doctor’s best friend, Jenna Coleman, to present an award. We’re also sending the Doctor’s worst enemy, the Daleks, to exterminate lots of innocent people. Sorry, it’s just what they do. Let us know if it’s a Health and Safety issue.

Doctor Who won the main BAFTA award for Best Drama Series in 2006 and has won many BAFTA Craft Awards since the series returned in 2005.

Watch out for spoilers this week. An error was made and some Blu-Ray sets with The Name of the Doctor has been shipped early and some copies of the episode are starting to appear on line. Some people are intentionally spoiling the show on Twitter so be careful in reading messages in response to mentioning Doctor Who.

Speaking of spoilers,  John Hurt may have revealed his role in the 50th Anniversary episode:

Mr Hurt, who lives near Cromer, earlier told the EDP he had just finished shooting a Dr Who 3D special in which he plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” which includes David Tennant.

Not surprisingly, ABC has picked up Agents of SHIELD, along with additional genre shows for next season. More on the cast of Agents of SHIELD here. Defiance and Revolution have both been renewed. In the overkill department, Once Upon A Time is both returning and getting a spin-off. Blastr has a run down of eleven new genre shows.24 might return as a 12 or 13 episode mini-series. Does this mean that the story will take place in real time over a shorter period of time or that the show will move faster than real time?

Community - Season 4

Community was also picked up for a fifth season and there are some rumors that Dan Harmon might return. (I’m not holding my breath, but hope it is true.) Chevy Chase is gone, and he was not missed in the episodes where he did not appear at all or only had minor roles. The finale showed once again that show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port may be sincere in their desire to continue the creative ideas of Dan Harmon but just do not understand how to carry this out.

Compare the season finale, Advanced Introduction to Finality, with Basic Human Anatomy, the episode written by Jim Rash which most critics consider the best of the season. The finale brought back The Darkest Timeline with a story which was ridiculous on so many levels. It centered around the impossible situation of people crossing over from The Darkest Timeline with the use of paint ball in a story which didn’t make much sense even if you accept this. Then it ended by revealing it all to be Jeff’s daydream. A daydream (if the story was good) would be fine as part of a story. It might have even worked earlier in the season, but the finale should not be almost entirely a day dream (especially when the dream storyline wasn’t all that good).

Dan Harmon would have been more subtle with the use of an alternative time line, as with Jim Rash with the body swaps in Basic Human Anatomy. If there were true body swaps, or if it was all a dream, I doubt the story would have worked. Instead Rash had characters behave as if they had swapped bodies to reveal more about the characters. Troy acted as Abed because he couldn’t cope with a relationship he is too immature to handle. Abed reciprocated by acting as if he was Troy to end the relationship. Of course we know why the Dean pretended to change bodies with Jeff. The flashing lights weren’t magic but just someone flipping the switches. While not plausible, it was all possible.

Next season is expected to pick up with the remaining members of the study group in their final semester. Jeff and Pierce have graduated. Presumably Pierce is gone forever, but they now have a more difficult job of getting Jeff into the episodes when he should no longer be at the study group’s table. Perhaps they will come up with another reason why Jeff needs another class, but that would make last season appear even lamer in retrospect.

Person of Interest finale

Person of Interest concluded the season with a strong two-part episode which more firmly establishes the show as science fiction. In earlier episodes the machine was simply a gimmick to set up a more conventional crime show of the week, but now the machine is an integral part of the show. Plus Amy Acker was back and Sarah Shahi is an excellent addition to the show. In some ways the show reminds me of Fringe, which gradually set up its mythology in earlier stand-alone episodes.

Aaron Sorkin’s show, The Newsroom, returns on July 14, with changes made to hopefully fix some of the problems from the first season. A promo video is below:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Returns in The Bells of St. John; Hugo and Other Award Nominations for Doctor Who

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B EPISODE 1

Doctor Who returned with The Bells of St. John, picking up with the Doctor having gone to a quiet place as advised by a young Clara Oswald as seen in a web-episode prequel. The bells turn out be from the phone on the TARDIS with Clara having received the Doctor’s number from an unidentified person, saying it was  for tech support. I wonder if this is another explained event which sometimes pop up in Moffat’s stories, or if we will find that someone significant (perhaps River Song or another version of Clara) gave it to her.

The plot, as is often the case on Doctor Who, was not terribly compelling but the character interaction more than made up for it. The danger in Moffat’s stories often comes from unexpected, or everyday items. In this case the danger struck over WiFi, so be careful of what you click on. The episode took advantage of the London background to provide a more realistic setting than usual, and a trip in the TARDIS to an out control airplane was more exciting than many of the trips to alien planets in other episodes. It is necessary to watch closely to pick up the many subtle references to other aspects of Doctor Who, such as an old book written by Amelia Williams. Others were more obvious, such as the scene with UNIT.

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 7B SERIES PREVIEW IMAGES

While this season is primarily made up of stand-alone episodes, The Bells of St. John can be seen as part of at least two arcs: the mystery of Clara Oswald and another attempt by the Great Intelligence to fight the Doctor. We learned very little about Clara, but she did have some similarity to the Clara of The Snowmen as she once again was a governess. She also acquired considerable computer skills in this episode, perhaps foreshadowing her abilities in Asylum of the Daleks. We also saw how the Doctor comes up with money and Moffat got in a dig at Twitter.

There is no longer a Doctor Who Confidential, but the BBC did release this behind the scenes video.

Steven Moffat says we will learn who Clara is this season. More from Moffat in the text of a press conference posted here. Other major news from the past week is that David Tennant and Billie Piper will be returning for the 50th anniversary episode. John Hurt will also be appearing in the episode.

Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of next week’s episode, The Rings of Akhaten.

The week of Doctor Who‘s return was also a big week for awards and nominations, including receiving a Peabody Award: “Doctor Who,” the ever-evolving, ever-clever BBC science fiction series now entering its second half century, was awarded an Institutional Peabody.

Doctor Who was also nominated for two BAFTA Awards:

Musical composer Murray Gold was nominated in the Original Television Music category for his, as the ninth Doctor would say, “fantastic” music score featured in the Series 7 episode, Asylum of the Daleks. This is the second time Murray Gold has been nominated for a BAFTA award.

The show was also nominated for a BAFTA in the Visual Effects and Graphic Design category. The Mill, which has recently announced it will be closing, was nominated for the wonderful Craft Visual Effects it has created in their recent episodes.

The Mill has been nominated for a BAFTA every year since 2007. They received a BAFTA in 2009 for their work in The Fires of Pompeii.

Other Doctor Who related BAFTA awards include the Editing Fiction award in 2008, The Television Drama Series in 2005, and the Craft Writer award went to Steven Moffat in 2007.

Three episodes were nominated for Hugo Awards:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (597 nominating ballots cast)

  • Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks”, Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who, “The Snowmen”, written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
  • Fringe, “Letters of Transit”, Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
  • Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)

The Avengers were among the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (787 nominating ballots cast)

  • The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
  • The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
  • The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
  • Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)

 

SciFi Weekend: Fringe Series Finale

Olivia Alternate Universe

Throughout its five year run, Fringe was often unrealistic, but fans were willing to forgive this and enjoy the ride. The series finale was made to feel more plausible by multiple references to prior events on the show. It also helped the flow of the episode to have the major revelations and the plan to destroy the Observers revealed the previous week.

The finale began with the need to rescue Michael, the child observer, from a detention cell on Liberty Island. On Fringe the way to get around security was obvious–go to Liberty Island in the alternate universe, which is the location of the Department of Defense, come back to our universe and rescue Michael, return to the alternative universe, and then return to our universe at a safer spot. This meant that Olivia had to receive a new series of injections of Cortexiphan to allow her to cross over and back a total of four times. Sure this was risky, but “Etta died so we could finish the plan,”as Olivia pointed out to a skeptical Peter.

This plan served a couple of purposes. For the fans, it allowed one more glimpse of the alternative universe. While some disagree, I found the alternative universe arc to be the highlight of the entire series. We got to see Fauxlivia and Lincoln again, and find that Walternate is now lecturing at Harvard at age 90. I do wish we had another opportunity to see John Noble play this role. For the purpose of the story plot, it provides a reason for Michael to have allowed himself to be captured in the prior episode, which became important later on. His capture led to Olivia injecting herself with Cortexiphan, providing her with the power to kill Windmark in their final battle and enable Michael to be taken into the future.

Sure, this was somewhat convoluted. Maybe Michael could have come up with another way to defeat the Observers and go into the future. The  plan might not have worked at all if he had been taken somewhere else. Perhaps Michael could have told them that it was essential for Olivia to receive the Cortexiphan, but they might not have be willing to take this risk without high stakes such as Michael being captured.

From Michael’s perspective, being captured didn’t seem to be a problem. Windmark’s scientist found that Michael had greater intellectual powers than the Observers and a capacity for emotional responsiveness than normal humans (whatever this means). Michael clearly had more powerful mind powers than Windmark. It is also probable that he could see the future, knowing that Olivia would take the Cortexiphan and rescue him before the Observer surgeons got started on him.

Besides seeing Fauxlivia and Lincoln again, it was good to see Broyles have a major role in this episode. His attempts to mislead the Observers ultimately failed and he was captured. This provided an opportunity to see a wide variety of items saved from the Fringe Unit used in an attack which included his rescue and obtaining another gadget needed for the time machine. Having seen this tactic used earlier this season both made this attack appear more realistic within the framework of the show and eliminated the need for an explanation in this episode.

This was a good episode for Astrid. Highlights of her actions in this episode included her showing Walter another “character” from the past–Gene the cow, frozen in Amber. When they needed an ignition device (because Windmark got this from December before September/Donald could) Astrid came up with the idea to use one of the Observers shipping lanes. Again this was shown in an earlier episode of the season, making it plausible without distracting explanations or pulling something totally out of left field.

The previous episode had foreshadowed two aspects of the finale–resetting time to be with Etta again and sacrifice. I (and probably most viewers) had been expecting all season for the series to end by resetting time and returning to the scene in the park when the invasion began and Etta was taken. The idea of sacrificing Peter has come up so often that this was almost expected, but would contradict the predictions of Olivia, Peter, and Etta being safe in the park.

Fringe Park

Once things were hinted at in the previous episode it became obvious that the ending would provide some degree of a surprise and the ending would not be exactly as predicted. A tape was found of Walter explaining that the sacrifice was that, to prevent a paradox, he would have to live in the future and could not be present in the world of 2015 when the Observer invasion (which would be wiped from history) originally occurred. With time being reset in 2015 I am not certain why the reset wouldn’t include Walter being there, but how do we argue with the results of time travel? Then, after we believed that Walter would be sacrificed, Donald decided to go instead of him, feeling greater attachment to his son and having greater understanding of what it meant for Walter and Peter to remain together.  It also made more sense for Donald to go on to a life in 2167 considering that otherwise he would cease to exist along with the other Observers. We were misled about this again as Donald was killed and Walter had to take Michael into the future.

The universe was reset to 2015 with Peter and Olivia in the park with Etta. There is one potential problem with this scenario. If there were no Observers, then Peter would not have survived being brought over in the initial timeline of Fringe as he was saved from drowning by September. It is questionable as to whether this was necessary as we already saw the timeline changed so that Peter did not exist, and yet he returned (without a really plausible explanation). On the one hand, his existence in this timeline no longer depended upon him being brought over by Walter as this event did not occur in this timeline. On the other hand, Peter returned to existence in this timeline because of his existence in the initial timeline. His continuing existence in one way is even harder to justify because of the lack of Observers to have led to a timeline where he was here. On the other hand, his existence after the reset would have been more implausible if not for the way he returned in the fourth season, no longer having the history of being brought from the alternate universe with help from September. Peter’s existence, even though he should not exist, has been something we must accept from Fringe in the final two seasons.

The question of Walter’s continued existence after resetting the timeline allowed for a reference back to an episode from 2010, White Tulip, in which a picture of a white tulip had been sent to Walter after an analogous situation involving time travel. Now Peter was the recipient of the letter with a white tulip. It is sad to see this series end, but also tempting to go back and watch earlier episodes which will not have so much more meaning after seeing their role in the big picture painted over five years by this fantastic series.

Fringe Series Finale Trailer

It all ends this Friday.

SciFi Weekend: Some Answers on Fringe; Avengers; SHIELD; Star Wars; Dexter; Awards; White House Response On Petition To Build The Death Star; Grammar Dalek; Dark Knight Trilogy In Three Minutes

Fringe Olivia Walter

This week’s episode of Fringe, The Boy Must Live, was the final episode before Friday’s two hour series finale. After enduring years of episodes which offered more questions than answers, this episode did reveal a lot about September/Donald, the Observers, and the child Observer, Michael. September was punished for his assistance to the Bishops by Biological Reinversion–being turned back into a normal human. Donald explained how the Observers became the way they are by generic engineering (in addition to the device seen earlier this season). The key moment comes in 2167 when a scientist in Norway finds that removing jealousy from humans would leave room for greater intelligence. Further emotions were later removed to provide for even greater intelligence. Of course we have seen examples showing that at least some Observers still have some emotions.

Once humans lost emotions, test tubes replaced sex to create future generations. Michael was an anomaly who possessed both advanced intelligence and emotions. His genetic material came from September, who showed emotions himself in forming a bond with this son and saved him, analogous to Walter saving Peter.

September has been keeping a notebook of his observations of humans. This is actually being released as a book on March 12.

For beings of supposedly great intelligence, Observers often appear to have difficulty communicating. When September met Walter after saving Peter, when he said “the boy must live” he was referring not to Peter (the boy present at the time) but to Michael (a boy who Walter had no knowledge of at the time). While September sees time differently, it still makes little sense for him to have said this to Walter at this time without further explanation. September also showed questionable intelligence, even if reinverted to a human, when he wired his apartment to explode but included a warning light allowing other Observers to escape.

Finding the real meaning of “the boy must live” does clear up the question of why the Observers eliminated Peter’s existence in our timeline in a previous season if he was so important. I had previously rationalized this as representing different priorities for September and the other Observers.

Donald’s plan was to send Michael to 2167 to show that it is possible to have advanced intelligence without eliminating emotion. The scavenger hunt of the season to date has been to accumulate supplies needed for a time machine, with Donald conveniently having access to additional material needed. The idea is that, seeing Michael, the scientist would go down a different road and not eliminate emotion. The hope is that this would keep the Observers from coming back in time and waging war against humanity. When in human history have emotions kept a group from going to war?

The episode foreshadows two ideas which have been common in fan discussion of the final season–sacrifice and resetting time. Peter even suggested to Olivia that if they could reset time and prevent the invasion they could have Etta back. However, if the Observers were changed this might mean that Walter might have never succeeded in bringing Peter over from the other earth and he might have never lived and met Olivia. On the other hand, this might not be an issue in the world of Fringe, where Peter already returned once after he ceased to exist in our timeline. Michael also gave Walter memories of Peter from the previous timeline, making it even more tragic if the two do not both remain alive after the Observers are defeated.

I also wonder if raising the need for sacrifice and resetting the timeline in this episode served as misdirection, with one or both points not being true once we see how the dilemma is resolved.

The episode ended with another mystery as Michael voluntarily surrendered himself to the Observers. I wonder if he doesn’t have yet another plan which will allow him to destroy the Observers while he appears to be their prisoner.

Agent-Coulson-98701-header

Joss Whedon says Avengers 2 will be deeper, not bigger. He also will begin shooting on the pilot for his S.H.I.E.L.D. series in the near future. Reportedly the series takes place after the events of The Avengers, but there also reports that Clark Gregg will reprise his role of Agent Phil Coulson in the pilot, creating some questions.

ABC is also considering a live action Star Wars television series.

Person of Interest had another strong episode this week. Prisoner’s Dilemma ties the recent arc in which Reese was captured into has back story. He’s now in the hands of his old partner, Kara Stanton, and I have no idea what she is up to.

Showtime had an awesome Sunday night line up with both Dexter and Homeland. They are moving up Dexter’s’ eight, and probably final, season to June 30 so that the popularity of both Dexter and Homeland can be used to develop other shows.

The Oscar nominations came out without much attention to genre movies. Some genre movies are competing for Visual Effects. The nominees are The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman. Life of Pi also was nominated for Best Picture. There are some additional nominations for genre movies, but only in minor categories.  Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role on Sherlock at the Golden Globe Awards tonight.

The White House has denied the petition to build the Death Star, and showed a sense of humor with this response:

Official White House Response to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

That’s ok with me if they don’t build the Death Star. I’m far more interested in the more recent proposal to build the Starship Enterprise.

Grammar Dalek

T-shirt available here, based upon this cartoon.

The Dark Knight Trilogy is condensed to only three minutes in the video above.  I’m afraid the experience is not the same as watching the full movies.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Stamps; Star Trek Into Darkness; Fringe; 2013 in SciFi; Alison Brie as Captain America

The top stories of the week in genre and cult television were the Christmas episodes of Merlin, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey, which I previously looked at here.

Baker Stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Smith Stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal Mail will be releasing a set of stamps in March to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. All eleven Doctors are present. The Tom Baker Matt Smith stamps are above. The full set, along with a Dalek stamp from1999, can be seen here.

John Harison Star Trek Into Darkness

Korean interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek Into Darkness had a few interesting comments, such as this from Benedict Cumberbatch on his character, John Harrison:

He is an extraordinary terrorist of sorts. He uses himself as a warrior with weapons and close hand combat to just reap devastation and havoc wherever he goes and a trail of destruction follows him. What is interesting from an acting point of view — beyond doing the stunts and choreographed fight sequences….was also the psychological warfare that he acts out. He has an incredible ability to control people’s minds to his bidding and make them – well confuse the radar of their loyalties and prerogatives, so that was great fun. So it was a great mixture of intense acting scenes and action scenes.

J.J. Abrams decided against directing the next Star Wars movie:

There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.

Genre television shows are frequently downloaded or streamed due to different broadcast days and times in the United States and the U.K. There will be no need to download the series finale of Fringe. It will be simulcast by Fox and Sky1.

Wonder what will happen in 2013?I09 reviewed events from 2013 in science fiction books, television shows, and movies.

Allison Brie as Captain America

I’m not sure what the story is behind this picture of Alison Brie as Captain America. Most likely it is Photoshopped, but I wonder if Community is doing their take on The Avengers.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Snowmen; Merlin Finale; Fringe; Star Trek Into Darkness; Dexter; and Homeland

Doctor Who: The Snowmen airs on Christmas Day, introducing a new companion. Some clips and interviews can be seen in the video above.

Another clip from The Snowmen above.

Digital Spy interviewed Steven Moffat, who talked about the upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. He also denies internet rumors that William Shatner might play the Master:

William Shatner being The Master would be too confusing wouldn’t it? He’s Captain Kirk! It’s already confusing that there are now two Captain Kirks. But if I was considering it I wouldn’t tell you. I love William Shatner but John Simm is The Master… John Simm would beat [Shatner] up if he thought he was going to take that part.

Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Smith discussed how the Doctor met his new companion in the interview above.

Jenna Louise Dec 2012

The Telegraph interviewed Jenna-Louise Coleman:

What can Coleman do with the role of companion that hasn’t been done before? Does she believe that her character moves it into a new realm? ‘Yes I do!’ she says enthusiastically. ‘The Doctor really wants to find out about her. She is obviously very clever, possibly more clever than he is, so she’s a challenge. I really liked that about the role.’

Has she any idea just how this will change her life? ‘Well,’ she says, ‘on one level it already has! I’ve been filming non-stop since it was announced, so my life has really been taken over by Doctor Who and nothing else.’ When she has had some free time, such as the occasional weekend, she has returned to the flat in London she shares with three of her childhood friends.

‘It’s refreshing,’ she says. ‘We all do different jobs now. I have to work the hardest at maintaining my friendships, though, because I am never around. I suppose my friends are very tolerant.’ She says the same goes for her relationship with her boyfriend, Richard Madden, the Game of Thrones star. ‘We both work hard,’ she says. ‘But he’s coming back from filming soon, so …’ She shrugs. ‘It’s good, work is good.

Merlin Finale

The Diamond of the Day, the two-part series finale of Merlin, received excellent reviews before it aired and another review can be found here. The series finale will air on Christmas Eve.

Fringa Nina

Fringe showed the end of Nina’s story, at least until a possible reset which was mentioned in the previews. While she killed herself to avoid interrogation by the Observers while hiding the child Observer, Nina would have been in trouble regardless of the events of this weeks episode as the Observers had already figured out that she was  source of the concrete-melting device used in a previous episode. The episode also revealed that Donald and September are the same person, leaving questions as to  whether September was once a normal human and how he became an Observer. Perhaps the arc showing Peter place the device in his neck was to set up the possibility of a human becoming an Observer.

Star Trek Into Darkness

J.J. Abramas has said more than he has revealed in the past about the plot of Star Trek Into Darkness and the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch:

So this movie doesn’t require you have seen the first movie. The characters are a group of people who have recently come together and find themselves up against this incredibly terrifying force. His name is John Harrison and he is sort of an average – that is what makes him so scary – he is just an average guy who works in an organization called Starfleet, and he turns against the group because he has got this back-story and this kind of amazing secret agenda. After two very violent attacks, one in London and one in the US, our characters have to go after this guy and apprehend him. And it is a far more complicated and difficult thing then they ever anticipated. “Into Darkness” is very much about how intense it gets and really what they are up against.

dexter-finale_712

Dexter and Homeland concluded their seasons last week. Dexter is heading toward the end, which probably will not be good for a serial killer. Dexter has killed at least three people who do not meet his code before the season finale: someone he mistook for a killer in Season 4, the guy in the bathroom after Rita’s murder, and Hannah’s father. With LaGuerta, not only is Dexter willing to kill someone who is innocent but Debra pulled the trigger. Hannah (Yvonne Strahovsk) ominously left Dexter a black orchid after escaped policy custody, and the producers are hoping to bring her back for another season.

claire-danes-damian-lewis-homeland_finale-212

Homeland left Brody on the run and presumably they will find some way to get him back into the main action next season. Perhaps he will find information on a terrorist plot while on the run, or perhaps it will turn out that he has more knowledge which the CIA needs to obtain from him. As he is using Carrie’s network, it wouldn’t be implausible for Carrie to track him down. Carrie already believes Brody is innocent. Saul should also realize that Brody was set up, knowing that the confession tape had been filmed quite a while previously and was in the hands of others. As Brody’s daughter believes that Brody did not plan a suicide bombing this time, room is left open for reconciliation with his family. It would be harder for Brody to publicly be seen as innocent. They certainly cannot say that the tape was made not now but before a previous planned suicide bombing. Perhaps the most plausible story would be that Brody had been forced to make this tape while still a prisoner, and broken to the extent that he would read anything.

How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for a ninth and final season, dragging out the explanation as to how Ted met his wife for yet another year.

Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season but Glen Mazzara, is leaving as show runner.

SciFi Weekend: Homeland and Dexter Season Finales; Fringe; Doctor Who; Merlin; Dallas

Episode 212

Homeland concludes the second season tonight. With Abu Nazir and Vice President Walden dead, the biggest question is how (or whether) they will conclude the season and leave it plausible for Brody to survive into a third season. As this is becoming increasingly implausible, many fans are speculating that Brody might get killed in the finale and the series will continue on without him. I doubt it, but it certainly is possible. There is also speculation that Estes might get killed, with Saul in charge next season. Some of the theories floating around can be found here, but we will know how the season ends later this evening. Entertainment Weekly had an interview with executive producer Alex Gansa:

So what can Gansa tease about next week’s season finale? “The final episode is called ‘The Choice,’ and what I can say about it is Walden is dead. Nazir is dead. So we’ve sort of left the thriller aspects of the show behind and now we come to a very personal story about Carrie and Brody and all the obstacles that lie in the way of them being together. That is what the finale is about. It’s a real character study of these two people, where they’ve come from, how they regard each other, and whether or not there’s a future for them.”

Dexter also concludes the season tonight. The previews show him being arrested. That could be the season-ending cliff hanger or possibly even a dream. I suspect that it might be an event taking place earlier in the episode, with Dexter released due to lack of evidence against him. After all, Dexter and Debra have been busy planting false evidence, and we know that there is an entire season to go before seeing Dexter’s ultimate fate.

There is still a little time until the series finale of Fringe, and this week’s episode was a real trip (in Walter’s mind). They didn’t find Donald, but they found Sam Weiss and ultimately the child Observer, who undoubtedly will play a role in however this series does end. (Or perhaps not–I also believed that Peter developing Observer powers would be important, and it no longer looks like that is the case).

I’ve previously posted the BBC trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen. Above is a different version from BBC America. Another BBC trailer can be seen here.

The BBC has announced that the second half of the current season of Doctor Who will begin airing in April.

The BBC commissioned a report on the portrayal of gay characters on television. While faults were found in stereotypes on some shows, other shows such as Doctor Who and Downton Abbey were praised: “Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn’t always an issue or the plotline,” said anti-hate crime charity Galop. “It’s just incidental, which has been quite nice.” One example is more than just incidental–Captain Jack Harkness who has both been a companion to the Doctor and has stared in the spin off Torchwood.

I don’t want to give away too much to those waiting for Merlin to air in the United States, but this week’s episode has drawn the battle lines for the two-part series finale. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone acquainted with the King Arthur legends, but it does represent a change from earlier events of the final season.

TNT will have the funeral of J.R. Ewing on their remake of Dallas on the March 11 episode following the recent death of Larry Hagman while the series was filming. The series is being rewritten to account for the death of J.R.

SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Doctor Who Christmas Special And 50th Anniversary; Star Trek Into Darkness; Downton Abbey Christmas Special

Before this week’s episode of Fringe, theories about how the series would end fell into two categories. There were the happy endings in which the Observers were defeated, possibly including a cosmic reset going back to the day in the park. There were also predictions of unhappy endings, at least for Peter, after inserting the Observer’s device in his brain stem. This ranged from Peter dying (which has been foreshadowed so many times in the past) in order to defeat the Observers, to the possibility that Peter’s actions led to the eventual development of the Observers. After Walter warned that the effects on Peter were soon to be irreversible, it became clear that this arc would lead to one of two results–either Peter would remove the device or he would soon become bald, and with a changed personality. This week’s episode resolved the issue with a pocket knife and self-performed surgery.

Besides convincing Peter of the importance of human emotions, Olivia stuck a blow for science and math over alternative explanations to those with extraordinary abilities:  it’s all just numbers, and the invaders are better at math than we are. After she defeats the Observers, we’ll set her loose on today’s Republicans.

The series finale is to be entitled An Enemy of Fate. Presumably this refers to someone who prevents humanity’s fate of being enslaved to the Observers.

Companions have fallen in love with the Doctor, but this time it might be the Doctor falling for the new companion–and who can blame him considering what we’ve seen of Jenna-Louise Coleman:

Matt Smith says the Time Lord is “attracted” to all his female companions – and that he’s particularly struck by new partner in time Clara when he meets her in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special The Snowmen.

“I think, in one way or another, the Doctor is always attracted to his companion and he’s certainly taken by this striking young lady,” Smith tells Radio Times in the new edition of the magazine.

And he says Clara is just what the Doctor ordered after the loss of former travelling companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

“The fall of the Ponds had a grave effect on the man,” said Smith. “I think he’s quite lonely and removed from the universe and not really as engaged as he was, at his best with Amy and Rory. “Handily, he meets a jaunty new companion, a hot chick…”

Fans will have to wait until Christmas to see the full effect Clara has on the Doctor but they’ve already glimpsed her snatching a rare kiss from him in a BBC1 Christmas trailer and Smith said “what’s interesting with a new companion is that it changes the way [the Doctor] is and affects his personality.”

The BBC have announced the airtime for the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen. The episode will air on BBC One at 5:15 p.m, December 25. It will air on BBC America and in Canada (SPACE) on December 25. It will air in New Zealand and Australia on December 26. More pictures from the Christmas Special can be seen here.

The Doctor Who series 7 finale finished filming last week. There are rumors that the 50th Anniversary special will start filming in February. Other rumors include a title of The Eleven Doctors with all eleven Doctors appearing in some manner. The manner is not clear as not all former Doctors are living and Christopher Eccleston has said he will not appear in the special.

The trailer forStarhas been released (video above).

The Japanese trailer (above) has additional material. While the villain appears to be Gary Mitchell as opposed to Khan, there is a scene reminiscent of Spock’s death scene in Star Trek II. Hopefully that is not what is actually occurring–we don’t need a remake of The Search For Spock.

Pictures from the Downton Abbey Christmas Special can be seen here. Beware if waiting for the third season to play in the United States–these must be considered spoilers for 3rd season events based upon who is present and who is not present.

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.

]

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?