SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Dr. Cotton’s Bizarre Ideas, Boardwalk Empire & The Knick; DC and Marvel Movie Plans; Twin Peaks; The IT Crowd & Other British Adaptations

DoctorWho Flatline

Flatline managed to provide an episode of Doctor Who which successfully combined elements of both horror and humor. While not a totally original idea, it was something not seen on Doctor Who before, and realistically few television shows manage to come up with ideas which have not been influenced by other works. Think of it as if the residents of Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott were to invade earth, with a touch of The Adams Family thrown in.

Besides the idea of two dimensional beings invading, there was the added component of the TARDIS shrinking when the “structural integrity is compromised.” This did contradict The Name of the Doctor which showed such leaking to cause the TARDIS to swell in size, not shrink. The shrinking of the TARDIS, with the Doctor trapped inside, did enable Clara to take a leading role in this episode. This whole situation was quite difficult for the Doctor: “I mean this is just embarrassing. I’m from the race that built the TARDIS. Dimensions are kind of our thing.”

The Doctor did win out in the end. Ultimately the aliens from the two dimensional world were defeated by their inability to distinguish a two dimensional picture of a door from a real three dimensional door.

With the Doctor separated from the action for most of the episode, Clara took on the role of the Doctor, including taking on a companion, Rigsy, and calling herself the Doctor:

Rigsy: “What are you the doctor of?”
The Doctor: “Of lies.”
Clara: “Well, I’m usually quite vague about that. I think I just picked the title because it makes me sound important.”
The Doctor: “Why, ‘Doctor Oswald,’ you are hilarious.”

Clara did show Rigsy the inside of the shrunken TARDIS leading to the classic comment, “It’s bigger on the inside.” This set up the Doctor’s response:  “I don’t think that statement has ever been more true.”

Doctor Who Flatline1

Clara also showed that she can act like the Doctor, from using the Sonic Screwdriver to using his tactics:

Clara: “I just hope I can keep them all alive.”
The Doctor: “Ha. Welcome to my world. So, what’s next, ‘Doctor Clara’?”
Clara: “Lie to them.”
The Doctor: “What?”
Clara: “‘Lie to them.’ Give them hope. Tell them they’re all going to be fine. Isn’t that what you would do?”
The Doctor: “In a manner of speaking. It is true that people with hope tend to run faster, whereas people who think they’re doomed …”
Clara: “Dawdle. End up dead.”
The Doctor: “So, that’s what I sound like?”

Ultimately, when Clara asked if she did a good job, the Doctor did respond, “You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara. Goodness had nothing to do with it.” We still have the question from the start of the season as to whether the Doctor is a good man, and whether they are doing good.

The most amusing gag of all in the episode was seeing the Doctor’s full sized hand emerge from the tiny TARDIS to walk it away from an oncoming train.  The episode was very light on Danny Pink, but we did have another amusing scene with Clara talking on the phone with Danny, hiding the fact that she was in danger. The previews do show him taking an active part next week, but it still remains unclear whether we will ultimately see a return to two teachers from Coal Hill School being companions aboard the TARDIS as was teased last summer.

The ending scene with Missy took a different turn from her previous scenes, with Missy saying, “Clara, my Clara. I chose well.” It has already been suggested that it was Missy who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number back in The Bells of Saint John, but we still have no idea as to what Missy’s overall plan is. Also uncertain is whether this has any connection to Clara’s role in The Name of the Doctor to become fragmented in time and have a role in each of the Doctor’s regenerations.

The writers this season do seem to be writing as if some of the past events have not taken place, almost starting fresh with Clara and the Peter Capaldi Doctor. Even going back to the season premiere in Deep Breath, the Clara who saw each regeneration in The Name of the Doctor should not have been as surprised by seeing the changes in the Doctor after his regeneration. Perhaps the events of The Time of the Doctor, with the Doctor gaining additional regenerations and not dying on Trenzalore, also mean there was never a giant TARDIS tomb for the Doctor and Clara never was fragmented in time. The Missy story line might wind up providing a completely different version of Clara’s life.

The Doctor Who Extra for Flatline is above.

While both the Doctor and now Clara having claimed to be a doctor without formal qualifications, there are some actual doctors who have done considerable harm despite having true medical degrees. One example, Dr. Henry Cotton, has appeared on cable television shows in the past week both on The Knick (at the start of his career and Boardwalk Empire (near the end). He was a real person. Henry Cotton believed that psychiatric problems were based upon infections and his treatment often began with pulling the teeth of psychiatric patients. If this did not provide a cure, then he would proceed to remove other organs which he believed were the cause of the infection. Needless to say, in an age before antibiotics, such unnecessary surgery could have catastrophic results. At one point during his career Cotton even had a nervous breakdown. He responded by pulling his own teeth, then proclaimed himself to be cured and returned to work.

Knowing the factual basis behind Dr. Cotton’s life leaves me concerned about Gillian Darmody’s fate after she told Dr. Cotton that she felt she was cured. We already saw another woman at the asylum undergo surgery, and Cotton would not be likely to accept Gillian’s assessment that she is cured without surgically removing what he believes to be the site of her infection. Being the final season,  Boardwalk Empire does have the ability to show tragic endings for its characters. This included the deaths of two long time characters last week. While Boardwalk Empire is ending, The Knick just ended its first season and has done an excellent job of showing what medical care was like back in 1900 and the development of new ideas such as transfusions.

News came in last week that a cable series which debut last summer, Manhattan, was renewed. While I have not seen the series, I feel comfortable in recommending this show about the development of the atomic bomb based upon several favorable reviews. (Although I have not seen Manhattan yet, do I get any points for reading Joseph Kanon’s novel, Los Alamos, several years ago?)

Still no news on whether Continuum will be renewed.

Episode 101

I would also recommend another new cable series which I did see the premiere of last weekend, The Affair. The main story involves an affair from the viewpoint of both parties, each telling their version for half the episode. We have narrators who are unreliable at least due to the faults in human memory. There might be additional reason for intentional deceit as we found that the stories are being told as part of a possible criminal investigation years afterwards, similar to in the first season of True Detective. It also reminds me of William Landay’s novel, Saving Jacob, in which there are glimpses of future questioning but we don’t know who the accused is or the crime until the end of the novel.

The creator of The Affair, Sarah Treem, discussed the dual narratives in an interview at The Hollywood Reporter:

With Noah and Alison remembering different accounts of the same stories, the series explores the notion of objective truth. Do you think there’s such a thing?

I think there is such a thing as objective truth. There are events that actually happen. As individuals our understanding of what happens is often quite limited. Sometimes the only way to get at objective truth is to have multiple people tell their own version of the same event. It is the job then of the interrogator, the therapist, the audience member, whomever, to basically try to find the commonality between the accounts in order to figure out what actually happened. That’s basically what we’re trying to do with this show. We’re not saying there’s no such thing as truth — there absolutely is — but we don’t think that one person is usually the arbiter of the truth. We think that it comes forward in conversation. There’s this quote, I think it’s from Hegel, but it’s the idea that all understanding is dialectic, meaning that nothing gets understood unless it’s as a result of a conversation. That’s how I think of the two sides of this show, that it’s a conversation from which the audience gains an understanding.

Will we see the perspectives of other characters besides Alison and Noah?

Not this season but maybe in subsequent seasons, if we get them.

We see a lot of overlapping stories that vary slightly depending on who’s telling them. What’s it like to have to regularly write two versions of the same event?

It’s a really fun exercise for a writer. It’s just about putting yourself in another character’s perspective, seeing the scene through the other character’s eyes. For the scene at the end of the pilot [where Alison and Cole have sex on their car], I was interested in writing a scene that looked like an attack on one side, and then coming back into it knowing more about what was actually happening to where all of the sudden the scene plays as a very different negotiation. Writers are trained at this because you’re always approaching the story through somebody’s eyes so it’s just a great, enjoyable exercise to go back and think, “Well, I wrote it this way the first time and now let me jump into a different character’s body and a different character’s mind and let me try it again and just see what happens.”


Both Warner (DC) and the various studies which own the rights to Marvel characters have recently released news on their upcoming movie plans. Comics Alliance has more information and has put together the above infographic.

Here is an ambitious list from Warner Brothers:

  • “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
  • “Suicide Squad,” directed by David Ayer (2016)
  • “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot (2017)
  • “Justice League Part One,” directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprising their roles (2017)
  • “The Flash,” starring Ezra Miller (2018)
  • “Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa (2018)
  • “Shazam” (2019)
  • “Justice League Part Two,” directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
  • “Cyborg,” starring Ray Fisher (2020)
  • “Green Lantern” (2020)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice producer Charles Roven recently gave an interview with more information on the movie, including the origin story for Wonder Woman which is being used.

Unlike Marvel, DC is keeping their movie and television universes separate. While Gotham will probably need to be kept in a separate world of its own, Green Arrow, The Flash, and next Supergirl are forming their own television universe. Many fans are angry that Stephen Amell and Grant Guston won’t be appearing as Green Arrow and The Flash in the  Justice League movie. While fans would probably prefer such continuity, it does make it easier to wrote both the television shows and the movies if there is not a need for consistency. We saw how Agents of SHIELD was harmed by a need to postpone mention of HYDRA taking over SHIELD until after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released.


Marvel fans are getting more excited by what appears to be planned. While Robert Downey, Jr. has not agreed to do another stand alone Iron Man movie, he may be appearing in Captain America 3, which reportedly involves the two being on opposing sides over the Superhero Registration Act. This could also be the end of Chris Evans as Steve Roberts. of There have also been rumors of Marvel making a deal with Sony, which owns the cinematic rights to Spider-Man, to allow him to appear, which sounds plausible as Spider-Man had a role in this storyline in the comics. Several other Marvel characters are also rumored to be appearing.


Meanwhile Emma Stone, when not playing the role of Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man, will be playing Sally Bowles on Broadway in Caberet.

With Twin Peaks coming back we have twenty-five years to catch up on. Mark Frost is writing a book to fill in this gap. I am looking forward to see what they do with the series and which characters return. I do hope that Audrey Horne returns and has a daughter who can tie a knot in a cherry stem with her tongue.

The IT Crowd

NBC has commissioned Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) to do a remake of the fantastic British sit-com, The IT Crowd. I have mixed feelings about such attempts to remake UK shows here. NBC’s first attempt at a remake, with cast including Joel McHale, was reportedly a total flop and never aired. NBC also failed in adapting Coupling, another excellent British sit-com written by Steven Moffat.

Fox has  had their own problems in attempting to remake British shows, both with Gracepoint (a remake of Broadchurch) and Us and Them (a remake of Gavin and Stacey).

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Interstellar; Star Trek 3; Star Wars VII; Sex in Game of Thrones, Outlander, and Batman; Robin Williams; 24; Cristin Milioti; The Amy Pond Show; Community; James Corden; Craig Ferguson

Doctor Who returns next week. Here is the official trailer for the first episode, Deep Breath, the first episode staring Peter Capaldi. A spoiler-free review can be read here (but avoid if you want to be totally surprised while viewing).

There is also an official synopsis for the second episode, Kill List:

A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship, and only the Doctor can help them now… with the Doctor facing his greatest enemy, he needs Clara by his side.

Confronted with a decision that could change the Daleks forever, he is forced to examine his conscience. Will he find the answer to the question, am I a good man?


Entertainment Weekly has their movie preview issue out, including pictures from Christopher Nolan’s upcoming movie, Interstellar. From Indie Wire:

And that’s about the only new bit of info, with Nolan and co. continuing to stay silent about the plot, only confirming what we know: the Earth is running out of food, forcing everyman Matthew McConaughey to go to outer space to save mankind, read poetry and cry a lot. But John Lithgow (bet you forgot he was in the movie), offers up a pretty interesting quote about the thematic texture we can expect. “It’s a thrilling interaction between grand spectacle and intimate, intense relationships,” he said. “More so than many films of this genre, Chris found a way to make fantastic drama out of cosmic ideas and current human anxieties.”

Robert Orci will be directing Star Trek 3 with J.J. Abrams busy with Star Wars (a franchise which I think is a better fit for Abrams). It sounds like Star Trek fans might be happier with the next movie from this description from Screen Rant:

Star Trek 3 will take place during the Enterprise’s five-year mission (first depicted in the original Star Trek TV series), according to Orci. As a result, the film is expected to offer more of the philosophical elements (see: sci-fi allegories) that were lacking in the Abrams movies. Those films certainly offer their fair share of entertaining sci-fi action and adventure, but there’s not a whole lot of Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew “trekking” across the galaxy – something that seems to have more to do with Abrams’ directing approach than Orci’s contributions, mind you.

The traditional Star Trek optimism and spirit of exploration is something Orci intends to resurrect with the next film installment, by the sound of it. For such reasons and those highlight by Pegg, Orci is arguably a fine choice to serve as the helmsman on Star Trek 3. Furthermore, Orci in part learned his directing trade on the Abrams Trek films, which means this could be the first Trek movie to have a modern blockbuster visual template and the traditional Star Trek thoughtful mindset.

And speaking of J.J. Abrams and Star Wars, here’s some of the rumors abut Star Wars VII.

Batman Harley Quinn

Sex sells, even in animated Batman movies:

Harley Quinn doesn’t get naked and have sex in any of the Batman video games that she’s appeared in. But the Joker’s psycho girlfriend does exactly that in the new animated movie tied to Arkham Asylum and Arkham Origins. It’s not the only surprise in there either..

Yet, because it’s villain-centric, this one goes saltier than most DC animated fare. Characters getting punched in the balls, cussing (the s-word) and two very gruesome deaths are some of the surprising events that happen. It’s much more fun in tone than the games it’s connected to. The grim emotional reticience that’s become part and parcel of today’s Batman execution gets loosened up. Batman even makes a joke in here. The film does noticeably stumble with its portrayal of its female characters. They’re props for the men to play off of, primarily. In particular, Assault on Arkham feels like a missed opportunity to add a few layers of complexity to Harley Quinn’s character. Instead, she remains the wacky moll to the Joker and attaches herself to another man without exhibiting any independence of her own.

George R.R. Martin says that women write him requesting more explicit sex scenes in Game of Thrones, including gay sex. He also says that some fans have guessed how his series ends.


Oh No They Didn’t looked at a sex scene in Outlander:

The scene opens in 1945, just after World War II has ended. Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) are busy trying to put their marriage back together. They both have scholarly backgrounds—she’s a botanist, he’s a historian and a former intelligence officer—and they’ve just endured a long wartime separation. They attempt to rekindle their romance by researching Frank’s ancestry together, visiting historical grounds in the Scottish highlands that might tell them more about his family. While exploring an abandoned castle, Claire jokes that “a troll or two” might’ve lived there, though Frank argues that trolls don’t live in pairs, because they’re solitary creatures. “Pity,” says Claire, smiling flirtatiously. “All this, and no one to share it with.” He looks at her, catching on. “You’re a bit dirty,” he says, in the most blatant double entendre ever. “You can give me a bath,” she replies.

What happens next? Frank hikes up Claire’s skirt, teasing, “Why, Mrs. Randall, I do believe you’ve left your undergarments at home.” And then, let’s just say that, as the New York Times so tactfully put it, they engage in a sex act that’s “not necessarily the one you’d expect in a scene set just after World War II.” (You can watch it here, by fast-forwarding to somewhere around 18:33.) According to the Times, the women are loving it: At a preview screening in New York, Mike Hale writes, “the women in the audience loudly expressed their approval.”

Outlander‘s writer and producer, Ron D. Moore, knew what he was doing with the scene. “I’m guessing that I wanted to show Claire as empowered sexually as a person and having her own appetites and desires,” he told Zap2It. Which makes sense: she’s the one who makes the first move, telling Frank what she wants (even removing her own underwear ahead of time!) so she’s also the one we get to see enjoying it.

Obviously, sex scenes that focus on women getting off are still generally seen as taboo. In the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated, Kimberly Pierce, who directed Boys Don’t Cry, reveals that the MPAA pressured her to cut a similar sex act from her film to prevent it from earning an NC-17 rating, even though the brutal murder at the film’s end was acceptable under an “R” rating. Pierce believes the MPAA was particularly uncomfortable with a shot that featured no nudity at all—it was a close-up that lingered on Brandon Teena’s ecstatic expression—because it was such a clear departure from more traditional sex scenes, which have a clear endpoint as their goal, and tend to finish whenever the guys involved do. Maybe that’s why it feels somewhat radical that the camera pans upward during the Outlander sex scene so that we can see Claire’s face.

Consideration of this sex scene leads to the even more extreme question asked by Damon Linker, What if your daughter was a porn star?

We’re living through a libertarian moment.

No, libertarianism hasn’t consistently changed how Americans think about taxation, government regulation, or foreign policy. But it is transforming how we think about morality. We can see it in rapidly changing views about gay marriage, in the growing acceptance of recreational marijuana usage, and in the rise of a non-judgmental outlook on sex and pleasure more generally…

This moral libertarianism even extends to pornography — not just watching it, but “acting” in it, too. That’s the subtext of discussions surrounding Miriam Weeks (stage name: Belle Knox), the Duke University undergraduate who has chosen to pay her way through college by performing in porn videos. At first she was subjected to harsh attacks on campus, but since her story went national, she’s become a breakout celebrity and folk hero to some libertarians and feminists who see her choice as an act of empowerment for women and sex workers.

There’s just one complication to this happy story: no one, or almost no one, actually believes it. People may say they see nothing wrong with or even admire Weeks’ decision to become a porn actress, but it isn’t unambiguously true. And our ease of self-deception on the matter tells us something important about the superficiality of the moral libertarianism sweeping the nation.

How do I know that nearly everyone who claims moral indifference or admiration for Weeks is engaging in self-deception? Because I conducted a little thought experiment. I urge you to try it. Ask yourself how you would feel if Weeks — porn star Belle Knox — was your daughter.

I submit that virtually every honest person — those with children of their own, as well as those who merely possess a functional moral imagination — will admit to being appalled at the thought.

I don’t really see this concept of the libertarian moment and being appalled by this situation to be contradictory. There are a lot of things which I believe should be legal which I wouldn’t want my daughter doing.

Getting back on topic, Starz has already  decided to renew Outlander for a second season. It took a while, but HBO has decided to have us go through a second season of The Leftovers with no explanation as to what happened.

Giant Freakin Robot has a tribute to Robin Williams’ contributions to science fiction. Fourth-day Universe has a listing of his best science fiction roles.

It is hard to believe 24 won’t be back now that they are no longer confined to the series per year schedule. Kiefer Sutherland is keeping talk of this alive:

Despite prominent rumours that the most recent season of ‘24’ would be the huge show’s last, star Kiefer Sutherland is now hinting that there could very well be another series to come.

In a recent interview with the Daily Star, Sutherland, who plays Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer on the hit, said “I’m missing Jack already, I love playing him. I can never say never, the role is in my blood.”


We lost Cristin Milioti too soon on How I Met Your Mother, but she will be back this fall in an new romantic comedy sit-com, A to Z. It isn’t necessary to wait until October to see her again. The pilot is widely available on line and on demand. Please tell us the series doesn’t end with her dying.

TV Line has a their first impressions of The Amy Pond Show (or, as it is officially called, Selfie).

Yahoo! has release a teaser trailer for season six of Community.

If we had to lose Craig Feguson, I was at least happy when I heard that James Corden was replacing him. Besides his work on Gavin and Stacey, Corden will preserve the show’s interest in Doctor Who after Ferguson leaves. Corden appeared twice in Doctor Who, playing Craig Owens on The Lodger and Closing Time. Now it turns out that television doesn’t have to lose Craig Ferguson as he is close to a deal for a syndicated talk show.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Arrow; More Marvel on TV; Almost Human; S.; Batman vs. Superman; Better Call Saul; Downton Abbey

The BBC has released two trailers for The Day of the Doctor, with the longer version above. The 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who will be simulcast internationally, starting at 2:50 EST in the United States on BBC America. (From my point of view, this is an awful time, interfering with both noon and 3:30 football games.) There is discussion of the trailers and images here and here. The official synopsis has also been released: “In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.”

The BBC America Trailer is above.

Steven Moffat has some major teases as to the meaning of the episode:

Moffat’s previous comments that the episode “will change the narrative in a big way” encouraged speculation that writers have found a solution to the fact that the Doctor can only regenerate twelve times. He has now further added to this by saying, “This should be the next step on the journey, guaranteeing the 100th anniversary”.

He said: “The story focuses on the most important thing that ever happened to the Doctor. We very rarely do that in Doctor Who as it’s usually about the people the Doctor meets or the companion that travels with him. This time it’s different.”

More from Moffat here.

McQ by Alexander McQueen

Jenna Coleman has been doing some modeling. The Guardian has more pictures.

Joanna Page (Stacey of the British sitcom Gavin and Stacey) will play Queen Elizabeth. She discussed kissing David Tennant.

BBC America has released their schedule of shows for the 50th anniversary (via TV Addict). Beyond Day of the Doctor, highlights include An Adventure in Space and Time about the initial development of Doctor Who. The cast includes Jessica Raine of Call the Midwife as producer Verity Lambert.

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited Marathon – 9:00am – 9:00pm ET
The First through Tenth Doctor

Doctor Who: Tales from the TARDIS – 9:00 –10:00pm ET
An all-new special, Doctor Who: Tales from the TARDIS, features the series’ actors and producers sharing their experiences and memories of the world’s longest-running sci-fi show. The special features exclusive interviews with principal cast members from the show’s 50-year history, including actors who have played the Doctor: Matt Smith, David Tennant, Tom Baker, and Peter Davison, actors who have played companions: Jenna Coleman, Karen Gillan, Freema Agyeman, and William Russell, as well as the current lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat. The discussion includes how the actors got cast, how the roles changed their lives, how a ‘regeneration’ is recorded, and how filming the show in the 60′s compares to today.

The Science of Doctor Who with Brian Cox – 10:00–11:00pm ET
A former rock star and Britain’s popular TV physicist, Professor Brian Cox explores the universe of the world’s favorite Time Lord when he takes the audience on a journey into the wonderful universe of Doctor Who, with the help of celebrity guests. In this exclusively recorded special from the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Brian reveals the science behind the spectacle and explains the physics that allows Doctor Who to travel through space and time. Fun, but filled with real science, it’s a special night for Who fans and anyone with a thirst for understanding.

Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor Marathon – 10:00am –11:00pm ET

Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Marathon – 2:00am –11:00pm ET

Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part I – 9:00am – 11:00pm ET
The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith

Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part 2 – 9:00am – 8:00pm ET

Doctor Who Explained – 8:00pm – 9:00pm ET
An all-new special, Doctor Who Explained, explores the mysterious and two-hearted alien who is the Doctor. Through exclusive interviews with principal cast members from the show’s 50-year history, including actors who have played the Doctor: Matt Smith, David Tennant, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker as well as actors who have played companions: Jenna Coleman, Karen Gillan, and Freema Agyeman, viewers get an insight to what happens behind-the-scenes of the award-winning sci-fi show.

An Adventure in Space and Time – 9:00pm ET
What do you get when you mix C.S. Lewis with H.G. Wells, and sprinkle in a bit of Father Christmas? An alien Time Lord exploring space and time in a Police Box spaceship called the “TARDIS” (Time And Relative Dimension in Space). Written by Mark Gatiss, the BBC AMERICA co-production, the film stars David Bradley (the First Doctor, William Hartnell), Brian Cox (BBC Head of Drama, Sydney Newman), Jessica Raine (Producer, Verity Lambert) and Sacha Dhawan (Director, Waris Hussein). An unlikely trio of misfits set out to create a genre series that all ages would love. William ‘Bill’ Hartnell, displeased with his career, was presented with a chance to break out of the hard-man roles he’d become known for. And with the instincts of first time producer, Verity Lambert and first time director, Waris Hussein, the Doctor was born. As the success of the show grew, William went from unhappy curmudgeon to beloved television star who relished his career resurgence and found a new lease on life. But all good things come to an end. How will Bill face leaving behind the part that has made him a hero to millions of children? And can the show survive without him? Journey back fifty years through space and time to witness the exciting beginning and untimely end of the First Doctor in this touching drama.

Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part 3 – 1:00am – 2:00pm ET
The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor – Global Simulcast – 2:50pm ET
The centerpiece of BBC AMERICA’s celebrations is the global simulcast of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary special, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat. The Doctors (Matt Smith and David Tennant) embark on their greatest adventure across space and time. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. Starring Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Coleman, with Billie Piper and John Hurt. Last seen as the Doctor on January 1, 2010, this will be the first time David Tennant has reprised his role as the Tenth Doctor. During his reign as the Time Lord, Tennant appeared in three seasons as well as several specials. He was first revealed as the Doctor in the 2005 season finale, The Parting of the Ways. Meanwhile Billie Piper, who played companion Rose Tyler for two seasons following the reboot in 2005, will appear in the show for the first time since featuring in David Tennant’s last episode, The End of Time in 2010. The special is directed by Nick Hurran, executive produced by Steven Moffat, Faith Penhale and produced by Marcus Wilson.

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor encore primetime broadcast – 7:00pm ET.
BBC AMERICA will premiere exclusive Inside Look interviews with Matt Smith and David Tennant during the broadcast. The special will be followed by the premiere of new fantasy-adventure series Atlantis at 9:00pm ET.

The Graham Norton Show with guests Matt Smith and David Tennant – 10:00pm ET
Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and David Tennant make their first appearance together on BBC AMERICA’s hit talk show The Graham Norton Show. Emma Thompson, singer Robbie Williams and comedian Jimmy Carr will also be guests.

Doctor Who – Matt Smith Countdown – 9:00am – 8:00pm ET
BBC AMERICA counts down the top 11 episodes from the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, as voted on by fans.

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited –The Eleventh Doctor – 8:00pm –10:30pm ET
BBC AMERICA celebrates the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, in a new special of Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. Matt Smith first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and, after starring in the 50th Anniversary Special on November 23, will regenerate in the Christmas special. The Doctors Revisited begins with Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman (companion Clara Oswald), Karen Gillan (companion Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (companion Rory Williams), lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, among others, examining the human side of this Doctor and taking a look at how his extraordinarily long life has affected him. The special is followed by the Eleventh Doctor two-part story, The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, in which a strange summons reunites the Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan), Rory (Arthur Darvill) and River (Alex Kingston) in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret the Doctor’s friends must never reveal to him. These were the first Doctor Who episodes to be filmed in the U.S



I’ve frequently said that Arrow is far better than SHIELD, regardless of any comparisons of the DC versus Marvel lines. After an especially strong episode this week, League of Assassins, I’ve seen reviews (including at The Hollywood Reporter) calling Arrow the best live action superhero television series ever. Considering the competition, and poor translation of superheroes to television, this is a fairly low bar. The question then is whether it is compared to Heroes season one, which was excellent, versus the entire run of Heroes.

There is criticism of the current story lines on Arrow which everyone seems to agree with. It is not plausible that Laurel would be involved in the prosecution considering the conflict of interest. We know we have to accept unrealistic sequences when a man with an bow and arrow can regularly win out against guns. We also must ignore how people do not see though secret identities of people they know well. While this is necessary for the show to exist, they should avoid unrealistic scenarios unnecessary for superhero shows such as Laurel being involved with the prosecution in this situation.

There is more Marvel coming to television (besides a second rumored show on ABC about Agent Carter). They are planning for a set of thirteen episode series on Netflix of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Just as the movies led to a joint movie in The Avengers, these Netflix individual series will be followed by a joint mini-series entitled The Defenders. Considering that they have not done all that great a job with Agents of SHIELD, I wonder if it is a good idea to go ahead with four more series. Maybe, not being limited by the constraints of a prime time network television series these could be better for genre fans.

SHIELD really teased viewers last week. How many others were hoping that Simmons was not rescued when she jumped off the plan, and Fitz would follow her?


Spoiler TV has a lot of information on the upcoming television show, Almost Human in an interview with J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman:

The series is set in the year 2048 and stars Karl Urban as John Kennex, a cop who is forced to partner with an android (named Dorian) played by Michael Ealy after an increase in crime leads to all human law officers being accompanied by robots. J.J says that “The idea when Joel pitched it was that Dorian, who is a synthetic, was in some ways more human than his partner.” Wyman told reporters that Ealy heightened what was already on the page with “an incredible sense of thoughtfulness and compassion. He’s playing a character who is by design, literally, as brave and as knowledgeable and as strategic as you’d want your partner to be if you were riding along as a cop, but he’s also as sympathetic as you’d want. What Michael brings is that kind of depth and humanity.” His dubious partner, in turn, is “forced to kind of deal with the idea that his well-being now relies on this technology which he sort of holds in contempt.”

So what sets this latest series apart from the increasingly present action and sci-fi shows on networks today, let alone from the duo’s previous work in the genre? First of all, Wyman began, he wasn’t interested in presenting another dystopian vision of Earth’s future. “I hope that we’re not really in that territory and that we’re successful in that.” Often in the genre, the writer says, the outlook seems to be “‘Look what you humans have done!’ whereas what we’re talking about, I think, is a little more hopeful. There’s a sense of going forward. We’re resilient, we’re going to succeed.”

Abrams mentioned that unlike many of his past efforts this series has much less of an emphasis on mythology and will instead focus on a procedural case-of-the-week type format that will allow us to explore the characters as well as the unique complexities of navigating in an increasingly technology-reliant world. He also promised “a level of humor that is distinct from what we’ve done before” which backs up his partners talk of the series leaning towards a more ‘popcorn’ movie vibe than their previous collaboration. That’s not to say the show is all-action-all-the-time, as Wyman went on to explain his hopes to create a conversation about what these human-computers are at their core and how we should interact with them. “They’re thinking beings, so what are their rights? And where are those lines drawn? A lot of those things are sort of examined in our later stories: What is a robot? What is an android? What is a being?” Wyman, to be sure, did his homework. “J.J had set us up with some very brilliant people from MIT and one was a woman who studied robot ethics, which is pretty amazing, that they’re actually… real.”

The case also includes Minka Kelly of Friday Night Lights.

I haven’t had a chance to read J.J. Abrams’ new book, S., yet, but it looks intriguing. Besides a conversation in margin notes going along with the narrative of the book, there are many postcards, maps, and letters at various points in the book. Librarians are not very happy about this.

Alan Alda will be going up against James Spader’s character on The Blacklist later this season. I’m hoping for a reunion with William Shatner.

Adam Driver of Girls is being considered for the role of Dick Grayson/Nightwing in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. It is scheduled for release July 17, 2015.

When news came out about plans for Better Call Saul it was being called a prequel to Breaking Bad. There remains interest in what will happen to Saul after going to Nebraska, and now Bob Odenkirk says the show might be both a prequel and sequel.  There has been speculation that the show might be more of a comedy but Odenkirk says, “It’s going to be 70% drama and 30% comedy.” He also played down the speculation that characters from Breaking Bad will pay a major role in Better Call Saul. If it is a sequel, they should at least work in Gus and Mike. It is also feasible that Saul would cross path with a certain DEA agent, and a high school science teacher could briefly appear as long as any contact with Saul is minimal.

With the success of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and other books by Stieg Larsson in the United States, HBO is planning an hour-long series based upon the works of another Scandinavian author, Jo Nesbø. They are planning an adaptation of his 2008 novel, The Headhunters.

Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey will play Lancelot in Night at the Museum 3. It is hard to believe that the season finale already aired tonight on ITV. I haven’t watched today’s season finale yet, but as of last week there were several loose ends. I wonder how many were tied up tonight, and how many will be extended to the Christmas episode. Thanks to British television, Christmas has become a big television day with episodes of Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, and Call the Midwife. Update: News came in shortly after this was posted that Downton Abbey has been renewed for a fifth season.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, SHIELD, Arrow, Big Bang Theory & Other Sitcoms, Orphan Black, Star Trek, X-Files, Horror Shows, and SNL On Gravity & The Shutdown

Nine lost episodes of Doctor Who have been found in Nigeria.

The episodes come from two multi-part serials for which only one episode each was known to exist: “The Enemy Of The World” and “The Web Of Fear.” As a result of this discovery, “The Enemy Of The World” serial can now be watched whole in the UK for the first time since it was originally broadcast, and for the first time ever in the United States. Episode 3 of “The Web Of Fear” serial is still missing even after this discovery, but a reconstruction from stills and program audio is included to complete the story. All 11 episodes from the two serials exist on film and were digitally restored prior for this release.

Trailer for The Enemy of the World above. Mark Gatiss has said that Web of Fear has inspired the first episode of the third season of Sherlock.


The third episode of Agents of SHIELD was better than last week but still left a lot to be desired. Regardless of the show’s (lack of) quality, it has been picked up for a full 22 episode run. That is no real surprise considering how it helps promote the Marvel movies, and I’m sure Disney will also find other ways to profit from the show. I’m still hoping that everyone other than Agent Coulson gets furloughed during the government shutdown, especially Fitz and Simmons. Skye could conceivably be a good character if she was able to be more convincing as someone both working with SHIELD and a hacker group.

Arrow Oliver Summer Glau Felicity

Despite being limited to minor DC characters and being on CW, so far Arrow has been a much better show than Agents of SHIELD. As a plus, beyond the connection to DC, there is also a strong Doctor Who connection with recurring characters including John Barrowman and Alex Kingston. The producers are Doctor Who fans who are hoping to get Matt Smith to guest star.

The second season premier was a little uneven. There were great scenes, including a shoot out which seemed to be from Gotham City and the return to the island, but the show was hindered with some scenes to bring things up to date after a six month jump. This included the prison visits to Moira and the obligatory scene between Oliver and Laurel to place their romance on hold once again. It was good to see Summer Glau, but her character seemed to be even more of a robot than the robot she played on Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I have another nitpick with last week’s episode. When Oliver met with Summer Glau’s character, he was accompanied by John Diggle and Felicity. These two are his sidekicks when he does the vigilante thing, but they do not have comparable roles at Queen Consolidated. While I understand they want to place their main cast into as many scenes as possible, the business meeting should have been held with extras in suits who presumably have been running the country for the past six months while Oliver was gone and Moira was in prison. Despite the flaws of the first episode, I remain optimistic for an entertaining second season. Of course the major change is that Oliver now wants to be a hero instead of vigilante, going under a new name.


The new NBC comedies have been doing terribly in the ratings, making me hope that Community will return sooner than planned. Parks and Recreation is worth watching, even including an occasional genre reference. The rest of the shows have serious problems.  Unfortunately Parks and Recreation has to go up against The Big Bang Theory. They had an excellent episode with genre discussion last week. Amy destroyed Raiders of the Lost Arc for Sheldon by making an observation I had not thought of before. The story would have played out pretty much the same way if Indiana Jones wasn’t involved, with the Nazis taking the Arc, opening it, and suffering the same fate. Sheldon tried to retaliate by showing flaws in things which Amy liked. He pointed out things on Little House on the Prairie which didn’t belong in the era and said, “If I knew this show was about time travel, I would have watched it much sooner.” He also knocked Garfield: “Your precious Garfield has no reason to hate Mondays. He’s a cat. He has no job.” Meanwhile Leonard wanted to watch the full Blu-ray extended version of “The Hobbit” with long commentary instead of watching sports with Penny’s friends who he has little in common with : “It’s like they never even heard of Quidditch.” Plus there was an appearance by Leonard’s mother, played by Christine Baranski.

In a related item, here is a reference to all of Sheldon Cooper’s t-shirts.

I was pessimistic from the start that a US network would pull off an adaption of Gavin and Stacey, fearing it would be a flop as with the attempt at a US version of Steven Moffat’s fantastic sit-com Coupling. I was going to give Us & Them, the US adaptation, a chance due to staring Alexis Bledel. Fox has already given up on the show before it has aired, not planning to produce further episodes. I’ve seen conflicting reports saying that either six or seven have been filmed. Regardless of the number, there will be no more.

Joanna Page, the original Stacey, is appearing in The Day of the Doctor. She discussed the show in an interview posted here.

With a lack of successful comedies, NBC is looking at everything from a new sitcom staring Meg Ryan to a sitcom reboot of Remington Steele.

There have been a lot of stories over the past week about Robert Orci speaking with CBS about the possibility of a new Star Trek television series. I would love to see it happen. Star Trek belongs on television far more than in movies (not that the two are mutually exclusive). If anything, the talks are at a very early stage. Orci has now posted: “I THINK MY COMMENT HAS BEEN BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION. Someone asked about Star Trek TV, and I said we had inquired about the rights. Doesn’t mean a show is imminent nor do we assume CBS would want us to do that at this time. I refer you to the Roddenberry podcast for context.”

Gillian Anderson and  David Duchovny Revisit the Origins of ‘The X-Files’

There have been a number of cast announcements for the second season of Orphan Black and for Fargo, a ten-episode series to run on FX. The most interesting pick is the addition of Bob Odenkirk (Saul from Braking Bad) to the cast of Fargo.

There’s a Twitter feud between the writers of Elementary and Sleepy Hollow. Both shows have something in common as far as I’m concerned.  Both have episodes still sitting on my DVR as shows which I haven’t found good enough to keep up with. I still might give Sleepy Hollow another chance as time allows, primarily because of knowing that John Noble will be appearing. Fake Sherlock is a poor substitute for the “real” thing.

With Walking Dead returning, Oh No They Don’t took a look at How Horror Took Over Hollywood.

Saturday Night Live showed the impact of the government shutdown on Gravity.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, The Americans, Mad Men


This week’s episode of Doctor WhoRings of Akhaten, had a number of potential ideas but they didn’t gel into a coherent story. This was Clara’s first trip with The Doctor off of earth, returning to a place he says he once visited with his granddaughter. There is more on Clara’s back story, but not enough to tell yet how this plays into her mysterious past. I do suspect that the most important leaf in the world might have been guided when first hitting Clara’s father. We did find even more episodes where The Doctor observed Clara in her past. In a prequel the Doctor stumbled upon her while searching, not knowing who she was. It would make more sense if intentional episodes of observing Clara in her past were by the Doctor in the future after he actually met Clara.

The special effects staff saved up for years to make it look like they might step into the Star Wars Cantina at any moment.  There were “more aliens than  you can shake a cosmic screwdriver at.” The physics was more questionable with an implausible atmosphere and the whole story of a creature living off of memories and being sedated with a lullaby didn’t make terribly much sense. In last week’s episode, The Bells of St. John, the Doctor solved things too easily by reprogramming a Spoon Head. This week was far worse when the Cosmic Screwdriver could do everything from opening an unopenable door to fighting off monsters. Reportedly next week’s episode is much better.

Above is this week’s behind the scenes video.

I suspect that Moffat is up to some timey-whimey stuff with the Doctor and past visits to Clara. He also had some interesting plans if David Tennant had stayed on for another year:

I only had the roughest idea. Had David stayed for one final year, it would certainly have been his last, so my pitch was that it would start with the Tardis crashing in Amelia’s back garden – as now – and a terribly battered and bruised Tenth Doctor staggering out.

Amelia finds him, feeds him fish custard (no that was for Matt, it would have been something more Davidy) and generally helps him. But we, the audience, can see he’s in a truly bad way. Dying maybe. Eventually he heads back to his TARDIS, and flies off.

But when he returns – many years later for Amy – he seems perfectly fine, and indeed doesn’t remember any of those events…And of course over time, we realise what we saw was the Tenth Doctor at the end of his life, about to regenerate. Events that we return to in Episode 13…

Richard E. Grant, who has played several roles on Doctor Who including The Great Intelligence, will be appearing next season on Girls.

Christoper Eccleston has met with Steven Moffat but still could not be convinced to forget whatever caused him to leave and return for the 50th anniversary.


Above is David Tennant and Matt Smith working on the 50th anniversary episode.  Joanna Page  of Gavin and Stacey reportedly will also appear in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. There have been false rumors of Joanna Page appearing on Doctor Who in the past. This time it looks like it is true, with confirmation from BBC America.  Now they must bring back James Corbin and have a mini-Gavin & Stacey reunion.

Vulture shows how to remember the names of all the characters in Game of Thrones. BuzzFeed has all the stats you need on the sex scenes. Not surprisingly, most feature female nudity.

FX had another excellent episode of The Americans on last week but the episode ran seven minutes over, without including this in the listings, causing many recording the episode on a DVR to miss a key event in the final minutes. FX has the entire episode on line here. This week’s episode is scheduled to run until 11:03 (and this will hopefully be handled correctly in the program guides).

Channel 4 has announced that Misfits will end after its current fifth season.

Robert Redford will play the head of S.H.I.E.L.D in Captain America 2.

Don and Megan Dinner

Mad Men returns tonight. Here are Mad Men’s most memorable moments. Check out The Hollywood Reporter if you are having difficulty recalling where things left off last season. BuzzFeed gives eleven reasons to love Megan.   Inside TV looks at Megan’s independence.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Searching For Clara Oswald; The Bells of St. John; Revolution: Mad Men Returns; Rory Gilmore Engaged to Pete Campbell

A prequel has been released for The Bells of Saint John, next week’s episode of Doctor Who (video above). I bet pretty much everyone guessed how it would end pretty early in the clip, remembering how the Doctor also first met Amelia Pond as a young child.  The Doctor is searching for Clara but I’ve already found her in a couple places:

Here she is on the Titanic.

She has also been sighted in the United States during World War II, going out with Steve Rogers (before he became Captain America).

As can be seen in the above trailer, the Doctor does find Clara. We still do not know who she is, and are unlikely to guess according to Doctor Who Producer Marcus Wilson:

What’s lovely this year is that we’ve also got a thread running through these eight very different, very exciting stories – the mystery of Clara. She’s the impossible girl. The Doctor has met her twice before and both times she died. This time he’s determined to keep her alive and to discover who or what she really is. It’s a riddle that won’t easily be cracked. I defy anybody to guess it. Steven Moffat has found a way to lead everybody down the garden path and then knock them over with surprise at the end.

Above Jenna-Louise Coleman interviews Matt Smith

There’s also talk of revealing the Doctor’s greatest secret, and of a love triangle involving Clara and River Song.

Jenna-Louise Coleman appeared on Craig Ferguson’s show last week (video above).

Doctor Who first made the cover of Entertainment Weekly in July 2012 in a cover story about cult television. Now he is on the cover twice more with two different versions of the cover for this week’s edition on the 50th anniversary. (I was happy to find that my home and office waiting room copies each had the different cover). Here are the two covers:

Doctor WhoEntertainementWeekly1


But what happens after the anniversary? There’s another round of rumors that Matt Smith will leave the show after the Christmas Special, along with Jenna-Louise Coleman saying there may be a delay until the next season due to Steven Moffat being busy writing the 50th anniversary episode and Sherlock.

Revolution returns on Monday–view the first eight minutes above. Between the action scenes Aaron questions what Elizabeth knows. Now that Elizabeth has been reunited with her family it would not make any sense for her not to explain what is happening. We will see everything revealed in the thirteenth episode, to air April 8. Executive Producer Eric Kripke says this will open the door to new mysteries:

On revealing why the power went out

Kripke: In episode 13 Rachel reveals pretty much every single thing there is to know about why the blackout happened and every time I watch that scene– and she’s brilliant in it — but that scene’s a hard swallow every time because you’re like wow we’re just saying it. And it goes against many of your baked-in sure-weather instincts are not to have the scene that reveals every single thing in three minutes. And so we reveal really why the blackout happened but the card I think we have up our sleeve is I think the explanation really opens the door to much greater story possibility.

On Rachel’s role going forward

So Rachel’s quest is specific and she’s incredibly proactive. She’s making a straight line towards what it is that she needs to do. And the fun part that, you know, Eric had talked about before is that she also unloads everything; the entire secret, the entire history in one crazy conversation in Episode 13.

So I think that people will enjoy the fact that she has a lot to say and that her admonition or her quest is very powerful and proactive which I love in a character. It’s always nice to see women, people, anyone – your protagonist going after what she wants full force. So I think that’s going to be fun.

On what comes after that secret is revealed

Kripke: I don’t think we box ourselves in a corner. I think we open a door to a whole new world. And then we ask more questions. Because for me the story was never about what caused the blackout. I think it’s for me it’s like the show isn’t just based on one particular mystery, it’s based on these characters and this world and this kind of transformed landscape that they have these adventures in.

One of the more disappointing plot lines so far on Revolution was seeing how Aaron left his wife, feeling she would be safer without him. Kripke answered a question on this at PaleyFest2013:

Zac Orth wasn’t in the house, but his character Aaron was a hot topic nonetheless. When an audience member told the panel that he wasn’t a fan of how Aaron abandoned his wife so quickly, Kripke promised that that plotline would be addressed. ”He sees her again, and they’re able to work out their issues, and they do have a face-to-face,” he says. “She’s in the present day and you catch up with what she’s been doing for the past decade or so.”

Mad Men is also returning with a two-hour season premiere on April 7.  Promo above.

Last season  Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell)  and Alexis Bledel (better known as Rory Gilmore) had an affair. Now the two are engaged in real life.  With Bledel’s character undergoing the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treatment it is doubtful that their  affair will resume on the show. Plus Alexis Bledel is in a new pilot based upon the excellent UK sitcom, Gavin and Stacey, in which she will be dating Jason Ritter of The Event. Ritter was dating Lauren Graham (who previously played Rory Gilmore’s mother) last season on Parenthood. Meanwhile Pete Campbell’s wife on Mad Men, played by Alison Brie, is back on Community with an unknown future.

SciFI Weekend II: Doctor Who; Game of Thrones; Revolution; Princesses; Rory Gilmore; Lena Dunham and Seth MacFarlane Parodies

Doctor Who Return Motorbike

Doctor Who returns on March 30 to BBC1 and BBC America:

Following a record-breaking year, fan favorite Doctor Who returns with a modern day urban thriller, The Bells of St. John, written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (Sherlock).  Set in London against the backdrop of new and old iconic landmarks – The Shard and Westminster Bridge – The Bells of St. John introduces a new nemesis, the Spoonheads, who battle the Doctor as he discovers something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi. The premiere will be followed by seven epic episodes written by Steven Moffat, acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Beowulf), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Neil Cross (Luther) and Stephen Thompson (Sherlock).

The Doctor (Matt Smith) is joined by his new companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) for the latest set of incredible adventures through space and time. The duo finds new adversaries and familiar friends around every corner as they journey from the bottom of the ocean in a submarine to the center of the TARDIS and beyond. The Cybermen make a thunderous return and the Ice Warrior arrives in an unexpected place.

Steven Moffat, executive producer and lead writer, said, “It’s the 50th year of Doctor Who and look what’s going on! We’re up in the sky and under the sea! We’re running round the rings of an alien world and then a haunted house. There’s new Cybermen, new Ice Warriors and a never before attempted journey to the centre of the TARDIS. And in the finale, the Doctor’s greatest secret will at last be revealed!  If this wasn’t already our most exciting year it would be anyway!”

Also appearing this season are guest stars Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives, Mission: Impossible II), Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, Harry Potter), Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Richard E Grant (Iron Lady, Dracula), Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) and Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders, Law & Order: UK).  Additionally, mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Rachael Stirling (Tipping the Velvet) will appear on screen together for the first time. Doctor Who premieres Saturday, March 30, 8:00pm ET as part of Supernatural Saturday.

The Ice Warriors are to return to Doctor Who but two episodes of the original serial The Ice Warriors from 1967 are missing. There are now plans to make animated episodes to complete the story for DVD release.

It looks like John Barrowman might  be appearing in the 50th anniversary episode, or maybe not. He also says he has “moved on” from Torchwood.

There is also talk about Arthur Darvill returning for the 50th anniversary, but they would have to be careful with that. Perhaps they could meet up with Rory before he was sent back in time by the Weeping Angels. Otherwise it would be hard to explain bringing back Rory without Amy Pond. Even that might violate some time laws, but those rules have always been inconsistent.

Game of Thrones Season 3 extended trailer above. The series returns on March 31.

Revolution returns on March 25. A five part web series is being posted prior to its return. Series Creator Eric Kripke is comparing his show to Game of Thrones:

“We’ve seen personal relationship struggles and personal revolutions happen, but we haven’t seen how this particular power outage has affected the whole world. We’re about to,” Esposito teases. With the revolution finally beginning, everyone has their own role to play, roles that will take them outside of the Monroe Republic. “We’ll see the Georgia Federation this season, we’ll see the Plains Nation this season — and they’re wildly different nations … We really want this to evolve into kind of an American Game of Thrones.” Kripke says. But with the world expanding, don’t expect our recently reunited gang of misfits to stay together too long.

It would take a considerable about of improvement to see Revolution enter the same league as Game of Thrones but it is not a bad things that Kripke aspires to such quality.

Variety reports that Emma Watson is in early talks to play Cinderella in a Disney live-action adaptation.

Zoe Saldana, taking up the Star Trek/Star Wars crossover of Part I of today’s SciFi Weekend, also wants to be a princess. The actress who plays Uhura wants to be a princess in Star Wars VII.

Robin is dead, but  Superhero deaths have become meaningless.

gavin and stacey cast

Gavin and Stacey is one British television series which I would highly recommend watching. It has become easily available in the United States, including on Netflix. However, when I first heard of plans for an American version of the show I was wary as to  how well it would work. Some adaptations of British shows have done well, while others have been flops. The flops include Coupling, a fantastic British sit-com written by Steven Moffat. The show was about a group of friends who hung out a a bar and felt like a combination of Seinfeld and Sex and the City, with occasional references to Daleks. NBC tried to use an American adaptation to replace their show about Friends who hung out in a coffee shop, but the adaptation didn’t work in the United States.

Gavin and Stacey also had a couple of connections to Doctor Who. Several years ago the internet went wild over rumors that Joanna Paige (Stacey) was going to appear on Doctor Who as a Time Lady or relative of the Doctor. James Corden, who has appeared in episodes of Doctor Who including The Lodger, was creator and co-writer of Gavin and Stacey and appeared in the show as Gavin’s friend Smithy. Joanna Paige might be best known in the United States for her role in the British romantic comedy Love Actually as the sex-scene body double who spent much of the movie nude and having sex.

I have questioned the change from a relationship between a boy from near London and a girl from Wales to an American story. In the American adaptation,  Friends and Family, the role analogous to Stacey is moved from Wales to rural Pennsylvania. I had little interest in this show until the cast for the pilot was released: Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter.

Alexis Bledel is best known as Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. She also appeared in Sin City and recently appeared on Mad Men. With Alexis Bledel on the show I will definitely check it out. It is also amusing that Jason Ritter recently was involved with Lauren Graham (who played Rory’s mother on Gilmore Girls) on  Parenthood. Ritter also stared on The Event.

This impersonation of Lena Dunham auditioning for Zero Dark Thirty really nails her charter from Girls.

This is for female readers who were offended by Seth MacFarlane’s We Saw Your Boobs number at the Oscars (video above) not because it was tasteless and crude but because it only pandered to the prurient interests of male viewers–We Saw Your Junk:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who– Petrichor, For The Girl Who’s Tired of Waiting; The Wedding of River Song; Upstairs Downstairs; Community; Inspector Spacetime; Fringe; Terra Nova

Petrichor, while not used as frequently as Bad Wolf in a previous season, has become the word of the season on Doctor Who. Before its use in Closing Time,  Petrichor was mentioned in The Doctor’s Wife, first by Idris, and later Amy Pond used it as a telepathic password to enter one of the TARDIS’s old control rooms.

Idris: It means “the smell of dust after rain.”
Rory: What does?
Idris: Petrichor.
Rory: But I didn’t ask.
Idris: Not yet. But you will.

Closing Time was primarily, but not exclusively, a light show in which the Doctor visited his old friend Craig from The Lodger. Craig is played by James Corben, who co-wrote and acted in the fantastic BBC sit-com Gavin and Stacey. The episode also included Cybermen along with a view of Amy Pond’s perfume for the girl who’s tired of waiting (video above). Ultimately the story really didn’t matter. Corben’s role wasn’t as good as in The Lodger, but I’m always happy to see Craig/Smithy.

Near the end of the episode, the Doctor, wearing a stetson, was preparing to meet his fate. He spoke to some children before entering the TARDIS, and then the scene shifted to River Song reviewing interviews with the children about what they saw. The final moments (major spoilers ahead) confirmed what most suspected ever since Flesh and Stone. River Song kills the greatest man she ever knew, and this could only be the Doctor. The episode ended with an adult Dr. Song/Melody Pond being forced into the astronaut suit and is next seen under water, presumably at Lake Silencio.Here is the final scene and commentary from Steven Moffat:

Next week, The Wedding of River Song. The BBC has released this above prequel scene:

The BBC reports that Alex Kingston is also joining the cast of Upstairs Downstairs.

There was a second type of connection between Doctor Who and the Upstairs Downstairs genre of British television shows. On Community, it was claimed that Cougar Town was based upon the British television show Cougarton Abbey. This was intended to distract Abed until Cougar Town returns but Cougarton Abbey, like many British shows, wrapped up in a very short time. This led to Britta showing Abed another British show, Inspector Spacetime, seen in the video above. Who knew that there was a British time travel show a year before Doctor Who began?

Community managed to beat out the other Thursday night genre comedy, The Big Bang Theory, at least in terms of genre references. Besides including references to Cougar Town, Downton Abbey, and Doctor Who, the episode also had an  homage to the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Last week Fringe returned. Not only don’t we know where Peter Bishop is, everything else we knew could be changed in this timeline where adult Peter never existed. We already saw that Walter is somewhat different, never leaving his lab. There could be even bigger differences, such as perhaps characters who died in past seasons such as alt-Broyles still being alive.

Steven Spielberg’s latest television genre show, Terra Nova, starts tomorrow. The New York Times has a review. I’m glad that the show takes place in a different timeline, denying Sarah Palin the opportunity to use this as evidence that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; The God Complex; Smithy Returns to Doctor Who; TV Choice Awards; Merlin; Fringe

This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The God Complex, could be named after the monster of the week or the Doctor himself. During much of the episode the Doctor thought it was about a monster which lived off of fear but it turned out to live off of faith. To save Amy Pond he had to reduce her faith in the Doctor. Then he took Amy and Rory home to save them.

There was something wrong with the Doctor during this episode as he liked apples and a Rubik’s cube. The problem is that in The Eleventh Hour the Doctor hated apples and in Night Terrors he hated Rubik’s cubes. Could we be seeing two different Doctors as we go into the season finale in two weeks in which it appears that one Doctor does die?

Will this really be the end of Amy and Rory as companions? Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have signed on for next season, but the speculation is that it will be in a more part-time role as opposed to being the main companions. There is a report that makes it look like the Doctor is returning to where he dropped them off in the Christmas special.

Next week James Corden fills the role of a temporary companion as he did in last season’s episode, The Lodger. Corden co-wrote and acted in the British sit-com, Gavin and Stacey. Here is Corden offering to be a sperm donor for Gavin.

The BBC has released the official synopsis for the season finale, The Wedding of River Song.

As the Doctor makes his final journey to the shores of Lake Silencio in Utah, he knows only one thing can keep the universe safe – his own death – in the concluding episode of this series of the time-travelling drama. But has he reckoned without the love of a good woman?

Doctor Who fans can also enjoy an extra helping of the Time Lord’s adventures in a special, one-off mini episode written by schoolchildren in Doctor Who Confidential on BBC Three tonight.

The Doctor is played by Matt Smith, Amy by Karen Gillan and Rory by Arthur Darvill.

Doctor Who won for Best Family Drama and Karen Gillan won for Best Actress at the TV Choice Awards. Sherlock won for Best New Drama.

Merlin returns to BBC1 on October 1. Trailer above.

Another trailer for Fringe above. Fringe returns on September 23 to ask, and perhaps answer, the question, “Where is Peter Bishop.” It also looks like Lincoln Lee is back.


SciFi Weekend: Torchwood Returns as Doctor Who Goes On Hiatus

The final episode of Doctor Who until fall, A Good Man Goes To War, aired this weekend on BBC America. My review of the episode, after it aired on the BBC, previously appeared here. We now know who River Song is, but don’t really all that much more about how she fits into the Doctor’s life. Mysteries from the opening episodes of the season also remain to be answered.

Wired has video answers to some questions from fans answered by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and producer Beth Willis.

The Guardian reports that Doctor Who has been renewed for fourteen episodes (following the six episodes still to air this season). There is no official word, but it is assumed that this will mean a Christmas episode and a thirteen episode season (possibly in two parts again). Matt Smith will be returning. There is no official word regarding Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, but between the history of limited stays for companions and their commitments with other projects, it is assumed this is their final season

Companions sometimes do come back. John Borrowman, currently staring in Torchwood, has said he would be willing to return to Doctor Who as Captain Jack Harkness.

Torchwood begins a ten episode series on July 8. (Comments here include some spoilers which have been included in interviews with cast and crew.) This season, Torchwood will also be shown in the United States on Starz. The series has been set up to make it easy for American viewers who have not watched Torchwood in the past to start here. The series started as a spin off of Doctor Who.

The premise is pretty simple with Torchwood having been an agency to fight threats from aliens and other unknown entities. It was  initially formed by Queen Victoria in 1879 to protect us against the Doctor. In recent years, Captain Jack Harkness, a former companion of the Doctor who is immortal, has run a newer version of the organization. The first season started with the recruitment of policewoman Gwen Cooper (played by Eve Myles).

The first two seasons of Torchwood were comparable to stand-alone episodes of shows such as The X Files and Fringe while the third season contained a single story, Children of Earth. By the end of Children of Earth, Torchwood’s facilities were destroyed and only Jack and Gwen remained alive, leaving them open to reinvent the show for American audiences.

Changing the format to season long stories helps solve one of the problems of shows such as X-Files. A continuing mythology is more interesting, but if drawn out too long, as on X-Files, can get to the point where it no longer makes sense. Changing to stories with five to ten episodes provides the benefits of a continuing story line, but allows for resolution before it goes on too long.

Torchwood: Miracle Day is about a miracle happening on earth–nobody dies. There is also one twist. Captain Jack, who  is normally immortal, can die. SFX interviewed show runner Russel T. Davies. Here is a portion:

SFX: The basic concept of Miracle Day – the end of death – is massive. It changes religion, economics… You could run with that in a hundred different directions!

“You’re right, and we sat in a room for a long time all talking about those consequences.”

SFX: No death means no consequences, so I could imagine a three-minute-warning scenario where everyone’s looting and having sex in the streets!

“Well, in episode three there’s a great scene where Gwen and [CIA analyst] Esther walk through Washington at night, and it’s kind of a wild atmosphere, because half of the world is out drinking and the other half are at home praying, so we are acknowledging that sort of stuff. But at the same time, I think you should never forget that during the greatest national crises people just go to work, and go home, and get on with it. If this really happened, you and I would just carry on as normal. If something conceptual and huge has happened, nonetheless, you’ve got a deadline tomorrow, and I need to go to work and write a script tomorrow, and if our granddad is ill in bed, he’s still ill. So it’s a very unusual concept, in that it’s hard to dramatise in many ways. That’s why I like it. It’s a very powerful concept, because it takes hold subtly, and you have to find ways to dramatise it, because it’s not immediately obvious. The overpopulation isn’t obvious – it’s not like an extra 200 million people land on Earth today. So it’s unusual in that sense, and it’s been fun to dramatise and really challenging. And we’re still telling a great big rattling thriller, so you find ways to dramatise that.”

SFX: How long is the mystery about what’s caused it all sustained?

“It’s not one of those things that’ll annoy you! Round about episode six you start to get concrete answers, and episodes nine and ten finally explain it all properly. But all the way through Jack’s kinda ahead of the game in working out what’s going on. It’s a mystery, but in a way it’s not that mysterious. Obviously something’s happened to the world, but the most fascinating thing about what happens in terms of science fiction plotting is that it happens instantaneously. It’s not a virus, it hasn’t spread, it didn’t take a day for it to travel from the North pole to the South pole; it’s literally a flick of the switch and it’s happened. To Jack, that instantly suggests what has happened, and that takes a few episodes to evolve. It’s more about explaining what has happened to society while this has happened, that’s the real meat of the story. But it is explained in the end, and finding it out… this story goes back in history as well. We’ve got episodes that go back to 1927, so it’s a broad story covering continents and covering time as well; it’s one of those stories with a plot that’s been planned for decades, so there’s a lot of expanse and muscle in the story. The 1927 stuff is beautiful. I’m giving away too much!”

There are a few other things which newcomers to the show should be aware of. Gwen recently had a baby. She married the father of the baby, Rhys Williams, during the second season. Jack Harkness wound up sacrificing his grandson last season on Torchwood: Children of Earth, which affects his relationship with one of the characters this season.

Jack Harkness, played by gay actor John Borrowman, will sleep with pretty much anyone of any species or sex. Fortunately, to make it easy to remain true to the show’s history, the series will appear in the United States on pay cable, where pretty much anything goes. Entertainment Weekly reports that they will not shy away from the sexual aspect of the show:

According to the show’s cast and showrunner, the new series doesn’t hold back. “I knew they would be true to the show and not change drastically,” says star John Barrowman. “If it was watered down, I wouldn’t have done it. For those people who are our stanch fans, it’s going to have the heart and soul of Torchwood which we’ve always had, plus the energy and excitement of a show that’s bigger and better.”

As for his character’s love life, Barrowman says Capt. Jack “gets to have full-on boy-sex a couple of times. On those days going to work I’d wake up and Scott my partner would say, ‘What are you filming today?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh it’s going to be a tough day, I get to have sex with a 24 year old.’”

For Americans checking out Torchwood for the first time, a TV action hero who beats up bad guys, saves the world, and wins the boy is likely a new experience. But showrunner Russell T Davies says that, contrary to what Americans might assume about all European countries, our primetime lineup is more progressive about showing gay characters. “The portrayal of gay, bisexual, and lesbian characters [in America] is currently way ahead of Britain,” Davies says. “The kids on Glee, the beauty and detail of that couple on Modern Family. We’ve got nothing like that. Even a nice Republican sitcom like $#*! My Dad Says, a show I quite liked, was stacked with intelligent gay-friendly stories, and that’s in a corner you’d never expect to find them. If course, it’s all the gay men and women sitting on writing teams pushing their stories forward, which I think is wonderful.”

The real difference between British shows and American network television is what can be shown. American shows, even network shows, have no problem with gay characters. Shows from the U.K. have had openly gay characters, but can be less open about their homosexuality. They have had a gay hero on Torchwood. On the other hand, Stacey (Joanna Page) on Gavin and Stacey had an openly gay brother but her Uncle Bryn’s (Rob Brydon) implied homosexuality is never openly mentioned.

The BBC is not going to be as upset with a minor “wardrobe malfunction” or brief nudity which could never be shown on American network television. In contrast, pay cable frequently has nudity. For example, Starz has had nudity on shows such as Camelot. While I don’t expect them to go as far on Torchwood, Starz should not have any problems with scenes which could appear on the BBC but not American broadcast networks.