SciFi Weekend: New Director For Star Wars; JJ Abrams Book Out This Week; Doctor Who News; X-Men; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Thor

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With J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars, a replacement is needed for the next Star Trek movie. I see this as a good thing. Abrams can make a slick blockbuster movie, but I think that Star Wars is a much better fit for him than Star Trek. There is certainly value in how Abrams has revived interest in Star Trek, but he does not really get Star Trek. Perhaps new blood can help revive the best of Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the show. Deadline reports on a possible replacement:

We know that Paramount and Skydance Productions lost JJ Abrams as the director of the third installment of Star Trek when Abrams took on Star Wars. I’m hearing the studio is sweet on Joe Cornish to direct the next film. Cornish made his feature directorial debut on Attack The Block, the saga of a group of British youths who stave off an alien invasion in their rough neighborhood.

Cornish followed by being one of the writers on The Adventures Of Tin Tin, and he and Edgar Wright wrote the script for Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that Wright is going to direct. Long story short, he’s gotten exposure to bigger scale projects than Attack The Block, in which he admirably depicted a full scale alien invasion on a relatively small budget. Doing a movie like this would certainly put his career on a warp speed path. He’s already working with Paramount on the novel adaptation Snow Crash which he’s prepping to present to the studio. It’s early days on this, but stay tuned. Paramount is readying the movie to shoot in summer, 2014.

I don’t know anything more about Cornish than this, but I would like someone else to get a chance at Star Trek in place of Abrams. This does not mean I don’t like other works by  J.J. Abrams. Again, I just think that Star Trek was not a good fit for him. I have ordered his upcoming novel S. Wired says this is like downloading Lost to your brain:

S by Abrams

Let’s get the tl;dr version out of the way first: If you were a fan of Lost — and especially the speculation and theorizing that surrounded the show itself — then S., the novel/meta-narrative by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, is pretty much written for you. At times, it feels as if reading the book is like having the entirety of Lost (the television series and the fandom alike) downloaded into your head simultaneously.

As much S. is, as the slipcover helpfully describes, a “love letter to the written word” (which it is, but we’ll get to that later), it’s also very much a love letter to Abrams’ career to date. There are oblique references to almost all of Abrams’ past projects throughout the book: the romance tales of Felicity; the constantly-revised concepts of identity in Alias; the supernatural existentialism of Lost; the genre pastiche of Super 8; the found object storytelling of Cloverfield. All we needed was an appearance from the Starship Enterprise as commanded by Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible movies and we’d practically have a full set.

Despite that, though, S. – a fictional artifact, much like the found film of Cloverfield – hangs together surprisingly well. That’s an odd thing to say about something that has at least four different interconnected narratives unfolding at the same time, although not necessarily in chronological order, a la Lost‘s signature flashback-flashforward storytelling. Perhaps you remember the original video tease for S., which appeared online this summer without any explanation:

The video connects to and contains Ship of Theseus, a novel written by a mysterious political dissident known as “V.M. Straka.” Little is known about Straka,  even by “F.X. Caldeira,” the translator of his works and publisher of this final novel, published after Straka’s disappearance and assumed death. Ship is one of the texts of S., with Caldeira’s footnotes for the novel offering a second text that seemingly gives context into Straka’s life and identity.

And then there is a third layer: The copy of Ship that exists in S. has been heavily annotated by a scholar researching Straka’s identity who doesn’t quite agree with Caldeira’s footnotes. His notes soon become a conversation with Jen, a grad student with too much time on her hands, as well as a chip on her shoulder and numerous secrets in her past. That conversation becomes the fourth text, another thread to follow…

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It appears there will be a mini-episode released, perhaps prior to The Day of the Doctor:

The British Board of Film Classification have announced today that a minisode has been made for The Day of the Doctor, entitled The Night of the Doctor. The BBFC passed the material for release in the UK. The minisode has a running length of six minutes and fifty-four seconds, and stars David Tennant and Matt Smith.

While, as far as we know, Peter Davison does not appear in The Day of The Doctor, he will have a role in the 50th Anniversary celebration of Doctor Who.

Cory Doctorow discussed Traversable Achronal Retrograde Domains In Spacetime, a physics paper on “the spacetime through which Doctor Who’s Tardis travels.” Note the acronym. There is also a version for non-physicists, The Blue Box White Paper,

What Culture! gives a detailed analysis of the trailer to X-Men: Days of Futures Past (trailer above)

Deadline reports that Paramount is fast tracking an upcoming movie written by David Chase:

In a big spec deal, Paramount Pictures has acquired Little Black Dress, a script by The Sopranos creator David Chase that will be fast-tracked to be the next film Chase directs. I’m told that this is a character-driven film about a twentysomething female war veteran who comes back from Afghanistan grappling with a disability. While working a potentially lethal investigation at a post-war job, she gets involved with a superstitious NYPD detective who helps bring her back from a personal precipice.

Arrow Crucible Black Canary

Arrow remains the better of the two prime time shows which tie into the DC and Marvel comic universes. This week, not only was Black Canary’s identify revealed, but it tied into Oliver’s back story both at home and to the flash backs on the boat (or both boats). Next week: The League of Assassins.

There was not a new episode of Agents of SHIELD this week. The previous week there was a rather lame explanation as to what Sky is looking for–information on her parents. I suspect they are working towards a parallel between Sky and Agent Coulson both looking for secrets which SHIELD is hiding from them–once Coulson realizes that there is a secret about “magical Tahiti” and his return from the dead. Still, they might have come up with something a little more creative for Sky.

The November 19 episode of SHIELD, entitled The Well will be a cross-over, taking place after the events of Thor: The Dark World. The episode will be directed by Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, sort of making this a three-way cross over.

The official synopsis reads: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of SHIELD pick up the pieces – one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team.”

Thor Agent Coulson

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SciFi Weekly: Doctor Who; SHIELD; JK Rowling Exposed as Mystery Writer; Star Trek3; Summer Glau; Kristen Bell; The Newsroom

A prom apparently has a different meaning in the U.K. than in the United States. There were rumors that the identity of the next Doctor would be revealed at a prom this weekend. That didn’t occur, but there was an appearance by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the video above.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Steven Moffat. Following are some of the more interesting/news worthy answers:

Are you hoping the new Doctor will appear in this year’s Christmas special?
Yes. That’s not the hope — that’s the plan. It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]

Am I right in thinking that the new series—the first post-Matt shows—will be broadcast in late summer 2014?
I think that’s probably right. But these things change so often.

What can you tell us about this November’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary show?
[Laughs] Oh, well, very, very little. It will feature of course Matt and Jenna Coleman, but in addition there’ll be Billie Piper and David Tennant and John Hurt. But we’ve been really quite careful. We have a philosophy that anything we shot outside we had to own up to but the rest of it…You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about.

What is the format of the 50th anniversary special? Is it movie-length?
It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

How much longer do you yourself intend to stay with the show?
I think a year at a time. I’ve signed up for this next year, with the new Doctor. It’s one of those jobs when you know when you’ve had enough. At the moment I haven’t had enough and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m very excited for the challenge of the new Doctor and establishing that new Doctor. So, no plans to leave as yet. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be here for 20 years. There will come that day when I think it’s time someone else had a go and it’s time I did something else.

You’re also the executive producer of Sherlock. Have you finished shooting the new series yet?
Oh, I wish! We’ve done two. But we’ve now got a small gap — a small gap? A large gap! — while Martin (Freeman) goes back to New Zealand to film a bit more of the Hobbit and then he’ll return to us. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll actually have finished the Sherlock script I’m writing and we’ll make another one.

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Entertainment Weekly has picked up some news on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in preparation for their Comic-Con panel. Here are a couple of the top items:

1. The pilot hints at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clarke Gregg) was resurrected  to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers (his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues say he must “never know the truth” about his death). Yet you’ll have to keep watching to learn the full story. “We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. “[But] we’re going to take our time.”

2. The S.H.I.E.L.D. story will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming. In fact, the first episode will pick up a storyline that’s familiar from one of the Marvel hits — and it’s not The Avengers. “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends,” says Jed Whedon, who points out the trick is to make the audience not ask a certain fanboy-bar-fight-style question: “In any of these [episodes], you can always ask: ‘Why don’t they just call Iron Man?’” Yeah, that would be annoying! So our next question is: Why don’t they just call Iron Man? “They are aware of each other,” Whedon says of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the metal-suited Malibu playboy, “but they do have to have their own lives.”

Cuckoo Calling

J.K. Rowling had a detective novel published under the name of Robert Galbraith earlier this year, with her identity leaking out this week. io9 has a rundown of reviews of the novel, which sound quite favorable. Conveniently, the book is scheduled for paperback release later this month.

Zachary Quinto has this speculation regarding the next Star Trek movie:  “Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet.” That would make it difficult for J.J. Abrams to direct as he will be busy with Star Wars. Presumably they will want to release the next movie for the 50th Anniversary in 2016.

With J.J. Abrams directing movies for both franchises, and with the recent Star Trek movies in many ways being more Star Wars than classic Star Trek, the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan wars seem to have died out. George Lucas provides more reason for peace between the two:

The documentary “Trek Nation” chronicles Rod Roddenberry’s personal journey to explore the importance of the legendary sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father Gene.

The film comes to DVD on Tuesday, and among the bonus materials included in the release is an interview with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas talking about the important role “Star Trek” played in paving the way for his own space opera.

“‘Star Trek’ softened up the entertainment arena so that ‘Star Wars’ could come along and stand on its shoulders,” Lucas said in an interview.

While Star Trek worked far better as a weekly show than as movies, it also must be kept in mind that Star Trek probably would have never been released as a movie, reviving the franchise, if not for the success of Star Wars.

Summer Glau

Summer Glau has been cast for a recurring role on Arrow:

Glau, who has amassed plenty of genre street cred in TV series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most recently as a recurring on Syfy’s Alphas, is set to play the dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Kristen Bell (currently busy filming the Veronica Mars movie) will have a guest appearance on Parks and Recreations next season, in an episode to air in early October:

After shooting the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell will guest-star in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ingrid, a snooty City Councilwoman from Eagleton. “She’s Leslie’s equivalent, but richer and better dressed,” executive producer Michael Schur tells EW. The two will first meet up at the annual Pawnee-Eagleton high school basketball game. Bell and Parks actor Adam Scott previously worked together on Party Down and Veronica Mars, and she currently stars with frequent Parks guest Ben Schwartz on House of Lies.

A lot happened in last week’s True Blood–the type of changes and revelations we might not have expected until towards the end of past seasons. The show certainly has its flaws, and I almost gave up on it a few times, but enough is happening this season to keep my interest.

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The Newsroom returns for a second season tonight. Oliva Munn discussed preparation for her role on The Newsroom with Vanity Fair:

“I write a lot of notes in my scripts,” she explains. “It’s important for me to have them there as a reference so I can keep on track for what I’m wanting to convey. Sometimes, no matter how much I prepare, I can let my emotions of the day affect my choices in a scene, so I like to have my notes with me to remind myself of what track I should be on. And with scripts as complicated and rich as Sorkin’s, it’s vital for me. My notes become my sheet music.”’

Netflix is quickly establishing itself as a service worth subscribing to for its original content now that there are multiple choices for on-demand movies. Orange Is The New Black premiered this week and is up to premium cable standards, and they are negotiating for a second season of Arrested Development. Besides their original series, Netflix recently released the excellent BBC2 series The Fall before it completed its run in the UK.

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SciFi Weekend: Trailer For The Doctor Who Christmas Special; Lost Episodes; Doctor Who And Other Movies; Downton Abbey; Arrested Development; 24; Community; Trek Nation; Catwoman at OWS

A trailer has been released for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special--The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe. The title gives away the story which this year’s special is inspired by.

The trailer was presented during the skit above at Children In Need.

Wired has a story on Richard Molesworth’s search for lost episodes of Doctor Who.

There have been rumors of making another Doctor Who movie for quite a while, and there was a report from Variety which has obtained considerable attention this week:

“Harry Potter” director David Yates is teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi TV series “Doctor Who” into a bigscreen franchise.

Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, told Daily Variety that he is about to start work on developing a “Doctor Who” movie with Jane Tranter, head of L.A.-based BBC Worldwide Prods.

“We’re looking at writers now. We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right,” he said. “It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”

Unlike some of the earlier rumors, this story involves a new take on the character:

Yates made clear that his movie adaptation would not follow on from the current TV series, but would take a completely fresh approach to the material.

“Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch,” he said.

Yates and Tranter are looking for writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too,” he explained.

The validity of this is unclear, including a denial from the BBC. The prospect of such a movie has some Doctor Who fans worried. Despite these concerns, I imagine that viewers could keep straight the fact that there are two different Doctor Who stories, keeping the television show and movie series separate. I don’t see much of a point in a single stand-alone Doctor Who movie which is not connected to the television series.  It would be a different matter if this results in both a successful television and movie series, but it will be harder to succeed as a movie. As was clear with Star Trek, a movie might have bigger production values, and bigger stories, but with a continuing television series it is often all the small stories presented over time which are more important. Without writers connect to the show, it may or may not manage to capture what makes Doctor Who great. StevenMoffat expressed his skepticism with this sarcastic tweet: “Announcing my personal moonshot, starting from scratch. No money, no plan, no help from NASA. But I know where the moon is – I’ve seen it.”

Moffatt has also commented on the move of Doctor Who to the fall:

“Very soon now, Doctor Who is going to enter production for the longest sustained period we’ve ever attempted, and the biggest and best and maddest time ever to be a fan of this wonderful old show is rumbling towards us. And yes, you got me. We needed a little more time to prepare for everything we’ve got planned. That, above all, is why we needed this tiny gap. Just be a tiny bit patient, and trust me, we’ll make it up to you.”

There are some other movies of interest which look like they are going to be made. This includes Arrested Development, but the bigger news is that prior to the movie there will be additional episodes of the show which will be available over Netflix in 2013. Exclusive streaming of new episodes of Arrested Development could bring back some of the subscribers who abandoned Netflix after their price hike for combined streaming and DVD rentals. It also looks like they really are going ahead with the movie version of 24.

Downton Abbey won’t be released at the movie theaters, but the Christmas special will be feature-length. The first photo from the special has been released (above). The special will bring the show into 1920, with a third season having been announced with eight additional episodes taking place over the next eighteen months. Personally I wish ITV and the BBC could get together for a combined special. If the Doctor is already going back to World War II for the Christmas special, why not go back another generation and have the TARDIS wind up at Downton? I think  Lady Mary would make an excellent companion if Amy Pond isn’t around. Downton Abbey already has ties to fantasy and to Doctor Who. Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess, has also played Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies. Hugh Bonneville has appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who, The Curse of the Black Spot and A Good Man Goes to War, as the pirate Captain Avery.

NBC is making changes to its line up in January. 30 Rock returns but Community goes on hiatus with return date not set. Why not just dump some junk such as Whitney and keep Community on the schedule? If there is no Community, that means no Inspector Spacetime.

Showtime has announced that Dexter has been renewed for two additional seasons:

“The series is bigger than it’s ever been in its sixth season, both in terms of audience and its impact on the cultural landscape,” said Showtime topper David Nevins. “Together with Michael, the creative team on the show has a very clear sense of where they intend to take the show over the next two seasons and, as a huge fan, I’m excited to watch the story of Dexter Morgan play out.”

I wonder if this means they are working towards a conclusion of the series over the next two seasons.

Trek Nation will premier on the Science Channel on November 30 (trailer above).

The documentary “Trek Nation” explores “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision and its impact on viewers’ lives through the eyes of his son Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, Jr. When the legendary Gene Roddenberry passed away almost 20 years ago, his son was only 17 years old. Now director Scott Colthorp takes us along as he follows Rod on a very personal quest: through startling and revelatory conversations with actors, fans, NASA personnel, politicians and celebrities, Rod seeks to finally understand the man he barely knew: his father.

Catwoman turned out at an Occupy Wall Street Rally. The presence of wealthy actress Anne Hathaway wound up freaking out many right wing bloggers who have no understanding (and I doubt have the mental capacity to understand) what Occupy Wall Street is actually all about. (Hint: it is not about opposition to having wealth or making money. Many in the top one-percent realize the dangers of an economic system rigged to help only them which is acting to destroy the middle class in this country).

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SciFi Weekend: New Development on Fringe; Robocop Statue For Detroit; Interview with Rick Berman; Star Trek Meets Doctor Who; Star Trek Girl

Fringe returned to the alternative universe in this week’s episode. Other than for the characters being the  cooler versions from the other universe, most of the episode seemed like it would have worked as a stand-alone story in either universe. (Major spoiler ahead). In the end we found the reason why this story had to take place over there–Fauxlivia found out that she is pregnant and Peter is the father.

The ramifications of this are obvious, having recently learned that which universe survives might come down to which Olivia is chosen by Peter. The mother of his child might have a significant advantage over the Olivia from our universe who is not even certain whether she wants to continue a relationship with Peter. Who could blame Peter if he goes back to Fauxlivia after Olivia broke things off after finding Peter had slept with Fauxlivia. His argument for sleeping with another woman–she is an exact duplicate of you from another universe–is far stronger than Ross’s argument to Rachel that “we were on a break.”

Fringe head writers J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner had hinted that there would be a big revelation during a conference call before the episode aired. They also discussed its importance:

One reporter, who had already seen the new episode, entitled “Immortality,” phrased his question vaguely so as not to spoil anything. He asked if the ramifications of the reveal will “make it’s way to our universe sooner rather than later?”

Wyman and Pinkner responded, “The information and the reality of what is happening over there will get to our side rather sooner.”

They mentioned that one thing they enjoy about Fringe is the ability to tell traditional, mundane storylines (like a man cheating on his girlfriend) in new ways (like a man cheating on his girlfriend with a version of her from another reality). “The reveal,” they continued, “will not unfold in a way that I think is traditional.”

They also stated that “Peter will also come clean to Olivia about murdering the shapeshifters in an upcoming episode.”

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has turned down the idea of a statue of Robocop to be built in Detroit.  Science fiction fans didn’t go along with the idea to ignore the hero of the 1987 movie which took place in Detroit. There is a movement to obtain private contributions to build the statue. There are already several examples of statures honoring fictitious characters in other cities including a statue of Rocky in Philadelphia,  Superman in Philadelphia, and Yoda in San Francisco.
Rick Berman Captain Kirk Picard

The official Star Trek site has a three part interview with Rick Berman. In Part I he discussed how he was chosen by Gene Roddenberry and ultimately took over the Star Trek universe:

One of the things you did NOT have in common was Star Trek

Berman: I made it very clear to Gene that I had not watched The Original Series. I had seen one of the movies. I’d probably seen a few episodes of The Original Series at some point, in my pre-college or college period. But it was nothing I was serious about watching at the time. A day or two later I got a call from Gene’s confidante and attorney, Leonard Maizlish, who said that Gene wanted to go to the studio and ask for me to be released from my vice-president-ship so that I could come work with him on this new series. I think his reasons were two-fold. First of all, I was young compared to the other people who were involved with the project at the time, because Gene was dealing with Bob Justman and Eddie Milkis and Dorothy Fontana, people who’d worked with him on the original series. I was a good 20 years younger than this group.

More importantly, Gene was very specific about the fact that my not knowing much about Star Trek was something he was very attracted to. He wanted somebody involved in the production of the show who did not grow up with Star Trek and wasn’t enamored by it over the previous two decades like most of the people who were involved with show. We’re talking about before the (TNG pilot) script was written. So that was how I began. I think I was co-executive producer along with Bob Justman, and I was asked by Gene to be involved with the creative elements of the show, where Bob was more involved with the production and budgetary ends of the show.

Let’s dig into some complicated ground. Roddenberry got sick, became less involved and eventually passed away. What were your thoughts, as the torch was handed on, about following his vision versus doing what needed to be done to make the show work versus any urge you might’ve had to put your own imprint on TNG?

Berman: It was never a sense to me of a torch being passed. That all sounds great in retrospect, but things are never quite as clear-cut as that. As the first few years of TNG went on, Bob Justman left the show and Maurice Hurley and I were involved. And then Maurice left and a fellow named Michael Wagner was hired. He lasted a very short time, and then Michael Piller came on. Gene was comfortable with me taking care of the day-to-day supervision of this program that he’d been involved with for about two years at that point, and he stepped back. He’d come to the office every day. He did a lot of correspondence with people. He and I would talk a lot. He’d read some scripts. But his involvement got smaller and smaller as the months went on. Then he got ill and his involvement got quite a bit less. By the time he passed away, I was, I guess you could say, running TNG along with Michael Piller. And I’d been asked by Brandon Tartikoff, at the time, to develop a new show. This was something that I discussed with Gene, who felt very positive about it. But he was quite ill at the time and wasn’t really interested in getting involved with what it was or what it was going to be about. I would like to think that he had faith in both myself and Michael, who I asked to work with me on what became Deep Space Nine.

So, by the time Gene died, there was no sense of “Oh my God, this great responsibility has been put on my shoulders.” I was doing the job I’d been doing for a couple of years and Gene had become, in a sense, a producer emeritus of the organization. I had absolutely no thoughts about putting my own imprint on Star Trek. My interest was to continue to try to do the best work that I could and to hire the best people that I could and to continue on with what Gene set out to do with TNG. It was my hope that the direction we went in with DS9 – and onward with the other shows — was something he would have thought was the right direction to go. I don’t see myself, nor have I ever seen myself, as a visionary who wanted to put his ideas onto the show. I wanted to be as truthful as I could to Gene’s vision, and that was something I was more than comfortable with.

During the second part of the interview Berman discussed the three spin-offs after STTNG, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  This is from the discussion of Deep Space Nine, which I felt was the only spin-off which compared in quality with the original show and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Going into DS9 — with a space station, stories about war, politics and religion, a fractious crew and a commander of color — how ready were you for the backlash from the portion of the fan base that felt the show wasn’t their father’s Star Trek?

Berman: At that point, our biggest concern was to do something different. We had a show that was on the air. We had no idea how long it was going to be on the air, but we knew that it was going to continue to be on the air for at least another few years. We didn’t want to send another crew out on a spaceship at the same time the TNG crew was out on the Enterprise. Michael (Piller) and I spent a long time thinking about this. One of the things that Brandon Tartikoff, who was the head of the studio at the time, suggested was The Rifleman, which was a show that he loved when he was a kid. It’s a father and a son out doing good deeds on the prairie. This was an era when television executives loved to say, “Let’s do The Partridge Family meets Father Knows Best.” Roddenberry evidently had talked about “Wagon Train in space” 20 years before and DS9 was “The Rifleman in space.” I think what Michael and I ended up pulling from that was the idea of a father and a son, and we chose to do the story of a man who had recently lost his wife, who was very bitter, and was sent to a very distant space station that was not a Federation facility. As a result, we could have a lot of non-Starfleet people.

One of the big problems that Michael and the writing staff (on TNG) had was Gene that believed that in the 24th century there wouldn’t be any conflict between the major characters. Mankind had reached a point where the kind of human conflict that exists today had subsided, and the writers all believed very strongly, in fact, that drama is based on conflict, and they were very frustrated by that. And they were frustrated very often by notes they got from Gene about how he didn’t want conflict between anyone in Starfleet, primarily the main cast of the show. So, what Michael and I felt was that if we placed the show on a Bajoran space station we would have characters like Odo and Quark and Kira, who were regular characters, who were not only not human, but they were also not Federation, and thus conflict could exist among the series regulars.

The religious elements you mentioned were not really part of our initial thoughts. That was stuff that evolved. But the idea of a wormhole that led to another part of the galaxy gave us new fodder. As far as hiring a black actor to play Sisko, this was something that meant a great deal to Michael Piller. My feeling was it would be great if we could find the right actor, but that if we couldn’t find the right actor, I felt that it wasn’t necessary to go with a black actor. But we very much wanted to find a black actor who could pull it off because it was time for that. When we met Avery (Brooks), when he came in and read for the role, we felt it was a slam dunk.

Berman also admitted it was a mistake to end Enterprise with characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Personally I was not bothered by this, considering how weak the entire series was compared to STTNG, but if there really were fans of Enterprise I could see their objections).

Not to beat up on Enterprise, but we’ve got to ask about the finale. “These Are the Voyages…” was clearly the most controversial Trek finale. Some fans groused it was only an hour long, but the more strenuous gripe was that it folded four years of Enterprise into a TNG episode. Were you surprised by the hostile reaction?

Berman: Totally. I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react. We were informed with not a whole lot of time that this was our last season. We knew that this was going to be the last episode of Star Trek for perhaps quite some time – and here we are, almost six years later. So it was the last episode for quite a length of time. It was a very difficult choice, how to end it. The studio wanted it to be a one-hour episode. We wanted it to be special. We wanted it to be something that would be memorable. This idea, which Brannon and I came up with – and I take full responsibility – pissed a lot of people off, and we certainly didn’t mean it to. Our thought was to take this crew and see them through the eyes of a future generation, see them through the eyes of the people who we first got involved in Star Trek with 18 years before, with Picard and Riker and Data, etc., and to see the history of how Archer and his crew went from where we had them to where, eventually, the Federation was formed, in some kind of a magical holographic history lesson.

It seemed like a great idea. A lot of people were furious about it. The actors, most of them, were very unhappy. In retrospect it was a bad idea. When it was conceived it was with our heart completely in the right place. We wanted to pay the greatest homage and honor to the characters of Enterprise that we possibly could, but because Jonathan (Frakes) and Marina (Sirtis) were the two people we brought in, and they were the ones looking back, it was perceived as “You’re ending our series with a TNG episode.” I understand how people felt that way. Too many people felt that way for them to be wrong. Brannon and I felt terrible that we’d let a lot of people down. It backfired, but our hearts were definitely in the right place. It just was not accepted in the way we thought it would be.

In Part III, Berman talked about the Star Trek movies he was involved with, along with the more recent remake by J.J. Abrams:

Speaking of the Abrams film, did you see it and what did you think of it?

Berman: I thought it was a wonderful movie. It was very, very big. You have to remember, I did four movies with incredibly restrictive budgets. The philosophy when I made movies was, “We know we can make X number of dollars off a Star Trek movie, so don’t spend more than Y number of dollars.” The lengths that (Abrams’) film went with its visual effects and production values were so astonishing to me. I thought the story was wonderful and a lot of the acting was terrific. I’ve just gotten to a point where these big action films filled with computer-generated stuff from beginning to end are starting to wear on me a little bit. To me, the movie, like Iron Man or any of these big, incredibly expensive films dealing with tens upon tens of millions of dollars worth of visual effects… it was a very, very exciting movie. In terms of it having the heart of Star Trek, I think it could have perhaps had a little bit more of that. But I liked it very much.

Deviant Art presents the above picture mixing Star Trek and Doctor Who. Kirk, Spock, the Doctor, and Amy Pond fight off Klingons, Romulans, Daleks, and Cybermen. (Click on picture for larger version).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryo-GtOgi7s&hd=1

Here’s one of the best YouTube music videos since Obama GirlStar Trek Girl. With her references to going to Vulcan I’m happy to see that Star Trek Girl clearly lives in the Roddenberry universe and not the J.J. Abrams universe.

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SciFi Weekend: Torchwood to US; Kissograms on Doctor Who; Rebooting An Old Roddenberry Series; Caprica Premiers; Rob Lowe Leaving Kitty

The Hollywood Reporter has a story on the possibility of Fox picking up Torchwood. Russell T. Davis would write it and John Barrowman might still star, but I still have my doubts about this working as an American television show. Many shows with science fiction aspect have had difficulty making it in the United States. One of the features which makes Torchwood special is being a more serious show taking place in the Doctor Who universe which would be unfamiliar to many American audiences. Even under the best of conditions, far too many genre shows such as Firefly and Dollhouse have died quickly on Fox.

It also does not always work to try to translate successful British television series to the American networks. Some such as The Office have been successful but there have also been many flops. Two examples of such failures in recent years have been Life on Mars and Coupling. The American version of Coupling also showed that having the writer of the original BBC version does not guarantee success. Coupling, which NBC had hoped to be the replacement for Friends (and which was in many ways more like a combination of Seinfeld and Sex in the City) failed for several reasons in the United States. They used the same scripts as were used on the BBC–written by incoming Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat.

The article also mentions the possibility of also rebooting Doctor Who for American television. That would be far, far worse than doing this with Torchwood. It isn’t clear if the idea for Torchwood is to pick up the series where it left off but with a more international background or if they would reboot it.

I’ve been impressed with Steven Moffat for doing such a great job on such different television genres. I’ve sometimes joked that I would like to see some of the characters from Coupling become The Doctor’s next companion. We don’t know very much about The Doctor’s actual upcoming companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). TV Overmind has picked up a report that “everyone thinks she is this prim and proper policewoman… it’s going to be revealed early on that she works as a kissogram.” Reading that, she just might be a Steven Moffat character of the Coupling variety!

Personally I think this whole trend towards reboots is going a bit too far. I would primarily reserve it for shows which were so bad that they should be done entirely differently (such as Battlestar Galactica) or for shows which never made it and we have no emotional investment with the original. One such show which is being talked about for a reboot is an old Gene Roddenberry idea, The Questor Tapes. His son Rod has said, “My father always felt that Questor was the one that got away. He believed that the show had the potential to be bigger than Star Trek.”

TrekMovie.com has some information on the show:

Now 36 years later “Questor” is back. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry will develop the project along with Roddenberry Productions COO Trevor Roth and Imagine Television’s President David Nevins and EVP of Development Robin Gurney. The team is currently in negotiations with writer, producer and show runner Tim Minear (Lois & Clark, The X-Files, Angel, Dollhouse) to produce. Of course there still is no guarantee that the new “Questor” will get picked up as a series either, but Imagine Entertainment, which was founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, has a good track record on TV. Imagine developed shows like 24, Friday Night Lights, Lie To Me; Arrested Development, and many more (including JJ Abrams Felicity)…

Gene Roddenberry may never have got “Questor” as a series, but he didn’t forget the idea of that android on a quest. “Questor” influenced the creation of the character Data in Star Trek The Next Generation.

John Kennith Muir has more background, including a review of the original movie.

Caprica premiered on television this week. My original review from when it came out on DVD was posted here.

Rob Lowe, who left The West Wing before the series was completed to attempt to make it on his own show, has now decided to leave Brothers and Sisters at the end of this season. While his previous attempt with his own show failed it is more understandable that he wants to try again as opposed to remaining where he is as his role on Brothers and Sisters is not as substantial as his role as  Sam Seaborn on The West Wing. There is no word as to how he will exit the show. Possibilities include his character having another heart attack or a divorce from Kitty.

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Sequel; Dollhouse; New Shows; Next Doctor Who Companion in a Bikini

Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman deny the predictions made by Zoe Saldana that the script for the next movie is half way done.  They did discuss possibilities for the sequel with SciFi Wire:

Developing a worthy sequel to this year’s generally acclaimed and certainly lucrative Trek reboot will take much more time, Kurtzman said. They have to exhaust every possible idea to find the best ones.

“We take nothing for granted at this point,” Kurtzman said. “We’re only going to do it when it’s really right.”

The discussions include brainstorming classic Trek missions, which could be revisited with a new timeline established thanks to Spock and Nero’s time travel. Even generating new ideas brings up past Trek episodes, Orci said.

“Even when you pitch stuff, sometimes someone will be like, ‘Wow, that’s like that one episode,’” Orci said. “So even in trying to stay away from it, you can crash back in there.”

They hope to get some more of the classic catchphrases into the next movie:

One thing Orci does want to do is get more classic catchphrases into the sequel. Memorable moments in Abrams’ Trek included Spock Prime’s “Live long and prosper” and young Bones’ saying, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a … .” An example of a possible catchphrase to come? Bones has yet to say “He’s dead, Jim.”

“I noted that,” Orci admitted. “I was watching cable the other night, watching Star Trek. It’s been on rotation, the original series. He said, ‘He’s dead, Jim.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that has to go [in the script].’”

Getting that into the movie is fine, as long as they don’t screw up a script purely to give excuses to fit in such phrases.

Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry,  gave his views on a sequel to Star Trek in an interview in The Los Angeles Times:

HC: Is there anything you would like NOT to see in the sequels? Or anything specific you WOULD like to see?

RR: Well, not that this is factual information, but we all know they’re going to make another one. They would be crazy not to. So we all know that that’s going to happen. I’d like to see that the same team stays onboard. What tends to happen is someone comes in, they make their mark, now they’re gonna bring in someone else, and it becomes generic sci-fi action. That’s not “Star Trek.” “Star Trek” was never science fiction. “Star Trek” was about people, humanity, characters. That was just thrown into the bubble of science fiction.

Airlock Alpha reports that Epitaph One, the unaired episode of Dollhouse which I discussed here, will be critical in the upcoming season. The series will move towards the apocalypse seen in the episode, but details might not be as the memories restored in the episode described them.

Two of the promising new science fiction series for next season are a remake of V and FlashForward based upon Robert Sawyer’s novel. Spoiler TV has videos of a panel and interview regarding V. FlashForward executive producer David S. Goyer has discussed the show:

“FlashForward” executive producer David S. Goyer said that almost all of the mysteries presented in the show’s pilot will be solved by the end of the first season. But “to do the show justice” the serialized ABC program should run at least three seasons.

The only major question from the pilot that will be left unanswered by the end of S1 is what’s behind the blackout, which Goyer says will remain the central question of the show’s mythology.

“I really like to feel like storytellers need to know where they’re going,” Goyer said. “We have an obligation to know.”

Asked if he’s learned any lessons from ABC’s “Lost,” Goyer said, “it proved to me there could be a place on network television for a show like that … ‘Lost’ taught me that you could do a show with a large ensemble cast and tell a big cinematic story.”

In the show, everybody in the world blacks out and sees a glimpse of themselves six months in the future. Goyer says the first season will extend past that point in the story, revealing whether the characters’ prophesies come true.

And, finally, the latest pictures to gain attention in the blogosphere (beyond yet more nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens) are recently resurfaced pictures of the next Doctor Who companion, Karen Gillan, in a bikini (picture above).

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Eliminating Money in Japan

quark bar

I often see articles which compare real world changes to science fiction, but generally they are about scientific advances. The Times of London has a different comparison:

To fight deflation, abolish cash. Could Japan make reality of ‘science fiction’?

With recovery elusive, a population doddering into old age and perhaps a decade of deflation in prospect, Japan may start mulling the most radical monetary policy of all — the abolition of cash.

Unorthodox, untried and, said one Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi strategist, “in the realms of economic science fiction”, the recommendation has nevertheless begun floating around Tokyo’s corridors of power and economists have described Japan as particularly suitable as a testing ground.

The search for more outré economic policies continues, despite the recent surge in the Nikkei 225 index.The market may be reflecting soaring Chinese investment, rising consumer confidence and other cheerful data but economists see few long-term beacons of hope for Japan.

Other extreme ideas mooted by the financial authorities include a tax on physical currency or introducing one to operate alongside the yen.

The science fiction example which comes immediately to mind is Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry had the idea of a future where people are perfect and money isn’t needed. In his utopia people would do what they like to do without needing to be paid.

The economic problems with that are obvious, and not even subsequent Star Trek writers went along. While there was concern with creating a new time line to avoid contradicting Star Trek canon, there are actually multiple contradictions already present. There were episodes in which it was stated explicitly that Earth had eliminated money while other episodes showed money in use. One episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine even involved the dilemma of Jake Sisko having to engage in a series of trades to obtain a gift because people from Earth had no money. I’m sure that somehow Quark was paid by Star Fleet patrons as he certainly would not operate a bar just for the pleasure of it.

This science fiction comparison really has nothing to do with the situation in Japan as they are actually looking at ways to make monetary transactions without the use of physical cash.  It is already common there to buy things just by swiping their cell phone, making the elimination of physical cash plausible.

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Did Asimov Influence Obama?

We’ve had the New Deal and the New Frontier. Steve Benen speculates that Obama’s slogan might be the New Foundation. This led me (along with some of those commenting on his blog) to immediately think of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. (While Steve didn’t mention this in his post, I also know Steve well enough to know he is a huge science fiction fan and I can’t believe he wasn’t also thinking of this.)

Last week, with the release of Star Trek, there were articles comparing Obama to Spock and discussing comparisons between Gene Roddenberry’s vision and Obama’s campaign for hope and change. Are political writers now going to have to look beyond Star Trek and also consider Asimov’s work? If the Bush years were a great time for authoritarians, theocrats, and lovers of torture, will we look back at the Obama years as a great time for those who follow science fiction for its vision?

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek XI

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With Star Trek J.J. Abrams has succeeded in making a movie which is both entertaining to both Star Trek fans and to those who have not seen Star Trek before.  This eleventh Star Trek movie is certainly the best of the odd-numbered movies (which isn’t saying much) and in many ways is the best of all the movies. Star Trek was primarily a set of television series with the movies never really doing justice to the quality of the television series. While taking some liberties with continuity, to the frustration of some fans, Abrams has done an excellent  job of capturing the actual feel of the shows while still making it a movie non-fans can enjoy.

When Gene Roddenberry first started Star Trek he wanted it to take place on a ship which already had a history. The original series began some time into a five year mission for the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Instead Abrams started from the beginning, showing both Spock and Kirk grow up and eventually wind up on the Enterprise. This allowed long time fans to see a story which had not been done before while allowing new viewers to  get into the story without any need to know the history.

In starting over with a new cast and a reboot of the series, some were concerned about whether this would really be Star Trek. If the movie was not to be true to Star Trek it would be better for Abrams to start with a new space opera of his own. There are many things which make Star Trek. This includes the feel of the cast, ship, and the universe the stories are set in, the philosophy of Star Trek, and the canon of the future history established. The movie succeeds well on the initial categories, with the most controversial area being over the changes in the time line. I will save discussion of this for last as it requires spoilers. I’ll provide another warning before getting into this final portion of the review where major spoilers are present.

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The most memorable feature of the original show was the interaction between the major characters, especially Kirk and Spock.  This was lost in future series but Star Trek lived with new characters. The movie was successful in reestablishing the classic relationships between the characters with a new set of actors. Chris Pine captured the essence of young Kirk, including his desire to bed every female who crossed his path. Karl Urban was terrific as Dr. Leonard McCoy. He was first seen in the film expressing his antipathy towards space flight. He later displayed comments about Spock which were true to the original when upset, and even got out a "I’m a doctor, not a X" line. Simon Pegg didn’t appear as Scotty until late in the movie, but it is easy to see his character developing into the Scotty of the television Enterprise. John Cho’s Sulu got an opportunity to do some fencing. Anton Yelchin played a very young and definitely Russian Chekov

There were minor deviations with Spock and Uhura, but they might have been for the better.  In the original pilot for the original show, The Cage,  Christopher Pike was Captain and Majel Barrett played the first officer. Spock was the only character to be kept on for the actual show but was shown as having emotions. Zachary Quinto’s Spock suppressed his emotions but did not seem as entirely emotion-free and logical as the Spock of the original show. This could be taken as a consequence of being younger and not yet being in control of his emotions to the degree seen on the television show.  This Spock was also different when compared to the television Spock who lacked the emotions to respond to nurse Christine Chapel’s advances. While Uhura had a relatively minor role on the television show, Zoe Saldana presents a far more vibrant character, which is definitely for the better.

It was to be expected that the ship would be modernized with science fiction visuals coming a long way from the 1960′s. This still captured the feel of a Star Trek starship despite the changes. The bridge was still the center of the ship. While minor, the views when en route to the shuttle crafts had a feeling of authenticity, being more complex than the television visuals while having a utilitarian simplicity. The uniforms were similar to the old ones (including having a red shirt be a sign of impending death) but were modernized just enough to avoid appearing geeky. Of course women wore miniskirts to be true to the original. The views of the Star Fleet Academy were similar to the views of Star Fleet when shown in the later television shows. The galaxy was also the galaxy of Star Trek,complete with references to Klingons, Romulans, the neutral zone, and even Cardassians.

USA-POLITICS/OBAMA

Far more than the specific characters and races, it was Roddenberry’s philosophy which defined Star Trek throughout its various incarnations. Roddenberry’s optimism, humanism, and support for liberal values makes the renewal of Star Trek particularly appropriate for the first year of the Obama administration. Star Trek fits the new feeling of hope and optimism and that we are now back on the right track. In contrast, the final Star Wars movie, Return of the Sith, while originally inspired more by the Nixon years, was more appropriate for the  Bush years in its portrayal of tyranny and the destruction of democracy. This movie had little chance to deal with Roddenberry’s philosophy, but where it was done, such as in the mission of Star Fleet as a “peace keeping and humanitarian armada,” it was consistent with Star Trek.

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In rebooting the series, J. J. Abrams wanted to avoid the problem of having to adhere to every item of Star Trek canon which has been established. While this was understandable, it should have also been predictable that Abrams would want the freedom to shake things up even more. On Alias the original format with SD-6 was unexpectedly changed in the second season, and the show continued with major changes over the years. Lost has also undergone major changes from year to year. This would be more difficult with Star Trek as we have seen the fates of major characters through the final mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the death of James Kirk. Further discussion of this involves major spoilers which those still planning to see the movie might wish to avoid.

Abrams wanted to leave himself free to totally change what might happen to any of the characters, along with freeing himself to have events in the movie differ canon. Rather than starting from scratch and totally ignoring past shows and movies, the solution allowed them to both stay within Star Trek’shistory and leave them free to move in different directions. Nero, the Romulan villain played by Eric Bana, traveled back in time to prevent the destruction of Romulus by destroying the Federation which he wrongly blamed for what happened to Romulus.  By coming back in time and changing events, Nero changed the time line.

Abrams, speaking through Spock, made quite a point of this in outright telling everyone on the bridge that the paths they were to have been on have now been changed. This made little sense as told to the crew as they know of no other time line and would not know that anything different is happening as they lived their lives in this time line. This is really a message for the viewers as we are being told that Abrams is free to change everything we know about the future history as established in Star Trek. Any character can now die, and any part of history can be changed.

quinto-spock

While I knew that Abrams had planned to have his stories take place in a different time line, I had hoped that Abrams would be more subtle about this, using it primarily to avoid criticism over violating canon over minor issues. Instead Abrams used this to bring about major changes both in how the Enterprise crew was brought together and in (final warning re huge spoilers) the destruction of Vulcan.

Abrams has essentially done what the Borg and many others have failed to do–totally wipe out everything we have seen in the Star Trek universe. It is possible that over time the universe will partially correct itself, but without Vulcan it is not possible for everything to return to the way it was meant ot be. (On the bright side, this might mean we will be spared the stories of Voyager).

At least the future history we have seen continues in the memories of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock who also came back in time. Abrams has described the new time line as existing in parallel to the time line we have seen, but real Star Trek geeks have found problems in this interpretation. Fortunately Star Trek has dealt with alternative time lines and alternate universes in different ways, leaving us free to interpret this as we choose, considering that in the end this  is all fiction, regardless of how real the Star Trek universe is seen as being to many fans. I’ll return to consideration of alternative time lines as portrayed on Star Trek at the end as I figure only hard core Star Trek fans will have any interest in this.

Starting a new time line will explain most of the differences between the movie and Star Trek canon. The differences which cannot be explained are trivial and can easily be overlooked. For example, it was previously established that James T. Kirk was born in Iowa on March 22, 2233, not in space as shown at the start of the movie. Kirk’s parents were not in space due to Nero coming back in time,  even if this did certainly affect the details of his birth.

Other changes from canon in the life of Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew could be accounted for by the change in time line but this was not necessarily for the better. From  information given in previous episodes, we know that Kirk moved up thorough the ranks and served on other starships before taking command of the Enterprise. This is far more realistic than to have Kirk be made First Officer, and soon after becoming Captain, on the initial flight, bypassing any other junior officers on board. As the movie skipped over large portions of Kirk’s life they could have briefly shown his advancement and then transfer him to the Enterprise as opposed to showing the implausible sequence of events of this movie.

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Actually many aspects of the movie were implausible but they can be overlooked without preventing enjoyment of the movie. It is not clear how Nero knew, upon hearing the year, that he arrived twenty-five years before Spock. While the ship came from the future it is still not very plausible that a mining ship would be this much more powerful than a starship. There were multiple scientific errors, such as going through a black hole to go back in time. Drilling to the planet’s core seems implausible. Unless Delta Vega was a moon of Vulcan it is hard to imagine how old Spock could have had such a close up view of the destruction of Vulcan.

While these and many other aspects of the movie are scientifically impossible, ideas on alternative universes are purely theoretical, making it difficult to evaluate the legitimacy of how this is portrayed in Star Trek. The concept has actually been portrayed in different ways on past Star Trek series.

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The most common portrayal of alternate time lines was seen in episodes such as City on the Edge of Forever, (Star Trek: The Original Series) and Yesterday’s Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation). In these episodes the time line is changed and subsequently corrected so that things returned to how they should be. This does make changing the past fit firmly within Star Trek canon, except this time there was no cosmic reset switch as in Year of Hell (Star Trek: Voyager). The new movie series will continue entirely in this alternative time line and when seen like episodes such as City on the Edge of Forever this would mean that everything we have known in the old time line is gone.

While alternative time lines were generally portrayed as something which required repair to return the one reality which existed before the time line was altered, there have also been examples of parallel universes. The most extreme case was seen in Parallels (Star Trek: The Next Generation) in which there were multiple parallel universe. Some differed in only trivial manners while in others major events were different. While this could account for both versions of Star Trek, the parallel universes seen in this episode were each separate universes and a change in the time line in one  appears to mean that that particular universe would be changed. This would suggest that The Star Trek universe which we knew was still changed, even if similar ones might remain unchanged in parallel universe.

mirror-universe

A third form of alternative universes was first seen in Mirror, Mirror (Star Trek: The Original Series). In this episode a transporter problem exchanged crew members  with crew from the mirror universe where a tyrannical empire is present instead of Star Fleet. Chronologically earlier scenes of the mirror universe were seen in In a Mirror, Darkly (Star Trek: Enterprise).  This episode of Enterprise featured one of the few great moments in this series. The scene from First Contactin which Zephram Cochran first met he Vulcans was shown in the mirror universe with Cochran killing the Vulcans and taking control of the Vulcan ship.

How the mirror universe exists was never made clear. Some interpret it as one of many parallel universes as in Parallels. It has also been  interpreted by fans as being the consequence of a change in Earth’s history creating an alternative time line. Some have speculated that this is even the result of the alternative time line created in City On The Edge Of the Forever in which the Nazis won World War II. This theory would allow for the existence of both the original Star Trek universe and a new parallel one created by Nero’s alteration of the time line.

I have also seen some Star Trek fans object to changing the time line as they enjoy envisioning the Star Trek time line as if it is our real future.  If one wants to give this degree of reality to Star Trek, acting as if it really is a true future, then we must see it as being on a different time line from our own. The Star Trek Chronologyby Michael and Denise Okuda reveals that in 2009 (based upon information from Tomorrow is Yesterday) “Captain Shaun Geoffrey Christopher commands the first successful Earth-Saturn space-probe mission.” Nomad (The Changeling) was launched back in 2002. If we are living in the Star Trek time line we also managed to forget the Eugenics Wars which took place between 1993 and 1996 in which Kahn Noonien Singh (Space Seed) took control of Earth and much of the population was wiped out. (I imagine that most people were unaware of the Eugenics Wars because of the media being preoccupied with Clinton’s scandals).

I wish that Abrams had preserved the overall Star Trek history and had only used the idea of an alternative time line to get away with minor changes from canon. in the future  talk of the Star Trek universe may need to clarify which time line is being considered. Despite this, the movie is still Star Trek.  The ideas and personalities of Star Trek are far more important than a set of events in a fictional future history. While I would have preferred that Abrams not obliterate this from his work, the movie does provide us with our best hope of keeping Star Trek alive. I can accept the loss of the Star Trek future history if it means having a new opportunity to see the adventures of the Enterprise when commanded by James T. Kirk. I do hope that Abrams continues to make many sequels to this. After all, it would be a waste to destroy the old Star Trek time line unless Abrams now takes advantage of this with future movies.

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SciFi Weekend: Remembrances for Majel Barrett Roddenberry; Forbidden Planet; Battlestar Galacitica and Heroes Webisodes; Surviving The Rise of the Machines; and a Doctor Who Christmas Preview

The top story of the week, as I reported on Thursday, was the death of Majel Barrett Roddenberry, widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and a character is several versions of Star Trek. Trek Movie.com has assembled a collection of condolence messages from many people who have been involved with Star Trek.

Latino Review has some spoilers on J. Michael Straczynski’s plans for a remake of Forbidden Planet. He is actually planning a trilogy, with the first movie to be a prequel to the original:

The prologue to the script contains the following: Two ships traveled to Altair 4, a planet orbiting a star 16.7 light years from Earth. The first ship, the Bellerophon, came to explore that world. The humans on board encountered the relics of the Krell civilization for the first time and exhumed their dangerous past. The Bellerophon was never heard from again. Twenty years later, a second ship, a C-57D Starcruiser, came to investigate the dissapearance of the Bellerophon and her crew.

The original 1956 Forbidden Planet told the tale of the second ship. What Straczynski’s draft is about is the never-before revealed tale of the first ship, the Bellerophon…

  • Movie One tells the story of the original ship that came to Altair 4.

  • Movie Two tells the story of the search for the Krell by the captain of the Bellerophon and his crew…as Diana continues to grow into something profoundly other-wordly. The search takes them beyond the limits of known space into other dimensions, passing from what’s known into what’s not.

  • Movie Three tells the story of the second ship to arrive at Altair 4 to investigate what happened to the Bellerophon. They discover Morbius and his “daughter,” who is desperate to get off the planet and out into the rest of the universe, where her power would nearly be god-like…a fate we are spared when Morbius sacrifices his life to keep her there and eliminate the Krell homeworld once and for all.

Because movies two and three would have some overlapping cast members, but not all of them, they could be easily shot concurrently or back to back.

Straczynski personally states in the last paragraph that what is cool about this new movie is that events shown completely change the meaning of the original Forbidden Planet without changing a frame of film. Altaira’s attempt to seduce or inveigle the crew comes across as manipulative, using them to get off the planet. Straczynski also states that this has value to geeks of which he is one.

With most television shows being on hiatus until January, and some not having been aired since last spring, some shows are keeping the attention of their fans by posting webisodes. TV Guide has an interview with Jane Espenson on the ten part Battlestar Galactica webisodes which lead into the conclusion of the final season. The webisodes concentrate on  Lt. Gaeta and it is revealed that he is bisexual. The webisodes can viewed on line here.

Epenson has also discussed the made for television movie, The Plan, which tells of the early events of Battlestar Galactica from the viewpoint of the Cylons, with Sci Fi Wire:

Jane Espenson, who wrote the upcoming movie Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, said that the telefilm will retell the initial story of the SCI FI Channel series, but from the perspective of the Cylons, and that it will take advantage of revelations that will come in the upcoming new episodes of the show’s fourth and final season.

“The events of The Plan are the events that you’ve seen … in the show, from the miniseries to almost the end of season two,” Espenson said in an exclusive interview. “So it’s that chunk of time, but sort of seen with the Cylon perspective. So you’re going to see a lot of stuff that was going on that you weren’t aware of at the time: on Caprica, in the fleet. … This was the time when the Cylons, as depicted in the original show, … were very mysterious, enemies that would come out of the darkness and retreat. And this is … what were they really doing all that time: what was the internal stuff. … A lot of loose ends are tied up, a lot of questions are asked that you don’t even know you have.”

The movie–the second stand-alone telefilm based on the Peabody Award-winning show–deals with all the mythology’s secrets. “If you had a copy now, you might feel that you could go ahead and watch it, because it’s about stuff that already happened,” Espenson said. “But don’t do it. Of course, you don’t have a copy now, because there isn’t even a cut yet. … But it’s very much designed to be watched after the run of the series, because it definitely relies on stuff you don’t learn until much later.”

Newsweek uses Battlestar Galactica as an example of how art has addressed the political issues during the Bush administration:

An orchestrated terrorist attack. An inexorable march to war. An enemy capable of disappearing among its targets, armed with an indifference to its own mortality. It sounds like a PBS special on Al Qaeda. In fact, it’s a synopsis of the Sci Fi Channel series “Battlestar Galactica,” which—for anyone who manages to get past the goofy name—captures better than any other TV drama of the past eight years the fear, uncertainty and moral ambiguity of the post-9/11 world. Yes, even better than “24,” with its neocon fantasies of terrorists who get chatty if Jack Bauer pokes the right pressure point. Of the two shows, “Battlestar” has been more honest about the psychological toll of the war on terror. It confronts the thorny issues that crop up in a society’s battle to preserve its way of life: the efficacy of torture, the curtailing of personal rights, the meaning of patriotism in a nation under siege. It also doesn’t flinch from one question that “24″ wouldn’t dare raise: is our way of life even worth saving?

“Battlestar Galactica” always finds ways to challenge the audience’s beliefs—it is no more an ode to pacifism than “24″ is to “bring ‘em on” warmongering. In the pilot, humanity is nearly eradicated by the Cylons, a race of robots that revolt against their human creators. The only survivors are stationed on a spacecraft called Battlestar Galactica; they’re spared because the ship’s commander, William Adama (Edward James Olmos), had refused to relax any wartime restrictions. Adama is a hard-liner, willing to sacrifice personal freedoms in order to provide safety from an abstract threat. And he was right: the moment the human race let its guard down, the Cylons attacked. As the show unfolds, though, the survivors must constantly reflect on the price of keeping their enemies at bay, and whether it’s worth paying. The show’s futuristic setting—hushed and grimy, not the metallic cool of stereotypical sci-fi—helps ground the writers’ ruminations in a nail-biting drama series. “Battlestar Galactica” achieves the ultimate in sci-fi: it presents a world that looks nothing like our own, and yet evokes it with chilling accuracy.

Of course it would be an oversimplification to describe Battlestar Galactica as an argument that sacrificing personal freedoms is necessarily the correct response to current terrorist threats. Al Qaeda is certainly not the Cylons, and the show was written as a retelling of a story written well before we faced the current threats. One segment of the series was widely interpreted as being told from the viewpoint of the Iraqis in which the Cylons represented the United States as an occupying power.

Should the robots here on earth rebel, at least we are at less of a risk than many other industrialized countries, but you might want to consider moving to Africa. Both fans of Battlestar Galactica and the Terminator series might find this data to be of value.

Heroes ended a weak chapter last week and hopefully the show will recover when they have a less convoluted storyline beginning in January. We learned a little more at the conclusion of the last episode with Nathan appearing to be on the side of those hunting the other heroes, and we find that Michael Dorn (Worf) is the latest Star Trek star to appear on the show, playing the president. They are also presenting a series of webisodes until the show resumes, with the first episode embedded above.

Another trailer is available for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special (video above).

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