SciFi Weekend: The Americans; The Flash; Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Doctor Who (The Doctor Dates Cinderella); 12 Monkeys; Big Bang Theory; Two And A Half Men Finale; Mad Men In The 70’s; Orphan Black; Kristen Bell; If Ayn Rand Wrote Harry Potter; Birdman Parody; Politics And The Oscars

The Americans Nina Gulag

One of the things which makes The Americans one of the top television shows now on is the manner in which several story lines involving different characters are carried out so well. Whether or not the different story lines become intertwined, one storyline often has lessons for another. On Dimebag, while Elizabeth and Phillip fought over whether Paige should become a spy, neither seemed to have thought that if Paige had been trained they could have used her to get information from Kimberly, the young daughter of the CIA’s Afghan group, instead of Phillip seducing her. Neither realized initially the degree to which they were in danger of losing Paige to her church–hardly acceptable if she were to be a good Communist. There is some similarity to how Pastor Tim is “recruiting” Paige to how Phillip is using Kimberly and the Russians want them to recruit Paige. Meanwhile in Russian, Nina might be saved due to Oleg’s family relationship to the future Russian oligarchs, and she went to work on her cell mate as Elizabeth would work on getting information. On top of this, the episode included a defector who might be double crossing them, an EST meeting, and a visit with an AA sponsor.

Keri Russell discussed the relationships with her character’s daughter and mother this season, and described the scene earlier this season in which Annelise’s body was packed into a suitcase:

IGN: I have to ask about that second episode and the scene of having to get rid of the body in that hotel room. First of all, there’s the “Oh my god!” of it all. And then also is it interesting for you to play a character who already had to compartmentalize everything, but this is a woman that her husband was sleeping with as a part of the job, and now she has the reality of that in front of her?

Russell: All I have to say is so many naked girls! Naked, beautiful actress, naked beautiful contortionist, yeah. Then on a second unit day of reshoots, a second naked beautiful girl. I was like, “There’s a lot of pretty, naked girls on this show!” Yeah, so bizarre! Really gruesome. I haven’t seen it. Does it play?

IGN: Oh yeah, it plays.

Flash Firestorm

Last week The Flash was both a back door pilot for Firestorm and further advanced the idea of time travel for Barry Allen. We saw once again how far Harrison Wells is willing to go, and his motives remain unclear. We should be learning more when the show returns in March.

Also on CW, we saw a reversal on Arrow, as the flashback took place in Starling City while the present day action took place back on the island. It was strange to see Oliver from the period when he was missing back around his home. Seeing Oliver snooping around Queen Consolidated gave the feeling of a time travel story in which a character is in their past but cannot risk being seen.  Meanwhile, on the island, there was a deliberate reference to Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn with Slade’s comment, “I’m going to leave you as you left me.”

Agents of SHIELD returns March 3. Marvel has released this synopsis of the episode:

After discovering an alien city with ties to his resurrection, Coulson and his team destroyed it before the forces of Hydra could claim its secrets, eliminating the villainous Whitehall (Reed Diamond) in the process. But new threats to the world have arisen, including Skye’s father, Cal (Kyle McLachlan), who now seeks retribution against Coulson for stealing his revenge against Whitehall; a disturbing alliance between former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward (Brett Dalton) and Agent 33; the enigmatic Raina (Ruth Negga), who struggles with her transformation into something inhuman by the alien Obelisk and seeks vengeance; and Skye (Chloe Bennet), who developed mysterious new powers from the Obelisk but whose lack of experience with her new abilities may threaten the safety of those she loves.

Meanwhile, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) begin the next phase of a plan which seems to have grave repercussions for Coulson and his team, who are unaware that there’s another mysterious force moving against them. And as Hunter (Nick Blood) is forced to make the biggest choice of his life, Coulson will find his mission threatened by this shocking endgame.

In the midseason premiere, “Aftershocks,” Coulson’s team must deal with the consequences of their war with Hydra as shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, and Hydra makes a dangerous move that may involve a traitor in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midst.

Adrianne Palicki has been promoted to a series regular on Agents of SHIELD, which probably means that Will will not be getting back together with Doctor Sam on About a Boy anytime soon.

Lily James Matt Smith

The Doctor is dating Cinderella–Matt Smith has confirmed that he is dating Lily James. I don’t know if it has occurred yet in the US broadcasts of Downton Abbey so I won’t give any specifics, but I did like her character’s triumph in a late season episode. Of course anything is better than revisiting certain past events yet once again.

In other Doctor Who and related news, The BBC has announced that Michelle Gomez will return as Missy in a two part episode to open the next season of Doctor Who. Add Eve Myles to the list of those interested in another season of Torchwood.

Speaking of Lily James in Cinderella, Ellen DeGeneres has presented a mash-up of Cinderella and Fifty Shades of Grey. Video above.

I thought there was a chance that 12 Monkeys might be able to make it into the upper tier of genre shows with The Night Room last week but The Red Forest couldn’t keep up the same quality this week. Not that it was a bad episode, but it was too easy to fix the timeline when it simply came down to Cassie getting captured in our present, and saving her would fix things. There are still a number of questions raised last week which could provide interesting episodes. Plus they now know how important Cassie’s role is and will make sure that they do not change history involving her, ensuring that she can deliver the message for Cole before she dies.

Amazon has renewed Mozart in the Jungle (which I recommend watching, now about half way through the first season) and is going ahead with the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. I have intentionally held off on watching the pilot, preferring to wait until Amazon shows are released in full as opposed to watching the pilot months earlier, but reviews have been excellent for the pilot.

Last week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory seemed to throw far too much into a single episode, including the reopening of Stuart’s comic book store, a cameo by Nathan Fillion, and (the most amusing part of the show), Sheldon telling Penny how Amy was doing experiments on her. Then we learned what the episode was really about–a tribute to Carol Ann Susi, the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz, who died in November. There is a toast to her in the video above, and there is an unseen tribute to her in every episode:

After we had that impromptu memorial the morning she passed away, Johnny and I were hugging—like everybody was—and right then we found our prop person and asked to get a little picture of Carol Ann and we put it on the refrigerator [in Leonard and Sheldon’s kitchen] so she’s there in every episode now. It’s so small you wouldn’t even see it, but on the fridge is this tiny little wallet-size picture of Carol Ann that’s been there since the day she passed away.

It also appears that The Big Bang Theory is so subversive that China doesn’t want its citizens to be able to watch the show.

We are going into the final week of one of the best network sit-coms in recent years, Parks and Recreation. Last week we had the finale of Two And A Half Men, a multi-cam sit-com which over the last twelve years has shown everything wrong with the format. If anyone cares, Chuck Lorre explained his intentions for the finale. There were no apologies to the nation, but at least our great national nightmare is over.

Mad Men 70's

Mad Men enters the 1970’s for its final half-season, and from the music playing in the trailer it might even be doing a time jump to the mid 70’s. After that, I’m looking forward to the inevitable spin-off. Better Call Sally. Just kidding but considering how good Better Call Saul has been so far as a spin-off of Breaking Bad, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if AMC went that route again.

AMC purchased 49 percent of BBC America, and this has implications for the promotion of the third season of Orphan Black. The show probably has many less viewers than a show of this quality might otherwise have due to not being seen on BBC America. In the hopes of increasing exposure, the third season premiere will be shown on all of AMC’s channels, including AMC, Sundance TV, IFC and We TV. The one problem with this strategy is that Orphan Black is not a good show to come into late. Perhaps they should have been rerunning the first two seasons on some other channels prior to the start of the third season.

Forget any thoughts of John Oliver taking over for Jon Stewart. HBO, perhaps thinking along those lines and wanting to lock him in, has signed Oliver for two more seasons of This Week Tonight, with 35 episodes a year. Meanwhile Jon Stewart, after having to put out new shows daily, near year round, might envy Oliver’s deal.

Kristen Bell has no tolerance for anti-vaxxers, and won’t let them around her children. “It’s a very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls.”

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Morena Baccarin (of Gotham, Firefly, V, and Homeland) has been cast as the female lead in another superhero adaptation, this time the movie version of Deadpool. I don’t know if this will impact her work on Gotham, but we know that sooner or later Jim Gordon has to get back with Barbara, or else Batgirl will never be born.

BoingBoing has pointed out an example of Harry Potter fan fiction by Mallory Ortberg, written as if it was written by Ayn Rand. Thus there are passages such as, “It’s also why I never water my plants in Herbology. They must learn to survive with or without me. Self-sufficiency is not just a human virtue. It is the highest virtue.”  Plus don’t miss the link to Mallory Ortberg’s reviews of children’s movies as if they were written by Ayn Rand. For example:

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

An industrious young woman neglects to charge for her housekeeping services and is rightly exploited for her naïveté. She dies without ever having sought her own happiness as the highest moral aim. I did not finish watching this movie, finding it impossible to sympathize with the main character. —No stars.

“Bambi”

The biggest and the strongest are the fittest to rule. This is the way things have always been. —Four stars.

“101 Dalmatians”A wealthy woman attempts to do her impoverished school friend Anita a favor by purchasing some of her many dogs and putting them to sensible use. Her generosity is repulsed at every turn, and Anita foolishly and irresponsibly begins acquiring even more animals, none of which are used to make a practical winter coat. Altruism is pointless. So are dogs. A cat is a far more sensible pet. A cat is objectively valuable. —No stars.


Big Bird meets Birdman in the video spoof above. Birdman is considered a heavy favorite to win an Oscar for best movie.

When actors go on stage to accept Oscars tonight, many of them are contributing to the Democrats, and some to the Republicans. The Hill reports:

Democrats are the biggest winners when it comes to raking in political donations from Academy Award nominees.

Some of the Oscars’ most famous contenders — including this year’s hopefuls Reese Witherspoon, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper, and Meryl Streep — are delivering big bucks for the left.

Norton plays an egotistical movie star in “Birdman,” — which snagged him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at Sunday’s awards — but the real-life film star is one of Hollywood’s biggest Democratic donor…

Witherspoon, who earned her second Best Actress nomination this year for “Wild,” has also donated generously to Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission records. The 2005 Oscar winner gave $1,500 to Warren’s camp in 2012. She’s also given in excess of $6,000 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and $1,500 to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

While Clint Eastwood, the director behind Best Picture nominee “American Sniper,” is known for his support of Republican candidates — famously delivering his “empty chair speech” at the 2012 Republican National Convention — the film’s star, Bradley Cooper, gave $750 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Cooper is vying for Best Actor for his portrayal of real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the record-breaking movie.

The article later discusses how Democrats often use celebrities in fund raising campaigns while “Republicans have capitalized on conservative celebrity activists by encouraging them to run for office.”

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SciFi Weekend: The 100; Agents of SHIELD; Guardians of the Galaxy; Jessica Jones; Casting News and Rumors; Gotham; The Psychology of Batman; Whether The Doctor Had Sex With Queen Elizabeth I; Better Call Saul; Fresh Off The Boat; American Sniper; Boyhood; Bob Dylan

The 100 Coupe de Grace

The 100 continues to be one of the best science fiction series on television today. Last week’s episode, Coupe de Grace, had power struggles both among the Sky People and at Mount Weather as on this show no group is without internal conflict. Ever since the parents landed on earth there has been a question as to whether they would take control, or whether their kids who are far more familiar with the situation would continue to lead. Clarke made it clear when told her mother, “You may be the chancellor, but I’m in charge.” Alexander Haig couldn’t have said it any better. Kane has shown that he has learned a lot since the events of the first season as he accepts Clarke as leader. We also saw that Clarke is not one to be messed with when she partially emptied the Mountain Man’s oxygen tank just to make sure he hurried back with her message.

The power struggle at Mount Weather also demonstrated that on this show people and groups are never all good or all bad. President Wallace wasn’t going to go as far as his son, but he had been willing to preside over a system of using Grounders for forced blood transfusions. While his actions were not entirely good, they were understandable. While the actions of his son and Doctor Tsing were far worse, their motivation was also understandable. Despite their actions, the Mountain Men are not show as all evil, both with the actions of Maya and with Bellamy seeing the innocent children. It was a little sappier than usual for this show to have Bellamy meet the son of a man he had just killed.

There are also other complicated characters. Indra dislikes most people and has little use for the Sky People as a group, but also accepted Octavia for her strength. Lincoln has shown complexity as a character when he deviated from the views of the other Grounders. While generally displayed as a strong character, he also gave into the drug addiction used by the Mountain Men to control him. His fate remains a big question for the remainder of the season as, unlike other shows, we cannot just assume he will easily overcome the addiction and it will be forgotten.

Agents of SHIELD returns March 3. Trailer above. New cast members have been added for the Inhumans story line.  Interviews with returning cast members Adrianne Palicki, Nick Blood, and Clark Gregg here.

James Gunn discussed how Marvel is taking risks with Guardians of the Galaxy 2:

 “It’s not really based on anything. The story for Guardians 2 is an original story that I came up with that I started working on actually while I was shooting Guardians 1, and it’ll answer some of the questions that were put forth in the first movie about Peter Quill’s father and who he is and what’s going on with that. We’ll get to know some of the characters a little bit more and then we’re going to meet a couple of new characters who will be very important to Guardians movies and probably important to the Marvel Universe as a whole.” […]

“It’s different than what’s in the comic books. Peter Quill’s father is somebody different in the comics. So then when the movie came out, we got green-lit on the sequel right away. I went in and I sat down with those guys and I’m like, ‘Okay, here’s what I think the sequel should be.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, whoa. That’s risky, but okay.’ Now I’m going to turn over the story in a few short weeks and we’ll find out how well it works.”

But do we get a second awesome mix tape?

AKA Jessica Jones

ComicBookMovie has the first set pictures of Krysten Ritter in filming in A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The do not reveal anything meaningful about the story. I posted more news on Jessica Jones, along with the Daredevil teaser trailer, earlier in the week.

Among the more interesting casting rumors floating around this week, Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad might play the villain in Star Trek 3. Will there be a blue meth problem aboard the Enterprise? Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black is testing for a role in a Star Wars movie. How many roles will she play?

IO9 has an interesting look at what went wrong with the third season of Star Trek.

There are some big changes coming in DC Comics. More information here, here, and here.

milo-ventimiglia-39156_380_280

Variety reports that Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes and Gilmore Girls will appear in a multi-episode arc on Gotham:

Ventimiglia will play Jason Lennon, aka “the Ogre,” beginning in episode 19 of the Fox hit’s freshman season.

Handsome, wealthy and seductive, the Ogre is a serial killer who has been preying on the young women of Gotham for nearly a decade, luring them into his web and confronting them with a series of “tests” as he searches for his perfect mate. When the women fail to live up to his impossible standard, Lennon disposes of them quickly and viciously.

His obsessions, combined with the determination of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to bring him down, send both Gordon and Lennon — as well as those around them — on a course toward tragedy.

Reps for the show note that while Ventimiglia’s character shares a nickname with a villain from the DC Comics pantheon, the “Gotham” Ogre is unrelated to previous versions.

I am glad that Oliver returned on Arrow last week. With all the other spin-offs being made from the show, now there is talk that John Diggle might turn out to be John Stewart, the successor to Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. With the television and movie universes being kept separate on television, we might ultimately see a second version of the Justice League of America on CW and CBS.

The Psychology of Batman is discussed in the video above.

Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat debated an important question from Doctor Who: Did the Doctor ever have sex with Queen Elizabeth I?

Better Call Saul premiers tonight. Here is a review at The Guardian. Some critics have questioned the show. While they have pointed out good reasons why it will probably never be as good as Breaking Bad, few if any shows have ever been that good. With Vince Gilligan and the writing crew who finished up on Breaking Bad working on it, I am certainly going to give it a try. Considering the built-in  fan base from Breaking Bad, along with the lead in tonight from the return of The Walking Dead, I’d expect the pilot to do well.

Fresh off the Boat aired two episodes last week and the show looks quite promising, especially with the performance of Constance Wu and writing led by show runner Nahnatchka Khan (of Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23, which stared Krysten Ritter.) The same night, Aya Cash of You’re The Worst had a brief appearance on Modern Family, playing a character with an attitude similar to Gretchen’s.

Looking at recent movies, I enjoyed American Sniper, but it did present a distorted view of the Iraq war. On the other hand, for a movie taking place in Texas, Boyhood surprisingly contains more accurate commentary on the war and recent politics. Plus he went to a book store event to purchase one of the Harry Potter books, just as my wife and I once did (without the costumes).

With Bob Dylan’s music coming up in last week’s post, it is worth mentioning that he stole the show at the Grammys’ annual charity gala on Friday.The Los Angeles Times has the full text of his speech. He began:

I’m glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn’t get here by themselves. It’s been a long road and it’s taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they’re like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now. And they sound like they’ve been on the hard ground…

From there he thanked those who helped him early in his career and many of the artists who performed his songs.

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SciFi Weekend: Extant, The Last Ship, and other Summer Shows; Community and other Genre Comedy; Arrow; Doctor Who Leaks; Harry Potter; Time Travel Lover

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We were spoiled by the high quality of television shows airing in late spring, including Orphan Black, Continuum, Hannibal, Fargo, and Game of Thrones. The summer season does not look like it will come close, but at least we have come a long way from the days in which we were limited to the major networks which only aired reruns. So far Extant appears to be the most promising. Sure, being a network science fiction show it is bound to degenerate into all the standard cliches, but the first episode was interesting and well made. If nothing else, it looks better than Under the Dome and True Blood (which I’m only sticking with because it is the last season). It might help that Mickey Fisher, who wrote the pilot, says he was inspired by Steven Moffat and Doctor Who.  Spoiler TV lists seven facts  you need to know about Extant.

My next show on my list of new summer shows worth viewing (of those which have actually started) is The Last Ship. It is certainly not a must-see genre show at this point, but it has been entertaining. The show does have a little of the early Battlestar Glactica feel in which one military ship is on their own. Instead of Cylons, they are being chased by a Russian ship which is after the research they have so far, and the scientist working on it, regarding the plague which has killed off most of the planet. Sure, one would think that with the possibility of the crews of only two ships left alive on earth (along with some isolated people elsewhere) they might realize there is no point in fighting and that they can work together, but that would leave out most of the drama. Besides, ultimately the surviving humans and Cylons did learn to work together. With 24 concluding tomorrow, The Last Ship might be a good replacement for fairly mindless action. The shorter season of 24 has certainly helped the storyline on 24, with it not dragging events out for weeks (or hours on the show) as was often the case in the past.

After watching the premiere of The Almighty Johnsons I plan to pass on the show unless I hear more favorable reports on it. This is a show from New Zealand now carried by Syfy about a family in which the members learn they are reincarnations of Norse gods when they turn twenty-one. Their powers are rather limited, sort of matching the low-budget feel of the show. One brother has the power to convince people to believe his stories, and uses it to get women into bed. Another has the power to turn things hot or cold, and uses it to make a woman’s nipples become erect under her shirt. That’s hardly enough to sell me on the show so far, but the pilot does suggest a more serious storyline is beginning.

In other upcoming shows, SpoilerTV has an advanced look at The Strain. The Wall Street Journal also reviews the show. BBC America will premiere The Intruders on August 23.

Based upon last season, the best show of the summer is probably returning tonight, Masters of Sex. Hitflix reports that the second season is better than ever.

Community Renewed

The fate of genre comedy for the upcoming year is now becoming clearer. The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for three years. Community will no longer air opposing The Big Bang Theory but was saved by Yahoo last week, and Joel McHale sounds happy about the opportunity of setting Dan Harmon free without the constraints of network television:

McHale told The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s fans will be pleased by Community‘s shift from NBC, where it has aired for the past five seasons, to Yahoo Screen. “I’m so excited because now there will be no commercial breaks, the restraints I’m assuming will be way less and it’s like this just playground now for [show creator] Dan[Harmon].” Added McHale: “Unencumbered Dan Harmon is very exciting.”

The actor said that Yahoo Screen execs “really believe in the show” and have the marketing muscle required to spread the word about the show’s new home. He doesn’t have trepidation about airing new episodes on an unproven original-content provider, given how much success Netflix has had with its original programming. “I think Community fans have proven that they will find the show,” he said.

Sony Pictures Television has committed to 13 new episodes of the series, launching this fall, although McHale said that more episodes could get made “if [the first batch] goes well.” The entire cast will appear in all 13 episodes, and as far as the contracts are concerned, McHale said he won’t be making less money from Sony per episode than he was from NBCUniversal. “I really like money, so it works out great,” McHale joked.

According to McHale, all of his co-stars are looking forward to bringing the show back. “I know the cast is excited because it’s a whole new frontier, and we wont be up against Big Bang Theory, and we know Yahoo’s really excited to get us out there, and that is incredibly helpful when the people who are paying for you to make it are excited about it,” he added.

Now that Community fans are getting their sixth season, what about that movie? “People are already talking about” the possibility of streaming the much-hoped-for film on Yahoo Screen, McHale said. He added that Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna plan to make the movie “epic” and not just “like an episode,” although McHale doesn’t think that anyone has started working on the film’s script yet.

Selfie - Episode 1.01 - Pilot - Promotional Photo

Of potential new comedy shows with a genre connection which I have preciously discussed, one was picked up to air in the fall and the other wasn’t. The Amy Pond Show, officially called Selfie, was picked up by ABC. I’ve heard questions regarding its quality, but of course I’ll check out any show staring Karen Gillan and John Cho.

How I Met Your Dad, the spin off of How I Met Your Mother, was not picked up, with CBS insisting upon some changes in the pilot. Initially there were reports that rather than changing the pilot, Thomas and Bays planned to try selling it elsewhere.  It looks like it is dead for now, with the possibility that they might revive plans to try to sell the show in the future. I wonder if it might not be better to develop a new comedy with a new idea rather than rehashing what they already did.

Arrow Olicity

The synopsis for the first episode of season three of Arrow reveals that Detective Lance remains alive, and that Oliver finally asks Felicity out on a date:

In the aftermath of this victory, Season 3 opens with Arrow now a hero to the citizens of Starling. Crime is down, people feel safer, and Captain Lance even calls off the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. Basking in his success, Oliver believes he can finally have a private life and asks Felicity out on a date. But the second Oliver takes his eye off the ball, a deadly villain reappears in Starling, forcing Oliver to realize that he can never be Oliver Queen — not as long as the city needs The Arrow.

There may be more superheroes in season three, including the casting of Brandon Routh (who played Superman in Man of Steel) as Ray Palmer, The Atom.

An unparalleled scientist and inventor, Ray will play an unexpected role in the lives of Oliver and (rumored love interest) Felicity as the new owner of Queen Consolidated. Palmer’s plans for Queen Consolidated’s Applied Sciences Division will be shrouded in mystery.

News came  out last week that Orphan Black has officially been renewed for a third season. We also found that Tatiana Maslany was snubbed for an Emmy award a second time.

TrekMovie.com looks at How Seinfeld Influenced Star Trek’s Legacy

Besides having a movie versions of Gone Girl coming out in October, earlier books by Gillian Flynn are being filmed. Dark Places will be released as a movie in September and her first novel, Sharp Objects is now being made into a television series.

Five scripts of episodes of the upcoming season of Doctor Who have leaked on line. Steven Moffat called this, “‘horrible, miserable and upsetting’. Since then unfinished black and white versions of the first two episodes of the season have also leaked on line.

First we heard that Better Call Saul would be a prequel to Breaking Bad. Next there were reports that it would take place over different eras. Now it reportedly will be a prequel series taking place in 2002. Now we might never learn if Jesse made it to Alaska.

J.K. Rowling has posted a short story about Harry Potter set during the Quidditch world cup final at the Pottermore site. Apparently there might be some marital problems between Harry and Ginny.

If you miss Continuum now that it is finished for the season, here’s another time travel story, Time Travel Lover: It is about a guy about to hook up with a girl who is then visited by his future self:

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SciFi Weekend: Her; Harry Potter and Hermione; Sleepy Hollow; Hannibal; Orphan Black; Arrow; Doctor Who; The Americans; Lex Luthor; How I Met Your Mother/Dad;

Her

This has been a very good year for science fiction movies. Her is very likely the science fiction movie which is receiving the most mainstream critical acclaim ever. Last night it won the award for best original screenplay from the Writer’s Guild of America. It ties with another science fiction movie, Gravity, for Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards (intentionally ignoring the debate as to whether Gravity is science fiction). Her was also a big winner at the National Board of Review Awards. Both Her and Gravity are nominated for Best Picture. There was controversy when various organizations declined to consider Scarlett Johansson for acting awards when she was not seen in the movie.

The important aspect of the movie is how people relate to the technology, along with their other limitations in dealing with other humans to the point where people pay others to write “personal” letters to their lovers. It still becomes impossible to ignore the technological aspects of the movie, primarily the question as to whether artificial intelligence could really be developed to the point seen in the movie. The co-creator of Siri looked at some of the abilities of Samantha which are well beyond what can currently be accomplished:

To get the “That’s incredible!” technology ball rolling, Samantha never made a mistake, never misunderstood nor misheard a word Theodore said. That’s tough to do in a loud, raucous world. Especially in loud places such as the circus scene, where you can barely hear the person next to you, let alone get the exact nuance of every word as you share the pandemonium through an earpiece.

And what about the scene where Samantha is literally spun around, viewing, understanding and commenting on the world she sees only through a jostling cameraphone lens bouncing around in Theodore’s pocket?

That would entail massively scaled real-time image recognition, spatial understanding, facial and mood recognition — as well as understanding the subtleties of thousands of social scenarios in order to predict that the couple sitting at the table were on a first date.

And such a conversationalist! Samantha not only discussed an amazing range of topics with Theodore, but was also incredibly adept at reflecting his mood in her own, varying the subtle tones and verbal inflections that indicate emotion. She even demonstrated an evocative handle on pop-culture terminology when he said in one scene, “No waaay.” And she replied, “Waaay.” Now that is some cool software.

Finally, I don’t even need to mention the complexities of building a program that’s adept at verbal phone sex, including all of the relevant and perfectly timed Meg Ryan-ish sound effects in perfect harmony with the partner on the other end of the line.

NPR’s Science Friday also discussed these topics recently. The podcast can be heard here.

Hermione

Reading the Harry Potter books, I thought that it was unusual that Ron and not Harry wound up with Hermione. Harry was the hero who defeated Voldemort. Typically he is the one who would wind up with the girl. J.K. Rowlings now admits she did get it wrong:

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

Rowling also said that Ron and Hermione would have needed “relationship counseling.”

John Noble Sleepy Hollow

John Noble had a notable role as a recurring character in Sleepy Hollow. His role (spoilers) became even more important in the season finale when he was revealed to not only be Jeremy Crane, the son of Ichabod and Karina, but also War, the second horseman of the apocalypse. After seeing how he played both Walter and Walternate on Fringe, he was clearly underused as a supporting character, and there is no doubt he can handle an entirely different type of role in the second season. He has been promoted to a series regular. Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Jennie Mills, will also be a series regular, which does spoil one of the many cliff hangers in the season finale which left Jenni unconscious on the road.

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NBC is trying to build the audience for the second season of Hannibal in a way similar to how the audience for Breaking Bad increased after many people (including myself) caught up with previous seasons by watching on Netflix. They have entered into an exclusive agreement with Amazon Prime to carry Hannibal and some other series. I hope they are successful, but I wonder if Netflix has as much impact as Amazon. There is also some casting news for the second season, including Mason Pitt joining the series late in the season as Mason Verger:

Pitt, best known for his work as Jimmy Darmody on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, will play Mason Verger, “an unstable wealthy patient of Dr. Hannibal Lecter who begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the deadly serial killer.”

Hannibal’s version of Mason Verger – which will likely be quite different from the character Gary Oldman played in the 2001 film – was compared to Andrew Scott’s portrayal of Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock in a casting description for the role. Knowing that, it will be interesting to see Pitt bring the same explosive energy he brought to Jimmy Darmody to Verger; a character who’s more cunning and therefor more dangerous.

Joining Pitt is Katharine Isabelle (Being Human), cast as Verger’s sister, Margot. She will first be introduced as a patient of Dr. Lector’s who is dealing with trauma related to her brother’s abuse. But again, this won’t be until later in the season.

Episode titles on Orphan Black came from Darwin’s Origin of Species during the first season. Second season titles will come from the work of Sir Francis Bacon. The title of the first episode of the season will be Nature Under Constraint and Vexed.

Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) became a popular character during the first season of Arrow and in response the role of her character was greatly expanded. We know very little about her beyond moving from the IT Department to become Oliver Queen’s executive assistant to cover for all the time they spend together. Each season also has had a scene establishing that she is Jewish. She is finally going to get a back story this season.

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The first pictures have been released of Peter Capaldi in the outfit he will wear as the Doctor. There have been some complains on line ranging from his hair being cut too short (following Matt Smith) to the top button being buttoned despite lack of a tie. Obviously none of these complaints have any real relevance to how successful Capaldi will be in the role. There is a minor spoiler about a surprise voice-only cameo upcoming on Doctor Who:

Clara emerges from the TARDIS on her mobile phone, looking intense and emotional. She’s not speaking to anyone, rather she seems to be just listening. In fact, whatever she is listening to hits her hard, and she slumps into the wall of a nearby store. The message, it turns out, is from the previous incarnation of the Doctor, played by Matt Smith. Hanging up the phone, the Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi exits the TARDIS, and starts an exchange with Clara. He asks if that was the Doctor on the phone. More on that in a minute.

Emotionally, he insists to Clara; he is the Doctor, he’s 2000 years old, and he’s standing right there, in front of her. Cautiously, Clara walks straight up to this strange, older man in front of her.

Inquisitively, she looks up straight into the Doctor’s eyes, inspecting them, looking for the man she knows. The Doctor looks down into his companions eyes curiously, like an owl bemused. Suddenly, Clara throws her arms around the Doctor. For his part, the Doctor awkwardly holds his arms out around her, fingers splayed and startled and uncomfortable.

Clara immediately then clicks back into her normal, bouncy self, asking the Doctor where they are. He replied Glasgow (although we were definitely in Cardiff, I double checked), and they continue to chat before the scene ends.

New promo for The Americans above. The show returns February 26.

Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. I don’t really see Eisenberg in the role, but we will see.

So far the former stars of Friends have not been very successful with network sitcoms. David Schwimmer is attempting a return to network television in a pilot named Irreversible.

Irreversible, which is partially improvised in the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm, centers on Andy (Schwimmer) and Sarah, a somewhat eccentric, self-absorbed couple, and their trials and tribulations — most of which they bring upon themselves.

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How I Met Your Mother had a fantastic 200th episode last week, going back over the time frame of the series from the perspective of the mother, played by Cristin Milioti. Characters have been outlined for the planned spin-off, How I Met Your Dad:

Sally: In her 20s but still not very grown-up and a little bit aimless, Sally has been married for a year to Gavin and is realizing they’re not meant for each other.

Danny: Sally’s older brother and opposite personality, he’s a driven lawyer who’s less than pleased when Sally moves in after splitting with Gavin. Danny is married to …

Todd: One of Sally’s best friends from college, who’s significantly more welcoming to having Sally as a roommate. Danny and Todd fill the Lily-and-Marshall/committed couple portion of the group.

Juliet: Sally’s “party-girl” best friend and the Barney of the group. She runs a fashion blog and has been telling Sally for some time that Gavin isn’t the right guy for her.

Frank: A “hot nerd” who heads up IT for Juliet’s site and has an unrequited (for the moment) crush on Sally. If Sally is the female Ted, Frank would be the male Robin (albeit with what sounds like a rather different personality).

Narrator: Future Sally.

 Philip Seymour Hoffman was found of an apparent overdose. His genre appearances include the Hunger Games movies and Red Dragon, based upon one of the Hannibal Lecter books.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who News; Matt Smith’s Is Bigger Than David Tennant’s; Counting Regenerations; Wonderland; Arrow; Community Returning; Big Bang Theory; Tatiana Maslany Does Comedy

The trailer for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, The Day of the Doctor, has been released with video above. Discussion and breakdown of the frames from the trailer here and here.

There’s been more news out about Matt Smith and David Tennant working together, including confirmation that Matt Smith’s is bigger than David Tennant’s:

“Mine’s bigger” confirms Smith. “I won… on that one”. “His is much bigger!” laughs Tennant. Everyone’s since 1963 is bigger than mine! Well, maybe I just don’t have as much to compensate so much; maybe I’m very happy with my sonic’s length. And it does everything it needs to.”

Celebration of the anniversary includes additional events including a TV movie on BBC 2 about the development of the series,  An Adventure In Space And Time. Five pictures have been released here, including  one with Jessica Raine (of Call the Midwife) as producer Verity Lambert:

Jessica Raine

Steven Moffat has been teasing the regeneration in recent interviews. From a statement in Doctor Who Magazine, it appears that Matt Smith’s regeneration into Peter Capaldi will occur in the TARDIS:

“Pretty soon [Peter] will arrive and he’ll be whisked off to begin the trip of a lifetime, probably wondering what it will be like, where it will take him, and how long it will last. And about then, Matt Smith will be standing in his TARDIS for the very last time, with his eyes on the studio door – because about to step through is a Scottish actor, dressed as him.”

Moffat discussed the twelve-regeneration limit in an interview with Radio Times:

The fact that the Doctor could be close to using up his apparent limit of 12 regenerations is one that hasn’t passed Doctor Who fans by. What will happen when his time is finally up we don’t know but there’s an assumption that whoever’s in charge of the show will find a way.

After all, there is a precedent here. The Doctor’s Time Lord adversary the Master used up his entire allocation but was handed a new regenerative cycle after taking possession of a non-Time Lord body and later having it restructured (it’s a long story).

However, Steven Moffat today confirmed of the Doctor, “He can only regenerate 12 times”, while simultaneously suggesting there has been a miscalculation of how many regenerations he has actually been through.

“I think you should go back to your DVDs and count correctly this time,” said Moffat, “there’s something you’ve all missed.

What can it all mean? If we were attempting to explain how the Doctor might already have had more than his fair share of regenerations, we could do it. John Hurt’s newly introduced dark Doctor would presumably add one, making Peter Capaldi the 13th and final incarnation. If we then followed the argument that David Tennant’s tenth Doctor used up a whole dose of regenerative energy when he re-grew his lost hand almost immediately after having transformed from the ninth Doctor, that would give us an illegal 14 versions of the Doctor. Whether the new hand counts as a full regeneration is very much up for debate, of course, but either way these are both arguments for adding not subtracting regenerations.

On the other hand (pardon the pun), we didn’t witness Paul McGann regenerating into either John Hurt’s ninth(?) Doctor or Christopher Eccleston’s ninth/tenth Doctor. If somehow neither of those counted as regenerations we would have one fewer than we’d previously thought – Matt Smith would be the tenth Doctor and Peter Capaldi would be the 11th. But how could the Doctor have changed bodies without regenerating?

Needless to say, there has been a lot of speculation regarding this on various blogs.

MICHAEL SOCHA, SOPHIE LOWE

It seems that in recent years there have been more genre shows and movies which attract female following–not that these shows are for women only.  I had almost skipped Once Upon A Time in Wonderland until I read good reviews of the first episode, and thought the second episode was even better. In this version, Alice is an older action figure, not a small girl, and she is in love with a different version of the Genie from Aladin. Besides the new impressions of classic Disney characters, the magic in Wonderland reminds me of the fun in the early Harry Potter movies. The original version of Once Upon A Time, is spending the season in Neverland. The creators of the shows, who previously worked on Lost, discussed the two shows, and explained why the made Peter Pan evil in this interview.

Arrow cliffhanger

Arrow, which is also fun even if sometimes feeling too much like a soap opera, ended with quite a cliff hanger. Earlier in the episode, Oliver Queen acknowledged the same issue I brought up last week and made Felicity his executive assistant (over her objections) to explain why he spends his days as well as nights with her. (“And I love spending the night with you.”) Laurel tried to explain why she suddenly hates the vigilante so much but it is hard to accept her arguments as to why he is to blame for Tommy’s death. This leads to the cliff hanger and brings up two more of my ongoing complaints about the series (or two reasons why it is best to just enjoy the show and not to think much about it). We have seen repeated examples of predictable crimes with little done to prevent them. With medical supplies being stolen, you would think that guarding the trucks carrying them would be a top priority for police. That didn’t happen as it turns out that Laurel had all the well-armed police officers on stand-by for the next time the vigilante encountered her. In the past, Oliver has escaped such traps with far too  little difficulty. With all the guns aimed at him, I hope they come up with a more creative and plausible way for him to escape.

Following the recent criticism on Twitter on how he handled the finale of Lost, compared to the Breaking Bad finale, David Lindelof has left Twitter.

Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire hopes people remember the shutdown in the next election:

“I think the shutdown is ridiculous. I think the Republicans in Congress are holding the country hostage. I think it’s criminal. I don’t see why they’re allowed to do it.” Buscemi on politics livens up. “The Tea Party faction of the Republican party are holding the Republican party hostage. They’ve hijacked it. I don’t understand their philosophy. I think that in their own hearts and minds there’s a reason why they feel they’re doing good. But I certainly don’t agree with it. And I hope the shutdown effects change. I hope people remember this in the next cycle of elections.”

The assassination of the Vice President on  Homeland was not only plausible, but a scenario which Dick Cheney’s doctor had taken precautions against several years previously.

BBC America is going for even more genre:

BBC America has greenlit Intruders, an eight-episode original series based on Michael Marshall Smith’s 2007 novel The Intruders. Glen Morgan (The X-Files, Those Who Kill) is the writer and executive producer on the series that’s about a secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. BBC Worldwide Prods is producing, with production to begin in early spring 2014. Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner are exec producing, and BBC Worldwide is handling global distribution. The Intruders joins BBC America’s breakout original drama Orphan Black.

Community is returning to Thursday nights on January 2. Unfortunately, in terms of ratings, it goes up against The Big Bang Theory again. That’s why we have DVR’s.

The Workplace Proximity

This week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory included a break-out event for Sheldon Cooper. He was relieved to learn that the old adage about not defecating where you eat does not mean he shouldn’t use the men’s room at the Cheesecake Factory:  “Not as relieved as I’m about to be. It’s a brave new world, little lady.” Amy saw a bright spot in Sheldon’s incessant knocking: “I don’t mind. I’m hoping to put his love of repetition to use someday.” Meanwhile Raj got it right while watching Howard digging himself into quite a hole when talking to Bernadette: “His only options here are to fake a heart attack or have a real one.” She didn’t fall for it, especially when he chose the wrong arm.

I have often randomly pulled up old episodes of The Big Bang Theory to rewatch. It might be easier to choose which episode the next fifteen times I do this if I follow this guide to the top fifteen episodes. I may or may not wind up agreeing as to whether they are the fifteen best, but I’m sure they will all be excellent.

Also on last Thursday’s sit-coms, Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black added comedy to the many roles she plays on Parks and Recreation. She will return next week.

Parks and Recreation - Season 6

 

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Batman, Star Wars, JK Rowling, SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, Utopia, Breaking Bad

Doctor Who

The BBC has released the above poster for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, to be named The Day of The Doctor. It will be the second from last episode staring Matt Smith, also staring David Tennant and John Hurt.

Steven Moffat discussed filming the final episode with Matt Smith at the TV Choice Awards, where Doctor Who won for Best Drama Series. David Tennant won the Best Actor award for his role on Broadchurch. Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife won for Best Actress. (Jessica Raine,who plays Jennie Lee on Call the Midwife, played Emma Grayling in the Doctor Who episode Hide and has a role in the upcoming movie on the development of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.)

Peter Davison

Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While he has confirmed the appearance, he states he is unable to give any specifics. My suspicion is that he has a cameo role in the special but does not reprise his role as the Doctor unless the story can give a plausible explanation for showing a former version of the Doctor who has also aged. Pictures appeared on line of Tom Baker in his scarf starting rumors that he would also appear but it turns out it was to film a skit for another show.

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In follow-up of the controversy I mentioned last week, TrekMovie.com has posted another opinion arguing that Star Trek is Not  Broken. Those who are not happy with how J.J. Abrams is handling Star Trek might be happy to hear that he will not be directing the next Star Trek movie now that he will be busy with Star Wars. I fear that this won’t change many of the problems cited by fans but at least it might mean less lens flare.

There has been even more controversy over the choice of Ben Afflect to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. The CEO of Warner Brothers defended the choice, describing this Batman as “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while.”

Besides the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Disney is going to take advantage of buying the rights by putting out additional movies. Variety reports that they will be origin movies. There will be a lot of Star Wars as “one ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film or ‘origin story film’ would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”

Warner Brothers is returning to a recent major source of income for the studio. J.K. Rowling is going to write a new movie series taking place in the Harry Potter universe. After recently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I think she does have a better future in writing such movies then detective novels, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I read several far more entertaining novels over the summer, and there are plenty of similar mystery series already out there.

Grant Gustin of Glee will play The Flash on Arrow, and potentially on a spinoff show.

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Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gawker reports that some of the scripts were not very good and Joss Whedon had to rewrite them. The web site for the series is now on line.

The Detroit News reviews another new genre show, Sleepy Hollow. More on the show at TV Line.

ABC is working on an alternate reality series which sounds interesting. The show, entitled The Thirteen, takes place in an alternative present day in which the colonies did not win independence from England and are still fighting the English for independence.

Paul Krugman and John Amato both recommend Orphan Black, which I certainly agree with.

utopia

Utopia writer Dennis Kelly has discussed conspiracy theories, over population, and the second season of the series:

There’s going to be a second series of Utopia isn’t there?

There is. It’s currently being written. It’s being filmed in two months [speaking on the 22nd of August]. I’ve got two months before the first block. You film it in two blocks so episodes one, two and three, and then four, five and six. Marc Munden who directed one, two and three, and really set up the look for Utopia – and that’s what people talk about a lot when they talk about Utopia – he’s a brilliant director, more like a filmmaker than a TV director really, and he’s fantastic to work with. He’s come back and he’s going to do the first block again. He has a much more involved role in the whole series, which is great.

Can you give us any ideas about what series two might contain?

We’ve got a very odd first episode, which people are either going to really like or really say ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ and I’ve got no idea what the reaction’s going to be. Some of the characters are coming back, you’ll definitely see Arby again, and Jessica. There’s a lot of people dead unfortunately and a lot of people will die [laughs].

Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?

I think I do, I think so, yeah. Not necessarily a good one. [Laughs].

Luc Besson is interested in doing another movie in the world of The Fifth Element.

Trailer for Last Days on Mars posted here.

The cast of Dexter teased the finale.

Joking Bad, Jimmy Fallon’s parody of Breaking Bad, can be viewed above. The series ends this month. A spinoff is being considered based upon Saul Goodman before he became Walt’s lawyer. The Hollywood Reporter lists Saul’s top moments.

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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 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:

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Merlin Finale: Le Morte d’Arthur?

The BBC has released the above trailer for the final episode of Merlin, to air on December 25. As the fifth season hasn’t aired in the United States yet, this is sort of a spoiler, but since the Arthur legend is well know this shouldn’t totally ruin things for those who have not seen Season 5 yet.

The fifth season has not been the greatest mid season but last week’s episode leading into the two-part series finale was excellent. Radio Times says that this week’s episode, the first part of the two-part story concluding the series, The Diamond of the Day, is the best episode of the series so far:

Merlin_finale_part_1_preview____It_s_the_best_of_the_series_so_far_

To those who may have doubted Merlin in recent weeks, I say only this: watch the next episode. It’s a beauty, the best of the series so far.

Structurally and emotionally, it’s the most satisfying, and tees up the finale in ripping fashion. Writer and co-creator Jake Michie knows better than most what makes Merlin magic, and here he’s concocted a potent brew.

Yes, series five has gone walkabout from time to time, but in that respect it’s no different to any of the preceding four. And you could accuse almost any long-running drama of mid-season sag. Even the mighty Homeland!

So what happens in The Day of the Diamond Part 1? Well, without giving anything away, Morgana acts on the information that her new ally Mordred has supplied – that Merlin is actually sorcerer supreme Emrys.

It’s impossible to watch Merlin without occasionally thinking of Harry Potter. And that’s no criticism. But just as Lord Voldemort would dispatch his pet snake Nagini to do his dirty work, so Morgana employs a big, magic-sapping slug to take Merlin out of the equation.

In the bigger picture, M&M (Morgana and Mordred) are closing in on Camelot, so Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table must hatch a cunning plan to protect the kingdom.

It sounds straightforward on paper, but there are some juicy little side issues. Even loyal, mouthy Sir Gwaine (Eoin Macken) is given a little more to do than swish a sword.

There’s not quite enough for Gwen or Gaius to sink their teeth into ­– same old, same old – and the supposedly ruthless Morgana does (or rather doesn’t do) something a bit stupid. But these are minor complaints in the context of an episode that has such heart, and guts.

A surprising reappearance, one quiet moment of almost poetic sorcery, an invigorating, Henry V-style pep talk and some stirring incidental music complete the package. Enjoy!

 

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who News; Merlin; Inspector Spacetime; Saturn Awards; Mitt Romney and Porn

The trailer for the upcoming season of Doctor Who is out (video above). Dinosaurs on a space ship! Then there’s the question:

Who killed all the Daleks?”
“Who do you think?!”

An analysis of the trailer looking at multiple screen grabs (including the above one of the Doctor in Times Square) can be seen here. This certainly suggests that ate least part of episode 5 takes place in modern day New York.

Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor has been cast to play the villain Malekith The Accursed in Thor: The Dark World.

Tom Baker has posted this tribute to Mary Tamm on his website:

The dreadful news of Mary Tamm’s death amazed me. I had no idea she was ill. We got on terribly well and I admired her wit and style and warmth. We used to meet at different Who conventions and sometimes had time for a little chat. I remember meeting her at Heathrow in the 1st class section: her section, of course. She was flicking through a magazine and sipping a beer: the epitome of cool style.

When we first worked together her tales of her background (she’s from Estonia) kept me very amused. I think they spoke Estonian at home. She used to do an impression of her aunt, I think, who had been an opera singer. She had a marvellous trick of rapid asides which often had nothing to do with the main story but which convulsed us. I tried to copy this trick behind her back but it eluded me as most tricks have eluded me all my life. And that she is dead seems incredible.

Fate is capricious and quite indifferent to our fears. Lovely girls: Elisabeth Sladen, Caroline John and now Mary Tamm: all dead. And here am I closing in on eighty and all I’ve had was whooping cough! It’s not fair, is it? Actually, I also have a creaky knee. And probably a creaky brain.

I never met Mary’s daughter and hardly ever met Marcus, her husband. But I send them from the bottom of my old heart sincere condolences. To have known her consoles me a little: poor darling Mary, poor us.

A fan did quite a good job of colorizing this scene of the first Doctor, showing the final scene between the Doctor and Susan from The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

The Oxford Dictionaries have added Whovian (source)

 Whovian Pronunciation: /ˈhuːvɪən/
Definition of Whovian

noun

informal

a fan of the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who: as a fan from way back, Barrowman is well aware of just how passionate Whovians are about everything ‘Who’

Digital Spy has news on the upcoming season of Merlin:

Colin Morgan (Merlin), Katie McGrath (Morgana) and Angel Coulby (Gwen) spoke to Digital Spy about the new episodes, Gwen’s reign as Queen and the return of the dragons.

Morgan told Digital Spy that his young wizard character is in a “ruthless mode” in the next series.

“Merlin is becoming more ruthless, because he is becoming more solid in his beliefs,” said the 26-year-old. “He’s seeing things in a whole new way.”

Mordred – now played by Alexander Vlahos – will also return to the series, with McGrath suggesting that he and Morgana have an “unbreakable” bond.

“You can’t tell the story of Morgana without Mordred,” she explained. “They are interlinked, they are entwined, and from the very first episode [of series five], you see that.

Morgan added that the reappearance of Mordred is “the biggest threat there’s ever been” to Camelot and the reign of Arthur (Bradley James).

“Anyone who knows the Arthurian legend knows what Mordred is destined to do… so that is the biggest threat, that is the biggest force,” he hinted.

The next season jumps ahead three years with the characters now older.

Upon posting the above poster, Dan Harmon blogged “Holy crap this is really really really cool.” Harmon, who already received a script deal from Fox after being fired from Community, has now received a second deal from CBS.

Season two of The Hour doesn’t air until November but it is also receiving some publicity in the United States. Trailer for the series above.

Parenthood is getting a sixth actor from Friday Night Lights.  So far Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Derek Phillips, Angela Rawna and Jeff Rosick have appeared, and now Matt Lauria, who played  Luke Cafferty, has been cast.

The Saturn Awards came out last week. The full list is here with some of the awards listed below:

FILM AWARDS

Best Science Fiction Film:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Fantasy Film:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Best Horror/Thriller Film:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Action/Adventure Film:
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Best Actor:
Michael Shannon
Take Shelter

Best Actress:
Kirsten Dunst
Melancholia

Best Supporting Actor:
Andy Serkis
Rise of the Planet of the Apes 

Best Supporting Actress:
Emily Blunt
The Adjustment Bureau

Best Performance by a Younger Actor:
Joel Courtney
Super 8

Best Director:
J.J. Abrams
Super 8

Best Writing:
Jeff Nichols
Take Shelter

TELEVISION AWARDS

Best Network Television Series:
Fringe

Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series:
Breaking Bad

Best Television Presentation:
The Walking Dead

Best Youth-Oriented Television Series:
Teen Wolf

Best Actor on Television:
Bryan Cranston
Breaking Bad

Best Actress on Television:
Anna Torv
Fringe

Best Supporting Actor on Television:
Aaron Paul
Breaking Bad

Best Supporting Actress on Television:
Michelle Forbes
The Killing

Best Guest Star on Television:
Tom Skerritt
Leverage

Finally in entertainment news, Mitt Romney received the endorsement of porn star Jenna Jameson, who reportedly is worth $50 million, despite his history of supporting restrictions on pornography. Jameson explained her endorsement by saying, “When You’re Rich, You Want A Republican In Office.” If she was smarter she would understand that it is possible to make more money with a thriving economy when Democrats are in office.  While Mitt Romney has promised to keep porn off of computers, fortunately Mitt Romney’s promises don’t mean very much. Video report follows:

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